So I posted the Early Front-Runners a few months back, and there are a few other eligible games. But here are the finalists. The winning game will be announced next week while I'm at GenCon.
Le Fantôme de l’Opéra is the latest in the Mr. Jack line of games. Despite the title, the contents include the English rules - and it's the best-balanced of the line so far. I very much like this game and would play it more if it supported more than two players (but I can't think of any way to force this series to support more than two players).
The Duke continues to fill that "Chess-like game with a bit of randomness" niche for me. The more I play it, the less I see the randomness, though. I'm learning more and more that players have a great deal more control over the game and if you are in a "draw or lose" situation, you've probably misplayed somewhere a turn or two back. Another two-player game.
Twin Tin Bots continues to be a favorite - and now it's available in distribution from Iello. So it'll be more widely available, and you should be able to order it from your local game store. It scratches that Robo Rally itch in a fraction of the time. It's quick to learn, relatively quick to play, and even rookie gamers seem to warm to it quickly.
Mascarade is filling the Werewolves of Miller's Hollow itch for me these days - and, as an added bonus, it plays with smaller groups. A lot of people have compared it to The Resistance, but I don't see many similarities. And I also don't like The Resistance (sorry, guys). It's a hidden role game where sometimes you're not even sure what your own role is, due to the shifting. And - by the way - the best strategy I've found involves a lot of role-shifting.
Tokaido is another of those games that is new-to-me rather than being new. And I've played it a bunch, lately. And I'm always looking forward to my next game. It's one of the easiest games I've ever been able to teach, the art is distinctive and good. The theme is solid. There are multiple paths to victory. And it's just plain fun.
Concept was a Spiel des Jahres nominee this year - and with good reason. It's easy to learn, fun to play, and doesn't suffer as a game if you ignore the scoring. In many ways, it's actually a better game if you just play for the sake of playing. I'm learning that different groups are developing different "dialects" when it comes to what a few of the symbols on the board mean - and I find that endlessly fascinating.
There are other eligible games, but these six are the best new-to-me games this year. I have several games on my shelf that I'd like to play - but I won't be playing them until post-GenCon.
And, speaking of GenCon, next week, you'll get my usual Wednesday Morning Post (which will be my Game of the Year winner). But you'll also be getting scattered posts as I get breaks and an end-of-day wrapup post, provided I don't have some sort of technology issues. And, as I do every year, I'll also be posting pics of my Chick-Fil-A meal. Because we don't have CFA locally, yet (but it is apparently coming).
If you're going to be at GenCon, stop by and say hi. I always look forward to meeting people who read this thing.
I recently also updated things a bit - if you're on Tumblr, IFTTT will post links back to my blog, so you don't need to keep running back. At the moment, it's a link post - but I'm still learning Tumblr and IfTTT. Eventually, it'll post the whole thing. If I can figure out how to make it work.