My Favorite Game of the Year, 1974 - 2019
p55carroll
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Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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Saw that other VGGeeks have done this, so I thought I'd follow suit.

Just browsed through the games released each year and picked my favorite from each list. Only in a few cases did I play any of them the first year they were out. In some cases the game was fifteen or twenty years old by the time I got around to playing it.

For some years, I had to really stretch to find a game to list.

Comments welcome.
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1. Video Game: Tank! (1974) [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1974
My first or second year of college. I was required to take a PE course, and I chose bowling--something I'd never done before. In the bowling alley were a couple video games, and Tank was my favorite. I'd don't know if there was a single-player version; I always got somebody else to play it with me.
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2. Video Game: Gun Fight [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Gun Fight
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1975
This one was in a bar. When we weren't shooting pool, I got my friend Gerald to play this game with me. It was a blast the few times we played.
 
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3. Video Game: Breakout (1976) [Average Rating:5.79 Overall Rank:5315]
Video Game: Breakout (1976)
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1976
I had to look hard to find a game for this year. Turns out I have played Breakout (perhaps under a different name) at some time or other. Just a time or two, though, and probably not in 1976.
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4. Video Game: Mattel Football [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Mattel Football
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1977
Again I had to look long and hard to find a game from this year. And I'm not sure this is the exact one. But I did have a handheld football game, and I remember it looking pretty much like this. I thought it was a very cool thing at the time.
 
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5. Video Game: Space Invaders [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:4641]
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p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1978
I probably didn't see this game for a couple more years; my memory's fuzzy on it. It was amusing, but I didn't get into it the way some people did.
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6. Video Game: Space Battle [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:5886]
Video Game: Space Battle
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1979
It was 1984 by the time I saw this game. It came with the Intellivision my mom bought me. I had several games for that console, but I remember this one best. Never played it after that year, though.
 
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7. Video Game: Red Baron (1980/Arcade) [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Red Baron (1980/Arcade)
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1980
I didn't see this until 1981, but it was by far my favorite arcade game. My friend Terry used to like going to the arcades, which were in full swing then. I'd tag along and play whatever caught my eye. There was a lineup for this game, even though it cost twice as much (two quarters) as the other games. I thought that if I had a machine all to myself, I'd never stop playing. If only I could've looked ahead ten years.
 
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8. Video Game: Dnieper River Line [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Dnieper River Line
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
1981
Bought a used TRS-80 from a guy at work, and I ended up looking for a few games to play with it. This was one. The program was on a cassette tape, and the game was played on a physical board with cardboard chits, just like any wargame of the time.
 
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9. Video Game: Empire of the Over-Mind [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Empire of the Over-Mind
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1982
Another game for my TRS-80. Frustrated me to tears, this text adventure. There was no easy way to get hints, and I soon gave up.
 
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10. Video Game: M.U.L.E. [Average Rating:8.47 Overall Rank:157] [Average Rating:8.47 Unranked]
Video Game: M.U.L.E.
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1983
Well, I played this game a little, many years after it came out. I couldn't find another 1983 game to list. Though I've heard many good things about M.U.L.E., I never caught on to it or liked what I saw of it.
 
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11. Video Game: The Ancient Art of War [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:3511]
Video Game: The Ancient Art of War
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1984
One of my first games for the first home PC my wife and I bought. It was about four years old when I played it. Great game, and I played a lot of it. Even used the editor to create my own scenarios for this game and also Ancient Art of War at Sea.

Some say this is the first RTS game, though it's nothing like what people would think of nowadays.
 
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12. Video Game: Silent Service [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:4627]
Video Game: Silent Service
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
1985
A couple decades passed before I saw and played this game. And its sequel, Silent Service II, is much nicer. I still play that one today. Too arcade-like for sub-sim aficionados, but I like it a lot in spite of the early graphics and sparse sound effects.
 
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13. Video Game: The Chessmaster 2000 [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1986
The very first game I bought for our first home PC. Guess it was a couple years old when I got it. I'd always wanted to get good at chess, but I never had anyone to play with. I hoped this would be my answer. Unfortunately, chess is just hard. I could win on novice level, but I'd be mercilessly crushed on intermediate. I tired of the struggle before long, though I did end up buying several more chess software packages over the years.
 
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14. Video Game: The Ancient Art of War at Sea [Average Rating:8.36 Overall Rank:3392]
Video Game: The Ancient Art of War at Sea
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1987
Naval warfare wasn't usually my thing, but the first game in this series was so good I had to try this one. Loved it--maybe more than the first game. I never got around to buying Ancient Art of War in the Air, though (I think I read it wasn't as good as the other two).
 
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15. Video Game: Pool of Radiance [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:598]
Video Game: Pool of Radiance
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
1988
My wife and I were newlyweds, and she'd had fun playing D&D in her college years, though I never did. This game turned out to be something we could do together. We'd each roll up three characters, and then we'd sit side by side and run our party through the adventure. Made it all the way through this game and one or two others in the series. But we were disappointed when Eye of the Beholder came out, as it was first person and didn't lend itself to side-by-side play.

Some time later, I got into the Buck Rogers games, but I played those by myself.
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16. Video Game: Populous [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1360]
Video Game: Populous
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1989
My wife and I thought this was the greatest thing when it came out. We both played it quite a bit, though we never got any good at it.
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17. Video Game: Red Baron (1990) [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:1066]
Video Game: Red Baron (1990)
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1990
Ah! My old arcade favorite, come home to roost. I had to wait until we upgraded our computer system before I could buy this. Then I decided the mouse and keyboard weren't enough, so I bought a "flight stick." At that point, I was in heaven. RB must be one of my most-played games, even though I haven't played it in years. I still own a copy, but I'm back to using the keyboard on my laptop, and it's a little awkward.

I played the other Aces games too. They're all great.
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18. Video Game: Civilization [Average Rating:8.40 Overall Rank:31] [Average Rating:8.40 Unranked]
Video Game: Civilization
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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1991
I'd been a board wargamer for a couple decades, and I was always looking for these newfangled PC games to be like the games I loved. The arcade scene had seemed like just a passing fad to me, and games like Dnieper River Line (see above) were really computer-assisted board games. When Civ came out, I said, "Ah, now this is my kind of game!"

The downside for me was threefold: (1) history was mixed up, and I'd been used to accurate history; (2) too much politics and economics for my liking, and war wasn't handled that well; and (3) most of the game rules were "under the hood," and I had to scroll around to see the whole map. But in spite of those drawbacks, I couldn't stop playing this game.
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19. Video Game: Conquered Kingdoms [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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p55carroll
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
1992
Now, here was a true wargame for the PC. It had a fantasy-medieval theme, and I'd been used to historical games, but it was a good, old-fashioned red-versus-blue, conquer-the-map game. And I couldn't get enough of it.

Its graphics were old even when it was new, and the sound effects were primitive too. But game play couldn't be beat. If GOG rereleased it, I'd probably get back into playing it even today.


Aces of the Pacific is another good game that came out in 1992.
 
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20. Video Game: Master of Orion [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:8.23 Unranked]
Video Game: Master of Orion
p55carroll
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
1993
Perhaps my all-time favorite game. Probably my most-played game. It was, shall we say, heavily inspired by Civilization, but in my opinion it improved upon that game. First off, it's much more streamlined; what's complicated in Civ is simpler in MoO, and the politico-economic aspects of Civ are neatly downplayed in MoO. Secondly, MoO introduces a tactical combat system: when a battle begins, the scene shifts from the main map to the battlefield, and the player can maneuver his fleet like chess pieces.

The effect is to make MoO more of a wargame than Civ. You still do diplomacy and espionage and financing and management and all, and those aspects of the game are interesting and challenging. But it's clear that your primary focus is conquest. If you expand rapidly, you can win the game without war, but in most games there will be military conflict, and you'll be right there commanding the space battles.

Even though I often auto-resolve the battles, I love the fact that they're graphically portrayed in the game. In Civ, it feels like you're only seeing the outcome of battles, not the battles themselves. And Civ would probably be ruined if it did have tactical battles, because there's so much else going on in that game. MoO gets away with having tactical battles because other aspects of the game are so streamlined.

Brilliant game design, and still one of my favorite games to play.


Aces Over Europe is another good game that came out in 1993.
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21. Video Game: Master of Magic [Average Rating:8.63 Overall Rank:42]
Video Game: Master of Magic
p55carroll
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
1994
Well, apparently not everyone liked how streamlined Master of Orion was. Some wanted all the bells and whistles that Civ had. So along came MoM, one of the classic PC strategy games.

I played the heck out of it, and years later I came back for another round of playing. I still have the game, now with unofficial patches, and I still admire it. And there are worse ways to spend several hours of gaming.

It's truly an amazing design; it has everything, and it captures the feel of dual-world conquest in an age of wizardry.

It has bugs too, though--which is why I've installed patches beyond the official 1.31 patch. And it's a little rough around the edges; the diplomacy system is practically broken (another reason for the patches).

A wonderful game in its day, and it still has many fans. It's a little too slow and clunky for my taste anymore, though. But I do like it better than Civilization, mainly because there's tactical combat in MoM just as in MoO.


A strong runner-up for GotY of 1994 is X-COM: UFO Defense. I certainly played a lot of that, and I currently own both Steam and GOG versions of it. Terrific game, but for me it has always been a little too demanding: losses in the tactical fights can be devastating, and then there's all the financial management that needs to be done.

Another good 1994 game is Aces of the Deep, the first sub sim I ever played.
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22. Video Game: Warlords II Deluxe [Average Rating:9.00 Overall Rank:4223]
Video Game: Warlords II Deluxe
p55carroll
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
1995
When I got this game, I thought sure I'd be playing it all my life. Just a fantastic strategy wargame. Light on the tactics, but balanced and endlessly interesting on the strategic level. I don't remember why I ever stopped playing; I must have gotten distracted by all the other great games that were coming along then.
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23. Video Game: Fantasy General [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:853]
Video Game: Fantasy General
p55carroll
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
1996
I started with Panzer General, and when it was new I thought I might be playing it forever. But World War II was never a huge interest of mine, and I was happier with FG when it came along. No masses of transport ships to fuss with, for one thing. I'd like to have seen some boats and bodies of water in FG, but it was--and still is--a fine light wargame anyway.

Well, some would call it more of a puzzle game in disguise, because it becomes imperative to work on leveling up your core units as you figure out the "trick" of winning each scenario. But I've grown used to that, I guess.

Anyway, I still have FG installed on my laptop, and I still enjoy playing it when I have time.
 
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24. Video Game: Imperialism [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:2142]
Video Game: Imperialism
p55carroll
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
1997
I steered clear of this game when it was new because I'd read it was mainly about economics, and I hated economics. Many years later, I read that Imperialism is one of the best strategy games ever designed, so I had to buy a copy and find out.

Imperialism I and II are both masterpieces. They can also be extremely challenging. And I was right in the first place--they're so focused on economics that I have a lot of trouble enjoying them. So, the games are in my digital library, and I admire them, but I don't know if I'll ever get back to playing them again.


Sid Meier's Gettysburg also came out this year. I was afraid I wouldn't like it because it was real-time, but it turned out I enjoyed it a lot. Now I'm looking forward to getting into Ultimate General: Civil War
 
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25. Video Game: Baldur's Gate [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:71]
Video Game: Baldur's Gate
p55carroll
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Minnesota
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‘Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said—’ the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep. ‘After that,’ continued the Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter—’"
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"‘But what did the Dormouse say?’ one of the jury asked. ‘That I can’t remember,’ said the Hatter."
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Microbadge: CaliforniaMicrobadge: I love solo gaming!Microbadge: Master of Orion fanMicrobadge: VGG: Turn Based Games fanMicrobadge: Minnesota
1998
A couple VGGeeks suggested this game to me, so I got it and tried it and played it all the way through a while (two or three years?) ago. I don't even remember seeing it when it was new; I caught up with it some fifteen or more years later.

I was impressed with how far RPGs had progressed since my Pool of Radiance days. BG is much more user-friendly. And the game world feels enormous.
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