The Gryphon Games bookshelf series: collect 'em all?
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Over the last years, Gryphon Games has been publishing a new series called Gryphon Games bookshelf series, consisting of small games designed to be arrayed on a bookshelf. Some are reprints of existing classics (e.g. For Sale, Incan Gold, Wyatt Earp, Sleuth), others are reprints of lesser known titles or ones that haven't appeared previously in English (e.g. Money, The City, Gem Dealer), others are innovative new games appearing for the first time (e.g. Roll Through the Ages, Xenon Profiteer, Birds on a Wire).

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What they have in common is that they are ideal-sized, and can play in 30-45 minutes. In other words, they're the kind of games that work perfectly as fillers, or for light and social gaming. So should you collect them all? Certainly there are some gems in here! But not all games of the Gryphon Games bookshelf are created equal, and that's what this list is about: how do the different games stack up against each other?

The list below is arranged by average BGG rating, so the order may change slightly over time - so the order these games appear will give some indication of the relative popularity of each game. I've written a pictorial review on most games in the series thus far, so I've included a link to my review, as well as some of my own comments about the merits of each entry in this series. But what do you think? Which ones are essential must-haves? Which ones should be avoided? How do you think the games in this series stack up, and which are best ... and worst?
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1. Board Game: Xenon Profiteer [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:2112]
Board Game: Xenon Profiteer
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#17 in the series.

Board Game: Xenon Profiteer


Short version: A clever and fun deck-building game with a unique theme and some unique mechanisms.

Longer version: This is a deckbuilder with a real X-factor, starting with the title and with the theme: the difficult and expensive chemical process of isolating high purity Xenon. It's well implemented, and combined with a twist on traditional deck-building: not only do you add cards to your deck as the game progresses, but it's equally important to remove cards from your deck, "distilling" elements so that you're left only with Xenon, which will help you fulfil contracts for points. You'll also use money to buy upgrade cards for your Air Separation Facility to make your distillation system more efficient and powerful. The mechanism in which you're deconstructing your deck as well as constructing it is brilliant, and the different Upgrade cards used to improve your Air Separation Facility ensures good variety and replayability, with numerous combos and strategies to explore. There's plenty of interesting decisions, without it ever becoming brain-burning. For 2-4 players, Xenon Profiteer is a good entry deckbuilder, with great artwork and quality components, a unique theme, and most importantly satisfing game-play. Truly a breath of fresh air!

My review: Adding a breath of fresh air to the deckbuilding genre
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1555212
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2. Board Game: For Sale [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:310]
Board Game: For Sale
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#4 in the series.

Board Game: For Sale


Short version: A brilliant auction game, and one of the all time best fillers.

Longer version: This auction game has the highest average rating of all the games in the bookshelf series so far, and deservedly so - it's such great value, and there's room for it in virtually every collection. For Sale is an amazing filler, and rightly called by some The King of Fillers! It has everything you could ever want in a filler game - it's fast, it's fun, it's interactive, it's easy to learn. Of all the fillers I own, especially those which work with non-gamers, I would put For Sale at the top of the list. It always goes over well! The artwork is great, especially since each card has a different animal pictured on the property, so this can be a point of humour when auctioning off the different buildings. There's lots of tension during the auction phase, and the simultaneous auction for the currency cards at the end often features lots of hilarity, with both groans and pleasant surprises. What more could you ask for in a satisfying auction game that plays in about 15 minutes? This is an amazing game, given the amount of fun and tension it packs into a short time, and how accessible it is. If you don't have this in your collection yet, now is the time to get it. A big thumbs up to Gryphon Games for getting this back into print!

My review: So you're wondering about the new Gryphon edition of For Sale
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/378346
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3. Board Game: High Society [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:549]
Board Game: High Society
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#5 in the series.

Board Game: High Society


Short version: A classic Knizia auction game that will still please today, a super filler for gamers.

Longer version: High Society is another established auction game that has stood the test of time, and already has a proven track record of success as a solid filler. I'm not overly crazy on the theme, and in that regard I personally prefer artwork that offers a caricature of luxury possessions. But I doubt that people take the theme seriously, and more important than the theme or the artwork is the game-play. High Society is a brilliant bidding game, and offers a lot of tension and fun for the 20 minutes of time it takes to play. Both the Misfortune cards as well as the rule that the player with least money at the end is ineligible to win help create deliciously difficult choices. In the final analysis High Society is slightly more complex than For Sale, and is a great quick auction game for more hardcore gamers, but it can be enjoyed with non-gamers as well. If you're look for a quick and tense filler with some meat on it, grab the Gryphon Games edition while you can! It's not quite as accessible as For Sale, but it's arguably more tense and skilful, and provides some agonizing but satisfying decisions and exciting game-play. For Sale is probably better value and gets more table time since it's a game for all ages, but as a gamer I'd rather play repeated games of High Society - highly recommended as an auction game.

My review: Knizia! Auctions! Super filler! New edition!
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/378813
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4. Board Game: Sleuth [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1271]
Board Game: Sleuth
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#15 in the series.

Board Game: Sleuth


Short version: A welcome reprint of an outstanding and classic deduction game by legendary game designer Sid Sackson.

Longer version: Sleuth is a classic deduction game that first appeared in 1971, and has gone through several editions over the years. It takes the core deductive elements from the classic detective game Clue and distills their essence into a pure deduction game, arguably one of the best ever in the genre. The basic concept of the game is that one card is removed from a deck of 36 gems, and the aim is to be the first player to use deduction to figure out the missing card. Unlike Clue, which has a generous dollop of luck through dice rolling and movement, Sleuth relies on pure deduction and logic. Gryphon Games released a new edition in 2012 as part of their Sid Sackson Signature Series line, which I have reviewed, and now more recently the game has been given a new box so that it can be part of the bookshelf series. It's not for everyone, since it requires clear thinking and razor sharp logic, but it has a solid time-tested reputation, and should especially please deduction game fans.

My review: One of the best pure deduction games
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/900272
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5. Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:767]
Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age
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#2 in the series.

Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age


Short version: A brilliant and innovative design for a dice game with a strong civilization theme.

Longer version: A filler that's a civ game with dice? As long as you're not expecting a sumo wrestler the size of Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, and judge the game on its own merits as a dice-rolling filler game, Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age has to be commended for offering a genuinely civilization experience packed into 30 minutes. There's a basic tech tree, there's interesting choices, there's tension, and there's a high fun factor. It first made an appearance as part of this series, and has been a big hit. For me, the innovative game-play and civ-theme makes this one of my favourite games in the series. A big thumbs up!

My review: Pandemic's designer gives us a quick civilization game with dice that actually works!
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/380167
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6. Board Game: Musée [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:4123]
Board Game: Musée
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#16 in the series.

Board Game: Musée


Short version: A quick card game by Alf Seegert for 2-4 players, about filling up your museum with beautiful artwork.

Longer version: Inspired by the success of games like Lost Cities and Battle Line, Alf Seegert has long wanted to make an elegant and satisfying card game, and Musee is that game. Players are collecting valuable works of art and putting them on display in their own personal art museum, the Musée. I've now played it multiple times, and it is just as terrific as it sounds. Here is part of the BGG description: "Each gallery must be organized properly by exhibit number, but to succeed you must balance your passion for order with the need for public acclaim. Impress visitors by tastefully positioning works of art side-by-side showing similar themes. Make sure you don't get too greedy for applause, though — doing so might disorganize your collection and keep you from displaying any more paintings. The first player to complete each separate gallery will open the exhibition early and receive extra recognition. The player who displays the most compelling combination of artworks in the most artistic manner wins." Special mention should be made of the outstanding components, particularly the beautiful over-sized cards which include sixty unique fine art images from 15th-20th century artists. This is a very promising addition to the bookshelf series, and proves to be a delightful couples game that is elegant and yet requires thoughtful decisions!

My review: Beautiful art in a beautiful game that scratches your Lost Cities itch
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1393768
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7. Board Game: Wyatt Earp [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1194]
Board Game: Wyatt Earp
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#14 in the series.

Board Game: Wyatt Earp


Short version: A great rummy variant from Richard Borg and Mike Fitzgerald with a terrific Western theme, great components, fun casual game play, especially good with 3 players.

Longer version: This game is similar to the titles in the Mystery Rummy series, which largely consists of 2 player games, although Wyatt Earp plays up to 4 players. Players are Sheriffs who are trying to earn the most money by capturing famous outlaws. Game-play revolves around rummy style game-play, but there are quite a few additional mechanics to make it more interesting, and many of these have a strong thematic flavour that really enhances the game. It's worth noting a rule change in the new Gryphon Games edition, where the Photo card variant has now been made the official rule (i.e a Photo card may be played out of turn once the first set of cards is melded for the matching outlaw). This was the designer's originally preferred rule, that was changed by the publisher of the first edition. I have enjoyed the original version for many years, and I'm pleased to see this game join the bookshelf series with improved components (e.g. larger cards); it's a wonderful addition that has to be regarded among the series' best.

My review: A fine new edition of a classic card game joins the Gryphon bookshelf series
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1368394
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8. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:746]
Board Game: Diamant
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#6 in the series.

Board Game: Diamant


Short version: A well-proven and very popular press-your-luck game that will please social gamers of all ages and types.

Longer version: Along with For Sale, High Society, and Roll Through the Ages, I would regard Incan Gold as one of the essential must-haves in the series. As a "go-to" game, for a quick and fun filler, Incan Gold hits the spot, and has a huge amount of a appeal. Here are some of the things that help make it a hit: ● Plays quickly; ● Handles groups of up to 8 easily; ● Press-your-luck gives a huge fun factor; ● Appeals to people of all ages, both young children and older gamers can join in; ● Great looking components; ● Easy rules that are quick to teach. Few other games can provide all these elements in one package. What makes Incan Gold work so well, is that it has a very accessible theme, and a very high fun factor as a result of the press-your-luck factor, combined with simultaneous selection. This cuts out down time, and keeps the game fun for everyone. It's true that you can't expect repeated play with the same group, especially with serious gamers, and the handing out gems during the game can be a little fiddly. But the amount of fun and table time this game has seen with a variety of groups is hard to beat. It appeals to people with all ages, and even with 8 players there's not really any down time. The Gryphon Games edition also has improved some of the components (e.g. the tents) from the earlier Sunriver edition. If you're looking for something to play when grandma comes over, or Uncle Dave and his mischievous 7 year old son, or even when the colleagues from work pop in for some wine and cheese, then you can't go wrong with Incan Gold! Fun, fun, fun!

My review: So you're wondering about the new Gryphon Games edition of Incan Gold
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/401937
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9. Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:2615]
Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age
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#2b in the series.

From gallery of EndersGame


Short version: A deeper and more complex sequel to the excellent civilization themed dice-rolling game Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age

Longer version: Gryphon Games no longer has the publishing rights to Matt Leacock's original Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age game, which was #2 in the Bookshelf series. So they've instead produced a brand new edition of Tom Lehmann's sequel, which replaces the original game as #2 in the series, and is a companion for those who already have the original title. The components of the new edition are good, although it is a bit of a pity that there's no way to squeeze the Mediterranean expansion (available separately) inside the same box. People looking for a lighter and more casual experience, or wanting to have something to introduce to new gamers, will prefer the original Bronze Age game, which was a perfect fit for the series for exactly that reason. I'm not convinced that the Iron Age sequel is a good replacement for it, because it is more complex, and the person looking for a filler game will find it a little too heavy. But that doesn't mean it's not a good game. Gamers will enjoy the additional complexity and strategic choices, and the the more in-depth experience that Iron Age provides. The original game is more accessible, and will appeal to a wider audience, but if you love the original Bronze Age game and want something more juicy and challenging, then definitely consider picking up The Iron Age. While being true to the original concept, it offers more substance and feels like a whole different game. Especially given the wonderful civilization feel that both games offer, these titles deserve the many accolades they have received, and will especially please fans of the roll-and-write genre who are looking for a rewarding game with an immersive theme.

My review: The sequel to Roll Through the Ages joins the Gryphon Games Bookshelf series
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/2286674
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10. Board Game: Wildlife Safari [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1681]
Board Game: Wildlife Safari
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#11 in the series.

Board Game: Wildlife Safari


Short version: Botswana is a rethemed version of the simple and elegant Knizia classic Loco, with the addition of some wonderful animal miniatures.

Longer version: If you are looking for a first rate family game that can serve double-duty as a quick, light, social filler than Botswana should definitely be on your radar. In terms of fun, ease of learning, replayability and simple good value, you would be hard pressed to go wrong with a game of this sort. It is very accessible, has a good fun factor, plays quickly, and has gorgeous components. Featuring a very elegant design, despite some luck of the draw it also enables you to make clever and tense choices, especially in the closing stages of a game.

My review: Lions and Leopards and Elephants...Oh my, what a great new edition of this classic filler!
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/595292
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11. Board Game: Modern Art Card Game [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:2094]
Board Game: Modern Art Card Game
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#9 in the series.

Board Game: Modern Art Card Game


Short version: Knizia's classic "Modern Art" without auctions and with new art still results in a game with a clever Knizia feel.

Longer version: Another Knizia game! 'Masters Gallery" is also published as 'Modern Art The Card Game' (the only difference is the artwork, and size of the box), this game is not to be confused with 'Modern Art' - there are some definite parallels, but this has no auctions. 'Masters Gallery' should be evaluated more as a filler game, and although it's not as superb as For Sale or Roll Through the Ages, it's still a memorable Knizia card game. Unlike some of the other entries in the series, this is not a reprint of an older game, but is a genuinely new product, and for me it was a pleasant surprise. The components are good quality, and the game-play especially with 2 or 3 players can make it a very strategic game. Although there's still some luck of the draw, there's lots of strategic and tense tactical decisions to make. The game also plays quite quickly, is easy to teach, and once you've got the knack of it, you'll find yourself wanting to play it more than once. It's probably not going to be the first choice to play with Uncle Bob, who's played a lifetime of Scrabble and UNO, nor is it going to become the main course on a game night for serious gamers. But it's an intriguing filler for gamers, and will primarily appeal to those looking for a smart filler that plays quickly and yet offers interesting tactical and strategic decisions, with a clever and satisfying Knizia scoring system.

My review: Artist Knizia gives us Modern Art - The Card Game
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/404682
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12. Board Game: Cheeky Monkey [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:2868]
Board Game: Cheeky Monkey
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#19 in the series.

Board Game: Cheeky Monkey


Short version: An animal themed press-your-luck game that is ideal for families and even as a filler for adults.

Longer version: In turns players are drawing animal tokens from a bag, increasing their stash of animals. But if you press your luck too far and draw an animal matching one you've already drawn that turn, you lose everything you've gained that turn. There are also ways to steal tokens from other players, and to get bonuses at the end of the game for being the player with the most tokens of a particular animal. It's an excellent family game with a huge kid-appeal due to the bright colours, the animals, and the simple rules. Press-your-luck games nearly always prove to be fun for families and non-gamers, and this one is no exception. There's also a few interesting elements that add to the interaction, especially the ability to steal animals from the top of your opponents' pile. I've played and reviewed a previous edition of this fun title, and was pleased to see it join the Gryphon Games Bookshelf series, because I think it is an ideal fit, and welcome member of this series!

My review: A fun press-your-luck game gets a new edition
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/2285341
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13. Board Game: The City [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:2111]
Board Game: The City
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#21 in the series.

Board Game: The City


Short version: A 10 minute city-building card game, where cards have multiple uses, and where buildings generate income and victory points.

Longer version: The City has a very respected ancestry, and its genetics can clearly traceable back to the extremely popular card game Race for the Galaxy, which is from the same designer, Thomas Lehmann. The City is definitely a much simpler game, with significantly less of the strategic depth than its ancestor. But it also plays much more quickly, and offers a very rewarding and fun experience given the short game time of only 10 minutes. It's hard to think of games that can provide an experience to match it in that time-span, and that says a lot. While it will never attain the same heights as Race for the Galaxy, due to its lighter feel, it has the real potential to be a big hit, especially now that it is readily available in a quality English edition. Highly recommended!

My review: Race-For-The-Galaxy-Lite finally gets an English edition
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2294554
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14. Board Game: Lords & Ladies [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:7355]
Board Game: Lords & Ladies
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#13 in the series.

Board Game: Lords & Ladies


Short version: A new card game about being a lord/lady in the early 20th century, where the aim is to increase the status of your family by marrying, having children, and hiring servants.

Longer version: This is one of the newer editions to the series and I do not own it and have not yet played it. It plays 2-5 players. The mechanics include hand management and dice rolling, and the theme revolves around the social life of lords and ladies. Part of the game description: "You control a turn of the 20th century noble family and their servants. Over the course of the game you build generations of a family by marrying off lords and ladies to available suitors, hiring servants to give you additional status and powers, attempting to have children with your married lords and ladies, and using gossip cards and servant powers to destroy your rival families' reputations." The average BGG rating at present is somewhat modest 6.62.

A review: Behind the Green Baize Door
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1310125
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15. Board Game: Money! [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1972]
Board Game: Money!
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#1 in the series.

Board Game: Money!


Short version: A solid Knizia blind-bidding & trading game with a strong theme that deserves this reprint.

Longer version: It has to be admitted that Knizia has designed a few dud card games over the years, but this is not one of them! Money is a game that has stood the test of time, and this reprinting and new edition should be regarded as well-deserved and welcomed. It's clever, fast, deep, tense, satisfying, quick, and has got great components - as far as auction fillers go, this is a good one! Players have a 'portfolio' of banknotes, which you try to improve. The main mechanics of simultaneous blind bidding, trading, and set-collecting fit very well with the currency theme. The cards are of good quality, and the artwork is superb - the fact that there's a number of inside jokes only adds to the appeal. Game-play is surprisingly quick, with rounds only taking 15 minutes or less. The game scales well, and proved to be a surprising hit in our home. Not quite in the same league as High Society, Money is still an excellent game with the right people.

My review: So you're wondering about the new Gryphon Games edition of Money!, one of Knizia's best card games
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/491036
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16. Board Game: Titan Dice [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:14827]
Board Game: Titan Dice
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#18 in the series.

From gallery of EndersGame


Short version: A filler game that combines dice and cards, with the theme of warring deities who compete to assemble armies of powerful creatures.

Longer version: This is one of the newest members of the series and I have not played it. It plays with up to 4 players, and can also be played solitaire. Mechanics include dice-rolling, press-your-luck, and managing a dice pool. Cards are also an important part of the game alongside the dice. There's a surprising amount of interaction, and a noteworthy feature of the game-play is that players who drop out stay engaged because they start attacking other players. There's also a deliberately designed tension between using dice to grab cards and wanting to get the creatures needed to win the game.

A review: The Game Boy Geek Previews Titan Dice
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/150247
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17. Board Game: I'm the Boss!: The Card Game [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:11470]
Board Game: I'm the Boss!: The Card Game
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#12 in the series.

Board Game: I'm the Boss!: The Card Game


Short version: A casual and fun negotiation game from Sid Sackson, that shares much with his classic board game.

Longer version: Sid Sackson's "I'm The Boss" is a giant among negotiation games, and in this card game we see the concept that he later developed into the board game. In turns players increase the size of the "pot" in the center of the table, as well as play "piece of the action" cards that give them a stake in the final deal. You can play Reverse cards to make other players get a negative stake instead of a positive (meaning that they pay instead of earn money), and Move cards to move cards from the pot or between players. Negotiation happens when you negotiate with other players, especially the Boss, in connection with such plays. There's some luck of the draw, and expect a measure of chaos due to the powerful cards that can really affect the outcome of a round. But there's enough negotiation to make it a lot of fun with the right group and right amount of players. It's not the best in the book series, but it's also a long way from being the worst.

My review: Sid Sackson joins the Gryphon Games Bookshelf series
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/993356
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18. Board Game: Cornucopia [Average Rating:5.85 Overall Rank:10511]
Board Game: Cornucopia
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#10 in the series.

Board Game: Cornucopia


Short version: A new game with interesting betting elements that keep everyone involved, a super fun filler ideal for families and non-gamers, offering a fun experience of games like For Sale, yet with a completely unique feel.

Longer version: This is the latest edition to the series and I have not yet played it - it has only just hit the shelves. It has a farming theme combined with wagering and set collection mechanics, so early indications suggest it offers something quite new. Part of the game description: "In Cornucopia, your goal is to fill your basket with a bountiful collection of fruits and vegetables, while at the same time correctly predicting how long it will take you to fill your basket. Players can bet and win more coins by correctly predicting the outcome (success or failure) of their opponents’ efforts to assemble their harvest, so players stay involved and engaged in the game even when it is not their turn! Sounds promising, and already the average rating suggests this is not going to be at the bottom of the heap in the series!

Edit: This has now been played about a dozen times, and it's fantastic - one of the entries in the Gryphon Games series that I'm most excited about. Aside from the reprinted classics (For Sale, High Society, and Incan Gold), the only new game in the series that really stood out was Roll Through the Ages, but now add Cornucopia to that list. It has elements of set-collection, press-your-luck, bidding and betting, that come together in a way that creates a very fun game with no downtime, and lots of tension and excitement. Cornucopia does the same thing as "For Sale" - a great 30 minute game for non-gamers or a filler for gamers - but in a very different way and with equal success. Time will tell if it has staying power, but at this point I recommend it highly.

My review: Cornucopia is the new Agricola - the top of the class of For Sale type fillers
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/503629
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19. Board Game: Looting London [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:7381]
Board Game: Looting London
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#7 in the series.

Board Game: Looting London


Short version: The detective theme is thin, but this game has some Ticket-to-Ride type mechanics and clever Knizia elements that offer interesting game-play, but nothing particularly memorable.

Longer version: Now we start getting to some of the weaker games in the series. Another Knizia game. And no it's not a bad game, but it didn't really grab me either. Players are detectives trying to catch a thief in London who has made off with five rare treasures like the crown jewels. It has Ticket-to-Ride-like mechanics: draw and collect cards or play sets of cards to claim point scoring evidence tiles. There are also some typical Knizia scoring twists that add tension and fun to the game, particularly the notion that tiles of one of the five cases will score zero points at the end of the game. But with too many players it can start becoming chaotic, so it's probably best with 2 or 3. The theme is thin, which won't bother those who appreciate the clever scoring that Knizia can offer, and the solid components - the game-play is interesting enough to make it a decent filler. Families brought up on staples like Uno will find the gameplay quite innovative and rewarding, but experienced eurogamers might find that it doesn't quite match the quality they've seen in other games. Will I keep it? Maybe not - not that it's a bad game, but there's just other games I'd rather play.

My review: Another decent Knizia entry in the Gryphon Games series
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/489525
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20. Board Game: Gem Dealer [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:15880]
Board Game: Gem Dealer
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#3 in the series.

Board Game: Gem Dealer


Short version: A rethemed version of an older and rather unsuccessful Knizia auction game, where luck dominates.

Longer version: Knizia, auctions, cards - this sounds familiar! But despite the addition of lovely gem components, Gem Dealer is not in the same league as Knizia's brilliant auction games like Ra, Modern Art, or Medici. It's not intended to be either - this functions more as a light filler, rather than a more meaty main course. As such it succeeds reasonably well, even if it doesn't match the success of his auction fillers like High Society. The decisions to be made aren't earth-shattering, and it has to be admitted that the luck of the draw can play an important role in how each particular game shapes up, although fortunately the game plays quickly so that's not too painful. One redeeming quality of the game are the attractive gems: being able to bid for coloured sparkling jewels already adds a bit of excitement to the game. This is actually a rethemed reprint of Knizia's earlier "Attacke", which Knizia later developed into "Ivanhoe" by adding some special cards and streamlining other aspects of the game. As a gamer, I personally prefer the additions of Ivanhoe, although Gem Dealer can be suitable for families and children, particularly with the simple auction mechanic and great components. For me, this is at the bottom of the pile in the series, and the current average rating for this game seems to confirm it.

My review: Another auction gem from Knizia, or is Ivanhoe better?
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/380833
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21. Board Game: Birds on a Wire [Average Rating:5.25 Overall Rank:20368]
Board Game: Birds on a Wire
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#8 in the series.

Board Game: Birds on a Wire


Short version: A cute "birdy" theme and components, and a reasonable diversion when played quickly with the Advanced Game rules.

Longer version: I concede that my first few plays of this game were somewhat disappointing. The theme sounded novel enough: based on the Pixar short "For the Birds", players draw and place bird tiles on their boards, trying to create point-scoring sets. But the game comes with two sets of rules, and our first experience with the Family Game rules didn't quite live up to expectations. But that all changed when we played with the Advanced Game rules. Quick game play allowed for playing a series of games in one sitting, and choices became more tense and interesting. There's also some interesting and well-themed twists revolving around the mechanics of Zapping and Migration. I think the game has been hurt somewhat (hence the lower average rating) by people starting with the Family Game rules, and finding the experience a bit "meh". Play with the Advanced Game rules folks - and trust me, they're not really that "Advanced"! It's not the most outstanding game in the series by any means, but I'll still pull it out from time to time, and it's still a keeper. Not for everyone though, and maybe more suited for families than die-hard gamers.

My review: Game #8 in the Gryphon Games bookshelf series
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/498240
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22. Board Game: Tic-Tac-Toe [Average Rating:2.69 Overall Rank:21397]
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Overall I think the average rating for these games is a fairly reliable indication as to my own thoughts about the relative merits of the games in this series.

Family: Series: Bookshelf (Gryphon Games)


My final recommendations in order, from must-haves to least-haves:
(3 stars = outstanding, 2 stars = decent, 1 star = mediocre)

For Sale, Roll Through the Ages, Incan Gold, Wyatt Earp, Xenon Profiteer, The City
High Society, Botswana, Cheeky Monkey, Sleuth, Musee
Cornucopia, Money, Masters Gallery
I'm The Boss: The Card Game, Looting London
Birds on a Wire, Gem Dealer

unplayed: Lords & Ladies, Titan Dice, Fleet: The Dice Game

Which of these games are your favourites, and why?
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From gallery of EndersGame
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BGG's Family page for the series.

Family: Series: Bookshelf (Gryphon Games)
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