Monday, August 14, 2017

Why Exclusives?

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the reasons for game exclusives and who benefits and who doesn't

Monday, August 7, 2017

Target Exclusives and Arcane Tinmen Stays Non-exclusive

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the implications of the announced exclusive games at Target as well as the announced non-exclusivity of Arcane Tinmen products.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dragonshields Stay Widely Available

While not mattering much to the individual consumer, exclusivity is a concern for stores since it limits places from which we can order product. For example, one reason it is hard to find the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game is that only one distributor in the US has the right to carry it, so if a store, any store wants to stock it in, the store has to open an account with that distributor. While good for the distributor since it brings more stores in as customers, it is not so good for the store since stores have to split up their available dollars among yet one more source of supply.

There are 5 major gaming distributors in the US and another half dozen or so smaller ones and all of them have some benefit, whether is is an exclusive, or quick delivery or better instock, that causes stores to order from them. The more product lines available from a distributor, the easier it is for a store to put in an order. That's why the email from Arcane Tinman, the producer of the popular Dragonshields card sleeves, is good news. The company was going exclusive with Alliance Distribution, meaning stores would have to have an account with them to get the sleeves. Now, distributors that currently carry them will be able to continue to do so, without opening another account:

Arcane Tinmen has decided to discontinue their business cooperation with Asmodée North America (ANA) in order to maintain a broader distribution network of their products in the United States market. The change will go into effect on August 1st 2017.

Arcane Tinmen will continue to have its products distributed through many main distributors in the US, including Southern Hobby, ACD, GTS and PHD. Arcane Tinmen is thankful for many years of fruitful and prosperous relations with Asmodée NA, and Fantasy Flight Games before that.

Asmodée NA recently announced that they would be going from five distributors to an exclusive partnership with Alliance Game Distributors.

Michael Stehr Lilhav, CEO of Arcane Tinmen, states;
"I recognize that this is a solid move for Asmodée and their business, but the future for Dragon Shield and other Arcane Tinmen accessories lies within the wider distribution network."
Michael Stehr Lilhav adds that Arcane Tinmen is thankful for the many years of partnership the company has had with Asmodée, and that he wishes both companies plenty of good fortune on each of their separate future paths.

Arcane Tinmen is known for their wide range of gaming accessories and high quality trading card game protection products. With the world renowned quality-brand Dragon Shield, Arcane Tinmen has been an important player in the gaming industry for decades.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Gencon Close to Selling Out

According to the below email from GenCon, the convention will have no onsite sales of badges and is close to selling out for the time in its history:

Thursday badges have now sold out and only a limited amount of Friday badges remain for Gen Con 50. This is your last chance to get into the historic show! Gen Con is approaching its first full-sell out, and interested attendees will not want to wait to secure their Friday badge. There will be no onsite sales of badges, so don't delay; order your badge at gencon.com

Monday, July 31, 2017

Media Surprised by Boardgames

Every so often I see a news story about the resurgence of boardgames, as if they had gone away somewhere. This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at reasons why people are still surprised boardgames get played.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tomb of Annihilation Miniatures

the D&D Miniatures Tomb of Annihilation set arrived yesterday and we have plenty of boxes and single figures.

Bring the heroes, villains, and monsters from the jungle of Chult, as well as the Tomb of the Nine Gods to life in this latest series of fantasy miniatures!
Collect all 44 figures from Tomb of Annihilation, the newest set of randomly sorted monsters and heroes in our exciting line of D&D miniatures, Icons of the Realms.
Adventurers have been sent to the jungle peninsula of Chult, where they must face all manner of dangers in order to find the lost city. Adventurers will need all the help they can get to get through the Tomb and the Dungeon’s evil architect – The Lich Acererak.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

WOTC Promo Change

WOTC just made a major change to their promotional program, rather the way in which we handle promotional items. Prior to this, certain promotional items such as the Buy a Box Card and Game Day playmats, had to be destroyed after a certain amount of time if they were not used for the promotion for which they were designed. Now, after the promotional period has ended, stores can use them to enhance play in whatever manner deemed suitable. Stores, of course, still cannot sell promo items, they must be given to players.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Stranger Things The RPG

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at a couple of RPGs that appear influenced by Netflix' Stranger Things.

Monday, July 17, 2017

How To Improve Friday Night Magic

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the one way WOTC could improve pre-releases and Friday night magic and no, it is not giving away more free stuff.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Of Comics and Collections

As you may or may not know, we sell comics as well as games and every so often, someone comes in, expresses an interest in a comic but then says "Well, I'll just wait for the graphic novel" which is the common term for a collection of issues of a mini series or a arc, typically six issues, of an ongoing series.

Prime examples of this are the ongoing books The Walking Dead  and Saga, both of which are extremely good and long running series. We used to sell 10-20 copies of each issue but now the numbers have dropped to 3 to 6. The reason is the regular collection of the story arcs, which have trained readers to wait for the trade collection, rather than picking up individual issues.

This is fine for strong series such as Walking Dead and Saga, which have a loyal fan base, but much harder for just starting series such as Curse Words and Hillbilly, which are extremely well written but may have a hard time attracting attention and generating those single issue sales needed to justify a collection.

With us, if we don't see issues of a series selling, it is hard to justify purchasing the trade collection as a lack of sales indicates not much interest in the book and, unlike mass merchants such as Wal-mart and B&N, once we buy a book, we cannot return it for credit. It stays on the shelves, just like our games, until it sells or we clearance it out. Needless to say, we work to minimize buying books that won't sell quickly.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Pair of Promotions

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at a couple of promotions from Steve Jackson Games and IELLO Game. The store will have the Go Up A Level card to give out at the next Munchkin day and will participate in the IELLO Games promotion for Mountains of Madness

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Halloween Comicfest

Although it is several months away, the comics have been announced for Halloween Comicfest, the Saturday before Halloween. We will have many of these available for you to get in late October.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Model Retailer Shuttering

Most customers will never have heard of Model Retailer magazine but it was a mainstay of the retail gaming industry for over 40 years.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bathrooms

We work pretty diligently to keep our bathrooms looking nice and well stocked. Why? Anyone in business will tell you that a businesses' bathrooms is key to the operation. If  a business had dirty bathrooms, it is a good bet that other parts of the operation are not run well either. Good bathrooms, good operation.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Geek Chic

This week's Rolling for Initiative column looks at the history of gaming furniture maker Geek Chic and possible reasons behind its recent closure.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Improving Free RPG Day

Scott's ICV2 column for this week looks at how to improve the annual giveaways for Free FPG Day

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ustable Magic

Those of you who have played Magic for years will remember the Unglued and Unhinged sets of humorous cards, that released in the early years of the game. The closest thing we have seen to those we have seen in recent years have been the annual Christmas promo cards sent out to stores that participate in Wizards's programs. Well, now Wizards has announced the drought of humorous sets has ended with the release of Unstable this December. No specific details have released regarding the set's cards have been released, except that they are silver bordered and will total about 216 cards.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Aettherworks Marvel Banned


WOTC announced today that Aetherworks Marvel is banned in Standard play. You can read the full column here but the gist is that, while the card is not fundamentally broken, and the prime deck running it, Temur Aetherworks, is not dominant in terms of wins, but in tournament play, 10% of the time its user has a Turn 4 win. Since the deck also factors into a large number of unbeatable draws, WOTC decided it needed to go.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Star Trek RPG

Modiphus has announced yet another Star Trek RPG, coming out later this summer:

Today StarTrek.com announced the launch of our pre-order for Star Trek Adventures
We're currently sharing solicitations with your usual distributors for the range of Star Trek products, expected to hit retail early September. The Borg Cube is expected to ship later in September, due to production pipelines. 

Demand for these is expected to exceptionally high, so please confirm orders as soon as possible (your distributor will advise dates). 








Heading the list is the Star Trek Adventures Core Rulebook a full colour hardback allowing you to create your own Star Trek stories of discovery and adventure on the final frontier. Featuring a complete 2d20 game system from Modiphius Entertainment, with an extensive exploration of the United Federation of Planets and its galactic neighbours in the Alpha, Beta and Gamma Quadrants.  Guidelines for Gamemasters old and new, on how to run an adventure and a full catalogue of aliens and antagonists including Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, the Borg and the Dominion.

The Star Trek Adventures Core Rulebook Collector's Edition, has all the features of the basic rulebook, but comes with an impressive special edition cover featuring the hull of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC 1701-D rendered by The Light Works, who provided the 3D model for the Star Trek: The Next Generation Remastered series, making it the most accurate model of the Enterprise D available. 

The Star Trek Adventures RPG Limited Edition Borg Cube has been called the "coolest box in the history of gaming" by Geek and Sundry and has everything you need to play Star Trek Adventures and then some. It contains a "1701-D" Collectible Edition Core Rulebook, with four sets of miniatures including the crew of the Original The Next Generation Crew, Klingon and the Romulan crews, a padded tray for all four sets of miniatures by KRMulticase, three dice sets by Q-Workshop, Heat & Momentum Tokens, a PDF Collection (also available to retail customers) and an exclusive miniature of Lore (with more to be added as distribution and direct orders grow), all collected in an ultra cool Borg Cube box marked with a uniquely numbered official Star Trek Adventures hologram. One side of cube pulls out to use as an exclusive oversize Borg Gamesmaster Screen. Consider yourself assimilated! 

SRP £395 / $495 (actual value of £530 / $680) NOTE This is a very short discount product due to high costs, please check with your distributor for pricing. PDF's will be distributed directly to customers - more info will be shared later as we are exploring the best route for this. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Asmodee and Alliance

This week's ICV2 column looks at possible effects of the recently announced deal between Asmodee NA and Alliance. For the consumer, it shouldn't have any effect. For other members of the channel, the effects could be more pronounced.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MAPP Part 2

This week's ICV2 column looks at the difficulty of enforcing a MAPP (Minimum Advertised Pricing Policy).

Why Shop Local?

Just how does shopping at your Friendly Local Games Store (or any other local retailer) help your local community? Three reasons ( I can think of more but these are the three that come to mind immediately):

1.        Jobs.  Roughly 15 million people, or about 5% of the entire US population works in some aspect of retailing. Granted, it is not a glamorous job or an especially well paid job, though the average retail worker makes just over $18 an hour, according to statistics from the federal government, works just over 30 hours a week and earns about $2160 per month, before taxes, or about $26000 per year.  Certainly not great and that level of pay is a major factor in the high employee turnover rate in retail as last time I checked it hit right at about 300%, meaning the average retailer has to fill a position 3 times a year. Still, retail does provide jobs in the community, jobs that go away if people opt to shop elsewhere. After all, most people first employment is in some form of retailing.

2.       Sales Taxes—States and cities  with a sales tax rely heavily rely on them to fund services for the residents of that city and state. Most online retailers still do not collect sales tax (technically the consumer is supposed to remit sales tax to the state and city, your annual tax forms usually have a place for you to pay the state any sales tax not collected by a retailer. Needless to say, most people do not fill in that blank. The State of Illinois made a concentrated effort to collect unpaid sales taxes through the income tax form several years back and barely recouped enough to cover the expense of collecting it). Sales (and property) taxes help fund the services your city and state governments provide such as police, fire, street and sewers, services for the poor and homeless, etc. Fewer taxes mean fewer services provided.


3.       Your Money Stays Local—Shopping at a locally owned store means the money stays in the community, helping to generate those jobs I mentioned above and allowing other businesses to use those dollars to expand and enhance their offerings.  Making a purchase at a locally owned store puts approximately 70% of that money back into the community. Even making a purchase at a chain store puts about 45% of your expenditure back into your city. Buying online puts nothing back into your city.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Minimum Advertised Pricing

When you get a group of game retailers together, sooner or later the topic of MAP (minimum advertised pricing) and its enforcement, or lack thereof, will come up. For those not familiar with the term, Minimum Advertised Pricing is the term for a policy put in place by many, but not all, manufacturers stating that, in exchange for the manufacturer allowing the retailer to be an official reseller of the product, with any benefits and access to product that may entail, the retailer agrees to not advertise a discount of more than a certain amount on those products specified by the manufacturer. For example, both Mayfair Games and Games Workshop have MAP policies in place. If a store wants to have access to their products, either directly from the company or through approved distributors, the store must agree to become an authorized reseller and abide by company policies, one of which is a MAP of 20% for both companies. What this means, and it is much more important online than at a brick and mortar store since online retailers compete much more heavily on price, is that an authorized reseller of Mayfair Games or Games Workshop products cannot advertise their products for more than a 20% discount, i.e. an approved store selling Games Workshop products could not advertise a $50 boxed set for less than $40 or risk losing the ability to order products directly from Games Workshop at a larger discount than they get if buying GW product from other sources.

This is why MAP is often a sore point with many retailers since they see online retailers, especially, selling ostensibly MAP protected products at a greater discount than the MAP allows, apparently with no repercussions.  Someone will spot an online retailer selling a  MAP protected boardgame for less than the MAP, violating the policy, report it to the manufacturer and, as far as they can tell, see nothing happen. That is why this article in the May issue of Internet Retailer caught my eye ( I read Internet Retailer regularly, you can too and it is free at www.internetretailer.com).
Why do manufacturers even care about for how much stores sell their products? Price is part of the brand image.  Consider Nike. Nike routinely launches new shoes a prices between $100 to $200. If you have stores regularly selling a $100 shoe for $50, it becomes hard to convince consumers the shoe is worth over $100. Similarly, if a publisher prices a boardgame at $80 but has online stores selling it for $60, the customer starts seeing it as worth only $60, a 25% discount off the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) and will expect similar releases priced at 25% off. Manufacturers need to make a profit too and aggressive discounting drives down the perceived value of their products.

An MAP can be tricky for a manufacturer to establish as If not written properly, it could be construed as restraint of trade and vertical price fixing, both of which are illegal in the US. If you get time, read over the Internet Retailer article I linked above and, in the future,I will discuss why MAP can be so hard to enforce.

Monday, May 22, 2017

MAP

This week's ICV2 column looks at the concept of Minimum Advertised Pricing

Friday, May 19, 2017

First Mover Advantage

Generally the first product to enter a market does better than competing products entering the market, even if the subsequent products are superior to the original one. This is what is called "first mover advantage" and can be seen in dominance of Dungeons and Dragons in the RPG field, despite far superior systems that have come out since the game's original release.

However, first mover advantage is not enough, as the story of Hydrox shows. A bad name will harm product image and allow followers into the market to displace the original product. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Making Memories

Good column by Ken Blanchard on making memories in a store. We were very pleased (and a bit overwhelmed) by the number of people who stopped into the store this past weekend during SIUC's graduation and talked about their times here at the store, even remembering the time when we were, for so many years, on the second floor of the Island. Thank you for coming in and reminding us why we do this. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Future of Retailing and Sales People

This week's ICV2 Column looks at the decline in retail sales people and the growth of retailtainment.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Origins' Awards Nominees

Yesterday, GAMA announced the 2017 Origins Awards' nominations:

he Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design (AAGAD) released the list of games nominated for 2017 Origins Awards. The Awards will be presented during the annual Orgins Awards Ceremony, held on Saturday, June 17.
This year the AAGAD will award honors in seven categories, which will be voted on by the members of the AAGAD. There will also be a “Fan Favorite” category, which will be voted on by attendees at the Origins Game Fair.
Best Board Game
·         Blood Rage by (designed by Eric M. Lang)
·         Clank! by Renegade Games (designed by Paul Dennen)
·         Cry Havoc by Portal Games (designed by Grant Rodiek, Michael Oracz, Michael Walczak)
·         Feast for Odin by Z Man Games/Asmodee (designed by Uwe Rosenberg)
·         Islebound by Red Raven Games (designed by Ryan Laukat)
·         Mansions of Madness by Fantasy Flight/Asmodee (designed by Christopher Burdett, Anders Finér, Henning Ludvigsen)
·         Scythe by Styonemaier Games (designed by Jamey Stegmaier)
·         Star Wars Rebellion by Fantasy Flight (designed by Corey Konieczka)
·         Terraforming Mars by (designed by Jacob Fryxelius)
·         World’s Fair 1893 by Renegade Game Studios and Foxtrot Games (designed by J. Alex Kevern)
Best Traditional Card Game
·         Dream Home by Asmodee (designed by Klemens Kalicki)
·         Fabled Fruit by Stronghold Games (designed by Friedemann Friese)
·         Kanagawa by IELLO (designed by Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevalier)
·         Koddama: The Tree Spirits by Action Phase Games (designed by Daniel Solis)
·         Lotus by Renegade Games (designed by Jordan and Mandy Goddard)
·         Mystic Vale by AEG (designed by John D. Clair)
·         Oh My Goods by Mayfair Games (designed by Alexander Pfister)
·         Ravensburger (designed by John D. Clair)
Best Collectible Games
·         Yu-Gi-Oh Breaker of Shadow Booster by Konami (designed by Konami Digital Entertainment)
·         Pokemon XY11 Steam Siege Booster by Pokemon USA (designed by The Pokemon Company)
·         Magic the Gathering: Kaladesh Booster Pack by Wizards of the Coast
·         Marvel HeroClix: Uncanny X-Men Booster Brick by WizKids (designed by WizKids)
·         Cardfight Vanguard Fighters Collection by Bushiroad
Best Role-Playing Game
·         7th Sea: Second Edition by John Wick Presents (designed by John Wick, Mike Curry, Rob Justice, Mark Diaz Truman, Jesse Heinig)
·         Curse of Strahd by Wizards of the Coast-D&D (designed by Jeremy Crawford, Tracy Hickman, Laura Hickman, Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins, and Richard Whitters)
·         No Thank You, Evil! by Monte Cook Games (designed by Monte Cook and Shanna Germain)
·         Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Fantasy Flight (designed by Tim Flanders, Corey Konieczka, and Sam Stewart)
·         Shadowrun-Seattle Sprawl by Catalyst Game Labs (designed by Raymond Croteau, Jason Hardy, James Meiers, O.C. Presley, Scott Schletz, R.J. Thomas, Malik Toms, Thomas Willoughby, CZ Wright, and Russell Zimmerman)
·         Symbaroum by Modiphius Entertainment
·         Storm King's Thunder by Wizards of the Coast-D&D (designed by Jenna Helland, Adam Lee, Mike Mearls, Christopher Perkins, and Richard Whitters)
·         Star Wars: Edge of the Empire-Special by Fantasy Flight (designed by Blake Bennett, Tim Cox, Jordan Goldfarb, Sterling Hershey and Monte Lin)
·         The One Ring: Horse: Lords of Rohan by Cubicle 7 (designed by Shane Ivey, Andrew Kenrick, T.S. Luikart, Francesco Nepitello, and James Spahn)
·         Volo's Guide to Monsters by Wizards of the Coast-D&D (designed by Jeremy Crawford, Ed Greenwood, Adam Lee, Mike Mearls, Kim Mohan, Christopher Perkins, Sean K. Reynolds, Matthew Sernett, Chris Sims, and Steve Winter)
Best Family Game
·         Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-building Game by Cryptozoic Entertainment (designed by Matt Hyra)
·         Garbage Day by Mayday Games (designed by Shane Willis)
·         Happy Salmon by North Star Games (designed by Ken Gruhl and Quentin Weir)
·         Junk Art by Pretzel Games (designed by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lin)
·         Karuba by HABA (designed by Rdiger Dorn)
·         Speechless by Arcane Wonders (designed by Mike Elliott)
Best Miniatures Game
·         Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team by Games Workshop
·         Konflikt '47 by Warlord Games (designed by Clockwork Goblin Miniatures)
·         Dragon Rampant by Battlefront/Gale Force Nine
·         TANKS by Battlefront/Gale Force Nine (designed by Andrew Haught, Chris Townley, Phil Yates)
·         Dropfleet Commander by Hawk Wargames (designed by Andy Chambers and David Lewis)
Best Game Accessory
·         Blood Rage Organizer by The Broken Token (designed by Greg Spence)
·         Dungeon Morph Dice Adventurer Set by Dwarven Forge (designed by Joe Wetzel, Dyson Logos, Matt Jackson, Shane Knysh, Tim Ballew, Dave Millar, Sigurd Johansson, AJ Stone)
·         Flip 'N Tray Mat Case by Ultimate Guard (designed by Adrian Alonso)
·         Improved D-Total by Gamescience (designed by Dr. A.F. Simkin, Col. Louis Zocchi, Frank Dutrait)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Web Pricing

I have talked about web pricing and value before. This copy of Stratego illustrates exactly what I mean. This fantasy themed version of the game came out in 2008 and went out of print soon after. A Google search shows the game priced anywhere from $10.99 to $299.99 The only time a price you find on the web should be taken seriously is if you find a consensus of pricing on the item. If you find several people listing your copy of Stratego for $300 then you might be safe in pricing it that, but if an equal number price it closer to $30, then, if you want to sell it, setting your price closer  to that point is a much better decision.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Board Game Geek Ratings

Unfortunately, chaps like this are a problem with rating systems, not only in the gaming industry but with all consumer rating systems. He rates just over 100 games a 10 and 7242 games a rating of 1. If you believe that his ratings are at all accurate, he would have to have played a different game or expansion every day for almost 10 years. Somehow, I just don't see that happening.

 If you are considering purchasing a game and using online ratings to help you decide, be sure to look at those doing the ratings as well.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Richard Tucholka Eulogy

Noted game designer Richard Tucholka, designer of The Morrow Project, Fringeworthy, Stalking the Night Fantastic and others, has passed away. Eulogy reprinted with permission:
Donald Jones of Thunderhead Gaming has written a tribute to him that I think covers everything pretty darn well, and which is reproduced here with permission.
-----
It is with broken hearts that we at Thunderhead Gaming must say goodbye to a lifelong and dear friend, game designer and creator of dreams, Richard Tucholka.

In 1980, when we opened one of the first commercial gaming centers in the country, it was an experiment that we weren’t sure would succeed. A few months into this experiment, a significantly large group of people walked in for some gaming.

After our jaws were done dropping and we finished hearing cash registers in our heads, we were introduced to the ringleader-apparent, Richard Tucholka (whom we were told we could call “Krot”). A friendship that would span decades began. We had been strong advocates of role-playing games before then, but Richard and the people with him went on to teach us what eventually helped Thunderhead Gaming Center prosper. It was community. When Richard gathered with people to game, it was never about the game, it was always about the people. You never met him, you met him and dozens of other people who would become friends for life. As literally hundreds will attest, even if there were a dozen or more people at the table, he could always make it seem like you were a crucial member. In a community in which many people had been on the social fringes, often facing rejection and isolation (nerds, 1980s, before Big Bang Theory), Richard could make you feel like you not only belonged, but you were a vital part of the people around him. His ability to be ornery was well-known, but it never mattered. For every gruff comment, there were a hundred smiles and laughs.

One of the other things we at Thunderhead gained from Richard was the spark of wanting to create. We had made our own adventures and played around with house rules before we met him, but we saw from him just how much of an art form games can be. Teaming with Bob Sadler and Kevin Dockery, Richard was one of the original co-creators of the Morrow Project. When he first came to Thunderhead, it was to begin play testing a new game he was working on called Fringeworthy, which would be published in 1982. This was a game about secret military teams that were assigned to travel through inter-dimensional portals left behind by advanced aliens, to explore far off planets and alternate earths, with adversarial aliens that could assume the identity of others. Sound familiar? We’ll get to that.
That same year, he also published FTL 2448, a game set in space, but without the space opera feel that was so common back then. Richard followed Fringeworthy and FTL 2448 with Stalking the Night Fantastic in 1983, later to be known as Bureau 13, a game of supernatural investigation by a secret government agency. In 1991, Bureau 13 won the Gamers Choice Award at Gencon. This was one of the earliest supernatural horror role-playing games, only predated by Call of Cthulhu from Chaosium. Rogue 417, his second post-apocalyptic game, began a string of creative endeavors that continued until the day he made his last trip to the hospital more than 30 years later.

Through Richard’s eyes, the world we live in was a place of constant amazement. It wasn’t uncommon to see him staring at something ordinary, completely fixated, only to have him make the most unexpected observations about it. Unlike the vast majority of us, Richard never lost the child’s ability to look at everything as if it were brand new and waiting to be discovered. Some artists use pigments to create paintings to stir the imaginations and emotions of people. Others may use stone or clay to create sculptures. Richard Tucholka’s art was to create amazing worlds of wonder and devise the rules and means for the rest of us to join him there. His worlds sparked the imagination and stirred the soul. More importantly, though, everyone always felt as if they belonged there. In Richard’s worlds, there were no outcasts.

It is often said that facts describe reality, but that may not always be the case. It is a fact that Richard Tucholka was an only child who never had children of his own. In the truest sense, however, he was a beloved father and big brother to hundreds. It is a fact that, apart from his widow, Melody Natcher, Richard had no living family. The reality is that, through the impact he has had on people’s lives, Richard’s family numbers in the thousands and, arguably, unknown millions. Richard traveled the United States and Canada introducing thousands of people to his games and the worlds he had created. There is reason to say that one of those people was Dean Devlin, one of the creators of Stargate. Stargate was a movie and television series about secret military teams that were assigned to travel through inter-dimensional portals left behind by advanced aliens, to explore far off planets and alternate earths, with adversarial aliens that could assume the identity of others. Yeah, that’s why it sounds so familiar. Though uncredited and most certainly uncompensated, we at Thunderhead are prepared to say that Richard touched the lives of unknowing millions of people through the Stargate franchise that “was inspired by” his intellectual property.

The phrase “larger than life” truly applies to Richard Tucholka and it is nearly impossible to wrap our minds around the idea that he is gone. When we restarted Thunderhead with a focus on publishing games, he was one of our earliest and strongest supporters. He has been our constant companion and cohort at conventions for the last two years, sometimes sharing dealer tables, as well as innumerable laughs and amazing memories. We already know that the next convention will feel like scabs being pulled off from sore wounds, because we will look at the table next to us and the Krot won’t be there. No matter what, it just won’t feel right.

There really isn’t much we can do to honor Richard’s memories. There isn’t anything we can say to add to his legacy that the masses of people he has touched doesn’t better express. There is one small gesture we can make, though. Richard enthusiastically endorsed our game, Netherstorm. When he played it with our group, he smiled and laughed with abandon. Those who have seen the book know there is a race of anthromorphized animals called the Wilderfolk and one of the illustrations in the book is an anthromorphized squirrel, which we named Iora Barkskipper. Richard loved the squirrel illustration, created the squirrel ranger as his first character and spoke about the squirrel almost every time he mentioned Netherstorm. When he played the character, there were a couple times he actually giggled. Iora Barkskipper has been our unofficial mascot and appeared on signs, flyers and other Netherstorm material, often with the slogan “Do you have the nuts for it.” This was also a source of amusement for Richard. Today, we retire the squirrel. Iora Barkskipper doesn’t belong to Thunderhead, it belongs to Richard. Yeah, it sounds stupid and a lot of people won’t get it. But Richard would almost be in tears laughing about his character being retired and to us, that’s all that matters.

Everyone has a different idea of what there is after death. We are a game company, not philosophers and clergy, so we don’t feel it is our place to lecture or teach. However, as an allegory or metaphor, we can picture Richard standing in front of a Fringe portal (suspiciously identical to a Stargate portal from 12 years later), looking back, smiling, then walking through to explore the final Fringe path. Along the way, he’ll probably pick up Bill “Photomat” Welsh, Stuart Robertson, Terry Williams and Michael “Ox” Klemish. It’s just a picture. It probably isn’t accurate and it may not fit anyone’s idea of what happens after death, but it makes us smile. That’s good enough.

Bye, Krot.