I really don’t plan to make posts as frequently as I have been this week, but it’s been a pretty singular one for FAB news with major bombshells dropping on a near-daily basis. For those who haven’t see it, Monarch has been delayed a month, until the end of April (pertinent listing at the bottom of the linked page). This information was sort of circulating around back channels earlier in the day as some images of retailers’ orders to distributes featuring an April release date were exchanged. Early today (1-2am EST), some users on the Discord noted that the links above had changed to reflect an April release date with no overt announcement.
We can’t be sure precisely when this change happened, but it was quite recent, as I linked a Discord user to the MON splash page a couple days ago and it still said March. I think there is some potential that this was a response to them knowing the information would leak out from retailers to the player base at some point. Perhaps this stealth update is them laying the groundwork, and we’ll get a proper announcement in the next few days. The big question is “why the delay in the first place?” My initial thoughts are that there are two likely possibilities – either this is a logistics delay that is out of LSS’ hands or this is the result of a decision they’ve made.
Scenario one is simply that, due to new information from Cartamundi or a global supply chain partner, they’ve been informed that their order isn’t going to be ready to hit shelves on the initial March timeline. If so, they’re probably reacting to this as we speak and reevaluating their approach. If this is the case, it is what it is. Nothing really changes for current players except they get more rabid for the set, because, come on, none of us are leaving over a one month delay. I do think the main danger here is that Unlimited ARC and WTR sell out months prior to the end of April and there is absolutely no sealed product of any sort for new players for a period of months. We did this once post-wave one of Crucible of War, but I think you can only get away with it so many times. A shortage would also spike UNL box prices (temporarily) on the secondary market and mess with singles prices in the short term. I have no idea how likely this is, as we know nothing of how much UNL was printed. UNL WTR was out of stock for a spell, but is now readily available and UNL ARC is out of stock instead. This seems to indicate there is more product and it’s moving through the supply chain rather than already being truly scarce, but time will tell. From a finance end, the main thing to remember is that more UNL will come eventually in any case, so don’t start investing in sealed UNL.
The second scenario is that this delay is an overt choice from LSS either to facilitate the printing of a bigger run on MON (potentially in response to the third major catalyzing event) or to allow a more seamless transition between first edition and Unlimited MON. We know from Alpha Investments that Monarch was already ordered several weeks ago, but we don’t know if UNL and first edition were ordered simultaneously or exactly how LSS will be handling UNL rollouts going forward. My most optimistic reading of this is that LSS is expanding 1st edition printings to meet expected demand and keep it on shelves for more than a couple weeks. I’m less enthused about a plan that has MON selling out in a couple weeks with UNL rolling out right on its heels because I don’t like this sort of 30 days or less for first edition window, which I think can be exploited too easily by unscrupulous parties to prevent players from getting first edition at anything approaching MSRP, but we’ll see. Even if that latter case is how this particular set is handed, ensuring that some version of MON is available for more than a month is going to be essential to the game’s growth in 2021. Honestly, while I have a clear preference between the two “this is a strategic delay by LSS” scenarios, either one is somewhat reassuring in terms of them reacting to the insane demand they’ve generated. Conversely, a shipping or printing delay doesn’t really tell us much of anything.
*Header Image – Monarch Logo by Legend Story Studios, designer unknown