As I've mentioned before, when Sumeria was initially submitted to me it was for 2-4 players. During playtesting one of my playtesters spotted a problem with the scoring in the two player game. I was at this point sailing fairly close to the wind (sounds familiar!) and so Dirk and I made the decision to take the two player game out of the mix.
At a later stage we came up with a solution to the two player scoring conundrum, but by that point it was too late to add it back into the game.
Last year at Essen I had one game that had been out just over a month. I had very few distributors, so very few people owned a copy of it. It was to all intents and purposes a new release for Essen. This year I've a game that came out last September, and was at Essen last year, a game that came out last November (so hasn't been to Essen yet) and a game that came out in June. While most of my European distributors haven't picked up Sumeria, I can't really describe it as an Essen release - it's been out for three months.
There had been interest in the two player game and I had considered making an expansion at some point. When it became clear to me that sales over the Summer wouldn't be good enough to fund a new release for Essen (and in fact I've not received a submission that was ready to go in time anyway), I started thinking of ways to entice people to my stand. Since all three of the games I've got are theoretically available in stores - why come to my stand at Essen to get them when there's so many shiny new things coming out?
So I went back to the 2 player expansion idea. I wanted to make the expansion as cheap as possible for the buying public to make it more of a impulse purchase, and also to allow me to provide it as an Essen promo freebie - buy Sumeria at my Essen stand and you get this limited expansion for free!
That lead me down a particular route. If I sell a game to shops via distributors the retail price should be 5 times the manufacturing cost - i.e. if it costs me £2 to make it, it should retail for £10 (it doesn't work out quite like this - my margins are tighter). If however I only sell to people directly (at cons and via my website) then I can price it at 2 times the manufacturing cost (e.g. a £1 per copy manufacturing cost leads to a £2 retail price). I choose the latter route. The next decision was packaging. If you're selling to shops you want a nice pretty box that will look good on the shelf and attract peoples' eye. If you're selling directly you don't need that. The expansion can come in a baggie and the customer can store it inside the original box. This further cuts manufacturing costs (no box art needed and a baggie is much cheaper than a small box), and fits with my "small box, no wasted space" ethos. Again that cheaper option is the route I chose.
The expansion arrived at my house last Monday. I'd chosen to have it delivered to my house instead of the warehouse since it would be quite small and I was expecting it to be delivered by a courier. Instead a 7.5ton lorry turned up with the expansion on a pallet. It was five medium-sized boxes, which failed to even fill the bottom of a pallet - seemed like overkill! The lorry driver helped me cut the shrink-wrapping off the pallet and lift the five boxes off the pallet, which I then carried into my office. Opening the first box the expansions looked like exactly what I was expecting - no surprises there.
It's not been a completely smooth ride though. On top of the mental week of Essen travel disasters, there was a small problem with the expansion. In the two player game each player takes four turns per round, whereas in the three and four player games you only get three. The sticker in the expansion is designed to cover the three space turn track with a new four space turn track.
Unfortunately the sticker is a bit too transparent, so if you put it over the turn track as designed you can see the old turn track underneath. It looks rubbish.
Fortunately there is a solution: Cut the sticker in half between the three and four spaces and throw away the 1-3 bit. Add the 4 bit to the board just below and to the right of the three space printed on the board.
Works fine :) But it's a bit inconvenient and doesn't reflect especially well on my production values. I think I'll include a slip of paper in each bag at Essen explaining this fix.