Dan goes inside Problem Picnic: Attack of the Ants

In his continuing series, Dan chats with Helaina Cappel of Kids Table Board Gaming about her Problem Picnic: Attack of the Ants Kickstarter campaign. Helaina discusses working with designer, Scott Almes, advertising and preparation, and the struggle of bringing family-friendly games to Kickstarter.

Problem Picnic ^

1. Why don’t you start us off by giving us a brief overview of Problem Picnic.

Problem Picnic is a 2-4 player dice chucking dexterity game, where you are playing a colony of ants competing with other colonies to bring back the most and the best food to please your ant queen. In Problem Picnic, you chuck one of your three types of dice (the sturdy Soldier, industrious Worker, or the nimble Scout) onto the picnic cards, competing with others players to bring back the card to your colony (set collection). Once your plate of food is back at your colony, you arrange the plates to satisfy the score cards (which vary from game to game). The player that satisfies the score cards, with the highest score, wins!









2. Your first campaign was for Foodfighters, a game that you designed, but this second campaign of yours is for a game designed by another designer, Scott Almes. Why the change from publishing your games to another designer’s?

I have wanted to get into publishing for a long time. Until Kickstarter, I never thought it would happen. When Foodfighters was ready for the world to see, I knew it had to be me that published it. So began my journey. When I played Scott’s game (then: Castle Toss), I knew it fit into Kids Tables promise to make kids games for adults, and had emergent strategy (more about that later) and had to be ours. Josh had worked with Scott on several other projects. They work so well together, it just seemed natural.

3. That is so great to hear! You definitely have to work cohesively and have a strong working relationship with the designer for it to come together well.  Do you plan to continue designing games or do you plan to mostly publish games from other designers?

I am still designing games as we speak. Josh and I have a few coming down the pipes within the next several months. The games are in development. But I also want to continue publishing other peoples’ games. I really enjoy working as a team on a project. I feel like it is the right place for me.

4. I hope to see many more of your designs along with others that you publish.  I want to talk more about Problem Picnic now and focus on your active campaign.  Leading up to the campaign, what was the best piece of advice you received before launching?

The best piece of advice I received before launching was to get the game seen. I was told that the best advertising for a new game was to meet people and have them play it. So we did. We took the game to conventions and we played it … A LOT!

5. It definitely seemed like you were getting it out there as I saw it all over social media before you launched. You are also pretty experienced at this whole Kickstarter thing now, so what is something you learned from your first campaign that you are either applying or doing differently to in the second campaign?

Before we launched Foodfighters, no one knew who we were. We worked really hard to create an online social media presence, but our reach was very small. Since then, we’ve made a lot of friends. We have worked really hard to gain real followers on Twitter and Facebook. But most importantly we’ve made many friends at the conventions we’ve visited over the last year. We are thankful for all of the support we’ve received from the tabletop gaming community, especially from other publishers and reviewers that we really respect. Essentially, you cannot run a successful Kickstarter campaign without them.

To show our appreciation, we’ve been featuring a different reviewer every few days, to thank them and spotlight the amazing work they do. We’ve been calling it “Board Game Reviewer Spotlight”. Everyone thanks the publishers and the designers for making the games. Not enough of us thank the reviewers who work their butts off to spread the word (and mostly for free). Doing this helps us twofold. It spreads the work of amazingly talented people, and also helps us share their previews of Problem Picnic: Attack of the Ants.

6. I noticed that you have been doing it and think it is a great idea! Reviewers definitely can be unsung heroes when it comes to the campaigns. Sometimes it seems like creators expect a lot of the reviewers while giving little back in return and it is really nice that you are spotlighting them as a thank you.  If you could pick one thing you could say you definitely did right in preparation for this campaign, what would it be?

I am working with the right people!! Problem Picnic: Attack of the Ants is a fantastic game with outstanding mechanisms from start to finish, as well as incredible illustrations and graphic design. So bringing it to Kickstarter was easy. But working together with Scott and Josh on this project has been hands down, the most right thing I did. We work so well together. These guys are golden. Everything from receiving the prototype to working on stretch goals was a pleasure with these guys.

7. How are your advertising or spreading the word about this game?

Most of the beginning of the campaign was word of mouth, running on the success of our last campaign, and of course having fantastic reviewers such as Rahdo Runs Through previewing the game. We are also advertising the game on Board Game Geek, Facebook, and Twitter. The “Board Game Reviewer Spotlight” has been helping us through this also.

8. Speaking of social media, even though people seem to post on social media all the time about enjoying Haba/Gamewright/Blue Orange games, it seems that Family Games by indie publishers are definitely an uphill battle. Do you find this true?

You have no idea. I feel this especially on Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a destination for people who are looking for something for themselves. If they don’t see where they themselves fit into the project, they won’t back it. I feel like we have games that are a niche within a niche. The good thing about them is that they are kids games for adults.

9. You do have a great line of kids’ games for adults, so I am curious why you have Food Fighters as an add-on instead of having a package deal as a reward tier?pic2590866_md

At the moment, we are using EU Friendly shipping, which means when Problem Picnics is ready to ship it will go straight to Europe. The Foodfighters that are all available are in the US right now. If I sent Foodfighers with Problem Picnic, shipping would have to be doubled. I don’t think anyone wants that. That, and there are very few Foodfighters left. That’s right, our first print run is almost gone.

[irp posts=”359″ name=”Foodfighters: Review”]

10. Have you done anything different for the campaign since it is a family game (ie the way you present it, how you are advertising, who you are targeting)

As you mentioned, selling a family game is an uphill battle. However, our goal is to make kids games for adults. We have a built in target from the get-go. We present our games as family games, but really want to drill home the idea that adults have just as much fun playing our games as kids. But we also have this special aspect of our games that we call emergent strategy, which makes our games fun for adults and kids alike. When kids play, they can paly without having a set strategy that they will use to try to win. What they begin to realize while they play is that they can play to win if they use the components in a different way, or interact differently with the other players.

11. Lastly, say that I am on the fence about your game, what would you say to me to push me over the edge and convince me to back?

Problem Picnic: Attack of the Ants is an action packed 2-4 player dexterity family game that is enjoyed by kids with other kids, kids with adults, and adults with adults. I have played many games of PP:AA with my friends, and there has not been one game that didn’t involve someone jumping out of their seat with excitement because they smashed another player’s dice off of a picnic card. That really is the best part of the game. It’s “take that” without being too punishing. I really love me some “take that”!!

Thanks so much for having me Dan. I have really enjoyed this interview, and love even more what you are doing for the community!!

Dan: It was great to talk to Helaina Cappel about her current campaign. If you like games, family time, picnics, or troublesome bugs, please head over to Kickstarter and check out their campaign! There are a lot of good people involved in it and they will not disappoint you in the least!

Watch the video ^



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