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Subject: A third letter to the friends of Leder Games rss

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Patrick Leder
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The end of 2017 has me looking forward and backwards. Normally I write these during a crisis and so I am enjoying being able to write when my house isn’t burning down (metaphorically).

Many summers ago I was sitting outside a job I was working as a temp. I had finished a game called Labyrinth of Korlax the summer before. It was about 100 cards and I had an estimate for 3500 dollars to print it. I was trying to figure out how to live on my wages and save up 3500 bucks. Eventually someone talked me out of publishing Korlax and I went to work as a programmer for 10 years. It wasn’t a great game so no one get mad at that person.

So here I am to celebrate some of our triumphs and a few of our lessons learned.

Vast Kickstarter / Paypal

After Paypal moved my money into reserve (you can read about it in our second letter) I was forced to find outside funding. Several kind people stepped forward to help us with bridge loans. My parents graciously loaned me the money to move forward and I am grateful.

Confident we could cover our contingencies I moved forward with a second Kickstarter introducing miniatures to Vast. This is something I had wanted from the beginning and now that I was more certain of my success I decided to go for it. Surprised by how the campaign was going, we decided to build the first Vast expansion inside of the campaign. I liked this opportunity. The new roles are a little more advanced and I didn’t think they would be suitable for a core set. The campaign did very well. By the end of the campaign I used the money from my parents to order the next run of Vast core sets which arrived in March.

The Core sets were sold out as soon as they arrived. We were on the phone with the factory ordering more the weekend the Core sets arrived. Those arrived in June and we have sold most of those. I believe there are now about 21,000 Vasts in circulation.

Full-time
In December 2016 I was talking to my parents about how the Kickstarter campaign was going and how work was going. I had been staying up until 2 or 3 most nights to get things working, so I could wake up in time to work fulltime. I literally fell asleep on the phone while talking to my parents. At this point I had to pack it in. I convinced my wife and left my great job working for Hennepin County and for the second time I was doing board games fulltime. I haven’t worked for anyone else since January.

Hiring
I took the money I made from Vast’s distributor sales and started hiring folks. I have added the following fine people to Leder Games.
Kyle Ferrin - Illustrator
Jacob Tonding - Operations Manager
Clayton Capra - Sales Manager
Cole Wehrle - Game Designer / Developer

Caryl Tan is still out there doing customer service, somewhere on the edge of the Canadian Wilderness.

With these folks on the payroll I was able to divert my time and Kyle Woelfel’s time to working on developing Vast: The Fearsome Foes (all of the addon roles).

Leder Games HQ
We quickly outgrew my dining room, and went looking for commercial space. We signed a space the week before Gen Con. Though the chaos of Gencon didn’t allow us to settle in right away, we have since come to love our office. It has desks, tables for me to work on prototypes and a free smelly couch. It should be large enough for us as we move forward.

Conventions
We made it to 4 major conventions last year: PAX: East, Origins, Gen Con, PAX: Unplugged. We also went to SXSW, but we felt lost in the shuffle among the video game companies. PAX: Unplugged had a fantastic first year and we will be happy to return next year. Promoting Root during PAX kept us busy the entire time we were there.

Translations
We completed the translations for Vast in French, Spanish, and German and started to receive feedback. During the same time we worked on our plans to print them. Demand for the translations was half of what we expected and we had trouble forming a stable relationship with a distributor. Facing a significant increase in prices and low sales, our shrinking ROI on the project made us decide to cancel the project and issue refunds. This was not a high point of the year for me and I wrestled with the decision. Seriously, I lost a ton of sleep.

Clayton and I are going to look for a licensee in each language for Vast and Root. We are collecting names for each language and to avoid another jam up I will be doing one language at a time.

Root
One of my later hires was Cole Wehrle whom I brought on to be a developer to help me so I could spend half my day working on marketing and half my day designing. After playing around with it we decided to work on Root, which is set in the world of a sandbox adventure game we are also working on. We quickly brought Root to Kickstarter and we were delighted by how it went.

We learned a few things:
Going to a convention during a campaign, particularly for a complicated game like Root is valuable.
We accelerated all of the stretch goals and moved them into an expansion to keep the campaign moving. Apparently people like more stuff. Who knew?

Vast: The Mysterious Manor
I have been hard at work on a sequel to Vast: The Crystal Caverns. It will feature the Paladin, the Skeletons, the Spider, the Manor, and the Enchanter. They will fill comparable roles to the one in Vast: The Crystal Caverns but will be swappable between games. For instance the Paladin could journey into the Cave. Chad Hoverter is already hard at work on the miniatures and we will be releasing them at the same time as the core set.

Future Development
Path - This is our asymmetric sandbox adventure game. It is set in the same world as Root, but will likely have more fantastic elements. Each hero will play differently but not to the extent of Root and Vast. We plan on having versus, solo, and cooperative scenarios out of the gate. We also want to make the game’s state somewhat persistent with each game taking place about a generation apart.

Vast: The Frozen Fear - I have been also playtesting and balancing the third game in the Vast line. The Hero, Horde, and Spoiler character work well already. I have yet to prototype the monster. Although we have a great set of rules for the setting-horror I will admit the map is flummoxing me a bit.

All and all this has been a fantastic year for us and I wish to build on our success. I want to thank you all and my staff for helping me to this point.

Thanks,
Patrick Leder
Leder Games
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miha hančič
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I am happy I discovered Leder games last year and I wish you all the best in the new one, can't wait for more of your great games
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dilkROM
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Awesome letter, Patrick, thanks so much for sharing. Very inspiring journey and whilst I'd never wish Leder harm it is helpful to see that even the "pros" go through struggles. I might have to take your lead here and get a news forum post going for Quality Beast too...
 
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David Johnson
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Just want to say that I think it's interesting you felt lost in the shuffle at SXSW because I played Vast there and I've been telling my friends about it for a year. I don't buy a lot of big board games because I don't have many opportunities to play them with a group, but that's changed recently and I saw Vast in a store so I finally bought it last month and have been trying to get it on tables. I also found out Root after buying it and looking for more info, so I pre-ordered that on Backerkit (since I missed the kickstarter). So your showing up there got you at least two sales, even if they were somewhat delayed!
 
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Patrick Leder
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AuthorX wrote:
Just want to say that I think it's interesting you felt lost in the shuffle at SXSW because I played Vast there and I've been telling my friends about it for a year. I don't buy a lot of big board games because I don't have many opportunities to play them with a group, but that's changed recently and I saw Vast in a store so I finally bought it last month and have been trying to get it on tables. I also found out Root after buying it and looking for more info, so I pre-ordered that on Backerkit (since I missed the kickstarter). So your showing up there got you at least two sales, even if they were somewhat delayed!


At SXSW we were approached by multiple parties that didn't know about the hobby board game market and were surprised people still make board games.

It was loud and we in the contest we were in we competed with 20 video games. Video games demo so much faster and the game that won probably has a minute demo. We just can't compete with those numbers.

At least they did the lighting right for us. No big deal we just won't do SXSW again.
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David Johnson
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That's true, SXSW Gaming is primarily a video game show, and I just show up as a looky-loo, not as part of any industry, so I don't pay much attention to the contests they run at the show. It's understandable that you won't return, but I'm glad I found you there and played a few games.
 
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