New to you December 2011 => Best new boardgame
Happy New Year to All...
So what new board and card games did you play in December 2011? Please share your experiences of the games you played for the first time this month.
In order to assist with collecting Statistics from these lists, please post an entry with your chosen game of the month, and if possible please use the "insert board game" feature to add other games you mention in your entry.
- Play any new games for Christmas? or any games from your Secret Santas?
New To You Metalist 2011
New To You MetaMetalist
New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread
Other Great Monthly Lists
Your Most Played Game (and more): December 2011
New to Your Kids December 2011 - the best games you've played for the first time with children (and why)
Videogames New To You December 2011
Your best gaming experience of the month and why Dec 11
New to you a year ago Dec 11 => Has it stood the test of time?
Games only YOU have played in December 2011
Out of the Dust, December 2011
Quarriors and it fellow expansion Rise of demons:
Quarriors! Rise of the Demons
Gave me a big surprise, when i was expecting a DICE WAR game (where the dices plays instead of you) when the game result in the best DECKBUILDER game i ever played (since i know many in the genre). I have around 21 games just in december with several friends that also found the game interesting and challenging.
With the change of the cards you have lots of replayability.
Great game from the 2011.
With Christmas and a few game meetups, I got to learn several new games this month, including a few real winners.
Montage is going to take it this month for me. This game straddles three categories of games I really enjoy: speed games, word games, clue-giving games. A player selects a portion of the crossword puzzle style board and gives a clue. Every color chip already there can stand for any of 5-6 predetermined letters. If your teammate knocks before both opponents, he gets to guess, otherwise, a selected opponent can. Whoever gets the word correct gets to fill in the rest of the row with chips of their shade, trying to get the most in the area. It rewards quick thinking, word-building skill, and clue deciphering. I've only gotten to play it twice, but I can see this being a real favorite, assuming we keep getting the exact number of 4 players often enough.
Pictomania is Vlaada's version of a party game, which means it's got some gamey elements to it but can still appeal to more casual gamers. Essentially simultaneous multiple-choice Pictionary, everyone is assigned a word from a series of face-up cards and has to draw it and guess others' words in time. The craziness, the ambiguity (as each card has a theme, so just a basic sketch isn't enough), and the difficulty (four different difficulties of cards are included) make it a wonderfully challenging experience. We've only played one of the hardest level of cards, but amazingly there were enough correct guesses for "Genghis Khan", "Acquiantance", and "It"!
Ca$h 'n Gun$ is Incan Gold with shooting people. I'm not oversimplifying too much, even. Incan Gold is a solid game, but for me personally the shooting doesn't add much. It's alright, but I think I'd actually prefer Incan Gold most of the time. I did play with the special powers once, and I'm not sure if I like it better that way.
Friday the 13th is one of those rules-light but still interesting filler games that I certainly wouldn't make a point of trying to play a lot, but I'd be fine playing it more. Several games of mini-blackjack going on at once, along with some memory of what's out and who's already won what.
Infunitum is a passable party game with a Boggle/Scattergories type scoring of "getting unique items". The gameplay isn't inspiring, but it's not terrible.
I didn't rate American Carrom or Cranium Scribblish because they're barely in the same arena as board games, but I did log them. I also logged my first Quiddler play, although I did play once many years ago. Better word game than Foil (also a sort of word rummy), but it still goes by in too few rounds.
In early December my wife and I were Christmas shopping at a hobby shop for my daughter. They have a nice game selection as well. I asked them if they heard all the hype about Eclipse and they hadn't. In fact, they called their supplier with us standing there and ordered two copies.
A few days before Christmas my wife stopped back in for something and noticed they had two copies on the shelf. Since they don't have a website they were off the grid from the online buying frenzy after the sold out announcement engulfed the planet. So... much to my surprise she surprised me good on Christmas morning!
I walked through a two player game the night before New Year's Eve since to get a little familiar with it. Then in NYE I taught 10 people in a 6-player game (a third of our game night attendees were engaged). We got through 6 rounds before the ball dropped and people headed home. This one will see the table in future game nights! It is my first "10".
Gears of War
My parents got me Gears of War for Christmas. I am not familiar with the video game. What attracted me to this one was the theme and solo play option with miniatures and the dungeon crawl like exploration of rooms, etc.
I read the Rule Book in bed Christmas Night and attempted my first play amongst all the chaos of all the nieces and nephews running, jumping, and screaming as they played at my parents the next morning. It took a painfully long time as I was trying to adjust all the cards, text, movements, rules, etc. In the end I was eliminated half way through the map.
I played the same scenario the first morning after we got home by myself over a cup of coffee and this time succeeded in successfully completing the mission. I look forward to playing more solo scenarios. IF I can entice someone else, I expect it will be a fun multi-player experience, as well.
I got into BGG about two years ago. Last Christmas was my the first time I included games on my list. With the exception of Power Grid, I got all books. Unfortunately I had a back log of reading to catch up on. This year I took everything but games off the list. This was one of the other games my wife got me that I had never played before.
When no one else was really interested in playing any games at Christmas, my wife took pity on me and offered to play something. We tried this one and she and I proceeded to play a few more games as we kept alternating wins and both wanted to emerge as the family champion... she is the Queen of St. Petersburg... for now.
My only new game this month: Royal Palace
A good one - slightly tricky the first time we played, but we got our heads round it and played again the next day with a better idea of what we were doing! Good fun - would no doubt be different, and possibly better, with more than two players, but nevertheless, well worth a go, and no doubt will be coming out occasionally.
The Ares Project 6 plays
Recieved in a math trade.
I didn't have really high expectations for this game, so imagine my surprise when I was completely bowled over by it.
The game has a reputation of being difficult to learn (I thought so anyway) but I managed to jump right into the full game with no problems.
It's a shame, I think the "complexity" is overstated. To me it seems about the same weight rules-wise as A Few Acres Of Snow, and requires about the same commitment from its players.
It has great mechanics that feel euro-ish in their smoothness, yet there's that fab theme and elements of wargamey dice-chuckin' too.
Something for everyone!
It's tense, quick, tactical and strategic.
The 4 factions are unique and have loads of depth of strategy within each.
It's awesomely impressive in that regard.
I'm really surprised how little love this fantastic hybrid game is geting here on the geek.
I don't think it will be for everyone (the theme is a little niche I guess), but some people are going to love this and cherish it.
If you're curious at all you owe it to yourself to play it and find if you're one of them.
For me, I'm surprised to admit to my self, game of 2011.
Mage Knight 2 plays - full game 3 players.
I was so hyped for this game and on the whole it met my expectations.
A lot has already been said, so suffice to say I think the gameplay is smooth and elegant. That's saying something in my book! After years of sprawling FFG behemoth random fiddly-token fests, I'd pretty much given up on the whole genre.
Vladaa's genius design sidesteps most of these issues putting the player firmly in control of their own decisions, and therefore, their own heroic destiny!
After about an hours rules explanation we were up and away. I don't understand most of the rules queries. They're not too bad as long as someone reads and fully comprehends the books before playing. Almost everything you really need is on the handy help cards.
My only criticism is compared to Through The Ages (My new to me game of November) MK is a little lacking in competative tension.
It's great though no doubt and I'll happily play it given the opportunity.
Luna 1 play
From the wifey. She's a Feld fan, as am I.
My 4th Feld game. Like all of his games I have this one impressed me with
1. How smooth it plays and
2. How different it is from all his other games.
I guess this is his take on worker placement . And it's good!
After only one play (Just managed to squeeze this into this month's list) I can see a lot of strategy and different ways to approach the game.
It is a bit kooky (and too obtuse to fully describe here) but in a charming way.
Needless to say, if you like Feld, don't overlook Luna!
Ascension 4 plays (Godslayer + Return of Fallen)
I have some friends who are Thunderstone nuts (more so than I) but ever since I mixed all my cards to go "epic", my wife won't play the game.
Step in Ascension I thought! (Oh and better throw in the expansion too for good measure.. cos, you know... )
Well, it kind of worked. She kinda liked it. So did I.
It just didn't really sing for us.
It might get dragged out again but we both agreed it was just.. average.
Too light for me and perhaps too un-euroey (New Word!) for her.
Not a bad game by any stretch and I think think it will stick around for a while. Definitely until the next math trade
The Rivals For Catan 1 play
More Xmas Loot!
2 player game that again I wanted specifically for SO gamage.
After 1 play I think it succeeded in that regarded. Mrs. W enjoyed it.
More than I did. It's too early to say but I have a feeling it may be slightly too random for my tastes. Alright, alright! She completely owned me. But still..
I have a feeling that the randomness may be overcome somewhat with a little knowledge of the cards... I already have a couple of ideas how
this could play out differently next time, so that's a good sign.
As for it's Catan-iness (New Word?) I certainly would rather play this over Settlers. The only wood I have is for my own sheep, thank you very much!
Regardless, there's a whole lot of game in that little box if you like this sort of thing.
Drum Roll 3 plays
Oh dear, what a disappointment Drum Roll is.
It looks gorgeous, the theme is different and appealing, and after reading the rules I was excited. It sounded tense - lots of competition for resources, tight money, some interesting mechanisms and, and... Come on, it's a circus!
But no, there is no tension. Every player, 3 games in, has managed to just chug along getting exactly what they need in a predictable and unexciting manner.
It's a prom queen of a game. Gorgeous and shallow.
This size viola da gamba is like a cello with frets. I started playing at age 48.
German Railways has knocked me flat! I haven't won yet in four plays, but I keep improving. Even though there is a lot of moment-to-moment recordkeeping, the rules themselves are almost absurdly simple. Almost any adult can learn this game, but winning it is another matter. The shares you buy will decide the pattern of alliances you have with the other players. The turn-order mechanism is strongly biased against the player in the lead, but it is possible to win while playing only a few turns. This design is like a Swiss watch, simple and elegant.
Discworld: Ankh-Morpork was another pleasant surprise. Even if you are not familiar with the book series, the artwork is amusingly clever. Gameplay is simple and a bit random, with some "take that" in the bargain. Cards are used to obtain (and obliterate) area control. This game is also easy to learn and plays quickly.
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Been a while since I did one of these, but New Year's resolutions and all that...
This was a clear favorite before 2 plays of Eclipse on the last two days of the year made it close. I played it 3 times this month (once each with 2, 3, and 4 players as it happened) and I feel like I've just scratched the surface. This is a game with a huge amount of tactical chaos laying on top of a solid bedrock of long term strategic goals. Most of the criticisms I've seen involve the fact that the former can tend to obscure the latter, but the more I play it, the more I'm able to see through the whipped cream of building effects and events and through to the delicious pie of putting a stranglehold on the political offices and area-majority within rows. The whipped cream is delicious, but no one ever says "remember that awesome whipped cream Aunt Suzy made last Christmas?".
It says something about this game that in our second game we misunderstood one of the alien powers in a way that gave the owner an insurmountable advantage and we *still* enjoyed the hell out of it. The guys I played it with were all mostly Eurogamers, so we were all quite good at the efficiency engine part of the game, but we were/are definitely lacking in the tactical combat part, so while we were able to squeeze every drop out of our economy, my impression is that we were pretty much rubbish at optimizing ships and/or the movement thereof. The amount of complexity this game manages to represent with what is actually a minimum of fiddlyness is extremely impressive. Looking forward to many more plays of this one this year.
Oh, in case you are curious, the mistake in question was that we thought the Galactic Defense Center in the middle of the board counted as an "alien ship" for the purpose of the yellow alien's power. This meant he could pretty much run roughshod over not only the ancient ships near him, but he was able to leak all over the board (and have "free" built in defenses) in the first couple turns and had nearly all of his cubes cleared in like turn 3. Whoops. Still fun.
Got it for Christmas and have played 2 games. I'm not going to have a consistent group of guys for this one (though I have another group that might buy a set with that in mind), so it will be interesting to see how a collective of people modify the board. Once the initial weirdness of writing on the board was overcome, my friends (who are by and large of a more artistic bent then myself) put their artistic talents to work near their named continents and minor cities, so my board now features, Trogdor, the Tardis, the guy pushing "Swank" in the "Ice to see you" McBain clip from the Simpsons, and my friend's cat. It belongs in a museum.
Blood Bowl: Team Manager
You got your Dominion in my Battleline! You got your Battleline in my Dominion! You're both right! And someone dumped a whole bunch of theme all over the thing! I've never actually played Blood Bowl, but some people I taught this to had, and they said it dovetailed with those mechanics pretty well. I hear Core Worlds is the reigning champion of "deck building games where you actually get to *do* something with what you've built", but until I try that, this is holding that slot for me.
Cards against Humanity
Yes, OK, it's just Apples to Apples with (choose one: [funnier | "funnier" | offensive | stupid]) cards, but I expect it to be funny to *me* for at least a few dozen plays.
Freebie from BGG.con. Pleasant surprise as a pretty decent 2-player game from the designer of No Thanks. My wife liked it, but did not love it, so not sure how much more playing time it will get, but Aton is a nice, compact mash up of hand management and multi-dimensional area-majority elements.
From BGG.con flea market, basically because Vasel said it was cool. I tried it out once at my work gaming night, and somewhat to my surprise it didn't go over well (but possibly because one player really outspokenly disliked it). We didn't actually finish that game, but it's one I'd like to try a few more times - I thought the way you use chains of ants and need to control and manage food piles to be pretty clever. I'm curious how much it might bog down in the end game.
If Wishes Were Fishes
Played 3 games of this, 2 by the correct rules, which helped quite a bit. Pretty light and simple - if I had some 9-11 year old kids to play with I'd definitely get this out with them, but my oldest niece is only 6, so it's going to have to wait. Decent enough to play as a filler with adults, but I have better ones. The worms are awesome.
Games, games and more games!
17 new games this month, the highest number in any month this year.
King of Tokyo
Absolutely amazing filler. Played it 7 times in the first 4 days of owning it. I can see this getting a lot more plays in the near future. Luck dependent but with some decisions to make and just a whole lot of fun.
This just missed our buying shortlist when it was released, but oddly I haven't had a chance to play since, although we've been actively trying to trade for it ever since. This month we were successful and played it twice (the second time with the correct rules!). One of the more promising new acquisitions we've made - I enjoy the jumping down the river mechanic, and I think the end-game scoring cards work better than they do in Strasbourg.
I saw a copy of this at Gradpad so asked if we could borrow it to try, as it was one that nearly made our shortlist of Essen release to buy. It got off to a bit of a slow start, as it was new to all of us, and I wouldn't play 5 player with unfamiliar players again, but I really enjoyed many of the mechanics, and would love to try again now I know what I'm doing. If the second and any future playings are favourable, it might even be one I consider buying.
Star Trek: Expeditions
I'm a Trekkie, so it ticks that box. I'm not a fan of coops, but like them occasionally, and this one had quite a lot of interaction for a coop, which is good - I hate games which are supposedly coop, but either one player takes over, or everyone sits mute and gets on with their own little piece of it. My main concern on replay would be that the missions would get stale very soon, and there might be a "best route", but for one play that wasn't an issue. Also, yellow level seemed quite easy - we never really felt like we were in danger of losing. We misplayed one minor rule wrong and reshuffled the deck, but I don't think it would have made that much difference, as by the time it came in we had everything pretty much under control anyway.
We nearly bought this one but removed it from our order at the last minute due to cost factors. It proved to be an interesting little card game filler that I'd happily play again.
I've never read any of the books, but was interested in giving this a try, so when someone suggested it at Gradpad I leapt at the idea of playing. There were three new players in the game, and hence the first game was over very quickly, as no-one new enough to stop me winning on trouble markers. We restarted, and the second game played through the entire deck as everyone was being so careful not to let anyone have one of the end conditions. Luckily that role wasn't in play, so instead it went to scoring, a rule we hadn't covered in advance, and it turned out that it was related to most on the board, which I won by absolutely miles, completely by chance! A fun game, reminiscent of London in many ways, but not one I'd rush out and buy.
Power Grid: The First Sparks
It's not Power Grid, but I wasn't expecting anything as deep, and I think the designer has done a great job in adapting the Power Grid rules and coming up with a game that appeals to lighter gamers, but maintains much of the same feel of the original - and as was proved in our game, is as tight on money! Quite enjoyable and would play again, although it hasn't gone on the buy list.
The most laughs I've had in a party game in a long long time, but also one of the most painful party games - the Quelf effects can be a tad unusual to say the least. A bit different when you're in a silly mood, but not one I'd want to play too often.
One of my daughter's Christmas presents. So far I've only played it with her, but I think this could be a good speed filler with adults, in the same vein as On the Dot/Vitrail which we play quite a lot. I hope to try it that way this month.
My daugher's stocking filler game (courtesy of The Works), and so she asked if she could play it - I leapt at the idea, as my daughter normally refuses to play any game, never mind asks to! It's probably a bit old for her, but she prefers a bit of a challenge, doesn't like "baby games", and she enjoyed the little wooden fox that comes in it.
I asked my sister to get this for my son for Christmas. It seems to have been a hit. From an adult's point of view it's a fairly mindless roll and move game, but my son likes the bits, and the simple gameplay. I think soon I'll move to the advanced rules and play with one player taking the role of the monsters and the others the heroes, making it into a mini HeroQuest (a game I want to introduce to my son soon, as I think he'll love it).
Travel the World
It's another variation on The Great Game of Britain or The London Game, but with the variability being a spinner about travel type instead of the cards and dice. I don't think it'll be as much of a hit as the other two, but it is very educational, teaching about the world map, so I'll probably encourage my son to play it a bit.
The equivalent of Start Player, but for those players who insist on breaking ties. Fun to read the cards, but as I'm a player who quite liked an honourable tie in games, I don't really see the point of owning or using it.
I haven't been this unimpressed in a filler-style game in a while. I just felt like I was sitting there going through the motions. We were all scoring at a similar rate, there seemed no chance of setting up a long-term strategy (apparently one of the scrolls in play made this problem worse), and it just seemed that could you almost play randomly and do just as well.
FITS Expansion #1: MOTS – More Of The Same
As the expansion says, it's more of the same. 4 boards following a similar pattern to boards 1-4, but with a bit more variety. As this is one my son seems to enjoy, I'll probably need the variety in upcoming months!
FITS Official Expansion
See above! Very similar to Expansion 1 in feel and my opinion of it.
Most of the new Dominion expansions just don't do anything for me. Variety for the sake of it, and don't really feel like they're changing anything much about the game. I don't think we had a particuarly good selection of cards anyway, as it made for a very negative game, but I can't see my opinion changing - I'll stick to the two originals and Prosperity!
Edit: Extended stats seem to have missed off all my plays in the last 2 days of the year, so had a few more to add.
I had only played a handful of new to me games in December and this is the one I selected. I only find this one 'okay'. I'm not a fan of having to get more actions if I want to sniff at a chance of winning. I will probably play this again to be sure, but after three games that tactic had turned me off. I'm hoping something will change as I like the game. The two player game, with the pawn, seemed to work better. Other new to me games are below.
This one was solid. A more complex version of Big Points (which is a game I enjoy) in a way. Nothing wrong with this one, but not spectactular.
Lords of Scotland
This was a decent enough game, too. But, the rules were a little vague and I think other games were a bit better. I liked but not loved.
Overall, this wasn't a great month for new games for me.
That one not so much
Ohh that tickles
Only five new games in December, but they were all good ones.
Havana though comes out on top. It’s a game I have been meaning to get for ages. I’m really pleased I did. Taken it along to my games club twice now and both times we played two games back to back.
It’s Cuba’s little brother, takes some of the concepts and a lot of the artwork from Cuba and makes a totally different game. One which is a lot quicker and simpler than Cuba. You are trying to collect building tiles and each tile cost a different amount of resources. You have 13 role cards all of which you can use to get your resources. You always have two role cards in play and every turn you replace one of them. This gives you a difficult choice every turn.
Only got to play it once so far, but I have put it second based on its potential. The first game was a bit long due to having to learn what all the cards do and a few of them not being that clear. But we all enjoyed it and I think with more experience it will be a very good game. It’s been my month for playing little brothers, this one is Troyes.
It shares the same artwork but plays differently. You have nine piles of cards which you use your workers (or other players if you pay) to draw from. You use your cards to build you own set of 9 cards in a 3x3 grid. Some cards give you points, some give you money and some have special effects. Like its big brother it has events which are triggered, this time by town criers in the draw decks. There are some good events but most of them are bad news.
Got a pretty meh reaction from most of my games group but I quite liked it. Most of the people who were not that impressed then added, but we got a couple of rules wrong. Does help if you get them right. Not a great game but certainly interesting with a lot of options especially as the game progresses. Lay a tile then move over three tiles activating tiles as you go. Some big points available late in the game, so you do spend quite a lot of the game trying to get into position to take advantage of them.
And now Cuba has spawned another smaller game. This one is a pick up and deliver. All the players take it in turns moving a truck around the harbour visiting various citizens of the town. You gain something from the citizen, mostly resources but there are a few different ones. But each citizen you stop at gives you access to three different building, you can use one of them and they all do different things.
Both the building and the citizens are on tiles, so they are placed on the board randomly. This give different positions and combinations every time you play the game.
Vlaada’s take on Pictionary. You all get assigned a different word and everyone draws their word simultaneously. While you are drawing you also need to work out what the other players are drawing. The faster you can work things out, the more points you can score, but hurry too much and you might make mistakes and loose points. Four difficulty levels for the words should give it some legs.
My only worry is the complex scoring may be hard for non-gamers in what should be a gateway game
Played quite a few new games this month thanks to the Wintercon gaming convention and some Christmas gifts.
Flash Point: Fire Rescue - I had a lot of fun playing this one. This was played early at the convention, and there was only two of us, so we played it a couple of times. The action point system and different characters kind of reminded me of Defenders of the Realm, while the constant bad things happening gave me the feeling of Red November. Great mix up if you ask me, and tough. Great game!
Army of Frogs - A game I put on my wishlist after a couple of plays. I like this better than Hive, even though it does have some random aspects to it. I like how it plays 4 players and is much easier to learn, but still difficult to play well.
Ra - Got to play this classic at the convention and really enjoyed it. We played with 5, and it was tough. In the end, I tied for the most points, but lost the tiebreaker. This game was way better than I expected when I heard about it.
Fortuna - A game I won in a contest held by the publisher. This is a light resource management game, with some luck to it, but plenty of ways that you can help mitigate that luck. I like how you can only choose from a few options, and the one you choose, you must swap out with another player's options, giving you both something new to choose from. Makes for some interesting gameplay.
Le Havre - Played the shortened version of this at the convention, and would like to try the full game. Seems similar to Caylus with different buildings to build and use, and the different resources to go after. Tough decisions, and feeding only adds extra pressure.
5 Second Rule - A party game my sister-in-law got for Christmas from my parents, and then the next day my wife opened a gift from her parents and got this also. This is a pretty quick game where you must name 3 things that the card asks of you, but you only have 5 seconds. It's tough when you're put on the spot.
Founding Fathers - Got to play this at the convention. Wasn't too impressed with it, I felt the game was too open with little direction to lead players with what to do. You kind of just have to try to get as many points as you can, and hope that enough other players will vote with you to help you do so. Kind of weird, and may need to play it again to get a better understanding.
Pergamon - Another convention game, found this a little too simplistic and just not my style. The placement for money is interesting, otherwise I thought the rest of it was just ok.
I also got to try out a couple of expansions this month.
Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower - I think this is a great expansion that greatly enhances the base game. A lot of new options open up, and the new monster types and mega bosses add a lot more difficulty. This is just what the base game needed.
Railways of England and Wales - This is a tight map. 5 players on this map makes for a tough battle, just the way I like it.
Well happy new year everyone, and here's to more gaming in 2012!
Five new-to-me games this month. The Star Trek deckbuilding game is my pick for the best of them. I've only played it once so far, but it seems fun. Of course it is somewhat similar to other deck-builders. Like Thunderstone, there are different places from which you build your deck and from which you score. But here, the scoring deck (I think called the exploration deck) has a bit more going on. First, you don't know what is going to come up. You could have to fight another ship, you could have to fight your opponents, or you could have the opportunity to go on a mission. Each of these requires different strengths in your deck. I'm still not sure if deck specialization or generalization will be the better strategy, but after one play, both appear plausible. I'm really looking forward to exploring this one more.
A Game of Thrones: The Card Game: One play. I love the mix of strategy and tactics--especially the planning necessary to succeed in battling your opponents in multiple areas. Deciding what to use to attack and what to save for defense is always an interesting decision. So far just one play with my wife. I was the Baratheons and she was the Targaryens. I won mostly due to a few big mistakes that she made towards the end--I had been struggling up until that point. Though I like it, this will be a hard one to get to the table. I think I will have to review the rules every time I play it, and it takes a while. Generally, this game takes a lot of effort, and there are equally fun games that require less of a commitment to bring to the table.
Flash Point: Fire Rescue: Three plays. This game is a lot like Pandemic, but is different enough in theme and mechanics to be its own game. And it's fun. Both Flash Point and Pandemic hit a nice spot as family friendly games that still have a lot going on. After three plays, I haven't beaten Flash Point. I assume I will eventually, but IMHO losing at a co-op until you get pretty good at it is a good thing.
Jungle Speed Five plays. A fun, on-dimensional party game. I'll play this one a lot more, mostly with non-gamers.
Count Your Chickens! Three plays. An ok kids game that I bought for my daughter for Christmas. It's not as fun as Go Away Monster, but it's nice because she is learning how to count, and she is really into animals. She tends to get distracted from this one, though, and since every player moves the same chicken towards the same goal, it doesn't really teach turn taking or indoctrinate her into game playing very well.
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My favorite new game this month was the one I gave as a Christmas present to my 13-year-old son: Sid Meier's Civilization. We only had time to play it once, but it took about 5 hours, not counting the 90-minute rules explanation from my son (who did a great job teaching us after reading the rulebook himself), and it was a total blast! I was thrilled that both my 13-year-old and 11-year-old boys now consider it their favorite game of all time! I think this is superb design that captures the feel of the popular computer game very well. The way combat is conducted with the 4 sided army cards and the variable stacking limits is uniquely brilliant, rewarding the person who invests heavily in a military strategy without making each battle a sure win. The way a tech-tree is built strikes the perfect balance between being overly complex and not having enough choice, and the production values in this game are top-notch. The main reason I only rate it a 9 out of 10 instead of the full 10 is because even at 5 hours, the game can feel a little prematurely truncated when you've been working towards one or two victory conditions the whole time and are almost there only to have victory snatched away by someone else fulfilling a different victory condition just ahead of you: this is a race to the finish! I'm also not entirely sure how balanced each of the winning conditions are yet. But I eagerly look forward to playing this a lot more in the future, and with the excitement building from my boys, that shouldn't be hard to do.
Here's a photo taken at the end of our game:
Here are the other 10 games played this month that were new to me, in descending order of how high I've rated them:
Aton - My rating: 8.5/10. I got this as a freebie at BGG.CON 2011 and was surprised at what an elegant little 2-player area majority game it is! There's a good reason for why it won the 2006 IGA 2-player game award. It's an excellent quick-playing game with multiple paths to victory and a unique way of allocating cards to determine the relative strength of your actions!
Commands & Colors: Ancients - My rating: 8/10. This was a Christmas gift to my other gamer son that he was likewise enthralled with. I enjoyed C&C more than Memoir '44 with the added complexity and strategic options that leaders, formations, more pieces, and battling back bring.
Dixit Odyssey - My rating: 8/10. I love Dixit, and this is basically a standalone expansion that is more of the same, but that works for up to 12 players! It includes optional party rules. The art seems to be a little stranger in this version - not a bad thing.
Core Worlds - My rating: 7.5/10. I really enjoyed my first game with interesting decisions between conquering worlds and picking up better units and tactics to prepare for conquering better worlds in the future. It provides a bevy of difficult choices and it's fairly tight, as energy (the currency of the game) is not plentiful and there's usually "one more thing" I want to do but can't. It's enough fun that I would consider rating it an 8.5. But what brings it down a couple of notches for me is that there is not as much control as it may first appear, and the game ends with me feeling like I still didn't get enough time to make good use of my deck. I won't be cycling through it as often as I would in Dominion, and cards bought in the last third of the game will probably only be used once, if at all.
Long Shot - My rating: 7/10. Definitely a light family game, and one that might last a hair longer than it should, but it's just plain fun rooting for a set of horses to cross the finish line first, and there are some interesting choices to be made. And the fact that it can handle 8 players is great!
Abandon Ship - My rating: 6.5/10. A decent 30-minute race/deduction/bluffing game with the great theme of rats jumping off the Titanic before it sinks. It's like a lighter version of Clans as players try to figure out who cares about which rats. And it's always fun to roll 8-dice at once.
Mirror, Mirror - My rating: 6.5/10. A fast-playing game with a very light chess feel but with the awesome twist of having to guess which of your opponent's pieces carries the all-important red letter. There isn't a lot to it, and it's easier to look behind your opponent's pieces than I was hoping, but it's still a solid little 2-player filler.
Twister Hoopla - My rating: 5.5/10. A great family party game with 5 different ways to play. There can still be some body contact with one of the games, but overall this is a completely different game from the original Twister. The rings it comes with are sturdy toys in their own right, and there's lots of silly fun to be had in the box.
Clue Suspect - My rating: 4.5/10. Basically Clue as a card game that plays 5 times faster than the board game with less rooms and weapons and no movement.
Robo Champ - My rating: 2/10. There's not much to this Lego game, but the robots are kind of cute, and there's some fun to be had for very young children.
Resident Evil Deck Building Game: Nightmare
You could say I'm partial to the RE DBG, but this new expansion is really fantastic. It not only includes a nifty box that holds all 4 sets so far (with dividers), but it goes back to the roots of the original game, only it adds new types of cards that are more useful to all types of players, allowing everybody to enjoy the game a bit more, as opposed to having a pro dominate every time.
Gave this to my brother for Christmas, and we've played two games so far with four players. Overall I really like the fresh idea behind the game (at least it seems fresh to me), and how the game changes with every play. I'm not so sure about a game where you tear up cards and materials, but it does add a bit of an edge to the game.
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia
I've played the Legendary Asia board twice now (haven't tried the team game yet) and I like it well enough. I managed to squeak a victory in the second play having 106 points to the 105 points the second place guy got. I'm always up for more Ticket to Ride maps, and I'll be getting the India map pack as well.
Not really sure what to think of this one yet. My friends and I didn't play an entire game, as it seemed confusing for most of us, and we ended up switching to Risk Legacy.
I got a bunch of other games in December, but haven't had a chance to play them yet:
Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion Clan
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)
Carcassonne: Wheel of Fortune
Pandemic: On the Brink
Thunderstone: Heart of Doom
Eugene van der Pijll
The best new game I played last month was Kingdom Builder. I enjoyed my first play of this very much. Each turn is a puzzle: you get a random card which determines the options that you have, and within those restrictions you have to try to optimize your position, so you'll have better options next time whatever card you draw.
I played this about five times already, and had a good time every time.
The other new games, in descending order (although there wasn't much difference in quality: they were all pretty good):
The ultra-light version of Race for the Galaxy. No role selection, but only playing cards that give you points and cards each turn. Enjoyable, and because of the short length it will be played a lot here.
A real brainburner, that is maybe just a bit too heavy. Because of the large turn-to-turn changes of the board, it's hard to see the consequences of your moves in advance. Perhaps not as good as Dvonn or Tzaar, but still a good game.
Cool asymmetrical deduction game. In my first play, it seemed like the inspector had just a bit of an advantage over the fugitive player, but that may have been because of my inexperience
Small deck-building game without any randomness, but with lots of interaction between the players. Very tactical game.
Building game with flexible foam pieces. I don't yet know if it's a good game, but it certainly is a unique one.
Trading game for two players. Nothing special, really, but not bad either.
I also played a number of expansions that I didn't know yet:
Carcassonne: The School
Small expansion, not too much effect on the game, but it was ok. Light enough not to influence the base game play too much, but enjoyable.
Carcassonne: The Tower
Makes the game too heavy, too confrontational; I didn't like this one.
The Count of Carcassonne
Same as the Tower, only a bit less so. I won't add this one to my games again either.
Thurn and Taxis: All Roads Lead to Rome
We played the Rome part of this expansion. It was nice, but I like the first T&T expansion much better.
Is it january allready. Man time is moving fast.
I thought I only played one game but I played three new to me ones.
Two great games and one good game.
Le havre is great. The only problem we encountered is that we run out of time. I don't think next time that will be a problem though.
With all the possible combos it can be AP prone. so be warned.
We played with three which gave all of us plenty of ac tions and things to choose from. I think it might get messy with more. More players mean less actions between feeding, less actions to choose from and more difficult to acquire good buildings.
There is a variant posted on the loan payment. I think you pay 1 dollar if you have one loan and 2 dollars if you have more than one loan.
The way the loans work actually adds to the gameplay. I deliberately wanted to be short one time so i could take another loan... that allowed me to build for my future instead of being worried that I had enough food that round.
Not being able to take an action because you don't have the means is really good too.
Power Struggle is at most LL1 (Some necessary text - easily memorized or small crib sheet). I can see why LL2 is confusing (Moderate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups)
There is a moderate amount of text on the event cards. However in order to play the game you don't need to know what it says. It is clear by use of a - red number (negative) or a + green number what it does to the motivation.
There is text on the arch enemy competence cards but even that I wouldn't describe as LL2. It's easy enough to look it up at the second board. Finally each player has double sided player aides in the english edition (english and german) It is a player aid. you don't need it to play the game.
Why the heck am I talking about the Language level. well I paid double the price to acquire power struggle instead of machtspiele.
Anyway the people I play with in Mol all liked it a lot. Perhaps the only complaint was that there was perhaps too little control as players actions could seriously change things. Luckily that didn't result in huge amount of downtime.
John Silver is a quick card game. It's actually pretty good. As so often with short trick taking games in this group of players when one player makes a mistake it changes the outcome of the game. Most of the time these mistakes are made because there isn't a full understanding of the result of their action. This game is no different. But hey it's a short game. I think we played it in twenty minutes. You can play it with three with the use of a dummy player (whe doesn't have actions but can win tricks) . I think it's a mainly four player game.
I played a few new games this month, but this great Christmas gift from my lovely wife was the December star. There is a surprising amount of strategy in this game. Because you can perform your actions, moves, power adjustments and card play in any order, you have a lot of decisions to make on each turn. The variety of ships, missions, command decks and encounters, makes this an infinitely replayable game. I've played it with both two and four players, and it worked great both ways.
Other new games:
Urban Sprawl - Enjoyable game, but too long for what it is. If I'm going to spend 3-4 hours on one game, I want a really fun theme and lots of plastic bits.
7 Wonders: Leaders - Fantastic addition to one of my favorite card games. I will always play 7 Wonders with Leaders when possible.
Kingdom Builder - I liked it, but can see it getting old fast. It's still a "like to have" on my wishlist, but won't move up from there.
Famiglia - Cute 2-player game that was a little hard for me to grasp.
North Salt Lake
A pretty good gaming month with 17 new-to-me games played. I'll list them below ranked by the number of plays that I got in during Dec 2011, but I'll put thumbs to indicate my enjoyment of them.
Finally got to play Manoeuvre, which I've owned for a couple of months now. My first few plays were solo, then I've roped in a few partners. I'm enjoying it and hope to enjoy it even more as I become more familiar with each armies strengths and weaknesses.
Tanto Cuore x5
My wife is a big manga/anime nut, plus she loves Dominion and she got this for Christmas. I'd never played this (infamous?) deck-builder before, but I find that it has a lot of things going for it above base Dominion or even Ascension or Thunderstone (or Nightfall, yuck). This game has just that many more layers of interaction and complexity between the cards to make strategies a little less transparent than Dominion, for me. My wife insisted that we play it over and over until she finally beat me.
I bought this from a friend for a really good deal, so I couldn't pass it up. Unfortunately I've only been able to try it 2p so far, and without the expansion in play to boot. I think this could get old that way and I'm looking forward to being able to add in more players to see how the game changes.
Ad Astra x2
This was a pleasant twist on the whole Settlers of Catan thing. I don't know if it's sufficiently different to merit me owning it, but I haven't been burnt out on the original Settlers much yet either. I think if I found Ad Astra for the right price I'd probably add it to the collection.
First time ever playing Scrabble. My wife has always been a fan. I was thoroughly trashed by her. Who knew that ten years of professional engineering experience would be so hard on my Scrabble-legal diction.
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer x1
I liked this. I don't know if I like it enough to buy it, but it was much better than Nightfall and better than Thunderstone. I'd like to play it a few more times, at least.
Carcassonne: The Princess & the Dragon x1
First time with this Carcassonne expansion. I liked it. I'm discouraged by some of the rules ambiguities introduced, but want to get this one back to the table soon.
I really liked this one. I want to try it again soon. I should probably buy it before it goes out of print. Very fun economics / transportation problem. I like finding the way to make money that's synergistic with others but doesn't help them too much.
Worth the hype? Nah. Very fun? Yes. Considering buying? Yes. Would be willing to play it again soon? Definitely.
Here I Stand x1
Very fun. I haven't felt myself thinking this much about a game between sessions ever, I think. The interactions between the game and the meta-game between the players make this a very fun experience.
Junior Labyrinth x1
Too simple. I need a version between this level and full Labyrinth (in terms of complexity) to play with my little guys.
Developed in Utah, this was a fun set collection game that was a bit too much info to juggle for what you got out of it. Still pretty fun.
I liked it. I can see this being more fun with a group than with 2p, which limits my interest in owning it.
Ragnarok: Aesir and Jotunn x1
Decently fun, although I wish the rules were a bit less ambiguous. Worth more than I paid for it, though, for certain (it was a free PnP).
Small World: Be Not Afraid x1
First time with this expansion. Meh. Not enough to differentiate it in my mind, but I'm sorta lukewarm on the whole Small World enterprise anyway.
Thunderstone: Dragonspire x1
Felt cumbersome, like it never really flowed. I couldn't get the rhythm of it internalized, and with six of us it was hard to form a strategy. I think there's other deckbuilders out there that I'll like better.
Twilight Struggle x1
I was beaten soundly as the Americans in my first playthrough. I wasn't inspired by my first play of BGG's #1, but I'd be willing to try it again. It just felt like there wasn't much else I could have done differently with the way the cards went to each of us.
In all a pretty good gaming month, but I'd like to be able to explore some of my favorites a bit more deeply.
EDIT: Fixed a broken image link.
1024x768 works just fine - Don't Wide the Site!
The Back Alley gets no respect.
I got Konexi from my Geek Questions Not So Secret Santa and it's interesting. I think the kids might play it with us some, but I don't see hard-core gamers playing it very much.
Also played Friday the 13th for the first time and, to me, it's just your average card game. Nothing special at all.
Quite a busy month gaming-wise, but not too much new-to-me. In fact, the only new games were ones I bought as gifts for my kids. Or as my wife puts it "for the kids".
For my younger son, I bought King of Tokyo, just in time before it went out of print by the look of it. Played it twice, Gigasaur has won twice and I have been knocked out twice. Despite that, I find myself enjoying it. The game is basically dice rolling and hoping but that is fun in a filler. The cards you can buy to change up and individualize your particular monster have a nice variety of powers and my card combo brain churns away looking for synergy.
That said, the game is pretty random. Getting eliminated is not a big deal - even if you get KO'd early, I have seen folks mentioning the simple variant of re-entering the game with a fresh monster. And in any case, it usually short enough that the elimination is not a problem.
Part of me yearns for a bit more control of what happens on a turn. Perhaps a way to give a more steady income of energy points (the game currency) so the cards can get into play? It would also be cool to distinguish the monsters from the outset rather than as they buy powers - is it as simple as giving everyone some cash to spend at the beginning? Or setting a power card for each monster (something thematic)?
Anyway, I bought this for a game that my 8 year old would love and that part has paid off handsomely.
The game I got for my older son was 10 Days in Asia. Reading Larry Welborn's December challenge (and comments therein) alerted me to the series and its possibilities. After due consideration, I got Asia as it was supposed to be the best of the set and also (importantly) contained the Railroads, a plus in interesting my son. He's also into maps in a big way, so this looked like a good bet. We played it once as a family and the younger one (possibly a little tired from the holiday craziness) didn't really get it, but the older one was engaged and working things out. So that was a good start. What I didn't expect was that my wife and I would try it out 2 player and find it pretty good too. A neat little combination of puzzle and race, it isn't the deepest and won't be one to play every night, but for a quick game of an evening when we're too tired for anything too meaty, this will suffice very well.
There was not as much new to me in December as in the past, in large part because I've slowed down my purchasing and am trying to purchase mainly games I've played and found to be worthy. Still, I managed to get a few new games in this month.
Dominant Species takes the prize for the top spot. It's been on my shelf since December of last year, and now I'm kicking myself for having not gotten it out ASAP. We played a 3 player game with a single species each and it was just great. It was really interesting seeing the board evolve, even while massaging my aching brain. I look forward to more plays of this in 2012!
And with that, we come to the disappointments....already.....
Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game was a game my son got for Christmas, because he absolutely loves the computer game. We played one 3 player game, and none of us are really fired up about getting it back out again. There wasn't enough to do in your cities; the map was explored much too quickly; the combat was FFG standard fiddly card combat; and it was just dull. I would play it again if offered, but I'm not rushing to suggest another game of it.
Train of Thought is an ok party game that requires too much thought for it to really be fun. The concentration gets in the way of the laughing, and a party game without laughing is really no party game at all.
Tide of Iron: Days of the Fox was the one new expansion for the month, and it was reminiscent of the base game. Exciting die rolls, beautiful production, unbalanced scenarios all were included. Still, we had a good time as my tanks cruised over open ground into the face of German AT fire.
Board Game: Dixit Odyssey
[Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:105]
[Average Rating:7.57 Unranked]
No one really wanted to play any new games for December. So 2 kiddies games and one expansion. the expansion taking the top listing
Good game. It is kind of hard to keep track of what each should score (given that I am the only one that fully understands the scoring) and I needs everyone's attention to take the 2 minutes to go through everyone's attempt to see if they scored any points. But that is a small downside to allowing more people to play this super fun game. It made it more fun to have so many selections out there. Loved it.
Angry Birds: Knock on Wood
More of a fun activity than an actual game. After playing with the kids I just let them build their own maps and go at it. Still super glad to have got it for them. I think even adults wouldn't mind trying it all out,
Star Wars R2-D2 is in Trouble
R2-D@ makes it go faster... I am fine playing this game for a shorter amount of time. I can also leave my kids to play it alone (since it is so simple) so that is another bonus. Not much here for anyone else (not that it is trying to be anything more.)
but I'm not the only one
My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours, they are my own
I'm a bit late posting in this geeklist this month.
I got to play quite a few games in December, several of which were new to me, but none of which were outstanding.
I will need few more plays to be sure, but I think Warriors of God will end up being the best of the "new to me" games for December. It's a light area-control, leader-based wargame that takes place over long periods of time during conflicts between England and France. For being a rather light-weight (but not short) wargame, it has flavor (mostly due to the leader personages) and is fun to play.
Star Trek: Expeditions is a co-op game, which although based on the new movie, seems to have taken it's theme from the original TV show (which is a good thing, although there could have been more flavor in the game). As a fan of the original Star Trek, I enjoyed playing (more than my partner did) but I think the replayability is not going to be good, since more adventures will be needed, and the expansions seem to be concentrating on characters instead.
I got the Bionic Woman in a trade, and have enjoyed playing this old game (based on the TV series with Lindsay Wagner). Although we added a couple of simple rules to increase the strategy options, the game is surprisingly fun for a kiddie game.
Hey, That's My Fish! is a simple abstract strategy game with a silly pasted-on theme, but we like it anyway! It has a small enough footprint (at least the edition we got) to be played almost anywhere.
Ghost Stories needs a few more plays to see if we like it more as we get more used to the rules and icons. It's a co-op game that can also be played solo, and a bit fiddly, but I think it may be one of those games that I will like the more I play it.
I finally got Pandemic, along with the expansion, Pandemic: On the Brink, and we played a few games. For various reasons, I don't like it as much as I like Forbidden Island, by the same designer. In comparison to Forbidden Island, Pandemic,s theme is rather distasteful, the board is not good-looking, there is less suspense, and the victory conditions are rather anti-climactic. Yes, the game is more complex, but not as fun.
Sobek was a huge disappointment. Not only wasn't it fun (or even good-looking), but the scoring mechanism for the game seems to be rather broken. In both games we played (checking the rules in between to make sure we hadn't played wrong), one of us had already gotten well over a hundred points by the end of the first round. I considered writing a variant using a different method of scoring, but since the game wasn't much fun, anyway, I didn't.
So, so late to this list.
Twilight Struggle - Not too surprisingly, the number one rated game on BGG, which I tried for the first time this month turned out to be the best game I tried this month. Go figure. Anyway, My wife and I sat down and played this, though it took us at least two sittings to get the whole game in (maybe three?). Despite that, we both loved it. My wife was super impressed with it, thankfully, and I know she'll wanna play it again soon. Especially since she beat me by a long shot. (As the Russians).
Le Havre - We also played the highly rated Le Havre, and most other months it would win. We are both big fans of Uwe's big box games - Even the less popular ones. Another game I am excited to get to the table again.
Turn the Tide - This has been very successful, both at work with a group who have a hard time with slightly complicated games, and with regular, true gamers. It's simple but fun and quick. If you're looking for a filler game, this one's nice.
Old Men of the Forest - This is an example of a slightly complicated game that hasn't gone over as well at work. Personally I think it's pretty straight forward, and it's worked nicely as a filler with the gamers, but met complaints with the work group. (Personally I think they stop trying a little too quickly). Anyway, it's not a perfect game, but I have a proper review waiting to be polished and posted, so I'll discuss it there.
Urban Sprawl - I will say I did enjoy this game, but I didn't love it as much as I would have liked. I suspect it'll get better with more plays though. It took me too long to get my head around the way to play it, and spent almost all of the game behind. I don't mind randomness though.
Archaeology: The Card Game - Given to a family member for Christmas, and played on Christmas afternoon. Very much enjoyed it, another excellent light filler that I think would probably work well with my work-place gamers. Gonna have to pick up myself a copy soon.
Mr. Jack Pocket - Bought a few months ago and only just sitting down to play it, but then playing it a whole bunch of times in a short period, this is a nice game. Though it isn't quite as... satisfying(?) as I'd like. It's more... interesting than fun? I dunno. Glad I got it, and I'm sure it'll get more play.
Elder Sign - We quite enjoyed this. Our main gaming friends don't like Co-op games much, so I don't know if it'd get enough play to justify a purchase, but I am keep to play it some more.
Catan: Seafarers - Mmm. It's not bad. This is the second Catan version I've tried, and I like it fine, but I found both times that it goes too long for my liking. My wife likes it a lot though.
Fische Fluppen Frikadellen - Would normally not be too excited by this game, but we played it with fifteen players and that did make it quite fun. It's played every December at our gaming group. I managed to come in second.
High Bohn Plus - And an expansion too. First time playing a Bohnanza expansion. We like the base game a lot and never bothered before, but some friends of ours had this one, so we gave it a go and it was really fun. Would play again for sure.