Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Episode 13 - Magic Competition - 1-22-2014

This is where we pick up the story of Gamers Link Chicago, but it does occur to me that some of my readers might not actually know what Magic: the Gathering is.  It is kind of hard to describe Magic in a simple way, because it is basically a way of life for a lot of people.  It is very similar to Poker, especially when it comes to the professional circuits, but it definitely has a highly-stylized fantasy setting that spans over twenty years.  Yup, the game has been around for 20 years, longer than a lot of the people who come to my store.

The game play can vary from 'fast and furious' to 'slow and cautious' on a whim, depending on your own play style, and the matchup with the opponent.  The rules have been ironed out over the past 20 years, and really there aren't many situations that aren't explicitly covered in the rules.  There are definitely dominant strategies in the game, but discovering those strategies is probably one of Magic's best features anyways.  

The setting varies from year to year, but the game is basically high-fantasy, with a few Sci-Fi and steampunk nods here and there.  This year, the setting is inspired by Greek mythology, and has been really good for attracting new players.  Most of the cards are goofy and fun - like the Akroan Horse, or Colossus of Akros (Trojan Horse and Colossus of Rhodes) - but there are also some amazingly powerful creatures known as Gods, and they have such an epic feel that people are just drawn to them.  

Now, the biggest difference between Poker and Magic is the economy that surrounds it.  Each card has a value that can spike or plunge depending on supply and demand.  Following the economics of the game is pretty important, especially for game store owners, but also for players in general.  Some cards can be worth a lot of money because they are especially good / useful in the present tournament environment.  At present, there are easily 100+ cards that are worth 20 dollars or more in just my store, and this is mainly from trading with the customers / my original stash of cards, as well as a few collections we've been able to pick up.  Other stores have much bigger collections, and that actually takes us to the topic at hand - competition.  

When Ed picked out the space that we are in now, there wasn't a gaming store for miles.  There had been a gaming store in the mall around the corner from us, but they closed a few months before we moved in.  I guess they were planning to reopen gradually, but it seems like they opened quickly because of us.  I can't know for sure, but that's the impression that I get.  No offense to them at all, I go there every once in a while to hang and play some cards, and most of the people there are totally cool.  If we don't have something, and people don't want to wait for us to order it, we always send them over there.  

My point is this: suddenly, we had competition, and it was in the mall, rather than right around the corner from it.  We actually don't have too much overlap of stock, besides the card game stuff, so it's a peaceful existence.  We have a lot more room for gaming, but they have the higher traffic of the mall.  Fair enough.  

Surprisingly, it isn't the chain-store Gamers World that is basically a five minute walk from us that is the scary thought, because we are in the ring with some giants.  This would be a great time to talk about the biggest contender, the one I call the 'Goat Man', but I think I will save Jeff and his Gaming Goats for a separate entry.  He isn't really near enough to us to be direct competition, but if he ever decided to move in next store, we'd be farked.  

No, the big head ache for us comes from a store that is about 5 miles East of us on Irving Park - Hot Sauce Games.  They opened up a couple months ago or so, probably in October I'd say.  I am not totally sure if they are a chain store or not, but I have definitely ordered from them multiple times through TCGPlayer over the years.  For now, they have the money to compete better for the bigger ticket tournaments than us, and this means the pro / aspiring players are more likely to be drawn towards their store.  They are pretty much exclusively a Magic card store though, so they don't offer competition for non-Magic products whatsoever.  

Anyways, for the uninitiated who don't understand how anyone can have a profitable business in games... well, it's because of Magic.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Episode 12 - Lords of Warhammer - 1-11-2014

As promised, we are going to discuss our next big selling game for Gamers Link Chicago: the Games Workshop games - Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and Warhammer 40K.  As I mentioned in a previous episode, Eddie and I met at a Games Workshop store, so we are both coming from a point of being very strong with this game / hobby.  My specialty / interest lies mostly with WFB, while Ed is a pretty staunch 40K player.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Episode 11 - The Magic Man - 1-11-2014

The previous episodes were about the opening of the store, and the trials / tribulations therein.  They also dabbled in the back stories of the Gamers Link Adventure, but it occurs to me that you might not know who I am.  Let's just say this is an 'about the author', with an intent to get everyone up to speed.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Episode 10 - November Was a Birch - 12-27-2013

It has been quite a while since annals had been added to the story of Gamers Link Chicago, and that is because it has been a tough few months.  I began two new jobs since the last installment, both of which involve being in front of my computer screen for a lot of my night.  So, not only am I extremely busy, I am also not particularly inclined to spend much extra time staring at a blinking cursor.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Episode 09 - A Chance Encounter at the Games Workshop - 10-26-2013

In last week's episode, Gamers Link Chicago was just getting off the ground, thanks to Eddie selling his car.  I remember much of what occurred afterwards, but this has been a long week for me, so I am having trouble recalling the proper chain of events.  With that said, I will delve into my deeper long term memories, and answer the question we get all the time: Where did Eddie and I meet?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Episode 8 - Sell, Sell, Sell! - 10-19-13

Welcome back!  As a refresher, we had just gotten to the hardest part of the story, when we were very close to never existing.  Investors had pulled out, and our attempts to fund raise, as ill-conceived as they may have been, failed miserably with notable exceptions.  Of course, here we are, standing strong, and this episode will tell you why.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Episode 07 - Whoa on the Woes - 10-2-2013

Well, there comes a point in every story where the heroes reach their nadir, and their plans unravel before their eyes.  Yup, that tells the whole story really, but GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE! What follows is a story that still plagues us here at GLC.