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Subject: PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR 2018 rss

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Simon Lavender
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Simon L - Garphill Games
Choosing one publisher that stands out, based on one calendar year can be tricky. There are publishers/companies that produce games that I like, relate to and at places like UKKGE and Essen are places I would go to first to check out their latest offerings. These include Z-Man Games, Asmodee, Days of Wonder, Stonemaier, Blue Orange, Czech Games Edition and some smaller publishers such as ITB (Sub Terra, Newspeak – which I played pre-release). Others produce games I tend to not love the majority of, such as Fantasy Flight Games (X-Wing and many fantasy games) and CMON ( Although I love Zombicide).

My pick for Publisher of the Year only produced one game that I can recall playing in 2018, a game I’ve funnily enough mentioned before. He, Shem Phillips, is a designer and owns the company he publishes through. Whilst a risk, he still has a lot to consider to get the final game out and by keeping the same artist, Mihajlo Dimitrievski, he has produced a brand. With the artist (I don’t know what style and direction Shem Phillips gives, if any) he has become something of an auteur.

Whilst the boxes sizes (from memory) have varied, the production quality he has used as remained (perhaps the risk of change is a factor and his success with his current output means he hasn’t needed to change).

Like any artist, there is a risk of being typecast in relation to only producing, say, worker placement games. He has mixed this up with Explorers of the North Sea and innovating the worker placement design in his 2018 release, Architects of the West Kingdom (as well as moving away from “North Sea” reference….however the Nordic look is still there (so there is a tangible link I mentioned earlier).

Whilst I have played Raiders of the North Sea (with expansions) I didn’t find it as compelling as some other worker placements (perhaps I’ve been spoilt and also played the cream of the crop), but having really liked the pickup and deliver element (have also enjoyed this mechanic in other games….and prefer its implementation than in Five Tribes) I was glad to see he (perhaps took his time to) produce a game that many, both UK and further afield (the USA in particular) have placed highly for 2018.
 
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