Crowdfunding Board Games: What Are You Looking For?

Pledging for Plebes

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By @ravingmadfolio (contributor)

As if we’re not going to talk about board games enough, let’s talk about backing board game campaigns in crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

For most people, board games are bought at a brick and mortar shop or through an online store, such as Amazon, or a combination of both.  But there’s a fairly decent demographic of gamers who do go to crowdfunding websites to score their next board game gem.

While I’m not about to generalise what people are looking for, however, I will share why I would opt to back or decide against backing a campaign.

Allow me to describe my board games library as eclectic.  No one in my family plays board games unless it’s short and sweet, like “Tsuro”.  On the other end of that spectrum are the friends I have made at board game meet ups.  They are the people with whom I play a wide range of games, with the genres ranging from deck-building to economic to heavy Euro to racing to route-building.  Good examples of such games include “Brass” (which, ironically, there will be an upcoming Kickstarter campaign for a reprint), “Concordia“, “Trains“, and “Vinhos Deluxe Edition“.   While not too many of my friends share the same degree of enthusiasm for board games as me, many of them are willing to play something easy.  “Jamaica” and “Parade” immediately come to mind.

And then, of course, there are my friends’ progeny.  Boys, now aged 9-12, whose exposure to board games and “Hero Kids” RPG were brought on because I wanted to encourage them to learn to behave and interact independently with strangers when we go on our movie outings without their mother.  Through “Splendor”, they learned to be accountable for the money they get to spend at the concession while gaining a small taste of autonomy.  I had also introduced them to “Carcassonne” and “Hey! That’s My Fish!” and encouraging them to learn to avoid linear thinking by examining other alternatives to solving (albeit fairly simple) problems.

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Hey! That’s My Fish! by Gunter Cornett & Alvydas Jakeliunas.

So when it comes to board games acquisition via crowdfunding websites, I take into consideration the following:

  1. What is the age range that the game designer(s) want to attract?
  2. If the game is children-friendly, what are the skills that I hope to impart to the kids?
  3. Is the game easy to teach?
  4. Will there be a high degree of replayability for this game?
  5. Will adults enjoy it?
  6. Is the game worth the cost? (once I’ve factored in shipping and duty and USD exchange rate)

Keep in mind that not all my choices are based around accommodating kids.  I’ve chosen to back games based on how well the designers presented the game and how it’s played on video and my own gut instinct.

For instance, a mutual friend of ours had a chance to play a fantasy-themed game involving dragons along with the expansion at BGG Con in Texas back in 2015.  She was so excited about it that she had strongly recommended that I look into backing it on Kickstarter a few days before the campaign ended.  So, riding in the wake of her enthusiasm, I took a look at the video of their base game on Kickstarter and was not overly thrilled.  Despite her reassurance that the expansion makes the game better, I decided not to back the campaign (not that it made any difference because they had surpassed their goal by then) and waited for my friend to receive her Kickstarter copy in the post.  Once we’ve played the game with the expansion I was able to determine that I liked it well enough to buy it online and, luckily, the store was selling the Kickstarter copy so I was still able to acquire all the stretch goals with the base game and game expansion.  The real bonus came as a revelation: I saved about US$20-30 just by buying them from an online website belonging to a brick and mortar store based in the Toronto area.

While the cost and unpredictability of crowdfunding campaigns aren’t everyone’s cuppa, there can be some gems to be found online so long as you know what you are looking for.  I was recently play testing a fantasy-themed game involving tiles and grid movements with a hand management component for 4-players at a local board games convention.  The players are split into two teams, and based on your meeples’ location and the cards in your hand, the sequence in which the cards are played will dictate the moves you’re able to make with either the tile, meeple, or dragon.  The game’s design was clean and simple, and it appeals to a broad audience.  I knew right then and there that I would go home at the end of the day and back the campaign because it’s the right kind of game that everyone I know can easily learn to play.  And the fact that it has a cooperation/ teamwork element made the game even more appealing.  It’s small and portable, and cost-wise it was a fraction of what’s normally seen in other campaigns.  Because this game checked off so many pre-reqs boxes, I was sold on it immediately.

There you have it.  Abide by the general advice of knowing what you’re looking for and not letting other people’s enthusiasm overtake your critical thinking skills and you should be able to judge for yourself if crowdfunded board games are the right fit for you.  It may take one or two games pledges to get you on to the right track so be patient.  Just because you missed out on that one Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find it in retail stores.

Good luck and happy pledging!

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Author: ravingmadfolio

@ravingmadfolio is an avid board gamer, amateur ukulele player, tea enthusiast, geocacher, vinyl lover, and Random Rambler (by pen and on foot).

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