The 2014 TaG Award: The Final
The time has come for the final of this year’s award. We have been away on holiday, which threw everything a bit out of whack, but Miss B and I finally found the time to play our two finalists back to back.
To remind you, we have two games that survived the gauntlet of head-to-head plays against other candidates. The first was Miss B’s initial choice of Mutant Meeples, a game of racing to solve puzzles faster than your opponents, with the nice twist that every puzzle you solve reduces your options (but not anyone else’s) for future turns. Our other contender was Gubs, a card game that can have a fair bit of inter-player nastiness in it, which is tempered by the fact that luck plays a huge part in the game and a big lead can be overturned in an instant by a bad card draw.
Miss B requested that we played Mutant Meeples first. She seems to be really getting her head around this game and quickly solved the first couple of puzzles to get an early lead which she maintained for most of the game until she finally won. I always pause for a few seconds before making a call in this game, just to give Miss B a better chance, but we are getting to the point where she doesn’t really need this handicap very much, so I will probably tone it down soon. An interesting element of the game is that when one of us solves the puzzle, the other is usually able to demonstrate an alternate solution, which means that each round becomes a nice discussion and an opportunity for us to show off to each other. Mutant Meeples is definitely a competitive game for us, but it also has some very nice social aspects.
After finishing the game, we stopped for a quick drink and snack break before setting up Gubs — though, in comparison, Gubs take very little setting up. Miss B showed no qualms in attacking me at every opportunity, maintaining a small lead (aided by her control of the Esteemed Elder from an early turn) through most of the game, and managed to play defensive cards pretty well to help her avoid the worst of the nasty event cards. I managed to keep in touch though and squeezed a narrow victory in the end thanks to the game ending soon after I had trapped one of her Gubs in a soap bubble. As usual, the game had its share of crazy twists and turns, and had both of us laughing hysterically on a couple of occasions as some inopportune card stuffed one or both of us.
So, according to Miss B’s scoring system for this year we both had to assign scores out of 10 for each game. I wimped out by giving both games 8 out of 10, though I think this was fair as Mutant Meeples was a fun and satisfying experience, while the game of Gubs was shallow but joyous. Miss B’s scores would decide the day. She told me, “It was a really close test and it was difficult to decide which would win because they were both very good.” In the end, though, she decided that Gubs would get 8 out of 10, and Mutant Meeples got 9 out of 10.
And as a result, I can now announce that Mutant Meeples is the winner of the 2014 TaG Award. Ted Alspach can, I’m sure, imagine a really cool non-existent trophy that he can put on his mantlepiece. (And a big thankyou to Graham, who bought us this game. It has been really appreciated.)