Tabletop Kickstarter Spotlight – January 2016

Tabletop Kickstarter Spotlight – January 2016

Crowdfunding is great – a way for creatives to avoid the hassle of publishing companies and other bureaucratic obstacles, instead simply making what they want and delivering it to fans. And I am not the only one who thinks so. Over the last few years, the crowdfunding phenomenon has exploded, with sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Pozible becoming flooded with projects. To help you wade through this flood, I will share with you my pickings from the Tabletop section of Kickstarter, in the hope of providing an interesting and varied sample of projects you may find exciting.

Vasty Wilds

by Chuck Stover


Vasty Wilds is a card-based, map-building board game in which small forest creatures compete to obtain their objectives before the other creatures. Vasty Wilds stands out largely because of its modular board. Initially, the base mechanic of the game seem very similar to that of Carcassonne, however, the games play quite differently. A game of Vasty Wilds begins with players setting up the roots of the forest, using the Root Cards which are modular, just like the rest of the game’s cards. This means that not only will every game of Vasty Wilds be different, even your starting base of play will be different each time. Then, instead of simply drawing one tile and placing it, as in Carcassonne, in Vasty Wilds players always have a hand of three cards to choose from. Not only do new cards expand the board, they also have both Progress Effects and Misfortune Effects provided upon them. When a card is placed, first the Progress Effect is resolved, then the Misfortune. This makes the game seem highly competitive, with players constantly affecting their opponent’s ability to reach their objectives.

Vasty Wilds looks to be about the same complexity as a Euro game such as Catan or Dominion, but it is hard to tell if the depth of strategy is present from the Kickstarter page alone. What is for sure is that the game’s modular nature and originality in design looks highly promising. Vasty Wilds also scores points for its art, which totally blew me away. As there is no artist credited on the project page, and Stover lists his occupation as an arts, I can only assume that he created it all himself. The colourful, whimsical images depict an array of anthropomorphic forest creatures in a style that calls to mind stained glass, the magical quality of children’s book illustrations and the art of Mouse Guard. This map-building race game looks like a little gem.

Read more or back this project on Kickstarter 

Control: A Strategic Card Game

by Keymaster Games

Control is a 2-4 player, quick, strategic card game that is being designed and distributed by Mattox Shuler, a typeface designer, and Kyle Key an illustrator. I make a point of highlighting this because the combination of Kyle and Mattox’s expertise are showcased brilliantly in the design of Control, and it was the striking design of the game that first drew me to it. Once I heard the short pitch describing the gameplay – that is, that Control aims to be a gateway game somewhere between serious trading card games like Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone, and really accessible titles, like Love Letter – I was sold. That, plus the fact that the game’s theme is time travel. In Control, players take on the role of time travellers, but the fabric of space-time has become ruptured, leaving all players stranded outside time, with their time machines out of fuel. The cards represent fuel cells and the first player to reach a fuel cell count of 21 wins. Although a game of Control is quite short (5-15 minutes), there looks to be a range of ways to play the game, making it satisfyingly tactical. Each turn, players have the option to either focus on building their own store of fuel or sabotaging others. The polish present in Control is impressive, in terms of illustration and design, mechanics and rules clarity. It looks like quick, strategic, time-travel-y fun.

Read more or back this project on Kickstarter 


by Hemisphere Games

Karmaka is a highly stylised, tactical card game for 2-4 players. The way that the game’s theme permeates both the narrative and the mechanics looks impressive. At the centre of Karamaka is samsara – the Buddhist concept of the cycle of rebirth. You begin the game as a lowly dung beetle, one of the simplest life forms, and must work to accumulate points in order to be reborn as a more complex, enlightened lifeform in your next life, with the first person to reach transcendence being the winner. During every turn in Karmaka you must pay careful attention to not one, but three important considerations: accumulating points, so that you can continue your climb up the karmic ladder, stashing cards for use in future lives and playing cards for their abilities. This last option will work to grant you advantages or hinder your competition in some way – however, whenever you use cards in this fashion, competing players have the option of keeping the card you used against them for use in a future life. So malicious actions in Karmaka are almost certain to come back to bite you. Karmaka seems playful, tactical and original. With gorgeous artwork and thematic mechanics, I have a lot of faith that doing the good deed of backing this Kickstarter would only deliver you positive karma.

Read more or back this project on Kickstarter 


by Tim Page

Toast is a 2-12 player social deduction game that truly looks like nothing I’ve ever played. You can tell that you’re in for something very different with Toast thanks simply to an image of the components, which includes goblets, ‘napkins’ and a pool of poison, antidote and wine tokens. Much like Coup, The Resistance and Tavern Fame, Toast is a social deduction game, meaning that it relies, to a large extent, on your ability to bluff, misdirect and read the moods and reactions of other players. In Toast, you play as a member of the aristocracy of Otravia attending a dinner party. Naturally, in order to improve your claim to the throne, you plan to spend your evening poisoning all your most dangerous rivals.

During each round of play, the goblets are arranged in front of players in such a fashion that none can see their contents. Then, players take turn secretly placing wine, poison or antidote tokens into the goblets, using their special character abilities, or switching the goblets around. Each player has a secret goal to accomplish, and each round of the game is ended by a player calling for the Toast, at which point all players must ‘drink’ from their goblet and discover whether or not they have been poisoned. Like all social deduction games, the more you are invested in Toast, the more fun it is likely to be. I can easily see my friends who enjoy LARP (live action role playing) really having fun with this one. A plethora of tabletop party games have been cropping up on Kickstarter ever since the success of Cards Against Humanity and Toast stands out as one of the few that looks like great, original fun.

Read more or back this project on Kickstarter 

Since first travelling to Japan at the age of fifteen, most of my life has revolved around trying to learn Japanese, and unravel the mysteries of the country’s culture. Gaming ranks just behind this obsession. I enjoy video games – particularly RPGs and Strategy – but my main interest is in tabletop role playing games and board games. Writing ranks third – luckily I get plenty of opportunities to write about Japan and games, so it all works out.

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