Black Friday Celebration!

It’s that time of the year again, the time to stand in line at midnight on a holiday for gifts for the next one. Screw that. We’re gonna be closed Thanksgiving, and we’ll open on at the crack of noon on black friday. There is no need to stand in line beforehand or panic, we have many copies of the hot items, they’ll last at least a little while. As a result, this year we again expect our Black Friday Sale to be a pretty calm, civilized affair. All deals will continue on to small business saturday as well, of course. So, without further ado, here they are.

First off, we’ll have a giant pile of shiny new games. For every  $75 worth of stuff you buy, you get a free game from the pile. There are over 20 of these guys, in a nice assortment, and yes, this can be combined with other deals such as box discounts, etc. DMG_Illo

 

Secondly, the 5e DMG is coming out on Black Friday.
We’ve got it, big box stores won’t have it for a couple
weeks yet. In addition, if you buy either the 5e Monster Manual or Players Handbook to go with this, we’ll toss in a $16 pack of minatures for free. We’ve got twenty copies, so these, too, will not run out immediately.

 

 

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Next, for our magic players, the ever-popular holiday gift boxes are now in stock. They’re $20, we’ll toss in a bonus promo for the holidays, and we’ve got a dozen of these guys in stock in addition to a nice sprinkling of the new commander decks everyone’s after.

 

 

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So, that’s something for board gamers, magic players and roleplaying folks, what about wargaming? Well, Confrontation miniatures will be joining the pile of free stuff for purchases(each box has a $30 value), and each Games Workshop miniatures box will come with a free bottle of glue or bottle of paint(your choice).

Additionally, Space Hulk is $25 off(normal price: $125)! We’ve got four copies of this as well. Hope to see you all out this weekend, and have a great thanksgiving!

 

More Magic!

Saturday,  Nov 22nd at 2pm, we’re doing a special limited 2HG game. Here’s how it works.

$5 gets you and your teammate in. If you don’t have a teammate, don’t sweat it, just show up and pair up with the next solo player. Each player will get a 22 card semi-random deck, one booster, and a randomly selected promo card as your card pool. You and your teammate may combine card pools, and add any number of basic lands to make two 40 card decks. Showing up late or leaving early is perfectly fine.

Every participant will receive one ticket. Winning a match(no repeat matches against same opponent) gets the winners a ticket each. We’ll draw out for prizes at the end of the night, and you need not be present to win. Prize pool will depend on number of attendees, but we guarantee a modern deck will be in the pool($80 value).

“But Travis”, you say, “isn’t the card pool alone worth far more than $5?”. Yes. Yes it is. We’re trying to start up saturday tournaments, and we’d like to do so with a bang.

In addition, we have casual commander games starting up on Tuesdays at 6pm!

Tabletop Day in Review

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Tabletop day has come and gone, and for those of you who weren’t here, well, you may have missed some great prizes and gaming, but we still have a few extra expansions and demo games hanging around. In particular, the good folks at Thinkfun gave us a very large stack of WordaRound, so there’s still something like twenty copies of that to be given away. Other remaining freebies include the terrifying poster of Wil Wheaton, arms outstretched and a sinister gleam in his eye. Wonder why nobody took that…

Anyway, on to the review! Some weeks ago, I’d had a discussion with a few folks in the pic1764752_tgame industry about if the concept of “play and win” promotions was a viable thing. Some theorized that it would kill sales because people would wait, hoping to win, while others believed added exposure could only help. Obviously, such a question needed to be solved with Science(aka, playing and giving away lots of games).

whatthefood_topSo, we tested with three games, all of which are reasonably new, not extremely well known, and not, yknow, terrible(an important qualifier). The list was Tahiti, What the Food and Capo dei Capi, and I tried to keep a rough count of plays of each…though I fear I missed a significant amount due to leaving the shop midday for Captain America. I regret nothing. Still, of the games I saw, Capo had 10 plays, Tahiti, 13, and WtF, 38. All of the games garnered additional sales as a result, (Capo: 2, Tahiti: 1, WtF: 3), though sadly, due to distributor issues, our WtF inventory actually ran dry during the day. Coupons for the respective games good for the entire month were provided to players, so it seems likely the people who wished to wait to win(and yes, several people did express such a desire), might return if they found the game compelling.

 

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All three games were pretty well liked, but the favorite, WtF, had an advantage in that it was most flexible in number of players, had the quickest to explain instructions, and had a fairly short playtime, allowing more players to enjoy it. This was particularly beneficial as usually one or more players would stick around from the preceding game, and they would teach the newcomers. While this happened with all games to some extent, it was most frequent with WtF due to the larger player size. The logical conclusion is that party games are more conducive to quick demos and giveaway promotions than more involved games….but also that players do appreciate such events, and they appear to be a solid way for designers, etc to introduce folks to new games.

Many thanks to those who provided promotional materials, publicity, and of course, to all the gamers who came out to play!

New and Improved!

After getting in all the big things, it’s been a time of little improvements. Adding a paint rack, adding more stock so we’re had to say “we’re out” less, fixing the bathroom door so it closes smoothly, adding a butt container so the smokers have a place to throw them away, getting deodorizers to minimize gamer funk.  Not the most amazing of things, but progress all the same.

Progress
Progress

It hasn’t all been boring, though. Thanks to hitting Core levels with WotC, we get the special support like brick and mortar only release access, promos for box sales and FNMs, plus the occasional poster and pre-release access. So, magic’s been taking off pretty strong, with a good crowd on both weds and fri.

Roleplaying, our friends at the Baltimore Pathfinder Society have hosted many games, we’ve got two ongoing pathfinder games in store, and of course, the ongoing DCC sessions on sundays. Oh, and of course, this month we’ll be at Gadcon, which will have RPGing and Magic in great amounts for three days. Last, but not least, the Eastern Horizons Larp has kicked off for those who enjoy L5R.

However, board and card games haven’t had the same scale of events. Oh, sure, we reliably have gamers here on thursdays playing, and sporadic gaming the rest of the week due to the game library in shop, but the big, flashy events are something board gamers often get left out of. Well, thanks to the good people organizing Tabletop Day…that’s no longer an issue. Modeled after the very popular Free RPG Day, Tabletop Day happens on April 5th, and will include giant piles of free expansions to popular games, five tables of gaming all day long, with prizes, drawings, sales, free pizza, and all manner of good times.

I’m pretty happy about this, and I look forward to seeing you all there!

Persistant Open World Gaming Coming to CBG!

Have trouble making time for a weekly game, but tired of one shots? Like playing a game with flexibility for you to pursue the goals you want with whichever players you wish? Well, we have a solution for you.

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Dungeon Crawl Classics starts out with a “funnel”, in which each player plays a band of peasants confronted with unspeakable horrors. Most will die gruesomely. The survivors become heroes, gain PC classes, and embark on traditional dungeon-crashing adventure. For the CBG persistant world, char creation is handled by attending a funnel game and having at least one peasant survive. The first such game is Sun, Feb 23rd at noon, and you need bring only dice with you as char sheets and such are provided. Once we have a pool of living PCs with class levels, open world play will kick off in earnest, with scheduled games for funnels, traditional adventures, and player driven exploration in turn.

Join us on Sun the 23rd for “The Portal Under the Stars”! Reserve your slot on our facebook page!

 

3d Printing Comes to CardBoard Gaming

I(Travis) brought in one of my 3d printers, pictured here after printing a few extra meeples, for general store use and demonstrations. Replacement parts are pretty easy to crank out, and we’ve got designs pre-loaded for a few of the more common gaming bits and gubbins.

If you’re one of those folks who like to design games and what not, custom pieces are also possible. If you’ve got your own 3d model, bring it by, and I’ll help you make sure it’s printable and test it out. If you’ve just got the idea, I’ll be happy to chat about how you go from that to a printed copy. I’ve found it to be a remarkably fun toy so far, and I’ve got a few ideas for potential applications myself, and I’m sure it’ll be something that inspires others as well.

Got some glow in the dark plastics on the way for experimentation. With any luck, it’ll be the perfect solution to finding the game piece that just rolled under the couch!

Game Designing and Publishing: The Game Industry

I know a few of ya’ll have done some game design and several more have expressed interest in it. So, I figured I’d chat a bit about how the game industry works, and how a game gets published. This’ll be a light summary, so the more experienced designers are likely already familiar with the content, and comments providing additional info are certainly welcome.  Most board/card/rpg games share production and distribution channels to an extent, though of course, some companies only focus on a subset of the hobby game market.

First up is the designing and creating of the game itself. This can be quite lengthy, as generally rounds of playtesting and revising are required. It’s generally considered to be a good idea to get in at least one “blind playtest”, in which others play the game without you explaining it to them or answering rules questions. At this stage, fairly rough prototypes are acceptable, as you’ll be swapping out components to test new rules pretty frequently anyway. Many traps exist within the design process, and while I can’t cover them all in this summary, it’s best to play a wide variety of games to get a better feel for what’s a solid idea and what might lead to problems.

Once the designer has the rules down solidly, and playtesters are generally satisfied with the experience, the designer typically makes a decently presentable prototype. Not necessarily professional grade, but at least filler art and such. Brief descriptions or summary sheets are written, and the game is shopped around to publishers, either by mail or at a convention, usually. This process is somewhat akin to getting a novel published, and rejections and delays are quite common, even for quite good games. Most hobby game companies only put out a handful of new games a year, and the bigger ones(Hasbro, etc) are very difficult for a new designer to get in touch with, so this stage presents many difficulties. A designer should ensure that a smooth, quick pitch is available to describe the game, and that the prototype allows for a quick demonstration of the games strengths.

If accepted by a publisher, there will typically be some changes to the game. Perhaps the theme will be changed to better fit the publishers needs. Unique, professional art is usually commissioned, and tweaks to rules and other information may be requested. Typically, designer and publisher work together to adapt the game to fit the current market. If the resulting work looks good and the market hasn’t changed, the next step is publishing.

The actual production of a game is often outsourced. Wizards doesn’t actually have a pile of printers in the back office making magic cards, they outsource massive runs at a factory that produces huge quantities of all kinds of cards. Board, etc games do smaller runs. Making the tooling is a fairly large flat cost for game production, so generally, large runs result in a more affordable game. This is one of the biggest reasons why the generic games found in Walmart tend to cost less than more specialized, hobby games. Many niche hobby games are done in fairly modest print runs of 1,500 to 3,000 copies. Manufacturing happens in many companies, but both China and Germany are quite common. There’s an excellent youtube video from Ludofact showing how games get made.

After creation, board games are shipped, either back to the publisher, and from there, to the distributors, or direct to distribution channels. Publishers don’t normally ship games to the consumer or local game store, as they work on the pallet/cargo container level, so the distributor handles storage of the games, and breaks them into more manageable volumes. Alliance has a warehouse here in Baltimore, and it’s quite the sight, with games in vast piles in every hall, and a steady stream of games leaving to game stores everywhere. To get an idea of the quantity, a pallet of games is roughly 300-600, usually, depending on box size, so an order of 3,000 board games could easily be ten pallets….roughly a third of a cargo container.

The local game shop orders also order games in quantity, but usually in a wide variety, as the hobby game market is quite large. In a typical month, I review over 3,000 games to determine what I’m going to stock in the shop. Most game stores will have a good selection of the more popular hobby games, but many also branch out to offer more unusual selection, and cycle new games in to offer a broader choice, as well as offering special orders for anything not currently stocked. A few games are also sold online, either direct from the publisher or from online retailers, and a few are also sold at conventions(releases are often timed to coincide with Gencon), but the local store is where the bulk of the games go through.

Lastly, they get to the gamer, who determines popularity of the game. This can be incredibly variable, as when a hit gets discovered, gamers are quick to tell their friends, and thus, a surprise hit can go from discovery to sold out almost overnight. Some of the most popular hobby games will go back to the designer for variant games or expansions…expansions seem to have become more popular in recent years, with a wide variety of them appearing for many popular board and card games. Some games enjoy only limited success and vanish after a few years, but some drift into the mainstream market(Apples to Apples, Catan), and some become staples of the hobby game store, being reprinted over and over again.

Cheers to all, and if you wish to get a game published, I wish you the best of luck!

Magic – The Big Game

Sat, Jan 25th at 4:00pm, we’re having us a standard tourney. It’s gonna be $10, three main rounds plus playoffs, and we’re pumping up the prize pool in hopes of luring a few more players out.

Prize Payout:
First Prize: 3 packs, Mutavault and Commander Deck.
Second Prize: 3 packs, Commander Deck.
Third Prize and lower: 1 pack per main round match won.

Door Prizes:  Three free packs will be given away after the match.

We’re trying to clear the 12-person mark on attendance so we can qualify for Wizard’s core level, which’ll result in them providing us with promo cards, access to more unique product, pre-release events, etc! Tell your friends, and let’s see make

Parking Info: The auto shop next to us is closed while we’re open, so feel free to park over there as well. As long as you’re not blocking anyone in, park wherever.

Commander Decks:  Choice of those in stock. Yes, this includes Mind Seize, if we have it in stock. Currently, all five are in stock, and we try to keep it that way whenever possible, but availability is limited on these.

Also, we are now taking preorders for Born of the Gods boxes, decks, and fat packs. If you want first dibs on release day, get your order in! We’re experimenting with a special “one of everything” package this release. $200 gets you a box, a fat pack, and one of each of the five starter decks! We may have to limit preorders based on allocation of product, so stop by in the next couple of weeks if you want to be sure of getting in on this.

Big Plans

So, quite a few of ya’ll ask how we’re doing from time to time, and some of you ask what are plans are for the store. Well, the answer to the first is that we’re doing pretty good for a brand new store. It’s not uncommon for there to be 12-15 people in the store on a friday night gaming, and sometimes we’ve got two events going on at once. Sure, there are quiet days too, but even on the quietest of days, at least a few people are stopping in. This largely a result of many people chipping in. Many have offered ideas, help, and more. Plenty have told their friends, shared our news on facebook, and spread the world. I’m proud to say that this is an area with no shortage of geeks, and many of them have grand plans of their own. So, first off, thank you to everyone who is helping the store get better already.

Perhaps the biggest goal is widening variety of stuff we have in stock. We’ve got a large, large list of stuff we’d like to bring in, based heavily on what ya’ll have asked for. In general, stuff a lot of folks have asked about is prioritized most heavily(though we will always order anything you place an actual special order for in the next shipment), but sometimes we also like to try out new and unusual stuff that nobody knows exists yet. Dungeon Crawl Classics, for instance, is slated for re-release mid-dec, and we’ve got a preorder for the full line of that. Red Dragon Inn 4 is coming out late Nov, and that’ll likewise be hitting the store. The big release times for games are mid-summer(usually aimed for gencon), and November(aimed for the holiday season), so the new stuff changes over rapidly. We’re also expanding existing lines, of course, filling in holes where they exist. By all means, if you don’t see something that you think really should be in the store, let us know! It definitely helps to know what people want.

 

Also important are events. Being a proper game shop is more than just being a place where people buy things, it’s about the experience of gaming. We’ve got two full pathfinder groups so far, and if anyone else feels like running a game, there is definitely lots of interest in this area. There’s also a monthly L5R game starting up locally, which is convenient for those of us who have busy schedules, and of course, there is a vibrant local Magic community. The Necromunda league will be starting up shortly, and I keep a 40k army on hand to play folks. There’s also plenty of random board and card games happening in shop, and I definitely want to fill out the game closet to enable more of these, and I want to support local DMs considering starting an event. You’re certainly welcome to recruit players at the store, regardless of if you’re playing in shop or at home, and I’m always willing to chat about roleplaying in general. In addition, from time to time, we get promo materials for various games, and these are given out to those who buy or play those games in the shop. It’s sort of random, depending on company, but it’s a nice perk from time to time. Door prizes are given for events such as Magic, of course. Last, but not least, we do a monthly giveaway for anyone partaking in an in-store roleplaying game. So, if you could use a bit more gaming in your life, drop by, and consider starting or joining an event.

 

We’re also looking to improve the shop as a setting. More chairs, more glass counters, more foldable tables for big events, more terrain for the miniatures crowd, carpet at some point for sure, some game related posters and paintings for the walls…all the nice atmospheric things to take stuff up a notch. Hell, one day, I’d like to actually make the sword in our logo, giant D20 and all, and hang it on the wall. Of course, as with all the other sections, suggestions are most welcome. Let us know what things you feel are important or would be awesome, and let’s see just how epic of a hangout we can make this place. =)

MTG Singles

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Singles are great for tracking down those last few cards you need without cracking a million packs, and if you’ve got a few extra cards and want a few bucks, well, nothing wrong with selling a few. Now, we’ve been doing singles since we opened, but I thought it’d be nice to highlight the progress we’ve made in this area.

Well, all sets in Standard(plus M13, M12, and Avacyn Restored) have been binderized, priced, and all that good stuff. We’ve got an excellent collection of the mythics everyone’s chasing, especially from M14 and Theros, the newest sets. Prices track fairly close to those of Star City Games, so they’re competitive with all online dealers, and buy prices should also be pretty close to theirs(though not always exactly the same, since we go off our stock levels, not others). As a general rule of thumb for those wishing to sell cards, the newest set is usually the one we’re most eager to fill out, and we look mostly for rares and mythics, as commons/uncommons are invariably well stocked.  If you have anything particularly unusual, such as older magic sealed product, or limited edition sealed product(commander decks, for instance), contact us and we’ll make a deal on a case by case basis.

In addition, we carry the various decks, as they can sometimes be an inexpensive source of specific cards…the Heroes vs Monsters decks are a pretty solid choice as you get two decks for $20. For those looking to build a collection, we also occasionally get in full, sealed box sets containing 1 of every card in an entire set, and we also build common playsets(4 of every common in a set). The latter is particularly economical, hovering around $15, including a box for storage, and containing hundreds of cards. Lands, unless you want ludicrous amounts, we just aren’t going to worry about pricing. Building a deck here or drafting, land is just free. We’ve got lots.

We also try to keep both sealed packs and discounted boxes in stock for every set in standard at all times, and fat packs, christmas bundles, etc will drift in and out depending on the season and what not. If there’s anything you’re looking for in particular that we don’t yet have…we can probably find it for you, including singles from sets that have left print over a decade ago.