Wordopolis (Kickstarter)

Before we begin, a little bit of history. Way back in the spring of 2015, I was very badly burned by a Kickstarter campaign. The artist of my favourite webcomic had gotten together with a game designer to create a card game set in the world of the comic. The project got tons of money, a prototype was made, and they even went on tour doing a combination of demonstration and playtesting. But there were more and more delays in getting a final product, until the owner of the game company just disappeared, taking the money, the prototype, and the list of backers with him. Since then, I have had some serious trust issues with crowdfunding in general. So the fact
that I am writing this article at all is a big step. I am dipping my toe back into Kickstarter by pledging to a campaign that has a low goal, one that has already been surpassed. It also helped that it is Canadian, and one of my favourite game categories: a word game.

Wordopolis is not a pretty game or a fancy game. It is actually proud to say that it is going to be made of cardboard. “There is no plastic in this game,” declares the designer, “apart from the shrinkwrap.”

When I was young, one of the first board games that my older brother taught me to play was Scrabble. This game reminds me a little of Scrabble, but you don’t have to worry about creating whole words from nothing. Instead, you combine the letter tiles in your hand with the random letters set up in an 8 by 8 grid on the table. You get points for the word that you create, but also for any other words that branch off from it, in any direction. If you miss a word, and your opponent sees it, they get to steal points. So you have to rely as much on your power of observation as you do on your vocabulary. The whole thing reminds me of a combination of Scrabble, another old board game called UpWords, and your basic word search puzzle. If you want to see how the game works, the designer has already created an online version of Wordopolis, demonstrating the solo mode.

After playing a couple of rounds of the computer game, I learned that Wordopolis is more challenging than I first thought. First of all, two letter words don’t count. Second, the connecting words don’t just come off the word you built. They have to include the specific letters that you placed on the board on your turn.

The campaign is as streamlined as the game itself. The funding goal is $500, which has already been surpassed. There are only two reward levels. At the first level, $29 (CAD), you get one copy of the game. At the second level, $56, you get two copies. One thing I found very interesting is the fact that shipping is included in the contribution price; not just within Canada, but around the world. There is one, and one only, stretch goal; but that doesn’t kick in until $10,000. It’s a fabric bag with the game’s name and logo on it. Personally, I think that’s a lot of money for not much of a bonus. There are also two add-ons, which allow you to buy their previously published Caper games. The first, for $40, is Get Adler!, a deduction game set in London. For $52, you get Vertium, a space-themed game that combines exploration, resource acquisition, and combat.

You can back Wordopolis on Kickstarter until Feb 18, 2019.

You can find more about Caper Games online at www.capergames.ca or on Facebook at facebook.com/Caper-Games-441596282627817.