There’s nothing we here at iSlaytheDragon enjoy more than talking about the games we love. Reliving classic moments, discussing strategies or favorite mechanisms, teasing each other about the overabundance of theme (or distinct lack thereof) in the games that hit the table most frequently.
While our pick for Game of the Year of 2011 was unanimous and almost instantaneous, this year it took a bit of discussion. Which is great, because there were a lot of great games that came out this year, and we got to play a bunch of them! We wish we could pick all of our favorites for Game of the Year, but that would make the award pointless. In the end, we decided that one game stood out, excelling in all categories, just barely edging out the competition.
To lay out some of the details behind the choice, we only looked at games that released in 2012, give or take a few months back into 2011. In order to be chosen as the iSlaytheDragon Game of the Year, we had to have played and reviewed the game ourselves. And to make our final choice, we looked at a variety of categories, including gameplay, mechanisms, component quality, replayability, and fun factor. Of course every choice and every rating we make is a judgment call on our parts; if you disagree, that’s fine. Feel free to share your favorite game of 2012 in the comments.
Read on for the moment you’ve all been waiting for. And the winner is…
From the creators of Cosmic Encounter, Rex is a remake of the classic and ever-popular Dune board game, set in the Twilight Imperium universe. This trifecta of geeky salivation sounds like it could only end in disappointment. How could any game live up to the hype? Fortunately, Fantasy Flight Games is in top form here, with stellar components, excellent graphic design and art, and mechanisms that not only stay true to the original game, but make sensible improvements that–shocker of all shockers, coming from a company known for its industrial-length tabletop ventures–actually shortens the game to a reasonable two or three hours. It’s too bad the Dune license couldn’t have been secured for this remake, but the lovingly crafted TI-verse fits very well. The mixture of strategic resource-management and tactics, as well as the brilliant implementation of the combat dial, topped with the icing of wild and exciting player powers and a sprinkling of negotiation and betrayal, Rex turned out to be everything I hoped it would be. It doesn’t hurt that after almost a year of owning it, I’m still excited to play, unlike many games whose excitement wears off after a short time. –Futurewolfie (Check out our original review here.)
GLORY TO ROME: BLACK BOX EDITION
It turns out 2012 was the year of remakes. It may seem a bit silly to consider a game that first appeared on the scene in 2005 for a Game of the Year award in 2012, but with the black box’s significant component and artwork upgrades (upgrades, at least, to my taste), Glory to Rome is ready for prime time. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for card games anyway, but Glory to Rome is very near to card-game perfection. It has role selection (which I love), cards serving in multiple capacities, silly things to say when the legionary strikes (“Glory to Rome!”). Add to this ridiculously powerful, high-roller card powers that are somehow balanced and wrap it in a one-hour-or-less package, and you have found the way to my heart. Glory to Rome is not as epic as Rex, but it sees the light of more suns for that. Glory to Rome has a steep learning curve, but it is well worth the climb to understanding. Ave Caesar! –FarmerLenny (Check out our original review here.)
The Game That Got Away (@Futurewolfie’s pick): THE RESISTANCE: AVALON
After all the difficulties in picking the top two, how is it even possible to pick yet another game that stands out among the myriad of excellent games this year? There are a lot I could pick, but I’m going to have to go with The Resistance: Avalon. We haven’t had a chance to post our review yet, but we are certainly fans of the original game. In my opinion, this game really ups the ante. With improved components, a more accessible theme, and the addition of the special characters, Avalon stands on the shoulders of its predecessor. While the Merlin/Assassin additions are harder to grasp at first than the original game, the balance this adds, especially with larger groups, makes the game that much more fun. And it’s a lot easier to teach and learn than the somewhat complex plot card expansion from the original.
The Game That Got Away (@FarmerLenny’s pick): TOURNAY
So first I choose a game that released in 2005, and now I’m trying to sneak in an Essen 2011 game? Well, before you call shenanigans, understand that the American edition of Tournay did not arrive stateside until April or so. But, well, it was worth the wait. Tournay got a lot of buzz at first, but the hype train got derailed once people realized that the game is not Troyes. But you know what? I’m okay with that. Don’t get me wrong: I like Troyes quite a bit, but what with a baby arriving earlier this year, I don’t have a lot of opportunity to pull it out, and the rules explanation would put even someone who is operating on a full eight hours (note: not the new dad) to sleep. Tournay, while a completely different game from Troyes, takes some of the things I like about Troyes–the artistic style, event cards, different classes of citizens, and direct player interaction–mixes it with card drafting, worker placement, and city-building, and creates a fun, challenging, and satisfying package that plays well over a lunch hour. This game may be snubbed as Troyes’ annoying younger sibling, but I think this one will grow up to be a star.