The Best Games of 2012 (that I've played)

It’s the end of the year so no gaming blog is complete without a glut of ‘best of the year’ posts and being the sheep that we are at Polyhedron Collider here's the first post following that tired cliché. Here we're going to look at my best games of 2012 that I played. Unfortunately there are far too many great games that I've not had the opportunity to play and I'll start by doing a recap of those.

Some months ago I looked forward to my most anticipated games of the year, some of those have either failed to shine or I haven't had a chance to play.
Lords of Waterdeep – I haven't heard a bad word said about Lords of Waterdeep, the blend of eurogame and Dungeons and Dragons theme make it a winner for most groups and it looks like the game I need to fulfil the eurogame sized hole in my collection. Unfortunately I’ve not had a chance to play this game and prove my thought right or wrong.
Rex - As with Lords of Waterdeep, every review and write up loves Rex but I haven't been brave enough to stump up the readies and neither have the rest of my gaming group.
Merchant of Venus - I'll be honest here and say that the reviews of Merchant of Venus have put me off getting it for myself. It’s the playtime that’s the deal; I don't think my gaming group can handle another game that takes more than three hours to play.
Relic - this failed to follow the light of the Emperor and got lost in the Warp, hopefully we are expecting to see this early in 2013
Spartacus - I actually have this board game sitting on my shelf, but I’ve not had a chance to play it yet, Its shaping up to be one of the best TV tie ins till Battlestar Galactica but without some play that’s just hear say and conjecture.

So let’s get on with the Polyhedron Collider Best Five games of 2012 (that I’ve actually played).

5 Smash Up

It’s a bit of an internet staple; who would win in a fight against a pirate and a ninja? In Smash up you can prove it once and for all. The concept is simple take two faction decks, shuffle them together and then play a minion and an action card. The aim is to load up bases with your minions in order to score them. Every card has its own abilities and effects and it’s these effects that keep that game fun and interesting. The best part comes from combining the abilities from two different factions, use your pirates to move a ninja to a different base and then poison someone, get your aliens to teleport away an opposing minion only to replace it with your rocket armed Tyrannosaurus Rex (yes that's a card!). Smash Ups downside is that it gets very messy, there are cards literally everywhere and it relies on players keeping an eye on what’s going on on each base. Even with these issues the game is simple to learn and immense fun.
Smash Up contains a collection of crazy cards that can be combined in interesting ways.

4 Infiltration

Infiltration got a little bit lost in the noise this year, the ‘other Android card game’ was a bit over shadowed by number 3 on this list even with the world famous Donald X Vaccarino’s name plastered on the front. The world of Android can best be described as the setting of Blade Runner, with a dose of I Robot thrown in for good measure. The world is run by evil mega-corporations and you play one of the good guys who are breaking into a corporation’s headquarters to steal valuable data. Each turn you choose an action and then all players play out their actions in turn order. Each turn is a valuable decision, should I press on into the building, download the data in this room or head out before the fuzz arrive. It’s the slow but steady threat of the police turning up and locking the building down that makes this game so interesting, should you press on into the upper offices of the corporation or should you just make a break for it now with what little data you’ve got. It’s a shame that this game got lost in the Netrunner craze as it’s a great game and richly deserves to be here. I forgot to mention, it take less than an hour to play and I’ll guarantee as soon as you’ve finished one game you’ll be setting it up for another go.

Can you make it out with all the data or will you be caught by the fuzz?

3 Android Netrunner

I don't need a new trading card game and I don't want a new card game. I don’t want to be spending all my money buying extra cards or and all my time building up decks, it’s an addiction I could live without but Netrunner is something special. Based in the same universe as Infiltration and Android, Netrunner has a player taking the role of a hacker, jacking himself into the network to steal the agendas of the corporations. If you’ve read anything like Neuromancer or Snow Crash you’ll get the gist. The beauty lies in Netrunner being an asynchronous game. One player is the hacker the other the corporation and both decks work completely different and have different goals. The corporation is trying to build his agendas on remote servers and protecting them with ice, while the hacker is attempting to remotely hack these servers, bypass the ice and shut down the corporation’s evil schemes. The high technology theme blends into the mechanics in a way never seen before in a card game. 

If I ran a 'best trading card game of the year' there would only be Netrunner.

2 Star Wars - X-Wing Miniatures Game

Dog fights, in space, with x-wings, need I say anymore? There was always a worry that this game may be licence over substance and we’ve seen this kind of problems so many times before, especially with the Star Wars licence, but what Fantasy Flight Games have done here is take the very essence of what made the Death Star attack so awesome way back in 1977 and turn it into a fun but tight little miniatures game. It’s not without its problems, it’s an expensive game to get going and once the Millennium Flacon and Slave 1 hit the scene I’m not sure where else this game can go but as it’s currently stands it’s great. I’ve mentioned before how the game play mechanics are closely linked to Wings of War and it’s done the great thing of making me never want to buy Wings of War, not because it’s a rubbish game but because X-Wing works so much better and includes lasers.
A sizable game of X-Wing in progress.

1 Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd Edition

I’ve been looking for a good dungeon crawler for some time and Descent 2nd edition neatly fits the bill. I’ve never played the original version but Descent 2 is fast fun and has plenty of opportunities for replay. It’s true that the theme is horribly clichéd, it’s awfully cheesy and the game suffers from Fantasy Flight’s addiction to hundreds of tiny cards but its bloody good fun. Every quest is unique and doesn’t fall into the simple ‘kill everything that moves’ problem. Instead every quest has a pair of opposing goals and whoever meets their goal first wins and nets their rewards. There’s a big problem in that game balance is all over the place but that’s not what Descent is about, you shouldn’t really be playing this game competitively, you should be having a fun adventure. The miniatures are fantastic, the game tiles are beautifully artistic and there are many hours worth of campaign fun for you and your friends.

Our adventurers set out on their first quest of Descent.
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