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Subject: What's genuinely new in gaming that I should check out? rss

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Matt Thrower
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Some of you will know that I've been around BGG a long time, and I've written a fair amount about games. Over the past few years, though, I've seen less and less stuff that really excites me. You know: that feeling when you play a game once and can't wait to play again and then that feeling lasts the first five or ten times you play a game. Most of the stuff that's caught my eye has been expansions to existing games I love rather than new titles.

My explanation for this is simply that I've seen and played too many games. It's hard to be excited by Terraforming Mars when I'm still enjoying great worker placement games like Agricola and Lords of Waterdeep. Perhpas it's marginally better, certainly for newer players, but I just don't see there's anything there that's genuinely novel. And Scythe: I've already got a bunch of cracking fighty-Euros like Wallenstein and Imperial. Don't see the need for another, unless it does something really new whereas Scythe, however good it is, is just re-jigging existing systems. Why does a world that's already bursting at the seams with adventure titles and dungeon crawls really need Gloomhaven?

That's been the case for most of the "hot" games I've seen come and go over the past year or so. But it's left me wondering: is it a lack of innovation, or is it me? Am I just getting old and curmudgeonly and resentful of kids parking their shiny new tanks on my lawn?

So here's my question: is there anything relatively recently that's genuinely new and exciting and creative that I've somehow missed? What games do I need to check out to show me that gaming is just as fresh as it was five, ten years ago and hasn't just got stuck in a bit of a rut where new games are just marginally, incremental better versions of old games?
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Russ Williams
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Off the top of my head:

I was feeling a bit blase about "generic" trading-in-the-Mediterranean type euros, but when I tried Concordia I was very pleasantly surprised, and my wife and I played it repeatedly with the loaned copy of a friend. I am pondering picking up the locally published Polish edition.

Lots of stuff happening in solitaire wargames, if you're into that, e.g. Enemy Action: Ardennes is impressively innovative (but relatively complex and long to play), and (on the lighter side) various States of Siege games like Ottoman Sunset etc are nifty fun. Also see Tetrarchia, which I played obsessively for a while.

Various interesting happenings in the world of abstract strategy games, if you're into that. Very simple rules but addictive gameplay from the stacking games SEVEN and Pent-Up (which have nice chunky laser cut pieces). Not a pure abstract (it has luck of the draw and hidden info), but Sleepers is really fun and different. Also see the surprisingly successful crowdfunded Tak and Santorini.

More mainstream-wise, donaldx's Greed is a cool addictive short card drafting game (IIRC created before 7 Wonders popularized the notion, but published after 7W). Works for 2-5, and we played it obsessively 2-player over 100 times.

Then there is FF's crazy ambitious ruleset-modular 504. Setup and teardown is a bit annoyingly fiddly, but I enjoy it when I play it. It seems geared for 3-4 players, and we usually play 2-player, alas.

===

I cannot speak about legacy games (not having played them) but I'm sure someone will mention them. I am looking forward to trying FF's Fabled Fruit (with its nondestructive "legacy-like" mechanism) if it ever becomes available here...
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Craig B
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I'm going to say there is no game ever that cannot be described as only marginally incrementally better versions of old games. Even the games you say you still enjoy were technically only marginally incrementally better versions of older games already.

Given that, these would be my picks of things not to miss / at least try once:

Mysterium - a marginally incrementally better version of Dixit and Clue.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong - a marginally incrementally better version of Guess Who? and Werewolf

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 - a marginally incrementally better version of Pandemic and Risk Legacy

Arkham Horror: The Card Game - a marginally incrementally better version of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game and Arkham Horror

Roll for the Galaxy - a marginally incrementally better version of Race for the Galaxy

Blood Rage - a marginally incrementally better version of Chaos in the Old World

Captain Sonar - a marginally incrementally better version of Battleship and Space Alert
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Florian Woo
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Cooperative play felt new for me (even if it wasn't) when Pandemic was released. A few benchmark games followed in the next years, which really made me excited (e.g. Arkham Horror, Ghost Stories) But nowadays for me every coop feels nearly the same (a deck of cards simulates the advancement, while the board is some area where evil things move around).

The same happened when Dominion was released related to the deck building mechanism. Even if not a new invention, how Dominion implemented this feature made me euphoric. The Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game series then e.g. combined cooperative play plus deck building, which felt amazing.

A third example was storytelling / social games, which peaked for me with Dixit and Codenames. Playing Codenames: Pictures then for example just made me think "meh..."

At the moment, legacy games create that feeling for me. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is from my point of view a game which everybody who loves board games should have played. I'm still expecting this mechanism to reach its peak, until in a few years, there will be just too many games that will just try to re-invent the wheel.


So, to answer your question: legacy games is it at the moment which feels "genuinely new" for me.
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Martin G
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I think the last time I thought 'wow, this feels genuinely new' (rather than 'wow, this is really nicely put-together') was Hanabi, and that was 5 years ago!
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Chris J Davis
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For me, the biggest "wow, this is something that's never been possible before" moment was when playing app-enabled games for the first time, specifically:

Alchemists allows for a level of hidden information and logical deduction that wouldn't be possible in any other game unless you dedicated a person just to refereeing the game (and not actually playing it).

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition enables a level of cohesive storytelling and gameplay that I've never seen in any other game.
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Matt Thrower
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qwertymartin wrote:
I think the last time I thought 'wow, this feels genuinely new' (rather than 'wow, this is really nicely put-together') was Hanabi, and that was 5 years ago!


Thank you for confirming it's not just me!

Wolle_Petterson wrote:
So, to answer your question: legacy games is it at the moment which feels "genuinely new" for me.


Yes: that was the last thing that left me feeling really thrilled.

Thanks for the suggestions. I've played quite a few of them but others are new to me and worth checking out. Keep 'em coming
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Jim Patching
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I'm also going through a phase of feeling ambivalent about board games. I used to be all over pretty much every release but there aren't many games coming out now that excite me.

The most recent games I've played that felt a bit different were Time Stories, Captain Sonar and I suppose the legacy games (Pandemic Legacy being the only one I've really properly played).

I'm finding myself leaning more towards proper miniatures games now (as opposed to board games with miniatures) - things like Frostgrave and I've got my eye on the upcoming Doctor Who game by Warlord Games.
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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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MattDP wrote:

So here's my question: is there anything relatively recently that's genuinely new and exciting and creative that I've somehow missed? What games do I need to check out to show me that gaming is just as fresh as it was five, ten years ago and hasn't just got stuck in a bit of a rut where new games are just marginally, incremental better versions of old games?


I know the feeling. I've played many games released the last few years but none has felt fresh compared to the old classics that they build on. In most cases, they feel overloaded by disjointed mechanics whereas the old classics often focused on a few core mechanics.

That said, here are some new games for 2017 that I hope will feel fresh:

Keyper: The designer of Keyflower has made things different this time by letting players benefit from sharing resources rather than blocking each other.
Tao Long: The Way of the Dragon: Use a mancala mechanism to move and fight with dragons.
Tortuga 1667: Combine secret teams with the ability to physically move between teams on a board.

But again, I may still be disappointed one year from now.
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JT Schiavo
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I would probably say the most unique new game in my collection is T.I.M.E Stories. The Great Dinosaur Rush gets honorable mention.

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I am Abomination
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Mystic Vale and its card crafting system! But it kind of sucks at the moment.
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Christina
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I know the feeling you speak of, not in the context of board games but in video games.
While yes a lot of games are kind of the same but a little different or maybe executed slightly better I'm not sure that's the biggest part of the issue. I think another big contributor is overconsumption, board gamers are often obsessive in the hobby, buying games up like crazy knowing they have 4 more at home that are very similar or just because it's new. They tend to also spend a lot of time playing every week, which is great if you love gaming but getting in 10-20 hours every week can make it very easy to feel like you've seen everything a lot.

Or at least that's how video games go for me and I feel like the same applies here. Sometimes it helps to take some breathers.

On a side note the world "needs" Gloomhaven because it's a legacy dungeon crawler, and legacy is the in thing right now
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Matt Brown
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qwertymartin wrote:
I think the last time I thought 'wow, this feels genuinely new' (rather than 'wow, this is really nicely put-together') was Hanabi, and that was 5 years ago!


I would say Vast breaks the dungeon crawl mode rather nicely.
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Martin G
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MattDP wrote:
qwertymartin wrote:
I think the last time I thought 'wow, this feels genuinely new' (rather than 'wow, this is really nicely put-together') was Hanabi, and that was 5 years ago!


Thank you for confirming it's not just me!


The only new game that I've rated a 10 since then is Baseball Highlights: 2045. I wouldn't say it feels genuinely new, but it's very, very good.
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Paul Goddard
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I don't have a massive games collection and I'm not particularly knowledgeable about games and mechanics but the one game I am really looking forward to is The 7th Continent.

It looks like nothing else I own and reminds me of the old choose your own adventure books mixed with puzzles and hidden messages.

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David Purkiss
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I own around 35 games, and find that a lot of games out there are fairly samey, aren't many CO-OPs that I like as much as Ghost Stories for example, although I still own 9-10 of them as it's nice to have variety and some people I play with may find Ghost Stories too difficult.

I found FUSE and Matcha to be different from other things I own.

I think it's difficult to put something truely different out there.
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Bastian Escobar

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I was feeling the same way too... Publishers are simply improving on existing mechanisms and re-theming/rebranding existing ones. It felt like the whole industry has stagnated.

I was at Essen last year and I remembered watching a round of a mafia themed game called Lawless Empire. It has a pretty unique dice manipulation mechanism using the the pips on rolled dice as resource for open bidding. I hung around watching others played and they looked pretty engaged. Not sure if its me being a huge sucker for dice. laugh
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AJ Cooper
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MattDP wrote:
It's hard to be excited by Terraforming Mars when I'm still enjoying great worker placement games like Agricola and Lords of Waterdeep. Perhpas it's marginally better, certainly for newer players, but I just don't see there's anything there that's genuinely novel.

Terraforming Mars is not worker placement, so I don't think Agricola and LoW are good comparisons. TFM is a tableau engine builder with a tile placement element. Off the top of my head, perhaps Deus is the closest match mechanically. Some compare it to Race for the Galaxy but IMO that is not particularly close; the comparison seems as much based on general theme as mechanics.

Basically I think your "scouting report" is off target. If you haven't actually played, I urge you to give it a try.
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Jessica simzyk
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May I suggest checking out Quodd Heroes? Its on kickstarter right now, the game offers alot of possibilities and I really do think its unique. I don't believe my words can truly do it justice so check it out and see for yourself either way hope you find a game that excites you!
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Matt Brown
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nhjelmberg wrote:
Keyper: The designer of Keyflower has made things different this time by letting players benefit from sharing resources rather than blocking each other.


Keyflower and Lewis & Clark are good examples of taking well known ideas and mixing them in fresh ways. Racing and WP?
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Like it or not, Millennium Blades is definitely a unique game and there really isn't anything like it out there. I guess you could argue it is just another card drafting and/or asset valuation game - I would disagree though.
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Mark Langford
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E Panayi
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What was great about Lords of Waterdeep?

If we understand what you found genuinely innovative about that one, maybe it can help in providing suggestions.
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Andrew Roy
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Matt, you need to stop pushing around cardboard chits, miniatures and cubes, and take your gaming to the next level:



Intrinsically more exciting with people as your pawns!
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The Splotter Spellen team is known for, among other things, taking a familiar concept and turning it on its ear. Check out The Great Zimbabwe or everyone's current favorite Food Chain Magnate.
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