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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Saturday, December 31, 2005

KC’s 2005 Shout Outs

Here are my awards for 2005, in four categories with a bit of detail below.

Family Game. This category is for larger board games, generally more accessible to new gamers and very family friendly.
1st Place: Carcassonne: the Discovery. Of the whole series, this Carcassonne is one of the best for easy rules that make sense, some decent choices and nice graphics.
2nd Place: Shadows Over Camelot. Contrary to others’ experiences, this one hasn’t really worn out its welcome for our family yet. Great theme reflected through the various mechanisms.
Honorable Mentions.
Mall of Horrors. Rita picked this up in Dallas and we’ve played it several more times – the theme makes the whole game, and while better for “older” kids, it’s corny enough to play with all ages if it’s cast as “all make-believe.”
Castle Merchants. Great to see my friend Nick Danger’s game (real name withheld to protect his secret identity) in print after we got to play the Hippodice prototype.
Lost Valley. Another game I missed picking up in Essen, taught to us by Jeff DeBoer of Funagain in Dallas where we had a blast with it.

Gamer Games. This category is for the more serious big games. I was surprised when I reviewed the lists in Boardgamegeek that I had played so many of them.
1st Place: Power Grid: Italy/France. This is the expansion that adds Italy and France as playable maps. While I didn’t care for Italy much (too restricted in its play for me), I thought France was brilliant, and adds another side to a great game.
2nd Place: Ticket to Ride: Europe Even better than original. Somewhat accessible to new gamers, nice mechanics, plenty of tension.
Honorable Mentions.
Caylus It’s big, it’s got a fairly steep learning curve, you can really get hosed by choosing actions at the end of the road, but it’s very cool.
Big Kini. A happy surprise from Essen. While the theme doesn’t come through for me, the mechanics are innovative and the game play zips right along.
Freya’s Folly. A big game from friend Don Bone in Australia. I really like the dwarves running around down in the mines though I generally suck at this game!
Antike Learned this in Dallas – clever wheel mechanism for actions, though I didn’t quite get the ebb and flow of battle planning.
Parthenon Wonderful theme with “do all kinds of stuff to build your empire” feel to it. The game we played had a kingmaker issue, but that might have been from first time play.

Big Fun Small Box. This is the group of games that aren’t cards but are still small box.
1st Place: Shear Panic. Definitely the cute factor won me over, but it’s cool that there’s a decent game here, with nastiness to your fellow sheep at every turn.
2nd Place: Diamant. OK, it’s expensive but who cares if your friends already own it? =) Very clever, fast, good bluffing elements (will I or won’t I?) and very short, so it fits in lots of loose gaming time blocks.
Honorable Mentions.
Walk the Dogs. A Simply Fun title, great for the family and nongamers.
Gisa. A nice little game of tile drawing and pyramid building for up to 6 players, some nice theme elements.
The Menorah Game. A nice first game from our friend Yehuda Berlinger, who taught me the right way to play it in Dallas.
Tunebaya. Another one from SimplyFun, but only hilarious with right group. Think of REALLY popular songs and you’ll do ok.

Card Games. Somewhat self explanatory eh?
1st Place: Fredericus. A great surprise from Essen, taught to us by friends Doug and Mimi Walker. Reminds me of Meuterer, in that it’s more like a board game stuck in a little tiny box. Nice theme – falconing – epic monsters to battle, and unique mechanics. I’m ready for more of this.
2nd Place: Badaboom. Chris taught this to me, and the theme makes the whole game. Sure it’s got some klunky mechanics but it's just a lot of tense fun. Will it blow up?
Honorable Mentions.
Lucca Citta. Great game taught to me by Mike Deans, making walls and windows. Very clean design in a small box.
Chizo Rising. Collectible, beautiful, I have not grasped the mechanics yet by willing to try again.
Euphrat und Tigris card game. On my B list for now, although it has some cool new choices to make. I didn’t fell that it was faster or easier than the original and takes up a board’s worth of space.
Control Nut. Clever take on a traditional 52 card deck trick taking game. Some of the cards seem a little overbalancing to me, but maybe it needs a few more plays.

The game I played most often this year was Havoc (no surprise). Not in my awards list, but a huge THANKS to the people who play it. Havoc got its own awards, including Westpark Gamers Game of the Month, and Paul Tevis’ Game of the Year , so the Sunriver crew couldn’t be happier with those results.


  • At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Wes M said…

    No awards for me, I just don’t get the chance to play enough of the new releases. So instead, I’m going to share my Nickel and Dime stats. I (try) to use the BGG games played feature, though I probably miss a game here and there. With Monica’s pregnancy and Sophia’s arrival, I didn’t get to go to Jay Farrell’s monthly game nights as often as I’d have liked, so most of these are going to reflect 2-player games played with Monica.

    We’ve also had some luck in Oct. and Nov. with Sunday afternoon games with a couple of our friends coming over. (Having a packing and shipping store precludes much in the way of doing anything in December…)

    The Dimes:
    Carcassonne - The Castle 24 plays. Our (new) favorite two-player game.
    St. Petersburg 22 plays. First played at Gamestorm 2005. 2/3rd’s played as 2-player. Note that Aristocrats are much less important in 2-player, as you can easily keep up with only one opponent.
    San Juan 16 plays. Probably half of these are 2-player.
    Poker 13 tournaments/ poker nights. Some double counts, as I end monthly poker nights with a hold-em tourney that I count as a separate play from the earlier dealer’s choice.

    The nickels:
    Lost Cities 7 plays. All at Gamestorm 2005. Four as part of the two-player tourney run by KC, and three plays with Monica the next day. She was unimpressed, thus invalidating most of the Geek’s “Spouse” Geeklist’s.
    Munchkin 7 plays. Five as 2-player with Monica, she likes it much more than I.
    Settlers of Catan 7 plays. At least three played with the Seafarers expansion. A Sunday staple.
    Acquire 6 plays. Another Sunday game.
    Talisman 6 plays. All but one 2-player with Monica.
    Car Wars: the Card Game 5 plays. Ugh. All two player, as Monica enjoys it.
    Carcassonne 5 plays. A couple two-player (including the Gamestorm tourney) plays, a couple with the river expansion, and one with Traders and Builders.
    Ticket to Ride 4 plays. I’m pretty sure I played this a fifth time.
    Rail Baron 4 plays. A Sunday game that, like TtR, I think actually hit the table five times.


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