In this issue, we take a quick look at the year that was and the year ahead, make sure your Christmas Sword shopping needs are taken care of and the usual bits and pieces.

So grab a nice warm mug of eggnog or your beverage of choice and take a few minutes out of your frantic schedule to de-stress sword style..
We aren't sure if they will make it in time for Christmas, but right now Blade Culture International is finishing up their first batch of SBG member designed blades from the Legendary Swords Project.

This time, to try and keep costs down and to reach customers that are normally cost prohibitive to ship to, we plan to ship the finished swords direct from the BCI forge - and if it all goes well, we may be able to absorb the costs and offer free worldwide shipping!

Stay tuned..
The saga of the gathering of the heroes story continues with chapter 3 out now, chapter 4 in a couple of weeks and chapter 5 before the next issue of the digest in 2019..

Plus there is also a side story and 'prequel' story 'Aofie and the Arena of Doom' - a long and winding tale through the Badlands of Eletreus preceding the events of the Gathering of the Heroes. So if you get bored during the holiday, be sure to check it out!

Top 10 Swords for Christmas 2018
As we have done for the last few years, our Christmas sword shopping page with our top 10 SBG recommendations for 2018 are in and will be updated as last minute stragglers arrive in stock (most notably, BCI and Hanwei, as well as those two new A.P.O.C. swords that are a couple of months overdue..

Check it out, this year we have some cool new products on offer that weren't even around last year so be sure to have a quick look.

Exclusively for Digest Subscribers
10% OFF
Be sure to enter code
[FLASH10] at checkout to save!*
Click the link above to automatically add the discount to your cart
As we discussed over on the forums here, the sword industry generally does not have enough profit to offer the kind of discounts you see for electrical products, etc for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. 10% is about the maximum - and will mean some products will be sold at a loss..

However, Digest subscribers get a 10% discount coupon code for today only and that will expire just after midnight EST on Saturday the 1st of December.

As almost all sites recommend getting Christmas shopping finalized by December the 10th at the latest, this is a great chance to pick something up at the lowest price possible - but only if you are quick.

* Discount cannot be applied to orders placed that do not use the coupon.
Video of the Month
Popular YouTuber Skallagrim discusses the basic rules of sword buying to help ensure you get a good sword every-time. Or at least, avoid the worst stuff.

Also great to see Windlass Steelcrafs is sponsoring him - they might be a company worth watching closely in 2019 and may be making many more similar interesting moves.
Best Forum Posts
Behind the scenes of how Brendan from Fable Blades comes up with his designs and how he finds the sword design within the steel..

Another one of our SBG artisans, we go behind the scenes to see how Jeffrey Robinson aka Brother Banzai forged this unique Yatagan/Katana hybrid..

If you live in Sydney Australia, here is an opportunity to train in traditional Japanese swordsmanship with Rous Sensei who opened a new dojo near the CBD.

Lancelot Chan does some side by side testing of Katana and Tang Dynasty Dao designs with interesting results.

A look back at 2018..
As we head into 2019, it seems appropriate to take a moment to pause and look back at the year that 2018 was in swords..

The year did not start that well, with the industry rocked in late 2017 by international shipping restrictions, factory closures all across China and a general acceleration of the downturn that has marked the sword industry for nearly a decade now..

And despite trade wars and shipping issues this year, at least as we move towards 2019 things are looking better than last year, though still many challenges remain..

Such is the nature of a niche micro industry I suppose..!

Anyway, much of the focus for this year has been developing the project and the swords for the Legendary Swords website experience - with the site finally launched in beta on September 20. And as we continue into next year, more time and energy will be focused on this project to create more designs, add more content and grow to the site and concept to maturity.

Before the launch however, I spent a solid 2-3 months saving all the best stuff from the SBG forums, adding dozens of new reviews and updating the entire main site with new articles and pages - especially with regards to sword making and customization.

And of course, I was also fortunate enough to go behind the scenes at Citadel Swords in Cambodia where the critical differences between high end custom and every production sword was made crystal clear - and in 2019 I hope to work closely with Citadel to produce some SBG designed swords - as I truly was blown away by the quality of their work.
Indeed, in recent years we have ended up being at the forefront of many new sword projects and collaborations - (some of which are behind the scenes quietly already underway) and 2019 should be no exception.

When no one else steps up to try something new, we will - and we don't mind too much if others follow along as our goal is simply to keep this industry we love moving forward and do our best to deal with the many challenges facing it..
That's it for 2018.. SBG will be closed from the 22nd of December to the 10th of January, during which time I will be traveling with my daughter from Japan to Australia to catch up with Grandpa and Grandma - a trip we started planned about a year ago.

Hope you all get to spend some great quality time over the holidays with family and friends. And don't forget. the next issue of the digest is not due until February - so until then, stay safe and happy swordening.

Paul Southren
Sword Buyers Guide Ltd | Sword Buyers Guide | Legendary Swords