Last year I backed the Games and Gears Battle Board Kickstarter. At the time, the estimated turnaround to get backers their boards was expected to be around May (so I figured it would be summer, at the latest). I was looking forward to getting a detailed gaming surface which I could use for playing Warhammer/Warhammer 40,000 on, much cheaper than the comparatively bland Realm of Battle board by Games Workshop.
I built a table to support the board, made some scenery to play with, and then… waited. By this time I’d found an interest in Dropzone Commander, so I ordered an extra, small version of their speciality board for playing that on.
In Mid-May, Mother Nature happened – a big flood hit the factory where the boards were being produced, and understandably delaying the project. No bother, G&G were still saying we’d have our boards in July, which fit right in with my “summer” estimate. Only, it didn’t happen.
Update after update followed, and the shipping date slipped. Then it slipped again. And again. Sometimes with no acknowledgement until after the fact. In the end, G&G stopped trying to give us estimated shipping dates. The main reason given seemed to be “we haven’t been able to take any good pictures of the boards yet.” What the heck did that have to do with getting the product into the hands of backers?
Then we had a revelation: the entire product had been redone. Redesigned, remade, and repainted. This was why things had taken so much longer than had been said at the time of the delay. If this had been communicated early, when the dates started slipping, with an explanation as to why it was being done, then I guess I would have welcomed the upgrade to what I had ordered. Instead, I was annoyed.
And so we come to today. The first batch of boards are being loaded onto a ship in China. From there it will be roughly 30 days at sea, then a week or so to sort them out and deliver when they get to the UK. Great. Only they’re shipping them in batches by theme – and the theme I ordered is last. The current hope for that one is end of February. So I might see it by April, along with my extra board?
I know this is all part of the risk of Kickstarter projects, and to be fair, the Games & Gears team have had some to deal with a situation you can’t really plan for, and have no doubt learned a lot and would do many things differently if they could. Hindsight is 20/20, after all. I’ll get my board one day, but the excitement in the anticipation of it has gone. I don’t want to bash them too much for what’s happened, due to the nature of the disaster, but I’ll be very reluctant to consider backing any of their future Kickstarter projects.