Monday, May 08, 2017

Cult of the NOT So New May 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 May 2007.

Primer Mover: Yspahan.
In May of 2007, Yspahan moved up 15 spots to #77 on the BGG charts. It is a dice-euro game. A group of dice are rolled at the start of each turn and grouped by their value on an action board. The board is ordered, so the bottom action always gets dice (whatever the low number group is), but the top line or two may rarely see dice (the person rolling for the round had to have rolled all the numbers). On their turn, players each pick a grouping and take an associated action. More dice makes the action more beneficial to you. This was a pretty new mechanism at the time and the game was getting good attention.

Still a Thing? In 2017, Yspahan has fallen back in the pack to #390. While new and interesting at the time, dice started getting used in more and more euros as a way to change up the flow of a game in interesting ways. In fact, Grand Austria Hotel uses a similar kind of dice allocation deal. I played a number of games of Yspahan on and while it was ok, I never loved it, though I never could really say why. It isn't a dice thing - I like games with dice. Apparently I'm not alone in this opinion about this game though.

Falling Star: Santiago 
This month ten years ago, Santiago fell 11 spots to #81. And ten years later, that still makes me happy. I'm sorry, I just don't like this game. I only played it once and that was more than enough for me. It is a negotiation game and that plays a heavy part in the game, which I generally don't enjoy. It is (still) rated well (7.1) and I know a lot of people that really like this game, but I did not.

Still a Thing? Santiago has continued its downward trend and currently resides at #460 on the BGG charts. I do recall that this is a game that plays best with five players (BGG apparently agrees), so I'm sure that has something to do with it. Games that need large player counts don't tend to bubble their way to the top unless they are fantastic.

Hot Lava Birth: Arkham Horror
Ten years ago, this hit the top 100 at #98. I have to admit, I was surprised to see this here. Not because I was surprised this was popular (and still has fans) but because this came out in 2005 and didn't hit the top 100 until 2007. AH is a coop adventure game that drips in theme, but is fairly long. This came out when there was not generally a big market for coop games, but the Lovecraftian theme was strong and not well represented at the time, so this did well. I didn't play this until about 5 years ago and while I really wanted to like the game and liked the concept, I found it much too long for such a complicated coop and disliked the incoherent story and incredibly frustrating play.

Still a Thing? Ish. AH has fallen down to #197 on the current BGG charts. I suspect due to its length, as well as there being a lot more game choices in the field, including a number of games from the same publisher - FFG. More recently, FFG released Eldritch Horror, which in my mind lives up to the promise of everything a Lovecraftian coop story/adventure game should be. EH is so good that AH shouldn't even be at #1097 let alone the top 200.

Top Ten Trends for May 2007
El Grande and Twilight Struggle each moved up a spot while BattleLore got out of their way. All stayed in the Top Ten, just a reordering of places.

Still a Thing? Well, BattleLore has fallen back to #209 from its top 10 appearance. This sort of thing gives me hope that some current top 10 games are also flashes in the pan. BattleLore was not a bad game, but not really top 10 stuff. It also didn't help that Days of Wonder gave up the license to FFG, who in turn redid the game into a (better) 2nd edition. Twilight Struggle continued its climb over the next 10 years and is currently at #3 on the charts. El Grande, while still a classic, has fallen out to #49. Some of that may be due to scarcity. Even after the 10th year Anniversary print in 2005, El Grande was hard to find in retail stores. The game certainly still holds up, though it is a game that is really bad for players with AP. If you have never tried it, you should really try and find a copy or go play it at

Top Five Winning Movers May 2007
These are the games that showed the greatest amount of positive upward movement outside of the top 10.
Shogun (Fifth Month!)
* Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition
* Combat Commander: Europe
* Imperial

For the fifth straight month Shogun made the list. As I mentioned last month, Shogun was a remake of Wallenstein, which while popular, was hard to get. Shogun was filling the void.

Interestingly, YINSH had been out for a while (2003), but has always been one of the more popular of the GIPF series. If you enjoy two-player abstract games, YINSH might be for you. No clue what might have caused it to bump up.

TI3 was the 2nd revision of the series, but done by FFG, which back in 2005 (when the TI3 was released) meant it came in a coffin box and weighed about 20 lbs because of all the upgraded bits. The expansion for TI3 (Shattered Empire) had come out sometime in 2006, which might have helped TI3 crawl up the charts some more. As it is, TI3 still sits in BGG's top 50.

Though I'm no Grognard, Combat Commander: Europe is my current #1 game of all time. It is a card driven chit war game, so it definitely has limited appeal, but it really is a fantastic game. It too came out in 2006, so it isn't much surprise that it started gaining traction and climbing the charts. It currently sits in BGGs top 100.

Lastly we have Imperial. This was designer Mac Gerdts second game (and the second game to feature the rondel mechanism). Imperial is a stock game set back in age of imperialism in Europe. It might feel a little like a war game, but really you are investing in the countries, not trying to conquer the world (unless that meant you were raising the value of your holdings). Imperial still has its fans, but currently just sits outside the BGG top 100. It was also redone as Imperial 2030 in 2009, though the revised version is not rated as highly as the original.

And that's all for this month's look back at May 2007

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