Thursday, April 24, 2014

Happy Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs X-Men Release Day from WizKids!



I want to talk to you about the shortages of product at launch. Before I get to that, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for all your support. Whether you are a retailer or a consumer, I realize you have many choices when it comes to games. So I appreciate you choosing the WizKids Dice Masters product.

Many of you don’t know this, but Dice Masters is near and dear to my heart.  When Mike Elliott approached me with a prototype at Gen Con 2010, a prototype that eventually became Quarriors, we spent a few minutes having a ‘what if’ moment, daring to dream of a collectible version of the prototype game in his hands.

Fast forward almost 4 years… It’s been a labor of love and we’re happy to finally share Dice Masters with you, our distributors, retailers, and consumers.   We hope you enjoy playing it as much as we have enjoyed working on it for the last 8 months.


So why are we here?
Since the GAMA Trade Show (GTS), where we passed out hundreds copies of the games, the demand for the product has skyrocketed. What was once a comfortable inventory position has turned into a rather conspicuous shortage; specifically, a shortage of the MDM Starters. The Booster product is widely available at our distributors and we still have some inventory as well.
 
Fortunately, we already issued 2 reprints, the first of which we placed a few weeks before GTS, with the second placed a week after GTS, based on all the positive feedback we received after demos at GTS games night. These reprints were ordered to supplement our inventory position, so that we could carry through the summer and to the next release of MDM X-Men in September.
 
Unfortunately, we could have used each and every one of those reprint units today. Moreover, one of the big issues with making games that contain a lot of plastic parts is that the production times are lengthy and the product can never be ready soon enough, even for a company that makes millions of little plastic superheroes a month. Additionally, once all the product is manufactured, it has to make a journey from China to the distributor and then on to the retailer; a journey which takes almost 7 weeks barring weather or customs issues.
 
What does this mean to you the retailer and you the customer?

Well, there is whole bunch of product (1st reprint) that is being produced and loaded on to a ship as I write this email. That ship was going to set sail for the US in two weeks.
In an effort to get some more product here in a hurry, we are going to Air Freight the tail end of the 1st reprint that is slated to be finished the 1st week in May. Air freighting isn’t quite as fast as FedEx, but it should get the product here significantly faster than ocean bound vessels. Additionally, it allows the ship that is partially loaded to set sail this weekend instead of waiting for the entire reprint run to finish.

In reality, the 1st reprint, both the product coming over via air freight and the ocean bound product, will probably sellout while it’s in transit. We’re going to work with the distributors to keep things as fair as possible. There will be shortage situations we cannot avoid and I would like to apologize in advance.

The second reprint is sizable and ‘should’ get us ahead of the demand curve. I use the work ‘should’ cautiously as we’re not sure where the top is in terms of demand. To give you some perspective, 45 days ago, this release looked to be a third of the size of a HeroClix release (in raw units/unit volume). As of launch day, the unit volume (starters and boosters) looks to be almost three times the size of a HeroClix release. That’s great news for the game, but its tough considering we calibrated unit volumes to a HeroClix set, a number that seemed insurmountable when we set the print run in December 2013.


And finally…

I’ve also been made aware of some rumors that are floating around industry forums and I wanted to address them with full transparency. I have included my email and mobile number for those you that may have additional questions.
 
Rumor #1: Mass Market accounts had no release dates for the product. Answer: Of the mass accounts that took the product (Primarily Target and Hastings), they ALL were given release dates to the public and in some cases asked to not forward product to their retail outlets before that date. Any mass retailer that had online retail operations was told to not ship online orders until 4/23 to make sure that no product arrived in a consumer’s hands before the release date. To be sure, we treat release date violations the same across channels. There is an escalating set of actions we take in response to these violations, ultimately leading to account suspension.   We’re not shy about using all available options to prevent intentional release date violations.
 
Rumor #2: The mass market accounts were given their full orders, while hobby stores were allocated. Answer: Nothing can be further from the truth. We allocated the mass accounts first and disproportionally harder than any hobby distributor. By example, Target and Hastings were allocated down 1 to 2 starters per store. So some stores may have a larger supply while other stores will have no inventory whatsoever.
 
Rumor #3: The reprint is destined for mass accounts and hobby stores will be left without product. Answer: Of the tens of thousands of units in reprint, not one of the units has been slated for a mass account. In fact, the entire 1st reprint (both the air and ocean freighted games) are destined for hobby game retailers around the world.
The next reprint slated for June/July will likely follow in similar fashion with all (or the vast majority of) the product being slotted for hobby stores.
 
Rumor #4: Big Lots broke the release date and sold product on 4/22. Answer: We have no record of selling to Big Lots. Moreover, when we called the 6 stores that allegedly broke the release date AND asked the buyer at Big Lots how they got the product and why they broke the release date, Big Lots responded quickly and unequivocally, to confirm they have no record of any Dice Masters product in their system.
 
And now what…

In addition to the steps above, we are going to delay the release of Avengers vs. X-Men Storyline OP kits for Dice Masters Month One to coincide with next wave of product’s arrival. (Formal announcement of this delay is coming) While that may not cover all possible customers, we also do want to get players in store to begin playing the game in a community setting. We may re-release the first OP or otherwise make the content available at a later date, in case a large portion of customers missed out.

I realize that being allocated as deeply as you have been is cause for concern. However, that is no reason to represent suppositions as facts. We will be vigilant about correcting false information when necessary. If you have any questions, please contact me at justinz@necaonline.com, or call me on my mobile at 425-246-2809.

In closing, I am glad we’re talking about problems caused by overwhelming success. While the issues are real and frustrating, they are signs of a great success and I am glad we are talking about shortages rather than surpluses of product on your shelves.

Sincerely,
Justin Ziran
President, WizKids Games 


 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Origins Awards Nominations





The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design has announced the nominations for the 2014 Origins Awards, which will also be the 40th Annual awards ceremony.  Winners will be selected by voting at the Origins Game Fair (June 11-15), and the winners will be announced and presented at the Origins Awards Ceremony on Saturday, June 14th.

Best Roleplaying Game
13th Age – Pelgrane Press
FATE Core System – Evil Hat Productions, LLC
Mummy: the Curse – White Wolf Game Studio
Numenera - Monte Cook Games
Shadowrun: Core Rulebook – Catalyst Game Labs

Best Roleplaying Supplement
DC Adventures Universe – Green Ronin Publishing
Heart of the Wild – Cubicle 7 Entertainment
Transhuman – Posthuman Studios
Night’s Watch – Green Ronin Publishing
Eternal Lies – Pelgrane Press

Best Board Game
Trains – Alderac Entertainment Group
Time n Space – Stronghold Games
Space Cadet: Dice Duel – Stronghold Games
Krosmaster Arena – Japanime Games
City of Iron – Red Raven Games

Best Collectible Card Game
Pokemon Black & White Legendary Treasures – The Pokemon Company, Intl.
Pokemon Red Genesect Collection – The Pokemon Company, Intl.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Battle Pack 2 – Konami Digital Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh! Super Starter V for Victory – Konami Digital Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legendary Collection 4: Joey’s World – Konami Digital Entertainment

Best Traditional Card Game
Love Letter– Alderac Entertainment Group
DC Comics Deck-Building Game – Cryptozoic Entertainment
Boss Monster - Brotherwise Games
Clubs – North Star Games
Marvel Legendary: Dark City - Upper Deck

Best Children’s, Family, Party Game
Walk the Plank – Mayday Games
Three Little Pigs – Iello
My Happy Farm – 5th St. Games
ROFL – Cryptozoic Entertainment
Choose One! – Looney Labs

Best Game Accessory
Krosmaster:  Fire & Ice – Japanime Games
Shadowrun GM Screen – Catalyst Game Labs
Fate Dice – Evil Hat Productions, LLC
Space Gaming Mat – HC+D Supplies
Pathfinder Battles: Skull and Shackles – WizKids Games

Best Miniature Figure Rules
Marvel HeroClix: Avengers Vs X-men Starters – WizKids Games
Battletech Alpha Strike – Catalyst Game Labs
Judge Dredd – Warlord Games

Best Historical Miniature Figure/Line
Fife & Drum: Revolutionary War - Fife & Drum
Highlander Force – North Star Military Figures
Fate of a Nation: Arab Israeli Wars – Battlefront Miniatures
Red Army: 28mm Russian Infantry – Wargames Factory
Devil Dogs and Dragons – Empress Miniatures

Best Historical Board Game
SOS Titanic – Ludonaute
Navajo Wars – GMT, designed by: Joel Toppen
Freedom: The Underground Railroad – Academy Games
1775: Rebellion – Academy Games
Francis Drake – Eagle Games

Best Historical Miniature Rules Supplements
SAGA: Varjazi & Basileus – Gripping Beast
Flames of War: Fate of a Nation – Battlefront Miniatures
Force on Force: Classified – Osprey Publishing

Best Historical Miniature Rules
Fields of Fire 2nd Edition – Proving Ground Games
Fire and Sword – Wargamer
Chain of Command –Too Fat Ladies

Best Miniature Figure Line
Malifaux: The Guild’s Judgement– Wyrd Miniatures
HeroClix: Wolverine and the X-men – WizKids Games
MERCs Mini’s (Shock Trooper, Spy, Eagle, Beacher) – MegaCon Games

Best Game Related Publication
Khan of Mars – Evil Hat Books
Fire for Effect – Catalyst Game Labs
ICv2 - Editor: Milton Griepp
Dork Tower – Editor: John Kovalic
TableTop – Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day

Thursday, April 10, 2014

International TableTop Day!

  Check out these photos from our retailers: everyone loved International TableTop Day!
Hometown Games
Lawrence, KS
 Space Cadets Collection Collection
Oak Ridge North, Texas
Space Cadets Collection Collection
Oak Ridge North, Texas
 Halflings Hideaway
Gilmer, Texas
 Halflings Hideaway
Gilmer, Texas
The Pirate's Cove
Sanford, NC
The Pirate's Cove
Sanford, NC
 Wild West Comics and Games - Fort Worth
Fort Worth, Texas
Wild West Comics and Games - Fort Worth
Fort Worth, Texas
 Wild West Comics and Games - Arlington
Arlington, Texas
 Wild West Comics and Games - Arlington
Arlington, Texas
Blue Highway Games
Seattle, Washington
Blue Highway Games
Seattle, Washington
 The Gamer's Armory
Cary, North Carolina
 The Gamer's Armory
Cary, North Carolina
 Petrie's Family Games
Colorado Springs, Colorado
 Petrie's Family Games
Colorado Springs, Colorado
That's Entertainment
Worcester, Massachusetts
 Rusty Scabbard
Lexington, Kentucky
 Mythic Games
Santa Cruz, California
 Mythic Games
Santa Cruz, California
 Games Unlimited
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
 Games Unlimited
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
 Outlaw Moon Games & Toys
Austin, Texas
 Outlaw Moon Games & Toys
Austin, Texas
 Victory Comics
Falls Church, Virginia
Victory Comics
Falls Church, Virginia
 
 Game Master Games
Hicksville, New York
 Game Master Games
Hicksville, New York
 Raygun Lounge
Seattle, Washington
 Raygun Lounge
Seattle, Washington
 Russian Hill Bookstore
San Francisco, California
 Russian Hill Bookstore
San Francisco, California
Boxes and Bears
Anacortes, Washington
 Brap's Magic
Burlington, Vermont
Brap's Magic
Burlington, Vermont
 
 Dragon's Lair Austin
Austin, Texas
 Dragon's Lair Austin
Austin, Texas
 8th Dimension Comics and Games
Houston Texas
8th Dimension Comics and Games
Houston Texas
 

 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

International TableTop Day is this Weekend!


This TableTop Day, we at Alliance want to make sure you're staying involved!

If you haven't registered your TableTop Day event, make sure you do so! Head to www.TableTopDay.com to register an event, look up other events in your local area, or download logos, banners, and cutouts.

Make sure you're photographing your event!

If you take photos of your event, make sure to share them with us! We'll share your photos on this very blog (there will be a post next week about all the festivities of TableTop Day), and on our Facebook page in an International TableTop Day album. Even more importantly, TableTop Day will be featured as a category for one of our golden meeples in our 2014 Best of the Game Trade Awards!

Use the hashtag #TableTopDay

It will help you connect with other gamers who are celebrating TableTop Day by telling the world what you are playing. Share your posts- TableTop Day is the best day to brag about what games and swag you've won! Your post could be shared by Geek and Sundry or by TableTop!