A guy, three girls, a few friends and a shelf full of games

Random thoughts on board gaming with my family and friends. I'm a recent convert to the board gaming community, and I am trying to introduce my wife, daughters and friends to some great games to get them over to board gaming as well.

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Top 25 of 2017 (5-1)

Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
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25 Dropmix
24 Viral
23 Coldwater Crown
22 Clans of Caledonia
21 Pulsar 2849


20 Rocky Road A La Mode
19 Stop Thief!
18 Dragon Castle
17 Ladder 29
16 QueenDomino


15 Rajas of the Ganges
14 FlipShips
13 Flatline: A Fuse Aftershock Game
12 Century Spice Road
11 Ex Libris

10 NMBR 9
9 WereWords
8 Codenames Duet
7 Downforce
6 Topiary



5. Whistle Stop(3 plays) - Around here we still love, Ticket to Ride and we still love Carcassonne as well. So when a game comes along that reminds us of both a bit, it really has an unfair advantage and also some may say, unfair expectations. Rarely does a game live up to them the way that Whistle Stop does. In reality, the only thing similar to Ticket to Ride here is the fact that it is trains and you are building train routes, and the only thing similar to Carcassonne is that you are laying tiles to build out the train network. Everything else kind of diverges away from those two. Whistle Stop is ultimately a race, it’s a race to get your trains across the map to the west in the most efficient way possible, while collecting resources and churning those resources into victory points. Along the way you will have some very rudimentary stock play, you have some really fun resource management, some fun player powers, if you pick them up, and ultimately a really good time. Personally, I love the color choices, but I can see how others might have some issues with them, but that’s about the only issue I can find at the moment.


4. Memoarrr!(8 plays) - The silliest of the games on this list and I had a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that Memoarrr! ended up this high on the list, but I can’t deny the joy and downright competitiveness that this game has brought to the table. How a game, that is at its core “just a” simple little memory game, makes people so ultra competitive is absolutely boggling to watch. For more on how to play this one, check out my review, otherwise I will just ramble on about how much fun I’ve had and you won’t understand what they heck I am talking about. I don’t know about North American distribution on this one, but it is available via Amazon.de for a reasonable amount. Also, could this surprise us and be an SDJ nominee? I don’t know, I think it is almost too light for the SDJ but lacking the toy factor to get a Kinder nomination, so who knows. It deserves either one.


3. Sentient(4 plays) - So, the fifth Renegade Games title on the list and my favorite one from 2017. At its essence, Sentient is really just a puzzle that you have to figure out each round, a puzzle that changes each round due to the dice. You have roll those dice at the beginning of each round and then you have cards that you will buy to place in your tableau that will adjust those dice to the left and right of that card, hopefully they will adjust in the way that you need. It really shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it’s pretty flawless from what I can tell in my handful of plays. There is the puzzle to solve, there is some area majority bonuses as well, all in all a really well done game from J. Alex Kevern and Renegade Games. I’ve gotten over the cost of this one, although when I first purchased it, that was a bitter pill for me to swallow. I still think that’s what is hurting this one, more so than game play, because it’s good, damn good.


2. Azul(16 plays) - If you listen to the podcast, and if you follow me on Twitter, Reddit or Board Game Geek, you know how I feel about Azul. Which is why I am surprised that it sits at number 2 instead of number 1. Michael Kiesling has so many wonderful designs out there for us to play, it was weird for me to see most everyone falling in love with one of his designs for the first time, and I’m hopeful that Heaven & Ale will elicit the same feelings. In this, the year of the puzzle game 2017, this was the epitome of that puzzle. A wonderfully interactive set collecting, tile laying puzzle. The game would have been fantastic with cardboard, but Plan B knocked this one out of the park with the production, with those tiles that may look like Starbursts, but in reality are a wonderful abstraction of actual tiles. I absolutely love this game, even if I do only win it 25% of the time. Of note, we do play with the Joker Tiles about every other play, and we have still never played with the “free for all” side of the player boards, we’ve felt no need to even try those yet. This will be nominated for SDJ if the distrubution is out there and I believe that it is, given the fact that Plan B owns Eggertspiele now.


1. Majesty: For the Realm(16 plays) - Which brings us to this, the surprise number one game for 2017. I’ve got a full review for this coming, and I wanted to have that full review up before Z-Man finally got it here in the US, but honestly, I’ve been having too much fun playing it, to write about it. This is Marc André’s follow up to Splendor, we’re going to forget about Barony here. I liked Splendor for about 10 plays, after that, I grew very tired of it. So I didn’t go into this expecting world shattering fun, but honestly, Majesty hasn’t been too far off. In all, this is a simple card drafting/set collection game where each card you bring into your Realm, activates the power of the building that they work in to make money, and the object of the game is to be the Realm with the most coins at the end. You draft cards(workers) from the public offer by paying for them in that Smallworld/Century Spice Road/Firenze method where you pay something to each card to the right of the card that you want. It works wonderfully and Majesty plays like a well oiled machine. To give a bit more variability, each card in your realm has an A side and a B side. The sides offer different powers and different ways to get more money, they even suggest that it’s possible to mix and match the A & B sides, but we haven’t even tried it that way. I think part of the joy I’ve had with Majesty is trying to combat what some perceive as a soldier strategy, which while powerful, it most certainly can be overcome and how each game plays will also differ based on how the cards come out. Not every card is in every game, especially in the lower player counts where you only use 6 or 14 of the first era cards. Every game plays just a bit different. The only flaw we can think of is that the game for some reason didn’t come with any 5 denomination chips, you have 1s, 2s, 10s, 50s & 100s. So you will constantly be making change, which, now that I mention it, may be part of the fun as well. This could be, and I stress could be, a wonderful expanding game, as evidenced by the extra space in the box and some playtesters reporting on some buildings that they played that were not included in the base game.

So as you can kind of tell, 2017 was the year that I re-discovered the joy that is family style/gateway gaming. I played a few heavier titles this year, but ultimately, I found my time around the table being spent playing more of these 30 minute to 1 hour games that pack an awful lot of punch into a shorter play time. We’ll also notice that only 5 of these titles were Kickstarter games, and only 3 of those were games that I myself backed on Kickstarter. This is a pattern that I’ve seen coming over the past couple years. While I think there are a lot of fantastic games coming via crowdfunding, I still think that the care that some, and I stress some, not all, retail publishers take makes them stand taller. There are Kickstarter companies that do the same thing, but I think most are kind of rushed, just due to the nature of crowdfunding.

A few stats for 2017 before I end this.

2017 published titles played - 74

Total plays of 2017 published titles - 258

Different titles played in 2017 - 198

Most plays - Werewords(32)

The people I played most with(in order) - Kerensa, Gabby, Chris, Brad, Chris M., Kate, John & AnnaBeth

I played 10 Games, at least 10 times

I played 26 Games, at least 5 times

Time spent playing The Colonists - 22 hours(3 games)

I am really looking forward to 2018. I think there are a lot of great games coming and more importantly I think that there are a lot of great games already here.
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Fri Jan 5, 2018 3:35 pm
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Top 25 of 2017 (10-6)

Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
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25 Dropmix
24 Viral
23 Coldwater Crown
22 Clans of Caledonia
21 Pulsar 2849


20 Rocky Road A La Mode
19 Stop Thief!
18 Dragon Castle
17 Ladder 29
16 QueenDomino


15 Rajas of the Ganges
14 FlipShips
13 Flatline: A Fuse Aftershock Game
12 Century Spice Road
11 Ex Libris



10. NMBR 9(17 plays) - A card and tile version of Tetris. That’s really all that this is, and it works wonderfully. In what seems to be a bit of a pattern, these puzzle-y type games have really hit me kind of hard this year and NMBR 9 was the most puzzle-y of the puzzles. It’s a simple enough game, you have tiles of numbers 0 thru 9 times two and you have cards for 0 thru 9 times two. On a turn someone draws a card and you place that tile on the table, the rest of the game goes the same, one card, matching tile. The tiles themselves are not whole and are shaped, much like Tetris pieces, and they fit in different ways. You are trying to get the puzzle built as high as you can. Only rules are, when you build on top of other tiles, a tile has to be on top of two different tiles below it and you can’t build over blank spots. Base level is worth nothing, next level up each tile is worth face value, next level 2 times face value and so on. After you place all 20 tiles, points are tallied up and the highest score wins. One of the first things I asked when playing NMBR 9 is what prevents me from doing the exact same thing that you do, or anyone else playing does. The reply, “Well, I wouldn’t play with you then”. That’s an old Sid Sackson quote, or so I’ve heard. Someone should have created this game ages ago, but they didn’t and Peter Wichmann did in 2017.


9. Werewords(32 plays) - I don’t think I’ve ever had a game get over 30 plays as fast as WereWords did. It hit here at the end of June, and by Mid-July we had these 32 plays in. Set in the One Night Ultimate Werewolf world, this 20 questions style game where you are trying to guess a word that only certain people will know. The brilliance of this is in the app that runs the game much like One Night Ultimate Werewolf. It lets you pick the word and it acts as the moderator through the game, letting the players concentrate on trying to figure out the word and trying to figure out which of the other players are werewolves because that’s what the Villagers want to do, you want to find the Werewolves who also know the word, but they don’t want to give it away. A wonderful twist on an old favorite with a new, modern twist.


8. Codenames Duet(12 plays) - Take Codenames and twist it and contort it until you have a two player cooperative version, who would have thought that it would work? Some have just called it a variant of Codenames and I can see this, but honestly, Codenames Duet has become our go to Codenames, because it stands up so well on it’s own. It gets rid of some of the chaos of the original by shrinking down the player count, and gives it a more personal feel as it is you and your partner vs the game. Codenames Duet can be played with more people than 2 and it still plays as a wonderful cooperative experience.


7. Downforce6 plays) - So the second Restoration Games title here is the wonderful auction, gambling and race title, Downforce. This one is not one of Kerensa’s favorites, I’ve yet to find a racing game that she likes, but Downforce is absolutely wonderful. From the auction where you buy your, cars to start the game, to the racing which is fast moving and really well done and then the gambling that happens three times a race. When a player passes a yellow line everyone gets to bet on who they think is going to win the race. Finish the race, winnings are added up, both for race finishes and for betting, subtract the amount you spent on your race team and the winner is the one with the most money. Races are tight and fast and while I know that some people complain that the track is prone to bottlenecking in some of the turns, that’s part of the joy of racing. You have to plan your attack well and just realize that others have some say in where you end up on the track due to everyone moving everyone else’s cars. The fantastic table presence really helps as well as it just looks like a fun racing game.


6. Topiary(6 plays) - The newest game on the list and if I am being completely honest here, possibly my biggest surprise, a wonderful, wonderful surprise. I have a review coming for this in the next couple weeks, but needless to say if you see it at #6, you know that I really liked it. It’s a simple premise, you have a 5x5 board of tiles facedown, except the one in the middle and you are placing visitors to this Topiary Garden around the outside, either in straight lines down the tiles or diagonally. The visitors at the end are going to score points based on how many Topiaries they can see from their viewpoint. The Topiaries vary in size from 1-5 and so in order to view them your meeple will try to arrange the tiles in ascending order. When you place one visitor, you pick up one tile in that row and look at it and replace it either with the one you just picked up or one of the three in your hand, face up to the board. Easy to teach, fun to play and it really enables the players to be as interactive with each other as they are comfortable with. You can really throw a wrench into a visitor’s view if you want to. Kudos to Renegade Games for picking up this wonderful little game that easily could have been missed, and kudos to Fever Games for originally publishing it. Danny Devine has designed a wonderful little game here that brings me back to one of my 2015 favorites, Arboretum.
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Thu Jan 4, 2018 3:30 pm
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Top 25 of 2017 (15-11)

Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
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25 Dropmix
24 Viral
23 Coldwater Crown
22 Clans of Caledonia
21 Pulsar 2849


20 Rocky Road A La Mode
19 Stop Thief!
18 Dragon Castle
17 Ladder 29
16 QueenDomino



This list just keeps on growing and the hits just keep on coming!


15. Rajas of the Ganges(1 play) - And the last of the single plays shows up and I liked this one quite a bit more than the others which is how it made it all the way up to 15 on my list. At this point, I should probably just pick up everything that Markus and Inka Brand design, they always seem to have a very specific touch to them, the aging of family members in Village, the wonderful giant rondel of action selection of Murano and actually making an “escape room” game that worked for me, Exit. But yet I still hesitate for some reason. Rajas of the Ganges is good, even in spite of it’s troublesome lack of awareness, theme-wise, it’s really good. I love the two converging tracks that you are working on, trying to make more money and become more prestigious and converge those tracks before anyone else does. I’ve only played it 2 player so far, and I imagine that at 4 player the game can get a bit tighter and maybe a bit more interactive via denial, but we’ll have to see if that’s a good thing or bad thing. All in all, Rajas of the Ganges really seems like it is an absolutely rock solid Dice Rolling/Worker Placement game, even if the ability to manipulate dice to your needed face value is quite limited.


14. Flip Ships(4 plays) - Oh Renegade Games, you alone are going to end up responsible for about 20% of this list it seems and this is the first one here. It’s a dexterity/flipping game that really gives off the feeling of a cardboard Space Invaders where there are waves of aliens invading and you are flipping your ships to try to land on them or hit the Mothership in order to save the world. Such a simple premise, with such beautiful Kwanchai Moriya artwork to top it all off. Any game that can give off the feeling that this game does when you are down to your last ship and need just one more ship to hit that Mothership, needs to be in a Top 25.



13. Flatline: A FUSE Aftershock Game(5 plays) - Not to sound like a broken record, but here is Renegade Games again. This one had a soft release at Geekway to the West and I was one of the first 50 people to pick it up there. We played it a couple times with Adrian, Zach and Paul and had a wonderful time with it. But this one survived the long summer and the many games that were released in between and is still somewhat in rotation. It’s real time, and that’s normally a no go for me, but this is done right. The entire game isn’t real time, just that frantic one minute per round where you have to match up the right dice to the right areas to save patients that hopefully will provide even more benefit for you based on when you save everyone on that one section. It’s frantic fun and it is absolutely brutal and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


12. Century: Spice Road(10 plays) - So, Plan B did a soft release of Century Spice Road at the Gathering of Friends, and it just so happens that I had a friend attending and he knew that I wanted it so we started playing this in April and had a fantastic time with it. It’s really such a simple concept, building your hand of cards which is your trading routes and you play those cards to trade the spices that you have for the spices you need to fulfill orders. Really simple, fun, thinky game that packs a whole lot of punch in such a short timespan. I am a bit worried about it’s longevity in the collection as this was a horrifically deep year for games of this weight and play in that same timeframe(as you will see in the next couple days) and Century Spice Road doesn’t get reached for nearly as often as it used to. But still, it’s an absolute gem of a game.


11. Ex Libris(3 plays) - This was my big Gen Con 2017 excitement. I’m sure there were other games out there that folks wanted more and garnered far more praise, but for me this was the one. Wonderful art and a fun theme centered around books. It’s premise is only hampered by the fact that unless you play this game often, you have to consult the rule book or pick up the locations nearly every round just to read them and figure out what they do. But still, even with that fiddliness and poor graphic design choices, this one manages to shine in that hour long Worker Placement time frame. The premise is simple, you are a collector of books and you are wanting to get the most valuable collection around, but you also have to take care to keep your shelves neatly balanced and organized or things may fall apart for you. Wonderful art, which makes complete sense since it is from artist turned designer Adam McIver who had some help from the wonderful Jacqui Davis on this one. Such a great production from Renegade games, which makes that weird 1st player marker even more befuddling.

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Wed Jan 3, 2018 3:35 pm
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Top 25 of 2017 (20-16)

Brandon Kempf
United States
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25. Dropmix
24. Viral
23. Coldwater Crown
22. Clans of Caledonia
21. Pulsar 2849


I hope everyone checked out numbers 25-21, we're moving along today to numbers 20-16 and we're getting into the games that received a few more plays than the previous 5, but not too many.

20. Rocky Road à la Mode(8 plays) - The first of two Green Couch Games’ titles on this list, and probably the most wonderfully themed, at least to this ice cream fiend it is. Another wonderful set collection game with a fun theme, imagine that. This time you are ice cream truck drivers and you are trying to get the right type of tasty frozen treat to your customers. Fun thing about this one is that as you complete orders, you are going to be more known for certain types of frozen treats so you will always have some in your supply. It’s a neat mechanism that really builds the pace of the game as you go. Absolutely a wonderful game in that small Green Couch Games box from designer Joshua Mills.

19. Stop Thief!(3 plays) - I know, this is an OLD title. I think that enough was changed in this version to warrant calling this particular Stop Thief! a new title for 2017. It takes that wonderfully futuristic piece of plastic from the original and turns it into a wonderful app for you phone, no more being confused by sounds. It also gets rid of the roll and move with a hand of cards for each player that has specific amounts of movements on them and some special abilities. It really modernizes a classic family game with mechanisms that match the current trend in board gaming and gets the tech perfect. Restoration Games narrowly missed having 3 titles on this list, oops, I’m spoiling something for the future.

18. Dragon Castle(2 plays) - Have you ever asked a friend to pick up a $60 game and drag it halfway across the world for you just because you don’t know if you’ll be able to get it at home for quite awhile? If you answered yes, we’ll start having a support group next week. This was that game that I asked for from Essen 2017. I love the idea of this game and I love the look of this game, but the first couple plays, while very serviceable and enjoyable, they just didn’t inspire a lot of back to back plays. It’s a good game, don’t get me wrong, but with the setup taking almost as long as the game, it suffers a bit there. But ooh boy is it a beautiful game and it is good, I just hope it has some staying power.

17. Ladder 29(5 plays) - A climbing game, themed around FireFighters. Really, that’s all I need to say, right? This year has been a year for me in which I have rediscovered my fondness of card games. Thanks to a certain someone in our game group pushing them a bit. I’ve discovered old ones like Tichu and Sticheln and new ones like Claim, Fox in the Forest, Indulgence and this one from Green Couch Games and the Fleeples. I love the Hot Spot Cards in Ladder 29. They present a new challenge to try to overcome each and every round. Fantastic, inclusive art on the high quality cards make this one a possible classic card game in the making, which you have to feel is what they were going for, and they nailed it.

16. Queendomino(1 play) - Oh boy, another 1 play game on the list, but not the highest. I wanted to put the absolutely wonderful Kingdomino on the list, but just because I first played it in 2017, doesn’t mean that it was actually published in 2017, which I found out. So I’m putting Queendomino on here both because I love KingDomino and because QueenDomino is pretty damn good on it’s own. I was honestly worried that QueenDomino would add things to the mix and make a great short game bogged down in completely superfluous actions and stretch the original out past it’s welcome time vs fun point, but it doesn’t, it works absolutely fantastic.I’m going out on a limb here, but could Blue Orange repeat their SDJ win with this one? We’ll see, but I almost bet it gets a nomination at least.

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Tue Jan 2, 2018 4:11 pm
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Top 25 of 2017 (25-21)

Brandon Kempf
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So, you know how difficult it is sometimes to just pick a game for game night? You have the entire game group just saying, pick anything, we’ll play it and have a good time, but yet you sit there and you search and search for the perfect game? Well, that’s kind of what happened to me here. I was originally going to do a Top 10 Games of 2017, but my fear of commitment to 10 games, caused this to blossom into a Top 25 Games of 2017, which I think may be more interesting. This way we know where I stand on more games, not just my 10 favorites. You may notice some notable absences here, 7th Continent I do not own, Gloomhaven, not enough invested in it to give it a fair shake or even get a good feel for the game, Ethnos which is just bad, Pie Town which left us wanting less(?) & Nusfjord, which I have played twice, but I just don’t think it’s a good game(for me).

I think you are going to see a natural progression in plays as we get closer to number 1, these first few titles are going to have fewer plays. I think this is normal, at least for me. I really don’t feel comfortable ranking a game that I have only played once, too high on the list. Although there is one that I am tempted to move up, we'll see where it ends up staying.

We’ll try to revisit this list in 2018 at some point and we’ll see if anything has changed, but for now, here is my Top 25 Board Games of 2017.

25. DropMix(dozens of plays) - Oh Dropmix, more like Dropping Prices. I’ll admit to being a sucker a lot of the time, but as soon as I saw Dropmix, I knew that I had to have it. I love fun tech, especially when that fun tech has some fun game play tied to it, and Dropmix had that. So I located a Target within 30 miles of home, packed up the family and drug them out to pick up my birthday gift to myself. While I do enjoy the game, I don’t think that the game is enough to warrant a spot on this Top 25. The Co-Op mode is fun, it can be a bit frustrating at times just due to 4 people trying their best to do as well as you can, but being fast causes mistakes and mistakes cause frustrations and these frustrations can’t be changed just due to the nature of the game. BUT, Dropmix’s saving grace is the freestyle mode where you really get to feel like you are a DJ. Hook it up to some wonderful bluetooth speakers and rock the house, or if you are me, rock the dining room, by yourself. Just too bad the cards are so hard to find and they are kind of cheap quality.

24. Viral(1 play) - Viral suffers from being played only once at a game day at our local library. I had heard of the game before and the fact that it was a successful Kickstarter, but that’s about all I knew about it, but after one play, I could see this being a very welcome addition to a lot of people’s game collection. Sure, it’s just area control with a bit of deck building, but it has a theme that you just don’t expect to see and the mechanisms interact wonderfully with it. You are viruses and you are invading the human body and trying to do your worst. The reason it’s so low on my list is just my lack of plays, I want to know if the game is actually good enough to move up, or if I have a fond memory of it because of winning that game by causing some pretty severe stomach issues.

23. Coldwater Crown(2 plays) - If Coldwater Crown had been played closer to the end of the year, it probably would have had a strong case to be higher up on the list, but as it is, my two plays at Geekway in May are a long ago memory. At its heart, Coldwater Crown is really just a set collection game, much like Brian’s previous design, Paradox. But it’s how you collect those sets that really makes this one feel different. The placing of your baits and then bringing them back in really is kind of fishing like and I remember it having me completely enthralled throughout my couple of plays back in May. I’d also be doing a disservice to the game if I didn’t mention the wonderful art by Beth Sobel here, it’s a beautiful game.

22. Clans of Caledonia(1 play) - Here comes the “ONE PLAY” caveat. I know folks are already irritated that this one is down this far, and it really seems as though I am the only person who doesn’t have it in their Top 10, if not Top 5 for the year. This is a really well designed game, and it’s obvious that the designer felt a strong attraction to Terra Mystica, but just wanted to add a lot more flavor, and they succeeded, but my one play of this didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Yes, I played my Clan power incorrectly, but no, I don’t think it made much of a difference in the long run. This game really felt to me more spreadsheet like than the game it is modeled after. There were so many times that I felt like I was giving up 2 points, to gain 1 point, to eventually get 3 points, that it just made me really unhappy. Especially that last round, whoo boy was that a fantastic number crunching time. But in all fairness, the game was played towards the end of a long gaming day and it was a bit noisy, so not the best learning and playing environment, so I do want to play it again, and that alone is the reason it isn’t in the also rans.

21. Pulsar 2849(1 play) - Another “ONE PLAY” caveat here. But this one I had a far more positive experience with. Looking at Pulsar 2849 on the table, this thing says space battles. But, what’s the one thing you don’t do in Pulsar 2849? Space Battles! This game is possibly the most Feld-y of games not by Feld to have ever Felded. This is a space themed, Dice Placement Space Exploration game, but in all honesty, it could have been set anywhere, and maybe should have been elsewhere, because once we started playing it and realized there was no “Pew Pew”, it lost a bit of its luster. This is really a point salad space game, and it works pretty well. There is little to no interaction amongst the players, really the only interaction is via denial, which can be fun, but it felt a bit of a let down. There are a lot of fun things to try in this one, and I actually have this one sitting on the table in hopes to get a play or two in this long holiday weekend, plus I’ll be bringing it to Geekway Mini. I want to see if it can overcome that deceptive theme and capture my attention, as I think Pulsar 2849 has some definite possibility.

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Tue Jan 2, 2018 2:34 pm
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Off the Shelf 2018

Brandon Kempf
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This post appeared originally over on the What Did You Play This Week Podcast website, where you can find a lot more written content like this, along with reviews, Top 10s and so much more.

I love numbers, and I love gamifying things using those numbers, even gaming, so it's natural that at the end of the year, I start looking into Gaming "Resolutions" and Top 10s like a lot of folks.

I've tried the 10x10 Challenges, and I have failed them miserably. I just don't think it's in me to set up 10 games a year in advance and say that I am absolutely going to play those 10 games 10 times. I've done the 100x1 Challenge and passed that with flying colors, but really, for me, what kind of challenge is that for us. Every year that we've tracked our plays we've exceeded 100 different titles with 142 different games being the lowest and this year it was 195 different games.

So I started thinking about what I was going to do in 2018. I already know that I am going to write more reviews, that goes without saying, but I wanted to do something gaming wise and find a goal to shoot for. So, I ventured over to the trusty Friendless Stats website and began parsing through way too much information. The Friendless Stats website basically takes all of your information that you update on Board Game Geek and it puts things together in easy to read graphs and other such nonsense. I say nonsense only because no normal, level headed human being needs this much information about the games they play, and more importantly in this instance, the games that they don't play.

You see, over on Friendless there is one option under Collection Management that always eludes me, always offends my senses. It's the "You Own It and You Haven't Played It" link. What this does is it takes you to BGG, and sorts your game collection and weeds out all of the game that you have played and gives you all of those games that you own that you have not logged plays of. Now, when you look at mine, it is going to seem overwhelming, but just remember, I don't log plays of expansions, unless they are standalone, and there are some games that I just don't log plays of, like Le Boomb, et al. After doing my weeding, I noticed that I had actually played 71 titles on that unplayed list, I came up with the fact that 24% of my collection of games sits unplayed. This is probably a low number as I need to update my owned list due to review copies and other things showing up and not getting immediately put into the collection, but we'll call it 25% of my collection sits unplayed. Some folks call those unplayed games and the shelves that they reside on, "Shelves of Shame". But we don't do that around here, there is no shame in owning games that are unplayed, we've all purchased things and have the desire to use them, we just don't get around to it immediately, that's just a way of life. We call these shelves our "Shelves of Opportunities".

So, in using this new found information, I found my resolution. I found the path that I want to traverse in 2018. I found, My 2018 Goal.

What the idea for My 2018 Goal is this, we are going to make it a point to play some of these games that make up our 25%. We are going to dust them off, learn them and enjoy them, or not enjoy them. This, along with a more conservative approach to game acquisition is going to help us play those games that sit unplayed and we're going to decrease that 25% to a more "respectable" level. I use quotes here as it really doesn't matter, what's respectable to me, may not be respectable to you and that's fine.

I'm also trying to make this a more community oriented goal, kind of like the 10x10 lists, but you know, less overwhelming. I want to help people who have games on their shelves that they haven't played that maybe I can help guide them and get them moving towards playing them, and I'd love for others to help me do the same, either through encouragement or through rules help or just overall tips on playing a game. So I've also started a new monthly Off The Shelf 2018 Geeklist here on BGG that hopefully grows as the months roll on in 2018.

But that's my Goal for 2018, I may make it, I may fall apart 2 months in and just completely drop it, but either way is okay, we're going to try. Maybe we'll find out why we picked up some of those games so long ago that just never got played.

First up for January:

War of the Ring (Second Edition)
The Battle of Five Armies

Go big or go home, right?

Once again, the Comments section is on, both here and over on the WDYPTW Website, be sure to chime in. Do you have any Goals for 2018 gaming wise? Do you have any advice on getting albatrosses off our necks?

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Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:00 pm
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Thanksgiving, the Holidays and Gaming with the Family

Brandon Kempf
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Jefferson City
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This piece originally appeared on the WDYPTW website



I don't know who posted it over on Facebook, but this meme perfectly describes how I feel when I talk about a game or try to explain a game to my family. Not my wife or children, bless their hearts, they get me, they understand what I'm going on about, most of the time at least even if they are busy watching the tv or checking their phones. But my parents or my brothers obviously just see me as this crazy person who has built this crazy land in my head. A place where it's easy to see why you don't have to follow suit when playing a trick taking game and it just seems like a normal acceptable thing to do. A place where you don't need dice to have randomness and a place where sending workers to do all the work for you is fun, not oppressive.

I have sat and played games with my family, don't get me wrong, they do humor me now and then. Over Christmas we usually will try to play at least one case from Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, which surprisingly(not really) ends with my mother saying something to the affect that she knew what was going on in the first 15 minutes and she could have saved us all 2 hours of our evening. I have played Diamonds with my father and my uncles who, after it was all said and done, just wondered why we didn't play Hearts or Spades or Euchre or any other myriad of card games that we've played 100s of times over the years. I've played Ca$h & Gun$ with my Grandmother at Easter and had her walk away with double the money of the next person. But most of the time, they see me walk in with my IKEA bag full of games and just sigh. In fact, my mother usually makes me take the games out of sight so they don't "offend" her sense of decor. I do it each and every holiday when we get together, and I will continue to do it, one of these days they'll understand, right?

I think my brothers are my biggest confusion. We've had a lot of fun playing games like the aforementioned Ca$h & Gun$ and One Night Ultimate Werewolf. So much so that we had to stop due to laughing so much. I got excited once when one of them was going to host a "game night" and invited us over, come to find out the game was Clue. Which is fine, I would have played and had a good time with my brothers and their wives, but still, Clue? I thought I had shown them the way!

But I am thankful for my family. They are, for me at least, the reason for the season. Sorry about that, I had to do it. I will continue to be that crazy family member who will give himself a hernia carrying an overstuffed bag of board games that will not get played to each and every bigger family event, and yes, I will listen to my mother and I move the games off to a side room so they don't mess up the aesthetics of the decorations.

10 In the bag this year for Thanksgiving:

Azul
Sticheln
Dragon Castle
WereWords
Santorini
Memoarrr!
Ticket to Ride
DownForce
Indulgence
Ladder 29


Everyone have a fantastic Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it. If you don't I hope that you all have a fantastic Thursday and that it is filled with family and friends nonetheless.
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Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:17 pm
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Yokohama: A Kneejerk/First Thoughts Look After One Play

Brandon Kempf
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One play down, well actually, one and a half plays down but we won't bicker with semantics here.



So yeah, that's the Okazu box, I am playing the Deluxified version from Tasty Minstrel Games that just delivered to Kickstarter backers.

So, what is Yokohama, well at first glance and during setup, you can say that it's a complete cluster f*^k of a game. There are tiles everywhere and on those tiles you have you have cards with spaces to build things on and all kinds of iconography everywhere and bits and coins and cards and tiles and stuff. Okay, that may be getting a bit carried away, but I think you get the picture.

But what at first glance appears like a cluster f&^k, really isn't isn't that, it's a mirage-y as Bugs would say.



The game is silky smooth and it is ultimately very intuitive once you know what you can do on a turn and what you are ultimately trying to accomplish, POINTS!

So on a your basic turn you have 6 things to possibly do.

1)Placement, this is the step where you place your Assistants out on the board. You may place 1 Assistant into each of 3 different areas or you may place 2 Assistants in one area.
2)Movement, this is where your president piece comes into play. You may remove your President from the Board and back into your hand, move your President from your hand to the board or more than likely, you will move your President around the board. The important thing to follow is that your President may only follow a path that has their own Assistants in the areas passed through(except the Canal)
3)Area Actions are then taken, first you figure the power of the action and this is done by figuring the number of player pieces of your color in that area, be it your President, your Assistants or Buildings and take the corresponding action. You can never exceed 5 power in an area, ignore anything beyond that.
4)POWER BONUS, if you are the first to complete a 5 power bonus in that area, take the Power Bonus Token and receive the goods or money on the token.
5)Construction, this is where you can build your Shops or your Trading Houses. Important to note, each player may only have one Shop in each area, plus there is only one Trading House allowed in an area.
6)Recover, at the end of your MAIN action phase you take all Assistants from the area in which you carried out the area action and return them to your hand.

Easy enough, those are your 6 main actions. But along with those actions on your turn you have 2 Additional Action Phases that you can perform, both before and after your main actions, these additional actions are where you are going to Fulfill Orders or Fulfill Orders or even carry out a Foreign Agent Action, but this is all going to be part of an other post I think as I am rambling with rules and I already want to stop typing and just go play it again already.


See! I told you so, it looks like a Cluster F*(K

Ultimately the points are what really matters, right? You want to score as many points as humanly possible and you do that through many different routes, you can fill orders, you can buy tech cards(which are really, really important in the game, nothing like good old tech cards to tear up the rules), you can send your assistants to the Church, you can send your Imports to the Customs House for points and you can do a bit of set collection with those Foreign Agents I briefly mentioned earlier. All the while you are doing these things you are collecting goods, gaining points for building Shops & Trading Houses and fulfilling the Orders. There are just so many ways to get points, it's almost like, and I know this will upset some folks, a better Feld point salad game than an actual Feld point salad game!

Our scores were a bit wonky this game, first place ran away with it, and I mean he smoked us, I'm talking 133 for first and 93 for second, 86 for third and 75 for fourth. I'm not sure of his strategy as I was too busy trying to do a little bit of everything, but that 40 point difference probably came from our lack of attention to the Tech Cards and Foreign Agent collection. But where's the fun in specializing your first run through the game, it's all about exploration and finding something that works or just trying to make something work.



I am anxious to play this one again, it reminds me of Orléans a bit in the collection of goods, or any other myriad of goods collecting and order fulfilling games, but the route and network building in this one sets it apart and give it a seemingly huge advantage in my mind. I heard Le Havre mentioned a bit as we were playing, but I couldn't tell you whether or not that's accurate as I've never touched Le Havre. I want just want to play more, to see if you indeed do have to specialize in one area and fill in for more points or if you can try to do a bit of everything and manage to get a respectable score. I want to see how much the modular board changes how you play from game to game, because surely there are going to be different routes being built based on how everything is laid out. There are a lot of things I want to see, including the Station in action.

It's 11:45 in the evening, I've had 2 gin and tonics and I'm wondering if Kerensa is asleep and if she is, I wonder if she wants to wake up and play.

.......to be continued

-Brandon

This First Look, originally appeared on the WDYPTW blog.
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Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:17 pm
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Announcement of Changes for this Blog and Week 73!

Brandon Kempf
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This is now the Blog here on BGG for my personal posts, not for The What Did You Play This Week Podcast Thing information. I'm not sure why I didn't separate the two before, I will probably cross post these this week and maybe next week so folks can switch subscriptions if they like but will soon only post Podcast stuff over there, and more of my personal blog stuff here.




DIRECT DOWNLOAD!



Welcome to Week 73, we're back below 2 hours for this week, we can't make any promises about next week as I know we have another Meet the Gamer Segment with Jessica Wade on that one and possibly another interview as well if everything goes well, fingers crossed, but that's next week, we're here to find out about this week, here we go!

AnnaBeth's Story Cubes 1:41

Brandon & Kerensa 6:28
Spookies
Pi Mal Pflaumen
Blood Rage

Derek's Evolving Review 29:19
Red 7
Celestia
Voyages of Marco Polo

The Eric Booth Reviews 42:02
The Castles of Burgundy

What's Patrick Been Playing and With Whom? 53:03
En Garde
Mottainai
Akrotiri
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
Back to the Future
Colt Expres

Chris Kirkman of Dice Hate Me Games 1:00:21
Bottom of the 9th: The Clubhouse Expansion
Bottom of the 9th
Vinyl
Fate of the Elder Gods
Yspahan
Viva Java
Hero Quest
Sammy the White House Mouse

End 1:43:35

Sammy The White House MouseHeroQuestVivaJava: The Coffee GameYspahanVinylBack to the Future: An Adventure Through TimeColt ExpressBottom of the 9th: Clubhouse ExpansionBottom of the 9thAgricola: All Creatures Big and SmallAkrotiriMottainaiEn Garde!The Castles of BurgundyThe Voyages of Marco PoloCelestiaRed7Pi mal PflaumenSpookiesBlood RageRory's Story Cubes
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Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:52 pm
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Week 72!

Brandon Kempf
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Jefferson City
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DIRECT DOWNLOAD



Week 72, man, I couldn't decide if I was going to break these interviews up or not, but ultimately I went with it this way and that makes it just a tad shy of 2 1/2 hrs, but I think it's a fantastic 2 1/2 hours, I honestly do. Next week will be shorter, I promise, no Meet the Gamer Segment and no other interviews, but Week 74 is looking a bit long again.

Home Away Boston 2016 fundraiser-Paul Leoncavallo


AnnaBeth's Story Cubes w/ Special Guest Oliver 4:20

Mike Risley 8:46

-Secret Code 13+4

Gabby, Kerensa and Brandon 11:07

-Pastiche

-Preview of Starving Artists

-Aquasphere

-Spookies

-Hocus

Derek's Evolving Review 38:15

-Healthy Heart Hospital

-Voyages of Marco Polo

-Mottannai

Meet the Gamer with Paulo Renato 49:38

Paulo Renato
Portugal
Vila Nova Gaia
Porto
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Chris Renshall 1:26:36

-Orleans

What's Patrick Been Playing 1:31:43

-T.I.M.E Stories Asylum(NO SPOILERS)

-Factory Funner

-Through the Ages

-Rhino Hero

Interview with Gil Hova 1:37:09

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United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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-The Networks

-Battle Merchants

-Bad Medicine

Closing Thoughts with Brandon 2:27:06

End 2:29:19

Secret Code 13+4Battle MerchantsThe NetworksBad Medicine: Second OpinionBad MedicineRhino HeroThrough the Ages: A New Story of CivilizationFactory FunnerT.I.M.E StoriesOrléansLibertaliaMottainaiThe Voyages of Marco PoloHealthy Heart HospitalHocusSpookiesAquaSpherePastiche

And just for those who read all the way to the bottom, I fibbed, there is another Meet the Gamer Segment this coming week, kind of happened on short notice, but it was too good to pass up, so next week we get to meet

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The boardgame blog with worse luck than you! dicehateme.com
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Then on week 74 we get to meet

Jessica Wade
United States
Colonial Heights
Virginia
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Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:40 pm
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