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Rolling for Initiative--Pandemic 'Plaints and Meeple Monthly's Move

Column by Scott Thorne

Published: 02/11/2013 01:33am
Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks again at the early release of Pandemic in one channel and the launch of a new distributor magalog.

The annoying thing about the early release of Pandemic 2nd Edition to Target is that unlike broken street dates on Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! products, theoretically Z-Man Games had much more control over the release of the second edition game and therefore should have managed to keep the February 6th release date.  Wizards of the Coast and Konami both have a number of distributors to deal with regarding street dates and each distributor has hundreds of stores to deal with as well.  In the Pandemic case, Z-Man had only one distributor with which to work and that distributor only had one account carrying the product.  I am not privy to the inner workings of that particular channel of distribution but I would imagine it not too difficult to make certain that Pandemic did not arrive in Target
's distribution center until just before the release date, or even after.
 
I really doubt the amount of sales generated by the extra week of early release amounted to even a fraction of a rounding error on Target’s income statement.  Meanwhile, it cost stores in the game channel sales, generated negative publicity for the company, and likely annoyed to no end Alliance Distribution, Z-Man's official distributor to the specialty game channel, and likely the recipient of hundreds of emails and calls from perturbed retailers wondering why Target had the hotly anticipated reprint a week ahead of the scheduled release whilst they did not.
 
OK, enough about that (for now, at least).  ACD Distribution, which is a bit of a redundancy since the company's original name was Alternative Card Distribution, making the current name of the company Alternative Card Distribution Distribution, has revamped its ACD Newsletter, renaming it Meeple Monthly and adopting a format similar to Alliance's GTM magazine and Diamond's Previews catalog, presenting the month's solicitations of new and resolicited games and related products, along with magazine style columns and articles.  This issue had articles looking at the history of Privateer Press and its Warmachine line, the design of Wyrd Miniatures' new Evil Baby Orphanage game, an overview of the new Irrisen series of supplements for Pathfinder, and most interesting, at least to me, Martin Wallace's take on the deck-building mechanic and how he incorporated it into his A Few Acres of Snow game to represent the difficulty in acquiring resources and the need to work with what you have during a time of war.  A very interesting read and a good way to call attention to a game first released over two years ago.  Although I have seen a solicitation for a second edition of the game, in an industry that strongly focuses on the newest releases, it is good to see this extensive a look at a game that still sells, though not as briskly as it did upon its initial release.  Hopefully, with the additional attention generated by the Wallace column, sales of A Few Acres of Snow will spike again.  I also hope that Meeple Monthly keeps the same clean layout it currently has with the same mix of articles looking at both new and upcoming products, as well as already published catalog titles.  If it does, I will look forward to each issue's arrival with my ACD order.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
 
 
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