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My entire game collection - Rated, ranked, and with comments
Josh
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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All right, I'm taking matters into my own hands - if BGG won't allow me to separate expansions from the total number of games in my collection, I'm just going to have to do it myself. The GeekList format will allow me to combine the expansions in the same entry as the base game and, as games and expansions come and go from my collection, I can simply add or delete entries in this list to keep a running tally. Additionally, it will allow me to individually rank each game in my collection that shares the same rating.

And the timing is right. I recently spent several hours going through and updating all my game ratings and comments. Also, I don't expect much fluctuation in my game collection to happen for a while. My wife and I have focused our financial energies on paying off debts and saving for a down-payment on our first home, so there will be no new game purchases for the next several months. (Fortunately, I'm quite content with the great collection of games that we currently have.) Between that and being out of shelf space, I'm going to have to rely on trades to get my hands on new (or old) games that I really want (and on that note, I will mark any games in my collection that are available for trade - though you'll have to look close to the end of the list to find them - and will seriously consider any offer for an item that is currently on my Wishlist, so don't hesitate to send me a PM!).


A quick note regarding my personal rating system: I assign a "Game design" rating out of 5 (which attempts to objectively encapsulate everything from the physical components to the way in which the game mechanics work together), and a "Personal enjoyment" rating out of 5 (which is a purely subjective measurement of how much, or how little, I enjoy the game), to get my total out of 10. Thus, a game that has only an average fun factor but is very well designed (eg. Jamaica, Keythedral, Shear Panic) can get a high rating. Similarly, a game which is a ton of fun but suffers some design flaws (eg. Betrayal at House on the Hill, Cosmic Encounter Avalon Hill edition, A Lover's Touch) might not get as high a rating as I would like to give it.


The games on this list will be organized in the following manner:

1) By overall rating out of 10 (more specifically, the rating I give the game when it is played with all expansions that I currently own)
2) Where more than one game has the same rating out of 10, by the "Personal enjoyment" rating (although this will mean that the "party games" will tend to float to the top...)
3) Where more than one game has the same rating out of 10 and the same "Personal enjoyment" rating, by personal ranking preference (THIS is the hard part!)


These are only the game that I currently own. If anyone is curious to see the other 70-or-so game that I've rated and commented on, feel free to check out my game ratings (for example, my very favouritest game of all time for 4-6 players is currently not in my collection - mainly because it hasn't been released yet!). I toyed with the idea of creating a separate GeekList for the games I've rated but don't own, but after spending many, many hours creating this list over the past 2 days (thanks to being stuck at home due to illness), the very thought of doing it again is enough to send me into a panic attack.

So this list is mainly for my own benefit (and I expect I'll keep it regularly updated), but if anyone else finds it interesting, so much the better!



[EDIT] I've decided to leave the following types of games off this list and out of my personal BGG collection tracking:
-games I've picked up for my kids that I would not be otherwise interested in playing
-one or two games that my wife has acquired to play with her friends that I'm not likely to play at any point
-bedroom games (which are basically just co-op games where everyone wins, anyhow)
-PnP games where I haven't even completed the first "P" yet

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1. Board Game: War of the Ring (second edition) [Average Rating:8.35 Overall Rank:14]
Josh
Canada
Cambridge
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating (of my previously owned cry War of the Ring Collector's Edition): 10/10

Personal enjoyment: 5/5
Game design: 5/5

Wife's rating: 9/10

(Comments based on First Edition) Wow!! WOW!!!! What a truly EPIC game!! This is my favourite board game of all time for 2 players (although when I don't have several hours to commit to a game, Mr. Jack is my favourite board game of all time for 2 players), particularly when combined with the expansion elements of War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age, and when played with BGG user Jimzik's Starting from the Shire variant. It is also about the most complex board game that I could ever tolerate playing, and it would certainly be too long and complex for me if I wasn't such a big Lord of the Rings fan. The level of complexity really brings the books to life, but if you are not a fan of heavy games or are not a Lord of the Rings fan, you will probably want to avoid this one. And it certainly is a beast to just get to the table - prior to our first game I spent dozens of hours spray-painting the minis, reading and re-reading and re-re-reading the rulebooks and FAQs in an attempt to wrap my head around the countless rules exceptions, searching BGG for player aids and rules summaries, and scavenging from other games for settlement markers and other game pieces. The problem is, despite being an absolutely incredible game, the graphic designers have seemingly done everything in their power to confound the novice player - everything from monochromatic figures, to map regions that are too small to fit the figures, to barely discernible nation borders, to settlement symbols and region names that fade into the board background, to bizarre nation symbols on the political track and elsewhere, to minuscule card text that requires a magnifying glass, to a terribly organized rulebook, make this a very difficult and frustrating game from a visual standpoint. I've gone to the extensive effort of correcting most of these problems with my game, and the work was definitely worthwhile (you can do the same - have a look here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/38850). If you have one willing opponent and several hours to set up and play through a game, it simply does not get better than this!


Expansion: War of the Ring: Lords of Middle-earth


Expansion: War of the Ring: Lords of Middle-earth – Treebeard Mini-Expansion
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2. Board Game: Mr. Jack in New York [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:375]
Josh
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 9.5/5

Personal enjoyment: 5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

What a truly fantastic game this is! Just as with the Mr. Jack Extension, this game provides a similar-but-entirely-new Mr. Jack experience. It is highly strategic with the openness of the map and the fact that the topography is constantly changing. And that map feels tight! It seems like escape could be much easier for the Jack player, yet, other than the parks, there are very few places where he can hide. This edition has an equally high level of production as the original game (except this time there aren't any board or character card printing errors, thankfully), and is equally as fun. Time will tell if this version of "Mr. Crack" grips me with the same obsessive addiction as the previous ones, but I have already felt the first dose racing through my veins...
 
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3. Board Game: Mr. Jack [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:286]
Josh
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Cambridge
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 9.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5
Game design: 5/5

Wife's rating: 4/10

Sheer. Gaming. Brilliance! Let the gushing now begin... Mr. Jack is a simple game to learn yet presents an agonizing challenge to both players as they try to out-wit, out-bluff, and out-sneak one another. And it's so well put together - I can't imagine how much play-testing went into figuring out the placement of every space and character on the board, and the details of each character's special ability. Having said that though, the game is ever so slightly easier for the detective player than the Jack player, which means that I usually play two games at a time and switch sides with my opponent, the winner being the player who can last longer as Jack. [Edit: with experience, it becomes easier to win as the Jack player, and it appears to be a much more balanced game than first impressions reveal.] I don't give it a perfect 5 for enjoyment because it can become quite a brain-burner, frequently requiring a bit of waiting time while your opponent ponders all her/his options. And I also don't give it a perfect 5 due to the minor issues of the fact that the edition I obtained was printed with a couple of small errors, and the somewhat controversial "Jack the Ripper" theme. My infatuation with this game is evident by the number of posts, and responses to other posts, that I have written in this game's file. Have a read through my compiled FAQ (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/194998) in order to answer the many questions you will have after reading the rather imperfect rules.


Expansion: Mr. Jack: The Carriage

After 2 plays using the base game with this expansion, I'm not yet sure what to think about Mr. Jack: The Carriage. It certainly adds some interesting new elements, but my initial impression is that it slightly detracts from, rather than adding to, the game. This is due to 2 main reasons: it throws a bit of a chaotic wrench into the finely-tuned, elegantly balanced machinery of the base game, and it adds to the length of play since there are considerably more options to consider (our first play with Mr. Jack: The Carriage took 1.5 hours, the second, just over an hour - both of those games went to the 8th turn, at which point Jack was caught). And that inability to run away seems to be expected from the Jack perspective - sure the carriage gives Jack more mobility throughout the game, but in the end that increased mobility for both players prevents Jack from hiding out of range of the other characters in the final turn or two (which is how I've won as Jack a couple of times in the past). So I'll have to give it a few more plays to see if my initial rating changes at all. Perhaps it would be more interesting to use along with a couple of the Mr. Jack Extension characters, such as the jumpy guy and the barricade dude.


Expansion: Mr. Jack Extension

Not only do you receive 5 new and interesting characters, but you also add nearly infinite variability and replayability to an already superb game (for my thoughts on the Mr. Jack base game, you can read my comments under its game page). The initial couple of plays feel very chaotic as you get accustomed to these new characters and to the altered set-up, and the games can feel even more brain-burny than usual for the same reason. But as you continue to grow accustomed to how it all comes together, it will seem less chaotic yet remain no less a challenge.
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4. Board Game: Attack! [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:3347]
Josh
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Cambridge
Ontario
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 9.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Wife's rating: 5/10

When combined with the expansion, I rate this game a 9. However, on its own, it is an incomplete game. In particular, the "Control of the Sea" rules for naval dominance are highly unbalanced. If you have the expansion but don't want to dive into all the expansion rules right off the bat, do yourself a favour and play my "Extreme Makeover Attack! Edition": http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/310177. So if you are into this type of game, do get it, but definitely pick up the expansion too. Or better yet, wait for Attack! Deluxe Expansion to be released. [Edit: And now that it is released, I've bumped up the rating to 9.5.]


Expansion: Attack! Expansion

I love this game! It was the first game I purchased when I got back into board gaming back in 2003. It combines economics, military conquest, and politics in just the right mix to satisfy my inner power-hungry, blood-thirsty dictator. The art work is very stylized and visually appealing, and each player has 8 different plastic army, air force, and navy units to play with. However it is not completely flawless. It does not play well with two players, as it has the old snow-ball effect when someone starts to get ahead - it is best played with at least four. It is a time-consuming game, as indicated by the 3-6 hour playing time on the box, and player turns can become somewhat lengthy as well if they have not done enough planning in advance. And no human being should have to endure the physical discomfort of removing nearly a thousand plastic miniatures (includes both base game and expansion) from the sprues. Also, adding a few of the tweaks that have been suggested on this site, such as the action cards/threaded turns variant and making each resource attached to a specific territory with face-down counters, greatly improves game play. I have not played Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition (or any of the other A&A iterations) to be able to compare the two (as much as I would love to!), but if you have any desire to build an army and set out to fight a world war, I highly recommend this game.


Expansion: Attack! Deluxe Expansion

This represents the pinnacle of the "big, long, build up an army and conquer the world" genre of game. For a detailed description of my opinions, check out my very lengthy review: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/428434.
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5. Board Game: Quip It! [Average Rating:4.83 Overall Rank:10105]
Josh
Canada
Cambridge
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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I've actually combined 4 very similar games into the very large Wise and Otherwise box, made some very simple rules to knit them together, and entitled it "The Fantabulously High-larious 'Make Shtuff Up' Game". This "4 in 1" game consists of:


Quip It!

Rating: 9/10

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Wife's rating: 7/10

Finally, a game that gives me free reign to play in the creatively silly manner in which I always (improperly) play Beyond Balderdash (see my comments under that game). I know, giving a party game a rating of 9/10 (gasp!), and a DVD game at that (choke!) is probably not proper board game rating etiquette, but dang it all, I really enjoy this game! As long as you don't play with one of those people who are not naturally wired for this type of quick, creative writing (it's easy to figure out who they are - they're the ones who hate playing Balderdash), then you can avoid the problem of waiting ten minutes each round for that last person to submit their paper. Even though there is no real strategy involved, any game whose main purpose is to promote laughter and light-hearted discourse deserves top marks in my books!


Beyond Balderdash

Rating: 9/10

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Wife's rating: 8.5/10

This game, along with Quip It! and Why Did the Chicken...? are among my favourite party games because they allow me to try to be creative and funny. Something about me just loves the challenge of improvising funny lines on the spot. Mind you, I don't exactly play this game as it is meant to be played. Rather, I just attempt to write the funniest answers I can think of, and give my vote to what I think is the funniest of the other players' answers (although every so often it ends up being the correct one). Thus, this is one of those rare games which, for me, is not about winning and all about having a good laugh. My version of the game is called "Absolute Balderdash", but it seems to be identical to Beyond Balderdash. It takes the original game of Balderdash, which was all about inventing word definitions, keeps the definitions as one category, but also adds four more fun new categories: People (gives a name and asks what that person was famous for), Initials (gives some initials and asks what they stand for), Movies (gives an obscure movie title and asks you to write a brief plot summary), and Dates (gives a date and asks what significant event happened on that day). This adds a really nice variety to the game so that you don't get tired of simply trying to come up with definitions of weird words. Of course, the one thing that can really ruin this game is if at least one of the other players are not at all good at making stuff up on the spot and take forever to come up with an answer, all the while feeling completely stressed and making everyone else feel a little stressed too. And while the importance of keeping well-hydrated cannot be over-stressed, a long evening of playing this game while consuming several beverages can cause it to quickly turn into Bladderdash...


Why Did the Chicken...?

Rating: 8.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5
Game design: 4/5

Wife's rating: 6.5/10

This is a make-shtuff-up game, right along the lines of Beyond Balderdash and Quip It!, which are two of my favourite party games. My comments for those 2 games pretty much apply to this one - I love the improvisational creative writing which requires some wittiness, but for others it is a painful and tedious exercise. With the right group, this is very good, light-hearted fun and a lot of laughs. I'm all about the laughs!


Wise and Otherwise

Rating: 8/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 4/5

Wife's rating: N/A

After reading this in the rulebook... "In the extreme circumstance that a player is unable to come up with an ending, they should withdraw from play and stand on their head for the duration of that round in the hope that increased blood flow in the noggin will produce brain waves in accordance with the creative requirements of the game. The ideal playing environment for Wise and Otherwise is a living room or other area where players can take maximum advantage of seating and space for maximum creativity and comfort. Remaining vertical is optional. In the extraordinary event that a horizontal player falls asleep, they may continue to play as long as they are still able to create plausible endings." ...I knew this would be my type of game. Yes, it is another Beyond Balderdash clone, and yes, Why Did the Chicken...? is a better Beyond Balderdash clone, but someone went to quite a lot of work to collect a couple thousand proverbs, and the game is a little easier to play than the other 2 previously mentioned games for those who aren't as creatively inclined. But what I've gone and done is create a variant that combines all 4 of my witty writing games (Quip It! is the other) into one creative beast of a game. Good times!
 
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6. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:467]
Josh
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Cambridge
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 9/10

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Wife's rating: 5/10

Of all the games I own, this is one of the fastest to learn (under 2 minutes), yet it has a shocking depth of strategy. Despite the cutesy name and packaging, this is a game that can most definitely be enjoyed by adults as well as children (in fact, I think they should market an adult-oriented edition that includes a couple of well-chosen words between "My' and "Fish"). Once you realize that it is less about jumping on the 3-fish tiles than about trying to trap your opponent(s)'s penguins, then the game becomes almost Chess-like as you attempt to out-maneuver your opponents and react to their moves (my apologies to the venerable game of Chess for the comparison). I just keep wanting to come back to this game with all its simplicity, strategy, and fun. It has quickly become my favourite "filler" game, despite the much-yet-unnecessarily bitched about necessity of having to spend a minute or two laying out all those hexes for the set-up. So get over the name and the cartoon illustrations already, and give this one a try!
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7. Board Game: Fury of Dracula [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:250]
Josh
Canada
Cambridge
Ontario
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 9/10

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Wife's rating: 9.5/10

I'll tell you why Dracula is furious - BECAUSE MINA KEEPS KILLING HIM!! That, and the hunters keep finding me, I mean HIM, on THE FIRST GAME TURN, including one game where he was discovered even BEFORE he had even had a chance to make his FIRST MOVE. And yet I keep wanting to come back for more. Despite the rather excessive length of the game, my wife and I have found it makes for a very enjoyable evening (or two) of gaming. Our first game was decidedly one-sided as Dracula was discovered and defeated in a few short turns, but he learned a few things from that one and the second game was a four hour nail-biter which quite literally could not have been any closer (the very last die roll of the very last turn decided the winner, with Mina, of course, coming out on top). [Edit: Mina killed me yet AGAIN, and once again the game came down to the very last roll of the dice!] It might have been nice if the game was a little more stream-lined and quicker to play through (see the "excessive game length" comment above), but I imagine to do that would mean taking away some of its depth. So if you have the patience to sit through an hour of rules explanations for new players, ten minutes of set-up time, and two to four hours of playing time, you might just find it to be worth your while. (If not, then give Scotland Yard a try.) In my opinion, it does a great job combining the exciting cat-and-mouse elements of Scotland Yard with a rather unique combat system, to produce a game of hiding, seeking, running, chasing, booby-trapping (that sounds exciting!), collecting, and fighting that is fun for both sides.
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8. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:680]
Josh
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Cambridge
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 9/10

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Wife's rating: 7/10

Poker is such a versatile game due to the fact that all you need to play is a deck of cards and a bunch of chips (or, preferably, cash!), and due to the many variations that are available. Of course, the variation that is all the rage these days is "Texas Hold 'Em". And yes, I too have finally been bitten quite badly by the bug (discovering to my surprise that I'm actually very good and winning several hundred dollars over the past year or so at various tournaments has helped!), I have my Hold 'Em kit with carrying case, and I do admit to watching it much too frequently on TV these days. I just cannot believe the enormous popularity this game has enjoyed over the past couple of years, as much of a contributor as I have become. Sure it's a very simple and fun variation that can be played with a large group, but come on, it's just EVERYWHERE these days! What's everyone going to do with themselves when that fad fades away? And where will I turn for my extra source of income? Well, I suppose there are plenty of other variations to try once that one is played out.


Expansion: Liar's Dice

Rating: 7.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 3.5/5
Game design: 4/5

Wife's rating: 2/10

This is a very fun game to play that utilizes a set of poker dice and and some of the same BS-detections skills that are required in poker. It maintains the tension and bluffing aspects of a poker game, without having to worry about any betting, dealing of cards, or extremely long play time. Anybody who is familiar with the basic poker hands can have fun with this one.


Expansion: Euchre

Yes, it's an entirely different game, but since it utilizes (part of) the same deck of cards, I figured it would be silly to list it as a separate game in my "ownership" list.

Rating: 7.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 3.5/5
Game design: 4/5

Wife's rating: 7/10

This is my second-favourite game (next to Texas Hold 'Em) to play with just a deck of regular playing cards (or at least almost half a deck of cards - if I tried to play with a full deck, people would be wondering if I was playing with a full deck, if you know what I'm saying) and 3 other players. It has a lot of strategy, a fair bit of risk-taking, a little bit of bluffing, and a mysterious co-operative element in the partnership aspect. I don't know a thing about Bridge, but I seem to think that Euchre shares a few basic elements with it, and for some reason I keep wondering if I'm going to end up becoming a Bridge player when I'm old and grey. But that's not at all relevant to my review of Euchre.
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9. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:53]
Josh
Canada
Cambridge
Ontario
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 9/10

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Wife's rating: 9.5/10 (but only 7.5 with Railways of Europe)

Here we have yet another jaw-dropping contribution from Eagle Games. I must confess, I love those over-produced games. It's no wonder Eagle went out of business, but is this one ever a beautiful sight to behold! And more importantly, I finally own a train game that is a lot of fun to play (hopefully I can now avoid the mind-numbing tedium that is Ticket to Ride). They have managed to create an interesting game that has several fun elements without making it at all complicated to learn or play. It is beautiful and it is brilliant, and although I personally don't have any problems with the city colours, I can't give it a perfect score for game design due to that frustratingly warped, and rather poorly organized, board. This, and Conquest of the Empire, are the reasons that I caved in and finally purchased a large sheet of plexi-glass. And finally, I can't imagine ever playing another game without the vastly improved starting player auction variant that is described in the first reply to this thread... http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/289885/.


Expansion: Railways of Europe

A much more functional board, some new and interesting cards, and making the Major Lines up for grabs right from the beginning have fixed the minor problems that had come up in the original game, and added further balance, bringing a nearly perfect game even closer to perfection! It is certainly a MUCH better game for 2-3 players now.


Expansion: Railways of England and Wales

With Railways of the World being one of my wife and my favourite games, and with my wife's family being from England and Wales, this was an instabuy for me as soon as I saw it. It takes all the goodness of Railways of Europe, puts it on a map of the UK, and adds another complete set of "advanced" rules. I imagine we'll try out those advanced rules at least once, but we enjoy our Railways of the World games so much that we don't necessarily need to change the way we play them. [Edit: I've learned dozens of games and taught them to others, however I understood hardly a word of the advanced rules. Between all the "bonds", "stocks", "dividends", etc., I think I would need to take a basic economics/business course in order to figure out what they were talking about. Plus, the components for the advanced game are uncharacteristically bad. The colours are awful, and almost every bit of script on them is illegible.] While I haven't compared the new map side by side with the Railways of Europe map, this one seems a little larger, although all the cities are very close together and require fairly small rail lines to connect them, for the most part. This leads to a fast-moving game and plenty of interaction with other players. With this edition, I feel like our Railways of the World series is complete, since we have Europe for 2-4 player games, England and Wales for 3-5 player games, and the original monster map for 4-6 player games, as well as the advanced rules with England and Wales.


Expansion: Railways of the Western U.S.

Mountainous! That's my first impression. It also leads to my only complaints, relating to a few of the physical elements of the map. Firstly, while the city colours, water hexes, and mountain hexes are all nice and clear, the ridges between the mountains are a thinner and much harder to see line. I can't comprehend why they would have changed this. Secondly, there is no scoring/income track around the board and I own an early edition of the base game that doesn't come with the separate track, so we had to lay out the original game's giant board on the floor to keep track of the scores/incomes. Thirdly, a large portion of the northeast corner of the map is full of useless hexes and wasted space. But those physical complaints aside, I do enjoy the new game elements of the city rotors and the fuel depots (the only reason I purchased this expansion!). They add a couple of fun new elements that allow players to customize their play experience slightly.


Expansion: Railways of the World: Event Deck

This is a great little expansion in that it adds a fun new element to the game without causing any drastic changes. I particularly like how the "current turn and next turn" system works, allowing players to generally plan in advance for next turn's event while throwing in the occasional surprise. What makes no sense to me are all the doubles and triples of the same event cards. What a waste. I've taken out the extras, leaving only 1 card of each type in the deck, and there are still enough cards that players won't get through the entire deck in a game. They should have just left out the duplicates and charged half the price for this mini expansion. However, they did redeem themselves a bit by including a few blank cards, allowing players to create their own event cards. I love it when companies do that! Anyhow, I'll give this expansion the same rating that I give the base game.
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10. Board Game: Merchants & Marauders [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:136]
Josh
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 9/10

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Hooray!!! I FINALLY have the pirate game I've been waiting for all these years - an open-ended, swashbuckling adventure with different routes to victory! And interestingly enough, you don't even need to ever become a pirate, remaining a wealthy merchant who is braving the dangerous seas (but what fun would that be? arrrh ). The game design is excellent and players get into the flow of the game quite quickly. It can feel like there are a lot of fiddly rules, but that's the trade-off for having a lot of options in the game. In fact, the openness of the design lends itself wonderfully to house rules, and I've even added a couple of new elements in the form of forts to attack and mobile merchants. Thankfully, the game is also as visually stunning as it is fun to play. All the components are top-notch, with the highlight definitely being the gorgeous ship sculpts (although those stinkin' sloops keep capsizing). Out of frustration with the lack of good pirate games I had begun to design my own, but with the release of this masterpiece, I thankfully do not have to put in all the effort of completing my own design!


Expansion: Merchants & Marauders: Seas of Glory
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11. Board Game: Bootleggers [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:821]
Josh
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 9/10

Personal enjoyment: 4.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

This game is all about running the hooch and ending up with the most dough, see? And what a brilliantly fun game it is! I love the setting/theme, I love the different mechanics that come together to make the game, I love the negotiation aspect, and I love the production value (ie. the figures and the trucks!). The game is easy to learn and each turn follows several very simple steps. There is a nice mix of luck and strategy that will likely appeal to newer and more experienced gamers alike, and there appears to be different strategies a player could pursue on their way to earning 100Gs. As with most Eagle games, the production value is simply over the top (although they didn't provide enough money - I recommend using poker chips, you'll need to print off paste-ups for the 2 "Double Influence" cards which were printed as "Single Influence" cards in the game, and the truck numbers are rather hard to see). But the brilliance of the game is how the physical components and game play elements draw you right into what is a wonderfully entertaining theme (no farm building here!). In fact, when I played this game for the first time with 3 other first-time players, it just flew by and we couldn't believe it was over already. If that isn't the sign of a great game, I don't know what is!


Expansion: Bootleggers: The Boardwalk
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12. Board Game: Quoridor [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:777]
Josh
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 9/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 5/5

Wife's rating: 5.5/10

As far as abstract strategy games go, it doesn't get much better than this, in my books. I tend to have a rather short attention span when it comes to these themeless brain exercises, but every once in a while a game such as Quoridor or Hive or Hey, That's My Fish! comes along with an extraordinarily simple rules set and a very short play time, and I fall in love. In fact, even though they look entirely different, the best comparison with this game that I can make is Hey, That's My Fish!. Both game scale well from 2-4 players (although Quoridor isn't specifically meant to be played with 3), both can be learned in less than 2 minutes and played in less than 20, and both are deliciously vicious in the blocking of opponents while trying to advance one's own cause. Quoridor, with it's very minimalist yet very classy design and wooden components, has the edge in terms of game design, but Hey, That's My Fish! still maintains a slight edge as far as my personal enjoyment goes. The only downside is that, when I play purely strategic games with my wife, she tends to win the first game and I tend to win every game after that, so she grows quickly tired of these games.
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13. Board Game: The Downfall of Pompeii [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:321]
Josh
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 4.5/5

I finally own this game! It's been on my radar for ages, at last I had the opportunity to play it, and I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed it! It takes 2 distinct phases, combines a few very interesting mechanics, and adds just the right amount of luck and strategy to create a very fun and slightly brain-burning little game (perhaps caused by all the lava). And speaking of lava, you get to throw your opponents' people into a volcano! (Other Euro-styled games ought to take note of this!) Besides the volcano, the game components are quite basic (although I've ordered 140 meeples to replace the people tokens), but you don't really notice the lack of production value because you are having so much fun! I've used a lot of exclamation marks in this mini review! That alone should indicate my enthusiasm with this game!
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14. Board Game: Nexus Ops [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:225]
Josh
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Cambridge
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Wife's rating: 8/10

For the longest time I avoided purchasing this game despite the rave reviews it received from the AT crowd. I would look at it every now and then, but each time would be turned off by the "cheesy space creatures" imagery (I tend to prefer that my games of conflict have some sort of historical feel). Eventually I found it cheap on eBay and finally caved in, and now I realize what everyone was raving about. Nexus Ops truly does take all the best elements of the classic "plastic wars" games and distills them down into a simple, intense free-for-all, with a modular board, variable unit powers, and elements of exploration thrown in to boot. And most games end up being fairly close. Even when you are down a bit, one turn can really turn the tide, as was evidenced by the two-player game in which I was down by 6 VPs and was about to lose, only to achieve 8 points in one turn and win the game! Of course, the fact that this sort or ridiculous swing is even possible is a bit of a negative point with this game. Now my next purchase will have to be a black light.
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15. Board Game: Akrotiri [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:1088]
Josh
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 4.5/5

My first impression after one play: I love this game!! There are some really neat things going on under the hood: a Tobago-style "treasure" (temple) hunt fueled by a pick-up-and-deliver economic system and based around the type of tile laying/exploration that seems to appeal to most of us gamer folk. The physical production is great (though the pleasingly hefty weight of the temples lead to some minor damage of the game's cardboard components before I even purchased it, due to the way in which it was packed) and I love that the boats actually carry the resource cubes. People who should avoid this one are those who are prone to analysis paralysis, and people who have a particularly hard time with spacial visualization. One final note to publishers: if you want people to spread positive word of mouth about your games, don't give them weird names that are hard to remember/spell!!
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16. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:234]
Josh
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 4.5/5

This game shocked me. I had actively avoided playing it on multiple previous occasions since I assumed it was another boring, Euro-style game with a theme as thin as Kate Moss on coke. Also, I had heard from a couple of people that Last Will would be a fairly average, nondescript game if the goal of the game had been to accumulate money or VPs (as with many other games) rather than trying to get rid of cash. None of this ended up being accurate. By the end of my first play I still didn't understand all the elements of the game (I'm not the sharpest spoon in the drawer), but I was severely impressed with how they all came together to make a truly interesting game. By the end of the second game, by which time I could spend less time trying to wrap my head around the rules and more time enjoying the atmosphere created by the theme and components, I was really quite blown away. If I was playing with a group of friends who weren't in a hurry, I would love to incorporate a rule where each player had to tell a mini story as they played their cards on their turn, since there's something quite funny about going on a theatre date with your horse. And that's the real beauty of Last Will: it exercises your brain with a lot of difficult decisions (even the turn order element is so well balance that it leads to an agonizing choice each turn), while telling quite a humorous story with a theme that is not only incredibly well incorporated for a Euro game, but is truly unique and fun amongst even thematic games (with very cute artwork to boot). Despite the fact that it's a medium-weight game with a bit of a learning curve (while I'm at a stage in life where mainly short, light games get played,), I've gone ahead and purchased it.


Expansion: Last Will: Messenger Promo Card


Expansion: Last Will: Getting Sacked
 
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17. Board Game: PitchCar [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:252]
Josh
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Cambridge
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Wife's rating: 7.5/10

I finally got me a dexterity game, and it's a good 'un! Not only that, but it's not nearly as expensive as a Crokinole board. And not since Cleopatra and the Society of Architects have I got so much physical game in such an extraordinarily small box. This game takes mere seconds to learn, but is pure fun. I'd like to give it top marks for the lovely, all-wood design, but I have to deduct a bit for the slight warpage of some of the track sections, which has the exceedingly frustrating effect of causing cars to fly off the track when they pass over the meeting points of those sections (and of course I HAD to put the start/finish line on the most warped piece), as well as for the tendency of the rails to pop off when they are hit with a hard shot. I've discovered that the former problem can be resolved if (a lot of) time is taken during set-up to shim the uneven sections (and it's well worth taking this time - otherwise no power shots!), and I now keep a deck of cards in my PitchCar box for this very purpose. The latter problem can be solved by gluing the rails in place, and I bought some epoxy for that purpose, but I'm hesitant about the amount of storage space the game will then occupy.


Expansion: PitchCar Extension

This expansion for PitchCar is well worth picking up despite making an expensive game even expensiver, as it adds a few fun new track sections which increase the challenge. Of course, the highlight is the ramp. AAAAAAIR TIME!!


Expansion: PitchCar Extension 2

Another fun little expansion for a fun not-so-little game that adds the enjoyable element of a loop that crosses over upon itself. You'd just better hope that you have a very large, very flat surface on which to set up the track with its expansions.
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18. Board Game: Jäger und Sammler [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2024]
Josh
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Hey, That's My Fish! is in my top 5 favourite board games of all time, so when I discovered Zombiegeddon, a game that has been clearly built upon the basic structure of Hey, That's My Fish!, I knew I had to give it a try. But then I saw how seriously fugly Zombiegeddon was and that, weirdly enough, AMIGO Spiel was releasing the exact same game (nearly) with a different theme and a completely different (and much easier on the eyes) look, I knew I'd have to spring the extra cash for Jäger und Sammler (German for "Hey! That's my Mammoth"). And I'm glad I did, because it is certainly a gorgeously produced game. As for the game play, it reminds me of a cross between Hey, That's My Fish! and another Knizia title, Through the Desert. It's easy, fun, requires agonizing decisions and, especially since we stole a rule from Zombiegeddon and turned the path tiles into inaccessible rocks, is fairly vicious. So how does it stack up against Hey, That's My Fish!? Well, it's clearly a somewhat deeper game, what with all the methods of obtaining points, the larger board, and the "2 season" method of play. It is most certainly a great game and, despite its additional layers of strategy, is still so easy a caveman could play it. Yet despite all this, I have to give the edge to Hey, That's My Fish! for its fast, furious, and fun game play, which Jäger und Sammler sacrifices for a bit more "thinkiness".
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19. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:324]
Josh
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8.5/10

Personal enjoyment: 3.5/5
Game design: 5/5

Wife's rating: 4/10

What can I say about a game that has been around for over 500 years, yet remains one of the most popular games in the world? On the surface it is lovely in its simple beauty, yet below the surface it has a seemingly endless depth. The fact that it is a game of no luck and all strategy is both its blessing and its curse, as far as I'm concerned. I love the mental exercise of developing plans of attack and countering opponents' strategies, but I also feel like my intellect has suffered if I lose the game. My main problems with this game are that I never seem to know what the good opening moves should be, if I get down a piece it becomes very difficult to come back, and I tend to bore my opponents by taking WAY too long to do each of my moves. Yes, this (along with Scrabble, and perhaps Dungeon Twister and Mr. Jack) is my Analysis Paralysis game, which is why I generally stick to playing online. But that little issue is quickly solved by playing a game of five-second chess (your opponent counts out five seconds, and if you have not made your move by then, it becomes their turn again - very chaotic and confusing, but a good exercise in thinking fast after playing a regular game of careful analysis). Of course, this is also a game where you need to have an opponent who is roughly the same skill level as yourself in order to make it a fun game for both. Now if only I could find a really nice Hundred Years War chess set for a reasonable price...
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20. Board Game: Lost Valley: The Yukon Goldrush 1896 [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:1939]
Josh
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 4/5

It's Carcassonne, but fun! Okay, that statement is both overly simplified and overly unfair to poor Carc, but that was my initial impression! I picked up this one for my wife because she enjoys games that involve exploration and collecting things, but I was surprised by how much I've enjoyed it too! A few of the concepts seem rather confusing initially, but once a player is familiar with all the little details, turns flow quite smoothly and there is minimal downtime. I think the coolest feature of the game is how open-ended it is - you just get out there and do what you think is going to get you the most gold (and my customized starting inventory variant... http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/431412 ...adds even more open-endedness to the game). The artwork is all hand-painted which is pretty neat, although many of the images are simply too small to be able to tell at a glance what you're looking at (which makes Keythedral still more appealing from the unique artistic standpoint). I think this game would not play as well with 3, but with 4 players or 2 players controlling 2 prospectors each (one on each side of the river, unless a boat is purchased), the game plays out very well. Lost Valley was a delightful surprise!
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21. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:59]
Josh
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 4/5

Perhaps more than any other game I've read about on this site, Chaos in the Old World has received almost universally effusive word-of-mouth praise. And that's why I bought it. And I'm glad I did! For a game that combines many different mechanisms (area control, conquest, card play, resource management, special player powers, etc.), it is relatively simple to learn and plays quite quickly. As for the "chaos", the game is a little chaotic, but not to the point where players feel like they are not in control of what is happening. And as for the "old world", I have absolutely no previous experience with the world of Warhammer, and normally my personal preference leans toward fun and light themes rather than darker ones, but let's be honest, there's something quite gratifying about playing an evil god who is trying its best to corrupt the world! And all those plastic critters are fantastic!! If I had hours and hours of spare time, I'd definitely paint all of them. So what are the negatives? Well, in my limited experience so far, it seems that players must spend too much time preventing the Korne player from obtaining dial advancement tokens, which takes away from pursuing their own strategies. And the end game tends to come rather suddenly, leaving a slightly anticlimactic feeling. Oh, and there's the fact that you really need to play with exactly 4 players. But overall, this is a fantastic game which successfully bridges the gap between Ameritrash and Euro-style games.


Expansion: Chaos in the Old World: The Horned Rat Expansion

Can't wait to play with the horny rats!!
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22. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:262]
Josh
Canada
Cambridge
Ontario
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8/10

Personal enjoyment: 4/5
Game design: 4/5

Well, it turns out the small but rather rabid fan-base that this game has attracted are quite correct - this is truly an excellent little card game! It's easy to learn, great fun to play, and makes you want to play several times in a row. What I didn't expect was just how much this game would make me laugh. For some reason I found some of the outrageous bids and unexpected turns of fortune to be quite hilarious! The artwork on the cards themselves is unfortunately very visually unappealing (in my subjective opinion), but what can you expect from a self-published game that comes in a VHS case (now THAT is a brilliant idea)? Also, I don't expect 2-player games would be nearly as interesting, so the number of players is pretty much limited to 3 or 4. It's too bad this game isn't more readily available, because it is one that potentially holds a huge amount of appeal for hardcore gamers and non-gamers alike. Yes, it turns out I can indeed love a strictly card game.
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23. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:144]
Josh
Canada
Cambridge
Ontario
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8/10

Personal enjoyment: 3.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

Wife's rating: 5.5/10

Whether it's fair or not, I'm going to compare this game to Hey, That's My Fish! (henceforth referred to as HtmF), because my main reason for picking up Hive was the truly shocking degree of fun I've had with HtmF. And while I was impressed with the game of Hive over-all, it didn't quite hit the same sweet spot as HtmF (and it's not just because I have an extreme aversion to insects in general!). That's not to say it isn't a fun game and doesn't have a lot going for it (such as it's portability and indestructability), because it is and it does. In fact, one thing that I loved about it was the fact that my wife (who is generally less strategically-minded than myself) cleaned my clock the first few times we played this. I do love a challenge, and I also love a simple, strategic, lovely-looking game, which is exactly what Hive is. And best of all, you can play this game on a table at a pub without worrying about the slimy, spilled beer stickiness ruining the components.


Expansion: Hive: The Mosquito

Disclaimer: In no way do I endorse mosquitoes, or blood-sucking activity of any kind. In fact, I normally have an intense loathing for the little buggers, mainly because they love me so much (my theory as to why they seem to prefer me over other people has something to do with the same reason that, when I go out for an evening, I prefer drinks containing alcohol over non-alcoholic drinks - I reckon a mosquito is likely to get a better "buzz" off my blood). Having said all that, however, this is one mosquito (or two, rather) that I am glad to have. The mosquito adds an interesting new element to the game of Hive, but it is a very small element that alters the base game very little. It's somewhat over-priced for only 2 new pieces and the game is just as good without it, but for those "completeists" out there, you won't go wrong with this "sucker".


Expansion: Hive: The Ladybug


Expansion: Hive: The Pillbug
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24. Board Game: Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:908]
Josh
Canada
Cambridge
Ontario
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8/10

Personal enjoyment: 3.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

I don't know who this Mr. Rhodan fellow is, but this is a great little game! It's portable, easy to learn, plays quickly, and has just the right mix of luck and strategy for a light, quick-playing game. And who doesn't love that good ol' "pick up and deliver" mechanism? It also appears to be quite well balanced, since in our first game I was poised to win but rolled poorly, which left the door open for my wife to win the game by a single point/Megagalex. The components are mostly decent, although the sun/scoring track is poorly done and I've taken the time to create a new sun/reference card and a scoring card, both of which are available in the files section. This is a perfect game for a gaming couple with an 11-month old in the house (ie. my wife and I). EDIT: I've increased the rating after further plays have revealed just what a tight, clever, and downright FUN design this is!
 
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25. Board Game: Pyramid [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:928]
Josh
Canada
Cambridge
Ontario
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“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” -Bukowski
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Rating: 8/10

Personal enjoyment: 3.5/5
Game design: 4.5/5

So few rules, so easy to learn, so few physical components, yet what a completely unique and fun game! It's brilliant, in the way in which it utilizes the box and the magnets to create the playing surface! It's a super-fun filler, and one which I wouldn't hesitate to bring out with non-gamers. They way they did the "all vs. one" mechanic is really cool too, and it scales well with 2-4 players (although it's most fun with more than 2). If Fury of Dracula was the bigger, fatter, yet tattooed and unquestionably cooler brother of Scotland Yard, Pyramid is Scotland Yard's pretty, peppy little sister. She's a fun one to spend a bit of time with!
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