Looking Back 5, 10, and 15 years…

Much as with my own podcast, I often run late with my contributions to the main Dice Tower podcast.  The main difference, though, is that it gets published anyway, meaning that I’m just left out of the fun.  But as they’ve been looking back over their favorite games from 5, 10, and 15 years ago lately, I just couldn’t totally let this go by without getting my opinions out there.

So, here we go…


I was deep into the boardgaming hobby by this time, so I’ve played a lot of games from this year.  And really, there were a ton of them that I enjoyed quite a bit.  I don’t know that anything particularly revolutionary happened in 2009, but there were a bunch of really solid and fun games to choose from.

Honorable Mentions: Carson City, Peloponnes, Chronicle, The Resistance, Nemo’s War, Spot It!, Zulus on the Ramparts!

5) Tobago – A gorgeous family game about building “maps” to find buried treasure on a modular island.  It’s still one of Gwen’s and my favorite games to play as a couple.  And I even reviewed it back when…
4) Revolution! – An awesome area-majority game filled with bluffing and hidden bidding shenanigans.  I also talked about this on a podcast.
3) Steam – I hadn’t been much of a train gamer before picking this up, but really enjoyed it back at the time.  I don’t know why it hasn’t come out lately, though.
2) Hansa Teutonica – My poster child for a cube-pushing eurogame, this is near the top of my list solely because of its cool mechanics and many opportunities for varied strategy.  And in my review, I even compared it to Data from ST:TNG.
1) Macao – So finally, my favorite game from 2009 was also my Game of the Year from 2010.  Macao is such an awesome game that really made a splash in my game group and put Stefan Feld firmly on the map as one of my favorite designers (and I even reviewed it on my podcast).

Booby Prize (my lowest ranked game from the year) – Long Shot (currently rated a 4), about which I once said, ” I can’t think of a single race game that I would want to play less than this one.”


I wasn’t quite into the actual boardgame hobby back in 2004, but it still stands out as a really great year to me, perhaps one of the best ever.  Commercially, the sheer popularity of Ticket to Ride alone is huge, and it barely made my list of favorite games!  

Honorable Mentions: 
Betrayal at House on the Hill, Reef Encounter, San Juan, Fairy Tale

5) Ticket to Ride – In addition to that aforementioned commercial and critical success, Ticket to Ride also has a special place in my heart since it helped bring Gwen into boardgaming (and for other reasons).  I even reviewed it and some of its sister games after they were our Game(s) of the Month! 
4) No Thanks! – It’s simply the perfect filler. ‘Nuff said!
3) GoaIt’s got an innovative spatial auction, engine building, and multiple paths to victory, so Goa is definitely a must-have for eurogame lovers.  But I still haven’t made time to try out the new version!
2) War of the Ring I’m a pretty big Lord of the Rings fan, and by far, War of the Ring is the best and most thematic LotR game ever.  It’s a shame that I haven’t played this more than I have, though. 
1) Struggle of Empires – It’s thematic, tense, historic, challenging, and lots of fun.  I once called this “perhaps the most satisfying game I’ve ever played,” due to the depth of experience that it provides.

Booby PrizePower Grid (currently rated a 4), of which my disdain is well-documented.


Standing in direct contrast to both years above, 1999 seems to be a pretty miserable year for games.  It’s almost like this was a lull year between some of the revolutionary games from the mid-90’s (e.g. Settlers and El Grande) and the continuing innovation and growth of the 2000’s.

Honorable Mentions: I was struggling to come up with even 5 good games, so nothing honorable here…

5) Torres – Of all the action point games from around this time, Torres is probably my favorite.  I’ve had this up for trade for a while, but have then turned down some offers because I continue to feel like there’s something I still want to experience from it.
4) Ricochet Robots – Okay, this pick is purely in honor of my wife, who absolutely loves this game.  I enjoy it well enough, but it can also be pretty dry as people just sit there and stare at the board looking for a path.
3) RaOnce, this was in or near my top 10, and is definitely the most remarkable “gamer’s game” of 1999.  But the more I play it these days, the less I enjoy it, mostly because it seems so chaotic at times.
2) Time’s Up! – As party games go, Time’s Up! is about as highly regarded as you get.  And even though I’ve found it to be pretty group-dependent, it’s still rather amazing when it works.
1) Cloud 9 – Superficially, this is a light children’s/family game, but it’s just so good that it also works fantastically as a great push-your-luck filler for gamers as well.  It’s currently my highest-rated game of 1999, and I’m pretty proud of that (as evidenced by my review of it).

Booby Prize – Chez Geek (currently rated a 3), which actually makes Munchkin look pretty good in comparison.

So that’s what I’ve come up with for this foray into the past.  What do you think about these three years, and what are your favorite (and/or least favorite) games from back then? 


  1. Jacob

    We are so different. Macao firmly cemented Feld as a designer whose games I will not like. I dabbled in a few interesting titles of his afterwards, but nothing changed. Long Shot, however, is currently my favourite race game and I love horse racing games. We have a few house rules, but the game is essentially the same and when every race is so tight (by design) it’s always a wild finish.
    Just for context, I like Wallace and Kramer a lot, and Vital Lacerda can do no wrong. This is a big year for him.

  2. Chris Norwood

    Well, there’s no accounting for taste, I suppose (even if you clearly have none ;).

    Seriously, though, I probably haven’t given Long Shot much of a fair shake.  I only played it once, and since my experience with it was so bad, I’ve avoided it like the plague ever since.

    As for Lacerda, I think that CO2 is the only game of his I’ve played.  I liked it a lot (and think it’s absolutely gorgeous), but had a lot of trouble getting it back to the table with my game group.  Again, I can’t help that other people don’t have good taste in games.

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