New (To Me) Games in 2012
Dave Lartigue
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Springfield
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Rather than create this list all at once in December, I'm going to start it now. These are all games I played for the first time in 2012.
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1. Board Game: Deadwood [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2558]
Board Game: Deadwood
Dave Lartigue
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Springfield
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Played on 1/15, five players.

Worker placement-ish with fighting for contested spaces. Fairly thematic, though it's hard to understand how going to these buildings earns a cowboy money instead of costs him.

First Impressions: Okay. Not great, not terrible. I tried a sort of against-the-game strategy and didn't do as well as I thought; more expected strategies won. I could take or leave this.

Would I play again? If it's suggested, I'll play, but it's not something I'll clamor for.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Neither.

Initial Rating: 4
 
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2. Board Game: Ascension: Storm of Souls [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:700] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Board Game: Ascension: Storm of Souls
Dave Lartigue
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Played on 1/17, two players (2 plays)

We played it stand-alone, so it counts. Neat expansion for Ascension with some cool cards. I wish there had been more Events in the deck (we played twice and only saw...two? three? and one got discarded pretty much immediately by a monster).

Would I play again? Sure

Buy/Trade/Neither? Buy as an addition to the iPad app, not the analog version.

Initial Rating: 7
 
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3. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:26]
Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game
Dave Lartigue
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Played 1/20, 3 players

I've always been intrigued by things like Talisman, Runebound, and such, games that give the RPG exploration experience without being a grinding slog, but they always fall short in some way (usually with a LOT of downtime.) MK the boardgame seems like a worthy entry in this area, and I'm looking forward to some more plays (we played the basic rules, and we got a couple of them wrong).

Would I play again? Indeed!

Buy/Trade/Neither? It's the sort of thing I would like to play, but I don't know if there's any reason I'd own it if someone else I know already does.

Initial Rating: 7, but more plays may push it up
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4. Board Game: Serenissima [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1479]
Board Game: Serenissima
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Played 1/22, 4 players

Not sure I should even count this one. I was one of two newbies at the table and one of the experienced players opted for a strategy in which he simply pounded us, took our stuff, and sank our ships. By turn 5 of 8 I was effectively out of the game and only got the points I did because he sold the good he stole from me to my ports. A valid strategy, sure, but boy was this a miserable experience for me and the other new guy.

Would I play again? Sure.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Neither.

Initial Rating: Tentative 6
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5. Board Game: Discovery [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:11349]
Board Game: Discovery
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Played on 1/31, two players

This is a neat French game that pal Jim got in a math trade. Interesting treasure hunting game set on an island where the first thing you have to do is figure out where the hell you are. THEN you can get to the task of finding the treasure. It comes with a nifty clue-finder thing and maps you can write on, and the whole thing is pretty cool. The map is too big, which makes the game longer and less tense than it could be, but still not a bad time.

Would I play again? It's cute but takes too long.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Neither.

Initial Rating: 4 for length
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6. Board Game: Power Grid: The First Sparks [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1204]
Board Game: Power Grid: The First Sparks
Dave Lartigue
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Played on 2/4 at Unity Games 18, 5 players

Kind of a mess. I admit I was distracted during the rules reading, as I was interrupted with auction deliveries, but I thought we as a group still had a pretty good handle on them. That's doubtful, though, since there just didn't seem to be much to this. There was an abundance of food and apart from one player who "got screwed" (I never really understood what he was saying hosed him so much) nobody had much of a problem. I'm almost certain we were doing something if not several things wrong, but to be honest, the gist I got from the game doesn't make me too worried about figuring out what it was. This doesn't seem to buck the trend of me absolutely adoring Power Grid and not caring for any other Friese games.

Would I play again? A little curious about how it's supposed to play, but I suspect I'll never know.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Neither.

Initial Rating: 5. Could go up if I play again, but low odds of that.
 
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7. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:338]
Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue
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Played on 2/4 at Unity Games 18, 4 players

I was eager to try this as I think the theme is very appealing. However, co-op games don't get much table time with my regular groups. It's a very appealing game, tense and exciting (though a lot of the fire-spreading rules were vague to us). It reminds me a lot of Pandemic, and that's sort of the problem. I already have Pandemic, and I like Pandemic and Pandemic doesn't get much play. So as much as I'd like to support games with fresh themes and attractive delivery, I don't see much need to have another game that's just not going to get any play.

Would I play again? Certainly!

Buy/Trade/Neither? I would be tempted to buy or trade, but I know it would get no play.

Initial Rating: 7
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8. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:95]
Board Game: Trajan
Dave Lartigue
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Played on 2/4 at Unity Games 18, 4 players

This one was white-hot at Unity and was on my list to try out, even though I haven't been that crazy about Stefan Feld's games. Feld tends to come up with one interesting mechanic and then sticks it into a bland, by-the-numbers exercise. Trajan has the requisite weirdo bit (a mancala board to determine actions) and then throws just about everything else into the mix. It's hard to NOT get some points on every turn -- hell, at one point I sneezed and got four points for it. It was a good enough time, and I'd play again, but it did kind of feel like someone took the "lost bits" box from last year's Unity an made a game with them. (To be fair, I did terrible, and the guy who played before did well, so there is a thing going on here.)

Would I play again? Sure.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Neither.

Initial Rating: 6
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9. Board Game: Army of Frogs [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:5251]
Board Game: Army of Frogs
Dave Lartigue
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Played on 2/4 at Unity Games 18, 4 players

Played this under ideal conditions: in a hotel bar while drinking a Long Island Ice Tea with friends. Folks, that is what gaming is all about.

Would I play again? Yep.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Maybe trade.

Initial Rating: 7
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10. Board Game: Grimoire [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:2808]
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Played on 2/4 at Unity Games 18, 3 players

Z-Man continues its trend of bringing weirdo Japanese games to America, which is a good thing, as it gave us Fairy Tale and Parade, two enjoyable card games. This one has an interesting premise behind it, but I think we were two few (I suspect you want 4 or 5 for it) and too tired (it was the last game at an all-day game convention) to really give it its due. The spell books are a cute little touch -- I think most companies would just give the players a deck of cards to pick from.

Would I play again? I would probably suggest something else.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Neither.

Initial Rating: 5
 
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11. Board Game: Ora et Labora [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:136]
Board Game: Ora et Labora
Dave Lartigue
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Played 2/7, 3 players

I should start by saying that I really dislike Agricola. Le Havre I like a little better, but the agonizing microsteps of every single action drive me insane. As a result, I wasn't expecting too much from Ora et Labora, since it seemed to be much of the same.

Turns out, it pretty much is. It's a little better in that the basic resources actually are basic resources and not pre-resources you need to convert into actual resources to get anything done. But there's still the same bizarreness that if someone chops down trees before I do, I get fewer of them.

I'm still not a fan of this stuff, but if I had to play one of the three, I guess it would be this one? It's really not an appealing choice to make.

Would I play again? Not by my own volition.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Neither.

Initial Rating: 5
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12. Board Game: Merchants & Marauders [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:260]
Board Game: Merchants & Marauders
Dave Lartigue
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Played on 2/12, 3 players

As I get older I find I tend to like games with some semblance of theme to them. I have played a million games now where I swap cubes for victory points, and having a different type of auction in them or an elegant turn order mechanic or whatever in them just does not make any difference. And I've impressed so many noblemen and master builders that I shouldn't even have to prove my skill anymore. So, given the chance to do something, I'll usually jump at it.

Merchants and Marauders is what so many new games forget to be: fun to play. It's one of those games that has a narrative, that you continue to talk about long after it's over. It's got some rough patches, but I will gladly swap fun for cold, burnished "elegance". I even stayed on the straight and narrow the whole game, and won as a merchant, which means, of course, I have to play it again and be a pirate!

Would I play again? Oh hell yes.

Buy/Trade/Neither? For now I'm happy my friend has it, but it may be a buy eventually.

Initial Rating: 8
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13. Board Game: Asteroyds [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:3151]
Board Game: Asteroyds
Dave Lartigue
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Played on 2/15, 4 players

When this first came out I was intrigued. Sci-fi theme, nice looking artwork. Then I read it was similar to RoboRally and lost hope -- although I love RR, few in my groups share that love. So I wanted to try it before I bought it. Problem is, to try it, someone would have to buy it, and no one ever did. After not seeing it at all at my second Unity Games event, I decided to bite the bullet and bought it -- and unopened copy, I might add -- from someone in the Marketplace.

There's some fun to be had here if you enjoy things like RoboRally and Galaxy Trucker, where part of the fun is when things go horribly wrong. But the rulebook is terrible. Some very basic things -- such as whether or not a ship ever enters the same hex as an asteroid -- aren't mentioned at all. And the fact that Nobody ever bought or played this game means there aren't many rules answers here on BGG.

There's also the fact that it's pretty brutal and has player elimination, so unfamiliarity with how things are going to play out in the game can result in simply watching the game, which is no fun. So it may need some house rules, like "lives" or something.

I'm still not sure about it, but after nailing down some rules, I'd like to give it another try.

Would I play again? Yep.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Already own.

Initial Rating: A mostly theoretical 6
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14. Board Game: Hornet [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:5648]
Board Game: Hornet
Dave Lartigue
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Played 2/15, 4 players

Perfectly affable game of bluffing, luck-pushing, and planning. For some reason, when I bought this in the Unity auction I thought it was a smallish card game, so I was surprised by the big box (which is way bigger than it needs to be).

Would I play again? Sure.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Already own, question is whether or not it's a keeper.

Initial Rating: 6
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15. Board Game: City Tycoon [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2966]
Board Game: City Tycoon
Dave Lartigue
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played 2/26, 5 players

This one is going to need another play before I can really express my thoughts on it. After only one, I'm a little bit disappointed. It falls down, thematically, and it gives an illusion of interaction that I don't think is really there. We played with five, and if that doesn't cause conflict, I don't see how fewer players would. It seems like everyone just builds their own little thing and makes it go, only occasionally using someone else's resources. Maybe one can play more aggressively, pirating others resources, and we just weren't doing that enough.

Also, the drafting portion of the game seems a bit superfluous. While some tile synergy is possible, I don't know that there is much you can do during the draft to either set yourself up for this or deny it to someone else. I don't know that everyone just rolling with the six tiles they're dealt would make that much of a difference, other than shortening the game.

I liked this well enough, but unless another play shows me some more depth, I don't think it's a keeper.

Would I play again? Sure.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Already own. We'll see if that continues.

Initial Rating: Very shaky 6
 
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16. Board Game: Alba Longa [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:6224]
Board Game: Alba Longa
Dave Lartigue
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Springfield
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Played on 2/28, four players

Hard to really evaluate this one, since nobody even used soldiers until the very end (one player felt there was no point in using them until then). The current Euro-fad of "dice but not really" continues with a worker placement game that is just kind of...there. It's not bad, just not essential.

Would I play again? No real reason to.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Neither.

Initial Rating: 4
 
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17. Board Game: Homesteaders [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:689]
Board Game: Homesteaders
Dave Lartigue
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Springfield
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Played on 3/6, four players

I'd heard about this one but hadn't gotten a chance to play. I found it to be really interesting and a lot of fun. It reminded me, in some ways, of Vegas Showdown, except without the problems I had with that one. This is one I may look to get.

Would I play again? Yessir!

Buy/Trade/Neither? I could definitely see owning this.

Initial Rating: 7
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18. Board Game: Dungeon Run [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:3398]
Board Game: Dungeon Run
Dave Lartigue
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played on 3/20, three players

I have to think we were doing SOMETHING wrong here, because hardly anything ever happened. Rooms came up, we rolled a die to see what was in them (often nothing) and just kind of ran the clock out until the end. I don't think any of us killed more than two monsters or had more than two items at any point, and there didn't seem to be any way of generating more items. Only one player was able to level up during the game. It was like exploring a dungeon that had already been pretty much cleaned out. The final boss battle was also pretty anticlimactic.

Willing to play again in case we were missing something vital, but if we weren't, I don't see any reason to play this instead of DungeonQuest.

Would I play again? Just to give it another chance to do something.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Neither.

Initial Rating: 4, which is generous at the moment, but another play might lift it.
 
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19. Board Game: Lords of Waterdeep [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:65]
Board Game: Lords of Waterdeep
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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Played 3/25, four players

I did something I almost never do with this one: pre-ordered it. There was a pretty good deal on Amazon and my friend Chris made it sound really good, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger early. I can happily say it was a good call. It's a fun, breezy game that doesn't overstay its welcome. It was new to all four of us and all four enjoyed it; I suspect it wouldn't have been tough to convince everyone to immediately play again.

Would I play again? Yes indeed.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Already own!

Initial Rating: 8
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20. Board Game: The Scepter of Zavandor [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:1196]
Board Game: The Scepter of Zavandor
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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Played 3/25, five players

I've heard a lot about this game (and its predecessor, Outpost) but never actually played it. It's a meaty economic game with some tacked-on leader-punishing. Like Power Grid, which I adore, you want to try and stay towards the middle of the pack and figure out when it's okay to jump ahead. However, also like Power Grid, if you're doing really well, the lead player penalties aren't going to hurt you too much anyway. I probably wasted a couple turns not really having a clear idea of what my goal should be, so I'm eager to try this one again.

Would I play again? Sure.

Buy/Trade/Neither? I like it but I don't need to own it.

Initial Rating: 7
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21. Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:302]
Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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played 3/26, two players

I've never played the actual Blood Bowl game. I have no interest whatsoever in football, even (and especially) if it includes elves. Dan, my opponent, is exactly the same. Yet we both had a really good time playing this. I was the Eye Gougers and he was the Wood Elves. It's fast and fun, and wildly chaotic. You can and will get screwed by luck (I certainly did). But who cares? It's a grand time. It reminded me a lot of Campaign Manager 2008, which I liked but had a few things going against it. One, it abstracted its theme a little too much, unlike this one which abstracts it just enough, I think. Two, CM2008 made me think about Sarah Palin, which this game does not. Three, BBTM allows for more than two players, and I'm kind of curious to see how that works.

Would I play again? I sure would!

Buy/Trade/Neither? I could definitely see owning this.

Initial Rating: 7
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22. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:316]
Board Game: The Manhattan Project
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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Played on 4/3, four players.

Worker placement game with great graphic design, tough choices, and some direct interaction. There's a lot going on in this, but it still moves fairly quickly (I don't know that I'd like playing with the max of five). Theme works pretty well too.

First Impressions: I liked it a bunch and think it has a lot of replay value. I don't think it's just Yet Another Worker Placement Game.

Would I play again? Definitely

Buy/Trade/Neither? There's a lot of competition in my library for games in this niche, so I'm not sure I would buy it without getting rid of a few other things first. I'd happily trade for it, though.

Initial Rating: 8
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23. Board Game: Junta: Viva el Presidente! [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:3010]
Board Game: Junta: Viva el Presidente!
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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Played on 4/22, 4 players

I've never played the original Junta, so I can't really talk about how well this game captures the essence of it. I can say that this fell kind of flat for me. I didn't feel like the choices I had to make were particularly significant or interesting.

Would I play again? I wouldn't refuse to play again, but it's not something I'd suggest.

Buy/Trade/Neither? Neither.

Initial Rating: 3
 
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24. Board Game: 1955: The War of Espionage [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:7120]
Board Game: 1955: The War of Espionage
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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Played on 4/22, 2 players

I got this based on reviews I read which made it sound like a light, quick version of Twilight Struggle. I can sort of see the comparison there (apart from the obvious theme similarity) but it's a little bit of a stretch. Still, it's a tense, strategic tug-of-war game with a lot of possibilities. Nice look to it as well.

Would I play again? I hope so!

Buy/Trade/Neither? Already bought.

Initial Rating: 7
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25. Board Game: Triumvirate [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:2875]
Board Game: Triumvirate
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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Played on 4/22, 2 players

I like trick-taking games, with my faves being Sticheln, Wizard, and Bottle Imp. We took a look at the rules for this and were utterly baffled. But once we started playing, it clicked. This is a supremely tricky game, and it takes a lot of finessing to get the result you want out of it. In the tie-breaking game I even felt I was screwed because, as luck had it, I got almost no scoring cards, and the ones I had were in a single color. I didn't see how I could get yellow to win, but I was able to play what I had to fish out a victory. I imagine as we all know the game more, that will get even harder to do.

Would I play again? You bet.

Buy/Trade/Neither? This may be a buy.

Initial Rating: 7
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