Thoughts on the New Year 2020

Ugh, we’re only a week into 2020 and I am already feeling behind! Slowly suffocating under the weight of all the Big Plans. But I’m sure it will get better.

Big Plans are good, and suffocation is an effective motivating force, I suppose. It’s like the first few months of this year are the culmination of much of the work that has gone into the past 3 years, so let’s talk about all of that first.

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Thoughts on the Old Year 2019

It is always entertaining to go back and read my New Year’s post from the old year and see whether all those prognostications and anticipations have come to pass. And then, of course, we must ruminate on them, and figure out if we can learn any lessons about how things line up.

At the end of the day (or year, I suppose), I am quite happy with how things have turned out this past year. Probably more so than in previous years when I have lamented that I just didn’t get enough done.

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Conquering PAX Unplugged

You’d think that designing and publishing the #1 game on Board Game Geek would make you feel all-powerful, like some sort of god in the Board Game Pantheon, but that’s not really the case. Generally, I feel like a pretty normal person simply leading a pretty great life. Which, on its own, is perfectly spectacular.

But there are moments where get a glimpse at this thing. This weird, magnetic force that reminds me, “Hey, you did this thing, and hundreds of thousands of people love it, and that’s pretty significant. It’s something to feel good about.”

It happens mostly at conventions, when I meet people who tell me how much Gloomhaven has meant to their family, or they ask me to sign their rule book, or I meet a luminary in the industry and they treat me as an equal (not that they wouldn’t necessarily treat everyone as an equal, but it’s still a good feeling).

Of course, there’s a dark side to this thing, as well. There’s a fine line between feeling important and feeling self-important – that you are better than everyone else. And that’s definitely not something to descend into, especially at conventions where your fans should be celebrated.

And all this is to say, there was a moment at PAXU. An important moment, but hopefully not too self-important. Where the was a line of people waiting to have their picture taken with a Frosthaven cosplayer, in front of a beautiful back-lit partition, underneath a giant, spinning box. When all our demo spots filled up as soon as we opened them, and I had just talked for an hour straight in front of hundreds of people like I don’t have social anxiety, because I was talking about the thing I was most passionate about.

In that moment, I looked around the convention hall and saw people wearing our silly Algox horns. From every point of view. They were inescapable. They had infested the entire hall, and it brought me the greatest joy.

We had conquered the convention.

Of course, that word “we” is incredibly important. I certainly didn’t conquer anything by myself. First of all, I’d still be running sad little demos on folding tables and chairs in a 10’x10′ booth if it weren’t for Price. And running conventions is just one of the myriad of ways he has strengthened Cephalofair Games and enabled me to focus on what I am good at. The man is a goddamn wizard, and that was never more apparent than at PAXU.

But there are so many other people too. We could not have found a better cosplayer. Monica from GeeksAGoGo as the Banner Spear was a powerful, life-injecting force at the photo booth, amping up the crowd and really getting into it. The whole photo booth thing was my biggest question mark coming into the convention, but she and her husband Bill demonstrated that I had nothing to worry about.

And then there was Tom Vasel, making sure the other big question mark – the panel – went well. He was very gracious to agree to get up there with me and make sure I stayed on topic.

Of course, there was also our superb convention staff, Justin, Hadley, both Tims, Matt, and Monique. And of course Chris, our event lead, who does such an amazing, professional job at every convention he attends with us. Not to mention Marcie and Kristyn, Price and my better halves, who not only support us in everyday life, but also absolutely killed it on the sales desk.

And at the risk of turning this into some sort of over-long acceptance speech, Talisman Sabre Terrain also needs a shout-out for making the greatest Gloomhaven 3D terrain sets I have ever seen for our demo tables.

But, anyway, if you can’t tell, attending PAXU just made me feel really happy and really lucky to have all these people supporting this great endeavor.

And now that our big announcement is finally out in the world, I hope to use theses blogs to go into more detail about the Frosthaven design process leading up to the Kickstarter in March. There is one more thing unaddressed, however, that needs to be discussed before I sign off.

I’ve been talking for some time about getting the Cephalofair Games web store launched before Christmas, and, well, Christmas is a week away. To put it plainly, that goal was too ambitious with everything we had going on with PAXU and Frosthaven and Jaws of the Lion. At the end of the day, we wanted to do it well, and doing it well is taking more time than anticipated.

For many who have requested replacement parts, it is clear that our customer service has been lacking in the last couple months, and we need to focus on fixing that before offering to sell more things, and especially before the Kickstarter launches. It is being fixed, but it takes time. Right now, we are looking at a deadline of end of February to get the web store up, and looking at the whole picture with all the information, that feels much more like an achievable goal.

So that’s another thing to look forward to in the new year, but for now, I hope you have a great Christmas, even if it is without Gloomhaven merch!

Officially Announcing “Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion”

This will be a quick update, as I’ve already discussed this at length in my last post and the comments of that post, but I just wanted to make the name of the new mass market Gloomhaven game official.

We’ve been zeroed in on the title for a while, but we wanted to make sure the stores we were trying to get the product into were also on board with the name. So we had some meetings in Essen with a couple big box retailers, and they had no notes on the name, so now I’m making it official!

I can’t yet say anything on what stores it will be available in when it comes out, but whether we are able to secure those deals doesn’t change the fact that it will also be hitting normal hobby distribution in quarter 3 of next year as well.

The title “Jaws of the Lion” refers to the specific mercenary group – based out of the Sleeping Lion, naturally – players will be embodying. And I also wanted to formally introduce you to the new fourth member of the Jaws, the human Voidwarden:

After a near-death experience with the Void as a child, which scarred the left side of her body, the Voidwarden made it her duty to protect others from a similar fate. Being touched by the Void has left her with more than just physical scars, however. She can channel the power behind the Void to manipulate the thoughts and actions of those around her. She can also offer powerful boons to her allies, but those boons usually come at a terrible price.

Anyway, I’m really excited to be working on this project. All the art and everything else is coming out amazing, and I think it is going to be a real game-changer, bringing a lot more people into the world Gloomhaven who may have been turned off by the commitment required by the original game, while it will also add a bunch of great new content for existing fans.

Jaws of the Lion!

So I Should Probably Talk about the New Thing

I’ve been trying to crack this problem of getting Gloomhaven to a wider, more casual demographic for a while. Around this time last year I was working on a Gloomhaven card game. Something simple in a small box that would feel like Gloomhaven, even if the mechanics were totally different. I remember play testing it at a convention, and somebody told me that it felt a lot like Splendor, which was enough for me to pack it up and never look at it again.

What I eventually realized was that a watered-down card game with the same name was never going to capture people like Gloomhaven has done. The only thing that would capture people like Gloomhaven is Gloomhaven.

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Tidings of What is to Come

So I was going through my Gloomhaven subscriptions on BoardGameGeek, and I saw someone complaining that I hadn’t really given any updates in a while about what’s coming down the line for Gloomhaven, what’s happening with that “big box expansion”, and all that sort of stuff. I mean, I haven’t given a blog update on anything in a long while, but this topic felt particularly pressing, so I thought, “Yeah, you’re right, internet person. I should update people about what is going on!

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