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« Ted Sirlin | Main | Meanings, Pictures, and Words »
Monday
May172010

Puzzle Strike Pre-orders!

At long last, Puzzle Strike pre-orders are available here.

Hope you enjoy the new www.sirlingames.com store, by the way. There are still a couple parts that aren't fully implemented, but it's mostly there, so it's time to get rolling. The actual store functionality is fully working, but the game info and Fantasy Strike sections will change pretty soon. Anyway...

It was a long road to be able to manufacture Puzzle Strike at all. I insisted on keeping the form factor of chips, rather than cards, because it really is better to play a game that requires a fair amount of shuffling this way. It also makes it trickier to manufacture. Regardless of chips or cards, it's also tricky to manufacture *any* game in quantities of less than many, many thousands. My first attempt at indie manufacturing had the retail price at about $800. I made a major breakthrough getting it down to $200. But that's still really high, so worked with manufacturing to find ways to bring the price down more and more.

In the end, I was able to get it all the way down to $159, with another $10 off if you pre-order, making it $149. One of the ways I got the price down was to eliminate the absurd amount of labor involved with hand-applying hundreds of thousands of stickers to these chips. A machine could do it, but would require manufacturing in quantities so high that I can't even afford to do it. Instead, I'm using what's actually a kind of cutting-edge technology that allows direct printing to wood. I know it sounds funny that "print-to-wood" is some high-tech thing, but but it actually is kind of new for this type of application. What's cool is that it not only eliminates hand-labor of applying stickers, but it also means the image can be truly edge-to-edge (usually expensive and hard to achieve) and that the image is really part of the chip, rather than a sticker that might peel off.

I love the feel of the solid wood chips (that come in a very nice custom-designed wood box), but I also knew that even with more efficiency, I would not able to get that price down low enough for many. So I also started working on another version with thick chipboard chips (slightly smaller diameter than the wood chips, also using print-to-chipboard rather than stickers) and the standard kind of cardboard box that normal games come in. Most games that use chipboard have about 0.7 inch thickness, while these are thicker at 0.1 inch.

Anyway, I was able to crack the $99 price point there which was a huge breakthrough. It's still uncomfortably high though. In the end, if I follow the standard practices of retail markup, I was not really able to do any better than $99. After thinking long about it, I decided to just have terrible margins on the standard version of Puzzle Strike. I really do believe in the game, so if I can just get it to you one way or another, hopefully the word of mouth will enable a run of thousands later. The price is $74, with $5 off if you pre-order, making it $69. You get almost 350 chips, 4 cloth bags, a full color rulebook, and a custom designed box interior to keep the different types of chips organized for storage.

Artisan Design

It turns out that no matter how you slice it, it's tough to manufacture small runs of high quality parts as an independent guy. Doing my best here! Also, manufacturing too many copies up front is finically disastrous, so the first run is ridiculously small, at only 300 copies of the standard and 100 of the all-wood deluxe version. Another reason to pre-order is so you actually get a copy, without having to wait who-knows-how-long for a second run. Yet another reason is to support a struggling indie so there's enough cash to even *print* Yomi (will also come out this summer if things go well on Puzzle Strike). I don't like to beg, but if there was ever a time, now is it. I prefer that you think of this whole endeavor as something closer to buying special hand-crafted sword from a medieval artisan than buying a the 80 millionth mass-produced copy of Monopoly at Walmart. I have put years of personal care into these games, into design, balance, graphic design, package design, and now the manufacturing. I'd like to think I'm offering something special here.

Canada and Beyond

Thanks to some experience with selling Flash Duel, I'm finally getting a handle on selling to Canada. Flash Duel is now available there, as are pre-orders for Puzzle Strike. (Flash Duel Deluxe will also be available in Canada in about two weeks.) In fact, you technically could order either of those games from anywhere in the world now, but the shipping will be very expensive. In the future, I will actually store some inventory in the UK so that shipping prices are more reasonable, but we aren't quite there yet.

Anyway, I urge you to check out Puzzle Strike. The wild back-and-forth, 4-player nature of it means it a pretty good party game, even with people who don't really consider themselves gamers. Yet the depth is a lot more than it appears at first glance (much moreso than Flash Duel, actually), so "real gamers" should also enjoy it. Because it supports up to 4 players, maybe you can chip in with some friends if you need to. I recommend the wood version. ;)

Here's that link to pre-order either version of Puzzle Strike. Orders will ship as soon as they are manufactured, which I think will be in July. A few might be done by the end of June. If you order, but need to later change your shipping address, no problem just let me know. Thanks for your support!

Reader Comments (27)

I'd like a bit more info on the regular edition... Are the cardboard chips of the quality that you'd get in other games that require you to punch them out of a cardboard sheet, or...? I can't seem to picture them from your original description. ^_^;

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHermes

The standard version's chips are 0.1" thick, should be similar to other games. And actually, no they don't come in sheets, the chips are already all cut out for you, so you don't have to punch them out yourself.

May 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterSirlin

How long will they be on preorder for? I want to get it but i might need to wait about a month

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSFlu

That's a very good question, and it depends a bit on manufacturing times that I don't know for sure yet. Probably 3 weeks, maybe 4, but I don't know yet.

May 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterSirlin

ok, just let us know when so that we can make decisions please

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSFlu

Having followed your site the past couple of months (found it recently), I just felt compelled to congratulate you getting Puzzle Strike done! Being towards the final stages of designing a board game myself I too have come to the point of, "How the heck am I going to afford getting this manufactured?".

So.. Congratulations! And do you ship to Europe, Finland? :)

May 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

Thanks Carlos. There are sure a lot of factors that go into manufacturing costs. I guess the main thing to know if you're new to it is that if you want at least 5,000 copies manufactured (and I bet you have to pay up front), then many of your problems are solved. The problems you have left are just "I can't afford that" and "this is a ticket to disaster if no one buys." I have heard a whole lot of stories of new games and companies that made thousands of copies right off the bat and lot tons of money.

It's safer to start smaller and then take the jump to ordering many thousands once you know what you're doing, and once you have established at least some presence. The whole thing is probably a terrible way to go about making money, so it helps to be unreasonably determined to ship your games no matter what. That attitude helps you ship them I meant, not helps you make money. That's another matter entirely!

By the way, yes my products can ship anywhere now, but the shipping is probably unreasonably high outside of US and Canada. If you're a retailer or distributor that wants at least 20 copies of something, contact me and I'll make it happen. In time, I'll have inventory actually in the UK so shipping will become less crazy to customers there.

May 22, 2010 | Registered CommenterSirlin

So, you're saying your margin is about three times as good on the wooden set? This might be enough to convince me to upgrade.

I'm assuming the wooden chips are at least pretty standard - meaning if I dig around I should be able to score some identical to the touch to make custom characters, right?

Do you have a picture of "sample" components - even blank ones?

May 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArchon Shiva

Well wood is wood, but the chips are cusstom cut out of wood sheets so I don't know about you getting "identical" ones. And even if you did, yours wouldn't have print-to-wood logos on the back. I was able to include blanks though, there will be "however many blanks nice flit in the chip holder" which I think is 10.

May 23, 2010 | Registered CommenterSirlin

Hi, I'm a reader from New Zealand.
I would love to get a copy of this game, but I'm finding it difficult to justify $52 US in shipping (for the basic version).
Have you considered shipping them personally? I think you could do so for much cheaper, and I would be more happy to pay it if I knew you were getting more money out of it at the end.

Thanks.

ps. That image in this news post is huge. New Zealand internet is crap - you should resize and jpegize it :)

May 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeander

Leander: can you try something for me? Put the items in your cart as if you are going to buy (don't actually have to buy though) and check the shipping again. Tell me if the $52 is from "Canada Post Express" or some shipping option that says Canada in it. I noticed a couple customers from the UK were having this same problem, where the system was trying to ship to them from Canada (which is certainly possible) instead of from the US (which is substantially cheaper). I have a support request in to try to resolve this. Anyway, let me know if it's claiming that shipping option is from Canada or from US.

Sorry about the large image in the post. I thought it would only load the large image if you CLICK on it. Will look into that.

May 23, 2010 | Registered CommenterSirlin

Sure.

The two options I get are:

USPS Priority Mail International - $51.59
UPS Saver - $130.85

May 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeander

More weird posting stuff. I have three FedEx Ground options at the same price.

Canada Post Expedited Parcel - $9.57
FedEx Ground - $12.69
FedEx Ground 2 - $12.69
FedEx Ground 3 - $12.69


Oh, and thanks for sharing about pricing and stuff. You got me on-board for the wooden set, which I just ordered.

May 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArchon Shiva

I recently purchased Flash Duel and have been having an absolute blast with that. If I can find it in my budget, I am definitely getting a wood version of Puzzle Strike. With any luck enough people hear how awesome your games are and I can buy the next versions of these at Target. ;-)

May 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDerek

You had me at 4-player. I was considering it before, but my gaming group has been in need of new multiplayer games, and this should be excellent. My current residence is not great to mail to though, so I'm going to work out something with a friend/family member and place the order in a few days.

I also know of probably the best gaming store in the lower mainland of British Columbia: Imperial Hobbies. Perhaps I can talk to them and they may be interested in grabbing a few copies of Puzzle Strike (and perhaps flash duel; I can't wait for the deluxe version of that to become available for the more affordable shipping price up here in Canada).

May 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSparton

Looking forward to hear when you have stock for the UK!

May 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommentertheSAiNT

Derek, you had "an absolute blast!" wow!

theSAiNT, I will definitely tell you when UK has inventory. Will be a while, but like I said earlier (somewhere?), I'm going to start with a test shipment of Flash Duel Deluxe in about 3 weeks or so. The Puzzle Strike if that works.

May 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterSirlin

5,000 copies huh? Good to know, it actually didn't occur to me to check larger runs. I've done some price checks for 1,000 & 2,000 copies.

And as for the shipping, if you're going to have inventory in UK I think I'll wait for that and see what sort of shipping fees that will amount to.

May 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

Any chance of giving the game as cards for print-and-play... I will probably buy the wood version, but I want to get some playtests done with my group before spending $150.

I'd even pay similar to what you did for Flash Duel for the PDFs.

June 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpandaemonium

I was not planning to make a print-and-play version of Puzzle Strike. What would it look like even? You mean redo all the chips as cards? If so, with no art? (Because there is no card art). Also, all the chips are viewable here:
http://sirlin.myshopify.com/pages/puzzle-strike-chip-images

But you mean in a nice printable form, laid out in pdfs I think. Describe what you had in mind and I could consider it, but I dont' really know how I would do it for Puzzle strike.

June 7, 2010 | Registered CommenterSirlin
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