The Top 10 Kickstarter Games of All Time - A Punchboard Media Top 10 List
Everyone loves a good Top 10 list, and we’re no different. We here at Punchboard Media also love Top 10 lists that are just a little bit different, and aren’t just the same things being listed by everyone. So the question becomes, how do you get lists like that? You ask your friends to help. In what we hope is going to be an ongoing monthly series of Top 10 lists, we are going to dig deep and have our contributors here help us create some fun lists for everyone to enjoy. There are a lot of different voices here -- a lot of different ways of thinking -- and I hope that brings us some interesting and diverse perspectives. Voting on these is done over a two-week period, allowing many Punchboard Media creators to jump in and vote. Some months we’ll have a bigger turnout than others, but rest assured, these “scientifically” proven results will be a lot of fun to see.
Here are the five Honorable Mentions that didn’t make the Top 10:
15) Scythe (39 points)
14) Gloomhaven (40 points)
13) Spirit Island (42 points)
12) Yokohama (43 points)
11) Burgle Bros (43 points)
We didn’t set any restrictions on what was a “Kickstarter” game, and we also did not set any restrictions on what was not a “Kickstarter” game going in to creating this Top 10 list. Therefore, you are going to get games like Yokohama, which was really on Kickstarter only to bring it to the North American Market after being successful in Japan. We also, once again, didn’t distinguish between editions. Viticulture is just one entry even though it had multiple campaigns for different editions and expansions. Four out of the Five honorable mention games are in the Board Game Geek Top 100. But our Top 10 only consists of 5 Top 100 Board Game Geek titles. It’s an interesting mix of really well known titles and some that may surprise you.
10) Flash Point Fire Rescue (45 points, 1 Second Place Vote) Current BGG Rank: 284
This is the oldest title on the list, with a publish date of 2011. Flash Point Fire Rescue, from designer Kevin Lanzing, is a cooperative game in which the players are firefighters and they are tasked with extinguishing the flames and save as many fire victims as possible through careful planning and usage of their action points. You win by saving a set number of fire victims, you lose if you lose a set number of victims or the building collapses due to the damage done by the fire.
9) Millennium Blades (47 points, 1 First Place Vote) Current BGG Rank: 289
Level 99’s Millennium Blades is affectionately called a “Collectible Card Game Simulator” in which the players are playing the fictional CCG, Millennium Blades. You start from nothing and you build your decks to compete in tournaments for prizes and fame. Instead of taking a lifetime to get the fame though, Millennium Blades gives you this feeling in about two to three hours. While the theme shines through, in reality the game is simply a commodity trading game where you have to trade and buy carefully in hopes of reaching the pinnacle of the CCG world.
8) Aeon’s End (52 points, 2 First Place Votes) Current BGG Rank: 83
Kevin Riley’s hybrid deck building game Aeon’s End is a cooperative game in which the players are breach mages trying to defend the world from the monsters that want to overrun it. It offers some fairly interesting twists to the “dungeon crawl” styled deck builders including variable turns meant to simulate actual combat, it’s not always the next person in line’s turn you know. Constantly testing you with challenge after challenge, Aeon’s End keeps the players on their toes and wondering just what will happen next.
7) Brass: Birmingham (54 points, 1 First Place Vote, 1 Second Place Vote, 1 Third Place Vote) Current BGG Rank: 13
Martin Wallace’s Brass gets a sequel and a nice facelift in Birmingham. It’s still a bustling economic game about the entrepreneurs of Birmingham as they compete for dominance in the late 18th & 19th Centuries. Birmingham brings some new industries to the table, breweries, manufactured goods & pottery, and also tweaks and modernizes game play a bit. But most of all, it has that Roxley Games look and feel. This just missed being in the Top 10 Games of 2018 on the previous PunchBoard Media Top 10.
6) Viticulture (56 points, 1 First Place Vote, 1 Second Place Vote, 2 Third Place Votes) Current BGG Rank: 19
This entry is all encompassing for the Viticulture group of games, from the beginning to the last project. Viticulture is a worker placement game all about running a vineyard. From actually making the wine to running the vineyard as a tourist destination, you have to manage to the best of your abilities with the workers at your disposal. Viticulture was the world’s introduction to Stonemaier Games and what was to come from them.
5) Orleans (56 points, 1 Second Place Vote, 1 Third Place Vote) Current BGG Rank: 26
A game readily available in the European market, brought to the North American market by Tasty Minstrel Games, who had the foresight to “Deluxify” the heck out of it to sell a lot of copies of this bag building, worker placement game from Reiner Stockhausen.
4) Star Realms (64 points, 1 Third Place Vote) Current BGG Rank: 92
Deck Building in space from Magic the Gathering Hall of Fame designers, Darwin Kastle and Rob Dougherty. Fast paced deck building with a collectible card game combat feel. Star Realms took off in 2014 and has never looked back.
3) Deception: Murder in Hong Kong (67 points, 1 Second Place Vote) Current BGG Rank: 164
In 2014, designer Tobey Ho brought this big box, social deduction game to the masses. In 2015, Grey Fox Games picked it up and brought it to the Kickstarter platform. In the game, 4-12 players are investigating a murder, but among them, one of the investigators is the murderer. Different roles for the investigators mean that different investigators know different information about the murder.
2) Near and Far (73 points, 1 First Place Vote, 1 Second Place Vote, 1 Third Place Vote) Current BGG Rank: 124
Thematic story-telling wrapped up in a beautiful production, Near and Far from Ryan Laukat and his Red Raven Games team, took story building games to new heights in this sequel to the previously released, Above & Below.
1) Sagrada (94 points, 1 First Place Vote, 2 Third Place Votes) Current BGG Rank: 127
In 2017, dice drafting games were taking the gaming world by storm, and none captured the imagination of gamers, at least gamers here at PunchBoard Media, like Sagrada from designers Daryl Andrews and Adrian Adamescu. You are drafting dice and building stained glass windows based on goals, and rules set forth by the design you are building.
There we go, the PunchBoard Media Top 10 Kickstarter Games. As with our previous Top 10, we realize that there are definitely some titles missing from our list that would be on other lists. But all in all, we don’t think that you can go wrong with any of these titles if you were looking for something new to put on your shelves to play. Question is, do you Kickstart, or wait?
Comments from Punchboard Media Contributors
Eric Buscemi (The Cardboard Hoard): I’m glad to see that some older Kickstarter games made this list -- Star Realms from 2014, Viticulture from 2013, Flash Point from all the way back in 2011 -- and that it isn’t just the latest batch of hot Kickstarter games. I also think looking at this list, as well as the honorable mentions, proves that there are some very high quality games that were funded on Kickstarter -- despite a lot of naysayers, crowdfunded games aren’t all drek. Considering the mass appeal of Sagrada, it’s no surprise to me it is at the top of the list, ahead of games like Gloomhaven, Scythe, and Spirit Island, which only made honorable mentions as they cater to specific sub-genres of the hobby. I am a bit surprised Burgle Bros narrowly missed the top ten, as it is my favorite cooperative game -- but I admit to personal bias there.
Charles Hasegawa (Things of No Interest): I backed three of the top 10 games (and turns out those three are among my personal Top 15). I don’t back as many Kickstarters anymore (for many, many reasons), but Viticulture (twice!), Orleans Deluxe, and Star Realms turned out to be amazing purchases. While I’m not currently much of a Kickstarter kind of guy, I think crowdfunding has done a lot to expand this hobby we love and bring a lot of games (good and bad) to the marketplace that might never have been seen otherwise.
Chris Marling (GoPlayListen): With so many solvent ‘proper’ publishers now using Kickstarter purely as a marketing/hype machine (which is fair enough), I think it is now impossible to see it as ‘other’ from traditional publishing. But I’ve been burnt too often to trust it now. I’ll only back games from friends or publishers I know I can trust. I’m super excited about Egizia, for example, as I know I can trust Stronghold. But why would I take a punt on an unknown game/designer/publisher? It’s not as if I don’t have enough published games to choose from…
Brandon Kempf (WDYPTW): How this list turned out really shouldn’t surprise me. I think a lot of other groups try to do this and you probably will get a list that is completely the opposite of this on. I am a bit surprised that Santorini did not make the list but yet Brass Birmingham did. The later being far less accessible than the former. I’m also a bit surprised by the age of some of these Kickstarters that made the list. Surprised in a good way. Doing this has added a couple games to my “Want to Play” list. My tastes apparently aren’t all that prevalent in here as I only voted for three of the Top 15 games that we listed. But that doesn’t surprise me at all, even though I have backed 100+ Kickstarter projects.
Ken Grazier (Geek-Craft): I’ve backed a lot of Kickstarters, and 321 of them have been games of some kind. Now, I love the idea of Kickstarter and it has benefits and problems. I’ve played 8 of the top 10 games listed above, and they’re all solid titles. Kickstarter has allowed a lot of games to come to market that wouldn’t have without it, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s more games to play, more options for players, and more avenues for game designers to get their games out there. With the new Kickstarter rules, hopefully there will be more faith in the system and future projects will be better than ever.
Sarah Mahood-Wormuth (Open Seat Gaming): Between Marti and Scott we have backed a good bit of Kickstarter titles. On this list there are six of the top ten games that we greatly enjoy including Scott's favorite game, Aeon's End and my favorite game, Sagrada. I'm excited that Sagrada ended up being the top game because it shows why Kickstarter is still important as a way to make games happen. Floodgate wasn't on my radar much at all before Sagrada, and then the Kickstarter success brought it to the forefront of everyone's minds. Now, Sagrada is very popular and still coming out with expansions, and Sagrada's success has helped Floodgate to become a well-known and trusted publisher. All that happened because of Kickstarter and its ability to help publishers to get the word out about their games.