Call me a sucker. Warning – I write this post in “simmering rant-mode.”
I am a long-time Traveller RPG fan. Part of why I like the universe is the various ship combat systems. From the small-ship Mayday (GDW, 1979) to fleet engagements using Power Projection: Fleet (BITS, 2003) I have tried out various systems – with just as many various levels of satisfaction.
I was very happy in February 2016 when Ken Burnside kickstarted Squadron Strike: Traveller. Although I was a bit worried about game system complexity, I backed the project because I was hungry for Traveller space combat game. I also recognized Ken from Star Fleet Battles; another game I dearly loved.
It is now 21 October 2017…exactly 19 months after the project funded and I still do not have my game. Part of the delay is because Ken had to get the miniatures that are one of the stretch goals produced. Problem is I pledged for the boxed game only:
This is the Deluxe Edition of Squadron Strike Traveller, as a boxed game. It is the same as Squadron Strike 2nd Edition, only it replaces the Empire/Directorate War content with Squadron Strike Traveller. It also includes the PDFs of all the materials.
I didn’t buy the miniatures but an being held up because of them. FOUL!
Maybe I didn’t read the Risks and Challenges closely enough:
This is a project that uses techniques and components we use for the other Ad Astra boxed games. There is nothing in this that we have not successfully done before.
At the time we launched this Kickstarter, the setting-and-scenario booklet was edited, the tutorial booklet was in final edits, and the SSD booklet had been laid out. The countersheets have been laid out, and the folio cover and box wrap are laid out and ready to send to the printer.
On the first business day after this project reaches its funding goal, I’ll send the print job to the printers to minimize the delay in shipping games to backers.
The project funded Monday, 21 March 2016 making the “next business day” Tuesday, 22 March 2016. Yet today, October 2017, I don’t have my game.
In December 2016 things looked close. In a Backers-only update (#30) Ken provided insight into the print product:
- Countersheets – “Done and in-house”
- SSD Book – “needs some cleanup”
- Tutorial Book – “needs a heavy edit” to get under 64-page count
- Scenario and Setting Book – “something of a mess”
- Master Weapons Charts – “done and ready to print”
- Box Wrap – “Done and in-house.”
- Maps – “Done and in-house”
- Tilt Blocks/Stacking Tiles/AVID Cards/RALT Cards – All “Done and in-house”
Then in April 2017 (Update #33), Ken posted about the “RPG/Minis Integration Problem.” Yes Ken, it’s a problem that you knew about from the beginning and was even one of the FAQ Questions:
Will RPG-scale or Adventurer-scale ships be a stretch goal?
So why, Mr. Burnside, after one year is it so important to add in the RPG rules that you yourself said at the beginning would not be part of the game?
In June 2017 (Update #36) Ken revealed that playtesting indicated problems. “So, I’m currently in the process of streamlining Traveller defenses…reducing the defenses to the point where we can resolve a game in 2-3 battle passes rather than 30+.” Update #37 and #38 (3 Jul 2017) seemingly indicated that playtests of changes showed promise, although rules for a key weapon system “are going to get completely rewritten.”
Things looked better in Update #40 (09 Aug 2017) which stated, “I expect to send out shipping notifications shortly after GenCon.”
Update #41 (15 Sep 2017 – the most recent update) was a disappointing step backwards. “…we’re finally getting SSDs out, and back on the horse playtesting….”
It appears to me that Ken used Squadron Strike: Traveller as a vehicle to drive additional miniatures sales. I hope it makes him a good profit because looking at the number of pledges maybe 33 of 290 backers want miniatures meaning the the other 257 (88%) of us are SOL.
At this point I have lost all faith that I will ever see this product. What is my recourse? Looking at the Kickstarter Basics, this part is posted under “Accountability”:
If problems come up, creators are expected to post a project update explaining the situation. Sharing the story, speed bumps and all, is crucial. Most backers support projects because they want to see something happen and they’d like to be a part of it. Creators who are honest and transparent will usually find backers to be understanding.
It’s not uncommon for things to take longer than expected. Sometimes the execution of the project proves more difficult than the creator had anticipated. If a creator is making a good faith effort to complete their project and is transparent about it, backers should do their best to be patient and understanding while demanding continued accountability from the creator.
There are some very squishy words here like “good faith” and “transparent.” I am trying to be “patient and understanding” but after 19 months it is getting really hard!
What is Section 4 of the Terms of Service? Section 4 explains the CONTRACT between creators and backers. I am going to quote it in full because it is has remedies for situations:
Kickstarter provides a funding platform for creative projects. When a creator posts a project on Kickstarter, they’re inviting other people to form a contract with them. Anyone who backs a project is accepting the creator’s offer, and forming that contract.
Kickstarter is not a part of this contract — the contract is a direct legal agreement between creators and their backers. Here are the terms that govern that agreement:
When a project is successfully funded, the creator must complete the project and fulfill each reward. Once a creator has done so, they’ve satisfied their obligation to their backers.
Throughout the process, creators owe their backers a high standard of effort, honest communication, and a dedication to bringing the project to life. At the same time, backers must understand that when they back a project, they’re helping to create something new — not ordering something that already exists. There may be changes or delays, and there’s a chance something could happen that prevents the creator from being able to finish the project as promised.
If a creator is unable to complete their project and fulfill rewards, they’ve failed to live up to the basic obligations of this agreement. To right this, they must make every reasonable effort to find another way of bringing the project to the best possible conclusion for backers. A creator in this position has only remedied the situation and met their obligations to backers if:
- they post an update that explains what work has been done, how funds were used, and what prevents them from finishing the project as planned;
- they work diligently and in good faith to bring the project to the best possible conclusion in a timeframe that’s communicated to backers;
- they’re able to demonstrate that they’ve used funds appropriately and made every reasonable effort to complete the project as promised;
- they’ve been honest, and have made no material misrepresentations in their communication to backers; and
- they offer to return any remaining funds to backers who have not received their reward (in proportion to the amounts pledged), or else explain how those funds will be used to complete the project in some alternate form.
The creator is solely responsible for fulfilling the promises made in their project. If they’re unable to satisfy the terms of this agreement, they may be subject to legal action by backers.
This is all good information that I really didn’t want to know. A real reminder that Kickstarter is the ultimate “buyer beware.” I really like the boardgame hobby and it makes me sick to my stomach to think that I may be joining a lawsuit in the future.
Truth told, I actually am not very anxious for this game to arrive. Two years ago I thought that I needed games like Squadron Strike: Traveller to satisfy my gaming urges. You see, back then I was a “simulationist” gamer – the more “real” the game the more I wanted it. A system like Squadron Strike with its 3D, vector movement and realistic firing arcs seemed just the thing to make spaceship combat gaming worth it. I wanted to play it now (i.e. back then). But I have “grown up”, and out, of simulationist gaming since then. The very complexity that makesSquadron Strike: Traveller “realistic” means it has a very low chance of ever landing my gaming table.
I honestly want Squadron Strike: Traveller not for the game, but simply because I PAID FOR IT!