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posted by Fnord666 on Monday February 12, @06:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the for-two-or-more-players dept.

Long time board game publisher Mayfair Games (English-language publisher for Settlers of Catan and many more) has shut down.

All of their games have been sold to Asmodee North America, who also own Fantasy Flight Games, Z-Man Games, Rebel, Edge Entertainment, and a host of other board game companies they've picked up over the years.

Source

[Ed Note - Asmodee NA also picked up Lookout Games at the same time. Lookout was the publisher of Agricola and Caverna.]

Related: Asmodee Acquires Lookout Games and Mayfair Games


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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 12, @08:08AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 12, @08:08AM (#636606)

    Discuss real news, not bullshit

    https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=18/02/09/1811245 [soylentnews.org]

    Bruce Perens Wants to Anti-SLAPP GRSecurity's Brad Spengler With $670,000 in Legal Bills

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Mykl on Monday February 12, @11:59PM

      by Mykl (1112) on Monday February 12, @11:59PM (#636885)

      Discuss real news, not bullshit

      But why would you want to talk about something as trivial as legal bills when there are children dying in Africa?

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Monday February 12, @10:21AM (9 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday February 12, @10:21AM (#636620) Journal

    Video games are tough competition for board games. There's been some convergence, lot of board games adapted into computer games, but sometimes the format really gets in the way.

    Many board games don't translate well, and sometimes it's because the game was a lot more bookkeeping work than actual play. Old Avalon Hill board games such as Source of the Nile and Rail Baron are particularly prone to that. Then there's the somewhat infamous games of Advanced Squad Leader and Star Fleet Battles which have very long rulebooks. Of course, computers are great at removing all the bookkeeping work and rapidly checking rules. Rail Baron, simple though it is, takes about 2 hours to play. Much of that time is looking up payout amounts and new destinations in the provided charts, fumbling with paper money, and rolling dice. Computerize all that, and the play time drops to 30 minutes. One person playing solitaire against computer opponents (Rail Baron Player) can finish a game in under 15 minutes.

    Another problem, particularly acute with Mayfair's railroad board games, is the very linear, turn based play progression. There is really no reason for this lack of parallelism-- it's like running a footrace by having only one athlete on the track at a time-- other than the limitations of the board game format. That's why a typical Mayfair railroad game takes 1 hour per player in the game, and it need not.

    Board game developers have noticed these problems and gotten somewhat more innovative, but need to do more. European board game designers proved more adaptable, and have been doing better than American ones, with the exception of Wizards of the Coast with their very, very expensive collectible card game, Magic the Gathering, that made them a huge pile of money. (Can you afford to sink $10k into a card game? No? Then stay far away from MtG!) An excellent game from Germany, variously called 6 Nimmt, Category 5, Slide 5, and a few other names, is a card game that unlike the classic games of Bridge, Hearts, Spades, Rummy and heck, kids games such as Crazy 8s, is not individual turn taking. Instead, everyone chooses a card to play, then when everyone is finished choosing, all the played cards are revealed and processed. Thus a 10 player game is nearly as fast as a 4 player game.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by TheRaven on Monday February 12, @11:16AM (6 children)

      by TheRaven (270) on Monday February 12, @11:16AM (#636631) Journal
      I've not plated Catan, but a few friends who have describe it as a single-player game that several people play at once. The big advantage that board games have over computer games is the social[1] aspect. Even when you're playing a computer game in a multiplayer mode, your attention is mostly on the computer and not the other people and it's much harder to play with a glass of wine / beer and have small digressions when people talk to each other about non-game things. I got the impression that Catan didn't really capitalise on this and instead encouraged players to play in their own corner of the board and ignore each other.

      I've enjoyed Pandemic and Dead of Winter a lot recently. Both are cooperative, so you have to talk to the other players to discuss strategy and you all share the enjoyment of winning or the frustration of the game defeating you (very common in Pandemic!). We got Pandemic Legacy for Christmas though, and it could really benefit from some computer assistance. The game is supposed to be played by sticking stickers to bits of the game, but then you can only play it through from start to end once (which took us about two days) and there's no replay ability. Instead, we used blutack to stick the things in and were able to reset the game to its initial state at the end and replay with friends (it turns out the two-player mode is a lot easier than four-player!) I'd love for this to come with an app for keeping track of most of the game state, rather than requiring all of the destructive operations.

      [1] In the old fashioned meaning of the word, meaning involving interactions with other humans, not the new meaning of giving all of your personal data to marketing companies.

      --
      sudo mod me up
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by bobthecimmerian on Monday February 12, @12:33PM (2 children)

        by bobthecimmerian (6834) on Monday February 12, @12:33PM (#636659)

        Catan is as social as Monopoly or Rummy or many other games.

        I have a lot of friends that play board games pretty often. So even with the wild popularity of computer games, I'm surprised by this. On the other hand, there is a lot of good competition. My kids and I play the Dungeons and Dragons parody board game "Munchkin" and a handful of its variants plus "King of Tokyo", "Quirkle", "Life", "Puerto Rico", and "Small World". Catan has a lot of competition, and I don't think any of those others are made by Mayfair games.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Monday February 12, @02:19PM (1 child)

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 12, @02:19PM (#636683)

          "Sheriff of Nottingham" yet another super fun game to play with the kids, and every dollar spent at Arcane Wonders is a dollar that did not keep Mayfair Games alive.

          The barrier to entry for mid-level euro games is extremely low, so its a hard market to sell in, as shown by the failure of Mayfair.

          In the long run I wouldn't be surprised to see kickstarter replace the concept of publishing house. How exactly would "Card Rogue" or more specifically the designers of the game, have benefited by working with Mayfair instead of going kickstarter? I've bought a lot of paper from J Evans Payne WRT Pathfinder RPG books, kickstarter works pretty well for that too. Everyone in the general field seems to be making a lot of money, well, except for the publishing houses...

          • (Score: 2) by bobthecimmerian on Monday February 12, @08:07PM

            by bobthecimmerian (6834) on Monday February 12, @08:07PM (#636808)

            Good point. I've only backed a few Kickstarter board game projects, but so far the results have been good. I remember Zeppelin Attacks! from Evil Hat Productions, I haven't played it much but it's fun when I do bring it out.

      • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday February 12, @04:37PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Monday February 12, @04:37PM (#636729)

        I've not plated Catan, but a few friends who have describe it as a single-player game that several people play at once. The big advantage that board games have over computer games is the social[1] aspect. Even when you're playing a computer game in a multiplayer mode, your attention is mostly on the computer and not the other people and it's much harder to play with a glass of wine / beer and have small digressions when people talk to each other about non-game things. I got the impression that Catan didn't really capitalise on this and instead encouraged players to play in their own corner of the board and ignore each other.

        No. Catan is all about trading commodities with other players and jockeying to build in prime locations on the board. If you're looking for a "single-player multiplayer" game, try Agricola sometime. You each literally have your own board and are just seeing who can optimize their farm for the highest number of victory points. Most SPMP ones like that have a common market that affects the value of everybody's commodities, but not all.

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 2) by The Archon V2.0 on Monday February 12, @08:05PM (1 child)

        by The Archon V2.0 (3887) on Monday February 12, @08:05PM (#636805)

        > (it turns out the two-player mode is a lot easier than four-player!)

        Since it's a legacy game with a plot, it's also a lot easier if you already know what's coming. I know for a fact that there's things I'd do differently in both Seasons 1 and 2 if I played them again.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by TheRaven on Tuesday February 13, @10:06AM

          by TheRaven (270) on Tuesday February 13, @10:06AM (#637057) Journal
          We played in two-player mode first and then in 4-player mode, so your explanation doesn't make sense: the first play-through, we won almost every month first time and won every month. The second time, with four people, we are about half way through and have lost one month and only won two on the first try. I hadn't noticed that Season 2 was out though, so thanks for that!
          --
          sudo mod me up
    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday February 12, @02:07PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 12, @02:07PM (#636678)

      Hmm mayfair rail games are complicated, I reach across the desk to pick up the manuals for Pendragon a COIN series game, 44 pages of rule book, 72 pages of playbook, about a dozen pages of cardboard cheat flowcharts, 83 playing cards, hundreds of meeples. This is still a lightweight game compared to war in the pacific or steel wolves with its expansion both probably above 5000 counters. There are of course scaling issues such that you build a company around selling 100M copies of Catan and you're dead if you sell 5000 copies of Pendragon, although if you build a company around selling 2000 copies of Panzer or MBT and suddenly you sell 5000 copies of Pendragon then suddenly you're a rich business genius, so there is an issue of perspective.

      For me its resolution. I'm on the far extreme curve of spending money on monitors because I make my money looking at my monitors so I'm not like one of those gamer guys sitting on a flipped over 5 gallon bucket with an old 640x480 CRT and $2000 of video cards and a bare 60 watt light bulb hanging from the ceiling of moms basement. So I have multiple 2560x1440 on my desk and it looks beautiful although spending $2K on monitors was not enjoyable. However the 4x8 sheet of plywood in the basement that gets broken out for bigger games is 8 feet times 12 inches/ft times 300 dots per inch thats a hair under 30K pixels resolution... Can't buy any display hardware like that, anywhere. The game itself is visual art. I don't want to look at the Mona Lisa thru a magnifying glass or a little blurry icon or on my phone screen, I wanna see the big epic thing.

      Another problem is Euro positioning and the sunset of hipsterism and at least the sunset of hipster board game playing. So it was a thing to go to the board game bar and sip a PBR while trash talking everything not hipster while playing Catan but those days are over. At home with friends or family I could play hello kitty uno with my daughter the inveterate gambler or pathfinder or Pendragon with friends or adult family, so where does middle strength euros fit in? Oh they don't? Bye bye.

      BTW if you want to play a crazy party game that does not involve 19 people waiting for the 20th to perform their turn, there's "easy" games like Werewolf and its derivatives where the action doesn't stop (particularly one night werewolf so nobody has to sit around) or if you have two teams of people there's games like space cadets dice duel which is amazingly fun and asynchronous (yes physically or mentally faster people will win, assuming they have any idea what they're doing and can cooperate...) I wish dice duel were as bit of a hit as something like federation commander or SFB was in the old days. Imagine a fleet battle with glorious 500 dies rolling on the tables...

      If you want to see a business strategy in gaming although not specifically board gaming, try warhammer 40k which is pretty much the model railroading of wargames, in that the hobby is so utterly huge and varied the odds of getting two people into the same sub-hobby together is difficult, the fighters and painters don't get along with each other or with the collectors, and the readers don't care about the physical world at all, etc. Much like amateur radio or model railroading, the hobby is so huge if you think you can identify and explain and understand it all, you're probably wrong.

      An interesting non-collectible (sort of) card game was good old Dominion. I have a literal suitcase full of cards from a decade ago. I should play that this weekend, its fun. To some extent that's the problem with board gaming vs video gaming. You can sell pong and shoot the pixel hundreds of times as technology changes but how do you stay in business year to year when my "Star Fleet Battles" in the basement plays as well today as it did in the 1980s? How about Puerto Rico is that enough of a classic that nobody remembers it? How about a nice game of Labyrinth? I enjoy this nostalgia. But the problem with me playing SFB against my son next weekend is Games Workshop needs his dollars today to keep the W40K scene alive and if he's playing a physical relic from the 80s that isn't helping sales of new stuff in 2018.

      I guess I'd summarize this was a Euro mfgr scaled to the Euro bubble size, and its true that the Euro era was a very interesting fad where millions of normies played Carcassonne, but they only played for a little while, and now its back to gaming as usual. They'll always be euros and I'll be one of the guys having to learn pidgin German to play the next era equivalent of Powergrid or whatever, but the days of selling 25 expansions to Carcassonne to millions of players are, at least temporarily, over.

    • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday February 12, @04:30PM

      by tangomargarine (667) on Monday February 12, @04:30PM (#636725)

      with the exception of Wizards of the Coast with their very, very expensive collectible card game, Magic the Gathering, that made them a huge pile of money. (Can you afford to sink $10k into a card game? No? Then stay far away from MtG!)

      Hey now -- you're only going to spend that much money if you're one of the 100 or so people still playing Vintage. A top-tier Modern deck is only going to set you back like a max of 3k. And Standard is like $400 a year top-end.

      That being said, yes it is a money pit, and yes WotC pretty clearly likes printing money from the way they go about it.

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by xorsyst on Monday February 12, @10:25AM (2 children)

    by xorsyst (1372) on Monday February 12, @10:25AM (#636622)

    How much was Mayfair sold for? 1 Ore, 1 Sheep and 1 Wheat?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 12, @04:24PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 12, @04:24PM (#636723)

      wood for sheep

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Apparition on Monday February 12, @12:16PM (1 child)

    by Apparition (6835) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 12, @12:16PM (#636649)

    More important than Settlers of Catan to me, Mayfair Games was responsible for the single best tabletop role-playing game period, DC Heroes [wikipedia.org]. It uses a system that easily lets players play characters like Superman and Batman side-by-side. It's been out of print since the late '90s, but I still own it and play it to this day. There's been dozens of tabletop super-hero RPGs since, but none better IMO.

    • (Score: 2) by arulatas on Monday February 12, @02:59PM

      by arulatas (3600) on Monday February 12, @02:59PM (#636700)

      Agree completely. Table lookup was the only slow part of the game. Created an easy app to do table lookup with plugging in 4-8 numbers.

      --
      ----- 10 turns around
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