My own personal rant zone

I set up this place so I can mostly talk about Tabletop Gaming...but occasionally some other stuff too...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I am SO lazy...

So, this is just a cut and past of a post I made at the Gaming industry Network forums. I SO owe the folks at Wotc some nice words on the way Dreamblade plays, and I will get to it as soon as I can. It was REALLY fun. I liked it...more to come. Here are my Good, Bad, and Uglies of GTS 2006

My turn. I should have done this earlier, but I did so much blogging at the show, I burned myself out. As I enjoy looking at the crappier things first, here goes:

- Getting up at 4am monday morning to catch a 6.30am flight, which you changed so you could get to vegas on Monday specifically to see the Dreamblade announcement. Then seeing the announcement, which I must honestly say was one of the worst product introductions I have ever personally seen at a professional trade show.

- The Riv. Being that it's on the slate for demolition in the next couple years, and the management obviously knew we weren't coming back, it felt like they had flat out given up on us. I was also sad to not see some people at the show I was hoping to see there: Indie Press Revolution, Reaper, and honestly GW. I know they want to be their own hobby, but being an Island in a pond is sure dumb.
- I think Rackham's plans for OP and such are far too little far too late. I also have a sense that they are just approving the die hard fan-boys for their Sentinel program...which IMHO was the same thing WK did at the beginning of the envoy program, and that didn't always go so hot either. The silent folding of Rag N'Rok into Confrontation within the catalog also shows that is essentially a dead item...
- The AT-43 models were totally underwhelming to me as well. Odd that it's going to be a pre-painted game to street at Christmas, yet all the way into March the only examples they have are grey plastic. Doesn't bode well for an on-time 2006 launch.
- This has been brought up before, but I think there are just too many board-games coming out. And on this note, I simply _hate_ how Fantasy Flight gives away a copy of their latest and greatest. I dunno about the rest of you, but I was fairly busy a majority of the time at the show. Waiting in line for 2 hours to get a $50 game is just unacceptable waste of valuable time. If this is the only way they can come up with to give away demo copies of a game, I am happy to skip demoing their games in store...The same could be said for the dinners and the resultant lines, but others have already covered that.
- Finally: The food. I am a snob, and by Weds I was getting a little ill from the food. That's just me...

The Feh:
- I had oodles of problems with the on-site wireless. Made answering email, etc a real challenge.

The Good:
- Getting an email from the PR folks working with WoTC hours after I blogged a very negative commentary on the Dreamblade presentation, asking me to come for a one on one demo of the game. I was totally impressed how important they felt negative viral marketing could be for them, and they wanted a second chance. Huge props there. I played the game with my partner Aaron (who lost like a big chump!), with John Tweet showing us the ropes. I actually enjoyed the game quite a bit, and think it has a place...unless it gets ruined by the massive push for OP they are wrapping around it.
The show felt busier this year. I felt like I had more to see and more people to talk to. Breaking up the exhibit hall was fantastic from my point of view. I never once felt closed in, or unable to get at people.
- I give mad props to the folks at Your Move Games. They gave one of the best presentations of everyone during the whole show, telling us about Battlegrounds. We stock this game, and I like it...and they really "sold" the game well during dinner.
- I was pretty happy with WoTC's Year of the Dragon presentation. They have some very strong stuff coming up, and I was happy to see D&D coming back again this year.
- The Battlefront guys have a very solid plan with Flames of War and how they are releasing the new version of the rule-book. The trade-in policy is fantastic, and should shut even the cheapest gamer's pie hole right up. Moving into late-war is a good move.
- GF9 has some wonderful "gamer bling" on the horizon. We are stocking even more of their items than in the past.
- I was VERY happy to see Perplexcity get some buzz. We have had it for a little while now, and I am happy to see more of you getting excited about it.
- Staying at Paris rather than the Riv. A couple people met me for food there, and they commented on how much nicer it was than the Riv. The move to Bally's is incredibly strong. I just hope it's not too late...
- Finally Wizkids. Over the past two years, I have been a pretty vocal nay-sayer on the WK product lines. For the longest time, we stocked only pirates, and nothing with a clicky base. I walked into this years small retailer seminars feeling like I had been listened to last year. They have made some seriously strong moves for us retailers in the past year, and it sounds like it will get even better this year and next. I also think that the Great Cthulhu stole a lot of the Colossal Red Dragons thunder at the, I wanna thank WK here and now for listening.

The Awesome:
- The new Battletech relaunch could have a lot of legs. I know Fanpro has a lot of stuff in the queue, and some hurdles to jump...but this is the strongest move for my favorite game in over a decade. The galley's showed that the new "Total War" book will put BT in line with almost any other modern minis rule book. Full color throughout, good examples of play, nice photography, and if they can get it in the $39.99 price point they are hoping could really invigorate the game. (Crosses fingers.)
- Coming in 2nd at the GTS Poker tourney! I want to thank ABC NW, and Eagle Games for holding such a fun, well managed event. I had never done a "live" poker tourney before, and this was a thrill. Many thanks again, and congrats to the person who beat me head to head, when I went all in on a "Brunson." I was stressed enough that I didn't even catch his name. ;) I should especially thank Rob and John for gathering all the bounties I won, and shipping it back to their warehouse with their booth. We were on the plane before the exhibit hall opened, and would not have been able to do it ourselves.

Thats about it I think. I am sure I missed a lot...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

AT-43 No one escapes war...

Or gooby ass looking mechs, either.

Here are some shots of the Rackham AT-43 minis. Supposedly, these will be _pre-painted_, and due out at Christmas. That's about all they had to say. I find it kinda humorous that the game will be out in about 9 months, but they didn't have painted minis for GTS. Hmmmm.....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Look Ma, a Dragon!

Here is the big poppa...the picture is pretty crappy, but ho BOY is it cool in person!

More on GTS Tuesday

Here I sit, in Vegas at 10.04pm in my Jammies. I just plain wore myself out today, and had to come back tot he hotel room to lay down. I have a seriously bad back, and the amount of walking I am doing isn't so hot for it...I am old, and suck. Sigh.


After the Dragon breakfast, we then immediately went into a meeting with the folks at Wizkids. If you know me, or have listened to me speak of them on the OC Podcast, I haven't had a lot of love for them in the past. IMHO, the way their organized play works, it breeds selfish prize-hounds, whose only interest is in free crap. They have little interest in providing a good game for their opponents. But over the past few months, Wizkids has been winning me over. They have really been incentivizing players to buy from Brick and Mortar stores, are offering all new lines at full returnability, and most importantly: they seem to be listening. This is the second year EndGame has participated in one of these meetings, and last year we were pretty upfront about our dissatisfaction. I was impressed when their head marketing guy said he was pleased to see us at the meeting again this year, as part of his introduction. We spent a couple hours talking about what we needed from WK to be successful witht heir lines. Now, the disapointing fact was that maybe 60% of this was dominated by stores discussing the freebies and prize crap from their organized play...but 40% seemed darn useful. They are really showcasing Horror Clix here at the show, and announced "Toon Clix." I was told about it at this meeting, but kept my mouth shut until they made their offical announcement at their dinner tonight.
I should mention I like Jordan Wiesman. Not just 'cause he created my most favorite game ever (Battletech), but because he is pretty much a no bullshit type of guy. I asked him directly if their market research and focus groups had indicated it was time to jump back into the Clix market. He got quiet for a second, fumbled with the answer for a second, then said straight up: 'To be honest, I got pissed off at Gencon. WoTC was doing more in a market we invented than we were, and I got fucking pissed off.' So, not really the best market research, but a healthy dose of honesty goes a long way with me.
I want to play the demo deck of the BSG CCG I was given, and will try and do so soon.

After that, it was time for the feeding frenzy that is the exhibit hall. I must admit, by noon I was getting pretty fatigued, so it is kinduv a big blur. I ran into many of the people I wanted to talk to right away. (Mr. Pramas, thank you for stepping aside and chatting. I am bummed to this moment I missed that podcast...and cheers for the announcements made today!) I think I am bound to do that thing where you forget to thank your wife during your awards speech, so I will just say that I met with a bunch of people that I was glad to see.

After one more meeting, it was time for me to retreat back to my room. I missed some things I wanted to see, but knew that if I didn't, tomorrow would be even worse. I wish I could say I saw the most exciting things ever today, but I didn't. I am kinda glad for that. I am more than happy if the industry takes a year to figure out what it's doing with itself, without losing it's mind. Ya know, I think I am going to take that back. There was one exciting thing: an utter lack of new CCGs. There may have been a couple, but not the volume that was there this time last year. Maybe people are actually figuring out we are in the middle of a serious glut, and have decided not to add to it. So, perhaps, old dogs can learn new trick...if you beat the crap out of them with a newspaper....

The Year of the Dragon...

This morning's Year of the Dragon presentation by Wizards of the Coast was MUCH better than last night's "announcement." (See, I told them, they could do better.) They are pretty serious about the whole Dragon thing, and oodles of stuff is coming down the pipe in 2006 with just that fiery butter-ness. Some things I really was pleased about:

- The add-on to the Basic set will come with a full Player's handbook and a free set of plastic D&D minis on the first run as an incentive for new players to try it. That's a $13 value, and a fine idea. This is something I really will try and sell to parents as an add-on to the basic set. It has me really excited.

- This ties directly into the fact that they are going to spend an assload of money marketing to "new players". They are actively trying to bring new people into D&D. That I applaud, and as a store owner hope to help with in any way I really can.

- There is a hard cover art book on dragons called "The Practical Guide to dragons." It will be $29.99 and have some short stories as well. This is aproduct not only for D&D players, but anyone interested in Dragons and Fantasy art.

- The Players Handbook II and Monster Manual IV are coming...and will be much of the same as they predecessors.

- The Big D&D minis are called D&D: Icons. I saw (and have a picture of) the colossal Red dragon. It is beautiful. I will post the picture as soon as I can get to my cable.

- Worldwide D&D Day 2005 was even more successful than 2004. That means we get another one in 2006. That's pretty cool.

- Not mentioned much, but on a slide was a book called "Expedition to Castle Ravenloft". (Oh hell yes).

- Margaret Weiss and Tracey Hickman are collaborating on their first D&D book in ages, and it will be: dragon themed.

I am sure there was more, but those are the key points. I think this could be a very good year for the game. I left feeling pretty excited.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Or: How not to make a presentation at a trade show.

So yeah, they spent the majority of this 20 min presentation talking about O.P. on a game that is yet to be released...but let's not start there. Dreamblade is the new 40mm TMG from Wizards of the Coast. It will debut at Gencon Indy (big surprise), so here is what I was told. The player will take the role of a "Dreamlord", who then pushes minis around the table like in, um every other miniatures game. When they did talk about the game for like 3 seconds, they seemed to want to push the aspect that the game was "Fast and Speedy." They didn't exactly explain why...but it is speedy! They emphasized this fact because they have "Pro-Magic" players on staff as part of the R&D process. Yes, that makes it speedy.
Another random point they wanted to make, but just came off as really unclear, is that the game is designed such that even against great odds, a player can make a "comeback" (even the title of the slide) in the last turn to take the game...

So yeah.

The game itself was designed by John Tweet, and uses proprietary 6 sided dice. 5 of the 6 sides are regular, but the 6th is a blade. Rolling blades triggers the special effect on the model, which (seemed) to be defined on either a card, or maybe on the base. Who knows.

The game has 4 factions: Fear, Passion, Madness and Valor. I would try and explain what those mean...but they didn't really explain it. Maybe if I had more to drink, I would make something up...
Now the one interesting thing is that the "Warbands" you create, can be cross faction. This does allow for any random booster to be valuable to all players. That's maybe the one keen thing they did talk about.

So then they spent the whole rest of the time pimping Organized play. Did you know that WoTC invented OP? Well, they think they did, and made a bunch of mention about it...woo yea! I would go into it, but honestly, I don't care. Perhaps if they hgad a real game here that people would care about, they wouldn't have to pay people off with $500k in tounrament money in the first season.

They then got to the advertising portion of the presentation...where they proudly proclaimed that "Marketing isn't that important right now...we can talk about that with you all in the booth." Uh...yeah.

So, is this post confusing? Yes, but honestly, if you heard the same presentation, you would also understand that I spent some time organizing it for them. It was HORRIBLE. Totally uninformative, poorly presented, and really, underwhelming. They did give us a "thing" that looks like a business card holder, but promptly didn't explain what it was. The rest of the evening has been booth babes tossing out free drink coupons, and T-Shirts. can SO do better than this, really, you can. Sigh...I need a drink, Thankfully I have a free coupon.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Check back here....

I sure haven't been too vocal on the 'ole blog here of late. Sorry about that, work has had me slammed in a big way, then i come home and crash. That should all change next week. I am going to be blogging a bunch of stuff as I hear about it at the Gama Trade Show. Should be intresting to say the least...

So, "see you then!"