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Subject: Mayfair: A Memoriam rss

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Beau Boutwell
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For those who haven't heard, one of the giants of the industry decided to close its doors. Mayfair Games sold its assets to Asmodee North America and concluded operations. Mayfair announced their decision via social media and I, like many others, was completely caught off-guard. Mayfair had this to say...



Unlike many gamers the world over, my first experience with Mayfair games was not the mega-hit Catan but rather the fantasy-themed crayon-rails game, Iron Dragon. My friends and I spent dozens of hours drawing rail lines across the fantastical land of Iron Dragon, delivering scrolls, potions, tobacco, and dragons! It was so popular that three of my friends owned it all at the same time. As time moved on, so did we and I'm in a place now where I know no one who owns the game, but I picked up another version, Empire Builder so that has sated my need for games involving crayons.

courtesy of GordoMG

Then came Catan, or Settlers as we called it for years. My then wife and I played with family and friends and loved the game. She asked for the game for her birthday and so I bought it for her and wanted it to be special.

courtesy of Gonzaga

When she left me, she kept the game. Oh well... cry

No one can deny the watershed point that Klaus Teuber's deconstructed game has had, is still having, and most likely will continue to have on the board game scene here in North America. Catan offered the trading aspect that I craved from our long sessions of Avalon Hill's Advanced Civilization late into the night. We moved on to our favorite expansion, Catan: Cities & Knights which made a relatively simple game even more "euro." I still enjoy the game and will use it as a gateway game as often as allowed. There's nothing like playing "Road Building" from your hand to take the "Longest Road" tile and then flipping over two hidden VP cards to blitz-win the game, leaving my friends stunned in silence, before a cacophony of "You lucky son of a gun!"

Still, the name Mayfair didn't mean anything to me until I picked up the seminal classic from Reiner Knizia, Tigris & Euphrates.

courtesy of KeyserSoze

I played the app, first, with a recommendation from a good friend. I found a copy of the game and immediately, my friends were hooked. We played time and time again. Just when I collected the perfect tiles in my hand, sprang my trap and took that much-desired temple, only to have the player to my left start a revolt and me with no temples and flush my entire southern sector! Curses!!! To this day, this is one of the few games where one of my friends got up and walked out the door in disgust at winning the battle, but losing the war, leaving the rest of us sitting in shock. surprise

With this addition, the name Mayfair became synonymous to me with quality games from Europe being brought across the pond to our shores. My collection continued to grow with titles like Steam

courtesy of haccpmonkey

I struggled with this game for some time with the whole, "borrow money to make money" theme that accompanies so many of Wallace's works. Still, while not as pretty as Railways of the World, the addition of the expansion, Steam Barons, made this game better than what it already was.

Soon came additions like The Pillars of the Earth, Domaine, and Lords of Vegas. My friends all had staples like Agricola, Caverna: The Cave Farmers, and Le Havre. Great designers' names were stacked up on my local FLGS shelves with a company logo emblazoned on the box, Mayfair Games.

I tweeted my appreciation for them when I saw the announcement a couple of days ago.



Like many of us, I continue, here at BGG, to show my respect and admiration for Mayfair Games. Their loss will be felt, even though their legacy hopefully continues on with Asmodee North America. Like I said in the tweet, my life and my friends and family's lives have been made fuller because of the legacy that this company has brought forth to the gaming world.

You will be missed and we wish all of those affected by the closure of one of the great gaming companies the best as they continue their lives. May you all find fulfillment in what you do as much as you've filled all of our lives with joy.

Thanks so much, Mayfair Games. Farewell.
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Ryan Neumeyer
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An awesome progression of playing awesome games from an awesome company. Thanks for the write up. So many of my games are Mayfair titles, and nearly all of them are still in circulation on game nights. I didn't even know train games were a thing outside of TTR until I stumbled upon Silverton and some of the crayon rail games. I owe a lot of fun evenings to Mayfair.
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Rich Shipley
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Nice post. Hope you don't mind me adding my memories here also.

I've played their crayon rails games since the 80s. Eurorails was my first and still my favorite. I've played nearly all of them and ran the tournament at WBC for a few years. I hope the series finds a new home.

Their 18xx titles (1856 & 1870) kept the series going in America since 1830 never got a followup from Avalon Hill. The production of those were very well done as well. They also kept Cosmic Encounter in print for a while.

In the mid 90s, I joined a club that was playing recent games from Germany, including Settlers from Kosmos. A rep from Mayfair was at a local convention and that was Jay Tummelson, who went on to start Rio Grande Games. He was demoing some new games from German designers (I still have some of those early ones), but we wanted to know if the were going to pick up Settlers for the US. They started by importing the German version and including the rules translations before making their own. I've run tournaments at a couple conventions and Mayfair pitched in some swag to give away a few times.

Sorry to see another old-school game company go away, but I guess all things pass with time. Here's to the blue shield!


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Beau Boutwell
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skaanimal22 wrote:
An awesome progression of playing awesome games from an awesome company. Thanks for the write up. So many of my games are Mayfair titles, and nearly all of them are still in circulation on game nights. I didn't even know train games were a thing outside of TTR until I stumbled upon Silverton and some of the crayon rail games. I owe a lot of fun evenings to Mayfair.


Silverton recently popped up on my radar and I've been intrigued by the game. It looks a little bland for the era, but I see that there are some die-hard fans of the game. Do you have any thoughts on it? Seems to be another great title from our friends at Mayfair.

courtesy of mpalframan
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Thanks Mayfair for Nusfjord. I'm enjoying this one quite a bit and it's a nice production.
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David Blizzard
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My first Mayfair games I played back in the early 80's. Friends of mine owned (and still own) a gaming store. We would play various games while waiting for the various RPGs sessions to start.

One day, some had picked up two Mayfair card games; Encounter and Family Business. Both were pretty quick plays. We would play them at various times through the years.

I have played many Mayfair games since then. However, they are still teh first games I think of when I hear of Mayfair Games.
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Beau Boutwell
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blackmeeple wrote:
Thanks Mayfair for Nusfjord. I'm enjoying this one quite a bit and it's a nice production.


I know that Nusfjord was one of the most anticipated games from Essen, last year. This, to me, only proves the consistent quality of games produced by Mayfair over their lifetime.

courtesy of jipipu
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Mike Pranno
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Beauboutwell wrote:
skaanimal22 wrote:
An awesome progression of playing awesome games from an awesome company. Thanks for the write up. So many of my games are Mayfair titles, and nearly all of them are still in circulation on game nights. I didn't even know train games were a thing outside of TTR until I stumbled upon Silverton and some of the crayon rail games. I owe a lot of fun evenings to Mayfair.


Silverton recently popped up on my radar and I've been intrigued by the game. It looks a little bland for the era, but I see that there are some die-hard fans of the game. Do you have any thoughts on it? Seems to be another great title from our friends at Mayfair.

courtesy of mpalframan

I like a lot of the newer stuff that Mayfair had a hand in producing, but Silverton is still my favorite.
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Dave Lartigue
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Settlers of Catan, Steam and Tigris and Euphrates alone would be enough to get them in the hall of fame forever.
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Ron Lacer
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rshipley wrote:



Yikes! Crayon rails games stored vertically? I take it you don't use the chit storage inserts?
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Lots of great Mayfair games mentioned on this thread already.

Here’s a few more great games they published

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
Modern Art
Saboteur
Entdecker
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Rich Shipley
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Legomancer wrote:
Settlers of Catan, Steam and Tigris and Euphrates alone would be enough to get them in the hall of fame forever.


All originally published by others, but I appreciate that they made them widely available in the US. Their main original contribution is the Empire Builder series.

rocksnrolls wrote:
Yikes! Crayon rails games stored vertically? I take it you don't use the chit storage inserts?


I have a stash of old Avalon Hill counter trays that I use for the load chips. They lock closed so the game can be stored vertically.
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Ryan Neumeyer
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mcpranno wrote:
Beauboutwell wrote:
skaanimal22 wrote:
An awesome progression of playing awesome games from an awesome company. Thanks for the write up. So many of my games are Mayfair titles, and nearly all of them are still in circulation on game nights. I didn't even know train games were a thing outside of TTR until I stumbled upon Silverton and some of the crayon rail games. I owe a lot of fun evenings to Mayfair.


Silverton recently popped up on my radar and I've been intrigued by the game. It looks a little bland for the era, but I see that there are some die-hard fans of the game. Do you have any thoughts on it? Seems to be another great title from our friends at Mayfair.

courtesy of mpalframan

I like a lot of the newer stuff that Mayfair had a hand in producing, but Silverton is still my favorite.

To be completely honest, I've only ever played it 2 players, so it goes a lot quicker than what the box reports, but the market is just so cool, the use of seasons, and passenger vs freight trains make the game a complete winner in my book. I think I'm going on to go call my brother in law right now and see if he's available to play.
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Jordan S.
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A very sad day, indeed. I'll always remember Mayfair best for their run of Cosmic Encounter and the DC Heroes Role Playing Game, both of which were very influential for me.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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It appears that the two earliest Mayfair titles in my collection are Family Business and Sanctuary, both published in 1982.

Hard for me to grasp how many years ago that works out to; seems like such a short time. I had a son born that same year, and a daughter who was 9 years old and a seasoned gamer already. She, my wife and I put a lot of gangsters on the wall playing Family Business in those days.
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Laurentiu Cristofor
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If the publisher of Catan needs to close doors, the market must be pretty tough.

One of my favorite games in their catalog: Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix.
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Rob Stevenson
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Laurentiu wrote:
If the publisher of Catan needs to close doors, the market must be pretty tough.


Asmodee acquired the (english language) rights to Catan at the beginning of 2016, so Mayfair wasn't really the publisher any more, and being bought out isn't quite the same as just closing up.
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Jesper Hansen
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why is it sad that they close shop/got swallowed by Asmodee?

They say that it wasnt an easy descision but it was nessecary - how was it nessecary? Would they be sued, would they be out-manouvered by asmodee?
Or was it nessecary cause asmodee offered them alot of money and they like money after all?

Its how capitalism work afaik..
 
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Laurentiu Cristofor
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Pouvla wrote:
why is it sad that they close shop/got swallowed by Asmodee?

They say that it wasnt an easy descision but it was nessecary - how was it nessecary? Would they be sued, would they be out-manouvered by asmodee?
Or was it nessecary cause asmodee offered them alot of money and they like money after all?

Its how capitalism work afaik..


This is like saying "why is it sad that people die - it's how life works afaik".
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Laurentiu Cristofor
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rosie_187 wrote:

Asmodee acquired the (english language) rights to Catan at the beginning of 2016, so Mayfair wasn't really the publisher any more, and being bought out isn't quite the same as just closing up.


I wasn't aware of the Catan rights purchase and that wasn't their only successful game anyway, but the Catan sale appears to have been a turning point for Mayfair.

I found some more details in this blog post.
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Laurentiu wrote:
Pouvla wrote:
why is it sad that they close shop/got swallowed by Asmodee?

They say that it wasnt an easy descision but it was nessecary - how was it nessecary? Would they be sued, would they be out-manouvered by asmodee?
Or was it nessecary cause asmodee offered them alot of money and they like money after all?

Its how capitalism work afaik..


This is like saying "why is it sad that people die - it's how life works afaik".

And much like at a funeral, one hears much positive and little negative about the deceased.

A few years back Mayfair was the subject of many outrage threads when they introduced a policy that forced online merchants to sell Mayfair titles at reduced discounts; in other words artificially raising their prices. Not all that different from more recent threads about Asmodee.
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