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.)
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.