I played 71 "New to Me" games in 2010. Here are the top 10 and some reasons I liked them. Then I'll also tell you about my 2010 Dust Award, which goes to the worse game of the year.
10. Taktika - Take some wooden discs and mark them cavalry, infantry, and archers. Then clear your table and start flicking the discs at each other. You've now got Taktika. This disc flicking game is just great. At first when you play it, you think not a problem, I'll easily just flick with dexterity and precision, but that isn't the case. The game is as much about setting up your shot as it is your ability to flick the discs. I liked it so much that, since it isn't made anymore, I made my own version with wooden discs, some wood glue, stain, and a wood burner.
9. Macao - This one is part of a series of games that Krista and I collect, so I was going to buy it regardless. Good thing it turned out to be a winner! It uses dice in a very interesting way where it forces you to choose between getting something minimal now or waiting for a big pay off later. The problem is that if you don't take some minimal options you might never get the big pay off. A unique game.
8. Tammany Hall - I like mean games and this one is exactly that! This game takes place in 19th Century New York on one of the most beautiful and cool looking boards of any game I've ever played, not just in 2010. Basically you are trying to stack the vote in your favor by "encouraging" the different nationalities such as the Irish or Italians to vote in your favor in each election. The best part about this game is that if you win the election you get a relatively large amount of points, but you then have to give everyone else some real cool special abilities that they use against you. This is a great game. Another neat note about this game is that I know and play games with the owner of the publishing company who put this game out - Stratamax games. Sorta neat seeing it go from prototype to the real thing.
7. Cyclades - There are several things I like about Cyclades. First, the production. Every person has uniquely molded armies and ship and it came with 5 large monster figurines. Second, I absolutely love the auction mechanic in this game. When you are out bid for the god ability you want, you can't immediately rebid on that god, you have to bid on something else. This makes your initial bid very important. Third, I like the fact that basically only one person can attack each turn by land and only one person can attack by sea. It makes for some important bids each round. A great game.
6. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer - This is a deck building game that just feels free. It lets you do as much as you can possibly do on your turn and has a very quick set up time. Has quick game play is just fun to play. This isn't for strategy gamers as much it is for those tactical gamers out there who like to asses their best move this turn, do that move, and then see what happens next.
5. Diamonds Club - Sadly, this is the only game on the list that I or someone I play games with frequently doesn't own. I would own it, but it is like $60 here in the US, plus shipping, so I just can't bring myself to get it. This one's theme is about some high highfalutin' club and building parks and stuff like that. But the game play itself is great! It has a very interesting worker-placement mechanic that is in a way, almost an auction. IF you ever get a chance to play this one, make sure you do.
4. Hansa Tuetonica - Yes, the name sounds like someone farting in a huge manner. Yes, the board is uglier than an Orangutan's backside. Yes, this game is great! This is about as pure Euro as you get when it comes to board games. Just push some cubes around on the board. I've played several times and I'm still not sure what those cubes are supposed to represent. The game play though is engrossing and there seems to be a lot of different ways to win. This isn't a family game, but this is a game that you and your gaming buddies can enjoy using your brains on.
3. Founding Fathers - Creating the constitution of the US of A! Nothing could be more exciting. The way the cards work in this game is absolutely great and the tension you get by wanting a bill to pass, but at the same time wanting to be on the losing side in order to be sure that the bill taking place in the committee room passes in your favor makes the game. It plays in about 75 minutes and has been excellent with 3-5 players. This will remain in my collection for a long time.
2. Dungeon Lords - The theme ion this game is just great. You are a Dark Overlord defending your dungeon against adventurers. How do you do this? By hiring vampires & imps & trolls of course! Then sending them into the tunnels of the dungeon to fight those do-gooders. What I enjoy the most about this game, which is the mark of a great game, is that you feel behind the 8-ball the whole time. You always need more food to pay your monsters, more gold to buy traps, and more imps to mine your tunnels. It leaves you wanting to play again after each game.
1. 7 Wonders - This game crams what feels like a big time strategy game into 30-40 minutes of play time and it does it well! The two biggest things I enjoy about this game is the card drafting, which is just a fun mechanic and keeps everyone simultaneously involved in the game so there is little to no down time. Also, because of this you can play up to 7 players and the game still takes the same amount of time! With out a doubt a great buy for me this year!
Finally, the 2010 Dust Award. A few years ago I played a game called Dust and it was horrible. Since then each year, I call games that I don't like Dust games. For 2010 the Dust Award goes to...drum roll...Wars of the Roses: Lancaster vs. York. This was 3 hours of my life wasted. Basically all you do is blind bid the whole game. This wouldn't be so bad, but nothing stays! So you do all this blind bidding to put soldiers out there on the field, but even if you win or lose they all go away. Just horrible.