As you may expect, we are in no hurry to open the shop today, wait until 2pm if you want to do any shopping. But what perfect gaming weather! If I lived closer to some hills I’d start my day by skinning up and swooshing down, getting a face full of powder. Today though, I’m just gonna play games, and you should too!
Before I sign off to hit the gaming table, I wanted to point out that we have officially backed a board game Kickstarter, Tiny Epic Kingdoms. This cool looking micro-game will not be available to retailers once it is released, so we backed a bundle. This means you can back the game through us, and to entice you to do so, we’ll give you $5 in store credit when you do. The Kickstarter campaign ends today, but you’ll be able to back it with us through February at the regular price: $24 gets you the deluxe version with all the exclusives and stretch goals. This is the year of the micro-game, and Tiny Epic Kingdoms looks like one of the best.
Enjoy the snow!
This weekend we will be running our first ever Magic the Gathering prerelease event. The Born of the Gods set drops next week, but we’ll have the prerelease kits and prizes for a $25 sealed tournament on Saturday at 12:30pm. The grand prize is an entire box of boosters folks! Considering that we’ll be lucky to have even 10 people showing up, winning that box may not be all that tough. We’ll also be running open dueling on Sunday from Noon-2:30pm, $15 gets you the Born of the Gods Theme deck for the duel.
Now, if you just read that opening paragraph and have no idea what sealed and open dueling are, sorry, we had to have the obligatory prerelease details front and center for those reaching our website through the Magic Play Network. For you non-magicians out there, here’s some board game chatter.
First off, we will be closing at 3pm on Sunday since the big game is on and even those who don’t care about it are at a party. This means our normal Sunday game demo is cancelled. Next Sunday though, at 1pm, gamehead Ben will be running a demo of Steam Park, a new game about building an amusement park for robots. This is a light, fun, and relatively fast game. If the child in you has been ruthlessly battered by years of reality, this is not a game you will enjoy. If a trip to Disneyland on Super Bowl Sunday sounds enticing, you’ll love Steam Park. Head on over to our meetup group to reserve a seat.
Nations is a civilization game that I’ve talked a bit about before. Well I recently played two amazing back-to-back 2-player games, 2 hours for each game. Both games were intense battles, no solitaire here. We each had to constantly reassign workers to adapt to each others actions and to the events on offer. The tension remained throughout the game, and with each player taking only one action per turn, the games hummed along. I highly recommend this game to anyone interested in heavier and somewhat abstract strategy games.
Russian Railroads turned out to be a whole different beast than I expected. Based on the name and artwork, I was prepared for a long and heady experience. Well, 4 of us learned it and played it in about 2 hours. The choices were heady, but not overwhelming, and the need to pay close attention to your opponents was ever present. This game felt a bit like Lords of Waterdeep in terms of weight and length, though it is much more abstract, so it can feel a bit weightier. Of the crop of games out of Essen, Russian Railroads and Nations are top on my list. Both are on the rental shelf as well, no excuse not to try them out.
I should be getting in a round of Terra Mystica tonight, an excellent heavier weight euro-game that I have not played in a while but do really enjoy. I’ll try and tweet some photos of my gorgeous Yellow civilization once it develops. My goal tonight is to try and cross every river on the board. For those who have played games with me, I often pursue some ridiculously random goal that generally has nothing to do with winning the game. Winning is so overrated.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Finally, no new games this week. The crop of hot Essen games has hit the shelves, now we can just sit back and blissfully play them without worrying about what’s next. Honestly, I could happily spend the rest of the year playing just the games released in the last few months. I won’t of course, because there are also so many fantastic games to play from the past 10.
One thing seems clear: 2014 will be the year of ‘enough is enough’. We can stop the presses and flip the switch on kickstarter, and the hobby will not suffer one bit. Growth in the brick and mortar board game hobby is not happening in the new release section, its happening in the Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Pandemic sections. Those titles continue to far outsell front list items nationwide. Growth is happening because of folks who are wading into the part of the pool that a lot of us swam into 5-7 years ago. This means that brick and mortar retailers can worry less about the latest and greatest, most of which are simply purchased online anyway, and focus more on presenting the amazing backlist to the hungry acolytes. And boy do they have some great stuff to experience.
This weekend we’ve got a number of events at the shop that celebrate both the old and the new. First off, we’ll be hosting an appreciation night for one my favorite designers, Uwe Rosenberg. Besides the fact that I’ve always wanted a head of hair like his, one that looks good in any configuration, Rosenberg has a small but significant set of games under his belt. He is also one of the founders of the European game publisher, Lookout Games, whose games always have a pleasing bucolic air about them. If you are a punchcard holder, or want to be, stop on by Saturday night starting at 6pm for some Rosenberg action. If you are not a fan of the Uwe, by all means still show up and play some games, just don’t harass us Rosenberg players, we’ll be deep in peaceful rural thought.
On Sunday, both the old and the new will be happening in the shop. At 1pm, Ben O. will be teaching a round of Russian Railroads, one of the darlings from Essen, and what looks to be a sweet worker placement game. Starting at 2pm, Joshua will again be hosting his 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign, just in case you want to feel heroic.
Cheers everyone and game on!
The big news this week is the re-release of Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. That gives us a total of 5 new Z-Man Games releases this month. We’ll be running a demo of this puppy on Saturday if anyone is interested in seeing how she handles.
The other new title this week is Steam Park, an amusement park building game using a real-time dice rolling mechanic that determines the building actions you’ll be able to perform. We’re working on getting a rental of this up and running soon. Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower is calling this one for a Spiel nominee, so we’re looking forward to trying it out.
Now, while all of these new games are flooding the shelves, many of our tried and true titles are having trouble finding their way through the pipeline. This is always a strange time of year for us when it comes to stocking the shelves. We’re emptied out after the holidays, and so are most of the hobby game publishers. On top of that, our non-hobby products come from over 20 different suppliers who require that you purchase products in larger quantities and they often make you pay for shipping. Now these guys do offer sweet deals at the beginning of the year, problem is, those deals are usually only available during 1st quarter trade shows.
So we spend the first month of the new year waiting, staring at bare shelves, and watching our special order list grow and grow. Thankfully, we’ll be travelling to a local show next week to check out new products and take advantage of some specials. Still, all the orders we place at that time will take at least 2 weeks to arrive, so by mid-February the shelves will be full.
Ah well, all this waiting is a perfect excuse to play more games. With so many new ones lately it is tough to choose what will hit the table though. I did get to play a very enjoyable round of Nations, and I started it all off by building Stonehenge. What’s the deal with Stonehenge anyway? (careful, that link leads to lots of silliness and some explicitness).
Seriously though, Nations is a great civilization-building game that easily makes into my top 5 games to have when stranded with Robinson on a cursed island. And yes, Through the Ages is on that list too. I’d love to just spend my time on the island playing each game and fully analyzing which is better, only to come to the conclusion that they are both great fun, but one is a lot shorter.
Alright, I better stop before things get really out of control. Oh, speaking of out of control, check out these fun facts.
Happy gaming everyone!
Happy 2014 everyone, it has taken me a bit of time to recover from the holidays and get my fingers working on a blog post. But here I am, with a few very exciting changes to announce, one sad on though.
Our awesome employee and friend Chris has left his post at the shop for the alluring city of Los Angeles, and for love. He will be missed of course, but he has also already been replaced. My lovely wife Kirsten was gunning for his job for years, so I guess he’s lucky he got out with both knees intact (last time we went to the beach she was practicing some one-legged kick moves on derelict pier pillars). Anyway, she is now with us full-time, so next time you’re in, ask her what her favorite Stefan Feld game is.
Now before I discuss the other major change for the new year, I want to mention that one of the biggest US publishers of European strategy games dropped multiple titles on us this week, titles that originally debuted at one of the largest tabletop gaming expos in the world, the Spiel in Essen, Germany. So far we have only had the chance to play one of them, Tash-Kalar, another fun one from Vlaada Chvatil, but we are working diligently to get rental/demo copies ready for play. Also dropped this week were the expansions for the Firefly board game and the Pathfinder Card Game. Here are the new Z-Man releases in no particular order:
Whew, lots of great stuff to play, they will definitely be hitting tables at our game nights.
And, speaking of game nights, it is finally time to announce phase 2 of our Punchcard system. As many of you know, we initiated a pay-to-play system back in June of 2013 to help us control the overcrowding on game nights. Well, it has worked, and most folks we talk to appreciate the change.
For Phase 2, we’ll be doing something far less contentious than Phase 1: punchcard holders will now enjoy 20% off the purchase of a single new game while attending the game nights. That’s right folks, it is time to up the ante, level the Portland game-shop playing field, and offer our community of players a perk for getting punched. And yes, your game night punchcard credit can be used toward the purchase.
So get your lists ready folks as we enter a new era.
Cheers everyone, time to prep some new rentals.
How’s the holiday shopping going? If you are like us, you really haven’t started yet despite all of your best intentions. If you need some suggestions, we’ve put together a little gift guide. We’ve also been unpacking a lot of big boxes and found a few new games inside, so read on to see if you want to adopt any of them or know someone who may like to see one under the tree.
But first, some pretty exciting news. Caverna is showing up at our distributor’s warehouse on the east coast, and it should steadily make its way west to hit our shelves by the end of next week. This means we should actually have copies of the game at the release party. Mayfair taking controlling interest in Lookout Games make us so happy.
The prior US publisher for Lookout Games, Z-Man, is claiming on their website that both Glass Road and Russian Rails will be available next week. There are also reports that Robinson Crusoe will be back in stock as early as next week. We are holding our breath, but the Caverna release party could get a lot more interesting. As of this morning, a representative from Z-Man has reported that “The Essen games, like Russian Railroads, were unloaded last week at our warehouse” and “As for Robinson Crusoe, it was not in the same shipment and we are expecting it at the warehouse either today or Monday.”
Happy gaming and shopping everyone!
Woohoo! It’s Snowing! We love snow here at Cloud Cap. Kirsten and I used to live at 7500 feet just outside of Yosemite and we miss the gobs of great snow that greeted our mornings. Its gonna kill business this weekend, but who cares, let it pile up!
We are restocked after the busy post-Thanksgiving weekend and ready to go for the rest of the holiday season. The Little Boxes event was a success for us and many other shops this past weekend. We’re certainly in a city that places enormous value on its small business culture. We little guys can’t ever compete on price, but we can offer more in almost every other aspect of the retail business. Let’s hope the little guys can hold their ground for many years to come, I like my shopping experiences non-homogenized.
For us, the Little Boxes event brings in shoppers that may otherwise never set foot in a board game store. We enjoy exposing folks to unique non-digital entertainment options. Now sure, a lot of what we sell this time of year are games like Strut or Anomia, not what a lot of hardcore folks consider real games, but both fantastic social experiences. We also sell a lot of Settlers of Catan, Dominion, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, and Forbidden Island, remember those games folks? We ‘serious’ gamers don’t play these games so much anymore perhaps, but they definitely shaped our introduction to the hobby, and we are more than happy to help others experience these games for the first time. Whatever we sell, if it brings people around a table instead of a screen, we’re doing our job.
This weekend is Decemberville, the Sellwood/ Westmoreland winter celebration. It is also the last chance to save some dough with us and other local shops before Christmas. We are offering 20% off any one item, and we’ll have a table of games at 40% off retail. For a nearly complete list of sale items, go here. We have limited sale copies of many of the games listed, so get ’em early if you want them.
Other than that, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Caverna, mark your calendar for the release party on Friday, December 20. Sure hope Mayfair has their dates correct. We’ve also heard that the new Race for the Galaxy expansion should be available by the end of the year, so if we see it by the end of January we’ll be happy. I think this baby has been upcoming for nearly 2 years now. Anyway, get your preorders in if you want a copy.
Oh, Skull & Roses is back in stock, now called just Skull, and with new art work. “Ahh, new artwork, we liked the old art so much better”. No you didn’t, you’re just saying that to make yourself look good.
The Yeti says hi and happy gaming!
This past Monday, Facebook sent me a friendly reminder that a friend, who was once just a customer, was getting one year older. Having some time off, I game him a call and he finagled the afternoon off work so we could get together and play one of his new favorite games, Eldritch Horror, Fantasy Flight’s new game based on the ficiton of H.P. Lovecraft. Now I’m not a Lovecraft fan, and Fantasy Flight’s most popular Lovecraft game, Arkham Horror, remedies my insomnia. So I had my doubts about playing Eldritch Horror, but not with this friend. I’ll play nearly anything with this guy.
See, I love gaming for two main reasons. First, I crave the unique mental challenge and stimulation that board games provide. But second, and just as important, I crave the social interaction that board games foster. Driving up to Washington this Monday to play with a friend who was once a customer reminded me of just how important the social aspect of our hobby is.
In the 3 years that the shop has been open, I’ve played games with more strangers than ever before, and now many of those people are more than strangers. Some are now friends and some have become employees. Some have become co-designers and perhaps future business partners.
So here’s a big thank you to our great regular customers and game night crew. I’ve honestly never attended better game nights and love playing games with you guys. See you Saturday gang!
Now for new games this week, none. Just save your money for Eldritch Horror next week and Caverna in a few weeks. By the way, Eldritch Horror is a blast, even if Arkham Horror frightens you. And when Caverna arrives I want to have a Caverna-only game night because our preorders are through the roof!
Finally, don’t forget about the shopping deals next weekend. Little Boxes is going to get you into a great raffle and give you discounts at tons of great Portland shops. Supportland is offering triple points! That means you’ll get 15 points for a purchase, and considering that there are a ton of sweet rewards for 50-100 points, it won’t take much shopping to get free stuff. Most of the Little Boxes shops are also Supportland members, so if you need to do some shopping, pound some pavement next weekend and get some goodies. Or, go get trampled on 82nd avenue.
Happy Gaming folks!
In this episode: games from Essen (and a way to receive 20% off your favorites) and early holiday shopping events (with even more ways to save money on games).
The big game convention in Essen, Germany, called the Spiel, is all the buzz right now in the board gaming world. For those not entrenched in the hobby, the show in Essen is where some of the best strategy board games ever made are released every year. Unlike our big stateside game show, GenCon, the Spiel in Essen sees very little Cosplay (wearing costumes of your favorite geek characters), and the show in Essen attracts a much wider audience due to the mainstream nature of board gaming overseas. Serious game enthusiasts and casual, family game players all come together for the event, and gamers from ages 5-85 are found parked on the convention floor trying out new games, together! Simply awesome.
What Essen means for board gamers is a tsumani of new and great board games, with absolutely no idea when that tsunami will hit the American shoreline. Quite often, the tsumani is more of a small series of big waves that strike our shores from the very end of the 4th quarter through the second quarter of next year.
For the past few years following the Spiel, a local gamer has organized an invite-only event, called the Sasquatch Board Games Festival, where over 100 of the games from Essen are available to play. Below I’ve reprinted the top ten games from the Sasquatch festival to give you an idea of what we gringos are perhaps most interested in. All the games on the list are slated to be released in the states. Sadly, only a tiny fraction of the games shown at Essen will make it stateside. Note: nearly 100% of Kickstarter games get published in the states, while maybe 10% of the amazing Essen games make it over here every year, try to get some sleep after seeing that scary statistic!
Top 10 Games of those Played at the Sasquatch Games Festival
1. Glass Road
5. Bruxelles 1893
7. Buccaneer Bones
8. Lewis & Clark
10. Snake Oil!
Take a good look at this list and see if there is anything on there that you would be interested in. Copies of these games are going to be limited, and we will be ordering only a few copies to have on hand. If you really want one of these games, give our preorder system a try, which gets you a 20% discount and a guaranteed copy of the game in all but the rarest of cases. And tell your friends about this deal, there is a perception that we are the most expensive game store in town when quite the opposite is actually true when you learn about all of our deals. In fact our new arrivals table has a serious deal or two every week now!
Speaking of ways to save money, we have 2 great community shopping events coming up soon. The first is called Little Boxes on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday (November 29 & 30). It is a sweet event organized by local folks to encourage shopping at local stores rather than online and big box. Not only will you enjoy 10% off at nearly every store you visit, you can enter a raffle to win some amazing prizes every time you visit a store, purchase or not. We participated last year and saw how this event was able to make holiday shopping fun and relaxing. Check out more details here. The second event is our homegrown Sellwood/Moreland Decemberville Holiday Shopping day on Saturday December 7. Again, you’ll be saving some dough and be able to enter a great raffle. I’ll be saying more about these events soon, but mark your calendars now!
Happy gaming everyone!
That’s right folks, we’ve made it through three gaming years, and we’re throwing a thank you party! Join us this Saturday (November 2) for a store-wide sale, some markdown tables with crazy deals, giveaways, and of course gaming. At night, we’ll be throwing a celebration for our game night punch-card holders, there are over 50 of you now and we’re gonna say thank you with some homemade chili, beer, a raffle, and gaming!
Our goal was to provide a retail and play environment different from that already on offer. We feel we’ve done that and we are pleased with the community that has developed over the years. We’ve been called silly as a slight, but we now wear that title with pride, because what it really means is that we are unconventional, as far as game stores go. Most gamers prefer conventional and online, but our growth over the past 3 years demonstrates there are enough of you out there who want something different.
Thanks to all of you, we’ll keep working hard to stay silly. Come celebrate with us this Saturday!
Oh yeah, Happy Halloween too. We wanted to get a Halloween party game night going but anniversary party planning has dominated our schedule. Please do come in costume and bust out the horror games this Wednesday night if you feel so inclined.
PS: Clash of Cultures, I love you