John Paul Kilcrease
What are you doing way up there?
When it comes to board games on Kickstarter, there are many thoughts and opinions on them. Some hate Kickstarter (usually because of bad experiences), while others embrace it to a max. Most often, however, gamers fall somewhere into the middle, on a line between loving the idea of crowdfunding and yet being scared they'll get taken or lose money on something that just isn't worth it. I consider myself among this last group, and one of the biggest things I've found that instills confidence in me is track record. So to that end, I've decided to start reviewing the Kickstarter campaigns for games that I back and receive. That way, if a returning company launches a project, potential backers can look to the past to help decide whether or not it is a company worth trusting. Anyway, I've wasted enough of your time already, and it's time to get to the actual reveiw:
Game: Kodama: The Tree Spirits
Publisher: Action Phase Games
Date Funded: 11-12-15
Expected Delivery: May 2016
Actual Delivery: March 28th, 2016
Pledge level: Kodama (deluxe edition)
Promos: KS Limited (available in limited quantities after campaign but not in retail)
Kodama is Action Phase Games's 5th game and is also the 3rd in their "Small box, big fun" game lineup. Being an established, well respected publisher made backing this game a no-brainer for me, especially with the excellent job they did with their previous game, Ninja Camp. But how did this project stack up on its own?
First and foremost, the communication on this campaign was fantastic. I have backed and received 2 games from APG (this one included), and their communication on both has been insane. They respond to almost every question or suggestion that is raised in the comments, yet don't go overboard with trying to respond to everyone at once. Their updates are infrequent, but it's enough to keep you well informed, and they are very well laid out and thorough.
The campaign itself was mostly fun and engaging, albeit a bit slow in the middle. To compensate for this, a number of companies have shortened their campaigns to 3 weeks, however Action Phase chose to stick with the traditional 30 days, which was a little disappointing from an excitement perspective. The stretch goals were pre-planned and made achievable:
They were able to get the game in backers hands about a month early, which is a huge shock for any KS, even from established publishers. It was right after this, however, that things hit a speed bump. In the deluxe edition of the game, there were wooden bits, and in the manufacturing process they were not taken the best care of. I don't know anything about the details of the production process, but the disks ended up being a little rough and even slightly misshapen at times. For me and many others, this wasn't a big deal, and really didn't seem like anything terrible, until we put the stickers on. The stickers were the exact same size as the disks, and were a bit difficult to put on as a result. While mine and many others were pretty okay, that was not the case for everyone. A number of backers got very upset and vocalized their disdain very openly. Now I'm not here to tell you about component quality. What I am here to say is that APG took the amount by which I trusted them and raised it to the next level. They waited a day or two to form a full response to the inquiries, and then followed up a day later with some clarifications. They apologize for the lower quality some backers had, and set to work to make things right. As a backer, this is the kind of thing that I always worry about, and to see a publisher making an effort like that to fix a problem that wasn't totally their's is a huge thing for me.
Cost wise, I found Cool Stuff Inc had the pre-order price of $13. While decently cheaper, I received quite a lot in deluxe components and also received the game a month early, making the cost difference worth it in my opinion. Here is what was extra in the deluxe edition:
Overall, Kodama had a solid, albeit challenging for the publisher campaign, and I am very happy to have been a backer. The game itself is adorable and wonderful, and APG is on a roll. With solid games and great customer service, I think this is one publisher backers will want to keep their eye on. I know I certainly will.
Travis R. Chance
Thank you for the candid review. We really appreciate it--and your enthusiasm!
I for one much prefer when a Kickstarter campaign runs for 30 days.
Yes, they may get a little slow in the middle, but that just makes the last 48 hours even the more exciting. Also, there's nothing worse than a short Kickstarter campaign getting launched just the wrong side of pay day... so many times I tell myself "if this had just continued 'til the 23rd, I would have pledged".
All in all, I was very happy with the Kodama Kickstarter!