Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Best Kickstarter Previews & Prototype Games of 2016

The Best Kickstarter Previews & Prototype Games of 2016 
10 Kickstarter previews, and 15 prototypes

In 2016 I saw a huge increase in the number of unpublished games that I played.  I did more Kickstarter previews than ever before and attended three Protospiel events.  I also attended a few other game design meetups as well as started hosting my own monthly game design meetup.

So for 2016 I've decided to add two more lists to my main Top 10 New-To-Me Games of 2016 list.  I've included a quick list of the best Kickstarter previews I've done as well as a list of the top prototypes I've played throughout the year (aside from my own, of course).  Keep your eye out for these, some may be coming to Kickstarter or a FLGS near you!  My main list will only contain published games that I've played for the first time this year.
Here are my Top Kickstarter previews and Prototype games that I played in 2016!

Top 10 Kickstarter Previews:
(k-f) Kickstarter failed.  (k-s) Kickstarer was successful.  (k) Kickstarter hasn't launched yet.

First, one honorable mention.  This is a game that I reviewed and was on Kickstarter in 2016, but I played for the first time in 2015.  Starving Artists by Mike Wokasch is a fun, gorgeous game about painting masterpieces and it was a joy to play and amazing to look at.

10 - The Lords of Rock (k-s) - The Lords of Rock isn't the most strategic game out there, but it's not just luck either.  It's super casual, and a fun theme, but oh my, the artwork is incredible!  This was successful on Kickstarter and probably would have done well on the art alone, even if there wasn't a fun game behind it.  By Dave Killingsworth and Dave Ferguson.

9 - Collectors and Capers (k-s) - If you enjoy bluffing and heist themed games, Collectors and Capers is a game that you should be following.  It was successful on Kickstarter and should be reaching backers soon. By Trevor Harron.

8 - Beneath Nexus (k-s) - Beneath Nexus was enjoyable if a bit disappointing, but it still made my top 10.  I love the world of Nexus and am looking forward to seeing where this grows.  The Kickstarter was successful and there are other games planned for the same universe, so be sure to watch this one.  By Chris Visco and Tom Panico.

7 - Blend Off! (k-s) - Blend Off! is a fast playing dice game designed by a friend of mine and published by another friend, but that didn't affect my opinion that this is a blast to play.  It's a great warmup game because it keeps you moving and active the entire time, and only takes a few minutes to play.  The Kickstarter funded version is being delivered now, so if you backed it, check your mailbox!  By Scot Eaton.

6 - PWNs (k-s) - PWNsisn't the deepest game you'll ever play, but it is a ton of chaotic family fun!  When my son saw this on my list his comment was "Only number six?!  PWNs should be number 1!"  So this is definitely a hit with the kids, and all the adults I played with had fun, too.  We're looking forward to seeing the final version of the game that was successfully funded on Kickstarter.  By Ryan Boyle.

5 - Death Wish (k-s) - I'm not a huge fan of crass party games, but Death Wish has just enough strategy and the less family friendly cards can be pulled out of the deck without affecting the gameplay.  The cards are humorous, but the game is interesting enough to remain entertaining even after the novelty of the humor has worn off.  By Jason Hibbert.

4 - Game of Energy (k-s) - It took two campaigns to get Game of Energy funded, but I'm thrilled that it did.  This is a great gateway game from a great designer.  By Nathan Wright.

3 - Adepts (k) - Adepts hasn't hit Kickstarter yet, but I had a great time reviewing this worker placement game about mining gems to produce magical energy and cast spells.  The review will come out closer to when the Kickstarter launches.  I haven't heard a date yet though, but keep your eye out for it.  By Nick Leonardi.

2 - Unmasked: Dracula's Feast (k-s) - The Kickstarter for Dracula's Feast was wildly successful!  I can't wait to receive a copy of this quick little social and logical deduction game.  By Peter Hayward.

1 - Radiant (k-f) - Definitely one of the best Kickstarter games I've previewed.  The art is great, and Radiant is a wonderful mix of trick taking, area control, and drafting.  The first Kickstarter wasn't successful, but keep your eye out for a relaunch coming soon.  This is a great game that deserves so much more attention than it got during its first campaign!  By Randal Marsh.

Top 15 Prototypes:
(p) Prototype played at design meetup.  (c) BGG design contest entry.

15 - Zoopers (p/c) - An interesting card game that was designed for the BGG 9 Card Contest, however I didn't get a chance to play it until Protospiel Madison in October.  It's changed and grown a bit since the 9 card contest.  By Nate Jones.

14 - Dynamice (c) - A very puzzly solo game that was designed for the BGG 9 Card Contest.  By Chris Alton.

13 - Divine Wind (p) - A silly dexterity game based on an actual ancient Japanese scroll depicting samurais fighting with flatulence.  Played at Madison Protospiel in October.  By Scot Eaton.

12 - Pluto Attacks! (p) - A cooperative dice game about high school students defending the home town from an alien invasion.  I played this at both Protospiel Chicago in September and Protospiel Madison in October and was thrilled to see how the game has been growing.  By Troy Pichelman.

11 - Goblins Stole My Chicken! (p) - A fast paced, take-that card game about goblins attacking your chicken coop that I played at Protospiel Chicago in September.  By Troy Pichelman.

10 - Soapbox Religion (AKA Cults) (p) - An interesting party game about building a religion based on all sorts of odd beliefs.  Some might not be quite so odd, until you match them up with other beliefs.  And the story telling aspect of having to explain why your religion has evolved its beliefs is a total blast!  Played at Protospiel Milwaukee in April.  By Garrett Curler.

9 - New Avalon (p) - This was a very interesting mix of deck building, and tower defense style combat that I played at Protospiel Milwaukee in April.  By Pavel Kowalczyk and Kristian Damholt.

8 - The Captain is Dead: Dangerous Planet (p) - A cooperative tower defense game where players have to work to repair their crashed ship while defending it from an onslaught of alien monsters.  This game in the Captain is Dead series has gone through a number of changes since I played a very early prototype in April, but it was good then and I expect it to be great by the time it's ready to be released.  By JT Smith.

7 - Telepathy (p) - A super interesting game of reading your partner's mind.  There's no communication in this game, but players have to choose actions for their partner to take and then the partner has to decide how to enact that action.  If both players' secret win conditions are met before their secret lose conditions, they win.  Played at Protospiel Madison in October.  By Carl Klutzke.

6 - Goodbye Friend, Hello Dinner (p) - I played this prototype at Protospiel Madison in October and had a blast with the theme of this worker placement game about growing your village of cannibals.  By Kevin Jones.

5 - Tenochtitlan (p) - Designed by a friend of mine, this was a very interesting style of worker placement that uses dice probability, worker bumping, and more to build Mayan step pyramids.  By Eric Jome.

4 - Mini Rogue (c) - This was a contest entry for the 9 Card Contest on BGG.  It's a solo game, but was a ton of fun to play.  Look for it to be published soon!  By Paolo Di Stefano and Gabriel Gendron.

3 - Rat King (p) - This is the working title for the successor to the hit Grifters, I played this at a local design meetup.  It shares some mechanics with Grifters, but adds in enough of its own flair to keep it super interesting.  By Dave Fulton and Jake Tlapek.

2 - Cursed Court (p) - I played this at Protospiel Madison in October and had a blast.  The good news is that it was signed by a publisher and will hopefully be on Kickstarter sometime soon!  By Andrew Hanson.

1 - Abandon Planet (p) - Designed by Don Eskridge, the designer of The Resistance and Avalon, Abandon Planet is a great social game with a ton of strategy and interaction.  It's the best prototype I played all year (at Milwaukee Protospiel in April) and is currently on Kickstarter (and I've backed it), so check it out!

There really are some great games coming, and I'm having a blast getting to see some of these before they are available to the public.  I can't wait to see what next year brings!

Did you like this review?  Show your support by clicking the heart at Board Game Links , liking GJJ Games on Facebook , or following on Twitter .  And be sure to check out my games on  Tabletop Generation.

GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  Quick Reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first few times playing.  Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.


  1. George, I'm happy to see that you enjoyed Goodbye Friend, Hello Dinner. Maybe I'll see you at Protospiel MN. I can always go for a good looting of castles.

    1. I won't be able to make it to MN, but I'll definitely be at Milwaukee in April!