Cardboard Children: Boardgame Of 2011

By Robert Florence on January 14th, 2012 at 6:06 pm.


Hello youse,

Welcome to my first column of the year, and in time-honoured games website tradition I’ll be using it to write a list of some sort. It will be a list, and it will be a list detailing my favourite games of 2011. I will even list them in order of preference, culminating in one itemised entry that I will declare the “winner”, in a sense. Indeed, I will call this column THE CARDBOARD CHILDREN GAME OF THE YEAR 2011, and invite you all read it.

I will invite you all to read it below.

INT. AWARDS CEREMONY THEATRE – NIGHT
A variety of big names in the board game industry walk up the red carpet.
We see REINER KNIZIA in a backless dress. He turns and smiles at the paparazzi, internally calculating the number of flashes from the cameras.
And there’s PHIL EKLUND, over with the fans. He’s on a fan’s mobile phone, explaining the rules of High Frontier to the fan’s baffled mother.

MUSIC IN:

VO: And here is your host! The star of Ironclad and Solomon Kane, available on Blu-Ray NOW! It’s JAMES PUREFOY!!

JAMES PUREFOY enters, goes to the podium.

JAMES PUREFOY: Haha! Jesus, they actually have awards for these things now? Unbelievable. I’m only here for the first few minutes, don’t worry. I have some ridiculously attractive 33 year old blonde London-based actress women to make love to. And, well, frankly it stinks in here. So let me announce your sub-host, the sub-human God of Games – Robert Florence!!!

ROBERT FLORENCE enters.

“Hello everyone, my name’s Robert Florence, and welcome to my Game of the Year 2011. Tonight we will celebrate a truly remarkable year in gaming. The quality level was about as high as Fantasy Flight staff must be when they write those rulebooks.”

LAUGHTER.

“Seriously, Fantasy Flight’s quality control really went downhill in 2011, huh? Can you believe that they released more apologetic press releases than they released expansions?”

LAUGHTER.

“Also, this year we saw lots of board games make the move to a release on iPhone and iPad. I’m sure playing around with some appropriate touching made a change for all you fucking creepy paedo board game weirdos, huh?”

AWKWARD SILENCE.

“Let’s get on with the show!”

Two awards tonight, with the first one for EXPANSION of the year.

THE NOMINATIONS

Chaos in the Old World: The Horned Rat
Cosmic Conflict
Cyclades: Hades
Dust Tactics: Core Set

AND THE WINNER IS….

This was an easy choice for me. First of all, it has to be said that The Horned Rat was a great expansion. It allowed a fifth player and introduced a new god without totally fucking up the balance of the game. But here’s what I’ve found – I prefer Chaos with four. I think four is the sweet spot, and a fifth player makes the game just a bit TOO stressful. It’s still a fine achievement as expansions go. Cosmic Conflict added more brilliant content to a game that might be the greatest game of all time. Just keep expanding, and I’ll keep buying. Dust Tactics: Core Set is not REALLY an expansion, but kinda is. It’s a new starting point for my favourite tabletop dice-chucking battle game. I’ve already spoken about how much I love Dust: Tactics, so there’s no surprise in its nomination here.

But then there is our winner – CYCLADES: HADES

Wow. I love Cyclades. I’ve never had one bad game of Cyclades. It’s always tight, always fun, and always fast. Hades came along and kicked things up a gear by adding magical items, new monsters and a new god who lets you send undead warriors alongside your troops. It’s the perfect example of a great expansion – it adds more variety and more fun, without increasing the complexity of the game. Cyclades is a beautiful, modern design and Hades is the cherry on the cake.

ALL HAIL HADES!

GAME OF THE YEAR 2011 – THE RUNNERS-UP

5. STAR TREK: FLEET CAPTAINS

Wow. Who saw this coming? A big Star Trek themed space exploration game, full of combat and secret missions and dice-chucking and cards. Complaints about the quality of the components seem insignificant when you consider what you have on the table – a theme-rich Star Trek game done right. A head-to-head exploration game that feels very simple and very deep. I’ve already covered this game, so please look back if it tickles your fancy. Here’s a game that seems to have been designed for all the right reasons. “Wouldn’t it be cool if this happened? Wouldn’t this be amazing?!” A game with a lot of heart.

4. MERCHANTS & MARAUDERS

This is your pirate game. No question. You want to be a pirate? This is your game. In M&M you take command of a ship and do whatever you want. Do you want to trade goods between islands, and advance yourself as a lawful merchant? Do it. Do you want to listen for rumours in the island taverns and sail around as some kind of seafaring hero? Do it. Do you want to fuck up the plans of everyone else at the table by sinking them and all their worldly possessions to the ocean floor? Do it. This game allows players at the same table to play the game they want to play. Are you more of a Eurogamer? Do you prefer trading and building? Fine, be a merchant, grow your ship, and trade to your hearts content. Do you like chucking dice and blowing holes through things? Fine, be a pirate so you can hunt and be hunted. It’s a fun, medium complexity game that is perfect for three players, and maybe runs a little bit long at four. This is your pirate game. This is it.

3. PRET-A-PORTER

Man, we love this game. Pret-A-Porter has you running your own fashion design business. It’s a business game, an economy game, and those kind of games I usually avoid like the plague. But you all know that I love theme. If a game claims to have a certain theme, and I play that game and FEEL it, I’m going to give credit where it’s due. Pret-A-Porter feels, don’t laugh, exactly like running a fashion house.

You prepare collections for a number of fashion shows. At each show, different qualities will be most important. One might reward you for better PR, another might reward you for higher quality clothes, or another for being on trend. You have to build your business and your collections and choose which areas to focus on at which times. Want to court the journalists? Build a banquet hall so you can bribe them with food (Trust me- ask anyone at RPS – food works). Want to get more press coverage? Hire a superstar model. Do you need a short term contract with some TV channels? Fine, but you better have a negotiator to extend those contracts. Do you have all the materials you need to make that collection of evening wear? You better hire an accountant to balance the books before you see your credit advisor about an interest-free loan until after the next show. What? You don’t HAVE a credit advisor? Oh dear.

This game is so sweet. It seems complex, but is really smooth once you have the rules down. The game has the same feel that something like Agricola has, where you can only do so much in a turn when you feel you need to do so much more. It’s tense, exciting, brain-burning and it swings back and forth beautifully. In my last game, my girlfriend failed to bring a collection to the first show – a disaster. She ended up DESTROYING me by totally nailing the flow of the loan-repayment thing to develop her business into a self-manufacturing material house of DEATH.

Honestly, this game is being ignored because of the theme. The reason why we have so many trading, farming, fantasy and space games and so little variety of theme is because people shy away from games like this. Don’t make that mistake.

2. ASCENDING EMPIRES

In a normal year, Ascending Empires would be the game of the year by a mile. But 2011 was no normal year. I’ve covered this space empire building and flicking game in an earlier column, but a few things need repeated. Ascending Empires gives you ALL the things you want from a space conquest game, and adds an extra layer that never fails with any player I’ve ever played with. “How do you move your ships? What? You flick them?!” And this game just moves at a ridiculous pace. Zero downtime, it flies around the table. Often you’ll take your turn, take a sip of a drink and then someone will be nudging you to take your next turn. It’s THAT fast. An unmissable, hilarious thing. A game that needs played at least once before you inevitably die.

1. KING OF TOKYO

This was tough. King of Tokyo was almost the game of the year. If the game of the year was measured by how many times a game has hit the table, KoT would be wearing the cardboard crown right now. This is another game I’ve covered before. It’s a game that is perfect for any group, at any time, at any level of sobriety. It’s Yahtzee with monsters and Cosmic Encounter style powers. There are very few games that you can recommend to everyone without any hesitation, but this is one of them. It’s just a winner. Rolling big chunky green dice, storing energy and building up points, hitting your friends with a spray of acid from your throat. What else do you need from a game? This bad boy will be around for a loooooong time.

THE GAME OF THE YEAR 2011 – MAGE KNIGHT

Well. Here’s a thing.

On any other website in the universe, Mage Knight might be a difficult game to explain. I’d probably be writing pages and pages, trying to explain how this game works and feels. But here, on RPS, it’s easy. Mad easy.

Mage Knight is King’s Bounty on a table.

I know you’re probably ordering it already, but I’ll keep typing anyway. In Mage Knight, you take a character on an adventure across the hexes of a modular map.

On this map you will find:-

- Keeps that you can conquer and control
- Monster Dens that you can “clean out”.
- Dungeons that you can explore.
- Mage Towers that you can conquer, to bend the wizards to your will.
- Villages where you can recruit help, or pillage like a bastard.
- Monasteries where you can learn new skills. Or you can burn them down like a bastard.
- Roaming bands of enemies you can defeat to increase your reputation
- Mines full of magical crystals.
- Cities you can assault and lead.

And MORE.

There’s so much to do in this game. You won’t even encounter all these things in every game, so every adventure takes a different shape. There are a number of scenarios for you to play through, each very different, and some of them co-operative. But what makes this game special is how you play it.

You do everything with cards. Each character has his own Deed Deck. It starts with 16 cards, and the cards allow you to do all the basic stuff your character needs. One card might give you 3 move points. One card might give you an attack of 2. From your hand of cards, you play a sequence of cards that let you carry out your plans for that turn. Every card can be played on its side for a basic value of 1. So, if you have no move cards in your hand, you can play an attack on its side for 1 movement. You can also use mana to power these cards, making the effects stronger. This mana comes from a central source everyone can use, or from crystals you’ve stored.

As your character develops, more cards will come into your deck. Here is where your mind will start to explode, and your leg will start to excitedly bounce. New skills come on cards. Spells come on cards. Artifacts you find are cards. And all of these come into your deck, and into your hand, and expand your options to a ridiculous extent. You can play a card to allow you to use extra magic from the source, which allows you to power another card which lets you turn magic of another colour into a crystal, which in turn lets you power an attack that can be charged by another card into an even STRONGER attack to defeat a FUCKING DRAGON.

Oh man. It IS hard to explain. I don’t want you all thinking this is a deck-building game. It isn’t. It takes the best aspects of deck-building games and adds it to an enormous fantasy adventure game. When you get hurt in Mage Knight, you take Wound cards. These get added to your deck. The more hurt you get, the greater the chance you’ll draw a hand full of useless wound cards that let you do nothing. It’s genius. Of course, there are abilities and powers that let you use Wounds too. There’s everything in this game, a whole world in that box.

There’s so much more to tell you. I want to tell you about the enemies that are fortified in those Keeps, and how the combat works. How you will play those cards to siege a castle wall, or play them in an amazing combo that turns an unassailable encounter into a cakewalk and you into a roaring fool. I want to tell you about the PvP battles, and how you can take an opponent’s Keep from them. I want to tell you about how there’s a Day/Night cycle that genuinely affects everything you do in the game. I want to tell you about how your character will level up, and how you will choose exactly how your character develops. I want to tell you about the troops you can command, and how they will die for you in battle with your enemies. And I want to tell you about how those same troops will refuse to help you burn down a monastery, because it’s an evil act.

However much I’ve told you here, there is so much more in the box. I’ve probably forgotten all the cool stuff. Haha! Seriously! My God. Where do you start with this?

Mage Knight is a staggering game. It’s one of those games you can only step back and admire as a thing of beauty, a work of art. The elegance of the card mechanics is matched only by the excitement they generate when you start to realise exactly how it all works. You are being given tools, and you are choosing how to use them. Many times you will play a hand of cards with a niggling feeling in the back of your head that you could have played them better, smarter. You’re not rolling a dice and hoping you hit an enemy in this game, you’re rolling ideas around your head and hoping they land the right way up. A die won’t defeat your enemies. YOU will. It’s all in your hands. It’s a masterpiece. I can’t believe how good it is. Haha! Seriously!

And one more thing. It’s also the magic ticket. What do I mean by that? Well, every time I do these columns, someone says they would love to try these games but they have no-one to play with. Read this next sentence…

MAGE KNIGHT IS AS GOOD WITH ONE PLAYER AS IT IS WITH TWO, THREE OR FOUR.

No lie. No bullshit. So here it is. Here is your solitaire fantasy board game, if you want it. The Game of the Year 2011, with no excuses not to try it. You know what to do.

You won’t believe how good it is. Haha!

.

68 Comments »

  1. siegarettes says:

    I wish I had friends that I see often enough and were interested in board games enough to play these with. Particularly King of Tokyo and Mage Knight.
    And while you claim Mage Knight is fun by yourself, the thought of sitting alone in a room playing a board game with myself is all sorts of depressing.

    • Rab says:

      I need to reply to this – I agree with the solo board gaming thing. It’s not for me at all. BUT Mage Knight is different. It feels like a puzzle sometimes, and is no different from playing something like King’s Bounty or Heroes of Might & Magic on your PC. View it as a single-player adventure game simulator thing or something, if it makes you feel more comfortable – but believe me. It works. Miles from depressing. Just a JOY.

    • Sweedums says:

      yaknow what, you’ve done it rab, you’ve made me decide to buy a board game… now, just to see how much mage knight cost- OH MY GOD ITS £60 ON AMAZON I CAN’T AFFORD THAT…

      ah well, i might just have to wait for my birthday in april…

    • WotevahMang says:

      Yeah wtf is with the price on this game? Is it out of print or something?

    • apachebreak says:

      Came in to type “SOLD” re Mage Knight. Then saw,

      “I need to reply to this – I agree with the solo board gaming thing. It’s not for me at all. BUT Mage Knight is different. It feels like a puzzle sometimes, and is no different from playing something like King’s Bounty or Heroes of Might & Magic on your PC. View it as a single-player adventure game simulator thing or something, if it makes you feel more comfortable – but believe me. It works. Miles from depressing. Just a JOY.”

      Fuc*ing DOUBLE SOLD!!!!!

      Edit – *tears* £60.

    • AKBell says:

      It’s pricey but you get loads of stuff in it. Lovely, lovely stuff. That you can touch. With your hands.

      But just your hands, yeah?

      It depends what counts as value for you. It’s £60 for a lot of hard work put into a box for you to enjoy. To enjoy as often as you want. Or flog on eBay or BoardGameGeek because it’ll probably keep it’s value since it’s a box of lovely stuff that will eventually go out of print.

    • Sweedums says:

      im sure it is totally worth that £60, but the fact remains that I just don’t have a spare £60 on hand right now :(

      it really is a shame though because it really does sound rather fun and I might even be able to persuade some friends to try it with me…

    • Space_Masters says:

      So is Mage Knight a co-operative game or is it every mage and knight for himself?

    • bill says:

      Not much more than the cost of a PC game (especially a collector’s edition with pointless junk you’ll stick in a cupboard) is it?

      Not that it’s cheap.

    • JorduSpeaks says:

      Re: the MKBG price.

      There are actually two things driving up the price here. First, the original print run of the game, which was meant to last a year, was sold out in the first month. That means that game retailers are having to do the best they can with an increasingly dwindling supply, while articles like this one spread awareness of the game. They will be printing more soon, and you can expect a price drop when they do, but you should also be prepared for the price to continue to rise until the additional product makes it into the hands of retailers.

      Secondly, my understanding is that the £60 is heavily influenced by the VAT, so people living outside of Europe may be able to find it cheaper.

  2. pakoito says:

    No vassal module for MK makes me sad :(

    If you people feel like playing summoner wars online for free, etc… give me a call on the forums ;)

  3. Rab says:

    Can I just add one more line that I should have put after that King’s Bounty one?

    “But better.”

  4. HexagonalBolts says:

    Mage Knight sounds awesome! Alas, in real life, I know nobody in Manchester who is as unbearably geeky as I am but who yet still retains enough core social functions for the idea of playing something with other real human beings to seem even remotely appealing to them…

    • Rab says:

      But- But-

      But I just said-

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      haha, I’d need other people to split the £60 with! I’m a stinky student.

    • Coffeespoons says:

      I’m just down the road in Lymm and unashamedly geeky enough to have a go at this.

  5. wodin says:

    Hex I live in Melling but sadly can’t drive..otherwise we could have been gaming buddies. Though the only game I own for two player is the monster Battle For Normandy and also Wings of War deluxe set (neither of which have been played) but if I had a regular gaming buddy I’d buy loads more, so I understand where your coming from Hex.

    MK sounds good tough as it’s good solo. I usually find though games that a really good solo are actual games designed for solo play rather than some solo rules tacked on like many games have.

    Steel Wolves and D Day Omaha are two solo boardgames I fancy getting at some point.

  6. iGark says:

    A good addition to these articles would be including the retail price of the board games you recommended.

  7. Jorum says:

    Oh dear another five entries to my BGG wishlist. Between you and Quinns I’ll end up destitute. (Gloriously happy with my piles of tokens and cards, but destitute)

    As people at raising the no-one to play with issue again I’ll plug this for anyone in Hertfordshire. http://www.meetup.com/Stevenage-Boardgame-Club

  8. Vinraith says:

    I wonder what percentage of board games (of the sort discussed here, not the family stuff) that are purchased are never actually played? I bet it’s pretty damn high.

    • Jamison Dance says:

      No where near as high as the percentage of PC games that go unplayed, I bet.

    • Vinraith says:

      Perhaps not, but then PC games are $5 and these are $50 or $60.

      I just know that a lot of folks horde neat-sounding board games in the hopes of one day having a group to actually play them with. At least with PC games the only obstacle to playing them is yourself, having to find a group you like, with an interest in the same kinds of games as you, and then schedule a session… that’s a pretty significant challenge for a lot of people.

    • Kaira- says:

      I luckily have only one board game that I haven’t played, but unfortunately it’s the one I so desperately want to play. For some reason people don’t want to play a card-game based on Inquisition. Apparently because it was made by a local company. :(

      For anyone interested, the BoardGameGeek site for the game.

    • ZeroMatter says:

      Oh. Looks fun. I even like the theme. (Especially the torture cards…)
      Shame on your friends for not wanting to play it with you.

      And it’s even a card game, and not 5 hour strategy game monstrosity…

    • JorduSpeaks says:

      The worst part is when it’s something like Heroscape, and you spent 4-5 hours setting up the damn thing before everybody flakes.

    • Josh W says:

      Eh, I’ve played every boardgame I’ve bought within a week of getting it. Actually I’ve played every boardgame some of my friends have bought within a week of them getting them.

      Just say “I’m thinking of buying this boardgame called _____” to your friends a week before you buy it, and your own curiosity will leak a little bit, so by the time you have it in your hands you’ll find someone to play it with!

      This is assuming you know awesome people, but you probably do.

  9. Moraven says:

    Got Star Trek: Fleet Captains for my fiancee over the holidays. Blast to play. I lost both games as Klingons. =/ Look future to future plays. Now to go order Mage Knight and King of Tokyo…

  10. McDan says:

    Oh how I love your writings mr Florence and of course James Purefoy as well. Amazing.

  11. ulix says:

    New games I’ve played this year and found very good:

    - (Castles of) Burgundy: like many Stefan Feld games this one has a nice, innovative dice mechanic.
    - Cyclades: very good, relatively simple strategy/war-game that scales nicely and has a cool “variable player powers” mechanic.

    Both these games are medium heavy, so you could probably play them with non-nerds also.

    Thinking about getting Eclipse (or maybe Dominant Species) when its German reprint is available.

  12. AKBell says:

    I’ve been wanting Ascending Empires for a long while now but I can’t find it in stock anywhere. Does anyone knows of somewhere selling?

  13. Renfield says:

    Rab, for what it’s worth, you’re making me consider that Mage Knight game over pre-ordering ME3. Fantastic column in general, by the way! Always a pleasure to read. :D (Thought I might as well say it, since I only comment once in a blue moon.)

  14. Laiko says:

    Hey Rab, would you please do a written review on chaos in the old world (or the expansion). I know youve got the video review, but this game needs as much exposition as possible, it’s already been falling in the rankings on bgg.
    It needs to get so successful that it becomes the national pastime of an entire southeast asian country, so that then i can move there and play it like a maniac until they show me on television acting all cool-headed and apathetic while being surrounded by hordes of screeching (preferably) female groupies.

  15. Coffeespoons says:

    I don’t suppose someone would save the rest of us some time and post some links to some reasonably priced UK suppliers of these games please?

    EDIT: thanks for the links guys

  16. veerus says:

    Eclipse not even nominated??

  17. Ergonomic Cat says:

    Well, there goes $400 or so picking the ones I’m missing up. THANKS.

  18. BlackestTea says:

    I do have to say the MK board game intrigues me, but it also makes me sad
    I’m not sure this means something to any of you, but some 6 years back, I used to play a LOT of Mage Knight, the original miniature tabletop strategy game. The company ruined it by releasing a new edition of miniatures with new abilities which practically made all previous miniatures useless as they were not able to employ all the new stuff. Everyone quit the game, people who were fast enough sold their miniatures (mine are still in my cellar) and the franchise died.
    Now apparently they are trying to repopulate the franchise with this board game, set in the same universe. It makes me glad to see that dear piece of fiction revived, but it also brings back all the anguish of having your dearest tabletop hobby destroyed by its own creator. I think I shall tiptoe around it a bit more. I’m glad to hear though that it is such a good game in the end!

    • bill says:

      What’s wrong with sticking a postit note on an old miniature that says it’s a cool new miniature.

      Back when I used to play 40k most of my miniatures were repurposed from other games or used to symbolize other units.

      “No, that’s not Griff Oberwald, that’s Leman Russ! “

  19. Wedge says:

    Mage Knight sounds great because I anything that removes dice from the combat mechanic of games is a winner to me.

  20. Darko Drako says:

    I played King of Tokyo for the first time tonight. I bought it for my wife for her birthday, based on Mr Florence’s recommendation. It is an excellent game; fun, silly and easily accessible. I was playing with a group of non-gamers and everyone loved it. Thanks Rab!

  21. Duke of Chutney says:

    Ascending Empires is pretty good, haven’t played any other the others on the list. Im interested in MK but will hold off getting it yet. I actually bought AE as my first game based on this column or its brother

    Also Phil Eklands High Frontier is better than AE

  22. Treebard says:

    I really wish there was a way to try games out before you plunk down the money from them. As it stands, they’re so pricey I need to be really choosey…

    Anyway, I appreciate that you made a point to pick the best expansion of the year, Rab. Good stuff.

  23. mmalove says:

    Also on an unrelated note, sometimes I stay up till 4am here, and wonder if I stay up just a tad longer, if RPS will start posting the next day’s news before I go to bed…

  24. Noise says:

    Can’t wait to get Cyclades: Hades but nowhere seems to have it in stock at the moment. Cyclades is definitely my favorite boardgame so far.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Makariel says:

    I just ordered Mage Knight. I can play alone and all but I think I should still find some other nerds to play with :-)

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Well, I can’t imagine you finding any fellow nerds here on RPS. Nope, none at all. But just in case a stray nerd happens to have wandered on here by accident it might be worth posting the general area you’re in.

    • Premium User Badge

      Makariel says:

      The general area would be the Den Haag area in the Netherlands. I imagine there might be some boardgame nerds somewhere hidden behind a canal, but they are a rather elusive bunch at times ;-)

  26. bill says:

    “Hello everyone, my name’s Robert Florence”

    IMPOSTOR!!!!

  27. Temple says:

    Some timesaving for people, and some trying out of games
    Cheapest I found so far, don’t really want to tell you about it as sometimes they have great limited deals -have used them many many times to add to my stock of unplayed games.
    http://www.boardgameclub.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=92_196&products_id=22850&zenid=72e9ec8378347f6ea9f376b67c4d43e9

    http://www.boardgameguru.co.uk/mage-knight-10643-p.asp
    London Based shop who used to run the London on Board gaming group before we pissed him off too much :)
    Which leads to a RPS boardgame meet up thread, the Londoners use the London on Board group a lot.
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/group.php?groupid=5
    (not as active as it used to be, I blame the leader who is a bit of a fool)

    Wow look Blood Bowl Team Manager is out, I haven’t been paying attention
    http://www.boardgameclub.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=199_882&products_id=22386&zenid=72e9ec8378347f6ea9f376b67c4d43e9

  28. malexmave says:

    Hmm.
    *Looking up Cosmic Encounter on Amazon.de*
    Waaah 60 €
    *Looking again*
    German Version 20 €.
    *scratches head*
    Seriously, I hate playing games in German, although it’s my native language. But I’m not paying an extra 40 bucks just for it to be english.

    • ulix says:

      You do know that many games are originally German?
      Germany being the Mekka of Boardgames, most designers coming from Germany and Germany being the (by far) biggest boardgame market in the world?

      Not Cosmic Encounter, granted.

    • ZeroMatter says:

      “Seriously, I hate playing games in German, although it’s my native language. But I’m not paying an extra 40 bucks just for it to be english.”

      20 Bucks? There has to be a mistake. The Fantasy Flight version doesn’t even exist in german. I know it for sure, because I had to order it from the UK maybe 8 months ago – and I just looked again on Amazon – No Cosmic Encounter in sight.

      The expansions (in english) cost 20 EUR.
      And of course the Avalon Hill version – but that one has only 20(!) aliens instead of 50, doesn’t look nearly as good, and has no expansions.

    • ulix says:

      Oh, and there seemingly is no German version. Link to Amazon please?

    • malexmave says:

      Well sh*t. It’s the avalon Hill version. There is exactly no place where the limitations are mentioned. Not on Amazon, not on ebay, …

      Damn. Looks like I’m spending 20 bucks on a game I dont really want.

      About games being originally german: I am playing mostly fantasy flight games (Battlestar, Lord of the rings, hopefully cosmic encounter soon). So yeah, there might be a lot of german board games, but I like the english ones better. And the english language, for that matter.

    • ZeroMatter says:

      “Damn. Looks like I’m spending 20 bucks on a game I dont really want.”

      You know, if you bought it on Amazon, you can always send it back.

      (Or just cancel the order, if that’s still possible.)

      And if you really want to buy the FF version, 68 EUR is a ridiculous price. I got it much cheaper from the UK, although it got lost somewhere along the way and took AGES to arrive.

      “So yeah, there might be a lot of german board games, but I like the english ones better. ”

      The german ones are mostly classical eurogames… I personally like the best of both worlds, so I don’t mind.

      “And the english language, for that matter.”
      German is kinda cheesy when it comes to some games, so I can relate. The only reason I prefer german is because I’ve got a couple of friends who don’t understand it that well. Playing Cosmic Encounter with them was not that easy…

  29. ZeroMatter says:

    Wanted to reply. Comment system didn’t agree.

  30. GrandmaFunk says:

    Went out and bought Merchants & Marauders yesterday after reading this and doing more research.

    The box contents were very nice and the rules were complex enough without being too heavy/convoluted..can’t wait to play my first game!

    thanks for the recommendation =)

  31. Fastkarate says:

    Saw this asked earlier in the thread, but not answered: what’s the depth of the co-op components in this game? Can it be played fully co-op, or does it usually descend into PvP by the end of the scenario?

    • NthDegree256 says:

      (Assuming you mean Mage Knight) The game has a variety of scenarios, several of which are fully co-op (although co-op only goes up to 3, not 4, players, because you need to use the 4th player’s pieces for a timing mechanism.)

      Co-op is actually probably the gametype we’ve played the most; the PvP rules are intimidatingly complex.

      This game is awesome, by the way.

    • Fastkarate says:

      Now to justify spending $80 on it!

  32. Shadowcat says:

    Interesting review/buyer’s guide for “Mage Knight”:

    http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/742409/dont-buy-this-game-if-8

  33. Prime says:

    May be able to find room for that Star Trek game…hmm

  34. cassus says:

    Eminent Domain was game of the year for me. Did 7 Wonders come out 2011 or 2010? can’t remember.. But if it was in 2011 it’s a close second. There’s something quite spectacular about Eminent Domain. Can’t quite put my finger on it, but the strategy and some of the stuff they took from Puerto Rico, or rather San Juan makes the game really fun and dynamic. Love that game, and if you’re into card games (not ccg’s, but just san juan/7 wonders/dominion style stuff) check out Eminent Domain. It’s quite easy to learn, and you can skim the book once and then start learning as you play. After an hour or so everyone knows the rules and start seeing some of the depth in the game. Wonderful learning curve in that game. I’ve yet to actually win a game, still I love it.