Last month, 4 of our 5 Kickstarter picks were games that use a lot of dice. This month, not a single one uses dice! In fact, there’s a solo game, a dexterity game, and all kinds of other neat stuff in here. As usual, it was really tough to narrow this down to just five choices, but here we go.
Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alderac/dead-reckoning-the-swashbuckling-card-crafting-game-from-aeg
Campaign ends: Jul 31 (today at 7:00pm CDT!)
Scheduled to ship: May 2021
If you’ve played some of John D Clair’s other games, you might be familiar with his card-crafting system, which he first introduced in Mystic Vale. In short, the system involves taking card sleeves and adding other cards that layer new abilities in different spots, allowing players to craft cards just how they want them.
Dead Reckoning takes that card-crafting system to the next level in this 4X, pirate-themed adventure game. You’ll explore islands, fight battles, upgrade your ship and crew, and build fortifications. The goal is to have the most treasure in your chest at the end of the game.
Each time you play, you can choose how to develop your strategy at sea. You can explore and do your own thing, you can be a merchant and set up profitable trade routes, or, of course, you can be a pirate and try to disrupt everyone else’s plans.
With fantastic components, artwork by Ian O’Toole, and an interesting battle system (see the Kickstarter page for more info), Dead Reckoning has no shortage of tempting reasons to back it. It’s not cheap, but so far the previews and reviews seem to be quite favourable, so if you can justify the price tag, you probably won’t be disappointed by what you get in this big box.
Dollars to Donuts
Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/craftygames/dollars-to-donuts
Campaign ends: Aug 10
Scheduled to ship: May 2021
Designed by the same trio (Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich) behind Point Salad and Calico, Dollars to Donuts is a puzzly, tile-laying game where players spend money to buy donut tiles and match them with other tiles on their board. Unlike other tile-laying games, you can even hang tiles off the edge!
Matching similar donut halves will earn you Victory Tokens, while unmatched donut halves will earn you more money to buy more donut tiles. You can also use your Victory Tokens to serve customers and gain even more points.
Like Point Salad and Calico, Dollars to Donuts aims for that sweet spot of easy-to-learn rules but seemingly infinite options to explore. I love it when a game is simple enough to get into really quickly and yet still offers a ton of avenues to explore and options to consider.
We’ve had nothing but good things to say so far about anything these designers have been involved with, whether from a design perspective or through their publishing company, Flatout Games. It looks like they’ve got another hit with Dollars to Donuts, and the beautiful art from Dylan Mangini and diverse cast of characters makes this even more appealing.
Relics of Rajavihara
Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crazylikeabox/relics-of-rajavihara
Campaign ends: Just ended this morning
Scheduled to ship: Mar 2021
If you’re into video games, you’ve probably played a crate-pushing puzzle game before, or have at least seen these puzzle elements in games. Think of the dungeons in Zelda games where you need to move stuff around. Relics of Rajavihara takes that concept and builds an entire solo game around it. That’s right: this is a solo-only game, although you can play through it alongside a friend or partner if you prefer to have two minds working away.
Designed by Joe Slack and with art from Tristam Rossin, Relics of Rajavihara puts you in the shoes of Virginia Rivers, adventurer and thrill seeker. You’ve discovered a temple filled with ancient treasures, but so has your rival, Profesor Montalo. You’ll need to defeat your nemesis while acquiring treasures along the way.
Relics of Rajavihara comes with 50 scenarios in the basic level pledge spread out over 5 floors, with 20 more scenarios in the deluxe version. Each floor presents new challenges and mechanics, as the difficulty increases. But not only is this a campaign-style game, there’s also a replayable solo game that’ll increase the replay value even more.
This won’t be for everyone, but if you like puzzly games and you’re looking for a solo game to keep you busy for a while, look no further. It’s worth noting that the Kickstarter page only shows some of the components, to avoid spoiling what you’ll see as you progress up the floors of the temple. I’ve already backed this at the deluxe level and I can’t wait to try this out early next year.
Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alxhague/the-fuzzies
Campaign ends: Aug 21
Scheduled to ship: Dec 2020
The folks that brought you Monikers, The Mind, and Wavelength are back with another game that feels like it should’ve already existed. The Fuzzies is all about creating a gravity-defying tower out of little fuzzy balls, and trying not to be the one to knock it all down.
The game takes almost no time to set up, as you start with a tower of fuzzies that appear to hold together surprisingly well. On your turn, you flip a card from the deck, which will reveal a colour. You then choose any fuzzy of that colour on the tower, remove it (either by hand or with the tweezers included), and place it anywhere higher on the tower.
You can’t get out of your seat, but you can rotate the tower in any direction. As long as you complete your task successfully, your turn ends and the next player goes. Sometimes, you might have an extra stipulation, like you need to cover one of your eyes, or use your non-dominant hand.
When I first saw this on Kickstarter, I almost dismissed it for being too light and not enough of a game, but after looking into it a bit more, I’m sold. We absolutely love The Mind and we’ve been eager to try Wavelength. The Fuzzies looks to be an inventive take on dexterity games that should have everyone at the table laughing.
Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mantisfalls/mantis-falls-a-game-of-trust
Campaign ends: Just ended yesterday
Scheduled to ship: May 2021
As a 2-3 player game of strategy, deduction, and betrayal, Mantis Falls might be the most unique game on this list. The tagline says it best: Like life, a cooperative game that’s only really cooperative sometimes. As potential witnesses, players must work together to navigate the dark roads of Mantis Falls, survive the night and make it out alive. But what if one of the witnesses is actually an assassin?
Each game could either have only witnesses, in which case players need to work together to survive, or one player could’ve been dealt an assassin card instead of a witness, and they might be secretly planning their moment to strike.
Together, players will encounter events, make allies, acquire tools, and suffer afflictions. Each turn, players make coordinated plays that require trusting each other, because witnesses can only escape if they all make it out alive together. Ambushes await, and if you stray too far from a phone, you might not be able to call for help when you truly need it.
The Kickstarter campaign was incredibly detailed and it looks like a ton of work has gone into polishing this. The artwork and theme seem really prevalent, and the game even comes with a moody soundtrack to put on in the background while playing. I’ve never seen a social deduction game with this player count (2-3), but the idea of being able to play this with only two players is really intriguing. I can’t imagine how stressful this will be, but I can’t wait to try it out.
Agree with our choices? Any games you expected to see that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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