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Jason Vicente

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I received my Kickstarter copy of Wizard's Academy this past weekend. It was 3 months late, but remained the most anticipated game of the forty I've backed on Kickstarter. I was tingling with excitement as I cut through the tape that sealed the box. My excitement quickly transformed to disappointment, then rage. The Kickstarter offered upgraded minis to "high quality resin minis" at the cost of 4 pounds per mini for 41 minis (around $6 at the time) That is 160 pounds for the upgrade. 22 backers pledged at this level. The total pledge was $235. The opened box reveal minis individually wrapped in plastic pouches instead of being packed in the safety of a box. Over a dozen of these minis were severely damaged mostly smashed and bent beyond repair. I uploaded images of the damaged minis to share with the community - after all a picture is worth a thousand words - unfortunately the submissions were declined. If one checks the comments section of the Wizard's Academy Kickstarter one will find other backers expressing similar complaints. Now it should be noted that the publisher has offered to replace the damaged minis, though I've yet to hear back about mine. That said, my issue extends beyond the publisher's poor packing choices. Considering the $235 price tag I expected Cool Mini or Not quality minis. Not so. Here, many of the minis were no larger than a fingernail - again the image of me holding 7 minis to show how they could not cover half of my palm was declined. Another rejected image compared these minis with those from the Cool Mini or Not Kickstarter for Zombicide: Black Plague. Zombicide offered 102 truly high quality minis with great detail for $150 (less than $1.50 each) while $235 with Wizard's Academy got you 41 plastic and 41 resin minis with poor detail at best. The designer and I exchanged emails after the campaign discussing my expectations. He assured me they would be met. They haven't. I have, to date, backed 42 Kickstarter projects, but unequivocally state I will never back nor purchase anything from 3DTotal Games again and will only back Kickstarter campaigns from proven publishers like Cool Mini or Not in the future.
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C&H Schmidt
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Re: Anyone else upset with the quality, or lack there of the minis provided in this Kickstarter campaign?
I only bought the standard game with the standard plastic minis and I am happy with them; I think they're nice. Yes, small, but detailed, and good sculpts.
But then, I didn't buy the game for the minis, but for the game.

Did you try asking to get a refund for the resin minis?
Then you'd still be left with the ordinary ones and a really fun, creative, as well as overall well-produced (very nice boards, nice box, nice insert, nice tiles) game for a perfectly reasonable price, instead of an expensive disappointment.

Edit: The only complaints I can see in the Kickstarter comments are about minis being destroyed, not their quality. So I'm not sure how many other backers are actually unhappy with that. Clearly broken ones should be replaced and the creator seems to be doing that right now.
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Max Maloney
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Portland
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Re: Anyone else upset with the quality of, or lack there o,f the minis provided in this Kickstarter campaign?
Jaysvice wrote:
That said, my issue extends beyond the publisher's poor packing choices. Considering the $235 price tag I expected Cool Mini or Not quality minis. Not so. Here, many of the minis were no larger than a fingernail - again the image of me holding 7 minis to show how they could not cover half of my palm was declined.

Your post indicates that you didn't really think through what you were backing. Why would you expect a small company run by one person to be equivalent to CMON? The big issue here will be price/value. There is no way Greg Carslaw can run a campaign with the total pledged here and deliver something equivalent to the massively-funded, massively-produced CMON projects. You will have to pay more. That's simple reality.

Quote:
Zombicide offered 102 truly high quality minis with great detail for $150 (less than $1.50 each) while $235 with Wizard's Academy got you 41 plastic and 41 resin minis with poor detail at best.

Again, the main issue here is value. It may seem like the minis are more expensive and smaller, but this is really the same issue. For 3DTotal to produce minis the size of Zombicide would have made the game even more expensive. They compromised on size to lower costs, but can never compete with a large company's margins.

I don't agree with you that the detail on the minis is poor (at least, not the plastic ones; I didn't get resin).
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Will Martin
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Re: Anyone else upset with the quality of, or lack there o,f the minis provided in this Kickstarter campaign?
Dormammu wrote:
Jaysvice wrote:
That said, my issue extends beyond the publisher's poor packing choices. Considering the $235 price tag I expected Cool Mini or Not quality minis. Not so. Here, many of the minis were no larger than a fingernail - again the image of me holding 7 minis to show how they could not cover half of my palm was declined.

Your post indicates that you didn't really think through what you were backing. Why would you expect a small company run by one person to be equivalent to CMON? The big issue here will be price/value. There is no way Greg Carslaw can run a campaign with the total pledged here and deliver something equivalent to the massively-funded, massively-produced CMON projects. You will have to pay more. That's simple reality.

Quote:
Zombicide offered 102 truly high quality minis with great detail for $150 (less than $1.50 each) while $235 with Wizard's Academy got you 41 plastic and 41 resin minis with poor detail at best.

Again, the main issue here is value. It may seem like the minis are more expensive and smaller, but this is really the same issue. For 3DTotal to produce minis the size of Zombicide would have made the game even more expensive. They compromised on size to lower costs, but can never compete with a large company's margins.

I don't agree with you that the detail on the minis is poor (at least, not the plastic ones; I didn't get resin).


Was the size actually discussed on the kickstarter? Of the minis I mean. I'm just curious.
 
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Rick Vinyard
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Re: Anyone else upset with the quality of, or lack there o,f the minis provided in this Kickstarter campaign?
Dormammu wrote:
I don't agree with you that the detail on the minis is poor (at least, not the plastic ones; I didn't get resin).

I got the resin heroes only. The detail isn't much more than the plastic because they're so small. They seem a lot smaller than 25mm... maybe 20mm or so.

I was mainly disappointed because the work they did on the mini design was pretty good. I wish they had gone with 28mm or 32mm.
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Jason Vicente

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Dormammu wrote:
Jaysvice wrote:
That said, my issue extends beyond the publisher's poor packing choices. Considering the $235 price tag I expected Cool Mini or Not quality minis. Not so. Here, many of the minis were no larger than a fingernail - again the image of me holding 7 minis to show how they could not cover half of my palm was declined.

Your post indicates that you didn't really think through what you were backing. Why would you expect a small company run by one person to be equivalent to CMON? The big issue here will be price/value. There is no way Greg Carslaw can run a campaign with the total pledged here and deliver something equivalent to the massively-funded, massively-produced CMON projects. You will have to pay more. That's simple reality.

Quote:
Zombicide offered 102 truly high quality minis with great detail for $150 (less than $1.50 each) while $235 with Wizard's Academy got you 41 plastic and 41 resin minis with poor detail at best.

Again, the main issue here is value. It may seem like the minis are more expensive and smaller, but this is really the same issue. For 3DTotal to produce minis the size of Zombicide would have made the game even more expensive. They compromised on size to lower costs, but can never compete with a large company's margins.

I don't agree with you that the detail on the minis is poor (at least, not the plastic ones; I didn't get resin).


Your rationale appears somewhat sound and I do understand that CMON has the power to negotiate better pricing than smaller companies. Nonetheless, the disparity here is quite large - 3Dtoal Games charged 200% more per mini than CMON. Do you want me to believe that CMON has that sort of power? How would the manufacturer make a profit offering 67% discount? With the exception of Level 7 Omega Protocol that came with the worst minis I've encountered many other companies including small ones produce games with better and more numerous minis at far less the cost. Regardless of your rationale 3Dtotal games and I had the following exchange on Kickstarter:

"3DTotalGames
3DTotalGames
Apr 15 2015
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Hi Jason,

I’m writing to you to welcome you to the Wizard’s Academy Kickstarter and to thank you for backing This is the final week of the campaign so it’s a really exciting time to be involved! I’d like to let you know about a couple of things that you could do to get involved and to ask you a couple of questions – if you prefer to back a project and stay out of things until your game arrives no worries, the questions are optional, you’ve already done enough just by backing – but the last few days are always hectic so if you’re able to jump in then we’d welcome your support!

Today’s update focused on getting ready for the final push! It’s a long one so to give a quick summary: We’re looking for people to write short paragraphs about their experience of having played the game or to take photos or videos of botched spell effects in real life. This is an opportunity to cut loose and be creative so that when we share the project in the last few days we’ve got something really interesting to show, rather than just spamming “please back” in a way that makes nobodies lives better. If you’ve got time to contribute something please email me or stick it on our facebook:
Email greg@3dtotal.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wizardsacademy

So, I mentioned something about questions a moment ago, I’ve been asking everyone who backs the same two questions. They’re aimed at improving the campaign and the game itself and so far some really genuinely positive things have come out of it

What got you excited about Wizard’s Academy to the point that you decided to back it?
Is there anything that I could do in order to make backing the project more rewarding for you?

Thanks for backing and for taking the time to read this

-Greg

Jaysvice
Jaysvice
Apr 15 2015
As to your first question the game title immediately caught my eye because of the theme. However, the pledges seemed pretty steep, the delivery date quite remote and the gaming community's initial interest flaccid. I starred the project keeping up with it for a couple of weeks before deciding to back Wizards of the Wild instead, which appeared more family friendly and reasonably priced. I deleted the star figuring that backing your project simply did not make sense. Recently, I subscribed to the Youtube channels for the Dicetower and NVS Gameplays. Each has a weekly video "Board Game Breakfast" and "Here's the Kicker" that include information about games on Kickstarter. Both also discussed your project and persuaded me to take a second look. I then watched game play run throughs by Rahdo and Box of Delights demonstrating the fascinating game mechanics and tremendous potential for replayability convincing me to back your project. Then it simply became a matter of what level to pledge. The thought of getting only some high end miniatures instead all of the characters you offered cause a great deal of internal turmoil. Despite the high price of getting all the figures in the high quality resin finish, I knew that if I only obtained the heroes in high resin it would fill me with regret when fielding the other characters. So I decided that this game would be my one indulgence this Spring.

As to your second question - simply make sure you deliver the quality game experience with highest quality game components possible so when the box is opened next Spring and the game shared with my family I can say it was money well spent.

3DTotalGames
3DTotalGames
Apr 16 2015
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Hi Jason,

Thank you for making our game your one indulgence, we'll do everything we can to make that a good decision The delivery may be remote because we've based it on how long it took us to deliver our last project and there was some unexpected delays there - we considered that an earlier date might lead to more backers but felt that it was best to try to be as honest as possible and if there were unexpected delays last time it could happen again.

I'll keep everyone updated on manufacturing and shipping and such throughout the project, don't hesitate to get in touch if you've any comments or questions about how that process goes.

-Greg"

Now Greg seems like a nice enough fellow - and this isn't personal. It's business. Perhaps instead of promising to meet my expectations he should have managed them. Then this entry would never have been posted. I do not think that expecting a @235 game is unreasonable when one pays $235. Even with the "high quality resin minis" this is a $50 to %60 game at best and my ire would not have risen if it cost me $75, but $235 is ridiculous - in fact, damn near scandalous. This was not money well spent. But I have learned my lesson. I'm not interested in a refund or any other remediation. I'm satisfied to share my experience with you and prominently display this game in my collection of nearly 600 games. It will be front and center to remind me of my own foolishness so I will never back such a game again. It will be there so when company comes over and asks about it I can explain while showing them the components how their shoddiness shook my confidence in small independent game developers. It is there so my wife - who was shocked at the poor quality of the game - can remind me every time I have the Kickstarter itch that it is not worth scratching. So yes, I should have known better ... and now I do.
 
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Jason Vicente

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rvinyard wrote:
Dormammu wrote:
I don't agree with you that the detail on the minis is poor (at least, not the plastic ones; I didn't get resin).

I got the resin heroes only. The detail isn't much more than the plastic because they're so small. They seem a lot smaller than 25mm... maybe 20mm or so.

I was mainly disappointed because the work they did on the mini design was pretty good. I wish they had gone with 28mm or 32mm.


You're preaching to the choir! Amen.
 
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Greg
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I'm sorry that you've had a bad experience of this

Of course we're happy to send out replacement minis, we've already done so for a bunch of people and I'm sorting out the next batch today.

I think that if you want to put images on BGG they generally accept images of the game as intended. If your intention is to make sure other people aren't disappointed by the size of the models then I'd suggest taking a photo of intact models on the game board alongside the other components (for scale) and uploading that. That'd do a greater service to people who are going to be put off by that and would be more likely to be accepted by the geekmod process.

With respect to manufacturing prices it's not an issue of negotiating power so much as it's an issue of scale. At the small ends the difference in price per unit between print runs is massive for relatively small numbers. We had under 10% of Zombicide's total budget and we delivered about 80% of the quantity of models at 80% of size. That's about in line with what you'd expect from economies of scale. Whatever you think of how things turned out, there's no theft here, every penny of the KS went into the game and at this moment we're a little over £10,000 worse off for having made it.

However I acknowledge that it doesn't change anything from your point of view. Ultimately you pay less and get more with huge projects and I can't imagine that changing. Only joining that sort of project is a viable strategy for getting the most stuff by volume. Personally I like to support things that let me know that it wouldn't have got made without me or things that look like they're doing something interesting mechanically, but those are intangibles and that's never going to be everyone's priority.

I am pretty upset with the manufacturer about the quality of some things, but the minis weren't one of them. I felt that they had a very high level of detail. I suppose this is subjective, two people can look at the same mini and have different opinions. For me, the painting projects I've seen (some of which are in the gallery) show tiny details being highlighted really well.

With your expectations message it seemed like the thing that changed your mind about backing was reviewers talking about the game itself. Have you had a chance to play it? It could be that carrying the disappointment of the minis into that experience it's not going to work, but then again, perhaps not.

All of the features that made the reviewers say those things that changed your mind in the first place are still there - those reviews were based on prototypes with basic printing on cheap cardboard counters rather than minis. Heck a lot of those features were expanded during the campaign.

I know that it won't make up for how you felt when you opened the box and it's not going to magically going to make the minis bigger or more detailed, but your enthusiasm really spoke to me and I really do hope that you walk away from the campaign with at least some positive experiences to show for it.
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Jason Vicente

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x_equals_speed wrote:
I'm sorry that you've had a bad experience of this

Of course we're happy to send out replacement minis, we've already done so for a bunch of people and I'm sorting out the next batch today.

I think that if you want to put images on BGG they generally accept images of the game as intended. If your intention is to make sure other people aren't disappointed by the size of the models then I'd suggest taking a photo of intact models on the game board alongside the other components (for scale) and uploading that. That'd do a greater service to people who are going to be put off by that and would be more likely to be accepted by the geekmod process.

With respect to manufacturing prices it's not an issue of negotiating power so much as it's an issue of scale. At the small ends the difference in price per unit between print runs is massive for relatively small numbers. We had under 10% of Zombicide's total budget and we delivered about 80% of the quantity of models at 80% of size. That's about in line with what you'd expect from economies of scale. Whatever you think of how things turned out, there's no theft here, every penny of the KS went into the game and at this moment we're a little over £10,000 worse off for having made it.

However I acknowledge that it doesn't change anything from your point of view. Ultimately you pay less and get more with huge projects and I can't imagine that changing. Only joining that sort of project is a viable strategy for getting the most stuff by volume. Personally I like to support things that let me know that it wouldn't have got made without me or things that look like they're doing something interesting mechanically, but those are intangibles and that's never going to be everyone's priority.

I am pretty upset with the manufacturer about the quality of some things, but the minis weren't one of them. I felt that they had a very high level of detail. I suppose this is subjective, two people can look at the same mini and have different opinions. For me, the painting projects I've seen (some of which are in the gallery) show tiny details being highlighted really well.

With your expectations message it seemed like the thing that changed your mind about backing was reviewers talking about the game itself. Have you had a chance to play it? It could be that carrying the disappointment of the minis into that experience it's not going to work, but then again, perhaps not.

All of the features that made the reviewers say those things that changed your mind in the first place are still there - those reviews were based on prototypes with basic printing on cheap cardboard counters rather than minis. Heck a lot of those features were expanded during the campaign.

I know that it won't make up for how you felt when you opened the box and it's not going to magically going to make the minis bigger or more detailed, but your enthusiasm really spoke to me and I really do hope that you walk away from the campaign with at least some positive experiences to show for it.


Thank you for taking the time to address my disappointment. Scripture says that a soft answer turns away wrath and your well tempered and measured response has disarmed me. It appears you understand my perspective and I certainly appreciate yours. It must be difficult to receive criticism from someone who has never published a game targeting the baby that gestated in your brain for years for which you suffered much pain to give birth. I'm sensitive to that, but I've never paid $235 for a game and the weight of that number comes with high expectations as I stated in our previous email exchange. Yes, the game playthroughs by Rahdo, icurnvs and Ricky Royal gave me high hopes showing innovative mechanics combined with great theme. But I didn't want her to be just a good or great game but a beautiful one as well. When displayed on the gaming table I wanted folks to ooh and ahh and ask how they could obtain such a game. Perhaps that's too much pressure to put on a game- but $235! For that amount I could have purchased some of this year's hottest games including Cry Havoc, King of New York: Power Up!, Last Friday, Mystic Vale, and Star Trek: Ascendancy for less than $235 from Cool Stuff Inc. combined.

As one of my critics stated though, I should have known better. Nonetheless, I appreciate the class with which you have handled my tirade. Thanks.
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Greg
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Hey no problem and on the scale of internet tirades yours was pretty polite too

I think that with Kickstarter as you put more money into a single project you get diminishing returns. Looking at the first Zombicide campaign you got the game for $75 and the game plus one promo for $100. I think it's unimaginable that when you play the $100 version that one promo survivor accounts for 25% of your enjoyment of the game, but it does account for 25% of the cost.

I'm not picking on Zombicide here, it's just an example of a general trend that you see all in any big project. I reckon there's a lot of factors keying in to that, particularly prominent is the fear of not many people wanting a higher tier. Models are awful in that it costs something around ~$1000 for the first one and then $0.02 for each one after that. If you know you've got 10,000 customers you can sell them for pennies, but if you might only have 10 you need to make sure that won't torpedo the project as a whole.

It'd be neat if Kickstarter had the ability to create a sliding pledge level that reduced in cost as more people backed it, but instead they've got the "You can't edit a pledge level in any way if it has any backers" system.

Anyway, I'm digressing, the point I was driving towards is this:

If you play Wizard's Academy and enjoy the gameplay and think that you would have been delighted if you'd backed at the base £50 level, but are disappointed with the extra that you got for backing at the higher level then maybe the take away lesson is that it'll suit your preferences more to back five projects at the base pledge rather than one at the highest?

Reading that you're not going to support any indie games in the future because of me makes me sad. I feel like I might've helped to undermine something innovative that'd have been great (if rough around the edges) Also that I might have pushed you away from something that you'd have really enjoyed. I've got no skin in the game, because it doesn't seem like you're going to want to go for one of my projects again and that's okay, but I don't want to drive you out of this part of gaming. There's some really special stuff here.
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Andrew Riley
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Jaysvice wrote:
...the delivery date quite remote...
I just wanted to pick up on this one. I think a lot of KS over promise on delivery times, miniatures ones in particular. I think the delivery schedule wasn't too different to most miniature games, Mantic's Dreadball 2 is just about to close with a delivery date of July next year so the same roughly a year timescale and I think we can all agree Mantic have a slight edge in experience and economies of scale.

Around the same time as I backed Wizards Academy I also looked into Middara. In the end I decided the Middara game wasn't one that would get played at home so I just put a $1 in to show some support. They were also a company producing their first miniatures game with an almost identical timeline to WA, but significantly more KS support and outside backers. As of Middara's last KS update this morning, they're expecting to be able to provide "an approximate date for miniature samples" next week. So I think WA and 3DTotal have done pretty well in comparison.
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John Bua
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My resin minis came smashed beyond replair. They were just tossed into the box with no securing. Even if I could repair them, why? I paid a lot or money for them.

So Gregg was nice and quickly sent me a replacement pack of the minis.

They came in a plastic bag and are also smashed beyond repair.

At this point I say forget it. They are so tiny and fragile that they are not worth the money. I asked for a refund to change my pledge to the base game.

I am really disappointed and will not back any more projects from this company in the future. I will wait for their stuff to be in the stores before making up my mind.
 
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Greg
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I'm really frustrated by the problems we've had in shipping the minis. Of course I'll arrange for you to be refunded.

I think that given the problems we've had with shipping any future project by 3DTotal is going to need to display what we've learned from our experiences and how we've applied it (possibly in changing shipping companies or practices) and people can make their mind up based on that.
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Miguel
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Just wanted to jump in as a person who has not backed, but is just now finding out about the game and interested in it and found myself reading this thread.

I wanted to say "wow" and "kudos" to the publisher and OP. This exchange could have gone so many ways, but it is so refreshing to see such a well thought out answer, and then... Gasp... A reasonable reply from the OP! If only the Internet could be like this more of the time.

Anyway, thanks and I hope to be able to try this game someday soon.
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John Bua
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I would like to say that Gregg had been super great, patient and professional. He fix everything for me and my love for this game is sky high.
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Greg
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Thank you, both for being understanding about the situation and for your kind words
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