Have you ever faced the guilt you get after going on a spur of the moment shopping spree? Well on Kickstarter a backing spree is worse, dropping some serious coin on numerous campaigns in a short period with basically nothing to show for it?! It is an demo I have battled and hard to overcome.
But what hinders the rehabilitation of a hardened super-backer like myself is when a whole heap of backed projects are fulfilled at the same time and you essentially get a mini-Christmas. Somewhat disappointingly though was my run of getting what seemed like a daily delivery, just so happened to fall over the Christmas period – just my luck!
Between the start of December 2016 and the time of writing I have taken delivery of 14 games I backed on Kickstarter in the summer/autumn of 2016 and each and every time the courier stops in at my work with a package I get genuinely giddy to see a game I helped bring to life up close. Being involved in this community process, being kept up to date on design and production, makes you feel like part of it all and it is my underlying appeal of crowd-funding. That feeling, coupled with these wonderful deliveries coming for me at the single busiest and stressful point of my professional working calendar is not a good recipe for a Kickstarter addict like me.
Out of the games that have dropped, there are those which I was super excited for, those that I thought looked really interesting and those that I backed because it was a decent price and came with lots of extras. The expectation level varies depending on what category it falls into, and there is the recurring chance that certain games will fail to live up to the hype. Yet there is a flip-side, a game you thought would be decent enough but turns out to be much more than you bargained for.
Enter one such game – The Refuge: A Race for Survival from first time designer Floyd Lu and fledgling game studio B&B Games Studio who managed to entice 756 backers to raise $31,830 in September 2016.
This is a post-apocalyptic strategy game for 2-6 players that is essentially a race to safe haven away from the ever spawning zombie hoard. Starting at one end of 7×9 grid board, players take it in turns to carry out one action of the following; moving their character one space in a parallel direction (left, right, forward, backwards), drawing a card from the supply deck or playing a supply card from their hand – very simple. To cross into “the refuge”, players must posses a key card from the supply deck in their hand to unlock the door, so collecting cards not only provide useful boosts but is vital to unearth a rare key.
Each square that a player lands on triggers a certain reaction, such as spawning a zombie, moving a zombie, offering the chance to switch zones with opponents or just a safe zone that zombies cannot enter. Players can use the square powers to assist clear themselves a path to safety and more prominently hinder their opponents.
The game is very easy to learn and fast flowing, and during my initial play through it looked like it would be all over within 15 minutes – but then the take-that element truly came into play and the player one step from victory was quickly targeted by the other players, killed by a zombie onslaught and sent back to the start.
It was that moment that opened my eyes up to the potential of this game, revealing a very unexpected level of strategy at the foundation of the game. The “gang up on the leader” became a recurring theme, all the while the board filled with more and more walking dead and essentially transformed a quick filler game into a tense hour long light strategy game peppered with push-your luck elements.
The supply cards is where the game is truly won and lost with a wide variation of effects and powers introduced. As players are only allowed one move per turn, the closer one gets to victory the more they will have to foil the schemes of their opponents to stop them reaching safety. However, hoarding cards is also dangerous and certain cards when played resets the deck.
The end result is a very well produced and fun game that is more than what it first appears. The theme is very strong, with the possibility for the board to become awash with zombies and potentially end the game in stalemate. The strategy is so subtle that anyone can easily learn and master as they play, with a wide variation of imaginative supply cards. It encourages a one versus all mentality as part of the game is preventing your opponents from winning as much as trying to plot your own path to victory.
When I was piecing together the Tabletop Tales’ Absolutely Gimongous 2017 Board Game Preview a few weeks back, I never actually included The Refuge: A race for Survival. As a game I backed for the simple reason it seemed a decent bit of game for circa £23 and would be a cool addition to my collection, I anticipated a decent enough but very light, luck heavy experience that would render it pretty unmemorable.
I will hold my hands up and admit I was completely wrong.
Not only does this stand up well, it is a game I will look forward to playing again and again as something fun and accessible that breads a twisted everyone against he leader mentality I enjoy in games. This is certainly a new and solid choice as a gateway game to modern board gaming.
Now it has hit retail it gets the Tabletop Tales seal of approval as something most definitely worth checking out. In my mind, yet another success story for board games on Kickstarter.
Kickstarter Campaign of the Week
I really wanted to get the message out about this charming little game last week, but real life took over. With only five days left to hit £2500 funding, BAHOOCHIE: An Eejits Card Game is a project from from designer, artist and Scottish brethren George Mackay. It’s essentially a Top Trump style game, but illustrated quite wonderfully in a tongue-and-cheek Scottish theme – wild haggis, deep fried chocolates and the braw iconic patter. While I admit it is a campaign that caught my attention because I’m Scottish and know what “bahoochie” means, plus I’m always keen to support the industry in my homeland. However, the more and more I look at it the greater it appeals to me. The humour and illustrations are first class and really appeal to those familiar with the highland tongue. With pledges starting at just £4, I’d encourage all my readers to check it out and help bring this lovely little creation to life. For all the details, check out the campaign page.
NEXT WEEK: I move onto another Kickstarter game that has just been fulfilled in the form of a very amusing story telling card game.