MJ's Games Played in 1999
MJ's Games Played in 2001   |   MJ's Games Played in 2000   |   MJ's Games Played in 1999   |   MJ's Games Played in 1998   |   MJ's Games Played in 1997   |   MJ's Games Played in 1996   |   MJ's Games Played prior to 1996

For the past few years I've kept a log of games played. In 1999, though, I gave up on that by about April. It was starting to feel like work, and this is supposed to be fun! So this year, I've just listed the games I played, not how many times I played them. (This was made a *lot* easier by the fact that two of my frequent opponents kept detailed logs of their games.)

I've separated the wargames, CCGs, and a peculiar class of computer games played only against other human opponents, using email. In my mind, that's more like a boardgame experience than a computer game one, so here they are. I'd also wanted to separate party games from strategy boardgames, but couldn't make it work. The group I game with plays those nearly interchangeably these days (a change that threw me at first, but now I like it!).

Lastly, I always have trouble with a 10-point rating scale. Whenever I try that, I get gobs of 6-8 rated games, which isn't too helpful. That's the point of these lists, right? To spur discussion and maybe let someone out there learn about a good game? At any rate, my brain handles a 5-point, letter grade scale much better, so bear with me! Games are sorted by category, rating, then alphabetical.

If it isn't obvious from my comments, my preferences are for boardgames with a strong theme, or wargames that don't take more than an evening to play.

+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| WARGAMES |
 +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
 ===== A-list =====
Gettysburg--Good, possibly great w/ a few published tweaks (stacking)
Ice War--Short, punchy & unique = an ideal (if lesser known) microgame
Napoleon--Fantastic 2 or 3 player block wargame
Saratoga--Crisp, modern design of an engaging battle, a keeper

===== B-list =====
Down In Flames--Questions about balance don't spoil a great game
Blue vs. Grey--Would be "A" if played often; as-is I have to relearn each time
For The People--Stunning but too long for me, alas
A House Divided--Needs most optional/adv. rules to be good, I guess
Midway--Another Smithsonian game I really enjoy

===== C-list =====
Rommel in the Desert--Abstractions taken too far, or I didn't get it
World War One--Dated; somewhere between brilliant & quirky

+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
 | COLLECTIBLE CARD/DICE GAMES |
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
 ===== A-list =====
Magic:The Gathering--My only duel of 99 reminded me why I still enjoy it
Netrunner--Quit good; nails its theme; doesn't require you to sell your soul

===== C-list =====
Star Trek Collectible Dice--Rats, I didn't enjoy it as I'd hoped

+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
 | EM@IL GAMES |
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
===== A-list =====
Scrabble--Just as good a program as the real thing--that's saying something!
X-Com--Like a classic microgame, ported to the computer--I'm in love! :-)

===== B-list =====
Football--Lackluster program, but of my favorite sport, so I still like it
NASCAR--A pleasant surprise; satisfyingly strategic w/ dice-based movement
Upwords--Why play this over Scrabble? I don't know.

===== C-list =====
Backgammon--Good game in person, but weakest of the Em@il lineup

+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| BOARD/CARD/PARTY GAMES |
 +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
===== A-list =====
Apples to Apples--One of the top games of '99, for me and my family
Ausgebremst--Quirky race game with some great ideas; one of my favorites
Basari--Nearly the perfect lunch hour game; looks & plays great
Big Boss--I've never liked Acquire, but this one is a lot of fun
Bohnanza--Tapered way off this year (Bohnita was a letdown); still good
Bop It Extreme--Physical game like Louie, great to play with my 5yo
En Garde--Movement/map makes this better than Lightsabers; still going strong
Entdecker--My favorite game, w/ or w/o the known tile variant
Euphrat & Tigris--Long and abstract, normally a turnoff, but this game is great
For Sale--I could play this over and over; I have, too, for the past few years!
Gallop Royale--Goofy race/bidding game that's a lot of fun
Get the Goods--Lean game packs lots of tension & decisions into a pack of cards
Loopin' Louie--What will I ever do if my set breaks through overuse? :-)
Manitou--Very different, works with the theme, attractive
Medici--My all-time favorite bidding game (how come I don't own it?!?!)
Mississippi Queen--I like it as-is, but my friends need the endgame fix
Mu--Must play more! Would be a perfect lunch game once we all knew the rules
Pit--There's a good reason this one is such a classic!
Scrabble--Wife's favorite & one of mine since I saw how placement is tactical
Settlers of Catan--Frequent play has taken it down *just* a touch
Taboo--My favorite party game; know your partner! (Wife and I kick butt!)
Take 6--If you think it's random you're not reading the other players!
Turfmaster--One of the few German games that feels like a light simulation
Verrater--Fragile to bad plays, but superb; shows what can be done w/ cards
Vinci--Everything El Grande wasn't, for me; even I don't worry about the length

===== B-list =====
Air Baron--Didn't hold up as well this year, but I still enjoy it
Caesar & Cleopatra--Fun, carries the theme (for a card game)
Can't Stop--An all-time classic filler
Clash of the Lightsabers--Hasbro does German?!? Good game & great surprise
David & Goliath--Quite popular with my lunch crowd; handles range of players
Dschungel--Memory game with spatial planning will turn off many, but I like it
Durch die Wuste--My least favorite of the Knizia trilogy, but still not bad
Europa 1945-2030--A negotiation game masking as a geopolitical; interesting
Favoriten--Pretty lightweight, actually, which is how I like it
Guillotine--Good filler, great theme
Hattrick--Maybe there's not much to it, but I'm entertained each time I play
Hornochsen--If the players keep up the pace, a great descendent of Take 6
Iron Horse--Hard on the eyes, but one of the better connection games
Kontor--Dry game about a watery place; great bits and worth exploring
Lamarkian Poker--I *still* like this! :-)
Last Word--Like Boggle on a board...but mean! I like it, my wife didn't :-(
Lost Cities--Fun, to be sure, but helped by a great presentation
Manhattan--Another good one for lunch, though a bit susceptible to bad plays
Marracash--I'm taken by the attractive board, bits, and how they interact
Modern Art--I go hot and cold with this one; strongly dependent on the group
Money--Frankly, I'd rather play Lamarckian Poker, though the cards look great
Musketiere--I still like it, but wearing a bit thin as a filler
Nanuuk--Unique theme and good bits may have duped me into liking this one
Palmyra--Another great Knizia for lunch hour
Quo Vadis?--Knizia the way I like him: with a *simple* scoring mechanism
Ra--So this would be the opposite, right? Still, a good lunch game
Rapid Recall--Doesn't quite work as a game; still a great twist on clue-giving
Razzia--Worthwhile as a filler that plays well with 5-8 people (good theme)
Ricochet Robot--Ouch! I thought I'd be okay at this...not true!
SoC Nurnberg--I almost panned Stadt & Ritter due to length, but this is good
SoC Seafahrers--Didn't live up to my hopes about exploration, but still good
Streetcar--Underappreciated, I think, and I think Mayfair's endgame is fine
Samurai--Open and more common sensical scoring would help it for me
Schotten-Totten--Great as these things go, but I'd rather play En Garde
Show Manager--My opinion's improving; theme works in set-collecting card game
Stimmt So!--More theme and board than the game needs, but pretty fun
Survive--Not that great, but good bits and sentimentality carry it through
Tutanchamun--More Knizia the way I like it; great bits for a great price
Wildlife Adventure--Expedition might be better, but this is more appealing
WizWar--My shining hope that US designers have some tricks up their sleeves
Wortelboer--Trouble is, no one *else* likes it (see: El Caballero :-/ )
Wurmeln--Not for everyone, but a great change of pace
Zum Kuckuck--Can I get this down to 50 minutes for lunch? That would be great!

===== C-list =====
25 Words or Less--Not the party game for me
Adel Verpflichtet--Finally played it; I prefer the similar mechanism in Basari
Auf Kurs--Too analytical for me; the bits keep it from a D
Beyond Balderdash--Fun, but for the silence while players write their answers
Boggle--Once again, all the silence bugs me
Cheops--Didn't do it for me; mechanical scoring and a paper-thin theme
Dominoes (Mexican Train)--Better with a rules tweak (if we're playing it right)
Family Business--A just okay game of Take That!
Filthy Rich--Some kinks need to be worked out, but worth the effort, I believe
Der Fleigende Hollander--Doesn't quite come together for me, though nice
Flinke Pinke--Is 50% of Quandary's appeal worth 20% of the price? Not sure
Formula De--Now at least I appreciate it, though it's still not real fun for me
Fossil--Like Tut, but with more arguments and more complex scoring
Groo--Chaotic, but still fun; would like to see the dice idea in other games
Kahuna--Wish it was better, because small 2-player boardgames are a good niche
Omega Virus--I never knew how fun it was to be taunted by a game!
Marathon--The freebie in Counter; needs a little more refining, not bad
Pass the Bomb--A pretty good mixer; the bomb is fun
Pool Position--Can't tell from my one play; would try again
Rasant--With a real tweak, I'd bet there's a good game hiding inside
Schnaeppchen Jagd--Too deep for me? Not my favorite trick-taking game
Set--Not much of a game, but interesting to share with nongamers & kids
SoC Cheops--I like the idea of historical scenarios, though this is harsh
Tikal--A big letdown due to downtime; also pushes my theme-don't-stick button
Titan:The Arena--This one never quite does it for me
True Colors--Liked it quite a bit, but it needs the right group, so less useful
Ursuppe--How I wish I liked this game more, because the theme is perfect
Victory--Randolph car racing game (not the wargame); silly but some okay ideas
Wettstreit der Baumeister--Better than I'd heard, but didn't grab me

===== D-list =====
6 Tage Rennen--This is a classic?! I was thoroughly underwhelmed
Bialogue--Lose the board and just play that cool clue-giving subgame
Button Men--I've tried and tried, but don't get the appeal
Express--Nothing but a clunky card game, partnerships or not
Mamma Mia--Big disappointment for me, especially when those around me like it!
Midnight Party--Not bad for a kid's game, but not much better, either
Res Publica--I didn't get this one at all
Sequence--My wife likes it, though, so I'll still play
TV Wars--Great theme deserves a better game