As 2018 draws to a close, we here at Asmodee UK have been reflecting on what has been a very exciting year for ourselves, the wider Asmodee Group and the tabletop gaming industry as a whole.
It’s been full of massive new releases, busy conventions and milestones for our business and products – so join us for a look back at 10 of the highlights!
A New Look and a New House
The first day of January saw our rebranding take effect, changing our trading name from Esdevium Games to Asmodee United Kingdom! Having been part of the Asmodee Group since 2010, this was the right time for us to match our parent and sister companies around the world.
The changes to our business in 2018 haven’t just been cosmetic, either. This summer, we moved all of our warehouse operations into a large new facility in Bordon, not far from our offices in Alton. Our rapid growth in recent years had simply seen us outgrow all of our existing warehouse space, necessitating a new facility, and the whole team pulled together to make the transition as smooth as possible.
While circumstances prevented us from fulfilling our wish of placing this new warehouse within Alton – the home of our business – we have made sure to provide daily bus travel between Alton and Bordon for warehouse staff.
UK Games Expo: Bigger than Ever!
One of the biggest dates in our calendar every year is UK Games Expo, held in Birmingham’s NEC. This continually growing convention attracted a record 21,700 visitors in 2018 and we matched that growth with our most ambitious presence there to date. Attendees could hardly have missed our sea of tables and stands, demonstrating a wide variety of exciting titles both new and familiar.
With over 140 staff contributing to our operation, from demonstrations and previews in Hall 1 to the Fantasy Flight Games European Championships in Hall 2, it was a huge group effort! We’re already hard at work to do even better in 2019…
Big New Initiatives
As part of our effort to introduce even more people to the incredible variety of fantastic board games on today’s market, this year we launched two exciting new initiatives: the Modern Classics and Fun Fast Games ranges.
These are collections of games that complement each other to provide ideal entry points into gaming for those who might not be familiar with what’s on offer. We can spotlight them together at shows and conventions, support their store presence with branding materials and light a path to good next purchases for players who have tried one or two but not the full range.
Modern Classics represents the hit family games that have driven the growth of the industry in recent years. They are all accessible while being fun and challenging for new and veteran players alike, and between them they offer an introduction to the wide range of styles and genres on the market. The collection includes Ticket to Ride Europe, Catan, Carcassonne, Pandemic, Splendor and Dixit.
Fun Fast Games, meanwhile, does what it says on the tin. These are smaller games that play quickly, feature simple rules and can get players of all ages involved – often rewarding quick thinking and movement. They are Dobble, Bananagrams, Cobra Paw, Rory’s Story Cubes, Who Did It? and Dice Academy.
Milestones for Beloved Games
Two big releases this year showed off the enduring appeal of two of our Modern Classics in different and exciting ways!
2018 marked 10 years since the original release of Pandemic, Matt Leacock’s game of teaming up to cure deadly diseases that popularised cooperative gaming! The game remains incredibly popular while continuing to find new audiences, so it very much deserved the 10th Anniversary Edition published in celebration by Z-Man Games. Featuring incredible new components and artwork, it’s the definitive edition of the original game – essential for collectors and an impressive product to show off to new faces.
We also saw the release of Ticket to Ride: New York. This ‘express’ version of the smash-hit Ticket to Ride can be played in just 15 minutes, with players swapping trains for taxis as they race around the city to see the sights. It’s accessible for new players and offers tight and tense gameplay for existing fans – and we’re excited to see beloved games like Ticket to Ride continuing to innovate!
Dobble: it’s #1!
One of Asmodee’s biggest success stories is Dobble. The card game of speedy observation has had a fantastic 2018 – we sold our millionth copy in the UK as Dobble became the country’s single biggest-selling game of the year!
This came after claiming the prize for Game of the Year at the Toy Industry Awards in January, shout-outs from celebrities including YouTube star Zoella, and the launch of our new dedicated Dobble UK website. We’re all very proud of this simple but oh-so-addictive game and can’t wait to show you what’s coming up for it in 2019!
2018 has been a banner year for board games reaching new audiences through digital platforms! The team at Asmodee Digital have put out a number of titles that represent big milestones for tabletop adaptations.
Catan VR allows players on VR platforms including Oculus Go and Samsung Gear to fully immerse themselves in one of the world’s most popular tabletop games, playing against friends online as if they were right in front of you. Carcassonne represented Asmodee’s first venture onto the Nintendo Switch, with several more titles to follow the tile-laying classic in 2019.
PlayStation 4 players can get involved with Ticket to Ride thanks to its arrival via the PlayLink app, as well, but it’s not just direct translations of the tabletop experience that are thriving. The launch in Early Access of The Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game on Steam is a landmark in reimagining an exceptional tabletop game for a digital environment, which will only continue to grow with its full release next year.
Streaming from Spiel
Few dates are as important in the tabletop-gaming calendar as Spiel, the world’s biggest dedicated board-games convention in Essen. Naturally, in 2018 it was once again the place to be – and this year, better than ever before, Asmodee were able to bring fans from across the world into the experience.
The AsmodeeGames stream on Twitch was a huge success, offering viewers at home the chance to watch dozens of the hottest games from the show – and even participate in some of them through the chat! Four full days of live broadcasting from a hosting team including Geek and Sundry’s Becca Scott saw more than four million minutes watched, including sneak peeks, interactive games and game jams with some of the industry’s most renowned designers.
Enter the Crucible
Perhaps the most game-changing release of the whole year was KeyForge! Fantasy Flight Games’ pioneering Unique Deck Game uses an algorithm to ensure that every deck ever printed is a completely unique combination of cards that cannot be altered in any way. It’s a fast-paced, two-player duel with simple rules but strategic depth that emerges more with every game that you play.
Following the game’s release in November, it’s been amazing to see the great reception, with players excitedly trying out new decks, discovering combinations that only they can pull off, and experimenting with different ways to play the game. For our part, KeyForge has been a regular fixture at lunchtimes at the Asmodee UK office – we just can’t get enough!
With the game only a month old, we’re just beginning to see how far it can go. At time of writing, more than 330,000 decks have been registered on the official Master Vault app – and all that you need to see what all the fuss is about is just to pick up a single Archon Deck!
A Galaxy of Fun
It’s been a big year for fans of gaming in the Star Wars universe as two major new releases shook up your battles in a galaxy far, far away.
X-Wing Second Edition revamped and revitalised Fantasy Flight’s wildly popular miniatures game of dynamic space combat! With streamlined rules that bring the focus back onto the thrill of flying, the new edition has been very positively received. The game’s second wave of expansions arrived in December, which graduated the First Order and Resistance into fully fledged factions of their own, with two factions from the Clone Wars era to enter the action in 2019. It’s a great time to try out this beloved game if you haven’t already!
If you prefer your miniatures combat planted firmly on the ground, though, Star Wars: Legion is the game for you. Immersing players in the infantry combat of the Galactic Civil War, Star Wars: Legion features innovative and intuitive combat mechanics and its high-quality unpainted miniatures let players bring to life their favourite characters. With a host of expansions already available for players to customise their forces, more will come in 2019!
Celebrating Organised Play
One of our favourite things is seeing players from all kinds of backgrounds coming together to play their favourite games together, and our dedicated team continue to support Organised Play at store level and beyond for a wide variety of competitive and cooperative games.
We know that, for many players, the communities that emerge around these games are as much of a reason to take part as the games themselves, so it is thrilling to see barriers being broken at some of our flagship events.
A particular standout this year was the UK System Open for X-Wing, which was held in Birmingham in March and drew a full 500 players to make history as the single biggest tournament that the game has ever seen! Meanwhile, there were over 1500 entrants across a host of different games when the UK Games Expo hosted the FFG European Championships.
From duelling card games like KeyForge to miniatures wargames such as Star Wars: Legion – or even the cooperative thrills of Pandemic – we firmly believe that there’s an exciting Organised Play experience for everyone. We’d love to see more players getting involved in 2019!
It’s really been an incredible year, and we’re grateful to all of our retailers and players for helping to make it so! We hope that you’ll join us for more great games and amazing stories to come in 2019.