Thursday, October 30, 2014

Magic Discount Change

We learned from WOTC yesterday that we will see 2% increase in the price that the company charges us for Magic. The MSRP of $3.99 will remain the same however. What it  means is that stores selling Magic will earn about 4 cents a pack less. Usually, whenever a business has a price increase for its goods, it passes the price increase along to its customers. However, since WOTC has cut the discount rather than increasing the price per pack, which last changed from $3.69 to $3.99 back in 2006, stores, including us, will not be able to increase the price per pack. 

Magic pricing is so competitive, especially among online stores, that it would be almost impossible for any store to raise the price of Magic boosters above MSRP. This means that stores will have to absorb the drop in discount and the subsequent drop in gross margin, meaning lower profits and somewhat less money to invest in the business.You are likely to see marginal stores that focus heavily on selling discounted Magic eventually close as they will earn less profit to allow them to keep the store open.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Asmodee Release Dates

For those who are fans of Asmodee products, here are release and restock dates:

Distribution Release  (Wed, November 5th ,2014)
7 Wonders Babel Expansion
Distribution Release  (Wed, November 12th ,2014)
Claustrophobia- Furor Sanguinis
Distribution Release  (Wed, November 19th ,2014)
Cyclades  Titans
Distribution Release  (Wed, November 19th ,2014)
Distribution Release  (Wed, November 26th ,2014)
Colt Express
Distribution Release  (Wed, November 26th ,2014)
Distribution Release  (Wed, November 26th ,2014)
Werewolves- Le Pacte



Key Restocks This Month:

Comments *
Case Pack

Formula D
Restock November 1st
Restock November 1st
Sherlock Holmes
Restock November 10th

Monday, October 27, 2014

Retailing's Dirty Little Secret

Retailing has a dirty little secret. Want to know what it is? Incline your head this way and keep it just between us. Ready? Here it is:

Retailers pay less for products than we sell them for. 

Every retailer does this, even the stores that sell products at deep discounts on line. We have to.  It is how we stay in business. Next time you go into Wal-mart or Macys or Toys R Us, take a look around. See all those products on the shelf, at least those marked at regular price, not on sale or on clearance? The store bought each and every one of them for less than the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) marked on them (well, except for loss leaders but that’s a subject for another column). I worked for Wal-mart for about ten years during my wayward youth and the difference between the price we charged and the price we paid for a product could vary widely. For example, a tube of toothpaste the store sold for $2.99 was often purchased for $2.91. A sack of dog food we bought for $18.40 sold for $20. Meanwhile, a sweater we purchased for $10 could often sell for $30 while candles that sold for $1 would only cost the store 10 cents. Wal-mart’s costs for products vary widely across the board but work out to an average 25% gross margin, that is, the average percentage difference between what the company pays for a product and how much it charges for it.

Similarly, the next time you go into your FLGS, look around. The store paid less for everything in the store than it charges for them. We have to do this in order to afford to provide basic and advanced services to you, our customers. That salesperson who answers your questions and explains the difference between Power Grid and Puerto Rico or who can discuss every volume of The Walking Dead doesn’t do it for free. They have (and want) to earn a decent wage. Carrying an inventory to peruse comes at a cost. The lights over-head so that people can see, the heating and air conditioning to keep people comfortable, the table space to play games at, the chairs in which to read your books, the WiFi the store provides, the bathrooms, even the co-ordination of Friday Night Magic, Yu Gi Oh Sneak Peeks, Free Comic Books Day and FFG Store Championships all have some cost that gets paid for out of the difference between what we pay for a product and what we sell it for. Unless they have a second job, the store owner pays themselves out of that profit. Most make less than the average American’s income and work more hours too.

So, yeah, if you come into a store wanting to sell cards, or comics or video games or what have you, we will not give you the amount for which we will sell it because Retailers pay less for products than we sell them for.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Some information on Hyperboria from Asmodee:

Hyperborea SKU: HYB01US; MSRP: $ 99.99 USD; Distribution Release Date: November 5, 2014.
Hyperborea uses an all-new “bag-building” mechanic that simulates the depth of a civilization game in a much shorter play time. Your bag will contain the cubes you need to develop your nation from a fledgling upstart to a mighty civilization.
  • All the flavor of a civilization game – but faster.
  • Massive replay value.
  • Beautiful illustrations and miniatures.
  • Innovative “bag-building” mechanic.

Monday, October 20, 2014

How To Sell Me Your Game

Looking through Game Trade Magazine, I count about 37 pages of upcoming games. Meeple Monthly has a similar number of new products vying for my attention and limited cash flow. Let’s not get started on Diamond Previews, which offers new release products by the pound. Daily I get emails from distributors and game and comic publishers, all trying to convince me to buy their game. In most cases they fail. Here is how to sell me a game, a comic, a book, an action figure, a puppy or anything else. People have used this process so many times over the years that it has acquired its own acronym:  AIDA. Now, AIDA is a simple process but, just like anything else, it provides results only as good as the amount of work you will put into it. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

Attention—Everything starts with getting attention for your product. You have to get people to notice you. Sending out an email with an attention getting line, taking the time to call up a store on the phone, send them a piece of (gasp) paper mail or highlight your offering in GTM or Meeple Monthly or Previews with a color background. Do something to call my attention to your product. Taping a $50 bill to it certainly will but so will an eye-catching picture. I have become quite bemused with the number of companies looking at Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, not as fund raising platforms but as promotional platforms. I am not a big fan of Kickstarter as a retailer but am finding many publishers using it to promote their games.

Interest—Great! You caught my attention. Now, hopefully, you have done some research to figure out if your product will catch my interest. If my online presence says I sell tabletop games and comics, I am probably not a good candidate for jewelry but I might be interested in disc golf supplies or boffer swords. I am likely very interested in new items that fit well in my market category, will turn well and have at least an average margin. Pitch me something that doesn’t meet those criteria and my interest drops rapidly.

Desire—OK, your really cool game now has my interest. Maybe it is the way you described game play, maybe it is the number of customers I have suddenly had asking for it, maybe it fits a niche in my product mix, maybe it is the discount you are offering. Now you want me to want your game. You want to make it as easy as possible for me to carry your game or comic, either by getting it listed with several distributors (sorry, but going exclusive with one distributor is a really BAD idea until you have developed demand for your product. Very few companies start off as WizKids or Mayfair) or by making it easy for me to order from you with a low minimum order or reasonable (or free) freight charges and a promise of a quick shipping turnaround. Expecting me to spend $500 on an order or to buy six cases of your untried game will quickly kill my desire to order it. Yes, I realize you have to make money but so do I. To keep me desirous of buying your product, give me as few opportunities to say “No” as you possibly can.

Action—This is the result for which you have worked. I have pulled the trigger, put the order in with you or with a distributor. Now, follow through. If the product is as hot as you have said, do you have any on hand to handle the re-orders or will I have to wait months for a second shipment to arrive (Cough, WizKids, Fantasy Flight Games, Cough)? Popular games with a following can survive months of out-of stocks (Both Pandemic and Betrayal at House on the Hill have) but your new product does not have that base of support on which to rely. Keep me informed about restocks, new releases, promotional opportunities and I will buy from you again.
That’s it. AIDA has worked for centuries. Companies use it at the GAMA Trade Show, GenCon, San Diego Comic Con, as well as the local restaurant or haberdasher down the block. AIDA is easy to describe. Like almost everything, the implementation is the hard part.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Coming Soon:

Candyland: 65th Anniversary Edition
$15.95 SRP

Celebrating over 65 years of great family fun, this classic edition of Candy Land features the charming graphics and components from the game’s early days. Candy Land was created in the 1940’s and has been a favorite “first” game of children ever since. Millions of young children have learned how to recognize colors, practice counting and acquire the skills of taking turns and following directions, all with the help of this delightful game. This simple, race-to-the-finish game, is a rite of passage for all children.

In 2005, the game was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong Museum in Rochester, New York. This edition of Candy Land will bring back fond memories of Gumdrop Mountains, Candy Hearts, the Peppermint Stick Forest, Lollypop Woods, Ice Cream Floats, the Gingerbread Plum Tree, the Crooked Old Peanut Brittle House and Molasses Swamp.

Your favorite Gingerbread Men movers are included, along with the traditional deck of colorful cards, which guide each move. The first player to wind their way to the pink-frosted Home Sweet Home wins the game! Playing Time

Ages 4+
2-4 players
15-20 minute play time

1 Bi-fold, heavy duty game board
4 plastic gingerbread men movers
A deck of 64 cards
Instructions that includes “The Story of Candy Land”

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fantasy Flight Games Update

For you FFG fans out there, here is the latest on new releases and reprints:

New Releases:

ADN20 Android Netrunner LCG: All That Remains
MEC30 Lord of the Rings LCG: Celebrimbor’s Secret
DH22 Dark Heresy 2nd Edition: Forgotten Gods


RT01 Rogue Trader RPG
SWA03 Star Wars Age of Rebellion RPG: GM’s Kit
WHD01 Warhammer Diskwars
ADN08 Android Netrunner LCG: Creation and Control
MAD01 Mansions of Madness
GW01 Chaos in the Old World
MEC01 Lord of the Rings LCG
SWE01 Star Wars Edge of the Empire Beginner’s Box
SWE02 Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG
DJ03 Descent 2nd Edition: Lair of the Wyrm
MEC02 Lord of the Rings LCG: The Hunt for Gollum
MEC03 Lord of the Rings LCG: Conflict at the Carrock
MEC04 Lord of the Rings LCG: A Journey to Rhosgobel
MEC05 Lord of the Rings LCG: The Hills of Emyn Muil
MEC06 Lord of the Rings LCG: The Dead Marshes
MEC07 Lord of the Rings LCG: Return to Mirkwood

Monday, October 13, 2014

We Expect Customized Goods and Services at Commodity Prices.

I have picked up the habit of posting a weeklong series of quotes from the same person on my personal Facebook page, one quote per day. Last week’s quotable person was Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury during the Clinton Administration and currently head of the Hamilton Project, an economic policy think tank (as if we need another one of those). However , one of those quotes struck a chord with some  people in the industry, enough so that Gary Ray of Black Diamond Games borrowed it as the basis for a post on his Quest for Fun blog and I liked enough that I am stealing it back for this week’s column.

The quote in question from Dr. Rubin is this:  “All of us as consumers have gotten spoiled... We expect customized goods and services at commodity prices.”

Yes we do, and while this is great for consumers, for retailers it causes a monumental headache. Why? Allow me to explain but first we need to discuss what a commodity is.

Simply put, a commodity is any product that can only be differentiated by price. Take bananas as an example. One Cavendish banana (those are the long yellow bananas you find in every grocery store in America. There are hundreds of other varieties of bananas but you won’t find them in any mass market store) looks pretty much like any other Cavendish. It peels the same, feels the same and tastes the same. If I showed you one I bought at Wal-mart and one I bought at Kroger, you couldn’t tell the difference. The only difference is whether I paid 59 cents a pound at Kroger or 54 cents a pound at Wal-mart.

In a similar vein, games (and yes, comics) are commodities too. If I show you a copy of the FUDGE RPG,  or Roll For It or a Warmachine starter army or even a copy of Harley Quinn #6, unless there is a price sticker on it, you would be hard pressed to tell if it came from Barnes & Noble or Amazon or your Friendly Local Game Store. Although each is a unique product, there is nothing to differentiate any copy of Roll for It from any other copy. They are not one of a kind items, such as you might find at a crafter on Etsy or selling at your local farmer’s market or even your local bakery. They are commodities and the price can be affected by Barnes & Nobles’ economics of scale (economies of scale means simply that the more you make or sell of an item, the cheaper it becomes to produce) or Amazon’s combination of economies of scale and willingness to lose money since the day it opened or your FLGS’ lack of either.

The local game store (or comic shop) just does not have the size or capital behind it to compete on price on commoditized items. It’s futile to try to compete head to head with Amazon or Wal-mart, though the two of them may start competing against each other much more visibly, especially if Amazon starts opening physical locations as it has announced it will. So if local stores cannot compete on price, what do they compete on?

Same things we always have, the other 3 Ps. The customer can walk into a store on impulse and find a Magic card or a copy of Dark Heresy or a copy of Love Letter or other non-mainstream game (or comic) and walk out with it that day and play it that night. Though some online retailers are working on it, same-day delivery is still costly. At the FLGS, it is free. The customer can also find staff who know the games (and comics) and who are willing to discuss the finer points of Pokemon deck construction or X-men continuity. You won’t find that at Wal-mart or Barnes & Noble or Amazon. The key is showing the customer that, in order to do this, the FLGS cannot afford to compete on price but competes, and is far superior, in other areas.