Things of No Interest: Geek Madness - Elite 8

Things of No Interest: Geek Madness - Elite 8

We are down to 8 finalists! So, for those that haven't kept up - it is that time of year again! Time for the 15th Geek Madness Tournament. Each year, folks get to vote on their favorite games in head-to-head matchups to determine the best! Past winners:

Past Champions of the Aldie Award:
2017: The Castles of Burgundy
2016: Power Grid
2015: 7 Wonders
2014: Android: Netrunner
2013: Android: Netrunner
2012: Agricola
2011: Agricola
2010: Power Grid
2009: Twilight Struggle
2008: Power Grid
2007: Power Grid
2006: Power Grid
2005: Puerto Rico
2004: Tigris and Euphrates

The full 2018 bracket

Normally, I vote for all the games I really enjoy, but this year I only voted when I've played both the games in a match up. That being said, we are now down to the wire, so I'm voting in all the matches and here are my thoughts.

Castles of Burgundy vs Terraforming Mars
As I said last week, I really like CoB and would happily play it in most settings. Like a lot of Feld's games, it is a point salad, but it doesn't feel like a point salad bar (which I think a lot of his designs tend towards). This feels well crafted and purposeful which is likely part of why it is so highly ranked.

Terraforming Mars was last year's hotness in Euro games. For me, the two biggest reasons I haven't tried it have been game length, and from everything I've read, there is a bit of a learning curve and possibly an issue with the luck of the draw on tech cards (a flaw found in lots of games like Race for the Galaxy, Agricola, etc). I've also read a fair bit of commentary about knowing who was going to win long before the game was over. All things that have kept me from being excited about playing it.

So, game I like vs game I'm pretty luke-warm about trying? CoB gets the vote.

Gloomhaven vs Agricola
Hmmm. To recap: Agricola is a very good game (I prefer Caverna, but to each their own). Agricola was THE heavy game that finally knocked PR off its throne and opened the door for people to admit that other games were superior. As mentioned, I prefer Agricola's spiritual successor Caverna for a couple of reasons. The first is it feels more accessible to play when you don't play much. Agricola has a LOT of cards and the best way to play the game involved drafting at the start to ensure you have some synergy, but that also means having more than a passing knowledge of the base cards and what you are seeing. The other thing about Agricola that I don't love (which I know Agricola fans disagree with me about) is that it feels like I spend most of the game trying to figure out how to feed my family instead of how to build a good game engine. I get it. I also know that if I played it more, I'd probably get over that as I got familiar with it, but I just don't want to put the effort into it when I feel like I can get what I want from a similar, but different game.

Gloomhaven is definitely the kind of game that I should really like - a campaign dungeon crawler in a legacy format that gives you your own gaming story. I suspect that if someone handed me the game, I'd have a great time with it and would easily vote for it over Agricola (because really, this is vote for your favorite game).

So which did I vote for? Well, a BGG user (MisterG) summed it up pretty succinctly for me:

I suspect a lot of Gloomhaven votes come from folks looking to justify spending a great deal of money on one game and/or are still enjoying the dopamine rush of a new gaming experience. Here's my bet: within five years, Gloomhaven fans will have moved on to the next big thing (or several) and its ratings will have fallen below workhorse Agricola. Agricola has its coterie of haters, and I understand their enmity, but nonetheless, it has stood the test of time admirably. I don't believe that will happen with Gloomhaven.
Since I've not played Gloomhaven, I really have a hard time saying that it is the better game. I don't love Agricola, but I respect the game, so I voted for Agricola.

Power Grid vs Through the Ages
This wasn't even a matchup that I had to think about. Again. One of the best games of all time against a flawed game? Yeah, pretty simple in my mind. You can call PG an exercise in math, but if that's all it was, it wouldn't have won this tournament 5 times since 2005. PG kicks ass because it is a kick ass auction game where sometimes the best thing you can do is sandbag a little. Playing the timing and manipulating the other players idea of what the timing actually is through the auction is what makes this such a wonderful game. Honestly, most of games I'd feel compelled to think about as better than PG didn't make it this far in the contest. If PG and TtR win this round, it will be tough choice for me, but not against TtA...

For those that have been living in a cave and don't know how I feel about it - Through the Ages is the board game version of the amazing Civ series of computer games. Not the official one, but really - who are we trying to kid? I loved Civ - I bought a PC back in the early 90s just to play Civ. The first time I played TtA, I was in love. Then I played it some more and honestly it didn't take that long for me to realize that TtA is not a good game. There, I said it. NOT A GOOD GAME. It is a long heavy game (which is perfectly fine by me), but it is a bash the loser game. And if you are the loser, sorry, there is no catchup mechanism, you are just screwed and will play out the rest of the game in misery. The worst part is, you might be the loser due to pure bad luck in the early part of the game. Military is king early and you might not be able to get the things that others are getting. If so, they have no incentive to attack anyone else with power and you will get repeatedly bashed. Thematically it makes sense, but it doesn't make the game enjoyable.

Ticket to Ride vs Pandemic Legacy

Ticket to Ride is one of my top ten games for a good reason. The base game itself is a wonderful gateway game that I still enjoy. The map variants tweak each game in small but interesting ways. The reason this game is so good is that it is both accessible to new players and still has interesting decisions for experienced gamers. And by still, I mean that I will still play this game anytime someone suggests it. It is good regardless of the number of players and honestly, I have enjoyed every single map I've played. It is just a good game...
Pandemic Legacy got a lot of love a couple of years ago. I didn't really spend any time reading up on it because I have a copy of the game and didn't want ANY spoilers. I'm normally not a huge co-op guy, but the general buzz about this game at least lead me to consider it enough to get a copy.

That being said, I cannot see a legacy co-op game being ahead of Ticket to Ride for me. My family and I just like the game too much for that.
Now, as of this write-up, my top two picks are losing by a large margin and my last two picks look to be the winning ones. If that holds true, then it looks like one powerhouse classic is going to go up against one of the new hotnesses. We'll see who actually makes the final four and if you want to vote for your favorite (or against a game you dislike), please do so at - 2018 Geek Madness Elite 8

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