I'm On a Boat
Weather and customs agents permitting, that's the day Lyssan lands at the Port of Oakland.
Trial By Fire
If you get stress out of sympathy for others, best skip to the next header. It's no fun for the next few paragraphs.
The last month has been a harrowing one for the game. There was one graphic design mistake that slipped in during the final reworking of the card art, which I missed during the proof review. One emergency print job later, and we have the fixed cards & counters in everyone's copy of the game.
The silver lining: Printing an extra set of cards at the last moment was a chance to add more promo cards. I flirted briefly with the idea of playtesting another batch of full-text promo cards in the week we had to sort out the fix. But no, that would have been madness. So we added nine more blanks, including blank triumphs so you can now muck with the victory conditions of the game. For influence cards, we already had art for another blank surprise, courtier, and vassal that I hadn't had space to use in the original printing. They're in now. This brings the total promo card count up to 21.
While that was getting sorted out, I got the final contract from the warehouse for Lyssan. To make a long story short, it was terrible. I am happy to say that Lyssan is now being warehoused with Chessex, who I hear nothing but good things about. That emergency renegotiation delayed the shipping of Lyssan by two weeks while we got a new address for the shipper to finish the delivery at.*
And while that was getting sorted out, the year's first game conventions were coming up. I popped open another of the advance copies of the game for demos, and some of the cards inside were cracked! Several days of panicked calls to Panda followed, leading to 200 copies of the game getting pulled for spot testing. The end result was that 1% of the copies they re-tested had issues.** We're not delaying shipping for the other 99%. And of course, if you have any problems whatsoever with your copy, let me know! I will make it right.
Conventions Behind, Conventions Ahead
The first couple conventions for Lyssan have come and gone. I bundled up a couple advance copies of the game to show off, met up with boothmate David Fooden to set-up, and launched into 10 days of non-stop "this is Lyssan", straight from KublaCon to Origins. We got to run demos of Lyssan for dozens of new players and more than a few backers, and I got to show off the advance copies the factory had airmailed over.
What surprised me most during these conventions was the details people picked up on. I hadn't expected folks to be appreciative of the artistic care Chris and Allan had put into the conscript counters or the season flipper. I hadn't expected it to sink in that the game was historical rather than fantasy for a play or two. I hadn't expected players to pick up on the little design cues in the tray liner. But time and again, these were the details people picked up on and commented on before they even sat down to play for the first time.
After that, they were laughing about backstabbing each other and giving their friends shame tokens. And that's the way I expected the game to go. Yet, lesson learned: Never underestimate a gamer's eye for detail. I'm humbled by the appreciation players have shown for the little touches we worked into the game, places we never thought anyone would consciously realize. Thanks, everyone.
The conventions to come are:
GenCon: Aug. 16th-19th, Indianapolis, Indiana
Penny Arcade Expo: Aug. 31st - Sep. 2nd, Seattle, Washington
Essen Spieltage: Oktober 18th - 21st, Essen, Germany
BoardGameGeekCon: November 14th - 18th, Dallas, Texas
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* I'm shipping your backer rewards straight from the factory-loft where I live, in Oakland, before the store copies ever get to Chessex's warehouse. However, it's not exactly ideal to get a shipping contract with a final destination of "We're sorting that out; it's somewhere in Fort Wayne, probably." So the shipping got held up while that got finalized.
** Panda expects a defect rate of 0.5% in games they print, normally. We're running half-a-percent high. This means that two backers more than the expected two-or-three will get bum copies and need replacements.
Those of you who know me are guessing that I'll also pull several copies myself as soon as they arrive to do my own tests on. You're guessing right.
No matter what, the bottom line remains: If anything is wrong with your copy, let me know. I will make it right.
And for anyone who finds this after the fact, regarding any game I ever make, and needs broken parts made right: My eMail address is email@example.com. Write me. We'll get it sorted out.
And if there's a second silver lining from all this, it's that I've realized that "Trial By Fire" would be a great name for a Lyssan mini-expansion.