Thousands of Kickstarter backers left out of pocket as Super Dungeon Explore publisher Ninja Division files for bankruptcy

Ninja Division, the troubled miniatures game publisher which raised more than $3m via Kickstarter for a string of tabletop projects, has filed for bankruptcy.

The company’s voluntary bankruptcy petition said it had liabilities in the range of $1m to $10m, with assets of between $0 and $100,000 – and up to 49 creditors, although that figure does not include the thousands of Kickstarter backers who never received their games from the company.

Ninja Division made a name for itself as a successful tabletop games Kickstarter business in 2014, when it raised $1.2m from more than 6,500 backers to fund Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King, an extension of its Super Dungeon Explore line of miniatures-focused dungeon crawlers launched in 2011.

The company successfully got that game out to its backers, and buoyed by its huge success returned to crowdfunding in late 2015, raising almost $1.3m from over 6,600 backers for Super Dungeon Explore: Legends – billed as containing two campaigns and the tools for players to build their own adventures.

That was slated for delivery to backers in December 2016. More than seven years later, backers have never received their games – and are now pushing for the company to at least release PDFs and 3D-printable STL files so they can create their own version of the game at home.

Almost 2,500 backers of Ninja Division’s Relic Knights 2nd Edition game are also out of pocket, with that game also failing to be delivered – seven years after it raised more than $380,000 on Kickstarter.

Ninja Division’s problems began in 2016 during development of Super Dungeon Explore: Legends, according to a response from the company to a complaint filed by a backer to the Attorney General of Washington State in 2018.

It said “lukewarm” feedback to in-development rules it posted as Kickstarter updates had led to it deciding to scrap the entire ruleset and begin again from scratch – a decision it claimed was well-received from backers.

Ninja Division said in the response that it did not fully realise the “complete ramifications and ripple effects of this decision”, which included increased development time and costs for development, manufacturing and shipping.

Matters were also complicated by lead designer Dietrich Stella developing heart problems in 2017, which led to six months of limited work ability while he received treatment.

Ninja Division’s finances dwindled, and by 2017 it had exhausted the Kickstarter funds for the game, estimating that it still needed $750,000 to complete and ship the game.

An ICV2 report from March 2018 quoted Ninja Division co-owner and creative director John Cadice as saying the company would no longer fund large projects on Kickstarter, citing “toxicity” from users on the platform. That report made no mention of the delays to Super Dungeon Explore: Legends.

Ninja Division revealed in a Kickstarter update in February 2019 that it had let the majority of its staff go at the end of the previous year.

Four months later, its Starfinder Masterclass Miniatures Kickstarter, which raised more than $450,000 from 2,200 backers was taken over by Paizo.

The last Kickstarter update from Archon about that project, in June 2022, said 71 of the more than 100 miniatures were still to be produced.


  1. Another in the miles long list of companies and corporations buggaring it all up, running off with the money, and blaming “toxicity” from their customers.

    Bad businesses deserve toxicity.

  2. They were selling resin to cover the cost of the KS delivery… They were not giving sign of life on their website since august 2023.

    Another KS that ended up like that was Jurassic World

  3. I backed the relic knight so this makes me sad. I always try to hold out hope in things but shiz happens. I will say that I do have about half of my relic knight pledge though I had to buy stuff off their web site to get it but that didn’t bother me cause that was stuff i was gonna get anyway.

  4. I am gettingntired of developers taking peoples money, running and thry refering to the completly justified backlash as “toxic”.

    Ok, you you screwed up your finances and cant ship, it happens, making the jump from 2 bit gane maker to a multi million developer is hard.

    Bit you know what do? Give those people who backed you PDFs of what you have. Let them have the STLs to print minis, heck let everyone have access and let printers provide minis to folks who dont have printers.

    People understand and can roll with failire to meet expectations, but when they feel like you are screwing them, thats when knifes come out.

  5. That’s not strictly true, the owner paid himself $300,000 in licence fees from the kickstarter funds and went on a round the world vacation.

    “Here’s some models, rules to follow” feels a lot less like fraud than “we tried really hard to make the rules and there’s no money for models, or rules”

  6. Forgetting the other project Ninja Division mishandled and buggered off from, Robotech RPG Tactics. They left Palladium Books holding the bag, but ND were supposed to be running the show originally.

  7. This was a scam by far and I’m sick and tired of criminals, racists, fraudsters hiding being the word “toxic”, they were one step away from calling us far right!!

  8. I own a good deal of their board game and characters, they had a good thing that just needed a few more tweaks.
    I’m really disappointed they couldn’t get their crap together.

  9. Sounds like the staff did a bunch of blow with hookers while laughing at manga for a few years.

  10. Just be vigilant and apply a simple rule in the future: if the name John Cadice is associated in any way with a project, it’s a complete scam. This was the first time in my personal experience I witnessed the crowdfunding equivalent of a Ponzi scheme…someone (John?) should be in jail. Or is suggesting ethical behavior “toxic?”

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