Games of 2003

Here it is — the fabled games of 2003 overview (see the 2002 report). Enjoy. As it turned out, I played some games after I had posted this on mailing lists, but fortunately the data is still correct… It’s always interesting to make this list, though it’s also quite annoying to try to select a single best game.

My goal this year was to play 100 different games. The goal was passed easily. Thanks for Tommy and his Essen games and the flood of promo games I got in the year’s end. For too many games I feel I haven’t played them enough, which is a pity. But I’ll try to stop whining about that, because the world is full of games I haven’t played enough. This is the third year I didn’t play enough Princes of Florence, and I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with that.

Numbers in parentheses refer to last year.

Total number of games played: 557 (351 last year)

Different games played: 123 (79)

Games I played first time this year: 80 (44)

Best game released in 2003:

Sunda to Sahul. Looks and feels unique, is great fun, I’m good at it. What else do you need? Thanks to Don Bone for sending me the review copy, I would’ve missed this one for sure without it.

Best new game in 2003:

Choose the best of 80 more and less interesting games — that’s always so easy! Let’s split it up a bit, shall we. Best card game is Flaschenteufel (and there are plenty of good games just below). Then there’s always Crokinole and we’ll wrap it up with Age of Steam. Many good games are left out, but that’s life!

Worst game of 2003:

Time Control, without a doubt. What misery!

Prettiest game in 2003:

Pirate’s Cove, with a honorary mention going to other Days of Wonder games. Excellent work there! My Crokinole board is also a thing of beauty.

Exactly what I was waiting for:

Crokinole. Much hyped, well worth all the hype.

Biggest disappointment:

Mare Nostrum. Three-hour endgame just killed the game for me. I haven’t mustered enough interest to even try it again.

Then the numbers. First let’s start with 10’s and 5’s lists. Second number notes how many games I played last year or “new” if I hadn’t played the game before.


Go (101/17)


Lost Cities (30/34)

Coloretto (25/new)

Crokinole (20/new)

Battle Line (18/14)

Sunda to Sahul (17/new)

King Lui (15/new)

Lord of the Rings: Confrontation (13/2)

Sticheln (13/new)

Puerto Rico (12/30)

Mamma Mia! (11/new)


PitchCar (9/new)

Zèrtz (9/22)

Balloon Cup (8/new)

Top Speed (8/new)

Attika (7/new)

Alhambra (6/new)

Carcassonne (6/24)

Gang of Four (6/new)

6 Nimmt (5/11)

Africa (5/16)

Amun-Re (5/new)

East-West (5/new)

Land Unter (5/new)

Ra (5/new)

One time games: 47

As it was last year, once again the lists are full of new games. Such is life. Notable losers are Puerto Rico, Carcassonne, Zèrtz, Web of Power, Africa, Villa Paletti, all of which inhabited the 10’s list last year. Puerto Rico is still there, but with only third of the games I played last year. Biggest winners are LotR: Confrontation, which I got for myself this year and, of course, Go which I really started to play this year.

Happiness product (games x rating x length):

1. Go (153/32)

2. Die Macher (54/40)

3. Puerto Rico (36/100)

4. Sticheln (34/new)

5. Age of Steam (26/new)

6. Coloretto (22/new)

7. Gang of Four (21/new)

Tichu (21/new)

9. Amun-Re (19/new)

10. Crokinole (18/new)

Go wins the pot here. There are the best long games (Die Macher, Age of Steam) and then the shorter games I played a lot.

Matthew Gray’s month metric:

1. Go (8/4)

2. Sticheln (6/new)

3. Battle Line (5/6)

Lost Cities (5/6)

Puerto Rico (5/8)

6. Amun-Re (4/new)

Coloretto (4/new)

Mamma Mia! (4/new)

Ra (4/new)

Go hit the table most. Sticheln gets a good showing here, and it’s true: I played it in a steady fashion, especially during the Spring/Summer.

2 players:

1. Go (101/17)

2. Lost Cities (28/34)

3. Battle Line (18/14)

4. Lord of the Rings: Confrontation (13/2)

5. Crokinole (11/new)

Lost Cities and Battle Line are steady favourites of mine, that’s for sure. I’m still a bit curious how I end up playing Lost Cities so much, even though I like Battle Line more. Tom Tube might make this list next year, I’ve had it for a short time but it’s a great game. I also enjoyed Flowerpower and Ta Yü even though they don’t show up on the list. About half of the games I’ve played (268/557 to be precise) are two-player games, but that’s pretty much because of Go.

3 players:

1. Sticheln (12/new)

2. Coloretto (8/new)

3. Sunda to Sahul (7/new)

4. Mamma Mia! (6/new)

Puerto Rico (6/17)

As some of you might know, Sticheln is my favourite three-player game. Well, Flaschenteufel is challenging that. 114 three-player games in total. There are plenty of three-player opportunities for me, I’ve noticed.

4 players:

1. Coloretto (15/new)

2. Crokinole (9/new)

3. Sunda to Sahul (7/new)

4. Land Unter (4/new)

Puerto Rico (4/9)

Interesting and surprising list. Shorter games, mostly. Looks like my four-player games were well distributed and that’s true — there are plenty of good four-player games. 109 four-player games.

5 players:

1. King Lui (9/new)

2. Mamma Mia! (4/new)

PitchCar (4/new)

4. Taj Mahal (3/new)

5. Too many games with 2 games.

Well spread here as well. This was the only mention Taj Mahal got, which is a pity. It was one of the more interesting new games this year as well. 57 five-player games this year.

As an extra bonus to round it up, here are fives and tens for the University board game club I run:


Isis & Osiris (25)

Mississippi Queen (15)

Crokinole (14)

Sunda to Sahul (14)

Web of Power (14)

PitchCar (11)


Princes of Florence (9)

TransAmerica (9)

Lost Cities (6)

Cartagena (5)

Clans (5)

Falling (5)

Total of 82 different games and 258 games played.

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2 responses to “Games of 2003”

  1. So how does 2003 games compare to previous years? Will 2003 go down in history as a “phenomenal year in gaming” or just a “great year in gaming”?

  2. It was certainly a good year. Even great. Lots of good new games, that’s for sure. I was very satisfied.