Received our pre-release kit for Dragons of Tarkir today and I must admit that it had me rather befuddled when I first opened the box as I had no idea was the Tarkir Dragonfury game was or really how to assemble it. At first sight, I thought we hung the board on the wall, fastened the pawns to it and let players drop their Spindown counters down through it ala Plinko. A little closer look at the directions, though, and I realized it was actually a bowling game, with the Spindown counter as the ball and what look like repurposed Stratego tokens as the pins. Each token is worth so many points if knocked over and players receive promotional Magic cards based on how many point they score with a roll. The staff has had fun today playing with the set (I think the high score was 22) and, by leaving it out on display for the next two weeks, I figure we should generate even more interest for the Dragons of Tarkir pre-release. I know we had a customer sign up for all 4 pre-releases after seeing the display and a number of people have commented on it. The set has proven much better than the also included poster in terms of ginning up interest for the pre-releases.
A lot of companies out there now do pre-releases or launch parties for their new products but the Dragons of Tarkir pre-release kit shows why WOTC stands head and shoulders above every other company in the industry in terms of preparing for and assisting stores with pre-releases. Although nice, I am not talking about the Tarkir Dragonfury game or the promo crards or Fate Reforged Ulin’s Vault or even the poster. Why WOTC stands so far above any other company in the industry is the date.
I am writing this on March 7. We received the kit this morning and had everything set up and on display within a couple of hours. When is the actual pre-release? Not until the weekend of March 21. WOTC got the materials to us two weeks prior to the event. Do you know what released on Friday March 6? The new Heroes and Villans expansion set for the Dragonball Z TCG. Do you know when I got the launch kit for the Heroes and Villains expansion set for the Dragonball Z TCG? Thursday March 6. If you remember the difficulty I had several weeks ago just getting signed up for Dragonball Z Organized Play, I am quite happy to get the launch materials from Panini. However, I would have been much happier to have had the items in the kit, especially the poster one to four weeks ago so that I could point to it and tell customers “Yeah, we are getting in the new DBZ expansion . We expect to have it in on March 6 and will run a launch event for it at our next scheduled DBZ night.” We would have had 2-4 weeks to build buzz as opposed to 2 to 4 days. Almost every other company does the same thing, apparently worried that stores will sell the promo items instead of giving them out to customers. Yeah, there are stores that will do that, but if you are that worried about it, monitor stores and come down hard on the ones that do. Look at WOTC. Get us the materials far enough in advance that we can use them to help both of us.