Sunday, February 8, 2015

Kickstarter: The Great War

I may be the last chap on the Internet to hear about this, but be that as it may in case there is another poor soul out there that hasn't heard the good word, I thought a brief blog entry was in order.

Behold the next ruinous assault on my pocket book!

The Great War by Richard Borg is the latest installment in the Commands & Colours series of games. Produced by those fine fellows at the Plastic Soldier Company it is a board game in a box allowing players to play out the bloody battles of the Great War using the tried and tested Commands & Colours system. The game itself is being launched on Kickstarter and you can find it and an explanatory video here.  There are twenty nine days left to back this project, so there is no rush.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it is a organisation that allows companies to gather finance for projects from large groups of small investors. This can vary from project to project, but folk have used it to finance films, expeditions, exhibitions, art projects and games. In the context of Great War, what you're doing is pledging money (about £50) for a copy of the game which will be delivered when the game is made. 

Observations on what we know so far.

- The game will use a standard Command & Colours setup, that is a board with hex tiles on it and 1/100 scale plastic figures. Combat will be resolved using the standard bespoke dice.

- One rather clever aspect of the design that isn't mentioned explicitly  in the KS is that the card markers appear to be double sided.  The wire markers have shell holes on the reverse which would appear to indicate that the terrain setup can be altered by bombardments. Very clever if true.

- There will be a hundred odd 1/100 (15mm in new money) scale figures in the box and the initial release will cover the British (hurrah!) and the Germans (boo!).  The French, plucky Belgians, Russians and other expansions are in the works. Americans will be presumably two or three years off.

- Looking at the game play video, the board is a little different from previous Borg games, measuring as it does thirteen hexes by eleven (damn you Borg!).

- Lastly and I think this is an example of Kickstarter maturing as a platform - there is no doubt about it this game is getting made. The game is already written and playtested.  If I've learned anything from speaking to Richard Borg it is that he playtests his games rigorously and over a long period of time. The gameplay will be solid. Secondly, the figures are already in tooling and the boxes are being produced.

This is a type of project is being produced by a company with a proven track record that is so far as I can tell using Kickstarter as a means of marketing their product and limiting their financial exposure, which is fair enough.  KS is a great means of harnessing the enthusiasm of your audience because prospective investors are motivated to push your product to others because of the mechanism of stretch goals. 

Every KS project has a minimum funding target.  If that target is reached, at the end of the campaign, Kickstarter will give the project organiser that pot of cash (less KS fees) and the product will get made.  On occasion, a project will be wildly successful and will garner more investment than it's initial target. As the organisers most likely want more money, they create stretch goals - boundaries at which they will add extra stuff to the project. For example, The Great War is looking to raise £25,000 and will add two additional scenarios if they raise £35,000.  These extras will be added to everyone's pledge if the campaign raises the requisite amount of money. 

The stretch goals for The Great War are as follows. 

£25k base target
£35k 2 extra scenarios exclusive to Kickstarter set
£55k metal command figure sets exclusive to Kickstarter set
£75k replica Princess Mary 1914 Christmas tin, for storing cards and dice
£100k plastic Mk IV tank
£125k plastic A7 tank
Looking at these, they seem quite conservative to me - which is good. Previous Kickstarters have landed themselves in hot water by promising more than they could deliver and have either lost money, some so much so that they collapsed, or were subject to serious delays.  Even if all these stretch goals are achieved, I don't see there being any major issues with the putative delivery date of June/July. 
Now obviously, I'm generally on board for any Richard Borg produced game - but in this case in particular, this looks like a solid game, produced by a professional operation that is capable of delivering on its promises. I'm curious as to what the next few weeks will bring. 


  1. First I hear of it too...and heard it from your blog. That makes me "that guy" who is even later. ;)

  2. I had not heard of this before reading it here CK so thank you. The components look very good, true C&C style, especially the terrain tiles. The quality of the playing pieces is great, I love the faces on that machine gun crew! I shall also be keeping an eye on development.

  3. Replies
    1. Uh oh indeed. There are already rumblings about an Early War expansion that could be right up your alley.

  4. This is Very Splendid! Backed it on day one. Command and Colours is not my favorite system of rules but its easy to get non-gamers to play and the figures look great.

  5. It's very intriguing. I'm unconvinced that trench warfare makes for a balanced game except possibly at the 1 to 1 trench raider scale. I shall await reviews on this one once it comes out.