Publishing lessons

Board games & crowdfunding

Helping people get to the fun

17th February 2022 2

You’re sitting at home and the doorbell goes, a giant box gets handed to you, and you rush to open it. It’s that latest Kickstarter you backed, and the box is filled with goodies that you can’t wait to play!

Then it hits you, what do I play first?

So many boxes

When I first got into board gaming I would buy a game, receive a single box which I would open, read the rulebook, and be able to play. But these days with crowdfunding projects it’s not uncommon to receive multiple extras.

It’s made even worse with reprint campaigns as you know the game is popular and you want to jump straight in with everything available. Now you’re not only getting the game with extras, but you’re likely getting multiple new expansions as well.

This situation describes the latest Kickstarter for The Isle of Cats. There are 3 new expansions which add to the base game, promos, and 2 original expansions. If you’ve not played the game before that’s a lot of boxes and to be frank, it can be overwhelming.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this recently and will be trialling a new idea.

What to play

My goal is always to break down barriers and help people get to the fun, I want to provide my community with tools and information to get playing as quickly as possible.

To this end, I have created a what to play graphic that I will be sending out in a Kickstarter update as people start to receive their rewards.

I don’t expect everyone to read it, but for those who do I believe it will help take away some of that original overload of information and give them the best way forward to enjoy the game. As a bonus, it will also encourage them to break down the new content into multiple plays and give them more reasons to get the game out again in the future.

By breaking combinations of expansions down into complexity levels, and using the family and standard modes as a benchmark. This graphic should hopefully make it easy for people to know what to play next, and prepare them for the increase in complexity.

Helping people play

I’m always looking for new ways to help people play my games and while this graphic will only really be used for the Kickstarter, I believe this is where the vast majority of “all-in” customers come from. Outside of crowdfunding I’ve found it more common for people to buy just the base game and perhaps 1 expansion, as they decide if they like the game enough to fully invest.

Have you seen anyone else creating content to help people play their games?

I’ll be continuing to explore this idea and sharing more thoughts in future posts.

Frank West

Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!


  • Meeple Shelter

    18th February 2022 at 5:12 am

    Nice! It’s a good way to ease people into the game and let them ramp up progressively!


    • Frank West

      18th February 2022 at 11:08 am

      I certainly hope so, it will be interesting to see how many people decide to use it!


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