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Rahdo Runs Through►►► The Games of 2011!!!
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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My wife and I love playing boardgames together -- it's become our favourite hobby, and we feel very lucky that we both enjoy something so much and can share it. We prefer heavier Euro-ish games that don't feature much conflict, so this GL reflects that preference, listing our picks for the best new games of 2011 that we've played.

For those who are interested in more random thoughts of a 2p married couple, here's our 2012 best of list: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/153724/a-married-coupl...

UPDATE: Hawaii makes a late entry at #7, causing everything else to shift up by one

UPDATE: 5 more games added (Space Maze, Space Bastards, Mundus Novus, 1955 and Rapa Nui) getting me up to 51! Woot! (I wonder if I should do one of these lists for 2010)

UPDATE: And can't forget Kingdom of Solomon

UPDATE: Dark Horse & Anhk Morpork

UPDATE: Several more games added, from the disappointing Santiago de Cuba, to the fun Road to Canterbury & Trollhalla (from the same designer) to the surprise fav Gnomes of Zavandor

UPDATE: And the hits of 2011 just keep on coming! Tschak!, Airlines Europe and Kingdom Builder - oh, and Eclipse

UPDATE: It's been awhile, but here's a couple more 2011 games that have recently hit our table - Power Grid First Sparks & King of Tokyo!

UPDATE: I haven't forgotten this list! And look a new title: Flash Point Fire Rescue added!

UPDATE: Nefarious makes the list!
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1. Board Game: Quarriors! [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:451]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Figured I'd expand the list to include every 2011 game that my wife and I have played 2p, so that means there has to be a bottom, and this is it, unfortunately.

I know there a lot of people who LOVE it, and I guess playing it with a larger group could improve the experience, since you'd have some interesting choices maybe about who to attack, but with only 2p, it's an exercise in rote reptition.

But the dice are cool, and the box is awesome!
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2. Board Game: Santiago de Cuba [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:567]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Hmm, this didn't really click for us. Mechanisms were totally fine, but it was basically too mean-spirited and not epic enough. Over the course of the game, it didn't really feel like you were building up to anything, just eeking out a minor existence. Maybe with more this would shine, but as a 2p game, we did not enjoy...
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3. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:115]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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An okay Yahtzee style dice chucker, that's all about smacking your opponents upside the head. It's fine, but a bit too simplistic for our tastes, and with 2p, kind of pointless to play...
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4. Board Game: Alba Longa [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:3081]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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This didn't really work for us as a 2p game, though I expect it would be a lot more solid with more players. It's got a really clever action selection system based on dice rolling, but with only 2, it fell kind of flat.
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5. Board Game: Pantheon [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:919]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Really liked the basic mechanics and flow of this game, but we found ourselves effectively drowning in resources, and felt the game was a bit too easy. Could use some tightening up in 2p, I think. The foot meeples are AWESOME though!
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6. Board Game: Elder Sign [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:376]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Now here's a clever idea: thematic co-op Yahtzee. It works pretty well, but we like a bit more depth to the decision making in our co-ops, and the fact that players can't really directly interact to help each other knocked this down a few notches. An expansion that adds rules for trading items, for instance, would be most appreciated!
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7. Board Game: Rune Age [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:590]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Barely scraping it's way onto the list, this is a fine deckbuilder with a lot of clever ideas that improve the base formula created by Dominion. Especially appreciate the different scenarios that create different victory conditions: play it competitive, co-op, multiplayer solitaire, etc. Very very smart.

It would definitely rank higher if they had just shipped with more cards! In the base set, you feel like you've been exposed to the majority of interesting combos after just a few plays, which isn't so great.

If expansions start coming out for this, it'll likely rise up several points on our list!

Update: they've just announced an expansion, but of course, I've already traded the game away! Curses!!!
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8. Board Game: Pastiche [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:775]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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We're generally not huge fans of abstract games, and this is definitely abstract, so it's a testament to how good it is that it made the list at all! The gameplay is definitely smart, and the components are very appealing. This would be a perfect game to break out when friends are over for the evening, and you want to educate them about boardgames beyond Monopoly.
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9. Board Game: Takenoko [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:164]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Okay, this maybe doesn't quite deserve to be this high. The gameplay is alright... very light, much closer to a family game than what we normally play. The mechanics themselves are really smart (as they should be coming from the designer of 7 Wonders), but it's SOO luck driven, it almost doesn't feel like the outcome matters.

BUT, I'd say this game has maybe the best table presence of any game we've played in years... only thing that comes close is Through the Desert. While we're playing, it's just so lovely to look at. And calm and peaceful and simple and breezy.

I think it's going to need some house rules though!

edit: so I wrote some up. BIG IMPROVEMENT, to my way of thinking
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/8787328#8787328
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10. Board Game: Space Bastards [Average Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:5547]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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A very smart, pretty and clever area control game that had two big problems for us:

1) it's VERY vicious, with lots of aggressive attacking. Maybe that's to be expected from area control, but it was just a bit too "haha! gotchya!" for our tastes.

2) the game is crazy deep, prompting some really intense AP in my wife.

Liked it a lot, but it wasn't for us...
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11. Board Game: Upon a Salty Ocean [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1906]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Wonderful austere graphic design complements the solid resource harvesting/town building gameplay. In our experience, however, in 2p there's not enough tension, with smart play being almost over-rewarding. With more players vying for sweet spots on the board, the game would be stronger.
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12. Board Game: Kingdom of Solomon [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1418]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Solid worker placement that melds really well with area control in quite clever ways, but in the end, we're on the fence about it as a 2p game, because, like Upon a Salty Ocean, we just feel too rich while playing, which is unfortunate. But if we had more players regularly, this would shoot up the chart quite rapidly...
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13. Board Game: Space Maze [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:4310]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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What a sweet hearted little game. Modular board, simultaneous actions, cute pieces, really accessible gameplay. Hits on all cylinders, except that the game really needs more than 2p to shine. It's fine with 2, but I suspect it can be wonderful fun (especially for families) with more.
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14. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:295]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Great great deck builder. The multi-use cards are very smart, and there's certainly a lot of different strategies you can pursue with all the tech cards. However, we're not 100% fans with the notion of all the tech cards being available every game. Would have preferred some randomization to the setup, but that's a minor quibble.
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15. Board Game: Principato [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:2099]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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A smart resource gathering/infrastructure building game, with a card drafting mechanic that makes it imperative you keep track of what your opponent wants. Lovely game that seems to have flown completely under the radar and deserves more attention.
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16. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.16 Overall Rank:8]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Wow, this is a really big and bold game, with an interesting mix of mechanics. Rewards deep thought and risk taking. However, there's a lot of downtime and a lot of rules and a lot of *stuff*. It can be a bit overwhelming, and actually, we think it's a better solo game than 2p (can't imagine it with more!), so it ranks lower than it perhaps otherwise should have.
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17. Board Game: Drum Roll [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:707]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Gorgeous art and smooth play with a fun theme. We liked it a lot, but the complex interplay of income and victory points can really drag it to an overt think-fest at the end, leaving us a little less exhilarated when it's over, and more exhausted.
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18. Board Game: Barons [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:3430]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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This would rank much higher if we enjoyed conflict heavy gameplay, but we don't (at least, not when there's lots of resource/engine/world building that precedes the conflict). Still, have to admire how smart this game is, with the cleverly designed cards that interplay in lots of interesting ways.
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19. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:10]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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There's a lot to like here, but this is not the game for us. Too much intergalactic warfare means that this otherwise almost perfect euro rates so low for us...
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20. Board Game: Star Trek: Fleet Captains [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:221]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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When we first played this, we LOVED it! 9 out of 10! Pitch perfect recreation of the Trek feel that we love. Odd how badly the Federation destroyed the Klingons, but no worry, learning game.

Second time, again the Klingons got decimated (like 12 to 3). Starting to realize that the Klingons must be played "like Klingons" to do well. Hmm.

Third time we play, Klingon player went after the Feds with a vengenance (the first two games there was very little space battle), and cleaned up, winning 10 to 5. And all the fun we'd had exploring, adventuring, etc., just disappeared and we realized that the game wasn't for us. Maybe if there's an expansion in the future that introduces another non-war race, we'll come back, but as it is, the game is way too cutthroat for us. Biggest heartbreak of the year!
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21. Board Game: Shitenno [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:2224]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Very cool "one player divides all the goodies up, and the other players get first pick at which pile of goodies they want" mechanic, accompanied by a simple area control game that works surprisingly well with 2 (unusual, in our experience). But, damn this is an AP prone game. Like really really AP prone!
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22. Board Game: Artus [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2075]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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A lovely game of musical chairs, where you're vying for the best seat at the round table, while the table itself is constantly turning. Smart tactical play that's perfect for 2.
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23. Board Game: Eaten by Zombies! [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:2590]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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Such a great sense of humor with this game. My wife, who hates everything to do with zombies, actually enjoys this, which was surprising. And it's a very fun and FAST deckbuilder, which is appreciated (the fastness). The notion that you get a very small amount of time to construct the best deck you can, before the ever-growing horde of zombies washes over you destroying everything, is very refreshing and gives it a unique feel.

Can't wait to try with more players so that we can see what the "play as a zombie once you die" portion is like, but even with only 2p, we life it a lot.
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24. Board Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:327]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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As a 3p+ game this would rate higher, but it's still fairly good 2p. The sense of humor and overall atmosphere makes up for its fairly swingy gameplay...
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25. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:169]
Richard Ham
Malta
Marsalforn
Gozo, Malta
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CLICK THIS BEAGLE if you're looking for in-depth gameplay video run-throughs! :)
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This is an incredibly atmospheric co-op full of really nice touches, but even played with all of the features enabled, its still a little too simple for us. If Pandemic didn't exist, this would rate much higher in our books, but as it is, this game replaces the deterministic card/disaster management with the more unpredictable randomly generated fire management. Which is totally fine and very appropriate for the theme, but we just prefer having more to crunch on

Still, great game, wonderful for families too. Super gateway title for any occasion!
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