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Subject: Best games of 2009 - A New Zealand perspective rss

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Andrew Rae
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I think it is fair to say that in New Zealand it is harder to keep up with the gaming trends and stay on the cutting edge of gaming developments. In this respect it can be difficult to find and play many of the new titles. There are still plenty of games from 2009 which I have always wanted to try, but have never had the opportunity to. This shows the difficulty of getting a good coverage of new games played, especially when this conflicts with the goal of getting value for money out of your own collection. There is only so much time to game.

This was not the case back even a year earlier in 2008 where I have played the top 15 ranked games on BGG (war games and Ameritrash aside), and so my experience bears out the anecdotal trends of more and more games coming out, and more and more quality games coming out. And it is fair to say that even though we might still enjoy them , games like Dominion, Pandemic and Stone Age seem like yesterdays news.

But given the explosion of games and time lag for them to circulate into New Zealand it is not inappropriate to be discussing 2009 games even now. That is why I begin my series of three ‘best of’ posts with a discussion of 2009 games.

Before we begin these meaningless awards, I would like to mention some games that I still have not played, but are on my must play list for the future. I have not played these games, and therefore are ineligible for the awards, but come highly recommended and warrant a mention. Top of this list is Dungeon Lords, the novel turn on events where the player takes the role of the evil mastermind instead of the heroic and noble warrior. Second on the list is Carson Cityfor which I can see a game in my future and thirdly is the game Tom Vassal dropped from a two story roof to demonstrate his contempt for another trading game, Vasco da Gama. These three seem reasonably accessible and all rank in the top 150, and I look forward to playing them. I would also love to try some lower ranked titles like Alea Iacta Est (735), and Opera(1031) which both intrigued me for mechanical and thematic reasons.

I have made an award in four categories with honourable mentions and a grand award. The categories warrant some explanation. There are two key awards, one for the gamers game of the year and another for the general game of the year. To my mind the gamers game is likely to be heavier and more difficult to step into cold. The general game, in contrast may be a little lighter, more accessible to new players and may be able to be played by a wider range of people like families. These equate well to the new Spiel De Jahres categories. The third category is for innovation and the fourth is for the unsung hero, a game you may have missed but is well worth your while.

General game of 2009: Some of you may be expecting Small World to take this easily, but instead I went with home grown talent and selected Endeavor as the winner. You could argue it is too heavy to be played by a broad range of people, but this game had eight plays for me in 2010, and is a credit to the Jarratt and Carl some of Wellingtons finest. Honourable mentions go to Jaipur, a quick two player game with that right balance of luck and strategy and Tobago, an innovative treasure hunting game where playing narrow down the location of treasure by progressively contributing to describing where it might be.

Gamers game of 2009: Many times it is the innovative game that takes the cake, but in this case it is the exceptional application of well known euro mechanics in Hansa Teutonicathat wins the day. It provides multiple paths to victory, strategic planning, and requires an element of judgement in selecting a) what action represents the best value and b) when to stops building your engine and start running it. It is a close to perfect euro, its just a shame the theme and art leave something to be desired. Honourable mentions go to Macaoand Steam. In Macao Stefan Feld has adopted an innovative dice mechanic and combined it with long term planning to produce and excellent game that I want to play more. Steam on the other hand takes the beautiful Age of Steamsystem and streamlines it for a wider audience. Foolishly I will dogidly hold onto my copy of Age of Steam but will always play it if it is pulled out.

Innovative game of 2009: The innovative game of 2009 comes to me by recommendation and I have watched some demo’s of String Railways. The distribution was terrible and the print run low which is why it is difficult to find ( I have never seen a copy in this country), but it it did something new by allowing you to make your own game board progressively using string. Very clever, I hope I get to experience it even once. Perhaps once would be enough, who really knows, but it is certainly a talking point and makes a novel collectable piece uin your collection

Unsung hero of 2009: The award goes to Power Grid Factory Manageralthough I can the protests even now. But after the initial hype of a new Powergrid product the chatter on Factory Manager really took a tumble and people went off the complexity it involved. You can be lazy in Powergrid and still enjoy yourself, but factory manager demands that you furrow your brow and concentrate for the duration. It has a very special mechanism for purchasing components for your factory where being first gives you first auction but also limits your ability to influence what will be in the auction. This disjoint is fantastic. Increadibly there are 34 games from 2009 ranked higher than this on the BGG lists which is why it is my unsung hero.

GAME OF THE YEAR 2009: Endeavor

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Andrew Rae
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I might also add, that in years to come 2009 will not be remembered as a fantastic year. Neither will it be remembered for a particular title like Dominion or Pandemic; I will begrudingly admit Endeavor is not of that class . Yet the depth in the quality of the titles really signalled a change to my mind. It signalled that the market had significantly developed and heaps of new publishers were being seen on the scene. The quantity of quality is a step up I believe. It is also special in that it is the calm before the storm of electronic products, and more importantly the communities acceptance of electronics as a part of the board gaming hobby once again. Do you agree or disagree?
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Simon Woodward
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Best Light Game of 2009: Snow Tails
Best Filler of 2009: Unnamed Object (oops, wrong year)
Best Card Game of 2009: Archaeology: The Card Game
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Alex Grant
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I thought 2009 was a fantastic year.

* My favourite train game - Steam.
* Two great economic games - Automobile and Homesteaders (the second edition of which has just been released and features MUCH better components).
* One of the few Ameritrash games I actually like - Summoner Wars, which is perfect for a lunchtime confrontation and has spawned a slew of expansions.
* One of my most played games from last year - FITS. Not my favourite but very popular and very easy to get into.
* A remake/expansion to an old favourite of mine - Arena: Roma II - harking back to when Stefan Feld designed games that were fun.
* My favourite party game - Telestrations.
* The athemetic but fast and fun Hansa Teutonica. So many different routes to victory.
* My second favourite speed game (after Jungle Speed) - 7 Ate 9. If this takes five minutes you're playing too slowly.
* The gruellingly arithemetic-intensive but very good Baltimore & Ohio.
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Bishop of East Anglia
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alexgrant wrote:
I thought 2009 was a fantastic year.



I'm not so sure it was a bad year either

Power Struggle
Dungeon Lords
Havana
The Resistance
Tobago
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Gareth Reynolds
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Games released in 2009
I haven't played a great deal of those games. The Resistance and Tobago are the two I found most enjoyable. With more plays I think Power Grid: Factory Manager and Power Struggle could rate as highly but they aren't as easy to get into. I'd also like to be able to play Macao again, the only game I played most of us were learning so things dragged and I didn't understand how things worked together.
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Michael Saggers
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My top two from 2009 would be Summoner Wars and Chaos in the Old World.
For trash lovers like me, there's your Game of the Year and Gamer's Game of the Year right there.

Honourable mentions: Cyclades, The Resistance, Claustrophobia and Warhammer: Invasion.

I would also give a shout-out to reprints Space Hulk (third edition) and Tales of the Arabian Nights.

P.S. I've only played Endeavor a couple of times, but quite enjoyed the games I played.
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Dean Adam
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perhaps a little bit of a red herring, but checking out my friendless stats, 2006 is the only year where all the games I own from that year (4) have 10+ plays. In comparison 2009 has 5 games played 10+ times, but to be fair intrigue has been played 43 times since I started recording, Seaside 40, so its quite a step up.... so all up 12 games/expansions from 2009 and none I'd totally give up on, the jambo 2nd expansion still hasn't had a lot of love, but most of the others show hopes of good games....

Carson City is definitely popular whenever it gets played - and yes, we'll indulge you sometime Andrew I can see it slowly climbing up my popular game rankings.

I guess that's a bit different to 'best of the year', but having started my game adventure in 2009/10, few others of the 2009 have really hit me as must own games...

Tales of the Arabian Nights has tempted me a couple of times, I would like to play Endevour, but prob not own it, and I do like Summoner Wars, but again, prob not a game that would get much air time in my collection.
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Dean Adam
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manukajoe wrote:
Best Light Game of 2009: Snow Tails
Best Filler of 2009: Unnamed Object
Best Card Game of 2009: Archaeology: The Card Game


Simon, isnt Incan Gold 2006?
 
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Simon Woodward
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moonglow wrote:
manukajoe wrote:
Best Light Game of 2009: Snow Tails
Best Filler of 2009: Unnamed Object
Best Card Game of 2009: Archaeology: The Card Game


Simon, isnt Incan Gold 2006?


Oh right, the Gryphon Games edition is 2009. Diamante is even older, 2005.
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Dean Adam
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manukajoe wrote:
moonglow wrote:
manukajoe wrote:
Best Light Game of 2009: Snow Tails
Best Filler of 2009: Unnamed Object
Best Card Game of 2009: Archaeology: The Card Game


Simon, isnt Incan Gold 2006?


Oh right, the Gryphon Games edition is 2009. Diamante is even older, 2005.


Weird, mine is showing up as 2006?!!
 
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David
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Nothing in this 2009 list really stood out for me at all. I thought Carson City was fun and would happily play again. The Resistance only got a few plays so the jury is still out. Tried Small World and didn't think much of it at all (and by the way, it's not a wargame). Bought and sold Summoner Wars, thought it was quite lame. Haven't played Claustrophobia but that looks like it was a 2009 winner. On the bright side us wargamers got Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943, D-Day at Omaha Beach and some other good ones.
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Dean Adam
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Snowman wrote:
Nothing in this 2009 list really stood out for me at all. I thought Carson City was fun and would happily play again. The Resistance only got a few plays so the jury is still out. Tried Small World and didn't think much of it at all (and by the way, it's not a wargame). Bought and sold Summoner Wars, thought it was quite lame. Haven't played Claustrophobia but that looks like it was a 2009 winner. On the bright side us wargamers got Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943, D-Day at Omaha Beach and some other good ones.


Claustrophobia is pretty cool - I've got Natdog's copy here and will play it any chance I get. Anyone who wants to come around sing out

Didn't find Summoner wars lame though, had a nice sense of tension and competitiveness, like the asymmetry and sense of timing/pace.
 
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Bishop of East Anglia
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citylife wrote:
I might also add, that in years to come 2009 will not be remembered as a fantastic year. Neither will it be remembered for a particular title like Dominion or Pandemic; I will degrudingly admit Endeavor is not of that class . Yet the depth in the quality of the titles really signalled a change to my mind. It signalled that the market had significantly developed and heaps of new publishers were being seen on the scene. The quantity of quality is a step up I believe. It is also special in that it is the calm before the storm of electronic products, and more importantly the communities acceptance of electronics as a part of the board gaming hobby once again. Do you agree or disagree?


It should be remembered for Power Struggle but the game was rushed to Essen and the rules were gibberish so it had a terrible launch. it's a fantastic game- once you get the rewritten rules.
I suspect it might be remember for Summoner Wars, or The Resistance.
 
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Ian Anderson
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2009 Games
I played 22 different 2009 games and expansions (and own 3).

Jaipur is the most played game (15 plays), Masters Gallery comes second with 14 plays.

I'm indecisive about which is the best of the 2009 games. Among the heavier games I'm tossing up between: Power Grid: Factory Manager, Vasco da Gama and Automobile. Among the 'family' games, its a toss up between: Tobago and Finca. But as it is a short, fun, two-player game, I'm sure Jaipur will dominate the number of plays for 2009 games. On the other hand none of the 2009 games make my top 10.

I wanted to love MegaCorps but after 2 plays I'm not sure I could face it again. May be there is something with Hansa Teutonica that I'm missing but it didn't spark with me either.

The other 2009 games I played were: Valdora, Endeavor, Steam, Railways of England and Wales, The Resistance, Carson City, Shipyard, Pandemic: On the Brink, Roll Through the Ages: The Late Bronze Age, Chicago Express: Narrow Gauge & Erie Railroad Company, My First Carcassonne, De Kolonisten van de Lage Landen and Dominion: Intrigue.

Macao is the 2009 game I am still looking forward to playing.
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Gordon Roach
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@ Andrew - Will be bringing Carson City to Mini-Wellycon, a great game.

Dominion is technically 2009 according to BGG, so that ruins my most played game of the 2009 club.

G
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Bishop of East Anglia
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I'm, I'm afraid there's been a mistake. The man who has been speaking to you is an impostor. He is not in fact the Bishop of East Anglia, but a man wanted by the police. I am the Bishop of East Anglia and anyone who doesn't believe me can look me up
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Cmdr_G wrote:
@ Andrew - Will be bringing Carson City to Mini-Wellycon, a great game.

Dominion is technically 2009 according to BGG, so that ruins my most played game of the 2009 club.

G


I have Dominion as 2008
 
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Gareth Reynolds
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SamNzed wrote:
Cmdr_G wrote:
@ Andrew - Will be bringing Carson City to Mini-Wellycon, a great game.
Dominion is technically 2009 according to BGG, so that ruins my most played game of the 2009 club.
G

I have Dominion as 2008
Dominion is 2008, Dominion: Intrigue is 2009. According to the advanced search I linked above.
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Steven De Toni
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Carson City .... the best of the Westerns? Also has a separate puzzle element in trying to fit the game back in the box after play.
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John Groen
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For me 2009 might not have had a lot of good games but the games I did like I would still be happy to play today.

Rated 8.5
Thunderstone
Chaos in the Old World
Small World

Rated 8
The Resistance
Steam
Cyclades

Rated 7.5
Tobago
Tales of the Arabian Nights
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Gordon Roach
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Quote:
Carson City .... the best of the Westerns? Also has a separate puzzle element in trying to fit the game back in the box after play.


I find no problem reboxing it. Maybe mine is a later addition. I use lots of bags.


Like a number of you I find 2009 a dry year overall, perhaps that is why the few games I have and play from that year to be the exception.

The Resistance requires the right people to play, its a social experience which I like yet most of our group do not.

Carson City is well liked. Added the Indian and the designer startup and she is really good.

I think from my collection that 2008 was a better year than 2009.


G
 
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David and Natalie
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I'm interested by the lack of a mention of Railways Of The World. I really enjoyed this game, particularly Railways Of England And Wales.

Other popular titles from 2009 among our group are The Resistance, Tobago, and Endeavor. I played the latter again last night, and after a poor start, I managed to attack my way into 2nd place.
 
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Chaos in the Old World is superior to anything put out in 2009, and has had a decent amount of staying power as well (in both Euro and AT circles). Hellenes: Campaigns of the Peloponnesian War is also a superior game - the fact that it's a niche game doesn't affect, one way or another, it's quality.
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Dean Adam
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sdetoni wrote:
Carson City .... the best of the Westerns? Also has a separate puzzle element in trying to fit the game back in the box after play.


totally! Its kinda the antithesis of the 'omg these boxes are too big complaint'!!
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Bishop of East Anglia
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I'm, I'm afraid there's been a mistake. The man who has been speaking to you is an impostor. He is not in fact the Bishop of East Anglia, but a man wanted by the police. I am the Bishop of East Anglia and anyone who doesn't believe me can look me up
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Cmdr_G wrote:
@ Andrew - Will be bringing Carson City to Mini-Wellycon, a great game.



I've heard mixed things about Carson City.

what do you like about it?
 
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