New Year, Old Year: 2016 Revisited

Day Two: Adorable!

What I Got Right!

The main success from this list is going to shock and amaze you. Ready? No, I don’t think you are. Take an extended gander at that image and get back to me. Do you know which game had the greatest staying power at the Thurot household?

Yeah, it was Happy Salmon. The one game to ever be featured on a Best-Week! list without a review.

It’s perfect. I’ve never had a bad experience with it, even when I nearly broke my finger trying to attract a pound. Or the time I ran cartoon-style into someone because we were trying to swap. As a bonus, it’s also basically exercise.

Other than that, there are some real winners here. The highlights are Kodama: The Tree Spirits and The Dragon & Flagon, both of which regularly appear on our table with particular sorts of guests. Kodama is the one we trot out whenever a specific friend’s wife shows up to game night. She loves this thing, and with its cross of cuteness and “count to ten mushrooms” gameplay, that’s no surprise. The Dragon & Flagon, on the other hand, is the game we play when we have exactly eight people. For one thing, that’s an underserviced number. More importantly, with a lot of brawlers this game is hilarious. Somebody always gets mad. Usually when you roll a barrel into them.

Not quite as high up the list sit both Mechs & Minions and Tiny Epic Western. The first is something I plan to return to when my daughter is a little older, since it’s a contender for my favorite programmed movement game, especially once things start going sideways and your mech starts spinning circles. Tiny Epic Western continues the tiny epic tradition of being two parts compelling and two parts consternating, but it’s managed to retain some of its appeal by being a pretty tight poker-’em-up. Too bad about the shootouts, though.

What I Got Wrong!

It’s a sorry state of affairs when two games published by Ryan Laukat fail to retain my interest. The first is Dingo’s Dreams, a gussied-up version of bingo, which is ninety percent adorable and ten percent, well, a variant of bingo where you’re moving around pieces to try and line up your spirit animal. I may try it out with my daughter in a year, but for now it’s been shelved.

Also from Red Raven Games is Ryan Laukat’s own Islebound. It had nothing in common with other ships & shipping games, but the similarity of setting made it harder for me to keep it around when I can’t even find time for Merchants & Marauders. Also, I’ve discovered that Ryan Laukat games sell like gangbusters about six months after they’ve shipped.

The final downturn of the year is Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden Game from Todd Sanders, which only counts because I gave the game away to a friend and he never really mentioned it again. At any rate, it’s my understanding that we’ll be seeing this one in a final published form rather than print-and-play in the near future, so it’s possible that Cabbagehead, Eudora Brassica, and Horace Savoy-Brassica will soon make a roaring comeback.

Score: 5/8

Next up, the best iterative games of 2016 and whether they still stack up.

Posted on February 10, 2018, in Board Game, Lists and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Happy Salmon is a true winner, never fails to warm up a crowd!

  2. Ferox is one of my favorite games! I would love to hear your recommendations for similar or better games along that vein. Thanks for all the incredible game reviews and coverage—I look forward to your work and always enjoy your take on this hobby.

    • I’m not sure I would say anything is precisely like Ferox. But in terms of clever two-player card games, I’d rather spend time mastering Omen: A Reign of War, Codex, or Summoner Wars.

  3. Out of curiosity: how many times have you played Food Chain Magnate? I’m a bit surprised when you say “overrated” and wonders “overrated compared to what?”. It’s anyhow one of the most demanded game by my friends. As a big fan of both Pax Renaissance and Pamir (latter more accessible for new players and the former a notch more intriguing), I rate FCM as equal. It’s of course a matter of taste and no big deal.

    • I’ve played Food Chain Magnate eight times, and probably received three plays’ worth of enjoyment between them. Any game where you can lose on the first round, only to be locked into a three-hour purgatory before the game has the decency to conclude, is not going to rate highly in my book.

      Also, “overrated” does not mean “bad.” It means overrated. Food Chain Magnate is a perfectly decent game that garners more attention than the design merits.

      Though the same can be said of much of the BGG Top 100.

      • I respect your viewpoint. Yes, it might be a probability if the map becomes too funky. However we choose to evaluate the map before deciding to start a round and the shifting synergies between players usually makes it a tight race.

        Overrated or underrated? I only play what I think is fun and don’t have the knowledge to conclude anything beyond what I like and dislike. Among BGG Top 100? Games like Caverna are of no interest to me, as it in my taste becomes a pointless exercise of tons of options for no good logical reason, but if it’s overrated I don’t know.

        To conclude: thanks for your articles about the Pax games, because otherwise I might not have noticed them.

  4. Awesome list of games I will investigate once my pile of unplayed gets smaller.

  5. This is one of my favorite features in board gaming. I feel like too few people revisit titles down the road to see how they hold up and discuss them further when they’ve had more time to really sink in. I’m so glad you started doing this.

    • I’m glad you approve, Dale. With a thousand new games springing into existence every year, it’s too easy to ride the hype train. This is the sort of thing that keeps me grounded.

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