Exillis, a miniature skirmish game from Bastion Games (now bankrupt) won my “Best of Show at GTS in 2009. Exillis combined tabletop mechanics with a computer-based rule adjudication system. I thought it original and a great first step forward to bring better digital support to miniature games. A game genre that frequently combines vast quantities of rules, rule exceptions and minutiae in a perfect storm of fun-killing rules arguments.
I bought the base set, threw together an army and played the game. I liked the miniatures, but the software was clunky and performed poorly. I hoped a few software revisions might bring it up to speed, but it just never generated real “must play” interest for me and it languished in a closet until I finally sold it off online.
In 2011 Bastion Games imploded, but a few former employees and a core of fans kept the game alive.
Today, Chinchilla Games (comprised of former Bastion employees) announced a kickstarter for Exillis, reborn as a conventional dead-tree rulebook miniature game. Much of the art and miniatures I recognize from the initial Bastion release and therein lies my issue with this kickstarter.
I was there at the beginning of Exillis at GTS in 2009 and saw their substantial financing and marketing efforts. The Gen Con booth for Exillis that year was quite large as I remember for the release and drew a big crowd. All that said, the game still failed. Failed in the sense that it never achieved the broad player base that Malifaux or the Wizkids games achieved. Achieving “critical mass” in a player base is crucial to any hobby miniature game’s survival. Though Exillis does have a footprint on the internet and I am sure in some locations you might find a game locally, it is today an obscure game. I follow the game community overall (though I am not a miniature hardcore) and attend GTS and Gen Con every year and have yet to see a single game of Exillis. Is there Exillis at Gen Con? Probably somewhere in its vast miniature hall, but I have never seen anyone lining up to play it. In short, Exillis burned brightly and then faded to obscurity.
Given that Exillis already had a substantial, expensive launch effort and failed to achieve critical mass, why is this new Exillis worthy of your kickstarter dollars? Clearly I am not interested in supporting this game, but perhaps the kickstarter inspires enough interest to bring the game back to vibrant life. Kickstarter is always a gamble, especially with games that rely on a wildly successful kickstarter to create a thriving player base. My feeling on this kickstarter is Exillis is not just a gamble, but a bet with long odds.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer