Hey gamers! As usual, I have a few interesting Kickstarter projects to report on. And an onslaught of new projects is coming! We'll concentrate on this week for now, though.
1. Knot Dice
Knot Dice is a game in which you roll and place gorgeous custom dice to create beautiful Celtic knots. It's a puzzle game that has several modes, including some that accommodate a single player. There are only 3 days left in this Kickstarter, and I almost missed it entirely. Fortunately, Colin from the One Stop Co-Op shop mentioned this game on a podcast and clued me in. His playthrough is here. Those pretty green dice are mesmerizing, and justify a closer look.
I love a good tower defense game, and Goblivion combines tower defense with deck building. It's a cooperative game that can be played solo, and it also has a solo-only mode. Goblivion offers a number of card combinations for variability. The illustrations are cute and family friendly, and the game only takes 30 minutes—but it also cites Dominion and Stronghold as influences, so it seems to promise an engaging strategic experience as well. I am thinking about this one for sure.
You may already have played Trickerion, which is a sumptuous worker placement game about competing magicians. It hasn't had a solo mode until now—the KS campaign is for the expansion, which includes rules for solo play. If you already liked Trickerion and wished that you could play it solo, the time is now!
The Kickstarter wheel keeps on turning, so I'm here this week with more projects to talk about! And of course, there are many more interesting-looking games to come.
I have been hearing a lot of buzz about this one. It's a card drafting game in which you draft new residents for your village, all of whom have special talents that hopefully fit well together. You also need to balance your food supply and building capacity. It's a game of maximizing your resources and building the most profitable village possible. The art is simple but distinctive, and the game has a solo-specific mode: Players must manage to profit despite the interventions of an angry and temperamental countess, who forces players to work around events that add challenge to the game. If that sounds like your sort of thing, this project may be worth a look.
2. New Corp Order
In New Corp Order, you are the CEO of a major company who is trying to manipulate media outlets to generate good press about yourself. It brands itself a euro-style hand management game. It is also learnable in five minutes, which means players should be able to pick up the game and quickly get around to actually playing it. You can only take one of three actions per turn: Acquire a share of a media conglomerate, lay down conglomerate cards to actually infiltrate one, or use your power within an infiltrated conglomerate to take over various media outlets. However, choosing the right action at the right time could present a challenge.
3. Fantastic Factories
Fantastic Factories is an engine-building dice placement game for 1–5 players. Your goal is to manufacture as many goods as possible, as quickly as possible. You can achieve that by building factories that work together in various interesting combinations. Figuring out how the factories can work together is a major part of the fun. To staff your factories, you place workers (dice). Each factory has a different worker requirement, but you can use "training facilities" to manipulate your dice and get the values you need. You can also hire contractors to help you achieve your in-game goals. Most excitingly (for me, anyway), the solo mode is played against an opponent called "The Machine," which means it will be more than a beat-your-own-score gaming experience. This one looks like a lot of fun, and I chose to back it myself.
I've already covered most of the major KS projects that are going on right now, but there are still a few out there that are pretty exciting! I don't know about y'all, but it's already been a brutal year for my acquisition disorder. But I expect no mercy.
1. Skull Tales: Full Sail!
Skull Tales looks like it might be good fun—there are a few pirate-themed games out there, but this one looks like a dungeon crawl for scurvy seadogs. The game offers multiple maps, cool pirate miniatures, one-off scenarios, and, most importantly, a full campaign to play through. As a solo gamer, I'm always looking for games that are story-driven, and it's possible that this one could scratch the itch. The game has multiple phases that simulate managing a pirate ship, adventuring in new lands, and returning to port to get in touch with civilization. Outside of Skull Tales' own marketing, I am particularly intrigued by the fact that AJ from Van Ryder games plugged it in the most recent update. Skull Tales is not officially associated with Van Ryder, but AJ has traditionally published very good games that I like, and also games that cater to solo players. His endorsement has definitely gotten my attention.
2. Streets of Steel
If you are into old school side-scrolling arcade games, then Streets of Steel may be of interest to you. It's a co-op board game with miniatures, but also artwork that is inspired by fighting games. You can even adjust the difficulty by starting with different amounts of "quarters," which I think is a really nice arcade touch. It's clear that a lot of thought has been put into little details like that throughout the game. The main characters each have a bit of flair and there is cool flavor text associated with them, and all of the material I have seen for the game so far is polished and oozing with personality. There do not, however, seem to be many third party playthroughs, and those are something I like to see in Kickstarter campaigns. True to its roots, this one looks like a pure beat-'em-up, without a ton of storyline. If that's your thing, this project may be worth checking out.
As usual, there are several interesting Kickstarter projects out there for solo board gamers! I'm only featuring a couple this week, since they're the ones I am particularly interested in.
1) Mr. Cabbagehead's Garden
This is a quirky game about anthropomorphized vegetables, with art that looks like it was ripped straight out of an old-timey children's book. (Apparently it was actually inspired by Victorian-era seed packets!) Your goal is to keep Mr. Cabbagehead's garden safe from thieves so that he can finally win a gardening competition. During each turn, you will have a planting phase in which you draw and plant vegetable cards. Then you'll have to deal with a neighbor phase, in which one of your rude neighbors comes in and interferes with your hard work. This game has had a great track record as a PnP game for a couple of years now, and it's designed by Todd Sanders, who has a sterling reputation as a solo game designer. (Another of his recent KS projects was Pulp Detective.)
2) Brook City
Brook City is basically a buddy cop board game in which you (and friends, if you want) work together to keep Brook City crime-free. In this game, you play as police officers who take on the city's criminal underworld using varying player powers and maximizing personal decks of cards. Players will also deal with obstacles dealt by a criminal deck and work through a case deck that represents what the players' goals are. In addition to the decks of cards, this game comes with several miniatures and an elaborate board that depicts the city. You can even commandeer better vehicles, Grand Theft Auto style. If your regular police cruiser isn't good enough for you, go ahead and upgrade! I am definitely interested in this project. The only issue for me is the price—the base game is $89.
It's almost May, and Kickstarter is offering your wallets no mercy. There are always some more notable solo Kickstarter projects on the scene!
1. City of Kings Reprint
If you missed The City of Kings the first time around, here is your chance to change that! City of Kings is back on Kickstarter, along with several expansions and deluxe upgrades. City of Kings is a game that I am legitimately enjoying, and I do recommend having a look at it if it seems like your sort of thing. The one potential problem is that it's expensive.... really expensive. I like the game enough to consider shelling for the new characters and the anti-knock trays I skipped last time, but I need to actually think about my finances before I do it.
2. Fleet: The Dice Game
The original Fleet is good fun, and it's solo-able with the Arctic Bounty expansion. It looks like a fun game of rolling dice, drafting the best ones, and creating the best combos you can as you build your fishing empire. I am definitely interested, especially at the price point—$26 for the deluxe version of the game, plus whatever shipping costs are charged at the end of the campaign. You can also pick up the original Fleet and its expansion at higher pledge tiers.
3. Gem Rush
Gem Rush is a light, fun game from Victory Point that is being reprinted for their deluxe line. I have the original cheaply-printed, pizza box version of the game, and it's good quick fun. It's only $30 + shipping for a copy of the new edition of the game, but since I already have the first edition, I'm not entirely sure I will splash for it. If you have never owned Gem Rush, however, here is your chance to get a more attractive new version of it! There will also be a digital version of Gem Rush available through Steam, and I am definitely curious about that—although I am also pretty disappointed that there don't seem to be any plans to develop an app for mobile devices.
There are a lot of active KS projects that I've already covered, but that won't last long. This is Kickstarter we're talking about, after all! And trust me, there are still other games to discuss.
1. Rescue Polar Bears: Data & Temperature
In Rescue Polar Bears: D&T, an improvement on the original Rescue Polar Bears, you are a scientist whose job is to collect data in the Arctic. You (and other players, if playing with a group) are on a quest to gather enough information to convince governments around the world that global warming is a serious issue, and that we need to take action to save the polar bears. Additionally, you will rescue polar bears who are out in the freezing water with no ice to climb onto. This is definitely a game with a message. Rescue Polar Bears also has some of the more adorable game pieces I have seen. Look at those polar bears! AWWW!
2. Arena: The Contest
Arena: The Contest does not have the most exciting name in the world, but it does have a lot of fancy-looking miniatures, and it has well surpassed its funding goal. It is a tactical miniature combat game that promises multiple modes of gameplay, including solo. It also boasts diverse character powers, an array of teams to experiment with, and variable maps. It isn't cheap: The core box is $89. But if you are looking for another tactical minis game, it might we worth a look.
This is a tomb robbing game for 1–4 players, and at $13 ($9 + $4 shipping), the price is right for a gamble. In the world of the game, the king has died, and your goal is to get into his tomb and make off with the riches he can't properly appreciate anymore. (Is this a sequel to Valley of the Kings?) Crypt offers a combination of push-your-luck, dice placement, and set collection, so if any of those sound good to you, give it a look. It's also a very small box game, so if you're the type who likes to slip out the door with a game in your bag, Crypt looks like an interesting possibility. The solo variant was the game's first stretch goal, so hopefully it was already pretty well thought-out before the campaign went live.
If you want to keep some money in your wallet, definitely avoid Kickstarter right now. Of course, that's pretty much par for the course with Kickstarter. This week is a good one whether you want a puzzle-heavy route-building game or a high-tension, thematic adventure.
1. Tramways Engineer's Workbook
Tramways is a game about route building and delivery with a modular board. It's also a little bit of a deck builder in which you acquire with multi-use cards, and it's an all-around good time if you are looking for something to burn your brain. In addition to a reprint of the game, this Kickstarter campaign offers a puzzle book that allows solo or competitive play. Using dry erase markers, you can compete against the designer's scores by creating the most efficient route plans. If you get satisfaction out of efficiency, improvement on past performance, and generally solving logic problems, then the Tramways Engineer's Workbook looks like a great option. This is especially true if you also enjoy games you can play on the go, because all you have to have with you is the book and a dry erase marker.
Lifeform is a new release designed by Mark Chaplin with collaboration from Tristan Hall, designer of Gloom of Kilforth and 1066: Tears to Many Mothers. Hall's track record alone is enough to make Lifeform worth a look for solo players, but this game also just looks exciting. In Lifeform, you and your friends are unarmed members of a mining crew, and you're trying to survive an extremely hostile alien. In the multiplayer game, the alien is controlled by another player. There is also, however, a solo expansion that will allow you fight for survival against the game itself. And an alien is not the only problem you're dealing with—you also have to find the supplies you need to load up an escape pod before your spaceship self destructs. It looks like a wild ride, and I'm definitely interested if I can find room in my budget!
If you like large-scale solo games with a lot of exploration, this may be an interesting time on Kickstarter for you.
1. HEXplore It: The Forests of Adrimon
I recently reviewed the first installment in the HEXplore It series, The Valley of the Dead King. It was very good—definitely good enough to make me think about backing The Forests of Adrimon. It would be an instaback if I weren't broke right now. In VotDK, players were able to combine their role (i.e. class) and race to create interesting combinations of character skills. This next installment is no different, with plenty of new races and classes to try. There are also new ways to power up your characters, since you can now reconstruct relics as well as draw power up cards that increase your character's stats. My only complaint is that I wish the evil sorceress weren't missing a rather crucial part of her skirt. At that point, why even bother?
2. Maximum Apocalypse (Gothic Horrors Expansion + Reprint)
If you missed Maximum Apocalypse the first time around (I did), you now have a second crack at it. This is a roguelike survival horror game that will play out differently each time. Players work together to explore, scavenge, survive monster attacks, and complete game scenarios. Players may also choose from a variety of character types, so you can test out different strategies and play styles. The all-in rookie pledge is about $90, however, so it's another big hit to the wallet.
3. Dead Throne
Dead Throne claims to be an open world board game with an innovative "mechanical market." (Basically, market cards can be slotted into the game's lid and locked in place.) This game promises a seamless adventuring experience for 1–7 players, but I will be honest—I'd rather see more gameplay videos from previewers who aren't associated with the project. This seems to be Sharkee Games' first venture, and it looks ambitious AF. With a base price tag of $126, Dead Throne would a huge purchase, and I don't personally feel like I've been given enough information to back the project comfortably. At this point, however, it is going to fund, so if you want in...
This week is the week of small yet enticing board games. At the moment, there are several quick and charming games that look like they would be quite enjoyable solo. Plus, the price is right—all of these campaigns offer a game for under $25, including shipping.
1. Fire in the Library
Fire in the Library is a charming filler game that happens to be about my worst nightmare—a library in flames. Your job is to rescue as many books from the fire as possible, both to score points and to be a decent human being. This game has fun push-your-luck mechanics, in that the more you push when trying to rescue books on your turn, the more the fire can spread. You also have to make decisions about how and when to use tools to mitigate the fire. When will you push your luck? Which books will you ultimately save? Also, the solo mode will involve competition against AI players, which means that one-player games will be a bit more robust than the typical beat-your-own-score affair.
They say that the early bird gets the worm. But in Songbirds, the loudest birds get the berries. In this beautifully illustrated card game, you are a forest spirit who prefers a particular color of songbird—and who will try to stack rows and columns with high-scoring birds of your preferred color to ensure that your beloved birdies are well fed. This game looks quick, simple, and charming—but also strategic enough to provide a challenge. The solo variant of this game involves a beat-your-high-score race for victory points, but I think it looks like a relaxing way to spend a few minutes on a busy evening.
3. Cat Rescue
If hungry little birds weren't enough for you, then there is also Cat Rescue. This game is a cooperative effort to save and adopt adorable shelter cats. The draw deck represents cats you are pulling in from the street, and your "shelter" is a 4x4 grid on the game table. You can make cats eligible for adoption by arranging the grid to create rows or columns of matching cat cards. The game ends either when you empty the draw deck or when one foster home is overrun by more than three cats. This is another game where you are going for the most victory points, but again, it looks quick and relaxing—and really cute.
Hey gamers! We are headed into the last couple of weeks of March, and as usual, there are some great-looking solo board games to be found on Kickstarter. Let's get down to business, shall we?
1) Dragon Keepers
For solo gamers who also play with their families, Dragon Keepers looks like a solid choice. This game is about dragon keepers who train dragons and protect them from evil dragon hunters. It comes with several modes of play, including a cooperative mode in which dragon keepers train their dragons to attack the hunters who want to harm them. The art has a fun, whimsical style that is cute without being overly "for kids." The game is definitely not custom built for solo, and you'd have to play by controlling multiple hands, but based on a glance at the rules it looks very doable.
2) Dinosaur Island
This is as close as you can get to "Jurassic Park: The Board Game" without paying licensing fees. Dinosaur Island is a worker placement game in which you build a dinosaur park exciting enough to attract a lot of visitors... while also trying to keep those visitors safe from rampaging dinosaurs. This campaign also allows you to pledge for expansions and for Duelosaur Island, a two-player dino-themed face-off. I'm not planning to back this myself—I played a friend's copy and thought the multiplayer game was fun, but not enough for me to pledge $85 to play it solo. If the theme appeals to you, though, you should give it a look.
3) Architects of the West Kingdom
If you enjoyed the "North Sea" trilogy--Shipwrights of the North Sea, Raiders of the North Sea, and Explorers of the North Sea--then you might enjoy this one as it is designed to be the start of the next trilogy that follows up on those games. It's a worker placement game in which you are competing for glory while building a city, and there is some choice about whether you want to progress as a fine outstanding citizen or as someone who is willing to hire thieves to get things done. There is a fully-developed AI system for solo players to compete with, as well. I'm not planning to back this one, myself, because the North Sea games are now all available in retail stores, and my Kickstarter budget is very small right now. But if you love games in this overall series and you want to get the Kickstarter exclusives, it may be worth it for you.