Tell us a bit about yourself and Gloomhaven
So I am the owner of Cephalofair Games, which published Forge War in 2015 and Gloomhaven in 2017. I live in Indiana with my wife Kristyn and work on game design and publishing full-time. Gloomhaven is a massive game where players explore a vast, open fantasy world as mercenaries, exploring dungeons and fighting monsters. It is a campaign game of tactical combat where actions are resolved through a card-play mechanic that offers deep decision making.
What did you do to build up a following before you launched Gloomhaven the first time?
So Gloomhaven was my second project. I had built up a following with my first project, Forge War, which raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter in 2014. That project’s success I would largely attribute to a glowing review from Richard Ham of Rahdo Runs Through. Basically, my following was seeded with his following and grew from there due to the quality of my games.
Did you do anything different when you were building an audience for the second edition of Gloomhaven?
Not really. At that point, Gloomhaven had built up a momentum all its own through word-of-mouth. All I had to do was hit the launch button and watch it take off.
The second edition has 25 000 backers at the moment. What do you think is the main reason for that?
I would attribute it to the quality and uniqueness of the game. 10,000 received their copies from the first printing, went wild about how awesome it was, and then, naturally, a lot more people wanted copies.
What is your best marketing tip?
Make a product you are truly passionate about, and make it well. I truly believe everything starts from there. The best marketing you can get is positive, unbiased reviews from the community.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched the two Gloomhaven campaigns, what would it be?
Well, I wish I had had a better idea of the costs – especially shipping – before the first Gloomhaven campaign. I ended up not being able to print as many games as I would have liked, which resulted in retail shortages, which are never fun.
How is it to run a campaign for a second edition? Is it any different?
Sure, it was different. The first campaign was a very colaborative effort between me and my backers, fighting to get this cool thing made and putting everything we could into making it as great as possible. You naturally lose a lot of that in a reprint because everything is already more-or-less set, but I still tried to involve the community as much as possible, mainly through the community-driven campaign that I ran.
When did you launch and why did you choose that exact moment?
We ended up launching April 4, which was pretty much the earliest we could get everything ready. I was sort of in a unique position where it really was about getting the printer up and running as soon as possible, and the Kickstarter funds were an important part of that process.
How do you structure your days during the campaign?
I try to still get a good amount of sleep each night, because when you are tired, you start making mistakes, but when I am awake, especially at the beginning and end of the campaign, a large percentage of my time is taken up by answering emails, Kickstarter messages, and BoardGameGeek threads. I was also running the community-driven campaign, which involved creating new scenarios for the game every three days, and that took a considerable amount of time. The rest of the time was spent working on doing things to increase the reach of the project: going on podcasts, organizing ad campaigns, and things like that.
What’s the best kickstarter advice you ever received?
Read Jamey Stegmaier’s Kickstarter lessons. It is pretty much all the Kickstarter advice you could want in one place.
Even you have a mid campaign drop in new backers. Whats your main tactic to this?
Sure, you can’t keep up that day 1 momentum throughout the entire campaign, and no one expects you to. It’s all about remaining positive, and continuing to interact with your current backers and working to make sure the is reaching as many people as it can.
What´s your tactic regarding stretch goals?
Well, with the reprint Kickstarter, we didn’t really have any stretch goals, but they are a great way to keep the community engaged and excited about the trajectory of the project. They are also, of course, tied to the economy of scale and the idea that as you print more of something, it becomes cheaper. It’s a little tricky, though, where that economy of scale dies out the more of something you produce. When you are talking about a reprint like Gloomhaven, where most of the development costs have already been paid, and you’re shooting up far past 10000 copies printed, the economy of scale is a much smaller factor.
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
Updates. Updates are how you communicate with your backers long after the campaign ends and reassure them that everything is going well. Kickstarter projects live and die by how often they update their backers. If you want to run a truly successful Kickstarter, write regular updates and be as transparent as possible in them.
Do you regret something you did on your current or previous campaign?
Aside from the low pricing of the first Gloomhaven Kickstarter I already mentioned, I can’t think of anything.
What is your favourite board game at the moment and why?
I love Terra Mystica. I love the theme and the asymmetry of the races, and the game play, above everything else, is top-notch. I love planning, and Terra Mystica really rewards proper planning.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
Jamey Stegmaier was definitely a big role model for me when I was starting out in the industry. You know, this sort of smaller publishing company that saw a lot of success through Kickstarter. That is something I aspired to. Also just in terms of design, I really look up to Vlaada Chvatil, who has been prolific in many different areas of game design.
Where can people reach you?