Hi all, this is me, Jasper. I’m the person, the dog is Ginger. She’s the boss though.

I’m here to talk about my experiences escaping the daily grind and dealing with the uncertainty of a career following your creative passion.

I remember waking up at two in the morning in a cold sweat. I crept out of bed trying not disturbing my then fiancé (now wife), tip-toed downstairs to my laptop, to check something on an investment in a company that, if I told you what it does - without first explaining how through various mechanisms, it is actually an important part of the financial machine that ultimately makes it easier for people to afford homes - you might think was unethical.

In the past 5 years I’ve:

  • Quit a lucrative but soul draining career in finance
  • Written two (and a half) unpublished novels
  • Met the love of my life
  • Fostered dozens of puppies

… now I’m publishing a board game about squirrels, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s called Nut Hunt, and it’s ~200% funded on Kickstarter!

So…ask me anything!


I spent 13 years in finance. I ate lunch with billionaires, traded hundreds of millions of dollars with a click, and got sucked out on in poker by David Einhorn.

I spent 7 years at a hedge fund focused on consumer and housing finance. That means I had a front row seat at, or participated in things like this and this.

Due to various things that I am not allowed to disclose, I’m limited in the kinds of things I will or may say relating to portions of my career in finance (unless you are the IRS, my attorney, accountant, or spouse). But, I can talk about the career broadly and general impressions about work in non-specific environments.

I walked away Summer 2021.

Leaving finance was the hardest decision of my life. Most people in finance aren’t making millions of dollars. They’re making hundreds of thousands and living well in some of the most expensive cities in the world.

I walked away with a decent nest egg, but not never have to work again type money. I gave up security and a future that promised a second home – to chase a dream – and hopefully bring some joy into the world.

Gaming & The Genesis of Pine Island

I’m a board gamer at heart. I have been my whole life. I climbed to the top of the kindergarten tic-tac-toe rankings, was a powerhouse at Pogs, beat up Zargon dozens of times, and only slightly fudged my character creation roles in DND.

In my mid-20s I re-discovered a love for Magic the Gathering. I played pretty seriously for a while, battling my way through multi-thousand player tournaments and even wrote strategy articles.

Over the years I’ve designed a fair number of board games. Until Nut Hunt, none of them clicked.

In the depths of quarantine (late summer 2020) Nut Hunt was born. Within the first few minutes of playing the game it was obvious that there was something magical about it.

The gameplay is smooth and organic. It’s exciting with a fox that roams the board scattering your squirrels. And, while light and easy to learn, there’s a nice level of strategic depth layered on top of variance.

After months of testing and fine tuning the game, my then fiancé, now wife, Chelsea and I decided to pursue self-publication.

We founded Pine Island Games and brought together an incredible team to bring the game to life - including Christine Santana for graphic design (Wingspan, Scythe, and Tapestry), and Steven Nickel for illustration (Broken Anvil Miniatures, and stevesketches on twitch).

It has been a long journey full of ups, downs, and in-betweens.

It’s been immensely challenging and deeply rewarding.

Our first game is ~200% funded on Kickstarter and going higher! And we are incredibly excited for the future of our young company!!

Fostering Puppies

Chelsea and I volunteer with True North Rescue Mission in New York City. Since a dog tax is customary, here are some of our pups from over the years.

I encourage supporting your local rescues however you can. The pandemic took not only a toll on us, and our way of life, but on our four-legged friends as well.

Comments: 109 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

ChippyJoy26 karma

What was the inspiration behind your game? What made you want to make a game about squirrels

Mango_Punch29 karma

The initial inspiration was we were playing ticket to ride, and I wished I could break someone's route. From there a whole slew of mechanics fell into place, and a fox was an excellent disruptive agent. Plus it was quarantine, and I was stir crazy for some woods!

sysifuscorp14 karma

Hey Jasper! Very interesting story. Congrats on funding!!

I'm a board game developer as well with a similar story, I have two questions--

1) What are the things you did to get a following for your board game before the launch of your Kickstarter?

2) Why dogs and not cats? I'm team cat all the way.

Mango_Punch15 karma

I'll take this in reverse order

'2. I think a lot of great developers are team cat (ehem Jamey Stegmaier), so you are in good company

'1. We did a number of things, but could have done a lot better. The most successful was the organic outreach - tiktok, conventions, and word of mouth. Plus at launch reviewers. What did not do well was our paid advertising. Facebook leads ended up being real underperformers on conversions.

rumblylumbly6 karma

I have zero interest in publishing games but I did peek at his blog on his website and OP goes through metrics of giveaways, challenges, etc of his current kickstarter. I recommend taking a look.

Mango_Punch5 karma

This KS has been a huge learning experience, so for anyone interested, I will have a lot more data and insights to share once all the dust settles. What worked, what didn't, and the economics behind it all.

Fanybany113 karma

Did you by any chance dabble with stop motion claymation before starting the board game project?
Jokes aside, looks really cool! I wish you all the best!

Mango_Punch7 karma

Hahaah, not claymation - stop motion found objects. It's a big money field ;)

And thanks for the kinds words :). Board games is definitely a challenging, but achievable field to be successful in. Plus, it's work that I love.

orikagan10 karma

I got 2 questions, one serious, and the other even seriouser: 1. Could you tell a little bit more about the exact moment you made the decision to leave your finance job and pursue game design full time? Was there a moment which "broke the camel's back"? 2. Squirrel or Chipmunk?

Mango_Punch18 karma

Great questions,

So it was actually somewhat complicated, and I knew for at least 2-3 years that I needed an exit. It was just a matter of time until I found the right outlet. What I didn't want to do is leave a well paying career for a career I also hated.

That's part of why I wrote the novels, I was looking for my something else.

It was honestly a slow build - driven by a lack of passion or feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment in what I was doing.

I wish I could give a specific, and looking back - there were definitely a lot of moments when it wasn't worth the stress and drain, but we took our time before tearing off the bandaid.

When you have to expend a massive amount of mental and emotional energy to do well at your career, you just don't have that energy for other parts of your life. And I slowly realized that was how I was living.


Trick question, chipmunks are squirrels :)

5SSSH9 karma


Mango_Punch6 karma

I feel you, stay strong, you'll land on your feet and find it :)

AnotherDrunkCanadian9 karma

I also resigned from a 20 year career in finance and insurance. I sold everything and moved with my wife and son to Tahiti to open up a VR arcade. Our timing couldn't have been worse - after two years of immigration, business planning, selling all our stuff, getting the business up to code, we were finally able to open our doors - a week before covid struck the island.

Kudos to you for living the dream, I wish you luck and success.

Uh, question.... have you considered making a blog of writing a book about the journey?

Mango_Punch7 karma

Thank you for the kind words, and I hope you are rebounding with a vengeance! I have a blog on board games publishing. Once we are successful, it's definitely in the cards to do a book on starting the business - but I hadn't given much thought on a book on my personal journey. That is an interesting thought.

Wallaby_song6 karma

Very jealous, but happy for you. I looked at the Kickstarter before finishing your intro and your cards immediately reminded me of magic the gathering. So that's awesome.

Have you ever seen the CharDee MacDennis episode of always sunny?

Mango_Punch2 karma

Thank you so much - it is definitely a huge privilege to pursue this dream! I haven't seen that episode, my always sunny watching is sporadic, although I do enjoy the show

JEAFCommander6 karma

how did you come up with the idea of a fox chasing squirrels trying to collect nuts as a board game?

Mango_Punch6 karma

There were a number of ideas that just sort of fell into place. The initial inspiration was Ticket to Ride, but I wanted to be able to disrupt people's routes. This worked well with a modular board which adds to replayability. And I knew that I needed a disruptive agent to actually mess with the routes.

At the same time we were in the depths of quarantine, and I was a little stir-crazy in the city, day dreaming of the countryside. A fox and squirrels just made sense.

The game fell together pretty quickly after that. Squirrels scattering is perfectly thematic, hassling the fox evokes a lovely visual of squirrels pelting nuts at them.

A lot has been tweaked around the edges over the past (almost two years), but the core mechanisms of the gameplay were set within the first 15 minutes of playing. The game really just worked. it was night and day compared to other work I've done designing my own games where it feels a lot like running into a wall - earning inches. Nut Hunt just kind of fell in my lap.

Bigdaddyfatback86 karma

Hi Jasper, I love your story and the game looks great. Congrats. My question is- I have a game idea in my head. I’m an avid board gamer and I think it’s a good idea. How do I get started?

Mango_Punch6 karma

Great question!

The first thing is you want to prototype it with what you have around the house and start playing it. Iterate on it until it's fun, and tight.

Then make a better prototype and play with friends and family.

Then a better prototype and play with strangers.

You want to make it as amazing as you can and then go down the road of deciding whether you want to self publish, or license it to a publisher.

I encourage joining r/boardgamedesign, r/tabletopgamedesign, and board game design lab on facebook. When you get to the stage of looking to publish it, I wrote up an article on thinking through self publishing versus licensing: https://www.pineislandgames.com/blog/should-i-self-publish

5SSSH5 karma


Mango_Punch4 karma

Depends on what assets we wanted to start chipping into. 2.5 years and a couple of games with what we are really comfortable with touching, 3-4 more years if we go into the retirement accounts.

Kieran4845 karma

Where/how did you learn the fundamentals of designing a game?

What are your books about?

Mango_Punch5 karma

In terms of fundamentals it was just trial and error and playing a lot of games. Before designing Nut Hunt, I hadn't read any books on game design (I now have), I was just putting together things that I thought would be fun, and made sense from my experience as a gamer.

A lack of a formal approach might be why it had been hard for me to really land a game before, but also part of why Nut Hunt is special. The fox mechanism in it is a pretty novel and unique mechanical element.


  1. Card Guardian - about a tcg player who gets wrapped up in some unsavory business, and an unscrupulous a card shop owner who is a bit of an Ignatius Reilly.
  2. Critters of Conifer Isle - about a squirrel getting washed ashore on an island and with it it brings self awareness and an ability to communicate to the critters. It's about his friendship with a duck, and ultimate quest to save his friend when he doesn't return in the spring.
  3. Vagabonds - about a drifter and a magic coin. he thinks the magic coin tells him what's up ahead, but really it's bending reality. he and his ragtag group need to get the coin to "the end of the line" before the big baddie catches up to them, but where is the end of the line?

Card guardian is fully written with a couple of pass throughs of editing done. Isle is about half written - I had a hard time finding the right voice. Vagabonds has the first draft done and is partially edited.

UniversesWanderer4 karma

How did you manage to get into such a high level finance job? What was the best part? What was the worst part?

Mango_Punch6 karma

Short answer, luck and hard work. Long answer...

I went to a good but not top tier college (St Lawrence University), but did very well in college. Double major, magna cum laude, founder of the school math club, and student body president.

I worked hard, but I also got lucky. I got an internship summer after sophomore year in consulting from an awesome German gentleman who was a regular at my parents' inn (I grew up in a bed and breakfast that my parents owned and operated).

I didn't really know what I wanted to be, so I went with what seemed like a natural option which was finance or consulting.

I got turned down from a lot of jobs senior year of college - Goldman, Bear Stearns (thank god), Bain, BCG, Parthenon.

My first job out of college was for a boutique broker dealer and investment bank called Fox-Pitt Kelton Cochran Caronia Waller. I initially interviewed for an i-banking role, I didn't get it, but they liked me enough to get brought back for a sell side associate slot. It also helped that I had made an impression on the Cochran in that long line of names as he was a trustee at my school.

I was a junior on a team covering mortgage REITs, mortgage insurers, and BDCs.

FPK got bought by Macquarie bank in 2009.

The acquisition caused some volatility in retention, so I was able to grab myself some coverage, and advance to a senior analyst role in a pretty short amount of time.

My coverage as a senior analyst got me noticed by a couple of buyside shops and head hunters, and I made the jump in 2014 to a hedge fund.

I don't want to give the impression that I in anyway knew what I was doing. My career was mostly a case of falling upward from one role to the next, rather than a thought out and well planned career progression.

Best part: I really love the discovery of digging into an industry or company and figuring out how it works. I also worked with some incredibly smart and talented people over the years and it's really nice to be in environments where you can nerd out and have debates about all sorts of issues.

Worst parts: Once I got through figuring out how things ticked it wasn't as interesting. I didn't inherently care that interest rates were 10 bps higher, or CCAR ratings were incrementally better. I also had frustrations at work that compounded over time and made it really draining. When you start to become unhappy in a career, and a job requires an immense amount of emotional energy to perform at the level you can and should - it becomes incredibly challenging and impacts your entire life inside and outside of the office. That kind of emotional investment just grows over time.

I am extremely lucky that Chelsea and I set ourselves up so that I can pursue something I am passionate about. A lot of my decisions in life (a reckless 20s) stacked some of the dice against me.

Dumb_Nuts3 karma

Love this story. Not to different from my own. Lucked into a sell-side role, but turned down the opportunity to make senior analyst at 25 and more relaxed role in the industry instead though. Mountain biking became a huge part of my life and a bit more important than chasing the almighty dollar. By the sound of it we had some coverage overlap as well!

Love the story and love board games, but don't have as big a crew since moving to get playing.

I have to say though, I miss the action and being in the flow within coverage. Something about being an industry expert and have an informed opinion on niche industries and getting to debate with some sharp people is almost a game itself.

Is that something you miss at all since leaving?

(I'm still young and early in my career. Would love to connect if that's possible!)

Mango_Punch3 karma

There's definitely something that feels pretty rewarding about being in the flow, and on top of what's going on. I realized a few weeks ago that I didn't know spot rates. It was weird.

And yeah, being on a desk and debating ideas was pretty fun, same with jawing the with the street.

There are definitely aspects of the career that I'm sure I'll be nostalgic about. But ultimately I think I overstayed how long I should have been in the industry.

I'm definitely open to connecting. I'm really busy right now - but things will slow down in July. Shoot me an e-mail then reminding me about this convo (e-mail is easy to find on our website).

UniversesWanderer3 karma

Wow, I’m also been very curious how anyone gets into a job like that and I guess falling upwards like you said is the only thing that really makes a ton of sense unless it’s passed down to you. Really interesting story, thank you for answering!

Mango_Punch2 karma

Idk, there are definitely people who are more deliberate about it and actively look for the next opportunity on their ladder upward. That isn’t how my career progressed though.

InsanelySpicyCrab4 karma

your Kickstarter promo video is excellent. May I ask how you made it and how much it cost?

Mango_Punch5 karma

Thank you! Ori Kagan over at Kagan productions made it! Full credit to him and his animator Daniel!


I’ll dm you the exact price as, I am not sure what kinds of rate sheet he has on his website.

proandry4 karma

Hi, Jasper! I hope you have all great now. I see, that you have finance experience. Can you answer me please. Why do you think about bitcoin and his future? Thanks you for the answer)

Mango_Punch5 karma

I can talk to you in depth about housing finance, consumer finance, banking, and financial services... but bitcoin is out of my purview.

proandry3 karma

Do you buy any shares of the company? What would you pay attention to and why?

Mango_Punch6 karma

At the companies I worked at? No, equity wasn't an option for us. I did have some deferred income tied to our fund performance though.

Did I buy equity in other companies? Yes, both as part of my job, and in my pa (personal account). Most of the companies I was an expert in I was precluded from being able to invest in personally - so usually almost all of my personal investments are just in ETFs.

Occasionally I'll see a company that I like, or more frequently a short term disruption that I'll look to take advantage of in my PA, But then it's back to ETFs. The main reason is that I am intimately aware of the level of work that it takes to make a smart investment - and I am just not dedicating that kind of time to investing my personal account.

My style of investing has always been fundamental driven. Usually (but not exclusively) value oriented. To be smarter than the market you need to have a level of understanding of the underlying companies' operations, and the operating environment that the market doesn't have. And that takes a lot of work - even for someone (like me) who understands the core drivers of companies in these industries.

5000_LilSebastian3 karma

Just wanted to say I went ahead and pledged for your Kickstarter! I love board games and it looks promising :)

Do you already have other game ideas for the future?

Mango_Punch5 karma

Yep! We already signed our second game and are well underway with development on it. It’s a two player dueling game called SIGIL.

It’s very different from NH, but is absolutely phenomenal. Easily my favorite abstract strategy game, probably followed by Onitama which is just an incredibly elegant design.

We have big plans for SIGIL and a big part of our marketing push for it will be getting people playing a free digital version with ladder matches, an elo ranking, the whole nine yards.

ISayISayISay3 karma

I’m the person, the dog is Ginger.

Really? :)

Mango_Punch3 karma

Promise :)

RichWhalePoorWhale3 karma

This is amazing Jesper! I admire you so much for taking a calculated risk to create something so awesome. You have an amazing team. Love the fur babies you fostered. What are some of the milestones you’d like to reach in the next 6 month with your ventures?

Mango_Punch3 karma

Thanks Rich Whale! Great question

6 months will be before Nut Hunt fulfills. But, I have a couple of milestones in mind for Nut Hunt and our other projects:

  1. Nut Hunt
    1. Manufacture wrapped up and on boats (ships?) heading to our fulfillment centers.
    2. I'd like to have a marketing plan (second review campaign) planned out for when the game fulfills.
  2. SIGIL (our second game) (a 2 player abstract strategy game. It's targeted at the gamer psychographic (preference profile / archetype) who like games like Magic, Chess, Go, Onitama, etc.)
    1. I'd like to be wrapping up the illustration and graphic design (maybe done with it and ordering prototypes) and hard at work putting together our preview campaign
    2. We'll be deep in our marketing push for SIGIL which will be pretty different from how we approached Nut Hunt. We have our own servers and a digital version of the game we are finalizing - so a lot of the push will be with streamers and getting people on that platform. I don't have a hard number of players I am looking for by year end, but if I had to put a number on it right now - I'd be looking a couple thousand in ranked play. But, that depends on how we roll out the digital play - and when we start promoting it through stream.
  3. 3rd Game
    1. I'd like to have a third game signed and in development.

WildWoodLaboratory3 karma

Best financial advice for someone in college?

Mango_Punch3 karma

‘#1 and what everyone will tell you: Max out your 401k and set aside a bit extra of every paycheck and don’t touch it except for things like buying a house.

Next level advice: boring investments are usually better.

Super secret advice: it’s ok to have a little leverage. The interest rate on your student loans might be lower than your expected return slapping your money in a brokerage account. Leverage increases volatility but also return expectations. So especially when young and you have a long time horizon - it’s fine to be a little leveraged. Don’t go crazy with it - but a bit is ok and might be smart.

This is the stuff I wish I did right out of college. I was always good on the 401k front but it took me too long to be serious about building capital.

American_Person3 karma

Did being in finance give you any insider secrets to building a business?

Mango_Punch3 karma

Secrets probably not, but it gave me a solid understanding of how businesses work, and how to analyze them. It makes it a lot easier to be able to model out different scenarios, how we should think through investments, and especially how to plan for and weather risk.

I've made a little niche for myself writing blog posts covering the business side of publishing, which I think has built a lot of goodwill in the community and created a lot of buy in. I've had a few people message me that they normally don't back first time Kickstarter creators, but they are backing our project because they have faith in us. It's been a pretty incredible experience.

I have two big takeaway from starting Pine Island

  1. You need a massive amount of figure-it-out-ed-ness. No one else is there to figure it out for you. You need to dig in, and fiddle around with it, and keep on working at every little thing until you get it sorted.
  2. You are going to make mistakes, and you need to iterate and learn from those mistakes. We've made plenty, and I think we are better positioned to execute as a company because we won't make those same mistakes again. That also means that you need to plan for things to go wrong, and set yourself up to weather it all.

dogflicker3 karma

Fellow Magic the Gathering player here. Did you notice any skill crossovers from your finance career to magic and vice versa? I assume basic strategy such as logical thinking and thinking for the future is obvious but anything specific?

Mango_Punch4 karma

I think the biggest specific crossover is an understanding of variance, and that making decisions based on the range of probabilistic outcomes is the goal. More often than not that works out, but sometimes it won't. And whether or not it works out is an independent event - and as long as you can critically analyze your decisions the variance in both is a lot more emotionally palatable.

What is interesting is I really like that kind of strategic thinking - that is strategy on top of variance. I think it shows in Nut Hunt. You can either approach it as a lightweight game where you're chucking dice, and just having fun. Or, you can think through how you are setting yourself up to take advantage of a range of probabilities in terms of how the fox moves around the board, and how you can position to take advantage of that.

People who play poker and mtg, really enjoy that kind of strategy and thought process, and it tends to be their favorite part of the game. People who are looking for a light-weight experience really enjoy the fun chaotic moments it creates. The only sub-segment of people who tend to not be big fans of the gameplay, are gamers who prefer much more deterministic strategy - and take the game seriously.

Which I think is fair, everyone has different gaming preferences, and if you want to spend two coal and know that you're getting an oil from it next turn - then you might prefer something else.

Back to your initial question - I think that in life in general people who gravitate towards games, and who have a certain type of drive to excel at games, tend to be successful in whatever career they choose. I think that is a covariate of a level of curiosity, and a tendency towards self improvement more than the specific skill-sets mtg taught them.

But, the understanding variance thing - that is a skillset directly shared by investing professionally and playing a lot of mtg.

theRed-Herring3 karma

I currently work in what you describe, soul sucking finance. I do a lot of what you're described at work and meet with those big money people too. My nest egg is good but I want that never work again money cause I hate this shit.

I'm planning an exit as well and walking away from a salary people would love to have. My question is how did you do it? How did you take the leap and just quit with seemingly no job prospects lined up? I too have saved a ton at this job and have a good nest egg but I'm so fearful that I'm making a horrible decision and will regret leaving a job that pays like this.

Also your board game sounds epic and I love squirrels so I'll have to check it out.

Mango_Punch2 karma

It is really hard. It was always "one more bonus cycle" or "just until this deferred comp gets paid". Last summer I had an opportunity to leave with some of that money, and it finally made sense for us.

I also finally had another venture - and it is something I am passionate about - and I can see the path to making a career out of. That path will entail a lot of hard work, and a good bit of sacrifice, but we will get there.

So, I don't have a good answer. It's both having the money to to be ok pursuing the next opportunity, and having a next opportunity that you want to pursue. And, if that means earning out for a bit longer, there isn't anything wrong with that - as long as it is what is best for you.

Dumb_Nuts3 karma

Congrats on meeting the goal, I'll be picking up a game for my next family game night once we all get together.

I'll ask this here - Why go the kickstarter route? Tough fundraising environment for non-digital gaming?

Mango_Punch2 karma

Thanks! and that is awesome to hear!

There are a number of advantages to crowdfunding I wrote about the broadly in this blog post. For us though it boils down to a couple of key factors:

  1. It is a powerful marketing tool and call to action. It allows our game to get broader initial reach, which we can capitalize on by delivering an amazing game. So it accelerates the process of getting more games into more hands.
  2. It helps us plan for demand and geographic distribution. Knowing how many games to print and when, and where to freight them is hard. The KS is a good starting point.

Some companies' business model is to have serialized Kickstarters - that is not our business model.

We want to use the Kickstarter to jumpstart getting our games into the world, and grow them organically from that base. Because of that we have made a real push to build relationships with retail stores. We sent out a physical mailer to >850 brick and mortar game stores in the US and Canada. And for a first time publisher our retail engagement is very strong. We still have a lot of work to do, but I think we are laying the foundation for a very good direct to retail program with Nut Hunt and our future games.

quilsmehaissent2 karma

the game looks pretty cool in this smart but "not complex to start with" niche (we love kingdomino here)

I have one question, how much money did you have to throw in to reach this point?

I wish you luck always nice to see some people "get the hell outta there" and discover what life is supposed to be

Mango_Punch2 karma

Thanks - love the commentary and spot on with the niche.

For this project, we put about $25k into developing the game. Marketing is also quite expensive and I haven't done final accounting yet. But all said close to $40k (including things like page design, and the video). Some of that was unproductively used on facebook ads and lead forms which have massively unperformed in terms of conversions. What has been successful has been review and preview content, and organic outreach.

quilsmehaissent4 karma

I guess you should have dumped Facebook ads and such at the same time you dumped finance!

thanks for the comprehensive answer!

I will share one thing about France : it's all about review, Ludochrono and their pals with website and YouTube channels are what people who really love board games listen to, then their friends listen to them, you know what I mean

city stores also have power but are harder to reach I guess

then being top of the year in Germany (spiel des jahres) or France (as d'or) is a boost too, but depending on the year can be hard to reach!

Well always talking/writing too much, glad for you and again best of luck, I think you are already on a great path

Mango_Punch2 karma

Thank you so much! And agreed on all counts. In retrospect - we would have expanded the review campaign, and also hit some niche influencer markets like momfluencers. Always good to keep learning and moving forward.

mayonnnnaise2 karma

OP. Why the spread eagle focus on your crotch bro? Couldn't you have cropped it a bit? Lmao

Mango_Punch2 karma

If I cropped it lower, you wouldn’t see Ginger’s cute face :)

littleredtrashpanda2 karma

How did you really realize that the game would be good, and be received well?

Mango_Punch3 karma

It's always a pretty big gamble, in terms of how people will receive anything. In this case, first I got confidence because I play a lot of games. The social proof comes over time when you start putting it in front of strangers and really listening to what they have to say about it.

Ancient-Ad-13832 karma

Do you have more board game projects lined up? Can you expand on what they might revolve around? Also, are these ideas original because I see that alot of board games nowadays just piggy-back off of established companies. Thanks and I will be looking forward to check it out soon!

Mango_Punch1 karma

We do! Our second game is called SIGIL and it is pretty deep in development (working on the graphic design and illustration). It's a 2 player abstract strategy dueling game - think GO meets Magic the Gathering.

It is an extremely tight design that we licensed from an outside designer (Andreas Voellmer). A big part of our marketing for that will be through a free digital version that we are building in house on our own servers. So, stay tuned.

One of our big goals is for all of our games to be novel and bring something new to the hobby. Every game will have some mechanical overlap with what exists in the world - but each of our games also has something unique.

- Nut Hunt is a network connections game (think ticket to ride) on a modular board. But it introduces this disruptive element in the fox - that doesn't exist anywhere else. It makes for some fun, chaotic moments, and also introduces a new level of strategy.

- SIGIL's base mechanism is stone placing where you are positioning around opposing pieces. So it has spatial reasoning elements that you see in GO, or Hive. But, it also has spells on the board that (when you control them), you can cast for powerful effects. That combination is novel - and creates a really nice tension with how you are fighting over the board.

nnulll2 karma

How do you feel about the coming recession?

Mango_Punch2 karma

From a personal perspective, inflation and a down market kinda sucks when you planned your life around savings lasting you for a certain amount of time. It's also pretty tough when you are forward selling a product (like a Kickstarter), but will have to eat some of the costs in half a year - and they could be higher.

I'm honestly more worried about stagflation, as that is kind of where it feels we are headed. Granted, I haven't been very on top of the market or current economic trends.

nnulll2 karma

Thanks for the response.

Do you feel like you’ll always be able to make a living from creating board games no matter what the state of the economy is?

Mango_Punch2 karma

No matter the state? idk, probably not. Or at least I would expect to be a lot harder at times.

It partially depends on what stage our company is in. Board games in general shouldn't be very cyclical, and I could see them being counter-cyclical in a lot of cycles. Kickstarter games may be viewed as more of a luxury and be more cyclical.

More so than headline gdp I'm worried about exogenous shocks - so things like freight price volatility, more manufacturing shut downs, etc. Things that can hammer us on the cost of goods side.

High inflation is also a little scary, especially because it takes people time to adjust to new costs of goods. If it's something you need, you'll bite the bullet, but I could see perception of a board games value hurting our ability to sell if we have to raise prices. Especially since most people don't buy board games regularly - so there can be sticker shock.

randesh5692 karma

Ben Wyatt? Is that you?

Mango_Punch2 karma

Interesting, I've never gotten Ben Wyatt before. But I'll take it.

kaboopanda1 karma

Is there any profit in board games? Seems to me it's only outliers that walk away from a Kickstarter campaign with any kind of profit. Or is it more a labour of love for you?

Mango_Punch2 karma

These are excellent questions! And really get to the meat of it all. I'll tackle them all under the one parent comment.

Question 1 - is their money in board games?

There can be profit in board games, but it is hard. We have a runway, but eventually this needs to turn into a profitable venture.

There is a massive range of how people approach board game publishing, and the kind of investment they put into the process. We are approaching publishing games professionally.

And, maybe there is a little hubris this take - but there are plenty of board game companies that are successful year-in-and-year out, and when I look around at them, I think that we have the skillset to turn the company into one of those sustainable businesses. Otherwise I'd be doing something else.

Question 2 - game success so far?

In terms of money raised, and early momentum, the Kickstarter is within the range of my expectations, but in the lower end of that range.

I made a number of miss-steps around launching the game. And I'll do a pretty exhaustive deconstruction once all the dust settles.

The biggest takeaways so far are that I over-estimated the impact of Facebook ads and leads - and conversion expectations. Those ended up being pretty abysmal. I also think I missed some opportunity by not having enough focus in the marketing. Momfluencers are a huge untapped opportunity for us to have promoted the game through.

Other areas have been stronger drivers of traffic - and are positive indicators for the longer term viability of the game and company.

We've gotten strong direct to retail engagement (especially for a first time publisher), our organic engagement while not large has been well received with some absolutely incredible and passionate members of the community, and our traction from reviews has been pretty strong.

Our current expectation is that our Kickstarter is a loss-leader for Nut Hunt. But creates a good base of supporters that we can grow the game from (not to mention engage with on our future games).

We're shifting our plan as we learn from our mistakes, reducing our Facebook ad spend, lining up more preview content, promoting some existing content, and when the game fulfills we'll have another round of marketing where we'll engage some more targeted demographics.

Treating it as a loss leader also gives us more flexibility in terms of the focus is now to get the game out as broadly as possible.

A plus side for our backers, is that if we sell like 2k games through the KS, that is a capital outlay that I am comfortable covering out of pocket. So, I can start manufacture before the pledge manager closes, meaning games in backer hands sooner - and an excellent walk away experience from our first campaign.

So, the long short of it - I am very encouraged with the foundation the KS is laying, and think it bodes well for the future of the company. But, there are some very real and in some cases expensive lessons that we've learned around the campaign.

Question 3 - BGA and proof of concept

I think any serious game today needs to be able to be tested digitally by prospective backers. For Nut Hunt we have it up on TTS, although BGA and Tabletopia are both fine options.

We have a lot of social proof around the game, and believe there is a very real market for it. But, I don't think that BGA is an ideal platform for testing a game like Nut Hunt or verifying whether there is demand.

Every game will feel different in person versus digitally. That range though is pretty varied based on the game. Nut Hunt has a lot of action and flow and energy that can get lost in a digital translation. The game is still quite fun digitally, but the difference between physical and digital is larger than it is for other genres of games.

Our second game (SIGIL) translates very well to a digital platform. It's a two player abstract strategy dueling game. We're making a material investment creating our own digital platform for SIGIL complete with leader boards and ELO rankings. We plan on having it play a central role in a lot of our outreach around the game.

[deleted]0 karma


omniphobe2 karma

What was the hand you lost to David Einhorn?

Mango_Punch2 karma

It was over a decade ago, so I don’t remember the specifics exactly. It was something like getting it in with top pair vs a draw and he got there - 70/30 type stuff.

Lovelyterry-6 karma

Why did you participate in fucking over poor people? And why do you think we want to help you in your karmic redemption?

Mango_Punch17 karma

I assumed I would get questions like this, and I think that the economic issues are a lot more complicated than you (and maybe a lot of Reddit) likes to make them seem. In my personal life I support candidates and give to causes that are pro-wealth redistribution. I think we should have a wealth tax and UBI.

As an example, let's get down to the brass tacks of the economics of something like delinquent mortgage servicing.

So, I am assuming this is an area that you aren't familiar with. So I'll explain.

If you have a mortgage, you send your monthly payment to a mortgage servicer. They collect some portion as a "servicing fee" or "servicing strip" and pass the rest on to the ultimate owner of the loan.

If you stop paying, they are also who calls you to try and work things out. If you keep on not paying then the value of that servicing strip goes down. Substantially.

Your regular servicer will often either sell the servicing strip (rights to the now-non-existent stream of payment, and responsibility to service the loan) to a distressed servicer.

Let's put some numbers to it - just as an example. A servicing strip of 0.25% of the loan is worth let's call it 1% of the loan (a 4x), you stop paying and that delinquent strip get's sold for let's say 0.30% of the principal of the loan. So, if we're talking $1,000 of principal, we're talking something that was originally worth $10, now getting sold for $3.

The delinquent servicer has their call center call you, and sends you mailers. Their best case is that you start paying again either the full amount, or at a modified lower rate. If that happens, they sit on the servicing right for a few months, and turn around and sell it for $6 or $7.

But, some people can't pay. So the servicer goes through the process of either REO, or foreclosure or some other process to reclaim value for the loan holders.

Ostensibly, and on a personal level, this is terrible. There is a very real human cost involved.

But let's back up. What would happen if there was no one to service the loan if it went delinquent? If there was no recourse to the borrower? And if mortgages weren't secured by property?

Well, mortgages would be a hell of a lot more expensive. Credit cards are unsecured - but still have recourse and for a lot of people you're looking at high teens rates, versus low single digit mortgages.

So this ecosystem of recourse, and really negative outcomes for some people creates an environment where a lot more people can buy homes.

I think that a lot of our economic system is like this. You can point to extremely negative outcomes for some portion of the population - but it is a tiny sliver of the picture and the rippling impacts. This goes for single family rental, auto, and consumer receivables.

On the other side of the coin, there are huge portions of our financial services sector that people aren't upset about - at least en-mass -that they should be up in arms about. There are dozens of government programs which directly benefit large holders of capital. Special risk share programs, loan programs etc. And people are out bitching about the wrong things.

Let's rewind and go back to the servicing example. For argument's sake, let's say that that was a morally abhorrent industry. How high up would you have to go to start assigning blame? The call center employee? The middle management? Someone in accounting? IT? The portfolio manager? Someone just out of college paying off their student loans?

These are complicated topics. And the vast majority of people in these fields are just trying to live a good life, and do well for themselves and their family in the environment they are in.

I won't argue that there isn't a kind of moral distance that can come about from working in finance. But, I don't think that is unique to that field. Most people in most fields are going to work and performing their tasks and working for that promotion or opportunity, or just existing. Not every employee at Disney is thinking about what their legal team is lobbying for.

I think there are also a lot of broader philosophical questions that are worth thinking about in terms of the structure of our financial services industry, and specifically our government's favoring of specific types of behavior (how much housing have the GSEs actually created, etc). But that isn't really on topic for your question.

To answer your question directly - I don't think I need karmic redemption, or that my story is a redemption ark. That's because I didn't "fuck over poor people" like you're accusing me of doing. That's why in my intro I pointed to the sort of cognitive dissonance between the surface of a problem, and the deeper truth of where it sits in a larger system.

Finance wasn't fulfilling for me, and I ultimately walked away. And part of that is because I believe I am creating more value for myself and the world by publishing board games. But that isn't because I think I was an active participant in making the world worse. I was a piece of a machine that performs a function in society. And that machine creates value in some ways, but is also imperfect.

I do think there's a lot wrong with our economic political system, but your anger is misdirected.

Ditoeight3 karma

As a former-financial-analyst-turned-data-scientist (I also found finance boring), this comment was so cathartic to read. I expected comments like the OP's too when I read the AMA body, but this was a masterful breakdown.

Mango_Punch3 karma

Glad to hear it! I've definitely given the topic plenty of thought :) There's a lot of reductive anti-xyz sentiment on the internet, so it's nice to have the opportunity to provide nuance to at least one area that I am well informed in.