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Amparo Bertram

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08:17 am: Top 10 games played in 2013
Since my game collection is going to expand in 2014, I would like to leave a snapshot of what I have experienced so far in the board gaming arena, hopefully to compare with new things I discover as I look forward to attending gaming conventions this summer. To that end, this is my current Top 10 list of games. The caveat here is that this only includes games that I A) personally own and B) have played in physical form. That means it excludes games such as 7 Wonders (which I played but don't own), Freedom: The Underground Railroad (which I own but haven't yet played), and Carcassonne (which I have only played in digital form).

10. Machi Koro
This is a Japanese game that was introduced to the board gaming world at the Essen convention in October. It wound up becoming a surprise hit. I couldn't attend the convention, of course, but I avidly followed numerous reports and reviews, and it seemed this would be a game I might find interesting. I managed to pick up a copy during my trip to Japan just before Christmas, and it turned out to be a light and fun dice game. It narrowly beats out Lords of Waterdeep and Takenoko on my list due to its advantage of portability.


9. Fresco
In this game, players manage a studio of artists who perform tasks such as buying paints and mixing pigments to obtain new colors, all toward the goal of painting the ceiling of a cathedral to earn points. What I love most about this game is that it plays to my obsession with color. It's also relatively simple to teach, and the expansion modules give it quite a bit of flexibility with regard to the game experience.


8. Forbidden Desert
In this cooperative game, players work together in an attempt to locate pieces of a flying machine hidden by shifting sands and put them together to escape the desert before the sun and storm winds bring them to an untimely end. I enjoy being able to work toward a common goal, and I also like the game components, which are fantastic quality for the price.


7. Citadels
This is an older game that still holds up well. Players select secret roles that allow them special abilities each round as they compete to build the most valuable city, represented by cards with delightful art. This game is wonderfully flexible with respect to number of players, able to handle anywhere from two to eight, and it is highly portable.


6. San Juan
This is the card game version of a classic Euro-style board game called Puerto Rico. It is currently out of print in English, but I managed to pick up a Japanese copy. In this game, each player selects a role that determines what actions all players may perform that round. One distinction of this game is that the cards act not only as buildings (as in Citadels) but also as the currency used to purchase the buildings, so players must weigh carefully how to use each card. This gives it an added layer of strategy that appeals to me.


5. Race for the Galaxy
This game is almost exactly the same as San Juan, except with a science fiction theme. The one other difference is that all players choose simultaneously from the total pool of roles each round (not just from whatever remains after previous players have chosen). I like that the role selection aspect gives each player more options than San Juan, so it has a slight edge in the ranking. I find this game exhilarating and highly addictive.


4. Eminent Domain
This takes Race for the Galaxy and turns it into a deck building game. It also adds little model fighter ships, which give the game a great tactile element. Due to the streamlined nature of the game and the simplified symbols compared to RftG, this one is easier to learn and therefore gets a slightly higher ranking.


3. Arctic Scavengers
In this deck building game, players are tribes in a post-apocalyptic frozen wasteland competing for supplies needed to survive. I like how well the art matches the theme. I also appreciate the tactical decisions players must make each round as they select which cards to use for their abilities and which to hold in reserve to skirmish over valuable supplies.


2. Dominion
By far my most played game of 2013, Dominion is widely considered to be the "granddaddy of deck builders" because it made the genre popular. Easy to teach even to non-gamers, it is quick to play and offers quite a bit of variation from game to game, particularly when expansions are taken into account.


1. Morels
My favorite game of the year, Morels is just brilliant. It has lovely art, simple rules, and a relaxing theme. It is a short game in which players are "walking" through a forest gathering mushrooms to fry up for a delightful meal (and of course points). It consists of a deck of cards and some cardboard tokens, so it is very portable, and though it is competitive as players vie for the same mushrooms, there are no attack cards. Despite the simplicity, it offers the opportunity for complex tactical decisions, making every game experience unique and exciting. I would no doubt play this a lot more if it weren't a 2-player-only game.


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From:finabair
Date:January 17th, 2014 03:50 am (UTC)
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Oh, these just make me want to find a good gaming group around here.

My niece stopped by a couple of nights ago and taught me Pandemic, which was fun with two people but looked like it'd be more fun with more.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 17th, 2014 04:46 am (UTC)
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Pandemic is an awesome game! I've been avoiding buying it because I find the theme hits a little too close to home for comfort. (Since I work at an international airport, if a global pandemic ever really does break out, I know I'll be on the front lines.) I got Forbidden Desert instead, which is made by the same designer. The sister game Forbidden Island is good, too.
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From:mangaroo
Date:January 17th, 2014 10:43 am (UTC)
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Interesting to see your reasons for preferring one game -- however slightly -- over another.

I don't think I could rank the games I've played this past year, especially because iPad/online versions of board and card games start to blur the lines for me. (I know you exempted them from your list, but the solo and online aspect is important to me.) So I'll just list my ten faves and hope I'm not forgetting something I loved just because I don't own it.

Pandemic, Dominion, Takenoko, Ascension (iOS version), Lords of Waterdeep (<4 players), Lost Cities, Forbidden Desert, Defenders of the Realm (of course I love fantasy-themed Pandemic!), Shadowrift (it's a love-hate relationship), and Love Letter.

But the game I most want to play with y'all this year is Shadows Over Camelot, in traitor mode.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 17th, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
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I don't think I could rank the games I've played this past year, especially because iPad/online versions of board and card games start to blur the lines for me.

I would make a separate list exclusively for digital versions. They have advantages (e.g. portability, soloability) that to me make it unfair to force physical games to compete on the same level with them.
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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:January 17th, 2014 01:01 pm (UTC)
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I love reading top ten lists, and I sort of want to make my own, but for me, replayability is a big factor, and there are too many games I've only played once or twice and don't feel I can properly judge them yet. If I were making a list, Pandemic, Dominion, 7 Wonders, and Alhambra would be on it for sure, but I'm not sure what else.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 17th, 2014 02:39 pm (UTC)
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there are too many games I've only played once or twice and don't feel I can properly judge them yet.

If I only included games I've played at least three times, it would be a very short list. ~_~ <looks at collection> Actually, I could scrape together a list of ten games, but barely. It would look like this:

10. Love Letter
9. Shadowrift
8. Biblios
7. Hanabi
6. Lords of Waterdeep
5. Takenoko
4. Eminent Domain
3. Arctic Scavengers
2. Dominion
1. Morels
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:January 17th, 2014 03:06 pm (UTC)
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It's true that I'm lucky to have people I play games with almost once a week (and we have pretty similar tastes, except Jim doesn't like Pandemic and I don't want to play "lying" games like Werewolf or Resistance--luckily there aren't enough of us for that to ever be a problem). But I have kind of the same feeling about naming books as favorites right after I've read them--I'm so fickle I feel like I need to wait a year or two and make sure I still love them. I get what you mean about the list being a snapshot, though; maybe I take making favorites lists too seriously.
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From:sara_tanaquil
Date:January 17th, 2014 02:31 pm (UTC)
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Definitely interesting to see which ones you had in your top ten. I should go look at your BGG page again to see the total list of all the things you've played, because I'm curious about the ones that got edged out that you didn't mention.

Like wednesday_10_00, I'm not sure if I've played enough rounds of the games I've tried to make a stable favorites list. I need to start making time for the gaming group on Thursday nights again. (So difficult to make myself go out on cold winter nights, sob.)

Pandemic and Dominion are at the top, of course. Hanabi (even though I'm so bad at it). Almost everything else is in the "still getting acquainted" phase.

wrenwyn has a really fun card game where you try to be the most unfortunate player in the game by piling misfortune on yourself and "good" fortune on everyone else. (It's very Edward Gorey-esque.) I should get that so we can play it together. I've forgotten the name, so will ask her the next time we get together.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 17th, 2014 02:54 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure if I've played enough rounds of the games I've tried to make a stable favorites list.

That's just it, though, it's not supposed to be a "stable" list. It's supposed to be a snapshot. I have a heap of unplayed games on my shelf and a bunch more preordered that should arrive within another month or so. That's the whole point of making a list now, to preserve my current feelings so I can compare with my preferences after playing all the new stuff later.

where you try to be the most unfortunate player in the game by piling misfortune on yourself and "good" fortune on everyone else.

Gloom?
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:January 17th, 2014 03:01 pm (UTC)
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Gloom: that's it! (I think there is more than one variation, too - wrenwyn has at least two, have to check to see which ones.)

I get what you mean about wanting a snapshot at this point in time, but at this point my list would almost have to be a list of games played rather than games ranked, because one play isn't usually enough for me to decide just how much I like a game. I'm too busy trying to remember what I'm supposed to do next to evaluate how X game plays compared to Y game.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 18th, 2014 02:25 am (UTC)
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I'm too busy trying to remember what I'm supposed to do next to evaluate how X game plays compared to Y game.

I don't quite follow. You don't rank them while you're playing them, you rank them after you're done and you think back on the experience. At that point, you don't have to worry about what to do next, because you're not actually playing anymore.
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From:sara_tanaquil
Date:January 18th, 2014 02:34 am (UTC)
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But, because I tend to be stressed out by the process *while* I'm playing, I don't form enough of a clear impression to be able to look back on afterward. A good example is Lords of Waterdeep. After our first group play of it, I wasn't sure I liked it much, but when I played it again at my local game store, I realized that I liked it much better than I realized. Likewise, I wasn't sure about Elder Sign (granted, we never finished our game) but liked it better after playing it again with wrenwyn and her husband.

About the most I can say after one play through of a game is whether I liked it well enough to want to try it again. I liked Morels quite a lot, for instance, while I was kind of meh after the first round of Alhambra -- but my impression of Alhambra could completely change on a second play-through. (Let us hope it does, since I ended up getting a limited edition copy through Kickstarter.)
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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:January 17th, 2014 02:56 pm (UTC)
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Sounds like Gloom. Meredith and Jim have that, so we could probably play it this summer...if we're not too busy with a million other games.

(I have mixed feelings about the rip-off Gorey art--as Meredith says, it's not like they could have commissioned him to do new art--but it's a fun game otherwise.)
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From:jojobruin
Date:January 19th, 2014 04:11 am (UTC)
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Here's my list: 1-10 Dominion!

Morels sounds really cool! I wish I could try it some time!
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From:megory
Date:January 21st, 2014 09:33 pm (UTC)
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I think Dominion is our favorite, too. So far I haven't met a game through S-vamp that I didn't enjoy..
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