What to Kickstart: March 2013

It’s a great time to be a board game fan! Crowd-sourcing sites like Kickstarter are offering more and more board games for players to choose from. In this post we’d like to review some of the best projects that you can support, but first let’s take a quick look at what Kickstarter is, for the uninitiated. If you’re familiar with Kickstarter then just scroll down to the bottom for our take on the hot Kickstarter projects going on right now.

kickstarter-badge-fundedKickstarter (and others like it, though for board games, Kickstarter is the dominant player) is a crowd-sourcing site. What this means is a person or a company has a project (can be almost anything – but in this case, let’s focus on board games) and they want some financial support from the world. The company sets a target for how much money they need, and then they set how long they’d like the campaign to last – usually around 30 days.

People then go to their Kickstarter site and show their support by ‘investing’ in the project.The company has set a variety of different levels that people can invest. The basic level is usually the cost of one game. By investing at this level will mean that if the project gets funded then they will receive a copy of the game. So effectively what we’re all doing is pre-ordering a copy of the game.

After the allotted time, if the company did not reach their target, then it is not funded and no one is charged anything. If the target is reached then everyone is charged the amount they invested and the project is happening!

To me, this is a fantastic model. Companies put out a game on Kickstarter to see if the public is interested and if the public shows interest in it, then it gets funded and the game is released. If no one is interested in the game, then it won’t happen and will save that company money from investing their own money and trying to release it.Currently 34% of ll games (which includes video games) on Kickstarter have been funded.

Kickstarting board games has been going on for a few years now and there has been an evolving art to how to run a successful campaign. I won’t go into all the details, mostly because I haven’t been involved in a Kickstarter project (yet!), but there’s a skill in determining the Stretch Goals and various packages. Stretch Goals are funding targets that are higher than their original funding target – and if a Stretch Goal is hit then all backers will get some sort of bonus. Usually it’s more content for the game, which can sometimes be an exclusive for Kickstarter backers and sometimes it will even be available in the retail version.

So that’s Kickstarter in a somewhat over-sized nutshell. Sen and I have already been backers for quite a few projects already, including:

  • D-Day DIce – this one was huge! They wanted $13,000 but raised $171,805. 1321% of their goal!
  • Sentinels of the Universe – Another huge one. $20,000 target but raised $185,200. 926% of their goal!
  • Garden DIce – with art by the amazing Josh Cappel. $10,000 target but raised $15,897. 158% of their goal.
  • Kings of Air and Steam – published by Tasty Minstrel Games with art by good ole Josh Cappel. $10,000 target but raised $41,722. 417% of their goal.
  • Ground Floor – another Tasty Minstrel Game. $15,000 target but raised $116,894. 779% of their goal. One of their Stretch Goals was at $75,000 where everyone who backed the game got another game for FREE called Skyline!
  • Frankendie – a fun party dice game. Goal was $10,000 and raised $13,127. 138% of their goal.
  • Top This! – a flicking game about pizza! Goal was $15,000 and they raised $16,431. 109% of their goal.
  • Airborne in Your Pocket – $30,000 goal but raised $102,010. 340% of their goal.

So far we’ve been pleased with all our Kickstarter games! Here are the ones we’re backing right now – and you can join in if you feel so inclined!

dungeon-rollDungeon Roll – by Tasty Minstrel Games. This one has caught on and still has 10 days left. They wanted $15,000 but are currently up to $106,000! Lots of Stretch Goals have been unlocked so you’re getting a lot for your $15!



Maze of Games – From game designer Mike Selinker (designer of dozens of games) has created a book full of games, mazes and puzzles. It looks amazing! I secretly think he created this just for me! He targeted $16,000 but has so far raised $137,804! Only 5 days left and so many Stretch Goals have been smashed, so you’re going to get your money’s worth!




Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination – this game has quality oozing all over it. They wanted $23,000 but have so far raised $320,437!! Wow! 10 Days still remain. They’ve added a bunch of new options, including a Deluxe wooden box that looks pretty sweet!

What other board games should we keep our eye on that’s being Kickstarted?

-Jay Cormier

The Gathering of Friends: Part 2 – The Lay of the Land

When I got to the Gathering I got my name badge and a goodie bag full of freebies! The goodie bag had some card games (including a special Tichu deck with new pictures of people who have attended the Gathering in the past), some expansions to other games (like the expansion to fellow GAC member, Roberta Taylor’s Octopus’ Garden) and even the full box version of Two by Two from Valley Games (and designed by fellow GAC member, Rob Bartel!).

The name badge system was awesome as they were colour coded to help you identify people a lot easier. With this information it was easy to identify the publishers as you walked around.

  • Red Badge: First year attendee (so I had a red badge!). Generally speaking, red badge attendees are always welcomed by others and made to feel at home pretty quickly. People were constantly shaking my hand and welcoming me to the Gathering. It was very nice!
  • Grey Badge: Anyone who has been to the Gathering for the last 9 years
  • Black Badge: Anyone who has been to the Gathering for 10 years or more
  • Blue Badge: Publishers

    After I got my badge, I surveyed the layout.

Basically there was a large convention room with tons of tables set up for open gaming. Off to one side were the prize tables! Everyone was encouraged to bring something for the prize table. If you contributed to the prize table, then you could participate in the prize draw at the end of the Gathering. Near the Prize tables was a table full of brochures for local restaurants and more freebies. I found an expansion to Valdora and another for Mondo there! Around the edges of the room were tables where people stored the games they brought.

Oh look, Pierre Poissant-Marquis (right), half of the design team of the game Quebec is playing Belfort!

Generally speaking, anyone could grab any game and start playing at any time, as long as they returned it when they were done with it. Outside of the convention room were a few open areas with more tables ready for open gaming. These tables were used for the poker tournament that happened on one night. Finally, down the hall there were a couple of rooms with a few more tables. During the day we found these to be a bit quieter and therefore made it a favourite spot for us to pitch to publishers. In the late evening one of these rooms were used for a large Werewolf tournament! There were always water stations all over the place to ensure you stayed hydrated throughout the event, so that was nice! On a whole, the hotel and its staff, while a bit gungy (the hotel, not the staff), were prepared and made us feel welcome.

I found Rob and saw that he had a spot along the tables around the edges of the room, so I added my prototypes to his pile. Once we were set up then we were free to either start our own game, or join another group that’s about to start playing a game. It was always easy to find people to play a game of anything! Some of the times it would be a prototype and other times it would be a ‘regular’ game. There were a lot of designers there who, like Rob and I, were looking to get some feedback on their designs, as well as pitch to publishers. Friedemann Friese had a table dedicated to his games for the entire event. I wanted to check them out but never seemed to line up when the table was free. While the hotel offered a mini café in the latter half of the week, most of the meals were either at TGIF, which was in the same hotel, or a restaurant in the casino across the street. Sometimes people with cars would drive others to another local establishment nearby (Duff’s Buffalo wings!) or a few times we walked to a nearby Indian restaurant.

Even though I stayed up late on some days (3am) and woke up early on other days (8am), there were always people playing games somewhere in the convention area! Sleep is for chumps!

There were quite a few tournaments throughout the week ranging from 7 Wonders and Tichu to Loopin’ Louie and poker. The winners of each tournament got first choice of the prize table on Saturday night! Before the prize ceremony there was a flea market. Those that could travel with their assortment of games offered them up for sale to the rest of us. Since most people had to fly, it was a tough decision on what they could buy and what they could pack! I managed to pick up a copy of El Cabellero – a Wolfgang Kramer game that is out of print and one that I’ve been looking to get for a long time now!

[Sen:  Really?  That’s the single game of my collection that I’ve ever sold, IIRC.  Well, you know what they say about one man’s treasure…]

The prize ceremony was really the only time we were all together as one group. The hotel removed all the gaming tables and set up chairs theatre-style to fit all 400 of us in the room. Alan took the microphone and reviewed some things about the next year (I’m already pre-registered!), and then showed off the high-end prizes that people brought for the prize table. Some of the highlights included:

  • a crokinole board made by fellow GAC member, Mike Kolross, (plus graphic design by another GAC member, Mark Klassen) in the shape of a record with the label being Alan Moon’s Ticket to Ride,
  • handmade table covering with a Tichu mat on one side and a Can’t Stop and Liar’s Dice on the other – complete with all the dice and cups
  • a copy of the impossible-to-find game, Hotel
  • Big Boss from Wolfgang Kramer – another hard to find game
  • The Cookies of Catan – a fully playable and edible game of Settlers of Catan!
  • Line for Life for an upcoming game called D-Day Dice (designed by another fellow GAC member, Emmanuel Aquin). The Line for Life meant that the person would receive every expansion they ever make for this game for free!

I was called somewhere in the middle of the pack, but I managed to get the exact game I was hoping to pick up – Castles of Burgundy.  It was a game I had wanted to pick up in Essen last year, but they sold out too quick!

Up next I’ll get into the specifics of what it’s like to pitch to publishers at the Gathering!

-Jay Cormier

Most Anticipated Games of 2012?

The Boardgamegeek site is having a poll to see which games are the 20 most anticipated of 2012. They listed 50 different games that had the most nominations for the last couple of weeks. It looks like the unnamed Belfort expansion is in the running for a few categories.

If you’re anticipating an expansion for Belfort, feel free to cast your vote* on the following categories:


Category: Fantasy/Medieval

Category: Economic

There’s also a couple games from other Game Artisans of Canada on the list as well: Frankendie (Horror, Dice, Original, Overall) and D-Day Dice (Wargame, Historical, Dice, Original, Overall).

This list acts as a beacon of what to look out for in the coming year so check back after Jan 15th to see what made the cut!

* yes, you do have to register on the site before your vote will count!

-Jay Cormier