Once again the year is over and it’s time for the year-end report. Here’s 2005 for comparison…
Good games published in 2006
Age of Steam: London and Sun, 1830’s Pennsylvania and Northern California — I’ve played one map from each of the Bézier expansions, and loved both. Interesting new concepts, excellent production quality — great stuff, great stuff. Too bad the London & Sun expansion is too big to fit in the box. Sun is fairly high on my list of stuff to play.
Blue Moon City — Last new game this year, but one of the better. Extends the Blue Moon theme well. After two games feels like a pretty good game, and one I think I simply have to buy (that’s getting rare these days).
Celtica — Excellent game. Simple, yet exciting and fun to play. The gorgeous art really helps it. Works well with two, but doesn’t get bad with more (but I wouldn’t necessarily play with five). Just don’t expect anything too deep. Not much control, but enough excitement (and it’s a short game in the end).
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation Deluxe — Content-wise an excellent addition to a good game. The new characters and cards spice up things nicely. Too bad the new edition comes in a such a huge box. I’d rather kept the game small and portable.
Masons — Best Colovini game, at least to me. I was initially fairly enthusiastic about this, but another game in Helcon made me drop the rating to seven (well, I did it now, but anyway). Nothing that exciting, but pretty solid family game nevertheless.
Memoir ’44: Pacific Theatre — More good stuff for Memoir ’44. I enjoyed the new material, the few Pacific scenarios I’ve played have been thoroughly enjoyable.
Nacht der Magier — Excellent fun in the dark, good in daylight, too. Strange fact: I live in Finland, where it can get pretty dark sometimes. In winter, we might not get any sunshine in weeks. Yet, in the darkest time of the year, in the middle of the night, our apartment simply isn’t dark enough to play this game! The bloody streetlights pour in. We obviously need some heavy curtains (we only have blinds in most of our windows), or then I have to play in the bath room.
Thurn und Taxis — Not bad, and definitely worth the BSW (though Blue Moon City would’ve been a good choice, too). Thanks to the BSW edition, I played 11 games of this, pretty swiftly. I had fun with it.
Viva Topo! — Just a game for children, yet so much fun with Johanna. Excellent game, and well-recommended for a fun little push-your-luck kind of dice-rolling filler. The cat is brutal!
Older games I tried for the first time and enjoyed
18VA — My first introduction to 18xx games. The bug is making rounds — I notice Chris Brook is showing the symptoms, and my friend Tommy is going completely bonkers with the rail games. Needless to say that I absolutely loved this. Abso-bloody-lutely. What a brilliant, brilliant game. I need more (but make it more games of 18VA, not more 18xx games)!
Fjords — Very subtle and humble little game, which I enjoyed nonetheless. Not anything to get excited about, but if I played more two-player games, I’d buy this and enjoy it for a while.
Halli Galli — Impulse purchase and an instant hit. I love this, but it’s no surprise, as I like many speed games a lot.
Hamsterrolle — Challenging and creative dexterity game. Wouldn’t mind getting a copy for myself, no, not at all…
Jambo — If you ask me, this is hands down the best game Rudiger Dorn has ever created. I’ve only played this twice, but I like it, and would very much like to play some more.
Rat Hot — Like Fjords, another small and pleasant two-player game. Here it’s the three-dimensional aspect that does the trick in the end. Nothing special, but (to repeat myself) if I played more two-player games, I would get this.
Tower of Babel — Another Knizia gem, like Blue Moon City. Simple, clever ideas, yet the game is engaging and fun. I like the way every player is involved on almost every round. This is definitely on my play more list.
Verflixxt! — I played the first game in Essen 2005, but this one belongs here. This turned out to be a big hit with Johanna — we played this more than anything else last year. Another successful light game from Kramer and Kiesling!
Games I’ve kept on enjoying
Age of Steam — With all the new expansions, Age of Steam is moving from a favourite game to a favourite game system. I haven’t played the basic map since, well, 2003 or so. I don’t miss it, at least as long as I have unplayed expansion maps… I just love the variety the expansions bring.
Antike — I like this, but it seems that others don’t. Even I don’t always fancy the end game, and if it turns out to be a problem, will reduce the victory conditions by one point… But I haven’t really had a chance to play the game enough, and besides, often when there are newbies present, an experienced player is able to sweep up loose victory points and win.
Antiquity — Just two games, but both were great fun. Antiquity is no longer a seriously long game — both times it was finished in just two hours (with two and four players, newbies included both times). A great game, and a definite keeper.
Attribute — Few pleasant sessions. Most notable Attribute feature in 2006 was the addition of the Finnish word set I created to BrettSpielWelt.
Blue Moon — One of the big hits of 2005, this was played a lot in 2006. Not that many sessions, but I played each people deck several times during those few sessions. I like it, it’s one of my favourite two-player games. Looking forward to the next 35 games!
Caylus — Didn’t disappear, but didn’t succeed a lot, either. The game is too long, or something, it just doesn’t come to me as something I’d suggest. I never play it at BrettSpielWelt, but seem to think that I don’t have to play it face-to-face, because the smooth online version exists… funny thing. I even considered getting rid of it. Shouldn’t be hard to find someone else’s copy to play, when I want to, right? Still, I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve played it.
Einfach Genial — Over 20 games played, and I can say I really learnt to enjoy the game. In the end, I gave it the highest recommendation on my Christmas game gift list, recommending it as the general number one best game on Finnish market, since it works with just about anybody. It’s just so, well, ingenious.
Indonesia — I got to play Indonesia few more times in 2006 — two, to be exact. I’d like to play more, but it’s always hard with these longer games. Still, Indonesia is a keeper — at least until I get to play it a lot more and find that it for some odd reason doesn’t work.
Memoir ’44 — I still love the system (and think about other games in the family). Not going anywhere. I’m thinking about preparing a Finnish set of cards one day, to make introducing this to my son easier… but I’ll have about ten years or so to think about it, so no rush.
Neuland — Finding a new copy of Neuland from an online retailer was one of the big surprises of 2006. I enjoyed doubling the amount of games played, but I’m sensing this is a tough one to sell to others.
San Juan — Almost 50 games played during 2006, and I continue loving this game. It’s so excellent, I upped the rating to 10. I love the game both on BrettSpielWelt and in the real world.
Trivial Pursuit, Mhing — Family favourites. It wasn’t the best year for Mhing, but I still think it’s a game for the rest of my life. We’ve enjoyed our new Trivial Pursuit set; I thought about getting the new 90’s edition, me and Johanna both being very much 90’s kids (in the sense of spending our teenage on that decade).
The not-so-good, the disappointing, the plain bad
California, Diabolo — I’m sensing a trend here: new Michael Schact game comes up, and I just don’t care. California was very ho-hum, as was Diabolo. Der Elefant was slightly better, but I’ll have to see if it has any real potential.
Crystal Code — Wasted potential. Like Ubongo, but worse. Now Ubongo is coming in Finnish this year, there’s no reason at all to get Crystal Code.
DVD Sudoku — Let’s just say that after playing this, I don’t think a) DVD board games work b) multi-player Sudoku board games work. Both concepts can probably be made to work, but this game didn’t do it.
Edel, Stein & Reich — Perhaps the most frustrating game last year. I lost just few actions too many for random guesswork. Blech.
Elasund — I enjoyed the two-player game, but with more — not so. Ended up selling the game, as the whole didn’t impress me much. But sure, I’d play another two-player game, if nothing better was available…
Nicht die Bohne — No beans, and no control either. Terrible game.
Shit! — The title of the game says it all.
VOC! — In my mind, Joris Wiersinga and Jeroen Doumen, the guys behind Splotter, are one of the most brilliant design teams in the world. Perhaps it is fitting that they’ve designed one of the worst games I played in 2006? This game had a single good idea (the blind drawing) combined with a wreck of a game that felt very, very pointless.
I bought a copy of the new edition Roads & Boats. It was expensive, and I don’t know when I’m going to actually play it, but I thought it was something I could regret later on. I do like the game — I played few play-by-web games, which were problematic because the system wasn’t quite finished, but they showed me some of the potential the game has.
Didn’t go to Essen this year, because of the baby and general lack of funds (and interest, too), and I won’t go in the next few years, either. Not a big deal. I haven’t played many of the new games, either, but I’m not troubled by it. It’s fine with me. I don’t have to play every new game. I kind of feel I’m getting healthier.
Marektoy gave me their whole children’s game selection to try out. I loved Viva Topo!, and found the other games interesting, at least for children’s games. Nothing else I’d play with Johanna or gamer buddies, though, but nothing I’d sell away, either. I trust there’ll be plenty of good games to play with Nooa, when he grows up a bit.
Had fun at events, attending FinDipCon and HelCon. I’m probably hitting both this year, as well, but that depends a bit… Anything else is a bonus. The baby has turned weekend events into one day events, instead of Friday to Sunday it’ll be Saturday-Sunday, but I don’t mind — you get to play the one heavy game and then something else, and that keeps me happy. Helcon had a brilliant raffle, where I won Um Reifenbreite — I was wishing for Canal Mania, but that’s life.
123 different games, which is nice. Perhaps too much, really — at some times the need to play new games felt like a lot of pressure, and I had strong cravings to play some familiar titles (of course, it’s best if you can combine, by playing a new expansion — say, a map of different sort, for example — for a favourite game). Still, I couldn’t give up reviewing new games, because it’s fun (also, selling review copies helps to fund buying new games and paying web site bills — something I hope a few poker site ads on my Texas Hold’em rules page will solve this year).
Total number of games played was 379, about the same as last year. The baby didn’t slow me down as much as I’d expected (and as a side note, I probably read more books after Nooa’s birth than I read in 2004 and 2005 combined).
Fives and dimes
These games I played ten times or more (the list is shorter but more intense than last year):
- San Juan (46)
- Blue Moon (28)
- Einfach Genial (24)
- Verflixxt (12)
- Thurn und Taxis (11)
These games I played 5-9 times:
- Puerto Rico (9)
- Halli Galli (9)
- Nacht der Magier (7)
- Trivial Pursuit (6)
- Dvonn (6)
- Attribute (6)
- Viva Topo! (6)
- Rat Hot (5)
- Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation Deluxe (5)
- Fjords (5)
- Caylus (5)
- Mhing (5)
- Zértz (5)
- Go (5)
- Celtica (5)
These lists include BrettSpielWelt games, but not Little Golem, Dragon Go Server or other play-by-web games (few games of Hacienda, but not much else).
San Juan, Verflixxt, Blue Moon, Einfach Genial and Trivial Pursuit were the only games that were really played several times during the year.
Huber Happiness Product
Biggest sources of games-related happiness in 2006 were San Juan, Einfach Genial, Puerto Rico, Blue Moon, Caylus, Indonesia, Antiquity and so on, that is the often played and the heavy games with more than one play. No surprises.