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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Hmmm, end of year awards. I can do that. However, unlike the previous posters I'm not going to have a game of the year. I find it very hard to pick out a single game as my favorite varies from week to week and I like too many of them to identify any one game as an absolute favorite. So, here's some categories....

Best gaming moment
Going to Essen. I've thought long about going, almost didn't go, but I'm sure glad I did. I plan on going each year now.

Best game I played at Essen
OK, despite the above, the first category is a 'favorite game'. This is over a short enough period that I can have a favorite. There were a few games I played that I really enjoyed, Caylus and Kaivai being the two favorites. I played a full game of Caylus at the hotel in the evening and came in joint last. I played only a half game of Kaivai at the fair, but it was enough to like it and buy it. I've since played Caylus a few times, and really enjoy it. I've only had one abortive effort at playing Kaivai, and we had to abandon it because I'd missed one very important rule. I'm not going to pick between these two, joint winners.

Least favorite game I played at Essen
There were a few in this category, Socks in the City and Railroad Dice 2. SitC is a stick laying game to connect the pairs of socks which I played with Morgan and then a second game with KC. Both times there just didn't seem to be any real strategy or excitement, join look for the shortest route and place your sticks. Came in a cute sock, however. RD2 just seemed to be the luck of the dice, and if you were caught where you needed white dice and there were only orange left then you were screwed and there was little you could do. Overall the winner here is SitC, if only because I've already played it twice, where I need to give RD2 another go.

Best game I was disposed not to like prior to playing it
Railroad Tycoon was much ballyhooed as Age of Steam lite. Given that AoS is one of my favorites that didn't make it sound good, and in fact, I didn't even look at it when in Essen. One look at all those big pieces and it just screamed 'kid's toy!' Anyway, I finally played it and it's a very good game. With experienced players it can finish in 90 minutes, which is decent. If only it wasn't so huge and the boards didn't warp, and the colors were better done....

Biggest rip off of the year
This goes to Diamant, an OK push your luck game. It comes with a whole bunch of unnecessary components (we didn't bother with them on any of the copies I've played) and charges you $25 (discount price).

Biggest drop of in interest
This belongs to Shadows Over Camelot. When you first open it you are overawed by the production, with beautiful components. Then you play it and it's fun. Then you play it some more and you find that there really aren't that many decisions to make. Your turn is often short and quite boring. I'd prefer to play something else.

Most boring game experience
This had to be Boggle at a recent game session. I just can't see the patterns in word games, and with 6 players the chances of me scoring anything are minimal. And so it was in this game. At least the company was good.

I just don't understand why everyone likes this game
Two candidates here, Candamir and Friedrich. I've played Candamir twice and it's been a fairly boring 2 hours each time. Luck of the draw in which tiles you look at. Luck of the draw in which cards you draw. Luck of the die rolls in which quests (or whatever the correct term is). The only player interaction is in that another play may go for the tile that you were thinking of going for. One of the few games on my 'Prefer not to play' list. Friedrich also has large problems with luck of the draw, but it adds massively asymmetric player involvement. Both the French and Russian/Swedish players have ~5% of the game play, and it's incredibly boring to have spent your 2 minutes in the past hour (4 turns) maneuvering just to find that the Prussian player has drawn better cards than you and your army disappears. Yay! At least Friedrich might be better with only 3 players.

The 'Man I hate this game, can we play again, please?' award
This just has to go to Doom: The Boardgame. I've played about 4 times and also bought it. I think it's more to do with the challenge of beating the aliens than anything else, but I do like the dice mechanism. The kids also liked this one, but every time I play and get killed I want to play again.

The 'I like this game. Oh, did I win again?' award
This has to go to Power Grid. I played this 3 times this year and won all of them. By Cooley's Law this must make it my favorite game. Even without winning, this is one of my '4' rating games. ('4' is my top rating.)

The 'Yes, I know I won, but I still don't like this game' award
This category is just made for Adel Verflichtet. I didn't like it after the first playing, and I still don't like it after the second, despite winning. Just goes to prove that Cooley's Law doesn't always hold.

Game I hardly played all year, but wish I'd played more
One of my favorite games is Bus, but it only managed to hit the table once all year. Then again, that was an epic struggle against KC, and I was sure he had the win sewn up, but I managed to swing it by only a point or two. Must play Bus more.

The 'Less than the sum of its parts' award
This award goes to Heart of Africa. All the mechanisms sounded interesting, but when we played it just fell flat as a pancake with everyone. It just didn't work as a game. No real interest in giving it a second go, either.

The 'OK, I played it again and it still sucks' award
Nur Peanuts was an immediate thumbs down the first time I played it at Doug's, and the second outing was no different. I'm not sure what it is about this one, but it's just totally bleagh.

Favorite weird game that Dave brought along
Dave certainly introduces some, uh, different games. The least said about Moby Pick the better, but Farfalia was an interesting little card game. I'd sure be willing to play it some more. (Hint, hint)

Prototypes that I wish were published games
KC has a few prototypes that I really enjoy playing, deeper strategy games which are more my preference than Havoc, although it's still an enjoyable game. I'd sure like to see them in print. Especially Edenburgh. I still like that title.... :) (Although the badger game was fun.)

Prototypes that I'm really glad aren't published games
Then again, there is one of KC's that needs a lot of work. The theme just didn't work as it would have taken about 3 hours to fully play, and by cutting it down to time just killed the theme for me. We all offered suggestions on potential improvements, but I don't know what happened to it.

The 'OK, I've lost count how many times I've played this and I still don't like it' award
The winner in this category is Frank's Zoo. Not sure what it is about this game, but I find it fairly tedious. Unfortunately when you've got a half dozen people and only 30 minutes left in the evening it's one of the few games that get played. Ho hum.

Best gaming decision
Two contenders in this category, going to Essen and joining SimplyFun. Tough choice on this one. Essen was a total blast and I'm making it a budget priority to go every year. SimplyFun is one way to help pay for going to Essen, but I'm more interested in bring games to the masses, and it's a great way to do just that. In the end I'll wimp out and declare them joint winners.

And there you have it. This will be my last post on this blog, so very best wishes to everyone for the new year, and go play some games.


  • At 12:08 PM, Blogger Jeff Wauer said…

    Regarding your 'Game I hardly played all year, but wish I'd played more'...Bus sounds like a game that I would love, but I have not had an opportunity to try it out, and some of the comments I have read on the Geek and Funagain sites have left me a bit concerned about the clock rules and their effect on game play. What I've read so far has left me on the fence about buying a copy for myself without playing first. I'd love to read further comments from you about the game and in particular your thoughts about the 'stopping time' rules.


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