Leviathans: Taking To The Skies Via Kickstarter This Fall

Brace yourselves. As usual with these blogs, I may meander a bit, but hopefully by the end you’ll know where we’ve come from, where we’re going, and how you’ll get forthcoming details in the future.

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For those that have followed the travails of Leviathans over the last few years, you know how much production issues have dogged this game. And a huge part of that is simply the learning curve it takes to make a game like this.

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As many of you may know, Catalyst Game Labs has a tendency to go large. And while we’ve pulled off some very cool things due to our passion for always going big, it also means we’ve stumbled now and then.

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We know how to make books. I like to joke that we can fall out of a bed and stand up with a book in our hands. However, with Leviathans we tackled a slew of new manufacturing items we’d never dealt with before. It would have been bad enough to have even one of those additional elements on the table, but we went ahead and tried to tackle a dozen at a time.

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Where does that leave us since Leviathans published late last year? Well, it pretty much sold right out when it published. Which is fantastic! However, the way in which we packaged the game makes it unsustainable (again, that learning curve). As such, we need to find a new way to repackage the line so it can sustain itself.

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We are currently looking at reshaping the entire line into something similar to how Sails of Glory/Wings of Glory (as well as Star Wars: X-Wing or Star Trek: Attack Wing) package and release their games and miniatures. This would in effect be a re-launch for the game.

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“You had so many problems producing Leviathans before. What’s changed that makes you feel you can publish it now?” I can hear the questions ringing as I type this, and for good reason (those issues touched upon above). While there hasn’t been any release for Leviathans over the last year, we’ve done a ton of research, talked with numerous manufacturers, and listened to game companies that have been wonderful in their willingness to share information. We feel confident that this in-depth research and our new relationships with manufacturers that are tried and tested with these exact types of games/miniatures will make all the difference.

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At this point, a few things to be clear about right up front: The game and rules are not changing one bit. We are exceedingly happy with the rules as they are and we’ve no intention of changing anything. If you buy future items for Leviathans, they will fit in perfectly game-wise next to anything you might already own.

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Additionally, there will be an “Intro” or “Starter” box for the game, though the contents and overall size will be far more streamlined than the original Core Box Set. Since we’re in the process of finalizing pricing via the manufacturer, we can’t get into specifics. But there will be a box with rules, miniatures and dice…basically everything you’ll need to jump into a game.

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“But what does all of this have to do with Kickstarter?” you may well ask (again, I can hear them as I’m typing). We believe it is important to be clear up front with those who have already invested in the game so that you will know what the new roll out of the game will look like. With that knowledge, the details of the Leviathans Kickstarter will be more easily understood.

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Our desire to move to Kickstarter is not just about raising funds. We are still 100 percent committed to Leviathans and want to give it every chance to succeed and find a community waiting to embrace the game and universe. We have three primary goals for the Kickstarter:

    1. Regardless of whether the Kickstarter is successful or not, Catalyst will invest in repackaging the core line of the rules, as well as the already-available British and French ships, to make them available once more. Funds raised via the Kickstarter will help us more quickly flesh out additional ships (such as the Type IIIs) for those British and French fleets, while ensuring we can publish the additional faction fleets (such as the Germans and Italians) much quicker than we normally might. And depending upon the amount of funds raised, we may also be able to speed up the process on everything, allowing us to move the entire re-launch at a faster pace.

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    2. Kickstarter offers priceless marketing. The campaign is about raising awareness of Leviathans to a much larger crowd of people that might be very interested in tackling the game but have yet to see it or play it. Since the game has been out almost a year without any supporting books or ships, that marketing will be vital in the re-launch.

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    3. We published Leviathans under Creative Commons with the idea of allowing fans to embrace the universe and game in any way they choose. Kickstarter offers many ways for the community to become directly involved with the game. For example, some pledges might allow players to name future ships released in the line, while stretch goals might unlock new unique ships and help us determine different campaigns around the Leviathans’ 1910 world to pursue, and more. All of this is possible via Kickstarter.

I know there have been a lot of questions about how we intend to fix some of the issues that have plagued us from the past. While this is not an inclusive list, here are some answers to the most often asked questions surrounding Leviathans, Kickstarter, and Catalyst.

Q: During your The Duke Kickstarter, and especially afterwards, communication was not as frequent as it should’ve been. How will this be solved?
A: One of the biggest things we learned from our The Duke Kickstarter is that Loren and I can’t simply try to squeeze a Kickstarter campaign into our schedules. So instead of stretching ourselves too thin, we’ve hired Julie Haehn to run this Kickstarter directly. Here’s a short bio of her experience and why we felt she’d be a perfect fit for Catalyst.

Julie Haehn has been working in the tabletop game industry for the past 12 years with companies such as Cheapass Games and WizKids. She has been involved with three fully funded campaigns with Kickstarter, including the incredibly successful campaign for Girl Genius, Volume 12; raising over $389,000! She is excited to work with Catalyst Game Labs to bring Leviathans to new success.

Q: What about Leviathans Online? Its Kickstarter failed. Why do you feel yours will be a success?
A: While I still would’ve loved to see Leviathans Online succeed, unfortunately it fell when it was not able to really show anything to those that might have been interested. The board game campaign, however, is quite different. We have a game that has already been released and is loved by those playing it. What’s more, we have all the assets required for additional British and French ships, the German and Italian fleets, as well as the rules for the Captain’s Manual, and more. All of that can be shared directly in the Kickstarter, showing that we have a great, viable game with assets ready to march.

Q: How much will the new releases cost, and when will they be available?
A: We are still working on the comprehensive plan for the Kickstarter, which includes the overall pricing and structure of the entire new line. We won’t be able to share those specifics until the Kickstarter launches.

Q: When will the Kickstarter launch?
A: We do not have a set date yet beyond “in the fall”. We’ll provide additional details on this website in the coming weeks to remind people of the approach of this Kickstarter, and when we do have a specific date, we’ll be yelling it loud and proud everywhere.

Q: I’m not always following the website…can I get on an email list for those updates?
A: Sure…just email kickstarter@catalystgamelabs.com with the subject line: Leviathans Kickstarter Email List

For those that haven’t followed me all these years…Leviathans is absolutely a labor of love. I’m incredibly proud of the game and its wonderfully immersive universe and I (and Catalyst with me) still believe it has a place on gamer shelves. Via our new repackaging and the Kickstarter campaign, we believe we can get this game onto those shelves for years to come.

For those that have followed along during all this time, I hope you’ll continue this great, fun journey. For those just joining us, welcome!

See ya next duty shift!

Randall Bills

Comments (39)

StCptMaraAugust 27th, 2013 at 10:19 pm

OK..this is ABSOLUTELY cool. Glad to see that CGL is making use of Kickstarter to help the fans support the game we love. I *REALLY* hope this ends up ending in November when it starts, as that is a month I will have extra money to spend.

Also: Chance to name some new ships? I am SOOOO there!

RuneslingerAugust 28th, 2013 at 12:55 am

Yes, I would be behind a project such as this with more direct access to specific game items such as is offered in the other gaming products you mentioned.

MikeAugust 28th, 2013 at 3:44 am

I’m honestly done with you guys. I’ve waited patiently since the game launched and what have I been given? The chance to participate in a Kickstarter when I’ve ALREADY spent $100 to $150 on this game? Screw that.

Unless you’re going to give me a credit on the Kickstarter for what I’ve already invested in this game you guys won’t get a penny from me ever again.

[...] Catalyst plans to right the wrongs that have come up in the past. They’ve posted a Q&A on the official Leviathans site for anyone interested. This news has hit mixed reactions in the community, but as a Leviathans fan, [...]

RadecliffeAugust 28th, 2013 at 9:48 am

I am highly encouraged and am really looking forward to this kickstarter. @Mike, I understand your frustration because I share it. It is beyond disappointing the delays that have occurred so far. However, are you familiar with kickstarter at all? From what you are saying it does not sound like it.

EarlydawnAugust 28th, 2013 at 11:45 am

Where is the Catalyst support for the title? Where is the funding?

I understand that Leviathans has had huge production issues, but I don’t understand how crowd funding remedies that problem.

CGL should fully back the product from soup to nuts, or sell the IP to a company that can actually do something with it.

Not even a rough date for onew nations, no date for the Captain’s Box. Instead, we’re probably getting a fifteen dollar card expansion, and a chance to crowd fund the original product with a nebulous commitment for new material.

Let’s suppprt the product at the same level as Battletech and Shadowrun, or find a proper home for it.

JustDave DupuisAugust 28th, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Will there be options in the KickStarter for those of us who jumped on this with a starter and box sets, and do not need extras but would like the new ships/nations that come out of the kickstarter.

fanciscoAugust 28th, 2013 at 4:30 pm

So the scale of the ships is not changing and any new ships will match the old ones , correct… this is just changes in how it is packaged/sold, correct?


WorktrollAugust 28th, 2013 at 10:17 pm

1) The scale of the ships is not changing. Neither is the rules. The packaging will change.

2) The core set is relaunching full stop. There’s no dependancy on the kickstarter. Catalyst has the money to do this.

3) The kickstarter is meant to help us “do more stuff, more soon” – to coin a phrase. So (for example) we don’t need to wait for the money to come back in from selling the relaunched core boxes before we can commission the next factions.

Mike, if you don’t want to spend another cent, it’s your choice. You’ll be able to wait until the relaunched box set, and other additional things, appear in your FLGS and decide then if you’re interested. Those who choose to become involved with the Kickstarter will get access a bit earlier. It’s all good.

MarkAugust 29th, 2013 at 2:37 am

I have to say that I wanted to buy in to Leviathans when it was first put forward how many years back? – but simply lacked the readies to buy when it was released. I mean, the models looked so cool ( I love the look of the historical pre-dreadnaughts – and in this, they could fly!), but due to all sorts of income hassles, it was out of my reach.
This sounds like it could be a way in – and I really look forward to it. I really want to get into thi game.

chillatbmthAugust 29th, 2013 at 5:30 am

I’m with Mark (pp) on this. It came out at the wrong time financially for me to.

I’m in the UK and I and others have been hit hard by Customs and Excise with import duties and extra tax costs which makes jumping in to support a US kick starter cost ineffective because your true cost came suddenly rocket 30 – 50%.

The Cipher guys promised to use contacts in Spain as a distribution hub to save our pennies which I would rather give to you guys than the tax man. Do you have plans to be able to do something like this for EU backers?

I know that Magister Militum in the UK have / may still carry this game.

SpenceAugust 29th, 2013 at 7:39 pm

@1) Outstanding!

@2) Good. This part doesn’t affect me personally as I already have the core. But it does let newcomers start while not making those that originally bought in obsolete.

@3) This is the best news of all. Not having more ship models is/was killing the game. In the short term there need to be at least a type 3 and a couple smaller hulls for the Brits and French as well as at least one new faction. Preferably two.

worktrollAugust 29th, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Oh, we have 8 ships already ortho’ed but not produced (which you’ve seen), and art for lots more (not counting the Germans and Italians). One test Type III mini was made, but at least twelve months ago, which I’d kill to possess myself ;)

JohngeeAugust 31st, 2013 at 10:22 am

@ Sky Admiral Bills, the Worktroll, et al, etc.; – )

BRAVO (+1 ataboy). Keep up the good work. Proceed on current course at Full Speed (allowing for any random weirdness and unpreconceived miscellaneous misfortunes). Carry on, but not too much, as the entire fleet of fanatically loyal fans is dependent upon your success in accomplishing this mi$$ion.

I am sooo L0^0King forward to an opportunity to participate in my very first Kickstarter (&btw: the first one that I feel is worthy of my hard-earned limited re$ource$). However, as “naming future ships” is concerned – been there, done that (i.e. see: SMS Wolve = Wahr, Welt, Wiese, Wolke, Wut). How about sweetening the deal for prospective investors with some THINGS that are more tangible?

Joshuah TinkerSeptember 1st, 2013 at 8:29 pm

So wait ik they talked about making the British III’s but are they making the other classes like the Bastille class and the Connaught class warships from the poster in the core box set? I’d love if they do that finally!

DavidSeptember 2nd, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Like Mike, I invested quite a bit in this game. I was so excited prior to GenCon 2012. I gobbled up every bit of information about Leviathans. Downloaded every PDF beforehand. First booth I went to was Catalyst Games and stood happily in line to spend my $200 for the core and two expansions. I talked to people at the booth about additional expansions. I was happy to give my money away. Then … nothing. A few updates. No Captain’s Manual. No Italians. No Germans. I saw the KS campaign for the online game. That left a bitter taste. I’ve played the game three and a half times since purchase and enjoy it. But I’ve been extremely disappointed in the progress, especially with the Captain’s.

I’ll watch for the KS but I’m not interested in buying/investing in what I’ve already bought. What are you going to offer those of us that have the core and Brit & French exp? That was a significant investment in Leviathans.

Stormlion1September 2nd, 2013 at 8:17 pm

I applaud this, I truly do. But I am hit with the issue that this is essentially a re-release of the British and French ships. And while I may likely get in on this, I am hit with the problem that the game is not going forward but is stagnant shipwise. If it was pushing a expansion for the Germans and Italians I would jump on it quickly and if it was for an American fleet I would be the first at the door with money in hand. If you want my dollars, impress me by showing me something new. Show me Germans and Italians and most importantly American Leviathans.

worktrollSeptember 3rd, 2013 at 12:03 am

Mike and Stormlion1, the kickstarter is all about the Italians and Germans. They’re pretty much guaranteed to be early goals.

As we’ve said before, the relaunch of the new-style core box happens anyhow. The money exists for it. The whole point of the kickstarter is to do “more stuff, more soon”. We want to do both things – relaunch the core box so more new players can pick it up, and release more cool stuff so we can expand the game. This time, we’re using the lessons we learned with the initial launch so we can do it better.

So Mike, you’re welcome to wait the KS out, and – assuming success – buy the Italians & Germans, new British & French ships, the Captain’s Box and other stuff (as always, to be determined by Randall & CGL) when it hits the FLGS. Stormlion, if you choose you’ll be able to invest in the KS to get the German and Italian ships, etc, earlier.

As always, it’s up to each person to choose how much they want to invest – financially or emotionally – in Leviathans.

Hope that answers some of your concerns; please feel free to ask questions, and to the best of my ability as co-creator & CGL freelancer, I’ll try to answer them.

CharlesSeptember 3rd, 2013 at 1:18 am

How does all of this affect to the launch of the Commander Manual and Italian/German Creative Common sheets?

I have already two starters, so I am not interested in a kickstarter that sells me what I already have. I’ll back your project only if you use the kickstarter to sell PDFs of the Captain Manual and/or Italian/German ship sheets, which is the stuff I have been waiting so long for.

Guys, your fans want to see new stuff. This kickstarter thing can be good to hook new players, but please don’t forget about your fanbase. Keep up with the development of the game!

worktrollSeptember 3rd, 2013 at 2:32 am

Charles, the kickstarter is _NOT_ going to be used to relaunch the core set. It’s specifically to get the Type IIIs, the Captains Box, the Germans & Italians, and more (and more!) out sooner. So people who have the original core sets can invest in the KS for more new stuff, and those who don’t will be able to buy their relaunched core sets without needing to invest in the KS.

worktrollSeptember 3rd, 2013 at 2:44 am

(Note the exact content of the Kickstarter will be determined by CGL not by me. But Randall’s already said:

“Regardless of whether the Kickstarter is successful or not, Catalyst will invest in repackaging the core line of the rules, as well as the already-available British and French ships, to make them available once more. Funds raised via the Kickstarter will help us more quickly flesh out additional ships (such as the Type IIIs) for those British and French fleets, while ensuring we can publish the additional faction fleets (such as the Germans and Italians) much quicker than we normally might. And depending upon the amount of funds raised, we may also be able to speed up the process on everything, allowing us to move the entire re-launch at a faster pace.”

chillatbmthSeptember 3rd, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Dear Worktroll

Do you have a cunning plan to stop European backers from being bent over backwards by zealous customs officers (pirates by any other name).

As mentioned in previous post this can have a B I G knock on affect to the total cost of backing kick starters.

worktrollSeptember 3rd, 2013 at 11:38 pm


I can’t make binding promises on CGL, but I’ll certainly raise the point with CGL management. Maybe we can drop-ship all the boxes to Sealand, and let you guys pick up from there? (BTW, that _is_ a joke …)

Blaine L. PardoeSeptember 5th, 2013 at 9:01 am

Well, I’m biased because I have contribute to Leviathans – but I’m geeked about the Kickstarter. The material for the Italians and Germans is exciting and adds new dimensions to the game – so if this helps get it out there – I say let’s go for it!

I’m a huge fan of the Wings of Glory / Sails of Glory format of selling individual ships. Rather than shelling out for a boxed set, I can customize my fleets under this format…which is what I like.

That’s just my personal opinion.

RadecliffeSeptember 5th, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I like the idea of single ship packs but I certainly hope they can beat the price point of the Sails of Glory minis. $17 – $23 per plastic mini is a bit outside my price range. That’s anywhere from $115 to around $180 just to buy the core box ships. That will not work for me.

Here’s to hoping they can come at $9-$12 per ship mini.

NightmossSeptember 6th, 2013 at 6:30 pm

@Radecliffe Sails of Glory miniatures might seem high priced, but if you’ve ever built and played with the 1/1200 Napoleonic ship miniatures you’d know their pricing is comparable. A standard white metal build will set you back: $8.00 for the ship, $7.28 for the sails, $3.00 for the brass ratlines, $3.65 for the resin base and $0.75 for the flags, or roughly $23.00 a ship. You’ll still have to assemble, paint and rig it. With SoG you get it all without the added work. Sure, you can find cheaper ships, but not very high quality or in line with Catalyst or Ares minis standards.

If Catalyst Games can produce Leviathans ships in the $10-$15 range it will be a steal for the consumer.

JohngeeSeptember 7th, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I would like to see at least one Type-2/3 model (with cards) in that price range of $10-15, with maybe two or three Type-1′s or 0′s comparably packaged, and I guess I would probably be willing to spend $20 on a Type-4 battleship. However, IF there is only ONE card in the pack, THEN I will have to resort to the extreme measures of duplicating it and re-naming it as an identical sister ship… perhaps the HML Pegasus and the Lyon will find a home in my collection.

RadecliffeSeptember 9th, 2013 at 12:09 pm

@Nightmoss – The Fleet Box cost me about $12.50 on average. If they cannot match that price in individual ships then they need to keep producing fleet boxes or they will have priced me out of this game.

RadecliffeSeptember 9th, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Edit: Sorry, that is $12.50 per ship on average ($50 for the box of 4 ships.)

NightmossSeptember 9th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

@Radecliffe–I know what you’re saying. There was a time when you could collect and play several games. That just isn’t feasible anymore unless you’re independently wealthy. Prices keep increasing on every component that goes into games, whether it’s board games, card games or miniatures.

Here’s hoping CGL can keep their ships in the $12-$15 range?

J.L. BrownSeptember 16th, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I recently picked up the core and both expansions at HubCon; the dealer seemed okay with selling them for 25% off, and that made me wonder a bit. Now I know why — no releases for a year has created a bad impression, and he likely regarded the boxes as dead stock.

I sat down and learned the rules by adjudicating a scenario for two of my friends, and I really enjoyed the game (bit slow — it took about six hours). The potential for expansion is obvious, the quality of the boards and pieces is very good, and (though I haven’t gotten through all of it yet) the background seems rich and detailed. I look forward to more from this game — but has CGL created a problem for themselves, in that retailers who may have been ‘stuck’ with previous Leviathans stock may be unwilling to risk carrying the re-launched stuff?

Ignatius HoodSeptember 24th, 2013 at 8:30 am

I’m a big fan of this game. I purchased the Core Box, and the British Fleet box at GenCon 2013, and then subsequently I purchased the French fleet box off Amazon. Anything that pushes new content and new ships out faster would be great to hear. Also it would be great to see you guys provide a way to purchase replacement stands and bases, I have two broken destroyer bases already and would love to replace them. Additionally, more maps would be great as of right now a full fleet fight with all my ships is not possible the map is just too darn small. Finally I’d love to get a better feel for how you determine ship balancing, I’m assuming you use a point system to balance the ships. I’m workign on a point system of my own becuase I want to desgin my own ships for this game, any insight would be appreciated.

MikeOctober 6th, 2013 at 4:22 am

Worktroll, are you seriously trying to tell me that Germans and Italians won’t be released unless the Kickstarter is fully-funded? If so, what the fvck happened to the promises we were given after the British and French fleet boxes were released?

MattOctober 18th, 2013 at 6:25 pm

I just stumbled upon this page and the Leviathans game, while I was searching for an alternative for the dying Battlefleet Gothic game series from GW. Your game is really what I was searching for and I’m so looking forward to the upcoming Kickstarter campaign.

There’s only one thing that bothers me a bit. I love to play tabletops, but twice as much I love to build, customize, paint and collect miniatures. As far I noticed, there are only pre assembled and prepainted models available. And although you do have a whole lot of possible ship configurations, all of them are represented by only one and the same ship model.

So, are there any plans to sell all ships unassembled und unpainted as sprues or even better additional sprues with turrets, mast, vents and stuff? C’mon, I’m sure that a lot of people would want to give their ships a more personal touch and at least to visually create the ships that are shown on the ship cards. It’s somehow odd that you have to buy a box of pre assembled and prepainted models to cut apart for that purpose.

Andrew McKayOctober 21st, 2013 at 2:01 am

+1 to the comments above. As an avid Kickstarter (backed 68 projects and counting) I’m excited by the potential for growth in this game, but as a Leviathans gamer, I’m discouraged at the thought of more of the same-which is to say, nothing. Like everyone else here I’m have been eagerly, even anxiously, awaiting new material. THANK YOU for finally putting the elevation rules out-I am now inspired to break the game out of storage and try them out. But I need more ships! More factions! And a MUCH bigger playing surface. So here’s my suggestions and a commitment:
-Offer the old ships in the new packaging as add-ons or a reward level, but make them SECONDARY; I’ve already got everything I intend to get of the original release and won’t back a thing if I can’t acquire new models/factions.
-Offer the new factions!!! If I can get my hands on new ships, nothing will stop me from buying or backing them. Which leads me into the commitment…

If you offer type IIIs, Germans, and Italians, I WILL BACK THEM. Likely even multiple sets. But know this; if the project gets delayed and delayed and delayed, I’ll likely never buy anything Leviathans related again. So turn out some good product and do it on a reasonable timescale and you’ll reclaim this gamers shelf space. I am all in for new material; please make it awesome!

PedroOctober 25th, 2013 at 9:43 am

Please just hurry up and take my money already!!!! I need my Germans and Italians! Fighting the french all the time is so medieval.

PedroOctober 25th, 2013 at 9:53 am

BTW I agree whole heartedly with STORMLION 1′s thoughts. Already got the Core set and current expansions. I want the new stuff, not just a rehash of the old stuff.

PedroOctober 25th, 2013 at 9:59 am

Oops sorry worktroll, should have read a little further down lol. All good then. Just make sure early goal on german Italian fleets and type 3 british french aren’t tied to the core set. Don’t need another core set. Do need a Captains Manual.

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