Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Geekies

They've been threatening to do it for years - and it's finally happened: the first official BoardGameGeek Awards (aka - the Geekies.) And, yes, it's a stupid nickname, but it beats the heck out of calling them "the Derkies", right?

Anyway, voting is open to supporting members of the site or someone who's willing to plunk down 20 GeekGold (the currency of the site). Nominations are being taken in 6 categories over the next month, to be followed by voting using some method called "ranked pairs" in September. (The image I get when I hear that phrase is a pair of twin brothers who do LARP's and have trouble remembering to shower - but that's my problem.) The games nominated must be published in 2005 or 2006... and you can nominate games in more than one category.

I won't try & influence your vote - oh, who am I kidding? If I can sway some of you... ok, a couple of you... ok, one of you! - then my existence will be justified for the next fifteen minutes or so.

Here's the games I'm nominating:

Gamers' Game [1 slot left]

  • Antike - I liked my one playing of this thoughtful Civ-lite game.
  • Aqua Romana - A very good blending of Metro tile-laying & Traumfabrik scoring with enough "look-ahead" to give you some room to plan.
  • Beowulf - The Legend - Chris Farrell has convinced me.
  • China - I'm a huge fan of Web of Power... and was surprised at how the changes actually seem to work pretty well.
  • Cleopatra and the Society of Architects - Stunning production (probably the best this year) and interesting gameplay... I think this one will be respected more in 18 months than it is now.
  • Descent: Journeys in the Dark - I'm not sure which category to put this one in... it's not exactly a "family game" but I don't see it having a snowball's chance in a very warm place of winning this category, either. Still, it needs to be nominated & recognized.
  • Elasund: The First City of Catan - Simply put, Catan for people who've always wanted to be able to tear down the other guy's stuff.
  • Fury of Dracula - Excellent re-imagining of a classic GW game.
  • Nexus Ops - A Risk-like multiplayer wargame that doesn't actually encourage "turtling" (the practice of players amassing huge armies without attacking anyone else, waiting for somebody else to start the battle royale... in many of these games, the first person to attack will lose the game)
  • Palazzo - A very nice auction game that I think was unfairly overlooked.
  • Shadows over Camelot - It's losing a bit of the shine after 4-5 playings, but it is still a nifty semi-cooperative game concept with great production.
  • Thurn and Taxis - Winner of the German Game of the Year (Spiel des Jahres) for 2006... a gamer-y Ticket To Ride-ish romp with some nice moments.
  • Um Krone und Kragen - Short review... Magic: the Gathering with dice. The game Knights wanted to be.
  • Vegas Showdown - Take an American theme (Las Vegas casino building) and add elements from Amun-Re and The Princes of Florence... shake well and enjoy.

2 Player (Non-wargame) [6 slots left]

  • Attacktix Battle Figure Game (Star Wars) - Yeah, this is probably a stretch... it can be played multiplayer & it has the word "battle" in the title. But I just want to make sure someone takes note of this brilliant kids toy/game.
  • Descent: Journeys in the Dark - While I haven't played it 2 player, it would work just fine that way.
  • Elasund: The First City of Catan - Remember, this is Catan for people who want to be mean to each other... even if it's just the two of you.
  • Fjords - I'm not sure why I can see the way the pieces fit together easier than other people, but I can. A nice Carcassonne-ish tile-layer with a different (Nim-like) scoring system.
  • Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation: Deluxe Edition - The original game was great and the new version has niftier production & lots of added ways to play.
  • Pizza Box Football - Beer & pretzels football game that is ergonomically well-designed & loads of fun to play.
  • Travel Blokus - Blokus was unwieldy as a 2 player game - not any more. This works like a charm.
  • Um Krone und Kragen - M:tG w/dice, remember? Revs up nicely with 2 players.
  • Zig-Zag - A real-time memory racing game that will play with more players but is quite fun with just two.

Wargame [11 slots left]

Light/Party [5 slots left]

  • Ca$h'n Gun$ - A hoot of a game that's simple enough for non-gamers, esp. those who loved heist movies.
  • Diamant - It may take 2 minutes to explain the rules to this very simple push-your-luck game... and it will play with up to 8 people.
  • Du Balai - Probably a stretch for this category - but it works best with more players.
  • Maus nach Haus - Silly "let's get this party started" flicking game - supposedly for children but beloved by adults.
  • Nacht der Magier - Another "let's get this party started" game... added bonus: you can play it in the dark!
  • Parlay - Poker meets word game... fun ensues.
  • That's Life! - Dice game that is easier to teach while playing... and is at it's best with 5-6 players.
  • Tsuro - Like Metro, except that it only takes 10 minutes to play and wil play with 8 people.
  • You Must Be an Idiot! - The only trivia game on the list... best played with people who don't know you (if you're good at Trivial Pursuit).
  • Zig-Zag - Another stretch... but could work as a "let's get started" filler.

Kids' Game [7 slots left]

  • Attacktix Battle Figure Game (Star Wars) - Basically, I considered games for this category if my 5 year old son likes them... and Attacktix totally qualifies.
  • Cranium Bumparena - Well-designed pachinko-ish game that's cheaper than you'd expect for all the stuff you get in the box.
  • Du Balai - French memory/real-time/racing game that comes packaged in a box that looks like a book.
  • Giro Galoppo - A mean racing game with nice wooden bits from Selecta... was nominated for Kinderspiel SdJ 2006.
  • Hide & Seek Safari - An electronic version of the old game "Hot & Cold"... strangely addictive to small children.
  • Maus nach Haus - Who'd have thought you get this much game out of a wooden ring & 16 wooden mice?
  • Nacht der Magier - It glows in the dark - nuff said. (Also nominated for Kinderspiel SdJ 2006.)
  • Tier auf Tier - A stacking game for kids - stack wooden animals on the back of a wooden crocodile.

Family Game [0 slots left]

  • Aqua Romana - It has some meat on it... but is simple enough to teach your mom.
  • Ark - Great card placement game that needs player aids but is quite enjoyable to play.
  • Ca$h'n Gun$ - Well, it depends on your family, but it's light & funny & fast.
  • Clue DVD Game - For my money, the best implementation of Clue ever.
  • Control Nut! - A smart trick-taking game self-published by James Miller.
  • Diamant - Easy enough for kids, fun enough for adults.
  • Dragonriders - A botched up English rules translation, underweight pieces & provision for 6 players (when the game should be limited to 2-4 players) sadly have doomed this very good game to the compost heap. It deserves much better press than it's received. (Try weighting the bases with stick-on magnetic stuff... and check out the rules corrections on the Geek... this is a neat game!)
  • Ice Cream - Impossible to explain the rules to non-gamers... but they figure it out just fine after one round. Braeden can play and have fun with adults... and the adults have fun, too. A really nice design from my friend, Joe Huber.
  • Nottingham - I'd heard iffy responses to the newest Uwe Rosenberg game... but we had great fun with it at Gulf Games. As usual for Uwe, it's a card game that doesn't work quite like any other card game you've played.
  • Parlay - Let's review: Poker + word game = fun.
  • Pickomino - A simple dice game that non-gamers love... which has a lot more probability calculations in it than any of them realize.
  • Rum & Pirates - Another unfairly maligned game - needs to be played with a lightness of spirit & a willingness to risk. (Still, there are good tactical decisions to be made admist all the singing of "Yo Ho Yo Ho" and the incessant cry of "Arrgghh!")
  • That's Life! - Another push-your-luck dice game that is insanely easy to teach to new players.
  • Um Krone und Kragen - Great for husbands & wives... as you never get a roll you can't use in some way.
  • Vegas Showdown - It's a training game for meatier auction & tile placement games.

Chances are you disagreed with me on something... or have a suggestion for something I missed. Fire away - but just don't ask me to nominate Caylus... I haven't played it yet!


Anonymous said...

OK, Mark, that's impressive - on the three categories for which I nominated games (I skipped wargames, kids games, and light/party, since I didn't play enough in each category to vote), we agreed on just 8 games:

Gamers games - only Thurn & Taxis and Um Krone und Kragen in common.

2 player games - only Fjords in common.

Family games - closer here, with Ark, Control Nut!, Diamant, Pickomino, and That's Life!

Though, thinking about it, there's is some logic too it - our tastes tend to be closer on the light games in general. No idea why we're at such odds on 2 player games, though...

Rick said...

Mark, you may have missed Wits & Wagers. It's also a trivia game, with some wagering added in. I nominated it in the Party game and Family game categories.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...


I didn't skip any categories - since this is nominations, I wanted to make sure games I like had some chance of being represented. So, I just nominated less than a full slate.

This was not a great year for 2 player games...


I haven't played Wits & Wagers - it sounds fun, but I decided not to nominate something I hadn't played. (Though I was sorely tempted with Twilight Struggle, as it sounds like a wargame that I would enjoy AND one of the designers is a Gulf Gamer.)

Anonymous said...

I didn't skip any categories - since this is nominations, I wanted to make sure games I like had some chance of being represented. So, I just nominated less than a full slate.

Understood - I just like to be sure that I believe in the nomination first. And I don't play enough recent wargames, party games, or kids games that I am...

This was not a great year for 2 player games...

Now, see, I thought it was a very decent year for 2 player games. Not a great one, perhaps, but a good one...

huzonfirst said...

Mark: This was not a great year for 2 player games...

One reason for that judgement is that it seems you haven't had the chance to play two of the best: Aton and Roma. I can't imagine you not loving Aton, Mark, and Roma's very good too (hey, it's got dice!). Al Newman's Dynasties is well worth trying out as well.

However, I've decided to only nominate true 2-player games (it seems to me that should have been the intent of the award), so I only have those three plus Fjords. I could probably also sneak in Zig Zag, as many will only play that with two. Still, even with that limited list, it strikes me as a pretty good period for two-players.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...


I've watched Aton being played... and it just has no theme/feeling whatsoever. I guess I'm beginning to sour on the whole "let's move wooden pieces about to score points" type of games.

My gut feeling is that I want to be able to explain the game in terms of a theme - even if the theme isn't the strongest in the world.

Roma I haven't tried - I'll have to take a closer look at that.

My favorite "new" 2 player is actually 2-3 years old: Droles des Zebres by Bruno Cathala.

Anonymous said...

Roma I haven't tried - I'll have to take a closer look at that.

Yeah, you definitely should. After a fun initial play during which I was really concerned about the iconography, I ignored it - until Alan Moon mentioned it on his "best of 2005" list, and made a good argument for it. Trying it again, the iconography wasn't as bad as I thought. And both Ben & Ethan like it, which is handy.