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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.