Lay Waste Games is currently kickstarting an expansion to their game Dragoon from 2015. We had a chat to their Cofounder and Director of Operations, Jonathan Ritter-Roderick

What did you do to build up a following before you launched the original game?

We spent a fair amount of time building the launch on both social media and in person. It was important for us to know the general time we were planning to launch about 6-8 months in advance, so we could discuss plans with gamers at conventions. Regarding digitally on social media, it was all about engaging with gamers and not constantly saying WE ARE LAUNCHING SOON! No one wants to be bombarded with the same message over and over. Instead, we make sure to inform gamers of our plans, but allow them to access the information if they want it. Some folks just want to say hi on Twitter and not play the game, and we are completely cool with that. Ultimately, we want to not only be a name in the gaming space, but a participant in the conversations happening.

Did you do anything different when you were building an audience for the expansion?

We definitely did our best to get the game into the hands of gamers as early as possible. We gave our Kickstarter backers a sneak peak at an early beta version of the game before anyone else, which really helped shaped the expansion in a big way. You should never create games in a bubble with only yourself or people who like you. Getting the game into all types of gamers is super important, and you should be prepared for all kinds of feedback. It`s not an easy process, but your game will be better in the end.

What is your best marketing tip?

Make all conversations you have two way. No one wants to give a company feedback or kind words and hear radio silence. Be a group of people that engage with other people, rather than a brand that is spitting out information. For us, we are gamers and we wanted to create Dragoon and The Rogue and Barbarian Expansion because we felt it made the game more strategic and exciting, and as gamers, we appreciate the hunger for new content. We love talking about it, so whenever someone wants to talk, we respond with excitement because we are excited!

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If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched the current campaign, what would it be?

Probably all the really smart ideas the backers have during the campaign. We always get amazing suggestions from backers mid campaign and go “Whoa! That’s a great idea!” and then try to actually do some of them. Thankfully we have a really great online community to talk with, but its impossible to create Kickstarter level enthusiasm and ideas outside of an actual campaign.

How is it to run a campaign for an expansion? Is it any different?

Definitely different, especially because we are doing a reprint of the base game at the same time. The most difficult part is to create stretch goals that appeal to both the expansion backers and the new backers coming just for the base game.

When did you launch and why did you choose that exact moment?

While it is tough to manage, we really like launching in conjunction with a great convention. For our first campaign, we launched a few weeks out from PAX East, but for this one, we decided to launch right before. It really helps create momentum for the campaign in the early days, which is extremely important. We did pay the price though, as you are doing double duty at all times with a live campaign and convention.

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?

To battle the almighty plateau, we do our best to release stretch goals that will appeal to backers. But more important is being present, whether it be online or in social media. The middle of a campaign can be a grind, and you can’t stop moving. This time around, we have planned some great add-ons that really help inject some enthusiasm into the campaign, while giving backers some fun items they wanted.

How often do you send out updates and what do they include?

We believe in sending updates as often as they should go out. You never want your backers in the dark. Updates allow us to give vital information around the game, but also start a dialogue with the community to see what they want and if we can get it to them.

Whats your tactic regarding stretch goals?

For us, we like using stretch goals to make the game as pretty as possible. With our metal pieces, we have become known for presentation, and enhancing that for backers is very important. Gameplay stretch goals are something people ask us about, but we tend to stay away from. Our designers and cofounders Jake and Zach Given spend a lot of time balancing the game, so adding in gameplay alterations can detract from the game. With that said, we still want to do everything we can do give backers what they want. So Jake and Zach have been developing  variant rules that we’re now offering on Kickstarter, which is a great way to add new gameplay without taking away from the core game mechanics.

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What is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?

I feel the product shot can make or break the Kickstarter. It’s often what you open the video with, and show first on the page. I’ve seen some great campaigns that simply have less-than product shots that don’t represent the item, and their campaign is hurt because of it.

Do you regret something you did on your previous campaign?

We had an unfortunate delay due to a production company giving us a quote, and then raising the price before production. It made us feel horrible because we had to scramble to find a new company, and so much time was wasted during the process. However, on the up side, we found our current production company which is amazing.

What is your favourite board game and why?

Ah! That’s a tough one! I would say currently it’s a tie between Secret Hitler and Diet & Friends. Secret Hitler because it’s a game where your visual focus is the players and not the game. Anything that encourages players to look up at their friends while they play is something I admire, and Secret Hitler does it so damn well. Diet & Friends is just astounding and that is all I will say. Find a copy (if you can), buy it, and play it immediately with friends.

Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?

My role model is the industry itself. It’s astounding how welcoming the community has been to myself and the Lay Waste Games team. At every turn, there was someone offering advice and help. We do our best to stay true to that approach, and pass it forward

Anything else you want to add?

Vin Diesel is pretty cool

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