What I’m Backing: Airline by Around the Clock Games

And we’re back with more Kickstarter awesomeness! To start off this round, we have a card game. I’ve backed a game by Around the Clock Games before, so I checked this one out when I heard AtCG had started a new campaign. Airline the Card Game by Around the Clock Games seemed like a simple, fun card game that would travel well.

Stats*:

  • Goal: $1,000
  • Funding Status: fully funded, several stretch goals unlocked**
  • Total Backers: 50+
  • Interesting Stretch Goals: Expansions to the game.
  • When Did I Jump In: First backer. That’s the first time I had the privilege. ;D

This campaign is one of those steady campaigns. They don’t do any huge funding leaps, but neither do they creep. It’s a very laid back sort of project, which seems to match the creator’s attitude pretty well. I backed the creator’s first campaign and liked the function and simplicity of the game play. I can explain the rules faster than most people can read them. Also, the delivery time was exemplary. So, when he reached out to the backers of the first campaign to let them know about this second campaign, I was pretty sure I’d back the new one. I did (FIRST!), and it funded in a few short days.

At that point, the creator did something very interesting and I’m watching closely to see how it pans out**: he unlocked a significant amount of stretch goals to hopefully broaden the appeal of the game. I’m not sure if this is a good strategy, as there has not been any significant bump in funding, but I appreciate why he did it. And I also appreciate the chance to get game expansions.

Simple is really the watch word of this campaign, though. The design is simple, attractively so. The game play is simple to explain, which was an excellent selling point for me – I cannot handle games that are too long or complicated in explaining if I’m not physically handling the components or watching play. The goal is simple. And I love that. Sometimes, creators get stuck in a real MUCK trying to make a game flashy. But simple, compelling games are so much more the welcome in my closet because they can be played nearly any time and anywhere. I hope Airplane manages to be one of those games for me. Rest assured, it’ll be reviewed on the blog.

I do hope this funds slightly higher than it does right now because I don’t want the creator to lose money and I want him to make more games! The good news is that there’s about a week left in the campaign and, if it gets the traditional final week surge, everything will be gravy. 😀

*As of posting 10/8 at 12:00 Mountain Time.

**Referential notes, see both instances of use.

[><] & [::]

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What I’m Backing: Happy Dragons! by Nina Bolen

A note: This was supposed to post on Tuesday, but was delayed for the write-up on a project that a) was ending sooner and b) I felt more strongly about. If you see any references that seem out of continuity, that’s why. Thanks for being patient with me.

Hey there, it’s Wednesday, best day of the week! The timing’s great because, I’m not going to lie, this project makes me irrationally happy. This will be the last “What I’m Backing” post for a couple weeks, and while I might not have saved the best for last, I sure did save the CUTEST!

Today’s feature is Happy Dragons! Whimsical Dragon Sculptures by Nina Bolen. Basic stats* below:

  • Goal: $1,000
  • Funding Status: fully funded; all ten stretch goals hit
  • Total Backers: 120+
  • Interesting Stretch Goals: YES!
  • When Did I Jump In: About halfway through, well after funding.

Okay, I feel awful about this, but the reason I’m backing this can be boiled down to one word:

DRAGONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s really that simple.

No. Really.

Really really.

Okay, I’ll stop now.**

I grew up on Anne McCaffrey, Jane Yolen, The Jewel Kingdom books, Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, and more. I wrote dragon stories. Then I read as many as I could of the amazing books with dragons in them as an adult. I was, am, and will be a dragon freak. I could talk about the adorable concept art. I could talk about the birthstone dragons stretch goal (and how I am SO SAD I am not a March baby and how I desperately hope July’s pose is as cute). I could talk about the stretch goal we’ve yet to reach being full of more squee-causing cuteness and fun features. I could talk about I could talk about the mock-ups looking so good. I could go on at length about how this rings all my nerdy bells and how it’s my first time backing an art project.

But really, mentioning them is enough because, while these are all really good parts of the campaign, the reason I threw money at this campaign was because it was DRAGONS. I am an unabashed dragon lover. To the point that, when it looked like our original cake topper was destroyed (thankfully not, as it is a family heirloom), my fiancé and I looked at several custom dragon bride and groom sculpture options. Dragons are AWESOME and I cannot WAIT to get my Happy Dragon.

*As of posting 9/24 at 12:00 Mountain Time.

**THERE WERE SO MANY MORE, TOO.

[><] & [::]

What I’m Backing: MisSpelled by Lindsey McDowell (et all)

Okay, so there were only supposed to be two of these this week, and then a project in its last legs was brought to my attention and oh my gosh, this needs to happen. Yesterday.

MisSpelled: A Fantastical Witchy Web Series already has four episodes (plus a prologue) and a lot of bonus content from the creators and actors on their channel. But, now they need funding for the rest of season one. It’s a webseries about five new witches who just got their powers, who don’t know what to do, and who are just trying to figure life out, much less this whole magic thing. All of them are women, of varying shapes, sizes and temperments, and ALL of these women are women of color.

Let me tell you why that’s important to me: because I want to imagine my world more complexly.

So often, especially in fantasy, we see a white-washed world in our entertainment. We see a pseudo-medieval white dude world that isn’t actually an historically accurate reflection of anything (and what’s with historical accuracy in fantasy/fiction in general anyway), and that has bled into modern fantasy. It’s pervasive and poisonous. Women have always been there, at home and in combat, and so have peoples of many colors.

And I’m tired of my media making these people invisible.

So, I’ve made a conscious decision to seek out the media that popular media ISN’T showing me. And MisSpelled is a start. I love web-series, I love the platform, I love how the narrative is differently shaped. I’ve supported them in the past and will do so again. This is what I want to be watching, not just because it’s a world that reflects the true complexity of the world I live in, but also because it’s the kind of media I like. (I’m also SUPER hoping there are characters that aren’t straight in this narrative because THAT WOULD BE AMAZING. And because I bet they could do it.)

The prologue and the first four episodes show several different types, personalities, and shapes of women. I love that. I love seeing more than the sassy best friend or the love-lorn girl or the ditz or the book worm as the ONLY. FEMALE. CHARACTER. Heck, I love it because, while some of the characters have SHADES of those tropes, they aren’t trope-tastic. These women are reluctant and eager, funny and boring, shy and assertive. They are MORE than their femaleness or their coloredness or their magicness. And so help me, THIS is the standard I want ALL my entertainment to achieve: to imagine a world wherein people are people and the window dressing that makes the person up CONTRIBUTES but does not DEFINE so utterly that the person gets lost.

This project is awesome.

But there’s a problem: It’s nowhere near funding. Here’s where we get to the stats*, and it’s a bit depressing:

  • Goal: $75,000
  • Funding Status: partially funded; ~12%
  • Total Backers: 360+
  • Interesting Stretch Goals: None announced.
  • When Did I Jump In: About six days before closing.

As many of you know, I am VERY proud of the fact that I have never backed a project that has failed to fund. It’s not because I’m risk averse. I’m just very lucky. I mentioned in one of my write-ups last week, that streak may come to an end. This project ends sooner and, let me tell you, I would be honored if this project is the one that broke my perfect streak. I hope it does not, but this project is SO WORTH the effort to me, even if the effort ends up being in vain.

MisSpelled is an awesome step in the right direction. It helps me imagine my world more complexly**, which is vital to creating more complex art of my own, as well as treating people better in my day to day life. It’s entertainment that breaks down damaging assumptions and stereotypes. It is fantasy that actively promotes a better reality.

I dearly hope it comes to life – if not now, soon. Because the world needs stories like this. Now.

*As of posting, 9/23 at 12:00 Mountain Time

**Thank you to the Vlogbrothers for this phrase. It’s become a short-hand reminder for myself to do better at a LOT of things.

[><] & [::]

What I’m Backing: 5Pax – Fast Dice Games by Galliant Games

Okay, this is a party I’m hoping a LOT more people will join. I’ve backed one other project by Galliant Games and was really excited when they announced they were going to do another project: 5Pax – Fast Dice Games. It’s very sad, to me, that its just NOT getting the support their last project did (even though it’s a Staff Pick), as I think this has the potential to be a lot more universally appealing than Scrapyard Empire, which is a Steampunk niche sort of game. I think that may be the problem actually: this doesn’t appeal to a niche audience. General audience games tend to have a harder time funding.

Stats*:

  • Goal: $9,500
  • Funding Status: partially funded; ~20%
  • Total Backers: 80+
  • Interesting Stretch Goals: None.
  • When Did I Jump In: The first day. I was told about it about a week in advance, so I was waiting for it.

And, of course, now I talk about why I’m backing.

I love filler games. I back a lot of games, but most of them take an extended period of time to play, which is JUST FINE. If I’m feeling like a game night. Quick games that people can play while they’re waiting on friends or if they just want a simple, one-round game before bed or if they don’t have enough players for a game yet are great and I don’t have a lot of those. My family plays a lot of card games and those fill the need, but you can only play Spite & Malice or Gin Rummy so many times without wanting a little variety. But . . . good filler games are hard to find. What I like about 5Pax is that the intention is to be EXACTLY that: several good filler games for a couple-few people.

Another thing I really like is the fact that these games were made to travel. They come in a small box that can fit in a backpack or purse. LOVE travel-ability. That makes games so much more fun.

Also: not a wallet buster. Ten games for 25 bucks is fantastic. But, if that’s still a bit much for you, print and play is available for 5 dollars (you provide the dice) or you can get one game sent to you as a postcard for 3 dollars. There are also some deluxe and multi-pack options, which I always like.

Probably what sold me on this project was the company. Like I said, I’ve backed with them before. Now, that project hasn’t been seen through to completion, but it has thus far been very well handled. This company had proven that they wanted to make a good product that people could enjoy and were willing to communicate with the audience about a whole ton of different things. That trust enabled me to get excited about this project. Now, we just need to get more people excited, dang it!

*As of posting 9/18 at 12:00 Mountain Time

[><] & [::]

What I’m Backing: Punnies by Llyn Hunter

Okay, I’m a sucker for puns. A HUGE sucker for puns. And the only category I come close to backing as much as I back games is publishing. So, when I saw Punnies by Llyn Hunter, it was kind of a no-brainer.

Stats*:

  • Goal: $11,000
  • Funding Status: partially funded, ~72%
  • Total Backers: 190+
  • Interesting Stretch Goals: Two stretch goals for expanding the amount of art in the book.
  • When Did I Jump In: In the first couple days.

And now, of course, why I backed the project.

Again: Art. I love supporting good, fun, quirky art as much as I love a well-designed game.

Puns. I grew up in a family whose sense of humor consists of ALL THE PUNS. It’s somewhat disturbing actually. So, with that in mind, seeing the puns take visual form in pretty, pretty art was a strong draw. Also, I’m a big fan of the table art book. It’s a great way to set a mood in a room and I feel like having a book of puns in my front room is just perfect (especially considering the guy I’m marrying and will be sharing a front room with). The fact that each visual pun comes with a poem (there are some examples of the accompanying poem on the Kickstarter page) that explains/reveals the pun is a fun bonus. It puts me in mind of a lot of the Tomie dePaola and Michael Hague books I grew up reading. There was often a short text and a beautiful illustration to go with it, and say it’s more nurture than nature, but that’s a book style I like.

Another really attractive part of this project is that there’s clearly a plan. Hunter states that ze** has drawn 32 of the planned 48 pages and would like nothing more than audience input for those last 16 pages. I do love Kickstarters that ask for backer participation. Best kind of project. HOWEVER, if there is no backer participation, ze has said that ze enough ideas to fill over 100 pages. This is excellent and I really appreciate knowing both the preferred plan and the back-up plan.

The stretch goals are pretty simple in this project: more pages. More art. The original funding allows for a beautiful table art book, so the only logical improvements are to add more art. Each goal adds another four illustrations and poems (or eight pages).

I hope this one makes it. I’ve never backed a project that failed (although I did back one that was canceled by the creator . . . it doesn’t count) and I don’t want to ruin my record now. Thankfully, Punnies has been pretty steady in its progress and it still has about halfway to go in its funding period. I’m hopeful!

*As of posting 9/17, 12:00 Mountain Time.

**I used a gender neutral pronoun since I don’t know gender and don’t wish to assume. That’ll be a standard on this blog.

[><] & [::]

What I’m Backing: Galaxy of Trian by CREATIVEMAKER LLC

Okay, so this is that new series I was talking about. Currently, I’m only backing five projects, so between now and next Wednesday, you’ll see the sum total of what I’m backing. For now.

Today’s feature is Galaxy of Trian. Basic stats* below:

  • Goal: $19,500
  • Funding Status: fully funded; nine stretch goals hit
  • Total Backers: 860+
  • Interesting Stretch Goals: SO. MANY. And they seem very manageable. The art is already done, they clearly have a plan.
  • When Did I Jump In: In the first couple days, about $2000 dollars before full funding.

And now, of course, why did I jump in?

As is often the case with games on Kickstarter, the pretty art was the first eye-catch. That will ALWAYS be a great way to get me to consider a project: LOOK GOOD. To pretend that art is not an influence in my game choosing would be a flat-out lie. So reason number one: the art is PRETTY. Also, the game components look GREAT. I love it when game pieces are objects, rather than the traditional punch-out tokens. I prefer some heft to my game components and this game rings that particular design preference bell.

Also: ALIENS. I see steampunk and historical games and magic games APLENTY on Kickstarter. And I love those games, as my backing history will surely tell you. But there is a distinct and tragic dearth of aliens. Galaxy of Trian filled that niche admirably. Look at all those pretty aliens.

One of my favorite parts of Galaxy of Trian is the build-your-own-board function. I like games that aren’t the same board, repeated over and over again. Whether it’s a different mix and match of cards/tiles to get a different full board for each game or a board that builds as the game progresses, I like the variety. It ups replay-ability by a lot, and that is a big part of what I look for in games I back on Kickstarter. Variable boards always make me look closer.

More on the variety front: there are several versions of the game available as backing rewards. There’s the Deluxe, Geek Set, and Team Play (Deluxe or Geek Set). What about a Basic? Well, there will be one up for sale, but all backers automatically get upgraded to a Deluxe game as an additional bonus for helping initially fund the game. I LOVE that. I’ve been happy to pay for Deluxe sets in other campaigns, but I appreciate the company choosing this way to recognize backer contributions. The Geek Set includes perks like the game signed by the authors, an expansion, etc. The Team Play options are getting two games of either the Deluxe or the Geek Set, which allows for an expanded version of play with 2vs2vs2 games. You can also get one of each style, if you so choose. There are also add-ons like t-shirts, if you’re into that sort of thing.

And now, stretch goals! Something I’ve seen happen more and more lately is that Kickstarter campaigns have stretch goals for both money beyond the original goal AND social media sharing. I was leery at first, but I’ve come to like this function. I like that backers are rewarded both for their money and their help promoting the project.  Currently, the project has reached six financial stretch goals (11 extra tiles added to the game, help cards, and a 5th playable alien race) and three social media stretch goals (three more extra tiles, spare parts, and a shiny logo). I’m personally really hoping we make the stretch goal that was announced last week: another playable race. But, that goal is still about $28,500 away. Then again, the project has been going like gang busters the entire time and we’re in the last week, which is traditionally one of the most profitable. If the first three weeks are any indication, we may well get there with time to spare.

Ultimately, I jumped in the game because I think I’ll enjoy it. I’ve looked at a lot of games on Kickstarter and it always hurts me a bit when I feel like a game that CLEARLY meets some of my base criteria (art, likely replay-ability, fun theme) just doesn’t strike me as something I’d enjoy. Thankfully, Galaxy of Trian seems to ring all sorts of my nerdy bells, and I can’t wait. And when it comes, you can be sure I’ll review it.

*As of posting time 9/16, 12:00 Mountain Time

[><] & [::]