Sustainable tabletop games maker scores second crowdfunding success, raises nearly $1m for new Earthborne Rangers campaign

Earthborne Games, a sustainable manufacturing-focused board game maker run by former Fantasy Flight Games designers and artists, has scored its second crowdfunding success by raising almost $1m for the new printing of co-operative card game Earthborne Rangers.

Earthborne was launched in 2020 by former Fantasy Flight head of studio Andrew Navaro, who worked on seminal games including Twilight Imperium 4th Edition, Arkham Horror The Card Game and Marvel Champions.

Navaro founded the company on the principle that tabletop games “can and should be manufactured sustainably”, and saw that principle through with the first printing of Earthborne Rangers, which raised more than $450,000 through a Kickstarter campaign in mid-2021.

That campaign came with a pledge to create the game sustainably, targeting suppliers and manufacturers offering carbon-neutrality, eco-friendly materials, efficient energy use and waste reduction.

The company settled on Germany-based Ludo Fact for its first print run, and delivered a game which contained no plastic of any kind and which is fully recyclable and compostable – unlike most modern board games, which are frequently not recyclable due to plastic coatings and cores on cards and boards.

Earthborne’s core game and card expansions are all FSC certified for their paper and packaging, coatings are done with a water-based laminate and printing with vegetable-based inks.

The company said it is in discussions with multiple factories for the second printing, with a goal of printing Earthborne Rangers and its expansions as near to the majority of its customers as possible to remove the huge carbon and resources cost associated with long-distance shipping.

Speaking on the Team Covenant podcast earlier this month (which was highlighted in this excellent write-up of Earthborne’s sustainable credentials by climate scientist and BoardGameGeek user Haley S), Navaro appeared to rule out printing the game in China – the location the vast majority of modern board games are manufactured.

He said, “I’ve got quotes on the second printing from a bunch of different places, including Chinese manufacturers, and it’s way less expensive. Like, less than half of what it costs to do elsewhere – it’s wild.

“So, when I start to look at those numbers and be like, okay, well, if we went to China, we’d be able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars – should we do that?

“…but when it came down to it, I just felt, yeah, we could make more money, but did I found this company to maximize profit? No. I did not. I wanted to try to do things differently, so we’re going to continue to try to do things differently.”

The game itself sees players take on the role of a future protector of a mountain valley, beginning with a deck of cards representing that character and exploring the world across a branching narrative campaign.

Praise for the game has been high. Root and John Company designer Cole Wehrle said in Polygon’s best board games of 2023 roundup, “Earthborne Rangers feels like it breaks genuinely new ground in open-world tabletop games.

“Partly it does this by getting rid of the traditional scenario format. Rather than presenting players with traditional set-pieces, the game uses a clever fatigue system that allows players to explore the game’s world at their own pace.

“The result is something that feels like a card-driven adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

“This innovation alone would be enough to recommend the game, but Earthborne Rangers goes further by introducing dozens of small improvements to the genre that make it one of the most promising living card games in years.”

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