Obviously the poll was, shall we say, somewhat short of the DSP in credibility. But still, I expected it in aggregate to more or less mirror my opinions, since I expect the only people who seriously read this blog are people who more or less agree with me.
Given this, a number of the results were unsurprising. Goa was the “winner”, although by a slender margin. I like Goa quite a lot, and it might have gotten my vote, but it is long, and as a result infrequently played, and I wonder if it would hold up to as many games as I’d like to give it?
That Runebound did poorly was also not a shocker, since I think that it is simply aimed at a different audience.
Some of the games placed much lower than I would have rated them, though. Fifth Avenue did very poorly, and I wonder how much this is due to a simple lack of play. It would have made the top handful for me. After a strong early showing, Maharaja tailed off rather badly in the poll, and while I wouldn’t have given it any awards, I like it. But the real surprise was San Juan. For me, San Juan is comfortably the #1 or #2 eurogame of the year so far. You seemed to agree with me that it’s better than the DSP winning Saint Petersberg, but I would say it’s in fact much better than that. Better too than Ticket to Ride; I would have rated Ticket a bit lower than you did – a solid “B” game, perhaps, as for me it has a certain lack of flair.
The big winners that I would have rated significantly lower were Memoir ’44 and Power Grid. Memoir ’44 is a fun game which I do like, but it’s a bit too light to really excite me. The scenarios also seem almost unplaytested in their extreme imbalance at times, and they take long enough to play that it’s not amusing to find out that you were playing the side that was basically doomed. I like Blue Moon, the game that slipped my mind when making the list, significantly better.
Power Grid is a game that has taken a real hit in my mind after the first 5 or so plays. It’s another decent enough game, one that will stay on my shelf, but it seems to have problems with pacing in the middle game and a somewhat unsatisfying endgame (due to the possibility of resource exhaustion and therefore somewhat arbitrary hoseage and kingmaking). I think there are some configurations of board and number of players that work a lot better than others, but I haven’t yet figured out which is which. While I like Power Grid, I’ve been playing some 1825 recently, and Power Grid is having a hard time holding up to that classic. Of this year’s “big” games, I easily like Goa, Fifth Avenue, and Maharaja better.
Saint Petersburg did pretty well in the poll, but for me it has completely collapsed. I liked it for around 8-10 games, but it crashed like a drunk driver after that. It’s still a decent enough game that I’ll play, but no better than a run-of-the-mill decent game in my opinion, and it has potential to fall further. I think it’s the lack of player interaction, forced early moves, a not exactly Knizia-esque level of balance between Buildings and Aristocrats, and a general lack of subtlety once you’ve worked out the overall tenor of the game. Again, not a bad game, but the first time in recent memory that I think the DSP has out-and-out blown it, although their later picks still came through in the end.
Wings of War is a game I like a lot, but it’s the oddball of the group, and its low showing wasn’t entirely surprising.