Category Archives: News

Kickstarting Scythe – a first for Fair Game

Oh man. Here it is. My post on Kickstarter. Promised years ago and stewing in my over inflated head for even longer, it took the release of what I hope will be a great game to finally pry these words out of me. If you want to skip the diatribe and just read about Scythe (TL;DR)- the first game that we have backed in years, just click here. Otherwise, let the random Kickstarter thoughts spew forth.

I have spoken at length to many of our customers over my personal duality involving Kickstarter. One personality – the G4m3r – loves the whole process of “kickstarting” a game. From the hype, to the updates, even the drama during production and shipping, culminating in a product showing up at your door months or sometimes years later. It’s like Christmas at random times throughout the year.

The other personality – STORE OWNER – struggles with Kickstarter. That side of me really doesn’t see how it can ever be a good thing for the small retailer. The offers online, the special EXCLUSIVE promos, stretch goals, updates, etc. make it extremely attractive for the end customer to go direct (via Kickstarter) to buy the product (in this case, I’m talking about games here – for obvious reasons) from the creator. The end result of this should be that a select few people who gamble on a game (by pledging and paying up-front), are rewarded with exclusive content as a Thank You from the creator. These rewards are ostensibly for helping fund the creation the game; after that  we see those games on the shelves at your FLGS a few months later minus the exclusive content.

In practice however, I don’t see this happening too often. Yes, the big players in funding games on Kickstarter (Cool Mini or Not, Queen, Reaper, Dwarven Forge) have a track record of being able to successfully translate their products from the Kickstarter phase to the retail one – but those guys are (being a bit careful here) not really using Kickstarter in the spirit of crowdfunding. They are using it as advertising and market research. Those companies already have the capital and knowledge to bring a game to market unless they are doing something highly unusual.

For the small publisher / developer, the Kickstarter-to-retail path seems fraught with peril. There have been many times a customer has come into Fair Game and asked if we carry a certain game which they have heard about, only to have us tell them that “sorry – that game was funded on Kickstarter and we did not back it. I’m not sure if we will ever be able to get it since it isn’t clear if our distributors will by carrying it.” How disappointing for both of us.

It is my understanding that many small developers just don’t have the time, energy or knowledge to get their games in distribution and still be cost effective. Many of them have developed their game(s) as a hobby – not necessarily a business. As soon as the financial side starts creeping in, the interest level probably wanes (rightfully so I suspect) and the decision is made to either shutter the doors on the current game and move onto another, or try to do fulfillment on their own. Either way, it makes it that much harder for the FLGS to get their hands on post-Kickstarter games in a reliable and consistent manner.

Of course, the “easy” solution to this problem is to just back the games as a retailer. Many developers now offer retailer levels that give us a reasonable margin and also (usually) give us the exclusive stretch goals as well. To participate we just back the product at a specific retailer level – (pre)purchasing a number of copies (usually at least 6).

The problem with that is twofold. First, we don’t really know how well received a game will be once it is released. One thing us small retailers try to avoid is having a large back stock of a game that just doesn’t sell. Similarly – and surprisingly – a small game which is successful and in demand which we actually did back can also be an issue if there are no more in the pipeline (or there are severe delays). Even if I take the risk, back a game (and get my 6 copies) and sell them all immediately, unless I can restock quickly it almost doesn’t matter. There are so many new games coming out at an alarming rate – and our customers are fickle (justifiably – there are so many games to choose from) – that if the latest Kickstarter game does make it into our store, is a huge hit, and then doesn’t come back onto our shelves for 3 months or more – the buzz is lost. The interest might very well be gone. We may have sold out of our initial order, but are now turning people away awaiting the general distribution pipeline to fill. By the time we restock, the interest has waned.

The second more concrete problem in retailers backing these games is the required payment up-front of a product that may not ship for quite a while. While a bit of an accounting mess, it also wraps up inventory funds which could (should) be spent on tangible product which will sit on our shelves and be sold to customers.

Finally, as a kind of conglomeration of both problems is the process of deciding which game(s) to back. Which will sell? How many to buy? How much money to commit? The research involved in doing that can be quite time consuming and is fraught with potential emotional biases.


So – anyway. Therein lie my Kickstarter demons. Love and Hate. Frick and Frack. Fear and Greed.


Now, for whatever that rant was worth – below is some exciting news about a game I am personally very excited about. Excited because I love 4x games, the theme is awesome, the artwork looks fantastic, and the designer (Jamey Stegmaier)  has developed into quite the crowdfunding guru as well as having a great mind for game design. My wife and I adore his game Viticulture and appreciate that he is trying his best to help local game stores participate in his Kickstarter projects without being too overbearing. His newest game is Scythe – which is described as follows:

Designed by Jamey Stegmaier (Viticulture & Euphoria) and based on the art and world building of Jakub RozalskiScythe is a 4x game (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) set in an alternate-history, 1920s Eastern Europe. Scythe tells the stories of 5 factions competing over an unclaimed patch of land surrounding the mysterious Factory.


Check out some of the artwork and pre-production pieces in this post and then head over to the official website to read more. Then – when you decide that you want to back this project – send us an email ( or call us (630-963-0640) at the store to place an order. Choose from one of 4 versions:


Rather than ask that you pay for the whole game up-front, we will take a 50% deposit on whichever edition you choose. Once the games arrive, we will give you a call to come in and pay off the balance and pick up your game. That way, you and Fair Game both assume a portion of the risk but also the reward.


Also – for those of you who have already backed the game on Kickstarter, it is perfectly acceptable to cancel that order and then contact us. The net difference to the funding of Scythe will be zero.

All deposits need to be paid by midnight, November 4th, 2015.

Some common questions:

  • [Q] Will I get all stretch goals if I buy through this offer with Fair Game?
    • [A] Yes – all stretch goals unlocked during the campaign will be included with your purchase.


  • [Q] Will I have to wait until the games are shipping from distributors, or will I get my game when the other Kickstarter backers receive theirs?
    • [A] We have been assured that retailers participating in this program will be shipped their games at the same time as all other Kickstarter backers. You will be receiving your game during the same shipping wave as all backers.


  • [Q] Do I have to pay shipping for the game(s) I order through Fair Game?
    • [A] Not at all. Fair Game will pay for all shipping fees.


  • [Q] Do I have to pay sales tax on the game(s) ordered through Fair Game?
    • [A] Yes – like any other product we sell at the store, sales tax will have to be charged. We will take that out of the total cost of the game when you pay off the balance.


  • [Q] If I cancel my order on Kickstarter, will I be charged a penalty? Will this jeopardize the success of Scythe?
    • [A] First – there is absolutely NO penalty for cancelling a pledge on Kickstarter. Second, as long as you give us a down payment on the version(s) you want to pledge for, we will in turn increase our pledge on Kickstarter to match. Win – win!


  • [Q] Will you be stocking any other Stonemaier products?
    • [A] We do plan on bringing in Viticulture and Tuscany as soon as they are both available again. If you are interested in other Stonemaier products (like those awesome treasure chests), please let us know and we will try to get them in ASAP.


  • [Q] What is the deadline for deposit?
    • [A] All orders and deposits need to be settled by midnight, November 4th. This leaves us less than a day to update our pledge to reflect any last minute backers.

This is our first time at Fair Game trying this type of Kickstarter fulfillment – so if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us!

I am personally very excited about both Scythe (you better believe that I’m backing the game through our store!), and our first serious attempt at backing a Kickstarter project from Fair Game.

Let us raise a glass (is that just water in there?) and toast.

Dos vedanya Tovarisch!


Game Rental Program!

No, not the store! (TL;DR We now rent games)

Fair Game – after many hours of long brainstorming sessions and burning the midnight oil – is finally prepared to announce the latest “awesome new thing” to appear within our four walls.

Game rentals!

All of our demo games are now available for a 3-day rental. Just come on in, browse our huge selection and pick out a game to bring home. Fill out a small form and pay just 10% of the MSRP for the particular game you chose.  You will be able to keep the game for a total of three nights.

Even better – if you decide that you want to add a copy of that game to your library (or  buy for that special gamer someone in your life), just let our staff know when you return the rental. We will apply the rental fee to the purchase of a brand-new copy!

As always, if you have any questions at all about the Fair Game rental program, just give us a call, send an email – or even better – stop on in.


*Tap tap tap* is this thing on?

How do you shut him up?

Happy 2015 everyone! A quick note to let you all know that I will be speaking on WGN Radio today (3-Jan-2015) at 1:30pm! Bill Moller (  has graciously offered to let me come on and talk about my gaming passion. With any luck, I won’t say anything too dumb or blurt out something inappropriate (they use a 3 second delay, right?).

You can listen online right here:


Turn off your TV and turn on your brain!

Turn off those screens!Don’t let Screen Free Week get in the way of having fun! Reconnect with your kids, while disconnecting from high tech – by playing a board game. Fair Game has a variety of games to fit any interest, genre, group or age. Come in during Screen Free Week, May 5th – 11th, and try out one of our demo games (our library has hundreds!) – bring your whole family. We will  find a suitable game for you that everyone will enjoy.


New Twitter feed for MtG News

Attention Magic The Gathering Players!

Are you:

  • A last minute planner?
  • A Mom or Dad  who enjoy an hour or two of peace and quiet while your sons and daughters play in our Beginner Friday-Night-Magic Tournaments?
  • Someone looking to Draft after FNM?
  • A MtG aficionado who wants to keep up with Fair Game’s MtG scheduling because, ya just gotta be in the know?

If you answered “Yes” or “Kinda” to any of the above, why not follow the new Fair Game MtG Twitter feed?  @fairgamemtg

You can even set up your twitter account to forward tweets from that account (or any other) directly to your cell phone via text message!

We promise to use this to forward important and timely information regarding MtG related news as it applies to Fair Game. For example, this Friday (Jan 10th) we are unable to run our Beginner’s FnM tournament; we will send a tweet in the regard to notify all players and parents.

The status of drafts after regular FnM are another semi-regular event which may be of interest to many of our players.

Note: we will NOT use this account for marketing or product announcements; just tournament and event info as it applies to MtG at Fair Game.

Three year anniversary sale!


Quick Update: Fair Game will open at 9am on Friday, November 29th (otherwise known as Black Friday Our Third Anniversary)


As many of you know, Fair Game was opened on a Black Friday – almost three years ago! Blowing past our terrible twos, we are looking forward many more years of bringing great games and family fun to the Western suburbs.

In celebration, we are having a sale on November 29th featuring the following items:
Laser Maze – 20%
Wangle – 20%
Hello Sunshine – 20%
Orchard – 20%
Rise of Augustus – 20%
Pathfinder Minis – 20%
Selected Heroclix – 30%
All Playing Cards – 10%
Field Notes – 10%
All RPG Books and supplements – 10%
Select reaper bones – 30%
All FFG LCG – 20%
Plus, below is a coupon good for 30% any full-price item in the store.
Click, print and bring it in!

(note: this sale, and the coupon, are good for November 29th only)


Holiday news – new store hours and gift suggestions

3cupcakeI can’t believe that it is time again to plan for holiday madness.

This season will mark our third anniversary(!) of doing business in Downers Grove – how cool! Three years of fun and games in the greatest town east of the Mississippi. Past our terrible twos, we are looking forward to many more years in this wonderful business.

In holiday news, we have updated our gift guide to take into account some new titles and favorites – we have also decided that Mondays aren’t that bad at all, so are opening the store on Mondays from 11am to 7pm. Amy’s in charge so watch out! 

As always, Fair Game has hundreds of games which make great gifts for anyone. Our gift guide goes over a small portion of them – we have many, MANY more in the store and would love the opportunity to discuss that special person in your life who you just can’t figure out what to buy for. Check out our guides for families, parties, travel, and kids games. For the couples, we have some ideas for 2-player games as well. Don’t forget the more “serious” games including science fiction, horror, role-playing, and head-scratching strategy. Finally, a simple game-themed stocking-stuffer may be just the thing for that gamer in your life who already seems to have everything.

We will be doing some holiday craziness over the next month or so too, so make sure to stop in and check out what’s up!



Second annual 24 hours of gaming at Fair Game!


This weekend (November 2 & 3) Fair Game is hosting a 24 (well, technically 25) hour marathon gaming session to support the Children’s Miracle Network via the Extra Life foundation.

Every year Extra Life hosts a 24 hour event to increase awareness of their cause and encourage gamers and their friends to donate to a great cause.

On an Autumn Saturday each year since 2008, tens of thousands of gamers have joined together to save the lives of local kids in a celebration of gaming culture that we call Extra Life.  From console games to tabletop RPG’s to even lawn sports, Extra Life gives people that love to play a chance to do what they love to save lives and make a difference.

Again this year, a local group of gamer-friends formed their own team, and asked us if we would host the event. Establishing a tradition only takes commitment so we agreed immediately – and now the time is upon us.

If you would like to participate, come in and play any time between 10am Saturday November 2 until 10am Sunday, November 3. We will close the store at 10am Sunday, but will be open again at noon as usual. We are encouraging (but not forcing!) gamers to donate during the 24 hour marathon – we can take donations through the register. As an added bonus, numerous Downers Grove merchants have generously donated prizes to be raffled away during the event. Thanks to Emmet’s, The Spice Merchants and Another Round!

UPDATED: More donations are coming in for the raffle! Thanks to Ballydoyle, and Edward Health & Fitness for generous donations of gift certificates. Also, one of the Naperville group has graciously donated Gloom and all expansions including exclusive promos from Table Top! Finally, game author WJ MacGuffin has offered some of his role-playing titles on PDF including Triune, Outlive Undead and the quirky variant of a classic: Personality Chess. Of course, we (Fair Game) will also be adding a few gift certificates of our own to the mix!

If you can’t make it out and still would like to contribute, why not go right to our part of the team page and give a little by pressing that big orange “Support Me!” button. Every bit counts!

Eric, Richard and I look forward to seeing the hilarity ensue as die-hard gamers and over-tired shopkeepers try to keep their sanity.

Play Games, Heal Kids


Get your engineering on!

photo (2)

I feel like I shouldn’t even have to warn you any longer that the following post isn’t directly game related.

So consider yourself decidedly NOT warned.

Something really cool happened right here in Downers Grove this weekend (Sunday July 21st to be exact). A group of college kids on a sort of engineering tour of the US (driving the SparkTruck) stopped by Downers Grove North Highschool to show some of our kids (and adults!) a small example of what it is like to take an idea from initial concept to design by using a small variety of pieces and parts and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

photo (3)

My son Sam went to two of their sessions (organized by the FRoG group right here in DG also) and had a great experience both times – designing and building a photo (5)“jelly-tick” consisting of a foam carapace and long tentacles (is that what a jellyfish has?) which moved in a somewhat organic way by virtue of a small pager motor and coin-sized battery. He also learned to work with a team to help their “alien robot” maneuver around a newly discovered planet in search of energy.


photo (6)

These two exercises were – themselves – cleverly designed to show the participants a variety of design principles without becoming a lecture. Kudos to the originator of the idea(s), and even more props to these students who are basically following the same routine of a small touring band; stopping from city to city and sleeping wherever someone will let them. More often than not, they wake up in a new city and hit the ground running: sharing their love for creativity, engineering and discovery one city at a time.

If you get the chance to check out one of their sessions, I highly encourage you to do so. If you don’t have kids, register your niece or nephew or pretend your child “got sick” the day of an event and go “in their place.”  It is that good.

So here’s to Sarah, Benji, Brittany, Steven, and the “do you know anyone with that name” Warren. You guys GOT IT GOING ON – keep it up!



Chestnuts roasting, X-Wings flying

We are rapidly coming up to our two year anniversary here at Fair Game – and like we have done in the past, we will celebrate with a Black Friday sale. Details are a well-guarded secret that will not be revealed until the day before via email (so if you are not already on our email list, sign up over there on the right).

Steeped in mystery, the Black Sale Seance is held each year to determine which products will achieve “sale status”. In all honesty, I cannot recall what occurs during these events since our minds are erased after each one. I’m sure it involves incense and eggnog however.

In any event, I have prepared a gift guide for those of you who have a gamer to buy for. This is just a itsy-bitsy tiny sampling of the games we carry and recommend, so if you still can’t think of something after perusing it, come on in and ask. We love to talk about giving games as gifts!

You can access the 2012 Gift Guide right here.