I’ve been seriously playing eurogames for about 15 years now. The Settlers of Catan was my gateway — both because it was the first euro that I owned, back in the ’90s, and also because it was the game that got me interested in the rest of the euro field, in the early ’00s. My first month of recorded games in October 2003 is a set of classics: Domaine (2003) x2, High Society (1995),New England (2003), Serenissima (1996), Starship Catan (2001), and The Settlers of Canaan (2003). It shows how heavily the special Ks of Kramer, Klaus, and Knizia impacted me in those early days of gaming.
In the fifteen years that I’ve been eurogaming, the field has transformed pretty notably. I mean, change is a constant; I tried to talk about the ongoing transformation of the field in yearly reports for 2005 and 2006 but I eventually decided that the board gaming field was too slow moving for that type of yearly reporting to be meaningful.
But now it’s 15 years past my entry to the field … and you can see a lot of change in 15 years!
So, to close out this year, I’m going to talk about what I see as some of the major changes in the eurogame field between the start of this century and … today.Continue reading →
Another year has slipped through our fingers, and as 2006 comes to a close I’ve decided to write up another year in review, much as I did for 2005.
I wrote in 2005 that I thought the biggest change of that year was the growing bifurcation of the gaming industry, with older manufacturers starting to back off of the gamer’s market while newer manufacturers were going for the more complex side of things.
I’m happy to say that, if 2006 is any judge, that was a short-term trend. Hans im Gluck, Alea, Kosmos, and others all put out more serious games this year, suggesting that either 2005 was an anomoly or else a misstep; though mainstream German publishers will probably never again publish games like those seen at the height of 2000 or so, they’ve definitely returned to a level that will make many of us happy if Blue Moon City, Augsburg 1520, On the Underground, and others are any predictor of the future.
And for 2006, if I noted any general trend, it would be the growing importance of the American side of the gaming industry. Days of Wonder and Fantasy Flight Games together embody that strength and seem to both have done quite well, as I’ll discuss more later. However we also saw smaller publishers like Atlas Games put out some very German games, and even Mattel gave it a shot. Only the bankruptcy of Eagle Games suggested any downward trend in the American rise of designer games, and I suspect that was an anomoly itself, the result of Eagle’s investments in Poker, not board games.
Another year is behind us, and as January slowly dawns over the horizon of the twenty-first century, our ever-human instinct is to look back and reflect upon what the previous year brought.
It was, in general, a year of growth and change for the gaming industry. I’m not convinced that any true classics were produced last year. I think that Caylus will ultimately prove too long to support its continued rating as a top-10 game. However, there were a decent number of good, gamer’s games which I’m happy to own and which will continue to occasionally hit tabletop for many years.