list | lg gallery | sm gallery
Search
Filters »    Columns »    Views »   
User: Fawkes: Board Game Collection
Download board games: (all | owned) |    | Current Filters: comment=yes [X] rated=yes [X]
1 to 271 of 271   Page 1. 1
Title Version User
Rating
Geek Rating Status User
Plays
Comment
9
Nov 2005*
7.349
Wishlist(1)
 (Must have)
Plays: 1
[Stock Market Manipulation, Economic, Train/Rail] {6P:9, 5P:8, 4P:7} Deterministic, maddening, exhiliarating, scheming. 1830 is a quintessential asset manipulation game, going beyond the train game theme and into financial gymnastics. While it's all about buying stock in companies, and occasionally being a railroad operator, this game is about making the most money for yourself regardless of how your companies and trains do. Those who regard corporate ethics as sacrosanct will balk at the strategies and tactics one should use to his advantage, but in the end, the game is FUN. Every serious gamer should try this game at least twice. Highly recommended.
2005-11-17*
6-Tage Rennen (1986)
4
Oct 2004*
5.829
Not as good as Homas Tour. Get that instead.
2004-10-02*
Acquire (1962)
6
Aug 2005*
7.255
Plays: 1
The Sackson stock-taking wonder from 1962. Has some luck in the tile draw, but it's mitigated by having a hand of six tiles. Besides, who knows when your seemingly useless tiles will become important later on? 5 or 6 players for more fun and chaos, 3 or 4 for more a more thoughtful, controlled game. In any case, still a pretty good game.
2005-08-15*
Age of Steam (2002)
5
Sep 2005*
7.508
[Trains, Pick up and deliver, Track-laying, Special powers] [6P:4, 5P:5, 4P:6] Good game with a simple economic system compared to the usual 18XX. Limited action angst is present. Not a lot of ways to screw thy neighbor. Unforgiving in the economic facet; it's not hard to drive your company into bankruptcy. Six too crowded for the map, seems like four or five is best number of players. *** UPDATE: The random goods placement weakens a pretty good entry-class rails game. It's still a decent game, and I'll gladly play, but I'd never suggest AoS over 1830, despite the potential play time savings. *** UPDATE: Okay, really hate the random goods placement, and since that's essentially what drives your income, it turns this game into something more about getting lucky and less about playing well. Knocked down from 7 to 6. *** UPDATE: Knocked down again due to the annoying departures from the theme. Why am I going around the countryside to deliver something to the city next door? And who's the moron paying me to do this? I really prefer 1830, which makes so much more sense. I think it'll be a while until I play this again, if ever. Maybe the upcoming Railroad Tycoon redevelopment will be the Power Grid to the Funkenschlag that is Aos (i.e., it needs a bit more development). Yeah, the Wallace fans are free to disagree. *** UPDATE: RRT doesn't fix the "more links=more income" problem with the original AoS, so that's out the window. Bleh.
2005-09-25*
Alhambra (2003)
3
Aug 2005*
6.970
Plays: 1
[Set Collection] This SdJ winner is a very dry set-collection game, with a minimum of player interaction. It's also hopelessly random: random money, random tiles to bid on (the combination of which grants effectively random extra turns) and random timing of the scoring rounds. Guess what determines who wins in Alhambra? Ding! The extra turns! That last bit makes this a BAD GAME, a breath away from being broken. I don't see what the accolades are all about. It tries to be Princes of Florence, but lacks the balance granted by the bidding, has almost no control, is without the strategy and depth, and has little player interaction beyond swiping what someone would want, the ability of which is, yep, random. Yuck. ***UPDATE: Well, played my first game of Alhambra F2F and what do you know, it's as boring as it is on BSW. With the extra fiddling with the money and tiles and all, I'd dock it another half-point if its rating wasn't already so dismal. This just goes to show that I can use the SdJ award to determine what games to NOT buy (with the exception of a single aberration in 2000 - the magnificent Torres). Even as family games go, you can do much, much better than Alhambra.
2005-08-29*
Amun-Re (2003)
8
Aug 2005*
7.203
Owned
Plays: 5
[Auction/Action, Investment, Economic, Egyptian] {5P:10, 4P:6, 3P:4} Yet another Knizia design with mindbending gameplay and scoring. This time, players are Pharoahs, and work to build great pyramids and offer great sacrifices to the sun god Amun-Re. The theme isn't as well-integrated as it is in Euphrat & Tigris, but it still works well with the support of the excellent Hans im Gluck production. It follows an auction/action format similar to The Princes of Florence, with a couple of interesting twists. Amun-Re is less accessible than Euphrat & Tigris, but it grows on you with every play. *** UPDATE: Not as mindbending as I initially believed (see Taj Mahal and Modern Art for that) but still an excellent resource management and planning game. Stays a nine at the moment, though I doubt that it'll be a ten... *** UPDATE: Finally settled on an '8' for Amun-Re. It's a great game, one that I'll gladly play anytime, anywhere, but as far as auction/action goes it's a notch behind PoF, which remains the king of its game format on the strength of elegance and theme.
2005-08-15*
3
Apr 2006*
5.989
[Party Game] I don't see what it is about the game, unless you all share a cockeyed sense of humor and are ok with someone judging it. Attribut is a game along the same lines but done much better than this. *** UPDATE: What I dislike about Apples to Apples is the arbitrary nature of the awarding of points. In good party games, there is an objectivity that keeps the game fair but maintains the lightness and humour. As mentioned before, Attribute (English edition) is significantly superior in execution and gameplay to Apples to Apples. It may be slightly more difficult to explain, but the dividends are greater.
2006-04-06*
3
Mar 2005*
5.487
Owned
Arcadia was an attempt by White Wolf to develop an infinitely replayable role-playing game cum collectible cardgame. While admirable in concept, Arcadia was hampered by the collectibility aspect. It was difficult to construct a credible adventure with one or two decks, and many of the cards were interdependent. The game ran on a simple dicerolls made against characters' attributes in order to overcome obstacles played by the opponent, sort of like ICE's vastly superior Middle Earth CCG. Arcadia is now just another relic in the vast 1990s CCG graveyard.
2005-03-08*
Arena Maximus (2003)
5
Aug 2005*
5.742
Plays: 1
Why do many racing games feel like molasses when you play them? Arena Maximus, to be fair, was fun, especially when players beat up on ech other. However, the more the players interact, the slower the whole thing gets. Will reevaluate after a few more plays, but considering that it already takes too much time for a light game, we usually end up playing something heavier in the same timeframe.
2005-08-28*
Atlantic Star (2001)
4
Mar 2006*
6.484
Better than Alhambra, but that's not saying much. Tolerable with the minimum complement of players (3P), but any more than that and the randomness will probably get to me.
2006-03-25*
Attack Sub (1991)
4
Oct 2004*
5.854
Plays: 1
A simpler variation on the Up Front engine. Players control "sides" composed of ships and subs. Card play is similar to Up Front - players either play cards on each of their units, or discard then refill their hands. The contact/closing rules are counter-intuitive, and I'm not enamored of the play board for each of the units. Might be the theme? Seemed to be much less tension than Up Front, probably because most of the game revolves around making contact and getting out of contact with the enemy, rather than simply shooting the heck out of them or maneuvering in terrain. There also seem to be a lot less options. I'm sure that the comparison with Up Front is coloring my view here, but it is what it is. Will update rating after further play, but not a priority.
2004-10-18*
Attika (2003)
4
Nov 2004*
6.854
Plays: 1
Interesting tile-laying / building game. Resource management factor is only hamstrung by the luck of the tile-draw. Can be improved by turning up the top tiles of each stack, so each player can plan ahead a bit more (along with the use of the player board). *** UPDATE: The randomness of the tile and card draws killed this game for me. If you're keeping count: Random city tile draws, random land tile draws, random resource card draws, and if playing with more than 2P, the player interaction usually won't go to equilibrium unless you're playing with experienced, rational people. Attika is not a horrible game, but I can't take it seriously.
2004-11-16*
Attribute (2002)
9
Jul 2006*
6.052
Owned
[Word association] [4P+: 9] Pretty good party game, played for laughs. I like it much better than the overrated Apples to Apples. Players have a hand of adjective cards, and are dealt a sheep card. Green sheep tells you that you want to match an adjective to the "noun of the round". Black sheep tells you that you DON'T want to match it. The start player gives a "noun of the round". Players toss their adjectives onto the table simultaneously, then grab one that they think matches the "noun of the round". If you're slow, you miss out. Sheep are then revealed. If you have a green sheep and someone took your card you score a point. If you have a black sheep and someone took your card you lose a point. If you took a card that someone with a green sheep played you earn a point. If you took a card that someone with a black sheep played you lose a point. If you didn't take a card, you gain nothing but lose nothing. Attribute is fun because you can be creative with your noun of the round. Sometimes, your cards force you to be creative. All in all, not bad for a 30-minute filler. *** UPDATE: Talk about underestimation. Attribute is one of the best games in my collection. It's everything a party game needs to be. It's simple, intelligent, funny, fast, flexible and ultra-portable. It's got incredible staying power because the PLAYERS provide the heart of the game - you can NEVER run out of topics. We've played with as few as four and as many as eight players, gamers and non-gamers alike. I'll be damned if anyone doesn't have a good time playing Attribute with friends. If Attribute 2 is ever released in English, I'll move heaven & earth to get me a copy. If you have any love for party games, word games or just plain great games, you've got to get a copy of Attribute. Highly, highly recommended. Apples to Apples is a poor slip of a shadow compared to Attribute - sell your copy of Apples to Apples to a thrift shop and get Attribute. You'll not miss Apples to Apples for a second.
2006-07-15*
Balderdash (1984)
6
Jan 2007*
6.175
[Party Game, Creative] [6P:6] Nice party game for creative people. Making up answers isn't easy for everyone, and the game may drag if a player or two struggle to come up with answers at the spur of the moment. With the right crowd, it's a pleasing party game that can elicit laugh-out-loud moments. Sometimes, the most absurd answers can be the most plausible...
2007-01-27*
BANG! (2002)
5
Aug 2005*
6.514
Plays: 3
Most fun with 6-7 players (eliminate the renegade with six, it's a role that's extremely difficult to win with). Generates some of the funniest one-liners ("I Bang you"). Especially hilarious with thick cowboy accents.
2005-08-28*
1
Apr 2004*
4.651
This. Is. Not. A. Game.
2004-04-27*
Battle Cry (2000)
4
Nov 2004*
6.842
Plays: 1
Sort of fun, but certainly not a serious (war)game. Much too abstract and limited for a serious gamer. However, it plays fast, and if you lose just set up another scenario. While the minis certainly look nice, they make the game rather fiddly. Your setup time is half to a third as long as your play time in short scenarios. Some cards (All-Out Assault) are simply unbalancing. Oh well, it's not a serious game anyway.
2004-11-09*
Battle Line (2000)
4
Jan 2005*
7.288
(Battle Line, GMT 2004 Reprint) Another well-regarded game reprinted without much love (like FFG's Colossal Arena). C'mon, are we never gonna see linen-finish cards from a US publisher? And what's with the price point? It's just 70 cards and 9 nondescript pawns. Anyway, as for the game... Not exactly my 2P game of choice. There's a lot of randomness here, with added "take that" play from the Tactics cards (some of which are a lot better than others: Alexander vs. Companion Cavalry, for example). Can tolerate a game or two now and then, but mostly unimpressed. Can imagine a Schotten-Totten game - that's probably even more boring. A far cry from RK's best 2P game, LOTR:TC.
2005-01-29*
Battleball (2003)
4
Nov 2004*
6.047
Plays: 3
A fast, fun football game that can be eerily like the real thing sometimes (see your star linebacker go down and out). The myriad dice rolls make this a random game, but the presence of multiple players with differing base dice make it more of a statistical beast. After all, you are perfectly justified in expecting your d6 light tackle to beat up the d20 running back most of the time. Everyday football strategy seems to translate surprisingly well. I've had success with both a Trips formation (three d20s on one wing in an overload - great for passing, with a couple of d8s blocking downfield, slot the heavy tackle for effect), and with an I-formation smash-mouth strategy (give the ball to a d8, have the d6 and 2d6 block downfield, with the d20s running on the wings as options). Much fun! Just keep in mind that this is a kiddie game and nothing seriously great, something on the order of Battle Cry, Memoir '44 and Heroscape.
2004-11-09*
Battleship (1931)
2
May 2004*
4.584
It's, well, good ol' Battleship. 'Good ol'' as in good old friend of youth, not good old game. You can make an argument for it being a game of deduction, but there are far better ways to spend 20 minutes of guesswork.
2004-05-11*
BattleTech (1985)
8
Aug 2005*
6.560
Owned
[Combat, Hex and Counter, Science Fiction, Giant Robot, Customizable] {Any number of players:8} Rating jacks up to 10 if played as an integral part of a MechWarrior RPG. There's so much more at stake if the pilots are continuing characters in a storyline. Besides, how else do you explain things like the differences between 3025 and 3050? Outside of a RPG environment, and strictly as a boardgame, the classic lance matchup with equal tonnage is the best application of a 2 or 4 player game. [More] Battletech is a wargame / miniatures game, perhaps the best one ever made. It's broken up into two parts, creating your Battlemechs, and putting them into combat on the field. Creating the Mechs is just as much fun as the battle itself, but there are stock Mechs available if you just want to roll dice. I haven't played a miniatures game OR wargame that I've found as much fun as Battletech. The "clix" game is horrid compared to "real" Battletech - don't accept the crappy substitute. Play the real thing!
2005-08-15*
4
Jan 2004*
5.871
Owned
Was a decent CCG at the time, but the gameplay was nothing special. It certainly didn't capture the feel of the miniatures game at all.
2004-01-28*
7
Sep 2006*
6.191
Wishlist(3)
 (Like to have)
[Auctions, Resource management, Cardgame] [4P:7,5P:7] This is an extremely unusual light-middleweightish Reiner Knizia cardgame built around The Legend of Beowulf. Players follow the legendary hero around and events surrounding certain encounters in Beowulf's story are auctioned off. Do well and you are rewarded with fame, gold and resources. Do poorly and you get whacked, sometimes whacked silly. Beowulf has that distinctive FFG production - nice art, average quality bits (at best), and some superfluous amenities. The board - oy, the board. The episode circles are too small and are hard to see in less-than-bright light. The game might have looked better taking a page from its distant cousin, The Lord of the Rings. Have a separate board for the whole journey, and "blow up" segments into a larger main board with clearer information. And the shield thing is a weird design choice. Anyway. Beowulf relies heavily on card management and counting. Its pervasive "risk" mechanism may turn off gamers who don't like a lot of randomness and luck in their games. My personal take - the luck is acceptable because there is an opt-out. Don't take the risks. You might lose to a lucky player, but your game performance over time should be more consistent. This is pretty decent game from RK, but I'm not much for its rhythm. Too stop-and-go, lacking the fluidity of Lord of the Rings, rush of Clash of the Gladiators and lightning & thunder of Taj Mahal. I was hoping for a lot of high drama. There were a few, such as when two players are locked in an All Risk Death Struggle, but that's not strong enough to sell me on the game. It also takes a bit too long for what it delivers. However, it is pretty unique - despite direct comparisons to Taj Mahal and Lord of the Rings, it really isn't anything like those two games. It's another of RK's finely-tuned lighter games, with a huge wrench called "risk" thrown into the works to make things more interesting. I also think that it has some decent theme-to-mechanisms integration, but it's nowhere near as strong as many of RK's other games. Final verdict - ok, I'll play if asked, but I'm not moved to suggest it and much less to own it. *** UPDATE: I need to say that the current rating of '6' is rock bottom for Beowulf - there is potential for it to improve. The game does have its strong points, and I believe that more play may improve my opinion due to shortening game length AND improved, more judicious play. The resource management of Beowulf isn't inconsequential, and I've played more that enough of RK's designs that I'm certain there is far more than meets the eye in the risk mechanism than even a half-dozen plays reveal. Oh, and I may eventually have to rescind my "theme-to-mechanisms tie weakness" comment... I'm coming around on that one the more I play and think about it. But the game's rhythm is still confusing to me - not unusual though since Modern Art, Taj Mahal and Traumfabrik all gave (and often still give) me fits.
2006-09-06*
1
Jan 2005*
6.939
First half - dead boring. Second half - broken (I feel justified using "broken" here - the sides after the Haunt begins are rarely well-balanced, and the badly-written rules, especially those dealing with the Haunt, compound the problem). Highly unsatisfactory, BatHotH fails both as a game AND as an experience. It's not fun, it's not suspenseful, and it's certainly not strategic. Did they playtest this thing at all? Don't even start with the "it's in the roleplaying" nonsense - this is not even in the same neighborhood as CoC or Kult, proper "horror RPG"s. Theme? It's no better than any other game, and no theme in the world will save a broken game. And I'm not even complaining that it's random (dice and tiles and cards, hello) because you don't expect non-random games from Hasborg's kiddie division. Avoid like it's the zombie plague and you're its lunch. *** UPDATE: This is the worst piece of crap that anyone tried to pass off as a boardgame in 2004. The rules are unusable out of the box, and the only people who seem to enjoy it only do so because they've never experienced anything better in the horror RPG genre. I deny that this thing is a game, because it not only has abysmal balance, it has no working rules. That stupid "make up your own rules" disclaimer only works in REAL roleplaying games, morons, NOT in boardgames. Whoever greenlighted this at Hasbro/Avalon Hill/WOTC should be very, very ashamed. Oh, and at that price point, they should be able to produce something that at least rivals Ravensburger games like Java and Tikal. The shoddy bits only make this an even bigger horror story for the boardgaming populace. Do NOT buy this thing that's masquerading as a game.
2005-01-17*
6
Jan 2007*
6.418
Wishlist(3)
 (Like to have)
[Party Game, Creative] [6P:6] Nice party game for creative people. Making up answers isn't easy for everyone, and the game may drag if a player or two struggle to come up with answers at the spur of the moment. With the right crowd, it's a pleasing party game that can elicit laugh-out-loud moments. Sometimes, the most absurd answers can be the most plausible...
2007-01-27*
Bingo (1530)
1
Feb 2004*
3.564
This. Is. Not. A. Game. I'll sit and fill in the card if there's some good prizes up tho...
2004-02-05*
Blackbeard (1991)
3
Nov 2005*
5.997
[Pirates] [3P:3] As an idea, Blackbeard gets high marks. If you're really interested in a pirate *simulation* then this will hold value for you (it's be a 7 or 8 if that's what you're looking for). If you want a pirate *game* then you should look elsewhere, as Blackbeard is barely playable. In the tradition of Berg's designs, Blackbeard's chrome is overdone at the sacrifice of most of the game's playability, timing and rhythm. I understand that this can be played solitaire, but for that kind of entertainment I'd turn to a computer game (Sid Meier makes a kickass pirate game). Boardgaming is about playing with other people, and that's something that Blackbeard does not do well at all.
2005-11-30*
Blackjack (1700)
2
Aug 2004*
4.892
The only skill you can use here is card counting. Or cheating.
2004-08-18*
Blokus (2000)
4
Oct 2004*
6.899
(Based on online play) Blokus is a simple tactical pure abstract. Players fill up a board with pretty, colored pieces, but the rule is that pieces may only be placed touching the corner of another piece. Simple, inoffensive tactical game, but doesn't present anything to bring you back for more. Bored with it after a few games. (See the Gipf series for more interesting abstracts.)
2004-10-26*
Blue Moon (2004)
3
Aug 2005*
6.601
Reiner Knizia's Blue Moon, aka "Magic for Dummies". Looks great, feels like a CCG, but is clearly inferior to a good CCG (i.e., MtG - howl if you want, critics, but it's undeniable). The secret lies in the ability to tune your deck to what you're expecting to play against. The fun lies in the metagame - what deck you're playing and what deck your opponent is playing. The card universe of Blue Moon is too small to make it interesting. This is a decent entry-level game for people who've never been into MtG, L5R, OTE or the other top-flight CCGs (sort of a simpler take on the old MtG entry-level variant Portal). For those who are CCG vets, it's like drinking a good table wine after savoring a bottle of Chateau Petrus... By the way, this thing is horrendously overproduced. The board and the dragons are wholly unnecessary, and the tarot-sized cards won't fit into any deck protector that I know of. The art is no better or worse than average MtG work. Kosmos was clearly looking for a few extra bucks here, but at the cost of portability. The whole game could have fit in an Adlung-sized package. A point off for that - card games like this are supposed to be portable. That said, if you want to have a simple 2P card game with the basic flavor of the old, original MtG ruleset without the baggage that the whole MtG name carries these days (unjustly, I might add) then give BM a try. MtG fans won't find anything here that they haven't already seen, and done much better in MtG. I wonder if Knizia even broke a sweat putting this game together; he should send Richard Garfield a thank-you note, if not a % of the royalties. *** UPDATE: After going 0-for-6 in trying to get interest from other players by teaching them BM, I have to label the game a disappointment. I'm done with BM with four boosters in shrink.
2005-08-29*
8
Mar 2007*
6.901
Owned
aka THE MYSTERIOUS GAME OF MYSTERY(tm). Fun light-middleweight game set in Reiner's Blue Moon universe. It has nothing to do with the mediocre card game (Hi Joe!) Players move their pawns around a board and play cards to build pieces of buildings. When a building (card) is completed, players who contributed to putting it up get rewards. Buildings adjacent to other completed building give even more rewards. Rewards are or ultimately convert into crystals. The crystals are used to build the monolith in the center of the city. Whoever gets a majority of the builds in the monolith wins. The cards have special powers, and comboing those, along with some dragon play (a mechanism that a streamlined cousin of the clunky castle favor mechanism in Caylus) are the ways to win. It won't set the world on fire, but Blue Moon City is a decent pace-changer. Would happily play again.
2007-03-18*
Boggle (1972)
4
Jan 2004*
6.047
Owned
One of the classics. It still hits the table on occasion. More than four players tends to stretch the ability of people to come up with unique words.
2004-01-28*
Bohnanza (1997)
3
Dec 2005*
7.013
Owned
Plays: 1
[Trading, Set Collection, Hand Management] [6P:3: 5P:3, 4P:3] Decent set collection and trading game, but really works best with six players who know how it goes and aren't shy about trading. As exciting as watching paint dry if no one wants to trade. *** UPDATE: Replays aren't kind to Bohnanza. It suffers from the "this again?" syndrome, where turns and games blur into one big mess and there isn't a decent gaming memory to be had from the whole morass. Yes, it's ok to pull it out when the clueless nongaming newbies come to visit, but every game is beginning to feel like Chinese Water Torture. "No, please, no more beans!! AAAAAAAHHHHH!" If it wasn't a gift I wouldn't own it.
2005-12-16*
Bombs Away (1995)
3
Jun 2006*
5.496
Plays: 1
(Comments forthcoming)
2006-06-19*
Brawl (1999)
9
Dec 2005*
6.002
Owned
[Hand Management, Real-time, Fighting] {2P:9} (So far played the three Catfight decks, half of the Foglios and Ting Ting.) This is easily the best of all the James Ernest games I've ever played, by a very large margin. I'm going to eventually review this game. For now, I'll just say that Brawl provides a huge adrenalin rush. It's intense and yet intelligent, fast and yet thoughtful. In many ways, playing it reminds me of my early lessons in martial arts. Lash out blindly and you'll get your ass kicked. Lose your cool and your head will come back on a platter. It's really deceptive - at first blush you think it's a random kiddie game. It's not. Brawl has depth in its structure and gameplay that the 35 cards of each character don't instantly convey. In its current state, ending with the Catfight block and not including the extraneous one-shots with the wild cards, Brawl's complexity is right where I think it should be. I don't like the wilds - they detract from the thoughtfulness and the strategy of the game. Yes, the card draw is random, but the deck is only 31 cards, and you have your stack to manage. Sometimes the rhythm of your deck may be off due to a freaky shuffle, but this is rare and should never surprise you. Your deck composition is known, and certain decks like Mischo and Tamiya are dominant in a card color and type anyway. The randomness of the card draw is a non-factor in playing Brawl. Finally, no, speed isn't necessarily a factor. Some decks work well with a slower, more deliberate playing style, and they can beat a straightforward deck with a frenetic player. (I must admit that I am a slow player by comparison to most others, preferring to lose bases and then implement clears, doubles, nulls and reversals at the last minute.) The object isn't who freezes the bases, it's who's got the most bases at the end of the game. In a pinch, it's sound strategy to play for the draw. Hold, Reverse, Double, Clear and Null, plus a little patience are your friends. Oh, and the cards are of surprising quality - much better than what I'd expect from Cheapass Games. [Current favorite deck: Crane] {Still wanting to acquire Alex, Rent, Tess, Ting Ting, and maybe some of the first edition decks.} *** UPDATE: Despite a rather low level of play because my gaming group doesn't like this kind of thing as much as I do, Brawl remains a brilliant design and holds its lofty place among my list of best games. I'd love a set of "deckbuilding" cards with common backs and the whole menu of effects to choose from. As it is I'm constrained to building custom decks out of my Catfight cards. Meow.
2005-12-07*
Bridge (1925)
4
Mar 2005*
6.987
Eeeehhh... The hell you supposed to do when you're the dummy? Yes, it's supposed to be all in the bidding. Supopsed to be. And I'm not much for trick-taking games.
2005-03-15*
5
Aug 2005*
6.074
Plays: 2
Decent filler, but not very deep. Fun for a one-shot on a gaming day.
2005-08-28*
6
Aug 2005*
6.117
Owned
[2 starters, 12 boosters] CoCCCG has the honor of being the first CCG I've spent $50+ on since MtG. It's pretty, it's different, and it works pretty well. It's still a CCG though, so don't kvetch about that since you already knew that going in eh? If you were going to spend that cash on Blue Moon, forget it and get some CoCCCG cards instead. More later.
2005-08-15*
Can't Stop (1980)
3
Mar 2005*
6.732
The great granddaddy of "push your luck" games. Roll the dice and decide if you roll again. Why play this when you can play Liar's Dice?
2005-03-06*
Carcassonne (2000)
3
Sep 2005*
7.346
Plays: 2
[Tile-laying] [2P:4, 3P:3, 4P:3] How in the world did Carcassonne win the DSP? It's so fluffy and random, makes Puerto Rico a computational monster. It's still a decent gateway game to introduce the non-gamers to German-style boardgames, but more than three players increases the downtime (and the already-limited pleasure of putting tiles down) too much. The expansions don't do anything to improve this simple, rather boring game. Carc is most suited for children and non-gamer family and friends. *** UPDATE: Revisited the game to give it another chance, and it fell flat on its face with two newbies. It also bored me three-quarters to death. I really do not understand the appeal, but I'm not playing this or any of its non-Knizia derivatives ever again.
2005-09-28*
3
Mar 2005*
7.462
Plays: 1
The giant meeples are best used as the scoring meeples. Usually treat the Inns as regular road tiles and the cathedrals as regular city tiles. The most used parts of the expansion are the 50- and 100- point scoring tiles. *** UPDATE: Can't ever see myself playing this again.
2005-03-20*
3
Aug 2004*
6.776
Came with the base game. The river tiles are just useless.
2004-08-24*
3
Dec 2003*
7.423
Takes too much away from a game whose appeal comes from its simplicity and elegance. If I wanted a complicated game, there are far better games that answer to that description that I'd choose to play.
2003-12-22*
Cartagena (2000)
4
Aug 2005*
6.572
Plays: 2
Cartagena is an game where the theme doesn't realy work (pirates? yeah, right). Each player attempts to get all six of his player pawns to the end of the maze. Each maze segment has six symbols where each pawn may rest. Movement is accomplished by playing cards. If a player chooses to move a pawn to a symbol that is occupied, he skips forward to the next symbol. It that's occupied, he skips again, and so on until he gets to the end or he meets an unoccupied symbol. One gets more cards by moving a pawn backwards to an occupied symbol. The Jamaican variant offers too little control; the Tortuga variant tends to devolve into Analysis Paralysis and boredom, especially for a game of this weight. The sparse, gloomy presentation of the game doesn't help. Finally, if everyone plays rationally, it's a matter of denying the player following you any good moves. This can drag the game out to unbearable lengths. Cartagena is par for the course for Leo Colovini, and it can appeal to those in the mood for a themeless brain-burner, but its audience is likely to be fairly narrow. (Besides, didn't this game take its main mechanism from the venerable Hase & Igel?)
2005-08-29*
Catan (1995)
3
Oct 2005*
7.215
[Dice rolling, Resource Management, Building, Trading] [3P:3, 4P:3] A question: how is this better than Monopoly? The random resources are the worst aspect of the game. It's got the same basic problem as any game that uses a random mechanism to bestow resources - if luck is against you, you don't get anything. Zilch. Zip. There's no workaround. There are no alternative paths to victory. You NEED your numbers to be rolled. Yes, it will statistically even out, over several *games*, not the same game. Since Settlers takes up to two hours (or even more, aka "The Settlers Game from Hell" which I've been stuck in), that just doesn't cut it. In addition, the theme is remarkably uninspiring. Why are the resources random? We don't know. Somehow the sheep in this game don't grow wool on a regular basis. The trading is boring, consisting of people asking for the same things over and over - if brick is never rolled, *no one has it*. Gah. I don't see how this hooked so many people. This is "The New Monopoly". Avoid.
2005-10-17*
Caylus (2005)
4
May 2006*
7.781
[Resource management, Special powers, Building] Played only on brettspielwelt.de, and I think that's going to be as far as it goes because Caylus is underdeveloped. It's slow, it's fiddly, it's repetitive and it's processional. That's pretty much fatal for a middleweight game of limited depth. [5P:3,4P:4/3,3P:4,2P:4] I've never liked resource swapping as a mechanism, and this game has it in spades. Just looking at all the resources flying around is almost enough to make my head explode. Game mechanism-wise, Caylus has nothing to write home about. Lacks polish. The game's heart is timing to grab buildings each turn, using them to generate resources and set collection on those resources so you can build stuff, with a dash of area majority based on the set collection. I would probably like the game more if it was executed better, but as it is, it's several tweaks away from being good. Dropped from wishlist. UPDATE: Played 4P F2F game. It's substantially WORSE than playing on BSW because of the bits and pieces. Caylus is almost in my "can't stand it" range, and one more F2F play will probably push it over the edge into Settlers and El Grande territory. Sigh. Ystari is the "new alea"? You have to be kidding me. alea's first four games were RA, Chinatown (never played), Taj Mahal and Princes of Florence. Ystari's first three offerings are nowhere near the quality of the three of those that I've played.Old comments: Geekbuddy rating is currently off the scale (13 ratings, 8.69, nothing lower than a 7 so far) but care needs to be taken especially since this is an indy game. My usually reliable buddies led me horribly astray twice (Reef Encounter, which is, to be kind, not good) and Power Grid (good game, not great, and certainly not an 8+ rating game). Watching and waiting for at least half of my Geekbuddies (30+ ratings) to weigh in. *** UPDATE: The low standard deviation (1.31) on Caylus is unusual for a game receiving this much hype. This means it's not likely to be a turkey (Happy Thanksgiving Americans!) but I'm still feeling this is a 6 or 7, along the lines of Power Grid (and agreeing with Siggins about gamers being 'excitable'). Now leaning towards getting the game, despite my serious misgivings. I can always trade it away I guess. *** WARNING SIGNS: The comments from Farrell are underscoring my fear of the indy design - just as Reef Encounter and Power Grid would be greatly improved by going through a rigorous development process where pruning extraneous mechanisms and playing time are the order of the day, so it applies to Caylus. For a 3H game (and that's likely to be the range for Caylus in my group) I'd rather bring Die Macher to the table. Even more cautiously approaching this one now. Has it been that long since an outstanding gamer's game has appeared that people forget the value of elegance and clean design? Still expect this to be in the 5 to 7 rating range for me... sadly.
2006-05-21*
Charades (1550)
3
Aug 2004*
5.296
Not bad as party games go, but you really don't need a fancy boxed set. (Fawkes recommends "Cranium" instead.)
2004-08-22*
Checkers (1150)
3
Apr 2005*
4.889
Hasn't aged well either.
2005-04-03*
Chess (1475)
3
Mar 2005*
6.946
Used to play a bit, but hasn't aged well. Must be my lack of a great memory. I never could memorize any decent openings, probably because I never want to memorize anything.
2005-03-21*
3
Apr 2005*
5.173
Played a lot when much younger. Not anymore.
2005-04-03*
Citadels (2000)
4
Sep 2005*
7.112
Owned
Plays: 2
[Special Powers, Fantasy, Building] [4P:5, 5P:4, 6P:3, 7P:2.5... see a trend?] Card game where players take turns selecting a fantasy role each turn - there are 8 roles and each provides a certain power to the player that turn. Entertaining game, if a bit chaotic. Can slow down to a crawl with more than four players, but as long as players don't take more than a couple of seconds to choose a role, it shouldn't bog down too much. ***UPDATE: While a bit more "fun" than its younger distant relatives, San Juan and St. Pete, Citadels doesn't see much play unless we need a 7-player game, and even then it takes a back seat to BANG! and other lighter (and faster-playing) fare. The drafting time is almost always an issue with more than 4P, and with 4P for the same playing time, one can easily find better games. Still Faidutti's best game, and not a bad one at all, but it's far from best-in-class. *** UPDATE: Funny how a descendant of Meuterer and Verraeter turns out to not be as goood as its forebears. Unless you really need to have a fantasy-themed game of this kind, seek out the two aforementioned older games instead. Not only are they cheaper, they're better. Besides, you don't want to play Citadels with more than 4P anyway, and 4P is exactly what you need to play Verraeter and Meuterer.
2005-09-30*
La Città (2000)
6
Nov 2005*
6.902
Owned
[City Building, Population Management, Resource Management, Planning, Card Drafting] [5P:6] First off, this is not a "Civilization game" in the Sid Meier sense of the word. La Citta is about supporting your citizens and growing your population - everything else is incidental. Your buildings are simply a means to an end - they don't contribute to your score at all. It's all about the people, which is pretty strange for a game where you spend a lot of time planning what to build. The rest of the time you're planning on how to feed your people. The theme works, but I'm not all that sold on the mechanisms. Kosmos has never been the development powerhouse that HiG or alea/Ravensburger is, so La Citta doesn't really flow as well as other Eurogames of similar complexity. Think Power Grid more than Puerto Rico. Also I realize that the board is already fairly large, but the physical game design leaves something to be desired. The food markers are not an ideal tracking mechanism, and having to recount your citizens constantly slows the game down. There's a lot to talk about, particularly in whether the game HAS to go 6 rounds and last 2-3 hours, but in the end La Citta seems to fall into the "good not great" light-mediumweight German game category.

Recommended by my Geekbuddies (7.76, 16 ratings) [Received the German Kosmos Big Box Edition in trade from Mr. Wilson "silverthorn 11" Tan, to whom I am most thankful.]
2005-11-02*
Clans (2002)
6
Oct 2005*
6.410
Owned
[Aggregation, Prehistoric, Civilization] [4P:6, 3P:6, 2P:6] So far, this is my favorite Leo Colovini game. Leo's frequently scored for making abstractish games, but the theme of Clans works. Hey, who can't appreciate racial genocide due to differing hut colors? This is a simple game, with each player moving all the huts in one region into another region, then resolving the move. Easy to learn, easy to teach, quick to play. I use it as a gateway game with a good success rate. Rules can be taught in five minutes, but the newbies will be scratching their heads in short order. Good way to learn the Way of the No Luck German Game. See my review for more.
2005-10-13*
8
Nov 2005*
5.707
Owned
[Gladiators, Dice, Combat] [5P:8, 4P:8, 3P:8] It's a theme-rich dicefest, but it's certainly not devoid of strategy, tactics or meaningful decisions. Should be a top-shelf dice game. This is the game that Titan should have been if it had been designed with Euro sensibilities (i.e., much shorter, more playable, no extraneous chrome, and eliminated players have something to do). You can throw that old clunker away now. After a couple of initial plays, we're clearly undervaluing the shieldbearers. They're really annoying, especially when you're down to one or two attack dice. Note to self - draft shieldbearers early. More comments to follow. *** (Impulse buy - Knizia+HiG too hard to resist. I remembered that CotG had good comments from some of my Geekbuddies, too (Farrell, cornjob, Gola?). Besides, the theme rocks! I can tolerate dice in this kind of game. Actually, dice are appropriate for this kind of game. Are my RPG roots showing? )
2005-11-23*
Clue (1949)
4
Jan 2004*
5.553
Used to be a great game to pass an afternoon. Surpassed later in its life by more engaging fare.
2004-01-27*
7
Oct 2005*
6.675
Owned
[Hand management, Timing, Bidding, Fantasy, Card game] [5P:6, 4P:7, 3P:8] (These comments refer to FFG's 2004 "Colossal Arena" edition) It's unquestionably a good thing that some older designs are getting reprints - make no mistake. However, I wish that a bit more... I dunno, love?... had been put into this one. Would have appreciated linen-finish cards for one. And would it have killed FFG to come up with a decent insert instead of using their generic tray? This is a game that is a prime candidate for deck protectors. Once you sleeve everything, they no longer fit in the box unless you toss the insert (which I've already done). C'mon, if Amigo can put out a middling game like Bohnanza with nice production values, a top-flight game like Titan: the Arena should deserve something on par. Oh, the game? Best German bidding game I've ever played. However, for a card game it takes a significant amount of space, and there is a learning curve steeper than most of the simpler stuff. I'd say this is closer to a 45-minute mediumweight than a 30-minute filler. Don't let that deter you though; despite my bellyaching about FFG not meeting my production expectations, this is a title that a German game fan shouldn't at least audition for a spot in his collection. It's hugely fun, it plays fairly quickly, it's got both strategy and tactics, tremendous replayability, and it's simple once the players get a grip on the monsters' backer powers. It's not very deep, but for its play length it has more than enough meat on its bones. Highly recommended. But I'd still like some linen-finish cards...
2005-10-11*
Connect Four (1974)
4
Aug 2004*
4.882
Played this quite a bit in university. Not bad for an abstract.
2004-08-16*
Conspiracy (1973)
3
Mar 2005*
5.780
Plays: 1
Argh. Clunky game. Feels like an old-time Euro design, but very dated. The pen-and-paper thing doesn't sit well, and it ends up being a glamorized game of bluff. Was probably great for its time, but these days, don't bother.
2005-03-20*
4
Apr 2005*
6.660
[Special powers, area control, negotiation, wargame] {Hasbro version} Chaos and randomness personified. If you're looking for control, you won't find it here. If you're looking for game balance, you won't find it here either (that's not a knock on the game - it's CE's nature). Basically a game of special powers, area control and interference. The card draws can be painful, and the bash the leader effect can make the game easily outstay its welcome. The Hasbro edition is damned pretty, but it can't overcome the feeling of helplessness at making events go one way or another.
2005-04-17*
Cranium (1998)
6
Jun 2006*
5.649
Plays: 3
Party game score: 8/10. I generally won't ask for this to be played, nor do I ever wish to be involved in such a game, but if this is what everyone else is playing I certainly won't sit in a corner and play 1P Puerto Rico. As the description says, it's just an amalgamation of several established party games into one. The word games tend to be the easiest category, and the trivia tends to be the hardest... ***UPDATE: Cranium is good, but Cranium HOOPLA! is significantly better. Would much rather play that when available, but it's upper limit is around 8 players. With more, regular Cranium (or its new Turbo Edition) will do nicely.
2006-06-17*
8
Apr 2006*
5.914
Owned
[Party Game] [9P:?] Hoopla needs some parameters for player-to-card ratio governing difficulty. With 9 players it was impossible to complete the game with each player having 4 cards plus the 8 in the draw deck (20 seconds per card - just no damned way). We ahd fun attempting it though. Keep the ratio at around 40 to 45 seconds per card and the game should be challenging. (In our 9-player case, that's about 2 cards per player, plus the 8-card draw deck. For 4P the 4 cards recommended for the base game should work nicely. There's also nothing stopping you from dealing out asymmetrical hands to the players, or playing with less than 8 cards in the draw deck.) In any case, a worthy party game to have around. *** UPDATE: Outstanding cooperative party game. The cards aren't even a huge issue since there are enough for at least six games or so and you don't play with the exact same group all the time anyway so mixing the cards up combined with the different communication modes produces sufficient diversity. Still would not mind an expansion pack, especially a non-US-centered one (Jiffy Pop?).
2006-04-15*
3
Jan 2007*
5.387
[Children's Game] This can barely be even called a game. It's just a variation on UNO, with cool transparent cards. Still not much game there.
2007-01-27*
Creeper (1997)
6
Jan 2006*
5.574
Owned
[Abstracy Strategy] [2P:6] Learned how to play (and was gifted with a copy of) this nice little abstract by good guy Dale Walton of PIN over a cup of coffee in downtown Bangkok. It's one of PIN's more straightforward games, which is why I guess I can wrap my head around it more easily. Creeper is a fluid, tactical game built on some familiar mechanisms - a bit of Othello, Checkers and your basic connection game. (Note that Creeper predates YINSH by 6 years.) It's a pretty good step up from the traditional abstracts, and its wonderful wood-and-metal pin (no pun intended) presentation makes it an attractive piece to display around the house. My wife already has taken it and plunked it beside our little tabletop "zen garden". Thanks Dale!
2006-01-20*
3
Jan 2004*
5.281
Plays: 1
Too long, too slow, the Settlers mechanic has never been a favorite of mine, I can hardly read the tiles, and it's maddening to keep trying to find the numbers that are rolled for resources. Pass.
2004-01-28*
Daytona 500 (1990)
5
Aug 2005*
6.438
Plays: 1
Racing game in the family of card-driven race games by Wolfgang Kramer. Players bid on cars to "own" them, and then race using cards that move one or more cars along the track. Pretty simple as card-driven race games go. Not a bad way to begin or end a day of gaming.
2005-08-29*
4
Jul 2006*
7.211
[Miniatures, Fantasy, Dungeon Crawl, Videogame Conversion, NOT a roleplaying game]
2006-07-01*
3
Jan 2005*
6.236
Holy crap, I'm not one to bash a game entirely on its production values, but this is ridiculous. The board is awful, the box and insert are even more horrific, and the cards are thin, you-can-tell-they'll-wear out-quick kind. Comparing the quality against Daytona 500 is a joke. The game plays very similar to Daytona - players are dealt cards that move one or more cards. Players bid for cars. Top finishers get cash payouts. Top cash after three races wins. I don't like the switch cards - too gimmicky. Daytone 500 is cleaner and has far better production values. If you must have a Kramer race game, go get Daytona 500 and forget that this game exists.
2005-01-29*
Diamant (2005)
3
Mar 2005*
6.534
(BSW Play) Push your luck game, Faidutti/Moon style. Players are members of a spelunking adventure crew looking for gems. If they run into the same threat twice, they run for it. Very simple game, not much replay value. I'll stick with Liar's Dice, thanks.
2005-03-06*
Diplomacy (1959)
4
Oct 2004*
6.901
I've never finished a game of Diplomacy, and therein lies the game's greatest weakness in my eyes. It takes too long. Without some sort of way to limit the time between turns, this game won't hit the table at all. When it does though, with the right crowd, it's pretty good, but I don't expect to play this ever again. Stabbity-stab-stab.
2004-10-26*
Domaine (2003)
5
Aug 2005*
6.794
A rather dry area-enclosing game. A stripped-down version of Lowenherz, it runs fine, but ultimately becomes rather boring and lacks the tension to hit the table over other games in the 3- to 4- player category.
2005-08-28*
Dominoes (1500)
3
Mar 2005*
5.413
More fun as a dex game than anything else. Of course, it then ceases to be a game when the object is to set up huge rows of dominoes and knock them down for the cameras.
2005-03-15*
Dragon Dice (1995)
3
Apr 2005*
5.550
Owned
Was sort of fun when it first came out, and as a rule I like rolling dice just for the hell of it, but when dice are the whole game then it just doesn't work well. The dice are pretty though, and there's just something *right* about rolling handfuls of large dice.
2005-04-19*
Dragonhunt (1982)
3
Aug 2004*
5.539
Plays: 1
This might have been pretty good back in the heydays of Avalon Hill (well, maybe not), but time has passed this baby by. It just takes too long to win here, having to get the sword, wound the dragon, have your hero survive, and finish the dragon off. Add in the wandering encounters, and it's an easy three, four hours down the tube with four or more players. Downtime is awful. No strategy, simplistic tactics, lots and lots of dice rolling (not usually bad in this type of game, but excruciating here). Pass it up, it's no longer a viable game in the 21st century.
2004-08-11*
Dream Factory (2000)
9
Oct 2005*
6.881
Owned
[Auctions, Set Collection, Film, Hollywood] {4P:9, 5P:9} I'm sorry, but the rating for this game is heavily driven by the theme and its marriage to the mechanisms. As a film geek and movie fan, this is home-made heaven. You can make all sorts of sets using the entire history of films, and it will never, ever grow old. I've resisted rating the game because it's heavily theme-driven (the auctions are simple compared to, say, Modern Art), but the entertainment value is quite simply off the charts for me. Give it a year, this might be a 10 - a theme-driven 10, but still. Excuse me, Mister Spielberg is on line two, demanding to know why I cast Jim Carrey to play opposite Monica Bellucci in his remake of Dead Again... ***UPDATE: T-Fab is getting regular play at our table, and repeated play is showing that this is far from the simple "auction game on rails" that some make it out to be. There's an interaction going on between The number of tiles in each lot, how many stars those tiles have (and in what mix), the types of tiles, the film projects people have and HOW they're trying to complete them (fast, star power, really bad, just enough to be best in class, best directors). Then there's the timing, which to me is the hallmark of a good Reiner game. There's all kinds of things happening in people's evaluations of where they're going to bid, how much they're going to bid, and where they're going to "rest". The closed economy creates an ebb and flow of financial might between the film companies, so much so that you need to time things right if you want to win more than one lot in a sweeps. It's imperative that you have a ceiling, and a backup plan. I think I know why Reiner put this game "on rails" - if players could identify which lot to put up for auction next, the game would become a little more complex, and a little slower. He went for the faster option since T-Fab's supposed to be a Hasbro mass market game. Anyway, I'm considering this the best $70 I've ever spent, next to the Ravensburger Torres. The theme boosts T-Fab over RA and Modern Art in my book. Its mechanisms are not substantially inferior to the two more well-known games. If this was ever released in a North American English edition, it might well be Reiner's best-regarded auction effort. Outstanding game.
2005-10-02*
Dune (1979)
7
Aug 2005*
7.289
Plays: 1
a.k.a. "As the Worm Turns" due to the game-altering Alliances enabled by the appearance of the sandworm, Shai-Hulud. Dune is the precursor of the modern Euro-wargame, playing to conclusion in 2-3 hours due to Alliances. Thoroughly entertaining, with the various powers of the factions causing all sorts of havoc (especially with Alliances in force). Never play with less than six, and never sub in the three expansion factions (they ruin the fine balance of the game). The Duel and Spice Harvest expansions are *not* recommended. Otherwise, this is a great game that remains very effective 25 years after it was first published. If you're a fan of the Herbert novels, that only increases the appeal (the flavor of the game setting and mechanics is off the scale).
2005-08-15*
DVONN (2001)
6
Oct 2006*
7.077
Plays: 2
[Abstract] {2P:6} (Played on BSW) 2P abstract game of one-upmanship. Players stack colored rings one on top of each other. Only the player with the topmost ring can move a stack, and only then if the stack is not surrounded and only a number of spaces equal to its height. Stacks with no contact with one of three red "rings of life" are removed from play. Player with most rings in stacks they control (their rings is on top) wins. Nice 2P new age abstract with medium-range planning possibilities. I can "see" DVONN easier than I can "see" YINSH, but somehow I enjoy playing (and losing at) YINSH just a bit more. They're both good though, and I like them better than their older sibling GIPF. My ranking of the series: TAMSK (9) YINSH (8), PUNCT (7), DVONN (6), GIPF (5), ZERTZ (4).
2006-10-17*
Elfenland (1998)
5
Jul 2006*
6.629
[Route planning, point-to-point movement, fantasy theme] [6P:5, 5P:5] Elfenland is a decent gateway game for budding German gamers. It's less lucktastic than Die Siedler, it's less mechanical than Ticket to Ride, and it's definitely less boring than Carcassonne. However, it's an introduction into the gamer's delight called downtime. If you're a fan of games like Java or Tikal and want to get folks into those games, Elfenland is the game to test them on. A six-player game, which is the best way to play Elfenland, can stretch to 2.5 hours, more if played with newbies. Otherwise, it's an ok planning game. Remember to be nasty and block with the tile placements! Oh, and I'm very disppointed with the theme, which just doesn't work at all. See my review.
2006-07-23*
Emerald (2002)
4
Nov 2004*
6.051
(Played on BSW) An ok game that I'd think was produced for kids until I saw that it was Rudiger Dorn at the controls. Well, ok, it could still be a kid's game. By extension, probably targeted at families, which would make it a natural SdJ entry (it didn't win). It's simple, there's a bit of randomness with the dragon, it plays quickly and there's just enough tactics to keep it interesting for a couple of plays. Nothing really there to keep you coming back tho.
2004-11-24*
Evo (2001)
5
Aug 2005*
6.700
Plays: 1
EVO is a dinosaur-themed game where each player tries to rack up the most mutation points for their species, until all the dinosaurs are killed by a meteor, ending the game. I would characterize EVO as a middleweight game with a silly-ish theme. It's a good way for non-gamers or younger gamers to learn basic game elements like "tile" (dino) placement and bidding. The game isn't great - it suffers from too much randomness (climate change, combat resolution, power cards, genes auctioned) and no corrective mechanisms. It's also too long for what it gives (a 4P game plays out in 60-90 minutes). Despite the houserules recommended here on the Geek, I'd only drag this out when a non-gamer audience was at hand. Otherwise, there are too many superior games to choose over EVO.
2005-08-29*
Falling (1998)
7
Aug 2005*
5.481
Owned
[Real-time, "Hand" Management] {4-8P:7} My Geekbuddies will probably lynch me for the rating and the review, but what can I do? I like Falling. Falling ranks high on the silly filler meter, but I guess that's why it works. Take it for what it is - a three to five minute romp where you toss cards frantically at each other and have fun while at it. There's no real mental lifting required, so you'll find that you've played twenty games in a row without realizing it. A good dealer is a must - if you can't learn from someone else, take it slow. No rule against falling at less than g in this game. I'd classify this as a dexterity-based party game, in the class of Speed, Ligretto and the grabbing part of Attribute. (PS: It seems that as of this writing, Falling is out of print.)
2005-08-15*
5
Aug 2005*
5.977
Plays: 2
Silly little game. Its main appeal lies in its theme. If the players get into it with Sopranos "fuhgeddaboudit" accents, gravelly Brando "Godfather" quotes and snide witty remarks when offing rival mobsters then the game should go over well. It's no more than a filler and luckfest though, so don't expect any deep strategy. Warning: the box says players from age 8 to adult. Not everyone will want their kids committing the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, so handle with care. The mobsters on the cards are, for the most part, named after real-life mobsters, so a short history lesson may be in order for younger players.
2005-08-28*
3
Nov 2004*
5.982
Plays: 1
Yet another bang-up job by Days of Wonder on the bits of this game. The stones are pretty, the coins are wooden (though the yellow "fairy gold" and beige "common gold" coins are hard to distinguish under some lighting conditions) and the cards are pretty. Too bad the game itself sucks. All blind bidding, all the time is not my idea of an engaging distraction, especially when that's all there is to the game. FoD feels like a retarded version of Modern Art. And where did the 3VP target come from? Despite the pretty presentation, the theme is... not applicable. There isn't even any pretense in telling you what you're playing for. Easily one of the worst applications of theme for a fully-produced Euro by a major company and designer. Anyway, people who love chaotic, shallow games might actually like this typical Faidutti creation. Otherwise, you may pass with no regrets.
2004-11-09*
Flandern 1302 (2004)
6
Dec 2005*
5.691
[Area Majority, Hand Management] [4P:6] A fast area majority game with some intricate timing tricks going on. Players represent guilds battling for supremacy in four cities. Pretty presentation. Some luck in the draw, which can be mitigated by switching to a card draft. Inspired use of neutral factions. As these kinds of games go, Flandern is a good entry.
2005-12-21*
Fluxx (1997)
2
Mar 2005*
5.620
Changing rules? Changing victory conditions?! Even a party game, where the experience is more important than who wins, knows better than this. Still, since it actually has rules (even if they change) and victory conditions (even if they change) and decisions to be made (even if they have no bearing on the outcome), I am forced to classify it as a game. It gets the lowest score I can ever give to a game, because it's just stupid. I wish I could have the time I spent playing one game back, as it was one of the worst "gaming" experiences I have been subjected to.
2005-03-20*
4
Nov 2004*
5.763
Simple game of doublethink. Will your opponent run or pass? Inside or outside, short or long? Then, refer to the results table. For its two-hour length, not really worth the time.
2004-11-25*
For Sale (1997)
4
Oct 2005*
7.109
[Auction, Blind Bidding, Filler] [5P:4, 6P:4] Sorry Geekbuddies, but I really don't see what the fuss is about. This game is not better than High Society. It's faster, it's lighter, and it's far more random than HS. That makes it not worthy to lick High Society's muddy boots. I had my suspicions due to the blind bidding, so I'm glad I didn't buy it. Not a favorite, and will likely not play again even if it is just 15 minutes.
2005-10-02*
4
Sep 2004*
5.522
Plays: 1
A rather ugly-looking simple hex-and-counter wargame with an interesting premise. One player has Vikings, and his objective is to plunder the countryside, which includes one little village. The other player controls the forces of the village, and tries to prevent his livestock from being stolen, his clergy from getting killed, and his women from being raped. In a strange twist, the Norsemen lose if they don't get back to their ship on time. I'm pretty sure that there are more interesting wargames to blow a few hours on than this, but the idea is novel at the very least.
2004-09-19*
2
May 2004*
4.140
I still think it was a decent idea, but with no mechanics to speak of, it's not much of a game.
2004-05-11*
5
Aug 2005*
7.163
Plays: 1
The deterministic wargame. Well, not really, but there is very little randomness to the battles. The chaos factor comes from the Westeros deck, which determines key things like generating new troops, adjusting troop limits, and the all-popular Clash of Kings blind bid. Plays quickly for a wargame. Not too bad. *** UPDATE: After a couple of more plays, I no longer like the Westeros deck all that much... Still not a bad game at all, but no longer one of choice.
2005-08-28*
5
Aug 2005*
6.109
Owned
[1/2 an I&F premium starter, a couple of boosters' worth of donated Greyjoy cards] CCG based on George Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire fantasy novels. Got into this because a friend was getting tired of waiting for A Feast of Crows. It's ok, nothing amazing. The artwrok is very nice, as might be expected from FFG. My main beef is with the pace of the game. The description I'd use is "plodding". This becomes especially bad when in a three-player game. Still need to play a bit more using my now-tuned squidhead deck, which is a bit comboish. Don't quite know how that ties into the Ironborn credo... Theme to mechanics is very CCGish. Still, not a bad little game, but I'm stopping the investment with my Greyjoy Armada. Now, where can I get Euron Crow's Eye?
2005-08-29*
Gammarauders (1987)
4
Aug 2004*
5.559
Lots of play back in the day, though the ending was always marred by the "bash the leader" syndrome - we neer finished a game. It was still fun to have the bioborgs stomping around and munching popcorn. Would still play in a pinch.
2004-08-13*
4
Aug 2004*
5.569
Well, this can't be rated higher than the base Gammarauders game, but it did add fun. Factoids were the big wrenches that people threw into combat, so the more, the merrier. The new Bioborgs weren't anything great, except for the Gammasaurus, who turned the game into something resembling "Ogre".
2004-08-13*
The Generals (1980)
4
Oct 2005*
5.631
Owned
(Based on the non-electronic version) This is a Stratego variant that's played blind - the players do not reveal their pieces to each other. Using a normal set, that requires a third person as "arbiter" to determine which piece wins or loses. The object is either to capture your opponent's flag, or to get your flag into his back row. I actually prefer this variant to classic Stratego, but the requirement of a third person is a drawback to getting the game going. It's pretty boring for the arbiter (and I've been one more than I've actually played). The game is pretty dated now, especially with the advent of super-Stratego variants like Knizia's Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation.
2005-10-18*
Genoa (2001)
7
Aug 2005*
6.994
Plays: 3
[Negotiation, Trading] {5P:7, 4P:4} So far the best game featuring a negotiation mechanic that I've played. It's structured enough to keep the inmates in the madhouse, but it's free enough that creative deals can be struck. It CAN run really long (we took 2.5 hours for a 4P game), but just keep the pace up and you won't feel the time fly by. Recommended.
2005-08-29*
GIPF (1997)
5
Oct 2006*
6.693
[Abstract Strategy] [2P:5] Gipf is the first of Kris Burm's new age abstracts. It's interesting for a while, but it quickly begins to feel like work. It lacks the breezy, creative feel of YINSH, and the downhill, decisive strikes of DVONN. I'd prefer to play the two younger Burm games when 2P abstracts are the jeux du jour. My ranking of the series: TAMSK (9) YINSH (8), PUNCT (7), DVONN (6), GIPF (5), ZERTZ (4).
2006-10-17*
3
Mar 2005*
5.733
Good for a laugh or two, mostly from talking about performing a One Hand Job or a Two Hand Job. Otherwise, a totally random game that can break. Give Me the Brain has a clunky turn order mechanism that allows players to be skipped. On a good draw, someone can win in a single turn (high bid cards and jobs with high targets). It might be workable with three or four players at the most, and the players play the whole thing as quickly as possible, but why bother when there are better fillers out there?
2005-03-27*
Goa (2004)
8
Aug 2005*
7.536
Owned
[System Game, Auction/Action, Economic] {2P:8, 3P:7, 4P:8} "System" game in the same mold as many of the heavier German games. However, this game is unusually simple from a systems standpoint. I don't see any potential for it to develop a nasty, brutal side, which can happen when a game like Puerto Rico or Euphrat & Tigris is played defensively. Its demeanor is closer to Amun-Re and The Princes of Florence, but with more speed, less system complexity, and a similarly huge amount of fun. ***UPDATE: Still surprised by the speed at which this game can be played. 4P game completed in just over one hour, with the players taking actions rapidly, almost simultaneously. My take on the expedition track/cards so far: NOT broken as designed. Players who max the track are no more likely to win than the players who max the taxation track or who take a balanced approach. However, you can't ignore it any more than you can ignore building or shipping in Puerto Rico. As in many auction games, the system self-balances once the players catch on to the strategies taken by the group. So far, excellent game, but I'm still not thinking top shelf. No lower than 8, could go higher depending on the strategies that reveal themselves. My group tending to bid fairly high for the tiles, cash in the system turn-to-turn tends to be low, despite a lot of taxation track development all around. It's also not as complex as, say, Puerto Rico, but there is a lot going on and there are many options. One observation I have is with the scoring, which seems to be rather even all around, and is ultimately broken by either the bonus tiles or the expedition cards. Seems like you need that "edge" to win, and those are the only two sources of the "edge" as the track scores develop fairly evenly for all players (assuming they know what they're doing) and everyone makes sure that they get all four colonies. Am sure that there is much more to discover here. *** UPDATE: Increased rating due to the novel economics going on here. The auction round is substantially deeper than it initially seems, primarily due to the money supply fluctuations caused by people buying their own stuff and generating new cash via taxation, tiles and exploration. It's like the closed-economy Traumfabrik auction, with sporadic injection and draining of resources. This adds a very important memory element to the game, which is very interesting as it is maddening, as the ability to corner the market in auctioned resources is very powerful. Really cool, extremely fun, and worth the price of admission in and of itself. (It's also an inflation / deflation lesson in an economics jargon-free environment, always a good thing for younger players!)
2005-08-15*
El Grande (1995)
4
Oct 2005*
7.722
[Area control, Special powers] [5P:5, 4P:4, 3P:3] I understand how others can enjoy it, but it's too dry and tactical for me. You can't plan any further ahead than the current set of action cards (because you'll never know what's coming up). Repetitive and, honestly, boring as dirt. *** UPDATE: Okay, I can expound a little more on EG now that I played again, and still didn't take to it at all. Your work doesn't stick. It's transient. It's chaotic. It's impossible to build anything. You're blind and stone deaf beyond the current turn, and there's nothing you can do now to set up for later success. It's irritating. I can't fault the design, I can see how some gamers like the "live for the moment, score points now" personality of the game, but I can't abide it. Bleh. ***UPDATE: Following a lead from the esteemed Chris Farrell, am considering El Grande + Expansions, which seems to remove my main issue with the game by eliminating the randomness and blindness from the action cards. Under evaluation, we'll see when the reprints (RGG is reprinting both El Grande and the Expansion Kit) roll around in October 2005.
2005-10-18*
5
Oct 2005*
6.374
Owned
Don't play this game with less than four, and it's really best with 7 or 8 and a free flow of alcohol and chips. There's no scoring involved, but it provides great fun in terms of opportunities to ham it up.
2005-10-18*
Hacienda (2005)
8
Aug 2006*
6.750
Owned
[Tile-laying, set-collection, connection, sort-of-economic] [3P:8,4P:8,5P:8] Kramer's latest big box game (and first solo effort in a while) mixes some familiar elements into a light-medium game that is greater than the sum of its parts. Players are hacenderos aiming to gain control of the choicest spots in the area by purchasing land and grazing rights. Herds of animals brought to market and harvests provide cash. Cash buys more stuff. However, Hacienda does not have a traditional reinvestment engine since the opportunities to market are limited. Here you have the connection/area control element where players can horn in on other players' areas. Direct confrontation in a Wolfgang Kramer game. You have to love it. Finally Hans im Gluck has included a double-sided map to play on. It's too bad that one side (the symmetric dog-bone map) isn't all that interesting. The good thing is that Wolfie and HiG have apparently authorized the Westpark Gamers to release a map generator, which will keep the game fresh. Overall, this is a solid gateway-class light-middleweight game from one of the two Master Ks (the other being the good Dr. Knizia) of Eurogaming. A solid addition to any gamer's library. UPDATE: More play F2F and on SBW. I enjoy Haz. It's relaxing, with enough meat to keep you interested but light enough that it can be served alongside a heavier main course. I'm not really enamored of the scoring variants. The "halftime score" effect is integral to the game especially due to the market strategy. However the ability to create maps will keep Haz fresh. Now wishing for professionally-produced expansion maps a-la Power Grid. Are you listening HiG/RGG? Rating upped from 7 to 8, and I think that's final for this really nice game.
2006-08-17*
6
Aug 2005*
7.199
Plays: 1
Braveheart (well, a historically-accurate Braveheart) 2P wargame using the Columbia block system. Plays well, nice and quick for a wargame, but my impression is that if/when the Scots can get a jump on the English early and get to eight or nine nobles, they have the advantage. Playing defensively by using the red-bordered area up north, they can run from the English knights until the end of the Braveheart scenario. The card-driven initiative/movement system and the dice-driven combat system put a degree of chaos into the game, but no more than you'd expect. *** UPDATE: Not as interesting in the longer term as Hannibal RvC, and since 2P wargames don't come up too often, table time suffers.
2005-08-15*
7
Aug 2005*
7.464
Plays: 1
I must admit, I'm a sucker for all things Hannibal and Scipio Africanus. Someone should make a good film about them, with a better screenplay than Troy. Anyway, this is the definitive card-driven "Euro-wargame", complete with elephants. It's good looking, and the combat is abstract but effective. Happy to play whenever four hours presents itself and only one opponent can be found.
2005-08-15*
Hansa (2004)
5
Sep 2006*
6.729
[Set collection] [4P:5] [Played on MaBiWeb] Good: Plays quickly, fairly interesting timing element, simple rules. Bad: Significant random goods, fixed ship movement, very strong left-hand-player binding, lacks replayability.
2006-09-17*
5
Aug 2005*
6.444
Not bad, but I'm not much of a fan of race games. It's better than the derivative Cartagena though.
2005-08-29*
5
Aug 2005*
5.800
Owned
[Collectible Card Game, Fantasy] {Have only played with the two-starter pack and 4 boosters} Yes, I know that adults aren't the target market of HPCCG. Wizards of the Coast set out to make a version of Magic: the Gathering more accessible to younger players, and especially the holy grail - young girls. I think they made a pretty good effort with this game. It's nice looking, it plays well, but that turns against itself. In the end, the game becomes rather boring because it has very little depth. I've seen eight-year olds playing other "adult" CCGs like Magic, Legend of the Five Rings and CCG-alikes like Clix. Then again, it just might be the old MtG pro in me talking. I DO think that the license was used effectively. The art is very nice, and the quality is up to the usual high Wizards of the Coast standards. (The holo foil wizards were remarkable. I got one in one of my boosters. Is it worth anything?) I'm sure that this game appeals greatly to its target audience, theme and all.
2005-08-29*
Hearts (1850)
5
Aug 2005*
6.209
I'll play some trick-taking games, but I can't stand more than a hand or three.
2005-08-28*
Heresy (1995)
3
Jan 2004*
5.533
Owned
Purchased a few decks solely for the artwork on the cards, which was good on the average, and amazing at times. The oversized cards were perfect for showing off the art. Too bad the game was a MtG ripoff, and a bad one at that. It died a quick death.
2004-01-16*
HeroQuest (1989)
5
Aug 2005*
6.721
I suppose I'm biased against boardgames that try to be RPGs (in this case, D&D), since they have no chance of being what they try to emulate. I bristle at any boardgame pretending to be a RPG. I realize that a boardgame has no chance of ever measuring up against a good RPG session, but if you want to play a boardgame, pick a boardgame - say, E&T. Anyway, HeroQuest does two things right in its desire to be the pale shadow of D&D - it makes one of the players the DM. This has to be the case, and it's where many of the other wannabes whiff hard. You HAVE to have a DM. The other thing that it does right is that it makes the other players a PARTY, i.e., it's cooperative. This is another MUST. Otherwise, I guarantee that the RPG-wannabe game experience will be quite crappy. See Runebound for a positively awful RPG-wannabe. If you absolutely must dungeon-delve, and can't find someone with the time or ability to be the DM, then I guess HQ is your best bet. Some might notice that it sorta feels like the kiddie version of D&D3.X's combat system. Must be the reason why it's sought after for parts to make a good D&D3.X dungeon encounter map. Anyway, the player who's gonna be the GM ( aka "The Big Z") still needs to put in a bit of preparation in order to give the group the best HQ experience. If no one wants to do that, then trust me, play Puerto Rico instead.
2005-08-29*
3
Dec 2005*
7.158
[Children's Game, Miniatures, Science Fiction, Combat, Dice] [2P:3] Yet another addition to the Battleball/Battle Cry/Memoir '44/Betrayal class of light, random children's games. Interlocking tiles are interesting, but cute components don't improve the game system, which has little if any depth (anyone notice that there are no terrain effects?). More of a kid's assembly kit than a real "game game". Excellent choice if you need a game to play with your children, however. (In that case, it becomes an 8. The '5' rating is for playing it with adults, which everyone here on the Geek seems to be rating it at. I think it'll sink to a '4' later, assuming it ever gets played again. I doubt it...) **** UPDATE: Sunk to a 4... strike that, a 3, no reason to play ever again unless asked to by kids.
2005-12-04*
3
Oct 2006*
6.749
[Abstract Strategy] (Packeis am Pol) [2P:3, 3P:3] A simple idea that wasn't taken far enough as a game. Players plunk penguins down on a hex grid made of individual tiles. The players then move them around in straight lines. When a penguin leaves the tile it's standing on, the penguin's owner claims the tile. Shades of an even simpler, less random version of Verflixxt. Too short, and has all the depth of a children's wading pool, which is appropriate I guess since that probably is the extent of the target audience for the game. PS: If you like where the game was going, but are frustrated that it ended six stops short of its destination, check out Kris Burm's YINSH. It's got similar ideas but is executed differently, plus it takes the ball all the way into the end zone, complete with celebration. ***UPDATE: Still completely unremarkable, and has a tendency to be anticlimactic. I really don't understand the appeal beyond the fascination of some gamers with the penguin-shaped bits. Might be ok as a children's game. Think training wheels until the kid can graduate to YINSH.
2006-10-17*
High Society (1995)
7
Oct 2005*
6.598
Owned
Plays: 10
[Auction, Filler] {5P:8, 4P:7} Knizia's gem of a filler. Plays quickly. Has surprising depth and excruciating decisions for its weight. Amazing how a simple game such as this can have such variable gameplay, a nice ending twist, and an uncertain game-ending mechanism. The uberPlay version is a bit overproduced, hurting the game's portability, but the tiles are superb. Only wish the cards were linen-finished instead of plastic-coated. Regardless, High Society is an excellent purchase for any gaming group. // Update: Burning out on HS a bit, but it remains a great filler (down to 7 from 9).
2005-10-02*
Hoax (1981)
5
Aug 2005*
5.624
Plays: 1
Nice little game of double-talk. Good with a crowd that "gets it", but I can see where people might have a problem with it. Could easily be too chaotic for many gamers. In the same class of game as Werewolf. The players need to be brave in making accusations, or it will drag on forever, because the "economic system" is flawed.
2005-08-28*
Hoity Toity (1990)
4
Oct 2005*
6.394
[Blind Actions, Set Collection] [4P:4, 5P:5, 6P:4] The great granddaddy of the blind action selection mechanism, used subsequently in games such as Edel, Stein & Reich and Pirate's Cove. I'm not a fan of this mechanism, and despite the arguments that there is a lot of psychology in play when choosing actions based on what you think the other players will do, it's not something I'd like to pin a whole game on. Gamers who like making something out of multiplayer chaos should find something to like here though. Sorta sad that it's now known as "Klaus Teuber's other game" because I think it's much more tolerable than anything named Settlers. Ok to pull out once in a very blue moon, just for a change of pace.
2005-10-18*
I'm the Boss! (1994)
5
Aug 2005*
6.581
Plays: 3
Pure negotiation game that scales poorly. Was a blast with six players, was much less fun with four. Will play again only with six.
2005-08-28*
Ikusa (1986)
3
Mar 2005*
6.747
It's just Risk. A much-nicer looking Risk, though, with the great Japanese-themed bits and spiffy map. But it's still Risk.
2005-03-20*
Illuminati (1982)
4
Apr 2005*
5.992
Fnord. Wow, this is a blast from the past. We played this many times in the 90s when we couldn't make quorum in our D&D games. It was funny to begin with, but then the games just dragged on and on. The memories aren't all that fond.
2005-04-26*
4
Apr 2005*
6.013
Owned
Fnord. INWO was SJG's attempt to try using one of its best-known franchises to cash in on the CCG craze of the 90s. We played it for a while, and then it went the way of its predecessor - the games took too much time and weren't all that interesting once the novelty wore off.
2005-04-26*
7
Dec 2005*
6.677
Owned
[Area Majority, Special Actions, Special Powers, Negotiation, Political] [4P:7] In the Shadow of the Emperor is, at its essence, a complex game of musical chairs. Players utilize special actions, which are in limited supply, to place aristocrats and knights and build castles in seven electorates of the Holy Roman Empire. The key mechanism that keeps everything moving is that retaining power in an electorate does not confer victory points - seizing control does. However, you need to hold on to power to use the privileges that come with control of an electorate. However, there are other routes to VPs, including being Emperor (seems comparatively strong at first, until you do the math and find out it's not really that bad, and you become a huge target), controlling a certain electorate and outright buying VPs. The most intriguing mechanism of ItSotE is the aging of your aristocrats. Each turn, your aristocrats advance 25% of their lifespan. Despite the below-par rulebook, ItSotE has the expected HiG high quality presentation. The game's graphic design is distinctive. I like it a lot. Overall, this is an interesting title in the ever-crowded area majority game genre, and it's well worth a look. Rating can go up as the game gets shorter from experience.

**** OLD COMMENTS: March 2005. Will this finally be an area-influence game that I'll like? Sounds promising, but still very cautious since area influence games tradionally land on my list of suckage. *** UPDATE: Comments not strong enough to justify hazarding the area majority mechanism. Dropped from wishlist, may revisit later. [Just acquired August 2005]
2005-12-04*
Ingenious (2004)
7
Feb 2006*
7.108
Wishlist(3)
 (Like to have)
[Tile-laying, Abstract] [4P:6, 4P Partnership:6, 3P:7, 2P:7] Reiner doesn't do abstracts much, but when he does them he does them right. Ingenious is a rather addictive tile-laying game that takes the balanced-scoring mechanism from Euphrat & Tigris and grafts it onto a line-of-symbols-forming system that's surprisingly simple and yet gives more meat to chew on than meets the eye. Toss in a couple of simple rules (a hand dump, plus yelling "Ingenious!" with gusto) and you've got a good middleweight game that's easy to teach and is very accessible. The only thing it really lacks is drama (and it doesn't have the strong tension of the better RK games) which will hurt it in the long run, but I don't think Reiner was explicitly going for that here. I'm thinking he wanted a relaxing, family-oriented casual game, and he nailed it nicely despite the occasional feeling that the game is overstaying its welcome when playing 4P with players take several minutes to move. Fantasy Flight's top-notch production values, from the plastic tiles, large board and Scrabble-style tile racks make this a damned good package. If you have space on your shelf for an abstract, this is as good a choice for up to 4 players as you can get.
2006-02-03*
4
Mar 2005*
5.460
Yet another deduction+luck hybrid game. It's not as objectionable as the chaotic Mystery of the Abbey, but luck is still too prevalent to take this game seriously. If the Ambassador screws up your meetings too often, or he meets up with a particular player too often, that player will win unless he's a complete doofus. It's not an awful game, but those in search of a true deduction game should look elsewhere.
2005-03-25*
Intrigue (1994)
7
Feb 2006*
6.152
Owned
[Negotiation] [4P:7, 5P:7] [Thanks Wilson and Shih Huei!] Backstab-fest in the tradition of Diplomacy, but purer and much, much faster. Your friendships had better be able to withstand this sort of game. Me, it's not really my thing, but if I had to play that kind of game this would be the first choice (haven't tried the Lifeboat Game yet). *** UPDATE: Better than I initially thought, but requires a the right group. Expect a lot of yelling and simmering and boiling if the game is played right. When teaching the game, remind everyone to have short memories, and that when the game is over to forget the whole thing. Otherwise, I doubt that this game will ever see the table again. With Intrige, there is no need to ever drag Diplomacy's tired old carcass out of the closet ever again. *** UPDATE: Mayfair's doing an English edition of Intrige in early 2006. The components are likely to be crappy (especially if it's going to be the AMIGO card game version they're basing the game off of and not the FX Schmidt boardgame) but I'll take it. The game doesn't use its components heavily anyway, except for the cash, and that's easy to solve.
2006-02-28*
Java (2000)
8
Aug 2005*
6.739
Owned
[Action Point Game, Tile-laying, Spatial, Area Majority] {2P:8, 3P:8, 4P:8} One of the most wide-open German game available. Superior in depth to its siblings, Tikal and Mexica. Different, but just as fantastic and exhiliaratingly FUN as its first cousin, Torres. The game elements seem disparate at first glance, combining tiles, cards and 3-D gameplay, but they suprisingly mesh well together. The theming of the game is good, but not as strong as Torres. The sense of exploration is just as strong as Tikal's, but Java does not suffer from Tikal's stutter-step scoring via volcano. A great deal of forward planning is necessary, and not just due to the final-state scoring - if you play with players who do not consider the board and their following turn while others move, they will take a long time on their turn. However, this is a problem of the player, not the game. Do not play with people not suited to analytical planning games (especially indecisive players OR minutae maximizers) - you will surely exceed the 90-120 minutes Java is rated at. With the right crowd, this is an excellent game. Final kicker - this is one of the best-produced, gorgeous Eurogames I've ever had the pleasure of playing. Highly recommended for lovers of complex, thoughtful strategy games. *** UPDATE: Knocked Java down a peg for its brutal endgame, where the last player to go (particularly in a 4P game) has a hell of a job to do. Now, this wouldn't normally concern me, especially since Java provides perfect vision and the player to the right of the potential game ender can see it coming and should be able to prepare for it. (Heck, if I was to the left of the leader I'd try to be the game ender to have a chance to catch up.) It's not a flaw in my mind - it just makes a difficult (but FUN) 4P Java game that much harder and inaccessible, as your long-term strategy NEEDS to account for your position in the Final Count when you see it coming.
2005-08-15*
Jenga (1983)
5
Aug 2005*
5.479
Owned
I still enjoy this game. I prefer to play this in the cooperative mode, trying to get the tower up as high as possible before gravity finally ends up with the ultimate win.
2005-08-28*
Karawane (1990)
5
Aug 2005*
5.605
Plays: 1
A racing game featuring pastel camels. Players begin with an equal number of little plastic water gourds. Each turn, players bid gourds "in the fist"; highest bid moves furthest, and so on. But the winner of the game is not who finishest first! It's who finishes with the most bales, which are collected by landing on specific spaces on the track and by finishing ahead of the other players in each of three legs of the race. The implementation of the blind bid is interesting here, but Karawane pales in comparison to other race games, notably, the Kramer games and Homas Tour.
2005-08-29*
Keythedral (2002)
5
Jun 2006*
6.794
[Tile-Laying, Resource Management] [4P:6, 5P:5] So far the only Breese design that I can tolerate. Keythedral still feels like it could use some tightening up. The most egregious offense comes from the Law Cards, which can be fearsomely powerful one turn and questionably weak the next. The laying of the workers and the parlaying of their efforts into resources is clunky in practice. Finally, the game feels very static and repetitive. It also feels much longer than it is, perhaps due to the lack of variety in the game narrative. Overall, a decent game, but I'm not likely to ask to play, let alone acquire a copy. (Thanks to Mr. Wilson Tan who loaned me his copy to try out. The full review is forthcoming.)
2006-06-11*
3
Nov 2004*
6.030
Hopelessly random take-that game that lasts entirely too long as it'll take EVERYONE emptying their hands before someone can win. It's not really broken, but it's very, very dull and requires virtually no thought to play. There is little satisfaction around the table when the good Doctor finally runs out of luck and bites the dust. I'd dock it a point for being a Cheapass game (in terms of components), but it's already rated too low. If this is the best that Cheapass has to offer, I see no need to try any of their other offerings.
2004-11-08*
3
Mar 2006*
5.439
[Drinking Game? Children's Game?] [5P:3] Don't quite know what to make of this game. It's humorous for a while, but it's intensely chaotic AND random, which is never good. Worse, it can take next to forever to complete a game. It's probably in the same range of games as Munchkin. Something can probably be done to fix the victory conditions though, which are unnecessarily random. Not high on my list of games to devote any precious game-related time to though. *** UPDATE: Okay, the endgame condition, which is purely based on luck, breaks this game. It's a chaotic, silly, pretty stupid gaming experience, but did they really have to make one tile the determining factor of the winner rather than actual performance during the game? Borderline broken. Stay away.
2006-03-01*
5
Aug 2005*
5.964
Owned
Plays: 2
[Filler rating: 7/10] Nice little filler. Not a lot of interesting decisions, but just enough speed and small complications for a quick five-minute game for three to five players. King Lui isn't really a mainline filler; it's more of an opener, a closer or a travel game with a reasonably small footprint. Works very well with newbies, nongamers, casual gamers and even older kids.
2005-08-28*
Kingdoms (1994)
5
Aug 2005*
6.445
Mathematical Knizia creation - it's all about maximizing your tiles and killing the best tiles of the other players. Chaos via the tile draw. It's also dry as a bone. There are far better Knizia fillers than this (see High Society). Still, not exceedingly annoying in spots.
2005-08-28*
Kreta (2005)
6
May 2007*
6.397
Wishlist(4)
 (Thinking about it)
Not bad. Sorta feels like a really light Maharaja.
2007-05-25*
LCR (1983)
1
Apr 2004*
3.922
This. Is. Not. A. Game.
2004-04-15*
6
Aug 2005*
6.506
Owned
Wizards of the Coast bought Legend of the Five Rings ('L5R') from Alderac Entertainment, making it its #2 CCG to Magic: the Gathering. L5R's greatest strength is its theme, which ended up as the default setting for the Oriental Adventures expansion of WOTC's D&D RPG.
2005-08-15*
4
Aug 2004*
5.498
Simple game where each player can play up to four cards each turn, of of each color, to do stuff. Totally random of course due to the card draw; it's quite possible that you'll be unable to move for several turns if you're unable to draw movement cards, or you have to waste a turn discarding your whole hand to grab some new cards. Fun in a roleplaying sort of way, but there are certainly many better games out there.
2004-08-13*
Liar's Dice (1987)
8
Aug 2005*
6.816
Owned
Comment:
[Dice, Probabilities, Bluff, Filler] {6P:10, 5P:9} {Ravensburger Edition: Bluff by Richard Borg} Raucous filler for a lot of players. Sometimes, winning depends on where you end up sitting. If you have a lot of aggressive bidders before you in the turn order, you're in pretty good shape. Completely random, but you're playing with a bunch of dice so what do you expect? As always, a basic grasp of probability helps a bit. It's the party aspect of the game that keeps it enjoyable, and a good deal better than other pure dice games that try to be a little more serious (like Can't Stop). Yell "Bullshit" as loud as crisply as you can when challenging a bid! :-) ***UPDATE: After I acquired a copy of Bluff, we've played it almost every time we meet up. It's unquestionably one of the best fillers / light games available. The rating is for the Ravensburger Bluff edition, which is top-notch in terms of components, even if the box contains mostly air (love the black box though). Every home should have a copy of Bluff.
2005-08-15*
7
Jul 2006*
6.714
Wishlist(3)
 (Like to have)
Plays: 1
[Cooperative, Hand Management] {5P:7, 4P:7, 3P:6, 2P:5, 1P:5} Groundbreaking in its cooperational design, this is probably one of the good Doctor's most flavorful offerings. It's a perfect way to present the struggle to get the One Ring to Mount Doom.
2006-07-11*
5
Aug 2005*
5.674
Plays: 2
This is what Trivial Pursuit should have been. Chris Petersen takes some of the 'feel' of Knizia's groundbreaking LOTR design and turns a trivia game into an adventure-trivia game complete with resource management and special abilities. Fun while the questions last. Once they start repeating, then the rating will drop considerably. *** UPDATE: Well, when you've been through all the questions, all that's left is a downgrade. Honestly, the questions uniformity isn't all that fantastic, but the least they could have done was make sure that there was a really obscure question on each card for Final Jeopardy.
2005-08-28*
7
Aug 2006*
6.871
Wishlist(3)
 (Like to have)
This expansion to Reinier Knizia's groundbreaking Lord of the Rings boardgame adds a mechanic of fighting and defeating the dark denizens of Middle Earth to the mix. Personally, it doesn't really fit the theme, considering that you're all hobbits, who would much rather hide and sneak than fight. I'd reject the 'Military Victory' condition altogether. C'mon, we gotta destroy the One Ring here. Still, if you can get past the theme bending, the mechanic works. Still, it's not an essential add-on to the main LOTR game.
2006-08-03*
6
Aug 2006*
6.441
Wishlist(3)
 (Like to have)
This expansion adds the shadow of Sauron to the base LOTR game of Dr. Knizia. While it adds an ingenious mechanic in the Dark Rider, it ultimately lengthens the game and causes it to overstay its welcome more often than not. It does add some tension. While not a terrible addition, it shifts the LOTR game from its pasttime classification into something less easily accessible. Winning becomes especially difficult with a crafty player at the controls of Sauron. Buyer beware.
2006-08-03*
7
Aug 2005*
7.029
Owned
Plays: 11
[Combat, Hand management, Special Powers, Asymmetric] {2P:7} Excellent expansion of the Stratego framework into something deeper. Again, Knizia uses the LOTR license to good effect, producing an involving two-player game that's well-worth an addition to any game library. The power of the individual pieces are evocative of the Tolkeinish character which it represents. The cards are a welcome addition, and allow some play off the pieces. Even the board, which is certainly not a map of Middle Earth, has some usable features (Moria, the river). Play value is pretty high at the beginning while players figure out strategies for both sides, which have proven to be very well balanced, if very different in temperament. it may fall off as the game becomes more familoiar, but I expect that the game will have significant long-term residual play value. Recommended. *** UPDATE: Finally bit the bullet and dropped LOTR:TC into what will likely be its final rating. It's not deep enough for the higher ratings, but its long-term "occasional play" value is enough to earn it a permanent berth in any game collection.
2005-08-15*
Lost Cities (1999)
4
Apr 2005*
7.042
A light and fast filler by the good Doctor Knizia. The pasted-on theme notwithstanding, Lost Cities is an enjoyable set-collecting diversion that is one of the best two-player games around. Recommended for any gamer's library. *** UPDATE: This game is starting to hurt due to the better 2P games available now. Its decisions just aren't much fun anymore. Can do a lot better as 2P fillers go. Note though that it's still recommended for non-gaming folk, due to its simplicity and non-threateningness (is that a word?). Just don't expect it to hold you attention for long. It might, just don't expect it to. You might be disappointed.
2005-04-10*
Louis XIV (2005)
8
Jun 2006*
6.933
Owned
[Resource Management, Area Majority] [4P:8, 3P:7] Hey, not bad for what is, on the suface, an area control game. Area control is just a median mechanism. The heart of the game is a cute, sort-of-complicated-and-clunky resource system which has the player trying to navigate an equation of converting time (represented by influence cards) into victory points (represented by coats-of-arms and mission cards). Everyone starts with four influence cards to play, then tries to parley those cards into more cards and resources via the "board" abilities and mission card advantages. It feels a lot like Goa, interestingly, replacing the auctions with the area majority engine. The aim is the same - generate more actions and resources by investing wisely - sort of like the Extra Actions and Development Tracks in Goa. Yes, there is quite a bit of randomness/luck here, what with four different card draws (money, influence, intrigue, and especially mission) and the coat of arms chit pulls. A lot's been made about the coat of arms chits, but I suspect the mission card draws influence the game far more than the couple of VPs that lucky majorities in coats of arms will give you. I don't mind the randomess because the resource relationships are so interesting. Overall, it's a nice little game in a nice little box. *** UPDATE: OK, so we underestimated this game. It's by far the most difficult Eurogame we have ever played. The timing and rhythm of the game gives me fits, and the confrontation within the game is very bloody. Ouch. You're not getting anything elegant here; it's a bunch of clockwork parts that you have to try to get moving with precision, or else you're really going to get screwed. There's only one way to win in this game, and it's to win brutally and ugly. Fits the game theme of politicking and intrigue to a T. I can't think of any other game I've played that's anywhere near the character of Louis XIV. This is a heavier-than-mediumweight game in the class of 5P Puerto Rico (okay, it's heavier than that), with about as much elegance (which is saying not much). Good game, worth owning and playing, but I like Goa a lot more due to the premium I put on game elegance. *** UPDATE: Definitely gets better the more the players are familiar with the game and the abilities conferred by the tiles and the mission cards. Very strong effort from Dorn, certainly just as impressive as Goa.

(Old pre-acquisition commentary follows)
March 2005. Rudiger Dorn + alea + renaissance theme = add to game library. Have high hopes that the usual alea production values will improve the look of the game from the Essen 04 pix. "Mid-sized" box a slight concern - would have been more comfortable if it was a big box release, screw the extra $. But with this title now tag-teaming with the Knizia title "Palazzo" as a 1-2 opening punch, this new mid-sized game line looks like it'll get some serious push. *** UPDATE: With Im Schatten and Turmzau falling by the wayside, this is now my top want along with Palazzo. I hear area majority, but not 1st 2nd 3rd, plus I hear "luck of the draw", "strange scoring" and "lots and lots of options". Sounds good, sign me up. (UPDATE: Just acquired! Yeah!)
2006-06-17*
Die Macher (1986)
ImageID 105831
9
Oct 2006*
7.369
Owned
[Planning, Resource Management, Negotiation, Bidding, Political] [4P:9, 5P:9] *** Preliminary rating. Definite '10' potential, but it'll take a while and certainly a few more plays. Favorable comparisons from my gaming buddies to PR and PoF, from both a mechanism and stylistic standpoint. I have a better one. Macher's nature and rhythm, among all the games I've played, is closest to Kramer & Kiesling's Maharaja. You're planning and executing 4 elections simultaneously, and trying your darndest to insulate yourself from the inherent chaos of the game system while keeping your timing and resources as straight as possible. You're trying to make sure that you get close to your desired result in every region that matters, whether or not someone whacks you with a bad opinion poll when that region becomes current. (Or outright insulating yourself with media control, which is expensive to set up, but even more expensive for your opponents to undo when they choose to.) I would equate this to being able to do what you plan to do in Maharaja regardless of what hijinks people pull with your character card and the governor track. What Macher has over Maharaja is many, many more paths to victory at the cost of a significantly higher fiddle factor. However, given the theme the whole thing works, and in a surprisingly elegant manner despite all the moving parts.

In short, I (or should I say we) like it a lot, and I can see us polishing off a full game in 3-4 hours once we have the whole thing down and can take turns rapidly a-la Goa at full throttle. Clearly an "only game of the night" situation, but that was how it was when we first started playing 5P PR years ago (we were averaging 3.5 hours a game early on, and we still take 2.5 hours today).

The only trouble we had rules-wise was with the exchange pool. Playing it with Schmeil's "flood the pool" rules was rather counterintuitive, but in the end I guess it follows theme-wise since issues do get more muddled as elections get close to climax.

*** #1 Most Wanted Game. Rabidly recommended by my Geekbuddies - 8.39(!) rating, 18 ratings, rated only behind Puerto Rico, The Princes of Florence and Euphrat & Tigris. Now that's a foolproof recommendation.
2006-10-18*
10
Oct 2005*
7.309
Owned
Plays: 5
[Collectible Card Game, Hand Management, Deckbuilding, Metagame, Fantasy, Best Game Ever] {2P:10, 4P Ettins:10, 3+P Mass Melee:8, Limited Booster Draft:10, Limited Sealed Deck:5, Limited Solomon Draft:10, Limited Rochester Draft:7} {Thousands of cards, beginning with Beta and ending with Weatherlight}

The most brilliant game ever created.

Don't confuse the game with the tournament environment / collector's market. Judge it on what it is: the creator of a genre, the savior of many a game store, and, perhaps, the true gamer's gateway game in more ways than Settlers of Catan ever was. Too many people believe that you need to have current tournament-class decks to play the game. That's pure and unadulterated hogwash. You don't need a Black Lotus or an Ancestral Recall to play Magic or have fun. You don't need to buy the latest expansion if you don't want to. An investment of $10 on a few thousand assorted commons and uncommons is enough for hours and hours of enjoyment. The land cards can probably be had for free! Make that your pool of cards. Everyone drafts from that pool, or just divvy up the cards by color and start building decks! If you want to get into the competition scene, you do so with open eyes and an empty wallet. Blaming the game, the game designer, and the company (Wizards of the Coast) is just plain stupid. What, they *forced* you to buy the game? They made it so that you can no longer play with the cards you have? Of course not. What's driving that desire, if you have it, is yourself and your lack of self-control. How do I know? I played MtG a lot years ago, when still engaged in competitive play. Gave it up, sold the big value cards, but still own thousands of them. I got out by choice, due to constraints on time, primarily, but the money saved was nice too. No regrets about playing at competition level. Fifteen years later, will happily play a pick up game when asked. MtG remains one of the most remarkable feats of game design and commercialization in the history of games. If there was ever a game that deserved a '10', unclouded by the prejudice of needing to have the latest greatest and priciest deck in order to have fun, then MtG is it. The game is one of the greatest in history; it not only defined a new category of games (and how many games can claim that?), it also singlehandedly got millions of people playing games face-to-face again. This is a '10' if there ever was one. For me, that will never change. ***UPDATE: Just played with the new Ravnika set, booster draft format. 10. If there was an 11 I'd give MtG that rating. Really hard to see how any other game can measure up in comparison.
2005-10-18*
Magna Grecia (2003)
7
Jan 2006*
6.092
Owned
[Connection, Resource management] *** comments forthcoming *** [Recommended by my Geekbuddies (10 ratings, 7.30 average; supporters - Derk, Mary, Justin, Eric; dissenters - Joe, Angela, Jim; Even the dissenters, and Doug, feel that it's a good brainburner with a hideous board) [Now next on my buylist - you will be mine, my preciousssss....] (Well, Magna Grecia is now indeed mine. Thanks Mary.)]
2006-01-07*
2
Feb 2004*
5.904
Plays: 1
Ugh. Completely luck-driven game that's broken so many ways that the king's men would be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together first. If you never draw the cards you need, you're left discarding and drawing. Wow, fun. Would have been better as a CCG, but even then it would have been utter trash. Stay away. FAR away.
2004-02-01*
8
Nov 2005*
6.949
Owned
[Planning, Blind Actions, Area Majority, Special Powers] [4P:8, 5P:8] Hm. I thought that I wouldn't like this at all due to the chaos inherent in the system, but it's not that bad. The chaos comes primarily from players choosing the "swap character" action, which can affect the turn order and access to the special abilities. If you can deal with that, it's not too bad since players can't directly affect each others' board positions (unlike in, say, El Grande). The blind actions are also something I'm not enamored of, but since in this game the players' actions are mostly independent in effect, it's tolerable. The depth of the game is sort of questionable though, since there's only one way to win (build palaces) and only one real way to get there (generate top dog cash from Maharaja scoring, the income from houses on the roads and the ATM action is dicey). Still primarily a tactical game. Would play again, particularly with the Yogi to see how banking actions would affect the game. *** UPDATE: Hey, not bad as long as people don't dither on about their actions. The only way to avoid all the chaos in the upcoming turn is to plan for the next three turns. Still haven't played a game with serious monkeying by a lot of players of the governor track, which I think is one of the keys (if not THE key) to the game. I believe Maharaja has a play ceiling, but at this point I'm still happy to play. The only concern I really have at this point is that when people get used to the strange mechanisms and inherent chaos, is that you'll end up with a Power Grid style endgame, with two or three people building out and the outcome being decided by cash. Oh well, that's why I think it's got a ceiling. *** UPDATE: In retrospect, I quite underestimated Maharaja. It's a remarkable, different design from most Eurogames and it feels fresh every time it hits the table. The Kramer/Kiesling parnership has produced a lot of very nice games, and Maharaja is no exception. This one took some time and several plays to grow on me, and now I'm very pleased that I own it. Who'd have thunk I'd think this highly of a game with a blind action selection mechanism up front? I still think that the game ending and game winning conditions could be better, and that's what's holding the game back from getting a higher rating from me. However, Maharaja's main engine is easily good enough to make it worth playing regardless. Recommended for those who look to rise above chaos and plan against all eventualities.
2005-11-27*
Mahjong (1850)
5
Aug 2005*
6.791
Don't trust the description - there's nothing like mah-jongg for money. Even penny ante is better than no ante at all. Haven't played mah-jongg seriously in a while, but it's easy to find a game at all-night house parties and funerals among the older people. Not something young people, especially gamers, play around these parts. I can still play the game, but see no reason to these days. There are some absolutely gorgeous mah-jongg sets out there. We had one carved out of jade that came in a felt-topped teakwood mah-jongg table (with money drawers and four beautifully-carved wooden cushioned seats).
2005-08-28*
Mamma Mia! (1999)
4
Mar 2005*
6.350
A pizza ingredient memory game, with a twist. Since a player can fulfill recipe requirements using cards from his hand, it throws a wrench into the proceedings. I suppose it's always best to assume that a recipe will be completed when you play your own recipe card. Not bad for a memory game, but it does have a good dose of luck in it and it breaks down with more than four players so this is as high as I can go for it.
2005-03-27*
Mancala (1944)
4
Aug 2004*
5.748
Traditional puzzle-type game with no luck involved. One of those games that almost everyone knows (or at least it used to be that way) in this part of the world. Sets around here are usually carved from heavy wood, with seashells as the pieces. Nice in an ethnic sort of way. Sort of boring, but certainly not bad for an abstract.
2004-08-25*
Marbles (-3000)
3
May 2004*
5.257
Crokinole's ancestor? Fun for kids, now terribly dated for a modern world where kids choose between their Playstations, surfing the web, and making out.
2004-05-11*
Mare Nostrum (2003)
4
Aug 2004*
6.485
Pretty board, pretty bits, but severely lacking in gameplay. The combat in particular is lackluster, and the game map's layout leaves something to be desired in terms of offering strategic options when waging war. Seems they needed to playtest this game a bit more. Too bad, it still looks good.
2004-08-13*
Mastermind (1971)
2
Jan 2006*
5.412
This classic shows its age. It was a good way to burn some miles on a long car trip, but not anymore. The epitome of "dry as a bone". (No, it's not broken, but it's barely a game. It's more like a really old puzzle.)
2006-01-02*
Medina (2001)
7
Jan 2006*
6.732
Owned
["Tile" placement] [4P:7] Nice looking, but frustrating game of building stuff with wooden bits. No tension to the game at all. Discourages aggression; the best strategy is purely defensive. Be aggressive, and lose impressively. Might give this another chance later. *** UPDATE: Thanks to Linnaeus, ekted and Jim_P, got to play Medina again on BSW. Needless to say, the '4' was way off base. Upped to 7, will play again if given the chance. *** UPDATE: What's been bugging me is the lack of theme here. You're just putting down palace blocks and walls, which is fine, but people? And the tower scoring doesn't make a lot of sense from a thematic context. A point off for that. *** UPDATE: Okay, back up to a final rating of 7. This is the best example of a game using "negative timing" to create tension. It helps that it also has fantastic HiG production values. Probably Dorra's best work ever. Definitely worth a look to gamers who are partialy to thinky-type games.
2006-01-26*
Memoir '44 (2004)
4
Sep 2005*
7.407
Plays: 3
[Dice rolling for combat, Random card draws for commands, World War II, Kid's Game] [2P:4, 8P Overlord:4] Okay, so it's Battle Cry with a WWII theme. How is it better than BC? Some of the mechanics have changed to accomodate the change of military eras, enhancing the flavor of the game, but it's not superior to BC. It's tactical-level simplified lightweight abstract combat in WWII. Works for some, but not for me. Great bits from DoW as usual, but since WWII-era toy figures are common, it's not as visually stunning as some of DoW's other work. Some Geek will doubtlessly go on and paint the figures just like Battle Cry. You can see it coming: rating is the same as Battle Cry - '4' for a nice, simple distraction with no depth and very limited replay value. Don't play more than one game at a time, or it becomes *really* annoying...
2005-09-13*
7
Mar 2006*
6.324
Owned
Yet another Reiner-blends-mechanisms-into-a-good-game thing going on here. The Dutch auction clock is certainly a gimmick, but it works in this context. The game's face is deceptive - there's a lot going on and it's not easy to keep track of the value of cards coming up for bid. And yes, it is indeed easy to overbid but that should correct itself with experience. Looks like a keeper.
2006-03-25*
Metro (1997)
5
Aug 2005*
6.236
A simple tile-laying game where players try to complete station-to-station connections to score points. The longer the rail, the higher the score. Fun for a while, but no staying power.
2005-08-28*
Meuterer (2000)
7
Mar 2006*
6.685
Owned
[Hand Management, Pirates, Role Selection] {4P:7, 3P: 4} Should have been a boardgame. Interesting role-changing mechanic. The pirate theme does a lot for it too. Loads of fun, and challenging on a strategic level as well. Do not play with less than four players! *** UPDATE: The problem with being only playable with 4 is that you rarely see Meuterer since there are so many other games that are great with 4. Still a nice game to have, though.
2006-03-16*
Mexica (2002)
7
Sep 2005*
6.709
Owned
[Action Point Game, Tile-laying, Spatial, Area Majority] {4P:8, 3P:7, 2P:5} Excellent game, a worthy addition to the Action Point series. It's more challenging and has more depth than Tikal, and is faster and leaner than Java (though it lacks Java's amazing depth). The heart of the game is zipping your Mexica around the board in order to found neighborhoods and construct monuments. To enable your Mexica to do this, you need to set up waterways (or use the ones set up by your opponents, which is even better). There's also a lot of opportunity to play defensively; blocking your opponents from big scores is an important part of the game. I'd rate Mexica as an excellent middleweight German game, around the same weight as Torres, but a bit less elegant and cool. That's ok, it's still cool enough to be in the collections of most German game fans. *** UPDATE: Ok, it's not that good with 2, but it's still good with 3 and it's very good with 4. That makes it the third-best game in a 4-title bunch in my book, and that's still pretty damned decent.
2005-09-07*
Middle-Earth (1995)
6
Aug 2005*
6.542
Owned
An excellent CCG faithful to the books rather than the films which appeared five years later. ICE was unable to support the game, however, and it vanished rather suddenly from the market. Far more complicated than most CCGs, including MtG, but it did a great job of being Tolkeinish. Sadly, this complexity apparently kept the main CCG-consuming segment of the market, the kiddies, away from the game. Shame, this could have been the second banana to MtG, which is damn good. If you can find some cards, grab them, this is a very good game. I wish someone would take the game off ICE's hands and produce a non-collectible version. I'd snap that up in a sec. This is only a six for scarcity of the game and of players; it could easily have been an eight, at least, with a stronger base.
2005-08-15*
Mille Bornes (1954)
3
Aug 2004*
5.598
Filler game, totally random. Fun in spurts, but there are much better games to fill 20 minutes.
2004-08-13*
Modern Art (1992)
7
Oct 2005*
7.183
Owned
Plays: 14
[Auction, Art, Prisoner's Dilemma] {5P:7, 4P:8, 3P:4} A deliciously complex bidding game, as one might expect from THE designer with a doctorate in mathematics, RK. The varying auction modes are maddening. Will clearly get better with more plays. *** Update: Now that I finally own this sucker, and am getting to play it more, it's clearly better than initially thought. Rating up to 8. Thanks for the reprint, Mayfair! *** UPDATE: Ok, this is now a nine, partly because I can't figure it out, partly because I can't win, and partly because I truly believe I should be able to figure it out and yet can't. Welcome to the demigods, Modern Art, I'm glad I go to know you this intimately. Now in the same exclusive class as Taj Mahal - "Games Fawkes Sucks At But Loves Anyway" *** UPDATE: Now I understand you Modern Art, and I understand your greatness. You don't feel like a 10, because there's not enough going on, but for a non-heavy game, I think you're as good as it ever gets. 9.5, and if you're still played as heavily in a year as you are now, then I'll be able to make you a 10. *** UPDATE: Back to 8.5, burning out (might not be the game's fault tho). Or rather, I think I'll now settle on an 8. MA is an exercise in Game Theory with incomplete information, in an almost-pure form. My group is playing very, very loose, and is creating runaway winners. The lack of depth shows in this case, as there are no other roads to victory, and no way to mitigate the looseness of the bids. *** UPDATE: Well, Modern Art's weakness is found in the 'weak/greedy player syndrome' that screws games. I think that part of my frustration is that I can see the game theory effects clearly as the game is going, and am frustrated by loose play. Modern Art remains an excellent game, but the frustration takes its toll. Am still glad I own it, and would still recommend it to anyone. If you know any game theory, keep your cool. =P ***UPDATE: Modern Art doesn't work well with 3P. It's ok with 5, but like many other German games it's best with 4 due to the added control.
2005-10-02*
Monopoly (1933)
3
Oct 2004*
4.394
Owned
The classic still hits the table on occasion. We use a boatload of houserules though, designed to increase dealmaking and negotiation and to reduce the luck of the dieroll. However, due to the time it takes to play a game compared to a modern Euro, Monopoly is never a popular pick on gameday. *** UPDATE: Who am I kidding? I'm never going to play this ever again!However, it's certainly not broken - just really long for what it is, with no interesting decisions to be made. And random random random. Sort of like Settlers.
2004-10-21*
4
Jul 2005*
5.844
Kid's game centering on the Japanese monster genre. Predictably, it's a depthless dicefest with no redeeming values for anyone older than twelve. Take a look at it if you have kids in that age range, otherwise don't bother.
2005-07-30*
Munchkin (2001)
3
Apr 2005*
5.867
This was funny exactly once, and I'm a D&D vet of 20 years! It rapidly went downhill after that. One play and done. I can imagine how it would go over with a crowd of players who never played D&D: it probably won't. Without the funny, it's just another random game that takes too damned long to play out. I'd rather lop my own head off with a Holy Avenger +5 than play Munchkin again.
2005-04-26*
3
Mar 2005*
6.420
The "evolution" of Clue... and not in a good way. Deduction games are fun once in a while, and this one has a bit more entertainment value for its "silly" factor (especially when the chanting event card shows up), but it doesn't really grab me (and I don't expect it to). Too bad, because the board is gorgeous, typical of Days of Wonder. *** UPDATE: The huge randomness in the game damages its deduction aspect so much that its game element is no improvement Clue, despite being prettier and more entertaining. Bad idea. Will have to check out Sleuth...
2005-03-15*
3
Oct 2004*
6.562
(Columbia edition) Not even close to the brilliance of Wizard Kings and Hammer of the Scots. Degenerates into a massing of troops culminating in a huge schmozz. The G2 version supposedly didn't have this problem, but can't confirm or refute that. With all the better alternatives, can't see giving this another shot.
2004-10-09*
Netrunner (1996)
6
Aug 2005*
6.935
Owned
[Collectible Card Game, Cyberpunk, Science Fiction, Asymmetric] {2P:6} {Three dual starters, a dozen boosters} Perhaps the best "other" CCG that Wizards of the Coast has ever put out (note they bought Legend of the Five Rings, they didn't develop it). Netrunner was interesting in that one player was the Corporation, trying to keep the other player, the Netrunner, out of its systems. Had some balance problems, and died a quick death. The balance problems stemmed more from the asymmetric style of play that was a bit more complex than many CCGers had the patience for. It was like learning two games. It was also like buying two games right off the bat (the dual starters cost the same as, well, almost two starters). Finally, deckbuilding wasn't as intersting as its famous rock star older cousin, Magic: the Gathering, since the theme and gameplay didn't support it. Thus, Netrunner was a commercial flop. That was too bad, as Netrunner had very thematic, innovative gameplay that became more interesting as you played it more. The problem was that as you played it more, the play became a bit monotonous as there were only two ways for each side to win. The Corp either flatlined the runner by dealing damage (unlikely) or won by amassing agenda. The runner won by running the Corp out of cards (unlikely) or by amassing agendas. I'm still a fan of the idea and the theme, but never got into the game due to the disinterest of everyone else, and missed the two expansions. (Good thing, as I hear Proteus was even more unbalancing.) Oh well, something to revisit at some point. I think Netrunner, out of the box, would hold up well alongside many of the current-day 2P German games.
2005-08-15*
Nexus Ops (2005)
3
Nov 2005*
7.101
Eh, dicefest with little or no strategy involved. Decent enough game to play with your kids in their early teens, I suppose, but replay value is probably pretty low.
2005-11-04*
Niagara (2004)
3
Jul 2005*
6.432
Wow, it won the SdJ. Ick. Anyway, Niagara is a strange turkey - player move their boats up and down the Niagara, trying to pick up gems and deliver them to port. They try to avoid getting their boats tossed down the falls, and gems can be stolen. All in all, this game is a chaotic mess that takes too damned long. When playing with the max number of players and everyone plays defensively, Niagara can take two hours to complete. The heck? It rubbed me the wrong way so much that I won't play it again anytime soon. Too bad, it looks great and all, but I can't stand it.
2005-07-09*
No Thanks! (2004)
3
Jul 2006*
6.938
Featherlight filler. Bo-ring. Why play this when you can play something like Sticheln or High Society? It might be slightly better if played with open information, but it's still far too simple to be interesting, even if it only lasts a few minutes.
2006-07-11*
2
Aug 2004*
N/A
Roll and move. Roll and move. Roll this into the "get rid of" bin and move directly away from it.
2004-08-30*
1
Mar 2005*
6.374
Plays: 1
Takes a certain mood to play this correctly. And I object to the winning condition - if a good yarn is told, then everyone wins. Doesn't really matter who uses all their cards first, as that's easy to do if you don't really care if what you're saying makes sense or not. *** UPDATE: Okay, okay. It's not a game. It's a tool for interactive storytelling. If it's played as a game, and winning quickly is what the players are focused on, OUaT blows up rather impressively. Nothing to see here if you're looking for a game, carry on. If you're looking for something to help the creatively-challenged tell a story, then look this pack of cards up. (Honestly, if you had more imagination then OUaT would be fairly useless. Just tell the story - you don't need this knights-and-ladies crutch to stick your creativity in a very small box.) Needless to say, even as an interactive storytelling exercise, this OUaT thingy is extremely group dependent.
2005-03-27*
Othello (1883)
3
Feb 2005*
5.945
Old school. Trumped by new age takes on its base mechanism. Yinsh is better by leaps and bounds.
2005-02-03*
Paris Paris (2003)
7
Sep 2005*
5.927
Owned
[Route connection, Tile drafting] [4P:7, 3P:7, 2P:6] Strange little Schacht game. Has the requisite streak of chaos and randomness, but there's a few quirks in the system that make it just a bit interesting for a couple of plays. However, the lack of depth makes the title suffer, and it's not even as good as the mediocre KUK. Nothing I'd want to go back to. *** UPDATE: Hey, I was wrong. I guess it takes a different set of players, who are willing to be vicious and calculating. Paris^2, played as a lightweight tactical game (yes, with a bit of luck), is a pretty nice palate-cleanser without the fluff of the usual fillers. There's a largish bit of luck in the game end Grand Tours, but let's see how we can fix that with a house rule. (Looks like Mike did it himself. See the BGG links.) Schacht delivered this one, almost under my nose. I'll have to give China a look now, at the very least.
2005-09-07*
3
May 2004*
4.606
Played a lot as a kid, but this is sort of borderline as a dex game no?
2004-05-11*
Pickomino (2005)
4
Nov 2005*
6.377
[Dice rolling, Set collection] Stripped-down Reiner dice game. Players collect sets of dice rolls to claim numbered tiles from a common pool or from other players. The rhythm of the game has a player rolling several times on his turn, instead of the more familiar "roll once or twice and pass the dice" system that provides a better cadence (cf. Clash of the Gladiators, Bluff). It's this lack of a good, steady rhythm of dice rolling around the table that tanks Heckmeck as a light filler game. It might have a bit of value as a 2P game, but considering the options out there, why bother?
2005-11-19*
Pictionary (1985)
5
Nov 2005*
5.747
[Party game, Drawing] Still a pretty good party game, especially if the teams are good at drawing, guessing or both.
2005-11-27*
Piranha Pedro (2004)
3
Mar 2005*
5.879
(Played online on BSW) Piranha Pedro is a silly little game where 2-6 players move a sombrero-headed fellow around with cards played simultaneously. Yep, it's the Adel Verpflichtet blind action mechanism. It's ok, this is supposedly a family game (your kids will enjoy feeding Pedro to the fishies), so the multiplayer blind chaos is tolerable to that audience. It's sorta funny seeing (imagining?) Pedro's flesh being consumed by hungry carnivorous fishes, but I would have serious doubts about the shelf life of this game for any audience. (However, not being a member of this target audience, I could be mistaken. Still, after three online plays, I think I'm done with it.) And by the way, in this game, ONE player LOSES, and everyone else wins. Sure, single out the victim of the whole chaotic mess. It's not like he/she had any control over it. I hope the price point of the Goldseiber Big Box (this is a big box game? could be the real stones they're giving you for your money...) isn't too high, because you're not getting much game in it.
2005-03-21*
Pirate's Cove (2002)
3
Sep 2005*
6.481
Plays: 3
[Bliond action selection, Dice rolling for combat, Pirates] [5P:3, 4P:3] A fun middleweight game to play when the group is in mood for a low-investment dicefest. The theme is the best thing about the game, so don't expect great gameplay. Replay value is suspect, and 12 turns may be a bit too long. *** UPDATE: Whee, I've hit the ceiling for this game, which for me was about half-a-dozen plays. Now, it's becoming increasingly annoying, boring and repetitive all rolled into one. It was bound to happen - blind actions and die rolling to not contribute to longevity. No longer any desire to revisit whatsoever.
2005-09-13*
2
Aug 2004*
5.786
Plays: 2
Both rating points for the nice ships. Zero points for the "game", because there isn't one. PotSM makes Wings of War feel like Puerto Rico. Clearly, the publishers put more thought into making the ships as cool as possible, and spent little or no time on the gameplay itself. Given that James Ernest was involved, this may be another instance of his rules being mangled beyond recognition. Anyway, it's pointless picking up more than a couple of packs (just to see the ships) since there's not much you can do with the game rules. As usual, the public gets to beta test a collectible game that's not at all ready for the market. (Fawkes recommends "Wings of War" instead.)
2004-08-24*
Pit (1903)
2
Nov 2004*
6.294
Is there a game at all in this chaotic mess? I have chaos issues with KKK, and it's not half as crazy as Pit. Let me know all the games descended from this structureless disaster - it'll save me the effort of trying them and hating them.
2004-11-08*
Poker (1810)
2
Feb 2004*
6.549
Bluffing =/= Skill, therefore, this is all about luck. Or card-counting. Or cheating. In any case, pass.
2004-02-05*
Power Grid (2004)
6
Jan 2006*
7.920
Owned
[Auction, Network Connection, Economic] {6P:5, 5P:7, 4P:7, 3P:6, 2P:5} Recommended by my Geekbuddies (17 ratings, 8.38 average) - [Played both on BSW and F2F; have played with 2,3,4,5 and 6] - Power Grid is an interesting game. It looks great, reading the rules gives one a feeling of substance, and actually playing the game is interesting. However, I felt that it doesn't impart the tension and angst that the *great* gamers' games do. The mechanisms of the game feel unelegant and clunky, like they were cobbled together. The whole player order thing feels a bit "engineered". And this seems to be a game that almost always has a winner determined by the first tiebreaker (cash on hand), simply because the victory condition (cities powered) is something that more than one player can attain with a bit of planning. However, I can't deny that despite all this, the groups I played with were impressed and generally had fun. For me, it was OK, a pretty good game that I would play any time, but it's definitely not a top-tier offering in the class of Puerto Rico, Princes of Florence and Euphrat & Tigris. (On rereading - how can comments on a good game sound so negative? Oh well, maybe it was the high expectations. Not a huge favorite, but extremely versatile and replayable, especially when the expansion maps are released.) *** UPDATE: Power Grid has been getting heavy F2F play, and while it's become a favorite of some of my gaming group, it's slipped just a bit more in my eyes. After people grasped the concepts of the game, we've been falling into the dreaded "Step 2 Stall" where no one wants to connect 7 until plant capacity is near or at 17, and where the best thing to do is nothing. You can tell that several turns of doing nothing but firing existing plants makes for a really boring midgame while players wait for the "permanent" (capacity 5 & 6) plants to appear in the market. You go through the drudgery of crappy plants cycling away and no connections for several turns while players stockpile cash. Sound strategy, but freaking boring. Down to a 7.
2006-01-09*
6
Jul 2006*
7.470
Owned
(I guess you gotta have the extra maps if you have the base game.) [Acquired]
2006-07-12*
10
Jul 2006*
7.503
Owned
Plays: 13
[Auction/Action, Planning, Art/Renaissance] {3P:9, 4P:10, 5P:10} This is my favorite German game. The Princes of Florence is a beautiful and elegant Kramer/Ulrich masterpiece. Its design incorporates strategy, multiple roads to victory and a fun and immersive theme. The game itself is a wonderful sight to behold, done in the style of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks and drawings. Outside of its outstanding auction, interaction between players is subtle but as effective as direct conflict. The game works well for all three player configurations. The five-player game is an exercise in dealing with great demand for scarce resources; it is tight and exciting. The four player game is an exercise in plan execution and adjustments; it is fast, fun and addictive. The three-player configuration is an exercise in economy and perfection; it is relaxing and enjoyable. Alas, The Princes of Florence cannot accomodate just two players, but that would be asking for too much. This game cannot be faulted; it is an amazing and exemplary design. ***UPDATE: Reaffirming my 10 rating, and deep appreciation of PoF. It's still the most elegant game I've laid hands, eyes and mind on. While I enjoy playing it online, the experience is diminished. Will suggest this game anytime, anywhere. *** UPDATE: I've written a strategy article. I've played close to a hundred games online. I've played a couple dozen games F2F. I've played three games in a row both F2F AND online. And I still want to play this game more. It's the first game I look for on BSW. It's the first game I suggest on game night, unless there's a new game begging to be tried. If there's a better Eurogame than The Princes of Florence, it hasn't been made yet. Exquisite. *** UPDATE: Will acquire new Quined multi-language edition as backup copy. My alea edition is pretty banged up after so many plays, with many more to come. Was going to get another alea, so might as well get a different edition of my only 10-rated Eurogame.
2006-07-11*
6
Aug 2005*
6.901
Plays: 1
I have a single major complaint about this game: the auction mechanism becomes dull and repetitive over the course of the game, no matter how many entertaining wars are fought. It's a big fly in the ointment of an interesting game. Another, less annoying but nonetheless significant problem is the method of ending the decade - by auctioning off all four event tiles. The extremes that are possible with that method are game-wrecking. If one player has the mind to, he can choose the event tiles four turns in a row, ending the whole game in twelve turns. Or no one picks them and the game drags on. Too bad, the theme is interesting, and the condottieri auction is a blast. *** UPDATE: No change in my opinion of the game. If you can withstand the nonstop bidding, then the appeal of PotR is unquestionable. it has many interesting paths to victory and several strategies to pursue. However, I wish that there had been an extra mechanism or two to bring some respite from or to break up the monotony of the bidding. The simple die-rolling for combat isn't enough. I'd probably play PotR if asked, but would prefer many other games of its weight and length.
2005-08-15*
Pueblo (2002)
9
Aug 2005*
6.501
Owned
[Spatial, Building, Cooperative/Antagonistic, Time Management] {2P:9, 3P:9, 4P:9} A breath of fresh air. Pueblo is a game about Master Builders trying to outdo each other while building a Pueblo out of identical bricks. They need to hide the bricks of their signature color, or the old Elder Shaman will Shame them for being too prideful. The story of this game always brings a smile to me. It's original, it fits the mechanisms and the game presentation, and it really works to make the game fun and interesting. No one wants to be shamed! Or, you can tell the Peeping Tom story instead. This Kramer/Kiesling creation looks like a toy when you open the box. After reading through the simple rules and playing a few turns, players are quick to discover it's definitely NOT a toy. It's an excellent spatial recognition and forward planning mediumweight game. Do not overlook this underrated, largely undiscovered gem. *** UPDATE: After several more plays, including the advanced version with the taboo sites, my opinion of this game has increased. I'm sure it's got a lot to do with its uniqueness, and the change of pace it provides from the usual German staples of investment, trading, auction and hand/resource management games. At this point, I think I'll be playing Pueblo regularly for a very long time. However, I still don't understand the Tetris comparisons. Tetris is a 2D game where the objective is to fit the pieces to complete a row and have it disappear, keeping the structure from getting taller. Pueblo is nothing like that. See my review for the skinny, eh?
2005-08-15*
Puerto Rico (2002)
8
Apr 2007*
8.047
Owned
Plays: 21
[System Game, Economic, Investment] {2P:8, 3P:6, 4P:10, 5P:6} Amazing game of economics and interaction. Puerto Rico is fairly simple, plays quickly, and is deeply thought-provoking. It scales beautifully from two to five players (it's best with five). It's not really "deep" in the traditional sense, but timing is the main cog to the variability of the game. You'll be talking about games after they end, then want to play again immediately. Elegant mechanics, multiple roads to victory, interesting strategy and subtle yet vicious tactics make this a must-have for any German gamer. ***UPDATE: Affirming my 10 rating for PR. Still fantastic, 120 plays later. However, I no longer believe that I can label PR as the "deepest game of all time", or even as the "greatest game of all time". It's simply one of the best that I have played, but I cannot hold it above E&T, PoF and MtG. Regardless, it is an obligatory addition to any gamer's library. *** UPDATE: Dropped from 10 to 9 due to weaknesses in the 3P and 5P games, which magnify the weak player syndrome and detract from the enjoyment of the game. E&T and PoF do not have this adjacency problem. PR is still a great game, but it's not in the class of E&T and PoF. *** UPDATE: Ok, after playing a ludicrous number of games of PR I'm pretty sure that the 3P and 5P games of PR are simply not balanced. You're liable to get whacked in the trading house just because of the timing of the game and not because of anything that you did. That's just not acceptable. It might have been a good idea to made additional trading houses that scaled like the ships scale. As it is, the 4P game is still one of the best that boardgaming has to offer, but I'll only play 3P or 5P if asked. The 2P games remains pretty good, if a bit chesslike.
2007-04-02*
2
May 2006*
7.047
Owned
I can't say that I wouldn't play PR with the expansion tiles, but I'd like to avoid it as much as possible. Many of the expansion buildings are unbalanced, and they simply were not designed along with the original game. I suppose this is a blessing for players who feel that they've "played out" the original game, but I haven't, and I can't see that happening anytime soon. Call me a purist, but I prefer the basic game unblemished. *** UPDATE: After more play with the expansion tiles, I can confidently say that they turn can quickly turn Puerto Rico into a BROKEN game at worst, unbalanced at best. A mistake in the building configuration can seriously weaken some of the game's paths to victory (particularly breadth or depth of production once you monkey with the factory/harbor/wharf configuration). The only thing we've been doing regularly is swapping out the university for the library, the guest house for the hospice, and the office for the trading post. (Of those three, the only building we see regularly in 4/5P games is the trading post. The library doesn't pay back its cost efficiently, and the guest house is mostly just a novelty.) Strong recommendation to avoid any other changes, especially the draft variant particularly with inexperienced players. Or, try them out. But, using the official rules as written, expect that some combinations will wreck your PR game. You've been warned.
2006-05-16*
PÜNCT (2005)
7
Oct 2006*
6.366
Wishlist(4)
 (Thinking about it)
[Abstract Strategy, Connection] [2P:7] Marry YINSH with a connection game and you'll have something resembling PUNCT, Kris Burm's last game in his GIPF series. Like YINSH it has sweeping, dramatic moves and it can degenerate into trench warfare. An added bonus is vertical play, and the ability to play defensively. It's got the aesthetically pleasing high production values that fans of the series are used to, particularly the Bakelite pieces. PUNCT is a fitting finale to perhaps the best series of abstracts ever. My ranking of the series: TAMSK (9) YINSH (8), PUNCT (7), DVONN (6), GIPF (5), ZERTZ (4).

(On radar. It's got a 3rd dimension, so I'm automatically interested. Graphics look pretty stark though - same colours as YINSH. First Essen'05 game to make my wishlist, which is saying something about the weak field this year.)
2006-10-17*
1
Aug 2005*
5.065
This. Is. Not. A. Game.
2005-08-31*
5
Aug 2005*
5.463
Plays: 2
(Full review forthcoming) Card game with an Arthurian theme. Players are squires with dreams of becoming Knights of the Round Table. They go on quests, battle foes, participate in tournaments and accumulate allies. Players also "play dungeon master" by "sponsoring" (aka, running) quests for the other players on their turn. Quests of the Round Table is, at heart, a hand management game with a lot of bluffing going on. The card drawing creates the major random element of the game, but what can kill the chances of players is imprudent one-upmanship and risk-taking, resulting in a blown hand. Feels like a primitive version of Knizia's Taj Mahal. Not too bad, but clunky and best played with at least four players. Can run a bit long as the "slam the leader" syndrome develops in the endgame.
2005-08-29*
Quo Vadis? (1992)
6
Oct 2005*
6.192
Wishlist(4)
 (Thinking about it)
Plays: 1
[Negotiation, Rome] {5P:6} Reiner Knizia does negotiation, and it's nowhere near the complexity of his auction games. In fact, Quo Vadis? might be described as a stark, pure negotiation game. It's a good game to try and gauge your gaming group's affinity for negotiation games before plunging into more complicated fare such as Traders of Genoa. Not bad, but too simple for me. ***UPDATE: Due to be reprinted, and this has me thinking if I want to give it another shot, as an alternative to Intrige which I can't see to snag. Amigo reprint is out, but hasn't found North American distribution apparently.
2005-10-02*
Ra (1999)
8
Nov 2005*
7.373
Owned
Plays: 12
[Auction, Egyptian] {3P:9, 4P:7, 5P:5} The premiere pure auction game along with its sibling, Modern Art. The fun factor wears down after a lot of plays, but it's still got enough staying power to hit the table regularly. Part of the appeal is that it plays quickly. Another good thing is that people can yell "RAAAA!!!!" and blow off some stress. *** UPDATE: Still not as good as Modern Art, but still holding up well after many plays. Keeper, but not top shelf. *** UPDATE: You know what? RA is *better* than Modern Art. I doesn't seem to suffer from the 'weak/greedy player syndrome' that plagues Modern Art, and it remains interesting even after a truckload of plays. I underestimated this little gem. Here's hoping that the uberplay reprint pans out, and we can get our grubby gamer hands on a copy of RA that's identical to the alea except for the box! ***UPDATE: The problem with RA is that as the number of players increases, the control decreases substantially because it takes longer before your turn comes back around. In the interim all sorts of things can happen. I'll play with 4 if asked, but 5P is not certain. RA is still all kinds of excellent with 3P though, and it's one of the best games overall with that number of players. *** UPDATE: Acquired the 2005 uberplay reprint through the kindness of Wong Siow Hwee, who grabbed a copy from the FLGS and held it until I could get to Singapore to claim it. Thanks Siow Hwee!
2005-11-19*
Rage (1995)
4
Aug 2004*
5.637
Owned
Rage is the brother to Jyhad, both being based on White Wolf's "World of Darkness" RPGs (Vampire and Werewolf, respectively). It's not a great game, and the artwork pales in comparison to many other CCGs. It's probably the reason it died a quick death.
2004-08-16*
Raj (1988)
3
Mar 2005*
6.109
There's such a thing as stripped down, and then there's really stripped down. HdG is a one-trick pony. Good bones, but no meat. There's no reason to own it when you can have High Society, For Sale or Kuhhandel.
2005-03-11*
4
Nov 2005*
6.963
[Abstract Strategy, Resource Management, Set Collection, Planning] (R&D Edition) [4P:4] Whoever said this game had anything in common with E&T is simply wrong. Other than placing square tiles, they are nothing alike in gameplay and in character. The timing of RE is uninteresting, and like many indy games it could have used more cleaning up and streamlining to make it play better. The clunkiness of trading consumed polyps for polyp cubes or alga cylinders and polyp cubes for polyp tiles is extremely clunky. The sizable player turns wreck whatever momentum the game has. Finally, the theme does not work at all. Who are the players? How do they control a fish, some shrimp and the growth of corals? Are they sea gods? Neptune? Poseidon? Habbakuk? I find no joy in this game. Removed from wishlist. *** UPDATE: Confirming the problems with Reef Encounter. When players aren't just taking cubes and tiles, they're constructing large turns in their heads. The board is totally static in the early game with the shrimp shutting down board activity, and people jumping through hoops to generate consumed polyps, which is just tremendously boring. All of that just to create a resource? Why? I also am hugely perplexed by the ascendancy tiles. This mechanism added a significant fiddliness to the proceedings without adding any real value to the gameplay. So you have to have the thing on the right side to "attack", and you can also have it on a certain side to score more. Because those color corals are more dominant? And this can change after the fact (post digestion by the fish)? Oooookay. And perhaps worst of all, the timing and rhythm of the game is abysmal. It's a struggle for the players to keep their minds on the game. RE is one of the bigger game disappointments in terms of my anticipation to actual experience comparison. I have a feeling that RE could have been improved with a lot more development to file down the many rough edges in its design. Too bad.

******* Recommended by my Geekbuddies: 11 ratings, 7.91 Average Rating. Well, now that Z-Man is going to reprint Reef Encounter, and given my satisfaction with their handling of Santiago, I can safely put this on my To Buy List. However, it had better not cost $100!
2005-11-19*
9
Aug 2005*
7.126
Owned
[Political, Negotiation, Rome] {6P:9, 5P:8, 1P:4} Man, I still haven't put up any comments as I wanted to play this game a bit more, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards for a while. Let's see: this is bar none the best political, diplomatic and thematic game I've set eyes on. Its main weaknesses are its length and its difficulty (difficulty meaning Avalon Hillese fiddly rules). The rules can be daunting, but if you have someone who can grok Avalonhillese, they're not that bad. Lots of "third Sunday in the month of April under a full moon" rules, as usual, but if you miss an item here or there, it shouldn't impact the game much. Players take the roles of Roman Senate faction leaders, struggling for control of the Republic. The heart of the game is the Senate phase, where proposals are brought to the floor to be voted on by the Senators. These include offices, concessions (sources of income), persecutions (real fun) and practically anything else the players want to introduce. This is a riot if the players get into it and roleplay. The wars section of the game is mostly die-rolling, and takes the form of a cooperative/adversarial system that is hugely interesting. You want to Consul at war to succeed, keeping Rome safe, but you don't want him to be TOO successful such that he wins the adulation of the populace, the loyalty of his crack troops, and the ability to march on Rome itself. Accuse him of homosexuality or something, and persecute him down a notch. The admin parts of the game, including Senator mortality, can bog the whole thing down if you're not careful, so have some handy-dandy aids in place to speed through those parts. (Someone who's able to handle the rules can rune the admin in the background and keep the game churning.) I'd think that any gamer without an adverse reaction to diplomatic/negotiation games must give Republic of Rome a try at least once in his life. It's that fascinating. If only I could scare up a game as easily as I can for Puerto Rico... sigh.
2005-08-15*
Richelieu (2003)
6
Mar 2006*
6.147
[Drafting, Set collection] [2P:6] An interesting little game of stalling, or as I like to call it, negative timing. The rhythm of the game requires players to claim cards they want while at the same time preventing their opponents from getting cards that would hurt them. The addition of the random face-down tokens and the property markers puts enough of a twist on the gameplay to make it interesting. The scoring is also unusual - you either have a majority of each of the 12 symbols and you score that number, or you have nothing. Nada. Zilch. Short enough to play in 15 minutes, simple enough to teach in three. Not bad at all. *** UPDATE: Upgraded to 6. I like it quite a bit. Now to find a copy of my own.
2006-03-15*
Risk (1959)
4
Jan 2004*
5.472
The epitome of the American wargame. I have never finished a game. Runs too long. The dice are annoying as well.
2004-01-28*
River Dragons (2000)
2
Apr 2005*
6.211
[Dexterity, Programmed Actions, Network Connection] <6P:2, 5P:2> A game where players lay "planks" on "stones" to build bridgeways from one island to another. The dexterity component that Dragon Delta is supposed to have (placing bridges on the stones) just doesn't work. Using the "remove a bridge" action is likely to collapse entire sections of the board setup. The chaos in the game is just overwhelming - it's not possible to get anything done by design. Once your bridge looks like it's set up, just keep picking the movement actions and hope that a way exists for you to get to your objective. Some nice ideas here, but the execution is just plain unworkable. You can TRY to play Dragon Delta as written, but just like what happens to the stones-and-bridges setup during the game, I'm gonna call this one broken. Shame, the game looks pretty good.
2005-04-18*
RoboRally (1994)
3
Aug 2005*
7.103
[Programming, Race] [2005 Avalon Hill reprint] Man, this is one chaotic, random game. The programming part is fine, even EASY; that's not the problem. It's even fun for a while when the board chaos is fresh, but it quickly turns frustrating as the random card deal and the narrowing options caused by damage mount. Missing turns due to shutdown or death just make the game more annoying. Throw in the long game time, the unbalanced option cards and players who are out of the running for the win long before it's over and you have a game that I'll only play again under duress.
2005-08-21*
Rotundo (2005)
4
Mar 2006*
5.511
Strange little set collection/trick taking hybrid. I'm not quite sure I understood the game so no final rating for now. If pressed, it's probably a 4 (not really impressed, not hopeful for a huge improvement).
2006-03-25*
2
Nov 2005*
5.891
[Adventure, Dice-rolling, Fantasy, Definitely NOT an RPG] Once again, we have a beautifully produced game (which is becoming standard for FFG these days) wasted by weak design and development. To everyone who says that this is a substitute for a REAL role-playing game - sorry, not even in the same universe. It's a seriously flawed, boring game. Martin Wallace gave it the old college try, but Runebound falls flat on its face. It's not even a good Eurogame. It is clearly the weakest of all of his efforts. So, you have a game that's a poor Euro, and it's awful as a RPG substitute. Translation: Eurogame lovers AND RPG lovers should pass on Runebound. *** UPDATE: Not touching this one ever again if I can help it. Unbelievably slow, more downtime than a monster wargame, no story, no strategy, no tactics, horrendously boring. This is a borderline "2" - I'll play Settlers with all expansions before I even consider Runebound again.
2005-11-03*
4
Aug 2005*
7.228
Plays: 4
Recommended by my Geekbuddies... (15 ratings, 7.92 average) - Comments based on BSW play: St. Pete is an investment game. Players start with some cash, which is used to buy cards that either produce cash or victory points. The cash that the stuff bought produces is used to buy more stuff. Repeat until the cards of one of the four decks of stuff is exhausted. The twist here is in the turn order, which can make or break you depending on what card appears when. If the turn order is against you, you'll be unable to buy anything good. The randomness in the game should be manageable, and players have some control over turn order, but with no way to predict what's coming up, the luck factor increases. It's an ok number-crunching middlewight game, nothing more. *** UPDATE: After more plays F2F, on BSW and with the freeware PC app, definitely a 6. The luck factor is very strong with 4P. I get frustrated with the card draws, and it doesn't help that the whole game is unmitigated card draws. A bit better with 3P, and best as a 2P game (which I'll never get to play F2F). Still, there's not a whole lot I can recommend here. At times, it St. Pete is just downright boring, sort of like a financial investment exercise where you have minimal control over what is available to invest in. F2F is a bit fiddly with all the money flying around the table every single turn. It's really not a bad game, and I'd play most of the time (especially on BSW or on the PC where I don't have to deal with the cash) but it's not a middleweight of choice for me. Removed from my wishlist. *** UPDATE: Now completely burned out on St. Pete. Nothing more to explore, and every play feels exactly the same as the last. The lack of depth is so glaring now, I can't even look at the cards anymore. I still can't believe this won the DSP. Dropped to 4.
2005-08-29*
Samurai (1998)
8
Mar 2007*
7.301
Owned
[Tile-laying, Set collection, Time] [2P:7, 3P:9, 4P:8] Reiner likes to do all sorts of things with tiles and time. His 3-part Tile Laying Trilogy is exquisite in that each has time as an overarching theme to the mechanisms, but none of them implement it in quite the same way. Durch die Wuste, Through the Desert, plays time as opportunity. Do it now, and be certain, or do it later and hope no one blocks you. Euphrat & Tigris ties time with its tiles - the more tiles you burn through the less time you have until the game ends. So more war, more revolutions, less time. Samurai is the waiting game. Patience melds with positioning to produce situations where your opponents have no choice but to do your will and play their tiles where you want them to. It's just a matter of time. The brilliant, austere graphic design choices add to the atmosphere of the game, which implements several very Japanese tenets to enhance the gameplay. The basic mechanism of encirclement of cities, towns and villages to capture influence is very much in the spirit of Japanese strategy. The very simple rules - play exactly one regular tile and as many quick (shock troop) tiles as you wish on your turn - make the game a pleasure to teach. The thematic "ninja" tiles are simple and yet powerful. And that power is most embodied in the 1-power Ronin, the most fearsome unit at each Daimyo's disposal. The much-discussed scoring rules and winning conditions fit the game like a glove. Broad support from all three spheres of influence is necessary to win. And yes, ties are possible. There is no shame in a battle where you meet someone who is your equal. All in all, this is Reiner at his best - Samurai is a game that is thematic, beautiful, easy to learn, always interesting to play and provides immense replay value. Highly recommended. (And yes, I do like Samurai more than I like Durch die Wuste.)
2007-03-30*
San Juan (2004)
6
Aug 2005*
7.220
Take the variable role selection of Puerto Rico, marry it with a card game where cards = money = special powers = victory points, and you have San Juan. It's significantly more luck-driven than its older brother, but it plays so quickly and has more than enough roads to victory that it remains interesting. Definitely in the "let's play that again" category of filler games, with more depth than you'd expect from a filler. Recommended. ***Update: Knocked SJ down another notch, to 6, as it's already wearing out its welcome after around 35+ plays. ***UPDATE: Played a few games after St. Pete crashed and burned. I like SJ more than I like St. Pete, because the card interaction and combinations are more interesting than the investment/return dynamics of St. Pete. However, neither game seems to have the staying power of a Modern Art or RA or even a LOTR: the Confrontation in 2P mode.
2005-08-15*
San Marco (2001)
7
Jan 2006*
6.941
Owned
[Card drafting, Area majority] *** comments forthcoming *** [Still not a fan of area majority, but I loved the Solomon Draft format in MtG, and the art of San Marco is by Alessandra Cimatoribus. Remind me to only play this with 3.]
2006-01-07*
Santiago (2003)
7
Aug 2005*
6.925
Owned
Recommended by my Geekbuddies... (6 ratings, 8.15 average) Just acquired - comments forthcoming. Played with 4P. Still need to play with 5P and 3P. Looks like 5 is going to be the sweet spot.
2005-08-15*
4
Feb 2005*
6.864
Played using Battle Line. Still not much better than that game. Oh well, I didn't like Lost Cities either.
2005-02-08*
4
Nov 2004*
5.976
(Played on BSW) This game is the definition of pure chaos. Players try to move bands of their color up the charts, while guessing which band will be the most popular, the least popular and which band will be #1. All movement is accomplished via combined player choice. Intersting for a bit, until the complete lack of control thumps you over the head like a sledge.
2004-11-24*
Scrabble (1948)
4
Oct 2004*
6.263
Owned
Ability to do well is completely contingent on your vocabulary and luck in drawing tiles. No vowels? Too bad. This was a staple in the older days, but now the randomness of the letters has changed from a whisper to a scream. A relaxing activity to play with older folk or non-gamers, and there IS a smidge of tactics in placing tiles on the board, but there's not much to hold a gamer's attention especially when there are more interesting word games available. (Read: less randomness)
2004-10-18*
3
Apr 2005*
6.497
Nice little trading mechanic spoiled by a weak combat system and the usual map problems. Venice simply has no chance, sandwiched in the middle. Turkey has good chance to win every game assuming Venice doesn't attack. Too bad, nice looking game (though the colors are annoying). Avoid.
2005-04-19*
3
Oct 2005*
7.050
[Hand Management, Set Collection, Cooperative, Werewolf Ripoff] [6P:4/3] One play, rating is leaning towards a 4. Maybe a 3. Depends on how bored I get next time around. Days of Wonder strikes with yet another beautifully produced shallow game. This is a card game with a superfluous (albeit beautiful) board. The playing of poker hands has no place in the Arthurian theme and thoroughly invalidates the entire atmosphere and feel of the game. What, too lazy to reconcile the mechanism to the theme? Inexcusable lack of attention to detail in terms of design. At the moment I don't see the replayability problem; I however do see a general weakness in terms of the overall design of the game. Likely will be a 3; Shadows over Camelot has no business being mentioned in the same sentence as Knizia's Lord of the Rings. ***UPDATE: Confirmed. This is a 3. Have found that Shadows over Camelot is even useless as a gateway game because newbies don't know what the heck to do when they get the Traitor card. Pass on this and get Lord of the Rings, it's a vastly superior game.
2005-10-06*
Shark (1987)
5
Aug 2005*
6.205
Plays: 1
A pretty good stock-price manipulation game that tends to mimic real life economics on a macro level. Plays best with 6. Too bad it's rather long for what it is.
2005-08-28*
Spellfire (1994)
3
Aug 2004*
5.199
Owned
TSR's first attempt to cash in on the CCG craze with its D&D franchise. Wasn't any good then, sure isn't any good now. Its main value to us was recalling where we'd first seen all the rehashed art they used.
2004-08-13*
Squad Seven (2002)
4
Nov 2005*
5.822
Owned
[Dexterity, Reflex] Picked up the Mattel version of this game for US$6 while passing through the Kuala Lumpur airport and stopping by a toy store. Had no idea this was by Roberto Fraga, the Mattel box had no designer credit. Of course, I didn't think of the trouble that trying to get a game with a toy gun in it through airport security might cause. Close to the x-ray machine, it suddenly occurred to me and I stuffed Squad Seven into my bag between Maharaja and Tramfabrik, hoping that the sheer amount of bits would mask the gun's outline. I made it through both the Kuala Lumpur airport security AND more interestingly, the Singapore airport security, and safely got my booty back home to Manila with nary an inquiry. *** UPDATE: Ok, so it's a kid's game. You can still have some fun with it! The remix on the game's website is a nice-to-have. Burn to redbook audio and keep in the box for the next time the kids come a-calling. [Rating for kids: 9]
2005-11-20*
Squint (2002)
5
Aug 2005*
5.760
Decent takeoff on Pictionary. Plays faster, allows more players, and is an excellent party game.
2005-08-28*
Sticheln (1993)
7
Apr 2006*
6.658
Owned
[Trick-taking card game] [8P:7] Delightful twist on the tired old trick-taking genre. Stich's strength is it can take an amazing 8P and play as well as it does with less. Its heart is the Big Twist - you choose a "color of misery" among the 6 colors/suits, and any card of that suit that you win whacks you with a negative score equal to its FACE VALUE (0 to 20) while any other color card you win gives you a pitiful one point. Take no risks, score a pittance; take large risks, score decently; make a mistake, get whacked for a gazillion negative points. Impressively nasty with the right crowd. Very cool card game for days when you might have up to 8P and want to have a change of pace from Euros or party games. (Recommended by my Geekbuddies) Acquired
2006-04-15*
6
Aug 2005*
5.653
Plays: 5
Rating only applies if you're a hoops fans with fairly deep knowledge of the NBA. This is probably as close as you get to a non-computer simulation of the NBA game, with real players and many decisions. Best played in a fantasy league format with several buddies, of course. * Knocked the rating down to 6 from 8 due to length of play. To play a full (advanced rules) game takes about the same length of time to play a real live NBA game - about three hours. Four if you take full boxscores. Ouch. However, I can still think of many much worse ways to burn four hours.
2005-08-15*
Stratego (1947)
3
Feb 2005*
5.919
Owned
Venerable abstract. Spawned many variants, some of them with twists that made them better (The Game of the Generals, for one). Now quite obsolete with the appearance of vastly superior descendants, most notably Knizia's Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. (Fawkes recommends "The Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation" instead.)
2005-02-03*
StreetSoccer (2002)
5
Aug 2005*
6.257
Plays: 1
(Played on BSW) Simple, random game. High rolls when the ball in somewhere near the middle of the board virtually guarantees a score if your players are decently-spaced. Decent filler, nothing more.
2005-08-29*
6
Aug 2005*
7.203
Plays: 1
Fun, chaotic game. Great as a social activity, with people yelling "shaaaark!!!" and "sea serpennntttt!!!" a lot. Good gateway game, too bad it's no longer in print.
2005-08-15*
Sword of Rome (2004)
6
Aug 2005*
6.656
[Card-driven Multiplayer Wargame] [4P:6]
2005-08-18*
Taboo (1989)
5
Nov 2005*
6.158
[Party game, Word game] [2 Teams:5; Party Game rating:8] Not bad... until the words start repeating with the same group. It's not a fatal fault, as party games go. I'm just a little too good at this game... Easy enough to avoid most of the taboo words. Obviously, people with more extensive vocabularies and better association skills will find the going easier than most.
2005-11-02*
Taj Mahal (2000)
9
Aug 2005*
7.169
Owned
Plays: 6
[Hand Management, Set Collection, Network Connection, Political, India] {3P:7, 4P:9, 5P:8} Reinier Knizia takes his stomping grounds, the bidding genre, one step further with Taj Mahal. Cards are the main resource of the game, and you need to parley your cards into more resources, or directly into the Influence Points you need to win. As usual, multiple paths to victory and deep strategy combine with tense bidding tactics to produce a superior game. *** UPDATE: Still a nine, a fantastically frustrating but ultimately rewarding game which I always lose by a LOT but keep returning to because I can't figure it out. This may eventually challenge the realm of 10 despite my record of futility, because it's so uniquely maddening. Amazing, amazing game. *** UPDATE: What more can I say? Taj Mahal, welcome to the Pantheon of Godly Games. *** UPDATE: What is it about not being able to win that generates so much obsession? Well, I've won Taj now. Several times. And I've got a handle on it. It's tenuous, but with understanding comes clarity and closure. This remains an outstanding, Holy game, but it's not the Holy of Holies. I return Taj to demigod status, and there she will stay.
2005-08-15*
Talisman (1983)
3
Mar 2005*
6.166
No, it's not great in terms of mechanics. Yes, it's long and has loads of downtime. But if all you want is a dungeon delve, then it's the game for you. Less than 4 players is uninteresting, more than 4 makes the game unfinishable. Play with 4, and there's a decent chance for a payoff if no one wastes time and you keep moving even while screaming for blood at the top of your lungs. Don't expect much of a GAME though.
2005-03-08*
TAMSK (1998)
9
Feb 2006*
6.295
Owned
[Abstract, Time] [2P:9] *** UPDATE: Absolutely awesome! TAMSK is the best game of the GIPF Project to this pundit. A game that uses real time as a weapon isn't something that's easy to find. (And I'm going to bet that many fans of "traditional" abstracts aren't going to be too fond of TAMSK, but that's certainly not a minus.) TAMSK not only uses time as a weapon, it uses three intertwined layers of time to create a game that's astonishing in its deceptive simplicity but remarkable in opportunities for clever and creative play. This is now my favorite abstract game, beating out its younger sibling YINSH. Its price point is likely to keep it from becoming very common until a manufacturer figures out how to produce the nice plastic hourglasses cheaply. My ranking of the series: TAMSK (9) YINSH (8), PUNCT (7), DVONN (6), GIPF (5), ZERTZ (4).[][][][][] *** Old, pre-acquisiton comments *** Due for RGG reprint some time in 2005. Keep your fingers crossed. One of the few games that employs time as an integral element, but isn't of the same nature as a realtime game (Brawl, Falling), a timed game (a Chess clock), a race (party games like All Play in Pictionary or the auctions in Merchants of Amsterdam) or a game that requires a sense of timing (The Princes of Florence, RA, Puerto Rico). Hey, this would make a good Geeklist...
2006-02-04*
That's Life! (2005)
4
Jul 2005*
6.256
[Roll & Move] Yeah, you roll a die and move pawns. However, the game isn't as stupid as it looks or sounds. There is a bit of meat to the decisions, even if the meat is pretty lean. And yes, there's a lot of luck. It's a kid's game, and it's pretty much the kind of thing that gets Spiel des Jahres nominations. Simple, interactive, luck involved, nice to look at. Not something that'll have any kind of staying power, but ok once in a while.
2005-07-09*
Thingamajig (2003)
8
Apr 2006*
5.709
Owned
[Word Game, Party Game] [6+P:8] And this 8 rating is just for the base game. There are several variants on the RNR site that we haven't had a chance to try yet. Very nice word-based party game in a portable form. So what if the Thingamajig looks really cheap, and you can hardly read the thing in dim lighting? Thingamajig is a word-based game, so a generally similar vocabulary level is assumed among the players. Due to the game structure an intrinsically handicapped player (English not a primary language, or maybe kids) can affect performance.
2006-04-13*
8
Aug 2005*
6.959
Owned
["Tile" placement, Spatial] {4P:8, 3P:8, 2P:8} {FFG Reprint May 2005. With plastic pastel camels. Without plastic palm trees. Good thing little plastic palm trees aren't that hard to find... CORRECTION: Chris Petersen says WITH little plastic palm trees, so we lose nothing! *dance of joy*} Reiner Knizia's "Game of Life" where there are so many things to do but only two camels a turn to do them with. Yeah, that sounds weird. If anyone ever asks me what the essence of German gaming is, I'd pull this game out to illustrate. Very simple mechanisms, no luck, very tough decisions, huge turn angst and concepts that are easy to grasp... all in a fun 30-minute game. There's always a lot of table talk going on, with players pointing out where each play should go to block off someone else other than themselves, or who's got the longest caravan, or who's in the lead. The presentation of the game, with its plastic camels and desert terrain, is no slouch either. No, the theme-to-mechanism ties aren't robust, but in a game this simple I don't think they could be regardless if it's desert oases or putting greens. This is pure game, and it's very, very good. There's not enough depth here to make it insanely great, but as gateway games go, Through the Desert is always one of the best places to start. Highly recommended.
2005-08-28*
3
Oct 2006*
7.050
[Set collection, route connection] [4P:3,3P:4,2P:3] Wow. I heard that T&T was light. I didn't think it was this light. No real hard decisions, extremely tactical due to the Atlantic Star-like card display that players draft from, and zero (and I do mean zero) interaction. You don't even have to look at what the other players are doing. Completely inoffensive, and totally unmemorable. ***UPDATE: Tremendously boring. I'm completely done with T&T for good. PRERELEASE COMMENTS:On radar. I hope it's at least as complex as PR. *** UPDATE: Urk. Ticket to Ride meets Web of Power? That's two games that I'm not fond of. Dropped from wishlist.
2006-10-17*
Tichu (1991)
5
Mar 2006*
7.481
Owned
Ok, I don't even like trick-taking games anymore, but I can tolerate Tichu for a few hands. Must be all those nights playing Mah-jongg for money in my college days. With the right three people (i.e., the funny bunch that don't take these things seriously but play well enough to make it interesting), munchies and drinks, I can still probably live with a night of trick-taking madness.
2006-03-16*
5
Oct 2005*
7.416
Plays: 1
[Set Collection, Hand Management, Trains] [5P:5, 4P:5] Whee, this feels like a Michael Schacht game! Well, it also actually feels like an Alan Moon game - too simple, rather dry, zero tension, generally random and completely boring. I usually find myself saying to myself "is this it?", "what's taking everyone so long?" and "doo bee doo bee doo". TtR will probably win the SdJ (update: it just did) which just reinforces that it doesn't have the "X" factor that I look for in my games of choice. However, the production values are topnotch, and Days of Wonder continues to crank out absolutely stunning games. Now we need them to start working on heavier games than fluff like Pirate's Cove, Queen's Necklace, Mystery of the Abbey, Ticket to Ride and Memoir '44. I get giddy when I think of them doing a more substantial game. Here's hoping they snag Knizia's next "gamer's game"! *** UPDATE: Okay, TtR is painless, and it's a decent choice for people who need a simple, low-depth game to introduce non-gamers to the hobby. It's certainly leaps and bounds ahead of Settlers and that awful, awful aberration called Carcassonne. If you must have a nice, shiny featherlight game for non-gamers, make it this one.
2005-10-06*
9
Jun 2006*
7.651
Owned
Plays: 3
[Tile Placement/Civilization Building/Wargame] {2P:9, 3P:9, 4P:10} Superb game, and one that seems to have unlimited replayability. The extremely strong theme of the rise and fall of civilizations, and the greed of men (especially the greed of men) fits extremely well into the game; it's not surprising that the game was developed after the story was written. Multiple roads to victory, deep strategy and tactics, angst-filled turns and a delicious victory condition to make this practically an obligatory addition for any collection of German games. I like E&T best with four players due to the tightness of the board and the scarcity of real estate, but it also plays excellently with two or three players. *** UPDATE: Reaffirming my 10, one year after I first played the game. E&T is the real deal. The depth continues to astound, and what I initially believed to be irritating randomess in the tile draw has become the lynchpin of this masterpiece. There is still nothing like it. *** UPDATE: Well, I've been focusing a lot on E&T as of late, and with more familiarity comes plumbing the depths and reflection on the findings. E&T is a great game because it is different from many of its bretheren. After over 100 games, I know I'm still going to be playing this game years from now.
2006-06-14*
Tikal (1999)
6
Aug 2006*
7.232
Wishlist(3)
 (Like to have)
Plays: 1
[Action points, Tile-laying, Area majority, Exploration, Auction] [4P:5, 3P:6, 2P:6] Beautiful board, nice bits, cool theme. One of the "Action Point" games from Kramer and Kiesling, Tikal is interesting and thought-provoking. However, I can see how some groups get paralyzed by analysis in the game, especially in the late stages. Well, ok, deciding what tiles to bid on can also take some time. A "menu" of options is rarely a good thing for speedy play, and when the other players are idle, then it leads to downtime. Good game, but only for groups who can make decisions without crunching too many numbers. *** UPDATE: The Auction variant is definitely the only good way to play this game, as the random tile draws influence the game too much, but it draws the game out too much. The one-auction-per-tile thing is painful. Is there a way to do one auction for all four tiles? I suppose, but that's not in the rules. Knocked down from 7 to 6. It's not as good as Java or Mexica - its siblings have advantages over it (Java is better overall, at the same speed; Mexica is faster and cleaner). ***UPDATE: Unless invited to play by someone else, while I'll probably do, there's never any reason to pick Tikal over Torres, Java or Mexica. It's just not as good, and not as fun, as the other three games. As an additional penalty, it takes twice the time to play compared to Torres and Mexica, about as long as Java, which is a big minus as it doesn't have the depth to warrant that kind of time investment. Finally knocked down to its final score of 5. ***UPDATE: Ok, back up to 6. I'll play if asked, as long as everyone can play at a speedy pace. Tikal is decent, though it's still my least-favored game of the Mask Trilogy.
2006-08-17*
Time's Up! (1999)
8
Apr 2006*
7.063
Owned
[Verbal/Non-verbal Communication-based Party Game, Celebrities] [8P:8] A prepackaged take on the Celebrities/Charades public domain game. Time's Up incorporates shared learning - the same set of 40 names are put up for identification 3 times. First time, verbal and non-verbal cues are valid. All names are read (and identified if necessary) after the first round. Second time, a single word is the only verbal cue allowed. Finally, the third time only non-verbal clues and non-word sounds are permitted. The difficulty people have identifying known names once verbal explanations are omitted is testament to our reliance on spoken language to communicate. Very good for the right crowd (i.e., people who are happy to act out and who have some familiarity with personalities). A wide range of personages are represented, from history to sports to pop culture. Expect to not recognize a few names each game, maybe more than that if you're not American or you eschew pop culture. The publisher offers blank cards so you can add your own personages to the game. (Of course, my gaming group added ourselves, along with the house rule that you can't *point* at someone to identify him/her. Hilarious.)
2006-04-18*
Titan (1980)
4
Nov 2004*
6.678
Yes, yes I know. I *can* enjoy this game. However, that only applies if people forget about recruiting and proceed directly to slugging it out, reducing play time to an hour at most. Otherwise, the play length and the painful abundant luck in the game totally destroy any enjoyment that can be derived from the slugfest. Not really unusual in the dicefests of old.
2004-11-20*
4
Jun 2006*
6.308
Don't really see huge differences between Yahtzee, Pickomino and this other than the theme. Just another set-collecting dice game, this time with MtG-style powers.
2006-06-14*
Tongiaki (2004)
3
Feb 2004*
6.040
Caution: This is a comment based on BSW play. Tongiaki seems to be, at its very heart, an area influence game. I mentioned that it felt like El Grande to verandi and he basically agreed. I found it dry and uninteresting. I'll be happy to try it F2F if one of my play group buys it, but otherwise I don't see the game in it. (Not surprising, see my El Grande rating.)
2004-02-05*
Top Trumps (1968)
3
Dec 2004*
4.872
Owned
(Still own several ACE Trump Game decks from the 1980s) The 3 is an adult rating; when I was a kid this was at least an 8. Not much game here, it's totally random, but the card pictures were cool, and the stats tended to be accurate more than not. All of my decks are real world things like cars, tanks and aircraft. Probably wouldn't play this again, but just looking at the cards brings back good memories of a gaming childhood gone by.
2004-12-08*
Torres (1999)
9
Oct 2005*
7.010
Owned
[Spatial, Building, Action Points, Medieval, Knights, The Princess Bride, Wesley vs Inigo, Hello you killed my father prepare to die!] {2P:9.5, 3P:10, 4P:9.5} Torres is a game about rebuilding the defensive towers of a shattered kingdom. The King decrees that whichever of his children commands the knights that guard the highest towers at the end of three days will have demonstrated the greatest ability and will be named successor to his throne. Wonderful story and theming, with an even more wonderful game behind it. Torres is my favorite of the Kramer/Kiesling four-title Action Point Series. This is perhaps because Torres is the purest and cleanest of the four. Players essentially do only two things - play knights (either adding them or moving them around in the kingdom) or build towers. The action cards allow variations on the two primary moves above. Otherwise, the game is pure strategic (towers) and tactical (knights) brilliance. The execution of the game in three dimensions gives it a distinction not found in most German games. Excellent, plays in a much shorter period than Java, Tikal and Mexica. It's not a deep as Java, but is around the same weight as Tikal and is deeper than Mexica. I'd class it as a light-heavyweight, perhaps a bit more with the Master Cards in play. Playing what we call "Grandmaster Torres" 4P with all Action Cards in hand, free placement of starting foundations and with a new Master Card at the beginning of every day is NOT for the faint of heart, but is the best way to play the game if you have a group that finds this kind of outwit-outplay-outthink kind of game fun (and can process and play at a good pace). Love the whimsical Cimatoribus artwork in the original, but holding off to see the Vohwinkel art and redesigned bits in the new edition before purchasing a personal copy. (By the way, can someone tell me what the SdJ jury had for dinner when they gave Torres the prize in 2000? Can someone feed them the same thing every year?) ***UPDATE: Bit the bullet and purchased the original with the art by Alessandra Cimatoribus. I decided that while I think Vohwnikel is a pretty good artist, there's no way he can top the original art. And how much better can the components be anyway? If the new version is significantly better, I won't feel bad playing a friend's copy. I hope that the reprint brings a whole new audience to Torres, as it is perhaps the best game ever to be awarded the Spiel des Jahres. ***UPDATE: Ok, let's call it a renaissance. Playing Torres online at www.boiteajeux.com has allowed me to try the individual draw deck variant a bit more. It's very different, forcing one to decide between drawing cards (and therefore providing more options in the future) or prioritizing board play and drawing cards opportunistically. I don't think this is adding a huge amount of luck to the game, and there's a change of timing that's interesting and, for me, ultimately more challenging than the breezy, artistic all-cards-in-hand variant that's my Torres bread and butter. And hey, the new RGG/Amigo reprint is workmanlike. I like it much less than Alessandra's vision of dark fantasy, but it doesn't do the game an injustice. Grab it now.
2005-10-18*
Trans Europa (2005)
3
Nov 2005*
6.413
[Network connection, Trains] I wonder who believed that Transamerica needed a second map? TE is the same game. The new map provides a different look, but there still is insufficient depth and significant randomness here, making it no better than its older sibling.
2005-11-20*
TransAmerica (2001)
3
Nov 2005*
6.521
[Network Connection, Trains] This is NOT a train game by any stretch of imagination. It's a simple placement/connection game, hobbled by the randomness of each player's objectives for the round. It's also sort of needless to repeat the same thing three times. Shallow and random, TA is nothing more than a barely-tolerable occasional filler, but there are far better games of similar weight out there so why bother?
2005-11-20*
3
Mar 2005*
5.197
Only good if you're all hearing the questions for the first time. Still a decent party game if that criteria can be met (which, honestly, isn't too often).
2005-03-15*
5
Aug 2005*
6.038
One of the best long-run space-themed wargames ever made. Takes 10-12 hours to play with an experienced group of gamers. Expect heated negotiations, especially with the political phases of the game. Rating is this low only because I tend to shy away from long-run games. If I were to play one though, this one would merit some consideration.
2005-08-28*
5
Aug 2005*
6.476
Plays: 1
Fun little racing game. Each player controls a team of four bike racers, attempting to bring them in to finish as high in the standings as possible. Drafting is the key tactic, with your whole team if possible. Save the energy cards for tough spots (climbing mountains, especially near the top) and for sprinting to break away from opponents who draft your boys. I recommend avoiding the chance cards - they add a significant amount of luck to the game and can ruin a well-planned strategy.
2005-08-28*
UNO (1971)
2
Aug 2004*
5.271
Kid's game in the same category as Candyland, Snakes and Ladders and the like. What? Adults play this game too? That's when the rating is a "2". Why play this when you can play High Society or anything a little more intelligent?
2004-08-24*
Up Front (1983)
7
Aug 2005*
7.154
Plays: 6
Rating based on several plays, but only of the basic scenario "A Meeting of Patrols". Fairly chaotic but fun card-and-counter game. Doesn't show its age, and is still unique, at least among the card games I've played. Interested in getting into the later scenarios so we can break out the tanks and artillery. The rules as written are an unqualified nightmare, but if someone who knows the game teaches, then it's not so hard once you get past the abstractness. Looking forward to more plays of the advanced scenarios... *** UPDATE: I still like the game, but man, can they make it less fiddly when they do the reprint? C'mon Curt, where is it?
2005-08-15*
4
Jan 2004*
6.008
You feel as if this game is playing you, rather than you playing. The environmental effects of the event cards can render any planning moot. Your tribes struggle simply to survive. All in all, not much fun.
2004-01-28*
5
Aug 2005*
6.541
Owned
Jyhad was an ok CCG with excellent artwork. It appeared shortly after MtG became a phenomenon, prospered for a while, then ultimately disappeared.
2005-08-28*
Verräter (1998)
6
Aug 2006*
6.390
Owned
(Review forthcoming) Fun game built on the War of the Roses. It's been trumped by the author's follow-up, Meuterer, but it still warrants a pick-up-and-play on occasion.
2006-08-16*
Vinci (1999)
6
Oct 2005*
6.876
[Euro-wargame] [5P:5, 4P:6, 3P:5] Vinci touts itself as a game about "the rise and fall of civilizations," which is a pretty spot-on description of the game. Considering the scope of what it attempts to represent, the theme is abstracted to a high scale. Despite that, the theme still manages to shine through, partly due to the stylized map and partly due to the civilization advantages. The civ selection mechanism is interesting, if not original. There are enough civs to make the game quite replayable. In fact, my interest in the game is driven by wanting to see the civ interactions in play. Vinci plays suprisingly quickly for a luckless game. 150 minutes? The heck? 90 is more like it with 4 players. (Don't try it with 5 or 6; the game really suffers from chaos, lack of control and downtime. With 3 it's too loose; the map is too big. It's all just right with 4. This is one of the game's faults. Well, join the Eurogame club. Puerto Rico is the same way.) Finally, the game defaults to open scoring. There's a lot of grousing over this "Kingmaker syndrome" thing, but since I don't believe in "kingmakering,", I say it's a non-issue (feel free to disagree). The Descartes presentation is spartan, but of pretty good quality. The board is linen and colorful, but a couple of terrains might have been set off a bit more. What's with the civ display being smaller than the tiles? The army markers are your run of the mill colored discs. The counters a thin, but at least they're linen-finished. Overall, it's a game I'd recommend for anyone to take a look at.
2005-10-27*
2
Oct 2005*
7.182
[Euro-wargame] [4P:2] So far only played on spielbyweb.com... and I already dislike the virtual dice tower. You combine the strange tower dynamics with random events and random+hidden action orders and you have a chaotic game. I think I can be convinced to play once in a while - most wargames are random anyway - by Wally's definitely not a game I'd be looking to own. ***UPDATE: Yep, the cube tower is definitely the worst thing about Wallenstein, and one of the worst resolution mechanisms I've ever seen in a game. If I were to rate this now, I'd give it a 3, maybe a 4, almost completely due to the cube tower. Replace the cube tower with a small amount of dice, or better yet, a deterministic combat resolution mechanism, and I'd like it much better. Let's see - dispense with the cube tower: when one player moves armies into another player's province, do a simple 1-for-1 elimination. Farmers die first. If it's a tie, the province is devastated as usual. That sounds much better. Have to try it with a physical copy. ***UPDATE: The cube tower? When you're unable to determine what your chances are of winning a battle, that's just unacceptable. It's one of the most broken mechanisms I've ever encountered. If you like your planning to have any sort of influence in the results of your combat, do NOT play Wallenstein or anything with this stupid cube tower in it. I was pining for the predictability of DICE for crying out loud. This game NEEDS a new combat system. I'd rather whack myself over the head with the cube tower before I play this thing again.
2005-10-24*
3
Oct 2005*
7.641
[Light Wargame, Risk Clone - Dice for Combat, Dice for Actions, Event Cards, Plastic Minis] [2P:3] Inelegant. Clunky. Unintuitive. Frustrating graphic design decisions. Worst of all for a dyed-in-the-wool JRRT fan, War of the Ring only superficially captures the feel of Middle Earth for all that chrome. Could definitely have done without a lot of the fancy bits (What the heck is the point of having all the fancy figs if you already know they won't fit on the map and so you need to have the cardboard chits - just use the chits and scratch the figs! Oh that's right we need to figs to up sales to unsuspecting people will ooh and ahh at them. The mini/chit juggling lengthened the game and made it so fiddly that the next time we played we left the minis in the box. What a crying waste. And what's the point of having all the different looking figures of THEY'RE ALL THE SAME? ARGH!) and pretty symbols in exchange for streamlining and usability. Did they REALLY have to have different symbols for the good and evil dice? Perhaps I've been spoiled by the simple elegance of The Confrontation, which has much more JRRT flavor in fifteen minutes than WOTR does in three hours. WotR is clearly outclassed by H:RvC and HotS from a playability standpoint; disappointing to say the least. The game is extremely RANDOM RANDOM RANDOM and has a disproportionate amount of compounded LUCK LUCK LUCK, even for a wargame. Dice to determine your actions (unforgivable), Event card draws (with some questionable balance in the cards), dice to resolve combat, dice to resolve the search for the ring, and to finish it off, a tile draw to determine the effects of a successful search. The entire "Hunt" segment of the game is laughable. I'll stop short of calling WotR terrible or broken (it's not), but it's tremendously disappointing, random and luck-driven. As a Tolkein fan, and as a boardgame fan, I cannot recommend this game at all unless you are hopelessly enamored of Risk variants. And by the way - the 3 & 4 player claim is a joke, this is a 2P game only. 3 & 4P simply splits the duties normally handled by a single player among two players. Unless you're comfortable with a very high degree of luck in a 3-hour game, much more so than a quality wargame that plays in the same amount of time (my point of comparison is always AH's Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, and Columbia's Hammer of the Scots), and you're very tolerant of usability issues in a game's design, I would strongly advise that you at the very least try before you buy. Even if you are a huge Lord of the Rings fan like I am. ***UPDATED: Added weight rating of "light" due to randomness. It doesn't really matter what you do; whoever rolls better and draws better, wins.
2005-10-07*
Web of Power (2000)
4
Mar 2005*
6.965
Plays: 1
Decent placement game, but still not as deep as the heavy Knizia's. Its short playing time is its strength, but sometimes the luck of the draw can kill the chances of a player. In addition, I'm not a fan of area control games.
2005-03-06*
Werewolf (1986)
4
Oct 2005*
6.513
Owned
Plays: 1
[Political, Negotiation, Group Dynamics] [I own The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow. Why do I own a game that I rate a 4? Because it's good as a social experiment, just not as a game.] {12+P:4 conditional, it can be good - 6? 7? - with the right group and mood; Forum Werewolf:3} BTW, 60 minutes? You have to be kidding. With 12+ players this is a two-hour affair, minimum. Imagine the chaos with 20 opinionated, vocal ROLEplayers. It's amusing, confusing and scary all at the same time. Anyway, not bad as a social thing, but with my group this normally degenerates into a discussion of what method the villagers will use to determine who gets lynched. There are usually better things to do with our gaming time. However, Werewolf has the singular ability to stretch to 20 people, making it the game of choice as I don't know anything else that can handle that many players. So, it will get played at parties. Sure, I'll play once in a full moon. At least when I get eliminated (tends to happen early) I can grab the next two or three people who get lynched and we can play another game. Or, I can be the moderator, which suits me just fine. Still, it's a social experiment first (how do you know someone's lying?), and it stretches the definition of being a "game". *** UPDATE: Two games of Forum Werewolf (i.e., Werewolf played on message boards) result in the same experience. The optimal strategy to win is to distill the situation into a numbers game, taking any special role powers into consideration. In this manner, a win or loss can be predicted with pretty good accuracy. However, the atmosphere of the game breaks down in the eyes of many (personally, it's not an issue). Therefore, in order to maximize enjoyment of the game, an analytical player can be forced to play sub-optimally. Therefore, Werewolf in this form is borderline broken from a game perspective, especially when more roles beyond the base three (wolf, seer, villager) are added. It remains an interesting study in behavior, as much as might be derived from a message board anyway. Forum Werewolf rating: 3 (close to broken, but not quite)
2005-10-09*
Wheedle (2002)
2
Nov 2004*
5.738
Perhaps the worst Knizia game ever. See my comments on Pit. On the other hand, give RK some credit - seems like the man will try to improve on almost anything. In this case, he didn't make a dent.
2004-11-08*
5
Aug 2005*
6.663
Plays: 2
Nice little light WWI dogfighting game. Not a lot of strategy, just second guessing the moves of the opponent so that they end up in your sights. Innovative movement mechanics with the maneuver cards. Am less impressed with the damage cards, but it's not bad. Take out the instant-kill cards, period. Fun for a game every so often, but not something I'd suggest or want to play repeatedly. Component quality is a nitpick - the planes should have been tiles and not cards (something like the asset tiles in Uberplay's High Society), considering they get picked up so much. Otherwise, not much to complain about.
2005-08-28*
6
Jun 2006*
6.704
Owned
Plays: 2
[Betting, Horseracing] [4P:6, 5P:6, 6P:5] Lighter fare, but it's not a completely luck-based game at all. Each of the horses is mathematically identical, as you might expect from Herr Dokter Knizia. Therefore, it boils down to bidding strategy, and then tactics on the horses. Accessible to the non-gaming crowd, yet deep enough to hold the interest of the serious gamers. *** UPDATE: Remember, you must be nasty. Plays best with 4-5 players. Useless with less than 4. It's the common interests that drive the game, and the ability to screw other players' horses by moving them with results of '1' that make Royal Turf immensely fun. 6 is a bit much as you tend to be in bed with too many people, but I'll take it over a game with 2 or 3. Always play with the blind bid chips! Still an excellent gateway game. *** UPDATE: Played the Winner's Circle edition - I do not like the smorgasboard of horses offered. This eliminates the characteristics of the individual horses of Royal Turf, and suddenly leaves the mix of horse characteristics up to chance. I'm not quite sure why Reiner thought this was an improvement. Give me Carmello, Nougat and Sahara Wind any day. (PS: As always, function over form. The horses in WC are nice, but that means little to the game's rating or value to me since the mechanism has degraded.)
2006-06-14*
Wizard Kings (2000)
6
Aug 2005*
6.217
Plays: 2
Fantasy wargame using the Columbia block system. Players control creatures from nine factions/races in various scenarios (available from the Columbia site and various fan sites). Flexible system allows for creativity, and the game can succeed as both a serious 2-on-2 wargame or as a 7-player chaotic romp with the correct setup. The magic system is particularly interesting, with spells draining the health of the magic-wielding unit, making spellcasting units powerful but vulnerable. Combined arms factor is very good. Recommended for fans of fantasy war.
2005-08-15*
6
Oct 2004*
5.862
(Same rating as Wizard Kings) Gives WizKings the flexibility to make it a good build-your-own-scenario kit. Essential; without them WizKings wouldn't be as interesting.
2004-10-18*
6
Nov 2004*
5.797
(Same rating as Wizard Kings) Not as essential as the expansion armies, but nice to have for variety. Certainly a must for those who would like to write scenarios for WizKings.
2004-11-25*
XXXenophile (1996)
4
Aug 2004*
5.584
Owned
Purchased on the strength of the artwork of Phil Foglio, creator of Phil and Dixie. The game was entertaining for a while, and the artwork was ok on the average, really funny at best. Still didn't have enough kick to make it a CCG classic.
2004-08-16*
Yahtzee (1956)
3
Jun 2006*
5.196
A random non-interactive game. One word: Why?
2006-06-14*
YINSH (2003)
8
Jan 2006*
7.368
Owned
Plays: 3
[Abstract] [2P:8] Fluid, elegant new age abstract reminiscent of Othello. Players control five disc-spitting rings which reverse the colors of any discs they jump over. If there are five discs of a player's color in a row, that player takes that row and one of his rings off the board. First player with three rings off wins, but with less rings, it gets harder to get five discs in a row. Excellent 2P abstract. Too bad I suck so badly at it. Losing doesn't detract from the pleasure of playing. At least not too much. I've already blown several 2 to 1 ring leads... sigh. Prefer to play with a 7-minute timer per player to up the tension. *** UPDATE: Really enjoying Yinsh. I think playing Reiner's Ingenious has helped in "seeing" Yinsh better. Won't change my rating until I've played a real live copy of the game, but this rating is likely to improve to an 8 eventually. Intention to acquire. ***UPDATE: Ok, I give. This is the most fun I've ever had playing an abstract. Yinsh beats the socks off chess or go or ingenious or anything else simply because of its personality. And it's schizoid, too, changing from free flowing, river redirecting, lighting crashing flashes of light, to close in, mud roiling, bone breaking trench warfare. It's anything but boring. Until I try its brother Tamsk, this is the best abstract out there. ***UPDATE: Now that I've tried TAMSK, YINSH is a strong second place in my ranking of abstracts. That's still damned good. It's just that TAMSK is awesome.
2006-01-28*
5
Apr 2006*
5.577
Owned
[Party Game] [6P:5] I don't know if this is actually the case, but YMBAI feels like Snoop Glenn's take on Beyond Balderdash. In this case the game eliminates the need for players to provide their own answers to the question/topic, which has morphed from BB's categories into trivia. YMBAI seems to focus more on the bluffing aspect of the BB design, with players betting VP on who might be intentionally providing an incorrect answer. So far YMBAI doesn't feel like it provides the same experience as BB - the emphasis on players accusing each other of being an Idiot falls short of the entertainment from the player-provided faux answers in Balderdash. So far, sort of disappointing given that YMBAI entered our game rotation at around the same time as Time's Up, Attribute, Thingamajig and Crainium Hoopla.
2006-04-18*
6
Aug 2005*
6.395
Owned
For Trade
[Ravensburger's "You're Bluffing!" English edition] Game of auctions and bluffs. Players are trying to complete as many sets of animals as possible, with the highest values that they can manage. Auctions are open, targeted offers ("horse trades") for other players' animals are blind. Kuhhandel is *not* a filler. It runs for 60 to 90 minutes, and there are lots of tough decisions due to the closed economy and the blind trades. It's a decent choice for groups that like games with bluff. Play time can be cut down with simple setup and auction variants. Don't like it with five players (too chaotic) but is pretty good with three and four. (Most of my variants work best with three and four.) Pretty good value for its price point.
2005-08-26*
Zendo (2001)
3
Jan 2006*
6.720
[Induction, Abstract] This is not a style of "gaming" that I am fond of. One player constructs a puzzle, the others try to solve it. The vaguely Buddhist "theming" of the game isn't particularly useful for anything. I consider these kinds of things contests more than games, as there is no way to manipulate the game environment. All you do is collect information, there are no decisions involved. That last bit is why I find Zendo (and most other deduction/induction games) to be tremendously boring, and would easily prefer to watch a film or read a book.
2006-01-02*
ZÈRTZ (1999)
4
Oct 2006*
6.962
[Abstract Strategy] [2P:4] By far my least liked game in Kris Burm's GIPF series of absrtract strategy games. It's almost the mirror image of YINSH, staid and clinical vs open and breezy. Playing ZERTZ feels like work, but much more than the other game of the series I'd rather not play, GIPF. My ranking of the series: TAMSK (9) YINSH (8), PUNCT (7), DVONN (6), GIPF (5), ZERTZ (4).
2006-10-17*
Zombies!!! (2001)
3
Oct 2006*
5.801
If played with the proposed "Quick Play" rules found on the Geek, goes up to a 6, maybe. Pretty fun with a bunch of gamers. I wouldn't play with the expansions - it just makes the game longer, and it already is a bit too long. *** UPDATE: Okay, maybe not. This is a 5, but by all rights it should be a 4 despite the quick play rules. They needed to keep this in development for a little longer, and made it more interesting by giving players more meaning ful decisions to go with the platic zombies. *** UPDATE: Ok, it IS a 4. Not playing this again if I can help it.
2006-10-30*
1 to 271 of 271   Page 1. 1
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.