Microgaming It

Over the past few years we’ve seen board games slowly grow in size and price. For hobbyists, this is not such a concern, it is how we decide to spend our luxury funds, and if a more expensive game means a more stunning product, we are generally all for it. But there is a limit, and the number of games with top notch component quality and only mediocre play is on the rise, especially on Kickstarter.

Now I know what you’re thinking, here he goes again trash talking Kickstarter. Well, I’m not. I’m actually going to praise Kickstarter project creators for what I believe is finally a small indie movement. See, Kickstarter has really just been another avenue for publishing games and establishing a publishing company without innovating or offering any real alternatives to what we already have on the shelves. Kickstarter really just offers the same games with prettier bits. So fine, it’s a means for finding investors that is far easier and more reliable than good old fashioned pounding the pavement.

But now the site that typically offers style before substance is flipping the table. Now we are seeing creators attempt the opposite, packing as much game as possible in a small and somewhat flashless package and labeling it as a microgame. It feels a bit like an experimental movement, almost a challenge to designers, which is exactly what we really need crowd funding for. And maybe it will be too extreme, but like any artistic movement, we’ll learn some things from the attempt that should help refine the hobby.

Plenty of small games already exist, but what makes a microgame unique is the amount of strategy or forward planning involved. The designers on Kickstarter did not invent the category but they do seem to have coined the term for the genre. The classic game Citadels by Fantasy Flight was a microgame well before the term existed, and Hisashi Hayashi’s upcoming game through AEG, Sail to India, is an incredible looking microgame that did not need the help of Kickstarter to make its way to shelves. What feels independent and innovative with the current Kickstarter trend is the concerted effort by multiple designers. We’re not just seeing isolated incidents, we’re seeing a cluster of projects. Tasty Minstrel Games, who really sort of coined the term, has their very own cluster of truly microgames already funded on Kickstarter; here, here, and here.

In honor of the microgame movement, and because I detect some level of quality, Cloud Cap Games has officially backed two microgame Kickstarter projects: Tiny Epic Kingdoms and Oddball Aeronauts. Click on their names to give them a gander on the Kickstarter. You can back both of these games through us and receive 20% more in store credit. This means you will receive the fully stretched Kickstarter exclusive copies when they ship, and also get some Cloud Cap Bucks. We are halfway through our lot of Tiny Epic Kingdoms already, but through the month of February you can get the game for $24, with $5 in store credit, while supplies last. Oddball Aeronauts has a few weeks to go before the campaign ends, but we’ll keep our offer open through the month of March: $25 for the game with $5 in store credit.

While the current microgame trend is not entirely innovative, it is a movement that would be tough to push through normal publishing channels, which makes it ideal for Kickstarter. The microgame trend feels like a true indie movement, and I look forward to seeing and supporting even more experimentation in the crowd funding arena. Maybe microgames are just a fad, but I do hope that it helps realign modern game design by encouraging the development of great games in beautiful but affordable packages.

Happy gaming everyone, in whatever size you please!

Posted: February 18, 2014 at 7:48 pm
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