News, reviews, business articles and site updates for a board games store in Canada

New Releases: July 11th, 2014

July 11th, 2014 Posted in general, new releases | No Comments »

Adventure Maximus!
Atomic Robo
Celestial Rainbows
Classic BattleTech: Technical Readout Operation Phoenix
Classic BattleTech: Combat Equipment
Classic BattleTech: Maximum Tech (Revised)
Classic BattleTech: Aerotech 2
Classic BattleTech: Miniatures Rules
Classic BattleTech: A Guide to Covert Ops
Classic BattleTech: Aerotech 2 Record Sheets
Dark Gothic: A Touch of Evil Deckbuilding Game
Destination: Neptune
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space – 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Rulebook
Dodge Dice
Dragon Dice: Kicker Pack – Amazons
Firefly: the Game – Promo Card Pack
Knockdown Dice Tower – Meeple (Blue)
The Lord of the Rings LCG: Khazad-Dum Nightmare Deck
The Lost Dutchman
Mage Wars: Action Marker Set 2
Mage Wars: Forged in Fire
Pathfinder Pawn Collection: Wrath of the Righteous
Risk: Dr. Who – The Dalek Invasion of Earth
Shadowrun 5th Edition: Run and Gun
Star Wars: Age of Rebellion RPG – Core Rulebook
Star Wars: Age of Rebellion RPG – Game Master’s Kit
Sushi Go! (New Edition)
Ultra Pro 50 Count 2 Piece Storage Box (2 Pack)
Warmachine: High Command – Invasion of Sul
Warpaints: Hobby Knife

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The Lower Mainland Game Store Density

July 8th, 2014 Posted in business | 6 Comments »

I just learnt on Thursday that another game store is opening in the Lower Mainland of BC. By my count, that puts us at about 30 different game & comic stores in the Lower Mainland; not including big box stores that carry games as well. If you look at just the GVRD; it drops down to 28 stores for a population of 2,463,700. That works out to 1 game store per 88,000 people. More interestingly, if you look at just the Greater Vancouver area, you get this distribution:


Authority Population No. of Game Stores Population / Game Store
Burnaby 223,218 6              37,203
New Westminster 65,976 1              65,976
North Vancouver 84,412 0 NA
Richmond 190,473 2              95,237
Surrey 468,251 1            468,251
Vancouver 603,502 7              86,215


Common ‘knowledge’ in the industry (from what I recall) puts the number for a viable game store at about 50,000 at a minimum. Numbers jump up and down depending on the type of population (lots of college kids, tourist town, commuter town, etc.) and of course, other minor things like rent, salaries, etc.

So, if you assume that is correct, if I were going to open a store in the Lower Mainland I’d consider either Richmond or Surrey or North Vancouver just from the above data with Burnaby a far last.  Of course, there’s a lot more to take into account – demographics and salaries, transportation and the like but it’s certainly an interesting statistic.   Maybe we should move the offices to Surrey the next time :)

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Bestsellers for Q1 & Q2 2014

July 4th, 2014 Posted in bestsellers | No Comments »

Thought it might be of interest to everyone. Based of quantity of units sold, here’s out Top 25 Bestselling Items in Canada.

1 Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men Foil Pack
2 Marvel Dice Masters: The Uncanny X-Men Foil Pack
3 Ultra PRO 9-Pocket Side Loading Page
4 Fantasy Flight Standard Card Sleeves
5 Ultra-Snug “Almost a Penny” Card Sleeves
6 Ultra PRO 9-Pocket Page for Standard Size Cards
7 Standard Card Sleeves – 63.5 mm x 88 mm
8 Standard European Card Sleeves
9 Premium Standard Card Sleeves – 63.5 mm x 88 mm
10 Star Wars X-Wing: Y-Wing
11 Tempest: Love Letter
12 Hanabi
13 Ultra Pro Penny Sleeves
14 Star Wars X-Wing: B-Wing
15 Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers VS X-Men Dice Building Game Starter Set
16 Star Wars X-Wing: Z-95 Headhunter
17 Fantasy Flight Standard American Board Game Sleeves
18 Pandemic (2013 Edition)
19 Star Wars X-Wing: TIE Advanced
20 Premium USA Card Sleeves
21 Star Wars X-Wing: TIE Defender
22 Star Wars X-Wing: TIE Phantom
23 Star Wars X-Wing: Core Set
24 Star Wars X-Wing: Imperial Aces
25 Star Wars X-Wing: A-Wing

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The GameWizard App – Updated

July 1st, 2014 Posted in business | No Comments »
Game Wizard App

Game Wizard App

We just updated the GameWizard App again. Hopefully, everyone has enjoyed using the App because it’s taken a lot of work to get here.

Background Work

Before we started working on the changes, one thing we really wanted to do was figure out a better way of keeping track of changes.  This was partly because as we developed the app further, we knew we were going to diverge from the Infographic which it was based on.

So, we looked around for software.  Then, realising there was no software that worked; we ended up using a modified spreadsheet. Yup, a spreadsheet is all that we are using to track this… but it did take a while to redo the questions in the spreadsheet.

Once we got the spreadsheet sorted, we had to start adding questions and games.  That meant tracking down the right paths, figuring out the appropriate questions and the appropriate answers.  Again, that takes a while.


Code Changes

We moved a section for Non-gamers to the first question to make it much more prominent where it was hidden under ‘Strategy Games’.  We cleaned up a section on Science Fiction games to shorten a series of questions about fandoms and then expanded a series of

We also added 20 new games and cleaned up some out of print games so that the app would be more useful.  All in, just coding time; it took another 8 hours to do all this (a lot of it being bug hunting and the initial huge moves).  If you figure it takes about 24 minutes per game changed.  Of course, it isn’t that long – it probably is only about 4 or 5 minutes of actual coding time when we are just adding a new branch – it’s when we are moving entire branches out that things get complicated.

The Scope

So when we say we added 20 games, what are we talking about? Well, the first program had over 1,300+ lines of code.  These days, we split the program up to do with multiple areas (cacheing, design, etc) and it’s harder to get a line count, but just the code for the games themselves are over 1,700+ lines of code.

In terms of game, we have 132 games now.  So, 20 games is a 15% increase to the number of games available.  To compare though, we have over 1,500+ SKUs (not individual games, games & expansions); so figure 1,100 or so individual games.  Or put another way, we are only 10% of the way to the number of games we have listed on the site.

On the other hand, we aren’t going to recommend all the games available – so we are probably 30 – 40% of the way to where we’d be happy with the app.

The Question

So, looking at the app, which area do you think we need to expand most desperately? Which questions need more refining to offer more choices and which games should we add to those choices? I know we’re a bit lacking in wargames, but that’s a really tough section as we’re not wargamers.



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Video Review: Robinson Crusoe – Adventures on the Cursed Island

June 30th, 2014 Posted in reviews | No Comments »

This week, we’re reviewing the biggest heavy cooperative game of the past year: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island.

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New Releases: June 27, 2014

June 27th, 2014 Posted in new releases | Comments Off

Android: Netrunner LCG – Overdrive Corp Draft Pack
Android: Netrunner LCG – Overdrive Draft Starter
Android: Netrunner LCG – Overdrive Runner Draft Pack
The Lord of the Rings LCG: The Dunland Trap Adventure Pack
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Spires of Xin-Shalast Adventure Deck
Rolling Freight: Expansion Map #1 – India/Great Britain
Samurai Sword: Rising Sun Expansion
Star Wars LCG: Join Us or Die Force Pack
Star Wars X-Wing: E-Wing
Star Wars X-Wing: TIE Defender
Star Wars X-Wing: TIE Phantom
Star Wars X-Wing: Z-95 Headhunter
Warhammer: Diskwars – Hammer and Hold Expansion
Warhammer: Diskwars – Legions of Darkness Expansion

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New Releases: June 24th, 2014

June 24th, 2014 Posted in general, new releases | Comments Off

Ascension: Realms Unravelled
Cardline: Animals
Cardline: Globetrotters
Desperados of Dice Town
Firefly: Out to the Black – Browncoat Card Pack
Firefly: Out to the Black – Serenity Card Pack
Galactic Strike Force
Krosmaster: Arena – Duel Pack 1
Krosmaster: Arena – Frigost Extension
Lost Valley: The Yukon Goldrush 1896
Munchkin Legends
Paradise Fallen
Pathfinder Pawns: Base Assortment
Power Play: Schemes and Skulduggery
Showdown: Icons
Spielbox Magazine: Issue #2 (2014)
Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary Edition
Winter Tales

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The Distribution Chain

June 24th, 2014 Posted in business | Comments Off

Interestingly enough, as much as I complain about the distribution chain in the game trade, developing Fortress Geek as also shown what an industry without a few major distributors is like – and let me tell you, it’s not pretty.

The Distribution Chain in Gaming

Let’s talk about what distributors do.  They are clearing houses for our favorite games, the places where publishers sell boxes / cartons / etc of games and who then consolidate and sell these games to us.  The major advantages for a retailer of a game distributor is the ability to consolidate their orders and for the distributors to ‘break’ cases, allowing gamers to buy smaller quantities of each game.  As I’ve written before, there are numerous other reasons but this consolidation and breaking of games makes a huge difference in how easy it is to run such a store.

Right now, in the US there are about 2 major distributors and another 3 to 4 medium sized distributors.  In Canada, there is 1 major distributor and another 3 or so smaller distributors.  To give a context of size, the major distributor in Canada is still smaller than most of the medium distributors in the US.

This is not a huge number of distributors, but it is enough to ensure that there is a decent amount of competition in the industry.

Now let’s take a look at another example in the general ‘Geek’ product world.

The Distribution Chain in the ‘Geek’ World

Let’s be clear here, when we say ‘geek’; it encompasses a lot – from figurines to collectibles to toys to t-shirts and apparel.  As such, in many ways; the entire concept of a single distributor who could cover all this is unlikely.  However, there are 2 major players in the market (Diamond who supply all the Comics being one of them).  These distributors however are pretty much oligopolies (and in Diamond’s case for comics a monopoly) and as such are able to dictate pricing, markup and quantities to a significant degree.  As such, they often do not break-up cases and if they do, margins are painfully low.

That is, if you can get the items you want.  A significant number of products can only be purchased direct from the suppliers themselves.  This of course creates a whole host of problems:

  • Minimum orders at each supplier
  • Lack of transparency of stock levels (many don’t have a method to view current stock levels)
  • Significantly increased number of supplier contacts and ensuing paperwork
  • Licensing & verification issues
  • Increased length of restocks

It’s no wonder that, if you look at the number of generic ‘geek’ stores in Canada; there just aren’t that many.  It’s extremely difficult to run such a store as we are finding out – its extremely difficult to go broad and deep as it requires a significant capital outlay.  In many cases, we have to stock multiple copies of an item even before we know if it’ll sell.

So while publishers and retailers might complain about the distribution chain (and yeah, there are issues); it’s at least better than the current system evidenced in the ‘geek’ world.

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Whispering in the Wind

June 17th, 2014 Posted in business | 1 Comment »

Sometimes it’s scary posting online on this blog.  It’s not that as if we are such a big player that what we do / what we think / what we want is going to change anything by posting.  In fact, posting anything controversial is just asking to be signaled out as a troublemaker.  It wasn’t a problem when we were tiny and no one read this blog (like when we started); but now we actually get citations from Wikipedia and even have people read us across the world.

It’s not as if we even get money from this blog – at least, not the business posts.  So why bother?

Truthfully, I think it’s the perverse side of me that likes poking the bear.  Or teasing my wife.

There are other less self-destructive reasons of course:

  • Education – somethings are outside our control. The more we educate our customers on these aspects, the less difference there is between their expectations and our reality there is to occur.  It creates a smoother customer flow.
  • Analysis – writing these posts generally require me to conduct analysis, not only on the topic on-hand but on my thinking processes.  Occasionally, that’s actually been useful.  I hate writing reports, but a blog post can help me structure my thoughts in the same way.

Overall, I post what I want when I want to. I try to watch what I post though based off the idea that nothing I ever post will disappear; so I best be willing to stand by it.  That corollary though means that I don’t post a lot of things, because this is a public forum still.

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Video Review: Boss Monster

June 16th, 2014 Posted in reviews | Comments Off

This week, we’re reviewing Boss Monster, a light card game inspired by classic 8-bit video games.

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