$10.00
A Kniziaphile's Collection
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Recommend
186 
 Thumb up
9.02
 tip
 Hide
Knizia's games strike a chord with me. There is always always some little spark, some combination of fun and cleverness about his designs that makes me eager to play them again. It seems to me that the underlying systems in his games do not just provide goals for the players but facilitate connections between them so that they feel that they are interacting in subtle ways, and yet at the same time they can always accomplish something satisfying for themselves on their turns—if there isn't a short-term success or a step in a larger strategy, they can at least have the fun of taking a risk or making a significant decision. These systems also often provide a kind of personality to the game so that it seems to have a life of its own, where players are not just struggling amongst themselves but must also swim in a common current that is somewhat predictable but sometimes surprising.

Even more, it always strikes me that there is some kind of underlying idea at work behind the designs. They're not just collections of mechanisms that successfully facilitate ~90 minutes of competition, they also highlight some element of human nature and let the players...you know...play with it. The tensions in his games somehow resonate with truths about the outer world and ourselves, like the need for balance, the pain of choosing between equally desirable paths, the destructive force of conflict, the value of cooperation, or the advantage of anticipating trends.

Part of the affinity might be that we both come at the concept of gaming from the same direction. I am a card player at heart, and I believe that most of Knizia's designs have the card game as their model and so incorporate the best qualities of that type of game: high variability from play to play, lots of player interaction via the mechanisms of game, and a blend of luck and strategy. For that reason, it never fazes me much if I read about someone's dislike of Knizia's designs, because I know they're not for everybody; if a person has never found any enjoyment in games like spades or gin rummy, I rather doubt that they'll ever be big fans of Euphrat & Tigris or Taj Mahal. There are some exceptions to this rule, though; Through the Desert, one of the doctor's favorites of his own designs, is a purely spatial game like chess or go.

There's something else that I think trips people up with respect to Knizia, and that is that most of his games are "scalable to interest level," you might say, in that players can play the game either casually or seriously, and the game will work both ways. I've even seen Euphrat & Tigris played as a "take that" game, believe it or not. Knizia's games tend to have streamlined rules (he prefers to put the complexity in the scoring) and tend not to be overly computational or send players through a lot of if-I-do-this-and-he-does-that hoops in the way that Puerto Rico or Princes of Florence might. What all that means is that folks who don't put much stock in Knizia will often dismiss his games as fillers or luckfests after only one play. I mean, if there's no labor required in taking your turn or you can't map out all the possible consequences, it's not a "serious game" right? Sadly, this is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you don't think about the game, then it becomes dumb. In other words, Knizia might just be a little too subtle for his own good. Personally I feel like many of his so-called fillers and family games have a lot more scope for thought than a lot of people give them credit for, even if they do have luck involved. Jay Little called this the "veneer of simplicity."

Anyway, what follows is the catalogue of the Reiner Knizia games in my collection and my thoughts about them. I can't really pretend that I'm any kind of Knizia expert, since there are many games on this list that I've only played once or twice, but hopefully I've figured out something halfway interesting to say about most of them.

There are some notable absences from my collection, so before anyone says "how can you call yourself a Kniziaphile and not have a copy of _______?" I'll just mention them preemptively.

Samurai: I've played this once face-to-face and a few times on MabiWeb. It's a game I'd like to have for the collection, but I don't know if I like it quite enough to buy it, considering that it's fairly expensive. It's neat in its way, but it does have that "you have to police the guy on your left" thing which I'm not that fond of. Great Wall of China or King's Gate might be cheaper alternatives.

Lord of the Rings/Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation: I'm not a fantasy enthusiast and I have to admit I've never read Lord of the Rings. I'm sure the game is perfectly enjoyable even if one hasn't read the book, but...well...I'm just not into the whole hobbit thing. Sorry.

Medici: I've played twice and I didn't care for it much; it just felt too calculational. Strangely, though, I do enjoy Medici vs. Strozzi, which is equally mathy, if not more. I guess I don't mind that kind of thinkiness in a two-player game, since a two-player game is bound to be faster and you're not going to lose a hard-fought game because of someone else's mistake.

Colossal Arena: I haven't tried it but I'm planning to pick it up the next time it's convenient.

Stephensons Rocket: Played twice and, to be honest, I'm just not sure I got it. I don't usually care much for games with no random element or hidden information, so I'm not sure how much I'll ever warm up to it. That said, I'll probably buy the new Rio Grande remake when it comes out.

For more fun with Reiner K., please see these excellent geeklists:
"Chris Ranks the Knizia Boardgames" by Chris Farrell: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/786
"Me and My Knizia" by Kane Klenko: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/9332
Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: knizia [+] [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
Prev «  1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 
26. Board Game: Merchants [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1647]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Handelsfürsten: Herren der Meere, Pegasus Spiele, 2007
2–4 players, 30 minutes. Players are merchants bringing goods to port while at the same time manipulating demand with their hand of cards. Players are also able to expand their fleet, open offices which get them more demand cards, hire dockworkers which allow them to exchange goods more quickly, and sign trade agreements that bring in more money per transaction.

A fairly light game, but one that provides interesting and enjoyable stuff to do and think about. Players get the fun of customizing their own operation, and meanwhile there's lots of player interaction as players try to eke out points for themselves without giving away too many to anyone else. In the final end there might be a hair too much luck for this one to be a standout in the collection, but even so it's an enjoyable play. Also worth noting is that it plays well with any number.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
27. Board Game: Head-to-Head Poker [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:7300]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Head-to-Head Poker, Parker Brothers, 2005
2 players, circa 30 mintues. "Schotten-Totten with betting" is the easiest description. There are ten variations of how cards are drawn and played, and a die roll decides which of the variations will be used in each round.

A Knizia game for $5.00 at Toys 'R' Us: how could I resist? Plenty of plastic chips are included but the cards are too small and the board is superfluous. Regardless, I've ended up playing this one quite a bit with my brother. It's a seamless blending of poker and the whole Schotten-Totten concept, and rather than limiting the game to only one of the many viable variations on how to dish out and apply the cards, Dr. K. throws them all in the box and lets a die roll decide. Some of the gamelets are more interesting than others, though.

I think the game would have been improved by having $25 be the smallest denomination; $10 chips are just too granular for this game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
28. Board Game: High Society [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:611]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
High Society, Uberplay, 2003, originally published 1995
3–5 players, 30 minutes. A light auction game, the first twist being that players are limited to specific denomination cards, cannot make change, and can only add to bids, and the second twist being that the player who ends up having spent the most money at the end of the game is out of contention.

Time to be a little bit cynical. Back in the day, this was a very hard-to-find title, and perhaps not coincidentally it was also proclaimed The Greatest Filler Ever by those lucky few who had a copy on their shelf. A case of extreme rareness lending a special sheen to a game? Yeah, pretty much. Now, don't get me wrong—I do like High Society. It's a very good game that I enjoy a great deal. But does it really rise that far above Knizia's other card games? Not really.

But I do like it.

Just not with five.

For a table of the probabilities of the number of auction items that get turned over in the course of the game, see my session report here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/37265

For even more society of a high nature here's another session report http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/406428 or really two for the price of one, an ordinary one at the beginning and then a psychotic bit of game-inspired fictional journalism asterisked at the end.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
29. Board Game: Indigo [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:926]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Indigo, Ravensburger, 2012
2–4 players, 20–30 minutes. Players place path tiles to bring the most valuable gems to their home bases.

Indigo is a nicely produced bantamweight abstract in the style of Metro or Tsuro, but a bit more interesting than either of those two. Along the edges of a circular board are the players' home bases, and players must try to bring gem stones to these bases in order to score points. Stones worth one point are also found along the edges of the board, and gems worth two and three points are found on a tile at the very center.

The two-player game will be a tight duel, and between players of equal skill the final outcome may be decided by the final tile—specifically whether it has the right type of path on it. More interesting are the three- and four-player games, since in these cases the players share some or all of their home bases with other players; if they steer a gem to such a base, their partner will receive an identical gem from the supply. This means that players can try to set each other up for deliveries, so there is a feeling of cooperation as well as competition.

In typical fashion, Dr. K. has managed to create a game that is both simple and thoughtful, and one which provides a lot of fun player interaction. Indigo is a good choice for families, and also for serious gamers who want something relaxed to play in between their heavyweights.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
30. Board Game: Ingenious Challenges [Average Rating:5.93 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.93 Unranked]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Ingenious Challenges, Sophisticated Games/Fantasy Flight, 2010
Three games based on the classic board game—a card challenge, a dice challenge and a tile challenge. Each features the familiar goal of scoring points in the six colors, with extra turns for the extra ingenious!

A pleasant but unremarkable three-in-one collection of games based on Einfach Genial a.k.a. Ingenious. The card game and the dice game are very similar; players either play a two-symbol card or roll two to four dice (depending on the number of players) and match the symbols with the other cards/dice that are currently displayed to score points. The one difference from the original game is that the scoreboards have "zones" on them, and players cannot move into a new zone if he still has pegs two zones behind. In the dice game players can use matching symbols on their rolls as a wild color.

With four players I preferred the card game; the four-player dice game can drag because it's harder to roll wilds on just two dice. With three players I liked the dice game better because there's a little extra excitement to it. I also enjoyed the two-player dice game, but I haven't played the two-player card game to compare.

The tile game differs from the other two in that it is more of a "push-your-luck" game, and it is also much more luck-dependent. As such I didn't find it particularly interesting.

Overall I found two of the three games diverting, with the dice game possibly being the best of the three, but none of them quite matching up to the genius of Ingenious.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
31. Board Game: Jäger und Sammler [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:2001]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Jäger und Sammler, Amigo, 2010
2–4 players, 45 minutes. Players take on the roles of stone-age hunters and gatherers searching for food and readying themselves for the coming winter. In the first half of the game, the roots, berries and herbs are plentiful, but players must also secure their winter lodgings and collect weapons in anticipation of the cold weather to come. In the second half, the snow is on the ground; there are fewer foraging opportunities and the tribes must hunt the great woolly mammoth to survive. Meanwhile there are various caveman-type trinkets to collect so that your tribe can be the envy of the antediluvian world. Some things never change!

This is a very enjoyable middleweight game, similar to Durch die Wüste and Hey! That's My Fish!, in that it has a nice blend of strategy and fun. Players move their pawns across tiles, taking any weapons or point-scoring tiles with them when they leave the space. Because pawns cannot move onto a space with no tile, the game has a chess-like feel as players try to figure out how they can cut each other off from the goodies without being cut off themselves. There is an element of surprise as well, however, because halfway through the game the board "resets," and players repeat the process with a new layout. What happens in the first half affects what goes on in the second: if a player does not reserve a spot at each winter camp, he has fewer pawns to work with in the second half, and the weapons collected in the first half become important as there are more delicious mammoths roaming the plains.

There is also an American edition of the game called Zombiegeddon; in this version the "winter" is a thermonuclear winter, and instead of hunting woolly mammoths players must protect themselves from mutant zombies.* The game also has a rule change to give the proceedings a little more bite: instead of the helpful roads of Jäger und Sammler, there are barriers! Both versions play well, and players can pick the rule that suits their mood—friendly or fiendish. Personally, I prefer the "barriers" version; to me it adds just the right amount of tension.

*One might wonder if they became zombiefied after they mutated or if they first became zombies and then subsequently mutated.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
32. Board Game: Katzenjammer Blues [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:3703]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Katzenjammer Blues, Goldsieber, 1998
2–6 players, 30 minutes. Cards serve two functions: they are used to bid on lots of even more cards at auction and they are melded to earn points. Jokers are handy, but the player who ends up with the most will lose points.

An fun little game once you get the hang of it; players need to be aggressive to score points, but at some point they'll also need to decide whether they're going to embrace the jokers or try to unload them. There's a sizable amount of luck involved, but the decisions to be made are still pretty interesting.

I preferred the variant of playing multiple rounds and tallying score, as I felt the game was decidedly short and unsatisfying at only one round.

Players' initial deal: 6 cards
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
33. Board Game: Little Italy [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:6936]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Little Italy, Playroom Entertainment, 2007
2–6 players, 30 minutes. Players represent gangs of mobsters who drive around the neighborhood making money pickups while avoiding the police.

Despite the organized-crime theme, this is a simple family game in which players roll dice and try to move their cars to the current money pickup location before their opponents. Alternatively, they can try to move the other players' cars into the hands of the cops! There is a look-ahead element to the game because the pickup/police locations move around the board in a fixed sequence, and the risks/rewards increase as the game goes on. Overall it has a backgammon-like feel in which players try to make the most of their dice, but it has a bit more of a wild and woolly feel than that older game.

The other interesting element is that when playing with four or more the players will share their cars with their immediate neighbors, so they can try to set each other up for payoffs. The two- and three-player gamers are still interesting, though, because players will have more control over the board with that number.

Overall I think the game is fun to play with family but serious gamers are sure to find it a bit too luck-dependent.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
34. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:257]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Lost Cities, Kosmos/Rio Grande, 1999
2–5 Players, 30 minutes. Players are explorers mounting expeditions to mysterious locales. Every step closer to a lost city brings in more points, but don't bite off more than you can chew—failed expeditions are negative points!

The classic card duel, with over 100,000 plays logged here on the 'geek. I wouldn't put this in the top tier of Knizia two-player games—I prefer Blue Moon, Scarab Lords, Schotten-Totten, Times Square and Carcassonne: the Castle—but that's hardly an insult. The game is breezy and enjoyable and I'm happy to play it anytime.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
35. Board Game: Marco Polo Expedition [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:2423]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Marco Polo Expedition, Ravensburger, 2004
2–5 players, 30–45 minutes. "Leapfrog on steroids." Players draft cards to pay the costs of moving their pawn eastward, but they jump over any opponent's pawns free of charge. The various spaces have different costs, such as three of any one kind of good, three cards of the same color, two caravan leaders, et cetera. The goal is not to reach Peking first but rather to collect the most gold along the way...though it certainly helps to be the leader of the pack at the right moments....

I'd always thought this was a beautiful-looking game, but at the same time the price tag kept me away, especially considering that it looked to be a fairly light game and that it was not given much of a welcome by gamers. Nevertheless I kept my feelers out and was thrilled when I saw a new copy on ebay for a "buy it now" price of $15.00 after shipping. Wow! And boy, are the components ever nice.

I'm very happy with the purchase. The game is relatively simple and relatively fast, but, as is usual with R.K.'s stuff, there's some great game play packed in there as well. It seems to me that when lesser designers create a light game, they usually take the easy way out by simply making a chaotic, unpredictable game. Reiner Knizia has the knack of designing games that are easy to teach and play and yet which still provide interesting situations to think about.

It's worth mentioning that I strongly disagree with the theory that the optimal way to play the game is to hoard cards until you can shoot far ahead of everyone else. Yes, if everything works out, it will be hard for others to jump you, but at the same time you can't jump anyone either. Everyone receives the exact same number of cards over the course of the game, and the best way to get ahead of other players in terms of resources is to have opportunities to jump them. To hoard cards for the purpose of shooting ahead of everyone else so that no one can leapfrog you hurts you as much as your opponents; if the players behind you switch gears and make a lot of short leapfrog hops they will quickly catch up to you without having spent anywhere near as many cards as you have. Get it?

Anyway, I really enjoyed the game. It's simple and plays quickly, but there's a good amount of forward-thinking that must be done. You can't simply focus on the space directly ahead of you; you need to have contingency plans, and it's sometimes a good idea to count on being leapfrogged and collect cards for the next available space (though you also need to be wary if the other player has a lot of cards and might jump you and then keep going...).

I am stunned by the low average rating here on BGG; I would recommend this very highly to anyone who wants a fun family game that tickles the brain cells.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
36. Board Game: Medici vs Strozzi [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1244]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Medici vs. Strozzi, Abacus/Rio Grande, 2006
2 players, 30 minutes. 6 boats, 3 harbors, twenty-four commodity tiles numbered zero to four in four suits. A player draws up to three commodity tiles from a drawstring bag and names a price, and the opposing player has first choice; if he declines, then the drawing player must buy the tiles for the price specified. Tiles are then assigned to one of the player's three boats, which must then be assigned to a harbor if it has not been assigned already. Afterwards control of the bag goes to whoever bought the tiles. Players continue until one player's boats are full or the bag is empty. Players earn cash for having the higher total in a harbor and bonuses for having the most of certain goods.

Medici wasn't quite to my taste, but I decided to take a chance on the two-player sequel. So far I've found it to be intense and enjoyable, though also a bit opaque. The time listed on the box is thirty minutes, but my opponents and I found it meaty enough to spend over an hour sweating our moves.

What's interesting is that success does not entirely depend on "correct" valuation of lots, if such a thing is even possible outside of the very final moments of the game; there's a more subtle game going on involving control of the bag, the filling up of the boats, and pushing to end the round before one's opponent is ready. Everything hinges around orchestrating situations in which a lot is more valuable to you than it is to your opponent; an obvious example would be a lot which will end the round immediately and in a favorable game-state for you but which does not translate into a similar payoff for your opponent.

The common complaint about the game seems to be that players often end up with less money than they started. My explanation of that phenomenon is here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1497787#1497787

One little tip to help out new players: if it's the end of the round and all else is equal, the correct value of a lot is the amount that it is worth to both players plus half the difference in worth between the two players. For example, if there were a tile which would decide a harbor bonus (20 points to whoever wins the tile) and which would give one player a +10 increase in his monopoly bonus, then the correct price to set for either player is 25 (unless you think you predict your opponent will either over- or underestimate their evaluation). All wealth is relative, remember.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
37. Board Game: Merchants of Amsterdam [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:999]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Merchants of Amsterdam, Jumbo/Rio Grande, 2000
3–5 players, 90 minutes. A combination of an area majority game and an auction game. Players fight for commodity monopolies, warehouses in Amsterdam, and trading posts around the world; each of these three areas is split into four sub-regions, and the player with the most influence in the sub-region with the most influence markers will earn the most money. Influence is bought via auction using the Dutch auction clock, which counts downward from 200 and which a player stops when it reaches the price he or she is willing to play...if no one else has stopped it first! There is also a timeline through which the players pass which dictates when the various areas will be scored.

I like the game; there's a lot of complex and interconnected stuff going on, and players have a whole menu of short- and long-term goals from which to choose. The board is a battlefield with hot spots and mini-rivalries, and the two keys seem to be nabbing the cards that help you out in two areas at once and auctioning off stuff that other people are going to fight over. The critical thing, however, is making sure that everyone understands how easy it is to overpay; in the best possible case, the most you can make on any one majority over the course of the game is something like 500,000 florin; if you end up making four bids of 120,000 to maintain that majority, you're getting a 4% return on your investment. If you're paying that much to maintain a majority in a third-ranked region, you're talking about a significant loss. On the other hand, most cards affect two different areas of the board, so it's not easy to figure out how much you ought to be paying for stuff. For reference, in our last game the average going price for cards was in the neighborhood of 100–110 florin (the range being 70–150), and the guy who sat out most of the auctions came in last.

My one criticism of the game is that the difficult valuation and the unpredictable scoring (you know what's going to be scored next, you just don't know how soon) undercut the drama in that it's harder to identify the "big moments" and thus make the game have a somewhat flat story arc.

Incidentally, I have what I call a "gentleman's variant" where if one player's hand is already moving, the other players don't try and beat him to the clock; it takes out the unnecessary dexterity element and keeps the clock from getting smashed to flinders.

So far I've played once with three players and once with four, and both worked well; the board doesn't get as filled up with three, but you're better able to gauge where you are in relation to your opponents and so the feeling of competition is accentuated.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
38. Board Game: Minotaur Lords [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:3112]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Minotaur Lords, Fantasy Flight, 2004
2 players, 20–40 minutes. Minotaur Lords is the sequel to Scarab Lords and is played as an independent game, though players can also pit the new decks against the decks from the original.

I didn't like this follow-up as much as the first game in the "Lords" series because the decks seem a little too gimmicky; if you can put together certain combinations, your opponent is toast; otherwise you just kind of struggle along and hope for the best (this particularly seems the case with the red deck). The difference in feel between Scarab Lords and Minotaur Lords is so marked that I wonder if maybe Fantasy Flight designed the Minotaur Lords decks rather than Reiner Knizia.

If you have the game or are interested in trying it, it's very important to read the errata here on the geek or at Fantasy Flight's website. There is a mistake on the horde cards; their text should read "...in this column." Also, be sure to read the text of the "High Priest of Rogoth" cards carefully; they have a special ability, but it is mentioned in between the two sentences of the standard text of the horde ability. Bizarre.

Running tally of games that have a six-card/tile hand: 5
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
39. Board Game: Mmm ... Brains! [Average Rating:5.38 Overall Rank:9733]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Mmm...Brains!, Twilight Creations, 2007
3–5 players, 20 minutes. A two-part dice game in which hungry zombies seek a brain buffet. In the first half, players roll and re-roll dice to achieve the highest possible total in any one color and then collect that number of plastic brains; the second half is played similarly except that instead of gathering brains, the player whose color matches the color chosen on the dice loses brains. One has to be careful, though, because if none of the colors on the dice match the colors of the players left in the game, the player has to toss his own brains into the middle. The last zombie left holding brains wins the game.

One of the rare games that I actually bought at a brick-and-mortar shop.

The best short dice game around, in my opinion. It doesn't have the end-game clunkiness of Exxtra, and it looks like it will be more reliably fast than the otherwise excellent Pickomino. I only wish the brains weren't quite so weensy.

Another R.K. dice game that intrigues me is "Mice and Men" from Dice Games Properly Explained.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
40. Board Game: Masters Gallery [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1262]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Modern Art the Card Game, Gryphon Games, 2009
2–5 players, 20–30 minutes. It's many years later, but the five fabulous artists are still at it! Players must promote their favorite artists to make their paintings the most valuable—cool Lite Metal, zany Yoko, organic Christin P., cerebral Karl Gitter, or the enigmatic Krypto. Be careful, though—the public's taste can change quickly, and what once was "hot" suddenly is "not."

The easiest way to describe Modern Art the Card Game is to call it a cross between Modern Art and Trendy. Like Trendy, players play cards from their hand until a certain number of cards of a particular suit is on the table, and then they score points for the cards played. Like Modern Art, the suits retain value from round to round, but the cards will only score points if the suit is one of the three most popular of the current round. Another similarity to Modern Art is the fact that players receive most of their cards in the beginning of the game.

MAtCG has ended up being a bit lighter than I had expected. I was enthusiastic about the idea of an "advanced Trendy" where players had a bigger hand of cards and so could do more long-term planning. However, some of this strategizing is undercut by the special cards which add an element of uncertainty to the game—particularly the ones that allow players to play an extra card face-down and the ones that force everyone to play a card simultaneously. Moreover, a person who is dealt a lot of these cards will have an advantage over a person who is dealt none of them.

Still, though, the game can be a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it enough to bring it to the table ten times. With two or three players it has a nice "thinky" quality to it at times, with players trying to gauge the others' intentions on the fly and time their own plays correctly. With four players it's a little more unpredictable, but the game moves very quickly, and so the feeling is that of many fast-paced reversals of fortune. Sometimes a plan comes off nicely, other times disaster strikes; there are a lot of different factors at work, and even if one doesn't have control over all of them, it can be interesting to watch them play out.

Overall I think that hardcore gamers are going to want to stick to the original game, but those looking for a short, simple family game that has some little undercurrent of thought and craftiness may well enjoy this one.


ADDENDUM: I just tried the iOS version of the game and discovered that I'd missed a rule. Dang!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
41. Board Game: Money! [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1011]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Money!, Goldsieber, 1999
3–5 players, 30 minutes. A weird cross between a trading game and a blind bidding game. Players are trying to collect sets of currency, and each round there will be two sets of four cards on display; players simultaneously reveal cards from their hand, and, in order of total value offered, trade their cards with those on display or with those offered by the other players.

I've only played a couple of rounds, but I thought it was fun.

Players' initial deal: 6 cards.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
42. Board Game: Municipium [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1387]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Municipium, Valley Games, 2008
2–4 players, 60 mintues. Players represent great families trying to gain power in a Roman provincial capital; to do so they must earn the support of the military, the priests, the merchants and the advocates. Support is gained by sending family members to exert their influence over the seven public buildings, and also by impressing the praefect as he makes his rounds around the city. Each of the seven buildings also confers a special ability of which the players can periodically make use.

In many ways Municipium is a typical late-model Knizia; players' turns are short but interesting, there's lots of player interaction, and there's a nice blend of strategy and surprise. The real crux of the game is the way that turns work; each player gets two moves, after which he turns over a card from a twelve-card deck. That card will dictate how the turn ends, specifically whether players will potentially earn citizens or whether special powers will be activated. Remembering which cards have come out and knowing what's left in the deck will give a player a significant advantage. Players also have three family cards that they can use once each instead of turning over a card in the common deck, and the difficult decision of when to use these powerful cards adds a lot of interest and tension to the game.

I wasn't completely sure what to make of the game at first, but as time has gone on and I've played it more and more, I've come to enjoy it a great deal. Initially there was some feeling that the game was decided by pure luck, since there would be a number of players in contention towards the end and the game seemed to be won by whoever drew the right card at the right time. Then players began holding back their special family cards to try to make a late-game coup de grace, and things became more interesting.

I wrote a session report of my first game here.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
43. Board Game: Palazzo [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1047]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Palazzo, Ravensburger/Rio Grande 2005
2–4 players, 45–60 minutes. Players are trying to build the most impressive Italian palazzos, ideally erecting five stories in matching building materials. Stories are both auctioned and sold outright, and players must time all their actions right to get the pieces they need for a price they can afford.

Since the publication of his last "heavyweight," Amun-Re, Knizia has changed his design philosophy and has said that going forward all his designs are going to be playable in under an hour. I don't think this that means that he has turned his back on gamers, however; 2005 saw a trio of middleweight games that provide a rich gameplay experience: Tower of Babel, Beowulf, and Palazzo.

If nothing else, Palazzo turned out to be a lot more fun than it sounded from just reading the rules. Essentially it's a set collection game with an interesting currency system, and the individual items must be collected in a certain order. You can add an item to a set out of order, but you have to waste a turn to do so. The down side is that it is easily the most convoluted and rules-heavy Knizia middleweight to date—the Stefan Brück influence, no doubt—and you really need to get all those little rules right in order for everything to work properly. One other thing that's important to note is that while there isn't a lot of money pressure, there is definitely time pressure; there are only so many tiles to go around, and because of the distribution you can't necessarily make up for buying nothing in the early game by buying a lot in the late game. Unfortunately, if everyone does nothing but stockpile cash the game will stall; you need at least one player who will put pressure on the table by auctioning or buying.

For more info, you can check out my analysis of the game here:

http://boredgamegeeks.blogspot.com/2005/11/view-from-fifth-f...

Specifically I try to address the charge that others have made that players have no incentive to do anything except take money.

I'm going to guess that the sweet spot is three players, though the two-player game is surprisingly good.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
44. Board Game: Pinguin-Party [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:2117]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Pinguin-Party, Amigo, 2008
2-6 players, 15 minutes. Players create a pyramid of penguins; to put a penguin on a higher level it must have two penguins beneath it and one of them must match its color. Players continue placing penguins until there are no legal moves, and each player takes penalty points according to how many penguins he has left. Höher, pummelige vögel!

This is another super-light (though, interestingly, not at all chaotic) game, comparable in weight to Knizia's Crazy Derby. It's a very good game to play with kids, and it's actually not too bad as a fast, light game for adults—if they're willing to actually pay attention to what is going on and keep track of who is winning. The key is that it's not always about getting rid of your own penguins; it's often more important to extinguish placement possibilities for colors which you know other people own more of than you. You also don't want to set other people up to be able to limit/extinguish the colors you have a lot of.

Gamers who want to feel like they have a significant degree of control over what's going on will want to stick to the three-player game.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
45. Board Game: Friday the 13th [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1091]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Poison, Playroom Entertainment, 2005
3–6 players, 30–60 minutes. There are three kinds of potion and a cauldron for each; players play their potion cards into the cauldrons but take the cards in a cauldron as penalty points if the card that they played causes the total to exceed thirteen. Poison cards can be played anywhere, and they count as two penalty points! However, the player who collects the most cards of a potion becomes immune and takes no penalty points in that color.

I got this on a whim, mostly because I liked the graphics on the cards. So far I've played it once with three players and twice with four. The three-player game was okay, but the four-player games were excellent--if you're card counting even a little bit, there's a lot of interesting stuff going on. At the very least you can pay attention to who is choosing to take what cards; if the player on your right is collecting a certain color, you'll probably have an easy time getting rid of those cards (because they'll be emptying the pot on their turn), but this is not the case with the player on your left; she might clear a pot of the color she's collecting, but it will likely be refilled by the time it gets back to your turn. If you have enough cards in that color, you might want to take a chance and make a play for collecting the most yourself. And when do you play your poison cards? Do you want to get rid of them early, or do you want to get rid of your higher potion cards first? Played early, can you use them to slow down the turnover in one pot, thus increasing the turnover in the other pots?

Of course, there's a certain amount of luck involved too. Like in any card game, sometimes you get dealt an easy hand and sometimes you get dealt a difficult one. The important thing is to learn how to mitigate a bad hand and only take a few points instead of a bucketload. Hoping to get a perfect hand and pouting when you get a bad one is not a strategy.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
46. Board Game: Priests of Ra [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1081]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Priests of Ra, Abacus/Rio Grande, 2009.
2–5 players, 45-60 minutes. Ra is brought down to the human level: players try to accumulate farmers and granaries, warriors and fortresses, merchants and markets, scribes and libraries, and of course the priests who wield influence over all. Players need to specialize to earn lots of points, but they will also score bonuses for having a well-rounded civilization.

A new variation on an old classic: all the underlying mechanisms are the same—the suns, the epochs, the Ra track—but the tiles are completely different, thus creating an all-new game experience. Most notable is the fact that most of the tiles have two sides, and so players have a new decision to make on their turns. The priests are especially important, as they allow players to flip a tile that they are taking or have already taken. Meanwhile, it seems to me that there is a heightened sense of competition in the sequel, as there are now four majorities (the four people types) as opposed to just one (the pharaohs).

Priests of Ra is a very good game and one I am happy to have in the collection, but I think I may prefer the original. Part of the reason is that the choosing between the tile sides slows the game down a bit (since you have to examine everyone else's holdings). The other part is that the original is so well-known and beloved by gamers that they are always going to be more enthusiastic about playing that one.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
47. Board Game: Wildlife Safari [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:933]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Quandary, Milton Bradley, 1996; originally published as Flinke Plinke in 1994.
2–4 players, 30 minutes. An ultra-simple stock-market-type game. There are stacks of colored tiles in five colors, and players have a hand of numbered tiles matching those colors. Each turn players play a numbered tile and take a colored tile; when all six of one color of number tile has been played, the round ends and players earn points equal to the number of each colored tile collected multiplied by the last-played number tile matching that color. Get it?

The first Knizia I ever bought. I have the Milton Bradley edition with the big honking tiles, like in the picture over there. I read about the game in the Games 100 and it sounded perfect for me and my siblings. It ended up being a big hit.

Quandary (a.k.a. Loco) is, I have to say, is a great, great little game, and anyone who doesn't like it is probably your enemy. Like Schotten-Totten, it is aggressively simple and elegant, but there's remarkable depth to it. Well, let me back up: if you don't think about it much, it's a dumb little game that's completely dictated by luck, but if you actually put some thought into it—if you watch which colors people are taking, if you start trying to deduce which numbers people might be holding back for the end—then it's a tense little contest, one that even has a subtle psychological element.

The funny thing was that I had it on the shelf for a few years before I realized that it was invented by my favorite designer.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
48. Board Game: Quo Vadis? [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:1278]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Quo Vadis? Amigo, 2005 (originally published 1992)
3–5 players, 45 minutes. Through shrewd politicking, players must move their senators upwards through the committees of the Roman senate and collect laurels to win. However, in typical Knizia fashion, the victory condition has a twist: players must collect the most laurels and have a pawn in the prestigious "inner sanctum" at the top of the board. Pawns move upwards by majority vote within the committees, and this usually means making promises to one's opponents....

This and Modern Art are the earliest Knizia designs in my collection, at least by publication date.

What's interesting to me is that the game requires not just persuasiveness but also chess-type look-ahead and even a little creativity when it comes to wheedling and deal-making. Of course, how successful the game will be in any given group will be dictated by the personalities involved; if people are too reserved, it will fall flat.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
49. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:94]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Ra, Ravensburger/Rio Grande, 1999
3–5 players, 45 minutes. An auction game played in three rounds, and in each round each player has three or four numbered wooden tokens with which to bid on lots which will hopefully earn him VPs. In an interesting twist, the tokens used to buy the lots are left on the game board and become part of the next lot (to be used in the following round). The lots are comprised of tiles which are drawn from a face-down stack one at a time; on their turn players may either choose to add a tile to the current lot or initiate an auction. Meanwhile, some tiles hasten the end of the round, so there is no guarantee that players will get to spend all three of their tokens. There is a variety of different ways to earn points, including set collection and majority, and over time the lots can have greatly differing values for the different players.

I got a copy of the Alea edition back in 2001 and immediately fell in love. What a lot of people don't realize today is that this got a mixed (if not tepid) reaction from gamers when it was first released, even among Knizia fans. More auctions: ho hum! Modern Art 4-ever!

I find it difficult to pinpoint why I like this game so much, so I'll just copy and paste some other stuff I wrote. This is from my Amazing Geeklist of Mystery (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/3010):

"Ra is a game I like a lot. Some people consider it dry, but to me it's a game that has a distinct rhythm and logic of its own, and so seems to be alive in a more immediate way than some more heavily-themed games I know. It's a complex system that balances control and non-control (or let's call it divine intervention) and meshes together all the players in a reflexive push and pull. Above all, it is a wonderfully protean game that can be played over and over again, and it sometimes feels like once the game is really underway the conditions of each auction are utterly unique. Reiner Knizia's greatness as a game designer comes from his understanding that a game is, in essence, a distillation of life: volition, psychology, interaction, risk, complexity, simplicity, interconnectedness, and, above all, balance. With that in mind I'll say that I think Ra is one of his finest accomplishments."

And just for laughs here's an excerpt from an old review I wrote for Funagain in 2002 which addresses the common complaint that RK's games suffer from a lack of theme:

"People often, if not always, remark that the themes of Reiner Knizia's games are thin or tacked-on. This comment has begun to take on the stale-joke quality of the assertion that blondes are dumb and politicians are liars. Yes, the themes are sometimes arbitrary, this is true, but the question is, so what?

"Ra is a game whose charm comes not from its recreation of a world of elves or wookies but rather from the clever and balanced inner workings of the game itself. After a couple of plays one acquires a feel for how much the tiles are worth in a given circumstance, of the best way to spend suns, and of how quickly the end of an epoch can sneak up. The different collections of tiles each have their own character to them, and one soon learns when its too late to worry about monuments, or just how likely one is going to find a flood in time for scoring. This familiarity is as involving as the familiarity of a strong theme, perhaps more so in the long run. Maybe the first time you play NASCAR Madness 2010 you're pretending to be a race car driver, but after three or four plays you'll forget about the roaring crowds and burnt rubber and just concentrate on trying to roll a 6.

"As others have said before, Ra is a great game. It is light, in that it is relatively short and simple, and there is an element of luck, but it is also tense and engaging. Daydream at your own risk! It is true that it may take a couple of games for players to develop a full appreciation of it, but the point is that it's worth replaying—many times over."

For a more in-depth look at the game, check out http://www.themetagamers.com/index.php?post_id=214588
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
50. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:801]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
flag msg tools
and everything under the sun is in tune
mbmbmbmbmb
Ra: The Dice Game Abacus/Rio Grande, 2008
2–4 players, 30–45 minutes. A yacht-type dice game with Ra-like scoring. There are three rounds, with players scoring for having the most pharaohs, for flooded farms, for having three or more civilization advances, and for collections of monuments.

My favorite dice game. There's a good amount of drama packed in there as players strive towards various goals, and the decisions about how to use the dice are really quite interesting. There's also a nice amount of player interaction; as in Ra, having the most pharaohs will get you points and having the least will lose you points, and there are disasters with which to wreak havoc upon your rivals, but it is also possible to block opponents from getting the civilization and monument spots they want.

My only negative comment is that I felt like the game went on too long with four players; the game is a little too luck-heavy to still be fun at forty-five minutes. With two it's a fast, fun filler, and it works well with three too.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Prev «  1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Prev «  1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.