The Funtails Story
It’s good to have you here. We’d like to tell you a few things about Funtails. Let’s start with the most important thing:
We believe in games.
Not that they exist, like believing in the Easter Bunny. We believe in the power of games to magically create positivity. We believe that games change the world with their inexhaustible potential.
It all began with cut-off elf ears made of marzipan…
In the fall of 1990, Steffen Rühl, as co-founder of the legendary live role-playing game company Drachenschmiede, visited SPIEL in Essen, the largest board game fair in the world, for the first time. He handed out the marzipan elf ears at the entrance to the fair to draw attention to an unusual booth with padded weapons, chain mail, drinking horns and small dragons.
Steffen was enthralled by the world of board games that sprawled around the quirky role-playing booth. A dream was taking shape. The dream to develop board games. Games that dare to do something new. Games that go further than any game has ever gone before!
As a roleplayer since the early 1980s, Steffen was certain: Only with the right group of heroes, highly leveled, with handcrafted equipment and enough healing and mana potions will this epic journey succeed.
No one survives such an adventure alone.
This mix of unusual companions found themselves through a series of unlikely encounters
We at Funtails believe in magical moments
These moments are often encounters that come into our lives as if by chance and change them.
In 2012, Steffen met author Matthias Cramer during a prototype testing weekend. The two became friends and developed numerous prototypes in the following years. The idea for Glen More II led to several years of intensive development.
The fateful meeting with Funtail’s co-founder Andreas Geiermann – at Penne and Pizza in M’gladbach – brought to light the deep, shared conviction that games can do more. The two decided to explore, investigate, and exploit the huge potential of games.
A handshake later, the Würfelwerfer (Dice Thrower) Podcast was born. Over the next few years, the two dove deep into the world of analog game design – delighting thousands of listeners with important insights, great interviews, and surprising radio play interludes – like the fabulous Halloween special with author Alexander Pfister (“Do these… dice throwers live here?”).
Unexpected allies …
The pendant on the keychain to our headquarters was given to us by author Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, who didn’t know us at all. That didn’t stop him from inviting Steffen to his birthday, where Steffen not only got to experience the fabulous test round of Carcassonne, but also formed a close relationship with Klaus-Jürgen Wrede.
Klaus-Jürgen designed “Highlander”, one of Glen More II’s most popular chronicles – with the incredible design approach and legendary saying: “There’s already so much in Glen More II, I’d like a field where just nothing happens.”
To that end, Steffen’s daughter Liv (who now runs the awesome customer service department at Funtails) crafted a mountain out of wood, which came into play looking just like that thanks to our awesome partners at Longpack Manufacturing.
… in high places
A final, high-profile piece of the puzzle came from a wholly surprising direction. Swede Stefan Lampinen, who was Steffen’s boss as managing director of Electronic Arts (EA Central Europe) and later was responsible for the worldwide strategies of Nokia, Microsoft and Warner Brothers, mentioned that he owned a board game store in the 80s.
Stefan supported the team from day one, became a partner, co-founded Funtails GmbH and has excellent connections, not only as a neighbor of Games Workshop founder Ian Livingstone in London.
Heroes wanted for a long adventure!
But every adventure has its dangers. A new company takes a lot of energy and both Steffen and Andreas ran out of healing and mana potions in between. Also, it was not easy for Funtails to get through the defining crisis of our time – the Corona Pandemic.
At the Göttingen Game Designer Meeting 2019, we had met Dr. Hans Joachim Höh, who had inspired us to collaborate on Feed the Kraken. However, marketing this brilliant deduction game proved difficult overnight because of Corona. Instead of Social Deduction, suddenly Social Distancing was the name of the game, and a game for 5-11 players was no longer quite in vogue. But we continued to pay homage to the great Kraken and instead threw our whole schedule out the window! Instead of the Kraken, something else was to be released first.
Hans quickly changed roles—from author to editor—and pushed the development of another wonderful product with us, despite its high complexity:
The Highland Games were born!
Luckily, with the expansion to Glen More II, the Highland Games not only had unique Chronicles by Rüdiger Dorn, Jonny Pac and the Funtails Development Team in the box, but also a great solo mode from the specialists at Automa Factory. And playing solo was just quite the thing! However, Kickstarter campaigns had to be switched and postponed, and the bank account plummeted frantically towards zero.
We did the surprising thing: We hired new staff. In the process, we surrounded ourselves with some serious girl power. We strategically realigned the company. We developed a common vision that all employees at Funtails were burning for. And we defiantly stumbled through all adversity.
Highland Games rocked Kickstarter and Funtails survived.
In these stormy times, not only did many great Kickstarter backers support us (thank you so much!), but fantastic new authors like Rüdiger Dorn (thank you for your trust!) came on board.
Now there is light at the end of the dungeon.
Steffen and Andreas were shaped by the video game indie scene of the early 2000s, a time when boundaries and genre conventions that had been firmly held for years were profoundly changed. This time brought forth themes, mechanics, and products that would have been unthinkable just a few years earlier. Board games can make this leap as well, and this potential is one of the biggest drivers for all the heroes at Funtails.
We decided together with the whole crew that we don’t want to do less than legendary, because games can do more!
And we promise that we will surprise you.