Published in 2017: Best and Worst games I've played and what remains to be tried. Opinions & suggestions are welcome!
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Bah, it took longer than ever but here it is, I present you the list of the games published in 2017 that I have played.

Published in a given year series metalist

The numbered ("ranked") games in this list (first two pages) are these games. You can comment why you agree or why you think I'm stupid to think a game is good when it's terrible.

Then (page 3 & 4) you'll see the games I still would like to try. You can tell me why I should avoid them based on the first pages or why I should choose one to be the next one I try.

The rest is for your suggestions: If you think there are other games not listed that I should try (published in 2017 according to BGG) based on my opinions about the games I played.


Just some notes:
1. With the few occasions to play I could not be as selective in what I play as I usually like. There are quite a few important titles missing and there are unfortunately a few rather weak games in the end.
2. You'll see I prefer some fillers over complex games. I don't think that's an outrage.
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1. Board Game: Heaven & Ale [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:262]
Board Game: Heaven & Ale
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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#1
Times played: 4

For quite a while I could not decide which game published in 2017 was the best one I learned but the more I kept thinking the more I admired this design. After reading the rules the game didn't seem to be very streamlined and indeed I wouldn't call it Michael Kiesling's cleanest design but even if it's not that elegant, it's got a rather good structure where everything has its function in the mechanism. It's got Samurai-ish tile-laying which of course I like. It's actually closer to Seeland (which is a rare non-Kiesling co-design by Wolfgang Kramer from the 2000s) - you collect plant and other tiles from a - kind of - rondel (in a way it's Tikal II-ish, at least that's a Kramer/Kiesling predecessor); just to place them on a hex map where you score them depending on their sum value when something is surrounded. By the second play it became clear that even if you can place these tiles wherever you like it needs quite a bit of planning and perfect timing to put them to the right places. Then there is the scoring action which reminds me of how the scoring actions go in Palaces of Carrara (score type, score 'city' - tiles around a monk - and one scoring for a selected number, but you may score each only once), only with more fierce competition for the possibility of scoring (scoring actions are commonly available on the track and whoever goes there first would score them).

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Oh, and the endgame (VP) scoring is especially to my liking - I don't know what it is, but I love multiplier scoring (collect A, collect B, your score is A times B), even though it's spiced up with the Knizian 'highest lowest' concept (instead of A you have A1, A2, A3, A4, A5 and your score is Amin times B) but also with an idea that makes the role of the brewmaster (B) more important - the more he's ahead the better ratio you have for exchanging different resources (As) in the end. It can of course make scores more different than in many so-called 'very balanced' games but I think it's part of the charm of this game.
On the negative side, the game is, well, not very thematic. Theme and look does help in playing it but you won't really feel like monks gardening, growing the ingredients of beer, then brewing them etc. But whatever, when did it bother me much? I love this design and after only 4 plays I can say I have a feeling that despite its 'modern' complexity it's going to have an old-fashioned kind of good replayability - which is cool. So I wasn't surprised to see this one among the three Kennerspiel nominees at all...
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2. Board Game: Unlock!: Escape Adventures [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Board Game: Unlock!: Escape Adventures
Laszlo Molnar
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Budapest
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#2
Times played: 2

I hadn't played many escape room board games before (nor ever since), but to me this one seems to be the perfect adaptation, getting as close to a real escape game experience as it can, entering rooms, looking around, trying to find clues, trying to find out how to combine stuff... And as a Hungarian version was published, I could also play it with family and they loved it.
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3. Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:180] [Average Rating:7.59 Unranked]
Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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#3
Times played: 11

Deck-building meets race game in a new game from Reiner Knizia (who is maybe 'back' for some gamers now - well, even I didn't put a new Knizia in the top 3 since 2009 - well, I still had at least one in the top 10 almost every year ). While not really a gamers' game, it's an advanced family game on about the same level as Ticket to Ride UK. Lots of small ideas and still a streamlined design; a really good game from the good doctor. See my detailed review and analysis here.

Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado
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4. Board Game: LYNGK [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:1552] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Board Game: LYNGK
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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#4
Times played: 4

GIPF project #8 (well, officially, #7) is good. I have no idea about depth, long-time replayability and so on after three plays so don't ask. What I know it is really an 'umbrella project' as Kris Burm states, having stronger and weaker relations to all the GIPF titles in its mechanism while it has its own features as well. The most easily visible connections are to two GIPF titles that are amongst my favorites (while I really like each!), TZAAR and DVONN, and just like in DVONN, I have no idea how to win but that doesn't stop me enjoying it immensely. Criticism? It might have the fiddliest rules for the series, slightly less elegant than the other ones (yes, including TZAAR and PÜNCT) but that is partly a result of being an umbrella project and it's still not baroque much so I won't complain for 'unnecessary complexity' or stuff. So far so good, it's definitely got that Project GIPF feel so I'm celebrating the return of the series.

From gallery of lacxox
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5. Board Game: Codenames: Duet [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:153] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Board Game: Codenames: Duet
Laszlo Molnar
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Budapest
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#5
Times played: 3

So, after Codenames was #1 in 2015 and Codenames: Pictures was #3 in 2016, this ranking shows Duet is a couple of further steps down... What's the problem? Well, nothing really. In some aspects it is probably the best game of the three. It's the most tense one with really good 2-player rules that are way better than the original. It's not easy, it's even tricky (even in how it feels to vote for a codename that is the assassin if you watch it from your side). However what the duet version loses is the real multiplayer fun (yes I know you can play it in two teams, communicating only on paper), including fun trash talk and creatively bad guesses given to your opposing team and so on. The game is, in many ways, a better game for gamers, in fact it's genial, but it's not as good as a party game anymore. As Codenames is first and foremost a thinky party game, losing the party game part is a bigger loss than I would have guessed (even though, I repeat, Duet is really good).

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6. Board Game: Chimera Station [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:936]
Board Game: Chimera Station
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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#6
Times played: 1

This is a relatively complex (even though not that heavy)worker placement Euro that still manages to incorporate some really fun ideas. The aliens (workers) and the way you can upgrade them with components like pawns or brains or sell the same components for scientific research are fun and great while the tinkering with the space station (placing action spaces on a hex map like in e.g. Terraforming Mars) works fine and is still rather interesting. I'm not sure about depth but this is a well-developed and fun complexish Euro that I'd like to replay any time.
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7. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:45] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
Board Game: Azul
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
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#7
Times played: 17

Kiesling #2.: last year I wrote 'Okay, a SdJ recommendation is in stock (might be nomination as well), even though I'm not sure if this beautiful abstractish game does or does not have the SdJ fun factor.' The game is elevated by the use of the beautiful game pieces (not only beautiful, but it's even a great feeling to touch those stones or hear them knock each other), but it's also a nice game mechanically, with some spatial combination, some wanted and some unwanted confrontation and some possible cursing in the end of some rounds. A relatively simple game well-executed and really a pleasure to look at.

From gallery of lacxox


Interestingly, the game manages to be so good despite many imperfections. While 4-player play might be a bit too hard to plan for and seating order can have a strong effect on who wins, I'm not sure I'm satisfied by the luck factor in the two-player game. Somewhat hesitantly, I might join to those who say there should be fewer tiles for fewer players in the bag. 2-player, the game either has 5 rounds - and it's rather hard to get 15 of the 20 same-colored tiles if your oponent watches what you're doing so color bonus is rare - or probably ends in 6 rounds which means the tile distribution is almost completely random in the last round which is anyway the round where you score most, so the lack of a certain color (or a certain number of tiles in a color) might help or destroy your chances greatly. In a 3-player game it's already probable that all the tiles turn up at least twice during the game. I'm not saying it's a major problem with Azul, but it's one of the reasons why I enjoy it more with more than 2 players; also proof that a mechanism with slight problems still can make a very good game.
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8. Board Game: Sagrada [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:150]
Board Game: Sagrada
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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#8
Times played: 7

Sagrada is, in many ways, similar to (while also fundamentally different from) Azul, so maybe it's not that surprising the two are so close in my list as well. In some ways I even prefer this one to Azul, but as Azul is so popular with everyone we just play that one more.
Sagrada is a dice game that feels like something between Rolling Japan and Take it Easy! with a bit more rules and combinations. So, a kind of puzzle that is kind of multiplayer solitaire (but isn't completely - you don't all place the same dice to your 'glass windows' but choose dice rolled from a common pool each round). Just like in Rolling Japan, you need to follow a few excruciating dice placement rules which gets increasingly hard as the game progresses, but you lose points for empty spaces in the end. Or as in Take it easy!, you would like to score a lot for a few different features (shown on three randomly drawn common aim cards and a secret own aim card) but the last few dice make your (until then) perfect rows and columns bad... Even though you also have three randomly drawn tool cards that you may use a limited number of times and these certainly help quite a bit. Overall, I really like the challenge it provides even though luck factor may be a bit too high in the end - if it starts to bother me it's rather easy to tweak the rules slightly. Oh yes, and it also offers a solo game option which can be really hard - already slightly challenging on the easiest level.

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9. Board Game: Gaia Project [Average Rating:8.49 Overall Rank:8]
Board Game: Gaia Project
Laszlo Molnar
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#9
Times played: 1

So, Terra Mystica in space. As a fan of dudes on a map, I really liked Terra Mystica when I played, despite its rules complexity. No, I'm not fan of unnecessary complexity which doesn't mean I can't like complex games. Unlike a baroque Lacerda game (and more like Heaven & Ale above), Terra Mystica felt like a complex but functional system where everything had some interesting effect on the game. So how does Gaia Project compare? On the positive side, it has a variable map set-up (in accordance with the theme, a lot more 'river' - space - spaces, so less blocking) and variable end game scoring possibilities. On the negative side (for me), it feels more complex than Terra Mystica (which was already at the upper limit of what I can enjoy) as instead of some simple race for cults you have kind of 'tech trees' here with different rewards for moving to each space - which also means it's harder to move up on these spaces here than in TM. Also it's less about competing for first place on these tracks now (but I liked that little race element of TM more). Also the look: I prefer the look and theme of the original more; it's just more satisfying to play with wooden pieces on a visually appealing map of rivers and different areas than with - good quality - plastic pieces on a black map full of planets. So, in short, I appreciate some of the changes but it's still inferior for me, not only because of the theme and look, but also the additional complexity which makes its mechanism a slightly less beautiful structure for me. But of course I need to add a big DISCLAIMER here: I've played both Terra Mystica and Gaia Project exactly once, so I just can't tell which one fares better in the long term.
Board Game: Gaia Project
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10. Board Game: Yamataï [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:541]
Board Game: Yamataï
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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#10
Times played: 1

This is a Cathala-Days of Wonder co-product (a really beautiful one even with its wooden components) which is compared to Five Tribes by practically every geek. It is compared even if there is a newcomer co-designer, Marc Paquien here, who probably had the first prototype with the idea of building routes with materials (transport ships) that surround hexes (more or less) where buildings may be erected using these materials. This is the base idea while the rest, the development of the game is very Cathala: specialists are really like the djinns of Five Tribes and the game is also played in rounds with a new player order each round (and in a 2-player game both players play twice each round).
The way new player order is determined is more organic to the gameplay than in Five Tribes, and while it's a standard Euro stuff and clearly a Cathala development, I really like it. There are 10 boat tiles in the game (providing actions and resources, but also defining player number) but om each round only 5 of them are face-up. Just like in Cathala's Mr. Jack games it is crucial for your success to be able to count on the other characters/actions that will be available only in the next turn - here you may expect 4 of the 5 face-down boat tiles turn up in the next round. Otherwise, the game feels different from Five Tribes. It's less of a point salad game now - you mainly get points for specialists and for buildings built -, more plannable, so in feel closer to a 'usual' complex Euro. On the other hand, of course it also means it feels less unique than FT, also a bit drier. After one play I can say I prefer FT over this but there will be many on the other opinion. I also like it, but as it's less opaque and more about longer-term strategies, it might be slightly less accessible for gateway gamers.
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11. Board Game: Ethnos [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:235]
Board Game: Ethnos
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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#11
Times played: 2


While in general I really like John Howe's artwork I think it was a terrible idea to publish this game with this image on the cover; I think it made harm to the game. It's a pretty good light and variable tactics/strategy game. Push your luck combined with different race combinations each time you play, serving some area majority on a basic small board: it's a fast little family game (with sometimes the game ending faster than you'd like but that might be houseruled somewhat) but many families won't try it because of the dark cover.

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12. Board Game: Flanx [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:7076]
Board Game: Flanx
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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#12
Times played: 1


This is a really fun supershort filler. Dobble-style reaction game, Escape- and jigsaw puzzle-like tile laying two player (black vs white, so even with the hint of aaa... speed abstract strategy game?), with the aim to get behind the lines of your opponent. I guess the only bad thing I can say about this is that even if it's portable (the box is smaller than that of Dobble), it needs table space so you can't play it on the train, in the car, and not even in all of the hotel rooms where playing supershort fillers is always good fun. Well, it's just really good; I'd love to see my son win big time against me.

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13. Board Game: Majesty: For the Realm [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:790]
Board Game: Majesty: For the Realm
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
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#13
Times played: 7


Marc André (Splendor, Barony) has done it again with maybe the lightest and surely the fastest game of his trio: Majesty is accessibble, quite fun, beautiful, and packs enough in a 20-minute game to make you want to play more. Also while it's a tableau builder and there is no direct interaction (well, if I get a knight card and you don't have enough protection you temporarily lose your leftmost card but that's it), practically each card has an effect that is in connection with others' actions or tableaus. It does have variation in its set-up while it's already replayable with the basic set of buildings. It offers a kind of very light "civ game in 30 minutes" feel perfect for families. So once again, playing it for the first time last year, I guessed right it would get a Spiel des Jahres recommendation.

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14. Board Game: Magic Maze [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:475]
Board Game: Magic Maze
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
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#14
Times played: 24

This game is really like the designers decided to make an advanced Escape: The Curse of the Temple (each figure goes to a different exit! Timing of when - and where - to turn the sandtimer is up to you! Everyone moves each figure! PLayers have special abilities/roles! Even the figures have special abilities themselves!) and the idea of how the players cooperate is ingenious - you are gears of a machine, alpha player problem is mostly eliminated. The movement tile in front of you is the one that tells which direction you may move the figures into, so a seemingly simple right-forward-left-forward-left-forward move needs the cooperation of three different players.
However in the end I had a feeling there is something missing for me who had played Escape more than fifty times before. Yes, partly it's the forced theme, but more importantly, I miss the feel of being with a single adventurer/dwarf, crying for help or helping others, which makes it less personal, less of a story. And as I wrote in my Spiel des Jahres pro/con blog post, as for personal preferences, I must admit I find that "simultaneous, crazy dice-rolling and reacting, choosing, rerolling as fast as you can" feeling of Escape slightly more fun (definitely more tense) than the one present here.
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15. Board Game: Tak [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:784]
Board Game: Tak
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
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#15
Times played: 9

As maybe my LYNGK entry already suggests, I like abstracts but obviously I'm not a hardcore abstract strategy fan. So I appreciate those abstract strategy games where I'm not completely clueless in the beginning and I have some guesses on what I should do. Tak is this kind of game, even though it really made me angry - this game (universy edition) is so overpriced that it infuriates me. For 42 small low-quality wooden tiles (one of the dark squares almost looks light!) and a low-quality small board (with a somewhat shiny finish) half the price would be the maximum reasonable. Still thinking of selling it and then making an own and better-looking copy.

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But that's not about the game design itself. It's a really good little abstract strategy game and while hardcore abstract strategy fans might find it shallow or unoriginal (whatever), I can find it a game that rewards creativity and is enjoyable.
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16. Board Game: Queendomino [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:417] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Board Game: Queendomino
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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#16
Times played: 4

I like Queendomino. I guess I wouldn't, had I loved Kingdomino. I like Kingdomino and know how good it can be for non-gamers, but even though I know it has quite a few gamer fans, I always felt it was lacking some substance. You all know I'm not the complexity-obsessed modern Eurogamer type, but while I thought (and was right) Kingdomino had slightly more chance to win Spiel des Jahres than the other two games, I was somewhat rooting for the other two more. I enjoyed it way more with the 7x7 2-player rules which were just listed as a variant in the original Kingdomino.

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In Queendomino the rules already state that 2-player you play 7x7, and 5x5 only with more. Also, there is a variant which mixes Kingdomino with Queendomino which makes it possible to play 7x7 with 3 and 4 as well. That's already a big plus for me (even though I must admit playing the game 7x7 4-player can overstay its welcome). But I also like the extra layer added to the game. I wouldn't say it's very innovative - collect money, buy and build cities (different endgame scoring options) to your Kingdom - but it adds the extra substance that was missing for me. while not that innovative, it still has some interesting little ideas (e.g. for collecting tax from your fields: you need your knights in time to have enough money but also the bigger the area you send your knights to the more they can bring you; the queen figurine also brings interesting advantages) while the available different scoring options also make your decisions slightly more interesting. The changes still don't make Kingdomino great (what's more I'm sure some of the beginners who liked Kingdomino may find it too complex for them) but more of a game that I can like and enjoy. Surprisingly it's true for my 7-year-old daughter as well - she liked Kingdomino... somewhat, but was excited playing Queendomino. Okay, that might have a lot to do with the queen figurine...
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17. Board Game: Axio [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:4950]
Board Game: Axio
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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#17
Times played: 9

Knizia #2 - Although it won't be as popular as Ingenious ever, mainly because it was released too late, I think this game is a great variant of Ingenious (now Axio Hex) with a very enjoyable addition - the pyramids. Without the pyramids it becomes obvious the best shapes were used in Ingenious for the mechanism, as having only 4 directions for scoring is a lot more limiting than 6. Enter the pyramids (to be placed on enclosed empty squares, scoring 1 point for each color sign next to them) and it doesn't simply provide a new way to score but also new strategic considerations and new possibilities. Had it been released 12 years ago, I guess it would have been a lot bigger success than it is now, but it might be as good a game as the original was.

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18. Board Game: Santa Maria [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:327]
Board Game: Santa Maria
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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#18
Times played: 1

Santa Maria is more or less a standard complex Euro but it's still quite good and I enjoyed playing it - the Eilif Svensson, Kristian Amundsen Østby duo seems to work fine (I was in the jury for the Hungarian Board Game Award this year where they won for Avenue which is a fine family 'draw and write' game). This is their most complex co-design to date and it has all the checkboxes of JASEs with tableau-building, tracks you can advance on, tasks you can fulfill and so on. But I like the lots of combination possibilities that are possibly not as heavy/deep as fun: practically you keep doing these combinations to be able to have more and more actions in a year, all the while you also keep collecting stuff for points, and this dynamic is rather unique and fun. And, well, in the end there is a real point salad scoring (for filled rows and columns, sets of different ships, different scoring tiles, remaining money etc.). But what makes it quite interesting is the use of dice on the matrixes you build on your tableau - they are used to activate rows (own dice) or columns (common dice) while they also cover action spaces on your tableau. I think I can't explain how it can be interesting but while it was still pretty much a usual complex Euro I enjoyed having a few choices different from what I usually do in games like these.

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19. Board Game: Amun-Re: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:4541]
Board Game: Amun-Re: The Card Game
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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#19
Times played: 2

Knizia #3 - Amun-Re: The Card Game is a more streamlined - and somewhat simplified - version of Amun-Re but more than that: it brings some elements of Ra to the game, so it's almost like a mix of the two. It is probably not that surprising theme-wise since back in Egypt Amun and Ra was combined to create Amun-Ra (Amon-Re, Amun-Re etc.) and well, the theme of the two games were also already close enough before.
Ra-related ideas include having 3 epochs (instead of practically two in the original) with scoring after each and the pharaoh scoring taken directly from Ra (score a fixed number of points for most and least pharaohs in your area; do not discard them afterwards - well, not quite here, but still). Also the way money is handled moves the auction a bit to the direction of Ra with having fixed value money cards to bid with - but with more freedom given by letting players assemble their money card portfolio in the beginning of the epoch.
Without power cards and temples, also only one sacrifice per epoch, also handling of farmers and construction of pyramids being a lot simpler, the game is not only simpler but also a lot faster than Amun-Re which is welcome for a card game. The lack of power cards means no hidden information and a removed luck element while having fewer than 5 players still might cause some imbalance in the areas that turn up and those that do not (but, well, it's less of a problem with a game of this length).
Overall, while I love boards and maps, it's a very successful adaptation to card game form - I'd even say it's better than I expected, even though I have slight concerns about the scalability of the game (camels).

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20. Board Game: Clans of Caledonia [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:41]
Board Game: Clans of Caledonia
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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#20
Times played: 1

I think it was in 2011 when, playing Cargo Noir, I just started thinking about how many games of a specific resource conversion type I had already learned - they were all about collect some resources, exchange them, exchange them more (if thematic, then produce etc.) until you have a set of resources that you can use to get scoring cards for. I think it didn't take much time to find out it all started with Sid Sackson's Bazaar. So Clans of Caledonia exactly a game like this, even though it disguises itself as some Terra Mystica-like game with 'races' ('roles' with a strong effect on gameplay like in The Voyages of Marco Polo), a hexagonal map and a personal board full of your wooden components that you have to place on the board to be able to produce the stuff they cover on your tableau in the beginning of the game. Also an important part is the market where you can send traders and influence price by selling or buying so you don't have to produce everything. So in the end the game is fine and well-developed... it just isn't nearly as great as Terra Mystica, the game it undoubtedly takes clues from.

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21. Board Game: NMBR 9 [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:823]
Board Game: NMBR 9
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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#21
Times played: 3

NMBR 9 is an interesting, light but fun multiplayer solitaire game in the spirit of Take it Easy! and its descendants, only in 3D. In each of the games I played I could improve my score and I can see there is quite a lot to learn. I'm still unsure about long-term replayability (the number of really different combinations seems to be limited) but until then, it's a good one.

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22. Board Game: Caverna: Cave vs Cave [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:599]
Board Game: Caverna: Cave vs Cave
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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#22
Times played: 8

While I'm not amongst those who prefer Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small over the big brother (I do like both games!), this time I can say I'm ready to play this rather simplified version over Caverna anytime. What's interesting is while Agricola and Caverna are really similar games (Caverna feeling more like a rework of Agricola), the simplified two-player versions distill different important features of the big games to the small, short version, providing an interesting challenge of building your VP-making engine. For example the way you can choose from more and more actions each round and time after time getting an extra worker is something that was already present in Agricola but not in ACBAS; this is implemented well here. Also Cave vs. Cave solves one problem of Caverna with the solution that room tiles become available in a random order and as a result of your digging action (well it's also not a bloated monster anymore, while feeding becomes an integral part of the game more than in any of its big brothers).
It's interesting to think about all these good solutions in the design because when I first read the rules I just thought it's nothing really interesting, collect tiles, build your VP engine and indeed for many it can be more fun to collect and breed your little animeeple... But the more I play this game the more interesting it gets. It's not among Uwe's most fun games but it's really good.

From gallery of lacxox

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23. Board Game: Istanbul: The Dice Game [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:843]
Board Game: Istanbul: The Dice Game
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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#23
Times played: 4

Surprise, surprise, while the unique part of Istanbul was how you moved your tokens on the board and combined them, the dice game adaptation is rather good even though it replaces this spatial aspect with a pretty basic dice rolling (and not even automatic re-rolls). Yes, it simplifies lots of stuff to its bare minimum (well, just like 'Dorn' used to do it, wink-wink) but whatever, it's fun (even though mostly tactical) and the kids like it as well, so it might pave the road to the 'real thing' for my family (as they don't have to learn all the rules from zero then).

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24. Board Game: Voodoo Prince [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:2818]
Board Game: Voodoo Prince
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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#24
Times played: 2

Knizia #4 - Voodoo Prince is a really tricky spin on the trick-taking card game genre (part of a cardgame line started with Skull King) that not only scales well but (while keeping the essence of the game) it plays quite different with different player numbers. In this game you stop playing as soon as you took a pre-defined number of tricks, scoring as many points as the tricks in front of your opponents. But the last man standing (the one who is the last to finish the round) scores only the number of points he collected, not the opponents. So you try to be the second to last to finish a round, which is rather different in a 5-, than in a 3-player game (where you try to have a few tricks already won by the time the first player leaves, otherwise you'll probably end up winning the fewest points). And with the special 2-player rules it's still about trying to win as late into the game as you can - or, this time, it's also good if you force your opponent to win 7 tricks while you don't win much, although it's a harder aim to reach. Also, I found all the special cards were important tools (and double-edged swords) in the game which was great (but of course that's something I would expect from expert card game designer Dr. Reiner Knizia). However the scoring is so twisted that I got confused more than once in my first 2-player play - but I don't think that's a bad thing.

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25. Board Game: Medici: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:2297]
Board Game: Medici: The Card Game
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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#25
Times played: 4

Knizia #5 - so Knizia's fifth best game published last year gets only the last item on the first page of the list? Well yes, but we're still at good games so no problem! This one is an auctionless and definitely lighter cardgame adaptation of Medici. And you know what? It's good. It's lighter, faster, with more focus on push your luck this time (almost like in a dice game where you have two rerolls but have to accept your last roll, also a bit feeling like Circus Flohcati still with more tactical possibilities) and it even looks good with Vincent Dutrait's artwork. I like it and it's a perfect tool to introduce Medici to those who aren't that into auctions.

Click here if you want to read the rest of the list (still quite a few good games there), also about the best expansions and kids' games published in 2017 >>
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