The Notable Notables series rolls on today with games from 2001 to 2004. The introduction from Monday’s initial post explains all you need to know about the criteria and the selection process. We kick things off today with a tough year with a lot of different opinions on the most significant titles, but working backwards, the next few years have more consensus with some fairly clear-cut notable games. It doesn’t hurt to have blockbuster games like Ticket to Ride and Puerto Rico fall in this date range. Tomorrow we’ll be back as we continue on into the previous decade with a bit older games.
a) Around the World in 80 Days – This year has no clear choice, so I’ve declared it a five-way tie. I have lettered rather than numbered my selections because they’re tied and have put them in alphabetical order this time since there is no order. This game was the SdJ fake-out game of the year.
b) Downfall of Pompeii – Jurgen-Wrede breaks out of the Carcassonne world briefly and successfully.
c) Fairy Tale – The Japanese card game.
d) Reef Encounter – The world falls in love with Juliet Breese’s art style and Richard Breese’s design style.
e) War of the Ring – People can finally live out the Lord of the Rings books (and movies for you late adopters out there).
Bonus Theme for the Year: I love Antiquity and Louis XIV, but it never occurred to me to add them to the list here despite a relatively weak year of choices. Shadows over Camelot would have made the list as the cooperative game predecessor except for that whole Knizia Lord of the Rings thing.
1) War of the Ring – IGA Award and #25 ranking; very enthusiastic reception from gamers
2) Shadows over Camelot – SdJ special award; traitor mechanism is much admired
3) Louis XIV – Dorn finally wins a major award as this takes the DSP
4) Antiquity – Top 100 game; one of the most admired Splotter designs
5) Jambo – 3 major mentions (unusual for a card game); wins a la carte award
Larry says – Some close decisions this year, but I don’t think it was nearly as tight as Tom makes it out to be. Lots of people really liked the Traitor mechanic in Shadows, so I gave it strong consideration for the top spot, but I think War of the Ring has held up better over the years. Reef Encounter and 80 Days both had a shot at making my list.
1) War of the Ring
1) Ticket to Ride – Now we’re back to an easy #1 pick.
2) Power Grid – Friese’s masterpiece.
3) Goa – The year of the Euro with Ticket to Ride, Power Grid, and Dorn’s masterpiece.
4) Gulo Gulo – One of the most sought after and more expensive children’s game.
5) Saint Petersburg – The launching of the illustrious “Michael Tummelhofer” career. I still think BGG should use the pen name.
1) Power Grid – Top 10 game and about a billion expansions keep this one going strong
2) Ticket to Ride – SdJ winner and universally considered the greatest gateway game ever
3) Goa – Top 50 game plus a Meeples Choice winner; recent reprint gave it a new lease on life
4) Saint Petersburg – Most honored game of the year, with DSP and IGA awards
5) Memoir ‘44 – IGA award; most played of the Commands & Colors designs
Larry says – This might be the greatest game year ever, with terrific designs of every kind. The choice between Power Grid and Ticket to Ride was a very close one; in the end, I decided that TtR had been eclipsed by many of its expansions, while PG seemed to be enhanced by its.
1) Ticket to Ride
2) Power Grid
4) Saint Petersburg
1) Age of Steam – Wallace’s real legacy.
2) Amun-Re – Often hailed as Knizia last gamer’s game… although I think 2006’s Blue Moon City disproves that theory.
3) Hive – John Yianni proves that Kris Burm isn’t the only great abstract designer in town.
4) Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation – Knizia proves that a licensed tie-in game can actually be good.
5) Jungle Speed – Long before speed pattern recognition was all the rage, Jungle Speed was there.
1) Age of Steam – IGA winner; this and 18xx are what serious gamers consider to be “train games”
2) Amun-Re – Won DSP and Meeples Choice; considered by many to be Knizia’s last great game
3) LotR: The Confrontation – IGA and Meeples Choice winner; adored by fans of 2-player gaming
4) Coloretto – a la carte winner; very popular filler, which many consider to be Schacht’s best
5) Alhambra – This SdJ winner (and DSP runner-up) has shown it has staying power
Larry says – Many of the year’s most successful games were redesigns of existing titles. These include Alhambra (Stimmt So!), Domaine (Lowenherz), Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers (Carcassonne), Setters of the Stone Age (Settlers), I’m the Boss! (Kohle, Kies & Knete), Edel, Stein & Reich (Basari), and Canal Grande (San Marco). Of course, the year’s biggest hit was also a redesign of sorts–Age of Steam can trace its lineage to earlier Wallace titles like Lancashire Railways and Volldampf.
1) Age of Steam
3) Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
1) Puerto Rico – Maybe the easiest #1 pick of all-time.
2) Blokus – Particularly notable for its incredible penetration into the mass market.
3) Hammer of the Scots – The wargame for non-wargamers to try.
4) Wallenstein – Henn’s masterpiece elevates his profile and that of the cube tower.
5) Villa Paletti – Notable and memorable mostly for robbing Puerto Rico of the SdJ.
1) Puerto Rico – DSP and IGA winner; for many years, held title of “the greatest Euro”
2) Wallenstein – One of the earliest Euro/wargame hybrids, with a large fan base
3) DVONN – The most honored of Kris Burm’s GIPF games, with IGA and Games Magazine awards
4) Liberte – Wallace’s first hit game; the variable victory conditions got a lot of attention
5) Hammer of the Scots – IGA winner; top wargame of the year, with considerable crossover appeal
Larry says – Tom’s pick of Blokus is a good one. I should have included it in my list (although the fact that the Geek lists it as a 2000 design is a reasonable excuse). However, including Villa Paletti because of what it deprived ANOTHER game from doing is a clear sign of impending insanity.
1) Puerto Rico
3) Hammer of the Scots
Are these the right picks? What do you think about 2004 and whether it’s a tough year to pick for or not? Are you ready for 1997 to 2000 tomorrow? Would you rather compose a different question to yourself and then answer it? Why are there so many questions?