So back in December someone randomly linked me to the Kickstarter campaign for the game Secret Hitler. It had been at least six months since I'd looked at Kickstarter. I try not to look often because I know there's plenty of cool stuff out there, and I'll just end up spending money I shouldn't on stuff I won't see for a year. Still, the game looked pretty neat, and the price was decent. So I backed it. I ended up spending more than I intended because they introduced the snazzy wooden box somewhere during the campaign, but I figured what the hell, I don't do this often. I can splurge a tiny bit.
Fast forward to March, and the Foglios are running their annual Kickstarter to print the new volume of Girl Genius. Well, I always back the Girl Genius kickstarter. It's my favorite webcomic, and I have all the previous volumes. So I can't very well not do it. Once again I ended up spending more than I meant to, but there were medals! I have the two medals from previous campaigns. So I needed these. I'm sure you understand. Still, it's a once a year thing. I can spend a little extra to support some awesome independent artists.
Shortly after that campaign ended, though, Jim Butcher announced that a Dresden Files cooperative card game would start Kickstarting before the end of April (that started yesterday, btw), and if you guys have been paying any attention at all, you know that I didn't need more information than that. "A Dresden Files game, you say? How would you like me to pay for that? Cash? Check? Blood? You just say the word." It was a foregone conclusion. Within a week of that announcement, however, Brandon Sanderson announced that a boardgame based on his work, the game is called Mistborn: House War, would be hitting Kickstarter around the beginning of May. At this point I started to get a little worried. I love Mistborn almost as much as the Dresden Files, and reading the details of the game, it sounds really fun and well designed. I am intrigued and will not be able to resist. Might be a little tough on the wallet before all is said and done, but I'm sure I can make it work.
That brings us to this morning, when Patrick Rothfuss, that slowly-writing magnificent maniacal sadist, announced a Kickstarter for the game Tak from his book The Wise Man's Fear. I thought, no, this is too much. Tak? I don't need that. Then I read his post about the history of this real world version of the game:
"James told me he wanted to make Tak. He wanted to invent it. He wanted to build the whole thing from the ground up based on my descriptions from the book, and the unwritten stuff he knew I had hidden in my head.
Again, I said no.
“Why not?” he asked.
“Tak is supposed to be my world’s version of Chess or Go or Mancala,” I said. “I can’t ask you to make a game like that. It’s like saying, ‘you know those games that have stood the test of time for hundreds or thousands of years? The best games ever? Do that, but in my world.’ So first off, it’s unreasonable for me to ask. Secondly, you can’t do it. No one can. And thirdly, if you did somehow manage to pull if off, nobody would give a shit. We’re living in the golden age of board games right now. Nobody cares about strategy games like chess anymore.”
(If you haven’t already noticed, I can be a curmudgeonly fucker at times.)
“Just let me try,” James said. “Let me take a run at it. If you hate what I come up with, we’ll never speak of it again.”
So I told him, fine. Fine! Do it. Whatever. Jeez.
So he asked me a bunch of questions. Then he went off and made a game. Then he brought it to me….
Now you should know that I’m telling you this story so that you know where I was coming from on the subject of Tak. Simply said, I wasn’t eager to pursue it. I was the opposite of eager.
And it wasn’t because I don’t like James Ernest. James Ernest is fucking brilliant. I’ve been playing his games for twenty years. I loved Pairs and was delighted to incorporate it into my world, but I knew that Tak was a purely mythical game. And while James was great, I knew that nobody could just sit down and create a game on par with chess or Go. I was going to politely look at whatever he brought me, smile kindly, and try to let him down as gently as possible.
Then James brought me his game. And I played it.
And it was amazing.
I was stunned by the game. Stunned that anyone could make something like this. It’s more elegant than chess. It’s more enjoyable than Go.
I learned to play it in about five minutes and had a blast. More than a year later, the game is still unfurling for me like a flower, as I understand more and more about the play of it."
The guy is its too good a writer. He sold me on it, and I kind of hate him for it. Anyway, I've pledged for a copy of Tak. I'm excited about these games, and at the same time I've got this sinking feeling that Kickstarter is out to get me, and it's working. Damn these awesome games and my desire to possess them!