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Crowdfunding Round-up: Pack O Game, Monster Deck 55, Sovereignty of Dust, Slap .45 & Much More

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Has a month really passed since I last wrote one of these? Indeed it has, but everything has been Gen Con, Gen Con, Gen Con the past few weeks with news about Spiel now starting to dominate my attention.

That said, let's run down as many crowdfunding projects as possible, starting with Chris Handy's "Pack O Game" (KS link), a series of tiny card games from Perplext that each bear a three letter title, each have one of three difficulty ratings, and are each no larger than a package of Wrigley's Doublemint. It's a great concept and method for packaging a game line, and I'm surprised that not every publisher takes such care with packaging a game line. (At Gen Con 2014, for example, I spoke with a publisher about a game line and was surprised to learn that despite the line having a title and a common purpose for existing, the publisher didn't plan to number the games or ensure that they would be viewed as a line. A title alone isn't enough! You need a consistent vision that's both broad enough to encompass new additions in the years ahead and narrow enough that retailers and players know what to expect when they see your box.)

Ahem. Handy sent me a package of prototypes, and I've tried FLY, HUE and TKO. FLY might be my favorite because it's appealingly goofy (along the lines of Handy's Handy), with players trying to "swat" flies on a tablecloth by dropping a flyswatter card in order to collect sets of colors and symbols.

HUE is a more traditional points game with players building a color patchwork from the long, skinny cards, then scoring points based on the one card they don't play to the table. TKO is a two-player boxing game in which you're trying to guess and outguess what the opponent will do — punch or block, high or low — in order to score five points in a particular location. The variety in game play, with each package consisting only of thirty cards and a single sheet of rules, is impressive: GEM is an auction game, BUS is an efficiency game in which you try to service customers, and SHH (not yet unlocked) is a co-operative game in which you try to empty your hands of letter cards by spelling words on the table, but without being able to talk.

Monster Deck 55, self-published by Odd Hackwelder and his Hacko Games, is reverse Pack O Game — that is, a single deck of games that can be used to play multiple games, both original designs and translated versions of existing games. (KS link) Disclosure: I'm a fan of game systems, especially card game systems, and have backed this project, despite no rules being available yet for the original games.

Mr. B Games is back on Kickstarter with Brandon Allen's Clockwork Kingdom (KS link), a game in which each player has "a small army of loyal steam-powered automatons to do their bidding", including building more complex contraptions in their effort to rule the land.

Clockwork Wars, on the other hand, comes from Hassan Lopez and Eagle Games, and in it players combine "magic and steam-era technology" to beat up one another, seize villages, and invest in better technology, technology strong enough to make them kings! No, wait — that's the other game. (KS link)

• Micah Fuller's Warband: Against the Darkness (KS link) is "perfectly balanced in the design space between Euro and Ameri-style gameplay, combining strategic depth with an evocative fantasy theme and tense player conflict", according to Dyskami Publishing Company, which is in fact planning to publish this game, so you'd fully expect nice things to be said about it. Anyone have feedback on this or Clockwork Kingdom based on playings at Gen Con 2014?

• Peter Newland's Wizard Dodgeball — which as you can guess from the title is about wizards playing dodgeball, but of a magical variety — from Mind the Gap Studios was another title vying for attention in Indy. (KS link)

• Another Kickstarter regular is Steve Finn of Dr. Finn's Games, and his latest project is The Institute for Magical Arts (KS link) which doesn't seem to have a dodgeball in sight, but which does have two wizards vying for control of power cards and thus the Institute itself.

• Jake Thornton's Dungeon Saga: Dwarf King's Quest from Mantic Games has been tearing up KS as is often the case with miniature-filled games. (KS link) Dungeon Saga is an "adventure board game where mighty heroes battle evil monsters in a tight and twisting fantasy dungeon", but I have zero experience with those types of games, so I'm not sure what this brings to the table that hasn't already been there.

• Space-based miniature games are another black hole in my gaming experience, so about Galaxy of Trian from designers Kalarus, Oliwa and Piotrowski I can say little more than it doesn't have miniatures yet as it hasn't reached that stretch goal. (KS link)

• Yeti Militia Games is only one-tenth of the way toward its $150k funding goal to produce HyGround 3D terrain tiles that resemble those in Heroscape. (KS link)

• C. Simon Reid's I, Spy from Lost Boys Productions is set in the days just prior to World War I, with players secretly acting as agents for European nations to carry out missions and affect the balance of influence on the continent. (KS link)

Patrick Lankert is self-publishing the card game Sovereignty of Dust, which doesn't have you competing for control of actual dust but for a decaying metropolis with one of five preconstructed faction decks such as "Long Island Greasers" or "The Staten Island Resistance". Players score for capturing enemy units, conquering landmarks, and completing missions, with those missions being driven by the goals of the faction. (KS link)

Slap .45 is a Wild West-themed game of card slapping from some of the people behind Cards Against Humanity, a.k.a. Gnarwhal Studios, with your hand being your gun and various cards being the target. (KS link) I'm all for slapping things, but I've read the rules (posted in KS update #1) and I'm still not sure why I'm slapping what. Maybe I shouldn't let that slow me down, but I feel that my slapping should have a higher purpose. Perhaps the game just needs to be experienced to be absorbed (as admittedly is the case with most games).

• I don't even know what to make of the Your Way Game Board, which seems like one of those projects that would have (and should have) been stopped at the game prior to KS going to "no wait" project launching. (KS link)

• Brian Henk and Clayton Skancke's New Salem from Overworld Games is a hidden role game with the righteous residents of New Salem trying to construct buildings while witches are secretly spreading pestilence. (KS link) The character art is a plus on this game, so it's a pity the cover's such a downer.

• Erin McDonald and Christian Strain's Asking for Trobils from Kraken Games is a heavily orange worker placement game in which players have trouble with Trobils. (KS link)

Pack the Pack from Meghan McKinley and Games by Play Date is a tile-laying game in which you need to fit treasure from a dragon horde in your backpack. It's also a lesson in a fun name that's thematically fit can fail on BGG because you can't search for a quoted string, thus making the game harder to find. Something for us to address at some point... (KS link)

• Finally, we come to Girls on Games, which contrary to how it might sound has nothing to do with placing women on game boxes but is instead a compilation of essays from women in the tabletop games industry, with Elisa Teague — designer of Geek Out! and editor-in-chief of Cupcake Quarterly — serving as the book's editor. Contributors so far includes Kristin Looney, Peggy Brown, Toni Darling, Teeuwynn Woodruff, Rebekah Zetty, Gaby Weidling, Jessica Blair, Trin Garritano, Tanis O'Connor and Satine Phoenix. (KS link)

Editor's note: Please don't post links to other Kickstarter projects in the comments section. Write to me via the email address in the header, and I'll consider them for inclusion in a future crowdfunding round-up. Thanks! —WEM
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