Why doesn't this crowdfunder work?

A friend’s team has launched a Kickstarter today, and it’s not going to fund. Now, he’s been feeling pessimistic about this campaign for a while, so it won’t come as a shock to him, but I know he’s going to ask for a post-mortum of sorts when I see him next. I’ve got my own (pretty concrete) thoughts on why it’s not funded, but wondered if people here wouldn’t mind saying why they wouldn’t back it (no sugar coating here) just so when I talk to him it doesn’t just come across as me being super critical? Link here if you’re interested
Also, just want to make it clear this isn’t a backdoor ‘back this project’ post. Despite them working on it for years now I still haven’t played it which usually isn’t the best sign.

edit- also want to add I asked to see the page before it went live so I could help but never got the chance.


I saw that today on my emails… and although I am tempted, I think I will pass on it.

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I should also say, another publisher friend has launched Molehill Meadows, which is a cute polynomino style flip and write and has already funded. Molehill Meadows by Chris Priscott - Unfringed - Gamefound

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Biggest sin I’m seeing is not having a rulebook on the KS page. I mean, they obviously have the rules worked out, they mentioned a good chunk of them in the game description, and though I didn’t watch it, a “How to Play” video. Even if the rulebook layout is not finalized, I would want to read the rules.

Also, just having quotes from random demo players does not give the best impression to me. Find somebody who reviews games in some fashion to give a blurb. There are so many YouTube channels and podcasts, surely a couple would be willing to look at the design. And if they don’t have anything positive to say, then maybe the game needs more work.


The biggest reason is simply it isn’t my sort of game. But I’d want playthrough videos and I’m generally put off by a game trying to do competitive, coop, and solo all in one box up front. It occasionally works but it often isn’t great for one or more of those modes.



I’m not sure really but I know the kickstarters I have become aware of fall into two categories:

Related to stuff I’ve backed before (I’m on the pubs email list)


The thing has been advertised to heck on Facebook.

If I’d come across the page I wouldn’t have looked at it past the header because i don’t see the kind of game it is until half way down. Show me the board or why I should swipe twice before one swipe up I think. Story, title etc are all nothing information for me unless it accidentally resonates.


Reasons I wouldn’t back Cloud Foxes (bearing in mind I am old in wickedness and don’t back a lot):

  • “What’s in the box” is a pattern for huge overblown kickstarters where you’re supposed to think “oh boy, I get a lot of stuff here!”. You don’t get a lot of stuff here, just the cardboard bits you need to play the game and some dice. Which is fine, but this is raising expectations and then disappointing.

  • No rulebook, always a red flag for me.

  • I may be unimpressed when I see yet another testimonial by Rahdo, but at least I’ve heard of him, as opposed to Anonymous Playtester.

  • A stretch goal that changes gameplay? Tested it, have we?

  • “About us” is just a bunch of white guys. Doesn’t one of you at least have a girlfriend you can put in as “art director” or something?

  • Hasn’t been spellchecked (“carboard”).



It’s an area control game with three levels of randomness on where I can place my pieces to control the area. As in dice determine the column I use, the row I use and the piece I can place. Even if there is some skill I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone had a better run of chance in the game. Campare with El Grande, I have a set of cards that determines when I can act in the turn. They are once and done, but I choose what number I use. In hand cards would work better as I have some control over the results. Sure they have the modifier tokens, but I get those from playing lower valued cards.

Other Stuff

  • No rulebook, draft or not

  • £39 plus £7 delivery makes a £46 total cost on a game that RRPs at £45. With all the best will in the world I can get free delivery from Chaos Cards at £20, other places at £30. This will be sold at less than RRP at those places, so where is my saving?

  • Comments are from playtesters, or friends?

  • “love the art” feels like faint praise, not enthusiam

  • Echoing Roger, “What’s in the box” is essentially “components required to play the game”


I have little useful to add here, as I don’t do crowdfunding, and everything people have said seems on the money.

But -

If they have a friend with some successful experience in this field, and that friend offered to give help and advice, and they didn’t take up that offer, they seem - well, let’s say foolish…


My first thought is that it looks really abstract. As nice as the art is, I immediately looked at that board and saw numbers, not flying foxes.

The lack of a rulebook is an obvious omission. If I’ve understood this right, you have 6 possible choices on your turn after you roll (before points modification). In practice though, some of those spots will be occupied, and the odds of rolling at least one pair of doubles on three dice is ~40%, so your options can get really limited, really quickly. The points system obviously exists to mitigate this, but my ability to get points is also dependent on dice rolls. It just seems really luck-heavy in a way that wouldn’t produce particularly interesting board states.

Also, does he have big hands or are those dice quite small?


Yeah, I’m part of a indie publishers discord, and the amount of people who share their campaigns after they’ve launched asking why it hasn’t funded instead of before is ludicrous. I understand not wanting something you’ve worked on being criticised, but you need a thicker skin than that to sell things. Get as much good quality feedback as possible before the launch should be a no-brainer.

We had someone who had spent thousands on a marketing agency ask us for help post launch and we could have given him better help for free.


Assuming board game designers and publishers are on average just like everybody else, I imagine there are loads of people only too happy to give advice and share their experience. I can’t imagine even thinking of trying to launch a crowdfunded board game without taking advantage of as much advice as possible. But, apparently, people do just that!


Looks like the conversation has been filled between the time I read this on my phone and the time I got to a keyboard. Here’s my thoughts anyway:

First off, don’t go back to a default theme. I love that they are doing something new here. But you’ve got to tighten it up. Let’s compare to Apiary. What’s Apiary about? SPACE BEES. Ok, got it. What are they doing? COLONIZING SPACE. OK, I’m in.

Here: It’s foxes, but they are flying. And they are fighting merchants (…what?) Flying merchants. The foxes don’t like the merchants. Oh, they also don’t like each other, forgot to mention that.

What are they doing?

Oh, right. So the merchants took over fox land. It doesn’t have a name. And the foxes went away. But now they’re BACK. And they’re fighting the merchants off to take back their land.

Their air?

Oh yeah, they’re all flying.

The point can be made most effectively by the fact that I probably got some of that wrong and missed other parts. Tighten it up, I’m already tired before I even finish the setting.

Here’s the bigger nail in the coffin - I don’t want to play. And I think there’s two reasons for that - the fiddly in to game out ratio looks unfavorable, and I don’t know what the game’s hook is.

First on rules. Here is what I got: I’m going to have 6 options on where to place a fox. I’ll have to cross reference dice and board to identify those 6 spaces, and then try to remember them as I evaluate them against fox strength, fox abilities, and space characteristics. Depending on what the space is, I might get a merchant ship, or ??? … there were other implications and scoring. And then we end up at some kind of point salad where you have points for cities, ships, area control? At this point I stopped, I’m seeing a lot of mental friction figuring out where I can and want to put a fox, and after that friction, I end up immediately at scoring. This feeds into…

The hook. Coup - you have two cards. You take money and then spend money to force others to flip a card. Your cards give you special abilities for taking money or flipping opponents cards. Oh, and your cards are face down and you can lie about what abilities you have access to. Boom, I want to try that.

Race for the Galaxy - you draw cards. Discard to add cards to your tableau. Use cards to make and consume “goods” for points. And every card you add to your tableau grants you a rule-breaking bonus for hte rest of the game. Oh, and you can also copy everyone else’s actions for free if you can guess what they are going to do.

Just well known examples. I didn’t see any hook, at all. I assume it’s there?

I don’t mind the lack of a rulebook, they tell me how to play the game in the campaign. However, by doing so, they got too much into the weeds and lost the essence of the game.

So, what’s the setting? Tighten that up to one sentence, or even a few words.

What’s the hook? They need a 15-second elevator pitch on what is the beating heart of this game, and that needs to be front and center. Simplify the rules to give me the spine of the game, and emphasize the hook, without all the details. Draft rulebook for the details if someone has questions. A good example would be the cloud tokens - all the campaign needs is “weaker foxes provide cloud tokens that let you manipulate the dice or move your foxes already on the board,” instead of the full paragraph of mechanics they put in.

Minor, but as others have said, “What players are saying: RAVE! RAVE! RAVE!” rather than “Rave! - demo playtester.”

Final tangential note:
I’m reading the tea leaves here. But what I see is a long development, but you never saw it. Full campaign, but you never reviewed it. Confident the campaign will fail before it even launches (insulating against failure). You’ve got someone here who is unable to separate themself from the product. Their identity is quite likely (and unhealthily, but also all too normally) bound up with this game and campaign. That’s the reason people usually hide their work, it’s too vulnerable and personal to have it prodded, edited, and evolved.

So (likely) a part of them wants to know how to succeed. A part of them just wants no one to touch it, because their identity will be devastated in the exchange.

Err on the side of caution, enter gently, figure out how to pose everything as a “try it this way instead” rather than “this part is wrong.” And have a separate meta-conversation about the importance of separating their work from their self and the value of critique, and how good it feels when their thing gets better. No one does it alone. Revision is harder, longer, and more important than creation. Yadda yadda yadda. They might get more value from that than specifics on this page they’ve put together.


From a quick glance - my suspicion is always raised by games that boast co-op and competitive modes in the same package. I’ve yet to see one that was fun both ways. But that’s more design than presentation.

As far as how its presented, I agree with most of the other comments (manual, layout etc.). Obviously getting a production copy to a noteworthy youtube channel/previewer would help (but most of the good ones are picky thesedays).


This is really thoughtful, thank you.


Part of it is considering it an art more than a science, and so even if you did get advice from people with experience, some folk are more likely to consider themselves mould-breakers who will prove the naysayers wrong and go ahead with those choices anyway. Which is required really, otherwise there’d never be any challenge to the status quo and sometimes the newbie might be the correct one. The problem is when people pre-emptively think like that, there’s no point inviting critique if they won’t listen to it, so the same pitfalls are fallen in time and time again.

Thanks everyone. I had: poorly paced page (starting with story, overly long rules explanation), uninspiring photo of the game, uninspiring contents list (save that to the end unless you’ve got something eye-catching), bad gameboard art (just solid blue) prominent throughout, quotes from demoers only, multiple play modes in one game, cost of the game & shipping costs, selling their first KS for KS price with a better photo than the current game (do this in the pledge manager), edit- forgot goal- 625 backers to fund is a lot. Bold are the biggest red flags, especially the demoer quote one, that’s a real shocker. But there’s so much more people have said. You ought to charge for this service.

Can’t really comment on the game, because by the time we’re at KS that’s kind of locked in, if that makes sense? I can help change a KS page and manage costs, but I can’t change the actual game itself.


I understand what you’re saying but man, there are a lot of Kickstarter projects that contradict that one. :stuck_out_tongue:


Okay, went off and had a look. Caveat I’m a boring old fart whose heart is as black as coal.

What I saw was a wargame dressed up to look cute, with a movement mechanics that reminds me a little bit of Stratego, and a conflict resolution system that’s over complex for achieving the results it wants.

But, big caveat, this game is clearly not for people like me, and I’m probably talking out my arse.