Like Prometheus, bringing fire down from the mountain, first there was nothing.
Then, there was Kickstarter.
Well, not quite. But if you’re a tabletop hobbyist like me, then you can scarcely ignore or avoid the siren song of Kickstarter and it’s many, many opportunities to addictively spend outrageous amounts of money. (I’ve only just re-downloaded the app after swearing a month ago I was done. Again. For the third or fourth time.)
For the uninitiated, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding site for projects of all kinds, from food (folks have tried to kickstart artisan sauerkraut) to books (I once backed a lovely collection of art by renowned fantasy artist Brom). If a project meets its funding goal within a specified period of time (usually a couple weeks to a month) then the project “funds” and, if all goes well, the backers who put money into the thing will reap the fruits of the project once it’s finished.
Among the categories of projects is Games. As I sit, writing this article in the Snoopy jammies I got for Christmas, there are 363 total game-related projects on Kickstarter, and among them are Tabletop Games.
There’s a variety of opinion about Kickstarter, both in general and related to gaming and wargaming in particular. Yes, Kickstarter is certainly a forum for folks with the ability to sculpt some Green Stuff and a dream of glory to make their goal of producing a mini army for sale come true.
But for everyone who sees Kickstarter as a great marketplace of ideas (I tend to be one of these), there are the cynics (also me) who acknowledge some of the uglier truths about gaming kickstarters: Often they tend to be dominated by larger companies; speculators will back projects and then sell what they get on eBay; the comment sections of projects can sometimes get ugly.
There are some, also, who think that there are way too many gaming projects featuring miniatures on Kickstarter – that featuring minis, even if a particular kind of game doesn’t necessarily need them, is simply a sly means of getting folks to back a project and pump extra money into it.
I’ve backed nearly 50 projects in my time, ranging from the large (Cool Mini or Not’s recent samurai-themed Rising Sun game, which drew in over $4 million) to the, well, not-so-large (“Old Salt” fantasy Cthulhu pirate minis by Macrocosm, which earned just shy of $3,200). I’ve had projects which took two years to arrive at my house, while some others took a matter of weeks.
At its heart, though, after you take away the politics and the gamesmanship that comes with Kickstarter criticism, tabletop Kickstarter projects are all about the players. Flat out, if a project didn’t appeal to the players, it wouldn’t fund, no matter the hype a company puts into their pre-project launch marketing.
Kickstarter is partly to blame for my getting back into the hobby. After I started painting again, I backed a small wargame by CMON called Wrath of Kings. I was taken by the design of the minis, and decided they’d be a great project for me to tackle. Then, I was drawn in by Mantic’s excellent DreadBall Xtreme game project.
Ironically, while I’m still in the process of assembling and priming my Wrath of Kings army these several years later, I’ve painted a couple of the DreadBall teams and enjoy games against my brother in law (I tend to lose, but I love the game anyway).
In fact, Kickstarter is responsible for my favorite board game, the Weird War II dungeon crawler, Fireteam Zero, which seems to have taken European gamers by storm (no pun intended).
If you’re a wargamer or a minis hobbyist and you’ve yet to give Kickstarter a try, I recommend you check it out, at least to see what’s out there. It’s a vast galaxy of things, from the unique, to the not-so-unique.
But there may, nonetheless, be something there you’d like to kick into high gear.
About the Author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube