Harebrained Schemes launches Golem Arcana miniatures game on Kickstarter

By Polar_Bear
In Crowdfunding
Sep 11th, 2013

Harebrained Schemes has launched their Kickstarter campaign for Golem Arcana, a digitally-enhanced miniatures skirmish game.


From the campaign:

Golem Arcana combines miniatures with mobile technology to deliver a tabletop game that’s easy to learn and fast to play.

We love tabletop miniatures games, but they can be a huge investment of time and effort. With so many games – both digital and physical – competing for our precious gaming time these days, it can be hard to commit to miniatures games that require hours upon hours of leafing through sourcebooks, measuring distances, and debating the rules. And while painted figures are cool, not everyone has the time or materials to paint an entire army of miniatures.

That’s why we’re creating Golem Arcana – the digitally-enhanced miniatures game.

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  • Disgruntled Goat

    If all of the things they list as being problematic about miniature gaming are an issue for you, you should find a hobby other than miniature gaming.

    • Soulfinger

      On the nose.

  • blkdymnd

    This is pretty much an advanced Ex Illis in a nutshell. The mobile integration and resolution of Ex Illis was something I enjoyed. It was a nice change from memorizing a rulebook and having ruling arguments. I would love to see an option of building and painting your own in this game though.

  • PanzerKraken

    This seems to be much better implementation of what Ex Illis attempted.

  • blkdymnd

    Agreed, it’s why I said an advanced version. For being the prototype in a limited mobile environment at the time, Ex Illis did some good things. I think this game has the potential to do way more. I’ll seriously consider it.

  • Ghool

    We all remember what happened with Ex Illis, right?

    Technology moves and advances way to fast for something like to be viable for more than a couple of years. This is even more relevant with a newer technology like iPads and tablets.

    I’ll give this thing two to three years before it’s belly up and no one is playing it should they meet their funding goal.

  • blkdymnd

    Ex Illis didn’t fail due to technology, they failed due to funding. Their technology is still viable four years later. If Kickstarter had been around then, might have been different.

    • Ghool

      They failed due to funding.

      Because something like this doesn’t only require a huge some of money to start. It requires huge sums of money to keep it alive and viable.

      We’ll see in a couple of years where this game is at if they make their $500k goal.

      • blkdymnd

        I can’t disagree with that. If I get a good two or three years of playing this game as its advertised, that wouldn’t be a disappointment. Unlike in Ex Illis time three or four years ago, there would be investors unafraid of backing something like this if it proves to be viable, where three or four years ago, unless you were slingshotting birds across your tablet, you had issues getting noticed.

      • PanzerKraken

        That’s the point of using Kickstarter for these games. It used to be that games had to compete for shelf space and get distributor support. Both of which were resistant to trying new games, so even if players might like the game, they often never got a chance to buy the product.

        Instead of depending on the distributor based system, kickstarter gets all purchases up front and directly into the hands of the game developers/publisher with no middleman. All these kickstarted mini games are not targeting the mass market anymore, they have found a way to make money and be successful selling package deals on kickstarter. No longer do they have to continually pump out new product to inflate their sales potential at retail level or compete with the big games for shelf space. Now the product goes direct to the fans.

        A problem many miniature games have suffered is having to wait for funds to support their product. They put out a game, but they have to wait till they sell X amount of units before they can fund the production of the next wave. And it’s a cycle most small companies have a hard time doing. With Kickstarter, they can entice customers to fund up front entire years worth of product development. No having to wholesale masses of product to wholesale distributors at a major mark down to only see a shred of the profits.

  • Carlo Chaimo

    I think the funding issue was for miniatures, though, the game itself still exists even though the company is dead or essentially dead. I’m also not seeing the “technology moves and advances way too fast ” argument. You can still play Ex-illis, they still support that end (although the store seems to have disappeared). I played a game with my son last week, so I’m not seeing the argument that it isn’t viable after “x” amount of years. Maybe they’ve dropped some of the features? I don’t know about that, but you can definitely still set up and play the game.

    But I love Ex-Illis, and I love the whole hybrid idea as another style of play in addition to more traditional games that I play like DL and Norsgard.

    • Carlo Chaimo

      Sorry, my above comment was supposed to be in reply to Ghool.

    • Ghool

      The thing is though, pre-painted miniatures are horribly expensive, and that’s where the huge amounts of capital come in. In order to keep the game viable, there needs to be a constant stream of releases.

      This also requires frequent software upgrades, and updating the back end of the game in case new abilities and rules are added.

      The reason I say that technology moves too fast is that each time the software gets an update, it needs to then be backwards compatible…and I know first hand how that sometimes works out. If you take a look at any of the newer games for any mobile device, older (meaning even 6+ months old) tablets/phones often have a hard time running the software, or may even make the device obsolete in running it.

      But hey, maybe I’m just an old fart, and it’s time to move on. But, any game that requires me to make an additional purchase upwards of $700 just to play is going to be a very hard sell for me personally.

      I also didn’t know Ex Illis still had their servers up. Even so, having to use a separate device just to play is too much for me. Give me a rulebook and dice, and I can still play in the dark, when the power is out, or after the apocalypse.

      • blkdymnd

        But there you go, you’re probably not in their market. If you don’t own a mobile device, then yeah, I could easily see you take a pass. But many of us made the $700 entry (some wifi android devices are pretty cheap though) already for other reasons. So I’m paying $100 for a new game that integrates it.

  • MadNes

    I wanted to like Golem Arcana because I was a HUGE fan of Ex-Illis.

    I had a demo at GenCon and wasn’t thrilled. The stylus is fidly, especially in instances where there are several models in a one area. Also, the microdots are on the front of the base, instead of the back, so you are constantly having to reach around the model. There was also a reference card with microdots that you used for some special actions, which didn’t make sense to me. At that point using the touch screen on the mobile device seems to make more sense.

    I didn’t see anything beyond very basic mechanics, but that may be because it was an early demo.

    IMO, this is a step back from Ex-illis, but I will definitely keep an eye out, hoping I’m wrong.

    • ranen_hbs

      Hey MadNes, community manager at Harebrained Schemes here! Sorry to hear you weren’t thrilled with the game.

      The final stylus will work much better than the prototype. Some of the special actions, like getting map info, will be executable by tapping with the stylus and holding down the info button.

      One of the key things we learned from the playtests was that the names of the figures need to be much more accessible. That means, among other things, making the bases thicker and printing names in multiple locations.

      All in all, the game will assuredly undergo a number of changes before its completion. We hope that the completed game will be much cooler and more complex than the alpha version 🙂

  • wildger

    I fully support this project. I feel that this is the way of future gaming. Whether the current generation will embrace it or the technology is not yet ready remains to be seen. Ex illis is a very good game. It failed not due to the concept but mainly because players were not ready and the lack of funding. It does not work well with a PC laptop but ipad/iphone. Yet, when the new version of iOS came, they could not afford to update. There was no android version. The application is very rigid and restricted, no chance for multiplayer or distant play. You also cannot freely choose your army since everything needs to be built ahead of time. Exchanging figures with another player is a nuisance. On the tabletop side, Ex illis represents a massive battle environment rather than a simple skirmish. Not too many players are able to have the time to paint up all these figures. Besides, the miniatures are not outstanding in sculpture. In the end, it failed in many fronts. It does not imply that future games with similar concept will automatically fail. Things will keep not improving.

  • Grim6

    I have backed the game and I wrote Harebrained scheme asking about the software and what they plan to do with it. One thing they mentioned is that when they had made the Shadowrun Returns “we released the editor we used to build the game and are really supportive of the community creating UGC. Doing the same with Golem Arcana would feel very familiar. It’s definitely something for us to think about.” I think it would be interesting to see how they might be able to create a framework that players can change or create new things with, whether it’s scenarios, models / characters, or even fingers crossed home brew AI.