Most often while playing games, its not the game itself that creates a special occasion or memory for the player it is the people you play the games with and because of that playing the right game with the right people can feel that much more immersive. Kickstarter gives people the opportunity to select a game and join in on the community that follows it, to share in the fun, anticipation, and arrival of something special. When you have great leadership and passionate people behind the helm of the campaign this is where good games become epic journeys.
Writing for Boss Rush Games is a wonderful gift because I get to meet and come across many different passionate and gifted individuals who are dedicated to there dreams and goals. I recently had the opportunity to meet one of these individuals, who is currently running a Kickstarter campaign called Encounters: Shattered Wastes. This pixel art cooperative board game hinges on the edge of staying true to oneself or risking it all to become shattered to stop the evil as you are consumed by darkness.
Ryan Farmer, creator of the game and Almanac Games, kindly met with me to discuss his passion project, Encounters: Shattered Wastes. Talking to Ryan I learned how the game operates, what the term shattered entails, and witnessing the polish that was put into the game art and in the cards. The game is a 1 to 4 player cooperative and team focused JRPG with plenty of replay ability. Most play throughs will take 60-90 minutes depending on how you enjoy playing. So, let us look at what is included in this game and how it works.
Encounters: Shattered Wastes Includes:
- 16 Character Standees: 8 Heroic and Shattered
- 16 Enemy Standees: 8 Healthy and Injured
- 120 Ability Cards
- 100 Enemy Strength Cards
- 80 Enemy Rage Cards
- 4 Player Stat Trackers With 9 Tokens
- 8 Character Cards
- 8 Enemy Cards
- 12 Wooden Cubes
- 3 Dice
- Everything in Standard Edition
- Kickstarter Exclusive Box
- Foil Character Cards
- Acrylic Character Standees
- Acrylic Enemy Standees
- Neoprene Play Mat
- Shattered Dice
The player or players will decide how many characters they want to utilize in battle. They can decide from eight different heroic characters as well as from eight different bosses to take on, these include:
After careful consideration of your in-game choices, you proceed to enter the wastes. Tasked with putting a stop to the spread of magic that is corrupting anything and anyone that lingers for too long. From here players will take on the horrors within.
What is a fun and unique aspect of Encounters: Shattered Wastes is that you can play by yourself or with others but control multiple heroes. Ryan mentioned that he liked playing with 2 players with 2 heroes a piece. On each hero card there are symbols that indicate how many of each ability card must be drawn. The abilities fall under martial, sorcery, support, or shattered and a combination of 8 total will be drawn, but only 3 can be selected. Each one of these cards can help your hero in battle. Also each hero card themselves will have unique abilities available such as extra rolls or extra moves. Also, on the card it will indicate the stats of your chosen hero. You can represent these stats on a stat checker. Green cubes represent HP, blue MP, and red threat. Lastly on the front side of the card as a crit number which if rolled in battle is an instant critical strike to your opponent.
After your hero is setup, choose the enemy that you will attempt to abolish. You will shuffle and place rage cards behind the enemy on the board. On the enemy card you will find additional information such as its name, difficulty level, refresh value, area limit, and stamina deck construction. Use this information to select strength cards to determine whether attacks are physical or magical. Other cards that are prepared at this time are the affliction cards that cause various handicaps to the hero. The other cards are item cards that can be used to aid the hero.
Also note that both the hero and enemy cards can flip over to a different version of its host. Heroes will shatter which can be activated by a full threat bar. When this occurs, they become more powerful but risk death from altered conditions with every roll. Enemies also alter forms when the bleed out they become much more volatile towards the hero.
Sequence of Game Play:
Phase 1: Refresh – Strength cards are applied to an area selected by a player’s dice rolls.
The enemy will bolster defenses during this turn. Players will then shake dice based on enemy’s refresh. Place cards from stamina and set them in correct area with 6 being no placement. If no cards remain in stamina flip status token to staggered. Players will then draw from the fatigue while refreshing. If no cards remain move on to action phase.
Phase 2: Action – The player or players will preform 2 actions. These actions include.
Move – move to adjacent spaces up to 3 times.
Basic Attack – Hit with attack value on successful roll.
Recover – Reduce threat, gain MP, or remove 1 affliction card.
Ability – use your characters active ability not already used during your turn.
Shatter – a player may voluntarily shatter if they have not done so already.
The player must also removed a hero from the game if HP is 0 otherwise if hero is still in the game you must flip their token to indicate they have completed the action phase.
Phase 3: Defend – the enemy will utilize cards only if a character is in its area.
If the hero has a higher area limit value the player will reveal the top card of the area. The values revealed will affect all characters in that row. Then cards get placed in fatigue area. If no characters are in that area reveal a rage card. The rage card reveals several meanings in which to afflict damage or discomfort. Direct damage, heightened threat, nagging affliction, or growing corruption can all be used against the hero. Repeat the process for each numbered area. Flip token to guarded side and end the round.
The two ways to shatter are by volunteering or reaching 12 on the threat scale.
- The player flips his/her hero card.
- Flip the tracker board.
- Characters threat is reduced to 0 as well as corruption.
- Afflictions are removed if any.
- HP reflects the shattered hero stats on card.
- Abilities and items will be discarded.
- Player draws shattered abilities according to stats value.
A winner is chosen when either the hero/heroes prevail by reducing the enemies health to zero or the enemy lays waste to all combatants. You do not have to shatter to win the game.
Is this your first Kickstarter campaign?
This is the first Kickstarter I’ve run myself for a board game, but I’ve backed dozens. In college I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for a different non-board game related project, but the scale of what we are looking to accomplish on Encounters is much, much higher.
Where did the company name derive from?
My last name is “Farmer” and I’ve been called that by my friends for as long as I can remember. In a discord chat with friends, we were tossing around different name ideas, and someone suggested “Almanac Games” as it would be like “Farmer’s Almanac” and it was something I immediately attached to. An Almanac is a yearly publication of various data, and it’s fun to think that my “Almanac” for the year is whatever game I plan to release.
What do you like about Kickstarter?
Kickstarter is one of the best ways to engage directly with their audience without the meddlesome “middleman.” Traditional business strategy would be to take out a loan from a bank, manufacture product, then find distribution. With Kickstarter you’re able to gauge the interest of your most passionate audience right from the start. This does require you to build your own audience, which creates an entirely new set of hurdles. For me, being in control of the process is the biggest advantage, and not being beholden to anyone but those buying my product.
How was the game conceptualized?
Encounters: Shattered Wastes actually began as a concept for what I’d want a Critical Role game to look like. Critical Role is one of my favorite twitch shows, and I was hungry for other ways to engage in it. It was never really my intent to design something original until one of my close friends told me to make something that was actually my own. After several horrifically terrible versions of the game that were fully scrapped, I slowly started putting together something that I was proud of. If you’re more interested on the design process, I wrote an article on BoardGameGeek outlining the various roadblocks that I had to navigate.
Who or what drives the motivation behind this project?
I’ve felt for a while now that there was a small hole in the board game market for a more bite-sized fantasy experience with a bit of crunch to it. Munchkin is super fun, but very simple. Dungeons & Dragons and Gloomhaven is crunchy but requires a lot of setup and time commitment. Obviously, there are thousands of games out there to choose from, but I really wanted to make something that was cooperative, replayable, and didn’t require you to schedule weeks in advance. Additionally, I wanted to try and ensure that the representation in my art direction was more progressive that what I was used to seeing in the genre. I knew a rough idea of the theme I was attempting to capture, a bit of Dark Souls mixed with classical 16-bit JRPGs, however I soon found a pretty significant hurdle in my art direction. A big swath of games in this genre are geared/marketed toward a very specific demographic. Kingdom Death Monster for example is propped up pretty heavily by what many might call a “Grimdark Waifu” aesthetic. This is not an admonishment of that art style, or people who enjoy it. However, representation is important, and too long has fantasy created walls that keep people out. More and more women are playing Dungeons & Dragons which is great! We want as many people into this hobby as possible and I knew as a designer I should work hard to make inclusion an essential design goal. That’s why in Encounters there are a variety of genders and skin tones represented. Be the change you want to see in the world, right?
What is the hardest thing about running a Kickstarter campaign?
Shipping and logistics have been by far the most difficult thing to wrap my head around. Getting a game made in China, then having it shipped to backers around the world is a fairly complex thing to do. There are import taxes, regional VAT, pallet fees, container fees, and more. It’s something I had to make sure I accounted for in my budgeting. Also, building an audience and finding the people who would want to back your game can be a tough process. Facebook ads are not usually enough, you have to really know who wants to consume your game then engage in those communities.
Any advice for people who want to set up a Kickstarter?
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to set up a spreadsheet with All of your expenses. Ensure you’re selling the game for at least five times what it costs to manufacture, because if you don’t you WILL end up in the red. This is specific to board game Kickstarters, but if you’re looking to launch a video game the same logic applies. Ensure you build in margins that protect you, even if it means your Kickstarter isn’t successful. The last thing you want to end up with is a situation where potentially hundreds of people are depending on you to deliver, and you fail to do so. That’s soul crushing stuff.
Where can people reach you and/or the team?
Send us an email at email@example.com and we would be happy to answer any questions that you have!
How did you come across Boss Rush Games?
I’m in several active Final Fantasy discords and one of my friends shared an article from the site! As they say, word of mouth is the best form of advertising. I also am a big fan of the podcast.
Bonus question: What are your favorite games that shaped your journey to this point?
There are so many that it’s honestly difficult to choose, but the Kingdom Hearts series was my gateway into all things JRPG and will always hold a very special place in my heart (see what I did there?). Additionally Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger have been huge inspirations for me, not just in aesthetics, but also in storytelling. There is a reason they are widely regarded as some of the greatest in the genre. I also have always loved the Dark Souls series, going all the way back to Demons Souls on PS3. The way they implement environmental storytelling stands apart from how many other games engage players with lore.
I want to thank Ryan for taking the time to show me all the charm and fun that Encounters: Shattered Wastes has to offer. What impacted me most with my time with Ryan is his passion for what he is creating, He told me that he wanted to, “Bridge the gap between board and video games.” This sums up his mission and motivates me to present my passions to others to bring smiles, joy, and fun to all I come across.
If you are interested in what you have read or seen, please check out the Kickstarter that as of this publication still has over a week left until pledges are collected. You can also see the game in Tabletop Simulator on Steam. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out with them, and if you are running a campaign of your own or know someone who is and would like to be interviewed or reviewed, please reach out to me.
Share your reactions below or join the conversation on the Boss Rush Discord.
Shane Kelley is a Senior writer for Boss Rush Network, as well as a writer for Another Zelda Podcast. His favorite game is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You can find him on Twitter to talk video games, Marvel, and axe throwing.
Featured Image: Kickstarter.com
Labeled Media: Almanac Games