The Kings Armoury is currently funding on Kickstarter but it ends in a few days so if you like what you read you should go and back it very soon!
The King’s Armoury takes the super popular Tower Defence format and translates it to the table top. It’s a great concept, as a coop game it grows more difficult over time, allowing players to slowly learn the rules and how their upgrades effect the game and I was eager to learn more. Are you? Well here is Anne to tell us more.
Tower Defence with RPG Flavour
Hi, I’m Anne, from Gate Keeper Games. I’m the wife of John, who established Gate Keeper Games and created The King’s Armory, which has been on Kickstarter for a couple of months…namely, August and October. Our summer campaign failed, but our October campaign is funded (!) and still going strong. I appreciate this opportunity from Chris to share a bit about the game and what it took to bring it from idea to production.
The King’s Armory is a tower-defense board game that can be played solo or with up to 7 players in its base design (expansions and modules allow for even more players). Games, as you know, are not just a fun activity – they build community. We value this aspect of gaming, so The King’s Armory is particularly good for fostering community and strengthening friendship - it’s 100% co-op. The tough choices are made together, and they can make or break your success – a real winnowing fan for the friendship forge, if I may be excessively analogous (John likes capital letters; I like analogies!). It also allows for scaling, or adding/removing players mid-game without disrupting game balance. That means that, on game night, if Alex has to leave early because he’s got that confounded 5 am wake-up time, or if Pete arrives late because, well, Pete always arrives late, there’s no need to worry. The game will go on.
TKA with friends Game*
Co-op might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but everyone who’s played it so far has loved it. I like Undead Viking’s statement - When I actually stop and high five somebody, I can tell I'm into the game and I can tell I'm enjoying the heck out of it. It’s an exciting game! In fact, John began looking into publishing The King’s Armory because we played a slightly more rudimentary version of it during one of our RPG game nights and our friends said it was so fun that it was publish-able. John’s got a “think it: do it” attitude, so he was busy founding Gate Keeper Games the very next day.
Game Night – no one left early :-)
So, how can a tower defense game on the tabletop be exciting? Well, it’s a variety of elements, but at foundation, it has to be a functioning, balanced game. John has fashioned his own RPG for years and has led many a campaign, so he really knows how to balance a game. He puts a ton of thought into it, adds some research, and engages his (in my opinion, awesome) right-brained, math-oriented, Excel-formula-obsessed mind together with his left-brained, creative, story-telling mind to create reliable, logic-meets-fantasy scenarios. Perfecting the game has been a part of our life as long as I’ve known him…I remember, when we took a 10-day road-trip to move across the country back when we were first married in ‘06, he was working on game rules with regard to animal stats and would ask fun questions like, “How does the speed of a cheetah compare with a tiger?...human?...What about a goblin?” “Which snake is the most poisonous? Is that snake’s poison worse than, say, a black widow’s?” “Which do you think would win in a fight– a polar bear or an Ettin?” And if you challenge John mid-game (“That is totally not fair. Why does it take me 6 APs to load my weapon?!”), he will take your objection into consideration…but almost inevitably he has already processed every possible scenario and his original numbers turn out to be the most accurate.
All this to say, The King’s Armory is balanced, which removes all of the angst that comes when you’re about to execute an effective, exciting plan and it doesn’t work for a stupid reason due to flawed game design. In this case, if it doesn’t work, it’s for a good reason.
Plans not working is another part of what makes The King’s Armory exciting. You can lose against the game, and it’s truly not over until it’s over. Foes come in waves just like in online tower defense, and though their strength and quantity will stay within a certain range based on which wave you’re on, their qualities and capacities are unpredictable. Each player plays a Hero, who strategizes with the other Heroes to plan the defeat of the coming wave through strategic use of tower placement, recruited Hireables, special Equipment, Reinforcements (unique events or entities that should be saved for just the right time), and the Heroes’ skills. As a team, you figure out your strengths and needs and build the best scenario for taking on the foes when the next wave comes. Because the foes are formidable and the available resources are powerful but limited (purchased with Coin earned from the wave before), the stakes are always high. So, eyes are wide with expectation while dice are rolled and successes lead to high-fives, especially in those later rounds.
Good characters are another one of the game’s strengths, and one of my favorites. The tower defense structure is enhanced with some RPG flavor, so you’re not just good guys fighting bad guys. You’re really fun, dynamic personalities working together to defeat ruinous and obnoxious enemies who have their sights set on a real, tangible goal that will truly mean your victory or theirs (the Armory and what’s inside). The Hireables have names, and if you’re like our gaming group, plenty of personality, especially as they build their rolling reputation. (We found in one of the game-testing games that Becky made an awesome Level I Archer, but her comrade Beth was awfully pathetic.) The Heroes are cameos from our years-old RPG and each has a unique back-story that will be revealed fully in the manual. Alternatively, you as players can apply back stories to the mysterious sorceress, the elderly mage with the huge grin, the lighthearted healer, the psionic warrior and his griffon, and -if we meet our stretch goal- the “piratess” with a parrot named Caltrop.
I mentioned in the beginning that we had a failed Kickstarter over the summer. Our learning curve over the past several months has been incredible. We like board games, and John likes numbers and business, but that’s only the beginning of what it takes to successfully fund. To win the game that is Kickstarter, you need not only the Game Creator Hero, the Hold-the-Homefront Heroine, and the Epic Board Game Equipment Card; you need several Level 3 Artist Hireables, enough Coin to pay them, the Kickstarter-exclusive “Special Aid” Reinforcement card that allows you to recruit friends, close and distant relatives, alumni, your neighbor’s little sister’s cousin, and all of his friends, to help you with anything from web design to game manual review to dressing up as “Robby” the Level 1 Soldier; the Internet-Networking Competence Equipment Card, the International-Shipping-Learning-Curve Equipment Card, and last but not least, plenty of other Heroes, like the Successful Kickstarter Mentor and the TKA Enthusiast Backer…from Florida (you know who you are!). Thanks be to God, the ultimate Designer, plenty of “good rolls” (Divine Providence and virtue-building grace during the hard moments), lots and lots of hard work, and the occasional nap-on-the-floor-out-of-sheer-exhaustion, we were able to successfully fund the re-boot. “This is your game” is our tagline because the game is truly the product of God’s gifts and countless generous and talented contributions. We’re blessed to have seen it unfold.
John and “Robby” at our TKA Launch Party
So that’s a bit about The King’s Armory, engineering exciting table-top tower defense, and what it’s like to fail and fund a Kickstarter. Thank you so much for reading, for supporting, and for checking out The King’s Armory! This is your game.
-Anne, the Gate Keeper’s Wife
*Game featured: Carson City; Xavier Georges, Designer; multiple publishers