Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Whte Box Sold Out!

Just a little over a week after opening pre-orders for a boxed edition of Swords & Wizardry: White Box, John Adams of Brave Halfling Publishing has announced that the product is sold out for the foreseeable future. This is both terrific and disappointing news -- terrific because it means that BHP has obviously created something for which there was much demand and disappointing because many gamers, myself included, won't get their hands on copies of this game anytime soon.

John has said there will be a second run of boxed sets "later in 2010," though no specific date has been given. He has also indicated that a single-volume version of the White Box rules will be released "as soon as possible." The latter is good news for those who don't already own copies of White Box, but, speaking only for myself, it was the boxed, small booklet format that really appealed to me and made me consider buying a copy not only for myself but for my friends as well. Without the box, the appeal of the new release is minimal.

I certainly look forward to seeing what BHP produces to support the White Box rules. I do hope, though, that the company finds some way to keep a boxed version of the game in regular print rather than its being an occasional grab-it-before-it's-gone product. I think a boxed set of simple fantasy roleplaying rules could do extremely well, particularly if they were readily available through game stores. That White Box won't be such a game, at least not in the near future, is a disappointment, although it does leave an opening for Jim Raggi's own offering, which he plans to release as a boxed set, though I have no idea if his game will be put into distribution or not.

Still, congratulations to Brave Halfling for producing an instant winner. I guess I'll just wait until the next print run before I snag my copies.


  1. Thanks you, James.

    Folks need to remember that BHP is a hobby publisher that consists of myself and a handful of volunteers scattered all across the world. Publishing isn't my day job either.

    Boxed sets are easily ten times as much work for a publisher than just finishing one manuscript and then sending it to the printers (or even POD).

    The point of getting a WB Boxed Set out right now is not to sell as many as possible as fast as possible, but to make sure that each WB Boxed Set is great to game with and a cherished item to own.

    While we will have two single-volume versions of WB out for the OSR crowd asap, a third format version of WB - especially designed to go into game stores through distribution - will be out by late spring.

    And don't worry, I will be offering another run of WB Boxes in April and in November of this year.

  2. Dammit! I was seriously considering getting two: one for me, and one for my son. Oh well -- it will have to wait until April, I suppose. I do have a question (really for John, I suppose) -- what will the outside of the box look like? Does it use the White Box cover by Pete Mullen?

  3. Viktor, the BHP site says that the cover won't be revealed until Feb. 1. They wanted it to be a surprise so they offered it at a discounted pre-order price.

    Thanks to John and co. for providing this great game in a much anticipated format! :D

  4. I was going to pick a set up on payday on the 15th, but it looks like that won't happen. It seems odd that it sold out before it was even officially released. I would have preferred that anyone that pre-ordered before the deadline would have received a copy. I mean if it sold out that fast, it is a miscalculation on the publishing end as to what demand was for the product since it was only in pre-order status not full release.

  5. I missed out, as well. If it would have been available this coming Friday, I'd have ordered a copy. Guess I'll get a later copy.

  6. Well, the fact is that anyone who pre-ordered a copy is going to get a copy. Once there were none left, you couldn't pre-order (let alone order) anymore.

    Miscalculation? John does this in his spare time, and I don't begrudge him for possibly being conservative on the production end. Considering he's assembling the boxed set himself, and that the markup probably isn't that great, it hurts more to have a lot of unsold stock than it does to sell out.

  7. @Jay -- thanks; I missed that. Looks to me like waiting for a reprint has hidden benefits, although I'm not sure that the extra five bucks is worth knowing what the box art looks like... 8)

  8. @Patrick: pre-ordering often works this way: (a) get quote from all suppliers for a particular number of units so you know what you're going to have to pay, (b) solicit pre-orders to help defray that cost, (c) reach ceiling for numbers calculated in first step and decide to proceed.

    Sure, John could go back and get quotes on orders for more, but I have sympathy for the task of hand-assembling parts. That's no easy task.

    My understanding is that pre-ordering for a publisher doesn't usually mean "let me see how many I can sell", it means, "I know I need precisely this much money to start with publication of this many units, so when I get a confirmed number of pre-orders, I will close down offering and start production".

  9. Good to know that the white box sets may get reprinted later this year. I'm no expert, but I think there would be a strong market for those through the FLGS as well (i'm seeing a lot of nostalgic 40-somethings with their kids in tow at my FLGS).

    I'm looking forward to receiving my set, but I can't help but feel a little guilty about my good fortune. Sorry about your back luck, JM.

  10. I'm a little overwhelmed by this as well. I mean, I had fun writing the thing but had no idea that it would sell so quickly.

  11. I guess in my opinion it would have been better to say something like: Hey guys, I'm doing a limited first run of 100 copies (or however many) to kick things off. Once those are sold then I'll post the free pdf and later in the year will be another print run that will be a wider release for everyone else. That wouldn't leave anyone with the impression that come February 1st you could order it at the regular price instead of the early adopter price. That is certainly how I read:

    Hey guys, I'm ready to start taking orders for the Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox Boxed Set. This is not the fancy official announcement - that will happen on the 20th of January. This is my way of offering my buddies in the OSR a chance to get their WB Boxed Sets first at a discounted price. The official release/shipping date is February 1, but I will ship all pre-orders as soon as the dice and boxes arrive.

  12. @Patrick: Yep, I agree that the messaging around this could have been better, but I can also understand that John might not have had much of any idea on how much interest there was in the physical product.

  13. Great news! Apparently there was a little delay in my box maker fulling my order for the actual boxes for the WhiteBox Boxed Sets and I have been able to add 75 more boxes to the first print run! All of boxes are being created this week. Everything else for the boxed sets have arrived or already been created and are on hand just waiting for the boxes for assembling and shipping. So in every way, these additional 75 WB Boxed Sets will indeed be part of the first print run and completely identical to all the others that have already been pre-ordered.

    Since there were many people who did not get to pre-order the WB Boxed Sets during the 10 days they were available, I am going to immediately offer 50 more Boxed Sets at the same pre-order price of $25.95 each. With any luck, they should also ship with all the previous pre-orders on or before February 1.

    In addition (and in order to keep the promise I made on December 30, 2009) I will hold in reserve 25 WB Boxed Sets to be made available on January 20, 2010 – the actual release date for the WhiteBox Boxed Sets. However, when the last 25 boxed sets sell out, no more will be available until November 1, 2010.

    I hope this makes many gamers happy. It was never my intention to leave folks out of the first run of the boxed sets or disappoint anyone. They just sold better and faster than this hobby published thought they would and I was caught unprepared. With so many people emailing me wanting to be put on a waiting list for the next print run, I knew that I had to do something right now :)

    I do hope that everyone has as much fun gaming with their WB Boxed Set as I have had in putting them together.