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Cthulhu Wars is a strategy/horror board game from Lovecraft's classic Cthulhu Mythos.
Cthulhu Wars is a strategy/horror board game from Lovecraft's classic Cthulhu Mythos.
4,389 backers pledged $1,403,981 to help bring this project to life.

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Then and Now

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Hey all, I trust you are all enjoying your Cthulhu Wars and expansions. I am about to release a new game, which is loosely related to Cthulhu Wars in that it has figures of the same immense scale and quality. And is also an asymmetric strategy game. It even uses a similar Power and spellbook system. The feel of the game is pretty different though. I speak, of course, of Gods War.

As I'm sure you all know, Cthulhu Wars is a lot like a knife-fight in a back alley. Everyone is biting and gouging and rolling around fighting dirty. Gods War feels more like a formal duel - there are rules, and people are polite (sometimes), but in the end you are still trying to kill each other. 

Which game is better? Well, my testers are 50/50 on this, and they actually change their position periodically. Basically when we've been playing Cthulhu Wars a few times in a row, they start getting antsy for Gods War and vice versa. I guess the two games scratch slightly different itches. But without further ado, I have a teaser trailer to show you and then a bunch of comparison photographs. 

 

Here is the Mad God vs. Cthulhu.
Here is the Mad God vs. Cthulhu.

 

Here is Shub-Niggurath vs. the Hellmother
Here is Shub-Niggurath vs. the Hellmother

 

Here is Nyarlathotep vs. the Emperor (yes, he's a dragon wrapped around a throne)
Here is Nyarlathotep vs. the Emperor (yes, he's a dragon wrapped around a throne)

 

Here our Kraken confronts Abhoth.
Here our Kraken confronts Abhoth.

 

Dark Young vs. a Stormbrother
Dark Young vs. a Stormbrother

 

The King in Yellow on a date with the Magna Mater. Her base looks really huge I know, but it is only a temp.
The King in Yellow on a date with the Magna Mater. Her base looks really huge I know, but it is only a temp.

 

Rhan-Tegoth takes on the Sun God. Perhaps old Sunny can melt the eternal ice that imprisons Mr. Tegoth.
Rhan-Tegoth takes on the Sun God. Perhaps old Sunny can melt the eternal ice that imprisons Mr. Tegoth.

 

Panda & Petersen. Games, that is.

88 likes

This is Sandy Petersen. I would like to straighten out some facts regarding the production of Cthulhu Wars and Panda Game Manufacturing’s involvement. I’ve just been made aware of some internet postings regarding Panda and their involvement in the production of Cthulhu Wars. 

The bottom line is that Petersen Games holds no grievance towards Panda Game Manufacturing. Panda helped us to produce an extremely ambitious and groundbreaking game. They’ve continued to partner with us and assist our company even after the game was produced and delivered - even after we switched manufacturers for our second wave! This kind of loyalty is not often found in the business world and we are extremely grateful to Panda. 

Panda is our friend

I would like to ask you, our customers and loyal fans, not to throw Panda under the bus in public forums. Panda was certainly not singlehandedly responsible for the delays in Cthulhu Wars. Cthulhu Wars was an extremely ambitious and groundbreaking project. No one in the world had done anything like it. Our crowdfunding campaign was in 2013, when campaigns for games were just starting to get big, and project creators (i.e., us) were less sophisticated. Even worse, this was Petersen Games' first board game ever. We had a lot to learn. Given the revolutionary components of the game, even a large and more experienced publisher would have experienced difficulties - we know this for a fact! My original estimated delivery date of December 2013 was extremely naive. Shortly after the wildly successful campaign, we moved as quickly as we could to find a manufacturer. Panda was the right choice. They were experienced and their previously produced games were first-rate. However, we had never dealt with a Chinese manufacturer (or indeed, any manufacturer) before and of course Panda had never dealt with Petersen Games. 

In the early stages, Petersen Games underwent some personnel changes, and during this process, some of our institutional memory was lost. Significantly, some key information we'd gotten directly from Panda was forgotten during this changeover. This also caused significant delays in production. As I have previously stated in this venue, during the spring of 2014, Petersen Games believed that Panda was working diligently on the project while Panda was in fact still waiting for their final contract. As a result, the production didn't start until July 2014 - months after Petersen Games had believed it was underway. A failure in communication caused this delay of months - any blame here is shared between our companies, and is obviously not all Panda's fault. 

Shortly after production began, Panda's (now former) plastics supplier grossly underestimated the complexity of the plastics production, resulting in a further delay of 2-3 months. This delay is plainly not Panda's fault (though admittedly Petersen Games thought it was at the time).  In truth, Panda made herculean efforts to ensure that this would never happen again. (We'll get to what they did about it later on.)

In the end, the project was delivered about 12 months late. It’s unfair to blame Panda for the entire delay, and Petersen Games never did so. In hindsight, neither Petersen Games nor Panda Game Manufacturing were properly set up for a project as perplexing as Cthulhu Wars. In our defense, it is doubtful any company could have done much better - at best they would just have made different mistakes than did we! And in fact, given the challenges of creating Cthulhu Wars, it is highly likely that another company may well have failed. 

For all our delays, think of it - there were large game kickstarter projects that funded BEFORE Cthulhu Wars, and yet delivered afterwards. Or not at all Look at the Call of Cthulhu kickstarter, which didn't even include miniatures. It was run simultaneously with the Cthulhu Wars campaign, and only now is being fulfilled, thanks largely to a change of management (Petersen Games loves Chaosium's new team) . So really, Petersen Games and Panda did great - better than many others. 

But we still underestimated the time it needed, and for that, and for our mistakes, we are sorry. I'll be frank, the delays hurt us too. I had to mortgage my house in order to get the Cthulhu Wars expansions out. I do not regret this a bit, however. (And our company is on steady financial ground now.)

How hard was Cthulhu Wars to create? 

In August 2013, a major American hobby company approached us. They wanted to publish Cthulhu Wars on our behalf! I was thrilled, and they flew out myself and our copy of the game (we only had one!) to their site for them to check it out. They loved the game! BUT, in the end, they refused to publish it due to the perceived difficulties! In other words, Cthulhu Wars was too hard for them to produce. This was a huge publisher, with hundreds of personnel, warehouses, and their own manufacturing facility. Yet they in the end refused even to try to produce it. In our hubris and naivete, we went straight ahead at Petersen Games, with our miniscule team (just 3 people at the time), and no facilities whatsoever! In large part, we succeeded in our insane plan ONLY because of Panda's contribution, and Panda deserves kudos for their assistance in this process. 

Whatever our missteps along the way, the final game of Cthulhu Wars is widely hailed as a great achievement. Panda was a necessary and central part of that production. Both Petersen Games and Panda Game Manufacturing learned from this lesson and have turned our former weaknesses into strengths.

What has Panda done about it? 

Panda not only cut ties with their previous plastics supplier but has now partnered with a new plastics facility more than four times as large! The delays seen on Cthulhu Wars will never happen again.

Panda also hired an in-house senior plastics technician with over 10 years of experience in producing high quality miniatures. 

We have personally traveled to China, and seen Panda's current production of plastics miniatures and they are excellent. (The miniatures always were top notch - but now Panda also has a massively larger production bandwidth for speed in manufacture.) 

TL, DR

Panda is a highly effective company capable of producing top-flight plastics and boardgames of quality up to and beyond the level of the original Cthulhu Wars. At the end of the day, both Panda and Petersen Games want to bring beautiful games to the community. Most importantly, we want to thank all our backers for being part of our projects and thank you for your patience and understanding.

The Gates are Opening!

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We’ve all seen cool paint jobs for the Cthulhu Wars figures by now. Painted versions of Cthulhu, Hastur, etc. all tarted up and ready for the dance have been spammed across the internet.

But a highly talented fan, Anthony Stockseth (AKA blackchance) painted up special gates for each of the published factions! These are fantastic and unusual, and I wanted to share them with everyone.

They really do show how well the figures paint up, and I am sure many of you will get ideas from these excellent images. 

 Mr. Stockseth does take commissions, and can be contacted via the Boardgamegeek messaging system. The text below is Mr. Stockseth speaking: 

First, Crawling Chaos: 

Crawling Chaos Gate
Crawling Chaos Gate
 
Crawling Chaos Gate Detail
Crawling Chaos Gate Detail

I went for a sort of barren desert theme for him, and added some dying foliage to give it a little bit of contrasting texture. The sand is real sand, which I ground down to finer particles using a mortar and pestle, and carefully applied to the mini using a spray-on adhesive, from a single direction, to give it a wind-blown effect. Much love for Seraphim Sepia from Citadel on this paint-up. 

 Up next, Great Cthulhu: 

Great Cthulhu Gate
Great Cthulhu Gate
 
Great Cthulhu Gate Detail
Great Cthulhu Gate Detail

I wanted to make Cthulhu's Gate look as though it just emerged from the depth of the ocean, so I covered it in some mossy algae/seaweed patches, and made sure that the entire gate had a glossy look to it, as though still wet from having risen out of the water. 

 Now for Sleeper's gate: 

Sleeper's Gate
Sleeper's Gate
 
Sleeper Gate Detail
Sleeper Gate Detail

 I'll admit that the idea for this gate was savagely stolen from Chase/SlyMcNasty's paint-up of the Sleeper faction. I really loved the way the lava floe looked on the bases of his units, and I hoped to imitate it. I went for a bit darker rock color scheme, and some brighter colors in the lava. This does two things, it cuts down glare, so I did not paint up ambient light onto the rock, and it gives the feeling of a darker overall environment, as with the inside of a cave. I hope you guys like it. 

 Here is Opener's gate: 

Opener of the Way Gate
Opener of the Way Gate
 
Opener of the Way Gate Detail
Opener of the Way Gate Detail

This one, sadly, did not photograph quite as well as some of the others, due to a careful artistic choice on my part. I actually love the look of this one in person more than almost any of the other gate paint-ups, because of the doorway to another galaxy that exists in the middle of the gate. It was a experiment gone amazingly right, and in person it's beautiful. However, I put a matte varnish over the doorway, instead of a gloss varnish. This helps bring the color out in person, but it really sucks to try to photograph, because the light doesn't penetrate as well, and tends to wash across it. I do love this gate though. 

 This is Black Goat's gate: 

Black Goat Gate
Black Goat Gate
 
Black Goat Gate Detail
Black Goat Gate Detail

I cannot say enough about Citadel's technical paint, Blood for the Blood God, and these images should tell you why. This is not fresh paint, and this gate has seen several games since I finished it, and it really does look this amazing. I wanted to go for very simple little details on this one, such as the whole human heart in one of the offering pots, and the subtle trickle of blood leading up to it. This one is by far the least modified out of all of them, and is a good tribute to what a simple, good paint job can do to a mini. 

 Here is Windwalker's gate: 

Windwalker's Gate
Windwalker's Gate
 
Windwalker Gate Detail
Windwalker Gate Detail

This was a total experiment, as I had never attempted snow effects on a mini before. I am absolutely in love with how this turned out, and I'll be using this effect on many other of Windwalker's figures as I get them painted. It was a simple mix of White Glue (known as Elmer's Glue in the U.S.) baking powder, and extremely finely ground white sand. The snow goes on like a globby paste, but it coats and covers very well. You can do this just fine without the sand, I just wanted a little extra texture to it. 

Here's Yellow Sign!

Yellow Sign Gate
Yellow Sign Gate
Yellow Sign Gate Detail
Yellow Sign Gate Detail

This is my coup de grace, the gate that I easily spent the most time and effort on! A friend is a big Warhammer 40K guy, who happened to have a lot (and I mean A LOT) of extra parts and pieces for his Undead armies, which he donated to the cause. There are all manner of bones in here, legs, arms, skulls, ribcages, abdomens, etc. And they are all in various states of assembly, with many of them positioned to appear as though they are crawling up the gate. When a High Priest or Dark Young is atop the gate, it actually looks as though the skeletons are gripping the sides of his base. This is, essentially, my tribute to Richard Luong's portrait of the King in Yellow, wherein all of the undead are clawing their way up to him. I painted up the gate completely, and then primed and assembled the skeleton parts separately, building and affixing them to the gate as they wanted to fit, then painted them last. There are a few neat effects where the bones appear to have cracks and splinters in them.

Yet another update. Post-final I guess.

22 likes
ALL of our “edge cases” have been shipped now. Only an unlucky few have not yet gotten their stuff. If you are one of them, it is literally on its way. Hang tight. 

If you think something is amiss, please contact support@petersengames.com for help!

The Colour Out of Space

Also, I wanted to mention that my special Colour Out of Space variant for the game has been issued as a .pdf. It is intended for use with the colored gates which will be sent to backers of our Onslaught Two kickstarter, but of course they can be used with the normal gates (just put a dab of paint on them). I don’t think it is up on our website just at this moment, but you can get it at BoardGameGeek here.

A nearly-final update

58 likes

I say it's "nearly" final, because this is the last major update to make on Cthulhu Wars. *sniff* My baby has left the nest and is now out in your hot little claws, with luck bringing joy and terror to every heart. Dozens of creatures, never-before-figured, have awesome plastic models, and we have all reaped the rewards.

Our plan for the future is to use the Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter updates only to signal about new projects. Or (Shub-Niggurath forbid!) if some issue comes up with the unfortunate few whose packages are still on their way. 

It has been a long path through twisty little corridors.

Well, at last Cthulhu Wars has made it! We are so grateful for your support. It enabled us to produce what may be the greatest Lovecraft game of all time, and now it’s in your hands. Everyone has their game materials now, with a small handful of exceptions, who have only received part of their orders. If you are one of the unlucky few – please rest assured that we know every one of you by name, and are focused on completing the task. 

I have thrown myself wholeheartedly into the task of getting this game out to you – including mortgaging my house when our costs went up unexpectedly. I was happy to do it to ensure that you all got what you had pledged for, and deserved. I hope you will agree that the final result was worth the wait.

Why did it take so long?

I would like to do a sort of post-mortem here, and discuss each of the different tentative “ship dates” I am responsible for – all of which we missed. I am humbled by the errors we made from naivety and optimism, but happy for the experience and wisdom we gained for our future projects. 

DECEMBER 2013. Way back when, we actually promised this date. From the start I thought this was unlikely, but my business partner of the time assured me it was easy, and urged the date on me. He is no longer my partner for other reasons. I regret accepting his advice on this, but I also take responsibility for having done so. I chalk this incredibly early date to inexperience. I had only a vague idea how long it would take to do a boardgame (I hadn’t done one since the first Arkham Horror, back in 1987), plus more importantly I did not yet realize just how record-makingly massive the Cthulhu Wars project was.

APRIL 2014. So we bumped the date to April 2014. In January 2014 we had our first prototypes from China. Flushed with success, we felt the game was practically here, and I over-optimistically projected a shipping date. Alas many more hurdles remained and I was, again premature.

AUGUST 2014. I do not take the blame for this estimate – our original Chinese manufacturer must shoulder it. In April, we were led to believe by the factory that they were actively tooling for the game. We sent them a purchase agreement, which they sent back weeks later with some errors. We corrected it, and sent a new agreement. They returned it again weeks later, with more errors. This went on for 3 months. Our agreement wasn’t finalized until late July. During all this time, we believed they were moving forward on tooling, and early production, per verbal communication. But they did nothing during this time, except to delay and write errors into the purchase agreement. We did learn from this fiasco, and now we are very pro-active about checking on the factory. In fact, I sent my business manager and my son to China that summer to see what was going on, and immediately, production jumped into high gear. Lo and behold.

OCTOBER 2014. Again, for this delay I do not blame myself. The manufacturer wouldn’t commit on when the core game would ship from China for the longest time. When they did commit (in August) they said it would ship the last week of October. We were sad it had taken so long, but happy that at last we had a date. Then, in October, they told us they had “forgotten” about a 2 week Chinese holiday (the Moon festival), and that the game would be delayed further. We were livid, and let me be frank – we neither believe nor accept this excuse - how could they not know about their own annual holiday? But there was nothing we could do except fume. I sent my son to China right after Essen Spiel and he did his best to put the fear of God into them. At this time, tooling for the expansions was well on its way. However, due to what had happened and other factors, we spent over a month trying to identify an acceptable replacement factory for them, including my son visiting and talking to a dozen factories during 9 days in China. When we settled on one, they immediately were able to begin tooling for the expansions.  

DECEMBER-JANUARY 2015. This turned out to be the actual date for the core game. Our past disappointments taught us a lot. Our own blunders cost us time and money. The ploys of our manufacturer cost us more time and more money. Through it all we emphasized keeping the quality top-notch. 

DECEMBER 2015. Having turned to a different manufacturer for the expansions, I think most of you would agree that the delay we faced in the transfer was worth it. We had a fairly high breakage rate in the original core game, but not in the expansions, where there has been vanishingly little damage. (And, if you are one of the few who did get a broken bit, we are as always happy to replace it for free.). By all accounts, the expansions are better produced, look nicer, and are higher quality. 

Are we mad at our original manufacturers, Panda Games?

Not all the delays were on them. They DID produce excellent quality work. It was mostly just the slow speed of production we weren’t prepared for. We have let them know our feelings in great detail, and we may yet again work with them in the future (though with more pro-active questioning and visits). We lost many months of time due to them. To be fair, the game took a year longer than our initial estimate, so I guess Petersen Games must take some of the blame. There is plenty of blame to go around.

How have you dealt with the delays?

Internally these delays give us fits. They cost us time, money, and precious good will. We have taken two major steps to try to deal with the fallout from these delays. First, we are active with updates, and try to be as honest as possible about the delays. We are generally positive and optimistic instead of gloom-and-doom, but that’s my personality. That’s Petersen Games’ promise to you. What have you learned? Well, what does not kill us makes us stronger, right? We have been flexible throughout the process, shifting manufacturers and shippers around. We now are much more proactive with our new factory, and have visited them four times in person, during the production of the expansions. This new way of doing things has dramatically improved communication and understanding for such a massive board game project, leading to a much quicker job of producing the expansions. 

We are willing to take any steps to ensure a smoother and quicker process except compromising on the quality of the game components themselves. I am unduly proud of the success that has been Cthulhu Wars, and I and my team feel it was worth the wait. We hope you do too. Thank you thank you thank you We are so grateful for your support bringing us to this point. We have risen from a nonentity to being the producer of one of the hobby’s premier games. We will never forget who did this for us. If it was not for your faith, as well as your patience, we would not be here, and we would all have to return to our day jobs.

A note about US and Asia shipping

The shipping partners responsible for our US and Asia regions provided us with overly optimistic fulfillment estimates for the expansions. They repeatedly missed these dates, always providing new ones. The remaining US orders are partial orders - our US shippers simply did not include all of the SKUs needed for these orders, and you received some expansions, but not others. Combining this lack of diligence with the repeated delays, we have decided to no longer use them for any future projects. We are currently working on the other edge cases. 

Unfortunately, it seems that all of Central and South American is “edge cases”. They are supposed to have shipped, according to our vendor. A handful of people in Asia need to provide the shipper with phone numbers, or it won’t be delivered. Please answer our e-mails on the topic.

How can I help Petersen Games move ahead?

Sign up for our newsletter! (it's a link on our website, Petersengames.com).

Check out our upcoming game Gods War (probably launching in April 2016). It has the same amazing figures and quality you saw in Cthulhu Wars but in a dark fantasy setting. I am extremely proud of the job I have done on Gods War, and I think anyone who likes asymmetrical strategy will find it the perfect companion game to Cthulhu Wars.