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Zerbique KS backs Q4 2021

(The post was written on the 31st of December, 2021)

Last quarter of the year! Last chance to unleash the madness and to pledge far too many KS projects!

It started with ThreeTale. Now ThreeTale is the kind of game I like to back. It’s Fantasy, it’s indie, it’s an Adventure game with not too many rules, some dice chucking, lots of character progression, an actually interesting theme (Bulgaria-inspired myths and folklore), well, it checks most of the usual boxes. Yet I’m only in for $1, with serious doubts regarding upping my pledge. First of all, going with the expansion (and there is no conceivable alternative) ends up with a grand total of €100, shipping not factored in, which is definitely expensive. Second, the early reports have said that the game is too hard. It plays in two phases, the Past phase where you build your character, and the Future phase where you go against some special threat, but the latter apparently proves too harsh in most cases (hey, designers, remember, most people play Fantasy adventure games to be heroes and save the world, not to learn how to ‘grok’ a clever system so, please, let us save the world often enough so we can feel good). To fix this, the designers implemented some rules patch, but it feels like a nastily plastered bandage put on the rules, and it made me wary. [EDIT: nearly one month later as I’m reviewing the post): it just came to my notice that Philibert will offer a way to late pledge, so the odds for me to get it turned over from waning to near certainty.]

Then I backed Dungeons of Draggmar. I’m not too sure why honestly. It looks to be a game that plays itself; you draw plenty of random cards to form your party of heroes, then you reveal dungeon cards one after the other and see if the party survives. Doesn’t look much clever to me. Which is precisely the reason I got it. Some days I’m tired, and I feel torn: I want to play a board game, but I don't have the strength for it, so something that emulates playing a board game without requiring any meaningful input on my part may actually be precisely what I need.

I also got Snapshot. I was playing Monster Expedition at the time, but I was bothered by both the theme and the mechanics. Snapshot seems to fix both, with a cuter theme (take photographs of wildlife) and more leeway in how you use the dice. The whole thing looked pretty nice and neat, and when they revealed the solo mode and the “bot” system, it looked actually really convincing, so they won my pledge on that.

Next, the end of November came, and it was time for this year’s biggest decision: what to make of my $1 pledge for The Witcher:The Old World? (Seriously, I pondered over it for months.) I already knew I would at least get the core game. It seemed like a great deal, and I had been enthralled with the KS campaign. But you know how I am, completionist and all, always getting all expansions of a game before even trying it… Yet here the All-In was reaching 250€ or something, and it didn’t sound quite sensible. I just don’t want to own a board game that costs that much. So, for possibly the first time ever, I only went with one expansion (Legendary Hunt, adding big “boss” monsters to end the game with an epic fight). The other two would have added 75$ to an already expensive pledge, while adding very little contents I could seriously believe I’ll ever want to play eventually. Now I’m super proud for having got rid of the shackles of completionism for that one.

Speaking of $1 pledges, I made lots of them. I’m not likely to ever up them. Power Plants. Fractal. Star Fighters: Rapid Fire. Heroes of the Shire. The tower defense card game of the Valeria line. Now there are two that I’m hesitant about: Snake: The Board Game, because I like board game adaptations of arcade games, as you may know already, and the Realm of Shadows collection of solo games by Barrett Publishing. I’ll probably go with the former, it does look fun and silly, and it features a solo mode to justify getting it, but for the latter I’m a bit undecided. The games look good and a sure fit to my gaming orientations, I certainly want to try them for a game night or two, but they don’t sound something I’m willing to pay $50 for and whatever VAT and shipping fees on top of that to get the opportunity to see how they play out. [EDIT one month later: the shipping fees for Snake end up being as much the game, which is 35€. Pass.]

Moving on in December, I pledged for three games, starting with Call to Adventure. This one is a bit of a boring tale, I was sure to get it as soon as I had heard of it, so no surprise here. The KS campaign was fine and engaging, but the amount of possible add-ons had my head spin a bit, so I’m not sure what I’ll end up with in the end. They are all nice add-ons, but the game is, in the end, nothing but a simplistic filler, so not something I’d necessarily feel good spending too much money on for deluxe upgrades. I pledged for Magic Sword Tactics, a very indie Japanese game of Tower Defense [EDIT: and have already received it in the meantime]. Being one of the meager 30 backers of it makes me feel truly special, which is all the point of backing these weird games from afar after all. Finally, I grabbed Nine-Minute Kingdom. It seems fun enough, and it was really cheap for once, with a decent amount of contents nonetheless. I like tile-laying and spatial puzzles, so the game seemed a sure fit to my tastes.

In addition (because it never stops piling up), I pledged for a few other non-solo games, beginning with the impossibly cute Yura Yura Penguin, a dexterity game that has enough adorable penguin meeples to make me forget that I simply hate dexterity games. And just to make it a tradition, I backed a few indie Japanese trick-taking games (I have way more trick-taking games than I have opportunities to play them, you can be sure of that), namely Zombie & Zilches, American Bookshop, and Cinderella’s Dance.

Oh but wait… We’re on the 31st, the year is not quite over, time for a very last pledge! I actually purchased someone’s else pledge on that day for Hizuru, a game that flew completely under our radars here at Solitaire Times, by Japanese designers Seiji Kanai and Masato Uesugi, no less! It’s a soloable rogue-lite, in which losing the game is part of the loop, as your characters get a bit stronger each time you restart. I’m delightfully intrigued, outraged that I might have missed it, and relieved that a solution to fix that kind of presented itself. It’s a very nice deal to conclude a rich and intense Kickstarter year!

*all images come from BoardGameGeek

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