New Features: Gift Registries & the Wishlist

At the request of a customer and because it’s been bugging me for some time, we’ve added a major new feature to the site.  Actually, 2 features.

Permanent Wishlist Link

The first is the inclusion of a permanent Wishlist Link available for sharing on various social websites.  It can be founder under your Wishlist page and will be individual for each customer.

Note that due to a limitation in the way the Wishlist works, if an order is placed from the Wishlist link, it will not remove the product from your wishlist.  As such, it is a possibility to get more than 1 copy of the same game.

Gift Registry

To deal with this issue, we’ve added a new feature entitled ‘Gift Registry’.  You can create Gift Registries for:

  • General (if you don’t want to specify)
  • Birthday
  • Christmas
  • Weddings

You will be able to dictate which (or how many) gift registries you wish to create when you access the page in your ‘My Account’ folder on the site.  Other major features on the gift registry include:

  • Add gifts to registries and move them between registries;
  • Indicate gifts priority;
  • Leave comments for each gift;
  • Share gift registries with potential gift-buyers;
  • Indicate the date of event and address for shipping the gifts;
  • View the list of gift buyers associated with the purchased gifts and wishes left;
  • Search for gift registries;
  • Add gifts from other customer’s gift registries to theirs;
  • Track item’s status and view which items are Pending;

Limitations on the new gift registry system:

  • The database for your Wishlist and your Gift Registry are separate.  There is currently no way to port gift information between the two databases (sorry!)
  • Customers can only purchase items on the gift registry when placing an order.  There is currently no way for a giftee to purchase an item that isn’t on the gift registry on the same order.  It’s why we recommend everyone add ‘Gift Wrapping‘ to their registry just-in-case.
    • we are looking into fixes on this, but am uncertain when / how this could be fixed

I actually really like the Gift Registry system and would recommend you keep the Wishlist as a personal reminder, while using the Gift Registry as a ‘public’ place for products you’d actually like to buy.

Let me know if there are more registries you’d like for us to make.  We have the option of creating as many registries as we wish.

 

New Category: RPGs

One of the biggest pieces of information to come out of the survey we conducted a few months ago was the fact that quite a few of our customers are interested in traditional roleplaying games (RPGs), which we haven’t been carrying many of up to this point. In order to fill this gap, we’ve brought in a bunch of books from a number of roleplay systems and created a new RPG Category on the main site.

The following items are currently available for order, with the majority in-stock and ready to ship immediately:

The Dresden Files

Dresden Files: Our World
Dresden Files: Your Story

Pathfinder:

Pathfinder: 1001 Spells (Pre-order)
Pathfinder: Advanced Player’s Guide
Pathfinder: Bestiary 2
Pathfinder: Core Rulebook
Pathfinder: the Dread Codex – Goblins (Pre-order)
Pathfinder: GameMastery Guide
Pathfinder: GM Screen
Pathfinder: In the Company of Monsters (Pre-order)
Pathfinder: Inner Sea World Guide Campaign Setting
Pathfinder: Night of Frozen Shadows Adventure Path
Pathfinder: Ultimate Combat

Savage Worlds:

Savage Worlds Action & Adventure Decks
Savage Worlds Deluxe Core Rules
Savage Worlds: Totems of the Dead (Pre-order)
Savage Worlds: Deadlands Player Guide (Pre-order)

Shadowrun:

Shadowrun 4th Edition: 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Arsenal Core Rulebook (revised)
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Attitude Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Corporate Enclaves Core Setting
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Corporate Guide Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Dusk – Dawn of the Artifacts Adventure 1
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Midnight- Dawn of the Artifacts Adventure 2
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Emergence Campaign Setting
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Feral Cities Core Setting
Shadowrun 4th Edition: A Fistfull of Credsticks Adventure
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Ghost Cartels Campaign
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Vice Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Runner’s Black Book
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Runner’s Toolkit
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Running Wild Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Sixth World Almanac
Shadowrun: Spells and Chrome Anthology
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Spy Games Sourcebook
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Street Legends
Shadowrun 4th Edition: Street Magic Core Rulebook

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay:

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Adventurer’s Toolkit
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Set
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Creature Guide
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Creature Vault
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Edge of Night
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Game Master’s Guide
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Game Master’s Toolkit
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Game Master’s Vault
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Gathering Storm
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Omens of War
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Player’s Guide
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Player’s Vault
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Signs of Faith
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Winds of Magic
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Witch’s Song

Warhammer 40k: Dark Heresy:

Dark Heresy: Ascension
Dark Heresy: The Black Sepulchre
Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs
Dark Heresy: Church of the Damned
Dark Heresy Core Rulebook
Dark Heresy: Creatures Anathema
Dark Heresy: Daemon Hunter
Dark Heresy: Dead Stars
Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods
Dark Heresy Game Master’s Kit
Dark Heresy Inquisitor’s Handbook
Dark Heresy Radical’s Handbook

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader:

Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronus
Rogue Trader: Citadel of Skulls
Rogue Trader: Edge of the Abyss
Rogue Trader: The Frozen Reaches
Rogue Trader: Into the Storm
Rogue Trader: Lure of the Expanse

This current set of products is meant to serve as a starting point for what will hopefully be a substantial RPG section, and we expect our product list to grow and change to meet our customer’s interests. If there’s a particular book or RPG system that you’d like us to stock, please contact us and we’ll bring it in if we can.

New: Wednesday Sales

In an effort to make room for some of the exciting new stock we have coming in, and to showcase some good games that have not gotten the attention they deserve, Starlit will be holding a small weekly sale every Wednesday!

Each week, we’ll be singling out a few games and marking them down dramatically. They will be available at the deeply discounted price until the following Wednesday (or until stock runs out), at which point any leftover stock will return to its original pricing. We’ve also adjusted how reward points apply to these items, so customers enrolled in our Citadel Citizens Points Reward Program will be able to save even more by spending just a few points.

We’ve added a new “Weekly Sales” button to the website front page and a Wednesday Sale category to make navigation easier, and will be posting sale updates to the blog each week.

Make sure to check out our first batch of sale games, available at a special price until next Wednesday, October 5th:

Pre-Order Games List

SKU Name Release Date
BOARD GAMES
FFGDU14 DEADWOOD 9/21/2011
FFGMEC02 LORD OF THE RINGS LCG: “HUNT FOR GOLLUM” ADV-PACK 9/21/2011
FFGMEC03 LORD OF THE RINGS LCG: “CONFLICT/CARROCK” ADV-PACK 9/21/2011
GTM140 SENTINELS OF THE MULTIVERSE 9/23/2011
CZE 01212 WALKING DEAD BOARD GAME (TV) 9/28/2011
FFGMEC01 THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE CARD GAME 9/29/2011
FFGMEC05 LORD OF THE RINGS CG: “HILLS/EMYN MUL” ADV-PACK 9/29/2011
FFGTH16 TANNHAUSER: “MIZU” FIGURE 9/29/2011
FFGTH17 TANNHAUSER: ITAMI FIGURE 9/29/2011
ASMTIM01US TIMELINE 9/30/2011
BANREOUT RESIDENT EVIL DECK BUILDING GAME: OUTBREAK EXP 9/30/2011
FDD101056N CAN’T STOP 9/30/2011
FDD101059N BUYWORD DELUXE 9/30/2011
FDD101289N NUMBER PLEASE 9/30/2011
FDD101300N DRAGON RAMPAGE 9/30/2011
FDD101304N MONTAGE 9/30/2011
FDD101307N NEW ENGLAND RAILWAYS 9/30/2011
LOO040 ICE DICE 9/30/2011
LOO047 STAR FLUXX 9/30/2011
LOO048 LOONEY PYRAMIDS – RAINBOW STASH 9/30/2011
LOO049 LOONEY PYRAMIDS – XENO STASH 9/30/2011
SG2001 CONFUSION: ESPIONAGE & DECEPTION IN THE COLD WAR 9/30/2011
SG9002 SURVIVE: 5 & 6 PLAYER EXPANSION 9/30/2011
SJG5523A MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – RED 9/30/2011
SJG5523B MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – ORANGE 9/30/2011
SJG5523C MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – YELLOW 9/30/2011
SJG5523D MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – GREEN 9/30/2011
SJG5523E MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – BLUE 9/30/2011
SJG5523F MUNCHKIN JUMBO D6 – PURPLE 9/30/2011
SWPHGMS SUMMONER WARS: “MASTER SET”; 9/30/2011
TRG4003 A FEW ACRES OF SNOW 9/30/2011
TTT1002 HOMESTEADERS 9/30/2011
TTT1005 EMINENT DOMAIN 9/30/2011
TTT1006 BELFORT 9/30/2011
ZMG4075 DARK MINIONS 9/30/2011
ZMG7072 NINJATO 9/30/2011
ZMG7082 UNDERMINING 9/30/2011
SPM21101 SUPER DUNGEON EXPLORE 10/1/2011
BANSTDBG STAR TREK DBG: NEXT GENERATION PREMIERE EDITION 10/7/2011
ASMCLAU02US CLAUSTROPHOBIA EXPANSION 10/15/2011
ASMCYC02 CYCLADES EXPANSION 10/15/2011
CRS1001 CROSSROADS: ANCESTORS 10/15/2011
CRY01221 PENNY ARCADE DBG: GAMERS VS EVIL 10/15/2011
FFGDT030 DUST “TACTICS”: HEAVY-RECON GRENAIERS 10/15/2011
FFGDT031 DUST “TACTICS”: RED DEVILS 10/15/2011
FFGMEC07 LORD OF THE RINGS LCG: “RETURN TO MIRKWOOD” A-PACK 10/15/2011
FFGRW02 RUNEWARS: BANNERS OF WAR EXPANSION 10/15/2011
MNIMHP100 The MANHATTAN PROJECT 10/15/2011
QUG60221 DSCHUNKE 10/15/2011
TLC2003 BAG O’ ZOMBIES!!! 10/15/2011
TLC2012 ZOMBIES!!! 2 2ND EDITION 10/15/2011
TLC3900 LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD 10/15/2011
AEG5017 THUNDERSTONE: HEART OF DOOM 10/29/2011
AEG5303 NIGHTFALL: BLOOD COUNTRY 10/29/2011
AEG5401 NINJA: LEGEND OF THE SCORPION CLAN 10/29/2011
ASMECL01 ECLIPSE 10/31/2011
ASMQUE01 QUEBEC 10/31/2011
ASMSUL01US SULTAN 10/31/2011
ASMTAK01 TAKENOKO 10/31/2011
CMG1002 K2 EXPANSION 10/31/2011
CRY01212 WALKING DEAD BOARDGAME 10/31/2011
FDD101290N MIRROR, MIRROR 10/31/2011
FDD101309N EMPIRES: AGE OF DISCOVERY – BUILDER EXPANSION 10/31/2011
MFG3305 DISCWORLD: ANKH-MORPORK 10/31/2011
RIO454 DOMINION: HINTERLANDS 10/31/2011
ZMG7021E PANDEMIC: ON THE BRINK 11/1/2011
DOW 720113 TICKET TO RIDE ASIA MAP COLLECTION VOL 1 11/2/2011
ZMG7074 PALENQUE 11/15/2011
WZK 70474 QUARRIORS! RISE OF THE DEMONS EXPANSION SET 11/8/2011
WZK 70438 STAR TREK EXPEDITIONS EXPANSION SET 11/8/2011
GGS003 ASCENSION, STORM OF SOULS 11/25/2011
DOW 720114 TICKET TO RIDE INDIA MAP COLLECTION 11/30/2011
FDD101124 FOR SALE 11/30/2011
FDD101279N PASTICHE – 2ND EDITION 11/30/2011
FDD101305N ROAD TO CANTURBURY 11/30/2011
FDD101308N BAZAAR 11/30/2011
FDD101311 SANTIAGO DE CUBA 11/30/2011
FFGTI06 TWILIGHT IMPERIUM 3RD ED “REX”; 11/30/2011
FFGVA65 A GAME OF THRONES BOARDGAME 2ND EDITION 11/30/2011
HMS2000 JUMP THE SHARK 11/30/2011
IBCFPF1 FLASH POINT: FIRE RESCUE 11/30/2011
MFG4508 NIPPON RAILS (2011 EDITION) 11/30/2011
WOTR001 WAR OF THE RING 2ND EDITION 11/30/2011
FDD101306N ZONG SHI 1/30/2012

 

CARD GAMES

FFGCT14E CALL OF CTHULHU CCG: CONSPIR/CHAOS REVISED ASY PAC 9/21/2011
FFGCT48 CALL OF CTHULHU LCG: “CURSE/JADE EMPEROR” ASY PACK 9/21/2011
FFGGOT73 GAME OF THRONES LCG: “HERE TO SERVE” CHAPTER PACK 9/21/2011
FFGGOT36 A GAME OF THRONES CCG: CORE SET 9/29/2011
FFGGOT49E GAME OF THRONES LCG: KING/SEA “REVISED” EXPANSION 9/29/2011
FFGGOT66 GAME OF THRONES LCG: “KINGS OF THE STORM” DLX EXP 9/29/2011
FFGGOT74 GAME OF THRONES LCG: “QUEEN OF DRAGONS” DLX EXP 9/29/2011
FFGGW03 BLOOD BOWL TEAM MANAGER CARD GAME 9/29/2011
FFGWHC23 WARHAMMER: INV LCG: “THE INEVITABLE CITY” B-PACK 9/29/2011
FFGCT15E CALL OF CTHULHU: DUNWICH DENIZENS REVISED ASY-PACK 10/15/2011
FFGCT49 CALL OF CTHULHU LCG: “BREATHING JUNGLE” ASY PACK 10/15/2011
FFGWHC25 WARHAMMER: INV LCG: “THE IRON ROCK” BATTLE-PACK 10/15/2011
FFGGOT43E GAME OF THRONES LCG: CITY OF SECRETS CHAPTER PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT44E GAME OF THRONES LCG: TIME OF TRIALS CHAPTER PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT45E GAME OF THRONES LCG: TOWER OF THE HAND CHAP PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT46E GAME OF THRONES LCG: TALES/RED KEEP CHAP PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT47E GAME OF THRONES LCG: SECRETS & SPIES CHAP PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT48E GAME OF THRONES LCG: BATTLE OF BLACKWATER C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT51E GAME OF THRONES LCG: WOLVES OF THE NORTH C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT52E GAME OF THRONES LCG: “BEYOND THE WALL” C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT53E GAME OF THRONES LCG: “SWORD OF DARKNESS” C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT54E GAME OF THRONES LCG: “THE WILDLING HORDE” C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT55E GAME OF THRONES LCG: “A KING IN THE NORTH” C-PACK 11/30/2011
FFGGOT56E GAME OF THRONES LCG: “RETURN OF THE OTHERS” C-PACK 11/30/2011

Guest Review : Battlestar Galacitca Board Games

Battlestar GalacticaBattlestar Galactica is a 3-6 player semi-cooperative game based on the re-imagined series. Players take on the role of one of the major characters on the Galactica trying to survive after the Cylon’s attack on the Twelve Colonies. Throughout the game, players must manage of finite resources while trying to identify and mitigate the threat of any Cylons among the humans. A game of Battlestar Galactica takes about 3 hours.

Appearance: The components of Battlestar Galactica are of high quality and fit in the 12” X 12” X 3” box with plenty of room to spare. While all of the tokens, cards, rules, and board fit easily in the box, the insert that comes with the game is not at all useful once the cards and tokens are taken out of their shrink-wrap. Even a simple tray that could be used to store the cards would have been a nice touch. That complaint aside, the tokens are made of sturdy cardboard and feature clear art identifying its purpose. There are two sizes of cards: Mini-American – 1 5/8”X 2 1/2” and Standard American – 2 1/4” X 3 1/2”. Both card types look great and feature images from scenes from the television show. The smaller cards sometimes have more writing than I’d like on them, making them hard to read, but making them full- size would be too large. It’s a minor complaint and only really affects maybe 10% of the cards – and I’d prefer a little crowded over too empty.

There are 32 plastic ships in sculpts of Vipers, Raptors, Raiders, and Heavy Raiders. The plastic is a little malleable, but doesn’t seem to warp or bend much if accidentally bent a little out of shape. The sculpts are quite good and significant detail is shown on pretty small models.

The board itself is a 24” X 24” square that is dominated by an overhead view of the Galactica, with small areas representing the Cylon fleet, Colonial One, dials to track key resources (Fuel, Food, Morale, and Population) and other Tracks and card deck locations. The board is well designed and efficiently uses space.

Character cards are perhaps the best item in the box. The cards are cut in the elongated octagonal shape of the paper in the television show, which shows attention to the little details. A prominent photo of the character is shown as well as skills, character type and special abilities. Easy to read and quickly gather information from.

Rules/Ease of Learning : The rules for Battlestar Galactica are not incredibly complex, and the rulebook is generally well done. An experienced player can easily teach a new player how to play in about 20 minutes. The goal of the human players is to reach the planet of Kobol by executing 8 units worth of FTL jumps. Cylon players must prevent the human players from reaching this goal by depleting a resource to 0, a centurion invasion, or destroying the Galactica.

To start the game, players must select a character. Characters come in four types: Political, Military, Pilot, and Support, which correspond to the skills and how the character can help the Galactica. For instance, only Pilots can fly Vipers to defend against Cylon attacks, whereas Political leaders are more likely to be President, and Military leaders are more likely to be the Admiral. Players pick characters in an order determined by the table, but players must select from the types that are most plentiful (or Support). This ensures that each player has a sphere of expertise and that the largest cross-section of skills is obtained. Title cards (President and Admiral) are distributed to those highest in the line of succession. The President is the political head and can utilize Quorum cards to help the humans survive. Quorum cards can increase certain resources, brig suspected Cylons, and the like. The Admiral is the military head and receives two nuke tokens that can be utilized against the Cylon ships attacking Galactica. Both the President and Admiral also are called upon to make choices throughout the game from Crisis Cards or selecting FTL jump locations.

With the characters in play identified, a Loyalty Deck can be constructed. The Loyalty Deck dictates whether or not you are a Cylon or a Human and your Loyalty may change mid-game! The number of players and the characters in play will change the composition of the Loyalty Deck. Cards are dealt out and the remaining cards in the deck are set aside. Halfway through the game, a second card will bedealt to the players, which might change their allegiance.

Loyalty Cards are kept secret, so no one knows if or who is a Cylon. Deft Cylons can subtly prevent success of the Galactica’s crew. However, a Cylon may be discovered and becomes a revealed Cylon. Revealed Cylons harass the humans from the Cylon Fleet locations.

A game turn typically consists of drawing skill cards, moving, performing an action, and resolving a crisis card. To additional steps: Activating Cylon ships and prepare for jump are completed if a Crisis Card dictates that they should take place. Crisis Cards are either a skill challenge or a Cylon Attack. Skill challenges have a difficulty value and skill types that can help to resolve the challenge. Each player may place cards into a check’s pile but any skills contributed that are not identified as valid forthe challenge are subtracted from the total. In addition to the player’s contributions, a Destiny Deckplaces two cards in every check. This deck provides a little randomness and allows a Cylon to operateundetected by providing a degree of deniability. When a skill challenge is failed, one or resources are reduced.

Cylon Attacks represent situations where the Cylon Fleet has discovered Galactica. Cylon ships are placed on the board and create a physical threat to Galactica and nearby civilian ships. Cylon ships on the board mean that civilian ships may be destroyed (which result in resources being lost), Galactica being damaged, or Centurions boarding the Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica backGameplay : Battlestar Galactica is able to capture the feeling of the television show very well. The distribution of Loyalty Cards and the Destiny Deck contributing to skill checks feed the feeling of mistrust of your fellow players. The Destiny Deck allows Cylon players can covertly contribute negative cards to skill checks, which will make checks harder to complete, or sink the attempt entirely, furthering the Cylon agenda.

Each character’s special abilities and rules feel right and make them come alive. For instance, Baltar has the Cylon Detector once-per-game ability, which allows him to view all of one player’s Loyalty Cards. Baltar is also a coward and starts the game with two loyalty cards which increases his chance of being a Cylon and immediately makes him more suspicious. Another example is Starbuck’s Expert Pilot ability, she can make two actions when she starts her turn in a Viper; Insubordinate makes it easier for her to be thrown in the brig. Not only do the characters feel right, they seem to be well balanced against each other.

When the Cylon fleet arrives the space battles are furious and often very challenging. Strategically selecting how to manoeuvre in space to protect the fleet and Galactica is very important for the Viper pilots. Vipers are the main way for humans to prevent Civilian ships from being destroyed or Centurions boarding the Galactica.

Secrets are important in Battlestar Galactica. The cards contributed to a skill check are shuffled before revealing them, Loyalty Cards, and the Destination selected by the Admiral are all examples of secrets kept in the game. Again, this drives the tension and mistrust among the players skyward.

As a Cylon player, you need to weigh the risk of staying undercover too long against the damage you can do while unrevealed. Revealed Cylons cannot contribute as many cards to skill checks, but can activate the powerful Cylon Fleet locations. The most devastating parts of revealing yourself as a Cylon do not take place if you are in the brig – so choose when to reveal carefully.

There are a few minor issues with the game. First off, the sympathizer loyalty card is confusing and does not seem to add much to the game. The second issue revolves around the brig. If a human player is suspected of being a Cylon and is thrown in the Brig, influential players can keep that player in the Brig by convincing others to keep them there. A true Cylon would likely reveal themselves after an attempt or two to get out of the brig. A human player can only be released from the brig on a successful skill check, so particularly paranoid groups could leave a human player in the brig for the entire game – which isn’t much fun for the affected player. If the Cylons are able to get all the humans in the brig, well…game over.

Conclusion: One doesn’t need to know the television show to enjoy Battlestar Galactica, but it does help to really appreciate the game. The themes of trust and a race against limited resources are well showcased, and the characters are well designed and feel like their small-screen counterpart. If you’re a fan of the show or like games with hidden traitor mechanics, Battlestar Galactica should be on your game shelf.

September 2011 Newsletter

Guest Bloggers & Conventions

We recently made a request for some guest bloggers to help us write and review more games. We currently have 3 writers rotating through on a weekly basis. Let us know if you are enjoying reading the new guest reviews and who you enjoy reading the most – that includes Tao too!

We have a short Cos & Effect Con Report. Overall, not a bad first year though sadly there wasn’t an actual gaming location unlike what they promised us.

Lastly, we have VCon occuring between September 30 – October 2, 2011 and Bottoscon (a local wargaming convention) on November 4 – 6, 2011;  both of which we are sponsoring and attending.

Read more on our blog

Upcoming Games

Dixit : Odysey finally arrived on September 2, 2011 and all pre-orders have shipped. We still have a few Dixit pre-order cards available so we are shipping them with Dixit : Odyssey orders till we run out. The Twilight Struggle reprint has been pushed back again to mid-October.

More Pre-orders

Cos & Effect and Changes Behind the Scenes

Posting has been relatively slow lately, as we’ve been busy with a number of projects; mostly behind the scenes updates that make running the business easier.  I thought I’d do a quick update on the most recent changes as well as do a quick Con report for Cos & Effect.

Cost & Effect

Cos & Effect is the new cosplay convention in Vancouver after Anime Evolution went defunct.   Overall, for a first year, the convention went well with quite a few attendees.  The fact that it was their first year showed in a few places – e.g. the promised ‘gaming lounge’ was completely inappropriate for gaming with knee-high tables. However, overall it seemed pretty well run and we had few hiccups.  I’m looking forward to next year when I hope the vendors have a dedicated room; increasing overall security for our stock.

Sales-wise, it was significantly lower than Anime Evolution.  It’s partially, I think, due to the fact that the con-attendees trended towards the younger end of the usual AE spectrum, thus reducing their overall budget.  Of course, not being directly related to Anime or cosplay either,  we generally see lower sales at these events. Generally, we do these events for the exposure more than sales so I’m not completely stressed by the lower sales.

Hiring

We’re currently in the midst of attempting to hire again for a part-time position.  Business has picked up sufficiently that I’d like Kaja to focus on some additional duties, which she is unable to do so due to the increase in sales (and added complexity of running both Canada Post & FedEx right now).

It’s been interesting – on our worst day last Friday, we had 8 interviews arranged and only 3 turned up.   We currently have an offer out and will know at the end of this week if it’ll be accepted.  Otherwise, we might just have to bit the bullet and not hire anyone till October where we can attempt to hire someone full-time.

Site Tweaks

You might have noticed a new pair of options to sort games via ‘Bestsellers’ or ‘Reviews’.  It’s a minor tweak, that we think has provided a nice new viewing / sorting option to customers.

Game Reviews

As many of you might have noticed, we requested some guest reviewers last week and had some interested applicants.  I expect to get the first review later this week up, let us know how they do and who you enjoy.  I’m currently planning for 1 review per week, potentially increasing if these reviews get a positive response.

Back-End Changes

We’ve also tweaked our backend design a bit, making it easier and faster to process our orders and to find specific orders.  We’ve also redesigned our PDF invoices so that they’re easier to read to make it easier to note multiple copies of games.

Next on the list is an automatic upload of tracking numbers for Canada Post & FedEx.  This will result in faster shipment reports for customers.

August 2011 Newsletter

Site Improvements

There have been a lot of improvements to the site, both on a usability perspective as well as additional options for customers. Here’s a quick list and more details can be found on the blog post:

  • Local Pickup Appointment Calender .
  • 5 Reward Points for Tagging
  • Product Quantities
  • Search for Pages
  • Search for Products Improved with Auto-fill
  • Frequently Bought Together / Customers Who Bought This Also Bought

Site Updates & Conventions

This month, between August 13 – 14, 2011, a new convention is happening in Vancouver called Cos & Effect. It’s mostly a cosplay / steampunk event, but we will be hosting a gaming section right next to our vendor’s booth at their request. Lots of our open board games available to demo & play so drop by if you are in the neighborhood.

The first two of three posts concerning our survey results are out. These posts deal directly with the comments at the end of the survey. We’ll also provide select answers from the survey in our 3rd post later this month.

Lastly, we’ve added a new Google +1 link on the homepage. Please use if you have a Google Account to support us.

Read more on our blog

Upcoming Games

Dixit : Odysey has again been delayed, now we’re being told middle of this month but I’d caution optimism – we’ve had the release date changed on us 4 times already. On other notes, the Twilight Struggle reprint is expected sometime this month as is Rune Age and the next Lord of the Rings Adventure Pack.

More Pre-orders

Survey Results : Answering the Comments

As many of you know, we recently ran a survey and on the last page of the survey, we had a section that was an open comments section.  Many of the requests actually fell into the same subsets, so I thought I’d answer those as best as I could in this blog-post with the changes we’ve already undertaken / will undertake at Starlit Citadel or why not.  Don’t worry if your comments aren’t listed here or were positive, we saw them and will try to meet them if it’s feasible this blog post is to answer the majority comments as best we can :

Site Navigation & Design

Generally, comments on the site fell into the following categories:

  • Improve Search
  • More Product Information (release dates, recommended number of players & BGG ratings)
  • More varied Reward Points
  • More and better customer reviews

Changes:

  • A pair of new search modules that allows searches on information pages and autofills product information
  • Adding a new reward point option for creating tags

Forthcoming:

  • Adding a new ‘Expected release date’ page to the site
  • BGG ratings & rankings (might take a while, this requires coding!)
  • More product pictures.  This project is the next one slated after we finish building out shelves (about 2 weeks or so at current rate of progress)
  • Adding new promotional items for reward points and varied discounts. I’ll be field-testing some with regard to shipping to see if the code holds up.

Limitations

  • Well, sadly we can’t make customers review games, we can only incentivize them to do so.  It certainly seems we have been getting more reviews lately as we grow our customer base, so here’s hoping it continues to do so.
  • We also have an extremely large database of games currently, so updating any single information source (e.g. recommended number of players) takes a lot of time.  About 2-3 weeks of constant work.
  • Any work that requires coding is limited by the expense of working with our developers to create the custom code, so changes like that often occur in batches.

Local Pickups & A Storefront

There were a few areas that were requested with regard to local pickups:

  • easier scheduling
  • extended pickup hours
  • purchasing at the warehouse
  • a physical storefront / better location

Changes:

  • We set up the Google Appointment calendar so customers can schedule their own pick-ups.

Forthcoming:

  • We will undertake a trial run of some extended pick-up hours later this year during the Christmas season. Depending on the response, this might be extended to an on-going basis.

Limitations:

  • Cost.  The location we have is the best trade-off we could find between a convenient location (near the Cambie line & Skytrain) while keeping our costs low.  Sadly, we do have to give up a few things (like a proper entrance) for this trade-off.
  • Our current software is just too slow for order placement at the warehouse itself.  In addition, issues like cash handling and stock management come into play if we allowed this to happen on a regular basis; never-mind the fact that often we have orders that have to be packed before Canada Post / FedEx arrives.

Pricing & Shipping

Not surprisingly, the comments in this area boiled down to:

  • Lower Prices
  • Lower Shipping (or Free Shipping Thresholds)

Forthcoming:

  • In a few weeks, I’ll begin testing out the possibility of using Reward Points to discount shipping (or to reduce the Free Shipping Threshold).
  • We’ll be adding a regular sales special to the site as soon as we figure out how to automate some of the work of running the sales.

Limitations:

  • Capital investment.  Balancing how much of our profits go back into reinvesting and increasing our stock and how much to pay our on-going bills is a constant battle.  We currently have one of the largest selections of games in Canada, and are constantly increasing this selection.  We could lower our investment, and thus lower our prices but our selection would suffer.

Last Thoughts

We had a lot of fun reading all the comments, and while the survey could have been designed better (sorry about that !), we did glean a lot of valuable information.  We will probably be sharing extracts of that later on as well.

In addition, look out for a second post about individual comments that didn’t make the cut here, but that we found interesting.  We’d love to get your feedback on both the comments in this post and there as well.

Ongoing Site Modifications

There have been some improvements to the site, both on a usability perspective as well as additional options for use.  I thought I’d list them out here if you missed them:

Local Pickup Appointment Calender

We now have an appointment calender powered by Google.  If you have a Google Account, you can just log-in to the calender and book your appointment directly if you have a shipment confirmation.  This seems to be working quite well, with less calls to us and customers able to manage the appointments themselves.

Reward Points for Tagging

As a new way to get points, if you log into your account and tag products, for each approved tag, we will give you 5 reward points.  Hopefully, this will make navigating easier for customers.

Survey

Don’t forget we still have our survey running.  It’s a great way to get a 5% off coupon code and your comments and answers gives us a direction for improvements on the site.

Product Quantities

You might also have noticed that we’ve decided to make product quantities in the warehouse live.  We hadn’t done it before due to competitive fears, but have decided that customer convenience trumps our fears.

Search for Pages

We’ve added new functionality on the site to allow searches on our article / FAQ / etc. pages.  This should make it easier for customers to find information about things like what to do with our Reward Points or our Local Pickup policies.

In addition, we’ve added a new module for Search that should make searches better.  If you type the first three letters of your search, a list of related items will appear immediately to auto-complete your search.

Frequently Bought Together / Customers Who Bought This Also Bought

We’ve also finally gotten the automated code installed on the site that provides upsell / cross-sell information direct from our database of actual sales, so hopefully this information is now more useful for customers.