Asmodee Appoints Sophie Gravel as Head of Studio at Z-Man Games, the Acclaimed Board Game Publisher of Pandemic, Carcassonne, and More Steven Kimball steps into a new global role as Asmodee’s Director of Special Projects.
Asmodee, an industry-leading international board game publisher, announced Sophie Gravel is now the Head of Studio at Z-Man Games, the Asmodee-owned board game studio that publishes Pandemic, Carcassonne, and more. This marks Gravel’s second tenure leading Z-Man Games, where she previously spearheaded the launch of Pandemic’s Second Edition among other successful projects. Steven Kimball, Z-Man’s prior Head of Studio, has been promoted to Asmodee’s Director of Special Projects, helping in various publishing efforts across all studios at Asmodee Group.
“I look forward to driving the continued growth of not only our iconic games like Pandemic, Carcassonne, and Love Letter, but also to take Z-Man’s signature approach of building games that are different, unexpected, and special into new games and projects,” says Sophie Gravel, Head of Studio at Z-Man Games.
Gravel rejoins Z-Man Games with over two decades of leadership in the board game industry. In 2002, she co-founded the board game distribution company Filosofia. Under her leadership, Filosofia expanded beyond distribution and began publishing board games, even adding CATAN to its list of supported brands. Filosofia purchased Z-Man Games in 2011 and rebranded to F2Z Entertainment, putting Gravel in charge of Z-Man Games for the first time. With Gravel at the helm, F2Z continued to expand its library of cooperative games, including Pandemic Legacy, which currently sits at the #2 top spot on BoardGameGeek’s overall ranking.
In 2016, Gravel sold F2Z Entertainment to Asmodee and almost immediately re-joined the board game industry, founding Plan B Games the following year. Under her leadership, Plan B Games created massively successful games like Azul, which has sold over 2 million copies and sits at the top spot for Abstract Games on BoardGameGeek. In March of 2021, Asmodee acquired Plan B Games, bringing Gravel full-circle.
“This will be Sophie’s second time leading Z-Man Games and, based on her past work with the studio, I know she is primed to accomplish great things. When I first visited Sophie’s office back in 2016, she was preparing me for my transition to lead Z-Man Games; now we get to do it all over again—but this time in reverse. It’s a surreal experience,” Steven Kimball, now Director of Special Projects at Asmodee, said. “I’m thrilled to take on the Director of Special Projects role at Asmodee. I’ll be involved behind-the-scenes: improving products, processes, and generally helping all studios to make even greater games and tell more amazing stories.”
Steven Kimball is a seasoned executive in tabletop gaming. He has worked in various roles at Asmodee North America for over 11 years at Z-Man and Fantasy Flight Games. As Z-Man’s Head of Studio since 2016, Kimball assembled and led the talented team responsible for new editions of Love Letter and Citadels, as well as Pandemic 10th Anniversary and two Pandemic Legacy games.
Before joining Z-Man, Kimball worked at Fantasy Flight Games as the studio’s Board Game Manager from 2014–2015. He also worked in FFG’s Product Development team as a developer and project manager. Notable ludography includes Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game, X-Wing 1.0, and Star Wars: Rebellion.