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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > January 2018 (#14) > Counterfeit Games The Viking Game

Counterfeit Games The Viking Game

The number of counterfeit games being sold online to unwilling fans is rising. With players increasingly at risk of shoddy-quality and even dangerous versions of their favourite titles, we look into the dark world of tabletop forgery


“A bout eight months ago we started to get all of these customer services requests. People picking up the phone saying, ‘Hi, I bought a Ticket to Ride from Amazon, the cards are all rubbish, I’m missing five black trains and the board doesn’t lay flat.’”

At first, Steve Buckmaster says, it was assumed that the copies of Days of Wonder’s iconic train game were normal outliers from the production process. Esdevium, the dominant UK distributor of which Buckmaster is MD, began to send out replacement parts for the incomplete sets, as it would with any other game missing pieces. Still, something didn’t sit quite right – a feeling reinforced by the growing number of complaints about a title usually known for its high standard of quality. Three or four months later, overwhelmed by requests, Esdevium decided to look into the matter. It seemed that one of its most popular games had fallen prey to cheap forgeries being sold online via third-party sellers, with unsuspecting buyers unaware that their copy was an unoficial fake.

Very quickly, it became clear that it was an issue far beyond Ticket to Ride. Sales of some of the industry’s biggest games have become flooded by fakes as part of what Buckmaster describes as an “endemic” counterfeiting problem. Especially at risk are titles that had become staple games for introducing new players to hobby gaming because of their accessible gameplay and simple components – factors that now made them easier to duplicate.

“Games that have relatively simple card components in particular – Dominion being a great example – where it’s just printing cards, it’s relatively straightforward for someone to counterfeit,” Buckmaster says. “They need the print files and the ability to make cards – which most factories will have – then they just need to make boxes and plastic inserts, which again most factories will be able to do. Off they go on their merry way making a counterfeit version of the game. So I think the criteria for a target to counterfeit is that the game has got to be a relative perennial.

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About Tabletop Gaming

January’s issue of Tabletop Gaming includes an exclusive preview of post-apocalyptic miniatures game Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, a chat with Mice & Mystics creator Jerry Hawthorne about his latest tale Stuffed Fables, a delve into the dark world of fake board games – including tips on how to spot a counterfeit in your collection – and much, much more. Reviews include Azul, Pulsar 2849, Civilization: A New Dawn, Dungeons & Dragons: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Indian Summer, Clank! In! Space!, Queendomino, Raxxon, Hunt for the Ring, Photosynthesis, Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate and many more.