We were not been able to ship Total War by Christmas as we had hoped. Both Gar and I sincerely apologize for that. We know that many of you were especially keen to get into the game. We tried… but illness, family problems, and financial issues made it impossible to get the last of the components for the game printed in time. And, then there was a massive postage increase in January. We did not want to make any new projection for a release date until we had worked out a plan for how to deal with these problems.
The main reason for the delay has been my fault. I simply was not able to complete my portion of the remaining work. Starting in June of last year I began to feel chronic pain, progressively lost most of the feeling in my feet and hands, and my vision declined dramatically. By September I felt so debilitated that I was spending most of each day in bed. I was then diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and put on medication. The meds, a new diet, and walking about 10 miles a day over the last several months have changed everything! My vision has stabilized, I can use my hands again, and my blood chemistry has improved to where I am now considered to be only borderline diabetic.
Gar worked hard to take up the slack while I was ill, but a member of his family has Parkinson’s and that means there are days where he has had little time to devote to the game.
And… there have been some financial problems. First, the sale of stuff through our e-bay store (which I run) collapsed when I got so sick. Second, the cost to print the remaining game components went up significantly and that required a search for a new printer again. (We had printed two batches of charts through our printer, but when we took in the third batch we found out they had just merged with another chain and the discounted price we had been getting no longer applied.)
As the Christmas date became unviable we also knew that we were facing a massive increase in shipping costs going into 2016. UPS and FEDEX both increased their rates; but the bigger issue was the US Post Office increases/changes to Priority Mail (PM). Not only did the domestic PM rates go up over 9% (and the overseas PM by 20-25%), but the discount for commercial shipments was dramatically decreased, and the USPS on-line click-n-ship system now gives only retail (not commercial) rates. The combination means the cost to ship the game have gone up significantly.
So what is the new plan?
First, the e-bay store reopens. We still have over 3,000 books and nearly 1,000 war games (many un-punched), plus a lot of miniatures, comic books, graphic novels, etc to sell. Based on past sales, this should bring in enough over about 4-6 months to finish the game. The store should be back up with a lot of new items by the end of this week. Thereafter, more items almost every day.
Note: All the war games will be listed on the HMS website first, with each batch listed there for about 10 days before the unsold ones go to ebay. We’ll post more about how this will work later this week.
Second, we will be doing a mailing to all current subscribers to The Europa Magazine (TEM) and all individuals who have a copy of Total War on pre-order. This will both let everyone know what is going on and will help us to update our database in preparation for steps three and four.
Third, issue #88 of TEM goes out. This will be a trial run for the new printer (before they print the last components for Total War) and will further validate the mailing addresses. This issue will include a block of 40 die-cut counters and two 8.5 x 11-inch full-color maps. Note: The maps and counters for this are already printed and in the warehouse.
Fourth, we finish the printing of the game and then ship it.
A hard look at the facts shows us that our company’s ‘staff’…. both of us (since Jason Long graduated)… have not been enough to get everything that comes our way done in a timely manner. We are working to change that. To that end, we will begin shortly to talk with individuals and groups who may have something they can offer or suggest. For those interested in these possibilities, call us at 303-377-6255.
We have not posted an update to Total War in some time and we sincerely apologize for the delay. For several months we had not been able to assemble a quorum of the shareholders/investors needed to approve release of any Total War announcements/related material. This week, however, has brought an extended redefinition of the relationship and roles of our investors, including a more expedited/relaxed process for issuing updates and game samples.
What is the status of Total War: The investor issues that had been delaying completion of the game are now resolved. We are finishing printing of last of the paper components and are accumulating the money needed to ship the game via sales through our eBay store. The counters/maps/boxes for the game have been printed for some time. We expect to be shipping the game no later than Christmas of this year.
Why doesn’t HMS release a PDF of the rules/OBs/charts for Total War right now instead of just samples? Because this has been prohibited by our investors — and they control the HMS board regarding all Total War issues until they are repaid in full. Some of our investors are concerned that early release of all of this material would negatively impact sales of the game from which they expect to be repaid. We have convinced them to allow posting of samples to continue, but no more than that.
As announced earlier this year, we purchased a large estate at low cost and have been selling the items from this via our eBay store:
These sales have allowed us to bring payments to our investors up to date and have helped to accumulate the funds needed to finish printing/ship Total War. We have held out hundreds of quality historical books and military wargames from that estate for sale in October of this year. Europa members (everyone who has an active subscription to The Europa Magazine or who has a Total War pre-publication order) will be given access to these items at a reduced price via an eBay store promotion code. Overseas customers will further benefit in that we have access to much lower Priority Mail International parcel prices through eBay than we have elsewhere. We will announce in advance the items going on sale on eBay through the HMS website and the EuropaAssociation yahoo group.
The Unit Identification Chart (UIC) has been one of the most requested components from Total War to be shown as a sample. Most of the changes to the Europa counters were displayed on the front side of the UIC that was put up as a sample earlier this year. The backside of the UIC, showing the large number of unit types in the initial invasion of Russia in 1941, is appended below.
Where to begin… It has been a very busy two months. Late in October, Brian Johnson, a special friend, a great gamer, and a committed supporter of HMS, died. Attending his funeral, meeting his coworkers and his brothers and sister, we were determined to help in some way. The family, who live out of state, were only able to spend only a few days to arrange for his estate. Brian had a small 2nd-story apartment with difficult access. This meant no on-site estate sale was possible. And the weather/apartment complex would not allow an outside one. Of the estate sale places in Denver who would move the estate to an auction house, only one returned a bid: $0 after paying for moving/disposal/apartment cleanup costs.
We felt the bid was an insult to Brian’s collection and to his family. He was a passionate collector as many of us are. One look at the thousands of his books and the many hundreds of well-cared-for games and DVDs, convinced us that his collections were of very special value, especially to gamers and those who shared Brian’s passions.
We proposed a better deal that we felt would help the family (and ultimately HMS at well). But this would take a real effort on our part while we waited for the printers to give us a firm slot. We also knew we would be without space to receive the printed components if they were to appear. The printer assured us that the earliest they could start on the remaining Total War components would be late February.
Clearing Brian’s apartment was an enormous amount of work. He had about 1000 wargames, 5000 books, 500 video games, 1500 DVDs/VHS tapes, several hundred family games, furniture, gaming tables, plexiglass, clothes, etc. in enormous stacks reaching to the ceiling everywhere so that even walking about the small apartment was very difficult. Everything had to be cleared immediately and this took eight 16-24 hour days in a row. The end result was that Gar’s garage, basement, and most of his front living/dining room were completely filled.
As part of the deal, we arranged for the sale of a number of the estate items for the family. This required time with various local bookstores and DVD stores, as well as contacts with various Denver gaming groups. We also advertised on Craig’s List and held a local sale in Gar’s apartment complex clubhouse. Finally, we put a number of items out on eBay for the family. Overall, we raised about $3500 for the family, with more to come once the last items sell on eBay. We also did the work to donate all of Brian’s clothes to Goodwill so the family easily could claim another $3500+ in tax write-offs.
After all the work for the family, HMS gained title to the rest of the estate. This means we have nearly 1000 wargames (with many, most unpunched), about 3000 books (including several hundred military history hardbacks and a lot of science fiction/fantasy), all the video games, and many, many other items. We will be selling these items both on eBay and through the HMS website.
The wargames and most of the books will be listed first on the website for direct sale, at a discount to Europa Association members (and if you have a pre-pub for Total War, you are automatically a Europa Association member until issues #88 and #89 of The Europa Magazine go into the mail); only if they do not sell here after about two months will they move to eBay.
We plan to have the wargames list (at least the list of unpunched games) on the website at least a week before we ship Total War. This will allow people who are interested to combine orders from the list with shipment of their Total War and thus save some on shipping costs. The books will probably not be listed until after Total War ships – but they will ship by Media Mail (Book Rate), so it would be a second order anyway. The punched games will be listed only after we have inventoried and sorted the components sometime later this year.
We have also begun selling a number of the estate items on eBay for HMS. This is quickly amassing the money we need to fully fund the shipping of Total War (we already had the money to finish the printing), and bodes well for accumulation of funds for some future HMS projects as well. For those who are interested, our eBay store is at:
Note: The dozen or so wargames listed there are the remaining ones we are selling for the family.
We just finished several days of inventorying, reboxing, and rearranging the remaining items at Gar’s house so that everything fit into the basement – thus leaving the regular storage facility and garage open to receive the final Total War material and to allow room for assembly.
We are now working again with the printer. We do not have a fixed print date yet for the remaining Total War items, but they expect to be able to begin returning our material at the end of February. We will now resume the game component samples – with another one below: The Ground Chart.