Before I get too deep into this, let me remind you that my Game of the Year isn't necessarily the best game I played that year. It's not necessarily the deepest or the simplest or the zaniest. It's the game that, when I'm getting read for GenCon, I look back on and say, "I can't wait to get home and play that some more."
It was a tough decision this year - there were some really good early front-runners and some really good games that appeared late in the year. In fact, this is one of the best years for games I've seen in a long while.
This year, the winner is the game that best filled an odd gap in my collection.
This year, Nations: The Dice Game best fit the needs of my regular Wednesday group.
It scales well from 2-4, takes a surprisingly short amount of time to play, is easy to learn, and everyone seems to like it.
It's not the deepest game in my library - but it's a LONG ways from being the shallowest, because there are decisions that need to be made and they're not all as easy as you'd expect given its ten-twenty minute play time.
The rules are straightforward with no edge cases that we've been able to find so far.
There are multiple paths to victory, and most of the die colors emphasize two of these paths.
Dice - for the record hate me.
Like crazy a lot.
But these dice?
Well, I don't win very often, but I've only felt screwed due to die rolls once. Most of my losses, I can point at decisions I made. "I should have drafted [Tile] instead of [Tile], so that [Player] didn't have a shot at it." And the like.
All in all, this game was a pleasant surprise - especially when compared to its (much) heavier older brother, Nations (which is phenomenal, but not nearly as fast or easy).