Claustrophobia is one of those games that I've always wanted to play but never got around to. The original game came out in 2009, a time when my core boardgame group was really just testing the waters of competitive games, preferring to stick with cooperative games, and the two player only aspect felt like a limiting factor. The passage of time and exposure to a huge variety of boardgames over the years has really expanded my palette for games, but that also means that some of the games I passed on before that I'd like to play are either out of print, prohibitively expensive, or just plain hard to find. Thankfully, come November 6th, Monolith is taking one of the games I've always wanted to play, Claustrophobia, to Kickstarter with an interesting take on production and fulfillment.
Originally published by Asmodee, Claustrophobia is a 2 player asymmetric survival game that pits a group of humans controlled by one player against a horde of nasty demons controlled by a second player. Both versions of Claustrophobia are scenario-based, with the humans determined to complete a task assigned by the scenario while the demon player does everything in their power to stop them. While the old version had a small handful of scenarios, Claustrophobia 1643 is bringing 20 scenarios to the table straight out of the box. Speaking of which, you can take a look at an unboxing of a pre-production copy of Claustrophobia 1643 right here.
Even in pre-production, the components, especially the miniatures, look awesome, and the updated art looks great. I really like the look of the folding boards/dashboards. Monolith could have simply included the demon cards etc, but the various sections all having raised edges should help facilitate gameplay, and should help negate the negative effects of the dreaded mid game table-bump. The inserts for the dashboards are all double-sided as well, accommodating both English and French-speaking players.
Gameplay-wise, Claustrophobia 1643 looks to be very similar to the original, with a few small tweaks to streamline things. You can read more about the specifics of gameplay over on Beasts of War if you aren't familiar with the way the game works. The game has been well received over the years, so keeping things largely unchanged mechanically is almost certainly the right call for Monolith. Monolith has also posted a how to play video, which you can watch right here.
One really interesting aspect of Claustrophobia 1643 is how the Kickstarter campaign is going to work. Instead of the usual method of seeking funding up-front and then using the funds raised to later develop and produce the game, Monolith has already produced the first run of copies for Claustrophobia 1643, and the Kickstarter will be limited to those copies already in existence. Instead of a promise of a future product based on the developer's vision, this campaign is going to be essentially a pre-order system run via the Kickstarter platform with a surprisingly quick turnaround of 6 to 8 weeks expected for delivery. The listed pricepoint is currently set at $79 + $20 or so for shipping.
The Limited Run nature of the upcoming campaign is a unique take on crowdfunding. While 10,000 copies is a sizable print run, Monolith does have plans in place in case demand exceeds the number of copies already produced. If the Kickstarter campaign doesn't chew up the full production run then Monolith will need to find a way to sell the rest of the copies produced already, but if demand is high enough they will run a second, more traditional campaign with a more traditional timeline to fulfill that overflow demand. You can read more about the specifics planned for the Kickstarter campaign, including how Monolith plans to handle demand if it exceeds the number of copies they've already produced, as well as a link to the rulebook over on Monolith's Facebook page.
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All told this new edition of Claustrophobia has me excited to be able to play a game that has always been on my radar yet out of reach. The new components look fantastic, and the short turnaround time means that if you are as excited to try out the game as I am you won't have to wait the typically agonizingly long time that are necessary for the production of most tabletop Kickstarter projects. Generally tabletop companies take to Kickstarter to cover the expensive up-front production cost. Monolith is covering this cost themselves this time around, using the Kickstarter as more of a pre-order program, so it will be interesting to see how well received this project is. Considering the fact that the first edition of Claustrophobia was well received, the promise of a quick turnaround time should help this project do very well.
What do you think about Claustrophobia 1643? Have you played the original? How do you feel about a company producing games before taking it to Kickstarter, rather than waiting on guaranteed funds to sink into production costs?