For example ~
Tom Vasel did an email interview with me about a year and a half ago for his 'Interview with an Optimist" series on www.boardgamegeek.com and we went right into the whole online discounter versus local store mud pit. What I suggested to Tom was that online retailing of board games at steep discounts is a temporary thing. Given what I know about wholesale discounts and with the ever-increasing cost of doing business, it's not likely that deep-discounting will remain in place for much longer. I personally think it's an unhealthy business to be in.
Lo and behold, what occurs but Thoughthammer - the poster child for board game cheapskates - has raised it's free shipping minimum and Fairplay has as well. Gee. Too bad. Now the confirmed skinflint gamer will have to leave his online basket incomplete for several more weeks as he builds an order that can all ship at once so he's guaranteed an extra $10 or so in savings.
What's going to happen when you only get free shipping with $200 or $300 orders? Will penny-pinching gamers start building their shipping lists months or years in advance so they can still save that extra $10 or $15 dollars? I can imagine the conversation now:
"Hey Bob, did you pre-order that new Euro Game Through the Dry and Luckless Desert coming out from Alea?"
"I sure did Fred, but it'll be the end of 2007 before my order ships."
"Yeah, well I want to save on shipping and since ThoughtlessHammer has the best deal, free shipping on orders totalling $350 I have to wait for a few games to be published before I get my copy of TTDALD."
"Er, Bob, TTDALD has been out now for 2 months, maybe you could pick it up locally and actually play the game."
"You gotta be kidding Fred! I'd never pay retail!!!"
"Bob. The game only costs $35 retail and Nerdsters Games, Gadgets, Goodies & Geek Gear down by the mall always gives 10% off."
"Not a prayer Fred. No way am I going to pay that guy's rent. I don't owe him squat just because he owns a store. Besides which, there are people who shop there who fail miserably at meeting my incredibly high standards for human contact. Some of them are stinky and others don't look like me or think like me so I won't lower myself to comingle with peons."
"Yeah, right Bob. Well, what's on your order with ThoughtlessHammer that's holding it up?"
"Settlers of Caylus, Princes of Foppery, the expansion to the Analytical Attenuation series of abstracts and the Settlers of Caylus: Shrimps & Coral Reef expansion."
"Er, Bob, none of those games are even released yet. In fact, Settlers of Caylus was just announced and the company that produced the Analytical Attenuation series just went bankrupt."
"I don't mind waiting."
"Wouldn't you rather just go buy a new game to tide you over until 2008?"
"What? And pay retail? I'd sooner quit gaming altogether."
If you think I'm exaggerating, then pop over to BGG and read some of the threads about what extent some people will go to in order to save $5.
I've been doing my best to play some of the popular Euro-Snoot games and I managed to play both Modern Art and Princes of Florence. Then I posted my thoughts on BGG and sprouted a 3 page debate, spiced with political overtones and national taunting. None of which was my fault I assure you. I innocently made an unobtrusive comment and the Euro-Snoot Jackals came unpinned.
I'm still trying to get my mind wrapped around the type of gamer who can rate games like Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence higher than games that are actually fun to play...with other people.
I'm not suggesting that Puerto Rico or Princes aren't good games, they are. Or they're not enjoyable, they can be. But they aren't fun... I mean fun in the sense that they don't create a feeling or sense of mutually shared gaming experience with your fellow buddies around the table. They're games where you pick a strategy from the two or three that will almost always work, then plod along reacting to the choices others make and trying to keep your pre-programmed strategy on track. Then the game ends, points are totaled and everybody says, "Let's play a filler!!" Which lights up smiles as For Sale or Bang! or some other light and interactive game with randomness and back-stabbing and lots of oohs and ahhs and thrills and taunts and...well, fun.
I certainly hope Caylus offers something more than that because I want to like Euros more than I do. Well, I already like El Grande, but it's pretty interactive and there is lots of opportunity for screwage and bubble-busting.
I've owned this game for at least a year, maybe even two years. Four of us sat down and played it Saturday evening and it was a gas. Essentially it's a race game, where you're struggling to find the best oil deposits and also attempting to control the three markets to build your cash. I like the game a lot because it has some nicely balanced cards wherein one benfit, say a high movement allowance, is balanced by perhaps a fewer number of licenses to sell oil, which severly effects whether you can take advantage of the fluctuating market.
Giganten also was produced in the classic Euro-Snoot format; beautiful board, high quality cards, cool looking oil derricks and trucks and colorful rules for the german-speaking amongst you. I'm going to rate this one an "8" on BGG and then re-rate after a couple more plays. If it holds up then I think it'll be a "9" for me. I like games with chance, with pressure, with money and with manipulation. Giganten has all that and more. Too bad it's out of print. Go get a copy if you want to have fun in the "fun" sense.
Fast Forward to 2008
"Hey Bob, did your ThoughtlessHammer order arrive in time for your family getogether at Christmas?"
"Uh oh. What's up?"
"Those SOB's. They finally shipped but when it arrived, two days after the family went back to Peoria, my copy of Through the Dry and Luckless Desert was dinged and it was missing 3 of the 3200 wood meeples and cubes. Not to mention, since I had to substitute half of my order for other games, I ended up with two Monopoly clones, a SuperMarvelHeroScape expansion that I saw later for less at Walmart and they back-ordered the Shrimps & Coral Reef expansion because FairForUS Games got an exclusive on that expansion and it might only be generally available for a month next year."
"Well, if you really want it why not go buy a copy at FairForUs Games?"
"Fred... how dumb are you? FairForUs doesn't have a free shipping program and they only offer 20% off. I'd never stoop so low as to pay that much money for a game."
"Well, you don't have to tell anyone. After all, it's not really their business and the game is hot, I've been playing it for 6 weeks now."
"Bob? Are you okay?"
"Are you breathing man? You're turning blue!"
"Ggggaaacckkkk....why... buy.....game.....if ..... not ..... tell other...lessers...how smart... and .... gggaaacckkk...thrifty.... I am."
Okay, okay. Maybe I'm still overdoing it a bit. But it really can get almost this bad.
So here's DW's advice:
Buy Game Now.
Play Game tonight.
Do not invite Bob.