Notable Notables: 2005-2008

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.


Tom’s Picks

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.

Larry’s Picks

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!

Overlap Picks

1) Dominion

2) Le Havre

3) Pandemic

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.


1) Agricola

2) Race for the Galaxy

3) Brass



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.


1) Caylus

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.

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8 Responses to Notable Notables: 2005-2008

  1. Jimmy (BGG: Butterfly0038) says:

    I’m not sure how you can skip Resistance for 2008-2009. It took Werewolf and enhanced it with real deduction without adding a lot of fluff. Along those same lines, I would have expected to see Shadows Over Camelot in 2005 – 2006. While I may not like it, I think it’s one of the oldest boardgames with a traitor mechanic in it.

    i realize that you said at the outset that kid’s games would be under-represented, but Zooloretto in 2007 and Sorry! Sliders in 2008 really should have made the list. Zooloretto took a great game and turned it into one that works for kids and adults and has created a lot of expansions. Sorry! Sliders took the game we all knew as kids and combined it with Crokinole so that we could still play it with our kids without going nuts.

    On a side note, a personal favorite from 2005 is 1846. It’s an 18XX that plays almost like a Euro and, with experienced players, is playable in a little over 2 hours.

    • Tom Rosen says:

      We considered Shadows Over Camelot in 2004-05 so you may see it on tomorrow’s list…

      I hear you on The Resistance. It’s definitely a significant game that has influenced the hobby in the years since its release, but I’m not sure what I’d bump to make room for it.

      As for Zooloretto, as I alluded to and linked to when mentioning it above, I have a beef with that game due to its dubious SdJ win. Schacht has done so many better games in my view that were more deserving. Plus rehashing Coloretto into Zooloretto does not make the successor particularly notable in my book since it was the original that actually introduced the game, with the spin-off just rehashing it.

      But Sorry Sliders is an interesting point for sure. It was certainly all the rage when it came out, but it seems to have lost all that attention in the intervening years. Are people still playing and talking about Sorry Sliders. BGG has 17,480 total plays logged for the game, but only 40 for the month, which would suggest, if my math is right, that it has fallen off significantly. That’s how it was for me, lots of early plays before it got stale and was sold off. Maybe it still deserves a place here for all the attention it garnered at release though…

    • huzonfirst says:

      Jimmy, I think The Resistance illustrates the difficulties that small, indie games will have in an article like this one. It’ll be hard for them to get enough traction to do well in the awards and many times, they don’t get much play in the year they come out. It’s not even clear what year to use for The Resistance, since it was only a Print and Play in 2009. At any rate, as Tom says, it would be hard to figure out what game to remove to make room for it, since ’08-’09 was quite a strong year and so much of The Resistance’s candidacy stems solely from how influential it’s been in recent years.

      As for Zooloretto (which I would call a family game, not a children’s game), it’s probably maintained its appeal better than most SdJ winners. But it has a mediocre rating on the Geek and really didn’t do much else with awards other than the SdJ. I doubt it makes my top 10 most notable, much less my top 5.

  2. huzonfirst says:

    And in reference to Tom’s incredulousness over my leaving off Galaxy Trucker in ’07-’08: it was a toss-up between that and Year of the Dragon for the fifth spot. Both games have held up well over time. YotD did slightly better with the awards, so I gave it the nod, but it was a close call. However, neither one came close to knocking out any of the top 4 games on my list for that year, which I felt were considerably more notable.

  3. Eric Brosius says:

    Knizia winning the SdJ for Keltis is like Einstein winning the Nobel Prize for his work on the Photoelectric Effect. (Every school child knows about “Einstein and the Theory of the Photoelectric Effect.”)

  4. No love for Glory to Rome in 2005-6? Seems pretty enduring. Certainly more so than Shear Panic, which has nice bits but is bloody awful!

    • Tom Rosen says:

      Shear Panic was sort of my marker for Hameln, Antler Island, Poseidon’s Kingdom, Spellbound… and the general fascination with Fragor Games, which seem to often sell out on pre-orders due to the unique bits.

      But I agree that at least one of Carl Chudyk’s games belongs on the list… Glory to Rome, Innovation… FlowerFall (just kidding)… or maybe Impulse some day. He does have a unique and notable style that strongly appeals to a subgroup of the hobby (including myself when it comes to Innovation).

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