After a sluggish start this year, Kickstarter campaigns are really starting to pick up! I'm still waiting on some specific projects to appear, so I am trying not to make pledges right now. But a few games have definitely caught my attention!
1. Isles of Terror
This is a bright, colorful game that is available with or without miniatures. It's playable in either competitive or cooperative mode, which means that solo will be possible. Each game can be treated as part of an overarching campaign that will allow you to play through a broader story, but you will need victory points to win—victory points earned through in-game progress and completion of objectives. If you dig pirates, exploration, and miniatures, Isles of Terror looks like a possible game of interest for you.
2. Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star and Xia: Missions and Powers
Xia is a sandbox space exploration game with an expansion that allows players to enjoy it solo. There is an all-in pledge available for those who do not have the game but are thinking about jumping on board now. The ultimate goal in Xia is to come out with the most victory points, but a lot can happen along the way. You have considerable flexibility: some players will choose to build a vast empire as space merchants, while others might become space pirates. I have not yet played Xia myself, but it gets a lot of love in the solo community. If it sounds like your sort of thing, you should look into it further.
3. Fields of Green: Grand Fair
Fields of Green is a farming game in which players draft cards, then use those cards to build the most satisfying farming engines possible. Grand Fair is an expansion that allows farmers to enter into events at the state fair and grow their agribusinesses in new ways. It also adds solo rules, which were not included in the base game. If you like card drafting, engine building, and farming games, you can add Fields of Green to the list of games with official solo rules. You can pledge for both the base game and the expansion during the current Kickstarter campaign.
I'm still holding out for a few upcoming Kickstarter campaigns, but as usual, there are campaigns of interest for solo gamers that are currently active.
Nemesis has a sci-fi theme and involves surviving in a hostile, alien-infested ship. If you like survival horror games that conjure a persistent sense of dread, this might be a good one for you. One of the more interesting aspects of the game, to me, is that it's more about survival than about killing waves of aliens—and there is a noise mechanic to encourage stealth. Stealth in board games is a particular area of interest for me, so I'll be keeping an eye on this one. If you want to see the game in action, there is an extensive preview from Ant Lab Games:
2. Tiny Epic Zombies
Survival horror seems to be a common theme right now, given that another hot Kickstarter of the moment is Tiny Epic Zombies from Gamelyn Games. I've never felt the call of the "Tiny Epic" games, but if they are your thing, Tiny Epic Zombies looks pretty good. This entry into the series will see the continuation of ITEMeeples, as well as vehicles that meeples can ride. It also includes five different playstyles, including cooperative, competitive, solo, and cooperative/competitive with a zombie player. If nothing else, that's a lot of stuff in a tiny box, and for a pretty good price ($25 for the deluxe version).
That said, I still have TRULY mixed feelings about ITEMeeples:
I've been on the road for the past week, but that hasn't stopped me from occasionally checking Kickstarter to look for upcoming solo-playable games. I haven't committed to backing anything at the moment—last year was financially draining and I'm feeling picky—but the new year has definitely brought some intriguing options:
1. Corsair Leader
Another game in the Air Leader series, Corsair Leader will take players to WWII, You'll be able to choose to campaign as the Navy or as the Marines, and you will pilot different aircraft (and encounter different enemies) based on the year you are playing in. The combination of thrilling air combat with well-researched history will make this game a winner for a lot of solo gamers, especially those who are fans of the Air Leader series already. As for me, Thunderbolt: Apache Leader is on my shelf waiting to be played this year, so I'll wait on this one until I've had a chance to play the one I've already got.
2. Neanderthal and Greenland
This Kickstarter campaign is for a reprint of two games by Phil Eklund that have been a bit difficult to find. Both are meant to simulate survival in difficult situations. I'm on the fence about these—some solo gamers, most notably Ricky Royal, love Phil Eklund games. But others have indicated that the games are clever and impressive but ultimately not that fun to play. Eklund is clearly a brilliant designer but perhaps also an acquired taste, so I'll be thinking about this one.
This campaign is ending soon (January 25) and has raised quite a bit of money. Everdell is a worker placement/tableau building game set in a beautiful world of woodland creatures, one that reminds me of the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. The art definitely attracts me, and I am also a huge sucker for stories about adorable critters. Redwall and Watership Down were key childhood reads, and I was delighted to discover Mouse Guard. Everdell looks like a worker placement implementation of that sort of world. That said, it's worker placement. Will the theme and the mechanics work in ways that are satisfying, or is this a dry game with amazing art and a great theme? I guess we'll find out!
After a pretty punishing year for wallets on Kickstarter, things have slowed down for the holiday season. Nevertheless, there are a couple of active projects that offer options for solo play. My own dollars are tied up with Nemo's War at the moment, but maybe one of these projects is for you:
Stalingrad: Inferno on the Volga
If WWII is your thing, you may love Stalingrad: Inferno on the Volga. This project is very obviously a labor of love, with game maps based on actual photographs of the areas you encounter in the game. Stalingrad also started life as a solo game, which means that it is tailored to the single player experience rather than having a solo mode tacked on at the end. If you are both a gamer and a history buff, this might be a good choice for you.
It's simple, it's quick, and it fits on a game board the size of a large postcard. Postcard Dungeons is currently designed for 2–6 players, but solo play is possible if you don't mind trying to beat your own score. One of the later stretch goals is a co-op mode that would make more interesting solo play a possibility.
I've already mentioned most of the solo-playable Kickstarters that have recently caught my eye, but last week we got a good one: Victory Point Games is doing a reprint of Nemo's War with a new expansion. I missed the boat (ha!) on Nemo's War the last time around, but reviewers I trust have generated so much positive buzz about it that I plan to pledge this time. Also, the price is right: For $59 plus shipping, you can get the game and its new expansion.
One thing I find refreshing about this particular Kickstarter campaign is its simplicity. No complicated tiers, no stretch goals, no hype. It's just a straight-up pledge for a copy of the game. I know a lot of people feel uncomfortable with publishers using Kickstarter as a glorified pre-order system, but that ship has sailed. I'm just going to enjoy the fact that I can feel sure of getting a copy of Nemo's War with minimal drama and without inbox-clogging updates about endless stretch goals.
I haven't played it yet, but Nemo's War is also important to me because it is a smash hit solitaire game. Supporting it is a way of communicating to publishers that solo-playable games—even games made just for solo play—are worth creating. Sail on, Nemo!
Once again, I am pleased to see so many Kickstarter campaigns that cater to solo players. Here is a small selection of potentially interesting solo-playable games with active campaigns on Kickstarter. I am not currently backing any of them (not in the budget), but I am still happy that they exist.
Book of Dragons
Book of Dragons is a card game system that is designed to allow you to use the same set of cards to play several different games. The art in this card system is lovely, and if enough people invest, there will be essentially endless possibilities for gameplay. The open nature of the system, however, will probably lead to a mixed bag of gaming options. So far there is only one set of solitaire rules, but the design is by Daniel Solis, which is definitely a good sign. You can read the solo game rules here, if you're interested.
This game is based on an actual historical event—a failed attempt by the Scottish to build a trading colony in the Isthmus of Panama. In this fictional reenactment, colonists battle the elements as represented by the four horsemen of the apocalypse. This worker placement and resource management game can be played either competitively or cooperatively, and is explicitly designed for 1–4 players. Darien Apocalypse caught my eye in part because Ricky Royal did a preview for it, and if anyone can be called a tastemaker in the world of solo gaming, it's Ricky Royal. However, I'm a bit unsure of the theme (in my mind, the apocalypse part doesn't totally hook up with Scottish colony worker placement). Also, the description on the campaign page asks, "How will you fair (sic) against these infernal forces?" Typos happen. Hell, there are probably several on my blog! But I'd say that they should not happen in your top-of-the-page Kickstarter copy.
Simulacra Games: The Wilson Wolfe Affair
This one seems like a lot of fun. The premise of this game, which can be played solo or cooperatively, is that you receive a seemingly-innocuous box of cartoon memorabilia. Not all is as it seems, however—hidden within all of that cartoon art are clues to a mystery of global proportions. I already love mystery games like Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, and it would be so much fun to get to sift through the evidence myself rather than simply read about it. It's likely that The Wilson Wolfe Affair is a game that I would really enjoy. I just wish it weren't so expensive! The base game is approximately $79 US, which is pretty steep given that a mystery game of this nature is unlikely to have a lot of replay value. I'm expecting a hundred or more hours of gameplay out of Gloomhaven, which I backed on Kickstarter for $99. Also, if you want a mystery puzzle, you can get a more bare-bones escape room game for $15 or less. If I were rolling in cash, though, I'd totally back this.
As usual, I spent a bit of time this week messing around on Kickstarter and looking for games of possible interest. I am not backing any of these projects, but it makes me happy to see that there are so many solo-playable games on Kickstarter. The more game designers who cater to solo play, the better!
This game is set in the world of Jane Austen, and it might be a good match for fans of Regency or Victorian England. The premise of the game is that your family estate is falling into ruin, but you've just acquired a sizable inheritance with which to repair it. The game seems to incorporate several different mechanisms and to have a lot of things going on at once. Deck building, worker placement, improvement tiles, and various ways of earning VP all have a role to play. I am not totally sure that everything will gel together well, but the theme of the game appeals to me, and I'll be keeping an eye out for reviews after backers have received their copies. The graphic design as displayed on the Kickstarter page also leaves much to be desired, but I don't always judge a book by its cover, or I never would have read Pride and Prejudice to begin with!
Claims of Gold
In this game, you are trying to lay claim to a rich plot of land during the gold rush. To keep it for yourself, you need to mine the most gold. To do that, you place workers, claim actions, and push your luck just a bit in hopes of squeezing out every last bit of profit from your efforts. Although it is a worker placement game, Claims of Gold bills itself as an easy game to learn and play, even for non-gamers. It also has a relatively short projected length (30 minutes), which makes it possible as a filler or a relaxing game for work nights when you don't have the energy to play something intense.
Dragon Canyon is a skirmish game for 1–5 players in which each player controls a tribe aiming for dominance and glory. Players must accumulate resources and maintain control over various territories. To gain resources, you can either use heroes to acquire them or have an outright battle with your fellow players to steal what they have. You can also eventually summon dragons, which sounds pretty good to me. Depending on stretch goal progress, you might also be able to connect with a spirit dinosaur. The solo version of this game will involve use of an AI deck, which will hopefully make for a quick and entertaining puzzle.
Hello from San Antonio! I am back in my hometown visiting family for a couple of days, but that doesn't stop me from perusing Kickstarter and getting excited about upcoming games. Here are a few of this week's interesting Kickstarter campaigns that cater to solo gamers:
1. D-Day Dice: 2nd Edition
D-Day Dice is a classic solo game that has appeared on several lists of top solo board games. It's been on my radar for a long time, and I'm happy to see a reprint with an expansion. If you enjoy dice, games about war, and solo play, this one might be a good fit for you. I am interested to try it as a gamer who has been hearing good things about it for several years.
2. Brass Empire: New Canton Expansion + Reprint
I love deck builders and I love story driven games, so there might be something really cool here. Brass Empire is a deck builder with a steampunk theme. The New Canton expansion will allow you to play through a campaign as a specific character, with the possibility of replaying the campaign from the point of view of other characters in the game. I am definitely intrigued by this one, although I wish there were more reviews of the first edition! (I like being able to look at several before taking the plunge.) Most of what I have seen makes Brass Empire sound like your standard deck builder, which is fine if you're into that. Generally, I am into that, and a campaign mode also sounds pretty interesting.
3. Folklore: The Affliction
This one looks like a bunch of good, Ameritrashy fun. It's a reprint with an expansion, so Folklore is definitely doing it for some people. The character types look different, too—mages and clerics are fun, but it would be a novel thing to play as an archaeologist or a telepath. There are a few things holding me back from pledging, though. The first is the price. I just can't swing another expensive game right now! The second is that I have already bought into a bunch of fantasy-RPG-adventure type games that are on my to-play list. Gloomhaven is here, I still need to dig into Sword & Sorcery, and I went for the Gloom of Kilforth reprint. I'm a little overloaded at the moment. Last... well, the writing. I'm getting more sensitive to the flavor text in my games, and the line about a creature "who drinks the cherry blood of his guests" killed my immersion immediately. Cherry? Seriously? Sometimes it's a totally stupid thing that has the most impact on you.
Although my wallet is tapped out for now, I still enjoy contemplating upcoming games, and there are a couple of interesting Kickstarter campaigns on my radar.
I initially didn't consider Root at all because there were no solo or co-op variants for the game. It is essentially a war game in which animal factions with asymmetric powers vie for control of a forest. This past week, solo and co-op modes were added as the result of a stretch goal, but I'm not entirely sold. I can't reliably get specific games to my table unless I intend to play them on my own. And I don't want to buy a game for its solo variant if it's just an afterthought. It's clear, however, that Root is really well put together. The art alone is tremendously compelling, and it's clear that a lot of thought has gone into making the mechanics both fun and accessible. I'll keep watching this one for sure.
2. Dawn of Peacemakers
So many of our games involve violent conflict and aggression. I'm very interested to see what Dawn of Peacemakers will add to the mix. Your goal in this cooperative game is to convince two warring factions to stop fighting each other, even if you have to be a bit manipulative to make it happen. I think that's a great concept for a game. Dawn of Peacemakers can be played as a campaign, which means that you will experience an overarching storyline. The designer has also emphasized, however, that this is not a legacy game. The game scenarios will be replayable, so you can try out different strategies. I would really like to see this one make it, even though I'm not likely to have the funds to contribute myself. So far, though, the funding for this campaign has been a bit sluggish—I suspect because of the $89 + shipping price point.
Last thought: Is the theme of this week actually Kickstarters with cute animal art?
Although I don't have the money to back anything new right now, I am definitely keeping an eye on Kickstarter. So many good solo games pop up there! Here are a few of the possible gems that came to my attention this week:
1. Legends of Sleepy Hollow
This project from Dice Hate Me Games is definitely aesthetically pleasing, and the gameplay looks interesting as well. It's a cooperative game that involves fear as a mechanic that actually affects your characters' abilities, which is something I love. (I know that Level 7: Escape is a bit of a cracked gem, but I love the fear mechanic in that game as well.) I also like that this is a campaign game with replayable scenarios and possibilities for expansion.
2. Perdition's Mouth - Revised Edition
A version of this game was previously funded on Kickstarter, and Perdition's Mouth promises something very interesting: an intense dungeon crawling experience, but with minimal time to set up and learn the game. The game also promises short playtimes. Given that this game compares itself to other games like Gloomhaven, which can have a very long runtime, I am intrigued.
3. Monster Lands
This strategic dice placement game looks like a pretty good time. You build up your power and resources, then fight epic battles against monsters. The art looks good, the game comes with cool custom dice, and I am particularly intrigued by the fact that you can choose how you want to approach your monster battles. (Do you want to build traps? Brew potions? Both of these are options!) I also like that the game's style is more cute than scary. A lot of what I've been playing recently takes such a serious tone. This one might be a good aesthetic breather.