Saturday, November 7, 2015

What Will Mantic Do?

So I have already discussed the issues with the Dungeon Saga kickstarter from missing missions to lack of expected content.  Now it is time for real world discussions.  Currently Mantic is in pretty much hold mode.  I think they got out of head in the sand mode but fixes have not been forth coming.  It is a challenging problem given all the issues.  Here is what I expect to happen.  The basic packing errors will be corrected.  A company that will not send you a card pack when your box did not have the right one will probably not survive.  The overall community is to small and you can only not do such basic things for so long before no one wants to carry your products or deal with you.  While this costs money which is mainly postage if the errors are essentially random opening a few boxes for parts can fill a lot packets pretty quick.  Now a fundamental error could cost more money if you have like 500 boxes who got 2 of card back 2 and none of 3 and another 500 who got the opposite.  Then you probably have to order a special card printing which will be very slow to fix.  While they appear to have no idea who ordered the resin dungeon critters, I expect that they will sort that also but will probably be slow since resin things are not super fast to produce.

I expect the missing missions and books to slowly appear in digital form probably at about the same time the matching expansion is hitting retail.  I also expect that over the next month the digital version of the AC will get cleaned up to fix all the clear typos and some very quick fixes of issues.  The problems here run deeper than that.  I think the best case scenario is a community driven effort led by Jake to give it authority to get the book up to what was promised and if we are super lucky we might get a properly laid out digital rulebook.  But the layout will probably only happen for a second edition and I think the community might be very unhappy if we put in all this work and Mantic prints it up to sell to other people what they promised us in the first place so it will probably be something like the Epic Armageddon compendium as a mainly text passed object with a couple of diagrams.

What I do not expect them to do is actually give me the Hardback Compendium they promised.  Some times as a business you just have to burn customers.  You have to make the decision whether the cost of meeting the expectations is worth it.  I think in this case it probably will not be.  If they could fix it fast they might do something but since they are not going to be able to get what they actually promised done in time to align with reasonable shipment of errors to customers that would mean like 3-4 shipments to some customers which is just not affordable.  I guess the production and shipping cost to them for what they messed up to me would be say about 25 dollars.  They honestly owe me a 200+ full color hardcover rulebook.  The current D&D books retail for about 50 dollars so maybe 12 to make and but then they have the design and layout cost, and pack it and ship them so 25 seems fair.  Now I know that I am worth more as a customer to them than 25 dollars.  Outside the fact that I am very vocal I also buy a lot of stuff over long periods and have collector/hoarder tendencies.  For companies that work on an individual customer level this is sort of something you know so you can find the point to cut the cord so to speak.  But this is a large customer group (relatively speaking) and they really cannot give something to people like me alone so pretty much everyone is getting the same.  Nothing.  It is probably not that hard of a decision.  I doubt Mantic has 100+K sitting a round to fix it.  I would guess any money they made in the project was converted to stock for the upcoming year to get the lowest price on the orders and they are probably left with a pile of AC that are going to be hard to sell.

Another reason I expect nothing is that they seem to have gotten past the point of redemption in some of the customers eyes.  Regardless of what they do those customers are gone so doing anything is wasted money.  This is the fact of the world.  While it would be great if making these games was super profitable and it can be if you make a big hit it is still small money in the scheme of things.  GW has like 15M pounds profit but has like 2000 employees to do it.  Lego has billions in profit.  I have no idea about Mantic but given that they are overwhelmed running projects involving a million dollars of funding they are no where near GW levels.  Maybe I am wrong and Mantic is hiding all out money in Swiss bank accounts but the pile of stuff people got in this kickstarter does not lend me to believe it had high margins.  Given that the latest kickstarter did not include postage I think this one might have only squeezed through with any margin by cheapening the exclusive add ons.    There is profit to be made in the future hence there was a lot more focus on the retail expansion as opposed to the exclusive stuff but that does not help us now.

Mantic will do enough such that it has some cover for Kickstarter complaints and FCC stuff and things to say to possible new customers.  They might let you ship your stuff back, they will eventually get the missing plastic parts sorted, but something like the Hardback Companion missing the Dungeon Journal or Dungeon Journal missing those missions stuff there is no way they did not know of these issues back in June or July before stuff went to the printer.  You just cannot honestly miss that you promised people a book twice what you planned to deliver three times.  While the typos my have been a rush oversight "I thought you did it" type of thing but the quality of the content was so much less than people expected for the Adventurers Journal that they had to know many people would not be happy.  The decision to burn the backers who would not accept a digital version of content promised in print or a very substandard Adventures Companion since the rest of the game stuff is good was made back in June or July.  Such Trolls are not good customers anyway.

Very disappointing but probably the truth.  We will see in a year.  I did a pretty good job predicting the initial outcome here unfortunately when I reviewed the pledge drive and the pledge manager periods.


  1. Everyone in BGG is focused in the AC typos and lack of printing quality. I can understand that and it's a great disappointment. I like beautiful books.

    But what really makes me sad is that the content of the AC is not good in most of the areas. It's sad to accept it, but we all know it. When we will start playing I'm afraid a lot of things will be broken and unbalanced. Uncharted dungeons and Invisible Overlord are a loooooooooong way to be satisfactory.

    The base game is good, ok, but that is not what I was looking for. What I was looking for is something that seems to have revealed as a thing veneer on the main game, which has not had a fraction of the attention it needed to be good. I wish a community effort to make it happen will occur, but I'm not sure why it could happen. Maybe the people really interested in the AC are not that much at the end of the day.

    And by the way, the core box is good, but it's not that great giving that 90% of the work was already in DKH.
    At the end of the day, DS does not add to DKH much more compared to Ancient Grudge, which was a simply a nice but modest expansion, not quite a million dollar KS.

    1. I have already given Jake some pieces of my mind in as about as polite way as I can.

  2. That seems a bit pessimistic though I won't really disagree. As far as I see it there are 4 issues
    1) communication - they failed pure and simple, changing descriptions content and even excuses, even now they won't give clear answers and apparently are heavily editing their face book page, do I think this will change - not really.
    2) Order handling- this is seperate to faulty products, I understand most people only comment if they have problems but there is a lot of mis packed and badly packed orders, will this improve in future - I suspect only if they move to retail packaging for future kickstarters to make both identifying the products and protecting the products for shipping better.
    3) quality control- this involves paying for higher grade production with proper QA and/or RANDOM sample inspect before shipping so mass errors like the doubling of one deck while missing another are avoided . they will always need to over stock for mis packs, but QA would help.
    4) delivering functionality, the base game achieved this the companion falls short (ignoring the fact I purchased a second compendium believing the images). Will mantic fix this- I think there will be some small amends made, but I think jake and the community will make the greatest impact. A good quality wiki, to clarify and expand on rules would help, but it all depends on the community and if there is support from mantic.
    Anyway I think I have over said my piece.

    1. Good to have you visit. I think I have just the job for you on my improvement project, Bookkeeper.

  3. ...and what would that job be?

    I have set up. A wikis, ( so feel free to contribute. I just have to work out where the line in the sand regarding revealing stats and card descriptions is. I figure it will be closer to malifaux where you can not directly give the info rather than infinity where the rules are quoted verbatim.
    I'll try to create some templates to work from over the next few days.

    1. If you so saw my post about A Plan for the AC on BGG. I think your name suggests that you might be just the person for the getting the minion threat levels for the published missions organize by zone and such.

  4. To be fair they have been having many of the same problems since the first kickstarter, KOW years ago.

    1. True, One should not assign sinister deeds when just astounding incompetence explains it also. The only thing I see in their favor is that they had the AC on the preorders so they must have thought it was ready or they would have held it for later and used an expansion as another item.