I wasn’t originally planning on writing a year in review or top list from 2010, but looking back there were a lot of great (and not-so-great) games that game out over the past year. Here’s a fairly random list of my thoughts on gaming in 2010:
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* Fantasy Flight Games – What a year for Fantasy Flight. They started off big with their release of Runewars, which is currently my favorite game. That alone would have been enough to make me happy, but they also managed to come out with Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game, Dungeonquest, Space Hulk: Death Angel, Battles of Westeros and they just squeaked out the new Battlestar Galactica expansion at the end of the year. And those are just the games I was interested in! I’m not entirely sure how they plan on topping themselves in 2011.
* Surprises – It’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised and a few games turned out far better than I expected. First was Nuns on the Run, a great hidden movement game that I had passed over until playing at a friend’s house; now it has found a place in my collection. Next is Armorica, a tiny little card game that holds a surprising amount of fun. The rules are really poor but we think we figured out how to play and I was really amazed at how simple yet fun it is. At only $12 retail it’s very easy to recommend. Finally, I was happy to discover that 7 Wonders was worthy of its hype. It’s a fast, easy card game that scales well from three to seven players which is something you rarely see.
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* Disappointments – My biggest disappointment was probably Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft. It’s not a bad game and I do enjoy it but I think it doesn’t live up to its potential. The event cards work well as a balancing cooperative game mechanic but thematically they don’t make much sense. It is very much a cooperative game over a dungeon crawler and I was hoping for the latter. Fans have done work to create alternate rules that I’ve been meaning to try out but haven’t had the motivation to table it up again. Oddly enough I’m still very interested in Wrath of Ashardalon because I think this game system has an incredible amount of potential.
Next disappointment was Wars of the Roses: Lancaster vs. York. At first glance it looked like a really interesting war/area control game with gorgeous components. What I discovered was essentially a souped-up version of Revolution: an extremely chaotic hidden action mechanism that felt like a crapshoot while playing. I think I may actually enjoy the game a little more on future plays but this is a great example of having completely different expectations going in and coming out very disappointed.
* What I Missed – Even with everything I managed to play this year there were still plenty of games I didn’t get around to! I think the game I’m most interested in is Navegador, Mac Gerdts’ next entry in his rondel series. Merchants & Marauders may be the pirate game I’ve been looking for but it hasn’t made its way into our group collection yet. I’m not entirely sure why but for some reason I keep finding myself drawn to Constantinopolis, even though it doesn’t look to bring much new to the table; it may simply be that Fantasy Flight published it! Mystery Express looks like it could be a playable version of Mystery at the Abbey and on the war game front I’d love to try out Commands & Colors: Napoleonics and Washington’s War.
Happy New Year everyone! I look forward to what cardboard 2011 brings to the table.