We’re less than 100 days away from our next (and biggest and most important) campaign: I·C·E UNLIMITED — where we will be introducing the Second Edition of I·C·E, our flagship title.
So why is this campaign so important? Isn’t it just a straight reprint of our first game?
Well, not exactly…
As those of us who have followed us from the beginning know already, the first edition of I·C·E became (unintentionally) a very limited edition — only available to the backers of the first campaign, and never sold in retail. Long story short, the first edition ended up being WAY too costly to produce on a continued basis, and some rethinking of the game needed to happen in order to keep it a perennial product. Some of the reasoning behind this was already explained in our “Evolving I·C·E: Why a Second Edition” article, but basically some changes would need to be made that would warrant the “Second Edition” status.
TARGETING ORIGINAL AND NEW BACKERS
The exciting part was that having to make this new 2nd edition allowed us to make some changes that improved the overall gameplay. That meant the very first thing we needed to figure out, before any actual campaign planning, was how we could offer these improvements to 1st edition backers. There’s no doubt that without our original Kickstarter backers, I·C·E the game and This Way! the company wouldn’t exist! So they will always be very important to us, and always on our minds with every decision we make.
We knew there would be plenty of original backers that would be perfectly fine with their 1st edition, and wouldn’t see any need for altering it. After all, it was this edition that Mike DiLisio of Dice Tower named his top game of 2023, and which Tim Chuon added into his Top 5 boardgames of the year. There’s been a lot of enthusiasm and praise for the game, but we still feel the 2nd Edition has improved gameplay in many ways and balanced it overall, so those new changes might be something original backers still want.
Knowing this, we did NOT want original backers to feel like they had to re-buy the game all over again in order to experience the changes in the 2nd Edition. They could either keep the game as it was, OR — they’ll be able to get a “Conversion Kit” that easily changes their first edition to the 2nd Edition experience (which means they’ll have both versions of the game to play).
So what will be in this Conversion Kit? This will have new versions of tiles and cards that will replace ones in the first edition, as well as as a large “Valley of the Ancients” floor tile that will replace the final layer of the first edition (which originally consisted of Edifice tiles but are now replaced by a better system of cards that have the same functionality). This Valley of the Ancients piece will feature all-new artwork by Léonard Dupond! We are going to do our best to offer this optional “Conversion Kit” to original backers at the lowest price we can afford, so everyone has the opportunity to play the 2nd Edition experience if they want.
In addition to I·C·E: The Second Edition for new backers, and the “Conversion Kit” for 1st gen. backers, we are also launching the first new expansion for I·C·E: Relics! This new expansion will be compatible with ALL versions of I·C·E: 1st Ed. alone, 1st Ed. with Kit, and 2nd Ed.
New backers will also have a choice of getting I·C·E as just a base game (which is now a more simplified/affordable version with less components), or also getting some supplementary expansions that round out the game and make it more in line with the complexity of the first edition. (Original backers will NOT have to get these supplementary expansions as they duplicate what they already have in the first edition). This was done so that new players could still get the unique I·C·E experience (excavating though multiple levels of tiles), and expand the complexity whenever they see fit later. This more affordable version also helps us much better in getting I·C·E into retail stores, as well as other language versions, which were the most important goals for us all along.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLATFORM: GAMEFOUND
There are many different crowdfunding platforms for boardgames these days. Kickstarter is still a huge one in terms of built-in audience, but there’s no question that Gamefound is the fastest growing platform out there now for boardgames — and what they can offer creators in terms of what is possible to do for a campaign simply outshines all of the others, without a doubt!
We’ve been using Gamefound since the beginning as a Pledge Manager, but then decided to use them for crowdfunding during our 2nd campaign for “I·C·E LIMITED: This Way To the Future.” It was this experience, and our relationship with Alex Radcliffe (Gamefound’s Chief Marketing Officer), that swayed us into using them again for I·C·E UNLIMITED. It’s extremely helpful to have ALL of our projects managed under one roof.
We were also honored that Gamefound chose our project to be featured in their Feast Event, previewing the games they consider the hottest ones to look out for in 2024. This really gave us a big boost that we needed, much further in advance than any of the previous 3 campaigns we’ve done.
MARKETING DONE RIGHT, GIFTS FOR BACKERS
In order to get eyes on a crowdfunding project, it’s essential to have the right kind of marketing. Luckily we’ve been working with the dream team of Antoine Boudier & Magali Moreno over at Agence BAMM for a while now, and they have continued to offer invaluable advice for I·C·E UNLIMITED. We’ve come up with a lot of amazing things and exciting reveals for the campaign, which we can’ wait to tell you all about!
While brainstorming with them, we came up with the free gift for backers who sign up for the launch of the campaign (the I·C·E Foldable Resource Container, to be sold later for €10). Additionally, we will be working with Launchboom and offering a really cool item we’re very excited about for only €1 (also to be sold later at a higher price) — a map of the world of I·C·E, beautifully illustrated by Léonard Dupond, which you can hang on your wall, but which will also provide some gameplay elements.
PREPARING THE PROJECT PAGE
While working with BAMM, we were introduced to their frequent collaborator Denis Hervouet, an accomplished graphic artist who will not only be taking over the graphic design of I·C·E UNLIMITED (continuing the wonderful work that Alexis Vanmeerbeeck began), but also serving as the main designer on the campaign page.
The page is only in a preview/teaser form at the moment, but shortly before the campaign launch we will reveal the fully finished design by Denis, which is sure to knock people’s socks off. And there will be some cool surprises!
Ultimately the page will need to be clear and straightforward, as it will be targeting two audiences: The original I·C·E backers (with the new RELICS expansion, and the optional Conversion Kit), as well as brand new backers with I·C·E: The Second Edition and its supplemental expansions. So we will have our work cut out for us, to make sure each audience knows exactly what to get from just a quick glance of the page!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to see for the campaign, so be sure to answer the Gamefound survey if you haven’t already.
PRODUCTION WITH PANDA, PREPARING REVIEWS
Every great Campaign page comes with important Reviewer and Content Creator videos to give potential backers a better idea of the project, so they can have a good idea of what they are pledging for.
But this isn’t as simple as it sounds. First, we need to brainstorm with BAMM and narrow down the list of potential reviewers. Then, we need to get prototype copies made so we can send them to the content creators!
Enter: Panda Game Manufacturing.
One of the best boardgame manufacturers out there, we’ve already been using Panda for the final production of games. But starting with our 2nd game, FOUNDERS, we’ve also been using them to produce the prototype games as well. While the process takes a little bit longer (than using a local company), it’s ultimately a much smarter solution — as having them do the prototype cuts down on pre-production time of the final product. However it also means we need to finalize work on the prototypes as early as possible. That deadline is fast approaching, so we have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks!! 🙈
And that’s just the tip of the ICE-berg!
There is sooooooooo much that goes into planning a boardgame campaign, that it’s impossible to go into all the details here. Just know it’s a lot of work, and a lot of planning, and we’re working hard to make this our very best campaign yet. 😊