Sunday, February 21, 2016

Obligatory End of 2015 Post Part II: The “Late-ies” Awards (Best of 2015)

Hey everyone, I’m back with the second post in my “End of 2015” series.  This one is going to focus on my “awards” for 2015.  This can be considered a pretty tongue-in-cheek award post due to the fact that I haven’t played even close to all of the games that were released in 2015.  This means that I can’t truly state what the overall best is, but I can make my assumptions and conjectures on these releases.  

Most of these categories are easy to decide even without having played them since most have to do with art and design rather that what is the best card game and such.  Before moving on to the awards, if you haven’t had a chance, check out my last post and the first of the series.  It is a simple post that focuses on my (and my wife Em) gameplay statistics from 2015.  It was an interesting exercise and really made me look at my games in a new light.  Just click the link below and enjoy!

Alright, with the entire preamble out of the way, let’s move on to the main event.  Thanks for reading and enjoy the first annual “Late-ies” Awards!

Best Overall Art
Second Runner Up – The Big Book of Madness (IELLO)
Runner Up – Above and Below (Red Raven Games)
Winner – The Gallerist (Eagle-Gryphon Games)

This category was kind of a no-brainer for me.  The overall art in The Gallerist is amazing.  Ian O’Toole did a great job with the art of the game as well as gathering the different artist’s work for the works of art.  I love what they did with this game and it was impossible for me not to give it to this beautiful game.

Best Card Art
Second Runner Up – Viceroy (Hobby World/Mayday Games)
First Runner Up – Mysterium (Libellud/Asmodee)
Winner – Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn (Plaid Hat Games)

This was a tough category for me.  I love card art and there are so many awesome artists and games with amazing card art that it was very difficult to choose.  I ended up going with the art in Ashes as it is right up my alley.  Fernanda Suarez is an amazing artist and I love absolutely everything she’s done in this game.  I can’t wait to see what she does with the expansions this year!

Best Board Art
Second Runner Up – The Voyages of Marco Polo (Z-Man Games)
First Runner Up – Antarctica (Argentum Verlag)
Winner – Bretagne (Placentia Games/Post Scriptum)

Bretagne took home the “Late-ie” for the best board art.  I absolutely love the look of this board with its simple layout but beautiful looking towns and lighthouses.  It is a great example of what I love in a board with its careful balance of beauty and simplicity.

Best Box Art
Second Runner Up – Above and Below (Red Raven Games)
First Runner Up – Bretagne (Placentia Games/Post Scriptum)
Winner – T.I.M.E. Stories (Space Cowboys/Asmodee)

The winner in this category was another no-brainer for my personal tastes.  I saw the box cover for T.I.M.E. Stories and I thought it was absolutely amazing.  The stark white box with the machine on the right side was just so perfectly done.  I love it!

Best Graphic Design
Second Runner Up – 7 Wonders: Duel (Repos Production/Asmodee)
First Runner Up – Oh My Goods! (Lookout Games)
Winner – The Gallerist (Eagle-Gryphon Games)

Again, The Gallerist was beautifully designed and the board/card/component graphic design is absolutely perfect.  Ian O’Toole did an absolutely amazing job and I hope this just gets him even more jobs for his amazing work!

Best Components
Second Runner Up – Mysterium (Libellud/Asmodee)
First Runner Up – Bottom of the Ninth (Dice Hate Me Games/Greater Than Games)
Winner – Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot (Portal Games)

This was a very difficult category.  There were so many great games that could have taken this category and so many more that could have been runners up.  In the end the “toy-like” components in Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot won it the “Late-ie” for Best Components.

Best Miniatures
Second Runner Up – Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King (Soda Pop Miniatures/Ninja Division)
First Runner Up – Blood Rage (Cool Mini Or Not)
Winner – Tail Feathers (Plaid Hat Games)

This was another tough category for me.  These days there are so many great miniature games being put out that it is tough to decipher the best of the bunch.  That being said, the incredibly clever tilt system of the birds in Tail Feathers is what won the day.  Awesome sculpts and clever design give Tail Feathers the “Late-ie” for Best Miniatures.

Best Artist
Second Runner Up – Vincent Dutrait (Discoveries/Broom Service/New York 1901/Raptor)
First Runner Up – Xavier Gueniffey Durin, a.k.a. Naïade (The Big Book of Madness/The Grasshopper & the Ant)
Winner – Fernanda Suarez (Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn)

Congratulations to Fernanda Suarez, the winner of the “Late-ie” for Best Artist of 2015.  She only had art in one game in 2015, but the art in that one game was absolutely amazing.  For a game the size of Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn there are usually multiple artists, but she did it all herself.  I think that Plaid Hat Games has a winner in this talented artist and she is only going to get better!

Best Designer
Second Runner Up – Eric Lang (Blood Rage/XCOM: The Board Game/A Game of Thrones: The Card Game: Second Edition/Dice Masters)
First Runner Up – Simone Luciani (The Voyages of Marco Polo/Grand Austria Hotel/Council of Four/Monsters’ Tower)
Winner – Alexander Pfister (Broom Service/Mombasa/Isle of Sky: From Chieftain to King/Oh My Goods!)

Alexander Pfister was my choice for the “Late-ie” for Best Designer of 2015.  He released four gems this past year and is on fire right now as a designer.  I am really looking forward to seeing what he does in the future as it looks really bright for him!

Best Publisher
Second Runner Up – Lookout Games (Trambahn/Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King/Grand Austria Hotel/Oh My Goods!/Hengist)
First Runner Up – Plaid Hat Games (Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn/Tail Feathers/Specter Ops/Summoner Wars: Alliances Master Set)
Winner – Z-Man Games (Pandemic Legacy: Season 1/The Voyages of Marco Polo/Cacao/Flick ‘em Up!/Arboretum/Castellion/Sylvion)

I don’t think that there is any getting around this award.  The “Late-ie” for Best Publisher of 2015 has to go to Z-Man Games. They now have the number one ranked game on BoardGameGeek with Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 and it alone would win it this award.  However, they also had many other fantastic releases this year.  Congratulations to Z-Man Games for their fantastic year in 2015!

Best Box Insert
Second Runner Up – Big Book of Madness (IELLO)
First Runner Up – Mysterium (Libellud/Asmodee)
Winner – The Gallerist (Eagle-Gryphon Games)

This wasn’t even close.  The Gallerist’s insert is absolutely amazing and it was created that way!  Eagle-Gryphon Games did an amazing job.  This insert is what all inserts should strive to be.  Everything has a place and it is then held in place by a clear cover.  I can’t gush enough over this insert…it was love at first sight!

Best Game Mechanic
Second Runner Up – Tableau Building (Above and Below/Oh My Goods!/Viceroy/Roll for the Galaxy/7 Wonders: Duel)
First Runner Up – Multi-Use Cards (Mottainai/7 Wonders: Duel/Oh My Goods!/The Bloody Inn/Trambahn/Taste of Poland)
Winner – Dice Drafting (The Voyages of Marco Polo/Grand Austria Hotel/Signorie/My Village/Steamrollers)

This was a really tough one.  I ended up give the “Late-ie” for Best Game Mechanic to dice drafting.  It was a really tough call between this and multi-use cards, but in the end there were some really cool games that came out with dice drafting and I think we’re going to see even more this year.

Best General Game Theme
Second Runner Up – Baseball (Baseball Highlights: 2045/Bottom of the 9th/Roll Saga Baseball/Pocket Sports Baseball/Platinum Series Baseball)
First Runner Up – Wizards (The Big Book of Madness/Wizards of the Wild/Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn/Argent: The Consortium/Trickerion: Legends of Illusion)
Winner – Vikings (Blood Rage/Champions of Midgard/Raiders of the North Sea/Haithabu//Hengist/Bottlecap Vikings)

I don’t think this was a very close race.  Vikings seem to be the hot thing right now so they took the “Late-ie” for Best General Game Theme.  There are a bunch of Viking themed games slated for this year as well so who knows, it may end up winning next year as well!

Best Specific Game Theme
Second Runner Up – Living Life (The Pursuit of Happiness)
First Runner Up – Macabre Hotel Killing (The Bloody Inn)
Winner – Lighthouse Building (Bretagne)

The “Late-ie” for Best Specific Game Theme goes to Bretagne.  I chose this because I think lighthouses are fascinating and I love that Marco Pozzi made a very cool worker placement game about the building of lighthouses in Bretagne.  Great choice in theme Marco!

Best Dice
Second Runner Up – Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot (Portal Games)
First Runner Up – Wizards of the Wild (CrossCut Games)
Winner – Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn (Plaid Hat Games)

The “Late-ie” for Best Dice was another easy choice for me.  I had to go with the absolutely gorgeous dice from Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn.  They are colorful, hefty, and have very cool icons on them.  These are what all dice should strive to be like.

Best Innovation
Second Runner Up – Mysterium (Libellud/Asmodee)
First Runner Up – Time Stories (Space Cowboys/Asmodee)
Winner – 504 (Stronghold Games)

This was a tough one, but in the end I think the fact the Friedmann Friese was able to take nine different game mechanics and able to mix them to form 504 different games is innovation defined.  I am aware that these mechanics in themselves aren’t innovative, but the fact that there are this many different games/modules in one box and they fit together is brilliant in its own right.  Congrats to 504 for winning the “Late-ie” for Best innovation!

Best “Gimmick”
Second Runner Up – 3D Dice Battle System (Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot/Pirates of the 7 Seas)
First Runner Up – Flight Tilt System (Tail Feathers
Winner – Marble Dispenser (Potion Explosion)

The “Late-ie” for the Best “Gimmick” goes to Potion Explosion for its marble dispenser.  This thing is just too cool!  It is a dispenser where you place the marbles and it creates something to gives the idea of phone app games like Bejeweled or Candy Crush.  You will pull the marbles and they will roll down and create chains that you can use to take multiple marbles.  This is a very cool idea and it is a game I will get when it is released in the United States by Cool Mini or Not later this year.

Well, there you have it!  This is the completion of the first annual “Late-ie” Awards.  Thanks so much for taking the time to read my awards post.  I hope you enjoyed it!  As always, feel free to leave comments.  I would love to hear what your “best of” the year category winners would be.  My next post will probably start my games that I look forward to playing from 2015 that I haven’t yet been able to try.  Come on back for more!  Until then, game on!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Obligatory “What I Played In…” Post Part VII: January 2016

And we’re back for another month of plays.  This is the first full month of plays in 2016 and I must say that it was a really good month for me and Em.  We worked on getting some of the new stuff to the table that we received for Christmas.  Some of these games were absolutely awesome and I can’t wait to play them again!  This is also our new record holder for amount of plays in a month with 76!  Okay, enough of that, let’s check out the stats.

Total plays in January 2016 – 76
Total unique games played in January 2016 – 31
New games played in January 2016 – 8
New games acquired in January 2016 – 5
Most plays of a single game – 18


Designer – Carl Chudyk/Chris Cieslik
Publisher – Asmadi Games
Last play before January 2016 – 12/27/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 18

Wow, this game has really become a go to game for me and Em.  We bring it everywhere with us as it is super portable, quick, and a really fun card game.  We’ve found that it plays well anywhere in the play count of two to four players.  This game just makes me more interested in checking out Chudyk’s other games!

Land 6

Designer – Santiago Eximeno
Publisher – (Self-Published)
New to me
First play – 1/16/16
Total plays in January 2016 – 8

This is a nifty little print and play game released in 2014.  It was second in the 2014 Solitaire Print and Play Contest in the Best Small Sized Game category.  I like the interplay of card and dice and it has some pretty meaningful decisions for being such a small game.

Fields of Arle

Designer – Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher – Z-Man Games
New to me
First play – 1/4/16
Total plays in January 2016 – 4

This game has been one of my most anticipated games for some time.  I’ve actually been looking forward to it since Essen Spiel 2014.  Since then it’s been hanging out on my list and finally I had the opportunity to get it for Christmas.  I have to say that it has been awesome!  It hasn’t disappointed me in any way and I can’t wait to get this to the table a bunch more this year!

7 Wonders: Duel

Designer – Antoine Bauza/Bruno Cathala
Publisher – Repos Production/Asmodee
Last play before January 2016 – 11/28/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 3

This game continues to be an awesome go to game for me and Em when we play two-player.  Every time we play it we really seem to get a different experience.  We’ve each won every way possible, from final score to military win to science/technology win.  Love this one and looking forward to any expansions that will (obviously) be released in the future.

Animal Upon Animal

Designer – Klaus Miltenberger
Publisher – HABA
Last play before January 2016 – 12/29/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 3

Em and I got in a few games of this fantastic little HABA game this month.  It is such a simple game but it is quite fun. We prefer Rhino Hero (so far our favorite HABA game) but this is also a fun little game.  I look forward to see what they release in the future!

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

Designer – Matt Leacock/Rob Daviau
Publisher – Z-Man Games
New to me
First play – 1/20/16
Total plays in January 2016 – 3

Okay, wow.  I now understand the craze that has become this game!  We’ve been looking forward to it for some time and were finally able to get our group of four together and play it this past month and it was awesome!  When Em and I revisit our top 10 (or 5 for Em) lists in a couple months I have a feeling that this one could make a push up that list.  It is just a wonderful experience and we’ve only made it through the first month!  Can’t wait for more!


Designer – Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher – Lookout Games/Mayfair Games
Last play before January 2016 – 12/29/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 3

I’m not sure how much more can be said about this game that I haven’t already stated in previous “What I Played In…” posts.  It is a perfectly balanced two-player experience and continues to be one of our favorites.

Rhino Hero

Designer – Scott Frisco/Steven Strumpf
Publisher – HABA
Last play before January 2016 – 12/25/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 3

Oh Rhino Hero, how we love you!  We picked this up a few months ago during our anniversary trip and we haven’t looked back.  It continues to be one of our favorite game night fillers and I don’t think that will end any time soon.  Bravo for taking family games to a new level HABA!

Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn

Designer – Isaac Vega
Publisher – Plaid Hat Games
Last play before January 2016 – 11/6/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 2

Man do I ever love this game!  Here is another one that is vying for my top 10 list.  So far this is the only battle game that I am in any way interested in!  I can’t wait until the new Phoenixborn, Lulu Firststone, Brennen Blackcloud, and Rin Northfell come out this April.

The Big Book of Madness

Designer – Maxime Rambourg
Publisher – IELLO
Last play before January 2016 – 12/26/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 2

Okay, this is a game that I was totally excited for and then it got delayed for what seemed like forever!  I wasn’t sure if that delay meant it was going to be a bad game, but let me reassure you, it doesn’t!  This game is great!  It is a very difficult and fun co-operative experience that my wife and I love so far!  We were able to beat the easy mode after three plays.  We’ll take on easy a few more times and then start on normal mode!

Bottom of the 9th

Designer – Darrell Louder/Mike Mullins
Publisher – Greater Than Games/Dice Hate Me
Last play before January 2016 – 12/27/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 2

Em and I got in a couple more games of this great little filler in January.  It is still a great, thematic little game and we love playing it.  This is a game that we always have to play twice so we each get to play the batter once and the pitcher once.


Designer – Shadi Torbey
Publisher – Z-Man Games
Last play before January 2016 – 7/30/15
Total plays in January 2016 - 2

I pulled this game out for the first time since July and played a couple of rounds.  It made me remember how good of a quick little solitaire game this is.  The only drawback is the amount of shuffling that is involved, but I can get over that quickly with a fun game.  I had to play two in a row in order to get my win!

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords

Designer – Mike Selinker/Chad Brown/Tanis O’Conner/Paul Peterson/Gaby Weidling
Publisher – Paizo Publishing
Last play before January 2016 – 9/1/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 2

Em and I picked up our campaign where we left off in June.  This is another game that I forget how much fun it is till we pick it back up.  We are on the fourth pack right now, the Fortress of the Stone Giants, and soon we will have to decide if we will continue.  I think we will…if only to say we made it through the whole box!  Seriously though, we really do like this game…I just wish I didn’t have to shuffle so much to set up!

Roll for the Galaxy

Designer – Thomas Lehmann/Wei-Hwa Huang
Publisher – Rio Grande Games
Last play before January 2016 – 10/22/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 2

We got in a couple of plays of Roll for the Galaxy and Em stomped my butt into the galactic ground both times.  I figure I’ll eventually win again but who knows when?  That being said, here is another game that is threatening my current top 10.  It is going to be difficult to make that list!


Designer – Helmut Ohley
Publisher – Lookout Games/Mayfair Games
Last play before January 2016 – 12/12/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 2

This game and Patchwork have really been mainstays mine and em’s two-player series of games.  We love bringing this one to our weekly coffee dates and always have a great time with it.  I’ve heard people complain about the luck of the draw, but we don’t mind for a short, fun game!

Wizards of the Wild

Designer – Adam West/Dan Schnake/Abe Schnake
Publisher – CrossCut Games
Last play before January 2016 – 12/2/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 2

Em and I got in a couple of plays of this little Kickstarter gem in January.  I find myself really enjoying this one more with each play.  There are a ton of cards which give some good variability and a ton of starting characters for you to choose from.  It is just a fun game with some good components and a very fun theme.

Above & Below

Designer – Ryan Laukat
Publisher – Red Raven Games
Last play before January 2016 – 12/5/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

This game is just a fun experience.  Laukat’s worlds for some reason remind me of one of my favorite animated movie directors, Hayao Miyazaki.  His worlds are just so very fantastical and beautiful and evocative that I want to always come back for more.  This game is just like that and it always makes Em and I want to come back for more!


Designer – Charles Chevallier
Publisher – Argentum Verlag
New to me
First play – 1/4/16
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

This game was high on my radar during the Essen season and it was purchased for me as a present during Christmas.  Em and I pulled it out and played it and I quite enjoyed it.  It has an area control type mechanic along with a moving sun that gives you your actions.  The scoring is very odd but I really like it as it is so different.  All of that along with an incredibly beautiful board and components make this quite an interesting and so far, fun, game.


Designer – Marco Pozzi
Publisher – Placentia Games/Post Scriptum
New to me
First play – 1/25/16
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

This is another Christmas present and it is another that I had my eye on during the Christmas season!    This game focuses on the European area (and money) and building lighthouses in the water that surrounds the land.  This is a worker placement game with some wrinkles.  When you place a worker you will soon thereafter choose whether to take it right off and back to your warehouse (and score two points) or if you will leave it there in order to possibly get a higher score later on.  I loved the decisions in this game and look forward to more plays.


Designer - Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Publisher – Z-Man Games
Last play before January 2016 – 9/26/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

Yay for a play of CarcassonneAt this point we have quite a few of the small expansions for the game which really give it more tiles and make the board even cooler looking when you’re done.  I think this is half the fun of the game…especially since Em likes to kick my butt with her little Totoro meeples!

Forbidden Island

Designer – Matt Leacock
Publisher – Gamewright Games
Last play before January 2016 – 7/31/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

We got in a play of Forbidden Island this past month as we were “practicing” for Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.  This was the first time Em and I played on elite and we were actually able to beat it, although just barely!

The Gallerist

Designer – Vital Lacerda
Publisher – Eagle-Gryphon Games
Last play before January 2016 – 12/16/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

I got in a solo play of The Gallerist in January and ended up getting a score that put me in the highest level!  I am now a master gallerist!  I love this game and just want to dive into it more but it is a pretty tough one to get to the table as Em still doesn’t feel too comfortable with it.


Designer – Antoine Bauza
Publisher – R&R Games
Last play before January 2016 – 12/13/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

Em and I got in a play of this fun little card game this month and it was the first time that we completely blew up our fireworks display!  I guess we had to do it at some point.

Imperial Settlers

Designer – Ignacy Trzewiczek
Publisher – Portal Games
Last play before January 2016 – 11/7/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

We picked this game up this month and Em used her favorite Egyptians while I pulled out the Japanese.  We were very nice to each other and able to build some good engines.  I should have had the game but got greedy and thus left the door open for her to come back and get some massive points in the last round.  We tied at 102 and she won the tie-breaker!

Magic: The Gathering: Arena of the Planeswalkers

Designer – Craig Van Ness/James D’Aloisio/Ethan Fleischer
Publisher – Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast
New to me
First play – 1/17/16
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

I have been quite excited to try this game out for some time but for some reason hadn’t bought it.  Then, my sister and her husband bought it for me and Em at Christmas.  We were able to get in a game (I played Gideon and Em played Jace) and we both really enjoyed it.  We had played Heroscape for the first time this past summer and I enjoyed it but Em thought it was too long.  She really enjoyed this version though as it seemed quicker and more streamlined.  Can’t wait to get into it a little more and pick up some expansions.


Designer – Oleksandr Nevskiy/Oleg Sidorenko
Publisher – Libellud/Asmodee
New to me
First play – 1/10/16
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

This is a game that I have been waiting so long to try out and finally the English version was announced and released this past year!  We picked it up in late December and weren’t able to get it right to the table.  In January however, we had a game night and learned this game and it was awesome!  I really enjoyed our play and look forward to trying this with more people!


Designer – Stefan Dorra
Publisher – IELLO
New to me
First play – 1/10/16
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

This is a nifty little trick-taking game with absolutely beautiful art from IELLO.  I love a good card game and this is definitely a good card game!  As much as I enjoy Diamonds, I think I enjoy this one just a little bit more with its clever Nyet! phase where you choose who goes first, trump, points, and other things.  Then you move to the trick-taking phase.  It’s a very cool game.

Snow Tails

Designer – Gordon Lamont/Fraser Lamont
Publisher – Renegade Game Studios/Fragor Games
Last play before January 2016 – 12/28/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

We have a little bit of a snowstorm here on the East Coast this past month and during it Em decided she wanted to play this game because of the snow.  Yeah, she is awesome!  Oh, and I really like how this is a racing game that uses card mechanics, it is a really fun game.

Taste of Poland

Designer – Violetta Kijowska/Marcin Senior Ropka
Publisher – Bomba Games
Last play before January 2016 – 12/14/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

This is a hand management game with a bit of a speed element that was released at Essen Spiel this past year.  It is a fun game with beautiful artwork of different Polish dishes.  We enjoy taking this game to our Wednesday coffee dates.


Designer – Antoine Bauza
Publisher – Funforge
Last play before January 2016 – 9/26/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

Em wanted to play a round of Tokaido this month and I was all about it!  She was also excited to use her new Totoro meeples from Meeple Source.  I was able to win this round…yay souvenirs!


Designer – Yuri Zhuravlev
Publisher – Mayday Games/Hobby World
Last play before January 2016 – 11/8/15
Total plays in January 2016 – 1

This game has been a huge hit in our house ever since we got our Kickstarter pedge in the mail.  We love the card play, the blind bidding, and the tableau-building.  It is a very fun game that we very much enjoy every minute of.

And there you go.  Here are a whole bunch of games that we were able to get to the table in January.  Many of these games were first times and thus I can’t wait until we are able to get them to the table again.  There are so many great games here and so many more out there that we may get in the future.  Here are the new games that we added to the collection in January.

New acquisitions in January 2016:
Fields of Arle
Land 6
Magic: The Gathering: Arena of the Planeswalkers

As always, thanks so much for reading and stay tuned for more post coming soon.  I am going to continue with my “End of 2015” series and the next one will be my “awards” for the year.  Feel free to leave me any questions or comments below or hit me up on BoardGameGeek.  Until next time, game on!