Kickstarter: A Rant
I Kickstart games sporadically. Several of my friends go in for big purchases like Zombicide and KaosBall (both excellent games!), but I like crowd sourced game publishing for the little things: Eight-Minute Empire, Dungeon Roll, Coup, and most recently Coin Age are all excellent games that were available on Kickstarter at trivial cost.
Coin Age, the most recent offering from Tasty Minstrel Games, has made their product even more accessible with a pay-what-you-can format: $3 is the minimum support level to receive a single copy, as that's their per-unit break-even point. They suggest a donation of $5 as a reasonable retail price for the game, and the average per-copy donation currently sits at just under four bucks. In any case, even with the most expensive of the games I've listed- I think Dungeon Roll ran me a big twenty dollars- I can still play a little game with myself. I'll support the game, forget about the money I spent, and move on with my life. Then, at some point in the following year, the universe sends me a free game in the mail! At least, that's what it feels like.
There's another reason why I fund the little games more readily than the big ones: my money seems to go further. The biggest title I've supported to date is the excellent Tammany Hall, which ran me $65. Although it did blow through many stretch goals after quadrupling its original goal, most of them involved the addition of a bit of extra glitz to a fairly complete and elaborate game. The wooden discs got stickers, the plain cloth draw bag was upgraded to embroidered black velvet, and custom meeples with top hats were added; all lovely touches, but they're relatively small tweaks to a game that felt fine out of the gate. In contrast, let's take a look at my Kickstarter copy of Coup. For $23, I thought I was buying the basic game: fifteen cards, a rulebook, and a baggie of cardboard sci-fi coins. It also went stretch goal crazy, making over 30 times its inital goal, but the upgrades feel very noticeable relative to the size and scope of the original product: art upgrades for all the cards, a sixth role that substantially changes the game, and enough cards to play with eight players instead of the original six. They also upgraded the coins to be shiny and metallic, but that aesthetic upgrade feels very significant as an overhaul of the only non-card component in the game. All of that to say: I always feel like my money's going further when a small game obliterates its stretch goals and makes my new game better than I had expected.
In the meantime, as I happily await my shiny new copy of Coin Age, I'm faced with a more serious problem: the game is designed to use a handful of pocket change as both army markers and two-sided dice, with quarters, nickels, pennies, and dimes each having a different value in both combat and territory control. Given Canada's recent phasing-out of the penny, I have to go on the hunt for the few one-cent pieces that remain in circulation. I always knew my board game purchasing habit would leave me begging for change, but that isn't quite what I pictured.