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Defend your fortress while sending forth heroes and minions to lay claim to Ankar in this MOBA-style tower defense for 1-4 players.
Defend your fortress while sending forth heroes and minions to lay claim to Ankar in this MOBA-style tower defense for 1-4 players.
4,465 backers pledged $530,369 to help bring this project to life.

Pledge Manager FAQ and an Education on Worldwide Shipping Costs

Posted by Josh & Adam Carlson (Creator)
66 likes

Hey folks!

The pledge manager is in full swing, and we're seeing a ton of awesome activity. Thanks so much for your continued support of this project. We are also seeing plenty of concern from some of you in the "Rest of World" regions regarding the shipping costs you're seeing, particularly when adding multiple copies or additional bundles. 

After a long meeting this morning to double and triple check our numbers (they are correct, crazy as that may seem), we wanted to give you a peek behind the curtain of how a small company like us manages to ship worldwide.

It Costs What it Costs

So for starters, let's just call it like it is. International shipping, regardless of where you're sending something, regardless of fulfillment center used, is ridiculously and painfully expensive. This is true even of small packages, but it's *especially* true with massive board game boxes full of heavy components. Every board game company handles this in their own way. For us, we have chosen to (in most cases) charge *actual* shipping, occasionally eating some of that cost ourselves. 

Other companies can afford to subsidize further. This is typically because their cost per unit is much cheaper than our own so they have more margin to work with. Along with that, they may have retail distributions relationships or be selling high enough quantities worldwide that it makes using local fulfillment centers and offering deep shipping discounts and averaging a no-brainer for many regions and countries. Sadly, we cannot touch the kind of courier discounts many of these companies can achieve. Not yet. 

We are not quite to such a level yet in terms of sales volume, and obviously we are not in retail. Therefore we are limited to the fulfillment centers we currently have in place (Spiral Galaxy, Chip Theory HQ, and Starlit Citadel in Canada). 

Awkward Adolescence and Growing Pains

Ultimately what this update really boils down to is that we are in an awkward stage of growth right now, akin to awkward adolescence. 

We’ve felt it with each passing campaign in the past 2 years.

We didn’t have quite enough customer service help to handle Undertow component replacement requests in a timely manner after Undertow delivered, but didn’t have enough work for another full time customer service employee prior to Undertow delivery. We’ll call this our uneven and patchy facial hair.

We didn’t have quite enough warehouse help to chew through Undertow fulfillment as fast as we had wanted. We’ll call this acne.

We are big enough and our games are received well enough to appear like a large player in the industry, but not being in retail and only selling in our web store can create a false impression publicly of how much influence and pull we actually have with both manufacturers and logistics companies (including fulfillment centers). We’ll call this sudden onset of body odor. 

There are so many things that we’ll be able to address once we grow just a bit larger as a company, but for the moment we continue to simply punch above our weight while we keep on growing (painfully) into our adult body. 

We anticipate soon that we’ll have the leverage and quantities to improve our international shipping rates and add fulfillment centers in additional countries. For now, we’re doing the best we can and we appreciate your understanding and patience. Even the vocal detractors on the message boards help keep regions of the world that are particular pain points for us top of mind. Australia: we hear you. Give us another year (or maybe even just a few months)...to put on a bit more muscle mass and learn to shave. We certainly don’t anticipate living in this stage forever.  

Cloudspire Specific Shipping

A few of you have commented on the fact that it seems to be *more* expensive to add additional copies of Cloudspire to your pledge than the base shipping charge.

That is true and accurate.

The reason for this is that we have fairly heavily subsidized the shipping of all of the base pledges. As additional weight is added, that subsidization goes down a bit (we *are* still subsidizing things, however). 

The shipping prices listed in the campaign have not changed for any of the base pledges, so those of you internationally who are seeing very high shipping rates are seeing them specifically because you've added things beyond your Cloudspire base pledge. 

Adding Add-ons or "$264 for 30kg!? Are you out of your mind!?"

To answer the question posited above...no. We're not out of our mind.

This is legitimately what it costs to ship a 30kg package across the world with the options available to us. For individual packages like this, our two most realistic choices are to either freight it to its destination country (in a container with all other orders for that country, which has a major cost of its own) and let a local fulfillment company handle it, or send it via an international shipping courier (in this case that means UPS or DHL). 

Local fulfillment houses (such as Aetherworks in Australia) have minimum order quantities to take on a project at a reasonable rate. Establishing and managing a foreign fulfillment relationship also takes up time and has administrative cost associated with it (to the point that we'd need to hire another full-time staff member to handle it with our small team's current workloads). 

Let's continue using Australia for this example (one of the most expensive places to ship in the current pledge manager shipping tables). We had 123 total Australian backers. A high percentage of those were $1.00 backers. This is not a finger pointing exercise, but understand that we can only go to Aetherworks with committed backers who have at least pledged for the base games. With those numbers in hand, point blank we simply didn't have the quantities necessary to make both a separate container to Australia and the overhead associated with establishing a new fulfillment partner a reality. 

Now you can *certainly* make the argument that *until* we get places like Aetherworks into the fold we will *never* see enough growth in Australia to make it feasible. You might be right (classic chicken/egg argument), and we certainly anticipate making this jump at some point. But right now we are in the midst of an intense growth period. To keep the company financially stable, debt-free, and running as lean as possible, it's simply not a risk we can currently take on. 

So. With all of that context in hand, let's address the actual cost of shipping a 30kg package to Australia via UPS or DHL Express. It is *drumroll*...actually over $300. 

Crazy. Yes. Insane. Yes. But it's the honest to God truth. We wish it weren't, but it is.

Even after subsidizing almost $50 of the shipping charge, you're still left with a $264 shipping charge if you add a Hoplo and TMB bundle to your Cloudspire pledge. That's not a joke, and if you'd like to try it we'd invite you to head over to your local DHL shop and try shipping something of this size yourself. This is also assuming it's going to ship in a single box, which of course isn't the case. Cloudspire, TMB, and Hoplo bundles all need to be shipped in separate boxes - so even these prices are a bit under what the reality is. 

Gamesquest vs. Spiral Galaxy

We would have a hard time counting the number of times we were asked *why* and *how* we could *ever* use Gamesquest again for Undertow after their speed, communication, etc. And the answer to that question, in short, was cost. The last few projects, we found the challenges of working with Gamesquest worth the price break we received compared to other fulfillment houses.

The Undertow campaign along with some other factors finally pushed us to the point where we felt it prudent to move. Make no mistake, Spiral Galaxy is absolutely more expensive. Noticeably so, in fact. We continue to walk the tightrope of quality, speed, and price. In this case, receiving the quality and speed we were seeking required an increase in cost. To that end, Gamesquest's rates have *also* gone up with the new year, so there was a cost increase awaiting us, and our backers, with either route. 

We are already *very* optimistic that this increase in price will be a fair trade for the level of consistency, organization, and communication we're receiving from Spiral Galaxy. 

Pledge Manager FAQ

1. Can I reopen my CrowdOx account at a later date to add more things?

- Yes. You will be charged for anything you add right now, but you may always reopen it later to add additional items.

2. I was a European Undertow backer. Where is my $10 credit for dealing with Gamesquest issues?

- Because this $10 credit was specifically for add-ons, you will not see it as a part of your base pledge level. As you advance further into the pledge manager, the credit will appear when you're given the option to add add-ons and close out/confirm the final details of your pledge.

3. I was a European Undertow backer and have backed Cloudspire for $1, where is my $10 credit for dealing with Gamesquest issues?

- So, a slightly different answer here, and apologies in advance for how complicated this needs to be. Because the $10 credit is for add-ons specifically, $1 EU Undertow backers *were not* proactively given their $10 credit. You will first need to add at least the Cloudspire base pledge to your order and close out/finalize your pledge. At that point, you may submit a ticket (chiptheorygames.com/support) so we can verify you have added the base game. We can then add your $10 add-on credit and reopen your account to allow you to add more items. 

4. I'm a Strategist, what do I do?

- This morning we finished loading in the last of our Strategist list into CrowdOx. If you are a Strategist from a prior campaign, you should have a $100 credit waiting for you in CrowdOx to complete your pledge.

- If you are a new (Cloudspire) Strategist, we have sent you an email. The way that CrowdOx/Kickstarter is configured, we were unable to seamlessly allow you to upgrade to any of the Cloudspire bundles. We *are* able to do this manually for you, however. If interested in one of the bundles, please respond to the email you've been sent and our customer service team is standing by, ready to help. 

That's it for now! Thanks again for your support both during the campaign and in the pledge manager. We'll try to answer as many questions as we can in the comments over the weekend, but otherwise will be back Monday to respond to anything we miss over the weekend!

Josh, Adam, and Josh (Ghillie)

Jeffy, Scott Herron, and 64 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      Michael Kemp
      Superbacker
      6 days ago

      I was wondering about how Strategist owners should go about filling out the campaign. Will you guys be sending an email when that credit has been applied to our pledge?

      Thanks!

    2. Ghillie Collaborator on

      @James Phillips - PVC cards are not only more durable, they do not require sleeving. The chips are 11.5g which is a pretty standard weight for poker. They enhance both the stability of stacks of chips on the table and the tactile enjoyment of the game. Doing anything more than a gram lighter would mean using molded chips which would not allow us to have unique stickers/designs on every chip.

      On a larger level, we've talked at length throughout the history of the company about how much we place importance on the tactile and overall experience with our products, not *just* the gameplay. We feel every aspect is important, from the second you open the box to the time you clean up your game. Heavier chips + neoprene *feel* better, and in our opinion (and the opinion of a great many of our fans and customers) quite literally make our games more enjoyable to play than they'd be with less substantial components. The previous update was meant as a primer for those who have maybe never had to ship one of our games before. The overarching point is yes it's expensive to ship and we hope to resolve that in the future via increasing volume and fulfillment locations. We will not, however, be resolving the "problem" of how heavy our games are, because we ourselves do not see it as a problem, but an important part of the character, quality, and enjoyment of our games (not to mention how well they hold their value and resale potential).

      To summarize and take the food analogy all the way to the end: We don't just sell plain burgers *or* plain avocados. We sell avocado burgers ;-)

      Unrelated sidenote: I've been on an intense diet for a month and a half and would kill for a burger *or* an avocado *or* an avocado burger right now :-P

    3. Missing avatar

      James Phillips on

      @Toxic Chibi - you've got that analogy backwards. I feel like a guy who's wandered into something claiming to be a restaurant, and every time I try to order a burger, some other customer wanders over to drone on at me about how amazing Avocado is.

      What is "boutique gaming experience" even supposed to mean?

      I asked a perfectly simple question - what is the benefit of inserting bits of metal into a poker chip? I can see only 1 change - it makes it heavier. Heavier = more expensive to ship. The whole of this update was about what a pain the cost of shipping heavy things is. Are you seriously trying to claim that "boutique gaming experience" is an answer to that question?

      I'm in the market for good gameplay. Assuming the gameplay updates arrive before the pledge manager closes, I'll make my decision based on how good that gameplay looks and how much it will cost to get that gameplay experience. That said, everything is subjective, and I'd be a lot more favourably inclined to risk giving these people my money for a game that no 3rd parties have played yet, if someone could give me a clear, coherent answer about what weighing down the chips does, other than artificially inflate the cost of the whole process?

    4. Toxic Chibi on

      @James - You're at a bacon festival asking for a vegan menu. This is a company that offers a boutique gaming experience. You're either in the market for that or you're not.

    5. Missing avatar

      James Phillips on

      @Ghillie

      Gameplay and components are 2 separate things. I picked up Undertow because I had a chance to without going through the shipping route, and because I'd heard great things about the GAMEPLAY. Having found the Gameplay good, I backed this for $1, trying to decide whether the gameplay was enough to justify the vast expense

      Even if we agree to disagree about making cards out plastic instead of card like every other manufacturer (presumably it makes them more durable?) or chips vs cards or minis etc - can you explain to me how artificially increasing the weight of poker chips is part of a "vision" for gameplay? - As far as I can see, it literally does NOTHING besides making the games ever-so-slightly-more-effort to move around the house, and noticeably more expensive to ship.
      What am I missing?

    6. Toxic Chibi on

      International shipping sucks, but when you see the same 20 dudes complaining about it in project after project, it becomes hard to take seriously. Especially "you". You know who I'm talking about. You've been backing projects with me since 2012 and bitching at the creators each and every time as if they control global freight.

      Stop that garbage and let these folks run their business. If you can't afford it, group pledge or hit the bricks like the rest of us do. Instead of busting out your "can I speak to your manager" haircut here you can spend that time communicating with your government over fees and taxes.

    7. Missing avatar

      Geoff Watson
      Superbacker
      on

      Bullshit. These days it's six weeks AND a $300 charge.

    8. Missing avatar

      Barry Miller
      Superbacker
      on

      That was an awesome update. Yes, it's easy for me to say, living in the U.S. (And I don't take that for granted).
      But many people today seem to have little appreciation for what takes to ship anything across the globe. One hundred fifty years ago, to ship something from the United States to Australia would've taken 6 weeks. Today, it takes only 3 days. When you analyze the full scope of what's required to perform any activity, we find that the actual cost remains the same over time.
      So in this case, the cost of a 6-week wait time is being replaced with a $300 charge. (And when you examine the operating costs incurred by world-wide freight companies, $300 for 30kg, IS fair).

    9. Vascariz on

      "Now you can *certainly* make the argument that *until* we get places like Aetherworks into the fold we will *never* see enough growth in Australia to make it feasible. "

      Yeah obviously... not sure why you out the "*" except maybe to be condescending?

      How about next time you can do a price with shipping but only if X backers is achieved for Australia. I've seen that done before for language specific versions etc. I'm sure you'll see a significant boost in backers from Australia once there's a guaranteed target. Most ppl aren't going to chip in $1 just to hope for much cheaper shipping.

    10. Ben Turner
      Superbacker
      on

      I am too one of those Australians, although I'm one of those darned foolish ones who've already chucked $220 of shipping for TMB, Hoplo and all their expansions over the last two TMB kickstarters.

      Was feeling the fatigue for continuing that for Cloudspire too, I'll confess (probably as it's the one I'm least sure about of the titles; albeit one I'm still super keen for). Looks like we've got someone in touch already about a larger group order, so I'll wait for seeing what rates are there before working out if I shell out another $80 shipping on this one (and the cost of the game too, of course).

      Mind you, I'd pay what I paid for TMB (including the $80 shipping) all over again, it's such a great and fun game to play. It's one of the few games I've got 10+ plays on from my KS investing, and dare say even without Undertow it would have got that many plays again. Sure, I'd love to see local fulfilment, but no point comparing shipping costs to other campaigns and getting the better deal if you're not picking up the better game.

    11. Virral on

      I was one of the Australians waiting to see if shipping costs would come down. My feedback is that you hit the nail on the head, you can't expect widespread aussie support until you work something out with a local fulfillment centre to bring down costs.

      You will probably never have a better chance to do this than with the upcoming TMB kickstarter, it's your most well known and lauded game. I sincerely hope you take the plunge and back yourselves to succeed internationally, I'll be there looking for it but for now I'm out :/

    12. Joe
      Superbacker
      on

      @Adam Appreciate the response. I re-read the update twice again and still don't see anything about contacting you direct for packages over 34kg. I could just be blind or not comprehending correctly though. :)

      I'll send you guys a note with the list of what I am looking to add. Thanks again!

    13. Ghillie Collaborator on

      @James Phillips - It’s not the elephant in the room for us because we will never, ever, compromise our vision in terms of the quality of our gameplay, components and “overproduction.” We make the kind of games we want to play and purchase; pricing, shipping costs, and industry norms be darned. It’s how we’ve established the level of loyalty, success, and reputation we have. It creates issues when it comes to things like shipping, sure, but we’d much rather solve the shipping conundrum with growth (allowing for more fulfillment centers and volume for better rates) than make what we and many of our fans consider to be an inferior product. :-)

    14. Josh & Adam Carlson 8-time creator on

      I believe we covered this in the update. Once you reach a certain threshold (>34kg), we would like you to contact us for a personalized shipping quote!

      -Adam

    15. Joe
      Superbacker
      on

      I know you said shipping is what it is, but can you double check someone going all-in on everything? I am all-in on Cloudspire and was considering getting All-In TMB, the Hoplo bundle and one of each Hoplo addon. No Triplock. This puts me in the 34kg or more category and shipping jumps up to $999. If I drop a few things to get into the 33 to 34kg range, it goes back down to $101. Can I complete the PM for Cloud spire, and then reopen and add TMB and Hoplo to avoid the $900 jump in shipping? Thanks

    16. Missing avatar

      James Phillips on

      So, lots of comments about how expensive it is to ship heavy games, but no reference at all to the elephant in the room - if the games weren’t so overproduced, and the chips weren’t made artificially heavier with bits of metal in, then it wouldn’t be a 30kg box that you needed to ship...

    17. Missing avatar

      ilker on

      @Mikel Bech

      I talked to Starlit yesterday (in person in Vancouver). They will
      process orders next week and there’s no need to worry at all regarding City of Kings shipment.

    18. Josh & Adam Carlson 8-time creator on

      Thank you all for sharing. We are always working to make our games more accessible.

      -Adam

    19. Missing avatar

      John Aronis
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks for the update (but I would suggest making the title "education" is more than a bit condescending). However, wWhen I can go out and buy Gloomhaven at normal retail for the same price as I can get Hoplomachus Rise to Rome off your webstore, I am never going to order Hoplomachus no matter how much I think I will like it. I know several other people who are in similar situations about ordering Too Many Bones, etc.

      But you seem to be aware and happy with the business you are leaving behind by not sorting out better shipping and distribution options.

    20. Missing avatar

      Katanakatana on

      I hate DHL. They are the worst. They alwyas charge extra cost when I get my box here in Canada. UPS are not much better. Canada Post are BY FAR the best here for shipping.

    21. Russonc
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks for the informative update.

    22. Missing avatar

      Mikel Bech on

      Hey guys,

      Not sure if you're aware, but Starlit Citadel is closing next month; at least that's what the employee working there told me just before Xmas. It sounded like the Kickstarter logistics stuff was closing down too... It may be worth following up with the owner to find out what's going on.

    23. Pai
      Superbacker
      on

      Hope your next project can use VFI asia

    24. TigerNineThree
      Superbacker
      on

      Arthur I will say taking a risk on this unknown ip and getting hit with those kinds of numbers for shipping I wouldn't take the chance myself.And you'll be able to watch real world reviews to see if it holds up to the likes of TMB and HOP.

    25. Missing avatar

      Geoff Watson
      Superbacker
      on

      @bigwoof The shipping cost varies by location. US: $20 -- Can: $32 -- UK/EU: $35 -- World: $49, and that's just the base cost - add-ons increase it.

    26. Roman Rak on

      Why is FedEx not in the picture?

    27. Missing avatar

      Arthur Proudfoot
      Superbacker
      on

      As an Australian I will admit that I I did not give a full pledge out of fear of the shipping costs. I really like the look of the game and I know the cost of shipping. I also know there are ways around some shipping costs. I just can not afford a game at that cost level. Very jealous of all my American gamer friends.

    28. Missing avatar

      Trienco
      Superbacker
      on

      Ah, the $10 credit. I completely forgot about that and kept wondering what I added those for. I'll just give it back for (usually) great support.

      Let's just hope SG won't be the next GQ. I see lots of projects announcing their switch to SG, but in the past, it usually meant a 50% chance of dented and/or torn box corners. They seem to be better at properly packaging stuff these days (with extra space and padding, rather than squeezing it into the tightest piece of cardboard available to presumably save a few cents on shipping).

      Though considering my Reckoners pre-order (second EU "wave") was supposed to be sent late November/early December and is now moved to late January due to other campaigns taking longer than expected, I somewhat worry that it will be the same delays as with GQ (or in that regard Happy Shops). There's not much they can do when one project arrives late and messes up the schedule. It's either "well, too bad, we have a free slot for next June" or "we try to get it out, but it will delay a bunch of other projects". Maybe "we'll hire extra workers for your project, it will take a few weeks to get them and cost you several $1000 extra"? Not sure how many would go for that.

    29. Missing avatar

      Riblets on

      As always, I appreciate the transparency CTG puts forward. Feeling very fortunate to be a US backer right now.

    30. Missing avatar

      bigwoof on

      Nice update. Shipping is painful.

      Although I have to state that you are *not * charging actual shipping (no matter what is stated). How can you when you use *one* rate for the entire world. So Australia is probably getting a larger "subsidy" than other places - as you state they are one of the most expensive...

      I hope you don't have too many backers from India, the middle east, Central Africa or other more expensive shipping places too..

      Also "sad" at the lack of Asia shootouts.. We exist too.. 😀 😀