Table Tyrant recently launched Smiths of Winterforge on Kickstarter and has hit the ground running. Smiths has you controlling one of 6 Dwarven blacksmiths guilds vying to complete a royal contract and become the most renowned guild in the kingdom. I had a chance to play an extremely polished prototype of the game (seriously, it’s nice) to get some initial impressions for Table Tyrants campaign.

I played Smiths with my two older kids, my 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. Running through the rules there weren’t any major snags and we were able to setup and get the game going with very little fuss. There was an errata sent to us early on, so we got to play with the latest set of rules.

The Kickstarter page gives a great overview on how the game is played, so I won’t repeat that here. What I will say is that Smiths of Winterforge is well made, well designed, and it feels like a lot of care was put into the project as a whole. My kids and I had a great time playing. I will say that figuring out a good strategy takes some time, but in my opinion, that’s the mark of good design. I  already mentioned how nice the prototype was, but man, all the boards, and bits are top notch.

Smiths of Winterforge is almost fully funded with plenty of time left in the campaign. A pledge of around $37 gets you the game, which is an amazing deal for what you’re getting. There’s plenty of extras to be had at higher levels, but you won’t be disappointed if you don’t spring for them. Smiths of Winterforge is an excellent game, and it comes at an amazing price.

A preview copy of Smiths of Winterforge was provided for free by Table Tyrant.

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Kickstarter Preview—Zombies, Run!

Six to Start’s Zombies, Run! app (available on iOS and Android), is a running tracking app with a twist: there’s an ongoing narrative as you run where you’re collecting supplies for a safe haven during the zombie apocalypse. You’re jogging along, listening to the app and suddenly moans of the shambling undead! Time to sprint! The game has over one million players who have logged in over 40 million km run.

The company also loves boardgames.

Currently, on Kickstarter, Six to Start is offering a board game version of Zombies, Run! As this goes live, they’re halfway through the campaign (13 days left) and have doubled their goal. A pledge of £26 (roughly US$34) gets you a published version of the game. Six to Start has provided us with a prototype to see what the game has to offer.

Like the fitness app, Zombies, Run! The Board Game uses an app to drive the story. Hit play and listen for audio cues. Our initial (tutorial) mission has us escaping a hospital that’s overrun. While the audio plays, there are story moments: someone is about to get grabbed by a zombie, do you grab her arm and pull her along, distract the zombie, or just run? There are decisions to be made: cut through the lobby, closer to where the zombies are, or head up to the roof and down again, which would take longer? Meanwhile: “Zombies advance,” says the app. “Two zombies detected.”

There’s a track of cards, A through E, that shows how far away zombies are. When they show up, they’re at A. When they advance, they all slide over toward E. If they slide off E, they’ve bitten you. That’s bad. Bitten and you take a Death Card face down. At the end of the mission, name one of six body parts, like “head”, “left arm”, or “naughty bits”, and flip the card. It matches? You’ve been infected. In the prototype, this is just a scoring mechanism; in the final game, there’s probably more to it.

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But the main thing you’ll be doing during the mission – and where the main part of the game is – is trying to escape zombies by creating Plans. You’re assembling opportunity cards like Talking, Thinking, Running, and Sneaking in order to evade a particular zombie. Most opportunity cards have one icon on the left (the type of card this is) and another on the right (the type of card that can attached to this one). Chain cards together to create a Plan. If your Plan is long enough and ends in the correct symbol, you’ve evade a zombie. For instance, Zombie Mia requires a chain of at least 4 cards that ends in a Thinking symbol. Play six cards that ends with Thinking and you remove them and Zombie Mia from the mission.

Everyone is scrambling for these cards while under pressure, and that’s where the tension of the game comes from. You’re looking over the zombies closest to catching you, trying to determine how to link three cards together to end in Sneaking while everyone is also grabbing cards, and the supply is dwindling, and ONE ZOMBIE DETECTED, and the person replenishing the cards just covered up the one card you needed with more draw cards, and maybe you should just use your cards to reload the shotgun, and ZOMBIES ADVANCING, and now you’ve got the shotgun loaded and can shoot a zombie over there or maybe you can wait for them to get closer when you can shoot more, and TWO ZOMBIES DETECTED, and oh crap that’s an incredibly tough zombie that just entered maybe you should just chain a few more cards together to take him out instead, and can we please please please just survive long enough to get to the police station?

zr-mapAnd there’s the map.

As you’re running to your destination, you might pick up a distress call asking for help. You might see a flare shooting off to the north. You might rescue a survivor that heard of a cache of supplies in town. Do you change your destination? Because you totally can. The map is 100 square kilometers, with a city, several towns, parks, woods, lakes, highways, roads, trains (including a tunnel that I’m never taking my survivors to), power lines, and even a castle. It’s a fictional slice of Britain that’s yours to run around in.

Oh, and because it’s an app, it remembers choices you’ve made: did you free that person handcuffed to a hospital bed? Did you go get those supplies? Did you find out what’s up with that flare?

Do I like this?

Oh yes.

Lots of short bits of pressure with the whole card combination planning. The puzzle of building those is simple enough to not overwhelm, but the pressure from the game makes it challenging. When I opened the package from Six to Start, there were all these envelopes, all these deck boxes to open. “Oh, it’s a legacy game,” I thought, but no – those were step-by-step instructions for the tutorial. But then there’s the map and the app that remembers what you’ve done. So yeah, it’s a legacy game.

Zombies, Run! The Board Game is a game for 2-4 players (well, you can play with one but that ramps up the difficulty) and plays in as little as 15 minutes, depending on the mission you’re taking. Recommended ages: well, there are zombies eating people and the voice actors use the s-word about as frequently as you’d hear it in a PG-13 film, so keep that in mind.

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A prototype copy of Zombies, Run! The Board Game was provided free for review.

 

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Kickstarter Preview—Box of Holding

The Box of Holding from Aaron Cain is a hand-crafted wood carrying case for dice and miniatures—perfect as a gamer gift or self-indulgence. High-end and expensive it is but also beautiful and built with quality.

Inside the box is a caddy with slots for holding dice sets. Underneath the caddy is what Cain calls the mini chamber, a section for storing two or three miniatures protected in foam. Holding the parts together are some very strong magnets. This will definitely not come apart in your bag!

The pieces in my sample fit together perfectly. And Cain has incorporated some extra nice touches beyond the basics. Both underneath the foam in the mini chamber and above it on the underside of the caddy are layers of cushioned rubber for a further measure of protection. The box lid, lined with felt, also serves a dual purpose. Turn it over to use as a dice tray.

Is it weird to say I love how the box smells?

If I had any concern about the Box of Holding, it would actually be that the magnets are VERY strong. You’ll have to get a good grip on the box to open it or to remove the caddy.

If you’re interested in getting one of these beauties, Aaron Cain is running a Box of Holding Kickstarter project for another 22 days. Prices run $150-305, depending on the type of wood chosen.

A complimentary Box of Holding was provided for review by Aaron Cain.

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CT FIG—No Regerts

CT FIGA standout game at CT FIG, No Regerts is a game about badass tattoos, and lame tattoos. At its heart, it’s a game of hand management. You’re trying to get good tattoos on your body, which you have to pay by discarding another good tattoo while trying to use bad decision cards to play bad tattoos on other players. Bad tattoos are free to play on yourself, and sometimes can be helpful when combined with a card that lets your sever your own limb and swap it with someone else’s, or a card that turns that turd into a work of art for positive points. The game ends when a player fills all six body parts with three tattoos each. Points are added up and the player with the most wins.

I had a blast trying this game out. The art is amazing, the gameplay is fast and easy, and half the fun of the game comes from developing a sort of narrative about people’s tattoos as they’re played. David and Sam are awesome people and their passion for their game shows.

No Regerts is currently up on Kickstarter and is almost fully funded. All it takes is a $25 to make sure you get a copy of the game when it does and, if you’re feeling generous, you can pledge $3000 to make Dave get a real tattoo of your choosing.

No Regerts is a game you can feel good about funding without having Regerts of your own. No Bad Decisions here.

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Kickstarter Preview—Incantris

Heath and Seth Robinson are currently Kickstarting their miniatures game, Incantris, of magical combat for 1-4 players. Each player in the game takes control of a team of three wizards, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. What makes the game interesting right off the bat is how each team is balanced a bit differently, mixing up the combinations of the six types of wizards to change the team’s dynamic.

I had a chance to play a prototype of Incantris and put the game through its paces. While the components I played with aren’t the final pieces, they’re pretty close. The model sculpts were excellent, and the art very was well done. All the counters and modular board pieces were sturdy, the dice icons clean and legible. The 3D terrain was solid, stood well, and looked really professional. Overall this prototype felt very close to a fully manufactured game.

I was a bit worried when the game came in. The rulebook was thick. Never a good sign for a miniatures board game that claims to be simple to learn and play. A quick flip through them put my mind at ease. The rules were printed one-sided and had plenty of images, examples, and reference materials. The game really is simple to learn. There’s even a two-minute video that Heath and Seth created to lay down the basics.

There’re several different ways to play Incantris: Battle Royale, Crystal Sap, Capture the Crystal, and my favorite, Shifting Arena. Each scenario has it’s own victory conditions and special rules that go along with it. Shifting Arena, for example, has the same goal to defeat all the other players as Battle Royal does, but the board shifts as you play.

During each turn in the game, a player will move and attack, or attack and move, with one of their wizards. That wizard can’t be activated again until the player’s other wizards have been used. There’s a total of 25 spells spread out over the six types of wizards, and each has its own area of effect. Some spells target empty hexes. Others, another wizard. Some spells have an area effect that can hit more than one wizard at a time. There’s spells that do damage and spells that inflict status effects. The amount of depth provided with such a simple ruleset is astounding.

As I usually do, I played Incantris with my kids. This time around my 11-year-old, 9-year-old, and 6-year-old played the game with me. All were able to grasp the rules fairly quickly, and once they got the hang of the team they were playing with, had a great time playing the game. Even with a full compliment of 4 players we were able to finish the game in around an hour. Gameplay is fast, spells are satisfying, and between the modular board and different scenarios there’s a lot of replayability here. The one thing I wish I had is the Wizard Design Kit, an add-on available in the Kickstarter campaign that allows you to customize your own team of wizards and the spells they have.

Incantris is already fully-funded with 7 days left to go in its campaign. A pledge of $50 will make sure you get a copy of the base game, while $7o gets you the game and the Wizard Design Kit. The latter would be my suggestion to get the most bang for you buck. This is a great game, and I hope to see more released for it in the future.

A prototype copy of Incantris was provided for this preview by Heath and Seth Robinson.

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Already way above its funding goal, Thornwatch: Eyrewood Adventures, bridges the gap between narrative RPGs and board games. The game was originally envisioned by Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins and is co-designed with Lone Shark’s Mike Selinker, Chad Brown, and Rodney Thompson. In the game players take on the roles of the Protectors of the Eyrewood, the Thornwatch, playing through a sort of choose-your-own adventure run by the a player designated as the Judge.

The game looks breathtaking, and you can even get a quick taste of it with a free print-and-play.

A pledge of $78 gets you a copy of the game, with all sorts of amazing things available at higher tiers. The stretch goals, most of which have already been met, provide you with additional characters, stories, and even a comic.

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This morning Flavor Faction Studio launched a Kickstarter campaign for ORIGINZ, their new comic-superpower themed tabletop card game. Containing 12 different, pre-constructed, ready-to-play decks, players take the roles of super powered heroes and villains to do battle against one another.

I first played ORIGINZ at CT-Fig this year. After that Flavor Faction sent me a prototype copy with my kids a few times, and I also played a few games with Evan, one of the games designers, over Tabletop Simulator. There’s currently a free print-and-play version you can download, along with the game’s rules. For those interested in the Tabletop Simulator module, you can snag that here.

So how does it play?

Really, really well. ORIGINZ is an all-in-one solution for fans of card battling games and superhero fans alike. Decks are small, well constructed, and allow players to have control over various aspects of the game. Each super power effects how that deck plays, and amazing combos make for stellar superpowered turns that can quickly tip the scales of battle.

Everything about ORIGINZ is feels super smooth, well planned, and wonderfully executed. The comic book style artwork brings the decks to life, and the quick gameplay is both strategic and deeply satisfying. For $40, you can’t go wrong. The 12 decks alone are worth that, and the possibilities for deck building with those cards, and seeing how well different powers work with each other, just adds that much more value.

OriginzFlavor Faction only needs $12,500 to meet their goal, and I really hope they do. A $40 pledge gets you the game if it funds, while a $79 pledge gets you the game and two 14″ X 24″ fabric & rubber play mats.

In my mind ORIGINZ is a no-brainer. I’ve had a lot of fun with the game, and am sure I’ll have much more fun with it once I have a finished copy in my hands.

A prototype of ORIGINZ was provided for preview purposes, then returned to Flavor Faction.

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Alisha Volkman’s Underlings of Underwing won The Learning Game Challenge from The Game Crafter earlier this year, earning it the right to be considered for publication by The Pericles Group. It’s a worker placement game where you’re trying to hatch dragon eggs using colored crystals. TPG is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund publication of the game.

I’ve gotten a chance to play Underwing and, even though it’s a light worker-placement game, I was surprised how meaty it actually felt. There’s plenty of choices to make on how you want your workers spending their time. Workers can be placed in the fields to collect gems each turn, moving forward on the track if left to their own devices. Workers can be placed in the tower to get a White gem, but must return to the break room after, effectively taking them out of a round. Workers can also be placed on an egg to claim it for a player for points and a positive buff when it hatches.

That brings me to another cool part of the game. Dragons can be hatched in the wild, meaning no one has claimed them when their gem slots are filled. These dragons stay on the board blocking the space they’re in and triggering a negative action. If the board fills up with wild dragons it’s game over. Sometimes these wild dragons will cause other wild dragons to hatch, setting off nasty chain reactions with heavy consequences.

Hatching isn’t a simple as it seems on the surface. Each dragon requires gems to hatch. Gems come in 8 colors: primary colors: Red, Yellow, and Blue, secondary colors: Orange, Green,  and Purple, and Black and White. Primary colors can be mixed to create gems of secondary colors. One of each primary color or secondary color can be mixed to create a Black gem. White gems can only be obtained through a random draw from the gem back, or from placing a worker in the tower. This mechanic gives players a lot of flexibility when infusing eggs, but requires careful planning with your workers to be effective.

The game ends after a set number of rounds depending on the number of players. At the end of the game dragons are scored to determine the victor.

My kids and I really enjoyed Underwing, especially my 9-year-old daughter. The game states ages 12+ on the box, but my 6-year-0ld had no trouble playing after a few rounds with a little help. I’m really looking forward to what a full, professionally printed copy will look like, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one. Until then, I’m sure we’ll wear out this prototype copy that I have.

There’s a lot of game in Underwing’s tiny box, and a $29 pledge will guarantee you once excellent game when the project funds. There’s only one mystery stretch goal right now, but I have a feeling we’ll see that revealed soon. There’s also an add-on play mat, which I don’t currently have, that looks amazing.

If you’re interested in learning more about the game, check out the Kickstarter page or watch the How-to-Play video below.

A prototype version of Underlings of Underwing was provided free by The Pericles Group for this preview.

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Final Act

Final Act designer Sharon Katz was a tank commander. On a challenge from a gamer buddy, he came up with Final Act, a tactical tank game with simultaneous play, no dice, and no charts. The game is pretty much laid out bare on the Kickstarter page if you’re looking to see how it’s played.

I don’t know how I didn’t hear about this one sooner. It looks great, both physically and mechanically. The campaign only has a few days to go, and still a bit before it’s funded.  $40 will get you the game if it reaches its goal,  and higher pledges will get you multiple copies of the game, or a copy of the designer’s previous game, Elementos.

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Crowdfunding Highlights

crowdfunding-highlights-iconBitbox is a game storage system for taking the components for your game — boards, rulebooks, and all those little pieces — and storing them, cutting down on the space required for all those game boxes. A unit fits within an IKEA Kallax cube space, and the video shows fourteen different games (Stone Age, Concept, Reverse Charades, Splendor, Power Grid, Telestrations, Machi Koro, Survive, The Lord of the Rings TCG base set, Ticket to Ride, RoboRally, Codenames, 7 Wonders, and Kingdom Builder were shown) stored in that single Bitbox. $50 gets you a Bitbox and a carry-to-game-night box. If we knew about this thing before it launched, you could have had that for $30.

The Prince Valiant RPG just came on Kickstarter last week. This game, set in the time of King Arthur and designed by Greg Stafford, is a storytelling game designed to be accessible to younger players. If you’ve wanted to tell stories about noble knights, you can get a physical copy of the game book filled with gorgeous full-color artwork from Hal Foster’s comic strip for just $30.

220px-TheWarriors_1979_Movie_PosterWell, after our last look at Crowdfunding Highlights, I think we’ve covered all the modular-board scenario-based standalone miniature battle games up on Kickstarter and — are you kidding me? There’s The Warriors: Turf War, based on the 1979 movie where a gang is set up for murder and all the gangs in New York City are hunting them down. Included in the base game are several miniatures, including the comical Baseball Furies (just called “Furies” here). Let’s do the rundown from last time: “early bird stretch goals not completely sold out (hurry!), more than three dozen miniatures (46!), second-ever KS from the company, $105 normal price tag. Come out to play.

Jackson Robinson does cards. You’ve got less than 19 hours to get some awesome currency-inspired playing cards. The cards are based on American and Chinese currency. (I’ve got one of his Wasteland decks and they’re really fantastic.) $14 gets you one of these decks, $28 gets you two. Stop reading and go now! There’s just *gasp* 18 hours left now! Go! Go! Go!

ChinaCards

not cahHonestly, I can’t wait for the US Presidential election to be over. There are soooo many Kickstarters that are trying to capitalize on Trump or Hillary that we just know aren’t going to fund or, god forbid they actually do fund, won’t be fulfilled any time before the election. Case in point: What the Drumpf, which is Apples to Apples with questions and Trump-like quotes “and the debate leader picks the funniest, most racist or most insane answer”. They want 3500 GBP for this thing.

Last week: People Vs. Politics, the “CAH with uncomfortable political discussion” game — how did it do? Unsuccessful, with just under half of the $4800 goal made.

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