A web search of “board game publishers” yields 2,110,00 results. So…that’s a lot.
But board game publishers aren’t created equally. How do we know which are best? Well, a very few of them crank out game after game that combine wonderful gameplay, high component quality, value for your money, and funfunfun games that always find their way to the table.
As with all lists, this is subjective, but I tried to give good thinky thoughts to this and I’ve listed my top board game publishers below. Trust that when you buy from one of these companies, you’ll get something good.
7 Best Board Game Publishers
7. Days of Wonder is a thoughtful game company. They have a measured release schedule that pretty much only produces A+ games. Days of Wonder might not produce many games, but they are all killer, no filler.
Ticket to Ride and Smallworld are well-known classics. Their record of consistency has also created a nice catalog of games like Shadows of Camelot and Five Tribes, two nice adds to any collection.
But my favorite Days of Wonder game is Memoir ’44 a World War II themed game that I’ve reviewed in full.
6. Z-MAN games is another type of game company: one that offers breath and variety, being that they crank out a larger number of titles per year (I also thought of using AEG for this slot).
But don’t be mislead, Z-Man also has a wonderful track record of hits, games like Pandemic and Carcassone coming to mind. (Although it must be noted that a downside to having a bonafide hits means that a company will understandably “milk” that success by producing copious expansions and adding, something that Z-Man is wholly guilty of.)
With Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 being the #1 overall game on Board Game Geek, anticipation for the Season 2 followup is insane. But even if Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 suffers from a sophomore slump, we can rest assured that Z-Man will give it wonderful production values.
5. CMON was formerly Cool Mini or Not, which was appropriate because with CMON games, you come for the cool minis.
Known for multi-million dollar Kickstarters for games like Zombicide and Blood Rage, CMON has built their company on big, thematic games with BEAUTIFULLY sculpted miniatures that entice board gamers via stretch goals.
I’m an admitted big dumb animal when it comes to my game preferences, so I love the active and thematic games that CMON produces. Would CMON still make this list if their games didn’t include zombies, samurai, Vikings, and wizards? I dunno. But I don’t have to imagine that hypothetical because my gaming shelves are chock full of CMON minis!
(Our review of Zombicide and Blood Rage.)
4. FFG stands for the Minnesota based Fantasy Flight Games. Being one of the largest game companies, they have lots of good titles in their catalog, but few are as well-received as their licensed games, particularly those from Star Wars.
Star Wars games like Imperial Assault and X-Wing are fantastic, plus Star Wars Rebellion from their chief designer Corey Konieczka is a masterpiece.
I write many of my Nerds on Earth articles from Fantasy Flight’s Game Center, which has gaming space for several hundred, plus a full kitchen. It’s wonderful, just like Fantasy Flight Games. You can rest assured that if you pick up a game from Fantasy Flight, it will be a quality one.
3. Portal is a Polish board game publisher. The first thought I had to describe them was “a poor man’s Days of Wonder,” but to say that sounds dismissive. In reality, I meant it as a compliment, in that Portal has quickly and quietly came to be known as a board game publisher that is all killer, no filler, just like Days of Wonder.
Portal is newer on the scene, but also higher on this list, as they have firmly established themselves with a strong catalog of games that our wonderfully thematic while being packed with thoughtful gameplay.
They also learn from their mistakes and are quickly improving over time. Robinson Crusoe was already a wonderful game, but the second edition amped it up even more so. Then they re-themed the game into First Martian, one of the most anticipated games of 2017.
And the founder of the company–Ignacy Trzewiczek–is known as one of the kind and generous personalities in the industry.
2. Wizkids produces some wonderful stalwarts coupled with an aggressive new catalog. They are known primarily for Heroclix, which turns 15 years old this year and continues to produce minis (both Marvel and DC) that get better and better. I should know: I have hundreds of them.
But Wizkids also has the criminally underrated Mage Knight, the really quick and enjoyable Dice Masters, plus many more. (And let’s not forget that Wizkids is THE place for painted D&D and Pathfinder miniatures. Just check out our YouTube channel for our unboxing videos.)
But despite being one of the industry heavyweights for years, they’ve recently managed to find another gear. They are on an upswing right now, having just hired Zev Shlasinger (the Z, formerly of Z-Man Games) to come at the industry with a fresh slate of new board games. They have released some great ones in just the first half of the year alone.
1. Stonemaier cares about the industry as a whole, as well as the individual board games they produce. Jamey Stegmaier is an industry thought leader who has helped raise the water level for everyone. (Our interview with him is here.)
But that wouldn’t be enough to put Stonemaier on this list if they didn’t release great games. Luckily, they do! Between Two Cities and Euphoria are solid, while Viticulture is a delight. And their latest game–Scythe–has been a bonafide hit, winning oodles best-of awards last year.
Their upcoming Charterstone is highly anticipated and I fully expect Stonemaier Games to only rise in prominence, slowly building out their catalog, despite being a small independent publisher.
So there you have it: lots of great board game publishers, making lots of great board games. Plenty of games were linked as well, because you can trust if you get a game from the above companies that you are getting a ton of entertainment in a box.
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