Giving up on Sentinel Tactics

Warning: The following paragraphs are a rant over the state of the Sentinel Tactics game. If you don’t like negativity, then I would suggest that you not read any further.

I’ve spent the last few years checking the forums, looking for updates on the state of Sentinel Tactics.  Most of those searches ended with no new information being available and the few times that updates were shared, the news was universally disappointing. 

To be clear, I expect delays of 3-6 months when dealing with board game releases. I’m not at all surprised by delays of 12-18 months. I consider those situations to be within normal practices for the board gaming industry. But we are no longer within anything approaching an understandable grace period when it comes to the Sentinel Tactics expansion(s). We are nearly 3.5 years past the initial announcement and there isn’t even the barest indication the game is close to being finished with playtesting/development, much less ready to go to the printer. For frame of reference, the construction on the Empire State Building (the one-time tallest building in the world) took only around 13 months to complete, and in nearly triple that timeframe GtG has been unable to decide exactly which numbers they want to (maybe) someday print onto pieces of cardboard.

To make matters worse, these extreme delays have made it unlikely that I’ll even be able to get much use out of the game if and when it ships. Multiplayer games (both video and board) are by their very nature driven by the community around them. If you don’t have enough friends interested in playing, then you’re not going to be playing the game, regardless of its quality. Try to imagine how well the SotM card game would have been received if there was a 4-5 year gap between the launch of the base game and rook city. People would have blown through all the content in the base game, moved on to other activities, and would be far less likely to return to “that old game”. Oh, I’m sure some people would still return for the new content, but you have to admit the number of players and the general
enthusiasm would be greatly diminished. Games like these are harmed by long gaps between new content, and that harm is compounded when the developer  announces (in so many words) that the game is broken and they are having to go back to the drawing board.

Unfortunately, this lack of progress isn’t limited to the ill-fated expansions. The original Kickstarter campaign promises have yet to be fulfilled because we still do not have the written scenarios to go with the poster maps. The explanation we’ve received is that the game mechanics are being rebuilt via the future expansions and that these promised scenarios are being held back to incorporate the fruit of these labors. Assuming all of that to be truthful, there are two  possible situations as I see it:
1) The work on these scenarios was complete or very nearly complete in late 2015, in which case the KS backers could (should!) be provided with the promised download of these scenarios (even in a rough draft version) at minimal cost, with the option for GtG to replace them with improved versions in the future. Having even unpolished or temporary scenarios would be of value to the backers, because the maps themselves are virtually useless without them. None of
the maps have any differences in elevation, leading to severe balance issues among characters with and without mobility if you were to use the maps for skirmishes (on top of the fact that they are too asymmetrical for that purpose). Without any scenarios and being impractical for skirmishes, these map posters amount to small and expensive tablecloths.
2) The work on these scenarios was not very far along prior to their being abandoned. This would mean that the maps themselves were developed, printed and released to backers with little thought put into the scenarios they would be used for, which calls into serious question the quality we could expect from such scenarios should they ever be completed. It also undermines the notion that GtG was making a good faith effort to honor the goals of the original KS as these
scenarios were expected long before the issues that led to scrapping Battle for Broken City came up.

No matter which situation is true, the fact is that of all the projects I've Kickstarted, I can count only Oblivaeon and Flame of Freedom among those who are well past due and still haven't been totally fulfilled.  Considering that the hold-up on Sentinel Tactics amounts to the lack of a text file on the internet, I find this particularly damning.  There's no excuse for not having resolved this.

And finally, the way all of this mess has been handled just feels…dishonest. As we were nearing the original promised date for Battle for Broken City, GtG was heavily invested in cultivating a competitive tournament scene for Sentinel Tactics. By their own admission, this was a business move that proved costly when it failed to yield positive results. The impression I got from their statements was that the company was in at least some measure of financial trouble as they struggled with how they could fix a broken game they had invested so much into. Over a year went by before they announced that they were cancelling the original expansion in lieu of the new Prime War project. One which (surprise, surprise) they had already spent enough time on to develop not only a concept but also art assets and enough material to make it presentable for new pre-orders. This means that they spent a non-trivial amount of time holding on to pre-order money with absolutely no intention of proceeding with the original project. It gives the impression that they were hiding the information on the game’s status to avoid having to pay out refunds after a financial setback and were scrambling to put a new product together to keep people on board. But hey, at least they were kind enough to automatically re-invest all that pre-order money into Prime War unless you specifically contacted them to do otherwise.

Since that initial 180 degree turning point, there have been zero additional details revealed about Prime War.
-No additional details on the characters (or even a list on who is included).
-No discussion of the considered system changes that are causing all of these delays.
-Not even any previews of art or components, which should (theoretically) be less impacted by the changes in the playtesting process.
The only feedback that has been received is the tired mantra of “We ARE working on it” and “We can’t share anything at this time”. After this long a period of time, I don’t think it’s remotely unreasonable to expect to see some evidence, however small, that progress has been made. Almost every kickstarter game I’ve backed has included semi-regular updates showing off preliminary art, components or rules as the development has progressed. The only reason to assume that GtG is incapable of doing this for Prime War is that they have no progress to show or that they are embarassed about the progress that has been made. Given the specific history of the Sentinel Tactics development effort, I’m afraid that there is very little reason to continue giving GtG the benefit of the doubt regarding where the game lies in the hierarchy of the company’s priorities. 

The really tragic part of this whole affair is that it has managed to turn me into a non-fan. I used to list Sentinel Tactics among my top 5 favorite board games before all of this happened. Checking on the forums for status gradually became less about excitement for the game and more about frustration over the money I’d invested. Eventually I reached the point I’m at today, where I don’t even want the game anymore. Even if GtG announced that Prime War was shipping tomorrow, I would still have a hard time seeing myself taking time away from other board games to play Sentinel Tactics. I’ve even grown apathetic about playing the Oblivaeon KS that will supposedly be shipping “soon”.

For all of these reasons, I am requesting that my pre-order be refunded. GtG, please let me know whom at your offices I can contact to get this process started. I will also be sending a complaint through Kickstarter over the map scenarios that remain unfulfilled from the original campaign and the fact that GtG doesn’t have even the vaguest timeline for when such a fulfillment may occur (more than 3 years after the estimated kickstarter delivery date). I would encourage anyone else who feels similarly to do the same.

I wish the best to those of you who still love the game and want to hang on to it, but for my part I’ve reached the point that further involvement is just not fun anymore.

I can't say anything more than I put in my open letter I posted in February other than to say I can commiserate with your frustration.

Sorry to hear, but definitely understand. I'm not a GTG person, but I believe Paul ( has been taking these requests. You'll want to get in touch with him. 

Yeah, I am a big fan of the lore and the games that >G creates. I cannot understand why information has been so riduculously sparse on this project. There kickstarters I guess force them to post updates to their backers. This being one of their first pre-orders in order to bypass KS taking a cut seems to have resulted in complete silence along with no real place for discussion outside posts in this forum. Also, by not being a KS, we have no idea how well funded this project is. I am starting to feel like the entire thing is going to become a Duke Nukem Forever scenario...

Wrath of the Cosmos was the first non KS for them to run directly through preorders.   This was the second one.    As to updates I think it’s just a matter of nothing much to say.   Granted I think more updates are deserved for the project and easily the worst communication for any project despite obvious pleas for such at various times.  

In the latest Editor’s Note, Christopher and Adam teased a bit about “prime aspects,” something to do with Prime War that they will be telling us about “soon.” So I guess we’ll be finding out something…

I have neural issues concentrating for podcasts and videos, so generally miss out on that info. Maybe there’ll be something in the State of GTG this month.

We're planning to have a detailed update about the status of Prime War before Gen Con.


I understand your frustrations.  In 3 years, i had to research information since GTG believes that if they don't mention it, it is better then they are not bringing people to mind, I went from playing the card game monthly and trying to get friends into this to just waiting until Oblivean delivers to sell a whole collection and tactic to finally deliver and then sell it off as a full collection.  The long delay and little word, and the multiple project pushed in front of this has turned me off the company.  I no longer recommend this company products.  It appears they put more work in creating a fake time line for fake comics for thier podcast than in this project.  I bet the major update is telling us 2019 we might see some sort of product but it will not be what we ordered or even what our orders haven been changed to.  That is one part that stings, GTG did not even have the guts to email those that have pre-ordered and tell them about it, they made the customer research what was happening, Another believer of if we don't mention or bring it to people attention, the less we have to deal with angry customers.  I see a lot of kickstarters use this tactic, rarely does it make for a good customer service.

FWIW GTG did notify us by mail regarding the status of Broken City and For Profit as well as the change to Prime War. I double-checked and still have the emails. They've given little other information since August 2016 other than as a carried-over line item in the work-in-progress in State of GTG posts but they did not just leave us to research for ourselves.

I remember the information being stuck in a general newsletter that they send to anyone who signed up for it, not an email to jus the pre-order customers but i could be wrong.

You are correct in that it was part of the newsletter ( No, I don't think any separate email to those who actually pre-ordered and paid was ever sent.

If you want to get technical, most of us learned about the cancellation and switch to Prime War via the forum. The announcement was made at GenCon before any of the people who pre-ordered were notified. It was an interesting time where 1 or 2 forumites at GenCon got bombarded with questions because it had been a year of silence and then a forum post trying to sum up what they answered at a Q&A at GenCon.

The formal announcement was server days later via a newsletter email.

This is why I describe the pre-order and refund-on-request offer as a long term loan amortized over the lifetime of their customers’ frustration. I’m willing to wait and see what GTG announces pre-GenCon, but I’m a retiree who can afford to leave my money in the pot to have a seat at the table.

yes this pissed me off to no end and hopefully they learned for future gen cons including the one coming up, that if they are about to make an announcement like this  they better have a press release or something ready for the forums because people are going to lose it and want official word on it. It took 2-3 days after someone posted the gen con thing about prime war to get news of what is going on which I was just freaking out for details.

As someone in Finance, this made me giggle a little too much.

I wish I could do the same.

well today is the last state of gtg before gen con. Wonder if today will be the day?

Some mention in today’s Letters Page episode at the beginning