Welcome to my February update covering everything I’ve been working on this past month.
Game Vine ran their “Dexterity Week” series of videos in February reviewing the top 100 dexterity games. I am grateful they named Catacombs 3E their #1 dexterity game. David, from Game Vine, is looking forward to the new edition of Catacombs & Castles.
Speaking of Castles, the Catacombs & Castles 2E “big box” campaign launches on March 9th. There are two upgrade options for existing owners. The Catacombs 3E “big box” and the new Black Box expansion will be available as well.
The preview page for the Castles 2E campaign is here. Please have a look and leave feedback while we can still change things. The campaign page is still a work in progress and nothing (including prices) has been 100% finalized yet.
A draft of the Catacombs & Castles 2E manual will be available, but it hasn’t been added to the campaign preview page yet.
On the pre-launch page for the Castles 2E campaign, you can sign up to be notified when the campaign launches.
The major changes to Castles 2E can be summarized as follows:
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. Added the following ranged shots: giant fireball, ice boulder, hook, lightning.
5. Dedicated cards for Catacombs 3E compatibility.
6. Castles 2E hero portrait and rules cards are included for the King’s Champion, Royal Archer, Wraith Knight, and Shaman increasing the roster from 8 to 12 heroes.
7. First edition hero rules cards and ability cards to be included (those that know how to play Castles 1E can still play that version of the game without having to retain any cards from the first edition printing).
From the draft Castles 2E Kickstarter campaign FAQ, here is a summary of the proposed rule changes in Castles 2E:
I’m also considering including a one versus one (1v1) variant.
I’m not going to put the now ambiguous “friendly shipping” logos on the Castles 2E Kickstarter campaign page, though I will make it clear that we expect to ship the games from within the UK to backers in that country and from within Germany for backers in the EU.
I am continuing to research the forthcoming implementation of the EU wide VAT reforms (expected the 1st of July) including the wider roll-out of One Stop Shop (OSS). This article from the European Commission offers a good overview of the VAT in Europe as it stands today:
The Value Added Tax, or VAT, in the European Union is a general, broadly based consumption tax assessed on the value added to goods and services. It applies more or less to all goods and services that are bought and sold for use or consumption in the European Union. Thus, goods which are sold for export or services which are sold to customers abroad are normally not subject to VAT. Conversely imports are taxed to keep the system fair for EU producers so that they can compete on equal terms on the European market with suppliers situated outside the Union.
Value added tax is
This article from December 2017 (also issued by the European Commission) is recommended reading as it explains the decisions behind the VAT reforms including regulating online marketplaces (Amazon, eBay), the One Stop Shop, and the abolishment of the 22 euro de minimis threshold for goods sold into the EU.
Regarding the Castles 2E campaign, I state clearly with each pledge level that the displayed price (in Canadian Dollars) should be considered exclusive of VAT for backers in the UK and EU. This should avoid any unpleasant surprises (Exhibit A: Massive Darkness 2).
Furthermore, unlike our previous Kickstarter campaigns, I’m integrating a FAQ section directly into the main Castles 2E campaign page. The Kickstarter FAQ functionality is, frankly speaking, lacking: no formatting, no live links, entries have to be re-ordered using an awkward AJAX driven drag and drop interface, and you can’t edit the FAQ page prior to launch.
The annual Lunar New Year holiday is over and our factory representatives in China have already been in touch with us to say they are back to work.
Despite this, severe capacity challenges persist in getting goods out of China.
The following was reported to me from our freight forwarder:
There could be missed sailings due to vessel slidings due to the continued operational delays especially in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area. All are keeping a close eye on how the situation in Asia is developing with truck availability and factory closures around the holiday period. Currently trucking is the primary bottleneck with availability reported as low as 10-20% of normal as a result of the holiday. Only slight improvements are expected heading into March.
In Los Angeles/Long Beach, there are significant wait times as vessels queue to enter the harbor as a result of the continued strong demand and labor ganging restrictions on vessels (due to labor shortage). Similar pressures, albeit not nearly as significant, are seen in Vancouver, Savannah and other USEC ports. The wait times vessels are facing at port destinations continue to impact the availability of vessel capacity in Asia as vessels are unable to return on schedule. This is resulting in an increased amount of slide sailings and delays, but it is important to note that it’s not a result of a change in outlook around demand strength. An increased number of COVID cases amongst seafarers is also impacting some vessel ops and thus availability of vessel capacity.
While the initial shortage was for 40′ container types, the duration of demand has resulted in shortages of alternate sizes as well being used for substitution. 20’s and 45’s are limited in specific areas and 40′ NOR (Non-Operating Reefer) also have restricted availability. Repositioning will remain a focus moving forward tied to plans for additional in-fleeting of equipment in March and April. These additional boxes deployed into the equipment fleet will not solve the equipment issues being faced, but it will help reduce some of the pressure.
Based on the abovementioned trends, we expect the current challenges to continue throughout Q1. The focus remains on ensuring coverage for the demand out of Asia while balancing schedule reliability issues and mitigating port operational delays as best as possible.
The following update comes from Apex Logistics in their February Week 8, 2021 update:
Market Update for Week 8
The next printing of the Cavern expansion is finished production and waiting to be shipped from the factory (no change from last month’s report).
The next printing of Catacombs 3E (R3P2) (the retail version) will be completed after the Lunar New Year holiday. The factory is in the process of resuming operations.
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 (like in Catacombs 3E).
We decided to add additional buildings to the game including the Stables, Wyvern Roost and Wishing Well. We continue to thoroughly play test this new content.
The Monster Pit Underworld Adventure will be a new Catacombs 3E compatible core box. In February, I was able to work further on the text of the manual. I also posted artwork of some new characters and weapons on Instagram.
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 and the fact that the Castles 2E Kickstarter campaign will launch next week, I decided to make the Black Box expansion available via that campaign.
I’m sure that backers in the UK and Europe will want to consolidate everything into as few a shipments as possible.
For those who haven’t seen them yet, here are the Dropbox links for the Black Box manual and cards:
Click here to watch a quick unboxing video of the Black Box production sample.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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:
Phantom Division, designed by Mark Thomas and Pete Ruth, is expected to be released on Kickstarter or perhaps Gamefound this year.
In February, I contacted Gamefound by email again. It appears they will run several live, test campaigns first. Then they will open their platform up to all creators this summer. Given the opportunity, I would like to use Gamefound for the Phantom Division campaign.
This month we made progress on the wall system for Phantom Division.
This is one of the trickiest aspects of the game as the walls need to integrate properly with the neoprene playmats and must be efficient to set up between missions.
We originally considered using plastic stands in conjunction with die-cut cardboard (similar to the Elzra Wall System included with our Catacombs line of games). However, we are now exploring using a fully plastic wall system.
The renders below give you some idea how these walls could look with the “warehouse” map. Note that these renders show “work in progress” and not a final design. Also, the parts for the door frames are not included.
For any comments, questions, feedback, you can email me at email@example.com, but please give me a chance to respond due to the high volume of messages I receive.
Finally, just FYI, I periodically post photos and artwork of what I’m working on via Instagram.
Thanks again for all of your support,