GARPA 34 – GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory

frontier wars 728x90 KS

Authors: Brant Guillory & Jim Zabek

As Santa’s elves are banging out the last of their projects to be delivered next week there have been a number of game developers who’ve been making similar plans but with the help of crowd-sourced funding. Those of us in the US have even enjoyed a reprieve in the weather, with temperatures around LongBladia managing to briefly climb above freezing. The levels of snow we’ve received could be characterized as harassing fire – enough to cover the lawn and roads but not enough to make the kids happy with a day of school closure. Not to fear, temps are expected to come crashing down soon, but you know what that means: spring can’t be far behind.

Tabletop Games

Castles – A Strategic Card Game by AAIIEEE! GAMES

$7,339 pledged of $2,500 goal ending January 2nd

GARPA-34-Castles-Card-GameIf Castles looks familiar to you, it did to me, too, and for good reason.

Way back in November AAIIEEE GAMES (their capitalization, not mine. Really.) launched Castles as a “Strategic Card Game For Two Players” and set their funding goal at $6000. It failed to come anywhere near that goal, gaining a modest 2,787. Undeterred, the developers have reworked their math and decided that they could make do with backers supplying a more modest goal of $2500 and removing the word “strategic” from their game’s name.

They must be evil geniuses because this time the public got solidly behind them, easily meeting the $2500 goal and – surprisingly – have more than four times the number of original backers have coughed up $7300 worth of support, an amount that would have surely satisfied their first attempt at funding.

Crowd-sourced games can be strange in that way. In any case, if you’re looking for strategic card game for two players, with mild elements of fantasy and some attractive artwork, Castles may be the game for you.


MegaMat Gaming Mat by Frontline Gaming and TABLEWAR

$73,374 pledged of $15,000 goal ending December 22nd

GARPA-34-Megamat-ImageMiniatures gamers are constantly on the prowl for a better mousetrap. Anything which gives their gaming experience an edge is carefully considered for addition to what is likely to already be a well-stocked inventory of gaming accessories. The limits of discretionary income are often the greatest impediment to buying wholesale swathes of accessories for our tables and it is well that we should have limits lest we have no room to store our accumulated treasures.

So it is that I am well aware how tempting it will be to many readers when I place these gaming mats here for your consideration. The creators of the MegaMat have already reached a successful level of funding. Their offering is simple: 4’ x 4’ or 4’ x 6’ gaming mats that provide a color base on which to game. So far it appears as though three backgrounds are available: grassy plains and blast zone were the first two mats promised if the minimum fundraising goal was met, with additional plans for more mats to be unlocked as fundraising levels were achieved. Planned stretch goal maps will include urban combat, alpine, and barren wasteland.

The mats have been created by professional game artists and the printed resolution is promised to be at 300 dpi (current test images are said to have been at 150, which already looks quite good).

The material the maps are printed on is similar to that of a mousepad, which provides a flexible material for ease of storage that is also crease resistant, and has a rubber back to help secure it to whatever surface it is placed upon. The mats are also coated with a water-resistant material to help resist stains and keep it clean. If any of these mats needs to be on your gaming table you’d better hurry as the fundraising window is closing rapidly.

Metal Beards – Tabletop Dwarf Army by Titan-Forge

£14,309 pledged of £2,000 goal ending January 19th

GARPA-34-Metal-Beards-ImageI’ve got to be honest here – I’m not quite sure what I’ve stumbled across with Metal Beards. I think I see the obvious: it’s a steampunk dwarven miniature army. What I’m not quite so clear on is if there’s a game system for it. I hit the Titan-Forge website and looked around. What I found was impressive. They’ve clearly created minis before and are fine sculptors. What I’m not so clear on is what the rules might be for these minis. Perhaps you just buy them and create your own? I’m not sure.

What I am sure is that Metal Beards are not terribly expensive and they look great. Beyond that, unfortunately, I’ve got some time constraints that keep me from probing too deeply. If you’re a reader and do happen to know more about the system, please feel free to share that knowledge in or forums.

And if you’re interested in the minis, check out the Kickstarter page for more info:




Electronic Games

Long Night by Trickster Face

Canadian $4,077 pledged of $10,000 goal ending January 15th

GARPA-34-Long-NightLong Night is a new third person survival horror game for the PC, Linux and Mac. Plans are to release it in both English and French in May 2014. It appears to be modeled in the mold of campy horror movies from the 1980’s and will include puzzle solving, a fear system, and side quests, amongst other things. Clearly a dark horror-themed game. The goal of the developers is to create a game that goes beyond simply shooting monsters and instead evokes a true sense of horror.

There is a demo which can be downloaded for the curious (or the daring?) and the developers encourage gamers to check it out:

For more information be sure to check out the Kickstarter page, too:


Stalin vs. Martians 3 by Scott Cromie

$1,953 pledged of $125,000 goal ending January 10th

GARPA-34-Stalin-vs-Martians-3-ImageStalin vs. Martians struck me as vaguely familiar. The 3 at the end of the title told me what I needed to know: I’ve seen this before as a game somewhere. Honestly I can’t remember anything about the game other than it was a kind of over-the-top theme that looks like it could be fun. But I never played it. Now apparently a second sequel is in the works. The first sentence on the game’s Kickstarter page isn’t exactly inspiring: “Okay, Stalin vs. Martians wasn’t really a game. It was an art installation. It was playable sometimes, but it wasn’t all about gaming.”

Huh. That tells me why I never played the game. Now the developer is attempting to actually make the game both playable and fun. He’s asking for a cool 125,000 bucks to do so and, frankly, I hope he gets it, because the concept is one of those that looks like it has potential for a good time. As an additional bonus every backer will get a free copy of the first game. I don’t know if that’s to reward or discourage pledges but there you have it. Anyway, if you’re interested in getting behind this, check out the Kickstarter page for more information.


Darkraven Science Fiction Soundscapes by Ruby Nile Games

$5,838 pledged of $4,000 goal ending January 20th

GARPA-34-Darkraven-Gaming-MusicGamers are known as a geeky lot on the whole, but playing music while you’re gaming is sometimes seen as being a bit too geeky, even for us geeks. However, I’ve gone there and I’ll be honest: it’s actually pretty cool. I’ve hosted a number of D&D games with some great fantasy sound tracks (if you want recommendations ping me in the forums – I’m LongBlade) and what inevitably happens is that gamers ignore the sound track pretty quickly – until a dramatic moment arises in the game. The party gets quiet, and suddenly we remember the music. It’s a capstone to a gaming experience that, if you haven’t tried it, I would highly recommend doing it. I suspect you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ruby Nile Games has now crafted over nine hours of musical score to be played with sci-fi and cyberpunk games. I haven’t heard all nine hours, but I can attest that for a long RPG session, nine hours is not a bad recommendation. It’s great not to hear the same music repeated three times over an all-day gaming session and nine hours would fit that bill perfectly. For folks who want a bit more variety a second pledge level will unlock 11 ½ hours of sounds and music. Samples are provided on the Kickstarter page, and I’ll just say flat out that I’d recommend you try adding something like this to your gaming sessions. I don’t think you can go wrong.

Lastly it’s worth noting that although they’ve managed to successfully meet their fundraising goal of $5000, you can’t say they don’t dream big. If, by some miracle, they receive $220 million in pledges, they’ve promised to create an epic film. They admit they have no experience in filmmaking, but they contend, and I agree, that $220 million should be sufficient to get them in the game.

And with that I bid you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, or whatever you celebrate. We’ll be back in two weeks with more gaming goodness.

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