This game reminds me of the King of Austria's line to Mozart in Amadeus, that Mozart's piece is very good, but it has "too many notes." There are just too many options for me to enjoy this one. I think it's most likely a fabulous game (I think the theme rocks), it's not worth the effort for me to figure out how everything works together. Entirely my fault and not a fault of the game. I think.
I can't say I'm usually in the right frame of mind for this classic. To me, it's a chaos-laden area influence game with a bit of (almost insignifcant) tile play. No doubt that there are hard decisions to be made about what stock to buy, whether to merge chains, etc. Yet, I don't find any of them terribly fun - just stressful. Although I think the game is overrated, I admit there was a time (early 1990s) that it was one of my very favorite games. Now there are just too many other better games of its length and weight that get my playing time.
This game has a lot going for it. It's simple and accessible - a perfect family game or introduction to euros. It plays in less than an hour, and it has an imposing and beautiful board, cool plastic figures and really nice, attractive tokens. There's lots of different ways to score, and enough decisions to keep gamers interested without overwhelming nongamers. Altogether, a great game for everyone.
I like Alhambra, but, being the crazy control freak I am, I've come to only enjoy it with 2 or 3 players. Beyond that, it's just too chaotic and frustrating for me. But, that's my own fault I suppose, and not a fault of the game. It falls just inside the line of what most nongamers can play before their eyes start glazing over.
The auctions are pretty tense (should I bid on the one I want or bluff so I can move to the one I want), and the sacrifice/reward/river level mechanism is really cool. But, dont forget, it's (mostly) about the pyramids. Just awesome.
I think this might be the best family game for 5 players that I own. I realize that's ridiculously specific, but I really, really like it in that slot. Everyone can relate to the theme, and the game feels natural and familiar. And the idea that you can arrive in London after another player in "game time" but before another in terms of Days (i.e. victory points) is just so cool.
A hyperelegant game of squares (or boxes, or dots or whatever, that paper and pencil game). But, it's pretty cool that there are two different ways to score the boxes, and the gold mechanic gives you just enough extra control to keep the game tense. But, that $%#@!* windmill. Seriously.
I like the rock, paper, scissors aspect to it. You can make an educated guess as to what other people are going to do, and choose your action accordingly. The negotiation process has a slightly scripted feel to it, but it's where a large part of the game is played - it's easy to get caught up in it and wind up giving away more gems than your action is worth.
Oh Hell with a fun scoring track. The Grand Canyon expansion adds some interesting elements, but the base game stands solidly on its own as a good time. Hits the spot when you're longing for trick taking game.
A vastly underrated racing game giving rise to clever strategies and tile placement. Don't underestimate the power of saving the sailing points for a rainy day. They can win you the game if your opponents are sleeping. I should play this more often.
To me, Carcassonne is the definition of a 7: a good, solid game, thank you very much. Little to criticize, little to brag about. The game plays well with any number, and isn't even bad as solitaire. Still, there can be a somewhat mechanical feel to it, as there's usually an optimal place for each drawn tile.
Another game that has it all, I think. Simple rules, cool variable board, great scalability, plays in less than an hour and has lots of replay value. Also, you can play it with simple or advanced rules depending on what you're in the mood for.
I have a little, personal game hall of fame. It's got nice lighting, cool exhibits, plaques on the walls - you should see it. Anyway, Settlers of Catan is an inductee, so I suppose it should be a 10. But, it really isn't for me. I feel like I've "played it out", if you know what I mean. But, I still think it's a great game which I happily play. Always tough decisions between spending resources for the cheap things (roads and cards) and saving them for the big ticket items.
It seems like there are more and more mediocre games being produced each year (or maybe I'm just becoming more selective about the games I like). So, when a game like Caylus (which I believe to be legitimately on the level of all time classics like El Grande, Puerto Rico or Princes of Florence) is released, there is inevitably a hype and a backlash before it settles down to its place in a game collection. On some level, the game is similar to Puerto Rico in that the main strategies at first blush are to use resources to either build buildings or to "ship" them to the castle for victory points. Either strategy (or a mixed one) can win, depending on your opponents' actions. Since the game play is so dynamic, you need to constantly reevaluate your position to try to use your resources in the most efficient manner. But it's the royal favors element that really puts Caylus over the top. These bonuses are available at the castle as well as on the building side of the game, and you can use them to either fill any gaps in your strategy or to push you over the edge to victory. The knock on Caylus is its length, and there's no doubt that it is a touch long. Maybe repeated playings will drive the play time down a bit, but, even as it stands, when immersed in the game, time flies by for me, and I consider the time it takes to play Caylus very well spent.
This is a very light racing game, perfect for families or for a closer when you're spent from playing meatier games. There's enough here to keep all but the pickiest interested, and it plays fast and is total eye candy.
The more I play Citadels, the more I like it, sort of. I've stopped looking for new strategies (because I feel there aren't all that many to begin with) but this game has the fun factor that's missing in some highly strategic games. I'm also converted to this game as a 2-player game. It works great!
Man, is this thing the little girl with the curl, or what? It all depends on who you're playing with. If the players know the deal and don't take it personally, it can be a 10. But, when it's a bad time, it usually gets really bad and ends early. Definitely not for everyone, and I'm still not sure (20 years into it) if it's for me. One of the AH Great Three from High School and College.
Visually stunning. Creative and original. Has a puzzle-ish feel to it, though it is by no means solvable. There's a high level of player interaction as you'll always need to use your opponents' travel counters, and they'll need yours. Really fun.
Maybe the best of the fillers, and I think it's particularly fun with the max number of players. The clever twist with For Sale is that it has two separate auction phases, each with its distinctly different feel. But of course, after a couple of plays, you see how inextricably connected they actually are.
Rudiger Dorn is really climbing the list of my favorite designers lately. This game is all about planning and economics. You will always want to do more than you can, which makes for some of the toughest decisions in gaming. Your choices impact your opponents, and theirs impact you, even if there is little direct interaction in the game.
My favorite game of all time, without a doubt, though I've never ever won. I recently played it with 5 for the first time, and it is by far the best way to play. Really challenging decisions but it's by no means a difficult game. Plus the board and the Castillo are just so cool. I will never tire of it.
This is the filler that's not a filler. I find this game to be a brain burner with really hard decisions. I love that you cant make change or take back money cards, and the fact that the person with the least money loses automatically is genius. And how much is the 2x worth? How much is the 1/2x worth? It changes every game, because you never know when the game will end.
One of the Great Three from Avalon Hill that I played a lot in high school and college. Truly the geekiest of the three, especially if you have any historical interest in the War of the Roses. Advanced combat rules are a drag. I have come to realize that I enjoy the idea of this game much more than the game itself.
Tabula Rasa is Lost Cities for people who like to take the fun out of everything. I find it significantly easier than Schotten Totten, if only because there are fewer choices. But, it's more tactical and unforgiving than Lost Cities. A nice middle ground between the two. I've only played it with two, though I would someday like to try it with more. Interesting scoring possiblities with the treasures and the bonus tile.
Complex, great bits and pained attention to detail. Some people don't consider it a "game". Maybe it's more accurate to call it a group activity. It's most fun with people that know enough about Tolkien since they get the basic idea as well as the references on the cards and the events. Both expansions add interesting elements to the basic game.
I have this weird OCD about expansions. It's too complicated to explain in this little window, so I'll just bottom line it and say that I dont have either a rating or a comment for this expansion separate and apart from the rating and comment for the main game.
So, there's that one moment where you dont want to drop any card because you need them all. Finally, you pick the card to drop (and "give up" on that one expedition), and without fail, you draw that one card you needed to have been able to play the card you just discarded. HARSH! Sometimes I feel like I've outgrown this game, but I always enjoy it when I play it.
Another area control game with neat mechanics. I love how sometimes you can just bribe the court members for the items you need but other times you need to be their favorite to get them. It's very true to the game's theme. I also think the different levels of mission cards with different bonus values is pure genius. Finally, I like the shield points at the end of the game. It is a bit random, but it forces you to play that side of the game as well. I like this one a lot.
Another area influence game I like, but this time it's all vertical. Lots of strategic and tactical decisions to be made, but in the end you could find your plan blown out of the water because you dont get the cards you need. Managing the luck of the card draw is key to success in this game. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to do it!
Maybe the simplest of all the auction games I have in terms of mechanics. Flip 1, 2 or 3 and auction. Easy. Yeah, right. Easy mechanics, terribly difficult decisions. And when the gold card is the last card in the deck, all hell breaks loose in the harbor. Great game.
This game occasionally gets a bad rap, and that's too bad because there's a lot here. Beautiful components, easy to learn, plays fast and there's a lot of tactical fun in the box. Is it better to blow off the first few passengers and get a leg up or should you scoop them up at the beginning and burn coal to the finish line? A neat little racing game that plays better than it looks.
Auction games are difficult (especially for new players) because it's hard to figure what things are worth in the context of the scoring. But this game presents this problem in a very unique way - instead of the items bid on having a fixed value (like say Ra or Medici), the players' choices in Modern Art are what determine the value of the items they've bid on. And I find it so hard to wrap your head around how paying for a painting affects your position in the game. The best auction game around, in my opinion.
New England is an underrated economic game of planning and resource management. The game is tightly designed and has a way of keeping everybody in it until the last turn - scores are often very close. The bidding tokens representing both the cost of items and the turn order is a nifty idea.
Evil in a box. Don't open it, unless you're playing with good friends who wont mind the massive amount of whoop-ass you're about to unload on them. It starts out so nice and benign, then all of a sudden there's pandemonium and scrambling to get out of the hand before you're forced to take the card with the chip on it. And don't bother asking why someone didn't choose your card when it was so obviously better for them. The answer is clear. To stick it to you. Want to play again???
A nice little bluff and tactics game for two. Often attracts a crowd at your friendly neighborhood pub during happy hour. One of these days I'm going to actually listen to my advice and just play randomly. Maybe that way, I'll have a better chance. What a fun game.
This game is nothing short of brilliant, and the key to it is the auction. If you cant get what you need at a reasonable price or if you're not flexible enough to be able to bow out of an auction or two, you'll struggle. And why are there always two people fighting over something (usually something pretty benign like a park) in round 7? Yes, managing those seven auctions is key. Because of this, I think there's a lot more player interaction than most people give the game credit for. There's multiple paths to victory, and the interplay among the different items you can buy and the scoring is just so-well thought out. Brilliant!
Is any euro really meant to be analyzed within an inch of its shelf-life like Puerto Rico has been? Yet, it has withstood all that analysis and remains a challenging and clever game. If it has a fault, it's probably that it's very unforgiving, and a small mistake can essentially put you out of contention early on, which is fairly unusual for euros. Primarily a tactical game of selecting the right role at the right time to be prepared for the builder, trader and captain, overall strategic play is a must. A well-planned shipping, building or mixed strategy can win the game.
I really dont use the BGG criteria for rating games, so I can't say that I'd "never turn down a game of Ra", but I think it's a terrific game. The randomness element makes it dodgier than other pure auction games, but the tactics of it are really interesting. One thing's for sure, every game's going to be a little bit different.
Maybe the most beautiful board and pieces (the little black figures) that I own. Cool art on the screens and the tiles, too. The scoring seems convoluted but makes perfect sense if you think about the theme - you need to be the favorite candidate of one group and have the most support among the other two. Very, very clever.
Not just the Puerto Rico card game. This one really stands on its own. Since it's a card game, there's more luck involved than you might think, but there's enough different strategic approaches to the game to give you options regardless of what you draw (most of the time). Regardless of the strategy you choose, an essential component of it must be a mechanism to get a lot of cards to pass through your hand. Still, you can go through a whole game without ever seeing a 6 building, and that's bad luck. I love the idea that cards are both victory points and game currency.
A really interesting game with 4, a nightmare of altered reality with 3. I often hear the Looney Tunes theme in my head as I move the cards around the table trying to figure out how to divide them into offers.
Schotten Totten is Tabula Rasa for people who like to take the fun out of everything. I find those two games plus Lost Cities to be variations on the same theme, with this being the driest and most challenging of the three. I really like that you win if you take three rocks in a row. That creates some very interesting tactical choices.
This is a very unique game, or if it's no longer unique, at least it was original when it was released. Can the rest of the group corner and hunt down Mr. X? A lot of factors involved - mostly it's Mr. X's stealth, creativity and originality that determines whether he gets caught. But, occasionally the detectives make brilliant moves when you least expect it. The player who plays Mr. X needs to "get it", otherwise you're all wasting your time.
Who thought playing community poker hands could be this much fun? Of course, the card play has almost next to nothing to do with the game. There are some scalability issues with the game I think. It seems easier to beat the game with more players and nearly impossible to beat it with the minimum of 3 players. I personally find it hard enough to win the game without the traitor, but it's the traitor that makes the game truly unique. It's very, very difficult to beat a traitor who knows what he's doing, but of course it can be done. A lot of fun.
This is an awfully hard game to explain, though it's really easy to understand once you've played the first couple visits. Another game with lots of difficult strategic (elephants, the princess or the grand mogul?) and tactical (primarily, do I withdraw or stick around for another card, but there are others) decisions for you. Never really understood the comparison to poker. A really cool game that leaves you wanting to try it again.
This one is an anomaly for me. Lots of ways to score points, multiple paths to victory and you always want to do more than you are able to. All things I love about my favorite games. So, why isn't this game any fun? Okay, that's a bit of an overstatement. But, it lacks a fun factor for me that other (possibly inferior) games have. That said, I can't say that I mind playing it - it's just more of an exercise than a rollicking good time.
Wow, do I suck at this game. I mean I am really, really bad at it - brand new players routinely beat me at it. But, I like it. A lot. I think part of the reason it intrigues me so is that I havent figured it out yet. It could easily (and probably will) slip to a 7 once I do.
It's all about taking those scoring opportunities when they arise, isn't it? It's the anti-civ building game in some ways. While its great to build a colossal kingdom, it's hard if not impossible to maintain. I see it almost like a game of sniping points here and there. Maybe that's why I'm so terrible at it. Very tactic heavy and very dynamic, so your strategy must remain flexible. Gives rise to interesting philosophical discussions when the question of whether the game is abstract or well-themed is raised.
In my view, Tikal is everything I look for in a game: simple rules, but lots of options and difficult decisions; always wanting to do more than you can; perfect scalability; a unique theme; and drop-dead gorgeous components. There's the potential analysis paralysis thing, but it's all within your control. If you find it's a problem, it means you're not playing fast enough - just play and don't care too much about winning or losing. If you take that attitude, it won't be a problem.
Torres is exactly the kind of game I should like a lot, and I have enjoyed it the few times I have played it. But, it's so blasted dry and mathy that I feel a little like I'm taking an exam as opposed to playing a game. It's a nice implementation of the action point mechanic, the bits are great, and it plays in about an hour. Very high replayability and it scales great.
Fascinating tactical bidding game. I love how each player is involved on every single turn. Zero downtime, what a concept! And it's not easy to figure out if you want to go for influence or for the disks. And let's not even get into whether to end the game. Lots of great, difficult decisions! It plays differently with 3, 4 and 5, which is a great thing. This definitely has the potential to be a classic.
The highest I can rate TransAmerica in good conscience is 7, though I am very tempted to rate it higher. This one is all fun. Light, fast and easy easy easy. But, it's not all luck. Good players routinely connect their cities before poorer players. Even the people who pan it as being too light or too luck dependent know they like it somewhere deep down inside.
This is a very clever duplicate blind bidding card game filled with plenty of tough decisions. Should I play my boss low card now or save it? Should I suck it up and play a middle card? What really makes the game interesting is that you get to pass your cards at the end of the round. If you can remember who has what, you can use that to your advantage. I like it with 3 or 4. More than that, I'll usually opt for Nicht die Bohne.
A big game in a small box. It's another of those games where you need to snipe whatever points you can when you can. Sometimes, all you can do is make the best of a bad situation. Nice balance among bluff, luck and tactical skill. I prefer it's simplicity to that of Meuterer (which is easier and lighter in its own way).
Although I'm not very fond of dexterity games (mostly because I've always been somewhat of a spaz my whole life), I really dig Villa Paletti. Yes, it's Jenga. But, that's something of an oversimplification. Here's the best way to describe it. You know how people try to describe euros to nongamers as "they're like Risk or Monopoly, but they're fun to play?" Well, if you understand that statement, then Villa Paletti is like Jenga, but it's fun to play.