James Ponders 2011

It’s that time of the year again.  Yep, it is time to comb through those ole memory banks and dig up the most silky smooth of gaming experiences and avoid the tangled, knotted, bubble-gummed experiences that would be best cut off and left to grow anew.  With that thought here are the games that I liked the most from those released this past year.  In no particular order I present:

Kingdom Builder
A light and eminently replayable game.  It plays quick and doesn’t wear out its welcome.  Given the history of the game and its author I still don’t quite get the mantle of “Dominion: The board game”.  Ahh, but to each their own.

Castles of Burgundy, The
I may have mentioned that I am a fan of Feld.  In case I haven’t, I am a fan of Feld.  There, now you know I’m a fan of Feld.  This game is no exception.  It can be a bit on the long side with players prone to AP but I can put up with a bit of that.  It is one of those games that seem pretty difficult to understand at the outset but is really quite simple once the game is rolling.

Lancaster
Here is a fine example of a game where I am pursuing a particular strategy and I see what someone else is doing and say to myself “Why aren’t you doing that?”.  I just ignore myself and carry on.  Sometime I do ok and other times I ask myself “Why didn’t you listen to you?”  Lancaster is a very good game and I enjoy my own personal grilling.

Olympos
When I first played this I took a look at all the pieces in the game and thought I may have agreed too quickly if you know what I mean.  I like that the game moved very quickly and there was enough time to get done what I wanted to — barely.  I also enjoy the mechanism of spending time (a la Thebes).

Airlines Europe
Classicly classic.  I liked the very polished feel and look.  Not much to say except that it is great.

Pastiche
Before the game I have never considered myself a great connoisseur of fine art.  After the game I don’t consider myself a great connoisseur of fine art.  It is fun game that moves right along, is enough work to not take too lightly and it is fun.  I still don’t see how grey, brown, blue and black make red but hey what do I know?

Last Will
I rather enjoy this game quite a bit.  I keep thinking I’m doing better than before yet still end up in last place.  Crazy, I know.  There is a definite rhythm to the game.  Unfortunately I have no rhythm but the game does have a beat that I can dance to.

Strasbourg
Did I mention that I like….you get the idea.  I am also a fan of auction games even auction games like this that don’t punch you in the face for losing an auction.  It is a very orderly game and I like that aspect as well.  It seems clear at the start what it is you need to accomplish.  You may not always be able to do it but it sure is fun to try.

Vanuatu
This is one of those games that need a second playing or two to really grasp what is going on… or should I say what is going to go on.  I played the friendly three player game and by that I mean not the street-hockey-in-the-mean-streets-of-Detroit-after-10pm game also known as the five player game.  I can see how people might get frustrated with the game.  I can really see that.  I did however know that going in and I had a great time getting stomped into the ground like so many weasels on weasel stomping day.

Walnut Grove
Thank you Lookout Games for another fun, light and quick game.  I like placing workers and I also like sending workers to go shop for me.  Nice.  It is a game that has that feeling that once you get things going the game is over.  Also nice (sometimes.. including this time.)

Coney Island
Schacht has really had some great games from where I sit.  His games tend to be on the light strategy side.  This game is no exception.  I like the soft cushions in my chair.  This is a soft cushion.  I may not always use the soft cushion but it is nice to have around.

Hawaii
Hawaii, the game, is much like Hawaii, the state.  Why?  I’m glad you asked.  There is a lot to see and do and by the time you get half of it done you have to fly back the grey skies of northern Ohio in the winter.  It feels familiar yet feels unique too.  I enjoyed this one.

Rapa Nui
Finally an Easter island game that works!  I wasn’t sure what to think about this one but I was pleasantly surprised by this little gem.

If you haven’t played these games yet then you should.  If you have, congratulations, just be sure to invite me to your next game!

James M. Miller

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One Response to James Ponders 2011

  1. Doug says:

    Amusing. Only played three of these. Please write more, James :)

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