Hey folks! This week I've discovered three amazing games on Kickstarter that I think are worth mentioning. Keeping up to date with all the myriad games coming out lately can be an exercise in futility, but perhaps this will help you narrow down your options. Let's dive in!
One of my first discoveries this week was the strategic rock climbing board game, First Ascent. While I know next to nothing about rock climbing myself, this game was clearly designed as a labour of love by Kickstarter creator Kate Otte, who not only designed and illustrated First Ascent but is an avid rock climber herself, and it shows. Kate has infused her first board game with heavy thematic elements that add weight to the game and manages to use rock climbing parlance without alienating the audience. Rock climbing is not a theme we’ve seen much of, though there are the odd mountain climbing titles out there, this one stands alone. The tile based system encourages exploration and the achievement of specific goals rather than a basic race to the top. In fact, reaching the top may not even be in your best interests depending on your character and their objectives.
This game is definitely about the journey rather than the destination. Players collect resources as they climb in order to obtain further abilities that can aid their ascent. Utilising hand management, set collection and engine building, First Ascent is a solid entry and I feel it shares a common thread with Wingspan due to a theme that’s surprisingly compelling and grounded in reality. I’m pleased to see more games take this approach as it opens up the often walled garden of board gaming to an entirely new audience, and that can only be of benefit to the hobby.
6: Siege The Board Game
Wow, what a production! I can see why this game has already hit almost $1.4 million on Kickstarter. This upcoming title is a collaboration between Mythic Games and Ubisoft based on the latter’s Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege video game. The introduction video echoes the conglomeration between video game and board game by providing an action packed trailer for this squad based tactical shooter. The mechanic that sets this game apart from other similar titles is its use of line of sight, a mechanism that is commonplace in tabletop war games ala Warhammer 40K but less utilised in board games. While dungeon crawlers and similar games have used line of sight by tracing a direct line of squares on a grid, 6: Siege instead uses transparent line rulers or, in the case of the more deluxified version, a laser!
Not only that, but this campaign packs a significant amount of minis, 3d terrain, characters and upgrades to kit out your squad before and during a mission. Characters have individual specializations to aid in breaching a terrorist stronghold, or keeping the attackers at bay. The way Mythic Games has managed to capture the frenetic feel of a first person shooter in a board game is impressive. The result is not your grandma's dungeon crawler, but rather a strategic tactical puzzle. The gameplay looks tense and intriguing and the paths to victory are as varied as the squad you assemble. With only a few days to go, all that remains is to see if this game can deliver on its promises.
Forests of Pangaia
This next one is my personal favourite from this week’s Kickstarter offerings. Forests of Pangaia is a sublime forest building strategy game set against the backdrop of the mythical Pangaia. A world itself based on a time where our continents were connected and the world undisturbed. Featuring beautifully milled wooden trees adorned with a comforting forest and autumn colour palette, this game of the natural world will be the centrepiece of any board gamers collection. Players lay tiles, expanding the land, and grow trees from seeds, to full grown trees, with trees being capped with each successive growth by adding a wooden tree segment similar to stacking the wooden bamboo pieces in Takenoko.
The first thing that came to mind when I saw this was, “oh, it’s just a prettier version of Photosynthesis”. But apart from growing and seeding trees the two games are very different, enough so that you could happily keep both in your collection to enjoy on their own merits. The artwork is enchanting and takes players to a fanciful forest world, of spirits, large roaming rock behemoths and crystalline rivers. There are no conflicts here, you’re simply trying to achieve your objectives and help the forest to flourish and grow. The modular board ensures no two games will be the same and the campaign offers a premium edition with additional wooden tokens to replace the cardboard tokens of the standard edition. Both the standard and premium editions feature wooden trees, so have no fear if the premium is beyond your reach, you’ll receive a gorgeous game either way.
The creators currently have no plans to offer this product much beyond the Kickstarter campaign other than any retail pledges, so if you ever plan to add this to your shelves, now is the time, the campaign still has a couple of weeks to run.
So that's it for this week's offerings, let me know which one interests you most in the comments below and as always, if you have any crowdfunding discoveries you'd like me to feature here, be sure to let me know at email@example.com! Until next time, take care!