Tell us a bit about yourself and Re-Chord.
I’m Marshall Britt, a 34 year old Father, Husband, Game Designer, and Publisher who has been making games with our company Yanaguana Games for almost four years. My development partner Andrew Toth is the other half of the company, and is the silent force behind our games being polished by the time they reach your table. Together we’ve been designing and developing Re-Chord for over a year, and we are very happy to be publishing it in 2018. Re-Chord is a guitar themed Euro game that uses real guitar picks and real guitar chords in the game. Players are guitarists battling for control of the “fretboard” in a game of hand management, area control, “pick” placement, and unique “pick abilities”. Re-Chord can be played by 1-5 players and takes roughly 60 minutes per game, no prior guitar knowledge is needed!
Your first Kickstarter campaign for Re-Chord failed. What happened?
There were a number of factors surrounding our first launch and it’s failure. I can’t pinpoint any one thing but a combination of many smaller changes seemed to make a world of difference, I’ll do my best to explain them here. Timing was a large factor, this was our first Kickstarter campaign, we’ve previously published our titles with our own capital and were not aware of the sort of “Fall Rush” that we launched in. Kickstarter is being used by a vast variety of publishers of all sizes, and we were likely unprepared to be live at the same time as some of the most successful creators to inhabit the platform. These are not things I was immediately aware of honestly, and have only been brought to my attention in hindsight by more seasoned creators. My first course of action was to figure out what was wrong with our campaign and what I’d done wrong in explaining exactly what it was.
What kind of feedback did you get from the backers?
One of the first things we did after the campaign was cancelled was discuss what backers wanted to see done differently. We posted a poll with three cover art options, the one we’d launched with, an old prototype cover, and a cover that looked like a guitar amplifier. The poll numbers were roughly 250 for the Amplifier, and less than 30 for each of the others. Clearly we’d found a change we could make easily, so I designed the new box cover that you currently see on Re-Chord, the artwork of the guitarists from the previous campaign was re-purposed for the rule book cover. The next thing we did was update the cards to fit more than one orientation, based on backer feedback as well. With a few artistic upgrades and just a few suggestions from dedicated backers, we’d already improved our product greatly.
Now you have relaunched the campaign and it funded almost immediately. What did you do differently now?
Accompanying the upgrades I mentioned above, we worked with our manufacturer to lower the printing cost of each copy of Re-Chord which allowed us to offer a cheaper initial price point, and offer some fun exclusive options for the backer who wants a very rare copy. We restructured our shipping lanes entirely by hand selecting fulfillment outlets in each region, which brought our international shipping costs down. I also structured the campaign page quite differently and edited the content to be far more reader friendly, which was another learning experience.
Did many of the backers from the original campaign follow you over to the relaunch?
Quite a few, I can’t be sure exactly how many but we certainly see many familiar names this time around. I was also in contact with many of the first campaigns backers during the feedback process, which has been amazingly helpful. If you are a creator and have a dedicated few fans who you can bounce ideas off if it really helps you gain perspectives you wouldn’t likely have had.
What was the biggest thing you learned from the failed campaign?
There are so many lessons learned it’s like I’ve just had a whole year of education in a few months. The major takeaway from the first campaign for me personally is the redefining of “failure” and being able to turn it back into opportunity. So often it’s easy to focus internally on a perceived failure that you neglect to learn the many lessons it presents. I feel like in this situation, we didn’t fall victim to that cycle, and took the proper steps to fix it.
What did you do to build up a following before you launched both campaigns?
We’d been showing Re-Chord at conventions like PAX, Boston FIG, ConnectiCon, and it won “Most Innovative Game” at CT FIG in 2017. We also have a small social media following that we’ve continued to grow over the course of Re-Chord’s development. Outside of those we of course spent marketing dollars to target our videos towards table top players on multiple social media outlets. We spent substantially less on marketing the relaunch than the first campaign, which is another lesson to creators with a struggling project.
When did you launch the new version of Re-Chord and why did you choose that exact moment?
January 9th at 2:12 PM EST. We wanted to launch within a certain window of the previous campaign while it was still somewhat fresh in backer’s memories. Afternoon launch times also seem smart to me, people are still at work or perhaps returning from lunch and often check their social media feeds in this window.
Did you expect to get so many backers on your second attempt?
I told our team many times that I wasn’t setting expectations, specifically due to the first launch and how let down I was by it’s lack of success.
You lowered your funding goal quite a bit on the relaunch. What made you do that?
We were able to lower our printing cost a bit, but we also made arrangements to do a very small print run if we didn’t have as much success. Fortunately we don’t have to consider that any longer as we’ve surpassed even the first campaign’s goal.
You have worked with a Kickstarter expert (Daniel Zayas) on your campaign. How has that worked out?
Daniel is an essential part of our team and at this point has become one the first people I bounce ideas off of when talking about all things Kickstarter. The lowered funding goal discussed above was only made possible due to our work with Daniel, same with our lowered shipping rates. Daniel also helps keep me on task in terms of getting certain milestones completed, which is something I noticed early on and appreciate greatly. He works with many levels of publisher and knows we all often have multiple projects going on so is very good about handling specifics. Daniel has been an incredibly positive addition to our team.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched Re-chord, what would it be?
I think knowing about the “Fall Rush” might have helped, but I’m actually quite happy with the path we’ve taken, Re-Chord is a better game for it.
What is your best marketing tip during the campaign?
Never try to tap a community you aren’t part of with marketing, it can and will backfire regularly. Participate in threads, forums, and conversations for months before ever mentioning your product and it will pay off greatly.
What’s the best kickstarter advice you ever received?
Start with a small project or two and fulfill them quickly, then make a larger game. (I did not take this advice, you should).
What´s your thoughts regarding stretch goals?
They have an interesting effect on both campaigns and games, often very positive when done well. We added some fun content, and it’s been well received. I personally think they are a really fun way to reward backers for helping the game fund as long as the creators have done the proper research to ensure they don’t overspend. We recently added a miniature as a stretch goal very late in the campaign, one of the reasons for the delay was ensuring the costs were appropriate.
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
Depending on the product it’s either the Project image or the video. I think for tabletop games you’ve certainly got to have a striking image of your box and components or amazing artwork on display.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
Honestly many of my friends are game designers or people in the industry whom I strive to be more like in certain ways all the time. The one publisher / designer I’ve always followed is Jamey Stegmaier, his blog is largely responsible for how Yanaguana Games is operated. I’m also a fan of Tim Fowers, Uwe Rosenberg, Ryan Lukat, Rob Daviau, Craig Van Ness, and Eric Lang, among a ton of other amazing designers.