Yu-gi-oh! Structure deck: Albaz Strike

https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/49543/yu-gi-oh-tcg-structure-deck-albaz-strike

Konami Digital Entertainment will release the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG – Structure Deck: Albaz Strike on March 11.

Albaz Strike centers on Fallen Albaz, which originally appearing in Rise of the Duelist. The monster uses Fusion Summoning effects that allows duelists to absorb enemy monsters and transform it into new forms. The structure deck includes new Tri-Brigade and Springan monsters as well as reprints from Phantom Rage and Blazing Vortex sets. The deck includes five Tokens that feature new art that tell the stories of ‘Fallen of Albaz’. Cards that offer additional support for the deck can be found in Burst of Destiny and the recently announced Battle of Chaos (see “Konami Announces First Core ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ TCG’ Set of 2022”).

Albaz Strike will contain 46 cards (a 40-card Main Deck and 6-card Extra Deck), including 5 Ultra Rares, 3 Super Rares, and 38 Commons; 5 special Token cards; and a double-sided deluxe game mat/dueling guide.

Wizards of the Coast unveils Secret Lair Extra Life

https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/49569/wizards-coast-unveils-secret-lair-extra-life-2021

Wizards of the Coast unveiled Secret Lair: Extra Life 2021, a drop series set that benefits Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which will be on preorder November 5-8.

WotC continues their Extra Life annual fundraising event (see “‘Secret Lair: Extra Life 2020’“) where gamers come together to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals with a new Secret Lair set. This year, the set features two different copies of the three cards offered: one copy with art rendered by young artists from Seattle’s Children’s Autism Center and one copy with artwork that is a professional artist’s interpretation of the rendered card. The set includes the following cards: 1 Mulldrifter by Aliya, age 5 and a half;1 Mulldrifter by Magali Villeneuve, age 41; 1 Craterhoof Behemoth by Kira, age 5 and a half; 1 Craterhoof Behemoth by Lars Grant-West, age 52, 1 Metalwork Colossus by Hyan Tran, age 6; and 1 Metalwork Colossus by Chris Rahn, age 36.

These sets can be purchased in foil for $49.99 or non-foil for $39.99. 50% of the sales proceeds go towards the Extra Life fundraising event.

‘MAGIC’S’ COMMANDER RC BANS ONE CARD AND UNBANS ANOTHER

The Commander Rules Committee (RC) updated their banned list for Magic: The Gathering’s Commander/EDH format on September 13.

In the update, the Commander RC banned Golos, Tireless Pilgrim from the Commander/EDH format. Golos was released in Core Set 2020 in 2019, and had actually previously been a problem card for the Standard format alongside Field of the Dead (see “Announcement’ Date Moved Up“). The RC gave the following reason for finally banning Golos in EDH:

Its presence crushes the kind of diversity in commander choice which we want to promote.  You can drop in Golos and a few 5-color lands into a random deck and get all the ramp and card advantage you would ever want from a commander, with no worries about your mana base.  Golos’ ability effectively reduces the commander tax to one and once you hit seven mana…

The Commander RC also made a decision to unban Worldfire, a mythic rare from Magic Core Set 2013. This card was previously banned because of problems it created an unfair advantage for the caster who could float mana and cast their commander after Worldfire resolved. It was unbanned because the 2021 Commander environment features cheaper ways, mana-wise, of producing a similar effects.   

ICV2 INTERVIEW: COVID SAFETY AT GEN CON

https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/49282/icv2-interview-covid-safety-gen-con

Given the rapidly changing pandemic situation nationally and in Indianapolis, we reached out to Gen Con with questions about how Covid safety is being handled at Gen Con Indy, which opens Thursday.  For context, Marion County, where Gen Indy is being held, has high rates of Covid transmission (522 new weekly cases per 100,000 population) and a high positivity rate (11.67%), according to the state of Indiana’s website.  Around 47% of county residents are vaccinated, below the national average of 55%.

Although there is no mask mandate in Marion County, Gen Con has instituted a mask requirement for the convention center, (see “Gen Con Reverses Course on Maskless Attendance“), and also plans a number of other safety measures (see “Gen Con Announces Updated On-Site Health Safety Protocols“).  A Gen Con spokesperson provided answers to our questions.

Why didn’t Gen Con institute a vaccination requirement, or a vaccination or negative test requirement, for attendees?
Throughout the pandemic we have been working closely with public-health officials in Indianapolis and following their guidance.  Due to the nature of our production schedule and sales cycle we had to make a decision on a proof of vaccination or negative test requirement very early in the summer.  At the time, there were very few precedents for proof of vaccination at large public events.  We are very supportive of vaccination and our internal polling indicates that over 90% of our attendees are vaccinated.

Who is responsible for enforcing Gen Con’s mask rule and other special precautions at the show, and how many of those people will there be?
Gen Con convention staff will enforce our mask rules, as they enforce all other rules of the convention.

How will those responsible handle people who refuse to properly mask?
We will take all necessary action to assure compliance with our rules, including removing non-compliant individuals from the convention center.

What safety measures will be taken to ensure social distancing while waiting in line at ticket windows, to get into the exhibit hall (especially at opening on the first day), and at booths at the show?
We are taking steps to mitigate crowding where possible, including moving opening ceremonies away from the exhibit hall opening, extra spacing at gaming tables in event areas, and other steps.  We have signs throughout the convention center encouraging social distancing.

At one point, Gen Con was going to offer wristbands to attendees with proof of vaccination.  Is that still the case (even though there’s no impact on masking, it could help attendees identify those with whom they want to game)?
We have chosen universal masking as the most effective safety measure we can implement at this time.

Will masks be required on the bridges to the convention center?
No.  We recommend attendees use street entrances to the convention center.

Has Gen Con negotiated with their hotel partners to require masks in common areas such as lobbies and elevators?
We are working closely with Visit Indy and our hotel partners to encourage mask wearing in all hotel common areas; however, each hotel will implement their own policies.  Gen Con rules will be enforced in all Gen Con-controlled hotel spaces.

What support has the City of Indianapolis offered Gen Con to help with COVID-19 safety protocols?
The city has been very proactive in connecting us with Marion County Public Health and other resources to ensure that Gen Con is operated as safely as possible under the circumstances, and to encourage safety policies in those areas of the city outside of our direct control.

THE POKEMON COMPANY INT’L AND CREATURES INC. ANNOUNCE AN ILLUSTRATION CONTEST

Source: https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/49284/the-pokemon-company-intl-creatures-inc-announce-illustration-contest

Winner’s Art will be Featured on an Upcoming ‘Pokemon TCG’ Promo Card

The Pokemon Company International and Creatures Inc. announced the Pokemon Trading Card Game Illustration Contest 2022. This is the first time this contest has been offered in the U.S.

The Pokemon Trading Card Game Illustration Contest 2022 is a fan artwork contest that gives Trainers from the U.S. and Japan a chance to have their talents featured in an upcoming promo card for Pokemon TCG. Trainers’ submissions will feature a “the daily life of Pokemon” theme and include a rendition of one of the following Pokemon as focal point: Bulbasaur, Charizard, Pikachu, Arcanine, Galarian Rapidash, Scizor, Greninja, or Cramorant. The Grand Prize winner gets $5000 in addition to their illustration showcased on a promo card.

Entries will be accepted starting October 13, 2021 and end January 31, 2022. Winners will be announced over the summer. For full details, see the Pokemon TCG or Creatures Inc. websites.

HOBBY GAME SALES OVER $2 BILLION IN 2020

Source https://icv2.com/articles/markets/view/48827/hobby-game-sales-over-2-billion-2020

Despite the many challenges of doing business during a global pandemic, hobby game sales in the U.S. and Canada grew 21% to $2.035 billion in 2020, up from $1.675 billion in 2019.  Every category of games was up, fueled by stay-at-home orders that limited entertainment options. Collectible games contributed the biggest portion of the dollar growth, and RPGs the highest percentage growth.

Results by channel were mixed, with the hobby channel (especially its online portions), Kickstarter, mass merchants, and large online retailers all up, and specialty retail chains down.

Collectible games went into 2020 with good momentum; the category grew 19% in 2019.  But 2020’s 24% growth eclipsed that rate, and it could have been higher if printing plants had been able to keep up with demand.

Games Workshop shut down completely for a period early in Covid and never caught up with demand, suppressing the non-collectible miniatures growth rate below what it could have been, but the category still grew 17% to $415 million.

Hobby board games had shown signs of maturing in 2019, but that was quickly reversed as board games emerged as one of the few activities that could be done by small household groups during a pandemic. The category grew 19% to $435 million.

The hobby card and dice game category was on a negative trend in 2019, but driven by the same Covid factors that affected board game sales, turned around in 2020, growing 19% to $155 million.

RPG sales grew rapidly in 2019, up 23%, but even faster in 2020, up 31% and breaking $100 million for the first time, at an estimated $105 million.

We define “hobby games” as those games produced for a “gamer” market, generally (although not always) sold primarily in the hobby channel of game and card specialty stores.  We define the “hobby games market” as the market for those games regardless of whether they’re sold in the hobby channel or other channels. Our estimates include sales in the U.S. and Canada.

The total hobby games market estimate is derived from estimates for five individual categories:  collectible games (which include Trading/Collectible Card Games, Collectible Miniatures Games, and Collectible Dice Games), miniatures (non-collectible), board games, card and dice games, and roleplaying games.

Our primary means of collecting data about hobby games sales is interviews with key industry figures with good visibility to sales in various categories and channels.  We also review data released by publicly traded companies, publicly available NPD data, and Kickstarter data and analysis, especially that released by ICO Partners.  There were no major changes in methodology for 2020.

Z-MAN AND BLIZZARD OFFER MORE DEETS ON ‘WRATH OF THE LICH’ ‘PANDEMIC’ GAME

Source https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/48869/z-man-blizzard-offer-more-deets-wrath-lich-pandemic-game

Z-Man Games and Blizzard Entertainment offered up more details on World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King – A Pandemic System Board Game, which is set to release in November.

This game was originally teased back in early July (see “‘World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King’“). In Wrath of the Lich King, players venture into the frozen tundra of Northrend to battle the armies of the Lich King. It runs on the Pandemic System, which offers familiar gameplay to players who are acquainted with the Pandemic games, while adding the flavor of the Wrath of the Lich King world.

Players take on the roles of legendary heroes such as Thrall, Warchief of the Horde; Varian Wrynn, King of Stormwind; Sylvanas Windrunner, Banshee Queen of the Forsaken; and others to fight against the ever-growing undead scourge that progressively populates the game board. The goal of the game is to complete three quests while holding off the undead horde. The three quests, once complete, lead to a final quest which is an assault on the Icecrown Citadel. Once inside, they will have a final showdown with the Lich King himself to win the game.

The game box comes with 7 hero miniatures, a Lich King miniature, 3 abominations, 36 ghouls, an Icecrown Citadel, 3 strongholds, 100+ cards, and more. This game is for one to five players, ages 14 and up, and plays in 45 to 60 minutes. It will retail for $59.99.

WIZARDS OF THE COAST AND DIGITAL GAMING SEGMENT SALES SURGE IN Q2

Source https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/48915/wizards-coast-digital-gaming-segment-sales-surge-q2

Sales in Hasbro’s newly created Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segment more than doubled in Q2 2021, behind record sales on two Magic: The Gathering products.  Sales in the segment were $406.3 million in Q2 2021, up 118% over $186.7 million in Q2 2020.  The increase was attributed to two record products, Strixhaven and Modern Horizons 2, released in the quarter, along with growth in digital games including a better-than-expected launch of Magic Arena on mobile.  Dungeons & Dragons also grew, although Dark Alliance, the latest video game release, did not meet expectations, the company said.

Profits in the segment were also robust, up 160% from $74.1 million in Q2 2020 to $192.9 million in Q2 2021.

Hasbro’s total gaming sales, which includes franchise brands Magic: The Gathering and Monopoly along with all of its other game products, were up 63% in the quarter, meaning that the Wizards of the Coast growth rate was faster than the rest of the company’s games.  Monopoly sales were down in comparison to a Covid-fueled Q2 last year.

Overall Hasbro sales were up 54% to $1,322.2 million vs. $860.3 million in Q2 2020 and up 9% vs. pro-forma 2019.  That puts sales of the Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segment at 31% of Hasbro’s total in Q2, up from 22% of sales in Q1 (see “WotC Segment 75% of Hasbro Profits in Q1“).

All of the company’s segments showed operating profits except Entertainment, which took a $109.1 million hit on the sale of eOne’s music division, primarily in a writedown of the value of the asset.  Hasbro showed an overall loss of $22.9 million for the quarter, an improvement over the $33.9 million loss in Q2 2020.

Looking ahead to the second half of the year, the company emphasized that Q2 was expected to be the biggest quarter for the Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segment in 2021, with two Magic: The Gathering releases in Q3 and one in Q4, less than the 2020 pace.  Players returning to game stores is helping to boost backlist sales of Magic, but supply constraints due to manufacturing limitations are a limiting factor.

Input costs and freight costs are up substantially, with ocean freight up by a factor of four vs. a year ago, the company said, but price increases are expected to allow it to maintain margins.

Hasbro confirmed its guidance for overall double-digit revenue growth for the full year.