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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.

A nearly-final update

Posted by Sandy Petersen (Creator)

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,

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.


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    1. Jamie B. on

      *Say in public

    2. Jamie B. on

      Just wanted to say again in private what I have told Sandy privately, which is that the second wave was soooooooooooo much nicer: better castings, the correct flexibility to keep the minis from breaking while retaining detail, etc.

    3. Timothy Roller

      Well, I hope you're managing to pay off that mortgage with new sales! It truly is a remarkable game and set of minis.

    4. Michael D'Auben on

      Over the last few years I've probably pledged more Kickstarter than I should have. Out of all of these, however, CW is the one I've need the mist happy with. The game is great, the miniatures are great, and IMO while not cheap it provided a great value for the cost. For all these reasons, pledging your second CW Kickstarter was a no brainer!

    5. Sandy Petersen 23-time creator

      Bless you all for backing me and making Cthulhu Wars a reality. I have dreamed of making this since I was 8 years old and read my very first Lovecraft story (Pickman's Model).

    6. Scott Huber on

      Sandy (and Co.) I don't envy you all that you had to go through to get this game produced, but it is a glorious monument to your abilities and love of Lovecraft's Mythos.

      It has become my family's GAME. (we literally build our weekends around playing).

      The 11 year old me, reading Lovecraft for the first time has been dreaming about minis like this for 32 years. Thank you for finally making them a reality.

    7. Kai Alexis Price on

      Years later, after multiple attempts at washing and extended airings in sunlight, the miniatures from Panda Games still stink whenever the game is opened back up, but I surprisingly found no odor at all on the expansion miniatures from the new manufacturer when I opened the boxes.

    8. Brian Nors on

      Thanks for a great game, with great miniatures!

    9. Missing avatar

      Paul Cooper on

      With a game of this magnitude, I expected delays. I'm just extremely happy with the final product.

    10. Black Kestrel

      Sandy, all you had to say was your manufacturer was Panda Games. They unfortunately are developing a notorious reputation in the Kickstarter community for being a tardy and slipshod production partner. Incursion is a fine example of that.

    11. Orlando_the_Technicoloured

      Cheers for such a fun game with such great minis!

    12. Pitstarter on

      not sure if I missed anything but what about the missing signed art prints for AW and HPL models?

    13. Tore Schade Svenningsson on

      I finally got my expansions some three weeks back. :D

      There was a tiny dent in the corner of one box, and two Zoogs had lost their minds - err - heads. The heads were easily glued back on and everything is now in fine condition. ^_^

    14. Jamie Dobson on

      I'm a UK DVM plus change backer and I've enjoyed the whole process.

      The end result is easily one of the (if not the) best board games we play. We've played the base game dozens of times and now with the oodles of expansions it's a different experience each visit.

      Your steady transparent communication made backing wave 2 a no brainier.

      Kudos Sandy. You did it. And we loved it.

      PS I'd forgotten about gods war :-/ remortgaging might be a theme of your kickstarters :-P

    15. Missing avatar

      AstralWanderer on

      An interesting update and sad to see Panda doing so badly since they have produced other KS games to a high quality standard (Xia being one notable example, which included painted miniature ships). I'd be tempted to speculate that the much larger CW miniatures were outside their capabilities/experience but that certainly doesn't excuse their apparent "forgetfulness".

      On the other hand, I think it fair to say that CW is large to the point of being impractical for some and the storage provided for pieces in the base game is unsatisfactory (yes, the largest pieces have a strong tray for protection but everything else gets lumped together in plastic bags). If PG do a version 2 of the core set, then providing a box large enough to accommodate some expansions (as Steve Jackson Games did with Ogre Deluxe Edition) should be seriously considered.

    16. John D on

      So the boss fight was a panda?

    17. Nicholas J. Corkigian

      As far as how have we handled the delays? Well, as a backer of both of the Chaosium Kickstarters, I barely noticed the delays on this one. ;)

      I've been very pleased with the game both in quality and game play. Your updates have been informative for both design considerations and status reports.

      I had some friends over to play for the first time and they were so impressed they got in on Onslaught Two at the top level.

      It's easy to see you're proud of your game and Sandy, you should be!

    18. Missing avatar


      Thank you very much for the update, Sandy! The game is beautiful and I really enjoyed getting to follow along while it went through production.

      Now that we've gotten that great look back on how Cthulhu Wars got to all of our tables, if you do any more updates I'd love to hear how Cthulhu Wars has been doing post-release (hopefully a massive success that more than makes up for you having to put your house on the line!).

    19. Steven Danielson on

      Thanks for the update; I am very pleased with the final product and I await Gods War with interest !

      One request, more play and play test videos - those are always fun -- it would be great to see more activity on the YouTube front.