Roughly once a year I force rank the games published in a particular year that I have played, which I find to be an interesting exercise. Here's the list for 2012 games. This time expansions are mixed in. Previously I kept them separate because my eagerness to play an expansion usually corresponds to my eagerness to play the base game itself. So the ranking of an expansion does not really provide additional information. It would be better to compare the base game (usually published in an earlier year) with other games published in the same year. I'm doing it differently this time because sometimes I am more keen, or less keen to play a game's expansion.
- Android: Netrunner - I only have the base game plus 3 expansions from the first expansion cycle, and there is already a lot to explore. I have not played that many games yet. I enjoy the games so far and I feel there is a lot more to learn. I think I will enjoy it even more when I learn to play better. This can be a lifestyle game, i.e. a gamer can play just this one game, like Magic: The Gathering, or competitive Scrabble, or Chess. I can't imagine myself playing just one game, but I'd like to spend more time on this game.
- The Great Zimbabwe - Very interactive Splotter game, which is best when all players know what they are doing - how to prevent runaway leaders, how to adjust the pace of the game, how to neutralise opponents' special abilities. Some strong plays need multiple other players to work together to counter, so the game shines when there is a high level of familiarity among the players.
- Clash of Cultures - a well-implemented civ game.
The Great Zimbabwe
Clash of Cultures
Happy to play
- Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island - A punishing and rich cooperative game that has a lot of variety.
- Star Wars: X-Wing - A fun romp. Clean and quick dogfighting system. Pew pew pew!
- Shinobi: War of Clans - A clever card game where you need to hide your identity while secretly trying to help your faction win. Players need to carefully maintain some balance, because if your faction appears too strong, it will soon get cut down. There is also a timing aspect to it. If your faction can get a boost at the right time near the end, it will win even if it becomes obvious who you are working for.
- Mage Knight Board Game: The Lost Legion (expansion) - More variety for the base game.
- 1989: Dawn of Freedom - Similar to but different enough from Twilight Struggle.
- Fleet - A pleasant surprise. A quick card game where you need to make the most of special abilities you buy.
- CO2 - A tight game where you need to watch out not to set up good moves for your opponents, and yet sometimes it's hard not to.
- Ticket To Ride: The Heart of Africa - A map that is tough because of how the route colours are distributed, or rather, clumped. Variety is always good when you enjoy the Ticket To Ride system.
- Dominant Species: The Card Game - Not much like Dominant Species. Cards are precious and you need to pick when to fight and decide how hard to fight. Sometimes you need to know when to concede. It has brinkmanship, and even some player-negotiated cooperation if that's how you choose to play.
- Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar - A "plan a few turns ahead" game. I didn't expect to like it because of the "worker placement" label, but it turned out that I enjoyed it more than I expected, even though it is a worker placement game.
- Ascension: Immortal Heroes (expansion) - I am playing all the available expansions on the iPhone almost every day. I have 5 ongoing games at all times. Since playing this is so convenient on the iPhone, I have zero urge to play a physical copy.
Shinobi: War of Clans
Dominant Species: The Card Game
- VivaJava: The Coffee Game - A game where you need to compete and cooperate at the same time. Pulling coffee beans out of the bag is exciting and has that gambling feeling. Best with a big group.
- Kemet - Part of the new generation of dudes-on-a-map games, like Cyclades. It has a Euro core, like Cyclades. While Cyclades is driven by auctions, which decide what you can do in a round, and thus require that you don't neglect making money, Kemet is driven by special ability tiles, which customise your nation, and also a limited action type mechanism.
- Edo - It has an interesting action selection mechanism. There is area majority competition on the board. Most memorable part is the aspect where when you send your samurai onto the board to do your work, you need to have either stockpiled enough rice to pay for their expenses, or you need to keep producing rice to keep them on the board.
- Escape: The Curse of the Temple - I have only played this in a family setting, and never with the full rules. We only used a simple timer and not the soundtrack, so we didn't need to return to the starting point at specific times.
- Sunrise City - Quite tactical. Most memorable is the scoring system - you are always trying to precisely hit the 10pt mark when you score points, because when you do so, you earn two stars instead of one (stars determine victory at game end, so they are the real victory points). Sometimes you "help" others score points to push them over the 10pt mark.
- Seasons - Dice game with card drafting. All about planning for the best use of your cards.
- Town Center - Burnt out on the solo game because I feel I have solved the puzzle. I'd be more willing to play non-solo games.
VivaJava: The Coffee Game
Rather Not Play
- For The Win - Perfect-information, abstract 2P game, a little like Hive.
- Zombie! Run for Your Lives! - Light card game with a lot of getting your friends killed by zombies.
Zombie! Run for Your Lives!
Keen to play
Here are some of the games published in 2012 that I know of or have heard of, but have not tried. Looking at this long list, I think I am no longer at the forefront of the gaming hobby. I don't mind though. I'm happy enough to just try a handful of newer games every year, as long as I have enough good games to play.
- Terra Mystica - A hot game with a lot of good buzz, and now an award winner too.
- Lords of Waterdeep - I have not read much about it. It seems to be just a regular worker placement game with a fantasy setting.
- Mage Wars
- Star Wars: The Card Game
- Mice and Mystics
- D-Day Dice - Allen has it.
- Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
- Love Letter - I wonder how much game there is to it. It's only 16 cards.
- Rex: Final Days of the Empire - I have played Dune once. It was good.
- Legends of Andor
- Virgin Queen - Allen has this.
- Archipelago - I have been following this game a fair bit. A game about exploring and development. One aspect that detractors don't like is how a losing player can force everyone to lose by letting the game devolve into a rebellion. I guess this depends on the group you play with.
- 7 Wonders: Cities (expansion)
- Wiz-War (8th edition)
- Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery
- Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
- Dominion: Dark Ages (expansion)
- The Manhattan Project
- Space Cadets
- Andean Abyss - Allen has this too. Seems interesting, but probably needs four players.
- Myrmes - Some said it's a little like Antiquity. That got my attention.
- Merchant of Venus (second edition)
- Samurai Battles
- 1812: The Invasion of Canada - Sounds like an innovative Euro-ish war game in the vein of Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan.
- Tokaido - Very pretty.
- Coup: City State
- Star Trek: Catan
- Goblins Inc
- Galaxy Trucker: Another Big Expansion - I'm no longer buying expansions because I don't play Galaxy Trucker often enough nowadays.
- Antike Duellum
- Atlantis Rising
- Crown of Roses Allen has this. A multiplayer block wargame.
- Targi - Some interest. It can be a spouse game.
- Pax Porfiriana
- Chicken Caesar
- Alien Frontiers: Factions (expansion)
- The Palaces of Carrara - Interested to try this.
- Aeroplanes: Aviation Ascendant - Martin Wallace design. Seems much less well received than Automobile.
- Las Vegas - Heard good things about this one.
- Le Havre: The Inland Port - I need to play Le Havre more.
- The Ladies of Troyes (expansion)
- Doctor Who: The Card Game
- Axis & Allies 1941
- The Convoy
- P.I. - Martin Wallace design. But I prefer his heavier games and not the lighter ones.
- Samurai Sword (the Bang-like game, not Samurai Swords / Ikusa / Shogun)
- Kingdom of Solomon
- Garden Dice
- New Amsterdam - Heard good things.
- Starship Merchants
- Zooloretto: The Dice Game
- Qin - Reiner Knizia design. Interested to try.
- Ruhrschifffahrt 1769-1890
- Legacy: Gears of Time - I followed this for a while some time ago.
- Zong Shi
- Tooth & Nail: Factions - Allen has it. Read rules. Still have not played. Forgot rules.
- Nightfall: The Coldest War (expansion)
- The Doge Ship
- Flowerfall - A game about dropping cards onto the table. How's that for unconventional?
- Mondo Sapiens - I remember Mondo fondly, a real-time game of constructing your own world from tiles where you want to make sure the tile edges match. Mondo Sapiens is a standalone variant game.
- Keltis: Das Würfelspiel
- Rondo - Reiner Knizia abstract game. Interested to try after reading about it in Spielbox magazine.