Rahdo Runs Through►►► The Games of 2012!!!
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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This is a list of all the games of 2012 that my wife and I have played, ranked from bottom to top. Bear in mind, we tend to prefer more euro-ish, low conflict games, so the list skews that way. Also, any game that didn't support 2p? Not going to be on this list! Also, this list is not necessarily ranked in order of game quality - it's ordered in terms of our favourites to actually play.

I'll keep updating this geeklist as we play more 2012 games in the future (got several in the queue already), and in case anyone is interested in the other thoughts of a 2p-centric euro-ish gaming couple, click my Profile pic for other similar geeklists I've done, including our 2011 games played list: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/139211

ADDITIONS:
feb: Archipelago
mar: Spectaculum & My Happy Farm
mar: Gauntlet of Fools
mar: Uncharted: Board Game
Apr: Saint Malo, Ruhrshifffahrt, Qin & Among the Stars
Jun: Palaces of Carrara, Spellbound, Guildhall, The Great Zimbabwe
Jul: Seasons, Manhattan Project & Copycat
Apr: Targi, Oddville, Atlantis Rising, D Day Dice, Ark & Noah, Il Vecchio, Love Letter
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1. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:216]
Richard Ham
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Washington
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Finally gave this a try, and man, this is NOT a viable 2p experience, in our estimate. Okay as a 3+ game, but a real non-starter for 2, we found...
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2. Board Game: Expedition: Congo River 1884 [Average Rating:5.56 Overall Rank:12892]
Richard Ham
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Washington
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This actually seems like a decent game, for more than 2. With 2, it seemed very rote and by the book - the bluffing at the heart of the game REALLY needs more players to come alive, we think.
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3. Board Game: Plethora [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:10846]
Richard Ham
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Jen and I generally don't like straight pick up & deliver games, and this is pure PU&D. For players who like that sort of thing, I'd say this is well worth a look - very high quality components, great art, decisions heavier than are normally the case with PU&D, but still, just not a genre for us...
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4. Board Game: Tokaido [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:441]
Richard Ham
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Another year, another Antoine Bauza title that doesn't live up to 7 Wonders. Not that it's a bad game - if we had young kids, this would be an excellent family game (like Takenoko before it), but it's just me and Jen, and we need more meat on the bones, no matter how beautiful those bones may be.
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5. Board Game: Waka Waka [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:5767]
Richard Ham
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Gorgeous gorgeous game, and solid mechanics, but once again, it falters with 2 where it would fly with more. In this game, one of the core mechanisms is paying other players to use their special power cards when they play them. With 3 or 4 players, this could get very interesting, but with only 2, not so much
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6. Board Game: Hooyah: Navy Seals Card Game [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:5736]
Richard Ham
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Another fine game that is only so-so for 2p. With this co-op, in 2p the brilliant anti-alpha player mechanisms become superfluous chores, and the game, overall, is way too easy. But again, one can imagine how much more fun it becomes with more players, all working together to remember all the revealed data.
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7. Board Game: Android: Netrunner [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:42]
Richard Ham
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My first (but not last) controversial pick, I think. Why did we rate this so low, especially since we used to play it a LOT back in the 90's? Because frankly, in spite of how brilliant and revolutionary the asymmetrical design still is, the old school MTG-inspired core hand management system is painfully obsolete and inferior to post-Dominion design card management. There's no doubt it was the best CCG back in the day, but card game mechanisms have come a long way since then, and it hasn't kept up (in our opinion).

But I fully expect we're in the minority on this one
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8. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:5650]
Richard Ham
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Honestly, the quality and cleverness of this one's design warrants being higher on the list, but again, this isn't a list about objective game design, but rather about how much fun Jen and I had playing it. And in the case of this one, in spite of how smartly designed it is, we just don't enjoy memory games. We thought we might like a co-op one, but turns out... we didn't
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9. Board Game: Il Vecchio [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1243]
Richard Ham
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A very solid, smart pick up and deliver game... just a shame that Jen and I aren't the biggest fans of PU&D!
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10. Board Game: Spellbound [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:3203]
Richard Ham
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Washington
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A moderately nice co-op with insanely nice components. Basically fuses Knizia's Lord of the Rings (the original co-op?) with modern deckbuilders to drive the action. The big twist is that players are sharing a communal deck that they've built, which creates some nice tactical options during play.

If this game had come out pre-Pandemic, it'd likely rate much much higher, but it's definitely missing some zazz in the gameplay department. Something like the different book tracks behaving differently, or some event cards other than "move the enemy progress forward", some minions that do something other than just add points, etc.

As it is, its a very solid and well designed and balanced co-op that's a joy to behold on the table. Nice to play every once in a while as a diversion, but the gameplay doesn't quite live up to to the pieces.
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11. Board Game: Farmerama [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:5421]
Richard Ham
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Washington
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Really surprised this one from all time fav designer Uwe Rosenberg didn't capture our imagination more. The game is perfectly fine actually - plays smooth as silk, offers decent choices to make, and requires paying a lot of attention to your opponent to guess their next play, but what we felt was really missing was more meaningful unique setups (the trophies were nice, but not enough) and/or some unique player powers. Either one of these would have catapulted this one quite a bit higher as a 2p, I think, for us. Still, we liked it, just not enough to keep!
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12. Board Game: Urbanization [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:4240]
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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Interesting one here: there are some downright brilliant ideas in this city builder. Especially like how your population (and therefore your point-making potential) is based on the lowest of your buildings, food and money. Very Knizia-like, very very smart. Also loved how remaining land costs increased as plots got gobbled up. Brilliant in its elegance. But somehow, the game didn't quite sing for us, and I'm sorry to say I can't put my finger on why. I'm really bothered by this... I think maybe the combination of dryness, perfect information, and no unique setups probably did it in. 2 of those 3, probably forgiveable, all 3... too much for us. But still, greatly respect it, and will be watching what the designer comes up with next!
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13. Board Game: Android: Infiltration [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1268]
Richard Ham
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Washington
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Really liked the core ideas here, greatly thematic and a wonderful sense of fun. But hated that the 2p rules requiring each of us to control 2 characters who couldn't interact as a team. Just felt wrong, like 2p was tacked on to an otherwise great 3+ game...
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14. Board Game: Pyramidion [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:9125]
Richard Ham
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Washington
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This is a great thematic (sometimes very edgy thematic) economic euro pyramid builder, and this would have rated much much higher for us, except it's so damn cutthroat. Too mean spirited for us, unfortunately. Otherwise would have been a definite keeper!
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15. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:285]
Richard Ham
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Washington
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Here's another game that would rate much higher if I wasn't evaluating it solely as a 2p game. Almost everything in the game seems to be designed with more than 2 in mind - the value of resources when quelling unrest, the number of evolution cards on display, the existence of bidding for first player, the lack of any restrictions to tighten the board with 2p, etc. So while it plays fine with 2p, we suspect it's really much better with more (can't confirm though).

But actually, the bigger issue for us was that this game demands heavy negotiation between players... it's full of really brilliant mechanisms to get players wheeling and dealing with each other, and while for a lot of players, that must be fantastic, for us it was torture! My wife and I hate having to negotiate in real life, and it turns out that it doesn't work for us in a boardgame form either. We always boggle when people tell us they love haggling with shop owners while on vacation. This game is perfect for folks who think that way - who refuse to pay sticker price on a car, who try to shave 3 bucks of a used DVD player at a yardsale, etc. But that's not us... it's funny, but it feels to confrontational to our (I guess) gentle selves.

But I suspect we're weirdos. In fact, we were just last night signing the papers for a new rental apartment here in Malta (Gozo actually) and the agent told us before hand that we should offer 3 months up front to get the price lowered, and we were like "that's okay, it seems like a good price already, we're fine with it". And then the agent brought it up at the contract signing anyway(!), and the owner replied "actually, I was going to ask you for 6 months up front with the already stated price" and both Jen and I replied "that's okay with us!" So we actually negotiated in the wrong direction! We were so mortified by the notion of seeming unappreciative, we're clearly negotiating wusses.

Hence, Archipelago, while a very worthy game, is not for us
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16. Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island [Average Rating:7.95 Overall Rank:36]
Richard Ham
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Another potentially controversial choice, since I'm sure this will make a lot of people's top 10. And we greatly admired this game's very smart design innovations, but in the end, we weren't excited to go back for more because it felt too much like "all your carefully laid plans are meaningless, because random story events shall decide your fate. DRAW ONE NOW!" It's like Arkham Horror's encounter cards found their way into a really solid co-op euro, and while this is a great mix for a lot of people, for us it wasn't. If the game length was shorter, we'd have enjoyed it more, but for such a long game, for so much to be determined by really swingy story card draws (which admittedly create great drama), it ultimately wasn't for us.
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17. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:8]
Richard Ham
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Are we insane? One of the bestest euros EVAR! Yes, TM is completely brilliant in how it so tightly interweaves solid, smooth game mechanisms, and creates replayability with such a wide range of really different feeling races and meaningful randomized world setup. But in the end, the game felt like it played almost on auto pilot. Knowing what the important bonuses are for every round, with very specific racial abilities to take advantage of, and clearly defined end goals, made us feel like there wasn't much room to explore different strategies. The strategies were chosen for us by the random setup, and we just had to puzzle out as best we could how to achieve them. Nothing wrong with that - sort of Agricola like. But in Agricola, there are a lot of branches you can follow and combinations in every game to explore. Here, it's obvious what you've got to try to achieve. Ended up feeling more like work and less like playing to us.

But again, I'm CERTAIN we're in the minority on this one, and clearly crazy.
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18. Board Game: Guildhall [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:717] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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Really smart hand management/set collection card game where the bigger your set the more powerful it is, until you turn it in for points, at which point you lose the power. We would have rated this *MUCH* higher if it weren't for the fact that it's a very vicious knife fight of take that screwage, which is not our cup of tea. But for players who like that sort of thing, it's excellent!
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19. Board Game: Ark & Noah [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:3945]
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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Nice simulation of building and loading noah's ark before time runs out. Essential a set collection game crossed with a resource gathering & building game. Nice solid gateway game, though Jen didn't care for the theme...
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20. Board Game: Ruhrschifffahrt 1769-1890 [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:2108]
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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A very smart, Wallace-esque industrial revolution economic simulator with a lot of smart and very thematic mechanisms. Really admire and respect this one. But, we found it didn't quite work for 2p as well as it should, and we don't generally have access to 3 players...
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21. Board Game: Gauntlet of Fools [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:3770]
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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This game apparently disappointed a lot of people in 2012, but I'm not sure why. We think it's a very clever and fast playing card game, with more depth than people realize. The common complaint of "all the heroes are pretty much the same, so no one boasts" is just not the case. And since we play it 2p, an extra level of stuff to think about it added with trying to get a good duo of heroes. Overall we thought it was a definite keeper!
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22. Board Game: Copycat [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1200]
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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Our quest for a Friedemann Friese game that we LOVE continues, but this one has a lot to like. Really rock solid combination of a lot of great mechanisms - plays smooth as silk. If this game gets an expansion to introduce some new cards, it'll probably shoot up a lot higher on the list!
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23. Board Game: D-Day Dice [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:885]
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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I honestly didn't expect Jen to enjoy this game because or the theme, but sheended up enjoying it. So I guess that's a testament to it's solid and interesting co-op dice gameplay, which is certainly novel!
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24. Board Game: Qin [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1265]
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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What a pleasant family-level tile laying game. Plays light and fast, in around 20 minutes or so. And with the upcoming tournament rules, it might also become a very heavy strategic game that plays in 20 minutes as well
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25. Board Game: The Doge Ship [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:6362]
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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A nice, light, ship building game. Enjoyed the simplicity of rolling dice to determine resource scarcity, and the communal building aspect. Why aren't there more games where players work on building the same thing?
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