"Top" 10 Worst (or most disappointing) Games of 2011... add yours
Joel Eddy
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I'm feeling a bit surly, as is my penchant on occasion. Also, I've been told it's a cop out not to do negative reviews. (I write and record reviews and post them here and elsewhere on the internet). So, here is my rant-ish slam on some of the games in 2011 that several people worked very hard to bring to us. I'll add 10. If anyone else wants to add more, feel free to do so!
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51. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:73]
S Marstiller
United States
Pasadena
California
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The seven games that were the biggest disappointments for me, in no particular order...













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52. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:73]
Mark Iradian
Canada
Ontario
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In no particular order..

Lord of the Rings - A game where the difficulty can easily be thrown out the window based on the starting draw. The game just feels too random with no pacing or build up. It's essentially "draw cards, draw more cards, and hope you can win." Throw in the randomness of the shadow cards and it's just annoying.

Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of Iamnotgoingtospellhisname - How did the guys behind DnD manage to screw this up? I was expecting a lite version of Heroquest, and instead they made a game with random traps for every second you breathe. No strategy involved whatsoever.

Quarriors - I love dice games, yet I find this game dry with not much strategy involved. It's just so...blah.

Gears of War - I was actually thinking about purchasing this one after the disappointment of Wrath of reddragonwithaterriblename, but after giving a shot, I rather stick with DnD. Gears of War is an incredibly mundane game where it seems to try too hard to be difficult, at a worse level then DnD. Just couldn't enjoy it.

Lost Cities - I heard this was a good 1v1 game, so I gave it a shot. Dry, boring, and theme doesn't play a part.

Resident Evil Deckbuilding Game: Outbreak - More makeup for a pig. I don't understand how this game has such a following.

Owner's Choice - I grabbed this for $10, considering my recent financial services job (and reading way too many books on investments). I wasn't exactly expecting a simulator, but the way the "stock market" is played is rather silly. You just roll dice and hope for the best. The game is also too short.

Dungeoneer + Expansions - Too. Many. Stupid. Rules. I thought Red Dragon Inn was bad with a "paragraph on a card" aspect, but at least the game makes it up for having sensible rules and sense of humor. Dungeoneer? Nothing makes sense and it feels like the rules are being written as we are playing.

Formula D - Too much AP for me and too much down time. The sad thing is, I should be enjoying this game. I love racing, and I love dice. Yet I was glad to get rid of this one for some cash.

Shazammm! - 1v1 game that I had some expectations for. I was actually trying to nab this game for a while. After I did and decided to give it a shot, I can't say that I enjoy it. There doesn't seem to be any sort of conflict or real intentions involved.
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53. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:343] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Emperor Penguin
United States
Mercer
Pennsylvania
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For me it the biggest disappointment of the year was a tie between Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game and Mansions of Madness
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54. Board Game: Ascending Empires [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:477]
Justus
United States
Las Vegas
Nevada
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I had high hopes for the game since it was a flicking game, but its a flicking game with pieces that aren't easy to flick. If I'm going to spend an hour flicking wood around a table, I want that shit to fly, not spending it doing weak tentative taps to get your fighter in orbit around a planet and then spending the rest of the time waiting for the opponents AP over their tech tree. Of course it didn't help that I fell behind early and spent the game as the runaway loser and even then there was no drama for me to enjoy as a spectator because there was also a runaway leader!

I just don't see any reason to ever play this again, especially since I already have a crokinole board. And if I didn't have crokinole I'd pick up Carrom set for $40 at my local indian grocery. And if I wanted scifi with a tech tree, I'd pay full FLGS retail for eclipse (which I thought was utterly meh) before playing this game again.

Honorable Mention: Isla Dorada but its a Bruno Faduitti so more my fault becase I had somehow mistakenly assumed it was less chaotic than is usual fare.
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55. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:30] [Average Rating:7.77 Unranked]
alex w
Singapore
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Got this Gem last year after much hesitation.

After 1 play, I rather shuffle toilet paper.

After a second try, I rather watch moss grow in my garden.

Think I threw it out the window somewhere....
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56. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.16 Overall Rank:8]
John Sizemore
United States
Richmond
Virginia
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This one seems destined for the top 25, and I just don't get why. It's not one of the worst games I've ever played -- not even close to the worst of 2011 -- but most disappointing? Oh yeah.

Maybe I was so disappointed because I expected more from Vlaada? No, he also gave us Sneaks & Snitches, after all; the man does not walk on water. Or maybe it's because I had hoped it might compare to the grand-daddy of all most-awesomest adventure games, Magic Realm? Nah, I knew when I bought it that it would never be THAT cool.

No, I think it was just that the deck-building mechanics just drained the adventure out of the game, totally. And, for my cash, a deck-building game where you're effectively penalized for cycling your deck isn't much of a deck-building game, either. Add to this that the theme is so bland, and the play so slow, the decisions so limited, the randomness so cruel, the map so boring, the rulebook so poorly organized... it just really made me sad.
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57. Board Game Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
TS S. Fulk
Sweden
Örebro
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Although I like Elder Sign and Rune Age for what they are, I think FFG really stunk it up this year. The rulebook for Elder Sign was just atrocious and the fiasco concerning the latest Mansions of Madness expansion just highlights the growing problem with the company—that it has grown too large for itself (pun intended).

Playtesting seems to be done by staffers. If they had real play testers testing the production versions of Elder Sign and the MoM expansion, they could have saved themselves a lot of bad reviews. They also really need to hire an editor that is good at writing/editing game rules. I think the one they have was probably hired when the company was mainly an RPG company. Editing an RPG is nothing like editing a board game rulebook.
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58. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:90]
alex w
Singapore
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Played the original Civilization of AH fame. This game is nothing like that. It's a shame to use similar names for a game such as this when compared to the oldie. shake

Even if I evaluate this game as what it is, an explore-expand game, I still felt the flatness of the whole exercise. It's not Civ, it's build 1 city and pack it with stuff and repeat. For that matter, calling this game, 'built my City' would have been a better bet.
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59. Board Game: Tournay [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:552]
Ben
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
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I suppose this was it for me. I placed a large overseas order (10 copies) immediately after Essen because it had received such positive buzz and because I like Troyes and trusted the designers.

Then came the manufacturing problems that delayed production(and my order).

Then came the negative reviews from the few who had managed to get a copy at Essen.

Then I went to LobsterTrap in Boston and played it for myself. The first thing I did when I came home was cancel my order.


While I understood that Tournay was going to be quite a bit lighter than its older, board-based cousin, I had expected it to at least retain the challenge, novelty, and thematic integration that I so loved in Troyes. Instead, the relationship was closer to that between Arkham Horror and Elder Sign: Same art, similar premise, and huge letdown.


Honorable mentions go to Trajan and MIL (1049)


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60. Board Game: Super Dungeon Explore [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:648] [Average Rating:7.11 Unranked]
Steve R Bullock
United States
Palm Coast
Florida
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Why was I so utterly disappointed?

The rules, man. The rules.

So bad. This game has so much going on for it, and along comes the rules, squats down, and takes a dump on the game.

Not a pretty sight.
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61. Board Game: Wallenstein (second edition) [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:533]
Karl Bernhardt
Poland
Wrocław
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The new Wallenstein has to be mine.

OK, it hasn't come out yet - or maybe it has and I've missed it. But it was supposed to be a 2011 but kept being pushed back. So, an Essen 2011 game is still in the ether and waiting to be played. Maybe I will go off the idea before it ever hits the shops.
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62. Board Game: Star Trek: Fleet Captains [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:225]
Matthew P
United States
Oklahoma
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I am sure I will be unpopular with this choice, but I was disappointed. So many critics (Like Tom Vassel) putting this at the very top of their games lists...

Initial impressions:

$100.
1 ship totally missing.
2 ships broke off the base.
1 ship with the engines broke off.
This was a $100 game.
The tiles that make up the board were incredibly flimsy.
The first time we shuffled the board tiles, paint flecked off around the edges.
The command decks had a few misnumbered cards that made it look like we were missing a few cards when we weren't.
Did I mention $100 price tag?

Note: Wiz Kids does let you report broken pieces and they will replace them... However, they only allow you to do 2 with their automated system. For more, you have to contact customer service and send them pictures of the broken ships. They mailed me my replacements a few weeks later. However, one of the 4 replacement ships was broken when it got to me.

Rulebook:

NIGHTMARE. This is one of the worst rulebooks I have ever read.

Example: They tell you how to set up and say you are ready to play. However, on page 24 they go back and tell you more about how to set up. (Oh, so I was supposed to start with command cards in my hand... good to know).

There is no chronological or reasonable order to this rulebook. You constantly jump forward and back to get the whole rule on how to do something.

There are things that are never mentioned in the rulebook, but can happen in the game...

Such as: A ship got into a place with an encounter that damaged it, disabling its engines. It can't fly out of the "sector" to repair. It can't build an outpost at this location to repair at. It is just stuck, forever... Towing is never mentioned in the rulebook as an option... However, one of the people I was playing with assured me it was on the game's website's FAQ, but he said he couldn't really find how it worked...

If we found that hole on our first play, what other holes are out there?

How about a walk-through of a couple turns? That would have simplified a lot.

Gameplay:
You get 4 10-card command subdecks (you choose 4 out of 10 possible) shuffled together to get your deck. Why? I don't know. We usually only saw about 10 cards in a game. Why use 40 that you then have to divide back out into separate decks?

Characters are nice... But there are like 2-3 per sub deck... So since you really only see like 10 of those cards, you are lucky to see 2 characters come out.

Edit: Also, the subdecks are very unclear without reading every single card why you would pick one over another. You can kind of tell by some of the names, but not always. Why not just call them "Science Deck" and "War Deck" etc, instead of "Captain Picard Deck" or "Strange New Worlds"?

Actual Games Played:
First game: 4 players.
I played Federation and drew all science ships. I moved 3 sectors into the board and had everything I needed to complete all my missions. I then sat there and kept drawing the same basic missions over and over, getting us massive victory points. How many missions can there be that say "Beam down an away team, and then beam it back up for 1 Victory Point"?
Meanwhile my teammate drew all war ships and just kind of flew interference between them and me as I amassed points.
No one really had fun, but we saw potential.

*studied rules more*

Second Game: 2 players.
I again drew all science ships, amassed victory points in only 4 or 5 sectors, and he just did his own thing. Might as well have been a single player game. We didn't really have fun, but we saw potential.

*studied rules more*

Third Game: 3 players.
There are not actually rules for 3 players, it is for 2 OR 4. We often have three, so we made a few minor modifications like setting up a triangle board, making 2 different factions of Klingons that were not a team, and threw out the extra Federation ships. This was the only game that could be considered "fun" of the lot.

*one of the other players hated the rules so much he typed them out in a more logical order in a searchable .pdf*

Fourth Game: 4 Player.
Stab me in the eye with a broken nacelle please. This game was so hideously long and drawn out that me and a team mate played two games on Carcassonne on the iPhone while waiting on the other team to discuss strategy, and find holes in the rules, and say "Well it doesn't specifically say you CAN'T do this" on their turns. Then we would do our turn in about 30 seconds, and then wait again. Usually about 5 minutes before we got to go again. Then we play for 30 seconds and then they go again. It doesn't take me long to say "Beam down with this ship, beam up with this ship." We never got near them on the giant recommended size board. We were playing to 16, and I managed to take us up to 18 on our last turn from 14. Since we played first, the other team had a chance to go. They went from 13 to 18 on their last turn. The rules state that the SECOND team to TIE or break the score wins. So we lost with the same score as them, because they went second and happened to draw a 3 VP card on that last turn.
By the end of this game, we all pretty much hated it.
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63. Board Game: Belfort [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:217]
Andrew MacLeod
Canada
London
Ontario
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I really liked the taxation rule that acts as a speed bump for players who are soaring in profits. Apart from that, it's a fairly standard (and quite dry) area control game, with a worker placement mechanic. The theme is very much pasted on, which is a shame, given the utterly fabulous art and general appearance of the game, and better connection of theme with mechanics would have improved things for me, since there are some good ideas in it. Alas, as it is, I did not find it at all engaging; and it is far too long for what it offers. In fact, this is the only game in my entire life that I've ever been tempted to walk away from in the middle of it. That was at the mid-point, I emphasize, because it did get better...but not by much.
However, it is early going in their careers for Messers Cormier and Lim. I look forward to their future offerings.
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64. Board Game: Killer Bunnies and the Ultimate Odyssey [Average Rating:5.40 Overall Rank:9310]
Chris Pratt
Australia
Hervey Bay
Queensland
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While it wasn't a 2011 game, this new-to-me game was without a doubt the stinkiest poo ever laid on our gaming table. KB and the Magic Carrot was the game that got me into this awesome hobby, so I expected after a few years some kind of evolution in the series. Not so! This feels playing Magic Carrot, except the carrot mechanic is thrown out and some kind of hazy victory point system is tacked on. My most reliable of gaming buddies (much straight-man love for you there, Lenny!)describes this one as 'eh, it's ok....sort of' which is LennySpeak for 'I'd rather put a biro through my sack than play this game again'.

The only downside to selling this game after one half-hearted play is the guilt I feel from some poor SOB in Adelaide paying me $30 for this garbage.
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65. Board Game: Poo: The Card Game [Average Rating:5.74 Overall Rank:4697]
Joel Eddy
United States
Coeur d'Alene
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Ahhh!!! I can't believe I forgot this one! Thanks to the previous Geeklist Item for reminding me. I think it's so bad that I blocked it out. This is not technically a 2011 release though I played it first in 2011. But man! I'm sure I still harbor some unrequited resentment towards my FLGS owner for saying, "Hey guys *snicker* let's try this". angry

The name fits at least.
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66. Board Game: The Impossible Machine [Average Rating:5.41 Overall Rank:9766]
Joel Eddy
United States
Coeur d'Alene
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And that item (just above this one) reminds of this. Wow. Now I feel bad for one of the others in my Top 10

This game is pointless. Even more than Quarriors.

Humbly accept my apologies. I think I've blocked these two out as I don't even consider them worth mentioning, but... alas... my build is running and these two came rushing back to me like a waking nightmare!

This one is a 2011 release.
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67. Board Game: Kingmaker [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1375]
Kenneth Lewandowski
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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Again, cheating on the year here but I had never played this one, that I thought was a 'classic'. I even had a chance to use a huge board with mini's. Loved the initial concept but after a few turns, I realized I could never plan anything since my units move around on everybody's turn... why bother to set up a plan when 5+ chaotic/random events change the location of everything. I should have left this as a "Classic" I never played... now I am disillusioned of all classics.
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68. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:23]
Mat Nowak
Canada
Halifax
Nova Scotia
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I really wanted to love this, I really did.

Mechanically the game works but it's just not fun for me at all. Whenever I play this I never feel like I'm controlling a certain species. It's just: put cubes in terrain where I can survive and be dominant, and then see what player-inflicted chaos will befall me. Grab a good take-that card and ruin other people's plans. Rinse and repeat ad nauseum.

Given the hotness of the game I expected this to be more thematic and for the different types of terrain to mean something other than a +X when scoring. I also wanted each of the species to have a unique feel to them - all I got was one minor rule change they each benefit from.

The game feels extremely abstract overall which I find surprising given how many people say it has a strong theme. I'd rather play Primordial Soup which captures the struggle of survival and dominance in a more fun and faster package where my gene choices actually make a lasting difference in how my species play and I can significantly change how I develop my amoebas the next game.
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69. Board Game: Mondo [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:973]
Mirko
Taiwan
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It's not a disappointment since I had no expectations on it, but it is so bad that it deserves to be here. Damn it's boring, boring, boring. Like an exercise for primary-schoolers 'ok, now everybody, build your island!'. No.
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70. Board Game: Conquest Tactics [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:7456]
 
Kakaris Maelstrom
United States
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Well I summed up my thoughts on this game right here:

Conquest Tactics - Mediocre 90's gameplay in a crappy cardstock box

There's a Kickstarter campaign running now to get the game in an upgraded box. The problem is if you put a poor quality game in a high quality box, it's still just a poor quality game in a high quality box.

I'm still not sure why I ordered this against my better judgement... oh well.
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71. Board Game: King's Vineyard [Average Rating:5.56 Overall Rank:8930]
Craig.
United States
Ohio
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I thought this might be a fun and unique game based on the theme and nice artwork, but it isn't. It is boring, repetitious, and doesn't really make a lot of sense. I'd rather watch paint dry than play this game again. This is the first game that I have regretted purchasing.
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72. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:393]
Håvard Sørensen
Norway
Kløfta
Kløfta
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It says 2008 but it got released in Norway 2011. I was expecting a short game in the Game of Thrones setting, Magic the gathering style. Instead it was a game that lasted 3-4 hours. Just too long for a card game!
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73. Board Game: Mansions of Madness [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:152]
Rich Luedeke
United States
Fort Wayne
Indiana
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This will not be a popular post, but try as I might, I could not like MoM: too long, too fiddly, if the GM was out for himself there was no way to be successful. I gave it several plays and decided this one is not for me. Sorry, guys.

I have a runner-up: Zombie High School Card Game. This got a great sell-job at Origins, so I bought it for the gaming group I run with my high school students. They love all things zombie, but this fell flat on the table. Another non-keeper, for sure.
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74. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:170]
Archibald Longdale
Hungary
Budapest - Szentendre
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I had a chance to play that with 4 other geeks of the game as a newbee to any cooperative games. They had fun for more than 5 hours, I wanted to quit after 20 minutes, but as a good fellow I didn't.The spiders and those creatures were extremely annoying for me, and the whole game was too much fantasy for me (however I loved LOTR when I was a kid.)

Well, I've more fun with games a bit closer to reality eg. train games (German Railways) or mediveal themed things (Kingdom Builder, Rattus, Castle For All Seasons), deduction games (as Clue, Mystery Express, Mr Jack) or at least some fun familygames as A la Carte or something.

I'd not like to play this game ever more. That's why I gave a 3 after playing, but now I would say it's a 2.
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75. Board Game: Deadwood [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1417]
Roger Howell
United States
Lenexa
Kansas
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I thought this might be a lighter Carson City. I liked the theme and the fighting between cowboys sounded fun so I was for sure this would be a great game. It was terrible (at least as a 2 player game.) There are too many available buildings to place your cowboys, there is never any real reason to fight. Then when you do fight it just doesn't feel worth it: collect $1 or collect $2. Mouse Trap is more fun.
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