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.
This week, there are a few interesting-looking solo-playable games on Kickstarter to talk about, but I've still got my eye on mid-October. By the time the middle of the month hits, we'll be getting blasted by so many awesome-looking campaigns that I am legitimately worried I won't be able to back something I really want. Budget carefully, my friends.
1. The Artemis Project
The Artemis Project is a game about colonizing Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. At its heart, this in engine building game, as players are trying to build the most powerful engine and thus the most successful colony. Europa is rich in resources if you know how to get at them. The main mechanic of Artemis Project is dice placement—place your dice cleverly, and you will yield the best results. The rules of this game are still subject to last-minute development/polishing, but Jeremy from Jambalaya Plays Games recently published an overview of the solo mode to YouTube. There are only about 4 days left in this campaign, so act fast if you want it!
2. Viceroy: Times of Darkness
Yet another Viceroy campaign is on Kickstarter, so if you're a fan of the game, rejoice! It hasn't pulled me in yet, but the art looks great, and it's clear this game is getting a lot of support from its publisher. This particular expansion is of note because it features revised rulesets for 1 and 2 players, so if you're into Viceroy and you're into solo gaming, it's clear you are being catered to in this campaign.
3. Heroes of Tenefyr
Heroes of Tenefyr is a cooperative deck building game, one that claims it can be taught in about 5 minutes. In my opinion, that's usually a good thing for a board game. In Heroes of Tenefyr, players will enter dungeons and resolve combat situations using a push-your-luck combat system. As you defeat enemies and clear dungeons, you will acquire coveted loot. But as you keep drawing cards from your deck to favorably resolve combat, you'll get into situations where you need to rest and recover expended cards—a move that brings a big boss closer to attacking you. It seems like a flexible and potentially fun mashup of deck builder and dungeon crawl, and it's only about $20 (...plus $9 shipping to the U.S.). If you like to support first-time Kickstarter publishers, then this is your chance--Heroes of Tenefyr is Broken Mill's first KS project.
Hey there solo gamers! As usual, Kickstarter has some interesting projects for you to look at—but hold on to your wallets, because there are some big projects coming in October that threaten to put us all in the poorhouse.
1. Lockup: A Roll Player Tale
I'm very curious about this one. Lockup is a worker placement game designed by Keith Matejka and set in the Roll Player universe. The premise is that you control a prison gang that is trying to amass power and influence, with the ultimate goal of winning a chance at freedom by being chosen to fight in the colosseum. You'll have to hire crew and build powerful items—but you'll also have to make sure not to alert the prison guards to your illicit activities. I love this theme! Way to make worker placement exciting again.
2. Set a Watch
Set a Watch is a cooperative puzzle game in which you and your friends try to protect nine seals—seals that hold back the Unhallowed—and prevent the world from being overrun by evil. In addition to tracking down and fighting evil, you'll need to manage your resources as you camp all over the countryside. This is definitely a puzzly one, so if you are into fantasy-themed puzzle games, this one might be worth a look.
3. The Stygian Society
This one is a cooperative dungeon crawl designed by Kevin Wilson (Descent, Arkham Horror...) and deliberately constructed to encourage cooperation among players. A large part of the game is sacrificing yourself to help boost others, which ought to be strategically and thematically interesting. The game is set in 1800s Austria, and heroes will fight their way, floor by floor, to the top of a wizard's tower.
October is bringing with it some wallet-destroying Kickstarter campaigns, but in the mean time, there are some interesting September projects that are currently active on KS!
1. Everdell: Pearlbrook
I didn't back Everdell the first time around, but the game was delivered promptly, turned out beautifully, and I'm hearing a lot of good things about it from solo players. It's definitely one of the prettiest games I've seen, and it seems like an enjoyable combination of tableau building and worker placement. I also love that the game has an AI opponent, which prevents it from becoming a beat-your-own-score game and allows the game to put up a bit of a fight against you. The Pearlbrook expansion will take the game beyond the forest and add some seriously adorable river creatures. Money is tight for me right now, but I have my eye on this one.
2. Tiny Epic Mechs
If you're a fan of Tiny Epic games, then there's another one out and awaiting your support. Expect mechs with ITEMeeples, action programming, and lots of combat. The deluxe edition of the game is only $25, which is extremely reasonable. The current KS videos and rules do NOT include information about solo play, but Gamelyn Games has traditionally supported solo gamers, and Michael Coe has announced that a solo version of the game is in development.
3. Warfighter Modern — Shadow War
I have been itching to play Warfighter for a long time now, and this does look really good. This Warfighter game will pit U.S. soldiers against North Korean enemies, and you will need to choose the best soldiers and gear for the job as you complete the game's missions. It looks great, and I'd be very interested in backing the base game at $60—EXCEPT that I have some issues with the way this Kickstarter is being run. At the $60 pledge level, you can purchase add-ons but you do not get stretch goals. If you want stretch goals, you have to back at the next pledge level to the tune of $110. That is a HUGE jump, and I can't say that I consider that good Kickstarter practice. Companies want to make money, I know, but I wouldn't want to back a game and then feel "not good enough" to get stretch goals.
Hey solo gamers! There are plenty of projects to admire on Kickstarter this week, including a couple that I'll be backing myself.
1. Football Highlights 2052
If you have been reading my site for a while, you know that I love a game called Baseball Highlights 2045. Now there is a Football Highlights 2052 from the same designer, and I am all over it. Cyborg football players? Drafting your dream team? Quick and clever cardplay? Football Highlights 2045 will include all of these things, and while I am looking forward to playing it two-player, I also trust Mike Fitzgerald to have a solid solo mode for this game. And at $33 for the base game, the price is right.
2. Draconis Invasion: Wrath
I haven't played this deck builder myself, but I have heard plenty of buzz about it. Draconis: Invastion is a fantasy deck building game that is raising money for a reprint as well as for an expansion. You (and up to 5 other people) will need to fend off the forces of evil, while also managing fear and fatigue. From what I can tell, Draconis: Invasion is a pretty typical deck builder with a nice fantasy theme. If you're into that sort of thing, it's probably a good one to look into.
3. Machina Arcana: From Beyond
Cooperative steampunk horror dungeon crawl. If that sounds like your sort of thing, then Machina Arcana is for you. The core game is $50, and the premium one is $75. I will be honest, I don't personally see anything in it to make it different from all of the other dungeon crawls sitting on my shelf that offer campaign play and that never see enough table time. But if you particularly dig steampunk themes, this may scratch an itch that all of the fantasy games out there can't quite reach.
After a couple of low-excitement weeks, Kickstarter is picking back up. Hold onto your butts—especially if you keep your wallet in your back pocket!
1) Pax Pamir, 2nd ed.
Pax Pamir is a game set in Afghanistan and that focuses on Afghan struggles for power after the fall of the Durrani Empire. It's semi-cooperative: Players will need to work together towards common goals, but there is only one winner. Ricky Royal designed the original solo mode, and will also be working on the solo variant for the new edition of this game, which automatically catches my interest. The second edition of Pax Pamir is also supposed to be much more streamlined than the original. Cole Werhle, who is also the designer of Root and John Company, has made it clear that he is revisiting one of his earlier designs and applying what he's learned over the years. I'm interested in this one, and would have already gone for it if the price weren't so high. (Think $70, dang.)
2) A Thief's Fortune
A Thief's Fortune is a card drafting/engine building game that involves both thievery and time travel, as well as a cool Aladdin vibe. Each player in a multiplayer game represents a different possible future of the same character, which is conceptually quite interesting. The solo version of A Thief's Fortune involves pursuing specific achievements within a solo game. Slickerdrips has a nice playthrough on the KS page, and I generally like his taste in games. And at $36, the price is right for this game. (Although shipping will run you an additional $10.)
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.