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New to You 2011! Your Best New Game of the Year
Andy
United Kingdom
Stockport
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What was the best new game you played in 2011?

Please share you experiences of the best game you played for the first time in 2011.


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26. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:47]
♬♪♪ ♫ ♩ ♫♫♪ ♩♬♪ ♫
Australia
MURRUMBEENA
Victoria
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance... (Iain Banks)
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Exactly 60 new games played this year, and I found myself "shortlisting" 20 of them! Obviously I need an editor.

Troyes
Owned, Rated 9:10
Troyes has been the real stand-out this year, and I curse the shipping delays that prevented it arriving sooner in Australia. It plays well with 2, 3 or 4 players and is interesting and challenging with each play.
Top Ten Game.

Dominion: Hinterlands & Dominion: Cornucopia
Owned, Rated 9:10
I am cheating by listing these two together, but I class all of Dominion as one game. These are good expansions. I'm a great fan of the franchise.
Top Ten Game.

Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game
Owned, Rated 8:10
It's a toy! And my goodness it's fun. A pure antidote for people who forget that games can be about playtime, and need reminding to play.

Seeland
Owned, Rated 8:10
Seeland has the distinction of being the game out of my collection that gets borrowed most frequently. I recommend people go straight to the "advanced" game.

Olympos
Owned, Rated 7.5:10
Very light approach to the Civ genre, which is made interesting (and given high replay value) by the changing array of advancement tiles. Excellent use of a Thebes-style time track too.

Mondo
Owned, Rated 7.5:10
One of the best 20 minute games I own. Extremely easy to teach, with almost instantaneous setup, but it is challenging for serious gamers.

Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 - ?
Owned, Rated 7.5:10
I love the asymmetry! Labyrinth feels tense and demands your attention all the time, and has great moments when cards combine to allow stunning coups. Also one of the best rulebooks I own, a pleasure to read in it own right.

And then there were these! All good, but I had to draw the line somewhere:
Eminent Domain, Last Will, A Few Acres of Snow, Letters from Whitechapel, Paris Connection, Kingdom Builder, Ice Flow, Gonzaga, Ascending Empires, The Truckers, Attila, Glen More & Palastgeflüster.

Edit: grammar, and removed superfluous! exclamation! marks!
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27. Board Game: Dominion: Seaside [Average Rating:8.11 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.11 Unranked]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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2011 wasn't a bad gaming year. I played a lot of games and had a ton of fun with them. There was some time during the year where gaming took a back seat to other things, but at least we didn't miss as many game sessions because of illness or injury. And I must have done a good job of pushing new-to-me games, because I've got some great games on this list.

As I've said the last few years: In my opinion, if I didn't pick a game as the best new-to-me game in the month I first played it, then there's no way it's my best new-to-me game of the year. This was a hard commitment again for me this year simply because I really grew to love Magical Athlete, but it took second place in my April entry. However, since my favorite new game of the year beat it that month, I'll live with it. So, once again, I'll rank the 12 games I picked as my new-to-me favorites for each month.


1 = Dominion: Seaside (April) - 2011 is the year that Dominion became one of my Top 10 games. And a large part of that was because of this expansion. I literally love everything this expansion added to the game. The duration cards add some great twists and the handful of cards that add separate little boards are very interesting. It was this expansion that hooked my wife on the base game and convinced her that it was one she would like to play more. In fact, it wasn't until I bought this expansion that my friends got hooked on the game as well. I literally have ZERO complaints about this expansion and I believe it is my favorite in the entire Dominion series.


2 = Dominion: Intrigue (March) - OK, slightly less enthusiasm for this Dominion expansion (Note: I said slightly.) While I adore the variety that this expansion brings it probably has stood out the least among the expansions I own for Dominion. There are a few cards in this expansion that are favorites, but at times it can feel like this expansion is just more of the same. Of course, when you are more of the same for a game that I love, that's not a bad thing. The choice cards add some interesting twists that you don't see in most of the other expansions, and the added interaction in this expansion is welcome.


3 = Shadow Hunters (January) - Many people would be dissatisfied with an expansion as their best new-to-you game of the year, so now we arrive at the first base game on this list. I love hidden roles/goals, and this game pulls that mechanism off so well. The feel of the game is perfect and it packs lots of tension in such a short game. I like the suspicious glances that players throw around the table, never really knowing who they can trust. Then there is a slow reveal as identities/allegiances become known and players race to kill their foes. Big thanks to my buddy Andy for running the play-by-forum games here on BGG, those really got me hooked on this game.


4 = Say Anything Family Edition (October) - This is a great remake of an already great party game. There's really not a lot to say here, because they didn't change much. But that's a good thing! It was truly a case of a game that wasn't broke so there was no need to fix it. The new questions are a welcome addition, and they probably are a little bit more family-friendly. Otherwise, I don't see much difference between the 2 games. In fact I have already started playing with the 2 sets combined so we can get as many players as the original game allowed, but with the new questions that the Family Edition added. A truly great party game.


5 = Ad Astra (February) - How can a game that I only played one time 11 months ago rank this high on my New-to-You 2011 list? I still think about it. This game had such an interesting and unique feel that I just never experienced anything quite like it. Sure it had some of the mechanisms of Settlers (a game I dislike) but it used them in a much more interesting way. I loved the exploration aspect of the game, and the way that the players determined the order that different actions would be taken. It intrigued me how you had to closely watch your opponents and what they were doing before you made a decision about what you would do. All in all, this is a great game that I wish would be more interesting for my family, because I'd love to own it and play again.


6 = The Dwarf King (November) - I have a sneaking suspicion that this game could creep up in the future and overtake several of the games above it on this list. As soon as I buy myself a copy, you can bet I will explore it more. I'm already a huge fan of trick-taking games, but this one added such an interesting, yet chaotic, twist. The combination of different scoring for each hand and a special card in each hand, just made for a great experience. As I said in November when I listed this as the best of the month, I just couldn't stop saying "I like this game" while we were playing. With a first impression that strong, I'm hoping the game will just get better with more experience.


61 = Finca (January) - I have to open this comment the same as Dwarf King, once I play it some more there's a real good chance this game will creep up the list. Not much more to add to my comment I made on the December New-to-You list. I just love that they give you multiple paths to victory, and there are a lot of things to think about on every turn. But, even though you have to plan ahead and strategize, the rules are ridiculously simple. That's a great combo for my family.


62 = Around the World in 80 Days (July) - I have geekbuddies who know me so well. Several of them suggested this game to me, and I’m really glad I own a copy. In fact the only downside to this game is the fact that I haven't got it back to the table yet. What makes this game relatively high on my list is the simplicity of the rules without sacrificing strategy. I like how players have to balance pushing to the finish in real time, while not using up too much game time. That whole timeline thing is mind-bending, but really interesting. Just typing this comment makes me even more anxious to play this game again, in fact it may hit the table this week.


63 = Dice Town (September) - Well, pardner, if you chuck a bunch of dice on the table I'm bound to enjoy the game at least somewhat. And, sure enough, I enjoy this game. I will say that the one problem I have discovered after playing a couple times is that the game can go a bit long. I'm tempted to shorten it up a bit, but I still do like the game. The way that the mechanisms insure that each player will at least get some type of benefit from their turn is really nice. The game definitely has an element of bluff in it, and a healthy dose of back-stabbing as people steal cards and such. I think the aspect of bribing the sheriff to win ties is really creative as well.


64 = Zero (August) - What makes this game really interesting is that they did the whole Family Feud thing (polled the populace) but with questions that have a set number of right answers. Now every answer that is right will be on there, and the more obscure ones are actually the best ones for you to guess! The problem with this game is that it can annoy non-trivia lovers a little, because it not only requires them to know answers to these questions, but penalizes them if they only know the most popular answer. I also wish it came with more cards, because over the past 5 months we've almost used them all.


65 = Bloodsuckers (June) - It's probably not fair for me to rank this game with the other competitors on this list because I only had a chance to demo it once while we were in the middle of a convention hall. In fact, I don't even think we played a full game. However the design was really well done, and I have to keep talking about this game because I'm afraid it is flying under everyone's radar. The Dewitts have made another solid game here, and it is very thematic. I think it should appeal to a lot of gamers, especially those that are into the vampire theme. As for me, well, my family just doesn't get into games with themes like this so I couldn't justify a purchase.


66 = Nacht der Magier (May) - I don't get the love for this game. It is a cool gimmick, and that has me curious about playing again some day, but the game itself just isn't very interesting. If the lights were on I can't imagine playing this game more than once. There are so many other, better dexterity games on the market. But a really fun gimmick can make a bland game become intriguing, and so it is with this one. When the opportunity presents itself (a really dark environment, and a hard surface to play on) perhaps I will think to bring this game along. Until then I'm just not that excited by this game. But I will say this, it was better than the other new game I played in May.
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28. Board Game: 1st & Goal [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1185]
Dean Rekich
United States
Lyndora
Pennsylvania
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My best new game of 2011 came in the last couple of weeks of the year. 1st and Goal is the football game I have always been looking for. I have tried Card Football and 3rd and Long but neither did much for me.

The next part I wrote on BGG in the last week, but I thought would be worth reposting ***

I own and have played both Pizza Box Football and 1st & Goal. While I *like* Pizza Box, I *love* 1st & Goal!

Pizza Box has 3 flaws for me, and 1st & Goal fixes all 3.

One, game length. Pizza Box takes about 2 hours to play. I realize some people can play it faster, but it takes me and my significant other (the Mary of deanmary) about 2 hours. Whereas after your first learning game of 1st & Goal, it should take only about an hour to play a whole game. 2 hours is just too long for us, but 1 hour is just perfect.

Two, fiddlyness. I know many people on BGG hate that word, but nevertheless Pizza Box seems too fiddly to me. There is too much looking at charts and other things that take away from the game. Also there is too much "note taking" which needs to be done. For example, in PB, you have to move a peg after every play to keep track of how much time is left and how far you move it depends on the play type and other factors. That may not sounds like much, but having to do so after each play becomes a pain. In 1st & Goal, there is a 60 card offensive deck. After every passing play, you have one less card in the deck. After every running play, you have two less cards (you burn an extra card after every running play). When the offensive deck is done, the half is over. It is as simple as that!

Three, play calling. In PB, the plays you call never seemed to affect the outcome of the play as much as I would like. Even if on defense I called the perfect play, it didn't seem to have a big effect on the outcome on the play. 1st & Goal is very different. If I make a bad defensive call, there is a very good chance I will get gouged for many yards. On the other hand, if I make a great defensive call, there is a very good chance my opponent will lose yards on the play.

Of course, I am sure some people prefer Pizza Box. Also from comments I have read here on BGG, some people think *both* games are way too easy, simplistic, etc. However I tend to like shorter, lighter games, so 1st & Goal is the perfect game for me.

As for cons, I have one nit-picky one, but a con nonetheless. I hate having to put the stickers on the dice in 1st & Goal. You get 10 dice with the base game, so that equals 60 stickers to place. If you have OCD like I do, you then are extremely picky and careful to get the sticker centered just right, on the "right" side of the dice, etc. Blecch! With each expansion set, you get 4 teams with 7 dice for each team. So that works out to 168 stickers to put on. I would have been much happier to pay an extra 5 dollars for the base game and an extra 5 dollars for each expansion set and not have to put on the stickers. But considering this is my biggest con of the game, you can see how little I find wrong with the game. ***

One update to this is that I might have been off when I wrote about a playing time of one hour. It may be closer to 80 minutes. Of course a lot depends on how each game goes. I give 1st and Goal a solid 9 rating.

My runner up for game of the year is Sobek. I really like this "super-filler". The art is lovely. I like how you use only 5 of the possible 12 event tokens each round. The choice of whether to take a better card, but get stuck with corruption points is fun as well.

We play with one house rule: we make it that the person with the most corruption goes back a play space for every *5* points of corruption instead of every *10* points. This makes the pain of having the corruption penalty sting more!

I think the sweet spot for the game is 3 players, although it also plays well with only 2 players.

I just wish that on the character cards they had included text for what each card does. For some reason the icons seem hard to remember for us. It would be great if someone here on BGG could post some text captions that could be put as stickers on each of the character cards. (Hint, hint!) I rate Sobek an 8.

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29. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:53]
Håkan König
Sweden
Linköping
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Sadly, I've only played 15 new games in 2011!

Didn't make the list: Tooor!, Mystery Rummy: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld, Amyitis, Mousquetaires du Roy & Martian Fluxx.
Amyitis & Mousquetaires du Roy could maybe have made the list, but I only got to play each once, and both games were plagued with rules discussions, uncertainty of how to play and general confusion. MdR took 3h! Really, it didn't go very well. But, on the plus side, I think we sorted out most things and a second game must improve my impression of the games.


Top 10:
d10-1d10-0 Snow Tails OK game.
d10-9 Aquaretto OK game.
d10-8 The Rivals for Catan New version of Settlers card game. Works very well for us.
d10-7 Dream Factory
d10-6 Discworld: Ankh-Morpork I love Discworld, and this was a good game.
d10-5 The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game Considering that this is one of only two new game that got multiple plays, it may be a bit surprising that it only reaches #5 on my top list. But it is a card game and sometimes I just don't feel satisfied with the end in this game. Too often there is no real climax, the game just ends on a turn just like every other turn.
d10-4 Macao. Close call, but this one will have to stay just behind the top 3.
d10-3 Vasco da Gama We misplayed only a single rule, and it was enough to convince me that this is a very good game.
d10-2 7 Wonders Great card game.
And best new game of 2011 is:
d10-1 Railways of the World It's just as great as it's big brother Age of Steam
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30. Board Game: Jaipur [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:90]
...sure...
Netherlands
Rijen
Noord Brabant
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Jaipur
Vanuatu
Trajan
Xe Queo!
Keltis
Singapore
Hansa Teutonica
Axis & Allies: Pacific
Jungle Treasure
SOS Wildwasser
Skip-Bo
Dutch Blitz
Eketorp
10 Days in Europe
Dolfje Weerwolfje: Het bordspel
Code 777
Troyes
Enchanted Forest
Dog
Zombie Dice
Phase 10 - Das Brettspiel
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31. Board Game: Dungeon Twister 2: Prison [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:616]
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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This was a record-setting year for me, as I played 100 different games. Of those, 63 were new-to-me; second only to my first real year of gaming, 2008.

For my nominees for "Best New" of the year, I decided to use all of my winners, runner-ups and honorable mentions from my entries on Grimwold's monthly list. I'm extending it to the runner-ups etc because the quality of new games varies from month to month, and the runner up one month might have been "best" if it had been a month earlier. For example, 60% of my Top 10 were from just 2 particularly good months, April and December. Also, I want to allow the possibility for a game to grow on me: case in point, my game-of-the-year was only my 2nd-ranked game in April.

Nominees for Best New-to-me Game of 2011:

January:
Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India
7 Wonders
February:
Manoeuvre
Luna
Key Market
March:
Castle Panic
April:
Isla Dorada
Dungeon Twister 2: Prison
Rattus
Neuroshima Hex!
May:
Outdoor Survival
June:
Leaping Lemmings
July:
No new games!
August:
The Castles of Burgundy
September:
No new games!
October:
Meuterer
Merchants & Marauders
November:
The Road to Canterbury
Twilight Struggle
Abalone
Carolus Magnus
December:
Confucius
Founding Fathers
Tales of the Arabian Nights

Most of my Top 10 fell into place relatively easily, except for #10. I had the hardest time choosing between Abalone, Carolus Magnus, and Isla Dorada. I finally went with...

Number 10

Isla Dorada (Bruno Faidutti, Andrea Angiolino, Alan R. Moon, Pier Giorgio Paglia; 2010): 8/10
JohnnyDollar in April 2011 wrote:
This is definitely a hidden gem, in my opinion one of the most under-rated games of 2010. Must-try for any Faidutti fan, I would say it ranks up there with his best. It doesn't try to be anything other than what it is, which is best described by Mr. Faidutti himself: "It’s not a sophisticated management or development game, it’s just a dynamic, fun, varied and highly interactive movement game." (For anyone interested, on Faidutti.com there is a lot of nice background info - this game has been 10-years-in-the-making!). The most fun and fresh aspect to me was the "group" movement: we all bid on where the explorers as a group go next.

This is a FunForge/FFG game, but the production quality is on par with a typical Days of Wonder game (high praise indeed), same kind of "light family game" feel to it too. Gorgeous art, which has a kind of European-style cartoony quality to it. If the gaming gods are at all just, this one should get at least an SdJ nomination this year...

This is my favorite art and production of my Top 10, and that's saying a lot, given this bunch of games.

It didn't get an SdJ nomination unfortunately.
I've played one more session of this since April. I don't own it but, but it is now on my wishlist. Wonderful family game or light gamer's game. Not a big fan of the idea of group bidding, I'm happy with the base rules as written.


Number 9

Founding Fathers (Christian Leonhard & Jason Matthews; 2010): 9/10
JohnnyDollar in December 2011 wrote:
Although a game themed around the constitutional convention might sound dry, this is actually one of the more exciting games I've played all year. Wonderful theme/mechanism integration. Also one of the best "educational" games I've played, as not only is it historically accurate and delves lovingly into the details of the founding, but it's got a meaty, interesting game design as well. The historical angle is interesting and fascinating, for example, you get to see the "alternative" to each article of the constitution.

I don't own the game. But, I liked it so much, I was inspired to register at Yucata.de so I could play it online, and promptly jumped into 4 simultaneous games. I also got in another FTF game.

One thing I've noticed as I've played more is that it plays very differently based on number of players. With 3 players, you can afford to be strategic and plan ahead. With 5 players, after the first couple votes, each turn of yours could be your last, so you have to adjust your plans accordingly.

The game design has a nice mix of short-term gain vs. long-term investment. I also like how each round has a "mini-arc" as things crescendo to states getting locked out, a yay vs nay dynamic develops, the debates heat up, etc, then things reset all over again. Once states start getting locked out, the debates and the events mean there is still plenty to do with the cards.

The mechanics feel very political (which is good thematically). You are forging temporary alliances for the yay or nay of a particular bill. On top of that, there is the incentive to be on the losing side (committee room) which gives the game a good balance.

I'm enjoying looking at the details of the production as well: the flags on the cards, for example, and the beautiful historically accurate calligraphy on the articles.


Number 8

Tales of the Arabian Nights (Anthony Gallela, Eric Goldberg, Kevin Maroney, & Zev Shlasinger; 2009): 9/10
JohnnyDollar in December 2011 wrote:
This was awesome. 90% theme and 10% strategy, it's all about the journey in this one. And gorgeous, detailed production; even the back of the board is beautiful. One thing I would caution: do not approach this like D&D, where your character specializations will help you every time in the appropriate context. Rather, approach it as a crazy fable that you get to help create, and where SOMETIMES a specialization will help, but not always. Also, I wasn't expecting it to have the Arkham Horror "bad things happen. over. and over. and over" feel to it that it did. While I enjoy that aspect, I would probably house rule that people can only have 2 or 3 bad cards at at time, otherwise it can get too frustrating for some.

I don't own the game. I played it for the first time this month, but, it has vaulted into must-have on my wishlist.


Number 7

Luna (Stefan Feld; 2010): 9/10
JohnnyDollar in February 2011 wrote:
Got 2 plays of this in: mixes of area control and worker placement, but put together in a creative and engaging way with all kinds of spatial dynamics going on. VERY original theme (how many games can you "meditate" in?). The timing mechanism is brilliant, as it is controlled by the players: 4 cumulative meditations and the round's over. This leads to a lot of games of chicken and bluffing. Be prepared for the first play to be somewhat overwhelming w/the number of possible actions; believe me, it will all "click" in the 2nd play!

I have since gotten in a third play, and upgraded the rating from 8 to 9. Don't own, but, on wishlist. The game has encouraged me to try out some of Feld's other games, such as Macao and Die Burgen von Burgund. I enjoyed them, and now appreciate him as a designer of intricate euro mechanisms that work together like clockwork. But, to date, this one is still my favorite of his.


Number 6

Confucius (Alan Paull; 2008): 9/10
JohnnyDollar in December 2011 wrote:
This game deserves to be much more well-known than it is; I'm guessing that has a lot to do with it coming from a smaller publisher. While it does have many euro elements such as action selection, area control, and hand management, don't expect something in the "elegant" streamlined vein of games typically out of Germany. Rather, this has come from the fevered imagination of a Brit inspired by the complex social mores, political intrigues and foreign endeavors of medieval China. The result is a beautiful and thought-provoking game design that turns your brain to mush if you try for too long to analyze its intricate webs of social obligations.

Just played this month for the first time. Don't own it. But, I was the one who learned and taught the game for a friend, so I got to know it well enough that I know it's good enough that I've put it on my wishlist.


Number 5

Twilight Struggle (Ananda Gupta & Jason Matthews; 2005): 9/10
JohnnyDollar in November 2011 wrote:
Learned this after Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, can you get a much better Thanksgiving day than that?
Ahhh, I just can't stop thinking about this game. Absolutely worthy of the #1 ranking crown. The mechanics are perfectly in sync with the geopolitical bipolar super-power influence-struggle theme. I love the tug of war VP track. Love the space race both in theme and concept as a card sink (even though it totally hated me and it took me until mid-war I think to even launch a satellite into orbit). Very balanced design that forces you to consider all fronts in the "cold war". Neglect the military ops at your own peril, for example. Counting down the days until I can play this again...

Do not own, but now on wishlist. Haven't had a chance to play again, as it's hard to get 2-player games in around here.
I played this game as part of my quest to play all the BGG Top 10 games. Some I like, some I'm so-so on. But games I love, like this one, make the quest worthwhile.


Number 4

Manoeuvre (Jeff Horger; 2008): 9/10
JohnnyDollar in February 2011 wrote:
Got one play of this in, and fell in love with it. Echoes of chess and the C&C system, with wonderful replayability: tons of terrain and 8 different armies. I dug up some old posts by the designer describing his historical research in creating the armies, which is pretty cool and enhances the gameplay. This game strikes a perfect balance between abstraction and theme, and also strategy and tactics, that just clicked with me.

Do not own; but nearly immediately this became must-have wishlist status, and I am also eyeing the Distant Lands expansion. Unfortunately I have not gotten in any further plays since February; as mentioned above, 2-player games are a bit hard for me to get played.


Number 3

Rattus (Henrik & Ase Bert; 2010): 9/10
JohnnyDollar in April 2011 wrote:
The Black Plague has always held a morbid fascination for me so I lapped this theme right up. Short, simple role selection/area influence euro, just the right game length for the game complexity. Interesting twist of getting "stuck" with a character unless someone steals it from you, and being able to take anyone's character you want. Very nicely balanced and designed, with a dynamic game arc of increasing plague danger as the population slowly increases throughout the game. And, I like the simplicity of simply scoring survivors at the end.

Do not own, but, it achieved must-have wishlist status very fast. Also it grew on me to the point that I upgraded it from 8 to 9 rating. When the 2010 Essen bonus characters were briefly available, I snatched those up in preparation for eventually owning the game. The Pied Piper expansion will also be a given. Not too sure about the most recent Africanus expansion. One of the things I like about the game is its streamlined simplicity, and I'm not sure I'd be into the extra layers added by Africanus.


Number 2

The Road to Canterbury (Alf Seegert; 2011): 9/10
JohnnyDollar in November 2011 wrote:
Brand new 2011 game from Gryphon and Alf Seegert, and it hits the ball out of the park on all fronts. Refreshingly original theme, love the sense of humor and the way the theme plays right into the mechanics with the pilgrim's "sin of choice" etc. Awesome gameboard based on medieval art by Hieronymous Bosch. Game-play is a medium-weight mix of area influence (implemented in an unusual way), hand management and set collection (also implemented in an unusual way) with some push-your-luck aspects and a good dose of chaos & luck. A lot of interwoven parts to keep things interesting. Components and production are top-notch, beautiful, sturdy, great box insert (one of my favorites ever), and the "coin purses" are the best bags I've seen included with a game. In fact this might just be the best quality components out of the 100+ games I own.

I got in 3 plays of this over the month, 1 2-player and 2 3-player, and it played great in both configurations. I'm enjoying this one so much, I will now have to seek out Alf's troll games and give them a try...

This was my favorite 2011 release. I own the game (in fact I kickstarted it). Haven't played again since last month, but I foresee many games in the future. The theme, production and game design just hit all the right sweetspots for me. "A game Chaucer himself might have designed."


Number 1

Dungeon Twister 2: Prison (Christophe Boelinger; 2009): 9/10
JohnnyDollar in April 2011 wrote:
This is not an expansion, but, rather, a "reboot" (although as a 2-player game it is mix-and-matchable to a certain extent with the original). This was a tough call and only lost out to Isla Dorada by a hair. Ironically, though, I think DT Prison has more potential for ratings growth, as it is a deep game with high replay variability. I've only gotten a single session so far, but am loving it. Beautiful miniatures. The amount of thought they've put into the solo AI is awesome. One warning about the rules, they are missing/ambiguous on a few points so download a copy of the base game rules as well. But, I like the tutorial method of easing people into the game with scenarios of increasing complexity, nice idea.

I own the game. Since April I was able to get some solo gaming in with the AI, enough to confirm that this is my number 1 new game of the year. The game has really grown on me. A chess-like brainburner in the trappings of D&D. This is one of those that I will happily devote myself to, improving my skill the way I would Chess and Go... it's that deep of a game. I think it will also appeal to those who like tactical skirmish games, so it has an interesting intersection of potential players, united by a love of fantasy theme and details.

It is a deep game with high replay variability. The solo AI is well planned, and ingenious. Each opponent character has its own name and personality; basically you are fighting dangerous little "automatons". They've also built a flexible difficulty scale.

Production value is great. Beautiful miniatures. Neat little details on the dungeon tiles. Nicely though-out insert. I like the humorous touches throughout, like the rat playing tic-tac-toe and the names of the AI characters.

Unique in its ability to both be a strategic brain burner, but also to "tell a story" along with the best of Ameritrash. Like for example my Mechan-Orc who courageously carried a wounded Colossus through 4 rooms, jumping 3 times over pit traps, only to finally be felled by a bow-wielding Cleric and a Backstabber.

sauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauronsauron

For those keeping score:

Publication Year:
2011 (1), 2010 (4), 2009 (2), 2008 (2), 2005 (1).

Designer:
Jason Matthews (2: Twilight Struggle, Founding Fathers), everyone else (1).

Jason Matthews has over the past few months quickly gained my respect as a designer. In December Founding Fathers, in November Twilight Struggle, and a few months earlier Campaign Manager 2008 (which, while relatively light and a theme-turn-off for me, is still a pretty cool election game). Matthews' theme-mechanics integration is pretty much as good as you can get while still having very playable, meaty strategy games. Any more and they would have to be simulations. And, he makes the history come alive in a really cool way.

Publisher:
Z-Man (3: Rattus, Luna, Arabian Nights), GMT (2: Manoeuvre, Twilight Struggle), everyone else (1).

Z-Man has risen to the top as one of my favorite publishers due to the quality and diversity of their games. Let's hope they keep it up as part of Filosofia.

This is the first year in the 4 years I've been doing this that RGG did not make an appearance in my top 10.
And FFG, another usual main-stay for me, only barely made it at #10 and with a distribution at that (Isla Dorada) rather than an in-house.

So, now Dungeon Twister 2: Prison joins the ranks of my previous new-to-me games of the year:

2008: Mission: Red Planet (Bruno Cathala & Bruno Faidutti, 2005, Asmodee)
2009: Wallenstein (Dirk Henn, 2002, Queen Games)
2010: Hansa Teutonica (Andreas Steding, 2009, Z-Man Games)
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32. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:9]
Mathue Faulk
United States
Cedar Park
TX
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From my Geeklist: http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/97861/ya2rg-yet-another-20...


My Top 2011 Games:
1. Eclipse
I haven't been this excited about a game since Agricola. I love that this is a Euro game first, and a war game or Ameritrash game second. I love the civilization building, tech tree, and awesomely smooth mechanics. And I love that I can win the game without a single battle if that's how I choose to play. I anticipate this being one of my top plays in 2012...
2. Letters from Whitechapel
I love deduction games, and this one seems to pull everything I've enjoyed in previous games into a tight and simple experience. I'm really a huge fan of this game! I think it works best with 2-3, or 4 at most. My fiancé and I played this a lot when we first got it, and I recently introduced it to my mom over Christmas break (who loved it). Most groups will require some type of variant in order to balance the game, and it is definitely prone to AP, but I still love me some Letters!
3. Homesteaders
I only picked this one up because it came in a package deal with Belfort. In the end, this turned out to be the more enjoyable game. I love that it plays quickly for a building synergy game. This is the most interesting auction game that I've played, and the production is fantastic. I find myself thinking about the different building possibilities from time to time. Most importantly, my interest in the game increases with each play.
4. Navegador
It's really hard for me to clearly differentiate between this one and the two above it. It could easily be my #2 game of the year as well. It offers multiple paths to victory, a unique engine building feeling, and the famed rondel. After every game of Navegador, I find myself thinking about how I'm going to approach it the next time.
5. Telestrations
Likely my most successful purchase of the year. We've had some awesomely fun times with this game. I can see how it may not work in some overly talented groups, but it's been great with my friends/family. I do recommend having at least 6 though..
6. Yggdrasil
My fiancé and I really enjoy this game. We love playing co-ops together, and have logged many plays of Pandemic. Yggdrasil offers an equally tense experience with different mechanics and a cool theme. And we've had some epic finishes of this game. Crazy fun.
7. Egizia
Everything that Stone Age should have been. I'm a huge fan of this game! It's my favorite of the multitude of mid-weight worker placements. At this point, I've played it mostly 2-player, but we use a posted variant (similar to Glen More) that works great!
8. Macao
I really enjoy this game. I love that the cards combinations are completely different every game, and I enjoy the unique way the dice are used. It is a bit of multiplayer solitaire in a few aspects although it's important to know what they're doing. I would love to get some more plays of this in. I could see myself really falling for this game if I could make some more time for it...
9. JAB: Realtime Boxing
This is a brilliantly designed game! I love that there is so much to think about so that speed isn't all that matters. There is a lot of strategy built into this little game. While I'm usually aggressive, it's fun to switch into a more defensive position and get in some counter punches. Great fun!
10.Notre Dame
My first Feld game, and I still quite enjoy it. It actually uses the card drafting in an interesting way (as opposed to 7 Wonders). I don't play it as much as I should, but that's partially because I hate explaining the game to new players. Since the theme is so tacked on, there aren't a lot of intuitive rules. I think the sweet spot is 3-4 players. 5 player games take too long, and 2 player games make some of the decisions less interesting.

Biggest Surprises:
1. Homesteaders
2. JAB: Realtime Boxing

Both of these games were only purchased because of the TMG deal with Belfort. I didn't have high hopes for either, but they turned out to be excellent. Homesteaders, in particular, deserves a lot more attention.

Biggest Disappointments:
1. 7 Wonders
I think this game is ridiculously over-rated. I don't hate the game, but there are so many other games that I'd rather play. It really plays best with 4-5 imo, so the player range isn't as big of a draw as I had hoped. The theme vs. mechanics makes it a lot more difficult to teach than it should be. Granted, it's an easy game and newbies can pick up on it after the first half of the game. A big positive is that it's quick, which is important for a lighter game like this. I'll still play this game, but I just don't understand how it's the #11 game.
2. Alien Frontiers
I don't think I love area majority, and I think the game was a bit overhyped. But to be fair, I've still only played Alien Frontiers with 2, and I think it would be better with more. I have definite tendencies towards similar strategies each game, and I think there is a bit of imbalance with certain strategies in a 2-player game. I like it enough to keep it, but not enough to join in on the Kickstarter expansion.
3. Say Anything
I don't understand the intrigue with this one. It fell completely and utterly flat with our group. Not fun at all. This is my least favorite of the games listed here in the biggest disappointment section, but my expectations were also lower.
4. What Were You Thinking?
I used to own this game, and I remember loving it. When I found an opportunity to get it for a reasonable priced, I pounced on it. I just replayed this over Christmas break, and I've got to say that I remember it being a lot more fun. I also used to own a slightly different version where there was an actual score track, but I don't think that was the difference maker. I decided that I'd rather play Imaginiff when possible...
5. Cyclades
Meh. It's not bad, and I've only played once, but it just seems like all of the interesting parts of the game can be found in other games that I enjoy more. I'm not a fan of the end game conditions either since it can happen so suddenly...
6. Flash Point: Fire Rescue
I definitely don't dislike this game, but I had very high expectations of it. I'm still not sure how I feel about this game. It's a little fiddly, but I biggest complaint is that I don't feel the tension that I do in other co-ops. I think it comes down to the randomness of the fire spread. While thematic, I think it makes it a bit more difficult to estimate risks that one is taking which cuts into the tension. The randomness also means that the difficulty varies a lot from game to game, so I sometimes get a feeling of 'we got lucky' instead of 'we played well.'
7. Belfort
I really really really wanted to like this game. In the end, the area control seemed to drive so much of the game and it turns out that I'm not a huge fan of area control. I also would've appreciated more building synergy and engine building, albeit I understand the design decisions behind the chosen mechanics. And the AP killed it for me. I think it's an excellent game, but just not for me. I'd play it again, and I wouldn't put money on it never ending up in my collection again..

Best games I played, but don't own:
1. Core Worlds
I've only played this once, but it was quite enjoyable. It's definitely under-hyped imo...
2. Le Havre
I really like this game, but I held off on purchasing it because Ora et Labora is on its way...
3. Troyes
I didn't necessarily care for it on my first play, but it grew on my by play number 2. I'm still not sure if I'll end up loving the game or not, but it's piqued my interest.

Bought and Sold in 2011:
1. Glen More
2. Magnum Sal
3. At the Gates of Loyang
4. Say Anything
5. Train of Thought
6. Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age
7. Vasco da Gama
8. Belfort
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33. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:9]
Geoff Hall
United Kingdom
Yate
Bristol
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My favourite new to me game in 2011 is without doubt Eclipse. It does what it sets out to do admirably and whilst I've only managed 2 plays of it since getting the game at Essen I cannot wait to play it more. Currently I rate it a 9.

Honourable mentions for 2011 (rated 8):

Eminent Domain
Panic Station
Discworld: Ankh-Morpork
Dominant Species
Ascending Empires

Best expansion of 2011 (rated an 8 but that may well go up):

Chaos in the Old World: The Horned Rat Expansion

Game that I should probably rate more highly (currently a 7):

König von Siam - I've not had much chance to play this game as my wife wasn't keen and my friends didn't seem that bothered. Despite that though I find myself thinking about the game months since I played it and suggesting it in a lot of recommendation threads. I think if I could find myself a dedicated opponent for this one it would garner a much higher rating.

Best new family game of 2011 (rated a 7.5):

Mondo

Biggest disappointment of 2011 (rated a 4):

Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery - I'm not sure what it was about this game but I really didn't enjoy it at all. It's odd as I generally like worker placement as a mechanic but something about this one really put me off. It isn't the fact that I lost (I lost both of my games of Eclipse, which is my #1 game of the year), the game just left me feeling like I'd wasted 2 hours of my life and that I never wanted to touch it again.
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34. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:8]
Duchess of Erat
Netherlands
Enschede
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Mage Knight is a very good game, lots of choices and options, and it's the first adventure game my husband actually likes.

Other new games I really liked:

Dungeon Petz
Very good game, not as unforgiving as Dungeon Lords. It's a lot of fun to raise the cute pets.

Pergamon
Really nice family game, the bidding mechanic is quite clever, and it's a fun puzzle to make a nice exhibit out of the pieces of finds.

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35. Board Game: IceDice [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:4378]
Jeff Wolfe
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Zendo fan, Columbus Blue Jackets fan, Dominion Fan. These are 'permanent microbadges' to free up space on my microbadge row
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A couple weeks ago, somebody posted a GeekList for Top 10 new-to-you games. My entry for that is at this link. I'm not going to just repeat what I said over there. Instead, I'm going to focus on the top 3 and hopefully say something new and interesting.

Fun fact: Two of the top 3 new-to-me games of the year were not selected as best new game of the month. Read on to find out why.

1. IceDice. As you can see from the GeekList entry, IceDice was the best new-to-me game of the year. When I first played it in January, it was still in prototype form (I made my own dice), so I disqualified it from consideration for new game of the month. IceDice is the new flagship product in the Looney Pyramids line. It's a press-your-luck game, which I played 21 times in 2011. It was my second most played game of the year, behind Dominion.

2. Eminent Domain. This has the deck building mechanism of Dominion and the tableau/resource/VP mechanisms of Race for the Galaxy. I selected it as best new game of the month for October. It's the least played of the three games here, so most likely to fall from its mighty perch. There aren't a lot of copies out there yet, so I only played it twice in 2011. I did poorly both times I played, which tells me two things. One, it didn't have the "I won so it must be good" effect to help it get rated this high. Two, my enjoyment of the game might slip if I continue to struggle. So it will be interesting to see how it shakes out on my all-time list.

3. Kingdom Builder. A game by Donald X. Vaccarino with an actual board. Kingdom Builder shares with Dominion the variable setup concept, but there the similarity ends. It's a worker placement game, with the setup determining how to score and what special abilities are available. I first played this in the same month as I first played Eminent Domain, so it didn't get to be new game of the month. I had really wanted to make it a tie, but there's only one GeekList entry. So I picked the not-Donald game. I have already played Kingdom Builder 5 times.
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36. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:9]
Toni Miinalainen
Finland
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Having joined BGG last year i've played a lot of new games and grown more and more intrested in different kind of board games. Here's a list of my top games for last year.

1. Eclipse

This is the game of the year for me. It's streamlined and works very well with different amount of players. There is luck in the game but it's manageable and it also creater some tension for strategies. Most of the players i've played this with have enjoyed it a lot and some have even wanted to play another game after the first one.

2. Agricola

I was intrested in Agricola after i saw it being played in playgroups meeting. After that i bought it and it has hit the table quite a lot (most played game last year). I just enjoy the aspect of seeing your farm grow and all the variety the cards offer for the game. This will probably be close to the top in 2012 aswell.

3. Power Grid

I enjoy Power Grid even though i have only played it about 5 times last year (started to record plays in august). It offers a blend of mechanics that just work well together creating a tight and intresting game. Have to and get more plays this year.

4. 7 Wonders

This offers a quick and fun game that can be played with good amount of people. It works well as a filler between longer games and can easily be played consecutively cause the game plays quickly and it is fun.

5. Eminent Domain

I've only played this few times but it shows promise for the future plays and i except it to get good amount of games this year. I like the blend of mechanics from Dominion and Race for the galaxy which create this game it's own rhythm.

Other noteworthy entries: Jaipur, Kingsburg, Thunderstone and Aquaretto.

Disappointment: Toledo
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37. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:5]
Peter Brahan
United States
North Sutton
New Hampshire
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Puerto Rico was new to us this year. I think that it is a great game. What I think made it even more special is the fact that I taught it to my wife while we were out of power during Hurricaine Irene.

We've played it ~10 times since. I've never won, but it's still a great game.
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38. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:331]
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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I was disappointed when looking back on the year that I haven't rated any new games 9 or 10. There are 10 8s though, half of which were published in 2011.

The new new ones are:

Kingdom Builder: came from nowhere to one of my most-played games of the year in the second half of December. I think it's a superb gateway and still fun for gamers. The cleverest thing about it is that the variable scoring cards actually change it into many different games. It can be an area control game, it can be a connections game, and I'm sure the inevitable expansions will make it many other things too.

Ankh-Morpork: some of my favourite books interpreted by one of the most interesting designers was always going to be a good combo. Chaotic but loads of fun.

A Few Acres of Snow: this was rated a 9 at one point and I'm not sure where it will end up. I love the integration of deck-buiding mechanics with a board and a strong theme. It remains to be seen if the problems of over-predictable thin-deck strategies will be fixed by Wallace's official rules revisions.

Vanuatu: I broke my rule of not rating higher than 7 on a first play for this one, because it's so damn clever. The majorities crossed with worker placement mechanic revitalises a tired genre.

Lords of Scotland: another great small-box card game from Z-Man, somewhat reminiscent of Condottiere.

And the old new ones:

Tammany Hall: only three plays but each was a gaming highlight of cut-throat brain-straining fun. Really deserves a reprint.

Lords of Vegas: could do with being about 3/4 the length it is, but it's a very nice hybrid of Acquire and thematically-appropriate gambling.

Zing!: advanced Oh Hell with added nastiness. I love clever trick-taking games.

Chronicle: and this is another. Takes a couple of plays to wrap your head round, but I love how the different special powers interact with the variable goals for each round.

Tribune: Primus Inter Pares: I really like the worker placement/set collection hybrid but the game feels a bit more fiddly than it needs to be.

Honourable mention to Phil Eklund for High Frontier and Bios Megafauna. It's hard to even rate his games on the same scale as others.
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39. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:141]
Carlos Ferreira
Portugal
Porto Salvo
Porto Salvo
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My best new game of 2011 was without any doubt:

A Few Acres of Snow


24 Plays

I really enjoy this game. I haven't tried yet the fix for the Hammer, but I'll do it ASAP.
If we forget this small issue The game is quite engaging, plays fast and it is balanced although both sides are very different.

Now the second one was:
Strike of the Eagle


3 Plays

Great multiplayer (more than 2) Card Driven Wargame. Plays fast. Excellent fog of war mechanics, with the blocks, orders, cards, etc...
To bad it's very hard to get it to the table.

And the third (and last) was:
Inca Empire


2 Plays
I had already played Tahuantinsuyu, but this games takes the crayon part of it, which makes him fast. The cards symbols are also a plus and the components are slightly better here. Great 3-4 player game.

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40. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:25]
Jason Lott
United States
Cheverly
Maryland
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Looking back, it's been a great year of new games for me. There are so many strong contenders this year, that I'm expanding to a top 10 list (vs. just 7 last year). These are not necessarily my highest rated for the year, as explained for a few below.

d10-1
Dominant Species

For me, this is the best game of 2011. I've only played it once, but it preyed on my mind for days, shot up to the top of my wish list (saving up my pennies now), and I'm so anxious to play it again. Incredible depth, an excellent rulebook, attractive components. This is a gamer's game at its finest. A delight!

d10-2
London

Repeated plays proved to me that this is just a terrific card game (with vestigial board) which I'm happy to play anytime. There are agonizing choices and a number of paths to victory. This was a big year for me learning Martin Wallace games, and London remains my favorite of the bunch. It's just great fun and remains a solid 9 in my book.

d10-3
Coloretto

Although it's not rated really high for me, I had to put Coloretto way up on my list because it's just proven to be a consistent favorite this year. It's the only game on my top 10 list that has hit over 10 plays, and that's because it's fast, portable, and easy to teach. I'm starting to think we'll rarely play Zooloretto again, because this distilled version is more fun.

d10-4
El Grande

This is another game that had a big impact from a single play. I just thought, "this is what area majority games should be like." Fortunately I own this, and I plan to break it out as often as I can this year, maybe even next week!

d10-5
Tales of the Arabian Nights

What I love about this game is that it's like nothing else in our collection. Light-hearted, fun, choose-your-own-adventure experiences are to be had every time you let the genie out of the bottle (or box, in this case). This is one game where I don't care how long we play or who wins - it's always a good time.

d10-6
Finca

This is the best true family game for me this year. Gorgeous components and so easy to learn, this is perfect to break out with your parents, cousins, or casual gaming friends. Underneath the shiny exterior is a nasty little game that satisfies your strategic itch. Highly recommended.

d10-7
Qwirkle

This year's SDJ winner was also a winner with me. It was the "viral game" among our friends this year, as nearly everyone who played it promptly went out and bought it. This has a nice simplicity, beautiful chunky tiles, and plays quickly (and can accommodate more than 4 players, despite what the box says). If you like Scrabble, but your friends don't like word games, then this is the logical alternative.

d10-8
Luna

I learned 3 very heady complex games this year (the others being Vinhos and Automobile). Although I liked them all, it's become apparent that Luna is the most accessible, and thus likeliest to hit the table in the future, so it makes it into my top 10 for the year. I love how all the parts of the game work together, and you can never do everything you want to do. Agonizing over choices is something I love in a strategy game, so thumbs up for Luna.

d10-9
Dragonheart

My favorite new two-player game is one that I started learning on Yucata.de, and fell in love with instantly. I had to own it, and was pleased that it went over well with my partner. This game has an elegant simplicity, and I know it will get many plays in the future.

d10-1d10-0
Memoir '44

This was my introduction to wargames, even if it is on the lighter side. I think it's a great design because it eases you into the genre as you get seduced by the components, the cardplay, and the tough choices. It's rare that I'll ask to play a game again several times in a row, but that's what happened here. Hoping to play it with my buddy again soon.

Lastly I'll give a mention to Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia, which was my favorite new expansion of the year. The Legendary Asia map is really fun, especially with 2 players, and the Team Asia map is a completely new experience for the franchise. And extremely close second would be 7 Wonders: Leaders, which we've never not used since we bought it. It's a must for fans of the base game!
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41. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:72]
Joe Wyka
United States
Walnut Creek
California
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The year started off strong with a 10 and a few 9's materializing through April and then for the rest of the year the highest score any game could muster for me was an 8, but there was a mountain of 7's. The game I gave a 10 rating to was Imperial 2030, but I don't really want to make it my game of the year since it is really only a tweak of Imperial, a game that also gets a 10 from me. The three games I gave a 9 rating to are all so different from each other:

Hansa Teutonica
Tales of the Arabian Nights
Carrom


Tales of the Arabian Nights I have since downgraded to an 8 due to game length. The game is an amazing feat of production, but it does tend to outstay its welcome a bit. For this reason, Tales doesn't make the top spot.

I've played Carrom the most, with my son. It is truly a classic, beautiful (and frustrating) game. I have not played Crokinole, but after picking up my quality, used Carrom board I don't feel as much of a need to get Crokinole. I have trouble making a dexterity game my game of the year, but it's very tempting. This is a close call. However...

Hansa Teutonica is a rich, complex game experience that no other new game for me has rivaled this year. There's actually quite a bit of interdependency and subtlety in the various options that allows for both short term point grabs and long term strategies. It's an old-school euro mechanically but those mechanics come together in a way that fits perfectly with the more complex tendency of recent euros, while avoiding feeling stale and re-hashed.

I'm glad I've played at least one game this year that I can call the best without reservation. In previous years I had more options to sort through. Hopefully that will be the case next year!

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42. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:25]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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Best New-to-Me of the year: Dominant Species.

This game has so many levers and moving pieces that all just fit together and form something breathtaking. That we manage to fit it into a 2-hour window helps it get played.

Runners up:

Ascending Empires
Letters from Whitechapel
Hanabi
Stephenson's Rocket
London
Catacombs
Black Gold
Magnate
A Few Acres of Snow
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43. Board Game: Ascending Empires [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:459]
Tim Mierz
United States
Middletown
Connecticut
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Here are my top 5 games I learned in 2011. Five very different games...

Ascending Empires continues to blow me away. In this space exploration and combat game, the games feel amazingly different from me. I've played just a handful of times, but they'll have their own character. The most recent game had aggressive blockading and very little researching. Before that, an early Battleship rush led to a great fear of the big ship. Other games have pairs of players launching large quantities of ships at each other, sometimes there's more of a peaceful development of cities and colonies. And within all this interesting strategy is the uncertainty of the flicking, which can be played safe or risky, with the puzzle pieces' joints causing some frustration but not enough for this to not be my game of the year!

Summoner Wars gets second place. A finely crafted army duel game that is threatening to take the seat away from Neuroshima Hex, each army plays with different feels and strategies, with combat being at the right level of unpredictability to allow swings and surprises without it overwhelming the whole game. I got the Master Set at GenCon, got six other armies as gifts, and bought two more last week at a game store. I don't plan on doing any custom deck building with this, but I don't need to - it plays wonderfully out of the box.

YINSH is my favorite of the original GIPF series, all of which I learned this year. It's not as confusing to new players as PUNCT or ZERTZ, and it feels like it has more meat than DVONN and TAMSK. GIPF is close, but YINSH's intrinsic balancing, with players closer to victory having fewer pieces at their disposal, is a mark of genius. Lookahead is difficult but rewarding. Pattern recognition is key. Rewarding to play, more rewarding to win!

Travel Blog was a surprise hit. Mainly acquired to continue my Vlaada collection, it ended up being a great party game! As few Americans, even geography-inclined ones, know European geography too well, it's a fun race to wonder if Latvia is near Armenia, or if Moldova and Kosovo touch. Players are scrambling to pick quickly and intelligently, a tough combination to make work! The USA map is somehow even more challenging, probably because it's less interconnected than Europe and some long routes are inescapable. And now I know Nebraska touches Missouri!

Montage rounds out my top 5. While I haven't played it very much, it is a fast-moving clue-giving/word-building game that I am extremely excited to keep playing. Get your partner to guess your word before both opponents. The number of letters as well as some possibilities for certain letter spots are known, and a couple levels of decoding are needed to go from clue to solution. I hope it's easy enough to get the exact number of 4 players to keep playing, because this seems like a sure winner.

So there you go! Space exploration strategy, two-player card-based duel, elegant abstract, a non-trivia geography speed party game, and a team word game. Something to please everyone, everything pleasing me!
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44. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:20]
Mark Siew
United States
San Francisco
CA
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This year (my first full year in the hobby), I was finally able to get in a few games of Caylus. I'd been really excited to play this game given the high ratings and glowing reviews, but it was always hard to find people to play with because the theme seemed so dry. Turns out the theme isn't particularly well integrated, but the gameplay is nothing short of incredible. When I was finally able to convince my girlfriend to play it, we both loved it. It's the only game I've rated a 10 that I've played. Even though I don't own it (I'm waiting for the new edition that should be showing up this year), I'm always up for a game. It's not the fastest playing game, but the design is elegant and all the parts of the design fit together perfectly to make a really engaging and fun game.

Honorable Mentions:
Navegador


If it wasn't for Caylus, Navegador would probably end up with my favorite new game of the year. It was my first rondel game and the gameplay is superb. The turns are fast, but there are still plenty of meaningful decision to make as a result of the rondel. Also, the rondel makes the game very easy to teach since all the actions are always laid out on the board. Speaking of which, the board for the game is absolutely gorgeous and the theme really shines through. A truly great game.

Hansa Teutonica


Another game with very quick turns and a wonderful design. The player boards are essentially a tech tree that also provides you with more cubes and discs to put on the board. A really neat idea. The two-player game is not the best, but once I played the multiplayer game the design really came through. Good stuff.

Notre Dame


I've enjoyed Stefan Feld's games in the past, but this is the first one that was simply spectacular for me. The card drafting and action selection is fast but offers some really good tactical decisions. The game plays quickly, but still offers a lot of meaningful decisions over the course of the game. It's also notable for scaling the best of just about any game I own. The two-player game is just as fun as the five-player game and they both take about the same amount of time because of the quick turns.


The Resistance


The gameplay of this couldn't be more simple. I've explained it to a few people who have said things like "Is that it?" or "I don't see much of a game there." But that's the key. The game gets out of the way for the most part and it's all about the deduction, accusation and obfuscation. You definitely need the right group to play this game, but when you do, there's a ton of fun to be had here. The game is remarkably well balanced considering how easy it could be to tip the scales one way or the other in the game. It's pretty much my go-to party game if there are enough willing people.

A Few Acres of Snow


Finally, someone was able to put a great theme together with a deckbuilding game! I really enjoy Dominion, but I don't play it as often because I don't feel it has a good level of interaction (which means I should probably pick up Intrigue at some point) and the theme is pretty much nonexistent. A Few Acres of Snow solves all of this. It's got interaction, the theme ties in beautifully with the deckbuilding mechanism and it plays quite quickly for a game with this much strategic depth. Great game.

Tigris & Euphrates


I really need to play this more. The only games I've played have been two-player. While they have been really fun, it's a little to easy to turtle up on your side of the board for most of the game. I've since purchased it on the iPad and I can see that the multiplayer has a significant amount of conflict and interaction, so I'll need to try the game out with more players when I get the chance.
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45. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:113]
Joost Poldervaart
Netherlands
Rhenen
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My top 10 games of 2011:

10: For Sale
9: Steam
8: Innovation
7: A Few Acres of Snow
6: Chicago Express
5: Dominant Species
4: Omen: A Reign of War
3: King of Tokyo
2: Le Havre
1: Magic: the Gathering (Innistrad block)

All great games, that I'll definately want to play a lot more through 2012! These guys will probably decrease the need and interest to buy a lot of new games.
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46. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:113]
Marcel Sagel
Netherlands
Groningen
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After reading about King of Tokyo, I thought I would probably like it. Some silly fun in a short game with plenty of player interaction. I was mostly right. Except it was not some silly fun, it was truckloads of silly fun!
And that makes me pick this over the more traditional tactical and strategical eurogames I usually prefer.

This is, more or less, my top 10 of new games for this year (some games are pretty close together and their relative position could change on a whim):

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47. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:8]
Adam Brocker
United States
Gilbert
AZ
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Mage Knight is my number 1 game of 2011. Love that it plays very well solo. It's the 1st solo board game that I've really enjoyed. I've also played this once with 2 and 3. Both of which were fun games. There is a good deal of complexity to the game, but it's well worth the work.

Runner Up: London - Excellent game. Love the engine building aspect and the simplicity of the rules. Easy to teach and a fun game.
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48. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:19]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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2011 was not a great year for new games for me.

Top 5 new to me in 2011 in order of enjoyment. Mostly lighter games.

1. 7 Wonders. I rate this about a 7 - good game and plays fast!
2. Innovation. Very close to 7 Wonders but higher barrier to entry.
3. King of Tokyo. Lots of fun, but it can drag out a bit.
4. Risk: Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition. Only one play, but its a great variant on Risk.
5. Who Would Win. Yeah, its a silly game but I got a lot of fun out of it.

Disappointments. These are not 'bad' games. They just did not live up to hopes.

1. Sid Meier's Civ: The Boardgame. Ick. Way too slow, way too much fiddle.
2. Through The Ages. See entry 1.
3. Dominant Species. Not a bad game, but too slow, too thinky.
4. Downfall of Pompeii. I just expected it to be more fun.
5. Rattus. Bleah.
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49. Board Game: Alien Frontiers [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:92]
Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
Duns
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I only played this a couple of times, at a convention, but I really enjoyed it and thought it a clever and fun design. Would be very happy to acquire a copy at some point!

Runners up:

The Speicherstadt, 7 Wonders, Cuba, Strozzi
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50. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:10]
Steve Duff
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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I've taken the winners of each of the monthly geeklists. Probably not fair, as there are 3rd or lower place games in November that would easily win many other months. But, so it goes.

Jul The Castles of Burgundy - Just a great game all around. So many choices, options, and combos, just plain fun.
May Seeland
Nov Trajan - Only owned it a week, so just not enough time to move up yet.
Mar The Speicherstadt
Oct Elder Sign
Jan Merchants & Marauders
Dec Lords of Vegas
Apr Lost Valley
Feb Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Jun Asara
Aug Mimic
Sep -
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