Last Season’s Hot Games: A Top Ten (or so) from Nurnberg 2006

Last year I posted a list of ten games worth watching from Nurnberg ’06. I’d been hoping to post some followup on all ten games to talk about what was good and what wasn’t, but it took forever for the Nurnberg games to actually hit the U.S. shores, and to date there’s still a few that I haven’t gotten to play.

But, before the next Nurnberg rolls around I wanted to post my notes on the 8 games that I had gotten to try out. So: Nurnberg 2006. Some of these games are a bit old by now, but they nonetheless represent some of the more interesting games of last year, and if you haven’t tried them out yet, here’s some more info.

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Nickels and Dimes: 2006

There are any number of ways to review games and say which are best. I regularly write gameplay reviews at RPGnet. Here on Gone Gaming, I’ve written previewsyearly lists, and more.

However ultimately I think one of the best guides of “what’s good” (or, at least, “what’s good for me”) is what gets played. No matter how beautiful and elegant a game is, if it never gets played because it’s ten hours long, it’s hard to count it as a good game. Hence the yearly “nickel and dime” lists where people talk about what games they’ve played at least five or ten times.

In past years my nickel and dime lists have been somewhat uninteresting. They tended to focus on the 2-player games that I played with my wife. Alas, my wife has largely stopped playing games this year, but on the upside my 5&10 list is a more accurate reflection of my gaming tastes (with perhaps too much emphasis on fillers).

Here’s what 2006 brought:

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Carcassonne: Not Just a City in France

Knucklebones: May 2007This is a reprint of an article written in December, 2006 for first publication in the May, 2007 issue of the now-defunct Knucklebones magazine. Because of its origins, this article is more introductory and (hopefully) more polished than many of my online writings. Despite the original source of this article, this blog is in no way associated with Jones Publishing or Knucklebones Magazine.

In the late 1990s Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, a German music teacher, took a vacation in southern France. He was following the track of the Cathars, a Catholic heresy that flourished in the area in the 12th and 13th centuries. The walled French town of Carcassonne was an obvious stop on Wrede’s pilgrimage because it had been a stronghold of the Cathars until 1209, when the famous crusader Simon de Montfort took the town as part of the Albignesian Crusade.

For most people a stop in Carcassonne would be a memorable event on a vacation but little more. However for Wrede, the town of Carcassonne stayed with him. Long a gameplayer, Wrede now decided to try his hand at designing a game that captured his vision of Medieval Carcassonne. He wanted to create a game “in which … a medieval landscape developed and different power groups fought for influence” (my translation).

I winced when I saw the tile that my opponent had drawn. It showed a tiny road turning into a glorious medieval city, with fields running along the other two edges. It was exactly the tile that she needed, and as she placed it, merging my field to hers, I could imagine her farmers marching across the tile in victory. She’d just won the game.

Unless I could get the tile I needed on my next draw.

The result was Carcassonne, which has now spawned over a dozen sequels that have together sold over half a million copies in the United States alone.

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