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About The Guild of Blades

About the Guild of Blades

The Guild of Blades Publishing Group is a Detroit area based adventure games and entertainment publishing company. Today the company is the publisher of a half dozen unique gaming brands and publishes and distributes more than 100 in print gaming SKUs. These games range from historical and fantasy board games, miniature games, role playing games and general strategy games. Its core brands include the Empires of History line of historical board games, Overlords: Fantast Battlescape Wargame line, Button Wars Tactical Spaceship Combat Game, Worlds of Heroes & Tyrants Fantasy Quest Board Game and Epic Adventure Role Playing Game and Heroes Forever Role Playing Game. The Guild of Blades is also the publisher of a growing catalog of electronic downloadable PDF games with brands such as Grunt 3rd Edition Fantasy Miniature Battles, Dark Realms Role Playing Universe, Risk Variants, G-spot Games's adult humor products and e-product versions of select print games. More recent major expansion programs include the Guild's launch of the Empires of History Online Gaming Network, a growing network of turn based multi-player online strategy computer games plus the Guild of Blades Fiction Group.

From Humble Beginnings

The Guild of Blades began as a small group of friends organizing a local game club for the Detroit area and its first publication, the Guild club newsletter, was released in 1994. The game club remained small and the planned expansion of the club and newsletter never materialized. In 1996 company founders Ryan Johnson and Bruce Dowrie led a small design team to create the Guild of Blades' first game, Grunt Fantasy Miniature Battles. A mere 100 copies of the photo copied miniatures game rules were created and began being sold through a couple local hobby shops and throughout the Midwest via a local hobby distribution company. Grunt's first 100 copies sold out in about three months.

With the first printing of Grunt sold out and the market demanding for more, a realization occured among the founders of the Guild that game publishing might hold a real financial future. Work on an improved second edition for Grunt began and the Dark Realms Role Playing Universe entered design stages. The Guild of Blades domain was secured and the Guild joinned the early wave of game companies promoting through the Internet. Grunt 2nd Edition Fantasy Miniature Battles was released in early 1997 and proved a solid success for a "small press" company. In 1998 the Guild expanded its game lines with the introduction of the Dark Realms Role Playing Game and its first Empires of History board game, The War to End All Wars, though the game industry itself had taken a major turn for the worse. The Guild of Blades began 1998 selling through 13 different distributors and direct to about a dozen retail shops. By the end of the year 11 of those distributors had gone out of business. During that period the Guild launched its own small press distribution system and bundled a dozen company's products for sale to retailers who were themselves having difficulty ordering product due to the near collapse of the hobby game distribution tier.

In 1999 a new crop of small distribution companies entered the market and the Guild of Blades once again put its primary focus on publishing new games. It was a tremendous growth year for the Guild of Blades, with the release of many new Empires of History Games, expansion of the Worlds of Heroes & Tyrants RPG line, introduction of the Heroes Forever RPG and much more. Europe 1483 was first published and the 1483 Online game was initially launched as a play-by-email game. 1999 was also a pivitol year in the nature of the hobby game market and the consistency of its distribution systems. Due to the changes in its primary market, the Guild of Blades began a slow transition to internalize most aspects of its printing and manufacturing process, developing its own print and production center to produce its gaming products.
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From 2000 to 2002 the company struggled to grow as it encountered a dramatic shift in the viability of its distribution network. The hobby game distribution companies were changing once more, this time with another two of the four leading distributors in the United States closing their doors and with the remaining distributors shifting their focus to more and more support of collectible game publishers only. At the same time multiple larger companies from the toy and computer game industries entered the hobby game market to get a slice of the ever growing collectible games product category. That was effectively the last nail in the coffin on the effectiveness of using the three tier system (Publisher/Distributor/Retailer) within the hobby market to distribute the Guild's games.

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