Thursday, October 4, 2018

Evil Hat Cuts Back

Evil Hat Productions announced this week that it is cutting back on both its production schedule and staff. Citing the publication of too many games that have not performed as expected, the company will postpone or take off the schedule a dozen or so upcoming projects. Also the company will let go of its Heads of Marketing and Business Development and Senior Art Director.

There are wayyyyy too many game releases coming out, both through regular channels of distribution, ie. us, and through direct to consumer platforms like Kickstarter for the current market to absorb. Monthly, we see something on the order of 200 plus solicitations for new games and supplements , not to mention all of the current releases. The market, as it is, cannot absorb so much product in such a short period of time. There is a vast market out there but the tabletop gaming industry needs to work to get into it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How to make Art for Card Games

In case you are interested how game companies design their cards and include the art, here is an overview from Stonemeier Games:

Games like Shards of Infinity and Ascension are deck-building games which means they have lots of cards and therefore require lots of art. This art is all original, and only a few characters/monsters make it from one game to the next - you spend a lot of time makin' stuff up. 

When you’re developing art for a card game you have about 50+ pieces of art that need to be made, several artists to manage, and deadlines.

At Stone Blade, the process looks like this: Once we have the big picture mechanics and story locked down, it's time to start working on character briefs.

Character Briefs are little blurbs that artists use to create their art.

Once you have a bunch of these briefs written up, they're sent off to the artists. Generally, we look at the briefs and pick the artist who we believe will execute the piece best.

In other words, maybe you have one artist who is great at creating monsters, and another who's awesome at designing heroes in action, you'd send the monster to the monster person and the action to the action person. Sometimes we switch it up for fun because throwing a wrench into your process every once in a while can drum up new ideas, but most of the time this is how we do things.

And then you get the sketches back--

What you imagined when you wrote the brief and the art you get back doesn't always match up and that's part of the fun. If you get too attached to what your perspective of a piece of art should look like, you're going to be in for a lot of disappointment, because it's a sad reminder that you are not telepathic.

If you want to get a taste for what the brief to sketch process feels like, try this quick experiment:

Read the character brief below and imagine what this character looks like, then scroll down to check out the sketches at the end of the newsletter. How much alike or different the character is that the one you imagined? 
Rue Bo Vai wears black power armor that is pieced together all over her body. She is more human than most Wraethes. Her head and hands burn with pink/purple Wraethe energy. Under the flames, her skin looks smooth and pitch black. There are a few burning symbols etched into the skin. She's holding an Order monk in the air with one hand, staring him in the eyes. He looks terrified. She looks calm.
As you and the artist learn to communicate better, the work you get back should start to be an awesome mix of both your imaginations.

Once we have the sketches there are several rounds of notes and tweaks that bring the card to their finished form. Adaptability is key here: Can you see the potential in any piece of art you get back? What changes to the sketches would get you to that goal?

Even if the piece isn't exactly what you envisioned, its best to work with the artist to tweak the design if possible rather than starting over. This is done by talking to the artists and being strategic with your edits. It's wild to see how the change of a color or the slight adjustment of an arm can affect an image.

Then the card is done, but your work is not over. The next part of the process is looking at the card and saying: If I had to go through the art process for this card again, how would I have done it differently? 

The answer to this question is specific to the way you and each individual artist work together. Here are a few examples of changes you might make:
  • Maybe it means adding more details about the character's personality.
  • Maybe it means describing the pose before getting into the details of the costume. 
  • Maybe it means writing a little less or writing a little more. 
  • Maybe it means adding a bit of the character's role in the story into the description.
I've found all of these to be true at one time or another with the artists I've worked with. Asking this question helps me improve my ability to adapt to imaginative differences and work together with the artists to create consistently cool art.

Monday, September 17, 2018

More Tricks of the GM Trade

Here is another set of tricks of the grade for the GM from Stephen Chenault of Troll Lord games:

This is the 6th in our ongoing tips and tricks for GMs. Periodically we will send out these little nuggets written by Master GM Stephen Chenault.

Being a GM, DM, or CK is a tricky business. You must be able to think on the fly, keep people engaged and lead them down the path to adventure. Bogged down in the minutiae? Stuck in a dungeon? It's important to lead the players to the best game they can have. That's why our CEO and founder, Stephen Chenault -- a gamer for over 40 years and CK that can keep a game of 20 plus moving smoothly -- has put together another 5 gems guaranteed to give you your best game.
#1: When you begin a game, ground it in something very relatable. Set aside the plots, backgrounds, persons and monsters and for just a moment focus on the real. For instance, you can begin the game around a well, where one of the characters is drawing up an old iron-banded wooden bucket. The rope is in tethers, but somehow holds together. A bent ladle lies on the side of the well. Any situation where people can relate is good: tavern bar, sitting on a horse, wooded lane, etc. It starts the game on a solid foundation, making the whole wild experience that is going to come a little more believable.

#2: Never allow an NPC that is helping the characters to dominate the combat. It completely robs the players of their moment. Personally, I try to avoid having NPCs join the characters in their combats. Sometime it can’t be helped as the characters may hire a cleric, wizard or some other class, expecting them to fight. But even then, do not allow the NPC to save the day and dominate any encounter. They should be background noise at best.

 #3: NPCs are a huge part of the game. Make sure you use them constantly. In towns, on roads, etc. Make the vast majority of them neutral to the characters or helpful…whether a merchant selling something or a farmer on the road giving them directions. This does several things for the game. It creates a real-world experience, as most people you meet in your daily life are not out to get you. Players become used to dealing with normal people and they don’t become so gun shy of all strangers turning every encounter into “IT’S A TRAP”. This in turn allows you to surprise the players with with the occassional, but rare, evil NPCs who actually ARE out to get the characters.
#4: Meta-gaming has earned a bad reputation in the RPG world, but it is not deserved. Sometimes you have to step out of the game to figure out what the players want to do next. As much as you recap last week's game at the beginning of a game (see previous email for that tip), don’t shy away from stepping out of the game and asking the players what they plan to do next.

#5: If someone does something at the table that is really unique, even if it’s a little odd, go with it. Don’t wreck unique ideas because they may seem unreasonable or aren’t supported by the rules. I watched a player once, whose ranger had been tracking a horse and rider for a while, enter the town and lose the trail. So, he tried to find them by sniffing the air, hoping to get a whiff of the horse and rider. With no particular scent ability, he should not be able to do this, but I thought, “Wow, that is really cool, thinking out of the box.” The game master said “No” without a second’s hesitation. A perfect opportunity to engage the character was lost. Even if you don’t acquiesce in their request, go with it. A better response would have been, “You pick up the scent, just faintly, so you are doubly sure the rider came to town.” The player is happy they achieved something, and are participating in the game and the other players learn to think out of the box, and to stretch their abilities.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Game Design Tips

For you wannabe game designers, Peter at Jellybean Games posted a list of 54 game design tips.  Here are the first three:

1. Most of game design is giving people systems which they can use to have fun. The rest is removing systems which they will use to avoid having fun.
2. Any card that causes players to skip a turn, undoes their last move, or prevents them from being able to take cool actions may as well just read “Have less fun.” Avoid. You never need it.
3. It doesn’t matter if another, popular game does it – your game is going to be competing against current and future games. The standards are higher. Cut your mechanics which are causing negative experiences.

You can read the rest here

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Splendor Play Mat

Picked up a playmat for the Splendor game at the recent Alliance Open House and have added it to the copy in the game library for you to either use here or at home when you rent a copy of the game. If you want one for yourself, let us know and we can get one for you later in the week.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

More tricks of the GM's trade from Troll Lord Games

Being a GM, DM, or CK is a tricky business. You must be able to think on the fly, keep people engaged and lead them down the path to adventure. Bogged down in the minutiae? Stuck in a dungeon? It's important to lead the players to the best game they can have. That's why our CEO and founder, Stephen Chenault -- a gamer for over 40 years and CK that can keep a game of 20 plus moving smoothly -- has put together another 5 gems guaranteed to give you your best game.
#1: This is going to sound kind of weird. But when running the game you are going to make notes, so be sure to make them legible. Take the extra 2 seconds. I rarely do and my notes are a jumbled mess of stuff I can hardly read. I’m constantly having to compare notes with one of my players, Mac Golden (we’ve been gaming together since ’84, co-creator of Castles & Crusades), to figure out what I wrote 7 weeks ago, because I can’t read my hand writing (see image).

#2: Two of the best ways to toughen a monster are increased AC and damage reduction. Characters at mid to high level can deal an extraordinary amount of damage. A high AC mitigates that and makes the encounter challenging. Far more enjoyable is damage reduction. Knowing they are hitting a monster, but that it has survived the terrible storm, makes players begin to question the very actions they are taking. Don't hesitate to adjust AC or add damage reduction.
#3: If you are running a campaign, which I almost always do, you will probably have to recap the previous week’s game. Try to keep the recaps very short. I try to never recap more than 3 minutes. This isn’t always possible. Some players may have missed the last game. Some just can’t remember what went on or they have other things going on that distract them from the game (like Ferris Bueller said, “Life comes at you fast”). If it’s going to take very long, turn the recap over to the players, pick one player and ask them what their character did, the others will almost inevitably join in. This serves three purposes: 1) recaps nicely 2) and this is the most important….it involves the players in a Q/A so you don’t dominate the table for the first 30 minutes of the game and 3) allows you a few minutes to get some last-minute notes done. As a complete side note, if YOU can’t remember what went on, it will save you the embarrassment.
#4: Healing should not be a passive act. Describe it much as you would a battle description. “You have to grab the flesh and pinch it together, the blood wells up and around your hand, soaking your garments. You breathe the blessings of your god across the wound and the flesh mends, though it is mottled blue and black from the terrible bruising.” After you’ve done this a few times, players will get into the spirit of things and you can turn the action over to them. Then you can ask, “What do you do to heal them…?”

#5: When a game is going bad and you are losing the interest of the players, bring in an encounter. Make it sudden and fast. This should not be a punitive encounter, it is not vindictive or to punish the players for not paying attention. After all, the fault is yours, you lost them or bored them. Use the encounter to get everyone’s attention and get their adrenaline pumping. Nothing brings someone back to the table like “Roll for initiative.” Keep it fun, but dangerous.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Gencon Incident

A shoving incident involving the President of GAMA has escalated to the point that a police report has been filed. No word yet as to whether charges will be filed. Here is the official GAMA board statement on the incident and here is GAMA President and Iello Head Stephan Brissaud' statement.

And then there is this: The GAMA board has opted not to renew the contract of GAMA Executive Director John Ward

Friday, August 24, 2018

4 More Tricks of the Trade

Stephen Chenault, of Troll Lord Games, presents 4 more ways to improve your game as the DM:

Being a GM, DM, or CK is a tricky business. You must be able to think on the fly, keep people engaged and lead them down the path to adventure. Bogged down in the minutiae? Stuck in a dungeon? It's important to lead the players to the best game they can have. That's why our CEO and founder, Stephen Chenault -- a gamer for over 40 years and CK that can keep a game of 20 plus moving smoothly -- has put together another 5 gems guaranteed to give you your best game.
#1: Liven up your combat. Key words can go a long way. For example, you might suffer 1d8 points of damage from the club or the blow to their shield may have driven the iron of it back into your nose and cheek, lacerating the flesh and as the shield arm numbs from the blow the taste of blood seeps into your mouth.
#2: RPGs are not just about dungeons. Dungeons are in RPGs. Overland adventures allow you far more control over the game, its pace, tone and direction. In dungeons you are limited to direction, terrain and encounters. There are none of those limitations outdoors. Terrain changes, weather changes, encounters can be wild and varied. Dungeons can be fun, but they can drag out and allow you little room to maneuver.
#3: It’s really best to establish a procedure at the table. I generally run combat rounds from my right to left. After a few minutes everyone knows what to expect and who I am about to call on. Not only does this bring order to the table and allow people time to think and prepare reactions, study abilities, etc. but it also allows the GM even more control as you can, without warning, shake up the order. At times you’ll need to go out of order as something happens to a character to the left first. Whether it is necessary, or something you do to shake things up, going out of order serves two purposes a) it can quickly draw someone who is bored back to the table and b) creates a heightened level of suspense as most players, already used to the structure, pay attention to figure out why things are suddenly out of order.
#4: Allow players to roll initiative each round, no matter what the rules call for. It makes the combat unpredictable, allowing chance to play an even greater roll, and gives one more opportunity for an exciting, battle-changing roll. It also gives the player even more to do at the table. And, as always, rolling dice is just plain fun and rolling initiative 10 times in a combat as opposed to one is that much more fun.

#5: Be fluid at the table. Be ready to adjust the scenario quickly. Move terrain you had pre-planned, change NPC personalities you had pre-planned. Characters who go into an encounter expecting X will be thrown off guard and secretly surprised when they encounter Y. This goes for role playing to actual mechanics. Changing the order of play as noted in #3 above is a good example of this. But far beyond that, be able to shift gears according to player characters.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

4 Reasons to Play RPGs

Four Reasons Why You (and Your Kids) Should Play D&D Or Other RPGS

Such as Runequest or Tunnels and Trolls or Star Wars or Spirt of the Century or Adventure Maximus. Why  is pretty well summed up in this article that ran in The Hollywood Reporter back in 2016.  I happened to run across it again while looking for the recent interview Steven Colbert conducted with Joe Manganiello, ostensibly over Manganiello’s new Death Saves clothing line but which deviated into a discussion of whether rolling 3 d6 or 4 d6 is preferable when rolling up a character (It’s 4D6 if you are in my game) and probably the longest discussion about D&D on late night TV, as least as far as I know.
Anyhow, the Hollywood Reporter article points out three reasons why  people in the entertainment industry gravitated to D&D and why playing or running it (or any tabletop RPG for that matter) can help you or your kids:
1.        Worldbuilding and What-if scenarios.  D. B. Weiss, showrunner for Game of Thrones, says playing D&D was perfect preparation for the world building necessary for creating the sprawling storylines that GOT encompasses.  Every session, he as the DM had to develop worlds in which his players could adventures and run through dozens of What-if scenarios in his head as he had to prepare for the likelihood that his players would do something completely different than what he had prepared, opting to venture into the dark woods instead of the intricately designed castle dungeon looming before them (something every game master has had happen to them). Meanwhile, Pendleton Ward, the mind behind Adventure Time, credits his years playing D&D, with its monsters with their unique instincts and motivations and habitats, as a huge influence in creating the Land of Ooo.
2.       Storytelling—David Beinoff, also a showrunner for Game of Thrones, credits D&D with honing his storytelling skills, learning through practice what hooks an audience and what sent them nodding off.  Even today, if the story the game master tells is engaging, the players stay riveted on their words. Lose their attention, and players pull out their smartphones and start scrolling through their Instagram feeds. A good story can keep players sitting around the table for hours and thousands more watching on various Twitch feeds, as Critical Role does.
3.       Acting and Improvisation—Mike Drucker, a writer on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, says that playing D&D “makes you think on your feet and commit”.  At its best, when the gamemaster is not simplify reading material from a prepared scenario, a game transforms into a session of improvisational theater with players responding to what the gamemaster says and the gamemaster then riffing on the responses from the players.
Socialization—Deborah Ann Woll, one of the stars of NetFlix’ Daredevil implies this when she said, in response to plans for yet another D&D movie:  “The adventures I’ve had in Dungeons & Dragons will always be more exciting than anything they could put on a screen “because it was me and I lived it, and it was spontaneous. That’s just always going to be more exciting.”  The interaction among players helps draw players out of their shells and interact with others. Dozens of parents over the years have told me how much their kids loved playing D&D and other RPGS and how doing so helped them learn to deal with other people

Thursday, August 16, 2018

GM's Tricks of the Trade

This is the third in a sporadic series of emails sent out by Troll Lord Games on becoming a better GM:

Being a GM, DM, or CK is a tricky business. You must be able to think on the fly, keep people engaged and lead them down the path to adventure. Bogged down in the minutiae? Stuck in a dungeon? It's important to lead the players to the best game they can have. That's why our CEO and founder, Stephen Chenault -- a gamer for over 40 years and CK that can keep a game of 20 plus moving smoothly -- has put together another 5 gems guaranteed to give you your best game.
#1: One of the GM’s major tools are their descriptions. Whether the characters are in a dungeon or wandering overland, in a battle or talking to an NPC, describing the scene and the monsters and people is a key part of the table top experience. When describing things don’t forget smell and sounds. Describe what the see, but tell them how it smells, try to relate it to something they might already know, such as fresh baked bread. The sounds of things too are important. These senses can bring someone into a scene like nothing else.

#2: Don’t underestimate simple adventures. A quick adventure with a very simple plot can be loads of fun. A hunt, transporting an item, a 3-room barrow mound. Include 1-2 NPCs and allow for lots of role playing. These adventures are easy to prepare for and can fill up several hours with no problem and really engage the players.
#3: Try not to allow anyone get lost at the table. If someone is not participating or allowing others to run their characters, figure out what skills they have and adjust the situation enough to give them reason to make a check. It can be any kind of attribute check, from something as simple as discerning an NPC’s intent to as complex as tracking a wild boar. One simple check can bring someone to the table quickly.
#4: A great way to break in a new player to most role-playing games and teach them the game’s mechanics quickly is with terrain, specifically swimming a river. Crossing the river can require a great many different attribute checks, from intelligence and perception in finding the best area to swim, to the actual act of swimming with dexterity, and even strength and constitution in surviving the swim. Crossing a river can easily require 4-5 different attribute checks. And as importantly, you can control the outcome by mitigating the challenge level you assign, the challenge level can change constantly (it need not be only one check to swim) and if things go poorly hidden material under the water can offer more attribute checks, allowing a drowning character the chance to grab hold of something or stand on it. Once the river is crossed, the new player should have a better understanding of the mechanics.

#5: Rolling dice is fun! Obviously, the GM has to make many of the rolls. But, whenever you can yield a roll to the players, do so. Don’t roll to see if the horse bolts, allow them to roll to see if they can better control the horse. If they want to do something, have them make an attribute check, you can govern the outcome with bonuses and penalties, but allow them to make the check.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Why You Should Play D&D

I was reading this article on Hollywood types that play Dungeons and Dragons and noted that it points out three good reasons to play D&D:

1. Encourages creativity.  Game of Thrones, Adventure Time, World of Warcraft, heck any fantasy video game, any video game at all that was released in the last 20 years has its roots in the developers playing D&D in their youth

2. Encourages spontaneity--in order to play or run D&D, you have to be able to think on your feet, either as the player responding to what the DM throws at you or as the Dungeon Master responding to the things the player has just done. Imagine that you have created an entire adventure based on the players going  into a castle and they decide to explore the forest outside. What do you do then?

3 Worldbuilding--A Dungeon master has the entire world, either meticulously or hazily, in their mind and develops dozens if not hundreds of "what if" scenarios:  “I played compulsively for years,” admits D.B. Weiss, the 45-year-old Game of Thronesshowrunner, who says infatuation with Dungeons & Dragons during his teenage years in Chicago was the perfect preparation for his current job. “It was my first experience with world-building,” he explains. “You’d see hundreds of ‘what if’ scenarios play out in real time as players attempted to achieve their various goals "

Thursday, August 9, 2018

How To Sell (or Trade) Us Cards

Since nearly every day we have someone bringing in cards for us to look at for either sale or trade, here are a few things you can do to make the process quicker and less frustrating for you:

1.  Bring in what we carry. We do not deal in sports trading cards or non-sports trading cards such as Marvel or DC card sets. 2 or 3 times a month we have someone bring in sets of cards that we just do not have the expertise or customer base to deal in and we will send you elsewhere.

2. Know what you want to trade and what we are looking for. Please do no not bring in your binder, open it and ask us to go through it and pull out cards in which we are interested. That is very time consuming. We have a list of cards we are interested in posted behind the counter and also on the store website..

3. Call to find out when we can look at your cards. If you show up 15 minutes before close with cards, we are going to ask you to come back. Similarly, if you come in during times we are processing shipments, typically Tuesday and Thursday before 2, we will ask you to come back another time. Busy days such as Friday and Saturday are also not good days to come

4. Know our policies on buying. We pay cash or store credit for Magic, but store credit only, due to problems with stolen collections, for Pokemon and Yu Gi Oh. Do not drive here expecting to get cash for your Yu Gi Oh or Pokemon cards

5. Know our policies on bulk collections. We have a room full of bulk Magic, Yu Gi Oh and Pokemon and really do not want to add to it. We are interested in Magic cards valued at $2 and up, full art, GX and EX Pokemon, and Yu Gi Oh on a case by case basis.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Record GenCon Attendance

Another record setting year for Gencon with over 60000 people attending, a 16% increase from last year and $70 million pumped into the Indianapolis economy.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Legendary 10th Anniversary Set

Coming Mid August:

Legendary: Marvel: 10th Anniversary
$49.99 SRP
Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the global theatrical phenomenon known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this limited edition addition to the Legendary® family of deck-building card games features star-studded, action-packed, iconic imagery pulled directly from Marvel’s phase one collection of movies. In this game, you are leading fan favorite Marvel Super Heroes like Captain American, Iron Man, and Thor to trounce Super Villains! This limited edition release is 100% compatible with all previous Legendary Marvel releases, theatrical or comics based, for countless combinations of seamless scenarios.


  • 393 Playable Cards
  • Color Rule Book
  • Rubber Play mat

Thursday, August 2, 2018

5 GM Tricks of the Trade

From an email sent out by Troll Lord Games this week, 5 useful tips for GMs from Head Troll Stephen Chenault:

Being a GM, DM, or CK is a tricky business. You must be able to think on the fly, keep people engaged and lead them down the path to adventure. Bogged down in the minutiae? Stuck in a dungeon? It's important to lead the players to the best game they can have. That's why our CEO and founder, Stephen Chenault -- a gamer for over 40 years and CK that can keep a game of 20 plus moving smoothly -- has put together these top 5 gems guaranteed to give you your best game.
#1: Always keep the pace moving. As soon as the game slows, people start looking at distractions and it’s difficult to get them back on track.
#2: Try not to single people out. When it comes to their turn to react, look to make sure they are comfortable. If they are not, and are being shy, give them more context, draw the attention away from their character and themselves and put it back on you. It is easiest to do this with more descriptive text. Describe the encounter, with smells and sounds as it is happened. This may allow them time to formulate a response and will definitely take the attention away from them.
#3: Don’t play their character. Allow them to choose their own actions and describe them. If they don’t, it is better to coach them. “When you swing, do you stab with the sword and use a cutting motion?” The more you coach a player, the sooner they get into the groove of things.
#4: Playing mood music is good, but make sure it doesn’t drown out what you are doing. Worse than that is choosing music that may aggravate someone. Choose music that has the right mood, but is not destructive.

#5: Don’t be afraid to damage equipment. Do it in every battle. This will pay in the end. If players are used to their character’s equipment being damaged then it opens up future opportunities to you, the GM. If in combat session a character is getting close to death with low hit points, you can allow continue suffering by damaging equipment without killing the character. It all seems quite natural to the player as it is a common enough theme in your game. Plus it gives them something to spend their money on.

Monday, July 30, 2018

If Stuff Is Stolen From You, What To Do

Had a customer report a theft of some of their gaming supplies over the weekend. Thanks to them doing the correct things and alert staff at the store, we were able to recover the items and turn the thief over to the police. Here are steps you should take if items are stolen from you:

1. Make a list of what was stolen. Be as detailed as you can, not only for police purposes but in case you want to file an insurance claim. Saying that you had a binder of Magic cards stolen is much less helpful than saying "I had a black Ultra Pro binder with these specific cards in it and they were on these pages." We recovered a stolen collection a couple of years ago because the victim described a particular box in which part of the collection was stored and the thief came in with the cards in that box. Incidentally, if you have very valuable items, such as Moxes, photographs for insurance purposes are a good idea and can also help identify your stolen property.

2. Call the police. 911 is probably not necessary unless the theft is happening now but the police cannot act to recover your property unless they know about it. Do it as soon as you realize the theft took place. Thieves generally want to get rid of their stolen items as quickly as possible so speed on your part is essential.

3. Call stores in the immediate area. Unless the items are Magic or some other type of card AND the thief knows their value, they will want to get rid of your property, since they want money for them fast. Trying to sell stuff online can take 2-3 days or better . In most cases a thief wants cash now. We had a couple of cases where the thieves parsed out a collection and sold it to several stores in St. Louis but most thieves are opportunists and not willing to go to that much effort. If your items are stolen while you are playing at a store, don't blame the store. We don't like thieves any more than you do and will be quite happy to see them arrested.

Take these steps and you will have a much better chance of getting back your stolen property.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Speed Dueling Decks

Just received the following info on the new Speed Dueling Decks coming for Yu Gi Oh this fall:

The Speed Duel Starter Decks each contain 3 ready-to-duel Speed Duel Decks and 3 Ultra Rare variant cards specially chosen to boost each strategy.  Speed Duel Starter Decks: Destiny Masters contains Decks for the Millennium Item users Yami Yugi, Ishizu Ishtar and Maximillion Pegasus to face off against up-and-comers from Speed Duel Starter Decks: Duelists of Tomorrow containing Decks for Seto Kaiba, Mai Valentine and Joey Wheeler.

Also included are brand-new Skill Cards to change Deck-building decisions and flip the tables on your opponents!  Some Skills come right out ofYu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, but as a bonus, each Deck contains a brand new original Skill for their respective characters!

All cards in the Speed Duel Starter Decks contain a new marker confirming their legality for Speed Dueling.  Only cards with this special symbol may be used for Speed Dueling*, however players are free to Duel with Speed Dueling cards in regular Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME tournaments and events.**

Speed Dueling is a great way to get a taste of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME while also providing compelling new gameplay options for existing fans.  Keep an eye out on the Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME events page to find out where you can play Speed Dueling events!

Speed Duel Starter Decks: Destiny Masters contains: 1 20-Card Yami Yugi Deck 1 20-Card Ishizu Ishtar Deck 1 20-Card Pegasus Deck 9 Skill Cards (3 for Yugi, 3 for Ishizu and 3 for Pegasus) 3 Ultra Rare variant cards

Speed Duel Starter Decks: Duelists of Tomorrow contains: 1 20-Card Seto Kaiba Deck 1 20-Card Mai Valentine Deck 1 23-Card Joey Wheeler Deck 9 Skill Cards (3 for Kaiba, 3 for Mai and 3 for Joey) 3 Ultra Rare variant cards

*To use a card in Speed Dueling it must have the Speed Dueling Symbol on the card, other versions of the same card are not legal.
**Skill cards may only be used in Speed Dueling events.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Jay's Favorite Games: Red Dragon Inn

I like Red Dragon Inn because it's a fun party game about drinking and gambling. It can be played with two or a near infinite amount of people and anywhere in between. It's a great game for people ages 13 and up with very simple or very complex rules. Over all I love it a lot and think you will too.
- Jay

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Star Trek Fluxx

Or is that Fluxxes? Anyhow, Looney Labs has announced they have the licese to produce a series of Star Trek Fluxx games releasing later this year:

We are very excited to announce three new Star Trek Titles from Looney Labs - two standalone card games and an expansion pack that allows you to shuffle both decks together!
Star Trek Fluxx: Featuring characters from the Original Series,
including Spock, Uhura, and Scotty!

Star Trek: The Next Generation Fluxx: Featuring TNG characters,
including Troi, Riker, and Worf!

Star Trek Fluxx Bridge Expansion: 12 cards that allow Kirk to meet Picard,
Spock to meet Data, and the Past to meet the Future!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Survival Tips for GenCon

GenCon is coming up in less than a month and Blaine Pardoe has put together a list of 35 survival tips for GenCon. To his tips I would add, don't touch the cosplayers. Just as cosplayers should not wear outfits that cause them to bump into other convention attendees, a cosplay outfit is not an invitation to hug or otherwise touch the wearer.

Friday, July 13, 2018

National Ice Cream Day

Just a reminder that National Ice Cream Day is this Sunday and, while we won't have any ice cream here, we will have coupons for a buck off a $5 purchase at Cool Spoons, which does have ice cream

Thursday, July 12, 2018


I have said it before but pre-ordering or asking about a product really helps us to decide if and how much of a game or related product we decide to bring into the store. Unlike mass market stores such as Wal-mart or Target, we have to pay for and keep everything we order, so we tend to err or the conservative side when ordering. If you want us to get something, please let us know by ordering it.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Why Aryel, Knight of Windgrace Should be in Your Deck

Aryel, Knight of Windgrace is in Dominaria and with the standard rotation coming up, knights are going to be super popular. This Legendary Human Knight costs 4 mana and is a 4/4 with vigilance. It uses black and white mana so any black/white could benefit from it. For less than its mana cost you can create a 2/2 knight token, then tap any number of knights to destroy a target creature of that value or less.
Aryel makes it easy to build a small army quickly. I hope you check out this underrated card and enjoy it!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Comic Back Issue Pricing

Comics account for about 10% of our sales and back issues for a fraction of that, so, if you bring in back issues, we are not going to offer you much for them, even less if they were released in the last 25 years or so. When you hear about back issue comics going for big bucks, it is because they are RARE. That is the whole supply and demand concept kicking in there.

From their inception back in the late 1930s through about the 1970s, comic books were viewed as something kids read. You were a kid once. How did you treat your things? Right, roughly. That is the way we treating comics as well. We folded them up and stuck them in our back pockets or cut out the coupons to send off for sea monkeys or inflatable ghosts. Kids didn't treat them well.

As those kids grew up, they got nostalgic for the comics of their youth and started collecting them.  There weren't that many around anymore though so scarcity drove demand, meaning the prices on the comics those kids read increased in value. However, as adults realized there was money to be made in comics, they started saving current issues , hoping they would drastically increase in value. Some did. Most didn't. So if you come in with a long box full of Wild CATS #1, we will offer you about $5 for the whole thing, as the market is glutted with titles on which people speculated. What are recent books that you ought to keep an eye out for? First issues of long running series like The Walking Dead or Saga or issues in which a popular character debuts, like Marvel's  X-23. Bringing in a collection of Marvel's Darkhawk or DC's Stars and STRIPE, both of which are lower tier characters, will get you a very low offer, since collectors of those books are sparse.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Dark Souls Reprint

Just received the following email from Konami

Dear Official Tournament Stores,
As many of you have experienced recently there have been overwhelming requests for the recently released Dark Saviors Special booster from retailers and players alike.  Since its release, the ability of our players to obtain the desired cards coupled with the escalating cost to do so, has left them a bit frustrated with the limited available inventory that currently exists.  In an effort to remedy this situation and satisfy the player base we will be releasing an unlimited version of this product in mid-July.  The product will be extremely limited in number.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Importance of Stores and Salespeople

this article asking if the sales person is dying as a job category caught my eye, that and the discussion of the growth of the concept of “retailtainment” as the direction in which retailing will move.
If you have read the linked article, there are a couple of points with which I would take issue:
1)      The author grossly overstates the importance of online retailing to the overall retail sector. Although it has grown rapidly, online retailing still accounts for only about 10% of sales in the entire retail sector.
2)      The retail sector typically ramps up hiring for the holiday season in September through November then lays off a lot of those hires after Christmas, so an 89,000 person decline in retail sales people may not be that out of line for the period October to now.
Retailing remains important though with 1 out of every 10 people in the US employed in retailing and it is still where most people get their first job and learn valuable skills, such as interacting and working with other staff members and the public, time management and personal  responsibility , that will serve them, if learned properly, throughout their life. However, unlike when I first entered retailing in the 1980s, people no longer spend their careers as retail salespeople. Movement by stores towards part time work, lower wages and fewer, if any, benefits (and I am talking things like health insurance and retirement plans, not free snacks and a discount off game purchases), have kept employee turnover high across the industry, approximating  67%, meaning the average retailer has to replace two-thirds of their staff every year. This is why many large chains have moved toward self checkouts with only one staff member monitoring 4-6 check out stations while Amazon tests staff less stores, where the customer selects items off the store shelf, scans the items themselves and the purchase gets billed to their Amazon account. Simple once set up and no human interaction needed. Will this happen quickly? Nah, too much infrastructure needs to get implemented for retailers to adopt the model widely anytime soon, but it is coming.
This is why stores will move toward the “retailtainment” model,  in which customers are entertained while they shop. Customers want an experience to go along with their shopping, which is why they flock to a new restaurant when one opens. Dining there is a new experience, one they cannot get elsewhere. In fact this is why new stores have heavy foot traffic for the first few weeks after opening. Customers looking for a new experience stop by to check it out, but once the new wears out, they head off to the next experience.
So what do game stores have to do? Create experiences. Tournament model stores, those with as many or more tables than retail space, already do this, creating weekly or daily experiences for their customers. The rest of us have to use atmospherics (appealing to the senses) to bring the customer back. Stores and salespeople aren’t passé but we will have to work even harder to remain relevant. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Magic Core 2019 Demo Day

While Quantities last, bring in a friend, show them how to play Magic, they get a free demo deck and promo card, you get a promo card. Don't know anyone who doesn't already play Magic? Bring in your Magic playing friend, play a game of Standard and you both get a promo Card.

Monday, June 18, 2018

New Yu Gi Oh Decks

A three pack of Yu Gi Oh decks releasing in early October

Get ready to dispense some Dueling justice this holiday season when the Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME presents Legendary Hero Decks! This box set comes with 3 unique Decks featuring the kind of monsters you’d want on your side if the fate of the world depended on the outcome of a Duel!

Fulfill Your Destiny!
Aster Phoenix’s Destiny HERO Deck excels at driving opponents into a corner with effects that inflict damage or pierce through defending monsters. Like Jaden’s Elemental HERO Deck, the Destiny HERO Deck also Summons powerful monsters through Fusion! This Deck also includes 2 new “HERO” Link Monsters you can use in any HERO Deck: A Link-2 monster that retrieves your Fusion Summoning Spell Cards from the Graveyard and a high-ATK Link-3 monster with Link Arrows that all point towards your field, giving you space to summon 3 Fusion Monsters at once!

Return of the Aesir!
Thor, Loki, and Odin once again descend upon the Dueling world! Boasting some of the highest ATK values among all Synchro Monsters, Team Ragnarok’s ace monsters from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s hold a special place in the hearts of Duelists. Now, a new Link Monster makes it easier to assemble the Synchro Materials needed to Summon an “Aesir” monster, and this Deck’s Extra Deck also comes with more high-powered Level 10 Synchro Monsters, including the legendary Ascension Sky Dragon!

The Phantom Knights Strike Back!
Phantom Knight Decks focus on Xyz Summoning and using Trap Cards to turn the tides of battle. Almost all of their monsters, Spells, and Traps have additional abilities you can use once they’re in the Graveyard, creating opportunities for huge comebacks! This Deck includes a new Trap Card and a brand new “Phantom Knight” Link Monster that Sets Trap Cards directly from your Deck and can destroy any card on the field when a DARK Xyz Monster is Special Summoned to a zone it points to!

Origins Award Winners

Here are the Origins Award winners for the best tabletop games of the year:

Game of the Year
Cephalofair Games

Best Board Game of the Year
Cephalofair Games

Best Card Game of the Year
Ex Libris

Best Family Game of the Year
Plan B Games

Best Roleplaying Game of the Year
Adventures in Middle Earth
Cubicle 7

Best Roleplaying Supplement of the Year
Dungeons & Dragons Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Wizards of the Coast

Best Miniatures of the Year
Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition
Games Workshop

Best Game Accessory of the Year
Terraforming Mars Organizer
Broken Token Gaming

Best Collectible Game
Star Wars Destiny: Awakenings Booster
Fantasy Flight Games

Monday, June 11, 2018

Free RPG Day

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at this Saturday's Free RPG Day and why we like it. We will have pictures up this evening of this year's offerings.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Unrivaled Tournament Collapses

The Unrivaled Boardgame Tabletop Championships, which premiered last year with $4  million spent on launching last year's tournaments and some $100,000 in prizing, cratered dramatically this year, to the point that the company has cancelled this year's tournaments and will refund the money collected from the 200 or so stores that had already signed up to participate:

Unrivaled was simply born from our love of tabletop gaming and the vision of bringing together players and events on a local and national footprint.  We debuted Unrivaled World Tabletop Championships in 2017 and spent over $4 million to launch and run the tournament all the way through the Finale in Las Vegas.  Our plans for 2018 included more games, a larger prize pool and an extensive level of support to bring local retailers and venues into the action.

Recent unexpected changes have occurred with the financial status of our parent company, Oomba, Inc.  Given these changes we are no longer confident that we will be able to fulfill a quality product for this year’s Unrivaled tournament.  We believe it is in everyone’s best interest that we cancel the event this year and do everything in our power to make all partners and participants whole.  This orderly wind-up will be taking place immediately.  It is with our deepest regret to announce this change in plans.