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Fall 2013 Editorial

Getting a Kick out of Kickstarter

 

When it comes to getting games to market, one of the recent intriguing developments is the emergence of Kickstarter. Now Kickstarter is not limited to games (it has been used to fund a whole variety of items) but, as it pertains to games, it basically involves pledging money for a proposed game that appeals to you. For your advanced support, you are rewarded by receiving the game before anyone else and, depending on how much you have pledged, getting an assortment of bonuses which can range from nicer pieces (metal coins, for example, instead of cardboard), multiple copies of the game in question, even additional games from a company’s line. It’s an interesting trend but I have mixed feelings about it.

From a publisher’s standpoint, it’s always a good idea to know that there is a receptive market for your product. Years ago, in the halcyon SPI days, Strategy & Tactics, their flagship wargaming publication, would routinely present to their readers lists of possible games they would produce IF feedback justified their production. More recently, several wargame companies (GMT Games, for example) have embarked on P500 programs where they would present possible games to their prospective customers and when (if) orders for these games reached a certain level (say 500), the game would actually go into production. Kickstarter takes this trend one step farther.

With Kickstarter, literally anybody can offer a game to the public and solicit financial support. All you need is a good idea, a handsome video and a convincing argument to get potential customers to commit some cold hard cash to your speculative venture.

Now there’s a lot to like about this. In today’s games market, when so many small companies have been absorbed by the toy and game giants, such an alternative is welcome for designers and fledging companies, an alternate route to success for games that, under ordinary and traditional circumstances, would never have seen the light of day. It’s a welcome trend for game buyers too. It offers more choices and more choices for the consumer is something I always support. Many games of quality have made it to the gaming table through this method. But before we wax too poetic about this, there is another side to this story.

The “dark side” of Kickstarter is one that strikes me as fundamental: the risk of game production is shifted from the game publisher onto the customer. Back in the day, a game company would (hopefully) not only get a game design from a talented designer but develop it to insure that the finished product is commercially viable. When a company’s money is on the line, they tend to go the extra mile. When the risk is on YOU, the customer, the forces at work here change. The game you end up with might be similar to the cake an inexperienced chef ends up with: half-baked and unable to “rise” to the occasion. Unless the game being promoted via Kickstarter is a reissue of one you’ve always wanted (and in that case, you have a bit more insight into what you’re getting yourself into), you’re basing your support of the game on what you feel, suspect and hope a game will be. Now if you like the designer, then the odds shift more towards your favor. If you have faith in the company, then the risk may be lessened as well. But it is still a risk. After all, money pledged is money spent and there is no guarantee as to the quality of the finished product or even when the game will appear. You could very well be tying up your funds for months or even years, in some unfortunate cases, forever!

It is a kick to see new games hit the market and new designers getting a chance to show what they can do. But you have to be careful that the kick you get from Kickstarter doesn’t end up a kick in the head, a kick so hard that it leaves a dent in your wallet.

This issue of GA Report launches our 28th year and this issue is packed! This time around, we find ourselves in flux, volcanoes erupt, build an empire in eight minutes and, once again, dinosaurs roam the Earth! Chris Kovac does as the Romans do while Andrea “Liga” Ligabue takes a Japanese road trip. Eric Brosius is in rebellion, Derek Croxton rolls the dice, Pevans checks out the suburbs and Joe Huber gets steamed! Plus first time contributor James Davis rules! And, of course, much more!
Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President


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Fall 2013 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by: Eric Brosius (Academy Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 1 to 2 hours, $65) In 1775, tensions that had been simmering between Great Britain and its North American colonies for years finally came to a head. A British force left Boston with orders to seize munitions from the Massachusetts militia —a mission they could not complete after they encountered opposition ...
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Reviewed by: Chris Kovac (Zoch Verlag, 3-5 players, ages 12 and up, about 90 minutes, $54.99) Aquileia is a five player worker placement with a light ancient Rome theme designed by Cielo D’Oro and produced by Zoch. The object of the game is to have the most victory points after six rounds of play. To start, each player gets in his/her color five worker markers, ...
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Reviewed by: Derek Croxton (Tasty Minstrel Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, 15-30 minutes, $19.95) Dungeon Roll is my first Kickstarter game. I seem to have a weakness for dice games, so I pledged this one with little more to go on than the subject. It turned out to be a heavily-promoted game that was at the top of BoardGameGeek's "Hotness" list ...
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Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Red Raven Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 13 and up, 8+ minutes; $25) Packing a lot into a small box is something usually reserved for diamonds or other expensive bits of jewelry. In games, it's not quite so easy. So it is a pleasant surprise to discover Eight-Minute Empire, a new game designed by Ryan Laukat, which packs quite a ...
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Getting a Kick out of Kickstarter When it comes to getting games to market, one of the recent intriguing developments is the emergence of Kickstarter. Now Kickstarter is not limited to games (it has been used to fund a whole variety of items) but, as it pertains to games, it basically involves pledging money for a proposed game that appeals to you. For your advanced ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Looney Labs, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 15-30 minutes, $30) It seems the trend in gaming is to come up with a successful boardgame, let's say Game X (easier said than done, of course), and, building upon that success, spin off Game X into Game X: The Dice Game and Game X: The Card Game. But when has designer Andrew ...
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Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Hurrican Games, 3 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, about 30 minutes, $42.99) The time is Victorian England and noted explorer Henry Morton Stanley (of Stanley and Livingstone fame), who has sailed into London on his ship Lady Alice, has suddenly disappeared. In circumstances such as these, it is only natural to call upon the finest analytical mind to solve ...
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[In this issue, we welcome James Davis to our pages. As James says about James: "James is of “that age” where he was a gamer before gaming became cool and hip. (Do they say “hip” anymore? Probably not.) Being a colossal nerd, he played many of the old Avalon Hill wargames and the original D & D before it got weird(er). He still likes many ...
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Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Schmidt Spiele, 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, about 30 minutes, $42.95) Reiner Knizia has earned himself an enviable reputation for quality game design. Over the last several years, the trend in his design preferences has been to move away from the heavy, gamers' games style with the shift being towards quality games conceived to appeal to more general ...
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Reviewed by: Joe Huber (Ystari/Asmodee, 2 to 5 players, ages 13 and up, 60 minutes, $34.99) For me, one of the unexpected aspects of becoming more heavily involved in the boardgaming hobby has been the opportunity to spend time with and become friends with a lot of game designers. But, as enjoyable as that has been particularly in discussing game design with them, there's another ...
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Reviewed by: Pevans (Beziar Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, about 90 minutes, $59.99) It’s taken me a while to get to Suburbia as Bezier Games sold out at Spiel ’12 – good news for designer and publisher Ted Alspach, but bad news for me. Mind you, it was my own fault as it wasn’t until the Sunday that I got to Bezier’s stand ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Victory Point Games, 1 player, ages 12 and up, about 40 minutes; $29.95) It seems that every four years, timed to coincide with the real life election for President of the United States, election games miraculously appear, some good, some bad, some too horrible to be named. This election year runs true to form. Most election games (and I am tempted ...
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Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Mayfair Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-90 minutes, $35) Klaus-Jürgen Wrede is probably best known for Carcasonne, the wildly popular tile laying game (featured in the Summer 2001 GA Report) that has gone on to spawn a host of spin-offs. But this designer's portfolio is more than a single game. Nearly a decade ago, Wrede found his ...
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Reviewed by: Andrea "Liga" Ligabue (FunForge, 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, 45 minutes, $39.99) Antoine Bauza shines like a new star in the Olympus of game designers. In just 3 years, he has been able to win Spiel des Jahres, Kennerspiel des Jahres, DSP, International Gamers Award and an endless amount of other awards. Of course most of his fame is due ...
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Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Kayal/Eagle Games, 2 to 6 players, ages 8 and up, 90-120 minutes, $74.99) Dinosaurs live! At least they reappear here as players seek to grow their single herd of dinos into the dominant force on prehistoric Earth in Peter Hawes' new game: Triassic Terror. Triassic Terror is played on a large board depicting four environments: Swamp, Desert, Forest and Mountains. Each of ...
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