Webhead's Most-Played Games of 2012
Jordan S.
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2012 was a huge year for me in board gaming. I've played board and card games for as long as I can remember. My mother and grandparents were big on family games (Dominoes, Cribbage, Monopoly, Pictionary, Boggle, etc.) and I got into the CCG craze early-on with Magic: The Gathering, the Star Wars CCG and Legend of the Five Rings. In my college years, I started exploring more board gaming again with the likes of Munchkin, Robo Rally, Nuclear War, Cosmic Encounter, Starfarers of Catan and many others but after the dispersal of that particular gaming group, board gaming fell slightly by the wayside for several years. What games I did play after that were mostly card games. My friends were big into Munchkin and we played just about every flavor of it. I introduced Ninja Burger, Fluxx and that sort of thing as simple filler during our various RPG gatherings.

Toward the end of 2011 and into 2012, I felt the desire for more board gaming stirring again and, naturally, began spending entirely too much money on it. Having been primarily a lurker in past years on BGG, I decidely took a bit more of an active role and learned about far more games that I could ever hope to play. My collection grew significantly and so did my play-time.

This list is just to review the games I've played most this year and my reflections upon them.
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1. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:229]
Jordan S.
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Plays: 32

Wow! I played this game a lot this year (twice as much as my next highest!) and that, by itself, should be an indication of my feelings for it. With Yahtzee being one of the family games that I was raised on, the basic "roll and keep" concept of the game instantly made sense to me. Combining that with my fondness for Godzilla movies and my love of "player conflict" games, it seems obvious that KoT would have struck all the right chords with me.

It certainly did...as it did for almost everyone else I've introduced it to. It is just unfiltered, unadulterated fun. It's not too long, it inspires trash-talking and you'll catch people making sound effects and jumping for joy after rolling a huge attack or buying that cool power card at just the right moment! I've only experienced one play of KoT where the player-elimination became an issue but that was a 6-player game with a couple of AP players who "turtle'd" toward the end, dragging the finale out a bit.

Certainly the most bang-for-my-buck out of any game this year. The Power-Up expansion just came in the mail the other day, so I'm looking forward to even more fantastic monster-smackdown fun with this in the future.
 
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2. Board Game: Quarriors! [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:701] [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked]
Jordan S.
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Plays: 16

Yet another dice game! Sensing a theme here? While I was anticipating this one before I got my hands on it, I do have to say that it did still manage to be pleasantly surprising. Most of my plays of it were as a 2-player game and, as such, I have to say that it works really well in that regard. I found that it was one of my step-son's favorite 2-player games to play with me this year and we often seemed to get fiercely competitive with it. I eventually bought the Quarmageddon expansion and found the added variety wonderful.

I hear people claiming that Quarriors! has no strategy and that you might as well be playing Candyland and blah, blah, blah. Honestly though, our games were always tense and wracked with a constant back-and-forth struggle. Yes, the dice themselves add to the random element but not much more really than drawing from a deck of cards would and the real strategy seemed to come from watching your opponent. What dice is he buying? What is left in his bag that might come after you? How can you get your own dice to come out more reliably? What available combos are on the board and how can you get to them?

Again, as a 2-player game, I found Quarriors! to be quite enjoyable and quick to play. My step-son found it superior to the similar-yet-different playstyle of Magic: The Gathering and I can see why. No, it doesn't have the versatility of M:tG but it is more accessible and puts all players on more even ground.

I consider this a hit for me this year and I hope to play it even more down the road.
 
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3. Board Game: Summoner Wars: Master Set [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:148] [Average Rating:7.57 Unranked]
Jordan S.
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Plays: 14

Huge hit...HUGE hit for me this year! What a wonderfully tight, balanced and exciting game. This is definately my step-son's favorite game that he played with me this year and I have to say, it's not far behind for me.

Summoner Wars seems to take all the fun and gusto from Magic: The Gathering and put it into a fast, deadly, tactical combat game. The factions are all so different from each other, yet I haven't found one that I think really breaks the balance. Each requires a completely different playstyle and, thus, different players will find themselves favoring different decks but every single one was enjoyable to play and learning the strengths and weaknesses of each match-up was fun. The dice were perfectly implemented into the game, as they add just enough uncertainty to create great tension but no so much randomness that you felt all your plans and tactics were unravelled by a simple die-roll.

The game is really quick but full of important decisions and often I was kicking myself because I screwed up by not building enough magic points or by summoning a unit to the wrong location or just not paying attention to my opponent's moves. In those moments, I never felt like I was being cheated by the game but that I simply wasn't playing to my best and that being more aware and more careful in the future would help me out.

Fantastic game!
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4. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:103]
Jordan S.
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Plays: 7

What can I say? This is the game that just makes me smile to think about it and that I fell head-over-heels for the first time I played it years ago. I didn't get to play it nearly enough this year but that's how it goes sometimes. It's not everyone's cup of tea and it demands at least 4 to play a worthwhile game but there really is no game that is better-loved by me than Cosmic Encounter. It is simply filled with almost everything that I love about games. The variable player powers just steal my heart and the underlying "player conflict" game surrounded by alliances, negotiation, trickery and careful card-play is just one of the most enjoyable times I have at the gaming table.

I got to play several wonderful alien powers this year (Pacifist is one of my favorites) and teach the game to many who had never played it before. Cosmic is a game that I look for every excuse to play and every time is always rewarding.

Still my very favorite board game.
 
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5. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:596]
Jordan S.
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Plays: 7

Newly acquired this year and used it as a gateway game for my step-son and wife to try to get them to play more games with me. It worked well for my step-son (who went on to explore many new board games with me) and it even seems to have turned the corner for my wife (who is otherwise not a gamer), though I do feel that it has served its purpose and grown a little long in the tooth.

For what it is, it is a quick, tense and accessible game and certainly would seem to work well even with children. And it's a co-op game, which makes it group-friendly. It's begun to come up a bit (ironically) shallow for the more initiated gamers but that is not for lack of challenge. We have been defeated soundly by FI, even at just the "Normal" difficulty and the one time we tried one of the harder settings, there was no contest.

These days, there are other co-ops that I'd rather go to but I believe Forbidden Island paid for itself for what it did (it was rather cheap to begin with). I bought it as a gateway game and it served that purpose well enough.
 
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6. Board Game: Elder Sign [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:465]
Jordan S.
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Plays: 6

Ugh! Where to begin with this one? I love the Cthulhu Mythos and have more than a few products bearing the Lovecraftian theme (though not anywhere near as many as some folks I've seen). I also own and enjoy Arkham Horror as a good Lovecraftian experience. But Elder Sign was just so empty and disappointing on so many levels.

I won't belabor the point but I entered this game hoping for a light-but-tense dice game with monsters and insanity and I walked away feeling...just...bored. It seemed to suffer from the problem of appearing outwardly as though it was full of decisions and a handful of possible strategies but containing no real substance below the surface. There is so little distinction and what there is often has very little impact on the overall gameplay.

I know people will disagree but this was positively one of the most disappointing and hollow games I've played in quite a long time (though I'll admit I haven't played a fraction of the games I would have liked to this year).
 
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