A hand of first edition "A Few Acres of Snow" cards. Image by Ivan Dostál used under Creative Commons license.

One of the best games of 2011 is about to get a better. That's more truth than hyperbole, as "A Few Acres of Snow" was named the #4 best game of 2011 here on MTV Geek, and one year later, the game is about to receive an improved second edition printing. There's also a switch at the publishing helm, with game designer Martin Wallace moving his business from Mayfair Games to Asmodée Editions.

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"Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans – The list of threats is endless and no place in the universe is ever truly safe from danger, but there is one man who has made it his mission to defend the defenseless, help the helpless, and save everyone he can: a mysterious stranger, a force of nature who has seen his own planet die, a madman with a box."

Given the popularity of Doctor Who, it comes as a surprise that the franchise hasn't yet had a standout board or card game adaptation. It's not for lack of trying though, as there are plenty of lackluster Who-themed games. At this year's Gen Con, publisher Cubicle 7 came armed with a serious one-two punch: the Doctor Who license and revered (and appropriately British) hobby game designer Martin Wallace.

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If you haven't read any of the Discworld novels, the box art for this game is worth a thousand words in describing the series' tone.

Welcome to Ankh-Morpork, the largest, smelliest, and most ‘interesting’ city on Discworld. The city’s patrician, Lord Vetinari, has disappeared, and the citizens are calling out for firm leadership. Will one of the noble families take control of the city, or will the people welcome the return of the king to restore peace? Then again, Vetinari’s absence may have been temporary and his spies could be spreading around the city, ready to start pulling the levers of power for their master.

In the most unlikely of pairings, Discworld: Ankh-Morpork takes the off-beat satirical works of author Terry Pratchett and puts them in the hands of Euro-style board game designer Martin Wallace. For those not familiar with Wallace, know that he is most famous for economic games such as Automobile and London, deep-thinking strategic experiences that are not for the faint of heart.

Having those examples in mind, I was a bit skeptical when first looking at Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, but the game is actually fantastic. Read on for the full review to find out how Wallace pulled it off.

Just the Facts:

Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 60 minutes
Age: 11 and up
Publisher: Mayfair Games
MSRP: $49.00
Release: October 2011

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Last time around, we rounded up games #10-6 on our list of the top 10 board games of 2011. With the new year upon us, it's time to look at what other top-of-the-class titles from last year should be hitting your table in 2012. Hopefully you've got a reliable gaming partner, as the one most noticeable trend in this top 5 is that 2011 was a fantastic year for 2-player games.

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There's been a lot of attention paid to the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War this summer, and Mayfair Games chose to commemorate the event with the release of Test of Fire: Bull Run 1861, designed by Martin Wallace. Wait, that Martin Wallace? Yes, Test of Fire's designer is a man well known for his European-style economic strategy games such as London and Automobile. Wallace represents one end of the "hardcore" gamer spectrum, with the other end consisting of American-style conflict simulations. So is Wallace turning over a new leaf, or has he played minister to an unexpected wedding of theme and mechanics? We put Test of Fire through its paces, so read on for the full review if you'd like to find out:

Just the Facts:

Players: 2
Playing Time: 45 minutes
Age:10 to adult
Publisher: Mayfair Games
MSRP: $30.00
Release: July 21st, 2011

The Gameplay:

Each player begins Test of Fire with a standard set of units arranged across pre-set locations on the map. The Union player gets 29 infantry, while the Confederate player gets only 24 infantry but holds the high ground. Both players each receive 2 artillery and 1 leader. The troops on the table are all that will ever enter the game, so the two sides must play to the finish with whatever strength is available to them.

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Two weeks ago, I reviewed Automobile, a recent Mayfair Games release from famed board game designer Martin Wallace. Since then, I've had the opportunity to play a few rounds of London, another game from Wallace published earlier this year. Both games have several common qualities: they are deeply strategic, have a strong historical theme, and contain some signature Wallace play mechanics. That's pretty much where the similarities end, though. London takes Wallace's style of gameplay in new directions as a card-driven game, but does it work? Read on for the full review.

Just the Facts:

Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 90 minutes
Age: 13 to adult
Publisher: Mayfair Games
MSRP: $55.00
Release: January 2011

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After a limited 2009 release, famed game designer Martin Wallace's Automobile has been picked up for wide distribution by Mayfair GamesAutomobile is a highly strategic economic game, though the subtitle "Wheels to Wealth" is a bit of a misnomer. As a manufacturer of cars in the early 1900's, you and your competitors will produce plenty of wheels over the course of this game's play, but the wealth is never guaranteed. The theme plays perfectly into such unforgiving economic gameplay, but how does Automobile stack up against other deeply strategic euro-style games? Read on for the full review:

Just the Facts:

Players: 2-5
Playing Time: 120 minutes
Age: 12 to adult
Publisher: Mayfair Games
MSRP: $50.00
Release: February 2011

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