Monday, April 23, 2018

4 Notable Things about Pre-release Weekend

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at 4 things Scott noted about this past weekends Dominaria pre-releases. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Why You Should Play role playing Games

this week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at reasons why it is good that people play Dungeons and Dragons or other role playing games. Any game that combines literacy, math, problem solving, socialization and strategic thinking should be encouraged.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Dominaria Spoilers

Remember about 20 years ago or so, when WOTC went to great lengths to keep the card lists for new Magic releases secret until the release date. Well, those days are long gone.  Here is the spoiler list from WOTC for many of the new Dominaria cards.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

6 Things You Should Know About Dominaria

WOTC just posted this list of 6 things they think are important about Dominaria. Here's a summary:

1. Two promo cards, one stamped and one foil stamped Legendary card in every pre-release pack.
2. The Historic mechanic which give Arifacts, Legendary and Saga cards additional benefits when played together
3. FNM promos are now playable cards, rather than tokens, with alternate frames rather than alternate art.
4. Every booster pack contains at least one Legendary card.
5. The Buy a Box cards are unique. You will not find them in booster packs
6. Karn, Squee and Teferi all return.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

How to Win at Rock Paper Scissors

This article looks at the psychology behind Rock Paper Scissors and presents a couple of strategies for winning. Based on an analysis done by the World Rock Paper Scissors Society (yes, there is such a thing), you will most likely win if you throw paper. Here is the reasoning:

In Society tournaments, players throw scissors 30% of the time (well 29.6%). That means there is a 70% likelihood your opponent will throw rock or paper so if you opt for paper and your opponent chooses rock, you win. Paper covers Rock. If you opt for paper and your opponent also chooses paper, you tie.

The other thing to take into consideration is that players will usually throw the same thing twice in a row, then switch. So if someone chooses Rock twice in a row, your best choice on the third game is scissors as they will most likely change to scissors or paper. If you change to scissors, you will either tie or win.

Glad to help

Monday, April 2, 2018

Kickstarter Pros and Cons

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the pros and cons of a Kickstarter campaign, this time from the publishers perspective, rather than the retailer's.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Kickstarter Sales

According to this, gaming sales via Kickstarer are still healthy, up about 37% from 2016. However, we are seeing a few gaming companies pulling back. Stonemaier Games announced last year they were pulling projects off Kickstarter and Ninja Division announced at the GAMA Trade Show that they would not fund large projects through the platform anymore, though they might still use Kickstarter for smaller one.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Early Dominaria Sales

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the change in WOTC policy on early sales of Dominaria booster boxes and the replacement for the From the Vault sets.

Monday, March 19, 2018

GAMA Trade Show

The GAMA Trade Show moved to Reno this year and people are pretty happy with the new location. This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at a couple of hot topics at the show.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Forgebane Releases

For you Warhammer 40K fans, the new Forgebane game releases on March 24. For only $160, you get over $300 worth of Necrons and Adeptus Mechanicus

Warhammer 40,000: Forgebane (FB-xx)
  • Fantastic-value set featuring 2 armies, rules and specific story.
  • Includes brand-new miniatures: Necron Cryptek with Canoptek Cloakand Imperial Knight Armiger Warglaive, currently only available in this boxed set.
  • All miniatures (27 in total) are multi-part plastic miniatures.
  • The Forgebane book contains a selection of schemes for Necron Dynasties and Adeptus Mechanicus Forge Worlds.
  • Includes all the rules you need to play with the contents of the set: core
    Warhammer 40,000 rules, datasheets, army abilities, weapons and wargear
    profiles and points.
  • Potential Add On Sales: CitadeI 12mm Dice, Warhammer 40,000 Essentials Set, Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus

(FB-60) ENG
(FB-01) FRE

US $160/ CAN $190

Monday, March 12, 2018

They're Number 3

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the suprising jump of the D&D Player's Handbook to #3 on Amazon's best seller list and revisits MAP

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Dominaria Leak

In case you had not heard, some one in China leaked all of the release notes for the new Dominaria set. These were not supposed to get released for at least another month. However, making the best of a bad situation WOTC has posted an overview of what the notes cover as well as a translation of the notes themselves.

Some of the new concepts include Sagas:  "The Dominaria set introduces a new kind of enchantment: Sagas. Each Saga tells the story of a key event from the past as it unfolds during each of your turns."

Legendary creatures will become more common with 1 in each booster pack.

Also, this rule change will go into effect with the release of the set:  "Previously, you could redirect noncombat damage that a source you control would deal to an opponent, having that source instead deal that damage to one of their planeswalkers. With the release of the Dominaria set, this rule is being removed from the game. "

This should prove interesting when the set releases April 27

Monday, March 5, 2018

GAMA Trade Show

For those planning to attend the GAMA Trade Show, this week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at some things you should plan to do.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Palladium Robotech Kickstarter

Palladium announced February 27 that it would not produce the second wave of Robotech products that it funded through Kickstarter back in 2013. Apparently a big part of the problem was that the funds generated were used to produce extra Wave 1 figures for sale through distribution and distribution bought far fewer of them than Palladium had expected, thus leaving money tied up in excess inventory instead of the expected capital that would have produced Wave 2 of the figures.

In fact, we passed on buying any of the figures for sale in the store because of the success of the Kickstarter. We figures that, given the massive numbers of people who bought into the campaign, anyone who wanted the figures would get them through the Kickstarter. We had no desire to risk our capital stocking a product that Palladium had already sold to its most avid customers.

Below is the email Palladium sent out to those contacting the company about non-fulfillment of the Kickstarter:

We share your frustration and apologize for the unfortunate delay. Palladium Books has been working tirelessly to bring Robotech® fans a superior product. Progress is being made and we are moving toward manufacturing of the First Wave of releases.
Please understand, as a Kickstarter backer, you have not purchased or pre-ordered a product. You have “supported a project” in exchange for a promise of a reward. That reward had an original estimated delivery date which has passed, but that date was always an estimate, not a guaranteed deadline.
By Kickstarter’s terms of service, we are obligated to deliver on the rewards we have promised, and we will do that. We are currently working toward doing just that.
As such, we cannot offer you a refund at this time. If the time should ever come that Palladium Books cannot fulfill the terms of our Kickstarter project, we will of course offer refunds, as we would be required to do by Kickstarter.
In the meantime, please be patient. We appreciate your support of the project, and your pledge will help us to produce a fantastic product that we think everyone will enjoy.
With Appreciation,
The Palladium Books Team"

Monday, February 26, 2018

Sales Taxes

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the effect an upcoming Supreme Court decision could have on whether online retailers can continue to not collect sales taxes from customers and its possible consequences.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Magic: Why Rile Should Be In Your Deck

A one red mana common Sorcery card from Ixalan that reads: "Rile deals 1 damage to target creature you control. That creature gains trample until end of turn. Draw a card." If any of your creatures have enrage as an ability then you need Rile in your deck. It pairs incredibly well with Polyraptor from Rivals of Ixalan. One damage likely won't be enough to hurt your enraged dino, and chances are your opponent doesn't want to trigger the enrage ability. So don't rely on them, when you can easily do it yourself. Besides, dinosaurs are cool.

Happy Magic

Monday, February 19, 2018

Barnes & Noble Cuts

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the effect of the recently announced Barnes and Noble staff cuts of some 1600 full time positions.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Counterfeit Codenames

Czech Games Editions is the latest game company to call attention to the number of counterfeit editions of its best selling game Codenames. Ways to tell if you have a counterfeit copy of the game include misspellings on game cards, flimsier card stock and a Chinese point of origin. Since Czeck Games Editions prints Codenames in the Czech Republic, online sellers shipping from China are likely selling counterfeited copies. If you look at this one, which originates in China, you can see from the provided photos that the components differ significantly from those included in a real copy of the game

Why does it matter?  Because the money spent on counterfeits never gets to the publisher of the game and, without the revenues from sales of their game, the publisher is unable to produce more copies of the game, develop new games or pay their bills.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pokemon: Why Pokemon Fan Club Should Be In Your Deck

Pokemon Fan Club is a very useful Supporter card that can help players out in a number of situations. Pokemon Fan Club allows you to search your deck for up to 2 Basic Pokemon from your deck and put them into your hand. Personally, this works great in several situations:

1. If you are at the beginning of the game and do not have that many Basic Pokemon out on the field, this card can be used to find some Basic Pokemon and allow you to fill up your bench with Pokemon.

2. Because this card allows you to search your deck for up to two of ANY Basic Pokemon, this includes all Pokemon cards labeled Basic at the top left of the card, including EX and GX Pokemon.

3. If you draw a Stage 1 Evolution Pokemon and have yet to draw the basic Pokemon that it evolves from, Pokemon Fan Club can allow you to find the card you are looking for so that you can start strengthening your team on the field.

Happy battling fellow trainers,

So Long Mayfair

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at how the closure of Mayfair Games affects you. Short answer, it probably doesn't 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Magic: Why Blazing Hope Should Be In Your Deck

"Exile target creature with power greater than or equal to your life total." It's an instant spell that costs one white mana to cast. Even indestructible creatures can be exiled! A 12/12 dinosaur can be pretty hard to beat, but it only takes one mana to change the game in your favor. If they are close to losing the game most people just give up, but there really is no reason to do so. Never give up! With Blazing Hope you can turn things around to your favor, and win in an incredibly heroic way.

Happy Magic!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Mayfair Games Sells to Asmodee NA

Just got the following press release from Mayfair Games. What does it mean to customers? Nothing really. The games will still be available, just with the Asmodee brand on them. I have expected something like this ever since Catan separated from Mayfair a year or so ago, although from what I understand, Mayfair is still doing well financially:

As of today, the management team at Mayfair Games, Inc. announces we will wind down game publishing. After 36 years, this was not an easy decision or one we took lightly, but it was necessary. Once we had come to this conclusion, we knew we had to find a good home for our games which is when we reached out to Asmodee.

We are pleased to announce that we have sold our games to Asmodee North America, who have acquired all the assets of Mayfair Games, Inc. This acquisition includes the product line for both Mayfair Games, Inc and Lookout Games, GmbH.

Moving forward, Mayfair product will continue to be available through previously established distribution channels including Alliance Game Distributors for all sales in the USA to the hobby market and with Esdevium Games now Asmodee UK for the UK market.

RPG of the Week Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes

This week, WOTC announced the release of the next book in the D&D cannon, Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Like the previous releases in the series, Volo's Book of Monsters and Xanathar's Guide to Everything, Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes will ship with two different covers, the standard cover which you will find at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other fine mass retailers, and the direct cover, only available from WPN approved retailers. Both covers will have a MSRP of $49.99 on release.

The direct cover only gets 1-2 print runs before going out of print. Currently, direct cover versions of Xanathar's Guide to Everything sell for $80 to $100. WPN stores, like us, will have both covers for sale on May 18th and you will likely find both on sale from third parties on Amazon and eBay. The mass version will go on sale widely May 29. We are taking deposits on either or both covers now through early May so let us know if you want a copy.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Boardgame of the Week Grimm Forest

Grimm Forest, from Druid City Games, arrived today. We got a look at it at the GAMA Trade Show last spring and thought enough of the game to back the Kickstarter campaign for it. Game play is pretty cool. It is a resource management and bluffing game. Undead Viking reviews it here

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Channel Restriction Notice

This is interesting.

North Star Games, publisher of Evolution and Wits and Wagers, announced yesterday that the company will restrict selling their games on Amazon to only two resellers. That means that anyone else selling North Star Games on Amazon will have to remove their listings from Amazon after March 9th or lose the privilege of selling North Star Games at all.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Lost Art and Mordenkainen

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at Konami's recent Lost Art Promotion and the recently announced Mordenkainen's Tomb of Foes

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Allure of Ruins

Ever wonder why so many D&D (and other fantasy adventures) are set among ruins? The abandoned tunnels beneath an old castle is such a trope that we refer to it as a "dungeon crawl". If you remember the Lord of the Rings, Middle Earth was festooned with ruins, relics of an earlier, grander, age. In my own campaigns, if I add in a lone statue as a descriptive note or put a ruined house on a ridge overlooking the valley through which the characters travel, I can almost guarantee that one of more of the players will want to go explore it. Why our fascination with ruins? This column from the BBC says ruins and lost civilizations have fascinated humans since at least the 6th Century BCE

Sunday, January 28, 2018

$18,000 D&D Module

The Jade Hare, a D&D module from 1992, sold for over $18,000 on eBay on January 3. Before you go frantically searching through your closets looking for similar items:

1. This was mint in the original shinkwrapping
2. The starting bid was $19.99 so no one expected it to go for that much
3. This was a limited edition promotional module given out with purchases by the TSR Mail Order Hobby Shop.
4. Unlike most other TSR books and modules,  there was only one print run of the original adventure.
5. If you really want a copy, you can pick up one for $1.49 in PDF format.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

RPG of the Week Dream Park

A precursor to modern MMOGs and LARPs, the 1981 novel Dream Park, postulated a world in which GMs were treated like rock stars as they created virtual/real worlds in which, for a price, real people could adventure. Players adopted the persona of their character and the tech postulated in the novel allowed magic and SF concepts to work. In 199, R Talsorian Games licensed the rights to the novel to produce a RPG in which the players played players who were playing characters in the world that the DM, who also existed as a DM in real life as well as in the game, created. Interesting concept and it did well enough for R. Talsorian to produce two adventures.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Game Designer Anonymity

Interesting read from someone who works in the board game industry on consumer purchases of boardgames. Unlike books, where you usually purchase a book based on the author, boardgames (and TCGs and RPGS) are usually purchased based on the brand. Most Magic players have no idea who is the current Magic sets, much as RPG players have no idea who wrote Xanathar's Guide to Everything, despite the book topping the NYT best seller list. In spite of how popular Scythe is, I would doubt that players know who the designer is (Jamey Stagmaier) or even the name of the publisher (Stonemaier Games). 

New Banned Cards

Yesterday, WOTC announced the banning of 1 rare, 2 uncommon and 1 common cards from Standard format tournament play. The rationale for the banning is that the 2 decks running combinations of these 4 cards dominated the Standard environment, getting played in about 40% of games tracked by WOTC at the Pro level of play. Rampaging Ferocidon has already dropped in price from an average of $4 to as low as 75 cents from one online retailer

WOTC gave the following three reasons for the banning:

  1. The length of time for which these decks have been dominant—as long as five months or more depending on how one categorizes different energy variants.
  2. The Standard rotation did not meaningfully weaken these decks or result in new decks that are competitive with them.
  3. Despite the metagame having many months to adapt to these decks, counterplay options have proven insufficient.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Silver Graphic Novel

Below is a press release from Black Planet Publishing touting their new GN series Silver. We will bring in copies of their Free Comic Book Day giveaway to gauge interest but will only stock in if we get an order for it as the track record for independent GNs here is not that great. Let us you if you have an interest in it:

ears ago, Professor Abraham Van Helsing visited Dracula’s castle. Now his descendent, the mysterious vampire hunter Rosalyn Van Helsing, is teaming up with a master thief and his ragtag group of con men for a high stakes heist to rob Europe’s richest vampires. Welcome to the world of Stephan Franck’s SILVER, a globe-trotting graphic novel series that mashes up the world of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula with action, adventure, humor, pulp storytelling and modern sensibilities.

This year, SILVER, is coming to a comic shop near you as a 4-volume set of trade-paperback graphic novels. SILVER writer and artist Stephan Franck tells us more:

SILVER begins 40 years after the events of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. We are in 1930’s New York city, where we meet a new character: conman and master-thief JAMES FINNIGAN. Finn kicks off the story by robbing a children’s charity auction, so clearly, karma-wise, he has some room to grow. The items up for auction are from the Harker family, a surname Dracula fans will immediately recognize. Then, thanks to a strange discovery at the end of Chapter One, a door will open on a new mysterious world of mortal undead danger and fortune untold. That’s too much for a thief like Finnigan to resist.

The adventure that follows is epic and super fun in the great Pulp tradition, but also an awesome opportunity to explore character. To me, con men and vampires are mirror images of one another. They live predatory, solitary lives on the outskirts of things and  don’t engage emotionally like other people do. The mash-up raises interesting questions, like “what does it really mean to feel alive?” Is it just about cheating death for a thousand years, becoming rich beyond your wildest dreams, or is there something more?

Finnegan immediately understands that, to take on the vampires, he will need a specialist. Thanks to Harker’s ledger, he locates a mysterious young woman known as “SLEDGE”, AKA ROSALYND VAN HELSING—the famed professor’s grand-daughter, and last of the Van Helsings.

Sledge carries on the family tradition of ridding the world of the vampire scourge, but it appears that she may have spent a little too much time lurking in cemeteries making sure the dead stay dead, and she’s pretty close to a complete spiritual burnout. She’s not someone easy to access, but eventually warms up to Finn’s scheme. Sparks fly as soon as they meet!

While we uncover a secret world of vampires, and while we have tons of fun with a super gothic/romantic take on DRACULA himself, SILVER is first and foremost a relentless Pulp adventure. The epic set pieces build one after the other, and the cons keep on coming.  

My hope is that some will make you laugh, some will break your heart, some will have you on the edge of your seat, and that all of it will keep you guessing until the very end!

Increased Counterfeiting

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the growth of counterfeiting in the gaming industry.This had been a problem with TCGs ever since the 1990s, with RPGs since the advent of the PDF and now with boardgames, due to the ease of accessing cheap overseas manufacturing.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Terrifics and Dark Nights Rising: The Wild Hunt

For you comic fans, we received the following press releases from DC:

THE TERRIFICS #1 features art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado with a story by Jeff Lemire and a cover by Reis!
Bound together by fate, united by the spirit of exploration and hope for tomorrow, the Terrifics bound from the Dark Multiverse of METAL! When Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man and Phantom Girl find themselves literally bound together by a tragic accident, our team of unlikely allies must rely on one another to make their way back home. But a startling revelation on their return trip brings them face to face with a new mystery: where in the universe is Tom Strong? 
Like all debut issues in the New Age of DC Heroes line, THE TERRIFICS #1 features an unprecedented vertical foldout cover. Plus, the back of the foldout cover features a sliver of an illustration of all the new heroes who are joining the DC Universe. Customers who purchase all the #1 issues will be able to assemble the full-size artwork from the foldouts. On sale February 28.

Dark Nights Rising:  The Wild Hunt
The special issue that continues from the pages of the bestselling DARK NIGHTS: METAL has added Grant Morrison to its creative team!

This issue is now written by Scott Snyder, Grant Morrison, James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson, with art by Howard Porter, Doug Mahnke and Jorge Jimenez and a foil-stamped cover by Mahnke. 

The Dark Knights ride through the farthest reaches of the Multiverse to track down the unlikeliest of teams: The Flash, Cyborg, Raven and Detective Chimp. The mission: keep these heroes from completing their desperate quest to save all of existence! Plus, Challengers' Mountain crackles with dark energy that will release an army of the world's worst nightmares into the streets of Gotham City! 

This one-shot also answers the question: Where are the Metal Men? And who is the latest addition to the team? On Sale Feb. 14.

Card Game of the Week: Protested Game

When people think of game protests, the first game that comes to mind is generally Dungeons and Dragons, which had quite a track record of people protesting it during the 1980s and 1990s. More recently, people have protested the racism in Cards Against Humanity. We had a few people protest D&D back in the 1990s but the only other game I ever recall having protested is the one above:  Atlas Games Lunch Money.

Lunch Money is a game of school yard combat. Each player has 15 points and a handful of "Hit"  cards, such as Kick and Punch, to do damage to your opponents. The image on the card is that of a pre-teen girl generally staring angrily at you.

Some years ago, while set up at a convention, I sold a copy of the game to a pair of teenage boys, since the theme of this game typically appeals to teenagers. They took it off and about an hour later, I had an angry mother dragging a con staff member up to the table, wanting to know  if I knew the contents of the game I was selling and why I was selling something that her 5 year old daughter was watching people play. The staff member and  I finally managed to point out to her that:  1. It was a card game and 2. we had no control over what her daughter did. Somewhat mollified, she finally left with the staff member and I heard no more about it. Still, that and D&D are the only two instances of protested games we have had. So, if you want the opportunity to own a protested game and don't want to go the Cards Against Humanity route, I recommend Lunch Money.

Monday, January 8, 2018


This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at some of the activities the Game Manufacturer's Association performs 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

What A Long Strange Fantasy Trip It's Been

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the return of Metagaming's The Fantasy Trip, probably later this year