Daily Illuminator

April 20, 2019: Crowdfunding Focus: Cheapass Games In Black And White

Crowdfunding Focus: Cheapass Games in Black and WhiteOne of the most innovative companies to come out of the 1990s was Cheapass Games. Founded by James Ernest, they were known for titles such as Kill Doctor Lucky, Before I Kill You, Mister Spy (which is in my collection under a different, infringey-er name), and Button Men. Their name was a clever allusion to the idea that they would provide the parts of the game that only they could, usually printed in luxurious black and white, and the players would supply components like money, tokens, and dice that they presumably already had lying around. (Cheapass did sell "Bits Boxes" for people who wanted to make sure they had everything they needed; those bits are still part of my prototyping kit today!)

Fans of our company may remember James as the creator of Cowpoker and Give Me the Brain and Lord of the Fries, games we were very pleased to have in our catalog for several years while James tried the whole "real job" thing. (It doesn't seem to have taken, and the entire hobby is more fortunate for that.)

Twenty-two years later, Cheapass has published some more deluxe-style games (some even have meeples!), such as Tak, dozens of Pairs decks, and a 19.5th anniversary edition of Kill Doctor Lucky. They've never forgotten their roots, though, and are now on Kickstarter funding a retrospective into those early years and talking about some games that should bring back memories of white envelopes, laser-printed cardstock boards, and decks of cards held together with tape and cut-up magazine pages. Cheapass Games in Black and White is well over their funding goal and the Kickstarter will end April 30. One of the nice things is that, for the duration of the Kickstarter, James and his team are making many of those old games available as print-and-play versions . . . which means if you're seeing them for the first time, you'll be getting versions very close to what we bought in stores, two decades ago.

Check it out today!

-- Andrew Hackard


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