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Subject: Elephant in the room (or How I stopped worrying about supposedly beating the proverbial dead horse) rss

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Note: I typically don't like controversial posts, but in my opinion there is an elephant in the room and I think an answer is deserved. I also stand ready for any attacks that might result against me for speaking my mind.

So most (should) already know what happened with the 2e of Indonesia - the wooden pieces supplied are abnormally big and bare fit on the board and in the box. To sum it up in Splotter's own words,

Quote:
Yes, they turned out way bigger than we expected them to be. But (as we just tested when we first saw them) they'll work fine with cardboard plantation chits, and wooden goods markers that can be moved to the cities.


I have looked through various posts and perhaps I've missed it, but I haven't been able to find an answer to, "how did this happen?"

An educated guess, from the sound of this response, is they didn't get samples to examine and test up front.

Also, were the expectations based on specifications provided? I would expect a supplier to be contractually bound to supply what was ordered. So the fact that Splotter will not be replacing the pieces makes me think it is because they would have to absorb an excessive cost, and that because the supplier doesn't think they are responsible for the error.

Now, as some have noted, Splotter games aren't known for their bling, and one buys them for their game play (personally, it took me a long time to appreciate that, and I am glad I came to that same conclusion).

But, regardless of the cost, there is still an expectation of usability as intended (an erratum saying to use pieces in a different way doesn't constitute "as intended" IMO).

So...Why is this important? I've gone out and ordered replacement pieces adding 25% to the total cost of ownership of the game itself to make it more usable. But, personally, I lose confidence in publishers that do not stand behind their products.

Folks at Splotter - I, for one, think it would be only appropriate to get a reason as to why, and what you're doing to prevent this from happening for future games/prints. At least for those who had blind trust and preordered your products long ago.

EDIT: More context provided in-line
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Re: Elephant in the room
Can you give the backstory on this? I'm actually not familiar with what happened.
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Re: Elephant in the room
I do not agree that it is important who to blame. It seems as if the company producing the tokens is not really responsible, at least not in such a way that they have to produce replacements. In the end Splotter is responsible for the product that they are offering and they have shared the information that they decided to share. Maybe they answer your question, maybe not.
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Re: Elephant in the room
ringo84 wrote:
I do not agree that it is important who to blame. It seems as if the company producing the tokens is not really responsible, at least not in such a way that they have to produce replacements. In the end Splotter is responsible for the product that they are offering and they have shared the information that they decided to share. Maybe they answer your question, maybe not.


Not looking for someone to blame. Looking to understand how such a big mistake can happen and will be prevented.
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Re: Elephant in the room
I completely agree with everything you've said. I've been thinking about making a similar post but haven't because of the immediate backlash that is sure to follow.

I have loved every design I have played by the folks at Splotter but for modern day board games they are quite expensive especially if I have to pay an extra 25 dollars for more functional components. Everyone says that you can't bash their game components because they are made for functionality and not for aesthetic purposes but this doesn't apply in this case because they failed at making them functional.

I would also be more lenient if this was Splotters first go around but they have been publishing games for about 15 years. That makes something like this inexcusable. Not saying that experienced publishers don't make mistakes but they don't make them on this magnitude or if they do they would fix them before sending them out to retail.

I've been thinking about this and I wish that Splotter would take up a similar business model to Spielworxx. Spielworxx does similar size print runs of heavier games but then they partner with other publishers such as Capstone or Stronghold to make the games the more readily available, with better prices, and better components.

I would love it if Splotter would partner with Capstone games! Think about it, Capstone could make Splotter games with more readily available and probably would be able to charge 80 MSRP in the United States as opposed to an MSRP of 130! Now that's a dream come true!
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Re: Elephant in the room
kwoudy30 wrote:
I completely agree with everything you've said. I've been thinking about making a similar post but haven't because of the immediate backlash that is sure to follow.
I see no reason for a backlash. It was a cock-up and Splotter have said so.

In days gone by it was perfectly acceptable (if not essential) to have views that differed from the herd or ask 'uncomfortable' questions that caused people to question their own perceptions. I know things have changed (and not for the better). I mean, did Ugg 'really* have to make such a f*cking fuss about his "wheel"?

I too would be interested in HOW it came about - even NASA get measurements wrong (imperial vs. metric) and that had truly tragic results.

Lots of us spend silly money pimping fairly standard games; Indonesia is probably worth spending some money on. I'd rather NOT have to spend any more - but I don't mind. I couldn't afford the 1st ed anyway.

What I'd REALLY like is a definitive shopping list from an EU supplier and a rulebook addendum on how best to use them (probably with the wonderful map in the files section).
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Re: Elephant in the room
I'm not privy to Splotter's inner circle, so take the following with a few chunks of crystalline NaCl...

From what I remember is that the bits manufacturer for some reason delayed delivery of the components by about 2 months. When the components finally arrived the Splotter team was already packing up for Essen. And then you have to make a decision on how to proceed: it wouldn't be the first time Essen caused a publisher to 'malfunction'. Especially since there is no clear way out: pull a game from direct sales and you end up with really PO'ed customers who yell at you online for not living up to expectations, and if you continue sales you end up with really PO'ed customers who yell at you online for not living up to expectations. Either way you're effed, irrespective of who is to blame for the situation.

Given that the company is very small (also in terms of manpower) I'd hazard that asking for a sample copy prior to committing to a print run will become a standard procedure, and even then oversights can happen. It is somewhat interesting to ponder the situation in which Splotter received the bits on time (so with 2 months to spare), but found them too big owing to a mistake they themselves made... the answer is likely not forthcoming, though.

Finally, I would like to point out that the concurrent Great Zimbabwe reprint succeeded without a problem, with altered specifications for the cows to boot. This fact tends to get ignored.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see what the Antiquity reprint will bring us.
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Re: Elephant in the room
lajaro wrote:
ringo84 wrote:
I do not agree that it is important who to blame. It seems as if the company producing the tokens is not really responsible, at least not in such a way that they have to produce replacements. In the end Splotter is responsible for the product that they are offering and they have shared the information that they decided to share. Maybe they answer your question, maybe not.


Not looking for someone to blame. Looking to understand how such a big mistake can happen and will be prevented.


As if Splotter won't do this themselves, given the uproar.

Preorders can be canceled, and this issue was publicized months before delivery. No one forced you to keep the preorder or to upgrade the components, once you made the decision to keep your preorder.

The title of this thread is misleading. It should have read, "Beating the Dead Horse in the Room. Again."
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Re: Elephant in the room
lajaro wrote:
So...Why is this important? I've gone out and ordered replacement pieces adding 25% to the total cost of ownership of the game itself to make it more usable. But, personally, I lose confidence in publishers that do not stand behind their products.


The exercise has increased my confidence in Splotter:and their continued focus on interesting games. In this I'm particularly pleased that they're not focused on the unimportant aspects like their consumers/buyers or details of their bits/production.
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Re: Elephant in the room
icarusmustburn wrote:
Preorders can be canceled, and this issue was publicized months before delivery. No one forced you to keep the preorder or to upgrade the components, once you made the decision to keep your preorder.


Now you see, here you're making assumptions. I never preordered. In fact, I just purchased a few days ago, knowing about the problems. Because I wanted the game. I thought I would give a shout out to those who did. But it still doesn't change what happened.

Quote:
The title of this thread is misleading. It should have read, "Beating the Dead Horse in the Room. Again."


Personally, I think beating the dead horse with "beating the dead horse" comments is growing a bit old.

EDIT: But fixed the title for you anyhow
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Re: Elephant in the room
lajaro wrote:
icarusmustburn wrote:
Preorders can be canceled, and this issue was publicized months before delivery. No one forced you to keep the preorder or to upgrade the components, once you made the decision to keep your preorder.


Now you see, here you're making assumptions. I never preordered. In fact, I just purchased a few days ago, knowing about the problems. Because I wanted the game. I thought I would give a shout out to those who did. But it still doesn't change what happened.

Quote:
The title of this thread is misleading. It should have read, "Beating the Dead Horse in the Room. Again."


Personally, I think beating the dead horse with "beating the dead horse" comments is growing a bit old.



If you purchased a few days ago, then your argument has no standing. Why beat a dead horse, then? Do you want to know how it happened so that you can advise Splotter? Seriously? Not your role.

Or to regain trust? Again, unneeded because you already bought the game. Trust in future orders? They have already spoken to this issue multiple times. Don't like their answer? Don't buy.

Just because my statement about beating a dead horse has been used literally or implicitly multiple times by others, does not make it any less valid or true.

However, it does question your ability to accept that no more details are forthcoming and to not needlessly belabor a point under a guise of altruism. Self-appointed spokesman for imaginary people who have had endless opportunity to provide feedback in other threads.

Edit: Done with this thread. Stopped by because of the misleading original title.
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icarusmustburn wrote:
lajaro wrote:
icarusmustburn wrote:
Preorders can be canceled, and this issue was publicized months before delivery. No one forced you to keep the preorder or to upgrade the components, once you made the decision to keep your preorder.


Now you see, here you're making assumptions. I never preordered. In fact, I just purchased a few days ago, knowing about the problems. Because I wanted the game. I thought I would give a shout out to those who did. But it still doesn't change what happened.

Quote:
The title of this thread is misleading. It should have read, "Beating the Dead Horse in the Room. Again."


Personally, I think beating the dead horse with "beating the dead horse" comments is growing a bit old.



If you purchased a few days ago, then your argument has no standing. Why beat a dead horse, then? Do you want to know how it happened so that you can advise Splotter? Seriously? Not your role.


Another beating the dead horse comment, eh? Really...But wait, I guess I'm also an offender as I am beating the dead horse myself about commenting on you beating the dead horse about me beating the dead horse. (How far down the dark rabbit hole shall we go with this one - this is fun!)

As far as why, I am a seeker of information. No further justification necessary.

Quote:
Or to regain trust? Again, unneeded because you already bought the game. Trust in future orders? They have already spoken to this issue multiple times. Don't like their answer? Don't buy.


As noted, I have yet to see an answer explaining how it happened. When you're done with your badgering, perhaps you can provide a link to the explanation if there is one, as that's really all I was hoping for.

Quote:
Just because my statement about beating a dead horse has been used literally or implicitly multiple times by others, does not make it any less valid or true. However, it does question your ability to accept that no more details are forthcoming and to not needlessly belabor a point under a guise of altruism. Self-appointed spokesman for imaginary people who have had endless opportunity to provide feedback in other threads.


You're right. I cannot accept that no more details are forthcoming, and you are more than entitled to your straw man arguments. But I do want to thank you for the well-written personal attack. Wish others had such a good command of the English language (although I would have hoped to see a "u" in belabour)
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You say you don't like controversial posts but "stand ready for attacks" and then you say "I am a seeker of information." and nothing more. Did you try just emailing Splotter directly and asking for the explanation? Was airing out your complaints publicly a final last resignation because they have refused all of your attempts to get this information you seek?
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lajaro wrote:
I cannot accept...


Ooops.
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Just for the record I love controversial posts and this one isn't 10% of the controversy found in the Kingdom Death: Monster forums.
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Does swapping the cardboard chits and large tokens (per erratum) allow the game to function optimally?

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ad nauseam
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adamredwoods wrote:
Does swapping the cardboard chits and large tokens (per erratum) allow the game to function optimally?



Probably down to personal experience, but I didn't think it worked. The wooden pieces just take up too much space. For my second play, I just used the cardboard chits for both purposes (plantations and delivered goods).
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Kektek wrote:
adamredwoods wrote:
Does swapping the cardboard chits and large tokens (per erratum) allow the game to function optimally?



Probably down to personal experience, but I didn't think it worked. The wooden pieces just take up too much space. For my second play, I just used the cardboard chits for both purposes (plantations and delivered goods).


Agree. The large wooden pieces have no business being in this game. They are ridiculous.
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If this had been the manufacturer at fault, I'd bet dollars to donuts it would have been corrected at cost to the manufacturer.

Shows you what Splotter thinks of their customers that they passed the buck when no reputable manufacturer would have done so because THEIR customers (of which Splotter is one) would hold them accountable and stop working with them.
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Joris Wiersinga
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I can shed some light on the history. Basically, we at first wanted to keep the game as is, with some changes to the map and cards.

It turned out we had a larger than expected set of pre-orders so we decided we could do something extra. We came up with the idea to make wooden pieces for the goods, and cardboard ships. We felt this would fit the board better and work easier with player colours. As we needed to make a lot of wooden pieces, it was an investment, but one we felt we could afford given the pre-orders.

Unfortunately, the production of this game was plagued by difficulties; we were also extremely busy both in our normal jobs, due to the fact I had a prettty serious car accident, and because of the success of FCM; the latter of course is something to celebrate but it did take a lot of time and cause a lot of stress, with us and all of our suppliers.

We requested small wooden pieces from our supplier, and supplied a design. As always, they modified the design somewhat (you cannot do everything you want with wooden meeples) and returned the drawings. We OK'd and signed the drawings. However, somehow these drawings had different sizes on them than we had intended. We did not see this at the time, which would perhaps not have happened if we hadn't been so stressed out / spaced out on morphine pills.

Then, the meeple suppliers got into trouble (I documented this elsewhere). We had a lot of trouble with all of our wooden meeples, which were consistently late, sorted incorrectly, broken, etc. We called the meeple producer weekly, then daily, then multiple times a day. In the end, we got to see the first meeples on a picture the evening before going to Essen, and we first held and touched the meeples on the morning of the Essen fair. All meeples had been pressed (cut) at that time, but not painted and sorted (this took another couple of months as you are all aware).

Normally we would have a bit more time, but now there was no time at all. We played the game at Essen, and although we really disliked the situation, we felt the game was playable if you switched the cardboard and wooden pieces, even though this solution is not ideal.

Although the supplier did a lot of things wrong (including changing the size during the design process), we signed off on the size of the meeples, so the size was our responsability. In any case, we had so many difficulties that we were happy to be able to get any meeples from him at all (we will change producers for our next game-- even though we had worked a lot with this company in the past).

We have tried to be open and upfront with all of our customers about what happened. Unfortunately, it is not quite possible to make a new set of meeples for everyone and send it. We have received a number of emails with ideas on what we could provide, and Jeroen and I are looking into this.

For me, personally, the main take-away is that our current operations are not able to handle a number of reprints of the current game plus two reprints of previous games in the same year. Worse, we have had almost no time to work on a new design in the past year; and frankly, designing games is what makes Splotter fun. We hired two employees to help us out and worked a lot on our supply chain; but to be fair, all of this is work rather than a fun hobby which is what Splotter used to be. I already own and run another pretty sizeable company and I'm not quite sure I want to run two at the same time. This month is the first time in a year and a half that we are not stressing to fulfill order deadlines and it kind of feels very relaxing (this is why the Antiquity pre-order is not yet up).

I realise this does not help all of you who wanted a perfect game and got something less than that. So we will have a look at what is possible, within limits of time and budget. We will try to be much more thorough with Antiquity and not try to do too many things at the same time (hence, no more FCM or other reprints for the time being). And, I hope, we will be able to focus most of our effort on our new game, which for me is by far the most enjoyable activity.

Hope this helps put things in context,

Joris




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joriswiersinga wrote:
I can shed some light on the history. Basically, we at first wanted to keep the game as is, with some changes to the map and cards.

It turned out we had a larger than expected set of pre-orders so we decided we could do something extra. We came up with the idea to make wooden pieces for the goods, and cardboard ships. We felt this would fit the board better and work easier with player colours. As we needed to make a lot of wooden pieces, it was an investment, but one we felt we could afford given the pre-orders.

Unfortunately, the production of this game was plagued by difficulties; we were also extremely busy both in our normal jobs, due to the fact I had a prettty serious car accident, and because of the success of FCM; the latter of course is something to celebrate but it did take a lot of time and cause a lot of stress, with us and all of our suppliers.

We requested small wooden pieces from our supplier, and supplied a design. As always, they modified the design somewhat (you cannot do everything you want with wooden meeples) and returned the drawings. We OK'd and signed the drawings. However, somehow these drawings had different sizes on them than we had intended. We did not see this at the time, which would perhaps not have happened if we hadn't been so stressed out / spaced out on morphine pills.

Then, the meeple suppliers got into trouble (I documented this elsewhere). We had a lot of trouble with all of our wooden meeples, which were consistently late, sorted incorrectly, broken, etc. We called the meeple producer weekly, then daily, then multiple times a day. In the end, we got to see the first meeples on a picture the evening before going to Essen, and we first held and touched the meeples on the morning of the Essen fair. All meeples had been pressed (cut) at that time, but not painted and sorted (this took another couple of months as you are all aware).

Normally we would have a bit more time, but now there was no time at all. We played the game at Essen, and although we really disliked the situation, we felt the game was playable if you switched the cardboard and wooden pieces, even though this solution is not ideal.

Although the supplier did a lot of things wrong (including changing the size during the design process), we signed off on the size of the meeples, so the size was our responsability. In any case, we had so many difficulties that we were happy to be able to get any meeples from him at all (we will change producers for our next game-- even though we had worked a lot with this company in the past).

We have tried to be open and upfront with all of our customers about what happened. Unfortunately, it is not quite possible to make a new set of meeples for everyone and send it. We have received a number of emails with ideas on what we could provide, and Jeroen and I are looking into this.

For me, personally, the main take-away is that our current operations are not able to handle a number of reprints of the current game plus two reprints of previous games in the same year. Worse, we have had almost no time to work on a new design in the past year; and frankly, designing games is what makes Splotter fun. We hired two employees to help us out and worked a lot on our supply chain; but to be fair, all of this is work rather than a fun hobby which is what Splotter used to be. I already own and run another pretty sizeable company and I'm not quite sure I want to run two at the same time. This month is the first time in a year and a half that we are not stressing to fulfill order deadlines and it kind of feels very relaxing (this is why the Antiquity pre-order is not yet up).

I realise this does not help all of you who wanted a perfect game and got something less than that. So we will have a look at what is possible, within limits of time and budget. We will try to be much more thorough with Antiquity and not try to do too many things at the same time (hence, no more FCM or other reprints for the time being). And, I hope, we will be able to focus most of our effort on our new game, which for me is by far the most enjoyable activity.

Hope this helps put things in context,

Joris






The explanation is much appreciated. Unfortunately it does not remedy the situation, but the transparency is always nice. Once you find a new manufacturer perhaps float the idea of an upgrade kit? Or work with a company like Meeple Source to develop appropriate substitutes?
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Thank you for the thoughtful explanation, Joris.

My game is on a local delivery truck and I look forward to enjoying it soon, flaws and all!

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Shampoo4you wrote:
joriswiersinga wrote:
I can shed some light on the history. Basically, we at first wanted to keep the game as is, with some changes to the map and cards.

It turned out we had a larger than expected set of pre-orders so we decided we could do something extra. We came up with the idea to make wooden pieces for the goods, and cardboard ships. We felt this would fit the board better and work easier with player colours. As we needed to make a lot of wooden pieces, it was an investment, but one we felt we could afford given the pre-orders.

Unfortunately, the production of this game was plagued by difficulties; we were also extremely busy both in our normal jobs, due to the fact I had a prettty serious car accident, and because of the success of FCM; the latter of course is something to celebrate but it did take a lot of time and cause a lot of stress, with us and all of our suppliers.

We requested small wooden pieces from our supplier, and supplied a design. As always, they modified the design somewhat (you cannot do everything you want with wooden meeples) and returned the drawings. We OK'd and signed the drawings. However, somehow these drawings had different sizes on them than we had intended. We did not see this at the time, which would perhaps not have happened if we hadn't been so stressed out / spaced out on morphine pills.

Then, the meeple suppliers got into trouble (I documented this elsewhere). We had a lot of trouble with all of our wooden meeples, which were consistently late, sorted incorrectly, broken, etc. We called the meeple producer weekly, then daily, then multiple times a day. In the end, we got to see the first meeples on a picture the evening before going to Essen, and we first held and touched the meeples on the morning of the Essen fair. All meeples had been pressed (cut) at that time, but not painted and sorted (this took another couple of months as you are all aware).

Normally we would have a bit more time, but now there was no time at all. We played the game at Essen, and although we really disliked the situation, we felt the game was playable if you switched the cardboard and wooden pieces, even though this solution is not ideal.

Although the supplier did a lot of things wrong (including changing the size during the design process), we signed off on the size of the meeples, so the size was our responsability. In any case, we had so many difficulties that we were happy to be able to get any meeples from him at all (we will change producers for our next game-- even though we had worked a lot with this company in the past).

We have tried to be open and upfront with all of our customers about what happened. Unfortunately, it is not quite possible to make a new set of meeples for everyone and send it. We have received a number of emails with ideas on what we could provide, and Jeroen and I are looking into this.

For me, personally, the main take-away is that our current operations are not able to handle a number of reprints of the current game plus two reprints of previous games in the same year. Worse, we have had almost no time to work on a new design in the past year; and frankly, designing games is what makes Splotter fun. We hired two employees to help us out and worked a lot on our supply chain; but to be fair, all of this is work rather than a fun hobby which is what Splotter used to be. I already own and run another pretty sizeable company and I'm not quite sure I want to run two at the same time. This month is the first time in a year and a half that we are not stressing to fulfill order deadlines and it kind of feels very relaxing (this is why the Antiquity pre-order is not yet up).

I realise this does not help all of you who wanted a perfect game and got something less than that. So we will have a look at what is possible, within limits of time and budget. We will try to be much more thorough with Antiquity and not try to do too many things at the same time (hence, no more FCM or other reprints for the time being). And, I hope, we will be able to focus most of our effort on our new game, which for me is by far the most enjoyable activity.

Hope this helps put things in context,

Joris






The explanation is much appreciated. Unfortunately it does not remedy the situation, but the transparency is always nice. Once you find a new manufacturer perhaps float the idea of an upgrade kit? Or work with a company like Meeple Source to develop appropriate substitutes?
Remedy what? The game is playable.
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crambaza wrote:
Remedy what? The game is playable.


Meaningless. "Playable"? I can "play" most board games in existence with a pen and some paper if I so desired.
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