We have just over a month to go before I have to pick a winner - and, as ever, it's not easy.
Remember: To be eligible, I need to have played the game for the first time at some point after the start of last year's GenCon. The game could be a thousand years old, but if it's new to me, it's eligible. None of this year's candidates are particularly old, however. One of them isn't even available, yet.
Oh - and I have to like the game. If I don't like your game, I won't post it, here. Because it has zero chance of winning. I guess that games I dislike are technically eligible, but ... well ... the odds are pretty slim.
Here is the current list of possibilities, along with a few comments on each:
Let's start with the obvious one. Eclipse. The game came from nowhere to become a huge hit on BoardGameGeek (and elsewhere). There was a long wait between print runs (the second printing is starting to arrive in game stores right now), and the game was selling for ridiculous amounts of money in the meantime. Is it that good?
Yes. Absolutely. I have acquired a number of space-themed 4X games over the last few years, and I think this is probably my favorite. The drawback to this one, of course, is its length. It's not an easy game to teach, and your first few games will run well past the "30 minutes per player" that they've put on the box.
Speaking of space-themed 4X games, Empires of the Void is on the list, too. It's a bit of a long shot, due to Eclipse hitting in the same Eric Year, but I am very glad I Kickstarted this one. It's solid, relatively fast, and doesn't seem to have huge rules holes like a number of small-press and/or self-published games do. And the variety contained in the base game seems to be enough to keep it going for a while. And it seems to be relatively easy to expand, too. Just add a few hexes and add some new starting races (My copy had more starting planets than races, so I have a hunch they have something already underway).
Another 4X I enjoyed was Ascending Empires. In general, I'm way too bad at dexterity flicking games. Especially when my friend John is playing. When it comes to flicking, John has superhuman dexterity. It's actually kinda creepy. But the strategy in this game meant that my lack of dexterity wasn't a death sentence against people who aren't John.
At the other end of the weight scale from Ascending Empires is Space Empires 4X. If you like crunchy, meaty, eighties-style wargaming with a fair degree of record-keeping, than this is your game. The record-keeping slowed it down for me, unfortunately. But I could probably be talked into playing it again sometime.
In a non-4X vein, Libertalia is quite good. While it doesn't release until GenCon, I was sent an early copy for play. And I liked it a whole lot more than I'd expected. It has similarities to Citadels and Mission: Red Planet, but it's different enough from both that I'm willing to leave it on my shelf. If you're curious, I will encourage you to stop by the Asmodee booth at GenCon, and I'll be glad to show it to you.
Quebec really stole the show for me at GenCon last year. Sadly, my group was only so-so on it. I consider this game to be vastly under-appreciated. It's still one of my favorites from the last year.
Skull and Roses has grown into a favorite of my group. My only complaint is that one of my more regular opponents has a very similar style of play to myself, so we both tend to double-think, which slows the game down a bit. The expansion, Skull and Roses Red doesn't actually change the game. It just adds more players to the mix.
Shitenno is another solid competitor, here, too. Too many games break down when there are three players. They turn into two-on-one or have a lot of kingmaking - that's not going to happen with this one. In fact, when I have three players, this is always the game I reach for. Now, if only someone in the US would pick this game up ...
In the same shipment, I received Tournay. Z-Man will be distributing this in the US, so you should be able to find it at lower and lower prices in the near future.
It turns out that Sorry! Sliders is as much fun as everyone said it was. Go figure. John regularly beats me at it, too. Again: Go figure.
Another game John beats me at is Bisikle.
And that about rounds up the list.
Just over a month to go before I pick the winner, which will be posted while I'm at GenCon.