F&E $49 Verdun/An Loc $34 ASL Blood & Jungle $99 ASL Tyrant's Lair $44
1. Fine Games Celebrates its 18th Birthday
A long, strange trip its been since we began doing business on 1 April 1992. So, this April Fool's Day, I look back with a mixture of disbelief & amazement that the hobby of my younger days has become the heart of my career. And wonder, what's next?
Thru these 18 years, we've strived to provide good value in our games for your money, to maintain a pretty comprehensive library of games both new & used, and to maintain high ethical standards in how we do business. (Remember our primary customer service policy? No BS!) We've done a pretty good job of this over these 18 years, yes?
We've fallen down in keeping up with internet technology; yes, we still don't have a shopping cart of thousands of pictures. And we've lost out by failing to address head-on wargame publishers' pre-order arrangements; these have eaten into our core business over time. Lastly, your experience with other dealers' special order practices have soured you on ordering games via special order (versus ordering off our shelves).
Oh, and doing business in the 2010s can be a real pain. You'll read below in our 2010 Update about relentless increases in shipping costs, in credit card costs and hassles, in the prices of games, and the difficulty many wargame publishers have in getting their acts together.
A long strange trip, indeed. Thanks for your business and support thru it all.
2. Special This Spring: One Boxed Game Shipped in the US for $10
This spring, we offer a special deal on shipping most boxed games anywhere within the US postal system (i.e. the territorial US plus APO/FPO addresses. And its FAST: priority mail typically arrives 2-3 days after shipment.
Times have changed our customers' ordering habits, and many are ordering one game at a time instead of a small stack of games. This offer reduces the price of shipping for such orders (reduces it below our own postage cost, as a matter of fact). We intend this to make us more competitive for single-game shipments when compared with game publishers who typically subsidize their shipping charges.
Details are these: (1) the destination must be accessable with the domestic USPS system, including APO/FPO addresses; (2) any ONE game that fits within a medium flat rate priority box qualifies; many boxed games fit, but many FB (flat boxed, such as classic AH games) & all LB (Large Boxed) games do not fit, and so do not qualify; (3) we will give you this special rate if you qualify; you needn't ask for it; (4) this offer may be withdrawn at any time.
Normandy $109 Washington's War $42 Above the Clouds $66 Kaiser's War #261 $22.50
3. Monitor Game Releases by Year & Month: a New Catalog
Some of our customers, especially the more dedicated collectors, will find a new catalog Fine Games offers to be very handy. If you're looking to make sure you've obtained all the games & mags you are interested in, this is a way to do it systematically. Plus, these lists aren't gummed up with games that are no longer available; items shown are either in-stock and/or still in-print.
Our New Game Releases by Year & Month catalog allows you to view all the games actually published in a given month or year, all the way back to mid-1995 (when we started tracking this info). Want to see games published year-to-date in 2010? Done. Published in 2000? This is the place.
4. Special Order Catalog with Availability Indicators
Another new Fine Games catalog, our New Game Price & Availability List (PDF), shows each of the 28,000-some items carried by our primary distributor in any of its 4 national warehouses. If you want to shop role playing games, miniatures, collectable card games, dice, and anything else we typically don't list in our own catalogs, you can do it with this catalog. Need more info or want to search online? You can do that as well our Alliance's Online Search web page.
But wait, its get's better! Our customers' experience with special orders elsewhere have soured many; they just don't trust that the goods will arrive. We've addressed that concern by showing you in this catalog which items are available in the warehouse we most commonly shop from (2 days away in sunny California), and then also how many of the 3 more distant warehouses also have the item. With this availability info, you can easily judge how easily a given item can be obtained.
5. Vae Victis Magazine Special Orders Requested
Vae Victis is a French wargaming magazine akin to Strategy & Tactics with a game in each issue. Except that all the text is in French; English-translated rules are generally available for download. But the games are generally quite solid, and cover many aspects of European history overlooked by American publishers. They are a worthy addition to a wargame collection.
We must import this magazine from Europe since no distributor carries it, a time-consuming & rather spendy proposition. But this is your opportunity to special order any available issues of Vae Victis. Given sufficient demand, we will place an order for these later in April which should arrive in June (yeah, June). Interested, see our listings for Vae Victis magazine games online, or give us a call. Most issues available.
Please contact us by Monday, 19 April, if interested.
Afrikakorps #11 $23 Coral Sea Solitaire #10 $23.50 Bataan $47 ATS Fuhrer's Bunker $60.00
6. The Game Industry, an Update in 2010
Our observations of the state & trajectory of the board gaming hobby have been popular in past years' newsletters. (Review our past observations from March '08, Feb. '07, Aug. '03, Feb. '03, May '02, Sept. '99.) Let us share with you a bit of what its like to work within the board game industry — working with wargame companies in particular — in the recent times.
- Disintermediation: We have noted this result of the maturation of the internet
for all of the last decade. Initially, it helped us connect with publishers & gamers
(i.e. consumers). That lessened the need for distributors. Then publishers learned to both
market to their gamers (a novel concept, eh?) and next to sell to them directly (which
they'd resisted previously). Then they developed a pre-order system to gauge demand for
their games and incentivize ordering direct. And that lessened demand for online retailers
(such as yours truly).
This has hit home. Distributors have all but given up on most wargame publishers. There are exceptions (GMT being the biggest), but try finding games from Australian Design Group (World in Flames), Multi Man (ASL), or GRD (Europa series games) sourced thru a distributor. Even if they were available, it would be at a very disadvantageous cost; Multi Man, for instance, sells to retailers at the same price it does to distributors, effectively cutting out the distributor level entirely.
Here at Fine Games, sales of games from publishers using pre-order systems have declined sharply. Sometimes our price isn't competitive, but more often the pre-order is taken as a "vote" for a game — even tho we also submit pre-orders (and "votes") ourselves. This is a core problem Fine Games must address.
- Intermediation: That internet, it's a beautiful thing. It puts gamers
in touch with one another, and our tiny community of a few tens of thousands scattered
around the globe can connect with ease. In particular, comparing impressions about games
can dramatically influence the success or failure of games. Even small publisher games
can gain attention quickly if they put out a good product. And dogs? Well, god help you
if you publish crap like WWW did in the early 90s because word will spread and you'll
be carrying your inventory for a long, long time. In this respect, the internet is a
very good thing as it helps the market do its work to reward good and ignore the bad.
- Fire & Movement Ceases Publication: F&M mag, long the premier wargame
review magazine, ceased publication with its last issue (#150) in January. The only
remaining print mag is now Paper Wars, which seems to have rather limited distribution
tho its of largely the same quality as F&M. F&M's publisher cited declining numbers, authors'
lack of timeliness, as well as simple obsolescence of the print magazine format in
the age of the internet. See Disintermediation, above!
Read DG's plan to create a more timely, online version of what was Fire & Movement.
- Going up, Up, UP! Game Prices & Weights: Both the prices and bulk
of games are been rising sharply in recent years. Games that were once maxed
out at $40 now easily reach $60 or more. Kits can be $40. Its a crude measure, but among
the games we deal in the average price increased 6.1% in 2009 versus 2008, and 27% over
This is insignificant for many with sizable disposable incomes. But for younger gamers with more limited income, and arguably greater alternatives for their limited resources, it is another thing that weakens the gaming industry's future.
Game weights have also risen sharply. The average weight of what we track increased by 43% in the last decade — an immense increase. My annectodal observation is that the 'made in China' option that Hasbro, Fantasy Flight & others have taken has resulted in big, bulky, flashy games that also have short shelf lives. And the carbon footprint for games — a new concept, but a significant one — has grown tremendously thru the use of plastics, and transporting that 10 lb game across the pond to the US or Europe. Its a new world...
- Fees, Everwhere Fees: Times are tough all around. And many of our vendors
spread the joy. UPS & USPS have been increasing their shipping charges well above inflation
for years; the postal service says its losing money despite that. UPS creatively extends
its fees each year, adding one for those more rural than others (11% of our customers
are "rural" per UPS), doubling its weekly account fee, and increased its fee to make
even minor address corrections ($10).
PayPal changed policy last year so that all "non-personal" payments are assessed a fee of roughly 3%. For that reason, payments must be declared as "personal" to avoid fees to the recipient even when drawn from funds already in your PP account.
But the winners are credit card companies. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AmEx & others have piled fee upon fee for the privaledge of processing a credit card charge. Today, there are about 8 V/MC/D fees for each payment processes where two years ago there were basically none. And before we switched processors early this year, we were paying up to 5.5% on each transaction. Things are better, but each month there is a new fee for some fictional service.
- Those Within the Game Business: We can be pretty funny ourselves!
Take, for instance, a small publisher of very large wargames. Our key contact there can't figure out how to set up his voice mail. Hasn't for three years.
Or a major publisher of tactical scenario kits & games is busy. Really busy. Really really busy. So busy that it took them 2-1/2 months to ship our last order to us. And they have some problem getting all the parts that belong into their bigger games into the games before they ship.
And GAMA, the Game Manufacturers Association, purportedly had a scant 80-some publishers show up for their annual convention last week. In contrast, our primary distributor carries close to 300 publisher's goods. (Still, it was said to be well attended, with a suprising number of foreign game retailers showing up.)
Hearts & Minds $37 Yalu 3rd $44 Convoy $37 F&M mag #150 $6.50
7. Boulder Game Gives It Up
One of our long-time competitors, tho never a rival, Jim Sandefur, announced that he will be retiring and thus that his game company, Boulder Games, will likely close in the immediate future. He is currently liquidating his inventory so check out his sale, and tell 'em we sent you.
Jim dates his business to 1989, the same year that we began buying & sell games informally. We were just behind him in formalizing our business in establising relationships with distributors (something that was not easy to do as a mail order retailer in the early 1990s). So we see a bit of ourselves in his decision to move onto other pursuits which offer greater fulfillment in the second half of his life. And we certainly wish him & his pot (whoops, pots) well!
8. Print a Listing Of Our Complete Inventory
You can view or print a catalog of the FULL BREADTH of our inventory. This catalog shows ALL the games, magazines, supplies, parts, etc, we offer (omitting only redundant listings). Download it anytime as PDF Acrobat file:
Reading this puppy is admittedly a chore as it is over 160pgs long. There are, after all, over 5,000 discreet items in our inventory. But like a good candy store, there oh so many treats hidden in the nooks & crannies. And we'll bet you that if you look at any random page in this catalog, you'll find something that interesting to you, maybe a whole string of items.
9. Your Subscription Includes All These Services
Fine Games provides many services to you at the cost of merely keeping informed of your current contact info. We encourage you to take advantage of these as they suit your needs at the time.
- Want List & Notification of Games Your Looking For
- Catalogs of Newly Published Games & Pending Releases
- Special Order Any Available In-Print Game at a Discount
- We Accept Trade-Ins as well as Buy & Consign Games
- Shipment Confirmation and Tracking Upon Shipment
- Responsive to Your Individual Needs
- A Comprehensive Inventory of 10,000+ Items
- Catalogs Updated Several Times Each Week: They Are Current
- Full Descriptions of Physcial Quality
- Extensive Inventory of Spare Parts
- FAST turn-around often with same-day shipping & 2-day delivery
- Did We Mention Fine Games' Update Newsletter?
10. Suggest the Terms of Our Next Sale
Help us create the perfect game sale. Tell us what's important to you. Low price, discounted or free shipping, expedited shipping? What would inspire you to buy more games from Fine Games? Tell us what you think.
Tell us as well what you liked or didn't like about this newsletter. How can we make it more interesting & valuable to you?
Lastly, our Liquidation Catalog offers you pile of deeply discounted games needing a good home. These are a hodge podge of games, magazines, accessories, PC game software, and surplus computer equipment. All are available for immediate sale at liquidation prices. Currently, this catalog shows about 259 items. We continue to add items as well as to systematically reduce the price of items that remain periodically until most of this stuff is gone.