For a third day in a row we're here to talk about board-gaming, specifically how to use those demo tables. Over the last few days I've been talking to Jamey extensively, and we've talked about the difficulty of some Stonemaier Games when it comes to making them a success on your demo tables. As I've propounded here for two days, the success of your demo tables can make or break the success of your board gaming section. Scythe is huge, and has tons of pieces. Viticulture, which I love, can be difficult to boil down to thirty seconds, which is what my elevator pitch over a demo table looks like. It's tough to communicate enough information in those thirty seconds that the customer is hooked.
I'm super-stoked for Charterstone, it's the first Legacy game that I'm absolutely gaga over, because after we play our twelve games of the Legacy game we'll have a unique worker placement game that is unlike anyone else's copy of Charterstone. (Yes, I understand the infinite monkey, infinite time, accidental Shakespeare, thing I've just waded into.)
The issue with a game like Charterstone, and really any Legacy game, is how do you demo it without tearing things apart and really getting into the guts of that. I believe Charterstone is a game that will be carried to success by the hype, by the new take on a Legacy game, and by being another game from Jamey, who hasn't put a bummer out there with his name on it yet.
But as we've discussed, the difference between a game that sells well and a game that flies out of your store is your ability to demo it. During our conversations Jamey said "I can make a video that teaches your staff to demo it" and I said "I can share it all over the place." And that brings you to the video below. In six minutes you can learn how to set up a copy of Charterstone for your demo table, and take advantage of both sweet sweet hype and product knowledge, which is darn near the perfect storm for selling these things.
We can debate production value, video editing, and the value of pretty graphics all we want, but in a matter of a couple hours Jamey put out a six minute video that I can have my staff watch, and then they will be able to intelligently discuss Charterstone with every customer that stops at the demo table, which it will start inhabiting as soon as it arrives next week. This video will help me sell copies, and that value to my business is something I can't possibly measure right now, but I hope other publishers take Jamey's lead here. Watch it played videos are fine, and reading the rules is fine, but I'll be able to train my staff how to sell this $70 board game with a six minute video, and being able to easily train a staff how to sell something that is going to be on your demo tables is like manna from heaven in this industry. I'd love it if every publisher took the time to develop these things for retailers, and hey, maybe this can be the beginning of a brave new world where we grow together. Jamey's video helped me develop the three pitches that I use to sell every game I choose to put on a demo table.
The 30-Second Elevator Pitch
This is the approach question when I see a customer standing over a demo table. With the continued success we have with Bunny Kingdom I'll use it as an example here.
"Do you enjoy card drafting and area control games." If answer equals NO = ask customer to tell you about games they enjoy and find the thing you can sell them. If answer equals YES = proceed to elevator pitch. "At its heart Bunny Kingdom is a card drafting and area control game that's all about building the best Bunny fiefdoms. Through four seasons of play you will draft cards to deploy your little bunnies throughout the land, gathering resources and building castles to earn victory points."
(I have deviated from the Bunny Kingdom rulebook with my description. They refer to four 'rounds', which in a game like this I prefer to think of as seasons, so the game lasts one 'year'. I just think the flavor is better this way, and more engaging to people at my demo table.)
This elevator pitch is built to encourage questions. Some of the questions I've received include "What's a fiefdom", and "How do you score victory points."
The 90-Second Elevator Pitch
If I was asked a question, that's permission to move on to the 90 second pitch. It gets changed based on the question, but it always encompasses the following things in some order. "Here are the card types, they do various things, like these coordinate cards that tell you where to send a bunny when you draft it, these building cards; cities, markets, and various regular and luxury resources, that improve your ability to score victory points when you draft them, and these scrolls, which offer you bonus victory points at the end of the game. The scrolls are special, because they're the only cards you keep secret from your opponents when you draft them, the other cards are revealed to your opponents as you draft them. A fiefdom is a group of bunnies that are adjacent to one another side to side, diagonal bunnies don't count, and these little lava streams can also disrupt a fiefdom. At the end of every season, each fiefdom scores points in a simple process where we determine the strength of a fiefdom by counting the number of towers, and the wealth of a fiefdom by counting the number of different resources. Then we refer to the back of our little scoring card to see how many points the fiefdom scores. You do this four times, and you've played Bunny Kingdom. Our first games took about 45 minutes, but mostly they take between 35 and 40 now."
By this time, the game is sold. If the game isn't sold, but the customer still is acting intrigued, asking questions, or their body language says "Give me more," than I move on to a pitch that takes me about three minutes, but sometimes five minutes with certain games.
The 3-Minute Pitch
Play the game. No, seriously, deal out ten cards to the players and draft with them. In the 30-second and 90-second pitch they didn't put a bunny on the table. The moment they touch that bunny, you've won.
My perfect world involves publishers who support retailers in two ways. 1.) Value protection - be it through MAP policies, or by early releases to brick & mortar, publishers who protect the value of their product are my most valued partners. 2.) Sales Support - videos like the one Jamey put together here are utterly priceless. This has been the easiest process for me to ever develop the pitches needed to sell Charterstone. When we get the support from publishing that makes a game worth supporting in our stores, both publishing and retail succeed, and if you can develop these three pitches for every game you put on your demo table, you can have success with those tables, and make more money selling fun games.