I can shed some light on the history. Basically, we at first wanted to keep the game as is, with some changes to the map and cards.
It turned out we had a larger than expected set of pre-orders so we decided we could do something extra. We came up with the idea to make wooden pieces for the goods, and cardboard ships. We felt this would fit the board better and work easier with player colours. As we needed to make a lot of wooden pieces, it was an investment, but one we felt we could afford given the pre-orders.
Unfortunately, the production of this game was plagued by difficulties; we were also extremely busy both in our normal jobs, due to the fact I had a prettty serious car accident, and because of the success of FCM; the latter of course is something to celebrate but it did take a lot of time and cause a lot of stress, with us and all of our suppliers.
We requested small wooden pieces from our supplier, and supplied a design. As always, they modified the design somewhat (you cannot do everything you want with wooden meeples) and returned the drawings. We OK'd and signed the drawings. However, somehow these drawings had different sizes on them than we had intended. We did not see this at the time, which would perhaps not have happened if we hadn't been so stressed out / spaced out on morphine pills.
Then, the meeple suppliers got into trouble (I documented this elsewhere). We had a lot of trouble with all of our wooden meeples, which were consistently late, sorted incorrectly, broken, etc. We called the meeple producer weekly, then daily, then multiple times a day. In the end, we got to see the first meeples on a picture the evening before going to Essen, and we first held and touched the meeples on the morning of the Essen fair. All meeples had been pressed (cut) at that time, but not painted and sorted (this took another couple of months as you are all aware).
Normally we would have a bit more time, but now there was no time at all. We played the game at Essen, and although we really disliked the situation, we felt the game was playable if you switched the cardboard and wooden pieces, even though this solution is not ideal.
Although the supplier did a lot of things wrong (including changing the size during the design process), we signed off on the size of the meeples, so the size was our responsability. In any case, we had so many difficulties that we were happy to be able to get any meeples from him at all (we will change producers for our next game-- even though we had worked a lot with this company in the past).
We have tried to be open and upfront with all of our customers about what happened. Unfortunately, it is not quite possible to make a new set of meeples for everyone and send it. We have received a number of emails with ideas on what we could provide, and Jeroen and I are looking into this.
For me, personally, the main take-away is that our current operations are not able to handle a number of reprints of the current game plus two reprints of previous games in the same year. Worse, we have had almost no time to work on a new design in the past year; and frankly, designing games is what makes Splotter fun. We hired two employees to help us out and worked a lot on our supply chain; but to be fair, all of this is work rather than a fun hobby which is what Splotter used to be. I already own and run another pretty sizeable company and I'm not quite sure I want to run two at the same time. This month is the first time in a year and a half that we are not stressing to fulfill order deadlines and it kind of feels very relaxing (this is why the Antiquity pre-order is not yet up).
I realise this does not help all of you who wanted a perfect game and got something less than that. So we will have a look at what is possible, within limits of time and budget. We will try to be much more thorough with Antiquity and not try to do too many things at the same time (hence, no more FCM or other reprints for the time being). And, I hope, we will be able to focus most of our effort on our new game, which for me is by far the most enjoyable activity.
Hope this helps put things in context,