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GrogHeads 2012 Readers’ Choice Game of the Year Awards

2 February 2013

2012 marked the creation of We started in early January as a simple forum where friends could gather, but quickly became something more. Reviews began to pop up on our front page than then we rapidly began to grow as a gaming community. War and historical gaming is our first love, but we are gamers and play games of all stripes, as the voting results will soon indicate. Being new we are still developing an infrastructure, so a word on nominations is in order. In December we opened nominations for Game of the Year in our forums, and those nominations were left open for the better part of a month. We had a number of nominations, and any games which qualified as being released during 2012 were accepted. Going forward we have already created several threads for nominations in 2013, and those threads will be open all year.

GOLD2012 was an amazing year for gamers. We saw games that let us conquer pixels, cardboard, resin, and pewter on battlefields that were as varied as Ancient Rome, the Second World War, zombies, and outer space. 2012 was a great year to be a GrogHead, and our readers have recognized that in their enthusiastic voting.

Categories started in two areas: tabletop and digital. From that we broke down categories based on what we thought most reflected a game’s character. For instance, Xcom offered both a strategic game and a tactical game, and a good case could be made for entering into either category, or both, though we chose to call it a strategy game. On the other hand, Thunderbolt Apache Leader, while loaded with pewter miniatures, had game mechancis that reflected a more traditional strategy game than miniatures game. Our decisions, while definitive, are not above critique and we welcome readers to share their feedback in our forums.

Regardless of the variety of choices one thing was clear: wargames are our favorite games. As you are about to discover, general games drew a lot of attention. Xcom managed to dominate its category as an overwhelming favorite, but it got clobbered in the overall voting of top digital game when it was lined up against some excellent digital wargames. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t well liked – it means that Grogs are Grogs. We play everything but wargaming is our greatest love.

See the full voting results here.

Tabletop Voting

Voting in the tabletop category broke down into three categories plus voting for the overall best tabletop game across all categories. The three categories were miniatures games, tactical games, and strategy games. Overall voting results seemed to reveal a reader bias in a particular category, but you’ll need to read further to discover it…


Readers’ Choice Tabletop Minis Game of the Year

Six nominations were made for the best minis game of the year but voting was strongest between two Second World War games: Sergeants Miniatures Game and Bolt Action. A late round of voting put Sergeants over the top, but Bolt Action was a close second. The fight over third place was also close, but Dust Warfare managed to seal the deal.


Readers’ Choice Tabletop Strategy Game of the Year

Seven nominations were made for the best tabletop strategy game and voting was tight between almost all of them. The top two favorites were set during the present or near future. Next War Korea was the crowd favorite, with Thunderbolt Apache Leader coming in a close second. Thunderbolt Apache Leader is loaded with pewter miniatures, and rightly might have qualified as a miniatures game. However, the fact that it is predominately card-driven and based on area movement rather than traditional miniatures games which are positional caused us to reconsider the proper category for it. After some deliberation we decided it would be better categorized as a strategy game than miniatures game, and as a result it has taken second place in our Readers’ Choice voting. Third place went to Virgin Queen, a grand-strategy boardgame covering the Wars of Religion under Elizabeth I.


Readers’ Choice Tabletop Tactical Game of the Year

Academy Games’ 1812 The Invasion of Canada managed to beat out Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Division. Now you may be asking yourself, “Didn’t Fighting Formations get released in 2011?” The answer is, “Yes.” We’d like to tell you that it was such a great game that it needed to be run as a candidate in 2012. (It is.) We’d like to be able to tell you that the 2012 reprint of the game was so significantly better that it needed to be considered as a 2012 release. (We’re not so sure.) All that would be wonderful, but the simple fact is: we screwed up. Fighting Formations was released in 2012, but nothing of significance changed. We verified it was released in 2012, but failed to look at 2011 to verify that it had been initially released then. Sorry. Please be sure to properly heckle us in our feedback forum. Regardless, the next best place was Lock ‘n Load’s World at War: Into the Breach, and so the tactical gaming favorites range from the 19th Century to the present. Eclectic, as might be expected of grogs.


Readers’ Choice Tabletop Game of the Year

If voting for individual categories was tight, voting for the overall best tabletop game reflected an interesting split in opinion. The top two spots were almost perfectly divided between a miniatures game and a traditional tabletop game. Sergeants Miniatures Game bare beat out 1812 Invasion of Canada. Third place went to Bolt Action, and with two of the three top spots it looks like GrogHeads is not-so-secretly becoming a haven of miniatures gamers.


Digital Gaming

Digital gaming saw a number of nominations and the categories were much broader than tabletop games. Strategic Wargame, General Strategy Game, Tactical Game, Action Game, RTS, FPS, RPG, and Mod/DLC were the categories. Wargames once again clobbered more mainstream titles, but there was clearly strong support for mainstream titles within their respective categories. Let’s see if we can spot some patterns.


Digital RTS Game of the Year

RTS nominations this year were modest in number but held some good contenders. All set in the near-future or outright scifi, the top pick was Wargame: European Escalation. Second choice was Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, which offered gamers a solid blend of real-time 4X gameplay. Third choice was Naval Warfare: Arctic Circle, which offered compelling gameplay but had several bugs which put off a number of gamers. Despite some flaws it still garnered a respectable showing in the voting, leaving us to wonder how it might have fared with more polish.


Digital Action Game of the Year

The action game category became something of a catch-all category. Games like War of the Roses, which technically aren’t shooters (except for the archers) rubbed shoulders with quirky fun games like Mark of the Ninja. Decisions had to be made on which games should go where and some of them ended here. Once again we invite readers to laud or deride our choices in our forums. Regardless, this is how the voting turned out. First place found a clear winner in War of the Roses, a medieval game where some of our readers enjoyed bonking each other over the head with virtual halberds and maces. Second place went to Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, with third coming in tight voting, but ultimately Mark of the Ninja won out.


Digital FPS Game of the Year

The top three choices for best FPS game were clearly head and shoulders above any other games nominated. The top pick was Borderlands 2. Second place saw Call of Duty II: Black Ops, with third place held by Iron Front: Liberation 1944. A number of other nominees were in this category but they struggled for support against these three dominant titles.


Digital RPG Game of the Year

First, second, and third places were all clearly held above all other nominees in our readers’ voting just as with the FPS voting. Mass Effect 3 was the clear first place winner. Diablo III was equally clear as a second choice, while The Walking Dead was a solid third. It’s difficult to discern a pattern with these. Scifi, zombies, and high fantasy don’t really suggest a clear pattern for success if you’re hoping to catch next year’s Readers’ Choice favorite. But we can’t wait to see what folks think.


Digital DLC/Mod Game of the Year

The best DLC/Mod based on reader voting saw the top two places go to traditional game expansion packs. The Civ V Gods & Kings DLC was the obvious favorite, with Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai an equally strong second place. Third place voting went to a Skyrim mod, SkyUI. The SkyUI mod was created to improve the keyboard and mouse user interface for the hugely popular RPG, Skyrim. It is a surprisingly strong showing, but Grog’s readers know their way around a PC, and installing mods is not unfamiliar territory. They know a good thing when they see it, and SkyUI scarfed up third place in their voting.


Digital Strategy Game of the Year

If there were ever a case of a decisive win in voting, this year’s Digital Strategy voting is it. Xcom cleaned house with a whopping 73% of the votes going to it. Second place went to Paradox’s Warlock: Master of the Arcane, which is an excellent and highly addictive turn-based fantasy game that was inducted into GrogHeads' Order of the Hex, but that wasn’t enough to even be a contender to Xcom. Third place went to Elemental: Fallen Enchantress.


Digital Tactical Game of the Year

The nominees for Tactical Game of the Year were mostly wargames, and the reader voting favored wargames. Academy Games managed to place in both the tabletop and digital gaming categories, and their port of a hugely popular tabletop game, Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear pulled a solid first place showing. Second and third place voting was much tighter. Combat Mission: Fortress Italy edged out Battle for the Bulge mobile for second and third places, respectively.


Digital Strategic Wargame of the Year

The top three digital strategic wargames of 2012 were all Slitherine productions. World War One games have long been absent from digital wargamers’ hard drives, but Commander: The Great War offered ease of play for an era long neglected the result earned it first place in our voting. Panzer Korps: Afrika Korps, a remake of the classic Panzer General, drew strong second place voting and cemented The Lordz Games Studio as a major wargame player, having released two highly significant and popular games in the same year. Grogs recognized their efforts and rewarded them accordingly. Third place was the highly acclaimed Decisive Campaigns: Case Blue by Victor Reijkersz, which won a rare Order of the Hex award for its historical realism that was almost paradoxically user friendly.


Digital Game of the Year

With over forty games in contention for overall best digital game of the year the GrogHeads staff had to wonder how difficult our readers would find the task of choosing a top three. It turns out there were about seven clear favorites, with the top three easy to identify. The overall readers’ choice for top digital game was Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear. Second place went to Battlefront for their Combat Mission: Fortress Italy. Third place went to Panzer Korps: Afrika Korps, and with it a major coup for both publisher Slitherine and developer The Lordz Games Studio.


Conclusions and Observations

2012 Readers Choice voting turned out to be much like our readers gaming preferences. We play all kinds of games but are, in our hearts, wargamers. Tactical World War Two games turned out to be a reader favorite for digital games. On the tabletop side, an excellent traditional tabletop game is always welcome, but it appears as though minis gamers are digging in and prepared to make a strong showing for pewter pushers in the voting. Again, the Second World War is the preferred era of choice, but exceptions will always be made for great games of any era and on any medium.


With that we bid the year 2012 goodbye and eagerly turn our eyes toward the greatness yet to come in 2013. Congratulations to all the nominees. A hearty salute to the winners and be sure to remember to nominate your picks for Game of the Year 2013 in our forums.


Discuss the ballots in our forums >>

See the full voting results here.

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