Friday, March 28, 2014

Grail Games - achieved

Grail games are those that you have not yet added to your collection – either for too high a price or lack of availability. The internet has made it easier to find those games but it has also made the value of those games more known. It also has exposed us to a lot more games that we wouldn’t have known that we needed to have. I’ve been lucky enough to have gotten most of my grail games over the years but more are always being added to the list. Most have been ones that I had a chance to buy at one time but didn’t, some are ones that I didn’t become interested in until long after they were out of print.

Circus Imperium was one of my early games. I played it at Gencon and tracked down a copy. I ran it for many years at various conventions and my wife eventually tracked down another copy to have. I even tracked down the miniatures but haven’t bought them yet as I keep using my scratch built ones.

Conquest of the Empire was one of the Milton Bradley Gamemaster series. My friends and I had each bought one of them to have the set. I bought the Fortress America, others bought the Axis & Allies. My friend later gave me the Conquest for one of my birthdays. By then I already had the Broadships and Boarding Parties.

Space Crusade was another game I first played at Gencon. Gloria, a friend of a friend, brought one back for me from the UK. There are two supplements but I don’t expect to even be able to get them.

I’m not sure where I first played the Aliens board game - I believe it was at a Wingames. The rules used to be online but I was finally able to track down a copy. I even managed to get a copy of the Aliens RPG last year. I’m still missing the Aliens board game expansion though.

Star Wars The Queen’s Gambit disappeared shortly after it came out. I was able to get a copy at retail ($80) in a Thunder Bay game store while we were visiting my wife’s sister.

I wasn’t into LARPs as much as many of the locals. I did get the Star Wars Live Action supplement but never got into the White Wolf set. I was intrigued enough to eventually get Cthulhu Live – both the first and all the books for the second edition. I haven’t picked up the third edition yet but it remains one of my games that I hope to play one day.

I used to play Car Wars back in the day. We had the pocket box sets, the Deluxe sets, and most of the supplements. When I found out about 5th edition it had already been out of print. It took a bit of time, but I was able to get all the books through ebay.

I never played the old FASA Crimson Skies but I do remember the big board at Gencon with the buildings under plexiglass as being impressive. I did play, judge, and enjoy the remake when it came out from WizKids. I finally decided to get the old version as well. It took a bit of searching, but I was finally able to track down the boxed set and all the books and supplements.

I remember the Space:1899 game when it first came out. While interesting, I never managed to get it. Much, much later, I was able to get a copy of Ironclads and Ether Flyers. The rules seem fun enough that I picked up the reprinted rules of Sky Galleons of Mars/Cloudships and Gunboats. While great, I was missing the maps and ships. I started making some ships out of balsa but got side-tracked. Luckily, I was just able to win a boxed copy of Sky Galleons of Mars on ebay for a good price.

I’ve picked up most of the new Hasbro/Avalon Hill games except all the Axis and Allies variants. I’m still missing the pretty copy of Acquire, the Diplomacy with the metal figures, Betrayal at House on the Hill. I was missing Nexus Ops (now rereleased by Fantasy Flight - but I just won one as well). I’m not really chasing those down yet but I had a copy of Monsters Menace America in my hands at Valleycon for $25 and put it down to complete a quick sweep of the rest of the dealer’s room. As soon as I did, it was scooped up by another. It took four or five years before I was finally able to find another for a decent price.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top 10 new Games for 2013

Making a top 10 list for 2013 was pretty easy as I had only played 14 new games last year. The ones that did not make the cut for the top 10 were the following:

11 – Fleet Admiral – It may have done better but there was some confusion in the rules about the goal. More playing may have improved this ranking.
12 – Input – This was an old one. I like how it plays but I don’t think that there is enough legs there to warrant lots of play. The often ties if you can’t wipe out the opponent fully cause this to be off the list.
13 – Agricola – This game takes too long to set up and is much too confusing to pick up from the rules. Granted, we played without the cards but I don’t like that it forces you to diversify. There should be risks to specialization but still allow you to corner the market if you want.
14 – Aquarius - I’m not a huge fan of this one. It does play well with multi-age groups and is simple to pick up. If my daughter didn’t beat me down in it I might like it more but I’ll end up playing it more than many of the other games in my top 10 anyways because it’s quick and the rest of the family likes it.

The top 10 for 2013 are as follows:

10 – Cthulhu Fluxx – The first of the Fluxx games we ever played. I’d know about it for decades but had put off getting it until the Tabletop episode made it look worth giving it a try. It’s fun but the Ungoals are a bit harsh.
9 – Twixt – I had always seen this on the old Games magazine top 100 but had never played it until now. I like it but it is a bit too simple.
8 – Nowhere to Go – I don’t actually own this one but we did try it in the store. I like it but again I don’t know what kind of sustainability it would have.
7 – Othello – I can’t believe that I had never played this before. I have played lots of Reversi – but that’s a Ping Pong/Table Tennis kind of difference.
6 – Unexploded Cow – We played this a lot. It’s cute and would be higher but the rules could explain the first round better – when you roll higher than cows does the last cow explode or do no cows explode?
5 – Risk: Battlefield – I’ll always have a soft spot for Risk games and this one has enough variation to make it in my top 5.
4 – Fluxx – It’s a good version of Fluxx to play with people who don’t know any of the more specific variants.
3 – Walk the Plank – This one is seeing a lot of love from us. It easily replaces Get Bit! in our rotation.
2 – Monty Python Fluxx – More Fluxx goodness but with a Monty Python flavor. Know what I mean?

1 – OGRE Designer’s Edition – I was a big fan of the original pocket box set of Ogre and never did get the old Deluxe Set. This one is huge, and loaded with Kiskstarter goodness. Except for the sheer size of this, I can’t think of a fault with this game.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Board Game channels

My two favorite board game related channels on youtube are Tabletop, and The Dice Tower. Tabletop is hosted by Wil Wheaton and in each episode they play a board game. He usually has celebrities (of varying degrees) playing with him and it is good to see them outside of their field. Even though they often get the rules wrong, it gives a good example of how the game plays to see if it would be worth looking into trying it. Tsuro and Fluxx were good examples of this – I had known about both for years, but wasn’t interested until I had seen them being played.

The Dice Tower is mainly hosted by Tom Vassel and usually does board game reviews but also has news, and a lot of top 10 lists. What’s nice about it is once you’ve watched a few of them, you get a feel for the games he likes, and can use that to gauge if you would also like it. Case in point – Tom really likes Cosmic Encounter and Nothing Personal. Based on the reviews for Nothing Personal, I can tell that I will not like it.

Another feature of The Dice Tower is their top 100 games lists. I have sat down a few times and looked at it, but it seems daunting to rank 100 of the games I have and have played. I will look at making a few top ten lists though.