Tuesday, February 26, 2019

WOTC Announces Saltmarsh and Closes Window

WOTC announced yesterday it will release the U Series of 1st adventures updated for 5th Edition D&D as part of  a sea themed campaign titled the Ghosts of Saltmarsh. The 256 page book releases on May 21 with two covers, a standard one for both mass and direct channels and a soft touch cover only through the direct channel. This release also marks the end of early releases for specialty game stores. Prior to Ghosts, stores like ours received D&D releases a week to 11 days earlier than Amazon, Wal-mart and Barnes & Noble. Now, all stores will receive the book at the same time. However, only the specialty game store will receive the soft touch cover, at least, until stores start listing them on Amazon. WOTC also announced all forthcoming hardback releases will come with a alternate soft touch cover variant, only available at game stores. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

New WizKids Miniatures

WizKids just announced a partnership with Hasbro to make miniatures based on GI. Joe, Transformers and My Little Pony in painted and unpainted versions. Since the press release does not say so, I would bet these are simply miniatures and not HeroClix figures. The D&D figures WizKids created last year have done so well that Hasbro likely saw WizKids as a good partner to come out with another line of figures. No indication as to what scale the figures will run.  Just imagine, painting your own MLP or Transformers figure. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tricks of the Trade

A new GM's Tricks of the Trade, courtesy of Troll Lord Games:

Being a GM, DM, or CK is a tricky business. You must be able to think on the fly, keep people engaged and lead them down the path to adventure. Bogged down in the minutiae? Stuck in a dungeon? It's important to lead the players to the best game they can have. That's why our CEO and founder, Stephen Chenault -- a gamer for over 40 years and CK that can keep a game of 20 plus moving smoothly -- has put together another 5 gems guaranteed to give you your best game.
#1: Try to start a new game, particularly if you are a new GM, with a short, quick set up. As the game progresses you can work in the larger story. Turning it over to the characters quickly allows players to engage in the game and become interactive. It will help with their attention later on as well. Spending too much time setting up the world or the circumstances that launch the game can be tiresome to listen to. After half an hour of background most players have long since tuned you out. All that information you have designed can and should come out in game play, particularly during the role playing sessions.

#2: Try to keep treasure hoards smaller in coin but richer in detail. When you keep treasure them small it imparts a sense of value to them, and added details make the treasure very memorable. A fallen hill giant who has only 48gp, 110sp, 1 20gp, gem, a ring set with two topaz stones worth 50gp, a bag of rabbit bones and a small box of salt will resonate much more than one with 800gp. Including mundane things like the aforementioned box of salt instantly tethers the imagination on something that is real and tangible, which in turn makes everything else a little more real.

#3: Roll each monster’s hit points separately and if you can, arm it differently. Monsters are pretty static things. If you meet a group of the same monsters, they generally have the same HD, AC, attacks, skills, damage etc. Hit points are the major exception to this. You can encounter a drider with a wide variety of hit points, some being very weak and some strong. This gives the encounter flavor with minimal work. It might take the party 7 rounds to kill monster A, but they dispatch monster B with painful ease. It shakes things up a little and keep characters guessing.

#4: If you are just starting out as a GM, or if you are running a new game, or with new players, plan on a short session. Try to shoot for about 3-4 hours for this first adventure. You and your group may be accustomed to playing longer (we used to run games 18 hours long back in the college days), and that’s fine, but its best to wrap up the first adventure a little quicker. Even if you are going to continue playing, this allows players to digest who their characters are and what they can and cannot do. Likely as not, they’ll take some time after crossing the finish line to look a little closer at abilities, equipment and other odds and ends that help them get a better grip on the character. It also allows you to readjust anything you need to. Perhaps you found that the paladin was more powerful than you anticipated, so you can adjust your next adventure accordingly. It’s a good time for players to role play amongst each other as well… it's something noted in an earlier tip you should encourage.

#5: Try to speed up your combats a little. This helps with pacing and keeps player excitement high. That’s always good and is fun for everyone. Don’t linger on rules and mechanics any more than you have to; fast paced combats are far more enjoyable than a discussion on a spell’s area of effect. You will, of course, have to discuss some of these things, but unless its going to be a game changer… suddenly kill all your monsters, spring the trap or what have you… just make a quick ruling and move on. Keep your descriptions short with key words; a long drawn out description of what a blade does is not nearly as effective as “the blow ruptures the globe of your eye!” And lastly encourage the players to make fast decisions about what they are going to do; let them know beforehand that they only have 5-10 seconds to make a decision, if they don’t then the tide of battle overwhelms them. (As a side note, never bark things like “You lose your turn.” That is crazy rude and combative. Say something like the aforementioned “the tide of battle sweeps past you before you can react, but don’t worry, next round you’ll be keyed to go).
Post Script: I love the words nonetheless and aforementioned and I managed to use aforementioned twice in today’s tips. I shall celebrate with a cold Dr. Pepper!

Monday, February 18, 2019

No More MSRP on Magic

WOTC announced that, effective with War of the Spark, they will no longer set an MSRP on Magic product. What does this mean to you?

Well, a definition first. MSRP stands for Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price. The is the price at which the manufacturer of a product recommends it sell at. Retailers, such as us, then purchase the product at a discount from that MSRP and then resell it, sometimes at MSRP and sometimes at less than MSRP. Sometimes, rarely, at more than MSRP.

Currently, the MSRP for a pack of Standard legal Magic the Gathering is $3.99. Retailers will often offer Magic at a discount from that price, say 3 packs for $10 or a booster box of 36 packs for $99.99, advertising the price as discounted "XX%" from MSRP. With the release of War of the Spark, there will no longer be a MSRP of $3.99 on the product so retailers will no longer be able to advertise it as discounted from a particular selling price. This will also mean less consistency in specific pricing. Since there is no longer an MSRP, stores will decide what price they for which will sell packs or boxes of Magic, meaning customers will probably see price increases passed along more frequently.  However, for the foreseeable future, customers should also expect to see prices hew pretty closely to the current $3.99 price point. However, if WOTC increases the cost of a pack or box of Magic, expect to see the price of the individual pack increase as well.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Marvel and Jumanji Fluxx Coming

From a press release from Looney Labs:

College Park, MD—February 14, 2019 Cardinal/Spinmaster and Looney Labs are pleased to announce a new partnership to create licensed card games for all channels. The companies are currently working on two games—Marvel Fluxx and Jumanji Fluxx. Both companies will publish versions of the games, each in the same slightly-larger-than-typical sized box. The Cardinal version will release with a $15 MSRP for mass market, whereas the Looney Labs version will contain seven bonus cards, and will sell for $20 in specialty and hobby. In addition, both versions will display a premium poker chip style collectible turn token in a clear window on the front of the package! This is the start of a creative partnership between the two companies, which will see more jointly released games in the future.
“We are so excited about these titles! Andy has created some really innovative new cards for these versions that will keep Fluxx fans coming back for more, and partnering with Cardinal means that we will be able to introduce Fluxx, the card game of ever-changing rules, to a much broader audience than ever before,” said Kristin Looney, CEO of Looney Labs. “Our goal is for a win-win-win. Cardinal adds Fluxx to its line of classic card games, Looney Labs reaches a larger audience, and specialty retailers not only get to sell a special version, but they will hopefully experience a sea change in the level of demand for Fluxx products.”
The Looney Labs versions will release in July of this year and the Cardinal versions will release in August. Look for them in stores everywhere!
About Looney Labs
Looney Labs was founded in 1996 by Kristin & Andrew Looney, a husband and wife team that gave up successful careers at NASA to pursue their hobby business full time. They could tell early on the true hit potential their card game Fluxx had, and with the creation of new and exciting versions of Fluxx, the popularity of the game has spread worldwide and spawned numerous international publications. The Looneys believe one of the most important things they create is the fun people have while playing their games. Andy continues to create new games, from those with lighter play, like Loonacy and Just Desserts, to more strategic games like Chrononauts and Pyramid Arcade. About SpinMaster/Cardinal Industries
Since 1945 Long Island City, New York, based Cardinal Industries has grown to become one of America's top signature board game and puzzle companies, offering more than four hundred items including traditional games such as dominoes, checkers and poker sets, as well as an extensive line of licensed games and lenticular, wood and basic puzzles. An industry leader with worldwide reach, Cardinal products can be found throughout North America, Europe and Australia. Cardinal games and puzzles have won many awards, including the LIMA International Licensing Award, TOTY award nominations, and many Vendor of the Year awards from Toys “R” Us.
In 2015 Cardinal became part of Spin Master Ltd., a global leader in multi-category children’s entertainment since 1994. The purchase made Spin Master the second largest games company in the U.S. Cardinal remains committed to making family-friendly, challenging and innovative games and puzzles, and making them affordable to all.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Talisman LIcense Splitting

It looks as if Games Workshop is splitting the licensing of its popular Talisman game. The company announced last week that USAopoly would get the rights to produced versions of the classic Talisman game while WizKids announced yesterday that it had secured the rights to the Relic boardgame, alos based on the Talisman game engine but set in the Warhammer 40K universe.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Kickstarter Problems for Ninja Division

Ninja Division and Soda Pop Miniatures, which had a really good track record with projects on Kickstarter for several years, have run into trouble with their last few projects, to the tune of $3  million in cash taken in with no releases to show for it.