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Crowdfunding Round-up: Lovable Rogues and Expanding Universes

Dustin Schwartz
United States
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Get your slimy, webbed phalanges off ma boots!
• Although the first release from Action Phase Games was a big-box release with a $65 MSRP, since then it's been quickly building a library of SBBF (small box, big fun) titles, including Kodama: The Tree Spirits, which is set to make an appearance at Mensa Mind Games in Chicago next month. The fourth title in the SBBF series is Retreat to Darkmoor, a design collaboration from Isaac Shalev and Matt Loomis, with Jacqui Davis illos to round out the package. The hook here is a queuing mechanism and a riff on the classic "you don't have to outrun the bear" joke. (KS link)

• Many BGGers turn up their noses at games with "take that" elements, but the broader market doesn't seem to mind (as evidenced by sales chart-toppers like Munchkin, Gloom, and Fluxx). Honey Wars is a small card game from rookie designer Andrew J. Smith, self-published under his Gold Seal Games imprint. The game won a "take that" design challenge hosted by The Game Crafter in 2015. Given the prevalence of that mechanism in Honey Wars, one might even say it's a game where the "take that" really stings. I'll show myself out. (KS link)

• In 2015, designers Dave Fulton and Jacob Tlapek were attempting to bring to market a game called You Dirty Rat. Their first KS campaign failed to fund, and they canceled the second campaign because the game had caught the eye of Travis Worthington at Indie Boards & Cards, who wanted to publish it. Now the game has been rethemed and renamed Grifters. Somewhere, the Resistance is fighting the Empire and coups are being attempted, but you're concerned only with taking on jobs in the seedy criminal underbelly of this decidedly dystopian universe. (KS link)

• Donald X. Vaccarino has two Spiel des Jahres wins under his belt, and both of those award-winning titles — Dominion and Kingdom Builder — continue to see publisher support. Despite a contract kerfuffle with Queen Games that cropped up in 2015, things appear to in the clear now. Kingdom Builder: Harvest is the fourth large expansion, introducing farmland as a new type of terrain that is particularly challenging to claim. The expansion has also precipitated a new silo...err, "Big Box" capable of storing all KB content to date. (KS link)

Minion Games continues the belated expansion of the line of branded The Manhattan Project follow-ups with The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire from Luke Laurie and Tom Jolly. Like its predecessor, it features worker placement and resource management, but the theme is less volatile: You're trying to create lots of energy, and as cleanly as possible, instead of stocking up on WMDs. And here I'd begun to think that funding a 120-minute strategy game without miniatures or SPAAAACE was an impossibility in the current KS climate. (KS link)

• For those with a Han Solo or Malcolm Reynolds complex, or just an affinity for John Ariosa's art (count me in that crowd), there's [thing=186944]Hyperspace Smuggler[/thing] from Plain Sight Games. It's a tile-laying game but veers away from the place-one-tile-on-your-turn formula, opting instead for board expansion only when required by a player's movement at the boundaries, fog of war style. Designer Greg Loring-Albright is new to the tabletop space, but has experience designing "pervasive games" like clue hunts, social puzzles, and other interactive game media. (KS link)

• Back in 2012, Game Salute funded a progressive storytelling game, or RPG-lite, called Storm Hollow: A Storyboard Game. The scope of the project and a host of setbacks mean that the project still has yet to see the light of day. But the designers, Julian Leiberan-Titus and Angela Hickman Newnham, have forged onward in their creative endeavors with Riftwalker: A Storm Hollow Card Game, a small spinoff title drawing on the lore of the Storm Hollow universe. Mechanically, it involves manipulating a grid of 3x3 cards representing elemental energies. (KS link)

The Red Dragon Inn probably holds the industry record for most sequentially numbered sequels. (What's the over/under on Pandemic Legacy topping that eventually?) The Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport, while technically a sequel, is thematically a prequel from SlugFest Games and the design team of Heiss, Morrow, and Waller, with players taking a detour on their way to the tavern to help out a city under siege. It's quite the departure mechanically, too, with deck-building taking center stage instead of the wagering of the original. (KS link)

• By Jeremy Lennert's beard! The trend of physical to digital game conversions is picking up steam. Attempting to make the jump now is Lennert's Hunt: The Unknown Quarry, a murder mystery game of deduction. Victory Point Games publishes the print version, and Quicksilver Software is taking on the digital port, which looks to be for PC and Mac but not mobile devices. At its most basic, the digital version is multiplayer only, but there's potential for solo play against AI opponents if a stretch goal is met. (KS link)

• The 4X genre is a bit of a niche, so each new title gets to soak up the spotlight but also undergoes a lot of scrutiny from the genre's fans. On the playbill this time are Outer Limit Games and the father-son design team of Stan and Mike Strickland, the folks behind the space opera Tau Ceti: Planetary Crisis. All of the usual trappings are present here, with the standout elements being custom starship miniatures — because who doesn't like toys — and the addition of rules for solo play. (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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