Life has been crazy for me in the past month or two, but I'm getting back into my groove! And part of that groove involves perusing Kickstarter and finding games of potential interest to solo players... so without further ado, let's look at some.
1. Hour of Need
I am a huge fan of the Modular Deck System developed by Adam and Brady Sadler, and Hour of Need is another MDS game based on superheroes. MDS games share quite a bit of DNA with my current favorite superhero game, Sentinels of the Multiverse, so I am very curious about whether a more tactical version of Sentinels with a few more Sadler twists will make Hour of Need my new go-to. The KS campaign is offering you quite a bit for your money, and an all-in pledge is $109. I personally won't be missing this one.
2. Thunderbolt-Apache Leader (and others)
One of my top solo games is reprinting right now! Dan Verssen Games is doing a reprint and expansion of Thunderbolt-Apache Leader, along with Fleet Commander Nimitz and Tiger Leader. I haven't played the latter two, but TAL is a phenomenal solo game that I recommend for anyone who loves the idea of a campaign game where you carefully choose your pilots, aircraft, and weapons for maximum destruction against the enemy... with some luck thrown in for good measure to make a mess of all your careful planning. If I didn't own TAL already, I'd back it, and I'm definitely eyeing the expansion!
There are several other active Kickstarter campaigns I could mention, but you know what? I won't. These are the two games I am legitimately excited about right now, and ones I would drop my own personal money on.
Kickstarter is alive, well, and full of very interesting projects! This is the month in which my wallet gently weeps.
1. Roll Player: Fiends & Familiars
It's no secret that I'm a fan of Roll Player. So there's no way I'm going to miss this expansion, which adds new monsters, new characters, and pets. Awesome fantasy pets! There's also a big box version of the expansion, which will come in a box designed to hold the base game, Monsters & Minions, and Fiends & Familiars. This was an instaback for me.
2. The Isle of Cats
Frank West, designer of City of Kings, has a new game out--Isle of Cats! Ok, so officially the title starts with "the," but just say Isle of Cats out loud and you'll understand why I never intend to use the full title outside of formal review settings. In this game, your goal is to rescue cats from an island by fitting them onto your boat in the correct configurations. This is much more difficult than you'd think, because, well, cats—and polyominoes, which basically means Patchwork, plus cats. This premise has me hooked, and I am excited to get a crack at the full game.
3. Dwellings of Eldervale
I haven't been tracking this game very closely, but the art looks great. This game has a lot going on—asymmetrical factions, but also worker placement and area control. It has a fantasy theme, so you should expect some big monster fights, as well as interesting magical discoveries. If you're into deluxe add-ons, Dwellings of Eldervale also has some pretty swank-looking minis. It looks like there's a lot going on here, and I am planning to take a closer look at this one myself.
It's been a while since I've done one of these. But I'm back in the saddle, and ready to see what I see!
1. Thunderstone Quest: New Horizons
After the recent delivery of the To the Barricades! pledges, AEG is back with another Thunderstone Quest expansion. Get ready for some new quests! I do, however, plan to exercise some caution with this one. Why? Because I haven't had time to play To the Barricades! yet, and I have no idea whether I want to keep investing in this series. Not gonna lie, I feel a little bit rushed. So while I love deck builders, and I'm interested in the scope of this game world, I am not ready to commit more until I've had a chance to seriously enjoy the previous installments.
2. For What Remains
Regular readers will know that I'm quite the fan of David Thompson's Pavlov's House. His current game from DVG, For What Remains, is currently on Kickstarter. For What Remains is a post-apocalyptic skirmish game for 1–2 players, that comes in three separate installments. You can either follow the story through all three boxes, or choose one . that interests you most. Either way, expect plenty of replayability.
3. Iron Clays & Spades
This isn't a game—just luxury components for all of your games! Iron clays are some pretty sexy poker chips. If you've played the reprint of Brass, then you've probably encountered them. They're definitely a splurge and not a necessary addition to your gameplay, but my goodness they are pretty! I've been thinking about getting some nice coins or other components to use with multiple games, and I think these might be it. You can also get some really nice playing cards, which are useful for a number of purposes.
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.