New to you December 2011 => Best new boardgame
Andy
United Kingdom
Stockport
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Happy New Year to All...


So what new board and card games did you play in December 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.

- Play any new games for Christmas? or any games from your Secret Santas?


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): December 2011
New to Your Kids December 2011 - the best games you've played for the first time with children (and why)
Videogames New To You December 2011
Your best gaming experience of the month and why Dec 11
New to you a year ago Dec 11 => Has it stood the test of time?
Games only YOU have played in December 2011
Out of the Dust, December 2011
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76. Board Game: Lords of Vegas [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:337]
Kendahl Johnson
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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This was the best month I've had all year for new board games. I had a time this year where I went to the dark side (video games), but I saw the error of my ways and returned to the light. I'm making more of an effort to play my unplayed games and to either make it to game night or host my own, perhaps even recruiting some new players.

My friend Lee introduced Lords of Vegas to me. We got a few rules wrong but I still loved it. It's everything I'd want from a Vegas themed game. It's the first game in a long time I went out and bought after playing. I rate it an 8/10 and that's only because I try to never rate a game higher than 8 after one play. Probably will rise to a 9 or 10 upon multiple playings.

A close second was Hive. I love the portability. I love the amount of thinking packed into a 15 minute game. I don't want to play this all the time but it's about as perfect a two-player abstract as you can get. 8/10

I bought into the hype and bought Kingdom Builder. I'm very happy I did. For what it does - a light area control game that sets up quickly, explains in five minutes, plays in 30 minutes and plays a little differently every time - I couldn't ask for more. It's accessible to the family. I haven't taught my wife yet but plan to. 7.5/10

Samarkand: Routes to Riches is another great purchase. It does a lot of the same things right that Kingdom Builder. Explains quickly, gives you some interesting choices and plays in 30 minutes of so. Our first game was over too quickly (I basically just went around and established relationships with one family until all five tiles were gone and game ended) but savvy players would have prevented me from doing that. Neither of my opponents has ever played before either. I want to try it with four and five players but I think it has terrific potential. The downside is the setup... 7.5/10

Cargo Noir is a game that I think gets a lot of bad press. I rather enjoyed my one playing. It was three player and I think adding two players would make it even better. But as it were i was presently surprised how much I enjoyed it. I give it a solid 7/10.

The only new game I disliked was Infinite City. I thought it was a horribly random game. I thought there would be elements of strategy but there wasn't really...it was just all about messing with your opponents when you can.
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77. Board Game: Rheinländer [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1177]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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End of the year, no gaming club, no time and energy (not even for taking photos), not too many new releases. At least I could play some of my own unplayed games – save for the Dice Town extension all these new to me games were games that I own.

Rheinländer 2x
While Tigris & Euphrates takes one idea or two from Acquire, two 1999 Knizia games are really about 40% Acquire (the other one being Stephenson's Rocket). I wouldn't call them Acquire clones or "Knizia's Acquire" (Sorry John ) but their connection to the Sid Sackson classic is obvious. Out of the 3 games the other two games are really deep, strategic and rather heavy. Rheinländer is quite light compared to them; it's not even that deep - but I'm not sure it's not the most fun of them.
First, I love some of the ideas - for example, the geometry of the two paralel lines with the potential to be connected near the end of the game, or that while you place the Knights to the places indicated by the cards, the "enforcement" rule makes it less luck-dependent and more strategic than Acquire in this sense. The fact that you don’t have shares here but clear majorities also makes it more fun and accessible for non-gamers. It's also a very Knizian twist that you need big duchies to be able to protect them, but in the end of the game the more duchies you have the more points you get... Stephenson's Rocket is a great (although a bit dry) game, T&E is a timeless classic but Rheinländer is so fun... that everyone demanded a replay when we tried it. We played it once again and everyone liked it. 7.6

Einauge sei wachsam! 1x

Captain One-Eye is a relatively unknown Kramer/Kiesling card game that is a bit overproduced for what it is (it comes in a Carcassonne-sized box while this could fit in a Kosmos 2-player box even if it's not a strictly 2-player game). It's a nice card game, nothing revolutionary or special but it plays fine (you can try it online at www.yucata.de). I don't say this will be played a lot in the coming years but it still has a potential to become a filler game that we bring to the table once in a while. 6.8

Mole Hill 1x

Mole Hill is a very short and light abstract filler game from Reiner Knizia from the ’90s when he was still experimenting with the classic checkered board and the classic abstract games. It’s a bit like Quoridor with one player moving the maul and the other one placing the walls (and then changing roles in the second half of the game). It’s nothing revolutionary or extra but still it was enjoyable and it seems the tactics of the gardener are not as obvious as it seems first. Right now I rate it only 6.5 but as soon as I start to find some of its possibilities it’s probable that I’m going to rate it higher.


Expansions:
Ticket to Ride Map Collection – Team Asia 1x

I have already rated François Valentyne’s Legendary Asia an 8 in October. But now, as we spent some quality time with family, I had the opportunity to play the Team Asia map (by Alan R. Moon) with family. And I must say that it’s not only the map that’s fine but this team play aspect brought back the feeling of my very first Ticket to Ride games. I still like playing Ticket to Ride but haven’t felt the first dozen play’s extreme excitement, enthusiasm and FUN in years. Team Asia brought this great feeling back. Even though you need exactly 4 or 6 players, I say Team Asia is the best Ticket to Ride game since 2005. 9

Ticket to Ride Map Collection – India 2x
I have played the Switzerland map years ago (luckily that was someone else’s copy). But now I bought this expansion and played Ian Vincent’s India. The Mandala scoring gives an interesting touch to the game. It makes the game rather cutthroat and cruel as intentions of making one large circle on the map are obvious. I'd say it makes it more of a gamers' game without having the extra rules complexity of Märklin, the other gamer-y entry in the series. Also it's one of the very few TtR maps without tunnels – it feels a bit drier than most maps (it can be felt that it’s not a Moon design) but it's a really strong one; I prefer this one over the other (very good) map contest winner, Legendary Asia. 8.3

Dice Town extension 1x
When I played Dice Town with the expansion, two players didn't really understand the text on the cards and two players played without thinking at all. The large luck factor combined with these people made this one a pure luck game that was also quite long. So I just can't tell if I have problems with this expansion (the game remains long, 6 players also make it longer, 6 players also means you're always going to take gold or money from Dr. Badluck; also quite often you get 2nd place reward so if you run out of money – which is easy here – then it's rather hard to get back in the game – as 6 players also means in most rounds the round ends after 1 or 2 re-throws). I didn’t like my one play, that’s sure. (Right now I’d say something like 5 but I’m not sure that would be fair).


Children’s game:
Orchard 3x

For Christmas my 3-year-old son got a board game present: Orchard. He already owns The Little Orchard which he likes and I also think that game is probably the most interesting game offered for 3-year-olds, using all their knowledge and creativity. So I bought the “big bother” for him – and quite interestingly, from an adult’s perspective, this one is a bit weaker. It's still great for this age and my son also enjoyed picking the 4 different fruits from the trees and creating the raven puzzle. But while the small version has a strong memory element and a little (very basic) deduction, this game is an almost pure luck dice roller. But well, I like playing 99% pure luck dice rollers with my son. thumbsup
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78. Board Game: Tobago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:309]
Michael Szymanski
Germany
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Tobago


Fun game with great machanics. The rules could be clearer but it is still easy to learn and has lots of replayability. I will probably play it very often.

7 Wonders


I wanted to play this for some time and now I got the chance. It plays fast, almost no downtime and there are lots of paths to victory. Although I think that you sometimes have no chance of winning if the cards are bady distributed. Still makes lots of fun.

Kreta

Good area majority game. You have to play clever and look forward that you are not suddenly surprised by a scoring card from your opponents. I like it.

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork

Nice majority game. The cards may make it very random at times. I like that each player has a different goal but some are more difficult to achieve. It's a nice game with fantastic artwork but probably needs a little more finetuning.

Käse Kaos

My nephews loved it and me too. It is a clever dexterity game and as it is for children it is easy to learn.
You throw three dice and have to get these pieces of cheese with a plastic spoon from inside the big cheese which is made from the box and some extra pieces. There might be a cat as well. Then you try to get your mouse out of the cheese as fast as possible.

Dragonheart

Works fine. It's maybe little more complex than Lost Cities which is still fine as this is very easy as well. There's some luck involved but thats fine as I could play this with my seven year old nephew and he was really good.

Alhambra: The Card Game

I prefer Alhambra the board game but this is a nice version for beeing away and not having too much to carry with you.
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79. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:10]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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After three games, I love Eclipse. As most people reading this will know, it's a space empire "4X" game. All my games have been 4 player, taking 2.5-3.5 hours. The mechanics are so elegant, and the theme works so well. This isn't a game where you are struggling with the rules or gaming the system-- the theme takes over, you think about the design of your ships and the threats facing your empire, and use the game to put your plans into practice without the rules seeming like an obstacle to overcome. Yet the rules themselves are elegant, and the mechanisms seem very robust and Euro-like, so the game seems well-balanced and worth playing seriously as a game. Lots of strategies suggest themselves already, and I haven't even tried the aliens races yet. The game is obviously ripe for expansion, and I say, bring it on! Even though I only discovered it at the end of 2011, I think this is my favourite game of 2011, one I hope to play throughout 2012 and beyond! (9)

I finally got to play God's Playground a couple of times, a game which has been pretty popular at my Epsom club. This Martin Wallace war-game sees plays ostensibly co-operating in defence of Poland, but actually you are just trying to get more fame relative to the other players. It's quite a complex game, with 16 phases per turn and quite a few fiddly rules, takes a couple of plays to get your ahead around them. Doing well, and gettings VPs, can be quite counter-intuitive. Even on my second game I found myself playing moves then immediately realising they couldn't help me and would only help my opponents. So the potential to be frustrating, but for now the game keeps me thinking about it and wanting to come back to it-- I want to crack it! (7.5)

PAX is a clever card game with an ancient Rome them: a little longer than a filler, with some very nice mechanisms. There seem to be various routes to victory and things to think about. Easy to pick up but certainly one I can see rewarding several plays, and one I would definitely like to play again after my one play this month. (7.5)

Biblios: One play of this new filler, which I enjoyed. It has two parts (a little like For Sale, but rather deeper than that game), and it a nice fit when you need a slightly longer filler. Difficult choices to make about which cards to keep, buy, and bid for-- clever and clean mechanics. (7)

Epäillyt is a Finnish detective game-- not a genre I'm a great fan of, but I liked my one play of this. Quick-playing, so doesn't outstay its welcome, and has a good balance of deduction, guessing your opponents' psychology, and an old-fashioned race to the finish. So if other people want a detective game, I'm glad I can pull out Epäillyt-- I'll enjoy the play, and it will be over quickly enough to play something else too. (6)

Just one two-player game of the card-game Innovation-- it seemed very swingy and random based on that one play, with a very serious runaway leader problem. No doubt experience with the game would alleviate that problem, but I'm not sure I'll play this enough to get that far. Nothing particularly grabs me about the game, but if time and opportunity presented itself I'd be happy to give this one a few more plays and see what develops. Rating perhaps a very tentative (6).

Finally, in December I also played a couple of older games that my brother appeared with from the attic. Who Knows is a simple general knowledge game from 1930, but with nice questions that have stood the test of time; Astron is actually a fun game of piloting spacecraft with a movable board-- I enjoyed it. Great components, especially for a game from the 1950s. Too much luck in the cards, but fun for a Christmas game with the family: retro appeal and you don't have to think too hard.

EDIT: I missed out Days of Steam which I also played once in December. As a light game with a Carcassonne feel and a thematic pick-up-and-deliver mechanic it was quite good. It didn't really like the dice that you have to throw when rushing round corners, although I see why it's there in the rules. Maybe just a little slow-playing for what it is. (6)
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80. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:11]
Andrew H
United States
Wisconsin
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Well, few will be surprised by my winner, but of the "new to me" games I played last month, this was it. I was really surpised by how much I liked the auctions, as I usually don't. I really liked how the game was balanced, letting the last place players get first chance at the raw materials kept our game even until the last round or two. And after playing this for the first time, I kept on thinking about the game, and what I would do the next time I play, a good sign that it's good.

Lords of Vegas was a close second. I played this more times then Power Grid, and had almost as much fun. Again I really liked how it kept the game even until near the end. The theme is great for the randomness, and the game would be good with gamers who tastes range from luck to resource management. I think this might replace Settlers of Catan as my gateway game.

Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game is third last month. I really wanted it to be higher, and can't quite figure out why it didn't grab me as much. I think our game took too long, mostly due to one player who didn't quite get it. I do want to give it another chance, as it seems to be my type of game, but it will be a little time, since the above two were such hits.

1st & Goal came in fourth of the new games. It is actually a pretty good football/dice simulation, and would probably be great with two players. With four, the down time was a little too high, and while the components are great (love the magnetic board) I had a ton of trouble doing the math on the field.
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81. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:146]
Barteus Maximus
United States
Parsons
Kansas
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It was a big "new-to-me" month.

A Few Acres of Snow
Very interesting deck-building mechanic. Each side has its advantages and weaknesses. Even with a first play, many different options presented themselves. Looking forward to many more plays.

Eminent Domain
Our group described this as a blend of many other games: Race for the Galaxy, Glory to Rome being the main two. Deck building mechanic. We didn't go military the first play. Once again, with a first play, there seems to be many routes to take in this game.

Dungeon Lords
This was the first play for our entire group, so there was some blundering around and figuring out the mechanics. I like the theme, but it seems the game is punishing for wrong moves (such as not having enough money for taxes). Repeated plays will no doubt help, but this would a tough game to introduce to a new player and have them be competitive.

Innovation
I highly regard Glory to Rome, and also civ-lite type games, so I had high hopes. But, it didn't quite click like I thought it would. It didn't really feel like a civ discovering innovations - the theme seemed a bit pasted on. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable game, just not as much as I originally expected.

Charon Inc.
You gather gems to buy buildings. Would be cool if the buildings did something, but they were just victory points. A good game for a social/gateway group, but not enough to keep my serious gamers interested for a second play.

Robber Knights
I'm not a big tile-laying gamer, so this game had a strike against it starting out. Theme is quite pasted on. However, the game really is a filler, and I find it acceptable for that. 15 minutes is fine, and this might make it out on occassion.
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82. Board Game: JAB: Realtime Boxing [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:1747]
Michael Scott
Canada
Lethbridge
Alberta
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d10-8I really enjoyed this one! I especially enjoy Gavan's art style, what this guy can do with Photoshop is ridiculous! You employ an interesting mix between dexterity, and strategy to win. It took my wife a few minutes to get into this one, but once she did the game got really interesting, with lots of back and forth, lots of laughter, and more than a little friendly trash talk.
Elder Sign d10-8 I really enjoyed this one! It felt a bit like AH; same theme of course, but it evoked the same stress watching that doom track fill up, and rushing and taking risks to try and keep that GOO at bay.

Belfort d10-7 I really enjoyed this one. I like worker placement, and area control so what's not to like . I also appreciate the lighthearted theme, and of course Josh's art is always top notch! My wife didn't really enjoy her play through, but it was late and she was tired, so hopefully she'll enjoy it more next time, and I will get to table this more.
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83. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:297]
Andrew
United States
San Francisco
California
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The Favourite
Eminent Domain is a bit rough around the edges (eg the almost unused resource distinction) but provides a decent twist to the Dominion-inspired deckbuilding genre with "improvement by use". (I wonder if there's a more focused game somewhere on that phenomenon.) I like the Homesteaders-style "pick what you want" technology, the lead/follow style of interaction, and the choice between colonising and conquest.

The Decent
I'm wary of negotiation games but the fairly elegant Santiago made it onto the list. The bribery and blackmail is fairly structured, ensuring that skillful play isn't swamped by diplomacy.

Monopoly Deal Card Game is actually a quick, high-screwage filler that's fairly decent.

The Indifferent
I played a lot of High Society on my phone due to its quick playtime, but while I might use it to practise memory and calculation, I don't find it especially fascinating.

Tikal on my phone is decent, but I just don't like area-majority games. Louis XIV also falls afoul of my mechanical preferences.

Incan Gold is super simple and super light; I figure I'll only play it when teaching newbies or as an ultra-light filler.

Dakota ended up being more diplomatic than I was comfortable with (especially as I was on the wrong end of the ganging up...). I'd try it again under very specific circumstances: everyone plays to win, the correct rules are unknown, and everyone plays briskly. (The last is something I always wish for...)
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84. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:114]
I can show you anything, on my belly belly belly screen. Skyscrapers! Taxicabs! Traffic Lights!
Canada
Caledon
Ontario
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5 new to me games in December, and 2 expansions.

Dungeon Lords

Wonderful worker placement game of second-guessing your choices. Colorful, and full of humour. Greatly enjoy the management of a dungeon against a rowdy group of drunk villagers.

Plays best with four, as you don't need to set up 'dummy' NPC's. One of the best games I've played this year.

Outpost

I mostly like Outpost with it's Power Grid-like auctions. Simple to learn game of optimizing your factories, workers, and special cards. Just don't fall behind like I did. You fall behind early and it is very difficult to catch up.

Plays up to NINE players.

Creatures: The Card Game

Bought off kickstarter.com on a whim, this is an entertaining little card game. Form creatures using a head, middle and end and send 'em into battle.

It's a nice fun game that is good for some laughs and I wouldn't hesitate to play with the kids.

Yahtzee Deluxe Poker

Last Chance is a suprisingly good dice and betting game. The betting is simultaneous and basically just everyone screaming and egging on their opponents to bid higher or chicken out.

You can then side-bet on whether someone will successfully roll their card or not. Fun game if you can get a copy.

The Logo Board Game

A trivia game of recogizing products and answering questions on them. It's...... OK. It does play quickly as you must move your pawn around the board to the goal and correctly answering certain colour questions will allow you to skip some spaces.

It ia USA-based, so for me a fast food question about Sonic or Jack-in-the-Box is going to be pretty tough for me.

7 Wonders: Leaders

The Leaders expansion mixes neatly into the base game without detracting too much from it. For me, I'm happy playing with or without it, but it does add a bit of variation.

Vexation

Mini expansion for Transamerica adds some individual coloured tracks that only you may use - other players must build around if they need to get past. Again, sort of a take-it-or-leave-it, as the base game is just fine for me. Adds some nastiness that is otherwise lacking.




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85. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:50]
Alex G

Philomath
Oregon
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Stone Age isn't actually new to me, to be fair. But the first time I around I disliked it, and gave it little chance (two games, not under the best conditions). On re-acquiring it, I discover it's still a little simple and a little repetitive and a little luckish, but it's a good game, in many ways, and perhaps my favorite worker placement.

Mage Knight: the Board Game has many issues, and the full game is simply TOO LONG, but there is a lot of interest in it, too. Needs more exploration.

Castles of Burgundy: I wish I liked it more. Too constrained, and too long for what it is.

Mondo is way too simple to have much replay or use. Too bad, a Galaxy Trucker that I liked better would be a good thing.
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86. Board Game: Dawn of the Zeds (first edition) [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:2716]
Alita The Heretic
United States
Seattle
United States
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I played this 5 times and got eaten 4 of them !

A hard game if you like solitaire games and of course the kind of awful theme, but also a good game of resource management and difficult decisions.
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87. Board Game: Torres [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:282]
Quinn Munnerlyn
United States
Carrollton
Texas
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A little late this month with my addition.

I got a good many new to me games in despite not getting in quite as much gaming as I normally do this time of year.

Torres tops the list. I have been told my enjoyment for other action point games makes this a good match for me and they were right!

Other games I enjoyed nearly As much

Outpost
JAB: Realtime Boxing
Notre Dame

Several titles I found to be adequate.

Nefarious
Infinite City
Pastiche

A couple did not meet expectations for one reason or another.

Ra: The Dice Game
Airships
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88. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:149]
Adam Thyssen
Canada
St. Thomas
Ontario
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Fittingly, given the time of year, my favourite games this month have all been ones that I played with family.

I had been holding off on picking up Acquire, hoping to pick up a copy of the 3M version to help increase my meagre collection of bookshelf games. But my patience is apparently limited, and I picked up a copy of the AH version in a recent math trade. It was a slow build on the appreciation, as my mother didn't quite grasp that no-one "owned" the hotels, and that anyone could buy stock in any hotel. But once that hurdle was cleared though, the appreciation steadily grew. So much so that we just played again tonight and my mother managed to win the game handily. And now that I know everyone enjoys it, we can upgrade from this serviceable, but forgettably produced edition.



Cargo Noir
When Cargo Noir was first announced, I was enamoured with the artwork and fully intended to buy a copy on its release. Then I started hearing the reviews and I reconsidered... The more I thought about it, the criticisms levelled against the game - lack of integrated theme and overall lightness in particular - really weren't going to be issues playing with family. As a group that still loves to play Settlers and Alhambra, Cargo Noir could fit right in - especially given the quality of the artwork and components. I'm so happy that I picked it up, as we're now three games in and I've loved every play. If there was ever a game that proved that the group makes the experience, this is it. Cargo Noir will likely never see the light of day with my gamers group, but will no doubt continue to please when played with family. Now if I could just figure out how everything is supposed to fit into that insert...



Poseidon's Kingdom
We only managed one play of PK on Christmas day, but it certainly set the stage for more this coming year. It uses the same mechanic of tile laying that we appreciated in Antics!, but also features a novel big wave with a whole lot of dice - which never fail to entertain when playing with my family. A number of poor creatures got eaten by the shark before we quite figured out what we were doing, and I think we might have made a mess of the end game, but it was still good fun and I'm looking forward to playing it again.
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89. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:338]
KYEO
United States
Silver Spring
Maryland
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We played this a few times with different groups. Mostly non-gamers or occasional gamers. I really liked this game. Don´t think I ever won it, but it is easy to get new players involved, the rules are straightforward, and the variety of setup gives good replayability.
Recommended!
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90. Board Game: Vanuatu [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:411]
 
Larry Rice
United States
Irvine
California
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Games I enjoyed playing:



My favorite new boardgame for December is Vanuatu. I really enjoy the whole action selection mechanism which is horribly unforgiving, particularly if you try to stretch too far and do too much...and end up being able to do nothing. Painful, but hilarious when this happens to someone else.



Coming in a close second would be Walnut Grove. I really enjoyed my first and only play and the interwoven aspects of tile placement (Carc) and the actions available in town with the aspect of having to be able to feed your workers and produce the goods you need. Plays fairly quickly too!



I also really enjoyed my three plays of Feudality. I have a pasted up German version. It is a bit random in that what is produced is dependent on the roll of two D8s (think X-Y chart for your fief production). Each person manages their own fief and has to maintain a fine balance between maintaining production values of five different goods (including food which you need to feed your troops and workers), your army, and point production tiles. My greatest concern at this point is that I sometimes fear the winner is going to be the person who gets the best luck in the dice rolling their castle location which can be lucrative for scoring points.



Flash Point: Fire Rescue is an enjoyable co-op where the theme comes across extremely well. Sometimes the game feels to easy, but just like Pandemic you can always ramp up the number of fires, etc. The expansion Skyscraper board has been particularly challenging thus far as in my two attempts I think one person has been rescued total (you need to rescue 7 to win ONE game). The other boards have so far proven much easier. I'm glad I have this one, but I'm not sure which I prefer yet between Pandemic and this one. Both are fine games.

I also really enjoyed my first play of Firenze and hope to give it another play soon. I'm curious to see just how efficient the bum rush of short tower building strategy is - if that continues to be effective, I expect this game will have a short shelf life for me. I also expect that this strategy can be countered.



Casa Grande fits the line of Ravensburger games which I enjoy pulling out for a lighter strategy game (Think Fits, Bits, San Marcos, etc). I enjoyed my play and seeing the board become built high was interesting. A score track would have been a much better idea than the stupid play money with odd denominations though (I understand the choice of the denominations, but they felt odd).

The Big Time! was a PnP game which my brother Garry constructed for me for Christmas. There is an interesting auction element in the game which involves some blind bidding of a sort which surprisingly does not irritate me. I'm not sure if there is enough volatility in the "stock market" of the value of the different type of acts, but the game is interesting and I do want to try it again.



Click Clack Lumberjack proved entertaining enough for a dexterity game of a different nature. Wouldn't need to play this often, but is a pleasant enough diversion and different type of dexterity game.

========================================================================

Games I prefer not to play again:

1st & Goal is a game I wanted to like, but ultimately did not enjoy. I probably want a bit too much realism than what the game was designed to provide. Didn't help that in my only play I turned the ball over 4 times, including twice inside the opponent's red zone. At least I was able to out-guess my brother Garry as I held him without a first down in the first half and he only scored one field goal. I won 6-3 in a snoozer.

Infarkt is another that I don't plan to play again. Initially, I thought it quite a clever "party" game, but the theme became a bit heavy for me as we were constantly fighting cancer, diabetes, and other diseases - felt a bit wrong that we were trying to invite other players over for parties to make their health worse so that they would die first. Eventually, I decided to murder a friend by inviting them to a party which then caused me to die of depression.

Seven Dragons is not something I ever want to play again. Didn't help that we played this one after we were mostly all depressed from playing Infarkt! I just never get excited about Looney Lab games and this was no exception. I also highly dislike games that add chaos just for chaos' sake or ones that allow you to force a trade with someone else of your whole hand. Ugh!

Hibernia - I'm not going to bash this game. I made a major goof in the quick read and instruct but suffice it to say that the mechanics didn't do enough to cause me to revisit the game. There are a number of positive reviews for this game on the Geek, but I'm glad to let them have their fun...

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91. Board Game: London [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:172]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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London is my favorite of the month. There's a lot to think about but it's not hard to get into. I've been beaten pretty badly both times I played, but I want to go back for more.

The only other game was Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries. Well, it certainly was... Ticket to Ride. I got it for my girlfriend, mainly because she wanted purple trains. I'm not a fan of the random aspect of the tunnels, and I think if you're required to use locomotives for ferry routes, the rule about only taking one card when it's a locomotive should be revoked.

Next month, hopefully the rest of my Christmas haul will get played: Twilight Struggle; Navegador; Star Trek: Fleet Captains; Black Cross, Blue Sky; and Game of Thrones.
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92. Board Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:332]
Jason Birzer
United States
Burke
Virginia
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Wow, this was the month of new board games, with only one old board game play this month.

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork was half of my Secret Santa gift and I got to play two games of it over the holidays. It might take a few more to get games to be real competitive so that people get the feel for all the roles. People here at BGG felt that the Vimes role was too easy to win with, but given all the activity to keep track of, I think it would be hard to get through the deck. It is lighter weight than London, but I think I can get enough interest in this to get a good amount of plays in.

Urban Sprawl: I did a short game just to get a feel for the mechanics. One thing I can say is that playing the short game is pretty worthless other than learning the mechanics. Not enough happens in the game, and I got stuck with a run of events in the City deck that made that phase go too quickly. Also, we only had one VP placement on the board, which made scoring pretty static. That being said, I want to get it on the table more often.

Quarriors!: So, basically a deck building game with dice? Interesting. Personally, I wonder if the game goes by too fast for any meaningful "deck building" decisions. I wouldn't mind playing it again.

Cargo Noir: A continuous bidding game. Overall, I felt it was pretty lightweight. Not something that I could see in my collection or even playing it a lot, but I could do an occasional game.

Tsuro: I've seen this played before, but it wasn't until New Year's Eve that I got a chance to play it. Basically people are playing path tiles on the board to keep their piece from either running off the board or running into someone else's piece. It doesn't get really interesting until the end when you are trying to find that one tile that helps you survive. Another lightweight game, but a lot of fun with a good group.

Timeline: Inventions: A game where you are given a series of inventions and are trying to play them in the right spot on the timeline. I enjoyed it, but I could see the replay value of this being rather limited.

Eminent Domain: A deck building game that I didn't really grok in my one play. Seems someone wanted to mix deck building with Race For The Galaxy, but take out a lot of the meat. My options seemed to be rather simplistic and I'm not sure it would hold my attention for long.
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93. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:38]
Matt Dodor
United States
St. Paul
MN
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Another Feld game of limiting choices through novel mechanics. This time it's mancala. This is the first Feld game in a long time (maybe ever) that I've been satisfied with the components - both size and artwork. Another thing that I really like about the Feld designs is the high point count. High points help with differentiation and selection between two actions and there's also that 'short chapters in a book' feeling of accomplishment when you round the 100 point line. More thematic than most Feld games, but that really isn't saying too much.

Thinking more about this game, I would say its closest relative is Die Burgen von Burgund. Instead of dice limiting your actions, you are limited by your choices on the mancala wheel. There is an increased game complication and an obvious increase in length. There may or may not be an increase in game control in Trajan since you can modify your dice rolls in dBvB with workers and acquired technology tiles. Pretty much every system in Trajan is more complicated when compared to its closest system in dBvB, an obvious exception is the combos created by castle and building tiles in dBvB.

My first impression as a Feld fan is that both of these games are worth owning. However, if you are not as diehard a Feld fan, you may want to consider one over the other. Your preference of game length, complication, and presence or absence of dice should guide your decision. If theme is an absolute dealbreaker for you I would suggest Trajan.

Rating: d10-8

I played a few more new to me games, but the only other one I feel like writing about is Québec


Quebec is a good looking lighter Worker Placement game with an important, but light, area control aspect. To another gamer, I would describe Quebec as a game developed from the mechanic of placing your worker on another's building in Caylus fleshed out into an entire game. If one completely ignores the offerings of others one will not do well; however one needs to look out for his interest first. The result is the game has a nice level of interactivity, that is for the most part, positive.

If you identify with the claim that Eurogames are too much of a solitary affair, I would highly recommend trying Quebec.

Rating d10-7

Games played but not discussed
Blockers d10-7
Pastiche d10-6
Belfort d10-6
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94. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:146]
Tom Hilgert
Germany
Unspecified
Bavaria
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Played a lot of games in December but mainly "older" stuff. So only 4 new games were left.

A few acres of Snowd10-8



When I saw the first time A Few Acres of Snow at the Gathering I was really interested to play it there,but there were a lot of rules in the Alpha-rulebook status.so I hoped to get an explanation,but all the people who played it said "well its an OK game,but..." so I passed on it. But then I got it for a good price here and gone through the rules of the finished product once more. I´ve been always interested in this unknown war since I´ve seen the "Last of the Mohicans" and deckbuilding is always fun. So well after playing this 3 times face-to-face and several times on Yucata its a very good game,but nothing outstanding. Its tense sometimes but not always. Its slow in progress so a First World War game with this engine would be nice too.
Played it yesterday on Yucata with the new rules and I think a lot of things changed now but I´m not sure if they did "in a better way.


Rapa Nuid10-6



Rapa Nui is a good game,which is OK, but nothing more. I played it as a two player and I´m really interested playing it once more with more players. Playing it with only one opponent leaves you ,ok if you are going for priests and Moais I go for the Hunter and Gatherers. I don´t know if there some more strategies after my first game. Maybe the box should persuade the people who are fans of the Kosmos two player series "Buy me". Some more development on this effort as a 2 player could have made this game one of the best Kosmos 2 player games.

so AFAOS was the only good game I´ve played and let us see my two disappointments

De Vulgari Eloquentiad10-5



I´ve been very keen about playing De Vulgari Eloquentia but the rules of the Lookout edition are a "Bleiwüste" (lead letters desert?) as we say in German. Absolutely no fun to read. So one member of my regularly game group took the job and she did it excellent. Well it took us 3 hours to play the game which is simply too long for this game. This is good example for a game which starts very well and then drags on and on and you are quite happy when its over. I don´t know why Lookout wanted to do the German version of this one,but the next time they should concentrate minimum doing it without errors on the board and components before publishing it. Nice idea but not satisfying.

Sorry Sildersd10-4



Sorry! Sliders was the disappointment of the month. Well its not Crokinole I know that but its just a boring game with very vague rules about scoring. Is touching the Sorry area enough that you are out. Is touching the higher number enough to get the higher score? I don´t know if it is enough for a family game. It reminds alot of all the Arxon and MB Plastic games which were published in 70s. Not recommended
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95. Board Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:332]
Gudjon Torfi Sigurdsson
Iceland
Isafjordur
Isafjardarbaer
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Three new games this month, out of 26 unique games played.

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork -

Bought the Collector's edition and don't regret it! Played four games of Discworld, three of them a 2 player game, the fourth was a 3 player game. Makes me want to play more multi-player games as in the 2 player games you can only target one player, but it's more fun to fight more!

It's a simple enough game, with players starting with 5 cards and then playing them during their turn and filling their hand up to 5 if needed (if they've got 5+ cards they simply don't draw a card). Each player has a hidden role/goal (gain majority in an area, have a minion in an area etc.) and the first one to fulfill his goal wins the game.

Great game and one I'm definetly playing more in the future, both because of the theme (I'm a Discworld fan) and how easy it is to play with gamers/non-gamers.

Axis & Allies -

I logged an incomplete game of this last year, when I set it up and played one round! Both of us were new to this game and it took quite some time to get used to it. This time I played it with two veterans and it went much more smoothly and we also managed to finish it. The Axis won, blame it on my inexperience as I managed to mess up India as the British!

This is a strategic WWII game where the world is divided into countries/areas that give players income. The income is used to buy units (land, sea, air) and then they have to make decisions on whether and where to attack and how to defend their areas. This is the revised edition which seems to be an improvement on the original (according to the veterans), can't tell myself. It was fun and we're actully planning a 4 player game tonight.

Back to the Future: The Card Game -

A chaotic game from Looney Labs, which comes as no surprise I guess?! Each player starts with a hidden role/goal and three cards in hand. Each turn he draws a card and either plays one card or draws another one. There are four rows of cards numbered 1-6 on the table that each player must change in order to make a correct timeline for his goal.

It was a fun game but still not something I'll play often. Mostly I got this one because I love the films, but the theme still doesn't make it feel anything like the films. I'll probably play it once in a while if the mood is right.
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96. Board Game: Peloponnes [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:452]
Chris Marling
United Kingdom
Cambridge
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Despite not going to any external gaming groups or playing any new games that friends had picked up, I got to play five shiny new games in December. One was a Secret Santa, two gifts from my dad and two gifts from me to me New Year's Resolution number one - buy less games! But I think I said that last year...

Peloponnes
This came from my Secret Santa and my girlfriend and I (Zoe) managed to get two plays in before year's end and both really liked it (she won twice, which helped its cause in the Zoe corner no end!). The Geek has it around 7.2, but I'd easily go 8 right now.
Two things got it so high on my list: the fact it apparently plays well (and is well thought out/implemented) solo, alongside reviews saying it has good tactical/strategic depth for a game that plays so quickly.
Ploppy knees (as it has been childishly dubbed in our house) is a tile game that plays fast: our second game was easily set up, played and put away in under an hour. But there are agonising decisions most rounds which can have really big consequences, plus some luck that can be absolutely savage (but may be able to be mitigated if you're clever enough).
Each round you will earn income (resources, population, cash); (hopefully) put out a building or land tile to expand your population; and face disasters/feeding rounds that will chop back your stock piles. The winning mechanic is clever, as you compare two different winning scores (prestige points from tiles bought vs population/cash) and score the lower total. It feels nasty like Agricola, but Civ enough to satisfy that need too. The only moan is the massive box - it could've been half the size.
While I haven't tried Peloponnes solo yet, I had a look at the rules and my hopes are high. It's fantastic to see someone taking the time to incorporate a computer game style level system for solo play, where you can move up through five different challenges as you complete each one.

Troyes
With four games, Troyes was my most played game of a relatively quiet December. It rates just below an 8 here and I'll go along with that - it was a close thing to choose between this and Peloponnes for top spot. I treated myself to it from Board Game Guru and I've played with both Zoe and my midweek group, all of whom enjoyed it.
It's about as euro as a euro can be, but the dice rolling adds a fun twist (they can be used and mitigated in interesting ways, so don't add too much of a luck element). With multiple ways to victory, a bit of screwage and some hidden info though, it really is a breath of fresh air and I can see it hitting the table a lot in 2012.

Hamburgum
I picked this up relatively cheaply (just £12 on Amazon), having failed miserable to find it in The Works, and after one play it feels as if it will be worth every penny and then some. Rated just over 7 on BGG, I'm giving it a tentative 8 after one play and again, on a worse month, this would easily have made top spot on my list. I'd wanted to play a 'proper' rondel game after loving Macao and enjoying Finca, so this was a great opportunity.
Again, I've only got to play this with Zoe so far (just one game and yes she won!). The rondel system seems fantastic, the components a real joy (actual stone stone, little metal bells that ring - that's attention to detail) and quick fire turns that keep the game moving. Again, I can see this getting plenty of table time and I look forward to introducing to my gaming groups.

Maori
A game I did manage to find at The Works for just £8, Maori is a game I enjoy on Yucata.de (but this is the first 'real' play) and one I thought Zoe might like. It rates over 6.6 here and I think that's about right - I'd go no higher than 7. However, at this price I couldn't say no!
Luckily, Zoe has enjoyed the two games we played so far, despite not winning yet (see - I do win sometimes!).
Another tile placement game, Maori is simple yet elegant and plays fast. You're taking tiles to fill your own player board, with restrictions on which tiles you are able to pick up depending on the resources you have (you move clockwise around a 4x4 grid of shared tiles, with tiles you've already taken defining how many spaces you're allowed to move around the edge and how deeply you can pick into the grid from the edge). It will be interesting to see how much the way we play changes as we begin to look more at what the other player needs rather than just at our own considerations. And for that, I can't see this being much of a game for more than two, but we'll see.

For Sale
Having seen this being enjoyed at games nights, I had to pick it up myself. Quick and dirty, and easily played after alcohol, this was a no-brainer for my two gaming groups! It ranks over 7 on the Geek, but its the kind of game I don't really see as fitting into the system: it's really well designed, serves a purpose and will always get good usage - it seems to exist outside or rankings and just be a staple that should be in every board gamers emergency kit.
I played one game two-player with Zoe (using variant rules found here) which wasn't satisfying, but gave me confidence in the rules (which are very basic) so I could teach it later. It came out about 1am on New Year's Day for a six-player game and went down really well. Job done.

Happy New Year everyone
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97. Board Game: In the Shadow of the Emperor [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:538]
John McKelvy
United States
Burlington
Vermont
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I got this one for Christmas after wanting to try it for many years. I am a history nut and the theme fascinates me. I knew it was a pasted-on theme going in, but how many other games about medieval Germany are there?

This one boils down to area-control. Players buy cards in sequence to determine how they can manipulate control points in the various electorates of the Holy Roman Empire. With two players, it becomes a very AP-prone, perfect-info brain burner. Not my thing at all. (I'd rather play LOTR: The Confrontation for that style of game.) I am reserving judgment until getting it to the table with four players. My theory: more players will add some chaos and make it more interesting.

Other than that, I cannot recall any new games in December. I did get a second play of Panic Station. Judging from the reviews and discussions, people either love this game or think it's broken and unplayable. For the time being, am in the "It works for me" camp. We played it on New Year's Eve with five new players and had a lot of fun with it.
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98. Board Game: Ora et Labora [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:48]
Carlos Ferreira
Portugal
Porto Salvo
Porto Salvo
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This month I've tried 4 new games (at least to me).

The best game was:
Ora et Labora


I enjoyed it, although I couldn't find it brilliant. It reminds a lot Le Havre, but I think there are some details that could be improved. The card size is clearly a problem. You can't read yours very well, so the others cards is completely impossible. The card boards thickness could be better and in terms of gameplay some ways to victory seems way better than others. Don't get me wrong, I'm an point regretted of having bought the game. It is a good game, but it's not Agricola or Le Havre.

King of Tokyo


Didn't enjoyed it. I've played the dice twice and I was out of the game. I can see that the game is quite fast and just for fun, but even though ...


I've played two more games that were new to me, but I need to play them again in order to have a good idea and rate for them.
They were: Empire of the Sun and Bullfrog Goldfield. In both cases I didn't finished the games although in Empire of the sun the end was near.
I could see great things on both games, but when I have the chance to play them again They will return to this list.

Have a wonderful 2012... full of games and friends.




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99. Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:168]
Zack Stackurski
United States
Mankato
Minnesota
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I love almost all games, play Boardgames with my wife, have three kids, generally enjoy cats and understand and like those bumper stickers with the little fishies sprouting legs.
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I had a great year for new to me games in 2011 with over 60 and I certainly ended with a bang in December with 8 new games over the holidays!

 


Rating 8 after 2 plays

I love me some Bloodbowl... and this isn't Bloodbowl. But the FFG team managed to capture just enough of the balance between strategically placing your players for success vs. hoping for that one good die roll (or flip of the token...) for victory to give this a Bloodbowl-y feel on top of the excellent components. I think I'll be sticking with Battleline for this kind of thing 2 player... but Team Manager will be seeing plenty of 3 and 4 player plays!



Rating 8 after 1 play (though I've played the "non-family" version several times...)

Say Anything Family Edition is a kind of a cheat on this list as the original is one of my favorite party games... and this is more or less the original in a blue box. The Northstar team did a great job of choosing the questions in this edition to make it more playable with younger players. Play this (or the one in the pink box) at your next party. You will enjoy it.



Rating 7 after 3 plays

I really like abstracts, so Hey, That's My Fish! is something I have wanted to try for quite a while. It did not disappoint as an excellent, quick, scalable abstract. My wife the abstract hater even enjoys it, so despite the setup taking almost as long as the game, this will has become one of my take everywhere fillers!



Rating 7 after 2 plays

Undermining looks great and has a quicker setup (with helping hands) than you might think with all those tokens. My first play with 4 was really great as we mined something like 5/6's of the asteroid and had several races to the refinery happen to add suspense. But the second game was done before we'd even dug a third of the way through the asteroid and seemed to be over before we could really start enjoying it... I think that will have a lot to do with what order the contracts come out and the board setup... myh enjoyment of the game might be more tied to the variable board than I would like... but I think those cute little UMV's will be begging for more plays to find out!



Rating 7 after 1 play

Travel Blog is really a geography quiz in a box... but it still is a very fun light game even for (especially for?) people who's grasp of geography mostly consists of phrases like "I know the Czech Republic is in eastern Europe somewhere..." Worth a shot as a nice change up filler-ish game and you can't lose with it on sale at Funagain for $10!



Rating 7 after 1 play

Battleball is entirely more fun than it has any right to be. You don't know how far your guys are going to move... you never know when a block is going to succeed (though at least you can play the odds there...) and moving only one guy per turn means they can't support each other as much as you would like... but rolling all those dice and moving the ball around the field is exciting! If nothing else its a fun way to get kids interested in tactical movement games.



Rating 6.5 after 1 play

Fish Stix is Ingenious made light enough for 4 year olds to play. Playes play the fish stick pieces adjacent to other stix to form rows of fish of the same color and swimming the same direction to score points for that kind of fish. The first play to score 10 points for each kind of fish (or less for shorter games... or all on one board for a cooperative game...) is the winner. This makes it a great kids/family game with more decision making and planning than I first expected... but for adults you'll be better off playing actual Ingenious or perhaps Qwirkle as the in game bonus goals (Ingeniousing or Qwirkling) give you a bit more to strive for turn to turn.



Rating 5.5 after 1 play

Bean Trader is a strange game. You can't help but think you'll be playing Bohnanza with a board when you set it up... but there seems to be less trading here than you would expect... at the same time we felt we did less picking up and delivering than we expected as well... perhaps that's due to this being a surprisingly short game (in turns... not actual time)... or because all the rules didn't really click for most of us until the mid-game. So I'll give this another shot sometime to see if there is more here than we thought... but I think there is a reason this is one of Mr. Rosenberg's less popular titles...
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100. Board Game: Shipyard [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:326]
Paul Goodsell
United States
Hilsboro
United States
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21 new games played in December, out of 45 games and 59 plays. Most were only played once, not enough to form a solid opinion.


Shipyard. One of the other players said after the first game "Wow, that was fun! We need to play it again!" My thoughts exactly. We played again the next night and would probably played two more times if I didn't take off for the final week of the month. Great integration of theme, lots of good choices and potential strategies.


Mage Knight Board Game. The other contender. I only got to play the learning game, which felt like it ended too soon. Looking forward to playing the full game.


New World: A Carcassonne Game. This game makes only a couple of changes to the base game of Carcassonne but completely changes its dynamic. There are fewer points made at end game making this version more tactical than strategic. You start of with one fewer meeple but since they get removed from the board faster, you almost always have some in hand. As a consequence, this is a faster and higher scoring game than the original. Lots of fun.


El Grande. Just played the short game. Looking forward to more.


Deadwood. Just good fun. I like worker placement and this one provides more/better player interaction than most. Great integration of its western theme, beautiful pieces. Only production quibble is they should have provided players aid to learn all of the buildings.


Belfort. Great combination of worker placement and area majority. Great artwork and production. But overall, merely a good game.


Undermining. Fun, fast, light game. Don't spend too much time trying to improve your UMV or you'll fall behind.


The Bottle Imp. I was looking for a three player card game that would fill the niche Tichu does for four. Enjoyed the first play, and it looks like it will reward repeated plays.


Strasbourg. Good auction game with interesting mechanics. This is the third game I've played by Stephan Feld -- look forward to more from him.


Tikal. A little more thinky than most SDJ winners and that's a good thing. Beautiful game with great packaging and a lot of fun to boot.


Cartagena. Played once at a meetup. Took less than an hour with five people including explanation. Worth more play -- need to pick this up.


Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game. Too random for my primary gaming group. Too big to play with my family. Probably won't get to play this as much as it deserves. I thought it was a fun game that delivered on its theme.


Zombie Fluxx. The only version of Fluxx I've played. An okay bit of fluff.


The Red Dragon Inn. Another light bit of fluff. The owner suggests that it might make a good drinking game -- might have to try it.


Dungeon Raiders. Light, fast, fun little filler. The same guy who brought Zombie Fluxx declared this an awful game -- go figure.


Mr Jack in New York. I like deduction games but don't often get to play two player games. This is a good one in both regards.


Expédition Altiplano. Another of the two player games that I got to play this month. I loved the artwork and how the theme shined through. It played in half an hour which is about right for this take-that two person filler.


Dou Shou Qi (Jungle). Good little two-player abstract filler. Deserves some study to play well.


Cityscape. Beautiful abstract that plays quickly and provides some challenge. Love the chunky wooden pieces.


Warhammer: Invasion. I don't remember anything bad about this game but it reinforced for me that I'm a boardgamer and not so much into (collectible) card games.


Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game.
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