Tell us a bit about yourself and Moonshiners of the Apocalypse.
Hi all, we’re 2fat2fly Games (Laura Dorila & Giuliano Draguleanu) and we’re addicted to board games. Good games. Better yet, fun games and especially games with a strong theme. Games that tell a story. And the better the theme is integrated into the mechanisms of the game, the greater the experience.
Enter “Moonshiners of the Apocalypse” our first project (or at least the one that made the cut and got fully developed before all the other ideas). Mechanically you might say it is a gateway 4X, some resource management, area control, some worker placement, some dice combat… But for us, is the story of “one-to-four-heroes”, that are willing to do anything to escape the apocalypse and the infamous Shanty Town. And they do that by rebuilding the town, turning the houses into distilleries and pubs and selling moonshine, all this while out-drinking the hordes of drunkards that roam the town.
What did you do to build up a following before you launched MotA?
That was a long, slow, but rewarding road of building up a community around “Moonshiners”. We knew from the get-go that for us, attending to big conventions and creating personal relationships with gamers was not an actual possibility. We are located in Europe (Bucharest, Romania) and after a quick math it became clear that investing our time and money in social media and a strong online presence was the only way.
We posted the first picture of the logo of the game on Facebook about a year ago, in September and since then we grew organically, post by post and “like” by “like” from 0 to more than 3000 fans at the time of launch. “Organic” does not mean that we posted pictures and just waited. Not at all! We engaged actively on any board game community we could find, asking and (sometimes) offering advice and we updated the “Moonshiners” Facebook page at least 2 times a week. We relied heavily on the art of the game and soon response started to show. We used Instagram, Twitter, Youtube (later down the road) and in time it paid off.
Towards the end of the campaign about 3 months before launch, we increased the frequency of posts and begun investing the pre-allocated budget into social media. Again, it paid off.
In short, the advice that you see everywhere is the good one: start way before the KS campaign, build up a community and basically make sure not too many people in the industry are not aware of your game.
When did you launch and why did you choose that exact moment?
“Moonshiners of the Apocalypse” went live on July 24, at 10AM EDT. And it was quite an experience! No matter how hard you prepare, (and we did, the best we could, we’re both control freaks that don’t like loose ends) there is always something, a small detail that feels “off”. So the more we got closer to the announced launching moment, the more pressure we felt.
And then it came. Z day and minute. We gathered around the monitor, we took a big breath and we hit the green button… just to see that nothing happens. An error of some sort? For sure. Something was wrong. Minutes passed, all our phones started buzzing with messages asking over and over the same things: “where is the campaign?”, “shouldn’t be online already?”, “what happened?” Those moments were something, I can tell you that! In the end (20 very long minutes later!) we added a friend, Chandler Copenhager as a collaborator on the project, he spotted the glitch, fixed it and we went (finally!) live! The error? A bad translation of EDT-UTC-GMT-whatever was the culprit. Lesson learned!
This little story aside, we chose that moment for one simple reason: we were prepared. We decided long time before that we will launch only when we will be as ready as we can and not a moment earlier. Many say that summer is not a good time, and it somehow makes sense. But we felt it might still work in our advantage. With a lot of people avoiding summer, we managed to launch in a time where not much else was going on in tabletop category. That combined with the community already aware of the launch and waiting for it, plus a little incentive called “the infamous early bird” got us fully funded in less than an hour and at over 400% in less than 48 hours!
Do I advise anyone else to launch in summer? Maye, IF you feel you are as prepared as you ever gonna be and IF you know you have built a strong community.
Did you expect so many backers?
Well, no, not really! Not that fast anyway. The campaign was funded way faster than our wildest dreams and it exceeded for sure our expectations. And we didn’t expect that, mainly because having no prior experience with a KS campaign and a community built from scratch, we had no idea how to translate all the numbers: this many facebook page likes mean what? Or the number of comments? Or how many email addresses we get? Or the increasing number of daily website visitors? We probably know now a little more than before, but just until the launch, we had to go with the solid and irrefutable science of gut feeling 🙂
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched, what would it be?
Leaving the game design part aside, launching a campaign on KS is a tremendous workload! I don’t want to discourage anybody, on the contrary, but please take it seriously and do your homework long before launching. Don’t assume, don’t hope and launch only when you feel you did all you could. We had quite a team of collaborators (all of them lavishly and proudly displayed at the bottom of the KS page) but at the core, we are a team of two. Our reccomandation? Not enough! At least 3 dedicated and fully involved persons would make a huge difference in how you tackle decisions and put out fires, especially as the Z day approaches.
What is your opinion on early birds and why did you choose to have it?
It is known that “early birds” are not a good idea. And while for sure it helped us fund fast, it also brought us a painful number of cancellations immediately after the 48 hour mark. We tried to take a middle road though. We offered a bonus to the early backers, but it is also something that anyone can have for the price of $5. A deck of 40 “Event” Cards, that add more depth, lore and fun to the game, that was designed since the early days, but we decided to offer it as an optional buy, because it can increase the length of play from 30 minutes to 45 minutes per player. And we wanted a faster, lighter game.
Do you think the early birds have helped or hurt your campaign overall? It seems like the mid campaign slump can be quite hard if there was a EB in the beginning.
Honestly, we feel that without the early bird thingy, we would have reached roughly, if not even less the same number of backers, but more gradually for sure. But again, our early bird is not an exclusive that only early backers had the privilege to have. Backers can still get the very same deck of 40 “Event” cards, as one of the add-ons.
Do I advise anyone to do an early bird? No. I wanna say that it contributed to a very fast funding and overall was a good decision, but for sure it backfired too (as we kind of expected) in the following days. Would we do it again the same? Maybe. But slightly different and only in certain conditions.
How do you structure your days during the campaign?
We made a promise to ourselves way before the campaign that we will reply to ALL messages and comments sent to us. If the backers, potential backers or never-to-be-backers take their time to ask a question, offer an opinion or simply banter or complain about whatever, the least we can do is listen. And reply. Be it either a question, a doubt or just a backer expressing excitement or discontent, the first thing I do, while I still sip my morning coffee, is to reply to all the messages gathered over the night. We did that all the way throughout the pre-campaign too and it made a lot of sense to do it now as well. Same thing happens at the end of the day, before calling it a night. In between, there are a lot of other emails, updates to the KS page, some graphics to be added, improved, or the ongoing marketing campaign to manage. Little time to breath these days, not that we’re complaining :).
What’s the best Kickstarter advice you ever received?
Don’t launch until you are ready. Don’t launch until you are ready. Don’t launch until you are ready.
What´s your thoughts regarding stretch goals?
Stretch goals are a good way of making a good game better. But it should be approached with caution: without a carefully math behind every one of the additions, the stretch goals might bring more backers, but they also can easily backfire later on. It is very easy to promise lots and lots of “bling”, just to increase the number of backers, but is not that easy to discover later down the road that you don’t really have the money or time to produce all that you promised. So plan ahead! Prepare SG’s above your wildest expectation because it is better to be safe than sorry (duh!).
Example given: on paper, we prepared, we calculated costs and timings for more stretch goals than we’ll ever reach with this campaign. We were prepared, right? But we didn’t expect backers to knock them down so fast, and fairly soon (day 2 I believe it was) we suddenly realised that we don’t have yet the finalized sculpt for a miniature that was about to be unlocked! The result? The stretch goal was unlocked, but we were able to update the image on the project page only 24 hours later. Lesson learned!
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
The page in its entirety. All the elements should work in concert, each of them should give the needed info as clear as possible, but also in an entertaining way. Make it an informative experience if I may call it that way. Maybe the best way of approaching the design of a KS page is to step in the backer’s shoes for a moment and see things from that perspective. Because not every minute detail is actually important for the backer, no matter how juicy might be, at least not at the moment of making the decision of scrolling further or not, of making a pledge, or not.
If you could change one thing with Kickstarter, what would it be?
I’d love to know how many people are visiting the page, looking around and leave without taking any action, and how many people hit the “remind me” little cute heart-button up there on the right.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
We learned a lot from Jamey Stegmaier and James Mathe blogs. And I do mean a lot. I know that probably your readers are tired of hearing the same thing over and over, but is simply the truth. Probably their articles are the single most important thing what gave us the courage to get into self-publishing in the first place. I remember how, while reading a few of their articles, I was thinking “ok, not easy for sure, but maybe doable…” 🙂
Anything else you want to add?
Yeah, a disclaimer. 2Fat2Fly Games does not endorse in any way drinking. We actually would be prominent members of “Temperance League” (https://bit.ly/2ANUFaO) if it would exist anymore. In fact we’re raising money to fund a “Temperance League” revival. In short, if you drink, do it responsible. 🙂
Where can people reach you?
Hopefully, you’ll reach us in the comments section of the Kickstarter page. We’re so close to unlock the next stretch goals, and so many of the existing backers are hoping for it! Don’t dissapoint them please! 🙂