AMA with Stephan Brissaud, COO of IELLO USA

Owner

Our first official AMA (Ask Me Anything) is with Stephan Brissaud, COO of IELLO USA.  is the publisher of hit titles such as #King of Tokyo and #Bunny Kingdom.

Ask Stephan any questions ranging from his experience in running a board game publishing company, his favorite games, favorite food combinations, side hobbies, and more!

Plus, participants in the AMA will have a chance to win a copy of Reiner Knizia's #Royal Visit! (Winner will be randomly selected tonight at 12am PST and will receive an email from phil@boardgameatlas.com).

If you want to stay up to date with Stephan and IELLO USA, here are his links:

Edit: This AMA is now closed. I've selected the winner and am waiting for a response until I can announce the result.

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Partner6 months ago

Hello everybody! Thanks to the Board Game Atlas team for providing me with the opportunity to interact with the community. I am here and I am ready (I think) so Ask Me Anything!

NOTE: Please forgive the typos and the gramatical mistakes: English is not my native language.

6 months ago

I'm a huge fan of King of Tokyo, one of my favorites in my now big collection (the very first edition). And in France the number of copies of the dark edition has been sold like very too fast. I believe this is wanted to be a limited edition, so I guess I know the answer but: do you think it would be possible in the future to get french official version?

Partner6 months ago

Hello

I believe you are asking if IELLO France is planning to reprint the #King of Tokyo: Dark Edition in French?

Unfortunately, and as you have pointed out, this was a limited edition and the remaining spare parts have been destroyed.

You can still purchase the English edition until supplies last.

6 months ago

Yeah I thought about this solution but the shipping cost are like crazy.

Anyway thanks for the confirmation.

I really like the idea of a limited edition (really beautiful) and the slight new rules seem to make this game even better but I feel like number of games in each country had not been optimized (as I still see ads on instagram for example for US remaining games while french ones went out in few months).

 

Again thank you for the précisions and have a nice day.

Premium User6 months ago

Any plans to make the King of Tokyo monsters for other countries available here? Also is there going to be a USA specific monster? Will there ever be Power Up cards for promo monsters?

What are Iello's thoughts on making giant size versions of thier games available? (like Codenames XXL, but for #Decrypto)

Thanks!

Partner6 months ago

Hi

The National monsters are geo-exclusive. We have no plan to bring all of them to the US at the moment, but that doesn't mean it can't change in the future.

The good news is that the US one is coming indeed and it's pretty badass. I can't share it yet as we need to do some changes to the background due to some recent events.

PowerUp cards require a lot of balance work from our R&D Team and Richard Garfield. Since we don't design the promos as a revenue-generating model, we can't justify the cost of developing the cards for them.

We do have a giant version of #Decrypto. It's available in our US retail stores and on our website.

Premium User6 months ago

Awesome!

6 months ago

This is so cool. Thanks for coming on and doing this! I've got a couple questions related to making your job about board gaming. How did you get your position at IELLO in the first place and what would you recommend to people who want to make a career in board games work? Should I just go looking for publishers that have job openings?

 

Also, unrelated, but how often do you play IELLO board games versus other board games for fun?

Partner6 months ago

IELLO founders, Patrice and Cedric, contacted me at the end of 2011 to ask me if I would be interested in partnering with them to build IELLO USA. They heard about me from a common friend and knew that I have setup Asmodee USA in the past. At the time, I was working at WorldWise Imports, a classic game importer. I still have some interest in WorldWise as of today. Before that, I worked at Asmodee, Sup AirBall, Wizard of the Coast Retail, WotC France, and Nintendo France. You can check my full resume on my linkedin profile.

I am being asked the question about how to make a career in the industry. My reply is as follow.
The Board Game industry is a cottage industry and a subset of the Toy Industry. The best way to find a job in it is to network. You should get involved in communities such as this one but also attend conventions (once we got rid of that annoying COVID-19). Get to know the people at the publishers booth, get to be known by them. Many of our current colleagues got in touch with us this way. 
I am a big fan of Tim Ferris and one of the exercise he recommend is to be bold and try things that seems impossible.
Grab the phone and try to talk to someone inside the company you want to work at, and sell yourself. (Now my phone is going to ring non stop :P) Full disclosure, we are not hiring right now.
There are a few Facebook group that post industry job openings. But those tend to be filled very quickly.
The bigger publishers like Hasbro, WotC, Pokemon, have dedicated pages on their websites to consult and/or signup for job  opening notifications.

I play a lot of games almost daily, it's part business intel and part I love my life (mostly the second part really).
The ratio is about 40% IELLO catalog and 60% other publisher (I know, so many games).
I also play Destiny 2 on my SONY PS4. It is my way to just relax and decompress. You can find me there as Scarfboy.

6 months ago

I wanted to add to Stephan's answer here about getting started in the industry, because I've only really been doing this for about a decade myself.

The best (in my mind) way to get started in this industry is to be open to starting anywhere. There are people in this industry who I respect a great deal who started out as part-time demo staff for convention booths and now run a marketing department. Off the top of my head I can think of two people I respect who started that way for two different companies. I've seen demo staff work all day in the IELLO booth, and then take meetings with publishers at night to pitch games they designed. The absolute first step to being involved in this industry (again, just my opinion) is to be modest enough to take any job folks will let you have to start.

In-person conventions are going to be starting again. Do you have a publishing company who does work that you absolutely love? Do you know a bunch of their catalog? Reach out to them and ask them what the process to come join their Demo Team for Origins or GenCon is. If you work hard and sell games you'll make a great impression on folks, and you'll get the chance to start building that network. In the IELLO booth you'll see the Sales Programs Director selling games to IELLO fans, the COO demoing games, our legal department helping with the logisitics of a con booth, and an actual general surgeon talking to influencers and helping them learn about our games. The companies in this industry are small enough that there aren't fifteen middle managers you have to talk to before you talk to someone who can make a decision, so being on a demo team at a place like GenCon and Origins is a great way to start making contacts.

J Stephens - IELLO

Partner6 months ago

Thanks for chiming in, . You elaborated what I meant to write in a much more eloquent way.

So yes, don't be shy but be ready to show your motivation. I would hire someone who shows me dedication and great working values over a person loaded with diplomas but with an entitled attitude.

6 months ago

My two favorite games currenly from IELLO is #Decrypto and #Bunny Kingdom.

What are your favorites?

Partner6 months ago

Hi ,

Asked the same question so here is the quote of my reply:

  • My favorite game published by IELLO USA is #Innovation, which we no longer have the rights, unfortunately. I play it daily on BoardGameArena with my friends and my wife regularly kicks my butt at it.
    I will also never turn down an offer to  play #King of Tokyo.
    Finally, I really enjoy #Little Town, which I think is one of the most underrated game in our catalog.

Moderator Level 16 months ago

#Innovation is in my top 10. I have the Asmadi version, but it is a quality game.

Owner6 months ago

The results are in and is our giveaway winner! Congrats and IELLO and I'll coordinate to send you the prize. Enjoy!

Partner6 months ago

Congrats

I hope you enjoy #Royal Visit and thanks for playing.

Moderator Level 16 months ago

Props to you for you dedication to the hobby. It's not everybody that learns english to read a DnD manual.

I feel like Iello is a company that is underrepresented in my collection. I'm actually not 100% sure I have any games with the Iello imprint, though there are several that I have played and really like. That being said, sell me on Iello. Why should the average gamer have Iello represented in his collection?

If you look at Iello, what is your guiding design philosophy for the company? Are you trying to stay within a certain nich or niches? Or are you trying to expand into other parts of the hobby?

Who is your favorite designer?

And, finally, and maybe most importantly, what is your favorite flavour of ice cream?

 

 

Partner6 months ago

Hello

Ha! the way I look at it is that my passion for games motivated me to learn a skill that I use every day now!

On an anecdotal note, it was funny to watch the look on the face of my first English teacher in school when she realized that I could write full sentences involving war hammers and plate armors while taking a castle, but
A/ I didn't know the word for plane or telephone,
B/ I had no idea how to pronounce all that stuff.
When she asked me how I learned and I told her, she looked at me puzzled and said "What the heck is D&D"?

I think the strongest feat of IELLO titles is the design and the look. Our R&D team is extremely exigeant when it comes to selecting arts and components. I have seen a drawing that looks totally fine to me being sent back for edits. I didn't see what they saw but I can testify that the final result was better than what was originally presented.
The second strength of the IELLO catalog is that our games are very accessible, yet not "easy". Take an example like #Little Town. This is a bare bone worker placement game. Now extra stuff with resources or side missions: you pick one of the 12 buildings, choose the most strategical location, then place a worker on it. Rince and repeat, while trying to built the most efficient engine. There is some cleanness in the way that there is no distraction from the main mechanic. You also have twice the number of buildings needed to provide more re-playability.

I will try to answer the design philosophy question on behalf of Cedric, our CEO as he is the one deciding of the editorial direction of the company. I am asked for my opinions sometime but I am definitely not in charge of that aspect of IELLO. That being said, my understanding of his work process is that he is constantly looking for new artists to add to our portfolio while his team is looking for good solid mechanics to apply said arts on.I also belive that we all work at IELLO because we love games and what we do, so the editorial choices are reflecting our personal tastes and affinities. I think this is the case for most publishers: we tend to make the games we want to play.

My favorite designer is a tough one as I am personal friend with some of them like Antoine Bauza, Bruno Cathala, Bruno Faidutti, Chris Bollinger, etc.. so those come to mind naturally as I not only enjoy playing their games, but I also had great time playing games WITH them (either their own design or someone else). For example, I blame Antoine for keeping me up late at night during Essen after dragging me into one of his #Magic: The Gathering drafts... But I would do it again anytime! (I mentioned somewhere else my love for #7 Wonders Duel and #7 Wonders.)
For designers I am not close with, I really love Carl Chuddick's designs. He always surprises me in delicious ways (if it make sense) I had said I love #Innovation. Come to think of it I can rattle a very long list of designers and why I like one or the other. To me, they are like book writers, they all have their own touch.

My favorite flavor of ice cream is Mint-Chocolate chip. I can't control myself.

Premium User6 months ago

Vanilla is clearly the best flavor.

Moderator Level 16 months ago

Thanks for the insightfull replies. Although, I must admit, I heartily disagree with you on your ice cream choice....LOL

Also, I love your anecdote of you and your english teacher.

Partner6 months ago

That's OK, I will forgive you for not worshiping mint-chocolate chip ice cream the way I do. We can still game together ;)

Moderator Level 16 months ago

My wife has two glaring faults. She doesn't drink coffee. And she loves mint chocolate chip ice cream. You know what? Even with these character flaws...LOL, I still love her dearly. So, yes, I imagine I would still be willing to play with you.

Owner6 months ago

I..... like mint chocolate chip too. Not my favorite, but it's up there 😆