I have still been playing board games (dispite the last few console game posts). Don't really have any reviews, but here are some impressions of games. Recently played 2 games which are "top of the class" to some people: Agricola and Descent: Journeys in the Dark.
Agricola is fun. It isn't the greatest thing since sliced bread. But it is fun. If you remember my gripe about 7 Ages (seemed too gamey because when an empire you have in China produces, your empire in the middle east can only produce if you take a point penalty).
My feelings could also be the result of how I was taught Agricola. After going on and on about how difficult the game was, and how a score of 20 points was "amazing" for first time players, the two new players scored a minimum of 28 points. I had 32 on my first game (which was 2 points away from the winner).
I wasn't thinking hard at all. Maybe the game is like Blue Moon City and scores are automatically close. I enjoyed Blue Moon City better. The decisions seem harder in Blue Moon City. It is a no-brainer to take 10 wood if you have no fences and there's a pile available.
It is like In the Year of the Dragon (in that it is a role-selection and engine building game), except that there is only 1 path to victory: the balanced farm. You don't have the dynamic interplay between prestige and victory points. Unlike ItYotD you only score points at the end so there's no tension between banking points now versus setting up big points at the end of the game. As long as you sit to the left of a player that wants to go first, you also end up with decent turn order for free (slight seating issue).
Agricola is still a fine game. I'd play it again. But it isn't a great game for me.
I also played one game of Descent. Descent feels like a tactical combat game more than a dungeon crawler. Also the person playing Overlord gave us gold chests instead of copper ones so the adventurers were really overpowered for the adventure.
I never felt that the adventurers were in any danger, but figuring out the optimal approach to take out the monsters we did face was interesting.
The mechanics of the game were fun. But it is very hard to evaluate the balance of the scenario we played because it was played wrong. There seems to be a good mix of ranged, magic, and melee options. I specialized in ranged attacks so I might have missed something. Also we didn't have a melee character in the game.
I would play Descent over Agricola if offered both. With mistakes in the scenario, I don't think Descent was given a fair deal. It would be fun to play the same scenario with a different character or even as the Overlord.