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One of Raine's biggest hobbies has always been gaming. It all started with an Atari and spread out to Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: the Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons. As an artist, Raine takes pride in painting models for games as well as making his own terrain. He's also been a writer for many years, working both in the journalism industry and writing pieces of fiction. He decided to create Initiative : Tabletop as a platform to talk about all things gaming that he simply thought were cool, and reviewing games became a part of it!

Guest Post: The Plan – Part 5: Co-Ops & Kickstarters

Another week gone by and the Plan continues without any major issues.  Three games finished bring the total to 88 remaining.  I thought about giving you my percentage done or some such, but I’d be a fool to think that I wouldn’t be buying any games this year (like the games I funded on Kickstarter that will be here sometime). Without further ado, on to the games.

Alien Frontiers - playing a four-player game with the expansion using the components from the Kickstarter campaign.

Alien Frontiers – playing a four-player game with the expansion using the components from the Kickstarter campaign.

The first game played was Alien Frontiers.  This is a fantastic worker placement that use dice as your workers. On your turn you roll your “ships” (dice) and depending on what you roll, you can place them on different spots on the board.  Each die placed, you gain resources and use those resources (and additional dice) to place colonies onto the planet.  Once a player places their final colony on the planet, the game ends.  Players have a final chance to score victory points due to agenda cards (thanks to an expansion) and the person with the most VPs is the winner.  This game wasn’t the first game that used dice as workers, but it is definitely the one that people remember.  Maybe that’s due more to the uproar using Kickstarter than any actual mechanic? Don’t sell this one short though; it was funded for a reason!

Pandemic - In the blink of an eye, you can find yourself in big trouble!

Pandemic – In the blink of an eye, you can find yourself in big trouble!

Following on that game was Pandemic.  Definitely not the first cooperative board game in the world but it is definitely the one that brought cooperative board games to the forefront in recent years.  Players are members of the CDC (Center of Disease Control) that are working against time to stop 4 viruses from taking over the world.  Game play and the rules are simple to teach making it a long time favorite. This has fallen down on my cooperative list compared to other co-op games out there since your turn can be pretty straightforward. It was still fun to play and wouldn’t turn a game of it down. I really need to take a look at the updated edition so I can see how the new expansions work.

Yomi - A card game where fighters battle it out!

Yomi – A card game where fighters battle it out!

The final game was Yomi – this is a two player card game simulating an epic battle between two “street fighters”.  Each turn, both player choose a single card and reveal them.  Using a paper-rock-scissors mechanic to determine which move (attack, throw, dodge or block) is successful. Players continue to play cards until one character is at zero hit points.  If that was the only mechanic it would bore quickly, but this game has a couple of additional rules that really set it apart.  Players may build combos once an initial attack or throw hits combining the damage from all the played cards that the opponent can’t really stop.  Combine that with a power up mechanic to find your powerful ace cards (each character deck is has 54 cards complete with jokers) and you have a fairly strategic game in a small box.  I own the complete first edition of decks (10 in all) and haven’t felt the need to look if any additional characters have been produced. It suffers from the two player dilemma (more foreshadowing?).

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Kickstarter after playing Alien Frontiers.  Kickstarter for those that don’t know (honestly, doesn’t everyone know what it is these days) is a website where you can get people to fund your project before any real costs occur.  Everything to films, clothing, books and games can be funded through this website. If you have an idea but need funding, you can start of project with a monetary goal in mind within a given timeframe.  If enough people back your project, the campaign is successful and Kickstarter (an Amazon company) gives you the money minus their cut so you can produce your product.

Why does this matter? Well, the ‘first’ board game that was crowd funded by Kickstarter was Alien Frontiers.  Who would have thought a game could be produced entirely through Kickstarter backers and not some large publisher?   The idea of backing a good game isn’t new by any means – GMT had been doing their P500 list for years (their pre-order system that allowed GMT to determine which game they should produce next). Once Alien Frontiers determined that anyone with a good game could get the funding they needed to produce and publish it, the floodgates were opened.  Even those people who scorned the Kickstarting process at first finally began talking about the games found on the site.  Heck, a couple even went and used it to fund their own games.  Gaming Podcasters, gaming reviewers and even major publishers are now using Kickstarter to fund projects.  There are at least ten board games on the site looking for funding at any given time.

To date, I have never had a Kickstarter campaign that didn’t deliver the product.  Some months (and sometimes years) after they said they would deliver perhaps, but I have never been stiffed.  That said, I am an impulse gamer by heart and the thought of waiting until August of 2014 for a game I funded in December 2013 (I’m looking at you Shadows of Brimstone) has me cringing inside. So why do I still back games on Kickstarter?  Well, the stretch goals are normally enough to make me decide to fund the project.

So, I have backed a total of 23 board games (I am waiting for a total of 6 at the moment) using the Kickstarter website. I have sold off three of those Kickstarted games already deciding that after a couple of plays, the game just wasn’t for me.  About once a week (normally right after I get an update from one I backed or one I’m backing), I go and take a look through the games to see if I should back any of them.  Right now, I am only backing a single game called Heroes Wanted (I’m looking to play it on Saturday while at Who’s yer Con). Probably after finishing this, I will see if anything catches my eye.

Until next time – Kickstart like no one is watching!

Brendan Mayhugh


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  1. Today in Board Games Issue #136 - War of Kings - Today in Board Games - February 20, 2014

    […] Guest Post: The Plan – Part 5: Co-Ops & Kickstarters – Initiative: Tabletop […]

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