A Retrospective: The Biggest Boardgame News and Scandals of the Year, by Month
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Now that the year is almost over, its time to look back on the biggest headlines from around the boardgaming world by month.









Disclaimer 1: I'm a bit nervous about releasing this one, given that everyone will inevitably compare it to my previous list and say I was funnier before, but its been rattling around in my head too long to keep ignoring it. This one wore me out, so if you don't like my lists, rejoice, it'll be awhile before I do another one, methinks...

Disclaimer 2: If you're an Agricola or Power Grid fan... its called dark humor.

Disclaimer 3: shreveportLAgamer, I am sure you will find much to object to. Please spare all the rest of them and just geekmail me. Thanks.
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1. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:698]
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JANUARY

The year started off with a bang. Who can forget the day this story broke in boardgaming sports world on sportsillustrated.com?

"End of the Fellowship?"--Boromir to Declare Free Agency At Season's End
--Rivendell, Middle Earth

Today, a member of the wildly popular and incredibly hyped "Fellowship" announced that he will become a free agent at the end of the season. Boromir, who has long been rumored to be unhappy with team captain Gandalf's acquisition in the off season of four Hobbits from the Shire Team, announced through his agent, Wormtongue, that he will declare free agency at the end of the year.

This does not suprise many observers, who predicted trouble out of the volatile star as soon as he joined the team. Sources close to the team say that Boromir never really bought into Gandalf's vision for the team, and that there have been frequent clashes between Boromir and other team members at Rivendell.

Boromir and Gandalf have both publicly denied these claims, but todays announcement seemed to lend credence to the reports. When asked if he was declaring free agency with the intention of leaving the team, Boromir said that he "did not want anyone to think he was unhappy with the team," but that he felt that his "contributions and viewpoints deserved a larger role than they had been given in the past."

When asked if there was a possibility that Boromir could soon be seen wearing the Red Eye of the Fellowship's arch-rival club Sauron, Wormtongue said that "nothing is ruled out at this point, but given that contract negotiations between Boromir and the Fellowship have not even begun, it is really the wrong time to begin speculation on who Boromir might wind up playing for."

This certainly puts into perspective the...
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2. Board Game: Hammer of the Scots [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:299]
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FEBRUARY

February saw some interesting news out of the US, where a joint investigation between the Federal Trade Commission and the Immigration and Naturalization Service revealed some interesting news that challenged what we knew about boardgames. The story first broke on the Associated Press Wire on 17 February.

"Hammer of the Scots" Armies Less Than 30% Scottish, Government Alleges
--Washington, D.C.

The FTC and INS today announced the results of an investigation of armies brought to the US as part of Hammer of the Scots. The investigation began from unspecified tips made to the FTC and was eventually enlarged to include the INS; the Scottish government was also closely involved across the Atlantic.

A close examination of the records of more than 10,000 soldiers brought to fight in the US as part of Hammer of the Scots revealed that only about 30% were actually Scottish. In some units, the percentage was as low as 5%, and one regiment in a New Jersey game was actually comprised completely of Romanians. Most of the "Scots" were actually Irish or Welsh, according to INS investigator Robert Thorpe. "Many Americans are unable to tell the difference between various accents, so they fall prey easily to someone with an accent claiming to be Scottish, although the fact that Romanians were able to pass themselves off as being Scots is troubling," he said.

When asked to comment, one company official associated with Hammer of the Scots who asked not to be named had this to say: "With the game's unexpected popularity, the tight Scottish labour market, and the weak dollar, it is difficult to get that many Scots. At first we had a policy of no more than 10% but when we discovered that most Americans couldn't tell the difference anyway, we just got greedy."

William McAllen, leader the Scottish War Reenactors Union, used the announcement to call for tighter scrutiny of Scottish war games and announced the possibility of a general strike of all Scottish units involved in all wargames if the situation was not resolved in a timely manner. The Scottish War Reenactors Union, the largest union of its type in Scotland, recently negotiated a contract which specified that units calling themselves Scots must be no more than 15% non-Scot.

The EU announced that it too would take action against...
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3. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:28]
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MARCH

March was a sad time in the community, marked by the passing of an icon. What was sadder, of course, was the manner in which he died.

March brought the publication of Pierre LeFevre's, Europe in the Dark: The Secrets of European Electricity (Harper Collins, 2007. ISBN 45677-23). The most damning accusation made in the book was that Hans Kohl, the well-respected former head of Germany's largest utility was actually Hans Blicero, former Nazi and integral part of the V-2 rocket program, in particular, the shadowy S-Gerat program.

Although LeFevere's research concerning the Kohl/Blicero connection was later discredited, the titan of Germany's utility industry never recovered from the stress of the tabloid battle, and died on the 24th of March. Kohl was 97 at the time of the book's publication and already in poor health.

He was, however, comforted on his deathbed by the knowledge that his name was definitively cleared when Israeli officials announced on March 19th that Blicero had already been taken into custody in the spring of 1978. Mourners filled the streets of Berlin when his death was announced, and condolences poured in from all of Europe when he passed.

His picture appears on the left, and may we all remember Hans Kohl as a great man who brought light and electricity to many across all of Europe.
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4. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.39 Overall Rank:15319]
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APRIL

April brought news that one of the community's most recognized and divisive figures was indicted in what was surely one of the year's biggest stories. CNN first broke the story in the US.

Millionare Tycoon Indicted on Tax-Evasion Charges
--Atlantic City, New Jersey

The millionare tycoon known as "Mr. Monopoly" in the real estate world was indicted today by a grand jury in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for tax evasion related to literally hundreds of thousands of real estate transactions going back as far as 1935.

The IRS alleges in its grand jury testimony that the wealthy businessman evaded property tax, income tax, luxury tax, and poor taxes for over 70 years, racking up an impressive $7.5 billion back tax bill, believed to be the largest in US history.

When asked by a reporter about the charges, and how he could possibly have avoided paying taxes for all those years without being caught, Mr. Monopoly replied "Blind dumb luck, I suppose--like most of my business transactions." His lawyer later called to clarify his statement saying "Mr. Monopoly is well over 90 years old and should not be asked to speak without preparation regarding these matters."

Additional charges come in the form of bank fraud, wherein several large banks including HSBC, NationsBank and Loyds of London charge that Mr. Monopoly was the repeated beneficiary of strange bank errors in his favor, but made no attempt to rectify the situation, instead refusing to cooperate with investigators attempting to get to the bottom of the problem.

While this is not Mr. Monopoly's first brush with the law, it definitely the most serious. In 1956, he was accused of...

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5. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:16]
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MAY

May brought us the terrible truth behind the supposedly "peaceful farming community" of Agricola. Reuters reporters on the scene were the first to break the story.

Peruvian Government Raids Farming Town of Agricola
--Agricola, Huanuco Province, Peru

Gunfire crackled in the pre-dawn of the farming community of Agricola today, as Peruvian special forces descended on the town in the highlands of Huanuco in search of Shining Path militants.

In an hour-long exchange of gunfire, six Shining Path members were killed and fifteen detained while one Peruvian soldier was killed and three wounded. Peruvian officials showed the press what was recovered in the village, once held up as an example of a peaceful agrarian community. Peruvian military officials recovered 175 AK-47 rifles, several dozen rocket propelled grenades, approximately 150kg of military grade explosives, and over 300kg of cocaine, believed to have been used to fund the recently resurgent Shining Path in the province.

A website associated with the Maoist group claimed that "three brave Sendero Luminoso martyrs died for the people of Agricola" and that 27 of the "Yankee imperialist attack dogs" had been killed, as well as 15 civilians. Peruvian officials dispute this claim, and when reporters were allowed into the city, there appeared to be little damage to the town itself, save one walled compound where the weapons were recovered.

Although many in Europe and America held Agricola as a model for a mountain agricutural community, the Peruvian government claims that many in the town actively aid the Shining Path, which has been responsible for violence in Peru since the inception of its "Revolutionary Directorate" in 1980. In fact, the Peruvian government expects to press charges against several in the town not already detained by security forces in the coming weeks.

The Shining path, once thought dead in the early 1990s, have made a recent resurgence in the Huanaco province, killing eight policeman in 2005. The military announced...
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6. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:15]
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JUNE

In June, there was yet another scandal regarding labor in Puerto Rico.

European Governments Charge That Imported Labor In Puerto Rico Being Treated Unfairly
--Madrid, Spain

Today Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, and several governments outside Europe including Morocco and Indonesia announced that they would restrict travel of their citizens to Puerto Rico if labor conditions in the country were not improved.

"Our citizens are travelling to Puerto Rico under the auspices of a contract for honest work, but are then being forced into doing dangerous jobs for low pay and then forgotten about by their employers," said Carlos Ramos, a spokesman for the Spanish government. He alleges that when workers are sent to Puerto Rico, their passports and travel documents are taken from them and claims that after a year of work, the families of those moved to Puerto Rico never hear from their loved ones again.

This sort of scandal is not new to Puerto Rico, where large employers have previously dodged allegations that their workforce was comprised of slave labor. A spokesman for El Gato Negro, the largest importer in Puerto Rico denied the charges. "This is another blatant attempt at economic protectionism by trying to smear us with baseless charges," he said in a press conference and expressed his "firm belief that we will be cleared by the law."

Indeed, this seems likely, as the cousin of El Gato Negro's owner resides in San Juan and just assumed the role of The Chief Justice, making a guilty verdict unlikely...
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7. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:268]
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JULY

In July, the EU's European Court of Justice issued a landmark ruling with far reacing implications on those pillars of the gaming world, adventuring heroes. BBC first reported the story in late July.

Overlord Successfully Sues for Return of Looted Artifacts
--The Hague, Netherlands

The European Court of Justice issued a stunning verdict today, overturning thousands of years of presidence, when they found that dungeon Overlords have the right to sue for the return of items looted from their dungeons, temples, and haunted palaces by bands of roving heroes.

Hero rights to treasure have long been considered inviolate, but all that may change if the Court's ruling stands. In the case in question, an Overlord charged that several artifacts taken from his dungeon by a team of Italian adventurers are of "significant cultural and historical importance" to the Goblin Nation and "are widely the recognized property" of Dark Necromancy. The court agreed, and ordered that the items be returned to the Overlord and that the heroes pay a record 1.3m Euro settlement for damages incurred when they took the items from their resting places.

Heroes everywhere were watching the case closely, and were outraged at the court's decision. "They've turned their backs on a thousand years of tradition," lamented Grothar Mapleshield, a Belgian dwarf who has participated in dozens of dungeon raids, "Should Arthur have given back Excalibur?" he continued, "Will Jason's family have to return the Golden Fleece? Next, they'll be wanting to haul Promethieus off to court for 'stealing' fire!"

While the British government has not given an official opinion on the case, there was already condemnation of the verdict by the courts of Norway, France, and Germany, and the United States has announced that it does not intend to cooperate in any future cases brought against American adventurers in the European Court of Justice.

Evil Overlords everywhere, however, rejoiced at the news, and the Shadow of Doom, the official Overlord spokesman said that the victory today represented "the end of thousands of years of prejudice and the quasi-legal destruction and looting of valuable cultural treasures." He also made it clear that the Overlords will continue to use the legal system to recover their items, even if they were taken hundreds of years ago.

News of the court's decisions sparked angry street protests in...

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8. Board Game: Heroscape Expansion Set: Jandar's Oath [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
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AUGUST

August again thrust sports into the headlines, this time it was Heroscape that was rocked by scandal. The Valhalla Times broke the news.

"Ragnarok for Heroscape?"--Widespread Doping Alleged
--Valhalla City, Valhalla

The Heroscape League was rocked today, when information related to the US government's probe of the BALCO scandal in baseball and the European Cycling Commission's report on doping in the Tour de France spilled over into Heroscape.

According to documents obtained by the Valhalla Times, several popular Heroscape figures are the targets of ongoing investigations by both US and French investigators, simultaneously but independently. The US report indicates that anabolic steroid use is widespread in Heroscape circles, while the French reports make the unsettling charge that many of Heroscape's faster stars make use of HGH and blood doping.

What is more, Jandar, Mandillon and others high in the Valhalla hiearchy seem to have known that illegal drug use was an issue since as early as 1104, but have steadily denied that their sport has a problem. The leaked documents will make it difficult for the league to continue issuing denials, especially since the US BALCO investigation will be made public in the United States next month and a report by the Tour de France Committee is expected in November.

Among the well known Heroscape figures named as possible drug users include the wildy popular Krug, intensely loved by his Orc fanbase. When asked for comment, an elf athlete who asked not to be named seemed unsurprised. "This guy came into Valhalla 150 years ago, and now he's hitting harder than ever? I mean, I've heard of growing into your role, but this is rediculous. Plus, if you look at pictures when he first came, you can see how much he's grown since then. He's getting older, and he shouldn't be getting stronger like he has been."

The Valhalla Times was unable to get an official comment from the League of Unending Warfare, and calls to Commissioner Jandar's office were not returned...
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9. Board Game: Merchants & Marauders [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:197]
 
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SEPTEMBER

September brought good news for business owners involved in transporting goods across sea lanes. TV1 in France reported the news.

Age of Piracy Officially Over--Downgraded to Age of Buccaneers
--The Barbary Coast

Today, the French Navy offically announced that the Age of Piracy has ended, with pirate activity having been reduced worldwide such that the Age can officially be downgraded to the Age of Buccaneering.

"Recent naval operations off the Barbary Coast, the Somolian Coast, Indonesia, and in the Carribbean have officially reduced pirate activity to buccaneering," said Admiral Jean LeClerc today.

Worldwide, several other governments joined in France's declaration that the Age of Piracy was over, including India, Japan, South Africa, Canada, and Brazil. Further announcements are expected from other governments in the coming months. On Tuesday...

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10. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
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OCTOBER

Sex made the headlines in October, when one of the founding Settlers of Catan was charged with sexual harrassment by a female employee. The Economist covered the story in depth.

A Snag in Europe's Economic Success Story
--Catan, Catan

When it was announced last week that two of the founders of Catan were going to court, the first shots were fired in what some observers believe may be Europe's ugliest business court battle yet.

An unnamed female settler employed by Jens Christiansen is charging him with sexual harrassment and, according to court documents, is considering a sexual assault charge based on events that took place during a Christmas party in 2006.

The case is the first test of Catan's fledgling justice system, and will no doubt reveal more of the internal workings of Catan than its settlers, traders, knights, seafarers, and starfarers would like. The court fight promises to be fought not only in the halls of justice, but also in the halls of public opinion and the back alleys of tabloid newspapers. Already, some tabloids in Catan are claiming to have lewd pictures of the woman who has brought the suit, and Jens has already claimed that the whole case is one of a workplace romance gone sour.

Meanwhile, other prominent women in Catan are backing the plantiff, and have leveled charges of systemic sexual harrassment in Catan, a charge that the business leaders of the prosperous island nature are anxious to overcome. Depending on how much detail is released to the public, the case could have serious consequences on the perception of Catan-made goods.

When news of the suit was announced last week, sheep and grain futures fell sharply, and some predict that the uncertainty brought on by the case could spread to the brick industry and logging sectors as well. The saving grace for industries involved in the...
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11. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:14501]
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NOVEMBER

November brought some news that was good, and surprising. TASS, the Russian official news agency reported the results of a ten year study by the Russian Ministry of Health.

"Risk" Risk Less Than Previously Thought
--Moscow, Russia

The results of the ten year "Risk Study" commissioned by The Ministry of Health have been released, and they show that Risk is actually 23% less risky than previously thought.

An earlier joint study by Japanese and American researchers completed in 1967 showed that Risk was 85% risky, but the most recent study, conducted across 8 cities, with a sample size of 1,500 adults revealed that Risk was actually only 62% risky for most segments of the population.

The study found that the causes for the reduction in risk include better made dice which roll sixes more proportionally as well as better technology for capturing the results of...
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12. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:133]
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DECEMBER

Finally, this month has already brought some interesting news from the field of archeology.

New Translation of Ancient Hireoglyphics Reveals Ra Totally Misrepresented
--Cairo University, Egypt

Scholars today at Egypt's Cairo University announced that due to a translation error made by a second year grad student at Oxford in 1921, much of what the world knows of Egyptian history and culture is completely incorrect.

As an example, it is now known that the Egyptians did not engage in peaceful bidding with one another for Ra's favor which he then scored using an elaborate system of tiles. Instead, new translations reveal that they challenged each other in single combat to the death for his favor, and then hung the slaughtered corpses of those they had beaten as a warning to those who would challenge them.

These new translations have shaken the archeological world, and have profound implications for many others as well. For instance, the widespread belief that Egyptians revered cats has now been completely discredited, when it was discovered that translating the hireoglyphics correctly reveal that Egyptians hated cats, regarding them as a plague on their society and, far from worshipping them, actually...
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