Gainesville Gamers Guild - 30 Days of Gaming - Day 29
The root of all evil ...but you can call me cookie.
United States
Gainesville
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Two more (and then my surprise for day 31.) Here ya go guys feel free to be liberal on this one. Be it a direct interaction or just impression from buying their games.

What is your best or worst experience with a game publisher?

Gainesville Gamers Guild - 30 Days of Gaming - Metalist
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1. Board Game Publisher: GMT Games
The root of all evil ...but you can call me cookie.
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So this is weird but...this question was already on my list and it was one I really wanted to get to. However with the turn of events this week it's interesting to note that GMT Games get's my nod without a doubt.

Again this year the company is running their "Tough Economy" program. If you have lost your job since Nov. of last year and remain unemployed they are sending out 2 free games with proof of your situation. I contacted the company and gave them my info that I lost my job in April and they are shipping a couple games to me. From their catalog I really wanted Circus Train but that's not in stock yet so I'll have to figure something out for that one. This means within a couple weeks they'll be shipping me Urban Sprawl and Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan. It was a tough call on the 2nd title.

Thanks GMT! You guys rock.

*note* I passed on Winds of Plunder ...though I still want to play Conquest of Paradise.
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2. Board Game Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Robert Teves II
United States
Gainesville
Florida
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Uhh.

I was missing a thing.

They sent it to me.

Yeah.
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3. Board Game Publisher: Against the Odds
Gary Phillips
United States
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First off, I have to disqualify Multi-Man Publishing. I've playtested for them, I've packed games in their warehouse, I know their children's names, I hang out with them at cons. A swell bunch of guys, and quick to do due diligence on customer support issues. Though they don't have a tough times program.

I'll go not with bad, but with weirdest: ATO is a wargaming magazine, published roughly four times a year, with a game in it. The ATO folks have pretty good customer service, though they are tone deaf on some issues (like the inclusion of a very irksome columnist, which I know has some people swearing never to subscribe).

For those of you not familiar with CSW, it's divided into a large number of folders, or topics if you prefer. The game publishers each get a folder, each game can have a folder, then there are general folders of a variety of flavors. Plus gamers can keep their own individual folders. The blogs, as they are called (they really aren't blogs, but no matter), are generally considered 'free-fire' zones. Nothing stops a game's fans from responding in the blogs (if they have access), but few publishers bother to try and police the frontier, realizing it as mostly a fruitless pursuit.

Not ATO, though. ATO is one publisher that is persistently name searching themselves and their products. Mention an ATO game in passing in a blog, and start counting the seconds until a follow up post from an ATO employee appears. At first it was funny, but after a while it grew obnoxious, until you didn't want to post anything about ATO, because doing so would involve ATO staff in a discussion you just wanted to have with your friends (which is why you were having it in a blog and not the company folder in the first place.) It got to the point that several blogs started banning access to ATO all together.

I was on one such blog when I noted in passing that my counters to Storm Over Taierzhuang were slightly out of alignment. Not enough that I wanted replacement counters (or I would have asked ATO for them), just slightly off center.

A couple of weeks later I received an envelope containing a new set of SoT counters, and a print out of a screen shot of my post, explaining that while ATO didn't understand why there were blocked from accessing that particular blog (and didn't mention how they got my post) but they weren't going to let me be slightly unhappy with my counters...
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4. Board Game Publisher: Reiver Games
 
Mike Jones
United States
Gainesville
Florida
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This is a tough one. I've had some good experiences and some not so good ones.

But, to go counter to my current mood and to continue with my 'attempted' BGG Motto of if you can't say something nice, don't say it at all (I know I have trouble sometimes), I'll talk about the good.

Jay was really nice and sent me a few games to demo at cons. But, that was kinda within his course of business and then there was the expectation that I'd demo those a few times for him (which I did).

So, I'll have to pick Reiver Games. I still have an affinity for those hand made games. Too bad he didn't make it with 'the big boys'. When I got my copy of It's Alive!, I was too happy with a couple of the screens and mentioned it to him. Less then a week latter he had made and posted me new ones.

Once he went into production mode, he was always quick with a response. Too bad I didn't make it into the credits of either game we play tested for him.
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5. Board Game Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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This is an unusual hobby, in that we have a relatively high rate of quality assurance "mis-fires" with things missing in games, mis-printed, etc. But yet publishers are by and large fast to respond and make things right.

I've had good experiences with "things made right" by Rio Grande Games and Asmodee. Z-man is hit and miss; he usually replies to emails literally within minutes. But, he could take better care sending things. I got my Rattus Essen Bonus cardboard sheet in a large envelope that did not have "do not bend" written on it, and the mail man promptly crammed it into my tiny mailbox. Never had anything wrong with a Days of Wonder game so never even had to contact their customer service.

But far and above everyone else in good customer service has been FFG. Other publishers might not even reply to my email, but, I do get the "fix" in the mail within a week or two. And when I get it, sometimes it's in a padded envelope, sometimes not. As long as it's in good shape, that's fine with me, I don't expect more.
FFG not only always emails back right away, but takes meticulous care in packaging it well. I needed a replacement Beowulf figure and they sent it not only in a bubble wrap envelope but within that, the figure was in a protective "cocoon" of cardboard and duct tape. And there was a personal note written on a cool FFG postcard that I now use as a bookmark.

Now, I realize that most of this excellent customer service was directly handled by Thaadd, who was the one-woman customer service there for 5 years. Now that she's left, hopefully FFG will encourage her replacements to provide the same high level of service.

Oh, I just remembered one negative mark on FFG: I emailed them a rules question (and they specifically encourage rules questions and have a submission page for them), at least 1.5 years ago, and never heard back from them.
 
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6. Board Game Publisher: Z-Man Games, Inc.
Corey Ellis
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Gainesville
Florida
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This one is a worste experience. I recently bought LifeBoats. Each player color comes with

1. A boat of that color
2. A set of cards
3. several regular dudes/meeples and a single captain meeple
4. A PLAYER MARKER.

Unfortunately the player marker is almost exactly the same size as the little slots that hold the doilies / dudes / captains in each boat....soooooooo.....the yellow boat (MY color no less) came with a green player marker wedged into one of the spots. It was wedged so much that i could not remove it without damaging the boat...i honestly could care less whether the player marker is damaged.

Well this isnt a big deal. Crap like this happens all the time in shipping and in distribution. So I emailed Z Man. I guess what happened is Z Man flipped open to his manual and looked right at the included pieces section...inconveniently it does not list the player marker. So I get an email back insisting that I must be wrong because the player marker is not a piece included in this particular game...I guess they didnt notice the picture I attached to my original email showing the wedged piece along side the other player markers of similar size etc nor the specific section in the rule book's setup saying "place your player marker in front of you blah blah etc".

I email him back expressing this. He emails me again saying that I, the user who has in his hand the broken pieces and manual, am still wrong. His solution is that I must have a broken captain's butt stuck in there...so he bags up a note saying this and mails to me the following.

1. a RED boat.
2. two flood markers (used in the game...wtf do i need these?) but i wasnt complaining because extras are extras i guess
3. 2 green captains (now i have 3 full working captains)

I quickly email him back saying that he sent the wrong stuff and that I still need a player marker and a YELLOW boat. In the mean time, I tell him, I have cracked the other yellow boat in half to get out the green marker and am now using my extra unneccesary red boat as a yellow boat by putting a yellow sticker on it....and I attach the tackiest most obnoxious picture of this that I can.

He never responds...weeks later....I email him again...the exact same email....I figure he didnt get it once....so i sent the email 3 times...in an hour.

He finally emailed me back saying that he got my email and would be fixing the problem. He promptly proceeded to never mail me my replacement pieces. I bought a second copy of the game at a local shop, swapped out the pieces, and returned it.
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