Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Unboxing: Dwarven Forge Kickstarter

It seems like ever since I got back into gaming as an adult, I have coveted Dwarven Forge's tile sets. Like a Geek Chic gaming table, they represented a sort of geek status symbol. A badge of gaming LEETness that, in my mind, could only be attained by nerd corporate collections or celebrities. Why? Well, just like the ol' Geek Chic stuff, Dwarven Forge's tiles are friggin' expensive! At about $120-$150 per set, you end up paying about $3 per 2x2 tile... or, in terms of actual space, $0.75 per square inch. That is actually about on par with the cost of buying an ACTUAL HOUSE in the Seattle area... if you calculate your home prices per square inch of floor space.

So, for a long time, I contented myself with lower cost options. I built up a collection of excellent half-built papercraft sets, dungeon tiles and stand-in set pieces crafted from Lego, cardboard and bits of household junk.

Then Dwarven Forge ran headlong into my Kickstarter addiction. Suddenly, I saw my destiny before me, like a watery tart distributing swords! I could have my own plastic Camelot* I opened my pocket book and let the money flow forth. Of course, because the Kickstarter wound up being so successful --earning nearly $2 million from an initial goal of $50k-- there were lots of stretch goal bonuses thrown in, which stretched the value of my not inconsiderable investment.

Of course, that initial investment happened months ago. I feel like the delay between funding and delivery actually makes Kickstarter MORE dangerous to my financial well being. If I see a cool project that I want to fund, I end up waiting months before receiving my backer rewards. When they finally arrive, the initial investment is but a foggy memory of the past until, suddenly... PACKAGE AT THE DOOR! OMG! CHRISTMAS IN [ROLL RANDOM MONTH ON 1D12]! The high of that almost unexpected package is up there with... other... REALLY awesome stuff.

That is what I came home to after my business trip last week. The unexpected Kickstarter reward. A heavy box on my doorstep. Here's what was inside...

What's in the box?
I sure hope it isn't Gwyneth Paltrow's head!
One thing about this delivery is that everything was packed in super efficiently. Within the outer box were four smaller boxes packed with meticulously aligned dungeon tiles.

There was also a set of paints that I picked up as an add-on since I opted for the cheaper, unpainted tiles. Dwarven Forge threw in a surprise set of brushes and a tote bag for free!

Of course, the first thing I did was to unpack everything and lay it out in rank and file for inspection. This is what my investment got me. The tiles alone represent over 3x what I would expect to get ordering a Dwarven Forge direct from their site. Granted, I have to paint them myself, but the DF folks have made some handy painting tutorials, and it looks like the process is actually pretty quick once you get the hang of it.

The plastic feels solid and sturdy in the hand. Having never encountered a Dwarven Forge tile in person, I wasn't sure what to expect. Overall, I am pleased so far with the quality of the product. The only downsides I can identify so far are:

  1. The labor that will go into painting these (which I enjoy so is it really a negative?)
  2. The small 2x2 size of the standard tiles. While this level of modularity is great for customizing layouts, I'll need to do some testing to see how tough it becomes to set things up during play.
  3. One of the 6 or 8 doors that came with the set is stuck closed. When dealing with this many tiles, is having a single malfunctioning piece such a big issue? Plus, it's not like I can't still place it as a door. My poor players will just have to IMAGINE it opens.
So, yes... I have reached the next tier of geekdom. I have my first Dwarven Forge set. I look forward to getting it spiffed up for play.

Watch out! I'm coming for you next, Geek Chic!

*I wish Camelot referred to an ocelot camel hybrid!

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