Friday Tabletop Kickstarter Update – The Early Bird gets the same as the rest

Hello again, and welcome to Friday Tabletop Kickstarter Update! For info on what is going on here, check out this introduction. I enjoyed putting this list together! I know there are a few non-American project creators, but I still think they are worth mentioning.

Remember that I am in no way endorsing these games, I have not played them, I have not talked to the publishers. Back at your own risk.

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I Say Homes!
Apparent Weight: Light-Medium
Genre: Deduction card game, Storytelling

Hopefully you have heard of the little game company that could: Victory Point Games. They have been around for a while putting out print-on-demand games. I Say Holmes! is one of those games that has earned its stripes being available to retail for a few years. Victory Point is looking to start printing their games with a new material “Playper,” this campaign acting as the first print run using the new material.

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Albion’s Legacy
Apparent Weight: Medium – Heavy
Genre: Arthurian adventuring, Modular board, Cooperative play

What caught my eye on the Albion’s Legacy page was the stellar looking art work of reimagined King Arthur and Merlin. It looks like Albion’s Legacy will put players to the test in an interesting tile based adventure. The game is already set up for expansions and more game play options.

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Brave the Elements
Apparent Weight: Medium
Genre: Resource management, Cards!, Elemental battles

I have said it before, and I will say it again, I am a sucker for innovative card games. From the game overview it looks as though cards can be played in different ways to achieve different effects. For what looks like a one man operation, Chaos Publishing looks like they have their things together and are ready to publish this game.

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Apparent Weight: Light-Medium
Genre: Dice combat, Masks, 3D playmats

Luchador has been out in the wild for a year now, and has received some good marks from the overall gaming community. After releasing the game at Essen, Backspindle is looking to give the game a wider release. For those who love King of Tokyo, Luchador! uses some similar die rolling combat mechanics. With such commitment to a silly theme, Luchador might be a good one.

Getting a word in on Early Bird pledge levels.
Thoughts on the work of Tabletop Kickstarter.

The more and more we talk about common Kickstarter trends, the more I see tried and tired marketing techniques being recycled. This week I wanted to talk about ‘Early Bird’ pledging. This is where project creators offer limited pledging tiers at a lower price point than their ‘standard’ pledge level. Even now I can hear the late Billy Mays saying, “If you act now, you can get this amazing deal!”

Motivating people the jump onto a Kickstarter can be a real problem for creators. Most of the time the first thing I look at before even watching an intro video is the current funding level. Projects that are not very far in their funding progress tend to get passed over. It is an imperative that projects get momentum early on in the campaign. This is where the Early Bird gets dropped in. Tapping into basic human nature, people are more likely to buy something when it is not as expensive as it could be. Hence ‘sales’ for new cars, and for mattresses. The Early Bird pledge level attempts to front load the funding in order to catapult the project forward.

I remember one particular project for a simple card game that was an awful example of what not to do. Starting at $5, the creator made pledge levels with only 100 slots in them, incrementing $1 for each level up to $12 for the ‘normal’, unlimited, level. The person backing at the $5 level loves the idea, they are getting $7 off! But the person who might see the project later will have the opposite reaction: he is paying $7 more just because he got to the party late. Needless to say the project stalled right around the $6 level filling up and failed to reach funding. On an interesting note, this same project was ‘relaunched’ with the lowest tier being $19. It did not fund the second time either.

This is the ultimate crux of the Early Bird: every backer will see it when they pledge. The pledge level stays there, just with a ‘All gone!’ tag. In a campaign that needs 500 backers over all to succeed that has one limited pledge level with 20 spots, 96% of your backers are going to feel left out or jipped. There is no way to avoid this, other than to not use Early Bird Levels.

When are early bird pledges appropriate? When there is enough room in the early pledge level to reach the funding goal. Say you are making a game and you need $5,000 for the first print run. You were planning on selling the games at the $50 MSRP price point, and intend to have a backer level matching MSRP. If you include an early pledge level at $45, I would argue that you should have a minimum of 112 slots in that backer level. This would ensure that the backers that truly ‘made it happen’ are thanked in kind. Once the game has been funded, the purpose of the Kickstarter has been fulfilled. Everything after is simply normal business for the publisher.

What does this mean to the intrepid backer? Taking a look at the analysis of during campaign costs compared to after campaign costs, if you are not backing at an Early Bird price, you are not going to be saving all that much money. With the financial motivation is off the table, the backing factors left are the hope of getting the game before anyone else and whatever Kickstarter Exclusives may be thrown with the game.

What does this mean to the potential project creator? Think twice about including Early Bird levels. Once they are added, they cannot be removed, and will be present on the project page for the rest of the project. There are far better ways to bring excitement and momentum to your project than using cheap marketing ploys. Be upfront with your backers about what it costs to print the game and people will see the value (if it is there).

If you have KS topics that interest you, let me know @Scooter_TTTD

From Trading in the Mediterranean to FPS, I love games. While I grew up in a house without consoles, PC gaming and board gaming were a large part of my formative years, and continue to influence my life. In this golden age of board gaming, I have jumped in headfirst in to anything table top. As a ludilogical student, I love thinking about how games work, their mechanics, their elegance and most importantly, enjoying how fun they are.

Favorite Board Game (at the moment): Twilight Struggle
Favorite PC Game (base solely on play time): Tie between WoW and DII

Fell free to email me: comments, concerns, questions, feedback, rants, and/or suggestions.

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