Since 2009, there have been over twenty thousand game projects launched on Kickstarter, with almost seven thousand of them successfully securing funding. A significant number of those projects were tabletop games, and with scores of new campaigns being launched every week, keeping track of them all can be a daunting task. Fortunately, Killer Moose has you covered.
Each month, the vast assortment of crowdfunding campaigns will be sifted down to a handful of projects you might have otherwise missed out on. Ranging from the cute to the bizarre, as long as it’s noteworthy and looks like fun, we’ll cover the spectrum. So whether you’re new to gaming or a grizzled veteran, here’s what’s out there for April 2016.
Sometimes we’re a willing sacrifice to the nostalgia trap. Now, where’d I leave my trenchcoat?
I have a soft spot for 90’s tabletop rpgs. Dripping with angst and brooding gloom, the entire era of way-too-serious is rife for parody. That’s precisely where Katanas & Trenchcoats comes in. What started as a loving jab at shirtless immortals chopping each other’s heads off, has now grown into a full fledged game. Yes, it’s a game where Duncan MacLeod and Buffy Summers can fight the cast of Kindred: The Embraced, and then go out clubbing at that cool, industrial warehouse. Yea, the 90’s were weird.
At its heart, Katanas & Trenchcoats is all about drama, overblown, living on the edge, everything is terrible and the world is going to end, drama. Tropes are integral to your character, and playing into them is more advantageous than not. Set in The Darkest Cosmos, and focused around the city of Darkest Vancouver, the setting “holds equal opportunities for scenes of dripping pathos and of sparking katanas.” It’s sort of like real Vancouver, but with more rain, darkness, and abandoned harbors.
I played the quick and dirty game that spawned Katanas & Trenchcoats, and it was an absolute blast. I’m willing to bet that an even more fleshed out version is going to be fantastic. For a small, comedic homage to 90’s nostalgia, the game is incredibly aware of what it is and why people play it. But it’s something more than that too. Gaming is about having fun, and when life gets a little too serious, you just want to play an immortal Egyptian Scots-Spaniard and cut off some heads between brooding monologues. Or is that just me?
Katanas & Trenchcoats: Retromodern Gaming by Ryan Macklin
Base Pledge: $15 for .pdf, $30 for dead tree.
Project Ends: May 1st, 2016
Ship Date Estimate: December 2016 (.pdf), January 2017 (dead tree)
Because we’re all tired of Colonel Mustard.
Police procedural games are far too rare considering how much television is saturated in gritty crime dramas and shows about daring detectives, which I’m totally all for. DEADCERT is looking to fill that void, with a narrative card game that requires you to rely on your reasoning skills — and a few underhanded tricks — to bring a murderer to justice. Yes, now you can relive every cop show ever sitting around your kitchen table.
In every game of DEADCERT, there are thirty-seven suspects for every murder, with each of them having their own motive, means, or opportunity. Using deductive reasoning, and a little bit of snooping on the evidence other players have gathered, you must identify which of the suspects has all three, and bring them to justice.
I’m a sucker for a good detective story, and I love games that revolve around deductive reasoning, so DEADCERT is right up my alley. With three modes of play, including a solo option, this game packs a lot of content into one box for about $36. Yea, we’re dealing with currency exchange rates again, and you will have to deal with the costs of international shipping if you’re outside the UK. Still, DEADCERT looks solid, and with 125 possible Murder Episodes, and even more on the horizon as stretch goals, the streets of London, circa 2015, are going to be a bloody mess
The Vitals: DEADCERT by Certgames
Players: 2 – 6 (co-op), 2 – 5 (competitive), 1 (solo)
Skill Level: Beginner
Base Pledge: About $36
Project Ends: May 3rd, 2016
Ship Date Estimate: July 2016
I don’t… I just… Fuck.
Oh blessed, Saint Jean-Luc Picard, I really wanted to love this one. Revenge of the Dictators has everything I enjoy about screwball, competitive adventure games. As a dictator on vacation in Hawai’i, you and your fellow dictators make a bet to see who can take over the world by traveling across America to disarm their nuclear facilities before reaching Washington D.C. and punching the President in the face. Think of it as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World full of Bond villains. But they didn’t use Bond Villains. They used caricatures of actual, real world dictators. I have a problem with this, and I’m not sure it’s one I can reconcile.
Basing parodies off of actual, genocidal megalomaniacs from the 20th and 21st centuries doesn’t sit right with me, and not just because I’m someone whose family was directly affected by Hitler and Stalin. There are people out there whose lives were shattered and ripped to shreds by the dictators they’re riffing on in their game, and I can’t reconcile their use as a humorous plot device. Look, I’ve told Hitler and Stalin jokes. They were terrible jokes, that weren’t really all that funny outside of their shock value. And that’s a problem when it comes to a board game. Playing Adolf Hipster is funny once, maybe, but after that it really doesn’t offer anything of value or importance to the game. Using ten campy super villain stereotypes would have had the same effect, and this is where my major problem exists. It’s a terrible design choice in an otherwise great looking game.
I love everything else about Revenge of the Dictators. The art, dictators aside, is fantastic. The gameplay looks quick and easy, utilizing a card driven play style to screw over the other players. The rest of the humor works so well. There’s even an expansion called American Agent “Bob,” which adds another player to hunt down the dictators and forces them to work together. If not for their choice to parody real world dictators, that really aren’t that funny, then I would so own this game, but as it stands now, I just can’t.
The Vitals: Revenge of the Dictators by Black Box Adventures
Players: 2 – 5, 6 with expansion
Skill Level: Beginner
Base Pledge: Around $39, or about $52 with the expansion
Project Ends: April 26th, 2016
Ship Date Estimate: October 2016
There’s another project on Kickstarter this month that I think everyone who likes tabletop rpgs should check out. Unknown Armies is raising funds for a third edition, which is absolutely fantastic. It’s a game about broken people conspiring together to fix the world, and how their obsessions can be a source of untold power. I loved playing the second edition of this game, and Atlas Games does an amazing job with every game they put out. Seriously, check it out.