Catan Blues

Alliance Game Distributors Gets Exclusive Agreement with Catan License Holder, Asmodee North America

In a move which may increase the amount of tabletop games sold in comic book distribution juggernaut Diamond’s shadow, their affiliated company Alliance Game Distributors, also owned by Diamond’s Steve Geppi, has hammered out an exclusive distribution agreement with Asmodee North America, probably best known as the current Catan license holder in English-speaking countries.

Due to Diamond’s affiliation with Alliance Game Distributors, many comic shops are already hybrid hobby stores, with walls and shelves of tabletop games and role-playing games adding to sales and broadening customer bases.  One can speculate that having established this trade partnership, even more tabletop games will be available in Diamond’s PREVIEWS catalog than there are now.

Regardless of the impact on comic book retailers, the impact on tabletop retailers will be noteworthy, as on August 1st, Alliance Game Distributors will hold the Catan pipeline to North American game retailers.  In terms of support for specialized tabletop game retailers, Alliance Game Distributors will be creating an Asmodee Specialist Team for dedicated service of Asmodee products.  Additionally, AGD has announced “upcoming retailer initiatives to support and grow the market.”

“This is an amazing and transformational deal,” said Christian T. Petersen, CEO of Asmodee North America. “We at Asmodee have long enjoyed a terrific and productive relationship with the great people at Alliance. This deal joins the combined experience of both organizations to craft a communications and distribution infrastructure that we believe will positively affect both retailers and consumers in the hobby games market.”

“We are truly honored to be part of this historic agreement,” said Daniel Hirsch, president of Alliance Game Distributors. “Alliance has enjoyed a very close relationship with the companies that make up Asmodee North America for over 20 years. We are both proud and grateful that Asmodee has placed its trust in us for the stewardship of its brands.”

In addition to the original press release sent out by Alliance Game Distributors, I’ve also posted for the benefit of game retailers and hobbyists the two FAQ sheets with answers from Alliance and Asmodee as regards the transition.

Original press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ASMODEE NORTH AMERICA ANNOUNCES EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT WITH ALLIANCE GAME DISTRIBUTORS IN THE U.S.A.

June 1, 2017
Asmodee North America is excited to announce an exclusive distribution partnership with Alliance Game Distributors in the United States.
The multi-year agreement, which goes into effect on August 1st, 2017, is aimed at broadly increasing support for U.S. hobby games retailers. This includes the creation of a large, dedicated Asmodee Specialist Team at Alliance, significant updates to Asmodee’s sales policies, and a number of upcoming retailer initiatives designed to support and grow the market.
More information on updated Asmodee sales policies and details about upcoming retailer initiatives will be made available in late June.
“This is an amazing and transformational deal,” said Christian T. Petersen, CEO of Asmodee North America. “We at Asmodee have long enjoyed a terrific and productive relationship with the great people at Alliance. This deal joins the combined experience of both organizations to craft a communications and distribution infrastructure that we believe will positively affect both retailers and consumers in the hobby games market.”
“We are truly honored to be part of this historic agreement,” said Daniel Hirsch, president of Alliance Game Distributors. “Alliance has enjoyed a very close relationship with the companies that make up Asmodee North America for over 20 years. We are both proud and grateful that Asmodee has placed its trust in us for the stewardship of its brands.”
For additional information related to this announcement, please refer to the Q&A sheet attached hereto.
For sales and business inquires related to this announcement, please contact Brendan Bell, Hobby Market Sales Manager, at bbell@asmodeena.com.
For questions directed to Alliance Games Distributors, please contact Mike Webb, VP of Marketing, Data, and Customer Service, at mew@alliance-games.com.

FAQ sheets:

Hobby Games Retailer Questions to Alliance Regarding the Exclusive Asmodee Distribution Agreement in the U.S.

June 1, 2017 Q: Are there any specific areas we can expect things to improve? A: We are excited to be rolling out a number of new initiatives in the next couple of months that could not have happened in a multi-distributor environment. Please keep an eye out in the Alliance Alert and in ANA communications for upcoming changes – we believe these opportunities will be transformative and will create more value for retailers than ever before.

Q: If I don’t have an account with Alliance, how do I get one? A: To set up an account with Alliance, simply contact Marc Aquino, VP of Sales with Alliance at mla2@alliance-games.com and he will set you up with a Sales Manager to walk you through the process. You can also find our account applications online at http://www.alliancegames.com/Home/11/1/79/1162?articleID=127270

Q: I have some outstanding issues in the past with Alliance. I am concerned about reopening an account – what can I do to make sure things go smoothly? A: Contact Marc Aquino, VP of Sales at mla2@alliance-games.com or Mike Webb, VP of Marketing, Data, and Customer Service at mew@alliance-games.com. We are committed to working with you to clear up any issues on either side to make this transition a smooth and mutually beneficial one.

Q: How will this affect my supply of product? I liked my allocations with my former distributor better on ANA product. A: Although there will no doubt be some future products where demand outstrips supply, we do believe having a single source of the product will help to balance out some issues related to allocation of products. Alliance and ANA will also be sharing data more directly during the pre-solicit and solicit phases of a product, and providing extremely detailed analysis of sales within product lines. This will allow more accurate demand forecasting. In addition, allocation policy can better be coordinated on a product by product basis. Alliance’s history as steward of hobby sales for Days of Wonder and Catan products demonstrated considerable improvement in availability of product lines, and we hope to see many of those benefits accrue again.
Q: Is Alliance going to be able to handle the increased volume this represents? How can I know my orders will still be processed in a timely manner? A: Alliance has already begun hiring and training additional operations staff to handle increased volume. They have also undertaken significant investment in technology in their warehouses to increase the speed and accuracy of orders.

Q: How will the Asmodee Sales Specialists work? Will I have to place orders with 2 different people? A: In short, no – you can place your orders for ANA product with either. Your Alliance Account Representative will be there to help as always with the full range of Alliance products and services. The Asmodee Sales Specialists will have additional training and information on programs that can help your store better promote and sell the full range of ANA products. They will help guide you in growing your sales across the ANA brands, and will get to know your store’s unique needs and how ANA can best meet them. From assisting you with organized play opportunity to helping you gauge demand for new product or ANA lines you might not have carried in the past, they will leverage greater experience and information on Asmodee North America products to your store’s advantage.

*****************************

Hobby Games Retailer Questions to Asmodee Regarding the Exclusive Alliance Distribution Agreement in the U.S.

June 1, 2017

Q: Why did Asmodee decide to go exclusive with Alliance in the U.S.? A: It is our goal to provide hobby games retailers with the support and inventory they need to successfully grow their business selling Asmodee’s games. As part of this deal, Alliance will be making a significant investment to enhance our ability to communicate, support, and allocate our products.

Q: When does this go into effect? A: The agreement goes into effect August 1, 2017. Any new releases and restocks of Asmodee products that ship prior to August 1, 2017 will be available to retailers from all our current authorized distributors. Starting on August 1, 2017, all new Asmodee releases and re-stocks will be available exclusively to hobby games retailers through Alliance Game Distributors.

Q: How will this new exclusive arrangement benefit hobby games retailers? A: With this deal, Alliance Game Distributors is building a dedicated team of Asmodee Sales Specialists who will work directly with retailers to help them grow sales by understanding the retailer’s specific needs and providing in-depth product knowledge of ANA products and services. This sales team will also provide greater visibility into stock availability, allocations, and other retailer initiatives, as well as sending retailer feedback to ANA.

Additionally, Asmodee is developing updated sales policies and retailer initiatives that we believe will greatly benefit both retailers and consumers. More information about these changes will be made available towards the end of this month.

Q: How do I open an account with Alliance? A: To set up an account with Alliance Game Distributors, contact Marc Aquino, VP of Sales, at mla2@alliance-games.com. You can also find online applications at http://www.alliance-games.com/.

Q: I have additional questions for Asmodee, who can I contact? A: Please contact Brendan Bell, Asmodee North America’s Hobby Market Sales Manager, at bbell@asmodeena.com.

Q: I have additional questions for Alliance, who can I contact? A: Please contact Mike Webb, VP of Marketing, Data, and Customer Service, at mew@alliancegames.com.

Cross-posted on NerdSpan.com.

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Card Game

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Card Game Announced by Renegade Game Studios and Oni Press

Renegade Game Studios and Oni Press have announced the summer release of Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Card Game, a two to six player tabletop deck-building game designed by Keith Baker.

“Invite your friends! Throw a pizza party! But don’t get the cards greasy,” said Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan O’Malley.

Scott Pilgrim is an incredibly popular graphic novel series because it is so relatable,” says Renegade President Scott Gaeta. “Renting your first apartment, falling in love, and getting a job are things everyone’s gone through. Keith Baker has done an incredible job recreating these life choices in a deck-building format while incorporating the video game style button-mashing combo moves that we loved in the graphic novel fight scenes.”

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Card Game

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Card Game will have a MSRP of $45, run 45-60 minutes per game, and is described as:

…a deckbuilding game that challenges you to grow up and prepare for your finest hour. Players assume the roles of their favorite characters in the Scott Pilgrim universe, each of whom comes with a unique starting deck. Innovative double-sided cards let you decide whether to solve your problems with hard work and empathy, or whether to embrace the unpredictable world of gratuitous video game violence.

Beyond the video-game-style combo moves unique to each character, fans will also appreciate the innovative double-sided cards. Players will be faced to make hard choices about whether to fight or upgrade their life with each card placed into the Plot line. Defeating the Evil Ex and collecting Power-Ups will help players inch their way towards victory.

While pre-orders have not opened, you can bookmark the official Renegade Game Studios page through this hyperlink.

Cross posted on NerdSpan.com.


 

 

Random Encounter: Seas of the Sea Chicken Announced by IDW for May

Last year, Board of Life  reviewed Random Encounter: Plains of the Troll King.  While the game mechanics leave little room for players that enjoy strategic tabletop games, we admired its design, and its pluck in capitalizing on the Minecraft nostalgia boom decades before there was a Minecraft nostalgia boom.

Today, IDW announced the May arrival of the first expansion, Random Encounter: Seas of the Sea Chicken, also designed by James Keddie.

IDW describes the new installment as:

Random Encounter: Sea of the Sea Chicken brings 4 new special powers to the Encounter cards. With a black skulled card, you can double the combat strength of any Encounter that card is placed in, which can create an overwhelming advantage. Any Encounter card with a purple skull may flee to another one of your Encounters if the Encounter it is included in is attacked. Salty swashbuckler-scuttled swimwear swept sideways! Or something like that…

Also, while it’s described as an expansion, IDW also notes that it’s a “complete stand-alone product,” although this will not prevent players from combining the two sets into “hilarious off-the-wall land and sea mash ups.”

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Cross-posted on NerdSpan.com.

Add Batman the Animated Series Dice Game to Your Gaming Utility Belt

November was Nanowrimo, which had most of my free attention, but when I logged into Board of Life to post this BTAS Dice Game news, I realized it’s been over a month since I posted!  I still have a vision for this blog—and apparently, so do you, based on the traffic I still get even when nothing posts (November was my second best month in views and visitors)–so I’ll do my best to resume penning, even if it’s just news to share, like today’s.

From DC Entertainment, Cryptozoic and Steve Jackson Games comes the Batman The Animated Series Dice Game, which arrived today in gaming stores and Hot Topic locations just in time for the holidays.  Or, if you’re not looking for a gift for the Batman collector who has everything, you can add it to your own box of quick games.

If you don’t have a Local Gaming Store or a Hot Topic, you can order this directly through Steve Jackson Games.


backcoverpicture硬纸卡包吸塑包装:216x121mmbatman_dicebatmanimage

Game description:

The Joker, Catwoman, The Riddler, and Poison Ivy are pulling off elaborate heists to score as much loot as they can carry! Based on the award-winning TV show, Batman: The Animated Series™ Dice Game lets you become a Super-Villain in a press-your-luck game for the whole family. Roll the dice and take advantage of each villain’s diabolical abilities to scheme your way to victory before getting busted by Batman™!

Suggested Retail Price $14.95 * Stock number 131339
UPC 091037863218

Contents
10 custom dice, 4 large tokens, dice cup, and rules.


Batman The Animated Series Dice Game

Cross-posted on NerdSpan.com. Board of Life uses affiliate links.

Tabletop

Tabletop Season Four Launches With Lanterns Episode

Even if you’re not a tabletop gaming fiend, there’s no doubt that if you have any familiarity with YouTube at all, you’ve come across Wil Wheaton’s excellent show, Tabletop.  If you’re unfamiliar, the premise of the show is that Wil Wheaton and his friends play games, and in so doing provide useful and entertaining game play recap and commentary.  Fans of the show have been waiting for the fourth season to drop for some time, though we haven’t grown beards like those waiting for Winds of Winter.  

The first episode of season four has hit YouTube today, and it covers a relatively new release, Lanterns.  Wheaton has written on his personal blog that Lanterns was “the first game I officially locked into our schedule for this season.  His guests are Ivan Van Norman and Becca Scott from the show Game the Game, which Wheaton blogged today that he considers a “sister show,” and Zac Eubanks of Twitch.

I’ve embedded the video here on NerdSpan for your convenience, or you can hop over to YouTube through this link.

This article was cross posted on NerdSpan.com.

Lanterns The Harvest Festival Board Game

Board of Life uses affiliate links.

Thoughts on Splendor Online Play

Online play in the Splendor app is not yet a month old, and it appears to be, compared to other board games on mobile app stores, much healthier in terms of matching a bevy of eager players. It even seems easier to find other players than in the venerable Catan app, and it is much quicker to get the virtual table outfitted as well: from loading the app to picking your tokens takes less than a minute. Also, and most importantly, unlike all other mobile tabletop gaming apps that I own, the app forces players to stay involved by timing each player’s turn. In virtual Splendor, there are no agonizingly long three to five minute turns (although some players take an eon to realize that all they can do, if there are three short stacks, and there’s nothing they can afford or want to buy, is take three tokens or reserve a card). But if the other player’s timer does expire, congratulations! They just forfeited through being inattentive, and you won the game. This means that online Splendor, while slower than Splendor against AI, is much quicker than other games that feature online play.  However, it is still quicker than playing Splendor on a real-world tabletop, as most real-world players don’t use a timer, and there’s always that one Splendor player that takes two or three minute turns.

Possibly the most interesting aspect of this rapidity of play is that you are quickly introduced to a wide variety of Splendor strategies. I just finished playing a game with a player that started the game by reserving a red jewel card from the bottom row, and from then on in, was determined not to let me have any red jewel cards on the bottom row, so that whenever one would be placed, she would reserve it. As the green deck was top heavy with red cards, this meant that her first three turns required her to reserve three red cards in a row, so that while I quickly had a card and five tokens, she had three jokers and three reserved cards after the first three turns. Unfortunately for her, the next card placed in the bottom row was also a red token card, and as she had already reserved the maximum of three cards, and I had five tokens and a card, I was better suited to buying it before she did. I’m intensely interested in seeing how this kind of color monopolization strategy might work in another game in which the luck wasn’t as lopsided, but I will probably never play this way myself. I won this game 16 points to 10.

Another player closely scrutinized my till of tokens, so that whenever I was able to buy a point-scoring card, they would reserve it. This probably throws off other players’ games, but as I have played a lot of Splendor, and I have experience in diversifying my strategy, and they can only reserve three cards at most—cards that usually turned out to be useless to them, as they were saving very different colors than I was saving—I won 17 points to 5. However, I will admit to being more annoyed by this player than any other Splendor player, although the feeling was mitigated when I realized that they were stuck with three cards that did not match their game investments, which blocked their ability both to reserve cards and to get joker tokens for the rest of the game.

More than half of the players that I have played have reserved a card from the bottom row. Folks, this is a bonehead move, and tells the person across the table that you have no idea what you’re doing. I’ll allow the exception to this to be the color monopolization strategy I mentioned above, as I have only seen it used in one virtual game and no real-world tabletop games. Color monopolization on the bottom row may very well be a bonehead move as well, but I have little experience with the strategy to say either way. If your first three moves are to reserve a red card, a brown card, and a blue card, though, you’re definitely a mook, as the bottom row cards are inexpensive and plentiful, and are best purchased with a canny economy of three token draws and using prior purchases to make it cheaper to make future buys. Good Splendor players reserve around three cards per game, and they are usually three to five point cards. Sometimes a bottom row card might be reserved towards the end game if it is the color that a player needs to attract a noble.

spl01_annegood

For instance, if I have three green, three blue, and two white cards, and I need one more white to get the noble above, and the white card that costs three brown is drawn for the bottom row, reserving it to get the joker token to add to the two brown in my till will get me three points in the following turn—as long as another player is not about to take that noble.  This is usually the only instance in which I would reserve a card from the bottom row.

There are also the kind of players that you meet in real life, such as the Splendor Gamblers that like to reserve the cheap cards in the middle and top row as an opening move, for example the four point top row cards that only cost seven tokens of one color. While I almost never do this, and only reserve cards that I might play in a round or two, and very rarely reserve compeititively (taking a winning card from another player that will also give me the joker token I need to squeeze out a big purchase), when I see a player reserve a cheap card, it tells me that they know how to play Splendor, and this game will be more challenging than most. Experienced Splendor players fall on a continuum between Splendor Gambling and Splendor Economy, and one of the main disadvantages for a Splendor Gambler is that your early strategic reserves tell the other player that you grok the game while also telegraphing your strategy several moves ahead to your opponent.  I may return to the continuum of Splendor Gamblers and Splendor Economists in a future post.

While I’ve had a lot of fun playing the online mobile version of Splendor, I would only recommend it with the caveat that if you are not playing this game on a good WiFi connection, you could find it a frustrating pastime. If you have a rocket fast internet connection (I have Xfinity, which does the trick), and only try to play it at home on that network, you will probably have a great time with online Splendor play. If you’re trying to play through a 3G or 4G connection, you stand a good chance of being disconnected from the server, which the app counts as a loss for the player being disconnected. This is such a pervasive problem that on any given time if you enter the Online section of the app, the chat stream is likely to have one or two players venting about being disconnected.

Also, I should advise players that while I have mentioned in other articles on this blog that the Splendor app fits that five to ten minute sweet spot for a mobile game, that only holds true when you’re playing against AI. When you’re playing in the Online section of the app, even considering the timer running in the background, the games take at least 50% longer, around 15 minutes with an attentive opponent. 

However, even with these two criticisms weighing in, the Splendor app is currently my favorite online tabletop gaming platform, ending a period of several months in which, when I had ten minutes to kill, I would play San Juan or Puerto Rico nearly exclusively.

You can find my review of the tabletop version of Splendor by following this link.

Splendor Board Game


Splendor on Android.

You can find Splendor on iTunes through this link.

Board of Life uses affiliate links.

Warhammer

Reblog: Fantasy Flight Games Gives Up The Games Workshop License

For those of you with any Warhammer miniature, Wathammer RPG, or Wathammer 40k, background, I’d like to share this great breakdown on the separation of Fantasty Flight Games’ abandonment of their Games Workshop license.

Thank the “Hit Somebody” blog for this informative article.  Also, if there’s any FFG Warhammer product that you’ve been considering buying, his advice, that now is the time to buy before the product becomes prohibitively expensive in the resale market, sounds like sage gamers’ wisdom.

Who do you think will be likely to be the next Games Workshop licensee?  What tabletop game publisher do you think can manage the extensive Warhammer products in their catalog?

http://hitsomebody.com/fantasy-flight-games-and-games-workshop-go-separate-ways/#comment-1974


Here’s a dungeon door to all the Warhammer loot…