The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

So, were there any classic games released last year?

I’d say no, but my track record recently indicates that I’m not up to date on what’s good. This follows the new Tao-of-Gaming-Rule-Of-Everything ® — “Let’s see if people still like this in a few years.” (Current Tao Media Watching includes such cutting edge shows as The Sopranos and The Shield). So, this is more of an “Do you really think that anything you’ve bought in the last 18 months (say) is likely to reach classic status.

A classic game can get burned out, but after a suitable lapse (say, a few years) you start playing it again.

A classic should have a reasonable chance of making it to 25+ games (for longer games, this could be lowered).

I actually think there were a few classic games 2-3 years ago. I’m still binging on Mage Knight, Sentinels. Other games could become classics, like King of Tokyo. But last year? I don’t know.

So, enlighten me. Open Thread. Given that we’re talking about classic status, I expect the false positive ratio to be tampered down a bit. Say, to 75%, not the usual 90%.

Written by taogaming

May 22, 2014 at 8:24 pm

23 Responses

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  1. I thought Dominion would never not see play at game get-togethers, but it seems to have tapered off in Vermont, aside from the annual tournament at Carnage. My friends and I burned out somewhere around Cornucopia, and I haven’t made a strong effort to get back to the game. I do want to, though, especially with Dark Ages still to try.


    May 22, 2014 at 9:05 pm

  2. From the 2013 games I’ve played, the only potential classic is Machi Koro (but only with Machi Koro Plus). It already hit 20+ games, and while the pace has slowed down – less time to play games with my son, who is my main Machi Koro opponent – I expect it to pick up again.

    Mikko Saari

    May 23, 2014 at 1:59 am

  3. This are the ones I think have potential to become classic:
    – Eldrich Horror : If we consider Arkham Horror a classic, then Eldrich Horror seems to be replacing it in many collection. It has the potential to become THE Cathulu coop in few years (especially if FGG supports it with many expansions)
    – Tash Kalar: although has a very specific group of audience, it is so different that I cant see it be replaced by any game very soon and it has enough depth and layers that for its own group to achieve +25 games easily.


    May 23, 2014 at 2:14 am

    • Tash Kalar is a great game, but I think the audience for it may not be large enough to make it a classic.

      Blake Carper

      May 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm

  4. Guns of Gettysburg is, for me, an obvious classic. It’s never going to get played a ton – it doesn’t have the immediate “one more time” that keeps you playing it every week for a while – but it’s viscerally engaging and seems clear it’ll have really strong replay value for a long time.

    One classic euro I expect to have a long shelf life is Ginkgopolis. It hasn’t grabbed everyone I’ve played it with, but it has the attributes of a classic, something that’ll come off the shelf infrequently but reliably.

    Loka has potential, if it can find its audience. Asgard’s Chosen keeps growing on me each time I play it, but it’s a risky bet for classic status.

    For me, Star Trek Catan and Catan: Explorers & Pirates did a lot to revive Catan and get it played semi-regularly again.

    Ascension: Storm of Souls and Immortal Heroes are the best Ascension sets so far and they’ll get play for quite a while.

    There were a couple of more classic war games that I expect to be playing for some time, notably France ’40, Panzer, and Napoleon 4th.

    The truly outstanding games I played in 2013 were all RPGs, though: Numenera, Hillfolk, and Night’s Black Agents are all among the best RPG products I have ever seen. Even The One Ring and Star Wars: Edge of the Empire were really strong games but marred by significant presentation problems. I do often feel like the board gaming hobby is calcifying, but RPG designers are zooming ahead with some really interesting work.

    Anyway, on the whole though I still feel like there wasn’t a ton of depth in 2013, more a bunch of good but niche-type games, but Numenera and Guns of Gettysburg were both super-awesome.

    Chris Farrell

    May 23, 2014 at 2:43 am

  5. I would expect Pax Porfiriana to become a classic for people who have been exposed to it, given your definition of classic. Love letter might also be, in a very different style, a future classic. I played a bunch of good games from 2013, but these 2 seem to me having a potential for staying around.


    May 23, 2014 at 9:29 am

  6. I think Russian Railroads has some legs and is a top tier medium to medium heavy worker placement game.


    May 23, 2014 at 11:22 am

  7. I scoured the 2013-2014 lists on BGG, but found nothing I would take with me to the island.


    May 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm

  8. OK, let’s see…

    Already over 25 plays: Russian Railroads. Definitely a classic for me.

    Likely to hit 25+ plays: Glass Road is already half way there, and seems likely to make it. Shephy will, but I wouldn’t call a classic; Whacky Wit will, and is a classic, but of an unusual variety. Twin Tin Bots will, but it’s likely to be a slower path; the same for Concordia and Lewis & Clark.

    Could well hit 25+ plays: Spyrium and Brügge both have a good chance, but only over time. Koryo might zoom to 25 very quickly, even though it hasn’t done so yet; so might Sail to India.

    The problem for me is that there were a _lot_ of games I really enjoy released in 2013, which is slowing down the rate at which any one of them (save Russian Railroads) is being played. There are twenty 2013 designs which I’ve played at least six times so far.

    Joe Huber

    May 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm

  9. re: Russian Rails and Love Letter: no. Nice try, but no.

    Chris Farrell

    May 23, 2014 at 6:54 pm

  10. Russian Railroads is the obvious choice. It’s certainly a classic *Eurogame* and I’m sure many players have already put in 25+ games. High replayability due to the effects of the randomly chosen Engineers, so I think there’s enough there to keep its fans entertained for years.

    Nations has a good chance to join it. There’s tons of variety because of the Advanced and Expert cards; the issue is if someone can figure out a way of introducing these cards while still maintaining some kind of balance in the cards that appear. But it’s an excellent choice for those looking for a Civ game that can be played in 2-3 hours.

    Spyrium is another possibility. I’m less convinced of its chances, since you always use the same set of cards, but all of my games have played out differently, so I can see it staying in the rotation for a while.

    Based on its ratings, I have no reason to suspect that Caverna won’t achieve classic status with many players. Maybe not for anyone who’s responded here, but it still qualifies.


    May 23, 2014 at 9:47 pm

  11. I suspect most gamers are bad at predicting what they’ll still be playing in several years. I’d be happy to be shown evidence to the contrary — but it would need to be evidence, not hearsay. Anyone have an old review/blog/post declaring a game to be an evergreen that’s proven to be true?

    Greg Aleknevicus

    May 24, 2014 at 1:49 am

    • I have “year in review” articles going back 11 years on my blog (with a few gaps). I had to go back to 2003 to find a game that I picked as the “game of the year” that is *not* still getting at least occasional play (that year I picked Domaine, which is fine but I’m pretty much done with). Otherwise: San Juan, Beowulf: The Legend, Blue Moon City, Thunderstone, High Frontier, Sekigahara – all classics, for my groups anyway. All of them have hit the table at least once in the last 6 months. One of the years I missed I would assuredly have picked Race for the Galaxy, which I just played last week.

      Chris Farrell

      May 24, 2014 at 11:58 am

    • Well, the point of this post was to get to obvious hyperbole to find the best of the recent games (whch are presumably the only ones who are candidates for classics). A quick skim of this blog (which only goes back to …. er, 2005) has my Game of the Year thoughts, but even I’m pretty nebulous about declaring games classics. But some of my GotY get play, and some don’t. For many of them, I would play again … with the right group. But I have only mild interest in playing a game I’ve played 100 times with new players. Pedagogical interest, only in some cases.


      May 25, 2014 at 10:41 am

    • I think I’m quite good at predicting the games I’ll WANT to play in a few years, Greg. What I cannot predict is what the composition of my games groups will be several years hence. People move, work and family schedules interfere, and new people arrive. And all it takes is one person who dislikes, or even is only so-so on a game to dramatically reduce the number of times it gets played. Having fans of a game drop out of the group is far more likely to cause that game’s appearances to drop than changes in my tastes.


      May 25, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    • Been true in general? Don’t know that I’ve ever really aimed for that.

      Been true for me? Sure. The top 3 2005 releases I identified at the end of the year were Indonesia, Louis XIV, and Control Nut; I’m still playing all three. In 2006, I picked Canal Mania, Der Elephant im Porzellanladen, and Pillars of the Earth; I’m still playing all three. (And, in fact, Canal Mania has remained my favorite 2006 release.) In 2007, I picked Race for the Galaxy, Galaxy Trucker, and Agricola; I was wrong w.r.t. Agricola, but I identified that possibility back then. Even my initial impressions of 2006 Essen releases – typically after a single play – were quite accurate; I’m still playing all four of the games I had a positive impression of.

      Joe Huber

      May 29, 2014 at 10:30 am

  12. Looking back over the past year I don’t see any games that jump out at me as instant classics. I like Glass Road, certainly my favorite of the Rosenberg games with the Agricola resource framework, but I haven’t played it enough to see if it will hold up. Concordia is a possibility as well, although I’m not sure how quickly the gameplay will become rote.


    May 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

  13. I’ll add to the chorus of calls for Glass Road. That has entered heavy rotation in our game group. The opposed hand mechanic makes every game really fresh. I’d put it above Russian Railroads, which I also liked and Love Letters. I’d also put in a vote for Amerigo. The tower is a bit of a gimmick, but the game play is very subtle and varied in a way that is fun.

    Blake Carper

    May 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm

  14. I’d say none from 2013. It is possible Concept will live on as a party game for people who don’t like party games much, Spyrium is possible – I really like it and just got a copy for under $20 delivered, so it is a cheap experiment. Russian Railroad is interesting, but in my area, there are people who refer to what they are going to do on turn zero and seem to agree on the expected result. I have not played it enough to know if they are right.

    I wonder if Splendor (2014) will meet your standard for classic or not.


    May 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm

  15. Perhaps Star Realms? I think we’re only beginning to see excitement for this game.

  16. I’ll second the speculation about Eldritch Horror; it will likely serve as the “classic” Lovecraft board game for the next decade or so. That’s the only 2013 release I’d bet on, though I have yet to play Russian Railroads.

    Matthew Baldwin

    May 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm

  17. I like Caverna but think it will be out designed. Maybe Concordia, but I’m a Mac Gerdts fanboy.

    Ray Petersen

    May 30, 2014 at 3:47 pm

  18. I thought 2013 was an outstanding year. Best one (for me) in quite some time. Top five: Augustus, BattleLore 2e, Nations, 1775 and Tash Kalar. I think I can safely predict I’ll be playing them all for years. Especially Tash Kalar, which will probably break into my personal top 10 of all time.

    Stephen Glenn

    May 30, 2014 at 9:12 pm

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