New Releases: January 29th, 2014

7-Card Slugfest
Aliens vs. Zombies
Babel (Z-Man Edition)
Cardboard Card Box – 3000 Cards
Disc Duelers
Dropzone Commander: Ruinscape
Dust Tactics: SSU Steel Guard NCO Command Squad – Heavy Red Command
Dust Tactics: Allies Heavy Destroyer Walker – The Six Shooter/Bulldog
Dust Tactics: Axis Blutkreuz Pioneer Squad – Sturmaffe
Fairy Mischief
Hordes: High Command – Savage Guardians
Risk: Mass Effect Galaxy at War Edition

A gorilla, a dog and a horse walk into a bar…

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.

So, a gorilla, a dog and a horse walk into a bar.  What do you think they see? For each, their perspectives would be so different – from height differences to colour ranges to their ability to manipulate objects in the bar.  How would you construct a bar for each of these 3 animals (if they could use it).   You’d have to have a place for the horse to stand, the gorilla to sit, the dog to lie… you’d have to have tables with 3 different heights.  What if they all wanted to sit together?

Could you imagine building a retail store that could / would do that? It sounds like a science fiction only bar…

Yet, if you own an online store; you commit to doing that very fact every day. 

There are currently 4 major browsers in use – Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer.  Each of these browsers has a minimum of 3 majorly used versions, some more.  Each version will ‘view’ your website slightly differently and each browser will process code vastly differently at times.

On top of that, people view your website from multiple devices – mobile phones, tablets, mini-tablets, desktop computers, etc.  Each of these will have different screen resolutions and screen sizes – you’ll need to code for that too – individually quite often for each of the above browser versions.

Then add plugins or add-on’s that are available for each browser.  Have an Norton Antivirus system scanning pages? How about Adblock? Each of those could affect how the browser handles the webpage again.

Replication and Fixes

That’s why if you hit a bug on a site and you complain about it, it might never get fixed – or it could take a while to get fixed.  The simple truth is that as a small business, we have to triage.

  • What’s the problem?
  • Is this replicable?
  • If not, is it in a critical area of the site?
  • How many people would / could this affect?
  • What browser / operating system / device are they using?
  • Has this been reported before?
  • Is this something we can fix?

There are times when a problem comes in and all we do is sit on it.  It happened to you – okay.  Maybe it’s just you – let’s see if we can replicate.  If we can’t, maybe it’s just that user.  Sometimes, the user’s not a gorilla, a dog or a horse.  Sometimes, the user might be a porpoise.

How big is big?

It’s weird working in this industry.  The fact is, there are very few big companies in it – you can probably count the number on one hand, especially if you put Hasbro and it’s subsidaries together.  On both the publisher and retailer level, there just aren’t many large companies and even what is considered large to us is often laughable in other industries.  Fantasy Flight, probably one of the largest board game publishers out there has what? 50 employees or so?  That’s barely pass ‘small’ company designation.

Most publishers, by definition are micro companies (1 to 5 employees) and only a few may be considered ‘Small’ (1 to 50 employees).  Most retailers fall into the micro-really small company range.  The largest retailers out there generally only have 8 – 12 employees, many of them part-time.  Few retailers have more than 1 branch, those that do often don’t have more than 4 or 5.  As a franchise, that’s ridiculously low.

So, it strikes me strange sometimes when people declare us a ‘big’ company.  We might be (and I say might since I don’t know the business operations of any our other competitors) larger than other online retailers in Canada, but compared to say the Sentry Box in Calgary, we’re tiny.  Compared to the online companies down in the states, we’re tiny.

It’s one of those things about perceptions.  We work in this small industry, so something that seems bigger is considered big – but when taken in relation to everything else, we’re all tiny really.

Kickstarter / 3rd Party Fulfilment

Please note, we now have a full website dedicated to our 3rd Party Fulfillment Services.

One of the newest things we’ve started exploring in the last few months is being a 3rd party fulfillment centre.  The reason we’ve started looking into is more of a coincidence.  We worked with Common Man Games to help with their Heat Kickstarter and the upcoming Police Precint reprint and are potentially talking to another party to act as a fulfilment centre.

Then, we had a discussion with the Euphoria designer, Stonemaier Games with regard to their game itself and mentioned we might be willing to do fulfilment.  He had a post coming up on Kickstarter fulfilment, and so we threw together a rough costing outline.  Taken directly from the post:

If a pallet of goods is shipped to us in Vancouver, BC, we will break it down into individual orders and ship them directly to Kickstarter backers. As all of the stock would be shipping out almost immediately, there’s not storage cost. We would charge the following rates to ship 1 simple order per backer (1-2 individual games, or a pre-made bundle containing multiple items), totaling 2kg or less, anywhere in Canada:

  • Receiving cost: $20.00/hour, including unpacking all of your games, and inspecting them for damages. We can receive roughly $1000 worth of goods in 1 hour.
  • Handling cost: $3.00/order, including collecting items, packing them with appropriate padding, creating a shipping label, and sending tracking details to the recipient.
  • Shipping cost: $13.00/order if packed in a 13″x10″x4″ box (fits standard-sized Euro games like Pandemic, Puerto Rico), or $14.00/order if packed in a 12″x12″x4″ box (fits standard Fantasy Flight Games, and larger Euros like Dungeon Petz, Euphoria). This covers Canada Post Expedited Parcel service, which ships to Ontario/Quebec in 4-5 business days, and across the country in about 1 week. Shipping is fully insured, and we would be responsible for missing parcels, damaged goods, etc.

Other services that we can provide for an additional charge include handling cross-border shipping and brokerage for the initial shipment (we have the option of using a shipping address in Blaine, WA and bringing stock across ourselves), processing more complex orders (multiple tiers of custom backer rewards, etc), and handling backer support within Canada by sending out replacement parts for defective copies. The above is a basic estimate for our most simple service, and we’re happy to discuss every designer’s specific needs with them and providing a customized quote.

 This is a rough costing and is subject to change.  Shipping cost might be significantly higher or lower, depending on what size the game / product is.  For example, for the Heat we just shipped it via Lettermail.  The order handling cost is for a few easy to pack items – I’ve seen Kickstarters (e.g. Bones) where there a million variations on the product type.  Those are much more complicated than a few variants.

The one thing I’d love to lower is our shipping cost, but until we get to the size of Amazon, it really isn’t possible.  Anyway, if you have questions or are interested in taking part in this program, you can always e-mail us direct at ksadowski@starlitcitadel.com and we can discuss the program in more detail.

 

New Releases: January 10th, 2014

Dropzone Commander: UCM Raven Type-A Light Dropships
Dropzone Commander: UCM Falcon Gunship
Dropzone Commander: UCM Archangel Interceptors
Dropzone Commander: UCM Kodiak ACV
Dropzone Commander: Scourge Intruder Beta Light Dropships
Dropzone Commander: Scourge Desolator
Dropzone Commander: UCM Starter Army
Dropzone Commander: Scourge Starter Army
Dropzone Commander: Shaltari Starter Army
Dropzone Commander: PHR Starter Army