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Dealers find much to play and learn at ACD Games Day 2014

By Tim Kidwell
Published: June 26, 2014
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ACD Distribution President Bob Maher takes questions from retailers at ACD Games Day 2014 on May 22 in an open forum discussing all aspects of the hobby game industry, from better customer service to publisher street dates.
ACD Games Day 2014 was full up with both vendors from as far away as the Czech Republic and retailers from across the U.S. The trade show, hosted by ACD Distribution and held May 21–23 in Madison, Wis., saw its largest attendance to date, with more than 237 retail stores and 60 game publishers sending a total of 600 representatives, said Adrian Sullivan, ACD’s director of communications.

The show featured 28 hour-long seminars presented by industry and retail leaders over two days. Attending retailers discovered new products slated for re-lease in the remainder of 2014, learned what support they can expect from game publishers, and received sales and store management advice.

Among the most popular seminars were those presented by store owners, which included topics such as inventory management, using Amazon to improve sales, and attracting more customers than just hardcore hobbyists.

Questions and concerns
ACD President Bob Maher held a question-and-answer session for a packed room of retailers. “It really is like facing a firing squad,” Maher joked. Filled with critiques peppered with praise, the session wheeled its way through ordering difficulties, better responsiveness on ACD’s part, deeper inventory, the problems created when publishers miss street dates, and how ACD might act as a retailer advocate.

ACD is always in the process of improving its ordering and fulfillment system, which has, in the past, included a complete overhaul of ACD’s computer and inventory system, Maher said. The company also acquired a new facility in Madison in the past year to help accommodate its expanding business. As far as street dates were concerned, Maher said he would have to look deeper into the process to see what ACD could do to ease retailer concerns and improve communication between all three market tiers.

Of particular concern were the growing number of game publishers seeking ex-clusive distribution deals that require re-tailers to purchase popular games from a single source. Exclusive deals were up in the air, Maher said, meaning companies might renegotiate or decide to change partners. “I’m not all about exclusives, and would not oppose it going away,” he said.

Let the games begin
Inside the exhibition hall were plenty of games, old and new, for dealers to demo.

Steve Jackson Games will rerelease the original version of Ogre as the Ogre Pocket Edition. With a $2.95 retail price tag, the same as the game’s original price back in 1977, the futuristic game of asymmetric warfare is sure to grab the attention of nostalgic old grognards. It also has the potential for growing the game’s popularity among new players, especially with the release of the sixth edition rules and miniatures sets. Other new games sure to turn some heads were Hipster Dice ($4.95) and Mars Attacks: The Dice Game ($19.95), based off of the popular Topps collector cards.

Greater Than Games showed off its upcoming tactical cooperative deck-building game Galactic Strike Force. The company hopes to build on the success of its initial release, Sentinels of the Multiverse, a cooperative card game in which players take on the personas of comic book superheroes and join forces to combat supervillains. In Galactic Strike Force, two to six players wage war in space against menaces threatening to take over the galaxy. The twist: Players aren’t your typical good guys; they play the scum of the galaxy — pirates, smugglers and bounty hunters. The base set ($39.95) comes with full-color ship tokens, cards, and strike-force ship and flagship panels — everything spacefaring heroes need to get started. An expansion set of PVC ship miniatures ($29.95) allows players to replace the color cardboard tokens in the base game. Galactic Strike Force looks every bit as fun as its predecessor.

For retailers looking to add more kid-friendly titles, Queen GamesDragon Valley ($39.99) is due out this summer. In this dexterity-based game, players work together to move young dragons with sticks, “levitating” them out of the clutches of an evil witch. Challenging and delightfully simple, this game is sure to be a huge hit with the younger-than-10 crowd and enjoyable for adults, too. I know I wanted to keep playing!

Japanime Games announced Frigost ($45), the iceworld expansion for its popular miniatures and card combat game, Krosmaster Arena ($80). The expansion includes a new board, expanded rules, an exclusive figure, and various tokens and scenery elements. Also look for Duel Packs ($20), each with two exclusive figures and two-player, quick-start rules. For two to four players ages 8 and older, Krosmaster Arena does a good job of combining cool playability with figures, and it promotes tactical thinking to appeal to a broad audience.

At the printer now, Pirates, Ninjas, Robots & Zombies (about $20 retail) from Rather Dashing Games is a tile-laying game in which players score by linking as many like-colored tiles as possible. At the same time, players work to head off opponents and sabotage their efforts with nemesis tiles. It’s created by the same team that developed Dwarven Miner ($49.99) and Red Hot Silly Peppers ($14.99).

On the final day of the trade show, after a tour of ACD’s facility, attendees were treated to a cookout and given a chance to mingle with the ACD staff.