Thursday, September 14, 2006

Last Year's Top 71 Games: 2005-2006

Last year at the start of September I wrote an article called Last Year's Top 70 Games in which I ranked the top 70 "new" games that I'd newly played that year, from best to worst. It was timed to followup the various awards for the year, and also to precede the new games out at Essen.

This year I've decided to continue that tradition by once more listing every newly released new game that I've played in the last year. For this definition I include any game released, for the first time, in a U.S. edition in 2005 or 2006 and which I played for the first time from 9/1/05 to 8/31/06. Unlike my reviews, in which I generally try and assess which games I think are best, philosophically, this list only includes my personal preference for and enjoyment of the games. I'm a casual-to-medium-weight gameplayer, so you'll probably get the best use out of this list if you match that category.

Oddly, I once more seem to have about 70 games fitting this category of play.

I've linked to reviews for each game when I have them, so click on the linked names for more information.

My Listing of 71 Games That I've Played

The average quality of the games seems to be about the same as last year. I think #1-10 are top-notch, #11-25 are generally worth buying (with the last couple being more iffy), and #26-50 are generally worth playing. Beyond that, the ordering is generally my most to least favorite.
  1. Dungeon Twister - An almost-brilliant games of tactical play with superb fantasy theming.
  2. Blue Moon City - A fine resource-management game that's a new mid-level Knizia entry, and his best since last year's Beowulf.
  3. Kreta - A great, baroque majority control game. Why, why has no American company picked it up!?
  4. Reef Encounter - A beautifully themed great game system, finally available in the U.S.
  5. Beowulf: The Legend - A very good Knizia auction game that's right up there with his best.
  6. Funny Friends - I'm afraid this unique auction game might eventually get old, but for now it's at the top of my list, though I'm sometimes afraid that it'll offend other players.
  7. Thurn and Taxis - The play is a little repetitive but this is a great short game with fun brinkmanship and interesting play.
  8. Havoc: The Hundred Year's War - This clever little Poker-like game continues to go up in my estimation the more I play it.
  9. Three-Dragon Ante - A wonderful fantasy Poker variant who's only deficit is that it's not a constrained game: you instead play it till you're done, like normal Poker.
  10. Ticket to Ride: Märklin Edition - This series has lost some of its personal charm to me through nearly 100 plays, but this is still the finest of the series and enjoyable to play if a bit fiddly.
  11. Hacienda - A very enjoyable Kramer game that doesn't feel that innovative, but is made up of a lot of nice parts you've seen before.
  12. Palazzo - Another Knizia auction, not as deep or interesting as his true classics, but still generally worth playing.
  13. Mall of Horror - A great variant of the lifeboat game where you throw fellow shoppers to Zombies. Rargh!
  14. Arkham Horror - A long game but beautifully thematic, and one that I have a lot of fun playing with my RPG group.
  15. Caylus - An intriguing and strategic game that allows for great and thoughtful play, though it fails somewhat on a per capita measure of fun/minute, as it were. (E.g., the game's too long.)
  16. Pickomino - A great press-your-luck game, ultra-light, but worth the 15 minutes any time.
  17. Big Manitou - A great trick-taking game, with lots of angles and lots of originality.
  18. PÜNCT - A great 2-player abstract with fun geometrical play.
  19. Fairy Tale - One of the best fillers of the year, starting to lose a tiny bit of its appeal after 6 plays, but still going relatively strong.
  20. Elasund: The First City of Catan - A nice Teuber resource-management game that personally strikes me as a bit slow and a bit dry.
  21. Parlay - A very cool word game that would go much higher if I played word games more.
  22. The Scepter of Zavandor - A bit longer than I'd usually play, but a fun, colorful resource management game.
  23. Seismic - Not terribly original, but a fine cross between Carcassonne and Metro.
  24. Ostia - An interesting auction & blind-bidding game that sometimes gets a little long.
  25. Hey! That's My Fish! - A very amusing and quite strategic ultra-light filler.
  26. Grand Tribunal - Some interesting Princes of Florence-like play once you get past the mistakes in the rules.
  27. Il Principe - An interesting and thoughtful game that I suspect won't get much table time due to its length and complexity.
  28. Marvin Marvel's Marvelous Marble Machine - Mirthful machinery makes many mug merrily.
  29. Castle Merchants - A pretty neat game of card management and racing.
  30. Dead Man's Treasure - I'm pretty certain this will fade fast, but for now this remains fine bluffing fun, as long as the game doesn't go too short.
  31. Knights of Charlemagne - Yet another cute Knizian filler that I'm glad is finally available in an American version.
  32. Ark - A thematic and clever game that I love but ultimately feel I have almost no control over victory.
  33. Cleopatra and the Society of Architects - An interesting resource management game that's just a bit too big for its own good when all is said and done. And a little dry too.
  34. Street Illegal - A pretty neat racing game played with cards.
  35. Glory to Rome - A deep resource-management card game that's just on the other side of too complex for me to commonly play.
  36. Camelot - A very amusing real-time game that I'd play a lot more often if I had a group that played this sort of thing.
  37. Poison - Hearts-light in a big box. Nothing heart-stopping here, but nothing bad either.
  38. Manila - An entirely OK risk management game that I'd be happy to play.
  39. Tempus - Another resource-management game, but one that seems to get more staid the more I play it.
  40. The Hollywood Card Game - A fine set-collection game who's only deficit is that it's entirely light.
  41. Epic Dungeoneer: Call of the Lich Lord - Generally not my gaming fare, but I'm sure my RPG group would love an occasional play.
  42. Conquest of the Empire II - I ultimately decided that, eye-candy aside, I preferred Struggle of Empires, and this game's very heavy weight (by which I mean mass) keeps me from ever bringing it to gaming.
  43. Herocard Galaxy - An interesting game that's not quite my style.
  44. 10 Days in Europe - Yet another 10 Days. Innocuous enough that I generally won't turn a game down.
  45. Double or Nothing - Nothing wrong with it, but no spark either.
  46. Mesopotamia - colorful resource-management game that was too repetitive, dry, and deterministic to be very exciting.
  47. Palatinus - A weird and chaotic majority-control game.
  48. Wallamoppi - A fast-action stacking game that I don't have anything against, but really doesn't meet my definition of playing games.
  49. Travel Blokus - A fine abstract. My wife hates it and so it shall never be played.
  50. Ice Pirates of Harbor Grace - An amusing American-style game that I'd have loved 10 or 15 years ago, but don't expect to play much again.
  51. Sneeze - An entirely innocuous family game that I'd probably play if I were a family.
  52. Lucca Citta - A sort of weird pseudo-set-collection game that I'd play, but which I didn't find at all exciting.
  53. Treasures and Traps - A mostly harmless but entirely random fantasy-themed American game.
  54. King of the Beasts: Mythological Edition - A Reiner Knizia game that's so light that it feels like there's nothing to it.
  55. The Nacho Incident - An American game that utilizes many a German system (blind bidding, card management, bluffing, majority control), but which never entirely geled into a game.
  56. Bone Wars - An American style set-collection game that was mostly flat for me.
  57. Nature of the Beast - A fine pseudo-CCG game with great theming that nonetheless isn't really my style. My games generally ran too long.
  58. Fuddy Duddy - A simplistic (family) set-collection game.
  59. Architekton - Largely a failure, because it seems dry and simplistic.
  60. Fjords - One of last year's wasted purchases because it feels like 25 minutes of setup for 5 minutes of game.
  61. Harry's Grand Slam Baseball - A pretty cool game for its time period, but that's not now.
  62. Desert Bazaar - Mostly harmless, but a great direction for Mattel to be moving in.
  63. Hunting Party - A deduction game with some so-so components and some OK gameplay that doesn't really draw me back.
  64. Antike - A long and sharp-edged indie game that could have been so much more.
  65. Vampire: Prince of the City - A very American majority-control game that was perfectly fine for its class, but for me took way too long and was way too complex.
  66. Siena - Painfully long and sharp-edged, with atrocious components. Sadly, there's an interesting game hidden inside.
  67. Dwarf Stones - An uninspired, largely random American wargame.
  68. UWO - A somewhat uninspiring game of 2-player combat.
  69. Beetlez - A kid's game with almost nothing going for it.
  70. Pepper - A cute card-matching game that falls apart in actual play.
  71. Conquest of the Empire I - The original version of this game made me want to claw my eyes out because of the boring, long play.
Stats

So how did the various publishers do? Here's a comparison of my numbers last year and this year:

LAST YEAR
Top 10Top 25
2F-Spiele
0
0
Alea01
Asmodee
0
0
Atlas Games
0
0
Days of Wonder22
Fantasy Flight Games12
Goldseiber
0
0
Hans im Gluck22
Kosmos12
Lookout Games
0
0
Mayfair Games01
Phalanx Games12
Pro Ludo
0
0
Real Deal Games
0
0
Rio Grande Games36
Sunriver Games
0
0
What's Your Game
0
0
Wizards of the Coast
0
0
Ystari Games
0
0
Z-Man Games02
Zoch Verlag
0
0


THIS YEAR
Top 10Top 25
2F-Spiele
1
1
Alea01
Asmodee
1
2
Atlas Games
0
1
Days of Wonder11
Fantasy Flight Games23
Goldseiber
1
1
Hans im Gluck12
Kosmos23
Lookout Games
0
1
Mayfair Games03
Phalanx Games01
Pro Ludo
0
1
Real Deal Games
0
1
Rio Grande Games28
Sunriver Games
1
1
What's Your Game
1
3
Wizards of the Coast
1
1
Ystari Games
0
1
Z-Man Games13
Zoch Verlag
0
1

Here's some comments on the results:
  • Companies will come and go from results like this. (In fact, I didn't even bother to list people who showed up last year but not this.) However some companies that went off this list are notable, particularly the fact that Amigo and Uberplay didn't make my top 25 this year, and they each had multiple entries last year. Amigo seems to have notable troubles getting anyone in the U.S. to carry their games, but that might be improving with their new Mayfair distribution of Intrigue and Weinhandler. Uberplay meanwhile mostly dropped off the face of the Earth when they started their new game-party business.
  • The most exciting new company entry is What's Your Game. They've only put out 3 games thus far, and every one made my list in the top 25. Wow. On the other hand, they're all reprints.
  • Asmodee is the other notable new-comer, with their new push on American games producing good results.
  • Alea continues with their uninspired performance of late, making just one entrant into my top 25 and no top 10 games for the second year running.
  • Of the American companies, Fantasy Flight is doing even better than last year and Z-Man is trending upward as I predicted. Mayfair also seems to be trending up, I think thanks to their new publication deals with Phalanx and Amigo. Rio Grande continues to be the top jobber on our side of the pond, despite any concerns about their self-publications.
And that's it for another year in gaming!

We've also recently reached our yearly anniversary here at Gone Gaming, and I've been getting a bit burned out on the weekly schedule. Thus with this article I'll be dropping back to biweekly and (I expect) concentrating a bit more on Views & Reviews.

So I'll see you all in 14!

3 comments:

MWChapel said...

Wow, you and I are like day and night when it comes to game rankings.

Shannon Appelcline said...

You really liked Pepper and Beetlez?

In any case, that's why I listed my general preferences, because I know any personal list is innately personal.

SparcMan said...

You should try Empire Builder or British Rails. Old games, but very fun.