Tabletop Kickstarter Spotlight – March 2016

Tabletop Kickstarter Spotlight – March 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.

Town Squares

by Darren Ballingall


Town Squares is a strategic, tile placing games which sees 2-4 players compete for territorial dominance. The game begins with each player choosing one of the four coloured decks, shuffling it, and leaving the cards face down. Then, players simply take turns drawing and placing tiles, one at a time, until all are expended. There are five different types of cards – Sentinel, Market, Neighbourhood, Castle, and Tower – and each has special rules regarding placement and scoring. The size of the game grid will depend on the number of players and the only universal rule for placement is that all cards much touch sides with at least one other card. As the only game components are the cards and a small rulebook, Town Squares looks to be very compact.

Town Squares was created by Darren Ballingall, who has worked in the games industry for many years, and the mechanics of Town Squares evince his experience. The extremely fast turns – on par with other tile placing games, such as Carcassonne – as well as the scoring system, which is crafted in such a way that every turn has consequences for multiple players, leaves me feeling that a game of Town Squares would be both captivating and strategic.

Read more or back this project on Kickstarter 

Celtic Realm

by Will & Randy Miller

This project is as much about the preservation of history as it is making a tabletop game. Celtic Realm is an old game which father-son team Randy and Will Miller and trying to bring back to print. Originally created by Randy Miller in 1979, the game enjoyed local success, with all 1,000 handmade copies selling out. This project aims to bring the game to the rest of the world. Presently, there are no full gameplay video or rules explanation provided on the project page, however the historic success of Celtic Realms speaks of solid mechanics. The abstract description of gameplay explains:

Players use skill and chance to initiate and race their ‘angel and knot’ tokens through the Realm along a path that eventually clears them from the board. Along the way, players interact as their pieces encounter each other.

This, combined with the glimpses of gameplay that are gleaned during the Kickstarter video speak of abstract strategy mechanics similar to traditional games like chess and checkers.

It was Celtic Realm’s board that really caught my eye. The imagery comes from an ancient hand-illuminated manuscript – The Book of Kelts – and the imagery has been beautifully recreated in the hand-carved, wood-block print which serves as the game board. It’s hard to say what Celtic Realms will be like to play, but regardless of the mechanics, in backing this project you’ll be helping preserve a beautiful piece of history – and who doesn’t want to add that to their list of good deeds for the day?

Read more or back this project on Kickstarter 

Snowblind: Race for the Pole

by Pleasant Company Games

Snowblind has one of the more original themes I have seen in a tabletop game, being inspired by early twentieth century explorers as they strive to be the first recorded humans in history to reach the South Pole. In Snowblind, each player is represented by a country – Japan, Germany, Great Britain or Norway – and takes control of a group of crew, sailors, supplies and a captain. The game seems to possess more depth and layers than all other push-your-luck tabletop games that I’ve previously encountered. Instead of rolling all dice and then dealing with the results to perform certain actions, your turn consists of choosing which action to take during your turn, and rolling the relevant dice, with riskier actions leading to a higher chance of exposure – which you must check for regularly throughout the game. Example actions include moving crates, hunting for food, building camps and pressing forward. Once all players have taken their turn for the round, one card is drawn from the Weather Deck, and each player suffers exposure, as detailed on the card. Snowblind looks to be a great new entry into the push-your-luck genre, with bold, immersive art and an unconventional theme.

Read more or back this project on Kickstarter 

Inglorious Space

by Black Table Games

The aesthetics of Inglorious Space are impressive. Even before the game’s creators highlight their source of inspiration, it is obvious that this is a game inspired up retro shoot-em-ups, such as Galaga and Gradius. The mechanics of Inglorious Space look faithful to the game’s inspiration, with players taking on the role of space bounty hunters who must work co-operatively to eliminate waves of enemies. Although the players are on a ‘team’, in that they have a common enemy, the game is also competitive, with the player who has eliminated the most threats at the end of the game being crowned winner. The game is played on a grid, which can expand and contract to suit the number of players, and Command Decks are used to carry out actions during a turn. Upgrades appear as enemies are defeated, and the more difficult decks contain more ‘boss’ like opponents. I love the 80s arcade visuals of Inglorious Space, and the semi-cooperative nature of the mechanics look like great 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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