Tell us a bit about yourself and 1066, Tears to many mothers.
I am a freelance creative producer – I shoot, edit, and produce videos by day, and I design board games by night, like a sort of geek superhero. Boardman. 1066, Tears to Many Mothers is a passion project of mine. I love history, and the Battle of Hastings has fascinated me since I was a child. The game came about because I wanted to play a cool card game with great art that wasn’t fantasy or sci-fi or whatever – I wanted to give history a kind of sexy facelift. All the history games seemed to be quite dry, and hex-based, which is fine if that’s your thing. But I tend to prefer games with cool art. So the idea was what if players play a game like Magic the Gathering or the Star Wars LCG, but then come away actually learning a little bit about history too? And 1066, TtMM was born.
What did you do to build up a following before you launched the 1066 campaign?
1066 was my second Kickstarter after we successfully funded Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game back in 2015. Most of the backers from the Gloom of Kilforth (GoK) Kickstarter loved the quality of that game and came back to support us again, but we also managed to gather another 500 or so people who were perhaps drawn in by the historical setting, the faster game play (1066 takes 30 minutes, Gloom of Kilforth takes 40-50 minutes per player), or the fact that 1066 was half the price of GoK!
Did you do anything different when you were building an audience for your previous campaign, Gloom of Kilforth?
I had no experience at all before embarking on the Gloom of Kilforth Kickstarter, so the whole campaign was very organic (read: improvised!) throughout. With 1066, we were slightly more prepared: we put out the feelers on social media and made sure we gave plenty of notice to backers, we gathered loads of feedback on the campaign page itself, we had the pre-existing audience from our last game, a lower funding goal, and the confidence of an existing product that we’re very proud of.
When did you launch and why did you choose that exact moment?
Gloom of Kilforth was in development for years, and play-testers and gamers kept asking when it was going to be released. It had a two year stint in the hands of publishers who failed to do anything with it, so as soon as I got the rights back from them and had the campaign page prepped and printers and artists lined up, I launched the campaign. It went toe to toe with some huge names and that probably stung us, but I was just glad for it to finally be out there.
With 1066 – although it was all ready to launch – it was crucial that we get Gloom of Kilforth into backers’ hands first to prove to them what we’re capable of. For that reason we had to sit on it for the whole 18 months of development with Gloom of Kilforth. Once GoK landed and people were delighted with the results we launched 1066.
How do you structure your days during the campaign?
For GoK I had no structure! I was working full time, 9-6 Monday to Friday, getting home and working on the Kickstarter and forums until 2-3am and getting about 3 hours of sleep a night. I strongly do not recommend this! With 1066, I booked the month off and spent every waking moment working on the Kickstarter, but made sure to get proper sleep each night too.
What is your best marketing tip during the campaign?
You as the creator are the most important marketing element. Be confident, sell yourself by being nice to everyone, take all the negative criticism along with the positive – but learn to filter the crap too, there are some incredibly entitled peeps out there on the internet.
How important is the art when you are doing a kickstarter?
For me it is absolutely essential. I turn away from projects with poor art – if you can’t do it yourself employ someone to do it for you – there are thousands of amazingly talented artists out there dying for an opportunity to prove themselves.
Do you regret something you did on the 1066 campaign?
We practically gave away the playmats – we could have priced them more sensibly, but it’s been a great deal for our backers.
What’s your main tactic to handle the mid-campaign drop in new backers?
Have plenty of press release material ready – any interviews, videos, reviews/previews or any other info or tidbits you can schedule to help combat the mid-campaign lull will be 100% worth the wait. Also, if you can schedule sensible add-ons that can entice existing backers to throw you even more support that can help too.
What’s your tactic regarding stretch goals?
Where possible make them game-related. As a gamer myself I much prefer bonus game content such as extra cards and components over T-shirts, mugs, whatever.
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
The video is pretty high profile as it sits right there at the top of your page, and will be the first thing that most people connect with. The first video for Gloom of Kilforth was awful – just me rabbiting on for 15 minutes about the game. Luckily I received great advice, and nipped it right down to 2 minutes to (hopefully) keep people interested throughout.
Also, the Kickstarter page layout itself needs to kick ass – have friends, family, and people not even associated with the project go through it with a fine-toothed comb for typos, clarity, content relevance, etc. The project preview page link is vital to throw out there for feedback before you launch.
The Gloom of Kilforth campaign had an okay start and a crazy good end. Can you talk a bit about that campaign?
No one had really heard of it. We had no marketing, so it came from nowhere. People didn’t know who I was, and we had this high target of £48,000 so people weren’t really sure if we could deliver. But the word of mouth was incredible and the momentum just kept going. I think it helped that I’d contributed a lot of fanmade material to many other games over the years, so people who had played and enjoyed for example my Lord of the Rings LCG or D&D Adventure System scenarios threw in their support.
Funny thing about Kickstarter is that people are less likely to support a project if it hasn’t already funded – even though no money exchanges hands if it doesn’t reach its goal. So you see a lot of projects with artificially low funding goals so that they can quickly get over that ‘100% funded’ hump, which is okay as long as you over-fund enough to cover your costs I suppose. We didn’t have that though, so it was a 27 day slog up to that 100% mark, but once we hit it, we suddenly shot up to 150% funded in the final 48 hours when people realised it was actually going to go into production and they could start getting stretch goals unlocked. It was a real underdog story and I think the backers really connected with that, so as you say it went a bit crazy at the end as people started doubling or tripling their pledges just to get us over the next stretch goal!
I think there was some genuine disappointment when our second campaign for 1066 funded so quickly…
What is your favourite board game at the moment and why?
I have so many favourites! Eclipse, Mage Knight and Through The Ages are perfect 10s for me, but as a group we are really enjoying Spartacus and the second edition of Mansions of Madness. But there are so many new shinies we end up playing brand new titles almost every game night.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
Lots! I’m a Vlaada Chvatil fanboy, the Sadler brothers are great too, and I am loving almost everything Ryan Laukat is doing at the moment – he’s doubly talented in that he designs interesting games and is a brilliant artist himself. Near and Far was a jaw dropper and I can’t wait to see what Empires of the Void delivers. I am totally in awe of what Adam Poots did with Kingdom Death: Monster, not just in the record-breaking millions of dollars made, but in his world vision and the game itself – it’s a stunning achievement by any standard. All of the FFG Lord of the Rings and Arkham Horror LCG design team deserve massive kudos too. I could go on.
Anything else you want to add?
Gloom of Kilforth has sold out already so we’re doing a reprint Kickstarter plus mini expansion now!
Where can people reach you?