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Market research, sort of

Jeff Warrender
United States
Averill Park
New York
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As you've probably heard, the world is facing quite a problem related to shipping. Container prices to ship freight from China have gone through the roof and it's hard to get them moving in the first place. That means that at some point in the very near future, the supply of new games is going to go way down or dry up completely.

That presents an interesting problem for designers: even if you can manage to get your game signed, will it ever actually hit these shores? And if/when the container shipping problem resolves, will the publisher still be solvent at the end of it all?

Publishers say that printing in the US is not currently viable, and that's probably true at scale. But as I've said in the past, a 100-copy print run of a game with a modest component manifest could perhaps be viable, if one didn't need to make too much money. And in a year when no one will have games to sell, having actual inventory is a potentially attractive opportunity.

So. I have a few games that feel done or close-to-done and that I think would give players some enjoyment. I could see perhaps investing in a 100-copy POD print run in one of them, if I had good reason to think it would sell through the run.

Which game? That's where you come in. The polls below are intended to see whether any of these have enough demand to warrant such a run.

I've provided below a brief sketch of the candidate games. Of course you'd want more information to actually close the sale, this is just to ascertain preliminary interest in these games. (The poll doesn't have a null response, since all I really need is to know how many "yeses" there are).

The game would have professional (but cheap!) graphic design and illustration, would come in a two-part box, would probably have a cloth board, and would be fully playable without needing additional components. I provide a guesstimate the price point for each one, based on costs of the components they include. Yes, they're "full price" but that's the thing with economies of scale, POD-quality isn't cheaper, it's actually much more expensive because the numbers you're printing are so small. The pricing is pretty close to break-even pricing, for whatever that's worth.

Here are the games I'm considering:

The Acts of the Evangelists, family strategy, 2-5p, 60 min ($45)
The early decades of the Jesus movement were characterized by frenetic evangelistic activity, fueled by the expectation that Christ’s promised return was imminent. As the years have stretched into decades, the realization that this expectation may have been incorrect, combined with the deaths of some of the original witnesses, has necessitated the production of orderly accounts to capture the testimony of the eyewitnesses for posterity. It has fallen to you to compose one of these texts, which history will later come to know as a gospel.

The game takes place in the 1st century. You will travel to various cities of the Roman Empire, gathering traditions about Jesus that Jesus communities in those cities have preserved and interviewing the eyewitnesses to those traditions to improve the credibility of your text. You will try to score well by finding the right combination of eyewitness attestation, literary quality, and thematic resonance of your gospel.
Lost Adventures, family strategy, 2-4p, 60 min (co-design w/Steve Sisk) ($45)
In Lost Adventures, players are characters in an adventure archaeology movie, each hoping to emerge from the editing room as the film’s protagonist. They are racing to acquire a lost artifact, but must contend with the Enemy, which is deploying all its resources to find the artifact for its own nefarious purposes. The game is split into two phases. In the Map phase, they will travel to various cities to gain information about the lost temple in which the artifact resides. Then, in the Temple phase, they will enter the lost temple and use their knowledge to face its perils and tests. They may create temporary advantages by acquiring hubris, but a character with too much hubris will learn the fate of those who vainly seek glory and power, and may realize all too late that some things are better left hidden…
Downhill Racer, family strategy, 2p, 15 min ($25)
Kitzbuhel, Austria, 1968. Grenoble is just weeks away. You stand alone in the starting gate, staring down at the sun’s glint off of the sheet of ice that awaits you below. “Vier.” The countdown begins. You crouch at the gate, ready to throw yourself at full force onto the merciless course. “Drei.” For the next two minutes, you will hurtle down the mountain at speeds that will make even the slightest error deadly, your muscles screaming in protest at the demands you will place on them. “Zwei”. Why do you do this? “Eins.” To be the fastest in the world. What other reason could you need?

In Downhill Racer, two players race down a course composed of course cards. Each card shows a racer’s point of view of one portion of the downhill course. Each card tests one of three skills: turning, gliding, or maintaining good form in a tuck (“tuck” henceforth), represented by these icons, respectively: . You will choose one of the card’s three possible lines, and roll dice to resolve. Choosing, and successfully holding, more aggressive lines enables you to accelerate, increasing your speed, and thus, your score.
Moses and Pharaoh, family strategy, 2p, 30 min ($30)
In this asymmetric game, Moses and Pharaoh clash over the fate of the Israelite people. Pharaoh is relentlessly pursuing the construction of a grand monument, and requires the Hebrew slaves as his workforce. Moses is equally relentless, transformed by an inexplicable encounter with the God of the Hebrews in the wilderness, and now seeks to liberate the slaves by motivating them to flee Egypt. Players enlist the help of influential factions through the support tracks, and Pharaoh must carefully calibrate his defiance against Moses’ God; too little defiance may ease the slaves’ path to freedom, but too much will subject him to the devastating plague cards. The player who best navigates the complex interdependence with his rival will prevail and determine the fate of Egypt!
Santa's Reindeer, light family strategy, 2-5p, 45 min ($30)
You and your opponents will take on the role of reindeer breeders, seeking to earn big bucks (ouch!) by training new deer for Santa’s illustrious team. What’s that you say? Santa’s team already has 8 reindeer? Well, you’re also going to have to create vacancies on the team for your own deer to fill. No, you’re not going to attack Prancer with a baseball bat! This is a family game! Perish the thought! But you will have to present compelling reasons why deer that are currently in the team are unsuitable for service on Santa’s sleigh. And Santa needs things to be pretty simple, so your replacement deer will have to match with the original rhyme scheme. You’d better get started, it’s already December 1!

The game is played over a series of rounds, with each round consisting of 6 phases. In the first phase, you and the other players will add a new deer to your reindeer field. Then, you and your opponents will play “action cards”, which do one of three things: present a compelling reason why a deer should be removed from Santa’s team, or provide a reason why the deer should not be removed, or modify the deer in your field. After this is complete, deer are removed from the team, and you and the other players will propose replacements for the removed deer. The fastest deer get the spot (but in the event of inclement weather, only deer that come in below the speed limit can make the team), and you will receive points for deer that you place in the team this turn, as well as for deer that you have placed onto the team in previous turns. The game ends when one breeder accumulates 25 points, and the player with the highest score is the champion reindeer breeder!
Collusion, negotiation/advanced strategy, 4-5p, 2-3hrs ($65)
Collusion takes place in a kingdom in which baronies struggle to expand, factions vie for power, and influential personages hatch schemes and attempt to secure control of the baronies. As one of these personages, you will propose actions to advance your position, but will depend on the support and votes of your opponents to achieve your goals and gain baronial control. Take advantage of shared alignments with your opponents, form marriage alliances, or bribe them, to secure their support so that you will emerge victorious!

Now for the poll. Note that my intent is to ship only within the U.S. But if there's enough demand outside the U.S. I'd certainly consider trying to find a solution for that. So please, if any of these are of interest, answer according to your location.

And again, this is to assess general interest, so you're not making an ironclad commitment, but on the other hand please don't click "I'd buy this!" just to boost my ego, either!

Thanks for your input!

Interest in these games
  I'd buy this! (US) I might buy this (US) I'd buy this! (Europe) I might buy this (Europe) I'd buy this! (Canada) I might buy this (Canada) I'd buy this! (elsewhere) I might buy this (elsewhere)
Acts of the Evangelists ($45)
Lost Adventures ($45)
Downhill Racer ($25)
Moses and Pharaoh ($30)
Santa's Reindeer ($30)
Collusion ($65)
      24 answers
Poll created by jwarrend
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