OK, get your tuxes ready everybody…it’s time for the 2007 Trashies! Now, I have to admit, that I wasn’t going to do Trashies this year…mainly because they were really about BGG and the culture over there more than anything else. But when edit-monger Bill Abner tasked me with doing a year-end list for Gameshark.com, I started writing and I realized that I was basically writing the 2007 Trashies Awards. And since I didn’t want Bill and Co. over there to get hit with lawsuits or anything like that I decided to send them the “good guy” version. F:AT gets the uncensored, Renegade Version- yes, just like HIGHLANDER. Now, if you don’t like what you see here or you don’t feel like something was represented that you feel that ought to be, by all means add it in the talkback.
I think it really does say a lot that being away from BGG has made these awarda more about games and less about the bankrupt “culture” over there.
Anyway, I think I see Matt Thrower’s 1986 white Lamborghini Countach pulling up to the red carpet so let's do this thing.
The 2007 PT Barnum Sucker Prize for Excellence in Board Game Marketing
BATTLELORE came out last Christmas with the promise of hordes of expansions that would somehow (according to the ad copy) bring old D&D players and fans of MASTER OF MAGIC into the hobby along with providing the total newbie with a great entry point in the form of a $80 retail game with a 80+ page rulebook and the need to purchase further components. The game as shipped was certainly beautifully appointed with great production and a proven system and it looked like 2007 was going to be the year of BATTLELORE. But then, early this year, the expansions started to come out and it didn’t take long for me and many others to realize that they added very little to the game and what’s worse, some felt that the game wasn’t complete in the box and that Days of Wonder simply broke off chunks to extend the sale date, so to speak. What’s more, with the “missing” pieces in place the game was still several notches below the vastly superior COMMANDS AND COLORS: ANCIENTS, which uses the exact same system but somehow provides a much, much better game. But hey, hats off to Days of Wonder for getting folks who turn their noses up at miniature gaming and collectible card games to engage in the same buying practices.
The “At Least It Ain’t Rush” Award for Best Board Game Soundtrack
Every Board Game Ever Released With the Exception of LAST NIGHT ON EARTH
A shocker! Somehow, the _only_ board game released with a soundtrack this year didn’t get the nod- instead, the tabletalk, color commentary, bad language, and rules explanations that serve as the aural environment we generally play games in wins the award. It’s definitely better than the amateurish, embarrassing, and totally un-zombieish CD gimmick that jacked LAST NIGHT ON EARTH’s retail price up $5-10. The funny thing is that if they had included Fabio Frizzi’s soundtrack to ZOMBI it would have worked a hell of a lot better and I wouldn’t be bitching.
The Big Board Game Stink ’07
TIE- Mayfair Games Announces "Price Fixing"/Alliance with Satan and DUEL IN THE DARK
Of course, if you’ve ever read any of the popular (not as in the “cool” or “attractive to girls” sense) boardgaming webpages out there, you’ve probably gathered that it doesn’t take much to send hobby gamers into a state of extreme underwear unction. There were a couple of things that went down this year, like the time I told a glorified webmaster that he was “full of crap” that caused seismic shockwaves throughout the boardgaming community, but nothing made boardgamers lose their minds quite like Mayfair’s announcement that it would protect the endangered mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar retail stores that have supported the hobby for decades by enforcing a policy that would limit deep discounting by online retailers. The sheer thought of having to pay $3-4 more for a board game sent many into fits of absolute lunacy and I’m sure there was at least one suicide. Of course, online boardgaming wisdom tells us that dirty ol’
Biggest Jumped-Up Piece of Shit That I Played All Year
Good gravy, Days of Wonder scores again in another category they ought not be trying to win. COLESSEUM was pretty close to the worst game I played all year, a completely enervating exercise in all the worst excesses (if you can call them that) of European board game design. Now, I do have to say that this game is freaking beautiful when it’s laid out and the production is just fantastic. I was genuinely excited to play it because I liked the theme (you’re show promoters in Ancient Rome) and I thought the mechanics sounded familiar but they might be fun with the right setting. So what you get is nothing more than GERMAN AUCTION GAME TEMPLATE B with a bunch of bells and whistles. Call ‘em wheezes and grunts, because this dog isn’t fit for show. Days of Wonder’s strategy of making games so pretty that no one realizes how shallow and boring they are hits the jackpot once again- or did it? Has anyone in the world played this game since September?
The Bloody Listern Knife for the Best 2007 Family Game About Eviscerating Hookers
Nothing says family fun like a game with cutie-pie artwork about Jack The Ripper- but you throw cocaine addict Sherlock Holmes into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for wackiness! So while Holmes is doped up over by the wrong street lamp, Saucy Jack turns another victim inside out. “Pretty sneaky, sis!” MR. JACK won this one by default, but rumor has it that at least five other Eurogamer designers are rushing to design their own Ripper games using mechanics such as blind bidding, card drafting, and role selection to recreate in an extremely abstract fashion the events of 1888.
The Mother Theresa Blue Veil Chastity Prize for the Game with the Tightest Box
Last year’s blowout winner was of course MISSION: RED PLANET which caused much consternation among quick-to-shoot, angry BGGers who demand smooth opening, easy-access boxes that don’t even require a glass of wine to pry apart. This year, DUST, a really cool game that is getting almost no publicity whatsoever rather than the “World Map=RISK” notices takes the prize. Using carefully calibrated scientific equipment designed in response to the MRP Box Crisis of ’06, I gauged that it took me nearly 200 PSI of force to remove the box and it required 4.3 seconds. Somebody page Randy Cox and get him to come up with a statistics table so we can accurately track this growing problem. Note to board game publishers- please continue to make those sticky, slick boxes with bottoms slightly larger than the tops. I love that.
Board Gaming Event of the Year
THE REVENGE OF THE SON OF THE BRIDE OF THE HOUSE OF BILLY AND MIKE CON ’07: THE REVENGE IN 3D
Why so sad? You didn’t get invited? Tough shit. You missed out, and I’m not even going to tell you what games we played because it’s MEMBERS ONLY, thank you very much. You’ve got to go on BGG and rate MILCH UND GHERKIN through the roof and continually kiss my ass online and in blogposts, podcasts, and to the high heavens in order to get an invitation. Next year, we’ll be joined by none other than STEVE WEEKS.
BEST TRICK PLAYED ON EUROGAMERS
Mac Gerdt’s “Rondel” System
Ho ho! Including F:AT whipping boy HAMBURGUM, that’s score _three_ for Mr. Gerdts! Whodathunk that simply taking the arrow off a spinner and letting folks choose to spend a couple of ducats or whatever to pick the spot they want would turn out to be such a beloved and “innovative” mechanic? I’m convinced that Mac secretly just wanted to get a bunch of stick-in-the-mud snobs like Clearclaw to play games with spinners.
Most Softball Board Game Review by Someone regarded as and Authority on the Subject
If there’s anything people like Rick Thornquist (R.I.P.?), Tom Vasel, and Greg Schloesser have brought to the field of board game criticism and evaluation it’s the amazing ability to generate not only repeatable, soft-touch platitudes but also the ability to say absolutely nothing interesting about a game whatsoever in the space of a review. Mr. Schloesser has made an art of the confusingly noncommittal review, and his review of CUBA (really just a précis of the rules with a vague “it was OK” sort of statement) had me wondering if “Greg Schloesser” is really a codename for a piece of boardgame review-generating software. Here’s an example of the hard-hitting, cut-to-the-quick insight this titan of boardgaming discourse offers us:
“Whether one needs another game of that breed in their collection is a matter of choice that some will answer in the affirmative, while others will decline. For now, I fall on the “affirmative” side of this question.”
The Jimmy Carter Commemorative Peanut Cup for Pan-Euro/Ameritrash Friendship Outreach and Understanding
From his stunning performance as an Australian on Steve Week’s ULTIMATE PODCAST to his willingness to share intimate details of his sex life with doomed pop debutante Britney Spears, no one did more to promote the healing of wounds this accursed civil war has caused between Ameritrash fans and Eurosnoots and like a boardgaming Martin Luther King, Jr. “The Man” keeps trying to shut him down through a rotating series of bans from the Leading Board Game Site. Much like the famous song by Chumbawamba, he gets banned, but he gets on again. Mr. Skeletor’s efforts have helped many gamers weed out the cool Eurogamers (like Chappy) and the wankers (like Drew) and his unwavering commitment to being a skull-faced antagonist of cartoonishly sensitive post-teenage males is truly remarkable.
The Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Area of Fun Murdering
This is a very special award folks. It’s the first time I’ve handed out a Lifetime Achievment Award but I think this special someone deserves not only the award for Excellence in the Area of Fun Murdering but heretofore this award will be officially called “The Clearclaw”. JC Lawrence, or “Clearclaw” as he’s known the boardgaming world has taken funmurdering to entirely new heights- from his faux-academic prosletyzing to his bizarro-world insistence on playing games like EL GRANDE without the tower and leaving Christmas presents unwrapped to avoid unexpected drama and surprise. Games to this man are just mathematical equations transferred to cardboard, he hates movies, and his moving narrative of a game of THROUGH THE DESERT showed the world that stories don’t have to be any fun whatsoever. He’s the Charlie Manson and Adolf Hitler of fun murdering. Of course, since these awards are fun, I’m sure he’ll decline to accept it.
The Robert Martin Memorial Award for F:ATtie of the Year
TIE- TOM HANCOCK/BRADY
Folks, I gotta tell you…the stuff Tom and Brady are doing for F:AT is just fucking amazing. I mean, it is literally the best boardgame writing I’ve ever read and it really has set the bar unrealistically high for the rest of us. Who can forget that amazing roundtable discussion Tom had with Reiner Knizia, Rudiger Dorn, and Wolfgang Kramer where Knizia broke down in tears over the admission that he really does just pull themes out of his ass and Dorn wound up punching Kramer in the stomach after the latter called the former a “god damned copycat”. Brady’s behind-the-scenes expose on how German games are being used to distribute subliminal neofascist messages of compliance and conformity was truly shocking and I really can’t believe that child labor is still being used to hand-paint those boards. It’s really too bad that most of you can’t read these articles because you haven’t accrued enough F:ATbucks to gain access to the members-only EXCLUSIVE areas of the site. Remember this next time we have a supporter drive.
BEST USE OF THE WORD “FUCK” IN A RULEBOOK
I’m sure the milquetoasts were “concerned” when they cracked open the rulebook to one of the sleeper Euro hits of 2007- the pretty good Polish game NEUROSHIMA HEX. Here’s a few excerpts from this R-rated masterpiece:
“…Screams and howls of the wounded mixed with overwhelming roar of cannons were the Jingle Bells of 2052. Fuck Christmas.”
“Motherfucker was blasting off full auto like a machine gun, punching holes with the massive cannons. Was it really happening? Was that thing real?” When you’re fucked, you’d believe in the weirdest shit. And that was weird shit.”
“But I was alive, and no fucking robot was going to get me now.”
Funny thing is, I’ve never seen anyone else comment on it…and remembering the scandal last year where PARTHENON showed Poseidon’s penis on one of the most famous statues of the Classical era, I’m kind of surprised.
And now…the 2007 Trashie Award for the Best Game of the Year
I haven’t played it, but man, it must be great, right? I figured selecting AGRICOLA would be the best for the community and since it has such a high rating on BGG it’s obviously good. It’s the best game since sliced bread, I’m told, and I think you even get to slice bread in the game. I’ll be sending a stack of 2007 Trashies stickers to Hanno to label future editions of the game featuring the slogan “It’s dying-while-eating-shit good. Tell your ma!”
That’s it for 2007- barring Armageddon we’ll do it again in 2008!