State of Deliverance: March 1, 2021

It’s been a while since I have written a blog post. Between game design, art development, rulebook and campaign stuff, along with prepping for our review-ready prototype printing (so reviewers can share thoughts for the Kickstarter), it’s been a full load! 

Blogs just seemed one of the less-important elements of the process, but I was reminded by a fan that it’s been a while since we wrote one for the site!

I have something on my chest that I need to share, so why not write a blog?

Recently, I announced that we will be publishing Deliverance through Lowen Games — our own publishing arm.

Many people were very excited! In fact, most of you were! But I know there were some that felt like it was just another announcement without a game in hand.

It’s been a long road, both for me as the designer, and for you as the fan. I decided to be open about how we’re moving on this path so that you have the opportunity to join me on this journey.

I have become familiar with a term I now call “fan fatigue.”

To illustrate, one need only look to the Deliverance home page “Coming soon to Kickstarter” banner. How long has that been there? We even used to have a countdown timer, which planned to count down to my secret goal launch date of October 2019.

So what happened that caused the delay?

I determined the game wasn’t up to my elite gamer standards yet. We had graphic design that was solid, but when newer, less experienced players played the game, it still felt clunky. 

For those familiar, I’d liken it to the LOTR LCG vs the Marvel LCG by Fantasy Flight Games. While I enjoy and own a ton of expansions for both games, I wish the streamlined mechanics of the Marvel game were present in the LOTR game (a theme I greatly love). You can tell the LOTR game was designed 10 years ago, and the Marvel game just far outclasses it in smoothness of play and thematic connection to the game mechanics.

It should, right? When you have 10 years to improve on something, you are sure to get a better play experience.

Deliverance was a little bit like that. The connection between gameplay and the theme was awesome. The gameplay was pretty good, but woe to you if you were not used to dungeon crawlers, because there was a lot to track!

It all hit me in March of 2020 at the GAMA trade show. This was the last convention I attended. Joined by Bubba Stallcup of Love Thy Nerd, we played a ton of Deliverance games with retailers and influencers. Sam Healey got to play it, too! But something Sam said changed everything for me…

“This game has a TON of downtime!”

We were discussing Mythic Games as the publisher for Deliverance. In fact, one of the very first things I heard from Sam when he announced he would be joining the Mythic team after leaving the Dice Tower was, “Get me a Deliverance media kit for Mythic — I need to show them!”

And after all this, he got to play and was disappointed by how long he had to wait between turns.

It was March 2020. I could have discounted his critical feedback. After all, we started a game at 11pm, we had players that loved to talk more than play, 3 of our players were new to the game, and we were playing the largest player count of 5 players (an option that no longer exists due to downtime — though it may come back one day).

But I knew Sam was right.

We could have had a big Kickstarter at that point. I believe we could have raised over 6 figures on Kickstarter (even without minis). And then there would be hundreds of people that opened the box and experienced a similar situation. The box would get put back on the shelf after a game, and maybe not taken off again!

So something had to change. The game was not ready.

It took me four months to retool. My internal play testers were extremely helpful during this time with feedback. Once we determined how to improve it, I had a ton of work that only I could really do (hence 4 months).

I completely removed dice rolling. I changed tracking health with a clip to tracking by adding damage tokens. I removed most “ negative ongoing effects” from the game and reintroduced them as active skills that only activated when it was the demon’s turn. We added action tokens to track whose turn it was. We adjusted the Darkness track so all Darkness stuff happened at the same time. We changed the battlefield to small squares to improve the tactical strategic experience. And I simplified the angel card by stripping out some of their most complex skills, adding them back in the biggest “game-changer” of them all: Talent cards.

The game speed improved dramatically. Players loved playing their angels, remarking about how they couldn’t wait to play the same character again. The players never forgot whose turn it was or how much health a demon had remaining. People stopped forgetting to activate the boss passive effect.

As some of you know, we ran a convention to stress test the game. Deliverance Con was a huge hit with over 60 attendees and 12 volunteers to run games.

Players gave Deliverance the highest marks it’s received in their feedback forms.

And I knew we suddenly realized the full potential of Deliverance.

We ran our convention in December 2020. From the moment I received the feedback forms, I began to prepare for a Kickstarter launch. 

Deliverance is now ready, and will release on Kickstarter in June or July 2021.

Considering the former topic of “fan fatigue,” I recognize that the deferred release of the game has caused some attrition among long-time followers of  Deliverance. We might have 2400 people on the email list, but through our growth, we get a few unsubscribes from each monthly update. We aren’t getting a ton of unsubscribes, but I am seeing a small portion of the e-mail list become less active. We used to have nearly 50% of our email sends get opened. Now, we are lucky to get 40%.

While I would not take it back for sake of the improvements to the game (and the subsequent experience you’re going to have when it hits your table), I recognize that the time is now.

We won’t be delaying the launch of Deliverance on Kickstarter for “perfect circumstances,” as if such a thing could exist. Delays are done, and we’re going.

I’m doing what I can now to ensure that we have everything we need for launch. We have artists on it. We have our critical path tasks marked down. My marketing team is working on getting ready for launch, including a new website which will showcase the art and game play of Deliverance. We have our manufacturing company working hard to quote out every last detail of the game so I can squeeze every bit of that sweet “stretch goal” nectar out of this campaign.

We’re going to spend some money on advertising through BGG, Facebook, and other places to get the word out. I’ve spoken with major distribution companies and they’re interested in taking Deliverance. I’ve spoken to major media outlets that are interested in covering Deliverance.

I’d love to see the future and take the suspense out of the Kickstarter campaign, but I can tell you one thing: However it turns out, Deliverance is ready for the public spotlight.

To the critics and advocates of Deliverance, thank you for caring and spurring me on to action. To the fatigued fans, rejoice! Your “Deliverance” draws nigh.