Yesterday Larry and Tom kicked off the Notable Notables series in an attempt to identify the most notable releases from the past 20 years. The first installment looked at 2009 to 2013 for which there was some agreement and plenty of disagreement about the most notable titles. The criteria for being “notable” were described in that first post as relating to how well a game was received, its awards, and how well its reputation has held up over time. Today we’re back to look at 2005 to 2008. As you’ll see below, we start off on the same page, but quickly diverge, so we’ll need you to tell us who’s right… or perhaps we’re both wrong and you can tell us about the critically important games that we’ve left off.
1) Dominion – Duh!
2) Pandemic – Game of the year in any other year but for a little thing called Dominion.
3) Le Havre – Rosenberg proves after Agricola he’s not a one-hit board game wonder.
4) Small World – Days of Wonder has another huge hit on its hands.
5) Totally torn between Battlestar Galactica and Chicago Express for the last spot here. I’m sick of making tough decisions; I decline to decide this time around.
Bonus Theme for the Year: Older games makes triumphant returns with Steam and Tales of the Arabian Nights making big splashes with their new editions.
1) Dominion – Won practically everything and introduced the deckbuilder concept
2) Le Havre – IGA winner and top 10 game
3) Small World – Dice Tower and Games Magazine GotY and top 100 game, with expansions galore
4) Pandemic – SdJ finalist, top 50 game, and probably the most popular cooperative game ever
5) Battlestar Galactica – Top 25 game and hugely popular with fans of the TV series
Larry says – Also considered: Steam, Space Alert, and Automobile. It was a strong year. But, unlike Tom, I was able to keep my picks to five!
2) Le Havre
4) Small World
5) Battlestar Galactica
FIVE games in common! What a difference a year makes! We went from no overlap in yesterday’s post on 2009 to full overlap in 2008.
1) Agricola – Obviously…
2) Race for the Galaxy – Who knew moving San Juan to outer space would be such a thing!
3) Galaxy Trucker – Making it the year of the galaxy games.
4) Brass – Despite his best efforts, Wallace finds himself with a real hit on his hands.
5) Keltis – Knizia’s first SdJ surely makes the list despite the game, mechanisms, rules, and gameplay.
Bonus Theme for the Year: Debating the artwork of Mike Doyle and the beleaguered Valley Games with the much-discussed publication of Municipium. I’m personally a huge fan of Doyle’s artwork! Also Larry not picking Galaxy Trucker is pure, unadulterated heresy.
1) Agricola – Won the DSP and IGA and toppled Puerto Rico from its top spot on the Geek
2) Race for the Galaxy – Top 20 game that led to frenzied play from its fans for many months
3) Brass – #11 game that many consider to be Wallace’s finest creation
4) Stone Age – Top 40 game that is one of the most popular worker placement games ever
5) In the Year of the Dragon – Three major award mentions; Feld at his most unforgiving best
Larry says – A year in which many long waits came to an end: Rosenberg ends his spell of irrelevance in a big way; Knizia finally ends his wait for an SdJ; and Karl-Heinz Schmiel ends his fan’s long wait for another of his games, with the release of Tribune.
2) Race for the Galaxy
1) Through the Ages – Another easy choice for #1 this year. Catapulted the Czech Republic onto the board gaming map.
2) Pillars of the Earth – This game was everywhere this year and was very widely and mistakenly assumed to be the guaranteed SdJ winner.
3) Space Dealer – Merged board games with compact disc technology in widely heralded ways.
4) Khronos – Put Matagot on people’s radar as a publisher with big ideas and frequently big disappointments.
5) BattleLore – Days of Wonder meets Richard Borg’s command & colors series meets a fantasy re-theme, a surefire hit.
Bonus Theme for the Year: Tom refuses to put Zooloretto on the list no matter how much it should be there. I even briefly entertained the idea of using the relatively obscure Canal Mania to deny a spot to Zooloretto.
1) Through the Ages – #2 rated game that put the Czech Republic on the gaming map
2) The Pillars of the Earth – DSP winner was the talk of the gaming world for most of the year
3) Shogun – This spinoff of Wallenstein wowed people enough to win the Golden Geek award
4) Imperial – The second coming of the rondel earned three major award mentions and lots of fans
5) Age of Empires III – Almost got drowned in the hype, but survived to become a big hit
Larry says – Other games considered were Notre Dame, BattleLore, and Yspahan. Despite Tom’s screed, I never really thought about adding Zooloretto.
1) Through the Ages
2) The Pillars of the Earth
1) Caylus – 2005 was the year of the Caylus.
2) Twilight Struggle – The #1 game on BGG comes in #2 here.
3) Antike – The invention of the rondel and the introduction of Gerdts.
4) Shear Panic – Fragor begins the annual tradition of captivating people with elaborate bits.
5) Vegas Showdown – Hasbro does Amun-Re.
Bonus Theme for the Year: Splotter’s Indonesia was a near miss. Larry not picking Antike is mind boggling. I know he prefers Navegador (and I prefer Imperial), but who cares, it’s the first rondel game, so leaving our personal preferences aside, Antike is the one that belongs here.
1) Caylus – Won DSP and IGA awards and made worker placement hugely popular
2) Twilight Struggle – IGA award and the #1 game on the Geek; the first card-driven non-wargame
3) Command & Colors: Ancients – Top 40 game; highest rated of Borg’s C&C designs
4) Blue Moon City – Got 3 major award mentions plus Meeples Choice; very popular in its day
5) Thurn and Taxis – SdJ award winner; theme made this extremely popular in Europe
Larry says – Up until now, the #1 game was a fairly straightforward choice, but this begins three consecutive years of close calls. It’s hard for newer gamers to appreciate just how massively popular and respected Caylus was when it first came out, which is why I gave it the nod over the top-rated game of all time. Adding to the compelling story is that both games literally came from nowhere, with both being the product of first-time designers and (at the time) low profile publishers.
As for Antike, it was considered, but it wasn’t that hard to leave off the list. The other games have higher ratings and did better in the awards. All that Antike really has going for it is it was the first rondel game and I don’t see where that’s enough to make it one of the year’s most notable designs.
2) Twilight Struggle
What do you think are the most notable games from these four years? There are obviously some easy choices, but rounding out the top five for any given year seems to be where the disagreements really lie.