Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Science Fiction

The best games with a science fiction theme...
Also nominated:

For comparison, the top five games from 2002:



Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...

Starship Catan?! Wow... I voted for it, but I didn't expect it to be first. (I'm not bothered by it being first, mind you, just surprised.)

Heroscape got more votes over in the fantasy category - but still picked up enough to make it in here as well. As someone with a copy of every expansion currently published (plus an extra Master set), I'd say I'm pretty happy about that.

Sci-fi game that's missing: Light Speed. (All this talk about Space Dealer just makes me want to pull out this 1 minute to play/5 minutes to score game of space combat & mining.

Some of you may wonder where Attacktix: Star Wars went - due to it's collectability (you can't really play the game with just a starter set), I did not include it in the lists. (And I'm a huge fan, so don't get the wrong idea. Braeden & I just played a 400 point per team game on our kitchen floor - I'll put one of the pix up on my aka pastor guy blog soon... http://akapastorguy.blogspot.com)

11:39 AM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

Yeah, I'm kinda surprised that Starship Catan was number 1 as well. I know it has a lot of fans and I picked it up for just that reason, but I wouldn't have thought it had enough support to finish on top.

I mentioned earlier that I'm marching to a different drummer with the category picks. Well, for sci-fi, I'm movin' to a whole different orchestra! I didn't vote for a single one of the winners. The main reason for that was that I only voted for ONE of the nominated games!

Just one. Dune.

I'm not being overly picky because I've only played four of these games. The other three? Cosmic, which I've never been a huge fan of and my last play of it (complete with rules lawyers) pretty much put me off it for life; RoboRally, which I played once and found my utter lack of spatial sense (I fell into a pit on three consecutive turns--same pit!) meant I should stay far away; and Andromeda, a great premise utterly destroyed by an awful resolution device (the infamous Cosmic Ashtray). Even Dune got my vote more for nostalgia than anything else; I played it a couple of years ago and it didn't seem like it had aged all that well, but I sure had a lot of fun playing it in the eighties.

Of the other nominated games, there's really only one that I have any desire to play, and that's Starship Catan (and even then, I'm not exactly champing at the bit). Most of the other ones seem vaguely wargamey, which isn't a way to my heart. Outpost's long duration and dry gameplay (plus its alleged design issues) kept me away. I've since discovered and enjoyed its spinoff, Zavandor, but have no real desire to go back and sample the original. So there isn't too much of a chance that I'll be adding any of these games to my list anytime soon.

Does this mean I don't like games with a science fiction theme? Not at all, although most of my favorites date back to the eighties or earlier. Here are my nominations, none of which got picked: Borderlands (not really a sci-fi game, even though it's billed as a game of "the barbaric future", but Mark included it and I sure wasn't going to ignore it); Illuminati (not without problems, but a very clever design and well ahead of its time); 4000 AD (the old Waddingtons game, with its innovative and vicious combat system); Buck Rogers (gotta love any game with planets that actually MOVE); Monkeys on the Moon (fun theme and a solid design); Lift Off (fast and kinda fun); and Nautilus (a good game, but about an hour too long for what it is). Not the strongest set of games I've submitted, but they're all games I wouldn't mind playing (even though Borderlands is the only one I ever play anymore).

Science fiction doesn't seem to be a particularly popular theme in Europe. If Space Dealer turns out to be a hit (and I'm starting to have my doubts), it'll be interesting if inspires other futuristic games. I hope it does; I love sci-fi literature and would find it to be an appealing theme in gaming.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Erik Arneson said...

HeroScape is such great fun. I'm glad to see it recognized on both lists!

5:08 PM  
Blogger Kevin_Whitmore said...

I like Starship Catan - IMO it is MUCH better than the boardgame version, Starfarers of Catan. I suspect Starship Catan won because it isn't as polarizing a game as many of the other nominees.

I own Heroscape, but have not played much of it. I was enticed to get it mostly for the terrain system, which I have hopes of using with my Ogre miniatures.

Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit was the best part of Star Wars volume I. I consider this a tremendous game, and I'm pleased to have it in my collection.

But for me, the best Science Fiction games didn't get much print. In the mid-90's TimJim/Prism games hit the trifecta with Outpost, 2038, and Time Agent. Especially with 2038 and Time Agent you got games with a real storyline. The background story on each game was immersive. Oddly, as out of print games, 2038 and Time Agent are easier to find these days than they were 10 years ago. I frequently see both of them on eBay, and in online retail shops. These games are long, and not even vaguely typical Euro-gaming fare. But I heartily recommend them.

1:29 PM  

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