New to you a year ago Oct 10 => Has it stood the test of time?
Martin G
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Grimwold's new-to-you geeklists are the highlight of my month on the 'geek. They motivate me to review the new games I've played (and recycle my entries as comments), and they allow me to read the thoughts of some of the most insightful 'geeks on new and classic games.

But the new-to-me list is inevitably full of first impressions. I'm interested in hearing how those games that seemed so great at the time stood up to multiple plays. Did you actually play them that much after the first month? Did a game you dismissed at the time turn out to be better in retrospect?

Add an entry with the same game you chose for the New to you Oct 09 geeklist. Link to your entry in that geeklist, then write down your thoughts on the game you chose a year on. If your impression of some of the other games you wrote up that month have changed, let us know about that too.

It looks like the big games that month were the Pandemic: On the Brink expansion and Last Train to Wensleydale - have they stood the test of time?

I'll be starting these lists mid-month, so we don't have to keep up with this list and Grimwold's (and several other monthly ones) all at the same time. You can subscribe to the announcement thread for reminders.
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1. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:631]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Item for Geeklist "New to you Oct 09 => Best new game you played this month and why"

I think I called this month pretty well. Although I've only played Container twice since, I've found both those plays fascinating. In one of the games, one player piled all his initial money into capital assets, overpriced his factory goods and refused to budge despite them staying unsold round after round. This caused a recession from which it was quite tough to persuade the game to recover. The other time had fewer factories built than I'm used to and the game's economy felt underpowered. We kept having actions we didn't have much to do with and the game ran long as it was hard to exhaust two supplies. I probably should have sucked it up and built a 4th factory of my own, but I worried about the large investment, and the fact that one of the other players could easily shift into production themself and undercut me. As I said at the time "a really subtle game that has the players mutually creating an economy". It really is a beautiful design, with simple rules creating fascinating emergent effects. I think it'd work really well in a basic economics class.

My second placed game was On the Underground, which I went on to buy and have played 5 times since. I still really like it, though part of that is being able to play a game on a map I know so intimately. It feels a bit like an advanced Through the Desert, as you extend your various different coloured lines to connect to tempting goals and block them from others. The passenger mechanism is the cleverest part of the game, as it incentivises the players to build sensible-looking lines that connect to each other. But it can lead to a bit of AP, especially in the early stages, as players try to figure out where he will go. This has meant the game's had a mixed reaction amongst my gaming buddies, but it will continue to come out from time to time.

Of the others, The Castle of the Devil was the one I underrated the most. I've played and enjoyed it four times since, and it's become the go-to game when we end up with six players. I wrote a review after a game in which I was utterly outmanoeuvred convinced me of its merits.

I traded Wildlife Safari after one more play. Not enough going on and I felt like I'd always rather play No Thanks. I played O Zoo le Mio once more recently and it was still fine but unremarkable. I've played Kupferkessel Co. twice more - it's a decent lightweight 2p semi-memory game which I think kids would enjoy. And I haven't played Hansa again but wouldn't mind trying it with fewer players some time.
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2. Board Game: A Castle for All Seasons [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1233]

Greer
South Carolina
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Item for Geeklist "New to you Oct 09 => Best new game you played this month and why"

My pick for that month was A Castle for All Seasons, and I've played it twice more since then. I still find it to be a neat design, and it's still one of those games that I might purchase if I ever found a good deal on it. Someone else in our group owns it, though, so if I ever get an inkling to play it, I can. I'm still interested in playing this one.

I haven't played Triumvirate since last year, but that's more because I don't get as many opportunities to play 2-player games more than anything against the design itself. I still think it's a clever design, and would like to play it more.

My feelings about Bombay haven't changed. It's a solid design, and it has some interesting choices to make, but nothing about it feels spectacular. It's just another typical Euro to me.

Return of the Heroes is another one I haven't played since then. In fact, I've sold off my copy. It's interesting enough, but the repetition and the length of time it takes to play makes it a lot less interesting to me. Again, other people in the group have it if I ever decide to play it again, but it's not something I would choose to play over other games.

Neither Age of Steam: Austria nor Age of Steam: St. Lucia have been played since, but again, that's due to the limited opportunities for 2-player gaming. Plus, as I mentioned in the original entry, Age of Steam loses a lot of its appeal when you play it with just two players.
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3. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:155]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Item for Geeklist "New to you Oct 09 => Best new game you played this month and why"

Ra
I still love this game and as I have played it more I have learned all about its hidden beauties too. The only problem is I just can't make my wife see its greatness, although I really would like to play it with her.

Samurai: The Card Game
I still like this one and find it's a good game (see my review). However, while first I thought my wife is going to like this one more than Samurai

so she's going to play it more often with me, actually she still feels this game needs too much work/thinking that is just not fun enough for her.

Priests of Ra
I liked this one back then, I even wrote a review about it. My opinion hasn't really changed: some of the tension is gone, but it's good for variety. Unfortunately as my wife can't see the beauty of the structure of the original, she feels this one is the same boring game.

Hacienda
I haven't played this one since... until I joined the yucata tournament this year. Yes, I jumped in after one play only, and that one play was a year ago... so no wonder I lose.

Haven't played since but I'd love to:

Diamonds Club
Journey to the Middle of the Earth
Dungeon Lords
Rise of Empires
Colonia

Haven't played since and I don't really want to:
Cubiko
Thunderstone
Witch’s Brew
Jungle Speed
Soul Hunters
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4. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:218]
Netherlands
Enschede
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Item for Geeklist "New to you Oct 09 => Best new game you played this month and why"

Last year I said there were three games tied for best, Dungeon Lords, Stronghold, and Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, and that time would tell which one would win. Of the games listed, I still think those three are the best, so I guess this is where I decide on the winner... It will have to be Dungeon Lords, because it's the most accessible (we played 9 more times with different people). I actually like the dummy players in the 2 player version now, and think it plays well with all numbers of players. We played Through the Ages 4 more times, it is not as easy to interest others in playing, but with the full rules it's a brilliant game (I rate both a 9). As for Stronghold, we only played that twice more and both plays were in the last month or so. I guess the rules put us off a little. But it's still a good game, we printed some player aids, and decided to preorder the expansion.


Then for the other new games:
Space Hulk (third edition): Still annoyed by the fact that the figures don't fit the squares, and that the facing isn't clear (as that does matter). Only 1 more play.

2 de Mayo: we haven't play this again. Still think it's a good game, we just rarely play 2 player only games, even though a lot of our gaming is 2 player.

Ants!: no extra plays, but that's not so bad, as we don't own this one.

Doom: The Boardgame: no extra plays. another game we don't own. I still prefer Descent because of the theme.

Illusio: I don't really remember this one. no extra plays and yet another game we don't own.

Kingpin: 2 more plays. I still think it's a good game with pretty artwork. We're going to check out the expansion at Essen '10.

Krysis: 1 more play, and one more game we don't own. I enjoyed playing this again, and still think it's not a game that we need in our collection.

Longships: 1 more play, 3p this time. There was some more interaction and the game does work better with more people. The game ended quickly because of the Christianity cards, so there still wasn't a lot of fighting going on as everyone had only 2 longships.

PsychoPet: The Nutty Pet Clinic: we only played this at the fair in Essen, and none of us thought it interesting enough to buy, so no more plays for this one.

Risk: Godstorm: no more plays, but I still think it's more interesting that 'normal' risk.

SeaSim: no more plays. Ok 2 player game.

WarCraft: The Board Game: no more plays. we don't own this, and it hasn't been suggested again. I guess I'd play again with expansion and optional rules as I said a year ago, if someone else suggested it.
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5. Board Game: Ordo [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:6949]
Avri
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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I played two new to me games in October 2009, one of which has since pushed itself into my Top 10.

Ordo has become one of my favorite games, an intuitive yet constantly surprising AbStrat. I love it! Check out my review, and give it a try . . .

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation on the other hand, while being a game I enjoyed, suffered greatly from the fact that in my one play 12 months ago, I crushed my wife's Fellowship with my army of darkness. Guess which game hasn't made it back to the table . . .
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6. Board Game: War of the Ring (First Edition) [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:98]
Ronster Zero
United States
California
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I only had one new game that month and it was War of the Ring.

I have only had one more play of this and it was epic. While finding players and time for this game is severely limited for me, the game is still awesome.
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7. Board Game: Pandemic: On the Brink [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Item for Geeklist "New to you Oct 09 => Best new game you played this month and why"



Pandemic: On the Brink (Played 10 more times since October 2009) - This is basically a must-use expansion. Even when I'm just mixing in the new roles and the new special action cards, there is always something from this expansion that I want to use in the game. And when I play with experienced players I absolutely must play with one of the variant games. I still haven't explored the Bio-Terrorist variant, but I'm sure we will some day. This expansion was good enough to outrank all other new games this month, and it still remains as my favorite expansion of all time.



The Downfall of Pompeii (Played 10 more times since October 2009) - This is probably one of my Top 20 games of all time. There's just something cool about the way you load the city with people and then rush to beat the lava out. We have taught it to most of the people we game with, and it has gone over well with everyone. I still love that I can teach the game in stages as we play, so they don't have to know the next step until we get there. Playing it with 2 players really opened my eyes to the underlying strategies as well. This one is just a classic.



Ra: The Dice Game (Not played since October 2009) - The original play was with Grimwold's copy of the game. I enjoyed the game, so I've had it sitting on my wishlist since then.



All In (Not played since October 2009) - I'm trying to get rid of it. It just had nothing that was very unique, and wasn't a style of game I'm interested in playing.



IGOR: The Monster Making Game (Played 1 more time since October 2009) - Played it again in November to confirm that the game is bad. Sure enough, it still stunk, so I sold it in a geeklist auction. This game may work for young kids as a simple introduction to push-your-luck games, but it just doesn't work for adults. There aren't enough dice to do anything substantial and it is way too easy to have a runaway leader.
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8. Board Game: Thebes [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:436]
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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My wife and I got this one a year ago when we were shopping in Aachen on our last European vacation. It was on a discount shelf at a department store so we scooped it up with a couple other Queen titles that we gave away as gifts. At the time, my impressions of Thebes were only so-so, but compared to the other two new games of the month (Bohnanza and Power Grid), it was the best of a mediocre lot.

It has got some play since October 2009 (unlike Bohnanza and Power Grid), and I still maintain that it's a good "gateway" game that works well when you need a game for three or four couples and don't want to play Cranium - a game I never want to play. I like the "time" mechanic in the game above all else. Not so keen on the random drawing of chits from the "dig" bags even though it does make sense as part of the theme of an archeological game. All in all, a solid game that we'll keep in our collection for casual and non-gamers to play.
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9. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:274]
 
Steve K
United Kingdom
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Item for Geeklist "New to you Oct 09 => Best new game you played this month and why"

After playing the German edition at Spiel, then again at a friend's house after returning, I commented:

Quote:
I'll buy when there’s an English release or if I get too jealous of some friends who bought a German copy. The second play suggests RGG had better pull their finger out or I'll be buying from alea.

Soon after, I bought a German copy. After about 10 plays, an English edition was released, so I 'upgraded'. I've now played the game 19 times.

Most other "new to me" games in October 09 were either at Spiel, or when visiting geekbuddies in Florida. Most haven't been played since, although I've played a friend's copy of Opera thee more times.
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10. Board Game: Peloponnes [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:808]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Item for Geeklist "New to you Oct 09 => Best new game you played this month and why"

The game I identified as the best for me met my prediction of being good for five plays dead on. I then traded it, without regret.

I haven't played any of the other games I list again since. I would still play Erosion if asked, I'd just rather play something new or a favorite.
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11. Board Game: God's Playground [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:1678]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
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A year ago this month, I managed to play five new games plus a couple expansions that were new to me. The two that amused me most then still amuse me the most today; I've played both a couple times in the intervening 11 months.

God's Playground - thumbsupthumbsup - (2 plays in the last 11 months)
(image by Hammy)

After my first play, I'd thought that the mechanics were a bit fiddly and opaque. Yet, not terribly strangely, after another couple plays things are a lot clearer: yes, the Ottoman attack rules are a bit difficult to look up, but the game is quite sensible.

Our first outing was a 3-plus hour exercise. We've been faster recently: the last couple have been closer to two and a half hours. Last year, I'd said: "God's Playground is thematically wonderful." And that's still a quote I'd hold to. A very nice game.

Last Train to Wensleydale - thumbsupthumbsup - (2 plays in last 11 months)
(images by Hammy & OpettajaH)

After another couple plays, I can begin to understand some of the early criticism that "The game plays out much the same each time." Now, amusingly, that hasn't been the case for us: the random cube distribution has ensured that our initial builds and conflicts happen in a slightly different way. The part that has proved the same, though, is that we're colliding ferociously in the final turn. There aren't many resources left (bad groupthink on our part?) on the board, and we're squeezed pretty hard to make final-turn revenue.

I'm still very enthusiastic to get it to the table.

Amyitis - thumbsupthumbsup - (2 plays in the last 11 months)
(images by reapersaurus & Rokkr)

Despite accusations of JASE, I've had a fine time playing this. Yes, one moves little cardboard disks so that one can play little wooden cubes so that one can collect cards and little cardboard tiles. But somehow, it works. I still find it amusing.

Commands & Colors: Ancients + Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #5 – Epic Ancients II - thumbsupthumbsdown - (no plays in last 11 months)
(images by neoshmengi & kduke)

I don't own this one - and that's the primary reason for not playing. I wouldn't turn a game down. I still have a modest regret that I invested in Memoir '44 instead of C&C:A: but I don't like the C&C thing enough to own two such systems.

Set Cubed - thumbsdown - (Happy to have not played in last 11 months.)
(images by patchwerq & mardeck)

No enthusiasm for this one over the past year. It's definitely subject to the "there are better things to play" rule.

Roll Through the Ages: The Late Bronze Age - thumbsupthumbsup - (No live plays in last 11 months; lots against iOS app.)
(image by EndersGame)

It's cool, but I need to print a few more of the score sheets. My Roll Through the Ages set has run out of expansion scoresheets!
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12. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:135]
Tim Stellmach
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
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Item for Geeklist "New to you Oct 09 => Best new game you played this month and why"

Since last year, I've haven't had much chance to play Age of Steam, as it clocks in at just a little too long for most of my busy friends. I wouldn't say my enjoyment of it has diminished, but from a practical standpoint, it hasn't served as well as, say, Small World or Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age (both from the same month).

That said, now I'm motivated to put together a game of Age of Steam.

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13. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:19]
Ingmar Hauge
Norway
Kvernaland
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It's cold outside. There's no kind of atmosphere. I'm all alone. More or less. Let me fly. Far away from here. Fun fun fun. In the sun sun sun...
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Darn, I'm Dwayne Dibbley again....
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Brass: Lancashire and Automobile

One year ago I had a Martin Wallace 1 - 2. Sadly, I've haven't been able to play either one again. However, the more I thought about my game of Brass the better a game I thought it to be so I ended up raising my rating to a 10. I really need to find time for this again but such a meaty game has proved quite hard to get to the table over the last year.

Regarding Automobile, I'm getting the new version when it hit the stores. Brass probably has a higher replayability but my one game of Automobile was quite an eye-opener.


Space Hulk (third edition)

I've played space hulk twice in the last year, and I except for the second mission I've enjoyed the rest of my plays. I've concluded that we probably played the 2nd mission not how we were supposed to and thus the game took quite a long time.


Neither Finca nor Heimlich & Co. has seen table time over the last year so not much has changed here. I wouldn't mind playing either game again though.
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14. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:219] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
John N.
United States
Lehi
Utah
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Small World
I can't believe it's been a year since I first played Small World. I loved it then and love it now. This was the game that saw in our new year, and then when my brother in law discovered it earlier this year we got many more plays out of it. My buddy bought me the expansions for Christmas (hence the New Year's plays). It hasn't had any plays for a few months but I am sure I can get it to the table again very soon.


Ra: The Dice Game
I said very good things about this back then, and after trying out my buddies copy my wife told me to go and buy a copy. She didn't seem to love it as much after a couple of plays, but it still got plays with my lunchtime group! I think this is a friendly reminder that lunchtime group needs restarted with this game at the forefront.


Pandemic: On the Brink
I really enjoyed this expansion and again bought it soon after trying it out. Whenever we play Pandemic now we always start using On The Brink, which suits everyone. I have yet to play the Bioterrorist game, but I am fine with this, it doesn't seem to appeal to anyone in my group. Another game that needs kickstarted back into regular play.


Black Sheep
I think I was over generous with this game first time around. I now think of it as merely OK and the fact that we had zero plays since just solidifies this. I wasn't overly prasiful about it but still more than it probably deserved. I think this one needs to go to a better home, ie not mine!

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15. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:218]
Mike B
Netherlands
Utrecht
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Link to oct 09 item

Last year's new-to-me for october had 24 titles thanks to Essen.

I chose Dungeon Lords as winner because of the theme and original gameplay. I only played it once more last march, but it's been high on my 'want-to-play' list all year. It strikes me as a game you'd prefer to play with 4 people exactly. Which might not be true.

Very close runners-up:
Chicago Express
. Which I happened to play tonight again. I still think this is a great game which I'd love to play more.

Imperial 2030 also hit the table only once more. The group had a hard time digesting it, but I love it. I got to try this game with less than 5 players and see how long it takes then.

Other good games:
Funkenschlag: Fabrikmanager
got 5 more plays after my initial one in oct. 09. I still like it, and still not as much as Funkenschlag. Good game, too bad it has a long set up time.

Händler auf dem Forum Romanum is probably small time publishers Isensee's best title. And needs more attention.

Shipyard got played once more with 2. Unfortunately in my opinion it doesn't work with 2. Still want to play it with more.

Of the 10 gaqmes I mentioned next as being 'fun games' I played the eight I own a couple of times more. And I stick to my opinion.
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16. Board Game: Piece o' Cake [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1654]
Sheamus Parkes
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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I think I picked it well. I've played this one a dozen times since, and my opinion has only gone up.

There's just so much going on. Especially once you start paying attention to rivalries among the other players. Then you can really manipulate the pie to leave something juicy for yourself.


Other games I called okay:

Uruk - Was too messy. Traded away soon after.

Keltis: the tile game - Was too simple. Traded away.

Murdero - Just didn't work as well as MR: Jack the Ripper.
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17. Board Game: Warhammer: Invasion [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:528]
Andrew
Japan
Tokyo
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I played a whole slew of games last year, though I haven't had many repeats since then. I've decided to adopt Tom Vasel's kangaroo and turkey terminology. Unfortunately most of my games from a year ago have been once-offs, and none of them impressed me enough over the year to become kangaroos.

The Joeys

Ra has risen in my esteem after some AI games clued me into what's going on. It's still not a game I love, but I think it has more theme and uniqueness for me to prefer it very slightly over other simple auction games.

The Platypodes

Wyatt Earp was and still is a fine mystery rummy game.

Perudo was and still is a fine filler.

Trans Europa is still a good, simple filler.

I still don't really want to play Blokus but have once or twice.

The Ducks

I really liked Small World for its variation despite its simplicity, and still do. However its relative shallowness (even after a couple of expansions) disturbs me a bit. There's not a great difference between brilliant and merely competent play. In my view, Small World: Tales and Legends is very important to maintain interest.

I enjoyed the simplicity of Endeavor despite a fairly horrible initial play, and it has come to the table in quicker and more pleasant games a couple of times since then. Despite that, it doesn't excite me.

Pandemic: On the Brink was and still is fairly interesting, but it doesn't hold a candle to Space Alert for co-op action!

The Turkeys

My first game of Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game had Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game – Pegasus Expansion incorporated, and I was a Cylon to boot. I enjoyed the experience but felt it a bit long. Since then I've played the base game several times, and watched the first season of the new TV series, and I've soured a bit as the novel aspects have become familiar. Shadow Hunters, The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow and The Resistance offer much more condensed experiences. It's also feels a bit strange playing the game version of a TV series that has passed along.

I've played a few games of Traders of Genoa during the year, and grown progressively more bored of it. It's about fiddly tactical haggling that makes the game take forever.

No Plays

I'd be willing to play the following, but haven't had the chance:
* A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game;
* Warhammer: Invasion - a little bit wary of static decks and 2p only though;
* Betrayal at House on the Hill - also looking forward to Mansions of Madness;
* Caylus - it's a bit too long for me, but its reported depth is attractive, perhaps I can play Caylus Magna Carta instead.

I didn't play the following games over the last year, and have no real desire to:
* Bacchus' Banquet - I'm a little burnt out on hidden identity games;
*Modern Art - thought it was substantially more interesting than Ra but I suppose I need a bit more theme to motivate me;
* Battle Line - thrashed several times initially, and I don't play a lot of 2-player games anyway;
* Middle-Earth Quest was slightly underwhelmed after a great desire to try the game; having a player control Sauron like a resource-management game, and the hero card mechanics are genius, but the plot token race isn't dramatic, the ending is underwhelming, and the game felt like it needed some tightening;
* Cartagena - at least I've learned to pronounce it correctly;
* On the Underground - indeed dodged a play of it for Endeavor;
* Tinners' Trail - it had couple of innovations but still little interest from me;
* In the Year of the Dragon - I did play this against AIs once, but the disaster mitigation freaks me out, and I don't like the turn-order jostle.
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18. Board Game: Carcassonne: Expansion 2 – Traders & Builders [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Jason Lott
United States
Cheverly
Maryland
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Oct 09 geeklist entry

While I still have high opinions of the games high on my list from last year, I'm surprised how little I've played them.

The one that actually got the most time was the Traders and Builders expansion for Carcassonne. We incorporate this and Inns & Cathedrals every time we play - and it's hit the table 3 times since then. A very reliable expansion that I can't see playing without.

I also really enjoyed the On the Brink expansion for Pandemic. But I do think around the time we got it we were peaking on the game in general, and have since set it to the side. I think it's time we brought this back out at least for some 2-player attempts.

Although I'm still fond of the simplicity inherent in Around the World in 80 Days, it always seems to be that game that someone points at as a suggestion, but then we grab whatever is near it instead. I finally pulled it out again last month and still had fun with it.

221B Baker Street certainly isn't special, but it's an OK way to pass the time. Considering it was thrifted for $1, the fact that we've played it twice means it's paid for itself.

My big disappointment is that we haven't tried Amyitis since that first time. I think that every time I think of bringing it out, the thought of teaching people the rules is so daunting, I opt for another option. This game is just too complicated for its own good.

And as for the Violet booster for Killer Bunnies - who knows when we'll use it again. We really have to be in a very particular mood with just the right people to bring that game to the table.
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19. Board Game: Rise of Empires [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1067]
Mark Paul
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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Martin Wallace's masterpiece has only gotten better after several plays.

Small World - Thought it was great at first, but it didn't last.
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20. Board Game: Peloponnes [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:808]
...sure...
Netherlands
Rijen
Noord Brabant
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/47991/item/1089146#ite...

Essen Month. There were 4 new games for me:


Fabrik Manager
Peloponnes
Alea Iacta Est
Bamboleo

And I have not played them since... a long time! But I would like to. Fabrik Manager and Peloponnes especially.
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21. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:22]
Ryan Dicorato
United States
Chattanooga
Tennessee
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My entry a year ago.

Last October was a good month for me. Got to play a good amount of games that are greatly favored.

Puerto Rico - I still enjoy this game just as much. I don't enjoy it enough to constantly play it and become great at it, like some people, but I make an effort to play it from time to time.

Power Grid - One of my 10/10 games. I don't get to play this game enough because of time. I've been looking into getting some of the expansion maps, but not too hard since we rarely play it. It is a fairly long game. But each game is just as rewarding as the first experience.

Space Hulk: Third Edition - Initially I loved this game. I've played it a few more times since then and it's fallen flat and I don't care much for it. The initial appeal was the sense of urgency you get when trying to survive. But the game because too much about lucky dice rolls that it can really ruin a well planned strategy. This may be what is expected based on the theme, but doesn't make for a great game.

Fury of Dracula - Haven't got to play this game since then. I may play it again this year, but that is still up in the air. I would love to play it again.

A Touch of Evil - Have not played this game again and no real desire to. I won't turn it down because maybe the second time around will prove to be a better experience, but I don't think this game really had much to offer, so I'm skeptical.
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22. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:203]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Here's my New-to-You post from last September followed by my thoughts on each game now in italics.

Played quite a few new games again this month. Some good ones, some stinkers.

LOVED IT!




Battle Line: This game edged out ZERTZ by a small margin for my best new game of the month. My wife and I like Lost Cities, and Battle Line scratches the same itch, but I like it much better. It's more interactive, it's a clever game full of bluffing and difficult decisions. It can turn quickly with a clever (or poor) play. I borrowed a copy from a friend and Battle Line has moved to the top of my want list.

Now: Battle Line is in my top 5, my wife and I have logged 40+ plays of it.



ZÈRTZ: My first play or two were a little lukewarm, as it seems harder to wrap my brain around than YINSH or TZAAR. Once I got a few plays in, I fell in love with ZERTZ. It's strategies take time and repeated plays to learn, and playing several games against the same opponent is very rewarding. I also used YINSH and ZERTZ as gateway games with much success this month.

Now: ZERTZ is possibly my favorite game in the GIPF series. It's one of my favorite abstracts and a solid 8 for me.


Liked it!




Blockers!: I'm not particularly a fan of Sudoku, but my wife likes it. Uptown was $7.75 on sale from FunAgain (and still is, by the way) so I gave it a go and it's a good little game. Initially I preferred the 4-player game to the 2-player game, but after a few plays the 2-player game has grown on me. Each player controls two colors in the 2p game, and the main difference is that you can't replace pieces of a color you control on the board. This means you have to plan carefully so as not to wall yourself in. Anyway, good game.

Now: I haven't played Uptown much, but I still admire it and enjoy it as an every-few-months change of pace game.



Lost Cities: I'd played Lost Cities on the Xbox, but only against the AI since there's no offline multiplayer. It was $8 from FunAgain (no, I'm not a shill, just a bargain hunter) so it was time. As expected my wife loved it, and I've enjoyed it too. There are agonizing decisions to make, some luck, some strategy and nice-looking cards.

Now: Kat and I still enjoy this one once in a while, though it is in my opinion similar, but inferior to Battle Line means it doesn't hit the table a lot. I like the game enough to keep it.



Hnefatafl: I picked up The Viking Game in a math trade this past month. It's a neat, quick little abstract game, unusual in that the 2 sides are functionally different. One player is trying to get the king to one of the corners of the board, the other player is trying to capture the king. A piece is captured when it is flanked on 2 sides by opposing pieces. The king is captured when he's surrounded by enemy pieces or, if he's against a wall, surrounded by 3 enemy pieces. That's it, now go play!

Now: It's neat, charming and old. It rarely gets played though, as I have so many other 2-player abstracts I enjoy more.



Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India: Picked this up for $15 at Gen Con new in shrink. Finally got a chance to try this, although only one-on-one. It's a good game, probably better with more players. It has the potential to become a favorite, I think. It reminded me a bit of Caylus and I don't know why.

Now: It's currently up for auction. It had fallen into the pit of "too good to get rid of, not good enough to play" for me. No longer. Time to get it to someone who will play it.



Manila: Played this at my new monthly board game group. I shouldn't like Manila: auctions are prominent, and it's heavily luck dependent with all the dice rolling. At it's heart, it's a gambling game of playing the odds and trying to guess the outcome of dice rolls. It ran a little long for what it is, and I can't see playing it frequently, but it might be a nice change of pace game once it a while. It felt like more than the sum of its parts.

Now: Haven't played it since. I'd play it again if it were requested, but I won't suggest it.


Not so sure...




Cosmic Encounter: I liked the different races in the game a lot, but that was about all I liked. It's a player negotiation game, which I don't like. It has fistfuls of cards including a card each turn telling you who to attack, it just feels way to chaotic to me. I respect its status as a classic and would be willing to try the game a second time, but it looks like Cosmic Encounter just isn't my kind of game.

Now: I just introduced this to my weekly BSG group and it went over very well. This one is very dependent on the group for its success or failure. It's light and fun, though a little chaotic. I enjoy the game more if I don't take it too seriously.



Kahuna: Borrowed this 2-player game from a friend. Only got to play it once, but I was more impressed with the look of the game than the way it plays. The board has a nice blend of blues and greens which are in stark contrast to the black and white pieces. The gameplay is interesting in that there usually a few possible choices for which island(s) to go after and whether to play offensively or defensively. I imagine we may like it better if we played it more, it may get a longer look in the future.

Now: Haven't played it since. It's decent, not great.



Khet: The Laser Game: Beautiful game, neat to see and play. The concept of moving mirrors and bouncing a laser around the board is very cool. Unfortunately, I admire the game more than I like to play it. It was reminiscent of chess for me, where I agonize and agonize, then make a stupid move anyway. I understand the rules, but feel overwhelmed on every turn.

Now: Again, haven't played it since. I admire the game and would gladly play it again, but I remember struggling mightily with it.



The Stars Are Right: I just don't know how to feel about this game. I like the Cthulhu mythos, even when it's done so tongue-in-cheek. The game is essentially a big puzzle where you're trying to line up the tiles in the configuration shown on your cards. This sort of thing appeals to me. Problem is, there are so many possible ways to go about trying to play one of the 5 cards in your hand, the game is terribly, terribly prone to AP. I played a 4-player game, and it took forever to get back to my turn. On my turn, I'd spend 2 or 3 minutes studying the board, then just take whatever move was most easily available. Since everyone typically changes the arrangement of the tiles on their turn, it doesn't do any good to study the board while you're waiting for your turn. It's a maddening game. I'm thinking it might be better for 2 players.

Now: There's a recurring theme here. I haven't played this one since last year. I'd be interested in trying it as a 2-player game.

Didn't care for it



Torches & Pitchforks: A friend brought this for a Halloween-themed game night. It's bad. You start with 6 villagers and a handful of weapons/event cards. Every turn you draw a monster from the monster deck and see if you are strong enough to defeat it. If so, you keep it as a trophy. If not, you lose a certain number of villagers for a time. Players can play event cards on themselves and each other. Play until someone has 30 points of monster trophies. No strategy, no real decisions to make. The game is all luck of the draw, and the decisions are obvious enough that the game plays itself. Might as well play a slot machine.



Giza: Each turn you play a tile from your hand that either helps you or hurts an opponent, then draw a tile. The game has some nastiness to it, but again with 4 players it feels too chaotic and random. Not a bad game exactly, but not a good game either. Giza just doesn't do enough to stand out from the sea of better games out there.



The Haunting House: Good god, random shit. Just a steaming pile of randomness smoldering in the middle of the table, and we were playing with it! Admittedly, the theme is excellent, it captures the feeling of despair and feeling trapped, wishing for an escape. I desperately wanted to get to the exit and win the game. Or get to the exit and set the game on fire. Or just set the game on fire and be done with it.

Now: All of these are games I would probably outright refuse if they were brought to the table.

Overall it was a pretty balanced month with some big winners, big losers and some so-so stuff in between.
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23. Board Game: Hex Hex [Average Rating:5.87 Overall Rank:6041]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Last year's entry

My best new-to-me game this month was Hex Hex. I'm actually pretty sure that all 4 times I played this, it was mixed in with the expansion/sequel, Hex Hex Next. Why is this game awesome?
-- Beautiful, runic-looking art
-- Good for a large number of people, and feasible to deal in a late arrival
-- Straightforward concept (like hot potato; try to deflect the hex away from yourself so it will blow up on someone else) and quite easy to learn the basic play, but more complex cards introduce all sorts of interesting complications and variations
-- Although it's possible (and more likely with more people) to occasionally get through a hand without playing a card, you don't feel bored or uninvolved because the hex MIGHT strike you at any moment.
-- Plays in as many rounds as there are people; this usually makes for a good game length, and is fixed so it doesn't ever drag on interminably, and is known so you know how much time you have to try to take the lead.
-- Fun, that's why.


3 plays since then, and still LOVE Hex Hex. Although I don't know if it's so much that it has stood the test of time, or possibly more that my obsession with this game will continue until I can get to play it enough to be satisfied. I don't own the game (it's OOP) and haven't often been able to get to the group that plays it, but someone brought it to a con recently and I obsessively played it as much as I could get anyone to play it with me. I agree with everything I said above, and hope to play some Hex Hex tonight.

Of the 7 other new-to-me games from last October, I've played 2 of them again since then:

Hacienda
I'm still trying to untangle the mystery of what makes some games frustrating in a fun way, and others frustrating in a totally UNfun way. This was plenty of the former. Never enough time, turns, actions, meadows, or pigs to accomplish my goals, so the game seemed to zip past in about five minutes, but still enjoyable.

I've played Hacienda 4 more times. Haven't figured it out to the point of "here's my crushing master strategy" but definitely have reached the point of knowing "don't let X get away with Y or it's all over." This game hasn't become a favorite, and I haven't felt the need to get a copy, but it's one I'd be happy enough to play when anyone brings it out.

Jet Set
The air travel theme held very little appeal for me, but the game turned out to be pretty fun. Much like my experience with Hacienda, there didn't turn out to be quite enough time to bring all my plans to fruition. This is sort of a network-building game, but you start with a couple of big-ticket secret goals, all of which are intentionally ridiculously inconvenient. When someone does one of these, it triggers a fixed-number-of-rounds endgame. But as I belatedly realized, it may not be necessary, desirable, or even possible to do one of yours; you can let someone else end the game while you rake in points by playing. One difference between this and Hacienda is that in Jet Set, you are perpetually starved for cash, and have to compromise the efficiency of your plans because you can't afford them. In Hacienda, there's always ample opportunity to get more money; you're just reluctant to do so because it takes one of your precious actions.

I've played this 2 more times, and am actually looking forward to playing again soon. Like Hacienda, don't own it, not a huge favorite, but happy to play when it comes along.
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24. Board Game: Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1557]
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United States
Indiana
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My Original October 2009 Write-Up


Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League



Perry Rhodan was a second-place finish for me a year ago. Back then the game was only available in German. It was finally released in English a couple of months ago, and I've played it several times since. Each time I introduce it to new players, it's a big hit, and I've grown increasingly fond of the design. For me, this is one of the best two-player games around, and it helps that it's the designer's love-letter to Merchant of Venus.

Starship Catan



Starship Catan was a third-place finisher for me a year ago. For several months last winter, I would have picked it as the best game of this batch. The exploration and sense of progress here is fantastic, and between two experienced players it's usually a close race. There's sufficient variation between plays, but only just, and at 90 minutes a session this is one I want to break out once every 2-3 months. I remain surprised at how distinctive Starship Catan is in the world of boardgames.

Gunslinger



Originally I chose Gunslinger as my best new game of the month. I'm a fan of designer Richard Hamblem (particularly of Merchant of Venus, and to a lesser degree Magic Realm), and his deep-focus, second-by-second treatment of the Old West is a fun romp. It's also a once-in-a-while type of game for me, rewarding more for the narrative and experience than anything else. The mechanics are a bit clunky, to the point where it can take players an hour to simulate 30 seconds of a shootout.


The Scrap Heap



Last Train to Wensleydale was a disappointment that I haven't played since. By now the hideous board is legendary. The promising theme was incidental to the game, and the various twists on network-building, Wallace's oldest design vein, weren't compelling enough for a second try. I don't miss it.

Hamburgum boils down to get-there-first, with a mildly interesting emphasis on economies of scale. I loved the theme and components of the game, and found the gameplay to be one-note. I've since given up on Rondel games altogether, even the much-vaunted Imperial.

Playing God's Playground felt akin to enjoying a bad movie. The game is an incoherent mess of gears and mechanisms built around a great theme and gameplay concept (cooperative-competitive). All three of us found the game preposterous and completely unworthy of additional exploration, and it was quickly traded away. I give Wallace credit for unconventional thinking - he seems willing to take risks - but this was a flop. Haven't played since.

Amyitis baffled me on my first play a year ago, essentially defining what it means for a game to be counter-intuitive and working hard to earn Ystari games their dubious post-Caylus reputation. I played again a few months later and was downright annoyed at the title, deep-sixing my ambivalent rating to a 4. Good riddance.

Patrician wasn't worth trying once, and if I were faced with a similar offering today, I'd pass. My mental stamina for learning new games is a scarce resource. New games are abundant. Patrician shouldn't have made the cut.

Fairy Tale is a respected filler that didn't click for me, though some have said that playing with five as a mistake. Still, the core idea (drafting) did nothing for me, and I'll continue to avoid this game in the future.

In Conclusion: Two excellent two-player titles that I own and continue to enjoy, a golden-age-Avalon-Hill-Richard-Hamblen title (always a good thing), some games that didn't pan out, and a couple more that I probably should not have invested any time in to begin with. Hey, at least I'm getting better.
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