Tabletop games are one of the big successes of the crowdfunding age with over 4,000 projects raising more than $200 million – along with video games they account for 20% of all money pledged on Kickstarter – yet it’s a category I’ve never really explored. The Banner Saga Warbands from MegaCon Games (formerly MERCS Miniatures) emerges as an appropriate starting point then as it’s based on the successful Banner Saga video game, itself a successful Kickstarter project.
The Banner Saga was a breakout hit for developer Stoic with over $700,000 pledged on Kickstarter and a very positive reception from both critics and gamers alike when released on PC in January 2014. A sequel is already in the works along with console versions and with Warbands there’s clearly an effort to turn the Banner Saga into a potentially long-running franchise. Like its video game sibling, Warbands follows a party of vikings as they seek to advance across a landscape and survive skirmishes with various fantasy-inspired enemies. The key difference here being that 2-4 players are assigned roles as leaders within the warband and must work together to ensure the group’s survival, while at the same time competing to raise the influence of their own character – an especially intriguing prospect.
Tabletop gaming for adults has long been associated with tabletop wargaming requiring a certain amount of obsession and there’s an element of truth in that – as a teenager I spent far too much time and money on games like Warhammer 40,000 and Necromunda. Yet recent years, largely assisted by crowdfunding, have helped usher in a variety of niche games which are more accessible yet still provide an involving experience. Warbands in particular looks great with both a well designed board and tokens along with detailed figurines, while the campaign itself has been with a degree of professionalism which puts many video game equivalents to shame.
The Banner Saga Warbands has easily exceeded its $50,000 goal with over $130,000 raised so far and still has several days to reach the last few stretch goals, although it does look unlikely to breach the $1 million barrier as 19 other tabletop games have done before it. However it looks pretty nailed on to be launched successfully in August 2016 and while I’m not considering pledging at this stage it’s certainly caused me to at least take a greater interest in the tabletop genre on Kickstarter.