Wotan Games was born in the back office of the London games retailer Games World, which operated from King Street in Hammersmith from 1984 to 1995. At the time, It seemed a natural evolution from selling board games, RPG and computer games to designing them, and that's just what we did. There was a group of enthusiastic knowledgeable games players around the business and we gradually started to playtest new designs alongside playing existing products we were selling.
The first design to get to publication was Sorcerer King, published in 1986. This game sold its print run quite quickly and the next design to be ready was King Arthur & The Knights of the Round Table. By this time a German publisher had made contact and this game was published in a German edition by Laurin under the title Konig Artus und die Ritter der Tafelrunde as well as an english language edition in 1988. By this time, Games World had branched out into periodicals and was publishing two monthly titles, Games Review Monthly, a news stand magazine and Games Trade Monthly, a newspaper distributed to the UK games trade.
This is when things really got motoring as by the time of the next game, a Swedish company (Lancelot Games) and a French Company (Oriflame) had joined the publishing group and Excalibur was printed in 1989 and distributed in four language editions as well as distribution in the US via Iron Crown Enterprises. Three more games, V.I.P.E.R and Flux and Robin Hood were published under these arrangements. At about this time the Wotan Games products were amongst the best selling board games and regularly featured in the Virgin Games best sellers tables.
But by the mid 90's had life started to become difficult. Our German publisher, Laurin, had folded and both Lancelot Games & Oriflame had contracted considerably and withdrawn from the publishing group. Despite having a stable of proven products, publishing for the UK market only was barely viable and our last, and in many ways best playing, product, Merlin was published under the most trying of circumstances. Only a thousand copies were printed and although these sold quite quickly, the project lost money despite very obvious economies in production and artwork. Merlin was the last of the line for this incarnation of Wotan games. To say this is a shame is an understatement. Wotan had served its apprenticeship, published games of varying degrees of complexity and playability and at the very moment that board game sales were on a steep downward slope we had a bunch of designs that combined much simpler rule sets with greatly enhanced game play. Such is life.
We were not alone, though, as by that time, most major publishers of hobby board games had either given up or were existing on thin air and charity. The world, it seemed, had turned its back on boardgames. This was the period when the internet was starting to change the world and particularly the way business was going to be done. Multi-player on-line games and games consoles sucked the life out of human to human gaming and many of us simply walked away.