Friday, January 30, 2015

Top Ten New Games for 2014

Inspired by The Dice Tower and their top 10 lists, I put together my top 10 games for 2014 as well. Note that these are games that I have played for the first time in 2014 not necessarily games that were released in 2014. With all the games that I already have, I got another 69 games plus expansions last year. Some were gifts, some were purchased at the thrift stores and conventions, some were from Kickstarter, and some were new.

The new games were Bang – the Dice Game, Batman Gotham City Strategy Game, Battleship Galaxies, Bejeweled, Bejeweled Frenzy, Blue Max World War I Air Combat, Cardline – Animals, Coin Age, Firefly, In Her Majesty’s Name, Let’s Kill, Lords of Vegas, Lords of Waterdeep, Love Letter – Tempest, Marvel Dice Masters, Nuts!, Pairs, Qwirkle, Risk Legacy, Roll For It!, Spot It!, Takenoko, Telestrations, Templar Intrigue, Timeline – Diversity, Timeline – Music & Cinema, Tsuro of the Seas, Unusual Suspects, Warhammer 40,000 – seventh edition, Wits and Wagers Family, and Yetisburg. Coin Age, Pairs, and Templar Intrigue were from Kickstarter.

The ones I picked up not new were 13 Dead End Drive, Battleship Express, Bionicle: Mask of Light, Boggle, Boggle Jr, Captain Parks Imaginary Polar Expedition, Charlie Brown All Stars, Clue: Discover the Secrets, Clue: Secrets & Spies, Dear World, Edison & Co, Finance and Fortune, Harry Potter: Diagon Alley, Inside Moves, Isolation, King’s Court, Lego Ninjago, Life – Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest, Monopoly Clone Wars, Neopets: Adventures in Neopia, Nexus Ops, Pirates of the Caribbean DVD Treasure Hunt, Pit, Power Lunch, Quiddler, Rail Baron, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Shakin’ Sorry, Sharp Shooters, Sky Galleons of Mars, Sorry Sliders – Cars 2, Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator, Stop Thief, Storage Wars:The Game, Supremacy, Tannhauser, Ten Commandments Bible Game, Yahtzee:Texas Hold ‘Em, and Zaxxon.

A lot of these did not hit the table this year. Some games from previous years were finally played.

Games that I played for the first time that did not make my list were Bejeweled, Bejeweled Frenzy, Boggle, Cards Against Humanity, Isolation, Love Letter – Tempest, Nuts!, Pairs, Shakin’ Sorry, Unusual Suspects, XLR8, and Yahtzee Jr.

Roll For It! and Spot it! just missed my top ‘10’. They are both fun enough to play and easy enough to teach new people, but seem to be lacking in replayability with the same group. My daughter destroys all others in Spot It! through all the variations. Depending on your group, it may have more of a range. I played Roll For it! with both 2 and 5 players. I believe 3-4 may be more of a sweet spot. With 2 players you can get bogged down going for the big sets, and with 5 it takes just a bit too long to come around again and the small sets go too fast.

14 – Battle Cry – 150 Anniversary – It’s card driven – similar to Battle Masters or Assault on Hoth except by section of the battlefield instead of by troop. We’re not super into the Civil War but thought we would try the system as it is the basis for the Memoir ’44 system. It seems fun enough and we look forward to playing through more of the scenarios. Plus the figures are pretty detailed.

13 – Revolution – It has a very euro-type feel to it. You have to try to control territory by bidding with blackmail, force, or gold. It plays well enough. We now have the first expansion and are looking forward to trying it again.

12 – Monsters Menace America – A grail find of mine. I was only able to play it once this year but that was fun. It had a light Fortress America vibe to it with each player controlling both a monster and a branch of the military during the main play, and then a bit of a monster battle at the end.

11 – Yetisburg – When I saw this on sale for $2 at Paizo I had to get it for the name alone. Again, we’re not super fans of the American Civil War but the card play makes this interesting. You have to manage your attrition to avoid losing and to be able to mount a proper offensive.

10 – Castellan – We have both sets so we can play a four player game. You each have a set of towers and walls to add to a castle depending on your cards. Your goal is to complete courtyards containing the most towers. Each player has the same set of cards and pieces so the management is what makes the difference. It plays well and is easy to teach.

9 – Timeline – Music & Cinema – Each player is given a set of tiny cards that they have to take turns playing into the correct place in a timeline. It is a bit harder on the younger kids who are guessing more often but played well with the rest of us.

8 – Hive – I was finally able to get the kids to play this. We picked up a set of the Carbon version (in black and white) last year. I love the solid feel of the bakelite pieces. The play takes a little bit to get used to but does seem like it will have a lot of replay in it.

7 – Cardline – Animals – This is similar to the Timeline series but with standard sized cards. You have the option of sorting the animals by size, weight, or life expectancy. It plays slightly better than Timeline due to the three game choices but mostly gets the big ranking nod due to the larger cards.

6 – Battleship Galaxies – Contains a lot of cool plastic starships with a fairly solid game behind it. It comes with several scenarios and cards and points to make your own battles. This has a lot of life in it and I am pretty sad that it did not do well enough to warrant an expansion with more ships. Even so, it seems like it will have enough to keep us involved for a while.

5 – Qwirkle – You places tiles to match rows by color or by shape. It has a good Scrabble feel to it without having to deal with all the words – in case you have that one player who is leagues ahead of the rest of you.

4 – Rocketville – A robot-political game where you are trying to win enough planetary elections in an area to score more points. There seems to be enough strategy in knowing when to draw more cards and which planets you can let slip for an area and for which ones to fight heavily.

3 – Takenoko – A lovely looking game with a lot of good gameplay. You have to get the most points in one of three ways – by playing tile combinations, by growing certain types of bamboo, or by having the panda eat certain types of bamboo. The wooden pegs for the bamboo are a good weight and the pastel colors make the game look pretty during play.

2 – Bang: The Dice Game – We didn’t play the regular card version of Bang – even though the large bullet case looked tempting. Due to the guys at the Dice Tower going on about this game, we tried it out. It is a pretty easy hidden-goal game to introduce new players. It is quite streamlined in play and plays pretty quick and fun.

1 – Walk the Plank – This has a Family Business-kind of feel to it. You have to program moves for pirates to try and get the other players’ pirates into the water while trying to save yours. It is very quick, and one game leads to a few more as you try to get revenge for the last game. It replaced Get Bit! with us and is a good filler for new players or when we don’t have time for Family Business.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Books read September to December 2014

Time-Life Books: The Old West – The Miners by Robert Wallace
The Book of Caddyshack by Scott Martin

Warhammer Armies: Lizardmen (6th edition) by Anthony Reynolds
The Art & Craft of Wooden Toys by Ron Fuller and Cathy Meens
Warships in Miniature by Michael Ainsworth
Lightstrike: The Art of John Zeleznik by Cartouche Press
Modelling Sailing Men-of-War by Philip Reed
The Future of Fantasy Art edited by Aly Fell and Duddlebug

HALO – The Essential Visual Guide by Jeremy Patenaude
The World’s Worst Weapons by Martin J. Dougherty
50 years of James Bond by Life Books
Houdini: A magician among the spirits by Harry Houdini
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial from Concept to Classic: The Illustrated Story of the Film and the Filmmakers by Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Portfolio: The Explorers Edition by Sports Illustrated

Make It Right: Inside Home Renovations with Canada’s most trusted Contractor by Mike Holmes
Heaven by Walter Iooss
24 – The Ultimate Guide by Michael Goldman
Time-Life Books: The Old West – The Frontiersmen by Paul O’Neil
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Portfolio: Paradise Found by Sports Illustrated
Queen – The Illustrated Biography by Tim Hill
Michael Jackson – A Life in the Spotlight by Philip Todd
The Rolling Stones – 50 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll by Life Books
With the Beatles by Life Books
Crazy Stuff by Nicolas Marcais & Philippe Marchand