April 2019 proved to be a horrible one work-wise, because with the Easter hols and school term-times all over the place, the retail and catering industries generally get pulled from pillar to post. Two Bank Holidays in May won’t help matters this month, either, to be honest – and oh boy, are we really already nearly halfway through the year?
As suspected, April was another month in which a couple of Kickstarter projects became a reality: I got an early look at a PDF copy of The Board Game Book 2019 and am planning to review it shortly, and also had The Ancient World (2nd Edition) delivered – the latter is a particularly pretty thing, I’m sure you’d agree… and yes, they’re lovely coins!
Anyway, let’s have an update on my resolve not to buy or back (on Kickstarter) any new games, shall we?
Hmmm… I kind of faltered a little with this, but let me explain: a long time ago I played a game called Fifth Avenue which was sold to me as “a kind of bidding game”‘; not generally being a fan of auctions and bidding, I remember enjoying it a lot (alongside Win, Place & Show a little later), and thinking it had a lot more to it than just the bidding aspect. Well, y’see, right out of the blue I had the chance to buy a new copy for just £15 and couldn’t help but jump at the chance. I’m not sure if the gameplay is going to suffer a bit in the face of modern designs, but I’m happy to find out in due course. Either way, it’s my bad, I guess, but I have no regrets and am still thinking this doesn’t count as anything ‘new’ per se. Also, I spoke about Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea last time (Slipping by the wayside…?) and have placed a P500 order for this, although I’ll also be using it as an example in a future blog piece demonstrating how applying a bit of graphic design can do wonders for making things in a game more accessible for new players.
If my resolve not to back any new games on Kickstarter has taught me anything so far this year, it’s that there’s a lot more than just games being created on the platform. It’s also proven to be a real eye-opener when looking at KS campaigns through the lens of somebody with a deliberate intention not to back anything he’s reading about. This is something else I hope to talk about in more detail another time.
Watching and following the progress of just one of the KS games I did back last year has also brought to light how companies can get it so very wrong if they’re not careful… You might recall me citing Barrage by Cranio Creations as one of my Personal Picks way back in September 2018 in my Essen 2018 Preview blog-post, and sure enough this is a title I backed last year, albeit thankfully at just the ‘standard’ pledge level. I am still really looking forward to seeing this in due course, but the ongoing development and updates appearing on KS have been causing all manner of issues with backers, resulting in some major PR backlash on all fronts. Over 5.7k comments have now been posted on this title, many berating the company for seemingly ‘downgrading’ parts of the game and poorly reassessing what will and won’t now get included in the ‘Kickstarter Exclusive’ editions of the game (backers would have paid a $20-40 premium for this edition, incidentally). You’re cordially invited to take a peek yourself at the barrage of comments (sorry!) if you have the time, as I’d genuinely be interested in discovering what ‘outsiders’ might think of all these shenanigans: Barrage Comments Page on KS…
April wasn’t all grim and miserable, because I did get to enjoy and explore anew several classics of old: Bohnanza, Havoc: The Hundred Years War, Istanbul, 6 Nimmt! and Lords of Waterdeep all got played this month, as well as more games of Architects of the West Kingdom, Pandoria, and Wildlands. Other games getting to the table in April included: Altiplano (okay, but long), The Old Hellfire Club (fun, easy boasting game), Quacks of Quedlinburg (great fun), The Mind (brain-bending), Unlock: Expedition Challenger (interesting, shall we say?), South Pacific (an RBM Studio brain-burner!) and Darkness (surprisingly rather fun and quite popular, already).
Ah yes, what temptations would have otherwise taken my money in April?