Friday, December 31, 2010

Excuses, A-Holes, and End-of-the-Year Lists

That's right, its about that time - my end of the year lists! I don't know - this year was a little weird. Started out ok, then got busy at work and gaming just wasn't catching my eye. I've hit the saturation point of games (both from a "played that" kind of feel and purely out of space. I did discover a few new gems this year and my son and I have been playing a lot of Pokemon too. And not only did my plays drop off, but my writing did as well. Just too much work. Blech.

At any rate, this wasn't a terrible year for gaming. There was the Geekway 2010, the online Olympics and I introduced another co-worker to gaming. So lets start with all the "Cult of the New" games:
  • Die Macher - finally got to play this and I wasn't disappointed, but it was exhausting.
  • Undercut - Really unique bidding game using Treehous pieces. I like it.
  • Hermagor - This is a favorite of the AZ Gamers I play with, but it just doesn't do it for me.
  • Thunderstone - I like this at least twice as much as Dominion. It isn't the best game ever, but it is fun to me. I wrote a randomizer and web page to generate the cards to use...
  • Union vs Central - Another SUPER long game. This one is a two player logistics game that was fun, but there is so much effort to do anything, and about 1/3 of the actions you can take are "take that!!!" on your opponent. Seriously like a 10 hour two player game of back and forth.
  • Through the Ages - This is another I finally got to play and love. It is Civ in boardgame form. So good.
  • Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation - This is how Stratego should be. Fast, lots of bluffing and fun.
  • Bus - Cool at first, I apparently just didn't grok it and ended up lukewarm. The online interface doesn't allow you to make a mis-click. That doesn't help.
  • Fits - This is the slow boring version of Tetris. I love Tetris - this is meh.
  • UR - I should have loved this, but in our online Olympics, I was too frustrated with the randomness. That and Justin not reading the rules and giving Nathan wins every game.
  • Infinite City - This is a tile laying "take that" game. it was ok, but felt pretty random.
  • Neue Heimat - The best auction game EVER. This is a nasty game and I loved it.
  • Campaign Manager 2008 - This should have been a cool little card drafting game but it fell flat for me. The theme was cool at first, until you realize both sides cards are the same, just different flavor text.
  • Samarkand: Road to Riches - Surprising me this year was this beauty. It is quick and feels a little like Chicago Express. There is a bit of randomness that can take away control, but it plays so quickly you won't care.
  • Castle Panic - I hated this game. I played with people I like, but this just sucked.
  • Ra: The Dice Game - Boring. What can you say about a generic dice game that has a tacked on theme from a game with a tacked on theme?
  • Kingsburg - I do like this game, but only with the expansion. Dice games aren't my favorite, but they can be fun. Besides, other than Twilight Struggle, it was the only game I could beat Nathan at during the Geekway.
  • Dread Pirate - dumb dumb dumb. I didn't hate this like Castle Panic, but there wasn't much point in playing it either.
  • Oregon - I liked this one. Its a clever little tile game with interesting tactical choices.
  • Bisikle - This is similar to Pitchcar, except that you "flick" a little yellow ball with ball bearings. It allows you some control (much like a cue ball in pool) to do some interesting things. The track is plastic and interlocking, which makes for a naturally smooth surface.
  • Diamond's Club - This one didn't excite me - its a gather A to make B to score points kind of thing.
  • Orient Express - Noah brought this old game out. It is a who dunit mystery which was spoiled by luck - if you get lucky, you get more clues, which of course means you can solve the mystery first.
  • Take It Higher! - I enjoyed this one a lot. It is a puzzle game where everyone is placing the same piece to score multiple ways. This particular version has a bunch of extra things to think about, so it might be "too much of a good thing".
  • Thebes - I was surprised to like this one as much as I did. Very random, but fun little planning game and of course, it works well as a family game.
  • Claustrophobia - Another surprise. I had never heard of it, but saw it at the Geekway and got it for my son. This is a cool game - not quite a dungeon crawl, but close. Mechanics are pretty easy and cool with the dice. Well done two-player game.
  • Reef Encounter - I should like this game, but this is one where it really feels like randomness spoils a good abstract game.
  • Telestrations - Might be as good or better party game than Say Anything!
  • Gonzaga - This one was a bit different. You place different sized plastic pieces on the board - sort of "claiming territory". It is a bit of set collection via the claimed areas. Interesting and not bad.
  • Finito! - I don't remember much except this is short and I thought it was easy.
  • IGOR! The Monster Making Game - Total random filler. Cute, but not much here.
  • Top Race - I really like race games. Especially when you can screw other players. This was fun.
  • Fresco - Another gather A to make B to score points game. Meh.
  • D&D: Castle Ravenloft Boardgame - I'm a sucker for dungeon crawls. This is D&D for dummies and that's ok with me. I'm not into the whole role playing thing, I just want to bash stuff. It is a co-op, which is cool too.
  • Axis & Allies: D-Day - speaking of "for dummies", this is the A&A version for dummies. Its a quick intro style game for Axis and Allies, but there isn't a ton of replayability here. At least I finally played one of my Axis and Allies games.
  • Lost Cities: The Boardgame - a lot like the card game, but for four players and with a few twists to keep it from being the same each round.
  • 7 Wonders - I hadn't heard of this before, but it is a quick civ game based on card drafting. It was good enough to play twice in a row (a rarity for our group).
So, I'm not picking just one favorite from that group this year. I really really liked Neue Hiemat, Through the Ages, and Samarkand. They are all good games. For the bottom three: Castle Panic, Ra: The Dice Game, and Campaign Manager 2008 - BARF.

Next: Nickles and Dimes. These are the games played at least 5 or 10 times this year:
Balloon Cup

Pokémon Trading Card Game
Combat Commander: Europe
UNO (yeah, played this a bazzillion times this summer).

Reef Encounter
Through the Desert
Samarkand: Routes to Riches

I think that Ballon Cup ended up as my most played game - it was easy to teach and play with Robert throughout the year. We hate it now. Sadly, Samurai and a lot of other Knizia games left the PBEM world this year. It's too bad as Samurai remains one of my all time favorite games. A lot of the nickles were due to the PBEM Olympics, but as I also discovered, I wasn't a big fan of a lot of them. Ok, that's it for 2010 - hopefully I'll be around more next year!

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