INTERNATIONAL GAMERS AWARDS ANNOUNCES THE 2003 FINALISTS & WINNERS

The International Gamers Awards is extremely proud and excited to announce the finalists and recipients for the 2004 IGA, a set of awards which recognizes outstanding strategy board games in three categories. 

In order for a game to be eligible for the General Strategy category, a game must have been released on or after July 1st of the previous year and no later than June 30th of the current year.  This has been done so that finalists and recipients can be announced closer to the more common release dates by game publishers.

 

1) General Strategy Games, Multi-Player:  St. Petersburg.  Investment is the key in St. Petersburg but should you concentrate on workers who provide money, buildings which award victory points or aristocrats who pay off at game's end? You'll need all three so balancing your decisions is critical.  This game was designed by Bernd Brunhoffer, but released by Hans im Gl├╝ck and Rio Grande Games under the pseudonym of Michael Tummelhofer.

 

2) General Strategy Games, 2-Player:  Memoir '44.  Battle Cry goes World War II! The civil war game gets a new theme, new production and new rules. What hasn't changed is the fast, furious play featuring plenty of luck and rolling of dice. Who knew war could be so fun?  This is the second IGA for designer Richard Borg, and the first for Days of Wonder.

 

3) Historical Simulations:  Lock 'N Load.  New designer Mark H. Walker has attempted to go back to the roots of tactical wargames with Lock 'n Load, which is set in the jungles of Vietnam and is the first in a series spanning several eras. Tactical games started off as quick and fun but slowly accreted rules for greater 'realism'. This game tries hard to stay simple yet capture a significant depth of realism. It also uses a mechanism whereby units in certain hexes trigger 'events'. Not surprisingly for a tactical game, terrain, lines of sight and spotting are crucial. The latter two mechanisms force cautious approaches. Carefully moving units and leaders forward, using the ground, scouting for the enemy, dealing with unexpected events as well as enemy actions all make for a player's game which feels gritty and tense. Production values and company support for this game are excellent. It has the potential to spawn another great dynasty of tactical wargames.

 

The complete list of the finalists for the 2004 IGA were:

 

General Strategy Games

MULTI-PLAYER CATEGORY

ATTIKA

Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle
Hans-im-Gl?Rio Grande

A tile laying game with two ways to win. Can you connect two temples or will you be the first play all 30 of your tiles? The two goals can be at odds with each other so you are often balancing your tactics between the two (while blocking your opponents at the same time).

EINFACH GENIAL

Reiner Knizia
Kosmos

Simply ingeneous! Players gain points in six colours by playing hex-shaped "dominoes" on a communal playing field. There are some interesting decisions to be made -- do you take five points in blue or three points in red? Since your final score is determined by the colour in which you are weakest, this isn't always an easy choice.

FINSTERE FLURE

Friedemann Friese
2F

A sinister castle, dark passages and a monster on the loose! Your goal is simple -- reach the exit without drawing the attention of the creature Furunkulus. The problem is that the other players are all doing the same and will happily send him your way if they can.

FUNKENSCHLAG / POWER GRID

Friedemann Friese
2F

Can you build the most efficient network of power plants? You'll have to if you hope to win Power Grid. Acquire plants at auction, buy fuel on the open market and connect cities on the map as your grid grows and grows.

GOA

R? Dorn
Hans-im-Gl?Rio Grande Games

In Goa, players represent ?Portuguese merchants involved in the spice trade?.  Players acquire plantations, found and develop colonies, and attempt to extract the greatest yield from their holdings.  The goal is to be the wealthiest and most advanced merchant in all of Goa.

There is a LOT going on here.  It is quite difficult to assess the value of the various tiles, determine which ones to bid upon and how much ducats to spend, choose which actions to exercise, which spices to select, which colonies to found, etc.  ?Choosing? is the key requirement here, and those choices can be excruciating.  It is these types of tough choices, tossed at me in abundance, that help make a game rich and meaty.  Goa has these choices in abundance. 

HANSA

Michael Schacht
Abacus Spiele / UberPlay

14th century trading in the Hanseatic League. An interesting relationship exists between goods, money and shops as you always need two of them to acquire the third. Complicating matters is the fact that everyone is using the same ship and so you must consider how good (or bad) a position you leave for the next player.

INDUSTRIA

Michael Schacht
Queen Games

Industria lets players relive eras of technological development in an auction-based game. Win buildings, technologies, or resources to earn victory points with bonuses for connected sets and common features. Money is always too tight for comfort.

MAHARAJA

Wolfgang Kramer / Michael Kiesling
Phalanx Games / Rio Grande Games

Set in the enchanting land of medieval India, players are charged by the Maharaja to build magnificent houses and palaces, then conduct him on a tour of his kingdom?s cities.  Building these cities requires the players to maintain a steady stream of income.  To the player who builds the most beautiful houses and palaces goes vast riches, and the first player to build seven palaces wins the favor of the Maharaja.

The game is rich in opportunities for clever play.  Player actions and character abilities can be combined in a mind-boggling number of manners, and finding the optimum combination on each turn is quite the challenge. 

PRINCES OF THE RENAISSANCE

Martin Wallace
Warfrog

Players represent heads of powerful families in renaissance-era Italy.  The families attempt to expand their power by gaining influence in the courts of the major city-states within the region.  Influence is not only determined by bribery, but also by instigating and participating in various wars between the powers.  Bribery, treachery and outright theft will often spell the difference between victory and defeat.  As a measure of the family?s power and prestige, famous artists can be employed to glorify their achievements.

Princes of the Renaissance is a deep, challenging and tense game with a rich mixture of mechanisms and numerous strategies for the players to pursue.  Indeed, there is so much happening, that it will take most players a game or two just to begin getting a handle on the numerous strategies they can employ ? and how to counteract strategies being pursued by their opponents.  This kind of depth bodes well for the game and should insure that it will be one that will continue to be played well into the future.

ST. PETERSBURG

Michael Tummelhofer
Hans-im-Gl?Rio Grande Games

Investment is the key in St. Petersburg but should you concentrate on workers who provide money, buildings which award victory points or aristocrats who pay off at game's end? You'll need all three so balancing your decisions is critical.

SAN JUAN

Andreas Seyfarth
Alea / Rio Grande Games

The Puerto Rico card game condenses the action to a single deck of cards which acts as both the money and the purchases you make. The mechanic of choosing roles is the same as the boardgame and knowing what others will choose remains as important as ever.

SANTIAGO

Roman Pelek / Claudia Hely
Amigo

Players acquire crops via auction and hope to own plots in the largest fields. The main problem though is irrigation as you need to have a source of water if you wish to prosper. Fail to do so and you'll watch the fruit of your efforts wither and die.


 

TAHUANTINSUYU

Alan Ernstein
Hangman Games

Set in the Incan empire, players are charged with the task of expanding the kingdom, conquering neighboring tribes and establishing cities, temples and terraces.  The game combines elements of crayon rail games with empire building and construction.  It is filled with tension, excitement and uncertainty, and forces players to carefully plan their actions and make tough decisions between numerous options.

TICKET TO RIDE

Alan Moon
Days of Wonder

Yet another route building game? Maybe, but there's no denying the appeal of Ticket to Ride. Should you build longer, more profitable routes or shorter more strategic ones? Do you draw train cards or destination tickets? Tough decisions in this engaging game.

 



 

2-PLAYER CATEGORY

BLUE MOON

Reiner Knizia
Kosmos / Fantasy Flight Games

A futuristic duel of fantasy races, clashing for control of the universe.  Decisions galore as players must organize their foces and commit them to battle.  Proper timing and hand management are critical in this tense and entertaining game. 

CARCASSONNE:  THE CASTLE

Reiner Knizia / Klaus-Jurgen Wrede

Hans-im-Gl?Rio Grande Games

Carcassonne: The Castle extends this juggernaut franchise into the walled confines of the Carcassonne Castle. Using the established and successful ?place a tile, place a follower? model, the Castle offers multiple options to score and rewards specific scores with bonus tiles places along the score track. The building constraint is balanced by more liberal tile placement rules.

MEMOIR '44

Richard Borg
Days of Wonder

Battle Cry goes World War II! The civil war game gets a new theme, new production and new rules. What hasn't changed is the fast, furious play featuring plenty of luck and rolling of dice. Who knew war could be so fun?

TOM TUBE

Roland and Tobias Goslar
Kronberger Spiele

Build a space station but do your best to make your tubes short and efficient but your opponent's long and convoluted. Should you spend precious turns trying to create the ultimate route or send your spaceman out to collect energy cubes?


 

YINSH

Kris Burm
Don & Co / Rio Grande Games

The latest in the Gipf series of abstracts. Like its predecessors it features simple rules but deep strategies. The now familiar hexagonal playing field contains two types of pieces -- double sided markers and rings. The rings are key as they govern not only where you can place markers but cause existing one to flip sides.

 

 

Historical Simulation Games

(EDITOR?S NOTE:  Special thanks to Allan Rothberg and Alan Poulter for the game descriptions and  FUNAGAIN GAMES for use of the pictures)

AGE OF NAPOLEON

Renaud Verlaque
Phalanx Games

Age of Napoleon is the first game from a new designer, Renaud Verlaque. It is a strategic game on the Napoleonic Wars, and stands out against a field of big, complex games by being elegant in both look and play. It has a sumptious area map of Europe, 55 cards that drive the game and corps counters which are named (and given values for) generals of the era. The cards drive the game: some hold events applicable for the French or the Allies. All cards function as drivers for corps movement, interception or loss/depletion recovery. Combat involves totalling battle points and card modifiers and die rolls and comparing, the highest total winning. Diplomacy is handled by making Britain and France eternal enemies with the other powers changing sides, via intermediate diplomatic positions. Included are three scenarios, starting in 1805, 1809 and 1811. This is a gem of a game which almost re-invents the card-driven wargame.
   

ARDENNES '44

Mark Simonitch & Tony Curtis
GMT Games

Ardennes '44 takes us back once again to one of the more popular campaigns in wargaming:  The Battle of the Bulge. The game is scaled at Regimental/Battalion with 1.6 mile hexes and 12 hour  turns. The game mechanics are mostly conventional, but with enough added features and specialty rules to make the game fresh and intriguing. The map nicely (and attractively) reflects the restrictive terrain of the Ardennes and the counter graphics combine traditional NATO symbols with impressive silhouettes for the vehicles. The rules are relatively short -- 22 pages -- and are sprinkled with many examples of play, and there is even an 8 page extended example of play that takes you through the entire first day (and night) of a hypothetical game.

The game plays nicely and initially instills in the Allied player a true sense of crisis and in the Axis player a true sense of urgency. There is only one set-up for the full campaign, but also included are 2 shorter scenarios that let you play out the first 3 or 4 days of the full campaign.

CORSAIRS & HELLCATS

Dan Verssen
GMT Games

Volume IV of the popular Down in Flames air combat card game series, C&H is an expansion of Zero! covering the Pacific Theatre from 1942 to1945.  (Zero! is required in order to play).  Complexity is low (dogfight) to moderate (campaign scenario) and action centers on playing maneuver cards to gain advantage over the enemy.  Games are usually fast and furious.  124 cards include a wide variety of aircraft of the mid and late-war period.  Special rules address weapons and tactics such as skip-bombing, air-to-ground rockets, napalm, depth charges and Kamikazes.  New target cards round out a wide variety of missions.   Campaign scenario themes cover Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz, Eastern Solomons, Philippines 1944, B-29s in China (a solitaire scenario), and Okinawa.  Campaign scenario victory conditions encourage one to inflict maximum damage on the enemy while minimizing one?s own losses.

EUROPE ENGULFED

Rick Young & Jesse Evans
GMT Games

Europe Engulfed (EE) is GMT's first foray into the realm of block games. EE recreates the Second World War in Europe from the invasion of Poland to the final collapse of Germany in 1945 in bimonthly turns, with each of the 283 blocks representing a Division, Corps or Fleet from one of the major combatants. The two piece map is divided into geographically and militarily significant areas spanning the entirety of the European Theater of Operations. The 24 page rulebook is accompanied by a 24 page playbook with strategy notes, optional rules, 8 full pages of examples of play and several scenarios.

Easy movement and combat mechanics allow players to focus on strategy and game play and make for a fast playing game (the entire grand campaign can be finished in one long day of gaming). Simple rules for  Stratgic Bombing, the U Boat Campaign, Amphibious Invasions, V Weapons, the miasma of politics, Partisans, Airborne Assaults, the Russian Winter, Oil, Lend Lease, etc., make sure that the game has all the flavor of WW2.

KOREA: THE FORGOTTEN WAR

Rod Miller
Multi-Man Publishing

The Gamers Operational Combat System (OCS) steps beyond World War II to cover the first year of the Korean War.  Communist forces attempt to gain control of South Korea, and are opposed by the UN.  Three 22" x 34" maps cover the rugged terrain of the Korean Peninsula and the bordering area of China.  13 scenarios give players a wide choice of time (4 to 109 turns) and space (1-3 maps) commitment to the game.  Early war scenarios have a low unit density and are particularly challenging.  The UN player has limited resources with which to contain the advancing enemy.  The Communist player must maximize an initial advantage to gain key objectives as UN air, naval and land forces gain strength.  Scenarios covering the UN advance into North Korea account for the likelihood of Chinese intervention and disadvantageous effects of UN forces fighting in the north. The game has moderately high complexity mechanics which reward logistical planning as well as careful unit disposition for both attack and defense. 

LOCK 'N LOAD

Mark H. Walker
Shrapnel Games

New designer Mark H. Walker has attempted to go back to the roots of
tactical wargames with Lock 'n Load, which is set in the jungles of Vietnam and is the first in a series spanning several eras. Tactical games started off as quick and fun but slowly accreted rules for greater 'realism'. This game tries hard to stay simple yet capture a significant depth of realism. It also uses a mechanism whereby units in certain hexes trigger 'events'. Not surprisingly for a tactical game, terrain, lines of sight and spotting are crucial. The latter two mechanisms force cautious approaches. Carefully moving units and leaders forward, using the ground, scouting
for the enemy, dealing with unexpected events as well as enemy actions all make for a player's game which feels gritty and tense. Production values and company support for this game are excellent. It has the potential to spawn another great dynasty of tactical wargames.

MEDIEVAL

Richard Berg
GMT Games

Medieval is a multiplayer card game by veteran designer Richard Berg,
set in 13th century Europe. The map is created as the game progresses
by playing map cards which link together. Players run 'powers', the
kingdoms of medieval Europe, which are divided into provinces, each with
a money value. In a turn players either tax or play one or more power or
action cards. Action cards mostly are nasty and some allow Papal options. Players try to conquer neutral or owned provinces, by a simple comparison of weighted die rolls with hidden money as a bluff element. As the game progresses, map cards are removed by the Mongols from the east.  The game end is also randomly triggered by Mongol cards.

The game is full of period flavour and nicely captures the feeling of 'ruling' in
the era. The game system encourages much skullduggery and conflict between players. A lot is packed into a small game package. One gets the feeling that this game will launch a series.
 

MONTY'S GAMBLE:  MARKET GARDEN

Michael Rinella
Multi-Man Publishing

Area movement games first came on the scene with the game Storm Over Arnhem. Well, things have sort of come full circle with the release of Monty's Gamble: Market Garden (MG:MG). Expanded to cover not just the battles of the 1st Airborne for the city of Arnhem, MG:MG also includes the landings by the 82nd Airborne, the 101st Airborne and the drive by XXX Corps to relieve the landings and seize the much desired bridge over the Rhine. In the 22 years that this system of games has been around, it has been expanded, revised, and refined. At heart it is a fairly simple system, which can be learned fairly quickly. However to master the system takes a bit more thought. A player who just plows straight ahead will quickly find himself  with an army of spent, vulnerable troops. The game includes only 1 scenario, with optional rules to extend the campaign for 6 more days.

With MG:MG, you can refight the desperate battles for survival of the Red Devils, hold open Hell's Highway with the All American and Screaming Eagles, drive hell bent for leather up the Dutch countryside with the UK's elite Armoured Corps, leap into the maelstrom with the 1st Polish Para Brigade, or fend off the only strategic use of Allied Airborne troops in WW2 and hold the last natural barrier between the Allied troops and the heart of Germany.

RISE OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC

Richard Berg
GMT Games

The first in a series of planned releases, The Rise of the Republic of Rome (RRR) let's gamers hack and slash out some of the campaigns that led to the ascendancy of Rome in the Italian Peninsula. 

With full year turns, armies can pretty much go anywhere they want to and do pretty much whatever they want to, but there is a price to pay. If you march your army through unfriendly territory, or cross inhospitable terrain, you can bet that large chunks of your army will melt away from starvation and dessertion. If you plan on fighting a major battle, you had also better assume that afterwards your army will be disorganized and will require time to recover and recuperate. Sure, sieging a city doesn't generate a lot of casualties like an assault does, but you had better assume that that is all your army will be doing that year. And if you are going to camp for a year, make sure it is in a hospitable location or else your some of your troops might just decide that home is the place to be.

The basic rules for movement and combat are fairly simple. The real worry comes with running the Roman political machine: the engine that drives the Roman Army. Unlike most games featuring Rome, RRR shows that Rome's true strength was not due to superior soldiery or even better military leaders, but instead a truly well organized political military complex that was almost always better able to respond to threats and opportunities that fell to her.

SWEDEN FIGHTS ON

Ben Hull
GMT Games

Sweden Fights On  (SFO) is the second professionally released game in the Musket and Pike Series. It presents four battles from the Thirty Years War featuring the Armies of Gustavus Adolphus after his death at the battle of Lutzen. The battles covered are Nordlingen, Wittstock, Second Breitenfild and Jankau. With Regimental sized units, 100 yard hexes and 20 to 30 minute turns, you will really get into the nitty gritty of 17th Century Warfare. Game play is based on activating leaders, who then hasten their troops into battle. Once engaged, infantry swap musket fire and pike points in a test of skill and steadfastness. Cavalry sweeps in and around the balky, rigid infantry formations and can decide the battle in a matter of minutes. Battlefiled artillery is still not the arm of decision, but, properly employed, can certainly ruin your opponent's day by breaking up an attacking formation or playing hobb with a defensive line.

In SFO gamers can learn just how and why numerically inferior forces, under superior leadership and properly employed can readily trounce a larger, less well utilized foe.

WARPLAN:  DROPSHOT

Bruce Costello
Schutze Games

Warplan Dropshot is one of the first of Schutze Games' ?Professional? line.  Published with die-cut counters and upgraded maps and tables from the traditional DTP quality, but still less then a larger publishing house like GMT Games, Dropshot gives great value for its inexpensive pricetag.  Designed by Bruce Costello (who also authored Victory in Vietnam for Schutze Games), Warplan Dropshot plays like an old pulp novel from the same era it represents. 

 

There is no denying the game?s charm.  You?ll be humming ?Duck and Cover? and going Eisenhower hunting while smashing your shoe on the nearest table.  Dropshot is great fun and an immensely entertaining game on a long neglected topic.