Crowdfunding, the concept of getting your dream project through public donations, has really taken off in the last few years. This is especially so for independent and small publishers of games. There is no shortage of projects being run on it at any given time from custom new tabletop RPGs all the way up to big-box game releases. Since this is an area we at the Cardboard Republic take particular interest in, we are usually watching things as they come through. What follows is what we feel are the best games that we have seen come into successful funding in 2012, and have either also been released this year or intend to no later than the first quarter of 2013. When making our selections, we avoided games that were direct re-themed / re-released versions of existing games. We also sidestepped games being produced by well-established game companies looking to use Kickstarter as a sort of pre-order site for their wares. Without further ado, I give you our picks of 2012:
Farmageddon is a fast-paced game of planting and harvesting crops, released by 5th Street Games. At first glance the idea of a planting game may not seem that interesting to you, but it ends up surprising most players in its staying value. Yes, the premise is to grow and harvest your own crops, but equally often you will be blowing up your opponents yields instead. At the end of the game, the person with the most profit wins, but you’ll probably enjoy getting there too. More, it’s simple rule set and quick turn structure makes for a great family game that can be enjoyed by kids and adults. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it appears, but with a very modest price tag, it’s a good addition to a family or social gamer’s library.
4. Chicken Caesar
This premiere game from Nevermore Games has it all. Murder Betrayal. Poultry. In Chicken Caesar, players navigate around the intricate political system of a highly advanced chicken coop. Players vie for various positions as they posture their way into seats of power. Most won’t last long though, as people’s motivations and loyalties will shift as often as the wind beneath your feathered wings. We did a more comprehensive review of the game, but the premise is straightforward: ensure that your rooster family lineage is as important as it can be in life and in death. The different positions provide different powers to use as well as insignia tokens that provide you points at the end of the game. The game is light-hearted on the outside, but the intrigue and diplomacy involved is not for folks who may be a little yellow.
3. Zombicide & Zpocalypse
Game ideas tend to come in cycles, and one of the big themes of the last few years has been zombies. We’d like to chalk it up to a love of The Walking Dead series, but many of these games have been in development for years, and these are no exception. Enter CMoN’s Zombicide and Greenbrier Games’s Zpocalypse. We have tied these two games because of the remarkable similarities on the surface between them:
– Both games launched on Kickstarter and had massive success in fundraising.
– Both games have a player vs. the game mechanism.
– Both have stockpiled positive acclaim.
-Both successfully attempt to strike a balance between the survival horror of The Walking Dead with the fun campy zombie slaughter of Evil Dead.
As for the differences? Well, Zombicide is more of a big-box game comparatively, and it’s heftier price tag reflects the larger assortment of components and detailed miniatures provided. However, what Zpocalypse may lack in volume of pieces (it’s no freebie game either) it makes up for with the level of graphic detail. If you want more of the desperate survival feel, you may prefer Zombicide. If you’re more into the “defend the castle” style, Zpocalypse is the way to go. Really, if you are a zombie fan you cannot go wrong with either game. The most prescient difference to date? Zombicide is now available. Zpocalypse has recently updated stating a first quarter 2013 release.
2. Island Fortress
Also previously known as Huang Di, Island Fortress has had a long and storied history in attempting to get it to market. Needless to say, the creator’s self-run Kickstarter effort has paid off and the game will finally be released soon. In Island Fortress, you play as master craftsmen selected by the regional Governor of an island penal colony. Your use your laborers (read: convicts) to help build a fort in an attempt to become the most famous architect on the island. The simple turn-based tile-placement system allows players to take different actions depending on which cards they activate each turn. This process creates a game that possesses a decent amount of strategy without adding overly burdensome rules.
It’s rare a game wins gaming awards before even coming out, but as is with much of this game’s path to release, it makes the game stand out all that much more.
1. Heroes of Metro City
That was actually used in this game one session.
If you have ever played a deck-building game, you will know the concept is familiar: players start with a base card set and acquire more powerful cards for the deck as the game goes on. Whether it’s the fantasy realm of Ascension or the kingdom expanding theme of Dominion, the general mechanic remains. It is the same here in 3Some Games’s Heroes of Metro City. Their hook – the thing that sets the version apart – is two-fold.
First, you get to play your own super hero, with a name you could lift right out of watching Mystery Men. (In short: make it entertaining).
The other is that the players work collaboratively in order to face down a series of bad guys as you work up to defeating the randomized arch-nemesis. As the player’s powers grow, you have to contend with the arch-nemesis and their minions wreaking havoc on the “city”, which causes you to lose cards you’re trying to acquire. It pleasantly mixes elements of co-op, role-playing, and a unique automated attack mechanic that will keep people’s interest levels up. Expect this release in Q1 of 2013.
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