Tell us a bit about yourself and Dragon Brew.
I have been an avid tabletop gamer for 35 years. I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons and Avalon Hill games growing up and like most gamers I started to make my own “House rules” for games. I designed my first tabletop game in 1989 called “Bloodthirsty Capitalist Backstabbing Hogs”. The game was a bloated mess but I had a lot of fun making it. I have been hooked on both playing and making games ever since.
Dragon Brew was born in 2014 on a Christmas camping trip at the beach with my wife (we can do those things in San Simeon, California). My wife and I enjoyed the beach along with a cooler full of beer (as always). The thought hit me while looking at my spent bottle. Why not have a game where you take ingredient cards and lay them to make your own beers with custom names? I grabbed my note book and sketched out cards lining up to create beers. I always ask myself “WHY” when I think of a new mechanic. Why would players want to do this? What is the goal of the game? To win prizes at a beer festival of course! Judges with personalities and unique preferences!
I was able to come up with the core engine, goals and theme for Dragon Brew in a single beer soaked December afternoon on a beach in San Simeon, California. I spent the next 24 months perfecting it.
What did you do to build up a following before you launched?
Building up an audience is critical for success when crowd funding. Kickstarter is not going to do any marketing for you. We started by building up a mailing list and then sending demo copies to friends and fellow gamers around the country. They collected names at games conventions, game stores and tabletop groups throughout the country.
We created a newsletter for the game and several of us frequented the social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.
What is your best marketing tip?
Have nice art and build a community. Art really sells a product and the community will help you gather people to see your product.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched, what would it be?
I spent a year preparing for our Kickstarter campaign, much like a couple does preparing for their first child. The thing that surprised me was the emotional effect of the “Lulls” in my campaign. Some days are just slow and people will come and go. It’s hard not to want to reach out to everybody who leaves and ask them why. There will be slow days for the majority of us – Unless you are Exploding Kittens.
When did you launch and why did you choose that exact moment?
It was important to us to get Dragon Brew into the hands of our backers before December so we counted the months back and decided on February in case we had delays. It also worked out well with the Chinese new year as well.
The beginning and the end of the campaign are when most of the backers pledge. Whats your main tactic to handle the mid-campaign drop?
Besides drinking some good strong beers, you just work a little bit every day posting on social media, sending press releases and reaching out to every friend you know. It’s important to keep busy and not give up.
How often do you send out updates and what do they include?
It was important to us that each update has actual important information. We had not set schedule. When something came up we sent an update. We expect that we will be sending one update a month during the manufacturing and fulfillment process, but we have no hard fast rules about it.
What’s you tactic regarding stretch goals?
I spend 5 months building a VERY tight manufacturing and cost model. We felt it was important to offer the game for no more than $49 and we succeeded. The stretch goals were the extra upgrades we could not afford to give at the $49 level at the expected quantities for a particular funding level. More backers reduced our landed cost per game and we filled those savings with more content in the box.
Do you regret something you did on your current campaign?
We did some experimentation with various sort of advertisements. Although we don’t have the final number yet, I am sure a few of them did not result in the direct sales we expected. In our next campaign we plan on spending less on advertising and replace those energies with even more focus on social media.
You put up Dragon Brew on Tabletopia. How was the response and the process behind that?
We used Tabletopia for testing the expansion races for Dragon Brew. We wanted to try some big changes without the cost of printing or editing new cards. We decided to go ahead and make a version that is open to the public. This allows our backers to try the game. Dragon Brew has over 110 hours of play time on Tabletopia as of this morning.
You have your own testing and development group on FB for Dragon Brew. How did you use the group?
Yes we did. It was the first time I used Facebook this way and it proved to be amazing. Emailing out update and asking questions just does not work for most people. I plan on using a development Facebook group for all my futures projects.
What is your favourite board game and why?
That’s a really hard question to answer because I love so many games. My “favorites” often shift. I would say the game that consistently has been on my list all these years is Blood Bowl. I have been playing Blood Bowl since it was introduced in 1986. Sure, it’s a bit old fashioned in some ways and the game will make you want to throw your dice out the window, but I still love it. Actually, I just picked up the 2016 Edition of Blood Bowl and it is beautiful.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
I tend to look at publishers rather than individuals. Fantasy Flight has done an amazing job over the years of creating very highly thematic and beautiful board games. It’s hard not to respect the quality of work they are doing.
Anything else you want to add?
Please support Dragon Brew on Kickstarter. The project ends on March 3, 2017. We worked really hard to publish the game we would buy ourselves.