Top Ten Games released in 2003 - according to Tom Vasel
Tom Vasel
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Of course, I haven't played most of the games released at Essen, so I'm sure I'll have to modify this list when I get around to trying all of them out. But I have really enjoyed this year of gaming - with several outstanding games joining my collection this year.

So here is a list of my favorite games released in the year 2003, starting with #10, and moving on to my favorite game of the year.

Two games that just barely missed the list were Crossword Pyramids and Nobody but us Chickens - both excellent games of their own genre (word games and bluffing).
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1. Board Game: Battleball [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:2196]
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Number 10 - Battleball

When Toys 'R Us had their "buy one, get one free sail", I picked this one up - thinking it would be great for my game club. And indeed it was - becoming one of the most popular games I've introduced for a while. I myself had a fun time playing it, and see the potential for adding a pile of optional rules to flesh it out. Great toy component, and fun, simple rules make this a game I'll keep for a while.
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2. Board Game: Coloretto [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:482]
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Number 9 - Coloretto

I didn't have high hopes for this game when I first saw it, and after hearing the rules, still wasn't overly impressed. But I found that it was an excellent filler game, and played easily and quickly. I still don't like the backs of the cards, but I think it's a good game anyway.
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3. Board Game: King Me! [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:1934]
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Number 8 - King Me!

Another great filler comes here, right after Coloretto. They are certainly different games, but I think that the theme and the slightly better components gives King Me! the edge. It's good to live in an era where great fillers are readily available, and King Me is one of the best to show up this year.
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4. Board Game: Coyote [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1860]
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Number 7 - Coyote

Another filler makes my list (I do so much like them), but this one also qualifies as an excellent party game. Yes, it's a silly theme, butone that invokes quite a bit of laughter and excitement when played. This game is slowly replacing Liar's Dice in my group, and it's a game I think I'll bring to the table quite a bit in 2004.
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5. Board Game: Balloon Cup [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:905]
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Number 6 - Balloon Cup

The Kosmos line is getting crowded with excellent two-player games, but this is the first time one has challenged my wife's love for Lost Cities. Stephen Glenn has produced a little work of art here, and even though the theme is practically non-existent, the game is a simple, fun game, with some nice tactics thrown in.
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6. Board Game: PeaceBowl [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:7979]
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Number 5 - Peacebowl

It seems that many adults don't share my love of Peacebowl, as it is a bit too random for them. But it is still one of my favorites. I love the them, I like the gameplay, and I love playing it when all the players get really into the game (often this happens with teenagers). It's a hard game to find, but it's worth it.
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7. Board Game: Age of Mythology: The Boardgame [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:2482]
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Number 4 - Age of Mythology

I was extremely eager to play this game, especially when I saw the miniatures - some of the best to grace any "war" game. Then I found out that this game wasn't a war game, and I was slightly dissapointed. But then I played the game - and had a blast! High quality components, a "Eurogame" feel, and a lot of diversity make this a winner in my book!
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8. Board Game: Queen's Necklace [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1701]
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Number 3 - Queen's Necklace

Bruno Faidutti has always been one of my favorite designers, and this game again shows why. One of the best three player games, ever, this game not only has a good theme, but the auctioning rules are unique enough to make multiple games quite enjoyable. A small game, but packed with fun!
 
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9. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:312]
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Number 2 - Game of Thrones

I didn't know what to expect when I first played Game of Thrones, as I had never read the books. But the game was a hodge-podge of goodness. It took the best parts of Diplomacy, LOTR: Confrontation, Cities and Knights, and other games, and put them together - not making a mess in the process, but a true gaming gem. A great game in every sense!
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10. Board Game: Duel of Ages Set 1: Worldspanner [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1736]
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Number 1 - Duel of Ages

Well, if a game is my favorite game ever, there's really no reason why it wouldn't be at the top of this list also. Many Eurogamers don't like the game because of the amount of luck therein, but the great theme, the massive diversity and replayability, and the tremendous fun wrapped up in this package make it the best game I've ever played. I love games, and Duel of Ages takes all that love and puts it in one place. Kudos to Venatic for making such a fantastic game!
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