Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tokaido Kickstarter - It's All About Change

[The following originated from a comment I posted in a Shut Up and Sit Down article. I've modified this with new views and perspectives since, so it'll look different than the original.]

Being an owner of Tokaido, I was going to fund the Tokaido Kickstarter's collectors pledge of getting the improved components, but then I hesitated.

First off, let me say I really enjoy Tokaido for its theme and calming gameplay, and the artwork is already splendid. It sits proudly in my collection, and it's a light casual game to introduce players to. I haven't purchased Crossroads yet, but look forward to in the future. I thought that maybe, I could pay the $45 for the upgraded components, and then buy Crossroads on my own later.

Appearances are Cosmetic

After going over the collector's pledge, however, the components are largely cosmetic. Let's face it, it's all about the minis...and they are gorgeous! But if Tokaido was a natural beauty in my eyes, then the kickstarter is giving it "plastic surgery" (pun intended) to make it "Hollywood" gorgeous.

Consumer: "Hey, that woman is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen!"

Kickstarter: "Yeah...but she'd look better with bigger tits!"

And the metal coins, coin bag, soundtrack, crossroads die...they all feel like thematic fluff rather than practical upgrades. Metal chinese coins are not hard to come by online. A coin bag is easy to find or make, too. You can use any pleasant music for soundtrack. The die? Was the original die that terrible?

A (Kickstarter) House Divided

When you look at it from a broader angle, the entire Tokaido kickstarter seems off-kilter. The moment I saw the selective stretch goals, I gasped at the variety of pledge levels. Trying to follow what's included or not in each was terribly confusing, and it didn't help that they spent updates to clarify any misunderstandings. Long story short, if you pledge anything above "Samurai" level, you'll be getting, quote, "ALL UNLOCKED STRETCHGOALS FOR FREE." You'd think the word "all" would imply "free," but then you'd be wrong.

Another frowning point of any kickstarter is watching it morph DURING the campaign. Most kickstarters have a solid foundation of tiers and what they deem are reasonable demands for what they'll provide. But to sway easily to consumer demands is both a good and bad thing: good for consumers, bad for planners. To be at the mercy of your customers gives unnecessary unstable control - remember Microsoft's backtrack on the XBox One? Even AFTER the change, they received heavy scrutiny. In the Tokaido kickstarter comments, there's still that discord every few comments, all hovering over recent changes.

A Good Game from the Start

I think what bothers me the most is that, at least according to the KS pledge numbers, not many people bought this game originally for...well, the experience of the game itself. I found the game to be spectacularly themed in its restful theme, having soothing travels, enjoying the scenery. To see it become subjective to a Collector's Edition only 2 years since its original release cries out "we want more money." Compare that to a 10-year anniversary Ticket to Ride announced this year, a classic board game more well-known and deserving of a remodel.

I have nothing against Antoine Bauza or Tokaido, really. I don't even hold any ire towards anyone getting the game through this kickstarter. 

The organization of the KS and its content, though? Yeah, I'm a tad miffed.
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