Monday, February 28, 2022

Cursed City

Games Workshop is going back to print on the Cursed City set. Through March 20 we can take orders for the Cursed City reprint. After March 20, our ordered get locked and we can expect our shipment to arrive about 6 months later, so sometime in early Fall. 

Sunday, February 27, 2022

32nd Anniversary Drawing

 We had our 32nd anniversary drawing this afternoon at 4:30 and everyone who could be called has been called. There are three items: Yu Gi Oh Maximum Gold, Nightfall and Marvel Zombies collection, that had phone numbers that we either could not read or did not work. If you put a ticket on one of these items, please check with us to see if you won. For everyone else, we ask that you pickup your items by noon This Thursday

Friday, February 25, 2022

32nd anniversary

 Come in this weekend and get a free Pokemon Button and a free copy of the DCC ?Quick Start Rules. Get  a Free Sirius dice with every 3 stamps earned on your Castle Card. Get a ticket for the Sunday drawing for coming in, wearing a Castle Perilous Shirt, tagging us on social media and for each stamp you earn on your Castle Card. Drawing will take place around 4:30 on Facebook on Sunday

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


 If you are wanting any of the new Aeldari (renamed Eldar) on release, leat us know by Thursday as that is the cutoff date for us to get an order in.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Double Feature


Innistrad:  Double Feature and Commander Collection Black both released  to an overwhelming “Eh” here at the store. From what I have read online, most store have had similar results, posting they have only sold a handful of packs or less. However, a couple did reports great sales, primarily to casual players. As of this writing, we have sold more packs of Commander Collection Black than we have of Innistrad: Double Feature, which is saying something given the price discrepancy. I have also heard of some problems with pack configuration, a few stores reporting packs of all commons or commons and uncommons. Not enough to make it a widespread problem but still more reports than I have heard in the past. As all of the cards, save some lands, appeared in both Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow and both of those sets are still widely and more cheaply available, WOTC has targeted the collector more than the player with this set. They may sell but it may take awhile and store will need patience. Long time store owners and players will remember the catastrophe of Fallen Empires, back when stores order in huge quantities expecting to get allocated down to more reasonable numbers. WOTC told stores that, on this set, finally, they would get what they had ordered. Of course, WOTC had told stores the same thing for the previous few sets but this time they produced enough and stores got swamped in a sea of. Today, for those still have packs, a Fallen Empires booster sells for $25 and a booster box for around $700. Champions of Kamigawa booster boxes, which also sold extremely slowly at the store and which WOTC gave away with orders for a while, now list for $1400 sealed.

The thing with Double Feature is that it will not get reprinted. It is a one and done set printed in limited quantities, though we may see some of the cards make “The List” eventually. This means that in 1-5 years, maybe even later this year if some of the online Magic experts get excited about the set, stores will see a demand for the cards. Several places have said they will buy any unwanted boxes of Double Feature so store feeling they bought too many do have an outlet.

Not game related but as we do sell comics and graphic novels, the recent uptick in interest in the Maus graphic novel bemused me.  For those who missed the story, a Tennessee school board voted unanimously to pull the book from its library shelves, over the protests of teachers who used the book in their discussion of WW2 and Holocaust, due to obscene language and a tiny picture of the author’s mother, who committed suicide in a bathtub. This news shot Maus back to the top of Amazon’s best seller list and, from what we have seen in the store have heard from other stores, more customers have asked about and bought the book in the past week than have in years. Wil Wheaton is asking his social media followers to buy a copy and ask the shop to lend or give it away to some who asks. Stores nationally have reported more sales in the past week than in the past couple of years.  Nothing sells like controversy. Your thoughts? Post them in the comments or email

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Deckbuilding Games and the PLC


An overheard comment about the introduction of yet another deck building game to the market set me to thinking about the number of deckbuilding games, the product life cycle and what the PLC means for this particular segment of the market.

The product life cycle consists of four stages:  introduction, growth, maturity and decline.  All products go through all four of these stages, some at a faster rate than others (roughly 50,000 new products come onto the market every year, only about 10% of them stay in production for more than five years).

The introductory stage of the PLC is always the most exciting part of a product’s life.  The manufacturer has this cool new idea for a great new product(Dominion) or an interesting take on an already existing one (Ascension).  The manufacturer has (hopefully) playtested it extensively, made mockups or prototypes, lined up a production option, either in-house or outsourced and lined up financing, again either through theirself or, quite commonly today, through an exterior source such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. The manufacturer is also all over Twitter, Facebook, TheyTube and any other media source  to which they can get access, talking about this cool new product and trying to get others to do the same.   During this stage, while their sales increases hit double or triple percentages, their expenses far exceed their revenues.  In short, they are losing money on the product until they hit the breakeven point, at which their revenues cover their expenses. 

Now, they move into the growth stage of the product life cycle.  During this stage their promotional efforts slack off as others have, hopefully, picked up on the buzz their original efforts generated for their products.  This means less expenditure on promotion, allowing they to divert more of the gross profits to cover fixed costs.  If they allocated revenues well, they start making a net profit during this stage.  As their product gets wider notice in the market though, sales start to slacken from the triple or high double digit growth they posted after the launch.  They should still see growth in the low double digits though.

The characteristic of the growth stage that makes me think the deckbuilding category is exiting the growth stage and entering the maturity stage of the PLC is that, towards the end of the growth stage, competition products start to enter the market.  Competitors see how well this product has done satisfying consumers and want a piece of the action, so they enter the market with similar products, planning to capture a share.  Currently, I count a minimum of ten deckbuilding games on the market, with more on the way.  Nothing says more clearly that the market for deckbuilding games has matured than the number of companies announcing their entry into the market.

What happens during this stage?  Profits for early entrants into the market continue to increase as their expenses likewise continue to drop.  However, sales increases drop to single digits and start to decline towards the end of the cycle, as the product moves from maturity to decline.  One sure sign that the market has moved from maturity to the decline stage of the PLC is competitors pulling the plug on their products and announced product launches never making it to market. 

During the decline stage, sales drop, either slightly or precipitously and they must decide whether the continued sales justify allocating resources to keep the product available or to harvest the product, cease production and direct those resources to another area.  Deckbuilding games are still far from this stage but it will come, likely sooner than expected.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Change is Coming


Consider this:  in the past it took decades if not centuries for humans to widely adopt technological change. The printing press, telegraph, automobile. Today, however that change can spread in a few decades or less.  The  smartphone is less than two decades old and, according to BankMyCell already over 80% of the population has one. Similarly, according to DataReportal, social media, also less than 2 decades old, is now utilized by over 57% of the world’s population. Countries and private organizations are installing renewable energy sources at a blistering rate. Polio vaccine took two decades to develop, we managed to create one for COVID-19 in under less than a year.

What’s the point? Change is coming at us faster and faster. What took decades can now be done in a year or two. In the game industry, we have seen a massive ramp up in online board and RPG play, watching other people playing RPGs, card and boardgames have become viable means of entertainment and those selfsame people appearing on the streaming platforms you want cane move sales with just a mention of the game. Witness the effect the games sales of just a mention of the Skull card game on TikTok. Only a couple of years ago, only a few games even considered buying and using metal dice in a game, now our store sells 2 to 3 sets a week at a price I would never have thought anyone would pay for a set of dice. Our store has at least 3 Chinese manufacturers contacting us directly want us to place orders for metal dice with them.  10 years ago, there was no way I could feasibly justify purchasing metal dice in quantities to make the buy profitable. Today it is quite feasible.

Similarly with dice towers and dice trays. Both have been available for years but only in the last few years, as a greater number of people sale them in use on various RPG play streaming shows that demand for them increased to the level that made stoking a good selection of them with a dozen or more manufacturers offering both in assorted designs.

So what changes can we expect to see over the next few years? Here are couple of things I think will come about

Reshoring to Mexico—Although not feasible in the immediate future, i.e. next year, I expect to see some boardgame production companies open up factories in Mexico over the next five years and, under the USMCA, companies will see significant tax and cost advantages compared to importing from China. In addition, a much shorter supply chain will shorten the turnaround time. The quicker the US market can get a product, the quicker it can sell, and the quicker channels will need to restock. A shorter supply chain speeds the turnaround process dramatically.

More Kickstarted TCGs-  The success of Flesh and Blood and Metazoo have put dollar signs in the eyes of other creators. WE have gotten several solicitations from several companies launching their own TCG with funding secured through Kickstarter and I expect to see a glut of these hitting the market over the next few years. Unfortunately for most of them, the “Ladders in the Mind” concept says that most markets have room for a Number 1 and a Number 2 with all other competitors battling it out for third place. Currently we have three battling it out:  Pokemon, Magic and Yu Gi Oh with no indication of any of the three fading away to give space to an upstart. I expect some to gain attention for several months or a year or two and then fade away, much like the The Crow TCG (You did know there was a Crow TCG, right/)

Friday, February 11, 2022

Banned Graphic Novels

 In case you are looking for other banned graphic novels to read after Maus, here are several


The Killing Joke

Y:  The last Man

Sandman:  Preludes and Nocturnes


Fun Home

Three Great Things about WizKids


For those of you not familiar with them, and most people reading this column are, WizKids is the premier collectable miniatures and dice game company (though I could argue not the first as anyone who dealt with Games Workshop during the 1990s could attest, with the company’s tendency to include multiple poses of the same figure in a sleeve of them and customers trying to get that one particular figure with a Multi-melta or Assault Cannon for their army. A figure holding a Bolter just wouldn’t work.), at one time after the release of DiceMasters producing more dice than any other company in the world.

Anyhow, three things that WizKids does that I really like:

1.        Organized Play website—WizKids has really ramped up their OP program over the past couple of years and has made massive improvements to the website the company uses to track tournament results. The company has even embraced the “gamification” trend of the past few years, awarding badges to players and tournament organizers for “unlocking” achievements in OP. Behavioral research indicates that this actually works in terms of encouraging more people to participate in events in the hope of adding more badges to their collection, much as the Scouts have done for decades.

2.       Summer Campaigns—For the last few years, WizKids has run a massively supported summer Organized Play campaign complete with big cool prizes and limited edition boosters to draw customers into stores. In order to get access to these limited boosters, the customer has to come to the store and play in the event. A few retailers have violated the spirit and letter of the program and WizKids, from what I understand, has been pretty diligent in tracking the violators down and reprimanding or even sanctioning them from participating in further programs.

3.       Release Day Tape—The announcement of this was the thing I referenced earlier that made me happy. As I have noted in other columns, violation of street date, especially with high volume collectible items, is a bane of the retail end of the industry. Putting a notice on the packing tape of each box that the item has a release date and to go to the WizKids website to check it before putting the product inside out for sale will certainly help by giving people one less reason to claim they were unaware of the release date.

Monday, February 7, 2022

3 things for Which I am thankful


Since this is the Chinese New Year and I fell like giving thatnks , not that we shouldn’t do it the other 11 months out of the year,  here are 3 things  (aside from health, friends, chocolate, etc) that make me thankful:

1)       Other Retailers, both local and distant. While ‘tis true that life would certainly have remained simpler not having 3 other game retailers open up within 15 miles of us within the past year, I have found them in the area has made me focus more on our product mix and determine what elements of our marketing strategy to emphasize and what to de-emphasize.  Result, our revenues did take a hit over the past year but have now climbed back to the point that they equal sales prior to the other stores opening in the area.  From retailers more distant, I can usually find at least one idea or product to integrate into the store’s marketing mix every month,  often moreso.  Visiting the websites and physical locations or reading the blog posts or online musings from stores like The Fantasy Shop, Gnome Games or Black Diamond Games, among others, proves a useful 15-30 minutes of every week.

2)    3)      The Bits ‘n Mortar program.  Bits ‘n Mortar doesn’t get nearly enough publicity as it ought but this consortium of small RPG publishers still has their program in place, allowing registered brick and mortar retailers to give a PDF of their products to customers when said customer purchases a hard copy of the RPG.  We have customers who purchase Crucible 7 and Arc Dream RPG products specifically from us on a regular basis specifically because we participate in this program.

4)      Munchkin (and Steve Jackson Games). The base Munchkin game still sells reliably week in and week out over a decade after it first released.  Unlike some other game lines (cough-X-wing Miniatures, DiceMasters-cough), Steve Jackson Games manages to keep the almost the entire line in stock through distribution and, although they have run special sets through Target and Barnes and Noble, I have not seen them participate in any deep discounting or “Buy One, Get One Free” silliness such as appeared on the Target website last week.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Safety Warning

  Saw a couple of men blocking traffic near the intersection late this afternoon. Not sure if they are still in the area but if you are driving through, be warned. One was walking west in the south side lane of West Main with his back to traffic and cars were swerving around him. 

The other was on a bicycle near the intersection of Main and Illinois and decided to lay his bicycle and himself down in the street in front of oncoming traffic. I managed to convince him to get out of the road before he or anyone got hurt, The last I saw he was bicycling against traffic south on Illinois. Still probably a good idea to keep an eye out for either when you are driving through the area.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Space for Gaming


One common recommendation proposed by online purchasers to alleviate the travails of the brick and mortar store is to give customers the deep discounts they want while moving to more of an event center or club model, wherein the store provides table space and terrain and other accoutrements and in return the players pay a fee for use of the space. I noticed one poster who said he (or she) would “be happy to give the store a buck or two” as a thank you for using the space. Stores relying on this model in the US have had a notoriously short lifespan and, while some posters indicated this method was wildly successful throughout Europe and they may be  correct. However, when I visited France a few years ago, courtesy of WOTC, and got the opportunity to look at several game stores, I noticed they used the same antiquated model that prevails here in the States, offering both merchandise and event space. In fact, with even higher per square foot rents than found in the US, the more desirable front of the store was given over to merchandise space while event tables got shunted to the rear of the building or even an upstairs location.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Horror Survey

 A past customer is looking for help in finishing her degree at NYU. If you are a horror fan, please fill out the survey at this link .

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Mosnters of the Multiverse

 WOTC managed to take a great idea like Monsters of the Multiverse and distribute it in a horrible fashion. The alternative cover will ONLY be available in the Rule Extension Gift Sets with matching covers for Tasha's Cauldron and Xanathar's Guide. There will not be an separate alternative cover, unless WOTC changes its mind releasing in May when the book releases by itself. This means that people who collect the alternative covers are out of luck. We would normally order about 30 of the alternate art cover to make sure that everyone who wanted one would get it. There is no way we have the capital to order 30 of the $169 gift sets and I doubt that we would have sold enough of the gift sets to justify the order.