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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The Multiplayer IGA Nominees: 2006

There are, over the gaming year, five different major awards. The first two are the German awards, the SdJ and the DSP. Then there’s the RPG industry award (the Origins) and finally the American mass-market award (the Games 100). It’s pretty easy to pigeon-hole each of these:

  • The SdJ is a German award for a casual or family game.
  • The DSP is likewise a German award for more serious games, though the results have been getting more casual as they’ve started to let the masses vote.
  • The Origins board & card game awards are, first of all, more beauty contests than anything else — where people vote on companies as much as products. In addition they tend to award American take-that style play. If you’re looking for a new Munchkin, look here. (Since splitting into the Origins award & Choice awards, Origins proper has gotten somewhat better, while the Choice awards continue to be about what you’d expect.)
  • The Games 100 are a very eclectic mix, centering on ultra-casual strategy-light games that’ll appeal to the (American) mass market, but extending somewhat to more gamist games, thanks primarily to the fact that they get to name 100 picks.

… and then there’s the IGA, the International Gamer Awards.

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Last Season’s Hot Games: A Top Ten from Essen 2005, Part Two

Last October I wrote up a list of my top ten games from Essen ’05. In the six months since I’ve dutifully waited for those games to make their sometimes long, arduous trip from Europe, and have finally gotten to play all of them — or at least the nine that were actually released.

This is the second part of my review of those games, talking about what I liked and what I didn’t. In my first article in this series I covered the top five, a set of games that I thought were entirely worth playing. Here I’m going to cover a few more above average games, but also a few that I was in the end disappointed by.
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Games to Watch For: Essen ’05

October is inevitably a good month for German games thanks to to the hundreds(?) of new releases at Essen. Word slowly trickles over to the States about the best, and in the weeks and months that follow the games trickle over as well.

What follows is my listing of what I think are the games coming out of Essen with the most potential. It inevitably ended up being a list of gamers’ games, not card games or fillers, no matter how deserving they might be. Some are actually reprints, or games otherwise being made widely available to America for the first time, but the main point is this: for most people they’ll be new.

I’ve offered up my best representation of each game, but I actually haven’t seen any of them yet (except Elasund), so I can’t guarantee accuracy, especially not for the “Like:” area. Feel free to add your own thoughts or comments below.

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