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Subject: Galaxy Trucker Contest - Courtesy of Czech Games Edition rss

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James Burns
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the top five games I like to play.

well lets start with co-op games.
1> Arkham Horror(base set) -- hits the bill here. You get a different game each time with so many possibilities. I have taught this to a non-gamer and she really liked the whole 'OMG we are all going to die aren't we,' concept. I really should start to keep track of the games and point score to compare to other games.
I personally like to play it for solo game when I have nothing else to do in the afternoon and it has kicked my butt more then once. There is no way you can keep the monsters down to a manageable level in a solo.
I have read that the expansions take this too a whole new hardness level. It already starts with the chips against you ,now you have the casino against you.

2. ROBORALLY -- Ok, I only play the old edition of the game. I don't like the production quality at all of the new version. On to the fun, I have been playing this game since it was released and man what fun. The reason I still like to play this one is that one of the rules is that you are not allow to pick up your robot to plan out your moves. You have to do all the programming in your head and therefore alot of the people start to twitch left and right via the cards in their hand. It is also fun to watch people's faces as their whole program is down the toilet, when they get pushed just 1 square out of wack.

3. Civilization -- Wow, this is an old game. I was first introduced to this game in the mid 90's and still can't stop playing it. It is the diceless war system that works so well. I would play this over any global conquest game any day. Of course the game can take over 8 hrs to play,but you can always put it on pause. Plus it is the only game where i know that people can walk up and not be playing then in two minutes after a civil war they are now in the game.

4. Zombies!!! -- Horror based game of blowing zombies away. Yippee! Ok, I just like the random board layout as well, for there is no way you can plan out the same strategy. Yes, you can hold on to certain cards ,but the board and dice rolls you can't control. Always fun to push your luck to kill that last zombie to get to the life chit.

5. Blood Bowl -- Gotta put some sort of sports game in here. Well ,it is mainly because of the violence then the sports. The way I got into this game is when I was told that Goblins can be thrown across the field. That was so funny and great, for you could use them as missiles against the other players. I can just picture a slobbering goblin who is flying at the player with the ball. The ballcarrier most likely needs a new set of pants after it. Sometimes it won't even make it to that for the Troll who throws him might just eat the goblin. So much risk..so much fun.
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Snooze Fest
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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My Top 5, more or less.

5. Die Macher
The number 5 spot was tough. Barely missing:
- Shadows Over Camelot, my favorite cooperative game (simple, plays quickly, and the presence of the traitor really makes the game fun; a version of Werewolf that's actually fun!).
- Battle Line: a fantastic 2-player. Only misses the list because I'd usually rather play with more than just 2 (and if there are just two, my choice #2 is better).
- Dune: yeah, sure, the theme was pasted on; but it's a GREAT paste-up job! Unfortunately I've only played it once or twice.
German politics? Heck yeah! Another game I've only played a few times, but what a blast! It is simply amazing the way all the different things going on in the game weave into each other to make a cohesive whole. Hours pass, but you're involved the whole time and you hardly feel it at a Some day I'll manage to win this, if only we can get it to the table more often!

4. Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization? Civilization?
I've played the Big Civ a few times, and although it takes 10+ hours it has always been a lot of fun. I don't do well, and I don't think we'd get to play it very often, but it has great trading, set-collection, area ll.control (without direct confrontation; yes, you can fight, but you'll both lose). But then along came Through the Ages, a fantastic card-game implementation of one of my favorite computer games of all time, Sid Meier's Civilization. I've only played it a few times but I think it may well replace Big Civ on this listing. It works so well! You get to grow your civilization, develop an economy, allocate limited resources (your people, your civil/military actions) ... almost everything in the computer game but in just 3 or 4 hours! I am impatiently waiting on Funagain's version!

3. Struggle of Empires
This is what Wallenstein should have been! Before playing Wallenstein, I had imagined what I thought it would be like (a euro-war game). But Struggle is a much better weuro than Wally: strategy, area control, conflict, some luck in the dice, and a euro twist - the alliances. Despite the dice, you have a fair bit of control in this game via the choices you make in which tiles you buy, how you choose to expand, and who you choose to make your allies. Plus, you have the almost-trademark Wallace tightness in the economy; sure, you can make as much money as you want (you are a government, after all) but make too much and you LOSE!

2. Magic: The Gathering
For a long time, this was my only '10'. I finally dropped it to a 9.5, but it's still a great game. It lost that 0.5 because I just don't spend the time making decks any more. The game is wonderfully versatile. Basic rules are pretty simple, at least for casual play (yes, there are over a hundred pages in the tournament rules, but you don't need all that to just play for fun). The continuous release of new cards means that if you want, you can always have a new set of tweaks to play with (while maintaining the core of the game). But if you're tired of the continuous spending (like I am), you can play perfectly well with the collection of cards you've already accumulated. The game is fun to play, but it's also fun to work on -- building decks, coming up with card combinations (on your own, vs. looking them up on the internet) is a lot of fun. Unfortunately it's also time-consuming, so I don't do it any more. Nevertheless, the game play is a blast: a card game with a dose of luck but a lot of decisions about when to play a card and how to make your deck work. And if you are willing to spend a bit of money every now and then, those Sealed Deck tournaments (everyone opens some packs and takes about 30min to make a deck to play with) are a lot of fun!

1. Age of Steam
What a fantastic game!! The basic game is fun, but the system is so versatile that it supports MULTITUDES of expansion maps and variants. I love the basic game play: it's tense, with intense competition but without direct confrontation. There are auctions (which I normally just don't get), but they seem to work well here (making the top TWO people pay full price, for example, really adds a lot of tension to the bidding). And there's sort of area-control, as well, in the way you build tracks on the board. But beyond basic play, you have all those expansions. From small rule tweaks to major rule changes, these variants keep the core principles of the game in place while providing a huge variety of worlds to play in. Heck, I even have an awesome idea of my own based on this game (don't we all?)!
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D a n _ C
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Doug - are you keeping tallies of people's Top 5? It'd be interesting to see how it compares (and constrasts) to the Top 5 on BGG.

I'm seeing tons of Magic: The Gathering on these lists. That's fantastic, nice to see that game getting some love again.

Seeing lots of Cosmic Encounter, Power Grid too, among a few others.

Great work by everyone on this thread!
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Doug Garrett
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Dan,

That tally will be part of the discussion once the contest ends. I love finding out what other people rank highly, along iwth hearing what others have to say are the reasons behind their rankings.

For some reason this is our most popular contest YET!



Doug
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Robert Ramirez
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It might be because Galaxy Trucker is a GREAT game. Played only once, but wish I had played lots more.
 
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T. Rosen
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r3gamer wrote:
It might be because Galaxy Trucker is a GREAT game. Played only once, but wish I had played lots more.


Yeah I'm also very interested in Galaxy Trucker
 
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Rik Van Horn
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1. Vampire:TES
How do I love this game? let me count the ways. Bleeding. Predatory. RPG's.
Stakes. Let's face it, this game has it all. Deceit, politics, corruption, werewolves, mages, madness, zombies, modern weapons, ancient weapons, spells. Not to mention worldwide locations, all kinds of conveyances and arcane artifacts.
And best of all, you get to bleed your opponent to death. Huzzah!

2. RoboRally
There is no other game where people screw up so spectacularly and frequently. The chaos that ensues is well worth the time invested in this game. There is nothing more fun than realizing you cannot distinguish your left from your other left.

3. Netrunner
Almost unlimited replayability.
A couple of starter decks is all you need.
Completely different styles of play for each person and easily switchable.
Playing mechanisms found in no other game.
Beautiful integration of theme and mechanics.
It has no equals in the 2 player realm.

4. Cosmic Encounter
Have I mentioned my penchant for chaos? Well I should because chaos is a guiding force behind many of my top 5 games and this is one of them.
Wacky powers, unlikely alliances and lots of laughs unless you're playing with a bunch of anal retentives.

5. Illuminati
I think I've already mentioned chaos and here it is again. Only this game is the king. Conspiracies, money, weird groups, straight groups, criminal groups, conservative groups, you name it, they're all here...Elvis Impersonators, cycl gangs, bird lovers, the post office, orbital mind control.
Doh, I may have said too much, my door is being broken down as I typ



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Roger Yim
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My Top 5 Games of All Time

1. Roads & Boats

Roads & Boats is a symphony of a thousand (actually more like 1,200) in which a many, many moving parts come together in a harmonious whole. I bought the game, my most costly game purchase to date, based on the enthusiastic reviews I read on the Geek, expecting to spend the better part of a weekend figuring it out. I was surprised, however, at the relative simplicity of the rules and smoothness of the game play. What caused me to become smitten, however, was the narrative arc of the game, which starts quietly with donkeys milling about board, and slowly builds to rousing climax in which trucks and steamships are moving resources around, and factories are minting coins and issuing stock certificates. The game to me is a masterpiece of reductive representation of very complex systems. And it’s fun.

2. Antiquity

If Roads & Boats is “Bolero,” then its follow-up Antiquity is Saint-Saens’ “Danse Macabre,” a merry dance of skeletons. Death is in the air as land becomes spoiled, the citizenry suffer starvation, and cities fill up with graves. The graphic design is beautiful – all muted browns and tans of aged paper. Some find the theme too dark, but I like the reminder that the economic and agricultural systems that so many games cheerfully model in bright colors often have a terrible cost in the real world. Of course, Antiquity is a game, meant to be fun. Yet, for me play becomes richer when I am encouraged to draw a connection between a game and the aspect of the real world it is helping me to understand.

3. Mah-Jongg

My family’s heritage is Chinese, but we did not play mah-jongg until I taught it to my parents about 10 years ago. It quickly became a favorite and a reason for relatives to come over and stay late, and the clatter of tiles being mixed was a familiar after-dinner sound for many years. While I have taught my parents many games (they would bravely try any game I put in front of them), they took a particular liking to mah-jongg. I think they viewed it as a way of reclaiming, in a small way, their Chinese roots, which had long withered away in the suburbs of Silicon Valley. I credit the game with bringing my family closer together.

4. Goldland

I’ve loved games as long as I can remember, but my enthusiasm was renewed when I discovered I could order obscure German games on the Internet. Wolfgang Kramer’s Goldland was in one of my earliest orders, and it holds a special place in my heart because after I played it a few times I realized I could make games the subject of scholarly study. I’ve lectured a few times about board games (and will teach a college course about games and play theory in the spring) and I always bring up one aspect of Goldland as an example of clever and economical modeling of a real-world system: the backpack mechanism. A numbered tile represents a player’s backpack. As the player accumulates items, he places them on the highest-numbered open space, starting with 12. The highest uncovered number on the tile equals the number of spaces a player can move. Thus, the more items, the heavier the backpack becomes, and the harder it is for a player to travel. So simple, yet it blew my mind and opened it to the possibilities in board game design.

5. League of Six

I had to put a new game on the list because my favorite game is often the one I just played. Like many gamers, I have an insatiable need to try new games and am too easily infatuated with the latest releases. Sometimes these game crushes are long lasting; sometimes they quickly fade. League of Six, I think, will be one to take home to meet the parents. I tried League of Six at BGG.CON recently and enjoyed everything about it: the bidding system, the fiddly dials, the horse teams, the unique way commodity orders are fulfilled. Competition was fierce in our three-player game, yet turns were quick. The commodity boards in the castle kept us informed on exactly where we were in the game, which added tension and helped us to adjust our strategies. In addition to League of Six, Galaxy Trucker and In the Year of the Dragon were my favorites of the con.
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Robert Ramirez
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Everytime I see League of Six mentioned on BGG, I cringe....I had a chance to play it on the last day of BGG con, but decided to play a prototype instead.

cry
 
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Doug Garrett
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Oh, Robert - you SERIOUSLY missed out!!! Play it at your first opportunity - just make sure it's with 4 or 5, as that's the optimal number. Three is just OK. It SHINES with 4 or 5.

Doug
 
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Roger Yim
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Glad to hear League of Six gets better with four or five because I thought it was great with only three!
 
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Last time I looked, Funagain has League of Six for $40. I ordered a copy today based on your podcast that featured it.
 
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First of all, Joe's post above is exceptional and I find myself in the awkward position of merely parroting what he wrote earlier. Not only were my criteria for selection similar but our choices overlap significantly. I hope his insightful post will merit a mention in the next podcast.

A few parameters. In compiling this list I presume that I'm in a group with the optimal number of players for each game, everyone is an experienced player, and that we have the necessary time set aside for playing. Without these assumptions, my list would look very different.

Here it is:

5. Puerto Rico:
This game makes my list because of its exceptional replay value. I hate teaching PR (which is unusual, because I generally love introducing games to new players) mainly because the learning curve is so high. I think first-timers have a deer-in-the-headlights look when they learn the game (and experienced players find an introductory game cumbersome because they have to explain what the wharf or office or hacienda does a dozen times). But, based on what I said above, PR is a terrific game with the right group.

4. Magic the Gathering
For several years, MtG was gaming for me. I didn't play anything else, I barely owned any other games. I loved this game. Sometimes when I'm doing something tedious (like mowing the lawn) I'll still think of deck combinations in my head. Unfortunately, the game became too much to keep up with, and I hated the way new cards were rolled out so quickly. And I also hated that my favorite decks became "obsolete" when I played in most tournaments. The mechanics of the game, and the design element of building or revising a deck, make this a special game for me.

3. Ticket to Ride
The TTR series gets praise for flexibility, enjoyability, and scale. I like that this game can be a casual, fun, "gateway" game or a cutthroat competition depending on who's playing. Looking forward to trying the Switzerland expansion map, but kudos to DoW for a great system that is both simple and deep.

2. Hammer of the Scots
I wanted to include at least one "wargame" on this list, and I guess Hammer qualifies (barely). I like the fog of war aspect, and especially like the fact that both sides are essentially matched, even though they have such different strengths. I think Hammer would appeal to eurogamers, and it's actually less detailed than many "gamers" games I see on BGG. But it accomplishes this with greater attention to historical detail than I see in most games. A great introduction to the Columbia Games block style wargame.

1. Diplomacy
This is a great game, as other posters here have said. It's the only game I've seen used effectively in the classroom, and it's fundamentally a game about human motivation and psychology. The mechanics are flawless. I think of Diplomacy as being like Chess--since opening moves are recorded, named, and studied. The level of commentary on Diplomacy is also high, so the game can be studied, debated, and examined much like chess.

With the constraints of day-to-day life, Diplomacy is a hard game to play, and a harder game to play optimally--which requires seven experienced players willing to invest roughly six hours or more. For this reason, I've played several games online. And this is another strength of the game (which has been played by disparate opponents for most of its history. In the pre-computer days, Play by Mail Diplomacy was common. And cheap mimeographed Diplomacy "journals" were circulated, which included game analysis and announced player moves. So a community developed around the game). But under ideal conditions, playing Diplomacy is the most satisfying gaming experience I can imagine.
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Jake Di Toro
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Top five games. Interesting enough, this made me take a good look at my ratings and I determined that my ratings were all out of whack. Still are probably for anything else. But anyway in countdown order:

#5 Power Grid: Being an old school Empire Builder player, when Steven Glenn invited a few of us over for a game that was like "Crayon Rails" but about power companies, the wife and I were right there. That of course was Funkenschlag, but we enjoyed it plenty. When the English version finally came out as Power Grid I fell in love. I now own the entire series, though I'm waiting on the expansion deck as of now. I'm not a huge auction guy, but the interaction of auctions, with the resource management of this game strikes the right chord. I look forward to what new things this game has to offer, and it's never the same game twice.

#4 Torres: Torres how I love you, let me stack the towers. My desire for this game requires some explanation of my gaming background. My board gaming came in two stages, bracketing my time that was devoted to EverQuest. There was the post Magic phase 1996-2000 in which the "German craze" was just getting started. These were the days where board game playing revolved around playing the folks in my house, and the few of us "Ex"-Magic players, in the same store we played Magic in. One of the roommates had Torres, and I would obsess over it. The 3D and construction aspect drew me. The roommate moved out, we started playing EverQuest, and life progressed. 2004 rolled around an I was back into wanting to play board games. I started gaming with what would be the core of my current gaming group, but my old roommate wasn't around as he had progressed to WoW, and no one owned Torres. So when 2005 and the reprint came out, I was quick to snap it up.

#3 Ticket to Ride: Probably the series in general, though the original is still number one. I own all three sets, Mystery Train, 1910, and the Swiss map is on it's way. This one was introduced to me early on as the game group was forming. An extension of my love of train games, I think this has supplanted any others, though AoS and RRT are probably in my top 20. This is just a game I always have fun playing. Even when things are tight and block, inadvertent or purposeful, can be frustrating. I still have fun come the end of the game.

#2 Settlers of Catan: The cliche holds true here. This was my gateway game. Coming off of Magic, this was a perfect replacement. It was a game that had all the configurability of Magic, but was played with a "board" and didn't require a couple hundred dollars every few months. Though if I realized then what I've spent now I might have stuck with Magic, after all I bought the 3D set . I still play this game at every opportunity. Like most, I prefer the original game these days, but will still play with expansions on occasion.

As so we come to #1....

Robo Rally: I fell in love with this game when it came out, and I don't think it's every really been off the top of my list. For a while my ratings said that Soc was the top, but my comments said that this was #2 only because I couldn't get people to play this with me. I think I was fooling myself. I had the same problem with Robo Rally that I did with Torres, it was the roommates copy. Despite some of what I've spent in other games I never could bring myself to pay $100 for a used copy for something that I couldn't get to play when I wanted. But the combination of a wider gaming group and the reprint by Avalon Hill brought this back to the forefront for me. I do actually get to play this with people, though it's still joked that it's my game to lose. For a while the game group was having championship matches on specific games, and my certificate sits in the box of my copy (2 full sets, 75% off at B&N was hard to pass up for the second). Why do I really love this. I'm a computer guy, and spent may a moon as a programmer. My brain works logically, and I'm not that creative. This game just fits who I am and how I do things. I play logs of games, I enjoy lots of games. But I just don't see any game ever topping this on for me. Games will come and go, and the rest of this list may slide down, but I predict that this will always be number one.
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Robert Ramirez
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dwgteach wrote:
Oh, Robert - you SERIOUSLY missed out!!!


cry
cry
cry !!!
 
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Robert Cannon
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My top 5 games shows the struggle between the games I love and want to play and the games that I have time to play (though still love). I started my current engagement with the board game hobby almost 20 years ago when I was starting my own business. Board games represented the cheapest form of entertainment (dollars per hour of entertainment) and I returned to games that I had played in high school and college like Rail Baron, Conquistador and Magic Realm. I added to the collection over the next few years some classics from that era like Civilization/Advanced Civilization, Merchants of Venus, Talisman and History of the World. Shortly thereafter, we discovered Settlers of Catan (the first Mayfair edition) and I entered a long lasting love of board games that continues to this day. I have great memories of the days that I could play a game for 6-8 hours over a weekend.

These days, I have a lot of responsibilities that cut my gaming time to an hour or two a week on the best of weeks. My job and family take a great deal of my time and while I wouldn’t trade today for those days of old, I do miss playing the big involved games. Maybe as my kids get old enough, I can infect them with the love of those games. So, these days, I occasionally get a short game in at lunchtime (and even that is getting cut to almost nothing as a large project I have been working on comes to a close). These short games, especially the “super-fillers” are starting to form my favorite game. But the tug on my heart for those older games keeps them in my top games. And so, my top 5 games:

5. Das Amulet
This actually sits right between my “old” days and the current days. When this came out, I was able to attend the weekly Atlanta Board Gamers group and I was very involved in the hobby. I helped organize a local con, I was active on the forums and r.g.b. I also made many games aids. This is one of the first games that I got that was in German where no-one had made translations or paste-ups yet. So I got to work and made a great set of inserts for the cards that replaced just the text section with the English translation. Many people played my copy of the game without realizing that there was anything special about the cards. I loved this game and the auction element was my first introduction to an auction game that I liked (Modern Art never hit a chord for me). I submitted my translation to the fledging BoardGameGeek and it was a popular download until Alan Moon asked me to remove it (I guess he wanted to protect an English translation that we are still waiting for). The theme really works for me. I love the powers and combos.

4. Medici
I never played this when it first came out but I was able to get it in a math trade earlier this year. I was an instant hit for our lunch-time game group. I immediately went and got the newer version with the better graphics (and several people in our group even got their own copy). It really is one of the best auction games around. I especially love the tension when it gets down to two people in the auction. That aspect alone makes me want to get Medici vs. Strozzi although my opportunity for two-player games is rare. But the best part is that this game offers a great deal of depth in a game that fits in an hour.

3. Diamant
Major fun. And anyone can play it, so I can enjoy this one with my kids. This has been a fantastic game for my lunch group and I was even able to get my wife’s family to try and enjoy this one on Thanksgiving. The looks of the diamonds and the Indiana Jones meeples and the crates make this an eye catcher (and the reason why you should pass on the Incan Gold version). This is my favorite push your luck game which makes it a recent edition to my top five. Did I mention it’s Major Fun?

2. Merchants of Venus
I really can’t decide if this is my top game or the next one. I find this game to be great fun and I love the Sci-Fi theme and the map is gorgeous. A game with a trading route is always a great hook for me. I love many train games for the same reason. The ability to build up your ship is another mechanic I love to see. This was one of my first “engine building” games and I still love it. We played it almost every week for years and this was a key game in building my love for this hobby. While it is a top love for me, I haven’t played it in years. I hope it still holds the same hold on my heart the next time I play. Because of my love for this game, I am carefully watching Galactic Trucker as it will provide a similar theme (although very different mechanics) but a much short play time.

1. Advanced Civilization
I have easily spent the most hours playing this game that any other in my collection. It’s not hard to accumulate a lot of game time as the game takes 5-8 hours to play. So, I think that is what will cement its place as my top game. The technology tree is my favorite feature of the game and I still don’t think there has been a game that has done it as well as this game. This game has interaction in spades, an easy combat system and the immersion is the deepest for any game that I have. My one regret for this game is that I have yet to actually complete a game. We usually call the game as we approach 6 hours and there is a clear leader.

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John N.
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My top 5 games Evah!

5: Nexus Ops - I have a hard time not putting this at the top of my list, but it just hasn't attained that stature yet. This was a great stepping stone to move me away from Risk, which really dragged out too much for me. Just everythign about this game is fantastic. The exploration, the mini-missions, the hexes, the figures and the multiple abilities of each unit, and a really neat tight little rule set.Wish I could get it to the table a little more.

4: Cities & Knights of Catan - Let the flaming begin. Come on though. Who doesn't love a little bit of backstabbing of your friends, the defending against the Barbarians, building up your cities and the nasty development cards you get for doing so? Fetching Great. We have played a little vanilla catan recently and it just doesn't have the meat to it that Cities & Knights does. Plus we never seem to have the problem of dragged out games that others complain about ad nauseum (even with 6 player games). I think these people need to get a new gaming group!

3: Pirate's Cove - We play this constantly. It is one of the few games that we play that the journey is enough to make us more than happy, no matter who wins we love it! The tension of trying to guess where others will go, and deciding whether to face them off or just head to Treasure Island to dump your treasure and just play it safe. very nice.

2: Advanced Heroquest - I had no access to D&D growing up, but my dad got me a copy of Advanced Heroquest for Christmas and this is one game that all my friends loved to play. When I went back to Scotland last year this was th eone thing we all waxed lyrical on. I just need to figure out where I left my copy

1: Ticket to Ride: Marklin - I really like Ticket to Ride, but I LOVE Marklin! It is so deep to me. My wife calls it fiddly, but I can deal with the fiddliness of setting up the board with the little point markers if she wants. She always wins this game, so I don't know why she complains. It is easily my all time favourite game. Underappreciated. As anything worth loving should be

 
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James Nathan
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Top 5, Top 5 . . . .

Sometimes I feel like the only one who feels Power Grid should be a gateway game. I'm a recent me-too! to the hobby, and in probably non-traditional ways: I purchased Ticket to Ride for a friend who I don't think owned any games, and I only owned standard American fare (Boggle, etc). I hadn't played TTR, but oh my it turned out to be a hit! I think one of the reasons it works, or rather, one of the reasons you can tell people like it, is that after the game a discussion immediately commences, even among non-gamers, of what they should have done, and what they are going to do differently next time.

And it was a similar experience for another friends birthday a few months later; I give terrible gifts, and I was coming off a success with TTR, and it was a friend I knew could handle his game-meat, so I purchased PG for him. Ha! It was the second "game" I had played, and the first for 2 of the 4 people I played with (the other being my wife, and her second game as well.) It made me wave the Eurogame flag proudly, and all the others were converts as well. I could tell it worked too from the postgame analysis, but I also think it works well because of how many tasks there are to assign to the different players: refilling resources, banker, turn order-er, etc. (Though this is a drawback from another couple that I used this as a gateway game for (they *love* it), because they generally only have 2 to play with and they say the tasks are too much busy work)

And I guess along the same lines, I purchased Thurn & Taxis for a friend for her birthday, and mentioned, in passing, that I would have purchased Notre Dame, but that my then-beloved-FLGS was out of it. Low and behold for my birthday the next month she game me ND!!! I guess it comes down to I just love games with enough choices that there are a pile of choices (not guaranteed, but it seems to help). Several people have run out to purchase ND since I've introduced them to it.

And I suppose in a complete about-face, Hamsterrolle. I LOVE this game. I have a soft spot for games that appear to be children's games, but that you can play at an adult level. The rules that come with the game are vague, seem incomplete, and require some massaging. And I suppose this holds for the games above too, but I really love the anticipation and intensity of: how many destination cards will we end up having completed, what sort of last turn come-from-"behind"s will there be in PG, how much prestige have we all been piling up, and will this piece make the wheel roll enough to cause pieces to tumble!? ...that feeling in my gut!


...of course I love Carcassone, and Twilight Struggle, and I feel bad not including Thebes, but I think its a flash in the pan for me, but in my heart of hearts, my game of games I think is Taluva. I received it for Christmas last year, and just can't get enough of this game. The theme is pasted on, but I couldn't care less; I drool over the wooden bits and the filet-mignon-tiles. But I run into a problem that my friends that enjoy Euros, don't enjoy the play (when it comes down to it, a very abstract game), and my abstract friends don't even want to play it because it looks like it has some theme (and the guy on the box scares them off). And sometimes it seems like deluxe tic-tac-toe I think because there are a small number of turns, and if you don't use 1 optimally, you lose. The pressure I see every turn to not make a mistake . . . and I think it loses out on the post-game analysis because my Euro-friends can't see through the Abstract-fog.



Ok, so I guess that makes it (in no order):
Ticket to Ride (Europe, I guess)
Power Grid (Benelux, for what it's worth)
Notre Dame
Hamsterrolle
Taluva
 
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Jonathan Kift
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My Top 5 games:

I like so many games, so this is really tough. I do have 3 tens, so that's not a problem, but I could really stick at least half a dozen or more in slots 4 and 5.

#1: Go
Go is a game that fascinates me. I'm pretty terrible at it, and there's little chance that I'll ever better than mediocre by even the most lenient of guidelines. And you know what? I don't care! Unlike Chess, which I find fairly tedious, every time I sit down to play a game of Go, it's like I'm preparing to explore a vast and unknowable realm, full of surprises and revelations. Because of the sheer number of possibilities available, I give up trying to play the "right" move, and just do the best I can, given the meagre knowledge I have. Every time I win, I'm somewhat disappointed because I'm sure I made countless mistakes, and every time I lose, I feel like I've learned something that will make my next game even better.

#2: Puerto Rico
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Look at the sheep, following the herd. Only liking Puerto Rico because everyone else does. Whatever. I know there are plenty of people out there who don't like this game much, but I'm just not one of them. I've enjoyed this game every single time I've played it, I've introduced it to gamers and non-gamers alike with equal success, and after having this game sitting at a 9 for a long time, I decided to give it a 10, because I really can't see how to improve on it in any way. For an indirect conflict, euro-style game, it really is just about perfect. Maybe if I play it another 80 times or so, I'll be playing at a level where the so-called "flaws" start annoying me, but for now, it's as close to perfect as anything out there.

#3: Bartok
And now for something completely different. Bartok is a game that very few people know around here. It has a whopping total of 9 ratings on BGG, and a total of 4 plays! Now, if you look closely, only one of those plays is mine. It might seem weird to rate a game so highly when I hardly ever play it, but that mostly stems to the shift in focus that my gaming hobby has taken in the last few years. After being introduced to Settlers (and Bohnanza and Ra and Puerto Rico and on and on and on...), silly little card games like this have taken the back seat, regardless of how perfect this silly little card game may be. Back before I had a great big game collection, I always had a couple of decks of cards in my backpack just in case there was a chance to play a game of Bartok. These games would nearly always end with everyone laughing till it hurts, and that's a sign of a good game in my books. The description of the game says not to play with mathematicians, which I can understand, because adding a rule like "Treat all cards in the Fibonacci sequence as though there were in reverse sequential order." wouldn't be fun to anyone else, but a rule like "If you play a three, you have to run over to that group shooting hoops and yell 'San Dimas Highschool football rules!' and get back again before it's your turn." (an actual rule in one game I played) is fun to anyone who can enjoy playing a game where "winning" isn't "everything".

#4: Shogun
I've never played Wallenstein, which I know many people here on BGG prefer, but I still think Shogun is an excellent game. No, it's not a wargame, and if you play it like one, you won't win and you probably won't have a very good time, either. Still, this game has direct and indirect conflict, area control, set collection, and pretty much the coolest method of conflict resolution ever devised! It's definitely my favourite "longer" game, as it usually takes us a good three hours to play, but it's fun the whole time.

#5: BattleLore
For purely conflict-driven games, BattleLore is my favourite so far. I'm not a big wargamer, so I haven't played anything much more complicated than this, but there's still plenty more for me to explore in this one, especially with the piles of expansions that are available. Days of Wonder knows how to put together a quality package, and they've excelled in nearly everything about this one, from the instruction booklet, to the great minis, to the great map. Oh yeah, and it's really fun!

Depending on the number and type of gamers in a given situation, any of the following could also have a shot at the #4 and #5 spots: Backgammon, Diamant, For Sale, Hive, LotR: The Confrontation and Ra.
 
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Sterling Babcock
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I am very interested in this since I played it at BGG.CON and it was fantastic. Right up my alley. Please put me in for the contest!

My top 5 games:

1. Galaxy Trucker - Of course! Build your space ship and go out there and collect goods. What a great light way to go out there and get into that space theme. Not too long, and really cool spaceships you can put together! What more can you ask?

2. Roads and Boats - It is all about building things up. Start with 3 happy donkeys, some geese, and some boards and build up to mines! Mints! Stock exchanges! Besides that, everyone shares! All the production facilities are available to all! No pollution! No graves! No destruction! Just go out there and earn the most. My favorite puzzle game!

3. Euphrate and Tigris - Tough to play well, but great fun to play. Does not overstay it's welcome, and is over before you know it. But yet there is a lot to do here and skill definitely is a factor!

4. Tichu - A great game for relaxing with friends! Get together with your friends, lots of ways to play any hand. A challenge to play well, but fun even if you do not do well. And you can always get back into the game.

5. Space Dealer - A unique game with a predetermined game playing time. A quick science fiction game with space ships, cargo, technology development, and a bit of take that in the advanced game. Really quite a lot of fun!
 
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Gaspar Porta
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My Favorite Games


When I asked myself what my favorite games were, I thought about what makes me like a game. I found that this was not as easy to single out as I thought it would be. Some of the things that make me like a game have to do with the look and feel of the game. Also, memories I have from specific times I played the game in the past have a strong effect on my affection for a game—this includes who I played the game with, of course. The mechanics and mental tasks that occur during the game greatly attract or detract from the game experience. Finally, the genre of a game can make us lose ourselves in the world of the game and not even notice that we are playing a game.

Now, everybody has a different way to gauge and measure how hard a game is or how well a game fits its theme, but preference is often linked to un-measureable characteristics. As a mathematician by trade, I feel comfortable making this claim even though it downplays (to some degree) measures for comparisons. I guess I concluded that when I rated my favorite games, I really had to accept what my feelings were indicating. I concentrated on describing what caught my attention when I evaluated these preferences rather than compare them to other games or to a hard scale.

The list that follows is not in any specific order. Following the preceding comments, I realized that my preferences are dependent on so many temporal factors that a hard order was misleading. And so, the following are what I found myself choosing from the myriad games I mused about.

Elfenland—So many choices and so much variety makes one feel that this game is riddled by chance and mired by unpredictability. However, the better players seem to win more than their share, and frequently, their foresight allows them to overcome (or rebound from) setbacks. The interplay between the components is charming and I always feel ‘there’ when I play the game. It’s great fun to watch other players wrestling with their options—knowing their choices will ultimately affect mine.

Evo—Humor, laughing and silliness seem to flood the room when I play this game. However, I find myself calculating and balancing my strategy responding to other player’s choices and to the available resources as though I was solving an optimization problem. There are obvious derivatives (there, now you have to believe I am a mathematician) to one’s progress. But, they interplay and influence each other. You can almost distinguish first and second derivatives. And, you build, move, fight, bid, compare, and jockey for player positions all in the same game. Another remarkable thing about this game is how easy it is for non-gamers to pick it up. I found that many people I did not expect to be able to really keep up with this game did so with little or no difficulty. Perhaps, it was the humor; perhaps, it was the balance between real choices and frivolity. Regardless, it is an easy game to break out and have a mixed group of guests play.

Amun-Re—In very few turns, a subtle competition unfolds. Even though the regions are never changing, the game is different each time. Even what is valuable varies from game to game. Again, although luck involves each phase and turn, the better players make the right choices to give themselves the advantage. There is negotiation by action. The tension keeps itself high until the end. It is fun to play online as well as on a table. And, watching the Egyptian landscape evolve and develop is wonderful. I have had tremendous fun analyzing online games with a friend and discussing what choices I or he should make in games we are playing with and without each other. This has had the charm of analyzing a chess situation from a book with a friend along with the ‘lighter’ enjoyment of a board-game—yet another facet of game-playing that can endear a game to me.

The Great Space Race—I love space, and I love race games. Maybe that is why I am so interested in the game at the heart of this contest. Here we have the two combined. And, a bunch of wonderful player interaction, unpredictability, and need for resourcefulness! Participating in a game with a ‘Wacky Racers’ feel to it, in space, with a bunch of mature distinguished gentlemen at a Gen Con was marvelously entertaining. I couldn’t help feeling that an 8 year old French kid with pigtails needed to walk by and ask her mother why the old men were not acting like adults. I also couldn’t help imagining myself in a ‘Fifth Element’ world.

Leonardo da Vinci—Again, the variety of choices in strategy offered by this game made me feel I was in over my head immediately. The namesake was such an interesting human. The art is attractive but doesn’t deter from the mechanics. The layout of the board is clean, organized and neat. As a player you see a chain of influence between the choices offered, but you recognize that the order of events and areas of concentration intricately depend on the choices other players are making. I find myself entertained even watching other players make their choices. I feel myself walking through the streets of Florence machinating the downfall or my competitors.

As I submit this, I recognize with trembling fingers that I am consumed by the desire to play Galaxy Trucker—my wife confirms this. When I first played Merchants of Venus, so many years ago, I felt so much anticipation to finally play a game with this theme. I think I was anticipating Galaxy Trucker. I’ve read the rules online. The rules alone indicate to me this game will really reach those expectations I had with Merchants of Venus. I’m certain Galaxy Trucker will climb to the top of my list quickly!
 
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James Fehr
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Here are my 5 all-time favorites so far. Looking at these titles, a person might think I just follow the masses' opinions as shown by the BGG game ratings. Oh well. I really think these games deserve the status they've been given:

1) Euphrates & Tigris
I think E&T is an extremely elegant game, where the basic mechanism of kingdoms being built and splitting apart through clever tile placements seems to be an ageless principle of nature that was just waiting to be revealed and employed in the context of a game. I'm sure a few other games use that mechanism too, but I haven't been exposed to them yet. I like the amount of conflict, and the "push your luck" system of knowing when to make significant risks to secure future rewards. If this had been the only game Knizia designed, I think he would still rank as one of my favorite designers.

2) Caylus
This game might take 2.5 hours to play, but it feels like 30 minutes to me. There is so little downtime, and so many anguishing decisions to make. Like so many other good games, there's the constant tension of not being able to do whatever you want, but there's also a great rewards system in the favor track, and I think the balance of missing out and gaining is great. Having the negotiation around the movement of the bailiff puts the icing on the cake for me. I've had great success in playing this with casual and heavy gamers alike.

3) Puerto Rico
I find this game enjoyable for many reasons. One unique advantage it has over other deep games is its relative accessibilty to newbies. Granted, a newbie probably won't win right away, but the decisions are limited enough that they can jump in and feel like they're playing the game half-decently without a thorough understanding of the strategy first. This is another game I've had success with in teaching to casual gamers. I love the ability to build up my own little kingdom that take on its own unique personality each time I play. Sometimes it almost feels like a racing game as I watch my opponents ship goods and acquire victory points like crazy, while I try to figure out a way to get ahead anyway, even if I don't have as much to ship. There is usually little downtime with the group I play with. It's also an awesome game for playing alone with my wife - I almost prefer the 2-player variant to playing with a larger group.

4) Goa
I love the puzzle aspect of this game, where I am forced to make a plan, and follow through on it, making sure I have enough resources for each step along the way. The way the tiles on the board are chosen for auctioning at the beginning of each round is unique, and works extremely well. It is so fun to pick which tile will be up for auction. I love auction games, and although auctioning is only a portion of this game, I think it might be my favorite implementation of it. For a deep game, it doesn't take that long with just 2 players, which is my favorite way to play.

5) El Grande
I love area majority games, and this one is my favorite so far. I love the way I can never be completely in control of what happens, but yet can influence the gameplay in significant ways, especially if I can get inside the minds of my opponents. The element of bluffing is very cool.
The castillo gives you some neat "gotcha" moments. That element of guessing where your opponents are going to place their castillo cubes adds a superb amount of tension and suprise. I love the simple way auctioning with your power cards is implemented - great stuff! Also, I really like the amount of confrontation in this game. After playing a lot of your normal non-confrontational Euro-fare, playing this was like scratching an itch I didn't know I had. Overall, I think the mechanics of this game mesh together exceptionally well, leaving me with many good options and very difficult choices at every turn.

Thanks for running this contest Doug!
 
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Dustin Gervais
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#1: Magic: The Gathering CCG

My favorite game has so much versatility. You can really take so many different types of experiences out of it. You can play competitively and try to draw out every small advantage you can. You can also just play casually. The deck-building aspect of it really allows for creativity and interesting design choices.

#2: Samurai

One of my friends describes this game by saying, "When I play a tile on one of the board, somehow I've opened up space on the other end of the board." That's exactly what I love about. The interesting spacial relationships give this game an interesting 'go-like' feel, in a much less complicated framework.

#3: Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation: Deluxe Edition

This game adds all the best elements of Stratego to some brilliant card play. The Deluxe Edition gives you lots of additional options and I'd love to think about adding additional cards and powers to the game, but I don't get to play it enough to do that.

#4: Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit

This is an excellent "skirmish" game, and it is probably the closest thing to a war game you'll see me play. There is always so much tension between the choices of which battles to engage in. Also, each game finishes very close to two hours, and I appreciate the consistency in the length.

#5: Ca$h 'n Gun$

An amazingly fun party game that is very accessible and is always a 'blast.' Even with the orange guns, having a gun pointed at you is intimidating and adds a special dynamic to what is really a relatively simple bluffing game.
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James Sharp
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Hmm, I suppose my list would be a mixture of all-time favorites and current favorites. I moved across the country several years ago, leaving all my longtime gaming buddies behind, and my gaming sessions since then have been few and far between, mainly consisting of two-player sessions with my (wonderful) "non-gamer" wife. I'm much too shy to join a local gaming group and start playing with strangers -- fellow gamers though they be. So, as a displaced gamer with Social Anxiety Disorder (!), I'm currently biased toward two-player games and games that can be played solo.

5. Hive -- The best, and most unique, abstract strategy game I've seen in years. The rules are simple, and a game can be played in ten minutes. I've only played a few that lasted more than a half-hour. The board is created by the pieces as you play, resulting in ever-shifting cool-looking patterns from game to game. The insect "theme" is fun, and adds a lot of flavor to the game.

4. Crokinole -- A wonderful mix of manual dexterity and strategy. I used to have Crokinole tournaments with my cousins and it was a blast. A good board can be expensive, but it's worth the investment. How many other game boards do you hang on your wall like a work of art?

3. Settlers of Catan -- As with so many others, this was my gateway into eurogames. When two of my cousins came out to visit, I introduced this game to them (and to my wife, who loved it), and I had the rare opportunity to play several three- and four-player sessions while they were here. What a pleasure. It reinforced my love of the hobby.

2. Arkham Horror -- I love the theme. I've been an H. P. Lovecraft fan for many years, and I played the Call of Cthulhu RPG back in the '80s. I like cooperative games, and this is one of the few good ones that can be played solo and still be enjoyable (Magic Realm being another great example of this).

1. Titan -- An Avalon Hill classic (soon to be reprinted by Valley Games). Titan is a fantasy-themed wargame in which you move your legions of mythical creatures around a master game board, trying to recruit more powerful creatures. These creatures are led by your Titan character, who grows in power as his legions accumulate victories in battle. Battles are fought on separate "battleboards" that represent the area on the masterboard where the battle is taking place. The game has an amazing depth, from the strategy on the masterboard to the tactics on the battleboards. It can take quite a long time to play, but I usually become so immersed in the strategy that I don't notice.

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Phyll
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OK, top 5? Subjectively interpreted to give a mix of current faves, all-time faves, nostalgic faves, most played - basically, the five games I feel strongest about - right about now.

5. Colossal Arena

Man what a fun game. Quick, easy, tense, tactical, mindgames, betting, bloodsports, chaos and lots of laughs.

I always just seem to have pure unadulterated fun with this.

I am such a sucker for holding on to that 9 or 10 for when I really, really, really, really need it. And surely my Cyclops doesn't need it now. He surely must be able to survive for just one more round. I'll play it then.....

(and give a Stunning Blow to some lucky customer to boot surprise )

4. Sun Tzu

OK, this has gotta go down on all those 2-player geeklists. It really is excellent. I'd place it as a mix between LotR - The Confrontation and Balloon Cup.

How often do you see area control in 2p games? Couple that with hand management, mindgames, bluff, nerve wracking decisions (eeeek! Such sweaty palms), with a small amount of strategy but lots of tactics - what more could a young boy want?

Mighty, mighty fine and severely underrated 2 player game. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

3. Ra

I'd heard that Ra was THE auction game. Me? I'm not all that fussed by auction games. I don't NOT like them - in fact I can quite enjoy them. It's just that they don't seem to really grab me and shake me all about.

At first having the rules explained to me I was a little "hmmmmm". But that all changed when after about half a round it all fell into place and I just love it. Now in a humble opinion I derived all on my very own - this is THE auction game.

This game just works. The auctioning is quick, beautiful and so very simple. Although like with any auction game it can suffer from players trying deperately to analyse and calculate what should be bid for a given set of tiles - and spend painful amounts of time figuring out EXACTLY what should be bid - Ra does not readily suffer from this.

This is because the bidding tokens don't have an intrinsic value (such as most auctions when you bid an amount of $ - this leads to every auction having a 'value' or 'worth' to each player which can be calcuated - and too often it is - this bogging the whole thing down) - they just have a 'strength' relative to each other.

This leads to being able to successfully play Ra intuitively (which I adore) and it flows so very smoothly. I find it so elegant and I adore it.

On another note: I have never seen the original - but Uberplay have done a great job with the reprint. Quality components and a box that is just the right space for said components without filling up with air. Very nice.


2. Tikal

I started playing this online about a year ago and today I got my 100th online win! Wohoo! The honeymoon has slightly worn off now, but given the easy access to playing this from the comfort of my lounge for a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes in the evening this is easily now my most often played game.

It's a game which I thoroughly enjoy and lends itself to pbem format - though of course I prefer to play f2f with physical version and all those lovely looking tiles and counters and stuff. I enjoy it enough that I even knocked up a wee strategy guide on it.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1789300#1789300

1. Battlecars

About 20 years ago I fell in love. Deep. Passionate. All consuming. I was young, hormones were doing all sorts of strange things to my body, but the older I got I realized it was not some craze or phase or stage I was going through.

I was not fickle. I had found true love. This was constant. This was eternal. I had found Battlecars.

Battlecars is Alpha.

I love Battlecars.

Now don’t get me wrong, nowadays I’m basically a Euro Gamer. And Battlecars however is probably about as far from a ‘Euro’ as you can get:

There’s a hellovalotta luck. Strategy and Tactics are nearly non existant.

It is NOT feelgood touchy-feely. There are no illusions about not directly inflicting damage on your opponents. You are not doing anything so prosaic as ‘exerting influence’, ‘harvesting resources’, ‘blocking routes’ or anything like that – you are there to inflict as much damage to their person as possible, personally and with extreme prejudice.

And boy it is a lot of fun. It has a great feel and the images of a limping and bloody driver who has just abandoned his burnt out wreck and is trying to escape through a minefield while a crazed guy in a car with no rubber on his tyres and smoke billowing from his engine making wild potshots in his direction are both strangely powerful and cinematic.

This is a game where winning is about the last priority. It’s all about the journey and the fun is derived from the manner in which the game is played. Sure, it’s more sensible to try and strategically place Mines in front of a mobile opponent so they have to drive over them and suffer the damage, or an oil slick so they lose control and go headlong into a building or whatever, but the most fun to be had with this game is the adrenalin rush as you commence a crazed kamikaze rush headlong at an opponent knowing full well that once you’ve drawn first blood, chances are you’re toast.

It’s also all about ridiculing and heckling any player who hesitates about joining in the fray and wants to play nice and sensible.

This is a game where final placings don’t matter in the slightest and it is in fact an honour to go out early in the piece because a Flamethrower has hit your ruptured Fuel Tank or you got stuck in a * sandwich and copped Nuke after Nuke until there was nothing left.

This game is not about winning – it’s all about the glorious journey and more importantly the way you got there.

Battlecars is Omega.

I love Battlecars.
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