James Miller presents the Best Of 2010

Presented here is my take on the best games of 2010. While some will disagree it is my firm belief that 2010 is a “fine year indeed” for boardgames. The quality of the games are certainly the prime motivator for me making that statement but it is not the only reason. 2010 is also a year that we start to see an increase in reprints of some great classic games. Maybe it’s my general optimism shining through but I think 2010 was a “fine year indeed.”

There may not have been many super fancies this year but there have been lots of fancy games. Let’s take a look at what tickled my fancy this year.  

7 Wonders
This is a great game from last year and has proven its staying power in the many times that I have played it. In a nutshell it is a quick game that plays well with a wide variety of players. To those that say that with more players it becomes a bit sandboxish I say pish-posh. To those that don’t know the game (shame on you) Mr. Levy has a wonderful review of this gem here on OG.

When I first played the game I admit I didn’t know much about it. It seemed a bit weird for a game to be published at or near the same time as expansions for the game. I’ve grown more accustomed to it now that it is becoming more and more common. Ok I understand choosing your level of complexity but it is still weird to call them expansions. Anywho, while others will call it yawp (Yet Another Worker Placement) game I enjoying placing workers. This is a competitive, fun and fresh take on the genre and plays quickly. At least it seems that way. This is not some old tired game with a fresh coat of paint. It stands on its own as a first rate game of 2010.

Here is a another fine specimen of what is right with 2010. A light, quick game about building towers. I know, I know another game of tower building but it is fun. Maybe it is the Jenga gene but I enjoy it. It doesn’t overstay its welcome. It has some interesting optimization choices but doesn’t become over heavy. It is a game the family can enjoy. All of these come together to make one of the tops for 2010.

Stephan Feld has hit a home run with this game. Speaking of Stephan Feld, he is on fire, soon to join the Babe Ruths and Mickey Mantles of board game designers. Enough of the baseball metaphor because this has nothing to do with baseball or the moon for that matter. Feld’s designs, including this one, has enough weight to them to give them something to mentally bite into and enough variety to give that bite some flavor. Yum. Luna offers many different choices and offers a variety of valid ways to pursue victory. The games may be a bit longer but you won’t notice and no seventh inning stretch required.

I’ll start off by saying up to this point I haven’t really enjoyed any of the rondel games. That changed when I discovered Navegador. Maybe it was the theme, maybe it was the fact that the game seems to move right along. The rondel games seem to have one thing common, the action you just passed is the one you want to take next. Navegador is no exception. Fun, fiendish but fun. One of the things about the game I enjoy is the fact that the cadence of the game is under the control of the players somewhat. Games can be over like that (imagine me snapping my fingers) or can linger in a good way possibly requiring you to change your victory point acquisition plan.

Glen More
While this game hasn’t set the world on fire (nor do I imagine that it was meant to) it has emblazoned a place in this list. It is a different enough of a game that the mechanisms seem novel yet familiar. At the beginning of the game you have no idea how to begin but you quickly get drawn in and formulate a plan (especially after the first of three scorings!) The game has more to it that what would appear on the outside. While depth may not be well-worthy it offers some good choices and plays quickly. I will also say that I enjoy it more with fewer that the max (5) number of players. More Glen More please.

Many times games get panned for not having anything new. This game may not have anything astonishingly unique but I don’t think it gets its due. Games are more than the sum of their parts and I think that is true here. Going around collecting materials, filling contracts, getting victory points and managing cash may seem familiar but it is the way it is put together that makes the difference. Merkator is pleasant departure from some of the recent games from Mr. Rosenberg and something that floats to the top of 2010 for me.

Wok Star
Admittedly Wok Star is a little off of the beaten path but it is a pleasantly shaded path with a cool trickling stream running beside it. The high pressure cooperative element may not be for everyone but it is certainly quite a hoot. It is a theme that doesn’t get overdone and works quite well here. It has been well received every time I have played it and stands out in the games of 2010. It may not be one I grab for every session but when it does come out you can count on me for an egg roll or two.

Flash Point
Further on down the path that splits off of the path that branched from the path the is off of the beaten path is a little coop game called Flash Point (notice the space). It is a game where players work together to rescue people from a burning building before it collapses. That was the word I had in mind (collapse) when I was first asked to play it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It has a bunch random elements on more random elements with some action points thrown in. This is another case where the game is more than the sum of its parts. It is a very tense, nail biter of a game. Since it is a coop the random bits don’t feel so personal and add to the tension. If you are into cooperative games this is one of the better ones from last year.

The above examples are some stand outs from last year. There are also some other games from last year that I feel should be mentioned.
Firenze (need more plays but quite good so far)
Mines Of Zavendor (fun card auctioning)
The Spiecherstadt (bidding, money management)
Rattus (tactical rat avoidance)
Jagger und Sammler (We had joy, we had fun, we had a few mammoths in the sun)

Well that about sums it up for me.

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5 Responses to James Miller presents the Best Of 2010

  1. Dale Yu says:

    I’d never even heard of Flash Point! How did you come across it? Does it have replayability?


  2. huzonfirst says:

    Excellent job as always, James. I think from now on, whenever I am asked to give a short review of a game, I will respond “Pish-posh!”. I think that says it all!

  3. Greg Schloesser says:

    Your top four are also on my Top 10 list, but from there we diverge. However, I must repeat Dale’s question: What is “Flash Point?”

  4. Dale and Greg, I suggest taking a look at this site called BoardGameGeek. Admittedly the site is small and obscure, but sometimes it lists info on exactly the game about which you are curious.

  5. James Miller says:

    It was a game shown to me by Frank and Sandi. I will say that difficulty can be ramped up with the addition of firetrucks and ambulances so it has some replayability.

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