I always hesitate to disparage other games, but if there’s a trend I’ve started to dislike more and more, it’s the fact that too many Kickstarter games are little more than conduits to sell you 3D miniatures. Some are decent, but I’ve noticed when the focus is too heavy on the miniatures, you can almost assume the gameplay is mediocre at best.
In fact, at one point during the development of Kenji’s Quest, I was so adamant that I didn’t want to be associated with such games that I decided Kenji’s Quest wouldn’t have 3D miniatures at all.
This might sound a little overboard, but you have to understand—when I played the earliest prototypes of Kenji’s Quest, I used whatever coins and other objects I had nearby to represent the heroes and monsters. The players, after all, were looking at a 50″ screen on the Companion App to see what the hero, enemies, and NPCs looked like. Everyone loved playing Kenji’s Quest for its gameplay and story, and I wanted that to be the focus of Kenji’s Quest.
That all changed when I had the idea to use a high-quality 3D miniature to represent the boss you face in Chapter Three.
Long story short, the players loved it—and it wasn’t long before I started loving using 3D miniatures too. For me (and my game design partner Keith) 3D miniatures were an acquired taste, but once we started investigating the 3D design process and how we could mass produce them, we became huge proponents. With the zeal of a convert, we decided it wasn’t good enough to simply have a few 3D miniatures to include in our box—we wanted to go all-in on miniatures. However, there were two glaring, massive, obvious problems…
Kenji’s Quest has a lot of content—we’re talking dozens of hours of total gameplay with hundreds of potential monsters and villains to battle. How on earth could we fit them into the box?
We refused to make a game that someone with a modest income couldn’t afford—and adding a bunch of high quality miniatures in the box would make it cost more than we could have afforded when we were growing up.
That’s where we got the idea to simply sell the miniatures as optional add-ons to Kenji’s Quest. From there, came the idea to produce an entire A-Z catalog (including our entire Bestiary) of 3D miniatures compatible with Kenji’s Quest and also other tabletop games. Lastly, we got the idea to sell them as “bundles” in our Kickstarter campaign.
But enough with the backstory, let’s see the minis!
Our Dragon Bundle features our most high-quality, premium miniatures. Since our Dragon Bundle is being manufactured in-house at our facility here in the United States using thermoplastic resin, you can count on these dragons being the best dragons available on the market.
Kenji’s Quest is directly influenced by the games I grew up playing. I like being very transparent about my influences, not only because it should help you decide if you want to play any game I create, but I also think it’s fun to share how I approach game design.
The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.
#1 Final Fantasy IV
For me, this is the original RPG—the first I ever played. I didn’t know games could tell such a story. It scratched the same itch as reading The Hobbit, but it was something I could play! I loved the dwarves, airships, caves, towers, and monster design—all of it. I still remember the first time I entered the Misty Cave and heard Nobuo Uematsu’s track “Into the Darkness”. A whole world opened up to me that day and the sense of wonder has stuck with me all these years later. It’s influence on me—and Kenji’s Quest—is hard to overstate.
#2 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Can you hear that dungeon theme in your head? Collecting rupees, putting faeries in bottles, shooting the bow, and solving puzzles—all amazingly well executed. I really love this game, and to this day, I still go back and replay it. You know what makes this game (and the other from the series) so much fun? Exploration. Carrying your little lantern through a dark dungeon and hearing little squeaks and chattering sounds took me right back to exploring a creek at night with flashlights as a young boy in Florida—just like Miyamoto intended.
#3 Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI represents the pinnacle of the original Final Fantasy experience and is what I consider the primary influence to Kenji’s Quest gameplay. “What if I could port that experience to the tabletop?“, was the question I had at the top of my mind as I spent many late nights developing Kenji’s Quest.
I still remember the excitement I had when I originally analyzed and successfully welded Final Fantasy VI’s game modes—overworld map, town and dungeon exploration, and battle—into something you could play on the tabletop. I played it with a wide variety of friends, with various gaming backgrounds (and lack thereof), and they all loved it. I knew I had made something special and I still get goosebumps thinking about it.
Another important influence is the attention the game designers paid to its narrative. Kefka, the evil Gestahlian Empire, the attempts to subjugate the world with new technology, and its willingness to tackle topics like the use of chemicals in warfare, moral redemption, the death of loved ones, and even teenage pregnancy demonstrate that dramatic narrative and games are very compatible.
#4 Chrono Trigger
I remember playing through this game and realizing that my decisions actually mattered. My choices influence the plot? The story has multiple endings? It turned everything I loved about Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, Secret of Mana, and other favorites up a huge notch. It’s safe to say if Chrono Trigger was never invented, Kenji’s Quest would not have its “choose-your-path” and “choices matter” aspects. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to incorporate these aspects into a quality game—but as Chrono Trigger shows us—the payoff can be huge.
#5 Diablo II
Oh the hours I spent playing this game! While most people love Diablo for its addictive hack and slash gameplay, I really liked it for its game mechanics. I actually enjoyed equipping weapons and armor, finding and organizing loot, choosing what skills to upgrade to, and the gratuitous use of potions. Take one look at a Kenji’s Quest character sheet—and the way you as the player get to actually interact with it—and you will see Diablo’s influence at play.
I’m still amazed at how few people have actually played this game. While HeroQuest certainly had it’s flaws, the concept had an awful lot going for it. Sitting down with a group of friends and playing an adventure board game was unique and very fun. Actually manipulating doors, traps, and other game pieces had a very visual and tactile element unique to the board game medium. This is one aspect is one I definitely wanted to replicate in Kenji’s Quest.
Something I learned about HeroQuest—that I still take into account as a game designer—was the importance that it didn’t require too much effort to actually be the game host. The ability to read through a quick manual, absorb the rules, and 30 minutes later sit down and play is so refreshing. I’ve incorporated that as a rule in Kenji’s Quest and always strive to keep complexity down while keeping strategy at the forefront.
#7 Final Fantasy VII
By the time Final Fantasy VII came around, the series had hit the big time and had a big budget. You can sense how many different hands went into its creation—both for the good and bad. It’s not my favorite Final Fantasy game, but its arguably the best in the series. The system it uses for equipping and using magic is very, very good.
However, Final Fantasy VII represents a sort of departure from the earlier titles in the series. In that transition, it lost a little something. Midgar was amazing, but I missed the classic swords and sorcery at times. Most of the Final Fantasy games that came after VII were even more graphically beautiful, but went in a radically different J-pop/anime direction. Part of the reason I made Kenji’s Quest was so that I could return to the I-VII era.
Mechanically speaking, the largest influence Final Fantasy VII had on Kenji’s Quest is its use of minigames. Fort Condor and The Gold Saucer were wonderful diversions. It proved to me that sometimes you just need to mix things up a bit. I tried incorporating a few minigames in Kenji’s Quest and they translated amazingly well over to a tabletop game you play with friends.
Risk takes me back to many late nights spent with family and friends eating food, drinking drinks, and just enjoying each other’s company.
My favorite part? Rolling the dice. Rolling all three ones as the attacker when you really needed a good roll… all of the goofy ways we shook the dice and made sounds as the dice hit the table… the anticipation of waiting to see what numbers came up… it was fantastic. I know some designers try to avoid physical dice, but I’m a big believer. There’s thousands of better balanced games out there, but Risk was a good time—and that’s one of the most important aspects of all.
#9 Sid Meier’s Civilization
Sid Meier is an inspiration to me. His willingness to experiment with genres, his attention to detail as he developed his prototypes, and his insistence to make games his way really resonates with me. In an industry now dominated with huge production budgets and the inclination to churn out “safe” titles for those with short attention spans, Civilization was (and still is) a breath of fresh air.
The implementation of a non-linear technology tree and the game’s infusion of history, economics, and trade makes Civilization feel like an epic drama. I could go on and on about Civilization, but as a feat of game design, it’s in a class by itself.
#10 Dungeons & Dragons
This game might deserve to be at the top of list, and in other ways, left off the list completely. For all of its merits and the kudos it deserves as one of the originals, it’s direct influence on Kenji’s Quest is quite minor in many respects (I’ve only played it once since I was 13).
While D&D has a big following for a lot of good reasons, I think the formula is ripe for improvement. Most of it lies on how much work it is to be a Dungeon Master and how much learning curve there is for new players.
Some games have tried to improve on the formula by taking the Dungeon Master out of the equation—but I think this removes a lot of the charm. In Kenji’s Quest, I have been obsessed with making the life of a Game Host easier and more fun. When I had a first-time beta tester remark to me that he wanted to host a Kenji’s Quest game—I knew I had gotten the game complexity and Game Host aspect just right.
Lastly, in a bit of contrast to D&D, Kenji’s Quest is a game you can actually be good at. If you dominate the first chapter, you get rewarded. If you make a bunch of critical mistakes, you will pay for it. The Game Host will not make the game easier or harder for you as you play.
I used to take a bit of umbrage when someone would remark that Kenji’s Quest, “sounds like a simplified D&D” but I’ve realized that I was taking the comment the wrong way—people were intrigued by the fact. I’ve since started to embrace that comparison—after all, almost every game on this list could be described in that fashion.
Few things help you know if you want to buy a product more than knowing exactly what’s in the box, right? Let’s get right to it… prepare your wallet!
Kenji’s Quest: Book One Core Box
Note: The Kenji’s Quest: Book One Core Box exists for two reasons: 1. There are a number of optional add-ons that you can purchase. 2. We wanted to keep the cost of the game as low as possible (approximately that of a video game), while providing players access to everything you need to play.
Yep, Kenji’s Quest features actual potion bottles you can drink from! Potions are a central part of Kenji’s Quest, and as you acquire them in the game, you will be able to store them in your own personal set of bottles. Need to recover some HP after a battle? Drink a Healing Potion. Need to really put the hurt on a mini-boss? Drink a Potion of Warrior’s Fury. Is your friend knocked out? Administer a Recovery Potion to them! There’s dozens of potion types out there, and the only thing more fun than finding and collecting them will be deciding what drink you want to use to represent them!
Non-Slip Game Mat
Measuring 18X24 inches, our exclusive game mat has a non-slip surface on both sides. This enables the mat to stay fixed on your tabletop and for the modular dungeon tiles to stay in place as you move the game pieces on them. The rubber mat rolls up for easy storage and has stitched edging to provide a nice, finished look and feel.
Magic Stones – Actual Gemstones
When equipped, magic stones enable the players to cast useful and powerful magic spells. The magic stones you find when playing Kenji’s Quest are actual gemstones from around the world—and our Core Box contains every magic stone for all of Kenji’s Quest: Book One. Their shape and color determine their effect and equipping them to your character sheet is done using a specialized hook and loop fastener.
Modular Dungeon Tiles
The Core Box contains the printed and cut Dungeon Tiles you need to explore all of the scenarios in the first chapter of Kenji’s Quest: Book One. From dark, subterranean mineshafts to bright forest paths, our full-color Dungeon Tiles are modular in design. This section-by-section design system enables you to only “see” what’s in front of you, adding to the suspense of exploration, as you never know what may be lurking just around the corner or behind the door in front of you…
Character Sheets, Equipment Cards, and Item Cards
Our character sheets are one-sided, printed on thick card stock, and especially designed for the character you choose. As you obtain new weapons, armor, and other items from treasure chests and enemies you defeat, you will acquire cards that are designed to be attached to the appropriate section on your character sheet. Be sure to manage your inventory wisely, for there’s only so much space for spare weapons and items in your backpack. This system enables you to highly customize your character and to put all of the info you need directly in front of you with a distinct visual appeal.
Skills are primarily used to assist in battle, and you begin the game with skills unique to your character’s discipline and race. Obtained by purchasing or finding skill books, you then attach the skill card to the appropriate skill slot on your character sheet for quick reference. As you obtain more and more skills, you have the ability to swap them in and out, enabling you to highly customize your character.
Instead of providing you with dice so cheap and poorly balanced you may as well throw them away than on your table, we provide you four sets of attractive, high quality dice.
Maps & More
Maps are a very central part of Kenji’s Quest, as nearly each chapter features a map that you will use to make decisions about which scenarios and encounters you want to experience next. In addition, there are world maps, regional maps, and maps of specific cities, towns, and other locations. In addition to the World and Chapter One maps, the Core Box contains the official Game Host Instruction Booklet, an app access code, and pencils—all packaged in an attractive, high-quality box.
Monsters and Miniatures
Before describing the miniatures in the Core Box, we want you to know that we are going all in on miniatures. To accommodate all tastes and budgets, we are assembling a full A-to-Z catalog of fantasy miniatures compatible with Kenji’s Quest and other popular tabletop games. Each monster, hero, villian, and NPC (non-player character) will be designed by hand-picked artists, available in multiple 2D and 3D types, pose variations, and in any quantity at the Myths & Miniatures online store.
In the Core Box, you get the 2D Cardboard Token miniatures of all 32 playable hero options and every monster and NPC you can encounter in Kenji’s Quest Chapter One—along with colored Token Miniature Stands.
If you back us during our Kickstarter, you will also get our Rat Bundle—featuring all of the rats you encounter during Chapter One—for free.
The Core Box also includes access to our download center, where you can download-and-print versions of every monster, NPC, dungeon tile, and item card you could possibly experience in all chapters of Kenji’s Quest: Book One.
Kenji’s Quest Add-Ons
As mentioned, the Kenji’s Quest: Book One Core Box contains everything you need to play the first chapter of Kenji’s Quest. It does not contain the pre-printed Dungeon Tiles, miniatures, and item/equipment cards for the remaining chapters. The reason for this is pretty straightforward—the choices you make in the game determine which chapters and monsters you will actually encounter. If we included all of the Dungeon Tiles, miniatures, etc. that you could possibly experience in the Core Box, we’d be looking at a box the size of a kitchen appliance and unnecessarily increase the cost of the game.
For the remaining chapters of Kenjis Quest: Book One, you can either use the Download Center to download and print the 2D versions of the Dungeon Tiles, miniatures, and other cards for free. If you’d like to avoid any DIY, you choose to get the contents of what we affectionately call our Lazy Pledge, which contains:
The Lazy Box contains 700+ professionally printed and cut versions of everything you could possibly need—no matter what choices you make—as you play chapters 2-6. For example:
200+ Dungeon Tiles, 200+ Equipment Cards, 225 Item Cards 15+ Regional and Chapter Maps 30+ Skill Cards 20+ Extra Character Sheets
Along with the Token Box, the Lazy Box is perfect for lazy folks (like me!) who want to avoid any DIY printing and cutting.
Token Box – Bestiary Vol. I
This box contains 300+ 2D Cardboard Tokens—featuring every monster (and NPC) that you could possibly experience in all chapters of Kenji’s Quest: Book One.
This Box is also compatible with other tabletop games and makes a fantastic low-cost alternative to purchasing hundreds of 3D miniatures.
Also includes: 18 (12 Black and 6 Colored) 1″ Miniature Bases 9 (3 Black and 6 Colored) 2″ Miniature Bases
Base colors include: Blue, Green, Grey, Purple, Red, White
Kenji’s Quest is an app-assisted board game inspired by classic 90’s era adventure and RPG console games, coming soon to Kickstarter! Based on a trilogy of the same name, Kenji’s Quest: Book One allows for you and your friends to experience the first book’s six chapters—but here’s a crucial twist—the decisions you make influence the plot and eventual outcome of the story.
Featuring an interactive narrative, puzzles, mini-games, exploration, and battles, Kenji’s Quest utilizes a ground-breaking companion app to enhance the experience. Using the Kenji’s Quest Companion App, the Game Host leads the players through game by displaying art from top artists, playing the official soundtrack, showing the stats during battle, and much more.
A New Genre, Filled with Nostalgia
Although many of Kenji’s Quest play elements are inspired by classic console games and Tolkienesque fantasy, the play elements are combined and presented in a unique enough way to make playing Kenji’s Quest an exciting, distinct experience. For comparison’s sake, Kenji’s Quest can be described as a mashup of the classic Choose Your Own Adventure book series, The Legend of Zelda, and the (early) Final Fantasy video games—all brought together on the tabletop.
Who is Kenji’s Quest For?
One of the most important design philosophies we have is that Kenji’s Quest be enjoyed by experienced gamers and inexperienced players alike. The rules are straightforward and logical, and are designed to be explained to you by the Game Host (aided by a specialized dashboard) as you play. If you can read maps, roll dice, and use a bit of strategy, you have what it takes to complete Kenji’s Quest.
In terms of style, Kenji’s Quest is firmly in the classic adventure/fantasy genre with a few unique twists. If you enjoy The Lord of the Rings (or similar books and films), any of the aforementioned adventure games, or if you simply enjoy trying new games and gameplay experiences, chances are you will like Kenji’s Quest. On a personal note, if you are like me and grew up playing the 90’s-era console adventure/RPG classics (and really appreciate their gameplay and style) you will absolutely love Kenji’s Quest.
Kenji’s Quest takes place on a world similar to Earth during the Middle-Ages on the cusp of a technological renaissance. Central to the story is Kenji Sakaguchi, an eccentric middle-aged man obsessed with collecting rare items and imbuing them with properties from magic stones. For his latest quest, Kenji has requested the aid of a few adventurers, which are (of course), you and your friends!
To start playing Kenji’s Quest, you don’t need to read any rulebooks or have experience with any other adventure games. To understand the basics of Kenji’s Quest gameplay, it’s best to describe its three game modes:
1. Map Mode – Nearly every chapter of Kenji’s Quest begins with Map Mode, which features the Game Host giving you a map, telling and showing you (using the Companion App) a few details about where you are and what you see, and asking where you would like to go next.
2. Dungeon Mode – Dungeon Mode starts when you enter a specific location and involves moving your character piece around on our non-slip game mat in a turn-by-turn manner. Modular, full-color dungeon tiles are placed onto the mat by the Game Host as you and your friends explore the paths and corridors of the area. Combined with the sights and sounds of the Kenji’s Quest Companion App, the possibilities for dungeon mode are endless.
3. Battle Mode – What would an adventure game be without battles? Battle Mode starts when you encounter someone or something you need to fight. This mode features rolling dice to determine if you hit or miss your enemies, how much damage you do, etc.—all while the Companion App tracks the battlefield stats, displays character and monster art, and plays the rollicking battle tracks.
In addition, Kenji’s Quest: Book One features at least one mini-game and puzzle per chapter. Mini-games can be anything from a coin tossing game, an arm wrestling match with the Game Host, to betting your hard earned silver on a horse race. Puzzles can be riddles shared by characters you meet in the game, a set of levers and pulleys you have to pull in a specific order to reveal a secret passageway, or similar bamboozling experiences.
In short, Kenji’s Quest has something for everyone. It features plenty of challenging scenarios and battles and is carefully designed to reward making the most optimal and strategic choices, both in and out of battle. At the same time, Kenji’s Quest is designed to be a social game meant to connect you and your friends where having fun is the primary goal.
Lastly, Kenji’s Quest is not reliant on the Game Host being “good” at telling a story, or having any experience at managing a game in order for everyone to enjoy the experience. The Kenji’s Quest Companion App is the key element here, which makes being the Game Host arguably the most fun way to experience Kenji’s Quest. After all, the host gets to fight as the monsters, control the companion app, and share a newfound hobby with friends. All with very minimal preparation required (less than 20 mins per chapter)!
Kenji’s Quest has gone through an extensive series of playtests and improvements since it’s inception over 6 years ago. Now that a beta of the Kenji’s Quest Companion App exists, we are happy to report that the official prototype is ready to present to the general public.
However, in order for Kenji’s Quest to become a reality—and to feature art from top artists, tracks from talented musicians, and to mass-produce amazing miniatures—we need the funds that a successful Kickstarter campaign can bring. While we aren’t ready to make an announcement yet, we are in contact with some well-known and talented artists in the industry, who are prepared to join in our project on the basis that we raise sufficient funds from our Kickstarter campaign.
This all means that we need your help. As you read more about Kenji’s Quest, we’d love your feedback and involvement. We’re really looking to create a community around Kenji’s Quest and to do everything we can to make sure we are nothing like the increasingly tone-deaf game companies out there.
Next Article: What’s in the Box?
To find out everything that comes in the box, and what add-ons we will have available, read our next article—What’s in the Box?
KENJI'S Quest Kickstarter
EARLY BIRD PROMOTION
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