My top games from 2012
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Recommend
247 
 Thumb up
3.76
 tip
 Hide
I did this for the first time last year and it proved quite popular so I thought I would do it again.

We are now into the fifth month of 2013 so it seems like a good time to look back on the new games I played in 2012 and try to put them in some kind of order. I did not play every game published in 2012 so if you’re favourite game is not here, I might not have played it. Of course it might also be that it was a rubbish game or had Zombies in it. (Actually doesn’t that make it the same thing?)

Before doing last years list I thought 2011 had been a great year. While trying to come up with a top 20 for the year I realised that I had been looking at the year through Kingdom Builder tinted glasses. Kingdom Builder was unleashed at Essen in 2011 and immediately became my favourite game. Due to my euphoria for it, it made the whole year feel great. It was quite a surprise to realise there were very few other games that I liked a lot published in 2011. I struggled a bit to even come up with 20 games to recommend for the year.

Although for me 2012 did not produce another Kingdom Builder (although the 2012 number 1 is also a pretty awesome game) I found it much easier to come up with a top 20. Heck I could probably even come up with a top 30 for last year. This is all the more surprising in that even as late as August last year I remember thinking it had been a pretty poor year with only a couple of games I liked published so far. Obviously the last four months of the year produced some great games.

So lets see what games I enjoyed (and one I did not) in 2012.
Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
1. Board Game: Gauntlet of Fools [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:3814]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Most Disapointing Game

It seems traditional to start off with what you did not like, and for me nothing else came close to this for being a major disappointment.

I’m a bit of a Donald X fan boy. I love Kingdom Builder, and I like quite a lot, most of his other games. So when I saw this on Kickstarter, it seemed a No-brainer. I did no research at all just decided that it would be my first ever Kickstarter game. It also helped that the game was being produced by Indie Boards and Cards, the one American games company that manages to charge reasonable shipping costs to the rest of the world.

Just to de-rail myself a bit here. I don’t know how they do it but I really want to thank Indie Boards and Cards for their shipping prices. While most US companies quote prices that look like they accidentally added an extra 0 on the end, Indie Boards and Cards charge what actually seems fair and reasonable. I might not have liked this game, but I am a big fan of the company.

So back to a normal program. What’s so bad about this game? Mostly they forgot to include a game. A typical play of Gauntlet can be split into two parts. First the players choose their hero weapon combo and then they try to survive in the dungeon for as long as possible.

For the first part random hero cards are played to the table, one per player. Each hero is then given a random weapon. Now the heroes and weapons are not all created even, some are definitely better than others. So the resulting combos can be quite uneven.

The players then take it in turns to pick the combo they want. Somebody else taken the combo you wanted? No problem with a boast you can take it from them. Now this is the games BIG idea and it is pretty good and one day soon someone will use it in a better way. What boasting is, is basically handicapping the hero. Claiming to hop through the dungeon or fight with one hand behind your back etc. (You lose dice to roll or other benefits)

The reality is that all this really does is equalise the combos so that by the time the dungeon part starts everyone has a got a similar combo of hero and weapon.

And then all the players explore the dungeons, one card at a time. Yes the dungeon is represented by a deck of cards. Most of the cards are a creature that you encounter, fight and gain treasures\points if you win. Combat is rolling dice. Now although the hero\weapon combos are all different and some combos get more dice, some weapons do more damage etc, you can’t get away from the fact that in 95% of the games the player that rolls higher numbers will win.

The players do have decisions to make but they don’t really make a lot of difference. You might as well all grab a bunch of dice, roll them and declare whoever rolls the highest the winner. You will get the same result but will save 15 minutes of your life.

The game does offer a small amount of fun. Rolling dice and killing things is always fun, but really there is not much of a game here. I can see children and non-gamers enjoying the lightness and quick playing time, but I can’t help feeling that most gamers response will be the same as mine. ‘Is that it?’
33 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
2. Board Game: Kingdom Builder: Nomads [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Best Expansions

I tend to make a conscientious effort not to buy many expansions. For far too many years I have bought expansions that just don’t get played. So I only buy a few each year. Last year there were a couple I particularly liked although one of them was for a slightly unusual reason.

Kingdom Builder:Nomads

So an expansion for my favourite game making the list, what a surprise, not. Much as I love Kingdom Builder I was always a little disappointed that you only got 10 scoring cards in it. I wanted more. With Nomads I got more, but only three more. So yes a little disappointed there as well. But what they lack in quantity they do make up for in differences. The three cards included with Nomads give points for in game scoring. No more are all the points counted at the end of the game, there are plenty of points to pick up in game.

Four new boards each with new tokens on them were added. Considering the base game came with eight boards with eight different sets of tokens that provide a lot of different set ups I was quite happy with four more boards.

The castles had gone on the new boards replaced by Nomad tents. Nomad tents give you a token like the ones you get from the other boards when you build next to them. You only put one token on them and they are one use only, but they do tend to be more powerful then regular tokens, used at the right time they could be game winners.

So even if I was a little disappointed with the lack of new scoring cards overall a great expansion to a wonderful game. Expect to see crossroads here next year.

Quarriors: Quarmageddon

Do I think this is a great expansion because it adds lots of new dice to Quarriors? Not exactly? Do I like it because it adds a new better way to play Quarriors? Not really that either.

So why do I like it so much? Because of the box. Come again? One of the main problems with Quarriors (If you like the game to start with) was the tin it comes in. Now it looks pretty good, but it’s such an awkward shape. It’s hard to fit on your shelves with anything else and it very hard to carry with other games when you are going to play games with your friends. I definitely did not play Quarriors as much as I might because of the box shape.

Not only do all the dice fit in the box (At least until the next expansion) but they look great too. Even people who don’t like the game acknowledge that the dice look good and the way they are stored really does look affective. Now if I want to play Quarriors I just show people all the dice sitting in the box and its game on.

Best thing about the expansion is the box, am I serious, absolutely.
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
3. Board Game: Android: Infiltration [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1291]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 20

And going in reverse order at number 20 we find a game by Donald X Vaccarino. (I promise there are some games in the list he had nothing to do with)

This was the first game published in 2012 that I bought last year. It’s not got a lot of love on the geek and I don’t know why. The game is fairly short, with fairly simple rules and a lot of built in variety. Sounds a bit like another game by Mr V that I am pretty keen on. It’s not, though it does not have the (slightly) hidden depth of Kingdom Builder. Choices really are limited here and its all pretty much a push your luck game.

It is a bit like a cyber punk version of Incan Gold. It’s a game that often does a good job of seducing its players to push their luck just a little too much in fact. I have played games where no one has managed to get out of the facility. In fact if you went into the facility got one data file and left and then sat there for 30 minutes waiting for the other players there is a reasonable chance you might win. I realise its things like that that do turn players off this game.

But just go with the flow see how well you can do and have fun with some friends and I find the game a lot of fun. In a way it could be claimed that Escape: Curse of the Temple later in the year distilled the essence of this kind of game into a 10 minute real time game, but I still like this one.

So a fun easy game that for me does not out stay its welcome. It was not the best game of last year but it was far from being the worst.
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
4. Board Game: Goblins, Inc. [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:2404]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 19

This is a game from Czech Design Edition. In the first part of each round you build a giant robot using tiles and in the second part of the game you try to survive with that robot. So it’s a re-theme of Galaxy Trucker right?

Not exactly. Although if you look at the components and the over view of the game play it might look to be that way, this game has a very different feel to it. For a start it’s a sort of co-op game. What’s a sort of co-op game you ask? Well the game is played by four players over three rounds and on each round a different one of the players is your partner.

Each round, each team first of all builds a giant robot and in the second part they fight each other. So you work together for a round? Well maybe. The thing that makes the game really interesting is that all of the players have hidden goals, and your goals may or may not be complementary to your partners. You may both be trying to win the combat rounds, but on the other hand your partner may have goals that are better achieved if you do badly in the combat. Never has sabotage been so much fun.

The game tends to feel a little random the first time or two you play it until you realise how lucky the experienced player have been.

So it’s a game that looks a bit like Galaxy Trucker but plays nothing like it. If you like a game where you can screw with the other players up close and personal, this is the game for you.
24 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
5. Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:431]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 18

So the game previously referred to as the distillation of games like Infiltration (Or at least the end part of it).

The idea could not be simpler, each player has a bunch of dice. You have been looting a temple like Indiana Jones. The temple is about to collapse and you have to get out. You need to collect some gems, find the exit and get out, all of you. yes it’s a co-op game, if even one player does not get out everyone loses.

And here is the real kicker the game last 10 minutes and is played in real time. For everything you want to do, you roll dice there are no limits on how often you roll. Though dice can get locked, but you and your fellow players can roll to unlock them.

To move you roll, to explore you roll, to collect gems you roll and to escape you roll. It’s a very noisy game and also quite a tricky one. On your first game you will probably all go your own way and at least one player will get all their dice locked and you will lose.

You don’t need to all move around together but it’s definitely a good idea to not stray too far from other players. Have a few bad rolls and get all your dice locked with no one nearby and it’s pretty much game over.

The game includes a CD that acts as a timer and plays atmospheric music. If you can’t play a CD where you are playing, the game also has an egg timer included that you can use to regulate the length of the game.

The game comes with an expansion in the box and there have already been a couple more released so plenty of variety.

A huge box for what amounts to a filler game but it’s a lot of fun and the tension created if you can use the CD is amazing.
32 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
6. Board Game: Aeroplanes: Aviation Ascendant [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2478]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 17

I’m a big fan of Martin Wallace, but his games over the last couple of years have been a bit inconsistent. The last game of his that I really love is London. I don’t like this as much but it’s definitely my favourite since then.

And while it’s no Brass or Automobile it’s probably the heaviest game he has made since then. The idea immediately appealed, run an airline, use airports all over the world and ferry passengers all around. Apart from anything else it made a change from playing with trains.

Then I saw Tom Vasel’s review, and he slammed it. So I thought maybe I would give it a pass. But a couple of my friends played it and reported back favourably, so I bit the bullet and got a copy.

I’m glad I did it’s a fun pick up and deliver game. Martin Wallace is always looking for new ways to decide start player for each turn and I suppose it was just a matter of time till it was randomised. You roll a dice and the first player marker moves around the table equal to the number you rolled. It does mean you can’t plan for double moves like you can in Brass and you need to react a bit more to opportunities when they occur.

One of the things Tom did not like (In addition to first player mechanic) is the way early era airports can be built over by later era airports. He thought that did not make much sense. I thought it made perfect sense. It’s an airline losing a route as it is awarded to another airline. Seems very thematic to me.

It’s not likely to challenge Brass as my favourite Wallace game, but it’s one of the best he has designed in quite a while now.
19 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
7. Board Game: Rolling Freight [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:2082]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 16

So following a plane game it’s a train game. Somewhat surprisingly its also a kickstarter game. I say surprising as I have found Kickstarter games in general to not be very good. This is by far my favourite and nothing else even comes close.

It’s a pick up and deliver train game, but its nothing like any other pickup and deliver game I know. One of the big reasons is that the economy is based on dice rather than money. (Rolling Freight, get it?)

But even without the dice economy the game does things differently enough to stand on its own. Goods are assigned to the map at the beginning of the game and there are set routes on the board. Not anyone can use any route though, you need to buy the contract. There are only four contracts available at any time and they come out in a semi random order. They are in three batches but each batch is shuffled.

There are also upgrades available to buy which let players use extra dice, build tracks quicker, carry over unused resources and more. Its an easily expandable system and the base set even comes with some contracts that can only be used in upcoming expansions.

Players can also invest in switching stations which makes it easier to deliver goods over longer distance.

If you enjoy pick up and deliver games you should at least try this one.
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
8. Board Game: Thebes: The Tomb Raiders [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1991]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 15

Thebes:The Tomb Raiders

My one and only play of Thebes was a couple of years ago and I liked it a lot. I find something in my mindset makes me not want to pay full price for an old game. So I have had it on my wants list ever since and I have kept my eye out for a copy either in the marketplace or on ebay, but so far I did not find one at a price I was happy with.

So along came the new card version. It was new and shiny so I got a copy. I am pretty glad I did as I like it a lot. Veteran Thebes players I have played it with have enjoyed it and say it’s enough like Thebes to not be worth getting if you have Thebes but different enough to be worth playing.

So basically it’s like Thebes, but it’s not like Thebes. Clear as mud.

It is pretty much a big pile of cards and a small board. Cards are replenished as required, the dig sites fill up as the game goes on and players have limited opportunities to dig. Each player starts with 5 cards, one for each area where they may dig and one wild card. There are a couple of extra wild cards in the deck, but you may be limited to five digs max.

Other than that it’s much like the board game, collect knowledge, do digs, shuffle cards for chosen location and deal your self the number of cards you get for time taken. Keep any artefacts and put back rubble.

The game finishes when the deck is exhausted. The box says 30 minutes, but I say closer to an hour. It’s all about timing, dig too early and there might not be much there, dig too late and all the other players will have taken the good stuff.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
9. Board Game: Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Original Series [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:2760] [Average Rating:6.69 Unranked]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 14

I like Star Trek. I like deck building games. So this was a bit of a no-brainer.

In fact I bought all three Star Trek deck building games. Due to licensing issues they were all delayed for release in the UK till early this year. This is the latest version and I think the best.

The rule book is not very good (though it is better than the earlier games). The first play was quite a struggle with lots of rule look ups and a fair few guesses. But even so, it’s Star Trek and it’s deck building.

To be fair it probably did not have to be that good a game for me to enjoy it, but it is almost a bonus that it is a pretty good game. It has been compared to Ascension because there are always 9 cards available to buy. But it’s quite a different beast to Ascension. For a start you have three different currencies. (Dominion any one) and when you purchase cards you’re not getting victory points, you are getting cards to help you complete missions, and that is what gets you victory points.

It’s very satisfying putting together decks that can complete missions, especially if your deck contains Kirk or Spook or Bones or one of the other main characters. It does of course suffer that unless you are a real Star Trek Ubergeek it’s just not the same getting the Klingon and Romulan characters.

A fun game overall, that might be a bit more complex than you expect. I’m looking forward to the next game in the series where we might finally have a useful rule book.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
10. Board Game: Noblemen [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1514]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 13

Talk about a game that slipped under the radar. Saw this among the new releases at my favourite FOGS and was immediately interested. A game about trying to win favour at the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

I was quite surprised when I found out this had been an Essen release, as I had never heard about it. But it sounded interesting and the components looked great so I thought I would take a chance and get a copy.

And I am pretty glad I did. A solid, interesting and most importantly good game. It borrows a lot from various other games but at it’s heart it’s a tile laying game. Players start off at the lowest level of the nobility and with a small basic estate.

The players play tiles and buy buildings to improve their estates in the hope that the monarch will acknowledge them and bestow great titles on them.

Although players all build their own estates, there is a reasonable amount of interaction between the players (for a Euro anyway) as players can use other players resources.

The cleverest rule is probably to do with the Queen. There are a number of actions players can take to get control of the queen. When the player who currently controls the queen finishes their turn, they score a point and the current round ends. It means players are never sure how long a round will last.

As I said the components are great and the player shields are wonderful. You can change the top part so it reflects your current rank, Baron, Duke, Earl etc.

Like shares, your rank can go down as well as up.
18 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
11. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:44]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 12

I was very lucky to get a copy of Key Market in 2011. A friend (obviously a very good one) had a spare copy that he let me have at cost. So when Keyflower was announced just as I was getting made redundant from my job I was worried that I might not be so lucky this time.

But I managed to get another job pretty quickly and Keyflower had a much larger print run than Key Market so all was good.

So what kind of a game is Keyflower? Is it an auction game? Is it a worker placement game? Is it a tile laying game? Well it’s actually a bit of all those things.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always struggle a bit with the rule books for the Key games. I just don’t seem to be able to get a feel for how to actually play the game from the rule book. I need to set it all out and play through a few turns for it to click.

Keyflower is no exception, even the first couple of games I got a few things wrong. I think I am there now.

The game has more tiles than you can use in a game so every game will be different. (Which for me is a good thing)

For those that don’t know it. The game lasts four rounds, one for each season. Players have a selection of meeples in three different colours. Each player performs one action at a time, usually either bidding to buy a tile from the centre of the table or placing one or more meeples on a tile anywhere on the table to activate it.

When you win a tile you add it to your own village. Meeples placed on your village tiles (regardless of who placed them) come to you at the end of the round.

Despite using very familiar mechanics the game manages to use them in a way that makes it feel very fresh.
39 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
12. Board Game: Briefcase [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:3396]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 11

Although my one time using Kickstarter did not work out so well, I’m glad to report my support of this game on Indigogo did work out well.

It’s a rather unusually deck building game, in that there are only a handful of different cards that go into your deck. The main aim of the cards in your deck is to enable you to buy companies and gain resources. The game is more about creating good synergies between the companies you buy rather than fine tuning your deck.

That’s not to say you don’t need to tune your deck, it’s just a lesser part of the game than most deck builders.

Again there are more companies than you need to play the game (Especially if you backed it and got extra ones) so there is a fair amount of variety between games.

I also got some variant cards with my copy, which I have not used yet.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
13. Board Game: Andean Abyss [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:786]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 10

It’s a war game, what’s that doing here?

I must confess, I used to be a war gamer. I still have a lot of the Avalon Hill classics. And I do still have an occasional dabble. I might dabble a bit more but I get very few opportunities to play two player games and most war games are two player.

Not this one though, it’s for one to four players. So no excuse about not having the right number of players.

I might have mentioned before but I like unusual themes and so Insurgency and Counter insurgency in Columbia in the 90’s seem pretty different and interesting to me.

With the full four player game, one player is the government forces, there are two different guerrilla forces and the cartels. If you play less than four the game is programmed to play the other factions. The government faction is always a player faction.

Each faction has different victory conditions and each faction plays very differently.

It’s a card driven game but not in the usual war game way. The deck is shuffled and each turn one card is used. (You can always see the current card and the card for next turn). The card has turn order on it and usually two events. The players in turn order decide if they want to take an action or use one of the events.

The really tough thing though is that only a maximum of two players can take actions each turn and the action of the first player limits the options of the second player. Also when you take an action, you are not active for the next turn. This makes for some really tough decisions.

If there is one knock I have against the game is that it’s very hard first play to really know what to do. There are so many choices and with no real front line most players can do something nearly anywhere on the board. Although to a degree the other three players will be going against the government forces, they can’t ignore each other all game long either.

Intriguing and absorbing game.
35 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
14. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:333]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
N umber 9

The Great Zimbabwe or should I call it The Great Enigma. I really still can’t make up my mind how much I like this. Or even if I do in fact like it.

So how come I have it at number 9? Well I think I like it and I think I like it enough to rate it here. But of all the games on the list this is the one that could change the most if I redid the list in a years time.

The game is certainly intriguing and different. (You can say that about most Splotter games).

It seemed to be a good year for games that don’t play as you expect them too. I think both this and Snowdonia create expectations that you know how the game is going to play at least until you play it. The first game I played all but one player were grabbing cards and pushing their victory requirements up like there was no tomorrow. The player who was not doing this in fact only took one card all game and that was the god that does nothing but reduce your victory requirements (forgot his name) and he won easily. As well as having the lowest victory requirements he had the most points anyway.

So I learned that it’s not a game about grabbing lots of cards no matter how good they look. Stay lean and mean, though I am sure every card in the game is useful in the right situation. The game is actually pretty much a puzzle game. Placement of the resources on the board and where you decide to build are so important but also so hard to get your head around.

As much as I want to like this even more I can’t really see me ever getting close to mastering it. I feel my lot is to play it occasionally, celebrating when I don’t come last and really wondering what it takes to master it.
17 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
15. Board Game: Smash Up [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:652] [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 8

Are you ready to Rumble? Here is the first of two games I have in my top ten that really seems to divide people. Whilst it has a lot of fans including me, a lot of people seem to hate this game. In fact I bought a used copy from a friend who played it once and swore he never wanted to play it again.

So what’s the matter with it? Too random and too much luck, Quarriors as a card game. (Or that is what people say). But then I also like Quarriors.

What’s good about it? It’s fun to mix up all the bizarre factions that come with it (and more to come). Really you don’t want to play a game where you can play Zombie Dinosaurs or Alien Pirates etc? The game play is simple and quick. While I don’t think it’s the deepest game ever I do think there is a bit more than random luck to it. If you take the time to get to know the cards each faction tends to be powerful in different ways learn how to use those strengths and there are some great combos to be made.

My main grumble with the game is that it does not come with any way to record scores. (They have added a score track in the first expansion) It’s a pain to have to remember pen and paper just so you can play it.
23 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
16. Board Game: Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:128] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 7

And another deck builder. Maybe this should not be this high as in many ways it is an unfinished game. I do think this game will not be complete until at least one expansion has been released.

So what do I mean by that? Well the game features Super Heroes vs Super Villains. (I suspect you might have already figured that out) and whilst it’s not much of a problem on lower player counts (1-3) at the higher player counts (4-5), the game requires a certain synergy between the Heroes and Villains you play with.

At the higher player count you really need pick your Heroes and Villains to match. X-Men against X-Men villains or Avengers against Avengers villains. Mix them up and the game becomes very hard to win for the players.

And what about poor old Spider Man? There are Spider Man villains in the game, but Spider Man is part of the Spider Friends group and how many other Spider Friends heroes are in the group, none. Making it quite tricky if you want to play Spider Man.

The game is also part of a new emerging sub genre, Semi Co-op. It does not call itself that, it says it’s a co-op game where the players need to defeat the criminal mastermind or all players lose. But if the players win, you then count up victory points and the player with the most is the grand winner.

Now I initially though this is crazy, it’s not a co-op, as you have an overall winner. Then I came across Archipelago, which has a similar idea about players winning as a co-op but then being a grand winner. My friend
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
wrote a very interesting blog about this idea. I know realise I needed an attitude adjustment to see how a semi co-op works and accept that even if you are not the grand winner, it’s still better to be a regular winner than a loser.

So it’s a slightly unfinished game championing a new sub genre. I like Super Heroes, I like deck builders and I like this game, just be aware expansion is really needed to be able to use everything in the box.
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
17. Board Game: DC Comics Deck-Building Game [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:703] [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 6

And yet another deck building game, in fact another Super Hero deck building game.

This is very much an Ascension clone and it’s even simpler than Ascension in that there is only one currency, power. Cards are dealt to a central row, players buy them using power and try to defeat a bunch of Super Villains.

About the only ‘new’ idea in the game is that everything the players buy or win goes into their deck, heroes, villains, equipment, super villains, everything.

Each player is a different Super Hero, with a super power. Some people don’t like that you can be playing Superman but have the Batmobile and Green Arrows bow, but I think its all part of the fun.

And fun is pretty much what this game is all about. It’s quick, fast and fun. Truth be told it’s not a great game but I just have a lot of fun playing it. Might be the Super Hero fan in me reacting but I just love it.

Wins the award for worst game title ever. It really seems like they could not be bothered to come up with a name.
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
18. Board Game: Snowdonia [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:356]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 5

As mention when talking about The Great Zimbabwe, this was the other 2012 game that set out to fool the players. First time playing we were all expecting a 2 hour plus worker placement game, with lots of planning and careful execution.

Instead we got a game that lasted a little over an hour and quickly degenerated into more of a race game as the game itself kept stealing points from under the players noses. And it was all the better for it.

Reading the rules does not prepare you for just how much of the game, the game itself plays. Yes, you see the rules about the event cubes, but until the first section of track and first station are finished of by the game you really can’t get how it’s going to play.

Even though it’s not a co-op game it has a bit of a feel like it is one as the players start to feel more like they are playing the game than each other.

Without the events this would still be a good worker placement game, if a little long and not particularly original. The events made it my fifth favourite game of the year.

The game also comes with a variant so that if you get bored building a railway up Snowden, you can build the Ffestiniog Railway instead. Is it a little sad that I have been on both railways?
27 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
19. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:38]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 4

It’s the wheel game. Are the Wheels a gimmick? Well kind off. You could play the game without the wheels, the board could have a number of tracks on it and you just move your workers up the track every turn.

But the Wheels look cool and they take the pain (and the possibility of missing a move) out of the book keeping. The game itself is pretty tough. The first time you play there are a staggering amount of choices. I sometimes get a bit fed up always having to feed your workers in Uwe Rosenberg’s games, but I think here the feeding is almost a blessing, that and the fact that so many of the things you do require corn, make it at least obvious that you need to get on the corn wheels early, giving you some clue of what to do.

As any good Euro knows, there should be multiple paths to victory or as it has pretty much been my experience, multiple paths to defeat. There is Corn and other resources to be collected, Crystal Skulls to be collected and deposited, temples to pray at, buildings and monuments to build and more.

The basic concept of the game is actually very simple. Each turn you have to either put a minimum of one worker on a wheel or take at least one worker off of a wheel and take the associated action. Some of the better actions need your workers to stay on the wheel for quite a few turns, so timing really is an important skill.

So a lovely looking game with lots of strategic options.
47 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
20. Board Game: Seasons [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:164]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 3

And here is the other Marmite game. Another game that draws very strong views from players. Once again I find myself in the love group.

So what’s the matter with this one? It takes too long, it’s too fiddly and you need to know all the cards.

Funny thing is the people I know that complain that it takes too long are mostly bad AP players. Yes it takes too long, because you were playing.

I have seen a few people compare it to Magic the Gathering, and I can see that it is a bit like that. You need to collect energy and use that energy to put cards in play to advance your position. Each player is trying to score points rather than hurt other players, though there are quite a few cards that do lat you damage other players.

To play at a high level you do need to be familiar with the cards. But any game with any depth needs you to have a certain level of proficiency. Personally I have enjoyed getting to know the game and really enjoyed getting some new cards and thinking, wow what a great card.

I tend to play nearly all my games at London on Board and every time I get to play there have been a couple of players who have not played before so I still have not played with the more advanced cards.

Apart from anything else the game has some of the best chunky dice ever.
42 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
21. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:96]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 2

If I had made this list a month after Essen, this would have been number 1. I took to it straight away. My top game from 2011 was Kingdom Builder, in fact it’s my favourite game ever and I was sure that this was 2012’s Kingdom Builder.

Although the game play was quite different I saw a lot of similarities. Fairly short rules, short game play, lots of variety and more depth to the game than was apparent from the first play or two.

What I did not realise was that it would generate the same complaints that Kingdom Builder got, too luck dependant and most moves are obvious. Yes there is an amount of luck, though if the tiles you want keep coming out at the wrong times for you too be able to get them, it’s not luck it’s you not being flexible enough. It’s not a game you can go into with a fixed plan, the tiles do come out in a random order and not all of them are used in every game, so you need to be able to adapt.

One friend I played with claimed the game was broken because he built two abattoirs and only one restaurant got into play. I commented that I actually thought it was his fault for over committing with two abattoirs and only one restaurant in play and that any of the other players would have laked any restaurants that turned up if they could.

I think I would prefer the hidden goals to be available for anyone to score. I think that would add an interesting twist as you try to work out what other players might be up to. (I know players do this anyway to deny points, but it would be even better if you could steal those points.)

I think the four basic tiles are a great idea which helps to mitigate the bad luck you might have. Having trouble getting more income or reputation, the basic tiles can help.

As for obvious decisions, yes some turns there may be but the turns that are not (most of them) determine the difference between winning and losing.
30 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
22. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:9]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Number 1

I’m sure this is not too much of a surprise. It’s been a huge success with so many people.

How come it was not number 1 a month after Essen? Mostly because I did not get a copy till a month after Essen. I had the opportunity to get a copy on the last day or Essen. (I was not in Essen, just Leisure games bought back some copies) but I made the mistake of getting Mecurius instead. As you can tell be the absence of Mecurius from this list, it was a bad decision.

This game is deep and complex, it can take 30 minutes to teach it to people before you can even start to play, but it so well designed it makes sense nearly straight away.

The components are great, nothing was skimped on, 7 full sets of everything. 14 different races, all of them actually play differently. And despite it’s complexity and depth (No one is saying moves are obvious her) it only takes 2 to 2 and a half hours to play. And even my AP friend who drove me mad playing Tzolk’in and Seasons seem ed to be able to play this fairly quickly.

One word of warning, it is the most solitaire game on the list, apart from some mostly un-intentional blocking there is very little interaction between players. You do get a discount for building a trading house next to another player and players do get the option to gain power (possibly at a loss of VPs) when a player build next to them, but there is no conflict, no trading or anything like that in the game.

There have been quite a few posts about factions being over powered or under powered. The interesting thing is that most people have different ideas on which are which suggesting to me that the factions are pretty well balanced. Some of the factions are definitely easier to play than others, but it does not make them better or worse in my opinion.
46 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.