"Top" 10 Worst (or most disappointing) Games of 2011... add yours
Joel Eddy
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I'm feeling a bit surly, as is my penchant on occasion. Also, I've been told it's a cop out not to do negative reviews. (I write and record reviews and post them here and elsewhere on the internet). So, here is my rant-ish slam on some of the games in 2011 that several people worked very hard to bring to us. I'll add 10. If anyone else wants to add more, feel free to do so!
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1. Board Game: Quarriors! [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:457]
Joel Eddy
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By far the most disappointing game of the year for me. I think if this game wasn't being touted as "Possibly Game of the Year" when it first came out, I wouldn't have been as disappointed. I gave this game an honest shot.

However, a game (even a filler) that has zero meaningful decisions is not a gateway game, is not a light game, and is not a filler. It's just a bad game. There is good filler out there. To me this game was all about two words "Dice Building". So it was a marketing stunt, in my opinion. A very well produced marketing stunt, but one none the less.
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2. Board Game: Star Trek: Expeditions [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1458]
Joel Eddy
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Wow. This game is so anti-theme. Stay away from this one. You basically run around a planet trying to get a "number". Ugh.
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3. Board Game: Letters from Whitechapel [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:126]
Joel Eddy
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Go play Scotland Yard instead. This is almost the exact same, but takes way too much time. It's just covered up with a bunch of chrome. This game is "fair" with two. But really, you could just gussy up Scotland Yard and keep the same the good mechanisms from Scotland Yard without all the fiddly rules of Whitechapel.
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4. Board Game: Cargo Noir [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1145]
Joel Eddy
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Horrifying. This game is so un-fun. It's a very very basic auction mechanism that takes way too long to play.

Go play The Boss instead.
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5. Board Game: Nightfall [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:892] [Average Rating:6.61 Unranked]
Joel Eddy
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Very overrated in my opinion. The mechanisms feel clunky to me, and the sink the leader, gang up on player XYZ element ruins it. It's not good at all with two players either. You can instantly get so far behind in a two player game, that there is no coming back.
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6. Board Game: Barons [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:3530]
Joel Eddy
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I think the main let down for me here, was that Glory to Rome is so good, and this one is just very very very average. It is VERY luck dependent, but so is any card game right? Well not quite. This one seemed to be entirely driven by card draw, leaving me wanting for anything meaningful to do on my turn.
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7. Board Game: JAB: Realtime Boxing [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:1746]
Joel Eddy
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This game isn't really that "bad". It's just not fun after two or three plays. After that, it's basically "been there done that".
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8. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:337]
Joel Eddy
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Wanted to like this. Thought I liked it about half way through my second game. Then I ended up not liking it at all after my third game. Basically, it boils down to, "Which scoring card is the best? OK, do that." And then I play on auto-pilot.
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9. Board Game: Yomi [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:424] [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked]
Joel Eddy
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It could be that I don't understand this game. I've tried it a few times now, and it's just random rock/paper/guessing, with tons and tons of overwrought special abilities. Also, the full game is $100 for like 500 cards. Weak.
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10. Board Game: Mansions of Madness [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:152]
Joel Eddy
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I have never actually played this game, but for a while it was constantly set up at my FLGS. I haven't seen a game cause so much frustration and angst in a long time. I won't go into all the issues as I've read a little up on them, and talked to some of my gaming group about it, but I don't have first hand experience.
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11. Board Game: Rattus [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:544]
Andy Andersen
United States
Ada
Michigan
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I know this is a very popular game but my wife and I (my wife moreso) have been disappointed with it. We added Rattus: Pied Piper and that seemed to help. There just hasn't been enough tension in our games to date. I just added Rattus: Africanus to the mix and we'll give it a few more tries.

It's not that the game is bad in any way, we just can't seem to connect with it. I have a feeling I'm running out of time with my wife's patience so.....
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12. Board Game: Fluxx [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:4679] [Average Rating:5.73 Unranked]
Andy Andersen
United States
Ada
Michigan
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Actually this is the perfect game. I have played with my wife, my son and my daughter-in-law and we all hate it. Games can last 5 minutes or so long that we have just given up. I wanted to like it, but the chaos kills me, and I usually enjoy some chaos, but this was over the top.
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13. Board Game: Stalag 17 [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:6392]
Scott Henshaw
United States
East Bridgewater
Massachusetts
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Wow, was this not a good time playing. We had 5 players and we toughed it out through two rounds before we all looked up and just said 'Enough!',
We could not find any strategy or play that really influenced the outcome. You either drew good cards, or you didn't.
We had a lot of hope at the start of the game, but realized quickly that there is not really much here.
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14. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:19]
Mathue Faulk
United States
Cedar Park
TX
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Biggest Disappointments:
1. 7 Wonders
This is not the worst game I played in 2011, just my biggest disappointment. I just think this game is ridiculously over-rated. Top 200 maybe, but #11??! I don't hate the game, but there are so many other games that I'd rather play. It really plays best with 4-5 imo, so the player range isn't as big of a draw as I had hoped. Also, the theme vs. mechanics makes it a lot more difficult to teach than it should be. Granted, it's an easy game and newbies can pick up on it after the first half of the game, but it's still a pain to teach... A big positive is that it's quick, which is important for a lighter game like this. I'll still play this game and I have no plans to get rid of it (my family likes it well enough), but I just don't understand how it's the #11 game.
2. Alien Frontiers
I don't think I love area majority, but I didn't realize it until this purchase. More than anything, I think the game was a bit overhyped and I just bought into it. To be fair, I've still only played Alien Frontiers with 2, and I think it would be better with more but I have so many other games to get to the table. Also, I have definite tendencies towards similar strategies each game, and I think there is a bit of imbalance with certain strategies in a 2-player game. I like it enough to keep it, but not enough to join in on the Kickstarter for the expansion.
3. Say Anything
I don't understand the intrigue with this one. It fell completely and utterly flat with our group. Not fun at all. (Didn't particularly love Wits & Wagers either) This is my least favorite of the games listed here in the biggest disappointment section, but my expectations were also much lower.
4. What Were You Thinking?
I used to own this game, and I remember loving it. When I found an opportunity to get it for a reasonable price, I pounced on it. I just replayed this over Christmas break, and I've got to say that I remember it being a lot more fun. I also used to own a slightly different version where there was an actual score track, but I don't think that was the difference maker. I decided that I'd rather play Imaginiff when possible...
5. Cyclades
Meh. It's not bad, and I've only played once, but it just seems like all of the interesting parts of the game can be found in other games that I enjoy more (Eclipse, Homesteaders, etc.). I'm not a fan of the end game conditions either since it can happen so suddenly...the more I think about how the game ended (and read that it's a common complaint), the more I think this will end up on my trade list...
6. Flash Point: Fire Rescue
I definitely don't dislike this game, but I had very high expectations. I'm still not sure how I feel about it yet. The game is a bit fiddly, but my biggest complaint is that I don't feel the tension that I do in other co-ops. I think it comes down to the randomness of the fire spread. While thematic, it makes it a bit more difficult to estimate risks which cuts into the tension. The randomness also means that the difficulty varies a lot from game to game, so I sometimes get a feeling of 'we got lucky' instead of 'we played well.'
7. Belfort
I really really really wanted to like this game. In the end, the area control seemed to drive most of the game and it turns out that I'm not a huge fan of area control. I also would've appreciated more building synergy and engine building, albeit I understand the design decisions behind the chosen mechanics. And the AP killed it for me. I think it's an excellent game, but just not for me. I'd play it again, and I wouldn't put money on it never ending up in my collection again....but for now, meh.
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15. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:10]
♪ Isaäc Bickërstaff ♫
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Greer
South Carolina
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Quarriors! and Nightfall were both disappointments, but nothing was as bad as the disappointment I felt after playing this game, and the hefty price tag was a large part of it. For the price of this game, and the never-ending praise from those who played it, I expected it to smack my ass and say my name, but instead it was just a slogging game of randomness and destruction. I guess I can see why those who like it like it, but I don't see myself playing this much at all. Or really ever again.
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16. Board Game: Tetris the Card Game [Average Rating:4.57 Overall Rank:10706]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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By far the worst 2011 game I've played. There really aren't any decisions in the game, and I wish I could have the money back that I wasted on it.
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17. Board Game: The Road to Canterbury [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1275]
Michael Kandrac
United States
Grand Prairie
TX
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Really wanted to like this one. With three plays (2 and 3 player) it just didn't seem to offer interesting decisions and offered little in the way of enjoyment. Perhaps with additional plays...

Gg
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18. Board Game: Saboteur 2 (expansion-only editions) [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Joel Eddy
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You know what. I forgot one. I should possibly replace one of the games in the list, possibly bumping off Mansions of Madness. I absolutely adore the original Saboteur. A very overlooked game in my opinion. Light, fun, "funny", and interesting every time I play it.

This expansion just adds all kind of ultra-random confusion, and increases the player count which makes the game extremely boring. For the record, I don't like the base game with more than six or seven at the most.
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19. Board Game: Leipzig: Napoleon Encircled [Average Rating:5.96 Unranked]
Tom Russell
United States
Dearborn
Michigan
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So, this might not exactly qualify, as apparently this came out in 2010, but I bought it in 2011 at Origins, and its the only purchase I've made, board game-wise, ever, that I've been unhappy with. The salesman at the booth described it as an old SPI game, republished, which to me is like saying, "Here, let me give you a nerdgasm."

And I have this rule where I only buy one thing at a convention. I could've bought Survive! from the Stronghold booth, or a Rio Grande game or something. But, no, you say "old SPI game" to me, and, as if my life had become a game of Quarriors, I was completely robbed of the ability to make meaningful decisions. So I bought it.

To make a long story short-- it's not an old SPI game. It's a completely different animal that adds loads of contradictory complexity to an old SPI game (I had to make a flowchart to understand combat), that leaves vital set-up information out of the rules (with, as of yet, no errata that addresses it), and likely wasn't rigorously tested (the French player can plug up all the entrance hexes within a couple of turns, basically preventing the allies from ever encircling Napoleon, making the next few hours of gaming irrelevant).

And really, the sad thing is, all they had to do in the first place was republish the old SPI game! I would've bought that, and probably many more besides.
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20. Board Game: Fall of the Roman Empire [Average Rating:4.58 Overall Rank:10053]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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This was the worst for me this year.

I'm a fan of Mr. Wallace. I didn't think the two spielbox predecessors (Great Western - particularly when "fixed" in the following month - and Slate) were that bad. But this one really fell flat: it seemed like the castrated corpse of Mordred without enough remaining blood to allow the zombie to move.
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21. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:49]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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For me, it was Troyes. My expectations were through the roof - it's a eurogame that makes clever use of dice and it was well-received by several Geekbuddies. I don't doubt that it's an excellent game, and I can't put into words why it didn't work for me. Converting this-into-that-into-those then trading those-for-3VPs...just doesn't work for me. I do not know why. It reminded me of my one play of Homesteaders.

I gave Troyes 6 plays then sent it away. Love that artwork though.

Glen More is a runner-up for me. It was another game that works on paper but bores me at the table.
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22. Board Game: Quarriors! [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:457]
Pedro Silva
Portugal
Matosinhos
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Quarriors! leads this because it just sucks so bad... the rest are pretty much in chronological order of my plays.

Quarriors! was one of the worst games I've played last year, probably one of the worst ever, too.
It was a very clever marketing coup to take advantage of the deck-building craze (a mechanic which has yet to show a really good game for me) by coupling it with the love many people have for dice! I admire it as a marketing stunt... As a game, not at all.

Fürstenfeld was a disappointment because I usually enjoy Firedmann's designs. This one was sub-par for him. There is little tension because the market is just too forgiving and the deck-building aspect, in spite of having a twist to it, fails to deliver.

Senji was a mild disappointment. I knew the game had problems but the base concepts are brilliant. I've still not given up completely on it. I hope to come up with some house-rules that will prevent the card-hoarding-fest it tends to become as it currently stands.

Isla Dorada I suppose is ok as a family game. To me it is just too chaotic. Nice art and presentation, nice overall concept, but I'm just not the target audience for this one.

Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game was not a disappointment as I had not great expectations for it. The insane amount of components an table space required but mostly absurd combat system completely destroyed it. The only thing I found good about this was the technology tree mechanic.

Rattus is not a terrible game. Just a bit too chaotic for me.

Alien Frontiers could have been good, but isn't. It's pretty much a glorified form of Yhatzee where whoever rolls the most pairs wins. Meh...

Petróleo S.A. is another case of me not belonging to the target audience. This game is not intended for gamers. It's a light family game with low complexity decisions and heavy random aspects that, for me, make it a not very interesting experience.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is not so much a game. It's more a kind of story generation engine. There isn't much to decide here as most of what happens comes down to what the dice determine and your options are pretty much limited to where you'll move.

Before the Wind is another case in which there is an interesting take on a mechanic (auctions) but the implementation is not really that great. This coupled with reasonably confusing rules does not provide for a very good experience. I'll probably try it again some time but it will most likely end up on the math-tradeable games list (how I got it too).

A quick mention to expansions:

Battlestar Galactica: Exodus Expansion is not a problem per se it's more a symptom. BSG is a reasonably good experience game but the expansions have tired me out. I just don't enjoy it any more with all that crap thrown in. Some ideas are good but there are just too many tweaks and changes for it to be a solid game. BSG with all expansions feels like a collage of half backed games...

7 Wonders: Leaders could have been a great a addition to a game that is seriously lacking in depth after three or four plays. This could be the expansion that took 7 Wonders from a fluffy filler to a proper game. It isn't and 7 Wonders is quickly fading away from the horizon of games I want to play...

So, not a list of the worst games of 2011 or even of the ones I felt most disappointed on, kind of a mix of those regarding the games new to me last year.
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23. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:342] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Ed Bradley
United Kingdom
Haverhill
Suffolk
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The best things in life aren't things.
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Roll some dice and then you're dead.

Randomness and awfulness in one juicy package.

Ugh.
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24. Board Game: Proud Monster Deluxe [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:4374]
David Brown
United Kingdom
Stockport
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Complete and utter box of sh*t. If it hadn't cost so much I may have been more forgiving. However the cost no doubt reflect the componants, which are very good, and may explain why two people have rated it a 10 without playing it.

Badly written contradictory rule book, compounded with layer after layer of chrome and special cases.
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25. Board Game: Chaostle [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:4668]
Matt Smith
United States
Orion
Michigan
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I normally research my game purchases quite heavily before pulling the trigger, so I'm not usually disappointed with many games that I play. Chaostle was not on my radar when I saw it at a local convention last June. It looked really cool, but I didn't have much time to ask the designer questions. Then my raffle ticket was called, so I got to pick a free game from the prize table. The designer had gratiously donated a copy of Chaostle to the prize table, so on impulse I grabbed it. I played it a couple of times at the convention and thought it was not bad. I even created some (much needed) character power reference sheets. After a couple of more plays though, I finally had to admit it was just too random and too long for what it was. Awesome theme, awesome components, cool idea, but ultimately poor execution.

I sold the game.
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