Friday, July 01, 2005

Oscars of Adventure Gaming Announced

As you may or may not know, this weekend is the weekend of the Origins International Games Expo. This annual event kicks off the Summer Convention season for the Adventure, and recreational, Gaming industry in the United States. The convention is organized by the Game Manufacturers Association and highlights the best products of the past year and hints at the products in the upcoming year. In essence the Origins show is an event run by the Gaming industry for Gaming fans.

While shows like GenCon, the largest gaming convention in the United States, are the first place that most games are released to the public, the Origins show is where most games are advertised one month before the massive wave of releases.

More importantly, Origins is when the American Gaming industry rewards excellence in achievement for last year's crop of Gaming Products.

That is why I am happy to provide this year's list of winners, with commentary (if you don't want my comments, you can merely see the results and the full ballot here):

Origins Awards 2005 Winners
Congratulations to all the winners! Thanks to everyone who participated this year!

Best Play-By-Mail Game

Enlightened Age Entertainment
Fall of Rome

I don't have any knowledge of this game, but it does look quite interesting. I am not the hugest PBM fan, especially with the innovations of online gaming, but I am a fan of turn based strategy games and most PBM games are of this sort. In fact, the only PBM game I have ever played is Hyborian War. I will have to defer to the expertise of the jury on this one.
Best Historical Board Game
Sword of Rome

It is not surprising that GMT games won this year's top Historical Boardgame Slot (my personal choice would have been Memoir '44) as GMT makes games of consistant quality play. Their Card Driven Games are quite enjoyable, and the company supports internet play by including Cyberboard support. So you don't need a nearby friend to play.

One of GMTs drawbacks is their reliance on traditional "counter" mechanisms in the gaming format. Modern gamers tend to like "pieces" rather than counters both due to visual and pragmatic reasons (counters are very easy to lose). But this drawback wouldn't be much of one if the cost of GMT games was kept down. Sadly, The Sword of Rome comes in at $65.00. Not a bargain, but the gameplay is innovative and enjoyable
Best Historical Miniatures Line
Brigade Games
WWI: Western Front 28 mm

These are nicely scultped pieces by Michael Owens and are useful both for diorama and miniatures wargaming use. My own gaming tends toward fantasy or "ancients", but these are a fine looking batch with broad applicability.
Best Historical Miniatures Game
Clash of Arms Games
Dawn of the Rising Sun:
The Russo Japanese War 1904-1905

No comment
Best Board Game
Days of Wonder
Ticket To Ride

This game won last year's prestigeous "Spiel des Jahres" in Germany and it would have been a shock if it didn't win the Origins award for best board game. Ticket to Ride and it's sequel Ticket to Ride: Europe are innovative an enjoyable games for the whole family. What is remarkable in both of them is their ability to create a game with sufficient strategic challenge which is also playable by the entire family. As the saying goes, "five minutes to learn...a lifetime to master." The simple mechanics and high end playing components make for an almost ideal gaming experience. Go and immediately add this to your board game closet. You will play it far more frequently than Monopoly. Though Betrayal at House on the Hill and War of the Ring are fantastic games, it is the combination of complexity and accessibility that make this stand out in my mind.
Best Miniatures Game
Ad Astra Games
Attack Vector: Tactical

Innovative and extraordinarily complex. I just don't know if it is fun yet. I only have a few friends with sufficiently advance mathematics capabilities to play this game with. See the word vector in the title? This uses vector movement, a realistic addition to be sure, but too realistic? Still it is good to see innovation win in these categories.
Best Miniature Line
Dark Sword Miniatures, Inc.
Elmore Dragons

Balderdash! This demonstrates pandering fanboy-ness beyond belief. It's not that these are bad miniatures, they most certainly are not, it is just that they don't compare to the Rackham stuff coming out of France. The Rackham miniatures are so beautiful that I am afraid to even attempt painting them.
Best Collectible Card Game
Z-Man Games, Inc.
Seven Masters Vs. The Underworld

This won more from a refusal to accept commerical success than anything else. I have been playing Shadowfist for a while and I do like the game, but I have to say that the "Vs." game system is hands down my favorite from the past year.
Best Traditional Card Game
Atlas Games
Cthulhu 500

This game is fun, but I really believe that Atlas' other major card game last year, Gloom, deserves the award. Gloom was innovative in two ways. First, card design. The translucent cards allow for card/effect stacking with great fluidity. Second, it is a game where you try to make your opponent live a less tragic life than your own. You want to suffer more and die horribly. Gloom could best be described as the card game most likely to become a Tim Burton film. Cthuhu 500, while fun, just didn't live up in my mind to Gloom. Tragically, Gloom wasn't even nominated.
Best Role Playing Game
Atlas Games
Ars Magica: 5th Edition

Great game, great company. One problem. No one plays this game.
Best Role Playing Game Supplement
Wizards of the Coast
Eberron Campaign Setting

Maybe the best "campaign setting" ever. I currently use this.
Best Fiction Publication
Guardians of Order
Path of the Bold

Umm...okay, whatever. I couldn't read past page 6. This was dull and trite fiction
Best Non Fiction Publication
Steve Jackson Games
Pyramid Magazine

Best Game Accessory
Steve Jackson Games
Cardboard Heroes Castles

Inexpensive and useful.
Vanguard Award
All Wound Up
Twilight Creations, Inc.

Intrigueing innovation to make a boardgame using wind-up toy zombies. On that alone they should get a prize. But the rules are ambiguous and the pieces have trouble staying erect.
Flames of War

Fire as She Bears! 2.1
Starboard Tack Press

Pirates of the Spanish Main
WizKids, Inc

Gamers’ Choice Award

Harlequin Games

Desert Rats – British in the Desert

Axis and Allies D-Day
Avalon Hill

A Call to Arms (Babylon 5)
Mongoose Publishing

VS System
Marvel Origins and X-Men VS The Brotherhood
The Upper Deck Entertainment

Cthulhu 500
Atlas Games

World of Darkness Storytelling System Rulebook
White Wolf

Betrayal at House on the Hill
Avalon Hill

I'll add more comments later.

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