Dan Goes Inside Chai

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

In Chai, you step into the shoes of a tea merchant, combining flavors to make a perfect blend. Specializing in either rooibos, green, oolong, black or white tea, you can buy and collect ingredients to fulfil your customers’ orders. There’s a lot of set collection, and trying to be strategic as you complete orders and money for victory points. There are three main actions you may choose from in a turn: a sliding tile market, a pantry for add-ins, or reserving a new customer and using an ability card. Once you fulfil an order, you receive a tip! In the optional advanced version of the game, the cups are also important with an area-control mechanism.

2. What was the best piece of advice you received about your campaign before launching?

It’s definitely from Jamey Stegmaier’s resources on community-building and Kickstarter blog! We poured a lot of time into cultivating an engaged and committed community. It was time-consuming to reply back to all the comments and posts, but definitely worth it! James Hudson also gave the advice on a live stream to ask ourselves, “What am I willing to sacrifice in order to make this game a reality?” It gave us perspective to evaluate if we were committed for the long haul.

3. If you could pick one thing you could say you definitely did right in preparation for this campaign, what would it be?

We got our game playtested as many times as possible as early as possible. This helped us refine many parts of the game that were a bit unpolished. For example, our pantry board had harder rules and was a bit similar to the market mechanics, confusing some players. After receiving feedback, we simplified the rules and made it unique. Also, we couldn’t figure out what to call our pantry, and it was the collective genius of the community that helped us come up with that title.

4. Have you found any mistakes you made that you have since adjusted or fixed since launch?

We underestimated how much work it would take to plan and design stretch goals that would resonate with the campaign. Hah, we had to spend a lot of late nights tracking down information and designing graphics for the Kickstarter page, slowing us down in reaching out to online communities that hadn’t heard of us yet. Updates to graphics are often quite time consuming as well, especially progress bars or things that need tracking.

5. It seems like you have been to a ton of cons to demo the game. What did you attend in preparation for this?

We took Chai to a lot of local playtesting and weekly game nights! In our previous work experiences we’ve attended different conventions, requiring setting up booths and networking. We definitely brought in those experiences to help us create demo areas, and feel comfortable ourselves. We weren’t sure what kind of banners or promotional pieces we’d need, so that required a lot of research and reaching out to different publishers, which we’ve found are extremely accessible and helpful.

6. How else are you advertising or spreading the word about this game?

Aside from our own social media channels, we have advertised in major board game groups on Facebook, doing giveaways, hosting virtual game nights, and buying banner space. We have some amazing reviewers who have done great playthroughs for Chai. Many in our community have been spreading the word on their own social media as well. We’ve tried a bit of Instagram promos, but have largely stuck to Facebook.

7. It also looks like you sent out about 50 review copies, how many copies did you actually send to reviewers?

We are optimists! To be honest, to date we’ve only sent out about 17 review copies. This created a bit of a backlog, but we’ll be able to send out the remaining copies in anticipation for pre-orders for after the campaign. This is one other area we would improve on in future campaigns.

8. I noticed you are charging shipping after the campaign, which is usually not recommended unless there are lots of miniatures added on or things increasing the weight. Why did you go this route?

The weight of some components such as the five cups and 72+ tiles couldn’t be confirmed by manufacturers  before we launched. In addition, with reduced shipping costs for group buys, and local/Essen pickup, we found it’s easier to manage this in a pledge manager (we’re going with CrowdOx) rather than trying to figure everything out in the Kickstarter backend.

9. That makes a lot of sense, better to be safe than sorry and it is great how up front you are about it! The game is doing really well however it seems your social goals are under-performing. Would you do them differently next time?

Oops! We actually didn’t start off with social stretch goals until two days ago, which explains what you’re seeing. We definitely should have started this earlier. Many in our quali-tea communi-tea suggested that we implement some social goals for the last few days, so we sat down and came up with 10 different goals that could be realistically reached in the final push. Our community knocked it out of the park, completing 4 out of 10 goals in one day! Next time, we would definitely implement social stretch goals at the beginning to keep incentivized excitement going throughout the campaign.

10. That’s great, good luck! So let’s talk tea, what is your favorite type of tea and how do you like to enjoy it?

Connie loves pumpkin chai tea, taken with lots of maple syrup and steamed milk. Daniel loves a good London fog. It was actually his drink of choice on our first date ever, just over 5 years ago now!

11. Well aren’t you two just adorable? Well I hate to say goodbye but it is time to close out this interview, so I have just one more question for you, say that I am not really into tea and have very little interest in the theme, would I still be interested in your game?

Chai is a family game that has solid mechanics, so we’ve been told that it’s a great game to engage everyone: non-gamers, and gateway to experienced gamers. Player aids and clear rules really allow us to easily introduce the game quickly. If you enjoy set collection in games like Splendor or Century Spice Road, you’ll like how accessible Chai is. The tiles are also very similar to the acrylic ones used in Azul, and our marketboard has a charming puzzley nature to it. Depending on your gaming level, you can also remove the ability cards (we recommend this for kids ages 6-8), or add an optional area control mechanic to the cups if you’re up for a challenge! If that’s not your cup of tea, Chai also plays solo and co-op variants and plays up to five, which is quite rare for a family game.

A huge thank you for Daniel and Connie Kazmaier for taking the time to do this interview (especially on a time crunch). If you think you would like this game, or if you just enjoy sipping your tea luxuriously while you game, head on over to their campaign and check out Chai!


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