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Getting Fancy with Robinson Crusoe, and Bringing Flamethrowers to Normandie

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Crowdfunding is a regular part of business for many game publishers these days, but given the number of projects hitting Kickstarter, I'm not surprised to see publishers taking new approaches with their crowdfunding efforts, whether that's offering incentives prior to funding, taking projects in house, or heading elsewhere.

Portal Games is using two of these approaches for Robinson Crusoe: Collector's Edition, a "new and enhanced deluxe version" of Ignacy Trzewiczek's Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island that will be crowdfunded on Gamefound, which launched itself in December 2020 with a hugely successful campaign for ISS Vanguard from Awaken Realms. (Gamefound previously served as a pledge manager tool for crowdfunding projects that were run on Kickstarter, and on March 4, 2021 it wrapped its second original crowdfunding project, this being for Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising from Lucky Duck Games.)

On March 23, 2021, Portal Games will launch the campaign for Robinson Crusoe: Collector's Edition in co-operation with Awaken Realms, which is crafting character miniatures and deluxe components for this edition of the game. This version will also include a four-scenario tutorial Open & Play Campaign by Joanna Kijanka to help "new and more casual players into the game" and a "companion mobile app with access to over 300 brand new adventure cards and event cards, as well as an extra audio layer for complete immersion". (Portal notes that an upgrade pack will be available for those who own existing versions of Robinson Crusoe, but it's not clear exactly what that will contain.)

At the same time, this Gamefound project will feature a new expansion for the game — The Book of Adventures, which will consist of twenty new scenarios and variants for existing scenarios. Here's how Portal describes this item: "Each scenario is uniquely organized and labeled by its theme, gameplay length, and difficulty level to help players choose the perfect scenario for every game night! With this new feature, The Book of Adventures will transform Robinson Crusoe into a board game for everyone, regardless of their age or board game experience. Players can now easily find the right scenario to play with their children, friends, or gamers in their playgroup."

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Portal Games plans to launch this crowdfunding campaign on March 23, 2021, and anyone who follows the project here before it launches receives a €5 credit toward whatever they purchase. (Many people on the Gamefound project have expressed interest in a package that contains all things Robinson Crusoe, but I'm guessing that Portal plans to keep releasing expansions of various types in the years to come. Instead I'd bet money that Portal has the Robinson Crusoe: 20th Anniversary Big Box on its schedule for 2032. We'll see...)

• While I'm on the topic of Gamefound, UK publisher Modiphius Entertainment has teased The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Boardgame with a placeholder project page on that site, but for now the only info about the game is that it's "[a]n epic co-operative board game of adventure across Skyrim for 1-4 players".

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Designers Yann and Clem of Devil Pig Games are re-launching their Heroes of Normandie line with Heroes of Normandie: Big Red One Edition, with this base game containing new scenarios, heroes, bonus markers, and blast templates, in addition to an improved aircraft system, a revised rulebook, and flamethrowers, whereas previously these were included in expansions. (This box better feature a bright yellow starburst that says "NOW WITH FLAMETHROWERS" when it hits retail.)

The Kickstarter campaign for this title launches on March 9, 2021, but ahead of this launch date Devil Pig Games has been running a "pre-launch stretch goal" campaign on its website that adds more material to the base game as more people sign up to receive news of the KS launch.

Board Game Publisher: Level 99 Games
• U.S. publisher Level 99 Games has used Kickstarter on many occasions, most recently for titles such as Empyreal: Spells & Steam, Millennium Blades: Collusion, Bullet♥︎, and Sakura Arms, but Kickstarter can be an unwieldy (and costly) tool for smaller projects, so in 2021 Level 99 is founding "Launch 99", which it will use for small games, expansions for existing games, and licensed titles for which the licensors don't allow crowdfunding. In the publisher's words:
More and more, we're tending towards projects that are smaller and self-contained, without stretch goals or tons of add-ons. These projects are healthier for our company, but they aren't a great fit for the Kickstarter model...

Games will be available as bundles with a discount and/or other special perks, similar to a Kickstarter Pledge Bundle. These bundles will be shipped to our fulfillment hubs in Asia, Australia, Europe, the UK, and Canada, so you'll be able to get your games without additional duties and with greatly reduced shipping fees...

We will continue to use Kickstarter where it makes sense — especially for new large-format projects and reprints. Launch 99 will be a way for us to streamline and improve the pre-order experience for those games which can't, won't, or shouldn't Kickstart.
This type of approach makes perfect sense for Level 99, which has been in business for more than a decade (thereby giving it a customer base to reach out to with such offerings) and which often specializes in a particular type of game: head-to-head, card-based combat. Expansions for its games can be marketed directly to its existing customer base, and Level 99 doesn't have to mess with distribution and retail for these titles if it doesn't wish to.
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