Category Archives: Around the World of Board Gaming

Around the world of board gaming July 2017

Lots of news to cover around the world of board gaming. We will talk about GenCon, game theory, the market outlook for Hasbro and, of course, The (New) Gaming Annex. Hope you enjoy it!

Around the World of Board Gaming July 2017

GenCon 4 day badges are sold out

GenCon logo
GenCon logo

What happens when 60,000 of your closest gaming buddies all sign up for GenCon? If you said, “GenCon sells out for the first time in its history”, you’d be correct. There are no more 4 day passes for 2017. The badges, which sell for $90, sold out this month.

This is the 50th anniversary of GenCon. To commemorate this, the officials at GenCon wanted to top all their previous attendance goals. They pulled out all the stops.

They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants

They even have a concert.

They Might Be Giants is playing at the stadium adjacent to GenCon. And GenCon goers have access to ticketing.

We should conclude that 4 day passes for next year’s GenCon will sell quickly; everyone who missed out this year will want to buy their badge early in 2018.

 

Hasbro is not a good buy

Hasbro
Hasbro

I rough up Hasbro a lot on this blog. But there is no denying that they make lots of money publishing toys and games. This is due to Hasbro’s strong performance in the market place and Mattel’s missteps.

But Hasbro reported their smallest sales in 1.5 years. This past quarter was not kind to the publisher-we-love-to-hate. Hasbro had to rely on Transformers: The Last Knight toys and Spider-Man: Homecoming action figures. And these two franchises were not up to the task. Hasbro gets 50% of its revenue from overseas. Sales in Brazil and the UK were lower than expected this quarter.

But there is no cause for long term concern. Hasbro has the rights to the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. Hasbro is the publisher of choice for many Disney IP toys. Hasbro is also launching a board game delivery service this fall. So don’t panic. We will be able to use Hasbro as a punching bag for many years to come.

Game Theory in Geopolitics

North Korean military prowess
North Korean military prowess

The situation in the Korean peninsula is heating up. It’s not bad enough that the Korean War ended in 1953 with a stalemate. But 64 years later the situation is deteriorating.

The regime is run by the grandson of the dictator who precipitated the first conflict there. This new dictator, Kim Jong Un, seems insistent on demonstrating his ability to launch rockets against the US.

While this is a topic of importance, what we focus on here is gaming. And the strategists working for the defense of the USA are using game theory to flesh out a course of action. Game theory is about playing the player along with playing the game. The game here is geopolitics in the Korean peninsula. The players are North Korea, South Korea, China and the USA. And game theory assumes rational actors.

Along with NPR’s article on the subject, Project Syndicate has a good background on the subject here. The use of game theory in geopolitics is not new. The Kennedy’s used it to game out a scenario to “win” the Cuban Missile Crisis. Our current administration is doing the same with North Korea.

 

Close to Home

851 W. Laketon Avenue 49441 The Gaming Annex
The (New) Gaming Annex

So we moved.

Our new location is at 851 W. Laketon Avenue Suite A. This is near Henry Street in the city of Muskegon. The building is an office/retail site along with some industrial warehousing in the rear.

We moved from 1976 W. Sherman Boulevard due to a change in ownership in the strip mall we were renting. We were there just under five years. After a tearful goodbye, we have moved to some new digs. We had over 10 people in our group helping out moving, loading and even renting trucks to aid the move. I was overwhelmed. I’m very grateful for this gaming community.

Our new place is about 50% bigger than the old place. We now have 1,300 square feet, compared to about 800 before. We have three separate rooms which helps keep noise and distractions down. There are a two annoying things about the new place. The first is the air conditioning. The A/C is a work in process. I’m hoping that the climate will be under more control this Tuesday. The second is parking. Just ask Brandi.

Muskegon Watch Us Go
Muskegon Watch Us Go

I’m confident we can work out these bugs. I’m hopeful this new location will work out long term. The location should be conducive to recruiting too. Lots of foot traffic. And Rick Jima, one of our misanthropes, is working on getting a new $20 awning. Expect big things!

 

Byte Club Gaming of North Muskegon
Byte Club Gaming of North Muskegon

Speaking of new locations, our former partners, Byte Club Gaming, moved. Abruptly. Like, no fanfare or anything.

Byte Club Gaming of North Muskegon is now Byte Club Gaming of Pentwater. Per their facebook and website, they are offering the same services as before, just in northern Oceana County.

We wish them the best of luck in their new location. Their new location will put them outside the scope of the Muskegon Area Gamers. But with little luck and a lot of hard work, they turn that resort town into a thriving gaming community.

Extra Life logo
Extra Life logo

I guess that makes more room for Griffin’s Rest. Speaking of which, I had the pleasure of meeting with Kiel and his partner, Dan, this month. We discussed our plans for this November’s Extra Life event. Griffin’s Rest will be having an event at their two story retail outlet on 3rd Street.

Kiel said final preparations for his store are under way. He should be open in August.

And we will be there to support!

 

To follow local news, check us out here:

 

Around the World of Board Gaming June 2017

Here’s this month’s installment of Around the World of Board Games. For those that are new to the website, this is a monthly column where we look at news coverage of our hobby. Note: this is different than board game news where you learn about upcoming releases and such. Feel free to send me a link of your favorite news sites that cover topics related to board gaming.

Around the World of Board Gaming June 2017

 

A Weak British Pound Means Strong Profits for GW

Games Workshop
Games Workshop

I’ve blogged about Games Workshop several times here. Maybe not most recently but definitely most importantly was when I covered GW’s divorce with Fantasy Flight Games. The decision to do so was underpinned by Games Workshop’s long term desire to stay profitable. So how’s that workin’ out?

Turns out: pretty dog gone good. The UK pound is dropping in value compared to other currencies. This making Games Workshop’s exorbitantly priced games and accessories semi-affordable in the US and Canada. The publicly traded company is reporting revenue of £158 million. This is a massive amount of revenue for a company that only makes designer games. Maybe Hasbro can take note.

 

Hasbro launches a monthly game crate subscription service

Hasbro
Hasbro

Speaking of Hasbro. Hasbro wants to cash in on the board game craze. And their idea is to compete with Game Bento and Game Box Monthly, i.e., ship games to you for a $50 per month subscription.

The subscription service is slated for a fall 2017 release. Hasbro is offering two options: family games or party games.

The debut offering for the family subscription will be Mask of the Pharaoh, a release of the Mask of Anubis. This is going to be an app driven VR game fused with a board game. The party games will include some offerings in the vein of Cards Against Humanity.

While this author will not be partaking of Hasbro’s subscription (nor most of Hasbro’s game releases for that matter), I will stipulate that Hasbro is gaining on Mattel. Hasbro’s game division is growing, fueling Hasbro’s stock value increase over by 30% over the past 12 months. Over the same period, Mattel has dropped 35%. At this rate, Hasbro will surpass Mattel as the world’s largest toy manufacturer in a few years.

 

NPR does a write up about Cthulhu board games

Cthulhu Wars will fit in perfectly at The Gaming Annex.
Close up of Cthulhu Wars

Way back in February 2015, I wrote about the upcoming release of Cthulhu Wars from Green Eye Games. Well someone at NPR, probably Peter Sagal, was most certainly reading this blog for material for their recent article: H.P. Lovecraft’s Monster Is Wrapping Family Game Night Up In Tentacles.

The article is a decent background as to why Cthulhu games are so popular recently. Since all of HP Lovecraft’s works are now in the public domain, publishers and gamers are mining the mythos for inspiration. The article does make an insightful remark: the rise of Cthulhu games is due in part to the rise of cooperative games. This is probably true since fighting Cthulhu requires a team effort.

The article includes art from the game Cthulhu Wars, a game with the most obnoxious flair in modern board games.

Board game session ends with two players arrested and one hospitalized

Muskegon supports family board game groups.
Family Game Group

An dispute took place during a board game in Washington Parish, LA, about 70 miles north of New Orleans. The dispute was between a Venus Vanessa Camacho and her boyfriend’s mother. The boyfriend, one Kurtis Strong, intervened on behalf of his girlfriend, allegedly striking his mother with a frying pan and then choking her. The couple were arrested. The mother was hospitalized.

The local ABC affiliate in New Orleans didn’t say what game the family was playing.

 

Close to Home

The Burrow in Grand Haven
The Burrow in Grand Haven

The Burrow in Grand Haven has closed down. I’m not sure when they closed down (last week or  6 months ago…) I only recently found out about their closing. This is the second straight month I’ve had the unfortunate duty of reporting on a local establishment closing their doors.

The Muskegon Area Gamers had a crossover event with The Burrow. This was in February 2016 when we did A Game of Thrones demo for their regulars. This also marks another unfortunate pattern: another local establishment closed down after the Muskegon Area Gamers had an event there. The first two times were with the Brew House and Shoreline Minis.

Certainly the cause for these closures is not related to our beloved group (at least I hope not). Still, I’d like to hear from The Burrow’s owner, David, about what the reasons were for his closing and what his plans are for the future.

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

The Gaming Annex might be moving. I know, I know. You’ve heard this before. But the circumstances are again such that we may move. The owner of the building 1976-1996 W. Sherman Blvd has evicted everyone but us. He wants The Gaming Annex to stay because we are a long term tenant (going on 5 years) and thinks that will help him sell the building to a prospective buyer.

The uncertainty of the situation has caused me to look again at commercial property. Ideally I’d like to stay in the lakeside area of Muskegon. We will remain at our current location into July if not through July.

Muskegon Area Gamers love Into the Woods Retreat
Into the Woods Retreat

We had our fourth gaming retreat. Called CabinCon IV, this event was biggest yet. It was also our first coed CabinCon. The shindig was an unmitigated success. A shout out to Dusty for putting it together. And another shout out to all the Muskegon Area Gamers who attended. It’s been a great year!

Around the World of Board Games May 2017

I’m looking forward to making this a long running column. This month’s Around the World of Board Games will look at the recent United Airline debacle, legacy mechanics, a horrible break-in caught on camera and of course, news regarding the Muskegon Area gamers.

 

Around the World of Board Games May 2017

 

Legacy mechanics in the news

Risk Legacy
Risk Legacy

If you’ve been part of the gaming hobby for the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Rob Daviau or at least heard of his games. Rob Daviau is the creator of the legacy mechanic. He designed Risk Legacy, Pandemic Legacy and SeaFall. With all of these games having a high rating on BGG with Pandemic Legacy currently at #1, Daviau is ubiquitous to those of us in the hobby.

But he’s also gaining notoriety from the main stream press as well. A recent article in Slate had a write up about Daviau. The article explains the legacy mechanic for those in the main stream who are not board game geeks. The fact that Slate would touch the topic of board games is news in and of itself.

Muskegon Masonic Temple
Muskegon Masonic Temple

What I got out of the article was that there is a super secret cabal for game designers. Alan Moon hosts this yearly game convention for designers and publishers only. And the bash has the rather Spartan name of “Gathering of Friends”.

It was here that the Slate author met Daviau and tried out SeaFall.

The UK’s Guardian also had an article about Daviau as well. It covers much of the same ground as Slate’s article. Both articles are an interesting read from a designer’s note point of view. And both show that our hobby is getting some attention from at least the Tier 2 main stream media.

 

United Airlines debacle and game theory

On Sunday, April 9th, United Airlines forcibly removed a passenger from one of its connector planes. The removal was captured on several cell phone videos and uploaded to social media. The videos and story went viral. This debacle could only have been worse if United had actually conducted the removal while the plane was in flight. Luckily for the doctor who was victimized by the Chicago Aviation Police, the plane was still at the terminal.

Around the World of Board Games May 2017
Game Theory infographic

While this story has been reported on much more thoroughly and professionally than by me here, this story does have a board game angle. NPR did a write up about the incident and how game theory applies to it. Game Theory is the mathematical modeling of rational, intelligent decision makers in a given situation. Game Theory applies to board games at the meta level. And per NPR, it offers a solution to United Airlines to fix its PR problem.

All airlines overbook flights. They got to. They need to fill seats to make money. They overbook because often enough some passengers will back out at the last second. But what happens when this is not the case? If you treat the situation as a game, you could have a win-win situation.

Around the World of Board Games May 2017
Stryker! Stryker! Strike her!

First, you do not allow passengers onto the plane when you are overbooked. People become emotionally attached to things they believe they own. United could pay someone $400 to skip a flight if the passenger is at the gate but might have to pay $2,000 once the person is already on the plane.

Next, you use technology. Passengers get updates about late flights. Why not have updates about overbookings? Offer them $2,000 to sit out a flight. If you have more people taking the $2,000 than needed, reduce it to $1,500. Use this auction system to find the minimal cost it takes to reach equilibrium.

Once the airlines have done this several times, they can start to analyze their data and find trends. They can anticipate which passengers will be willing to take a voucher and which won’t. And they can accommodate all their customers better.

The NPR article is a read for the board game community. It shows how our approach to gaming strategy can be applied to real life situations. Give it a read and comment below with your thoughts.

 

A game store in Mansfield, Ohio has a break in

Sunday morning of April 23rd was not a good day for Brian and James Mann. The brothers own the game store in Mansfield, Ohio called The Realm. The store specializes in Magic: the Gathering, selling singles and boosters and also supporting tournaments locally. But on April 23rd, the brothers found their store was the site of a break-in.

Magic: the Gathering
Magic: the Gathering

The store sports numerous security cameras. The thieves can be clearly seen breaking into the store. The images are some of the crispest ones I’ve seen of security footage of a crime. The culprits’ faces and general appearance should be completely recognizable should the videos be watched by anyone familiar with the hoodlums.

Store owner Brian Mann said he lost about $8,000 in cards. Mann also said, curiously, that the thieves were probably not familiar with Magic as they took flashy cards instead of expensive cards. While I don’t doubt Mann’s expertise on the subject, one must wonder what would make two thieves strike a game store and take cards when they don’t know the value? Why wouldn’t they just knock over a liquor store or a jewelry store?

As of this blog, the culprits are at large. I will update you if there is a break in the case.

 

Close to home

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

Our group had its second foray into Twilight Imperium: the Long War. And like our first foray, Jon was the big winner. I’ve tapped Jon to do a write up about our session. Look for it on this blog later this week.

Muskegon Area Gamers love Into the Woods Retreat
Into the Woods Retreat

CabinCon IV is right around the corner. This will be our biggest event yet: 12 have signed up. Last minute details are still being ironed out. I’ll keep you posted as the date gets closer.

Scattershot Hobbies in Montague
Scattershot Hobbies in Montague

Scattershot Hobbies in Montague has closed their operations. And the closure seems a bit…abrupt. Customers were surprised to see the notice on the door that the locks were changed due to noncompliance.

The store was first noted to be closed for good in April although I cannot confirm this with the owner. The store opened last July amidst some fanfare from the local press. I’ve heard rumors as to why the store closed. When I get a few sources to go on the record, I’ll publish that information here. As of now, the Griffin’s Rest has only one competitor: Byte Club Gaming in North Muskegon.

The Griffin's Rest
The Griffin’s Rest

And speaking of the Griffin’s Rest, the store’s facebook page says it’s slated for an early June opening. The Muskegon Area Gamers are looking forward to working with Kiel and his crew. I’ve got a feeling our relationship with the Griffin’s Rest will be far more beneficial than our previous sorties with local game stores.

 

 

 

 

Who we are…

 

 

 

Around the World: Board Games in the News

It seems that board games are popping up  in the news with greater frequency. And I don’t just mean on boardgamegeek.com. Board games seem to be reported semi-regularly at CNN and the like. I’ve settled upon a new column where I will keep all our readers (namely my mom and Nick Sima) abreast of these breaking developments.

Around the World of Board Games

 

  1. The CIA uses board games for training

Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency

The CIA has started using board games to teach its officers and political analysts. It seems games are an excellent method for teaching analytical skills,  team building skills and keeping the trainees engaged.

At SXSW Conference (South by Southwest for you noobs), the intelligence community gave a panel discussion called, “Cloaks, Daggers, and Dice: How the CIA Uses Games.” The designer of Cuba Libre and Andean Abyss, Volko Ruhnke, is a former intelligence trainer. He was at the recent tech panel where these training techniques were discussed.

Collection by the CIA
Collection by the CIA

The brainchild of this new board game initiative is David Clopper. Clopper too is a game designer, albeit unpublished. He makes games for the CIA trainees to play. He assesses their performance based on plausible scenarios. Seen here is “Collection”, one of his games. The trainees must work together a la Pandemic to resolve three world crises.  And the roles the players take on are “economic analyst” or “political analyst”. The must gather intel on these crises without allowing the world to descend into chaos.

By all accounts, gaming is not going away as an intel training paradigm. The CIA has said they will be using VR games as a tool very soon.

 

Monopoly reimplements its tokens

New Monopoly pieces
New Monopoly pieces

Hasbro has given the Monopoly tokens (another) makeover. Hasbro conducted a poll across 100 nations to find out what the next generation of Monopoly tokens should be. In its wisdom, Hasbro has removed the boot, the thimble and the wheel barrel, replacing them with a rubber ducky, a T-Rex and a penguin.

Monopoly cat replaces iron
Monopoly cat replaces iron

This is after the inclusion of the cat. In 2013, Hasbro, following this same script, conducted a poll to find out which token to include. The iron was cast into the dustbin of history to make way for a cat with a large “M” flea collar.

Given that Hasbro has been replacing the inanimate objects (iron,, boot and wheel barrel) with animal tokens (cat, tyrannosaurus, penguin and duck), I’ll make a bold prediction. In 2020, Hasbro will conduct another survey, after which they will replace the famous Monopoly top hat with an earth worm.

 

The Day a Board Game Broke Kickstarter

Rising Sun crashes Kickstarter
Rising Sun crashes Kickstarter

What happens when the designer of Blood Rage decides to launch a sequel set in feudal Japan? If you said, “It breaks Kickstarter”, you would be correct.

The Kickstarter project was launched on March 7. It required $300,000 to be fully funded. It met that goal in 30 minutes. It then met a server error from so many gamers chomping at Eric Lang’s bit. The error 503 screen appeared before disappointing gamers who wanted to nab a Rising Sun early bird promo.

Kickstarter was able to resume its website eventually. This has allowed Rising Sun to reach 11X its required goal.

 

Cards Against Humanity designer is not a fan of ISP’s buying our internet histories

Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity

Bill SJ Res 34 has caused a lot of stir. It essentially says that Comcast et. al., can sell your browsing histories to third parties. Presumably third parties want this information so they can market to you more effectively..

But Max Temkin is one of the bill’s more creative critics. Max is the co-designer and publisher of the ubiquitous naughty party game, “Cards Against Humanity”.  Max has put his sharp wit to use in recent days. He has lashed out via twitter about this bill. He said if congress passes this, he will buy and publish the internet histories of all the members of congress.

While the bill nor the ISP’s would allow such a quid pro quo sale, Temkin said he would buy all the histories within the congressional ZIP codes and piece together which histories were which members of congress.

 

Closer to Home

The Griffin's Rest
The Griffin’s Rest

I continue to be amazed at the pace Kiel and his crew have set for themselves. Kiel’s aggressive plan to open his Griffin’s Rest Game Center on 3rd Street is a growing reality. The store almost looks legit now.

The date for opening has not yet been set in stone. But I’ll notify all of you when I hear word of it.

As far as The Gaming Annex goes, I’ve been working part time with a internet consultant to improve our online presence in the hopes that we continue to have a strong base of gamers. To this end, the Muskegon Area Gamers now has an instagram account. We also will be improving our websites and SEO a bit.

 

Other News

If you have any news you would like to see here, please comment below or follow the links…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Closer to home