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June 26th, 2008

Thursday Morning Mish-Mash @ 11:44 am

Current Location: Muskrat Central
Current Music: "Up The Hill Backwards" - David Bowie

I totally buggered up the links to Jonny Nexus' various sites and stuff yesterday, so here they are again, all shiny and new and, you know, LINK-able:

I've read three books so far this year on gaming. All have been just terrific.

I've already talked about "Achtung, Schweinhund." I'll be posting on the thoroughly enjoyable "The Elfish Gene" soon.

The third book was kindly sent to me by jonnynexus, its author: "Game Night."

I read it over the last weekend I was in England, although it was actually sent to me last winter. I wish I hadn't waited so long. I also wish I'd brought it with me to Warpcon, where the inimitable author was, to get it signed.

Well, if you're in the Reading area this weekend (of England - hush, you Pennsylvanians), you can do one better than me and pick up a copy and have J.N. sign it for you! Just pop by Eclectic Games, which I hear is a rather excellent shop that's moving to a new, larger site adjacent to their current location. The opening day is this Saturday, 28th June, when the author will start signing away from about 10 am onwards.

So if you're near Reading, it would behoove you to hit Eclectic Games, grab a copy of this Pratchett-esque debut novel of gods, roleplaying, and game-night kerfuffles. Plus, Jonny's a hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is.

Eclectic Games is located just opposite the railway station (hopefully, this link opens to a map).

Eclectic Games
Thames Tower
38-45 Station Road
Reading
RG1 1LX

So, yeah - buy "Game Night." Get it signed. It's a fun, fresh, irreverent read that'll ring true to any gamer even if, unlike the protagonists, you happen not to be a god.

Chapter one is available as a free preview download. With luck, clicking on that there link should procure it for you.

****

Some folks asked for larger images of the Star Kobolds that'll be used at Origins. Here they are:




A reader asked, yesterday if, based on these drawings, Tribbles tasted like chicken.

"Only in the dish "Truffle with Tribbles," I replied.

Ba-dum, dum!

(With extra emphasis on the "dum.")

****

Mattel's released their first Apples to Apples game with all-new content: Apples to Apples to Go.

An exclusive for Target which therefore can also be picked up at Amazon.com as well, I bought my copy with more than a little trepidation. Now that A2A belongs to someone else, it's a bit like bumping into an ex-girlfriend and her new husband on the street.

It's gratifying that Mattel kept the illustrations and logo I did for the game (indeed, my plucky little Apple is even larger on the cards, now). So too was it nice to see that the flavor text I spent much time on (snarky doesn't come easy to me, gang) made it through to the Mattel version. But what would this all-new edition be like?

I needn't have worried. Mattel got it right.

If you like Apples to Apples, you'll love the all-new cards in the "To Go" version. It's packed with Red Apple cards like "Dick Cheney," "Linday Lohan," "Machiavelli" and "The First Amendment," and the flavor text hits just the right notes: "DICK CHENEY: 1941- , Forty-sixth Vice President of teh U.S. and much-feared quail hunter." Brilliant. And the mix of high-brow and low-brow cards seems spot-on

There are a couple of slight mis-steps: "Snooty Maitre D's" carries with it an implicit value judgement - a simple "Maitre D's" would have been more fitting. Similarly "Your Ex" should have been "My Ex," as all such cards are written from the Judge's point of view. And I'm surprised at some of the "all-new" cards. We never did "A Plague of Locusts" "Word War II" or "ABBA"? Really?

Still, it's a great set, and I can't wait to play with it. Any fears folks might have had about Mattel changing A2A for the worse seem definitely unfounded, at least based on the terrific "Apples to Apples to Go."

****

But Mattel...next time you want to show my beloved little Apple guy running...give me a call. I work cheap. Honest.




****

And yet another Change/Change cartoon...


John Trever
Albuquerque Journal
Jun 26, 2008
 
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Comments

 
[User Picture Icon]
From:raggedrobin
Date:June 26th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
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Can the On the Go cards be used with the original Out of the Box set? I know that the face of the cards has been changed slightly, but I wasn't sure if the backs still match up. I don't want to buy it only to find that the cards will be recognizable in a mixed deck. :D
[User Picture Icon]
From:muskrat_john
Date:June 26th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
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There's slight shading that'll make these cards stand out a bit, but they're pretty compatible.The shapes and sizes are the same.

The On-The-Go set is self-sufficient, though, with enough red and green cards to be played on its own.
[User Picture Icon]
From:kuroshii
Date:June 26th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
(Link)
An exclusive for Target which for some reason can be picked up at Amazon.com as well,

amazon does all of target's online order fullfillment. their entire online engine, in fact: you can log in at target.com with your amazon.com login.

you'll notice it lists as "ships from and sold by" target.com ...so there ya go. :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:muskrat_john
Date:June 26th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the info!
From:linxan_terrano
Date:June 26th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
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Hmm... I was of the impression that the connection between the two was deeper than that — that, on some level, the two are actually part of the same company, or some such. A glance at Wikipedia, however, suggests that you are indeed correct, Kuroshii.
[User Picture Icon]
From:brotherflounder
Date:June 26th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, that's too funny. I was just thinking that A2A was too big to take with me on the next vacation. Must get to Target.
[User Picture Icon]
From:rono_60103
Date:June 26th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC)
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Kuroshii beat me to the comment about Amazon.com running Target's website (etc.), so I won't repeat it.

However, when I saw Trever's cartoon this morning (I'm a native of Albuquerque and have two signed Trever collections, so I dig up the ABQ Journal online most mornings to read his work), I said to myself "I bet that muskrat_john will comment on this one shortly."


Edited at 2008-06-26 05:57 pm (UTC)
[User Picture Icon]
From:muskrat_john
Date:June 26th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You, sir, win that bet!

[User Picture Icon]
From:rogue461
Date:June 26th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
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John,

I own a hobby market game store and I have to admit I read your initial announcement of the Mattel acquisition with a sense of sorrow. While Out of the Box "gets" the hobby game store, Mattel and Hasbro/MB simply do not care if that market segment is successful or not... their eyes are solely on the big box stores.

As I anticipated the wholesale prices of the games went up with the MSRP staying the same which gives us the choice of either reducing our margin even more or raising the price higher than MSRP (which breeds a perception and feeling of "ripping off" my customers which does not sit well with me). And now, in typical Mattel/Hasbro fashion they are releasing items exclusive to certain big box chains.

I understand the economic incentives that Out of the Box had for selling off the products they did... but the ripple effect certainly has negatively impacted other businesses that promote Out of the Box's products.
[User Picture Icon]
From:muskrat_john
Date:June 26th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
(Link)
There's always going to be that give and take, pull and tug...

The decision to sell was NOT a unanimous one, nor an easy one. I was dead set against it, myself. But I was outvoted.

With luck, the seven years that Apples was in the hobby market almost exclusively at least helped somewhat.

I'm a huge supporter of the hobby industry. I hope when games like Apples or Carcasonne or Ticket to Ride or Settlers appear in the big box stores, at least some new customers will come into hobby stores, looking for the expansions -- or at the very least, new games sparked by a new interest in OTHER REALLY GOOD GAMES now -- that just can't be found at Wal*Mart...

It is difficult indeed, though. You have a family to feed, your customers have a family to feed, and the folks at OtB who wanted to sell have families to feed - as do I. While I was against the sale, the Mattel check has obviously made a huge impact on my life.

What is to be done? I just don't know. I suppose the best you can hope for is simply to continually treat those you deal with as best you can...so that when stuff like this happens (as it inevitably will), there is at least trust and goodwill...

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