follow the rumors, fend off pirates, and navigate through storms–all in the hopes of beating your opponents to fame and fortune.
SALT & SAIL

goal: $26,500 / ends: thursday, april 9, 2020 10:45p pst. / created by kazoodoo games

so, life has been pretty rough here in seattle. i work in the food industry, and we’re seeing dramatic losses in wages and scores of businesses are closing. it’s been emotionally exhausting. there are a lot of consequences to the coronavirus that are going to ripple through the city for the foreseeable future. i am trying my best to keep to my normal routines, but it’s really difficult. i will probably next week off from the blog, just to recharge.

until then, i’m going to give what i can, and showcase SALT & SAIL. my apologies for not being able to give this #backandblog more time or energy, as i do believe it deserves it!

a game of discovery and adventure on the high seas, players will navigate rumors across a hex-board and face off against challenges and obstacle, like storms and pirates!

the game book allows for customization of maps based on number of players and desired length of play. the art is gorgeous and thematic. kazoodoo has kickstarted successful games in the past, and the production values here show. they’re about 2/3 of the way funded with more than enough time to hit their goal!

a clever light puzzle game for 2 to 4 players brought to you by the creative team of cat rescue and cat sudoku.
CLEOCATRA

goal: $3,000 / ends: friday, april 10, 2020 11:59p pst. / created by sunrise tornado game studio

being in the heart of seattle, between coronavirus and the politics of everything, today has been quite crazy. i had the day off work, and took a chunk of time to go out to the middle of nowhere for a hike. it felt really nice to get into nature, turn off my phone, and decompress, even at the expense of any of my other responsibilities. overall, i think it was vital, and i don’t regret it. however, i will be keeping this blog short because of the well-needed mental health break.

CLEOCATRA is a super cute cat-themed puzzle game by the creators of CAT RESCUE and CAT SUDOKU, two other super cute cat-themed puzzle games! the goal is to save cats from pyramids, which involves placing triangular cat cards down on the table then moving cats and rescuers strategically. the art by kaiami is obviously core to the project AND SO ADORABLE!

it looks to be a pretty quick, light game, which to be completely honest is exactly what i could use right now!

take on the role of a half-forgotten god and compete for reverence in this deeply immersive area control game.
THEURGY

goal: $42,242 / ends: tuesday, march 31, 2020 3:59p pst. / created by ministry of meeples

a beautiful produced area control game for 2-6 players, packed with fantastic art and assets, including tarot-sized monster cards, detailed map hexagon tiles, cool tokens, and tons of meeples (makes sense, given their company’s name!). you take on the role of a mythological deity, with unique powers, monsters to summon, and miracles to perform, trying to gain faithful followers. i especially like aeoris, god of time, who is able to manipulate the discard pile.

THEURGY has three victory conditions, all revolving around building temples: becoming the official faith, partly by placing your temple in the capital; fulfilling your calling by completing a hidden objective; or by spreading across the land by building many temples, based on the total number of players. this is done through one of four actions on each turn, with the caveat that they may not take the same action on their next turn. the different actions consist of sending out your followers, spreading word of your religion, divine intervention, and testing the faiths of the land. the inability to take the same action twice in a row is a very cool strategic twist.

the game also has no dice (NO DICE!), which is huge to me. i don’t often enjoy strategy games of this type because of too-random elements, and i hate dice in general. instead, the variety of deity powers, over 30 monsters with unique abilities, and the random selection of capital event and miracle cards, give the game replay and unpredictability within a structure of true strategy.

this is a very well executed project. the game appears to be thoroughly tested, reviews suggest it is incredibly well balanced, the assets, again, are spectacular, and everything feels accounted for. i have no doubt this game will fund and fulfill, and i definitely look forward to playing it when it does!

a ttrpg about psychic cyborgs, identity, and finding yourself through fighting for what you believe in.
ASCENDANCY

goal: $14,000 / ends: monday, april 6, 2020 12:00p pst. / created by ruby measom

a game about fighting for what you believe in, brought to us by a queer designer and team. this is what i live for.

set in a futurist, cyberpunk world, in the war-torn city of mooncore, players take on the roles of ascended: psychically and technologically augmented servants. revolution has ravaged the setting prior to the game beginning, and now there are power vacuums, civil unrest, technological wonders to explore and exploit…

ASCENDANCY is built with the RESISTANCE TOOLKIT, providing a simple mechanical core but the framework to explore complex ideas like “change, identity, and resistance.” character archetypes are built by combining two playbooks, from a selection that include some real treasures: the shadow, able to assume new identities on a whim; the memory, able to shatter their identity by altering their own memories; the data, able to process data and invent spontaneously. the game boasts over 100 moves and advancements, which will likely grow with stretch goals, supplements, player input, hacking!

the city of mooncore sounds rich, enigmatic, and ripe with possibility: on the outskirts, a forest of computers growing over a giant mech; overhead, a floating city of decadence. the now-free citizens of revolution fight for survival, for what they love, for who they are. there are so many allegories of corporate greed, the exploitation of labor, the collateral damage of war. it’s really amazing to see projects like this, tackling important issues through the medium of social/imagination-theater gaming.

from the perspective of the kickstarter itself, it’s the first created by the designer, but it’s put together thoughtfully. there are stretch goals that bring on new contributors, writing and drawing up new character content. there are videos and interviews the discuss the game, its design, and playthrough. they already have ~200 backers, putting them half way to funding. i’m sure we’ll see this game hits its goal and fulfill!

board games cards dice zines miniatures 3d printing terrain rpg pathfinder 5e shirts pins maps podcasts soundscapes osr new school!
THE TABLETOP GAMES KICKSTARTER QUARTERLY REPORT

goal: $326 / ends: friday, march 13, 2020 pst. / created by steve hampson

while not a game, this project is in the same spirit as my own blog, so i wanted to give it a shout out for supporting the kickstarter games community!

this is the second issue, changing from a yearly issue to quarterly, which will cover successfully funded games projects from kickstarter for the designated time period. the first issue covered all of 2019, with 2709 total projects covered. the quarterly issues will cover ~700 projects each, depending on what launches of course. from there, it gives a breakdown of important details for the projects such as total number of backers and funding, web and social media links, type of project, and pledge tier totals.

it’s an invaluable tool for both new and continuing kickstarters, as well as for fans. this edition also features an updated format wherein each project is given the same amount of page space, no matter the total amount of funding, which i think adds credibility to the resource.

a 2-5 player, hidden movement game of clever deduction and teamwork. this game also introduces the new SHIFT system.
MIND MGMT

goal: $33,513 / ends: thursday, april 2, 2020 9:00p pst. / created by off the page games

there is a lot going on with this game. MIND MGMT features hidden movements, deduction, team work, dry erase, more components than most games i’ve played (wellllllll), and even sealed components akin to legacy games that are opened and added to the game after successful plays.

the retro psychedelic art style really comes to life with all of the assets: the map board, playing cards, pieces, and supplemental comics. every piece clearly hides detailed back story and innuendo, which i imagine is revealed slowly over the course of many, many sessions. the base game only, before stretch goals, has 10 sealed packages which add more content. it’s a really clever alternative to legacy mechanics that destroy or permanently alter game pieces.

the kickstarter itself is overwhelmingly intense. there are so much components to showcase that the project page is huge, after which are rather involved breakdowns of game mechanics. beyond all of this, there are almost a dozen videos and a ton of blurbs from reviewers. there’s even a live sample of the game being played in the comment section for backers.
it’s a lot to process. i could personally have done with a significantly truncated page, but the project has more than funded very rapidly, so i could be alone. it sure doesn’t seem to be hurting them any!

the only aspect of this game i question is the play time. 60 minutes seems optimistically short.

become a doctor in the 1800’s, drunk as hell and curing plague and blood ghosts with cocaine and amputations!
TRUST ME, I’M A DOCTOR

goal: $2,904 / ends: thursday, march 12, 2020 11:28p pst. / created by half-monster games

inspired by a meme (what a world we live in), the players take the role of doctors in the 1800s. a party game with a bit of alchemy, cocaine, booze, leeches, blood ghosts, and a dash of cards against humanity. you’ll draw cards with “real conditions” diagnosed in the past, and have to use “genuine procedures” of the times to counter them. cards have symbols which much be matched in order to be argued, so there are mechanics beyond debate-scoring. and the ailments and treatments are, of course, absurd; the fact that they’re historically accurate really makes the game.

TRUST ME, I’M A DOCTOR utilizes public domain art to drive the theme home, and it works really well. this is their third game and second kickstarter, and they obviously know what they’re doing. they’ve got pledge tiers that showcase their previous works, as well as a plague doctor mask, which has pushed their funding over $20k already. with 6 days left, i think we’ll see this hit at least $30k.

a kaleidoscopic rogue-like dungeon crawl analogue rpg zine
THE TREASURE AT THE END OF THIS DUNGEON

goal: $500 / ends: saturday, march 14, 2020 8:26a pst. / created by riverhouse games

i didn’t anticipate backing more zinequest projects into march, but i finally looked into THE TREASURE AT THE END OF THIS DUNGEON and couldn’t resist. from a specifically queer/lgbt+ studio, riverhouse games, we have a kaleidoscopic, rogue-like, gm-less, dungeon-crawl rpg.

the base game features a variety of room types, each with their own ruleset, and 4 asymmetrical character archetypes: the mage, the the muscle, the thief, and the healer (there are stretch goals for additional classes that sound awesome, like the goblin and the saint). characters, called selves, will die, constantly, and evolve, while the dungeon morphs as well. each death of the self results in profound changes to the ruleset. for example, when the mage dies, they lose the ability to cast one of their spells, permanently, but return from death with the arcane ability to combine any two of their remaining spells into a more powerful one. with another death, another spell is lost forever, but now you’ll have the power to combine three spells into one; and so on.

the rooms, similarly, fractal as they are entered and changed. elements in each room are highlighted (such as sharp rocks, blunt sword, claws, a glimmer of hope, or subterfuge) and must be engaged in order to escape; each entry into the room highlights yet another element, and requires engaging more and more components in the narrative.

the game is finished, but the stretch goals grow the game in exciting ways. at each milestone, a new artist is brought on to design a room and a character archetype, kaleidoscoping the dungeon more and more.

i love how endlessly hackable this game will be, not only for the designer but for us, as players. writing a new character or room is an experiment in themes, narration, and flavor. this is what roleplaying games are designed to illicit. this is on my shortlist of games around which i will build a play rotation at my local game shop: easy to pick up, easy to drop in and out, but with the power to spark conversation and critical ideas.

it’s already funded, and hit several artist stretch goals, but here’s to hitting them all!