Gary Ray is a fantastic guy to know about. Not only does he run one of the finest game stores I’ve had the pleasure to shop and game within, but he also keeps up a blog about the nuts and bolts of running a game store. The blog has lead to the definitive book on the subject, Friendly Local Game Store: A 5 Year Path To A Middle Class Income. Now one of this country’s leading experts on the correct and incorrect ways to sell games, has announced a card game based on the crazy customers found in the hobby. FLGS: The Card Game will be “basically a Guillotine knock off”, in which players collect customers, including the highly sought after alphas and angels, and the less than desirable vultures and parasites, and everything in between. The purpose of the game is to show the amusing spectrum of insanity that are board gamers, with the players taking on the roles of store owners, and the cards representing customers. For more details on the game, you can read the description in Gary’s own words here. FLGS: The Card Game is in the early planning stages, and no release date is imminent.

CMON Games has announced CMON Play, an organized play program exclusive to brick and mortar stores. Stores can enroll in CMON Play for free by signing up at the CMON website, and get exclusive access to Game Night Kits, Pre-Release Kits, Demo Copies and Kickstarter Retail Pledges. Game Night Kits will be available every other month and allow stores to run events for the popular CMON titles, and will offer exclusive game content not seen before. The first Game Night Kit will be for Zombicide: Black Plague in June. Pre-Release Kits will allow retailers to sell certain CMON games 2 weeks before they are otherwise available, starting with The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire by Eric Lang. Demo Copies will be available at a discount through the program. Finally, Retailers will be able to order core pledge levels and optional buys from Kickstarter through CMON Sales in quantities of 6, 9 or 12.

Cryptozoic Entertainment has announced the first DC Deck-Building Game Organized Play Kit. Coming in late fall or winter 2017, this kit will give your FLGS instructions to run tournaments as well as promotional prizes. Cryptozoic plans on releasing new kits biannually, with the first kit releasing concurrently with the DC Deck-Building Game Multiverse Box. The premier kit is slated to contain 12 promo cards, 1 playmat, tournament instructions and a poster.

As the board game market has boomed this has become more and more a common question for game stores as they try to carry all the new games being released.  And the short answer is that they can’t carry everything, so they have to pick and choose.  Like a gamer whose collection has reached maximum physical size, it now becomes a matter of if the next new game is better than what you have already.  Tom Vasel uses this philosophy on his game collection, and game stores now have to do the same with their finite amount of retail space.  But what does this kind of thinking do to the market?  Unfortunately this may make it harder for the little guy to break into the brick and mortar stores because they have to prove their game is worth taking up that valuable real estate.  What used to be carried because it was good now can’t because they have to make room for things that are great.

Gary over at Black Diamond Games ponders this question as well, giving an insider’s perspective, so give his article a read.

demo copy program
As you may know, the board game industry has changed this April, with Asmodee North America (ANA) implementing new policies for distribution of their games.  According to ANA, the central concept for the changes is:
It’s important to support brick and mortar retail stores since they help grow the audience and build the hobby.
Following this idea, Stronghold Games is announcing a new Demo Copy Program. Friendly Local Gaming Stores (FLGS) will be allowed to get heavily discounted and/or free copies of board games for demos and playing. If you have a favorite FLGS, fill out the request form so you can let them know which games you’re interested in trying out.
There are also some new promos available on the Stronghold Games site (for 504, The Golden Ages, and Space Cadets: Away Missions, , as well as some games on preorder.
NOTE: Upon publishing this, Stronghold Games provided an update:
Our Sales & Marketing partner, PSI, indicated to us late yesterday that they would like to roll out the Demo Copy Program more slowly, ensuring that everything is working smoothly.  This slight correction takes place immediately:
PSI will begin the Demo Copy Program
during the last week of April
To ensure that we can provide the best service possible, the official start date of the Demo Copy Program is being moved to the last week of April.
At that time, demo copies will be available directly through our partner, Publishing Services Inc (PSI).

Fast & Fhtagn, a furious card game of racing in a Lovecraft-inspired world for 3-6 players, is coming out this April. Atlas Games is promoting the game to any willing FLGS (Friendly Local Game Stores) with exclusive promos (via this submission flier). Custom promos are awesome! Check out it’s description from their product page:

Fast & Fhtagn is a component rich card game where players jockey for position on crowded, dangerous city streets. As the pack hurtles through an ever-changing urban landscape, racers must squeeze out their adversaries, accumulate style points, and keep their vehicles running smoothly even as dangers rain down and other drivers plot inhuman violence against them.

From what details I can find, Fast & Fhtagn seems to be a spiritual successor to another Atlas published game – Cthulhu 500, and is presumed to be a remake with better components and rules. In being forward, I think the name is great! I hope the game series takes off, just so we might see 7 sequels. 2 Fast, 2 Fhtagn, anyone? Check it out this April!

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The folks over at Black Diamond Games have put up another blog post, this time dealing with the question of “What relationship does a game store have with their customers”.

Their long answer goes into the difficulties of having both a regular customer base and an open door for the more casual player, while also managing the idea of providing services to the community outside of simply selling product at a price greater than online retailers.

The short answer can be summed up in the always vague Facebook status of “it’s complicated”

“We’re not really sure how many customers are rational actors and how many are acting charitably, possibly against their own interests.  Price is obviously what we’re talking about, since our three legged stool of price, service and convenience is a bit wobbly on that first leg. We don’t compete there because we can’t, yet we fail to properly monetize the services that make us special, because we believe game store customers won’t pay for that value.”

An interesting read into the minds of a store owner. Check out the full blog post here.

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Many of us have a specific local game store that we frequent. Maybe it’s our favorite one, so we only visit that one. Or maybe there aren’t any other options in our areas. But it’s rare to visit many different game stores, so it’s exciting to hear about the variety of options out there.

Gary Ray from Black Diamond Games, a game store in the Bay Area in California, is currently on vacation, going on a West Coast Game Store Tour! So far, he’s gone to stores in Washington and Canada, but he also plans to go through Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Central California. As he visits the stores, he’s updating us on what each store has that is unique. Since Gary has his own game store, he notices things that the average consumer may not:

The Tension in all of these stores is making money versus customer satisfaction. It’s clear as a store owner, that there are a lot of things that look great to customers that are retail illusions. Nobody is making money selling these things or doing these things, but they exist to draw you in, attract your attention, create a vibe so that you’ll spend money on the 20% of stuff that you spend money on. That’s pretty much how the game trade works, 80% useless crap or services you think are important and the 20% of stuff you actually buy and use. Which are the 80% and which are the 20%? That’s the stuff retailers discuss privately.

Another interesting thing is how game stores could differ across geography. For instance, in Washington state, it is simple for a game store to get a liquor license, so many of the game stores there serve beer along with coffee. In Canada, shipping prices make it so that people don’t buy from online game stores, and the local game stores have far more games in stock and fewer tables for tournaments.

To see the places that Gary has visited so far, check out the blog: Part 1 and Part 2 are up. He also has a lot of pictures on his Facebook page!

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Just how much profit do Friendly Local Game Stores (FLGS) make? According to a recent report most US citizens believe retailers make a 36% profit. Gary Ray, the owner of Black Diamond Games, runs a blog that gives readers a behind the scene look at running a FLGS and sets the record strait. You can check out the full article here but even if you don’t you should know that it’s not close to what many people may think it is.

profit margin

The net profit margin for retailers in the game trade is in the 5-8% range. Retail in general is in the 1-9% range, with gas stations at the bottom and jewelry stores at the top.

To read the entire article, you can visit their web site here.

While you’re at it you should check out some of his older posts for great insight into what it’s like to run a game store.

chez geek

Picture From Tabletop Gaming News


A well-known friendly-local-game-store in Québec, Chez Geeks, was recently targeted by the Québec Board of the French Language, whose role is to keep Québec’s French heritage alive.  The store was targeted primarily for its advertising and selling of English-only board games and an English-only website.

Jared Miller of Tabletop Gaming News interviewed one of the co-owners of Chez Geeks, Giancarlo Caltabiano, and discussed the issue at length.  In the interview, Caltabiano briefly describes the store and the services they offer, encouraging gamers to check it out both online and in person.

He then goes on to explain Québec’s Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language, its purpose and how it has been used to target his store, specifically with Article 54: “English only board games that do not have a French equivalent ‘that require non-french vocabulary for their operation are prohibited in the Quebec market.’”  Also notably discussed in the fact that video games have been excused from this law.

chez geek 2

Picture From Tabletop Gaming News


Caltabiano states:

“I do understand that [the Québec Board of the French Language] want to protect their language, heritage, and the Quebec people, and I’m all for it, UNLESS these laws actually HARM us in the guise of protection. Article 54 was last amended in 1997. Since then, online sales and commerce has increased…Article 54 would, in fact, inadvertently close my store down, and Quebecers would STILL get the English only games online, effectively giving our money to another province or country. So, in my views, Article 54 (along with many others like it prohibiting English only ads of English only board games) not only DOESN’T protect Quebecers, it’s downright detrimental to them.”

To read this article in full, visit TGN’s website here.