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Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, and more recently Gamefound, have become a popular way for publishers to release updated or new board games. This is a great way for Tabletop Gaming fans to ‘pre-order’ games with rewards such as; exclusive extras, optional add-ons, and ‘early-bird’ or ‘bundle’ prices that will not be available once the games are released to retail. But beware, these crowdfunding campaigns can lure you in. It may be tempting to back multiple projects at a time, with their exciting descriptions, beautiful artwork and spectacular miniatures, somewhat tricking you with a ‘back now, pay later’ policy, meaning that you don't need to worry about the costs until the project is completed….plus you can always back out before the campaign finishes right?....so what's the harm?
Whilst in theory you can never have too many board games, for the majority of board game fans there is a limit on storage space and board game funds, therefore it is necessary to somewhat limit the collection to select games!
There is always an element of risk when backing a game on a crowdfunding platform, especially if it is a new game, as you won’t know whether it was worth it until it arrives. The below list of questions aims to help those who enjoy backing Tabletop gaming projects via crowdfunding, but need some help when it comes to deciding which games to back, to avoid their home becoming a hoarder style board game fort. Yes I know this sounds awesome, but the reality would be very impractical!
This is a question to really dig deep to find the answer, as there are lots of Tabletop games on crowdfunding sites with some amazing looking miniatures. Mythic Battles:Ragnarok for example. So it is important to look beyond the detailed figures / structures and consider the actual game.
Is it a game that has earlier editions released? If so, is it a well reviewed game and what do the reviews say about it? If any negatives or limitations have been highlighted with previous editions, such as issues with game play, have these been addressed in the new version, for example with updated rules or new features?
If this is a completely new game, carefully read the description of the game and play, check to see if there are any early preview playthrough reviews of the game, either on the project campaign page or on YouTube, that can give you an idea of what the game plays like. Although be aware in relation to the YouTube channel you watch as often the channel is sponsored to do a preview video, if this is the case there will be a disclaimer during the video. Finally, after doing your research, ask yourself ‘If there were no miniatures, would I still want this game?’
A follow up question to this first question or if the game doesn't include fancy miniatures….
It is important to consider how much game play you would actually get from the game and thus is it worth the investment (money and precious board game shelf space). Several important factors to consider when realistically thinking about whether you would actually get much play from the game are; player count, game play time (including set up), type of game and level of complexity.
The stage you are at within the Board Gaming hobby is likely the first determining factor as to whether you should even consider crowdfunding a game in the first place. If you are new to the hobby, still developing your collection and tastes, then many of the following questions you will still be finding answers to. You may be backing a game you cannot know whether you will like it, so take into consideration that crowdfunded games can take a significant amount of time to be delivered, so now may be when your money would be better spent starting your collection with established games. We definitely made this mistake early on backing games like Dark Souls and after playing realising that, in general, we are not fans of dungeon crawler type games (Gloomhaven being the exception, of course!)
Consider the player count, is the number of people that can play, the number in your typical board gaming group? If not, when would you actually be able to play the game? For example, Tony and I have only a few select games that are 3+ players, as we tend to get games that can be played 2 players or more, as the majority of our Tabletop gaming is the two of us. Therefore, when considering a game that does not have a two player mode, we need to think about the people who we tend to play games with and which groups would enjoy this game. As we have friends with differing board game experience and likes, we need to consider this as well as, will the game be quick and easy to teach to others?
Time it takes to play the game - Is the game a relatively quick pick up and play game, that you would get a lot of play from or is it a game that requires more of a time commitment? If a longer time play, how often do you and your tabletop gaming group have the time to invest in a lengthy game? Will this impact significantly on when and even if you are likely to play this game? If like us, you live with your board gaming partner and/ or spend a significant amount of your free time devoted to your board game hobby, then a long play time is likely not to phase you, but you may have other commitments that keep you from being able to submit to a long board game adventure.
Important factors to consider when thinking about how much game play you will get from the game, is the type of game and level of complexity of the game.
What type of game is it? Card drafting, worker placement, deck building, area control, skirmish, story driven, abstract game, dungeon crawler, party game, legacy, etc. Have you played other games of this type? Did you enjoy them? If yes, check with yourself, do you really need yet another deck building game, for example, do you already own a similar game to this but with a different theme? Is there enough different elements to this game to make it different to the others in your collection? If you have not played this type of game before, it may be worth trying out a few at your local Board game café or from a friends collection, to see if you like the game elements, before backing an expensive crowdfunding campaign. However, crowdfunding projects can sometimes be a cheaper way to get a new board game which can be more expensive once it hits retail, so could be a good way to try new types of games!
If you are new to board gaming, or mainly play with less experienced players, ask is this a starter player level game or a more complex game for seasoned players? It depends on preference of course, but it can be useful to start off with less complex or starter games, before moving on to more advanced games with complex rules and features, as diving straight into one of these could be off putting and result in the game collecting dust on the shelf. But likewise, if the game is too simple with few added dimensions to the gameplay, this could get boring very quickly, if you enjoy more evolved game play.
One final point to consider is what is the resale value of the game? I do not advocate treating crowdfunding projects as an investment, as you should only buy games that you intend to play and it is impossible to truly know what the after market value will be. However if you don't like the game then it is always good to know that you can at least get your money back. The main points to look at are; is the game coming to retail, does it include a lot of exclusives and does the company have a good track record in producing well received games?
As a backer, would you be getting anything special? Or could you just wait until the game is available as a retail version? Often when backing Tabletop games on crowdfunding platforms the project campaigns are full of perks and goodies. Benefits often include Deluxe features, stretch goals with backer exclusives, opportunities for extra add-ons, ‘early-bird’ prices, or bundle deals that are not available for retail versions, and therefore make it worthwhile backing the crowdfunding project. For example, the recent Everdell expansion release on Kickstarter did not include backer only stretch goals however it did offer a ridiculously good bundle deal for the; base game, all the expansions and the brand new expansion, which would have cost you a lot more if bought separately at retail. Or the Brass campaign, which allowed Backers the opportunity to purchase Deluxe versions of Brass: Lancaster and Birmingham, which are not available outside of Kickstarter
So ask yourself, is it worth backing this game via this crowdfunding project, am i honestly likely to get a lot of game play from this game and therefore, is it good value for money for me and good use of my (likely) limited board game storage? Could I avoid the buyers remorse by resisting an impulse buy and waiting for the retail release? Or is this project just too irresistible to pass?!?!
Here are some of our favourite Designs inspired by Board game Crowdfunding Projects we backed;