The Whole StoryI've been sending you emails about The Duchess, a new board gaming table on Kickstarter right now. It occurs to me that some of you might not fully know what I am talking about. You might not know the history of BoardGameTables.com, why board gaming tables are great, and what is so special about our custom tables and The Duchess.
I Wanted a Table for MyselfIn late 2014, my friends and I were lamenting about how we wanted a board game table, but the only ones available were very expensive and had a 15 month wait. My friend had found a couple of local woodworkers selling nice poker tables. He wondered if they might be interested in making a custom board game table.
But it seemed to me that we couldn't be the only ones having this frustration. We weren't the only ones looking for a more affordable board game table. Instead of just asking them if they would make me a custom table, I asked them if they would be willing to partner with me to bring custom board game tables to all of you too.
The First PrototypeSince the woodworkers were already used to making eight-sided poker tables, we decided to stick with the eight-sided shape for the first board game table prototype. It would have the main game table features. An inset play area, a padded surface, cup holders, and drawers.
Drawing and conversations went back and forth. Within a few weeks, I was staring at a beautiful table. It looked great. I was ready to start selling them right away.
And then I played some games on it.
Things were not as good as I hoped. Several little problems cropped up. The padding in the play area was too firm, so it wasn't easy enough to pick up cards. The rail had a lip that hung over the play area, which would hide your pieces from you. The inset play area was too deep and crowded your knees too much. The mechanism for removing the topper wasn't refined.
So, it wasn't going to be quite as easy as we all hoped. On to the next prototype.
Better PrototypesThings got better quickly. We had a couple of great game nights on our rectangle table prototype, and then a hexagon.
Now I was ready to put it to the real test: dinner with the in-laws. All our tables come with optional toppers that convert them into a traditional gaming table.
Near the end of dinner, my father-in-law said, "Chad, tell me about this new table business you're starting." I pointed down to the table we were eating on and said, "This is one of them." He was shocked. He thought we were just eating on a nice dining table. He had no idea that it was also a gaming table.
Of course, that is exactly what we want. Not a compromise, but a great gaming table AND a great dining table.
We were ready for prime time.
Are these features really useful?Even as we built the first prototype, I was a bit of a skeptic. Are these features really that useful or are they just gimmicks? I don't want to put my name on a gimmick.
I already knew that a padded play surface was the real deal. I had played lots of games on a table covered with a giant neoprene pad. This was the main reason I wanted a game type.
But I really questioned the inset play area. I mean, really. Is it really that great to have the playing area sunken down and rails around the edge to rest your elbows on? The first prototype convinced me. The inset play area is not a gimmick. It is a must. It keeps everything on the table and makes it all so much more visible. I don't ever want to play without that feature.
The second question was cup holders. A friend was really giving me some push back on these. Is it really so bad to set your drink on top of the table? Do people really spill that much? Are they more hassle than they are worth? As luck would have it, he had an extra room in his house, and I didn't in mine. So the octagon prototype table lived at his place.
He held a big 3 day, 20+ person board gaming weekend. By the end of the weekend, he was singing a different tune. "Every time I look at that table, the cup holders are in use," he told me. "Very convenient. Slide them out when you need them. Slide them in when you don't. It's great having the drinks out of our way. " I agreed. I pulled the cup holder out and filled it with Starburst candies.
Sales and ReviewsAt this point, I didn't waste any time, I built a website and started getting the word out.
We kept thing simple at first. Only 2 models: A 3' x 5' Rectangle and a Hexagon. Optional topper, cup holders, and drawers.
We got our first sale on the second day the site was live. It wasn't long before the positive reviews started pouring in:
- Boardgametables.com his and hers table review
- Another Review of BoardGameTables.com
- BoardGameTables.com Board Game and LEGO Tables
- Review - Gaming Table from BoardGameTables.com
- Board Game Tables - with Ryan Metzler
- And More Testimonials
Check Them OutIf you haven't yet, you can read all about these custom built tables on BoardGameTables.com.
All these tables are custom built just for you by experienced woodworkers. In fact, if you don't see exactly what you are looking for, just email us (firstname.lastname@example.org). We can't do everything, but we can do a lot. We deliver your table to you about 60 - 75 days after you place your order.
Traveling to ConventionsThis success afforded me something really cool. I got to be a vendor at Gen Con, Origins, and PAX South. I also brought tables to two great conventions that I had been attending for years: Board Game Geek Con and Geekway to the West.
I got to meet so many gamers, talk to so many of you about what you play, how you play, and where you play. These conversations led directly to many of the new features and new sizes that I referenced above.
There was one piece of feedback that I ignored for a long time. I ignored it because I didn't think I could do anything about it.
People would say, "Your tables are really nice. I don't think they are too expensive. I've seen many normal dining tables that are more expensive for less quality. That is just more than I want to spend on a table."
Finally. On the last day of PAX South, I made up my mind. BoardGameTables.com would continue to sell high quality craftsman tables. But I would also aggressively pursue a more affordable option.
A More Affordable OptionOne month ago, that more affordable table went live on Kickstarter. The support from the community has been outstanding. As I type this, it is the 69th highest funded Kickstarter ever, in all categories. The campaign ends on Tuesday. It has a real chance of cracking the top 50 by then.
This table, The Duchess, takes the most popular features from our gaming tables, but it is built in a factory in bulk instead of built to order, and it is built in such a way that it can be broken down to fit into a small box and then assembled at home by you.
Now we are able to offer two great options. You can choose what makes sense for you.