There are tons of games that I am looking forward to in 2008, but in the interests of brevity (and blogger's 200 character label limit), I'll be talking about two in this post. Others might follow later, depending on comments and what else is going on.
As I've written earlier, I'm a fan of Marvel Heroes, but War of the Ring isn't enjoyable for me. I mentioned that the theme turned me off War of the Ring, but there are a few more quibbles with the game. The action dice serve to limit your choices and strategy. A lot of the game is spent working against the dice (and the dice have no direct link to Tolkien's prose).
I am not the biggest fan of Robert E. Howard, in general, and Conan stories in particular, but I am anticipating Nexus's new "Age of Conan" game with the ill-patience reserved for great games. Age of Conan sounds like a re-tooling of War of the Ring. So why am I so enthused given the theme and mechanics?
Because it sounds like the fantasy war game. It is really multiplayer (unlike War of the Ring which has a fixed 2 sides there are 4 countries players can be). The action dice are back but this time in a common pool. So if I take an action it means that others might not be able to do it, too. This sounds like it will add tactical decisions instead of taking away options (as the dice is War of the Ring could do).
There is also a diplomacy mechanic so war isn't the only path to victory (I enjoy multiple viable victory paths). And Conan is in the game. Auctions to steer the "force of nature" that is Conan might be the best implementation of Conan in board game form that I've heard. It does sound a bit like the Groo game, but the level of detail on Conan's activities, decks for each player nation, cards for events in neutral countries, and so on sounds like it will bring an immersive fantasy world to the table in a way not seen.
Age of Conan is very high on my radar. Here's hoping it is a great big sprawling epic game.
The other game, I'm interested in is actually an English reprint of a game already available in German: Agricola. It is about being a farmer in Europe. The fun in this game would be the same fun in economic games (see comments on Brass, 1825 and Industrial Waste for my love of economic games): building a profitable enterprise.
It also shares limited actions that make a lot of eurogames fun for me. With only 14 turns, it appears that figuring out what needs to be done now and what can wait until later will provide a delicious tension. Blocking other players actions sounds unthematic and just a way to interject interaction into the game, but since when have euros been judged on their thematic strengths?
But wait there's more (just like the infomercials say). You also get the first few planned expansions in the box. That's something like 350 cards. The cards do seem to have combinations, but simply being dealt a good hand doesn't hand the game to you on a silver platter. You have to take an action to play cards, and who knows what the opponents will do with their action advantage over you.
There doesn't appear to be any catch-up mechanism. So if you mess up then that's that. Player elimination is fine in games. It sounds like a tough game that doesn't cut much slack (other than allowing your family members to beg for food instead of staving, but even that comes with a big cost -3 points for each mouth you can't feed).
Looking over this post there doesn't seem to be much in common between the two games I'm anticipating. But that's probably good. If every game were exactly the same as every other one, then there'd be no reason to play different games. I guess variety is the spice of life.