My Top Gaming Experiences of 2006

Maybe I’ll do a top n games list for 2006 at some point, but when I reflect on the past year what comes to mind are great gaming experiences, not great games.

New Years Magic: the Gathering Tournament

Magic doesn’t get played very often in my house, but when we do it is always a blast. We are heading into our fourth year running of a Magic sealed deck tournament, and I’m excited as ever to do it over the coming weekend. Sealed deck tournaments (and booster drafts) get to the core of what Magic is all about: discovering new cards and combos, creative deck building, and strong tactical play.

Conquest of the Empire

This was my favorite big conquest-type game of the year (we played with the Martin Wallace rules). I found this to be a huge improvement over Struggle of Empires, mostly because of streamlined play and nicer bits. Everyone was in the game and we found it very engaging through the end. I also love a game that easily plays all of the Rude/Brooks boys in a balanced fashion.

18FL / 1850

I’m at risk of turning into an 18XX geek. Playing 18FL at Eric’s was easily one of the most satisfying gaming experiences I’ve had recently – I love the pure economics, the no-luck, and the dialog we all have as we compete/cooperate. I mentioned during our play of 1850 two nights ago how nice it is to play with other unwashed newbies as I find the open discussion and lack of cut-throat play more enjoyable than it might be with a different crowd. I don’t expect to start collecting these games (I only own 1850 now, and I can leave the collecting up to Eric and Tim), but I hope to play at least 3-4 times in 2007.

Roads & Boats

I’m glad I picked this one up, and it will be hard to justify bringing out Antiquity or Indonesia over this title when choosing a big Splotter game to play. I enjoy the combination of logistics and economics in the game and find it much less punishing than Antiquity – even though I lost miserably at R&B, I never felt like I wasn’t moving forward.

Liar’s Dice

Jacob’s Boy Scout troop held a game night on Dec 15 – mostly console video games, but I made sure to bring a few board games. We played some Incan Gold but the huge hit was Liar’s Dice. It was great seeing some of the older scouts sitting down with adults and playing this game. The last game we played ended with a showdown between one of the other adult leaders and me – he with 5 dice, and me with just 1. Through a combination of lucky dice rolls and good bluffing I managed a win, something I thought was near impossible.

Oh, can I mention Guitar Hero 2?? I know it isn’t a board game, but this is just about the coolest electronic game of any kind I’ve ever played. I’m quickly turning into a console gaming convert (from PC gaming) after spending some time playing this and Madden NFL.