The Games Journal | A Magazine About Boardgames

GCA Nominees - 2001

Greg Aleknevicus

April, 2001

The Strategy Gaming Society sponsors the annual Gamers' Choice Awards. Every year an international panel of gamers select a list of games they feel are deserving of special recognition. There are three distinct categories; Multi-Player Strategy, Two-Player Strategy and Historical Simulation. I serve on the Multi-Player and Two-Player Strategy committees and am pleased to announce this years finalists:

Multi-Player Category

Aladdin's Dragons

Richard Breese
Rio Grande / Hans im Gluck
Players have eight followers of various value that they use to secretly place in any of 13 different areas. These may be in the dragon caves in order to steal valuable treasure or the city where services may be procured or the palace where fabulous artifacts can be purchased. The trick is that you can't do everything and you must have the most powerful followers in an area to perform the task there. Since the followers are placed one at a time and hidden from other players a lot of tension can ensue.

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Attila

Karl-Heinz Schmiel
Rio Grande / Hans im Gluck
This game has been called a "stock market" game as it's more about gaining control of tribes rather than moving tribes driven from their homes by Attila. Either way there's a lot of tense moments packed into a short playing time. Players use cards to both place tribe markers and gain influence on those tribes. Should too many people settle in one area conflict will erupt.

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Carcassonne

Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Rio Grande / Hans im Gluck
It's amazing what variety can be wrung from such a simple idea as laying connected tiles. Carcassonne is a fine example of this as players place tiles containing roads, cities, fields and cloisters. Points are gained depending on where you place your tokens; knights on cities, robbers on the roads, farmers in the fields and monks in the cloisters.

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La Città

Gerd Fenchel
Rio Grande / Kosmos
This is one of the more complex games (by German standards) and there's a lot to think about on your turn. The ultimate goal is to have the most populous cities at the games end. Lots of farms means you'll have plenty of food to feed your people but if the town next door has better amenities you'll find they're emigrating every turn. If you build too fancy a city though you may discover you don't have enough food to go around! Tough decisions all around and you'll need to carefully balance things to succeed.

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Lord of the Rings

Reiner Knizia
Hasbro
A rather unique offering in that players must cooperate as a team in order to defeat the game driven enemy, Sauron. A great deal of flavorful text and events from the books adds to play and many players have been inspired to (re)read the books after playing.

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Merchants of Amsterdam

Reiner Knizia
Jumbo
The history of Amsterdam is played out in this game as the city rises and declines in importance throughout the years. Primarily an auction game, the players compete to have majority interest in; the city itself, markets around the world and shipping. True to the theme auctions are "dutch auctions" and are facilitated with a countdown timer. Slap the timer when it reaches the price you're willing to pay and the item up for bid is yours.

[Picture] (courtesy BoardGameGeek)

Metro

Dirk Henn
Queen
Another track laying game but instead of trying to make your routes short and direct, you gain more points by having long and twisted routes. Great artwork adds to the game as a true spiders web of paths slowly emerges.

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Morisi

Corné van Moorsel
Cwali
A multi-player version of last year's 2 player nominee, Isi. This time the board is made up of hexagons (instead of squares) and up to four may play. Players must first travel about the land of Morisi gaining knowledge of the terrain. They then use this knowledge to build a network of roads. the winner is the player that has connected the most cities with his/her roads.

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Ohne Furcht und Adel

Bruno Faidutti
Hans im Gluck
Fabulous artwork highlights the play in this card game. Players secretly choose professions each round with a mind to building the greatest buildings. Do you choose the Soldier who can destroy other buildings or the Thief who can steal gold or the Assassin who can kill someone or ...

[Picture] (courtesy BoardGameGeek)

Princes of Florence

Richard Ulrich / Wolfgang Kramer
Rio Grande / Alea
An unusual theme here - players are wealthy princes trying to attract the greatest artists, workers and thinkers to their city. Of course there are many different ways to go about this; do you hire jesters to keep them entertained or do you erect buildings for them to work in? Should you put in a lake for them to relax by or allow them freedom of religion? Architects make it easier to build but will will other players recruit your best workers?

[Picture] (courtesy BoardGameGeek)

Taj Mahal

Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande / Alea
Far off India is the setting for this card driven game. In each of twelve turns players take turns revealing cards hoping to win in one (or more) of six categories. Elephants give the players increasingly valuable commodities but the monk, general, princess and vizier allow you to place castles on the board. Connecting these castles can be tricky but can also lead to many victory points. However, it's not only important to win but to win quickly as the best spots may be taken if you fight a prolonged battle.

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Traumfabrik

Reiner Knizia
Hasbro
Who can resist the urge to play producer and set about making movies? You may have the greatest idea in Hollywood but if you can't put together the right cast and crew it'll be all for nothing. The trick is that the better the people the more they'll cost and you may not be able to afford who you want. Since this is show business there's also the fact that it's not just what you know but who, a studio with high star power always has more fun at the parties don't they? If things go poorly you can always try for the notoriety of producing the worst movie ever screened.

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Web of Power

Michael Schacht
Rio Grande / Goldsieber
There's a lot of game packed into a short time in this one. The play is very simple, place one or two of your pieces in one region on the board. Pieces are either cloisters, which occupy a network of connected spaces or advisors. Cloisters are guaranteed to score you points but having a large cluster of advisors can often win the game.

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2 Player Category

Babel

Uwe Rosenberg / Hagen Dorgathen
Rio Grande / Kosmos
Your challenge in this card driven game is to maneuver your tribes around the board and then use them to build the largest temples possible. Of course your opponent will be trying not only to best you but to destroy any progress you might have made. Wild swings of luck are common and no plan will go exactly as you had hoped.

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Battle Cry

Richard Borg
Avalon Hill
The US Civil War made easy! Perhaps that's stating it too plainly but the emphasis here is on fun rather than history. Terrain tiles allow you to create plenty of different maps and scenarios on which to recreate portions of Civil War battles. There's plenty of dice rolling and the battles can often be one-sided but the game is so enjoyable that you can easily play twice, switching sides.

[Picture] (courtesy BoardGameGeek)

Hera and Zeus

Richard Borg
Rio Grande / Kosmos
Originally designed as a card game version of Stratego this survives the transplant to a Greek theme very well. Players take on the roles of either Hera or Zeus who are engaging each other in yet another feud. Cards represent the lesser gods that are influenced by the rulers of Olympus. Three columns of battles are waged with the basics very straightforward - cards of higher value beat lower valued ones. The gameplay is not nearly so simple though as there are a great many special cards to consider - Medusa can turn anyone to stone, Sirens can lure your opponents allies and Pandora's box spells trouble for everyone.

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Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit

Craig van Ness / Alan Roach
Avalon Hill
Gamers might have been forgiven if they dismissed this as the usual movie tie-in game but the good news is that there's a fine game lurking in this package. The game recreates the four battles at the end of The Phantom Menace and for such a simple game, does so quite well. Lots of plastic miniatures add to the fun and while there are plenty of dice to be rolled there's enough strategy to keep the more serious minded gamer interested.

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Zertz

Kris Burm
Schmidt Spiele
The latest (and sadly, perhaps the last) entry in the Gipf Project. (A series of connectable games.) The playing field is made up of small disks in an approximately hexagon pattern. Players alternate placing or jumping colored balls onto these disks. The playing field isn't static however as disks can be removed during the game. Balls that are jumped or isolated due to the removal of disks are captured but capturing the right colored balls is the key to winning.

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The winners will be announced June 1, 2001.

- Greg Aleknevicus

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