It sure is hard to go next-to-last in this process, having read everyone else’s posts. KC has it even harder!
I’m not sure how to assess the quality of the year overall – I’m sure someone will find an analytic process using ratings from the geek to compare this year with prior years. My gut feeling is that it was a mediocre year – I couldn’t arrive at a top 10 and I think only 3–4 of my top 5 have true staying power. I’m not including Havoc: the Hundred Years War in any of this analysis because, well, I’m a bit biased. I am thrilled that Paul Tevis named it his game of the year – KC should be very proud of his baby.
Without further delay, here are some favorites of the year. First, my top 5 games for 2005.
Top 5 Games of the Year
5. Caylus – A very good game, this would score higher if it didn’t feel a bit longish. It is also a bit too abstract to be of much interest with the boys, so it has been difficult to get out at home. I’m still hoping to try a two-player game with Julie at some point. Four plays this year.
4. Parthenon: Rise of the Aegean – It didn’t make my number one slot as I predicted, but this is an excellent game of you like empire building with light trading and minimal direct conflict between players. Three plays this year.
3. Indonesia – This splotter release has some of the typical component problems found in their games – a highly stylized board that gets in the way of easy interpretation of the map, but other than that I think this is an excellent game and hope to see it come out this weekend. I played it twice so far this year and playing time got down to about 3 hours, but I felt the time was worth it.
2. Antike – In contrast to Indonesia, Antike has one of the best designed boards (human factors-wise) I’ve seen in a while. Very limited downtime and easy to teach/understand rules leads to a great playing experience for a conquest game. Two plays this year.
1. Railroad Tycoon – Finally a heavier train game that is themed well enough for my kids to get interested! The components I give a B-, with my biggest complaint being the blue/purple issues on the map board. There’s also a decent amount of chaos introduced by the cards, but that makes it more interesting to the kids so I’ll let that slide too. Great game and one I think will come out for years to come. Three plays this year.
Since I spent a decent amount of time playing family/party games this year, here’s a list of my favorite releases in 2005.
Top 5 Family / Party Games
5. Walk the Dogs – Great components and a nice intro game for kids and adults alike. Not enough there to hold my interest in the long term, this is still a nice diversion.
4. Pickomino – My favorite quicky filler of the year, this is a press-your-luck dice and domino game with which I’ve had success introducing to kids.
3. Manila – Hmmm, family game or strategy game? It’s both! I like this betting game and think it is light enough to fall into this category.
2. Eye to Eye – Similar to some other party games I’ve played in the past (Scattergories), there’s enough in this game that’s unique to make it worth picking up. Add to that a Jr. version that is more age appropriate for kids and you’ve got a great game system.
1. Wits and Wagers – This wins the prize for creativity and fun factor. The game includes a very innovative scoring system for a trivia game making it easy for the trivia challenged to have fun.
Now for some more miscellaneous awards / thoughts.
Game I Bought That I Wish I Had Played
Manifest Destiny – Seeing this on Doug’s list makes me even more frustrated that I didn’t get to play this year. I missed an opportunity at Game Storm last year to try it, but won’t let that chance slide this year. Close second is Byzantium, but I still have a chance to squeeze that in before the new year starts.
Jacob’s (age 11) Favorite Game
Railroad Tycoon – This was an easy choice for him, and he’s won the only full game he’s played so far this year.
Matthew’s (age 9) Favorite Game
Shadows Over Camelot – Dripping with theme, this cooperative game easily takes the prize for Matthew.
Julie’s Favorite Game
Ticket to Ride: Europe – This barely missed my top five list.
What I’m Most Looking Forward to in 2006
Hmmm, let’s have a look-see at Gone Cardboard. Ahhh, some nice goodies coming next year. Here’s my list in no particular order:
- Ticket to Ride: Marklin
- Sid Meier’s Pirates!
- Age of Empires III
- The to-be-announced game from Sunriver Games. OK, I couldn’t resist.
Have a happy new year y’all!