August is the month for conventions and give aways! We are attending GenCon and PAX this month and we want to invite you to join us at those events. If you can't attend, please check out all the neat ways we have for you to participate from home! Lots of great news coming out soon about future projects! Be sure to follow along!
Join us at our booth, our event space, and Dire Wolf’s booth for demos of our games! Prizes will be given away and who knows? You might even leave with some promos! Keep reading to find out what we have going on for Gen Con!
“We’ll be hanging this sign to help you find us!”
No need to pre-register, just show up and play!
Check out these sweet Flip Ship coasters and Renegade Meeples!
Demo games to win free swag!
Learn new games at our booth to collect all our beautiful badge ribbons! Add some flair to your badge and show your love for your favorite games. These will be limited!
Throughout Gen Con, we will hold daily tournaments for Clank! as well as learn to play sessions of our hottest games! Join us in the event hall for open play and demo events!.
Everyone who plays in the Clank events will receive a Siren Promo and a random play in each event will take home a Golden Dragon. Be the stealthiest adventurer of the day to take home one of these sweet trophies!
Check out our Clank! Tournament trophies! These things are hot!
Can’t get into a tournament? Friendly local game stores everywhere can order the Summer OP kit now which includes Golden Dragons and Siren promos. Ask your local store today!
Renegade Store Meet-Up!
Are you a local area gamer that missed out on a Badge? Preview Gen Con at your favorite local game store.
Join Family Time Games as they host a Renegade Game Meetup at 6:00 pm on Monday August 14th and demo a few games such as Raiders of the North Sea, Sentient and Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Card Game! Meet Scott and Sara and ask them all your burning Renegade questions!
Family Time Games
8796 N Michigan Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46268
But wait, there's more!
On Saturday Night, we’ll be returning to Family Time Games with more demos of our games! We’ll bring all the new hotness along with a larger demo crew. Fans from out of town will have a relaxed area to try out our new games, including:
You can find more Renegade titles on our website!
Meet and Greet Designers!
Without the imagination and creativity from our designers, Renegade would not be where we are today! If you'd like to meet the brains behind the brawn and win free promos, join us at our booth at the times below:
GEN CON DESIGNER SCHEDULE!
· Kane Klenko (Flip Ships, Flatline, FUSE, Covert designer): 10:00am - 6:00 pm Daily (Excluding Lunch Breaks) 17th - 20th.
· J. Alex Kevern (Sentient, World’s Fair, Atlas: Enchanted Lands designer): 11:00 am - 1:00 pm Friday, 17th and 3 - 4 pm on Saturday, 18th.
· Adam P. McIver (Ex Libris designer): 11:00 am - 1:00 pm Friday, 17th and 3:00 - 4:00 pm Saturday, 18th
· Paul Dennen (Clank! designer): Dire Wolf Booth, times TBD
· Kwanchai Moriya (Flip Ships, Kepler-3042 artist):1:00 pm -3:00 pm Friday, 17th
· Keith Baker (Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Card Game designer): Friday 10-noon, Saturday – Noon – 4, Sunday 10-Noon
Selfie with the Dragon!
Attendees can take a selfie with the life-size dragon to post online!
Using #GenClank, you will be automatically entered into a drawing for a copy of any Clank! product you choose! Make some noise Clank! fans!
Also, stop by to give a hug to the most lovable pooch at the convention at our Aza Chen corner!
Don’t feel left out! Fans at home can take a photo with any dragon (preferably the Clank! meeple) for a chance to enter too!
We will be working closely with the GenCan’t organizers to offer you lots of fun ways to participate at home and chances to win free games premiering at Gen Con! Join the fun here:
The whimsical artwork from Castles of Caladale recently inspired this young artist. While the oldest child was reading the rules, and the middle kid was punching out and stacking up tiles, the youngest member of the family was thrilled to have her own important job. This little one found an empty chipboard sheet and began creating some artwork of her own.
Before she was done coloring, the game was set up and rules were read. She was able to jump right into the game with us, and start building her castle. When the game was over, points had been totaled, and a winner declared, she jumped right back into drawing her own version of the game, with kitties, foxes and puppies.
Next time you’re opening a new game, try creating your own canvas by taping a blank piece of paper to the back of the empty cardboard. The punchboard creates lovely frames for a cartoon or individual small drawings. We found that the round holes left from punching out a copy of Shibu Inu House made perfect circles for funny faces.
You could encourage a child to cut the pieces out and incorporate them into a game, or leave them together and hang them on a fridge. We like to staple a few sheets of these together into a book. This little one had a wonderful time giving her parents and older siblings assignments, telling us what to color in the frames she made for us. For the square boards of Castles of Caladale, she instructed us to fill one box with a cat, another would be a monster, etc. My personal favorite is the star she turned into a fox.
Weather sorting cards, punching out pieces, or pulling plastic off of decks of cards, opening a new game provides many opportunities for even the youngest family members to be excited and engaged. Whatever you do with it, enjoy the process, maybe pick up a pencil yourself, and let your imagination flow with childlike wonder.
About the Author: Jenni Kingma
Jenni is Renegade's Customer Service Expert, a stay at home mom for three lovely children, and a crafty gamer!
Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio is one of our favorite events of the year. We spend time with our fans, meet with our incredible designers & artists, and celebrate with our fellow publishers at the Origins Awards Ceremony. It’s always a great week and we wanted to share a bit of what we have planned.
Super Early Release Games!
Origins is a great place to debut some of our upcoming hot summer titles. We have some of our biggest games of the year arriving just in time for the show. These are so fresh that we haven’t even seen finished copies yet. The factory had to ship some parts separately just to make sure they would arrive in time. If you like being the first in your group to have a game, here’s your chance! We have three early games with limited copies available:
Designed by J. Alex Kevern (World’s Fair 1893, Atlas: Enchanted Lands)
Art by Chris Ostrowski (Lotus, Covert, FUSE, The Blood of an Englishman)
Game type: Dice Manipulation and Set Collection
Find out more here!
New Featured Games!
We also have a few recent releases we’ll be featuring on the booth. Both FLATLINE and Honshu released in May and have already received high praise from the review community.
We are completely sold out of FLATLINE with the exception of these few copies we saved for Origins. This challenging game from Kane Klenko, the designer of FUSE, will push your team to the limits while you save patients in the medical bay of your starship. Our demo team will be on hand to run you through the basics!
Honshu was a big hit at Essen when it released under Lautepelit’s flag last year. We fell in love with it immediately and were so happy to be able to bring it to share with our US friends. Placing your cards to form an efficient city may sound simple, but this little box packs a huge punch. Some careful thinking will lead you to victory in this deceptively simple city building game. Learn how to play at our booth! (Honshu image, photo)
First Look Room – Hosted by UnPub
UnPub is an incredible organization that offers designers a chance to test their games with the public during events held across the country. It can be tough to get constructive feedback from your friends and family so public playtesting events can be invaluable during the design process. We are sponsoring UnPub at Origins and can’t wait to see what new designs emerge. If you’re ok with crayon drawings and willing to give some new designers a chance, we strongly encourage you to spend some time in the First Look Room D170 at the north end of the convention center. If you fall in love with any of the games you see, let us know! ;)
Origins Awards- Fan Choice!
Each year, committees are formed to pick the best games of the year in several different categories. After the nominees have been selected, the committees choose their favorite games but also offer Origins Game Fair Attendees a chance to vote for their favorites. The winners will be announced at a live ceremony on Saturday night! The Dice Tower gave a wonderful overview of their thoughts on the awards here:
We’re hosting a ton of exciting events at Origins! Learn our new games and compete for the title of Best Adventurer in our Clank! Make Some Noise! Events! Sign up or show up to see if we have empty spots.
Play to Win Events:
For most of our events, players will receive a raffle ticket just for playing, the winner of the raffle will receive a copy of the game!
Players that enter our Clank! events, we will be recording the high score from each game. At the end of the Fair, the player with the highest score will receive a handcrafted Dragon trophy. It will look so good on your gaming shelf! We will also have participation prizes for everyone who joins us.
Here's a list of all our events!
Looking for something to do after the Exhibit Hall closes? There are still tons of events, great food, and more friends to meet after hours! Keep reading for a few ideas!
Renegade Meetup – Thursday 6-10pm Tabletop Game Cafe
We play games to be social, meet new people, and spend time connecting. We wanted to set aside some special time to connect with you away from the hustle and bustle of the show floor. Our friends at the beautiful Tabletop Game Cafe have invited us to share their space for an evening of games and goodies! Please make sure to RSVP here!
DFW Nerd Night Charity Drive Thursday 10pm – 2am
Still looking for a place to play games and make the world a better place? Nerd Night is hosted by some of the most caring folks in the industry and they put on a wonderful event every year to generate donations for a special organization. This year they will be donating to the Columbus Nationwide Children’s Hospital. It’s a worthwhile cause and a lot of fun. We’ll be donating some prizes to their auction that you will not want to miss. RSVP here!
Secret Cabal Meetup – Friday 6:00 pm Gordon Biersch (401 N Front St)
One of our favorite podcasts, The Secret Cabal, hosts a huge meet up at a nearby restaurant each year. We have sent them some fun and silly prizes to support this event. Stop by and say hi! More info here!
Whatever you choose to do at Origins, have a blast and please do stop by the booth to say hi!
I recently had the privilege of spending a week in San Diego with Renegade Games for the Renegade Summit. It was a fabulous week of play testing prototypes and eating pie from Julian’s. My deepest thanks to Scott Gaeta (and his family) and Sara Erickson for being wonderful hosts and including me in this excellent board gaming extravaganza.
The concentrated play test time meant I had a concentrated time of fun… and frustration. I played games with engaging and unique themes and intriguing and interactive mechanisms. I also spent a lot of time agonizing over rules inconsistencies, confusing components, and even had to put some games aside because they were too difficult to get set up.
While I’m far from a playtesting expert, I’ve certainly learned a lot about it and I thought I’d share some of the “things I think designers should consider with their prototypes” as a blog post. Ultimately, it all boils down to this…
Remove any barriers that hinder people from playing and enjoying the game.
- Send a playable prototype. As Scott Gaeta says, “I don’t like to do arts and crafts.” Without a doubt there are a lot of people who love doing Print and Plays…printing up pages of cards, cutting, sleeving, even printing out boards. But when submitting to a publisher, don’t count on their ability or willingness to do that work. Whether you hand craft a prototype on printer paper with wingding icons or pay a print-on-demand service to produce a polished game, give the play tester something they can simply open and put on the table.
- Art isn’t necessary but… it can help make the game more memorable. This is especially valuable when a lot of prototypes are being played in short order (i.e. an UnPub, Protospiel, design competition, or publisher evaluation blitz.) While I wouldn’t advise investing in expensive custom art for a prototype, just try to do small reasonable things to make your game stand out.
- Help set expectations. Publishers, especially, are used to playing games in different states of polish. Include contextual notes such as what player count the game was most tested at and what count you think it plays best at. Information like this can help the play tester prioritize their time. (Thanks Marguerite Cottrell for this great tip!)
- Does the game need a player aid? Most benefit from one. Include it! A list of available actions, game phases, or scoring conditions are all helpful things for play testers to have in front of them.
- Include a detailed component list. Since prototypes often use parts gathered from other games, make sure it’s obvious what those components are for in your game.
- Sort the components into labeled baggies. This helps for out-of-the-box start up and it sets a really positive tone as players set up the game.
- Put a component list in the box that includes photos of the components. A list is great, but an illustrated list is ideal. A sheet that shows a photo of the component, component count, and what it is in your game is hugely helpful.
- Rules. Oh rules. There are many people far more skilled at assessing rules than I. But, play testing so many games made it abundantly clear why publishers hire professional rules editors. I think the key challenge with rules is that the game designer who is writing them is the person most intimate with the ins and outs of the game. This easily leads to assuming key information as a given, meaning it doesn’t get defined in the rules… and leaves the unfamiliar play tester in a lurch.
- Include game setup instructions. This makes it easier and faster to get the game to the table. Ideally, show a photo of the prototype set up. But any notes on where the components belong when you start play are helpful.
- Give examples. Specific examples are immensely helpful in clarifying vaguely written rules. Movement, battle, exchanges… everything can be made clearer with examples. They can also reinforce rules are being interpreted correctly. And if your game has complex scoring? Include examples of that too!
- Version the rules. If you’re loading rules to BoardGameGeek.com (or including multiple rule sets in the box) make sure they’re versioned. And do you best to submit a consolidated “best of” rule set with your prototype. It’s an awkward experience to have to reference the movement rules from an older ruleset but the battle rules from the current ruleset…especially when those rulesets aren’t labeled well.
- Include card diagrams. If your game uses cards with multiple elements on it like damage, defense, cost, value, etc. include a labeled picture of the cards. Without a visual reference, it’s incredibly challenging for a new player to figure out what the different things on the card are for.
- Be specific with words. “Number” can mean a few things in a game. The count of the card? The value of the card? Use terms consistently and do your best to use distinct words for elements that could be confused for each other.
6. And finally, don’t forget to include a tiebreaker. ‘Nuff said.
Thank you so much to all the creative designers out there working hard to make awesome games. I cannot calculate the passion, effort, time, and stress of designing a game and the guts it takes to submit a prototype. Before the Renegade Summit, I never considered myself a playtester, but I now look forward to my next opportunity to do so.
If you are interested in submitting a game to Renegade Games, please check out the Submissions page.
Suzanne Sheldon is a board game and social media enthusiast. She is part of the Dice Tower Network team and a regular on Board Game Breakfast. Suzanne also coordinates the annual #GenCant event (the unconventional unconvention for those who can’t Gen Con.) Suzanne lives in the Seattle, WA area with her non-gaming husband and her two children who, thankfully, love games.
We hope that everyone had an amazing day playing games and celebrating this incredible hobby yesterday. We made some fun promos to thank our loyal fans for supporting their local hobby stores. We've heard they were a little hard to find and that it can be frustrating to miss out. We certainly don't want anyone to have that experience. While we think it's important to support local hobby stores and encourage fans to do the same, we also understand that not everyone has a local store in their area.
So, thank you to everyone who celebrated yesterday at their local store. For those of you who did not get that opportunity, or who did but could not find the promo cards, we want to offer you a chance to acquire them.
The process is pretty simple. Just send us a Self Addressed, Stamped Envelope, and we'll send you a set of promos!
Renegade Game Studios
306-N West El Nortre Pkwy #325
Escondido, CA 92026
Need help creating your envelopes? Check out this article.
Due to logistical challenges with the self addressed stamped envelopes, this offer is only available within the US. However, please check the BGG store soon for an alternative option.
Thank you for enjoying our games! If you have any questions, feel free to let us know here.
Out of Stock
Three words nobody in our industry likes to hear; Out of Stock (OOS). For a customer, it means disappointment. For a FLGS it means possibly losing a sale at that moment and maybe more in the future if that customer decides to go elsewhere. From a Publishers perspective “out of stock” isn’t always bad.
Here’s the deal. As a publisher I want my distributors and retailers to have the games they need to satisfy our customers. I say “our customers” because ultimately that’s whom we (the royal we, the industry we) serve, the end user. Without them, none of us would be here. But I digress.
So, being out of stock isn’t always bad on the publisher level. Printing games is a risky business and as the old saying goes; nobody ever went out of business by selling out. I don’t think it’s as simple as that but you get the idea. By the time we have any real data to base sell-in, the games are often just weeks from arriving in our warehouse. The numbers we decided to produce were probably locked in anywhere from 12 – 16 weeks before that. It just depends on the components.
By the time the game hits the warehouse we know if we guessed right or not. Did we sell about half of the print run on release? That’s a decent result. Now we just need to make sure we see re-orders. But what if the games sold out or even worse, over sold. That’s not what we want. Often when I see demand for a game really heating up I get the next print run started before the first print run even arrives at distribution. This is me; the publisher, doubling down and I just doubled my risk. But ideally I, as the publisher, will be OOS and distributors will be OOS a few weeks later, and FLGS a few weeks after that. Just around that time the next printing will be arriving. What that means is that I need to be good at forecasting demand and responding to it at the right times; all with very little hard data. I’m very fond of saying that forecasting is a little art and a little science. The internet, distributor open houses, and conventions are my tea leaves.
In an ideal world, my forecasting skills allow me as a publisher to occasionally go OOS without having to take too much risk above and beyond what we already do. I at least get strong signs, if not hard numbers, that a new printing is the right call. But most importantly me being OOS doesn’t mean the FLGS is OOS. It’s all about timing. My job as a publisher is to get this right way more often than I get it wrong.
But here’s the real problem, what little hard data I get is sell-in, not sell-through. Now I really need to dig deep into the art of forecasting to get a good read on what is selling in stores. Sell-through is really what I want to know and there is no mechanism in our industry to track it. It’s all anecdotal information at the hobby level.
Where things go way off the rails is when sell-through is significantly higher than usual. This is when the dreaded OOS occurs across all tiers for a significant amount of time. That new printing isn’t just a couple of weeks away; it may be a couple of months away or more. Everyone loses out and nobody is happy.
I’ve experienced this phenomenon too many times to remember them all over the last 20 years. One time a CCG expansion I printed sold out instantly. There wasn’t anything any more special about it than the previous set but there you go. Everyone panicked and asked for more. The GAMA Trade Show was weeks after the set released and stores and distributors were very aggressive in wanting a reprint. We gave in and had piles of the second printing left, even after I printed 50% of what distributors were asking for.
Another time, a boxed game I published had a little less than four thousand units on pre-order. I printed 20,000 and sold out in 7 days. Some people say these are good problems to have. It took over 2 months to get more back in stock and our customers were not happy with us. It didn't feel like a “good” problem at the time. We got lots of “why didn’t you print more” questions. 12 weeks before street date five times pre-orders seemed pretty aggressive, if not down right risky.
Most recently Clank! took us by surprise. We printed a very good amount and it evaporated. I had the second printing in progress 6 weeks before the first printing arrived and that disappeared. The next two printings have also sold out on arrival and more are on the way. My tealeaves must need replacing.
Without actual sell through data the best I get is sell-in data. I can extrapolate from that velocity at the FLGS level and at least get a decent picture of where we stand. The other challenge is that sell-in data is often 30 days old by the time we get it.
So, what’s the solution? I don’t think there is one clear-cut solution that will make this all better. Our industry is made up of several thousand independent retailers and that is certainly one of our strengths but it’s also our greatest weakness when it comes to data collection. Unless we can figure out a way to collect sell-through data and have stores pre-order in a time frame that makes sense for them, while also being early enough to effect production, I don’t see this changing significantly. One possible solution could be industry wide POS software and a 3rd party that collects and distributes the data. The video industry had something similar to this in the 90’s.
But until the day that we have the infrastructure that gives us the data we need, all of us will have to keep the lines of communication open and do the best we can with the data we have. It’s just the world we live in, a world of art and science.
- Scott Gaeta
This Blog was originally published as a guest blog at travisseverance.com/blog as part of a 3 part series. Be sure to visit to read parts 2 and 3.
For the past month, we've been highlighting some of the amazing women that work with Renegade as part of International Women's Month. While there are still many more behind the scenes ladies on our crew, it's been wonderful to spotlight a few of them.
Today, we had a chance to chat with the incredible, Beth Sobel! She is working on a super secret project with Renegade right now! (Keep reading for a sneak peek!)
Beth, welcome to the International Women's Day Spotlight! For those reading who don't know you yet, tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m Beth, and I live in Bellingham, Washington, with my wonderful husband and two moderately well-behaved cats. I would describe them as well behaved were it not for their unfortunate love of staring us in the eyes while slowly pushing board game components off the table. We love board gaming despite our cats, and have two weekly events we attend.
Despite your cats' best efforts, it sounds like you really love games! Beyond playing them, how are you involved with games in this industry and how did you get there?
I’m a board game illustrator. I’ve been fortunate to work on projects such as Lanterns and World’s Fair 1893, Herbaceous, Coldwater Crown, Viticulture and Tuscany, and many more. I started my board game career through a recommendation from a friend for whom I did some illustration work, and it’s been a wonderful experience. Prior to my first board game illustration job, I hadn’t played a hobby game besides Catan, so the illustration is also how I got into board gaming as a hobby.
It sounds like you're a full fledged gamer now! What are your favorite games?
Oh, this is always a difficult question. My first inclination is to list every game I like, which would be a very, very long list. Excluding anything I’ve worked on, some current favorites are Concordia, World Without End, Honshu, Archaeology, Orleans, and Gold West.
Those are some great games, but I can see how it would be hard to exclude ones you have worked on! It's a long list! Looking back at your career, what surprises you the most?
Oh, definitely that I have this career at all! I went to graduate school for painting but didn’t end up doing much with it because I’m really very shy about discussing my work in person, which made gallery shows impractical.
Illustration ended up being a great fit for me. It offers the lack of many discussions of things I’ve painted, which I appreciate, and I really love working towards assignments, which is also a core part of illustration.
While gaming is important, we all have other things we like to do to keep ourselves sane. What do you do outside of gaming?
I really love living in the Pacific Northwest, and try to spend time outside when possible. The landscape here is stunning. While Bellingham is on the coast, we have mountains a short drive away, including a nearly 11,000 foot volcano!
Unsurprisingly, I also spend a good amount of time drawing, as I’m always trying to improve my abilities and learn new things.
Washington is incredibly beautiful. It's no wonder that your art often has a serene majestic look to it. Beyond being beautiful, it's also clear that you value diversity in your work. What or who inspires you to be so conscious of variety in your art?
Mainly, it doesn’t make sense to me for board games to not reflect the world in which I live. Seeing the same faces over and over again in a game for no specific reason feels boring, and can make a game difficult for me to relate to. With the enormous wealth of diversity that the real world provides, why not include that in game art?
Thank you so much for your inspirational words and for sharing your art with us. We are incredibly greatful for everything you've contributed to this industry. We look forward to seeing more from your upcoming projects!
Mandy Goddard is a talented designer and developer from Carmel, IN who has helped add beauty to our industry through her game Lotus. Today she chats with us about her experiences as part of our Women in Industry celebration!
Hey Mandy! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is Mandy Goddard, and I live in Carmel, IN with my husband, Jordan, and together, we design tabletop games. Our most recent release, Lotus, was published by Renegade Game Studios in 2016.
How are you involved with the Board Game Industry? (and how did you get there)
I think it really started with my family; we've been playing games together for as long as I can remember. My brother, Todd (who now makes video games for a living), introduced Jordan and me to tabletop games such as Settlers of Catan and Smallworld several years ago.
At the same time, Jordan was looking for business opportunities that we could take on together, outside of our day jobs. We started an LLC for our first business where we hand-sewed custom fabric coffee sleeves for coffee shops to sell to customers as an environmentally-friendly alternative to the cardboard sleeves. That project gave us a chance to learn so much, including building a website with e-commerce, managing inventory, managing small-business finances, and most importantly, just working together as a husband-and-wife team.
As Jordan and I started spending most of our free time playing games, it was only natural to see if we could combine that interest into a business opportunity. We started experimenting with writing our own rules to games and brainstorming ideas to create one of our own. From that exercise, came our first game, Collapse, which we self-published through Kickstarter.
What do you do outside of gaming?
From a professional standpoint, I'm a PMP-certified Project Manager working at Salesforce Marketing Cloud. I've been in Project Management roles for most of my career and really enjoy the combination of spreadsheets/reporting and collaborating with large teams.
From a personal standpoint, there isn't much time for more than gaming right now, between working on designing three new games and playing plenty of others in between. We are also expecting our first child in June, so we've been pretty focused on preparing for the baby recently. (It’s a girl!)
What are your favorite games?
My all-time favorite game is Uwe Rosenberg's Caverna. There is so much packed into this one box. I try different strategies every time I play and can't imagine ever getting tired of this one. It also helps that my husband has still never been able to beat me at Caverna, so I hold the undefeated title in our house! Other games at the top of my list right now are Splendor, Jamaica, and T.I.M.E.Stories.
I'm also a stickler for competitive word games, my favorites being Code Names and Catch Phrase. I love the team element and getting to test our wits when playing both of these.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the industry currently?
From a game designer's perspective, a challenge is the significant growth of the industry. Each year there are more games released than the last and there are countless new designers and new publishers entering the space. It's very exciting to be a part of it all, but at the same time, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of games released. It puts an added level of pressure on us to design something unique enough that it will stand out in the mix.
Where do you come up with your best ideas/designs?
I have to give a lot of that credit to my husband, Jordan. He tends to bring the initial ideas to the table - whether it's a fun theme we could explore, or a new mechanic he's testing - while I contribute more to refining the game's rules and ensuring there is balance across multiple game-plays. We joke that without him, we'd never start a project, but without me, we'd never finish one.
That said, I am working on one idea that was my own from the start and I'm pretty excited about it. I took inspiration from my childhood and my love for books and I'm developing a fun new way to teach children to read through a series of card games.
Looking back at your career in gaming, what surprises you the most?
I'm also always so surprised at how amazing the people in the gaming industry are. It was incredibly intimidating walking into Gen Con for the first time and not knowing a single person. But over the last five years, we've made so many close friends as a result of our experiences designing games, including other designers, game reviewers, publishers, and the huge network of gamers who make it all possible. It's so cool to get to work with people who share our passion for bringing exciting new gaming experiences to the world.
Where can fans connect with you?
You can connect with us through www.JordanAndMandy.com or on Twitter @JordanAndMandy. OR if you have time tonight, stop by Family Time Gmaes north of Indianapolis for a fun event at our local game store to celebrate the first day of spring!
In celebration of International Women's Month, we are interviewing several incredible ladies that are part of the Renegade family. We are working on a project for the fall with one of the most talented authors in the industry, Monica Valentinelli, so we reached out to her with a few questions about her life and career.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi! I am a full-time writer, game designer, editor, and artist who is best known for my work related to the Firefly TV show by Joss Whedon, and for creating the Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge. I was the lead writer and developer for the award-winning line of Firefly RPG books, and also wrote the Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse which was released from Titan Publishing in April 2016. My recent releases include In Volo’s Wake for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition, and the anthology Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling. You can find out more about my work at http://www.booksofm.com.
How did you become involved with the gaming industry?
I first started working in games back in 2005 with a small press publisher. Since then, I’ve worked with dozens of companies on the creative and the business side, and have designed, developed, and written for many games and systems. At one point, I was the Marketing Director for Steve Jackson Games, too!
What do you do outside of gaming?
I write fiction, design jewelry, paint, and travel to conventions. Making art is a huge part of my life, and couldn’t imagine what it would be like without it. I also like to cook, too.
What are your favorite games?
I prefer games that either have a strategic element, or are quick to play like Poo. Dominion, Gloom, and Revolution are some of my favorites, because they have a lot of variability and I enjoy the rules. I also love cooperative games like Pandemic, because they’re one of the best ways to introduce new players to the hobby.
What do you think the biggest challenges facing writers in the industry currently are?
Though all writers face the same issues to varying degrees, I think one of the biggest challenges game writers are addressing now is how to balance writing for ourselves versus writing for other people. The work we do is typically work-for-hire, which means that we don’t own the rights to what we write for other companies. While that is a viable way of building a career, as writers in comics, television, and fiction have done, it can have an impact on us long-term. For example, it’s often harder to make a jump to selling our own games and stories if we don’t find the time to produce when we’re not under contract. Having a passive stream of income that we control can also help weather payment gaps and issues with scheduling, but I’ve found it’s important because it generates new readers and players, too.
What inspires you to write stories?
Stories hold a lot of power, imagination, and wonderment. For me, writing them is a way of reaching through the page, to touch a reader’s heart the way mine was touched. I see stories everywhere, because people are filled with stories and they’re fun to listen to. I never have the problem of being blocked; my issue has always been how to connect my creative side with the ability to earn a decent wage.
Looking back at your career, what surprises you the most?
Hrmmm… Good question. I think what surprises me the most, is the realization that I should have started producing my own stories and games much sooner than I had originally planned. My thinking was that I wanted to establish my reputation doing solid work, which I did do, but developing and writing for licensed games wound up being so much work I didn’t do much else. Then, when a couple of major balls dropped, which is bound to happen to all creative professionals at some point, I felt like I was starting over. Mind you, I’ve steered the proverbial ship back in the right direction, but I could not have done that without a strong support system and the knowledge that was only temporary.
For a lovely surprise, I continue to be amazed by the genuine love of gaming that we all share and the talent in this industry. Yes, there is such a thing as a friendly rivalry, but most of the time everyone wants the same thing: to produce games (on time, of course!), so players can have fun. That collaborative effort is something I enjoy far more than I ever thought possible.
What is your favorite type of setting?
My favorite setting to write is dark fantasy, because I enjoy the challenge of creating something new and non-Eurocentric. I also love the idea of being surrounded by darkness, and finding your way to the light. My favorite to read, however, depends on my mood. For wonderful brain breaks, I tend to heavily rely on Pratchett’s work because I appreciate the puns and the meta-commentary on the fantasy genre.
What is your favorite convention to attend?
I’ve been traveling to Gen Con: Indianapolis for the past decade or so, and for me it’s like going home for Christmas. I’ve made so many friends over the years, it’s been lovely to see and hear how people change/grow as time goes on.
Thank you, Monica, for giving us some great insight into your life and your role in the industry! It's alway amazing to learn more about all the diverse roles needed to make a game!
Make sure to stop by Monica's Blog and consider attending her upcoming online class!
Renegade Recap 2016 - Part 3
The Home Stretch.
When we left off last week our merry band of Renegades had just finished up a busy summer of convention travel. Looking back there was still so much that happened at Gen Con that I didn’t get to cover.
Attending the Diana Jones Awards (Renegade was a sponsor this year) and getting to see Eric Lang win was awesome. Going to Nerd Night! Man, this event is so cool. The selfish part of me wishes it was at other cons too so I could actually have more time to spend there.
Geekdad hosted a press night where we brought Kane Klenko and Jordan and Mandy to show off their games to the Geekdad and Geekmom crew. Breakfast, lunches, and dinners with our distribution partners, retailers, press, and so many others.
But one of the biggest things I forgot was the last night. Our tradition is that the last night of the con, after all the hard work of tearing down our booth, the staff goes out to dinner. The Renegade usual is Brazilian, especially for the pig and pineapple. It’s really just a nice night to relax and celebrate all the hard work everyone puts into making these things happen.
But this night had a special treat for me. I had forgotten all about it until Sara told the story while she was getting ready to tape a preview of one of our upcoming games with Bebo. I’ll just let you watch Sara tell the story herself.
Some day, Sara…I will have REVENGE!
August also saw the release of our push your luck dice game; Dicey Goblins!
So after spending the rest of August trying to get some sleep and caught up on all the things that don’t get done when we are traveling it was back to the airport!
We kicked off September by heading to Fort Wayne, Indiana for the Alliance Open House. This is another one of those distributor events where we get to meet lots of great retail stores. We get feedback from them and get to show them what we have coming up.
While in Indiana we also made a side trip to the Man Vs. Meeple set. The guys were going to have Sara and I on to talk about Renegade. I can’t say enough good things about their work so far. The crazy thing is that I’ve known both Dave and Jeremy since way before they started MVM. David and I crossed paths back in my days making World of Warcraft TCG through Blizzard channels and Jeremy and I first met way back in my Decipher days.
I highly recommend you check out their stuff. In fact, you should just watch our Renegade episode now. Here you go…
In my mind when I think of October the first thing that pops into my head is, Essen. The first time I attended was back when we were making The Lord of the Rings TCG at Decipher. I have memories of running events in the huge halls filled with smoke. Back then you could smoke in the convention center and it was terrible. I would always come home with a smokers cough, and I don’t smoke! Back then, board games were big in Germany of course, but it was very different. Games like Catan dominated and Ticket to Ride hadn’t even come out yet. Now there’s so much more and that’s saying a lot.
Essen is very different from Gen Con but has some similarities. There are lots of meetings at both and it’s a great place for designers to meet with publishers. The biggest difference though is that in Essen, events are not really a thing. Organized play really doesn’t happen there. The show is like 5 big ginormous dealer rooms where the focus is demoing and buying games. Some Publishers have mega sized booths with fifty demo tables and others have a small booth with a couple of tables and a stack of games to sell. Many of the games are self-published and printed in small quantities just for this event and you may never see them again. Others may get picked up by a publisher.
The crowd in Germany is different too. Many more families of all ages walking around. At the end of the day the trains are packed with people carrying huge stacks of games. Many people just come for one day to try games and shop and then head back home.
For Renegade this year we were just there doing meetings. We thought about a booth but were just too busy working on product and so many other things to do it this year. I was worried I might kill Sara if I made her organize a booth there. But we will have a booth in 2017!
October also saw the release of Doggy Go! This was the second in a line of Aza Chen games we have on our schedule.
The rest of the month was back to working on games, reviewing submissions, following up on all the meetings we had about non-English editions of our games and getting ready for BGGCon. Sara attended the GTS Come and Play Day in Atlanta the end of the month too.
November is all about BGGCon. This would be the second year Renegade had a booth. Our focus here was to launch The Blood of an Englishman and preview Castles of Caladale. The designers of both games were able to make the trip and demo’d and talked to fans all week.
Jenni, our awesome customer servicerep, and author of those funky Game Craft articles where she shows you how to make cookies and stuff based on our games, made a cool beanstalk for the booth.
At BGGCon I purposely went light on the meetings. I was determined to play some games and have more flexibility. It was a good show for Renegade. We got a lot of good attention for our new games and everyone was super excited that we have some Clank! for sale. We had sold out of the first printing and put a small amount aside for this con and it went fast.
We also announced we were going to be publishing Honshu at BGGCon. That went over pretty well!
Here are some pictures from our week in Dallas.
Right after BGGCon I had a quick family trip to Denver for Thanksgiving and then all of a sudden it was December. Now all this time we were traveling during the fall, we were working on getting 2017 games to the factory. Some of you may have heard that Chinese New Year is a major holiday there. It starts the end of January and goes for about 3 weeks. During this time everything is shut down. This means anything we are producing has to be done and in transit before that shutdown or it’s stuck for almost another month.
So when December rolls around you are down to the wire. Past the wire really and we still had a couple of games that weren’t finished yet. To make matters worse I had one more trip before the end of the year.
I was off to Tokyo Game Market! I have had this event on my schedule for the last two years but kept taking it off because we always had so much work to do. But as our relationships with studios, publishers, and designers in Asia have developed I felt it was finally time I made the trip back to Japan.
I can’t say going to Japan was much of a hardship. I love visiting and it had been a long time. I also like flying to Asia from California. It’s a nice change from flying to Europe all the way from the west coast.
Of course, while there I had all the usual meetings. Met with some designers before the convention, did a little sightseeing, and a whole lot of eating. But the big day was attending Game Market on Sunday. The whole think is just one day. It’s held at a convention center called Tokyo Big Site.
The morning of the show I got up and planned to get there a couple of hours before it opened to scout around. I was lucky enough to have an exhibitors badge so I could get in early and not wait in the long lines. I arrived early and saw the line all the way back to the front doors. Went in and followed the signs to “Game Market” and walked, and walked, and walked. The halls for the con were easily a quarter mile from the entrance and the line went the whole way. Man was I happy I didn’t have to wait in that!
So I finally arrived and all the designers were frantically setting up. Game Market is nothing like Gen Con and reminds me a bit of what some halls in Essen felt like 10-15 years ago. 80% of the convention are independent designers with one single table selling their game. In between some aisles are tables for demos but not all the designers have a demo table. There are a lot of card games. I would say at least half are 30-100 card games in a simple tuck or two-piece box.
I already had a list of things I wanted to check out and went around and found them. Some I wanted to buy automatically and asked if I could buy them. It seems that’s a no no at Game Market. The con opens at 10am and the designers don’t sell until then. In a way, I think that’s a great policy as it gives everyone a fair shot. For many of the games, there are only a few hundred copies available. Once the hall opened I made my rounds as quickly as possible and pretty much got everything I wanted. I even picked some games up for some people back home.
If you ever attend, be aware that a lot of the games will not have English rules. So you will need to have way to learn to play if something really catches your eye but the rules are only in Japanese.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to visit with people we work with. I’ve mentioned previously that we are publishing a lot of Aza Chen’s games. The thing is that up until this point we had never met in person. When we signed Kitty Paw, he was in Essen and I skipped it that year so I could stay back and work on games that needed to go to print before the holidays. (Remember that dreaded Chinese New Year.) While he was there we started working on the deal and had it done shortly after he returned home. Then this year he skipped Essen and I didn’t, so we never had a chance to meet face to face until Japan.
The other group I got to spend a lot of time with was my friends from Taiwan. These guys are doing some great stuff and I’m sure you will be seeing many more of their designs in our market.
After Game Market I returned home and things started to wrap up for the year. The holidays arrived and Renegade goes into low power mode for that last week of the year. It’s a nice time when things quiet down and I can look back and reflect on what we accomplished but also really start to shift gears towards the new year.
Looking back the greatest asset we had in 2016 was the people we work with. We accomplished a tremendous amount for such a small company and it’s really a testament to the people who make up the Renegade team.
Robyn – You don’t hear much about her but she’s our Controller, AP, AR, royalties, and everything else that has to do with money, orders, and shipments person. It’s a huge role and vital to our day-to-day success. We couldn’t do what we do without her.
If you ever design a game for us, Robyn will be one of your favorite people. She sends out the royalty checks every quarter!
Sara – I refer to Sara (in my head) as my Right Hand of Doom. I mean that absolutely in the best way possible. Her title says director of sales and marketing but she does all sorts of stuff. She develops games, helps me evaluate submissions, and is running a game project or two as producer.
I know that whatever task she takes on she’s going to totally handle it and I don’t have to worry about it at all.
Anita – Anita is one of the best graphic designers I’ve ever worked with and I’ve had the good fortune of working with some extremely talented people. I’m sure you noticed that we take presentation seriously here and she’s done a fantastic job of making sure we meet those high standards.
At the end of the year she became our Creative Director and will be working with all the designers and artists we work with on so many projects.
Jenni – Ever have a broken piece in your game or something missing? Well, Jenni is the person making things right for you and getting it done quickly and painlessly. It’s an underappreciated job for sure, but she handles customer service quickly and with a smile.
She’s also a craft and party food expert and has been writing some cool articles for us called Game & Crafts.
So, that’s the core team at Renegade but definitely not everyone. All the game designers, artist, graphic designers, and convention staff work super hard to make sure you get a great game.
So that’s the people but what worked in 2016? Here are some random thoughts in no particular order:
- Marketing is important – Our philosophy has been to support and grow our games and that strategy has paid off.
- Be different – Not every theme has to be fantasy or zombies. A game of pretty flowers might just stand out among all the same stuff. This strategy seems to have worked too.
- Cultivate our relationship with specialty game stores. We don’t launch our games on Kickstarter and tried some early release programs with specialty stores that worked really well.
I think these were the 3 big successes for us this year. We followed though and supported our game launches, released some great stuff that stood out in a crowded market, and worked on building our relationships with the specialty game stores that sell our games.
But what do we need to improve on next year. Here we go:
- Scheduling – I really want us to be working on longer lead times. We don’t have much space in our development and production schedules. My goal for 2017 is to be working on final files for 2018 releases by mid-year. We have a couple of big 2018 projects that are already in the works but I would like to see all our original games get on a 12-16 month schedule, if it needs it.
- More resources – Everyone was exhausted by December. We put out a lot of great stuff but the pace and bandwidth took its toll. This wasn’t really a surprise. We grew a lot last year and everyone knew it was going to be a marathon. But we’ve maxed out our bandwidth and will need to expand our resources to continue the growth trajectory that we’re on. Anita is already taking action to broaden our design and production resources.
- Conventions – These suck a huge amount of bandwidth away from our day-to-day. We’re working on a plan to lessen that impact but it’s not really in motion yet.
- Specialty Game Shops – We had a lot of successes with some program and a few experiments last year. We already have plans to take that to the next level and if what we are going to try works, we’ll roll it out in the second half of the year.
Well, that was 2016. It was a great year for Renegade and even though it’s a tremendous amount of work, we had a lot of fun too. We’re really looking forward to 2017 and I hope you are too!
Oh, yeah, I promised some insight into what we have coming this year. I promised Sara I wouldn’t spoil too much so here’s a list of some things I’m looking forward to this year:
- A new game from J. Alex Kevern. All I’m going to say is ROBOTS.
- Flatline was just announced but it isn’t the only game by Kane Klenko we have scheduled this year.
- Beth Sobel is illustrating a new original game for us right now.
- We are working on a new game from Daniel Solis.
- Kwanchai is illustrating a new original game for us.
- We will release 2 Aza Chen games (at least) in 2017.
- Chris Ostrowski is illustrating a new original game.
- RGS and Direwolf have more plans for Clank!
- Another Renegade game will come to ios and Android.
- A new game with our partners at Foxtrot.
- A game based on a popular pop culture license.
- I deleted half of the things I typed because I don’t want to tease you too much!
Thanks for reading folks, I hope you enjoyed all my ramblings.
Last thing I’ll say is THANK YOU for playing our games! Without all of you, there wouldn’t be a Renegade.
Have questions about this? Ask me on Twitter @scottgaeta and be sure to follow Renegade @PlayRenegade
Renegade Games Studios Year End wrap-up Part 2
Travel Strikes Back!
Last week I covered the first four months of the year. If you missed it, you can check it out here. This week I start off by looking back at May 2016.
May started out with a trip to Portland to visit a game designer and company that we are working with on a new game that we will be announcing in March. I would really like to tell you all about it now but Sara says I can’t. She’s mean like that.
While in Portland I also got to stop by Rainy Day Games. Rainy Day is one of our biggest supporters. They were one of 10 stores that really went all out with Lanterns and helped us launch it. They provide that retail experience we all want. Well lit, clean, well stocked, and a knowledgeable staff. Steve and Amy Ellis do a great job and I highly encourage anyone visiting the area to check it out.
So after my trip I had to rush back and get ready to head up to Burbank for the Lanterns Tabletop Shoot!
During my career I’ve been fortunate to have visited many Hollywood sets and lots. It’s always fun. I once got to visit the original Thor Movie set and sit on Odin’s Throne, I attended an event in Tony Starke's Malibu house (it’s not a real house btw), and have walked the halls at Lucasfilm. But this was the first time I was on a live set during filming and actually had something to do. I covered my adventures those couple of days in an earlier blog post that you can check out. So I won’t go into too much detail again but I will say that the Geek & Sundry staff, Ivan Van Norman, and Wil Wheaton were gracious hosts and made me feel at home. I even had a chance to sit down with Wil during lunch and show him the final look of Lotus, a game that he had seen the prototype of at Gen Con 2015. Overall it was a fun trip. Check out the old blog post and come back, I’ll wait.
Two weeks after the Tabletop taping I was on the road again to ACD Games Day. This is another one of those industry events where we go and show off our games and meet with the best hobby retail stores in the country. We also had a small crew of folks doing BGG Spring that weekend. It was just not possible for Sara and I to do both.
I really enjoy the distributor open houses and even thought this is now Sara’s area I can’t give up attending them personally all together. I won't make all of them in 2017 but will definitely work a few into my schedule. Talking to stores is super valuable and the feedback I get from them helps us make better games.
Then the next week I was off to Denver for a few days for the Astra Toy Show. This is basically the toy industry version of the GAMA Trade Show. Hundreds of independent retailers attend to see new toys that they might stock in their store. Sara was invited to speak on a panel about event marketing and we were really there to make plans for this year’s (2017) event. Many of our games are good for families but the Indy toy store customer is very young. So we went to see what type of games might be a good fit for these stores. We got to meet with some of the top toy stores that carry games in the country and left with a good plan for the future.
While in Denver we also visited The Wizard’s Chest. This stores is incredible. First of all it’s huge. The top floor is filled with costumes, a Harry Potter department, a magic department (not the card game - actual magic and has a magician there on weekends), about a bazilion pop vinyl figures, and all sorts of plush. Downstairs is mostly games. It has to be one of the largest selections of board games in the country. Most titles are stocked pretty deep. The owners gave us a behind the scenes tour and I would guess that they have more inventory in their back room than most game stores have on their sales floor. We were pretty happy to see all of Renegade’s titles on the shelves and stocked deep.
After a few days in Denver it was back home for a week and then off to Origins! Columbus has a great downtown and I really like attending this con. Our booth is a good size so we can make it open and inviting the way we want.
Our demo tables were hopping with Kitty Paw, World’s Fair, Lanterns, Bullfrogs (get it, hopping!), Apotheca, and even a sneak peak of Lotus if you knew who to ask. About a week before Origins, Jordan and Mandy came up with an idea to make little seed packets to promote Lotus. The idea was that if you planted the flowers now, the flowers would spout by the time Lotus released in September. I thought it was a great idea and told them we should make one-thousand packets. They had planned on making about one-hundred. I didn’t realize they were going to have to stamp and fill each one by hand. Well, they showed up to Origins with about a thousand. That’s dedication! It was definitely one of the coolest promo items I’ve ever used to promote a game.
Origins is like most other cons for us. Lot’s of demos, sales, and meetings. Though the reason I like this one so much is that the meetings aren’t overwhelming. I actually had time to play some games. My favorite game session was when I got to play in a The One Ring Roleplaying session with Josh from Czech Games, Travis from Millenium Games, and Steve from Rainy Day Games. The game was run by Paul Butler! Steve and Josh were playing Hobbits. Now there are adventurers like Baggins (Frodo and Bilbo types) and there are trouble making Tooks like Pippin. I’ll let you imagine which type they decided to play. It was a blast and hopefully we can get the group together for another adventure.
Click the pics to see all the Origins stuff!
On the Monday after Origins a bunch of us had flights later that day so Sara, Zee Garcia, and I went to a museum near downtown Columbus. We were in luck because the temporary exhibit was all about games! Video games but still games! There was a pretty good selection of original arcade machines and a really nice walkthrough of the evolution of video games. It was cool to see lots of old classics right up to some of my recent favorites like World of Warcraft. Unfortunately you were not allowed to take pictures in the game exhibit but I did get some really nice shots of Zee playing around in front of a green screen. Here they are making their worldwide internet premier!
Click the pics to scroll through all the Zee goodness.
July was travel free, thank goodness! I was actually able to spend about 6 straight travel-free weeks working on upcoming games. Gen Con was also coming up in August so there was that to get ready for too!
Gen Con. I’ve been going to Gen Con since before it was in Indy and it has really changed over the years. It has become so BIG compared to even 5 years ago. It is by far the most important show we do in North America. It’s also the hardest on us. This year I spent very little time on our booth. I was mostly in meetings with designers looking at their new designs.
Overall I really enjoy this process. It’s exciting for me to see what designers have been working on and finding something that is a good fit for us. Aspiring designers often ask what we are looking for. That’s really hard to quantify past some very broad guidelines. If I had to give you one answer to that question it would be I want something I haven’t seen before! I know, that’s not the easiest of direction. So really, I would tell you to just bring me what you think is ready to show. With very few exceptions, I’m happy to look at most games.
I think it’s also worth noting that just because we don’t pick up your game doesn’t mean we didn’t like it or that it’s not good enough to get published. Often it comes down to a lot of factors that are constantly changing. We are also always looking ahead. What we have published to date may not be exactly what we are looking for.
Another nice thing about Gen Con is that it brings the whole Renegade team together. Throughout the year we are all working on many different projects but at a con we can get in some really quality play testing and development.
We premiered several games at Gen Con. Clank! sold out the first day. Lotus was sold out the morning of day 2, and Covert and Dicey Goblins got wiped out as well. By the end of the weekend the booth was pretty decimated.
The booth itself was packed and overflowing into the aisles all week. We are actively trying to get a lot more space at Gen Con. Being fairly new (at least the company is) we could only get a very small booth the first two years. In comparison our Origins booth was much bigger and more spacious than at Gen Con. Hopefully we will be getting a lot more space in 2017 so we can have a much nicer presentation for you there and we can fit more stock!
One of my favorite things at Gen Con is one night we have dinner with all of our designers. This was the 3rd Gen Con we did this and the group gets bigger every year. It’s a really nice night to show our appreciation and celebrate all the hard work everyone has put into our games.
I could go on and on about Gen Con. So much happens and we see so many people. Last year Sara posted an overview of Gen Con and you should definitely check it out. Now, I think I’ll let you take a look at a bunch of pics from my phone. This is Gen Con as I saw it over 5 days. Enjoy!
Click to pics to scroll through them.
Well, that wraps up Part 2 of my walk down 2016’s memory lane. Tune in next week as I wrap up the rest of last year and also go over some lesson’s learned, talk about some key people who helped make it all happen, and probably spill the beans on some 2017 stuff!
Sara can’t stop the signal! (or me)
Until next time!
Have questions about this? Ask me on Twitter @scottgaeta and be sure to follow Renegade @PlayRenegade
What a year it’s been. It’s really hard to believe that it’s over!
Renegade is officially closed the week between Christmas and New Years and it’s a nice time for me to reflect and review the past year and to shift my focus 100% on the year coming up. What I’m going to do here is go over the last year a bit month by month. I hope this gives you a little insight into what our year is like for us here at Renegade.
I’ll also share some thoughts about what I think we did right and what I think we need to work harder on and then maybe go into just a little bit of what we have coming up in 2017.
So let’s get started, shall we.
Starting in January makes sense so as I look at my calendar and notes from that month that immediately takes me back to December 2015. You see Fuse had just released on December 13, 2015 so it really did miss Christmas for all intents and purposes. This wasn’t part of the plan. Originally we had Fuse on the schedule for the summer but ran into some delays and eventually had to bring in more help with graphic design. So even though the game released in December it really was a 2016 release for us marketing and sales wise.
Building our graphic design bench was definitely at the top of my list for the New Year. If you’re familiar with our games at all, you will notice that art and design is something we take very seriously. Finding the right designers to help bring a game to life is as important to me as finding the right games.
Fuse started off with really strong sales and continued throughout the year. It’s been one of our best sellers all year and the 4th printing just arrived before Thanksgiving. We supported Fuse heavily with an event kit over the summer and a promo die in the Santa’s Renegades holiday promo box.
Also in January I began my travels for the year by going to Nuremberg Toy Fair, in Germany. I have a love-hate relationship with travel. I’ve traveled a lot most of my life and really do enjoy seeing new places and experiencing different cultures. But I also don’t like being away from the day to day of my work, not to mention my family. I really enjoy being hands on with product development and it’s hard to do from the road.
Anyway Nuremberg was great for Renegade. I got to meet with some new designers and got to see lots of old friends. Some of the groundwork for upcoming foreign language partners began here. It’s a much more business-oriented event. Everyone is in meeting mode and my typical routine is to have a meeting room and new meetings scheduled every 30-60 minutes for several days. It’s productive but exhausting.
After Nuremberg the travel continues in February with a trip to Toy Fair NY. This meeting is again, all about meetings. Mostly with our distributors and non-hobby retailers like Barnes & Noble, Target, Think Geek, and others.
I love New York (someone should put that on a t-shirt) but February weather there is usually cold. It’s also a long show. This year my goal is to enjoy the city a bit more while I’m there. I friend of mine at another pop culture company goes to a Broadway Show every night he’s in town and I’m always envious of that. So, this year I’m vowing to go to a show, at least, one night.
So while all this traveling is going on, behind the scenes we are getting Kitty Paw, Bullfrogs 2nd edition, and Brick Party ready to release. Randy over at Foxtrot is wrapping up J. Alex Kevern’s World’s Fair 1893. This is what keeps me away from the theater when I’m in NY!
Up to this point Renegade was just Robyn and myself full time with what I call the cast of a thousand contractors and very dedicated game designers working on their respective projects. Things were going pretty good and I knew that if I was going to continue to grow Renegade I was going to have to bring in some help. I was overseeing all product development, game selection, marketing, sales, events; you name it. I did everything except the books, accounts payable and receivable. That is Robyn’s domain.
I really do love all aspects of the business but I was going to have to let something go on a day-to-day basis. I decided sales and marketing. In February I hired Sara as Renegade's director of sales and marketing. Sara is a great fit for me. She’s not a “yes man”, (I hate those), she’s smart, hard working, and really knows our industry.
Sara's background is similar to mine too. We both started in this industry as store owners. I eventually went on to contract for Decipher and then brought on full time. I actually hired Sara for her first full time industry job a few years earlier at another company, so I was already familiar with her abilities.
That brings us into March and the GAMA Trade Show. This is a big deal for game companies and stores. It's where publishers go to show off their latest games to store buyers and give them an overview of what they can expect for the new year. It's really a tabletop industry "Toy Fair". My first GAMA was back in 1996 when I was a store owner. Over the years I think I’ve missed two or three for various reasons.
If you are a publisher that sells games to game stores this is a no brainer, you must attend. For new Publishers there are educational seminars and panels. The last few years I’ve been on the “Industry Hot Topic” panel. This past year was about release dates, pre-orders, and pricing as it pertains to game stores. As part of the panel we built a fictitious game with the audience's participation. The point here was to show retailers some of the process and decisions that go into making a game for them to sell. As always it was fun. I kept a running back of the napkin P&L going and in the end I recommended that we not make the game the audience had developed. It was too expensive and our margins stunk!
I can’t even begin to explain how busy GAMA is for us. This was Sara’s official start at Renegade and we were meeting together with all our distribution partners so I could hand-off the day to day relationship to her. We also conducted two Renegade only seminars where we taught over one-hundred retail stores how to play our games, we hosted a designer speed dating, spoke and presented at one of the meals, sat down with some designers and checked out new games, and had countless meetings with some of the best retail stores in the country.
Then we come home and have to catch up from everything that didn’t get attention while we were gone and start following up on things from those meetings.
Oh yeah! Kitty Paw launched this month too and instantly sold out. I could see that the response for this was looking good at Toy Fair so I had already ordered the second printing in February. So even though we sold out instantly our partners in distribution would probably only be out for a few weeks. Kitty Paw would turn out to be one of our best sellers this year. In the first 7 months we’ve reprinted 3 times and it continues to do well.
Kitty Paw came from designer Aza Chen, who is based out of Taiwan. Aza is a brilliant designer on so many levels. His games are light and appealing to young kids but surprisingly challenging for adults. He really hits that sweet spot for a game that parents can play with their kids. Personally it took me a while to get good at Kitty Paw. Don’t let the cute cat fool you. Like real cats there is a sinister side there as well. Kitty Paw kicked off what will become a long term relationship for Renegade as we have the rights to most of his games now and plan on releasing a few a year strategically to build his brand and the line.
March also saw the release of the second edition of Bullfrogs from Keith Matejka. I love this game. It’s such a tight little strategy game. We decided to change the art and give it a more family friendly look. (I like the original art too but felt the frogs with axes might not fit our line) The game has sold pretty well but we learned some lessons here too. The most important is that you only get one chance to launch a game.
We kept running into distributors and retailers that had some of the old version left. I think this is something that new publishers, especially those using Kickstarter, should be aware of. When you “launch” a game and then try to generate all that excitement again many months later, it’s old news. Your early adopters, core base, etc. have moved on. Now there are always exceptions to this but those exceptions are few and far between. We don’t want to ever count on being an exception. So what we learned here is that if we can’t give the game a proper initial launch, we don’t want to do it.
That said, I really do love the design and we are exploring other options for it in the future. It’s really, really good and deserves a larger audience.
The other big thing that happened in March was that Lanterns: The Harvest Festival was nominated for Game of the Year by SXSW (South by Southwest). We were up against some pretty stiff competition. Codenames, Blood Rage, and Pandemic Legacy. We didn’t win but it was really nice to be nominated….again.
That became a bit of a running joke for us all year. We were constantly being nominated for awards but almost always losing to Codenames. Not to say that we would have won otherwise but it was pretty funny. The great folks at Czech Games even invited us to their table for the Origins Awards where Fuse was up against Codenames for Family Game of the Year. Hey, at least we had a fun night with friends!
Wow, that’s a lot going on and we are just getting into April. The big highlights in April were Unpub, the Mensa Mind Games Competition, and the release of Apotheca.
Unpub is really fun if you like play-testing games for designers. This year Renegade was a sponsor, as I’m really passionate about us supporting the design community. Events like Protospiel, Unpub, and Speed Dating are fantastic. They provide a way for aspiring designers to make contact with publishers and hone their craft. More people designing games are only a good thing for our industry.
For two days Sara and I bounced from one game to another playing, testing, and evaluating. It’s a whirlwind of non stop games. I also got to be on a panel about publishing. I love it and we will be back in 2017 as a sponsor again!
The other big event was the Mensa Mind Games competition. We had 3 games make it past the preliminary round of evaluations and be accepted into the competition. For those that don’t know, this is one of the best competitions for games. It’s not just based on the opinion of one or a few people. Or an editorial team at a magazine or website. Here’s how it works:
Minds Games is held every spring and moves around the country. Only Mensa members may attend and publishers or designers with a game in the competition (even if they are members) may not attend. Some Mensa members travel around the country and attend every year. Publishers send 6 copies of their game and 10 extra sets of rules. Only 60 games make it to the final cut that weekend. 300 players are assigned to play certain games and evaluate them using a score sheet that covers everything from art, rules, fun, replay value, and more. Players can play other games not on their list but must at least play their list.
The scores are tallied at the end of the weekend and the top 5 games are announced as Mensa Select games that year.
The reason I like this competition so much is that it’s a pretty comprehensive evaluation and involves 300 players. You also get all the evaluation forms back so you can see how your game scored and comments from the various players.
In 2016 World’s Fair 1893 (co-pub with our development partners Foxtrot Games) won one of those 5 spots. This was the 3rd year in a row that a game I published won at Mensa and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
At the end of the month we launched Apotheca from Andrew Federspiel. This was a game that I first saw in the fall of 2015 and really liked it. It’s fast and fun but has just enough depth that makes decisions important. The game came out looking beautiful as well and made a really nice addition to our line-up.
April also had Sara on the road for some more sales meetings and we were really starting to gear up for the summer conventions. In between all this travel I was in overdrive finishing up all our development and production for our summer and fall releases. Our Gen Con previews and releases needed to be to the printer in May!
Do you see a trend here yet? I’m tired just going back and looking at all this!
Tune in next week for part 2, when I visit the Tabletop set for the taping of our Lanterns episode and then Sara and I head straight into the whirlwind of summer conventions and trade shows!
See you next week!
Have questions about this? Ask me on Twitter @scottgaeta and be sure to follow Renegade @PlayRenegade
Creating a thematic holiday party is a ton of fun and will get everyone in the mood to play some great games! One of the easiest things you can do to set the mood is create a batch of holiday cookies decorated as pieces from your favorite game!
The simple and common shapes in Snow Tail and Lanterns mean it's easy to make beautiful thematic holiday cookies for your game night. Follow this easy recipe for some tasty holiday treats!
You could make these cookies using any basic sugar cookie recipe, or the rolls of pre-mixed cookie dough from the grocery store. If you’d like to try a new recipe, here’s the one I grew up with:
Board Game Party Sugar Cookies
Mix the following together:
1/3 cup soft shortening
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
2/3 cup honey
Stir these together in another bowl:
2 ¾ cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture. The dough will be a little sticky, but you should be able to shape it into a large ball in the bottom of the bowl. If it’s too sticky add a little more flour.
Cover this dough and leave it in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours and it will be a little stiffer and easier to work with.
Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Roll the dough out on a floured surface till it’s ¼ inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Place 1” apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or till they just start to brown. Wait for them to cool before decorating.
Rolling the dough
Lanterns- Using a Lanterns tile and a ruler I cut squares in the dough. you could also measure your tiles if you want to keep your tiles clean!
Snow Tails - If you have any little helpers in the house, they’ll enjoy rolling out the dough and helping decorate the Snow Tails trees! You can find sled dog cookie cutters here.
Lanterns - Use a variety of different shapes and textures of sprinkles to represent the different lanterns. I love the flat candy dots but any type of sprinkle will work. Make sure you have lots of different colors on hand!
Snow Tails -No need for expensive pastry bags! I filled a zipper storage bag with frosting and cut a tiny bottom corner off to let the frosting out in a nice little line. We started with a nice thick royal icing line around the outside and then filled in the middle with a much runnier version. Use a toothpick to spread it into every corner. This will give you a good border and a smooth coating of icing inside.
Customer Service Expert, Stay At Home Mom, and experienced Home Chef!!
Feeling crafty? How about piecing together some fun and playful Thanksgiving decorations using extra game pieces and cards you have laying around? These festive little critters are quick and easy to assemble!
For each of mine, I simply cut 5 cards into long tear-drop shapes, using most of one card for each feather. Using a drinking glass as a guide, I cut a cardboard coaster into a large circle for a turkey body. Tokens made great little feet and heads. Using a glue stick for these, and some packaging tape and glue to hold the feathers on, they were quickly assembled.
Voila! Playful Turkeys complete!
I’m now ready to tape a loop of string to his back to hang him on a wall, or perhaps to make more and use them as place card holders at a party, with my guest’s names written on the Turkeys’ tummies.
I love the autumn colors from World’s fair and the playful energy of Kitty Paw!
Customer Service Expert, Stay At Home Mom, and Natural Crafter!
We're packing up our games and getting ready to go back on the road for one of our favorite conventions of the year! BGG Con, here we come!
We have some brand new games shipped straight from the factory premiering at this show! Be one of the first people to play with the final production copies of The Blood of an Englishman! What's even better than that? Playing with one of the hottest new designers, Dan Cassar! Dan will be joining us on the booth Thursday through Saturday! We are so excited to share his latest game with you!
We have another pretty great surprise for our fans! We know that BGG con attendees love to find the freshest new games on the market. So, we are bringing along a complete prototype of one of our upcoming games, Castles of Caladale to play with you during the show! The designer, Dave Wilkinson, will be on site Friday and Saturday to teach attendees how to play his new and unique tile laying game which will release February 2017. We won't have any for sale, but you'll be some of the first to see this fun fantasy game in action!
We will also have lots of fun promotional giveaways for some of our hottest titles including a limited number of customized Covert character promos and Dicey Goblin tokens.
In addition to this hot new game, we'll also have copies of Lanterns: the Emperor's Gift's expansion to try out and a sneak peak at the Santa's Renegade's gift box. We won't have any of these titles for sale, but you'll be able to find them at your favorite local retailer soon!
For us, the best part of next week will be spending time with you, our dedicated fans. We work hard all year to bring great games to the table. Seeing our fans enjoying our games, makes every long work week and early morning meeting totally worth it. We love you guys. Please come by and say hi!
BGG Con Booth #407
Gen Con is always an incredible spectacle. It's amazing to see so many people in one place that share our passion for games. With about 61K attendees, it's by far the biggest event that we go to each year with a booth, staff and games to sell. It's also one of the most important events not only because it kicks off the holiday season, but also because it gives us a chance to catch up with all our fans, friends, and colleagues in the industry.
This year was especially awesome and we wanted to share our experience you!
Day 1: Set up
We arrived in Indy late Tuesday night and by Wednesday morning we were all awake and ready to work! We found our booth all our pallets of brand new games. Although we'd been working on them for almost a year, we'd never seen production copies of many of our newest titles. It was like the holidays came early! After joyfully ripping open boxes, we remembered that we actually had a booth to put together and decided to dig in.
After many hours of incredibly hard work, our booth staff had created a beautiful booth ready for all our visitors the next day. I'm always so impressed by how quickly it all comes together but we certainly couldn't do it without everyone on our amazing team.
Wednesday evening, we also had a few pre-Gen Con events to attend. Half the team when to the Trade Day demos to show off our new games to retailers, teachers, and librarians from all over the world, while Scott and Sara went to the annual Diana Jones Awards. We were so happy to see Eric Lang proclaimed as the well deserved winner this year.
Day 2: Sold Out!
When the hall doors opened at 9:00 am, only a few members of the press and the VIGs were allowed to enter. We quickly began selling our hot new titles including Clank, Covert, Lotus, and Dicey Goblins. We were busy but under control when we realized that it was 9:55am and the door to the whole crowd were about to swing open. After that, we were basically crushed by people for the next 4 days. It was awesome!
Kane Klenko, (Designer of FUSE and Covert) was a huge help demoing Covert to loving fans. He's so talented, a great teacher, and incredibly humble. Also, he's a pretty darn good spy.
We were also joined by the cutest couple in gaming, Jordan and Mandy. Together, they designed Lotus, which sold out in the first few hours on the first day.
Another great surprise on Thursday was the instant success of Clank! We co-published Clank! with Dire Wolf Digital. They ran the demos at their booth while we sold copies at ours. Our entire stock disappeared before the end of the day as practically everyone who played the demo walked straight over to pick up a copy.
Dire Wolf was also showing off the digital version of Lanterns: the Harvest Festival that will release later this year to iOS and Android. Fans loved getting a first look at the very polished beta!
When the hall doors closed, we quickly packed up to move on to join the Nerd Nighters at their annual charity event for the Pour House. They had a fantastic auction and hosted an all night live stream for the fans at home. Sara was invited to join in and got to chat about Covert with some of the BGG / Nerd Night team. These guys were so much fun and it was great to meet Tiffany in person! It was also a joy to see Andrew (ACE) from the BGG team and hear that he'd been teaching Covert in the BGG Hotness room all day (more on this later!).
Day 3 - One Big Happy Family!
Friday was a blur as we demoed a ton of games and quickly sold out of our last few remaining copies of Covert. We were also joined by a few more incredible designers including Steve Ellis (Dicey Goblins), Christopher Chung (Lanterns: The Harvest Festival), and J. Alex Kevern (World's Fair 1893). the devoted so much time to connecting with fans and demoing games. It was so fun to see peoples eyes light up as they asked for signatures from these incredible designers.
Steve Ellis (left) with a copy of Dicey Goblins, hot off the press!
J. Alex Kevern (left) chatting with some fellow designers and fans.
Christopher Chung (left) carefully considering his next move during a demo of Lanterns.
After a long day at the con, it was time to meet up with some great friends in the evening. The entire GeekDad crew invited us to join them for appetizers at a quite a relaxing event to show off some of our games. They did a great write up about it here. We were so honored to be invited and had a delightful time with their crew.
After spending some time playing games and chatting, we headed off to one of our favorite annual traditions of the Con, our Designer's Dinner. Each year, we gather all the designers who have worked on Renegade games, and invite them to a casual dinner. It's a great way for the designers to network, hatch new ideas, and for us to say "Thank You" for all their hard work. We were overwhelmed by the amount of talent at one table!
Day 4 - Saturday Super Fans!
While we thought all the previous days had been busy at the hall, we had no idea what we were in for on Saturday. It was impossible to move around the booth without squeezing between a loyal fan, a glowing designer, or hard working staff member. In the afternoon, we did a few fun giveaways. Kane Klenko had designed a scavenger hunt for attendees. Each collected clue, granted them a chance to win a free copy of Covert. The clues were tough but we still had a whole spy hat full of entries by Saturday! The winner was beaming with delight!
Jordan and Mandy also spent the weekend handing out Seed Packets for their upcoming game, Lotus. The packets reminded players to plant the seeds so that when the flowers bloomed, it would be a good reminder to check their local store for a copy of Lotus! Fans were also encouraged to share their love for Lotus on social media for a chance to win a free copy.
After drawing a winning name, we spent a few minutes chatting with the couple that won. They mentioned that every year since they got married, they pick a game on their anniversary and write the date inside as a reminder. It just happened to be their anniversary and this was the perfect game for the day! The winners were meant to be!
Saturday evening we finally had a chance to stop by the BGG Hotness room where copies of all the newest games were available for Gen Con attendees to scope out and play. We were told that many of our games were popular there but we had no idea how hot they were. When we walked in, many of our games were out and being enjoyed. We even had a group ask us a question about FUSE only to realize that Kane (the designer), was ready to jump in and answer. It was wonderful to see players enjoying our games even outside of our booth!
Day 5: Humbling Experience
On Sunday morning, we realized that several of our games were really gaining steam on the BGG Geek Buzz list. We had been demoing and selling games all weekend to fans and they were loving them! We had so many votes for so many of our games that we started hearing attendees walking up to the booth saying "I saw these games on the list, will you teach me before I vote?." It was a humbling experience to realize that our games were affecting so many people. Even at a huge event like Gen Con, our little tiny booth was a destination. Our hard work was paying off!
By the time the hall closed, we were honored with 2 of our games in the top 5 and 5 of our games in the top 25 on the Geek Buzz list.
We had a great Gen Con and could not have done it without our amazing staff. Sunday evening we all went out to our traditional Brazilian BBQ to indulge in some well deserve meat on a stick. These men and women travel to exciting events and spend the whole time demoing our games instead of running around the exhibit hall. We are so incredibly grateful for their time and effort. We couldn't do it without you guys!
Thank you all who joined us at the booth, read about our adventures online, participated in GenCan't, and love our games! Until next year, have fun!
Hey there Renegade fans!
So we just returned from Columbus, Ohio where we once again exhibited at the Origins Game Fair. If you have never been to Origins, I highly recommend it. All the major publishers are there and there is lots of gaming going on. Columbus itself is awesome! The downtown area has lots of great restaurants such as Melt (the best grill cheese you will ever have) and Jenni's ice cream (I dare you to try and just go once!)
The Renegade crew arrived Tuesday night and had an early morning Wednesday to get the booth set up and ready for Thursday.
Sara took a break from set-up to go and show Brick Party to Zee!
We finally got the booth all set up and it looked pretty good.
We were showing off some art from upcoming games; Covert, Dicey Goblins, which are previewing at Gen Con along with Lotus and Clank! The booth was really hopping all four days. We were busy demoing Fuse, Brick Party (releasing in July), World's Fair 1893, Apotheca, Lanterns, Kitty Paw, Gravwell, and more!
We were also promoting Lotus by Jordan & Mandy and had a pretty cool promotional item to giveaway. If you got one of these packets of wildflower seeds and plant them when you get home you will have some lovely flowers to put on your game table just in time for the release of Lotus!
Kitty also took home a flower packet along with some other game promos we were giving out on the Renegade booth!
Saturday night it was time to attend the Origins Awards. Fuse was nominated in the Family Game Category. It was up against Codenames so let's just say it was an honor to be nominated. :)
Codenames did go on to win Game of the Year as well so if you're going to lose to someone it might as well be the game of the year! Congrats to the entire team at Czech Game Editions! They even invited us to sit at their table and bought us drinks! Those folks are definitely a class act!
After a busy Sunday it was time to pack up the booth!
Then it was off to dinner with our staff. Our tradition has become Brazilian BBQ with pig and pineapple being the key motivating factor!
That about wraps it up. Renegade had a great Origins and we can't wait to go back next year. If you missed us at Origins, be sure to stop by and visit us at Gen Con. We are in booth #2304 very close to the Family Fun area.
Until next time!
Okay, one more thing. On Monday we had some time to kill before flights and Sara suggested we go to COSI (Center for Science & Industry). This place was awesome and had an exhibit on games! We weren't allowed to take any pictures in the game area but here's a pic of Zee Garcia from The Dice Tower and A GIANT LIZARD!
Last week The Cardboard Republic posted an interview with me that was literally a year in the making. It was really fun to do and I think gives you a pretty good overview of what we've been up to over the lastyear and some insight into what where we are going in the future.
Until next time!