This time around we go off the rails a little bit. I happened to back to comic Kickstarters. Trust me the games will be back next session but more and more of these will pop up as we move along.


Hardcore Luchador – An Online Comic Debuting May 5th 2012

Help us launch an online comic where two luchadores are cast into an unknown world where they battle evil and restore peace.

ks hardcore


End Date: February 24, 2012
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hardcoreluchador/hardcore-luchador

Why I Backed This Campaign
I am an ardent fan of comic books and web comics. I am also a fan of professional wrestling; Spartacus Publishing produced Luchador: Way of the Mask. This project is squarely in my nerd wheelhouse.

What did I get for my Support?
The campaign did not fund but the creators did eventually launch their web comic. I have reached out to them with the possibility of licensing their world as a stand-alone L:WotM Supplement. Will need to follow-up on that again…

Final Thoughts
As I write this Oatmeal’s Exploding Kittens is crushing Kickstarter, a classic example of activating your crowd in crowd funding. Though I think they had a good idea and some great art the creators went to crowdfunding too early. Their next campaign, after putting out many updates to their web comic, was more successful.


Spacetrawler Book Two
I am raising funds to print the second collection of the webcomic “Spacetrawler.”

ks spacetrawler

End Date: February 28, 2012
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/654744622/spacetrawler-book-two

Why I Backed This Campaign
Did you see the earlier post about web comics? Now just replace wrestling with Sci-Fi! Actually, I was reading this comic regularly. I jumped from creator’s site straight to Kickstarter when he launched the campaign. I am the activated crowd.

What did I get for my Support?
I like to think I directly helped support a comic creator; similar to buying original pages at a con. I am also a firm believer that a product in hand with the weight and feel of reality is better. The art is eclectic to say the least but the writing is top notch. Plenty of action goofy adventure, political interplay, and just enough inter-species sex to keep things nice and salacious.

Final Thoughts
His product was ready to go. I know because the campaign was launched with the finale of book 2. All that was required was pre-orders. In some ways I think this was one of my first experiences as Kickstarter as pre-sale store. Though over time I have been less inclined to back a pre-order Kickstarter campaign it has become a new reality on the platform.

Rhino-Men and Steampunk!

Tephra: the Steampunk RPG
Tephra is a steampunk RPG with a unique setting and a dynamic system. Help us get Tephra in your hands and at your game table.

ks tephra 

 End Date: February 4, 2012
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/257331192/tephra-the-steampunk-rpg

 Why I Backed This Campaign
Though I am looking at Kickstarter as a funding platform for non-RPG products at the end of the day the RPG book is what I know and what I like. When I backed this game I was trying to understand more about the appeal of Steampunk as a genre.

 What did I get for my Support?
I got a hardback copy of Tephra: The Steampunk RPG. I was not really sure what to expect and at the end of the day I am not really sure what I got. Their d12 system is neat, but does not offer any innovations in game play. Their world is lightly sketched out giving the GM plenty of room to stretch their creativity. The trouble I have is that you and your players really have to love the idea of a steampunk world. Crafting Characters like the electric whizbangers they use can get tedious unless you really enjoy the process and results.

Final Thoughts
If I was a fan of steampunk this would be a great buy. Solid enough art, 400+ pages, and good production values make this a decent buy. RPGs however, are at the whims of personal taste more than most other games. Tephra reminded me that what I back on Kickstarter should be limited to what I would buy off a shelf. Stretching yourself is okay, but jumping headlong into the pond can lead to unwanted results.


Conquest Tactics – A Strategy Card Game of Fantasy Warfare
Lead your fantasy faction to victory by using Troops, Spells and Equipment to defeat your opponent on the Fire Continent battlefield

ks conquest 

End Date: February 5, 2012
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1895600797/conquest-tactics-a-strategy-card-game-of-fantasy-w

Why I Backed This Campaign
The game promises to be a tactical fantasy combat game using cards. Love it! Ever since Battleground from Your Move Games I have been searching for someone to jump into the genre and run with it. They also have rhino-men as one of the factions!!

What did I get for my Support?
The box came with a bunch of tokens, three set of cards (representing the three factions in the game), and the game board. Quite a bit but I am not sure if it is $50 worth of stuff. The game plays very similarly to other games based on a limited grid system (like Berserk). The card art is pretty dark throughout and a lot of the text is too small to read comfortably. There is a kind of Pokémon like evolution/training system allowing you to advance your troops inexpensively. But the system is far from intuitive and boils down to the luck of the draw vs your opponents aggressiveness. The resource management system, Tactical Points, is genius and well worth playing the game a couple of times.

Every round both players generate an escalating amount of “Tactical Points”. The points are then used to buy gear and recruit soldiers. Then the player that has more remaining Tactical Points activates a unit, using the points to attack, cast spells, move, etc. If after activating the unit you still have more points activate another unit. Since these points accrue from round to round players can save up for a devastating assault or find themselves able to cast a single spell after deployment.


 Final Thoughts
Spending too much on Kickstarter is a common habit. Buying games that you don’t get to see, feel, read about is part of the “fun”. Sometimes you get a game that you play a couple of times and sometimes you get a staple of your game night. On some occasions you find a game that will reside on your shelf, but gives you a mechanic, an idea, inspiration for your own game design going forward.


Hopefully, with my own designs and Spartacus Publishing’s overall effort you find more than just an idea or two. Be sure to check out Nearspace to see how some of the ideas I have been exposed to over the years (from KS and elsewhere).


One doomed to die, One doomed to succeed…

Solar Empire: Collectible Card Game
Solar Empire is a space based war game for 2 players, its a fun and portable card game representing the conflict between two galaxies.

ks solar empire
End Date: December 31, 2011
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/169551076/solar-empire-collectible-card-game


Why I Backed This Campaign
First and foremost I backed this because of the title. Secondly, the sci-fi theme really spoke to me. As I mentioned before I am working on Nearspace and trying to get it into shape. So I was doubly looking for similar games and how they worked.

What did I get for my Support?
Well the campaign did not complete, so nothing. With only four backers and a rather sparse campaign page it is not really a surprise.

Final Thoughts
Obviously, failing on Kickstarter can be quite bitter. However, every experience is a learning experience. Thomas Smith had never created a campaign before this; he hadn’t and still hasn’t backed any campaigns. Be a part of the community. No matter how small the number some people took the time to reach out to you so do your best to include them in your endeavors going forward.


Omen: A Reign of War. Second Edition
Omen: A Reign of War. Second Edition. More units, more box, more Omen. Plus Kickstarter only expansion for 3-4 Players!

ks omen
 End Date: January 21, 2012
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/smallboxgames/omen-a-reign-of-war-second-edition

Why I Backed This Campaign
I saw in Small Box Games what I thought was a kindred soul; A small company working to put out quality games. I figured I could sample their wares and good or bad I had a contact to help in my own pursuit of the Nearspace card game.

What did I get for my Support?
I got a very cool card game. It plays really fast and is quite intuitive. Winning a conflict is balanced by placing yourself in a weaker position next round. That being said it is easy for a runaway leader to end the game at their leisure. The art is great, being a kind of neo-romantic, with a strong dash of MtG card art. Everything art, design, and production wise on this game is very solid. The metal tokens (a KS reward) are incredible.

Final Thoughts
Though I have reached out to the creators at Small Box Games concerning their manufacturer and artists, I have never received a reply. Granted I know they don’t owe me a reply, but it is a courtesy one would expect from another gamer. Be aware of the communities you are in. Just because you don’t think you are a small press company you probably are.


It is easy to see that the idea of Community is weighing heavily upon me this week. I am a firm believer that an artist alone can make great art, but when they make art for their community they can make a masterpiece.

2 Kickstarter Campaigns …2 Games in hand ?!?

Imperial Crusade Armada: A Unique Space Combat Game
Imperial Crusade Armada simulates space battles using plastic ship cards instead of miniatures.

 ks imp crus

End Date: November 15, 2011
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/139696320/imperial-crusade-armada-a-unique-space-combat-game

 Why I Backed This Campaign
I am a sucker for space combat games: Battlefleet Gothic, Babylon 5, etc. So this was an easy sell for me. Also the premise that the ships were represented by credit card like plastic miniatures was very appealing. (I may enjoy miniature games, but I am not much of a painter.) I really wanted to see how representing game pieces in this way would work.

 What did I get for my Support?
I got two fleets of 20 ships each, The Star Republic vs The Imperium, game tokens and a dry erase marker. We played this a few times and immediately hit a few issues. Graphically the “miniatures” are as enticing as milquetoast. This was a great opportunity to put some cool art on display and sell the fluff of the world. The color coded outlines really did not work.

Game play was decent enough, but there was little in the way of strategic positioning. Get in range and unload with everything you can afford to let loose. The weapons also suffered from static attributes. All the missiles in the game did exactly the same thing. This is true for all the weapon systems. Once again an opportunity to differentiate the two races and the ships they pilot was lost.

Final Thoughts
This idea is amazing. The physical game pieces had a lot of potential. Everything in the box was well made and got the job done. The trouble came in skimping on art and fluff. Great games have good game mechanics, but outstanding fluff and art. Battleground: Fantasy Warfare (Your Move Games) had introduced me to the idea of an inexpensive miniatures game using cards for your units. I believe this idea has incredible merit and I look forward to seeing James Kato revisit the game mechanic.


Miskatonic School for Girls Deck Building Game
The Miskatonic School for Girls is the first deck building game where you get to build your opponent’s deck! Plus, it has Cthulhu!

 ks miskatonic

End Date: December 5, 2011
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1225737959/miskatonic-school-for-girls-deck-building-game

Why I Backed This Campaign
As a creator I like to understand different game designs. I was familiar with Dominion and a couple of other deck building games, but none of them really stood out for me. However, Cthulhu involved at a girl’s boarding school and build your opponent’s deck mechanic – I am in. The art work throughout the pitch was stellar, which sealed the deal for me.

What did I get for my Support?
Besides a bunch of promos I got the full retail version of the game. It is light and easy to pick up. The art and fluff are very thematic and while I might have liked it a bit more gruesome (e.g. FFG’s Call or Cthulhu) it hits the safe for family mark square on the head. The game has become a staple of my board game library. It does not have the immediate re-playability of some games but it never gets wearisome to play. All of the components are well made and have held up to play very well.

Final Thoughts
I could not be happier with this game. It highlights what I want to do with my own designs and presents it in a great production. Production wise they should have gone for a smaller box as it huge and takes up a lot of real estate on the store shelf.


I backed two campaigns and got two games. I may be holding one to high standard but the other easily met that standard. My interest and passion for games on Kickstarter is definitely rekindled.

My Kickstarter Memoir

Far West: Western/Wuxia Mashup adventure game
A fantasy world based on the tropes of the Spaghetti Western and Chinese Wuxia. Add steampunk elements. Mix well, & launch with an RPG!
ks far west

End Date: August 25, 2011
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/Adamant/far-west-western-wuxia-mashup-adventure-game

 Why I Backed This Campaign
           I am starting to feel more comfortable with Kickstarter and look at what people locally are doing. Okay, Gareth-Michael Skarka and Adamant Entertainment are not terribly local, but Lawrence, Kansas is not that far away. GMS is also a creator who I have been familiar with for a number of years and knew off and on from regional conventions. It did not hurt that I am a HUGE fan of Kung Fu with David Carradine. The mash-up of Asian and Western is ready made for RPGs. Outside of the adventures of Kwai Chang Caine there is Red Son, Bunraku, Shanghai Noon, and more

 What did I get for my Support?
            I backed for a full-color, signed and numbered hardcover Limited Edition of the FAR WEST adventure game. Included in this was a listing as a backer and a PDF copy of the final product. Once again over three years have passed and I am without reward. One big difference here is that Gareth-Michael Skarka has realized that his silence was leading to a lot of ill will on the part of his backers. Though he has made numerous updates on the project’s progress the lack of anything concrete was noticeable. Recently he has begun to update backers on a weekly basis and progress seems to be continuing.

Final Thoughts
            The book looks good, from what I have seen. I am still interested in the RPG theme. From a personal standpoint I think this is a great example of make sure your backers are aware of where you are in the creation process right now. If the book is not written, or you need to pull together art, etc. let backers know. As you move along the creation process it is also important to let backers know what is going on. This can get overdone quickly. Some campaigns have inundated backers with hundreds of updates and quashed any interest in more. GMS updates have not been too numerous, but they are beginning to all appear to be the same “work continues” style.



Carnival – A deck and dice game.
            A deck and dice game for 2-4 players from Dice Hate Me Games.
ks carnival

 End Date: October 2, 2011
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dicehateme/carnival-a-deck-and-dice-game

 Why I Backed This Campaign
            At this point I knew I had to find games I would create from companies similar to my own. The game had an interesting theme, was already funded, and was coming from a group that felt like my own.

What did I get for my Support?
            I backed for a copy of Carnival including the Sideshow. One of the interesting things about the campaign was that they were promising December 2011 shipping, a 2 month turnaround time. Essentially this was a pre-order situation, not the back us or we don’t print it situation. And for the first time in this endeavor I have a product to review.

Carnival itself is a good enough family game a simple set-matching mechanic. Your actions are driven, and limited, by dice rolls. Non-gamers may have an issue with some of the mechanics, but overall the game is very approachable. It will prove to be a little simple, and luck dependent, by more experienced gamers.

Though the components are of decent quality they are not what one would expect for the price point ($35). The card board chits are very thick and the layers have a loose feel to them. The cards are thin, inexpensive, and serviceable suitable to the amount of time this game will absorb. The graphic design on the components, however, is top notch. A solid eye-catcher that draws you into the theme.

Final Thoughts
It can be exciting to jump on a campaign for a cool product, but take a moment and think if this is a game I would buy at my local game store. As we go along you will find me jumping headlong into projects without asking that question. Though overall Carnival is a good game with decent components it is my first taste of Kickstarter remorse.


First four campaigns down. For the first time I actually have a reward in my hands and initial reaction is disappointment? Maybe I need to rethink this Kickstarter retrospective…

My first time…Kickstarter

About four years ago I started hearing about crowdfunding and in particular Kickstarter. I did not give it much thought as it sounded kind of sketchy. I decided to check it out and was very impressed by some of the products I found on the site.

I immediately contacted other publishers and creative types to discuss the possibilities presented by the site. I found most to be in the same boat I was, a little skeptical but optimistic. After some looking around I happened on a project that really seemed up my alley.


Dice Age – These ain’t your grandpappy’s dice!
50% ART, 50% GAME, 100% DICE!
dice age 

End Date: June 20, 2011
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1536325846/dice-age-the-new-era-of-dice

Why I Backed This Campaign
                This is a tabletop game that focuses on dice; had me there. The game reminded me on the surface of my own Nearspace game. Granted, those similarities were superficial at best. But for my first dip into the crowdfunding pool this seemed like a natural fit. It had the additional benefit of already being funded. No worries right?

What did I get for my Support?
                I had pledged for two full castings of 23 dice. Basically enough dice for two people to jump into the game. What I actually received from my first Kickstarter, nothing. Through a series of questionable business decisions and lackluster follow-up the creator wound up frittering away his war chest. In the end he had nothing and was hand-making the dice to sell via the web. I had tried to stay in contact with him but eventually even my supportive emails went unanswered.

Final Thoughts
                The process of crowdfunding is a crap shoot from both ends. On my first campaign I got burned. Though it would take a long time to realize it and to accept that the money I had pledged was gone. However, I was hooked. As of January 1, 2015 I have backed 211 projects, 148 of them have completed successfully. I am looking at Kickstarter as a new paradigm in the comic and game industry. A future that Spartacus Publishing needs to be part of.


Chocolate! Handmade From Bean To Bar.
Fruition is crafting superlative, handmade chocolate from bean to bar, fusing confectionery and art.
KS 2 

End Date: July 10, 2011
Campaign URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fruition/fruition-chocolate-works-exceptional-handmade-choc

Why I Backed This Campaign
                At this point I had no idea how Dice age would resolve, but I saw this campaign and realized that it was at a tipping point. It had barely cleared 50% of its goal.

What did I get for my Support?
                I pledged for two very expensive gourmet candy bars, but the campaign did not succeed. I would like to say I got some hard won insight into a failed campaign. In actuality, I realized that some campaigns just don’t succeed. We can sit and analyze why they don’t complete and there are a litany of reasons.

 Final Thoughts
                Sometimes you just have to accept that a campaign does not click with enough people to succeed. It is not a personal indictment, just a fact of life.


This is my first installment looking over and reviewing my activity on Kickstarter. Not much of a review in the end; a project that did not succeed and one that burned the backers. Still I consider this one of my New Year resolutions. I will work to chronicle my time on Kickstarter and review the myriad of projects I have backed no matter the outcome.