Dice Tower 2021 Campaign

Although the Dice Tower’s 2021 Kickstarter campaign is winding down, I wanted to report that we completed all of the Catacombs 3E item cards and gave the set a name: Weapon Cache. Of course, like our other Dice Tower mini-expansions, these will be available later directly from our online shop.

The items are the root wand, javelin, morning star, goblin throwing axe, skullcrusher, crossbow, and orc war blade.

UK and EU Regulatory Changes

I’m continuing to track the UK and EU regulatory changes related to VAT. For the UK, these changes came into effect on the 1st of January, 2021. For the EU implementation will begin on the 1st of July (unless delayed).

For Elzra’s Kickstarter (and other crowdfunding) campaigns, I’m going to make it very clear in the pledge level box that the price displayed is exclusive of VAT, so there are no unpleasant surprises.

It is also important to understand that the customer’s VAT is calculated on both the product and the shipping required to deliver it.

I’m not going to play with fire and put the “friendly” logos on our campaign pages, though I will make it clear that we will ship from within the UK to backers in that country and from Germany for backers in the EU.

Elzra is already registered for the VAT in the UK, but I still have to register for Germany. The German tax office expects you to submit a monthly return until you demonstrate to them that you are a reliable actor. This will mean extra paperwork for me submitting zero returns each month.

I attended a webinar this week to learn more about these changes. Over 50 other publishers / actors in the Kickstarter tabletop games industry were on the call and there was a spirited discussion afterwards for over an hour. Below are some slides from the webinar:  

As I wrote in my previous newsletter, these changes are unavoidable and will affect all crowdfunding campaigns in 2021. Pay extra attention to the campaigns that don’t mention anything about any of the above.

Shipping Capacity Challenges

As the annual Lunar New Year holiday approaches in the China, the severe capacity issues shipping containers from that country persists.

This update comes from Apex Logistics in their January Week 4 2021 update:


  • Maersk extends FAK (Freight All Kinds) rate to Feb. 14th
  • MSC/WHL extend FAK rate to Feb. 28th
  • ONE indicators point to them increasing Asia base port rates by few hundred $ in Feb.
  • Rate levels for USWC around $4,000 and USEC around $4,700 from China Base Ports
  • A few extra loaders are being deployed in February to help BCO’s demand, however carriers are only willing to accept premium service request to US Base Ports. No IPI, only Port to Port movements, all in effort to release BCO pressure with space demand.
  • Equipment shortages still an issue, and vessels still experiencing heavy delays at origin
  • Carriers reducing FAK space to allow for demand of premium containers before CNY
  • Premium space now available for Week 7 + 8
  • Many drivers leaving for CNY holiday creating truck challenges for next 2 weeks
  • THE Alliance has announced the blank sailing program for Feb and March (Aron: read more about Shipping Alliances here)
  • Congestion at Port LA/LB (USA) taking 2 days to berth + 3 days min. until container’s available


  • China Air Market volume is increasing, and rates are up by 20-40% over last week
  • Capacity is fully booked for this week, shifting ocean to air (Tesla, Samsung) and rush of electronic products since month end approaching.
  • CNY holiday starting Feb. 11th, most factories will ship out cargo next week, but China govt. agencies are urging companies to give bonuses to migrant workers to stay and work instead of going home. Many Chinese factories will be producing exports for European and North American consumers rather than shutting down for Lunar New Year celebrations,
  • China to EU: Demand for masks is surging again, high demand before CNY holiday push the market price up, especially for volumetric cargo
  • Apex looking for dense cargo from PVG to JFK, & loose carton space available for BUP
  • LAX – ORD – JFK still have COVID related labor shortage, causing longer wait times
  • BUP Breakdown times are 24-48 hours on average CI, BR, and CZ are getting worse
  • JFK has driver + truck shortages and the issue is driving higher drayage rates

Cavern of Soloth

As a reminder to everyone, the next printing of the Cavern expansion is finished production and waiting to be shipped from the factory. As a result of the shipping capacity challenges described above, I’m continuing to hold Cavern of Soloth at the factory until after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Catacombs 3E

The next printing of Catacombs 3E (R3P2) will be completed after the Lunar New Year holiday. All of the components have been produced with final assembly to be scheduled upon the factory resuming operations. The new printing of Catacombs 3E will ship with Cavern of Soloth.

Catacombs & Castles 2E

I decided to launch this Kickstarter campaign for Catacombs & Castles before Monster Pit, as I feel this new version of the game is in good shape and nearly ready to go.

The second edition of Catacombs & Castles will see the game board replaced by a playmat. I am including separate cards for Catacombs 3E so the Integration Guide will no longer be required.

Click here for the Kickstarter pre-launch page.

Last March, I posted the changes I was planning for the second edition of Castles on BGG.

Below is an excerpt that post summarizing the changes for the second edition. Note, although this list looks lengthy the key changes can be summarized as:

1. A playmat replaces the game board.
2. Heroes all have their own unique native ability (just like in Keystones etc).
3. The net/web rules have been changed such that characters are not trapped.
4. The giant fireball / ice boulder are included.
5. Dedicated cards for Catacombs 3E compatibility.

There are 6 character shots, 12 ranged shots, and 2 special shots (open portal, runic shift).

Manual Grapple vs Claw Shot Changes

Remove references to claw shot, both versions of this shot (unmodified and modified) will be referred to simply as the grapple shot.
Add void transfer to the unmodified grapple shot
Retain claw shot icon for the modified grapple shot that also enables a health transfer

Manual Shot Changes

Remove references to unmodified ice shot, only retain the target ice version
Add rules for giant fireball, ranged shot, inflicts 2 damage
Add rules for ice boulder, ranged shot, inflicts 1 damage
Shields: Catacombs 3E shield rules replace Castles shield rules (harmonizes both games)
New rules for net shot
New rules for web shot
New rules for shuriken shot: if shot hits opposing character (does not have to inflict damage), player performing this shot can choose to perform a rush shot (thematically like the ninja disappears)
New rules for longbow shot: this shot can be performed from the location of any teammate (harmonized with Catacombs Conquest rules)


Proposed box dimensions for retail version increased to same size as Kallax friendly Catacombs 3E retail (12.8″x12.8″x3″)

Proposed box dimensions for “big box” version increased to same size as Kallax friendly Catacombs 3E (with playmats) (12.8″x12.8″x6.4″)


Single sided, 24×24″, cut in two halves (retail)

Double sided, 24×24″, cut in two halves (big box)

Card Changes

Cards: revise “cost” of ability cards
Cards: Remove all Catacombs 3E item usage icons from hero rules cards
Cards: Remove all Catacombs 3E health icons from top right of hero rules cards
Cards: Remove all mercenary icons from top left of Castle Lord and Catacomb Lord rules cards
Cards: As mentioned previously, implement native abilities for all base game heroes, these will replace the recommended ability cards stated on all hero rules cards
Cards: include dedicated set of cards when playing with Castles characters in Catacombs 3E.

In addition to the second edition cards, I’m expecting to include the first edition hero rules cards and ability cards.

Catacombs Monster Pit

Taking feedback from the backers, both Monster Pit Adventures will be packed in separate boxes.

The Monster Pit Overworld Adventure supports solo, fully co-op, and 1-vs-many play with a player controlling one of the five Catacombs Lords just like in Catacombs 3E.

We continued to make progress on the layout of the game’s manual in January. We also finalized the artwork of the game board.

The Monster Pit Underworld Adventure will be a new Catacombs 3E compatible core box. In January, I was able to work further on the text of this game’s manual.

Catacombs 3E Black Box Expansion

The alternate monster cards that were originally going to be included in Monster Pit have been moved to the Black Box expansion for Catacombs 3E along with a new playmat.

As a result of the shipping capacity challenges described above, mass production of the Black Box will be completed at factory after the Lunar New Year holiday. All of the components including the wood parts and playmat have been produced. We are waiting on final assembly to be completed.

There are 100 cards in total with new rules and shots described in the manual.

Here are the Dropbox links for the Black Box manual and cards:

Black Box Manual

Black Box Cards

Catacombs Conquest Event Horizon Expansion

I am continuing to work on a new expansion for Catacombs Conquest called Event Horizon. There is an unlisted Tabletop Simulator Mod where you can try this expansion out.

If you are able to, please give the Conquest + Event Horizon TTS mod a try and let met know your feedback – email me at aron@elzra.com. I would really appreciate this.

I’m primarily interested in the game itself, not the implementation of the mod as support for flicking games in TTS is still a bit rough.

If you wish to look at the work in progress manual and cards, here are the Dropbox links:

Event Horizon Rule Sheet

Event Horizon Cards

Phantom Division

Phantom Division, designed by Mark Thomas and Pete Ruth, is expected to be released on Kickstarter (or perhaps Gamefound?) this year.

This month, we requested samples for the seven playmats that are going to be included with the game.

The two smaller playmats are connected to the bigger ones during certain missions in the game.

These samples will allow Mark to continue his testing. They will also allow us to test the system for securing the walls required to play the game. One challenge we are working to address is to ensure that each mission is efficient for players to setup so they can get playing quickly.

Get In Touch

For any comments, questions, feedback, you can email me at aron@elzra.com, but please give me a chance to respond due to the high volume of messages I receive.
Thanks again for all of your support,