The time has come: Our first game — ICE — will finally be delivering to Kickstarter backers this June, after a several-year development and birthing process! 🥳
Creating the first ever boardgame to feature 5 layers of overlapping tiles was certainly no easy task, as we’ve hinted often in our KS updates. The project — especially as a first-ever game by This Way — was certainly an ambitious endeavor.
Perhaps… a bit too ambitious! 🙈
While we are quite happy with the final product of ICE, it’s more of an expert game — kind of like having a regular game already pre-loaded with a couple of expansions. The cost per unit (especially after the price of materials skyrocketed during the pandemic) was deemed way too expensive to continue making it (as it was) for retail, which means when we eventually reintroduce ICE again for a future campaign (with a new expansion), we will need to completely rethink how we go about offering it.
So when plans began on designing our sophomore project, instead of following the usual path by most boardgame companies (Bigger!! Pricier! More stuff!!), we made a conscious decision to go in a very different direction:
— Less expensive
— Quicker to teach and play.
But we wanted to still keep the fun and innovative experience that people expect from the creators of ICE!
…a tile-laying strategy game with hidden alliances.
At it’s core, FOUNDERS definitely delivers on all of the above points, and we are quite proud of how the base game has turned out. We purposely had a family-weight game in mind, with the idea of future expansions to build upon the base game, for anyone wanting a more rich gaming experience.
But something happened while we were designing and playtesting the early versions of FOUNDERS. As fun as it was for us, and exactly what we had hoped for, we wondered if the people who will get ICE — and fall in love with its complexity and various features — will think that FOUNDERS is perhaps too “light” in comparison? It’s definitely a very different game and experience, and that was intentional on our part. But would fans of ICE be hoping for…. more?
And so we figured it wouldn’t hurt to maybe add a new feature or two to the game. Some new mechanics here, some extra components there…
…what would be the harm, right?? 😉
Well…after we kept doing this (again, and then again, and then again…) we soon found ourselves with another “expert” game, and in the same conundrum as with ICE — an overly ambitious project that was suddenly becoming too complex and too pricey for its own good. We were essentially betraying our initial directive of making a more accessible, more affordable game!
And yet the new stuff we were coming up with was soooo cool, that we weren’t sure we could wait for expansions to introduce them all. But how could we do all this stuff and still have an approachable game that we could sell at retail? And one that’s still considered a family-weight, easy-to-teach-and-play game?
ENTER: THE LEGACY EXPANSION
When the campaign is launched in Summer, there will now be a base game (that is essentially our initial, more simple idea), as well as a separate Legacy expansion (available from the beginning for Kickstarter backers, but perhaps available later for retail) — that essentially brings ALL the cool new ideas and components in a still-easy-to-digest package. When playing the Legacy, you will gradually get introduced to new chapters at the end of each game, instructing you to open a new envelope with more components and/or mechanics — slowly building upon the base game so that players are not overwhelmed with too many rules at first.
(In case you’re wondering, we are completely aware that this might sound very similar to another tile-laying, city-building legacy game by a certain famous German designer. Although we swear this didn’t even occur to us at first, as we had never played that game before developing and coming up with FOUNDERS or the Legacy idea. We have finally played “My City” by Reiner Knizia more recently, after it was brought to our attention, just to make sure we weren’t inadvertently copying anything — and we are quite happy to know that FOUNDERS is going to be a VERY different game and experience, and any comparisons will stop there).
In ICE, we had already introduced a sort of “soft legacy” aspect to the game: When players discover an Edifice tile (from the very bottom layer), that Edifice can have an effect on the next game that they play. We really love this kind of thing, and so the idea of exploring a more developed legacy project was something we got really excited about.
The great thing about the Legacy idea is that it allows us another wonderful opportunity: To introduce players to the rich lore behind the universe we’ve created. FOUNDERS takes place 300 years before the story of ICE, when a small group of Explorers discover a gigantic cave where a massive structure has arisen, radiating light and warmth. It is here where the CryoAchitects Guild — with directives from the Founder’s Council — will slowly start to build The City.
The game will not get TOO bogged down in Lore, and this won’t be a typical storytelling campaign game with numerous branching narratives or anything like that. We’re keeping it very straightforward and simple. After all, we want players to jump in quickly to play each new chapter. But there will definitely be enough story there to make players more involved with what’s happening in the game, and to have a deeper connection with the characters.
With each new chapter in the Legacy expansion, players will jump ahead a bit in time, until the finale chapter (there are 7 major chapters planned for now, which may change), where the timeline will eventually be brought to the “present” time of ICE.
THE MAKING OF A LEGACY
“Let’s make an easier game” we said.
“Don’t complicate production” was our thinking.
Well we sure don’t like to make things easy for ourselves, do we? 😅 😅 😅
But the reality is, it’s going to be easier than we think. The first thing was to make sure we playtested the base version of the game as often as we could, and ensure that the plays were balanced and fun from the start. Introducing more elements slowly by unlocking new envelopes works perfectly for us, because we can approach the design in the exact same way — gradually introducing each new mechanic/component and testing them out rigorously before introducing the next one. It’s a a LOT easier to pinpoint where things work and don’t work well this way, instead of having EVERYTHING all there right from the start — which would have been a nightmare to sort out the weak spots.
There’s another interesting thing we discovered about FOUNDERS while testing it: While it’s much more easier to learn and teach, and quicker to play, the depth of strategy is maybe a little more advanced than ICE. The level of careful planning and deduction is quite strong, and we think gamers who enjoy a more puzzly experience will be quite pleased. 😊
The legacy aspect still introduces some tricky planning for us, though. We can’t just introduce anything we want in terms of new components. At the end of the day, we still want the game and the Legacy expansion to be affordable (and the expansion can’t cost more than the base game itself!). So coming up with the right mechanics, and introducing new components when necessary, has been an interesting balancing exercise.
We wanted each new legacy addition to not only be a fun “module” that slightly alters the game, but to also add to the evolving story behind the Lore. We are currently giving sneak peeks into that Lore on BoardGameGeek (telling the story of the discovery of the cave in reverse chronological order). You can start reading that story HERE, as we lead up to the campaign’s launch — which is now officially July 3rd! (Mark it on your calendars!).
RETAIL, DELUXE AND ONE-BOX PLANS
We wanted to make sure that — unlike ICE — FOUNDERS would be available in retail soon after Kickstarter backers receive it. So having the smaller, more affordable base version of the game made perfect sense.
This means for the Kickstarter, we’ll have a few pledge options available, including:
— FOUNDERS BASE GAME (Retail version. With two possible add-ons: A 5-player expansion with a bigger board, and the Legacy Expansion)
We know what you’re going to say: “Why not a one-box solution for those that plan to get everything?”
Well, because we are planning the base game to be in retail, with the expansions coming to retail later (first 5-player, then Legacy), the game becomes more affordable for us to produce all items together for both retail and Kickstarter, which means the savings can get passed on to you. And the retail plans are definitely to have a base family-weight game, with optional 5-player and Legacy expansions for those that desire a more complex experience. But that’s just for the Standard version which will be available in both places. Since ICE had a Deluxe version, there will also be a pledge for:
— FOUNDERS COLLECTOR BOX (Base + 5-player + Legacy combined – Kickstarter Exclusive)
…and this version will indeed be in ONE box! 🤩
So what will the Deluxe version have? The same great gameplay as the Standard version and both expansions in a single box — but with Deluxe components, of course! (More information on that to come).
Not only that, but as readers of our latest This Way newsletter have learned, we will also be offering one final surprise pledge:
— FOUNDERS COLLECTOR BOX + ICE COLLECTOR BOX (limited to 200 copies).
Yep, that’s right! If you missed out on ICE in the first Kickstarter campaign, this will be your last and only chance to get the original exclusive Collector version of ICE (weighing in at 4kg!). And this pledge will have two-wave shipping, so you can get ICE even sooner! (PLEASE NOTE: The price for ICE will be a little more than what it was during the first campaign, due to the high cost it became to ultimately manufacture it. We will also not be adding ICE as a separate add-on, or in a pledge on its own — so the only way to get it is as a combined pledge with the FOUNDERS Deluxe, to make it easier for us to fulfill).
We had originally planned to sell off the remaining copies of ICE at this year’s Essen Spiel in October, but that was too far ahead in the year, and we knew people would be expecting it to be available with the FOUNDERS campaign. This way people across the globe have a better chance of getting it, and not just Essen attendees. (Though we may have an even smaller supply still left for then).
Again, these are not extra copies we’re manufacturing — this is simply the additional copies we had overprinted from the first run. We know 200 units is a very limited amount, and that there is sure to be some fans who aren’t able to secure a copy in time. We wish we could make enough of ICE for everyone that wants it, but rest assured ICE will return in a future campaign — so if you miss it again for the FOUNDERS launch, you will still have another chance to get it later.
So now that you know how and why we created FOUNDERS as a Legacy game, what would you like to see in it? Let us know on our social media channels!