We've used ads for years really, don't need a kickstarter to do it. We offer a 40% rev share as well for anyone willing to feature BD.
It has of course got much less effective over time, especially now that BD commonly doesn't work properly in new browser versions ...
We have something else up our sleeve to increase the playerbase in the long run, that said, I wouldn't worry too much. We've taken a huge hit from the downtime and the browser stuff, but we were growing before that and are recovering again.
It's not as grim as 2016. It's also definitely worth mentioning that unlike 2016, every single player we get into the game is someone we think may like the game. We used to get lots of new players solely to be conquers and quit, AI's took the need for that away and allowed us to see players again as a player, and not as food for existing players.
If you check out RC, we're actually building further on trying to get as many players as possible to become friends (or should I say foes ...?) not food.