Fallout: Pushing Meeples Over the Line

Last weekend was a tough one here. The Meeple deck was well below it’s $6200 goal and my hopes were pretty low. I had a tough call to make – should I put in money to help it over the line?

As I discussed last week, this is called “Straw-Man” money as you have to coordinate it through someone else because you can’t use your own Amazon account. It gets done all the time, and while it does ring of dishonesty, under some circumstances I find it hard to blame folks who do it as long as they still have the capability to deliver the project. KS can still be about dream fulfillment, and the idea of getting close and not making it is a soul crusher.

If a person needs to spend a few weekend nights with Netflix and ramen instead of going out for dinner and a movie but gets to make a product, then who am I to call that sacrifice anything other than dedication to their idea?

This is the call I was having to make. I already have an underfund goal, so I didn’t expect the Meeple Deck to make money out of the gate, but was I willing to go deeper in pocket if I had to? I decided yes and no. I was willing to give up something to help make the project fund, but I was not willing for that to be cash. I looked around my office and found this..

Adrian Smith Painting

It’s a really nice original painting done for a CCG I worked on years ago. It’s by a very well known Games Workshop artist named Adrian Smith and it’s killer. I own a fair bit of art from my time in the industry and this is one of the better pieces I have. Adrian’s drawings tend to go for $150-$200 and his paintings like this are easily in the $600-$800+ range (his big cover paintings are much much more expensive). I told myself that this is what I would give up to have the meeple deck fund. I figured I should be able to easily sell it for $500 on ebay if I had to sell it quickly, so that was the maximum I was willing to put in.

I was contacted by a reader of the blog who asked if I would swap funding with her. Each of us funding the other’s project at $22. After looking at her game, I did it right away. I really like the type of game she had made, so I was all good with this swap and don’t consider it anything other than supporting another creator.

Then I asked my friend to put in what I thought would be the first $100. I wasn’t proud of this, but I love this project.

Important to note here – I had not given up. In fact, my hustle increased to a ludicrous level that final weekend. Other than zipping out to see Frozen with my family, I don’t think I left my office for anything other than sleep and meals. I probably tried a dozen ideas. Some worked a little, some worked not at all. I was gaining momentum, but it still looked like I was going to be short – by more than $500. Then I tried one more idea – give stuff away.

High quality playing cards require a minimum printing of 2500 decks. The decks left over after fulfilling KS pledges is really where my profit lies. At my funding level I was going to have a LOT of decks left. Most of my work that last weekend had been to get new backers. For this tactic, I decided to used those decks as an incentive to get current backers to up their pledge – 1 free deck with order of six, 3 free decks with an order of 12. The only out-of-pocket cost to me would be shipping as the printing was a sunk cost. I would only notice those decks not being around when/if I was very close to selling out of the entire run – a point I don’t expect to get to for 18 months or more.

The result was strong and immediate. Pledges were very strong in the minutes after the update. I had my friend take out the $100 he put in (it was only in for about 4 hours or so I think). We funded with a few hours left and ended up a few hundred over what was needed with NO straw-man money.

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 12.00.13 PM

In the final days, I noticed quite a few 1-deck backers becoming 2-deck backers. My assumption is a lot of folks really did want to help so they personally stretched themselves. After the campaign was a few hundred dollars over what was needed to fund, many of those backers lowered their pledge back to the lower amounts. I want to use this space to thank those folks – it means a lot that you were willing to help us make this project and I’m glad you got to back off your levels to something that more accurately reflects your wants.

Odd side-note. After the campaign was over, I looked at the painting and realized what it now represented to me – a thing that I am willing to sell so that I can make something else. I put it on Ebay this morning. I’ll use the money on whatever the next project is I do – either to lower the goal or just make it cooler.

How to Human Update:

244 backers, $2400 (goal: $500)


If the Meeple Deck was an odd campaign, the How to Human one is from another galaxy. Due to the compressed time-line, we had no time to think about “stretch goals” or even put down a plan for updates where we leak out information over time. As it is, this campaign has no financial room for stretch goals unless we move from high quality Print on Demand (POD) to traditional printing. That would mean either lowering the quality, taking a HUGE inventory position, or printing overseas (which has it’s own complications).

We’ve also got some publisher interest in the game – so we’ll have to see how that plays out. As this is a game we have no intention of making available at retail, a publisher could be nice, but it would be one more complication for what was supposed to be a one-off “event” product.

Trying to keep with the larger event/purpose of the project, we’re using updates to interview other microgame creators and trying to pull back the veil a little as to what it takes to make a project like these. We also want to point out things that digital designers can learn from working on analog projects.

If I could change one thing about this campaign though, it would be to shorten it. I think small games feel more right with short campaigns. They are impulse purchase decisions at their core, not ones that should require 30 days of info for potential backers.

Next Up: The Fame Game


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