Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies live on Kickstarter

Introducing Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies – because Tiny Epic Galaxies is just too big!

My last ‘Oh OK why not’ pledge Kickstarter for August is Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies from Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games.

The Tiny Epic series has a lot of hits and misses depending on who you ask. Tiny Epic Galaxies is my favourite to date, but I still need to play some of them so that may not be entirely true.

One aspect I like about the series is most of them can be played either solo, cooperatively or competitively. For a lot of gamers, this can be a negative as a project that tries to be everything to everyone rarely succeeds. That has certainly been the case for some of the series.

For me, I enjoy that I can play a solo game or five and get a feel for the game, without having to play as extra players. It’s also fun playing a solo game and having it turn into a multiplayer expeirence.

Tiny Epic Galaxies has been a lot of fun on a few business trips. I have been able to play a solo game in the lounge, and switch to a ‘full’ game as people came to see what I was doing.

Anyone that knows the game already knows everything happening here

The Beyond the Black expansion became a hindrance to this though. Gamelyn Games has the theory that Beyond the Black is a standalone game and deserves its box. It also comes with a sleeve to keep the two games together.

The two games combined create a reasonably solid brick that isn’t as easy to travel with. Sure, in a suitcase it would be easy to pack around, but in a backpack full of other stuff? Not so much.

Because of this I haven’t been carrying it or playing it as much as I used to.

One of these in a side pocket of my backpack will be a lot easier to leave in my bag

So when I saw that Gamelyn was recreating the shrinking experience of Ultra-Tiny Epic Kingdoms with Galaxies, I was excited. Now I can have a travel game about the size of a standard poker deck, while still keeping a 1-5 player game on the move.

And the pricing isn’t bad either – about AUD$18 for Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies or AUD$29 for both Galaxies and Kingdoms! So I went for the latter, as I haven’t played Kingdoms in years.

If you have always been curious about the Tiny Epic games, this is a good price point for a lot of content. Especially as Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies also comes with the Satellites and Superweapons expansion included! Or you may be like me, where the original just became a bit too much to throw in your bag when travelling.

If you don’t know about the game, check out the wealth of reviews and content already on the internet. Tiny Epic Galaxies was even on Tabletop, with Tim Schafer playing! Don’t know the name? He designed or was involved with some of my favourite adventure games such as Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts and Day of the Tentacle.

I am a little curious how my monkey hands will go with the mini sized cards, but it should be fine

Or even easier – watch the game with the video below!

Whatever your interest in the game, this is an incredibly short Kickstarter run, with about four days left of the project.

Check out the Kickstarter here for more information.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Can you unlock the secrets of Crypt X?

If the professor just used find my friends, we wouldn’t have as much fun!

So jumping on to Kickstarter for the first time in a while, a new project came up on the games page for me.

That game is Crypt X, and I have backed another narrative puzzle to draw me in.

Short version – decipher the clues to find the missing archaeologist.

The better introduction is from their Kickstarter video:

The idea of a puzzle based narrative isn’t new these days, but as a genre, there are many different implementations which make things so exciting for me.

Using an app (Android and iOS), you can solve over 50 puzzles to get discover the location of the missing archaeologist.

It is these kinds of game that app integration/hybridisation makes the most sense to me. Yes, you can have a book of text like Sherlock Holmes, but that leaves a lot to interpretation and correct printing. Even in ideal circumstances, that is a lot of text to search and read through.

Stuck? Get the next hint without seeing anything you shouldn’t. Does error or important information need to be updated in the puzzle? As long as your app is up to date, all this should be easily dealt with.

I am still looking forward to getting started on my Enigma Box, but that is also part of the problem – getting started. Now that I have moved and things are settling nicely, that’s not as much of a problem.

The Enigma Box had a fairly high entry price though. Yes, you get a lot for your money, but if you are just curious it was a pretty steep price.

Designer Rose Atkinson working on early prototype **Image from Crytp X Board Game Geek Page

Crypt X looks to be a challenging time, which could lead to quite a lot of fun! But it also looks quite bite-sized, great for people just getting into the genre.

But how will I know if I will like it?

One of the things I really like is even before the game is released, there are already samples of the kinds of puzzles you can expect.

On the Kickstarter page, there is a link to an Android app (sorry iOS users) that uses finished artwork from the game, but different puzzles so it’s a great time to experiment and see how you will go!

But wait, that’s not the only puzzle!

Hidden within the promo video, the campaign page itself and updates there are clues for a 4 digit code.

Crack the code and enter on their webpage (which isn’t up yet!) and you can win a swag of puzzle goodies that helped inspire the game!

The project ends Friday, July 19th at 9 am (AEST), so check out the Kickstarter page and/or the Board Game Geek page, and see what you think!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Elder Dice: The Colours Out of Space will liven up your game nights

Elder Dice Kickstarter

If you are already tempting the Dice Gods, why not tempt them all?

Dice are one of those tools that many gamers don’t give a second thought to, and some obsess over.

I enjoy playing with quality dice, but I don’t have a bag of dice that betray me.  So I guess I am in the upper middle of this demographic?

Rolling a nice die and a cheap one is like being driven in a Limousine, then a Golf Cart.  Both do the job, but one is more relaxing and fun than the other.

There are always fun things to be done with dice as well.  I have written of Polyhero dice in the past, dice that take a fun form of the character you may be playing.

Infinite Black has created some lovely looking ‘standard’ polyhedral dice with some customisation, but also add more for your gaming pleasure.

Elder Dice Brand of Cthulhu
As if you needed incentive to not roll 1's already!
Elder Dice Eye of Chaos
Truly if there was ever a set that suited me, chaos would be the one
Elder Dice Star of Azathoth
Do not mention Lovecraft's note to himself!
Elder Dice Seal of Yog-Sothoth
Yog-Sothoth sees all and knows all

But as well as being gorgeous looking dice, they also come in their own clever book-like case with a magnetic clip – very thematic and handy!

There are also a number of stretch goal designs and add-ons being unlocked as the campaign continues.  These range from new dice and case designs to playmats and even a gorgeous looking GM screen!

Backing a project like this is always a very personal thing – it clicks with you or it doesn’t.  These dice won’t make you a better role player or increase your chances of a critical success, but they do look great.

If these designs appeal to you check out the Kickstarter campaign and have a look see.  The pledges, bundles and add-ons are a little confusing on the surface, but the team from Infinite Black are active in the comments if you need a hand.

Elder Dice Lower Library Miskatonic Playmat
My favourite playmat design, and the design shown on the GM screen

If you love the look of the dice but can’t wait, the original Elder Dice designs are still for sale on their website for quicker gratification 😀

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Tiny Epic Tactics has one more week on Kickstarter

Tiny Epic Tactics Cover

Another Tiny Epic Game is on Kickstarter

The Tiny Epic series of games from Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games seems to be a divisive one in gaming circles.

I know people that swear by every iteration and rank them as some of the best games ever.  I know others that will walk away when they hear “Tiny Epic” anything and not give any game a chance.

I am in the middle.  I enjoy the idea behind the series, but not every entry has won me over.  For example, Tiny Epic Galaxies is a lot of fun, Tiny Epic Western not so much.  Well, to me anyway.

But that is actually one of the things that attract me to the series.  On their own, each entry is a lower cost gateway to a genre of games that many people may not have tried.  Sure, the Tiny Epic may be a gimmick, but it helps keep the costs down and storage space to a minimum!

So not liking some of the games in the series to me is no big deal.  No one like every type of game, so there will always be misses for players.  It just surprises me how many people judge the entire series from one or two isolated games.

Tiny Epic Game Haul
When you have so many games you can release your own carry bag! Image from gamelyngames.com

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about Tiny Epic Mechs, and made no secret it was the interchangeable weapon loadouts and custom meeples that attracted me.  The game looks OK (I haven’t tried the Print and Play version yet) but it has a solid base, and I can pull it out to take somewhere instead of Adrenaline for example.

Well, the new instalment is using in the box storage solutions and terrain, similar to Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats. It’s also a tactics combat game, so think along the lines of Arcadia Quest in a lot of ways as well.

Now Arcadia Quest I acknowledge as a fun game with incredible components and a lot of replayability.  But like any big success and hobby, you can sink a lot of money even into a starter scenario.

Firefly Adventures: Browncoats and Brigands is cheaper and I am a fan of the series, but to date I haven’t really had the chance to get it to the table properly.

Both games have some issues introducing them to new players – one is cost, the other is the theme.  Yes, themed games – especially licensed IPs – can stop people from trying new games.

Tiny Epic Tactics Contents
Not a new idea, but a compact idea and probably a good way to introduce people to a new style of gameplay

But a game in a little box with clever components?  It’s amazing how many people are willing to give a small box game a go compared to the bigger ‘proper’ games.

Tiny Epic Tactics has a few different game modes, which adds to the appeal factor for a wider audience.  Want to play solo?  There are solo rules.  Games are only fun when you dominate? Go the competitive ruleset.  Like to enjoy the social experience of cooperative gaming?  You are covered as well.

And this huge variety of choice is why I am pretty much going to stop talking about the game here.  The things I am interested in may turn you off, and the things I may gloss over or ignore as not for me may be what excites you about the game.

The best advice I can give is that if this has sounded interesting to you at all, check out the Tiny Epic Tactics Kickstarter page and check it out.  There are many preview videos as well as the information from the order, and a how to play solo preview from Gamelyn Games that I have also added below!

The Tiny Epic games should always be viewed on their own merits, and I certainly don’t have most of the series.  But the ones I enjoy I really enjoy, and I think that Tiny Epic Tactics will be one I can get to the table fairly often in various forms.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Terror Below is on Kickstarter!

Terror Below Cover Art

Anyone that remembers Tremors will feel right at home with Terror Below

In today’s gaming world, there are a lot of games that seem to fight for your attention.  A lot of publishers use tricks like lots of mini’s or ‘Deluxe’ components to grab your attention. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it is pushing a lot of other solid games and mechanics out of the spotlight.

If I said Pick Up and Deliver games, the newest example I can think of is Wasteland Express Delivery Service, a game that players seem to either absolutely love or really, really don’t. Merchant of Venus, Power Grid, Steam and Keyflower are other fine examples of the genre, but again they tend to have that large divide in player opinion.

So what do you do when you want to make a new game based on a mechanic that seems to be in the process of being ignored?  Don’t take yourself seriously and have a ton of fun with it seems to be the best answer.

Terror Below Concept Game Board
Concept game board and components from promo video

Renegade Game Studios and Mike Elliot have unleashed Terror Below on Kickstarter, and it tickles all the right parts of my brain. Terror Below is a Pick-Up and Deliver game where you pick up the eggs of underground creatures and deliver them back to the authorities (or at least someone) – hence the name of the mechanic.

Anyone familiar with the Tremors franchise is going to feel right at home in this world, and I think that’s just fine.  If you are a tremors fan, you are already putting your serious mind on hold to enjoy the ride.  And if you don’t know Tremors, the best advice I can give is just to sit back and enjoy the ride.

I would explain the gameplay in a bit more detail, but honestly, the Renegade Kickstarter video sums it all up nicely in 90 seconds, so I will just add their video here:

So who do I think would enjoy Terror Below?  Lots of people really.

It’s a Pick-Up and Deliver – a simple goal that is easy to pick up and get your head around.  There is combat after a fashion with the creatures, so there is some variety in ways of getting points and objectives.

The big plus to me is that Terror Below doesn’t take itself seriously.  Now you might think that’s just for the humour and setting, but it’s also shown in the streamlined ruleset.

A player has been eliminated?  No one has to wait – count your points and play again.  Need to build an engine for an hour before playing the game ‘properly’ for two hours?  Nope.  You can get three games of Terror Below in the same amount of time as one of many other games.

I don’t think that Terror Below is a game that will redefine board gaming, but I think we forget in the hype not every game has to.  Terror Below looks to be a fun light to medium weight addition to the Pick Up and Deliver genre that my collection is lacking, and I thank Renegade and all of the backers for making this possible.

Terror Below Card Example
Multi use vehicle cards seem very clear

Another nice touch is that there is one level – all in for USD$45.  No discount on recommended retail, but backers do get stretch goals and the Hidden Cache deluxe upgrades.  Everything included is on the Terror Below Kickstarter Page – check it out – the campaign goes for one more week.

But don’t just take my word for it – there are a bunch of other thoughts and previews on Renegade’s YouTube channel.  This even includes my personal favourite in a gaming Kickstarter – an actual game being played!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Human Punishment expansion Project: Hell Gate Live on Kickstarter

Human Punishment Project Hell Gate Cover Art

Why do I hear ‘Ugh, another Social Deduction game?’ 10 times more than ‘Really? Another Euro?’

Social deduction games are a bit of a mixed bag.  It is also a term that is in my opinion overused to describe a lot of games.

To me, a social deduction game is when you are trying to divine a players team or role.  Games like Werewolf (Ultimate or One Night) or The Resistance are good examples of this.

Games like Mysterium are not Social Deduction to me.  Everyone knows each others role.  Yes, there is deduction involved, but it’s not the same as playing a role and having others try and work out what you are doing.

It’s like when people say The Simpson’s is for kids because it’s animated – look deeper and you will see something different to what you originally assumed.

This puts Social Deduction games in a bit of a weird position.  While many share similarities in play just as Werewolf and The Resistance, there are many that have their own unique twists to the genre such as Good Cop, Bad Cop and Bang!.

It surprises just how many people hear the words Social Deduction and just tune out to the actual game in front of them.  And I don’t mean just players in this criticism.

I have seen many reviewers wave off a game as ‘another social deduction game’ without even mentioning any of the unique features of those games.

But bite a player once – especially a new player – and that can destroy a genre for them.  It’s just human nature.

The Resistance Third Edition Cover Art
The Resistance earned its place in Social Deduction history - but there are other games as well!

A few years ago The Resistance was all the rage with my games group, and Avalon took hold because of the extra roles over the original.

After a while, I tried to introduce new rules with the Hidden Agenda and Hostile Intent expansions and was met with resistance (no pun intended).  Learning new rules to a game people already knew was ‘too hard’, but because Avalon looked like a different game learning the new rules was easier to accept.

People can just be like that – they have one learned opinion, and getting them to look at something differently without judging based on assumptions can be a blind spot.

Enter Human Punishment – Social Deduction 2.0

So in 2017 Godot Games launched a Kickstarter for a game called Human Punishment.  At the time, I didn’t look too closely for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I was on the edge of ‘coming back’ to Kickstarter after a bit of a hiatus.

Secondly, the basic gameplay resembled Good Cop, Bad Cop – a game I was having a lot of trouble getting to the table.  But it also included role elements of games like Bang! meaning you had multiple layers.

Human Punishment looked really interesting, and the art was amazing, but it wasn’t enough to push me over the edge for backing it.

A very quick (and oversimplified) synopsis is you are dealt an ID and 2 loyalty cards at the beginning of each game.  If you have more Human (blue) cards, you are a human player trying to wipe out the Machines and Outlaws.  If you have more Machine (red) cards, wipe out the humans.  If you are an Outlaw (grey), be the last player standing.

Each turn, you play a single action that will either give you information on another players loyalties or get you closer to picking up a weapon to help you eliminate another player.

You have to be careful about eliminating other players though.  You don’t know for certain what team anyone else is on, you only know that someone is going to eliminate you eventually!

Human Punishment Core Game
Human Punishment - at the time, I passed but it looked interesting. Image from Project Hell Gate Kickstarter Page.

I also love that unlike Werewolf, there is no moderator.  If you are eliminated, you will get a snapshot of the game state as everyone secretly tells you where their loyalties are.

So this went into the ‘keep an eye out for, but not this time’ Kickstarter pile, and that was that.  Or so I thought.

Project: Hell Gate, the expansion for Human Punishment is currently on Kickstarter, and I have been having a look.  On its own, the expansion adds new scenarios, roles and abilities – grounds for buying if you enjoy the base game.

But it also adds Boss fights – and from the looks of it, not just for the sake of it.  Thematically the situation has gotten dire for the human side, and in desperation, they activate an old weapon known only as Hell Gate.

They were losing, what did they have to lose?

As you can see from the video, quite the impression has been made on many players.  I already enjoy Good Cop, Bad Cop and I absolutely love Bang! the Dice Game, so a game that combines the best of both worlds – why wouldn’t I be in?

Multiple roles, changing game states, betrayal both intentional and incidental – these elements can make an amazing social night with the right group of players.

And that is another advantage of Human Punishment.  The minimum number of players you need is 4, with 5-6 being the opening sweet spot from all reports.

I know from experience that 5 players are a strange number for games nights.  It’s not quite enough to split into two groups, but not enough for bigger games.  I have games for this player count, but they tend to be filler or longer involved affairs – not always great for games night.

Yes, you can play The Resistance with 5 players, as well as a number of Social Deduction games.  But bottom line, most of these games do not start to shine without 8 to 10 people, so while they are options they aren’t high on my list.

Human Punishment Standard Base and Expansion
The Standard Edition Base game and Project Hell Gate Expansion. Image from Project Hell Gate Kickstarter Page.

So I have backed the core game and the Project: Hell Gate expansion, and I am looking forward to playing it myself later this year.

As usual, there is a catch.  There is a lot to weigh up if you should back Human Punishment.  If you are light on social deduction games, this looks like it will be a good fit for many groups.  The theme isn’t super original, but for this type of game that works in its favour – let your players build a story as they play.  You don’t have to ‘sell’ a world, almost everyone knows the Man vs Machine mythos.

There are a lot of roles and programs that will add complexity to the game, and if this is your first time running such a game you will want to ignore a lot of the extra items (like the fourth and fifth ‘factions’).

This extra functionality is partially why I haven’t gone into fine detail talking about this project.  The parts that truly attract me aren’t for first time players, but the base game is a very strong foundation to build on.  This means you will be able to play and keep adding elements to Human Punishment for many games to come.

If you are interested, The Rules Girl from The Dice Tower did a quick and concise 3-minute rules explanation for the original Kickstarter campaign:

While I think only certain types of people will back Human Punishment for whatever reason, I think the majority of people would enjoy playing it.

On that basis, if any of what I have described has piqued your interest then check out the Kickstarter Project and let me know what you think!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Tsuro: Phoenix Rising is on Kickstarter

Tsuro Phoenix Rising Cover Art

Building on a classic for a second time.  Will the Phoenix rise?

So I recently reviewed Tsuro and Tsuro of the Seas from Calliope Games (And WizKids before that).  I enjoy the core gameplay of Tsuro, but Tsuro of the Seas added a little too much to pip the original for me.

Now Calliope is 10 years old and is celebrating with a third version of the classic game – Tsuro: Phoenix Rising.

Like Tsuro of the Seas, Tsuro: Phoenix Rising is being launched on Kickstarter, and there is just over a week if you wish to back a copy for yourself.  I have backed myself, and the funding goal has been absolutely smashed.

But why would I back if I didn’t enjoy more rules over the simple base game?  It all has to do with what rules have been added, and how gameplay has been impacted.

And from everything I can see – Tsuro: Phoenix Rising looks good.  Really good.  This is the kind of update I wish Tsuro of the Seas was.  If you want to have a look without my thoughts, check out the Kickstarter page here.

Tsuro Phoenix Rising
New game, but same core rules. Image from the Kickstarter page https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/781219801/tsuro-phoenix-rising

The Core Tsuro Experience

Tsuro at its core is a tile laying game, where you attempt to connect paths that keep you on the board the longest.  You try to weave a path for yourself while trying to manipulate other players to hit each other or fly off the board.

Tsuro of the Seas added randomness but also potentially messing the board at each turn.  I didn’t go into the issue of messing the tiles too much as you just lay them out further apart to counter this, but it is an issue.

The Phoenix Reborn

Everyone at Calliope seems to have listened to this feedback over the years, and everything about Tsuro: Phoenix Rising has (on paper at least) ticked every one of the complaints.

Adding more game than the abstract ‘be the last player’ – Check.  In Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, you are now playing as the titular Phoenix and are collecting lanterns to turn into stars.  The first player to 7 stars wins – a simple, clear goal.

This is handy when playing with some players that just need a reason to play – just being the last one doesn’t click for a lot of players.

Tsuro Phoenix Rising Collecting Lanterns
Prototype game in play. Image from How to Play Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rM1J5yXSGp8

Playing around with the board state in Tsuro of the Seas was frustrating.  In Tsuro: Phoenix Rising, you not only add tiles but rotate and flip existing tiles – and now there are extra components on the board!

This has been addressed but a 3D plastic base for the game.  On the surface, it looks like a useless piece with upside down cups to minimise costs.  In reality, the board locks tiles in place, but the ‘cups’ allow you to press down on a corner and easily grab the now raised tile, without interfering with any other tiles.

Tsuro Phoenix Rising Game Board
Manipulate the board without disturbing other tiles! Image from the project Kickstarter page

And finally, there is the game length and player elimination.  A lot of players and a focused goal can lead to longer play times.  Add an unlucky tile draw or lapse in concentration, and you can be out for the better part of an hour.

But you are now playing as Phoenix – the legendary bird that rises from its ashes upon death.  Now players have a life token, allowing them to rejoin the game once.

This will most likely contribute to longer games than the original Tsuro, but with a more ‘gamey’ objective, I don’t think it will detract from the experience.  If it does, I will probably play without them, or only newer players can use them.

But how does Tsuro: Phoenix Rising play?

I have intentionally skimmed over how to play this new game because Calliope has made a video showing you how the game works themselves!

Check out the video below:

What the Kickstarter offers

As usual with Kickstarter projects, there are a few different tiers and options available to you, starting with the Standard Retail tier of 1 copy of Tsuro: Phoenix Rising for USD$40.

Having both Tsuro and Tsuro of the Seas and enjoying bonuses, I am backing the Kickstarter Exclusive tier at USD$55.  Here, I get some alternate pretty Phoenix tokens, a PVC custom insert, and the ‘Twilight Portal’ expansion up front.

Not a required purchase in any way, but if I can grab the expansions straight away, I prefer to do so – especially with games sometimes not coming to Australia.  The expansion seems far from a must buy though, but the price increase if fairly minimal.

I don’t know if the insert will make that big a difference though.  It’s some tiles and tokens after all – not usually an organisational nightmare.  The alternate tokens are a nice touch, but again not really a must buy.

All this is just a long way of saying if you aren’t sure, the Standard Tier is still a great buy.

Tsuro Phoenix Rising Retail Tier
Contents of the Retail Box - more than enough game. Image from the project Kickstarter page

If you have not never heard of Tsuro before and want to go all in, then Legacy of Tsuro tier is great value at USD$100.

Not only do you get everything in the Kickstarter Exclusive tier, but the two previous games as well.  And Tsuro of the Seas comes with its own expansion ‘Veterans of the Seas’, so you truly will get all that is on offer for a great price.

Overall though, to me, you will need to know you want the lot before backing – even though it’s a great deal.  Tsuro of the Seas doesn’t come close to replacing Tsuro for me, but Tsuro: Phoenix Rising will probably replace Tsuro of the Seas in my collection.

Tsuro Phoenix Rising Tsuro Legacy
Great price for what's on offer! Image from the project Kickstarter page

But don’t take my word for it – there are plenty of previews and thoughts over on the Kickstarter page – check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Space Goat seems to have gone back to space?

Space Goat Productions Logo

Maybe the Men in Black can track them down?

So I have written a couple of times about Space Goat Productions and their CEO and Founder Shon C. Bury.

I have gone quiet of late on the subject because so much of the situation and the feedback around it has contained so much hate and misdirected aggression.

Up front, this piece is going to sound like an attack on Shon C. Bury.  It kind of is, no matter how I try to tone my words.  But please remember that so many others have been affected by this man and the actions of his company by his direction.  Kickstarter may have given him a platform, but they did not disappear with false promises.  Tommy Gofton and Lynnvander Studios didn’t take your money.  Gamerati doesn’t owe you stock that they haven’t been paid for.

It’s unfortunate that these entities and others like them are in the firing line, and I understand that people are upset and angry at the situation, but blindly lashing out and making sweeping statements only serves to further tarnish and muddy an already confusing situation.

I imagine a lot of people already following the situation are about to stop reading if they haven’t already, but remember this before you go – You are right to be angry and upset.  I feel we have been conned, and that is not fair or right.  Ever.  Everything I am about to talk about isn’t intended as a defence of Shon or Space Goat – the entities you should be directing your energy towards getting something back from.

And with that, what has been happening the last few weeks.

In short – nothing

Since the failed equity offering, the only Kickstarter update has been the ‘We need to find out what we can do’ updates on the respective Terminator and Evil Dead projects.

Nothing on the Facebook pages, nothing on the websites.  In fact, literally nothing – all of the Space Goat URL’s go to a Bluehost landing page, so there is another company I am betting never got paid.  The @GoSpaceGoat Twitter account reads like an advertising feed for everything but games and comics.

Just over 4 months have gone by, and not a meaningful peep on any of their social and direct channels.  I refuse to count the 10 best wooden salad bowls as meaningful contact.

Space Goat Terminator Update
While from The Terminator Board Game page, the Evil Dead Kickstarter got the same message.

Space Goat seems to be permanently closed

There have been signs of this for a while, but just – wow.

Google Maps used to show Space Goat Publishing as closed for a while, but while writing this I am having trouble getting even that up for an image.

The US Better Business Bureau is showing Space Goat as having Patterns of Complaint and now has the alert that it seems to be Out of Business.  The Washington Business Search shows Space Goat Play as Active, but Space Goat Productions in Delinquency.  This simply means Shon hasn’t filed his annual financial report and will be considered terminated (I couldn’t resist) and of January 2019 when they paperwork isn’t lodged.

Space Goat and Shon just disappearing from the internet and different companies using their pre-booked booths such as at San Diego Comic-Con all point to nothing good for people that gave money in good faith.

Space Goat Better Business Bureau
If anyone looks into Space Goat now, this is the sort of information they can find.

Tommy Gofton and Lynnvander Studios Offered – Something?

Now this section isn’t intended as click bait or a shot at anyone involved.

That said, Tommy Gofton announced on a few forums and on the Lynnvander Vlog over on YouTube that some news may be coming to help the Evil Dead people.

A build-up to the big announcement video and – an official statement that he can’t say anything without getting in trouble and/or potentially ruining deals.

Now, something positive can still come out of this, but a lot of already very upset backers got p… let’s say annoyed.

A lot of people have been talking about it, some attacking Lynnvander and some understanding that a third party that really has nothing to do with this is trying to help make something cool come to life.  And if you read anything else about Tommy or Lynnvader’s involvement please remember neither party took your money, and they are just trying to help.

Yes, bad timing and suspicious build up people upset have some valid points but there is one point that these people seem to conveniently ignore – Tommy is still contactable and doing things publicly.  He is still doing vlogs and stated his side pretty clearly early on – no disappearing act here.

Lynnvander is also hopefully soon launching an Army of Darkness board game on Kickstarter – check it out.  Unlike Space Goat I have enjoyed a few of the Legacy projects already.

And the latest blow – Gamerati is selling off what has been made in a warehouse lien

So a few things were physically made, and a bunch of stuff for this from the Evil Dead campaign.  This stuff is being warehoused at Gamerati, who (surprise surprise) haven’t been paid.

As such, they are enforcing a Warehouse Lien and auctioning off the items to recoup their $6,000 owed.

Now, by law, they can’t give the items to the backers that paid for them.  This is a legal thing, but a few people have been making public bad comments at Gamerati about this.  I can only imagine what they are getting privately.

This is one of those situations where I really don’t like the internet.  A lot of backers have seen this via various means, and some have decided to publicly attack a company that is just another victim of Space Goat.

What is being auctioned off at Gamerati (image from their blog post)

But Gamerati is in just as bad a situation as the backers – anything over the $6,000 they are owed has to legally be paid to Space Goat.  That’s the law.  They have no say in this.  I think this is going to be hilarious because that means contacting a company that has pulled its head in and doing the best ‘I Don’t Exist’ impression ever.

A few people have complained that Gamerati won’t just accept payments from individuals for individual components or do a closed sale for the lot, then gotten verbally angry when told they can’t.  I’m no lawyer, but the law is they have to put this stuff up for auction to everyone.  If they sold it as a group to backers, even the people that ‘paid’ for it, Space Goat can sue them for theft as I understand it.

And it’s not in the companies interest just give away the items to backers – the work involved in separating out items will cost them labour hours, and there is still their own costs and the threat of legal retribution for doing so.

But bottom line, if Space Goat is just walking away from a $6,000 bill that their SEC filings show they could pay from the WeFunder campaign, it’s a good bet they are walking away from everything.

So what’s left for backers?  Who is to blame?

And here is where I may be getting inflammatory.  What do you do when a company runs away with your money?

There are a lot of people angry at Kickstarter and want them to reimburse the pledges or be held accountable.  I disagree for a few different reasons.

One argument (now) is that Kickstarter allowed Space Goat to do another project without fulfilling the first one.  This is a semi-valid point to me.  There are plenty of other established companies that have had multiple projects running without initial fulfilment – Steamforged is one of them.  It can be argued that they still have not fulfilled a project – Dark Souls the board game is on shelves, but not all of the content is finished still.

But the fact they hadn’t completed a project wasn’t hidden information.  The fact Evil Dead was their first project was also public knowledge.  I have said before Kickstarter isn’t a store – you are helping fund an idea.  I saw the Terminator project, and pulled back my pledge to just the base game when the cost of the add-ons started piling up – that is a red flag for me always.

Horizon Zero Dawn Scrapper
The attention to detail is amazing again. Once again, I may be backing a game just to paint minis

Kickstarter overall to me fulfilled their part of the arrangement – they gave Space Goat a platform to raise the money, and yes they took a cut (they are a business), so do the credit card companies and everyone else involved in the chain.

Kickstarter puts in their terms that project creators must do everything they can to provide the product backed.  This is to allow backers the chance to pursue their money in court if things go bad.  Allowing an established company (remember they are/were a comic book company with years of proven history when doing their projects) to do a second new project doesn’t seem an unreasonable choice to me.

Now, if I ran a Kickstarter for a deliverable product with no history behind me, then ran a second project I would expect a lot of questions to be asked.  But companies like Steamforged and then Space Goat had a proven commercial history – not entities you would expect protection from.

But look at Space Goat today.  From their last SEC filings, they were kinda broke and there are already a lot of companies before Gamerati looking for their money back as well.

Let’s say backers from both campaigns pooled their resources with these companies and we launched a lawsuit against Shon and Space Goat.  Individual costs would be low, as we would grouping and spreading a cost against a single target.

But even if we won, how would we get anything back?  They are broke.  There is nothing to get from them.  Legal people may be willing to help, but to what end?  Sue someone for x{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of nothing, including their own fees?  In cases like this you usually make the legal fees a part of the suit itself, and there just isn’t a pool to get money back from.

eBay seller rips you off?  Lodge the complaint through eBay and PayPal.  Did someone access your credit card fraudulently?  There are processes to get your money back.  But Kickstarter isn’t a shop – you are handing over money in good faith to bring a project to life.  This is Kickstarters strength and weakness.  And this is another reason why I don’t think that Kickstarter should be held financially liable in this case.

And that’s where the wild thrashing begins

Space Goat is not the only Kickstarter where people have felt like this.  There are other examples, such as Radiate Athletics from a 2013 thermal gym shirt.  This one hurts because there is legal action starting to help get backers back at least something, and there is nothing visibly being done about Space Goat.  This one has current interest again as legal action that began in 2015 is proceeding again.

There is one difference though – the people behind Radiate Athletics are still around and have a chance of paying back a successful suit.  But when you are angry, you don’t always look at things like this, instead you start looking for someone you can blame.

Saying Kickstarter owes the backers is blind anger for being what feels like conned.  Yes, we could pool our money and try and sue Kickstarter as well, but that will set off a lot of consequences.

The first and most obvious is Kickstarter costs would increase, increasing costs of projects.  This is the exact same problem as holding credit card companies accountable for the losses.

Again, not a lawyer, but the base premise already exists for credit card companies.  Part of the credit charges we all pay go to covering bad debts.  The more times you get your money back from a credit card company, the higher this number gets.  And it’s not just the example $100 you get back – on top of that is the costs of trying to recoup that money from whoever took it from you in the first place.  This includes legal fees and labour hours.  For you to get back your $100 may cost the company $130, so costs go up.

If for the example this was Shon, he has to pay back more than he owed.  But he doesn’t have the couple of million raised in Kickstarter already, so the credit card companies have to cover these costs if we could successfully claim the money back.

Holding Kickstarter successfully liable means these same sorts of costs and insurance would be required by Kickstarter, and then the already inflating credit charges would start to be mirrored by Kickstarter.

Now by all this in no way am I saying we aren’t owed the money back.  What I am trying to point out is who actually owes us the money and who should be paying it back.

So no one is to blame?

Not at all – Shon C. Bury is to blame.  We essentially bought a dud product from a company that failed to live up to its promises, then ran.  He seems to have taken the way out of closing shop and running, making it cost even more to go after him.

If this was your first and only Kickstarter, I can understand running from the platform at a full sprint.  It hurts that this has happened – I have lost money too.  Not as much as some of you, but this isn’t academic conjecture to me.  I have a stake just like everyone else in this.

But blindly lashing out at people that aren’t responsible isn’t the answer.  The people that just worked at Space Goat aren’t the ones that took your money.  The people that made the components in good faith and haven’t been paid didn’t take your money.  Shon C. Bury, CEO and founder, made the decisions that cost you your money and then ran.

There are con artists in this world.  There are people that make mistakes that will cost you.  Generally, these people will stand up and own their mistakes.  It doesn’t make it OK, but it helps when someone can say “I did this, and I am sorry.”  How does it help?  You have a target.  The responsibility for actions is taken.  You still watch them closely, but most people that do this will at least try and make things right.

I have backed over 200 projects to date on Kickstarter, and only 2 have disappointed me.  Terminator is one of those two, and the only one I honestly feel I got conned by.

I have been trying to write this for over two weeks, and each time I sit to write I feel physically ill about the whole situation.  Originally this was going to be my first Blatherings again after announcing the new podcast with Alpal, but I have so much trouble keeping the anger out of my voice.  This is the last time I am giving Shon C Bury my time with one exception – if I ever see anything he is attached to, I will make sure that my thoughts are shown to anyone else involved in the project.

Once again, if you are someone that has been affected by the dealings of this man, you have my sympathy.  This sort of thing never feels good, and we should all hold the man responsible accountable.  But no one else.  Blindly lashing out never helped anyone, but making sure that others know the dangers and what to watch for does.

Would you pay someone that has never built a house thousands of dollars to build yours?  Of course not.  Be wary of Kickstarters by all means – you should be.  If they have no track record, don’t give them your money – especially if they keep asking for more.

Yes, someone has to take the chance on someone for them to prove themselves, but think of Kickstarter like gambling – if you can’t comfortably lose that money, don’t spend it.

I cannot wait to see a world where people like this do not come out on top like they do today.

Never again Shon.

JohnHQLD

Nanty Narking has a couple of days left on Kickstarter

Nanty Narking Box Art

Nanty Narking still means ‘Great Fun’

A while ago, I wrote about an upcoming Kickstarter.  That bit of news was about Nanty Narking, a retheme and rework of Martin Wallace’s Discworld: Ankh-Morpork.

I saw the post go up that Nanty Narking was live, and then instantly stopped.  It is being produced by Phalanx, the people behind the upcoming UBOOT game.  I backed that project, and am really looking forward to playing it.  It’s not a ‘Who are these guys?’ issue, it’s a ‘the project is in pounds’ issue.

I already own Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, and can barely get it to the table as it is.  That said, I enjoy it a lot.  Each character has a secret goal they are trying to achieve, and exert their influence on the city of Ankh-Morpork to try and reach their own goals.

The game has some issues – anyone that tells you it doesn’t is in fan denial.  But it is a middleweight game that is a lot of fun at the highest player count, and has a special spot in my collection.

Nanty Narking Game Setup
Really, Nanty Narking is Ank-Morpork Second Edition, with nicer components and streamlined rules

Mechanically, the retheming of Discworld to the fictional Charles Dickens/Sir Arthur Conan Doyle London makes a lot of sense.  Sir Terry did base a lot of Ankh-Morpork on Old London after all, with many characters a parody of the same source material.

A lot of the issues of the original have been addressed in Nanty Narking, but I think the same problem still exists.

I am not talking mechanically, I believe that Martin Wallace would do what he believed best to address those issues.  No, the problem I am talking about is that this is a big heavy game feel with fairly simple mechanics.

This made Ankh-Morpork a miss as a gateway game and an enthusiast game, meaning really Discworld fans were the main audience to give it a go.  Too heavy for a gateway game, to light for a ‘serious’ game, an IP with a loyal fanbase and yet somehow still not mainstream – Discworld: Ankh-Morpork was a niche game in almost every way.

Nanty Narking Personality Cards
Replacing the Discworld identities are various well known Victorian Literature characters, each with their own goals

I have seen lots of reports of people demoing the game at conventions and the like and wondering what they just did.  This is not the sort of feedback you want for your game.

That said though, I am fairly confident that a 2-hour learning game (which was always my experience) was kind of crunched into a rushed demo experience.  If I ever tried to teach Ankh-Morpork at ‘normal’ speed, the same feelings were often described as problems – Playing an action because they had to, not understanding the impact the actions on the game, etc.

If you can pick up a copy of Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, I really do recommend it but with the ending of Discworld licensing after Sir Terry’s passing, they are really hard to get.

The more I look at Nanty Narking, the more I see a very pretty version of a game I wish I could convince more people to play.  But this is an AUD$170 game including shipping for a game I essentially already have!

Check out the Nanty Narking Kickstarter and see what you think.  Keep this in mind though – the player count is really 3-4 players, with the best experience at 4.  If you have three other players that are keen, everyone going in may be the better way to go?

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Tiny Epic Mechs is live and crushing it on Kickstarter!

Tiny Epic Mechs Feature

Tiny Epic Mechs was a must have impulse buy

I have a bit of an on and off history with the Tiny Epic series of games.  I absolutely love the concept – a small box with a big box feel.  Sometimes these games have hit, sometimes not.

The first to really click with me was Tiny Epic Galaxies, a Yahtzee style dice roller with variable powers.  What looks simple becomes a frantic race to earn enough victory points in time.  Tiny Epic Galaxies starts slow but finishes in the blink of an eye.

Tiny Epic Western is a game I need to revisit.  I backed it early and went all in, but the almost poker mechanics led to some disagreements at the table.  But the idea is solid – a worker placement game with poker hands instead of die rolls or similar.

Tiny Epic Zombies looks like a lot of fun, but I am still waiting for it to arrive.  I have seen the updates on Facebook of happy backers receiving their copy, so I have been avoiding the ‘Tiny Epic’ updates for a couple of weeks.

Early this morning I woke up to a Kickstarter notification – ‘Be the first to back Tiny Epic Mechs’.  Pre-coffee John opened the page, and saw this:

So I am now a backer of Tiny Epic Mechs, the latest Tiny Epic game from Scott Almes.

Really, just putting Meeples in Mech suits had me sold – it was an early morning impulse buy of the first order.  For someone with sausage hands like myself, there is a good chance these item meeples will be too small to put the items in and out constantly, but the idea is great.

Like every other Tiny Epic game, this one is mechanically different.  Now players are competing against each other in a gladiator-style match, but with action programming – similar to Colt Express.

Tiny Epic Mechs Parts
Build up your pilot meeple as you play

Over on Kickstarter, not even 24 hours in and the Stretch Goals are dropping quickly.  Extra pilots and component upgrades have already been unlocked, with more to be announced.  And unlike some other publishers *cough CMON cough* if the project does well, backers just unlock everything.  Tiny Epic games are designed to fit in the small box, period.

And Gamelyn Games is far from a Kickstarter novice.  On the page you will also see a game run through with JonGetsGames, as well as many previews from a lot of different board game reviewers.

And one of my favourite things to see on the page – the rules!  While Tiny Epic Mechs was indeed an impulse buy, having had a chance to look through the rules this morning this really does look like a game I can get behind.

This looks like a straightforward (if potentially component fiddly) programmable game that should be simple to teach during the first playthrough.

Tiny Epic Mechs Solo Meeple in Mech
So many Ripley references will be made early in this game 🙂

So head over to the Tiny Epic Mechs Kickstarter page and have a look for yourself.  It looks like a lot of fun for under AUD$50, including shipping!

And if you are on the fence, grab the print and play version and give it a try for yourself 🙂

Until next time,

JohnHQLD