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How Tom Wham Games Got Started

Tom Wham has been designing games since his childhood – some have been published by various companies, many have not. Sometime in 2017 Tom and long-time friend, Dave Conant, came up with the bright idea to attempt to self-publish some of those many games sitting on Tom’s shelves. Although not a professional Graphic Designer, Dave did have the ability to do all the production work in order to print and start selling games. Thus they started a partnership – an informal one at first, then more officially with the formation of Tom Wham Games, LLC.

Though the partnership was a good idea, it was still a struggle. On-demand printing made it possible to print just a few copies, but the price per game was high. The idea of a kick-starter seemed appealing, but neither Tom or Dave knew anything about how to run a successful campaign. Finally, they both felt it was time to do something – the compromise was to utilize the crowd-funding feature of the on-demand printer in order to offer folks a chance to buy a game at a lower price than if printed in lower quantities, and also to allow Tom and Dave to get additional inventory to sell in person and on this site.

Tom Wham

Tom Wham has been a game designer since age 7 when he got his first Monopoly set and immediately began modifying the rules. At first, sister Nina, and later, his friends and the rest of his family were the only victims of this activity, which for a very long time, went un-rewarded. While at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in the early 60’s his career was daunted by rejection letters from game companies. Later, married and back from the Navy, he did the next best thing. In 1972 he got a job in the shipping/layout/anything else department at Guidon Games (Campaign Magazine) with Don Lowry. There he co-authored a set of Civil War Naval Miniature rules (Ironclad). Sadly, this did not last very long.

A bad case of divorce struck in 1974, and by 1976 he was out in Denver, Colorado. Then, thru strange circumstance, May 1977 he found himself in Lake Geneva at the door of TSR as employee number thirteen. After running the Dungeon Hobby Shop for a summer, he was bumped upstairs (literally) to the art department where he worked with Dave Sutherland and Dave Trampier on the original Monster Manual and was later assigned various editing and development tasks. It wasn’t long before he made a deal with Tim Kask, editor of The Dragon Magazine, to do a game called Snit Smashing and include it inside the magazine. This was soon followed by the obvious sequel: Snit’s Revenge, and led to several more games printed in The Dragon Magazine, including The Awful Green Things From Outer Space.

After leaving TSR, Wham wandered about aimlessly till he landed a job for many years as the computer guy at the Lake Geneva Public Library. On the writing front he collaborated on several books with Rose Estes, and did his own novelette in Christopher Stasheff’s The Exotic Enchanter. He has subsequently published more games, including Kings & Things (with Rob Kuntz) with West End Games and Games Workshop. The game later was published in German by Pegasus Spiele. Through TSR he did Mertwig’s Maze and The Great Khan Game (with Richard Hamblen). He also did a lot of basic design work on a total failure… the Sim City Card Game, and the much more accepted Iron Dragon, both from Mayfair Games.

More recent efforts include Planet Busters Troll Lord Games, and Dragon Lairds (with James M. Ward) from Margaret Weis Productions and a self-published expansion to Dragon Lairds.

For many years, instead of submitting finished games to game companies, Tom attempted to self-publish some games (Moose Quest, Whamgammon, and Battling Space Ships to name a few). The challenging part is they were all hand-made prototypes and they took a LOT of time and effort to create. Eventually Tom did publish a few more games with Z-Man Games (a reprint of Kings & Things and Feudality) before joining Dave and forming Tom Wham Games.

Dave Conant

Bio of Dave

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