Originally created as a personal side-project by artist Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop was first published as a narrative art book in 2014, followed by Things from the Flood in 2016. In 2017, Free League Publishing (who also published the art books) released Tales from the Loop as a tabletop roleplaying game, and less than a week ago Amazon Prime Video released an 8 episode television interpretation of it. Those are a Tale for another day, because the chapter we want to talk about is the Kickstarter campaign for the Tales from the Loop – The Board Game.
The board game takes much of its inspiration from the previous RPG, where players will take control of diverse group Kids, as they navigate their everyday lives and the Mysteries that come from living above The Loop. In this alternate 1980s version of Scandinavia, robots are as common as videogames are for us and more common than videogames were in the ’80s. “The Loop” is the local name of the world’s largest particle accelerator built decades earlier, under the Mälaren Islands in Sweden. I’m likely going to be discussing the setting ad nauseam in the coming weeks, but for now, you’ve got the important bits.
If you’ve ever watched a movie with kids from the 1980s, you know that they had all the freedom to get into Trouble, as long as they were home in time for dinner. Here, that plays out over the course of two weeks, with Kids still going to school during the day, trying to solve whatever Mystery is happening in the chosen scenario after school, and yes, getting home in time for dinner.
The School phase of the game is mostly upkeep actions. The Kids hear new rumours about the weird stuff happening, Machines and other non-player components move, that sort of thing. After School the kids can Adventure, spending their time (literally, as a finite game resource) moving around town to investigate what’s happening and get home. As long as a Kid has left themselves enough time to get home for dinner, they are rewarded or punished before doing their homework, chores, and heading to bed. They ARE still Kids, after all.
The artwork for the Kids and archetypes are, again, taken from the RPG. and are represented on the board with typical cardboard standees. The non-player components, like different robots, use beautifully sculpted miniatures. Roughly 24 hours in, and the campaign is just shy of hitting it’s third stretch goal, with the fourth being an add-on scenario along with a new miniature to go with it.
Pledge levels are simple. Standard or Deluxe, with the main difference being that the Deluxe game comes with prepainted miniatures and the standard does not. It’s 599kr (SEK, Swedish Krona) for the Standard and 999kr for the Deluxe edition. That’s a fairly hefty jump in price (~$55 CAD) to get the six included minis painted, but the painting job looks solid, with a good level of detail. Unless it’s clarified in the comments section somewhere, there is not currently any indication on whether unlocked add-on minis will come painted for the Deluxe backers. There is also a 299kr add-on for an extra set of four unpainted minis, for the people who want to paint them on their own.
The gameplay seems to be a fairly solid distillation of the plot concepts from the RPG. The minis and other components look great. Shipping estimates, in US(?) dollars, are provided. It’s often hard to judge the value of shipping for a game, but it doesn’t appear to be out of line with other campaigns. They do note that their team is still safely working from isolation and that the current pandemic should not impact the miniatures production. The final fulfilment date is just over a year away, and they do have a decent track record for delivery, so this seems like a safe campaign to back right now.