When Kingdom Rush was making the rounds at trade shows and events like GenCon in 2018 and prior in efforts to generate buzz for the upcoming Kickstarter, it generated a lot of interest among the core board gaming community. With polished components, interesting gameplay, and good rules and mechanics, many who played it or watched the demos, myself included, were impressed.
Needless to say, I, and many others, backed Kingdom Rush in the spring of 2019, with an anticipated release in the spring of 2020. However, due to the international train wreck that was Covid-19, backers didn't see the game hit their respective tabletops until the holiday season of 2020. Despite the delays, Lucky Duck Games is moving forward with the second installment of the franchise before the proverbial ink has dried on the first with Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising.
Stand-Alone? Or Expansion in Disguise?
What is interesting about Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising is that it utilizes the same development team, same art team, and generally relies upon the core concepts, foundations and guiding game mechanics of Kingdom Rush and its own respective expansions. Where it departs from its predecessor is, as the name implies, in elemental effects, elemental powers, and elemental themed monsters. From new terrain to new magical attacks, Lucky Duck Games has placed the elemental of Elemental Uprising at the fore.
However, this move towards special/magical powers is parallels the process we saw with Castle Panic and Fireside Game's subsequent expansions for that game (which is also a tower defense game, interestingly enough). In fact, the first expansion—The Wizard's Tower—was all about introducing magical characters, magical enemies, and magical attacks.
Plus, the fact that Elemental Uprising can be integrated into the first game also begs the question why this is marketed as a pseudo-standalone.
Putting the 'Rush' into Kingdom Rush?
While I am confident that the second game in the Kingdom Rush franchise will be just as competent and polished as the first, I question what I consider having a very narrow window between entries in the franchise. Granted, there was a delay of a year with the first game due to Covid-19 and technically I purchased Kingdom Rush in 2019 so a two year timeline makes sense from a multi-year plan for any company. But to get a base game and get maybe two months of potential gameplay before making the decision to drop another $50-$100 is testing your customer base's wherewithal.
Additionally, I find it interesting that they are utilizing Gamefound vs. Kickstarter for the second entry, thus muddying the waters and losing customers in the transition between platforms. Especially since Gamefound has only become a fully functioning backer entity in October 2020. Both of these elements (ha!) make me wonder just how successful Kingdom Rush: Elemental Uprising will ultimately be.
Find Elemental Uprising on the Found
Despite the shift in pledge platforms and what I consider rebranding a beefy expansion as a game, I do think it will be just as good as the first game in the series and am interested to seem more info in the days leading up to the Gamefound campaign, which starts in February 2021.