In the Company of Dreamers

two different catan boards

Followers of this blog may already be aware of a couple of great Kickstarter projects going on right now. One is by Nathan of Outloud Imaginations and the other is by Bill Trammel and Nate Veldkamp. They have both created boards that solve the problem of Catan tiles that shift around. Their campaigns are at Handcrafted Settlers Gaming Board & Storage and Official Settlers of and Catan Gaming Board respectively.

Nathan’s Handcrafted storage / playing surface is quite elegant. I dig the use of wood, the bold stain, and the convenience of keeping all the components housed within the base. Since seeing their great platform, I’ve been daydreaming about how nice the Boardcrafting Catan tiles would look inside it.

Bill and Nate, in what I’m sure was no easy feat, have achieved “Official” status with their board. The folks at Mayfair and Catan GmbH have put their seal of approval on the creation. And I’m also very impressed at how they were able to get such a low price point, making the board available to an extremely broad market. I also dig the commitment to support all the possible board layouts, even gargantuan Seafarer’s configurations.

This community is making strides. I am excited. With each of these new projects, the market grows, people start talking, and ideas and inspiration are seeded in the minds of both creators and players.

Beyond these current Kickstarter projects, there are a couple other creators I’m keeping an eye on.

Bob Schremmp is working on a laser-cut Catan board. I’m excited to see it come together. Bob obviously has some skills at crafting wood. [Update: Bob’s boards are on sale here]

Lyris Laser Studio, launched by Barry Figgins (via Kickstarter earlier this year) has accessories for more than just Catan. Citadels, Descent, Munchkin, there are many accessories here for popular games. Barry, you have vision.

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FAQs and Feedbacks

screenshot from Inkscape editing program of Dominion Caddy design
As I write this, it is 16 days into my Kickstarter campaign for the Dominion Caddy and I have 14 days to go. Just crossed the halfway point.

It’s a challenge sometimes, putting myself out there. This is a very personal project and even though I’ve done a Kickstarter campaign before and submitted my art to public scrutiny, I don’t know if it’s gotten any easier. I’m getting a lot of awesome backers (the count is now at 83) and it truly feels like they’ve got my back. But I’ve also been greeted with some questions and critique.

They are legitimate questions, and the feedback is very valuable because what I’m doing is not just art, but also a product launch. Products must address the needs of a market. If people didn’t tell me what they need, I wouldn’t be able to help them – to create a solution they’d want. For me, it is an exercise in putting ego aside (even when the critiques are delivered in less-than-friendly language) to objectively gather data.

Here’s the summary of what I’ve gathered, people are asking for a caddy that:

  • works with various sleeve brands
  • organizes the extra decks: Curses, Platinum, Colony, …
  • handles larger decks (ie, Rats with 20 cards, Curses with 10-50 cards, …)
  • works with cards from other games (Standard playing cards, Trains, Catan, Tanto Cuore)

So what shall I do with this data? I’ll add some new rewards to the Kickstarter campaign.

Judging by how long it takes me to design and prototype, I won’t be able to offer these new rewards for Christmas delivery, which really is unfortunate, but I have to commit to quality first. I learned that lesson last time. Because of the complexity of this reward, I’m going to give myself a couple months to design, prototype, and iterate and delivery will be in March.

Primarily, I’m going to add a choose-your-own-adventure style reward for $75. This is somewhere between a commission job and the Felt-bottomed Etched Dominion Caddy. I’m going to let backers toggle any one of the following options:

  • Felt bottom
  • 10 or 12 slots
  • square or rounded slot corners
  • slot width: regular / sleeved (63mm) / other (request custom width)
  • regular or double height (double height will comfortably fit 36-card decks)

Also, I’m going to offer a digital reward. $25 for a copy of the digital source files for all the Caddy designs and exclusivity on those files for 6 months (I won’t make them available for anyone but backers during that period) and access to any future updates to those designs that come out. (License will be CC-By-NC)

Hopefully these new rewards will satisfy people that have critiqued the project and give the campaign a boost. Please check out the campaign with the new rewards at Kickstarter. If you’d like to help me out, but can’t back the campaign, I’d really appreciate if you could pass on the link to any friends who might be into it.

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If it fits, it ships.

It really sucks that shipping to Canada costs so much (about $30 USD). So I started searching around to see if I could do better. I found that there were “legal size” Priority Mail envelopes from the USPS that weren’t stocked in my local USPS branch. I sent away for some, and just tested them, and they fit! So now I’ll be able to offer $10 shipping to Canada, rather than $30.

Posted in Dominion Caddy, Product | 3 Comments

Kickstarter Campaign Launched: Dominion Caddy

Hands holding laser-etched Dominion caddy with felt backing
Last week I launched a new Kickstarter Campaign. This time the product is the Dominion Caddy I’ve blogged about before.

As can be seen from my previous post, there were a lot of people who requested Dominion be the project I work on after Catan. It wasn’t the winner of the poll, but I am more a fan of Dominion than Ticket To Ride. Also, I wanted to create a product that could hit lower price points, like $20-50.

Kickstarter campaigns are exciting times. I got a flood of pledges in the first 2 days, and am beyond the halfway point with 23 days left to go. But looking at the graph, I’m still a bit uncertain if the goal will be met. The line of the pledge rate will only just barely reach $5000 if things keep going as they are. Marketing and publicity is something that doesn’t come naturally for me, but I’m trying to flex those muscles on Facebook, Twitter, other social media, and real-life board game meetups.

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Boardcrafting Top 40, Playing the Hits

bar graph showing high amounts of requests for Carcassonne, Catan, and Dominion

At the close of last year’s Kickstarter campaign, I asked all my backers what they’d like to see as my next board game project.

The responses showed some clear preferences. Carcassone is out in the lead by a wide margin. Further expansions and accessories for Settlers of Catan comes next, and after that is Dominion.

I thought this was interesting comparing this data (which comes from a very select audience) to the BoardGameGeek and the /r/boardgames top scorers.

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Dominion Caddy Prototypes

Dominion Caddy with Dominion cards inside it
I’ve just finished putting together a gallery of images for the prototypes I’ve made of my Dominion Caddy. Massive props to Kiersten for awesome photog skills.

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Blair Nisley’s Custom 5-6 Player Catan Board

Blair got a Kit of my Boardcrafting tiles and did a pretty sweet paintjob (see closeup here). He reports there’s a technique to painting:

I did do some experimeting and the best way to paint these is to leave the masking on them, paint them, then remove the masking, then do a light final sanding of 400 grit paper.

Blair also did a really excellent modification to the tiles – he loaded them with magnets so that they all snap together and stay together.

The magnets were 2mm diameter x 1mm deep magents off of ebay. I made a jig to drill a hole in each edges of each piece that was 1mm deep. I then stuck a dab of super glue in each hole and pressed each magnet into each edge making sure I had a + – + – + – polarity around the piece so that each piece would have an opposite polairy to the one next to it, or if it didnt fit, you could just rotate it and then it would fit. The magnets are strong enough so that if you pull on a tile, all the other tiles will go with it

What an amazing effort. Thanks, Blair!

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Jared Nichol’s Boardcrafting Action Shots

Jared's Custom Settlers of Catan Board and Box
Jared has been working diligently this year on using the Boardcrafting vector source files to make his own boards. He recently sent me some photos of the results. You can see he’s using birch that is a little thicker than the stuff I use, 4mm instead of 3mm. The stain is a semi gloss. He even made a custom box to store all the components.

Looks great, Jared! Can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

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Video of a custom color Catan set

The guys over at Signs for Success used some Boardcrafting vector art (for sale here) and a lot of their own expertise and ingenuity to create some great custom, full-color, wooden Settlers of Catan boards. It looks like they were made to be gifts to groomsmen at a wedding. I feel pretty honoured to be partly supplying the means for such things to happen.

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Prototyping a Laser-Cut Catan Water Tile

laser cut water tiles for catan
I used up some of the scrap wood I had lying around today. After having a lot of fun playing around with tesselated patterns in Inkscape (Edit->Clone->Create Tiled Clones) I tried some of them out on the laser cutter.

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