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F:AT Reader's Choice Awards 2011

KB Updated
F:AT Reader's Choice Awards 2011
There Will Be Games

You guys voted and made your voices heard--now, step inside for this year's F:AT Reader's Choice Awards for 2011.  It was a great year for games, and a lot of votes were cast; now's the time to see what stood tall as the smoke cleared.  Step inside, the nominees are all taking their seats and sweating nervously....

F:AT Reader's Choice, Best Wargame 2011

Don't you just love the smell of napalm in the morning?  These are the games with no guts, no glory--about firing all of your guns at once and, well, just exploding stuff in general.

Game(s) also receiving more than 1 vote:  Conquest of Nerath, Sekigahara: Unification of Japan, Summoner Wars: Master Set, Cave Evil, A Few Acres of Snow

3rd and 2nd place (tie, with 12.5% of the vote):

No_RetreatNo Retreat: The Russian Front and Space Empires 4x

No Retreat! The Russian Front is a deluxe reprint of a 2008 game that features thick counters, a mounted board, and reportedly extremely accessible gameplay with low unit density.  From all reports this is a great treatment by GMT, who have really stepped up several notches in bringing wargamersspace-empires-4xfantastic components, mounted boards, and sturdy counters.

Space Empires 4x is a pure hex-n-counter game in the same vein as Twilight Imperium, but with much more of a wargame/simulation bent.  All the 4xs are here: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate.

GMT have had quite a ride over the past few years, especially in terms of the crossover success of Twilight Struggle.  Clearly they are one of THE go-to companies for great wargames, and as their components and games get better and better, the future is looking pretty bright for them. Clearly, our readers agree:

"(Space Empires 4x) is TI3 stripped of the politics and trade with a dynamite fog of war...I love a six-hour game and Space Empires might become my preference over TI3."  --wdgrant

"How it it possible that (No Retreat) caputres the scope and tension of the Ost front with so few counters?"  -- flim_flam

"The hidden fleet and tech aspects combined with the offensive nature of the game make(s) (Space Empires 4x) a winner.  Did I mention the Doomsday Machines?"   --TDawg


1st place (with 16.67% of the vote):

Risk_Legacy_Box_CoverRisk: Legacy

It's hard to overstate just how weird--and yet refreshing--the concept behind Risk: Legacy is.  Take the classic Risk, mix it up with some of the innovations inserted to the game over the past few years, and then frame it all in a perpetual world that changes as you play, based on the actions of players in each game.

Sure, it's still Risk, but somehow Rob Daviau and company managed to find a way to make the old new again.  It's a rare title that rewards players for dedication and repeat plays, something that I think is very much in the spirit of wargamers.   It's a game that your friends can play over and over, forming this world that's all your own, and have stories to tell about it for years to come.  Especially when you have to explain how "El Asso, Texas" was added to the map after one of your triumphant victories.

It's a roleplaying campaign with a familiar shell and completely accessible gameplay.   In an industry that wants to force feed you light games that you play twice and toss aside for the next one, this was a pretty bold move by Hasbro.  But we've come to expect nothing less from Rob and his team.

Here's what a couple of our readers had to say about Risk: Legacy:

"...for the idea of writing on the board and ripping up cards alone.  :)  This is a game-changer."   -- scissors

"Any game that forces you to live with the stupid shit you did last game, let alone being a good game in its own right is the king shit."  --SuperflyTNT

"...has created a completely new category of games, and it is awesome.  It's probably the closest board game equivalent to that feeling of unlocking an achievement in a video game."  --happyjosiah


F:AT Reader's Choice, Best 2 player Game 2011

You versus your opponent.  No politics.  No alliances, no ambiguities.  When it's just you and a buddy, these are the games that let you crush each other mercilessly.  (Besides, play solo too much, and you'll go blind.)

Game(s) also receiving more than 1 vote:  Sekigahara: Unification of Japan, Yomi, Omen: A Reign of War

3rd Place (with 14.81% of the vote):

A Few Acres of Snow

Few people could have predicted that Martin Wallace would be the one to cook up the next great deckbuilder, but what heAFAoS_Cover managed to accomplish was pretty special--what truly feels like the next evolution in the genre.

More than just a deckbuilder, it's a pseudo-wargame with the deckbuilding portion as just one part of the greater whole.  Now, your decisions aren't just driven by what cards you need, but by what you need to get accomplished on the board.

With seiges, raiding, settlements, trading, and ambushing, there's a little something for everyone in here, and the whole game works remarkably well at giving you the deckbuilding tools and then turning you loose on an open map.

"Best implementation of the deck building mechanic thus far."  --flim_flam


2nd Place (with 18.52% of the vote):


Gamers who yearned for the Games Workshop of old--you know, the company that brought us classic games such as Blood Bowl, Space Hulk, and Warhammer Quest, to name a few--had their hopes renewed over the past few years with not only the reprinting of Space Hulk, but now a brand-new boxed set game that features monstrous sea captains doing battle amongst the dark tides.

The price tag was steep, but the game was replete with the high quality stuff that GW is known for.  Lots of boardgamers got out their glue and paintbrushes for this one and some of the paint jobs I've seen online have been unreal.

Here is what our readers had to say about Dreadfleet:

"Great components.  Great fun."  --Space Ghost

"Dice, INCREDIBLE components, and a theme that is outstanding as any you're going to find.  Add the fact that it's got bad-ass ships powered by genies and a fucking mechanical kraken...It's like nerd pr0n."  --SuperflyTNT

"The models are sharp as fuck, the mat is lay you down by the fire sexy and the rules are Neanderthal simply to play."  --Fallen


1st Place (with 22.22% of the vote):

Summoner_Wars_CoverSummoner Wars: Master Set

Little did we know a few years ago when Heroscaper (and long time F:ATtie) Colby Dauch unleashed a little card game called Summoner Wars upon the world, we would be seeing the start of a monster franchise that would propel Plaid Hat Games to the forefront of fans looking for some skirmishing fantasy creature action?

Even bigger of a surprise was when the Master Set was announced.  Not content to regurgitate existing armies and re-sell them to people in a new package, Colby managed to bring out a set with SIX brand new armies, a mounted board, and a great big box to store all those cards in.

Summoner Wars surprises me every time I play it, in that there are new things to discover, new strategies to try with each and every army.  What looks like such a simple and barebones rule system manages to stay out of the way and let the cards--the real stars of the show--do the talking.

Cetainly on of the best deals in gaming in 2011, our readers have chosen this one as the best 2-player game to boot.  Here's what they had to say:

"Great new teams with a ton of new strategies."  --wdgrant

"I love the way Summoner Wars takes a relatively simple set of rules and lets each faction's deck change can tell it is a labor of love both for the designers and playtesters."  --happyjosiah



F:AT Reader's Choice, Best Storytelling/Thematic Game 2011

"Dripping with theme" is a trite, overused phrase these days, but even so if these games were any more dripping with theme, you'd need a towel just to play.

Game(s) also receiving more than 1 vote:  None

3rd Place (with 5.71% of the vote):

Mansions of Madness

This is Corey Konieczka's story-driven foray into H.P Lovecraft's world of elder gods, ancient ones, unspeakable horrorsMansions_of_Madness_Cover and the delusional cultists trying to hasten their return.  Gamers welcomed this ambitious title with open arms, as it combined some of the better elements of roleplaying with boardgaming mechanisms.  Done in the same style as several of Fantasy Flight's "many versus one" games (Fury of Dracula, Doom, Descent, Middle-Earth Quest) the Keeper player would set up clues and events for each story as the investigators tried to puzzle their way through each mystery.

Here are what some of you said about Mansions of Madness:

"I don't even think another game tried to compete with this in terms of storytelling...the combat mechanics are so simple yet the flavor text makes the battles really great."  --Egg Shen

"It's all about theme, and I think it's got a great system."  --AdamK

2nd Place (with 8.57% of the vote):

Mage_Knight_Board_Game_CoverMage Knight

A respectable showing for Vlaada and Wizkid's new adventure game, Mage Knight has been described as "Magic Realm Lite".  Borrowing elements of typical adventure games, mixing in a dash of deckbuilding, and then truly turning the players loose, by all accounts this is one of the next "great" adventure games.

I'd love to play this one, but it sold out pretty quickly.  I think, like last year, had this not been such a late release, and was actually available for purchase, this would have received even more votes.

Still, a lot of reviewers whose opinions I respect have given this one the thumbs up, and our astute readers who have been lucky enough to try it have been lavishing praise on it as well:

"Very few games make such an impression that I spend all the next day thinking of them.  When that happens, I know the game was great."  --repoman

1st Place (with a whopping 48.57% of the vote):

Merchants_and_MaraudersMerchants and Marauders

Speaking of last year's voting, Merchants and Marauders was in that no-man's land of being a late release that was impossible to get not long after it came out.  It took a reprint in 2011 for most gamers to finally get their hands on it.

For those who were looking for that perfect pirate game, especially where so many had failed, Merchants and Marauders came along and offered an open sea where you could play nice, running a respectable business, or you could ply your villainous (*cough misunderstood *cough) trade by plundering those juicy merchant vessels.  But as your reputation as a pirate grew, so too did the number of guns searching for you, to cash in that big bounty.

I'm not sure how many adventurous tales are told about those playing the Merchant side, but I've already read several awesome reports of pirate captains searching for treasure, hunting down rumors, and destroying and raiding merchant ships while avoiding the navies of powerful nations looking to send them to Davy Jones' locker.

"The stories that this game allows are wonderful (from seeing the capture of a Man-of-War to the 'I'd rather sink my ship than see your hand on MY gold.')" --TDawg




F:AT Reader's Choice, Best Deckbuilding/Card Game 2011

Like it or not, Deckbuilding as a genre is here to stay.  2011 appeared to be the year of the deckbuilder, as every company you could imagine scrambled to cobble together a licensed game featuring deckbuilding mechanics.  Within the next year I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see a glut of these very similar to the flood of "me too" CCGs from 1995.

But, as time goes on, fear not--they'll take their place alongside their other card game brethren as just another thing that some card games do.  For those who like these games, well, enjoy the ride (I have.)  For those who shake violently when reading the words "Deckbuilder", just know that this too shall pass.  Meanwhile, enjoy the other quality card games that came out this year.  And switch to decaf, eh?

Game(s) also receving more than 1 vote: Summoner Wars: Master Set, Nightfall

3rd Place (tie, with 9.09% of the vote):

Yomi_CoverYomi and Omen: A Reign of War

Here are two games from smaller publishers that, despite their one-man operations, managed to shine through in a very crowded field.

Yomi is brilliant.  It's one of those concepts where when you hear the core engine is Rock, Paper, Scissors, you just stand there with a bewildered stare.  Then you actually play it--the different characters, the card combos, the mind games--and you finally understand what all the fuss is about.  Soon you're feinting a Throw but instead Dodge and unleash your massively damaging super combo, and you wonder how you waited so long to try this game.

It's expensive for the Deluxe set that has everything, but with ten characters in there that all play radically differently and a game system that rewards study and repeat play--it's worth it.

Omen: A Reign of War is certainly a game that a company would've been happy to sell you in booster backs fifteenOmen_Reign_of_War_Coveryears ago.  Players control beasts, soldiers, and oracles as they battle over war-torn cities, looking to claim the rewards and favors of the gods above.

Featuring a draft mode as well as the standard way to play, Omen is a robust game in a little package.  The expansion came along and offered more, more, more--more cards, more strategies, and more ways to play.

Here's what you guys (and gals) had to say about Yomi and Omen: A Reign of War.

"(Yomi) Takes all I love about a highschool lunchtime favorite - lunch money - and makes it good, sleek, and modern.  Keeps all the fun." --SaMoKo

"...but one that stood the test throughout the year was Yomi.  We love the artwork, the game system, and all the second-guessing of moves, plus discovering how the different characters play."  --scissors

"YOMI--hands down, easy to learn, tough to master, fun to play."  --Gearhead

"(Yomi) is a masterpiece of outsider design that works...Yomi is something different that deserves recognition for it."  --dysjunct

"The only thing missing (from Omen) is the naked chicks from Temp" --SuperflyTNT

"I'm still playing the hell out of (Omen) and loving it.  It doesn't get old."  --madwookiee


2nd Place (with 15.15% of the vote):


Is it possible to say the name of this game without going, "Quarrrrriorrrrrs....come out and plaaaayayyyy...."?  Who knows but this was another of Wizkid's successes this year as they have fully risen from the dead and have entered the boardgaming market with a vengeance.

Looking to differentiate itself from the other deckbuilders, Quarriors! is instead a "dice-builder", where you use dice instead of cards.  The dice represent mana, magic, and monsters as you build up your forces, cast your spells, and summon dragons to vanquish your foes.


1st Place (with 33.33% of the vote):

Blood_Bowl_TM_CoverBlood Bowl Team Manager

Almost given up on for vaporware, this fall Fantasy Flight gifted gamers with the long-awaited Blood Bowl Team Manager.  Originally marketed as a deckbuilder, when it finally debuted it was more of a regular card game than many expected, with just a smidgeon of deckbuilding in the form of acquiring star players.

Blood Bowl Team Manager abstracted a lot of the gameplay of its namesake, but still manages to deliver bone-crushing hits, dirty plays, and bone-crushing violence.  What more could you ask for?  Oh yeah, fantastic artwork and fast gameplay in a nice travel-sized box.  Everything about this screams "winner"...and if you don't agree, that fanged gentlemen on the cover would like a word with you.

Here's what our readers were saying about Blood Bowl: Team Manager:

"Completely different than what I originally hope for in the game, in a good way."  --wdgrant

"Great game that captures the flavor of Blood Bowl as well as the Warhammer Universe.  Nice surprise."  --TDawg

F:AT Reader's Choice, Best Adventure Game 2011

You're sitting in a tavern with your travelling companions, when a messenger rushes through the doors, gasping for breath and scanning the room with wide eyes.  Once those eyes focus on your party, he makes a beeline for your table, you blink in surprise as he says, "roll for initiative."

Fantasy, space, the high seas, or the darkest dungeons, these are the games that sent us on the grandest adventures in 2011.

Game(s) also receiving more than 1 vote: Star Trek: Fleet Captains

3rd Place (with 9.38% of the vote):

Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of AshardalonWrath_of_Ashardalon_Box_Cover

Not so long ago, if you wanted a dungeon crawl, you didn't have many options outside of Descent's mammoth playing time, or hunting down one of the older OOP games like Heroquest.  Wizards of the Coast came to the rescue with their new line of games that give you that scratch that dungeon exploration itch without consuming half a day to play it.

Wrath of Ashardalon was released after Castle Ravenloft and gave gamers a pure fantasy adventure as opposed to the gothic feel of Ravenloft.  And it proved to be another solid, enjoyable entry in the series.  Is it as deep or rich as Descent? Hell no.  But it is a game that you can bash out with your buddies whether they're hardcore gamers or not, and you don't have to fiddle with a million pieces just to get things rollin'.

Clearly, you fine folks agree:

"C'mon.  It ups the ante from Ravenloft and has the classic monsters of D&D that Drizzt lacks.  Did I mention Ashardalon is a Dragon?"  --TDawg

"Better treasure, different rooms....Yes sir, I like it."  --Egg Shen

2nd Place (with 25% of the vote):

Mage Knight

Showing up on our list again is Mage Knight, this time in the Adventure category.  There is something appealing about an adventure game that takes you off the rails and lets you play our way--to tell your own stories.  It is the kind of game that lets you say, "What's over that mountain?" and instead of a panicked stare from your unprepared Dungeonmaster, you simply go and find out.

Even with its limited release, it put up a good fight, getting a full quarter of the vote.  I really do need to get my hands on a copy of this at some point.

A few more choice quotes about Mage Knight:

"...a modern version of Magic Realm."  --Space Ghost

"This is a great game....I normally hate deckbuilding, but this game finally cahnges it from being a mechanic to being part of something great."  --SaMoKo

1st Place (with 34.38% of the vote):

Merchants_and_MaraudersMerchants and Marauders

If there's one thing all three of these games have in common, it's the idea that you can explore and let the world form around you.  Literally in the case of Wrath of Ashardalon as you build the dungeon as you go, but also from a developing world perspective for Mage Knight and this year's winner of best adventure game, Merchants and Marauders.

It was a closer fight than expected, and M&M was undoubtedly aided by Mage Knight's scarcity as well as the refreshing change of scenery from fantasy to piracy.  So pass the rum, and get to exporin', matey.

"Arrrr!  That's why!"  --Gearhead


F:AT Reader's Choice, Best Expansion 2011

What's better than your favorite game?  An expansion for your favorite game!  These are the expansions that embiggened their parent games in the best possible way in 2011.

Game(s) also receiving more than 1 vote: Claustrophobia: De Profundis, Battlestar Galactica: Exodus, Chaos in the Old World: The Horned Rat

3rd Place (with 15.79% of the vote):

Summoner Wars: Master Set

Summoner Wars was possibly hurt a bit by its "fish or fowl" idenity crisis in this year's voting.  For my part, I thought it best to let your voices determine what you wanted, but for structure's sake next year we may do a little more preliminary group discussion and voting beforehand.

At any rate, its hard to argue that Summoner Wars was expanded in a BIG way with the Master Set--six new armies with all new powers and a glossy mounted board.  Plus a place to put all those gosh-darned cards.  That's quality, no matter how you slice it.

"This is the expansion that puts the game in the big leagues.  It was excellent before, but now there are no excuses for not owning it."  --madwookiee

"This was a rocking surprise from (Plaid Hat Games) and takes a great game to elite status."  --flim_flam

"It did massively expand the available options and is a terrific value."  --AdamK


2nd Place (with 21.05% of the vote):

Twilight Imperium: Shards of the ThroneTI_Shards_of_The_Throne_cover

It had seemingly been so long since a new release that Twilight Imperium fans had contented themselves with Shattered Empires as their only expansion.  Fantasy Flight surprised everyone when they announced this baby earlier in the year, and gamers rejoiced.  If one word sums up Twilight Imperium, it's MORE! And that's exactly what Shards of the Throne delivered.

New races, mercenaries, tanks, flagships...scenario play...more plastic, more gaming options, just like I said...MORE!

There's been talk about "Twilight Imperium Killers" out there, games that would take the throne from TI.  The fact is this--it's TI's throne to keep, and let these new usurpers come.  In the meantime, Shards of the Throne gave everyone a little more of their favorite epic drug of choice.

Here's what you said:

" I LOVE Twilight Imperium.  Anything that brings this monster to the table is a shoe-in for best expansion."  --Fallen

"The Mech...and Flagships are nice but I really love the historical scenario, a madhouse battle that has no victory points involved!"  --TDawg

1st Place (with 23.68% of the vote):

CE_Cosmic_ConflictCosmic Encounter: Cosmic Conflict

Hey, what better than an expansion that adds even more goodies to the first game inducted into the Ameritrash Hall of Fame? According to our readers, nothin', that's what!

Cosmic Conflict adds another color for more players, 20 more races that puts the total number somewhere squarely between a lot and obscene, and a Hazard deck that shakes up the game in a variety of ways, some temporary, some permanent.

Cosmic Encounter is at its best when players are trying to maximize the strategies of new and exciting races.  With the addition of this, it should be a long, long time before you *ever* had to play the same race twice--assuming you ever did.

It's affordable and it adds lots of cool stuff, so do yourself a favor and go get it.  If you don't already own Cosmic Encounter, well, buy this anyway and hold on to it until you come to your senses and pick up your copy of one of the best boardgames of all time.

Thoughts on Cosmic Conflict:

"It's Cosmic...and the black ships just crashed your planet." --scissors

"More goodness for one of the greatest games ever made."  --Egg Shen

F:AT Reader's Choice, Best Beer n' Pretzels Game 2011

These are the games that let you chuck some dice with one hand, while the other keeps a steady stream of beer and munchies headed your way.  Light, fun, but loud and brash, these are the games that had players tipping their mugs and saying, "one more game!"

Game(s) also receiving more than 1 vote: None

3rd Place (with 7.89% of the vote):

Risk: Legacy

What beer n' pretzels list would be complete without Risk in there somewhere?  While Risk: Legacy may have a deep campaign mode, the fact is that when it all comes down to it, it's about taking your stack of dudes, pointing to a spot on the map, and grabbing a fistful of dice, glaring menacingly at any would-be defenders.

Risk is THE original Dudes on a Map game, and its combat system is pretty much a part of our collective consciousness.  What that means?  You're free to gulp more beer as you toss those dice and look for boxcars.  And then there are those endless stories of that ONE GUY that just won't die as he tosses fives and sixes, prompting cheers (and groans!) with each roll.

"This game made me like Risk again.  Everything about it makes just works and it's damn fun."  --madwookiee

2nd Place (with 21.05% of the vote):


This is a game that wears its humor on its sleeve.  It's all about a handful of dice, a few rolls, some special powers, then sending your creatures out to destroy anyone in your path.

On the Game On with Cody and John podcast, they talk a lot about "stand up dice rolls"--games that inspire that one roll during the game that must be taken standing up.  Quarriors! passes that test, as you clutch your dice, needing badly for your dragon to roll summon-side up so you can stop Eugene from winning with his stupid defensive knights.  You'll hoop, holler, and beg those dice to cooperate.

Meanwhile--pass the Genuine Draft!  I've got some killin' to do.

1st Place (with 44.74% of the vote):

King_of_Tokyo_Box_CoverKing of Tokyo

King of Tokyo pretty much embodies what the spirit of beer n' pretzels gaming is all about.  From gaming wizard Richard Garfield (you may have heard of the guy, and his game Magic the something-or-another), King of Tokyo is a dice duel to the death between giant monsters from all your favorite b-films.  Giant gorillas, huge lizards, and a giant bunny-driven mechs (say what now?) all try to stand tall as the King of Tokyo.

It's all about chunking dice, needing those healing points or those claws, or...whatever your furry bunny needs to keep the battle going just one more day.

And if standing tall as king of the hill doesn't inspire you to chug your favorite brew, then there is absolutely no help for you.

Here's what you guys had to say about the mighty King of Tokyo:

"In what other game could you be the Friend of the Children AND destroy Tokyo and your enemies?"  --Last Alchemist

"More than any other game on the list, this one leads to 'just one more game' syndrome.  So many fun abilities, great components, and the joy of beating down your friends."  --happyjosiah

"Too often, beer and pretzles games are more focused on who you're playing with rather than the game itself....but a game that can offer that light fun atmosphere...and stand on its own merit as a game -- that's just even better, isn't it?" --SaMoKo

"I have played so much of this throughout the year with many different kinds of groups."  --flim_flam



F:AT Reader's Choice, Game of the Year 2011

Game(s) also receiving more than 1 vote: Risk: Legacy, Eclipse, Mage Knight, Yomi, A Few Acres of Snow, Mansions of Madness, Blood BowlTeam Manager, Cave Evil, Space Empires 4x

3rd Place (with 9.52% of the vote):

King of Tokyo

Not only did this capture the hearts of gamers looking for a lighter slugfest, but this one was a keeper on pretty much every front.  Very few people who are introduced to this game can resist its charms for long, and it has that highly elusive "one more game" quality that keeps gamers coming back for more.

There's so much to love in this game.  Standing tall and dishing out mass beatings to everyone as you roar over Tokyo, to scheming with other players to claw and scratch the current king until he has to crawl home and lick his wounds, to trying to get those sets of numbers to ramp up your VPs, and those crazy cards that add all sorts of unique powers and situations to every game.

It's getting a much-deserved reprint in a few months, this time with engraved dice, so keep an eye out for that.

Some last words for King of Tokyo:

"Very fun, very accessible."  --Aarontu

"I've taken this to a dozen different places, even a wedding, and it went over like gangbusters!"  --Gearhead

"I've introduce (King of Tokyo) to probably 12 people and every single one of them enjoyed it.  Even the dice-hating Euros love it.  KoT gets played at least once every game night."  --cdennett

"In terms of just being the most fun all-around, King of Tokyo."  --Grudunza


2nd Place (with 11.11% of the vote):

Ascending EmpiresAscending_Empires_box

Combining space exploration and combat with....flicking?  This is *the* one game that should not have worked this year, and yet Ascending Empires won the battle-hardened hearts of those who tried it this year.

Featuring exploration, technology trees, combat, and "screw your neighbor" blockades, this is a game that manages to pack in a surprising amount of gameplay, and somehow keeps the flicking just another part of the gameplay, rather than dominating it.  That is no small feat, I promise you.

I am embarassed to admit that this was a game that I was highly skeptical of when I first heard about, and even after watching it being played.  It wasn't until I gave it a chance that I realized I'd been sleeping on an incredible game.  I passed up the chance to play this at Trashfest South with the fellas, but you'd better believe I'll be hunting up a game of this post haste for Trashfest South 2012.

Here's what you guys had to say about Ascending Empires:

"There are few games that do 4x space--shit games can be played in an hour and a half and..has an awesome dexterity component, it makes this the best game this year, hands down."  --SuperflyTNT

"...combines so many things that I enjoy in such a novel way.  I love the manual dexterity aspect, and think they've woven it seamlessly into a tight space exploration game."  --AdamK

"Absolutely the most fun I've had playing a game all year."  --repoman

"Great game with a good deal of hidden depth.  Also, takes about five minutes to explain the rules."  --engineer Al


And now, the moment you've all been waiting for.....


1st Place (with 14.29% of the vote):

Merchants_and_MaraudersMerchants and Marauders

The voting was very close, but Fortress: AT readers have spoken, and Merchants and Marauders was their Reader's Choice Game of the Year for 2011.

What more can be said about Merchants and Marauders, and it's terrific showing with our reader awards this year?  It finally wiped away years of terrible pirate games, such as Dread Pirate, Sword and Skull, League of Pirates, or even the mighty Pirate-opoly. It was the adventure game a lot of gamers were looking for, even if they didn't realize it.  It finally eased the pain of the never-released Sid Meier's Pirates: The Boardgame (coming 2004!)  It finally provided a game of substance beyond gamers sitting around the table and going "Yaaarrrrrrr!" for two hours straight.

Z-Man gave us a beautiful treatment of this game, once called Age of Piracy (for the record, the Age of Piracy in Georgia is 16.  Don't quote me on that.)  Awesome plastic ships, tons of cards, and lots of adventure and gaming in between.

Some may quibble with the eligibility of this game as it was a 2010 tail-ender, and we'll be discussing this more at length before the awards next year, but your voices were clearly heard as Merchants and Marauders earned so many votes it would be impossible to deny it the crown.  In this case, the gold and jewel-encrusted crown taken from a haughty royal vessel, right before sinking it into the sea.  Yar har.

So a BIG congratulations to Z-Man and designers Kasper Aagaard and Christian Marcussen for the well-deserved prize of being our F:AT Reader's Choice for Game of the Year, 2011.

Here's what you guys had to say:

"Merchants & Marauders will be remembered as one of the greats.  It's flat-out brilliant."  --Mr. Bistro

"This was the year of the great pirate game!  Finally...we have...THE ONE!"  --Gearhead

"This is the perfect pirate adventuring game.  Start as the captain of a raft, end up the pirate king.  Nothing else even compares."  --SuperflyTNT



And that's going to do it for this year's Reader's Choice extravaganza!  I hope you enjoyed it, it was a pleasure to put together and get a feel of the pulse for all of your favorite games.

If you didn't vote this year, you've got no excuse!  And make sure to make your voices heard, this time next year.

Thanks for reading, and most of all for making F:AT awesome.  I'll see you in seven days, where I'll be doing my own personal year-end wrap-up.  I hope to see you then!

There Will Be Games
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