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What game did you not see coming but turned out to be a great game?
Mine was 1812: The Invasion of Canada. Yes, I like hex games, and my son is definitely more facile with card-driven games, but this turned out to be a great gaming experience. When I first saw it, I couldn't figure out what the designers were thinking about making a 2-5 player game. But the cooperative-competitive nature of the game has made for fun gaming with our less game-enthusiastic family, who are more comfortable playing with a little friendly advice. The sound of my wife laughing maniacally as she rolls an attack was a hoot.
What game have you been pleasantly surprised by?