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New to me Sep 2020

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Village Green - 10 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Village Green


I picked this up on a whim as it's by Peer Sylvester and very cheap. Solo it's a little reminiscent of Sprawlopolis in speed and objective - building a spatial tableau from a hand of cards to satisfy various scoring rules. The big differences are twofold: the restrictions on spatial placement are much more stringent which makes it quite brain-burny, and you can change your scoring goals on the fly rather than having them set at the beginning. It makes for a neat 10-minute puzzle with a gentle theme and pleasant artwork.

My wife saw me playing solo and said it looked pretty, then *asked* to play on two different nights. Unprecedented! As you might expect from the description above, it's not massively interactive as a multiplayer - just a bit of hate drafting if you can be bothered. That's perfect for Sarah though, she enjoys working her own puzzle (and I enjoy doing it alongside her!)

The Fox in the Forest Duet - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: The Fox in the Forest Duet


This is nowhere near as interesting a co-op trick-taker as The Crew but it does a nice job of converting the feel of the original's special-powers into a co-op form. The basic idea is that a counter will move along a path towards the winner of each trick, with the number of spaces moved determined by the two cards played. You want to visit a number of specific locations while not venturing off the end of the track, so some co-ordination and judicious use of the powers is required.

Cathedral - 1 play -  6 
First Published 1978
Board Game: Cathedral


I'd never played this 70s abstract polyomino-game but it was quite pleasant, with some ideas seen earlier in Go and later in Blokus. The chunky wooden buildings are a big part of the charm though.

FlickFleet - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2018
Board Game: FlickFleet


A space battle dexterity game in which you flick plastic ships into position to fire missile dice at your opponent's fleet. Good fun and comes with a bunch of varied scenarios - clearly a labour of love.

RevoltaaA - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2015
Board Game: RevoltaaA


A Knizia card game I implemented on playingcards.io to give a try. The gameplay was as puzzling as the ducks v robots theme but I think there might be something there.

Upset Kakumei - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Upset Kakumei


535 - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: 535


A couple of recent Japanese climbing games Hanibal introduced me too on pc.io. 535 lets you add cards to other player's sets rummy-style as an alternative to beating them with a higher combo; while Upset Kakumei lets you reverse the direction so you can climb back down after climbing up. There are so many of these things now that I'm starting to get desensitised...

Kluster - 3 plays -  5 
First Published 2018
Board Game: Kluster


A bunch of strong magnets which you take turns to place inside a stringed-off area without attracting any others. Unfortunately you don't seem to be able to do anything cool with the magnetic properties; the only thing the magnetism does is make you lose.

Lucky Numbers - 2 plays -  5 
First Published 2012
Board Game: Lucky Numbers


An old Schacht game that's new to BoardGameArena. A bit Lost Cities-ish but not nearly as good.

----

I also played a couple of unpublished prototypes: Hanibal's nice climbing game mash-up; and the forthcoming trick-taker from the La Mame Games crew, of which more later!
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Thu Oct 1, 2020 1:59 pm
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New to me August 2020

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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An excellent month of new-to-me games!

The Field of the Cloth of Gold - 13 plays -  8 
First Published 2020
Board Game: The Field of the Cloth of Gold


With this following Northern Pacific, Tom Russell must be acclaimed as the master of agonising binary choices. FotCoG is worker placement stripped down to an atomic level with just two workers each and 7 action spaces, most of them minor variations of 'reveal a colour of tiles, score that colour'. But whichever action you choose (and often you'd rather choose none - there's a space for that too!) you must also gift a tile to your opponent. It's almost always a question of finding the least bad move and trying to set up your adversary for a poisoned choice of their own. All over in 20 minutes of exquisite pain, and you just know you'll be asking for an immediate rematch.

My City - 8 plays -  8 
First Published 2020
Board Game: My City


I tempered my expectations of Knizia's 'legacy' game after reading W Eric Martin's lukewarm review, but I needn't have worried. It's definitely not a game filled with narrative, nor with interaction, but I'm really enjoying the gradually-evolving polyomino puzzle. Even only two envelopes (of eight) in the competing trade-offs are getting delightfully difficult.

Watergate - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Watergate


There have been a lot of these distilled 2p historical CDGs in recent years but Watergate may turn out to be one of the best of them. I've only played twice, both times as the press, but I'm eager for more. The ops/events multi-use cards are familiar but here they're driving a multi-dimensional tug-of-war alongside a spatial-connection game representing a web of informants and evidence.

ドキッと!アイス (Dokitto! Ice) - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: ドキッと!アイス (Dokitto! Ice)


There are so many trick-takers coming out of Japan right now! This is another solid one though maybe lacking the spark of innovative genius I've seen in Taiki Shinzawa's designs.

Glasgow - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Glasgow


Unusual to find a resource-conversion engine-builder that I don't hate, but this one has the desirable attributes of being quick (sub-half-hour) and more interactive than usual (the players lay tiles to build a shared city, not individual parallel fiefs). The care that was taken to represent a diverse cross-section of the subject city is appreciated too.
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Sat Sep 5, 2020 8:03 pm
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New to me June 2020

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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The playingcards.io site has given me a way to try out some of the Japanese trick-takers I've been reading about without massive shipping fees or having to physically proxy a copy. And I've taken full advantage with four different ones by Taiki Shinzawa (新澤 大樹), co-designer of the excellent Maskmen, all of them very interesting!

American Bookshop Card Game - 5 plays -  8 
First Published 2019
Board Game: American Book Shop


This one's the simplest and feels like it could be a Knizia. The crux is that tricks end early if the total value of cards reaches 15, with the player who breached that total taking the cards. If you stay below 15, it's high-card wins as normal. The dickishness comes in because you only score positive points for cards in suits you have the (sole) majority of, everything else is negative. Brilliant!

Time Palatrix - 3 plays -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Time Palatrix


And this is the most brain-twisting! Tricks are played in batches of 3 at a time. While *playing* cards to tricks, you have to follow (if possible) the suit that was first played to that trick. But when *resolving* them after everyone has played three cards, that might not turn out to be the lead suit of the trick at all! e.g. three blues and an orange in a trick where blue was played first, but when resolving the player who put the orange down wins the trick before so they 'lead' the orange and the blues are all throw-aways.

Zimbabweee Trick - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Zimbabweee Trick


Dois - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2014
Board Game: Dois


These two are the most similar as they entangle each trick with previous ones, meaning you have to plan your run really carefully. In Dois the numbers and colours are on separate cards, of which you have one of each in front of you to show what you played to the trick. But you only get to play one card each trick, so you can only change either number or colour.

Zimbabweee doesn't have suits, just a Pairs deck (1x1, 2x2, 3x3... 10x10) and you have to follow number. But the tricks stack, so if you play 3 in the first and 7 in the second, that's 73. By the 12th trick you can hit the trillions! And the player who wins most tricks goes bust, High Society style.

Origin of Failing Water - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2005
Board Game: Origin of Failing Water


Another Japanese trick-taker, but not a Taiki. It's a bit like Palatrix in that you play the tricks backwards before resolving them forwards, but the lack of any follow rule in the playing meant less control and shenanigans.

Tea Time - 5 plays -  6 
First Published 2012
Board Game: Tea Time


This is about as complex a game as I can tolerate learning on BGA (i.e. not very complex at all!). It's not a bad little set-collection thing which amuses for the 10 minutes it takes.
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Wed Jul 1, 2020 10:24 am
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New to me Jan 2020

Martin G
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Bristol
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I'm trying to focus on new games a bit less this year. January was a decent start, with only three.

Wavelength is excellent and likely to be the favourite big-group closer with my group for a while. The premise sounds a bit odd: try to give a clue that indicates a specific point on a spectrum between two extremes - 'hot vs cold', 'overrated vs underrated' etc. What makes it brilliant is the debates that ensue and what you learn about your fellow players along the way.

Small Indigo Plant is a curious little 2p microgame that reminded me in part of Circle the Wagons and part of NMBR 9. Needs more play to see how clever it is.

TEAM3 PINK is a co-op/team party game where one blindfolded player tries to build a structure out of blocks that another non-speaking player can see a picture of. The third player interprets the sign language of the latter into instructions for the former. I could live without playing it again.
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Sun Feb 2, 2020 9:27 pm
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New to me November 19

Martin G
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Bristol
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What a great month!

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine - 5 plays -  9 
First Published 2019
Board Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine


This is probably going to be my game of 2019 and I wrote it up in full here: Join The Crew -- for trick-taking pros and newbies alike!

Babylonia - 3 plays -  8 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Babylonia


I really enjoyed my three plays of this new, fairly meaty Knizia. It seems to have some DNA from Samurai (hand-management of a personal deck of tiles, area majority around cities), Blue Lagoon (racing to make and cut off connections, multiple scoring categories) and even Taj Mahal (scoring networks and 'goods' repeatedly as they increase in size).

I suspect this will replace Blue Lagoon for me, as the scoring is more interdependent and the tempo more interesting, and I've already seen that a variety of different approaches to scoring can be successful.

Hurlyburly - 4 plays -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Hurlyburly


I was asked if this is "just silliness or a genuine game?", to which my answer is that it is a very silly genuine game!

The idea here is that you're each building your own Rhino-Hero-style tower out of folded cards, but you also have the opportunity to catapult blocks at your opponents' towers and capture useful building material from the rubble. The 'catapults' are just cards stuck into a plastic stand and with another plastic clip to hold the block in place, but they work surprisingly well!

There are some 'genuine game' options in that each turn you have to choose between building your own tower higher, firing at others, improving your catapult (you can add extra thicknesses of card which make it stiffer and more accurate) or building defences in front of your tower.

We laughed a lot!

Guess Club - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Guess Club


A party game in which each round you have to think up six examples for a chosen category (we had 'characters from the bible', 'superheroes and villains' and 'games that can be played with 8 players' for example) and write them on your hand of cards. Your aim is to pick things that other players will also have picked, but not ones that are so obvious that everyone will have picked them.

Each turn, a player chooses one of their cards to reveal; anyone else who wrote the same thing discards it and the active player scoops the current pot of money. But if no one had a match, instead they pay into the pot.

If you're not feeling confident of a match, your other option is to place a bet on *how many* successful matches will be found before the round ends (which is when any player is out of cards).

This was a lot of fun and we played a second game as soon as we'd finished the first.

The Mind Extreme - 5 plays -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: The Mind Extreme


I think of this more as an expansion than a whole new game, and that's perfect for me as I've played the original game a bunch and find that we can regularly win it.

Here you have two colours of cards, each running 1-50. They're all mixed together, so you'll have a mixture of whites and reds in your hand. They need to be played on to two separate piles, the whites in ascending order and the reds in descending. Everything else is the same as the original, except that on some of the levels one or both piles have to be played face down!

It's a great extra challenge and we had a ton of fun, but I wouldn't recommend it as a first Mind experience.

Letter Jam - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Letter Jam


I thought this was a very clever idea that maybe wasn't quite as fun as I'd hoped. It seemed quite easy to give clues that let the other players figure out their letter in one attempt - there wasn't much deduction needed. I believe there are ways to increase the difficulty though, and I've got a copy coming so I will play more soon.

5211 - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2019
Board Game: 5211


I'd played this before as 5 COLORS and I'm not sure why it's a separate entry. The only difference I noticed was less functional graphic design (the yellow used is near invisible). Either way, it's a fun little simultaneous-play speculation thing.

Conspiracy - 1 play -  6 
First Published 1973
Board Game: Conspiracy


This has recently got the Restoration Games treatment (superfluous player powers ahoy!) but we played the original (1973) version. Eight 'agents' move around a network trying to pick up a briefcase and return it to the player's home city. But no player 'owns' an agent, you just each secretly invest in them behind a screen. So any move one player makes with an agent can be challenged by another, with an auction resulting. Would like to try it again now I've seen how it plays out.

Point Salad - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Point Salad


Extremely simple and rather bland drafting game. Each card is one of six types of salad ingredient on one side and one of 100 different scoring goals on the other. Each turn you draft either one scoring goal or two ingredients. The goals are nothing exciting - just variants of "5VP per pair of tomatoes", "10VP for most carrots" etc.

Nine Tiles Panic - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Nine Tiles Panic


Cute and quick but it's still just everyone working their own simultaneous puzzle, which isn't my favoured style.

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale - 1 play -  4 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Cartographers


Speaking of which, this is a generic Tetris-filling 'flip and write' with the supposed novelty of introducing 'interaction' by having some of the shapes filled in by an opponent on your pad.
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Sun Dec 1, 2019 3:56 pm
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New to me October 19

Martin G
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Bristol
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Two elderly Knizias - how uncharacteristic of me

Clash of the Gladiators - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2002
Board Game: Clash of the Gladiators


Clash of the Gladiators has a sub-6 geek rating and is seen as an atypical 'Knizia does Ameritrash'. But actually its clever use of dice probabilities is very Knizian.

You each draft 4 teams of 4 gladiators form the different types available: swordsmen give you extra dice, spears let you roll first, prongs give you a re-roll, shieldbearers block hits and net throwers deactivate the other team's powers. Then you just go at it, taking turns to pick a target and chuck dice. There are also some wild animals in the arena to target and in a brilliant twist, if all your gladiators are eliminated you get to start controlling the animals! Great silly fun.

Euphrates & Tigris: Contest of Kings - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2005
Board Game: Euphrates & Tigris: Contest of Kings


I used the opportunity of my 40th birthday to finally convince a couple of friends to try 'T&E the card game', a long-time 'owned but unplayed'. And it's... fine. It hews so closely to the original that learning it is a breeze and I enjoyed the hand-management twist whereby you need to have matching cards to discard from hand each time you want to score a point. The odd thing is that the conversion from a 2-D grid to essentially a line loses a lot of the best bits of the original while not actually saving much table space.

Startups - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Startups


Another promising Oink game from the prolific Jun Sasaki. Startups is a majorities card game with the interesting scoring twist that the points you get for a majority in a suit are determined by the minority holdings. So if you have the most red but no one else has any, it's worthless; you need to entice people into the suits you're going to end up dominating. There's also a neat No-Thanks-like mechanism where undesirable cards accumulate chips on them until they're eventually worth taking.
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Sat Nov 2, 2019 1:51 pm
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New to me September 19

Martin G
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Bristol
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Hats - 5 plays -  8 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Hats


It's a distinctly Knizian set-collection/investment card game that reminds me most of Loco/Botswana/Wildlife Safari/Quandary/Flinke Pinke/Thor (!) but with more going on. Essentially it's just a deck of seven suits of 1-6 but with a rather lavish production, including a plastic 'cookie' that is just used to award five bonus points at the end of the game. The artwork and card quality are both excellent.

The idea is that each turn you put one of your hand cards into a central display with 6 slots, taking the card that you replaced into a personal collection that sits in front of you. By the end of the hand you'll have 8 cards in front of you, and they will each score according to which suits occupy the slots in the central board. e.g. if there's a red card in the 4-point slot then all collected red cards will be worth 4.

The crucial restriction is that you can only make a swap with a card of the same suit or a higher value. So once a 6 is on the central board, that suit can only be dislodged by being substituted by another card of the same suit and then outranked by another.

There are some additional wrinkles: you also keep one card in your hand, which signifies your 'favourite' colour. For that suit you score the face value of everything you collected minus the value of the card left in your hand. And the 'cookie' bonus is for having collected the most different suits.

Put it all together and there is a lot going on for a small card game, with each play having multiple possible ramifications. And because the collected cards go face-up, you can easily track what might still be out there too. I liked it a lot as a thinky 2p but also 3p introduces the possibility of fleeting alliances. And 4p sounds interestingly different too, as you play in partnerships and can exchange cards with your partner. Really impressed!

Dragon's Breath - 5 plays -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Dragon's Breath


Visited a games shop with my 3-year-old daughter for the first time and picked out this HABA Kinderspiel winner. We both loved it! A bunch of multi-coloured gems are stacked up inside a tower made up of 8 or 9 rings. Each turn one player will remove the top ring but before that each player in turn gets to pick one of the five colours of gem. You then get to keep all the gems matching your colour that fall out of the tower when the ring is removed.

There's a little bit of skill to predicting what will fall and a little bit of dexterity in how you remove the ring. But most importantly Effie can have fun with it without doing any of that - she understands the rules (and explained them to my wife) and can take her turn perfectly. The physical design of the game is brilliant, making use of the box too, and the story is cute - the players are dragon babies trying to collect gems from an ice tower with the help of their fire-breathing dad.

Irish Gauge - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2014
Board Game: Irish Gauge


A 'cube rails' game originally published by Winsome but now prettified. It's designed by Tom Russell, who also did the brilliant Northern Pacific, but it's a lot more similar to Chicago Express. The main difference is the random element of drawing cubes from a bag to determine which lines pay dividends. For me, it had the same problems that led to me getting rid of Chicago Express despite admiring it. Opaque, needs repeat plays by the same group to shine, but is unlikely to get them.

Yōkai - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Yōkai


A moderately interesting 'co-op that can't be played solo'. Cards in four colours are face down in a square grid and the objective is to get matching colours adjacent to each other in as few moves as possible. Each turn one player gets to look at the underside of two cards and then move a card. There are also hint cards which can be placed on top of cards (e.g. "this card is red or blue") but once a card has a hint on it no one can look at it any more. There are lots of options for modifying the difficulty level too.

Songbirds - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Songbirds


A colours and numbers thing where you play out hand cards to a communal grid, trying to make the suit of the one card you don't play be worth the most points. I suspect it's better with fewer players, but it paled in comparison to the somewhat-similar Hats.

passtally - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2018
Board Game: passtally


A rather brain-burny abstract with elements of Taluva and Tsuro - building routes across the board by laying and stacking tiles. You're also trying to disrupt your opponent's routes at the same time so there's a lot of back-and-forth creating and destroying roughly the same routes. I didn't love it.
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Tue Oct 1, 2019 11:51 am
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New-to-me 2018 in review

Martin G
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I'm going to do this by category as I found my favourites fell into four.

Team/co-op communication

The Mind made me definitively realise that the co-ops I like are Co-ops that are IMPOSSIBLE to play solo. So many brilliant moments playing this.

The Shipwreck Arcana lets you present each other with a lovely series of logic puzzles and I don't much care about the winning and losing.

Decrypto isn't a co-op but it still features interesting communication through limited channels. Honourable mention to Just One, which is kind of the party game version.

Meaty microgames

All three of these comprise just 18 cards (and a few cubes in one case) but use them spatially to create a 'big' boardgame experience.

Circle the Wagons combines variable scoring goals (and they actually feel different to each other) with a challenging Patchwork-style draft and spatial patching. Sprawlopolis does the same thing but solo.

Iron Curtain is easily my favourite of the recent 'compressed Twilight Struggle' games. The spatial element on top of the usual event/ops tension is brilliant.

Trick takers

I continue to be impressed by the innovation in this traditional genre.

Dealt! has you play escalating sets of cards with the delightful twist that you can't rearrange the cards in your hand.

Texas Showdown twists trump into whichever suit was played most often in a trick. It's light and chaotic and great with 5 or 6.

Yokai Septet is a great 'entry-level' partnership trick-taker with an interesting deck structure.

Pikoko makes you play without seeing 'your' hand, but since you can see all the others it's very precise and calculating.

Good Little Tricks puts two brilliant twists into an avoidance game. I've always been better at losing tricks than winning them!

The Reinerssance

My favourite trend of the last year or two is the return of Knizia to the forefront of gamers' minds.

Blue Lagoon is a lightning-fast and brutal spatial points grab.

Yellow & Yangtze is a remake of the best game ever that still has a reason to exist.

Lost Cities: Rivals is more Ra than Lost Cities while Lost Cities: To Go is LC with added push-your-luck and dickery.

Amun-Re: The Card Game nicely distills the best bits of its parent.

Zero Down is an easy-going rummy-style filler.
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Thu Jan 3, 2019 7:11 pm
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New to me December 18

Martin G
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Bristol
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Another year draws to a close!

Good Little Tricks - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Good Little Tricks


This is an excellent print and play tricktaker available for free at http://www.goodlittlegames.co.uk/games/15-good-little-tricks... (but you can also play with a Sticheln deck or set of dominoes!)

The deck is six suits of variable length: 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5, 1-6, 1-7 for 27 cards in total. Standard lead and follow rules (except that you can only lead trump if you have no choice). It's an avoidance game where every card you take is worth a negative point, but crucially you don't automatically take cards by winning a trick. Instead the played cards go into a pool in the middle and each suit is only collected when all its cards are in the middle (by the winner of that trick).

Trump is dynamic - it's always the shortest suit that hasn't yet been completed. This means you want to get rid of your trumps before they get dangerous, passing the hot potato to someone else. And you can shoot the moon, so having a hand of high cards doesn't totally stuff you.

We played with 3 which seems ideal as you deal out all the cards, but it nominally plays 2 (with a dummy hand) up to 5.

Sprawlopolis - 10 plays -  7 
First Published 2018
Board Game: Sprawlopolis


A solo/co-op from the same designers as one of this year's favourites Circle the Wagons and it shares a lot of DNA. 18 cards, divided into 4 quadrants, each with a scoring goal on the back of which you choose 3. But the cut-throat draft has gone, replaced by draw-one-play-one from a hand of three.

Played co-op it's very much of the 'team solo' type so I prefer it as a pure solitaire puzzle. And it's an excellent one! The roads depicted on the cards add an extra level to the tiling compared to Circle the Wagons - you generally want to create as few road sections as possible, but that isn't necessarily compatible with the other goals.

For ease of setup and variability of challenge, this is probably by favourite solo game yet. On the regular difficulty setting I've been winning a bit over half - with the harder difficulty it'd be a bit under half, which feels about right.

Mini Rails - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Mini Rails


I'd heard good things about this and really liked it. It's a minimalist train game; each player takes just 12 actions in the game: six to take stock, six to extend track. It has a neat turn-order system and a clever way of recording stock changes. Somewhat reminiscent of Paris Connection but with randomised and less fiddly setup. Hope it holds up to a few more plays.


Ticket to Ride: New York - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2018
Board Game: Ticket to Ride: New York


I can see this being a 'couch game' favourite with my wife in the coming year. The rules are exactly the same as base TTR but you have only 15 trains each and so it plays in 10-15 minutes. There's absolutely no time for messing around and one mistake or bad block will probably kill you.

The Quacks of Quedlinburg - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2018
Board Game: The Quacks of Quedlinburg


Completed my set of Warsch's four big releases of the year. This is much more akin to Ganz Schon Clever than it is to The Mind - a comboriffic but mostly solitaire puzzler. The push-your-luck drawing from the bag is good fun but you all do it individually and simultaneously which feels quite odd. The only interaction is listening to the other players swear.

Prosperity - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2013
Board Game: Prosperity


Got this cheap because, hey, it's Knizia, though I hadn't heard great things about it. And yes, it's rather too optimisation/engine-builder/MPS for my taste. But it's not terrible -- I like the constant trade-offs between energy and ecology, and the theme comes through (I made sure to announce each new tile by name as it came in).

Emissary: The Red Frontier - 1 play
First Published 2013
Board Game: Emissary: The Red Frontier


Oliver (mezmorki) sent me the prototype of his long-in-development 4X card game and it's interesting! It started life as a Decktet game and retains some of that with clever use of multi-suited cards. Like Impulse you build a hex map with square cards and attempt to explore and exploit it while fighting the other players. Unlike Impulse it's area control based with variable win conditions (first to complete 2 of 3 goals, chosen from a stack of 12).
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Tue Jan 1, 2019 7:31 pm
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New to me November 18

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
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Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Reiner Knizia freakMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
A big month for new plays, mainly due to the biannual LoBsterCon. I managed to play lots of old favourites too though!

Blue Lagoon - 4 plays -  8 
First Published 2018
Board Game: Blue Lagoon


The Reinerssance continues apace with this wonderfully snappy (both in pace and interaction) melange of network building, area control and set collection. Of his previous designs, it's closest to Through the Desert, but one move per turn instead of two and one network each rather than five makes the turns absolutely fly round.

I really like the half-time board reset. The modified placement rules in the second half up the interaction level to something akin to the start of the Hunger Games - everyone piling in to grab the goodies while avoiding their opponents' side-swipes.

If there's a criticism, it's that the scoring is a bit point-salady (two types of network building, area majority and three types of set collection) but everything is still focused on the board-play: it's not like you're playing a bunch of loosely-connected sub-games. It also feels like it really needs a full four players to ramp up the competition for spots, though less confrontational gamers may disagree.

Amun-Re: The Card Game - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Amun-Re: The Card Game


Amun-Re: TCG is closer to the original than most of Reiner's recent reinterpretations, but cuts out a lot of cruft (particularly the special power cards) and focuses on the core: the bounce-auction for provinces and the simultaneous offering. There's a really neat twist to the auction where you use your cash on hand to choose which bidding cards to buy, then use them as fixed bids a la Ra. The lack of scaling in the thresholds for the offerings seems a bit odd, as others have noted - feels like this will be best 3p as a result, but at least that's a different count to the original.

Yokai Septet - 2 plays -  7 
First Published
Board Game: Yokai Septet


Yokai Septet (formerly 7 Symbols, and 7 Nations) is an excellent trick-taker with a twist. The deck comprises seven suits with staggered values - one runs from 1-7, one from 2-8, all the way up to 7-13. This means every suit has a 7, which are the key cards. There are rules for 3p head-to-head but it seems made for 2v2 partnerships. A partnership wins a round by capturing four 7s in their tricks but loses the round if they capture seven tricks without getting to four 7s. All but one of the 49 cards are dealt out, with the final card setting trump and the 1 of the lowest suit is always super trump.

The game is given its character by the short suits and sparse trumps. Probably the most important decision is the three cards you pass to partner before the hand starts - you can use these to pass 7s that you have matching high cards for or to establish and signal voids, for example. The whole thing is delightfully elegant and accessible - seems like a great intro trick-taker.

Fool! - 1 play -  7 
First Published
Board Game: Fool!


Another trick-taker, which extends the player count of Foppen to 8. I played Foppen years ago and it didn't leave much of an impression, but had a lot of fun with this in a 6p game. Definitely on the simple/chaotic end of tricktaking and good for some laughs.

Just One - 1 play -  7 
First Published
Board Game: Just One


This has been a good year for word games and I found this simple party-style one very enjoyable. It's a co-op, with players taking turns to guess the word everyone else knows. Each player individually provides a one-word clue on a dry-wipe board, but crucially every duplicated clue is eliminated, leaving the guesser with only the unique ones to go on. Like the excellent Decrypto, this challenges the players to come up with oblique but not too oblique references. The most amusing round came with the word Pikachu: two of us wrote 'Pokemon', two wrote 'yellow' and two wrote 'electric'!

Trapwords - 1 play -  7 
First Published
Board Game: Trapwords


Trapwords plays with some of the same concepts but in a team game clearly owing a debt to Taboo. The challenge is to communicate a word to your team-mates while avoiding using certain related words, but the interesting part is that the other team gets to choose what those 'traps' are. Do you block out the obvious words or do you try to anticipate the tangential references they might use?

That would be enough to be a fun game in itself but it adds a slightly forced fantasy setting and a few rule-bending special powers that make for new challenges.

Sleepers - 2 plays -  7 
First Published
Board Game: Sleepers


I'd been interested in this one for a while - it combines an abstract placement and connection game on a hex grid with hidden deployment and special powers. You put your pieces on to the board face-down and later activate them for their powers, leading to a cunning game of bluff. I struggled to keep the powers and various win conditions in my head but would play again if I get the chance.

Witless Wizards - 1 play -  6 
First Published
Board Game: Witless Wizards


This is a pretty entertaining last-man-standing battle game (think King of Tokyo) using the Biblios card-draw mechanism to assign weapons and armour to yourself and fellow players before attacking them with dice. Short enough to stay amusing and with more variety of cards in the box than we used in our game.

Mijnlieff - 3 plays -  6 
First Published
Board Game: Mijnlieff


Tic-tac-toe turned into an actual game, with each piece restricting where the next one can be played. For me, it still suffers from the usual problem I have with abstracts - I don't tend to enjoy the dry look-ahead of zero-luck/perfect information games.

Narabi - 2 plays -  6 
First Published
Board Game: Narabi


Another 'co-op you can't play solo', in which the players try to sort a set of cards by switching them according to rules only one player can see. It seemed a bit less interesting than I'd hoped but may have been played too late in a long day of gaming.

5 COLORS - 2 plays -  6 
First Published
Board Game: 5 COLORS


An incredibly simple simultaneous-selection ride-the-groupthink game that I wouldn't turn down but wouldn't seek out either.

Formosa Flowers - 1 play -  6 
First Published
Board Game: Formosa Flowers


A very pretty and much more accessible variant of the Hanafuda game Koi-Koi but it might have stripped away too much of the game to stay interesting.

Fast Forward: FLEE - 1 play -  6 
First Published
Board Game: Fast Forward: FLEE


A reasonably interesting 'team solo' puzzle but the occasional rules ambiguities are a bit frustrating when you can't easily resolve them for fear of spoilers. And is it really a 'game with no rulebook' when the first several cards just have the rules on the back?

Rebel Nox - 1 play -  5 
First Published
Board Game: Rebel Nox


Rebel Nox is pitched as a hybrid of trick-taker and social-deduction but I didn't feel it had a particularly strong flavour of either. The idea is that along with the regular cards (3 suits of 1-17) you deal out 3 'rebel' cards and anyone who receives one or more is on the rebel team, revealed at the start of the hand. You then play 6 tricks out, with an odd suit hierarchy where the suit led determines the trump for that trick. Points are assigned to each individual based on tricks won but also to the team with the collective high score.

There are several complications... every trick corresponds to a location card with a rule-altering power or scoring bonus. And there are three special powers on the regular cards, corresponding to different numbers. The most important of these causes the loser (lowest card) of a trick to draw cards randomly from the hand of the winner of that trick, which can result in a change of team allegiance!

There are some interesting ideas here, but I'm not sure it all comes together. In a mere six tricks, do you really have time to process hidden teams and two types of special power alongside the standard trick-taking stuff to produce intentional results? I'm not sure, but I'm prepared to give it another try.

Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra - 1 play -  5 
First Published
Board Game: Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra


The variable setup in this one seems to be there to please people who think Azul isn't replayable enough because 'it's always the same board' when actually the replayability comes from interaction. I prefer Azul to Sagrada because it's much more about interaction and less about doing your own puzzle. This one feels like an unnecessary halfway house.

Football Highlights: 2052 - 1 play -  N/A 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Football Highlights 2052


One play of a prototype copy without drafting from the extra cards is not enough to make a judgement but it didn't blow me away like my first play of Baseball Highlights did. In part that may be because I know baseball much better than (American) football and so a lot of the jargon went over my head.
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Mon Dec 3, 2018 2:10 pm
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