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