Other Buzz: New to Me in 2011

Happy New Year!  It’s time for my annual reflection on the year that was.  Gaming-wise, 2011 was definitely an improvement over 2010, especially as we found a local game group to start attending on a regular basis (hooray for the Northwest Indiana Boardgamers Association).  I played a lot of games that were new to me, and here they are:

  • 7 Wonders (played 9 times) – What a great game.  Each time, I’m impressed by the variety of strategies that present themselves, the quickness of the game, and the great art.  I plan on talking about it more in the future.
  • 7 Wonders: Leaders (played 3 times) – I love the way this expansion helps the game by focusing a strategy early on.  One I need to get for myself.
  • Alhambra (played 1 time) – Yes, it took me this long to play this 2003 game.  It’s a tile laying game where you’re building up a garden.  Not terribly complex, would be a good one for introducing people to games.  I’d play again.
  • Australia (played 1 time) – Not a fan.  It’s dry and kind of boring, and the theme has no relation to the gameplay.  I’ve played much better area control games this year, and I’m not really interested in giving this one another try.
  • The Awful Green Things From Outer Space (played 1 time) – Mass chaos in an extremely unbalanced game.  It was kind of silly, and there are way too many tiny bits.  Still, a nice dumb diversion if you need one.
  • Back to the Future: The Card Game (played 2 times) – I’ve never played Chrononauts, so I can’t compare the two.  However, I do like this game more than Fluxx.  The BTTF theme was kind of slapped on and didn’t have much to do with the gameplay, but I liked it well enough.
  • Bargain Hunter (played 2 times) – A pretty good trick taking filler.  Another instance where the theme is completely irrelevant, but I did enjoy the mechanisms of declaring trump or not, trying to take certain numbers instead of suits, and being able to turn bad cards into good cards.
  • Belfort (played 1 time) – I did a review on this one.  It was a good worker placement game with a slight fantasy them.  I enjoyed it, would play again.
  • Blood Bowl: Team Manager (played 2 times) – I liked this one a lot, and plan on reviewing it sometime soon, hopefully after I play with fewer than 4 players.  I got my own copy from my Secret Santa.
  • Castle Panic (played 2 times) – A pretty lightweight cooperative game.  I enjoyed it – a good family way, and perhaps a stepping stone to something like Pandemic.  I played once multiplayer and once solitaire, and won both times.
  • Catacombs (played 1 game) – A dexterity based dungeon crawl.  Really fun.
  • Code 777 (played 1 time) – A good, if slightly confusing, deduction game.  If we didn’t mess up the rules, it might have gone over better.  I’d play again, but my wife really didn’t like it that much.
  • Crappy Birthday (played 1 time) – The best thing that can be said about this one is that it was short.  It was fun enough for a play, but there’s nearly no replay value for me – as funny as the cards were the first time, it would get very old the second time.
  • Crows (played 1 time) – Another game I reviewed and enjoyed.  I need to play it again.
  • Deadwood (played 1 time) – A western-themed worker placement game.  It was fine, just seemed a little too short for what it is.  Also, some of the spaces seemed overpowered.  But it was OK.
  • The Downfall of Pompeii (played 1 time) – I had played this one online at yucata.de, but this was my first face-to-face game.  It’s chaotic and really difficult to strategize, but it’s fun.  I like that there are two halves of the game – populate the city, then run screaming from the lava.
  • Dungeon Twister (played 1 time) – I like the concept better than the game, I think.  The maze part is fun, but I think it might be better if it wasn’t a race game.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game (played 1 time) – The only one of the D&D board games I’ve tried.  I liked it – a fun cooperative dungeon crawl with a nice AI controlling the monsters.  We won our game, but had to fight for it.
  • Endeavor (played 1 time) – Just talked about this one.  It’s fine, nothing too exciting.
  • Epigo (played 4 times) – Another game I reviewed.  I liked it a lot, I just need to play it more.  Great programmable abstract game.
  • Fearsome Floors (played 1 time) – Another game I was familiar with from the online implementation at yucata.de.  I think I like the face-to-face version better – the tactile feel of running through the dungeon and escaping Furunkulus is nice.
  • Gargon (played 1 time) – This card game is essentially a trick-taking game where you’re playing several cards at once, then battling to win cards.  It really comes down to getting the highest values in your suits.  I liked it…it’s a good quickie.
  • Gosu (played 1 time) – I covered this on the blog, but I didn’t feel like reviewing it after my one game.  I really enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t ever play it with four players again – waaaay too long.
  • El Grande (played 1 time) – This classic Eurogame is the grandfather of the area control genre, and I finally got to play it.  I liked it a lot – I played several area control games this year, and this one was definitely my favorite of them.
  • Greed (played 1 time) – Greed is a push-your-luck dice game that is absolutely NO FUN.  Unlike good PYL dice games (Can’t Stop, Zombie Dice, even Pass the Pigs), there’s no incentive to keep going past a certain point.  The worst new game I played this year.
  • Hab & Gut (played 1 time) – An interesting stock game where your “hand” is split and shared with your neighbors.  I’d definitely like to play it again sometime…not necessarily something for my collection, but still good.
  • Innovation (played 5 times) – I first learned this at Whosyercon in Indianapolis from John Richard of the Game On! podcast.  I just got my own copy from Secret Santa, and I think I might like it better than Carl Chudyk’s other title, Glory to Rome.  Expect a showdown between the two in the new year.
  • Living Labyrinth (played 1 time) – Some friends got this for their 5-year-old, and he loves it.  I played with him once.  It was fine for a 5-year-old – a nice confrontation puzzle to solve.  Too chaotic and repetitive for me.
  • Master of Rules (played 1 time) – A friend of mine got this from Scott Nicholson’s BGWS auction and gave it to me as a joke since I tend to be the rules lawyer.  Too bad the game’s kind of a dud.  I need to play with 5, but it was not good with 4.
  • Memoir ’44 (played 2 times) – After two scenarios, I definitely look forward to playing again.  I have also played BattleLore in the past, and I think I need to play them in close proximity to one another to get a better sense of which I like better.
  • Nexus Ops (played 1 time) – As science-fiction wargames go, this one was pretty good.  I’d gladly play again.  Fantasy Flight is reprinting this in 2012, and I’ll add my voice to the dismay that they’re not using the translucent neon pieces.  I am glad it’s getting a reprint, however.
  • Nuts! (played 1 time) – Beyond the juvenile humor, there’s not much to this one.  Not one I need to play again.
  • Oh Gnome You Don’t! (played 1 time) – I reviewed this one after my play at Whosyercon.  It a more complex version of Candyland.  A fine game that I hope catches on with nongamers.
  • Pick Picknic (played 2 times) – A push your luck game about eating chicken feed.  It’s very fun for a quick filler.
  • PitchCar (played 1 time) – To be fair, I probably didn’t get the full PitchCar experience since I only had a two-player game.  But if I’m going to play a racing game, I think I’d rather go with Formula D.  If I’m going to play a flicking game, I think I’d rather go with Catacombs.
  • Il Principe (played 1 time) – A boring theme combined with boring art and boring mechanics makes an incredibly boring game.  I understand we played a couple of things wrong.  I don’t care.  I’m done with this one.
  • Puzzle Strike (played 1 time) – Chip building!  I played a four-player game, and it was fine, but I think this will be a better two-player game – there’s too much downtime otherwise.  I need to play some more.
  • Quarriors! (played 2 times) – Dice rolling deck-building.  The first game seemed unbalanced, the second was better.  In any case, the whole thing seems too short.  That’s easy to fix, however.
  • Qwirkle (played 1 time) – First time playing this year’s SDJ winner.  I liked it a lot – very simple, high quality bits, and a game that is extremely accessible to a lot of people.  A worthy winner of the industry’s top prize (though I still would have voted for Forbidden Island).
  • Ra: The Dice Game (played 1 time) – I haven’t played regular Ra, but I understand this game has not much to do with it.  Typical Knizia useless theme and convoluted scoring that bugs the heck out of me.  I hear it’s better as a 2-player game – we played with 4.
  • Reef Encounter (played 1 time) – Beautiful game with extremely complicated scoring rules.  The actual placing and scoring of coral tiles is simple enough, but the dominance mechanism really makes things difficult.  I need to play more.
  • The Resistance (played 2 times) – A very fun social deduction game.  I like it better than Werewolf – no player elimination and much better structure.  I still need to play with the Plot Thickens cards.
  • Ringgz (played 2 times) – A friend of my wife’s aunt brought this game to Easter to see if I could help her learn it.  Very nice pieces in this simple abstract game.  It’s very easy to block yourself into a corner, so it’s important to plan ahead.  I liked it, and would play again.
  • Runebound 2nd Edition (played 0.5 times) – Last year’s Talisman debacle left a sour taste in my mouth for adventure games.  This one is fortunately better, but it’s still fairly luck based.  And with too many players, it is really long.  We didn’t get far into the second level before we had to quit.  Now that I know what’s going on, the next time might be better.
  • San Marco (played 1 time) – Not a bad area control game.  It’s a lot simpler and quicker than El Grande.  I enjoyed it.
  • Scrappers (played 1 time) – Got this for my wife’s cousin for his birthday.  It’s OK for what it is, though it’s apparently way too easy to end in a 4-way tie.
  • Summoner Wars (played 2 times) – A fun and simple battle game.  I’ve only played with the Phoenix Elves and Tundra Orcs so far – I need to play with more factions.
  • Survive: Escape From Atlantis! (played 1.5 times) – Learned this one at Whosyercon and reviewed it here.  An exciting push your luck/take that game with art that doesn’t appeal to me at all.
  • Tally Ho! (played 1 time) – Another one I first learned at yucata.de.  I got to play a physical copy at Whosyercon, and really liked it.  It’s extremely random, but I do like that each player gets to play both the animals and the hunters, and I like all the possibilities on the board.
  • Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization (played 1 time) – We only played the basic game, and I enjoyed it.  Four players has too much downtime, but I’d certainly be willing to play with less.  I’d be willing to play with four if I had a huge chunk of time carved out.
  • Thunderstone (played 2 times, once with Dragonspire) – We first tried this out at Whosyercon, and kind of muddled through the rules.  I played again with someone who knew what was going on, and with Dragonspire, and liked the experience better.  However, I still prefer Dominion.
  • Ticket to Ride: Alvin & Dexter (played 1 time) – Played with the basic TTR set.  I liked it OK, and reviewed it here.  It’s pretty harmless.
  • Ticket to Ride: Switzerland (played 1 time) – This was this first time for me on this popular map.  We had a three-player game, and it worked pretty well.
  • TransAmerica (played 2 times) – I had played TransEuropa before, and this is basically the same thing, but in the US.  It was also my first time playing the system without the Vexation expansion, and I much prefer using Vexation.
  • Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition (played 2 times) – I had never played Werewolf before.  I’ve now been initiated into the phenomenon.  It’s fine for a gaming experience, not something I’d want to play frequently.
  • Unpublished Prototypes (played 4 different titles) – This was the first year I’ve actually been involved in some playtesting.  Two of the titles were from Alan Ernstein, a member of our gaming group.  I liked both, though one still had some major kinks to be worked out.  The other two I had to sign non-disclosure agreements for, so that’s all I’ll say.
  • Urban Sprawl (played 1 time) – Played and reviewed.  I enjoyed it, and look forward to trying it again, hopefully after playing Dominant Species.
  • Valdora (played 1 time) – A light pick-up-and-deliver game from Michael Schacht.  It was fine, just lasted way longer than it needed to.
  • What’s Yours Like? (played 1 time) – A party game some friends wanted to play.  I’d be fine not playing again.
  • Wok Star (played 1 time) – Reviewed!  This is a very fun cooperative game, and I really hope Z-Man gets around to publishing it this year.
  • Zombie Dice (played 3 times) – Very light dice game.  It’s very fast, and pretty fun for what it is (a 5 minute diversion).
  • Zooloretto (played 1 time) – I had played Aquaretto before, but this was the first time with the Zoo.  I think I preferred Aquaretto, but I need to play both again to be sure.

Big year.  I actually played some games from 2011 this year.  I look forward to what the new year will bring – in fact, my next post will be about just that.  Thanks for reading!



  1. Now are the three times you played with the Leader expansion included in the 9 times you’ve played 7 Wonders?

    7 Wonders is certainly my most played game this year. It just took off with my group of friends. We even played it at the end of our New Year’s Eve party last night. Fitting I suppose. Such a great game.

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