Archive for the ‘Ninja Division’ Category

Alright. Admittedly that headline is a bit long, but it is the truth.

A little back story before we get into the meat of this article. Since 2015, Ninja Division/Soda Pop Miniatures have launched 5 successful Kickstarters. The most successful of these campaigns was for Super Dungeon Explore: Legends. More than 6,000 backers pledged over $1.29 million dollars during the Kickstarter and who knows how much more during the pledge manager via the company’s official web store. After Super Dungeon Explore: Legends, they launched campaigns for Relic Knights 2nd Edition, Starfinder Masterclass Miniatures, Rail Raiders: Infinite, and Way of the Fighter.

To date, Rail Raiders: Infinite and Way of the Fighter have been in retail stores for more than a year while there are still backers awaiting their copies, stretch goals and more. The Starfinder miniatures have just now begun making their way to US backers, with quality control issue after quality control issue. Relic Knights 2nd Edition was supped to have been done and shipped by February 2018 but there has been only radio silence since August 2018. And, finally, Super Dungeon Explore: Legends had been shelved until Starfinder and Relic Knights had been completed.

Despite the projects’ various degrees of completion, more than $2.56 million dollars was raised by more than 17,000 backers through the Kickstarter campaigns. This does not included the undisclosed amount raised during the various pledge mangers, as there would be late backers and people who upped their pledges.

With that in mind, it brings us to the the present. As the company has been radio silent on all their Kickstarter pages (See: Ninja Division Pulling Back from Kickstarter), this had led several backers to write to their attorney generals as well as the Idaho attorney general (Ninja Division/Soda Pop Miniatures are based out of Idaho) in regards to fraud. The response from Ninja Division/Soda Pop was finally made public: Ninja Division Response to Attorney General.

While the response is worded as such to skate over many of the pressing questions backers have had, as well as give a detailed account usage of all funds raised and not just of those during the Super Dungeon Explore: Legends Kickstarter, it does have a few interesting bits of information:

  • Under their disclosure of Initial Funding, they state that approximately $343,559 was used for “annual overhead”. This included payroll, facilities and additional overhead. This funding was to cover them for the remainder of 2015, as well as all of 2016. They then state they had to deplete the funds to cover 2017 as well.
  • Also under their disclosure of Initial Funding, they state that approximately $485,679 went to “project expenses”, including license fees and marketing.
  • Funds for the game are completely ran through, leaving a deficit of $750,000 needed to bring the project to completion.
  • While the fate of their other non-SDE IPs are not disclosed, they do mention that they are in discussion with multiple outside companies for acquisition of their studio.

There is also several bits of blame laid at the backers’ feet that we won’t go into.

In the end, ultimately, this does not bold well for anyone connected with these games. Be it a backer, designer or what have you, it looks like the curtain is slowly falling on what was once a great company and a great stable of fantastic games.

_________

For full details on the four outstanding Kickstarters and some basic stats. Way of the Fighter is not included in this break down as it backers for this are waiting on miniature add-ons. While not to be cast aside or forgotten about in the least, it is hard to gage a proper number of backers effected by this as Way of the Fighter featured the least amount of backers and most have moved on from the campaign.

Relic Knights 2nd Edition

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sodapopminiatures/relic-knights-2nd-edition/description

Originally ran on KS from Feb 27, 2017 until March 14, 2017

  • Raised $386,826 from 2,489 backers
    • Does not account for any/all additional funds raised via the Pledge Manager
  • Game/Stretch goals were to ship in 3 waves over an 8 month period
    • Wave 1 – Summer 2017: Base game and majority of stretch goals/add ons
    • Wave 2 – Winter 2017: Remaining stretch goals/add ons
    • Wave 3 – Feb. 2018: Void Break Expansion Rulebook/outstanding stretch goals

As of November 2018, zero of the game’s 2000+ backers have seen anything. Last real update on production was back in July 2018. Several comments made at GenCon by Soda Pop employees was that the game was to begin shipping at the end of August. Last comment made by John Cadice (owner of Ninja Division) was that they ran out of bases, and the comment was made via a Facebook Relic Knights fan page.

Rail Raiders: Infinite

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sodapopminiatures/rail-raiders-infinite/description

  • Originally ran on KS from April 6, 2016 until April 22, 2016
  • Raised $339,724 from 4,649 backers
    • Does not account for any/all additional funds raised via the Pledge Manager
  • Game/Stretch goals were to ship October 2016.
  • Shipping finally began in August 2017.

As of November 2018, many of the game’s backers (primarily those out of the United States) are still awaiting their games though the game has been available at retail for months. Last update was January 2018.

Starfinder Masterclass Miniatures

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/325468910/starfinder-masterclass-miniatures/description

  • Originally ran on KS from September 27, 2017 until October 17, 207
  • Raised $457,539 from 2,294 backers
    • Does not account for any/all additional funds raised via Pledge Manager
  • Game/Stretch goals were to ship May 2018
  • Shipping began in waves in May 2018, however they have switched to a new model of shipping what they have when they are done. 
    • This could be a single miniature or multiples.

As of November 2018, Wave 1 miniatures have begun making their way to US backers. These shipments have been plagued by quality control issues and broken miniatures.

Super Dungeon Explores: Legends

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sodapopminiatures/super-dungeon-explore-legends/comments

  • Originally ran on KS from October 21, 2015 until November 11, 2015
  • Raised $1,290,522 from 6,611 backers
    • Does not account for any/all additional funs raised via Pledge Manager
  • Game/Stretch goals were to Ship December 2016

As of November 2018, zero of the game’s backers have received anything. The last update of any type regarding fulfillment and shipping was back in March 2018.

$2,566,516 from 17,428 backers, or $148.80 per person.

 

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Well, the title says in all. However, if you’d care to read their own words from their interview with ICv2 at the GAMMA Trade Show:

“It’s important as publishers, and as studios and developers, as we start to get our feet under us to take a real hard look as how it is and why it is we use Kickstarter as a business,” he said.  “We have a great community we’ve been able to build up over time, but we’ve come to recognize that in our time working and developing in Kickstarter that you run the risk, as a business, of your eyes getting too big for the plate.  You build big projects.  You want to be ambitious.  You want to go after all of this opportunity to give your customers all the things they want.  We have gone through and redesigned whole products from scratch based on the feedback we get.  We’ve added time to our time frames, everybody thinking that it’s OK.”

“But the added toxicity, …the way that it’s swung online has made us shy away from wanting to even be a part of it.  I don’t think that it’s responsible for any of our external business partners to have to be exposed to that. It’s not responsible for me to expose my employees to that.  It’s not responsible for me to expose my brands to that.”

If you’d like to read the original article, click here.

I try to be unbiased in what I write on here, while trying to keep any emotional outbursts to a minimum, but you’ll have to excuse me…ARE THEY SERIOUS?!

The “toxicity” they are referring to is one of their own creation. Lack of transparency and communication on their projects, ties up with a nice little bow of constant delays, was the catalyst for any and all “toxic” remarks they receive.

Presently, I have only ever backed one Ninja Division Kickstarter. That was Relic Knights 2.0. The entire campaign read like a glorified preorder system. I was fine with that. I had just gotten done learning the game from a couple starters I had won via a contest over at Beasts of War. I wanted more. I went in for the Relic Knight pledge because they had some gorgeous models that were exclusive to that tier.

The game was to be shipped via 3 waves: Wave 1 – Late Summer 2017, Wave 2 – Fall/Winter 2017, Wave 3 -By end of February 2018. We are now three days out from April 2018. A delay in a project is par for the course with Kickstarters, but they are just now entering production on the miniatures per their most recent update on the Kickstarter page (Update #66- Productions Minis and Unit Cards: March 23, 2018).

At this point, I want to request a full refund. However, with same said update, they have also ended their refund period. Funny this interview was posted four short days after that update. I digress, however. Their own Kickstarter page lays out their refund policy, though:

REFUND POLICY

Refund requests made within 60 days of the campaign’s end are made through Stripe, directly to your credit card, fees included.

Refunds requested after 60 days are made through Paypal only, less Kickstarter and payment processing fees, which we cannot get back.

No refunds are possible if requested eight weeks before the Kickstarter’s actual shipping date, since at that point we have already begun packaging pledges.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, I’m just an artist and a hobby gamer. I know little to nothing about mass manufacturing. However, if the miniatures just went into production, that means they won’t be hitting that first full week of May shipping timeline (8 weeks from the time of this writing). Granted, as I said, I have know extensive knowledge of manufacturing. Maybe they will. Then again, if they don’t or aren’t aiming for the window, then we should still be allowed refunds.

I wanted to give this game a chance. Everything about Relic Knights checks the boxes that make me excited to play a game: great art, great lore and great mechanics. However, I cannot in good faith or conscience recommend another game by a company so lacking in integrity or common customer service skills like those displayed by Ninja Division these last several months. I welcome anyone from the company to correct me, to show me that your games (and by extension your company) deserve nothing but the utmost respect from us. However, until that day comes, I will be sitting here patiently awaiting my long over due game.

Until next time, folks, keep your dice warm and happy gaming.