2012, The year of Android Netrunner, Star Wars X-wing miniatures, Legendary: a Marvel Deck Building game and Freedom: the Underground Railroad. All very highly regarded games that I haven’t played. Yet, or maybe not planning to play at all. There were still some other good games that are worth a mention that came out that year. These are my ten favourites.
10: Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island
Robinson Crusoe is a very good, very hard, very immersive cooperative game. The reason that it is on number ten and not higher on the list mainly has to do with the amount of playtime it gets. It was my number nine favourite game (of all time) last year, although it wasn’t played very often then either, and I’m pretty sure it will drop quite a lot of places. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like it anymore. I still think the way the event deck works is cool, your decisions can bite you in the behind later in the game. The art is great. The different scenarios are fun and it tells a great story. Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island, my number ten of 2012.
I played this game for the first time this year, 2016. Four years after its release. And I think it was also on my whishlist for four years or so. I’m typically not a fighting game type of guy, and my game group isn’t either, typically, so I had my doubts about purchasing the game. I have eventually and I enjoyed the game very much. I really like the look, the special powers and the fact that you can reach every corner of the board in about the same amount of turns. Attacking is rewarded in this game and that makes that this game can play pretty quick. I must say that I also played games of Kemet that dragged on a bit, so I don’t know if this game will stay this high for a long time, but for now it’s my number nine.
I just realized that 2012 was such a good year for gaming. Too many fun games. Ginkgopolis is one of them and I like it more every time I play it. Drafting, I think my favourite mechanism, is part of the game, but it is not the most important part of the game. That is area control. You can expand different coloured areas, by playing cards with letters, or you can build on top of other tiles if you play a card with the same number as the tile you build on. This way you try to get your meeples on the table, to get the most meeples in an area of one colour. You get points for controlling an area at the end of the game. But that’s not all. Another fun element of the game is that when you build on top of another tile you can keep the card that corresponds with that tile and this card gives you a special ability. You need that ability to get and keep your engine running. Every time you expand, you’ll get a points. Every time you build on top of a tile you get a new meeple, or maybe a new tile. Such a clever game.
I played the ‘classic’ version, I played the one dipped in fantasy sauce, and I do not think it doesn’t matter which version you play. It’s just very fun. I recently reviewed Guildhall Fantasy, so I’m not going to talk about it very long. It’s a game that revolves around collecting sets, every time you add a card to a set in front of you, you can execute the special ability of that set. The more cards in a set, the better the ability. Create clever combo’s and you’ll be the first to get the desired amount of points. Great game: Guildhall.
Sometimes you can create sets of cards that fit perfectly together and the cards work together like a well-oiled machine. Sometimes you have to do the best with what you get. Roll dice, get resources, manipulate the seasons and activate the special abilities of the magical artefacts and creatures you summon. The art is great, the dice are chunky and, for me, it’s at its best when you play with two players. Seasons can feel a bit random, but it can also be that you came up with a plan and were able to execute it perfectly. It all depends on the cards you’ll get when you draft at the beginning.
I have yet to play a city-building game that is better than Suburbia. You try to meet certain goals, one only you know, and you try to create a suburb where all buildings work well together. Lure people to your town and keep them happy. I’ve played Castles of Mad King Ludwig, which is based on the mechanisms of Suburbia, but is more a castle-building game than a city-building game, and I must say that it not as good. At least, I did not like it as much.
Yes, I know, I said it before. Targi is one of the best two-player games I have played. I really look forward to the expansion that will come out later this year. You will place your workers on the edges of a grid of cards. When a row of one of your workers crosses with a column of another one of your workers you can place another worker on the crossroad. The other player may never place a worker on the other end of the row or column you have a worker on. So, it’s tense. ‘Please do not place your worker there, please do not place your worker there! Ah, she placed her worker there…’ You can collect goods and buy cards with those goods. You place these cards in you own tableau and at the end these cards will give you points, either because of their own end-game scoring condition, or because you placed your cards in a specific order. Targi is a wonderful game. It may look a bit boring, but it is good fun.
3: Among the Stars
Not the first drafting game on this list, but this time you build a space station. Oooooohhh. A space station that has different sectors, each sector is a card, and each card has a condition. When you satisfy that condition you can get a lot of points. Immediately or at the end of the game. It’s all about spatial planning. It’s very fun and it looks great too. The ambassador expansion is the best of the three that are out there. The other two add more cards and some new mechanisms. The advisors from Revival are interesting, the new ship tokens kind of fun, but the Ambassadors a really great addition to the game.
2: Lords of Waterdeep
I couldn’t care less about the D&D theme. I’m not a D&D person. I do like the game a lot. You have complete missions by gathering the right people around you, meaning collection cubes in different colours, and when you complete these missions you get a bonus, some points and at the beginning of the game you get a goal card that gives you extra points if you go on specific types of missions. You can control buildings that can be used to place workers on. Plus, you get resources if other people use it. It is ally very straightforward. It is basically a gateway worker placement game. Simple, but very fun. It also has a very cool expansion, Scoundrels of Skullport, which adds corruptions and new locations. Some actions are really good, but you have to take corruption to take these actions. The more corruptions that is removed from the board, the more points you’ll have to subtract from your total at the end of the game if you have collected corruption.
1: Tzolk’in: De Kalender van de Maya’s
The most fun game of 2012, and one of my favourite games of all time, is Tzolk’in. A worker placement game where timing is really important, because you place your workers on sets of gears. These gears are interconnected and every round they will rotate, moving your workers to another, better, spot. You can either place workers or remove workers during your turn, so planning is really, really important, because if you have to remove a worker which has not arrived at its preferred destination, you’re screwed, or at least you may have to adjust your plans. The game looks good, but most of all it is a very solid Euro game that brought me many hours of fun gaming time.
What are your favourites from 2012?