My friend Seth Jaffee has joined his friend Michael Mindes to create a new boardgame publisher, Tasty Minstrel Games. I think they will bear watching.
It may seem injudicious to start a new business venture in the current economic climate. But this may be a very good time to do it, because in contradiction to most of the rest of the economy, sales of boardgames are rising.
Veteran gamers are not surprised. We know that to take a family of four to the movies, you will spend $40 on tickets, plus $10 to $20 on munchies, plus whatever it costs to flog the family car to the theatre and back. In return for your $60 investment, you get the hassle of driving, the joy of parking, and the giddy fun of standing in line (sometimes two lines, one after the other). You do all this in order to sit in the dark and be silent for two hours. And when you're done, you're done.
Or you can spend the same amount of cash on a boardgame (sometimes two), and spend an hour or two of quality time with your friends and family, having face-to-face fun and actually talking to each other. And when you're done, you put the game on a shelf... and next week you can get it down and have all that fun all over again, and this time it doesn't cost you an extra cent.
So I think Tasty Minstrel has a shot, just from that. But obviously they'll need some good products, and here again I think the signs are hopeful. They'll be starting with a good strong design, Seth's Terra Prime, and with another game I haven't played but which I'm eager to try: Homesteaders. Tasty Minstrel has engaged Josh Cappel to do the graphic design for Terra Prime; his work is always excellent. (If I'm a very good boy, maybe he can do the art for a game of mine someday!) Homesteaders is being handled by another artist of my acquaintance; having not seen his name in print in connection with Homesteaders I'm not sure if I should name him here. But I've seen some of the artwork, and it's good stuff.
Obviously I'm biased here. Seth is a good friend and I wish him well; and I have a nodding Internet acquaintance with the two graphic designers as well. You folks out there in Readerland are welcome to wait until you read a review or two before deciding whether to invest your movie money in a Tasty Minstrel game. But I've already played Terra Prime, and followed some of the development of Homesteaders. I am entirely ready to give the latest X-Men epic a miss, and I will be in line to purchase copies of both games as soon as they're available.