Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Ten Board Games of 2011

So it has been a while since I have .posted anything because our computer died, and we just got a replacement.   With the year almost over it is time for my favorite blogs of the year, the end of the year lists. 

This year I played 34 games published in 2011.   Several of them were good, but I also played a couple of games that came out this year that were among the worse I have played period.  What follows are the top ten games I have played that were released in the year 2011, of course they are in descending order for dramatic effect.  

Objectively speaking, this is probably not the tenth best game from this year that I have played.  The game is fairly simple, and it may have some limited replayability.  However, it is a war game that Abigail will happily play.  As the title implies the game simulates the 1861 battle of Bull Run.  One player controls the union and the other controls the rebels. This game has an unique die system, where at the beginning of a turn the player rolls dice and the numbers rolled determines what actions can be taken.  The combat is also a bit of a dice fest, and even though it is abstract the game capture the feel of a Civil War battle. Since September or so we have played the game three times, and I am fairly sure it will get several more plays.  

This is one of three games on this list that we do not (yet) own.  I have only had a chance to play the game once but I greatly enjoyed that play.   Belfort is a rather unique euro game that combines a couple of major mechanics found in other games.  At it's core the game is a worker placement game where players place workers in available spots that allow for specific actions.  What makes Belfort unique is what the actions are being used for.  Players use the actions to get resources to build buildings on the board.  When a building is built the player claims the location on the board.  Players will score points based on how much of one of the five areas they control.  This worker placement and area control mixture made for a neat game.  

Quarriors is a love it or hate it sort of game.  The best way to explain the game is to call it a deck building game with dice.  Players roll dice and use what is rolled to either buy new dice or summon creatures to defeat other player's creatures and score points.  A lot of people complain about the game having double luck, but luck is inherent to rolling six dice a turn.  As a light, quick game I find Quarriors a lot of fun because rolling a fistful of dice is good times.  

This is another game that we do not have.  Our main reason for not getting it is that King of Tokyo is not a good two player only game.  However, it is another game that proves that dice are fun.  In King of Tokyo each player is a city destroying monster. The goal is to be in Tokyo the longest and score points.  However, it is a giant game of king of the hill and the players will try to knock someone out of Tokyo.  All of this is primarily done using dice.  The game is a fun experience.  

Eminent Domain is a game that Abigail and I pre-ordered because it sounded like it would contain elements of two of our favorite games: Dominion and Race for the Galaxy.  Like Dominion, Eminent Domain is a deck building game, but it plays vastly different.  Eminent Domain is all about building a space empire of planets and technology and utilizing these elements to score points.  The game is fun and it is all about being very efficient. Despite liking it, I am very bad it and Abigail tends to win (which is probably why she likes it!)

Ninjato proves that everything is better with Ninjas.  Ninjato is a euro game that gives players a limited amount of actions each turn, so players have to decide what is the best use of their actions.  While some of the scoring is similar to another game we like (Stone Age), the heart of Ninjato is using ninjas to raid noble houses.  The game has a neat mechanic where the player has to decide if they want to sneak or fight guards.  If they sneak they have to play cards lower than the guard and if they sneak they have to go higher.  The whole game is fun with a great theme, and I like it because I happen to be listed in the rule book as a playtester.  

A Few Acres of Snow, which happens to be by the same person who made Test of Fire, is the second war game on the list.  A Few Acres of Snow is unique in that it has players build a deck, but the deck building is one element of the game.  The player play the British and French and fight for control of Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The game is very unique and kind of hard to describe briefly.  All of the mechanics work together really well, and best of all this is yet another war game that Abigail will willingly play (but she does not like wargames).  

Eclipse is the final game on the list that we do not have, and we probably will not just because the cost is so high  (MSRP of $99).   As far as design and play goes, this may be the best game that I have played this year.  The two games above it only get the nod because I have them and can play them more regularly.   Eclipse is a space empire game.  In fact it is even a 4X game.  4X games (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) tend to be long, complex affairs.  However, Eclipse is fairly simple to understand and all of the mechanics work so well.  In the game I played three people were all competitive for the win and we were all in the chase for the win.  Even better the whole game only took 2 1/2 hours.  I will gladly play Eclipse any chance I get. 

Earlier this year, I included Yomi on my list of top ten favorite games period.  It might still be there in the future because this is such a fun game.  Yomi simulates fighting video games in a way that works so well.  Each turn players pick either an attack, a throw, or a block/dodge.  Players reveal these cards simultaneously and who wins is determined by a paper rock scissors mechanic.  Combos and special moves are possible as well.  The game has 10 character and each character has a deck of cards that is completely unique and plays differently from the other characters.  The only reason why Yomi does not have a TON of plays by this point is because Abigail does not like it anywhere near as much as I do  

My favorite game from 2011 is easily this card game.  I absolutely love playing it.  Blood Bowl: Team Manager is an abstract fantasy(emphasis on fantasy) football game.  The players are not playing individual games but controlling a team over a season.  The players use their team cards to compete over highlight reels which give them bonuses like points, new players, and upgrades.  The unique theme, the dynamic card interactions, and the head to head play all make this a real winner for me.  Of the 34 games released in 2011 that I have played, this is easily my favorite.  


Blogger Wesley Shafer said...

Yomi needs to be in the eternal bag for drop-in's

9:30 PM  
Blogger ooogene said...

I was waiting for your Top 10 list. We share Ninjato & Eclipse. However, you are sadly mistaken in Blood Bowl Team Manager. :)

12:38 PM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Hi Sean,

I was making up a top ten myself for 2012 and I was snagging your picture of Ninjato to use for my blog (I start my year at Essen in November). You probably borrowed it as well. :)

Anyway, I was about to follow your blog but I'm not sure how to do that without some widget on the right side. If you added something, I'd follow. I'm a children's pastor myself, just finishing up my seminary education in Kansas City.

Well, blessings, and happy gaming!

10:33 AM  

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