2011/2 Best International Game

Boardgames Australia very much enjoyed playing all of these short-listed games, and are sure that there will be many Australians that will enjoy each of these games. Award timing changed to June, so this award in 2012 was for games from 2011 and 2012.

The winner of the Best International Game was Cargo Noir as announced at the Toy & Game Expo in Sydney, June 2012.

Cargo Noir

Designer: Serge Laget
Publisher: Days of Wonder
Players: 2 – 5
Playing time: 60 minutes
Suitable for: Families ages 10 and up, adults
Indicative price: $50 – $70

Cargo Noir combines sumptuous graphics and simple play, to make an engaging game about collecting sets of goods. Each player uses their fleet of boats to trade at ports, or collect cash or contraband from Macau.

Money is very tight, and players go head-to-head in bidding against each other for the goods at a port in an atmosphere of bluff and cold calculation. Profits can be spent to acquire more boats, thugs or warehouses, or to acquire status items such as yachts, night clubs, or even your own principality.

Easy to learn but full of intrigue, this is a great game for adults of families.

7 Wonders

Game Name: 7 Wonders
Designer: Antoine Bauza
Publisher: Repos Production / Asmodee
Players: 2 – 7
Playing time: 30 – 45 minutes
Suitable for: Adults, Families ages 10 and up
Indicative price: $60 – $80

This is a very clever and enjoyable game, that takes no longer with seven players than with two! Each player controls a classical civilization, and over the course of three rounds develops their civilization in production, commerce, science, warcraft, culture and tries to build their wonder.

This is handled very easily: choose one development card from your hand to build, and then pass the hand on to your neighbour. As the round progresses you have less and less choice of what to build, but strangely the choices never seem to get any easier! Trading and warfare are possible with the players to your left and right, so you must watch their civilizations for opportunities that develop.

Innovative, fun and satisfying this is highly recommended for older families: playing the game is easy, but the scoring at the end of the game can be a bit daunting: it may be easiest to use one of the many free apps that can be downloaded from the internet.

The Adventurers: Pyramid of Horus

Designer: Guillaume Blossier & Frédéric Henry
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games / Tilsit
Players: 2 – 6
Playing time: 45 minutes
Suitable for: Families and children ages 8 and up
Indicative price: $60 – $80

The Adventurers: the Pyramid of Horus (TAFH to its friends) is an exciting game of pushing your luck while exploring a pyramid. The lure is to collect treasures related to five different Egyptian gods, but there are many dangers lurking, such as scorpions, re-animated mummies, and of course… the ceiling is collapsing. Those who dawdle too long scooping up treasure will be trapped inside for eternity.

Each character has a slightly different power, and depending how the blocks fall the game can be very short, or last the 45 minutes.

Fun for families, even with young children (say 8 upwards) as the game play is simple and exciting, and the game pieces are very nice: models of each player, and big plastic blocks for the falling ceiling stones.

Forbidden Island

Game Name: Forbidden Island
Designer: Matt Leacock
Publisher: Gamewright
Players: 2 – 4
Playing time: 30 minutes
Suitable for: Families ages 8 and up, adults
Indicative price: $25 – $35

A game where players co-operate to rescue four ancient treasures from an island that is slowly sinking beneath the waves. Everyone must work as a team, as you all win or lose together.

The game is beautifully designed, so that the island slowly disintegrates making it harder to move around, and ensuring that each game a tense rush to the finish trying to ensure that no team member drowns. Players collect cards that give them access to the treasure sites, but one player must hold all four of these access cards, and this is where the teamwork is required to arrange meetings to swap cards and plan priorities.

This game looks great, is available at a very reasonable price in a metal tin, and the co-operative play means that even young children can play as part of the team. Highly recommended for yourself – or as a great gift for others.


Designer: Greg Daigle
Publisher: Rio Grande
Players: 2 – 5
Playing time: 90 minutes
Suitable for: Adults, Families ages 13 and up
Indicative price: $40 – $55

Hawaii is a very rich and rewarding game, where players compete to build the best villages. Players must manage various forms of currency such as clams to hire people for the village and feet to enable you to move around the big island, while balancing accumulating immediate points against buildings and people that will give you more options in later turns.

There are many options to explore: from developing canoes, to pursuing agriculture, or worshipping various gods. The rules are a bit daunting unless you are experienced gamers, so recommended for those prepared to make some commitment to a game that can be replayed many many times.

Kingdom Builder

Designer: Donald Vaccarino
Publisher: Queen Games
Players: 2 – 4
Playing time: 30 – 45 minutes
Suitable for: Adults, Families ages 10 and up
Indicative price: $55 – $85

Kingdom Builder is fast, varied, and not like any other game. It involves a lot of thinking and allows a lot of cunning play. Each turn you have to place three settlements on a particular type of landscape; each settlement must be next to an existing one if possible.

This is the twist that makes the game, as usually you’ll be trying to keep your options open by ensuring that you don’t have settlements adjacent to too many landscape types.

The game is played on a modular board that is different each time. The ways to score points are different each game (you use three cards out of ten) and there are different special moves available each game (you use four types out of eight). All this means that you will have plenty to ponder with this game for the foreseeable future. Recommended if you like games like Chinese Checkers or Hey that’s my Fish!


Designer: Mike Elliott & Eric Lang
Publisher: WizKids
Players: 2 – 4
Playing time: 30 minutes
Suitable for: Families ages 10 and up
Indicative price: $60 – $80

Quarriors is dicing, dragons and deck-building all rolled into one fun packages. The game comes with 130 special dice, and a cloth bag for each player from which you draw the dice to roll in your turn. The dice are used to tame monsters and learn spells which are represented by new dice that are added to your bag.

The game is won by fighting for glory – your mighty monsters must stand undefeated by the other players for a full round and then can score you points. Fun for everyone who loves the thought of primordial ooze and quake dragons battling it out on their behalf.


Designer: Antoine Bauza
Publisher: Asmodee / Matagot
Players: 2 – 4
Playing time: 45 minutes
Suitable for: Families ages 10 and up
Indicative price: $60 – $80

For once we have a game without wizards, competing empires or trains: in Takenoko you are in charge of an imperial garden built for a panda. Your job is to grow three species of bamboo, ensuring proper irrigation and fertiliser.

The panda comes along and eats the bamboo and scurry around if scared by a storm. There is a game here based on scoring points by forming particular groupings of bamboo and keeping the panda fed, but a lot of the joy comes from the beautiful components: the board tiles have lovely illustrations, the bamboo forest is built up from segments of wood that join together, and there are two painted figures to represent the panda and the gardener.

Fun and satisfying, and appealing to all ages and genders.


Designer: Dominique Ehrhard
Publisher: Game Works
Players: 2 – 4
Playing time: 30 – 40 minutes
Suitable for: Ages 10 and up
Indicative price: $30 – $40

Tschak! may be the sound an axe makes as it cuts off a monster’s tentacle. In this simple card game, bands of three intrepid adventurers (wizard, warrior and dwarf) venture into monster infested castles to collect loot and avoid being injured by monsters.

The band is gradually revealed, so players can vie to build the most powerful team to claim the treasure. The interesting twist is that after one castle is conquered, you pass all your cards to the left, and play the next castle with the cards of the player to your right.

The art work is hilarious with references to famous fantasy and science fiction movies, and the whole package comes in a nice small box. A great mix of fun, bluff, skill and memory, this will appeal to adults and families with young boys.