Welcome to another issue of Board Game news, but first part 2 of Brad Cummings interview with Mayday games…
Interview with Mayday Games: Seth Hiatt - Part 2
Brad: Is Mayday Games a family business?
Seth: Yeah, pretty much. I have a couple of employees. The part time person does customer service and helps with our shipping. And another does a lot of the administrative stuff, wholesale orders stuff like that.
Brad: So you explained that you started reselling games on Ebay. Did creating accessories come after that?
Seth: It started with the games on Ebay. Then we did the one product, the Catan board, because I personally thought that it was a cool thing and wanted to do it. In the process of that we came up with the name Mayday games, because if somebody wants a product made that is not in the market like the Catan board then the idea is that they will send an email and say “Mayday, mayday! I need a new product.” it was kind of an afterthought as to why we called it that, we were kind of making it up as we went but then we started getting people emailing us.
Somebody emailed us a year and a half ago and said, “Hey why don’t you make sleeves for Dominion.” I was like Dominion? Just came out I haven’t played it yet. So I sat down and played it and was like wow, it is shuffling cards the whole time, why not make a set of sleeves. And that is kind of how all our products have been, by people asking us to make stuff.
Crokinole was one I found myself, but we had people ask us before because we do wooden cubes and tokens, so we knew about wood. The sleeves were the same way, people were asking us about sleeves, and we said sure we will make sleeves.
Space Junkyard have you heard of that, our board game? It was one of the most downloaded print and play games of all time on Board Game Geek. And we started getting 3 or 4 emails a week from people saying that we should produce this game. No one else is making it, it’s really highly rated, people love it. So we did. And that is why we even got into board games at all, it was because of that. So once we had done that, and had gotten into the process of doing that we decided we should make some more games.
Now we’ve got, Hagoth Builder of Ships just came out about 3 months ago that’s doing really well. Crokinole’s coming out here now. We just got the rights to a game called Get Bit. It’s a shark game. It is in Tom Vasel top 100 games, it’s like 98, but it’s a fun little game. It was made just one print run and it’s really hard to find, it’s only sold on one website, doesn’t have a UPC, it’s not distributed by anybody but they haven’t sold all their copies, it’s been like 4 years. I love the game, so we picked that one up. We have another game we are just finishing that is called “King’s Vinyard” which is done by somebody here locally in Salt Lake, that I really like too.
There are a couple other projects we have in the works, we haven’t finalized them, we don’t have an agreement on one and one is an idea that I have. We’ll see how it goes. I haven’t actually typed up the rules but I have an idea in the back of my head that I want to get done this year.
Brad: That is cool. I think everyone has an idea for a game.
Seth: Yeah, Everybody has a game. I get sick of hearing it, you know. But I mean I do actually need to hear those things, so even if I may not personally like the game, it’s fine with me. It’s funny, because I talk to people a lot, I always tell them don’t send me a PDF file of your game through email. I don’t want to open that thing up print it, wade through instructions, figure out how to theoretically play it, just not a good medium to do it.
Do like Tom Vasel did. He made a video of him playing a game he designed, and guess what, it got picked up like that. Do a video of the game. Do a 5 or 10 minute video and put it up on YouTube. I don’t have time to read through a bunch of rules, but if you put a video together I can quickly get a concept of what it is about, how it plays, what the mechanics are. And you can do a private video so you don’t have to show it the world. So I have been telling people to that, and it seems pretty well received, people like that. That is how we are doing it.
Brad: I am just wondering. Well I am LDS(a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), I know where the theme for Hagoth: Builder of ships comes from.
Seth: I’m not adverse to talking about it. I am LDS too. It is fine. That is not why I picked up the game. It is a great theme and it is fine, it is not like that before you can advance you have to hear the first discussion. Strictly it’s a neat theme, sure it has an LDS base theme in theory, but it is two verses in the Book of Mormon, it is very obscure even to LDS people. And it has nothing to do with the game at all.
Brad: Why do you think the game getting good press from everyone? Not just LDS-centric media?
Seth: In the end I think the reason is that it is so fun. It has to hold up on its own merits. People think it is like a Viking game because of the cover. It doesn’t look typical Indian or Native American. But the gameplay is really fun. It is really fast paced and it has got great reviews from people. That is what it comes down to.
We have shipped 20-30 copies to Japan, we shipped like 50 copies to England, we have a distributor in France who has picked up some, some in Germany. We will take it to Essen this year. So there are a lot of opportunities for it world wide. We are thinking about translating it to German, French, Spanish and Italian and then having like a mutli-language European version that they would produce in Poland for us. So that is something that could happen. But we are hoping.
We have already sold more copies of Hagoth in the first 3 months than we sold in the first year of Space Junkyard. So it is selling very well. It is easier to teach and a faster game.
Brad: Do you think Mormon’s play games as families more than others?
Seth: You know I wish we did, I really feel like we don’t. There is a certain segment of people who play. But I do think there is more creativity for games. Utah Board Game Designer’s Guild is unique in the nation. There are not a lot of people, we come together to help each other design games, but I don’t think more people play here than anywhere else. But I know how many Rock Bands have sold, and I am sure there are other things people are doing with their time.
I wish it were more. That is the point of the games we are producing, they are all family friendly. They are all easy to learn and play. That is the idea. I like that games bring families together, that is my whole goal in making games. I like the Dominion game and Agricola game because they are fun and great to play with families, well maybe not Agricola.
Brad: I think being family oriented increases the number of games people play. Especially those who are Christian
Seth: Yeah I think so. Well especially the ones in the US are. But if you start looking on Board game geek you get a lot of people with the Atheist microbadge. But you are right, Tom Vasel is very Christian, I know Jay from Rio Grande is a very Christian guy too. The underlying theme I think is that the people in the industry are really nice people. Zev from Z-man, Jay from Rio Grande, those guys are really nice. They are also doing things to promote the industry, not hinder it.
Brad: So what I have heard on podcasts, is that publishers like Jay from Rio Grande and you are willing to look at prototypes a lot at conventions, even all day.
Seth: Yeah, I know people who have written books and have been rejected seven times, and I know those people have not even read the book. I am willing to sit down, when I picked up Hagoth, I sat down for 6 hours and played 6 different games all the way through. I don’t just want to know how to play them, I want to actually play them. Hearing the mechanic doesn’t do me in any good. I need to see how the interaction goes and what happens as the game progresses, how long it really is, how the tension is. things like that. And most of those guys are like that, they really want to see how the game is, see if it is something they really want to do.
Brad: Last Question: What is your most pimped out game?
Seth: Well it is probably Agricola. Of course have you seen the War of the Ring Collectors edition? I have one out there. We made sleeve for that game specifically, we had so many people asking us to make them. So we made sleeves for that, the game is amazing.
We do have a train token set we made for ticket to ride, which is pretty neat.
I haven’t actually pimped mine out that much, it’s funny because we sell through our product so fast, the tokens especially and the sleeves, that I hardly have a chance to get any myself.
I have literally raided my own personally copy for the last 12 fish to fill and order. My kids are like, where did all our stuff go again?
That concludes the interview. Thanks for reading. I hoped you enjoyed it, and learned a little bit about the industry like I did. I hope to be back soon with more interviews with Publishers and maybe even some designers.
Mayday games products are available in the UK though Board Games Extras
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Fantasy Flight Games have announced even more stuff. Call of Cthulhu the LCG will be receiving a new faction in the next Deluxe Expansion. Also, fans of Cthulhu can rejoice that Mansions of Madness will soon see a Descent-style game set in the H.P Lovecraft mythos. Not a genre that interests me but I’d love to get my hands on those tiles!
There’s other stuff to but it isn’t coming readily to mind. For a great selection of Board Game News visit Board Game News one of the best sites for up to date info on all things gaming.