Kickstarter is still pretty slow for solo gamers right now, at least in my opinion. But there are a couple of projects I'm excited about!
1) Dungeon Alliance (Second Printing + Expansions)
I am a definite fan of Dungeon Alliance, and positively reviewed the base game earlier this year. If you like deck building, puzzling out optimal moves, and building interesting teams of heroes, then Dungeon Alliance is the game for you. Now it's available for reprint, and there are some adventure pack expansions that add campaign play and additional challenges to the base game. This KS campaign also allows you to preorder rubber playmats for all player counts, which I am pumped about because that is one less step to deal with during setup. This was an instaback for me, and I look forward to having even more interesting stuff to add to my Dungeon Alliance games. I play a lot of games, and this is one of the ones I find myself thinking about and itching to get back to the table.
2. Hellenica: Story of Greece
I am a sucker for all things ancient history, so I definitely want to keep an eye on this one. Hellenica is a civilization game in which you control one of several city-states and vie for power and influence throughout the Greek world. There are also several different things to focus on, so you can choose to be warlike, peaceful, pious, philosophical, or a number of other things in your quest for greatness. Some draft rules are available online, and there is definitely an AI deck that can be used to control the movements of multiple non-player city states. I'd be interested in seeing just how complex that AI is—especially since a solo player would be handling all of the upkeep. At $90 for the base game, the price is steep, and I'd want to be entirely sure I was buying an experience I really wanted.
My wallet hasn't been hurting too much for the last couple of months, but with Snowdonia and now some of the projects this week, that is about to change....
1. Thunderstone Quest: Back to the Dungeon
Thunderstone Quest is an updated version of earlier Thunderstone games, which are basically deck building dungeon crawl/adventure games. Although previous editions of Thunderstone have been much-loved by solo gamers, Quest was not released with a solo mode—but it's about to have one. The second printing of Thunderstone Quest will allow you to pick up the base game, as well as rules and extra components for a solo/co-op campaign. Based on pedigree alone, I'm interested in this one. It is, however, ridiculously expensive. It'll run you $150 for the base game plus solo expansion.
2. SiegeStorm: The Siege Mode
Although it is primarily a 1v1 card combat game, SiegeStorm is offering a solo mode and a two-player co-op mode. In both solo-able variants, you will play your cards against one of several interesting-looking bosses to see who comes out victorious. This game advertises itself as learnable in five minutes and playable in 20, but also seems to offer interesting gameplay and deck construction choices. Each card is playable in three different ways, it's possible to build up impressive combos, and there are several factions to try. I'm definitely intrigued. If you want to see more, Ant Lab Games did a playthrough video that should give you a good idea of whether SiegeStorm is for you.
3. Black Orchestra Conspirator Packs
I have not personally played Black Orchestra, a co-op game about assassinating Hitler. I've been hearing a lot of buzz about it, though! If you've tried and enjoyed Black Orchestra, there are some expansion packs being Kickstarted right now. If you want to pick up the base game + conspirator packs, you can do that as well by backing this campaign. The base game is, however, also available at retail for the moment, so plan accordingly.
I'm back from Dice Tower Con and will probably spend my day recovering from a weekend that was entirely too much fun, but I still checked Kickstarter to see what was what in solo-friendly board game campaigns! Here's what I found:
Snowdonia, designed by Tony Boydell, has me really excited. I've wanted to get my hands on a copy for a while, because it's a solo gaming classic that has seen several expansions and new scenarios over the years. Now NSKN is publishing a deluxe edition that contains everything ever published for Snowdonia, plus an all-new scenario. If you like worker placement games, odds are you'll enjoy this one, which is about building railway lines in Wales. The price point is pretty high—$88 plus shipping—but you're getting a great game, plus deluxe components and a ton of expansion material. This one is a definite yes for me.
2. The Abandons: A Solo Labyrinth Escape Game
The Abandons is a solo-only game about exploring a labyrinth. You will draw and place cards to help you navigate to the exit, encountering items and hoping not to dead end along the way. To play, you draw cards from a deck and attempt to place them in ways that prevent you from hitting too many dead ends and never managing to escape the labyrinth. There are also a few items that could help you if you get stuck The Abandons is inexpensive at $13 plus shipping, but I'm not sure how riveting a game it actually is. It's possibly worth a look if you like cheap solitaire games.
3. Gorus Maximus
Gorus Maximus is an adorable—yet bloody—trick taking game with a gladiator theme. I definitely love the art and would be interested in trying it with a group. The price is right ($15 for the basic edition, $20 for the special KS edition). But the solo rules are a recent addition, and I always have my doubts when a solo mode gets added on in the middle of a KS campaign. Also, the fun of a trick taking game is making decisions based on counting cards and contemplating what other people are going to do. For solo, this one seems like a risk.
There are some big projects to talk about on Kickstarter, with even more coming soon! (I know, I do KS updates on Monday, and a lot of big campaigns drop on Tuesdays—it gives me stuff to think about all week!)
1) Dungeon Degenerates
This is a reprint of a previously successful campaign from Goblinko. Dungeon Degenerates is a weird fantasy adventure game in which your party members are escaped criminals. Throughout the game, you'll try to strike the right balance between staying under the radar—you are fugitives after all—and making quicker and more aggressive moves to achieve your goals. The most notable aspect of Dungeon Degenerates is its art, which will be a huge selling point for some, but a turnoff for others. I'm definitely not attracted to the art. In fact, it kind of stresses me out. I am intrigued by some of what I'm hearing about gameplay, but I am not getting a strong feel for the game from the gameplay videos on the KS page. For me, the jury is out on this one.
2. Coldwater Crown: The Sea
The Sea is an expansion for Coldwater Crown, which is a game about competitive fishing. If you don't have the base game, you can pledge to receive it along with The Sea. In Coldwater Crown, your goal is to catch the most and the heaviest fish from different locations. You also have to make choices about which bait to deploy in pursuit of the most impressive fish The solo variant of this game allows you to pit yourself against a dummy player who will give you a run for your money. The Sea gives players the option to take bigger risks in search of better fish. The ocean is unpredictable and means that turns are taken away from the shore, but can yield some impressive catches. I haven't played Coldwater Crown myself, but Jeremy from Jambalaya Plays Games absolutely adores it.
3. The Hunters AD 2114
If you're into big box games with a lot of miniatures, here's another one. This is a cooperative, post-apocalyptic game in which players are "machine hunters" completing missions in an open world. I am intrigued by the promises of "open world" gameplay with a "gripping story," which might be selling points. But I am not getting strong enough vibes to be convinced that it's worth the $100 price tag. Cooperative, post-apocalyptic games with open worlds, story cards, and minis are pretty common these days. If you like the theme, though, it might be for you. I think I'll be saving my cash for my hundredth generic fantasy board game instead.
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.