Best New To Me Games of 2012
David Debien
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Many who know me know that I am not a big cult of the new person. There are far too many great games out there that I haven't even played yet for me to be too concerned with that new game that is climbing "the hotness" list.

I try my best to get a firm understanding of which already published, available and some not so available, games need to be added to my game shelf. That said, I am always eager to try a game i have never played before at open game days over a game I already know.

This way, I have been able to play a lot of games over the last couple of years and the following list are the games that rose to the top for me in 2012 and have mostly been added to my personal collection.

I wanted to make this a top 10 list, but I found it difficult to make the cut. Instead, I am listing all games from 2012 that I ranked an 8 or higher.
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1. Board Game: Chicken Caesar [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2707]
David Debien
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One of 2 games on this list I have yet to purchase. One of my main gaming friends has it and am on the fence over whether I need my own copy.

Chicken Caesar is a great negotiation game with a lunatic theme that puts it over the top for me and my friends. Solid mechanics, a nice set collecting scoring mechanism and a relatively short play time make this a great game I will never turn down.

Rating: 8
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2. Board Game: Colosseum [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:360]
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I love the theme of this game: to put on the greatest show in Rome during its heyday. The components certainly help here as well. Days of Wonder is known for going the extra mile componentwise and I think Colosseum is probably their greatest work to date on that front.

I love the extremely long term planning this game encourages from the start through to the end. Add in a nice auction mechanic, trading among players and a pretty unique scoring mechanic with a nifty built in catch up mechanic that is actually quite thematic and you have a great game that more people need to know about.

Rating: 8
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3. Board Game: Louis XIV [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:560]
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I acquired Louis XIV in 2011 but it sat neglected on my shelf for a good 8 months before I finally got it to the table. This is a great card playing, area control, secret missions game with a fairly complex scoring mechanic that keeps everyone engaged until the final turn.

It is also a very portable game with the components all fitting into a large sandwich style plastic bag.

Rating: 8
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4. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:221]
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Worker Placement with a lot more direct interaction. Between being able to sneak on and use opponents buildings to the ability to bomb them directly, tMP adds a lot to the tried and true worker placement mechanic of gather, upgrade and score.

This one is wife approved as well.

Rating: 8

Also, see my review for more of my thoughts on the Manhattan Project: Let Them Eat Yellow Cake - Another Mixed Review by Casualgod
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5. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:72]
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I have hemmed and hawed quite a bit about Trajan. As a fan of Feld's other works I was eager to try Trajan, which took its sweet time coming to the US. At first, I was blown away by the game. Components wise, it is head and shoulders above most other Feld games and the Mancala is just awesome sauce. In the end, though, I was a bit disapointed. Under the proverbial hood, the Mancala is great but the rest of the game is lacking for me and ends up feeling like a disjointed hodgepodge of unconnected mini-games.

Still, disapointing for a Feld game still puts Trajan solidly on this list.

Rating: 8

Also, see my review for more of my thoughts on Trajan: A Whole That Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts - Another Mixed Review by Casualgod
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6. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:38]
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I got to play Tzolk'in 3 times at BGG.CON in November. This game puts another interesting twist on the Worker Placement genre, adding time into the equation. You have the usual need to feed worker's. Throw in tech trees, engine building, and many ways to score and it adds up to something very intriguing.

The same complaint I made about Trajan can be made here. The board is divided into several mini-games, but it seems to me they are better integrated here than in Trajan.

Cannot wait to get my copy (on pre-order) to dig deeper into this one.

Rating: 8
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7. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:95] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
David Debien
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I acquired Railways, the England Expansion and the Europe expansion for a steal in a live auction. The game had been on my radar for some time after reading Ender's review of them.

Turns out I really lvoe this game. The gameplay itself is fairly light and straightforward but the strategy is deceptively deep. Throw in a fantastic looking game and over the top components and you have the makings for a great gateway game that can be played by veteran gamers and non gamers alike. This game has replaced Catan in my house as the gateway game of choice.

Rating: 8
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8. Board Game: Conquest of the Fallen Lands [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:2131]
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This is a hidden gem of a game which attempts to simulate a real time strategy type of feel. Each player builds a set of workers who then allow you to deploy military units from a hand of cards. These units are deployed on the map and then assist future deployments by lending combat values to all hexes adjacent to them. The catch is they will assist all players, so you really have to make sure you don't help your opponents too much with your own unit deployments. Area control, hand management and resource control all play heavily in this neat little game that takes about an hour to play and is almost always decided in the final 1 or 2 turns.

Rating: 8.1
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9. Board Game: Peloponnes [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:711]
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The only other game on this list I have yet to acquire.

This was suggested to me by a con buddy and I was blown away. I loved this game so much I wanted to go out and get my own copy. I love auctions as well as brutal games with tough decisions. Peloponnes is an almost pure auction game with constant brutal decisions. Unfortunately, it is not a cheap game. I haven't purchased a lot of games since November and so this remains on my wishlist.

Rating: 8.5
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10. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:212]
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I recently learned to play this 50 year old classic. I love the clean play and deep strategy of this game. Plus I am a sucker for speculation mechanics and I admire this game for what it is.

Acquire suffers from its age. It just isnt sexy enough to hit the table as often as it deserves. Still, the fact that this 50 year old game still competes with the like of the BGG top 50 for table time gives it credit for the solid design it is.

Rating: 8.5

Also, for more of my thoughts on Acquire, see my review: Acquire - Another Mixed review by Casualgod
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11. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:287]
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Innovation is a very polarizing game. You either lover it or hate it.

I hated it, until I loved it. Still, it has a lot of things I hate in a game. There is a lot of chaos, little to no long term strategy and crazy swings in score. The person who plays the best game of Innovation (whatever that is) has no expectation of winning the game.

So, what makes it fun are all of the above. Innovation is a 30 minute roller coaster ride of crazy highs and lows. You are never out of the game despite how horribly things are going for you at any given moment. Victory can be snatched from the jaws of defeat in the same way that a sure win can crumble to dust before your eyes with the turn of a card.

Love it.

Rating: 8.5
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12. Board Game: Tammany Hall [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:598]
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I have had this game on my radar for quite some time. The fact that roughly 500 copies exist have kept it out of my collection. I missed the kick starter only because I hadn't played it yet. I fixed that recently at BGG.CON, where I checked it out from the library and taught myself how to play. I played 2 games at the con, a 3 player and a 5 player games, losing both times. But they were the 2 best games I played all con.

I adore this game. Why? Well, it played well 3 and 5 players, which is a great bonus considering the play count is 3-5. It plays in about and hour and the rules are about 5 pages long. I like short play times and simple rules. Check and check.

I also love auctions, and the blind auctions where all bids are lost make the decisions in Tammany Hall brutally tough and this is what made me fall in love with this game.

In short, quick play time, good at all player counts, tough decisions that are never obvious and simple elegant play.

Rating: 9
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13. Board Game: Le Havre [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:40]
David Debien
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I love games with lots of difficult decisions. I also really like engine building. Le Havre excels at both. The shear number of excruciating decisions LH presents its players with is stunning and the veriety of different engines that can be built in the game is mind boggling. Throw in a huge stack of special buildings, only a few of which are seen in any one game, and you have a great game with a ton of replay value.

This has been my most played game of the new year and arguably my favorite game find of 2012. I only put it at #2 because the next game was king of the table in 2012, while LH is likely to be the same this year.

Rating: 9
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14. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:12]
David Debien
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My second favorite Feld design, my favorite being Macao.

This one is just fun. While the strategy in CoB is by no means light or obvious, this game is very approachable by less experienced gamers. I have successfully taught CoB to non-gamers who enjoyed it quite a bit. It may be a stretch to call CoB a gateway game, but it is about as gateway as I usually want to play.

The central mechanic of using 2 dice actions at a time on your turn mixed with the tile drafting mechanic gives Castles of Burgundy a nice mix of long term strategy and short term tactics.

Also, the sense of satisfaction one gets after carefully setting up a nice cascade of actions yielding a super turn makes this one a lot of fun. Mix in a fair number of different player boards for replay value and you get one of Stefan Feld's best designs.

Rating: 9
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