Last day for Otters! And how to run a humble Kickstarter campaign.

Today is the final day for my Otters Kickstarter campaign, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, please go do so! The project is almost 500% funded, which is wonderful and humbling.

Speaking of humbling, I also wrote a blog post on my board game site, Clay Crucible Games, about my experience in running what I’m calling a “humble” Kickstarter campaign. While it’s mainly written from the point of view of a board or card game publisher, it could be relevant for RPG folks as well.

Thanks all!

Michael Iachini

@ClayCrucible on Twitter

Kickstarter projects I’ve backed: Number 11 through 20 (chronologically)

Continuing my series, I’m going through the Kickstarter projects I’ve backed, in chronological order, noting why I backed each project, what level I backed at, and how it turned out. Part 1 of the series, covering the first 10 games I backed on Kickstarter, is here.

11. Roll20 Virtual Tabletop – April 2012

Why I pledged: At the time, I was still running a D&D game online using MapTool. I love MapTool, but Roll20 seemed like a cool attempt at a new, user-friendly virtual tabletop, and I wanted to see it become a reality.

My pledge: $25 for access to the closed beta and input on the development process (although I didn’t actually care about the reward all that much).

How it turned out: is a fantastic virtual tabletop, and I say this even though I don’t run D&D games online any more. I have only personally used Roll20 for playtesting the Substances expansion to Chaos & Alchemy, but the fact that the tool was flexible enough for that sort of thing is amazing.

12. Sentinels of the Multiverse Enhanced Edition – May 2012

Why I pledged: I had heard good things about the game, and it looked like a lot of fun. I also liked that it seemed the creators had put out a good-but-not-great package for their first edition and that this edition would be better.

My pledge: $50 for the new core game (no extra expansions)

How it turned out: Awesome! I was able to pick up my copy of the game at Gen Con 2012, and while I’ve only played it a few times so far, I think it’s a lot of fun.

13. Midgard Bestiary for 4th Edition – July 2012

Why I pledged: Partly because some people I follow online were associated with it, but mainly to show my support for 4th Edition D&D after D&D Next was announced.

My pledge: $10 for a PDF of the book

How it turned out: I received the PDF. I flipped through it a bit but have never actually used it. Still, I showed my support, and it was only $10, so I feel good about backing the project.

14. Project Ninja Panda Taco – July 2012

Why I pledged: Because I love the Jennisodes podcast, and I wanted to support Jenn. I also wanted to support Brian Patterson, the artist for the book who also draws d20 Monkey.

My pledge: $50 for a signed book (plus some bonus doo-dads that I don’t really care about).

How it turned out: Super cool! I read the book cover to cover, and I think it’s adorable. I haven’t actually played the game, and I likely never will, but this was money well spent.

15. Race to Adventure – July 2012

Why I pledged: I like Evil Hat, the game looked like fun, and I wanted to support Daniel Solis’s graphic design work.

My pledge: $40 for a copy of the game, plus some extras.

How it turned out: Ultimately disappointing. Among the extras were PDFs of Spirit of the Century and Dinocalypse Now, both of which were absolutely fantastic and completely unexpected. The game arrived in a timely manner, and it’s really beautiful and professionally produced. Unfortunately, the game is no fun at all. It’s just boring. I ended up giving it to my young niece and nephew, who seem to enjoy it.

16. Dungeon World – June 2012

Why I pledged: Mostly because everyone else was pledging, and heck, it was just five bucks to get the PDF – why not? As a side note, I’m listing the end dates for these campaigns, so even though Dungeon World says June 2012 while number 14 and 15 on my list say July, I actually backed Dungeon World after the other two.

My pledge: $5 for the PDF of the game

How it turned out: I believe I downloaded the preview version of the PDF when it was available. It seemed massive. I never actually read it, nor did I download the final version. But for five bucks, I’m fine with how things turned out.

17. Fantastiqa – August 2012

Why I pledged: I like deckbuilding games, and this one seemed like something that might appeal to more of the people I play with given its lighter theme. I loved the artwork, too.

My pledge: $72 for the game and its expansions

How it turned out: Disappointing. I know that this game generally gets good reviews, and I’ll admit that I’ve only played it a couple of times. But so far, it’s just not much fun. It feels like it has too many moving parts for a game that seems to hold itself out as being a little bit simpler than other deckbuilders. I think it stripped out the complexity that I enjoy in other deckbuilding games while adding complexity (fiddliness) that I don’t enjoy. I plan to find a new home for this one (anyone want to trade it for something cool?).

18. Consequential – August 2012

Why I pledged: I tried a demo of this game at Gen Con and thought it was really, really cool (despite the video stuff, not because of it). Also, I like Asmadi Games in general (particularly Innovation).

My pledge: $42 for a copy of the game

How it turned out: The project was canceled, unfortunately. This was a surprise to me. It also surprised me that they still haven’t re-launched it yet, although a recent BGG post from the designer says that they’ll be re-launching in September 2013. Hm, we’re in October now. Oh well; I’m guessing we’ll see it someday.

19. Viticulture – October 2012

Why I pledged: I love worker placement games. I love wine. And the project seemed really well put together.

My pledge: $49 for a copy of the game.

How it turned out: Awesome! First of all, the game itself is fantastic – one of the best marriages of theme and mechanics I’ve seen in a board game. Seriously, the way wines become more valuable as they age is super-elegant. Second, being involved with this project has led to a great working relationship with Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games, and it was a blast getting to meet him and his friends at Gen Con 2013.

20. Numenera – September 2012

Why I pledged: This is another one where following the herd played a role. So many people were talking about the game, I figured it was worth getting in for the PDF.

My pledge: $20 for PDFs of the core game and the Player’s Guide.

How it turned out: Honestly, I don’t know. I received an email with a link to download the player’s guide, but not the core book. I don’t care about the player’s guide. I should really follow up with the publisher to get the core book link, but I realized that I don’t actually care enough to track it down. I’m just not that into RPGs these days, and to the degree that I am into them, there are other games that I’m more interested in (at the moment, that’s D&D Next). I do hear good things about Numenera, though, so I’m not going to hold my personal RPG apathy against the game.

Scorecard for projects 11-20 that I backed:

  • Number that were actually funded: 9/10
  • Number that were eventually delivered: 9/9
  • Number that I feel were ultimately worth it in retrospect: 7/9 (the two exceptions being Race to Adventure and Fantastiqa)
  • Total money spent: $321
  • Money spent on not-worth-it projects: $102

What’s next?

I’m still at 49 total backed projects, and I’d like to keep revisiting them in this manner. I can definitely do numbers 21-30 soon, but after that I’ll need to pause to let some of the later-backed projects reach their expected delivery dates. Only three of the projects in the 31-40 range have been delivered, and mostly because I backed them fairly recently – the most recent being in July 2013 – not because of problems with the projects.

I’m still interested in hearing from others who have backed a number of Kickstarter projects – what made you back them, and are you happy with your decision in retrospect?

Michael the OnlineDM

@ClayCrucible on Twitter

Kickstarter projects I’ve backed: Number 1 through 10 (chronologically)

The first time I ever backed a Kickstarter project was nearly two and a half years ago as of this writing – early in 2011. Today, I thought I’d take a look back at the first 10 projects I backed and note what made me want to back it, what level I backed at, and how it turned out. (Part 2 of this series is at this link.)

1. ZEITGEIST Adventure Path from EN World – April 2011

This was the first Kickstarter campaign I ever backed. EN World, where I was an active forum member at the time, was getting ready to publish their ZEITGEIST campaign. I was running their War of the Burning Sky campaign at the time for my online game, and I loved it. Furthermore, I had participated in a loose play-by-forum playtest of the first ZEITGEIST adventure run by its designer, Ryan Nock.

Why I backed it: I loved that play-by-forum taste of the campaign and I wanted to support it.

My pledge: All right, this is a little insane, and I’ve never done anything like this since. I actually ponied up a $500 pledge to participate in a game Ryan would be running at Gen Con 2011.

How it turned out: The campaign didn’t hit its funding goal. That’s probably a good thing for me, since I’ve run a grand total of one adventure in this campaign. I would have felt pretty dumb being out $500 on this in the end.

Interesting side note: EN World came back much later to run a Kickstarter for this adventure path, and I decided not to back it because I thought it was too expensive. Times change!

2. Dungeonmorph Dice – May 2011

Why I backed it: I thought the dice looked really cool, and there was an outside chance I might use them to put together a dungeon map on the fly someday.

My pledge: $20, for a set of five dice.

How it turned out: I eventually received my dice. They look cool. I don’t believe I’ve ever rolled them. Still, I feel fine about the experience.

3. Compact Heroes – June 2011

Why I backed it: I liked the concept of the game (an RPG based on a deck of cards – frankly, a little bit like the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game).

My pledge: $50 for two starter decks.

How it turned out: I received my decks, more or less on time as I recall. I’ll admit that I’ve never played the game. Sigh. On a brighter note, the designer, Rod Waibel, was really helpful when I was trying to figure out how best to print Chaos & Alchemy cards a year later.

4. Mutant Meeples – December 2011

Why I backed it: The game looked like a lot of fun – a cool twist on Ricochet Robots (which I had played years before but did not own). I’ll admit that the video was pretty slick, too.

My pledge: $60 for the game and its expansion

How it turned out: I believe that this holds the record for the longest delay between when the game was supposed to be delivered (February 2012) and when it was actually delivered (December 2012, if I remember right) so far. It’s a pretty cool game, but I’ve only played it once or twice.

Side note: I have no idea why I didn’t back anything between June and December of 2011.

5. Gaming Dice in Chocolate and Sugar – December 2011

Why I backed it: Come on, these are cool! D&D dice that you can eat; awesome. Also, the creator was a fellow Coloradan.

My pledge: $25 for a chocolate set and a sugar set of dice.

How it turned out: Delicious! There were some production delays, but I was very happy with the final product.

6. The Order of the Stick Reprint Drive – February 2012

Why I pledged: I love Order of the Stick, and I hadn’t been able to find a copy of War and XPs anywhere.

My pledge: $45 for a copy of War and XPs (I wanted to pledge $60 for a signed copy, but those went too fast)

How it turned out: Awesome! The book is great.

7. Monster Stock Art and Minis – March 2012

Why I pledged: At the time, I had recently put out my free D&D 4th Edition adventure trilogy The Staff of Suha, and I thought that I might want to have some monster art to use in case I published future adventures like that one. Also, the monster art could be useful for the online games I was running in MapTool.

My pledge: $140 for a license to use all of the art that came out of the project commercially.

How it turned out: Until I started putting this blog post together, there was no way I could have remembered that I spent $140 on this art. I’ve barely used any of it in my MapTool games (which I stopped running in mid-2012 when I moved on to board game design), and I haven’t published any new adventures. Quality art, but a waste of money on my end.

8. Admiral ‘o the High Seas – Naval Adventures from EN World

Why I pledged: Largely to support the ZEITGEIST campaign (see item 1 on this list). I didn’t care much about the naval combat rules themselves.

My pledge: $45 for a PDF of the new supplement and the right to name a character or location in an upcoming ZEITGEIST adventure.

How it turned out: I turned the abbreviation for Online Dungeon Master, ODM, into a word – Odiem – that EN World used as the name of a spooky island location in a ZEITGEIST adventure. Cool. I’m happy with the investment.

9. DoubleFine Adventure

Why I pledged: I’ll admit it; I jumped on the bandwagon. I mean sure, I enjoy this type of game, but I’m really not a big video gamer these days and I wouldn’t have signed on if it weren’t for the “Kickstarter phenomenon” part of this campaign.

My pledge: $15 for a copy of the game.

How it turned out: Well, the game isn’t done yet. I guess this is really the most-delayed project I’ve backed (Mutant Meeples, you’re off the hook). They’ve apparently been putting out videos about the process, but I haven’t bothered to look at any of them (I just don’t care). A waste of money for the most part, but only a $15 waste.

10. Prismatic Art Collection – May 2012

Why I pledged: Mainly because I wanted to support a project that Tracy Hurley and Daniel Solis care about (two people I respect greatly). Also because the art might be useful for any adventures I might release on my site (same rationale as for the Monster Stock Art project).

My pledge: $25 for a thank-you on their web site.

How it turned out: Some art has been released. I haven’t used any of it. But I helped Tracy and Daniel reach their goal, so I’m fine with that.

Scorecard for my first 10 projects:

  • Number that were actually funded: 9/10
  • Number that were eventually delivered: 8/9 (and I think that DoubleFine will eventually come through, too, making this 9/9)
  • Number that I feel were ultimately worth it in retrospect: 6/9 (the three exceptions being Compact Heroes, Monster Stock Art and DoubleFine Adventure)
  • Total money spent: $425
  • Money spent on not-worth-it projects: $205 (sigh)

What’s next?

As of this writing, I’ve backed 49 total projects. I like the idea of going through them 10 at a time, so I’ll probably do 11-20 in the near future. (Edit: Here they are!)

What about you – how many Kickstarter projects have you backed, and how many have been worth it in retrospect?

Michael the OnlineDM

@ClayCrucible on Twitter

Chaos & Alchemy is on Kickstarter – and over 200% funded!

Big news for me from last week: My first game, Chaos & Alchemy, is now on Kickstarter from my publisher, Game Salute!

I know it’s odd that it took me five days from the go-live date to finally post this on my blog, but man, it’s been a busy five days! I still have people who tried Chaos & Alchemy at Denver Comic Con and who gave me their email addresses to be notified of the Kickstarter whom I haven’t emailed yet. I’ll get there, though.

Anyway, as you can see from the widget, the campaign is doing really well. We hit the $5,000 funding goal in under 15 hours, and we were 200% funded by the first weekend. Stretch goals are starting to be achieved!

I really hope we hit a bunch of stretch goals, because there are some seriously awesome things that I want to see happen in this campaign. Game Salute isn’t publishing all of them yet, but I know what they are, and I know that one of them in particular is really exciting.

So, if you’ve been following my blog and reading about the whole creation process and initial DIY publication of Chaos & Alchemy from last year, you can now get in on the complete, color illustrated edition. It’s just so pretty!

Sojourn from Chaos & Alchemy. Illustration by Enggar Adirasa. Graphic design by Dann May.

Sojourn from Chaos & Alchemy. Illustration by Enggar Adirasa. Graphic design by Dann May.

Thank you to those of you who have been following me all this way, and especially to those of you who are supporting me on this Kickstarter. It’s so exciting to know that my game is actually going to be in stores soon, thanks to your help. You guys rock!

Michael Iachini

Clay Crucible Games (@ClayCrucible on Twitter)

P.S. If any of you are interested in taking a gander at my simple co-op (or solo) mountain climbing game, tentatively called Everest, please drop me a line at

Guest Post – Making the Game part 10 – Overseas manufacturing

Previous Entry: Part 9

Welcome back to my blog series Making the Game, in which I talk about the process of creating my card and dice game, Chaos & Alchemy. This is an addendum to my previous post about manufacturing the game by guest blogger Jamey Stegmaier, the creator of a game called Viticulture that is currently on Kickstarter. Here’s Jamey.

-Michael the OnlineDM

Jamey Stegmaier – your friendly guest blogger today

Viticulture has a number of components, including: 

  • A box
  • 140 cards
  • A game board
  • A rulebook
  • Player mats
  • Wood tokens/meeples
  • Clear acrylic glass gems
  • Punchboard coin tokens

Unlike Chaos & Alchemy, I’m obtaining all of these components from the same source: Panda Games Manufacturing. Michael was doing a print-run of 125 games, and it’s great that he was able to piece everything together from manufacturers here in the U.S. It definitely saves on freight shipping.

But I wanted a manufacturer who could handle the whole process and keep costs low. I did not have success finding a manufacturer in the U.S. who meets those requirements, so I turned to a company that several other Kickstarter game creators had recommended to me.

Their recommendations could not have been more accurate. Panda is a pleasure to work with—specifically, Chris Matthew (, who actually works out of Panda’s corporate office in Vancouver. Chris is highly communicative and is great at identifying little issues that you might overlook (like when your player mats are bigger than the box…oops). I wouldn’t recommend reaching out to him unless you know exactly what your components will be. 

Freight Shipping

The other factor you have to weigh when you consider Panda Games is that you have to pay for freight shipping across the Pacific. That will run you between $4k (half a shipping container) and $6k (a full container). They’ll ship door to door, which means that they can take care of customs and tariffs and all that (you’ll pay for it, but they’ll oversee the process). But you also need to have a destination for all those games (I’m still learning about what happens next if you use a storage and fulfillment center, so perhaps I’ll have to follow up with another post in the future). 


The high freight shipping cost means that you want to ship as many games as possible. The minimum order through Panda is 1500 copies of the game, hence the necessity for Kickstarter unless you have $20k sitting around collecting dust (and if that’s the case, you really should at least put that cash in a bank). If your game has similar components to mine, you can expect to save about a dollar if you increase your print run from 1500 to 2000, and then another dollar if you increase that to 3000 (which will fill a shipping container). Thus 3000 is kind of the sweet spot to maximize your per-unit price and your shipping costs. 

Viticulture box art by Beth Sobel – one of the Chaos & Alchemy artists!


You’re probably wondering about manufacturing time. From the minute you send your final files to Panda, there will be a bare minimum of 4 months before you receive your games, and that’s if everything goes perfectly. 3 months at Panda for manufacturing, 1 month for shipping. And that doesn’t include packing and shipping the individual recipients. I budgeted 6 months for Viticulture, but I hope to be faster than that. 


On Kickstarter, it’s common to offer different versions of the same game so people have a choice. For example, I offer the Viticulture base game for $39 and the game + expansion for $49. Panda can custom package your games based on those reward levels.


I have a few notes about some of the components. 


You’ll want to keep a few numbers in mind if you have cards in your game so that you can maximize each sheet of cards, as it costs a fair amount to set a single sheet. Depending on the size of the cards you’re using, different numbers of cards can fit on a single sheet: 

•    57 x 87mm (bridge) – 54 cards/sheet
•    63 x 88m (blackjack) – 54 cards/sheet
•    59 x 91mm (euro) – 45 cards/sheet
•    44 x 67mm (mini) – 70 cards/sheet

I decided to go with the mini cards for Viticulture—they’re the same size as the cards in Settlers of Catan. They’re not big enough for a lot of text, but my cards don’t have much text.

Wood Tokens/Meeples

Panda can make pretty much any type of token if you send them an outline to use. You’ll have to pay extra for custom tokens, and even more with custom tokens with concavities, but anything else is fair game.


You’ve probably seen these in games: thick cardboard with corrugated coins to be poked out before you can play. The key with these is to include everything on a single punchboard and then have Panda include multiple copies per game if necessary. For example, in Viticulture, there are 108 coins. I can fit 36 per sheet, so I’m putting all of the various types of coins on one sheet (opposed to all silver coins on one sheet and all gold coins on the next). That way Panda only has to set one sheet of tokens.

Metal Coins

I wish I had known more about metal tokens before I started my campaign. Now I know better. I think these are a really cool addition to any game. They’ll cost you a bit, but it’s not extravagant, and at the very least you could offer them as a stretch goal on Kickstarter.

I think that’s pretty much it. I’m sure I’ll have more to share after this process is over—I’ve only really just begun. But I’ll share more in the future. In the meantime, if you want to stay in touch with Stonemaier Games, feel free to subscribe to our blog or Like us on Facebook. Or back Viticulture on Kickstarter to get updates throughout the manufacturing process—I intend to share the inside scoop with everyone there. Thanks!


This is Michael jumping back in here to say that I’m a backer of Viticulture; it’s definitely my kind of game. I highly recommend checking it out!

-Michael the OnlineDM