What to do with your Used Board Games

unnamedAs gamers, we  have a tendency to hoard games.  However, after a certain point, it’s easy to realise that you’ve just run out of space or that game that you loved when you purchased it hasn’t been played in over 2 years.  Or perhaps you never really liked the game and it’s just sitting on your shelf.  Thankfully, there’s a lot of ways to deal with your overflow of used games.

Trade Them

Obviously you can trade games with your local friends but one of the most efficient ways to trade games is to use the BGG Math Trade.  A Math Trade is a multi-person trade that uses your preferred wants to set-up the most efficient trade percentage. Rather than doing a direct trade between person A and person B, you might trade give your game to person C to get a game from person B who is getting a game from person D who is receiving a game from person E, etc.  It’s extremely efficient and local math trades allow you to trade without shipping while country / continent specific trades give you a wider range of games and people.

One interesting aspect of Math Trades is that you might even find a gift card or two available for trading. The biggest hurdle is setting up your games for trading and then learning the software / system.  Also, unless you are careful in making your decisions, you might get less than stellar trades (or none at all if you are too picky!) The other major disadvantage is that math trades (especially local one’s) only happen once in a while, so you must be willing to be patient.  It’s also worth noting that if you are taking part in a shipping trade (i.e. country / continent / international trade); shipping costs can be high as you are shipping to multiple locations.

Sell Them

If it’s cash or a cash equivalent that you are looking for, then selling your games would be the way to go.  There are a few major options, especially in Canada:

  • used items sites like Craigslist and Kijiji allow you to reach your local marketplace
  • bigger sites like eBay and Amazon require more set-up and knowledge to use but reach a wider audience (normally country wide).  They take a larger % of your sales though (minimum 15% plus with eBay listing fees)
  • at local conventions (if they have a used game auction table)
  • direct to game stores like us.  You’ll likely receive the lowest price compared to the other methods but you can sell in bulk and ‘ship’ in bulk, reducing your own overhead

Donate Them

Lastly, if none of the above methods work, you could always donate your games.  Obviously stores like the Salvation Army & Value Village will be happy to take your games, but some other options include:

  • Local conventions to increase their game library
  • Your local library might run / be starting to run local board gaming nights and need a more robust library
  • Homeless shelters, the Boys & Girls Club, local daycares and the like often would grateful for a few good games

 

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. 

 

Whispering in the Wind

Sometimes it’s scary posting online on this blog.  It’s not that as if we are such a big player that what we do / what we think / what we want is going to change anything by posting.  In fact, posting anything controversial is just asking to be signaled out as a troublemaker.  It wasn’t a problem when we were tiny and no one read this blog (like when we started); but now we actually get citations from Wikipedia and even have people read us across the world.

It’s not as if we even get money from this blog – at least, not the business posts.  So why bother?

Truthfully, I think it’s the perverse side of me that likes poking the bear.  Or teasing my wife.

There are other less self-destructive reasons of course:

  • Education – somethings are outside our control. The more we educate our customers on these aspects, the less difference there is between their expectations and our reality there is to occur.  It creates a smoother customer flow.
  • Analysis – writing these posts generally require me to conduct analysis, not only on the topic on-hand but on my thinking processes.  Occasionally, that’s actually been useful.  I hate writing reports, but a blog post can help me structure my thoughts in the same way.

Overall, I post what I want when I want to. I try to watch what I post though based off the idea that nothing I ever post will disappear; so I best be willing to stand by it.  That corollary though means that I don’t post a lot of things, because this is a public forum still.

Gaming in the Community: Saanich Neighbourhood Place

Every year, we make a number of donations to community organizations, libraries, and schools that integrate board games into their education programs. It’s a great opportunity to connect with the community, and to see how gaming can be used for more than just entertainment. Whether it’s an elementary school starting up a gaming library or a teacher getting their students to exercise lateral thinking and creativity with some well-timed games of Dixit, board games are becoming a great way of broadening children’s and youths’ education, and making learning more interactive and engaging.

We recently donated a number of board games to a unique program run by Jordan Czop at Saanich Neighbourhood Place in Victoria, BC that uses gaming as a way of building important skills for local teens. Below, Jordan talks about the program, and the impact that gaming has had on the community he works in.

Continue reading “Gaming in the Community: Saanich Neighbourhood Place”

Video Game Reviews – The Journey

As many of you know, we are raising funds to increase the number of videos we will shoot for Season 2 of our video reviews.  As a business, we can slot the ‘cost’ of making the video reviews into our marketing budget as an expense, but as you can probably tell from the IndieGoGo fundraiser, shooting 52 reviews a year is expensive.  16 reviews = $7,000; so you can do the math on what 52 reviews cost us this year.  It’s the reason why we cut down to 26 next year from self-funding and are having additional videos directly funded by our supporters.  Truthfully, it still probably isn’t a good ROI on our marketing expenses but there are other considerations beyond pure direct ROI.

The Beginning

I first started looking at producing video reviews over 4 years ago in 2009 when both the technology and our business had grown to a point that I had some funds for marketing.  It was there I first ran into the huge cost involved in shooting video reviews — at least in the format that I wished to shoot the videos.

Of course, we could just buy a camera and shoot the reviews without editing/formatting, but as you can tell from the site I’m leery of doing relatively ‘unprofessional’ work.  There have been notable successes in the ‘amateur’ format, but more often than not it just fails.  With cost ranging from $400 – 500 for just a pure video shoot without casting costs and script writing, I just couldn’t afford to do it back then.

The First Attempt

In early 2010 I met a young theater student at the VSO.  After some discussion, I made an offer to pay for the shoot for our first attempt at video reviews.  She had done some work with videography before and had some contacts which she intended to use.  So I provided the games and we scheduled time to look at her storyboards.

Things went well at first, if slowly.  A basic storyboard for a couple of the first reviews appeared and then exams came along, and she dropped off the map.  Months of silence followed before we talked again, at which point she opined that she had no time to do the work and returned the games.  By this time, it was late 2010 and I just gave up on the project, having to deal with other problems.

Sponsorship

At the same time, we were sponsors of Board to Death from when they first launched in late 2009 till late 2010.  As a new video review site, they had no prior ‘affiliations’ which meant it was possible for us to make an arrangement with them.  In addition, they were a Canadian company which was always nice to see. However, over time I grew dissatisfied with the sponsorship due to my lack of control, both over the branding aspects of the videos and the overall format.

Strange Co-Incidences

By 2011, with the hiring of Kaja to the company I was beginning to get ‘breathing room’ once more to look at this project.  Our first major convention together was Cos & Effect at UBC.  At the convention, a new webseries production was touring the vendor tables promoting their first season.  Dressed in some really cool costumes, they seemed like real geeks and, as importantly, knew what they were talking about.   I struck a conversation with both Rob & Joanna, being the curious type, and blathered on about how hard it was to shoot reviews for our site at a reasonable cost. At that time, Rob offered to provide a quote at a more reasonable cost and we agreed to follow up the discussion after the convention.

The Second Run

Our first set of videos in 2011 were a test run.  As a business, we needed to know if it was a viable addition — both in amount of work, the cost and the new processes we needed to make it an on-going project.  We also needed to iron out potential problems with scripts, the shoot times and our game selection.

It was also Kaja’s first big project, and we decided to set some overall objectives for the videos.  We came up with a few:

  • the reviews should be professionally shot and edited to provide a ‘clean’ feel
  • we’d use 2 reviewers instead of 1 to reduce the ‘burden’ of the script
  • videos should be short.  Each video review should be 5 – 7 minutes in length
  • they had to be consistently released and couldn’t be a one-shot project

With those objectives in mind, it was a no-brainer to hire Joanna to co-host.  As a professional actress she could handle the scripts with ease and she had solid geek credentials as well.  Her co-host was decided to be Kaja rather than me as she is significantly more articulate. In addition, I am somewhat uncomfortable with such a public ‘image’.

The first 3 months of videos we shot managed to reach most of those objectives. We had some issues with script length and regularity, but the first test run worked well enough that I was willing to commit to a full year’s worth of video reviews for 2012.

The First Season

The first full year of the reviews was always going to be rough.  Shooting each review (or block of 4 reviews like we do) ended up taking more time than we had expected, both in the need to write and edit the scripts as well as reviewing the final products.  Our earlier reviews had a tendency to get too long and we had to spend some time working out the best way to condense data, often by condensing rule information.

At the same time, in our first year we needed to cover both newly-released games as well as old classics.  So we had to balance shooting newer games with much older ones such that we had a proper library of reviews.

An additional finding for us all was the need to balance the types of games we reviewed in each ‘block’: too many rules-heavy games made up for very long shoot nights, so we needed to make sure each shoot had 2 ‘light’ and 2 ‘heavy’ games.

Lastly, we had to deal with games sent to us for reviews.  At first, we took any games that were given to us and reviewed them.  This actually caused problems in scheduling, with other ‘better’ games sometimes pushed back as we had to review donated games.  Nowadays, we’ve got a better procedure but in the beginning we ended up caught out due to our early willingness to take whatever was offered.

The Second Season

So why did we cut our season in half? Not surprisingly, it had to do with money.  As I mentioned, the ROI for the videos was just not there, at least not for another 52 videos.  We just couldn’t justify the cost and the budget for it, not when we had so many other expenses.  Part of the reason was that the number of viewers within Canada was significantly lower than I had expected, especially compared to the total viewership.  On the other hand, we wanted to open the door to extra videos beyond what we could self-fund if there was a demand for it — and thus the IndieGoGo project was born.

For me, Season 2 will be interesting.  While I have a mostly hands-off relationship with the video review project, I do provide some input to Kaja & Joanna.  To me, Season 2 allows us to focus on newer games especially, since we have begun to receive demo copies of games from publishers on a regular basis.  At the same time, I’d like us to film more expansion reviews as this seems to be another gap in the current review climate.

Video Review Update : New Playlists and Articles

In lieu of a new video this week (as our videographer/editor is off at GenCon), we’ve sorted our existing videos into themed playlists for easier browsing.

If you’re a fan of classic Euros like Power Grid and Agricola, check out the Strategy Games list for new ideas, while fans of Arkham Horror and Battlestar Galactica can go to Thematic Games for inspiration. Newcomers to the genre and gamers hoping to rope in a friend or partner can use our Gateway Games list as a starting point, and those looking to kick back with something lighter should take a look at Fillers and Party Games.

We’ve also added a special Gateway Games article to our main site, which adds suggestions for where to go next once you’ve played and enjoyed one of the basic games in our list.

We’ll be back with a new video next Monday, and will be updating these playlists and adding new ones as we upload more content. If there’s anything you’d like to see us do to improve the channel and make it easier for you to find the games and videos you want, let us know.

Inventory Management

Let’s talk about one huge area of the business that, if managed poorly could put any game store out of business – Inventory Management.

The goal of inventory management is to ensure you have the inventory you need to sell to your customers, without over-stocking.  In a perfect world, a customer will always see the exact item they want in-stock; while every other item they aren’t going to buy is out of stock.  Of course, a series of bare shelves that have nothing but 1 item doesn’t offer a whole lot of confidence on the state of the shop either.   And of course not every customer knows what they want until they see it – so part of the goal of inventory management is to have enough stock for casual browsers too.

One of the methods recommended for managing your inventory is what they call an ‘open to buy‘ system.  It basically is a budget that tracks your inventory dollars based on what you have sold previously and what your goals are for inventory.  However, while it can track individual product items, it generally is better used at a higher level (e.g. full categories like board games, rpgs, etc).

Instead, what we use is a minimum stock quantity method , keeping a specific level of product in-stock at any one time. When that level is reached, we re-order to bring us back to our maximum quantity levels.  The advantage of such a system is that theoretically, we will never run out of stock for our bestsellers since we’ll always have sufficient quantity of them.

A major disadvantage – we’re keeping track of stock (even if most of this is automated) on a granular level.  If an item goes from a slow-seller that we want to keep 1 copy in-stock at any one time to a medium seller (where we might want to keep 2 copies in); we have to manually update the information.

The system also doesn’t automatically account for slowing demand.  Most games slow in demand over a period of time; and it’s something we have to manually adjust for.

The other disadvantage is that we often face ‘inventory creep’.  With the minimum stock level method, as we continue to add new inventory on an on-going basis to the store, old inventory has to be manually ‘removed’ from circulation.  If we don’t manually adjust this on a regular basis and for example the next ‘hot’ item is Descent : Journeys into the Dark 2nd Edition which is a more expensive game, we can expect to see our inventory numbers creep up.

Right now, as we grow we just manually review these numbers in the balance sheet and hope to adjust every few months; though we’ve begun looking at a more vigorous and consistent method to ensure we aren’t putting all the profits the company generates into new stock!

SEO – What Doesn’t Work Anymore

For those of you who don’t know – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the term used when a website attempts to list themselves on the front page of the Search Engines for certain keywords.  There’s a lot that goes into SEO and because it is based on the ranking algorithms of the search engines, it’s constantly changing.  What you knew to work a year ago might not actually be valid anymore.

I’m going to discuss what isn’t valid any longer, in hopes of getting less spam:

1) Blog Commenting

This hasn’t been valid in about 2 years. Ever since the  ‘nofollow’ attribute was added, most blogs automatically ‘nofollow’ all blog comment links.  So stop sending out your spambots. It doesn’t work

2) Reciprocal Links

No, I don’t want to exchange links with your random site on porn / casino games / celebrities.  No, really.  I don’t care – reciprocal links haven’t worked in… what? 5 years?

3) Directory / Search Engine Submissions

No, I don’t care or want to submit to 50,000 directories.  The vast majority of those directories are junk and certainly not worth paying you to submit my site to.  Worst case scenario – you could actually hurt me.

4) Page Rank

I don’t care what your Page Rank is.  It’s nice you’re at 5. So what? The data is inaccurate and out-dated by at least 6 months.