Crowdfunding Highlights

We’re nearing the end of the year and are just before the Christmas holiday, a time when gamers around the world are spending money on gifts for loved ones and themselves. Why then, would one think this week — of all weeks — is a good time to launch or run a limited-time crowdfunding campaign? As I scroll through the games section of Kickstarter there’s not much on there this week. There’s something whose only description is “the card game that will save mankind”, more Cards Against Humanity knockoffs, and several other gamelike offerings that have less than 7% funding (and it’s rather surprising that some of them have that much pledged).

The week before Christmas really doesn’t seem to be a good time for Kickstarter campaigns.

Instead, let’s look at Patreon, where you can sign up for a monthly payment of however much you want to let someone create a thing. Kickstarter seems to be more of a pre-order system for stuff, no matter how much KS tries to deny it. Patreon comes across as a gift of thanks to a creator.


Tabletop Audio is creating ten minute “audio ambiances” for tabletop RPGs and boardgames. Want a soundtrack for your game night? Give Tabletop Audio a try.  The audio at the site is free, but you can show appreciation at the Patreon page in the form of money.

Gareth Graham has a video series where he covers unboxing videos, game overviews, and tutorials. While there are only a few tutorials in that lineup, two that stood out for me were tutorials about using BoardGameGeek and navigating The Game Crafter. Take a look at his YouTube channel and support him at his Patreon page.


Perhaps you’re into wargames? Mike at TerranScapes has a fantastic video series about creating wargaming terrain. (Also good for RPGs!) Several milestones have already been met which have upgraded his recording studio. Visit the site; throw a buck or two at the Patreon.

John Wick has a gaming ‘zine he publishes called Wicked Worlds! Magazine. Included are Play Dirty (GM advice, Wick-style), adventures, fiction, little games, and/or whatever else John wants to discuss each month (or thereabouts). Check it out!

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MegaGames in North America

May 23, 2014: The day the world discovered the Megagame.

Megagame from

Watch the Skies, mid-game.

That day, the crew at Shut Up & Sit Down posted a slightly NSFW video of them participating in a daylong game that was a blend between a LARP and a boardgame. The game in question was Watch the Skies, designed and developed by Jim Wallman. Think Model United Nations and throw in an alien invasion: teams of players are various national powers, an alien force, or the global media. What do the aliens want? What will the various nations do to achieve their goals? Since Shut Up & Sit Down’s video recap of their time as Japan went live nearly a year ago, the video has been watched over seventy thousand times, inspiring Megagame events all around the world.

The games themselves originally were run by Megagame Makers, a small group of friends who began creating and running these games for large groups in the 1980s. Eighteen designers have developed over 110 different scenarios since. Yet it was Watch the Skies that seems to have led the invasion into the United States. Derek Porter launched Maine MegaGames to host a Watch the Skies game. He says that while many of the participants hadn’t heard of the SU&SD review, what really generated interest was the XCOM premise. For his inagural event, thirty-two people attended mostly from the greater Bangor area, which has a population of nearly 154,000. “The main reason that these events are able to bring in decent crowds is largely due to the established gaming communities in Maine,” he says. “There are several large groups that are all somewhat interconnected, in large part to the SnowCon convention and, oddly enough, the Magic: the Gathering communities.” He has received messages from interested players across New England and expects between forty and fifty players for this summer’s game.

Global News Regina

The Alien delegation prepares to address the nations of the world.

Watch the Skies has been played across North America: Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City, Orono (Maine), Portland (Oregon), and Regina (Saskatchewan); and upcoming games — with scenario changes to allow for repeat players — in several of those same locations. Sengoku, a political game featuring several clans vying to ensure their survival and possibly dominance in 16th century Japan, has been played in Sacramento, CA, and will be played in Saratosa, FL, on July 26th.

Sengoku is available as a free download from the Megagame Makers website. Watch the Skies, Lost Youth (a game based on the Vietnam War), and Crisis in Brittania (the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD) are available for purchase at

The popularity of these large-scale LARP-like board games have inspired others to create their own. The Cleveland Megagame Council created a Cold War scenario called “A Good Understanding” which had 52 players (6 Control) attending. Maine MegaGames is planning on creating original megagames, “including one based loosely on Game of Thrones.” New York-based MegaGame Society is developing an even bigger Watch the Skies titled Watch the Stars, an even based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and games based on H. P. Lovecraft’s and Jane Austen’s writings (two separate games here, but a mashup would be fantastic). After playing a version of Watch the Skies in a high school game design class, the students at Hargrave High School in Huffman, Texas, designed their own game, ALLIANCE: World Wide Crisis.


West Coast Megagames’ Sengoku map

Megagames in North America, roughly east to west:

Maine Megagames is gearing up for their second Watch the Skies event this summer (June 13, Orono) and are developing a Game of Thrones-like event.

Boston event this weekend! MegaGames United will be running Watch the Skies at Knight Moves Cafe, Boston’s first boardgame cafe, on May 24th. Another Watch the Skies event will be held in late October. (Reddit discussion.)

Sarasota, Florida‘s The Dark Side (a comic book and game store) will be running Sengoku on July 26. (Facebook event page.)

A cryptic alien note from MegaGame Society's Watch the Skies game.

A cryptic alien note from MegaGame Society’s Watch the Skies game. What can it mean?

The MegaGame Society is running two Watch the Skies events this summer new players. One on June 27th in Brooklyn, NY, and one on July 26th in Long Island, NY. They also have an instructional video about organizing and running a megagame in your own community. The organization will also run Watch the Skies in Chicago on June 6th. (Reddit discussion of Chicago event.)

Cleveland Megagame Council ran A Good Understanding last year and are planning “the next exciting Cleveland game event”. A “friend of the council” in the Cleveland area is developing a Prohibition-era game, currently looking for playtesters. (Details in CMC’s newsletter.)

In March, SaskGames ran Watch the Skies in Regina and was featured on Global News Regina (Video: Mentioned in the opening with coverage beginning at the 4:56 mark.)

West Coast MegaGames, formerly Sacramento Megagames, has run Sengoku in January, and are planning on re-running the scenario and Watch the Skies this year. They are currently looking at additional cities in California, Oregon, and Washington to host their next games.

Additional Links:

Shut Up & Sit Down play Watch the Skies (NSFW: “contains megaswars”) 

Shut Up & Sit Down play Watch the Skies 2 (two-parter, 300 players!): Part 1, Part 2

Megagame discussion on Reddit

Megagame Makers

(Images in this article are from West Coast MegaGames, Global News Regina,, and MegaGame Society.)

With “a constant stream” of people contacting Toronto’s Snakes & Lattes boardgame cafe about how to start up similar ventures in other towns, Curator and head Game Guru Steve Tassie says the boardgame cafe will be releasing a series of videos over the next couple of months under the title “How to Snakes”. The series is focused on providing advice to other start-up boardgame owners. Although Mr. Tassie states he is not “a business person”, he expresses hope that the series will get game cafe developers to consider some elements of their plans that may not be readily apparent.

In the first video, Location, Mr. Tassie walks potential store owners through a few simple questions to answer about where to look in a city for your location and if your city is a good place to start. “Toronto is a big enough city that we actually had a number of different neighborhoods that we could have put down roots in,” he says. “And in fact, a number of those neighborhoods all have game cafes of their own now.”

The launch of the series was delayed by a month after the cafe’s video equipment was stolen. Hopefully, that won’t delay the release of the rest of the series.

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Never Be Bored Again

Imagine this:

Actually, in all seriousness, isn’t that one of the great things about board games, the ability to mix them up play them as you like?

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