2009 Game company report cards
Brian Morris
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2009 has come and gone and there were some good games released this past year. Some companies did well while some others had off years. This list is to look at a number of popular game publishers and give them a letter grade on how they did in 2009. I give my take on how each company did in 2009 (your take will be understandably different) and then give you a chance to grade them based on how you think they did.

A couple of things to keep in mind here. Try not to compare apples to oranges, For example don't measure Compass Games with the same measuring stick as I do for GMT games. GMT games is a much more prolific publisher. Try to measure the company's year based off their past years and the company's potential.

In my descriptions I've tried my best to get the years right. It's sometimes difficult to remember if a game came out in early 2009 or late 2008. I've tried my best to be accurate on that but forgive any mistakes I've made on that.

Let's try to be constructive in our analysis. Let's not use this list to grind axes with a company because of some past personal complaint.

I of course am not familiar with every game publisher in existence so I have limited what I have listed to companies I have a reasonable knowledge of. Some companies like Avalanche, Worthington and the European companies I don't have a great deal of knowledge about so I haven't included them. If you want to include another company with comments I strongly encourage you to do so. Don't forget to add a poll to your addition so folks can grade them.
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1. Board Game Publisher: GMT Games
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
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2008 was a knock out year for GMT. The SPQR reprint along with new titles like Combat Commander Pacific, FAB The Bulge, Manoeuvre and my personal favorite Unhappy King Charles were all big hits for GMT. Definitely an A grade for 2008.

2009 not so much. 1805, Hellenes and PQ-17 were all very good titles and likely to get CSR nominations but none of them were runaway hits that shot up the P500 list like Combat Commander or a few other titles have been for them in the past few years. Halls of Montezuma got mixed reviews (I like the game myself) and while we did see a couple of Commands & Colors Ancients expansions released there just wasn't anything from GMT in 2009 that made people sit up and get really excited. 2010 looks to be a stronger year for GMT with titles like Washington's War, Stalin's War, Labyrinth and the long talked about Command and Colors Napoleonics.

Poll
Rate GMT's year for 2009
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D
F
      50 answers
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2. Board Game Publisher: Multi-Man Publishing
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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2009 it was a descent if not spectacular year for GMT. Overall MMP has never been as prolific in terms numbers as GMT but it came out in 2009 with a nice variety. Victory Denied was a good sized hit for Adam Starkweather and A Most Dangerous Time and Panzerblitz were well received. Like GMT 2010 is looking a stronger for MMP in terms of anticipated high profile releases than 2009 was.

Poll
Rate MMP's year for 2009
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D
F
      37 answers
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3. Board Game Publisher: Compass Games
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Compass Games while not as big as the big two i.e. MMP and GMT still has been known to put out some good games like Silent War but 2009 was a down year for them. Their big release was Spartacus which while having some of the best artwork of 2009 had some complaints about the scenarios and balance issues. That was pretty much Compass's big title for 2009. I still think Compass is setting itself up to become a player in the wargame market in the near future but 2009 just wasn't a big year for them.

Poll
Rate Compass Games year for 2009
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C
D
F
      25 answers
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4. Board Game Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Fantasy Flight is perhaps as far as hobby type games top of the heap in the US at the moment and thus the bar for them is set pretty high. The last several years have been pretty much A grades for them. The good news was 2009 was another stellar year.

In 2009 we saw new titles like the hugely popular Chaos in the Old World, Middle Earth Quest and Warhammer Invasion. It's strength this year though has been with it's expansions. Fantasy Flight is well known (one would almost say infamous) for it's expansions and in 2009 it was a big year for them. Popular titles like Arkham Horror, Descent, Talisman, Battlestar Galactica and A Game of Thrones all got big expansions. I was slightly disappointed not to see a new stand alone game from designer Kevin Wilson (I'm a big fan of Kevin's work) but I guess he was busy with the big expansions for Arkham Horror and Descent (both of which he did stellar work on). Hopefully we'll see something new from Kevin in 2010.

Poll
Rate Fantasy Flight's year for 2009
A
B
C
D
F
      58 answers
Poll created by mrbeankc
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5. Board Game Publisher: Valley Games, Inc.
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Valley Games is known for two things. Putting out reprints of classic wargames with really strong components with great graphics and having production delays. In 2009 they lived up to their reputation on both counts. As a small business owner myself who has dealt with similar production delays from a factory thousands of miles away. I honestly have sympathy pains for Valley Games on this count. Been there, done that and pulled some hair out over it.

Their big big title for 2009 was suppose to be Republic of Rome and all the graphic samples they showed look fantastic to say the least. They started pre-orders in the spring with the goal of a late summer release. Problem is it's now winter and still no Republic of Rome...sorta. The good news is Republic of Rome will be shipping this month. I almost included the option for Valley Games of incomplete on their report card but truth is in my mind you can't really credit a game released in 2010 for 2009. However if Republic of Rome comes out as good as it's looking I expect 2010 will be a much better grade for them and folks once they put RoR down on their game tables will be able to say it was worth the wait.

Poll
Rate Valley Games year for 2009
A
B
C
D
F
      46 answers
Poll created by mrbeankc
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6. Board Game Publisher: Z-Man Games
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Talk about a hard act to follow. 2008 was an A+ year for Z-Man, Pandemic, Wasabi and they published the US version of a little game called Agricola that some people enjoyed. In short 2008 was the year Z-Man became Z-MAN. How do you follow up a year like that? You release expansions for the games that came out in that year. 2009 some some nice expansions for both Agricola and Pandemic. While on the new game front they haven't had anything as popular as those two titles they have come out with some decent hits like Endeavor (which I keep seeing played and never get to play because every time it seems I'm playing Agricola with the new expansion), Dungeon Lords and Tales of the Arabian Nights. So even though Z-Man may not have had such a huge year hype wise as they did in 2008 it's really hard to say they had anything but a really good year. Sort of like rushing for 2,000 yards in an NFL season and then doing 1,700 the next year.

Poll
Rate Z-Man Games year for 2009
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D
F
      64 answers
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7. Board Game Publisher: Days of Wonder
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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2008 wasn't exactly a good year for DoW. They were taking a lot of heat from fans over their handling of Battlelore, lackluster Memoir expansions and some folks didn't like the way they parted their hair. DoW had a much better 2009. First off they produced some good Memoir expansions that were a lot better received than the campaign bag (I think most Memoir players received the H1N1 virus more warmly than they did that bag). On the new game front they had a huge hit with Small World which was a fantasy retooling of the rather good game Vinci. So while not a stellar year it was better than 2008 and showed DoW was back on the right track.

Poll
Rate Days of Wonder's year for 2009
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D
F
      57 answers
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8. Board Game Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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Rio Grande has a long and successful history of introducing popular games from Europe to the US and in 2009 they continued on that line although 2009 seems to be more of a year for expansions for them rather than new stand alone games (very much like the year Fantasy Flight and Z-Man did). Rio Grande published Dominion in late 2008 and in 2009 it rode the Dominion wave with several expansions that were well received by Dominion loves. 2009 also saw expansions for Cuba, Zooloretto, Race for the Galaxy and even Jambo. That's not to say they did only expansions. They also saw a number of well received stand alone titles like Power Grid Factory Manager. Over all not a bad year.

Poll
Rate Rio Grande's year for 2009
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C
D
F
      55 answers
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9. Board Game Publisher: Columbia Games
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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The company that has been the backbone of block gamers for years had a year that's really hard to put a grade on. Hard because they pretty much only released one game but that one game was really good. Richard III: The Wars of the Roses was Columbia's only release in 2009 but it's been a big hit for them. I guess though if you're only going to release one game in a year but the game is a hit at least you're batting a 1.000.

Poll
Rate Columbia Games year for 2009
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C
D
F
      35 answers
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10. Board Game Publisher: Legion Wargames LLC
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Legion published their first game in 2009, Ici, c'est la France! The Algerian War of Independence 1954 - 1962 - a very good first effort. Fun game, and very good components. They have a title or two they expect to release in 2010 - it will be good to watch how Legion develops.

Poll
Rate Legion Wargame's year for 2009
A
B
C
D
F
Incomplete
      7 answers
Poll created by wifwendell
 
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