May Kickstarter Board Game Roundup

Dispatches from the Tabletop Trenches

Every May I wake from the slumber that is winter. Yes, technically spring starts earlier than that, but I live in Ohio, where normal weather patterns need not apply. While I am told that the return of sunshine is nice, it has little to do with the magic circulating throughout the stratosphere. No, for me the dawn of spring signals one thing; GenCon is coming.

When it comes to tabletop gaming, GenCon is a big deal. Over 60,000 attendees big, culminating in four days of game launches, product demos, discounts and deals. Last year I ran wild, and spent the car ride home wedged between my spoils in what would otherwise be a luxurious backseat. Seriously, it’s a good time, even if the price of admission is $90 and you’re playing whack-a-mole to find a hotel room.  

With the separation of me from my money looming, it makes scanning the hundreds of projects on Kickstarter that much harder. It’s difficult considering my lizard brain is fixated on one thing; Jae need game. May forces me to keep my impulses at bay, saving my shelf space, and my bank account, for future purchases. There will always be temptations, and these are them.  

b8d0981adcb3cde40e8658a007fd46ff_originalCavern Tavern

It’s like D&D at Denny’s. Well, I always knew being a server was a prestige class.

Very few things get me more excited than a worker placement game, so when a game comes along with a fresh approach, it immediately draws my attention. In Cavern Tavern, the players take on the task of serving the dregs of fantasy society in a tavern where health and code need not apply. Every player must balance serving the patrons and keeping the tavern running, while gaining favor with the barkeep. Yes, sucking up to the boss and bad mouthing your co-workers are the keys to success in the promising career of tavern knave/wench.

Like most worker placement and resource management games, Cavern Tavern appears more complex than it really is. Every patron has an order that corresponds to a list of ingredients, that when filled gives you points. Fast service nets you lots of points, but if you’re too slow, those lots of points are going to have a big fat negative in front of them. Time is not your friend, and with the addition of mandatory tasks and dealing with management, time becomes your outright enemy.

From what I’ve seen, I really like Tavern Cavern. The art is a fun mashup of fantasy humor and restaurant hell, with a cast full of elves, orcs, and disgruntled wizards. What really excites me is the use of time. Not only is it a resource you’re trying to manage, but it’s also the invisible player trying to deny you your hard earned points. Cavern Tavern is set to be a game of frantic competition and dirty underhanded tricks, just like my brief career as a waiter. See, there’s a reason I hate beets.

Cavern Tavern

Created By: Final Frontier Games

Players: 2 – 5

Skill Level: Intermediate

Base Pledge: $44.

Project Ends: May 20th, 2016

Ship Date Estimate: January 2017


Tak: A Beautiful GameTakCouple

The more elegant in its simplicity, the more devious in its design.

Tak is an abstract game along the lines of chess, checkers, and go, that’s ripped straight from the pages of Patrick Rothfuss’ book The Wise Man’s Fear. Using a square board that can vary in size, two players wage a game of strategy by either placing pieces or moving stacks to create a continuous line from one end of the board to the other. That’s it. That’s the game, and it’s freaking amazing. Yes, I’m biased.

I was excited the moment this project was announced by Patrick Rothfuss and Cheapass Games. I’m a fan of Rothfuss’s writing, and Cheapass Games has created some of the most enjoyable tabletop games I have ever played. I love abstract games, though I’m a specific type of terrible at Go, and any game I can toss in a bag and take anywhere has a certain charm about it. Yes, charm. Tak is charming, with a simplicity that’s easy to learn, yet poses a challenge in each and every game.

There are a host of funding options available, starting at $15 for a hardcover companion book that doubles as a gaming board, and $25 for a set of wooden pieces with their own bag. Either option will get you started, but for me, I’m looking at the $40 option which combines both the book and pieces in one package. If you’re interested, you can take a look at the rules online and see if it’s a game you’re interested in. Come November, if you see me out and about with my satchel, feel free to challenge me to a game. I’ll have Tak on me.

Tak: A Beautiful Game

Created By: Cheapass Games

Players: 1 – 2

Skill Level: Beginner

Base Pledge: $15 (book/board) / $25 (pieces) / $40 (both)

Project Ends: May 20th, 2016

Ship Date Estimate: November 2016



Because nothing says fun like surviving a post-apocalyptic hellscape with your friends. Well, until you start betraying each other, but that’s a whole different level of fun.  

The rise of survival games has directly impacted my wallet, and Saltlands is screaming for my money like an amped up Immortan Joe. This is a game all about escaping the horrors of a barren wasteland by any means necessary, where players can forge and break alliances as the threats of failure grow stronger. Social interaction plays a strong part in the mechanics, which combined with the random setup of the game’s components, increases the replay value tremendously.

From the looks of it, the designers of Saltland have tried to create a diceless adventure game in an immersible world. Surviving raiders and the horrors of the desert relies on who players ally or betray, instead of leaving it to the roll of a dice. I’m definitely intrigued, but there is one problem with a game’s reliance on a social interaction as a means of play. You need to have the right group of players, which can be problematic. I’ve seen fights break out over Junta, and table-flips during Egyptian Ratscrew, so I know how hard it is to get people excited over competitive games, let alone games involving bluffing and betrayal. Don’t let it discourage you, because flat out, this game is beautiful.  

I’m sitting here salivating at the art for Saltlands. It’s gorgeous minimalist punk, with components that look like they have some weight to them. They even have a Collector’s Edition available for anyone with way too much money spend, with all the components cast in metal. If only, right? Fortunately the based game is far more affordable, though we’re dealing with Euros so that price is approximate. I don’t know who I’m going to play this one with yet, but I know right where it’s going on my shelf.


Created By: Antler Games

Players: 1 – 6

Skill Level: Intermediate

Base Pledge: Around $48, or about $66 with the expansion

Project Ends: April 30th, 2016

Ship Date Estimate: November 2016


This is for my best friend, and anyone else who is a huge fan of The Dresden Files. Right now, The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is well on its way to becoming a reality. They’ve made their goal, and are now knocking off stretch goals like a wayward monkey-demon. It looks really cool, and has some great art, so if you or anyone you know are a fan of Harry Dresden, definitely check it out.