Our August vacations, both planned and unplanned, are now over, and we’re getting back into the swing of things, just in time because the new games are flooding us. I’m going to try and talk a bit more about those on friday.
Right now though, I want to discuss 2 things: the change in feeling toward Kickstarter and my unexpected love affair with Krosmaster Arena.
So when this whole Kickstarter thing got going for board games, everyone was excited, including me. Alien Frontiers and Eminent Domain were two games that sprang to life via crowdfunding, and I still thoroughly enjoy both of them. In fact, Alien Frontiers is absolutely my favorite Kickstarter game to date. Trouble is, those two games were released over 2 years ago.
Since those releases, we’ve seen a few years of, in my opinion, pretty lackluster games. As a retailer, the past few years of Kickstarter titles are largely no-sellers, but even worse, as a consumer I have found nothing of value to fund.
While I grew increasingly bitter about Kickstarter titles during the past few years, it seemed like everyone else was frantically spending more than their paycheck on every title that popped onto the site, especially anything with miniatures. Even worse, my favorite podcasts were overrun by announcements for new Kickstarter games, and the podcasters were slobbering over how awesome a game looked. I heard almost nothing about how the games played though, largely because none of them were produced yet.
I have felt strangely out of place. I felt guilty about my lack of interest in new Kickstarter projects (which, by the way, was nearly one per day last year). It felt a bit like being in a sci fi or zombie movie where most people turn into slaves to some corporation or infection, but some are able to resist, just to feel very out of place and vulnerable.
Presently, the mood is shifting though. The number of Kickstarter projects that go wrong is increasing, and backers may not receive a refund on their investment. Also, many kickstarter products are finally hitting gamer’s tables, and more and more I am hearing a sense of disappointment after playthroughs. Podcasters are actually now encouraging listeners to hesitate on purchases, or just not fund games. One of my favorite podcasters has now vowed to stop funding games entirely. Even the organizer of a list of top ten Kickstarter titles sounded a little sad when he posted this:
“I am no longer keeping up with this geeklist. I am not interested in Miniature games and since the top ten has been taken over by them this list no longer interests me.” (Despite his disappointment, Kickstarter has positively changed the landscape of the miniatures game market by broadening our choices).
This mood swing feels dramatic to me, it has almost happened overnight. I expected the current attitude to take shape much earlier, but now I realize that it could not because no one had actually played the games they funded. Thousands of dollars had been spent by backers but they had no idea of the true value of their investment. Now many are discovering that they overvalued the products. The games they received are not bad, just maybe not worth the hype, and not worth spending that $10-20 extra per game to get a few extra fancy bits for a game that won’t get played much.
Many Kickstarter games receive high ratings, but I feel they are being compared only to other kickstarter games. A game may get a 7, but in the grander scheme its really a 5, and that 7 rating often just helps with the sense of sadness we feel for funding something we don’t want to play more than once.
The new attitude is healthy. I am not against Kickstarter, but it needs to be viewed and treated accurately. Kickstarter is primarily a tool for people with no professional experience to produce products. Despite the awesome graphics, cool minis, and sometimes flashy videos, the game designs are generally coming from amateurs, people ust like you and me. How many people at your game night have told you that they are working on a game, nearly everyone right? Well that’s who we’re funding. This isn’t a terrible thing, but I am glad that the current mood is shifting towards more serious contemplation before funding a project.
I feel we have some responsibility as investors to weed out the flops. The recent dissapointments and failures are making us better at this. I hope that we can reach, or even surpass, the level of scrutiny that publishers apply.
Having said all this, I am now smitten with a game that by all accounts I should never have purchased for myself. The game is Krosmaster Arena. It is a Kickstarted game, a tactical miniatures game, and a Japanime game, all serious red flags for me. But after playing the tutorials with Mrs. Cloud Cap during our unplanned stay in crappy motels, I am in love, and I will be recklessly adding expansions to my copy of the game. The rulebook shows off deluxe versions of the terrain and special critters used in the game, completely uneccessary, but I want them all because I really think it will add to the already awesome gaming experience.
The game is definitely tactical, but with the luck of dice. In addition to the gameplay, the colors and characters are extremely appealing. I have not yet played a full game, and it will be a pretty long game, but I cannot wait to pull it out.
Whatever your gaming tastes, I recommend giving Krosmaster a try, which will be easier once we get our rental copy. together.
Happy Gaming everyone!