A nearly-final update
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.
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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.