24 Feb Kickstarter and an Unexpected Surprise
Over the years I have backed a few board game Kickstarter projects, but I do remember a time when I was hesitant to do so. After all, I constantly heard people complaining about the shipment date being prolonged, or the fact that some of these games became available at conventions prior to going to backers, and so on. While it genuinely seemed like people enjoyed all of the perks of the Kickstarter launch methods, I felt that many people had a great disappointment in the logistics of things. For these reasons, I decided I would just wait for games to come to retail before buying them.
For whatever reason, I changed my philosophy over the last year and began backing projects as they came up. Whether it was an expansion for a game I loved or something new entirely, I began taking the Kickstarter launches more seriously and was backing games left and right. Through this process, I found something entirely unexpected: I loved when a game would release later than the projected date. Crazy, right?! Why might this be, you ask? Because a late delivery makes a legitimate surprise out of every package. Just a few days ago, I had a box delivered and genuinely had no idea what it was. I even thought it might be something for work because I didn’t recognize the return address on the package. I immediately opened the box to see a brand-new game, one I was supposed to receive several months ago. I was so excited to see a game in a box that I had anticipated to be containing work-related materials. This made my day because the package was totally unexpected. I was surprised by its arrival, and it made the first playthrough that much better. The game I am referring to is Untamed: Feral Factions.
In this two- or three-player card game (or four to six players if you have two copies of the game), players are competing for dominance by destroying each other’s strongholds. This is initially set up by each player selecting three different animal factions from a pool of nine factions and then shuffling the three chosen decks together. Each faction plays differently and provides a unique strategy. Mixing these various factions together provides a different experience every time. From there, players draw cards and the game begins.
On a player’s turn, they have the option to play animals down into their play area, utilize any card in their hand as power (the resource for playing new cards), or use items for an instant effect. The cards used for power are left in play and can be used continuously throughout the game by exhausting (turning the card sideways to note it’s no longer available until the next round) once they are established in play. Additionally, two cards are drawn at the end of each round, and one card must always be discarded to the support area. The support area is essentially a discard pile that can be utilized to activate particular special abilities by removing cards out of it from the game.
Between the constant need to place a card in the support area and the need for more power to play stronger cards, there are some really difficult decisions throughout the game. Given that there are no cards that simply to provide power or support, you have to decide what valuable card is least desirable in your hand. Given that all of the cards are useful, this choice comes down to evaluating what cards are most valuable in a specific situation. This mechanic alone makes the game compelling.
Another great feature of this game is that the animal factions really feel like the animals they represent. Part of this is the amazing artwork, and part of it is based on the mechanics surrounding each faction. For instance, the rhinos are powerful in attacks, but they can be difficult to play. The chameleons are crafty and sneaky, providing a creative way to play. The rats are easy to play, are powerful in numbers, but seem rather incidental when alone. Each faction has a great flavor and it is easy to see how mixing the decks could create a completely new experience. If you have the opportunity to get this one to the table, I recommend it. In some ways, it feels like a mishmash of a bunch of other games, which makes it familiar—but it places the pieces together in a new way that makes it stand on its own.