Saturday 22 December 2012

revisiting the 2010 games eagerness ranking

At the end of 2011, I force-ranked all games I had played which were published in 2010. This is something I now try to do every year. I also revisit the ranking of the previous year, to see whether it has changed, and whether some games need to be added. Here's the updated 2010 games eagerness-to-play ranking, with changes underlined and in italics.

    Keen to play

  1. Innovation - I'm getting comfortable with this game. The expansion Echoes of the Past adds some interesting elements, but I am quite happy with the base game and am in no hurry to expand it. Allen has bought the expansion and we have played a few times.
  2. Merchants & Marauders - The game feels very open, much like the PC game Sid Meier's Pirates. I prefer to play to a higher number of Glory points than the standard game. It gives a fuller experience.
  3. First Train to Nuremberg - I think I am going to break down and buy this. Managing the game components is a little tedious, but I like how the game requires careful planning, and there is a certain story arc to it, where you try to earn fast money and then eventually you need to plan to sell off your rail network to suckers. I have bought a copy now, but have only played this copy once. What's wrong with me...
  4. Axis & Allies Europe 1940 - I actually have not played this game even once, so I'm keen to play it. I've only played Axis & Allies Global 1940, which combines the Europe 1940 and Pacific 1940 games. It feels a bit too long for the enjoyment I get out of it, so I suspect I will like the theatre-specific games being played by themselves. I have now played this, but only against a weak AI. This game was in the top spot last year, so it has fallen a bit, but I'm still keen to play. I am now playing my second Global 1940 game against a human (by PBEM).

    Axis & Allies Europe 1940. I really need to play this.

    First Train to Nuremberg

    Happy to play

  5. 7 Wonders - There is luck. There is set collection. There is no particular innovation. There is a mesh of familiar mechanisms. But somehow this game is a lot of fun. It's an adjustable-depth game - you can think a lot and plan a lot and calculate a lot, but you can also play by gut feel (and still win). Dropped from Keen To Play to Happy To Play.
  6. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer - Low interest in trying deck-building games. Newly inserted. I have played this many times on iOS and truly enjoyed it. It plays briskly, and is suitable for asynchronous play. There must be some special recipe in this game and not just the slick implementation making me enjoy it so much. Maybe the designers slipped some ganja in.
  7. Earth Reborn - Interesting scenarios and rich story. I have only done half of the learning scenarios, so I don't know the full game yet. It has been so long since my last play that I will need to relearn the rules and start the scenarios from the beginning again.
  8. Inca Empire - Network building, blocking, and playing good and bad event cards that always affect two players.
  9. Alien Frontiers - Complexity level feels like The Settlers of Catan. You develop and colonise. An impressive effort from a new designer and publisher team. Starting to miss this a little.
  10. K2 Newly inserted. This was a pleasant surprise. Very thematic. Mid-weight.
  11. Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game - Lots of civ elements, which is fun. But this game is a sprint and not a marathon. In the early game you can explore various paths, but by around mid game you'll need to decide on which victory condition to go for, maybe with one back-up plan if Plan A doesn't work out. You don't really experience the rise-and-fall feeling like in Civilization and Through the Ages. But still, a pretty good game. Dropped slightly, but is still in the same category.
  12. Gosu - I had some interest in this, but it sounds quite confrontational so I doubt my wife will be willing to play. Newly inserted. Played at BGA. Interesting card game with simple base rules, good variety in card special powers and interesting combos.
  13. 51st State - Not much player interaction, but I like how you need to constantly plan for replacing cards already played because the points-generating cards have limited capacity and quickly get used up. Dropped slightly, but still in the same category.
  14. Haggis - Climbing card game (like Big Two) that works with 2 or 3. I have only played with 2. Surprisingly that session was very funny. Learning the tricks and exploring the strategies in the game were fun.
  15. Washington's War - Relatively quick CDG.
  16. Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001-? - Long game. Hard decisions. Long-term planning and patience is required to achieve anything significant. The two sides are very asymmetrical. Actions are completely different, it's not just about having different strengths and weaknesses.

    51st State


  17. Forbidden Island - I'm content with Pandemic and don't really need a similar but more family-friendly game. Newly inserted. I still don't feel I need to own a copy because I already have Pandemic, but it is quite well-designed, and the tension does build up. Easier than Pandemic, but not too easy.
  18. Famiglia Newly inserted. Enjoyable and tricky two-player-only card game. There seems to be a flaw where under certain conditions one player can easily strangle his opponent and the opponent can't do anything about it. I read about it but did not manage to prove it in practice before I forgot how it was supposed to work. That's probably a good thing. I can play ignorantly and blissfully the next time I play this game.
  19. Dragonheart Newly inserted. Played at BGA. Simple two-player card game with some bluffing, double-guessing, push-your-luck, and hand management. Good filler.
  20. Merchants of the Middle Ages (I played Die Handler, the earlier version) - Requires negotiation and cooperation. Overall a well-crafted game.
  21. Evolution: The Origin of Species - The formula of focusing on one super specie seems the best strategy. If I'm right about this then the game becomes rather one-dimensional strategy-wise. This is a light card game, the fun being in creating species with interesting combinations of abilities, the ongoing struggle between hunter and prey, and the game of survival when food is scarce. Dropped a category. I still have the nagging feeling that the quality over quantity approach, a.k.a. super specie is the single best strategy.
  22. Dominant Species - The big hit which was not as big a hit for me personally. The game is interesting, there are big moves to be made and devastating disasters to try to survive through. The area majority mechanism is not quite my thing.
  23. Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead - More an experience game than a strategy game, but it's fun to try to survive a zombie apocalypse and to direct your nation at a strategic level. Dropped a category. I suspect the novelty will have worn off the next time I play.
  24. Wars of the Roses: Lancaster vs. York - Good implementation of managing loyalties and betrayals. There's double guessing but I didn't mind it too much here. Deciding whether to be defensive (cheap, but you may be wasting your money) or offensive (expensive, and it's hard for your victim to protect everything, but if you fail, you will waste a lot of money) is interesting. You need to pick where to fight and where to concede. But there's area majority too.
  25. Nuns on the Run - Fun and exciting to play a novice. I have not played the nun side yet.
  26. Navegador - The key seems to be to focus on areas with least competition. Admittedly I have only played two games and there is much space for improvement for my tactics and strategies. I get a feeling I've seen most of what's there to be seen, and the urge to dig deeper is low. This has risen a little. I think the game is well balanced, and player interaction is high. You need to watch what your opponents are doing.
  27. Commands & Colors: Napoleonics - I never was a big fan of the Commands & Colors series (Memoir '44, Battlelore, Commands & Colors: Ancients). Don't quite like the cards restricting flank thing.
  28. Catacombs - I enjoy it for the novelty.
  29. London - Quirky card game that I couldn't quite grasp. I guess I can't really conclude until I try again and understand it better.
  30. Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game - Easy to learn cooperative dungeon crawl game without the need for a dungeon master. I'm not a particular fan of the fantasy / role-playing genre, so the theme dosen't do much for me.
  31. The Great Fire of London 1666 - Interesting enough theme, and mechanisms do match the theme, but the mechanisms aren't very interesting to me.
  32. Troyes - Feels familiar, a little "been there, done that". And this is despite the not-seen-before dice mechanism.

    Wars of the Roses: Lancaster vs. York . Hmm... who among my opponents' followers should I bribe? Which city should I attack?

    Rather not play

  33. 20th Century - I like the positive message of reducing garbage and pollution. I feel like I've seen most of what's there to be seen.
  34. Horus Heresy - I feel quite restricted in what I can do and how much I can move my troops or get them to fight. The game tells a great story though.
  35. Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game - Not knowing your mission until you reach the last room rubs me the wrong way. Feels like I'm just trying to passively survive and last until the last room, as opposed to going in with an objective and a plan. Dropped a category.
  36. Tikal II: The Lost Temple - Feels like too many paths to victory that don't quite mesh together thematically. Game is very attractive and production quality is superb.
  37. Grimoire - I didn't like the double-guessing.
  38. Irondale - I didn't find this construct-buildings-in-a-grid card game interesting.
  39. Resident Evil Deck Building Game - It didn't feel very different from Dominion, so my interest is low.
  40. Leaping Lemmings - Rules and gameplay require more effort than the light theme suggests.
  41. The Speicherstadt - One nifty mechanism wrapped around an uninteresting game.


These are not ranked. Just a simple list of what I've played among expansions released in 2010.

  1. Dominion: Prosperity - Played on the computer. I like this expansion which expands the strategic possibilities.
  2. Dominion: Alchemy - Also played on the computer. This is just OK. Going for cards requiring potions feels like a "Do or Do Not" thing (Yoda), so going down that path feels like taking a different route, as opposed to the base strategies being expanded.
  3. Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War - I'm a big fan of Race for the Galaxy. I enjoy the additional scope, but the deck is getting rather unwieldy.
  4. Power Grid: Russia & Japan - More variety for Power Grid.
  5. Agricola: Gamers' Deck - I like that the cards are not crazy and are not just a novelty. They feel like they are well thought out and well balanced. Subtle.
  6. Hansa Teutonica: East Expansion - I think I have only played it once, Allen's copy. I don't feel I have played the base game enough, so I have not decided to buy the expansion. I find that I feel this way about many expansions. I have not played the base game enough, so even if I like the base game a lot, I feel no urgency to buy the expansion. E.g. Innovation and Echoes of the Past, 51st State and The New Era. Well, The New Era is technically a standalone game, a kind of 51st State v2.0, but I'm enjoying v1.0 well enough and don't love it that much to want to spend money to replace it with v2.0.

Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War. We call the 1 Prestige "cherry" and the 5 Prestige "flower".

Not Played

When I browsed to do this section, I was quite shocked that there were so many games published in 2010. This list is by no means complete. It's just some of the better known games that I have heard of.

  1. Runewars
  2. Dixit 2 - I have played Dixit. It's fun and lets you be creative.
  3. Cosmic Encounter: Cosmic Incursion
  4. Battlestar Galactica: Exodus Expansion
  5. Fresco
  6. Defenders of the Realm - Low interest. Some say it's Pandemic with a fantasy setting.
  7. Vinhos
  8. Age of Industry - I'm content with Brass.
  9. Glen More - Some interest to try.
  10. Battles of Westeros
  11. Luna - Low interest, because most Stefan Feld games don't click with me.
  12. Mr. Jack Pocket
  13. Julius Caesar
  14. Lords of Vegas
  15. Founding Fathers
  16. Puzzle Strike
  17. Merkator - Uwe Rosenberg game, but it seems to be doing poorly compared to Agricola and Le Havre.
  18. Rattus
  19. De Vulgari Eloquentia - Allen has it and I have read the rules. Still in the (long) queue to be played. Gosh we STILL have not played this!
  20. Conflict of Heroes: Price of Honour - Poland 1939 - Sometimes I am tempted to try war games, but I never work up the courage.
  21. High Frontier
  22. Asara - I like many Wolfgang Kramer designs. In recent years my gaming tastes have shifted to heavier games, so his new releases don't interest me as much as before, but I still like many of his classics, especially The Princes of Florence.
  23. Onirim
  24. Samarkand: Routes to Riches - If this is similar to Chicago Express, low interest.
  25. Settlers of America: Trails to Rails
  26. Invasion from Outer Space: The Martian Game
  27. Key Market
  28. Constantinopolis
  29. Poseidon - I enjoy the complexity of 18XX games, so if this is 18XX simplified, low interest.
  30. The Rivals for Catan - I have the older Catan card game, which I have not played for a very long time.
  31. Magnum Sal
  32. Hanabi & Ikebana
  33. Grand Cru
  34. Norenberc
  35. Isla Dorada - I think Bruno Faidutti is a wonderful guy - good presence on the internet, friendly and responsive; but somehow his games don't click with me. But I like Castle, which is much less famous than Citadels.
  36. Olympus
  37. Mystery Express
  38. Dust Tactics
  39. Mousquetaires du Roy
  40. The Mines of Zavandor
  41. Antics! - Limited print run, so this is hard to buy. It sounds interesting.
  42. Wok Star - Interested to try this real-time cooperative game.
  43. Sun, Sea & Sand
  44. Keltis: Das Orakel - They say it's the most strategic of the Keltis family, but I don't play the others enough to justify getting this.
  45. Black Friday
  46. Mord im Arosa - You need to listen to cubes falling and guess where they land. Interested to at least try.
  47. Junta: Viva el Presidente! - Interested to try. You get to negotiate, beg, bluff, threaten and lie.
  48. 1880: China - I only recently dipped my toes into 18XX games, but this one sounds daunting. Not so soon I think.
  49. Prêt-à-Porter - The English version is published this year and it seems to be doing well. Interested to try.
  50. The Hobbit - Reiner Knizia cooperative game. Similar to Wolfgang Kramer games, nowadays I tend to be less interested in Reiner Knizia's new games, despite still enjoying many of his older games.
  51. Show Business - I followed this game a little because it has rock stars.


blownfreaks said...

Got the following games:
Sid Meier's Civilization expansion, Cities and Olympos and Show Manager... let's schedule some time to play it all... :P

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

You still have so many games that we have not played. I'm interested to try Cities too. This is the tile laying game right? The one in a small mostly-yellow box?

I've played Show Manager before and it's quite good. The style is those elegant Eurogames of the 90's.

blownfreaks said...

Yup the tile laying game. Maybe when Han is back we can pick up the momentum... :P

Dee W said...

You should be playing The New Era instead of 51st State. It's sold as an expansion but really, it's a standalone game that fixes a lot of problems with 51st State. Player interaction becomes a key feature of the game and the components are an upgrade.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

I enjoy 51st State, but am not a big enough fan to want to replace it with The New Era, although I hear that it's basically an improved version of 51st State. I'm happy enough with 51st State at the moment.

Dee W said...

The reason I am pushing The New Era is that it's the best board game I've ever played bar none. So if price is the issue, let me know how I can send you a copy!

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Thank you very much for the kind offer. Price is not the issue. Time is the issue. :-) I haven't been playing 51st State often lately, so if I get The New Era it will probably be under utilised.

BGG ID: dtroy_de_rapcore said...

I hope Trajan or Burgundy (more towards Trajan) by Stefan Feld will make you change your mind on his games. :)

Plus, with 5 brand new games announced coming from him this year, that does mean something :P

Anyway, I owned Magnum Sal. Maybe if we ever meet at OTK, I'll bring it to introduce it to you (as well as Trajan).


Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

I don't mind trying out Feld's games, just that I don't actively seek them out. There are some that I do quite like - In the Year of the Dragon, Notre Dame. Castles of Burgundy sounds like something that may click. However it will take quite a number of games to reverse my reservation about Feld games. :-)