So, it’s Thanksgiving, which to us in America holds a great significance. I speak, of course, of the annual throwing off all commercial inhibitions in a frenzy of retail shopping. Still known as “Black Friday,” this event has now officially moved to starting on Thanksgiving itself (or earlier). This is due in no small part to the rise of online shopping, including at game companies such as AEG and Fantasy Flight. But if you’re willing to delay gratification a bit, you can still “invest” in your retail future with good old Kickstarter: Dreaming Spires: This one closes out before the weekend does, so if you’re interested in unique themes, you’ll want to check out Dreaming Spires pronto. Themed around Oxford University, Dreaming Spires puts each player at the helm of their own English university – construct buildings to attract scholars such as Tolkien, Carrol and Shelley, and then use those scholars to enhance the reputation of your college in general and of particular academic departments. Money keeps your university moving, but in the end its the most prestigious institution that will win the day. Built around action selection with some tile-laying from the buildings, Dreaming Spires is $49 on Kickstarter for just the game, and has already unlocked most of its stretch goals. Corporia: An genre-mixing urban fantasy RPG, Corporia takes the knights of Camelot and replaces suits of armor with power suits. Reminiscent of Shadowrun, Corporia features oppressive mega-corporations, a return of magic, and high-tech hacking. And designer Mark Plemmons will surely be thankful for your pledge, because with five days left to go Corporia is still working to hit its funding goal. I know there’s a lot of excitement in jumping on a project that’s definitely going to happen and grabbing all of those stretch goals, but don’t forget that the primary purpose of Kickstarter is to help things get made that otherwise might not. You can pledge $25 for a digital version of the book, or $50 if you want a limited edition hardcover too.
Machina Arcana: Another genre-mixer, this coop for 1-4 players sends a party of steampunk explorers up against a variety of Cthulhu-inspired monsters as they attempt to achieve a variety of scenarios that combine to form chapters in the characters’ story. There are something like 24 chapters, with 10 scenarios each, plus even more variety from events and different map tiles and difficulty/duration customization, so this one looks to have a pretty vast amount of replayability even as a solo (there is no “GM” player). Machina Arcana has already tripled its funding goal and is well into the stretch unlocks of more events, more tiles, more dice, better dice, better tiles, and so forth. It clocks in at $50 for the base game (which gets limited stretch goal unlocks) or $75 for an KS exclusive box with all of the stretch goals. Elevenses: The Card Game of Morning Tea, this is one of a growing number of less expensive, small-box card games that just deliver a good experience without trying to add enough stuff to justify some $50 price tag (thank you, Love Letter). Just 44 cards (and some sugar cubes), Elevenses gives each player an identical 11-card deck, which will be split between the player’s “table” and “kitchen” (hand). Every card has an ability, with less valuable cards having better abilities, and players will need to apply their deduction skills to maneuver themselves into serving the very best morning tea. And, really, who doesn’t want to be a 1920’s socialite?