Alliance Game Distributors and Diamond Comic Distributors have announced that they will jointly have the exclusive right to distribute Game Workshop's new table-top war game based on the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The Alliance/Diamond exclusive includes all of North and South America, with the exception of Brazil and Games Workshop's company-owned stores. The first release--the Lord of the Rings Deluxe Boxed Set, which will undoubtedly be based on Games Workshop's Warhammer rules system--is due to ship on November 3rd.  Supplements and guides will follow.  The new Lord of the Rings film, Fellowship of the Ring, debuts on Dec. 19th (see 'The Swami Looks at Movies in 2001').


Diamond and Alliance are connected by common ownership -- Diamond owner Steve Geppi acquired Alliance last summer.  While Diamond controls the bulk of the new comics market in the U.S. thanks to exclusive specialty retailer distribution of DC, Dark Horse, Image, and Marvel comics, Alliance lacks similar 'exclusive' clout in the games marketplace, although it is the largest U.S. game distributor.  Is this the opening salvo in a barrage of exclusives, or just another quirky distribution move by Games Workshop, a company that has previously lowered distributor discounts in an attempt to foster direct-to-retailer sales?  With Games Workshop as the second largest game manufacturer in the English-speaking world (after Hasbro's WoTC division), this will be an interesting test for all concerned.