Golem Arcana Kickstarts – Is it Good for Half a Million?

Golem Arcana Kickstarter

Back in July, first pictures and ideas were revealed for Golem Arcana, a “digitally enhanced” tabletop miniatures game from the makers Shadowrun Returns, Battletech and other things.

The game is hitting the miniatures gaming niche from the video-game side of the world, though the idea of having a miniatures game interwoven with digital stats, automated computing of combat result, digitally coded terrain effects, etc… quickly draws comparisons to Ex Illis.

#1 – Golem Arcana Kickstarter Video

#2 – Shooting for Half a Million Dollars (and more)

Golem Arcana is clearly a professional produced Kickstarter (and game, from what I can see). The presentation is top-notch, as one would perhaps expect from people with things like Battletech and Heroclix under their belt.

The background of a high-fantasy world where warring factions ride massive Golems to battle should offer plenty of space for building a compelling background (though I wouldn’t say that it is there yet… it still feels a bit derivative).

The goal for this Kickstarter-drive – US$ 500.000,- – is equally ambitious, however.

I am still not sure if pre-painted miniatures, square-terrain and iPads (or Android) are gonna make Golem Arcana “click” for half a million (though the Kickstarter easily made 10% the first day).

#3 – What’s Missing? Immersion!

Ok, I am a bit skeptical that this game is gonna fund for half a million.

Admittedly, I simply not be the target audience and my perspective from the tabletop wargaming side of things may be blinding me to some obvious brilliance in the concept.

Ever since I first saw pictures for Golem Arcana, I tried to define what was missing for me (personally). Pre-painted miniatures seemed a culprit at first, but I don’t think it really is that. The squares as terrain is another contender, but I don’t think it is the entire story either.

Let me explain the idea by comparing it to two other game.

A – Fantasy Flight Game’s X-Wing

Star War X WingFantasy Flight’s X-Wing Game is, by all accounts, a runaway success. It also uses pre-painted miniatures. On Amazon.com, Star Wars X-Wing Core Set is listed as the #1 Best Seller in Miniature Table Games. Not #2 or #3. #1!

X-Wing isn’t a “digital enhanced” game, obviously. It isn’t the most accurate space-combat simulation either.

The reason X-Wing is so popular (aside from the obvious advantage of the Star War franchise) is – I believe – the clever way it puts the player of the game “into the pilot seat”, so to speak. The little command-dial it uses to have both players pick maneuvers without known their opponent’s move creates a sense of being “in” the fight itself that is simply brilliant.

B – Mantic Games’ Deadzone

Mantic Games’ Deadzone isn’t even released yet. I still think it can illustrate my idea well.

Though Deadzone comes with lots of fancy terrain, it also uses “board-game-style” squares to get around tape-measures and similar crutches for moving your miniatures.

What I liked, from the preview videos, about Deadzone was that it kept a “true line of sight” mechanic. It’s a mechanic that encourages players to “get down” and get a “miniatures-point-of-view” before taking a shot.

It may sound a bit silly, but it is small things like these that get me “into” a miniatures game, things like these that make miniature wargaming different from playing more abstract games such as Chess, Go or Monopoly.

That – in a way – is what I am missing dearly from Golem Arcana.

The rules for Golem Arcana look as if they are made to “simulate” battles of Golems, with great complexity and detail, given that the calculations can and will be outsourced to an iPad.

The rules for Golem Arcana appear not to be made to make me – the player – “feel” like riding a giant Golem into battle, or commanding an army of massive magical construct.

#4 – Thoughts?

All right. I am going to stop right here. I don’t want to badmouth a new project too much that obviously has a lot of hard work and effort invested in it. There are many good things to be said about the presentation of this Kickstarter, even if the immersion-issue is getting to me.

What do you think?

  • What is your perception of Golem Arcana?
  • Does it look fun? Does it look worth your money on Kickstarter?
  • Do you think it’ll successfully raise USD 500.000,-?

Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!


The Golem Arcana Kickstarter will run until Oct 15, 2013.


I am Zweischneid. Wargame Addict. Hopeless painter and founder of Pins of War. I hope you enjoyed this article. Don't forget to share your favourite miniature pictures and wargaming videos at www.pinsofwar.net.
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  • http://www.polyhedroncollider.com/ Polyhedron Collider

    It will meet its goal I reckon.

    I don’t think this game is aimed at you, or any serious mini-wargamer. They love making terrain, converting models and painting. I think this is aimed at those people who stopped playing 40k when they where 18 and now play board games. They don’t have the time for all the extra curricular activities that miniature wargames entail but they can just get it out of the box.

    Also you need to consider the huge success that miniature based board games have on Kickstarter. Deadzone, Cthulhu Wars and Rivet Wars have all made huge amounts of money.

    Personally, I think the whole thing looks a bit dry and relies a little too much on the iPad. Oh and X-WIng is an awesome game ;)

  • UGEplex

    Hoi Chummer!

    Note: Golem Arcana does have paintable resin miniatures in their Kickstarter capaign as add-on options.

    Now, coming from the Shadowrun/Shadowrun returns crowd (the developers other recent Kickstarter hit), and being concerned the developer would leech resources from “my” game in to their new Golem Arcana project, I was more than just skeptical. I also wasn’t convinced the tabletop/mobile device mix would work, particularly after Ex Illis failed trying to do something similar.

    However, at GenCon I played the Golem Arcana demo, and…I had more fun than I expected to. The game wasn’t just adequate, it was good, and I wanted to play again. I also learned the developer wasn’t leeching team members from Shadowrun Returns, as they plan to use Kickstarter funding to build a new team for Golem Arcana, growing their studio. Fears alleviated!

    Now, I did find Golem Aracana to be more of a tactical miniatures board game when using a limited number of mini’s, than a full on hard core wargame. I think this is an amazing game to get people who won’t break the “learn the rules” barrier on their own, or for those whose time becomes limited due to kids, work, life. It’s easy to play it casually with friends and family, and might be perfect to give them an idea, if not the whole landscape, of what hard core miniature wargamers like about their games.

    From there, I can see employing a greater number of mini’s on the battlefield will absolutely give some tabletop fantasy wargamers the experience they’re looking for in a miniatures game. And I hope creating our own landscapes with the microdot paint utilized in this game becomes possible. Though, as mentioned in your article, certain aspects of tabletop wargaming won’t be delivered by this game any time soon, such as lining up shots by eye and measuring them out. I can see it being possible in the future, and line of site obstacles do exist in Golem Arcana’s gameplay, but the experience is not as crunchy and involved yet. However, the tactics are there.

    This is a good tactical miniatures game, and one where setup, breakdown and pace are much faster due to the overall design and implementation of mobile devices to handle the rulebook referencing for us.

    Although the developers themselves don’t present the game as well as one would hope in their presentation videos, in response to Polyhedron’s comment about the game appearing dry…I didn’t have that experience actually playing it. It was quite smooth, very engaging, and as I mentioned, a lot of fun. And with the lore of the game coming out, I can see the immersion factor increasing significantly. ^_^

    I think Golem Arcana has a place as “the other tabletop minatures game I play” on a more casual basis, with friends who aren’t as immersed in wargaming, or with family that would appreciate not having to dive in to hours of rulebook study. ^_^

    If you have any questions about my experience with Golem Arcana, which I am now an enthusiastic supporter of, you can ping me on Twitter via @UGEplex

    Ja Mata!


    • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid


      Thanks for taking the time for the thorough response.

      I admit it is rarely the ideal position to “judge” a game from the very limited exposure of a Kickstarter/You-Tube video.

      Star Wars X-Wing would a good example of a game where I had a similar experience to the one you describe with your Gen-Con playtest.

      Seeing Star Wars X-Wing played on a video, etc.. is fairly boring. It takes actually playing it, trying to second-guess your opponent, to “get it”.

      So I am perfectly willing to accept that the same may be true for Golem Arcana.

      Pre-painted, as said, isn’t a huge deal. Even pre-painted plastic could be primed and re-painted.

      The resin options, unfortunately, seem truly only that – add ons – there is no “the-game-but-in-resin” pledge that would also qualify you for stretch-goals (Kingdom Death, I seem to remember, had one of those, even though for most people the game will be sent in plastic).

      The only options to get the resin would be to use the “A La Carte” pledge and add all miniatures separately. You’d be missing the game though. Or to pledge for the game (with pre-painted plastic) and add Resin on top (effectively leaving you with a bunch of duplicate models in plastic).

  • derekkinsman

    I think it’ll raise the funds needed. It’s day one and already 1/5 the way there. I like that they’re asking for a realistic amount of money to make this game. Nothing annoys me more than when companies like CMON do a Kickstarter asking for $50,000. The 50k version of the game is clearly not what they want to make, nor is it that interesting of a game. It’s obvious these kinds of games require loads of money to do right.

    As it stands the digital parts of the game still look like demos, which never look good. But, I can put that aside and trust that they’ll eventually get that bit finished up.

    There’s not enough there for me to say if it looks fun or not. It looks interesting and the art direction is pretty rad. For me it’ll come down to the background fluff.

    My only concern is the inability to use house rules. It’d be interesting if there was a way to adjust settings and rules in the app. Or also publish a book of the rules for people that want to take this game onto custom terrain or something. I’m also less interested in the leader board functionality but I know that’s important to lots of video gamers.

    Still, looks good.