December 13, 2017, Ryan Costello
As proud as I am of the selection of games we’ve included in Board Game Bento, I can’t say every theme has been perfect. There are a few that I’ve used as learning experiences, such as July 2016’s “Sports” theme. I bring this up to assure you that, although Fun in the Sun has games with outdoor activity themes, this is not a new “Sports” box.
With all due respect to the publishers who provided us the games we included, “Sports” is pretty much acknowledged as one of our weakest offerings. Where did “Sports” go wrong? To start, the reliance on quotation marks to sell the theme. As you may have noticed, I always talk about the “Sports” theme with quotation marks around it, something I don’t do when I’m talking about other themes, like Fun in the Sun. If you haven’t noticed, don’t feel bad. You honestly have no reason to notice it, and you wouldn’t be the only one to miss it. As I alluded to in an earlier blog post, Board Game Bento themes need to be self-explanatory. At the very least, they need to be evocative. “Sports” was neither. So much so, we released a video explaining the theme.
If you don’t feel like watching the video, the theme was games based on sports but with a non-sports element. If that isn’t clear, you understand the issue.
Another issue was my trying to grease a squeaky wheel. Some people who see our Facebook ads feel the need to comment explaining why they don’t like what this ad is selling. That’s fine, it’s their right. Unfortunately, a lot of their objections are flat out wrong, like the common complaint that we only include old, liquidated games.
Of course, now I get to brag that we included 2017 Spiel des Jahres winner Kingdomino the same month it won game of the year (have I mentioned that before? Maybe. Will I continue to? Yes!). At the time? All I could do was try to include the most current games possible. For “Sports”, that meant the recently released Fisticuffs, the just released Icons of Awesomeball, and the soon-to-be released Fantasy Fantasy Baseball. That last one was a boon to me. Getting a game at the same time as it was released? Take that, haters! Honestly, the whole “Sports” theme was inspired by getting Fantasy Fantasy Baseball. So you’ll imagine how I felt when a production issue meant we couldn’t get it in our warehouse in time.
We’ve only had to change a game at the last minute twice, and this time it was 100% because I tried to beat the buzzer to appease the incorrect assumption of people who probably weren’t going to subscribe anyway. Publisher CSE Games was extremely apologetic for their mistake, offering us NHL Ice Breaker as a replacement at an incredible discount. But this was a 10 year old game, ironically the oldest game we’d included up until we got Liberté in May of this year (which was off the market and hard to come by for years). Not only that, after struggling to explain that “Sports” wouldn’t actually include any sports games, now we had a sports game. Hence the above video (and know that I’m sorry I had to pretend switching the theme’s main game was in anyone’s best interest).
At least the price we got for NHL Ice Breaker meant we could afford to include Bowling For Zombies, a light number matching game with zombie and (more importantly) sport theme. However, this was a game we got on liquidation. In my obsession with discrediting the complaints of non-subscribers, I’d made decisions that negatively affected our subscribers and validated the complaints at the same time.
If you’re interested, yes, “Sports” is still available in the Board Game Bento shop. Not shown in the shop is the accessory we included that month, one of my favourite accessories we ever included: a miniature chalk board by Charlie Rabbit for score keeping. We don’t include accessories anymore for reasons I’ll go into in a future blog post, so this might remain our best.
For now, if you are a subscriber who didn’t think “Sports” was one of our strongest themes, rest assured that this isn’t another “Sports” box. Fun in the Sun‘s games are in hand so don’t worry about any last minute changes. This box includes two major publishers and one of the top designers in the industry. They are recent games, but we didn’t go broke trying to get December 2017 releases. “Sports” may not have been a high point for us, but the lessons it taught us have improved the boxes we’ve put together since then.
Now you know,