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What is a KS Success? – Friday Tabletop Kickstarter Update

Hello! Another Friday Tabletop Kickstarter Update! If you don’t already know what this is, check out this introduction. The week feels a little more independent than most weeks. While each game looks good, I don’t think they all have the widest appeal.

Remember that I am in no way endorsing these games, I have not played them, I have not talked to the publishers. Back at your own risk.

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Biblios Dice
Apparent Weight: Medium-Light
Genre: Monastic equipment gathering, Dice game

If you do not own a Dr. Steve Finn game, you are missing out. I was first introduced to Dr. Finn’s designs with the original version of Biblios, and have liked every game since. Biblios Dice takes the theme and feel of the first game and adds a die drafting mechanic to the mix. This looks like another solid design by Dr. Finn.

 

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Funemployed
Apparent Weight: Light
Genre: Party game

Funemployed takes the common Apples to Apples mechanic but gives each player several undesirable traits that they must fit into an interview for a specific position. Once per round, one qualified candidate is selected by the boss as the winner. How is my in-depth understanding of the Bill of Rights going to help me be the best Mall Santa? Well let me tell you… If you have been looking for a good party game to back, this might be your winner.

 

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V-Commandos
Apparent Weight: Medium-Heavy
Genre: World War II, Tactical combat, Stealth

As you may know, I has a soft spot for historical games, and WWII is no exception. V-Commandos puts players in the uniforms of allied commandos infiltrating Nazi bases and occupied towns. Using both solid tactics and quiet stealth players attempt to complete various objectives. V-Commandos alleviates the age old question of who has to play the Nazis, No one does! This is a fully cooperative game.

 

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Coven
Apparent Weight: Medium-Heavy
Genre:Deduction, Witchcraft, Social interaction

What caught my eye about Coven was the end game scoring. In the game players are trying to get on the winning side, light or dark, before the end of the game. In addition, each player is trying to be the most powerful on their given side. The whole game revolves around this tension of balance while players try to figure out who is who, and what side should the pick. My description does not do it justice, go watch their intro video. This is far from their first campaign, 8th Summit has been on Kickstarter many times, most notably with Agents of SMERSH.

 

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Thunder Track
Apparent Weight: Medium-Light
Genre: Car racing card game, Guns, Cards

Fast Cars, Big Guns, Lots of EXPLOSIONS! Get behind a wheel today and experience the thrill of Thunder Track! This card game will have you one the edge of your seat, waiting to see what comes next!

Ok, you can stop now. If you like cars, and you like guns, and you like cars and guns in your games, Thunder Track is the game for you.

 

Creating Metrics: What is a Kickstarter Success?
Thoughts on the world of Tabletop Kickstarter.

Last week I included New Bedford by Dice Hate Me Games in to the update. I had been watching the campaign from the beginning, and backed it shortly after posting the update. Earlier this week, Dice Hate Me Games pulled the plug on the project, citing the rough start and bad timing right in the middle of the holiday season. What caught my eye about the cancellation was that Dice Hate Me Games stated that even though they thought the game was going to fund, they needed to cancel it due to poor performance.

That statement seems a little backwards to me. If we assume that the goal of a Kickstarter campaign is to reach the funding goal set at the start, then wouldn’t a good metric for how well a campaign is doing be whether or not it reaches the goal? In this case, to rephrase Dice Hate Me Game’s position, they know that they are doing good, so they are cancelling due to not doing so good.

Part of their justification was that they could add value to the pledges by having more attention brought to the game. This approaches an interesting line of honesty and intention. Sure, a form of New Bedford could be published for $30,000, but without any of the suggested stretch goals of component upgrades and expansion content. I can see why Dice Hate Me Games would much rather publish a game that had superb components, so numerous that the box would not shut. Why not start a campaign for such a game in the first place? Why not set the funding level higher, and advertise such bonuses? Canceling due to missed stretch goals implies that the base campaign was not good enough to begin with.

Many Kickstarter detractors point at the tabletop process as publishers trying to fund ‘half baked’ games. Games with sub par quality or games with intentionally omitted content in order to fully utilize stretch goal potential. I understand their argument: Why should we back a game that is not already perfect. I also understand the rebuttal that economies of scale come in to play when a publisher can add an extra 1000 copies to their order. If what Dice Hate Me Games is saying is the complete story for why they canceled New Bedford, it would be a poster boy for the former ‘half baked games’ camp.

Interestingly, in the comments, Dice Hate Me Games has specifically addressed this perception that New Bedford’s cancellation was due to a lack of funds alone. They argued that there was not enough interest in the game to support it after it reached the market. While I don’t think that is justification enough, I think it does bring up an interesting change to the meaning of ‘success’ for a Kickstarter. Under the pretense that Kickstarter is about building businesses and products that would not otherwise be made, if New Bedford is not gaining enough traction now, it might flop once it hits main distribution. Thus it is important to make sure the campaign sets New Bedford up for a long and successful life in distribution, well after the campaign is over. To revisit my argument that the success of the campaign is if it funds or not, this argument redefines success to be the life of the product beyond the campaign. This framework extends the scope of our metric. Now, not only is the success of the campaign needed, but the appropriate vibe is also needed to ensure the product’s success.

Like I said, I don’t entirely like this mindset, but that is because I am a consumer. Once I get my game, I don’t have a vested interest in the game anymore as opposed to the project creator who wants the game to have a long and full life. So, is it wrong to cancel a campaign even if you know it will most likely succeed? How do we define a successful campaign? Let me know what you think!

If you have KS topics that interest you, let me know @Scooter_TTTD

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