New to you Jan 10 => Best new game you played this month and why
Andy
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What's the best new game you played this month (January 10) and why? Share your experiences of the new games you've played this month.

It would be helpful, if you could add an entry to the list even if you pick the same game as someone else.. since I use the geeklist entries to compile the summaries. Thanks



New To You Metalist 2010

New To You Meta-list - old metalist (currently broken)

New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread

Your Most Played Game (and more): January 2010
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76. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
MGK
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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A bit of a "let's knock off top 100 games I haven't played" month here.

Arkham Horror - 8.2. First time out playing this was with seven people fighting Yig, and although the setup - with no less than four noobs - took a bit of time, after one round of play we mostly got down to cases and I don't see how people complain about this game taking forever - our seven person game took just over three hours, and three hours for one seven-person game of anything beyond Eat Poop You Cat is honestly pretty good. (The way movement and encounter phases are handled really makes the game move fast once you know the mechanics.)

This was a lot of fun - very flavourful and thematic. It felt like what I've always thought Talisman should feel like. I want to play this again, maybe with expansions.

Red November - 7.2. Another co-op, and after having burned out on the genre with Pandemic I might be rejuvenated on it, because this was just a whole lot of silly fun and really carried the frenetic feel of a sinking submarine and drunk Soviet gnomes through successfully. We misread the rules the first time through, thinking that you immediately played the Kraken card (rather than having it be something that gets shuffled into the deck after the first time through it) and thus had a tougher time of it because we had to rush to the equipment room and grab as much equipment as possible in the hopes that we'd find an aqualung. But even with that, we squeaked out a win. Lots of fun, and I'm sure it'll see more play.

Caylus - 6.5. I had fun playing Caylus, but I have misgivings, mostly because optimal advancement methods became evident as the game progressed and increasingly I felt like playing the game successfully boiled down to identifying the best set of actions that the game provided that remained to you once other players did their thing. (This is something I get from a lot of worker placement games, which is why the mechanic has always fallen a little flat with me.)

I need a couple more plays to be sure, but if I'm right I think Caylus will drop off my interest list pretty fast. I'm not big on games that tell me how I should play them.

Kill Doctor Lucky - 6.1. I bought the deluxe version out of nostalgia for playing the old Cheapass version, and was disappointed to see how flimsy the cards were (I sleeved them, and I barely ever sleeve cards in boardgames) and that it had stiff cardboard pieces rather than nice wooden pieces. That having been said, Kill Doctor Lucky is still a fun little game that plays up to seven players in a little under an hour, with a lot of bluff action - the problem is that an inexperienced player can frequently just sit in a corner amsssing items and then you assume he has a shitload of Failure cards, and when he doesn't somebody pulls out a shock win. But it's a great little filler game. It's just nothing more than that.
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77. Board Game: Rage [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:5863]
Jeremiah Lee
United States
Milan
MI
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Lots of new games this month, quite exciting!

(the images are not mine, thanks to all the image posters)

Rage : CCG from 1995[/b] -
I played about two or three games of this in 1995/6, but since it's been about 15 years, and I never really got into it then, I'm considering this new.

I don't actually own any cards, but I'm playing online through the LackeyCCG software (which has been given permission, I believe, to use the Rage art/rules).

I used to play Magic, but wore out on the $$$, so I'm a bit hesitant to move to any CCGs, but this month I played two. LackeyCCG, and a thrift store find (later) gives me the chance to have access to a lot of cards, free, or at a low price. I don't intend to buy more.

So, Rage! It's good, the combat is really great, as it allows for some opportunities for some out-thinking, bluffing, and changing-pace for most-effect. If you normally play a big attack in the first round, I'm going to dodge in the first round. But when I blow my dodge on your little attack, because you guessed that I was going to dodge, you can play Entrail Rend the next turn to finish my character off.



Harry Potter Trading Card Game[/b] -
I found a box of about 400 of these at Value World for $4.24 (weird prices there, all the time). I thought they might have some secondary market value, so I picked them up. Turns out there's little value in the set, but as a game, it's not bad at all.

I was able to play the basic version (as described on the player-mat) with my five and a half year old daughter with only reading help. I'm not sure she entirely grasped what we were trying to accomplish, but she was able to handle the mechanics.

Later, I built some decks and played with my gaming friend. We had a good time, and we're both looking forward to playing more.



Small World[/b] -
I did't actually play a full game of this, so it's hard to judge, but I enjoyed it. Very similar to the old History of the World that I enjoyed so much when I played it, but much faster. For most people, and for getting the game played, shorter is a good thing, but I actually enjoy the epic-ness of HotW, and part of that is the length.

I'd play this again.



Goblin Slayer - [/b]
Received in a math trade, and I'm excited to get it played. This is another one that my daughter can play, and in a few years will be much more able to understand to a greater level. Right now though, her and her younger brother (4.5 years) have a good time playing with the game, even if they aren't playing it.

This is a quick, and quite luck-based, print and play game that looks great. The standee-goblins and the main game tiles will find more uses in my D&D campaign, so it's a bonus.

I love the quick two-player nature, and of course the theme and art.



Sorry! Sliders[/b] - [/b][/size]
Played with the SAGES game group in Toledo, and had a good time. It's not as much fun as I had expected, so I'm glad I didn't buy it as I was planning to. I'll have more chances to play it at the game group, so if I feel like I want to play it again, I'll have the chance.

While it was fun, and a good dexterity filler, it just didn't click with me. Perhaps I'll feel the same about Crokinole?



Gheos[/b] - [/b][/size]
Had the chance to play this at the same game night, and I enjoyed it. It would have been better had we been playing with all of the rules (oops!) but it was fun as it played. I'd give it another go if someone wanted to, but I wouldn't seek it out.



Stone Age[/b] - [/b][/size]
Played one two player game, and while I imagine it would be better with more players, but even still, this game doesn't seem like one that I'd be seeking out to play. It's a good gateway game, as has been discussed, but it's not for me.



Formula D[/b] - [/b][/size]
Really let down by this one. I like racing, or, at least, I like the idea of racing, but the game wasn't nearly as much fun as I'd hoped. Played a three-player race on Monaco, and I won. The game has already been traded away.

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78. Board Game: Groo: The Game [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:3706]
Mark Lockett
United Kingdom
Fishponds, Bristol
Bristol
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Technically not entirely new to me but it is the first time I have logged plays of this game after finally getting it back from a friend.

I still enjoyed it immensely and compared to the new games I played this month like Tomb wiped the floor with them.

Good Old Groo

It's good to have him back.
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79. Board Game: Bargain Hunter [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:2490]
Adam Alleman
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Bargain Hunter

This was best new to me game this month. I traded a game in a math trade for a game with Joe Huber and he happened to be visiting the area and offered to bring this along. Thanks Joe, now I am eagerly awaiting the reprint from VG. I am a sucker for trick taking games and this is unique and challenging.

Fresh Fish

Joe also taught me this, which I have owned for a while, but hadn't gotten around to learning. I am certainly looking forward to increased plays with this, since so much of it is unique.

Power Grid: Factory Manager

My neighbor bought this and we tried it last week. Different enough to be interesting. I like these games where you have to balance the various good and bad stuff.

Brass: Lancashire

I look forward to trying this again. Mainly because, even though I was playing against to experienced players we got a couple of rules wrong. Although we caught them, the damage had already been done. Still an enjoyable experience.

Dogfight

A thrift store find from a while back. Fun little game with planes.

Screaming Eagles

Another plane game, but not as fun as the one above.

Expansions

Dominion: Intrigue

Is this an expansion or a base game? Either way it added quite a bit and I like the cards that give you several options. Versatility is a good thing to have in this game.

Small World: Cursed! and Small World: Grand Dames of Small World

I'm going to throw these two together, since I was introduced to both of them at the same time. My user comment for both was also the same, "Nice to have these small expansions to add some replayability."

Power Grid: Brazil/Spain & Portugal

Only played with Brazil. It seemed to drag a bit, although that certainly could have been due to my opponents. One was new to the game of Power Grid and the other is a know AP problem. It defiantly added a nice variant.
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80. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1 [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:490] [Average Rating:7.81 Unranked]
Mike Shepherd
England
Barnard Castle
County Durham
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(half a star because I know it's going to get even cooler, so giving it space to grow)

Had the first two Starter Kits for years, being meaning to work my way up to this for ages, via Combat Commander, Conflict of Heroes, and Lock and Load. Took all these and ASLSK1 to Paul's house for a day of gaming. He said let's dive right in to ASL.

5 hours of rules reading/explanations we finally placed a counter in anger, and played scenario 1: retaking Vierville.

2 hours later, we are both hooked, later that week War of Rats scenario 2 and we have used support weapons - the rules were great, and the feeling of the scenarios was (dare i say it) cinematic. Great narrative feel.

Looking forward to really getting engrossed into ASL - Gronardia here we come!!
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81. Board Game: Anima: Beyond Good and Evil [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:5606] [Average Rating:6.20 Unranked]
Alexandru Stanuta
Romania
Berceni
ILFOV
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Thanks to my buddy Laurentiu (who owns also Anima: Shadow of Omega), I have one new to me game (expansion, to be more precise) to add to this great list.

New to me in JANUARY: One expansion
Anima: Beyond Good and Evil
2 plays
 


Anima: Shadow of Omega is a "dungeon crawler" with cards, in which each players has a team of maximum 4 characters, with which they explore areas in order to complete some missions.

Anima: Beyond Good and Evil is its expansion, which can be played as a stand-alone game or combined with the base game. We had played it combined, so the only thing that we had to remove were the original missions. Because Anima: Beyond Good and Evil is as extensive as the base game, by combining them you actually double the content. The only problem is that the materials from which the cards are made differ (God knows why!) and also the expansion has white borders (comparing to the base which has black ones).

Besides this, it adds many new things and spices up a rather dull game. Here are the new items, besides new areas, characters, advantages and encounters:

- Traps: They are advantage cards which can be placed by players on any active area, in the Reset phase. If any party goes to that area, the trap triggers and it's resolved at the end of the movement phase.
- Incidents: They are advantage cards which can be played in the Reset phase and their effects last only one turn.
- Curses and Enchantments: They are encounters that stay with the player's party and are lost only if a battle is lost.
- Arcane Characters: A special type of characters. They can be recruited only if the party has already 3 characters. They are very powerful (usually with 5 combat and 5 speed).
- Crisis!: It's a mechanism included in the final missions. The players that completed their initial mission have only a number of turns (written next to the Crisis! and accounted with a d-10) in order to finish the final mission. If they don't succeed, they must face a bigger enemy in one final fight.

Verdict: (If you liked the original Anima, you will really enjoy it mixed with this expansion.)

(Picture by gh0ul. Thanks!)

February Preview: In the last day of January, we had bought A Castle for All Seasons. I can't wait to get it on the table.
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82. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:373]
Remus Rhymus
United States
Pennsylvania
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I liked Taj Mahal most as it plays in an hour, the artwork is groovy, there's quite a bit of depth, but no serious AP. It's like playing a game of chicken. Great Knizia game, up there with Ra and Tigris & Euphrates.

I also enjoyed Metropolys quite a bit. I like auction/bidding games alot and this one's unique.

Campaign Manager 2008 is lots of fun. It's shaping up to be a great lunch hour game. It seems like replayability might be an issue, though. For now, it works just fine.

Finca is pretty good. I thought my wife would like it more, but she got frustrated because she couldn't get ahead of me in points. I'd like to try it with four sometime to see the anti-hoarding mechanism in action.

Tiki Topple is not bad for a little family game. Reminds me too much of Formula Motor Racing, which is more fun.

Dominion: Seaside is great! The way these cards interact with each other really adds something to Dominion. I was not a huge fan of Intrigue, but I do appreciate some of those cards. So far, I think I like Seaside best on it's own as opposed to mixed with other Dominion sets. I felt the opposite about Intrigue. I like Intrigue better mixed with Base Dominion.

I've been playing Eat Poop You Cat in Chit Chat and it's been hilarious!

I picked up the following board game iPhone Apps in January (that are new to me):

- Love it! I tried Tichu once, and I like this alot more.

Knizia's Money! is a pretty interesting game. Not a favorite, but not bad.

Treasure Fleet is a decent little iPhone app. About the same "fun level" as Money.
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83. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.32 Overall Rank:6]
David Siegel
United States
Washington
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Simply a great game. The scoring card mechanic is new to me and I absolutely love it. I love the game but worry that it won't get as much play as I'd like due to length. 9 out of 10.
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84. Board Game: Vikings [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:371]
Steve Duff
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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And the winner is...

Vikings
Preliminary rating: 9

No, I did not pick this up because of Jack. It's been on my "to buy" list for two years, and the price was excellent in January so I picked it up.

Lots to like here, building up your own personal area is always a hit with us, some physical tile laying conundrums to solve so as to get the best use out of what you've bought, as well as what you need to get in the future. The rotating changing price mechanism is awesomely cool.

I really liked this game a lot, we just played the simple version so far. Deb and I aren't huge on auction games, so I can see us playing the advanced version with everything except the bidding next time.

caravan caravan caravan

Zahltag
Preliminary rating: 7

I sought this game out for several reasons. First of all, it's got very clever cartoon graphics. I love the details like the bear's cage needs repairing, the plane that flew into a house, etc.

Secondly, it's a little known Franz-Benno Delonge design, that has a very cool, highly thematic bidding on contracts mechanic, namely the low bidder wins. So, you want to bid high so as to collect more money, but if you bid too high, the other person wins the contract. Lots of nice mind games and positioning moments, as big profits can be made if your opponent doesn't have the proper components on hand in order to bid.

Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper
Preliminary rating: 7

Fun rummy game, the headliner amongst all the advanced rummy games now available. I liked the rule that makes the Ripper suit worth more, and the way only one alibi card can be in play which causes you to jockey back and forth with your opponent for the suit you want the Ripper to be.

Unfortunately, at it's heart, it's still rummy, and my wife will kill me every time at it. But much much better than just playing normal rummy with a standard deck of cards.

Sumeria
Preliminary rating: 7

A very tactical area control game where you jockey back and forth in various provinces, getting the ones you have a majority in towards the top of the scoring ladder, and hopefully sending the ones your opponent leads in to the bottom.

Neat round mechanism shuffles the scoring ladder, so that those provinces at the top automatically become the worst, so that you can't continually exploit your current majorities, you'll need to come up with new ones.

caravan caravan caravan

Roma
Preliminary rating: 6.5

"Take that" dice rolling card playing game. Get a good combo of cards down on the table to fit well with your dice rolling, and rake in the points.

Deb won with her Forums, which are very strong. We were playing with the "fix" to the Mercator, which I think I would actually not use next time. The fix actually prevented me from catching up to Deb's Forums, by limiting what points I could grab from her.

This game perfectly demonstrates the evils of multi-lingual publishing, the icons are inscrutable. We spent the entire game passing the manual back and forth to try and figure out what we were holding.

caravan caravan caravan

Pandemic: On the Brink
Preliminary rating: 8


We're huge Pandemic fans, and our secret santa was nice enough to include this in our Christmas package. It had been a while since we've played, so it was nice to get it back to the table.

The new roles are great, and the new disease variants add some neat touches to the game. I'd say the new roles are my favourite part, as it's nice to be able to play 2 or 3 times in a row and not have mostly the same roles in play.
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85. Board Game: BasketBoss [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:3554]
Arden Nelson Jr.
United States
Ohio
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BasketBoss

Lately, I haven't been as big of a fan of auction games. This seems to be a bit of an exception to that "rule." I played this with the "Tweens" at church. In other words, the 10-12 year olds and the other volunteers. We had to double up the players as in two people controlled one team. I had fun though my team was last or next to last out of five teams.



Mission: Red Planet

I missed a couple of pretty critical rules. I did fine but it really isn't my style of game. It does improve on the overall Citadels mechanic and I could see owning both. However, while I enjoyed the game I won't be clamoring to play it again.
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86. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:637]

Greer
South Carolina
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Woo, page four! If you're reading this, then thank you for your perseverance. I will try to make it worth your while.

January has been my best month EVAR, as far as games played goes, but that's due in part to two things: firstly, I attended the Atlanta Game Fest the last weekend in January, and had four straight days of back-to-back gaming; secondly, I wound up playing an uber-light game fourteen times this month, because the game typically lasts less than a minute, and it's a fun way to determine the start player in games that don't have a specified start-player rule. I'll take what I can get, though, and hope that by the end of the year, I will have broken lots of personal records with my statistics. Because that's the most important thing about playing games, right? The statistics? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Anyway, this has been the first month in a long time where I've had a hard time picking a best "New to Me" game, because I played two very, very good new games in January. Consider the first two games on the list as my tied entries.

NEW GAMES

Container thumbsup thumbsup



I ran a Geeklist auction this month to purge a lot of deadweight from my collection, and one of the games I put up was Container. It was a game I bought on sale, and had a mild interest in playing, but I knew it was a tight economic game with a lot of depth, and I was intimidated with learning it well enough to teach it to other players. I figured that was something that I might never be able to do, so I decided to part with it. Then, during the convention, a friend of mine wanted to play it. I quickly saw that this was a tight game of making and managing money, and the closed financial system intrigued me a great deal. I made a few high bids during my first game to get some goods I needed, and essentially gave the game to one player, but I enjoyed the game. A LOT. Later, we played a second game, and in that one, the game became a lot tighter, as the goods were selling for more and we were spending more money for warehouses and factories. It played out very, very differently from the first one, and I realized that I was going to have to re-buy the game so I could have a copy for myself. In fact, in my second game, I made a very bone-headed move by bidding all of my money (which was already a bit limited) for a shipment of goods, when I had (a) no goods in my factory store, (b) no goods in my harbor store, (c) no goods on my ship, and (d) two loans. In effect, I had no money, no way to make money, and had to pay $2 for every turn left in the game or lose two containers from my island. Despite this stupid play, I only lost two containers, and I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Anyone want to trade me their copy?

Endeavor :thumbsbup: thumbsup



I knew there was a lot of buzz about this game leading up to its release, but most of the comments seemed to talk about how the game borrowed a lot from other games, but put them together in a new way. At the time (and still, to be honest), I figured that I already had the games that had the original mechanisms, which I already enjoyed and would likely prefer to play, and I wrote off the game as Yet Another Euro™. Then, a friend of mine talked about how much he liked it, and I figured I should at least give it a try. The convention allowed me to do so, and I'm really glad I did. After my first play, I knew there was something in the game that intrigued me, but it didn't really wow me enough to want to get a copy right away. Later in the convention, we played a second game, and in that game, there was much more battling going on with replacing other people's tokens on the board, and it really made my opinion of the game improve. In short, the game DOES borrow a lot from other games, and while it IS possible to play the game without a lot of direct confrontation, but the game probably needs to be played that way in order for it to reach its potential. Of course, the game could have wowed me because I had little to no expectations for it leading up to the game, but regardless, I left the convention with a copy of my own.

Ra: The Dice Game thumbsup



Probably the most amazing thing about this game is the way that Knizia took the base game of Ra and distilled it down to essentially the exact same game, but using dice instead of drawing random tiles. There are some aspects of the game that are lost in translation -- larger lots of different things; the ability to control when you choose to end the draw; the whole bidding mechanism, which can be used as an offensive defense -- but overall, the stuff that you can get on a roll of the dice equate quite well to what you would normally draw from the tile bag. Yes, it's possible to not roll a single civ during an entire epoch, and yes, that can be frustrating, but it's also possible that you may never draw a single civ tile out of the bag during one epoch in Ra. It's pretty remarkable, overall, and the few interesting aspects of Ra that are removed from this version of the game are replaced with the ways that you can use the colored dice to place pieces on the board. I want to play this one a lot more, and see if it's going to replace Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age as my go-to dice filler.

Dice Town thumbsup



I enjoy dice games. There's something almost primal about throwing the bones and seeing what kind of results you get. I also like games where the players are doing things simultaneously, because I like the tension that comes from trying to anticipate what someone else is going to do, and hoping to out-think them (hello, Race for the Galaxy). As such, I really enjoy Dice Town, since it combines both characteristics into one game. It's a very light game, which isn't bad, but combined with the length of time it takes to play and the price point on it, some folks might feel like the game is missing something. It does tend to run a bit long for what it is, and the turns seem to be very same-y, but overall I like the design, and think that I will play it pretty often. We'll see if that turns out to be true.

Tindahan thumbsup



Being a trick-taking fan, I was curious about this game when I first heard about it through Michael Mindes' blog. I found that a friend of mine, who would be at the convention, had ordered a copy, so we made plans to try it out. Then, I remembered that his previously published game had sold out in about 3 microseconds, so I decided to jump on ordering a copy for myself. I'm glad I did, because this is a trick-taking game that not only is fun to play and tricky with its own little quirks, but it also is unlike any of the other trick-taking games in my collection. Players score points from their tricks, as usual, but they also score points by selling fruits at the market. So, instead of just collecting tricks, players also want to have a majority on certain fruits in the market. The weirdness comes from the way that players can choose to sell their fruits. If a particular fruit (suit) is led, then players following the leader may choose to play a cube to the market instead of following suit, whether or not they have that particular suit in hand. Of course, to do so, that player would also have to pass on playing a card to the trick, and the round ends when one player plays his last card, and cards left in hand score negative points. In addition, the player starting a trick may choose to change the trump suit for that trick, also at the cost of not playing a card, thus guaranteeing that a player can't change trump and win a trick on the same turn. There's a balancing point where you want to collect tricks AND have majorities in the markets, as the game proved, and it took us a while to figure out where that balance was, but it was fun getting there. The only downside to the game is the poor choice for the graphic art. While the cards can be easily distinguished by suit, the market cards were very alike, and it was sometimes hard to determine which market went with which card. My copy will be getting marked up at some point to make it easier to play.

Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation thumbsup



I bought this game on a whim (as I buy most of my games) a few months back, but had a difficult time figuring out how to play the game by either (a) reading the rules, or (b) setting up a mock game to play through a few turns. It just seemed ridiculously fiddly and unintuitive, and I figured what I needed to do was find someone to teach me the rules. Luckily, that happened at the convention, as I saw a copy and found its owner! I'm glad I did, because I like the way the game plays out. There's some weirdness here that makes the game a little strange, and may possibly detract from my enjoyment of the game (it seems to be more tactical than strategic, and the card draw may dictate too much who wins the game), but I like the narrative of the game, and the different options players get from the cards makes for an interesting game. Given that it's import only, and sometimes hard to find in stores, though, I'm glad to have a copy in my collection. Now, I just need to get it played.

Colosseum thumbsup

 


So, here's a weird thing: When I went to write up my game comments about Colosseum, I rated it a 5, and started writing up what I didn't really like about it. As I wrote everything, and as I thought more about the game, the more I realized that what I didn't like about the game was actually what made the game interesting to me. For one, it breaks the idea of cumulative scores, since you're constantly working toward the best event you can put on. It's hard to break the idea that you need to continually work toward bigger and better events each turn, but that's not always the best tactic. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think that the best strategy is to hold one of your small events back, and use it to give you one turn to get what you need for the big honkin' event on your fifth turn. Re-using events during this time seems to be the best tactic to use at this time. In fact, a concern I had after the game -- that it was too easy for the rich to get richer from turn to turn -- turned out to be wrong, since the people who were in the lead at the start of the game wound up coming in second and third to the guy who was in last place going into turn 5. It's interesting, and unique, and now I regret that I didn't get it when it went on sale early last year.

Tumblin-Dice Jr. thumbsup



I don't think this is a perfect game for everyone. It's very dependent on the luck of the dice, since rolling a 4 on the x2 level is much better than rolling a 1 on the x4 level, and I don't think there's enough control over the flicking of the dice to dictate how the die lands, though I do think it's possible to put a little English in your flick. If you can overlook those potential shortcomings, though, then you'll likely find a fun, short little game. In fact, you could play a best-of-three tournament-style game in less than 15 minutes. For folks interested in the game, they might be better served by holding out for the bigger version of the game, but for just around $20, this was definitely an affordable way to take a chance on the game. Plus, if you get some smaller dice, you might even be able to make it into a 4-player game on the Junior board, anyway.

Mmm ... Brains! thumbsup



Twilight Games get short shrift around here, which makes perfect sense when you think about it. They're not really creating games that appeal to our demographic; they're going more for people who are looking to take a break from an RPG or a video game. Still, they're enlisting Knizia to design some games for their line, and while I haven't played Zombiegeddon yet, Mmm ... Brains! is an interesting dice game. It has some choices to make (purely tactical, but still...), and it even has some confrontational interaction in the second half of the game. Also, while there isn't a whole lot to do while one player takes his turn, the game has an automatic timer built in so that the game doesn't go on forever and a day, and the turns go very quickly. The whole game takes less than 15 minutes, which is even better, when you consider that the game also has Dreaded Player Elimination™. It's quick, it's straightforward, and it's engaging (well, as engaging as most dice games can be), but if you're a fan of dice games, and want something that falls into those three categories, then give this little game a try.

Tulipmania 1637 thumbsup thumbsdown



I realized a few months ago that I don't like games that force players to remember particular oddities in the rules, instead of somehow incorporating them naturally into the game. What made me realize this was Dungeon Lords, with its turn action track, which told players exactly what to do on each turn of the game by moving the marker along. This is also evident in Space Alert, one of Vlaada's other games, and The Pillars of the Earth, which tracks the order of the actions on the board. I think more games should incorporate this, but sadly, not very many do. I was reminded of this during Tulipmania, because there's a rule in the game that a player can't buy a tulip of the same color that he sells on that turn. The rule makes sense, and I don't argue its validity; I just wish there were a way it could be tracked on the board somehow, because it's up to the players to remember this rule otherwise. I even think it could be as simple as having slots for each color tulip on the board, which is refreshed at the start of each turn. When a player first puts his own tulip up for sale, he removes that color from the board as he puts his own up for auction. Then, when it comes time to buy a tulip, he picks from what's left on the board. It's still a little fiddly, but at least there's a visual reminder of what's left to purchase at the end of his turn. Otherwise, though, the game is very odd, but not necessarily in a bad way. This is a unique market, one that I haven't seen in a previous game, so it was difficult for me to understand how to manipulate it. Toward the end of the game, I started to figure it out, but much of the game was me trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. I think the design is interesting, but I will definitely need to play it again before I pass much judgment on it.

Imperial 2030 thumbsup thumbsdown



I've been a little wishy-washy with what I think about Imperial (I respect the design, I'm just not sure I really like the experience), and unfortunately, I feel about the same with Imperial 2030. I can't recall enough about the original game to really get how the two compare, but I do know that there are more neutral areas on this map than there are on Imperial, which, to me, sort of loosens up the game a bit. It seems like it would be a little too easy now to fill in all the areas and make a quick jump for the end of the game, but maybe I don't understand the implications of all the moves. Also, the narrative and flow of the game seems to be nearly identical to Imperial, making this more like an expansion or variant map to me. To be fair, I only played a 2-player game of Imperial 2030, and it seems like that's really not the best way to play the game. It works, no doubt, but starting the game off with three countries means you can push one country out into the lead, while using the other two countries as a buffer. It's an OK game, certainly, but nothing that really wows me.

Homesteaders thumbsup thumbsdown



When I was at BGG.con, I saw this game on display from Tasty Minstrel, and figured it was one of the typical small-publisher games, meaning that it was probably a good effort at a game, but likely wouldn't meet my expectations for what I wanted in a game. But a friend of mine at the convention wanted to play it, so we brought it out and set it up. As we were setting up, I thought it was a print-and-play game because the production quality was so poor. For one, the main board seems to be thinner than cardboard, which was funny since the game has a remarkable number of thick cardboard tiles and chits, and a lot of the double-sided printing was offset to the point of making one side illegible. It turned out that the game was a fully-produced, published game, and as we got to playing it, I realized that it was very much a Euro style game. Like Endeavor, it borrows heavily from other games of its type, making it Yet Another Euro™ for me. I think the game offers much more than the publisher and production might suggest, but it doesn't bring enough new concepts to the design to make it my kind of game. For one, my expectations were low to nonexistent for the game, but I didn't come out on the other side of the game thinking it had overly impressed me; for another, when I thought of all the new games I had played at the convention, this one didn't even come to mind until I went over my notes. That's never a good sign for me.

Merchants of the Middle Ages thumbsup thumbsdown

 


I bought this game on eBay a couple of years ago, based on the fact that the game was described as a very good pick-up-and-deliver game. Being an Age of Steam nut, these types of games appeal to me, so I figured it was worth trying to find a copy. I saw a copy of the game at the convention and got someone to teach it to me, and I realized very quickly that the pick-up-and-deliver aspect of the game was just a minor part of what is really a negotiation game, and I'm not really thrilled with negotiation games. I think the design is fair, with some interesting decisions to make, but this won't ever be a "must play" game for me. I can respect the design, but I can't bring myself to like it. Due to its scarcity, I'll hang on to it and give it at least one more try before deciding what to do with it, but I don't have a lot of hope for it.

If Wishes Were Fishes! thumbsdown



OK, first of all, what the HELL is with this theme? It makes absolutely no sense (why would a fish every wish to be sold at a marketplace?), and to even come around to adding that sort of theme back to the game boggles my mind. Besides, it seems to give the impression that this will be a game for kids, and the rules are too fiddly for children. Secondly, the worms are somewhat disturbing, though I couldn't tell you exactly why. Lastly, the game plays strangely, since the cards you take into your boat are essentially goods cards, but in order to do anything with them, you have to take cards from the ocean. It's weird, but reminiscent in some ways of games like R-Eco or Traders of Osaka. Still, the game seems to lack a lot of control, since it's not totally uncommon to have three crappy cards in your turn, take one, and then see the one card that the next player needs come up as a replacement. It winds up being strictly a tactical game, but the choices get more and more limited as the game progresses, and then it seems to come down to the luck of the draw. There are still choices to make, and it's possible to have to stop and think about which one you really want to take, but it seems like the game is too much out of your control for a strategy game.

Le Boomb! thumbsdown



As a game, Le Boomb! is stoopid. I mean, let's face it: This is LCR dressed up as one die with a funny theme, and published by Mayfair Games. You roll a die, and hope that you don't get stuck with the bomb before someone rolls the SPLOOIE side. On the bright side, if you're looking for a way to pick the start player without having to resort to rock-paper-scissors, a 5-minute game like Le Boomb! is a fun way to do it, and it gets to count as a game played in your statistics. What's better than that, hey?


NEW EXPANSIONS

Agricola: Farmers of the Moor thumbsup



As I've said many times in the past, my favorite expansions are the ones that offer new ways to play the base game, without taking away too much of what made the base game so much fun to play. Farmers of the Moor does just that, and even manages to tighten up some aspects of the game to make it a more painful experience, which I always enjoy. At first, I thought that the forests and moors would make it too easy to avoid negative points at the end of the game, but it turned out that those spaces were intended to be removed at some point, effectively forcing players to take two different turns to fill in those spaces, if they wound up needing the goods those tiles provided. I liked the way that the action cards effectively gave players opportunities to take extra actions during the game, especially since taking an action that would benefit you some could benefit you even more if someone else needed it, too, and would pay you two food for the card. I would say that needing fuel also ramps up the tension, but I managed to play a card early that allowed me to never have to pay fuel, so I don't know how difficult that might be. We did discover that players would need to find some way to reduce their fuel costs during the game, since just harvesting the moors wouldn't be enough for the entire game, even for the smallest house. So, it's a good addition to the game, and I look forward to trying it again.

Pandemic: On the Brink thumbsup



I haven't played all of the modules in this expansion yet. In fact, I only played two of the small variants here; I played the Virulent Strain and Mutation variants in the same game. There seem to be a lot of cards and options in this expansion, so is it fair to go ahead and talk about the whole thing? Meh. Anyway, they were fun, and cranked in the screws for an already tight game. I liked the way that the Virulent Strain cards added a little more variety to the way the game played out, but I can't recall how many different ones there are, and I wonder if, over time, those might become a bit repetitive. With Leacock and Lehmann working their magic, though, I expect that they'll just add more flavor to an otherwise fun game. The Mutation variant wasn't as harsh as I thought it would be, but it did essentially make the game last much longer, since the players now have one more disease to cure to win the game. In the game where I played with both of these variants, that made a big difference, since we lost the game when the player deck ran out, when we were one turn away from curing the last disease. So, well played, Pandemic. Well played.

Big Obnoxious Terrible Spaces thumbsup

 


How much you like this expansion will probably depend on how much you like pain in your games. If you're the sort of player who likes a little more tension in Age of Steam, or if you found more to enjoy in the tight confines of Blokus Duo than in Blokus, or if you think that the mind-bending alternative of Neue Wege, Neue Ziele offers more of an interesting gameplay experience than Keltis, then BOTS should be to your tastes. The rewards are huge, if you can get them (the single boards will offer you the potential to score more points than an entire game on the standard boards), but manipulating the boards to get those rewards is a tricky endeavor, indeed. This is the first of Ted's expansions that I've played, and I look forward to trying the others, but I imagine that this is the one set of boards I'll favor in the future.

Galaxy Trucker: The Big Expansion thumbsup thumbsdown



I didn't play Galaxy Trucker at all in 2009, and to be honest, I didn't miss it that much. The ship-building part of the game is kind of fun, and dodging the destruction of space is interesting, too, but I tend to get frustrated with the game. I think what happens is that if you're not in the front of the line with the proper protections, then there's pretty much no way for you to win the game. I like to take my time to build an effective ship, but by that time, I'm in the back of the line, and there's no way I can reap the rewards of abandoned ships, slavers, pirates, etc., etc., etc. I'm starting to wonder if I like the game as much as I first thought, but I might be too hung up on actually winning. Though, I think my primary frustration is that if you take the time to build a good ship, there's little reward for it.

Why do I bring this up now? Because the expansion is kind of a "more of the same" expansion, at least with the A ships and the extra tiles. That's not necessarily a bad thing (folks who liked the base experience are sure to like the expanded one), but it doesn't change the basic flow of the game to make it a different experience. Of course, this means it's a good expansion according to my criteria, since it doesn't change things up too much, but I wonder if the game itself is enough for me to enjoy. Right now, I think it will take another play or two to really see what I think.
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87. Board Game: Homesteaders [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:609]
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Apex
North Carolina
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REALLY enjoyed the game despite coming in so far in last place I had half the points of the 2nd place player (in a 3 player game no less).

Enjoyed the economic engine, the auction mechanic was quick and simple. A game can be played quickly (~90 minutes) after the first play and ... best of all ... cows that sometimes get up to no good...
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88. Board Game: Endeavor [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:246]
Michael Christie
Australia
Eastwood
NSW
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It wasn't until late January that I played any new games, but then I went to the 2010 Australian Games Expo in Canberra (aka CANCON). I had read enough good reports about Endeavor around here to be interested in it, and then me and my friend arranged for a two-player "how to play" session at the Games Paradise demo area, which quickly became a 5-player game. And although we got a few things wrong, it proved to be an excellent game. So I bought it. thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup

While visiting some good friends in Canberra during the Expo, we wanted to play a game while one of my friends was cooking dinner. We played Zooloretto because a) it could fit on the kitchen bench, and b) my friend's 4-year old daughter could get involved (she likes the baby animals. ). Besides those reasons, it's a good game that's also quick to play. thumbsupthumbsup

After dinner, with more time available we played Talisman (Revised 4th Edition) until quite late. I had played the original game back in its heyday, and this version had some new tweaks (Fate points, etc). Still a bit long and too random for me to play regularly, but it was a good evening. thumbsup
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89. Board Game: Municipium [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:2566]
 
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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January 2010 was a great month for new games for me. This was in part due to Cancon and in part due to trying out friend's Christmas presents.

Municipium
 

Only one play but it played very, very well. Lots of options and a some very nice components. This game is well worth a try if you get the chance.

Chaos in the Old World

Also only one play, but very enjoyable. The different chaos powers were all rather fun. High qulaity miniatures and a good flow of play. The map is abit ocnfusing with colours that are too similar, but apart from that no complaints. Would play again!

Farmer of the Moor

Only one play of this expansion so far. The horse pieces are rather fun and the options that the expansion gives add to the Agricola experience. A little fiddly, but worth the effort.

Space Hulk

Copyright issues aside, this is a good silly game. The miniatures, board and other components are very good quality and the game plays very well. Five plays and five losses and I'm still keen!

Railroad Tycoon

I'm not ahuge train gamer, but this was quite good. It will take a few plays to get across this but may be worth the effort.

Chinatown

A reasonable game. Not one for anyone who dislikes negotiation or requires structured negotiation.

Thurn and Taxis

Not a terrible game, but not the greatest game I have played either. The theme is, to my mind, less than exciting.

Space Alert

Three plays and that's about it for me with Space Alert. Really more a problem solving game with no chance to react and respond. Some fun mechanics but too much like Robo Rally (lay out your moves and execute them regardless of how useful or otherwise they may be) for my tastes.


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90. Board Game: Dominion: Intrigue [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:64] [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked]
Brad Klein
United States
Minnetonka
Minnesota
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I played Dominion for the first time New Year's Eve and enjoyed it. This month we played one game solely with Intrigue and then two games with Intrigue and the base game mixed randomly (although the random draw had more Intrigue Kingdom cards than from the base game). Compared to the base game, Intrigue seemed to slow the game down a bit by adding complexity. I noted numerous times where we had to wait while the last person to play shuffled there discard pile to determine what card was on top of their draw deck. I did like the mixed purpose cards (Duke and Harem, for example). Overall I liked it, but at this point I slightly prefer the base game. The expansion seems like a good idea for people who think the base game is too light. The Kingdom cards we used from Intrigue allowed some actions on another player's draw deck, but didn’t seem to increase the interaction much.

Other new games:

Circus Flohcati - This is the first game we got with our kids in mind, hoping they could play it in a couple years. I was also hopeful this would be a decent filler for adults. I’ll have to wait for the former, but as far as a filler, it was an enjoyable game. Quick, a bit of ”press your luck”, and a bit of “take that” fit what I was looking for in a filler.

Diamant – This is another game I was interested in to fit a need. We needed a game that we could play with a larger number of players than most of our games (which mostly max out at 4 or 5). Also, if it was fairly accessible to non-gamers that was a bonus. This also proved to be an enjoyable filler. It plays quickly and is easy to learn. It’s pretty light, but the artifacts add a bit of strategy while making guessing who is staying and who is leaving more interesting. Not a fan of the tents shake.


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91. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:122]
Sean Todd
United States
Bloomington
Minnesota
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I tried Hansa Teutonica at January's Mpls Boardgame madness. We played two games in a row with the same group, then two others wanted to learn and it didn't take much arm-twisting to get me to be the fourth player in that game and the third player in the next. It moved right to the top of my want list. The length of play was just right for the weight. Every game, I just wanted to start up again and try a different strategy. I hope to get a couple dozen plays of this in the coming year. I'm sure this will end up in my top 10 and I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up in my top 5. Tentatively a 9.


It was good to get my first play of TS in this month. We were both playing our first game. I'm afraid I got the benefit of some luck, I was able to play Red Scare/Purge twice as a headline event and the reduced OPS really set my opponent back. Another potential top 10 contender and currently a 8-9 after 1 play.


Dungeon Lords arrived this weekend and I got a game in with my three sons. Dad came in last with sons 13, 9, and 6 all at least achieving double-digits (I scored 4 points). Great game and I look forward to bringing it to next month's Madness. I don't know where this will end up, but I'm thinking it's a 8-9 eventually.


This was another game I got to try at January's madness. Very fun and a small footprint for a gamer's game. I'd certainly try it again. I really liked the way you could somewhat control how everyone else scored their loot. I hesitate to rate this one so early, but a tentative 7 seems about right.


I also played Thebes at the madness and enjoyed it, although I think it would play better with some of my nongamer friends as a gateway than it does with gamers. This is not a game to spend a great deal of time planning your moves, but I would bet nongamers would get a kick out of the digging for tiles in the cloth bags. No more than a 5-6 as a gamer's game, but possibly a 7+ as a gateway.


This one was an interesting abstract / wargame hybrid. Fast enough to play several times in an evening. I will probably look into acquiring this one.


Just remembered to add Glory to Rome, although to be honest I probably forgot because the game wasn't very memorable. It was okay, but I consider RftG to be strictly superior. Probably a 5-6. I would play it again if RftG was unavailable, but otherwise no.


The expansion to Pandemic also arrived this weekend (my xmas presents were on hold with Dungeon Lords' shipping delay). We've only tried the new roles so far, but those alone are a terrific addition to the base game.

Edit to add Glory to Rome.
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92. Board Game: Pandemic: On the Brink [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
Joe Ritter
United States
Westfield
New Jersey
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My only 'new' game this month was an expansion. Luckily, that expansion was Pandemic: On the Brink, which I'd say ranks up there with any new 'full' game I've played. After reading through the various options, we tried out the mutation scenario with the new roles and new special event cards. It seemed a little fiddly at first (but that may have been due to me not having played the base game in about a year and rushing to get up and running so we could play). In any event, what a great expansion. So, many options to either mix up the base game a little (new roles/special events) or really change the game around a bit (bio-terrorist, mutations, etc.). It was a really intense session. Although, I screwed up the rules, thought we won, but realized after we had torn everything down that we had actually lost. Looking forward to playing the other "scenarios". The other 'bonus' is all of the bits and pieces (e.g., new cards, petri dishes for the viruses, etc.). Z-man did a really nice job on this. My only complaint is that the new role cards are kind of easy to pick out as the coloring is slightly off (but who cares - you want to play with the new roles anyway).

2 new games down from my Christmas haul, 2 to go (hopefully, I can get the Kingsburg or Race for the Galaxy Expansion in this month).
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93. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
Tom Patterson
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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It's the only new game I played.

Seriously, it was aborted attempt, but a good learning experience. I'm giving it another go later this week. Maybe I can finally start using this icon: goo
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94. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:303]
John N.
United States
Lehi
Utah
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THE BEST OF THE BUNCH

Kingsburg - 3 Plays

This is hands down the best new game to me played this month. Probably the best new game to me since Stone Age or Small World. It has everything I like in a game. I am sure by the middle of next month I will break out the Expansion and include that when I play it.

FITS - 2 Plays

I really enjoyed FITS. We played it as a pickup game while my brother-in-laws played a 150 minutes game of Stone Age (Yeah you heard me right). Everyone enjoyed it. It gets frustrating (just like Tetris) but I will happily play this game any time


The Fun Little Party Game

Eat Poop You Cat - 3 Plays


Everyone enjoyed this. We played it with people my age and in one of the games we even let a 10 year old play with us. We all laughed so hard. We got edgy, but not too edgy (except when playing with the 10 year old when we kept it clean) and it just worked. This will get played a lot.


The OK fillers

Mexican Train - 5 plays


I will play this game when neighbours are over, as they like it. That is all I can really say about a dominoes game. It fills in some time and we can chat while playing.

Scrabble Slam! - 2 Plays

This is one if we just want to be loud and frantic for 10 minutes. Not a bad waste of time and cheap enough to not worry about the money spent on it. Fun. I like words though. Loudest person wins!


Archaeology: The Card Game - 1 play

Got this for Christmas from my buddy, and we played it at work one lunchtime. I like this as a lunchtime time filler game. It was a lot of fun. Definitely the best of the fillers we played this month.


The kind of dissappointing game that everyone seems to LOVE

Dominion - 2 Plays


So I bought this game to learn it and explain it to my neighbour who bought it or christmas and coulnd;t get his head around it. I also thought my wife and I woudl play it enough to justify it. After 2 plays I thought it was simply OK but my wife disliked it enough to say she probably will not play this again. I will get it out to teach to new poeple if the wife isn't there. This shouldn't get the plays that everyone else seems to get from it.



One for my son to play with me

Sequence for Kids - 1 Play


So we play Sequence a little and this seemed liek a good gateway to more advanced game for my 5 year old. He liked it but seemed to just like to play the last card he got, rather than really goign for his Sequences. I want to continue to play this and see if he can get what this game really is about.



Month roundup

Quite a strong month for new games. I would like to maintain about 2 new games a month for the rest of the year, but this is a very good start to the year. Played some fun games that will get a lot of plays in the future.
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95. Board Game: Bananagrams [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:1665] [Average Rating:6.36 Unranked]
A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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This month didn't reveal many new games for me and my crew (family), but did find a couple of real winners.



First, Bananagrams. I pretty much avoid word games (although I tolerate UpWords). However, this game is just really fun. It frantic because you're racing against everyone else at the table. But it's whispy cool because you can build any combination of words that fit your mood. Bad draws (like any word game) can ruin your chances of victory. Still, I enjoy forming odd combination of words with difficult letter stacks. It's at the top of words games for me.



Second, PitchCar. Joyous game of finger flicking fun. Better with more players, but it's even good with as few as two. What really made it for me was my mother-in-law (age 84) beat the pants off me and my wife. That was a wonderful time!



Third, Piece o' Cake. Tasty components serve up a rich feast of fun. There's a bit of strategy too. It is fairly mindless and fast - so just what I was looking for. It is a bit cut throat at times and a touch mathy. Not sure if it will last much longer in my collection. Just not a good place for it.
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96. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:36]
Patiently waiting for the zombie apocalypse...
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization = d10-1d10-0





Through the Ages is the best game new game for me this month. I received this as a Christmas gift, thanks sis, and I played the Simple game during Christmas and thought mee... The last weekend of January I had the opprotunity to play the Advanced game and I really really enjoyed it. The game is worth the hype and high ranking. It is very deep game play, which I look for in a game. I will admit it is quite long and you need to reserve at least three to four hours to play. The time spent may improve as we get better at playing the game, but the play is well worth the time invested. I highly recommend.

Power Grid: Factory Manager = d10-1d10-0



Factory Manager is a very close second. The tough decisions that need to be made constantly and the short game time are all bonuses. My wife and I played three games back to back when we first learned how to play. Currently, I feel Factory Manager is more enjoyable then Power Grid. If you have yet to try, I encourage your try playing Factory Manager. Great game!

Carson City = d10-9

 


Carson City is great fun and another Essen titles that has impressed me from the day I learned about it. After playing, this game is brutal and has tremendous conflict. I can see why pure Euro-gamers will struggle with the dueling. This game encourages awesome Western one-liners. Best part of this game is the game really reflects the theme.

Vasco da Gama = d10-8



Vasco da Gama is a beautiful game. The artwork is down right awesome. As for the game play, I enjoyed. It needs more table time and I foresee this getting just that. The turn order mechanic is fresh and quite agonizing to think out. VdG encourages planing. I can see a limited paths to VP's might be a detractor in the long run. Nonetheless, I like and glad I purchased.

At the Gates of Loyang = d10-7



At the Gate of Loyang is the lightest of the three Rosenberg's Harvest trilogy. I also find it the weakest. The turn order mechanic seems to be a step backward from the fairly fast plays of Le Havre and Agricola. I suspect this will become a GREAT two player game, but what needs to be done over the course of the game, does not make me want to pull this out with more then two. To long for the game play. Maybe more plays will change my mind. I like, but didn't blow me away.
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97. Board Game: Loot [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:1814]
United States
Portland
Oregon
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I found this game for a buck at a consignment store and introduced it to my group while waiting for everyone to gather. We love it and here are some reasons why:
1. Very easy to teach and fast to learn.
2. Short play time (can get a couple games in specially waiting for Mr. Pokey)
3. Has some decent interaction and table talk lends itself naturally (especially with the "..talk your friends into forfeiture cause they have no chance of winning" victory condition.)
4. Cause it was cheap

If I don't bring this every time now they reach for the rope. zombie

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98. Board Game: Vasco da Gama [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:537]
Joe Geerkin
United States
Eden
New York
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Vasco da Gama is a fresh twist on worker placement. Played it twice and so far I love it.

The Board Game Geek Game- I didn't really want to play it; thought it was going to be all theme, no game. Now I'm glad that I did. It's very good.

The World Cup Game- I have no interest in Soccer but I still had a good time playing.

Pony Express- I like Dicetown better but I still thought Pony Express was fun.

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99. Board Game: Runewars [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:190]
 
Brett Burgess
United States
Kansas City
Missouri
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Runewars is my favorite new game this month and it could end up being my favorite new game from 2010. I am a big fan of Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition, but the only problem with TI3 is the amount of time it takes to play. Runewars shares many game mechanics with TI3 and is a big, epic game like TI3, but thankfully it doesn't take as long to play.

The components of this game are excellent. I really like the hex-based game board and the fact that the board is different every time you play the game. I also like the fact that there are 4 completely different races in the game. The player mats, units, and other components for each race are of very high quality and really enhance the atmosphere of the game.

The design of the order cards and how you are given incentive to play the orders cards in ascending order is well done as it allows the player to do things out of order if they wish but if they do so they will not get the full effect of all the orders given. Other game mechanics that I like are the use of fate cards instead of dice, the use of season cards which are played each turn and cause random events to occur (which can really mess up a player's strategy), and how you must have enough food (provided by specific areas you control) to support your army through the winter (which helps to prevent players from building up huge armies unless have enough areas under their control to support them).
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100. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:122]
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
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Man, what a great gaming month January was. There was a "best," but it was close, and there are not one, not two, but three runner-ups! All four of these games were solid 8s with high potential for 9s after a few more plays.

Best New Game:


Hansa Teutonica 8/10
A beautiful game design with a relatively pasted-on theme. It really is relatively abstract. Other than the obvious creation of trade routes, there's not much attempt to integrate theme into the mechanics. For example, the "tech" upgrades are not at all intuitive - a "book" allows you to move more pieces at a time? a "key" lets you multiply your routes by number of keys? But that really doesn't matter, because the game design itself is so well thought-out and provides so many interesting options to achieve points (but never quite enough actions in a turn to do them!). I like that there is a separate board for 2-3 players; a good indication this will scale well. The penalty for displacing other traders is a really nice and interesting feature.

There's a lot of talk about the first moves being scripted, but I don't mind that (after all, everyone knows e4 in chess, so what? ); I still think it should be played out, b/c that initial fight between 3 players is still interesting, and there are still decisions to be made by the 4th and 5th players; so starting at 3 actions would take away that part of game.

I very much like the medieval art, although it doesn't reproduce too well in photos. I love the trompe l'oeil of the escritor "desk". (shown above) A couple of nit-picks: the board had a weird glare to it that made it a bit hard to see, and I don't usually have that problem with boards at that particular gaming location, so it was definitely board-specific. It was also hard to keep track of iconography during the first play, particularly b/c the techs are not intuitive in what they do thematically. But there are few enough that after the first play you've got it down.

Bottom line, this is one of those games that sticks in your mind long after the play, causing you to wonder - what if I try this? Or that? These are the kinds of games I'm in this hobby for.


Runner Ups


Manila 8/10
I actually got two plays of this one in in January. It's a pretty straightforward betting game, yet it felt "fresh" and new to me, I don't think I've ever seen the things that this game does. There's a lot of things going on, a lot of different things to bet on. I like the tension that can occur between "temporary-yet-competing allies" - when you and someone else will both profit from a boat arriving, so you join forces to coax it in. It's absolutely beautifully produced. Very exciting game, you can feel the energy crackle every time the dice are tossed, followed by subsequent groans or cheers.



World Without End 8/10
This game gave me a similar feeling that I had in Hansa Teutonica in that there are many different options, many different potential winning strategies, yet you don't have quite enough actions in a turn. There's a painful (in a good way) "ditch 1 action card every turn" rule that was the hardest part of the game for me. (I'm the kind of player that will never discard a card in Blue Moon City b/c it might come in useful later). I also liked the event "compass" mechanism that is also tied to a separate "favor track" rondel. This session was particularly fun b/c no one had ever played, and no one knew anything about the possible event cards, so there was a great feeling of unpredictability and adventure. That combined with the level of thematic details that are nicely integrated into the mechanisms, and the multitude of strategic options, all result in this game being one of the best I played this month.



Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit 8/10
JP Decosse
Canada
Dartmouth
Nova Scotia
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had highly recommended this to me a while back, based on my ratings and collection. Otherwise I likely wouldn't have tried this, so I'm really glad he did! An exciting tactical game that feels epic in scope. Components and boards out of this world (even a 3-floor 3D palace). I loved the 4 different sub-battles going on. So many memorable moments - I was the "bad guys," and at the end my Darth Maul destroyed the two jedis and started raging through the palace. But then Anakin swooped in an deactivated the droids, just a little too early for Darth Maul to finish wiping out the palace guards and the princess. I'm ready for the rematch though!


Great New Game

Ra 7/10
The Uberplay edition is beautifully produced and was a pleasure to play. I like all the different elements going on, and the mechanic of bidding with an item that will go up for auction if it wins. One thing that concerns me with the game is that it seems if you want to do well at it, you not only have to know the tile distribution, but you have to keep track of which ones have been revealed. I don't enjoy that kind of memory element, it's too much of a "task" for me. Also, as far as auctions go, I think I prefer either a variety of auctions (such as Nefertiti) or if a single auction type, I prefer a game that is more highly themed (such as Fist of Dragonstones). But overall it's a solid game that I enjoyed and that I look forward to playing again - I just don't see it becoming one of my favorites for the above mentioned reasons.


Good New Game

Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age 7/10
I am not a fan of dice games. I don't really like the "express" line (Risk, Battleship, etc), or Yahtzee. But, this game is my favorite dice game I've played. The meat of the game is what you do with you dice results, and they were really creative with this. I also liked the resource ramp-up mechanism. The civ-building theme is enjoyable and well done. I also like the solid wood components, the whole game has an old-school classic feel to it.


OK New Games


Looting London 6/10
My second new Knizia of the month! Light card filler, perfect for rounding out an evening. Of course the characters immediately get nicknames, like MonkeyMan and Little Ani (does look a bit like Annakin I admit ). It's got a few curve balls, particularly the elimination of the last treasure and its evidence, which could hurt, and also the option of destroying evidence. These little twists are interesting enough that I think I'll suggest this one now and again.



Octego 6/10
Pretty good abstract game. I don't play much abstracts these days so it was nice to get back to one. I have to train my eyes to see "attack ranges" with abstracts, and this one was particularly tricky b/c these attack ranges can be circular. So it was a nice challenge. There are essentially two separate boards offset from each other; I didn't like the pink and gray they chose, I think black and white would've been easier to differentiate, and the connecting "rods" should've been the same color as the spaces. Those gripes aside, I would welcome more plays of this one.




Elk Fest 6/10
As a biologist I'm a sucker for games with wildlife themes like this, so going in I was a bit biased. It's a simple, clever dexterity game. Good solid wooden components. I was thinking this fits in the same category as Hive (and maybe Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age as well?) as good games to take to airports, restaurants, pubs etc.
One thing I noticed - this game certainly attracts a lot of attention when you're playing it! Everyone kept coming up and asking us about it.



 

Savannah Tails 6/10
And yet another wildlife came to pull me in... this one was even cooler for me, b/c I actually studied ostriches in the field in Kenya as a college student. I'm a big Fragor Brothers fan so I was excited to try this one out. Well, the theme was the best part. The racing gameplay was just...OK. Not bad but nothing to write home about; there are other racing games I prefer. But this will be a good game to play with the kids, in fact, I'd say it's borderline kid's game, in which case... I shouldn't rate it as I don't rate kid's games. ninja



Unpublished Prototype 6/10
I think this was my second prototype playtest ever! Probably shouldn't say anything else to be safe... ninjaninjaninjabut as one of my new-to-me games I wanted to put it on the list...


Best Kid's Game:

Gulo Gulo
Kid's dexterity game. The beauty of this game is that the kids with their tiny little fingers have a natural advantage over the adults with our big fat paws, so you don't have to handicap yourself. Colorful, nice quality components. The eggs look like chocolate-covered peanuts, so watch out!
***********************************************************************

EDIT:
I forgot another first this month - EPYC!

Eat Poop You Cat 8/10
I've been playing it on the forum here on the geek so it slipped my mind. But I'm having some friends over this weekend and plan to play it FTF for the first time.
My favorite chain my group has done so far on the forum is Hot Lava Death of which I was the first illustrator. ninja
Anyway the game is a blast, it's a variation on the telephone game but going from sentence to drawing to sentence etc.
I personally find it funniest if people try really hard to guess what the previous person had drawn/written, b/c even if they do that, the original sentence will still mutate in unexpected directions. But, some people like to go on tangents and add even more chaos, which is fun too. This is a game where it doesn't matter if you can draw worth a squat or not, it's still hilarious.
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