BattleLore – Of Heroes and some missteps…

bl-100.jpgWith the start of the year, and BattleLore’s one year anniversary just behind us, we thought now would be a good time to recap what has happened, what hasn’t, and what lays in store for this game and its fans.

In December ’06, the game launched and immediately surpassed our wildest expectations, becoming our fastest selling game ever (with the notable exception of Ticket to Ride in the months that immediately followed the winning of the Spiel des Jahres).

While a pleasant surprise, this wave of enthusiasm quickly strained and even temporarily overwhelmed our support capacities. As a result, we spent the better part of the next few months catching up, answering product related questions and putting the proper infrastructure (Online compendiums, etc…) in all three languages (English, French, German) to manage this better and more efficiently going forward.

Starting in Q2, we began releasing expansions for the game, in a format that, for most of these expansions, differed significantly from our initial packaging plans of releasing new units, creatures, … in individual blisters.

This change was the result of feedback from distributors and resellers who made it clear they did NOT look forward to supporting the blister-type of packaging we had initially envisioned. While it may not seem like much, this left us scrambling from an operations and production standpoint.

We did manage to hold to our original schedule and release some key expansions (Call to Arms, Epic, …) on time, but the packaging changes, compounded with the initial wave of support required, had significant repercussions further down the road; a few mistakes were made (wrong banners in one pack, wrong card backs in another) in the rush that ensued, making things worse for us again (sending out those replacement banners does take time from all of us as we’re still a small company!) and for you, our customers.

As a result, some of the other BattleLore expansions we had hoped to introduce later in the year (including the Heroes expansion we’d alluded to as a possible shipping candidate for late 2007) began to slip.

A female sorceress

A female Sorceress

This delay highlights the reason we don’t like to pre-announce products or discuss our plans ahead of time – it seems like every time we do, delays or changes occur and we come to regret the frustration it causes for all of us.

In late September/early October, armed with feedback from customers’ likes and dislikes regarding the expansion packs already released, we made the internal decision to significantly revamp our expansions plans.

We took the fateful decision to shelve our then-current design of the Heroes expansion, and revamp it into something better aligned with the oft-stated desire from customers on the forums to see more complete ready-to-play, background rich expansions, as opposed to the toolkit based approach we had been pursuing up to this point.

While we are convinced this is the right step for the game’s long term future, there is a price to pay for this decision and we are by no means done yet; this transition and product redesign is still ongoing. We do not even have a shipping date we feel we confident we can share with you yet.

We realize this is not the news you were looking for, but we would rather be upfront about where we stand and the reasons behind this delay.

When we release an expansion with plastic pieces, there is often a year that elapses between the original sketches and the final, in-your-hand game pieces that reach your store…

As an example, the Scottish Wars’ figures that are just now reaching your stores were designed at the same time as the entire first wave of expansions (Goblin skirmishers, Dwarven Battalion, ….) in January of ’07.

Doing individual, monthly or even quarterly mould designs and productions are prohibitively expensive so to keep costs and prices down we have to plan far ahead when we make these design decisions.

The fact that some of these expansions may only be coming out now doesn’t mean we don’t care about product or packaging feedback we’ve received in the interim.

A mounted thief

A mounted Thief

In other words, we do care about the game, its future and our ability to fulfill the promises it holds. The road to get there is, and will continue to be, a somewhat bumpy one (and we also won’t ever be able to fulfill everyone’s wish for it, which is why we were initially leaning more toward a toolkit-based approach for the first couple of years, a decision we’ve now partly reversed).

To keep things in perspective it was just 6 months ago that the Memoir ’44 community was “up in arms” about how we had “abandoned” that game to the benefit of BattleLore.

While amusing (in an ironic way) for those of us who were deeply involved then in what has arguably been our most important expansion for that system (the Memoir ’44 Air Pack), it is a reminder that a bit of perspective will help us all keep our sanity while we work to deliver you new games and expansions.

2008 is full of surprises for the core system behind Memoir and BattleLore, some small, some rather large. We will undoubtedly make additional missteps (hopefully small and hopefully not the same ones!) during the course of the year. But through it all we will strive to keep improving the quality of all our releases and the games we love.

As many of you had already noticed, we’ve had no communications of late on the BL blog; going forward, minor updates will be announced informally in the forums for their respective games, and major announcements on this blog. This will free up some valuable web development time as we keep integrating our company blog better with the new online tools we will unveil in the coming months.

We will make additional, product-related announcements (BL related and otherwise) once we have them ready. In the meantime, and most importantly, we wish all of you and your families a very happy new year 2008!

Eric Hautemont
CEO – Days of Wonder, Inc.

This post is also available in: French, German

19 Responses to “BattleLore – Of Heroes and some missteps…”

  1. Niels Taatgen says:

    Thanks Eric,
    We just had a very long discussion on the future of Battlelore in the Boardgamegeek (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/265226), and I appreciate the forwardness in this reply, and a glimpse into the future!
    Niels

  2. ZiNOS says:

    And a happy new year to you Eric!

    Thnx for the much needed update.

    We re BL hype addicts you know :D

  3. Dan says:

    ERIC…thanks so much for the update! I love the game and was really looking forward to those blisterpacked expansions that have apparently been scrapped. I’m wondering what the complaint was from stores and distributors about these…

    At any rate, thanks for the support for the game so far! I’m a BIG fan and will continue to be! Those of us who are BL junkies are nicely reassured by updates like this one! THANKS!

  4. Dan says:

    Ooooops! I meant to add that, as a Memoir ’44 fan as well, I’m IN that community you mentioned that felt abandoned…UNTIL the best expansion YET hit the shelves in the form of the Air Pack!!! If THAT’S the quality of expansion we have to look forward to for B’Lore, I’ll happily wait awhile for it!

  5. David says:

    Thanks! This is a great game from a great company. My family and I are looking forward to all your games and expansions in 2008.

  6. Pat33 says:

    I am so glad to see this update. I have been checking the “Battlelore Chronicles” blog every day since the last update and have seen nothing. I have no problem with the delay of things to better improve them and look forward to any new releases.

  7. christian says:

    love bl, i don’t mind the wait…keep us informed…..thanxs

  8. Old Dwarf says:

    Good News that these issues we care about will be addressed.
    It’s so great to have a real admission that DE Plan didn’t work
    out but steps are being taken to fix things.

  9. Ben Boersma says:

    Thank you DOW for this honest and upfront communication. It is very much appreciated by all.
    Sincere thanks,
    Ben.

  10. Rocket Warrior Penguin says:

    Thanks for the frank and honest update. Very few companies will admit to having trouble and that is a real sign of a good company in my books. Take all the time you need, even if the wait is KILLING us! hehe No pressure.
    Keep up the fantastic work as BL as rejuivinated my desire for board games.

  11. codemonkey says:

    Thanks for the update and the pics! It sounds like things are headed in a great direction… can’t wait!

  12. Matthias_K says:

    I would also like to thank you about this clear update. Honestly telling bad news in a clear and honest way is far better then not giving any news at all in my opinion.

    Best wishes for 2008!

  13. Kluuetje says:

    Thanks Eric, also this kind of communication is very welcome, at least then we know and completely understand your issues. Keep on going with the good work. I patiently wait for the great things to come. Thanks again.

  14. Piotr Jekel says:

    Now, I am more than happy to have traded another game for BattleLore and Call to Arms expansion. I was afraid that there was no future for BL and it seems that it will get a serious boost in the near future.

  15. james says:

    This is a great write-up and a great way to address your customers and fans.

    I am looking forward to more expansions and especially the surprises.

    Good Luck in 08.

  16. Art S. says:

    This is why DoW represents what is elite in the gaming world. Thank you for caring.

  17. E.R. Burgess says:

    This does explain a lot. I’ll admit to being disappointed that there wasn’t a huge flood of expansions with lots of monsters, different troop types, and more fantastical terrain. Thanks for the information – I was hoping for some more details ahead of my podcast on BL soon.

  18. Edwin Raith says:

    I’m disappointed that the blister marketing approach will not be possible. I looked forward to adding monsters and units a little at a time. As far as “complete ready-to-play, background rich expansions” goes, it makes me nervous. I like to build armies the way I want to and not get stuck buying 6 expansions just to get the 6 or 12 units I want. Now what do I do with all that other stuff? For instance, for instance I love the Halberdiers and Spearmen (pikemen) from the Hundred Years expansion. I’d like to have 4-8 units of Halberdiers and 8+ units of Pikemen. There is alot of extra stuff I have to buy in The Hundred Years War expansions to get the units I want. Not to mention almost $100 for those units! I would prefer to buy units in blocks of 2-4+ units and 2-4 monsters in a pack, with no extras except rules for use. As far “background riich” goes, I can create that. I can’t create the miniatures.
    As a side note: You should keep your customers informed say once a month on what’s going on and what is planned for the next year. It will adjsut each newsletter. It’s a plan not promise. Put that right on top of the next years plan. I really thought something was wrong with BattleLore, as there were no expansions for a while. I was hunting for those blisters, I wanted them, bad. I bought the game 3 times to get units I wanted. I would have felt much better with an honest newsletter. Everyone understands that things go wrong so you have to push back an expansion. Just say so. We understand. Those that don’t would complain about something else, they just have to complain. Who knows why. Send us a Newsletter and be honest. We will understand and it will keep the interest up.
    Ed Raith

  19. Zeal says:

    Eric,

    Thank you for the frank and forthright brief on the situation. I have reverted to mostly lurker as no new news had been out in a bit, and while i may agree/disagree on some fine point (like melt down the excessively protective packaging into more units!) I am very satisfied that your team has at least been spending time thinking about it. I enjoy being an advocate for this game, and the more I know, the more buzz I can generate!

    -Zeal

Loading Facebook Comments ...