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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Monday, December 26, 2005

Eric's Gaming Awards (EGA) for 2005

As 2005 progressed, less and less time was available for gaming, and gaming related activities. Particularly in November and December. As a result, I'm not as up-to-date on all the newest buzz as some of the people you might read over the next couple weeks. For example, I don't know why Caylus is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and I don't know why it's not. That being said, though, I've got my own categories for my 2005 awards.

Note: these awards don't necessarily go to games released in 2005, but more likely than not, they will.

Most played 2-player game


As typical, De Bellis Multitudinis (DBM) was my most played 2-player game this year, with 23 plays. Nearly all of those were in four different tournaments, with a few pick-up games long the way. I would not be surprised to have this fall off the #1 spot next year. The time just isn't going to be there. Runners up: San Juan, St. Petersburg, 6 Nimmt!, Bohnanza.

Most played multiplayer game



I don't track 2-player vs. multiplayer sessions, so I might actually have this one wrong. However, I think it's Shadows over Camelot. Our work group got hooked on it right after it was released, then we got busy, and it hasn't hit the table at work since. It did get played quite a bit, though. Runners up: Tanz der Hornochsen, Geschenkt, Modern Art, Wyatt Earp

Multiplayer game I want to play more (wargame)



This is one that did not go over well in the group the only time it's been played (partly due to play style, partly due to an odd sequence of events), but it went over great in my other playing. Very few negative reviews have ever been posted of this asymmetrical three-or-four player historical game. Friedrich has no real peer, and is unlike any other operational wargame out there. Along with Bonaparte at Marengo, these games break new ground in wargaming. Runners up: Game of Thrones, Sword of Rome, Soldier Kings.

Multiplayer game I want to play more (non-wargame)



Given the myriad of expansions that have started to appear, I think this award for 2005 has to go to Age of Steam. It didn't hit the table much at all this year (in fact, I only logged one playing on any board) but I really need to rectify this. Runners up: Power Grid, In the Shadow of the Emperor, Goa, Roads & Boats.

Pure two-player game I want to play more (non-wargame)



Mostly, these are games I play with Jodie. We occasionally get into ruts, and our schedule has really reduced the amount of time we have for games, not to mentioned reduced the amount of mental energy available. The winner is a game I've only played once, but really enjoyed. I just want to play Pizza Box Football more. I discovered it late in the year, and haven't managed to purchase a copy before Christmas. I'll be correcting that situation soon. Runners up: StreetSoccer, Roma, Jambo.

Pure two-player game I want to play more (wargame)



I don't get to play wargames very much. That's something I really want to change. One particular series has captured much of my attention over the last year, and I really want to play it more often. The Panzer Grenadier series doesn't get anywhere near the exposure of ASL or Lock'n'Load, but it's at a slightly higher scale (each counter represents a platoon, not a squad, allowing the recreation of larger battles) and there's only 12 pages of rules to the basic series. Most scenarios are playable in a day, and many are playable in an evening. They present interesting tactical puzzles to solve, and all the games in the series play very differently. The original game in the series (Eastern Front) has been rereleased with updated graphics, 8 geomorphic maps, and 112 scenarios. That's a LOT of game in a single box. Runners up: Bonaparte at Marengo, Musket & Pike Battle Series, GMT's American Revolution Series, Memoir '44.

Biggest Surprise



When I first saw this game, I thought “yeah, like that'll be any fun.” “Dicefest,”, some people said. “Too simplistic” said others. Then Doug (I think, maybe Chuck?) brought it to our two-player gaming day, and I was convinced. Pizza Box Football is a fun game that gives a surprisingly good feel for being the play-caller for an NFL football team. Just got the expansion for Christmas, and the extra options look like they'll add enough detail to be meaty without changing the level of abstraction too much. Runners up: Geschenkt, Caribbean, Shear Panic, Tanz der Hornochsen.

Biggest Disappointment



It looked like it was going to be a winner. Combination of a top designer with a well-respected publisher starting a new line of games. How could it go wrong? Well, if you've played Palazzo, you know that it just doesn't play like a game you'd expect that is designed by Knizia and published by Alea. It's not necessarily a bad game, per se, but it isn't as good as hoped. Runners up: Shadows over Camelot, Sword and Skull, Manifest Destiny.

New release I'm most eager to play (and haven't)



This one is specifically for 2005 releases I haven't played. There's actually quite a few, as my post-Essen playing time has been rather restricted. Many of these have been played by others in the gaming group at sessions I've missed. I'm going to make it a point to get these games on the table one way or another this coming year. The winner of this category, though, was a surprise Christmas gift, and it's something I just need to play. Indonesia is the latest in the Splotter economic games, and by all accounts it's the cleanest and most streamlined. It's certainly the smallest. I've read through the rules twice in the last couple days and can't wait to play. Runners up: Caylus, Byzantium, Antike, Tempus.

Most important release of 2005



This award isn't for the best game – it's for the release I feel has had, or could end up having, the biggest impact on boardgaming or boardgame publishing. This might not be for the most obvious of reasons. There's a handful of games that come to mind here, and they all have very different reasons for being considered. Arkham Horror, however, has shown us that just because we fondly remember a game doesn't mean that it deserves to be reprinted. I understand the motivation for reprinting these highly sought after games from the past, and Fury of Dracula is due out in 2006, but it became pretty clear after it appeared that there's a reason why it had been out of print for so long. The game is long, fiddly, and just doesn't compare to more recent games. Runners up: Bonaparte at Marengo, Deflexion, Railroad Tycoon, Axis & Allies Miniatures, Louis XIV.

Game of the Year



Given that I would really feel odd giving this award to a game that I haven't played (in which case it would probably go to Indonesia) and I haven't played many of the games you'd expect to see winning this category. That being said I feel the combination of gorgeous presentation, innovative design, and the enthusiasm engendered in its players makes Bonaparte at Marengo the game of the year. Runners up: Ticket to Ride: Europe, Louis XIV, Diamant.

Most anticipated game of 2006



Here's a sneak preview of games I'm looking forward to the most that are due to release in 2006. Some of these games may not actually release, and most are in various states of preorder or are listed on “to be released” lists such as Gone Cardboard. Primary on this list, and due to release in February or March from GMT, is the multiplayer card-driven wargame on the protestant reformation: Here I Stand. This may prove to be the best full-day, six-player game in existence. Runners up: Shogun, Ticket to Ride – Märklin Edition, Unhappy King Charles!, Fast Action Battles: The Bulge.

1 Comments:

  • At 1:57 PM, Blogger dave said…

    "Multiplayer game I want to play more (non-wargame)" - Hmmm, it seems that Age of Steam and Power Grid are two of the most requested games. This means that (1) we aren't having enough long sessions, and/or (2) too many other games are being added to the mix.

    If we're ever stuck with two players again on West Side Thursdays, I'd be happy to play Bonaparte at Marengo again. It's a nifty little puzzle.

    "Most anticipated game of 2006" - Hmm, Here I Stand does look promising. You can forget about Age of Steam coming out now... :-)

     

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