Sunday, November 20, 2016

RPG NEWS: What’s Up Robotech RPG Tactics?

Robotech RPG Tactics obliterated its initial funding goal of $70k, to the tune of just over $1.4 million. The campaign ran April 18th thru May 20th 2013 and was funded by 5,342 backers. That’s 3 ½ years, since I very nearly backed this Kickstarter project. I didn’t back it for a few reasons most of which to do with the level of funding the project had reached by the time I was about ready to pledge (over $500k at that time). In short I thought the funding level of this project was far above the capabilities for Palladium Books to handle. I tried to convince a number of friends to not back it for the same reason. About half heeded my words, in one fashion or another. Some backed it for less, some not at all. Unfortunately, I was right. I also didn’t pledge because of how they handled a crowdsource project the previous year (or so) for Northern Gun 1&2 supplements. I can’t remember the details and I can’t find them-but this was a much smaller project. The third reason and most relevant to this post, was what I read in the Risks and challenges section. You should certainly consider looking closely at what the creator says here and if it meshes with their history. Certainly my experience and knowledge of Palladium Books helped me avoid this train wreck-but all the more reason that if you see a Kickstarter you like-it would be good to take a very close look at the company, its history and what they note as Risks and challenges. Basically you are looking to see if all of this meshes. Lets take a closer look, I’ve highlighted (Intentional or not) what I found misleading:

Risks and challenges

“A project of this scope requires the successful collaboration of artists, sculptors, writers, game designers, and manufacturers. Managing this complex process and minimizing delays are the largest challenges we face in bringing Robotech® RPG Tactics™ to market. We have learned from past experience that success requires careful planning and a full understanding of the scope of the project. In order to facilitate the timely delivery of Robotech® RPG Tactics™, Palladium Books and Ninja Division have brought in a host of new talent to work on the project.
Angry Nird
1)      At this point, the past experience of Palladium Books includes a lot of delayed (RPG) books & Books which were never finished. They haven’t fulfilled a self-created release schedule or delivered products on time since the inception of the company. They aren't just occasionally late in delivery... They are ALWAYS late. They may have learned that success requires careful planning, but given the history-delivering on time (which they don't) seems another matter entirely...

2)      So far as I’m aware a host of new talent seems misleading. Palladium hired one person (I could be wrong, but as far as I know) which they have since let go. Ninja Division didn’t hire any new talent but continued with what they have. If I’m wrong on this please leave a comment. One additional hire is hardly what should be defined as a "host of new talent."

To help ensure realistic deadlines, we have completed the vast majority of our development before launching the Kickstarter. Sculpts for the game pieces are almost entirely complete. The rulebook and game components are deep in development and will be ready for layout soon. Our manufacturers are also ready and have reserved factory time for the project. This means that as soon as the project is funded, we can lock down a timeline with our manufacturers to get the game produced.

3)      A red flag went up here on these last two sentences. Manufacturing in most industries does not work this way. A manufacture does not reserve factory time before locking down a timeline. This makes zero sense. This seems to be the case of Palladium putting the cart before the horse (hindsight especially being 20/20) in how they “think it’s going to work.” Still it’s misleading.

It is our commitment to you, the Kickstarter backers, that we will maintain consistent communication throughout the process. This means regular updates, product photos, and plenty of behind the scenes insight as we complete the creation of Robotech® RPG Tactics™.”

4)      No red flags here, but again in hindsight any of the above is hardly the case.

Palladium Books broke the delivery of this Kickstarter into two waves and after continually pushing back the release of the first wave after supposedly being 98% complete, Robotech RPG Tactics finished international shipping May 13th 2015. Complaints are numerous and often in the comments section due to the part count and lack of transparency about of the project. Though certainly most comments are owned by a vocal minority this has to be the most commented Kickstarter in the history of Kickstarter for sure as wave 2 has been again pushed for a non-concrete date in 2017, the comments which are at 97k will certainly break 100k before completion; despite losing a considerable amount of steam.  

In the meantime while Palladium Books continues a complete lack of the transparency in regards to delays. Just about every update starts out with, “sorry about the long silence-and-still getting quotes for miniatures.” The bottom line is that if Palladium Books still hasn’t got the price quotes for the completion of wave 2-the longer this delays the less likely it will be completed at all. I for one believe that Palladium would like to do right. The question: At what point will Palladium Books surpass the financial capability to do so?   

In the last few days Kickstarter has at least come to their senses to at least remove the tag: “A Project We Love.” They have their money no need to rub salt in the wound I suppose, but then again this project is still counted (by Kickstarter) as a success. A lot backers would certainly disagree.


  1. Sadly, nothing is going on with Robotech Tactics. Palladium just alternates between claims of intense activity ("boiling over!"), no activity ("waiting on quotes"), and complete silence (almost two months since an official update)... all while nebulous dates are given and pass with no sign if discernable progress. It's their biggest missed opportunity and the blame sits squarely at Palladium's feet. The rumor is that they gambled backer money on massive amounts of extra retail stock that hasn't sold instead of their own money and now don't have enough to make wave 2 so are stalling. That is of course just an educated guess/rumor since Palladium doesn't comment in any meaningful way on the project, just promises/platitudes/apologies.

    1. Absolutely. And Unfortunate. The lack of real information in regards to the project, shows a lack of respect for the process which Palladium Books was more than happy to utilize.

      This is one case among many which I believe the level of funding lead a company to get in too far over their head.

      A percentage cap, at a maximum of 400% to 500% of their funding goal would have likely kept the project more manageable. At this point it's hard to think if they ever will finish... Or even be financially capable to do so.

    2. A funding cap wouldn't keep a company from gambling away the funds, though.

  2. @Gulliver

    That is true if they intended to do so. I have not seen evidence one way or the other that this is the case with Palladium Books, that they have gambled the funds.

    My theory is that they didn't do a good job of estimating the shipping costs (and from what I read) in relation to the cost, which has likely handcuffed them to find cheaper manufacturing (if they can).

    No matter how, the project has certainly been mismanaged.

    1. Jeff, we'll probably never know for sure. However, a former volunteer of theirs has indicated that they spent money from the kickstarter funds on overstocking Wave 1 for retail, then couldn't sell enough Wave 1 to make back the money they spent.
      If true, to me, that is gambling.

  3. They may have screwed the pooch but if you still have minis and want to play I've made an alternate rules set where I can use what I do have from RRT plus mix and match with things like CAV, Battletech and many more. Come check it out if you are interested.

    Or where I'm posting stuff up on my google drive...

  4. I will have my buddy check those out. I have played twice to his modified rules. Thanks for posting them.