Light family game that can be frustrating. Win or lose, the ending often feels more like a random race to see who will fill that last connection first. The production is quite nice, but I liked 10 Days in Africa a bit better.
The only multi-dimensional chess game that I like is Alice Chess, but I certainly haven't played all of them. Mark Thompson's Tetrahedral Chess with a pocket knight might be decent, as may be Matt Arnold's Hannibal.
Fairly luck-driven, because there aren't many long-term strategies that will help a player get ahead. But if you can count cards and have a good memory, it will work for you. Also, if you correctly bet early that a certain suit will be needed for scoring (that it will be on the bottom of the pile), it will turn into a big scoring advantage. Easy to teach to and play with kids.
Good selection of card games for kids, but many would be interesting for adults as well. The ten and under crowd of the depression era were apparently better able to grok rules and strategy than the kids of the early 21st century twitch generation. The period illustrations are delightful! Some of the games in this collection are to be found nowhere else, whether on Pagat, in the various "Hoyle" compilations, or even in the excellent books by David Parlett. Additionally, this is the earliest known reference for some of the games described in this book (Yukon and Twenty Nine come to mind). Menagerie, especially with the animal noises variant, might be a forerunner of Snorta.
A new type of multi-lap mancala game where the players select the pits from which they want to sow in a sente / gote order based upon who made the last capture. Then players then sow the seeds simultaneously in an away and back cycle, pausing to pick up seeds from pits as necessary to continue, until someone drops a seed into an empty pit, thus capturing whatever seeds remain in the other player's hand. Gote seems to have a slight advantage on any given round, but since the sowing can easily extend to a great many (perhaps more than 50) individual drops before an empty pit is reached, planning is very much a brain burner. Very innovative.
Nice two-player game about setting up a line of your color with a sort of switching mechanism. The theme doesn't drag it down, but it also doesn't add anything to it. Not yet played with more than 2 players.
I have played a couple times against the computer, but like many others, found it drawish. The "bowl" setup of having two separate groups of seven marbles in diagonally opposite corners makes for a better two-player game. I have yet to play with more than two players.
The tipping point is probably fairly early in the game, despite the apparent opacity. But it's got some interesting things going on. I'd need to play it a few more times to figure out a workable strategy.
Cool themed solo game that is not particularly easy to win. You have to get rid of the aces somehow, or they'll clog up the works. But you also need to figure out how to efficiently use your cards. You'll need to conserve to off the Huntress and Bard, but the other characters still get in the way, seemingly at inopportune times. Nice game!
I've played several times on SuperDuperGames, and also at home with an improvised set using cups and beads. It's not easy (for me) to plan ahead in this game, and the forced captures are unique among sowing games that I've played.
Rating based upon only 1 game with 6 players. I feel like Age of Empires III is a medium weight European style game with American influences rather than the other way around. Conflict can make a difference, particularly right before the area scoring on turns 6 and 8, but other than that, it's only a minor element. It didn't draw me in much as a game, though, and seemed a bit long for what it was. Someone far back, even last in the turn order and low on money and resources, can still play a competitive game, especially via the discovery cards. I was in such a position and ended the game in 2nd place, only 4 points behind the leader and more than 10 points ahead of 3rd place.
The game can be a bit long, and the combat mechanic (roll so many d6 and count up the number of 6s rolled) could be improved to decrease the down time between turns for players not involved in the combat. But despite that, the variety of cards available in the random decks and being able to control at least some aspect of your hand using the permanent deck increases the strategic possibilities. If you like long games with lots of dice rolling for combat, Age of Mythology is probably right up your alley. Personally, I don't feel the need to buy it, but I'll play if asked and I have time.
Unusual game about winning stacks, either by direct capture or via a prisoners' revolt. Note that the English rules at the above link are slightly incorrect. The central four squares are only two levels lower than the intermediate ring instead of three levels lower. Also, only a single piece or the top piece from a stack (never whole stacks) is allowed to move.
It's a good game, a solid 7 in that given the time, I would usually be willing to play. But it's not the best thing since sliced bread, and I'm unlikely to request it. I like the mechanics, especially how things escalate over the course of the game. But resetting the supplies after every round interrupts the flow of things.
I have a copy of the Zillions of Games implementation. It's not bad, in the same general line as Camelot, Traverse and Breakthrough. The winning condition of needing to cross over from your opponent's back row brings interest to the game.
Very good economic building game! I need to play this more often. In my limited experience, it's an excellent game with three players, but less interesting with more players, and not good at all with six.
Brain bending abstract placement game with plenty of opportunities for resource management and tricky plays. It has been favorably compared to Fresh Fish, but not yet having played the latter, I can't say more about it.
Good artwork and production values, but the flavor text is useless, distracting, and riddled with minor errors. This is certainly one game that would actually be BETTER as a pure abstract. Constantly checking both sides of cards behind the screens is fiddly in the extreme, and it's not really much of a game.
I still have a lot to learn about Amazons strategy. Unfortunately, the games I have played seemed to devolve into a game of pure tempo about half way through with perfect clarity for the rest of the game. Such an early tipping point with perfect clarity made for a dénouement that I didn't like so well.
Since Carrom comes with lots of games, it's hard to give it a single rating. Some of them are much better than others. We played many of them as a family when I was growing up, but many others were ignored completely. My copy is incomplete, so I would like to trade for some bits.
Before playing, be sure you're on a surface that the cardboard mesas won't slide around on, such as a tablecloth or a carpeted floor. I would have suggested this game be produced in vinyl rather than cardboard to prevent the sliding. There's a dexterity element that some might not like, but it adds to the game, I think. The push for treasure is constantly competing with the pressure to not leave your opponents with good moves. Unique and interesting. I'll definitely play again.
The first 50% of the game is peaceful expansion with a hope to grab early victory points by advancing your know how. The next 25% is running your economic engine game to crank up a war machine for the last 25%, which is about conquest. On the whole, I like the mechanics of the game, which can be summed up as follows. If you want to hurry up and use what you're getting right now, it will cost you a little extra to do so. But if you want to plod along more slowly, you can do so at lower cost, but you will miss out on good opportunities. That said, it's very important, especially early on, to go for gold to get as many know how victory cards as possible. Failure to do so will leave you with a large thriving empire, but few victory points for innovation. I thought this was somewhat against the theme of the game. I also question the idea that land troops should be able to attack ships and vice versa. But those are necessary abstractions for playability. That said, I really like that the turns are very fast, and it's relatively easy to plan ahead for what you want to accomplish.
It's a good diversion, and great to play with the older relatives who have vision problems. But with 5 players, there's slightly too much down time between turns and it's too hard for anyone to get a winning connection. The "rainbow optimized" artwork in the 2009 edition is beautiful!
It's not a broken game, but to use a cliche, the theme seemed "pasted on." I didn't think it was very much fun, either. Plenty of spills, but none of the promised thrills. There are many better racing games available, and enough better chariot racing games that I have no problem passing on this one.
After seeing the commercial sets, I prefer using a normal Chess set and some coins to mark the trap spaces. Chess pieces might not be as representative of the various animals, but they are a lot easier to distinguish at a glance. As for the game, it's a good game, but hard to play well. I can see that it would take quite a while to develop any meaningful long-term strategies.
Rating after a single game with seven players using the Dunwich Horror expansion. Not really as interesting a game as it sounds. There is high variety in the way the game plays out due to the different ancient ones that might appear, the different characters, and the many varied cards that might come into play. But the game still seems to generally take two main paths -- race around killing monsters and closing gates like crazy or (unless Azathoth is the threat) prepare to fight the ancient one by beefing up on offensive weaponry and huddling. With more than five players the game can take a very long time to play, approximately double the two to four hours listed on the box.
Rating after a single game with seven players (play recorded under the base game). The Dunwich Horror expansion did not come into play much in our game. Monsters and gates appeared there, but it seemed inconvenient to take the train up to Dunwich, so it seldom happened. Maybe the extra monsters, gates and other worlds help balance some inadequacies in the base game, but I haven't played the base game by itself to be able to tell.
Army Brats is a light set collecting game that would be excellent for introducing card players to the piecepack, or for use as a filler. But it's not likely to maintain long-term interest, especially with frequent plays.
Rating is based upon only one play. Aton is a pleasant but not outstanding two-player filler. The first start seemed slow, and the learning curve is steep, but the hill isn't very tall. After one or two turns, things moved very smoothly and quickly, and the ending was closer than I expected it to be. But despite it being a good game, with nothing really wrong with it, Aton didn't grab me as some other two-player games have.
There is a bit of a learning curve right at the start, but once that hump has been surmounted, the wipe-off tactical display cards and stacked altitude and attitude indicators are straightforward and easy to use. The print on some of the play aids is a bit small, in particular the distance plotting look-up table and the fuel indicators near the bottom of the ship status sheets. But plotting accelerations, movements and firing vectors is not hard at all, no more difficult than the comparable 2D game (Triplanetary) and far easier than some that use a similar 3D space (StarForce: Alpha Centauri). I've only played using beam weapons, but adding projectile weapons, gravity wells and other hazards should be only a minor stretch.
Adds a GREAT deal to the base game. Seems to play best with 3 or 4 on a single board or with 7 or 8 on a double board. The gap in the middle just doesn't feel like the right amount of interaction, and playing with four or less on the double board isn't very interesting. There can also be quite a bit of down time between turns, especially in a big game, so with more than 6, it might be worth trying to have two players take their turns simultaneously. After all, real life doesn't wait. That said, the theme is quite well done, and the dice battle mechanic is straightforward.
Wow. There's a lot going on in Australia. It has a delightfully unusual planning horizon, somewhere between tactical and strategic, and I like that a lot. While Australia is probably not the best for family gaming, as it would likely be frustrating to younger players, I can see this becoming popular among gamers.
Good unequal forces game for introducing non gamers to interesting games. Playing the crew clearly takes more thought, so I always want to. Good artwork, but production is somewhat sub-par by today's standards.
I didn't think that Axiom was nearly as much of a brain burner as I expected from others' comments. It does take a few moments to grok the scepter movement possibilities -- diagonally in a plane or over any number of edges in one orthogonal direction. The game is more tactical than strategic, and one of the best tactical plans is to try to minimize your opponent's movement choices.
This is one of the games played with the a Pacru set. It's more strategic and less tactical than one might expect from merely reading the rules, and if you get behind in both position and markers, you're probably on a slippery slope to losing. It's not as involved as Pacru, but there is much more to it than Lilicru or Shacru. One thing I didn't notice in my first game was that if you make a connection jump and change opposing fields to your own color, you must remove the chevron you jumped with. Connection moves (both changes & jumps), along with the power of movement to make them, are the key things that differentiate Azacru & Shacru.
My sister and I used to play frequently, and I also used to play against the computer quite a bit as well. Any more, I play only occasionally with my wife. Before 2002, Backgammon was probably my most frequently played game.
More to it than you might expect from first reading the rules. Bananagrams is a lot of fun, and a good family game. The speed pressure is certainly there, but it's not an overwhelming element until the very end.
Barrel of Monkeys is a fun, inexpensive dexterity game. I don't understand why it has such a low rating, because it's really quite fun, and not as easy or trivial as it seems on the surface. It's also a great game for equalizing play among players of widely differing ages.
I played this a ton as a kid, but didn't much care for it even then. My brother was the one who was into sports, and he always wanted to play this. Sometimes I agreed on the condition that he then play a game of my choosing.
Fun sporty press your luck game. The hand-off, pass, fumble and malfunction rules add quite a bit to the game, although it seems strange to be unable to complete a pass into the end zone. Nice pieces, but it takes up quite a bit of room to play.
It's a very good two-player filler game with bluffing and battle. I recently upgraded my rating for it based on some analysis that my sister and I did during several plays. But the non-reclosable packaging is horrible. What was Hasbro thinking?
OK, as far as themed trivia games go, but best with people of approximately equal knowledge. The "children's" questions are often too hard for some adults, but far too easy for others. The "adult's" questions range from easy to next to impossible.
I actually like this one slightly better than Monopoly. It doesn't drag on as long, and everyone gets to keep playing. However, it does lack some of the long-term strategic interest of Monopoly, and the way the theme is applied doesn't really make sense in the context.
Excellent party game if played in teams and people really ham it up when pitching their products. Still, it could definitely stand to be expanded (An Even Bigger Idea) to enhance replay value. Great value.
Interesting abstract game. In the first phase of the game, players are actively trying to capture one another's pieces while staying out of range of their opponents. Eventually, that gives way to a second phase where chasing down a few remaining opposing pieces necessitates putting your own pieces in jeopardy. A good memory helps, even though there are not that many pieces to remember.
I carefully watched a complete game between two new players, but did not, myself, actually play. Tactically, due to the frequency (about every two or three turns) and nature of displacement captures (the opposing hexagon that had an arrow removed is displaced to an unoccupied rotation space and re-oriented however the capturing player desires), the planning horizon is only two or three moves. This is on the low side for perfect information zero sum combinatorial games. As a result, the learning curve is soft, and new players will quickly grasp play. But despite this short planning horizon, there is some room for long term strategy, at least in a general sense, such as picking away at fast (the 4 & 5 arrow) opposing pieces, or positional control of the center (a 5 arrow piece on one of the corner rotation spaces commands 6 central spaces from relative safety), or trying to scatter opposing pieces so defense is more difficult and slowly picking away at them. There were a couple of rules ambiguities in the Rainbow Games edition. Is "jumping" over an opposing piece on a rotation space while changing directions allowed, and if so, are arrows in both directions removed? And what happens if a displacement capture is made while all 12 rotation spaces are occupied? Ergonomically, I think the game would be better if the non-rotation spaces were a single uniform color other than white (e.g., pale blue). It may also make sense to have only the arrows in the player colors, with the hex carriers themselves in some neutral color. Doing so might open up the game for possibility of adding a 3rd or 4th player, or even team play using hex carriers holding arrows in 2 colors. Finally, there was some initial fear that capturing 17 opposing arrows might lead to a post tipping point denouement, but in the game I observed, that was not the case. Fortunately, this game length has been tuned. If it did happen to become a problem, leaving dead carriers on the rotation spaces as blocking pieces (but only if they were identifiable) would likely restrict end game mobility of the losing player just enough to guide the game to a close.
Simple pass-the-time card game. We used to play nickel-ante 31 with my grandpa. I find that it's usually a winning strategy to immediately knock on an opening hand of 10 plus the number of players in the game.
An intense, but ultimately futile, brain burner for the blocking player. I'd weigh it as light medium for the runners and medium heavy for the blockers. Every game I've played, the runners have won. You can read more of my comments, including a few suggestions for improving the game, here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/28060
Probably best for 2 players, a light dexterity game that takes neither much thought nor much dexterity. We usually play that one player chooses the piece the next player has to place. Try Bausack for a different reworking of the concept.
Rumis is not at all like a cross between Blokus and Pueblo as many have claimed, even though all three games share geometric block pieces. In Pueblo all the pieces are the same shape, and in Blokus you have to connect by a corner (never a face) in two dimensions, whereas in Rumis you have to connect by a face (never just an edge or corner) in three dimensions. My wife loves it (she usually beats me), and other than Quintillions (three-dimensional Quintominos), it's the game most like a three-dimensional Tetris that I've seen.
Planning is tricky, and you have to balance saving certain small pieces for the end game (so you'll be able to play them at all) with blocking out space for pieces with larger surface areas (which tend to score higher). I think it's a good multi-player abstract, and in four-player games, the scores are usually fairly close.
An alternative scoring method could be to total the number of squares visible from all five visible directions and subtract the number of cubes in the remaining pieces.
It's much more difficult to get rid of all your pieces in Travel Blokus than it is in Blokus (especially with three or four players in the parent game). But tactics seem much more effective and varied in the two-player edition.
So far, not as interesting as the other two editions (Blokus and Travel Blokus), even with three players. The geometry does call for different ways of thinking, but the general strategy of playing most of the big pieces as early as possible still works.
Really needs at least 3 players to make trading work well, and is even better with more players. It's a riot for big family gatherings on the farm. I have not tried the 2 player variant, but suspect it wouldn't work as well. I'm a fairly generous trader, and I like playing with like-minded people. It's less fun when one person drags things down.
Very fiddly, and definitely best with 5 or 6 players, but the theme is immersive and the player interaction is high, even with only 3 players. There are also plenty of agonizing decisions when the Men of Action cards come up for bid and when deciding where to truck your hooch. With a full board of 5 or 6 players, diplomacy and temporary alliances can turn this into a monster of a game. Bliss.
Several have complained about the earliest edition's lack of double influence cards and short cash supply. I don't think the double influence cards add much to the play, but having the total amount of money in the economy be a limited resource is very thematic, and enhances play in my experience. If you can't pay your drivers, they just go without. If the speakeasy can't pay for the liquor they already drank, then tough! You go without.
Light trick taking filler that feels a bit like a twisted version of Hearts with a sort of climbing mechanism thrown in. The mechanics fit the theme rather well, but the tactics are pretty straightforward.
The intentionally distracting colors and board pattern actually contribute to the playability of this game. It should be easily solvable since it's just a 2.5-dimensional tic-tac-toe, and the first player should be able to at least force a draw. But it's a fun game to play late at night in a state of weariness where mistakes happen.
I've played several times, and it's decent, if a bit slow. The first player to initiate a series of captures generally gets a tactical disadvantage, so it's often best to simply reinforce and slowly march forward. For a much better game along the same lines, try Cannon.
I traded for my copy. A well-made Tafl set with an interesting change. Pieces still move like non-displacing rooks. But in Breakthru, each player may either capture one piece (via replacement one space diagonally rather than the usual custodial capture), move the flagship (flagship player only, and yes, the flagship may capture or be captured) or move TWO small pieces. The fact that both players set up their own pieces pretty much as they wish helps to balance the problems with other forms of Tafl such as Tablut.
I played this quite a bit in the late 1970s or early 1980s, but it went up in smoke with the house in the 1990s. A series of light games, some might consider this a forerunner to other sets of themed games like Rome.
I like Buccaneer well enough, but there can be some long delays between turns due to analysis paralysis. Fortunately, the game is not long, and there are some interesting decisions to make. I'd gladly play again.
I made a Bushi Shogi set several years ago. Sure, it's one of those games that can easily succumb to computer analysis, but I choose not to memorize the solutions. The game can be expanded by varying the layouts of the cubes, and possibly including some left-handed samurai.
Fun and fast-playing word game, but there's usually not a lot of player interaction. The paper money is a bit cumbersome, and might be better with poker chips due to the large amount of buying and selling. Also, my copy came with several tiles stuck together from the varnish coating (easily popped apart), and was missing the Q tile. I wrote to Face-2-Face about it, and they quickly sent a replacement. Good service!
I've played a few games now, and this is quite a deep game. I'm struggling to figure out what tactics might help. Tempo is very important, and controlling the bottoms of the stacks (movement) is as well, but having a few of your own checkers in a stack at the top of a tower is very helpful when it comes to capturing towers to score.
Here's the text of what I wrote on the BGDF, with minor edits:
I've played a few enjoyable games of Byte over on Super Duper Games, but it can be played with only a Checkers set.
So far, long-term strategic planning has eluded me. Some players have said that it's generally important to control the mobility of towers (the bottom piece), but I can't help but believe that since the top piece ultimately decides who scores for a tower, that controlling the tops would be any less important. Unfortunately, trying to control both ends uses up so many pieces that it's then difficult to be flexible in the middle of the towers (several of your own pieces in a continuous internal stack), which is very useful when deciding where to split them when towers are combined. Balancing these three general strategic factors makes for, as Mark [Steere] put it, a very broad movement tree.
But on a more tactical level, Byte is mainly about tempo, parity and position, with a bit of resource management thrown in. The game is driven forward by two requirements. First, adjacent towers must necessarily combine to form ever taller towers (to a maximum height of eight, when that tower is removed and scored), even if combining towers according to the rules is a disadvantage for the moving player. Second, non-adjacent towers must move ever closer to their nearest neighbor (there may be a choice), even if moving closer is a disadvantage for the moving player. Being able to control when a tower gets moved adjacent to another tower (tempo) requires control of the bottom pieces. Being able to control what splits and combinations will be available once any two towers become adjacent (parity) requires control of the interior of the towers.
From the beginning of the game, the movements of shorter (one- and two-piece towers) establishes the distances between the larger towers as they form (position, tempo) and their sizes and orders (parity, position). But as towers of eight are formed, scored and then removed, the relative distribution of pieces still on the board changes, which may limit the choices one player has more than those of the other (resources).
Anyway, after only a few plays, I think Byte is a good new game that takes some of the concepts from earlier column games (e.g., Bashne, Focus, Emergo) in a different direction. The rules are easy to learn, and the learning curve for tactics isn't too difficult to climb. But long-term strategy seems like a monster, at least to me.
And finally, a bit of endgame analysis based on non-optimal play:
A preliminary analysis of not necessarily optimal play -- if player two adopts a strategy of symmetrical play about the center point and player one maintains this symmetry by deliberately not moving any stacks across the center point until the very end of the game, there are only eight possible endgame positions. In each case, there are stacks of four on each of the two central squares, d5 and e4, and it's player one's turn to move. The eight cases and results are:
1111 / 2222 -- A win for player 1 1112 / 2221 -- A win for player 1 1121 / 2212 -- A win for player 1 1122 / 2211 -- A win for player 1 1211 / 2122 -- A win for player 1 1212 / 2121 -- A win for player 2 1221 / 2112 -- A win for player 1 1222 / 2111 -- A win for player 2
Assuming these results for non-optimal play are at least in some correlation to what they would be for optimal play, this indicates an approximately 75% first player advantage. Or, stated another way, player one has an approximately 25% chance of getting into zugzwang. Of course, this analysis is far from complete.
The fight for the central 15 point space is a battle of tempo and maneuvering. If you lose the 15, you will almost certainly lose the game. Assigning the central space a value of 12 instead can moderate that effect somewhat, but still be sure to try for at least one secure double column in the 10 ring.
One of the toughest and most tactical flicking games I can think of. Doing well depends a lot upon getting your cubes into the building sites, even if some pyramids never get built. Lucky die rolls to recover cubes for an extra turn can swing the game. But it's short and fun. Probably better with more players.
It's a light family game that plays quickly, and for the right group, it's just great. Yes, the theme is pushing it a bit, and people looking for something heavier will be disappointed, but that doesn't make California a bad game. I'll gladly play and would probably suggest it again. It feels like it would probably be best with 3 or 4 players.
I traded for my copy, and I must say I'm very happy I did. It's a compelling little three-in-a-row game with some unique tactics, well packaged and functional. One tactic that brings down its rating slightly is that the wild piece is too powerful. Holding it back until you have two pieces in a row seems like an almost unstoppable advantage for the first player. I would recommend trying it as a double blocker or as a wild only when flipped in place.
One of the orginal Parker games, Camelot is still one of the best. Tactical right from the first move. I've also played some Camelot variants designed by World Camelot Federation President Mike Nolan, including Tri-Camelot.
You know, now that we have kids, I have to think about ways I can get them involved in gaming at an early age. With Candyland, there's no reading required and anyone can win. Sure, there's absolutely no strategy involved, but that's not the point. The point is spending quality time with the youngest kids. For that alone, Candyland fits the bill. But for a more interesting game for adults, try this: Instead of drawing only one card and moving to the next matching colored square, every player starts with a hand of three cards from which s/he may choose, moving either backward or forward as s/he wishes, and after which s/he draws a replacement card. Landing on an opponent sends his/her token back to the next-most-recent "special area."
Just when you think you've seen all there is to see in the world of abstract games, along comes something like Cannon. Arranging your pieces into several cannons at once is a good way to defend your own city. But the object of the game is to take your opponent's city, which means exposing your precious men to enemy artillery. Well balanced and delightfully tense.
Not as good as the original series. Paths are the only thing that really matters when matching up sides, which is confusing at first, but then seems to make the game a bit ho-hum. Cutting off your opponent and making sure to finish your buildings is important.
I played the base game once and really enjoyed it. For the river expansion, I recommend having a variable length river by starting with the spring and including the lake in the draw pile. Also, I recommend not allowing farmers be placed while building the river.
Interesting game about shoving tea (and others) around. After only one play with two players, it seems better suited for more players, but I'd certainly give it another go. I wasn't terribly impressed by the Wingnut production values.
Good game of bluff, manoeuvre, second guessing your opponents and manipulation. I like that there are so many possibilities on your turn, and that even if something goes wrong early in a round, it doesn't necessarily mean all is lost. With two players, the game can be a real brain burner and tight right to the end. In some ways, it feels a bit like Diplomacy might if there were no conferences or player elimination. I also like the style of the board.
It's a bit of a crossover between wargames and board games -- shorter than most wargames at about 40 minutes per game. As is typical for wargames, momentum plays a big part, and coming from behind is very difficult. There are some interesting ideas here, and I would recommend it. The bits are nice, especially for a desktop publishing effort, and I look forward to playing it again.
The balanced die rolls bring some predictability to the end of the deck, and it definitely feels different to play knowing that all the rolls will come up in their fixed distributions. The events shake things back up a little, but not too much. I think the deck is different, but not essential to the game.
Traders & Barbarians offers more paths to victory than vanilla Settlers of Catan, and seems like it should keep things closer until someone is able to make a final surge for the win. But the game lasts a bit longer.
An interesting territorial abstract, closely related to "Omino" style Go. I used to have a polystone set that I traded for another game, but I recently purchased a wooden travel set with magnetic pieces.
Decent impulse racing game for the piecepack. When it first came out, there was some discussion about adding lots of other elements, like wagering and horse management. But I think those would slow down the game more than they would add.
This is one of my all-time favorites! After 20 years with this fine game, I'm still happy to play any time I have a willing opponent. Joao Neto and I wrote an article about Chase analysis for Abstract Games Magazine a few years ago. I would refer you to that for tactical tips. I would like to get a second copy to use as a tournament prize.
My wife and I play checkers (and its variants) fairly often. A very aggressive variant that my wife introduced to me is that you are allowed to jump your own piece or pieces without capture as a way to quickly get across the board, to capture another piece, or to advance as a double wall in one direction.
I'll play when I'm in the mood, but I prefer small board and weak piece variants to the standard FIDE version. Until they have their own BGG entries, I'm also keeping track of plays for the following variants here: Caïssa, Extra Move Chess, Promotions & Demotions.
Trick taking card game related to a combination of Oh Hell, Xactika and Abbot's game, Variety. The players have less control over what happens than in some other trick taking games, but not necessarily in a bad way. Probably best with three players, but in my opinion, not as good as Hermit.
I used to own a copy of this and played fairly often with my younger siblings. Due to the symmetry of the pieces, it's slightly less complex than similar games played with pigs (Pass the Pigs / Pig Mania), but no less enjoyable.
I've played Chicken Foot dominoes many times, althought any specific publisher claiming to be "the one & only official" version and to "beware of knock-off brands" with respect to a folk game is kidding itself.
Since this is actually a collection of several games, it's hard to give it a single rating. Many of them are excellent, but some I have never played. Unfortunately, I had difficulty finding people who wanted to play, I traded my copy away.
Provisional rating based upon only one play of the two player game. I like the principle of the game, and the addition of the well (vulnerable to the leaf, but aggressive toward both the rock and scissors) made for some thoughtful asymmetric play. One of the principles of war (mass) is easily seen in this game. If you can gain and effectively employ superior numbers, you can win. If you have equal numbers, you may end up pursuing your opponent for a long time until one of you makes an error.
I should qualify that. My rating of 8 is for the version where symmetrical long jumps are employed. (Apparently popular in France?) If played with the standard short jump, my rating for it would be 6 since it just draws out the game and is much less tactically interesting. Without a patch to force an opponent out of the starting area, the game is clearly broken, rating of 1. The patch I prefer is forced forward jumps over opposing pieces that are within or adjacent to the starting zone, but other valid rules would be that any filled starting area after the first turn be declared a win (no matter whose pieces fill it, but this can still result in an impenetrable fortress), or all starting pieces must vacate by, say, 40 moves.)
This was the hit of Protospiel 2006 for me. Lots of laughs and "friendly" competition. I've played several times since then with friends and family, and it's still at the top of my list for quick dexterity games. The plastic chopsticks from the Mayday edition are very slippery and therefore a lot more challenging than standard chopsticks, and the onigiri are not easy to pick up in any case.
I'm not a fan of this one, but I recognize its depth and importance, especially with the Lion pieces. I played a few times several years ago, and haven't recently, but would if someone wanted to and I had the time.
You get to re-roll 5 - (b + 1) dice on each turn, so it's kind of like Yahtzee, but without scoring categories. In this instance, b = however many dice you've "banked" for the future. The idea is to get high or low totals, which get fixed points from one to ten that are then multiplied by the hi-lo die value. Not bad for an easy game to play while doing something else.
The components are very nice and solid, and the game is easy to learn and play. However, the last couple of players seem to have a lot more influence over the outcome than they should. This probably sounds over-critical, but the game was enjoyable. I may be willing to trade for a copy.
On the surface, it's a fairly simple press-your-luck game that even young children can enjoy. With a group of teens or adults, it has some bluffing (and with 5 or 6 players memory) elements that raise its interest level. It's the sort of game that would appeal to the mass market, if only OTB sold through those channels. I was a bit disappointed to hear that there is a sort of pass-the-buck on the piloting job card in the German edition that didn't make it into the US version. I'm not sure how much that would add to the play, but dumbing things down for the only reason of dumbing things down seems self-defeating.
The default game is not as interesting with three as it is with more players, especially with six. On the other hand, it's also not very interesting to keep having to move around outside of rooms, roll and move, ho hum. Lots of down time. Playing with two dice (as in newer editions -- or even something like 3d12) helps reduce the down time. Playing by my "Scaled Clue" rules can improve the game for fewer numbers of players. That said, I think Clue is an underrated game and gets shafted because it's so widely available. It's a good deduction game with a strong psychology element, and the player interaction can be quite high at times. Give it another go!
Very good game with a somewhat steep, but still relatively short, learning curve. Not having played the Settlers of Catan Card Game, I'm at a loss to compare the two. But even so, this game stands on its own just fine, and I'm happy to play it. My only niggle as of this writing is that I'm not sure how the number of unguarded resources threshold required for the raiders event (6) was set. That event got rolled on the event dice several times, but it was never applicable in our game. I might suggest a lower number, but that would need to be tested to make sure it doesn't make the game too long.
We had the MB version with the scrolling clues behind the window that we used to play, probably in the late 1970s. The clues varied greatly in difficulty, and at the time, my parents were better at getting the clues than us kids. It was great fun, but I could seldom get others to play with me.
High-powered Xiang-Qi variant with an animal theme. The pieces are a bit too powerful, in my opinion, and that is probably a reflection on the age of the designer at the time. But it's certainly a playable game.
When I was a kid, I used to play this with my dog. Sometimes the dog would win. Now I mainly play with my kids, and am happy to do so. Unfortunately, there's no good way to fit that sentiment into one of the standard ratings. If it's just me and another adult, I'd give it a 5. But with my daughter, who is always eager to play, I'd give it a 7 or even an 8. So it gets a 7.
Has anyone tried some variants on the standard game, such as miseré (play NOT to get four in a row and try to force your opponent to do so) or neutral (players choose what color piece to play each turn, the first to complete the four in a row wins, no matter what color played to it)?
Recently, I've been playing the Historygamer.com variant, which plays until all 42 spaces are filled, then score 3*1=3 points for each 3 in a row, 4*2=8 points for each 4 in a row, 5*3=15 points for each 5 in a row, 6*4=24 points for each 6 in a row and 7*5=35 points for each 7 in a row. This has been very refreshing, and I recommend you at least give it a try.
It's interesting enough, but a shotgun strategy of trying to set up diagonal pairs, and then letting threes and fours appear seems to be more effective than it should be. Attack the game at its weakness, long term clarity.
A fine treatise on the topic. Even though it's only been out for a few years, there are already tons more games he could add. I hope a 2nd edition, or perhaps a supplementary volume is eventually made.
I pre-ordered a copy, but it didn't arrive until late January 2008 (nearly two months after most people who pre-ordered got their copies), and my copy didn't have the plastic containers until late June 2008
Meanwhile, I really like the game, and would probably only turn it down if time was short. It's a subtle economic engine game that looks like it moves slowly (albeit with fairly fast turns), but I think there's some real strategic depth here in figuring out how to get the high point value containers onto your section of the island without selling too cheaply from your factory and harbor stores or incurring too much debt. I also think it would be a good game to use as a longer (two hour) gateway game as a replacement for Monopoly. For this, I think Container might even be a better fit than Acquire. Great game!
While it's easy enough to play by children, it's frustrating to continually have to keep rolling, rolling, rolling, trying to match the number needed for the next body part. This high frustration factor makes Cootie a poor choice for kids.
Anyway, the game begins with conservative placement, and then proceeds in "ka-chunk" steps until close to the end. The goal for the mid game is to get a slight lead in material that will be hard to overcome in the endgame. If the endgame is very close, it's almost certainly solvable by simple brute force analysis.
The solitaire puzzle is quite difficult, and the artwork is compelling. The game presented with it is less interesting (something like Crazy 8s), but OK for a light evening activity with 3 or 4 people. With 2 there are too many choices, and with 5 or 6 there are too few.
Not many decisions to make in this one, other than where to race, hop, spin or crawl to next. But it's great fun for play with a group of kids, so rating for the intended audience, it gets pretty high marks.
Whenever I visit the Canadian side of the family, the Crokinole boards come out. Excellent flicking fun!
I have a cheap Mad Hatter board that I ordered from Amazon.com. The surface is imitation wood, but it's smooth and even. The disks from my copy are good, and overall it's a decent value, but the plastic pegs are pretty flimsy. I'm tempted to replace them with padded screws right away. For anyone with a bigger budget, I'd really recommend getting a nice board from the start, but for $30 and a few metal screws, the Amazon board is great for the gamer on a budget. I also have a Carrom board with a Crokinole board on the back, but it's not nearly as nice to play on as a regular board.
3/18/2013 update: I got a copy of the Mayday Cherry 4th edition board, along with white, red, green and blue sets of extra disks. I like it quite a bit.
The description above is not quite accurate. Dameo is a high-powered Turkish Checkers type game that also adds linear movement (from Bob Abbott's Epaminondas / Crossings). I really like this one, and it can be played on a Chess board with either Poker chips or a double or Continental Checkers set. Its only flaw is that the end game is a draw if it's one-on-one kings, but that's true for almost all Checkers games.
Interesting little dice game with a minor bluffing aspect. You try to make certain combinations of dice values to perform the highest scoring dances to avoid being eliminated from a dance contest. One of the first games from a "gamer's game" company to potentially appeal to the American mass market. I wish games like this could make it into the big box stores.
As it is, the game is almost certainly a forced draw, and thus broken, except for the uninitiated. But perhaps it could be fixed? One possibility would be to give each player an initial number of chips (say, 3) that could be used to strategically stop a piece before it hits a wall or another piece. With some tweaking, my rating for Dao may improve.
Rating based on two plays, so far. Initially, there seems to be little to gain by actively attacking your opponent's formations, because such plays only sometimes contribute to your own formations. If both players use a purely defensive strategy, neither will gain very many points, but their mutual blocks will minimize scoring overall. Conversely, if both players use a purely offensive strategy, scores may be very high, and the difficulty of recognizing and scoring every formation made on a given placement may overwhelm the territorial aspect of the game. In my first game with my wife, we both played for offense, and she won 920 to 910 because I overlooked a Star formation early in the game. In my second game with a friend, we both played more balanced offense and defense, and I still lost 195 to 202. We'll see how things go with further play. Symmetrical play by the 2nd player can force, at worst, a draw, and possibly a win if the 2nd player happens to notice a scoring arrangement that the 1st player missed. To make it playable, have the 1st player play 3 pieces of each color in unconnected, non-symmetrical places on the board and then the 2nd player chooses which color to play.
This is a great way to put a little strategy back into die rolling games, and more convenient than a stripped down set of double six dominos. Try playing Monopoly with a two card hand, or backgammon, or Settlers of Catan -- it changes the flavor. I don't own a copy, but may be willing to trade for one.
I play tested this one a few times, and now play on Super Duper Games. There are fairly straighforward ways to determine exactly where all of the opposing mines are, and the game is a race to expose them.
This Knizia book would have been great had it been published circa 1975. But many, many different and different types of dice games have been devised since then, all of which are completely ignored in this text. A major update, or possibly even a second volume is needed if Knizia wants to give dice games a fair treatment.
I've played Diplomacy a few times, and while it's an excellent game, it takes a lot of time, and it's rare to find exactly seven players (it's really best for exactly seven) who all have the time and inclination to play. I successfully traded for my copy with another BGG member. Yay!
Based upon the misguided cultural opinion that sexuality is somehow "bad" or "dirty," this game tries to make the players think of "clean" answers (meaning anything outside the realm of sexuality, even if it's really something truly bad, like crime) using (generally poorly written) clues that emphasize sexually suggestive terms, even (sometimes especially) at the expense of accurately describing the "correct" answers. The board with it's roll and move nonsense doesn't add anything to the game. Why include two dice unless to artificially increase the cost? In fact, with lose a turn spaces and so on, the board detracts from the already poor game play. And why booklets instead of another set of cards with the the clues? These were poor ergonomic design decisions, but I guess I should expect as much. Truly awful mass market tripe that's probably only interesting to frustrated pubescent teens of the lowest level.
Traversal game -- the way pieces move forwards and sideways by rotating about one end is a nice departure from typical point-to-point movement. Recommended for that alone. However, the game does suffer from an impenetrable defense strategy, that can lead to forced draws. The author updated the rules to declare repetition a loss, thus the impenetrable defense won't work.
Since there are lots of games that can be played with them, it's hard to give this a single rating. Most of the draw and match type games tend to be mostly luck-driven with very obvious tactics that mostly involve sorting. This isn't necessarily bad, just so long as the people playing want that kind of game. The trick-taking games are interesting, but I can rarely find people who want to play. Using dominos instead of dice can also be interesting.
Unusual tactical economics game with a minor war game element. It's not an every weekend kind of game for me, but it's good occasionally. Down time can become a problem if people spend too much time analyzing their possibilities, because there's not much to do on other players' turns besides occasionally collect money. Probably better with two than with four.
Very light filler with only two types of decisions to make (stay in or drop out and (only if staying in) flip a card from the deck or play a card from your hand). The optimum choices are, unfortunately, usually obvious. Cloud 9 has a similar feel.
If you're looking for a heavy and mean strategy game, you'll have to look elsewhere. But Dragonland is a usually friendly family game with some potential to mess with the other players (summoning king dragons out from under them, magic handing the treasure they wanted, trying to block a path with two of your pieces in a row, etc.). I liked it, but not quite as much as Sunken City, which for me has a similar feel in a different theme.
At the core, it's a roll and move set collecting game, except that you can use "tickets" to travel longer distances than by rolling the die. Needing to roll exactly in the end game, both to land on the Isle of Dragons (not a blue path, so apparently the sea voyage tickets can't be used) and the Dragon's Eye space is a catch-up mechanism, suitable for play with kids, but adults will probably want to allow the use of tickets to get to these spots. Also, making the Isle of Dragons a safe spot (no more Hypnotizing, Swooping or Snatching) is really only for play with kids, and making it a normal space probably improves play for adults. Even so, it's *still* a roll and move set collecting game, and getting the sets takes longer than feels welcome.
The first time I played it, I was at somewhat of a loss for what to do, but I soon caught on. The key to winning seems to be calculating the possible paths to your opponent's key space, and trying to defend the stopping points along that path with your other pieces. It's an interestingly tactical abstract that I'll be happy to play again.
It's not a terrible game, and there are some decisions to be made right from the start, including what type of character to play and which path (and therefore what risks) to take. But ultimately, it comes down to rolling the dice and looking up the result. One of (if not the) most successful strategies seems to be for stronger characters to clear out the easier rooms to force the weaker characters deeper into the dungeon than they ought to go, then to stalk one of those weaker characters with the idea of stealing all the treasure that gets left behind when (not if) he eventually gets wounded or killed. As with the old PC game Wizardry, I don't understand the idea behind a player getting teleported to the surface for being killed (or here, even if only wounded). The weaker character types only really have a chance in a fast two (or maybe three) player game where there's probably enough treasure on the first two levels for someone to reach the goal and escape alive, and such a game seems like little more than a race.
After playing, it felt like a bit of a let-down from what I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, it's a good game, but not something that hit me as something I'd want to play again. That alone is probably reason enough that I *should* try to play it again.
I like the 15 Puzzle and games that exploit its properties. Easy Sliders has a slush row that makes solving the game a guarantee, but doing so efficiently while others are also solving their own puzzles -- now there's a trick. It's a game that can be played by any number, just like Bingo or multiplex Take It Easy.