Interesting Games from Small Publishers and Less Prolific Designers
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Hobby gamers are a fickle bunch and are always eager to try out the latest release. To stay viable, prolific designers and larger publishers maintain a catalog of games to support their brand and livelihood. Each year the major publishers release a new crop of games at major conventions like Essen, Origins, Nuremberg, and GenCon.

Although there are some notable exceptions, I believe that this business practice breeds a degree of mediocrity. Rather than take risks and blaze trails by releasing unique products, publishers and designers often rehash ideas, mechanisms, and themes of previously successful games. After a breakout hit, we’re bound to see a number of similar games or expansions hit the market shortly thereafter.

Fortunately, small publishers and less prolific designers provide an alternative. Since they’re not constrained by the same business model, they're more likely to take risks, innovate, and/or provide lavish production values. In recent years, a number of unknown designers and publishers have been responsible for some of the most interesting, original games.

Please add games created by small publishers and less-prolific designers that interest you or that you enjoy. Perhaps this list will help their games gain greater exposure and recognition.
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1. Board Game: Timber Tom [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:2327]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Marco Bing
Publisher: PYXI

Timber Tom is a lavishly-produced route planning game for families or causual gamers. Players race to reach mountain peaks on a stunning three dimensional board. Although a few copies remain in Europe, the first edition recently sold out in the US. The designer is taking orders for the second edition now.

Comments:

"What a gorgeous game! Looks even better in person than in the photos. Excellent component and production quality. The board has no folds. The pieces fit well and the graphics are easy to interpret. Play balance is tight, although there are periods in the game when the leader cannot be clearly identified. Often comes down to the last turn's race for camp. Holds everyone's interest and the strategies are quite variable. This one's going to get a LOT of play."

"I love this game! At first it seems like a simple walk in the park (get it?), but them it gets mean! Trees start to pop up full grown in your path, and after a while you have to run back to a cabin to get axes to cut them down to clear a path...then a helicopter flies overhead with the grinning face of your opponent leering down as he flies toward another mountain. Great Fun! Give it try before the limited run sells out!"

"Played once three player (two mountains). Incredibly beautiful and well-made game. The designer provides great customer support (answering questions quickly and being proactive about contacting new owners). The game itself is an interesting tactical game of trying to maximize one's moves to get an advantage over the other players so you can retrieve treasures and return to the base camp first. Of course, if you do get an advantage, all the other players start trying to block you with trees. There are definitely some ways to slow somebody down, but there really was no way to really hamper somebody significantly, if they had enough resources. I think there is more to the game than I figured out after one playing. There are a few strategies (use resources fast and re-stock at base camp, plod along or somewhere in between) to try and it seems like they are pretty equal and it will come down to a close finish. Definitely interested in trying out the Rogue Bear expansion to see if that adds another element to the game..."
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2. Board Game: Paleo [Average Rating:6.77 Unranked]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Pascal Reymond
Publisher: Squale Games

Pascal Reymond's made some waves in 2007. His first release, Dart Wars, was likened to Risk with darts. In 2008, Pascal followed Dart Wars with another dexterity game release. Paleo is relative of pichenotte, crokinole, and carrom. During the game, players flick disks representing different ships around an archipelago in an attempt to uncover the hidden city.

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3. Board Game: Lectio [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1527]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: (uncredited)
Publisher: Dagoy

Lexio is a clacktastic climbing game based and is virtually the same game as Big Two. If you enjoy Tichu or The Great Dalmuti, you may enjoy Lexio. Additionally, instead of cards, the game is made of high-quality bakelike tiles that won't ever wear out (but could be hard to bridge shuffle).

Comments:

"Goes down very well with audiences that feel at least comfortable with typical card games (i.e. non-game-enthusiasts.) The black edition is as gorgeous as people made it out to be, which helps Lexio win over new players! It hits a real sweet spot for me: trick-taking/ladder-climbing with enough twists to be interesting, yet accessible. With just the right blend of unique elements and rule complexity, Lexio confronts the players with nerve-wracking choices."

"Light, fun, engaging "card" game with wonderful bakelite tiles - the use of tiles instead of cards adds a wonderful tactile sensation to the game, and somehow makes it a different experience than playing with just cards. I like the payment dynamic of paying out points to players who have fewer tiles left in their hand at the end of a round. I also like the very specific 5 turn limit - it can change your decision making based on your position. The sequence and rating of suits and eligible hands takes a bit of time to get used to... "

"Mostly Mah Jongg (tiles and sets) but much simpler and faster, and also part Tichu (climbing), part Hearts (sloughing cards, controlling tricks, and going out), part Rummy (making sets), maybe even a little Poker if you throw in the chips and depending on how you play. The tiles are fantastic, the rules are simple, and the play is quick. This is a wonderful game that is accessible to casual gamers. Would be fun to try with teams."
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4. Board Game: Peeper [Average Rating:5.84 Unranked]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: (uncredited)
Publisher: Joen

Peeper has been described as a simpler, family-friendly version of Lexio or Tichu. Like Lexio, Peeper has hefty, clacktastic bakelite plastic tiles. Unlike Lexio, the tiles are safety orange, "swoopy," and the numbers are printed and represented with Braille.

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5. Board Game: The Climbers [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1144]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Holger Lanz
Publisher: Chili Spiele

Die Aufsteiger is a gorgeous climbing game composed of 35 colored wooden blocks produced by Chili Spiele. Players compete to be king of the hill when the game ends.

Chili Spiele was created by Klauz Zoch to focus on ambitious projects that other publishers wouldn't touch. Their games are unique and top-notch quality. To remain solvent, they've cut out the middle man and sell directly to the customer via their website.

Comments:

"It sounds simple enough: each turn you can move your pawn, move a block and move your pawn again - as long as you end your turn higher than when you started. Of course, once you start playing you discover that although other players could help you, they're usually more interested in clawing their own way up to the top. Lovely, tactile, blocks."

"The heaviest of the Chili games, so far. The thing is pretty much a brick, a shoebox filled to the brim with wood. This sucker is HEAVY!!! This is also probably the best of the Chili games, so far. It takes all the good bits of stacking games and chucks out the bad bits. The whole king of the hill aspect felt a little silly until I actually started playing and seeing how things were turning out. The organic flow of the tower really made this game exciting throughout play."

"Cool, chunky bits and a good game to boot! Die Aufsteiger is a very spatial game as you try to envision what blocks you will want to place where in order to allow your dude to climb to the top. The game is pretty free-flowing and open-ended; a little less structured than what you'd expect but still works just fine. I really enjoyed the ladders which allow for some surprise moves. Players that appear isolated can creatively use the ladders to get somewhere that it would otherwise be pretty tough to get to. Overall, a great little game that will work well with the game group but also be a hit with family and friends."
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6. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:257]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Steve Finn
Publisher: Doctor Finn's Card Company

In 2008, Dr. Finn’s Card Company opened its doors and released three titles: Charioteer, Scripts and Scribes, and Slush Fund. Dr. Finn's is a one-man show and all of the games are designed and manufactured by Steve Finn. Steve personally manufactures the games in small batches of 50-100 games at a time.

Unfortunately, fans of these games will be saddened to learn that Dr. Finn’s Card Company is currently closed! The website doesn’t give much detail; hopefully Dr. Finn will be able to continue sometime in the future.

Comments:

"This is one of the best games I have ever played. Very rarely does a game impress me enough to get multiple plays right out of the box, but we played this 5 times the first day. Unbelievably good game and really high quality for a self-published affair."

"Wonderful artwork. Quality bits (cards, scoring board, and dice). Very nice pacing. I highly recommend this game. The pacing is a bit reminiscent of For Sale. There's 2 halves of the game -- part one: you collect cards (but also have to give a card to each other player), part two: a stack of cards get auctioned off, paid for by the cards you got in the first round. Simple to learn, clear rules, painful decisions. Everything a game should be... "

"Fantastic game that keeps getting deeper the more I play it. There are multiple paths to victory (do you collect gold so you can clean up in the auctions, or do you collect resources/workers in order to take the lead in the categories?), and a secrecy aspect where you try to conceal what you're pursuing so your opponents don't bork its value. Do you take a bishop so you can make the scoring more favorable to you? Because if you do, that's one less other card you get to take. Lots of tough decisions. This could become a 10 eventually."
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7. Board Game: Taktika [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:2482]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Ian Cooper
Publisher: Sky Castle Games

Ian Cooper is a part of a Game Design Group in Austin, Texas called Flywheel. Ian's first published game, Taktika, is a tactical tabletop flicking game that has been described as battle Crokinole. I think that this description is apt. Expansions that will provide different unit types and combat options are planned.

Comments:

"Absolutely lovely and addicting game. Great package, good instructions, very portable take anywhere game. I recommend this wonderful little game to anyone wanting a portable, relatively inexpensive dexterity game whose looking for a nice amount of tactics on top. Just played it today, only once, and it shot up to my top 3 must have games."

"A very good independent production. The various ways to move and attack elevate this above a simple dexterity game. Fast playing and fun."

"It's a tactical flicking game. Pieces are infantry, archers or cavalry, and all start off the play area. On your turn you either move (including bringing a piece into play) or attack. Each piece moves/attacks in its own way. The first player to ge 6 kills wins.The game plays pretty quickly and is an interesting take on the flicking genre. There are definitely some tactical choices to make. It kind of reminds me of that poker chip-tossing game, but simpler and more fun. There will also be expansion pieces like that other game, with their own powers. The base game also includes a few other pieces for more advanced play."
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8. Board Game: Viktory II [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1784]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Peter Morrison
Publisher: Morrison Games

Viktory II is a good next step after Risk. It is a light wargame featuring simple rules that encourage an aggressive style of play that avoids inaction and turtling. The designer, Peter Morrison, does a wonderful job detailing the design process on his website; it is worth reading.

Comments:

"The perfect balance of simplicity, speed, and strategic depth. Though outstanding as written, the rules are easily tweaked to give you exactly the wargaming experience you are looking for. Hard for me to get motivated to play the longer wargames in my collection when I can scratch the same itch with this little gem, and get in several games during the same amount of time. Brilliant!"

"Relatively light, but still offering a suprising depth of play, Viktory II is my Go-To multiplayer wargame. The completely modular resizeable board is genius, the battle rules rewarding combined-arms are inspired, and the strategic modeling of troop replenishment rewards aggression and punishes turtling. Although I rate another Multiplayer wargame (Starcraft) a 10, this is a little easier for the Riskophile to grasp, and more likely to lure him in."

"Best in its genre, fantastic."
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9. Board Game: Ultimate [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:5863]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Angelo Porazzi
Publisher: Angelo Porazzi Games

Angelo Porazzi has created a boardgame that simulates one of my favorite sports: Ultimate Frisbee! Early reviewers have compared the game to StreetSoccer and state that the game does an excellent job of simulating the tactics of the sport. This is encouraging news.

Comments:

"Very fun game that plays quickly and thereby emulates Ultimate Frisbee well. I learned the game by playing with designer Angelo Porazzi at his home in Milano, which was a blast. I'd recommend this game to anyone who's into Ultimate Frisbee or who enjoys sports games that have strategy or movement principles found in soccer or American football. Easy to teach and learn and fun for most ages..."

"Who'd have thought the wargame model would be such a good template for the world's most pacifistic (and greatest) sport? Porazzi's design is true to the Spirit of the Game, and is an excellent sports sim. It's also yet another beautiful self-published game [sic] If you like hex-and-counter games: probably for you. If you like sports games: recommended. If you play ulti: STRONGLY recommended."

"Fun little game that feels a bit like StreetSoccer with more tactical options. Rules are straightforward, and the game plays quickly."
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10. Board Game: Axiom [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:2703]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Michael Seal
Publisher: Lumicube

Until the recent reprinting, Axiom was an obscure collector's item that wasn't widely available. In 2008, the game was given a facelift, received an updated look, and was rerelesed at Essen. A new set of fans might find the game interesting. The simple objective (to capture an opponent's pawn) is complicated by a shifting, rotating, 3D board.

Comments:

"While not my favorite abstract, Axiom is my favorite HARD abstract. It's an excellent game, but not something I'd pull out with just anyone. Still, this scratches the itch when my brain is screaming "HURT ME, HURT ME!"

"Really cool. An interesting and unique abstract game. Truly 3-D, not just a board with different elevations. A real thinker. Plus it’s fairly compact, transportable and doesn’t take a whole lot of room to play."

"Excellent abstract game with a unique 3d aspect that I enjoy. Top quality components. Relatively simple rules that are sometimes hard to initially grasp, but has a surprising amount of depth. Some games end within a few moves while others have gone to a draw but it is fun to try different movements not fully appreciating the ramifications of them until it may be too late. AP could be a problem for some."
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11. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:91]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Carl Chudyk
Publisher: Cambridge Games Factory

Glory to Rome is a game that many have compared to San Juan or Race for the Galaxy. I think that some potential buyers were scared off by the cartonish artwork and the lesser-known publisher. As its fans can attest, that is a shame. The game is worth trying especially if you wish that Race or San Jaun were a bit more open-ended or had more interaction.

Comments:

"Glory to Rome, how I love thee! My favorite game, and my only "10". It works as well for two players as for three or four, which is just amazing. Everyone must play this game. When I become world-dictator, that shall be my first decree: every citizen of planet earth must purchase a copy of Glory to Rome."

"Card-based city building and resource management game with cartoon artwork set in ancient Rome, but with strong strategic/tactical elements. The cheap packaging and artwork and little known publisher probably keep it from being the big it that it deserves to be. Comparable to San Juan and Puerto Rico, along with some MtG elements. I'm very impressed after about a dozen or more plays - takes a bit to get your head around gameplay if you're figuring out from the rules, but much easier to learn if explained firsthand. Some mechanics and ideas are somewhat reminiscent of Puerto Rico, but this has additional aspects that I found more appealing on first play. Play time is about 30 minutes a player. Really, really enjoying this!"

"Art work quirky, fun and enlightening. Game play is excellent: smooth, interaction, plopping opportunities. Similar to San Juan in that the cards are used in many ways but with GTR there is more to get the brain cells going. Love it."
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12. Board Game: The Battle for Hill 218 [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1051]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Darwin Kastle
Publisher: Your Move Games

Given the state of the world economy, we're all trying to stretch our gaming dollar a bit. For $7.50, you can't really go wrong with this game.

Comments:

"Very addicting light game that takes seconds to learn, minutes to play but with a hidden complexity that will take many many games to truly master. Highly recommended. The re-playability of this game is amazing."

"A very quick two-player card game, with pretty nifty cards. Surprisingly strategic, considering how quick, and easy to explain it is. Pretty much the best value for money and box size since Kutschfahrt. Gets better the more you play it."

"This game is a fantastic value and takes up no space--it is an awesome buy. A great abstract military themed filler paced game. It's got real strategy, neat card interactions, and is very easy to learn. A fantastic lunch time game as it plays at a great pace. I am most pleased with it. I always have it in the car and I can't say that about many games (It's extremely portable, and the cards are very thick). This, and Hive, are great games for playing at a pub."
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13. Board Game: Galactic Emperor [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1095]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Adam West
Publisher: CrossCut Games

For better or worse, gamers were apt to make comparisons between the self-published game and Twilight Imperium III. In the end, I think that Galactic Emperor did an admirable job of filling a need. There is a market for streamlined Ameritrash games.

Comments:

"Mix Citadels with Twilight Imperium and you get a better game than both of them. It is simple, it has nice components (dreadnoughts are impressive), it is well balanced (I was surprised with this since there 7 roles and plenty of different strategies). It is a great game that will please gamers looking for something along the lines of Twilight Imperium that ends in 2 hours. [sic] There is a lot of tension up to the end."

"TI3 with less calories . . . If I had never played TI3, then GE would be the best space empire game out there. It has a lot to offer: (1) has all the basic elements of TI3, plus some new nuances like the supernova which bans the scientists, surprise attacks/no retreats from the remnant black hole, explorer role turning to warlord, etc.; (2) IMHO feels like a better adaptation of Puerto Rico's role system and economics than TI3; (3) unique use of dice to establish the Market (that feels a bit like Kingsburg); and (3) plays relatively fast for the conqueroring of an entire galaxy, nay the universe. The downside (which has been expressed by more than just me) rests primarily in the last point--it plays relatively fast, maybe too fast."

"...it has worked well with my hard core gamer friends and a more casual group with my wife and another couple. I like that you can play an epic scale game quickly and that it is relatively easy to teach. Once you play a couple of turns, it clicks and everyone gets the hang of it. My TI3 lite game of choice for the moment."
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14. Board Game: Chopstick Dexterity MegaChallenge 3000 [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:2694]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Greg Lam
Publisher: Pair-of-Dice Games

This game devolves into a zany (and sometimes ruthless) battle wherein chopstick-wielding combatants attempt to pick up small wooden discs without contracting injury. Don't let the description fool you; this game is a riot!

Comments:

"Laughter Chaos Madness Silliness Quick Intense = Best Dexterity Game Evar. Now I have a whole new reason to eat Sushi more often."

"Oh good grief, I haven't laughed so much in any game before this one. The most fun game in terms of sheer laughter I've ever played, I've laughed literally to exhaustion from playing this! A dexterity game for those who enjoy laughing like hell during game."

"Players make frenetic use and abuse of chopsticks to acquire matching shapes and/or colors from a central bowl; however, dirty play is wholly encouraged! In all my years of using chopsticks, playing this game is the first time my hand cramped from using chopsticks. Madness!"

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15. Board Game: Conquest of the Fallen Lands [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:1342]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Andrei Burago
Publisher: Assa Games

Conquest of the Fallen Lands is a mishmash of different mechanisms that provides a satisfying result. It has a bit of exploration, modularity, area control, a fantasy/military theme, and a bit of chance. Fortunately, I find many of those things appealing.

Comments:

"This is an excellent game that I have been playing again and again discovering new strategies and adjusting to the strategies of different partners. This is a game that keeps you awake at night with new ideas that keep popping in your mind. At first it might look like the game is easy, and you know how to play it, but wait until you play a few more games with different opponents to discover there is so much room for improvement in your strategies. Every time you play it - the game is different, [sic] Lots of fun playing for both kids and adults."

"Great game, kids love it. Very lovingly packaged and assembled, the hand-made portion of manufacturing done with amazing quality and aesthetics (thanks, Andrei!) (The hand-made version is worth way over the $50 IMHO). A very high replay value. The random field and the random cards place a high demand on one's strategy adaptability. I have learned a lot and there is still so much more to learn about the game dynamics. The normal and advanced rulesets together make for a great package of actually two games in one (I was a bit sceptic about the normal ruleset as the test run only included the advanced rules; the advanced ruleset requires more depth in strategical thinking and more mathematical approach to the game, the normal is slightly quicker to play and allows younger participants to enter, so after all I do play both)."

"I very much enjoyed this. It's got a little bit of area control, a little bit of luck, a little bit of production and a little bit of strategy. Nothing too deep (although the "advanced game" could be a bit of a brain burner) and it plays quickly. Quite good."
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16. Board Game: Santorini [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:2208]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Gord!
Publisher: (Self-published)

This game is striking and the designer is a real class act. All proceeds from Santorini go towards The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens or to improve mathematics education in Brazil. Also, if you're one of the first 30 people to substanitvely comment and rate Gord's newest game, Calculus, you could be one of six people to win a free copy of Santorini!

Comments:

"Tasteful, extremely refined abstract game in which two players have got to move two pieces and lay tiles on neighbouring fields on the board, to finally set a piece on a field three tiles high before the rival tops it with a dome. Territorial control and an effective use of both pieces are key to win.

I just can't believe no publisher has released this gem yet -a board with just the right dimensions, a mere handful of rules (I haven't tried the powers yet... maybe afraid of disturbing the precarious beauty of the basic game) and lots of depth.

Add the whitewashed appeal of the wooden components and you get a treat for the mind and senses."

"One of the best abstract games. Very simple rules that lead to a very challenging game. The components are of nice quality but I wish the domes were painted light blue to resemble Santorini (like in the photos here about how some of the people have painted them). I wish all components were painted! Order your copy now."

"This is one of the first games I have run across that is truly an abstract, but it feels truly themed. The only thing that would give it more theme would be if the pieces that represented your men were Greek statues of some form and the tiles were double height with little windows carved in them to make them look a bit more Greek, but oddly enough it feels themed as it is. The game itself would rate about a 6, but then you introduce the God cards. That throws a huge twist as the God cards expose different powers that you play to utilize. A very solid and enjoyable game."
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17. Board Game: Affentennis [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:2432]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Jürgen Kohl
Publisher: Braunkohl Verlag

Affentennis does an excellnt job of simulating an actual tennis match. It also has monkeys. What more could you want?

Comments:

"Best two player tennis game, high dexterity skills required and surprising amount of strategy once both players develop their shots."

"Captures the feel of a tennis match perfectly!"

"Great dexterity/tactical game which really captures the flavour of playing tennis."
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18. Board Game: Wood Wars: Fantasy Miniatures Game [Average Rating:7.01 Unranked]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Tim Lowell
Publisher: Jim Corn Games

Wood Wars is an abstract miniature combat resolution system with a minor dexterity component. Although I've not played it, the simple aesthetic and flexibility of the system is really appealing. My inner child wants to play with blocks.

Comments:

"A fun miniatures game where strategy trumps the normal luck of the roll in standard minis games. The bits are fun and game play is very easy. I was not a fan of the included stickers and fantasy theme. Instead, I created an ancients/ medieval army chart and am working on army lists as well. We are also toying with using old Crossbows and Catapults disk launchers instead of the marble and tube archery scheme. Overall a very good game!"

"Very simplistic in nature.....but a really fn game with children (or adults that have to let their inner child out). Game is very easy to explain and play wth LIMITLESS options for scenarios and battles!!!"

"Great game. I would like to see this combined with a Taktika flicking aspect in some way. Flicking + terrain and pawns. I'm sure someone has already done it somewhere."
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19. Board Game: duck! duck! Go! [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:2835]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Kevin G. Nunn
Publisher: APE Games

Duck Duck Go is a quirky take on the simultaneous action selection mechanism and is similar in nature to Robo Rally. The games play our more quickly, and, you get to pick out your own set of rubber duckies! Do you want to be a ninja, pirate, werewolf, nurse, or cowboy duck? There are 100 to choose from.

Comments:

"A fun game similar to Roborally in basic concept. I found this more enjoyable however due to the sheer silliness of having rubber ducks. The random elements mean that its not easy to plot your moves and thats the point. It is meant to be fun just not competative fun. It looks like a kids game but all my fellow adult gamers fell in love with it after just a few turns of the game and looks to be a regular at our meet ups for the foreseeable future. It is the sort of game that can be pulled out almost anywhere (space permitting) and everyone will have fun with it."

"Fun light strategic racing game. Think kids and adults with a playful streak will enjoy this. The more players the better. It also has a very fun theme."

"Rubber duckie...you're the one....."
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20. Board Game: Cornerstone [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:2442]
United States
Lexington
Kentucky
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Designer: Matt Mette
Publisher: Good Company Games

Cornerstone is a self-published take on a dextrous stacking game where players compete head-to-head or work in teams to summit the towers they've built. The game seems like a clever mix of tactical piece placement, blocking, and dexterity.

Comments:

"Takes Jenga to the next level adding a level of strategy to the game. [sic] for a small indie publisher it's a really well done game. The value you get for this game is quite high. If you like a little strategy with your dexterity games this is the one for you."

"Overall, not a bad experience--lots of laughing and tense moments. An intriguing mix of strategy and dexterity. I think I was a little put off by the fact that some of the pieces in my bag were slightly uneven"

From Dbucak's review: "Most dexterity games have only limited strategic options. You're generally balancing risk vs your own ability, or how much you can hurt your opponents while not knocking over the whole structure yourself. This game however, involves quite a bit of thought. The game play comes off as a nice combination of Rumis and Bausac. You can use your block placement to cut off your opponents and your meeple placement to block both your opponent's meeple and their block placement. Making clever use of your opponent's blocks is the key to victory. You don't want to do all the work yourself. Not leaving such opportunities for the person moving after you is also key. It's possible to gain quite a lot with smart play."
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21. Board Game: Dead End [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:8578]
Dan Cain
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Designers: Ángel Paredes
Manuel J. Sueiro

Publisher: Nosolorol Ediciones


Dead End is game of survival after the Zombie Apocalypse. Published only in Spain, it took me a long time to get my hands on this one, but once I played it I realized that it was wel worth the wait. The game mechanics are quite abstract, but for the life of me I can't figure out why they are so interwoven with the theme (and being an AT'er that is something that is quite important to me). The game is very thematic, and various card combinations make complete sense in terms of the theme (Pregnant Survivor's strength is reduced when going against a zombie baby, etc.). The game also plays quite quickly, and has an option to play as a zombie for players who lose all of their survivors during play.

Comments:

"This is quite possibly the best zombie game that has been made to date. The game is very thematic, and is pretty well balanced. The artwork is okay, but the words and symbols could have been made larger for ease of play. I wonder about the 5 player game though, and it seems extremely difficult to get away from the town, and it becomes a race for points." (yeah, I know, it's my comment, but most of the comments are in Spanish )

"Simple rules, except for some sporadic and very particular cases where common sense reigns and are easily solved. I see it being very replayable. It gets quite tense at certain moments and I believe that with 3, and surely with 4, it would be even more so. I am not sure how it would be with 5. It has enough replayability that it does not stay the same game. Made in Spain & Interesting." (Translated using Babel Fish, and some clean up on my part)
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22. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:193]
Mark Christopher
United States
Salem
Massachusetts
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In the wonderful game, Bonaparte at Marengo, this is how to get nasty Frenchies out of a village.
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Designer: Bowen Simmons
Publisher: Simmons Games

Can't have a list like this without one of the recent Bowen Simmons games being mentioned. Fantastic production values and a blend of mechanics that lead to almost unique gameplay lead to a game that's a work of art in just about every respect.

Comments:

"NT is a big game that plays quickly and is highly entertaining. Both sides face difficult choices, and both will have the opportunity to go on the offensive. When you make your move, though, you need to finish it, because falling short can leave you open to devastating counter attacks. NT is a tremendous challenge to play well, and will remain as a personal favorite for me for the foreseeable future."

"Highest possible rating after couple of full games and I have a feeling that it will stay for a long time. This game is really impressive, it's elegant, challenging, dynamic, atmospheric, unique and just extremely stimulating experience to play. Just wow."

"This one gave me one hard time to get into. The rules are the opposite of intuitive and it took me hours and hours and hours to get them working. But now: Unbelievable! What is hidden behind this obstacle is simply the best conflict type game I played so far. It feels right, it looks right, just perfect!"
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23. Board Game: Battlefields of Olympus [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:4842]
Rob Bartel
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Some absolutely gorgeous art in this first effort by Peter Grant and his company Smartass Games. I'm looking forward to seeing more from them in the future.

Comments:

"Really enjoying this. Easy to learn and with just the right amount of strategic depth to keep a light card game interesting. (Of a similar level to Blue Moon perhaps, but in my opinion Battlefields of Olympus has much better artwork and I prefer its normal sized cards)."

"I really love the artwork. The game is quick and fun. I've introduced it to many of my friends and they all seem to enjoy it."

"A battle for the ages.......and then some."
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24. Board Game: Cannonball Colony [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:4028]
Ian Madsen
United States
Bountiful
Utah
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Lies, I'm totally a Cylon!
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Looks like it could be a fun little half-abstract game. It's one I'm interested in.
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25. Board Game: The HellGame [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:2734]
Tomas Syrovatka
Czech Republic
Beroun
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Great atmospheric strategy game. Feels like a combination of Jyhad and Titan. It's fun, long and has a beautiful artwork.
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