Transcript of our podcast from 9 January 2010

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The Year 2009 In Review

by Moritz Eggert

Top Ten List

As I had limited time for gaming this year I don't dare to do a full top-ten list, but what I can do is quickly recommend 10 games - in no particular order - from 2009.

  1. Ragnar Brothers "Brief History of the World" - a new, streamlined version of one of their greatest games is a must have for any fan of Civilization/History-type games.

  2. Czech Board Games' "Dungeon Lords" - because in my opinion one can absolutely never go wrong with a game by Vlada Chvatil.

  3. Hans im Glueck's "Egizia" - for me the best Euro Game of this year: a highly playable and challenging game with one original mechanic and the usual high standard that HIG provides. A game that gets better, not worse with repeated play.

  4. Histogames "Maria" - a successor to one of the most original and radical wargames in the last years, "Friedrich", a game so slick that even the Westpark Gamers - who usually hate wargames - like to play it. The acquisition of this game was a no-brainer for me.

  5. Phalanx Games' "Rise of Empires" - I say this on a whim, not having played the game yet, but any game by Martin Wallace on such a theme is worth buying in my book.

  6. Surprised Stare Games "Fzzzt!" - a nice, quick card game with robots and interesting mechanics - how can you not like it?

  7. Schmidt Spiele's "Mosaix"- this was a secret hit with legendary gamers like Richard Breese and Greg Schloesser: a small, carry in your pocket game by my friend Christof Tisch that I can only highly recommend as a quick and easy but challenging filler game.

  8. FFG's "Middle Earth Quest" - nobody does Fantasy like FFG at the moment, and in a surprise move German traditional publisher Kosmos published a German version of the game. I hope it sells so we see more German versions of FFG games in the future!

  9. Decision Games' "D-Day Omaha Beach" and "Galactic Emperor" - a welcome return to form for veteran designer John Butterfield and two innovative and challenging solitaire designs.

  10. "Where there is discord" by Daniel Hodges, a game that shows that having a dream of self-producing a professional looking and highly playable game is something that can become a reality.

Worst game of the year

I could mention a lot of bad games that nobody of you knows, but that would be no fun. So I will mention a popular game that I find absolutely dreary and dreadful: "The Gates of Loyang"! Of course Uwe Rosenberg is a fantastic designer, but this exercise in shuffling around wares that takes ages and in the end you achieve a difference of 0.0025 victory points is just boooooring. Only recommended for people who like multiplayer solitaire games that are no fun at all and in which everybody tries to steal each other's rotten turnips.

Biggest surprise (good) of the year

For me the good surprise was that the gaming industry as a whole seemed to be relatively unaffected by the financial crisis. People might have gotten a little more critical with the games they are buying, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Essen attendance was fantastic, and in general I feel that gaming as a hobby is still on the rise.

Biggest disappointment

My biggest disappointment was not being able to go to BGG con 2009. In general 2009 was a bad gaming year for me - we moved and renovated and I was travelling in most of my free time, so many good and interesting games remained unplayed. Even my Essen haul is mostly in shrink-wrap and not even entered in the Essen database. And 2010 looks as busy, sigh.... I also have to say that Games Workshop decision to have BGG delete a huge number of fan-made files that do nothing but support and not steal from their games was one of the worst business decisions ever. Shame on you, GW, my file for your long out of print game "Valley of the Four Winds" which did nothing but list the special abilities of the units in the game in text form was most certainly no bloody copyright infringement! Look at excellent companies like GMT or FFG who show you what the support of your games should look like, you could most certainly learn from them!

Best components

That honor should go to both "Middle Earth Quest" by FFG, which I think has fantastic artwork and value for money, and also "The Adventurers" by AEG, which perfectly recreates the atmosphere of the first Indiana Jones film opening. I especially love that large stone ball!

Best artwork

I think "Middle Earth Quest" by FFG has to be lauded for the sheer amount of artwork on the hundreds of cards. I also should mention both "Game of Thrones LCG" and "Call of Cthulhu" LCG, with continuous high standards of card art. And of course "Where there is Discord" with the most fantastic artwork I've ever seen for a privately produced game.

Best expansion

I personally loved the Talisman Expansion "The Dungeon", which both improved and also stayed true to the original expansion from... arggghh... can't say the name... hate, hate... Games Workshop. There, I now spilled my coffee....

Name a game you didn't get to play that you wish you did

I have the new version of Ragnar Brothers "History of the World", " A Brief History Of The World" sitting here on my shelf, and that's a shame, because I'm sure that it is a darn good game.

Best children's game

I am not yet an expert on children's games as my son of 2 ½ is just starting getting a grasp on games, but I can already say that Tom's recommendation of "Obstgarten", also known as "Fruit Orchard" was really a winner - my son absolutely loves this game, thank you Tom! Also can any of you friendly listeners recommend a place for me where I can get "Go Away, Monster!" in Europe? This game seems a real winner on BGG, but I only found very overpriced US online shops that carried the game, no shop in Europe... please help!

Best family game

I make an unusual offering here - my choice would be "Dungeon Twister", which was just republished in a fantastic new version called "The Prison". If you analyze it closely, Dungeon Twister is actually a variant of "Das verrueckte Labyrinth" by Ravensburger, and is not that complicated a game. One can play it casually, with younger kids, and also ambitiously, like chess. I think it's highly recommended to hone one's logical thinking skills, as it is a game with little to no luck while being light-hearted enough to not grind to a halt.

Best party game

For me the best party game was the legendary game of "Time's Up" played at Essen in the Chinese restaurant with most of the Boardgamegeek crew present along with gaming celebrities like Tom and Greg Schloesser. I lost miserably, but it was incredible fun. It's a shame this game is not known at all in Germany!

Most interesting piece of game related news

I am very happy that "Turning Point Simulations" plan to produce 21 boardgames on the theme of the book "20 Decisive Battles Of The World" seems to become a reality now - please add yourself to their mailing list and make this wargamer's dream come true - 21 purpose-designed, easy to play wargames on mounted maps, done by the greatest designers out there is a must buy!

Most innovative game

There was no game this year that I found extremely innovative compared to last years, but I have to say that Vlaada Chvatil did it again with "Dungeon Lords". Also both "Where there is discord" and "Ici, C'est La France" were both impressive wargames, each in their own way. And again, "Mosaix" by Christof Tisch is innovative while being simple and instantly playable.

Strangest game

As I just did a list on that I am a bit lost on words, but it seemed to me that 2009 had relatively few games that one could call "strange". Actually I would love to see MORE strange games - come on, game designers!

War game

In the little time that I had for wargaming this year I have to say that I most played "Combat Commander" - I know it's not a new game anymore, but it is constantly supported by GMT, and it is just a great game with fantastic replay value and lots of surprises.

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