Kickstarter. You either love it, don’t trust it, or have only vaguely heard of it. Regardless of your opinion, crowdfunding has changed the face of business across the world. This is especially true in two separate but closely linked fields: video games and board games. Kickstarter has brought us Dark Souls: The Board Game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and sadly Mighty No. 9. Thankfully, the outstanding successes far outweigh the failures and that leads us neatly on to our focus for today: Hand of Fate: Ordeals.
Hand of Fate: Ordeals is the latest project from Rule & Make, in partnership with Defiant Development. Rule & Make are a successful board games and accessories producer. Defiant Development is an Australian games developer most famous for Hand of Fate. They are currently working on the shockingly titled Hand of Fate 2. More importantly however is the fact that the Hand of Fate: Ordeals Kickstarter finished with 1635% of it’s initial funding goal. That’s A$490,629 of a A$30,000 target. What made this campaign so successful?
Firstly, the existing fans of the Hand of Fate video game franchise mustn’t be underestimated. Indeed, when I asked Rule & Make what they thought had made their Kickstarter a success they said:
“Working with a known quantity in the Hand of Fate universe, one that already had a legion of passionate fans around the world, definitely played a part in the reach and scope of the campaign.”
When you look at the numbers, there should be no surprise that Hand of Fate: Ordeals did so well. SteamSpy estimates that there are 487,338 owners of Hand of Fate through Steam. Obviously, that doesn’t include any owners on PS4 or Xbox but Defiant claim there have been 1.9 million downloads across all formats. That scale of existing fanbase makes it clear that the lore and universe created in the video game have an astonishing appeal. Indeed, this is a game which has a beautifully dark backstory and Hand of Fate is brave enough to let you craft your own story through your interactions in the game. Even further than that, Hand of Fate’s background is a reward for those that search for it but isn’t a weight around the players neck. Prime board game conversion material then.
Secondly, the gameplay of Hand of Fate is perfect for a transformation into a physical format. Hand of Fate plays as a deck-building card game. Your character plays against the mysterious Dealer. As he deals cards you are faced with either an RPG style conversation with an NPC, an opportunity to purchase new cards to improve your deck, or a physical encounter for you to overcome. Each and every interaction feels valuable and rewarding, meaning you never get a sense of going through the motions. At the same time, they feel weighty with a real cost to go with the reward. As you battle on, you improve your own deck, growing the chances of drawing better equipment and more favourable events on your turn. It works as a rogue-like, meaning no two runs through the game will be the same. For a board game, this replayability is essential. Cards, tokens, unpredictability, and the ever pleasing clang of loot are the key elements behind the appeal. Effectively, Hand of Fate: Ordeals will be the board game version of an awesome video game card game.
Finally, Hand of Fate: Ordeals comes along at just the right time. Solo and competitive play had been the trend when it came to gaming. In the last few years, the popularity of co-operative gaming has reached a peak. Tom Clancy’s The Division, Rainbow Six: Siege, Pandemic, and Mysterium are core examples of this. Hand of Fate: Ordeals can be played with up to 4 other people, including the intriguing option for one of you to play as the Dealer. The original Hand of Fate video game is a purely single player experience which meant that, at best, couch co-op was a pass-the-controller affair. The option to delve into a fun yet complex world, ripe for joined adventures is something Defiant are trying to rectify in Hand of Fate 2. Rule & Make also saw the untapped potential, of which there was evidently a very deep well, and have reaped the results.
Regardless of the precise reasons, Hand of Fate: Ordeals will go down in history as one of the quickest funded Kickstarter projects after meeting their goal in six hours. With that sort of impassioned community behind it, plus the support of two superb developers, this is a board game that video gamers need to keep an eye on. If this is any indication, we may be seeing many more of these transformations in the future.