Friday, April 21, 2017

Cult of the NOT So New April 2007

BGG user JonMichael Rasmus (jmsr525) has been doing analysis of the games and their trends each month for, well what seems like forever. I thought it might be interesting to look back at what was so hot 10 years ago, so sit back and enjoy this blast from the past. Based on information in the geeklist - BGG Top 100 Analysis April 2007.

Prime Mover - Blood Bowl: Living Rule Book
In April 2007, this moved up 12 spots to #64. Not bad for a "game" published in 2004. This stuck around the Top 100 for a while (I recall seeing it in many a March Madness bracket over the years). I myself never played, though it did sound like fun, right up to the point where there was a big rulebook and it was a Games Workshop thing where you had to paint a team (little did I know that I'd be consumed with painting years later).

Still a thing? Ten years later, this has fallen to #154 on the charts. In 2016 a new revision was released, but it hasn't even come close to the reception of the previous. I'm not sure if that is because the new version hasn't been well received, or its just one of those things where the earlier version happened in the right time and place, and the new one has a lot more competition for gamer's attention. Sometimes a classic is a classic for a reason.

Falling Star - Leonardo da Vinci 
Leonardo da Vinci fell 16 places to #83. Knowing not much about it, I read that Leonardo da Vinci is a worker placement game with an interesting bidding mechanism (well, maybe 10 years ago it was, who knows...). I scanned the reviews and it seems to have been your basic worker placement with a thin theme and average art. I suspect it got a little buzz on release and then began its drop.

Still a thing? Leonardo da Vinci continued to fall, and today sits at #848


Hot Lava Birth for April 2007 - Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization #97
Crap. That's what I think about this game - it is crap. It isn't what I originally thought, oh no. Through the Ages is really the boardgame version of Civ (the computer game we all loved back in the day) - even though they came out with an actual licensed version of Civ as a boardgame, Through the Ages was the one that was just like playing the electronic game on the table. I remember when this game came out. Despite how "great" it was, the original printing had issues - the original board was really bad - scoring track all screwed up or some such, warped cards, etc. And yet this was still very popular because, well, CIV!  Frankly (and I appear to be in the minority about this), the game feels pretty flawed. I'm sorry, but Military is too important, you can get hosed by the order of the cards coming out - woe to the player that can't get any military without just hosing themselves up. People have said that they have never seen it. I've seen it a number of times. The game also promotes bashing the loser (which is horribly unfun for them). I get it - it isn't very thematic to bash the leader, you naturally bash the little guy and steal his ice cream - you avoid the big bad bully. But in terms of game balance, it doesn't work. I refuse to try the newest incarnation as nobody has convinced me this has been fixed. I loved my first couple playings, but a lot of plays revealed these nasty warts and it was just too long a game to play with those flaws.

Still a thing? Yeah! Just recently it was redone - despite this version sitting at #16! If you only play this once or twice a year, I could understand why you'd rate it really highly, but a long civilization game that requires you to pursue a heavy amount of on strategy feels broken to me.

Top Ten Trends for April 2007
Nothing earth shaking. Twilight Struggle and Princes of Florence swapped places with TS moving up to #7 and Princes of Florence moving down to #8.

Still a thing? Twilight Struggle has continued its climb and today sits at #3. Princes of Florence  not so much. Princes of Florence fell all the way back to #93. My best guess is that Princes of Florence (like a lot of stuff around this time) quickly outgrew its freshness. It is also an auction game, and that mechanism seemed to haven fallen out of favor with gamers.

Top 5 Winning Movers for April 2007
(These are the highest ranked games that have shown any positive position movement [up the charts] that aren't in the BGG top 10.) 
* Shogun (Fourth Month!)
* Paths of Glory
* Taj Mahal (Second Month!)
* Samurai
* Hammer of the Scots

Shogun had re-done the hard-to-get (at the time) Wallenstein, so no surprise here. The new version was well done and just as fun. Some prefer the original map, but I think this was a minor quibble - I actually like the Shogun map. If you haven't played either, the cube tower is brilliant (the same one that was re-used in Amerigo, but it was used better here). This is still a good game (it and Wally are both pretty similar, just set in different locales) and both are fairly available. I also like the expansion for Shogun.

Paths of Glory is a CDG set in WWI and though I've not played it, I believe it is still highly regarded.

Taj Mahal is a Knizia game that was released as part of Alea's Large Box Series. Not unlike a number of his games from this era, it was a little odd and had tight underlying math. It might have been more popular except the print runs were small - Rio Grand Games had options for the Alea games back then, and didn't exercise them on all of the games in the set - much to a lot of collector's chagrin. I believe they did a small print run here if only because of the Knizia name. This was number three in the series (I believe RGG had skipped #2 - Chinatown), so it was still early enough that I don't think they understood that people were going to collect these. Regardless, the game is abstract in that classic Knizia way, so you really have to be a fan to love this one. I played this a handful of times and just never loved it.

But speaking of loving a Knizia game - Samurai was also a mover. Here was a game released in 1998 moving up the charts almost ten years later! I'm not sure if MaBiWeb's online implementation had anything to do with it, but I love this game so I'm happy to get to mention it. This was recently redone by FFG. As far as I know, nothing about the rules have changed, FFG just gave it a facelift - I still like the original's look myself. The game isn't perfect - in that there doesn't seem to be a way to handicap the game so that a less experienced player doesn't throw the game off, but otherwise, I think it is one of Knizia's best. Currently this sits around #148 on the BGG rankings. Not bad for a 20 year old game. Definitely a classic.

Lastly is Hammer of the Scots. Block wargames seemed like they were more commonplace 10 years ago, and though I hadn't played this, I believe it to be one of the more accessible block wargames. Maybe they've been coming out at the same pace, there are just more non-wargames taking up shelf space at the stores due to their appeal over wargames to the general public. Hammer still sits at a respectable #246, so it must have done something right.



So that's a look back 10 years to April 2007. I still have Shogun (and the expansion), Twilight Struggle (for a little bit - I somewhat prefer the app over the table version), Samurai, and Princes of Florence (only because I can't seem to trade or sell it) on my shelves. I'd don't see myself getting Hammer of the Scots nor Paths of Glory played, so they won't be joining my shelves.

I'm going to try and make this a regular monthly feature going forward - it is interesting to see what was SOOOO interesting that has all but disappeared, but it is also fun talking about games that a lot of folks that are newer to the hobby know nothing about. Cult of the New doesn't have to mean - it came out yesterday. New to you is new. Period.

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