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  • Writer's pictureNikola Petrov

I Went To An Event and Kickstarted a Game

In this one, I'll talk about the successful crowdfunding effort for And That's How I Died and my experience at Sofia Board Game Weekend.

And That's How I Died Kickstarter
And That's How My Game Looks Like

You know how I start each blog with "I've been very busy lately"? Well...

I Launched A Kickstarter

Small publisher Mind Inventions and I partnered up for a Kickstarter! We got funded in 5 hours and reached the 200% mark on the very first day. It feels nice to type that!

My Attitude Toward Kickstarter

To make a long story short, I used to be a Kickstarter power-user as a backer (106 backed games and counting!) and a Kickstarter skeptic as a creator. I've been involved behind the scenes in a few campaigns before. Some made it and others were cancelled before being pronounced failed. Either way, I thought Kickstarter was an incredibly high-effort endeavor. Why do all the work yourself when a publisher can professionally handle so much of the work?

In addition, board gaming Kickstarter heavily favors ultra-luxurious projects with tons of miniatures, custom resin dice, and hard-cover lore books. I absolutely love these things, but And That's How I Died features none of them.

What We Did And How It's Different

That's why, after much deliberation, we agreed that we should just give it a shot and try to prove ourselves wrong.

Our product would strike a nice balance:

  • As expected, it will have a standard edition and a luxurious collector's edition;

  • Unexpectedly, it will feature no add-ons or stretch goals - what we promise is what you get, but we'll do our darn best you get it lightning-fast;

  • As expected, we will offer a few Kickstarter exclusives;

  • Unexpectedly, we will give you a full Print-and-Play version of the game at the lowest possible tier, at just $2. That's right, everybody gets the game no matter how much they pay!

We decided we would run no crazy marketing campaign paying thousands for site banners. Instead, we will contact people we already work with and go on social media to talk to fellow gamers like normal people. Not only would we promote the game, but we would actively join the conversation and share our experiences with the fans.

Personally, I've always found copy+paste spam messages and marketing signaling on Discord and Facebook. So I did none of that. Instead, I approached a few communities I like and I commented on interesting topics with them, just like I normally would. If somebody asks about the game, I would tell them, but this was never the goal.

To the shock of absolutely nobody, this method paid off. We funded in 5 hours based on pure organic interest. A huge shoutout to Martin's Print and Play Hideaway who picked up on our PnP offering and spread the word even before I went there to post about it. The guys showered us with positivity, backed us, and told their friends. One dude even claimed he probably won't even print the game, but he will throw a couple of bucks just to support it. That's love!

We made sure we keep the Kickstarter regulars (such as myself) happy, too - we talked to the manufacturer and designed a special holographic edition of the deck that shines like the rainbow on the way to Valhalla itself, plus an evocative playmat to play on! This bundle also proved popular and we got tons of backing for it. That's what a win-win looks like!

As I'm writing this, the first week of the project has just elapsed and we're sitting at a nice 500% of our initial funding goal. The future of the game seems bright.

Dona Vidas Nikola R. Petrov game designers Sofia Board Game Weekend
I Found Fishbone! Or at least his designer

The Kickstarter Overlapped With Sofia Board Game Weekend

And what a lucky overlap this has been! The Kickstarter was just launched and funded just in time for Bulgaria’s largest tabletop gaming event.

Nikola R. Petrov game designer
Is this card OP?

This is becoming a running theme: we were hoping it would go well, but the experience surpassed our expectations!

We had a table set up with the game ready to be played. One question that came up A LOT was “how final is this?” We played with a factory proof that is absolutely representative of the final product - it had the right size, cardboard thickness, linen finish texture, and print quality.

People new to the hobby did not make any comments on the component quality, and veterans were giving us a nod of approval - both signs we’re doing things right!

Luckily, our presence at the festival extended beyond our table. Here is a list of some of the things we did:

Sofia Board Game Weekend And That's How I Died
Vikings at work

We talked to people! A LOT!

Many dozens of people came to our table and caught me on the show floor. I had many discussions with both friends and strangers and I was happy to pitch the concept and talk about the game to everyone. Here's a short list:

  • Fellow game designers and industry people came to say "hi". I met some new friends and got to hang out with veterans. I feel like I need to extend a special “thank you” to Boarderia, the team behind Kickstarter success story Threetale;

  • The people from Game of the Year, Bulgaria’s tabletop game award ceremony. You guys know your games!

  • The jury members from the prototype competition who had the Sisyphean task of judging 15 prototypes for the grand prize and still found time to hang out and chat;

  • All the gamers of various ages and experience levels who were simply excited to play;

  • The few bearded dudes covered in tattoos who really got into the theme and presentation of the game. You guys rock!

We played! A LOT!

As I mentioned, dozens upon dozens of people got to play. We had all kinds of players - hobbyists, casuals, power gamers, you name it. It was extremely rewarding to watch them all have fun with the game and compare results. Some of the highest scores came from unexpected groups. Let’s just say I have a new appreciation and respect for silent, “poker-faced” people.

One anecdote stands out in showing the diversity of people who find fun in “And That’s How I Died”. We ran a 5-player game featuring a younger player who was really into the theme, and Bulgaria’s reigning Carcassone champion who - needless to say - is a bit of a pro player.

The kid had a lot of fun with my business card and came up with this visual joke:

Nikola R. Petrov And That's How I Died Game Designer
He hung out with me, but that's most certainly NOT how he died!

Sitting across the table was the champ who played record-shattering 9 Adventures scoring upwards of 130 points!

Sofia Board Game Weekend And That's How I Died
A happy champ!

The magic: both of these players had just as much fun. I was SUPER happy to see that!

We played a few other games!

I had the pleasure of hosting a couple of special convention games right on the stage - a big game of Cartographers and a wild session of Monsdrawsity. Thanks to everyone who came to draw & play! Lastly, I can’t thank the organizers enough for the great convention and the shootout during the closing ceremony. I appreciate everything you guys did! See you next year!

Next step: the epic finale of the campaign, followed by a flight to Essen for this year's SPIEL. See you there!

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