Box content, sales, and being an indie publisher, March 23, 2021
We will start by answering some questions that have been asked on the ongoing - and successful :) - Kickstarter campaign of Mage Noir, which will lead us to offering you more transparency about our views on the business aspects of publishing a game, going on Kickstarter when you are an indie publisher, and why you should only consider backing projects that are financially sustainable.
Why do you only put 2 or 3 copies of some cards in the base box?
This is a question we’ve had a few times coming from some backers wondering why fewer copies of some cards appear in the base game.
We do understand the question, it is quite legitimate. Considering the rules of the game, each card can be put in a deck up to 4 times, so why not put every card in 4 times?
We have a lot of reasons for that which we will explain simply to you in this blog post.
Lowering the entry cost
The first reason we did that is simply because we wanted Mage Noir to be accessible to as many people as possible. Printing cards has a cost and as such, putting fewer copies of some cards can ensure that the price is lower. This change in price can make the game affordable to many more players, ensuring that Mage Noir is played and known widely. You could do the math and tell us, “ok but there are only 17% more cards if you give 4 copies of each.” That is true if you don’t count stretch goals. But even then, it’s not only 17% more printing: there are many things that impact the cost of the game, and the size and weight of the box are two of these. We have a limited number of cards if we want to stay within a 10x10x2 inch box, which has many advantages on bigger boxes: it is convenient, it allows lower shipping costs, and it is a bit more affordable to manufacture. Beyond that, shipping is also impacted by the weight of the game. Under 2kg (~4.5 lbs) the cost is lower.
But we had other ways we could have lowered the base game price:
Providing 2 copies of all cards
TL, DR: the game would not have been playable, and would have felt incomplete.
This would have made sure that if you buy the game twice you don’t get any spare cards and have exactly 4 copies of each card. The problem is that people who received only one copy of the game would end up with only 2 copies of some very important cards. The most useful components like “Blow”, “Seed”, “Flame” and “Drop” would not have been available enough times to ensure fun games, for instance. Players would have ended up with a bunch of spells in hand they cannot play due to a lack of components.
Making fewer cards but providing 4 copies of each
TL, DR: less variety = less fun.
We could also have made far fewer different cards and provided each of them 4 times, ensuring the exact same number of cards but less choice. Actually this would have been the easy route for us. Fewer different cards means we would have less artwork to make, and an easier time balancing cards. This would have made the game easier and less expensive to produce, while selling the same number of cards.
But this would have reduced the number of existing unique cards, making decks less varied and reducing the deckbuilding options for players.
We think that replayability, options and freedom offered to players plays a huge part in the quality of the game. And as a general rule, we value quality above all, thus making this option an instant no go. We want to provide a great experience to our players and our strive for perfection and quality made the decision very clear.
“Quality above all, no exceptions.”
We also wanted to point out that to us, the base box and card content we’re providing in this box is top quality. Even with some cards not available as a full playset, the decks you can make with a single base box of the game are solid decks.
- They are fun to play
- They have a different feel and all bring a new experience.
- They are balanced against one another.
- They are fluid to play.
The concept of fluidity is the most important thing we have to point out here. Most cards that only feature 2 copies are in the vast majority either high level spells that are harder to cast, or cards that can’t be used twice. Drawing a “Crimson Ritual” while having one on the board ends up as a dead draw. Having two in your deck is great for consistency but having 3 makes it more likely for you to end up with a card that has no use in hand. Those are the types of cards we decided to provide fewer copies of, making the game more fun and more fluid to play. Of course some players may find some great decks that will use four copies of Crimson Ritual, but if so they will be very advanced in theory craft and most probably competitive players really involved in the game. In this case, compared to the time they enjoy the game while building decks, testing them, and playing them, then buying two copies will still be a very good deal per hour of fun, especially compared to many games with way less replayability.
But the quality of the game is not the only reason why we went for the option of providing some cards just twice.
The indie publisher status
The second reason is that we are indie publishers. We can only count on our heads, our hands, our ambition and your support to bring Mage Noir to where it could be. We really think the game has huge potential and that it can last for many years to come.
For this reason everyone in the Mage Noir team invested their sweat, their time and their money to realise the game before your eyes today.
And you cannot imagine how happy we are to see all the support you Mages are giving us.
But ambition and ideas won’t be enough to make a great game.
This is also the reason why we went for this business model of a card game with expansions. Players who really love Mage Noir can support us even more by buying the game twice, giving us more means to make the game even greater while getting even more options to play it. It’s a win win situation.
To bring Mage Noir to the next level and ensure that it will be great for years to come, we need funding. To pay for artwork, produce quality material and feed our families while we give everything we have to make this game and create new experiences for you.
Having a successful economic model will give us the means to make even greater things. Co-op mode, solo mode, 2v2 games and many more ideas we have in mind that we just cannot wait to make available for you.
Because you truly are a big part of this project. By backing Mage Noir you are doing way more than getting your copy of the game.
As an indie publisher, we don’t have the safety net that big companies have. This is an old-school Kickstarter campaign. You’re not pre-ordering a game that already exists, you’re really supporting and bringing a new project to life. Helping a team that really needs your help to bring you a game you will enjoy for years and years.
Ensuring the future of Mage Noir
If there is one thing we hate, it’s seeing production of the games we love most being stopped. And we figured it would be the same for you. If there is one thing players fear more than seeing a game fail, it’s enjoying a game a lot only to see it fade away and die. We did everything we could to ensure you’ll love Mage Noir. The best thing we can do is also ensure you will see it thrive after enjoying it so much.
We want to make sure we can keep our promises while still being financially sustainable.
We’ve seen too many promising games have a successful Kickstarter and fail because their creators were dreamers who wanted to please everyone.
We won’t do any promise we aren’t sure we’ll be able to keep. What we can do instead is stay true to our number one rule:
We value quality above all, no exceptions.
Thank you for reading
We really appreciate that you took the time to read this.
The most important thing we want you to remember is that we’re really striving for quality. In materials, gameplay, experience, but also in transparency. We want to make sure our players know our intentions and that they understand our decisions.
We are very lucky to have such understanding people in our community.
Until next time, take care of yourselves Mages, and have fun!
"Nothing to see here, move along Mages huhuhu" ~Khnil