There have been some amazing crowdfunding games along with some not-very-good ones. There are very few games that are perfect and even the best might have one small thing that held them back in some small way. In some cases, it could be the difference between good and great. And in some, maybe it’s the thing holding a great game back from the chef’s kiss of perfection. Today’s top 10 will focus on one facet that made these games just miss that mark.
These are, just like, my opinions, man. And I focused on games I had backed so feel free to let me know what game or games just missed the mark for you. These are ranked from least impactful to most impactful in terms of overall game enjoyment. I also stayed away from games that completely fell flat for me.
Top 10 Crowdfunding Games That Just Missed the Mark
10. Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood
What? One of the hottest boss battlers in recent memory is on a missed-the-mark list? Heresy! The game is absolutely fantastic but the miss, in my opinion, was the larger-sized minis for interchangeable weapons. Awesome idea but if everything was made to a 32mm scale it would’ve been significantly smaller overall and less fiddly (my figures kept falling apart so I had to glue a few of them). And being larger also makes figures less reusable in RPGs which is often a secondary draw for some backers.
9. Chronicles of Drunagor: Age of Darkness
This is one of my favorite dungeon crawlers. The action selection system is a ton of fun and the door system is really cool. Where’s the miss? The narrative is often generic and not very good a lot of the time. A few years ago, it would’ve been shrugged off as “it’s a board game” but with games like Oathsworn, Middara, Jerry Hawthorne’s games from Plaid Hat and more bringing excellent storytelling to games it’s harder to accept mediocre writing.
8. Middara: Unintentional Malum Act 1
I love me some narrative adventure games. Middara is a unique world where everyone is attractive and the world comes alive through the narrative that follows your preset party of post-graduation protagonists. The leveling up system is very cool where you can customize each character however you want although that could end up making them deviate from their personality in their narrative. But where Middara falls short is actually being too long. There’s too much narrative between adventures. I’m playing it solo so it’s manageable but I’d hate to be reading five to 10 pages of text out loud just to get to the battle. It advances the story but it’s a game, not a book.
7. Solomon Kane
Another excellent game that gets a lot right about Robert E. Howard’s titular puritan. Where it came up short for me was combat. It was very thematic but it was slow. After making an attack action you’d draw a card to get your modifier, check the result against the enemy card and then go through the multiple effects cards it points you towards to find out you did one or two wounds of damage and then flip the enemy card over. It just lacked the energy of the source material, despite the thematic text being very Howardian.
6. Folklore the Affliction
The world of Folklore is gothic horror with compelling stories in a haunted land of vampires, zombies, and werewolves. I love this RPG-like game and its world, but the thing that’s holding it back is its combat system and overall balance. The d100 isn’t a bad system but it’s just the 12+ different statuses and eight gear locations you must keep track of that make it very fiddly. Getting a new item that adds +2 to your to hit rolls doesn’t feel impactful but over five items, it’s noticeable. The game was balanced for four players but wasn’t scaled well for lower or higher player counts becoming either too hard or too easy. And the player’s power creep through the stories went up faster than the enemies making the end game less dramatic/memorable.
5. Batman Gotham City Chronicles
Conan’s system where you spent crystals to perform actions but those also represented your health was such a fun system. I was excited when Monolith took that system to a game about Batman and his friends against his rogue’s gallery of adversaries. Where did it fall short? They took a simple and elegant game system, if not a little loose at times, and wrapped enough rules around it making it watertight yet harder to teach and play. There were too many different skills that were slight variants of each other. The new rule book, by Paul Grogan, is better written but it’s still an overly dense game system and that’s a shame and a miss in my book.
4. Thunder Rolls
A NASCAR themed game where there are always eight cars on the track does a great job of simulating the chaos of racing. Where the game missed the mark for me is the AI management at lower player counts. The time spent dealing with five or six AI cars was more than the two or three players spent on their turns as each card had one or more actions (and you had to think about their preferences). We home ruled it down to four AI cars (which helps). On BGG the designer has mentioned an expansion that will update the AI to a single tarot card.
3. 7th Continent
Such an ambitious and overall well-received game. Open world exploring on a huge map of cards with a simple system for resolving actions and tons of content in the core box plus additional curses also being available. Where 7th Continent fell short for me was it was too open. The open world idea is awesome but that game made me realize that I like a little direction to keep the game on track.
2. Skull Tales: Full Sail
This is basically a Pirates of the Caribbean themed dungeon crawl game full of magic, monsters, and fantastical adventures. It was, fittingly, cursed with a bad rulebook and a full phase of the game that was all but unplayable. The Voyage phase, where you traveled around battling sea monsters and attacking other ships, was broken with the rulebook never quite explaining how to play it. Recently the designer published new rule books which hopefully correct many of the game’s ambiguities. This Dice Chucker will never be a top 10 of all time game but the theme makes it stand out in a fantasy dominated market.
1-5 Players • Ages 12+ • 60-120 minutes
1. Wild Serengeti
The production of this game was amazing with a fantastic table presence. The core mechanics of using actions to add or move animals around to match objective cards was excellent, if not a little more savage than I was expecting. But the scoring felt broken. You could gain points for having multiple objective cards with the same symbol (fruits and flowers) but social media likes were insanely more powerful than everything else with the reward for the round 5 and 7 animal of the week being a distant second place making the game a battle over the same few cards as much as a strategic game being played out on the board. And the scoring being imbalanced made the solo/cooperative seem impossible.