Kickstarter Advice


I am college student who created a board game over the course of the past semester. I have a prototype version purchased from Board Game Crafter that I am quite proud of. This summer however, I am planning to polish it up and hopefully look into a crowd fundraising campaign with the help of some friends. We are in the planning stage and trying to answer questions for the future.

I noted that there is another Kickstarter thread on this forum but that seemed more related to Kickstarter project news. Hopefully this one can not only help me but also a good place for future reference.

I know there is alot of Kickstarter info out there, but I love this community and want engage it specifically.

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Here are some questions I have specifically

Are small scale projects viable on Kickstarter?
I was reading blog posts from Jamey Stegmaier ( and he suggested an average board game budget in 2017 should be close to 39k with self-investments made. This seemed very high for a handful of broke college students how have time to invest, not money.

How much copyrighting and trademarking should be down?
I have down all the artwork myself and plan on submitting that for copyright, but should I do more than that?

What have you seen in Kickstarter’s that have worked?
What have you seen that hasn’t work?

Thank you in advance! :slight_smile:

I have no idea about any of your questions, but welcome to the forum and good luck.

I’d imagine you need to be careful on the name.

I’m not sure what experience she had prior to Wingspan, but I believe that Elizabeth Hargrave has said a lot about the development process.

Every Kickstarter I’ve backed (admittedly not many) has either been recommended by a podcast, or on here. Tabletop Simulator (TTS) mods released pre Kickstarter seem a popular of getting lots of playtesting and generating buzz.

Finally, I admit I don’t read them, but I believe design diaries are popular. There was a lot of talk about Cole Werhle’s diaries during the Oath campaign.

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Personally i’ve seen prototype games on Kickstarter and walked right past them due to poor graphic design on that first page.

There has been a lot of talk recently about theme it’s safe to say a strong theme catches my eye more than strong mechanics. Themes that appeal to me can pull me into a pledge. I know i’m Probably gonna rank myself as a philistine but graphics and theme will attract me more than solid mechanics, to this day i’m Reluctant on food chain magnate for this reason.

Then there is reviews. This one is probably impractical but as a minimum you could show feedback from your play testing to demonstrate due diligence in refining your idea.

Just some brain farts hope they are of some help.


You can learn a lot from the World’s Worst Kickstarter Ever thread on BGG. Really - I’m not joking; even if you prove to have a genius for this stuff and don’t make any of the obvious mistakes, you can reassure yourself that at least you wouldn’t do that.

Make sure your Kickstarter account has backed at least a couple of projects - “first created, zero backed” is a big warning sign.

The main thing I hear is that you need to have a minimum mass of audience before you go to KS. A very few people may find it by looking at KS itself, but if you have a social media presence you can use it to build up interest before you start the actual funding period. (“But how do I get a social media audience”, you ask? Don’t ask me, I don’t touch the stuff.) I think I’ve only ever backed one project I found on KS, rather than ones where I already knew the game, or the designer, or at least had had a chance to read about it (and perhaps play a print-and-play or TTS version) before committing money.


Thank you for the welcome and good advice

Good idea, I read what Elizabeth Hargrave had to go through.

Recommendations do seem to be the way to go, but standing out in a sea of unsolicited games is going to be the challenge. TTS mods are a great suggestion. I currently am putting together one for the prototype version.

I will definitely look in to other design diaries.

As far as brain farts go, these ones are helpful!

One of the things I am going to be refining is the graphic design aspects, but as for theme and artwork I think you are right about how important they are. Without going to much deep my own project, I have done all the artwork in chalk and its loosely based on Native American folklore. Which I hope is unique enough haha.

And reviews are a great suggestion. While it is obviously hard to get them from established places, I could always reach out to my play-testers for their thoughts to use!

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The White Box Essays has a whole segment on Kickstarter projects.


That link is beautiful thank you sharing it. I love the audacity of posting an entire resume in a bio description.

Making sure to back some projects is great advice. Looks like my friends an I will have to go on a back spree.

This also good advice, thankfully now is the time to get the ball rolling on getting an audience.
Thank you for all your help

Thank you! I will be sure to check it out :slight_smile:

Designing a game is a test of one’s discipline, creativity and humility.

Running a successful Kickstarter is a test of one’s marketing talent and, in the case of an indie publisher, their ability to connect with the community in a meaningful way.

The sum of all of that is you’ll need to wear many hats; and, as is the case with most people these days, you’ll only have one head (and probably a scarcity of hats). It sounds like it’s already a group effort - which now means somebody’s management and leadership skills will be put to the test: make sure they are up to the challenge otherwise this is all going to come crashing down around their shoulders (despite their hat).


Hello @ryanofthemeek and welcome to the forums.

I do look through the Kickstarter games section randomly and sometimes something catches my eye without having seen a lot of recommendations. What those probably have in common is good graphic design, a catchy name, not too many “kickstarter only, exclusive” etc. badges. I like campaigns simple and straightforward.

  • display of game materials / prototypes / digital mockups
  • quick explanation of what the game is about (look at Quinn’s video on The Teach, that could be helpful), theme and main mechanics possibly with a short video
  • not too many different pricing options
  • clear communication on shipping especially customs handling (f.e. EU friendly shipping, lots of campaigns have these existing badges–I look for these)
  • not too many stretchgoals
  • realistic funding goal–I can tell when a game goes too low on funding for the stated type of materials etc just so they can later post “funded in 4h”
  • offering a TTS module is great
  • possibly an early version of a rulebook to check out
  • have a BGG entry + some info on the kickstarter on the forums for the game
  • Avoid playing on people’s FOMO. The more a campaign tries to cause it, the harder they’ll have to work on everything else to convince me to back the game. (f.e. Kickstarter Exclusives for causing FOMO or “back early to get this gimmick”)

In the following I’ll have a few examples of campaigns to check out either to see what they may have done right or wrong.

For an example how not to do it and how even a well-known publisher can fail at KS look at the Conan campaign earlier this year. They were also quite unlucky in timing their KS with other big games at the same time.

I also sat out the Canvas campaign because the communication about shipping to EU was unclear to me and I would much rather not have to worry about a package stuck in customs.

Even though I’ve backed it, look at the campaign for Dwellings of Eldervale for an example of how much is too much.

I backed Oath on the strength of the designer’s other games but also because I read the aforementioned designer diaries.

I waffled about Small Samurai empires for a bit (there is still a late pledge option for me) but that is a campaign that did well.

I backed Planet Unknown because I was able to test a prototype at a convention–there will be no conventions to do that at least not in the usual way but watch out maybe there are going to be digital replacements which make a TTS module (or other option for digital play) all the more important.


And after that it becomes a logistics thing as well. The game has to be produced somewhere, and then shipped to everyone–as a bonus on time…

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Wow thank you for such an insightful and helpful response!
I will keep this post handy
And you are absolutely right, alot of Kickstarters seem to be focused on the large collection of things you get from backing and missing out if you don’t. I definitely want to stray away from that and make a product that stands on its own.
Those are good examples to go through, thank you again.


Look up Nathan Meunier, Jeremy Rozenhart, Christopher Ferguson, Tony Go, Jeremy Hogg and Mr. PNP. These creators exemplify what makes a quality, independent campaign for a product that knows what it is and what it wants to be. You WILL get arseholes threatening to pull pledges because you aren’t giving them enough stretch-goal dopamine. You WILL get backers asking for miniatures or other high-cost trash that likely has no place in your game. Stick to your guns, run a campaign with an explicitly stated goal and do what you can to deliver. Communicate regularly and transparently.

If you do opt to offer stretch goals, stick to quality upgrades. Avoid stuff that will alter your timeline, margins, etc. And by all means, WAY overestimate your delivery date. It’s always better to beat expectations.


Alley cat games wrote a blog with tips for indie designers about approaching publishers, I think a lot of it applies to KS too:

You certainly can get away with running a KS at an earlier level than you would approaching a publisher, but it’s a huge risk. These days people expect to see pretty much the final product on the campaign page unless you have the credentials to be trusted.


Hi Ryan, I ran a small scale project on Kickstarter last year- 250 copies of a card game, and should be running another one this year*, larger in scale, but still not a behemoth.

The first thing to note is it’s absolutely possible, but probably not from a starting point of nothing. Before I ran my Kickstarter I’d already had one game design picked up by a publisher, attended and helped with the running of a large gaming group with over 50 members for years, went to regular playtesting sessions, did blind playtesting of games for other publishers, and attended gaming conventions. Now, it’s likely that little of this was essential, but I’ve seen and played games by people who have played about three boardgames before designing their own, and these obviously have no chance of success. The fact you know about this forum is a good start.

The second is the money you put in. I don’t know what type of game you’re designing, but your biggest expenses are going to be:

  • art
  • prototypes
  • marketing

For a simple card game I did the graphic design myself and hired an artist just for the box art, which I also used for the back of the cards. But each card just had a number, symbol and some words. For my current game I’m spending considerably more (easily over £1000), but it’s still mostly abstract art, and these are without boards. If you can do the art yourself that’ll save you the most money, but if your art isn’t good you will not fund.

Prototypes are expensive but essential. You need to have something to send to reviewers, previewers, and blind playtest with. If you can already get them done on TGC then that’s good, again card games are easiest here, but for my current game this is the current sticking point- covid-19 has shut down the manufacturers I’m using, which has put a massive delay or massive cost hike. Some companies hand make prototypes, which I’m doing some of, but again these need to be high quality to send out to marketing folk.

For marketing you can put in as much money as you want, but eventually you’re just throwing money away. There’s loads of data out there about advertising, but if you’ve got a decent social media presence that’ll do a lot. However, what is essential (imo) is exhibiting at conventions. This’ll get you people stopping by to look, but also contacts with podcasters reviewers and the like, as well as generate buzz.

Submitting copyright for artwork- what? Are you doing the art yourself or hiring an artist? Either way this seems either an odd way of doing things or odd phrasing.

Well I’ve waffled on a lot, so I’ll finish here for now.

*Die of the Dead, was meant to launch on KS earlier this year, but prototype manufacturing has stopped, putting a massive hiccup in our plans


Great first post, welcome

Hope you hang around. Good luck with your games


Hi @MarkSP great to see you here.

Mark has also worked very hard to talk about culture heritage associated with his game and to give credit to artists.

Might be worth reposting some of they gorgeous artwork!


Thanks, and yeah it’s not really my first post (god knows how I missed the SUASD announcement about the forum, but imagine my suprise when it disappeared!).