About this project
UPDATE: With only 2 days to go, I'm offering a special add-on for bulk sleeves because the minimum order for customs is SO HIGH. Feel free to get more!
UPDATE: We hit the first stretch goal of $12k! Now we're in the home stretch, so don't forget this is a perfect time to spread the word. And if you've already backed us it's still not too late to throw in some add-ons, since I'm already going to be shipping you something anyway. Don't forget, this shirt design is exclusive to this Kickstarter, so if you don't get one now then you're not going to!
UPDATE: New stretch goal! Finalized Tshirt designs! Those are down in their proper sections now, go check them out! We're doing a livestream this weekend for the final push! Oh, and by the way, WE DID IT!
UPDATE: We've joined the Kicking It Forward movement! Essentially, I'm pledging to give 5% of my post-project profits to other, future Kickstarter projects! To find out all about it and to find other projects that are in on it, just click here: http://kickingitforward.org/
UPDATE: Be sure you check out the Updates for an update video where I answer a few questions!
Hi there, I'm Chewie. I'm the creator and lead host of The Mana Pool, a long-running podcast devoted to the collectible card game Magic: the Gathering. We focus on all the fun that can be had with the game rather than the usual strategy-oriented content and tournament results. My three cohosts and I get together over Skype every week to talk about this game that we love and record it for our listeners to enjoy. We also have content on our website, TheManaPool.com. At least we did whenever I had lots of free time to produce content. More on that later.
The goal of this project is twofold. First, I want to get enough money to make all the merchandise people have been asking for since the show started. And we've been around for almost seven years, so people have been asking for a long time. But since merch costs money, and we don't actually make any money from the show, we've never been able to create anything for the listeners. That's why the first goal is going to cover production and shipping of the merch along with anything else like paying my artist and designer, Kickstarter fees, and stuff I'm sure I've forgotten. We're talking TMP sleeves, t-shirts, playmats, and even custom dork tokens featuring the TMP hosts. Oh, and stickers. Let's not forget stickers. You can find a lot more information (and examples!) about all the merch a little further down in its section.
Second, I want to focus on creating content for you guys. I want to have all the time in the world to turn all these crazy ideas in my head into reality. I want to make running The Mana Pool my full-time job. Ideally, I'd want a year to really get everything running hard and be able to find a way to make it self-sustaining. But I know that's a bit much to ask with an all-or-nothing funding goal, so the initial goal is just going to cover making the merchandise. If this goes ridiculously well, stretch goals will offer you guys more reasons to back me and give me the time needed to create stuff.
Part 1: Adventuring Gear
As long as The Mana Pool has had fans, we've had requests for stuff. Listeners want stickers to put on binders, shirts to wear to their card shop, things like that. And since The Mana Pool has been around for almost 7 years, we've had requests for stuff for a very long time. Unfortunately, there's no business side to the show. It is and has always been something we do for fun, both to entertain ourselves and to entertain the fans. A labor of love, if you will. An unfortunate side effect is that we've never been able to afford any merchandise for those who want it.
That's where the first part of this Kickstarter comes in! The bulk of the initial goal is going to be for funding TMP merch. We're going all the way here. We've commissioned new illustrations of the four host dorks from our favorite artist Jars Cristobal. Our logo designer, Alexis Bauman, has turned said art into a full-blown set of dork tokens! Jars also turned the new dork art into an amazing new playmat! We're going to use our recently redesigned white-on-black logo for card sleeves and t-shirts! Oh, and stickers too, primarily because of one listener's constant and single-minded goal of convincing me to do so. Not only do we have to pay for the production and shipping costs, but we have to pay our artist and designer as well. And considering they've already done the work, that's pretty important.
I very rarely order clothing from the internet because I am so frequently disappointed. Crappy shirts that don't fit right, bad screening that doesn't make it past the third wash, stuff like that. To combat that, I have tracked down the company that made two of my most favorite and longest-lasting Swift band shirts. They also make all the shirts for the Winston-Salem Jaycees events. These shirts are ONLY going to be available via this Kickstarter project, so be sure you get one while you can. If this works well, we'll have more shirt designs in the future! I don't have a design to show you just yet due to an 11th hour audible. To be perfectly honest, it wasn't up to the same standard of quality as the rest of this stuff. So we're still refining the t-shirt design, and once we get it finalized I'll get that out to everyone in an update very soon!
UPDATE: Here's the shirt design! It will have either the Mythic logo on the front or the plain white logo. Maybe both. I'll update this once the shirt guy gets back to me, but the shirt design had waited long enough, don't you think?
We've got Legion Supplies making our sleeves. You know them, they make the Mmm...Bacon, Mmm...Brains, and RTFC sleeves. Good stuff. I know lots of people wanted some kind of crazy catchphrase on the sleeves, but we've decided to go simple with the first run. We have to order a full gazillion of these things, so I want to play it safe just in case, you know? Given that, we're just using the new white logo on a black sleeve. Classy, right? Here's what they'll look like:
And for the tokens we've found a company that makes custom playing cards. Playing cards are meant to be handled, dealt, shuffled, and, well, played with. So our tokens aren't going to be fragile things that will fall apart quickly. And we got Jars Cristobal, The Mana Pool's unofficial artist, to do ALL NEW amazing art for each of the dorks! Here they are in all their awesomeness!
We've got a company that makes some of the Grand Prix playmats making ours too. Remember that awesome GP Lincoln 2012 playmat with the werewolf and the squirrels by Ron Spencer? Yeah, that company. Not the art of course, but the playmat itself. Jars was kind enough to put the dorks together on a seriously sweet background for us too! Here's what it will look like:
Part 2: The Add-Ons
Yes I know this breaks up the "section titles as card names" thing, but I want to be sure everyone can find this part. All the reward tiers are set up over there on the right, but what if you want more? Well then, would you like me to tell you about add-ons? All you need to do is add the amount of the add-on you want to your pledge! You can do this later if you want by using the Manage Pledge option over on the right side of your screen. Just add the additional amount, and at the end of the project you'll get a backer survey so you can tell me what you want done with that extra money. Nice and simple, right?
Note: You must have the item in your current reward tier to get an extra one - you know, within reason
+$1 for an additional sticker (you know, just in case)
+$4 for an extra set of unsigned dork tokens
+$10 for an extra pack of 50 sleeves (if you're not a Commander player, or if you just want more)
+$20 for an extra TMP tshirt
+$25 for an extra TMP playmat
+$40 for an extra 6 packs of 50 sleeves, enough for 3 more Commander decks or a small Cube!
Part 3: Beacon of Creation
The initial goal will cover all the merchandise we're going to create and give me some breathing room in case I missed some expenses. Stretch goals will hopefully add some time for me to focus on content production and add more benefits for the backers. What kind of content will there be?
Well, I've got a brand new YouTube channel and a TON of ideas, both for video content and good old text content. I've had some of these ideas since the inception of the website. You've seen some of them on the site in the past, including the Planeswalker Advice column, the Magic Mad Libs, streaming content, you name it. I've already got the audio recorded for the first episode of a new video series called The Day the Magic Died. I want to introduce everyone to the Magic horoscope signs (and the awesome art Jars did for them so long ago) to everyone in a video series. I have plenty of ideas for other video series, some of which I've started research on already. I have a ridiculous amount of stuff just waiting to be produced, just no time to do it.
Here's an example. Fans will know about my Three Questions series, where I go to big Magic tournaments and ask pros, judges, fans, and anyone else that catches my eye some goofy, entertaining questions. The ones I've published have been well-received and are great loads of fun. The ones I haven't published are sitting on my hard drive waiting. I did the math on the last few I did. Each episode takes roughly a full day of my life to produce. Not each tournament, each episode! And as I said before, there was just no time to get them done, so I had to put it off. So now I have a backup of three tournaments waiting to go up.
So all of this content is just waiting to be produced, waiting for me to have the time to devote to it. There's stuff ready and waiting to be done, and there's stuff still in my head waiting to become real.
The stretch goals of this Kickstarter, beyond the merchandise costs, give me a couple months at a time to focus on getting this stuff created and out to you guys. The plan is to start with one or two items a week in addition to the podcasts I'm already doing. Three Questions, videos, articles, maybe some kind of streaming content once I get that figured out. As I get better at the video creation, I should be able to get more stuff out in a week's time. Essentially, by hitting stretch goals, you'll be allowing me to double my content output per week! And that's only while I'm still getting the hang of it, that will only go up with time!
Part 4: Time Stretch
The first goal is just for the merchandise though! All this content isn't going to get made unless we make more money. So let's talk stretch goals. Of course, more money past the initial goal will allow me to have more time to create content full-time and thus find a way to make it self-sustaining. Not only that, but each step gives you guys more reasons to donate to the cause!
Note: Extra full-time content production time is an estimation based on lots of math, gut feeling, and rough judgment of how much more merchandise I'll need to order at each step. In other words, just add "or so" to the end of each line.
GOT THERE! $12,000: Every backer who gives $10 or more will get episodes of The Mana Pool early! Whenever possible, you'll get the episode 2-3 days before everyone else for a full year!
Extra full-time content production: 1 month
GOT THERE! $15,000: Every backer who gives $10 or more will get a PDF file of a whole mess of the Magic Mad Libs that we've done on the show! And I mean a MESS of them!
Extra full-time content production: 2.5 months
$17,500: We'll throw in a second Story Circle reward! Look to your right for all the relevant information! Not only that, but Chewie will take (and pass) the Level 1 Magic Judge test and start judging in his local community! This will add a whole new level to his content creation!
Extra full-time content production: 4 months
$20,000: Every backer who gives $10 or more will receive some exclusive additional audio content from the dorks! Whether it's full episodes, quick funny stuff, or something else entirely, we'll figure something out! The first one is already recorded and involves fighting the Hydra! You'll get at least one per quarter for a year, depending on what we come up with.
Extra full-time content production: 5.5 months
$25,000: Chewie will attend a US Grand Prix voted for by you, the backers, bringing his trusty digital recorder with him to make a new edition of Three Questions!
Extra full-time content production: 8 months
$30,000: Chewie will attend TWO US Grand Prix voted for by you, the backers, bringing his trusty digital recorder with him to make a new edition of Three Questions from each one!
Extra full-time content production: 11 months
$40,000: Chewie will attend all the east coast GPs for the rest of the year, bringing his trusty digital recorder with him to make a new edition of Three Questions at each one! At the moment that includes GP Boston/Worcester in July, GP Orlando in October, GP Nashville and GP New Jersey in November.
Extra full-time content production: 16 months
$100,000: In this extremely unlikely event, Chewie will attend absolutely every US GP he possibly can, and do a new Three Questions at each one. Because why not?
Extra full-time content production: ...I dunno, all of it?
All right, that covers everything you need to know about the end result, now let me take a moment to explain the beginnings of this project and the reasoning behind it.
Part 5: Genesis Wave
I love producing content for the Magic players out there. I mean it, I absolutely LOVE it. A few examples are: The Mana Pool podcast (obviously), the Monday Night Magic podcast, random articles about decks and evolutions, random funny stuff like Magic horoscopes or the Planeswalker advice columns, the Three Questions series, and the Whazzap! video I did to prove myself able to make a video:
And that's not even everything! But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go all the way back to the beginning.
In November of 2007, The Mana Pool podcast was born. I was losing touch with my friends from college and it bothered me. I had learned the technical knowledge of podcasting from a friend, and it seemed like a brilliant way to stay in contact with my fellow Magic players. We tried it out, and we really enjoyed it. Slowly we learned what we were doing. We found our voices and started accumulating fans. People actually wanted to listen to what we had to say! And so we kept at it.
Things went on like this for three years, until I was laid off from my job in November of 2010. My roommate, who happens to be a freelance web designer, offered to make a website for the show to give me something to do during my unemployment. Suddenly I had something to do! Once I got the last three years' worth of shows on the new site, I turned my attention toward the creation of new content. I started playing around with new ideas for content, everything from more serious ideas like the 60 Card Challenge and Duels of the Planeswalkers deck evolutions to sillier and more entertaining concepts like the Magic horoscopes and the planeswalker advice column. And for the most part, it was well-received!
This is where the story starts to get dark. I was getting desperate for a job, and holding out for a good one was just no longer an option. So I took a low-paying job to keep my head above water while I continued to look for work and create stuff for the website. Of course, the move from only free time to a lot less free time is jarring, and my content creation lessened significantly. At some point during my time at this new job, I took on the responsibilities of posting shows for the MTGCast Network, and what a responsibility it was, especially when you're volunteering! After a short time, I had taken over as the sole show-poster on the network, and there went what was left of my free time. It was great to be able to help my fellow podcasters, offer advice when asked, and provide all this great content to the fans. But I didn't have time for much of anything other than that, so all the job-hunting and the remainder of the content-creation (other than the podcasts) fell by the wayside.
But then MTGCast was sold and the new management eventually changed the way shows were posted, giving me back my free time. Unfortunately, my mental health was now a problem, though I didn't know it just yet. My job was a bad job by virtually every metric, and it was really getting me down. After a long time, I realized that I had sunk into a deep depression. After fighting it for a long time, I was eventually able to admit it to myself, to my friends, and to my fans. There's a lot more to this part of the story, but I won't burden you with it here. If you really want to see it, I can put it in an update or on a post on my site or something.
Let's just say that it came down to a simple truth: the only good parts of my life were the parts involving doing things for the Magic community. Recording Monday Night Magic and The Mana Pool every week, going out to tournaments to record new editions of Three Questions, and even just interacting with my listeners and fellow podcasters were the only high points. One day it occurred to me that I should work on cutting away all the negativity and focus on the good, and on that day this Kickstarter was born.
I've spent the last 5 months polling the audience on what they want, assessing risks, fine-tuning details, and doing a LOT of math to make sure this Kickstarter is worth the time, both to myself and to all the potential backers. I've asked for help from a lot of friends, cohosts, and fans to be sure I was on the right track. And finally, after all this time, I'm ready to share the fruits of those labors with all of you!
Part 6: Endless Horizons
So there you have it. You've seen what you can get for helping us out, you've seen what I plan to do when this thing funds, and you've heard all about what has taken so long and why I want to do this. I've been an active part of the Magic community for over 6 years, and I was a passive part for 6 years before that. Magic has been a part of my life for even longer than that, stretching all the way back to high school.
I started the podcast as a way to keep in touch with my friends, and I've been doing it for no monetary gain all these years because I love it. The show is, quite frankly, my life. I've never defined myself by my job or by anything else other than as a Dork. Being the Lead Dork all these years has given me more than I could have ever expected. I've met so many amazing people over the years because of the show. There is nothing better in the world than having a complete stranger recognize my voice and give me a handshake and a hug at a tournament. I've heard so many amazing stories from fans that tell me how my goofy podcast about this dorky card game has touched their lives and helped them in ways that I never would have dreamed. With all of this, how could I ever want to stop? It makes me want to do even more for the community, but I can't do it alone.
Content production will be my full-time job, in addition to the usual two podcasts a week. This isn't a vacation, this isn't a way to get out of having a crappy job. It's a way to live the dream. There are people out there who get to do what they love for a living, and I'd like to give it a shot myself. I can't do it without you, that's why I'm offering up SO MUCH STUFF as an incentive. Doing my weekly Magic podcasts has been the only good part of my life for a long time now. With your help, I can turn that amazing small part of my life into an actual living.
Thank you in advance for all your help. Whether you're giving money because you want to help me with my dream, because you want to give back for my years of entertaining you, or just because you want some super-sweet dork tokens, I appreciate each and every one of you. I wouldn't be where I am now without you.
Thank you all very much for backing and uh, go play some Magic!
Risks and challenges
I'm not sure how much of our audience has extra money to throw around, so this might just not work. If that happens, our bad. At least you didn't lose any money, right?
The turnaround time for custom sleeves is REALLY long (at least 4 months), so you probably won't be getting your stuff for a while. That's why all the rewards that include sleeves have such a late delivery date. But don't worry, you'll get it as soon as we get the sleeves ourselves! And it's not like we're using some tiny little custom sleeve shop, we're using an established, professional vendor.
That leads to another potential risk in that everything else being offered here is custom stuff being specially ordered just for this Kickstarter. If any of my vendors should happen to hit any snags, delays resulting from that will be passed on to you. If anything like that happens though, you'll know it just as soon as I do.
If your reward involves an episode of The Mana Pool, keep in mind that preview weeks, being time-sensitive, will probably take precedence and might push back your reward a little bit.
And finally, for any rewards that involve scheduling something with myself or the other dorks, we ask that you please be patient. While I have very little causing scheduling difficulties at the moment, the other dorks have good jobs and families that will make their availability much lower.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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