ArchRavels (Kickstarter)

Outsiders might find this surprising, but there is a strong connection between geeks and crafting. It could come from years of sewing costumes and creating cosplay props, but I also think that we need something to do with our hands while we are binge watching our favorite shows. That’s why I thought it was cool that XYZ Game Labs is coming out with a crafty themed board game, called ArchRavels. This is a fun idea, that involves all the stages of crafting: shopping for supplies, working on patterns, and finishing projects. Each player also chooses one of four characters, who will be familiar to anyone who crafts in real life.

Even based solely on the “coming to Kickstarter” preview, there were already things that got me excited. First of all, there’s the characters, each one matching a familiar crafting trope. Rebecca, the one who would rather shop than create; Derrick, the one who lives to build things; Neeha, who quests for the perfect colour; and finally Ted, who loves to make his own crafting material from scratch. And it isn’t just their personalities and special abilities that are diverse. Not only do we have both male and female crafters, of varying ethnicity, but Derrick, the most skilled maker, is also pictured in a wheelchair. I like seeing that level of inclusion. (I want to add that as of launch, each character type now has both a male and female version.)

Speaking of pictures, the imagery that they have revealed so far is amazing: bright colours, adorable projects, smiling faces. The game components of the standard edition are some of the best I have ever seen, and the Deluxe goes that extra mile. The campaign page includes detailed rules of the game, which sounds fairly complex, involving resource acquisition, set collection and order fulfillment. There is also a strong element of time management, since even though there are four actions a player can take (shop, craft, combine and exchange), you can only perform one action per turn, with some exceptions depending on your character’s special abilities. Points are earned by completing projects, but points are lost for not completing a project, or for wasting resources. There are also random Events that can quickly change the game.

I checked the campaign page only a few hours after launch, and they had already achieved almost 200 backers and almost $10,000 (USD) in pledges. Probably because, when the game was being previewed at Gen Con, they offered a $5 “casting on” pledge discount for people who made a pre-order deposit. By nine pm on the second day, the base campaign goal of $24,000 was completely funded. Stretch goals have been confirmed, but not announced at the time of writing. 

 There are three levels of pledge rewards. For a minimum of $10 (USD), you get the Crafter’s Stash: a canvas tote bag featuring the game logo, a collection of 10 colourful postcards, and an enamel pin of either the game logo, or one of the in-game projects: a unicorn, an octopus or a “snugglesaurus”. For $35, you get one standard edition of the game, which includes chipboard game boards and item tokens, wooden resource tokens, plastic yarn bowls, a tray to hold everything, and any earned stretch goals. For $59, you get a copy of the Deluxe Edition of the game, which adds wood bowls, “realistic resources” (ie tiny resin yarn balls!), a neoprene mat, and of course any earned stretch goals. 

Instead of having Add-ons during the campaign, backers have the option of adding more pins or extra copies of the game after the campaign is finished. The shipping costs are quite reasonable, with some limitations. The Crafter’s Stash ships free within the US, or for $10 to Canada, the UK, the European Union, Asia, and Australia/New Zealand; but will not be shipped anywhere outside that list. The standard and deluxe game ships for $7 within the US, $15 to Canada, UK and EU, $20 to Australia/NZ and $35 to “the rest of the world”. They mention that backers who order extra copies of the game will get an unspecified discount on shipping.

XYZ Game Labs’ campaign for this amazing game continues until October 19, 2019.

You can find XYZ Game Labs online at xyzgamelabs.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/xyzgamelabs.