Written by Jesse Bergman
Hello everyone, with 2017 coming to a close we wanted to reflect on some of the good things and challenges that we've faced as a company this year. Below you will find the topics covered in this post:
- Why Reign of Terror is not coming to Kickstarter
Kickstarters for 2018
How Battle for Sularia will be released going forward
Why Reign of Terror is not coming to Kickstarter
What do you mean Reign of Terror is not coming to Kickstarter? Technically, it is, and it isn’t. Please let us explain...
Internally, 2017 turned out to be an excellent year for us with tons of development work going into Reign of Terror, one of the best releases we've planned—we think—to date. With that came some setbacks, one was that we pulled out of two potential launch dates for the game, one in the Spring and again in the Fall. The game was ready for Kickstarter in Fall of 2017 minus art assets.
To date, we have 52% of the artwork completed for Reign of Terror, but we have run into a slight snag. Coming off the success of both Battle for Sularia campaigns, we felt ready to expand and diversify our game offerings. Pompeii: Wrath of Vesuvius and Chronicles of Sularia was our attempt at doing so. Those failed campaigns impacted our bottom line and put us in a position where we could not complete the art assets for Reign of Terror. Now, as a company, we sit with limited resources and the challenge of properly launching a new campaign for Reign of Terror. Like all good small businesses, and in the spirit of entrepreneurship, we have to figure out a way to make it happen.
There are multiple paths that can lead to the finish line for Reign of Terror, but in a world with more and more games landing on Kickstarter and the noise level turned all the way up to 11. We feel our little corner of the world has not only become muted, but it has become drowned out. We understand one of the biggest reasons for this, is from the loss of momentum in the amount of products released, or lack thereof, since Blood, Profit, and Glory. The silver lining to this delay is that we were able to deep dive into Reign of Terror, take a very hard look at the Protoan and Exsularian factions, and develop them to a version that we feel is far greater than it would have been for you. This, in our opinion, is truly saying something since they have always offered such a diverse gameplay experience in comparison to the Synthien and Jotune factions.
We would love to release Reign of Terror as a big box product, but faced with the harsh reality of some very serious financial difficulties, both in terms of finishing the artwork and increased costs of manufacturing. We also learned a very interesting lesson from this experience and faced a new challenge, called dimensional weight. Dimensional weight means that shipping the big box version of Reign of Terror to you all and getting it from our manufacturers in China to the US was very costly. We could have produced a game that weighed 3 times more and it would have cost us the same in ocean freight. The box turns out to take up a lot of space in a container and therefore increases the costs of the product beyond a reasonable rate for a small indie print run.
As I mentioned in the beginning, Reign of Terror, the big box product is not coming to Kickstarter. However, the Protoan and Exsularian factions will be released, as originally designed in the big box version—just not in the big box. Our 2018 Kickstarter schedule goes into further detail.
Kickstarters in 2018
What you can expect in 2018 are two Battle for Sularia Kickstarters, but they are going to be different than anything we’ve done before. These two Kickstarters will seek funding for the remaining art needed for our two new factions—the Protoan and Exsularian—as originally intended for the Reign of Terror. Individuals that pledge to these campaigns will still receive rewards in the form of digital artwork and wallpapers, but the main reward will be a coupon code to purchase the final product at a 40% discount. The reasons for this change in direction is a direct result of our concerns we mentioned previously and the need to maintain a steady stream of new content that is demanded by an expandable card game. It also helps us get to the next stage in card releases that we’ll go into more detail about in a little bit.
The first Kickstarter will be launched in early March. There will only be one pledge level in the campaign, and it will help us produce the cards that can be found in a product we are referring to as the Protoan: Faction Pack. This faction pack will feature a pre-built decklist and a complete playset—four cards each—of the cards found in the faction pack. The anticipated release date for the final version of the Protoan: Faction Pack will be in Q2 of 2018.
The second Kickstarter will be launched sometime in May. There will only be one pledge level for it as well, and it will be to fund the remaining artwork for the Exsularian: Faction Pack. The projected release date for it will be Q3 of 2018. The campaign will be structured exactly the same way as the Protoan: Faction Pack campaign in that you are just helping us fund the remaining art costs and in turn getting digital artwork, wallpapers, and a 40% discount coupon to buy the product when it becomes available.
We simply can’t stress how excited for the changes and opportunity coming in 2018 for Battle for Sularia and our company! In case you missed it in previous announcements, we have a new addition to our team, Neil Mohlman, who came on board a couple months back as our Senior Developer, and our Creative Director, John Kimmel, is currently in the process of overhauling our website to handle a variety of marketing and advertising strategies to align with our new game development goals. Combined with new business development from myself and the team, we hope our enthusiasm is as contagious with the rest of our fans as it has been with fans like Sean—who recently shared with us:
This is exactly the kind of feedback that we hear at conventions, store demos, and our local community. It’s what keeps us driven and confirms we have something special, but we definitely took some missteps going into the end of 2016 and early 2017, that seriously impacted our momentum on Battle for Sularia. While the restructuring of the Kickstarter release for the Protoan and Exsularian factions and getting those to market as soon as possible is our first priority, the following steps are something we’ve been considering and working out for some time too and want to share here.
How Battle for Sularia will be Released Going Forward
Assuming all goes as planned, after the successful funding of the Protoan: Faction Pack and Exsularian: Faction Pack Kickstarters, we will release those products to retail in the form of 26 unique cards, for a total of 104 cards per faction pack, available directly through our website. This will bring those factions' card counts in line with both the Jotune and Synthien factions.
Moving forward starting in January of 2019, each month you can expect to get a new "non-randomized booster pack" of 4 unique cards, for a total of 16 cards, available directly through our website. This means that it won't take long to introduce new cards for all four factions, not to mention more Mercenary faction cards from time to time.
We anticipate releasing 10 packs per year and we would only be taking the months of November and December off from releasing a new pack. However, that’s not to say we won’t have something else new drop in those months or throughout the year.
Now, you may be thinking… “Jesse, seriously man, another year before you get this new monthly card release schedule in place?” Well, sit tight, there’s more to this story...
The 2019 schedule is just for the retail version of the game. The real big change, and the thing we are most excited to share about in this update, is that we are releasing all new cards moving forward as a print-and-play version as well. In fact, we built an entire new release program and schedule around both versions of our card release cycles—known as the Alpha and Omega Program. Simply put, moving forward into 2018, the Alpha is the pre-retail version and the Omega is the retail version of Battle for Sularia.
The Alpha Program is where you, as die-hard fans and early adopters of Battle for Sularia, get to play brand new cards as soon as we release them from our in-house playtesting team. Instead of seeing spoilers for new cards and having to wait weeks or months to play them like other card games, you get to play with new Battle for Sularia alpha cards immediately after they have been spoiled on our website! While these cards will have been moderately playtested by our in-house team, alpha players will be able to provide key feedback during an Alpha Program release cycle and in turn have direct input in shaping the future of Battle for Sularia!
You can expect Alpha Program cards to be released on a monthly schedule and immediately legal in casual play and alpha tournament formats. The Alpha Program begins with the Protoan and Exsularian faction packs. These cards will be available through a free print-and-play download, by simply requesting them from our website through an online sign-up form. By mid-2018, we plan on integrating a deck builder directly into our website, which we hope alpha players will find helpful in crafting their own play decks.
So what can players expect to see on alpha cards?
Alpha Program cards will have all the graphic design and text found on retail cards, but typically won’t have the illustration yet. Instead of an illustration, they will just have a watermark of the Battle for Sularia logo. While alpha cards will be mechanically functional, they may not be fully dialed-in when you get them. In other words, some alpha cards may perform higher or lower than our own in-house results. This is where your feedback and support of the alpha program will ensure the highest quality game at the Omega (retail) level.
The Alpha Program is no mere test program, but instead, it is a robust community engagement opportunity! For example, if you provide feedback through our online form during a given alpha release cycle, you will be able to earn exclusive rewards only available to Alpha Program players. The current list of rewards includes, but is not limited to, access to monochromatic full-art promo cards, discount codes on a variety of Battle for Sularia products, and more prizes to be announced soon. These exclusive alpha-only promo cards will be based on the current retail cards. In addition to player exclusives, we intend to get retailers in on the action with providing them access to their own alpha promo cards and play mats, which they can use to host alpha tournaments and expand their local Sularia community!
The exact details of the Alpha Program will be laid out in greater detail soon, but this has been generating a lot of buzz around here over the last few weeks and in the spirit of giving this holiday, we wanted to share as much as we could with our fans right now!
Other Things You Can Expect in the Alpha Program.
Tabletop Simulator Monthly Tournament!
This tournament will allow alpha players to test their latest deck builds, earn bragging rights, and access to cool swag just for playing the game. In order to play though, you will need a copy of Tabletop Simulator installed on your computer. While it does cost a few bucks to download, they run discounts for it all the time. Not to mention, in between games of Battle for Sularia, there are a ton of other games that can be played with Tabletop Simulator, which is why we think it’s a pretty cool thing to have.
In addition, while participating as an alpha player, you will get direct access to other Battle for Sularia alpha players and its developers. With any luck, the first alpha tournament should happen in February and it will feature the Protoan and Exsularian factions. We’ll also have more details in the coming weeks about how to sign up for a tournament and the different formats.
Discounts on Omega Products
While the exact discount is yet to be determined, simply by participating as a Battle for Sularia alpha player—either in the online tournament or at your local game store—and providing feedback through our online form, you will receive monthly promo codes to be used in our web store for discounts on certain products. Please note, this is only scratching at the surface. As the program grows, we have milestones set in place to add even more reward content!
Hopefully, this sounds awesome and you might be thinking, OK Jesse, got it… so, what about the Omega Program?
If we are looking at Sularia today, then the Omega Program would include The Battle Begins, and Blood, Profit, and Glory. In other words, our retail released products. The Omega Program will add the Protoan and Exsularian faction packs to that list in 2018. Moving beyond 2018, the Omega Program will include the first packs in our upcoming card cycle—codenamed CP1.
The Omega Program cards are the finalized versions that get through the Alpha Program and will be released for sale on a monthly schedule—based on the time it takes our artists to complete their illustrations. The anticipated release of the new CP1 omega cards is after the full release of the Protoan and Exsularian faction packs starting in January of 2019. These cards will continue our tradition of an expandable card game/non-randomized pack format. They will be listed in our web store, once per month, with an estimated price of $5.99. As soon as the omega booster packs are available in our web store, they will be made immediately legal in the omega tournament formats.
The Omega Program will also include bigger tournaments that are officially sanctioned and supported by Punch-It Entertainment. For now, this is limited to our National Tournament Series held in Lincoln, Neb. In time, we hope to get retailers to participate with regular in-store omega tournaments with traditional prize kits—promo cards, tokens, deck boxes, play mats, and more—available for purchase directly from Punch-It Entertainment. Furthermore, we will be moving our 2018 National Qualifiers and 2018 National Championship from the summer time to the fall and early winter. With appropriate participation, we hope to continue to offer unique promos inside of the National Tournament Series scene as well as cash prizes.
The Omega Program cards will be produced using a print-on-demand service, which will be necessary as we continue to grow Battle for Sularia. Once demand has increased appropriately, Omega Program cards will be produced using traditional mass production we’ve used in the past. We have tested multiple print-on-demand services for quality and consistency. We are confident that our new partner in this venture will maintain our established card quality and consistency that you have come to expect from us. You can anticipate that Omega Program cards will open up pre-orders about 60 days before the street date and users can purchase cards from us, or we will work directly with your favorite retailers.
This is a fundamental change in so much that we will not be supplying omega format booster packs through distribution channels unless growth and demand allow for us to return to traditional mass production models.
One thing we want to make very clear to our friends across the pond is we are working on relationships that would allow us to ship and fulfill from within the EU and keep the costs down to a minimum from a shipping perspective. We are also looking at the potential drawbacks and challenges from shipping these small packs directly from the States in a padded envelope. Our European friends can rest assured we want you to have all the same content that is being released inside of North America. If you are a European customer of ours, we want to figure out the absolute best model for the distribution of these products into the EU and globally. If you have any suggestions, please be sure to let us know!
We believe there is a close correlation between Alpha Program players and ambassadors, but we also believe that ambassadors can and do exist with the sole purpose of sharing our game with the world. You will see the Punch-It Entertainment Ambassador Program relaunch occur in early 2018. Some highlights of the program will be discounts and/or free stuff for conducting game demos within your local retail stores. What this could equate to is swag such as Battle for Sularia ambassador t-shirts, to other custom apparel. We envision things such as Battle for Sularia backpacks, tote bags, etc... I know I would love to have a Sularia branded backpack!
Signing up for the Punch-It Entertainment Ambassador Program will be simple. In addition, the reporting tools will be simplified to make being an ambassador not be about how good you are at filling out paperwork, but instead be about how good you are at teaching Battle for Sularia to the world.
We know many of you have asked for accessory products for Battle for Sularia in the past, such as playmats, card sleeves, storage boxes, tokens, and other components. We have heard you and have not moved those things to a back burner. We are working vigorously to find solutions to them without impacting the actual releases of the game itself. In theory, this helps keeps the game in more of an à la carte format, where gamers that don't want tokens don't have to buy them and gamers that do want tokens can buy them. These products will all be available from our web store in 2018 as we find strategic partnerships that allow us to sell them to you without sacrificing quality.
Storage boxes are still something we are looking at heavily. I want to produce the beautiful box that John initially designed for Reign of Terror and utilize it as an actual storage solution in 2018. This may come at a more premium price, but we are considering ways to sweeten the deal for those of you that are willing to pay the higher amount.
Art and fiction books, such as Chronicles of Sularia indicated that this is still very much a niche product for our customer base. As Battle for Sularia grows, we hope the demand for physically printed books will grow with it. We'd love to continue to tell the story of Sularia, not only for ourselves, but for those fans as well.
In the short term, you will see a reduction in the number of fiction articles as we release products. We, of course, encourage fans to write their own fiction and share it with us and within the community.
Speaking of community, 2018 will see the launch of our official Punch-It Entertainment Slack group. We have chosen Slack over a myriad of other potential chat programs due to its ease of use, and overall functionality. The Slack group will be available for all player of the game and will be a congregation point that is easy to navigate and easy to get on whether that be from your PC, Mac, or mobile device. This will give you a direct line to other Sularia players, retailers, and the developers.
What this means, is that we will not be fostering or attempting to foster communities on BGG or Reddit any longer. We love both of those places, but we felt like each of them further fragmented our community and we had small pockets in each location. If our fans want to discuss things on those platforms, we certainly encourage them, but the Punch-It team will not be paying much, if any attention, to the ongoings of those platforms.
We know that this has been a lot to digest, and we thank you for making it this far. We have already asked so much from you in two campaigns and for that we cannot be any more grateful for the success of Battle for Sularia up to this point. We are very excited to push forward with these new formats that give players an opportunity to get involved with us at every level, from the early Alpha Program, to the retail ready Omega Program. We will be making additional announcements and posts regarding each of the above subjects in greater detail over the coming weeks, so please stay tuned.
With this year coming to an end, we here at Punch-It Entertainment want to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year—cheers!