Monday, March 2, 2015

Promoting TableTop Day

Guess what just showed up in my email inbox this week?  If you guessed solicitations for the promo packs for International Table Top Day over a month ahead of the event date, you would be right. In case you missed the blurb in ICV2 last week, this year’s International Table Top Day is scheduled for April 11 and we already know the contents of the kits way in advance.

As has happened with the previous two kits, there are problems with this one but not of Geek & Sundry, TableTop or PSI’s (the company coordinating the assembly of the kits) making. Instead, we apparently get to blame the manufacturers of the games getting promoted. Manufacturers we are looking at two major problems here:

11)       Your game was not on TableTop in season 1, 2 or 3 but I am getting promo items or a copy of you game in the kit, which by the way I do not receive for free. I get to shell out perfectly  good  Jacksons and Washingtons to pay for this kit and I get promo items for such things as Reverse Charades,  Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot, Roll for It,  Cash n Guns, Dead Man’s Draw, and Where Art Thou Romeo. If I purchase the smaller of the two promotional packs offered, with an MSRP of $250, depending on which distributor I place an order with, I will pay approximately $1.60 to $1.75 per promo item. If I order the more expensive kit, at $600 MSRP, the cost per promo item breaks down to $3.15 to $4 per item.  Granted, stores do get full copies of some games, such as Dead of Winter, Council of Verona and Geek Out (in the more expensive kit) which did appear on TableTop and which do help justify the cost, but I am also getting copies of Clubs, Dark Seas and Dead Man’s Draw, which have not appeared on the series. Still, I am not particularly enthused about paying to get promotional items that I do not want and cannot use but  that pales in comparison to 

22)      I don’t get enough of a promo item to give one away to everyone who plays in a demo of the game. I can understand getting one of the Munchkin hoodies and one of the Krosmaster promo figures (no, not on that one I can’t. They have enough promo figures floating around that I could get two or more), but the rest of the promo items are cards. There is no reason that I should get 1 Roll for It Promo Owlbear promo card or 1 Three Cheers for Master promo card. Granted I don’t publish cards but from everything I hear from publishers, they are cheap. Cheap enough that I should get more than one in the box.  Everyone who plays a demo of your game that day should walk away with a promo item, not just one person.  Steve Jackson Games, Looney Labs and Fantasy Flight Games did it right, including enough items so that everyone who plays should get something. A number of the promo items are listed as “1 pack”. Is that one pack to give to one person or a pack to break up and distribute to players? I don’t know and the solicitation doesn’t tell me.

I have already heard from a number of retailers who plan to register as a location for International TableTop Day but who plan to skip the kits altogether, contacting distributors and publishers directly to get promo items to give away. Hopefully, next  year publishers will take a cue from events like Free Comic Book Day or Free RPG Day. If you want me to spend money promoting your product, give me enough support in the kit to justify the effort to promote your product. Otherwise, I will pick the product I want to promote and contact those manufacturers for help.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pi Day

In case you did not know, March 14 is PI Day, 3/14/15. To celebrate, we will give away free Pie during the day, while it lasts as well as playing MENSA Select games such as Magic, Pokemon, Gravwell, Tapple and Great Dalmuti. Come by and join us.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

April from Fantasy Flight Games

Star Wars RPG: Force and Destiny Beginner Game
$29.95 SRP

The Star Wars: Force and Destiny Beginner Game is the perfect entry into the Star Wars: Force and Destiny roleplaying experience for aspiring Jedi of all skill levels. With its complete, learn-as-you-go adventure, players can open the box, ignite their lightsabers, and explore their destinies as Force users in the Star Wars galaxy.

Pre-generated character folios keep the rules right at your fingertips, while custom dice and an exciting narrative gameplay system advance your story with every roll.

Android: Netrunner: Chrome City
$14.95 SRP

If the surgery’s good, the latest cybernetics don’t just make you trendy; they also make you smarter, stronger, and more resilient. But a bad chopper’s just as likely to inflict irreparable brain damage as outfit you for the runways.

Function breeds fashion in Chrome City, the third Data Pack in the SanSan Cycle for Android: Netrunner! Sixty new cards (three copies each of twenty individual cards) introduce players to the northern SanSan borough of Chrome City where a growing community of chromeheads has begun to transform cybernetics into fashion statements.

Tigris & Euphrates
$59.95 SRP

Create a dynasty at the dawn of human civilization in Tigris & Euphrates, Reiner Knizia’s award-winning tile placement game. Two to four players lead neighboring civilizations in ancient Mesopotamia. As they build, they must compete for land while striving to balance commerce, agriculture, housing, and religion. This new edition maintains the game’s original mechanics while giving it an updated look based on the art of ancient Sumer and Babylon.

A double-sided game board and all components needed for the basic game and advanced variations are included.

$34.95 SRP

Enter the dragon’s lair in Drakon!

This new edition of the classic board game of treasure, greed, and dragonfire places two to six players in the roles of rival heroes who have been caught stealing from Drakon’s hoard. The first hero to grab ten gold will be released; the others will be devoured. To collect the gold that will buy your life, you must move your hero through a labyrinth that you create by playing tiles. Ancient magic, hallowed treasures, and devious traps await you. Only your greed can save you in Drakon!

Descent 2nd Edition: Journeys in the Dark: Visions of Dawn
$34.95 SRP

A dread alliance of ogres and trolls threatens all of Terrinoth in the Visions of Dawn Hero and Monster Collection for Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition. You’ll find ten plastic figures from the first edition of Descent reimagined with new figure sculpts and artwork.

Meanwhile, four heroes unite to shatter the truce between ogres and trolls and to keep them from sweeping across the land, sowing
destruction in their wake.

In addition to its detailed figures, Visions of Dawn introduces two brand-new quests that chronicle your battles against some of the realm’s most fearsome monsters.

Monday, February 23, 2015

What We Sell

I had thought to comment on why WOTC’s Organized Play program surpasses, currently, any other company’s OP program or why, for the umpteenth time, an established publisher launched a Kickstarter for their next release. However, those can wait.  

The store stet up at Concave, a relaxacon ( as science fiction convention with little to no programming, designed mainly to allow people in the SF fan community to visit with each other and drink large quantities of alcohol), looking out the window at rain falling on the snow covered Kentucky landscape and musing about what I see as I gaze across the convention space.

People playing games.

People playing Magic, Chaos in the Old World, Cards Against Humanity (multiple groups of this), Wizard, Munchkin, Dungeons and Dragons, Talisman (with most of the expansions, it takes two 6’ tables to set everything up), Netrunner, Pathfinder,  Cthulhu Fluxx, Ogre. There’s a group organizing a Vampire:   The Maquarade LARP (Live Action Role-Playing for those who don’t speak acronym) down the hall for later on tonight.

What I don’t see:  people hunched over, staring at screens, interacting with people through the Interwebs rather than across the table.

What I do see:  people talking with each other, laughing, cursing, waving their arms around as they show the size of the monster they just killed.

What I don’t see:  people sitting around shut out because no-one wants to include them.

What I do see: players inviting others to join them for a game, experienced players offering to teach new players how to play, people enthusiastically pulling the shrink wrap off the copy of Machi Koro they just bought, ready to separate the pieces and dive into the rules.

What I don’t see:  people playing a game because they “have to”.

What I do see:  people of multiple ages, races and sexes, stilling together around a table because they want to.

What I don’t see:  any form of directed or Organized Play taking place, no one recording points or running any tournament software.

What I do see:  People having fun.

That is the wonderful thing about working in the gaming industry. I get to sell things people use to have fun. I get to sell a good time. No one ever plays a game because they “have to”. Playing games is something we do because we “want to”.

People in the game industry, especially the retail end, complain a lot about  out of stocks and industry exclusives and reductions in discount and price increases and out of stocks…wait, I said that one already. We are actually luckier than the manufacturers and distributors because we get to deal with the people who actually buy the games.  Yes, it is a pain in various parts of the anatomy when a customer asks us to pull two-dozen cards out of a binder than changes their mind and only buys 4 of them (and if you do this, know that the person behind the counter is annoyed with you) but we also get to see the kid dig out just enough change for a pack of Pokemon and excitedly open it.

I get to sell fun and, you know, that’s a pretty good job to have.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Coming for Firefly

Coming in March for you Firefly Fans:

Firefly: Fistful of Credits
$59.99 SRP

Do the job.  Get paid.  Aim to misbehave.

Firefly: Fistful of Credits is a two-to-four-player cooperative game where players step into the boots of Serenity’s crew to pull off a series of dangerous heists and hopefully walk away with their lives and a tidy fortune! The game features 3 distinct heist scenarios inspired by the episodes Bushwhacked, The Train Job, and Ariel; each with their own highly-detailed board, tokens, and Heist card, which details unique objectives from the show that must be accomplished in order to win.

Players pair up any two of the nine crew members, forming unique teams that work with other players to collect gear, fight, and face both luck and misfortune while racing against the clock to complete the heist. Be careful: triggering an alarm, lollygagging around or sticking your nose in the wrong crate can open up a whole world of ugly - be it Reavers, Alliance, or the sinister Hands of Blue!

Fail and it’s all over...but succeeding means you and your crew walk away with more than a Fistful of Credits!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

25 Years and 4 Big Trends

Castle Perilous Books and Games opened 25 years ago this month, actually on St. Valentine’s Day. Why we chose to open on February 14, I have no idea all these years later, except maybe since it was St. Valentine’s Day, we wouldn’t see much traffic, giving us a chance to shake out the bugs without bothering customers the first day. We operated out of a 2nd floor suite with no elevator and about 500 square feet of retail space. What can I say, rent was cheap and we were right across the street from SIUC and we did well. Today, the store occupies 6000 square feet 8 blocks from campus with about 10,000 cars passing us per day and our sales flabbergast me compared to what I considered a great day back then. Oh how times have changed and this seems a good time to look back at 4 trends that shape the game industry today (there are certainly more but four is a nice round number):

1)      The shift of RPGs from print to PDF—As have mentioned in previous posts, we started off dealing RPGs and miniatures. While there were many companies dealing in RPGs (see Shannon Applecline’s Designers and Dragons for a overview), TSR and AD&D dominated the field and with no crowdfunding, no desktop publishing and no PDFs, a company had to have a lot of faith in their product to launch one. In most game stores, the RPG section dominated, unless their focus was historics, either miniatures or boardgames. Today, due to the aforementioned crowdfunding, desktop publishing and PDFs, the overwhelming majority of RPGS reside on computers or the Internet, with most stores only stocking Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder with maybe a few local favorites.

2)      The shift of historics from stores to mailorder—When we opened, every game store worth its salt had an Osprey book spinner rack and likely also a selection of historic miniatures, as well as some shelf space devoted to Avalon Hill, Victory Games and SPI wargames. Today, Osprey racks are scarce as hen’s teeth, historic boardgames are limited to Memoir ’44 and Axis and Allies and, should you find historic miniatures in a store, they likely consist of Flames of War, Sails of War and Wings of War. Most historic boardgames and miniatures sell at wargaming conventions or over the Internet.

3)      The rise of the trading card game—Ah yes, Magic the Gathering and all its offspring. When the Alpha set of Magic released, my distributor could not explain the concept to me so we bought 1 deck and 2 boosters, which sat on the shelf until players came back raving about this new game they found at GenCon. The industry adopted the TCG and never looked back, with, I would estimate, 95% of all game stores stocking at least some Magic, if no other TCG.

4)      The (concurrent) rise of the boardgame—As I noted earlier, most game stores, when we started, focused on RPGS. If they carried boardgames, they stocked historic ones. No long, the last years have seen the rise of the Eurogame, led by Mayfair Games and Settlers of Catan (now just Catan). While playing boardgames in the US still does not have the cachet of those produced in Europe, witness the number of boardgames imported from Europe each year, sales and importance of them to most game stores supplanted the RPG in the product mix of most existing stores and fit as a major component of the business plan of most new game stores (that don’t focus on TCGs).
More changes coming. Yeah, I would bet so. What they are, not a clue.

Friday, February 13, 2015

New Fantasy Flight

Android Netrunner LCG: Breaker Bay
$14.95 SRP

Breaker Bay is the second Data Pack in the SanSan Cycle for Android: Netrunner. It continues the cycle’s guided tour of the SanSan region with sixty new cards (three copies each of twenty different cards) focusing on the University of the Californias at Breaker Bay and its students.

New resources, programs, and operations reflect everything from their living conditions to their parties, as well as the knowledge they hope to obtain and the efforts the world’s largest megacorps make to recruit the best and brightest of them.

Star Wars LCG: Jump to Lightspeed
$14.95 SRP

Make your Jump to Lightspeed with the final Force Pack in the Rogue Squadron cycle for Star Wars: The Card Game!

The cycle’s focus on ace Pilots and powerful Vehicles reaches its triumphant conclusion as Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon arrive for your ongoing interstellar battles. Win breakneck dogfights and conduct lightspeed travel with any affiliation, blast into hyperspace, fly with the heroes of the Rebellion, or give in to your anger to gain the power of the Sith. Make the stars your destination, and Jump to Lightspeed!

Warhammer 40,000: Conquest LCG: Descendants of Isha
$14.95 SRP

Choose the path of self-denial, or revel in unlimited excess with Descendants of Isha!

The sixth and final War Pack in the Warlord cycle for Warhammer 40,000: Conquest, Descendants of Isha introduces two new warlords, one for the ascetic Eldar and one for the debauched Dark Eldar.

You’ll also find useful tactics for each of the game’s other factions. Clear entire planets with devastating artillery, or transform your opponents into Squigs with the uncontrollable psychic power of the Orks. Can you find victory as the battle for the Traxis sector reaches new heights?

Lord of the Rings LCG: The Lost Realm Deluxe Expansion
$29.95 SRP

Prepare to face dangers that would freeze the blood of lesser folk!

The Lost Realm is the fourth deluxe expansion for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, and its 165 cards explore the wilds of the North, where a handful of DĂșnedain Rangers tirelessly hunt down the Dark Lord’s servants, wherever they may wander. Two new DĂșnedain heroes accompany numerous DĂșnedain allies, and a wealth of player cards reward players for engaging the many enemies found in the expansion’s nine new encounter sets and three new scenarios.

Dark Heresy Second Edition: Enemies Within
$39.95 SRP

Enemies Within is a supplement for Dark Heresy Second Edition that provides Acolytes with new means of rooting out and eradicating the many cults festering throughout the Askellon sector. New backgrounds, talents, and roles drawn from the Ordo Hereticus support their thankless quest. New rules allow you to take the Sister of Battle elite advance or snatch up new weapons specially-suited to rooting out heretics.

Meanwhile, Game Masters can seed countless adventures with the cults and the cult-and-plot generators contained within this tome. Crack it open, and face the enemy within!
Descent 2nd Edition: Heirs of Blood Campaign Book
$24.95 SRP

The lost heir to the kingdom of Saradyn has come forth, but only Terrinoth’s bravest heroes can lead him through countless dangers to his rightful throne!

Heirs of Blood is a campaign book for Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition that permits the exploration of a sweeping, all-new adventure playable with the Descent Second Edition Core Set. You’ll find no fewer than thirty-two new encounters, and every quest’s outcome has drastic consequences. Defend the heir to Saradyn and destroy the forces of the overlord!