On looking through the list of 125 games from 2003 proposed for nominations for the Meeples' Choice over in spielfrieks, my initial reaction was surprise at how few games came out in 2003 that I really especially liked.
Amun-Re is a solid Reiner Knizia game and will, I expect, make the short list thanks to the number of fans who like solid Reiner Knizia games. It's no Euphrat & Tigris, but the best of the lot, it is.
I also really like Leo Colovini's Corsari, but it's such a "small" game that its chances of surviving the first round of voting seem pretty slim. How many spielfrieks even care that a new rummy game demanding a whole new mode of hand management has been hitting the tables?
After those two, I couldn't spot a single title I'd go out on a limb to campaign for. By picking games I find endearing because they are successful in limited ways, I've managed to find eight more titles to put checkmarks by, but basically these are just games I want to give a smile to and not that I think actually deserve to win any awards:
Anno 1503. An entertaining exercise in development from a small start to a player-mat-ful of stuff. Very much part of the Settlers family with its core engine of starting the turn with a die roll everybody collects a card on, but with the trading amongst players stripped out. I'm still enjoying it after three tries but am not convinced it's going to have staying power.
Die Fugger. Cunningly packaged as an Adlung deck of cards, this is a small game of market fluctuations -- almost too small. I'd say better than Kathai, not as good as Von Kap Bis Kairo from the same series.
Domaine. This is a pretty good game, but the whole business of fencing territories and expanding them has been lifted wholesale from Lowenherz. In fact, in Germany this was simply released as the new edition of Lowenherz. Low marks for originality, but still a game I expect to play now and then.
Logistico. A lot of people don't like this one at all, and I admit I'm only prepared to play it on rare occasions. It's a pickup and delivery game with some very difficult decisions, so thoroughly trimmed down to get it into the 60-minute range that your mental gymnastics have to go into high gear practically from the first move.
Lunar Rails. Clearly I am scraping the bottom of the barrel if the umpteenth variation on Mayfair's unquenchable crayon rails system makes my list. But it's a fine system, and clearly I am scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Nuggets. Quite a clever little game of area majorities. When you deploy strength to an area, you do so with a face-down marker so that nobody knows exactly how much strength you are deploying. The bit of originality, though, is that the walls partitioning the board into areas are played on the same turns as those deploying strength. So, do you put a wall down where it's going to define or tend to define an area, or do you put a marker down to establish strength someplace, hoping that the subsequent partitioning works in your favor?
Queen's Necklace. This is a game of a very particular type, a once-through-the-deck ramble through some cards with a variety of wild special abilities. Like Street Soccer or Mille Bornes, it's a game where the luck is not expected to even out over the course of a single game, but to be decently appreciated will need to be played numerous times. I like doing it, though, and wanted to see a mark or two in its favor in this first round of Meepling.
Thingamajig. The year's most partying party game. The goal is to suggest a secret word in such a way that *almost* everybody knows the word you're talking about, because you get a point for each person who guesses it, but if *everybody* guesses it, you get zero points! The point is not the points but the laughter generated by the attempts. ("You would find this on a musical chicken.") At its best a hilarious game, getting low marks only for the electronic word-generating device which, it seems to me, should have had a lot more words built into it than it has.
Next time: Games a lot of people liked but I didn't like enough to vote for.
The Steak Fairy
Games? People still play games??
Specious arguments are not proof of trollish intent.
Die Fugger is perhaps slightly better than your assessment
If only because you can combine it with Meuterer from Adlung to make Adlung's Opus Magnus: Die Meuterer Fugger.