14 November 2019 | 16 Comments
A few days ago I stopped by Kaldi’s, a local cafe, for some drinks and lunch. I have a favorite kale and pineapple smoothie at Kaldi’s, but something else caught my eye on their “seasonal flavors” board: a pumpkin frozen coffee.
I couldn’t resist! And it wasn’t just because the drink is only available for a short time (I explore daily specials in a previous post). Rather, I think it’s also because (a) the special matched the types of things I associate with the current season and (b) the special had a familiarity to it, most likely because the same special appeared at this time last year too.
Kaldi’s is far from alone in offering seasonal specials. Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte is famous for the same reason, and I also recently tried a seasonal flavor at my favorite local cupcakery (The Cup). So, a lot of food and drinks. Could the same premise apply to board games?
To reiterate, the key ingredients to a seasonal special are:
- available for a limited time (but not exclusive to this year)
- associated thematically with the current season
- appear annually at the same time to provide the comfort of familiarity
The closest thing I can think of that Stonemaier currently does is our metal mechs for Scythe. Last year I released the individually numbered first printing in October; they quickly sold out. I didn’t make more until the following year for release around the same time. This meets the first and third conditions of a seasonal special, but it wasn’t linked thematically to autumn in any way.
Here’s a different idea: What if Euphoria–my game about running a cheery dystopian city–had alternate art boards reflecting each of the 4 seasons? Each of the boards would be printed in a limited quantity for sale during the corresponding season. If you miss out on a specific board this year, you know you’ll have another chance next year (which could be a good reason for you to subscribe to our e-newsletter).
As I write that, one aspect of it that I like is that it doesn’t create an endless opportunity for promos; rather, there’s a self-imposed, finite limit that collectors might appreciate.
Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig could have a few seasonally themed room tiles. Though I almost feel like the seasonal elements shouldn’t be randomized–they should be something that you actively choose to be on the table from the beginning of the game in the current season. Scythe factions or Tapestry civilizations could work in this way.
I’m looking at this through the lens of our games, but there are a ton of other games out there to which seasonal specials could apply.* Do you have any ideas you’d like to share? What’s your favorite seasonal special that you purchase every year?
*One challenge worth mentioning is that board games are universal, but seasons are not. I was just in New Zealand, where it’s currently springtime; in St. Louis, it’s late autumn.
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