There’s a good chance that you don’t even know of the existence of Arctic Scavengers, its a post apocalyptic deck building game, it was originally published in 2009 by its designer Robert Gabhart under his company Driftwood Games. It was a success selling out of its first print run and started to gain a rabid following, now this is back in 2009 and deck builder was a fresh new thing, in fact there was only one other game on the shelves at the time doing it, Dominion by Rio Grande Games. Of course this is all ancient history. Now, Dominion is virtually a household name applauded for ushering in the new spanky fresh deck building mechanic and bringing about a tad of a gaming revolution as everyone scampered to play catch up.
Gabhart found himself in the enviable position of already being off the starting line, yeah the original game wasn’t nearly as polished as Dominion but it had a lot going for it. The theme was all over this, a post apocalyptic arctic wasteland that saw you desperately hunting across this desolate wasteland for the few ragtag survivors and the dwindling supplies and equipment on offer. And it also had this cool skirmish moment in the game, that after all your rifling through decks and buying goodies, there was a last gasp battle over a prize item that would potentially give you the leg up. This alone was such a cool mechanic adding a bluffing element and some real player interaction and thematically it meshed together like a frostbitten peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And that’s the thing, Arctic Scavengers has a theme that meshes with the game, it all just fits together perfectly and makes complete sense. Dominion for all its fanfare and plaudits is at the end of the day a really great mechanic implemented very well with a lot of choice, theme is not something it does well, and most of the time its a great solo game that you happen to be playing with your friends.
Rio Grande must have thought so too because they snapped up the fledgling game and the gaming world waited with baited breath for the second edition reprint. And it waited, and waited… Many deck builders came and went among them Rio’s Dominion. And just when the gaming world had grown tired of their new playthings and had shuffled and sleeved their old toys for something new the second edition came out, there was no fanfare and this smart little game limped out into a packed market of Thunderstone’s, Legendary’s and Trains and was swiftly buried in a drift.
Now the cynic my say that this was a carefully planned strategy by Rio Grande, they had Dominion the proverbial lightning in the bottle and along comes some young upstart with a more thematic and interactive version of their golden goose, and they buried it for three long years. Enough time to grab the strangle hold on the market and build a comfortable nest egg off its cherished title.
The Rio Grande version of scavengers is a great game, it has a much improved graphic style and bunch more elements missing from the original Driftwood release making it a better game and its still ooozing with that fantastic theme. And we’ve all been waiting patiently for the planned “Deception” expansion, more cards and strategies that we can assume Robert has been working on these long years. And then in March the second bombshell hits, they are burying it again, we’re not getting the expansion and even Roberts attempts to self fund or Kickstart this project are unreachable by the stranglehold that Rio Grande has on the game.
If you don’t want to publish this then fine, give the man back his game. Let the fan’s have this, you could have been making money off this title for three years, could have built that following and have a fan base waiting to lap up the next expansion. I don’t get it, it makes no sense economically or at any basic business level.
There are signs of movement, last week Quin’s at Shut Up & Sit Down posted a brilliant video review that has seen the game buying public leap into action and resulted in the game rocketing up into the top ten of BGG Hotness rankings, retailers have sold out of this title virtually overnight. Maybe there is still a glimmer of hope.
Support this game, buy it if you can. Or contact Rio Grande and make your voice heard we want this expansion that we’ve waited long years for and that Robert Gabhart has spent so long tweaking and refining. He has a passion for this project how else could anyone still work on something that has had this tortuous path without it. So show some of your own and let your voice be heard. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.