Tabletop Gaming, Models, and Minis > Other Games Around the Table

Mayfair Games Closing After 36 Years

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I recall meeting the owner at an Origins or GenCon in the mid-2000s. Nice people all around. Not really a lot of games I liked but they did do some interesting things.

Silent Disapproval Robot:
I remember they bought the rights to the Chill RPG after Pacesetter went out of business.  I really liked Chill back in the day.  I had the Pacesetter stuff and my friend bought the Mayfair version.  I hated the artwork and the few Mayfair-published adventures that we played all kinda sucked.  The Pacesetter version was heavily influenced by Hammer horror films and the pulp fiction style stuff of the 1930s and 1940s.  The Mayfair version seemed to be influenced by the splatter horror films of the 80s like Hellraiser. 

I think the only Mayfair game I own now is "Oh My Goods" which is a fun little engine builder style card game.

A gaming buddy has the Mayfair version of A House Divided and we break that out and play a few times a year.

Fun read from Matt Forbeck over on FB

--- Quote ---With the impending closing of Mayfair Games, one of my favorite companies in the gaming industry, it's time to tell this story. Back in the day, I nearly blew the deal that rescued Mayfair Games from bankruptcy. Or so I was told. Here's how the tale goes, to the best of my recollection.

This was in 1997, and Mayfair Games was on the rocks, despite having picked up the rights to Settlers of Catan the year before. The company was losing money, and the Bromleys (who founded the company and still owned it then) were about to shut it down. I was doing the occasional freelance article for InQuest Gamer and Wizard Magazine back then, and InQuest asked me to interview my pal Lou Rexing of Mayfair about the company's troubles.

At the time, Lou was the company's director of sales and one of the few people still left in the company. When I called him to chat, he was sitting on the floor because they'd already hauled away the chairs, and as you might imagine, he wasn't too pleased about the situation. In the course of our chat, Lou dropped a number of memorable quotes about things had gotten to that point. The one that still sticks with me—and which became the source of the trouble—was something like: "I could have taped a twenty-dollar bill to every game we shipped and saved money over what we spent on marketing."
(Someone might be able to dig up the article for a more exact quote. I may have a copy here somewhere, but I'm not going to lose the flow to go hunting.)

Anyhow, the article came out in the issue of the magazine that was published during that year's GAMA Trade Show, and the consortium of people who were hoping to buy Mayfair at the time—Pete Fenlon, Coleman Charlton, Will Niebling, and so on—got upset about it when they read it. It seems that Lou had let his guard down with me a bit more than he should have—which I can't really blame him for, as we were great pals at the time.

Looking back, I probably should have called Lou to confirm his quotes with him. My editor at InQuest had read it all through and even asked me, "Did he really say that?" Yeah, it was all accurate—and delicious—but maybe not the right thing to print.

To make sure the article didn't destroy the deal—which meant that Lou would keep his job with Mayfair for a while longer—the buyers ran around the convention, literally snatching up every copy of the magazine they could find before Darwin Bromley, then president of Mayfair, could read it. Apparently they managed to succeed. From what I was told, Darwin never read the article, and the sale proceeded unimpeded.

Mayfair went through a number of other changes over the years, but I rooted them on every step of the way. I'm sorry to see the company finally close its doors—and I'm grateful that it survived another twenty years after that incident!
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