Saturday, 10 November 2012

The GF On: Yesterday, I backed my first Kickstarter

Kickstarter -

It was through the board-gaming hobby that I stumbled across this sleek website. I had not been aware of 'crowd funding' on the internet before, which is admittedly surprising as the concept has been around since the early 2000s.  Kickstarter itself was launced on April 28, 2009 and has since then purportedly funded more than 30,000 projects.

Losing my Kickstarter virginity... 

Anyway, yesterday I backed my first Kickstarter. Actually, I backed my first two. (Though Lesbigamer doesn't know about the second one yet....shhhhh......) I thought I might reflect on the process and thinking behind each backing.

Eight-Minute Empire

I first heard of this game on BGG, I believe it was on the 'Hotness' menu. What got me interested in the game was the short length ... supposedly, a mere eight minutes. Short games are hard to come by in our collection, as most of our games are 90-120 mins in length. I think this reflects our gaming habits of playing a game before or after dinner, where we typically want a decent-length, engaging game and where we only really get to play one game. 

However, recently, we have been really busy with our university exams. Hours and hours of work and study. But we can't be studying all the time, so we take breaks together. 2 hours of study = 30 mins of break time. Hmmm, I suddenly have a better appreciation of short games...

The other advantage of a short game is that we could finally have some 'filller' or 'warm-up' games. I think the diversity of games in a single session would be really nice.

On the strength of the short play-time I was sold. Pledged $20.

Boss Monster: the Dungeon-Building Card Game

Me: "Oh my gawd, there's a game here called Boss Monster."
Lesbigamer: "I know what you're thinking..."
Me: *GRIN*
Lesbigamer: "Don't buy a game called Boss Monster."

I stumbled across this game as I was backing Eight-Minute Empire. The theme immediately caught my eye, story-wise it was Dungeon Lords i.e. I could play as a cackling evil boss trapping hapless heroes in my dreadful dungeon of despair. But on top of that, it was a throwback into the hey-day of 8-bit gaming. Yummy.

I read the rules, watched the gameplay video supplied on the Kickstarter page. And hey, you know what, I was actually not blown away by it. It seemed simple, and the strategies were not infinitely deep. I thought, MAN this game would be fun to play once and then I'd be done with it.

And then I thought, HEY this fills exactly the same niche that Eight-Minute Empire would fill. I love the theme, I love the evil cackling, and I think it would be a quick play for us.

On the strength of the theme, the card-driven gameplay and the short, happy-fun-times play time I grabbed my second Kickstarter backing. Pledged $30 - the POWER-UP PACK.

Exclusive cards? I've never paid for those before. I'd be interested to see whether I thought they were 'worth it'. Time will tell.   

The 'did I waste my money' moment

After these purchases, Lesbigamer and I briefly talked about whether it was worth the moolahs. From where she was coming from, she straight out pointed out that for that money, she would much rather buy other games. Ora Et Labora, Stone Age, or maybe save that money for that far off day when we can afford Eclipse.

But here's the problem. Buying those heavier games would be great. I mean, I'd really love those too. But then we'd be stuck in our initial problem of not having short 'filler'-ish games. But buying those short games almost always never feels worth the price-tag, because they are so darn high already in Australia, and then we usually have to add shipping cost... $$$.

Welp, time to wait for those games to meet new stretch goals... and eventually when they get here!

I am most looking forward to seeing what kind of production quality the games have, as I'd like to compare with other games.

What kind of experience have you guys had with Kickstarter?
What are your thoughts on crowd-funding v. companies producing?
How many projects have you backed? How many of them bombed out on you, how many are brilliant gems? Any regrets?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Lesbians On: Death, Destruction and Prototyping

Today was a momentous occasion. 

For today I discovered how to decimate trees, bore the GF, construct equilateral triangles and turn my dining table into a DEN OF DESTRUCTION, all at the same time.

That's right, this morning I, amateur board gamer, blogger of no serious content, and poverty stricken student owner of a mere 23 games did attempt TO MAKE A PROTOTYPE.

I'd had such ill-fated aspersions but once before, when, in my gaming youth I did attempt to make a card gaming involving werewolves, aliens, demons, and amoeba. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for the GF), the game was based on earning gold, which, being made of paper in our prototype, fell down the back of the couch. I was too demoralized to attempt remaking the 76 highlighted pieces. But the fate of this long ago game seems merciful compared to what happened today.

So What Was This So Called "Game?"

At approximately 1:25 pm I clattered down the stairs, and disturbing my girlfriend from her non-boring activity shouted "I HAVE AN IDEA...... FOR A GAME! Wanna hear?"
"Wanna hear?"
"Wanna hear?"
Having taken this as an obvious green light to consume the GF's time for the remainder of the afternoon, I proceeded to explain the idea.

The Player plays as Space Explorers, searching an abandoned spaceship for fuel capsules. Fuel is rare, and players must compete with each other to collect the most capsules and get out. BUT to complicate things there are....wait for it oh my its so original....ALIENS which players can deploy against other players to do them damage. And players cannot heal, so damage is deadly....

The central idea of this game is the tiles. These are triangular pieces that tessellate together in three columns. Each of these pieces has one two or three exits. Tiles are placed randomly, but players can use cards to rotate the tile they are on, and any adjacent tiles, so they can get where they want to go.

Cards are rare, players cannot draw cards, but must find tokens that allow them to draw. Additionally, players can find resources and supplies that give them additional abilities, such as making their own door, seeing the other players hands, and control of super awesome aliens.

My ideas thus explained, me the GF, and our more geometrically able flatmate then proceeded to construct a prototype and play.....

The Disaster That Followed

So, we played the game. And we played the game, and we played the game. One and a half hours later, we agreed on a tie.

It started off not badly. Their were a few bitchy moves to cut other players off from fuel rods and valuable cards. The aliens did not work as expected - they functioned more like bombs the players threw at each other, but hey, that was fine too.

As time progressed, so the problems mounted. Until, the end game....was disgusting.... horrifying...and really god damn boring. I was reminded somewhat of the end game of Zombies!!! which I have previously vented my dislike of. Except by then all our alien cards had been used up, so it was MUCH MUCH WORSE.

What went wrong?
1. PIGGYBACKING. Well, without aliens, or if a player was holding ways to get around the aliens they just followed another player around, forcing the other player to use all their precious movement card, and then passing them by when it counts. The other player, realizing this, simply just hung around, and all in all nothing happened and everyone was bored.
2. OH LORD WHERE BE THOSE FUEL CAPSULES. Board tiles are revealed when they are adjacent. So if a player failed to reveal a tile earlier on, all the players may find themselves WAY on the other side of the board, with a fuel capsule necessary to win on the other side. And this is a game where moving is HARD.
3. So as a result EVERYTHING SLOWS DOWN. Slows down soooo much......pain....anguish....consumption of two entire packets of Doritos....

Anyway, at the end of it all, I sat back, and looked at the beast we had laid out on the table.
"Well....babe....I've got to admit it had its flaws....but I think if we tweak them enough, it's nothing we can't fix."
"Yes but...." replied the GF
"But what. BUT WHAT?"
"Well...." and so I prepared my tender first-time-board-gamer-designing feelings for what was coming next.
"It's just not fun."


And thus was the beast recycled (luckily for the trees) and our table did return to its former use of dining. Most of the despair and anguish I should probably have felt had been numbed by the boredom I had just experienced.

What I Learned

Yes, I have attempted to turn my tragic experience into some sort of lesson because it's just less depressing that way. What I learned was, WOW board game designers are amazing. The sheer number and variety of board games that come out every year just making taking up the pen, cards, and tiles yourself seem so easy, but it is not! Board game designers put months or years into the same game (and all that play-testing!), and now I can see why. I have a huge respect for these people who have the ingenuity and dedication to make products that are truly awesome. I SALUTE YOU ALLLLLL.

As for me, I should leave the scissors and the stack of paper sitting in my living room alone for the while. If only for the GF's sake. (Did I mention she was working on her final exam? Heh heh.)

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Lesbians Bitterly Review: Descent 2.0

Hello girls and guys, how you doin’? We’re a couple of geeky gay gamers from the home of Vegemite, and today we are reviewing a game that brought bitterness and woe upon our table top relationship.

Descent 2.0: Journeys in the Dark Fact File
Players: 2 - 5
Playtime: 120 minutes
Genre: Adventure/ Dice Rolling

It all started as an innocent gift for the GF’s birthday.  For weeks, yea months, the GF had been pining for said game, praising its merits and drooling over its figurines. Finally, the game was purchased. But like black clouds crawling across clear skies, the shadow of descent meant that our gaming was never to be the same again. (Well, for a week at least.) ALAS THE DARK CURSE COMETH. For we, once so united in our opinion of games, have become divided like so many polystyrene cups when torn apart by little children and fidgets.   

disclaimer: the following is an actual chat conversation between me and the gf

[08:08 pm] lesbigamer: Descent 2.0
[08:08 pm] The_GF: I sense that bitter tone in your voice.
[08:09 pm] lesbigamer: It is not a bitter tone, it is a well-considered and conclusive tone.