Kickstarter is a tempting place for solo gamers with money to burn. Alas, I am not one of those right now, but I can still dream! Here are some very pretty-looking projects on Kickstarter right now.
1. Shadows of Kilforth
This game looks great—gorgeous art, awesome fantasy setting, great track record. If you liked Gloom of Kilforth, this will probably be up your alley. If you are ready to break into the world of Kilforth, then Shadows could also be a good entry point. I personally love fantasy card games, so I am definitely interested. It looks like Shadows of Kilforth has cool race/class combos, fun abilities to try, and cool locations to explore. However, I backed Gloom of Kilforth last year and haven't received it yet, so I'm trying to exercise some restraint.
2. Root: The Underworld Expansion
Root continues to take the gaming world by storm, and deservedly so—it's an interesting game with great art. This expansion will add moles and crows... but it will also come with an add-on that includes more solo bots. I'm interested to see how these play, especially since right now Root offers a great multiplayer game but a solo experience that is shallow. Is that about to change? I don't love the idea of a solo add-on, but I do have faith in the potential of solo bots. I enjoy them in full-on COIN games, so I don't see why there can't be good ones for Root. That said, is it worth the money? For multiplayer, I'd say yes. For solo only? I'm still on the fence.
3. Carnival Zombie
This game looks wild! (In a good way.) You are in Venice for a vacation during Carnival... but then everything goes wrong, the apocalypse happens, and zombies attack. At night, you need to escape the ravenous hordes. During the day, you need to rest up, gather resources, and plot your escape from the city. Even better, the characters all still have their costumes on, so they are gun-totin' heroes bedecked with ribbons and crazy masks. Consider me interested.
As usual, Kickstarter has some thrilling offerings for us solo gamers. Let's get right to it!
Iwari is an abstract (or "abstract-like," as the official copy says) game about the beginnings of humanity, when humans had not yet explored the earth or obtained the knowledge we now have. You'll use Euro game mechanics to grow and expand. The most notable thing about the game is definitely the art, which is gorgeous. If you're looking for a very pretty game to adorn your shelves, this one has promise.
2. Paladins of the West Kingdom
Paladins of the West Kingdom is a follow-up to Architects of the West Kingdom, and is the second entry into the West Kingdom trilogy. In the game, you are trying to pile up the most VP by hiring Paladin workers to carry out various tasks, including building, but also recruiting monks and dealing with outsiders. This is supposed to be a game that is relatively easy to learn, but has a lot happening with a lot of decisions to make. If you liked the North Sea series or Architects, then Paladins should be a natural next step for you.
3. Valeria Card Kingdoms: Crimson Seas
I don't have much experience with the Valeria series, but it continues to expand and offers a lot of options for solo play. This campaign is actually offering three different products in one Kickstarter campaign: an expansion to Valeria: Card Kingdoms, an additional expansion pack, and a standalone dice game. If you already like Valeria: Card Kingdoms and want to expand your experience, now's your chance!
This week I want to draw your attention to a few solo-friendly Kickstarter campaigns that are ending soon!
1. Waste Knights
This is the second printing of a game set in a dystopian future Australia. You can choose from multiple adventures that pit you against mutant creatures, let you drive crazy vehicles, and generally have some good, Ameritrashy fun. If you're into Mad Max, you're probably interested in the theme of this game. If it sounds good to you, check out the campaign ASAP—it ends in less than 48 hours.
2. The Pursuit of Happiness
The Pursuit of Happiness is a worker placement game from Artipia Games, and it's about living a full and happy life. The clock is ticking—how many good experiences can you cram in before you run out of time? What will you prioritize when it comes to finding the ideal job or having a satisfying family life? This reprint also comes with expansions that allow you to include experiences like travel and finding connections with your community in the life you build. Not many games have such interesting and thought-provoking themes, so this one seems very much worth a look.
Blitzkrieg, from the Plastic Soldier Company, is a two-player game designed to let you experience "World War Two In 20 minutes." However, David Turczi has signed on to create a solo mode with about nine days left in the campaign. So now we solo players have to decide: Will our general distrust of stretch goal solo modes win out? Or will the pull of the talented David Turczi win us over? With a price point of roughly $26, this one may be worth a shot.
As usual, Kickstarter is here to tempt us solo gamers with an array of interesting games—and this week, more than one involves food!
1. Consumption: Food and Choices
I've never seen a game quite like this. Consumption, which will be published by Kolossal, is a worker placement game about meeting your body's nutritional needs, and it is designed by a dietitian. It is played across six rounds, and the winner will be the player with the most Victory Points. VP are earned by shopping wisely, making healthy recipes, and staying active—all things that would contribute to a person's overall health. I am not going to lie, I am not particularly attracted to this theme. But I am all about games that push new ideas and themes, so I hope to see Consumption do well!
2. Chocolate Factory
Another Euro about food—but this one is an engine-builder that is all about delicious, delicious chocolate! In Chocolate Factory, you'll go for powerful combinations of factory parts to upgrade humble cacao beans into the most exciting chocolates possible. You'll also be going for skilled employees to help sell your concoctions and build up your chocolate empire. The components look great, and the game advertises an "actual physical conveyor belt" for processing your chocolates. It seems like Chocolate Factory adds good tactile fun to its engine building mechanics.
Let's just keep the Euro theme rolling for this post and cover Coloma, which is an engine builder set during the Gold Rush of 1848. In addition to engine building, the game incorporates action selection and resource management. You will be playing a pioneer who is seeking a fortune in the Wild West, and you can choose to do that by prospecting for gold, building up the town, hiring workers, and more. As a solo player, my main interest in this game is the fact that David Turczi designed the solo mode for it. Given his track record so far (Anachrony, Teotihuacan, Dice Settlers...), anything he does for solo is worth notice.
It's almost March already, and Kickstarter has several interesting projects running right now. Let's round a few of them up!
From the publishers who brought you Argonauts comes Xerxes, in which you are playing a satrap trying to earn the most favor from the Persian king, Xerxes. It's a race for victory points, which you'll earn through effective resource management. Can you generate resources, build, and tax to be the first one to 25 points? The game includes solo tiles that allow you to pit yourself against an AI player, and you can adjust the level of difficulty for an easier or more challenging game. There are only a couple of days left in this campaign, so look fast!
2. Terror Below
Renegade Games is giving off a sci-fi/Western vibe with Terror Below, a game set in an alternate-universe Nevada desert that is infested with giant killer worms. Mostly it looks like a pick up and delivery game in which you transport worm eggs in exchange for bounties. But you can also acquire weapons and go hunting for the beasts. Like Xerxes above, this game is a race for victory points—first one to 20 wins.
3. Tiny Epic Tactics
This one is definitely tempting me. Tiny Epic Tactics looks a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics, which is a great thing in my book. Up to four players can battle it out for dominance over a 3-D map... or you can play a solo/cooperative game that involves exploring the terrain and defeating AI opponents. I really like that the game includes heroes with different powers, movements, and attack types. Plus, the price is right at $25 for the base game. (More if you want some expansions.) Although there is a solo playthrough up now, I am still interested in seeing some polished solo rules for this one before I commit.
As always, there are several board games of interest to solo gamers on Kickstarter! Let's sample a few for the week!
1. The Clowdus Collection: Neolithic
Kolossal Games is currently republishing a set of games designed by John Clowdus, including Merchants of Muziris, Keep, and Neolithic. Of the three, Neolithic has solo mode (it is for 1–2 players). In this game, your goal is to build up a neolithic Village. Mechanically, the game is a mixture of hand building, worker placement, and deployment of multi-use cards. At 30 minutes, it is also quick-playing, which should suit solo gamers who are looking for a quick work night game.
2. Dark Rituals: Malleus Maleficarum
On the other end of the spectrum, Dark Rituals is a $100 big-box game packed with miniatures. This one is an asymmetric "one vs. all" game that also includes a solo mode. In the multiplayer version of the game, the heroes' goal is to defend a town from a coven of witches, while one player takes on the role of Witch Master. In solo mode, you are the Witch Master battling against game-controlled heroes—a potentially interesting twist, given that usually AI controls the overlord and makes the solo player pilot multiple heroes.
3. Parks: The Board Game
Parks is actually a board game about hikers who are enjoying America's national parks and collecting memories of their experiences. You can improve your equipment to hike more efficiently, but your main goal will be to take the best collection of photographs. In the solo mode, you'll be sharing the trail with Rangers who are there to take care of the park. But while the Rangers are helpful and necessary to park upkeep, they will also act as your timer, because the season ends when they finish maintaining the trail! This game is committed to celebrating national parks, and some of its proceeds will be donated to the National Park Service.
A new year of Kickstarter campaigns is in full swing now, including several that are of possible interest to solo players.
1. Suburbia Collector's Edition
Suburbia is an award-winning game about laying tiles and building up a city, and it is a well-loved game. The collector's edition has redone art, very nice storage inserts, and premium components to enhance gameplay. This edition will also include all expansions for the game, so you're getting everything all in one fancy package. Suburbia does include solo play against "Dale the Bot." If you're interested, this is a good moment to pick up a revamped classic.
2. Gardens of Babylon: The Cascading Tile Laying Game
Gardens of Babylon combines tile laying and worker movement as players compete to plant the hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Players will attempt to score points by planting seeds in valuable locations. There is even a cascade mechanic that, when deployed wisely, allows you to change the entire board state as you pursue victory. This game is easy to learn, but with a number of different garden tiles and strategies to try, promises replayability as well.
3. Invasions: Vol. 1
Invasion is a game about competing to build up a successful empire during the "Dark Ages," from the latter days of the Roman Empire up until the beginning of the Muslim conquests. This game added a pack of solo cards as an expansion. I am a bit suspicious of stretch goal solo modes, but if you're interested in sweeping historical games, this one might be worth a look.
Late December isn't the wildest time on Kickstarter, but there are some interesting projects out there to peruse! If you're looking to get yourself a little something for Christmas, you won't have to look too far.
Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age
If you're in the market for an interesting roll and write, then Eagle-Gryphon Games has your back--Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age is a sequel to RTtA: Bronze Age, and it's being reprinted as a nice bookshelf edition. Interestingly, this Kickstarter campaign includes a number of different games, so if Roll Through the Ages isn't your thing, you can look at The Plutonian, Karesansui, Morocco, Wombat Rescuer, and more. In fact, if you're interested in picking up the entire bookshelf series, here is your chance. I don't think I've seen a Kickstarter campaign quite like this one. Probably the most interesting thing about this KS campaign, however, is that the games are already printed and on the boat, so you can expect February delivery.
Castle Itter: The Strangest Battle of WWII
Dan Verssen Games' campaign for Castle Itter: The Strangest Battle of WWII will be active for only 4 more days, so if you want this one, jump on quick! Like its predecessor, Pavlov's House (which is getting a ton of buzz), this game is about being trapped in a building and holding out against the Germans against brutal odds. If you are looking for a solitaire game rooted in real history, with brutal survival situations and interesting decisions to be made. I wish this one were happening after Christmas, so I'd have a better chance of being able to back it!
I'm not sure what to think of Cultistorm, which bills itself as "more than an ordinary board game" and is "an expression of our respect and love for Lovecraft." I like a good Mythos game as much as anyone, but I feel uncomfortable with the idea of too much respect and love for a flagrant racist (and pretty blah writer, in my opinion). This is apparently a sprawling cooperative game, initially for 3–5 players, but there are nine expansions planned as stretch goals for the campaign, as well as books of flash fiction and a soundtrack. It seems like a whole lot is going on with Cultistorm. It's definitely going to fund, but I'm personally giving it a pass.
Merry Christmas! Hope you don't have to buy gifts for anyone else in your life, because you'll definitely want to buy several for yourself if Kickstarter keeps going like this. Let's get down to business.
I did not give Ragusa a second thought until this weekend, when Jeremy Howard from Jambalaya Plays Games taught me to play it at PAXU. I am so glad he did, because I enjoyed the hell out of this game. Ragusa is a euro-style city builder, but it's not quite like any other game I have ever played. You place buildings and get resources, but there are a ton of fascinating mechanics that spice it up. Depending on where you place buildings, you can collect up to three different resources, as well as trigger opponent actions—or enjoy the benefits when they place buildings and help you! There are also secret objectives that give you special goals in the game, and extra ways to score. I haven't gotten to play a game solo, but I spent some time checking out the solo AI cards, and what I see is really promising. I will go out of my way to back this one.
2. Nemo's War: Bold & Caring and Dramatis Personae Expansions
If you like Nemo's War, rejoice! There are a couple of expansion packs to add a little extra spice to an already-good game. Get some new game-changing motives for Captan Nemo, as well as some new adventures to experience. Also, if you still don't own a copy of the base game, it's possible to pick it up by pledging to this campaign. The expansions are reasonably priced ($12 for the two new ones), so if you're already a fan of Nemo's War, this is an easy back.
3. Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon
This campaign doesn't actually hit KS until December 5, but there is a preview page that I've linked to in this post. If you're looking for another big box campaign game with a lot of miniatures, this one might be for you. Your campaign can have several different endings, and you'll be able to develop your characters across several play sessions. Also, Adam Smith of Rolling Solo has some gameplay videos out on YouTube, so you can see it for yourself.
This October is an intense month for Kickstarter, especially because so many of these projects are games that I already know and love, or from designers/publishers whose work I enjoy. I hope for a quiet holiday season, since my Christmas gift budget is already in grave danger...
1. Spirit Island: Jagged Earth
I previewed Jagged Earth last week, but I want to mention it here as well--Spirit Island is one of my favorite games, and one of the few I have reviewed on this site to receive a five-star rating from me. If you already like Spirit Island, this expansion is a no-brainer, with more spirits and also cards that allow you to play old spirits in new ways. Additionally there are new island tiles, new adversaries, and new scenarios—in other words, more ways to keep spicing up an already-excellent game. Two thoughts: 1) You need to have both Spirit Island and the first expansion, Branch and Claw, to enjoy Jagged Earth. 2) If you need to wait for retail rather than back now, I think it's totally fine to do so—this is not the kind of game that won't be available on store shelves after it goes to KS backers.
2. Street Masters: Aftershock
Street Masters: Rise of the Kingdom has indeed risen into my personal Top 20 solo games. It's an arcade-style beat-'em-up with interesting levels, fighters with different playstyles, and a modular deck system influenced by another favorite game of mine, Sentinels of the Multiverse. My original review of Street Masters is here, and as you can see, I am a pretty big fan. Aftershock promises even more—more fighters, more enemies, more scenarios... I can't wait! No game is for everybody, and Street Masters gets a little cramped at higher player counts. All the same, I think every solo player should at least give this one a look.
3. The Romans: Kingdom—Republic—Empire!
The Latin teacher in me just can't resist having a look at this one. The Romans is being billed as the final game designed by the Ragnar Brothers, and it promises what looks like an especially solo-friendly experience. It's a combination of worker placement and area control, but each player has his or her own individual Roman Empire board to develop. There is also an AI system in place to simulate enemies fighting back as Rome expands. Players will need to shepherd their empires through multiple eras and developments, and increasingly powerful buildings, leaders, and abilities will become available as the game progresses. If you like games with historical themes, this one looks fun—the art is lighthearted, and who doesn't love the Romans? Also interesting is that this campaign is not offering stretch goals. The Ragnar Brothers have made the best game they can possibly make, and they stand by it as-is. I find that refreshing after so much Kickstarter craziness this month.