At the end of the year, we all see the inevitable "best of" and "top 10" lists. So, here's a place to post those links to lists that are well-done and to share our thoughts and absolute favorites, as game designers and players.

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2011 PICKS AND PLAYS FROM THE ORIGINAL FORUM

My titles:

Our family just discovered Loot—a simple but clever card game involving pirates and ships. You only get one play per turn, so the action happens fast, and yet the strategy (launch a ship? defend a ship? attack a ship?) is challenging.

We tried The Road to Canterbury (new kickstarted game), but haven’t quite become immersed in it. We’ll tackle it again, when we have more time to sift through rules. It's about the seven deadly sins, of course, and the artwork and theme are strong.

Here’s a list of 2011 notables, from the San Francisco Gate (Joshua Kosman—the music critic), along with a list of retail outlets for games in the Bay Area, if that’s where you live: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/04/PKUS1M3...

In addition to a couple of classic reboots (Risk Legacy, Catan, Battleship Galaxies), there are a few fresh ideas here. Has anyone played The Resistance?

The Resistance (Indie, $19.95; 5-10 players; age 13+; 30 min.) This magnificent game of deduction and deception isn’t your usual party fare, but for anyone with a taste for brain teasers, it’s utterly indispensable. (It almost derailed the completion of this article, because we kept cutting our testing sessions short to squeeze in another round or two.) The Resistance is a variant on a game many know as Mafia or Werewolf, in which players are secretly divided into two teams – in this case the valorous Resistance and the subversive Spies – and try to smoke each other out. What sets it apart is that the teams are pursuing a concrete task, respectively trying to complete or undermine secret missions. So players have concrete information for their deliberations, and (unlike in Mafia) everyone stays in the game until the end. Granted, those who don’t like Mafia won’t like this much better, but for those who do, it makes a good game into something great.

Here’s Scott Nicholson’s playtest of Risk Legacy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXabdXWEPG8 Truthfully, it makes me a little lukewarm on it. Two players only got one turn apiece in the first round? But, the concept is compelling—a strategy/territory game that changes, permanently. Anyone else played it?

List of 14 board games to “learn strategy and failing.” http://list.ly/list/YF-board-games-to-play-with-kids-to-learn-strat... (from List.ly, which Nick Kellet is part of)

Several people mentioned 7 Wonders and Jack Everitt also chimed in with Mouse Guard (RPG).

Rob Masson offers a top 10 list:

Well I have had a chance to get a fair amount of Gaming in over the Holidays and also had an opportunity to reflect on the year of gaming behind us. I am a member of a regular meeting Gaming Guild and we have been submitting our colelctive thoughts about the games we liked, disliked and plans for the coming year.. Here is a link:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/743752/the-year-in-review-looki...

In terms of my favorite games in 2011 there are several, most are classics:

1/ Dungeon Lords
2/ Age of Steam
3/ Power Grid
4/ Automobile
5/ Twilight Imperium III
6/ Outpost (FINALLY GOT REPRINTED!! WOOT!!!)
7/ Rails of New England
8/ Brass
9/ Through The Ages
10/ 7 Wonders

In addition this year I returned to RPGing and have been dusting off all my D&D Gear. I also have been reading up on The Laundry a new system about the Laundry Series books from Charles Stross, Delta Green and dusting of my Call of Cthulhu materials. There seems to be sustained interest in Tabletop Gaming which I am planning on exploring and writing about this year.

For me I like strongly themed games with an Economic Engine Aspect and DL has both of these in spades! It is a very fun but hard game to do well in since there is so much to balance (which is also typical of most Wallace games). DL is particularly interesting in that there really are two separate games.. You spend 4 turns making your dungeon and then you have 4 rounds of combat with the adventurers. What is amazing is how well the two games mesh.

7 Wonders finished lower for me because although it was fun and well-themed some of the mechanics (card passing) seemed simply gimmicky. I thought this was a nice alternative to playing Through The Ages and had depth enough to make it replayable but not as deep as many of the other games we play regularly.

I replied:

Strongly themed, economic engine—just played Airships at a board game demo night. Interesting use of dice, could be streamlined a bit. I liked it, but after a while, you focus more on the number values (on dice, on cards) than on the really cool airships that you’re building. Nice art.

Danielle Marchand said:

Over the holidays I became addicted to Spot It. It is a card game that can be played multiple ways. Too much fun! http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/63268/spot-it

I added:

Nice article on a family that has made 2012 “The Year of the Board Game” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/article-404-15315-youve-made-me-thin... And seriously needs some suggestions for updating and expanding their game closet.

Mika Oja rounded out the list with:

I would have to raise one above all: the new Lord of the Rings living card game by Fantasy Flight Games. It’s a rather surprising combination of a collectible card game and cooperative gameplay. Highly thematic and overall great fun played with friends. Works great solo as well. I’ve written a more thorough opinion of it here: http://sidelineshouting.blogspot.com/2011/10/lord-of-rings-living-c...

Another game I played a lot last year was Ascension, which is mostly “yet another Dominion” but has the important twist of not having a fixed randomize-at-beginning store of cards. The game has an automatically replenishing row of six cards which are available for purchase. It also mixes in another resource type which is used for defeating monsters instead of buying cards.

2010 FAVES AND PICKS

I said:

Each December, I treat myself to a board game for my collection. This year, I bought four: Word on the Street (I teach ESL), Bang!, Gentlemen of the South Sandwiche Islands, and 10 Days in the Americas (my sister teaches geography).

Here are Cracked magazines “too awesome to exist” list of 17 board games: http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_199_17-board-games-too-awesome-t...

How about you? Any exciting finds?

Kenny said:

I had a friend Get Agricola for Christmas and i found it to be really fun. It comes with like a standard style for learning and a more complicated version that adds a lot of deminsion. It involves building a farm and everything involved in that. Pretty intriguing and round based so over in a set time time.

Rob Masson replied:

Agricola is a TREMENDOUS game! We find it scales very well for various number of players (a feat hard to do for most Boardgames). I am also a huge fan of Le Havre and The Gates of Loyang when carry on the Farming / Trade Theme.

Lately my group has been playing “A Few Acres of Snow” by Martin Wallace which is a combination of a Wargame (English vs. French for control of the New Colonies in North America) with a Card-Game / Deck Building Mechanic that allows you to expand your colony, conduct raids and sieges, etc. It is a very interesting and fun mechanic and the board is simply beautiful!

7 Wonders is a lot of fun! I recommend. For a little deeper game play I also recommend Through the Ages. It uses a card mechanism and a Tableaux Mgmt mechanic to simulate managing your own civilization, technology advancements, leaders, etc. Very fun!

Jack Everitt replied:

Btw, first game of 7 Wonders took 90 minutes to play. (Poorly written/organized rule book.) The rest have taken about 20 minutes each. I love fast games that are this good!

I do enjoy Roll Through The Ages a lot, too. Roll through the Ages uses something akin to a cribbidge board (for play, not scoring)…it’s cool.

Unnamed person said:

I played Power Grid for the first time last year, I hadn’t before because the description of the game and setting didn’t appeal to me at all. Then I played it and realized why it’s so highly rated over at BoardGameGeek…fairly easy to get into but has a lot of depth, the thing that really struck me though is how self-balancing the mechanics were.

Masis P added:

Top game we first played in 2010? I’d definitely have to give it to Space Alert.

Top game made in 2010? Maybe Alien Frontiers? I haven’t played any that are any better, haha.

Neither are particularly educational though, but Space Alert has an awesome team building aspect to it, it requires a lot of coordination and communication, and a lot of spatial memory/thinking practice. It’s pretty awesome.

Alien Frontiers is just a dice rolling resource management/worker placement sort of game. Not super educational either, unless you want to think really hard about probabilities :P

I’ve been meaning to pick up Word on the Street, it looks like so much fun! Haha, I think that’s awesome that you get to use board games in your classroom.

Game writer Kurt McClung said:

I like several of the Eurogame Publisher, Tilsit. Notably Dice Town and Utopia.

Paste Magazine's Top 5 Board games of 2011:

http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2011/12/five-of-2011s-nifties...

I've been following the Risk story, but how about these others? Who's played them?

Quarriors

A Few Acres of Snow

Kingdom Builder

Blood Bowl

Risk Legacy



Lorraine Hopping Egan said:

2011 PICKS AND PLAYS FROM THE ORIGINAL FORUM

My titles:

Our family just discovered Loot—a simple but clever card game involving pirates and ships. You only get one play per turn, so the action happens fast, and yet the strategy (launch a ship? defend a ship? attack a ship?) is challenging.

We tried The Road to Canterbury (new kickstarted game), but haven’t quite become immersed in it. We’ll tackle it again, when we have more time to sift through rules. It's about the seven deadly sins, of course, and the artwork and theme are strong.

Here’s a list of 2011 notables, from the San Francisco Gate (Joshua Kosman—the music critic), along with a list of retail outlets for games in the Bay Area, if that’s where you live: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/04/PKUS1M3...

In addition to a couple of classic reboots (Risk Legacy, Catan, Battleship Galaxies), there are a few fresh ideas here. Has anyone played The Resistance?

The Resistance (Indie, $19.95; 5-10 players; age 13+; 30 min.) This magnificent game of deduction and deception isn’t your usual party fare, but for anyone with a taste for brain teasers, it’s utterly indispensable. (It almost derailed the completion of this article, because we kept cutting our testing sessions short to squeeze in another round or two.) The Resistance is a variant on a game many know as Mafia or Werewolf, in which players are secretly divided into two teams – in this case the valorous Resistance and the subversive Spies – and try to smoke each other out. What sets it apart is that the teams are pursuing a concrete task, respectively trying to complete or undermine secret missions. So players have concrete information for their deliberations, and (unlike in Mafia) everyone stays in the game until the end. Granted, those who don’t like Mafia won’t like this much better, but for those who do, it makes a good game into something great.

Here’s Scott Nicholson’s playtest of Risk Legacy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXabdXWEPG8 Truthfully, it makes me a little lukewarm on it. Two players only got one turn apiece in the first round? But, the concept is compelling—a strategy/territory game that changes, permanently. Anyone else played it?

List of 14 board games to “learn strategy and failing.” http://list.ly/list/YF-board-games-to-play-with-kids-to-learn-strat... (from List.ly, which Nick Kellet is part of)

Several people mentioned 7 Wonders and Jack Everitt also chimed in with Mouse Guard (RPG).

Rob Masson offers a top 10 list:

Well I have had a chance to get a fair amount of Gaming in over the Holidays and also had an opportunity to reflect on the year of gaming behind us. I am a member of a regular meeting Gaming Guild and we have been submitting our colelctive thoughts about the games we liked, disliked and plans for the coming year.. Here is a link:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/743752/the-year-in-review-looki...

In terms of my favorite games in 2011 there are several, most are classics:

1/ Dungeon Lords
2/ Age of Steam
3/ Power Grid
4/ Automobile
5/ Twilight Imperium III
6/ Outpost (FINALLY GOT REPRINTED!! WOOT!!!)
7/ Rails of New England
8/ Brass
9/ Through The Ages
10/ 7 Wonders

In addition this year I returned to RPGing and have been dusting off all my D&D Gear. I also have been reading up on The Laundry a new system about the Laundry Series books from Charles Stross, Delta Green and dusting of my Call of Cthulhu materials. There seems to be sustained interest in Tabletop Gaming which I am planning on exploring and writing about this year.

For me I like strongly themed games with an Economic Engine Aspect and DL has both of these in spades! It is a very fun but hard game to do well in since there is so much to balance (which is also typical of most Wallace games). DL is particularly interesting in that there really are two separate games.. You spend 4 turns making your dungeon and then you have 4 rounds of combat with the adventurers. What is amazing is how well the two games mesh.

7 Wonders finished lower for me because although it was fun and well-themed some of the mechanics (card passing) seemed simply gimmicky. I thought this was a nice alternative to playing Through The Ages and had depth enough to make it replayable but not as deep as many of the other games we play regularly.

I replied:

Strongly themed, economic engine—just played Airships at a board game demo night. Interesting use of dice, could be streamlined a bit. I liked it, but after a while, you focus more on the number values (on dice, on cards) than on the really cool airships that you’re building. Nice art.

Danielle Marchand said:

Over the holidays I became addicted to Spot It. It is a card game that can be played multiple ways. Too much fun! http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/63268/spot-it

I added:

Nice article on a family that has made 2012 “The Year of the Board Game” http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/article-404-15315-youve-made-me-thin... And seriously needs some suggestions for updating and expanding their game closet.

Mika Oja rounded out the list with:

I would have to raise one above all: the new Lord of the Rings living card game by Fantasy Flight Games. It’s a rather surprising combination of a collectible card game and cooperative gameplay. Highly thematic and overall great fun played with friends. Works great solo as well. I’ve written a more thorough opinion of it here: http://sidelineshouting.blogspot.com/2011/10/lord-of-rings-living-c...

Another game I played a lot last year was Ascension, which is mostly “yet another Dominion” but has the important twist of not having a fixed randomize-at-beginning store of cards. The game has an automatically replenishing row of six cards which are available for purchase. It also mixes in another resource type which is used for defeating monsters instead of buying cards.

Shadows in the Woods, a game you play in the dark, on a 3D board with "trees" to hide behind, with a lit candle as a playing piece. The goal is to position your piece so that the candle's light doesn't "freeze" it or to position the candle so that it hits and freezes the maximum number of pieces. So clever! Europe only.

Anyone played this?

http://boingboing.net/2012/07/19/shadows-in-the-woods-candleli.html

A top ten list of favorite board game apps—by an illustrator for The Simpsons. board game apps I admit I don't see the point of apps (solitary player) and board games, but maybe I'm missing something?

Paste magazine has posted its 10 Best Board Games of 2012.

Qin, Lords of Waterdeep, Agents of SHMERSH, Star Trek Catan (really?), Dungeon Command, Fleet, Manhattan Project, Star Wars X-Wings Miniatures, Mice and Mystics, Seasons (at #1).

Do you agree? What are your picks? Other (better?) "best of lists" that you've found?

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