The Deluxe Dilemma: What Do You Think?

27 February 2020 | 151 Comments

I’m having a bit of an internal debate with myself, so today I’m going to ramble a bit about deluxe versions of games. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the poll and/or the comments.

Back in my Kickstarter days, I loved the concept of the premium option. It’s still featured on many projects today: There’s a core reward (the retail version of the game), and under it is a premium version of the reward (a deluxe version of the game). Creators use that data to make enough deluxe games for Kickstarter backers (plus a small buffer), and then they proceed to manufacture the retail version on an ongoing basis if it’s a hit.

But for publishers like Stonemaier Games that don’t use Kickstarter and sell mostly through distribution, offering both standard and deluxe versions of the same game is a dilemma.

This is on my mind today because I’m working on a big game that I’d love to sell for an $80 MSRP at most. I’m already pushing that barrier with the standard components. But there are few non-essential components I’d really like to add. Usually I’d simply offer them ala carte on our webstore, but I’m also considering a deluxe option. That’s the debate.

Below are the two options and why I like each of them.

Standard Game Only with Optional Add-Ons

  • Brand Consistency: My goal for every Stonemaier Game is for it to feel like a deluxe game out of the box. That was the strategy for all of our post-Kickstarter games: Charterstone, My Little Scythe, Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Wingspan, and Tapestry. I like the idea of maintaining that consistency for the Stonemaier brand.
  • Eliminate Consumer Confusion: There’s so much potential for confusion if you offer multiple versions of a game. We still get questions about different versions of our games that were on Kickstarter, even though it’s been 5 years since we closed that chapter with Scythe. Maybe you see a friend’s game or a game on a review video and then you buy the standard version, only to learn that the game you wanted was the deluxe version.
  • Ease of Manufacturing: If you’re just making one game plus some add ons, they’re each a separate product that you produce as needed (this makes demand forecasting easier). But if there’s a standard and a deluxe game with overlapping components, it’s better to produce them at the same time for economies of scale, even though one might be selling faster than the other.
  • Consumer Flexibility: When you’re buying a game, you may not know at that point how much you like it, so you may start with just the core game. If you love it and know you’re going to play it for a long time, you can add on the fancy bits later.
  • Retailer Preference: My perception is that retailers prefer a single standard version of a game with add-ons that they can also sell. Retailers don’t seem to like when the only source for the deluxe version of the game is the publisher.
  • Streamlined Graphic Design at Art: It’s easier for my graphic designer and artists to create 1 box instead of several boxes.
  • Increased Margins on Upsells: Selling each of the special components separately would be more profitable than bundling them into a single deluxe version.

Both Standard and Deluxe Games

Before I proceed, I should note that this option actually creates 3 SKUs: 1 standard game, 1 deluxe game, and 1 deluxe upgrade pack for those who originally bought the standard version and later decide they want the deluxe components. We would probably sell the standard game and the deluxe upgrade pack through distribution.

  • Streamlined Ordering Process: When a customer wants to buy the game from us, instead of adding multiple items to their cart–and potentially forgetting certain items that later requires manual changes–they can simply choose the standard or the deluxe version.
  • Fulfillment Simplicity: It’s easier and faster for our fulfillment centers to ship 1 box instead of components, and it allows them to order the same packaging in bulk.
  • Precise Box Size: We would design the deluxe box specifically to hold both the standard and special components (with room for expansions, if applicable). This is opposed to making a larger-than-necessary standard box simply because an unknown percentage of people might add the extra stuff.
  • More Control Over a Reasonable Price: We sell products on our website at full MSRP because of our relationship with retailers. However, if we have a product we don’t offer through retail–like the Scythe metal mechs–we can offer any price we want. So even though the deluxe version of the game might normally have a $120 MSRP, if we’re only selling it direct, we could offer it for $99 or even less.
  • There’s Evidence That People Like Deluxe Versions: Despite what I said above about “consumer flexibility,” I’m endlessly surprised by the number of early adopters on Kickstarter–people who haven’t played the game yet and won’t receive it for 12+ months–who choose the premium rewards, even if they’re considerably more expensive than the standard game. That’s not my typical approach as a Kickstarter backer, but the evidence is there that many people like having that option.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider here! I’d love to hear your thoughts as consumers and creators, whether it’s in the comments or the poll below.

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Leave a Comment

151 Comments on “The Deluxe Dilemma: What Do You Think?

  1. For foreigners, the best solution is to get the best game as possible in retail. Buying the game through your website generate 2 majors issues : language and shipping cost. So to not have frustration I would prefere a deluxe retail box.
    Now it depends of your conception of deluxe. Based on past experience, we can already say your game are already deluxe.

    1. I agree. Ordering directly from the manufacturer is great in theory, but is prohibitively expensive when ordering from another country. Shipping, customs, and currency exchange quickly make the total cost unreasonable. I would prefer a deluxe edition option that is available from my local distributor. A basic edition with upgrade packs would also be welcome, but these are frequently not available from my local stores and they often don’t fit in the base box leading to extra costs and mental energy investigating third party storage solutions.

      1. I think this depends quite a bit on the country. Also, if the publisher is selling directly, they can offer the deluxe version at a significantly lower cost than if they need to add the 5x markup for distribution.

  2. My personal preference would be to buy the standard game. As others have mentioned, your “standard” games are other publishers “super mega deluxe” games. In the event that I like the game I like to upgrade the pieces and parts as time goes on. That is what kept me playing Scythe consistently for a couple years – the steady stream of upgrades and then having it feel like a new game every time I ordered another upgrade.
    If you offered a deluxe version I would definitely buy it but I predict I would play it less since I wouldn’t be constantly adding new upgrades. Just my .02c.

  3. Hey,
    I am not really sure why you are struggling Jamey. Most game releases are mediocre. Robo Rally 2016 has awful components. Releases like this require updates or changes. Wingspan, Scythe, and Viticulture come with amazing component quality, artwork and theme. The reason youre my #2 designer/#1 company is because you think ahead. To my your games already are the new deluxe anniversary editions. There is no need to update your games. Other games definitely need updates and new releases.
    Cheers, Neil

  4. Well, my opinion is in the minority (standard game only). My thinking is that you can’t be all things to all people. Make a great game. If people want to bling it out, that’s on them. You, as a company, don’t *need* to do that *as well*. Especially if you’re making a new game. Make one game, as best you can, and let it go. As I’m sure you know, there have been mixed (at best) reviews about the necessity for the buildings in Tapestry. The game could have reached a wider audience if the cost of production wasn’t as “binged out” as you made it. The game would have been just as beautiful (in my opinion) without the 3D buildings. Anyway, you do whatever you’re gonna do, I’m sure it’ll be great. But I will say that anytime I see a kickstarter campaign with a “standard” and “deluxe” options separately, I low-key resent it. It feels like the campaign is saying, “this is the game we want to make, and here’s a version for the poor/frugal. Just make the game you want.

  5. So I picked standard with maybe add on later. The reason for this is that it so heavily depends on the game/ publisher. Save metal coins, I don’t think there’s a consistent upgrade I feel SM products “need” based on price point (I really despise cardboard money) even though I prefer the deluxe products generally. The general quality is so high it’s less of an issue.

    Now with a product like Terraforming Mars I think it shows where investing in better components/production at the starts would make a huge difference. Its a brilliant game, but doesn’t hit my table as often b/c I worry about component degradation.

    As a suggestion, assuming it’s not something that’s been thought of, it might be worth knowing what the customer base values most so far as premium components are concerned. That way the choice of what to include, offer later is easier since there’s less guesswork.

    Hope that helps!

  6. The Root folks simply give the expansions out for essentially free with their base games. That way an early backer gets the upgraded components for backing early, but pays full retail price instead of paying a reduced backer price for the retail version.

  7. Hey Jamey,

    As an Australian resident I prefer to buy the deluxe product with everything included in one hit which saves me as I only have to pay postage once which is costly thing. Much like your goal for your games being the feature game on game night your games are a feature buy for me, so i know im going to be up for a decent amount of money for a great game and im happy to allow for the premium of getting the deluxe benefits. Its just nice to have a few weeks to save up or allow for it once the presale opens. I think my cashflow was tight around the time the Tapestry presale came up and i remember feeling like I didnt have enough time to get the money together and i scraped it together (I have a strict board game budget!!!).

    Hope this helps!

  8. I usually would go with a standard version or a version with a few add-ons. However Stonemaiergames publish with a quality that is a step above the rest. Therefore I would expect a deluxe game to truly feel deluxe if they published it, and that is what I would buy.

  9. So I voted for buy standard and get upgrades now. In truth, if a deluxe were offered I would get that. I voted the other only because I know having to have both on hand is a pain and its easier on SM Games to only have to manufacture and warehouse a base game and an upgrade pack.

  10. This is a tough answer. I know with Stonemaier games there is typically a way to bling out my copy. I wouldn’t say I have FOMO but I don’t like to have incomplete games. I want the best version of a game. If there is better components and upgrades I will typically be inclined to purchase them if I see the game hitting the table more and more. Basically if I can upgrade anything cardboard to wood or plastic I am in. Player boards or game board being dual layered. (Legacies deluxe game comes with a dual layer game board. For an add on they have a neoprene night version mat. I would prefer my pieces not slide around on the game board than have a neoprene mat. I will say though that I own multiple neoprene mats because I would rather them than cardboard. (Scythe, Raiders of the North Sea, Rurik Dawn of Kiev all come to mind.)
    When backing a Kickstarter I will typically go all in on the deluxe version if the game appeals to something my group would typically play or that I could get new comers to the hobby to play. That is because I am not sure I will have the opportunity to upgrade said game at a later date.
    Stonemaier though gives you that feel of a deluxe game with the game trays in euphoria and BTCML, clay buildings in tapestry, figurines in Scythe, dice tower and eggs in wingspan and so on. I don’t feel shorted when I buy a Stonemaier game and most the time I don’t feel like I need to upgrade the game.
    So I voted for standard with the option to upgrade. I will say though that Stonemaier has set the standard for deluxe gaming.
    I appreciate the quality of every game put out by Stonemaier and your willingness to be better.

    Thank you Jamey! Keep up the great work!

  11. I don’t buy expansions (only one I have is Wingspan) or pimp my games. I think Wingspan hit the spot on price vs component quality.

  12. This is a tough one. I voted for the “deluxe with everything included” option because if I really like a game, I want everything blinged out, and I generally don’t like separate boxes. Having to have a separate box for deluxe components later is a bit of a hassle. Having said that, I found that I am less likely to bring my collector’s edition of Trickerion or Scythe in the “Legendary Box” to game night. So maybe I need to have a talk with myself and figure out what’s really more important to me :D

    Oh, I would say that specifically for kickstarter projects, I don’t like the FOMO that is produced when you know you might not see certain parts of a game when it goes to retail. But I guess that’s the nature of kickstarter. I’m starting to wean myself off it (for the most part).

  13. After I consider buying a game the biggest factor for me is the cost of transport. For this reason, if I like the concept of the game, and think that I will buy it, I will always go for the deluxe version and try to bundle other things with it, having to pay extra transport costs down the line adds so much more to the overall cost.

    In fact I generally look at the transport cost first before even considering a game, if transport is too high, then there are plenty more games out there to look at.

    This is the reason that buying through the Champion offers does not usually work for me, even with a discount, buying a game from a local hub is usually the most cost effective method.

    I live in Australia.

  14. The answer I have for this question is one that instructors often give in professional training – “It depends!” I couldn’t decide until I see the game and the differences between standard and deluxe versions.

    But I can relate my own experience with Scythe. I purchased Scythe after it was in regular production but upgraded versions we’re still available (I think). After viewing all the different versions and add-ons I chose the standard version. Standard retail Scythe has a lot of great bits and feels premium, and was still at the high end of what I typically spent for games. Over the years, I’ve added all 3 expansions, the Legendary box, metal coins and the modular board.

    I can justify/manage spreading that expense out over the years in a way I couldn’t do when looking at a single $150+ price tag at one time. I have no regrets with my decision to upgrade gradually when though I’ve probably spent a little more over time.

  15. I feel like the brand speaks for itself. Stonemaier has solidified its name with components that are deluxe. I have no issue with paying extra for a Stonemaier game, because not very many games are released and I know what I’m getting is top tier. I really appreciate the care and thoughtfulness that goes into your products and am willing to pay for the best, full version of the game out of the gate.

  16. I find deluxe games add to the experience for me. However with Stonemaier I will agree that the games feel deluxe to begin with.

  17. While I clicked on “standard with deluxe upgrade”, the truth is “it depends.” How much money do I have to spend on games right now? How excited am I for the gameplay? How well does the description of the game fit my game preferences?

    For instance, I did not buy Tapestry. While I thought the basic mechanics were interesting and component quality would be amazing (and it is), the price told me this was a deluxe game and I saw little that I wanted to add to my game collection in that game. On the other hand, I’ve since added more components to my copy of Wingspan (replacing the action cubes and food tokens) and would have jumped at the chance for the deluxe game version if it had been available.

  18. Hi Jamie I’m not sure if you read these comments entirely or if my anecdotal response is helpful. But I at least wanted to offer some clarification to my response. I responded deluxe. But there is a caveat to that. It really Hass to be a game that I absolutely love. For example with viticulture and scythe Those are two of my favorite games of all time. I backed scythe on ks And I’ve kept up with everything cents. However if I had not that would be a game that I would deluxify. Same with viti. With viticulture I have the base plus Tuscany before you did the essentials addition but if I did not I would go out and still buy it because I like having all of the nice components the individual types of workers With viticulture I have the base plus Tuscany before you did the essentials addition but if I did not I would go out and still buy it because I like having all of the nice components the individual types of workers everything like that. Another game that I really enjoy is pipeline and I went out and bought 3-D printed oil barrels because I felt that made the game more thematic and I would’ve been willing to pay more off the shelf if it came with barrels instead of cubes. That does not mean I feel the need to deluxe every game that I have. It Hass to be a game that has depth and richness And typically expensive so many options that I could never do all of them even if I played at 10 times in a row. Other games that are more streamlined or where the decisions are Either binary or the variability to those decisions is small I feel less of a need to deluxify. The last thing though is if the theme and mechanisms really speak to me then I’m willing to go for a higher price point for nicer stuff. But that all really boils down to if the mechanisms and game it’s self is something that I like in the decisions are numerous an extremely varied from each other then delux all the way.

  19. I also voted Deluxe game. As I try to but a limited number of games I prefer the upgraded version. I like the feel of metal coins over cardboard coins. Food that actually looks like a fish or a worm are harder to confuse 1 for the other. That being said, I do applaud Stonemaier Games for the high quality games you do put out, and I look forward to seeing you at GenCon. Keep them coming. Thank you.

  20. There’s nothing quite like filling out a consumer poll only to realize that almost no one agrees with you.

    I put Standard only, but also agree with the other two standard options.

    I love the games you publish. I love them because of the gameplay. I understand wanting to provide a premium experience, but isn’t good game play the ultimate point, the base of the play experience?

    Isn’t making that good game play accessible to a wider audience that can’t afford all the flashy deluxe versions a worthwhile goal?

    I worry that this poll may be skewed by a self-selecting audience.

  21. I answered “Deluxe Game,” but only because of the way you worded the question. It is, now, the version I’d be most likely to buy, given these choices. But if the question had been, “What would you do if you were in my shoes?” my answer would certainly be “Standard with add-ons available.” I’m relatively new to Stonemaier, brought in by Wingspan. When I then turned to Viticulture (mostly because of a gift recipient who loves wine), I was initially very confused by the different versions and expansions. Thank goodness your website straightened everything out for me.

  22. Jamey, you define yourself by what you say no to.

    So far you have always said no to:

    – Anything but a premium offering
    – Customer confusion
    – Being the cheap option

    The people in the market for the above are spoiled for choice.

    Stay your course.


  23. I think the question that needs to be asked here is what is deluxe? Are Stonemaier games right now being shipped as deluxe games? Would Jamey have added even better components for it to be considered deluxe. I believe that most if not all of Stonemaier games have some of the best components around. I also feel the price points are acceptable. Do I want Stonemaier games to sell the game at a cheaper price point with lower quality components? Do I really want to know that I could have got Wingspan for let’s say $20 dollars, but would have not gotten the dice tower, the card holder, or the sweet instruction book on high quality paper. I know that sounds silly but the first thing everyone says when we open the Wingspan box is what kind of paper is this? (instruction booklet) Offering a deluxe and standard edition? I guess you could do this, but I wonder if it would increase sales enough to make it worth it. Most people who pick up a Stonemaier game now have expectations of quality components. Not sure Stonemaier would want to tarnish that reputation to sell a few more copies of a game.

    I think Stonemaier should keep the games the way they are. I do not want to see the quality of art, components, and extras to go away for a lower price point. Now if the game that is being produced now is the standard version and Stonemaier offers a deluxe game with better components I would be interested to see what more he could add.


  24. The quality of Stonemaier Games is always second to none…:that goes for components, manuals, quality of play.
    I think they’re all “Deluxe” to begin with.
    That said….I prefer to buy deluxe well made upgraded components when possible BUT do not want to buy them after the fact. I’d like them from the start. Buying upgraded resource tokens and such afterwards feels like a waste to me…in money as well as just having the old ones laying around.
    Regardless….I will buy whatever Stonemaier puts out.

  25. I honestly think this vote is skewed a bit simply because of who created the poll :) Because this is a Stonemaier poll, of course I chose Deluxe, because I know what I am going to get – quality game and quality components. If it was a generic poll across the entire gaming-dom, I would vote the standard with optional add-ons option.

  26. Some games lend themselves to have deluxe components and as long as they add to the game either in looks or gameplay I have no problem. Deluxe games seem to be priced £100+. Saying I would not be interested in recent games like scythe or charterstone being deluxe. Deluxe is good for bring back great, old and not published games or new games. Personally I prefer all in deluxe or standard for new games none of this half and half stuff, plus deluxe should mean deluxe.

  27. For sure the Deluxe version IF it gives an upgrade and enjoyable gaming experience. For example… The basic mech from Scythe are really ok. Having the metals one are not a must for a deluxe version. Having the bigger map is a must deluxe item for me.

  28. People have already commented saying essentially what I would say, but – I think there is demand for a deluxe game, as you observe in the post. I personally feel you always strike a good balance (as you say in the post!) with making your regular games already feel special /enough/ and I probably wouldn’t buy the deluxe add-on. I haven’t felt the need to have metal coins in Scythe. Or realistic tokens. The ones we have are really nice.

    But… if I was there on the market, I’d be more likely to consider it, and MIGHT upgrade, if I like the game a lot and know I already play it lots, also if the upgrade isn’t too expensive. An example of this is that I did upgrade ‘Near and Far’ to metal coins when the N&F expansion content was kickstarted, but I wouldn’t necessarily have bought them when N&F came out, even though I knew I would love it, because I loved ‘Above and Below’.

    I’m also much more likely to consider it, if it’s in a retailer in the UK where I live than from the Stonemaier website. I really like ordering direct from you, because I want to give you the most money possible from the game sale, and I will definitely do it when you open pre-orders for the game because I trust you enough to know I 100% want the game at all. (Do I trust you enough to know I will love the game and play it all the time and THEREFORE want to upgrade? Maybe. It depends what it is (open world – maybe, co-op… hm. Possibly, etc. I’d still prefer to play it before I invest.) But also, there’s the issue of shipping costs, and shipping time.

    I really like your strategy of telling people about the game on the day you can pre-order it, because I love that instant hit of ‘yes! I can have this soon’, but shipping from America, even with the distribution centres in the UK, still takes ages i.e. one of my friends in America got Tapestry a few weeks before me, and I still got it early, but given my impatience to play it, I also wanted an even more instant hit… and so therefore I’d prefer to be able to order off Amazon Prime or in a shop, and get the deluxe expansion in a day.

    Or (the ideal) find some way I could give you the money direct, but not have to wait or pay for shipping to the UK.

    1. Thanks Katy! We have a fulfillment center in the UK, and they’re typically faster than our US fulfillment center. I can’t recall the exact circumstances for Tapestry, but that’s the case in general, so you should be able to order from us at any time and get the product within a week from the UK.

  29. While deluxe items are nice, the increased cost eventually means I’ll own less games. Most of us have a budget. If I constantly buy deluxe games, I’ll have prettier games, but less of them, therefore less options on what to play.
    For me, the game’s the thing, not how it looks.

    So my answer is make upgrade packs available and stick with less costly base games.

  30. Firstly, let me say that you do a very good job of making your games feel like “deluxe” out of the box. Your company produces some of the most beautiful games in my collection, only being eclipsed by one other publisher, whose games are considerably more expensive. But I feel like that extra expense likely drastically reduces the number of people who are going to end up owning them.
    Having said that, I think that if it were me making the decision, I would create a standard version of the game, with optional deluxe components and room in the standard box for those components. This would make the game available to as wide a customer base as possible, while allowing those with limited budgets to play now and bling out the game if they love it over time without having to worry about how things will be stored.
    When I’m considering a game on Kickstarter that offers multiple versions, it’s never a knee jerk decision to buy the deluxe version, often those versions offer “expansions” which I either question the wisdom of buying before experiencing the gameplay, or think should have been included in the base to begin with because of the extent of the added content. I will often buy them if the difference in price is not excessive and moves components from cardboard to wood, as I personally prefer that.
    I look forward to seeing what your next project turns out to be!

  31. For me it very much depends on what the upgrades are. Thinking in general industry terms rather than just Stonemaier Games, card sleeves are a good example. I used to be a sleever, but I don’t sleeve my games anymore. If an upgrade pack included sleeves, I would be reluctant to buy it since I know I’m not going to use at least part of it. I would rather be able to choose individual upgrades a la carte in this situation.

    That being said, I love deluxe components, especially custom shapes and materials that match the game components (like the weighty metal slugs for the iron in Scythe). The other one that comes immediately to mind is the upgraded tokens for Quacks – they really improve the feeling of the game!

  32. I’m usually hesitant to spend a lot if I haven’t played a game. But then if I love it I’d probably want to get deluxe bits. So a standard game with good pieces out of the box, but with the option to upgrade some other components later (if they are causing a pricing issue), would probably suit me. That’s what I’ve done with Scythe by adding metal coins and probably realistic tokens at some point. The fact that Tapestry is really good straight out of the box means it’s special already and I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything. I took the risk because I really like Jamey’s games and what I’d seen of the artwork and gameplay in advance from Jamey’s teaser videos, made me want it. (Referring to Dusty’s comment – I think cardboard buildings would have been a disappointment)

  33. I feel theres an argument to be made for both sides. If considering Deluxe and perhaps apprehensive about additional cost, theres certainly many KS you can refer to that show people will indeed put down the cash to get a premium product (just look at KDM).

    On the other hand, perhaps a customers opinion is that they love the game in everyway, but really would have prefered a version without minis, or wooden resources, etc ….

    In conclusion…I think issuing a standard game with an optional box that upgrades everything, is the best of both worlds. Those who are happy with the basic game get it at a price theyre happy with and still have the option to upgrade if they change their mind. And those who want it all, but both from the start and get what make them happy to.

  34. I wonder how the cost of producing 3 SKUs compares to the additional customer base you gain with a standard game. At the end of the day, having a $60 (or less) game puts it in the realm of videogames, etc and makes it a somewhat more available to someone who wants to just try it out.

    It’s hard to pick games and say they’re a good example, because games have their own unique characteristics that determine demand. Sure, Wingspan was $55 and incredibly successful, but also it’s a great game. Tapestry was outside this price range and didn’t do as well, but it also didn’t have the mass appeal that Wingspan had (outside of the price point).

    I think one thing to keep in mind is that at a higher price point (and I’ll just keep the $60 one, because I think it’s realistic), you’re essentially appealing only to “gamers” as opposed to a broader customer base. And gamers tend to have stronger priors on what makes a game good/bad, how the game compares to other games in the genre, which components are necessary/wasteful, etc. So if you only have a deluxe game (say, $100), you appeal to a tougher crowd that may/may not want deluxe components and you lose out completely on the broader base that might see the game at a store and say “hey, this looks neat, let’s try it out!” (That is, very few people are going to run out and buy a $100 game on a whim.)

  35. Honestly, I really like the idea of everything being included. However, I have also been extremely pleased by the creativity of the board game community in creating some of those deluxe pieces as well. For example, the Wooden Birds from Meeple Source – or other designs on Etsy (etc.).

  36. I think the most important thing is to give priority to the game over the business that it may involve, this is to prioritize the essential components and give them the entire design load regardless of their value.
    I personally prefer to have everything in a single box because the storage space in my apartment begins to be reduced, so if there are then the extras that are not essential and involve me more boxes I prefer not to acquire them. ( It kind happens to me with the extra wingspan expansion box: I could organize everything in the base box but now I have the extra container taking up space. I am not going to throw it because it is a beautiful element, but I am not sure that it will acquire more expansions for wingspan (?!) or maybe, if they contribute more than just more birds to the game? )
    But over everything, trust your instinct,… the concept of the game is where the answers are! Stonemaier games is synonymous with quality and I am sure that your criteria will be correct !!!

  37. I love deluxe components, and like a box that fits them. Getting them after I’ve already purchased the game as separate pieces is always a hesitation, though. Wingspan is a great example. I’d love an upgrade kit so I know I’m getting what I need rather than trying to figure out what’s what. And all the parts feel so much more expensive piecemeal that I often don’t bother. Which is a little sad – I enjoy so much the deluxe version that I usually just start that way.

  38. I like the idea of a semi-deluxe version of a game that maintains Stonemaier Design / Presentation / Product principals but also simplifies the add-ons. Scythe is such an extreme case because there are amazing add-ons, but they are also plentiful, which is awesome but not conducive to this point. Let’s look at Tapestry since that is a perfect example. Tapestry is beautiful, right out of the box, everything is premium. But people are grumping about the cost. “I would have preferred cardboard buildings” and maybe for them, that would be premium enough. In Tapestry’s case, you could have had the standard game with cardboard buildings, and maybe even cardboard income buildings. And then have a single upgrade package, smaller box, Tapestry Premium Upgrade Kit (this feels very Kickstarter-ey-ish) and inside would be those beautiful buildings and income buildings. For those who want to get the base game, they can still experience a Stonemaier Game at a more approachable cost point AND they can upgrade it later without the Scythe-like question: What’s the difference between Promo pack 1 and 2? I have these cards, is that promo pack 1? Was it 2? Did I miss 2? … Not to pick on Scythe because it’s my absolute favorite game and I love every premium upgrade I’ve bought. But it’s a lot easier to drop $30 .. month later drop $20 .. month later drop $40. Than it is to try and go ALL-IN on Scythe and drop.. oh boy, I haven’t even figured that new total.. $500+? (Counting metal mechs/coins/realistic resources/etc)

  39. It’s my belief that the core retail version should always be able to stand on its own without help from “deluxe” packs and components. I enjoy promos, extra bits, and special pieces as much as the next guy but when it comes down to it, I would always pay as little as possible for the meat of the game. I’ve always been happy with the cardboard coins in scythe. It’s one of my favorite games but I never felt that the metal coins were necessary. Fun, sure, but I would never spend that money on my own. Later, a friend of mine bought them for me for my birthday. They sure look pretty and are fun to handle but they add nothing to the game. I never felt I was missing out on something before I had the metal coins.

  40. If all things were equal and resources didn’t matter, I’d say the ability to offer both would be an excellent choice. There will be those who like a no frills version, and others who really want to go all in.

    That said – resources are always a factor. Given that, I think you have an amazing following of folks who truly love your product. They respect your outputs, know you will deliver an amazing product, and that product will be both visually stunning as well as a wonderful gaming experience.

    Given the above, I think the deluxe is the way to go. Your group is one that borders fanatical (in a good sense), have been proven time and time again that you will always deliver, and as such are more than willing to pay a premium for a deluxe product, because they know that product will always “hit the mark” and go beyond.

    Regardless, your product will be amazing, you will not LOSE potential buyers by going with a standard, but you will certainly excite your market base with the release of a deluxe item we can cherish each and every time we bring it to the table.

  41. I picked the standard game only option which puts me in the definite minority. Let me attempt to explain my choice…
    1) To me, it is the price point. While I do enjoy upgraded components and bits (and other bling), I can get just as much enjoyment out of a game with cardboard chits as I can out of the same game with upgraded (deluxe) components. I have a limited gaming budget and can buy more standard edition games than I can deluxe games.
    2) If I really, really enjoy a game, I have bought, and probably will continue to buy upgraded components. But ONLY if it is a game that will get a significant amount of table time. I don’t need bling to sit on a shelf gathering dust.
    3) I will always try a game out first, BEFORE going all in on a purchase of a deluxe version of the game. If that means that someday after I have tried and liked the game and seek out a copy to buy, that I find only standard retail versions are available (unless I want to pay through the nose for a rare deluxe version), so be it. I will be content with the standard version. Refer to reason 1.
    4) Finally, storage space. I have a limited amount of storage space available for games. If I can fit expansions in the base game box, so much the better. In fact, my office at work has a shelf full of board game expansion boxes which makes for a nice topic of conversation. Standard versions of games generally have smaller box sizes and hence leave more room to store other games. Also, a certain amount of bling or upgraded components can fit in a standard game box size. I have made my own custom inserts and discarded the original box insert just to make room for the bling with games I really like.

  42. It depends on the quality of the standard components. If they are thin cardboard that are hard to pick up if you have arthritis, I will upgrade to deluxe components. I have upgraded certain games on my own so that I could pick up the pieces. I generally prefer wood to plastic, so that influences my decision. And for kickstarters, the track record of the creators will influence my decision as well. I often get the deluxe version, though. And yes, I went and found burgundy glass tokens for Viticulture for the red grapes and wine.

  43. Sometimes there’s also the sustainability or materials reasoning for buying the deluxe game right out of the gate. Wooden or metal components instead of plastic ones can be more sustainable and I like paying more if more sustainable materials are being used and less sustainable ones aren’t even produced in the first place (which would be case otherwise, if I bought the standard version first and then opted for deluxe components later).

  44. If there is a delux version, you better believe I’ll buy the delux version :). I’m happy to pay extra to get better quality stuff.

  45. I’m a huge fan of Stonemaier. You keep doing things right and I trust you now. If it was announced that Stonemaier was releasing a new game and it costs $150, I would buy it with no other information needed. If Stonemaier released a game that costs $40…I would have questions. How many companies can pull that off?

  46. I answered “deluxe version,” but my answer would be different if someone different asked me the same question. That’s because:
    1) As a member of my local game community, I always want to support you at the highest level I can.
    2) You make such consistently good games that I’m sure I’ll enjoy the game enough to want the deluxe version. For a game I’m a little less excited about, I’d sometimes rather try the cheaper version and get the deluxe stuff later if I like it enough.
    3) I’m a bit of a gaming snob and I want my stuff to be better than standard. :-)

    Also, I’ve noticed that a deluxe version often has a higher value later on than the standard version, especially if it is limited. Even a mediocre game with the “limited” bits is much more likely to hold value, in the event I want to sell it later on. I don’t really speculate on games, but I do cycle my games in and out of my collection, and it’s nice to get a bit more value for them a few years later.

  47. Hi Jamey,

    I’m a boardgamer and a proud fan of your games, but for this comment I have my industrial engineering hat on also, because this is a efficiency/cost structure problem additionally. This is only my 2 cents on how I would do it and it includes some speculation :) :

    My option would be Base Game + upgrade pack.

    But my definition of base game is a “Stonemaier base game”: linen finish, nice inserts, spot printing, quality cardboards, etc.

    Upgrade pack would be versions of some of the components or extra elements. Things that have either 1 of 2 of these characteristics: are not necessary for game play or are the driver of a big % of the extra production cost.


    1. Base game Wingspan: everything as it is in the original version except the plastic boxes for the cards (replace that with a small board).
    Upgrade pack Wingspan: plastic boxes with themed birds/colours, realistic food tokens with correspondent themed containers, differentiated 3D individual player tokens.

    2. Base game Tapestry: everything as it is in the original version, except the miniatures (replace them with cardboard stand ins)
    Upgrade pack: miniatures

    The concept is to have a base that is common to the normal and deluxe version (size, inside storage, etc.), that allows economy of scale and healthier margins, and at the same time, the deluxified version feels natural/complete and not an artificial add-on.

    In order to do that you will need to sacrifice a little on the base game (for example box size), but I believe if the game is designed from day one with this concept in mind (base+upgrade), it will be more and more a natural concept.

    The selling price would also have a better sweet spot from the customer point of view: lower entry point but wider reach. I wonder if you ever thought how many more copies Tapestry would have sold if it existed a version without the minis?

    Keep up the fantastic work, it’s a previlege to be a part of this community.


    PS: I think this is the longest comment I ever made on the interwebs :D

  48. Hi. As an exemple, i own absolutly everything relative to Scythe. The core game was a gift. I paid twice the price of the game to get a hand on all add-ons. Now, I kickstart many games. I pay attention to mechanics first, read the rules, watch videos, check bagkground, story, miniature quality, past project from the same designers/author… It’s more than just reading the back of the box in a store. Then, if it looks cool, I know that i need everything and i go all in or nothing. regards

  49. I always love it when creators make a really high quality game as the “standard.” Stonemaier always seems to do that (Tapestry, the metal coins in Charterstone, the Scythe mechs, etc). If there’s a standard and a deluxe version, the only way I’m going to buy the deluxe is if there’s a component I really feel like I’d be bummed not to have and buying the deluxe game is the only way to get that component. I recently backed Isle of Cats before playing it (which I rarely do) because of a Kickstarter exclusive component that isn’t even that useful but looks super cool.

    I really like Stonemaier’s current model. I’ve blinged out Scythe with almost all of the available options and I’m so happy about that. For Wingspan, I bought the wood resources but I don’t feel like I need any of the other upgrades so far. I *do* really like it when there’s a “here’s everything” upgrade pack in addition to all of the individual upgrades, and I’d probably buy that pack even if it had a few things I wouldn’t have bought separately, just for convenience.

    I’m not sure that any of this is useful information, but I think I’m in the camp where I’d probably prefer to buy the standard game and then choose my upgrades individually, rather than getting the deluxe right out of the gate. But I’m also super susceptible to advertising and could be swayed by fancy components. And I know I’d be answering this question differently if it was for any other publisher, just because of the super positive experience I’ve had with the quality of Stonemaier games.

  50. Buying addons after gets expensive with shipping for those outside of the US. Unless a deluxe upgrade will be available locally in the same areas you can buy the game itself, would rather pay once for the Deluxe experience in the same box.

    1. I agree with this. Not only expensive, but for some reason it seems to take forever to get something from US websites (meeplesource, bgg etc.). I’m in BC, which is pretty far from most online retailers in Canada, but usually get my order within 5-7 days using Canada Post. If I order from the US, it usually takes that long just to get to the “International Carrier” and then it can take additional weeks after that. I don’t even bother to look at the tracking info. Because of that, I usually buy the upgrades when they become available in Canada and would prefer the Deluxe Edition right off the bat. My only concern is, “what is considered deluxe?” Obviously metal coins, but say there was a deluxe version of Quacks of Quedlinburg, would those deluxe components be a nice as the superb Geeks Bits from bgg? If not, then that deluxe version is costing more without being deluxe enough.

      In general however, if I’m buying a “deluxe” game, which already costs $80 or more, I’m almost always going to buy a deluxe version. Say, like a Vital Lacerda game. In for a penny….

  51. I like the option of buying standard, growing to love the game, and adding on over time. We bought base Scythe way back when, and it’s been a mainstay at our table since. Because of that, it was an easy decision to get every expansion as they came out and along the way piecemeal the “premium experience” with metal coins and a fancy wooden organizer. (Now eyeing the realistic components.)
    Not exactly on topic, but my personal realization was how hard it was getting to enjoy the games already in our collection and balancing the impulse to keep it growing. So, we’ve slowed down our gaming purchases and now whenever we play a favorite we look for ways to add that premium experience. Of course, YMMV, but for us it means getting to enjoy what we liked the first time around but also looking forward to new and shiny!
    An example: we recently bought dollhouse bits to replace the cubes in Grand Austria Hotel, but that was a long weird journey through Etsy and Ebay. (The targeted ads I now get….) A publisher supported option would be very welcome.

  52. I selected “Standard Game”, but the answer for me is that it comes down to the game, the components, and the price. I took a look at all of the games I’ve backed on Kickstarter that had deluxe editions(remove “deluxe” editions that included things like expansions, sleeves, or playmats). Of the 10(out of 150) remaining: I backed 3 (including Scythe) at a deluxe level, and at the most deluxe level available. 4 I backed at the standard level.The remaining 3 I backed at a print-and-play level. If I could go back, I would have swapped 1 deluxe and 1 standard so I’m pretty content with those decisions. The most relevant examples I can give are that I wouldn’t want to play Scythe or Empyreal with the standard resources, but I will be perfectly fine playing Great Wall with meeples instead of miniatures. I never would have backed Great Wall, but having the standard edition available at 50% off with wooden meeples instead of plastic miniatures means I’ll get to try out a game from a well respected company that I have not tried before. Even if I could had the extra money, I probably would have stuck with the meeple version and used the money for expansions.

  53. I chose the “standard game with some optional add-ons” option, but in reality for most Kickstarters, that isn’t a real (or good economic) choice. It’s generally cheaper to get the full Deluxe version, even if I don’t want minis instead of meeples, or an expansion just yet, or a playmat, etc. If it was possible to get the standard edition of a game, and add a few deluxe resources (or the like), and have it still come out cheaper than the deluxe all-in version that’s the way I would go every time.

  54. If I am interested in buying a game, I prefer to have a deluxe version from the beginning. If I buy a standard version and wait for the feeling, if I like it enough, then I end playing it often with the standard components and when the additional deluxe components finally arrive, the game is not played that much. At the end, the standard version + deluxe components are more expensive then a deluxe version with all in.

    It is also important for me, that the price difference seems to be reasonable and it is worth for me to pay more. I understand, for everybody this might mean something different…

    I do not like having double components for one game (standard and deluxe). It seems to be resource and money waist. I would feel bad to throw them away, so they are stored without a purpose. On the other hand, the deluxe components from unplayed deluxe games are nice to be reused in other games.

    I would appreciate, if you offer the deluxe version also in other languages then English:)

  55. I voted for purchasing a deluxe “all in” version of the game. I did want to comment that this choice is specific to Stonemaier Games products and not necessarily reflective of my overall attitude toward purchasing games. I respect and appreciate the high level of quality I have come to associate with products from Stonemaier Games. As a result, I would happily purchase a Deluxe version of a new game right out of the gate. I wouldn’t necessarily be doing that for every game creator/publisher.

  56. I’m in for some premium content when it adds an actual value to the feeling. e.g. I’m not willing to pay for metal coins (especially when it costs more than real money coins haha) but additional figurines adds more realism to the game.

    Though I want to have them separately when possible. While I can’t Imagine Scythe without the mech figurines, I would like Tapestry without the detailed prepainted buildings (making the game price too high for this kind of game to me….the only reason I don’t have it right now)

  57. I am definitely in the minority in that I voted for “standard only”. To calibrate this response, I will disclose that I saw Wingspan “in the wild” for the first time this past weekend and was genuinely horrified by how over the top the production is. “Back in the day” this would be a $35 game with cards and cubes and would have done just fine. I genuinely hope this doesn’t become the standard that the industry will start chasing.

    And here’s why: because for a small publisher, time spent on elaborate production is time taken away from game development. And, for that matter, discovering great games. If the fancy production adds 100 hours of labor, that’s 100 fewer playtests you’re running or 100 fewer submissions you’re evaluating.

    For this reason my personal view is that publishers are better to produce a minimally viable game (pretty but not extravagant) and let third party vendors be the ones to sell upgrade packs. Z Man didn’t sell upgrade bits to Agricola, third parties made and sold those. That’s a good model to follow I’d say.

  58. I voted for deluxe, and no other option was even a consideration for me. I regularly go all the way with the games I own, buying as many upgraded pieces as possible. In fact, I probably have about $750 into my version of Scythe. With regard to buying the core game and then upgrading only after you determine your affinity for the game: I think this depends on that consumer’s familiarity with the game maker. We know which game makers we like and we have faith in their ability to create a product we like.

    I’m glad you are considering this, and impressed that you are eliciting feedback from your customers. While I am not in the board game business, it is pretty clear to me that you are dealing with a specific niche of people that are likely to spend money on a premium product. One of my biggest qualms with board game makers, particularly as game complexity increases, is the lack of decent box organization. Some games are nearly unplayable without one (Dead of Winter for example). I will say that Stonemaier has done a great job with this, as box organizers included with the your games are above and beyond what the rest of the market offers. That said, I still purchase organizers through Broken Token and would happily pay the game manufacturer a premium if something akin to a Broken Token organizer was included from the get go.

    All that said, I can say unequivocally that if you offer a premium version with upgrades and bonuses built right in, I’ll buy that version every time.

  59. As someone who has likely spent at least twice as much on Scythe as the game itself costs, with my 4 sets of metal mechs, coins, etc, I prefer the deluxe edition upfront, but appreciate the opportunity to further improve the already stellar production moving forward.

  60. My recommendation would be to create the standard game and sell individual deluxe components through your website. I spend a ton of money on Etsy and similar sites buying upgraded components and I would be much happier to send that money to you. I love playing with real metal coins and quality components and I hate the kickstarter model because until I know whether I like the game I’m not going to invest that much money so the expense for me is always going to come later. I bought a wooden Dice Tower and laser cut food for Wingspan off Etsy and metal coins for Viticulture ogg Amazon, but I really wish that I could have been able to buy those kinds of components from your website instead

  61. I voted for Deluxe, but I will say that depends on what Deluxe means…

    For instance if you are just replacing standees with miniatures and charging double the price, i don’t really care…standees work fine, as long as they are included. On the other hand, player boards with dual layers or a bit or card or coin upgrade that you will be touching nearly every turn of the game really impacts the enjoyment of the gaming experience. Quacks with BGGs upgraded bits goes from good to amazing…shaking the bag and hearing the clack of the pieces, the feel of the bits in your hand as you select your next ingredient…this is a literal game changer.

    As far as how you should distribute….perhaps this is a bit self serving, but maybe deluxe versions should only be made available to champions…membership has its privaleges.

  62. If your are asking if I want a single game box designed for storing all components, including deluxe version, for a lower price than buying a retail version and an additional box for deluxe components, then of course I’ll take the deluxe game.

    I often buy the deluxe versions of good, beautiful games that I like, if I think that the premium is worth it. I seldomly buy e.g. extra metal coins because the additional price is not worth it to me to the simply replace one kind of round token for another round token. But if a 2D cardboard standup is replaced by a 3D plastic mini, or cards have nicer artwork and a thicker stock, then that’s a worthy upsell.
    I would prefer to buy the retail version first and then upgrade later, but only if the upgrade would not cost more than buying the deluxe version first hand. It is already a disadvantage to store a second box just for additional components, I don’t want to spend a sum on that for which I might get a complete other small game.

  63. I just wanted to clarify my vote by saying that I wouldn’t always opt for the deluxe game all at once, but when it comes to Stonemaier games it’s a no brained. Your games are great and you so deluxe in a great way. I don’t have every Stonemaier game, but I have most and always pay close attention to what’s coming out. If I think I’ll enjoy it based on theme, mechanics, reviews, play-throughs, I pull the trigger. Stonemaier has my trust so of course I want a deluxe version!

  64. I voted for available as an add-ons (ala carte) because there is a diminishing returns with the value of deluxe components to the very people who love upgrading the most. I’d rather not pay a premium to get more of the same components I already have but I do want the option to pick and choose. It’s super annoying to pay more for metal coins as an example, when one of the three sets of metal coins I already have is as good or better than the ones in a deluxe game.

  65. I prefer the dressy versions and often buy upgrade sets for games I most enjoy, but the specifics of what is upgraded and how it looks is important.

    For example, I’m okay with the standard mech components in Scythe because I painted my miniatures. The metal looks cool and it come as an early option I might bought them. But I’m not replacing hours of custom paint work.

    For games like Wingspan and Underwater Cities, I’ll consider upgraded components from companies like MeepleSource if I’m still playing the games past the 2 year point, i.e., not trading / selling it.

    But some games have a deluxe version that add very little to the experience – consider Sorcerer Cities – almost $30 more retail but the standard version delivers much the same experience.

    I think WHAT gets upgraded must ADD atmosphere.

  66. I am the Kickstarter backer that always gets the deluxe version. Why? If I’m already hedging my bets on a game I haven’t played yet, I want it to come with the bells and whistles when it arrives. I don’t want to be tracking down deluxe parts later, and I *really* don’t want for it to turn out that I’ve missed out on deluxe components for a game that enters heavy rotation in my house/game groups. A little bit of FOMO goes a long way.

  67. Coming here from the newsletter link, the poll is different than I expected. The newsletter asked if I prefer to get a deluxe game as a single package or as an additional add on, which was what I was expecting as I made my way through the blog post.
    But the final poll asked if I normally get a deluxe game or a standard or something in between. So while my preference for that is actually to get the deluxe, I do think it would be better if there were a single standard game and a deluxe addon pack.

  68. I prefer to have all the deluxe components in the base box. I typically WANT the upgraded components, but to pay $40+ for a game and THEN have to invest another $20 (or more!) to get the nice stuff and then another $20+ to get a nice insert it’s all of a sudden a $80 game! Plus shipping from multiple locations, plus my time to put together an insert… I imagine if the deluxe components/inserts are included with the game due to quantity discounts the cost to me would be more in the $70 range. And I don’t have to go out and search for everything, or possibly talk myself out of getting it. It’s all in one place for me.

  69. I find it difficult to justify the extra expense of deluxe versions with just better components. I don’t think I’ve ever bought metal coins for example. I like the game produced as best it can be for as low a price as possible. I trust Stonemaier to make that judgement and like the products you put out (Wingspan is a good example of a high quality product without a deluxe price tag, which may well have put me off buying it).

  70. This one is tough for me. Inevitably I’ll end up going the deluxe route. I like when games have stellar table presence, and deluxe bits do that. That said, it fundamentally annoys me if I can’t get those bits of i got the game through retail (KS everything just isn’t feasible) so I love the option of a deluxe upgrade pack. Where the difference really matters to me is if the deluxe version components actually create a difference in game functionality. My best example is from Masque of the Red Death. While the minis are great (I never like standees), it’s the popularity trackers around the board edge that make the game work. The deluxe edition has wooden tokens with a printing of the player icon on one side and not the other (standard has cardboard with the icon on both sides). Because of the way turn order and showing who has taken their turn is so much easier if you’re able to just keep flipping them it really does make the game easier. It also seriously alleviates a problem for colour blind players who need the symbols to know what’s happening. I have a friend with the base version of the game who was disappointed in his copy after playing mine because of that functionality I got that he didn’t.

    So I guess I’d say, let the deluxe pack be available but make sure the components work the same in either edition. Anachrony’s mechs are awesome but not required. Those turn order disks in Masque are basically essential.

  71. I chose the add-on option, because that’s the one that makes sense to me. But if it’s a game that I’ve either played or have seen a video (to know that I’ll like it and play it a lot), I’d probably prefer a deluxe version out of the gate. That’s the way it was with Charterstone — our group ordered the upgraded components as soon as we knew we’d be playing the campaign. And many of those resources were reused (most recently in Rise of Queensdale).This goes double for something like playmats, especially for cards-based games.

    The only one I’d probably balk at would be an addon for metal coins, since I have a a few sets (the Viticulture coins stay with Tuscany, but I have a different set for other games). One guy in our group uses the Sorcerer City coins for currency in all his games now.

  72. I really think it depends on the publisher. For me, at least, a Deluxe edition has less to do with rarity and more with practicality.

    Stonemaier has a tendency to start with high-quality components as the baseline. But not every game manufacturer sets that high a bar. Hasbro’s latest edition of Diplomacy, for instance, comes with a gorgeous board but with largely indistinguishable cardboard tokens to represent the seven players’ armies and fleets. It is almost unplayable as a result.

    Likewise, GMT makes great niche wargames, it’s understandable that sometimes they just need to get a product’s costs low enough to justify its printing. However, sometimes a game’s components are so varied and context-rich that having them all on tiny chipboard squares is a royal pain, with “Here I Stand” as a prime example.

    So would I buy a deluxe edition? If it’s the difference between chipboard and something more visually and tactilely distinct, then Deluxe all the way. If it’s the difference between already-good components and bling? I don’t need it.

    To put it in Stonemaier terms, I bought the metal coins for Scythe, but not the realistic resources.

  73. Hey Jamey, if you don’t do a deluxe version of the game and only have a basic version with deluxe upgrades, you could consider doing a “deluxe bundle”. The deluxe bundle would include the base game and every upgrade needed to make it deluxe. This would keep people from potentially forgetting items and having to change their order later. They could just select the deluxe bundle or the regular game.

    I suppose you could probably have an option show up when a person adds a regular game to cart that would say “Switch to the deluxe version?” that would swap out the base game for the deluxe bundle instead.

    I’m not sure what implications this might have for your online store or logistics or anything. But it might be a way to help the ordering process.

  74. Despite my deep involvement with the industry, my game collection is quite reasonable at ~125. As a proclaimed discriminating gamer, I choose quality over quantity, thus my games such as Scythe, Brass, and others that see a kit of Game Table time are the “best of” variety.

  75. Jamey, let me start by saying that I have great admiration for what Stonemaier games represents in boardgame industry and for your impressive achievements heading this project.

    Answering your question, I must say that my impression as a boardgamer is that Stonemaier games ALREADY ARE deluxe games, whatever their price is. I assumed this was a key value of the whole project (as a matter of fact you mention it first in your list). I think that making some change in that regard, for instance having standard and deluxe versions of the same game, will make me feel a bit disappointed about a small company doing things differently based on a clear set of values. Call me a romantic, but I run a tiny vinyl record label and my impression is that the added value personal projects can have depends on the acceptance of their own values and principles, which not only guide actions but also constitute limits for them. In other words, the added value of personal projects results from how they do things differently. If Stonemaier joins many others with the deluxe policy I think it will lose some of its unique touch…

    But this comes from someone loosing money with the vinyl label, so I perfectly understand that you want to legitimately take care of the profit side of your business. I would not like to be in the position of taking this kind of decision, though. For me this is about what kind of business should Stonemaier Games be. And, as a customer, I prefer to think of Stonemaier as the company of that nice guy making amazing games in terms of quality, production and values rather than the big company of a tycoon who started from scratch and made a huge impact on the industry that now owns. I am not saying that you will become the later guy by taking this decision, but that making slight renounces to values in the long term leads to radical changes in who we are or, in this case, what kind of company you run.

    This said, you have all my sympathy whatever your decision finally is. As humans we deserve to try new things, change and rethink our values. I hope this works well for you and Stonemaier!

    1. Thank you so much, Fernando! My preference is to continue making standard games that feel deluxe. Even if we make a deluxe version of a game at some point, I think it will be an experiment for that specific game, not an ongoing strategy.

  76. I will point out another aspect. I have the Deluxe Master Set of Snowdonia. Lots of extra content. Lots. Great set made with love. But also overwhelming LOL…I am working my way through it because I want to, but how many people are actually gonna do that? I got my copy on the secondary market cause the owner got it and realized, nah, too much content for me. There is something to be said for more limited choices that require slightly less work to cover on the part of the user. Because if you do not play all the content, it feels less in some way…I know weird. Like Spirit Island, I do like the game a heck of a lot, but have only scratched the surface of content in the base game, and no where near the first expansion which I possess, so it is sort on on the shelf of shame despite being played. I know this is more about components etc, but I thought I would throw this overwhelm issue into the mix. I also just got the modular board for Scythe, and the TMARS latest, but it is March, and I am still in Snowdonia, I have 5-6 games to go to have played through the whole of the content (solo mode challenge is separate). There is something more fulfilling about playing all of a games content, that many of these new bloated games make hard (not Snowdonia or SI).

    1. We are also selling our deluxe edition of Snowdonia, but that is because of the box size. For us, it is too big to carry to game nights, so won’t get played as much as the original version; we have the upgrade pack and have squashed the whole lot into the original box, which is around a third of the size!


  77. To deluxe or not is a great question. I don’t think that there is an easy answer. Like someone else stated, I don’t think that you are are going to get the best answer from a poll posted here. The sampling here is from mostly hardcore game hobbyists. Maybe you could look at it more from a business perspective and ask who is this game for? Is it a complex game that is geared more to gamers that want deluxe components and experience and knows if it is a game that they would like or is it a a less complex game that can reach a wider audience? All things equal, a lower selling point will have greater demand. That decision also ties in to your company’s brand, quality components or types of games. If you start offering deluxe editions, will you do it for all games or some games? If not, all how do you decide which?
    For me, I guess I’m more of a player. I like quality components but I don’t have to bling out to the max all my games. I’m also kind of getting burned out on all the deluxe only offerings out there for games.

  78. Good question and well thought through.
    I voted for Deluxe. I believe you can maintain high… well, standards for a “standard” version while offering a Deluxe option as well. It seems over the last decade or so, the expectations for games (both the design/mechanisms and art/aesthetic) have really increased as the bar has been raised by the quality of (at least many) of games currently being produced. I seems to me (assuming of course a high quality design) offering both a standard and deluxe option would appeal to the most total people; those who want it because it’s a great game as well as those who like extra “bling”. As a point of reference, I backed the deluxe version of Everdell, I am very glad I did, and I would buy only that version regardless of whether it was on Kickstarter or on a store shelf.

  79. I’m deluxe only for 3 main reasons. 1) I hate (hate hate) having standard components that I don’t need as they are replace by the deluxe components. If the upgrade for them came out much later (like in Terraforming Mars with better players boards) – I’m good with that. But I bought Dungeon Drop, a fun light filler game and it has both the standard cubes (that I guess I should toss) and the Deluxe cubes together in one box. Horrible! Why did I pay for those cubes that I don’t need! (More expensive to remove than it’s worth I guess)

    2) With KS comes confusion in most games. If you are buying at FLGS is the game that you are getting what you’ve seen others playing? Is there something missing? It’s questions like these that take too much effort (In the hall of the mountain king) that make me avoid buying the retail version longer than I need to because I’m too lazy to research it. (I know SMG doesn’t have this problem, but the problem lends itself to every game now at FLGS – even if it wasn’t KS. Did I miss the KS? So having Deluxe on the box just helps you as a consumer feel that it’s a complete game)

    3) The deluxe components just elevate the game into a new experience. It makes playing the game just that much more immersive. Some games can do it via just having a story/campaign mode (Maracaibo) and they don’t need to have the extras. But others, such as Underwater Cities, amazing game that got horrible feedback for their boards (which they also had to release an expansion to upgrade them). So now there is a certain level that we expect as consumers. (It all started with some game called Scythe)

    Now-just to contradict myself. One area that breaks it is when you are getting into the wooden meeple vs plastic mini debate. Plunderbund did this at retail, offering the plastic minis as an add-on to replace the wooden ones. That’s a taste issue and I could see people sticking with just the wooden ones and being very happy that way. Kanban EV ran into the same thing with metal cars vs wooden cars. The wooden cars look great with the silk screen printing. The KS only had renders of the metal cars up, and they looked unappealing. 3500+ backed the game for wood and 950+ backed for metal. Granted, it was $60 more for 40 metal cars, but I honestly think it was the appearance that made it less appealing.

  80. For myself there are two different answers depending on whether the purchase is through kickstarter or more traditional channels.

    I selected Standard with deluxe pack option based on looking at this from a tradional option perspective as it is most relevant to you. I don’t have a lot of information on the game when I buy it so unless it is a genre I really like I go for the standard option, if there is an upgrade option then it can be added later if I like the game enough.

    As far as kickstarter is concerned I am more likely to go straight for the premium/deluxe/all-in option for a couple of reasons:-
    First will the game actually be available through tradional channels post KS, at which point FOMO kicks in.
    Second, generally with kickstarter you have some time during the campaign to get a feel for the game, especially if the upgrade option is available to switch to in the pledge manager. There seem to be more accessable videos on play throughs, reviews of the game than I generally find easily for an off the shelf purchase – yes I can check BGG but you might get 1 or 2 reveiws and no playthough compared to KS for example, they are pretty standard marketing for a boardgame KS in my limited experience. In the end you get a better feel of whther you want to sink that extra money into the uber version or not.

  81. Stonemaier brand “standard” editiona already have excellent components. I am not likely to pay for deluxe up front for >$90 price point if I haven’t played the game.

  82. I love all the components and the fiddly bits, and the pretties…

    Unfortunately, I really need to thin out my games collection, my group split up and I just don’t play as much anymore.

    I will probably keep most of my “deluxe” games, since when playing with people, it’s nice to pull out the “sweet minis”, especially with novices/newbies.

  83. I love deluxified games…but

    I’m going off the one-and-done deluxe model (often used on KS).

    I love the Wingspan model, the retail game is fantastic, just deluxe enough that if you buy nothing else its a fantastic game. This means people who come to the party late can still get the best version and do personal upgrades later if they want (I’ve only got my Wingspan this year, and have started blinging it already) 😂

  84. I’ve been playing ‘designer’ games for ~15 years or so, and my collection has expanded far far bigger than it should have. For the last year, I’ve been culling, reducing to my favorites, and then upgrading the heck out of those. I’ve also become much more choosy in what I buy, preferring to follow a few publishers and designers, and the get the best possible version of those games. What I’m trying to say is that I’m now preferring quality over quantity.

  85. There are 5 people in our family and we all love board games. I’d much rather be able to purchase more standard level games over fewer deluxe versions. If I have an extra $20-$40 to spend on a deluxe version it’s more than likely going towards another game. If we really like the game we might buy an expansion or an upgrade. But even then it will need to be more than just nicer components. Allow extra players, new mechanic etc.

  86. Like you mentioned in the post, it really is going to vary based upon what your end goal is. If you really want to build the brand around having every game feel deluxe, then you need to sell every game like it was deluxe and not have any ‘deluxe’ option. This comes at the extra cost and you will lose out on those game players who just won’t drop large money on games. If you want to offer cheaper versions to make your game more widely available, but still have a deluxe option. I would much prefer to see 2 version of the game. A standard, and a deluxe. I say this because I hate having ordered deluxe pieces, that then don’t fit into the box, or 2 of every piece that you replaced because you have the standard and the deluxe. If I want to upgrade then I can sell, or give away the standard and buy the deluxe. But that is just how I think.

  87. I think it really just comes down to it depending on the game. There are plenty of games in my library that I love but wouldn’t invest in a deluxe version. Scythe and Wingspan are definitely exceptions to this. I think limiting more casual or new players from playing a game based on price is a major concern. But Stonemaier games are always instant classics in my book. I think having both options may be the only way to go here.

  88. I was always entertaining the idea of having a core and deluxe game, with an option for a deluxe upgrade pack for those who bought the standard core game, but after reading this my decision, i should say, is cemented.

    Even if having 3 SKU’s might make your job difficult and even if somehow complicates the buyers decision and the production process, these are all challenges a publisher should rather tackle than avoid. I belive it all brings to a better experience for the gamers.

  89. I would generally prefer a standard complete game of good quality with premium components sold separately. However, it does seem a bit wasteful to have two versions of the same components ( I have cardboard and metal keys in my Escape Plan, for instance ). Allow space in the original box, if possible. One thought occurs to me : you might consider a 3 SKU solution : base game (incomplete), standard bits, deluxe bits … and sell as base w/standard or base w/deluxe (with room in the base box for whichever bits you choose. ) You would probably want to print extra deluxe bits for those who start with the standard and later want to upgrade. This would result in a cheaper initial deluxe price. Second thought : provide a trade in option for standard bits to be replaced with deluxe bits at a discount.

  90. Deluxe is what I’d buy. I have limited time to play games and want to have the best experience available. If I’m interested enough to buy a game at all, the marginal cost of the metal coins isn’t a big deal. YMMV

  91. Personally, standard until I’ve played the game, and usually standard after, my imagination usually does a better job than component upgrades anyway. What I would say is that there is a difference between something being popular and people liking it. Especially on Kickstarter, and in situations like it, people will prefer the most deluxe option possible from fear of not having something, not from liking the extra components. I often think of upgraded and deluxe options of having the popularity of a tyrant, from fear rather than love. In my collection and my heart, its the standard little games that I love, and its when they become popular that I know its the popularity of genuine affection.

    One of my favorite games of all time just came out with a deluxe version, and mostly it just made me sad.

  92. I responded to the poll specifically with a Stonemaier game designed by Jamey in mind. When Sand comes out and is rolled out similarly to Tapestry for pre-order, I will get the deluxe version if available. I have a set budget for gaming and have specific games I plan to get this year. So for me, it is a matter of quality over quantity and I have yet to be disappointed by a Stegmaier design (with Automa Factory so I can play whenever I want ;).

    For any other production, I would most likely opt for the standard edition and then add on later if I like it.

  93. I think one thing to consider is you can’t be everything to everyone. I think it is important as a business to figure out who your customer is and what they want and cater to that customer.

    As a consumer, I really love deluxe quality games, up to a certain price point. I also have to feel I am getting good value for that deluxe price.

    As a former creator, who did not have the time to dedicate myself 100% (day job), I always felt simpler was better. Less confusion for me and the backer!

  94. I had to step away from the computer after making this post, but I’ve now gone through and read all the comments, and I just wanted to thank you all for your feedback! It’s incredibly insightful and helpful to hear your thoughts, especially for a topic like this where there is no “wrong” answer. :)

  95. Please understand that my vote on the poll that I would take the deluxe version with everything is quite situational. That is not what I would normally do with other games. However, since I trust Stonemaier games and intend to order the game via my championship membership, I would certainly order a $99 deluxe version over an $80 regular version.

    On kickstarter, on the other hand, too many deluxy things often lead me to analysis paralysis and a failure to even back the project.

    By the way, the email address attached to my google account (and this comment) is not one I access regularly.

  96. I have two quick points:

    The first is that your poll results are probably more than a little bit biased based upon the sampling measure. It probably skews toward the deluxe versions due to the fact that you’re sampling people who are predisposed enough toward Stonemaier Games that they belong to your newsletter. I would take the results with a grain of salt.

    Second, I fall into possibly an increasing portion of the gaming population where time is more of a resource constraint than money when it comes to an individual purchase. If I’m spending my time, I’d like to have the best experience. Therefore, I would choose the deluxe version from the start.

  97. Great discussion!

    Even with KS there’s the possibility of difficulty when you make deluxe and “retail” versions of the same game. For example, I didn’t back Gugong on KS, but ended up buying the retail version later. Now they have an expansion, but for ease of manufacturing and costs (I assume) the KS only offered a deluxe version, which is only compatible with the deluxe base game. There’s no upgrade path for me. Now I have to wait longer to get the expansion while they first fulfill all the deluxe KS copies and then print and ship the retail version of the expansion to stores.

    In your pros/cons list it seems like you missed a point about box sizes. Have a separate box for the deluxe version is great, but what happens to everyone who buys the base game and then buys the upgrade pack? Are they going to have to pay for a replacement box, which adds a lot to shipping and wasted cardboard? Or are they going to need a different storage solution?

    I love the deluxe feel of your recent games, and don’t mind paying for them. Charterstone was practically an Apple product :) But there’s a limit to what most people are willing to pay for a game they haven’t played absent the KS hype machine.

    My personal opinion: I think I’m happier with buying a game with a nice feel like you’ve been offering, and then having the option to buy some even cooler components if I really love the game and play it a lot. Having to choose between “normal” and “deluxe” (read “deluxe” and “subpar”) versions at check out isn’t my favorite.

      1. That would be a big turn off for me – while we don’t like *big* boxes, we’d hate to have separate boxes for the game and for some of the pieces. We are one of the people who have shoe-horned the Wingspan expansion into the base game box.


  98. I said “deluxe” but as others have mentioned it is very much relative. I would consider the base version of Scythe very much “deluxe” compared to the average “standard” game out there.

    If a deluxe version is:
    – wood bits in place of cardboard – yes please.
    – plastic bits in place of wood – no thanks.
    – plastic in place of cardboard… probably a pass.

    I would also rather go directly to a deluxe version instead of standard if it means not wasting a bunch of standard components.

  99. I feel this depends on the company, artist, the actual type of upgraded components, and designer producing the game. Stonemaier I would feel safe with an immediate deluxe purchase. Wonderland’s War with Manny Trembley art, the company, and the upgraded chips is another one I was ok with going straight to deluxe. But a complete unknown, I would hesitate to do that, and I think others would have a similar feeling.

  100. * Having discovered ‘Scythe’ long after the Kickstart campaign, I love the fact that I have been able to buy a lot of the extra promo cards, extra dials and the fact that they were made available. Next up are the coin and upgraded resources. I love being able to get these as extras.
    * I enjoy the high quality of the games of Stonemaier, but to be honest, some of these games are really expensive. Take the example of Wingspan for instance, which is consistently being sold out in the Netherlands with the distributor. I wonder whether having a “budget” version of Wingspan with a 40-50 dollar/euro price point would mean for the popularity of the game and as a result for your company. In addition there could be an upgrade pack or a deluxe version and obviously there could be many expansions which would cater to the hardcore fans.
    * I love your focus on quality, but I wonder whether if you ever create a game that has the potential to be the next Catan/Carcassonne/7 Wonders or whatever, whether price could be the biggest factor from achieving that. I also wonder whether Wingspan isn’t that game.

  101. Depends on what the deluxe components are? If they’re Totally Unnecessary Miniatures? Standard all the way. (Someone’s going to crucify me in the comments, but I think I would have preferred smaller/plainer components for the landmark buildings in Tapestry. They were a little confusing to set up.)

    If it’s stuff like upgraded resource tokens, thicker cardstock, linen finish, nicer material for the rulebook, etc, I’m all for it, especially when it’s on wear parts vs purely aesthetic upgrades (IE I care more about the box being thick and nice and durable than I do about spot UV being on it.) Especially when the resource token upgrades make it a lot easier to keep track of what something is- like going from same-shape cardboard chits to distinctly shaped wood bits.

    It’s also easier to attract new players to a game if you’re pushing cool stuff around the board.

    So I’m like… 95% deluxe every time.

  102. This a tough question….
    As a customer, what i love most about most deluxe versions is that all expansions fit in one box and that it actually helps making the setup faster. So the Tray and the box of a deluxe version is important for me. In general, I’d rather pay for an organizer over deluxe components. Anything that makes the game go smoother(like overlays of the Turmoil expansion in the KS of Terraforming Mars) is definitely something i want to buy if i play the game oftens.

    I would prefer to go with a big box containing all expansions when the game is done with expansions rather than a deluxe version.

    In kickstarter, most of the times, they add KS exclusives in the deluxe version to make it more interesting…. which i don’t like… i’d rather have access to all the contents after the campaign…

    Since, like many people, I don’t play most of my games often enough and love trying the next great game, i’d rather buy 2 games instead of deluxe components in most case. But i’d love to actually have the options to upgrade if i really really like a game and plan on playing it often.

    Result as a customer : Standard game with possible expansions/add-ons or maybe a Big Box some day.

    Now as a retailer,

    I really prefer standard plus expansions/add-ons/deluxe upgrades etc…. it makes people come back to the store and you don’t know what else they will buy while they are there…

    But at the same time, more items means more inventory, more place on the shelves, i’d rather sell the standard game and just have the key expansions to sell and to keep in stock.

    It makes me agree with you that’s it’s perfectly fine for editors to keep more specific upgrade and deluxe components on their own site and keep those to sell themselves.
    What could be interesting is that store owners can buy them directly from your site and get some kind of reward for referencing their customers to your site… Not a rebate, some kind of gifts/reward after X number of transactions. That way, they don’t need to have to keep too big of an inventory but they still get something for selling some of your items.

    If i was an editor, i’d go with whatever is more profitable…. simple as that… Because either way, if your game is great to play, people will buy it as long as there is a good minimum of quality…

  103. I personally prefer to buy deluxe version of games. I do this for premium components, cool miniatures, better materials and so forth. I also host a lot of gaming events at my church and area schools for people to enjoy. I will buy regular games (non deluxe) to give away at these events. I have been playing board games for quite awhile and it started with basic games of munchkin, catan, and heroscape. As we discovered more games and added to our collection we started discovering games with better / premium component (not just card pieces and cubes. I will buy deluxe games from certain developers without even knowing what it is based on their history (Stonemaier and Druid City) but I collect these premium games and place them on my shelves as a collection of pride. Deluxe versions give a sense of awe and cool factor.

  104. One thing I would mention on that last point about Kickstarter backers opting for Deluxe versions is the question of whether those are KS exclusive. I have been guilty of some FOMO purchases on KS where i thought to myself “not sure if i’m going to like this game but may never have another chance to get the upgraded components so i guess i’ll just go for the deluxe now”.

    For that reason, I like the model of standard plus upgrade later. I’m not sure i have a preference on whether a deluxe is available or not out of the gates as long as the deluxe upgrade pack is available. Either that or just optional addons is the way i’d go. I prefer to go for the standard edition of games when possible to test it out and see what i think, then upgrade it later if its a keeper.

  105. Clearly the evidence from your poll also proves that people prefer deluxe versions. But me, I’d MUCH rather have a standard version and then add deluxe stuff later. As a designer and publisher, all the reasons you listed in the first half FAR outweigh the bottom half ones in my mind.

    But I think it depends who you want Stonemaier – or this particular game – to target specifically: gamer gamers or casual / newer gamers? I think this blog’s audience skews heavily toward gamer gamers, and that may not be your audience. Or it may definitely be, with an $80-min game. Gamers I think prefer to splurge for the deluxe everything version.

    It occurs to me that you can also do both. You can offer the standard, the deluxe, and the addons that make the standard into a deluxe. An upgrade for those that like the game and want more but don’t want to buy the game again. It doesn’t make your life easier, but it satisfies all audiences!

  106. I’m all for the standard game only. One thing I’ve learned is that no matter how “deluxe” you make a game, some people out there will always find something to try to upgrade anyway. And with retailers like the BGG Store and MeepleSource, finding upgrades is easy for the players that want to have that premium experience. There’s no real need for the publisher to have to worry about a deluxe upgrade kit when so many other companies will happily do that.
    Making a “deluxe only” copy prices the games out of reach for players on a more limited budget. That was true for me with Tapestry.

    I think that Scythe (retail) and Wingspan represent an ideal balance of component quality and price that I like to see in a game. Scythe had a ton of high quality wooden meeples and resources that gave the game a premium feeling, but those players that wanted to take things a step further and get realistic resources and silkscreened meeples could. The only thing that I really feel the need to upgrade are the coins, but I still appreciate that I wasn’t forced to purchase metal coins right off the bat.

    Same goes for Wingspan. There’s plenty of “premium” stuff in the box (like the eggs, dice, card tray, dice tower, player boards, rulebooks), but things like the food tokens and action trackers were left a bit more basic to keep the price down. And that’s 100% fine with me. If I feel the need to upgrade in the future, I will.

  107. I don’t know if a poll here will give you an accurate depiction of most consumers – I think you may see some response bias and sampling error. People reading this blog post will most likely already be fans and be pretty into the hobby and thus be those more likely to want a deluxe version. Additionally, people here are likely to want the highest quality version of your products, as they know what theyre getting, but other consumers who aren’t as familiar with your company and games may be more apprehensive. I’m not sure if this will impact your decision much, but it’s something to consider nonetheless (fwiw I think that while this may lead to consumer confusion if it’s labeled properly it wouldnt be a bad thing to have multiple versions. There is something to be said for the simplicity of “this is the only version of the game”)

  108. If I can buy 3 standard games for $150, I prefer that over 2 deluxe games costing $75 each. I tend to prefer quantity over quality. I think this is a psychological difference among game buyers. Some look at the deluxe version and see it as “more!” but some look at it and see it as “less” – less in the context of less money left over to spend on other games.

    That is not to say I don’t love games with beautiful art and special components. It’s just that I ask for those as Christmas and birthday presents, or I trick my friend Joe into buying them, because he likes the deluxe!

    1. If I felt like I don’t have enough games in my life I would agree with you Steven, but sadly, I’m in short supply of time and not games. Meaning when I do get a chance to play a game I want it to be the shiniest version possible. Cheers!

  109. I think it really depends on what exactly the non-essential/superfluous components are. If you’re talking about miniatures, then a deluxe box package with room for them makes sense. If you’re talking about cards, placemats, etc. Then you could just market them in small plastic baggies, as they would fit into the original box.

    Eclipse: Second Dawn is an example of a game that packed everything into the box. Speculated MSRP is $100-$120. I don’t see casual gamers picking this title up.

    For my money, if you’re designing an epic sandbox type game, then I would buy the deluxe from the start.

  110. I think one of the reasons the Deluxe version is so popular on Kickstarter, relatively speaking, is that it’s exclusive and you have a 20-some day window to decide if you want it or you’ll never have access to it again except thru secondary markets.

    That said, I like having the option to just have a basic, no frills, ready to play game vs a premium experience. Your games already lean towards that premium as it is, but I bought the resource and meeple upgrades for Charterstone and it really elevated the game experience. For a game like Tapestry, if you would have offered a version with cardboard buildings at a “retail” price point and one with the beautiful, painted minis that are included, I think I would have bought the deluxe version at the outset.

    Because Stonemaier Games already have a reputation in my mind for being a premium gaming experience in terms of gameplay and components, I would be very open to buying a deluxe version of a game from a brand like yours that I trust.

    1. Matt, I voted for standard now upgrade later because that is how I would approach it in general. But like yourself I would opt for deluxe upfront with a new Stonemaier game.

  111. For me, this is highly relative so I’d like to explain my answer. I answered deluxe right away BECAUSE it is you asking, Jamey. For a Kickstarter game I’ve never played or from a company I don’t know, I’m likely to get the standard version and upgrade it later. Whereas for a brand I know and love, I’m more likely to buy the upgraded version because I know I’m likely to love the game.

    1. This is my response as well. Deluxe right away for Stonemaier products because I have a history of receiving quality products in the past. Maybe deluxe right away for some Kickstarter campaigns where I know the publisher can deliver and the designer’s games have clicked for me in the past. Upgrade later when it is an unknown. What I hate is when deluxe components create a schism for future expansions (see Gugong).

  112. My thought is tohave a standard game with the option for add ons. Typically, I get the base game, then depending on how I enjoy it, I’d get the add ons or the upgrade pack. I don’t like when publishers say you get one or the other. This forces the consumer to either purchase the deluxe version now or double pay later. I actually like when core boxes leave a bit of extra room for upgrades if the consumer decides they want to purchase add ons.

    My thought process:

    1. If I like the core game: I can purchase the add ons or upgrade pack

    2. If I don’t like the core game: no additional money spent.

  113. I trust Stonemaier Games enough that I would buy a deluxe edition blind. There are other publishers where I would prefer to take a wait-and-see approach, probably starting with the basic version and upgrading where possible. I’m generally someone who really like upgrades – I like having fancy bits, promo cards, and organizers. I upgrade a lot of my favorite games with extra stuff, either official upgrades, third-party upgrades, or occasionally homemade upgrades.

    1. I agree with Ron. Stonemaier Games has the reputation of “deluxe gaming”, and I’d rather get it all in one shot than to be nickel-ed and dime-d to death, or getting almost all of the deluxe parts but not the last set because it’s sold out.

    2. This is also where I am at when it gets to Stonemaier Games. For most games, I will consider price vs components, but for me Stonemaier deliver the best value for money. Many times wonder how is it even possible to produce games like Tapestry at such a low price…

      With that said, I prefer it much more to buy n game like Tapestry and nothing in it needs an upgrade. Example Wingspan, I would have preferred to pay $25 more for the base game if it included the upgraded bit set ( Buying upgraded bits feels like a waste as your standard components (that you already paid for) ends up in a drawer…

      My Stonemaier games are collectibles to me, pieces of art which I plan to keep in mint condition for a long possible. The better the component quality, the easier it is to do so.

      Another reason for me to rather pay a bit more for a deluxe version from the start. Being based in South Africa, by the time games like Scythe & Tapestry lands here, we easily pay around $120 for a copy. For me to buy upgraded parts from the Stonemaier store, amazon etc, is very costly to pay for transport & import duties again. Keep up the great work Jamey! Looking forward to the Tapestry, Oceana and “Sand”!

  114. Deluxe Upgrade all the way. It can be incentivised for early adopters if necessary with discounts on pre-orders direct from you etc. It also removes the FOMO issue. I know some people like it as it can drive sales but I personally think that disappointing players who can’t get the extras is bad for long term business. Finding the balance between the early adopters and everyone else would likely have the best customer retention in the long term.

    As well as that though there is a pragmatism to doing things this way. Consider how much good content gets cut away from a game during the later stages of designing, content that is good but perhaps makes the game feel bloated. That content could be added to a deluxe edition. An example for this is Lords of Waterdeep. The 2 expansions are must have imo, but had they been in the game from the start all the extra boards and rules etc would have made the game feel bloated. Better to be separate and then polished to be a better fit later. A deluxe Upgrade can do that. Nicer pieces, a shiny insert and some additional content. That’s a great extra to have available early on.

    Also the deluxe upgrade allows you to pick and choose which deluxe components you want to keep in the box and which ones go to the deluxe upgrade. Example, deluxe cards would go in the box as people are unlikely to buy a whole new set of cards, but upgrading from cardboard tokens to nicely moulded plastic components is a given, so those things would go in the deluxe upgrade.

  115. I’d prefer the deluxe game if it’s a newly released game. I’m buying a new game I’m interested in, I believe my wife and I could love it otherwise I would not buy it. Note that this is different than buying an already released game for research. In that case just the gameplay is important.

    If we love it as expected we would be very disappointed not to have bought the deluxe version. If we don’t like it then it would be easier to sell the deluxe version second hand as I’ve found potential buyers to be disappointed if it’s not the deluxe version or the KS exclusive version.

    1. Exactly this^^ I personally love blinging out my favorite games so I almost always go deluxe up front. Also, I have gotten better over the years at picking games that I know will be a hit with my gaming group so the misses don’t happen as often. If the need does come up to sell a game, whether it was a miss for us or we found a better game to fill it’s slot, it is much easier to resell when it’s the deluxe version.

      1. Yep, I went for Deluxe as well, though in truth, it depends on price, or rather, my perception of the value. My thought processes go something like this:

        – I like the look of the game, shall I get it?
        – It’s expensive, but there is a cheaper option…
        – But the cheaper option doesn’t have x, y, and z…
        – If I go for the cheaper option it won’t be as nice and it’s easier to sell if it has all the bits.
        – Yes, I’ll buy the deluxe copy / No, I won’t buy the deluxe copy.

        If there are two levels available, the standard rarely comes into it, it is deluxe or no deluxe. The exception is where I decided the deluxe was too expensive, so don’t buy it at all, but later see a standard copy for sale cheaply *and* I can buy the extras to give the deluxe effect. If there is a standard only option with upgrades available, it is rare that I would buy the standard without them. The only exception was Wingspan, where there were cute little wooden food tokens available. These were extremely expensive for what they are (in the UK at least), so when I realised they were from a third party, I acquired a set of almost as fabulous pieces from a different third party for a third of the price.


  116. I have never been so enamored with a game that I had to get the deluxe version. I should also add that I am not much of a collector, so take that with a grain of salt. My comfort zone when it comes to purchasing a game, regardless of how much I like it, is $40 to $60. This includes all associated costs like shipping if I’m buying it on Amazon, or backing it on kickstarter. It is more important to me when I introduce my group to a new game that the mechanics of that game sell them more than anything else.

    Probably the ugliest game that frequently makes a showing is a game called “That Blanketity Black Game.” Side note: I find it frustrating when creators name their game something that’s hard to Google. The game is played by placing teacher supply style colored counting chips into a 5×5 grid, and scoring by matching 1×3 cards each worth a point. But that’s it. There’s no theme, no decoration, nothing, but because we love the challenge the gameplay represents we forgive it for not being pretty. My friend does have a habit of buying mass produced prototypes at conventions, so this might be what’s going on here.

    So, personally, if I’m already happy with what I’ve got, I’m probably not going to go out of my way to deluxify it, with the possible exception of backing a game that has offered a free print and play. Unless, the deluxe edition added some value to the actual gameplay, like increasing the number of players, or providing some additional components (like extra cards in a deck-builder), or extra game modes. It’s game. Gameplay is king.

  117. I had the opportunity to have the likeness of my face added to one of the cards in Viticulture through Kickstarter. Worth every penny. I love when people who I’ve played games with come up to me and say “I just played Viticulture, and I have a question for you…” My answer, “Yes, that’s me” ;)

    1. That’s so awesome. I only got into the hobby a few years ago and Viticulture is currently my favorite game. To have my face on one of the cards would be great!

      That said, I think the Rhine Valley cards are much better gameplay wise…so even if I had gotten my portrait done through the KS my face wouldn’t be getting any face time!

  118. I personally voted for high quality standard game with some additional add on’s available.
    I have to say for me Wingspan was the perfect balance of cost versus component quality versus not over doing it. For $55 ($60) that isn’t a small cost as it is. But still you got a great rule book, those amazing eggs, the dice Tower. Yes it also came with generic cubes and a bit of a plain goal board, but i is rather that than a $70 or $80 price and blinged out bird tokens etc.
    Get the base game, then if you like it update as you like. I would rather amazing games like Wingspan be within the budget of a wider population of people versus slowly creep towards a routine $80+ price point that almost automatically cancels out a whole dement of people that just won’t pay that for a super fancy version.
    Yes you could just ,”have both” but seems like a logistical nightmare.

    1. I agree with this. I like that with Scythe or Windspan I can get “the game,” the entry level minimum to enjoy what these boxes have to offer. Then, as I wish I can go to and find totally kickass ways to upgrade my beloved new game. I have that with other games, as cool as they are I can’t join in on all the fun because I wasn’t on kickstarter four years ago. It puts such a bad taste in my mouth that I feel discouraged getting into a game because “half” the game is available. Rising Sun comes to mind with this. The retail version has a starke contrast to it’s kickstarter edition. That is fine, but I can’t go to CMON and upgrade my copy. It is stuck as is. Consumers are more than willing to throw money at a product they love, but it has to be there.

      1. So much this! Love CMON games, but their Kickstarter model really gets to me. Upgrading Zombicide all the way vs. upgrading Scythe all the way have been two very different experiences and I liked the Scythe route way better!

      2. This is my thought exactly. I’ve upgraded scythe and wingspan. I missed the blood rage Kickstarter so I can’t upgrade that. I’ve gotten deluxe versions of games that I ended up not liking the game so the deluxe was a waste of money.

      3. Richard has summed up my position very nicely. I desire a certain level of quality in my games, but you folks normally exceed my minimum component requirements by a long margin. So assuming that’s not changing, I would love a “standard” game … and then I can bling it out if it’s one I really love.

    2. I see the value in a base game, followed by upgrades if you really like the game. Since I love board games, I usually upgrade most of them immediately, or buy the deluxe version if it’s available. If I’m going to play a game, I want realistic pieces, themes, etc. For instance, I bought Scythe (with the big board, I think). (I forget the order of the rest of these items) Then the expansion, then the next expansion. All was good. Then a Legendary box. (The only bad decision I feel you made (I don’t know all the facts either, so it might have been the only decision possible) was the tuck boxes in the legendary box and the size of the boxes of the expansions. Since the artwork is so amazing I don’t want to discard my expansion boxes, but the tuck boxes don’t fit everything in them as neatly.) Then I bought the Broken Token insert. (I wish you would have made your own insert with the legendary box) Then the metal mechs…for all six factions. Then the neoprene mat, which I was disappointed with since it was smaller than the large board. Then the modular board. All in all I’ve probably spent $650 on Scythe!!
      My point is that many are willing to upgrade everything, but some are not going to unless they like the game.
      I guess if the box fit everything nicely but had the room for upgrades and expansions already, it wouldn’t be disappointing when everything doesn’t fit in the box.
      We know when a game is made, most of the time the idea for an expansion is already there. Maybe take more time to release the base/standard game after some math has gone into making the expansions also fit into the same box?
      I’ve got every Stonemaier game, so clearly I will be buying all the upgrades to any game you release.

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