High-end gaming tables, once a luxury that few could afford, are suddenly coming down in price. One of 2020’s most successful Kickstarter projects is for Wyrmwood Gaming’s Modular Gaming Table. It’s the second most-funded tabletop gaming project of the year, and on track to become the fifth most-funded overall — and it’s close to overtaking highly successful Kickstarter projects like the Ouya game console and Exploding Kittens.
Behind the scenes, the project has also helped the company recover from layoffs brought on by the ongoing global pandemic.
In late March, with a lockdown looming in the state of Massachusetts, co-founder Ed Maranville and CEO Douglas Costello made the difficult decision to lay off almost all of its employees. “We didn’t wait for the governor to tell us to close down,” Costello told Polygon in an interview on Wednesday. “We talked about it [and decided that] we are going to do everything we can do to get all of our people back. That was always the stated goal.”
The woodworking company — which specializes in dice vaults, dice towers, and high-end gaming tables — recently succeeded in bringing back virtually all of its 70 employees. It has also signed a deal to merge with another woodworking company in Pennsylvania, and is in the process of hiring on even more skilled workers at both of its facilities. And it’s all thanks to a massive new crowdfunding campaign, and thousands of orders for its new, more affordable line of tables.
Gaming tables rose to popularity in the last 15 years, thanks in part to the pioneering company known as Geek Chic. A core feature was a removable top, with a playing surface sunk down below, so that owners could cover an ongoing game for a meal and then go back to playing. But in 2017, that company went out of business. Soon after, the team at Wyrmwood stepped into the breach, with its over-the-top luxurious line of Prophecy gaming tables. Costello says that the custom, handmade, heirloom pieces go for an average of $10,000.
Following the success of that product (which also offered pre-orders through Kickstarter), Wyrmwood went back to the drawing board. Its new modular gaming tables feature the same high-quality materials, but are much faster and cheaper to manufacture. They also feature multiple add-on modules — including a game master’s station and a cordless phone charger. They range in price from $300 (for the Lilliput coffee table) to well over $10,000, fully tricked out. They’re also upgradeable, meaning that years from now consumers will be able to make their beloved gaming tables taller and longer to suit their needs.
The campaign has raised more than $8.3 million. Kickstarter confirms to Polygon that makes it the second most highly-funded tabletop gaming campaign this year, second only to Frosthaven — the sequel to the wildly popular role-playing game, Gloomhaven. The campaign ends at 10:59 p.m. CDT on Oct. 9.
Just how well are they selling? To put things in perspective, Maranville said that Wyrmwood has delivered around 200 Prophecy gaming tables since they were introduced several years ago. So far, they’ve received more than 7,700 pre-orders for the new modular gaming tables. Delivery currently extends well into 2022. To accommodate — and to hopefully speed production — they’ve begun growing their manufacturing capacity and hiring on more craftspeople.
Costello says that the secret to his company’s success over the past few years — and in the last seven months — has been its focus on manufacturing.
“My background is actually in furniture,” Costello said. “I did a traditional apprenticeship in furniture making. I think, where [the founder of] Geek Chic went wrong is [...] he was not a woodworker. He was not a manufacturer. He was an MBA guy. He was a business guy. He identified a niche, he identified a need, and then he had other people sort of make the product and did it that way. But he was never a manufacturer. I am, first and foremost, a furniture maker. And so, because I come from a manufacturing background, I think that informs almost all of our decisions and keeps us out of trouble.”
In addition to the successful Kickstarter, Wyrmwood’s leadership also attributes its continued stability to its dedicated fans — many of whom continued to place orders during the layoffs for a special line of products that were produced by employees working from home.
Costello also said his organization benefited from the federal government’s CARES Act. Specifically, the Paycheck Protection Program, which pumped roughly $400,000 into the company to help it continue paying its employees. He called it a “shot in the arm” for Wyrmwood, while it was an actual lifeline for Keystone — the company which Wyrmwood is merging with, in part, to complete the production of these new gaming tables.
Shipping will also be handled by a related Keystone company, called Keystone Transport, which has recently been responsible for the white-glove treatment of Wyrmwood’s Prophecy tables.
“Delivering furniture is harder than making furniture,” Costello said. “[Keystone Transport] is a trucking distribution company, but it has a furniture focus. By partnering with Wyrmwood, we’re going to be able to roll that out nationwide.”