A while back, I wrote a piece about the intersection of online crowdfunding, giant Kickstarters, and our humble hobby of wargaming. I took into account a broad spectrum of issues, both positive and negative, that affect how those two areas bump up against each other, but I realized I still have something to say on the subject.
Kickstarter has left me – and I suspect a good number of you out there in wargaming land – absolutely drowning in hobby stuff to do.
I’m not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing. Or a good thing. But it’s certainly a thing of some kind, and we need to talk about it. Every time I look at my hobby shelves, there’s something I got from Kickstarter that, while I’ve always meant to start working on it, either I have it way down on my list of stuff to do, it’s lurking in the back of my mind, or I’ve just flat-out forgotten about it.
How does this happen?
The way I have it pegged, it’s down to the outright generosity of the wargaming and miniatures Kickstarters. By and large, most of the Kickstarters that I’ve backed have offered a bunch of minis, usually about 100 or more, in their basic pledges. In some cases, over 200.
For anybody, even if you’re one of these paint-a-mini-a-day guys, that’s a still a lot of miniatures.
How did we get here? Well, Kickstarter projects want to get funded. You don’t get the projects if they don’t get funded. Minis are a common enticement for people to throw in for a game project (there are some who feel there are too many games offering minis, even when the games don’t particularly need them), and even moreso when projects reach their funding goals, there are almost uniformly MORE minis that can be unlocked via stretch goals (monetary goals reached above and beyond the projects’ stated funding goals).
More and more frequently, actually funding a project seems to be almost a foregone conclusion, and the real interest is in how far the project can be pushed, and how many stretch goals can be unlocked. Speculation, debate and requests in projects’ comment sections often center around what the next stretch goal will be.
The recent Reaper Bones Kickstarter, “Bones 4: Mr. Bones Totally Epic Adventure,” is a great example. The set of gaming minis had a basic funding goal of $30,000. It ended up receiving funding of just over $3 million. With stretch goals included in, the $100 base set price netted you nearly 160 total minis. Plus optional add-on buys, some of which included 40 minis or so.
Monolith Games’ Conan board game had a basic funding goal of $80,000, and received funding of just over $3.2 million. The $135 “King” pledge netted the backer 74 minis prior to stretch goals. With stretch goals included, that number tripled, to 215 miniatures in total.
I backed that project at the King level. The miniatures are beautiful and came in two big boxes. And I haven’t had a chance to start painting them yet.
If you’re like me, you’re always looking for a great hobby deal, and these projects seem to be it. We get caught up in the excitement when a project is going on, and we think that, if we back it and get a giant number of minis, it’s a fantastic feat of thrift to have gotten to much for (relatively) so little.
Hobbyists are pack-rats by nature, for whatever reason.
We’re always hoarding our minis and supplies, with the dream of a new, big project around the corner. And – I think unconsciously – Kickstarter projects tend to tap into that side of our brain. We see excellent minis, a new game, and think “Wow, that’ll be a great new project/a fun game to play with my friends.”
And, too often, when it arrives, it sits there, waiting with the other accumulated projects for attention.
What can we do about this? Nothing, really. More and more big-number mini projects seem to be hitting Kickstarter, getting funded and pumping out more and more minis.
But increasingly, I’ve had to ask myself this questions: “Realistically, how often will you play this game? When would you paint those minis?”
Might be something you’ll want to ask yourself, too.
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
Premium Game Mats for your favorite miniature wargames at GameMats.com
3D Printed Wargame Terrain for miniature wangames at our PrinTerrain Etsy shop