Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top Ten Eurogame News Items from 2008

1. The economy hits board games

Following lead scares from last year, the game industry had its share of economic troubles. The biggest effect was the rising cost of fuel. This raised prices on specialty games that rely on pieces imported from Asia.

On the flip side, an economic crunch is a boon for toys and games come the holiday season, and the mainstream press not only pushed board games, but even dipped into the Euro game business on a number of occasions. Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Ticket to Ride made a number of recommended top ten lists, and Settlers was a best-seller on Amazon.com for while (following a large price reduction).

2. RIP Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax, father of roleplaying, passed away in February. Gary's roleplaying legacy can not be overstated when it comes to the design of modern board games, fantasy games, cardboard translations of online games such as Doom and World of Warcraft, and on and on.

Gary is also remembered for a number of other games, such as the highly regarded Robo Rally. Update: Sorry, that's Richard Garfield. I meant to write Chainmail, Dragon Chess.

3. Überplay closes

Überplay seemed to be doing quite well, providing some standard Euros as Ra, Alhambra, Metro, New England, For Sale, and Hansa.

Sadly, they folded up shop in April.

4. Agricola tops BGG list of games

It took five years, but a game finally dethroned Puerto Rico from its number one spot on Board Game Geek: the rather long and intricate Agricola.

Agricola still has far less votes than Puerto Rico, however. We shall see as time passes whether it can keep the spot.

5. Knizia wins Spiel des Jahres twice

Dr Reiner Knizia, widely regarded as one of the best modern game designers, had, as of 2008, yet to win the most prestigious prize in board gaming. That changed in 2008. Knizia won best game for Keltis, and the best kid's game with Wer war's.

6. Board games on the XBox

Last year Settlers and Carcassonne, this year Wits and Wagers, Ticket to Ride, Lost Cities, and Blood Bowl, plus many other board games. Not Talisman, however, because it's "too long".

Board games are now also making their way onto the IPhone, with several applications providing realistic dice shaking simulation.

7. Dice and card games

For some inexplicable reason, many of our favorite board game made some rather strange transitions this year into card games (that's fairly normal, at least), and dice games. Ticket to Ride and Samurai (still not quite released) became card games, while TtR, Ra (still not quite released), and Settlers all became dice games.

It may be possible to translate the fun of a board game into a card or dice game equivalent, but this is usually not the case; it's more an issue of continuing the brand.

8. BGG joins Facebook and Iphones

We can now get our daily BGG fix with applications that interface to BGG on Facebook and Iphones. Content trumps design, yet again.

9. Hot games
  • Battlestar Galactica: from Fantasy Flight, which means rich on components. And a well-loved game, as well.
  • Dominion: A non-collectible card game that plays like one, with on the fly deck-building.
  • Pandemic: A cooperative game with simple rules about fighting disease breakouts around the world.
  • Stone Age: Yet another resource collecting, civ building game.
  • Le Havre: The next release from the designer of Agricola, said to resemble Agricola in many ways.
  • Sorry Sliders: The name doesn't sound like it fits here, buy Sorry's kinetic pawn rolling game was deemed to be a Crokinole-lite.
10. Hot reprints
  • Cosmic Encounter: Always the most anticipated re-release, the new version from Fantasy Flight contains a lot that looks good.
  • Titan: While this dice-fest can hardly be considered a Euro, it's regarded with reverence by many (possibly due to the amount of money old copies could cost you).
  • Chinatown: A favorite negotiation game finally makes a second coming.

4 comments:

Mischa said...

Yehuda,

Richard Garfield designed Robo Rally.

Mischa

Yehuda said...

That's the second time I've made that stupid mistake. I knew that! Sigh. Thanks.

Yehuda

David said...

You can't get away with a top ten list and no argument, so I guess it's up to me...

I suggest the growth of Fantasy Flight Games is more significant than the demise of Uberplay. This is based on the number of games that FFG put out, the range in types of games, the fact that the company is able to produce quality games and find success in different categories, FFG's role in taking over games and game lines from other companies, and its ability to improve on deliverability and customer service despite all the rest that's going on.

Yehuda said...

David: And FFG's acquisition of Battlelore from DoW.

Yehuda