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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.

Panda & Petersen. Games, that is.

Posted by Sandy Petersen (Creator)
90 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.

Comments

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    1. Akule
      Superbacker
      on

      I didn't mind the delays. I just wanted the high quality miniatures that you were going after. Especially since these are miniatures that would have likely never been created aside from this kickstarter.

    2. Gonzalo on

      I think all things considered, the final product it's the most important thing here, and everybody loves it, and that's what everyone will remember in the end. The rest, it's just old history.

    3. Missing avatar

      David Brittain
      Superbacker
      on

      The problem for me was not the delays that's inevitable with every kickstarter, it was the fact that the game was shipped to me with a broken miniatures tray (Definitely no way it was broken during transit that thing is tough) and loose doom points trackers that got bent up during the journey. I don't know who packed the games if it was Panda then I hope you have a word with them about quality control and how they package the game up this time.

      Other than that I was really happy with the quality of the game.

    4. Greg Love on

      A very timely and just post, thank you.
      Full credit to Panda and PG!
      The internet is full of people very eager to pin the blame on others, and broadcast their grievances to the world.
      But you guys did the right thing in this update, and it takes honesty and guts to do so.
      Well done!!

    5. Missing avatar

      Sleet
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks for the interesting update and for explaining that stuff! I'm just sorry to hear that people had been complaining about what was (relative to normal) a very well managed kickstarter!

    6. Arthur K on

      First Kickstarter that didn't throw their Chinese manufacturers under the bus!!! Respect and now I have seen everything!

    7. Bruce - Zen Pledger of Brimstone on

      What an excellent post!

      When the base game was delivered, I did call out Panda on slipshod assembly of the incredibly complex plastics that were included. Having said that, it only took me a day and a couple of bottles of Super Glue to correct every problem save for 3 figures, which had foreign objects embedded in the plastic. These were replaced by PG in short order. I embraced the situation as a learning experience, and discovered a lot that I had not known previously about the chemical properties of Cyanoacrylate adhesive.

      I think it's awesome, that you've stepped up to the plate for Panda, and that you have continued to keep we backers informed with brutal transparency. I've said in these posts before that there are VERY few companies in the game publishing industry that would even consider this sort of open and frank communication with their customers. That is to your credit, and makes me feel proud to have supported you in this 'cyclopean' endeavour!

      Kudos Sandy and PG!

    8. Missing avatar

      Michael Rhodes
      Superbacker
      on

      Lets be honest, with the exception of the big games companies who use KS as a marketing arm I expect all KS games to be late (and I'm not disappointed) as long as the project keep me informed and a re clearly trying to overcome problems - I'm fine. One has to keep ones eyes open for fraud - Up front, but delays form new producers seem inevitable. In fact most KS makers seem to go that extra step and expense to produce a great product. Keep it uo - know where my Cuthulu onslaught 2 :)

    9. AGN1964 on

      I was never worried about the delays. (I am a Robotech backer.)

    10. Missing avatar

      John D Prins on

      Late? Pffft. Talk to the folks over at the Robotech RPG Tactics kickstarter about late (among other problems). Cthulhu Wars really was insanely ambitious, and it got done - late, sure, but done, and done well!

    11. First Fish Games
      Superbacker
      on

      By the sound of your own story it was the fault of your company and not Panda (besides the plastics supplier situation). Yet in your story you keep laying blame on panda which is leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
      Don't get me wrong. I love Cthulhu Wars and I for one didn't mind it taking longer because I understood what a huge task it would be to produce this type of game and I would prefer a good product later than a crap product sooner. And good job on you for pushing through and getting it done.
      I'm just worried you're pulling a Wil Wheaton in the "I take full responsibility, but it's their fault" kinda vibe I'm getting from this msg.

      Besides that I think it's awesome you're being as transparent as you are in trying to make sure everyone doesn't blame Panda (at least not fully) for the delays in the games production.

      Keep doing what you're doing I'm eager to see what Petersen Games has in store for the future.

    12. Robert T. Sagris
      Superbacker
      on

      I have never had a problem with how Peterson Games has run this Kickstarter.

      I've backed nearly 200 projects so far, and while you guys wouldn't rank as the best, you are easily in the top 20% if not top 10%.

      But when coupled with the enormous scope of your campaign and factoring the unique challenges that those bring, Cthulhu Wars rockets into my personal top 10 projects.

      And the game is awesome, I'd take a moderately chaotic and late project to get an awesome product at the end over something that was run by the numbers on time that was lackluster any day.

      People don't need to lower their expectations, they need to put some perspective on to them, and I'm sorry to say, with any Kickstarter, if you're biggest complaint is sticking to a timeline you just don't understand what you are backing. I never take the time estimates as being accurate, ever, and once that's removed the overwhelming number of my backed projects become a joy to watch develope instead of a constant gripe fest over not hitting delivery dates.

    13. Patrik
      Superbacker
      on

      You have done an awesome job both in creating the game but perhaps even more so in managing to produce it. Having an idea is one thing, making it happen is so much more.
      Having started and built businesses myself I know that what you have achieved is a true accomplishment. Happy to support you.

    14. Missing avatar

      Joe Jones on

      Petersen Games continues to be a class act in everythng they do. Bravo sirs and madams

    15. Mark Bruce
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks once again for the transparency and insight into this Kickstarter and its successes and failures.

      Kudos to the team at Petersen games!

    16. Loig
      Superbacker
      on

      Petersen games and panda are simply awesome. Not much more to say :D

    17. Sandy Petersen 24-time creator
      Superbacker
      on

      Thank you all for understanding.

    18. Sean Epperson
      Superbacker
      on

      As a fellow game designer, I have to say that you guys have done a PHENOMENAL job. Were there mis-steps and mistakes along the way? Sure. But you've always gone out of your way to correct them and be incredibly transparent in regards to everything.

      You were putting out an incredible product before anyone was doing anything really like it. Trailblazers often have problems because they're cutting new paths and new ground. It's what you expect.

      I'm happy to have supported you folks, and happy to see that you're having success with your efforts. You have more than earned it, and continue to do right by the community.

      You folks rock!

    19. Timothy Roller
      Superbacker
      on

      Good on ya for defending a partner.

    20. Missing avatar

      Shawn Kehoe on

      Awesome post!

      I had wondered if the kings of American board games had ever taken interest in Cthulhu Wars. :-)