About the Kickstarter Backer Series:
I don’t know about you, but I am always curious about why people back or don’t back a Kickstarter project. To me, Kickstarter’s are kindof unique because of the (generally) limited reviews or information regarding a game outside of the Kickstarter page. Perhaps they are from a small indie designer or even a new game from an established publishing house with only paid reviews. As a Kickstarter addict, I want to develop this is a series where I talk about Kickstarters I am backing, or have been interested in and have backed, or for one reason or another, decided not to back. I want to follow up with an update when the Kickstarter is finally fulfilled, to see if it meets my expectations as a backer and if I didn’t back, do I have any regrets? Tell me about your Kickstarters process on Facebook or Tweet me! I love hearing from you guys.
But without further ado - let’s get into this!
About the Game: Solomon Kane
Solomon Kane: Kickstarter Details
Solomon Kane is a heavily thematic game, based on the stories by Robert E. Howard who also created of Conan. It is a cooperative board game for 1-5 players which plays over 60-120 minutes. Players control a Virtue such as Courage, Prudence, Temperance, and Justice, which each have their own unique special power. Using their virtue power, player's guide Solomon Kane in story driven campaigns, utilising miniatures and resource management mechanics.
Howard’s stories are told as one or more Acts which depending on length could cover a full game session or take multiple session to complete. Acts are broken down into chapters which have a number of different outcomes depending on how players choose to act. This will be influenced by story choices, or through actions players throughout the quest.
Whilst Solomon Kane and the players try to complete their quest, Darkness acts as their adversary. The Darkness is an AI deck which determines the action of enemy minis, and works against the players to ensure an evil resolution of the story.
Solomon Kane: Sample Act
What I liked about it
There were a lot of aspects of this game which appealed to me, namely:
This game is drenched in theme! I imagine it has enticed everyone who played it and that it would be an incredibly immersive games where all players live the story.
I found the idea of each player being responsible for controlling a single virtue of Solomon Kane, quite interesting, as planning would be be crucial for a successful cooperative play.
The dice management mechanic where each player rolls ‘Fate’ dice to see what resources they will have available to pay for actions and the ability to donate these to other players or save for later turns is a really interesting addition to the co-op game. In essence there should be no down-time between turns as players would need to be discussing tactics and working together throughout the game.
The story telling mechanic has the potential to be great, particularly since it is already based on a story series. The use of Chapter cards, and the way they can make a single story branch keeps the game flexible. I also like how the discovery cards inject variation and storytelling into the game.
The strategy involved in the game seems extensive. Since there are critical decisions to take all the time, knowing when to be be bold to avoid darkness cards draw with lower chance to realize the actions, increasing odd by having the critical action played last with risk of darkness card/event one blowing the strategy will make for an epic game no doubt!
Solomon Kane: Board Set Up
What I didn’t like about it
- There may be a ton of different scenarios, but from what I can see from Kickstarter page, the Virtues abilities do not change, so the mechanics will remain the same for each story. Compare this to Gloomhaven, where characters develop and abilities change, I would have loved to have seen a similar development for Virtue abilities. However, this is not a leveling-up game, it’s more of a "what happens next? (and how do we deal with it)" kinda game.
- It is probably worth noting at this point that most of the interest in this game comes from the underlying story and interaction. The mechanics of Solomon Kane I’m sure can carry almost any story, but are those stories well crafted? We don't know yet but this is where ultimately where the value lies.
- Miniatures just aren’t my thing. I believe there will be upwards of 100 unique sculpts in Solomon Kane. Each figure will have a uniquely sculpted base. They look really beautiful, particularly the Virtues. They are all very impressive - But when it comes down to it, if I’m playing a game, after the initial ‘oooh pretty mini’ I don’t find myself any more immersed or engaged in a game whether it's a cardboard token or a plastic miniature. The theme/story and mechanics are much more important to me. A personal gripe of mine is also that it seems more and more game companies look at a box full of miniatures as a prerequisite to commercial success.
- To go all in with this Kickstarter cost around $350US is just too expensive for the little time I would get it to the table. Even for the limited $190 pledge, it seems excessive. I don’t believe the mini’s are adding too much in terms of cost, I am sure once the mold is made, it would cost pennies for Mythic to create them, but they will undoubtedly add to the shipping cost, which when the Kickstarter finished - was still undetermined. For me, any game is about Value (Fun divided by cost), and the excessive cost plus limited playtime - means poor value.
Solomon Kane: Virtue Minis
Ultimately Solomon Kane is a great looking game. Mythic Games have a great reputation with regard to kickstarter reliability, and I would have no difficulty backing another more suitable game of theirs in the future. They have produced great games such as Mythic Battles and Pantheon. But for me, Solomon Kane is just too much! Not just too much money - but too much plastic, and too much content. Knowing that I can get a game to the table is an important criteria in my Kickstarting decisions. My group would never get through 1 adventure, and if there are chapters, and episodes - but an episode can take an entire evening. Even as a solo game, I am intimidated by the sheer number of components that I just know that there are other games that I would always choose ahead of it, such as Eldritch Horror or Mage Knight as a solo game.
What I would liked is a cheaper version of the game, where you could mix and match options. Yes, I realise that it would give me less content, but it would be much more specific content which I would want and for an overall less game cost and most likely a lower shipping cost. If this were an option, I would go for the core game, the 5th virtue, the shadows, and single player option as well as a couple of the scenarios. The Kickstarter pledges as they stood, I could not justify the £110 ($190 US) plus unknown shipping for more game than I could ever play or store.
Solomon Kane: Cancelled Pledge
Any Post Campaign Regret?
Sometimes once a Kickstarter campaign has ended it can bring home feelings of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)! But, honestly I believe, given my concerns above and the hefty price tag, Solomon Kane is not for me.