Star Wars Extended Game Universe

Fantasy Flight Games has created an ever expanding array of licensed Star Wars board games.  Here’s a quick guide to explain the various board games and how they all fit together.

Star Wars: the Card GameStar Wars: The Card Game (2 players original)

The Star Wars: Card Game (SWCG) is initially a 2 player living card game which expands to multi-player games with the Balance of the Force expansion.  In Star Wars: the Card Game each player takes control of either the Empire or the Rebellion, attacking and defending various objectives that they’ve chosen to place in their deck.  As a living card game, each chapter pack introduces new objectives, new events, locations, characters and equipment allowing for a wide amount of replay ability.

Star Wars RebellionStar Wars: Rebellion (2- 4 players)

Star Wars: Rebellion has players take control of the forces on a galactic level.  Players control the forces of the Empire or the Rebellion using cards and leaders to take actions, with the abilities of the leaders affecting the results of each card.  Star Wars: Rebellion is an asymmetric board game that is best played with only 2 players and is best played by dedicated players who can explore the various strategies of the game over a series of games.

 

sw-armadaStar Wars: Armada (2 players)

Taking a step down from the galactic level, Armada has you controlling fleets of spaceships and squadrons of fighters in a miniature battle on a 6′ x 3′ area.  Players command capital ships and squadrons using command stacks which indicate what actions they can take while the  maneuver tool is made of a hinged ruler, with each segment indicating the turning circle for a capital ship.  The Star Wars: Armada Core Set gives you enough ships to begin playing immediately, but really to develop and experience the game fully, players will need to either purchase individual ships or a second pair of the Core Sets.

sw-x-wingStar Wars: X-Wing (2 players)

While Armada lets you command capital ships, X-Wing puts you in the seat of your ship, dog-fighting other planes in a smaller 3′ x 3′ area. Players choose their ships using a point system which includes both the ships and the pilots while movement and shooting arcs are chosen using pre-made rulers, simplifying the entire fighting system compared to traditional miniature games.  Like Armada, the initial core set gives you a taste of the battles you can have, but you will quickly need to expand your fleet significantly.

Star Wars: Imperial AssaultStar Wars: Imperial Assault (2 – 5 players)

Star Wars: Imperial Assault has one player as the Empire and the other players as the Rebel troops.  Each game of Imperial Assault has the rebel troopers attempting to complete specific objectives to win while the Empire attempts to stop them.  SWIA is a campaign game that runs over a course of missions with both the Imperial player and the Rebel heroes gaining new experience and skills, allowing characters to evolve as the story unfolds.  Using FFG’s Descent system for adventure games, SWIA comes with various map tiles that allow players to create unique adventures each game.

 

Star Wars: Empire vs RebellionStar Wars: Empire vs Rebellion (2 players)

Star Wars: Empire vs Rebellion is a fast-paced card game for two players which re-implements the Cold War: CIA vs KGB card game. In the game, you and your opponent match wits and resources over key events.  Whether you seek to triumph through military might, or use diplomacy to achieve your ends, the fate of the galaxy rests in your hands.

swd01-03_boxesStar Wars: Destiny

Recently announced, the Star Wars: Destiny is a collectible card and dice game where each hero has it’s own dice whose roll indicates you may be able to spend to enhance your side or deal damage.  You also have a thirty-card deck of cards that you’ll draw throughout the game. 

 

New Board Games: September 28th, 2016

Android: Netrunner LCG – Android Fiction Novellas: Monitor
Ashes: The Duchess Of Deception Expansion
Ashes: The Roaring Rose Expansion
Fire! Fire! Firefighters!
Fight for Olympus
Grimslingers
Lotus
Merchants and Marauders: Broadsides
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu
Runebound (3rd Ed): The Mountains Rise Adventure Pack
Runebound (3rd Ed): Fall of the Dark Star Scenario Pack
Warhammer 40,000: Conquest LCG – Against the Great Enemy War Pack
lotus-board-game

Warehouse or Retail Store?

Game LibraryWe are coming up on our end of the lease fast and while we’ve made the decision that we will be moving to a new location as our rents have now increased to a point that we no longer think it’s worthwhile to stay, the question we are still working our way through is whether to go full retail or stay as an online store.

Warehouse

Continuing to run a warehouse makes a lot of sense in many ways.  There are some major pros including:

  • well optimised polices and procedures
  • ability to take on more and larger Kickstarter projects
  • potentially branching into other non-related product lines in ways that don’t create confusion among our customers (e.g. selling sporting equipment on a new website)
  • lower cost (we can get warehouse spaces for cheaper than what we are paying right now, so we’d actually drop our cost!)

The Cons though are somewhat more nebulous

  • new location likely to be less central significantly
  • growth has to come from new categories as our gaming category has slowed
  • potentially being locked out further by publishers
  • it’s boring…

Retail Store

Going with the retail store, things get a bit more interesting for the future, with some of the pro’s including:

  • new revenue streams from snacks & drinks & events
  • ability to access and run events / games likes Magic the Gathering and miniature games
  • increase in sales to casual drop-in’s and potential increase in sales from impulse buying of our geek products
  • significantly more options for PR and social media outreach

However, there are some major cons:

  • significantly higher lease cost (we’re looking at least another $4,000 a month at a minimum, more likely $5-7k).
  • new staff and staffing hours would be required.  Approximately $3k more in terms of staffing cost per month
  • loss of revenue from Kickstarter projects.  We probably could handle the smaller projects still, but the larger projects would be difficult (i.e. we couldn’t quote on projects over a few hundred games just due to lack of storage areas for them)
  • new capital requirements for shelving, gondolas, POS systems, etc.  At least another 5 – 10k depending on how nice we want to go.
  • potentially sub-par location.  We need a minimum of 2,500 sq ft and are probably looking at 3,000 up to 5,000 sq ft.  There just aren’t that many locations of that size in Vancouver, especially in retail and for the prices we can afford which would raise the total rent even higher
  • too close locations are another major issue as there are so many game stores right now, finding a location that isn’t too close to an existing store is another problem.

There’s also a rather concerning trend in real estate pricing.  In general, commercial pricing seems to run 2 – 3 years behind retail pricing, so if there is a drop in sales in retail pricing, we might expect a price drop in a few years which means that any lease we sign right now might be on the high price.

New Board Games: September 22, 2016

America: A Party Game Where Close Counts
Baby Blues
Coup: Rebellion G54 – Anarchy Expansion
Hit Z Road
Munchkin: Marvel Edition 2 – Mystic Mayhem
Retreat to Darkmoor
Shadows of Brimstone: Trederra Deluxe Otherworld Expansion
Shakespeare
The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet
The Resistance: The Plot Thickens
The Spoils: Decade of Deckadance
Tragedy Looper : Cosmic Evil Expansion
Zany Penguins
shakespeare

New Board Games: September 15th, 2016

Adventure Time: Card Wars – Doubles Tournament
Behind The Throne
Book of Lairs (5th Edition)
Covert
Exposed
Fearsome Floors (Restock)
Little Drop of Poison
Magic the Gathering: Take The Crown Boosters
Magic the Gathering: Take The Crown Booster Box
Medici
Potion Explosion
Raid and Trade
Spielbox Magazine: Issue 3 (2016)
Spellcaster: Potions
Strife: Shadows and Steam
Street Kings
Tome of Pawns (5th Edition)
VYE (Second Edition)
covert_2

Charities & Budgets

Charity QuoteWe get a request for a charitable & promotional contribution of some form about once every 2 weeks. Most of these charities or groups are people who we’ve never even heard from before and many don’t really offer much in terms of marketing opportunities.  Many are also only tangentially related to our industry, so many of these e-mails are just ‘mass’ mailings to see what they can get.

Over the years, we’ve varied how much and under what conditions we’ll provide charitable contributions.  One hard and fast rule we’ve made though is not to support any charity / event that isn’t Canadian.  After all, most of our customers are Canadian and sending product across the border increases our cost so much, there’s really no point.

Currently, we don’t have a hard budget for our charitable contributions.  Part of that is due to the fact that we generally provide products as our contribution, which allows us to be a bit more flexible in what we can offer.  Thankfully, being in this industry, we can generally provide decent games that aren’t complete turkeys that don’t sell well for us.  Still,  even without a budget we need a way to guesstimate how much to send to each charity (unless said charity already has sponsorship levels).

That’s where we start assessing potential return and relevance.  If you are a gaming related event / charity, it makes more sense to provide more products to you.  If it’s for an event where we expect the games to be used regularly, we’ll provide more (examples including schools and libraries looking to expand their programming).  On the other hand, if it’s a charity for pet therapy for example, there’s not a lot of relevance for us.

From there, we also look at the size of the event.  If it’s an event with only 50 people arriving, it’s no use sending 20 games.  If it’s an event where there’s a few thousand, then a larger contribution makes sense since it ‘spreads’ the contribution around further.

One thing we don’t do, or haven’t done, is chosen to support / advocate for any specific cause.  Of course, we ran the Lower Mainland Christmas  Bureau’s  donation drive last year, but it’s not a ’cause’ if you will.  There’s a few reasons for that, mostly due to my belief that my personal views / feelings shouldn’t impact the way the business is run. Still, now that Christmas is coming, I’m wondering if we should look at running another charity drive.

 

The Summer Free Shipping Promotion

Free Shipping Promo of $100 cancelled As many of you know, the Summer Free Shipping Promotion has ended. As with any promotion or marketing tactic, one of our main goals is to evaluate the promotion to understand whether it actually hit it’s goal – that is, drove more sales and traffic. Normally, all we’d have to do is compare the previous period (i.e. same months last year) to this period and; adjusting for regular sales increase, figure out the difference in both revenue and number of sales. Unfortunately, as many of you know, we had a huge problem in the middle of the month – the Canada Post strike/lockout threat. This created a huge amount of uncertainty and we even had to turn off the promotion at some point as we switched to shipping via UPS.

How much difference did the threat of a Canada Post strike make in our sales? Well, we saw a 31% drop in total shipments and about 35% in total in June where the strike affected us most. That’s a huge drop, especially when you realise that the next month (August) we saw a full 40% increase. Now, you could say that the 40% increase was from the free shipping but there’s also an argument to be made that the increase is in part due to orders that were ‘held-off’ during the strike period.

On top of all this of course is the calculation needed to figure out the difference in profitability. It’s not enough to know how much more we made (if anything); it’s also important to know how much more we paid in shipping. There’s 2 main ways to do this of course – a line by line review (matching each free shipping order to it’s associated cost in our invoices) or we could go with averages. In this case, we work out the average cost of shipping each order and compare it against our previous year to work out the increase / change and compare it to our average revenue generated from shipping. This lets us know the difference that each order ‘cost’ us to ship, which then lets us work out the increased cost of shipping. Unfortunately, again; not that easy since we also have a bunch of Kickstarter shipments in our invoices. Which means we have to individually take it all out to actually work out our actual cost of shipping.

Overall, here’s what we figured out:

  • The lower free shipping threshold probably generated an increase in orders
  • This increase mainly came from existing customers, not new customers
  • Surprisingly, the average sale value saw only a small change (6.82%)
  • Profit margins per order dropped by about 16.98%

However, because of the strike our total number of orders actually dropped in comparison to last year (about 16%)  during the period in question.  It’s hard to draw any real conclusions because of the strike, though there is enough data to suggest that if the strike hadn’t happened we would have seen an overall increase in number of orders.  The question which we can’t answer is whether that increase would make up for the drop in our profit margins (we need about a 34% increase overall to breakeven on the loss in profits) since the two months we just don’t have enough data / time to make it clear.  My guess is that it probably a wash if a slight decrease in our overall profit, which is why we’ve moved back to the $175 free shipping option for now.

New Board Games: September 8th, 2016

Code 777 (30th Anniversary Edition)
Descent 2nd Edition: The Chains That Rust
Grifters
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Gunslinger Class Deck
Thief’s Market
The Pursuit of Happiness
The End of The World RPG: Revolt of the Machines
The Lord of the Rings: The Drowned Ruins Adventure Pack
Zombicide Black Plague: Special Guest Box – Naiade Characters
Zombicide Black Plague: Special Guest Box – Edouard Guiton Characters
Zombicide Black Plague: NPC 1
Zombicide Black Plague: Special Guest Marc Simonetti
sg8023_l

The Warehouse Sale & the Game Library

The Warehouse Sale

We spent just over a week going through every item that’s come in in the last few years, adding everything that we don’t intend to carry on a regular basis from now on.  To help clearance everything, we’re providing an additional discount that is linked to how many clearance items you purchased.  The discount works this way:

  • Buy $50 of clearance items, get a 5% discount on non-clearance items
  • Buy $100 of clearance items, get a 10% discount on non-clearance items
  • Buy $250 of clearance items, get a 20% discount on non-clearance items

For this additional discount to show up, you’ll need to purchase all of these items at the same time.  The shopping cart should automatically add the appropriate discount level to all non-clearance products.

The Game Library

Game Library

 

We’ve launched our game library with membership open to those in GVRD.  We’re running this as a test program to see the level of interest for such a program.  While there are over a 100 games in the library, it’s quite clear that there are a lot of newer games that are missing.  The goal is to increase the game library inline with our membership numbers, with membership dues being used to add to the game library.

Of course, in the beginning we’re looking at purchasing game demo’s since it’ll keep our cost down, but depending on the level of interest, we might just add a few other games don’t have a demo program too. If there is very little or no interest, we’ll probably put the program on hold but we’ll likely try to run the program though to the end of the year at least.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have on the new program below.

Miniature Lines

Lastly, one thing we’ve decided on is to reduce the number of miniatures we have been stocking.  Instead, we’re switching over to special orders for the vast majority of miniatures other than our Bones line.  As these items are going to be on special order, we are also reducing our markup somewhat as the pricing on the new Guild Ball items will illustrate.  As usual, if there’s a miniature you’d like to purchase which isn’t on the site, e-mail us and we’ll add it to the site for your special order.