KS Update #23: Gen Con and Final Fulfillment

Hello friends!

First off, I want to thank you all for helping us make this game a reality. Without you standing behind us and our game none of this ever happens. Thank you!

Final Fulfillment Updates

Me with the pallets we air-shipped into Gen Con for the show. :)
Me with the pallets we air-shipped into Gen Con for the show. πŸ™‚

Folks in Australia and most of Asia should have either already received their copies or should be getting them in the next few days. πŸ™‚

For US Backers, the warehouse has started unpacking the games from the pallets and are prepping them for shipping to your house. They will begin to ship out next week, and should arrive on your doorstep by the end of the month.

For EU Backers, GamesQuest has received your pallets of games and are prepping them for shipment to your house. Folks closer to the UK will get their games first and folks further way in central Europe will take a bit longer, but the games are on the way.

For Canadian Backers, Snakes & Lattes will be getting pallets of games in a couple weeks and they will ship out by the end of the month. You should get your games either during the last week of August or the first week of September.

I am monumentally proud of the fact, that as a new company we were able to hold onto our promise for final delivery. It shows us that the incredible amount of care and planning we put into this, and the partners we chose to work with were the right things to do. πŸ™‚

Why Games Quest?

I understand there has been some hesitation and anxiety around our choice to use Games Quest to ship games in Europe. After a few of you reached out to us about problems they had with other campaigns we went into investigation mode, speaking with both Games Quest and Quartermaster Logistics directly. The story goes that Games Quest a couple years back, had a really rough year where they over-promised, over-committed, and then suddenly lost vital personnel who were managing this projects. This lead to Games Quest partnering with various folks on an “emergency contract” basis who did not put much care into how they handled shipping things to backers.Β 

I discussed this situation with QML at length and they assured me, in working with Games Quest that Games Quest has put several measures in place to prevent anything like this happening again in the future. Here are a few of them:

  1. They hired not 1 replacement Project Manager, but 3 and put redundancies between them so projects are no compromised by someone getting sick, leaving the company, or otherwise being unavailable.
  2. Regular *weekly* check-ins between QML and Games Quest to ensure projects are delivered on-time and at a high quality.
  3. Ongoing training and a commitment to process improvement around training folks who are new how to properly pack out games and quality checks along the way to ensure standards are exceeded in every way.
  4. QML and Games Quest will be sending us “pack out” example pictures showing us exactly how they will be packaging the games so we (Parallel) can be confident that there is a very low-risk of damage during final shipment to backers.
  5. We also reached out to a few other creators who recently used Games Quest and they all had positive things to say about the quality of the shipments and customer support that Games Quest provided them.

So given the crystal clear transparent communication by QML, and Games Quest understanding their past failures, admitting to them, and instituting changes to prevent them from ever occurring again, paired with other recent creators and backers great experiences with them, we are confident in using them. I think everyone deserves a second chance, and I think Games Quest has gone above and beyond in proving their capabilities here.

We will post pictures of how they are packing games in a future update to help lessen anxiety around their handling of your games. πŸ™‚

Gen Con 2019

I wish I took more pictures. :(
I wish I took more pictures. πŸ™

Oh man! What an event! It seems like I blinked and it was over. Pure chaos, fun, excitement, anxiety and awesomeness all rolled into four days. πŸ™‚ I loved every minute of it.

My partner Erin and I drove in Tuesday night with a U-Haul packed with stuff. We queued up for the docks at the back of the convention and unloaded our U-Haul into the booth, before dropping off the U-Haul 5 miles away and Ubering back to the hotel to unpack. We finished around 11 at night and went to sleep prepping for the next day.

On Wednesday, during setup we swung by BoardGameTables.com’s booth to pick up two Jasper tables we ordered for the show. We arrived back at our booth to coordinate setup with Patrick and John at Genius Games to figure out position of tables, banners, sales tables, etc. — Wait…. hold up. Did you say Genius Games? — Oh right. Yeah. I totally just did. πŸ™‚ If you haven’t heard, Artana was bought by/merged with Genius Games at the show! Huge congratulations to everyone!

After setting everything up our team met in the Crown Plaza hotel for some training on how to teach and sell the game to folks where we had pizza, soda, and snacks and just had an awesome time getting to know each other. Finally, we went back to the hotel to prepare for the following day. I got to hang out in the JW Marriott lobby briefly with a few friends and fellow designers before calling it a night.

From that point on everything was just a blur. You know those movies where someone goes on an all night drinking / drug binge where there are time-skips everywhere. That was what Gen Con was like for me. Haha! I woke up Thursday morning headed to the booth, and then next thing I remember was having dinner Friday night with Erin at Fogo De Chao (an excellent Brazilian Steakhouse). After our lovely dinner I went on stream and hung out with Josh & Matt at Twist Gaming where we played through a full game. I had a blast.

Saturday through Sunday afternoon was also a blur. I got to meet so many awesome people, and see everyone reach so positively to City of the Big Shoulders along the way. I want to think everyone who stopped by to buy a copy, or just to check out the game and say hello. I love you all. πŸ™‚

When it's all over :(
When it’s all over πŸ™

Next thing I knew we were tearing down the booth, and loading it back up in the U-Haul. Erin and I decided to stay for another day to relax. The plan of course, was to stay up late and play some games, but alas we passed out exhausted instead. :/ The next morning we hung out in the swanky JW Spa, met some new friends, and decompressed from everything before hoofing it back to Columbus.

By far, this is both one of the best Gen Con’s I’ve every experienced and also I think the fastest one. It was here and gone in a flash. πŸ™ I could have used another week of it.

Overall Gen Con 2019 was a monumental success for us. We brought 2 pallets of games, and sold through 2/3rds of our stock gaining us nearly $22,000 in revenue which thankfully will allow us to put on an awesome show at BGG Con, and give us some wiggle room to explore attending other shows. More importantly, we got the game into the hands of no-less than 40 different reviewers, made some deals with international partners, and landed on the BGG Hotness list. Had we not attended the show, City of the Big Shoulders could have easily been looked over. But now…. now we are going to fly.

Specifically I want to thank Nils Herzmann, Katrina Demeanour, Adrian Jones, Jonathan Sullivan, Izaac Gibson, Alexander Jaycox, Timothy R Warner, Shaina Pardue, Kenneth Phillips, and Heather Harkless for volunteering in our booth and helping us point on an amazing show. Dirk Knemeyer, John Coveyou, Marcus Muller, and Patrick Fitzgibbon for allowing us to share their space at the show.

So, where should we go next? Right now, we’re debating Geekway to the West, Dice Tower Con, and PAX Unplugged. πŸ™‚ Of course, we will be at BGG Con and Buckeye Game Fest later in the year. πŸ™‚

As always, thank you so much for supporting us along this journey. Because of you we get to live out a life-long fantasy in real time. We are so proud of what we created, and even prouder of the community we are building. I love you all!




KS Update #21: Post Origins Recap

Hey friends,

We got some fresh updates for you, hot off the presses. πŸ™‚

Origins Game Fair

Origins was a blast! The con started off with Edward and I crashing what I assummed to be a very important meeting between Clay and the legendary game designer and force behind Winsome Games, John Bohrer. πŸ™‚

Crashing the party
Crashing the party

and thanks to our friends at Tabletop Game Cafe we had booth space to exhibit and show off the game on a budget.


Picture courtesy of @DualWinGames
Picture courtesy of @DualWinGames


At lot of people stopped by to take a look at the first production copy from the factory. It was great to meet you all in person. Sadly, we didn’t yet have enough to sell but we did get a chance to get a few games in with some backers and supporters.


Make sure to check out Punchboard Paradise
Make sure to check out Punchboard Paradise


The Capstone Games room was cold, cold, cold so Clef from Punchboard Paradise (@Punchboarders) convinced me to go down to the Origins merch booth and buy a hoodie. He’s a trendsetter, that one. Clef also was kind enough to introduce me to Irish Gauge (which I preordered) and to Navegador (which may be the first rondel-based game I’ve played that I liked). πŸ™‚

My three favorite moments from the show is:

#1 The family that rushed to the booth to buy a copy “while they still could” after checking out the game in the Origins Board Room game library and playing through 2 rounds. That’s like the best compliment that a game designer can get and it really brought a smile to my face to see them later on playing a second time after the exhibit hall closed. πŸ™‚

#2 Dinner with Edward and Jess from Heavy Cardboard at The Pearl in the Short North along side my girlfriend. It was the nicest, low-key, heartwarming, and storytelling experience I’ve had yet with industry folks. It’s great to connect with other creators as people and just laugh and have a good time. Something is telling me, it might become a bit of a tradition. πŸ™‚

#3 The short form interview with Edward, where Emily finally had a chance to talk about art direction and give input on her perspective for helping make this game a reality. Emily has been so pivotal to this project, and unfortunately she doesn’t get all the screen and air time she really deserves. Her passion for creating great games really shows in this interview. Keep an eye out for her on HeavyCardboard.com. (it should be posted in a few days)


This is the way Emily looks at me, when I get a little too excited about making games. :)
This is the way Emily looks at me, when I get a little too excited about making games. πŸ™‚


Lastly, we were able to meet up with Tommy Hong at Meeple Realty and hand off a production copy of the game, so that he can get started on a wooden insert. Keep an eye out for that one. We should have more news and take pre-orders for that in a few weeks. πŸ™‚

We’re out of money!!!

Well… that’s kind of true. What’s more important is all the important bills have all been paid. We’ve paid our final invoice to Panda and to Quartermaster Logistics. It’s a bit surreal to tell a bank teller you need to wire over 50 grand to someone (and then over 40 grand to someone else, right after that). πŸ™‚

So we’re all paid up at this point! The games are done. They’re being kitted at the factory and loaded on pallets right now. Soon they’ll be on the boat, and not long after — on your doorstep.

It’s the final stretch now!

One last thing…

So… we’ve had it planned for awhile to sport some kick-ass poker chips that match the theme of the game at Gencon in August. When we learned that Roxley was launching their Iron Clay campaign we reached out to them for a bit of a partnership. They’re going to hook us up with chip sets for the show!!! As a backer of the Brass campaign, I can tell you these chips are gorgeous and I absolutely love them. So of course, I backed the Iron Clay Campaign going on right now at the 400 chip Wooden Chest level, and I think you should pick some up too. If you decide to go with the 200 chip set, make sure you also get a sleeve of the $2k chips because it will help a lot during final payouts but otherwise it should be enough for the game. If you play a lot of economic games or think you might want to get into 18xx then the 400 chip set is the way to go.Β 

Check out their campaign by clicking on the image below.

Thank you again for your support and for backing City of the Big Shoulders!Β 

We hope to see you at Gencon!






KS Update #20: Production, Translations, and Tarrifs, Oh my! :)

Hey friends,

I’ve got a few updates to share. Well… more than a few. πŸ™‚

Things have been moving steadily along, and without hiccups since we approved the Pre-Production Copy a few weeks ago. We’ve been in the mass production stage for the last couple weeks and are now prepping freight shipping with Panda, OTX, and QML. So all our planning up front paid off and it’s smooth sailing (literally) from here. πŸ™‚

We will have an MPC at Origins Game Fair, and will be demoing the game out of the Tabletop Game Cafe local retailer booth. Please come see us and check out the game. You won’t be disappointed!

Rulebook Translations

You guys really stepped up on this one. Thanks to all the help and hard work from the folks who offered to help us, we’ve finished the first round drafts of the rulebook for Italian, Polish, Thai, Swedish, Chinese, Greek, Dutch, Portuguese, and French.

I’d like to introduce you to a few of the folks who are coordinating the rulebook translations.









Unfortunately, the Spanish, German, Korean and Russian rulebooks were not able to be finished in the first round drafts although some progress has been made on all but the Russian rulebook. If you want to help, please shoot me a private message through Kickstarter. We are offering a free game to our principal translators who help draft the first version, and help with editing based on feedback from our backers. πŸ™‚

For the rulebooks that are done with the first round of drafting and editing, there is another way you can help. Please click any of the links below and review them. If you spot any errors or think there is a clearer way to state a rule, please leave a comment in the Google doc and our translators will work your feedback into the rulebook. Once everything looks good, Emily will take these translations and drop them into the graphical rulebook, which we will publish on our website and on BGG. πŸ™‚

The Tarrifs

This is sort of the elephant in the room at the moment. It’s on everyone’s minds. I’ve heard from a few backers that some other creators are raising shipping prices last minute or asking for more money to help out. We won’t be doing that!

When we budgeted shipping and freight costs before launching the campaign we put in a huge contingency on our costs to cover this in case it happened, and to cover other things that might cause a problem too.

Unfortunately, these tarrifs will end up costing us nearly $8,000 in added costs that we hoped we would not have had to pay. It is harming our business, because that is money we could have spent attending another gaming convention, putting towards the second print run or investing into art on our next game and if any other things pop up in the process, well… now our contingency is gone and we’ll be forced to take out loans as a result. It’s a really painful pill to swallow, but we will get through this!

This will probably lead us to increasing the prices on games we publish in the future. We’re not happy about that, but we want to grow Parallel into a truly special tabletop game publisher, and that means we need to make a profit on the games we make. I think as a result of these tariffs we’re likely to see retail pricing of all tabletop games to climb 5-10% over the next 3 years in the US. Β πŸ™

For now, just be confident that your games will arrive sometime in August, and things will continue moving along gracefully in the meantime. πŸ™‚

That’s all for now. To summarize: Production is good. Shipping is good. Translation is moving along, and we need your help. Tarrifs are bad, but we’ll manage and get through it. πŸ™‚

Thank you again for supporting us and our dream to make excellent, beautiful, and challenging games. It means the world to us, that we get to do this and it’s all because of you! <3

Don’t forget to come see us at Origins and say “Hi!”.



KS Update #13: This Precious Moment

Well friends,

Here we are. The final hours of our campaign. We’ve raised more than double our funding goal, and unlocked every bit of content and upgrades we wanted to put in the game …and then some! Thank you!

So, how did we get here?

I have held this moment — right now — as a dream of mine since 2006 after studying under Dave Arneson in college and falling in love with modern board games.

Two years later, after reading a whitepaper by K. Robert Gutschera I started working on a game called Red Tape, which I used as an experimental platform to study game mechanics, and multiplayer political dynamics in games. Meanwhile, I worked as a computer programmer in enterprise and government environments.

It didn’t take me long to realize how much I disliked doing software development in large organizations. So in 2010, I quit my job for the glory of the tech startup scene.

I reached out to a local entrepreneurial hub here in Columbus and I found several mentors who guided me on how I could build a successful technology company. To help pay my way through the startup world I worked 14 hour days. Six hours each day I spent consulting, and eight hours each day on my own projects.

In 2012, I met Dirk Knemeyer when he hired me as a consultant for a tech company he founded. While I did work for Dirk, I continued to work on crazy tech startup ideas. Crazy… because they were doomed to fail before I even began. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, but you know what they say about hindsight.

I fell into this grind for nearly 6 years, but as I continued to work on Red Tape and other games I slow (very slowly) realized that my heart just wasn’t in technology startups either.

My heart was in the hobby. I made excuses to duck away from meetings, to go to gaming groups, to go to conventions. I stayed up all night playing werewolf and slept in the next day, missing important appointments. The startups I was working on I started working on less and less. I spent as much free time as I could studying, playing and designing games.

I eventually learned that Dirk was working on publishing his own games he designed through a company he created called Conquistador Games. So, I approached him and asked if he would be interested in helping me publish Red Tape. After playing the game together, we came to an agreement. We would work together to develop and design the game and he would publish it under his new Artana brand.

Somewhere in the middle of our design partnership on Corrupted Kingdoms, I pitched him another idea. If I remember correctly, it was one of those conversations you have as you leave the office and end up in the parking lot chatting.

“Hey Dirk, What if someone merged an 18xx game with a euro-game?”

“That could be interesting, Ray. You should try it and let me know how it goes.”

Meanwhile I began helping out at the Artana booth at Origins and Gencon. There I met people like John Coveyou, Nils Herzmann, Matt Fantastic, J.R. Honeycutt, Donna Prior and Morgan Dontanville. I met the folks at BGG. I met a ton of podcasters and media folks. I even got a chance to play the tail end of a playtest of a Scythe Expansion with Jamey Stegmeier. It was a good time.

Then in 2016 Corrupted Kingdoms came out… and it bombed. I was disappointed but Dirk never wavered, he never flinched. He just gave me words of encouragement, and advice.

“The first one is always rough, Ray. Don’t sweat it.” πŸ™‚

A few months later, I read “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg, went to CABS on a Friday night, sat down with our group of train gamers and played 1846. I thought “Hmm… why’s Chicago so great, anyway?”.

Not long after, I started working on City of the Big Shoulders. A few months into the initial design of the game, Joe Wiggins reached out to me and asked if I wanted to come over to a playtest party that Capstone was holding here in Columbus.

There, I got to meet all the great folks at Captstone. Clay, Joe, Tim, Justin and I sat down to play my game. They loved it and wished me good luck. Clay told me to reach out to him if I ever needed his help with anything. Little did we know at the time we’d be launching two awesome games on Kickstarter at the same time. πŸ™‚

Soon after that party I met Emily. We spent the next 2 years developing the game, working on the artwork, and demoing it at Gencon and Origins and now, finally we are here.

It’s inspiring to me how life tends to lay this groundwork for a path you don’t really realize you’re on and yet when you are on the wrong path life tends to throw you lemons. It’s a beautiful and tragic serendipity.

Carl Sandburg once wrote that nothing happens, unless first we dream. I think dreams are the things that guide our path, and lay foundations if only we learn to listen to them.

Thank you so much for joining me on this path. At this precious moment, because of you, my dream is a dream no more.

Now, I think we got some work to do. πŸ™‚

Cheers, Raymond