Hey everyone! I’m back! I had a great time doing archaeological work in Jordan, and I’ve settled into my new apartment. So back to keeping this baby going! I thought I’d start with some Kickstarter highlights to ease us back into activity, but a new review should hopefully come up next week. I have not been able to reply to any emails you guys might’ve sent yet, but I’ll get to them asap. So let’s have a look at some kickstarters shall we? This week I’ll be highlighting 5 games (instead of three, to make up for the downtime) whose campaigns will be ending soon: a game card game about the Donner Party stuck in the Sierra Nevada, a big co-op set in Victorian London, a quick card game about colonising Mars, a dark but funny game about creating and destroying families, and a classic Japanese abstract strategy made easy for beginners. So let’s go!
Stay Hungry: Donner Party
I think most of us have heard about the Donner Party and their gruesome faith in 1846. Yes, this is the group that got stuck in the snowy Sierra Nevada on their way to golden California, and resorted to murder and cannibalism. In the game Stay Hungry you have to get through the winter, keeping as many people alive and healthy as possible. This part is actually somewhat cooperative! At the same time you yourself want to get as many points as possible. Of course, the weather will always be against you. Maybe you’ll get a mild winter and won’t have to well, eat as many of your comrades as you feared. Or snow will just heap upon you and you’ll end up fighting for your life, against foes worse than the cold wind. An important part of this game is to balance your points with your shame. You want to survive, but what you do to survive might just be way too deplorable for you to win at the end, even if you come out on top so to speak. The game is for 2-5 players and takes 30-60 minutes to play.
The art is not really my taste, and the overall design of the cards is a bit busy. But it’s alright and it’s not bad – it’s just style. Some people will like it! But I do really enjoy the theme, and it’s all based on historical documents. Diaries were kept by some of the people involved in this tragedy, and this has translated to characters, action and event cards of the game. Each card comes with a bit of flavour text – either an excerpt from a diary, or a piece of information about the Donner Party and the fateful winter in the High Sierras. It’s such a dark game, but it still seems like a lot of fun.
There are only a couple days left on this campaign, with it ending October 12th. As of posting this they are just below their funding goal, so maybe help them push through to the finish line?
It’s 1899 and there are rumours of a secret plot in London, which seems to be threatening both Queen Victoria and your fair country! In the cooperative game Victoriana you try to figure out who the mastermind behind the plot is, what they are planning to do, and where – all before Big Ben chimes midnight and time runs out! It’s an intricate game for 1-4 players (yes, it has solo possibilities!) that takes 45-90 minutes to play. Together you’ll be finding clues and gather resources, while moving around victorian London fighting evil henchmen and trying to avoid suffering too much trauma.
This is a large game which also means a higher price point. If I didn’t have to save money right now I would’ve backed this for sure. It’s right up my alley. The game looks absolutely gorgeous – from board to card art. I’m a sucker for good co-ops, the theme is really neat, and I really like the idea of mixing real life victorian people with famous fictional characters. Overall it seems like good fun with lots of tension and beautiful art.
The campaign ends on October 13, and they’re already in the stretch goal zone. So let me live vicariously through you and back this!
It’s about time that we settle on Mars, and you have been appointed Mission Director. But the thing is – it is a race! There are more Mission Directors, and you all want to be first to colonise the red planet. In the simple card game Mars 4:45 all of you Mission Directors play simultaneously. There are no turns. So yes, this is a speed game, in which you have to keep up the energy for about 25-30 minutes. But what wouldn’t you do to win the race to Mars? The game is for 2-4 players, or if you also get the B deck: 2-8 players. Everyone has their own colour of deck, so you need as many unique decks as there are players.
The core of the gameplay, as I understand it, reminds me a lot of Skip-Bo but with a nice theme and gorgeous art. Yep, I absolutely love the artwork in this game. It really is what sells it for me. Of course this isn’t just some speed Skip-Bo with a cool space theme. It has a few more things to think about and an interesting point system with a bit of sabotage possible, which could be good fun. Overall it seems like a fun and easy game, as long as you’re okay with simultaneous speed play!
This campaign will be running until October 15, and they’re a bit short of their goal currently. So why not jump aboard this space ship during their last week? You can actually expect a review of this game from me eventually!
Families, love ’em or hate ’em! In this game it’s a case of lovingly building your own family, and horribly destroying and killing your opponent’s. Family Plot is a set collecting game with a good heap of take-that action. You will each receive a unique family tree, which is kept secret. This is what you are aiming for – complete your family and you win the game! But of course is not as simple as hoping you get enough boy children and old grannies. No no, because everyone is trying to steal your babies and kill your family off! And of course, you’re trying to do the very same to them. Added to that you have weird modifier cards that can change your family. Why not turn your uncle into a cat, or make grandma into a grandpa? And of course there’s always the risk of a food fight breaking out, but isn’t that the case at all family gatherings?
I think the game looks like heaps of fun. The artwork is quirky, dark, and fun – in the same vein as the ever so popular Munchkin I’d say. You just gotta love cards like Pepper Ann, the soulless ginger and Darth Poodle, lord of the sniff. Personally I enjoy to be able to break out some fun card games every now and then, and this theme is just perfect. Dark and funny, just the way I like it. Set collecting is a mechanic I really enjoy, and I think a lot of you do too. And take-that mechanics always adds a nice competitive edge to any game.
This campaign will run until October 15. It is fully funded now and working on the stretch goals. So why not help this macabre game get even bigger and weirder?
In these Kickstarter highlight posts I like to give you a bit of variety, so I thought I’d feature a very classic game this week. Shogi is an ancient Japanese abstract strategy game, which means it’s in the same group as Chess and Go (although those games of course did not originate in Japan). It’s a game for two players and is deeply strategic with loads of possibilities and almost no chance of a game ending in a tie. The thing the duo behind this kickstarter is doing is to make Shogi easier for beginners. The pieces feature both kanji (one form of Japanese writing) and arrows that show how the pieces can move. This way the rules should be very easy to learn. They are making the pieces standard size and shape so that if you are already into Shogi, but want a set that is easier to teach with, this will still fit standard boards. The pieces will be made from engraved wood which should be beautiful, durable, and pleasant to handle.
Now I must say that this is not my cup of tea at all. I even wrote a post earlier this year about my dislike for abstract strategy. But I know that a lot of you out there absolutely love it, and I think that this version of Shogi would be great if you have never tried it before. I like the idea of having the movement on the pieces itself, as it would make it easier to learn for beginners. While they don’t have any finished pieces to show with the final design, their previous prototype is beautiful and I wouldn’t expect anything less of the finished one. So if you like classic abstract strategy games, why not try this one?
This campaign ends on October 21, and they have just surpassed their funding goal!
If you want me to play your Kickstarter game (be it prototype or finished, but I can’t really do PnP due to lack of printer) and review it fully, I would very happily do so! Please use the Contact Form to get in touch, and I’ll get back to you real soon.