1. Geekdo

BGG seemed to be everywhere and do everything this year: it rewrote its database, promoted live from Essen, added several new members to its staff, and ran their largest ever BGG.con . Links and citations to BGG popped up everywhere, too.

Meanwhile, BGG, in preparation for total world domination, expanded its site to include RPGs. By doing so, the site got a new, more general, name: Geekdo.

Too bad Geekdo still has occasional and frustrating downtime issues (not too often, but enough to be irksome).

2. Conventions

Despite a retracted economy, the big conventions such as CHITAG, Origins, GenCon, Essen, WBCs, and BGG.con attracted people in good numbers: 27,000 people hit GenCon (slightly down from 27,900), Origins shrank 18% to “over 10,000”, while BGG.con was up from 800+ to 920+.

3. Euros in the mainstream media

Although still ignored in favor of the latest Hasbro products by many, and woefully dissed by at least one, many mainstream newspapers are getting hip to Euros.

Wired called Settlers of Catan the Monopoly killer in March, while the Wall Street Journal called Settlers a viral sensation toward the end of the year. West coast papers routinely trumpet Eurogames. Settlers, Ticket to Ride, and occasionally Dominion and others sneaked their way into some enlightened articles by enlightened journalists. Pandemic also got a number of significant mentions, owing at least in part to the outbreak of swine flu.

Games, in general, were buoyed by a bad economy, as paper after paper took the time out to tell us.

4. Martin Wallace vs FRED

Martin Wallace and FRED Distribution took their fight public across various forums and web sites. In short, FRED sued Martin for not delivering games that he was allegedly paid for and owed to Eagle Games, whose assets were acquired by FRED.

The division gave us both Steam (from Wallace) and the 3rd edition of Age of Steam (from FRED), both excellent games, but perhaps one too many for the marketplace.

5. GW vs its fans

After reprinting the long awaited Space Hulk, Games Workshop went ahead and pissed off its fans by trying to maintain their usual tight grip on IP. They sent DMCA letters to the Geek asking them to remove hundreds of fan submitted aids and variants for GW products, many of which were not causing any financial harm to GW. On the contrary, they improved the quality of GW’s games, and probably led to more sales.

But that’s the GW we all know and love.

6. Game Report closes

The Game Report was a good, comprehensive site for board game, CCG, and RPG related press releases, with the occasional actual news item thrown in for good measure. GR was the online site of Scrye magazine, and Scrye was shut down by its parent company, F+W Media.

7. RIP Dave Arneson

Last year Gary Gygax passed on, so Dave’s passing was a double blow to the gaming community. While not directly involved in Eurogames, Dungeons and dragons is the progenitor of any dungeon crawl board or card game put out today, of which I could name at least a hundred.

Keep rolling 20s, Dave.

8. Video reviews

It used to be just Scott Nicholson, and then Tom Vasel started doing them, and they do them well. Now it seems like board game video review sites (2d6, Board to Death, …) are popping up all over the place.

Is blogging in general moving to video, or is this a board game need I’m unaware of?

9. Games

These games from 2009 made a spash:

10. Two companies that also made a splash

AEG is an old company (Legend of the Five Rings, and several RPGs), but they exploded onto the scene at the end of 2008 and throughout 2009 with half a dozen board game titles for Eurogamers, such as Infinite City.

Tasty Minstrel Games entered the business with two Eurogames: Homesteaders and Terra Prime. (disclaimer: TMG are former advertisers on PP).

Maybe next year: Games in airport lounges?

Toward the end of the year, a pilot project with a major airline was successful enough to warrant expanding the project across the US: airport club lounges for this airline will have piles of board games available to play, and they will be good ones. More information on the topic is awaiting the official press release from the company in question.

Now all they need is on-site staff to teach the games. And enough time to play Power Grid before the passengers have to board.