Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Return of the Boxed Set

Scott Thorne, owner of Castle Perilous Games and Books in Carbondale, IL, has a column up today over at ICv2 on the subject of the new renaissance in RPG boxed sets. It's a good article, especially interesting because it's written from the perspective of a game store owner, and well worth reading in its entirety. One thing that really caught my eye, however, was this:
No one just getting started, unless they are a huge fan of Doctor Who and plan to drop $60 for it or $100 for Warhammer FRP will consider those two.  That leaves Dragon Age or the D&D Red Box, both fantasy RPGs, which is well and good but there’s no modern day or futuristic starter to point to a Halo or Call to Arms player, no superhero intro game to show the DC or Marvel fan, no martial arts or anime beginners set to appeal to fans of those genres.  Even those RPGs that tout ease of play as one of their main advantages, such as Fairy Tale or QAGS, don’t have a starter set.  The customer has to buy the book, then buy a set of dice, then wonder if they have bought the right set of dice.  Of course, store personnel can help with this, and they should, but still, a low priced starter set eliminates one more reason for the customer not to buy.
I'm not sure you need to include a pencil in a boxed set (ahem), but certainly the idea that a beginning gamer might not even know which dice to buy isn't something that would ordinarily occur to me, since I'm one of those who've been playing these games for literally decades, and sometimes putting myself in the shoes of someone brand new to the hobby isn't easy. Plus the noted lacunae of boxed supers, sci-fi, and other genres is one that certain publishers should probably be taking notice of.

As I said, a good article, and well worth the read.