Category Archives: Board Game News

Who owns the rights to Twixt?

A fascinating conversation on boardgamegeek has inspired me to write this post. Most of what I’m writing here is covered in the 6+ pages on BGG. However, I would like the story to be read more generally than on the Twixt “news” forum on BGG.

Who owns the rights to Twixt?


What is Twixt?

The fences and posts of Twixt
The fences and posts of Twixt

Twixt is an abstract game where players place posts and fences in an effort to connect their pieces from one side of the board to the other. The board is a 24×24 grid of peg holes. You place one post in the grid on your turn. If you have posts on the opposite ends of a 6 peg rectangle (a 2×3 rectangle) then you may connect your posts with a fence. Fences may not cross over other fences–they must go around,. You are free to rearrange your fences on your turn so long as you follow the rules above. If you connect your pieces across the game board, you are the winner.

Twixt holds a solid 6.6 game rating on BGG. Considering it’s an abstract from the 1960’s, this is high praise. I find copies at thrift stores and I always pick them up. I haven’t played Twixt yet but by all accounts I am doing myself a disservice by not giving it a whirl.


Background with 3M

3M logo
3M logo

In 1961, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) added a board game division to their line of consumer products. In addition to making Scotch™ tape, 3M would make Mr. President, Stocks & Bonds and Acquire. The decision to add a board game division to their company required them to find game design talent. They added Sid Sackson and Alex Randolph to their line up.

Sid Sackson has a plethora of games under his belt. The aforementioned Acquire but also Sleuth and Can’t Stop. When you think of Sackson you should think of him as the 1960’s version of Reiner Knizia.

Enchanted Forest from Ravensburger
Enchanted Forest from Ravensburger

Czech born Alex Randolph was also a notable game designer. While not as prolific as Sackson, Randolph has some nice credits under his belt. Enchanted Forest comes to mind.

And so does Twixt.

Copyright entry
Copyright entry

Randolph created a pencil and paper version of his posts and fences game and brought it to Minnesota. 3M bought the rights to it and made it into a mass market game in 1962. 3M made a few changes to the rules but overall the game was what Randolph had intended. The 1962 Copyright Catalog shows 3M as the copyright owner. This would cover all the printed material such as the wording of the rules and the artwork. This would  not cover the mechanics or the name.


Avalon Hill

Avalon Hill logo
Avalon Hill logo

Avalon Hill was a publisher of high-end strategy games. In 1976 AH acquired the rights to 3M’s board game division. Avalon Hill got the rights to Twixt along with a host of other classics.

It’s long been believed that Randolph made a deal with Avalon Hill buy his designs back. Randolph’s estate has always believed the rights to his games were passed on to his heirs after his death.

No such record in the U.S. record has been found however. A failure to reapply for a copyright is quite common. It’s also a bit unfortunate in this case for the estate of Alex Randolph.




Hasbro bought Avalon Hill lock, stock and barrel in the 1990’s. I remember this dark day because I knew I would never see a reprint of any AH games. I was mostly right.

Hasbro had a trademark on Twixt, part of their agreement with Avalon Hill. This mark was cancelled in 2003 because Hasbro did not renew. The trademark only allowed Hasbro to the name Twixt, not necessarily the wording or the artwork (which would be protected by copyright law) or the game mechanics (which would be protected by patent law).


So where are we at now?

3M's Twixt version
3M’s Twixt version

The copyright has expired on Twixt. This hardly matters since if anyone who wants to publish the game would rewrite the rules in their own words and modify the artwork along with it.

Any patentable mechanics are long expired. The game was published by 3M in 1962 and designed in large part in 1957. Patent protection does not extend that far back.

Trademarks, however, can offer protection. Trademarks are for commercial names like “Coca-Cola” or “Vaseline”. You can make a soda pop. But you cannot call it “Coca-Cola” because there would be public confusion with your product and Coca-Cola’s flagship product. You can make a petroleum jelly but Vaseline is a name brand.

The name “Twixt” does not have anyone who owns it. At least not until this past summer. One Wayne Dolezal bought the trademark. After studious researching the game, Dolezal found that Randolph and his estate had made the common mistake of not renewing their trademark. Dolezal filed an application in July to secure the rights to the name.

What does this mean?

The mechanics of Twixt are more or less in the public domain. So anyone could publish a game of “fences and posts” just like anyone could publish a chutes and ladders aka snakes and ladders et. al. But the eponymous name of Twixt would only be allowed to be published under the authorization of Dolezal.

Twixt and Schlitz
Twixt and Schlitz

Mr. Dolezal mentioned this long winded but fascinating history recently on BGG. Many in the BGG community were not pleased with him or his tactics. I do not share the community’s contempt–mostly because Dolezal has been very congenial in his discussions. The link I provided shows an outstanding example of an internet argument that is actually constructive.

Dolezal says he plans to republish the game. He will put Randolph’s name on the cover. But he is reluctant to share royalties with the Randolph estate at this point.

The story is ongoing. I will blog again about this as new developments break.


Until then, follow us here…



Runewars Minis versus A Song of Ice and Fire Minis

When Fantasy Flight announced their intentions to publish a fantasy miniatures game supported by ongoing expansions, I was a bit skeptical. The hobby already has Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Can the hobby seriously support a second such game? Then Cool Minis or Not got the rights to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. They too announced they would be mining this fantasy setting in order to publish an ongoing, expandable game. Can the hobby support three such games? Let’s take a closer look and see…


Runewars Minis versus A Song of Ice and Fire Minis


In this corner: Runewars Miniatures Game

Fantasy Flight announced the release of Runewars Miniatures Game about a year ago. I hypothesized that it was one of the reasons for Games Workshop’s decision to split with its former North American partner. Runewars Miniatures Game represents a direct competition between the Minnesota based Fantasy Flight and the Nottingham, UK based Games Workshop. Very specifically, direct competition against Games Workshop’s primary IP: the Warhammer universe.

Muskegon loves Runewars
Runewars Miniatures Game from Fantasy Flight Games

The base game for Runewars is now available along with several expansion packs. We can take a critical look at the game.

The base set of Runewars comes with 48 unpainted miniatures. The miniatures, unlike Games Workshop’s Citadel minis, are preassembled. The miniatures are molded plastic in light to dark greys.

The game also comes with the several tokens, dials and other necessary accoutrements. As is standard operating procedure at Fantasy Flight, the game comes with two rule books: a learning to play book and a rules reference.

Runewars Miniatures
Runewars Miniatures

Runewars takes place in a setting created and owned entirely by Fantasy Flight. The universe is called Terrinoth. It is the setting for several FFG games including Runewars the board game, Battlelore 2nd Edition, Descent and Runebound. It is your standard issue fantasy setting with elves, undead and humans struggling for supremacy. The base set comes with a smattering of humans (called the Daquan Lords) and undead (called Waiqar).

Runewars contents
Runewars contents

The game comes with a staggering price tag: $100 MSRP. This price point is comparable to other lifestyle games from FFG like Star Wars Armada and Twilight Imperium. And Runewars Miniatures Game does bear several similarities to the former. Both Armada and Runewars are miniatures games and not board games. Both use custom 8 sided dice. And both use a very similar measuring system instead of a tape measure.

Custom dice are awesome. Muskegon Area Gamers
Custom dice from Runewars

I love custom dice. I prefer them to normal dice which normally require a spreadsheet to add/subtract all your modifiers. Custom dice such as Runewars let you intuitively add or subtract your modifiers. Also, I prefer 8 sided dice to 6 sided dice. You get more results and can more easily tweak your modifiers with 8 siders than 6. Don’t believe me? Play X-wing or Star Wars Armada; then play any miniatures war game from the 80’s or 90’s; then report back to me which you prefer.

A game of Runewars is based around building a 200 point army. Each figure or unit has a point value. The stronger the figure or unit, the more points it costs. Your opponent will do the same with a different army. Each unit (a unit is a group of figures), sits in a tray. These trays are made to be easy to move. You can move an entire unit quickly. Gone are the days where you had to move individual 15mm Grande Army figures.

Unit dial from Runewars Miniatures Game
Unit dial from Runewars Miniatures Game

The game comes with dials for each unit. This is the true innovation of Runewars. These dials are free-standing so you can place them facing you and not your opponent. You select an action from the left side and a bonus modifier from the right side. The actions are all icons so you will need to familiarize yourself with the rules reference. When you select an action, you can select a bonus modifier. The modifier must match the color of the action. White is a wild modifier so it can be used with any action.

See the white number above the action icons? That is the initiative number. When selecting an action you also must select your initiative. The red crossed swords icon is a melee attack. It is slower (initiative 7) than the orange crossed swords (3). But the slower attack has a damage modifier on the right dial–the orange attack does not. Pretty innovative. But you would expect nothing less from Fantasy Flight.

And in this corner: A Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game

Muskegon loves A Game of Thrones
A Song of Ice and Fire Tabletop Miniatures Game from CMON

Cool Minis or Not uses Kickstarter to fund all its games. They announced recently the launch of a new project: a miniatures game in the Game of Thrones universe. The project is already full funded with a couple of weeks to spare. It’s now just a matter of the game going to the printers.

Cool Minis or Not has made many cool games with awesome minis. Blood Rage is a perennial favorite. Its sequel, Rising Sun, broke Kickstarter with the amount of internet traffic clamoring to back it.

The Hand of the King pledge is the highest backing level for this project. Its cost is an exorbitant $150. It comes with 103 assembled but unpainted miniatures, several tokens and decks of cards and special rulers for measuring.

A tray of Umbar berzerkers
A tray of Umbar berzerkers

Like Runewars, ASOIAF also has trays that the minis sit in. Again, this is a nice improvement over the games of yesteryear. Figures can be placed into a slot to make your armies. Casualties can easily be removed.

ASOIAF comes with standard 6 sided dice. Players will be doing mental arithmetic all game long as they add or subtract various modifiers. The lack of innovation here will have to be compensated for in other areas of game play.

Political board in ASOIAF
Political board in ASOIAF

There are three innovations in ASOIAF worthy of discussion. The first is: the game is ready to be played immediately after opening. Each army is uniquely colored. Lannister is red and Stark is light grey. This allows you to play the game weeks or months before your army is painted.

The next innovation is the political board. The combat in the fields are often subject to intrigues in the backrooms. And ASOIAF takes care of this with a political action system. You will have a non-combat related character (Tyrion, Cersei, or Catelyn for example). Your action can be to activate these characters instead of activating a military unit. In so doing, you will get some advantage such as drawing tactics cards or healing units. Each space on the political track will hold only one figure so if you choose a political action first, you will get to pick whichever one you want.

Tactics cards from ASOIAF
Tactics cards from ASOIAF

The last innovation is the tactics cards. Players have a hand of three. Each round you will fill your hand back up. These are surprises you can keep from your opponent. This allows for some fog of war since you don’t know what your opponent is packing. You develop your deck along with your army ahead of time so you will tweak your army and strategy to match the cards in your deck.

A Song of Ice of Fire the Miniatures Game is really a streamlining of Warhammer Fantasy Battles 8th edition with some gotcha cards.



Runewars Miniatures
Runewars Miniatures (courtesy of Fantasy Flight Games)

ASOIAF hasn’t been released yet. Also, I have not played either game. I’ve watched some play videos and studied some reviews about these games. So we will have to do some conjecture here.

As far as cost goes, Runewars gets a slight advantage. However, ASOIAF gets the advantage for value. You get much more with your $150 spent on ASOIAF than you do for $100 on Runewars.

The quality of the components will probably be comparable. Runewars looks awesome. And CMON has a good track record for quality.

The real question will come down to two aspects: game play and theme. And here is where the two games diverge completely.

As far as game play goes, Runewars looks like the winner hands down. The unit dials offers enough fog of war so you can outplay your opponent. The dice are innovative so you don’t get brain burn from all the modifier computations. Fantasy Flight has already made two similar games (X-Wing and Armada) so we should expect Runewars to be mechanically as sound as its two predecessors. The tactics cards in ASOIAF look like they add zaniness to the game instead of tactical surprise. For all the tactical maneuvering you do on the field can be undone by your opponents hand of cards. This would make me feel very unsatisfied.

As far as theme goes, A Song of Ice and Fire is the winner all day long. Who in the heck hasn’t heard of A Game of Thrones? Who in the heck has heard of Terrinoth? For fans of the books or the show, this game is a no-brainer. The game will attract collectors as well since the components will be beautiful.



ASOIAF Lannister unit
ASOIAF Lannister unit

So can the hobby support both of these games and Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy Battles? Probably not. WHFB isn’t going anywhere, despite me loathing  it. So these two games will be competing for customers who don’t want to play WHFB. It’s possibly that some game groups or communities will play both games of these games; my prediction below is based upon this being highly unlikely.

My prediction: Runewars will last longer than ASOIAF. I believe the superior mechanics along with a massive parent company (Asmodee) will help Runewars Miniatures Game survive longer. I do reserve the right to revisit this topic after ASOIAF is released. I’ll post another blog about this if I’m proven right or wrong. Stay tuned.


In the meantime, you can go here to argue with me…


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


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…




What is “The Griffin’s Rest” and why should I care?

[Editor’s note: I’d like to introduce Kiel Reid to everyone. Kiel Reid was born and raised in Muskegon. He’s been involved in the gaming hobby for many years, much of it in convention sales. He has some exciting for us. The rest of this post is his announcement.]

What is “The Griffin’s Rest” and why should I care?

Griffins Rest logo
Griffins Rest logo

The Griffin’s Rest is a new gaming store opening in downtown Muskegon in Spring of 2017. That’s great but honestly…Why should you care?

That question became pivotal in how we decided to go about this endeavor. In order to really bring something awesome to the table, we asked ourselves this question every time we made a decision on how this store would operate.

For us, a key aspect of what we do revolves around this concept. Being a place where you can buy AND play games is what really separates us from our online and big box competitors. Honestly…Why shop with us if you can get it a few bucks cheaper online, avoid a trip and save money on gas? Being “local” isn’t enough. Our geographic proximity to you does not entitle us to your business.

With that in mind here are the key things that we feel will make it worth the trip and a couple extra dollars.


A Great Place to Play

1121 3rd Street 49441
1121 3rd Street 49441

When you enter The Griffin’s Rest, one of the first things you will notice is our play areas. Clean tables and comfortable padded chairs can be found in our retail area and our dedicated play area upstairs. Our free wi-fi will ensure you are able to connect any of your mobile devices such as a phone or laptop. We will have a small library of games you can play at no cost.

You’ll also find a lounge area where you can sit and socialize for a bit. Beverages and snacks for sale when you’re getting into a long gaming session. Private rooms for your regular gaming groups. There will even be smart TV’s that can display information for your tournaments or campaign information like maps and such.


The Ideal Customer Experience

It’s great to have neat toys and comfy chairs but at the end of the day this is a store. We need to be able to provide you with an awesome experience. At The Griffin’s Rest we don’t just stand behind the counter, we are your concierge. We want to hear about what kind of games YOU like and help make a recommendation based on that.

Know what you want and just need to grab it and go? No problem! We’ll get you squared away real quick so you can continue on with your day and look forward to seeing you next time. Don’t have what you need? We will give you a realistic time frame as to when it will arrive if you order it from us and let you decide if that meets your needs.

When you visit us you can always count on us to be professional, knowledgeable and accommodating.


Fun Events

Events are what we think will really make things special. Every month we are going to hold a specialty event that revolves around a concept. This event could revolve around Star Wars, Game of Thrones or any other multitude of things. Along with a gang of games that are free to play that revolve around the theme, you will find people in costume running demonstrations. There will be light music, giveaways and special discounts on themed games.

Magic: the Gathering
Magic: the Gathering

Don’t worry tournament players! We love you too! We will be doing our best to ensure we have awesome weekends and whatever games you guys want us to run. Friday Night Magic be a big part of what we do as well as other competitive play options. What other games? Well…It would be pretentious of us to assume we know the will of the people. You guys are gonna have to come in and let us know so we can make it happen.


A Safe, Inviting and Inclusive Community

Kiel Reid giving his 5x5 presentation
Kiel Reid giving his 5×5 presentation

Another thing we think is really important is being stewards of the local gaming community and that means spreading the love of the hobby. The way we plan to do this is by sponsoring gaming clubs at the schools in the Muskegon area. This helps the next generation of gamers start enjoying the hobby earlier.

We also want to ensure our players know we are dedicated to ensuring all visitors are held to a simple yet firm standard.

– Maintain your personal hygiene before coming to the store. It’s not our goal to single anyone out but we want to make sure EVERYONE has a great shopping and entertainment experience. If it happens, we will ask you to leave for the day. If it is a reoccurring problem, you will be asked to leave and not return.

– Loud or consistent profanity are not allowed. We understand people are human but this is an all ages store. We don’t need little Timmy telling his parents about all the profanities he learned at The Griffin’s Rest because you play a loud drunken pirate in your Dungeons & Dragons game.

– Be courteous to your fellow players. We are all passionate about the games we play but it never gives us an excuse to be mean or rude to each other. Do onto others as you would have done onto yourself and when in doubt if something is OK, don’t do the thing.

– You are the eyes and ears. If you see any of the above occurring we ask that you let us know so we can ensure the standard we have set is maintained. Don’t suffer in silence.

Pretty simple right?


Big Promises

It does sound like a lot right? I agree. So when we open this spring, come check us out.

As progress continues on the renovation of the building we will keep you informed, get you pictures of the progress, and the date for the grand opening. We’re looking forward to our opportunity to earn your business and provide you with an awesome gaming experience.


More information here:


Board games in the News

Our favorite hobby has been making the rounds. Board games have been part of the news cycle for the past couple of weeks. I thought I would pull the links and the headlines and give our faithful followers in Muskegon and beyond a look at…

Board games in the News


A surveillance camera captures an SUV demolishing a local game store

The Deep in Huntsville, AL
The Deep in Huntsville, AL

A local comic and game store in Huntsville, Alabama was the scene of a rather horrific car accident. An SUV plowed through the glass doors of The Deep Comics and Game Store on Memorial Parkway. The vehicle did not stop until it was completely within the building.

The employees and patrons in building were miraculously uninjured. The driver of the vehicle, whose identity was not released, did sustain non-life threatening injuries.

The best part of this story is: the owner is having the world’s largest ding & dent sale.

Click the link to see the video from WHNT, the local TV station in Huntsville.


Hasbro has a big day

Risk: Star Wars Episode VI
Risk: Star Wars Episode VI

I’ve had many negative things to say about Hasbro on this blog: see here, for example. Today, I finally have something positive to say: Hasbro’s stock prices are surging.

Hasbro saw an unusually high jump in its value today, reaching +15% by late morning trading. The current valuation of $94 is the highest Hasbro has ever seen. Hasbro, the world’s second largest toy producer, is the publisher of many board games: everything that was once Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley or Avalon Hill was assimilated into Hasborg.

Hasbro’s success stems from high earnings in the fourth quarter of 2016. The Frozen movie licensing went to Hasbro, edging out their biggest competitor, Mattel. The link below has more details. But this amateur stock market speculator believes its Star Wars Risk, not Frozen, that has Hasbro seeing black.


PETA has completely jumped the shark

Space Wolves from Games Workshop
Space Wolves from Games Workshop

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is trying desperately to stay relevant. And the battle ground they’ve chosen to make their stand is Games Workshop’s Warhammer universe.

It seems Games Workshop makes plastic models that are fur clad. And this will not stand. PETA has started a petition to urge Games Workshop to remove fur from its line of miniatures.

This may seem like an article from the Onion but I can assure you it is real. And the board game community is having a field day:

Faux fur on Citadel Miniatures
Faux fur on Citadel Miniatures

In the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, it would appear that fur is still murder. I’m sure GW doesn’t want their models representing 10,000 year old pure-evil hybrids of demon and humanity to appear IMMORAL.

And speaking of an article from the Onion…

Explanation of board game rules peppered with reassurances


I think I might make this a long running column.



Muskegon Area Gamers: Latest News

Iggy Games
Iggy Games

There has been many things taking place in the past few months. You might not know this from my sparse bloggings in recent weeks. But there is much to bring the public up-to-speed on.

Latest News from The Gaming Annex and the Muskegon Area Gamers


The Gaming Annex

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

We mentioned a few months ago that ownership of the building was changing. It wasn’t clear then what this meant for “the only game in town”. Now it is clear. Sort of.

The current home of the Muskegon Area Gamers is and shall remain 1976 W Sherman Boulevard, affectionately called The Gaming Annex. The adjacent suite, 1980 W Sherman will be added to our current space, giving us about 60% more floor space. This will give us the floor space we need to warehouse all of our games, bestow us with a full kitchen and afford us valuable distance between tables.

We will be taking over the space this summer. The current resident is occupying it short term. I estimate we will have possession by July. Repairs and renovations will be ongoing through the summer and fall of 2017. Any members or readers of this blog that would like to help, please let me know!


Newly promoted members

Mural at The Gaming Annex
Mural at The Gaming Annex

We’ve bumped up a couple of candidates to full Tier 1 members. One is Brandi. She’s been a real trooper.  Normally we have a 30 Game Gauntlet. She has long since surpassed this, reaching Herculean levels: over 100 new games and going strong.

The other new promotion is Joe. Joe has been a strong find as well. As Nick Sima put it: Joe is a gaming savant. Joe doesn’t just play games like Twilight Imperium well, he often outfoxes long time veterans.

We are glad you both have made us your gaming home!


Change in Schedule?

The Gaming Annex 2016 year in review
2016 Attendance by gamer

For the longest time, The Muskegon Area Gamers played games on Wednesday nights and on Sunday afternoons. Wednesday nights have since moved to Tuesday nights. But Sunday afternoons have persisted.

It used to be that we didn’t have an Annex. We would game in Plunkett’s basement. For those who are new to the group, can you imagine Dusty, Mongo and myself traipsing to Plunkett’s house to play games in his basement? That was what we used to do in our pre-Annex. days.

But attendance on Sundays has dropped precipitously. Many who wanted to game on Sundays cannot make it anymore. In the past few months, we’ve had Sunday meetups of 2 or 3 players several times. The only solution I could come up with is to move it to Saturdays.

The vote to move games to Saturdays was not unanimous. Indeed, there were some hard “No” votes. So if we have poor attendance on Sundays and we have hard No’s for Saturdays, what’s a poor gamer to do?

The solution I’ve come up with is the most complicated but ultimately the best for our group at this time: we will schedule events on Saturdays occasionally and on Sundays occasionally. If we play on Sundays, it will be an early start: like 9AM. If we play on Saturdays, it will be later, like noon. I don’t have all the details worked out yet. Check the website or facebook for more details.


Partnership with Iggy Games

Iggy Games
Iggy Games

If you’ve been around on Thursdays, you probably have noticed Brian. He’s been a fixture for the past several months. He is an avid gamer and has an impressive game collection. He has been making us his gaming home, a decision we are very grateful for.

Brian has a substantial presence on the world wide web. He owns and admins several websites. is one such website. Brian often captures our gaming escapades and blogs about them on his own site.

Brian approached me about doing a podcast. How could I turn him down? A podcast is the next step in our gaming exploration. There’s plenty to cover in a podcast. And many topics make better podcasts than blog posts.

Brian has procured the hardware we will need to begin. He is a professional IT dude so he will also handle the software. He is looking to me to handle some of the creative end.

Look for our first podcast installment soon. I believe it will be live in March. And if you have any ideas about topics for us to cover, by all means, speak up.


New gaming center for Muskegon? Maybe!

Downtown gaming center for Muskegon
Downtown gaming center for Muskegon

A couple of months ago, I got a “ding” on facebook. This happens when someone tags me or one of my facebook pages. This ding was because someone tagged The Gaming Annex.

Someone I had never met was mentioning us in a post about a new gaming center in downtown Muskegon. It seems a friend of a friend of Nick Sima’s is considering moving back to our beloved town. And he will move back if he can get a grant to open a game store. Specifically on 3rd Street, where a lot of the renaissance in Muskegon is taking place.

The gentleman’s name is Kiel. He picked my brain about what Muskegon needs and about what I could contribute to the effort. Kiel then dropped by the Annex and met Brandi, Professor Mike and myself a few Sundays back. Kiel said he was in Muskegon looking at real estate to move his game store project forward. He even applied for a grant.

If his game store does launch, Kiel said he would have a membership program for his loyal customers. He would have a large area for gaming tables. Due to his background in convention sales, Kiel would support many events: Star Wars game days, pirate game days, etc.

As of this blog, Kiel is awaiting disposition of grant money. When I know more, I will blog about it here.


Where to keep abreast of new developments…


Trump: the Game

This blog is purposely apolitical. I don’t waste time here discussing the ongoing presidential election cycle, who’s a demagogue or who’s facing imminent indictment. But the recent news that Donald Trump is the defacto GOP candidate does afford me a rare opportunity: a timely look at a classic board game. The classic board game? Parker Brothers’ Trump: the game.


1. It’s not whether you win or lose…it’s whether you win

In the late 80’s, people knew of Donal Trump. This, despite the fact he was not yet a reality TV star. He was promoting himself in various financial articles in Time or Newsweek. He sat down and did interviews with many in the news agencies or talk shows. (Not much has changed). When not promoting his image or his business ventures, the tabloids would hound him. I remember hearing about him and his then wife Ivanka even when I was in high school.

In 1989, a man named Jeffrey Breslow approached The Donald about a board game. Jeffrey Breslow has several game titles under his belt

Jaws from Ideal
Jaws from Ideal

including Jaws (Ideal) and Guesstures. Breslow had an idea for a bidding/auction game. With the name TRUMP attached to it, the game stood a greater chance of getting picked up by Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley.

Trump agreed. Not because he loved our hobby but because he is a shameless self-promoter. Some stars get action figures. Some get candy bars. And a rare few get board games.

With Trump’s name, Parker Brothers agreed to publish the game. Trump starred in the commercial for the game. The tag line was quite memorable: “It’s not whether you win or lose, but whether you win!”

But is the game itself memorable?


2. Overview of the rules: the goal

Trump: the Game 1st Edition
Trump: the Game 1st Edition

The goal of Trump is to end the game with the most money. Players take on the role of a real estate mogul. Both these things are in line with a game based upon Donald Trump. +1 for theme!

There are eight properties that go up for sale. Each property has a cartridge (because it was the 80’s). Inside the cartridge is the value of the property. As the game progresses, unowned properties gather more income, simulating their accrued value. Eventually players will land on the property (like in Monopoly) and the property goes up for auction. High bidder spends his bid and claims the property. The money inside the cartridge is his. Hopefully he invested wisely.

There are two editions of the Trump game. And the rules have several differences. But in both games, the game clock is when all eight properties are owned by the players. The last phase of the game happens when the last property is bought. When the last phase is complete, players tally their money. The most money is the winner.


3. Action choices

Trump: the game board
Trump: the game board

Players have a choice of actions on their turn. After drawing a Trump card, the active player chooses to either roll the dice and move his pawn or play a Trump card.

Playing Trump cards, generally gives you money. The Trump cards will give

Trump Cards (1st edition)
Trump Cards (1st edition)

you money if you own a specific property. This gives players secret goals. If you draw a couple of Casino cards, you have more incentive to buy the Casino than other players.

Moving around the board is how you force certain auctions to take place. It’s also a way to add money to the cartridges of unowned properties, making their upcoming auctions juicier.

The auction mechanism in Trump is…unique. It’s a two phase auction. The first phase is closed and the second phase is open. Players secretly select how much they are going to bid on a property. Players simultaneously reveal their totals. Players who bid nothing are not allowed to participate in the second phase of bidding. During the second phase, players in turn order will bid on the property or pass. Players who pass may jump back in later. The auction ends when all players pass in a row. The winner claims the property and spends his money. All other players keep their bids.


4. What’s memorable about Trump: the Game

Trump: Property cartridges
Trump: Property cartridges

The auction mechanic is definitely unique. Reiner Knizia has not even designed that into one of his games. And he designed Modern Art which is nothing but different styles of auctions.

The game also has a game end that is player provoked. Players can try to force the end of the game by trying to get the last property auctioned. Games where players force the end of the game are usually more satisfying than games with a hard limit of turns.

The property cartridges were a cool component. They look pretty cool (for a 1980’s game). And they allow for secret information.

And speaking of secret information: the Trump cards are just that. You have a hand of action cards that you can use to gain some money or to slow down a runaway opponent.

All of these aspects make Trump: the Game more memorable than its closest living relative: Monopoly. And the play time is around an hour so it’s got Monopoly beat there as well.


5. Trump: the Game 2nd edition

Trump: the Game (2nd Edition)
Trump: the Game (2nd Edition)

Donald Trump’s empire suffered a blow in the 90’s. He filed bankruptcy and went through a messy divorce. I thought I had heard the last of him. But he somehow managed to rebuild his wealth.

And he landed a reality TV show. Since the world was being subjected to Donald Trump: the 2nd Edition, why not subject us to Trump: the Game (2nd edition) as well?

Trump: 2nd edition has several differences over its 1st edition. There is an additional action choice. Players may wheel and deal their Trump cards. Got an Airline card that’s worth $50 million to me? We can work out a deal.

You're Fired!
“You’re Fired” cards knock other players out of the bidding on a property. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Nicole Crowder

Donald Trump’s reality show coined the phrase, “You’re fired!” So the 2nd edition added several “You’re fired!” cards to the deck. These allow you to eliminate someone from an auction.

The newer edition also doesn’t allow you to buy owned properties. The original edition allowed you to “force” the sale of a property, even a property someone already owns. If you sell your property you collected the sale price. They took this mechanic out in the new edition. I think that was a mistake. I kinda like that mechanic.


6. Final Thoughts

2008: Campaign Manager
2008: Campaign Manager

Trump: the Game is one of the better Monopoly clones. This makes it a mediocre game. It has some kinda good ideas. Those ideas would need more work to make it a good game.

The Trump cards are a good idea. But they need more polish. The roll-and-move aspect of the game is just bad. And lazy. There are so many other ways to address this instead. Fix these issues and you would have a pretty good game.

This election cycle, like it or not, has been fascinating. Wouldn’t it be great if the design team that brought us 1960: the Making of the President and 2008: Campaign Manager were to give us a 2016 version? No matter the winner: I would buy that game!



The Food Court Gambit

There’s a chess club in Vancouver, British Columbia that meets at a local shopping mall. They’ve been meeting there for a while now. How long? Fifty years. Recently, the management of the mall issued a letter to the club stating the food court was only for paying customers not chess loiterers. The chess club was told to pack up their rooks and rent space at a library. That was on April 1st. Here is what happened next…


Park Royal Shopping Center, West Vancouver, BC

Park Royal Mall
Park Royal Mall

The Park Royal Shopping Center is Canada’s first covered mall, having been open in 1950. The mall has 1.4 million square foot floor space, 280 stores and two stories.  This makes it roughly twice the size of our own Lakes Mall.

It was here that a rag tag group began their five decade long tradition of meeting to play chess.


A 50 year tradition

Muskegon needs a chess club
E.S. Lowe’s Chess Set

The mall has been home to an informal chess club. With no official newsletter or website, the club simply showed up to the mall pretty much every day since the  Lyndon Johnson administration. Or the Lester Pearson administration if you’re Canadian.

George Ingham has been going there for the better part of 50 years. Indeed, he even met his wife there while playing chess. (Note: I wish I met my wife while playing Twilight Imperium).


Another chess playing comrade is Terry Fellows. Terry was living in Inuvik back in 1983 when rumors of a chess club in Vancouver reached him. Don’t know where Inuvik is because you’re a Yankee?  Well Inuvik is in the arctic circle, due east of Alaska’s northern coast.

Terry took a vacation in West Vancouver in 1983 to see what the chess scuttlebutt was all about. He was so enamored by the group, he moved to Vancouver. I’m sure the difference in weather (Vancouver’s weather is like Seattle’s) played only the teensiest part in his decision.

The rag tag group isn’t just for geriatrics and retirees. Ashley Tapp, a 16 year high school student, meets with the group. And she is a competitive player. She has represented Canada in international championships in Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates. She drops in on the Park Royal Mall group, mopping up the competition.

With a such a prolific history and such rigorous competition, one must wonder why the management of mall told the group they were no longer welcome.


“No alternative but to reach out to the West Vancouver Police”

Muskegon's Harry Morgan
Muskegon’s Harry Morgan

The mall has a sizable food court. The chess group occupies seats and tables there to play games. And the management of the mall had enough of that.

Park Royal’s management sent a letter to Terry Fellows regarding the new direction of mall. The food court was for paying customers. Occupying tables and chairs for over an hour was loitering, leaving “no alternative but to reach out to the West Vancouver Police”. I imagine the police in W. Vancouver have nothing better to do than round up dangerous chess players.

Billy Mitchell, King of Kong
Billy Mitchell, King of Kong

But the letter does conjure up an image. When I read the letter issued from the manager, I thought to myself: is the Park Royal Shopping Center being run by Billy Mitchell?

The letter (linked below) does offer the club a few alternatives. All of them charge for space (including the library). The mall offered the club $500 stipend as a one time hush money.

Terry and the chess club were aghast that the mall no longer welcomed them.


An April Fool’s Day Joke?

Fast food sushi at Park Royal
Fast food sushi at Park Royal

The mall had originally wanted the group to meet there. There was a 12 foot by 12 foot chess board in the middle of the mall. The group purchased thousands of dollars in equipment and stored it at the mall.

Renovations over the years forced the group to move from one area of the mall to another. But the group always met at Park Royal. Eventually, the food court was the only place where adequate table space was afforded to the general public. And it was here that the chess players would play.

Members of the club state they have always yielded seats to other patrons. The chess players also said they patronized the food court everyday, eating A&W and drinking Tim Horton’s regularly. The notion that they are non-patrons using the food court’s seating is confusing and absurd.

The group has not gone down quietly. Which brings us to a cunning chess counter known as the Food Court Gambit.


The Food Court Gambit

Queen's gambit
Queen’s gambit

The group reached out to the mayor of West Vancouver. On their behalf Mayor Michael Smith intervened. He told the management that the decision to disallow the chess players was not a “shrewd move”. I love it when municipal leaders make chess references.

Unfortunately, the mall inexplicably stood their ground.

A local church, the West Vancouver Presbyterian Church, is going to have a sit in and play chess at the mall. The minister said he does not anticipate mass arrests, this despite Billy Mitchell’s threat.

The group was officially offered the use of space in the mall by some of the mall’s tenants. White Spot and Whole Foods don’t want the chess players to leave. Management from both retailers have said the chess players are welcome there.


The End?

Chess players
Chess players Credit: Arlen Redekop

As of this blog post, the chess club of Park Royal Shopping Center is still meeting in the food court against the whims of the management. There has been no police intervention as of yet. The group has the support of the community if not the legal standing for use the mall’s private property.

Since the story is still ongoing, I’ll keep my finger on the pulse and keep you up to date.

Here are some links for you to read if you are interested in this story.

Front page


The Park Royal Chess Club is always welcome here…

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
139 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Sept. Games

Saturday, Sep 10, 2016, 6:30 PM
2 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →


Asmodee Group, the local game store and our hobby

Asmodee, the publisher of such games at Formula D and 7 Wonders, has been making waves in the past several months. They cannot seem to go even a week without someone comparing them to the evil Games Workshop. A recent announcement from Christian T Petersen, CEO of Fantasy Flight Games, sent some users on board game geek intoa tizzy. In this post, I will, to the best of my ability, break down the recent events at Asmodee, the recent FFG announcements and what this will mean for the gaming hobby.


1. What is Asmodee?

Asmodee logo
Asmodee logo

Asmodee is a French board game publisher. Founded in 1995, Asmodee has published many hits like Formula D, Dice Town, Ca$h and Guns and Hanabi. Asmodee has a reputation for making not just good games but for making excellent components for games. This is why Wizkids and Pokemon gave Asmodee the European publishing rights to their respective intellectual properties.

I’ve been a fan of Asmodee’s games. Their gameartwork and component quality are almost Fantasy Flight or Days of Wonder level in their excellence.

So what’s the humdrum about?


2. August 25, 2015: Asmodee buys Days of Wonder

Days of Wonder logo
Days of Wonder logo

Days of Wonder, the publisher of Ticket to Ride and Memoir ’44, was bought out by Asmodee. This took the game world by surprise.

Days of Wonder, the Los Altos, CA based company, makes a small cache of games with high quality components. This purchase gave Asmodee a substantial U.S. presence. According to Forbes, this acquisition would not affect the overall direction of Days of Wonder. They would act as a studio in the Asmodee Group.

This news was greeted by users on BGG very positively. “Can’t think of a negative”, “Two class acts merging”. Positive post after positive post.


3. November 17, 2015: Asmodee acquires Fantasy Flight Games

Fantasy Flight Games logo
Fantasy Flight Games logo

From Forbes:

Paris-based board game giant Asmodee announced on Monday that it is merging with independent U.S. publisher Fantasy Flight Games. It’s Asmodee’s second major North American acquisition in the last three months, and more evidence of the company’s desire to expand out of European markets.

The merger works well for both concerns. FFG now has access to the European market for its games and vice versa for Asmodee.

Asmodee was no longer a small fish. They made their move. And we welcomed our new Asmodee overlords. If Asmodee buys one more game line, they can form Voltron.


4. January 6, 2016: Asmodee buys Catan

Settlers of Catan is a classic board game that Muskegon still enjoys.
Settlers of Catan

So Asmodee can form Voltron now. They’ve acquired the rights to Settlers of Catan from Mayfair Games.

The press release from Mayfair Games is a boilerplate.

Voltron, defender of the Universe
Voltron, defender of the Universe

It says the “Catan Studio” was acquired by Asmodee for English language rights. Which, in layman terms, means everywhere but France and Quebec.

With the rights to Catan, Asmodee now has a strong Euro portfolio to go along with their FFG and DoW line up.

But the news didn’t stop there…



5. History is repeating itself: the evils of Hasbro


The Hassenfeld Brothers, Hasbro for short, founded their company in 1923. They didn’t become a toy manufacturer until the 1940’s. They struck gold in the 1960’s when they got the rights to make a doll for boys: the G.I. Joe action figure.

In 1983, Hasbro acquired major game publisher Milton Bradley. Hasbro acquired major game publisher Parker Brothers in 1991. And 1998 and 1999 saw Hasbro add Avalon Hill and Wizards of the Coast to their menagerie. Gamers are keenly aware of this history. The acquisition of Avalon Hill by a department store game publisher like Hasbro was ill received.

And for good reason. Hasbro had little interest in reprinting Avalon Hill’s wonderful catalog of high strategy games. Hasbro only wanted the rights so they wouldn’t have any competition.

The question on everyone’s mind is: Will Asmodee do the same with the wonderful catalog of games they have now acquired? The answer is: probably not. Hasbro spent a lot of money on all those brands. When Hasbro wouldn’t reprint games, little publishers came out of the wood work to make games. Hasbro’s attempt to eliminate the competition has only made the competition more competent. I doubt that Asmodee is going to do the same. Unlike Hasbro, Asmodee wants its subsidiaries to continue to do what they do best: publish awesome games.


6. History is repeating itself: the evils of Games Workshop

Games Workshop
Games Workshop

Asmodee Group has released a statement regarding a new pricing policy for its distributors. This has sent the board game world into its current tizzy. There have been howls from right field that Asmodee has become another Games Workshop.

The announcement about new pricing was met with great apprehension. Why acquire all these companies and then announce that you’re updating your pricing? The CEO of Fantasy Flight Games, Christian Petersen, gave an interview to clarify the policy.

Asmodee, and therefore FFG, want to nurture the local game stores over the online game stores. This is the heart of the new pricing policy. Asmodee values the local game stores and the new customers they bring to the hobby over the online game stores. As such, they are going to give better discounts to local game stores than to online game stores.

This can be taken to mean that local game stores will get a steeper discount. But more than likely it means that online stores will get worse discounts while local game stores will get the existing discount. Which means that Asmodee is simply increasing their own margins at the detriment of online stores. Coupled with their massive acquisitions, this can be seen to be bad news for our hobby. A good game company is now buying everything it can and screwing over its customer base.

Games Workshop indeed.


7. Of Monopolies and Paydays

Waddingtons' Monopoly
Waddingtons’ Monopoly

Asmodee’s price restructuring was met by lots of apprehension and teeth gnashing by gamers. But owners of local game stores were very happy with the news. Jeff from Out of the Box

Century Club in Muskegon
Century Club

was very vocal about it. He believes he can sell more Asmodee products with such a scheme. Other game shop owners have said the same thing.

This new policy will undoubtedly mean that if you buy games online, you will be paying more than before. Before you might now get 25% less than MSRP whereas you’ve been enjoying a 30+% discount heretofore. This policy will level the playing field between online and local game stores. It sucks for people who buy their games online because they will just be paying more.

But what about those of us with a local game store? How will it affect us? First off: it won’t affect us financially. We will not get games cheaper than before–it’s just that online stores will get their games more expensive than before. Second off: it will drive local demand. This means that your local stores will see an influx in consumers. People who shop for games online are not opposed to making local purchase when the prices are comparable

And this should make things more comparable.

This means that local game clubs (like the Muskegon Area Gamers) could see growth. This is the true goal of the new pricing. Petersen said he estimates that 10% to 20% of the people in our hobby leave each year. This means he needs more gamers to make up the deficit. I agree with him here. We see gamers leave our group all the time. This means we need to constantly recruit.

With all of these mergers going on, the specter of antitrust has reared its head. Do all these recent acquisitions along a new price structure constitute a monopoly or unfair market practice? Probably not. Asmodee is simply paying for a more prominent location in the stores of its choosing–the stores that Asmodee believes will drive demand long term.

The real question is: with Asmodee becoming the size it has now become…when will Disney or Hasbro make them an offer to join their collective?

Resistance is futile
Resistance is futile