You voted, and the results are in--now, find out which games are walking away with the coveted F:AT 2012 READER'S CHOICE AWARDS! My tux is at the cleaners, so I hope this dingy bathrobe with little coffee cups on it will suffice.
You've been waiting with baited (bated? abated?) breath, so let's dive right in and find out which games won the big prizes!
Best Wargame, 2012:
Runner-up: 1812: Invasion of Canada
This is one of those games that has had tremendous word of mouth that has been spreading over the past year. It's one that I need to make an effort to find someone who has it and give it a play--maybe at this year's Trashfest I'll do just that.
Yup, although we talked about 2011 games winning '2012 Game of the Year', I also said I'd honor the votes if they were there. Chalk it up to wargamers being more deliberate in the pacing of their savoring of games and avoiding snap judgments of the "thumbs up/thumbs down" variety.
It would be at this point that I'd let Tom Hancock talk about this one, but since he retired from our ranks we've been left without a true wargamer afficianado on our staff. I will pledge though to hunt down this game to give it a play--if enough of you like it, and it's obvious you do, then it has to be good.
Best 2-player Game, 2012
Runner-Up: Puzzle Strike: 3rd Edition
I found 3rd Edition odd to single out for 2-player as most of its improvements and re-wordings of rules and chips were to improve the multiplayer experience. However, Puzzle Strike does remain one of the most aggressive and interactive deckbuilders and as I've spent possibly a couple of hundred hours in 2-player matches, I can't disagree with it getting some props here.
1st Place TIE--WINNER(S): Android: Netrunner and Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures
Yep. A tie between two excellent games. And unfortunately in very Eurogame fashion I did not come up with an acceptable tiebreaker, so these two will "rejoice in their shared victory."
It's not hard to see how these two won, as both are extremely excellent and not only that, have been flying off the shelves of local retailers and online vendors alike.
Having played them both, I can definitely say they're each excellent representatives. But which do I personally like more? Tune in next week when I do my own year-end retrospective. But you'll hear at least one of these names again.
Best Adventure Game, 2012:
Runner-Up: Legends of Andor
A gorgeous looking game that is also gaining good word-of-mouth buzz as opposed to front-loaded hype. In particular, the ability to randomize co-op scenarios has me intrigued.
F:ATtie Repoman had this to say with his vote: "Legends of Andor is a co-op game that really tells a story. The game play is fast, the combat is tense, and it rewards strategies other than the 'kill everything that moves' play style that seems to dominate many other co-ops."
1st Place: Mice & Mystics
Plaid Hat continues to impress as they expand, and Mice & Mystics by all accounts has been a grand-slam family adventure game that has made pretty much all the "best-of" year-end lists. Beautiful scultped minis and accessible gameplay have both been the icing on the cake. Colby and co. are continually on the rise.
It's a crowded space these days, the "light dungeon crawl", but they found a unique approach that works and had a nice out of the ordinary fantasy hook. Obviously, you folks noticed, and rewarded the game accordingly.
Best Expansion, 2012:
Runner-Up: Puzzle Strike: Shadows
A controversial selection as there was a big brouhaha about versions, upgrade kits, and compatibility, but make no mistake about the fact that Shadows brought ten new diverse characters and more rock-solid gameplay to the Puzzle Strike system. And played as a standalone, you don't even have to worry about all that edition stuff anyway.
1st Place: Mage Knight: The Lost Legion
This one was released late in the year but ran away with the voting in this category, so it's obvious those who took the plunge with Mage Knight were eager for more...and happy with what they discovered. This is one I'll pick up too but I barely feel like I've dipped my pinky toe in the well of Vlaada's adventuring masterpiece.
Best Card/Deckbuilding, 2012:
Runner-Up: Puzzle Strike: 3rd Edition
One of the best deckbuilders around gets its props, and rightfully so. 2012 did not see the sort of continued innovation in the deckbuilding genre that I'd been hoping for, but a refinement of one of the best ones of years past seemed to have suit just fine.
1st Place: Android: Netrunner
At a whopping 2-to-1 over the runner up, Android: Netrunner was a HUGE winner here. A steady stream of deckbuilders and other card games came out this year, but it was Fantasy Flight's masterful reworking and tweaking of the cult-classic Richard Garfield CCG that turned a lot of heads. How popular is it? Some of the expansion packs that have only been out a few months are already in short supply and in need of reprint. How crazy is that?
Best Reprint or New Edition, 2012:
Runner-Up: Android: Netrunner
My only shock here was that this didn't take the whole prize here. Android: Netrunner has received much love pretty much universally everywhere. But what could have taken the top prize?
1st Place: Wiz-War
I have to admit, this one surprised me, and was a reversal of the previous tallies for nominations. Not that the reprint isn't awesome, of course. Fantasy Flight did a nice balancing act of tweaking, refining, and yet keeping things as much "as is" as players wanted with a swath of variants to play the game by the exact recipe you're looking for. Awesome bits, large boards, high quality cards, all part of a fantastic treatment that this game deserves.
I can only surmise that during the nominations, and actually during forum chatter in general, that because it released earlier in the year, it had sorted of faded from memory as a 2012 release. It was a great reprint no doubt, but after all that time waiting on the reprint that would never come, once it was here we sort of...took it for granted.
When it popped up on the nominations though, it reminded everyone that "hey, Wiz-War came out this year!" And the votes flooded in thereafter.
Forum regular Iguanaditty echoed that sentiment with his vote: "a great edition of a game many had given up hope of ever seeing reprinted." Amen and pass the Fireball.
Best Beer n' Pretzels Game, 2012:
Runner-Up: Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery
Spartacus was an odd duck nomination as Beer n' Pretzels, and proof that we may need to define this term a little better in the future. I will say that the game received a lot of praise around the board, and while it had difficulty competing with others in their respective categories, voters found it a niche here to take home some year-end nominations. When licensed games turn out not to suck, we should probably reward those games with dollars so that we get more licensed games that don't suck.
1st Place: King of Tokyo: Power Up!
There's no doubt here that this vote is more of a continued vote for King of Tokyo, a F:AT favorite by a mile. What this did add though was variable power decks for the monsters, which makes them play differently. If there's one thing we AT'ers love, it's dice. But if there's something else we love, it's freakin' variable player powers. So a good expansion takes home the Beer n' Pretzels award, but I'm okay with that because it just means that one of the best Beer n' Pretzels game in years is still seeing continued play, from cons to kitchen tables. Rowr.
Fortress: AT's Readers Choice, Game of the Year, 2012:
Runner-Up: Mage Wars
Mage Wars is a game I'll talk more about in my own year-end column. Suffice it to say that coming from a lesser-known publisher, Mage Wars has made its way from unknown to a champion of word-of-mouth campaigning.
On the surface, it sounds so derivative...two wizards casting spells and duking it out? How original, right? Oh, and let's add pre-game deckbuilding. Yeah, super. But now let's not make it play anything remotely like any of the games you're thinking about. Like, how about your whole deck is available to you at any time?
The strategy is deep, the card pool already rich, the different Mages so diverse in their styles, this is one of those games that has nowhere to go but up.
The real shocker to me, though? Only one single vote kept this out of first place. And when you see first place, that's pretty high praise for this game.
Long-time F:ATtie Space Ghost sums it up like this: "Mage Wars is innovative, rich, and rewarding. Best game of the year by a country mile." Fellow veteran Repoman had this to say: "Mage Wars...is a heck of a lot of fun to play. It has tension, tactical depth, and longer strategy combined with the ability to deck build and fully customize your arsenal of death dealing magic."
1st Place: Android: Netrunner
Unbelievably close, did I mention only one vote decided these two?
What more can be said about Android: Netrunner at this point? Obviously one of the biggest winners of this year's polling, it's clear that gamers have been enjoying this one in droves. I remember going through the "This is never coming back in print" to "Ah, but FFG might screw this up" to "Holy shit, they nailed it."
A tense back-and-forth game of bluffing, feinting, cloak and dagger, with a giant pile of mindgames to go around, Android: Netrunner is no doubt a bonafide homerun for Fantasy Flight Games.
Repoman once again had a great comment that sums up how Netrunner transcends its many dead CCG brethren: "Bluff and counter bluff...elevating the game from one of Deck vs. Deck to Player vs. Player." And isn't that what we're pretty much all about?
And that's a wrap for this year's awards! I'll have more to say in the comments, but until then, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. Feel like something was overlooked or criminally robbed? Then make sure to have your voice count next year! So until Michael Bay gets to pork those hot extras he cast, I'll see ya in seven.