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Friday, 11 April 2014

Guardians Chronicles

It seems like everyday, there's always some new issues on Kickstarter....

Right, a brief background. Guardians Chronicles was a board game with miniatures that was funded on Kickstarter on Jun 18 2013. It asked for 40k in funding and got 120k. It was supposed to be delivered on October 2013 and as of now is 7 months overdue with no end in sight. The creator on the KS page is listed as IELLO; of King of Tokyo fame. They're a fairly prolific publisher and have a fairly wide repertoire of boardgames under their belt.

However, just being late isn't enough to really qualify for Kickstarter drama now, since most KSes end up being late somehow. Seriously, other than Mantic, I can count the number of Kickstarters I've backed being on time on one hand. Instead, the tale of the Guardians Chronicles is a strange and apparently twisty one. 
Who is this man?
Originally, despite the KS page saying that the project creator was IELLO, it turns out that someone known as the Red Joker was behind the game, being the creator for the game as well as the one who mostly communicated with backers during the KS. However, sometime between October to March, something happened. The Red Joker was no longer in charge and it seemed that IELLO USA took over the communications as well as production management/manufacturing of the project. This needless to say caused a lot of confusion among backers. Heck, it seems to have caused a lot of confusion among IELLO itself. 

But what's gotten the backers into a tizzy is the latest update. Now, let's just take a look at the miniatures they're offering for the boardgame. Those were the pictures on the KS site. These are supposed to be the final masters for the boardgame and painted a pro-painted level, which was one of the pledge options they were offering. Now granted, individual backers may not be able to paint as well as that but they do at least expect the same level of detail as seems to be shown in the picture. But instead they got...this...

Yeah...I'm not sure what I can say. Note that the pose of Dr Skarov (guy in center) has changed between original master and production sample. Obviously, someone resculpted it to look even worse somehow. And those aren't even the worst ones...
WTF is this??
What on earth is this? This is like somebody took playdoh and mashed it together. Kinda. Needless to say, these pictures of production minis are very very disturbing. More so since people backed on the presumption that the miniatures would look like the first painted picture and less like ass. Or whatever these are. What's even more disturbing is the fact that some of these minis are going to cost backers 15usd PER mini because they were add-ons and not included in the box. 

Needless to say, the backers lost their top. There were many accusations thrown at IELLO, including the fact that IELLO had previously switched the miniature production material from Resin to boardgame plastic. Judging by the details on the miniatures shown above, this wasn't the best choice as the material they chose seems to be unable to hold detail very well. 

Then there's the fact that nobody knows what happened to Red Joker, which made even more speculation fly. People were complaining that he obviously didn't know what he was doing, that he left IELLO picking up the tab for his poorly run KS (brings to mind shades of The Doom that Came to Atlantic City) or that was hired cause of nepotism and so on. 
We have heard your concerns, and we are considering what can be done to address those concerns. We will provide you with an update when we decide how best to proceed. We would like to remind you that as per the Kickstarter Community Guidelines (https://www.kickstarter.com/help/community), we are all supposed to be "respectful and considerate". The anger, personal attacks, threats, and obscenities must stop. IELLO is responsible for the delivery of this board game. We will make appropriate decisions, and we will share those decisions, once we know what we are going to do. Until then, we ask that you continue to be patient, that we all remain polite and civil, and that you allow us the time we need to determine the best course of action going forward. Thank you. IELLO
Of course, IELLO didn't help matters at first by telling people to remain calm but yet failing to provide answers for peoples questions or even addressing the reason why they were so upset in the first place. Instead of telling backers, they were going to try and resolve this as much as possible, they instead said 'we will make appropriate decisions and let you know when we do' to summarise that long paragraph on top. Needless to say, backers didn't like this either. This was then followed by a long period of radio silence until IELLO finally admitted that they were in the wrong. Somewhat. 
We are listening to your concerns, and we are working on a plan to resolve those concerns. We understand that this campaign has been troubled with poor communications, ineffective planning, and other problems that we did not foresee. We've been open and forthright about these problems, we've apologized, and we've promised to correct these issues and deliver an excellent game. Guardians' Chronicles was our first Kickstarter, and our first game with molded miniatures. We made mistakes, and we've acknowledged that these were our mistakes to make. We are the creator of this campaign, and we will have IELLO's name on the boxes. We believed that our experience as an international publisher of excellent board games would help us with this game and the campaign, but in some ways, we acknowledge that we were over confident. Nevertheless, we have high ethical standards, and we are committed to meeting our backers' expectations of IELLO. It may take some time, but IELLO will demonstrate our professionalism and our commitment to delivering excellent products. We have already demonstrated our willingness and desire to communicate with you, and to turn this campaign around. We will continue to demonstrate that commitment. We do want you involved in the process and are eager to have open and frank discussions, without the threats and the anger and the demands, so that we deliver what you have every right to expect from us. Currently, we've stopped all production on this game, based upon your reactions. Since we've stopped production, we can't provide a production and delivery schedule. We are double and triple checking each possible course of action, because based upon what we've already seen, we can anticipate very harsh responses from our backers. Our goal is to ensure that the decision we make best serves the interests of our backers. We also hope to continue the production process and have a final product that we can all be proud of, and pleased with. We make very careful decisions about what games to add to our line, and Guardians' Chronicles was chosen because we believe it will be a solid and popular product for our fans and customers. Developing and producing Guardians' Chronicles has been a very intense effort, with lots of moving parts and a great deal of complexity. We did not anticipate some of the problems we've run into, but we are doing our best to overcome those obstacles, and we are focused on delivering an excellent and well received game. IELLO's senior leadership is carefully considering all of the options, but we haven't made a firm decision yet about what our next steps will be. Our factory representative is leaving on a trip to China this weekend. He will meet with the factories involved with this production, examine what they are doing, and evaluate the best course of action. Ultimately, and without a doubt, IELLO is responsible for the product that we are delivering. Speculations about who is responsible can be resolved simply: We are. We know this may be difficult for some of you to accept, but for those of you who are willing to give us a chance to correct these problems and to deliver the board game that you were promised, we ask that you simply trust us. For those of you who choose not to trust us, we apologize. But for the rest of you, IELLO will positively turn this around. As we've said previously, we will release more information as soon as we possibly can. Thank you for your patience. Russell Grieshop Community Manager IELLO
So as it stands, Guardians Chronicles is in limbo, with no idea of when production will finish, let alone start. What's also uncertain is the status of the miniatures in the box. Obviously IELLO has already sunk a large cost into the miniatures, what with having finished all the renders/sculpts as well as doing sample runs for the miniatures. What's unknown is if they are willing to throw all that away and re-do the miniatures because as it is, the current miniatures are crap. I think my monopoly miniatures may have more detail than that Alison one. Obviously, re-doing the sculpts will yet be another cost IELLO will have to bear that it won't be able to recover. So it's unknown if IELLO is really willing to throw good money after bad in an effort to save the game. Hopefully for the backers it does.