Oct 27, 2021

[Games] The Question of Mythwind

Mythwind Kickstarter

As of the time of this writing, the Kickstarter project for the Mythwind board game has about 5 days to go before the project closes. Given nearly 9,000 backers and has raised almost 10 times their funding goal, it's well on its way to a successful culmination of things. 

And I'm still uncertain if I want to back this project.

So I figured it might be fun to blog about this little conundrum as a nice little change of pace from my monthly reading progress updates. And maybe someone will stumble across this post and share that pivotal piece of advice that will help me decide if I should really get behind this project.

Mythwind is described as  "a persistent-world, asymmetrical and cooperative boardgame where you become a pioneer in a whimsical fantasy world." This is a very clever piece of copy with some interesting tabletop gaming buzzwords baked in but it's hard to pick things apart. So let's use their keywords from the Kickstarter description.

Persistent World is something we better appreciate with legacy-style games and other campaign games where player choices lead to permanent changes to the game state for future playthroughs. This is often done through unique components (e.g. applying stickers or tearing up cards) but this game promises greater replayability. We do like legacy games.

Asymmetrical Characters is something we've seen done very well in games like Root where you have unique factions with discrete paths to victory all competing in the same game. I like games like Root, but admittedly they're a little harder to teach so they don't get as much play.

Cooperative Town-Building is a key part of the game since they want players to work together to improve the shared town board that represents their community. This sounds nice and I'm not against this gameplay mechanic

Emerging Narrative refers to the fact that the game does have a story that we'll get to learn through play. It's common in many legacy games and here it's tied to event cards and things like that. The story is one of the biggest reasons I personally love legacy games, so I'm on board as long as the story is actually good.

Drop-In & Out Play also sounds promising since it makes it more flexible than a standard legacy game. The Stellaris Infinite Legacy board game (which I backed) also promised the same feature so it could be interesting. Campaign games are hard to get a long-term commitment for, so this also sounds promising

What is not a keyword for the game but is part of the description of its mechanics is the fact that the game has no traditional end state or win condition. And that is both the most exciting part of this game but also the scariest. And this is why I remain on the fence. Are we really ready for a board game that doesn't result in a winner? 

The Kickstarter only blipped on my radar over the weekend, and since then I've been allocating a lot of my free time to reading more about the game along with watching different videos either showing the gameplay or discussing the pros and cons of the game. Most of the board game YouTubers have a similar opinion - this game will appeal to a particular type of player and everyone will need to decide for themselves whether or not this sort of gameplay will really appeal to them. And I'm not 100% sure.

It's funny how the videos often compare this game to things like Stardew Valley in terms of it being all about building for the sake of building (or playing for the sake of playing). Ironically enough, the official Stardew Valley board game is a cooperative game with an end goal that you need to hit and thus you still need to win. (And it's pretty random, so it's not that easy to win consistently). Mythwind does have season, town, and character goals to hit, but it's really up to you what you want to do. You can try to hit the goals for a sense of progression, but in the end you could just let the town crash and burn and just live with the consequences. 

I sort of get a vibe similar to the legacy game Charterstone, which we played through all the way to the end. the game had a light pastoral vibe, but ultimately some pretty tight and at times cutthroat worker placement gameplay. I enjoyed the story but it was at times hard to balance with how intense the game was (especially since it was just me and Tobie competing with one another throughout the campaign). So I wouldn't mind a game with a similar setting but less competition involved. But I'm not sure if I'm ready for no one really winning. 

We play a lot of cooperative board games, and the challenge of "beating the board" as it were is a fulfilling driver for these games. But the game potentially has a much lighter touch in this area, so it's going to feel like new territory. But if they craft a strong enough story and the individual character gameplay is compelling enough, maybe it'll all work out? And it's hard to gauge this last bit since the main designer behind the game doesn't exactly have a lot of similar games under his belt. Under his current brand, he's launched 3 Kickstarters but has only really completed one. 

I guess my last concern is the fact that it seems like there's still a LOT of game left for them to develop, even with a December 2022 target release date. They only have firm gameplay videos for 2 of the 4(+1) character types in the game and I'm not 100% clear on how solid the story is or a lot of other bells and whistles. I really wish they had been further along in their development path before they had launched this Kickstarter, but we can't do anything about that now with 5 days left in the campaign.

So am I going to back a game we can't win? I guess we'll find out in a few days. 

[Update] In the end, I backed it. Hope it's worth it!

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