dkeisen's Best of 2012
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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It's that time of year again. Actually, it's a couple weeks past that time of year. Time to look back. People are posting their top 10 lists for 2012.

I'm not going to do that. I don't think anyone cares whether I ranked CO₂ 7th and Myrmes 8th or vice versa. I know I don't.

Instead I'm going to list the best. Not just the best game, of course, as that would be a very short list. But the best in a variety of gaming categories that seem to fit well with what was released last year. We have a lot of options here as 2012 was a fine fine year for games with many releases I expect to be playing 10 years from now. At least a fine fine year for my tastes: heavier Eurogames with a strong economic component, although you'll see one or two games mentioned here which do not fit that description.

Now this is necessarily tentative as I have played some of these games only the one time and sometimes not in the best of circumstances. But that's inevitable with this sort of list and gives everyone the opportunity to laugh at me after I do the equivalent of naming A Few Acres of Snow "Best Balanced Assymetric Game of 2011", which now that I think of it, would be a terrific category to assess.

On to the games...

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1. Board Game: Myrmes [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:412]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Best Developed Game of 2012

Smooth mechanics, nicely designed and constructed bits, clear rules. No rough edges. Good game too. Plus: you get to stalk spiders as prey.
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2. Board Game: Andean Abyss [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:775]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Most Innovative Game of 2012

Something about the use of cards to manage turn order and events. The action management where your choice of action constrains what's available for other players in an original way. The play of the different factions, especially the government and its need to manage police and troops.

Runner up is Town Center.
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3. Board Game: Copycat [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1209]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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2012 Game I Liked Despite Myself

Looked kind of dumb. Got a lot of negative comments from my friends at BGG.CON even though it was incredibly popular in terms of number of copies in play basically all the time start to finish. And yeah, a mashup of other games rather than something that actually made sense --- mostly a game to engage Friedemann's sense of humor.

But I had a whole lot of fun in my one play. No idea if it supports more than a couple more.
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4. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:332]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Most Opaque Game of 2012

Not obvious how to play well. Not really a building game, you don't so much build infrastructure as stake out a position and watch while others try to take you down. Lots of levers for this although none as tacky as just mounting an attack on an opponent's fortress. Really quite a fine game and plays surprisingly quickly, at least at lower player counts. Opacity reflected in just how difficult I find it is to teach.

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5. Board Game: Il Vecchio [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1253]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Most Euro Game of 2012

Move meeple and pay to do so. Take chits. Establish positions to get special power tokens and establish place for majority scoring. Not exactly Twilight Imperium (Third Edition).

Don't take from this that I disliked the game. I will be picking up a copy of it.
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6. Board Game: New Amsterdam [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:1265]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Best Game from 2012 No One is Talking About

I like economic building games and this is a good one. Three different engines to manage, the fundamental decisions each turn revolve around the auction where players bid to determine how many actions each will take in each of the three engines.

First game ever I special ordered from Europe as I have heard no American release schedule for it.
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7. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:37]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
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Best Game Bit of 2012

Not a gimmick.
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8. Board Game: Ginkgopolis [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:323]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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I Don't Get the Excitement Award for 2012

Played it once at BGG.CON and it was pleasant enough. But for the last 3/4 of the game I had no real decisions: I established a stack of played cards which gave me bonuses for taking one of the three broad categories of actions and kept taking that action. Maybe more experienced opponents would have handled the card draft so that I could not establish that stack in the first place.

Not a bad game. I'd play again. But there are people calling this the best game from 2012 and I just don't see it.

Runner up goes to The Palaces of Carrara, but that one should really get the "Worst Decision to Include a Warning in the Rulebook of 2012" for telling people to play the basic game until they have experience with it. It is clear that (1) the advanced game is a whole lot more interesting and (2) the advanced game is not even remotely complex. Maybe it's just plain a better game than my one experience would indicate.
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9. Board Game: Snowdonia [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:353]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Biggest Disappointment of 2012

I was excited about this having read the rules and then, well, nothing. Place a worker to get a couple of resources or to build a building. No strong differentiation of positions until the end so players all have similar motivations. Actions not interesting.

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10. Board Game: Fleet [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:713]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Best Light Filler of 2012

Nice little economic building game with an auction. Real decisions. But plays quickly and is easy to teach. Small enough that I carry it around whereever I go. Very pleased with this, although it does stretch the definition of filler as at 45 minutes, it's longer than some people would consider a filler to be.
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11. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:8]
Dave Eisen
United States
Menlo Park
CA
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Best Game of 2012

I did have to include this category, after all.

Not much more to say about this terrific game. You all know about it and most agree that for those who like this kind of game, it's a very good game. Every single person other than JC I have taught this to has loved it.

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