The Banner Saga Goes The Way Of The Board Game

The Banner Saga [official site], which we once described as “the sort of game that is so thick with lore and small touches that a chap can spend fifteen hours with it and forget entire swathes,” suggesting this long preamble may in fact be necessary for your ancient brain of limited memory capacity, is getting a board game spin-off.

Which is an interesting move, and maybe says more about the status of board games right now than anything else: All of this tabletop stuff, a medium that game companies and media alike have lumped under the umbrella of For Hipsters Only, is totally viable. Especially when you look at tabletop games like Conan, which raked in over $3 million on Kickstarter earlier this year.

The Banner Saga: Warbands [official site] is the work of miniatures board game makers MegaCon Games, with creator Stoic and publisher Versus Evil in tow. MegaCon are an Indiana-based indie team who’ve been toiling away in the world of board game design for a few years now, possibly best known to you as the makers of a space exploration board game called Emergence Event. How exactly Warbands will work isn’t clear just yet, beyond the fact that it’s set in the Banner Saga universe. An upcoming Kickstarter campaign will help fund it along.

15 Comments

  1. tengblad says:

    I’d say MegaCon are best known for Mercs: RECON and Myth. The latter being a bit of a clusterfudge design and rules-wise, which doesn’t get me hopes up for Banner Saga being very good. Which is a shame, as the game would lend itself very well to small-scale tabletop skirmishing.

    • Thurgret says:

      I backed Myth on Kickstarter at the behest of a friend. The view that the rules are a mess seemed to be a common one.

      I never got to see for myself, though. They never sent me the game. No rules, no miniatures, nothing. I emailed them numerous times over the course of months, even using different email addresses to follow up and check they had received my messages. No email was ever replied to. I gather that I wasn’t alone in not getting what I was meant to – my friend didn’t, and a lot of people reported there being whole swathes of miniatures missing from the packages they received.

      If someone wants to support Stoic, I’d guess that putting a pile of loose change in an envelope and sending it off in the post would be more reliable than buying this.

      • jrodman says:

        Kickstarter definitely needs to develop a higher level of accountability around explicitly deadbeat projects like this. It’s one thing for a project to fail, but quite another for them to just not bother to fulfill the rewards when they clearly exist.

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          Aerothorn says:

          Yep! I mean, they’re already legally accountable, and one hopes one of their clients is rich enough to draft a legal letter, but at least Kickstarter could bar from the company from operating future Kickstarters.

          It’d be interesting to hear what Kickstarter support had to say. Did you ever talk to them, Thurgret?

        • gwathdring says:

          You have a contract with the company, effectively, by way of a contract with Kickstarter. The question, I suppose, is whether you have standing for legal action or if that lies with Kickstarter due to their contract with the company that shafted you.

          Kickstarter definitely should be able to do SOMETHING, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect you to take legal actions should they be necessary. Because that’s what it boils down to–what else does “more accountability” mean? What else can they do to the company? They could ban the company from Kickstarter if they get enough complaints, but that’s pretty much it.

          I guess I’m just not sure what you expect them to do. They can’t FORCE the company to give you your stuff. That’s what the legal system is for. All they can do is make sure their contract with the company makes it really damn clear that company owes you your stuff and you have a legal right to it such as it exists.

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            Aerothorn says:

            I mean, I just wrote that – ban the company from Kickstarter.

            Furthermore, you write ” but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect you to take legal actions should they be necessary. ” The problem is that (in the United States, at least) access to the law is not equal; legal stuff costs money, and over small claims like this, the money is inevitably greater than the amount of lost stuff.

            One thing Kickstarter could do is use some of their profits to set up a legal aid fund for actions in small claims courts.

          • jrodman says:

            When it gets to the point where the project has completed, but just neglects to send you your stuff, we’re basically in fraud territory. (Sometimes the project leader is really *brazen* about this. I can think of one RPG project where the guy just said “Yeah, I decided not to fulfill all the backer rewards because it wouldn’t be profitable. Come on, I’m running this like a business so it has to be profitable.) We don’t require that individual purchasers go through extraordinary proceedings to get funds returned. We have small claims, we have credit cards where charges get reversed. There’s really a need for equivalents here.

      • Loimographia says:

        That’s so sad to hear! I loved the Banner Saga and have been thinking about dipping my toes into tabletop gaming so this seemed like a sure-buy for me. Now it sounds like maybe I shouldn’t. . . .

    • slumcat says:

      I was excited about this, until I saw MegaCon mentioned. I backed Myth, and it is indeed a huge Charlie-Foxtrot. Hopefully MGC have learned some game design lessons along the way, but I won’t hold my breath, and I won’t be taking a risk on another Kickstarter from them.

  2. Frank says:

    If it’s just the combat system, I hope they extend it beyond 1v1 and add the new features mentioned for the sequel (destructibles and new objectives).

    I’ve been a huge fan since the MP beta started. And I think there’s little to worry about regarding MegaCon — Stoic designed and playtested the game with pen/paper/board from the beginning, right?

  3. anHorse says:

    Thanks for reminding me that I was going to play the Banner Saga last week

    Spent most of the week wondering what game I’d been meaning to play

  4. gwathdring says:

    The company making the game is most known for Myth which was quite the shitpile by every account I’ve read. The least critical view on it I’ve seen is that it’s a bit of a mess but sort of playable.

    • slumcat says:

      It is playable in the sense that you can get the game out and play… something. Depending on your understanding and interpretation of the rules, you may or may not end up playing a game that you enjoy. You will almost certainly not be playing the game that was (theoretically) intended by the designers, because the rules are that bad. I have yet to play with the revised v2.0 rules, because the initial attempts left such a bad taste with my game group.

  5. jrodman says:

    An xample, that is possibly not ideal. Kickstarter.com could put into the contract terms that the project will make a reasonable effort to deliver reward to every backer, or will be required to return the funds to each backer where such a reasonable effort is not existant.

    At this point when the project goes deadbeat, the legal action to compel payment would be simple and inexpensive, as compared to other legal action.

    With the current situation, I don’t really understand why Kickstarter should get a 5% cut since they’re offering so incredibly little.