Its been a while since I posted any actual content on
ye olde UG list, but the year has expired and I feel
compelled to comment on how I spent 2004 gamewise -
especially since much of it was done with many of the
I realize that competing with the high quality posts
stuffing our inboxes from the UG list will be tough.
Its hard to beat session announcements from Groton, CT
and Phoenix games just to name a few, but I'll give it
I used to make it a practice to share monthly thoughts
on what I was playing in a top ten format. These
lists represented what I had the most fun playing
during the given time frame. It didn't mean the games
were destined for greatness, year end awards, or
canonization - all things that I'm far from acheiving
myself (except canonization).
Given a lack of creative verve, I'll fall back to old
habits and provide a review of what provided the most
fun while at the game table this year whether said fun
is attributable to the games themselves or the sorry
lot of competitors that I often choose when playing
To provide some numeric perspective, I chose these
games out of 227 different games played during the
So without any further adieu here they are....
#10 - San Juan: Picking up where Puerto Rico left off
is San Juan. It plays faster and provides different
challenges depending on the number of players. I
played the heck out of it early in the year though it
has seen little play since June. I doubt it will show
up much in '05.
#9 - Saint Petersburg: A game that was played to
death in a short span of three months. St. Petes was
downright addicitive. Often you would wrap up another
and here calls to immediately "run it back." For
those slugs among us who are scratching your heads
wondering what the heck "run it back" means, get off
your backsides and go play some hoops. I won't kill
you - I promise.
#8 - Memoir '44: I enjoy Battle Cry, but I enjoy
Memoir '44 more. There is something very satisfying
about taking the tougher position in a scenario and
trying to win. With some scenarios, this is a
particular challenge. There have been times playing
this game that I have wanted to crush the dice like
the bad guy in Octopussy after Bond beats him at
backgammon. Can we all agree that Roger Moore should
have stopped after this one?
#7 - Boomtown: I'm not sure if this one has any type
of staying power. I ignored it during its first month
or so after its release. It wasn't even on my list of
new games I'd like to try. But eventually it hit the
table causing a lot of snivelling and whining. Much
to our surprise it was fun. It wasn't deep or
terribly fresh - just fun. Too often this is
#6 - Leapfrog: Simple concept, simple game. Great for
six players which is a huge plus. Watching the lead
player going into the third round splash his frog into
the frying pan is a delight. Too bad the frying pan
replaced the heron though - yes, originally it was
supposed to be a big bird.
#5 - Tanz der Hornochsen: A hateful game. You have
absolutely no control with the full complement of
eight players, but with the right group who cares. If
you've made a New Year's resolution to stop swearing
while playing games, then don't play this.
#4 - Sole Mio: Unlike Boomtown, I was looking forward
to trying the Mamma Mia follow up. Many have
complained that it isn't as good as the original.
Hogwash. The help from your neighbor is a great touch
and adds interesting choices to the game during a
phase when previously you just sat around listening to
someone besmirch Italians everywhere with a bad
#3 - Ave Caesar: I never said this was a list of the
best new games of the year. If you have one
overpriced, overproduced out of print game in your
collection, it should be this one. Belongs at the top
of the list of best games to introduce to non-gamers -
kids too. Played it a half dozen times throughout the
year and wish I played it another half dozen more.
#2 - Nobody But Us Chickens: Another game that
slipped under my radar. Causes swearing, dirty looks,
rude gestures, head scratching, hitting, and violent
thoughts. Also works great with kids and non-gamers.
It has a poor play benchmark set by Adam from early in
the year. I can't remember his score, but it was low
- real low. Impossibly so.
#1 - Ticket to Ride: Can't remember the last time the
SdJ winner landed on my most fun list or even my top
10 most played list, or any other number of lists that
I might care to compile. It saw regular play all year
and I bet that it will see more in '05. It passes the
Mom test as well.
Lots of light games on this list which I guess is the
nature of the beast. Reef Encounter, Die
Weinhandler, and YS all impressed. Einfach Genial was
the best abstract game of the year for me. Heroscape
made a big splash as well.
That's all for now.
Craig W. Massey
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