Components: Same nice production as in 10 Days in the USA, but the board is even less attractive. The colors between the cards and their board counterparts are often difficult to discern. My lack of familiarity with African countries makes this theme less appealing than the US edition.
Experience: Amusing connection game, although adds little to the US edition other than variety.
Rated low only because I wouldn't reach for this over the US edition.
First Played: 2004-07-04 Last Played: 2004-08-02 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Same component quality as the others in the series. The shape of Asia doesn't lend itself easily to the shape of a game board; some of the countries as just tiny blobs on the map.
Experience: Basically the same as the others in the series, so not really worth the purchase if you already have another. Though I never drew a railroad tile in my one playing, I like the idea of them. I'd be interested to see an abstracted connection map for this game, to see how it contrasts to the others, because it feels much stranger than Africa or USA. Russia connects countries on different sides of the board; China seems to touch almost everything; and other countries are trapped in the ocean.
Rated low only because I wouldn't reach for this over the US edition.
Last Played: 2010-08-04 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Same simple graphics and sturdy components as the other games in the series. There are some countries whose borders are not so obvious.
Experience: Perhaps slightly more fun than 10 Days in the USA, because I enjoy how the bodies of water open up the board, allowing for some massive adjacency (like with Russia and China in the Asia edition). Quick-playing. Relaxing.
Last Played: 2011-09-20 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Wooden racks, cardboard tiles, and a thick board make this a positive departure from the Out of the Box production quality I associate with Apples to Apples. I'd like to see some cartoonish terrain on the states to make them less plain-looking, but otherwise it's a functional game. The theme works very well for me.
Experience: Far more methodical than its ancestor, Racko. I enjoy slowly piecing together my trip, and having to adapt my route based on availability of tiles. Throughout the course of a game I slowly begin to see that some areas of the map are in great demand, and thus will be difficult to navigate.
More enjoyable with two players, where I have greater flexibility and less luck.
First Played: 2003-01-01 Last Played: 2013-05-26 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Very cool looking, with all sorts of non-functional but thematically appropriate traps. Amusing caricatures.
Experience: It is very difficult to have any strategy, as one's pawns are at the mercy of the other players: trying to edge them close to the exit can be a death sentence, but leaving them in the dining room has the same effect. Still, the play goes quickly enough to be amusing, and I enjoy the mechanism by which inheritance money is passed down from one heir to another.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2002-01-01 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Very minimal artwork; home-quality cards. The notepad is useable, and the clues booklet is at least bound, instead of loose leaf. But overall a homemade version could improve upon this.
Experience: The roll-and-move mechanism could be dispensed with altogether without harming the game. The one case I've played was actually interesting, with misleading clues, but enough evidence to come to a sound (though not certain) conclusion. If the production quality were higher I'd be much more eager to play this again.
Given the poor production quality, not sure why I prefer this any less to the also-poorly-produced Eagle Eye Agency, but I do.
Last Played: 2003-07-16 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Nice, over-sized cards, though they really start to fill up the table after a bit. Wonderful art. The iconography is clear but too small in the 'costs' corner of the cards, making it difficult to audit my neighbors as the cards are played.
Experience: I went into my first game thinking I would invest heavily in raw and manufactured goods, so that I wouldn't need to rely on commerce with my neighbors. This ended up pushing me toward a brown/gray/blue strategy, since I found myself continually strapped for cash. Other players focused more on commerce, or on science. I hammered my neighbors with military, but they were able to compensate in other ways. Very interesting.
Seems to be well balanced, and I expect that as we become more familiar with the cards, the game will become more competitive. With complete knowledge of all cards in circulation (except for the guilds in Age III), and with better knowledge of the build chains, one could employ different strategies with better clarity than I was in this first outing.
I appreciate that my neighbors can't muck with me too much (other than taking my cards, and vying for military might). Nearly every card is attractive to build. Whereas in Agricola the game mandates that I have a little of everything, this game, like Stone Age, seems to push me more toward extremes: specialize in a few different scoring methods, and let the rest fall to the side, otherwise I end up being mediocre in everything.
I'm beginning to feel like Science is too good, as more often than not the player who scores the most in science is also the winner. I also want a bit more direction in terms of final scoring (somewhat provided by the Leaders), to prevent me from just making the same choices every time.
Like in Kingsburg, there isn't much in this game to make me try new strategies; our group is in a bit of a rut with the types of cards we play.
First Played: 2011-03-30 Last Played: 2015-07-23 Plays (18): 3 players: 4 4 players: 3 5 players: 5 6 players: 5 7 players: 1
Components: The Avalon Hill version is well-made, with sturdy, snappy stocks cards, and plastic pieces that perfectly serve their function, yet are attractive as well. I dock the game a production point because of the Monopoly-grade money and because of the poor storage inside the box (no tile racks, no draw bag, and a plastic insert that is only useful when the game is set up). I've seen some comments that disparage this version of the game; I just can't agree; I love the chunky tiles and the brightly colored buildings.
Experience: This game is a real thrill, with a healthy amount of tension coming from the conflicting desire both to increase the size of a corporation, but also buy more stock in it while it is small; also from the desire to invest in the big, safe corporation, planning for the big payoff in the end, but also needing to buy stock in short-term, merge-ready sources of income.
First Played: 2001-01-01 Last Played: 2012-11-10 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: The apple tokens are nice; otherwise, the production is unremarkable, with rather simple, plain artwork on perishable cards. I'd prefer if the score card had muted colors for the apples, so that my apple tokens stood out a bit more on top of it. The theme is strange and unnecessary.
Experience: The first round is entirely about the delta between each pair of numbers, but later rounds become about set collection, so the game quickly transforms into a tactical game of bluff and stalling. Many evil decisions, forcing an opponent to choose between a valuable face-up card, and the mystery of whatever remains in my hand.
First Played: 2004-06-05 Last Played: 2011-03-20 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Some years ago this would have been great production; by today's standard, the durability still holds, but the artwork is very drab.
Experience: My more recent playing has made me suspect that I do not like simultaneous action selection. I can see that with more playings, and a better sense of value, I might be able to better out-guess my opponents, but the game just didn't have a lot of energy for me.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2004-06-02 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: The components are certainly workable and durable, but there is nothing remarkable about their artistic design, excepting the nice score track winding around Africa.
Experience: A total crap-shoot for the first two-thirds of the game, without any sort of strategic decisions; a few decisions popped up near the end, when we had opportunity to at least calculate the points certain moves would net us. Toward the end, I started to enjoy the random turning over of tokens as a game of mere chance, but I didn't find much in this game to occupy me.
Last Played: 2004-06-20 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Sturdy pieces, clear symbols, and interesting board layout. The graphic design is a bit drab and Armyish, but the game is certainly functional.
Experience: There are several interesting elements to this game, such as trying to build inefficient networks, and despite the game's complexity it is fairly sleek; really the only fiddley part is the special powers toward the beginning of each phase.
I recognize this as a game that rewards careful play, and I think I see what others enjoy about it, but it runs long for my tastes, and I'm becoming turned off from the point-maximization mechanism found in this and other games. La Strada captures all the elements of Age of Steam that I like, but without the length and without a few added layers of complexity; I would choose to play La Strada rather than this title again.
Last Played: 2005-02-05 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Nice artwork all around. The cards are too flimsy. There are too many wooden bits for them to be just cubes; upgrading to unique shapes is a must.
Experience: So many choices! The number of options available for my actions grows each round, though often not having enough of a certain resource (e.g. wood) will close off several types of choices for the time being.
It's fun, but it's also hard work; it's almost not worth it to expand my family because it's so difficult to feed everyone. Very challenging. There are always interesting things to do, but never enough time to do them. By the end of each game I feel I've been dragged through the coals.
The occupation and minor improvement cards are essential for making each game different, and for providing me with direction at the beginning.
I play as a vegan (never cooking my animals; pretending the fishing hole is for water cress, etc.). And this makes getting food very difficult. If my starting hand doesn't contain a food engine, I'm screwed.
First Played: 2009-09-03 Last Played: 2013-12-10 Plays (18): 2 players: 9 3 players: 7 4 players: 2
Components: Colorful, soft art, just like in Agricola. The workers and resources are just plain discs, but the animals are individually shaped.
Experience: I like the emphasis on animals, but miss the special powers (and luck-of-the-draw) from Agricola. I'm not a big fan of games that begin exactly the same each time, with no randomization in the setup. I prefer a game that presents me with a unique challenge on the very first turn.
Components: Bad colors on the stock cards. White and gray; yellow and orange; orange and red; all too similar. Good quality cards. Flimsy money; might have been better with coins, for all the handling we give them. The board's routes are difficult to see, especially once airplanes are cluttering them up. The airplanes are cool. I like the map of Europe.
Experience: Pretty interesting. Most actions are satisfying. Passing to take 8 million is a significant enough chunk of change that it doesn't really feel like a pass. There are enough colors that only some are hottly contested, while others might be secure in the first place award, but not necessarily in the second place award. I don't recall much about Union Pacific but I think I'd prefer Airlines Europe.
I'm wondering if the smart thing to do is to just stockpile cash at the beginning? I wouldn't be foregoing many points for the first scoring.
Components: Fun artwork; shiny dice. The iconography on the Senate tiles leaves much to be desired.
Experience: Quick playing, mostly easy decisions. I really like that every die will get me something, so they're never completely wasted. I enjoy shifting focus on the three main areas of the board, depending on which tiles are available.
We play that a man and woman are allowed together in a province not because they're going to get married, which is heterosexist, but because we want gender diversity in the provinces.
Components: The board and pieces are well-made. The different card/space symbols are easy to distinguish, though not pretty.
Experience: There are several different elements at work here: the movement of Alexander, the card draft, the claiming/usurping of territories, the levying of taxes; but none of them is particularly interesting, nor do they gel into an interesting whole. Very mechanical. But I am so enamored of Clans that I will continue to be a Colovini fan.
Last Played: 2005-02-09 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Soft, easy-to-see artwork and colors. The tiles are top notch, as are the boards. The orange and brown card suits are difficult to distinguish, and the cards could be a better quality. Also, it would be nice to have a track to record the relative quantities of each color tile held by each player, instead of constantly re-counting.
Experience: This game is about one thing only: exact change. The efficiency of buying a tile and also drawing one or more cards is the driving mechanism. The attractiveness and restrictiveness of the tiles belies that this is a set collection game. I prefer the dice spin-off.
First Played: 2004-06-16 Last Played: 2011-03-18 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Great board, great dice. Very easy and pleasing to see the information.
Experience: It's like a thematic Yahtzee. Rolling/collecting dice is always fun, but here it takes on the competitive aspect where I really really want some colors, and can afford to let others slide. The tile powers adds some spice.
One of my favorite dice games, behind Dice Town and Roll through the Ages.
First Played: 2007-06-23 Last Played: 2012-05-09 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Sturdy cards benefit from having a different picture for every card. The artwork is very adult, but the side indexing on the cards features abstractions of the art, so the cards are both interesting and functional. The score pad provides an efficient and clear way to narrow down the list of suspects, etc., as well as to keep track of the scoring, but there should have been some room for notes as well.
Experience: Like the later Mystery in the Abbey, this game speeds along due to the passing of cards. Turning it into a rummy/deduction hybrid makes it interesting for me, as it is possible to focus on strategic, point-making plays, rather than solving the mystery, which gives the game a bit more depth in my view.
I have yet to form a question that aids me more than my opponents, but I do like the restriction that the answer to all questions must be a number. The game might be broken in this respect. Really all the question asking does is allow me to decide how to strategically pass my cards, so as to meld cards that everyone already knew about anyway.
In a recent four player game, the accusation came in the sixth round, and it ended up being valuable to retain two sets of cards, rather than melding them, to throw people off the scent. I like the theme, I like the passing of cards, but there's just no good way (that I can think of) to ask intelligent questions. In Clue, cards aren't passed, so it's easier; in Mystery Express, cards aren't passed so often, and we have a more robust battery of tests to run against competitors' hands. In Alibi, it's pretty much just random.
First Played: 2001-01-01 Last Played: 2011-11-29 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Attractive board, with mostly sensible icons on the various space platforms. The artwork on the cards is great. I wouldn't mind dice that are somehow also shaped like spaceships.
Experience: Hmm. At first, I was loving it. All the dice-rolling, always something interesting to do with my dice. But after ninety minutes of slowly carving out a place for myself in this alien world, I became weary of how easy it was for my opponents to hose me. Capricious dice are one thing, but opponents toying with my fate is another.
Now, after a second play, it's not the capriciousness that bothers me, but the looong downtime between turns. Assuming each of my three opponents takes just 2 minutes to play out their turn (optimistic), I'll be sitting with nothing to do for six minutes at a stretch, with no way to plan my next move. That's way too long.
It has such a great central mechanism, but two hours (for the shorter game) is just too much, with too much empty space, for me to want to play this again.
First Played: 2012-03-06 Last Played: 2013-01-22 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire.
Components: Humorous artwork. The newer, square version has better artwork and number fonts. The buckets are quality.
Experience: Light fun. There isn't much chance of planning too far ahead, but I enjoy trying to keep track of which colors others are deficient in, and planning my actions accordingly. Doesn't play very well with two.
First Played: 2004-07-31 Last Played: 2009-01-14 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Absolutely beautiful board and cards. The iconography is fairly clear, but I am bothered by the gold nuggets at each village, not just because they are in a different denomination than my income, but because they are difficult to see from a distance, especially once one or two huts are obscuring them.
Experience: On the one hand, this is an interesting budgeting and racing game. But on the other hand, I have no idea what my opponents are going for, and so I have little information around which to plan, to either conserve or expend my resources. Basically, I am just progressing as I can, and periodically am thwarted by my opponents without warning. I do, however, enjoy the set-collecting, and finding my own way through the Amazon.
First Played: 2005-06-04 Last Played: 2014-01-04 Plays (2): 3 players: 1 4 players: 1
Components: There is something off about the artwork for this game. The city board seems unnecessarily busy; the game board has a lot of underutilized space; the gardens don't look lush enough to enhance the theme; the camel tokens should be a different size or shape from the commodity tokens; the gardens occupy less of our time than do the commodity and temple tracks, and so should perhaps be de-emphasized. Overall the art seems to be going for realistic, when I would have preferred fantastic.
Experience: I had an epiphany while playing this game, that I dislike multiple currencies in games. In Amyitis, players must constantly balance their incomes of talents, camels, commodities, and plant cards; each acquired in a different way, and each spent in a different way; it can be dangerous to be left with too few of any of these, and wasteful to be left with too many. This act of balancing is certainly challenging, but I wouldn't call it fun (fun is deciding which cards to spend in Race for the Galaxy). As a result, I experience that sense of just “pushing cubes around”. I felt the same in my recent playing of Lancaster; it's as if either the chosen theme demanded this level of complexity, or competing ideas were grafted onto a simpler game to achieve a desired amount of complexity.
I enjoyed the novel mechanisms of the increasing cost to utilize the profession cards, and in expending camels to move from city to city. I didn't find the action on the main game board as interesting. Thematically, I dislike that we remove tiles from the board as we supposedly build the gardens, and that we end the game with three tiles still on the board; this felt dissatisfying, like we just removed many of the tiles, and then quit before we had actually accomplished anything. I liked the game more upon immediately finishing it than I do now having thought about it more.
Last Played: 2011-08-27 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Beautiful board and cards, with all information laid out functionally. The board does a great job of evoking the theme.
Experience: My opinion of this game has cooled over time. Whereas I once found it interesting and didn't mind the luck, I now find it less interesting and more chaotic. It's a bit long for what boils down to two decisions per turn: what to trade, and how to spend my actions. The trading is somewhat interesting, but is usually straight forward, and so not enough to carry the game. The actions are also typically straight forward, dependent on the cards in my hand. And shaking the puck is very capricious.
First Played: 2004-08-09 Last Played: 2013-05-18 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Well-made components and nicely designed graphics (from the computer version?).
Experience: Mostly laid back, collecting my commodities and investing them as I see fit, with only a few ways to influence other players. Even though players are almost guaranteed to get production on each roll of the die, there still seems to be a large disparity between the usability of the resources different players are getting.
I like that there are different victory conditions, but some are so bound up with specific advancements that missing the advancement almost precludes achieving the victory (e.g. without protection from pirates, it can be very costly to maintain four factories and three trade agreements).
First Played: 2004-08-02 Last Played: 2004-08-09 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Functional cards with (non-functional) clever phrases on them, but they leave a lot to be desired art-wise (and lack rounded corners).
Experience: Game is interestingly psychological, as players can really try to think which of their cards the active player would pick. One play per session is enough, and I recommend shortening the game by requiring fewer cards to win.
The game quickly wore out its welcome with me. It's an adventure in non sequitur humor, which is good for a few laughs, but not for any significant length of time.
First Played: 2001-01-01 Last Played: 2007-01-05 Eagerness to Play Again: Never
Production: Identical to the base game, except with a more compact box, and lacking the draw tray. Play: Identical to that in the base game. I started out with just this expansion set, which can stand alone as a game. There are enough cards to play one game in one session. To keep it fresh for multiple plays in one session, one would need more cards, either from the base set or from another expansion. (1+0+3) (6 plays)
Components: Attractive, linen-coated board and tiles.
Experience: Very simple rule set leading to interesting choices. It has a press-your-luck quality, as I hope to roll the correct regions to introduce my houses, but without being forced to close a region. There are lots of opportunities to thwart my opponent, and to build efficient networks of aqueducts.
First Played: 2009-01-19 Last Played: 2011-04-05 Eagerness to Play Again: Soon
Components: Another tile game with cards as the tiles; I would definitely prefer tiles, though perhaps not at the cost it would necessitate. The art is simple and somewhat appealing.
Experience: A bit boring, as I try to link together tiles featuring my secret objective. Either I go straight for the objective and gives myself away, or I 'bluff', as the game suggests, but risk handing the game to my opponent.
Last Played: 2002-01-01 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Easy-to-distinguish artifact symbols; and easy-to-read points charts. Quality cards.
Experience: Every turn presents opportunities to specialize in different types of artifacts, but my hand was constantly constrained by the luck of the draw. When I was lucky to draw high-value cards, I had lots of options; when I was unlucky to draw low-value cards, I had few options. As the game progressed, lots of juicy cards built up in the market, but noone could afford them. The sandstorm and thief add some pressure, but they just make it all the more unwise to ever try to get the more lucrative cards.
Experience: Seemed too straight forward. It was often difficult to find any legal move at all, and when considering the few legal moves available, there was often little doubt about which would be best. The placement rules and the end conditions just seem too restrictive to allow for clever maneuvering.
Last Played: 2008-07-16 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: I find it easier to create and customize my own deck for this than to buy an existing deck. To my knowledge, the public-domain game Mafia predates the re-theme of Werewolf, so I find it interesting that all the published versions are Werewolf-themed. Shouldn't somebody be suing somebody over that?
Experience: I can't stand deceiving others; the threat of being dealt a werewolf card far outweighs the joy of being a frightened villager, so I will only play the game as moderator, and as such I am weary of it. It was fun at a certain point in my life, with a great group of people, but I don't need to play this again.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2009-07-03 Eagerness to Play Again: Never
Components: Simple but fun artwork. The most important aspect of the quality is durability. If the cards become marked, the game will no longer be playable without first sleeving the cards. Would be better served by depicting the characters on durable round tokens.
Experience: Practically the same game as Covert Action, but slightly more fun for some reason. I greatly dislike having to deceive my fellow players, and so don't desire to play this again. But I did find it interesting to have the several characters, each with different information, each on a different mission.
Last Played: 2011-02-12 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Wonderful illustrations, and good iconography. The only thing that could make it better would be something on the special cards describing their actions.
Experience: What a bizarre game. It's an area control game, but it's quite difficult to play even a single card at times, and so I almost find myself wanting to play cards whether I'm competing for their areas or not. I'm not sure what the strategy should be here; without knowing what's in my opponent's hand, there's no real way to block someone.
Last Played: 2010-02-08 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Nice towers, but the game doesn't make good use of them, opting instead to just stack them all in the center. All around well made, but without being beautiful.
Experience: Very strange. There are some interesting choices about how to play my people efficiently, and when to cash in, but the ever-changing values of the seals is very difficult (in an unsatisfying way) to strategize around. I didn't feel I could plan more than a move in advance.
Last Played: 2009-05-22 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Great artwork on durable components. There are a few things I would change here or there, but mostly the components are functional and make great strides to convey the game's theme.
Experience: Not terribly fun with just one player (my first game). Lots of referring back to the rules, and a little bit lonely wandering around the monster-infested streets all by myself. The variety of locations, monsters, and Mythos cards ensures a lot of variable choices per turn. I'd like to play again with more players.
Last Played: 2010-06-28 Eagerness to Play Again: Soon
Components: Sturdy wooden pieces, a nice board, and thick tokens. I think that there should either be artwork and pieces to support the gold-mining theme, or that the theme should be dropped and the game be as abstract on the box as in play.
Experience: A nice game of tactics, with a few clever moves to be made along the way. The small board and abundance of tokens make for an interesting mix of placement, timing, and bluff.
But mostly random, and mostly boring.
First Played: 2005-08-27 Last Played: 2013-01-29 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: The quality of the cards is nice, and I almost like the multi-colored graphic that decorates the numbered cards. But not quite.
Experience: This is a game that seems to have stopped halfway between abstract and theme, so that there doesn't really seem to be a story going on, yet card play doesn't really work on its own—I can play this card in front of me for points, or I can play that card to my opponent to his detriment, but why?
Last Played: 2003-01-01 Eagerness to Play Again: Never
Components: Drab components. The one standout element is the feast-decorated round table, but I find all its meat imagery distasteful. The gold and silver are a bit difficult to distinguish on the cards. The special scoring cards are cluttered up with three languages (especially the card that permits three different uses).
Experience: Total chaos. Like in Dos Rios, there is zero opportunity to plan ahead, because so much can change in between turns. This is purely tactical, with a bit of gambling (do I score the reds now for -15, or wait, hoping for something better down the road?). It's important to keep a good variety of cards in hand, but it's much more important to be favored by the luck of the draw and the luck of how the person to my right leaves the board for me.
On my turn, I am rewarded for taking a long time to consider all my options. If all players play this way, the game slows way down.
Last Played: 2011-10-11 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Attractive board, utilizing every inch of space. Cool artwork on the various styles of tower; they each feel quite distinctive. Quality cards; one of the few games where half-sized cards work better than would full-sized cards. The differing heights between windows and middle sections makes it difficult to quickly judge the heights of other towers.
Experience: Immediately fun. The color mechanism is brilliant and incredibly interesting. There are so many possibilities at the beginning of the season, but as the season progresses and each suit gets declared, I must be more and more careful with how I use my cards.
Some of the areas of the board are much better than other areas, but there are several such areas. The window shop is sure to be available for a player in a pinch who can't find any better way to make points.
The influx of cards and cash each season is great, to get me back into the game despite what happened in the previous round.
I dislike the asymmetry between tops and bottoms, and between windows and middle sections, with tops and windows being better than their counterpart, but without a difference in price. There is no reason to buy a middle section over a window except in desperation.
The game length is perfect.
First Played: 2011-10-18 Last Played: 2014-06-15 Plays (2): 3 players: 1 4 players: 1
Components: Awesome wooden vegetables. Unique artwork for each character card. Clear rules.
Experience: Tight resource-/money-management game. Tense choices between returning customers and casual customers. The action deck can be capricious (it's a big advantage to secure the only market in the first round). The odd scoring mechanism helps keep the cashflow tight.
Components: Attractive components. The cards are very functional, and I enjoy the unique ship for each; overall a less busy, but less exciting re-theming. However, removing the theme is everything here; the theme doesn't really make sense, and isn't nearly as fun. Without the idea of putting actors in plays, the game boils down to just a strange abstract set collection game.
Experience: Game play runs a bit long, without the quality of the decisions changing significantly. The real tough decision is which routes to sandbag on, and borrow against, in order to afford good cards for more important routes. The good cards are mostly used up by the middle of the game, though with many players. With fewer players, it just slogs along; even having multiple chances at each route doesn't keep it fresh. I'd much rather play Show Manager.
First Played: 2004-05-30 Last Played: 2013-02-12 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Wonderful island tiles, nice warrior tiles, and good illustrations on the cards.
Experience: I'm not sure where Atlas or Zeus come into this, but Poseidon sure has a lot of action, swallowing up one island per turn. This game features some interesting hop-scotching from island to island, either to attack other warriors or to flee tidal disaster. There is an interesting mix of cards in the deck that can change the power dynamics drastically from turn to turn. I like that the number of islands reduces, but I did find I had fewer decisions as my forces dwindled.
Last Played: 2005-04-04 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Simple computerized graphics, like those in many of the Adlung Spiele games. Nice wooden components, but the ant theme would be better served by plastic ants than wooden discs.
Experience: The game becomes more interesting as it progresses, as networks of paths are built up and more ants enter the board. There are a few opportunities for a clever passing-the-leaf chain, but otherwise most decisions seem straight forward.
First Played: 2005-03-12 Last Played: 2005-03-12 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Production: Same durable quality as the components in the base game, but, like in the base game, the abstractness of the rock and the extra spider (the sticks are fine) prevent the theme from really gelling. Play: In my one playing with the expansion, the game ended before any twigs surfaced and before the rock was moved. The tunnel was utilized quite a bit, though. This expansion adds moderate complexity to the pathing options, but the real heart of the game seems to be in avoiding and luring spiders, so I don't think these additions actually add much. (1+0+2) (1 play)
Components: Simple, attractive artwork on the tiles, cards, and tokens. Could only be improved by adding translucent tokens of some sort to cover up those structures already built, to make it more obvious what lurks in the draw piles. It would also be nice to have some symbol on the tokens to indicate their family of structures; it is difficult to verify on the board whether all of one family have been built in proximity to each other.
Experience: Plays quickly. There is a high degree of luck, hoping to draw useful tokens or cards, but it's satisfying to build up efficient chains of structures and to utilize the resources on the board. This game is about efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. And it can be ruthless as we cut each other off.
First Played: 2004-04-28 Last Played: 2013-10-12 Plays (6): 2 players: 4 3 players: 2
Components: Functional cards, though the font is a bit hard to read from a distance in a hurry.
Experience: It all happens so fast, with such chaos, there's no time to revel or really discuss the word choices, and the scoring can be very confusing as players after-the-fact try to figure out whose card they grabbed, and whether there is a plus or minus associated with it.
Last Played: 2007-08-15 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Wonderful board and great plastic ranger pawns. I would prefer round koala tokens, to even further differentiate them from the industrial tokens. The windmill is near useless, as it can only been seen from one side of the board. The colored regions and subtle images on each are a pleasure to look at.
Experience: Very interesting. I enjoy the two primary scoring methods, and plotting my ranger distribution in order to score immediate points, and to piggy-back off another player's impending scoring. I like the Clans-ish incentive for triggering the scoring. A lot can happen between turns, as several players can clean out an area quickly, yet the game doesn't feel as volatile as, say, Dos Rios or Tongiaki, other games in which one's position can be radically altered between turns. It has a nice cooperative element, where we must work together to complete regions.
First Played: 2005-05-11 Last Played: 2009-12-31 Eagerness to Play Again: Soon
Components: I didn't especially care for the artwork on these cards, though they were mostly functional (red and purple knights are difficult to distinguish).
Experience: This felt like a simplified cross between the Star Wars CCG (because of the attrition) and Babel (because the number of crowns per player oscillated up and down so much). The hand limit made it very difficult to plan ahead. In my one playing, only one attack was repelled and only one enchantment was aborted; only one sorceress made an attack (allowed by the magic stone circle); control of the castle locations was never challenged; and Avalon was the last location to be claimed. So none of the special powers or situations really had much effect; rather, the only interesting facet was this ploy: 1) enchanting cards from the other side at location A, then 2) initiating battle at location B but using the cards from location A to satisfy the attrition, and finally 3) initiating battle at location A where there is no longer any resistance, and thus no need for great attrition. That sequence of moves was fun, but repetitive.
Last Played: 2004-06-05 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Nice board, workable cards with distinctive yet unattractive imagery and layout. The stone figures are a pleasure to handle.
Experience: Very interesting game. Too much of a tug-of-war for me, with players almost reaching their goal, then having their temples stolen or smashed; but setting up my cards for the big, power-wielding turns is interesting. In that sense, the game has a bit of turn-programming in it. I enjoy mixing-and-matching the different moves during my turn, cobbling together a strategy. There are huge swings of power, and the game can last much, much longer than it should.
First Played: 2003-04-09 Last Played: 2009-04-04 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: My copy is one of those briefcase sets, which is just great: felt lining the board, which has rims to prevent the dice from escaping; an actual ridge for the bar; and hefty pieces that players can slide around easily. Dice cups seal the deal.
Experience: I like this classical game. I am far from a strategist at it, but I like adapting to the chance of the dice, and deciding when to risk leaving my men alone. I have never played with the doubling cube, which I understand can add an element of betting to the game.
Components: Humorous artwork on average quality cards. I appreciate that the publisher took the time to individuate each card, whether with a unique villain image or studio name. The iconography used for the lower-valued cards is clear. I knock the game a point for being on standard cardstock, for having bland, monochrome backings, and for bland card backgrounds.
Experience: A pleasant surprise. With only two actions per turn, there were almost always tough choices, and opportunities for clever play. The basic conceit of drafting villains, then playing them to studios would, in itself, be nothing special. But the special powers of the villains valued 1-4 add the necessary extra spice to the game. The aliens/gnomes are the crucial cards, allowing a player to greatly increase the odds of a successful takeover by peeking at a forthcoming hero card. The zombies/gangsters are less potent, but do pose a threat to any player so bold as to lay down cards but not immediately attempt a takeover. The hand limit is also a key source of tension, forcing a balance between drafting and playing.
First Played: 2007-01-07 Last Played: 2010-07-04 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Simple cards; all components are functional. Could have come in a much smaller box.
Experience: There are some interesting decisions, trying to control certain stacks (whether because of a desired chain reaction, or because there is a specific card there), and also trying to manage the sum in my hand. The bidding/bluffing element is fun, but rather chaotic. There are several memory aspects to this game (what has been played to a pile, which letters are in a stack, and what an opponent has played this turn).
First Played: 2006-08-07 Last Played: 2009-08-09 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Simple cards; could be on better card stock, and have better graphics.
Experience: I haven't taken a liking to this game, though I've tried. The openness of playing on both sides of the board, and different types of terrain, just mean that the value of my hand is constantly changing. I have no long-term strategy. I prefer the more diabolical (yet more predictable) Adam & Eva.
First Played: 2003-06-04 Last Played: 2011-04-24 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Nice tiles. The 'N' and the 'Z' look too similar.
Experience: I like the flexibility of rearranging my words to accommodate new tiles. Sometimes, if I'm unable to play a tile, I find myself hoping that another player calls Peel. The penalty for misspelling a word is way too severe, especially since that losing player must now sit out while all of their tiles are played out by the remaining players.
Last Played: 2009-07-01 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Quality cards. Nice, subtle artwork. I dislike that two cards could have the same function, but a different image (e.g. the two images for the Bang! cards). The iconography (hats, targets) is confusing. The distance rules are very difficult to keep track of. We had lots of rules questions, and were constantly referring back to the rule book.
Experience: It's Risk, it's Werewolf, it's vicious, it's epic. There is a major flaw, in that a game could potentially last forever (my second playing, with five people, lasted well over an hour). The mechanics are very simple once they are familiar. The character powers are great, adding a different personality to each player. The different objectives lead to some very interesting initial moves, before the streets erupt into open warfare. All the cards are useful at one point or another.
First Played: 2009-01-31 Last Played: 2009-01-31 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: I used to think that all clays are created equal. But the clay in Barbarossa is of much higher quality than in Cluzzle. The board is very pretty, though the different caverns have non-intuitive symbols for the actions that occur there. The pawns are bright and heavy, and the arrows are functional.
Experience: I think the entire board could be dispensed with, except the score track; perhaps it forces creativity upon players, so that they cannot always ask for letters in a word. This game is fun, though; I really enjoy trying to puzzle through the different shapes, and the thrill of hoping mine will be guessed, but only during that optimal window. Also, the game lasts just long enough for a few tough sculptures to be guessed, and for some others to remain forever enigmas.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2013-12-11 Plays (8): ? players: 2 4 players: 2 5 players: 2 6 players: 1 7 players: 1
Components: Amusing period artwork, but other shabbily produced.
Experience: At first I was impressed that this roll-and-move game had multiple paths on the track, allowing me to choose which route best serves my die result. And indeed there were times when I chose a side path, just to avoid a worse fate. But the game has some major flaws. First, it might never end. Several spaces send a player back to the beginning. Acquiring all the necessary winning conditions is easy; making it to the actual prom is like braving a gauntlet. Second, its sexist and heterosexist assumptions have not aged well. Third, the game often forces a player to choose between theme and strategy: there is no reason to buy the more expensive dress other than for the joy of it, and there's an entire side track that has no affect on the game. If all the kids are playing the same way, it wouldn't pose a problem. But players should never have to choose between winning and having fun. I went into this game thinking it would be amusing and tolerable with kids, but getting sent back to the beginning repeatedly made me wish for a quick death.
Production: Nice images of various appliances. Card quality is average. Cards should have been full-color (meaning the entire card’s background was one color), rather than featuring the colored-suit only in the background of the appliance, and in a suit-specific shape, which isn’t as clear as it could have been. Play: Very interesting combination of wanting to take certain tricks, and wanting to lose certain tricks. It absolutely matters what is in each trick, so one’s desire for a particular trick changes as the trick plays out. Definitely fun, but difficult to play well with a bad hand, unlike many other trick-taking games. (1+0+3) (3 plays)
Components: The artwork is detailed, but somewhat lost in the white space of the card. The special cards are very blah. Cards are sub-par quality.
Experience: Has the same tension of Schotten-Totten, hoping to draw the right cards, to delay having to play. The action cards add some uncertainty to a game that is already perfect; they are fun, but unneeded.
Rated low because I see no reason to play this over Schotten-Totten.
Last Played: 2009-02-08 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Sturdy components. The backgrounds on the grids help set the mood; it really feels like plotting strategy in some naval war room.
Experience: 5% deduction, 10% psychology, 85% guess-and-check. This seems to be the precursor to a game like Destination Tresor: players must make near-blind guesses, and then start to narrow down the possible locations of enemy ships. I enjoyed this as a kid, and could still be talked into a game.
Components: Cool spaceships and character pawns. The board is fun, but having all the text face one direction for a multi-player game with secret roles is a big mistake, as it could be quite obvious that a player is trying just a little too hard to read the cylon actions from upside down. Very important information is either in small print (like on the character card, which need only be referenced if the player remembers to check for special powers), or hiding in the rule book (like the Cylon ships' attack behavior).
Experience: First, the game is very fiddly. I suspect a designer could cut the game in half (complexity and length) and still have a good BSG system.
Second, the game is too long for what it delivers. Every round felt pretty much like the previous rounds: attack the ships if there are any, otherwise do something else.
Third, the theme isn't working for me. The game has way more theme than most games, and does evoke many elements of the show, but I think the fiddliness really gets in the way of me feeling like we were each a unique character with a distinct personality. We could all pretty much do the same stuff. Gaius manning the guns or Starbuck becoming President just doesn't make sense, at least not without a handicap commensurate with their relative experience at the task. Also, and this is important (and I'm drawing only from the first two seasons that I've seen), I don't think the Cylon paranoia in the show reached the same levels as in the game. In the show, there are hundreds and hundreds of personnel, only eight of which could be Cylons (since Adama recognizes one of the templates from the very beginning). So the crew might not know who the other eight or so traitors are, but they can be sure that most people aren't traitors. In a three player game, half of my crew are traitors. In a six player game, a third of the crew are traitors. That's way more like Werewolf than like BSG.
Fourth, it's not very interesting. There are actually a lot of different actions a player may take on their turn, but they all felt the same and inconsequential to me. It would be much more interesting if I could string together several actions, such that doing things in a certain sequence made sense. But with only one action on my turn, I either roll dice to hit the bad guys, draw a card, play a card with fairly predictable results, etc. There are enough different types of actions, but they need to each be more interesting, and interact with each other in more interesting ways (i.e. someone who has just come from sickbay is too weak to move to a different ship; a player may fire Galactica's canons multiple times, but at an increasing cost of fuel; spend food to increase morale; move ships farther than one space, but the baddies get a free attack as the ships pass by; etc.). It's not that it was always obvious what to do, but that whatever action I took seemed slightly boring.
Fifth, the deception is not to my liking. I especially don't want to be a Cylon and have to lie for most of the game. There's just no delight in being sneaky if I can't celebrate it until much later in the game. And it's super stressful. And it's too long a game to keep up such a pretense. But even as a human, I dislike having to distrust the other players so much. Without knowing a single person who is definitely with me, I must assume everyone is against me, which is the case in most competitive games, but at least there it's all on the level. And I don't mind secret deduction games (like Mr. Jack), because they are just asymmetrical win conditions for openly declared enemies. But to have to rake my teammates through the coals before I'm satisfied they are pure enough to be trusted is like TSA treating everyone at the airport like a terrorist: we're all safer, but now nobody enjoys flying anymore.
I had heard so much about this game. After an aborted attempt at playing it a year ago, further hype made me think I just hadn't given the game long enough to develop. Now I feel just as jaded about the game as I do about the show, like it has abused me. There are many suggestions that the box's required number of players is too low, that it should only be played with 5+, but I have very little interest to discover how that adds anything other than giving each player even less control over the outcome.
Last Played: 2011-10-16 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Cards are nothing special in the Beat the Buzzard edition.
Experience: Trying to outguess my opponents is fun, and the game is over before it becomes laborious. But it is a blind auction boiled down to its most basic mechanism, and as such there isn't much going on here.
First Played: 2004-02-21 Last Played: 2009-07-13 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: The cards and the district tiles are nondescript but workable. The plastic buildings are a delight to play with; the detail on them is so rich that during the other player's turn I found myself gazing intently at the city we were creating.
Experience: An interesting manifestation of set collecting, whereby sets can be used to create different sorts of buildings, and different numbers can end up adjacent to each other, even though they are not sequential. It was a pleasure to build the city, and being able to draw back up to five cards made my choices seem fresh, unlike so many other games where it is more work than fun to replenish my hand.
Last Played: 2005-02-20 Eagerness to Play Again: Soon
Components: Homemade-quality cards, and not enough of them.
Experience: The game really relies on role-playing, in which I'm unenthusiastic to participate, leaving me with a decision to support one player or another for no particular reason. I've had a few enjoyable moments speculating on the products, but not enough to call the game fun.
Last Played: 2003-12-31 Eagerness to Play Again: Never
Components: Great artwork on the cards and tiles. Sturdy tiles; draw bag. It is difficult to remember the special functions of the totem and horse pawns.
Experience: Not very gripping. There are a few moments when it feels Schotten-Totten-esque, whereby I want to wait out my opponent, to first see what he'll play. But for the most part it is dull, it's not very satisfying to collect the tiles, and the rules are incredibly confusing.
Last Played: 2009-01-20 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Production: There are a lot of different sets out there; none of the ones I've seen have looked very nice. The cards tend to be flimsy and plain. There are some elaborate number-generators, but that's about it. Basic homemade quality. Play: No decisions. Unlike Candyland, Bingo doesn't even feel like a game to me, but rather more like playing the lottery. I can see the appeal of it as a pastime, a sort of structure added to spending time with people. (0+0+0)
Components: Chunky wooden cubes and cool teepee/canoe tiles. The landscape tiles warp a bit, preventing them from laying entirely flat. They are a strange shape, fitting together in an interesting way, but I didn't like the artwork, which seemed almost photorealistic. I would have preferred something more cartoonish, like there is for the teepees and canoes.
Experience: This game felt like hard work, like balancing my monthly budget. There were tough decisions along the way, but they weren't fun to make. It costs so much food and so many actions to move a hunter from the market to my supply, to deploy them to the board, to move a teepee from the market to my supply, to convert the hunter to a teepee, and then do it all over again to upgrade the teepee; it just wasn't fun.
There could have been some tense battles for control over regions, but it was too difficult to mobilize my hunters for the skirmishes to be fun. Also, to do all that work but only end up with as much food as I started with was disappointing; my poor hunters were barely subsisting.
I definitely like having six actions, and being able to use four of them in any order; I'd like to see that used in another Kramer/Kiesling venture.
Last Played: 2009-01-03 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Very well-made. The pieces fit securely on the board, are easy to handle, and make a satisfying 'clink' sound when played.
Experience: It is interesting watching the board develop, and having to adjust to ever-shrinking options. Borders are even more permeable here than in Go. I enjoy this more than its cousin, Cathedral. But I'm terrible at it, and don't actually enjoy it all that much.
First Played: 2004-05-10 Last Played: 2013-02-26 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: The cards are beautiful to behold and a pleasure to use. The special text is surprisingly straightforward, though the more I play it the more questions I have about how certain cards interact; the iconography is effective. I like the structured, finite, full-disclosure collectability of the game; perhaps the first “living card game”.
Experience: Much more straightforward than it looks. A few opportunities for cleverness arise, but for the most part I continue a battle if I'm able, in the hopes that my opponent won't be able to respond. The battle can turn rather quickly, based on card draws. The game is somewhat relaxing in its simplicity.
First Played: 2005-02-09 Last Played: 2009-11-07 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Stunning artwork on the building tiles and the cards. The iconography is perfectly functional.
Experience: Tense race game. Before playing, I had thought there would be some element of cooperation, with players working together to rebuild the structures; in fact it is a mad dash for crystals by any means available. There isn't enough time to get everything done, to be part of every scoring, to efficiently make offerings, etc., so each move is crucial. There are many opportunities for strategic uses of my cards, which I find to be the core of the game. The cards can be used in so many different combinations it can make my head swirl. Still, I wish there were more strategy in the game; the rapid turnover of cards in my hand, and the quickly changing game board, make it difficult to plan too far ahead.
First Played: 2009-01-05 Last Played: 2011-03-18 Eagerness to Play Again: Soon
Components: Wonderful artwork on high-quality cards.
Fan edition: Wide variety of entertaining cards, but it makes it more confusing, less unified, and the cards lack the numbers indicating how many cards there are of each type. The fan edition is practically unplayable.
Experience: The mechanics are quite simple, but choosing how best to manage my hand of cards, and maximize trades, is a true delight. There isn't enough continuity from turn to turn; I'd enjoy it more if I had a long-term strategy, rather than just working with what I've got from round to round. This game has lost its shine over the years.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2015-10-19 Plays (30): ? players: 15 3 players: 2 4 players: 6 5 players: 4 6 players: 3
Components: Very strange finish on the cards; fortunately, it merely makes them difficult to spread out, but flipping, shuffling, and laying them out all work fine. The art is wonderful, the mayor pawns are hefty, and the money chips are functional.
Experience: The novelty of passing money right, but picking left adds a good twist. Whether a person wants to be first to receive the money, or second to pick, can influence how they bid. I enjoy the streamlined production mechanism, in that each mine produces money, rather than a specific sort of good. The mayor mechanism creates an interesting tension between wanting to maintain a majority and wanting others to pick cards of my own color.
First Played: 2005-03-14 Last Played: 2009-08-17 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: I did not particularly care for the artwork on the tokens, nor the two-dimensionality of them, but the cartoonish theme did help keep the mood light during play.
Experience: Bosworth addresses many of the elements of chess that I dislike: the board is smaller, and I have fewer pieces on the board, so I feel less overwhelmed by choices; its relative newness makes me feel that I might actually make fresh discoveries about the game (as opposed to the exhaustively-studied Chess); and the introduction of additional players makes the game more political (maintaining a balance of power) than strategic, which I enjoy. Despite all this, the game is still very dry for me, and the theme/mechanic of capture does not entertain me as it once did.
Last Played: 2004-04-17 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Great board, bridges, and tiles, with clever tile illustrations that are complex yet easy to identify.
Experience: A player's options are fairly simple and straight-forward, and the immediate consequences of a move are readily apparent, creating for a rather quick-moving game of area control. As I become more experienced and therefore strategic at the game, I can imagine that the game time will actually lengthen, and become a brain-burner, as many have called it. But for now, it's tense, and flows very smoothly as players build up power in certain villages, and watch as students spill over to other villages. There are opportunities for clever sacrifices, and tense attempts to dominate and lock certain villages.
First Played: 2005-04-20 Last Played: 2008-12-23 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Shabby components, and inelegant graphic design. Nice, heavy dice. Good selection of photos. The board is well thought out. The designers had a good sense of the show when balancing characters and creating the various cards. The absence of Giles, though, is a major slap in the face; Giles was the first Scoobie!
Experience: Quick and fun. Good teamwork on behalf of the Scoobies, and it's fun to be the forces of Evil, swarming around the board attacking the heroes. The dice-rolling is fun. Not a lot of strategy; basically just collecting cards and rolling dice. It does a good job of evoking the theme (though I wish it covered all seven seasons).
First Played: 2009-10-31 Last Played: 2009-10-31 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Functional, somewhat attractive china cards in the Playroom edition. The blue and green bulls are a bit difficult to distinguish.
Experience: Horribly unfun. Every decision is either to receive a punishment, or to take a card which will later result in another punishment; get punched in the stomach or slapped in the face. We aborted after three scorings. I like the scoring mechanism, by which we must individually choose how we will score each round (a la Yahtzee), and hope to see it in other games.
Last Played: 2011-09-09 Eagerness to Play Again: Never
Experience: I like the set collection aspect, and the way the market works, with the last-in player picking first from the market. The auction, though, is rather dull; partly because the advantages of winning a larger lot are so evenly balanced with the advantages of picking early from the leftovers that there is seldom incentive to bid high. Also, because we only need triples to score, there is no long-term investment in a particular color. Still, it's fun and I'd play it again.
Last Played: 2009-01-17 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: The foam guns are easy to handle and point; all the tokens are functional; the character cards are humorous, though not my style of art.
Experience: The basic game is simple and fun. Players must make calculated moves, deciding whether they think others are bluffing, and whether the risk is even worth it, given what's in the pot at the time. I like the natural catch-the-leader aspect, which then allows someone else to slowly increase their wealth.
The advanced game with the cop (but without the special power cards) is entirely different. Money no longer seems to matter, but rather it is a desperate game of survival, deduction, and argument. It does seem rather akin to the movies wherein the criminals argue about who the informant is, but I think I prefer the deceptionless, everyone-for-themselves aspect of the basic game.
First Played: 2007-08-15 Last Played: 2010-09-11 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Attractive area tiles. I find the rotating caballero tiles very cumbersome.
Experience: There are a lot of choices during my turn, but often none of them are very attractive. Typically the most powerful thing to do is to place an area tile, but that is very constrained by the luck of the draw. It is very difficult to protect in-play caballero cards from the double-land elimination rule. Interesting, but feels like work.
Last Played: 2009-01-19 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: The cards are a nice quality, typical of Amigo. The artwork is nicely cartoonish, though potentially offensive. I think poor choices were made in nationality selection, as many of the flags look very similar to each other.
Experience: I've never played a game so seemingly ill-prepared for the effects of chance. In my one playing, there were several instances where one flag type was represented twice on the table simultaneously (in our initial setup there were only three flag types present, meaning that only three nationalities could be played). Throughout the course of the game we ended up throwing away 30+ cards each, and at times we would go ten or more turns each without being able to play. There is clearly something wrong with a game when bad luck means that nobody makes any decisions for a significant length of time; the problem might simply be that despite what the box says, it is not a two-player game.
Last Played: 2005-02-04 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Sturdy components all around, and nice artwork for the guests. However, the rest of the artwork (coins, floor tiles, mansions, gifts, and store) is unattractive and, along with an uninteresting theme, detract from the game.
Experience: The central mechanism of buy something at the current price, or take coins but therefore lower the price, is one I'd like to see Schacht use again, to better effect. There were seldom competitions for tiles, and many times when it was clear that a player had insufficient funds to buy a tile and would therefore need to take a coin. I never got the sense that I was particularly invested in collecting a specific type of tile, nor did the theme make me feel that I was renovating and furnishing a mansion.
Last Played: 2009-01-09 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Slightly unattractive with its knobs and candy colors. The pieces don't fit as securely on the board as I would like.
Experience: A bit too much like Blokus for my tastes. Both are in the Go family, in that I am primarily concerned with keeping my pieces alive (i.e. with air to breathe and expand into). The additional pillar, placed toward the end, is a fun touch. Ho-hum.
Last Played: 2011-08-27 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Standard cards. Nice art for the district cards, but the art for the other card types is very fuzzy.
Experience: In my few games, the strategy seems to have been to use the Doge to resolve a district we were relatively certain the opponent was void in, thus ensuring a victory with only one card spent. Fairly quickly the deck consisted mostly of special cards, with few district cards remaining, thus we had built up our hands and would then spend several turns resolving Doge cards. A fellow player has pointed out that the traitor cards are essential to prevent a player from hoarding all of one type of card, and I must agree, but I don't find it fun to be stolen from so often.
First Played: 2005-04-04 Last Played: 2005-12-11 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Nice-looking board. The different candy illustrations always made my mouth water.
Experience: I enjoyed this as a kid. I think the lack of decisions never really bothered me; it was thrilling to see what would turn up, and how that would affect me. I've read of a few variants to help make it more fun for adults to play with their children.
Components: Nice wooden components and thick cardboard money. This might be a thematic choice, but I wish the money were sized by denomination (right now the 10 is larger than the 5). The font on the location names is waaaay too difficult to read. Even looking at something right side up was difficult, but upside down it was nearly impossible, and the tiny dots on the cards could have been larger to help compensate better.
Thematically, I never felt like I was moving from exotic place to place. They are just squares on a board. Would have been much better with a gorgeous map. This game is purely about points, and not at all about setting up trading posts in far off places, or whatever it is we were supposedly doing.
Experience: The cards are somewhat clever, in that I must budget how to efficiently buy them so that I can move around the board as cheaply as possible. But it's very difficult to factor in trips to the bank. The bumping of houses is also clever, leaving a bit of uncertainty in how a particular city will score.
There aren't enough actions. An early mismanagement in the first round will haunt me for the remainder of the game, and almost ensure that I will end the game without having placed all my pieces. Being limited to one placement per turn just means that once a player is behind, they will stay behind.
Maybe I'm just bitter because I got hosed. I tried to hit all the cheap ports, to conserve my money, and to get the diversity bonus. Instead, I just ended up getting bumped in a lot of different places, and ended with less diversity than several other players. Another player scored big in the first round and was able to pay back all his debt and cruise to an easy victory (I'm not slighting his win, as he played quite well, but it didn't feel like anyone could catch up).
Just not my type of game. I sit there on my turn wracking my brain trying to figure out how to get from A to B, trying to save a dollar or two here or there, and then I lose by 120 points. Ouch.
(Didn't even notice that this was a re-working of Tycoon, but from reading my comments on Tycoon, I definitely enjoyed El Capitán less. Tycoon didn't feel like work; El Capitán feels like twenty years hard labor.)
Last Played: 2011-10-25 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Beautiful soft-edged art style. By the end of the game, we've formed a unique map that's fun to look at just for its own sake.
Experience: Matching up the tiles is a process I find deeply satisfying. There are fun scoring opportunities, chances to horn in on someone else's hard work (or prevent someone else from doing the same), and lots of meeple-management decisions to be made, to keep a steady stream of meeples cycling through my reserve to the board and back again. Controlling a dominant field (if one exists) can be crucial to success, depending on which scoring rules are being used.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2015-02-01 Plays (23): ? players: 12 2 players: 5 3 players: 3 4 players: 3
The abbey, mayor, and wagon don’t yield as much in enjoyment as they take away by increasing complexity. The barn, however, is a winner. A bit like hut in Hunters & Gatherers, the barn provides a new view into scoring a field. It frees up meeples, and even makes a field fair game for everyone to try to horn into, which makes them less static and foregone. I can see playing the barn as part of the base game (without any other expansions).
A valuable addition to the series, blending seamlessly with the original tile set. The Inns make the roads more valuable, and the Cathedrals create a new type of defensive/offensive move, where a player can threaten to devalue an incomplete city, but the owner of that city can, if the Cathedral is played, threaten to complete the city. The new tiles with interesting combinations of city/road/pasture/abbey add flavor to the draw. I appreciate the option of a 6th player. The Mega-Meeple throws in a nice power dynamic, though it is mostly insignificant.
The commodities, the builder, and the pig complexify the game, making it more difficult to teach, but add more options for the veteran player searching for fresh play. I particularly liked that the commodities borrowed from Hunters & Gatherers, in the sense that players now have an incentive to finish each others' cities, which can make for a much tighter game board.
Components: Doris Matthäus is a tough act to follow as artist, but Johann Rüttinger has done a great job. The tiles are of exceptional quality. The animals are easier to visually tabulate than completed castles are in the original.
Experience: More elegant than the original, this sequel to the original Carcassonne is easier to teach, easier to score, more intuitive, and just as fun to play.
The stone monument, allowing a player to claim a meadow, is too powerful. The addition of the bonus for closing forests, and the penalty for not completing forests or rivers at the end of the game, lends itself to smaller areas than in the original Carcassonne, which also means that there are frequent small scores rather than infrequent large scores. Adding fish to the rivers has a similar effect as adding inns to the roads in the original. Very satisfying to play, and of course the board looks wonderful when complete. It's fun to see all the animals mingle in the meadows.
First Played: 2003-01-01 Last Played: 2014-11-02 Plays (25): ? players: 2 2 players: 13 3 players: 8 4 players: 1 5 players: 1
Components: I like the artwork as much as that of H&G, but not as much as that of the original; it reminds me a bit of a Where's Waldo? illustration. Overall great quality production.
Experience: Not having to match anything up except roads takes out some of the fun for me, but the added facet of trying to score specific amounts of points in order to acquire the wall tiles adds an interesting flavor to the game. This game benefits from the simplified pasture-scoring of H&G. I think the game works very well for two.
First Played: 2004-01-08 Last Played: 2011-03-13 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Great wooden pieces, nice linen-coated tiles. The art is very detailed, with lots of tiny people on each tile, yet the tiles aren't too busy-looking.
Experience: I don't think I can consider this game without also considering the others in the series. I like the walls, which add a new strategic reason to trigger scoring, and make the city beautifully enclosed by game's end (something the Castle begins with, and the other two definitely lack, with all their unfinished areas). I like the market scoring multiplier. I miss being able to plop down a meeple on the tile I've just played, score a few quick points, and get my meeple back. And like in the Castle, I dislike not having to match up the terrain types; it makes for a less aesthetically pleasing product, and makes it a bit too easy to close sections off (and cut people off). My favorites are still H&G (for the mechanics and game play), and the original (for the art and theme).
Last Played: 2005-03-07 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Nice artwork; tiles and meeples of good quality; handy scoring player aids.
Experience: Despite the simplicity of the scoring, it is difficult to wrap my brain around, perhaps because cities are counted for two terrain types, and tiles are sometimes counted for two terrain types. I find that I do not like having the choice of playing or scoring a meeple, even though it adds flexibility, because I'm prone to leave it for too long, hoping it will be worth more later, when I should just score what I can and move on. There are some opportunities for clever re-scoring of the same area.
First Played: 2006-01-14 Last Played: 2009-05-23 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
The river tiles add another layer of beauty to the completed board. Having to focus firstly on the river tiles creates a micro game board around which the rest of the game will be played. At times, I enjoy this direction at the beginning, as a sort of warm up. But the addition of these tiles does not increase my enjoyment of the game, other than on an aesthetic level.
Brutal. Imprisoning other meeples devalues abbeys completely, encourages us to delay farming until the very end, and encourages us to focus on quick in-and-out scoring. A different sort of game, and one that I don't care to repeat.
Components: Wonderful artwork, worthy of the Days of Wonder imprint. Quality, oversized, stackable coins. Fun rubber ships.
Experience: Interesting bidding/set collection game. Has a bit of Korsar in it (needing to be the highest at the beginning of my turn). Not too many tough choices (it's always worth it to go for the big sets), but deciding where to bid, and whether to hope for an outbid, is fun.
Last Played: 2011-03-08 Eagerness to Play Again: Soon
Components: Attractive board with vivid colors and creative divisions of the sea segments. The ships look cool once assembled, but their height often obscures a water boundary, and it's difficult to see what cargo they are carrying.
Experience: Chaos on the high seas! There are some interesting decisions about where to invest my power, but at times there is only one or two ships of use to a particular player, but are also of use to another player, and each is faced with the task of either going all-out for a ship (and most likely canceling each other out) or backing off and letting the opponent have it. Not my kind of outguessing: the game is a bit too long to comfortably support the uncontrollability of Raj, yet too predictable to be truly exciting.
Last Played: 2005-06-04 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Tons of wooden bits. I like how the territories slide together in abstract maps, and how easily distinguishable the castles are from the paladins.
Experience: Very aggressive. I enjoy merging the territories. I also enjoy the brain battle of looking over at my opponent's reserve, and my own, and trying to calculate what might happen. But I think it's too confrontational for my taste.
First Played: 2003-04-28 Last Played: 2013-04-14 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Cool cowboy meeples. Money that's easy to use. Clear iconography. Good artwork. A few things unclear in the rules (especially regarding roads). I like how the buildings make it easy to keep track of their current worth.
Experience: Solid worker-placement. Every cowboy placement counts (including witholding a cowboy to help in duels), and almost every space is desirable. With 2 players, there were spaces that were never used, but I can see these making sense with more players.
I like the natural balance mechanism of the duels, whereby the loser of a duel will have one additional cowboy to help in subsequent duels, thus making it less likely that they'll lose again. Still, the capriciousness of the duels, especially when dueling over who gets the triple-guns, can really throw a wrench in a person's plans.
The money cap is interesting. If I take an action that allows me to really increase my income, I need to make sure I can also spend that income as well, otherwise I waste it at the 10:1 ratio. The worsening cash-in ratio and fast pace of the game also puts extra pressure on me to think ahead and time my actions just right.
Components: Simple, colorful, thematic, and distinguishable artwork for the six methods of traversing the corridors. The board is a nice linen finish, and the pawns are easy to handle. One of my pawns came without any legs.
Experience: Amusing calculation, chain-building, and balance between advancing and dropping back. Like in a horror movie, if you fall behind, you're a goner.
First Played: 2004-08-21 Last Played: 2013-02-05 Eagerness to Play Again: No desire
Components: Simple, silhouette icons on the gear cards; fun (often gruesome) images on the scenario cards.
Experience: Fun storytelling. The scenario and available gear cards provides a needed constraint on the storyteller, so that they storyteller doesn't feel too pressured to create a story from scratch. I appreciate the “what would you do” problem solving, and having to spin a convincing yarn.
The random teammate is strange and unnecessary. I'm concerned that the scenario cards will become stale quickly.
I thought I would dislike the theme, because I hate zombies. But this isn't strictly zombies (there are cults, monsters, aliens, mobsters, etc.), and I get to create my own victories.
Last Played: 2012-05-01 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Simple wooden discs. Simple, retro artwork. The real problem with the production is realizing the central mechanism of flicking: how do we prevent the discs from flying off the board and disrupting other pieces; how do we know which exact discs were touched by a fast-moving disc?
Experience: In terms of a dungeon crawl, this is brilliant. It perfectly captures the tactical, positional, and real-time aspect of a dungeon fight lacking in other dungeon games I've played.
It's not very strategic. Just flick and hope for the best. And the flicking is so imprecise that it's difficult to play without error.
It's fun even as the overlord.
Last Played: 2012-10-30 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Production: Rotating production cards takes 100% of the fun out of collecting resources. Playing building cards takes 85% of the fun out of building wooden towns and roads. The art on the cards is wonderful, and the text is clean, but on its own the production just doesn't stand out. Play: Way too cut-throat for my tastes. Using arson to destroy each other's buildings makes me feel too unsafe with my city, and the competition for victory points is just too fierce. Oh, and playing with only one opponent takes 99% of the motivation out of trading. (1+0+2) (2 plays)
Components: The standard edition has a usable word-generating paper disc inside the hot-potato mechanism. The first electronic version, which combines the score track, the timer, and the word-generator into one contraption, is much sleaker, but not as easy to use in the rush of gameplay, and lacks the satisfaction one gets from slapping the side of the original version to advance the word wheel. The newer electronic version has a more intuitive interface and does away with the annoying talking points allocation.
Experience: Once one of my favorite "guess the word" games, with players frantically shouting out clues and trying to pass the gizmo along as quickly as possible. However, there is no real continuity from round to round, except for a somewhat mounting tension. A great game, but I've played it waaay too much.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2011-08-15 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: The wooden edition is beautiful and durable, but I'm docking it a point now that I've seen Cathedral-World, which is drop-dead gorgeous.
Experience: Only somewhat interesting, where players attempt to play all their pieces, preferably by claiming territory as their own. I can be tempted into playing this when I'm in the mood for a simple, calm game.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2004-04-17 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Nice art that does as good a job as possible at representing all the types of information. Study components all around, and an attractive board full of information.
Experience: I can see why people could grow to like it, as there is so much going on. For my first play my head was spinning with all the different choices available to me each turn (and the number of choices continued to increase right up to the end). I don't have a grasp on this one yet.
Last Played: 2007-11-04 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Needs cheatsheets about round order and turn options. In my copy, the yellow pieces are actually orange. I think the entire face of each card should match a player's color, rather than having blue and yellow as the dominant color, even though the card might belong to green.
Experience: Interesting how the availability, cost, and value of resources changes throughout the game. It's very difficult to weigh the relative worth of actions; spend one turn earning three points or three turns earning ten? Being able to play some popular cards early on could make a huge difference, especially if it has a permanent, free reward for the owner. As the path grows longer (even with some getting converted to residences and prestige buildings) the number of options increase, and the game plays more slowly.
Last Played: 2010-10-29 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Stunning, detailed artwork for the druids and the board. The board is gorgeous; a joy to behold. Nice, wooden druid pawns. The amulet tiles could be of better quality, and have something to better differentiate them than color; there were several similar colors, and since the color only covers a fraction of the tile, many tiles look alike.
Experience: Not too much going on here. The five cards I'm dealt permit only a very restricted range of possible moves, complimented by my ruins cards, and my plans are affected drastically by the cards my opponent draws, and in which order they are played. My opponent often gave me a huge break, or dashed my plans, both unknowingly. It was fun to be able to expend my cards to land on an amulet-rich space, but I seldom received this reward for having done anything particularly intelligent.
Last Played: 2009-01-04 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Standard boards are garish. I have a set of pawns that are a bit fancy, but not enough to be eye-catching.
Experience: I've never been terribly good at this classic, and some of the most basic strategies still elude me, but I find this to be a relaxing pastime nonetheless. I think I enjoy games of attrition because the equation keeps getting simpler with each move.
Components: I prefer the more abstract representations of the pieces to those portraying characters of some sort. Assuming heavy pieces on a wooden board, I find Chess to be a handsome game.
Experience: I have a chip on my shoulder about this game: because of its popularity, I'm intimidated and discouraged by the amount of thought that has already gone into strategic play. There's nothing for me to discover, and mostly I'll just make bone-headed moves. Like a handful of other popular games (Go, Scrabble, Checkers), it would be more efficient to study how to play well than to learn by playing.
When I'm pitted against someone with comparable skill, it's a fun puzzle to solve. Each move, offensive or defensive, part of a tight machine, where each component serves a purpose and nothing shifts position without consequence.
Last Played: 2013-11-29 Plays (12): ? players: 10 2 players: 2
Components: Fun artwork on the character cards, and nice bidding cards which summarize the attributes of that bid. The sword and spear suits are too similar looking. Traditional deck aside, ideally each card would feature its point value (0, 1, or 3 points), and have a face value that makes sense relative to its strength; explaining that 3 and 2 are the highest, and 4 the lowest, is confusing. The rules are unclear on several bidding and scoring points.
Experience: I have finally gotten to play at least a partial game of this (2 hands), and enjoyed it. The bidding is interesting, especially with regard to the Monte, which adds a quick little deck-building aspect. Although the trick-taking is straight-forward, it is interesting in the way all trick-taking games are. I liked the asymmetrical teams, trying to feed points to my partner (like in Pinochle), or trying to make the minimum of 18 points.
Last Played: 2009-01-10 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Fun, detailed shares. Attractive board with mostly intelligible iconography.
Experience: Auction games are tough the first time around, especially when throwing in the math about how buying a new share will affect the price of shares, and estimating how many times dividends will be paid out by the end. Playing with secret money seems essential.
I like that players have just a simple choice on their turn, to take one of three actions. Extending train lines is fun, and it's clever both how they are funded from the railway's coffers, and how they increase the value of the line. I also like how player turns really influence downstream decisions; not only might my action close off a similar action for the next player, but it might change the value of remaining stock, thus making an auction more appealing. The game moves at a fast pace, and can end suddenly.
Last Played: 2011-09-13 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Vivid, easy-to-understand board; quality cards and wooden-pieces.
Experience: Very simple rules, very quick play. A bit like Forum Romanum or Australia, in that the value of a territory can increase as others become interested in it, because it has a greater chance of filling up and therefore scoring, a mechanism that inspires reluctant cooperation.
First Played: 2006-01-28 Last Played: 2009-12-30 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Cool little rubber frogs that are fun to handle and hop over each other. The board has a nice artistic style, though not stunning.
Experience: Some interesting tactical decisions. There are a few ways to keep a frog out of danger, or to ensure that my frog captures a lotus flower, and there are opportunities to cleverly take advantage of the chain of frogs, to move my own frog efficiently across the lily pads.
Last Played: 2009-01-09 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Functional cards, and lots of them (the important thing). The combination of cards will help the replay value as well.
Experience: Simple, fun recall game. Lots of discussion ensuing as players try to remember film titles, and argue about which titles match the cards. Not exactly fast-paced, though, since it often takes quite a while to think of a match, and there is a cooperative element, trying to help other players in their recall.
First Played: 2009-10-10 Last Played: 2009-12-25 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Great quality cards, and colors which are easy enough to distinguish (a feat, given that there are ten colored suits) though often difficult to name. The usual Amigo linen finish gives the cards great snap.
Experience: The game is quick and surprisingly entertaining for such a simple mechanism. It's a lot of fun to slowly build up my hand, and make tough decisions about settling for a face-up card or chancing the deck. The two specialty attack cards add just enough interaction that it is possible to throw a wrench in someone else's gears.
First Played: 2004-04-21 Last Played: 2015-10-04 Plays (23): 3 players: 10 4 players: 6 5 players: 7
Components: Great artwork on the cards. All-around good production quality except for the character cards, which need to be made of firmer stuff so as not to become marked or worn through repeated use. The most recent Fantasy Flight edition has the nice plastic gold pieces, a wooden crown, and a linen finish on all the cards.
Experience: This game fascinates me. The money/card management and district building is enough for a simple game on its own, but the character cards make the game superb. They really transform the game into a psychological battle, whereby if I can properly guess what others will take, and what others will expect me to take, and which roles others will attack regardless of who takes them, then I can make an informed choice about which character to choose. There is no certainty, of course, but it sure is fun trying to out-guess my opponents.
I've enjoyed this with 2-5 players, but find that it bogs down with more. I love it with 2 or 3, where each player gets two characters, and therefore the possibility to synergize.
The game builds very steadily. The character bonuses for the four colored districts is the only aspect that makes the game start to steamroll. I wouldn't mind if there were more powers on the district cards to increase their engine quality.
First Played: 2003-04-09 Last Played: 2014-11-21 Plays (19): 2 players: 4 3 players: 4 4 players: 7 5 players: 4
Components: Attractive tiles and meeples. Tiles could be improved with iconography that suggests their scoring.
Experience: The theme is fun here; my meeples are sitting about in various plazas, gazing out over the water, taking in the parks. Some tough choices, but mostly just a game of Tetris, trying to find the best place for the drawn tile, without knowing what's coming next. Very light; pleasing.
First Played: 2009-12-06 Last Played: 2014-11-16 Plays (2): 2 players: 2
Components: Lots of sturdy components. The citizens stand up surprisingly well. The art is perhaps too detailed on the buildings, which are difficult to distinguish from each other.
Experience: Interesting game of civil growth. Having the three areas of emphasis voiced by the people is a simple, engaging way to let cities have an assortment of buildings, without each city having numerous special powers. I also appreciate that the voice of the people mechanism, along with the random assortment of cards up for grabs, helps to make each of my turns slightly different. However, overall I don't find the game to be too fun. The central mechanisms—budgeting for population and food, and trying to steal citizens from nearby cities—doesn't do much for me.
First Played: 2004-06-02 Last Played: 2005-02-20 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Experience: Simple, easy to learn, quick-playing; delightful to try to manipulate the formation of villages, without giving away my color. I think it's best with 2 or 3, so that at least two colors are dummies.
First Played: 2003-06-05 Last Played: 2015-01-02 Plays (31): 2 players: 12 3 players: 10 4 players: 7 5 players: 2
Components: Overproduced. There are a lot of components for what is basically just a drafting/collection game. The scoring might have been made a bit easier if the building pieces were just printed on a mat. I would have preferred if the backs of the cards were more distinguishable from the fronts, and if the pieces from the quarry were painted. Still, the game, when set up, is very interesting to look at. The artwork on the quality cards is great. The player aid is exceptional.
Experience: A bit like Ticket to Ride: I eagerly draft specific cards, racing against my opponents when I think they might be trying to build the same thing I am. Artisans are scarce. The cards combine in many interesting ways, and a player must know when it's worth it to spend their merchant tiles. The accumulation of corruption is inevitable; I'm not sure how strategic one can be about avoiding corruption.
Last Played: 2011-02-05 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: The edition I grew up playing had photographs of people modeling as the characters, which made the game seem more adult than it was. So long as they were going to use photos, they should have released an edition using stills of the actors from the film version (my favorite movie). The rooms each have an ugly pattern that fits with the theme but isn't easy on the eyes. The notepads are nice, as are the miniature weapons, but overall the components just don't hold up to my current standards.
Experience: The original deduction game for me, and although I never had a kick-ass-fantastic time playing it, I haven't found a deduction game that I enjoy more.
Components: Superfluous but attractive central board and player boards. The cards each have a wide variety of subjects from which to choose. The 'clay', however, was more like Play-Doh, but of lesser quality, and incredibly difficult to mold, which interfered with the game.
Experience: The speed element moves the game along, and the question-asking tokens enforce strategic questions. Three rounds, with increasing rewards for both the guesser and guessee, works well. But on almost all fronts this game is less fun than Barbarossa. The main problem of Barbarossa, that of useless turns when one lands on a ghost or dragon, is solved here. But the speed element, and elimination of sculptures with only one correct guess, prevent the players from developing any long term relationships with the sculptures, which I find to be the greatest joy in Barbarossa. Also, in Barbarossa players must hammer away at the same sculptures until someone gets enough points to win. In Cluzzle, it is possible for the game to end without anyone having ever made a correct guess.
Last Played: 2006-12-31 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Functional tiles, number-wise, but a bit difficult to shuffle, and they are prone to flipping over, which is a big deal in this game. They could be spruced up with some nice, abstract artwork. And ideally there would be some reminder (on the tiles or as a player aid) that dark tiles go to the left of light tiles; it can be revelatory if a player hesitates before inserting a tile into their code.
Experience: Simple, mildly entertaining deduction game. Lots of luck, but a fast process of elimination. It's interesting how there is a bit of strategy to this, in that if I know a specific tile of someone else's code, I don't necessarily want to expose it, because it also exposes something about mine. And depending on the tile I've drawn (and assuming I've guessed a tile correctly), I might choose to be defensive and strengthen my code, rather than go for the kill. And even though we gang up on one person's code, getting down to just one tile isn't necessarily a losing position.
We play with the dashes.
First Played: 2004-06-14 Last Played: 2013-11-26 Plays (9): 2 players: 5 3 players: 4
Components: Simple artwork with vivid, distinctive colors on high-quality cards. My recent playing companions have had trouble distinguishing the colors on the cards, but I find them perfectly clear and enjoyable.
Experience: Quick game play with press-your-luck tension, crossed with set collection, crossed with the divide-the-pie mechanism. Easy to break out, and plays quickly.
I enjoy backing out of an auction early, to stick my opponents with an undesirable mixed bag.
Very simple, and a bit on the bland side. I count each hand as a separate game.
First Played: 2004-06-12 Last Played: 2013-10-12 Plays (10): 2 players: 1 3 players: 5 4 players: 2 5 players: 2
Components: The card quality has been improved in the latest Fantasy Flight small-box edition. The creature art is wonderful (I prefer the cards in Colossal Arena to Titan: The Arena). I might like a cheat sheet explaining the various powers, rather than cluttering up every card with text.
Experience: Very interesting game, budgeting cards, using them to keep my creatures alive, activate special powers, tank other creatures, and to end a round. I enjoy how the equation gets simpler and simpler as creatures are eliminated. The variety of special powers can be overwhelming, but this gets easier as the creatures become more familiar through repeated play. I prefer this as a two- or three-player game, which feels more strategic, whereas with more players too much can happen in between turns.
First Played: 2004-03-10 Last Played: 2015-02-01 Plays (19): 2 players: 12 3 players: 3 4 players: 4
Components: Lots of cool components. The board is beautiful, and the gladiators, priests, ships, et al. all look really cool. Basically not a thing wrong, except the box is too tight.
Experience: Moves very quickly, and is over before I know it. With only five rounds, I will do well just to complete five events (and there's no shame in performing the same event twice; give the audience what they want to see!). The bidding isn't very tense with three players, but the negotiation can be, especially when it becomes obvious that two players are trying to win over the champions, or are pursuing the same event (that neither has yet purchased).
Last Played: 2010-05-31 Eagerness to Play Again: Soon
Components: It is rare to find a game whose production quality actually interferes with play. Such is the case with this title. The symbols are mostly unattractive, the color scheme features several similar-looking colors that, when paired up in foreground/background color combinations are so ghastly that the symbol can be almost invisible. The symbols and colors are not particularly cosmic to begin with, so I don't think anything would be lost converting them to their more standard counterparts (yellow instead of bronze, regular five-point star instead of elongated star). And in a stellar game, the tiles shouldn't be green. The cards, also, are somewhat difficult to use, because the line tracing over the stars makes the constellation image (a thematic element) more prominent than the star configuration (the more essential bit of information).
Experience: Despite my serious reservations about the production quality, this game was still enjoyable. Trying to match up my score type (e.g. background color) with a constellation's configuration is enjoyable, but what really makes the game interesting is the restriction on only swapping tiles that share a trait other than my own scoring trait. This means that any two opponents are only affecting each other's setup with half their moves, which keeps the game from being too chaotic and frustrating. I'd love to play this in a different edition.
Last Played: 2005-02-04 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Good quality cards that are easy to handle and will withstand repeated shuffling. Wonderful artwork, though the art isn't emphasized enough (too much card space is taken up by borders and text boxes). The iconography is a bit wishy washy; i.e. I always find it confusing when the same symbol is used for generating something (e.g. energy) as for consuming it, because then I have to look to some other aspect of the card to determine whether the card is adding to my total, or subtracting from it.
Thematically, even though I like sci-fi in general, I know that if this were Star Wars themed (it's very close to Star Wars already) I'd like it even more.
Experience: On the one hand, feels like a bit of a mashup between other games, like Dominion (drafting into my deck), Eminent Domain (attacking planets), and Saint Petersburg (competing over a common pool of cards, which become cheaper if overlooked). It's really not much of a deck-building game, in that there are two few cycles through my deck (fewer than five in a game). It's much more of a tight money management game, where I must carefully perform my actions in a specific, efficient sequence, in order to just barely succeed, with little waste.
At first, the game is a bit directionless. I haven't yet felt like I'm honing my deck, or specializing. But as the game progresses I do pick up steam, and am able to ramp up my military more quickly. Players end up having a huge variety of cards in their decks, to the point that I can't keep track of what my opponents are doing; rather I just plan to draft specific cards, and hope the cards will still be available when I'm ready.
First Played: 2012-05-08 Last Played: 2013-12-24 Plays (2): 2 players: 1 3 players: 1
Components: Great design that really realizes the sci-fi theme. The character cards are super thick, the spaceships are hefty and in bright colors, and the planet designs look wonderful.
Experience: I didn't enjoy my one playing of this; it was far too much a tit-for-tat game. As inexperienced players, we never delved too deeply into the negotiation potential, nor handled our special powers too adeptly. But I don't think players should need to be good at a game in order to enjoy it, as seems to be the case with this title.
Last Played: 2002-01-01 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Attractive, well-made dice, with fun symbols.
Experience: The various scoring methods make it fun to see what turns up in each roll, but there are so many obligatory rolls, that, being unable to back out, I feel the game is hardly of the press-your-luck variety.
First Played: 2005-06-06 Last Played: 2005-06-06 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Simple cards that could be improved by having a description on them, especially for the Cleaner. I can see that these cards could be easily marred by use, especially since we constantly look at their backs to determine which team players are on.
Experience: My fellow players and I seemed to universally agree that there is zero information on which to base decisions, so it basically comes down to shooting someone at random, and hoping for the best. Unlike in Are You a Werewolf?, there is no needed negotiation, which means that while two people might begin an earnest interrogation to ferret out the mole, someone else might just shoot, and end the round, thus circumventing the negotiation.
Last Played: 2009-12-29 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: The full-color photographs on the cards are garish but fun. The timer works well, with its large button for slapping. Blue and purple are a bit samey on the die.
Experience: Lots of fun. Playing all as one team is tense and allows all players to be active each turn. Restricting me to one type of clue-giving, yet allowing me to select from a card from my hand creates an interesting challenge.
Cloodle, Soundstage, and Tongue-tied all work well. Tweener is a bit nebulous, as we can easily begin to say whatever we want, since many cards don't naturally fit into a size comparison.
Knowing when to use the wild tokens can be crucial.
Players can change the amount of time available to adjust the level of challenge. Also, we leave the timer running during the entire game, rather than pausing it between turns, to increase the tension.
First Played: 2005-07-29 Last Played: 2013-04-20 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Simple components. The cards are difficult to shuffle. The points chips are nice and chunky. Games that rely on selecting the best from a pool (Apples to Apples, Dixit, etc.) need to have a LOT of cards to promote replayability, especially if there is nothing particularly dynamic about the card combinations. This game needs more cards.
Experience: Fun. I'm a big fan of these know-your-neighbor type party games (Ostrakon, What's It To Ya, etc.), and Whoonu doesn't disappoint in this respect, resulting in some interesting and fun conversations about what we like best, and why, and how exactly we interpret the meaning of the card before ascribing a value to it.
We played a variant whereby we select from a larger pool of cards four cards intended for each other player. Then, one at a time, our cards competed against each other to win a single victory point chip. E.g. we all put forward one card for a player to choose from, and the winner gains 1 VP. After each player has awarded 1 VP, we then all compete for 2 VP, etc. There is some strategy for this, as we might put our best card toward the 3 VP chip, if we think we don't have a chance competing for a 4 VP chip.
First Played: 2012-11-09 Last Played: 2013-12-05 Plays (4): 3 players: 3 7 players: 1
Components: [Crazy Chicken edition] Humorous artwork on easily-distinguishable cards, but the cards are not high quality, and the box's plastic insert is designed as a draw tray, even though the game requires a deck set-up that disallows the use of the draw tray.
[Drive edition] Easy to distinguish, but not as fun to look at as the chickens.
Experience: I read the rules and thought, "Is that all there is?" Having now played it, I realize that yes, there is nothing more to it than the rules let on, but the process of following those rules is slightly more enjoyable than I had expected. As the game progresses players are faced with decisions about whether to lay down what they have, or continue building up a set to make it more secure upon being laid down. There are subtle decisions to be made, but not thrilling ones. There are also huge swings in points, and in my most recent playing, I found that several moves I might take to gain more points would actually end the game, with me the loser.
This game is similar to Knizia's Vampire.
First Played: 2004-06-05 Last Played: 2014-03-28 Plays (8): 2 players: 8
Components: An oddly-shaped but sturdy plastic board; octagon tiles, each with 'tracks' sticking up a good half centimeter. The tracks are easy to handle and fun to play.
Experience: A bit directionless. Allowing players to move or rotate their own pieces allows for a near-endless cycle of almost-theres thwarted, or a swift, lucky victory. Laying the tiny junction pieces is probably key.
Last Played: 2003-04-13 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Stunning artwork all around. The board, god, and creature art are all magical. The miniatures are super cool, especially the fact that each player's pieces are different.
Experience: Unfortunately, the theme just doesn't go with the game mechanics. Half of this game is a tight economic game, with bidding, earning income, investing in tech, and buying improvements. The other half is a war game, with in-your-face aggression that is out of my comfort zone. Neither of these really fit with the fantasy theme I was hoping for. Feels like Hellas on steroids.
With so much conquering going on, it seems pointless to even invest in my own buildings when someone else can just come take them.
The creature cards add some cool effects, but not enough to really make it fun. There is a lot of chaos.
I'd like to play again, but hopefully with more players so I can see the board and auction in all its glory, and hopefully turtle into some corner of the map.
Last Played: 2011-11-01 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Fun feet on the dice, but it makes it difficult to quickly recognize their face values. I like that they named each space on the board after a particular dance.
Experience: No strategy, just lucky roles, and an enjoyable reveal as we see what everyone else has performed. It's nice to win a dance with what I thought was a poor routine, and it's disappointing to lose with something as stellar as a tango. There are numerous better Yahtzee-inspired dice games out there (my favorites include Dice Town, Alhambra: the Dice Game, Knights, and even Yahtzee itself).
First Played: 2007-11-04 Last Played: 2011-03-06 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Neat characters, forming a continuous progression from David to Goliath. There is nothing in the game but cards; it could have come in a much smaller box.
Experience: Really chaotic. Toward the end of a hand, I can figure out what is still out there, and start to try really hard to win/avoid certain tricks. But until that moment, there is so much chaos. And accidentally winning/losing a trick can just be disastrous to my score.
First Played: 2009-01-02 Last Played: 2015-03-29 Plays (3): 3 players: 1 6 players: 2
Components: Fun art; awesome miniatures (especially the generals). The board is way too big, and the locations on the board difficult to distinguish.
Experience: With 4 players: Lots of fun. Much more enjoyable than Pandemic and Forbidden Island. It does a good job of evoking the fantasy theme. It doesn't quite have the “doom approaching” feeling of Lord of the Rings (the Knizia boardgame), but it is tense nonetheless.
We won our first game; there were some close calls, but mostly cool heads and steady rolls prevailed, leaving us to wonder if it isn't a bit too easy. Time will tell.
We played without the King's Champion winning condition, which completely contradicts the idea of a cooperative game. Either the game is cooperative, or it isn't. I dislike games that seem to think everyone losing isn't a tie. If I were playing this game competitively, I would view a mutual loss as a tie for the win, and would therefore only play to complete as many quests as possible.
Playing it cooperatively, I'm impressed with how it transcends the pseudo-cooperation of Pandemic, in which we can counsel each other, but don't need to work together too closely. In Defenders, we had to coordinate our turns to be in the right place together at the right time.
With 2 players: Doesn't seem to work at all. There just aren't enough heroes on the board, or hero cards in circulation to stand a chance against the generals. We are able to keep the board from being overrun, but we played for over two hours before aborting, and with the board ending pretty much as we started, except for a few generals being within striking distance of Monarch City.
First Played: 2012-11-24 Last Played: 2012-12-01 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Experience: A tough game, emotionally. I haven't had the fun experience the game is supposed to provide, because my fellow gamers and I have taken it too seriously, becoming offended when a vote winner doesn't help out a fellow voter. I can see that others would enjoy this, but for me I doubt I'll play again.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2002-01-01 Eagerness to Play Again: Never
Components: The art on Four Dragons is more attractive, but the layout for Dia De Los Muertos is more functional.
Experience: Definitely interesting. As I play it more, hopefully I will get a better sense of what each player holds, and how cards will interact with each other. There appear to be slight differences between the rules of the two versions.
Last Played: 2005-05-21 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Good quality cards; vivid colors; interesting font for the numbers. Too abstract though; the theme would have been helped if the cards had illustrations on them as well.
Experience: Interesting investment game. It's easy enough to try to sink a color I'm not collecting, but to score well in a color, I must balance my cards of that color well. I dislike that I may draw a card for a color that has already been locked in at negative points; this is outside the player's control, and there's nothing to be done to avoid it or to get rid of the card, so it affects players haphazardly.
Last Played: 2009-01-03 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Cool ore carts, miners, and gems, and nice artwork on the cards. With the amount of shuffling the cards must endure, I'd like them to be of better quality.
Experience: A bit of fun, but the only real thrills are a) seeing if I have managed to exit alone, or must share, and b) seeing a big treasure surface when I am alone or nearly alone in the cave. There just aren't too many decisions, and as press-your-luck games go, this one doesn't feel tense enough.
First Played: 2005-06-06 Last Played: 2005-11-20 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Great artwork for the board and the cards. The poker dice are functional. The money, though small, works surprisingly well.
Experience: I was skeptical of the keep-only-one-die rule at first, but it ends up being such a nail-biting source of contention. Usually all or almost all of the town's buildings are attractive, but the competition can be vicious, whether for the Bank because we're low on cash, or for the Saloon to steal (or keep another player from stealing), or for the Town Hall when there are some juicy claims on display. Very fun, and plays quickly.
The Saloon is too powerful, especially in a two-player game, when stealing a 5-point claim card is a 10-point swing. Or the 8-point horse is a 16-point swing! We play with a variant that winning the Saloon entitles the winning player to draw one random card, regardless of the number of queens rolled. Even then, the game usually comes down to who has the horse.
Been playing with the expansion recently. More fun, as players gain more goodies each turn, and the importance of some of the general store cards is lessened. But it does get a bit chaotic with 6 players.
First Played: 2010-06-11 Last Played: 2015-08-30 Plays (20): 2 players: 7 3 players: 8 4 players: 2 5 players: 2 6 players: 1
Components: Fairly bare-bones in some respects. I like the little pouches to hold the cards, but the character cards could have at least been in color; they're clearly based on the movie version of the characters, not the comic version, so make it bright!
Experience: I'm not sure I ever actually got someone to play this with me; perhaps I just set it up and goofed around with it. My memory is that it is fairly simple—just a few hairs removed from a roll-and-move game.
Components: Nice artwork, but on tiny tiles. I like the player boards; there is a lot of information packed on there that makes it look confusing, but it all serves as valuable reference once I understood the rules.
Experience: So many different choices. Applying two die rolls to four actions and then considering the +1/-1 bonuses and any immediate bonuses from other buildings; wow, a lot to think about Looking forward to trying this again.
Components: The tiles are overproduced, as they are difficult to shuffle, but don't display information any better than cards would. Yet the equipment cards are underproduced, and not being able to draw directly on the board is a pain. Either the board should be marker-safe, or the plastic cover should be affixed to the board. The box is very sturdy, with spaces for everything, and the clue gadget is functional.
Experience: As others have commented, the most entertaining part of the game is the initial deduction, attempting to orient myself on the island. The ensuing race to the clues, and then to the treasure, is fairly by-the-numbers. I would play it again, but perhaps with some rules changes to place more emphasis on the fun part.
Last Played: 2004-06-05 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Perfectly beautiful cards. The expansions help to ensure the freshness of the quantity. The score track inside the box is clever, but without it the game could have fit inside a much smaller box. This game easily lends itself to being played with more people, so it would be nice if by default the game came with pieces for 8, instead of for 6.
Expanded by Odyssey, the scoretrack is much better, and the voting peg boards are much simpler to use and score. Big improvement.
Experience: Limiting the storyteller to one, terse sentence is a great way to both ensure ambiguity and ease the anxiety of those nervous playing creativity-based games. It is very much like a game version of Chris Van Allsburg's book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. We end up telling cute little tales, and it's fun trying to determine which of the cards best matches the story or phrase. There are some times when every card seems a perfect match; and times when none of the cards seem to fit.
To make a quick contrast to Apples to Apples; in that game, I often find myself not having any good card to fit with the active description, and so I burn a particularly flat card from my hand just to get rid of it. In Dixit, every card is precious, and can be used in any number of wonderful situations. The cards each have have enough complexity that we find ourselves focusing on different aspects of the cards, and then later discussing why such-and-such card was/wasn't a good fit, and what we think is going on in the picture. Very entertaining.
One potential problem: unlike in Thingamajig or Ostrakon, in Dixit the active player doesn't care how many players pick their card, just so long as they split the group (although every player who picks someone else gives away a free point). So the active player has an incentive to construct some cryptic riddle intended to be understood by just one person at the table, which is less fun.
First Played: 2011-01-16 Last Played: 2015-01-10 Plays (5): 4 players: 1 5 players: 2 6 players: 1 7 players: 1
Components: Attractive board, easy-to-handle wooden buildings, and chunky adviser pawns.
Experience: The blind commitment isn't as much fun for me here as in Citadels, nor is the territory-control as much fun as in San Marco, but there are interesting things going on, especially watching the upcoming scoring order of the districts, and deciding how to use my advisor reward.
Last Played: 2005-03-02 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: The seven and the one look alike, and I would have preferred a side index on the player cards, but as usual I am smitten with Matthäus's simple, soft artwork.
Experience: Interesting decisions about which columns to commit to, and how strongly to commit, for fear of accidentally capturing a less-than-desirable luxury item. Despite the open information and resulting tactical play, it goes quickly and the choices are not straight forward.
First Played: 2004-05-12 Last Played: 2009-07-31 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Nice artwork and clear iconography. The shear number of cards is a bit of overkill (the game could come with far fewer copper cards, for instance), but most of my plays are with two players, so I might just not have a grasp of how many cards come into circulation with more players. The compartmental insert is greatly appreciated; yes, it's still difficult to find a particular card type (even with the handy divider label), but I much prefer this to just a stack of cards, or bagging them all separately.
Experience: Very fast-paced, to the point of it being my turn again before I've even refreshed my hand. An exciting, frantic race.
It is a lot of fun to draw a hand of five cards and play it out. I like a lot of luck in my games, to give me something to blame when I lose, and to present me with fresh choices at every turn. For any given hand, this game delivers on the luck, but that luck, in the long run, is tightly controlled by the buying choices I make. I'm hardly ever forced to add a card to my deck, nor is a card often forcibly removed from my deck, so most of the cards in my deck are there by my choosing, and so I'm usually thrilled with all the cards I draw each turn.
Playing action cards is mostly straight-forward; I don't mind that; it is the payoff from having bought them, i.e. I only bought them so that I could play them, and now I'm getting to play them. Buying cards is more thought-provoking. In many cases I can still do it on auto-pilot, but even the simplest of such decisions are balanced by the fact that the decisions happen quickly and frequently, and thus aren't individually burdened with carrying the weight of whether I enjoy the game or not. The sum of those 20+ decisions over the course of the game is definitely enjoyable.
There are only a few action cards that allow for direct player interaction, which is fine with me. In most games I like to build my own sandcastles and not have them knocked down by others. And of course I must watch what my opponent is doing and adjust accordingly, just as in Race for the Galaxy.
I've read a few comments recently that suggested some players might not always buy a Province if able. So far I've never passed up this chance, even early in the game, or even if the card is the penultimate Province card. Gardens aside, with 8 copper and any number of buys it is the best bang-for-my-buck, and only pollutes my deck with one non-actionable card. Thus far, having 5+ Provinces in a 2 player game has always been a trait of the winning player (5 Provinces to my opponent's 3 being a 12-point swing), so it seems advantageous to grab these as aggressively as possible.
Recently started playing a variant whereby each player has five random types of kingdom cards uniquely available to them, and am really liking this variant. It prevents any sort of mirroring strategy, and with fewer choices I often employ kingdom cards that would not have looked as attractive among twice as many of its peers. If I had to pick the single thing I most enjoyed about all games, I'd probably say it's the “work with what you've got” challenge of card games, and this variant delivers on this even more than does the initial constraint of 10 kingdom cards, but still leaves enough options available to me for interesting decisions.
Update: Despite Dominion being a great game, I don't think I'll play it anymore, as Thunderstone scratches the same mechanism itch, but with so much more that I enjoy. But I'll probably always have a soft spot in my heart for Dominion.
First Played: 2009-02-15 Last Played: 2011-11-27 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: A nice, heavy ceramic set can be great fun to play with, and the tiles always look pretty when played.
Experience: The dominoes games I've played have been relaxing and enjoyable. They fall within the point-maximization category of games, of which I'm not fond, but I enjoy the added element of 'card' counting, and playing so that others' options are diminished whereas my own stay plentiful.
Components: Wonderful 3-D plastic sculpturing. There is great water texture around the center piece, and the curving tracks give the game a zany and interesting appearance.
Experience: This is one of my grandfather's games, so I'm biased in favor of it. I remember enjoying it quite a bit. The only decision is when to release one's ball, but it can be fun to adjust my timing (and the ship changes up its speed erratically, just to keep players guessing). Not really for adults, but great for kids.
Components: Beautiful board and components; the narrowness of the river pieces, of which I was dubious at first, turned out to be a plus, as it made them easier to place and remove when there were Campesinos and Casas dotting the landscape.
Experience: Reminds me a bit of Mexica, where on my turn I try to maximize my possible movement, to improve my position, and then trigger a scoring. The mechanics are very sleek, including that by which the river is redirected. In future plays I expect that the down time in between turns will bother me more; so much can happen between turns, with the rivers being redirected every which way, that it is almost painful to watch what I am powerless to prevent. In this particular outing I wasn't too bothered by it, as I was still learning the game; but in a playing where I am more invested in winning, I might want to avert my eyes when it's not my turn.
Last Played: 2004-05-17 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Fun artwork that is obscured by overly-complicated layout design. The numbers should be much larger; the smart phone thematic border is just visual noise, as is the dossier flavoring on the board; the numbers on the backs of the cards should be higher up, to make for easier stacking.
Experience: After one playing, I don't quite get it. Seems very, very random. I'm not much for bluffing; I do like deduction; but this game doesn't seem to have much of either. There is so little information to go on, and so little I can do to intelligently disrupt my opponent, that I felt I was just enacting some crime drama to see what happens, but without having a true impact on the outcome. I'm willing to play this again, but only to get my money's worth.
Last Played: 2011-09-10 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Simple, sturdy cards, and a nice little score track with accompanying pawns.
Experience: Amusing press-your-luck game. The rewards seem well balanced between consistent low points and occasional high points. I like that each player has a hand of cards, as it adds an unknown element to predicting what other players will do.
First Played: 2008-07-21 Last Played: 2008-07-22 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Beautiful board, with lots of ambient details that add to the theme without detracting from the functionality. The cards are simple, but easy on the eyes. The tiles are up to Amigo standards, though there could perhaps have been a more gushing-lava design to them, rather than the veins of lava they now sport.
Experience: Very interesting two-phase game. Both phases feature limited numbers of attractive moves, yet there are engaging decisions to be made. The first phase is very different from the second; in the first, players budget their cards to cleverly get as many followers on the board as possible, and nearest the exits; in the second phase, it is a puzzle, a la Chinese Checkers, to efficiently transport followers toward the exits. There is a lot of chaos in the final attack of the lava, but the game moves quickly enough that the final phase seems exciting rather than anti-strategic.
First Played: 2005-01-24 Last Played: 2010-01-11 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: (Jekyll & Hyde edition) Artwork that is not particularly pleasant to look at, but is well done and evokes a sort of subdued violence, appropriate for the theme. The cards are of acceptable quality, though not as nice as they could be. There are only 30 cards in the entire game, so having such an oversized box is silly. The numbers are, at times, difficult to read from a distance.
Experience: This is a tough game to wrap my brain around. First, I must figure out the rankings of the cards, and how some win tricks, and others win points. Second, I must figure out when to call on others to play on my behalf, and upon whom to call. One of the more mind-bending trick-taking games I've played. I'm impressed that such an interesting system has been built from half the number of cards typical in other card games. The low number of cards works to the game's advantage, as the cards are countable: whereas the first few plays from another player's hand involve mere guesswork, over the course of the seven tricks I become more and more certain of what each player holds, and is able to play (or request play) accordingly.
First Played: 2004-06-06 Last Played: 2010-01-09 Eagerness to Play Again: Soon
Components: Hefty wooden pawns, and a great board. The cards are of average quality, but the artwork is pleasing to look at.
Experience: It wasn't until the end of my first (and only) game that I felt I really understood all the elements. There is a real tension about where to place my victims/coffins. I almost wish I had just included them all into my initial shuffle, because it was too unnerving to watch my opponent zero in on them, like playing Stratego with multiple flags to be captured. And the board is so tiny, I felt there was nowhere to hide.
With very little variety in the encounter cards, the game still manages to be complex, and despite the limited number of cards on the board, it was all I could do to just remember which belonged to which player, without actually remembering what their values were. Perhaps not my type of game, being a bit too tense for my tastes, but a good game, nonetheless.
Last Played: 2005-02-21 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Experience: Very random. I don't see any way to predict where the dragon will end up. With more players, I expect the game to be even more chaotic. It left me feeling like I was watching something happen, but not like I was actually participating. I play each scoring as a separate game.
First Played: 2009-01-27 Last Played: 2009-01-27 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Recognizable player colors distinguish the otherwise identical sets of adventurer cards. The cards don't see much wear, so their durability is not a huge issue. The dragon cards are attractive and clear. The wooden treasures, the bag, and the player screens are all welcome.
Experience: Interesting hand management (of only 4 cards), trying to time it just right to slay dragons or steal gold. The negotiation facet has not been a huge component in my games. I have only played without the special action cards.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2002-01-01 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Attractive and functional tiles, with lots of added detail that doesn't distract from the play, but enhances the theme.
Experience: Far too chaotic for its length; it seemed to take forever for one player to gain the requisite amount of gold, because the other players could all design the dungeon in such a way as to make it very difficult for the leader to triumph, thus prolonging the game. I felt very little control over my fate. Makes me want to play some other dungeon game; just not this one.
Last Played: 2002-01-01 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Cute fairy art, and sturdy tiles, druids, and ring. The colors aren't as vivid as they could be, given the sun and moon theme. The clock-wise/counter clock-wise symbols could be more obvious.
Experience: This game isn't as bizarre as people make it out to be. After a few rounds the possible moves become more intuitive, especially since a player has at most three cards from which to make a play selection. There are a few interesting decisions to be made, and I can see where better foresight would lead to a stronger position.
Last Played: 2004-07-03 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Good tiles with interesting artwork; they look a bit busy when all in play, but the three road types are easy to differentiate, as are the building themes. I wouldn't mind if there were some mechanism allowing me to quickly see which buildings had been covered, rather than hunt all around the board adding up what's left.
Experience: I've only played this as a two-player game, and have enjoyed it as such. There's quite a bit of bluff, and double-think, as well as budgeting my tiles and voting cards. Still, I think this would be better with more players.
First Played: 2005-02-20 Last Played: 2010-08-22 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Nice sturdy pawns and board. The artwork is well done, with an unusual subdued color scheme. The cards could be of a better quality.
Experience: I'm pleasantly surprised by this one. The mixture of hand-management, bluff, and luck is quite enjoyable. The rounds move along quickly, and players have plenty of opportunity for clever card play.
Last Played: 2005-02-04 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Gorgeous components, doing much to aid in the thematic immersion. I appreciate the minor details that differentiate the various adventurers. The iconography is clear, despite so many different functions being communicated. The imps are great.
Experience: First game, two players, clocked in at 4.5 hours. Wow; that's epic (that includes rules and the four training scenarios). There seems to be a disjoint between the order resolution and the combat phase. So much of the game hinges on what happens during combat, and there is such a puzzle element to defeating the encroaching adventurers efficiently, that the game might be better served to minimize the amount of time spent outside of the combat phase (e.g. by simplifying the order resolution). Very eager to try again. With those nasty do-gooder Paladins romping about it doesn't pay to be evil! (The scoring is disheartening; to spend so long on a game, and only earn four points as my reward.)
Second game, a slim 2 hours. Absolutely brutal. This is an unforgiving game. There were several order phases where I miscalculated and ended up either taking zero actions with my minions, or actually being a bit worse off because of my actions (e.g. investing my resources in a monster, who I then was unable to feed come payday). Unlike in many other games, my mistakes do not necessarily benefit my opponent. There is little we can do during the orders phase to adjust to miscalculations, and the combat phase is just an all-out brawl with the adventurers, throwing everything we've got at them to keep them out of our precious dungeon. This game is very difficult to play.
Third game. Just too brutal. I shoot myself in the foot, and my foot shoots back. My mistakes are hard to foresee, and even more difficult to correct. The combat phase is so much more fun than the worker placement phase; I'd much prefer to have a game that focused mostly on the combat. I don't think I'll be playing this again.
First Played: 2011-03-26 Last Played: 2012-05-19 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: The dungeon squares look great, and have all sorts of great details on them. Having to stack a pawn/token atop an object makes it difficult to tell what that object is. The cards are functional.
Experience: A bit of a brain burner. There are so many ways to spend my action points that it takes me a while to think through my entire turn. Rotating the rooms is fun, opening up new corridors for my characters, and trapping those of my opponent. I like that we place each other's pieces in newly discovered rooms. I dislike the blind aspect of the combat. Feels a bit like work to get my team all the way through.
Last Played: 2009-06-19 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: The pictures are great, as are the numbered details ranging from obvious to very particular. Seems there are enough cards to last many games.
A few production flaws keep it from being perfect. First, special care must be taken to not spoil any images. I'm having to develop my own system to ensure used cards are kept separate from the fresh cards, and that cards aren't spoiled as they are handed to the next player.
Second, the scoring is cumbersome. The bonus question seems fiddly and random. The scoring for the art director is accomplished much more easily by just asking the player who scored the most points to identify which questions they missed, and ask if anyone else got those correct; recording a matrix of every person's answer to every question is time consuming and unnecessary. The scoring boxes themselves could be simpler, just as the numbers 1-10, and players could circle the numbers corresponding to correct answers. When we run out of custom score sheets, we can take this approach.
Just played where there's no random bonus question, players score one point for each correct answer, and the art director gets points equal to the highest score that round. Makes things much simpler.
Experience: Super fun. As the art director, it is challenging to list quickly every important detail, and in a logical order: rough outlines of where things will go, then finer details to fill in the spaces. As an artist, there is lots of guesswork, and anticipation of information. It's fun to visualize an image I've never seen. Seeing everyone's drawings in the end is lots of fun, noting who captured the details correctly, but also how similar all the images are.
First Played: 2013-11-29 Last Played: 2015-10-04 Plays (10): 3 players: 1 4 players: 5 6 players: 2 7 players: 1 8 players: 1
Components: Easy-to-handle camels, scoring tokens, and scoring tiles. The infamous colors are unusual, but playable.
Experience: I enjoy the four different ways to score, the simplicity of my turn, and the quick pacing of the game (its marriage of slow, always-have-a-turn's-warning pacing with not-enough-time-to-do-everything-I-want anxiety). The more I play it the more convinced I am of its brilliance.
Beginning with the initial placements, the game is immediately tense. Every move is a battle to solidify boundaries, to fork opponents and force tough choices, and to position myself for maximum flexibility. It's interesting to gauge the relative worth of a scoring opportunity, weighed against the effort to achieve it. And I must always keep a close watch on the camel supply.
First Played: 2004-06-20 Last Played: 2014-11-21 Plays (15): 2 players: 6 3 players: 2 4 players: 4 5 players: 3
Components: Attractive and well-made game. The pieces are a pleasure to handle and stack, and stacked columns are very sturdy.
Experience: Easy to learn. I use a random setup. The opening moves often feel a bit arbitrary, but as the game progresses and the possible choices diminish, the strategy and tension ratchets up a few notches. Lots of opportunity for clever play, for protecting my important stacks, and for threatening my opponent's stacks.
Like in TZAAR, being aggressive isn't necessarily a good thing: later in the game, I might have used up my easy moves and be forced to make a move I don't want to.
GIPF series rank: 1 of 7 (three-way tie with YINSH and TZAAR).
First Played: 2004-02-18 Last Played: 2015-02-01 Plays (23): 2 players: 23
Components: Very poor production quality. The clues are the absolute worst, as they are printed on 8 1/2” x 11” paper, loose leaf, and players collect these sheets as they travel around town. I would love to make an improved edition, but can't imagine how to do so without spoiling the mysteries.
Experience: A lot of fun. Were it not for the poor production quality I would want to play it repeatedly. The cooperative element works nicely, and the cases that I've attempted have been fairly involved, with lots of false leads, and a dubious solution, so that deduction is required right to the last, despite our having acquired all available evidence. I really feel like I am exploring the town and getting to know its inhabitants.
Lots of discussion as we attempt to identify the crime, the victim, the culprit, the motive, the method, etc. Sifting through a lot of data, half of which is misleading, is a fun social puzzle. A fun alternative to Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2011-09-21 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Funny little rubber statues. Fairly bland board. Absurdly funny theme.
Experience: Very tactical. There are lots of opportunities for setting up forks and for taking my opponent by surprise. I must keep a careful balance between placement, orientation, and sun tokens. I was pleasantly surprised by this one.
Last Played: 2009-01-20 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Neat board, with cut-outs for the randomly-placed scoring tokens. The cards are functional, except the forward/backward cards could be more distinguishable from each other. Unattractive score-board. The metal vehicle pawns would be easier to distinguish if there were colored like their images on the cards.
Experience: I enjoy the partnership play, trying to set things up for my teammate, or to be careful to not leave an opening for my opponents. On any given turn, there are often tough choices about which card to play, but if I am early in the turn order, it does feel a bit random, and toward the end of the game I was left with many cards that I did not want to play. The secret goals might be more effective if the multipliers were 3/1/0/-2, instead of 3/2/1/0. As is, our opponents were backing the same vehicles as us, just with slightly different emphases. Not as bad as many people have written, but neither is it exciting.
Last Played: 2009-01-17 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Production: Great illustrations, with a lot of variety within each tribe, but still enough of a theme uniting tribe members so that they seem distinct from other tribes. The cards are Amigo's usual great quality (the English edition, by West End Games, features cards poorer in quality). However, the cards should come with stands; it is such a pain to keep flipping up cards to see what's underneath, and to see how the card can move, and spinning the card before battle is cumbersome. The game would be better served by an actual gridded board than its current virtual board. Play: On the spectrum from Chess to Stratego, if such a spectrum can be supposed, El Moondo is much closer to Stratego. The pieces have unique movement patterns, like in Chess, but in all other respects this game is like Stratego, but without Stratego's elegance. It's quick and somewhat fun, but the card flipping seriously inhibited my enjoyment. I want to play again, but mostly just to try the different tribes and get my money's worth. (1+1+2) (1 play)
Components: I love anything Doris Matthäus; this board is very handsome, as are the tiles and cards.
Experience: There was something missing for me. I was dealt a hand of cards, I chose my tiles, then placed my tiles, all in preparation for my trip; then I completed my trip, as it was planned. I feel the game is all setup and resolution, without a crucial middle to make it engaging. I did find it interesting to work out my path, given my hand of cards and the tiles available, but it was not enough to make me want to play again.
Last Played: 2004-05-19 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Wonderful board artwork that is actually a bit difficult to path at first, but becomes very functional after a few turns. The dragon and knight pawns are good, wooden bits. The art on the cards is simple but attractive.
Experience: In my one two-player outing, this was a game of turn maximization, trying to move two pawns rather than one, trying to get the highest gold or a coveted gem, trying to be first to the treasure layer. It was kind of a crap shoot at first, just rushing my knights through, trying to grab the goods. But the game became increasingly more tactical as fewer spaces still held rewards.
Last Played: 2005-03-12 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Nice artwork on the planet and research cards. Good iconography. Very cool ships. The design of the role cards, though, which occupy the bulk of the game activity, is very plain.
Experience: Dominion + Race for the Galaxy, but without being as good as either. The overlap is so extensive that I don't see this game adding much to my gaming life. (It's a bit of a turn off for me how the roles map so similarly to RftG phases, how the starting deck size and hand size match those in Dominion, and how there are the same number of VP chips as in a 2-player game of RftG; just feels like a mash-up.)
It's cool how cards can be used as actions, as roles, or to follow another player. But it gets really confusing when someone chooses their action, and we all think we can follow it, since we're using the same language to describe actions and roles.
Military seems much more powerful than colonizing, since cards don't get tied up on the table (and can thus continue to produce ships), and I needn't commit my ships to any particular planet until I have enough to conquer. I follow on colonize just to get the cards out of my deck for free.
Like in RftG, I can see there are some different strategies to employ. I want some diversity, because that will allow me to be flexible and piggy-back off my opponents, but mostly this seems to be a game of specialization, to pick a couple of roles that work well together and hammer them into the ground.
The game is over very quickly, but without being satisfying. Lives in the shadow of its predecessors.
First Played: 2011-10-11 Last Played: 2012-03-06 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: The cards are a bit loud and busy, but they are mostly functional, and the detail on them can be amusing to look at.
Experience: The set-collecting, the resource management, the production, and the trading are all interesting. However, I feel that each of these mechanisms have been done in a very similar fashion, and to better effect, in other, more established games (Bohnanza, Catan). There were a few interesting moments, but nothing that left me wanting to play it again.
Last Played: 2005-03-09 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Experience: A set-collection game, but one with too many cards, so I never had a sense of what my opponents were collecting. Whether Aunt Mary gets married seems arbitrary; as Aunt Mary, we each have opportunities to make a set of cards that will reveal a new boyfriend, but early in the game game we don't yet know how close to the 50-point threshold we will be at game's end, so there is no intelligence behind doing this early; and doing it later in the game might be too late to reveal the wedding card. The bidding is fairly straight forward, but again somewhat arbitrary, since I didn't know what my opponent's were after, nor even what I was after, other than a particular color for the bonus.
Last Played: 2009-01-10 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Humorous but somewhat disturbing artwork on solid cards.
Experience: With a small hand (only six cards), there isn't much room for foresight. In a two player game, I found myself intentionally eating a few cards, so not to waste my big combos, but the pot seldom climbed very high, as combos were seldom seen. For the most part, if I could beat the pot, I did. In a four-player game, however, the pot just grew and grew, and the player who finally took it lost. There are a few interesting strategic choices, about taking the pot when it is low, but for the most part, very straight forward.
First Played: 2008-12-31 Last Played: 2010-05-21 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Solid components all around. Good iconography on the dice.
Experience: So, so manic. It's very difficult to play without accidentally cheating because so much is going on at once, and dice are flying off the table, and we trying to move between rooms and to help uncurse each other.
It's a fun experience, and we got much better as a team over the course of three games. But now that we've won once, it somewhat dampens my desire to play again, without at least adding in the modules.
First Played: 2013-12-11 Last Played: 2013-12-11 Plays (3): 4 players: 3
Components: Chunky meeples and a cool-looking board. More information on the cards than necessary (I don't mind flavor text, but the layout of the various numbers bothers me). I like the visual effect of countries being covered as they join the EU, but it isn't easy find their corresponding pieces among a big pile.
Experience: With three players, this doesn't work so well. There are too many countries to pick from, and typically adding just a meeple or two to a country only guarantees that the country will come to a vote, but without threatening the plurality held by the player who had already placed meeples there. We also often found ourselves in a bit of a king-maker position, where the third person would pick an already-occupied country arbitrarily, thus forcing that opponent to share their points, while the other opponent was unthreatened. I'd like to try again with more players.
Last Played: 2010-05-28 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Each machine is unique; impressive. Other than that, a bit blank, but functional.
Experience: Not sure what this game is all about. Some machines just seem to fit, whereas others require way too much work. Not sure what the balance is between infrastructure and efficiency. Very punishing for someone who starts to get behind; once the leader has a commanding lead, they can start to play more conservative.
Way too much downtime for the player who chose an easy-to-place machine.
First Played: 2012-07-15 Last Played: 2012-10-14 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Z-Man edition. Beautiful fantasy art. The card symbology is well-designed, in that the symbols are simple and different from each other, but they do clutter up the cards a bit because of their size and square shape, detracting from the imagery. The faction icon is mostly unnecessary, since it duplicates the information conveyed by the card's border color; the category icon could be more thematic. The card name is difficult to read, and nearly impossible to read when listed as the support card for another card. In looking at the newer edition by What's Your Game, I see that the iconography has been improved greatly, both functionality and thematically.
Experience: An interesting drafting mechanism mixed with a few interesting decisions makes for a relaxing, somewhat enjoyable card game. Despite the presence of some attack cards, the game doesn't feel terribly confrontational; the tension comes from competing over limited resources and trying to have the most of this or that. The Draw 5/Play 3 mechanism ensures that players have some wiggle room to react to what their opponents do. But I only rarely find myself caring what my opponents have just done.
I'm not discovering much new with the game from repeated plays. With few players, there are too few cards in circulation to make it probable that a player will draft the cards necessary to score some of the more lucrative bonus cards. More fun with three than with two.
First Played: 2005-02-05 Last Played: 2012-05-18 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Simple iconography. Fun art; I appreciate the distinct images on each card.
Experience: Simple and fun. Managing a hand of cards is tricky with so many restrictions on how to acquire more cards. With the help of wild greens, I can upgrade quickly, but this also limits the width of a particular color. I like the tension of burning a card my opponent wants, but perhaps revealing even juicier cards now. I like that the best cards will probably resurface toward the end.
Components: Amusing but rather two-dimensional artwork on sturdy cards with clear iconography.
Experience: A game about hand management that is slightly trickier than it looks, with decisions coming in the form of how best to save cards of my own favored trait until the final rounds, when scoring is highest, and how to marry off undesirable cards.
Last Played: 2005-08-27 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: The cards are rather garish, with unattractive backgrounds behind the mobsters, and the same mobster featured on each card of a suit, despite each card having a different mobster's name (even with a female mobster name, there is still a picture of a male mobster).
Experience: A tit-for-tat system, that didn't amount to much for me.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2002-01-01 Eagerness to Play Again: Never
Components: Nice artwork, cribbed from various sources. Good iconography. Chunky statue tokens. I'm not a fan of the graphic design (i.e. the cards look a bit blah). It's a cool dynamic touch that the statues are randomly placed, but I think it's unnecessary that the locations are also randomly placed. I didn't see any card that referenced two locations, so they are, in effect, already randomized by the fact that I only care about their relation to each other with respect to the statues and quests. Would have made for a much nicer game board to have actual location art painted on the board, with paths between locations.
Experience: One of the core tenets of the deck-builders I've played is that it's good to quickly get rid of my starting deck, replacing it with better versions of the same cards. Somehow I found that particularly difficult to do here. It's costly to release a card; difficult to dismiss a friendly dragon, and I'm clogging my deck with low-level creatures just by adventuring. The mistake I made was thinking it was all about acquiring a variety of subduing icons. Rather, I should have specialized, and selected quests that matched my specialty. I used many gems to buy artifacts and bazar creatures, but these gems would have been better used releasing cards.
I like that the low-level monsters grant additional powers.
It's fun to look over the board, identify the creatures I need to subdue to complete my quests, and think about how I'm going to adventure around efficiently.
The quests make for very interesting card welling that I underutilized. I can temporarily get cards out of my deck very efficiently via quests, even if I never plan to complete the quests, and even if the cards have nothing to do with the quest. The starting deck contains 12 cards; I can immediately dump up to 10 of these on the two quests in the middle of the board, which I may then withdraw from at any time. This means that right out of the gate I should be able to convert my deck to a well-tuned subduing machine.
Last Played: 2013-01-31 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: I enjoy that the board is divided into geographic regions instead of political regions. The animal pictures are fun, but the cards are a bit cluttered, with the crucial information being in a tiny font.
Experience: Not sure about this one yet. It's somewhat educational, which I like, but also very random, since we don't have much to go on.
Last Played: 2012-11-10 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Good quality cards with amatuerish art, a terrible font, the same backing on the several different types of cards, and the numbers annoyingly placed in the upper right, rather than in the upper left.
Experience: Mildly entertaining with three. As a fellow player put it, a round is only interesting when a player does something unexpected; otherwise every move is obvious. I'd probably prefer the game with more players and more chaos, since it was rather dull with three. Honestly, if I didn't own this game I wouldn't want to give it a second chance. [And now I don't own it, and don't want to give it a second chance.]
Last Played: 2004-07-05 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Quality tokens, props, and board. Disturbing yet theme-appropriate art.
Experience: Silly fun. Basically just a mad dash for the door. A few moments arose when players deftly lured the monster toward other players, but mostly the entertainment came from seeing where the monster goes in reaction to our many unrelated moves.
Last Played: 2005-04-17 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Great over-sized cards with fun art. The 'mice' are a bit difficult to handle, as they're thin and slick; would have been cooler if they were actually mouse-shaped figurines.
Experience: It moves quickly, the bidding is straightforward, and the rewards are easy to evaluate; all things in its favor. I really enjoy getting paid for passing, and that cards are revealed as players pass. It's mostly arbitrary which card a player places into the mix, but it means that each player (but the first) has different information about the contents of the row. Favors the person whose card is never revealed, but that edge is minimized by the randomness of the cards in its company. I don't want to play this game often, but I enjoy it on occasion.
First Played: 2008-09-20 Last Played: 2014-01-01 Plays (4): 4 players: 4
Components: Functional cards with strange illustrations on them.
Experience: There are several types of memory here: which cards have been played (tracking 0, 1, 8, and 9 cards could be helpful), which islands do other players hold, and what is the current sum. The latter is the hardest. We increase/decrease the sum so often, I feel like I'm in some intensive oral mathematics exam. But it's still interesting to try to somewhat balance my hand, to keep it flexible. Other than that, what options I have are entirely dependent on what was played before me.
Last Played: 2008-03-09 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Nice cards. An adequate board, but neither attractive nor unattractive, and the businesses and skyscrapers are too small.
Experience: There were some interesting decisions, about which colors to collect and in which districts to invest, but overall I wasn't engaged by this game. The limited scoring throughout always came as a surprise, rather than through my decision, and the scoring at the end didn't work out how I thought it would, because the game ended before I had realized my plans.
Last Played: 2004-08-21 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Great chunky wooden bits. Clear iconography (except that the wild-fruit symbol looks like lemons).
Experience: The rondel is odd, but interesting. With two players, I mostly just interact with my own pawns, but also looking for scoring opportunities with my opponent.
The majorities are tense. By chance the fruit that is easy to get at a particular moment might also be in demand, and it might be in demand in a location looking to reward a majority in that very same fruit. But at other times, to win a tile I want is to score a majority bonus that my opponent will win.
Very capricious. Tense, but not sure I like it. The carts-as-currency feels a bit fiddly, and tacked on just to deter players from hoarding fruit, and/or from playing the waiting game if noone wants what is currently available in the regions.
Components: The card box comes with neat little section dividers that stick up above the cards in each section, and the lid is taller than the box, so that there is enough room for the dividers to stick out. The board is ugly, distracting, and unnecessary. My group has done away with it, using a colored die to determine the category, and using the cards themselves as the point keepers.
Experience: Fun trivia. Like with any trivia, I typically either know the answer or not, and there is no deduction or strategy to it. But I find myself reaching into my memory for half-forgotten quotations, and sometimes even being able to make an educated guess.
It's fun to learn how many of the people in my group recognize the quotation, even if I don't.
We play pretty loose, in that we try to inflect/sing the first half of the phrase correctly if we can, and will reveal the attribution if the player is having a tough time guessing.
First Played: 2008-12-31 Last Played: 2012-11-23 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Experience: Fun. A blend of Racko-O! and Take It Easy. Mostly chance-driven, but it plays quickly. It's fun, once all the pieces are on the board, shuffling tiles about, trying to open up the widest area into which that one, stubborn piece can fit.
Last Played: 2009-12-06 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Plastic fish are easy to stack, count, and differentiate. The cards and board are very plasticy but functional. I don't care for the artwork.
Experience: A few interesting decisions, trying to budget my cards so that I only use the best cards on the most crucial battles. But as with most blind bidding games, very chaotic. I'd like to play with more than two players.
First Played: 2005-09-11 Last Played: 2009-06-19 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Nice, subdued artwork on quality cards. The wooden coins and glass stones are functional.
Experience: I enjoy the limited card pool being bid upon each round, and the limited, replenishing funds. The introduction of two random cards each round spices it up. However, achieving three points can be a frustratingly slow process, and I am always at the mercy of others' capricious bidding.
Last Played: 2006-02-11 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Standard quality cards (i.e. not very good), but with vivid colors and pleasing illustrations on the face cards.
Experience: I played a public-domain version (Rap) quite a bit some years ago, and enjoyed it. The addition here of an extra suit adds little to the game, and actually makes the most difficult number (5) easier to achieve. But the game is still fun, and lasts about the right amount of time.
Solidly within the Rummy family, but with just enough variation to make it distinct. My favorite Rummy game after Mhing.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2003-11-24 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Gorgeous artwork, especially on the Djinns. Clear iconography. Solid wooden meeples.
Experience: Wow, this game is really fun. Lots of different ways to score points; the resource marketplace in particular lends itself toward specialization; there isn't enough time to do everything. On every turn there are so many tasty options, and lots of fun consequences of each move. The variable board geography and seeding, and the randomized djinns, should keep the game fresh. Can't wait to play again.
First Played: 2015-04-04 Last Played: 2015-05-09 Plays (2): 2 players: 2
Components: Functional numbering and value symbols; nice art; interesting quotations. Great wooden imp.
Experience: Clever trick-taking game. The cards worth less than the imp are like trump, which can sometimes be good (to easily win some valuable cards) but sometimes bad (if I won't then be able to get rid of the imp). I enjoy the asymmetry between the colored suits as well.
Very difficult to manage my hand. The entire round becomes about successfully dumping my low cards without getting stuck with the Imp. The theme works great, as I feel the threat of doom looming over my poor decisions.
First Played: 2006-01-01 Last Played: 2011-09-17 Eagerness to Play Again: Next game night
Components: The boards are awesome (including in the expansion). Takes everything I love about floorplans and lets me run around in them putting out fires. The detail is great, and really enhances the theme. The firefighter figures in the second edition are very cool. The tokens are all top notch, and the art on the special roles cards looks great.
Experience: I didn't think too much of Pandemic while I was playing this game, which is to the game's credit. The theme absolutely works here. Fires are spreading left and right, we're finding all sorts of helpless people cowering beneath sinks and such, the walls are coming down, we're getting cut off from each other, there are explosions. Good stuff.
The special roles in the advanced game add some extra spice, and help to differentiate us from each other (e.g. I might forego putting out a nearby smoke, because it costs me more as the Rescue Specialist, but then later I regret it because that smoke turns to fire).
I've got to say, I definitely prefer this to Pandemic. Partly because I like the theme so much more. Pandemic is more abstract; just cube-covered dots connected by lines. But also because the choices are more difficult in Flash Point. In Pandemic, the uncertainty of the draw into player hands makes it more difficult to plan ahead, but when it's my turn, it usually seems pretty obvious what to do, with the only tough choice usually being between eradicating a disease and trying to prevent an outbreak. In Flash Point, my choices have less parity. Putting out smoke and fire is akin to removing cubes in Pandemic; but there's also the idea of discovering the identity of the trapped people, of deciding whether to break down walls; of protecting structural parts of the building; of closing a door behind me to prevent the spread of fire, or leaving it open for easier access. The geography of the floorplan is important, and I feel like I'm really having to coordinate with my teammates to make sure we are efficiently covering as much ground as possible.
My only real problem with the game, as with most cooperative games, is that the tension comes at us in the form of random events (the eruption of fire). I don't mind the puzzle aspect of this, but there is something missing when the game is merely throwing fire at us at random, rather than intelligently trying to outsmart us, trap us, cause explosions in vulnerable areas, etc. If we lose, I want it to be because we were outplayed, rather than because we didn't beat the odds. The only cooperative games I can think of that get around this issue are pre-programmed games (Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Eagle Eye Agency), where the game is deliberately trying to mislead us.
First Played: 2011-11-29 Last Played: 2013-11-21 Plays (3): 4 players: 1 5 players: 1 6 players: 1
Components: Nothing special in the cards; they are simple and functional, but not pretty.
Experience: I see this game more as a way to pass the time, without need for resolution, than as a recreation I would actually choose. The meta-rule and no-stated-objective mechanisms appealed to me pre-purchase, but I think they've been only partially realized here.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2002-01-01 Eagerness to Play Again: Never
Components: Standard cardstock, with easy-to-recognize colors and funny little stick drawings.
Experience: Fun trick-taking / get-rid-of-your-cards game. The scoring is interesting, because it allows a player to score a bonus just for cruising in under the radar, without actually ever winning and leading. Having a fool is an innovative yet somewhat cumbersome mechanism.
Last Played: 2005-02-27 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: The Überplay edition has nice money chips and checks, but the real estate images are the real winner, with a wonderful illustration for each of the 30 cards. The box is terribly oversized.
Experience: Fast and mildly fun mixture of auction and blind bidding. Having a few cards removed (with fewer players) helps to keep the last few offerings in doubt. Still, I haven't found anyone who really likes this game.
First Played: 2004-07-04 Last Played: 2013-06-29 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Nice artwork on the tiles, and fun artifact pawns. The graphic design, consistent with other Gamewright titles, leaves a lot to be desired.
Experience: Very similar to Pandemic. Because the game's AI is mostly random, there is barely any opportunity for strategy. Just move around shoring up tiles and collecting cards. Not very interesting. Any tension comes from immersing myself in the theme, imagining that the island really is sinking beneath me.
First Played: 2011-06-25 Last Played: 2014-12-07 Plays (3): 2 players: 1 3 players: 1 5 players: 1
Components: Nauseating colors, like those little heart candies at Valentine's Day. The hex tiles are nice, but the board is too lightweight. It almost feels like the game was salvaged from some other game (there's no reason to have the tiles be hexagonal, for instance).
Experience: The game "begins differently" every time, but plays about the same. This, I imagine, is a solvable game.
Components: Lots of great detail on the maps. The gear shifts and cards are cool. There's no clear way to keep track of how many times a player has stopped in a turn. It's difficult to move the tiny car along the tiny spaces without losing track of where we started.
Experience: I had heard a lot about this being so good with lots of players, but it ended up just being long and random. There's nothing to do when it's not my turn, waiting for other players to plot out the many permutations of their possible moves.
Players are randomly penalized at the beginning with an engine not starting. They are randomly penalized with not starting near the front of the pack. And then the dice compound the issue with a single die roll having a huge range that can overshoot a corner, or not quite even enter it.
Wanted to like this, but didn't, and neither did anyone else.
Components: Great wooden pieces. The faux-leather board is sturdy, but the graphic layout and art leaves a lot to be desired, with several design elements making it difficult to identify groups of squares (the diagonals, the buildings).
Experience: This was immediately lots of fun. The game moves quickly, the points oscillate violently, but in all it becomes more and more tactical as there are fewer groups left to score. Very simple mechanism leading to interesting choices.
Last Played: 2005-02-21 Eagerness to Play Again: Next game night
Components: Attractive tiles with interesting and helpful symbols to differentiate the different fossil types. Nice board and stones.
Experience: Easy to learn and simple to play. It's fun to collect the tiles, and interesting to try to avoid the void penalty. Taking risks and playing conservatively seem to both be viable strategies.
Last Played: 2009-01-02 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Beautiful, quality cards. I go back and forth whether I'd prefer the cards to depict the cards they can beat (rather than the cards that can beat them). I lean more toward the former.
Experience: Very fun. Such a simple rule set, but there are opportunities for risk-taking as I decide how best to budget my hand of cards.
The mosquito is an interesting card, and I like how the mice reset the ladder.
After playing sporadically for ten years, I've finally played the full partnership game, and really enjoy it. Trading cards can do a lot to strengthen both partners (though there's no concept of voiding, like in many trick-taking games). The junior asking for help is also clever. The scoring suffers a bit, like in Njet, in that juniors can never overtake their partners in the round the game ends.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2015-07-19 Plays (24): ? players: 7 3 players: 10 5 players: 3 6 players: 4
Production: The Playroom Entertainment edition has a horribly oversized box and rules, and three unnecessary cauldrons. The game would be better served to be packaged just with the cards, in small, manageable box. The cards are of excellent quality, and though the backs are ugly, the faces are beautiful. Play: Interesting, quick game of hand management. In my one playing, I was dealt an excellent hand, and was able to play it well, making me think that perhaps there should be an assessment of hands, and that players score according to how well they do compared with the assessment. (3 2 3) (1 play)
Components: Functional cards, though the coloring for the copper and spices can be difficult to discern at a glance, and AS IF we're going to bend the commodity markers.
Experience: A lot of fun. The rounds go quickly, since Jacob the Rich gets a card every time someone else plays a card. There are interesting decisions about which commodities to go in for: those which are currently pricey, but might clock over, or those that are up-and-coming.
First Played: 2004-07-03 Last Played: 2004-07-04 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Fun illustrations. Good iconography, though the icons and points could be larger.
Experience: I don't get it. I bid blindly for a card, often winning it (and therefore losing a bidding card) even when I didn't intend to. I sometimes end up taking more production cards than I want to.
I made the mistake of thinking that I wanted to cull my hand, placing my low-energy cards out of play onto my production cards. But this severely hampered my ability to lose at auctions. Ideally, a hand will have a little of everything for maximum flexibility.
Still, it's just lots and lots of blind bidding over and over again, and then suddenly there's a winner.
Last Played: 2012-01-12 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: All around great components. The modules are easy to comprehend, despite their variety; the cards have clear iconography; the astronauts, aliens, batteries, and spaceship pawns are all cool. The only downside is the shear number of components; I found it necessary to buy a tray to house them during play.
Experience: What a fantastic game; a brilliant concept that delivers. In the first part of a round, there are opportunities for strategy, for how I hope to best avoid the many dangers to come, especially if I'm looking at the upcoming cards. It's so fun to build my ship, trying to cram it full of necessary components.
In the second part of a round, I'm just watching what happens, hoping for the best; there are a few decisions, but mostly it is passive, but still fun, seeing my spaceship fare against the system. There are several different ways to score points. I am fully engaged throughout the game. And it is incredibly satisfying to laugh off a minor asteroid by saying “well-built”.
First Played: 2009-06-12 Last Played: 2012-02-22 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Nice wooden pawns, colorful artwork on the cards and board, and a great box insert.
Experience: Way, way, WAY too long. I don't care for this type of aggressive territory-control game. I think there are many useful mechanisms woven into the game play, but the overall progression of the game was a struggle not with my opponents, but to stay interested.
Last Played: 2004-08-13 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Production: Lots of well-made bits, and an easy-to-understand board. The art design on the cards was uncreative, and I would have appreciated some symbology on the special action tiles to acclimate me to their powers. Play: There’s a lot going on in this game, as each player is usually working toward a unique objective at any given time, but their needs cross paths, making for interesting bargaining. I think the game could be simplified a bit (4 commodities instead of 8, for instance) without losing its potential for interaction and conflict; I suppose I just felt a bit lost on my first playing because there were so many options from which to choose. (2+1+3) (1 play)
Components: Nice artwork on average cards. The suits are easy to tell apart, but not so easy to articulate a catchphrase for (do we say buzzard, vulture, bird, bribe, etc.?).
Experience: Quick, pleasant play. Not being able to ask for the same rumor on consecutive turns, and having player order shift around makes for an interesting game of deduction that was more strategic than I had anticipated.
First Played: 2005-01-16 Last Played: 2005-12-01 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: The artwork is a bit drab for each investment type, and could be color-coded better to distinguish them from each other, making for easier score tallying. But the game does come with a nice scorepad that helps simplify the scoring process.
Experience: Quite fun, with a very interesting dynamic between players and the number of dollar signs showing, where at first everyone races to get cards, and dollar signs pop up quickly, but then drafting slows almost to a halt as players decide which investments to contend in.
First Played: 2003-03-12 Last Played: 2004-04-21 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Nice-looking tiles. It definitely needs a draw bag.
Experience: Vicious vicious vicious. At first, everyone just founds and invests in their own civilization, but once all the civilizations are on the board, things get violent, with civilizations being forced to migrate at every play of the tile; invasions kicking civilizations from the continent, and huge swings in the worth of each civilization. It's very interesting to try to gauge the best moment to use my scoring tokens. This game is bizarre.
First Played: 2008-12-22 Last Played: 2010-01-11 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Great artwork, and nice iconography, though there are so many icons that they are not all easily understandable. Sturdy tiles and player board.
Experience: For two players, too daunting and laborious. There were several tough decisions to be made, but without knowing what the deck had in store for us, it was only chance whether our actions would turn out to have been optimal. We had lots of rules questions.
Last Played: 2009-01-13 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Garish board, unattractive photographs, unrounded card corners, but with neat player gift bags and gift pawns. Adult-themed cards are mixed in with the regular cards, making for some uncomfortable moments as cards are dealt out in a family setting.
Experience: It is somewhat fun to guess what players would like to receive, and to rank my own preferences; it is also fun to debate someone's choices afterward. The points awarded/penalized for receiving gifts seems to be to ensure that players make honest choices about what they'd like to receive, which is a needed incentive, but it also means that a player can never win if the group doesn't know them well. With fewer players, the negative points can often entirely counteract the positive points, leading to a very long game. With more players, there is too much chaos on the main board to be able to follow what is happening (and therefore get to know people better), and to ensure everyone is scored correctly.
First Played: 2007-08-14 Last Played: 2011-07-08 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Great rubber towers, units of oil, and trucks. The money is as nice as paper money can be. The cards are entirely functional, though I think the movement color should have been green (for 'go') and the draw cards color red. The board and overall theme are depressing, a la Industrial Waste.
Experience: The thrill of the oil dig and deciding which card to take were the interesting parts of this game. The bidding was very straight forward, as were the decisions once I had taken a card. The game outlasted its welcome.
Last Played: 2004-06-16 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Cute artwork; similar in style to Metropolis. I particularly like that so many of the buildings are different, even if only slightly so. The character cards are great. Very quickly the theme bleeds away and it's just about moving cubes around, but I appreciate the effort.
Experience: Fun mechanisms intersecting. The rotating hand, from a deck that gets regular upgrades; playing a card and being rewarded more and more as the game goes on; and trying to fight for specific areas of the board. There's just enough types of scoring that players might be able to specialize and still hope to win.
Components: Simple, functional components. The muted colors on the tile make the terrain seem swamp-like and depressing.
Experience: Interesting twist on the area control game, where only pockets of area are available at a given time, and much like a sports draft, I can give up my pick now in favor of first pick from a better pool later. Lots of opportunities for cutting people off, to prevent large connections. Every point counts, so the game can slow down as a player tries to calculate the cost benefit of each possible spot. I keep making the mistake of thinking this is about surrounding the fish; note to self: this is a connection game!
First Played: 2009-12-06 Last Played: 2010-08-22 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Experience: Really tough to wrap my brain around. The resource wheels seem opaque just for opaqueness's sake. I think I'm missing a piece of the theme here, but having two separate wheels, and forcing me to convert my resources into brick/glass, even at inopportune moments, just feels weird and difficult to understand.
On a first play, there was just too much information: too many cards to choose from; too many buildings. And it's not easy to see a production chain. At one point I wanted to clear a forest so that I could connect two ponds. To do that, I had to select cards to get the right resources to build a building that would allow me to clear forests, and then I had to select the cards to give me the resources to build the building that cared about ponds; and then of course I had to build the pond itself. That was basically half my game, just to get four points.
Components: Clear iconography (except the tams look like little sea shells). Would have preferred individually shaped wood over cubes, but I guess I can borrow from my Agricola set.
Experience: An interesting decision on every turn. There is a huge selection of tiles, many places to pick from, and different sequences in which to trigger my abilities. Each turn is a puzzle to be solved. The market fluctuation is a cool mechanism, and allows me to try to strategically block my opponent from buying/selling a good.
Components: Sub-par production quality. Feels very much like a home-made deck (mostly because of the graphics). This game is not aesthetically pleasing. I've seen the newer edition, and find it less garish, but also to have poor graphic design.
Experience: Very interesting. The leading/following and clientele mechanisms feel very new to me. In my one playing there was almost always something to do. There is an interesting (and thematically appropriate) shift from the importance of architects in the early game, when cards in the pool are plentiful, to craftsmen, when cards in the pool are scarce. The game was immediately interesting.
Last Played: 2011-03-16 Eagerness to Play Again: Next game night
Components: High quality cards with great alien depictions. The luckynits are a bit disturbing-looking, but all the cards are perfectly functional.
Experience: Although this is a blind bidding game, which should prove mindless, after a few turns players have interests in recruiting specific aliens, and thus the bidding becomes slightly more strategic.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2011-05-29 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: One of the simplest, yet most visually-appealing games I've played. The board in-play is a sight to behold.
Experience: Such a complex game from such a simple rule set; I can see why it's the world's most popular game. I've enjoyed my time with it, but I really feel like I'm fumbling around on the board with little direction. I feel that a player must be skilled for an interesting game to develop. The opening game is too directionless for my tastes. I also have quite a bit of trouble knowing when the game is over.
Last Played: 2013-01-29 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Very well-made, and despite all the different sorts of cards and action tiles, the information is layed out in a very intuitive, pictoral manner.
Experience: There is just so much to do in this game, but not enough time in which to do it; I never felt satisfied with any of my actions because they left other objectives incomplete. It doesn't give me the excitement or tension I'm looking for in a game (except in the auction phase).
First Played: 2004-06-27 Last Played: 2004-08-23 Eagerness to Play Again: Soon
Components: Wooden box/board, sturdy plastic hollow cylinders. Fun to handle.
Experience: An interesting mixture of memory and spacial positioning. The 'gobbling' aspect is very clever, and leads to tense situations where I'm trying to force my opponent to lift specific pieces, to reveal my pieces. Definitely room for forking and other aggressive plays.
First Played: 2003-05-15 Last Played: 2009-01-22 Eagerness to Play Again: Eventually
Components: Great artwork, with only a few difficult-to-distinguish tiles (ravine & canyon) and resources (fishing pole & rifle). Sturdy pieces.
Experience: Interesting game of resource management and developing paths toward the gold, but it has a few too many resource types, so that it became laborious rather than challenging to navigate the board. I enjoy the restriction on movement created by the contents of my backpack.
Last Played: 2004-08-21 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Large, wooden anglers. Great art on the fish tiles and around the board.
Experience: The angler has the more strategic and balancing decisions, and the fish has the bluff decisions. There seems to be some opportunity for clever play, but a few lucky guesses can seal the deal fairly quickly, and for the most part it just isn't interesting.
First Played: 2005-04-09 Last Played: 2007-06-25 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Sturdy components (especially the Castillo). I would prefer that the non-territory spaces (i.e. water, France, and Portugal) were set off from the board proper with a different color, despite breaking from the imitation of an old map.
Experience: Play is interesting, trying to achieve/maintain control in several territories in time to be scored. The actions cards take a bit to get used to, but if players just take a moment to read through what is available for the round, all goes well.
First Played: 2004-03-13 Last Played: 2010-01-27 Eagerness to Play Again: Soon
Components: Functional tiles. Nice cards with clear iconography.
Experience: Not terribly engaging with two players, but I'd be willing to try it with more. There is a certain satisfaction to the two actions, and being able to play sets of cards. I enjoy the mechanism by which a player's total is reduced by the value of their claimed tile.
Last Played: 2009-01-27 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: The spell books are thematically interesting, but are more difficult to use than would be a stack of action cards that increases in size as the game progresses. There is a lot of text on the various companion cards, making it difficult to look around the table to see what each player's powers are, and what strategy they might be pursuing. I didn't particularly care for the art.
Experience: I'm not against blind bidding on principle, but I dislike it here. The various spells seem mostly unrelated to any particular strategy, making it difficult to predict what other players will select; therefore, this serves simply as a randomizer for turn order, and, at times, whether I can even use my spell or not.
I like that I will win a card regardless of turn order or whether my spell was canceled, but the unpredictable turn order, face-down card, and face down item deck add a lot of randomness to which cards I collect. There are ways to target players, but not necessarily to know that I am targeting the player in the lead. Not particularly interesting.
Last Played: 2011-08-24 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Humorous art that is mostly non-ambiguous about the differing characteristics. I own the travel edition, which is workable but the cards are way too tiny.
Experience: The flip-down portraits are a great mechanism for keeping track of my process of elimination. I never actually played this as a child, instead discovering it as an adult. The questions to ask seem fairly obvious, based on most efficiently narrowing the search, but an amusing deduction game nonetheless.
Components: Functional cards, and a unique card-holding mechanism. My box is oversized, but it looks like they've corrected that in recent editions.
Experience: This game requires a lot of energy to play, but speed charades is fun to watch, even for the non-active team, and the active player's ability to choose and order their words adds nice flexibility and risk. Like many party games, though (and unlike Time's Up), there is no continuity to the game; we merely play for a predetermined number of turns, and the turns really have nothing to do with each other.
First Played: 2002-01-01 Last Played: 2008-09-06 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Clear-enough iconography. Good artwork. Easy to distinguish colors. I would prefer borders on the cards to frame them better. Dull theme.
Experience: The Trader and Assassin are nasty pieces of work, as are some of the VP cards. My stuff always felt insecure. I'm not sure there can be any longterm strategy, as the state of play changes so much over the course of a game.
I liked the sure-thing of the Farmer, and using the Weaver to quickly populate my guildhall. But then I couldn't close the deal on my chapters, and they were stolen, traded, or assassinated.
It's fun coming up with the combos of cards to make the most of my turn, but it is also discouraging, given how easy it is to screw me up.
I admire the mechanism by which as I collect my cards in a set, they are able to use their powers more effectively.
Components: Great caricatures of the various nobles, both historic and imagined. The action cards are particularly well-done, given the general mediocrity of action cards: each has a unique, superfluous illustration, and some have easy-to-follow diagrams to help with comprehension.
Experience: The clever part of the game, that of manipulating the order on death row, is enjoyable. The use of action cards to achieve the manipulation isn't particularly creative (though perhaps it was more so at its time of publication), and the game can be rather chaotic, with noone's collection of nobles being safe from tampering. Still, I enjoy it, and it was one of the first card games I ever played that exposed me to the world of non-standardized decks.
With only two players the chaos is at a minimum and it really shines. There is opportunity for strategy and budgeting my hand of action cards as players mine the line of nobles for the valuable ones first, then eventually find clever ways to foist the gray nobles on each other.
With more players, the game is too short, and players have too little control over their fates. At the same time, there is less incentive to target other players.
First Played: 2001-01-01 Last Played: 2012-11-20 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Quality components. Nice artwork on the board, cards, and water tiles. The animal tokens are functional but could be more attractive. The land tiles are unattractive.
Experience: I'm not sure what to make of this game. Between two two-player games, our collective score more than doubled, just from having a better grasp of the rules. At first, the game seemed to be all about using animal chains to make lots of money; but then we found it was all about land chains scoring points and reaching the most markets. The second game seemed to be decided by the luck of drawing the most pampas cards, which allowed for the creation of the largest land chain. The back-and-forth was often tense and satisfying, but both games seemed very lopsided in the scoring, and the outcome clear long before the game was over.
First Played: 2009-02-06 Last Played: 2009-02-06 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Functional, attractive, sturdy. The box is too tight.
Experience: Hasn't been well received. There is too fine a line between offering information that I hope will be interpreted in a certain way, and developing code (even without trying) and thus cheating. It's also frustrating to misread my partner's cues and have my own cues misread; this isn't really cooperation; it's more a deduction game where each partner provides randomness for the other.
First Played: 2014-06-07 Last Played: 2014-07-10 Plays (2): 2 players: 2
Components: High quality, with attractive, subtle artwork, and pathing on the board that is surprisingly easy to understand.
Experience: Very sleek. It's fun to budget my turn, trying to make the best of each of my visits to a particular city. Moves along fairly quickly in a two-player game; with more, the downtime becomes a bit boring, as there is no point in planning out my upcoming turn until I know where the ship will be. But in all a fun, logical game. Probably best with 3.
First Played: 2004-06-05 Last Played: 2012-10-11 Eagerness to Play Again: Within a year
Components: Very busy board and player mats. Too much clutter. And it's too difficult to quickly identify cubes that are in cities vs. on routes vs. in suburbs, and which routes the bonus tiles are on.
Experience: For some reason, I thought this game was going to be similar to Thurn & Taxis; but not so. This is a heavy game of pushing cubes around. And with lots of screwage. It's very easy to get all my cubes tied up on the board; it's very easy to get blocked on the juicy routes; it's very easy to be blocked out of the privileges. This game is brutal. Not fun for a first play, though my opponents say it gets better with time.
First Played: 2011-10-04 Last Played: 2012-05-29 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire
Components: Colorful, soft graphics. The carrot cards are a bother; I would have preferred more standard denominations. The different action squares are distinguishable, and fairly easy to remember after a few turns.
Experience: Moderately interesting game of assessing my optimal move, managing my carrots, and planning ahead.
First Played: 2003-07-05 Last Played: 2004-07-28 Eagerness to Play Again: No Desire