Daniel Baba
United States
Washington
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I am finishing up a design of a game that plays 40-60 minutes and is focused on area control. The game has two additional aspects that I have tested but I am not sure if I should include them in the version I submit to the publisher. One of them just adds complexity and some variation to the game and the other adds a new 'phase' to the game of bidding based on your area control. The 1st one doesn't add time to gameplay while the 2nd one turns it into a 80-90 minute game.

I could either just submit the base game to a publisher, submit the game with both or just one of the aspects, or submit it with the aspects in the rules as 'variants' to play.

I feel that submitting the game with the additional aspects is a bit clunkier and may seem too complex for a 'base' game. Submitting with variants could be viewed as 'why do you have these if they aren't necessary to the game?'. Submitting just the base game works but I feel like its missing the opportunity if the publisher likes it better with one of the aspects. I have heard though that some publishers like getting 'more game' so they can cut down on it...

I can see pros & cons to each. Any experience in this matter or recommendations?
 
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Jeff Warrender
United States
Averill Park
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The "right" answer is probably publisher-dependent but I suspect that the existence of variants and expansions does you no harm but also does you no specific help. Ultimately they have to like the base game, so emphasize that, but perhaps you could mention in the initial pitch, "by the way, I have some ideas about variants or expansions if we get to that point" and leave the ball in their court as to whether they want to ask for more.

Generally, if you sign a contract, it will, or should, state that the publisher gets the right of first refusal to publish an expansion or maybe even a reskin/daughter game.
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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St Catharines
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If you have variants or expansions that extend the audience (family game mode, co-op play, solo) then they could increase the potential of your game.

A set of variants and mini-expansions could have several benefits:
* the publisher could be looking for something slightly different (more choices on a turn, more randomness, different game length) and find the answer there
* you can make your game look simpler by moving bits to the variants section and suggesting using a particular combination of variants as an advanced mode
* if they publish on KS then you've got stretch goals

I think that you might want to customize what's in the base game for each publisher. Make sure that they play the best version of your game for them and that the pieces they won't be using are clearly separate (for easy play and the publisher estimating bill of materials when opening your box).
 
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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jwarrend wrote:
Generally, if you sign a contract, it will, or should, state that the publisher gets the right of first refusal to publish an expansion or maybe even a reskin/daughter game.
Be careful that reskins are delineated from related games; publishers often get to pick the final theme but you want to make sure that you can publish a related game with a different publisher if your original publisher doesn't want it.
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Jeff Warrender
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I think we'd all like to see Matt Leacock's contract with Z-Man so we can all figure out what contract language allowed him to sign Forbidden Island without Z-Man blowing a gasket. But maybe it's just as simple as the right-of-first-refusal language; maybe he pitched it to them but they didn't want it.
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Ryan Winters
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I am not a part of the industry, but I feel like more options are better. You can delineate specifically what is included variants and what you think would make good expansion material. If it's within your control, I would present the base vanilla version as it stands, the version you think represents the game the best. Then also say you have some developed variants and potential expansion content. They might be interested to know that there is already more content for the base design. This would be especially true if it went on Kickstarter and these items could become stretch goals. For the game I'm working on, I have at least one included variant, basically it increases the complexity just a bit. For me, the reason was I think it's best to learn the game using the basic game then include the variant (which breaks some vanilla rules) after you've got that figured out. I think including the variant in the first play would tip the learning curve a bit too far for a first or even second play. Just my opinion.
 
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