New to you June 2011 => Best new boardgame
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What new board and card games did you play in June 2011? Please share your experiences of the games you played for the first time this month.

In order to assist with collecting Statistics from these lists, please post an entry with your chosen game of the month, and if possible please use the "insert board game" feature to add other games you mention in your entry.


New To You Metalist 2011
New To You MetaMetalist
New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread

Other Great Monthly Lists
Your Most Played Game (and more): June 2011
New to Your Kids June 2011 - Best New Games you've played with your children and why.
New To You June 2011 => Your best new Videogame
Your best gaming experience of the month and why June 11
New to you a year ago Jun 11 => Has it stood the test of time?
Games only YOU have played in June 2011
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51. Board Game: Airlines Europe [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:209]
Kenny VenOsdel
United States
Saint Paul
Minnesota
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I got this towards the end of May but had my first plays in June. Excellent game by designer Alan R Moon (TTR). I went back and forth for a bit because I really wanted another Moon game but didn't just want more games. I had already purchased Clippers which has only seen one play and just seemed alright. In the end I'm really glad I bit on this one. As a lover of TTR this is a great progression up the difficulty scale and really captures a lot of things I like in a game. It has strategy, tactics, money management, and direct player competition all with a small dose of unpredictability that keeps things hopping.

Also new this month was Biblios which was part of the same order. This game was received very well too. I have never had a game that was played 3 times in a row by my fiancee, but she kept wanting more. It scales well from 2-4 players and is a very nice filler to have around. It also is a bit unique for a filler as you could probably play (with the right group) enough games of it in a row to make it more of a main stay.

ZÈRTZ is another game that came in the order. I wanted another abstract that is easy to teach and play but seems to have lots of room to learn. My fiancee didn't like Go so I knew I needed something a bit more constrained if I would get her to try it. I haven't gotten her to try it quite yet, but a buddy of mine really liked and it and we usually play a couple rounds of it before we get into anything else.

Finally I got Saboteur 2 (expansion-only editions). After one play with 11 players I'm a believer and don't expect it to change. This game improves on some of the areas that were lacking in the original game and overall gives a higher competitive feel. I like the idea of 3 or 4 different teams of people competing against each other at one table. Rarely does a game provide so much fun for such a large group.

Overall my favorite of the 4 is Airlines though I think Biblios will see more play. Zertz will get a lot of table time with the right people but those times are usually few and far between.


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52. Board Game: Defenders of the Realm [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:230]
Hegel Bessa Jorge
Brazil
Fortaleza
Ceará
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Although I chose Defenders of the Realm, I was in doubt between it and Dungeon Lords.

I played a lot of new games this month: Defenders of the Realm, The Settlers of Catan, Formula D, Carcassonne, Dungeon Lords, Dominion and Forbidden Island.

I really like Defenders of the Realm. It has beautiful art by Larry Elmore. I don't know what people were talking about in its forums, but the board is great, the colors are useful and easy to distinguish and the gameplay is great, with a lot of support from the game designer himself. It's quite fun, has a little bit of D&D feel, plays in under two hours, we can adapt the difficult to the experience of the players, can be played solo, has free scenarios to play and I really enjoyed the quest system in the game. It feels like it is easy to add your own content to the game, but I think I won't be needing to do it for a while. Maybe it's the game I would like to play more at this moment. It is so good I'm actually thinking about buying its expansions. And did I mention the art is great? If they ever do a game like this with Jeff Easley's illustrations, I would buy it twice!

Dungeon Lords is quite good also. It has a Agricola feel, so it hasn't pleased all the players in my group. I found the rules were a bit difficult, but on the second play the game ran smoothly with very little downtime and lasting about an hour and a half. It's funny and the art is interesting.

After a lot of time thinking about it, I decided to buy Settlers of Catan. It really is a good game that can be played with non-gamers. I recommend this one and think it'll be played a lot with new players.

I played only 1 game of dominion and forbidden island, so I don't have a formed opinion yet.

I was a little disappointed by Formula D. I found it too luck based and even with all the advanced rules, I didn't think it has a lot of choices and it felt like I was playing monopoly. It was fun sometimes, but I didn't enjoy it very much. I'll try it again one more time to see if it is really bad or it was just a bad experience.
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53. Board Game: Earth Reborn [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:125]
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Not a good month for gaming. Not a lot of new, and most of it wasn't impressive.


Earth Reborn thumbsupthumbsup

This is a really good game. Set-up/take-down may take some luster off of it. The bases & arcs, tokens & command tokens are a really good idea. Just a really solid game. Rating: 8.



Guns of August thumbsupthumbsdown

Easy game with well-written short rules, nice counters, clever combat, and cool chit-pull system. But it becomes a tedious exercise in calculating your counter stacks 4 times each battle and a big-time dice fest with little movement in the front lines. The 2nd set of combat each round (artillery) is what really drags this down. Some of this could be alleviated with a VASSAL module, and probably raise it a point, but overall, I felt like I had been through a marathon after a few turns. Rating: 6.





Gassy Gus thumbsup

Here is the game: You are dealt cards with various values on them, based on how much they make you fart (Watermelon = 1, a bowl of chili = 6). The goal is to get rid of your cards. You play a card, and "pump" up Gus that many times. If he farts, you have to draw 2 cards. Everyone is given 2 bottles of pop and you can throw it on any player (1 time use each) and that player has to add 2 more pumps to his total.

There's not a lot of strategy to this one, but it's a game about farting. What's NOT to love? Rating: 6.





Doomtown: Deadlands thumbsdown

The rating tells you more about my opinion of collectible card games than about this one in particular. Since I rate Babylon 5 a "1", that tells you that this one isn't that bad. In my lone game, we had bad deals. I got a lone deed, and it sucked. My opponent didn't have much better. Bad distributions are going to happen in any card game, you just wish it wouldn't happen in you first, because you only get one chance to make a first impression. There is some good ideas in here, but as is true with every CCG I've played, it's not worth the investment in time to explore these. It's just not a genre that clicks with me. Rating: 4.





Artifact thumbsdown

Metagames follows a trend in their microgame collection: small hex-and-counter wargames. They have an interesting theme and a clever mechanic. They are not perfect games, but they are quite enjoyable. Examples include Chitin: I, Olympica, Ogre and Ice War. This one fails to live up to its peers. The theme is interesting (U.S. and Soviets fighting on the moon for an artifact in the "future" (the year 2000 -- ha ha -- cue up Conan O'Brien and break out the flashlighs), however, there's not much in the way of clever mechanics. You roll to see if achieve a "lock on" and then roll to see if you hit (depending on which weapon you are firing), and roll to see if the target is disrupted or destroyed (depends on the type of target). That's not very clever. So it becomes an exercise in excessive dice rolling coupled with more book keeping (which person is in a vehicle and what is he carrying?) than it's worth. This game could be greatly aided by miniatures and given a Fantasy Flight treatment. Rating: 4.





Tide of Iron thumbsupthumbsup

I will add this as an honorable mention. I played it once last year, so technically, it's not "new," but I didn't really understand it then, so in some ways, it's kind of new. It was the best game on this list.

I like it. It's definitely a step up in complexity from Memoir 44. The cards and the tactics add levels of complexity. I also like how the game is objective-driven, rather than a carnage-fest with objectives that are ignored.

While there are a LOT of chits & plastic, I found it wasn't so bad when I bought a couple of craft boxes, both of which fit in the big coffin box. I also found it fiddly to work with the units in the bases. For that, turn the bases upside down insert your units, and then stand up a specialization badge between the units and the problem goes away. What you are left with is a game that is easy to take down and set-up and has a lot of fun packed into with plenty of directions to expand.

Rating: 9.


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54. Board Game: 20th Century [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:790]
Trey Chambers
United States
Houston
Texas
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A great, great auction game with a fun tile placement aspect as well.

It was the only game at Origins I was excited about besides Quarriors and some prototypes I had a chance to play.

If you like Homesteaders this is a MUST.
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55. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:191]
Zack Stackurski
United States
Mankato
Minnesota
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This was a very solid month for new games! 4 new titles all in the 7-8 rating range!



Rating 8 after 1 play

A Game of Thrones had been compared to Twilight Imperium so often in my group that I really wasn't that interested in playing... but at our monthly game day it was all set up and they needed another player for a full table... and I'm *really* glad I sat in! I think the biggest hook for me was the large amount of bluff and counter bluff available. This was strongest in the hidden order phase, but almost every combat had an element of it was well. Add in some built in anti-turtling and the inability to attack without leaving yourself vulnerable and you have a really intense, really different "dudes on a map" game.



Rating 7.5 after 11 plays

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a game I'm pretty hooked on right now having played 11 times in 11 days since getting it for Father's Day... but its very strange as I've played it that much and still am not sure what to think of it (though I do like it quite a bit). Of those 11 games, only 3 have been those really close nail biters that make co-ops really fun. A few others I was slaughtered quickly (Two Hill Trolls early on Anduin in two games! gulp ) and the others were mostly multi-player cake walks. Once there are enough cards from the expansions to make deck building more interesting I could certainly see my rating going way up, but regardless I think this will continue to be a game I play a lot of quite a while if only because it is the only solo game in my current collection that I actually enjoy!



Rating 7 after 2 plays

Iliad is a game I'm suprised I don't hear recommended more. It might play a bit long overall to really be a "filler" but the gameplay itself feels fast, the artwork is great, there are interesting decisions on when to bolster yourself vs harm your opponents or just pass and hope for the best. It seems to scale well at least from 4-6 and has a solo and partnership mode of play to change things up. I guess its an auction game where your soldiers are your bid... but can be killed to lower your bid... but it manages to feel like a tight bloody conflict with soldiers screaming and dying every round of play until a victor is crowned... and then the next siege begins!



Rating 7 after 3 plays

FITS didn't impress me on my first play. I had already tried Mini-Fits and didn't get that much more out of my first try of the "real game"... but after a pair more plays with family I certainly see the value of this game and catapulted from a 5 rating to a 7. It won't be replacing TTR as my family game of choice, but its already vying with Coloretto as first alternate. In fact, there isn't another light puzzle game with zero interaction I'd rather play!

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56. Board Game: Hanabi & Ikebana [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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Not a bad month for new-to-me games on the whole, but only one I'll definitely be playing more (the only one I played more than once).

Hanabi shouldn't be a game I like - but I do. I don't know how long it will hold up, but it manages not to feel like a cooperative game, which is impressive.

Slate is acceptable; probably not too much better than that, or worse than that.

Das große Kullern is a very clever application of the mechanism from Avalanche (among other games). Very nice kids game, with some broader appeal.

Timeline - 4D Chess - succeeds in being playable, but not it standing out positively.

Sumo! is more fun to watch the right people playing than to play, but still is a fine game.

Karnaxis has a number of points in its favor, but overall didn't hold together for me, or come close enough to worry about trying to fix.

Rallyman is a nice idea that didn't play out in a way that gives me any interest in a second play. Often quite frustrating.
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57. Board Game: So Long Sucker [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:6463]
jonathanWC
Japan
Sendai
Miyagi
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By waiting until after game night a second new game of the month manages to squeak in. Tonight we played So Long Sucker--my first time playing it. This is a fantastic little "exercise" in game theory and social behavior developed by John Nash (and colleagues).

The game is fairly quick to play as players aim to eliminate opponents chips and ultimately other players from the game. The game requires a high amount of bargaining with other players and betraying those partners at the right time.

The game can be played with poker chips (or the like), only requiring 7 per each 4 players. I highly recommend people take a look at the rules and try this little filler out at their next game night.

So Long Sucker edged out Mondo, which was the only other new game I tried this month. I only played it solo on Michael Schachts website and it was an entertaining little puzzle game. Several rounds burned a few slow hours at work. From what I understand of the game, the face to face version seems like it would be a cross of Ubongo with the tile selection/placement and time restrictions of Galaxy Trucker--though I may be way off.
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58. Board Game: Leaping Lemmings [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1510]
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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Best (and only) New Game:
Leaping Lemmings



Kind of a family-friendly wargame/race game hybrid. Fits into the same niche as Downfall of Pompeii: light game with unusual theme and a lot of chaos, light on the strategy. The theme was the best part for me: each player controls a team of lemmings who are racing to the cliff edge to see who can score the most "style" points in a cliff dive, all while trying to horde favor treats and avoid being eaten by the hungry eagles.

While I enjoyed it and would happily play it again, I don't see myself seeking it out to own.

Solid 7/10.
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59. Board Game: Lascaux [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:1894]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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A very good month for new games. Some better than others, but always good to try something new.


Lascaux



A rather fun little auction game I picked up half price at Wintercon in Canberra.

The game plays really well and has some top-quality components. It does not get much of a profile here on BGG, but really is worth a try if you get the chance.

I enjoy the blind bidding and like the theme.

Lunch Money



Semi-disturbing imagery characterises this rather nasty 'filler' game. Like a lot of these sort of things it has the 'attack the leader' as a de facto setting but is not a bad option for five or six players looking to fill in 10 or 15 minutes.

Thunderstone



A semi-abstract dungeon crawl. Plays a lot like Dominion but with more structure (and less real choice).

It seems that one always begins by building up in the village/town and the real trick of the game is knowing when to hit the dungeon. A number of expansions suggests replayability, but I am not sure I see this.

Nice components, but just did not work for me.

MegaCorps



Have only played one time so far but it was just not that much fun. I guess I expected a bit more from this one.

Not sure what as I think a lot of the ideas behind the game design are interesting but the actual play left me a bit cold.

Paper money is also a bit ordinary.

Will try again and see if I warm to it.

Ruse & Bruise



Again, just a single play, but I just didn't enjoy it. In fairness, I joined in with no rule explaination and was told to pick it up as I went along so I played quite poorly. Many of the mechanics seemed a bit counter-intuative and the potential for 'screwage' is just too high for my taste.

Might try again, but will not seek this one out.
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60. Board Game: Water Lily [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:2535]
Kevin Whitmore
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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I didn't play any major new games this month. But I did play a few new-to-me games.

Water Lily - I found quite charming. It is one of those play in the box sort of games. It has nice wooden checkers a la Igel Argern. But Water Lily plays even faster. I can see how kids could like it, but there is a bit of game here for adults too.

Los Mampfos - Somehow I had never played this before. I realize this is a kid's game, but somehow I had been hearing about it for a couple years or more. I have trouble pairing the words "charming" with a game about donkey scat. But the game does have a certain flair... I won't need to play it again - I am absolutely wretched at memory games -but I'm glad I got to experince this unique game once.

Long Shot - I have a tradition of showing up to my Monday evening game group with race games. This one was entertaining, but there is no illusion of control.

New Orleans Big Band - Thanks to a gift from a friend, I have finally gotten to play this rare game that I have been curious about for years. As is so often the case, the game didn't live up to my dreams. But we did have fun, and I want to play again. It's just a shame that using English cards seriously demotes the graphic design of the game.

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61. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:48]
Jonathan Er
Singapore
Singapore
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not many new games for me this month, but i managed to play 3 games i really wanted to try !

best of the lot was Troyes !

i would buy it if i could find a way to get my friends to play it. but they are all the light games kind of group. and the heavier games group i meet, well, they all have it already. laugh

i loved the interesting use of the dice and how the game can be really close at the end.


the other two games were Dream Factory & Alien Frontiers

i enjoyed both as well but i would say that Alien Frontiers didnt meet the hype that surrounded it. it was fun ( and i won ) but it feels like it wont stand up to repeated plays. already on the first game i felt i just wanted to do the same thing over and over again

as for Dream Factory, it was interesting for the different actors and films that we were scheduled to produce. the auction mechanic is nothing new but the game can play fast and it can be enjoyed by many different groups and types of players. so overall, a pretty ok game

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62. Board Game: Barons [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:3537]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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Some good and some bad this month, here's the breakdown...

The Good


Barons - thumbsupthumbsup (2 Plays)

I got both this and Glory to Rome this month, but only Barons hit the table and it was well received. Gameplay is quick and brief (2 three-player games went by in about 20 minutes a piece). It's a bit hard to rate because the decks are so different, and had it not been crack-thirty in the morning my fellow players probably would have been up for a few more games. While it's tempting to focus on creating your card-drawing engine, not paying attention to the other players is a bad idea. Luckily, the game makes it easy for you to retaliate (the yellow deck in general is a great way to rein in a runaway leader). I definitely want to play this more!


Navegador - thumbsupthumbsup (1 Play)

My first Rondel game, like many folks on this list, came into play last week. While I wasn't too hot on the theme (I did end up buying Antike because I'm a die hard classicist), I can't deny how streamlined the game is. While it didn't set me on fire, it definitely got me interested to try more of Mac Gerdts' games. Definitely start with this one if you're interested in the Rondel series.

The OK

 

Chronicle - thumbsupthumbsup (1 Play)

Make no mistake, this is a very interesting and neat Trick Taking game. The only problem is that it exists in a sea of very interesting and neat trick taking games, which makes it hard for me to drum up enthusiasm. If you're a fan of TT games, don't pass it up. But if you're only casually interested, don't go out of your way. The one upshot is that what it does differently from other trick-taking games is definitely something you wont find anywhere else, so do give it a gander.


Alien Frontiers - thumbsupthumbsup (1 Play)

Like Chronicle before it, what it does, it does very well. While I had fun playing, I wasn't in any rush to go buy a copy because of it's similarity to Kingsburg. Admittedly, it is different enough from KB that those familiar with the latter will still get enjoyment out of it. Also like the previous game, I do very much recommend playing it. But again, if your trying to save shelf space, don't go out of your way to get it if you've got a well-loved copy of any of the other dice allocation games.


Junta: Viva El Presidente! - thumbsupthumbsdown (2 Plays)

Maybe it's because I haven't played the expert game yet, but I've both warmed and cooled to this little dicefest. The rules are simple and easy enough, and there's some room for fun role playing. But after a few games, it feels like what charm it had has worn off. Maybe because I'm in the middle of a game shelf purge I'm viewing it with a more critical eye, because otherwise this is a fun, goofy game. Though I've never played the original Junta!, I hear that this captures some of what makes it fun and reduces it down to a manageable length. I should give the advanced rules a shot before I offer the final word.


Cromlet - thumbsupthumbsdown (2 Plays)

If you're looking for an innocuous family game to play with non-gamer family after dinner, this fits the bill. There's just enough decision making (a good dash of push-your-luck, as well) to keep the hardcore folk like myself interested, but simple enough not to strain your grandmother's noodle. Much like Gemlok (by the same designer); fun for what it is.


Wizard Extreme - thumbsupthumbsdown (2 plays)

Surprisingly, I found myself liking vanilla Wizard more than this. Surprising because I was more interested in trying this one than the latter, and I finally got a chance to do so this month. I do like games with a little evil in them (Bottle Imp being an excellent example), but there was something about this one that landed a shade on the depressive side (It's the same problem I have with Shadows over Camelot, but more on that shortly). As with all trick-taking games, having a bad hand isn't the end of the world, you lose some points and move on to the next offering. But in this game, it's all downhill, you can only break even with perfect play. While I admit that the fun of this game is to watch your carefully laid plans explode in an amusing manner, I found myself enervated rather than excited. Definitely want to play again, but my enthusiasm has dropped.

The Ugh


Shadows over Camelot: Merlin's Company - thumbsdownthumbsdown (1 Play)

I already have problems with vanilla Shadows Over Camelot; no sense of accomplishment, overly punitive gameplay and a ridiculous level of difficulty even without a traitor. But, I figured, why not give the expansion a shot and see if it improves my outlook? Not a jot! While Merlin gives some blessed relief in allowing card drawing at your location rather than Camelot, the game gets EVEN HARDER with the travel cards. That wouldn't be a problem if it felt like more of a challenge (such as Pandemic's Virulent and Mutated Strain variants), but it feels even more like the game is stomping on your face with hob-nailed boots due to the utter randomness of it.

I understand that co-op games are supposed to be a struggle, but SoC (and especially this expansion) takes this to a ridiculous level. I might give the base game one more pity try, but I never want to play with this expansion again.
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63. Board Game: Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:420]
David Reed
United States
College Station
Texas
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June was surprisingly slow on the "new to me" front. I can blame this on several things:

1) A vacation that took me out of town and, hence, away from my games group.
2) Several computer-related crises that took up my time and prevented me from attending a local games night and also prevented me from a couple of on-line games nights.
3) My local gaming group's current obsession, Eminent Domain, which saw a fair amount of play - both with the prototype expansion, as well as without. This game can not see official release soon enough! I made up a second playtest kit so that two tables could play at the same time. One local gamer wanted the game so badly that he bought a pack of six - I'm still not sure I understand all of the negotiations behind that...
4) The preparations for my annual 4th of July weekend "Gathering of Aggies" gaming weekend. There's a lot of clean-up, organization and planning before the first guest arrives (sometime late tomorrow morning, if the emails are to be believed...).

But I did get some gaming in, even some "new to me" stuff. I'm going to consider two of them as games and not expansions (more on that later), and the game that comes out on top is:

Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game (1 play). Okay, I will freely admit to being a Games Workshop hater in most cases. They did some interesting stuff in the early years, but their diversion into Warhammer, miniatures and such really rubbed me the wrong way. Anyhow, I abstracted this in my mind as Aliens (the movie) and it worked for me. This game is a cooperative card game in which the players control a group of space marines who are trying to survive an onslaught by hordes of unpleasant alien creatures. I'm not entirely convinced that it is possible to survive, but I had a good time before the marines were overwhelmed.

Power Struggle (1 play). Power Struggle is a game in which the players are trying to manipulate the structure of a corporation to maximize their power while outdoing their rivals who are trying to do the same thing inside the same corporation. It presents a cynical view of corporate operations, where one might expect to see Catbert and Dogbert giving advice. Bad morale is a good thing because it makes it easier for the corporate weasels the players are controlling to plunder the company's resources. It's interesting and there are a lot of things going on, but I'm not sure that it is my sort of game. I tend to prefer building things rather than leeching off of them...

Expansions of the month:

This month I have to declare a tie for the "new to me" expansion of the month.

The first of the expansion "new to me" winners is the prototype of the first expansion for Eminent Domain (4 plays). I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say about it at this point, so I will just say that I really hope that it will be available sooner rather than later.

The second of the expansion "new to me" winners is
Animal Upon Animal Balancing Bridge (1 play). Officially, this is a game unto itself. Someday, I may play it that way. But for now, it is being played as an expansion for Tier auf Tier, along with two sets of Tier auf Tier: Das Duell. Combined, it makes for a huge game that still plays fairly quickly. This should be hitting the table again at some point this weekend.

Here's to July - a strong "new to me" month!
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64. Board Game: Pastiche [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:791]
Keith Leonard
United States
Massillon
Ohio
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We picked up a few games at Orgins this year:



I played each of the games with my wife (excepts Barons) and Pastiche turned out to be one of the favorites. Great game.
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65. Board Game: Nix [Average Rating:3.60 Unranked]
...sure...
Netherlands
Rijen
Noord Brabant
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66. Board Game: Hanabi & Ikebana [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
Железный комиссар
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Just so everyone knows: if you ever devote a week and a half of vacation to visiting geekbuddies halfway across the country, this is what happens.

Hanabi



Hanabi is a cooperative deduction game in which players display their hand of five cards to the table but can never look at it themselves. Players can either provide clues to each other, attempt to play a card from their hand, or discard a card, which replenishes the number of clues available to the group. The goal of the game is simple: play values 1-5, in order, in all six suits. A mis-play (for example, attempting to play the yellow 5 when only values 1-3 are in place) uses up one of the team's three "strikes." Everyone loses if all three strikes are used, everyone wins if the team reaches a perfect score of 30, and everyone settles for a lower score if the draw deck runs out before then.

I found this game to be a breath of fresh air. The fun of the game is in inferring your teammates' current logic and intent, which they can only signal to you by playing, discarding, or using a clue. I'm told, and fully believe, that the game can be tamed by creating a set of "conventions" (think: Bridge), leading to perfect or near-perfect scores every time. That would seem to defeat the point. The whole idea behind the game is to signal and to read signals. If all of that becomes systematic, why bother?

I highly recommend Hanabi to three groups of people: those who like cooperative games, those who like deduction games, and those who like unusual games. Find the first printing if you can; the new one looks terrible.


Puzzle Strike



My other contender for best New-to-you, Puzzle Strike may be the game that finally delivers on the promise of Dominion. I've been waiting since my New-to-you write-up from Ocotber 2008.

I like to see games strike out into unusual thematic territory, and in that sense Puzzle Strike is a big attention-grabber. The "Puzzle Fighter" was already an unlikely genre-blend in the videogame space (Tetris + SFII = ??). It's even weirder to see that blend ported to analog and stripped of most of the fighting and all of the puzzling. All that's left is the idea that blocks are continually falling in each player's area. These must be "crashed" in order to stave off elimination and overburden the other fighter.

I love the novelty of the victory condition. Puzzle Strike simply isn't about income and victory points. It's about offense and defense, push and pull, move and counter-move. It's a frantic game of "don't lose." Ongoing deck-composition still retains some of the same thinking and subtlety seen in Dominion, but the goal here isn't to build an engine and then clog it. That appeals to me.

Puzzle Strike's one obvious fault is that it doesn't scale well. Play with two players or don't play at all. That aside, little refinements abound. Hand-size scales with the threat of elimination, adding the sense of desperation and an element of risk. Puzzle Strike is also asymmetrical. There are 10 "characters" to choose from, and each has three chips unique to their draw-bag or 'deck.' Whereas Dominion's vaunted replayability always struck me as skin deep, Puzzle Strike extends the idea of a random set by adding random match-ups.

My track record with the Dominion-wave is so poor that I will need several more plays to feel confident about Puzzle Strike. Still, I recommend it to Dominion skeptics and hardcore deckbuilding fans. Everyone else may be underwhelmed.


Outpost



Outpost turned 20 this year, and a reprint is coming this Fall. It is a well-loved, highly influential game, ahead of its time and quintessential in its genre (these days most strongly exemplified by Power Grid). Some readers will be familiar with an updated, re-themed version of the game (The Scepter of Zavandor), or with a simplified, streamlined take (Phoenicia). As a Zavandor fan, I've been meaning to try Outpost for a long time.

I'm glad I finally had the opportunity. This is a pure snowballing game in which players build their income as fast as possible, eventually spurring the creation of Space Stations, Planetary Cruisers, and Moon Bases. There are lots of options and something like 10 currencies (Titanium is worth more than Ore, Research is worth more than Titanium, etc). Key infrastructure is auctioned off, but players must also manage their own factory-base and hire a sufficient workforce.

A few twists really make the game. Research (a currency) offers not only spending power but also access to certain kinds of purchases. Robots can rapidly expand the workforce beyond its normal limitations. There are enough wrinkles to push this beyond a simple spend-money-to-make-money framework. The only thing I didn't care for in Outpost was the huge variance in income-cards, which can be as wide as 20-40 late in the game. It's jarring to see the same income source randomly produce such a widely divergent output. That aside, I'd happily explore this one a bit more and see where it takes me.


North Pole



A good family game is one that appeals to kids and casual gamers but still engages the rest of us without feeling too shallow. North Pole exemplifies that standard with fast turns, a good sense of route planning, variable setups, thoughtful meddling, and Penguins. Essentially a race game across a "board" of terrain cards, North Pole combines Ticket-to-Ride style set collecting with multiple movement types ("waddling," "sledding," etc). Add in the ability to chain moves together along with well-conceived blocking/interference ( impact, not screwage) and the total package begins to shine.

Essentially this is a fine example of what I look for in a light game.


Barons



If you know anything about Barons, you probably know that it's being pitched as Glory to Rome's 'little brother.' And after one play I'd say that yes, it comes across as comparatively tame. Mild card effects and an underwhelming victory condition hint at a road to nowhere.

To reach half-time, draw one card in each of four suits. To win, draw two. The catch is that players draw one suit at a time, and that specialization in a color increases the draw-rate for that color. Makes sense conceptually, but in practice I saw little to get excited about here. I read through the whole deck before teaching the game just to kill some time, and even with that extra familiarity and idle contemplation, I wasn't intrigued. "Too simple."

Regardless, I trust that there is more here. Each suit includes several knights who can attack other Baronies or defend your own, and these may well be the cornerstone of the game. Without that conflict, play is as dull and straightforward as can be. I'd like to explore the game further with 4+ players and see what happens.


Elasund: The First City of Catan



Truth be told, I have almost no history with the original Catan. I enjoy Starship Catan and have been curious about Elasund: The First City for years, but not curious enough to buy it blind.

Elasund swaps out the original trading mechanic for a highly destructive, grid-based spatial placement game. And while I doubt that sounds appealing to very many people, it works surprisingly well. Turns still begin with a roll of 2D6 to determine production, but here the roll also determines access to new building sites, which have to be claimed by placing building permits. These come with various levels of authority, and players who place the strongest claims will pay a premium in cash to do so. Using lower-priority permits could work out fine, or be trumped by other players and vanish from the board. New structures can wipe out valuable pre-existing ones in the blink of an eye.

Still, there's a lot of skill to both placement aspects (buildings and claims), good choices when it comes to managing income (covering die-faces for production), and a second currency (influence) that gives the players some latitude (for example, influence can be used to override a roll's placement restrictions).

It's a mean game but not one that felt capricious to me. I would jump at the chance to play it again but can't see it being widely popular in my gaming circles (or in many others).


Julius Caesar



Block games have been around for 40+ years. It's a lineage I've been curious about for a long time, and the Julius Caesar's theme of ancient/classical warfare finally lured me in.

Each player commands a set of forces and can move them from point to point under various restrictions. Attacking armies cover less ground, road-quality limits the number of troops that can be moved in a single play, and city-size limits the number of troops that can winter between rounds (a round includes five turns per player). Navies allow armies to caravan long distances but with fewer units at a time. All of this lends a sense of light maneuver to the game, as armies lumber into position.

Troops come in four grades (A-D) and with varying armaments (poorly equipped troops only hit on a 1, elite forces on a 1-3, etc). A-grade troops fully resolve before B-grade troops, so early damage can swing a battle quickly. The distinguishing feature of block games is that each player knows the exact strength and caliber of their own troops (displayed on their side of the blocks), but only the number of opposing armies. Specific information about those armies only becomes visible once battle is joined, and it's up to the player to remember who retreated where etc. I'm still undecided on this representation of "fog of war," which certainly makes thematic sense but adds a conspicuous memory element to the gameplay.

Julius Caesar didn't convince me that block games are an untapped treasure trove, but I'd happily play it again and wouldn't be opposed to trying games like Richard III: The Wars of the Roses or Hammer of the Scots.


Olympus



I'm a little surprised that Olympus flew completely under the radar last year. Essentially, the game crosses Puerto Rico's signature gameflow (one player chooses a role, the others follow) with a limited pool of workers, retaining the privilege/standard split within each action but giving players the choice to buy into the lesser actions or not. The actions themselves feel lifeless (low-impact construction/production), but some potential comes through in the wide range of buildings available to each player. Most of these are in symmetrical player decks (no competition, but lots of possible approaches), but about a dozen additional buildings can be claimed from the main board, each one unique. The fun here is all in finding a path through the game's many buildings that can work.

The twist (because of course there is a twist) turns out to be a brutal military aspect to the game, clearly inspired by Through the Ages (arms race / bash the loser). Resources can be stolen, and in significant quantity. The stakes may be too high, but I'd play again to find out. It's only a 1 hour game, after all.


Opera



Another rare game modeled directly on Puerto Rico, this time with a four-slot trading venue on top of the role selection. Once again, players choose roles and the others follow. As with Olympus, there are a few minor twists. Players begin the round with a simultaneous blind bid that turns into Thebes-style action points. The player with the most begins by choosing a role and the other players can spend their own action points to follow. The player with the most remaining points chooses the next role. Though selecting a role doesn't come with an explicit privilege, simply doing the action first usually carries an advantage in Opera.

Over the course of nine turns, each player will construct several Opera houses, purchase musical scores from famous composers, and manipulate the reputation of those composers to maximize scoring potential. Income requires diversity of music but concentration within as few Opera houses as possible. Scoring requires focus on only the most renowned music, spread across as many different houses as possible. As expected, money is the focus early and scoring is the focus late, but the disparity between the two is unusually stark, as the final turns see players afloat in a sea of unnecessary cash.

I enjoyed Opera, and thought the theme was reasonably well integrated, but I just don't see it going anywhere in the long run. Replayability struck me as mind-bogglingly low - truly stunning given that PR is the clear source of inspiration. I imagine three plays would all but exhaust it - what went wrong?

Charming game, but no staying power.


Under the Lilly Banners



Under the Lily Banners is part of a larger series of hex-and-counter wargames that covers 17th century warfare of the Musket and Pike variety. It features units defined by a wide range of attributes, including morale, strength (hit points), formation, and movement. When two units enter combat, players will run through a lengthy procedure that eventually produces a die-roll modifier. For example, if a leader is present, a unit gains a +1 toward their roll. If the enemy's formation is "shaken" that's another +1. If the enemy's formation is broken, even better (+2). Coming at the enemy's flank? Notch up another +1. If the enemy's morale is lower, things are starting to look really good (another +1). Outnumber your opponent 2-to-1 (OH YEAH!!): another +1. Spending scarce pistol ammunition? The odds tilt further...

That's really what the whole game felt like to me. Movement is fairy unrestricted and terrain can be tricky because it frequently interferes with formation as it is traversed (send cavalry uphill: formation shaken). Quite possibly by virtue of inexperience, I didn't feel a sense of positioning or maneuvering preparatory to battle. It just felt kind of messy in between the lengthy procedure for battle rolls. For better or worse, lightbulbs did not come on. In contrast with wargames like Maria or Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, this sort of thing never seems to work for me.


Sun, Sea, and Sand



Sun, Sea & Sand casts players as entrepreneurial families developing beach resorts. It shares a lot with games like Vegas Showdown, with players managing the spatial arrangement of their resort and balancing customer-flow against their beachside attractions. Vacationers come in a handful of different colors that match the available restaurants, theme-park rides, jet-ski rentals, etc. To win, players need to build sufficient lodging, pre-book travelers of the right color, and carefully manage the duties of each available family member. Design-wise, the game takes standard worker placement (as in Caylus et al., not as in "pieces on a board") in a new direction, augmenting it with with a time-delay. Different tasks take either one, two, or three turns for the worker to complete, which is a big deal in an eight turn game.

Unfortunately, the game suffers tremendously from a mis-match between its mood (breezy theme / evocative mechanics / charming components) and its feel (few turns, high constraints, narrow gameplay range, little to accomplish). All that "Sun, Sea, and Sand" is painfully straightjacketed. The result is a slog-through-the-mud sort of game, the type I've avoided for years. If you want to explore a game's nuances, take a creative approach to its breadth of options, and maneuver relatively uninhibited within its confines, then let this one go back out with the tide. If you enjoy hunkering down and making tiny, blunt optimizations within the gameplay equivalent of a crawl-space, then by all means, dive in.
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67. Board Game: Egizia [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:183]
James Fehr
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Egizia - rating of 8.5
was my favorite new game in June. I enjoy worker placement games, and I appreciated the cleverness of the angst-inducing mechanic of not being able to place a token further up the river than where you put your last token. My 11-year-old son who played it with me said as soon as we were done that he thought it would make his top-10 list of favorite games.

Dominant Species comes in at a very close second. I also rate this one 8.5, but I have to play it again before my opinion is firm. I love how worker placement is integrated with area majority and it is very enjoyable for someone who loves to pull a lot of levers and then watch what happens. But is it quite fiddly, a little long, and a bit harder to control what happens then I was expecting. Still an excellent game though!

Other new games this month:
Innovation - rating of 8. Despite the almost chaotic nature of the game, I enjoy this one a lot! More than any game that I have played in the last several months, I feel like playing this one all over again as soon as I am done a game. Things change quickly, but I still get the sense of building a cool engine.

Biblios - rating of 8. A great set-collection filler with a similar feel to For Sale, but with a little more depth. Highly recommended!

Word Sweep! - rating of 6. A good challenging word guessing game where a huge part of the clue for each card is that the 3 or 4 words you have to guess come one right after the other in a dictionary.

Satanix - rating of 3. An aptly named game. I enjoy word games, and this interesting as a toy or a word generating muse. But as a game, this is painful.

Stormbreaker Alex Rider: The Board Game - rating of 2. A truly awful roll-and-move movie tie-in game with excessive complications that goes on way too long with very little control.

I played 3 new expansions this month and enjoyed each of them very much:
Dixit Quest, Saboteur 2 (expansion-only editions), and Dominion: Cornucopia.
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68. Board Game: Dominion: Cornucopia [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Steve Bauer
United States
Gilbert
Arizona
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3 new games and 2 new expansions. Not a lot but they were all good games.

Dominion: Cornucopia
Rating 8


I have only gotten to play it a few times with Cornucopia, still playing through the pre-constructed decks. Like the way it focuses on variety.

Defenders of the Realm: The Dragon Expansion
Rating 7


From my first play it really makes the game hard, the dragons are much tougher than the regular villains, I lost badly, need to give it another try.

Breakout: Normandy
Rating 6.5

The most traditional wargame I played at Consimworld expo but still not quite a classic wargame. The turn track is a really neat mechanic. I lost badly to an experienced player which was not really a surprise.

The Bridges of Shangri-La
Rating 6


More abstract than I expected, it is a fine game but nothing to get excited about.


Vinhos
Rating 6


I really wanted to like this one and was looking forward to playing it. However it didn't really click with me. It needs a second play.
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69. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:73]
Håkan König
Sweden
Linköping
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Easy choice this month as the only competition was Tooor!, and believe me when I say that wasn't even close.
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70. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:275]
John Newall
United States
Lehi
Utah
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This is by far my greatest new to you month in a long time. 5 new games, each one greater than the next. It was hard picking a best, as they all tickled me in different ways. Vegas Showdown only gets seen as the best because my wife loved it the most and really wants to play it a lot.

The Best of an awesome bunch
Vegas Showdown 2 plays Rated 8

I have owned this game for close to 4 years and after creating a geeklist about the games I have yet to play and getting cursed out for not trying this, it hit the table and the game is terrific. Enough randomness to keep it interesting, but enough tactics to keep you coming back. A must for everyone to try and to love.


A Knizia I liked a lot but didn't love
Amun-Re 1 play Rated 7.5

My buddy brought this over and we played it through. Definitely a lot of room to enjoy. Our game seemed to be run a lot on luck though, so I don;t know if this will come up in repeat plays.


An awesome ladder climbing card game
Haggis 1 play Rated 7.5

I realise my rating system sucks. I need to revise it. I liked this more than Amun-Re for sure. I really like card games a lot and a 3 player card game fits us perfectly, as we have my brother in law over a lot to play games. I liked the game a lot more than my wife or B-i-l so that might be reflected in the rating. Fun and fast. I can see this becoming a staple for us.


A funny, fun game of hide and seek
Nuns on the Run 1 play Rated 8

What a silly piece of nonsense this game is and how much fun did I have playing it. It was tense as I tried to catch my friends sneaking around. They felt the pressure and I knew they were close! Only spoiled by the fact that some of the doors are not obvious on the board so they were telling me I could see them when I actually couldn't. Nothing like being too honest for a game. Definitely one to pull out when we have 4-8 players.


A great map for a great series
Railways of Europe 1 play (tonight) Rated 9

I know I rate this higher than Vegas Showdown, but this is a known commodity and I won;t give best in show to an expansion out of principle. Plays great. High costs to build links and we were all eager to (or at least felt we had to) get the Major Lines, something we ignore in other iterations. Glad to have another map to play though, keeps things interesting!


New games bought this month Railways of Europe, Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, Survive: Escape from Atlantis!, Railways Through Time, The Struggle for Catan, Poo: The Card Game, Cineplexity, Haggis, Mr. Jack Extension.
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71. Board Game: Dominion: Cornucopia [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Duchess of Erat
Netherlands
Enschede
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Only 1 new game for me this month, and it's not even a full game.

Dominion: Cornucopia
Nice addition to dominion. We've only played all cornucopia kingdom sets, which are a lot of fun, but make for a longer game because of all the action chaining. We'll have to see how well it works with cards from the other sets, it will probably be harder to aim for variety with fewer + action cards.
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72. Board Game: Maria [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:157]
Jens KH
Germany
Frankfurt am Main
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Maria (1 play) - 7



Maria is a highly asymmetrical multiplayer war game. The initial roles are firmly allocated through historical context, and it seems pretty much impossible for any side to win on their own merits alone.

The game requires careful balancing by the players. If you push one player too hard you'll make it too easy for the uninvolved player. Much of what happens, therefore, is a delicate dance in order to further your own agenda without exerting your enemies or yourself too much, both on the battlefields and in the political arena.

All of this is done with a remarkably spartan set of rules.


Rallyman (1 play) - 6



Rallyman is a racing game without a lot of player interaction. True to its theme, players mostly race along the track on their own, racing the clock rather than the other players. The game is heavily tactical, so much so that it often seems like a puzzle to get your gears in proper order.

The most gamey elements are those that allow you to press your luck a little in order to squeeze out a few more seconds. When that misfires the results can be devastating, and that's the main reason why driving just a single stage doesn't really do the game justice. Over the course of several stages the luck of the dice doesn't play such a big role.

The movement system used in Rallyman is nice. It's a bit unintuitive when you start first, cross the finish line last, and still end up with the best time, but that just emphasizes that it's the clock that needs to be beaten. Of course that also means that it can get rather lonely at times.


El Caballero (1 play) - 6



El Caballero is the mean-spirited ancestor of Carcassonne. At its heart it is a similarly simple tile laying and area majority game, but there are significant differences that turn it into a much more vicious and challenging game.

Each turn there are five tiles to choose from. Players bid for turn order and replenish their caballero supply El Grande style. More than one player can lay claim to a single feature and there are ways to evict caballeros again.

Considering how strongly El Caballero apparently inspired the subsequent game of the year it's a bit surprising that it gets so little time in the limelight.


Die Säulen von Venedig (1 play) - 6



A game in which it is almost impossible to score without having someone else participate in some way, so it is mostly about setting yourself up so that you can leech points off other players' builds. The simultaneous action/role selection mechanism works fairly well, but the card management choices are perhaps overly constrained.


Kingsburg (1 play) - 6



Kingsburg is a dice roller's version of a resource conversion game. Ideally, in such a game it wouldn't matter much whether you roll high or low. Kingsburg does have a lot of options, and many ways to mitigate bad rolls, but high rolls are still far superior. This is because of the much reduced competition for the high spaces and because, when you do choose to hedge your bets, you'll still lose against those who don't and simply roll well when defending the realm at the end of the year.

Supposedly, the expansion fixes at least some of those issues.


Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game (1 play) - 5



Another multiplayer conflict game from FFG. The game captures the flair of the computer game quite well, and it's commendable that with resources gathering, natives, tech trees, buildings, wonders, and of course combat the whole package stays fairly clean and housekeeping is kept very low-key.

Then again, you have your typical multiplayer conflict issues. It is once again a game where players need to keep each other in check until there is either kingmaking (whether through deliberate actions or carelessness), or until somebody has to win because everyone's just that one step away. There is also no way to win through generalization.

And even though Civilization integrates many secondary aspects the primary concern is moving your units around on a map. The resource gathering is extremely simplified, the tech trees are kind of disappointing with a lot of redundancy and nothing in the way of preconditions, and cultural advancements seem to be useful as a flanking strategy at most. What it comes down to, therefore, is military strength, either as a direct means for a military victory, or as a requisite defence and determent.
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73. Board Game: Memoir '44: Tigers in the Snow [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked]
I am on a Journey...
Australia
Lavington
New South Wales
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Finally a really good month again for new games and a couple of gems in the Out of the Dust section -

d10-1 Memoir ’44 Overlord – Tigers in the Snow - 2 Plays



We played this as the full 8-player experience at BorderCon ’11 this year and it was a sheer delight. The Overlord system for Memoir is not easy to play, requiring many expansion boxes in the process but the end result is spectacular.

It is so different to the standard play of Memoir that it almost feels like a unique game and system in its own right. Essentially each side of the conflict requires 1 Commander in Chief and 3 Field Generals. The CinC controls all order and tactics cards and each turn they must decide which Field Generals will receive orders. The Field Generals can never know the exact cards in the hand of the CinC so they will never know their overall battle strategy but the CinC can talk tactics with 1 Field General each turn.

This can lead to some hilarious situations when the Field Generals screw things up or go against the wishes of the Commander in Chief.

On top of that the battlefield is massive, consisting of 2 normal sized boards…so each section is double the usual size. This allows for massive amounts of units and victory conditions of 12-14 medals, making for epic battles and swings of fortune.

Our club plans of playing a lot more of these engagements and I for one can’t wait.

d10-2 Survive: Escape from Atlantis - 1 Play





My standard position when something looks really hot on the Geek is to be cautious. This is mainly due to those titles not hitting their mark with me. But when my 8 year old played it at BorderCon this year before I did and told me how awesome it was…I had to try it.

And the game was really great. The graphics and the components are top notch quality and the game play is a pleasure. Sure there is luck in there but I love the double bluffing element of placing your valued Meeples around the island. The game play is perfect for families with the take that nature of sending sharks and Sea Monsters after your opponent’s vulnerable Meeple and I can see my boys getting many a laugh as they devour my hapless folk.

The final cool element comes in the partial teamwork that can be developed when people share a boat equally with one another. That helps foster that sense of shared success. I’m very happy that Stronghold Games decided to republish this game and do such a good job with it.

d10-3 Code 777 - 2 Plays





This is a tricky (at first) deduction game but by my 2nd play it had really grown on me. Each player has a 3-digit code in front of them and their job is to try and deduce what that code is without having seen it. The numbers come in a variety of colours and some numbers of the same value have varying backgrounds to help tell the colours apart.

The players gain information by drawing a card on their turn that poses a question. They must answer that question for the rest of the players by looking at all other player’s codes but not their own obviously. As each turn ticks by the players gather up the clues and information to enable them to declare that they know their code. The first to correctly ID 3 codes wins.

The really clever thing about Code 777 is that the information you are given is only ever as good as the methods you use to record that information. You have to sift through your own assumptions and discard them to ensure that you are not recording false information and things get even trickier when a player guesses their code incorrectly and must draw a new set of digits.

For this reason the game is not as simple as it may first appear and some players may get frustrated. I loved it though and hope that this may be a game that can come out with non-gamer types and gaming mates alike.

d10-4 Times Up! Deluxe - 1 Play





I’m not really a party fan but at a Con you tend to try the unusual and I was glad I did. This game is all about partnership play and trying to guess the names of identities based on clues given to you by your partner. The game is played over a number of rounds and the really clever thing is that the same identities are used in each round.

How can that be challenging I hear you ask?

Well the game puts different rules in play for each round, slowly stripping away what you can do with each round. In the 1st round you can use speech and action. In the 2nd round you can only sing, hum and use actions. In the 3rd round you can only use gestures…no sound or speech of any kind. In the final your partner must close their eyes and you can only make a still pose. This is called the ‘Vogue’ round.

What is so clever about this approach is that the game actually makes reference to the playing of itself to help each team. By that I mean that the players begin to remember similar poses, gestures from previous rounds and either replicate or build upon those as the rounds get more challenging. This allows the game to create ‘in-jokes’ and recurring jokes that get the whole group in stitches as they roll around the floor laughing.

I haven’t had so much fun with a game in a long time and I look forward to playing it again.

d10-5 Palasgefluster – - 1 Play





I have very little exposure to the small deck series of games from Adlung-Speile (despite owning 1 or 2 from a trade) but I will seek more out after my play of this little gem.

In plasterflubber (my name for it anyway) each player is trying to earn points by playing a series of characters from the King’s Court that force someone else to bust (play a matching character that they already have in play) before they do. Achieving this earns all successful players 1 point. The 1st to a set number of points wins…so simple.

The trickery and fun of the game is in the powers that each character has when they are played. The game is very much about hand management and there is a gentle ‘screw-you’ element to the game that is more fun than malicious.

Provided that this game is played at a good speed it is a little ripper that offers up fun moments and demands that you play it again.

d10-6 Dominion: Intrigue – - 4 Plays





I played Dominion over a year ago and really didn’t like it, failing to see what the fuss was all about. So when a mate insisted I play this with him because he had bought it I was dreading it.

Thankfully those fears were unfounded and I have begun to quite like the game. Perhaps it was the ‘tired at a Con’ factor of that 1st play or perhaps it was because I was still having a love affair with Race for the Galaxy that blinded me to Dominion’s potential.

Anyway the upshot is that I like this game quite a bit and have played 4 games using at least 3 of the recommended set-ups.

I look forward to more plays and exploring the various deck combos that are on offer.


d10-7 Thunderstone: Dragonspire – - 1 Play





I’m really unsure how I feel about this game and its rating at present probably sits a quarter star below what I give it above.

I wanted to like it…heck I even bought Ascension for my sons and I thinking it would be a stepping stone to Thunderstone. I played it at BorderCon and whilst I liked the theme, I’m not so sure I liked the mechanics of the play.

Killing monsters is great and Thunderstone certainly requires a bit more skill to do so than a game like Ascension but I’m unsure at this point if a player simply requires more luck to do it in this game (provided all players have acquired heroes, weapons and spells wisely of course).

My biggest gripe I guess was that the game went for a good hour or more and I felt it just outstayed its welcome at that length (with 4 players). Ascension can be over with in 40 minutes even with 4-players and that seems a better return on the investment I’m putting into the game.

Anyhoo I didn’t like Dominion on my first play either but that changed many months later. Thunderstone sits firmly in the ‘must play again’ basket for now and I would like to try different deck combos and the basegame too.

d10-8 Unpublished Prototype: Archaeology II – - 1 Play





Phil has given me the all clear to discuss this prototype that I played with my wife at the Designer’s Corner event at BorderCon this year.

Essentially the game builds on the set collection mechanic used in his original design but this time the players are exploring a series of levels in a pyramid that requires them to move and collect the precious gems, masks and so forth.

Some items like Sarcophogi must be searched to learn their value (which can be positive or negative) but thankfully there are coffin clues that can be found to allow a player to secretly look under a coffin to see its value before deciding if they will go after it or not.

There are a few other neat twists and tricks to the game but essentially it felt like a good Adventureland Game – simple to learn but with some nice elements that make you think before making a decision.

A definite buy when it is available.

d10-9 Chaos in the Old World – - 1 Play





I played this courtesy of a new club member who is beginning to acquire a game or two in his fledgling collection. I had played Runewars recently from FFG and really didn’t like what they had done with it so I was a little anxious with this one too although I had heard good things from it. We played with the recommended 4-players.

I’m not sure if I like FFG’s new direction of offering each player/empire/race these action cards and points to spend on them each turn but they didn’t feel quite as cumbersome or as unbalanced as those in Runewars.

The dial system to track the progress of each race (of which each gets rewarded for different achievements) was a nice touch I think and offered a different goal to the standard VP win.

Combat was good and the game is quite pleasant to look at in terms of components and board.

Our game took well over 2.5 hours but I know that will come down to about 90 minutes with experience so that is good for a game of this nature.

The jury is still out for me after 1 play. I certainly liked it well enough to play it 2-3 more times and this game really needs 4-5 plays by each player taking part to get the best out of it.

This is because the races on offer are not necessarily well balanced when new players are involved. The Khorne player really does have an edge I think in those learning plays as their main goal is to kill things, which doesn’t take a rocket scientist to achieve. The other players can certainly limit Khorne’s progress but they have to be ‘aware’ to the danger and plan carefully. This is not possible in that 1st play and may even take 2-3 plays to do well.

My long term concern is that this game will require all players to be aware of it. With the likelihood of new people wanting to learn all the time I fear that many plays may be unduly influenced by the newbie factor. Time will tell.

d10-1d10-0 Chaos Marauders - 2 Plays





Having won this in the BorderCon Charity Raffle I was hoping for something that played as good as the cover looked. No such luck unfortunately.

The game certainly is chaotic as each player tries to build their 3 battlelines of Orcs and related minions. When a battleline is completed (units must be flanked by a flagbearer and a musician) they can attack another player’s incomplete battleline of lesser combat value. There is a 1 in 6 chance of failure and success allows the victor to gut the VPs out of the defeated line.

There are some decent card combo mechanics to be found but the central mechanic of drawing a card, place it in a battleline, draw another card…until an end turn trigger is found, just felt dull and all too luck based.

A couple more plays before trading this on to a home that may love it more.

d10-1d10-1 Call of Cthulu: The Card Game - 1 Play





I award the 1 star for the Cthulu mythos. The mechanics and gameplay sound interesting out of the book but the experience was just torturous. It felt very unbalanced and highly luck dependent based on the draw of a player’s starting hand.

The ability to battle for storylines felt flat and uninspired and by the end both of us just wanted it to end and we killed the game prematurely.

This now has me worried for the Lord of the Rings LCG.

Out of the Dust

d10-1d10-2 Nexus Ops (2 Years in the Dust)



The coolest thing about playing this game for the 1st time in 2 years was that my 8 year old learned it at BorderCon this year from another 8 year old and wanted to play it with me.

This ‘Risk done right’ game is an absolute blast. Blending euro like card play with a well balanced conflict game, Nexus Ops is still for me one of the best games on the market of its genre and the play time is so rewarding at 40-80 minutes.

Family Nexus Ops nights will become commonplace from now on I think.

d10-1d10-3 Bang! (2.5 years in the Dust)



We hadn’t played this wild west, semi-duduction card game for some time but with a recent re-release and publishing a club member picked it up and we played again.

I had forgotten how much simple fun this game could offer with its various roles, ability to shoot people within range and playing of all manner of special cards.

We really had a good time with our 7 player games and I think this will come back into a regular cycle as it is a great club game when player numbers have you on the cusp of 1 game or 2.

Expansions

d10-1d10-4 Formula D: Singapore



Making use of Formula D’s sexy new graphical style, the Singapore track looks stunning as it is portrayed as a night race. The corners offer a nice mix of sweeping corners that allow for gear chain combos to be strung together as well as those gut-wrenching corners where you have to either play it safe or risk a higher gear in the hope that you won’t shaft your gearbox by being forced to change down quickly.
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74. Board Game: Cuba [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:270]
Simon Webster
United Kingdom
Leeds
Yorkshire
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Cuba - 2 plays with 2 players.

I know this game is often compared to others such as Puerto Rico and Caylus, but it all comes together very well to stand alone as a brilliant game in it's own right.

I can see how it "borrows" the role selection from PR and the building strategy from Caylus, but it also has a bidding round for parliament which allows players to try and tailor the game to their own strategy.

As both my plays have been 2 player we used the suggested variant of only having 2 shipping lanes which we think worked well.

I managed to pick up the 'El Presidente' expansion for £20 so have only played with the expansion. I can see no reason why not to play with it in the future. It really gels with main game and the extra actions are nice. Especially the 'Dancer' which seems like a much more elegant means of determining start player than the original rules.
Also the Presidente car adds another nice little strategy layer.
It's a very good expansion although the RRP (£35) is madness.

The production values for the game and the expansion are off the charts! Which is nice too
Definite approval from the wife, but also looking forward to trying it with more.


Glory To Rome - 2 plays with 2 players

I think this may be my wife's new favourite game.. She absolutely loves it!
Beneath the unassuming packaging lies a game of devious strategy and a wild fun ride.

Some of the building combo's are crazy, and if you are on the receiving of them (like I always seem to be) then the game can seem to spiral out of control. But there is much to explore here and I can see it getting many plays in the future. It's just FUN!

Oh and as far the artwork goes, it fits the style and mechanics of the game perfectly. If you passed on this one because of the artwork, then more fool you...


Ascending Empires - 3 plays with 4 players

My issues with this game aren't anything to do with the controversial board.
I had some doubts about the board initially, but they went away upon playing the game. It's really not the deal breaker some people are making out to be.
Yes they probably should have gone with a different sized box to fit a folding board, but it's not something that gets noticed by anybody I've played with during play.

Rather my issues come from teaching the game. I've played it with gamers and none gamers, and every game has been a challenge to teach the rules. There's just something unintuitive about it, I feel. It all looks so simple on paper, I don't understand!

However after about half an hour everyone seems to get into it, and then a fun time is had by all.

The flicking aspect is the best part of the game, but I'm terrible at it! Every time I flick it's 50/50 wether I waste my turn. "Lost in Space"! Funny. But it seems to be good equaliser. Some people are not so hot on the strategy, but their flicking is great!
The flicking is only about 20% of the game though. Most of your turns will see you expanding your empire in different ways.

Could be the best game ever for some folks. But for me, it's good but I would love to get my hands on Catacombs somehow as it's the flicking aspect which is great.




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75. Board Game: Lancaster [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:161]
Neil Cook
United Kingdom
Burton on Trent
Staffs
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A strong month for "new-to-me" games meant this is one of the most difficult months I can remember for choosing a "winner". I've picked Lancaster because, I suspect, it's freshest in my mind having only played it last night. But any of the following 6 games could conceivably have won this month...

6 Games made up the nomination list, and there wasn't one that I didnt enjoy greatly.

Ricochet Robots

A really fun 'mind-bender' of a game. Try and move a specific robot to a specific place on the board, with only walls and other robots to bounce off. Spatial awareness is an absolute must for this game. A degree in trigonometry wouldn't go amiss either

1655: Habemus Papam

A pure bling bidding game, but very nicely done and with just the right amount of screwage for this type of game. Bid on cards, which form pairs (generally) which in turn give you influence in your quest to become elected pope.

Barons

This has its roots firmly in San Juan, Race for the Galaxy, et al. Do you use your cards to place as lands, thus increasing your options to draw more cards through taxation, or do you play them for their function.

Black Gold

Over-produced yet extremely nice to look at, this game see you trying to make the most money from the Texan oil fields. Try to keep your transportation moving, while at the same time being able to discover wells with your truck and also collecting deeds (or whatever the in game bidding currency was called!) made for an interesting balancing act.

Key Market

I've enjoyed all the Key games I've played, and this one didnt disappoint. The game allows for a certain amount of planning as yuo're able to see what won't produce over the next season. Worker placement/management game, with the guilds providing the variety required to prevent players following similar goals to victory.

Senet

An interesting 2 player race game. Get your 4 pawns off the board before your opponent does, by throwing 4 wooden sticks. The twist is if yuo can't move the required number of spaces, you must move back the required number instead.

Lancaster

I played with the full compliment of 5 players, which I would think is its best number. There's actually not much thats new here. Worker placement, direct conflict, indirect conflict, voting, upgrading.... its all here. Meshed together into a remarkly smooth efficieny test.






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