Avalon Hill Swallowed
Date: Friday, 07-Aug-98 11:56 AM
From: Don Greenwood \ Internet: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: AVALONCON WRAPUP
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ... enthusiasm was high for the 8th Annual Avaloncon. The faithful were gathering from all across the globe. Attendance was at an alltime high. Imaginative and descriptive team t-shirts were making an appearance as the roots of eight years of Team Tournament comradery took hold. Pre-reg and GM organization was made easier by Email and webpages, part of the wondrous new technology which was slowly strangling Avalon Hill. My personal quest for wood came to exhausting fruition with a 2 AM victory in the 6th round of the BKN finals. But the victory, exhilarating as it was, rang hollow. I knew what lay ahead...
On Tuesday, August 4th, the remaining AH staff was assembled and informed that the company had been sold to Hasbro and that our services were no longer needed. While they cleaned out their desks, I stayed to the end of the week to assemble this final report on the 8th Avaloncon, because the sense of hobby I had hoped to elicit with AVALONCON does not end with the final dice roll. More important is the sense of community and comradery that AVALONCON generates among the faithful. To that end, I thought you would appreciate this final summary.
It would appear that the GENERAL will no longer be published - at least not by Monarch. I am not privy to the details of the sale so I cannot shed much light on what will happen. The following is little more than conjecture and an educated guess. For accuracy, you'll have to await official statements from Hasbro and/or Monarch. Resolution of issues of compensation liability for subscriptions have not been made known to me, but rumor has it that subscribers will be receiving a letter offering them a like credit for game merchandise or refund in lieu of their remaining subscription credit.
It is my understanding that Monarch will continue to sell existing inventory through the end of September. I have been assurred they will honor the awards certificates and therein lies my desire to finish out the week and get the proper paper to the winners. As usual, over a hundred certificates were left unclaimed and I am mailing them today. Two events (ASL and Panzer Leader) have still to post their Winners lists to me and therefore will not be mailed. Inquiries about these two events should be forwarded to Phyllis Opolko at POpolko@AOL.com. She has promised to mail out the certificates to the winners when the results have been forwarded to her by the GMs.
I would urge all recipients to cash in their awards certificates asap. Earlier promises to honor those certificates for future AVALONCONs cannot be honored since there may be no future AVALONCON and even if there is, it will be under different ownership. Cash in your Awards certificates now.
Orders for plaques cannot be fulfilled. I have requested refunds be sent to all involved.
This year's No Shows will be mailed any souvenirs they had pre-ordered. However, as stated in advance, pre-reg fees are non-refundable.
I want to thank the hundreds of well wishers who have called or emailed their expressions of support and thanks. It has been my pleasure to serve you in some small way for the past 26+ years, and AVALONCON week has indeed been the highlight of my year for the decade of the 90s. If we have seen the last of it, I sincerely thank you for supporting an all-volunteer championships convention and making it possible. It was great fun, albeit exhausting.
The number of people who have come forward pledging support, financial and otherwise, to continue the convention has encouraged me to make inquiries about the possibility of continuing the convention under private sponsorship. If Hasbro has no objections, we will probably explore that possibility and be in touch with you again.
Anyone having information regarding this year's events to be used in press coverage are urged to email it to Bruce Monnin for use in THE BOARDGAMER. Bruce can be reached at: MonninB@Bright.net or mailed at 177 S. Lincoln St, Minster, OH 45865.
If you object to receiving mailings of this type, please reply with a "remove" subject and I will not send you further AVALONCON updates. On the other hand, if you wish to continue to receive information as it becomes available, please inform me of any address changes - email or snail mail - as they occur.
For the time being I can be reached at Donavalon@AOL.Com. Snail mail: 1541 Redfield Rd., Bel Air, MD 21015 410-893-0380.
And so ends another AVALONCON. If it was truly the last one, I want to extend one last thank you to all of you who made it possible - especially the GMs and those who made the pilgrimage every year from great distances. I won't mention any names ... you know who you are.
If you are interested in my dedicated gaming weekends mini-conventions in which we play one game for three days for plaque prizes, drop me a line. We had 31 people for three rounds of Age of Renaissance last spring and all vowed to return for another next year. I hope to do Breakout Normandy in November and UP FRONT in February. We stay at the Hampton Inn just a mile down the street from the HVI. The rates are cheaper and the breakfast is free. Come join us. If you liked the focus of AVALONCON you might like these mini-cons even better since there are no distractions at all ... you keep playing the same game all weekend long - even when you lose ... there is no lure to rush off to another event.
If everything falls into place and we can keep AVALONCON going, I look forward to seeing you again next year. If not, thanks. Its been great fun.
Date: Thursday, 20-Aug-98 03:27 PM
Don Greenwood's Email address has changed to email@example.com. Please make a note of it your address book.
If you would like to receive information on the next Avaloncon or any of the three mini-weekend conferences being planned for Breakout Normandy, Up Front, and Age of Renaissance in November, January and March in the Hunt Valley, MD area, please advise me of any changes to your Email and/or snail mail addresses.
If you do not want to receive such mail in the future, please respond with a "Remove" subject to be purged from my mailing lists. Thank you.
From: STEPHEN D KOEHLER [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Can you give any indication (press release, whatever) about what you plan to do with Avalon Hill's product line? Also, Avalon Hill rana great tournament/event called AvalonCon every year in Baltimore. Do you plan to continue that?
From: Consumer Affairs <email@example.com>
Thank you for contacting us. Hasbro has entered into an agreement with Avalon Hill to purchase their game division, which includes Avalon Hill Game Co., Avalon Hill software and Victory Games. The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter and there are plans to continue the board game line. We have no further information at this time.
A competitor dwarfing the entire existing market is preparing to enter hobby gaming in 1999.
Hasbro Inc. -- which parlays mainstream brands such as Monopoly and G.I. Joe into global revenues exceeding $3 billion -- finalized its $6 million purchase of Avalon Hill's intellectual properties, trademarks and inventories on Oct. 27. (1998) The game goliath intends to support the former Avalon Hill titles in both paper and computer formats.
Hasbro will be specifically targeting the hobby-gaming market that it has previously ignored. "It's more than testing the waters," said Hasbro spokeswoman Gale Steiner, "but it's not like they're going in gangbusters.
"I think it is an initiative that has potential. You have to look at the hobby-games market. If you look at that alone, it's about a $850 million industry . . . that represents a new business opportunity for the Hasbro boardgames group," Steiner said. "I think they're looking at a strategy in 1999 that would allow them to go into this new segment."
While conceding that the market isn't big enough to be a top priority for Hasbro, "I think the acquisition of Avalon Hill should ring as a real positive for true gamers," Steiner said. "We're going to pump new life into properties that have been around for a long time, but really haven't seen a lot of energy. We're going to put that energy behind them. I think that's great news for Avalon Hill fans."
The purchase from Avalon Hill-parent Monarch Avalon included 100 to 200 titles, many of them unpublished, Steiner said. Hasbro Games Group -- its boardgame unit -- and Hasbro Interactive -- the electronic-game unit -- are working in tandem to evaluate the acquisitions.
Leading properties include Advanced Squad Leader, Runequest and Diplomacy. "You go back through and you look at which ones have the greatest value," Steiner said. "You develop the ones who have the greatest value first, but then you continue to look at the other intellectual properties . . . There's all kinds of things that can be considered an intellectual property. It takes time to go through those and see what's usable."
Diplomacy is one of the front-runners to be developed, she said. "It's a great multiplayer game; it's a classic; it has a terrific play pattern."
Hasbro intends to develop print and computer versions of a title in tandem. The computer versions -- primarily PC and potentially console in format -- would be distributed through Hasbro's established channels. The board and print products would take advantage of some existing crossover between Avalon Hill's extinct distribution and Hasbro's existing network, then likely improve upon that, Steiner said. As for mainstream marketing of titles such as Runequest, "I don't think we'd be going out to Wal-Mart."
Hasbro has hired two former Avalon Hill employees to aid its internal development teams. Bill Levay will be a producer and Don Greenwood is consulting with both Hasbro units, Steiner said.
Hasbro executives have met with Philadelphia Phillies pitcher and ASL creative force Curt Schilling "to really understand what his role has been with the Advanced Squad Leader property," Steiner said. The discussions did not include any potential sale of the ASL line nor are any of the lines for sale, she said.
Hasbro entered the computer-game market three years ago, Steiner said. It now ranks among the top five publishers.
Hasbro Plans Diplomatic Debut
Games giant Hasbro will revive the Avalon Hill brand as it enters the hobby-gaming market, a Hasbro executive said Nov. 17.
"We believe we need to keep the Avalon Hill name. We definitely want to keep that as part of the whole mix," said Hasbro Senior Brand Manager Phil Jamison. Jamison said early, tentative plans include a third-quarter 1999 reissue of DIPLOMACY, continued support of ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER via new modules, reissue of out-of-print Avalon Hill titles and the debut of several titles under development when Monarch Avalon sold the assets. The executive directly addressed Internet gossip that Hasbro simply intends to strip-mine the Avalon Hill properties for computer titles. "I know there's been some misinformation," Jamison said. "But that's not true. "Hasbro is not out there to go and destroy what were some phenomenal strategy games." Hasbro's own strategy includes growing, not just reviving, the name that ranks among the oldest in hobby gaming. "At this time we want to develop Avalon Hill . . . to be the leader of strategy games," Jamison said.
Titles such as RUNEQUEST offer the company a foothold beyond the board-and-box product category. Of entering the RPG field Jamison said, "We're definitely not ruling that out at all. We're planning to go forward with the Avalon Hill line . . . definitely the fantasy games. There's a great opportunity for fantasy roleplaying games." As for moving further afield into the collector's- card market dominated by MAGIC: "We believe there are opportunities throughout the hobby specialty market. At this time it's too early to comment."
Hasbro is just beginning to sort out its purchase, with the boardgame and computer divisions evaluating the material in tandem. They plan to market the resulting products the same way -- simultaneously releasing board and computer versions of titles to maximize cross-marketing.
One factor the company has yet to iron out is distribution, considered by some to be the weakest link in the hobby-game market and likely to be eye-opening for a company used to dealing with giant retailers such as Toys 'R' Us. "We actually have not sat down and completed that process," Jamison said.
Avalon Hill, R.I.P.
Monarch Avalon will reportedly sell its games division, Avalon Hill, to "a newly formed Hasbro subsidiary" for US$6 million in cash. This was reported by Reuters.
The deal will take a month or two to iron out and faces approval by Monarch Avalon's shareholders. In the meantime, all of the Avalon Hill employees have been or will be laid off, although shipments of games will continue for an undetermined length of time.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal about Hasbro confirmed the fact that in order to increase presence in large discount stores it would have to buy up some smaller computer game companies. It appears that Hasbro's purchase of Avalon Hill was done mainly because of AH's computer division, although that division had never really done well. Some compare the purchase to TSR's buyout of the popular board game producer SPI in the early 1980s.
For over 30 years Avalon Hill has produced a wide arrangement of board games, quite a few of which were the precursors to many of today's popular strategy and war games for the computer. Avalon Hill produced and distributed such classics as Diplomacy, Civilization, Acquire, Third Reich, Wooden Ships & Iron Men, Advanced Squad Leader, Up Front, Afrika Corps, 1830, We the People, History of the World, and Tac Air. Many gamers practically "grew up" playing Avalon Hill board games.
Various contracts for games yet to be published are now Hasbro's responsibility. A number of developers that had done work for Avalon Hill were quite surprised, although the writing on the wall, as it were, was becoming quite apparent.
In a July 29 SEC Annual Report, parent company Monarch Avalon stated: "The Company expects that its emphasis on pursuing strategic alternatives for the games business, the possible reduction of the games business workforce and the reduction of games business research and development efforts will limit the company's introduction of new games which could have a material adverse effect on the revenues of the games business going forward." With a marked reduction in game products - due to a variety of reasons - for the past few years, and the increased production of computer games (most of which were market failures), Monarch Avalon found itself deeper and deeper in a situation it admitted could only hamper the company's success.
It should also be said that Avalon Hill produced about 40 percent of Monarch Avalon's 1997 sales, which equaled about US$7 million. Monarch Avalon, on the other hand, will continue producing envelopes and publishing Girl's Life magazine, as well as change its name to Monarch Services Inc.
Another casualty in the whole operation is Avalon Hill's magazine, The General. Hasbro apparently has deemed the continuation of the magazine too expensive.
So what will Hasbro do? No one knows. Game designer Richard Berg noted that, "In terms of whether or not Hasbro will pick up the board game operation, that is 'possible' if not probable." Computer games seem to be Hasbro's main target.
Major Holridge, who recently signed a deal with Avalon Hill to produce, among other things, a special version of his acclaimed wargame TacOps Classic for the United States Marine Corps (and would have published future editions of TacOps with Avalon Hill) summed up the entire situation easily in a brief sentence.
"The situation is not clear yet."
Avalon Hill Bites the Dust
Less than a week after Hasbro's announcement to buy out computer- and board-game publisher Avalon Hill for US$6 million, gamers are still abuzz over the loss of one of the longest-running shows in gaming entertainment.
Hasbro has yet to say anything publicly about the deal, which requires Monarch Avalon shareholder approval. However, it does look like Hasbro will not be publishing AH's complete line of titles and may only concentrate on the family board-game market. The implication is that many of the wargames in AH's stable will be left in the dust.
For instance, Hasbro has reportedly cancelled all existing contracts with third-party developers of Advanced Squad Leader, perhaps Avalon Hill's best-known current wargame. Reportedly, one Hasbro manager was to have said that anything that takes more than an hour to play can't be called a game.
Major Holdridge, who had been developing a line of computer-based wargames for Avalon Hill, announced last Friday the termination of his publication agreement with Avalon Hill. His statement read:
"Today I signed an agreement with The Avalon Hill Game Company that terminates our previous publishing agreements for TacOps98. The new agreement frees Avalon Hill from any obligation to publish TacOps98, and it frees me from any obligation to deliver TacOps98 to Avalon Hill. This was an entirely amicable agreement with benefits for both parties.
"We have also agreed that the same applies to Panzers East except that a formal termination agreement is not needed since we never got around to executing a formal contract for that title.
"Avalon Hill's publishing obligations with respect to TacOps Classic Edition will be assumed by Hasbro upon the conclusion of the sale of Avalon Hill later this year. I do not know what, if anything, Hasbro will do with the title.
"Avalon Hill accepted delivery today of TacOps Classic Edition USMC. Upon the completion of brief company administrative processing, the master CDROM for this product will be transferred to the United States Marine Corps for such duplication and internal distribution as the Corps may desire."
It is noted that the operational staff for Avalon Hill remains employed, and the company will still be shipping product until the end of August (although GameSpot News did receive an unconfirmed tip last week that indicated many AH employees were given only one week to clear their desks).
The last products to be printed (all board games) are For the People, The Bitter Woods, and The Doomed Battalions. Whether or not Hasbro will hold a "fire sale" of AH products still in stock is unknown.
I Dreamt I Saw Charles Roberts Last Night
by Greg Costikyan
<Picture: Civilization>Before Sid Meier's, there was Avalon Hill's.
Hasbro bought Avalon Hill the other day.
Sigh. I doubt whether that means much to you....
Let me tell you a tale of the olden days. Let me tell you of a time when men were men, and smoked Camel straights and drank scotch whiskey and played games on hexagonal grids with cardboard counters. Let me tell you a tale of the Boys of Baltimore, the grande dame of gaming, the greatest game publisher that ever lived:
The Avalon Hill Game Company.
Once upon a time, there was a man named Charles Roberts. In 1958, he founded Avalon Hill, and published Tactics II and Gettysburg. They were the first board wargames, and spawned a whole wargaming industry that reached its height in the early '80s, and has since declined, but still struggles on.
Roberts lost the company in 1962 to his major creditor, Monarch Services, a printing company. Monarch later went public, but throughout its history, controlling ownership was held by the Dott family--Eric, later his son Jackson, known (not to their faces) as Papa and Baby Dott. And as long as we're naming names, let's credit the two men who did the most to ensure that Avalon Hill published such fine games: Tom Shaw, and later Don Greenwood.
<Picture: The Civil War>The Victory Games label.
Avalon Hill was throughout its history the major wargame publisher, rivaled only briefly during the late '70s by SPI. It published some of the best wargames ever to see the light of day: Panzerblitz, Squad Leader, Russian Campaign. Complex, sophisticated, intelligent games, not games for dummies. And its Victory Games label, in the mid to late '80s, published if possible even finer work: Civil War, Sixth Fleet, Ambush. (And also, um, Dr. Ruth's Game of Good Sex, their best-seller--but we won't talk about that.)
<Picture: Kingmaker>AH brought the War of the Roses to America.
But Avalon Hill was not merely a wargame publisher. It published Allan Calhammer's Diplomacy, the most seminal boardgame of the 20th century, the multiplayer diplomatic game par excellence. It brought to the States the finest boardgames published abroad: Kingmaker, Civilization, History of the World, Kremlin. It produced some of the most compelling boardgames ever to appear from American designers: Rail Baron, Titan, Source of the Nile.
And it bought the rights to the late, lamented 3M games, including staggeringly original boardgame designs by the great Sid Sackson, the Master himself: Bazaar, Acquire, and others.
<Picture: Titan>It would have been nice if they knew how to market themselves out of a paper bag, of course.
Avalon Hill stagnated for 20 years. They missed the role-playing boom. They missed the collectors' card boom. They published some of the earliest computer games--and blew their early reputation, publishing computer gaming crap year after year after year.
When I was a lad, I'd await each new General, each new catalog from Avalon Hill with baited breath. And I and my friends would play the games, hour after hour, dice tumbling, little cardboard squares moving about. And lo these many years later, though I now have enough hardware to have won World War II, and spend untold hours at the keyboard, when I get together with friends, what do we do?
We pull out a boardgame, like as not; and very often, one from Avalon Hill. Not necessarily the games of yore, either; a lot of good work is still going on in boardgaming, for all that it's a tittle of an industry next to computer games.
It is an end of an era, my friends. The nail in the coffin of serious, adult boardgaming in the United States. The end of Avalon Hill. A toast for Charles Roberts, please; and a silent moment for old Sid Sackson, up with his pile of games in the Bronx.
So what's Hasbro going to do with its new property?
Why the Dotts should want to sell is obvious. Why Hasbro should want Avalon Hill is not. A bunch of old boardgames that haven't sold worth a damn in years? What good is that?
<Picture: Acquire>Capitalism is a kind of warfare...did Avalon Hill lose the war?
It's worth two things.
#1: The Greatest Multiplayer Games on Earth
First, the Avalon Hill Game Company owns the rights to the greatest multiplayer board games in the world. Now replace the word board with the word online, and you'll get the picture.
For years people have been trying to pry the online rights to Diplomacy loose from Avalon Hill, but have never succeeded--whether from sheer pigheadedness on the part of the Dotts or an excess of greed, I couldn't say. And while Diplomacy is the pinnacle of multiplayer gaming, it's only the finest of Avalon Hill's inventory.
Consider what "online gaming" is at the moment, and why it's not generating anywhere near the level of revenues the analysts claimed it would: most major online games are either basically graphical MUDs or solo PC games with online play bolted on. They're taking existing computer gaming styles and trying to make them work on the net. They're designed by people who just do not understand multiplayer games in a fundamental way.
Start with a multiplayer game, and you've won half the battle. To be sure, translating from board to online is no easier than translating from solo PC; but it's a different approach, and one that (I believe) has a lot better chance of success.
And Hasbro is well aware of the importance of online. Hasbro Interactive publishes CD-ROM versions of many of Hasbro's best-selling titles--and is increasingly making them net-playable. Battleship, Scrabble, Pictionary, Sorry and Risk are all playable via Miscrosoft's Internet Gaming Zone, and a few titles at MPlayer. And more are coming: it promises net-play versions of Stratego and Axis & Allies for '98.
Though these titles rarely appear on the list of the ten most active games on the Zone--which is almost always topped by Spades, Age of Empires, and Hearts--Hasbro seems nonetheless to have made a major commitment to online play.
So...a canny move by Hasbro?
#2: Hasbro Owns Boardgames
Walk into a Toys R Us and look at the boardgame shelves. Almost everything you see is published by Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley. And there's Scrabble, of course; that's published by Selchow & Righter.
They're all marketing labels for Hasbro. Hasbro owns the market for boardgames in the United States. And Hasbro typically sells 200,000 plus copies annually of each and every boardgame it publishes.
Avalon Hill? Avalon Hill was happy if a game sold 10,000 copies in its life.
Take Diplomacy. Take Feudal. Take Acquire. There's absolutely no reason in the universe why titles like these can't sell as well as Hasbro's other titles--with Hasbro's distribution and marketing smarts to back them up.
Online? That's the icing on the cake. Hasbro just got the rights for 200 odd boardgames for a song.
So Hasbro must be really, really smart, right? For a mere six million smackers, they feed their boardgame pipeline for years to come, and get the finest titles in the universe for online adaptation.
So how come the entire design staff of Avalon Hill has been fired? How come Hasbro claims they'll only be keeping 20 out of Avalon Hill's 200 some-odd games in print? How come Hasbro Interactive's PR people say that the Avalon Hill acquisition is purely a matter for Hasbro's non-electronic game division, and won't impact them?And how come a Hasbro manager is heard to have said that any game taking longer than an hour isn't really a game?
(I guess Civilization isn't really a game; funny about that.)
Do these guys have any idea what they're getting? Do they have any sympathy for the aesthetic of the adult boardgame? Do they have any idea of what the Avalon Hill acquisition could mean for online gaming?
Do these guys even play games?
And how do you integrate Advanced Squad Leader, a game so complex you could teach college-level courses in how to play, into a company that thinks Mr. Potato Head is a hot product?
It don't look good.
Copyright 2002 Greg Costikyan. Used with Permission. Greg Costikyan's Homepage
Among Greg Costikyan's 25 published computer, online, board, and role-playing games are two titles from Avalon Hill.
MULTI-MAN PUBLISHINGS CURT SCHILLING "PITCHES" FOR ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER AND HASBRO GAMES
Hasbro Games outlines plans for newly acquired Avalon Hill Strategy Game Line
East Longmeadow, Mass., March 15, 1999 - Curt Schilling, president of Multi-Man Publishing and All-Star Pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, recently "pitched" the importance of playing strategy games and discussed his life-long passion for board games. Schilling is an avid fan of the Advanced Squad Leader strategy game, originally produced by the Avalon Hill Game Company that was recently acquired by Hasbro.
The Advanced Squad Leader game is one of a rich portfolio of Avalon Hill games acquired by Hasbro. Schillings game development company, Multi-Man Publishing, is planned to develop future Advanced Squad Leader products. The first product release planned is the ASL Journal, a magazine dedicated to Advanced Squad Leaders game players.
"Playing classic strategy games like Advanced Squad Leader and Diplomacy has helped me learn to focus, made me more competitive and enhanced my ability to fully prepare for a game, which is essential to my professional career," said Schilling. "Ive been playing games since I was young. Classic strategy games like Advanced Squad Leader and Diplomacy have helped me approach batters differently and more strategically," said Schilling.
Hasbro Games plans to release several refreshed classic Avalon Hill games in 1999 including Acquire and Diplomacy, as well as new games such as Axis & Allies: War in Europe and Stratego Legends. All new Avalon Hill games will soon be available exclusively in hobby shops and specialty retail stores.
"Hasbro Games is dedicated to continuing and expanding upon the great tradition of games Avalon Hill has established and we welcome the loyal following of gamers into the Hasbro Games family," said Glenn Kilbride, Hasbro Games, vice-president of marketing. "Curts passion for Advanced Squad Leader and his companys knowledge of the game makes Multi-Man Publishing a perfect fit for developing all Advanced Squad Leader products with us."
For more information regarding Hasbro and Avalon Hill, visit www.hasbro.com or for more information about Multi-Man Publishing visit www.advancedsquadleader.com.
© 1999 Hasbro, Inc.
© 1999 Avalon Hill Games, Inc. a Hasbro Affiliate.
Subject: ORIGINS- HASBRO and AVALON HILL
I guess while I am at it, I will report on a conversation I had with a nice person from HASBRO.
By next year 4 AVALON HILL titles will be re-published. Two of these include ACQUIRE and DIPLOMACY, both of which had the new boxes on display. Diplomacy will have metal pieces and Acquire will have actual hotels as part of the new playing pieces.
Their strategy for this year will be to re-publish 4 "oldies" and 4 NEW games under the Avalon Hill line. Personally, I can hardly wait.
Some of the negatives I heard were that people still think HASBRO is some sort of evil TSR-sleaze type empire that did to Avalon Hill what TSR did to SPI. This is simply NOT SO. Don Greenwood once told me that Avalon Hill was heading for bankruptcy and HASBRO basically is the white knight riding over the "HILL" to save the day. HASBRO should be encouraged not criticized.
The fact that they showed up, and NOT to sell anything, but simply as a PR gesture is a good thing. Support HASBRO and you will most likely be able to pick up some of your favorite GEMS in a much better format. I will bet that next year, Hasbro will have a big impact on the show. I am looking forward to it. Especially the new Diplomacy and Acquire.
THE BEST FIND OF THE CON was a FRENCH version of DUNE with all the expansions included. UNBELIEVABLE QUALITY. Too bad it was in French, but you can get by with the english translation (photocopied) and if you have a beat up original, this was really worth the $60. Most of the names are in the ENGLISH version with some exceptions you can figure out.
Last week (July 27th-August 1) marked the transition of the old Avaloncon convention to a broader "World Boardgaming Championships" in Hunt Valley, MD. Teresa and I stopped in for a couple days and decided to pass along some of our impressions...
That said, the con *was* more conducive to informal dealing; i.e. placing a sheet of games for sale out at the information desk and noting when (and where) you could be reached We saw a few sheets advertising games for sale in this manner. One could also pick from a fair assortment of old AH game stock that is only now hitting the market pipeline.
NEW AND UPCOMING RELEASES:
Acquire: Only the box was visible. The box is larger than bookcase size, hinting at an upgrade to this game's components.
Axis and Allies: Europe The Gamemasters line would appear to be moving under the AH banner. It is unclear as to how different "Axis and Allies: Europe" will be from "Axis and Allies".
Battle Cry: This title is due to include 116 figures, making it unlikely to be a simple reprint of MB's American Heritage offering. The box art is quite well done on this title; the board is visually appealing but does not seem to offer much variety in terrain.
Diplomacy: One of Avalon Hill's most popular titles. The box bore a stick-on label promising 324 metal figures for game play. Depending on if Hasbro delivers on this promise, and what figures they include, this title could be worth a look.
Stratego Legends: The Shattered Lands Despite the presence of the name "Stratego" in the title, this seemed to be the most unique of the five upcoming offerings. The box notes that the game will contain 60 tradable figures and 4 tradable terrain boards. I am not entirely sure that the concept of tradable cards will carry over to boardgame components, but it will be interesting to see how this goes.
Several other game makers, both established and otherwise, conducted playtests of games either due for release in the near future (e.g. GMT's "Confederate Rails") or still fresh off the drawing board. Teresa and I signed on to test out a game called LATAS, a game in which one builds up a set of telecommunications networks.
GAMES PLAYED: The focus on games played in the tournament events remains largely oriented towards AH's products, though that is changing. Settlers of Catan, for example, was one of the more popular events. As membership in the BPA (Boardgame Players Association) grows and evolves, it is likely that a number of Avalon Hill offerings will eventually be displaced from the tournament roster.
Notable in their absence was the plethora of collectible card games and role playing games. At present the BPA is maintaining a focus on board gaming, with only a few card game exceptions (e.g. Titan: the Arena).
Outside of the tournament format, there was ample opportunity for learning how to play one of the various games sold by Rio Grande Games. Teresa and I have generally been impressed with the selection of games Rio Grande is seeking to reprint in English. (We certainly bought enough of them! :-) ) We hope that in future years other game companies will support this convention in the same manner.
While there were no formal tournies for some of the classic games (e.g. Monopoly, Scrabble, etc.), we did notice two people in the open gaming area who were offering to take on all challengers at Twixt -- and offering handicaps.
The open gaming area offered spectators and attendees alike the opportunity to play a number of old favorites not listed in the tourney. Teresa and I brought our copy of "McMulti" and found that we could easily have spent a few days playing just that game with everyone who wanted to play it. I am toying with the idea of bringing some genuine vintage games next year, and having a pile of AGCA brochures on hand, to see if we can attract attention from the game collectors base at the convention.
SUMMARY: All in all, Teresa and I had an enjoyable (albeit brief) time at the WBC this year. We are hoping that the convention will continue and will grow in upcoming years!
Thursday September 9, 1999, 8:13 am Eastern Time
Hasbro to Acquire Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
PAWTUCKET, R.I.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 9, 1999--Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS - news) and Wizards of the Coast, Inc. announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Hasbro to acquire Wizards of the Coast, the world's largest publisher of hobby games and a leading publisher of fantasy and science fiction literature. The purchase price is approximately $325 million, subject to adjustment based on the audited net assets of Wizards of the Coast at closing, and certain contingent payment rights. The waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act has expired, and the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of September of 1999.
Privately-held Wizards of the Coast was founded in 1990 by Peter D. Adkison, and is best known for MAGIC: THE GATHERING, the world's all-time best-selling trading card game. Since its release in 1993, more than six million players worldwide have embraced this game, which is now available in 10 languages and played in more than 52 countries. Other well-known products include the popular POKEMON trading card game, currently the number-one game in the U.S., and the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS roleplaying games. The company also sponsors a worldwide tournament program for hobby game enthusiasts, owns and operates almost 70 retail game establishments and operates the Wizards of the Coast Game Center in Seattle, the first gaming environment and entertainment center for adventure gaming enthusiasts of all ages.
``Wizards of the Coast will enable us to significantly expand in the fast-growing games arena, which is a cornerstone of our growth strategy for the new millennium,'' said Alan G. Hassenfeld, Chairman and CEO of Hasbro, Inc. ``This acquisition brings us not only incredibly popular content and exciting future gaming initiatives, but also a visionary senior management team and creative talent, expanded distribution channels and an opportunity to participate in location-based entertainment. There is no end to the opportunities we see from cross-fertilization of our respective game portfolios, including the fast-growing areas of interactive software and on-line gaming. Plus, the year-round nature of these businesses will help to balance the seasonality of our diversified portfolio,'' Hassenfeld continued.
``We are very excited about this merger of the world's two greatest game companies,'' said Peter D. Adkison, President and CEO of Wizards of the Coast. ``We are proud to become part of the Hasbro tradition and culture, and look forward to working together to build on the strength of Hasbro's rich library of intellectual properties,'' Adkison added.
Shareholders owning over two-thirds of the Wizards of the Coast outstanding shares, representing more than the required minimum approval, have agreed to vote their shares in favor of this merger at the shareholders' meeting which is expected to take place on or about September 30, 1999. Peter Adkison and his senior management team will continue to run Wizards of the Coast, which will remain based just outside of Seattle. This transaction is expected to have no material impact on Hasbro's earnings per share in 1999 and to be accretive in the year 2000 and beyond.
Hasbro is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of toys, games, interactive software, puzzles and infant products. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, KENNER, TONKA, ODDZON, SUPER SOAKER, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER, HASBRO INTERACTIVE, and GALOOB products provide children and families with the highest quality and most recognizable toys and games in the world.
Wizards of the Coast, Inc., the worldwide market share leader in the trading card game and tabletop roleplaying game categories, is a leading developer and publisher of game-based entertainment products as well as the owner and operator of one of the nation's largest specialty game retail chains. The company holds an exclusive patent on the play mechanic of trading card games (TCGs) and produces the world's best-selling POKEMON(1) and MAGIC: THE GATHERING TCGs. Publisher of adventure games such as the classic DUNGEONS & DRAGONS games, family card and board games and electronic media products, Wizards of the Coast is also one of the world's leading fantasy and science fiction book publishers. The company has retail locations that provide game-play areas. Headquartered near Seattle, Washington, Wizards of the Coast has international offices in Antwerp, Paris, Milan, London and Beijing. For more information on Wizards of the Coast, visit the company's website and electronic retail store at
Certain statements contained in this release contain ``forward-looking statements'' within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements are inherently subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties. The Company's actual actions or results may differ materially from those expected or anticipated in the forward-looking statements. Specific factors that might cause such a difference include, but are not limited to, the timely manufacture and shipping by the Company of new and continuing products and their acceptance by customers and consumers in a competitive product environment; economic conditions, currency fluctuations and government regulation and other actions in the various markets in which the Company operates throughout the world; the inventory policies of retailers, including the continuing trend of concentration of the Company's revenues in the second half and fourth quarter of the year, together with increased reliance by retailers on quick response inventory management techniques, which increases the risk of underproduction of popular items, overproduction of less popular items and failure to achieve tight and compressed shipping schedules; the impact of competition on revenues, margins and other aspects of the Company's business; the Company's incurring higher than expected costs to achieve, or not achieving, ``Year 2000'' readiness with respect to the Company's systems, or the Company's customers, vendors or service providers failing to achieve such readiness; and the risk that anticipated benefits of acquisitions or the Company's Global Integration and Profit Enhancement program may not occur or be delayed or reduced in their realization. The Company undertakes no obligation to make any revisions to the forward-looking statements contained in this release or to update them to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this release.
(1)(c)1995, 1996 and 1998 Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK.
Pokemon and Game Boy are trademarks of Nintendo.
Wayne S. Charness (News Media) 401-727-5983
Renita E. O'Connell (Investor Relations) 401-727-5401
WIZARDS OF THE COAST
Carol S. Knight 425-204-7650
Charlotte T. Skeel
Subject: Avalon Hill Info
From: "Rody Biggert" firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Thu, 16 September 1999 11:05 AM EDT
Not sure if anyone has posted this but this is the latest info I received from Hasbro about the new Avalon Hill Line. The rep said most likely the dates will be pushed back, which I can believe because I've never seen Hasbro deliver on time.
41311 Stratego Legends Retail $25.00 Avail 11/1/99
41307 Diplomacy Retail $44.00 Avail 12/1/99
41305 Acquire Retail $40.00 Avail 12/1/99
41313 A&A Europe Retail $44.00 Avail 3/1/00
There are also two booster packs for Stratego Legends but I don't have any info on those as well as Battle Cry. I am almost positive Diplomacy and Acquire will not be out until early next year. Axis & Allies is currently out of stock and right now there are no plans to do another run until next year, so those may become a little tough to find for awhile.
Hope this helps,
MicroProse Sues Activision and The Avalon Hill Game Company for Infringement Of CivilizationTM Trademark Rights
ALAMEDA, Calif., Jan. 21 -- MicroProse, Inc., a worldwide interactive entertainment company, announced today that it has filed suit against Activision, Inc. and The Avalon Hill Game Company to protect its rights in the award-winning and best-selling Sid Meier's Civilization® and CivilizationTM computer game products.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, asserts claims of false advertising, unfair competition, trademark infringement, and unfair business practices as a result of Activision's recent announcement of plans to develop and publish Civilization computer games under a purported licensing agreement with Avalon Hill. The lawsuit challenges Avalon Hill's ownership of trademark rights in the Civilization name and charges that Activision and Avalon Hill are wrongfully attempting to trade on the enormous goodwill and consumer recognition developed by MicroProse in the Civilization mark for computer games.
"MicroProse is the publisher of the classic Sid Meier's Civilization family of computer-game products and the pre-eminent holder of worldwide computer game and board game rights under the Civilization trademark," said M. Kip Welch, Vice President and General Counsel of MicroProse. "By bringing this lawsuit, MicroProse is serving notice that it is determined to protect its Civilization brand and intellectual property."
To date, MicroProse's Civilization computer game products have generated sales of approximately two million computer games worldwide and rank as one of the most critically-acclaimed series in computer gaming history. With the original game already inducted into the Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame, Sid Meier's Civilization® II was hailed as the "Game of the Year" in 1996 by Time Magazine, PC Gamer and Computer Retail Week and "Strategy Game of the Year" by Computer Gaming World. In its second year following initial release, it has remained one of the top 20 revenue producing PC games in the United States.
"MicroProse continues to build on the Civilization franchise with the recently released Civ II Fantastic WorldsTM expansion CD-ROM featuring science fiction and fantasy-based scenarios and an advanced scenario construction kit," said Derek McLeish, Senior Vice President of Marketing for MicroProse. "Further, the Company is presently developing Ultimate Civilization IITM, a multiplayer version of our award-winning Sid Meier's Civilization II product, which is planned for release soon."
MicroProse's Civilization game is among the most celebrated computer strategy games in the history of entertainment software. Players control an empire from the founding of its first cities, and are charged with guiding it into the Space Age by making critical economic, political, scientific, social and military decisions.
MicroProse, Inc. is a leading and publisher of interactive entertainment software for use on CD-ROM-based personal computers. The company is also developing software for use on next-generation 32/64-bit console machines, the Internet and online gaming services. The company has five development studios located in Alameda, California; Hunt Valley, Maryland; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; and Chipping Sodbury, England. Products are available nationally and internationally and are sold through major distributors, retailers and mass merchants. Product and company information is available for download from the MicroProse® Web site at
NOTE: SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION and MICROPROSE are registered trademarks and CIVILIZATION, CIV, CIV II, CIV II FANTASTIC WORLDS and ULTIMATE CIVILIZATION II are trademarks of MicroProse, Inc. or its affiliated companies. All Rights Reserved.
SOURCE MicroProse, Inc.
Hasbro Expects Loss, Plans to Sell 2 Units
By SHOBHANA CHANDRA, Bloomberg News
PAWTUCKET, R.I.--Hasbro Inc. said Wednesday that it might have a loss this year because of sluggish sales of trading-card games and toys, and said it plans to increase the number of jobs it will cut by about 50%.
The world's second-largest toy maker also agreed to sell its money-losing Hasbro Interactive and Games.com units to French game publisher Infogrames Entertainment for $100 million in cash and stock.
Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro also cut its quarterly dividend to 3 cents a share from 6 cents to reduce costs. The change is expected to save $21 million a year.
The company said that, at best, it might break even this year or have a loss of 10 cents to 20 cents a share. Sales of Pokemon trading-card games have declined and inventory at its Wizards of the Coast division is higher than forecast, it said.
The maker of Monopoly games, Tonka trucks and Play-Doh increased the number of jobs it will eliminate to 750, from the 500 to 550 it estimated in October, to cut costs.
Analysts had expected Hasbro to earn 43 cents, according to the average estimate of those surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial. Last year, Hasbro earned $1.42 a share.
Shares in the toy maker fell 19 cents to close at $11.56 on the New York Stock Exchange. The news was released after the close of regular U.S. markets.
Standard & Poor's cut Hasbro's corporate credit rating to "BBB-" and Moody's Investors Service cut Hasbro's long-term rating to "Baa3," the lowest investment-grade rating at the two agencies. The companies said they might further reduce Hasbro's rating to junk-bond status.
Hasbro said it was "too aggressive" in its forecast for Pokemon trading-card game sales, which are falling. The company will take a $75-million provision for "inventory obsolescence" because of high inventory levels at its Wizards of the Coast division.
The company also will write down about $35 million for the sale of its Hasbro Interactive and Games.com businesses. Hasbro is selling these units to focus on its traditional toy brands.
The sale of the interactive and Internet businesses follows a similar move by larger rival Mattel Inc. El Segundo-based Mattel sold its Learning Co. software business in September for virtually nothing.
Hasbro started its interactive unit in 1995 to make games for the Internet, personal computers and video-game consoles such as Nintendo Co.'s Nintendo64 and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation. The interactive and online businesses aimed to help Hasbro meet growing demand for electronic games by kids and young teenagers who were shunning traditional dolls and toys.
While titles such as "Roller Coaster Tycoon" have made Hasbro the No. 3 U.S. computer-game maker, sales of its games for consoles have lagged expectations.
LA Times Thursday, December 7, 2000
Monarch's actions give investors a royal pain
Father-son leaders say they are building the company's future
By Gus G. Sentementes
Originally published July 15, 2001
It seemed like a curious transaction: Monarch Services Inc., a publisher of a girls' magazine, acquiring a defunct restaurant last month.
To A. Eric Dott, Monarch's chairman, the $1.91 million acquisition of Peerce's Plantation was one piece of a broad plan to expand the brand of Girls' Life magazine.
To shareholders, though, it was evidence of a reckless strategy. But the purchase is only the latest flash point between Monarch and its investors.
Ever since the Baltimore company sold its ailing video and board game division three years ago to Hasbro Inc., investors have demanded their share of more than $8 million that the company had in the bank.
Instead, Monarch, led by Dott and his son, President Jackson Y. Dott, have been spending the money building the company's future. Last fall, Monarch unveiled plans for Adam, a magazine for men. And with the purchase of Peerce's, the company outlined plans for a dining-and-entertainment concept for families, centered around the magazine geared toward girls, ages 9 to 14.
The concept - which Eric Dott believes can be franchised one day - includes fine dining and basic fare, a petting zoo, horseback riding, computers and activities for children and families.
Several major shareholders who, combined, own about one-third of Monarch's outstanding shares, have opposed these new ventures. They say Monarch is entering risky markets with slim expertise, and its cash, while not unsubstantial, isn't enough to sustain two new lines of start-up businesses.
"I have not been overwhelmed by the management expertise of Jack and Eric Dott, even operating in industries that they understand," said Wendie L. Wachtel, chief operating officer of Wachtel & Co. Inc., a Washington brokerage. Wachtel personally owns 10,000 shares of Monarch, and her company manages a total 40,000 shares.
Wachtel and others said Monarch should focus on expanding Girls' Life and giving shareholders a cash dividend, buy its shareholders out completely and go private, or sell the company.
But Eric Dott, who owns slightly more than a third of Monarch's shares with his son, says that kind of money in the bank is the "lifeblood" of a company, and he intends to pump it back into Monarch.
"They didn't want us to go into the magazine business ... look at Girls' Life now," Dott said.
The magazine is entering its eighth year this summer with a major redesign, a Web site, online radio program and a book publishing operation.
With the magazine as its main revenue source, Monarch posted a profit in its last fiscal year of $274,000 on sales of $4 million. And where Girls' Life was the first to venture - a magazine for preteen girls, or "tweens" - other magazines have followed over the years.
Girls' Life also has a powerful ally in the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., with which it has a marketing relationship that gives it access to the organization's 2 million members. It has a paid circulation of 400,000.
On the strength of the Girls' Life brand, Monarch is proceeding with plans for the dining-and-entertainment concept, called "Girls' Life Living," at a location currently under renovation: a three-story building next door to its headquarters on Harford Road. The former Peerce's would be the second incarnation of the Girls' Life-themed concept.
The concept taps into the growth in spending for preteens - a "huge market," said Barbara G. Gassaway, president and chief executive of the Family Research Group, a market research firm in Baltimore. "Their influence is huge because their income, in terms of spending, is all discretionary. It's not like they have mortgages."
Dott sees the possibilities. "We're looking to expand the Girls' Life brand," he said. "We've got some real big plans, if we can swing them."
Adam, the new bimonthly magazine for men ages 21 and up, is one of them.
Monarch recently hired an executive publisher and has spent $200,000 on preparing for the launch with an initial printing of 500,000 issues, Dott said. The magazine will provide intelligent, cutting-edge content, such as a column about legal issues affecting young people by two Baltimore County Circuit Court judges, he said.
But Adam, according to Dott, won't rely on sex as a bait to sell the magazines - a move that might hurt its prospects, some industry experts said.
"To launch a magazine, so far, in this country has been a huge challenge, especially if you want to publish a smart magazine," said Samir A. Husni, head of the magazine program at the University of Mississippi and author of an annual guide to new consumer magazines.
"Fifty percent of all magazines started in the last year will die before the end of this year. Statistically speaking, only 14 percent of new magazines will remain in business after 10 years."
"There's plenty of magazines," said Husni, pointing to such competitors as Men's Health, Maxim and even Playboy. "But I always say if you can find yourself a niche or differentiate yourself from a crowd somehow, there's always hope."
Adam's niche, Eric Dott said, is a men's magazine that sells substance and is a "fun, catchy read."
Monarch acknowledged in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the company could not undertake market research for its new lines of business because of limited resources. And it conceded that there aren't guarantees that its new lines of business will succeed - a standard disclosure among public companies.
The Peerce's purchase and plans for the new magazine riled investors. Many have been active on Internet message boards.
One posted message reads: "A restaurant with a residential real estate development parcel? This sounds like a lousy fit and a poor use of our cash. I think the Dotts have lost it even though we may have got a good deal on the underlying assets."
Appeal to SEC
Said Eric Dott: "I don't even read the stuff anymore, because they don't know what they're talking about. If they had some worthwhile criticism, I'd love to hear it." He declined further comment about Monarch's issues with its shareholders.
Large shareholders such as Michael R. Drayne and Anthony J. Sutton - who together own more than 14 percent of the company - argue that Monarch could squander its millions on the new ventures. They've filed statements with the SEC requesting that Monarch, at its next annual meeting in the fall, allow its shareholders to vote on asking the board of directors to reveal its business plans.
"Creating a new business ... is for an entrepreneur to do, or a venture capitalist," said Drayne, who lives in Silver Spring and holds a 5 percent stake in Monarch. "[Dott] needs to do that with his own money, not our money."
"Right now, the shareholders are trapped," Drayne said. "We don't even know what kind of business we're in until we pick up a newspaper."
Sutton said that because the stock trades so low - typically between $2.50 and $3 per share - and there's barely a demand for it, he's effectively stuck with his 154,400 shares.
"The problem is [the Dotts] run it like their personal company, but they only have 37 percent of the stock," said Sutton. "They really need to run it more like a public company."
At one point, Monarch was the Dotts' private enterprise.
Founded by Eric Dott in 1949, the company specialized in direct-mailings and envelope printing. About 30 years ago, it took over a distressed board-game maker, Avalon Hill Game Co., and, as Monarch Avalon, sold more than 400 computer and board games and published a gaming magazine.
Private to public
Monarch evolved into a public company in the 1970s when it merged with Nationwide Diversified Corp., a Baltimore money-order and printing firm. Most of its audience at that point was young boys. But as the company's board and video game business was battered by larger competitors through the 1980s and 1990s, Dott saw an opportunity in the nascent preteen girls market.
Monarch launched the bimonthly Girls' Life magazine in 1994 after Dott met Karen Bokram, who had developed a magazine concept for preteen girls. Monarch funded Bokram's idea, and Girls' Life was born.
The company sold its game division to Hasbro for $6 million in 1998 and shut its money-losing printing division soon after. Shareholders lauded the moves and Monarch turned its focus on the Girls' Life brand.
"[Dott] sees Girls' Life as a totally limitless possibility," said Bokram, editor in chief. "It's great to see [he's] so enthusiastic about it."
Announcing the Birth of ADAM The New Magazine for 21st Century Men
BALTIMORE--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)--Jan. 8, 2002--Monarch Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAHI) announced today it will launch ADAM, a new lifestyle magazine for men ages 24 to 34.
The premiere issue features a cover and logo design by WBMG's Walter Bernard and Milton Glaser. "I'm delighted and flattered that these magazine legends were willing to contribute to ADAM and so beautifully and elegantly define our place among magazines and in the national debate," said Executive Publisher and Founding Editor, Thomas Dworetzky.
ADAM offers original, positive and successful men an intelligent, thoughtful magazine geared specifically to their interests and needs. ADAM is the smart alternative to today's men's magazines. It delivers clear, complete and concise coverage of the most important news and trends--combined with in-depth service reporting of lasting value that covers all aspects of the modern man's busy lifestyle.
The premiere centers around ADAM's "ANNUAL 21," a review of 2001 featuring the 21 leading people, places and events in 21 time-defining categories. These range from the serious, such as "Most Wanted" and "News Events" to the lighter "Parties" and "Vacations."
The issue also includes an excerpt from the best-selling "Quarterlife Crisis," by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner, that updates their breakthrough observations and provides the results of an exclusive on-line ADAM/QuarterlifeCrisis.com online poll that asked men in their 20s to respond to the recent tragic events and changes that have impacted all of us so profoundly.
The launch issue also includes a selection of regular columns on money, health, law, relationships, fashion, food and other helpful interest areas.
Monarch Services began working on ADAM shortly after the sale of its strategy and computer games divisions to Hasbro in 1998. "Forty years developing bleeding edge multi-media entertainment for guys has been a fine proving ground for competing in the men's magazine arena " said Monarch president Jackson Dott. Adam's debut date is January 15, 2002.
Distribution is being conducted by Warner Distribution Services who has secured the approval of nearly 8,000 newsstand and retail locations nationwide.
Subject: Avalon Hill Announcement (Finally)
Well, heres the update that I promised a few months ago. Sorry it took so long but its been a bit hectic (for reasons that will become clear as you read on).
Effective immediately, Hasbros Avalon Hill line will be run by Wizards of the Coast.
WoTC, makers of Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, and the Harry Potter CCG now manages the existing 10-game line and assumes all sales, marketing, and distribution for 2002 and beyond. In the upcoming months and years, WoTC will develop new product for the Avalon Hill label. Axis & Allies, currently under the Milton Bradley label, will move to the Avalon Hill label and become part of the WoTC line.
WoTC have shown years of experience in the hobby market and have the staff and seasoning to get the AH games into the hands of those who want to play them. Their tournament structure and convention expertise are a perfect fit for the AH line. Their passion to gaming is unquestioned. Its a good thing.
(So where does that leave me? Ill be around to answer AH questions in this interim period, although Ill have ZERO ability to talk about what is next. This includes new product, sales, distribution, legal rights, web site, convention support, etc. Im here to answer rules questions and that's pretty much it. As time goes on, Ill phase myself out, although Ill still lurk here and there and will be available for non-AH Hasbro Games questions. Personally Ill miss the line but Im excited about what WoTC can bring to the table.)
Hasbro doesn't play games
by Greg Gatlin
Saturday, June 8, 2002
Hasbro Inc. has fired and sued a senior executive at its Wizards of the Coast toy unit outside Seattle, accusing him of using too much wizardry in handling printing contracts for Harry Potter trading cards and other games.
Hasbro claims Charles T. Federline, a senior vice president of operations, manipulated bidding for the printing jobs, at an unspecified cost to the Renton, Wash., Hasbro unit.
Hasbro, of Pawtucket, R.I., also fired and sued an independent quality control consultant, Jeanne Maddox, alleging she falsified expense reports and improperly billed for services.
The company is seeking unspecified damages.
As senior vice president of operations, Federline was responsible for production of Harry Potter trading cards and other games, including assigning print jobs to outside companies, court papers state.
Wizards, which also makes Pokemon, Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons trading cards, claims that Federline undermined the bidding on numerous occasions by asking the lowest bidder to up its offer, and by giving favored printers inside information about rival bids.
On one occasion, Federline allegedly got a printing company that had offered the lowest bid on a Harry Potter-Diagon Alley game to withdraw that bid and submit a higher one. The company ultimately won the deal, but it cost Wizards at least $93,000 more, the game maker claims.
The company claims Maddox falsified business expense reports to get reimbursed for nonbusiness expenses, and improperly billed Wizards for days in which she failed to report to work. The suit alleges the ``scheme'' was possible because of her ``close personal relationship'' with Federline.
In its suit, Hasbro accuses Federline and Maddox of fraud, breach of fidiciary duty and negligent misrepresentation. Neither Federline nor Maddox could be reached for comment.
Earlier this week, Hasbro said Vince Caluori, Wizards' chief executive, would retire. Chuck Huebner, a senior vice president with Hasbro Games, was tapped to succeed him.
Loren Greenwood, a Wizards executive vice president, was elevated to chief operating officer. Hasbro spokesman Wayne Charness said those moves were unrelated to the allegations against Federline and Maddox.
Along with its mix of CCGs and RPG materials WotC's exhibit at this year' Toy Fair also included the Avalon Hill line of board games. In a move that makes perfect sense, the sophisticated strategy games that Avalon Hill has created (Axis & Allies, Risk, etc.) are now under the WotC umbrella -- a change that should make it easier for specialty retailers to acquire this line of challenging and complicated board games. Many retailers are reporting a revival of interest in board games, and this change of jurisdiction for Avalon Hill may make it easier for retailers who have shied away from "mass market" board games to give perennial sellers such as Axis & Allies a chance in their shops.
28 Aug. 2003
Wizards of the Coast has launched an in-store organized play program for the board games of Avalon Hill. Called Avalon Hill Frontline, the program kicks off this month with in-store tournament kits for Risk 2210. Retailers can obtain the kits by contacting Wizards of the Coast directly; although the retailer does not have to buy its WotC merchandise directly from the company, it must set up a direct account to purchase the kits, which cost $5 each. Each kit supports ten players, and each store may purchase up to four kits per month, allowing for weekly events.
We spoke to Wizards of the Coast Mass Market Programs Manager Mike Gills about the program. When asked which retail channel the program was designed for, he replied that it's directed "primarily toward the hobby." "Certainly if a chain wanted to run it, they'd be welcome to," he said, "but it's much more for the hobby and core channels." He said that the program was based in part on conversations with game retailers at the GAMA Trade Show in March. "They were very excited about this," he said. "It's another piece of the pie that they can sell, and there are a lot of growth opportunities with board games."
Gills told us that WotC has multiple goals for this program, which is in a trial phase until the end of the year. First, it's to get new players and buyers for its board games; unlike CCG organized play programs, which are primarily "retention" programs, this is a new player "acquisition" program that works in part by demonstrating how to play. Gills noted that board games actually work better for this purpose than CCGs because of the larger, colorful visuals that attract the attention of others in the store. Using Wizards of the Coast's in-house expertise on organized play was one reason for the transfer of Avalon Hill to Wizards of the Coast's portfolio earlier this year (see "Avalon Hill Under WotC Umbrella").
Second, Wizards of the Coast is producing its first board game expansions as part of this program. The expansions, which are taken home by the winners of the event, will serve to alter play for experienced players, who have often figured out the strategies and counter-strategies that work best with the game as it came out of the box. And they'll help WotC evaluate the concept of board game expansions as add-on products, which it's interested in as a way to expand sales of the Avalon Hill properties. Gills said that the decision as to whether WotC would begin producing for-sale expansions of its board games was "a brand manager decision," and that he wasn't sure when it would be made. He did note that there would be a new Axis and Allies game next year, as well as two to three other new Avalon Hill games.
In-store tournaments will tie into the world-wide rankings already set up as part of the Risk 2210 championship program, which ran this year with events at the San Diego Comic Convention, Origins, GenCon, and the World Board Game Championships in Baltimore. Next year, players will have to go through qualifying rounds to get into the world championships.
This first tournament kit, for which the terminology is "the first Avalon Hill Frontline season of Risk 2210," is the Mars season, which takes place in a future when Mars and its moons have been terra-formed. The kit includes new maps, including a primary game map based on photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, and additional rules, which are won by the top three players in the event.
Two more Risk 2210 tournament kits will be released before the end of the year. Gills emphasized that the game expansions that go into the kits will not all be structured the same. "The next one deals with a brand new commander and a set of cards," he said, "and past that other rules expansions."
Much effort is being put into gathering information about how these first board game events work out through on-line surveys and reporting forms in the kits. This feedback will inform the expansion of the program next year.
In 2004, the Frontline program will go to a monthly frequency for new kits, with three games involved -- Risk 2210, Axis and Allies, and Acquire. Since new kits will be rotated between the games, there will be four different kits for each of the three games, coming out roughly on a quarterly schedule.
28 Aug. 2003
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