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2013 Alliance Open House features seminars, product reveals and more

By John Kaufeld
Published: October 21, 2013
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John Kaufeld
Harebrained Schemes demonstrates the prototype of Golem Arcana at the 2013 Alliance Open House Oct. 4–6 in Fort Wayne, Ind.
New products and news-worthy announcements inspired retailers at this year’s Alliance Open House Oct. 4–6 in Fort Wayne, Ind. More than 280 attendees representing more than 160 stores attended the show. Representatives from 66 game companies staffed booths in the exhibit hall and demonstrated games in the open-gaming area.

Fantasy Flight opened the weekend event with a special Thursday night preview of Eldritch Horror. The company also promoted an opportunity for retailers to build store traffic by hosting an Eldritch Horror Preview Event. Participating stores can purchase a preview kit, which includes a complete copy of the game, promotional materials and a pre-order signup sheet for customers.

Mayfair Games hosted its popular Demo-2-Demo program, where retailers learned to demonstrate Asgard’s Chosen, Five Points: Gangs of New York and Road Rally USA. Participating stores also took home demonstration copies of each game. WizKids also held a special organized-play primer session on its Marvel HeroClix Avengers vs. X-Men Storyline events.

The first day’s schedule included a mixture of manufacturer information sessions and retail education seminars. Seminar topics included sessions on maximizing store profit, improving customer experiences, personal selling and using the popular TableTop series on YouTube to boost sales. Retailers also attended briefing sessions from Cryptozoic, Days of Wonder, Fantasy Flight, Looney Labs, Mayfair, Wizards of the Coast, WizKids and the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

On the second day of the show, retailers heard manufacturer presentations and participated in the annual charity auction during breakfast, lunch and dinner sessions. Between meals, attendees wandered the exhibit hall to meet with game companies and dive into demo sessions.

The mealtime manufacturer presentations poured out product and promotion plans to prepare retailers for maximum profit opportunities in the coming months.

Mayfair pleased the audience when it announced an early end to the Target exclusive on Star Trek Catan. The game will be available through Alliance Game Distributors beginning Nov. 1. To celebrate its release, Mayfair and Alliance partnered to offer special discount pricing on all current Mayfair products, as well as a national advertising push in the USA Today and a national sale promotion in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Dealers should contact their Alliance sales rep for more details.

In addition to its Eldritch Horror demonstration night, Fantasy Flight also promoted Battlelore 2nd Edition, coming by the end of the year, as well as an updated version of the popular Media Center in-store demonstration system. The new center will deliver 30-second product-introduction videos, living card game pack previews and a card sleeve finder to help customers match popular games with the appropriate Fantasy Flight sleeves.

WizKids laid out plans for several game lines. In addition to reviewing organized play plans and product releases for its traditional Clix products, the company also focused on board games such as the light strategy game Trains and Stations and the higher strategy title The Hobbit: Journey to the Lonely Mountain Strategy Game. Star Trek Attack Wing will see two waves of ships by the end of the year, as well as a six-month organized play plan with special prizes for participants. The crowd was particularly excited about the upcoming Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men game, set for an early 2014 release.

Days of Wonder demonstrated Relic Runner, its new adventure game. The company previewed its new Ticket to Ride: Nederland game, coming in mid-November. In honor of next year’s decade anniversary of Ticket to Ride and Memoir ’44, Days of Wonder announced 10th anniversary editions of both games, available in 2014. It also released a Ticket to Ride tournament kit, containing a winner’s medal, limited edition train sets and promotional materials.

Looney Labs pleased retailers with its new party game, Choose One, coming in October. It also announced that Early American Chrononauts is coming back into print and previewed several new games coming in 2014. The Looney Holiday Gift for this year, titled the “Mammoth Fun Pack,” is available for stores to share with their customers. Retailers should contact the company directly to request Holiday Gifts.

Many other companies showed upcoming products in the exhibit hall. Z-Man Games previewed Carcassonne Winter Edition, La Boca and a re-design of Parade that features an Alice in Wonderland theme. Asmodee promoted its new demonstration program and showed Rampage, set for a November release. Zvezda showed Cars: Cool Twists and Planes: High Pilotage, both built on licenses from Disney. Enterplay showed the My Little Pony Collectible Card Game, based on the new show license, also set for a November release.

Iello previewed a number of upcoming titles, including Innovation, Biblios, Three Little Pigs, Zombie 15, Heroes of Normandie and Steam Park. Look for them during the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.

Cryptozoic talked up its cooperative The Walking Dead Board Game, along with upcoming products built on the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The company also announced a holiday product swap program, which encourages retailers to stock games in full case quantities for the holidays and then swap any unsold product for other Cryptozoic products in March.

Attending dealers left the show plenty of samples from exhibitors and also received a jumbo-sized “goodie box” packed with even more products. Many retailers said they planned to use these games for in-store demonstrations and staff training.

The Alliance Open House charity auction included 60 unique items donated by manufacturers and other industry members. It raised over $9,000. In addition to its regular charity partners, Alliance also offered the opportunity to donate to cancer research in memory of Phyllis Opolko from Diamond and Todd Breitenstein of Twilight Creations, both of whom lost their battles with cancer in the last year.

Attending retailers also selected winners of the 2013 Best of the Game Trade Awards to recognize outstanding stores in the industry. Winners included:
  • Best Gaming Area — Comic Quest, Evansville, Ind.
  • Best Miniature Game Section — Little Shop of Magic, Las Vegas
  • Best Organized Play — Books Comics & Things, Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • Best Tabletop Display — Dragons Den Games, Glen Allen, Va.
  • Best Board and Family Game Section — Games and Stuff, Burnie, Md.
  • Best Collectible Card Game Section — Games and Stuff, Burnie, Md.
  • Best Roleplaying Game Section — Games and Stuff, Burnie, Md.
Next year’s Alliance Open House is scheduled for Sept. 7–8, 2014, in Fort Wayne.