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Dwarven Forge: Cavern’s Kickstarter

By Dave Breen

Looks like our friends at Dwarven Forge have been very busy since their highly successful Kickstarter for Game Tiles.     They just launched another Kickstarter project to create a new line of Cavern style tiles for use with your favorite RPG.  The tiles are designed for use with 25mm miniatures.

people of the pitI was recently running a Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure called The People of the Pit, and discovered that the original Game Tiles style didn’t have the right design to for the module.  The rough edges of the caverns just didn’t convey the right image when using standard dungeon style Game Tiles.

I’m very excited at the possibilities that the cavern setting will provide.   Given how effectively the team at Dwarven Forge delivered on their last project,  I’m lending my support to this project also.   See our review of Game Tiles for more information on how we rated Dwarven Forge’s original Game Tiles product.

My only challenge is figuring out how many sets to buy, and how many ‘add-on’ packs I’ll end up wanting.




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The cost of ceramic chips

Having spent a month or so fielding questions from backers and potential backers, I now realize that I should have done a better job explaining the costs around creating a set of poker chips.

A number of folks looked at the price of the sets and exclaimed, “Wow, those are some expensive chips!”

The first things to discuss is that there are a variety of different types of chips on the market.  The cost of a set of chips is mostly dependent on what type of material the chips are made from.  The folks over at put together a nice summary page that  compares the various types of chips including advantages and disadvantages.

One big question that a bunch of folks have asked after looking at the GameChips Kickstarter Project is how does the pricing compare to other custom ceramic chips on the market.

Here is a quick example of the cost of creating your own custom set versus the ones on Kickstarter.

Let’s use the 300 chip set as an example:

Here’s the rates used by which are fairly typical from quality custom chip providers.


Using these rates, your cost to manufacturer the chips is $246.

You will also need to provide your artwork to the manufacturer.  Unless you are a graphic artist, you will need to hire a graphic designer.  The cost to hire a designer would likely be between $100-$300 as a guideline.  For the purposes of this example, $150 for a simple design.

So the cost to create your own set of custom chips is somewhere in the range of $400 ($246+$150 =  $396 + shipping)

The 300 chip set I’m offering is available for pre-ordering and costs $275 (including free shipping to the US).  Included in the set are 3 special chips + any of the bonus items that become available by reaching stretch goals.

I hope this helps provide a point of comparison for those who haven’t had the chance do some analysis of their own.

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Kickstarter: a blessing or a curse?

Full disclosure: I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to create a board game related accessory (hopefully that’s not news).

Almost every blog and podcast now features a discussion about Kickstarter and its potential impact on the board gaming hobby.  Why should this blog be different?  Here are a few of the themes that almost always surface:

1.  The quality of the games that will be created by first-time creators will lower quality compared to those from established publishers.

2. Eventually, the creditability of of Kickstarter-funded game development will be harmed by a project that either fails to deliver what was described, or delivers nothing at all.

3. The Kickstarter ‘craze’ will begin to wane as a result of the above two themes.

So, are these 3 theories accurate?  In 5 years, what impact will Kickstarter have had on the hobby?  No one knows the real answer, but here is my opinion.

I’ve been in the board gaming hobby for at least 10 years, and in that time, the number of games being brought to market each year continues to rise.  This growth trend was in motion before the Kickstarter mania.  Now with Kickstarter, even more games are created and marketed each year.   Another equally gamer-friendly trend is the rise of IOS gaming, which logically should have taken market share away from the board gaming hobby as consumers could simply pay the small fee for the IOS version and not need to invest in the physical copy of the game.  According to many game publishers, the IOS versions actually end up causing more sales of physical copies.  So, simply put, more games are hitting the market than ever before in the hobby games market.

In many ways, the growth in board gaming seems similar to the rise in PC\console games.  In both PC\console gaming, the number of games published each year seems to rise.  If you look at the Wii platform, which appears to have fairly loose publishing requirements, there are tons of games published each year.  If you were to chart these games, they probably would fall into a bell curve with some incredible games..and some terrible games. If you just look at higher number of games being published, logic would dictate that game buyers should be treated to some great games.

The net effect of the increasing number of games on the market will likely be that gamers will become more selective in their purchases.  In recent years, an avid gamer could take chances on games that were not proven and\or not from established publishers.  I foresee that serious gamers will become more cautious in their decision making to determine if  to add a game to their collection or not.  To attract these more selective gamers, more elaborate Kickstarter campaigns will become required to rise over the sea of average offerings.   I would predict some very large-scale campaigns from established publishers will soon begin to appear.  The marketing appeal of Kickstarter is simply too large for even established companies to overlook.  Expect highly polished videos and some really unique reward offerings.

I imagine that some established publishers might be concerned that the Kickstarter phenomena may start to shrink their slice of the gamer’s budget.  I would expect that they will react with one of their best weapons that will be hard for independent publishers to compete with….using licensed properties.   Regardless of how good some of the independent games are, the use of recognizable characters and themes is a strong draw for some gamers.

The fact that the Kickstarter funding platform exists may drive the entire industry to improve.  Gamers will have even more games to pick from.  Producing games that will rise above the average titles will be the challenge for publishers to meet.   This could translate into great times ahead for gamers.

The last point I will make is that Kickstarter’s project structure allows game designers to get immediate input from players before the game goes to print.  In my opinion, this is the most exciting element of Kickstarter.  Small issues will often be resolved and this may allow some games to make the leap from an average title to a great title.

So, are the 3 premises correct?

1.  Quality will suffer – In terms of quality, yes, the quality of games from established publishers will be better than most independent games.  If they aren’t, what extra value is being provided?

2. Kickstarter credibility – Quite possibly a scandal will happen, but I think it’s unlikely to derail the viability of Kickstarter as a path of game publishing.

3. The Kickstarter craze will subside – I doubt it. I believe that the campaigns will get very ambitious and elaborate to attract backers and those companies who are able to find the formula for engaging gamers will raise lots of $$ for their projects.

Of course, this is just the opinion of a gamer who is optimistic about the future of the hobby.


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GameChips: Poker Chips for Board Gamers

UPDATE:  Although you may have missed the Kickstarter project, GameKnight will be offering these chips for sale in the near future (May\June 2012).   If you want to be alerted to availability, just send an email to and put GameChips in the subject line.


GameKnight has just launched it’s first kickstarter project. Follow the link to find out all about this great new accessory for board gamers.

My project is to create GameChips, a customized set of poker chips to meet the needs of board gamers.

Many board games use some form of game currency.  The problem is that currency components included with games range from ok to terrible with some rare exceptions.  Here’s some of the in-box components:

  • Cardboard tokens: Usually you need to punch these out yourself. They get worn out pretty fast, and sometimes they get torn when you are trying to punch them.
  • Paper money: This is probably the worst type of game currency. It rips, tears, and creases.  Try taking a game to the beach and watch it fly around.
  • Plastic chips: A little better than paper or cardboard, but these are often very thin and difficult to stack or pick up.
  • Metal coins:  Usually these don’t work that well because they are too small to stack.  Most don’t have a denomination printed on them.

Poker players and casinos found the right solution.  They realized that the best replacement for currency is the poker chip.  Not only are poker chips fun to handle, but they stack easily and make a cool noise when you throw them into a pile.

Unfortunately, standard poker chips have a few problems that make them less than perfect for board gaming.  Most sets of chips don’t have the right denominations for board games.  For example, how many poker chip sets do you find with the value of 3?  In board games, seeing a coin with the value of 3 is not uncommon.  Some sets have chips with no values at all.  However, this requires gamers to keep track of the various colors and their values. Finally, most poker chips have designs that don’t look right when playing board games.

The Solution

This answer is to create GameChips, a custom set of chips to meet the needs of board gamers.  The chips will have all the commonly used denominations for board games.  The graphic design of GameChips will feature easy to read denominations, and a look that will fit right in with wide range of board game genres.

The graphic design follows a natural progression of materials.  The low value chips (1/2/3) have been designed to look like they are made from wood, clay\brick, stone respectively.  The mid-range chips (5/10/20) chips have been designed to look like metal (copper\silver\gold) and the high value chips have been designed to look like gems (emeralds, sapphire, black diamond).

GameChips will be ceramic, just like many casinos use. Ceramic chips are considered to be the most durable and will last many, many years.  The other advantage of ceramic chips is that the graphic design can cover the entire chip.

Below is a grid that summarizes the rewards for reach level of support:

In addition what is shown below, users may customize the mix of denominations for a reward level.  For example, let’s say you want 100 chips, but don’t really want just 1’s & 5’s as shown below.  All you need to do is pledge your support for the “New Gamer” reward, and send me a message that you want to customize it (within the 9  10 denominations that I’ll be creating for this project of course), and we’ll work out the details.