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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Cool Mini or Not

It's a logo that many veteran Kickstarters are aware of. Cool Mini or Not, or abbreviated as CMON, is one of the more prolific KS creators out there. Not as prolific as Game Salute of course, but still up there, with 11 projects created. The projects range from big hits like Zombicide to flops such as Sedition Wars and so on. Much like Game Salute, they're more like middle-men that help game creators fund/produce their games. Much like Game Salute, they've also run into more than few hiccups along the way with regards to their fulfillment and service. 

Before I get into the details of CMONs kickstarters, I feel it is important to know a bit about the history behind CMON. 
CMON is owned by David Doust, who at first glance seems to be a fairly unassuming person. However, that's not all. Before CMON was established, David Doust was the owner of another miniatures/hobby company known as New Waves Mail Order/Miniatures/Games/Mail Order. That all seems pretty normal so far. However, it turns out New Wave was notorious for really really horrendous customer service; often sending out product late and generally not responding to emails. And then there are the allegations of fraud as New Wave folded up much like Maelstromgames did and from the ashes, a new company arose. This being slightly before my time, I can't comment too much on that, but I do know a lot of people still harbor some grudge against CMON because New Wave never shipped them what they ordered and they're out some money. 

That's the basic history of New Wave and CMON, but history is history isn't it? Or is it? As CMON becomes more and more famous over the past few years, with regards to its rampant number of kickstarters, it seems like certain issues are popping up again. 

Quality/Customer Service issues

This is one of the major ones that a lot of people seem to have with CMON. Their communication during projects while the Kickstarter is running is usually spot on, however their communication once it has ended leaves much to be desired sadly. There are complaints that basically months pass by without any new information at all. And that's not even counting the sheer number of delays that seem to plague their projects. While not all of them hit the magnitude of Relic Knights delay, they still get delayed pretty frequently.

And then there are just the quality issues. Like the recent Zombicide Season2 character tracker scandal. What happened was that during the recent zombicide 2 kickstarter production, they forgot to put experience numbers onto the character sheets, leaving them blank. This meant players didn't really quite know just how much XP their characters had gotten unless they used some other form of tracking (and when the number goes up to 40+, d6s don't really cut it). Now, being that this was obviously an oversight on CMONs side and their fault, one would think they would replace it for all the backers who had pledged for their product and paid money about a year in advance for their product wouldn't they? 

NOPE

Instead, they posted this in their update

For those of you who are not already aware, the dashboards on the wave 2 exclusive characters are missing the numbers printed on to the alert tracker. Unfortunately, since the design team normally doesn't use the numbers when playing the game (and instead advancing the trackers in steps), these were missed in proofing and production on our end and only noticed by those of you who do actually find the numbers a necessary part of your gameplay.
Uh....really? Yeah, the cards are a necessary part of the gameplay. You DO need to know how much XP your characters have. The fact is, this was pretty much CMONs mistake and they try to play it off as 'backers are being nitpicky over nothing' Good job CMON. But wait, even better! If you back Zombicide S3 after getting defective products from them in S2, you may be able to get your actual corrected cards with S3. Yeah...wth right?

Breaking Promises

Now this is a huge deal for me despite the fact I live nowhere near the EU. Remember what I said about Relic Knights? It's another project created by CMON that was supposed to be released in May 2013. Yes, 2013, not 2014. It's over a year late by now, which is a huge delay. Due to the huge delay, CMON tried to placate backers by saying they would air-freight EU backers pledges directly to them from the Chinese factory. 

 
2b. EU - fly a small team to China to supervise kitting of each individual EU package (working with our factory partners there) so there will be no packing cock ups, then airship the completed packages to the EU for distribution. Or in simpler terms, we will pack, seal and address your packages at the factory, then post it from within the EU, and that means everyone in the EU will get shipped at the same time.

However, then in their latest updates, they say 
Once packing for all EU orders has been completed, they will be loaded onto a container and shipped by boat to the EU distributor.
Uh...what? What just happened here? This is completely different than what they said before. The best part was this sentence was stealthily tacked onto the back of an update so really, most people might have missed it. 

Not to mention, shipping from the factory was supposed to start by May 21st. Guess what? Most people haven't even received their stuff yet, including APAC region customers who technically are the closest to the factory. Instead, they seem to have shipped a container over to America to fulfill the american pledges and seem to be taking their own sweet time with everyone else's. Good job CMON. I mean, it's one thing to shit over the rest of your backers, it's another thing to completely lie to them. 

I'm not saying that CMON doesn't have some really good games in their line-up; like Zombicide...and Zombicide S2...., but sometimes the treatment of their customers makes me wonder if it's actually worth it getting involved with them at all. While their games are fun, it's unlikely either of them are unique enough that there aren't a dozen substitutes for them on the market. Perhaps even ones produced by companies with less frustrating customer service.