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Zeppelin Attack! is a lean, fightin' deck builder where you play a villainous mastermind in command of a fleet of deadly dirigibles!
1,200 backers pledged $35,524 to help bring this project to life.

Zeppelin Attack: 3x3 Grid; Math; What $10 Gets You; Zeppelin Conquest; Getting the Word Out

Posted by Fred Hicks / Evil Hat Productions (Creator)

We've had a great first day! We're nearly halfway to our first goal, and with over 340 backers. Delicious numbers.

So, keeping with the numeric theme, today I want to dig into our math a little. :) 

3x3 Format Available

But before I do, a quick note: if you want the Print & Play cards in a 3x3 grid format for more efficient printing (possible with Adobe Acrobat's advanced printing options) make sure to pop on over to the backers-only print & play update post and look to the comments. I've linked two files there that should make your life easier!

Math, a.k.a., What $10 Gets You

There've been a few comments about the costs of this project. I wanted to take this moment to unpack the math a bit — perhaps not completely, but enough so that I've shone a light into all the dark corners.

What $1 Gets You: Early, immediate access to the print & play version of the game. In essence this is our "try before you buy" option, an affordable way for fans to show their support, and a way to stay subscribed for updates (like this one). We're super proud of Zeppelin Attack! and want folks to get as much a chance as possible to give it a whirl.

What $10 Gets You: Same thing as $1, plus:

  • The print & play bonus game Zeppelin Conquest, once the Kickstarter concludes (see below for more!)
  • Early digital access where available for any unlocked stretch goal rewards

Truth be told we'd price each of the baseline digital components of this reward — Zeppelin Attack! and Zeppelin Conquest — at at least $5 each. When we start hitting our stretches, getting further digital assets is icing on the virtual cake. :)

What $30 Gets You: Let's break this down.

  • Zeppelin Attack! The physical game: This is MSRP $20. We typically don't sell our own stuff at a discount when it's a physical good that we hope to have carried by game stores.
        First off, the price we put on it is as low as we're comfortable making it while still making sure it's priced appropriate to its value. We could have put this as high as $25 (which we debated up to a couple weeks ago), but decided we really wanted to make it work as a $20 product.
        Secondly, online deep discounting is a bad practice that undermines and harms local game stores, a backbone of the game industry and home base for local gaming communities. We won't take part in any behavior that looks like we condone that.
        Thirdly, and in the same vein, as a publisher we need to make absolutely sure we don't put out a message that we're in competition with the folks who'll ultimately be putting our game on their shelves for sale. Discounts of more than a few percentage points would send such a message, so that's a nonstarter.
        Finally, to be frank, our best hope of making sure that this game is not in the red is making direct, full-price sales of the product. Since we've already worked the price math on this to make sure that we've got it at the lowest comfortable MSRP we can afford, it's smart for us to stand firm with that $20 pricetag. 
  • Shipping and Handling: We've priced this out at $10. Some folks have balked at it, and I get it. I'm gonna break that down further.
        Priority mail shipping in the USA: The weight of 112 quality cards, plus box and inserts, plus packing materials, plus weight of shipping box, will probably come in just under a pound all told, maybe a few ounces shy. From our shipper's Indiana warehouse to my home in Maryland, that'd run just under $6. From the warehouse to designer Eric Vogel's home in California, it'd run a bit over $6. Standard post wouldn't cost much different; we can't do media mail because this isn't a book. So we've estimated this component at about $6.
        Labor costs: We contract our shipping out because at the end of the day, as shippers, we are slow. The folks who ship for us have shipped multiple kickstarters for us already. They're 2-5 times faster than we are at shipping, and moreover handle high volume a lot better than we can (speaking from experience there). We're looking at a per-package fee in the $3 range to cover their labor costs. It's worth it.
        Packing materials: Boxes, padding, tape, all that. It adds up. We're not going to send you the games in easily crushed bubble envelopes! With $6 for the postage and $3 for the labor, that leaves us about a buck — if that, because sometimes those costs are higher — to cover that component.
  • All the digital stuff: While the print & play base game might be redundant at this point, if you're tallying up the numbers so far we've already hit $30 with the above numbers. And you're still getting the digital edition of Zeppelin Conquest and any of the stretch goal digital componentry for, essentially, $0 extra. Win!  

So those are our core offerings! To hit the other tiers more breezily:

  • Retail Tier at $65: This is a $5 shipping component (which won't cover the full cost of shipping) and $60 for 6 copies of the game — the quantity that will be found in a single carton, as manufactured.
        Retailers buying direct from a publisher want 50% off MSRP for a variety of reasons, but foremost is the fact that once they buy the games, there's no guarantee that it's sold. These aren't "oh, that's instantly useful for my bottom line!" sales; they're hopes. Economics have worked out such that retailers need that kind of a discount in order to take the risk of carrying games that won't (and occasionally don't) sell.
        In Kickstarter, this bites doubly hard, too: retailers who back us are rock-stars who really believe in us and our games, just like the rest of our backers; for retailers, they're paying money up front for something they might not be able to get onto their shelves for another 6 or 12 months after they've paid for it. In that time frame, that same amount of money could have been spent on currently available games that sell, making that money back, allowing them to buy more, etc.
        So this is a big cost they're taking on that goes beyond the strict numeric value of the price we're putting on it for them. $65 on our future game, representing a hoped-for profit of $55 if all six copies sell at full price in their store ($120 - $65 = $55), could be the source of a couple hundred bucks of profit instead spent on currently available merchandise. 
       So you're damn right we're going to do what we can to support the retailers who want to back us and be among the first stores to get the game on their shelves! :)
  • International tier at $150: Six copies of the game at full MSRP cost $120. As a single carton, that's something we can have our shippers pack as a single unit instead of counting out each copy, which saves us a buck or so on pick-and-pack handling fees.
        International first class package rates from the post office come in at the mid-$20 range on average, depending on your destination — low end (but still above $20) for Canada typically, nearly $30 for Australia, just to pick two examples. Add our handling and packaging fees (seen above) to the average amount and the cost of international shipping starts at $30 — and that's assuming that the package weight stays below 4 pounds. The moment it ticks over the 4 pound mark, we look at a $20-30 increase in cost.
        Thank the US post office! International rates are a nightmare these past few years and are rising all the time (and on that note, we need to plan for what postage might cost months from now, not just rely on today's rates).
        As far as why we're structuring it this way, it's simple: we'd still see nearly identical shipping costs if we were shipping single units. That mid-$20 shipping fee is essentially flat for packages under the 4 pound mark. But If we offered a single-unit international tier priced at, say, $50 ($20 game, +$30 for shipping and handling, calculated as shown), we'd only be getting $20 towards our actual funding goal out of every $50 contributed.
        That's a very nasty percentage that could undermine the whole project if the tier became popular: we need the amount per pledge that's not going towards shipping to be at least 65-70% of that; 75-80% would be more ideal. So given a $30 shipping fee that we want to be only 20-25% of the backing, going with the 6-unit case quantity, valued at $120, for the actual contribution for this international tier.
        After the Kickstarter is over, once we know our costs and can see that we've hit our goals, we will — as has already been said — look at ways we can make smaller quantities available internationally. The shipping will still suck! But the total pricetag will at least be a bit lower. Prior to that, if we're very successful with this project and shoot well past our final planned stretch goal, we may be able to offer a late-in-the-campaign single-unit international tier — but until we hit all our (currently unannounced, but not overly numerous) stretch goals, it's not healthy for the project for us to do so.

So there you have it! That's our math. You may not agree with it, and I get that. Different folks have different needs for how they purchase things and how they think about the value of creative products like games. If it doesn't work for you, maybe just stick around at the $1 or $10 reward level, and then buy the game in retail late this year, in a fashion and (maybe) at a price that's more palatable for you. We're certainly going to do whatever we can to get the game out into distribution once we're funded enough to manufacture, ship, and sell. :)

Zeppelin Conquest

Some folks have asked what Zeppelin Conquest, the 2-player bonus print & play game available to backers at $10 and up, looks like, plays like. 

First off, here are the rules.

In Zeppelin Conquest, you play either Rocket Red or Princess Cyclone as they vie for control of various cities of interest around the globe, from New York to Atlantis, Cairo to Guadalajara. Through a sequence of rounds where forces are deployed in secret, then revealed, players score points for how effectively they conquer their targets through zeppelins, jetpack-wearing goons/martian warriors, and the occasional judicious sabotage of their opponent. It's a fun, quick game, geared to play in about ten minutes — perfect for pulp-friendly couples or hanging out with a buddy in between longer games. We think you'll dig it!

Getting the Word Out

Kickstarters live or die on the support they get from their backers — and it's through their backers that getting the word out is most effective. We're running ads on Board Game Geek and to help raise awareness, but we'd love to get your help as well!

You all have access to the game and rules at this point. Talk about what you see! Share your excitement with others, on your blogs, social media, podcasts, and so forth. Link on over to the project when you do. And if you're willing, take a look at the ad graphics we've worked up — if you've got a little corner of the web where you can put one or more of these on display and linking to the project, we'd appreciate it. Every action by our crowd will help us fund!

Board and card games are a tough business to crack open, and the costs can run high. It's incredibly exciting that we've gathered this much support, this early into the project, covering much of those costs! With your continued support we're sure to reach our primary goal and — hopefully — beyond. More on beyond as the project continues. :)

Thanks again for everything you've done and are doing to keep this ship flying. Together we will conquer the skies!

David B., JRob, and 5 more people like this update.


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    1. C3

      @Eric That's nice to here. These smaller games like Zeppelin Conquest are all my wife and I have time for most days, so I am as much excited for it.

      @Fred From the discussion I've seen, I am probably in the minority but I wanted to share my thoughts. EH broke with kickstarter tradition with Fate Core and it is by far my favorite campaign and rewards. You earned a lot of length with me to try new things. So I am not at all surprised to see you breaking kickstarter traditions again by actually charging what you feel the game is worth and that you think the add-on are worth. On a personal level I am glad to see a campaign try and rely on the merits of the product instead of the 'cult of the new' or exclusivity. I do not care why you priced the tiers as you did ... either I'll back or I won't. I did, so end of story.

    2. Eric B Vogel on

      First of all, as the designer of Zeppelin Attack and Zeppelin Conquest let me say to everyone who has backed so far thanks for backing! I wanted to say a little about Zeppelin Conquest, and how I think about the value it adds to the KS tiers that it is a reward for. Zeppelin Conquest is in fact the design I had originally intended to Kickstart next through my own imprint, Vainglorious Games, under a different theme. So please know, it’s not an afterthought, but rather a design I am really proud of. It is a highly original game that took as much design and playtesting as any of my published games. It is a significant piece of my intellectual property. The use of it as a backer reward tells you something about how much I believe in Zeppelin Attack and how much I want it to succeed. Because I recognize that backers feel the pinch of increasing shipping costs, I wanted to use this as a PNP game to add value to the Zeppelin Armada KS, rather than to use it as a project of my own. EHP saw the worth of this, and put their resources into professional art and graphic design for it (and their artistic efforts look a lot better than mine I can tell you!) Providing this as a PNP enables the addition of value to tiers, without adding production costs that would have to be passed on in turn as a part of the tier price. My point is that the KS backers are getting something that has a lot of value, at least from my perspective, which people who buy Zeppelin Attack at retail won’t be getting as part of that price.

    3. Fred Hicks / Evil Hat Productions 13-time creator

      Carl — You're right! We view that 8-10% as a transactional cost that we have to subsidize out of the core price of the game, but you're very right I should've brought it up in the post. I don't think I'm gonna bother editing it in at this point tho. :)

    4. Missing avatar

      Carl Rigney

      Thanks for the detailed discussion of costs. But you left off Amazon and Kickstarter's 8-10% cut, which means after $10 for shipping the $30 tier is a 12-15% discount from the $20 MSRP.

      And sympathies on the international shipping costs; the 4 pound cliff is brutal.