I’ve backed five Kickstarters.  I’m curious as to what happens when one fails.

Shadowfist: Year of the Goat

It’s not doing well.  I’m not exactly shocked.  The previous Kickstarter barely crossed the threshold and that was a $25k finishing line.  Every time I mention this Kickstarter, I get asked why it’s $40k.  Well, it is double the size in terms of cards.  But, from a marketing standpoint, a standpoint the game is suffering from a great deal, going low with stretch goals might have gotten people more excited?

Feng Shui 2 was a $8000 Kickstarter that did over $180,000.  An interesting juxtaposition.

From number of backers – 50 or so less than The Coming Darkness – to how it has been tracking at every stage, where the typical pattern as I understand it is that Kickstarters that succeed have their surges early and late, it’s just not been that lively or hardy.

If you browser search goat, those two words – “lively”, “hardy” – appear.  That Shadowfist is even still in publication might make it hardy, but I don’t feel like the Modern refresh has been.

I will beat the dead horse about how you have to market niche CCGs.  Have to be constantly demoing.  Have to have some sort of tournament environment to remind people that other people play.  Have to be visible.  Where’s the buzz?  The advertising?

Can say all that’s difficult when you don’t have resources of time, money, and/or people.  But, that seems to me to just be an explanation of having a poor business model.  We live in a social media age where the dumbest things go viral.

Is Shadowfist a good game?  A great game?  Better than other CCGs?  Who is championing the game to try to convince people they should be playing it?  Is there a YouTube Channel?

Gen Con was an opportunity to promote the game.  But, if you have been to the CCG area at Gen Con, you might have come away feeling the same way I do when I go through that region – it’s antiseptic.  If you don’t have banners up, have no idea what is in a section.  I have to hunt constantly to find the right tables.  Things are cramped.  In other words, establishing your identity in that place is pretty nonexistent.  Okay, a booth is too expensive.  And, no one was running FS2 (bizarrely) for some crosspromotion (actually, why not encourage some people to do that to have crosspromotion?).

Somebody has to do something to promote.  Could I promote the game … other than by blogging about it?  Sure, except I’ve been down the road and got burnt out on such things.  I’m not into demoing.  I’m not into pitching.  I’m certainly not an artsy type who makes banners or whatever.  I’ll run stuff at local cons, though Earl already has that covered.  I just like playing CCGs, at this point.

A lot of the veteran players I talk to have no particular interest in playing.  That’s what happens.  That’s why new players are necessary.  Just like V:TES, just like B5 when it went off the air, just like whatever, where do these new players come from?  Somebody has to do something.

There are some competitively relevant cards in the Year of the Goat.  But, as far as I can tell, I’m the only person in existence who actually thinks Modern is a regardable environment.  I don’t play with people who play Modern unless they are forced to in a tournament.  I don’t hear anything about the Modern environment.  Reddit seems to have the most discussion of the game, which is pathetic.  Rulings seem to come from an email group, which is also pathetic.

I’m not remotely a fan of shadowfist.com, but if you make it less dark, put in meaningful forums that include a reasonable rulings subforum, make everything easier to find, like card galleries, you know, basic stuff that all games should have, then that might concentrate the playerbase enough to see some friskiness.

So, if it doesn’t get there, what happens?  The card ideas still exist.  Though, card ideas are hardly that important to publishing CCGs – it’s the art, the running of the printers, the distribution, the desire of people to buy cards, that makes things go.

On a related note, since I’ve been back from Gen Con, our group has played twice.  We had two five-player team games on 8/6 and a five and a six on 8/13.

I remember the more recent games better.

Joren (Thunder) -> Franco (Dragon/Hand/7M?) -> Don (Purist) -> Justin (Ascended/Lotus Assassin) -> Ian (Hand Chi)

Don got out early, being able to put the first hitter in play – Mutator.  Justin got beat down because of that.  Joren got out Beaumains eventually, but not a lot happened.  Franco got out Nomad Armies and Red Bat and had enough to push through Don, with Joren and I tied for second to where one of us won …

Good thing I played three foundation characters in this game, including the almighty White Crocus Society.  That gave me the tiebreaker to achieve flawless victory!

Yup, mostly a two-player game.  I did play Robbing the Kong … only to have Joren Winter’s Laugh it; my Shaolin Supplicants were ready to rock!

Franco (as above) -> Don (Shadowy Mentor/Shaolin Surprise/Positive Chi) -> Justin (as above) -> Ian (Sea Dragons, Dragon Style) -> Ray (Dark Traveler A/A) -> Joren (as above)

Franco got out a Big Bruiser.  It got Shadowy Mentored in a complicated way.  Don got out Black Helicopter Squads, one of which was Embraced by a Snake, and Golden Candle Societies.  He Shadowy Mentored White Ninja and Gao Liang to keep team good in the game.  Justin played Gao Liang and killed White Ninja.  Ray played Tail of the Lizard, Buro Godhammered a DNA Mage, put out White Ninja and a couple of Dark Travelers.  Joren got out Lord Hawksmoor and some Thunder Knights.

I had in play at one point:  Average Jane, Lance Corporal, Armorer, Butterfly Knight, Snow Seer with a bunch of Ray’s states.  The Snow Seer became a spirit token.  Fire Cadets were played but never used.  Average Jane had Joren’s Thunderstick.

Team good won.  Team good?  We decided to play two teams of three.  That was a bad idea.  When we did six before, where you could only win with your grandprey and your opposite, that I vaguely recall playing better.  Though, six just seems really bad, with people sitting around for far too long, since not everyone is used to V:TES games where my first bleed comes at the 1:30 mark.

Somehow, my guys just didn’t die.  Don’s Shadowy Mentor bouncing around kept team evil from annihilating us long enough for me to somehow end up with four FSSs in play, and a horde of site taking awesome, led by that beatstick Butterfly Knight (who lost his Armorer buff when the Armorer got assassinated).

We definitely need more boardclearers.  Even Final Brawl would have cleaned up a lot of junk in a lot of our games.

On an important additional note, Ray introduced the idea of table cards – Sacred Ground and Mooks are two cards anybody can play.  Why would you play Mooks?  Because they have an additional rule that they can be sacrificed to generate any resource until end of turn.  The obvious idea is to prevent players from being crippled by not having sites or foundations, though there are some things you can do to try to abuse these options, like the Manufactured Island opening (since we also have people choose a non-unique foundation and a FSS for the opening hand).

Variant mechanics may make certain players cringe, but, you know what?  It’s better to have people play the game in some form than constantly be annoyed by features of it.  We are also talking about some constant power generation, though that seems more … distorting.  I mean, really, if you were building decks to all of the variant stuff we do, probably end up with something not at all similar to a tournament deck.

I actually quite like the Sacred Ground/Mooks stuff because it feels like all sorts of options open up to do weird things with a mediocre and an awful card.  It’s like playing a good V:TES storyline rather than the recent storylines.

We are less likely to do two three-player games than a four-player, with the other two people doing something on the side.  That’s how completely different this group is from the veteran Fisters that I’ve talked to who are all over three-player.

I do think that I need to build more decks that actually do something.  As funny as it is to be the guy who gets five sites with a Sea Dragons deck where he never puts out a Sea Dragons, I think I’m missing doing cooler things in some way.

I do find that Modern is limiting and that Classic isn’t limiting enough.  But, whatever, I play Shadowfist because I like playing CCGs, and it’s entertaining.

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