Monday, December 28, 2015

Krosmaster Goes to CoolMiniOrNot

Sitting here after a surprisingly busy Boxing Day, I starting scanning gaming news and just in time for Christmas, Ankama Products, publisher of the Krosmaster Arena line of games, announced that, starting next year, CoolMiniOrNot will take over distribution of the line from its current distributor, Japanime Games.  What does this mean for the industry and consumers? Speaking as someone in the industry but without any additional information, here’s how I see things shaking out:

Japanime Games—Comes out the worst. Based on the number of posts on the company’s Facebook page, the main focus of Japanime Games was the Krosmaster line. Japanime retains the rights to distribute already existing Krosmaster products but any new ones will come from CoolMiniOrNot. The company has three other product lines:  Tanto Cuore, Kanzume Goddess and Player’s Choice card sleeves. Despite having been in production for several years, Tanto Cuore only three sets available, with Oktoberfest scheduled for 2016. Kanzume Goddess, released in 2012 and positioned as a trading card game, has never seen any expansions released, leaving the Player’s Choice line of sleeves as the most active line of the company. According to additional posts on the company’s Facebook page, Japanime will use Kickstarter to fund additional expansions to Tanto Curore as several other games including Heart of Crown and Gods’ Gambit. It looks as if Japanime plans for a pretty active 2016, especially later in the year.

CoolMiniOrNot—Adds Krosmaster Arena to an already strong selection of boardgames with expansion capabilities built in to the system. Already the home of Zombiside, Rivet Wars, and Kaos Ball, among others, the comparatively expensive Krosmaster Arena and its expansion kits will mesh well with CoolMiniOrNots existing lines of premium priced games and expansions. Since CoolMiniOrNot relies heavily on Kickstarter funding to fund the launches of new products and Japanime Games used crowdfunding to fund Krosmaster Arena and the Frigost expansion, as well as the delayed Krosmaster:  Quest game. No indication so far if CoolMiniOrNot will distribute the Krosmaster:  Quest game or not.

Customers—Given CoolMiniOrNot’s propensity to launch a Kickstarter campaign for nearly every product the company releases, expect to see an increased number of campaigns for new Krosmaster products as the agreement between CoolMiniOrNot and Ankama Products moves forward. Customers willing to back the Kickstarted production runs will gain access to a larger number of promotional and limited edition figures as part of the Kickstarter, than were offered with the release of a Krosmaster product under Japanime Games. The tradeoff is that customers will likely find it harder to locate Krosmaster products in their local game stores as the bonuses typically attached by manufacturers to a crowdfunded product push those customers most interested in the product line to back the product in order to get the add-ons and promos, which as CoolMiniOrNot notes on its website are “Not available at retail”.

Stores—Expect them to carry less in the way of Krosmaster products. As noted earlier, Krosmaster is a premium priced product, making it a good fit for CoolMiniOrNot. However, this also means stocking a decent selection of Krosmaster products ties up quite a bit of capital. Given that CoolMiniOrNot’s business model involves driving consumer pre-orders and pre-payment, most sales of new product will go to the company, leaving much less potential profit for the store and likely a focus by the store on a different, more profitable product line.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Hours

Over the next few days, our hours will change somewhat.  December 23 we will have regular hours. December 24 we will open 10 a.m. to 10:30 pm. Christmas Day, we will open at 4 p.m. and remain open until 9 p.m. with Friday Night Magic if at least 8 people show up.  Boxing Day, Saturday Dec. 26 we will return to regular hours.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Changes Coming to Asmodee, Days of Wonder and Fantasy Flight Games

The big news that hit the game industry last week was the announcement by Asmodee that the company will become Asmodee North America and will offer Asmodee, Days of Wonder and Fantasy Flight Games products under the new structure. The reason for the change as given by new CEO Christian Peterson:
“The marketplace has long been distorted by providing one-size-fits-all sales terms to every retail account, regardless of its channel of sale. The growth in demand for games over the last decade, in our view, has been fueled not only by fantastic product, but by the support of specialty retailers who incubate personal connections between players, facilitate tournaments and leagues, provide instant product availability, and increasingly provide a ‘third place’ that is instrumental for so many gamers to enjoy and discover our products. The retailer cost of providing such channel services is significant, and so we’re now making policy changes to ensure that the sales terms provided to those retailers, relative to other channels, are positively reflective of the value they add to our distribution chain.
If everything goes according to Asmodee NA’s expectations , all of the changes planned by the “new” company  should go into effect by April 1st and there are some fairly major ones, most of which will affect the channels of distribution. However, one will have significant impact on the consumer

Changes affecting the channel—The three companies will remain independent in terms of product, however distribution will consolidate, starting January 1st .  This means that Alliance will no longer have exclusive distribution rights to the Days of Wonder line of products, which include Ticket to Ride and Small World. At the same time, Asmodee NA will reduce its distribution partners to 5:  Alliance Distribution, ACD, PHD, GTS and Southern Hobby. This means that distributors such as Aladdin, E-figures and Mad Al’s, among others, will no longer stock the Asmodee NA product lines and retailers wanting to carry them will have to have an account with one of the five authorized distributors.
A second major change affecting the channel is, instead of raising the price on the combined company’s products, discounts on products across the line will drop to 45%, reducing the margin of gross profit anywhere from 3 to 5 %. Much as with WOTC’s reduction in margin earlier this year, this reduction comes straight out of the gross margin of distributors and retailers. It remains to be seen what Asmodee NA does with the extra percentage.

Changes affecting the consumer—One major change in Asmodee NA’s operations that will directly affect the consumer is a new requirement that any retailer wanting to sell Asmodee NA’s products must sign an independent retailer agreement before the retailer can purchase any Asmodee NA products. There are several items in this agreement but the main one that appears to affect consumers is that retailers, unless they have a separate agreement with Asmodee NA, can no longer sell any Asmodee NA products online. Only retailers that have an agreement with Asmodee NA to sell online will be able to do so and I would imagine this agreement will have some restrictions on MAP (minimum advertised pricing). This means, for example, a lot fewer online sources selling FFG’s Star Wars Imperial Assault for $65, 35% off the MSRP.

These are the major changes planned by Asmodee NA. What actually happens we will know after April 1st

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Party Dec. 20th

Hope you can make it to our annual Christmas Party on December 20th:

Southern Illinois SteamPunk Society on site

Christmas Raffle Drawing @ 5:00 p.m. Get a ticket for the drawing for coming in, one if you are a Preferred Customer, 1 for each 10 cans of food, one for each stamp you get on your Castle Card, 1 for each action figure you purchase.

Matt Miller from Capybara Ink in the store!, 2 to 6 p.m.

Hot Cider and Cookies throughout the day!
In-Store Specials…
12:00 p.m.—6:00 p.m.

Monday, December 14, 2015

March Fantasy Flight Games Releases

Here's what to expect from FFG next March:

March 2016 Releases:

ADN35Android Netrunner LCG: Fear the Masses$14.95
GT08A Game of Thrones LCG 2nd Edition: Wolves of the North$29.95
HBO10HBO Game of Thrones: The Trivia Game$39.95
MEC49Lord of the Rings LCG: The Thing in the Depths$14.95
NAD07Android: Monster Slayer Novella$14.95
NAD08Android: Monitor Novella$14.95
SL17Elder Sign: Omens of Ice$24.95
SWE14Star Wars: Edge of the Empire: Special Modifications: A Soucebook for Technicians$29.95
SWX52Star Wars: X-Wing: Imperial Veterans$29.95
TM16Talisman: The Cataclysm$49.95
WHK15Warhammer 40,000: Conquest LCG: Legions of Death$29.95
WHK14Warhammer 40,000: Conquest LCG: The Final Gambit$14.95

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Castle Perilous Games & Books Stocking Stuffer of the Season

This year's Stocking Stuffer of the Season is AEG's Love Letter. There are several reasons for its selection this year:

1. Size:   Love Letter comes in either clamshell packaging or a small box, either of which wrap up nicely to fit in a stocking.

2. Price:  At $9.99 for most versions, Love Letter meets the $10 price point that many people look for in a stocking stuffer

3.  Playability:  Love Letter, in all its variants, is one of our best selling games and an award winner to boot. The reason for that is how quickly the game plays and how much fun it is.

For these reasons, Castle Perilous Games and Books happily selects Love Letter as our Stocking Stuffer of the Season.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ticket to Ride United Kingdom

It would have been nice to have this out, oh say a month ago, so that we could have had it on the shelves in plenty of time for Christmas

Monday, December 7, 2015

Top 5 Games for Christmas

Based on our sales for 2015, these are 5 most popular games, in terms of numbers sold, for 2015. The list includes both board and card game, but no collectible ones:

1.  Cards Against Humanity--Cards Against Humanity LLC  "A Party Game for Horrible People"
2. Catan (and expansions)--Mayfair Games  The game of exploring and developing the land of Catan.
3.  Munchkin (and expansions)--Steve Jackson Games  "Kick down the door, kill the monster, steal its treasure."
4..Ticket to Ride--Days of Wonder  Collect the cards to build the tracks you need to win.
5.  The Resistance--Indie Boards and Cards  Uncover the spies among you before they sabotage your mission.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Best Social Media Platform

Facebook has proven the most useful social media platform in terms of growing our business, simply because of its ubiquity.We have found that all of our customers have Facebook accounts and check them regularly, unlike other media such as Twitter or Vine. Additionally, Facebook make it extremely easy for us to send out a quick promotion to our customers: create the promotion, post it and hit the "Boost Post" button and within a few minutes, we see engagement.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Black Friday Specials

These specials are good from 4 p.m. Thanksgiving day until 9 p.m. November 27. Quantities may be limited:

AEG Black Box (5 copies) and Boss Monster 2 Limited Edition (4 copies)

Magic Booster Bundles (8 bundles) $10 to $25

Games Workshop Age of Sigmar (7 copies) $65

Discontinued GW paints:  Buy one, get one free.

Yu Gi Oh, Magic and Pokemon $1 rares, 50 cent uncommons and 10 commons:  Buy 1 get one free (Boxes only, no cards in binders)

DVDs  Buy one, get one of lesser value at half off

Graphic novels and manga, buy one get one of lesser value at half off (New releases not included)

Pathfinder RPG materials Buy one get one of lesser value at half off (New Releases not included)

Used RPGs and boardgames:  Buy One get one of lesser value at half off

DiceMaster Boosters Buy 1 get 1 free

HeroClix  Gravity Feed Packs  Buy 1 Get one Free

Mayfair Games Boardgames Buy 1 get 1 at half off (excepting Catan and Supplements)

Monday, November 23, 2015


As is our annual Thanksgiving tradition, the store will set up at Chambanacon this year, November 27 through 29. Due to hotel availability, the con has moved from its long time home in Champaign-Urbana to nearby Bloomington-Normal. At least it maintains the tradition of locating in hyphenated towns.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Greg Leeds Inteview

ICV2 has an interesting interview with Greg, Leeds, CEO of WOTC. One point  I found striking was the planned emphasis n digital products for Dungeons & Dragons, as opposed to more print products. Given that Paizo puts out more products for Pathfinder in a month than WOTC has since the release of 5th edition.

High Magic

The High Magic set for the My Little Pony TCG arrives today, although we will not receive Theme Decks until next week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Kudos to WizKids

WizKids, a couple of weeks ago, announced a change in HeroClix initial order policies that should benefit brick and mortar retailers and customers at large as it will make HeroClix more widely available.

The announced change limits initial orders, starting with the Superman/Wonder Woman set, of HeroClix bricks and gravity feed displays to 50 of each per account, subject to change on a case by case basis. What this means, from what I understand, is that, in general, that no store will be able to order, per location, more than 25 cases, 2 bricks per case, of a HeroClix release at the initial release. WizKids, I think, hopes by doing this to alleviate the chronic shortages that typically accompany the initial release of any new HeroClix set.

The problem comes from the long lead times required for each HeroClix set and the comparatively short pre-order window that retailers have for a new set. WizKids typically sets production runs for a new release a year before the set actually hits the street. Retailers, however, whether online only, brick and mortar or a hybrid operation, put their initial orders in 2-3 months ahead of the release date. WizKids, essentially, is flying blind on setting its production runs for a new set, having to put orders in with its manufacturers in southeast Asia 9 to 10 months before ever seeing an order from a retailer. WizKids could alleviate this problem by soliciting orders for new sets a year before the product line releases, but very few specialty game retailers are willing to commit to pre-ordering merchandise a year before it releases, a common problem with retailer Kickstarter offers as well. WizKids has been increasing production runs on new sets each time they put in an order for a new one, but the company’s increased quantities still has not met up with demand, meaning allocations and shortages when a new set releases.

By limiting quantities orderable on the initial release, WizKids expects to have more product available on the initial release and to be able to more widely spread the initial shipments of product  throughout the channel. Most stores within the hobby channel, especially those that offer Orgainzed Play, which as I pointed out last week has become a much more important component of the collectable gaming segment of the industry, do not order 50 bricks of a new HeroClix release at initial order, at least not per store for multi-store operations, it is the online operations, with nationwide sales reach but without an Organized Play component of their operation, that ordered massive quantities of a new release, often breaking open large numbers to satisfy single figure demands then selling the remaining boosters at deep discounts. By limiting the number of bricks and gravity feeds available to accounts on initial, WizKids should be able spread out the available initial shipment among all accounts wanting the product and thus making more of the set available initially to the local customer base, meaning local customers should have greater access to the new set of HeroClix in their LGs.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Importance of OP to Stores and Manufacturers

Durring the recent FFG X-Wing World Championships Twitch commentary, a problem cropped up that probably only bothered the LGS (Local Game Store). A pair of FFG employees, while discussing the play and responding to comments from fans, comment that the core game can be purchased pretty cheaply on Amazon. Granted, it was only a 6 second comment but statements like that are a red flag to retailers and to FFG’s credit, several other employees spoke to them about the comments soon after they were made.

Here’s why comments like this bother brick and mortar stores so much, not just from FFG but from any manufacturer. If you are a manufacturer with Organized Play as a component of your marketing plan, such as WOTC, Konami, FFG, Iello, etc., that Organized Play takes place in brick and mortar stores. Last time I checked Amazon doesn’t run OP and Wal-mart and Target stopped doing it when Pokemon cratered during the 90s. It is the brick and mortar specialty stores that put time and effort into building a strong OP program and to have manufacturers send customers to stores that don’t support your OP model doesn’t benefit either of us.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Problem with the B4Z Gift Box

If you happen to have a Battle for Zendikar Gift Box  handy, take a look at it. Nice and sturdy.  WOTC spent some extra design time on it to make certain of a sturdy design, even dropping the box from a height of several feet to make sure it could withstand a fall. That’s not the problem.  The problem is on the back. Specifically on the back where the box lithograph shows a picture of the box contents. You’ve got the box, empty but able to hold over 2000 cards, card dividers, stickers for customizing the dividers, an alternate art card, 5 booster packs of Battle for Zendikar and a stack of 20 basic lands.  There’s the rub. The top card of the stack of lands is a full art forest card. However, the lands included in the box are not. The only full art land cards included in the Gift Box are those that might come inside one of the booster packs.

However, the problem is that the stack of lands shown is topped with a full art card. The Battle for Zendikar Fat Pack came with 80 full art land cards, a major reason they sold out so quickly and at such high prices. Given both those factors, it is reasonable for the customer, and the store, to expect that the Gift Boxes come with 20 full art land cards. After all, WOTC did put a disclaimer on the back of the box that the 2000+ cards shown in the Gift Box were there for “illustrative purpose only”. Certainly WOTC could have included a similar disclaimer about the lands, or even better, just used a picture of standard land cards instead. Happily, our store and a number of others found out about it in time to warn customers but I know of a few stores that did not and told their customers that  “Yes, they do have the full art lands”, a perfectly reasonable assumption given the evidence.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Power of Publicity

The hobby or specialty game industry is a comparatively small market. I would be willing to bet that the entire industry’s annual sales only amount to a small percentage of Wal-mart’s or Amazon’s sales, meaning that news in our industry does not matter much to those who don’t play hobby games. The trick, in order to get people in the greater market and the news media to pay attention to your news is to tie it to their interests or to tie it to a more “newsworthy” event, and unfortunately, while the release of Battle for Zendikar and the Zendikar Expeditions cards were very important to those within our industry, it caused barely a ripple in the wider world.

This means looking for events that the general public has an interest in and finding a novel way to tie your product or business to it. I have managed to get invited to appear on the local morning news twice this year but not because of any of the games or comics that we sell. Heck even Free Comic Book Day and Free RPG Day didn’t warrant a mention in the local news, except in the event listings of the local entertainment paper. What did get attention was our embrace of National Pi Day (March 14)with an offer of free pie to customers coming in and our Haunted Carbondale tours in October. Both were only tangential to the store focus but they did get the store’s name out there and brought in a number of customers. Publicity works, unfortunately moreso than advertising in today’s market.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Shadows over Innistrad

Not my favorite way to celebrate Halloween with a headache and an upset stomach, but still, when you own a small business, it is rather hard to call in sick. Still I am luckier than other store owners I know, who run their operations with just themselves and one or two part time workers. It raises hob for them when they get sick.

Rather appropriately for Halloween, WOTC let drop the name of the next block of Magic, coming next April:  Shadows over Innistrad. While a return to the Innistrad setting is quite welcome and I am certain we will sell quite a lot of the set, I do have a couple of quibbles. 

1)      Spring is a less than appropriate time for the release of a Gothic Themed set. Fall is when the customer’s mindset turns to things dark and scary. While making the announcement on Halloween was indeed appropriate, though not good timing from a public relations viewpoint, having the set come out in fall would have suited the season and setting more.

2)      While I understand WOTC wanting to use the Grand Prix Indianapolis tournament as a backdrop for the announcement, generating excitement among players at the event, doing so violates the basic rules of public relations.  You don’t release big news on a weekend and you don’t release big news on a holiday. The Shadows Over Innistrad announcement violates both of those. Still though, I am talking about it so a Saturday holiday announcement obviously didn’t hurt the news release that much.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Horus Heresy

Some information on Games Workshop's upcoming Horus Heresy game:

Games Workshop is proud to introduce You to Horus Heresy – The Betrayal at Calth. A brand new board game based on the New York Times bestsellers book range – Horus Heresy. The Horus Heresy series tell the history of Warhammer 40.000. This exciting board game sees Brothers fight Brothers beneath the surface of a dying world. The corrupt Word Bearers try to blow up a sun. If they succeed they will destroy a whole star system with several Ultramarine controlled planets.

Betrayal at Calth is a standalone board game with lots of Horus Heresy miniatures that can also be used in a regular Warhammer 40.000 game. Previously you could only get resin Horus Heresy miniatures via ForgeWorld. This is the very first time that people will be able to get plastic Horus Heresy miniatures and now they will also be able to get them in Your store!

The new Horus Heresy miniatures will be fully compatible with our existing Space Marine ranges. The miniatures can be modelled with lots of different options and poses. The box is full with extra bits. Any bits not used for the new Horus Heresy troops, can be used with other Space Marine products.

The miniatures do not have any legion specific markings and therefore they can be used with a wide range of different Space Marine chapters. The box comes with transfer sheets for Ultramarines and Word Bearers, however your customers can also paint the miniatures as another chapter. Your customers will want to buy multiple boxes to build Horus Heresy armies.

The game can be played with 2 and more players. Your customers can combine several games to create an even bigger board game.

 Start selling 14th of November

Box Contents:
30x Tactical Space Marines in MK IV Maximus Power Armour
5x Cataphractii Terminators
1x Sor Gharax Contemptor with Lascannon, Melta, Assault Cannon and CCW
1x Captain Aethon; Exclusive new miniature, Ultramarines, Cataphraktii Terminator Armour
1x Kurtha Sedd; Exclusive new miniature, Word Bearers
48-pages Rulebook containing 6 exciting Scenarios
12 Dice, Unique!
Ultramarines + Word Bearers transfer sheet
Command Decks, Reference cards, 42 playing cards
4-piece hex-board
49pp rulebook
Available in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Celebration

Join us for a daylong celebration of Halloween. Get a free comic for coming in, 1 more if in costume, 1 if a Preferred Customer and 1 for each 2 back issues you purchase (pulls and this week's titles do not count). Trick or Treat on Main Street from noon to 2. Evening Trick or Treating from 5 to 8 p.m.

Meet the So Il Roller Girls and Southern Illinois Steampunk Society.
Pet a dog from the Humane Society of Southern Illinois
Get a Tarot reading from the Society for Esoteric Philosophy from  11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Get a sketch from Matt Miller of Capybara Ink from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Participate in our annual Halloween Party Drawing. Get one ticket for you, one if your are in costume, 1 if you are a prefered customer, one for each stamp earned on your Castle Card today and one for each 5 cans of food brought for the Carbondale Food Pantry. Drawing will take place at 8:30. Must be present to win.

We will donate 5% of today's sales to the Humane Society of Jackson County.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Protection to the Max

Most game stores have carried the Max Protection line and most gamers are familiar with the line, although often not in a positive way, as Max Protection had some serious production issues years ago and the memory of those problems still lingers in long time players’ minds. However,  I had noticed the quality of Max Protection sleeves improving  markedly in the past few years, so when I ran into Glenn Goddard, who I had not seen since his years with Wargames West and now works for Max Protection, at September’s Alliance Open House, I asked him about the previous perception of the product line and to compare it with the company’s products now. Goddard not only kindly provided with a comparison between the two but also a brief history of the company as well.

Max Protection’s roots are in a company named PKK, founded in 1989 by Patrick Kwan Sr. and Jr. Both Kwans were avid sports fans and collectors and launched PKK to satisfy what they saw as an underserved niche in the collectables market. When Magic, and later Pokemon, hit the market, PKK branched out to provide protection supplies to those collectors, introducing, according to Goddard, the first “penny sleeves”, the first deck box and the first colored sleeves. In 1999, a competing company bought out PKK but, when the buying company later went bankrupt a few years later, PKK returned to the Kwan’s control. Deciding to continue the company’s direction but under a new name, it relaunched as Max Protection in 2003 and quickly found renewed success with its image sleeves, the first company to release sleeves with pictures on the back of the sleeve, rather than a clear or solid color back.

Unfortunately, the release of “holo-foil” image sleeves in 2004 provided what Goddard calls a “Domino’s moment” for the company as the new sleeves, while impressive to look at, proved less durable for regular play and the images has serious peeling problems, coming off the sleeves after only a few games. Though players loved the idea of the images, Max Protection developed a reputation for poor quality, especially among tournament players, that persists to this day. Players abandoned the company’s products in droves, opting instead for image back sleeves from other companies that had entered the market. As Max Protection found out, once you lose a reputation, it can take years to recover it. That is just what the company has worked on for much of the past decade.

Max Protection invested significantly in both product development and licensing, developing their higher quality Shuffle –Tech sleeves and their Premium Packs combining a hard plastic deck box, 100 Single Colored Large Sleeves with 100 Perfect Fit sleeves all for the same price 100 sleeves by other companies in a paper box. In addition the company has secured licenses for both Bruce Lee and The Princess Bride and had produced sleeves and boxes featuring both licenses. In addition, the company entered into an agreement with Alter Reality Games to sponsor their ARG Circuit Series, generating more positive responses from customers as tournament players used the new sleeves and spoke favorably of them, resulting in increased market share for MP.

My store cutback severely on MP products after the 2004 problems but have slowly added them back to our product mix over the past decade. We have found some slight resistance but most players either don’t remember the problems with the holo-image sleeves or have entered the hobby since then and know nothing about it. Either way, I am happy to see the company doing well.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thunderbirds Are Go

Calling International Rescue!
Fireflash, the hypersonic airliner, has a bomb in the landing gear! The runaway Crablogger is out of control!
The world of 2065 is full of technological marvels, but when things go wrong and life is in danger, only the International Rescue team and their incredible Thunderbird machines can save the day. While in the shadows, their nemesis, the mysterious Hood plots his next evil scheme.
In the Thunderbirds Co-operative Board Game, 1-4 players act together as the International Rescue team against the Hood, represented by the game's mechanics. To win the game you take command of the iconic Thunderbird machines and play together to avert deadly disasters in the nick of time and thwart The Hood's plans for world domination.
The exciting gameplay takes place in Gerry Anderson's amazing Thunderbirds universe and features events from classic episodes of the TV show, as well as new approved content. The game contains models of six Thunderbird machines, as well as individual character models of the Tracy brothers, Lady Penelope and The Hood. 

Classic Thunderbirds TV show theme with cool minis in a co-operative game by Matt Leacock, the best-selling designer of Pandemic.
-       50 Anniversary official license of the cult classic TV show with tons of cool merchandise             now in stores.
-       Co-operative game - you and your friends win or lose together 
-       Geek Mom & Dad / Massive generational appeal.
-       6 iconic Thunderbirds models, 6 characters pegs (Virgil, Scott, Alan, John, Gordon & Lady         Penelope) plus the Hood villain figure
-       Designed by Matt Leacock (Pandemic, Roll Through The Ages, Forbidden Island)
-       Light rules & captivating family friendly theme with lots of action and strategies
-       4 Expansions due Spring 2016 through Christmas 2016

Arriving Early November, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the show.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Magic Sales Down in 3rd Quarter

For those interested in the business side of the industry, this column makes for a good read. Magic sales were up for the first quarter, largely due to WOTC moving Dragons of Tarkir's release date to March under the company's new release schedule. However, this move reduced Magic sales in the second quarter, since Dragons would normally release in May.

This doesn't explain the drop in Magic sales in the 3rd quarter of the year though, especially since WOTC says Origins is the best summer release the Magic line has ever had.  Quarter 4 should prove an increase over 2014 though, as Battle for Zendikar has proven the most popular Magic release in several years.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

New Osprey

Some of you may remember the gaming stores of the 1980s and early 1990s, when role-playing and wargames ruled the roost and TCGs were just an idea in Richard Garfield's mind. Every store bath then had a spinner rack of Osprey historical reference books. You just weren't a game store without one. While the racks are far less common today (I recently visited 5 game stores in two days with nary an Osprey rack to be found) but Osprey still puts out books on a regular basis such as:

Street Date: October 20th!

Bolt Action: Empires in Flames: The Pacific and the Far East
$29.95 SRP

Far from the battlefields of Europe and North Africa, Allied forces fought a very different war against another foe. From the jungles of Burma to the islands of the Pacific and the shores of Australia, this new Theatre Book for Bolt Action allows players to command the spearhead of the lightning Japanese conquests in the East or to fight tooth and nail as Chindits, US Marines and other Allied troops to halt the advance and drive them back. Scenarios, special rules and new units give players everything they need to recreate the ferocious battles and campaigns of the Far East, from Guadalcanal to Okinawa, from Singapore to the Philippines, Iwo Jima and beyond.

Author: Warlord Games
Illustrator: Peter Dennis

128 pages

Warriors: Fighting Men and their Uniforms
$14.95 SRP

From ancient times to the present day, the world’s finest warriors have been defined by the equipment they use and the uniforms they wear. This splendid collection of artwork illustrates the most famous combatants from all the ages of military history, bringing them to life in stunning color and detail.

From the gleaming plate armor of the Roman Legionaries to the sleek gear of modern special ops forces, from the magnificent attire of Seminole warriors to the special aquatic equipment of the US Navy SEALs - this is the premiere guide to the appearance of history’s 100 Greatest Warriors!

Author: Martin Windrow

320 pages
History of the Panzerwaffe Volume I: 1939-1943
$39.95 SRP

The Germans transformed armored warfare from a lumbering and ponderous experiment in World War I into something that could decide the outcome of conflicts. This technical and operational history is the definitive guide to the legendary Panzerwaffe, from its very infancy to the days when it made Europe its garden path at the height of Nazi German power.

With rare and revealing combat reports, along with photographs sourced from previously unseen private and archival collections, it uncovers the technical and operational stories of the formidable armored beasts that formed the backbone of the German war machine - tanks such as the Panzer I, II and 38(t).

Author: Thomas Anderson

304 pages

First Blitz: Bombing London in the First World War
$19.95 SRP

This book tells the story of Germany’s strategic air offensive against Britain, and how it came to be neutralized. The first Zeppelin attack on London came in May 1915 - and with it came the birth of a new arena of warfare, the ‘home front’. German airships attempted to raid London on 26 separate occasions between May 1915 and October 1917, but only reached the capital and bombed successfully on nine occasions.

From May 1917 onwards, this theatre of war entered a new phase as German Gotha bombers set out to attack London in the first bomber raid. London’s defenses were again overhauled to face this new threat, providing the basis for Britain’s defense during World War II.

This comprehensive volume tells the story of the first aerial campaign in history, as the famed Zeppelins, and then the Gotha and the massive Staaken ‘Giant’ bombers waged war against the civilian population of London in the first ever ‘Blitz’.

Author: Ian Castle

204 pages

Gustaf Mannerheim
$18.95 SRP

Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim is a legendary figure, whose life and career were deeply influential in Finnish and European history. He is viewed by many as the father of modern Finland after leading the ‘White’ faction to victory and independence in the Finnish Civil War of 1918. That conflict preceded a sequence of bitter clashes between Finland, Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany in the buildup to, and during, World War II: The Winter War in 1940, the Continuation War and the Lapland War in 1944-45.

Throughout these fierce clashes in the ice and snow, Mannerheim managed his forces with great skill, even though the initiative was to swing back and forth between the adversaries. This study provides a fascinating insight into Mannerheim’s career, analyzing his traits, his biggest victories and his key enemies.

Complete with uniform artwork and detailed tactical maps, it is a comprehensive guide to one of history’s most capable military leaders and statesmen.

Author: Steven J. Zaloga

64 pages

German Infantryman vs British Infantryman - France 1940
$18.95 SRP

When Hitler’s forces poured into France and the Low Countries in 1940, the uneasy peace of the ‘Phoney War’ was shattered, and Europe was ripped apart by another Blitzkrieg. Forming the backbone of the German advance were the mobile, well-equipped Schützen (Rifles), motorized infantry who embodied the essence of the fluid, swift warfare that had characterized World War II thus far.

Facing them were infantrymen of the British Expeditionary Force, units of considerable fighting quality who had nevertheless received no special training or doctrinal instruction to conduct combined-arms warfare in conjunction with armor.

This study investigates the clash between the two adversaries at small-unit level, recreating the ferocity of the fighting on the front lines of the Battle of France. It assesses the training, organization and unit ethos of both sides in the context of a new type of mobile warfare, and reveals the extraordinary difficulties encountered by infantry units in trying to remain in contact with their armored and mechanized formations.

Drawing on first-hand combat reports and illuminative illustrations, it focuses on three key clashes at Arras, Calais and Merville and goes onto explore the important lessons learned by both sides about the nature of combined-arms warfare.

Author: David Greentree
Illustrator: Adam Hook

80 pages

RAF Fighters vs Luftwaffe Bombers: Battle of Britain
$18.95 SRP

In this book, Andy Saunders journeys back in time into the cockpits of RAF fighters and Luftwaffe bombers to show precisely where the Battle of Britain was won and lost. It was a savage aerial campaign: the world’s first ever strategic, decisive air war on which the fate of Britain and the Allies as a whole rested.

Losses were high on both sides, but the determined, and crucially, well-directed RAF fighter force began to take its toll on the overextended, under-protected Kampfgruppen of Heinkel He 111s, Ju 87s and 88s, and Dornier Do 17s. Using the famous Spitfire and Hurricane, but also the lesser known Havoc and Defiant fighters, Fighter Command could really maul the Luftwaffe bombers if they avoided falling foul of the formidable Bf 109 escorts.

Both sides learned and adapted as the campaign went on, with the Luftwaffe switching from massed daylight raids to round-the-clock bombing, eventually bombing only by night, often hitting civilian targets in the dreaded Blitz.

This lavishly-illustrated study dissects the tactics and technology of the duels in this new kind of war.

Author: Andy Saunders
Illustrator: Gareth Hector, Jim Laurier

80 pages

Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-F series
$18.95 SRP

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was one of the truly world-class piston-engined fighters of World War II. This reputation rests largely with the E-F variants, which bore the brunt of the Luftwaffe’s most important operations in World War II and shot down tens of thousands of Allied aircraft in the Battle of Britain, the Blitzkriegs across Europe and on the Eastern Front.

This volume looks at the design and development history of these formidable warplanes, with a meticulous technical focus and clear, detailed illustrations to reveal why the types were so effective. It explores the long process of tweaks to the E variant, and solutions to the many initial technical problems with the F, and how this development helped Willy Messerschmitt’s promising Bf 109 design mature and fulfil its potential.

Author: Robert Jackson
Illustrator: Adam Tooby

64 pages

Commonwealth Cruisers 1939-45
$17.95 SRP

In the early 20th century Britain’s largest colonies established their own small naval presence, and their ships fought alongside the Royal Navy during World War I. These fleets were expanded during the inter-war years, and in 1939 the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy willingly joined the fight on behalf of the British Commonwealth.

For the most part these small navies consisted of a few cruisers and destroyers, designed to protect territorial waters and to protect local sea lanes. However, these warships and their crews soon found themselves involved in a global war, and consequently were called upon to fight wherever they were needed, against the Germans, the Italians and the Japanese.

This book tells the story of these small cruiser forces, and the men who served the Allied cause so well during the long and brutal war at sea.

Author: Angus Konstam
Illustrator: Paul Wright

48 pages

T-64 Battle Tank: The Cold War’s Most Secret Tank
$17.95 SRP

The T-64 tank was the most revolutionary design of the whole Cold War, designed to provide the firepower and armor protection of a heavy tank in a medium-weight design. It pioneered a host of new technologies including laminate armor, stereoscopic tank rangefinders, opposed-piston engines, smooth-bore tank guns with discarding sabot ammunition, and gun-fired guided projectiles. These impressive features meant that the Russians were loath to part with the secrets of the design, and the T-64 was the only Soviet tank type of the Cold War that was never exported.

Written by an armor expert, this detailed technical history sheds light on the secrets behind the Cold War’s most controversial tank, revealing how its highly advanced technologies proved to be both a blessing and a curse.

Author: Steven J. Zaloga
Illustrator: Ian Palmer

48 pages
U-47 in Scapa Flow: The Sinking of HMS Royal Oak 1939
$18.95 SRP

Even with Germany in the ascendency at the beginning of World War II, Scapa Flow was supposed to be the safe home base of the British Navy. Nothing and nobody could penetrate the defenses of this bastion, which was built up to formidable levels in World War I and symbolized the faith placed by the British in the invulnerability of their navy. So how, in the dead of night on October 13, was Gunther Prien’s U-47 able to slip through the line of protective warships undetected to sink the mighty Royal Oak?

This book provides the answer with an account of one of the most daring naval raids of World War II indeed - in all of history. Drawing on the very latest underwater archaeological research, this study explains how Prien and his crew navigated the North Sea, Kirk Sound and some very unlikely odds to land a devastating blow on the British, and became among the very first German heroes of World War II.

It reveals the level of disrepair that Scapa Flow had fallen into, and delves into the intriguing conspiracy theories surrounding the event, including an alleged cover-up by the then First Sea Lord, Winston Churchill.

Author: Angus Konstam
Illustrator: Peter Dennis, Alan Gilliland

80 pages

Hitler’s Russian & Cossack Allies 1941-45
$17.95 SRP

Given the merciless way in which the war on the Eastern Front of World War II was conducted, it is difficult to imagine soldiers changing allegiance from one side to another. Yet after the German invasion of Russia in Operation Barbarossa, well over 400,000 former Soviet Citizens went on to fight for Nazi Germany in some capacity. These included not only the ‘legions’ recruited from non-Russian ethnic groups eager for freedom from Stalin's dictatorship, but also some 100,000 Russians and Cossacks. What began as small local security units of ‘Ostruppen’, enrolled for the ongoing campaigns against Soviet partisans, were later reorganized, given special systems of uniform and insignia, amalgamated into larger formations, and eventually committed to the front line.

This book offers up an essential guide to the appearance, formation and equipment of the myriad Russian and Soviet units that fought for the Germans.

It uses rare photographs and revealing color illustrations to create a peerless visual reference to the troops who switched from one ruthless superpower to another and met with a horrific fate when the fighting was over.

Author: Nigel Thomas
Illustrator: Johnny Shumate

48 pages

Dwarf Warfare
$14.95 SRP

Despite their short stature, Dwarves are amongst the fiercest and most feared fighters of all the races. Thanks to their great strength and stamina, Dwarves march to battle in thick armor and carrying numerous heavy weapons.

This book compiles all of the information known about these grim warriors and how they practice war. From an initial examination of the fighting methods of the individual Dwarf soldier, it expands to look at how they do battle in small companies and vast armies. It covers all of their troop types from the axe men that form the front lines of battle to their deadly accurate crossbowmen, and noting their specialist troops such as their famous siege-engineers. Also examined are their tactics in specific situations such as underground fighting and fighting in mountainous terrain. Finally, the book examines a few specific battles in great detail in order to fully demonstrate the Dwarven way of war.

Author: Chris Pramas

Bug Hunts: Surviving and Combating the Alien Menace
$17.95 SRP

It is the 23rd Century. Across the cold void of space, alien monsters prey on humanity: infesting generation-ships, destroying colonies, and transforming humans into hosts for their foul spoor. From the insectoid hive-beasts of Klaatu, to the xenomorphic parasites of the out rim, this book contains the sum total of human knowledge of the myriad forms of alien menace; where to find them...and how to kill them.

In this guide you will find details of mankind's greatest champions, the marines of STAR Industries. With their state-of-the-art technology and advanced combat tactics developed over the century of warfare, the STAR marines battle the alien, wherever it may strike.

Author: Mark Latham

80 pages

Winchester Lever-Action Rifles
$18.95 SRP

Winchester lever-action repeating rifles are an integral part of the folklore of the American West. Introduced shortly after the American Civil War, the very first Winchester, the M1866, would go on to see military service as far afield as Bulgaria, but it was in the hands of civilians that it would become known as ‘The gun that won the west’.

Offering a lethal combination of portability, ruggedness and ammunition interchangeability with pistol sidearms, the Winchesters and their innovative and elegant breech-loading system represented a revolutionary design. They were used by a staggering variety of military and civilian groups - gold-miners, trappers, hunters, farmers, lawmen, professional gunmen and Native Americans. It equipped a whole generation of settlers and as such left an imprint on American culture that continues to resonate today.

This book explores the Winchesters’ unique place in the history of firearms, revealing the technical secrets of their success with a full array of colour artwork, period illustrations and close-up photographs.

Author: Martin Pegler
Illustrator: Mark Stacey, Alan Gilliland

80 pages
Tippecanoe 1811: The Prophet’s battle
$21.95 SRP

This is the gripping story of the Tippecanoe campaign of 1811: “The prophet’s battle”. It was a conflict born out of festering tensions inscribed by the 1795 Treaty of Greeneville, which had concluded the Northwestern Indian War and attempted to prevent white settlers’ encroachment onto newly-defined Indian territories. For 16 years there had been peace, but in 1811 the number of settlers in the Ohio territory had swollen from 3,000 to 250,000. War was again coming to the North West.

Within these pages John F. Winkler explores the dramatic buildup to the war and provides a clear view of the intense fighting with the aid of superb illustrations and maps. He explores the mystical figure of Tenskatawa, who came to be known as “The prophet” and who tried to unite the tribes of the Northwest to drive the American settlers back once and for all - promising a great success that he had seen in a vision. However it was his brother, the charismatic war leader Tecumseh who would organize the tribes militarily, and the Battle of Tippecanoe would be joined as a stealthy assassination attempt by 100 hand-picked warriors trying to kill William Henry Harrison. Kill Harrison, The Prophet asserted, and the rest would fold. Uncover the truth about the brutal combat that followed, and the impact of the battle on the War of 1812.

Author: John F. Winkler
Illustrator: Peter Dennis

96 pages