Much better and infinitely more charming than its current competition for the "greatest of all Euros" title (Puerto Rico). Would really benefit from a meeple dispenser--all that wrangling of "3 wood here, 2 reeds there" gets on my nerves a bit. Some people hate the "feed your family" mechanic, but I really like it--it helps to narrow the range of possible strategies in a game that would otherwise be truly overwhelming.
Usually when someone describes a game as "unforgiving" it means that a careless noob move will give your opponents a lasting edge. I have never seen a game, though, that will so cheerfully allow you to bury yourself, even playing solitaire. I highly recommend playing first using the excellent Java hotseat program; don't engage any human opponents until you feel confident that you can win against a friendly opponent that you control.
Not the sort of game I expected to like much, but I love Arkham Horror. There isn't much strategy, but it's the best boardgame I've ever played for sheer story value. Extremely immersive, stressful, and fun.
It really seems (from only a few plays) like it's more fun when role-played, and not so much treated like a boardgame with an optimal strategy. We will see...
Needed to take a break from this one after about a half-dozen plays. A great game, but I'm really kind of sick of teaching it.
Five minutes of fun packed into ninety minutes of playtime. Cute filler, but almost totally luck-driven. Early elimination makes for a rotten time, as the game can last for a very long time. Also, the rules are very foggy in a few places, meaning everyone plays with a different set of house rules. I'll play if forced, but it really isn't my cup o'tea.
Tentative rating based on first impressions. Exceptional, tight Euro goodness, plays tricks on the mind used to ever-increasing share prices in games. It will take a few plays to get a feel for all of the tactical considerations and tempo issues, but this game obviously has a lot going for it. I may introduce a 60-second timer once everyone has it down, as AP can be a big problem, leading to lots of boring downtime in a 4-player game.
Lowered rating to six after a miserable second game. With three players it's very easy to get out of tempo, so that every move just sets up the guy to your left.
Definitely a game that is all about the experience. My rating may go up with more plays, but the unclear rules, and the difficulty of adjusting to a whole new set of them right in the middle, make this a bit less than I had hoped for. Every game, it seems, we find ourselves asking, "am I allowed to do this?" and "do I need to roll that again?", and just making up the rules as we go along.
Component quality in the second edition is simply inexcusable. My stacks of room tiles look like leaf springs from an old car.
My rating could drop with more plays, but very enjoyable first impression. Nicely simulates an equity-versus-metals market using an 18xx-style share price grid. Lots of fun luck-pushing throughout. Like Union Pacific in that the most valuable commodity in the game is actions. Tempo is also extremely important, so that different numbers of players will likely provide very different games.
An excellent, simple game. Unfortunately, it is possible to make it completely boring by simply laying a couple of decent routes, getting a point up on everyone, and then stopping the clock over and over. Definitely should be played with people who want everyone to have a good time, and not with folks who want to use you for their strategy experiment.
My first true Eurogame. There is a lot of luck involved, and yet almost no randomness, like rock-paper-scissors. The best strategy, in the end, is virtually no strategy at all--otherwise, people will be able to guess what you're going to do, which means they will do you wrong. Easy to teach and understand, and generally a lot of fun if you don't take it too seriously.
Got this and read the rules. I was probably too tired to try it, but, seriously? It's Cash and Guns! How hard could it be? I'll have to spend some time fully grokking it and simplifying it in my own mind before I try to teach it to anyone so that we can play.
One of those games for which my first experience was bad enough that I'll never have a second. Not quite as lame and boring as Jacob Hollow, but very nearly so. I believe this game got its good rep prior to the release of better hidden faction games, like The Resistance. The Resistance does similar things, but is superior in every way.
A big, kludgy math problem in which some or all of the players at the table are sure to make mistakes. The gameplay is middling and the theme is nonsensical (modular rooms up for auction?). I don't get the charm.
The game that started me down the Euro path... I like it a little less each time I play it, though. I've pretty much decided that, with a few exceptions (Twilight Struggle, Backgammon), if there's dice in the box, I'm not all that interested.
The trouble with this one is that there really is no way to mitigate the dice results. In just about any game, there will be one person (usually me, if I'm playing) who grabs up a nice couple of towns next to (say) 5's and 6's only to see 8's and 9's come up every turn. Then when the dice do finally decide to smile on the right lands, look who's here! The Robber. There's no alternate strategy, no way to work around it: I'm just screwed. After a few turns with nothing to build and nothing to trade, I start looking forward to playing a different game.
There's a lot to love about Settlers, and I do enjoy it still. It can be exciting, and the dice cards do help to even things out some. But I'll usually reach for something else when I'm looking for a good gateway game.
Total brain-burner, with AP virtually guaranteed for your first 100 or so games. I like this one much more in principle, but not enough that I'll play it enough to be really competitive with serious players.
Still in development, but working toward something like a zero-luck update of Kremlin. We don't have Kremlin's hidden faction mechanic, which is a pity, but we do have brisk gameplay without dice, which Kremlin lacks. Of course, there's plenty of opportunities for negotiation and backstabbage, too. The voting mechanic is, so far as I know, totally unique. The scoring borrows from Tigris & Euphrates, but (unlike T&E) allows some benefit to a big score in one area. This is going to be a fun and unique game.
Simple and elegant, with just enough luck to mix it up, not enough to really screw anyone over. With three decent sources of points, you'll want to do very well in at least two of them to have a chance at winning.
The king of tactical negotiation games, virtually devoid of strategy and totally dependent on wheeling and dealing. Provides some very interesting insight into the different personalities at the table and how they interact. The person you most expect to win probably won't, simply because everyone will be on guard against reasonable-sounding deals with a smooth talker.
One of Knizia's more nasty games, and one with a bit more theme than is usual for him. I'll need a few more plays before deciding on the luck balance, but it's definitely worth exploring. Not the clearest rules I've ever read--the files on the Geek are definitely a big help.
I was given a copy of this by the designer, who happened to live in my neighborhood when I was in high school. Embarrassed to admit that it's still in the shrink twenty-odd years later, but it's certainly a rare prize.
I just don't get this one. There must be something more to it that I missed. Everyone seems to agree that this is one of the greatest games ever, and yet no one can make me see why. Maybe another play or two--hopefully with someone who really loves it--will clear it up, but I'm not very hopeful. Is it possible that this has been surpassed by the many games that borrowed from it, and that people are just too nostalgic to admit it? That's my working theory.
Updated 5->7 after a few more plays. Essentially a negotiation game, in which players try to position themselves to lunge ahead to their fifth point with no help. Improves as people figure it out.
One of my few non-gamer games, Whoonu is a surprisingly fun activity, especially for groups of people trying to get to know each other. You can bring it along and play at a restaurant while waiting for dinner, and it will bring out lots of interesting stories and odd facts about people that you never would have guessed. Game-wise it doesn't compare to most of the competitive titles on BGG, but it is worth getting and playing as a purely social activity.
SO looking forward to this one. If it plays out the way it's supposed to, this could be an amazingly interactive game.
Have it now! First impression: very nice, luck-free and lighter than I had expected. Might be prone to seating order imbalances, but it will take a few more plays to determine that for sure. It does seem to self-adjust to different faction ratios, which is unusual and fun.
Set-up is a pain, and not incredibly clear; the board is about double the size it needs to be. Other than that, a great game.
The interactions are nuanced, but not required; I have a feeling that this may not get the love it deserves because shy folks will play it as a straight-up Euro game, synchronized solitaire. Just like with Tigris and Euphrates, you've got to get into sticking it to your competitors to make this entertaining.
Notes to self: keep the turn order sheet in view at all times, and leave explorers on the board until after resources are replenished!
After 3-4 plays, I'm just not very impressed. The game always seems to be imbalanced one way or the other, with the losing side having to trudge on for an hour or more after it's obvious who's going to win. The theme is a generic FRP kind of thing, with no real backstory or narrative to it. The gameplay is linear, with the one or two best choices usually fairly obvious to all.
Completely replaced, for my money, by Arkham Horror, which is better in every way (minus the minis, of course).
Not what you'd call a gamer's game, but a lot of fun with the right crowd. I had initially been worried about the replayability, but the fact that the "storyteller" wants some people to get it but not everyone to get it means that it will remain challenging, even with the same group and the same cards. The rabbits and integrated scoreboard are cute, but not great at doing what they need to do (the rabbits fall over easily and the spaces are too small to know for sure which one you're on half the time).
These seem to be the cards that were deemed too trippy for the initial release--some are really quite odd. I recommend mixing them in and selecting the right number for your game from the combined deck: n * (5 + rn) yields r complete rounds for n players, so 102 cards for 2 rounds with 6 players, 100 for three rounds with 5 players or 5 rounds with 4, etc.
Very interesting game! There is a lot going on, but it all fits together to be (quite possibly) the most elegant game I've ever played. Very sound thematically, and yet very balanced, as well, with catch-the-leader baked in deep.
Not the best game ever, but certainly the one I have played the most. It's extremely replayable, has just the right amount of luck, and I can fit at least two games into a lunch hour.
Dropped 10->8. Still a great game, but substitutes obnoxious "take that" mechanics for real interaction. Attacking other players not only hurts their score (which is fine), but also makes the game more boring by robbing them of meaningful decisions (which sucks). Loses a little steam every time I play it.
Hint for people looking to make another deck-building game: instead of tacking on chrome and lame new currency types (like Thunderstone), how about improving the interaction a bit? Think of some cards that will encourage players to work together for a while before stabbing each other in the back. I'm convinced that it can be done.
Dropped again to a 7. An average game with some nice advantages and irritating disadvantages. Certainly got my money's worth out of it, but I won't be pulling it out very often.
The plummet continues, after a long session of flipping curses and waiting ten minutes for my chance to flip a few more. This game can really suck. If everyone draws 4/3 at the start and buys a militia, I'd rather be playing Monopoly. It's really that boring.
Lots of nasty cards, but most of them are the same, boring "take that" sort of thing, never allowing any sophisticated interaction. If you enjoy games where nobody can accomplish anything, the winner is the only one with a positive score, and everything depends on who gets their nasty cards in the right draws, you'll love it. I give it a couple of points because there are some interesting cards in the set, as well.
I have many happy memories of this awesome game. Grognards will complain that it is just a very basic wargame with some chrome tacked on, but fantasy and RPG fans will see it for what it's meant to be: a chance to take part in a massive struggle between legendary forces, using basic wargame mechanics to regulate the action.
This entry is for my original, somewhat musty copy.
This might be one of those games in which the best way to win isn't necessarily the best way to have fun, or maybe everyone has to play equally aggressively for it to really hum. Needs more plays before I can rate it.
Picked up the essential bits of this system based on Tom Vasel's enthusiasm for it; the jury's still out. Certainly offers plenty of variety in every way. Most reviewers agree that a full complement of characters per side is necessary to really appreciate it, but I haven't had time to play a big game yet. Playing with three on a side wasn't awful, but it didn't make me very excited to try it again, either.
Probably the most mechanical of Chvatil's games, and the one in which the mechanic seems least-suited to its theme. A very fiddly game that just didn't quite seem worth the trouble of figuring out entirely.
There is some luck to this one, but most of it can be mitigated with good technology. The luck of the tiles is offset to a great extent by their point and resource values. This reminds me a lot of Merchant of Venus: deep or not, this is just a fun game to play.
Without the Elfengold expansion, very light and luck-driven. All of our games have been within a few points, which leads me to believe that there aren't too many interesting decisions being made, but the theme is cute.
My enthusiasm for this one is somewhat hampered by the fiddly setup. 95 little chips (better not lose one!) all have to go onto individual spaces on the board. The mechanics are nice, though, and there actually is some theme to it.
Solid Euro game, with tricky timing elements and decisions whose effects ripple forward into later turns.Very little luck involved, although you could get screwed if you needed a particular combination of pigments that just weren't available in a certain turn. The order of bids for turn order is determined by point order, which should usually hurt the leader, but doesn't actually seem to matter a whole lot. A good strategy seems to be to capitalize on opportunities to get cheap pigments of any color, stockpiling them until you can mix them into secondary colors that work for you.
A fun game, with lots of Chvatil-style fiddliness and fumbling. It's probably too complicated for most non-gamers to enjoy the first time, which is a shame, because so much of it is very appealing and intuitive. This is definitely a game that is all about the journey--winning is virtually accidental. If you're going to be very upset when half of your carefully-crafted ship goes floating off into space (and into the debit column of your balance sheet), then it's probably best not to play at all.
A decent game with some nice thematic touches. Unfortunately, it suffers from a lot of the problems common to games like this -- kingmaking, randomness that makes for bad experiences (we played a game in which ALL musters came out before ANY supplies, and ALL Game of Thrones came out before ANY Clash of Kings -- it was awful), and a general overstaying of its welcome. Either someone blunders, or the game bogs down to a repetitive back-and forth after a certain number of turns. A player whose neighbors play poorly has a strong advantage. I would not turn down an offer to play, but I probably would not suggest it, either.
I can't figure out what it is that makes this game so difficult, but after several time-constrained attempts to get it going I'm resigned to letting it sit until I have an afternoon to explain it to someone.
A compelling title whose intricacies are hardly apparent on the surface. First play was incredible, with new possibilities appearing out of thin air almost every turn ("wait, if you're going to build a statue this turn, then I should try to take advantage of our shared transportation network" and "a chief placed in a crucial action hex can really help to move that size 3 moai", etc.). I believe this could become a favorite with additional plays.
Ugliest game ever, even worse than my 3M copy of Acquire. Well, maybe not THAT bad. But always a blast to play, pulling subtle and surprising interactions out of realtively simple rules. Vastly better than Dominion or RftG: more interactive than either, and (in contrast to RftG) nearly every deal will feature some exploitable combination.
Finally got around to playing this a couple of times. The rules are relatively simple without the chrome. But the chrome is pretty much indispensable, and it makes the rules very complex. This is not a fun game to teach.
I like the balance between cooperation and competition, allowing the players to decide whether the game will be "earn the most glory in Poland's climb to greatness" or "manage to eke out enough of a living to spare an estate or two as the various enemy hordes ravage the country". There's some incentive to be selfish, but in a three-player game the player who breaks from the pack first can expect some nasty retribution from the other two. The mechanics are an excellent fit for three players.
I would prefer a bit less luck o'the die--it is possible for an odd combination of results to determine the game, more or less.
A light game, but no lighter than many higher-rated games (like Bohnanza, Werewolf, Lost Cities, etc.). There are difficult decisions to make, and some card-counting is essential if you actually plan to take it seriously. A lot of fun; hats highly recommended.
Chaotic play prevents planning even one turn ahead, while complex interactions and combos ensure plenty to think about (and thus slow things down) every single turn. It's a step up from Bang or Munchkin, but not a huge step, and lacks the fun theme of those games.
After two plays, I think I have it figured out. The distribution of market information is very interesting: I only know a piece of what will happen. Half my knowledge is shared with the person before me in the play order, the other half is shared with the person after me.
I like this game more each time I play it. My only complaint might be that there are too many different ways to score points and win--the game always seems to end just as my machine starts humming. It's a bit like Race for the Galaxy in that regard: it isn't the most efficient machine that wins, but rather the machine that's pretty decent soonest in the game.
Very similar to Agricola, and with similar shortcomings (fiddliness, lack of interactivity). Still, extremely elegant. I like it better with meeples; I just use one bin for raw materials, and another for improved goods.
Rating based one one dreadful play. I was stuck playing the Protestants, and the whole game seemed to be an endless sequence of taking and re-taking the same spaces, over and over, with no sense of progress or grand strategy. I love the idea of the game, but found its execution mind-numbing.
Virtually perfect game, whether you play with or without the investor card. No luck, simple rules, great bits, perfect balance, there's nothing not to love here.
Revised down to 9 after additional plays: the game always ends with the rondel-pump, which is pretty boring. Also, it would be nice if there was a consensus on the investor card. I have played both ways and find the game very different depending on which way one plays, but can't say which one is better.
A bit like an 18xx game, but fiddlier and much prettier to look at. The abstraction of city values is replaced with a complex pickup-and-deliver mechanic, while the whole stock value mechanic is streamlined. I hope I'm able to get this to the table often enough to really grasp everything that's going on--it is a bit long for some folks. While I agree with the many who have said that the map is difficult to make out at times, but I find that it's good-looking enough to be worth the extra trouble.
Reminds me a lot of Glory to Rome in that there are quite a few deliberately-broken card combos. I'll need more plays to determine whether the game holds together as well as GtR. Fast-playing fun for two, but I suspect (based on very limited experience) that it scales about as well as Neuroshima Hex (i.e., not well at all).
A truly nasty negotiation game, so simple that it feels like someone's thesis project for a psychology class. Imagine a variant to Chinatown that would allow you repossess (and re-sell) a space or a tile after selling it to someone. Make sure everyone knows not to take it too seriously before you pull this one out.
Stinky card-flipper from Bruno, who really can do better. I give it one point for the artwork, and one for the stylish minis, and that's about all there is that's decent about it. It reminded me of playing Bang! with a map: no strategy, no control, no interesting decisions, lots of downtime, and completely driven by the luck of the draw from too many different decks of cards.
Deliciously evil, very simple hidden auction with a theme that rings very true to those of us born in the sixties. I'd really like to write a quick program to roll the dice and do all the table lookups--I think six people could finish it in 45 minutes that way.
A light worker-placement game that five can finish in just over an hour. There are plenty of ways to score points, and many nasty things one can do to the other players. It's not as meaty and brain-burny as Caylus, but I like it better than Glen More (which is also pretty good).
Amusing, and not entirely random. Typical Ameritrash in that most of the fun is in finding out what's on all the cards and so forth; actual play can be frustrating. I doubt replayability will be extremely high for this one, but it will be good for a while.
This is probably the best game on Bruno Faidutti's Nasty Games list. And wow, it truly deserves its spot--it's ugly! No matter how the opening cards fall, they weave an intricate web of hidden motives, driving players to pick and take sides in conflicts when they'd really rather shut up and row. This is definitely one to play with a thick-skinned group. There isn't a whole lot of strategy that isn't obvious from the outset, but everyone will have fun.
A great idea for an expansion: a character who can actually do something nice for others. 8ˆ) It's fun to hear the person at the front of the boat call out "there's a medical kit in here!" and see whether someone will try to grab it before it makes its way back to the good doctor. Count on a visit from the Kid if you try it.
A great game with the right crowd, similar in many ways to Mall of Horror. There isn't much strategy, and the game seems driven more by vendetta than by well-executed planning. If you're into nasty games, this one is tough to beat.
I hate describing this game, because I can't help saying "it's a lot like Stratego". Truly, it is much better than Stratego, and it's probably the best quick 2er there is. Every time I have won it has been after thinking that I didn't have a chance.
Wow -- I just don't get what all the fuss is about. Reading the reviews, you would think "you make the most of what you have" was a revolutionary new game idea, not the stuff of dusty, luck-driven children's games. Dry, repetitive gameplay, arbitrary theme, frustrating mechanics, and a whole lot more luck than the fanboys like to admit. Definitely not an adventure game, as I understand the term, and not a very good deck-builder, either. Copious downtime extinguishes any sparks of pleasure this tedious stinker might otherwise provide.
A soulless and pointless game that would have been ignored from any other designer.
Appears to have the potential to replace Arkham Horror for my all-day gaming opportunities. Unfortunately, it really takes the rough equivalent of a 3-semester-hour college class (not exaggerating here) to learn the rules. And the first step to learning it is to put the rulebook back into the box--it's just not helpful enough to warrant the pain it takes to read.
So it may be end up being primarily a solo game, but I'm okay with that.
MtG is more of a hobby unto itself than a board game. Interesting, but I prefer games I only have to buy once. If you have infinite time and money, you might enjoy this one. Most of the decisions come at deck-building time, and these are severely constrained by what you can afford to buy--the player who spent the most usually wins. And what you're deciding isn't all that interesting, either. The main source of excitement is not knowing which cards the other guy has at his disposal.
It's a bit fiddly compared to cards, but the nifty bits add to the charm. The actual play is fairly nuanced, if you stick to one of the more regular sets of rules. Check out Four Winds for a great PC version.
Definitely needs house-ruling to make it work with six. A fun, evil game where the rancor is mitigated to some degree by the fact that you simply can't win without throwing the other players to the zombies. Note to self: if you aren't in the security office, be sure to kill whoever is in the parking lot early on.
This one gets an extra point for playing six, easily, inside of an hour. This is yet another Knizia game where the system is set up in such a way that it's almost impossible to discern a decent strategy, and extremes of luck can really make or break someone's score. A good game, like all of his stuff, but not one that I like well enough to play often.
The best strategy is often just to do nothing. Save your money and let Lady Luck fill your boat for you. You'll beat the ones who spend every penny on the perfect boat every time.
For this reason, the two-player variant, Medici vs. Strozzi, is by far the superior game.
Intense brain-burning exercise in predicting the value today of a certain bundle, which will not pay off fully until the end of the game. And, of course, its value to the other player, which may be very different. Every decision is critical, and the outcome has very little to do with luck.
For adolescent boys, easily a 9+. It's quick and easy, and looks nice. The modular board and flexible system encourage experimentation and creativity. I would have loved this when I was 12.
For games between adults, though, Memoir is mediocre at best. It's too simple to be a good simulation and too random to be a good strategy game. The pieces are cool, but a pain to setup, move around, and keep track of. Get something from the Conflict of Heroes line if you want a fun, reasonably light tactical wargame.
Who knew a roll-and-move could be so much fun? There is a fair amount of luck, but not so much as one might think. With this and Magic Realm, AH seemed to hit on something: even though I know what's going to be on the board in the end, it's a lot of fun to go out there and find it and make the most of it.
Looking forward to trying this with others. The mechanics are very strange: completing contracts (delivering goods) doesn't actually make money, but instead leads to better contracts. The contracts themselves are then sold to yield money and points. My first solo play was bewildering.
I'll need a couple more plays before I'm sure, but it seems to be more luck-driven, effectively, than it appears at first. Almost everyone is going to be in the lead at some point, and the player who draws tiles that are most helpful is going to have a huge advantage.
If you like auctions and difficult valuations, then this is the game for you. I think I'll need to play a few dozen games before I really feel like I have a handle on it, and a different mix of players changes everything.
A game that I enjoyed as a child, but only because there were no better games available to me. Always overstays its welcome. Goes from intolerable to excruciating with the "fines on Free Parking because we never want this game to end" variant.
Basically a competitive logic puzzle. The rules are a bit opaque in places, so a read through the BGG forums is a virtual necessity. It's very difficult to win as Jack if the other player is playing attention. Some characters are much easier to win with than others.
After a couple of plays, very nice; potentially as good as Imperial. My only concern is the range of viable strategies, which seems somewhat limited. If you end up competing to realize a strategy more than someone else, then you'll lose.
Way too chaotic with more than two or three players, and the luck of the draw plays a substantial role. But very nice-looking, with a good theme and unique (so far) mechanic. The iPhone version is amazing, and takes care of all the bookkeeping for you.
I haven't made up my mind yet completely about this one, but early plays were only so-so. I end up having to attack people randomly until someone pisses me off enough to become my new favorite target. Most cards get played every game. Theme is completely pasted-on.
This looks promising, but I didn't realize that it was all in German when I bought it. No problem for me, but I'll need to get around to making some paste-ups before I can actually play it with anyone I know. A couple of the ideas in the game, especially that of the competitive-cooperative secret allegiance thing, are ideas that I've been kicking around for a while myself.
With the right crowd, this can be a very fun game. There seems to be a lot of variance in the results--sometimes the guards win early and easily, while other times they barely see anyone at all. For that reason, I'd consider this a light game, but still very fun.
I like this game, but I haven't yet figured out how to make it work for every group. Usually one person ends up being the leader and everyone falls in line with very little debate, making it seem a bit mechanical. Some of the roles are fairly boring to play, too. It probably rocks as a solitaire game, but I haven't tried that yet.
Just what you'd expect from a card game about poop-tossing monkeys. The theme is funny for the first fifteen minutes, but you'll only be halfway through your first play by then. Worth buying if you need another lengthy, chaotic card-flipper.
I've enjoyed this game, but I feel like I must have missed something crucial--it just isn't all THAT great. The best feature is probably the great resource pricing model, but the actual play just doesn't strike me as all that much fun.
I can't decide whether I love this game or hate it. Typical for Knizia in that it is elegant and simple, but also typical in that a risky strategy is usually the only way to win. Often the player in first place and the player in last played similar games, but the tiles fell out to the favor of one over the other.
Better than San Juan, but vastly overrated. Very luck-driven, so that most of the time, among players of like experience, the result is determined more by the cards than by anything else. Each expansion adds both niftiness and luck; I advise adding them one at a time.
Occasionally a 2p game will be close and exciting. Most of the time, though, the winner is clear after the second or third turn. After that, the loser is just playing to be polite. The game would be much improved by the use of a doubling cube or similar convention.
Some very cool cards, but by now the deck is too thick. It's annoying to decide on a certain strategy, and then never draw what you need. More cards means more luck, always, and there is no way to really manage this factor. Usually you're either very lucky, or just out of luck from the initial draw, and the game is a bit too long and complex for this to be okay. Takeovers are worthless chrome; an opponent may leave himself wide open to attack, but it won't matter most of the time because you won't draw the cards you need in order to do anything about it.
Virtually every game is decided by the luck of the draw. This is not a strategy game any more, if it ever was. I'd rather play St. Petersburg if I want a lucky game--it's much faster.
Abysmal. A pointless expansion that I would not recommend to anyone. Strategies that used to work well are now completely foiled by lucky draws from the massive-and-growing 300+ card pile. The new prestige mechanic is unbalanced and adds nothing more to the game than putting fines on Free Parking adds to Monopoly. There have always been some very powerful combos in this game, but the odds against more than one player achieving such a combo have increased to the point that this is virtually a pure-luck game now. Games that used to be close and exciting are now usually blowouts whose outcome is obvious after two or three turns.
I only rate it a 2 (instead of a 1) because some of the new cards are nifty. You might be able to selectively add some to your deck to spice it up a bit. The only other way I'd agree to play this wretched expansion would be if we could pull at least 75 of the most worthless cards (and there are a lot of worthless cards now) out of the pile before starting.
I have heard that the designers will be taking RftG in a new direction with future releases; I hope that it will be the opposite direction from this one.
The peak of this game's excellence. The addition of goals was an excellent idea, lending some focus to an otherwise fairly chaotic game. Later additions bring the worthless takeover mechanic, as well as the ridiculously bad prestige mechanic, in addition to a lot of extra deck fluff.
(2010-10-04) A great hidden-faction/betrayal game, pared down to its simplest possible implementation. Replayability is not great, but this may be improved somewhat by the boxed version's special cards, which I haven't gotten yet. It's very interesting to see the McCarthy-ish accusations come out as people try to figure out who's on which side.
(2013-09-21) Three years on, finally got around to revising my rating of this upward. Still a fantastic game, now with lots of variants to make it work better with different player counts and different experience levels. If you're at all open to the idea of a hidden faction bluffing and betrayal game, this is the one you want.
Surprisingly fun, for what it is. There's just a wee bit of Magic Realm in this, but it's one of the best wee bits you could use -- the fun of discovering the land by flipping over tiles is greater than it should be. The little quests are nice, too.
This is effectively a lighter, luckier re-theme of Chicago Express. Extra points for the fact that my wife seems to like it, but probably not deep enough to see much action in groups of dedicated boardgamers.
I liked this game until I played it with people who had played it a lot, and since then it's seemed fairly pointless. Buy lots of purple buildings and hope somebody is dumb enough to plant crops occasionally. There appears to be no other route to victory, and the journey isn't good enough to make it worthwhile.
A nasty, nasty game that defies simple strategies. Play too cheap and you can be the overseer all game, but you'll rarely win that way. Spend too much optimizing your favorite crop and you'll be open to freeloaders and drought.
The jury is still out on this one. It might be a great game, but it seems to have two lousy games included in the box. If everyone plays too peacefully, the game devolves into a rather mundane rummy variant. If everyone plays too aggressively, it turns into a lame Risk derivative, where everyone is limited to twelve armies. The diplomacy mechanic is very interesting, though, and it might be enough to keep the game balanced between its bad extremes, at least among experienced players.
Pretty good for what it is: a large-group game with hidden allegiances and unique powers. There does seem to be a lot of luck (werewolf + machine gun = bad news for the hunters), and a couple of the characters kind of suck, but it's better than Bang! by a mile.
Further evidence that elegance does not imply fun. Brilliantly simple gameplay and rather complex forms of evidence probably make this an excellent tool for teaching (or sharpening) basic reasoning skills, but there isn't much here to get the blood pumping.
Start with the mediocre game "Witch's Brew". Remove the only interesting part of that game -- the role draft -- and voila! A perfectly chaotic game, utterly devoid of strategy. Chvatil must've spent about ten minutes designing this on a bar napkin.
Really nice components and fast, simple gameplay. But the game is extremely luck-dependent, with victory or defeat often determined by the command point draws of the Space Marine player. Also, the pieces are too big for their squares most of the time, resulting in figures catching on each other and knocking each other down, which kind of ruins the effect.
A decent train game, but with some real imbalances. It's supposed to be an intro-level 18xx game, but the concepts that are simplified are not the ones that (in my experience) cause new players much trouble, anyway. A better intro path would be Imperial or Chicago Express followed by 1830.
Similar in many ways to Chicago Express, but with some complicating twists that make it worth exploring more.
Lowered 7->5 because I bought it to play with six players, and it truly sucks with six. Inevitably one or two companies get encircled in New England, rendering them utterly worthless for the rest of the game. Players then have to save cubes to up their bids for the companies that are still viable. Complete crap for six, and probably not great for five.
I expected to dislike this game, but it surprised me. Very simple worker-placement mechanism allows the player to tilt the odds of getting needed resources one way or the other. Outcomes are usually based on the sum of lots of dice, which means tight distributions and more predictable payoffs. This is much better than the typical dice game (e.g., Settlers) where one very flat-distributed die roll can crush you.
Scales well, plays fast, very little luck. What's not to love? Perhaps best of all, it's the most thematically consistent Euro-wood-cube game I've ever played. It all makes perfect sense. "The Irish on the Upper West Side love me, because I helped so many of them to get settled there", or "I might be able to hold on to Ward 7, but I'll have to call in a lot of favors." Just a great game, all around.
Abysmal. This game looked like it had a lot of promise, but the rules are just too loose to make a workable game out of the (surprisingly nice) materials. The designers seem to be unwilling to address the game's many gaping holes, so I can only recommend that this one be avoided, period.
I wish this played faster; I'd be willing to pull it out more often. Does an excellent job of simulating the development of a civilization in the time available. Every turn is full of difficult choices. Some have criticized this for being too luck-driven; I haven't played it enough to perceive this as a problem yet.
Update: several plays later, I don't think luck is very important at all, but knowing the cards certainly is. Unlike RftG, the decisions you make early don't lock you into a strategy that you're stuck with whether the cards show up or not. Switching strategies isn't free, but it's not a game-breaker, either.
Yes, it really is a Dominion knock-off, reducing the interaction and adding annoying, time-killing chrome. There is nothing in this game that is not better in Dominion (except, arguably, the theme), making it completely superfluous.
The best all-around "gateway game" I know of, Ticket to Ride is quick and exciting, though rather luck-driven. Give me the right tickets at the beginning, and I'll win every time. But still a good time for players of all ages. Definitely much better with the larger cards from the 1910 expansion, or one of the other big boxes--those little train cards suck to shuffle.
All of this series are fun, but this is probably the best map. There are long, point-rick routes in the east, but many more routes in the crowded west. Letting players draw one long and two short routes at setup helps a lot to balance things out.
The passenger mechanic adds a great new twist to the game--it's possible to rack up a huge score with some carefully-timed passenger moves. Do you run early, or wait until your routes are perfect for the big points? It's a hard choice. The little cardboard discs suck to set up; I've been trying to come up with a better way to track this.
Falling somewhere between a pure-abstract game and a Martin Wallace-style tactical economy-builder, Tigris and Euphrates is just about perfect. Beginners always have trouble distinguishing the internal and external conflicts, but a few examples usually clear this up. T&E can be very boring if everyone tries to be too nice, and it can be extremely frustrating if everyone is too aggressive. Once the group finds a workable balance, though, it just works.
Tikal is meatier and less luck-driven than Carcassonne or Settlers, but still simple enough to serve as a gateway game. My only complaint is the slightly inelegant action point system--you get ten every turn and you'll want to consider carefully how best to spend them. I can't help thinking that this could have been streamlined a bit to make the choices clearer for new players.
A really pretty game with the best box-liner ever.
The components are terrible, but the rules are quite good and the gameplay has incredible potential. It seems to be the next stage of evolution for deduction games. This could become a top 10 game with more plays.
After a couple of plays, I like this game quite a bit. There is definitely some luck involved, but not so much that skillful play can't beat it. Dreadfully, ridiculously long--this one needs the Game Cube, desperately.
The best strategy, oddly enough, seems to be to go for victory points.
I am convinced that I will like this more once I feel that I have had a truly successful game. Somehow the strategy just never clicks for me, but perhaps that is part of the fascination. I keep expecting a machine-builder that isn't there. There are efficiencies to be gained, but they're so slight that that it's easy to forget that they're worth something.
Absolutely fantastic train game, a bit like Chicago Express meets Ticket to Ride. It's much meatier and more interesting than TTR, but luckier and less mechanical than CE. Each turn is an agonizing decision--do I lay track, increasing the value of my stock and drawing another share to play later, or do I lay out some shares to strengthen my portfolio before the next dividend? And laying out shares is not easy either. Do I want to add a little mojo to two different stocks, or a lot of mojo to just one? And what about the UP shares--when do I need to get those down on the table? An excellent game that really deserves a new edition.
After one game, it's clear that this CAN degenerate into Tolkien-Risk, which is boring and not worth the set-up time. I'll need another play or two before I can be sure about it, but it's so long to play that this might take a while.