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2011 Best Medium Weight Games

Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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I started recording my plays in March of this year. Since then I've recorded 404 plays. I've also played about 100 games of Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization at boardgaming-online.com and maybe a dozen games of Tigris & Euphrates here on BGG. I've broken my game plays into Medium-Heavy Weight, Medium Weight, Medium-Light Weight, Fillers, 2-players, Kid's Games, and flops. With very limited exceptions, the only games I've placed in the list are games that I've played at least 3 times in 2011.

This is is my second list. I generally like to think when I'm playing a game. The medium weight games in this list still provide some mental challenge but not the same level of head scratching that I find in the medium-heavy games. Some of these games are playable in under an hour but most play for at least an hour (2 or 3 player) or two (4+ players). Also, these are games that I wouldn't play with a new gamer. These are not gateway games but I am comfortable introducing them to moderately experienced gamers.

1. Race for the Galaxy . With all of the expansion, this one borders on a medium-heavy game; however, given it's short play time (30 minutes for 2 and about an hour for 4), I've listed it as a medium weight game. in addition, since the interaction in this game is very subtle (trying to figure out what role your opponent(s) will be selecting), it requires a little less brain burn as well. While the simultaneous resolution of actions means the game scales very well, my favorite player count is 2 where the double role selection makes the game play much quicker and gives players more control over their own fate without having to figure out the other player's role selections. With 75 plays, this is one of my 3 all-time favorite games (the other two being Agricola and Through the Ages). While it's seen less plays recently, this is one I hope to play a lot in the coming year.

2. De Vulgari Eloquentia . The only reason this is #2 instead of #1 is because of the significant fewer plays. I don't know if it will have the long term replayability that RftG has. Other than that, I love this game. It is the most thematic medium weight game I have played. Players take on the role of merchants trying to discover the modern italian language. As merchants, they gain money each time they enter a new province. However, they can also take on the role of friars gaining special powers and while they no longer collect money from provinces, they do collect money from merchants. This game has different paths than player can take to victory. This is a fun game with a moderate amount of brain burn. I really enjoy it every time I play it and I hope to play it many more times in 2012.

3. A Few Acres of Snow Dominion introduced me to deck building in no collectible card games. However, A Few Acres of Snow was the first game I saw that took that non-CCG deck building and turned into only one mechanic in a board game. AFAoS uses deck building to simulate the delay generated by long, slow supply lines in the French-Indian War. AFAoS is an assymetric Waro (War-Euro) game for 2 players. While it's initial release had a potentially broken strategy, the designer, Martin Wallace, has just released a "fix" that should stop this strategy from being broken. I played this game 4 times the first weekend I got it and have played it 9 more times since, making it my 7th most played game of 2011. With a play time of under an hour, this is a game with a lot of tough decisions in a short period of time. I hope to have many more plays of it in 2012.

4. London This is a game that I was on the fence with for most of 2011. I finally had a chance to play it at Buckeye Gamefest in October. My gf and I played it three times in one day (the most times I've ever played a new game in a day). It's another Martin Wallance card game but this one is about building and running a city. Cards provide money for placing certain cards in their tableau and for buying boroughs in the city. However, the more stacks in a player's tableau (and the more cards in his hand), the more poverty he gets when running his city. Minimizing poverty while buying boroughs and getting VP cards into his tableau is the key to the game. With minor tweaks, London plays excellently from 2 to 4 players and it is one of my favorite 2-player medium weight games.

5. Assyria One of my favorite Ystari games, Assyria is a game that defies categorization. It has some area control elements and some resource optimization. It requires a bit of trategic planning mixed with a lot of tactical responses. It scales well from 2 to 4 players and has a lot of meat to it. As I look back over my 2011 plays, I see that this fell into the "want to play but maybe another time" a long time ago. Hopefully, I'll get this back into the play rotation in 2012.

6. Grand Cru This was one of two wine games in 2010. I read more about Vinhos which looked more complex (it is) and more interesting so once I picked up Vinhos, Grand Cru dropped off of my wish list. However, I saw it in auction late in 2010 and bid on it. Though I didn't get it, someone who was selling it in the marketplace saw my bid an emailed me. We eventually reached an agreement on price and I picked it up. While certainly less complex than Vinhos, it is no less interesting. The rules are much easier to explain but, like Vinhos, there are multiple paths to success. This is a game where you have to play the other players as much as the game, making it a stimulating game with more players (though quite playable with 2). It's probably my favorite auction game at the moment and one I hope to continue to play in 2012.

7. Belfort This is a game I like but don't love which makes it strange that it's gotten so many plays (8) in so short a period of time (about 3 months). It's a solid area control game with an interesting theme. Probably my favorite part of the game is the attention to detail in the artwork. I think 2-player is the optimal player count for Belfort, but I'll play it at any play count. We'll see if it continues to get plays in 2012 or if it is replaced with more recent games.

8. Québec Area control is not my favorite mechanic, so it's strange that I purchased 2 of them. Of the two, Belfort certainly wins on theme but Quebec probably has more interesting decisions. Players have to balance getting cubes into the regions of power with getting a long link of buildings on the main board. While I'm not sure about its long term replayability, I am enjoying exploring the game. It has much more player interaction than Belfort and I expect it to get at least 10 plays. Beyond that I'm not sure.

9. Automobile My third Wallace game in this list (with one more Wallace game in my medium-heavy list). I can't say why this doesn't grab as much. It's a solid Euro and with a few tweaks, works well from 2 to 5. Maybe with more plays, it will move up on my list in 2012.

10. Luna This is a game that I was initially very excited about; however, after being disappointed with several other Feld games, Luna dropped off my wish list. However, when I saw it offered for a reasonable price at auction, I decided to take a chance. While it is the best Feld game I've played and it plays adequately with 2, choices seem fairly straightforward and after a few plays, it started to feel "samey". I may try it again in 2012 as a solo game, but I'm not sure.
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