2009 turned out to be quite the active year for Miniature War Gaming. Almost all of the major players had important announcements to make. Despite the continuing down turn in the United States economy, several new companies started up and a handful of new games made their debut. Not everything was awesome and exciting, but I touch on these topics on the most recent episode of the Recon Report. Breaking things down by company, lets take a look what happened in 2009.
Privateer Press made the most significant announcements, detailing how their WARMACHINE line would be handled. 2009 will mark the year that Privateer Press finished the transition from the rebellious kid to the civilized adult. WARMACHINE MK II brought significant changes to game by bringing Warjacks back to the front of the battle. More importantly, Privateer Press began adopting a GW like business model. 2010 will see army books for the each of the game factions, plastic kits, and kits which contains parts to build one of several models. While shouting “Play like you got a pair, or put down the metal and play with something made of plastic” may be fun, it must not be an acceptable basis for a long term business model. In another move which reflects GW's business model, Privateer Press also released the stand alone Warjack themed board game called “Grind”. Monsterpocalypse continued to steadily move along with several new sets being released.
War of the Ring was one of the two new shiny toys from Games Workshop. Designed to revitalize the Lord of the Rings line, War of the Ring certainly had some success. Personally, I didn't find it too exciting, but I seem to be in the minority. A number of the local GW fans purchased a boat load of new LOTR figures. War of the Ring still lacks a starter kit, so that might be one new thing we see this year. My most favorite release from GW in 2009 had to be Space Hulk. The third edition of this fantastic specialist game saw a limited release back in September and if you can still find a copy, be sure to pick it up. Other then those two major releases, GW refreshed several armies as they always do. Still missing from these refreshes are the Dark Eldar and inquisition. On a related note, Games Workshop faced some serious criticism for issuing a number of cease and desist orders to a number of fan sites.
Catalyst Game Labs
CGL is currently licensed to produce materials for the greatest game ever game – Classic Battletech. A number of new rule books and upgrades for this game got released last year. After a failed bid to purchase Battletech, we saw a shift in CGL's strategy, but in all likelihood, this timing was more of a coincidence then anything. CGL released several stand alone games and began posting material for their first original miniatures universe – Leviathans. The intro rule book for Leviathans is currently available and the game will see a full release in 2010.
Catalyst Game Labs
Fantasy Flight Games
FFG had a pretty a solid year in 2009. Starting with Brood War in January and continuing with several Warhammer related releases throughout the year, FFG released numerous quality licensed titles. Brood War expanded on Starcraft and improved game play in many ways and I would certainly put Chaos in the Olde World in the running for Game of the Year. BSG Pegasus expanded on the already excellent Battlestar Galactica Board Game. In addition to licensed games, FFG also produced several original titles.
These guys are the new guys on the block...well sort of anyway. While Wells Expeditions is a new company by name, a number of the employees are former Wizkids employees. Much of the Wizkids heritage was visible in their debut game, Arcane Legions. It was a fast and simple playing game which turned out to be quite fun to play. Crappy figure quality is the only thing keeping this game from being a contender for Game of the Year. If it catches on, Arcane Legions will be a cheap alternative to Warhammer Fantasy. It makes me wonder if Well Expeditions has any plans to take on 40K in the near future.
Yes this company was closed in 2008, but now it is back. At least the name is back. The National Entertainment Collectibles Association purchased the Wizkids name and a number of the former Wizkids properties from Topps during the 2nd half of 2009. Curiously absent from the purchase was Battletech and Shadowrun. They did acquire the rights to Heroclix, which most people say was the most profitable Wizkids game up to the very end. As a result, it was no surprise that the first products to be released were based on Heroclix. NECA produces actions figures based on many popular video games, movies, sports, and music, so looking over their list of licensing, one can really speculate on what 2010 will hold. We will see the long awaited Gears of War game, or maybe something based on Twilight or Resident Evil.
2009 started out with a devastating loss for Upper Deck as Konami won an injunction against them preventing them from selling Yu-Gi-Oh. Some believed that this loss would kill Upper Deck, but here they are at the end of 2009 looking forward to 2010. While not an awesome game, WOW minis is usually fun to play. Our review can be found here. In 2009, Upper Deck expanded on the game with the “Spoils of War” set.
Be sure to check out our awards on Season 4 Episode 1 of the Tabletop Battlefield