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FRED Distribution Acquires Face2Face Games

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Publisher: FRED Distribution, Inc.
U.S. publisher FRED Distribution, which releases games under the Eagle Games and Gryphon Games brands, has acquired U.S. publisher Face2Face Games from company president Larry Whalen.

Face2Face Games debuted in 2003 with a new version of Sid Sackson's I'm the Boss! – previously released only in German by Schmidt Spiele – then followed up with Sackson's Sleuth and a "new" Sackson design, the word game BuyWord that had never been published during his lifetime. At Spiel 2004, Face2Face released the original game Boomtown from Bruno Cathala and Bruno Faidutti to good reception.

Not all of the early releases from Face2Face were received warmly in the game community. Warriors, which originated as a Risk card game from designers Richard Borg and Alan R. Moon, and Joe Huber's Ice Cream both received so-so response.

This pattern of hit and miss continued over the next several years for Face2Face. More worrying for gamers were announcements of titles that never came to fruition, such as an expansion deck for Boomtown and an English-language edition of Das Amulett – called Wizard's Brew – from Alan R. Moon and Aaron Weissblum. For example, here's a note I wrote on the Geek in April 2006, roughly one year after the new edition was announced:

As far as I know, the rules are not changing other than clarifications on when you can do what. Wizard's Brew will include an expanded number of spell cards, although I'm not sure exactly how many more. The artwork on the cards is superb, and I can't wait to see the finished product!
(Disclosure: I shopped at Larry Whalen's retail store in the mid-2000s, and I edited rules for a number of Face2Face titles, including the spell cards and rules in the as-yet-unpublished Wizard's Brew.)

At Spiel 2007, Face2Face released Cheeky Monkey and Moai, the last two titles to appear from the company until a reprint of I'm the Boss! – which had been out of print for a couple of years – finally hit shelves in September 2010, with FRED Distribution handling the game's distribution.

Board Game Publisher: Face2Face Games
As FRED's Managing Director Keith Blume notes in a press release accompanying news of the acquisition, the two companies have a history together that dates back far before 2010. "We have worked with Larry almost from the moment we moved into publishing, so when this opportunity presented itself, we felt that the Face2Face product line would be an excellent addition to our portfolio of games," he says. "In addition, we have a great working relationship with Larry, and we are going to be working with him on some of our future releases, including some that he had in the queue for Face2Face Games."

Larry Whalen has this to say in the press release: "When we made the decision to sell Face2Face Games, the first company we approached was FRED Distribution. I have always enjoyed working with the team at FRED, and I think they are well positioned to grow the Face2Face product line. We are both very excited about several of the projects we have underway, so I think 2011 and 2012 will see a lot of exciting releases come from our collective efforts."

No word yet from FRED as to which games those "exciting releases" might be, but Blume did note that the following Face2Face titles are still available: I'm the Boss!, Warriors, Warriors: Dragon Hordes, Boomtown, Ice Cream, Genesis, Cheeky Monkey and Bucket Brigade. He added that Can't Stop and BuyWord will both return to print, in different formats from the Face2Face versions, before the end of 2011.
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