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Tasty Minstrel Games was started in early 2009, and has become a favorite game publisher for many people.

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Choosing a Manufacturer - Learn From My Expensive Mistake

Michael Mindes
United States
Mountain Green
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When people ask me what I do, I typically respond that I provide financial advice and that I publish board games... I can see the intrigue in their eyes as they look baffled and ask, "What do you mean a board game publisher?" or "How did you get into that business?"

The answers to both are simple and basic. As a board game publisher, I do the following:

*Evaluate other people's game designs for potential publication (most of this is handled by Seth Jaffee)
*License the Intellectual Property of a game designer
*Put the game through our development process (most of this is handled by Seth Jaffee)
*Get artwork made
*Get the game manufactured
*Get the game shipped to the United States
*Market the game to consumers and retailers (This is where my personal skills most help Tasty Minstrel Games)

The answer to how did you get into that business is simple, "I just decided to do it and got started."


Learn from my mistake, my very expensive mistake. I figured that if I could communicate directly with a factory in China, verify their previous products were produced well, and continually work with them that I would be able to produce my games at a lower cost and gain a competitive advantage.

Good theory, horrible reality. I will spare you the gory details, but all of the following happened:

*Seth and I flew to the warehouse to perform quality control after the fact. Cost = 2 flights, 5 hotel nights, and a week away from my day job and family.
*Hundreds of replacement parts and pieces sent out. The USPS bill was ridiculous.
*Lost about 40% of the print run to mold anyways.
*Homesteaders withstood the problems on the strength of the game.
*Terra Prime which is an excellent game could not withstand the pressures of bad manufacturing.

I wanted to puke. I wanted to quit. I considered putting all of the games on liquidation as soon as I found out and stop publishing games. It was devastating.

Imagine this, you spend the 4 years prior to starting your publishing company talking to your wife about how you want to do it. You then spend about 8 months working hard to get the artwork, legal, manufacturing, and so forth done. You spend a large percentage of your savings. Now the moment arrives when you see your games for the first time (BGG.con 2009 no less) and the games are not properly collated and they were clearly boxed up wet.

It was devastating. Then the next year, you give away the remaining stock at BGG.con (2010), because it is that or throw it in the trash. You realize that more of the games are damaged. People come up to you asking about what to do about the door prize game they got which is moldy.

It was devastating. I do not even like thinking about it now. Anyways, learn from my mistake and use what I like to call a manufacturing liaison.

Manufacturing Liaison

This is simply a company that works with a factory for you and on your behalf to produce your games for you. This will not surprise most people, but it surprised me, manufacturing is a complicated process.

Board games manufacturing is also complicated, since there are so many parts required which have to come from different places and each part can be made of different materials.

That is why you need a company which has people on the ground working with and supervising factories. Clarifying materials to be used, getting quotes, coordinating shipping, and so forth.

The value that they bring and reduced risk of problems is worth the premium paid for their services. I have used both:

*Panda Game Manufacturing
*Grand Prix International

And I am very pleased with the results from both.


Please, learn from my mistakes and go straight to a manufacturing liaison for the production of your games. It will cost you more up front, but in the long run will cost less to pay them for their expertise and improved quality!
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Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:00 pm
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