Thursday, June 12, 2008

I ordered these?

In the past, I have made it clear that I prefer buying board games online. There are very few FLGS's where I live - they've all pretty much shut down. Although I would still probably never walk into a FLGS and lay down the cash for a board game, I have recently been required to confront the downside of ordering online.

I was organizing a game order for my group, as I tend to do every couple of months. Over a period of several weeks, people slowly decided what they wanted and sent me their requests. Once we qualified for Boards & Bits' half-price shipping, I placed the order. (Yes, I am still willing to buy at Boards & Bits, even though they scrapped their free shipping policy. Their prices are that good. Although I do suspect that going through Fair Play Games and using their price matching policy might be even cheaper.)

This time around, I ordered the expansion for Treasures & Traps - a game that has seen a reasonable amount of play in my group. But I also ordered two other games and one more expansion. Perhaps you've heard of them. One of the games is called Race for the Galaxy. And since the expansion is soon to be released, I ordered that too. The other game is called Pandemic.

If you've been interacting and perusing on BGG like I think you have, you've heard of these games - a lot. After plenty of research, I finally decided to grab these two games. Race for the Galaxy holds high interest for me because it is like San Juan, but with a space theme and some additional features. San Juan is one my favorite games, so Race for the Galaxy is sure to please. Many gamers have debated the multiplayer solitaire aspect of this game. My wife and I both like these types of games, so that's another reason Race for the Galaxy should prove to be a good purchase.

I have been looking for a cooperative game for a long time. There are very few co-op games out there, and those few are too long or have too limited a player range. Suddenly, this year, Pandemic came crashing onto the scene, proving itself to be well-liked, while solving the issues I had with other co-op games. Co-op games sound very fun to me, so I'm eager to try Pandemic.

But, if you have been following the news regarding these two games, you will know that, due to great popularity, they are both currently out of stock at every common online game store. During the weeks that I was building up the shopping cart for our group game order, I watched and watched. The games I wanted were in a constant state of "Pre-Order". I finally decided to go ahead and pre-order the games because I wanted to make sure to get a copy from the next batch. At the time, the games were estimated to arrive at the end of May or in June. "Sure, I can wait that long," I thought.

Unless you're a dedicated fan of FLGS's, you probably know what it's like for a gamer who is waiting with eager anticipation for his new treasures to show up at his doorstep. It's like the kid who can't sleep on Christmas eve. (I actually knew a kid who once barfed on Christmas eve because he was so excited.) It's like the day of your wedding - those hours leading up to your bride walking in the door and down the aisle. It's like waiting for that child to be born during the final hours of a long labor. You know the impending good will inevitably arrive, but the wait feels like an eternity.

Well, May flew by like an empty UPS truck. Pretty soon, "the Checkups" kick in. You know how it goes - my expectations weren't met, so now I'm online every day, checking up, scouring relevant gaming sites for updates, any information that might explain how much longer this wait will be. I visit Boards & Bits - Status: (3 on order). So I go to to see if they've received any new special information from Jay at Rio Grande Games. No news.

BGG, as usual, had the best information I could find. Crazed and rabid Pandemic buyers are posting every few days, wondering when the game will hit stores again. Zev himself posted (for which all were grateful), explaining that the new printing of Pandemic was stuck at customs. Whew - at least we knew where the game boxes were. At least we could sit and imagine the games sitting there, ready for examination. The games were physically existent - it was only a matter of time. But, Zev also informed us that the current run of Pandemic was already spoken for and pre-orders were eating up the supply. He had already ordered a third printing of the game. Boards & Bits reported that there would not be enough copies of Pandemic to fill all pre-orders. I cringed.

Then one day, I checked Boards & Bits again, as was my habit, and to my astonishment, my (3 on order) had been changed to (2 on order). I had made the cut. A copy of Pandemic was officially mine, stashed safely in my box of goodies at the Boards & Bits warehouse. I reported this pleasant news to my wife, then went back to wondering when the Race for the Galaxy games would show up.

As of now I'm still waiting. There is no hint of news anywhere. The estimated date of arrival moved from May to June, and now to July. What is going to keep it from moving back to August and beyond?

Here's how I picture the scene at Rio Grande Games headquarters. It's April 2008 and Jay is meeting in his office with his team. "Okay team," he says, "as you all know, Race for the Galaxy has pretty much sold out everywhere. I have another printing planned for October."

One bright team member says, "People on boardgamegeek are rabid, Jay. They want updates. They want to know when Race for the Galaxy will be back in stock at retailers."

"Log on under my account and tell them we're aiming for May," Jay replies.

"Um.........May? But you just said--"

"I know what I said, Gary. But we need to keep these people on the edge of their seat. Tell them the expansion is planned for June. Each month will go by, and we'll just keep quiet. Then they'll celebrate when October comes and the game is back on the shelf."

"How are we going to explain this? Those geeks are pretty bright, Jay. They might lose confidence in our predictions."

"Just tell them that we had to stall for the sake of 'perfecting the product'. Make up some junk about our attentiveness to high quality artwork and top-notch components. Maybe throw in something about polishing up the rules."

"Hmm. Okay," says the assistant. "I guess that might work."

Do I believe any of that? Nah. I think Jay Tummelson is great. The reality is, he does make the best games out there, and I trust him. He's responsive to inquiries and he participates in the gaming community. But imagining scenes like this are just one way to pass the time while I wait for my games to ship.

To look at the bright side, I might just find myself pleasantly surprised come October, when the doorbell rings and I discover a big box of games on my doorstep.

My wife: "This box is full of games."

Me: "Games? Did I order these?"

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