Today I decided to focus on a single title, rather than a broad scope of Kickstarters. Let’s talk about Dice Theme Park:
The KS campaign for Dice Theme Park from Alley Cat Games ended after nearly a month (April 26,2021 to May 20, 2021), raising around $228,000. This is a game for 1-4 players ages 14+ and lasting 75-90 minutes.
If you backed this on Kickstarter, you will get the exclusives of screen printed meeples and a Kickstarter promo pack, both of which will be available for purchase later from Alley Cat Games website and conventions.
This game (Dice Theme Park) is a standalone sequel to Dice Hospital, and the campaign also offered a new expansion for Dice Hospital:
For fans of Dice Hospital, this is a roll-and-write for 1-6 Players in the same universe, and I’m fairly certain it is a standalone, though I did not see that word on the campaign.
Anyway, this post is about the campaign for Dice Theme Park!
In this game, players take turns drafting trams of dice passengers based on the colors and numbers of the dice that best align with their goals. Each die represents a patron at your theme park, and as they ride rides, their enthusiasm for the park wanes (probably due to those absurd lines to wait in before experiencing the ride….I don’t know about you all, but sometimes I’ve seen people wait in line for 4 hours for a 30 second ride.) As their enthusiasm wanes, the park goers leave the park. Throughout the game, players have options to add things like merchant stands and improvements to rides to make them able to be used again in the round or generate more money or victory points. At the end of the game, the player who has generated the most victory points has built the best part and is the winner.
The pledge levels for this campaign were:
1 GBP / $2 USD — PM access
39 GBP / $56 USD — Game and KS exclusives
58 GBP / $82 USD — Game and KS exclusives and Deluxe Add-Ons
70 GBP / $99 USD — Everything New (Game + KSE + Deluxifications +Dice Hospital ER + crossover promo pack
160 GBP / $226 USD — Everything (previous pledge + Dice Hospital + DH Deluxe Add-ons + DH KS promo pack)
This one has been a very very difficult pass for me—not be confused with “hard pass”, which I think actually should be changed to “easy pass” because the decision to pass on it is easy? But then also don’t confuse that with EZ Pass, which is a device that you drive with to go through tollways….But maybe it’s “hard pass” because the speed at which you pass it (maybe using your EZ Pass) is fast so when you crash, it’s a hard crash? English is weird.
What I was initially going to say is that it is a difficult decision for me to take a pass on this game. I like it A LOT. I think this has a lot of things that I love in a game: replayability, variability, strategy, drafting, amusement park theme, unique mechanics, and a bit of luck. I love the “dice cascading” mechanism (the die ticking down a pip each time that patron rides a ride, unless an ability prevents that) because I think that is accurate to how things are at an actual amusement park. Between the long lines for the rides, the high price of food and games, and the traffic to get to an amusement park, I think that most people go because of nostalgia and then slowly realize it isn’t as great as they remembered. Having said that, I love going to amusement parks; but I can be realistic about it as an adult and recognize that while thoroughly enjoyable, there are some downsides to them as well.
I love amusement parks so much, actually, that I intentionally seek out board games that are themed with amusement parks. I currently own Danger Park, Wishland, UnFair, and FunFair (pnp). I plan to get Meeple Land, Alan’s Adventureland, and Steam Park, and possibly others. In fact, Dice Theme Park was on my list of games to look for and I planned on backing it when I first heard about it. And even when the Kickstarter launched, I saw it on Day 1, and was excited for it. It has a theme I like; it has cool mechanics; it is puzzley; I can see myself getting lots of plays out of it. So what went wrong?
For me, there were two issues I had with this game/campaign. One was incredibly minor, and the other was important enough that I didn’t back it (though actually am still considering it once they open the PM). The minor issue is that I am not a huge fan of the art that I’ve seen. This might even be an unfair criticism because I acknowledge that the art in the KS campaign and in the videos that I watched may have been prototype art and not final. Granted, I still wasn’t a huge fan of the art style. I can’t say whether it’s good art or bad art because that’s pretty subjective, but as for me and my tastes, I didn’t care for the art at all. However, that alone is not a reason to dissuade me from backing a game that I otherwise am wanting and thinking I will like.
The big factor for me in the decision to pass on this Kickstarter is that I am not in England, and there is no good pledge level for me. That might initially sound like it doesn’t make sense, but let me explain. My personality is one a completionist nature, and when I want something or am into something, typically I want it all. So I usually only back at the all-in level of a campaign that interests me. Yes, I know I don’t need all the deluxe add-ons for every game, and of course I’m aware that not all extras have gameplay elements. But they sure look nicer on my table and feel better for me in my hand, and everyone should be able to play and enjoy the games they like and how they want to enjoy them. And I also consider those add-ons as tools that help me get more into the game. For example, minis for me feel like when I pop-up book as a child. It helps the content come to life more for me. Having said that, the all-in in this campaign is a no-go for me because while I love the look and concept behind Dice Theme Park, I have zero interest in Dice Hospital. Maybe it’s a fantastic game, and truly, I’ve heard great things, but the theme doesn’t interest me in the slightest, and because the theme doesn’t interest me in the slightest, I am out on that game. For me, if I cannot connect to the theme of a game, it’s not a game for my collection (though I’m always willing to play a game with someone who wants to play a game from their collection and is willing to teach me).
The next highest pledge level also isn’t for me because I still have no interest in the Dice Hospital ER roll-and-write for the same reason, thematic disconnect.
The next pledge level is just the Dice Theme Park game with KSE and deluxe add-ons. This is the pledge level I was considering backing. And I would certainly be willing to pay $60 for that pledge level; that makes sense to me. However, it’s 58 GBP, which makes it $82 for me, and frankly I just don’t think it looks like an $80 game, especially when I didn’t find the “deluxe add-ons” all that appealing. I didn’t care about the monorail minis, at all, or the monorail inserts, so that leaves me with 6 tiles, 18 cards, and 48 tokens (cardboard? it’s not clear on the campaign) for an extra $25. I think that is outrageously overpriced, in the first place. My second problem with this pledge level is that there is “Crossover expansion pack” that has a card for this game (that I would be interested in) as well as a bunch of stuff for the DH:ER game that I have no interest in. I think that was kind of rotten to force people to buy content (and a game) that they might not even have any interest in, just so they can get all the content for a game that they might be interested in. The corollary applies to those who only want Dice Hospital but not Dice Theme Park (though this was the campaign for Dice Theme Park after all).
Then, the final pledge level (besides PM access) gives me the game and the KSE for 39 GBP. And again, I would absolutely pay $40 for this game. But again, because of the exchange rate, that is around $60 for me. And I simply do not think this game looks like a $60 game, especially when missing out on all the two expansions from the deluxe pledge. If there was a pledge level that was all of the Dice Theme Park stuff (including that card in the crossover pack) with none of the Dice Hospital stuff for around $60 (with maybe $10 shipping or less), I would definitely have backed it. But in its current form, there is no good pledge level for me for the content I want nor for the pricing I’m willing to pay for it. And for those reasons, I chose to pass on Dice Theme Park, despite being very drawn in by it.
What about you? Did you pass on this one or did you back it? What level and why?