Best Gaming Company
That’s not an easy category at all. There are a couple of gaming companies that did well this year. But in my opinion the best gaming company this year was Paizo Publishing. I have to admit I don’t play Pathfinder myself, but I appreciate what they’ve done for their fans this year. Releasing their brand-new game for open alpha and beta testing was a bold move. And they even repeated this for the new classes etc. they developed. They also run regular contests for fans and as I’ve heard their customer support is one of the best.
Best Gaming Company, Small Press Division
Hmm, I am not sure if you can call Q-Workshop a “Small Press” gaming company, since they produce dice and not anything in print, BUT they are small all right! This small company from Poland produces the best-looking dice I’ve ever seen in my life. Instead of using fancy materials these dice have elaborate designs which make Q-Workshop dice really unique. I don’t know how many Euros I spend on their products last year (it was probably much too many), but let me assure you that they make perfect gifts for any roleplayer. This makes Q-Workshop my best small gaming company of 2009.
Best Sci-Fi Product
There have been quite a few great SF game releases last year and it was quite hard for me to pick a winner, but I think I choose Diaspora (Read my post on it here). The FATE powered game is not as flashy as many of it’s competitors but it’s one of the games that impressed me most in 2009. It’s incredibly well written and is probably one of the best implementations of the FATE rules I’ve read. When I have the time I will definitely try to run a short Diaspora campaign in 2010 and even if not, I might use the cluster generation rules to create solar systems, etc. for my Ad Astra game.
Best Fantasy Product
For me the best fantasy product last year was Green Ronin’s Dragon Age RPG. Based on the successful Dragon Age: Origins video game it combines a fresh new setting with rules-light game mechanics reminiscent of old-school games. The boxed set will probably come out in early 2010, but when you preorder the box, you get the PDF version for free. In my opinion it’s a great game to introduce new people into the hobby, but even veteran players may enjoy a Dragon Age campaign. My girlfriend is very excited about that game, too, because she enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins tremendously, so I will have to run that in 2010, too. 😉
This concludes part 1 of my “Best & Worst of 2009” series. Stay tuned for more!