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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Lessons Learned Ever?

"What gaming-related decision have you made over the last year or two which you wish you had made differently? Why?"

Like some of our other columnists, it seems wise to just start with a list of the bigger game-related decisions I’ve made in the past year or two. I’ve got an idea already of the one I regret the most, but here are some sketch notes. There are plenty of little ones, like not being able to get in either game of Die Macher our group has done this year (sniff), but those are for another day.

Top Ten Bigger Decisions
1. Start SunRiver Games
Like Chris, no regrets at all. We may not print as many games as we
want to, but that’s part of making use of the time and resources we have.
2. Publish Havoc as our first game.
No regrets. Havoc was an affordable first step into publishing. The
Havoc expansion is now out on Boardgamegeek as well now!
3. Hand assemble Havoc
This took ‘way more time and effort than we thought – probably wouldn’t
do this again except for much smaller print runs. And it’s dangerous!
4. Make Havoc “exclusive”
Debatable, but at the time it happened, no distributors or other outlets would
even talk to us about carrying our first game.
5. Import hundreds of games from Germany
Aha, this is my crown jewel lump of coal. More below.
6. Go to Dragonflight
It was fun to be an invited guest, and even though the location was funky
the people were great and I got lots of playtests done.
7. Go to Essen
No regrets at all. Fabulous company, got to meet my German friends
face to face, got to meet famous game folks, Havoc did well. All good.
8. Go to Boardgamegeek.con
Was not successful from a company standpoint, but Rita got to go, we got
to meet the Ginn family, Nick Danger (!) and some other great folks.
9. Not go to Sunriver (several)
Many regrets, but in almost every case something had come up at home or
at work that prevented me going. But missing my favorite retreat is tough.
10. Not go to PowWow
Some regrets, since this is a conference for game designers to play prototypes
and get feedback. Expensive to get to from here, but I’ll hope to go someday.

Why Did I Think Importing Would Be Fun?
So I won’t go into all the history here since I’ve ranted it out before. The short version is I brought about 200 games home from a friend’s house in Germany when I went to Essen. This is the big decision I regret the most I figure, in terms of “not being worth the hassle.” Where I though I’d be able to get rid of enough of these games to pay for the others and the shipping from Europe, it turns out not to be.

First, the work required to sell them on Ebay is not bad if I’m selling 5 games or less, but selling hundreds? Yuk. Selling on Boardgamegeek is easier, but still requires careful checking of the games beforehand; I hate giving or receiving games that are incomplete and I didn’t know that up front. And some of the games in this 200 lot are incomplete, although they were sold as complete. Grrr.

Second, pricing is also problematic. Games I bought that weren’t reprinted at the time (like Kohle, Kie$ & Knete / I’m the Boss) are now worth less than I paid for them. Heavy games like Carabande cost so much in shipping that their sale value is potentially less than I paid with shipping figured in. So I’ve got a bunch of games that I should donate to conferences, give to friends, etc since they’re not going to sell for what they cost.

A few good things did come from this – I got some games I’ve been dying for, like the original Roads and Boats, Tal der Konige, Schmidt Spiel Acquire, some other grail games. But overall, I wouldn’t do it again.

A Related Lesson
So recently I did a much smaller purchase on German Ebay, partly to see if it worked any better. I asked my German friend Norbert to just pack the games in one big box and send them over (they were sent to his house first). I got: Carabande (original), El Grande (German version), Acquire (Schmidt Spiele), Kula Kula (original Edition Perlhuhn), Waldmeister (Andreas Seyfarth), Foil (3M Butterbox), Venture (3M Butterbox) and Bongo (sealed, Bruno Faidutti). This worked a tiny bit better overall, and the big box was 62 Euros to ship, or about $10 per game, ($20 for Carabande).

While in auctions it’s sometimes good to buy more than one thing from the same seller, that’s not true for importing. I got Kula Kula, Waldmeister and Bongo for good prices, but didn’t really “want them.” So after paying shipping, they’re not bargains any more.

It looks to me like what works are the large group-orders, say from Adam-Spielt, or other group orders where I just get what I want and pay a share of shipping. Buying single games from Germany – too expensive. And importing games I don’t really want? Dumb. Oh, these harsh lessons …


  • At 12:38 PM, Blogger dave said…


    I was expecting your answer to be "inflicting the Base Camp Delta prototype on the group a second time". ;->

  • At 12:37 PM, Blogger KC said…

    Heh. What amazes me is that you guys let yourself be talked into trying it a third time (!) after some fixes with the feedback from play #2. =)


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