Each week, a question is presented to the various writers of Mighty Meep. This question might be insightful or relevant to the tabletop community… Or not. Sometimes these things are simply unavoidable. We would love to hear your answers as well as any suggestions you may have for future Roundtables, either in the comments below or by shooting us an e-mail!
We each have publishers that we appreciate more than others, due to the quality of their products, their licenses, or simply good customer service. This week, we share our favorite tabletop gaming publishers in the business and why.
Ben: I can very honestly say that I don’t have a favorite publisher. The first game I bought on my own was Tide of Iron by Fantasy Flight Games and I loved the production quality and artwork, fantastic. But all my favorite games come from different publishers. AEG, Queen, Z-Man, Rio Grande, Days of Wonder, Wizards of the Coast, and Steve Jackson Games. I couldn’t even possibly pick one that I like the most.
I will say that I have been pretty disappointed in Wizards when they took over the Axis and Allies games, they cut a lot of corners. Z-Man games can sometimes have some shortcomings on production, but their games are fairly cheep so that makes sense. Queen and Days of Wonder probably have the best production quality and artwork, but they also usually come with much higher cost. It’s a toss-up.
Jen: Tough question for me since I come at not only from the viewpoint of a gamer, but as a retailer as well.
In terms of customer service you can’t beat Fantasy Flight Games and AEG. They get it. Anytime we have a problem, they solve it immediately and don’t make me feel like they think I’m trying to cheat them.
As a gamer, I love Z-Man’s choice of games to publish, but they often do low print runs for no discernible reason other than to drive prices up. Then they’ll over produce games that don’t have a lot of buzz. No idea how they’re making those decisions.
Days of Wonder is great for quality and for games that appeal to a wide range of gamers. They know their target audience and they go for it. If only they weren’t an exclusive through one distributor (same with Z-Man).
Really, if a game is good and the price is right, I don’t care who publishes it.
Neal: I tend to lean towards the consensus that any good game no matter the publisher deserves a fair shot. The company that falls into my potential favorite is definitely Paizo publishing. I get the vibe from the company that more often than not they are simply making what they want to play in a very large scale format. Not only their love for what they make, but the love they give to third party publishers helps to solidify the company in the top spot for me. The products themselves are of solid quality and frequent enough that just about anything you could want is probably on its way in the near future.
Two years ago if you’d have told me that I’d be answering that way… I’d have laughed in your face. But they’ve confronted their worst problems (poorly laid-out rulebooks and production defects) head-on, they’ve put a LOT of weight behind organized play programs for their most successful titles, and they have a dedicated and attentive customer service program. They’ve continued to excel at the things that got them on the map – their art and design department are second to none (OK, second to Queen and DoW), and they still pack a shitload of plastic into every gamebox. The cherry on top is quality intellectual properties with tight, successful rules systems backing them up. It all adds up to the total publisher package.
Josh: Paizo Publishing used to be one of my absolute favorite publishers, but they’ve waned quite a bit in my opinion. They still have the same openness and drive they’ve always had to make a quality product, but their desire to turn everything into a subscription model is… exhausting. I love the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, but turning it into a monthly subscription is still something I have a hard time getting excited about.
These days, I’m much more pleased with Fantasy Flight Games. Even though I feel a few of their practices and business models lean too heavily into the “money-grubbing” category (namely their LCGs and X-wing), the quality of not only their products but customer service as well makes them a publisher I genuinely appreciate.
This story in particular accuately sums up my feelings.