Why I’m backing Statecraft

Statecraft is a new political strategy boardgame for 2-6 players that has just launched on Kickstarter… Now if that is not enough to whet your appetite, here’s a little about why I am backing this game…

Statecraft is a new political strategy boardgame for 2-6 players that has just launched on Kickstarter… Now if that is not enough to whet your appetite, here’s a little about why I am backing this game…


I got to try-before-you-buy 

I stumbled across the Inside The Box stand in the NEC at the recent UK Games Expo in Birmingham. They are a small indie company from Oxford (set up for two school friends) and the folks on the stand got us up and running with a demo of the game in about two minutes. I was initially drawn in by the theme and the premise of the game –  you build your own political party and develop a manifesto of winning ideas to gain as many supporters as possible – which on the face of it seems pretty straightforward. However, as the game progresses, your policies start to risk turning off new voters, your politicians get taken down by scandals and some people can’t stomach your tendencies towards monetarist / anarchist / social policy. Kinda like real life, isn’t it? We played an initial 15-20 min run through and this left me wanting more. So much so that I decided to take the risky ‘pre-Kickstarter’ pledge option and shove 20 quid cash into the designer’s hand.

You can check out Edo’s preview of the game here…


Or take a look at the rulebook here…


I’m interested in learning more about the topic 

I studied politics at A-Level and ever since then I have been really interested in the machinations of politics in the UK and around the world. From my quick demo of the game, I noticed the amount of detail included in the game, in terms of naming of policies, grouping demographics and projecting voter tendencies. Luckily, you don’t need to take all of this in on the first play, but I think it’s going to be rewarding to re-play this game and take on more of the fine points around political ideologies and different international political systems.


If you are an educator, Inside The Box are also offering a special Lesson Plan pledge where you can download pre-prepared classroom resources to play the game with students (as a learning tool). I’m looking forward to expanding my political knowledge, taking down governments and working out how unfamiliar strategies are adopted to attract and satisfy voters – all while playing a boardgame! Statecraft looks well researched with a rich and interesting set of source material – definitely something I’d like to invest my time in.


I am keen on the game’s artwork 

As they say in their press release, ITB are bucking the board gaming trend of orcs and wizards (which is now pretty outdated), and I am one of the many folks out there who is really grateful for this (see: my personal mission to make beautiful games >> Waggle Dance!). Zak Eidsvoog‘s illustration and graphic design give the game a minimalist, flat design feel which compliments the theme of the game perfectly. The iconography and layout make everything super clear and I can tell that the artwork has been well tested alongside the game mechanics – great attention to detail and balance of text, gameplay elements and graphic feel/tone.


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Most excitingly, the politicians depicted are a diverse mix of genders and ethnic backgrounds (even if they are relatively conformist in their dress sense – again pretty reflective of real world politics). My party leader is as likely to be a black woman, or an asian man as they are to be a ‘default’ white male – and in the game I am going to choose them on their qualifications and suitability for my cabinet rather than on any token factor. This makes me happy. Very happy.

ITB opened their Kickstarter campaign up to public comments

The new June 2016 campaign is a reboot of a campaign from a few months ago which didn’t quite reach its initial target, even though they had over 200 backers. After that, the company took the brave step of opening up their new campaign to public comments so that potential backers to help tweak and improved the 2nd run of the campaign (#3 in Jamey Stegmaier’s reboot tips list). I think this is a great strategy, as there is nothing more frustrating as a backer (or potential backer) on a crowdfunded project when you feel that there are improvements that could be made to the campaign itself. In the past, I have held off offering any critical feedback or suggestions for improvements as I feel project creators might take this badly. This time, however, Peter and the team were more than happy to incorporate suggestions, hear difficult things and take constructive criticism as well as praise. The new campaign also has a new lower goal of £8500, which they should easily achieve. They were able to do this because they took the innovative step to solicit pre-campaign pledges from those they met at UKGE and other events, raising over £1500.


Statecraft is a game that needs to be made, and would only be possible through Kickstarter 

Every so often, a crowdfunding campaign comes along where I get the feeling that “the world would be better if this thing existed”. This is the case for me with Statecraft. It doesn’t have overt mass appeal. It doesn’t have zombies, miniatures or Cthulhu. It doesn’t have the backing of a giant games company. And the lack of these things, for me, are very attractive qualities. The reason I get so excited about Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general is the potential for it to bring together a community of people who want to make something great happen, against the odds. It is well documented that Kickstarter and other platforms have had a massive effect on re-shaping the landscape of boardgames, with smaller UK indies like Grublin & Tinkerbot Games (who I’ve had the pleasure of working with) being able to compete for shelf space with global names like Hasbro (who have brought you Monopoly & Cluedo), Hans im Glück (Carcasonne, Dominion) or Fantasy Flight (Netrunner, Battlestar Galactica). This means more variety in gameplay and design, more interesting and niche themes, and a greater passion in players for seeking out more original games to spend their time on. As I type this post, Statecraft’s funding total has already shot up from £500 to nearly £2,000 and we’re only in the first hour or so of the campaign’s launch… I think it’s going to be a fun 30 days!!


Join the community

Find out more about Statecraft and back the project here >> http://kck.st/1sDIJiN

Rachel Dobbs is one half of LOW PROFILE, an artist, educator, tinkerer & freelance boardgame art director with Grublin & Tinkerbots Games… currently based in Plymouth, UK.

New to crowdfunding?
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Quick start crowdfunding beginners guide

Check out my recent post on 7 Reasons I Would Back Your Crowdfunding Project for more info on the type of projects I like to back. If you are an artist or arts organisation looking for some help in shaping a successful crowdfunding campaign get in touch to arrange an online Helpout! I also run workshops for students, arts practitioners and arts organisations in creative approaches to crowdfundingcontact me for more details.


Yeah, it could work, but quite a bit more risky for backers! When we had a demo of the game at UKGE, our demo-er gave us the option of pre-backing for £20 cash. This would get us a copy of the game + all stretchgoals and not having to pay shipping (so a few few pound saving off the eventual KS pledge price). I then added my details to a document (via Google Form) that they were using to keep track of pledges collected like this. The benefit to the campaign is that it could then start with a lower funding goal (ie £8,500, instead of £10,000 as £1,500 was collected prior to the KS beginning), and that they could take pledges there and then while demo-ing.

The problem with doing this wholesale / applying it widely to campaigns is the potential for people / potential backers to get ripped off – you are essentially handing over cash to someone you have just met (who is asking you to trust them). Also, to participate in the KS conversation, I then needed to back the project for £1 (not that I really minded!). Obviously, if I wanted to I could pull this pledge back before the end of the campaign and then not be charged more.

I’ve seen a few people run pre-campaign campaigns via Indie GoGo before (on their Flexible Funding, ie not all-or-nothing plan) and there is also John Coveyou’s strategy of getting 100 people to pledge to ‘Back For A Buck’ (referenced here >> http://rachel.we-are-low-profile.com/blog/use-kickstarter-to-create-a-new-community-around-your-project/) which I quite like as a way to get things moving…

What kind of things like this have you tried out yourself Bez?

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