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A board game of cooperative card-driven tactical combat in a persistent, ever-changing campaign world. 1-4 players, 30 min. per player.
A board game of cooperative card-driven tactical combat in a persistent, ever-changing campaign world. 1-4 players, 30 min. per player.
4,904 backers pledged $386,104 to help bring this project to life.

Let's talk some more about Kickstarter exclusives

Posted by Isaac Childres (Creator)

Hey there, residents of Gloomhaven!

First of all, I'd like to apologize again for not being present in the comments and on BGG yesterday. I spent the day down in Indianapolis play testing stuff and didn't get back until late. Tests went well, though. The Cragheart needs some tweaks, but it's coming along.

I joked with Travis and Nick that the Kickstarter may crash and burn in my absence and there'd be nothing left but fire and looting when I got back. Obviously that didn't happen - we've unlocked the $150,000 stretch goal and are barreling toward the next one - but there does seem to be a bit of an altercation brewing, especially over in this BGG thread, about Kickstarter exclusives.

Somehow this project has become the center of the Kickstarter exclusives debate and I can't help but feel that there are a lot of people out there who want me to give something tangible as a reward for backing this game on Kickstarter. To some, killing a skeleton in a video is not enough, nor is the idea that contributing towards stretch goals makes the game very tangibly better for everyone.

There is a desire for something to serve as a thanks to all backers who have made this possible. Not exclusive content, of course, but just some non-content related component upgrade to make the Kickstarter copy of the game feel special.

This is all a fair point. Good arguments have been made on both sides, and I feel I have been significantly swayed to give you all a bigger "Thank you" for being the best backers anyone could hope for.

To be totally transparent, I'd like to copy and paste my sincere stance on this sort of business that I posted in the comments a few days ago:

"I understand supply and demand, and I understand that I could get more people to buy into the game if I offered exclusives, or that if I offered you guys an exclusive extra character for $15 a lot of you would buy it.

"Unfortunately for me, I guess, I think the whole notion is horseshit. It in no way helps the end user (unless they're looking to resell at a profit, I suppose). My whole philosophy is to make and sell games exactly the same way that I would want them to be made and sold to me.

"Maybe I'll make less money, but I'll respect myself, and I'll know that everybody who opens a box of Gloomhaven will have the best experience possible with it.

"Okay, sorry, done ranting. No exclusives."

I cussed because I was serious. But how do I reconcile how I'm feeling now with those statements? Well, first of all, it wouldn't be exclusive. It may be available at cons in a limited supply, but it is something that wouldn't be in the retail box. It in no way improves the content of the game. The game will be just as good with it as without it.

Most importantly, though, I'd like to emphasize that this isn't a cash grab. This about saying thank you to you guys in a real and tangible way. It's about encouraging you guys to stick with this project that you believe in so that you can follow the updates and feel like you contributed in some meaningful way to making the game better.

I want to build a community of awesome people who play awesome games, but I realized that I didn't give any of you decoder rings so that you could feel like a real part of the club. I feel like maybe you need decoder rings.

Okay, I'm not actually proposing decoder rings. That's a silly metaphor. What I am proposing is an extra miniature in the box. A miniature of the first boss in the game, the Bandit Commander. This guy:

Not really much of a spoiler I hope since he's the guy you're chasing after in the first scenario.

What I am proposing is that I will drop a miniature of this guy into every game box, standee and miniature version, purchased on Kickstarter. I know it doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the standee box, but I want to thank everyone who backs the game, and you standee people can just put him on your nightstand and say goodnight to him before you go to sleep or something if you want.

This wouldn't be a stretch goal. This would just be something that happens if you all agree.

Also, as I said before, this isn't an exclusive - it just won't be in the retail box.

Keep in mind this is just a proposal, though. I want to thank you guys for backing this game and making this Kickstarter more successful than I could have hoped for, and I feel this is the best way to do it. If you don't feel this is a good way, please let me know in the comments. This will only happen if an overwhelming majority of you want it.

So please let me know how you feel.

Town Records

Before this update ends, though, we've got something else to talk about: that stretch goal we're barreling towards!

What the heck are "Town Records?"

Well, they are an extra booklet that will come with the game. It will be sealed, but you can unlock it when you retire your first character. In it will be pages to commemorate those who have retired and moved on, so that you can always look back on your old heroes and reminisce about that time Scarborough the Scoundrel opened up that door to the boss room prematurely and nearly got us all killed.

In addition, when you unseal the book, you will also gain access to a written story involving the clerk of the town records that will lead you to uncovering the history of Gloomhaven and the human civilization on this continent. And you'll gain access to more pieces of the story as the town's prosperity is increased. It's sort of like those extra bits of lore you can find in a lot of great RPG video games - bits of information you can read if you'd like to get a richer sense of the world, but they're not necessary to play the game.

I hope that sounds cool to you, because I'm pretty excited about it!

And, once again, please let me know your thoughts on the added miniature!

Hamstray, Veronica Andersson, and 63 more people like this update.


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    1. Chris Cardone on

      I am hugely in favor of exclusives because it gives me a reason to back a game at MSRP.

      Very few games I back here don't end up at CoolStuff at a significant discount.

      If you want my money upfront... Give me a reason.

      Kickstart has become more of a venue for pre-ordering and I refuse to pre-order a video/board game unless there is a nice pre-order perk.

    2. johnvbennett

      I think this mini is a fair offer to everybody, but for me personally it wouldn´t have been necessary since the game alone will be awesome anyway.

    3. Manuel Busi on

      You are a great game designer, but first a great person.

    4. Ukko Kaarto on

      I don't really need the miniature. If there's something exclusive them Is rather have deck boxes or sleeves for the cards. But I'm happy which ever you decide. I'm here for the game & stretch goals, not for the exclusives.

    5. Missing avatar

      Shannon Marden on

      The reason I backed your project is because it looks like an awesome game. I am passionate about good gaming, and the extra stretch goals we are reaching together are making what I believe is going to be an incredible gaming experience even better. These are enough for me. I like where we're headed, and am looking forward to May! So, just know Isaac, that the reason most of us are here is because we know quality when we see it, and believe in you and this project. Thanks for what YOU have done and the work YOU have put into this project!

    6. Kris Ardianto on

      Hi Isaacs, would the game also has standee for bandit boss since you intent to throw the mini into it?
      For me, getting more is always better as long as it doesn't harm the game, designer and backers.

    7. Missing avatar

      Thomas Coyne

      I vote for the boss mini.

      This is rather a expensive game. I backed for the minis. Personally I was hoping the tokens would eventually change to more minis as more backers got on board. I guess I never really read the entire campaign or comments which indicated that is not the case. The tokens just don't hold up as well. But the ledger idea is an excellent idea and has me on board. Bravo because your email had put me on the fence.

    8. Leonard Raaymakers on

      I fully agree. It doesn't need KS exclusives. I don't even believe in stretch goals being a necessary element. Having the game be the best it can be right off the bat is the best strategy in my opinion.

    9. Missing avatar

      Michael ROwe on

      my preference would be no mini

    10. RavenMad on

      PS: the town records sound awesome! SG coming up! :)

    11. RavenMad on

      For those in the "No" camp, perhaps the better way to think of this is that Isaac's suggestion (Bandit Leader mini) is not actually an exclusive. It's an incentive for those who haven't already to back the project, and a thank you to those who have. He's already said (multiple times) that any so-called-exclusive will be available to retail buyers but they may not get it in the base box whereas backers will. What is so wrong with that?

      So, in a nutshell, it encourages the "why back, I'll just get it at retail" people and it rewards those who have already backed. AND it doesn't affect the gameplay in any way and backers/non-backers get exactly the same game. It's win/win/win.

      @Isaac - there's a lot of love already for this game and I think all backers will be happy with whatever you decide at the end of the day.

    12. Robert Bowers

      I'm pretty much against kickstarter exclusives, either as add-ons or free stretch goals. I agree with your sentiments, that the end result for the kickstarter project should mirror what the retail version looks like. I think you should stick with your guns, and not give in.

      That said, just glancing at a couple comments below, there are some good suggestions as alternatives if you really want to go through with the gesture. I like markus's suggestion of a thank-you card(s) with game art! Something minor, something personalized.

    13. Missing avatar

      Peter A Campbell

      I think don't listen to all those who want to show how mature they are by being against exclusives, those who want everyone to get the same always, because that is so realistic, and throw in exclusive KS content.
      Well doesn't have to be exclusive but adding one or two limited edition minis generates extra pledges and gives incentive for people to back after the funding goal has been met. If people like them? Then give them what they want?

      I paid a fortune to get a complete Zombicide season 1, and on eBay got the price driven up by people who were looking at it as an investment to piece out for maximum profit, I thought no one had seen it when it was $1-2-300, but I wanted it. And if people like me are paying for a complete set, then why not. The market dictates everything these days.

    14. Missing avatar

      Aaron Thorne on

      Totally ambivalent about a "special mini" for backers. I feel like many people treat board game Kickstarter campaigns like their own separate game, and they feel that to "win" the game they need special prizes that they can use to wave in the faces of others so that they can feel artificially superior for having "won" what isn't even a game to win in the first place. If the game funds and is produced and made available, don't we all win? So, I vote for you putting your efforts into making the board game be the best it can be.

    15. Missing avatar

      Peter A Campbell

      Love the miniature, a couple extra really makes the game special and for those of us who have or who go to the trouble to build a scale model of gloomhaven it makes it more immersive and enjoyable.
      Keep the good ideas rolling out, we love 'em.

    16. Darcy Aylwin on

      Isaac, I am backing your game because it sounds incredible. I am happy if my money goes toward your making the product the best you possibly can rather than providing incentives. If the Bandit Commander aids in that endeavor, terrific. If not, then my vote would be to leave him out and put the cash to where it will do the most good.

      By the way, I love the town records idea. Come on stretch goals!

    17. Missing avatar

      Tom on

      How about custom dice to track damage on the monsters instead of damage chits?

    18. Duncan A. Doherty

      @Isaac: I feel like some of the people shouting "No, DON'T DO IT" didn't even read the update, and just assumed you were going back on your principles. *sigh* Take a moment to reread it folks, if anything, the mini would be a TIMED exclusive and available for separate purchase later...thus, not really exclusive, except that he won't be in the retail box. Isaac wouldn't be going back on his word, but it provides a little incentive for people to back now who would otherwise wait for retail. This is literally a win-win situation, and yet some want to continue shouting "NO" from the rooftops. These types of cheerleaders are just as harmful as those in the other camp, especially when this excellent compromise makes things a non-issue.

      To be clear, I 100% agree with your stance, though I do back campaigns that have exclusives from time to time. If I ever end up designing a game myself, I'd probably run a KS campaign much the same way you're doing now, including something nice for the backers that doesn't affect gameplay, like the Bandit Leader up there. As I said in the previous paragraph, this is an excellent compromise, and I welcome it with open arms. Keep in mind though, you are mostly only going to hear from a vocal minority on either side of the fence, so at the end of the day, it comes down to you. If you feel like making us feel extra-special, do it; conversely, if we're special enough already in your eyes, don't. It is entirely YOUR call. I'll never say no to a decoder ring, though :D.

      As for the town records, in my opinion this is the best stretch goal yet! Seriously, everything you said about them just drove the hype through the roof. I can't wait to see what else you've got in store.

    19. Belisarius

      As we all backed the game without exclusives, i think it is fair to say that those here don't require or expect them and made a pledge not expecting a KS exclusive. That said, I think it is a nice gesture that will be widely appreciated.

      Note - the figure as you describe it is a kickstarter exclusive by the definition used by all other kickstarters i've been in - in that it means it will not be available at retail, just through conventions etc

    20. Jason Kossowan on

      I don't need a secret decoder ring. I'm having enough fun helping a company get off the ground that insists on quality, innovative, fun games.

      That being said, I understand those that say it's not enough to incentivise some who feel the campaign to be "just a pre-order" and are willing to wait for retail. I personally feel no need to see that change as a backer, so if you don't as a designer, we're good.

      With the speed that it's funding I'd say focus your energy on stretch goals. They appear to be coming fast. :) No bloat please, keep it tight! So far I'm digging your ideas.

    21. drone9 on

      Exclusives are not necessary.

      But if you really want to include a thank you rather than doing a mini I would opt for a nice postcard featuring art from the game. Either a single card with the cover art of the box or a set of three cards featuring different artwork of the game. This should be much more cost efficient, adds nothing to the game and works at every backer level.

    22. Missing avatar

      Jared Wilson on

      I like the idea of a Boss miniature thrown in to say 'Thank you' to KS backers. That's awesome of you to do Isaac. And I don't mind if the miniature is available for other people down the road. The more the Merrier!

    23. Jean-Philippe Garcia Ballester on

      I would prefer the KS boxes to be exactly the same as retail boxes. However, I understand some people want freebies, but I hope these will be widely available on the bgg store.

    24. Steven Ford on

      To me it's not a sense of wanting to feel 'special' or rewarded. I just simply need some sort of incentive to back the project. It's $80 (with UK shipping) which isn't even a discount. So why back now? I'm not rich and whatever altruism I may be able to afford surely will not be directed towards board games, but something a little more worthy.

      In a nutshell, I see backing a game as a purchase, a pre-order more or less and it requires an incentive for me not to simply wait until the game is released. I'm wary of making that statement because I know people will be touchy about it and see it as some kind of ultimatum. It isn't intended that way. I appreciate that the creator can run his project as he sees fit, according to his own principles. It's jut a statement of my personal position. BS aside, not everyone on Kickstarter is someone with too much disposable income throwing it at enterprising people. Many people look for value. And the majority actually have gaming budgets.

    25. andvaranaut on

      I'll chime in even though I'm (sadly) not following the campaign as closely as I'd like. I'm also in the "no exclusives" camp. Of course, it would be awesome to get the extra mini, but make it easy (or at least possible) to purchase later for people who happen upon Gloomhaven after the KS campaign.

      I personally like the Artipia/Tiny Epic model - nothing is exclusive, but some/all of the extra content which is given for free to backers is not in the base game box and has to be purchased separately.

      I guess it's likely to have been mentioned already, but some kind of "multi-party pack" with enough extra material to support more than one group of players simultaneously (for example, enough extra cards to allow up to 8 players to have their own battle decks separate and ready) could be a good candidate. Another option I can think of is extra scenarios in a separate book.

      Keep up the good work!

    26. Inustar on

      Who knew this was gonna be a touchy subject.
      But my opinion is that most of us backed the game because we wanted to own the game. But yeah, lots of us like feeling special. I would concur with a lot of the comments here, instead of a mini maybe have something like element sculpts or a special version of something normally included in the game.

    27. James on

      No exclusive, and I don't think the mini is necessary. To be trite, contributing to the creation of the game is it's own reward :)

    28. Missing avatar

      Mike Daneman on

      To add my 2 pennies: I like the boss miniature and would like to see it added for the backers, but have it not be exclusive (or be a timed exclusive) and be later available on BGG or another sources.

    29. Missing avatar

      Robert Yee on

      Another comment on the +1 no exclusives... usually exclusives typically adds project delay, too many projects have too many delays with all these extraneous stuff.

    30. Missing avatar

      toshuman on

      *not exclusive, purchasable later (sorry)

    31. Paul Gaffney on

      I am on board with "no exclusives". I am not backing this project to make sure I get something no one else can have - I'm backing it to make sure it exists and is great. I am REALLY tired of the idea that I have some "right" to special things no one else can have (and having it available at a convention doesn't make it not exclusive) because I have backed a project, and will probably reduce or remove my backing if the decision does come to include something exclusively for backers.

    32. Missing avatar

      toshuman on

      Other thoughts I had for non-game-changing exclusives: deck box for all the shop cards with Gloomhaven (the town or even shop owner) art, storage solutions for your character between sessions including a way to track your check boxes and exp tokens, a small Gloomhaven board to lay out w/ spaces for all the things to do in town and that tracks reputation, card art on the action cards (probably least feasible).

    33. Missing avatar

      toshuman on

      I like the no exclusives stance. You are talking to a large crowd of completionists after all. I do think it is strange to do the mini for the one enemy since it will stand out. My first thought is maybe getting a mini for one or more of the summons. That might be weird for the standee people but it makes more sense in my head for the mini backers. That way you can add some character to one of the summons you bring out frequently. Maybe a couple small minis or something (since I don't know all the cards or what all the summons are).

    34. Missing avatar

      Andy Goldman

      Exclusives aren't a big deal. No need!

    35. Thomas on


      Personally I think that your stance is pretty awesome. Though I like exclusive minis, its not because they are exclusive, its because they are miniatures :) I love all kinds of miniatures, so extra miniatures, which doesnt really enhance the game, only to make it look prettier, seems like a pretty sweet deal to me.

      So, I am in the camp that says +1 to non-exclusive minis.

    36. Jardanes

      Easter eggs in the game with the name of all backers would be amazing but I want that boss mini so bad!

    37. Ravendas on

      Balriel, your English is fantastic, no worries!

    38. Balriel on

      Hi Issac,
      I'm a french backer and don't comment as well the project because I'm not so fluent with Shakespeare language than with the Molière one �.
      I want to let my opinion know :
      If I back a game in KickStarter it's not for the exclusive content but for a fair price and why not an earlier shipment than for retail one.
      As a Human I will however be a little bit exiting by the exclusive miniature but it will not change my point of view regarding this project. I'm looking for a great cooperative board game and I think I've found it : YOUR GAME.

      So, do as you think to be the best way to satisfy the most people, and don't take care about the ones who are not satisfying (we couldn't be appreciated by the whole).

      I've however read a comment which purpose to send a "KickStarter Thank You" stickers to paste (or not) on the box of your game. For me it seems to be a good idea too.

      I hope my English is not too bad and wish you the best success for this game.

      Thank you again for the project.

      Balriel, a little French backer �

    39. Ravendas on

      Edit: The KS exclusive is Morgan Freeman reads your name in the long list of backers, delivered in mp3 format.

    40. Ravendas on

      Stretch Goal: linked mp3 files of the contents of the Town Records, read by Morgan Freeman.

      Perhaps an app where you play the selected clip with a click :)

    41. Jesus Berjano on

      As others have said I like your stance against exclusives, and I find out of place the mini, mostly in the standees version of the game. Why not to include an sticker for the world map that represents the community that backed you up or something like that?

      And by the way, the town records idea you mentioned for the next stretch goal sounds awesome :)

    42. Missing avatar

      Christoph Moritz on

      Bandit commander is cool!

    43. Justin van der Merwe on

      +1 to the no exclusives camp. I'm a completionist and nothing puts me off buying a game more than exclusive promos. I was on the fence about backing Gloomhaven until I saw the promise of no exclusives, then I thought that is a stance I want to support. Saying that I went for the odd combination of standees and miniatures add-on... I like my games to either be miniatures or standees only... but I just couldn't resist the miniatures, which will be used for other games and RPGs :D

    44. Missing avatar

      James Kennedy on

      I do like the idea of an extra sticker for your board or box which says that we helped make this world. That's just a cool idea, and it's not the sort of 'exclusive' that will cannibalize your future sales in the aftermarket.

    45. Missing avatar

      ChadTheImpaler on

      I'm good with the Bandit Commander mini but I wouldn't mind an add-on for all the boss minis.

    46. Missing avatar

      K-Revenger on

      I like your idea and want the mini :)

    47. Gutris

      "I'm fine with no exclusives. But I'll take the Bandit Commander ;)"

    48. Missing avatar

      James Kennedy on

      Issac, we don't need any exclusives. As a standee backer, I wouldn't have any use for a mini for the first boss. Also, I think that this isn't the sort of exclusive that will satisfy those who are going a bit overboard about there being no exclusives. They would like exclusive dlc content, like "kickstarter exclusive bard class" or "kickstarter exclusive sidequest." I want more classes and more sidequests, but I don't need them to be exclusive to be happy about backing the game.

    49. Tonny Søndergaard on

      +1 no exclusives. I've been following the BGG threads and feel like some good points have been made for either side. That being said, upon reading your previous statement, I really felt like I'd choose the right campagin to back. I think a mini would be out of place and unnecessary. If you really feel like you want to give something to the backers, then make something that does not relate to the gameplay. Make a poster or some coasters of some of the amazing stuff the artist has made. Dosn't even have to be his Gloomhaven-art. I also like the pen idea. I don't like the include all names in the rule book. I'd suggest including an Easter egg on a random tile with a heart carved into a tree or something... Whatever you want man. I'm super stoked for the game either way!

    50. GameFunk on

      I am fine either way and will happily go along with the majority.