To Deluxe Or Not To Deluxe, Is That A Question?

Maybe the title of this post should have been, “Too Deluxe Or Not Too Deluxe?” 😀

I purchased two games recently. One cost close to $200 because I sprang for the super deluxe aka “Legendary Edition.” On the other I spent under $40, despite the existence of a $100 upgraded version. Why did I spend so much on one game and not on the other? It wasn’t because of budget. It was about consistency.

This is the tale of two recent Kickstarter campaigns: Dwellings of Eldervale and Honey Buzz. First, a bit of a disclosure note: I have not played either of these games as I write this. This post is more about the decision process of whether to buy a game, and if so, which version. Spoiler alert: I bought both, but different “trim levels” and for different reasons.

Dwellings of Eldervale Box Art
Dwellings of Eldervale
I will start with Dwellings of Eldervale. This game was successful…they raised over half a million dollars during their campaign due to contributions from over 5,000 backers. If I do some quick math…

$542,794 / 5,541 = $97.95

So on average a backer pledged roughly $100 for this game. As it turns out, there were (conveniently) three different pledge levels: Standard, Deluxe, and Legendary. Oooh, “Legendary” sounds interesting! we’ll get there in a minute. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.

At the $69 Standard pledge level you got a board game that came with cardboard tokens, custom wooden meeples for the various player factions, and cardboard standees to represent the monsters. Each player faction was to be stored in their own tray (custom formed by Game Trayz, who is becoming a bit of a fixture in Kickstarter games these days). The game came with thick cardboard tiles and several decks of cards. Not bad!

At the $99 Deluxe pledge level you received a few upgrades. In addition to cardboard coins you got metal coins (I love metal coins in my games). In addition to of cardboard resource tokens you got wooden ones. But perhaps the most interesting upgrade was plastic miniatures for the monsters, replacing the cardboard standees. We spent $30 extra for this level. Metal coins are frequently a costly upgrade so it’s easy to see where some of those funds went. That alone made it attractive to upgrade to the Deluxe level in my opinion. But the real star of the show was the set of monsters. Each monster had a unique sculpt, and they were treated with a dark toned wash to make the details stand out. I believe (from what I have read) this was the most popular pledge level for this campaign, and I can see why. This is probably where I would have gone, had I participated.

Fortunately for me, I was too late. I didn’t find out about the game until people started getting their copies and posting about how much fun it was. This game had a theme (fantasy) that was right in my wheelhouse, and the mechanics were compared to Scythe, another game I really like. When I started looking for a copy I had the benefit of seeing folks say things like, “I sure which I had upgraded to the Legendary edition.”

What were they missing? Was was different about the $139 Legendary pledge level? For an additional $40 over the Deluxe version you got an additional terrain tile along with 9 different monsters. And *drum roll* the monsters came with Sound FX Bases! Woo! Now your monsters would make noises as they marched across the board.

I can see where people felt that this was a gimmick, something not worth the extra funds. But it appears that during the Kickstarter people focused on the sound bases and ignored the content provided by the additional monsters. Each monster had a unique set of abilities and challenges, which would greatly expand (well, double) the variety of opponents that you might face. The Sound FX bases obscured this. Now there are people looking for the extra monsters, with or without the sound bases, and it seems that the game company is trying to figure out how to make that happen.

By waiting until the game was released, I was able to read, consider, and ultimately decide that I was going to buy the Legendary edition of the game when it became available, and I did. I didn’t mind spending the extra funds because I had a clear understanding and appreciation for what I got.

I did not make the same decision for the next game in this post.

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