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.
In late 1996 the first printing of Grunt sold out and the market demanding for more, a
realization occured at 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
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.
In 2003 the Guild of Blades changed its market focus and it decided to cut game distributors
out of its distribution process for North America. Instead the company began to sell products
directly to retail stores and to the public at large. New initiatives to set up to capitalize
on the company's new direction. Expansion of the Guild's web presence and e-commerce site
put the company back on the fast track to growth once more. The Guild of Blades expanded its
in house print facility and diversified into the printing business as well.
By 2004 growth of internet sales and the printing business allowed the Guild to staff up
beyond its principle partners, leaving the owners once more free to pursue expand existing
programs and seek out new markets for further expansion. In early 2004 the Guild's computer
game business model took roots and the early stages of development for the Empires of History
Online Gaming Network began. By late 2004 the Guild also resurrected a number of out of
print product lines and started developing new ones and entered the PDF (electronic downloads)
Entering 2006, 1483 Online, the first multi player game for the Empires of History Online
Gaming Network entered beta testing, with the games Thermopylae Online and Pantheons Online
entering production as well. Many games in the Guild of Blades catalog of print games got
major production upgraded editions and the PDF game offering continued to expand. It network
of Point of Purchase Retail program retailers expanded and a new Drop Ship program was
initiated for smaller retail operations to take advantage of. The Guild of Blades continues
to strive to be a forward thinking company that innovates its game designs and productions
as well as its business methologies and programs.
The Guild of Blades is not looking for outside investors at this time. Though the company
remains open to discussions on any serious business inquiries and proposals on ventures with
synergies to the company's brands and core operations.
The Guild of Blades sells its products world wide. In recent years, largely due to changes in
the hobby distribution tier, the Guild has built up reliable and easy to use direct-to-retail
ordering options. We can provide you with 100% order fulfillment with three different programs
so you are sure to find one that fits your business needs. Click Here for more details.
Distributors & Wholesellers:
The Guild of Blades sells directly to the hobby retail base in North America, but hobby
distributor inquiries from all other parts of the world are welcome. Wholesellers servicing
other specialty industries or mass retail are also welcome. E-Mail us for further information.
Licensors & Licensees:
The Guild of Blades is always interested in pursuing potential profitable licensing agreements,
either in the form of the Guild publishing games, fiction and other materials of your
intellectual properties, or other companies that are interested in licensing our intellectual
properties for use in other industries.
Media contacts should E-Mail us for information
or requests to receive future press releases.
The Guild of Blades designs and writes most products using its in house staff. Freelance
authors should not send unsolicited inquiries or samples unless related to the Guild's
Fiction Group. Freelance artists are used on occasion, though typically under larger
multi-piece contracts. Freelance artists may submit
E-Mail inquiries along with a URL to online samples of their work. Artists should include
minimum rates if such exist. Secondary usage rights may be considered.
Commissioned salespersons are needed for online advertising inventory and potential print
sales opportunities. Commissioned product reps may submit specific rep opportunities for
which the Guild of Blades will evaluate on a case by case basis.