The real Schotten-Totten family: Reiner Knizia’s variations on a great idea
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Yes, Reiner Knizia does revisit some of his ideas time after time. The question is, is that a problem if he can add something new to the idea again and again?

This time let's have a look at the games based on a seemingly simple, but ingenious idea. Two players are figthing for tricks with poker or rummy combinations, or maybe only with numbered cards; higher combination or highest total sum wins. The idea that makes this very interesting is that you are placing cards to several tricks at the same time, all the time having the possibility to choose where to play a card from your hand. I think Knizia lists these games under the category "Category games".
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1. Board Game: Blazing Aces! A Fistful of Family Card Games [Average Rating:6.76 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.76 Unranked]
Board Game: Blazing Aces! A Fistful of Family Card Games
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As I don't own Reiner Knizia's old game compendiums and haven't seen any of his early games published in magazines I start with the one I know: East-west, published in this book in 1995.
Board Game: Blazing Aces! A Fistful of Family Card Games

East-west is played with 32 traditional playing cards (value 7 to A). You place 3 cards face-up above each other: these cards belong to both players and players are fighting for these cards. Play cards alternately to your side until both players have placed 4 cards to each rows. A row is won by the player with the higher combination; if you win 2 rows you won.
There are some variants added: according to the strategic variant, you have some cards in hand, you can play with 5 rows and 52 cards, or with a Doubling Die you put your opponent under pressure (see backgammon).
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2. Board Game: Head-to-Head Poker [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:12095]
Board Game: Head-to-Head Poker
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Head-to-Head poker is the closest relative of East-West from Blazing Aces!. Here a die is added for variation (to determine how each hand is played).
Board Game: Head-to-Head Poker

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3. Board Game: Knights Poker [Average Rating:6.52 Unranked]
Board Game: Knights Poker
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According to the BGG page this 2019 game originally appeared at Nakameguro's board game bar “GALLERIA6” and was requested so much that it was finally published as well. It seems to me you have values 1 to 6 in 5 colors, so altogether 30 tiles to choose from, also a 'hand' of four tiles, and just like in the dice game variants, you play 3 tiles to each of the 3 flags (so you get to see 24 of the 30 tiles, randomly drawn from a bag).

Board Game: Knights Poker

image by Dopeski

Otherwise it seems to be standard issue with some strange (intriguing?) scoring - maybe for recording the games?

Board Game: Knights Poker

image by Mikademus



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4. Board Game: Schotten Totten [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:395]
Board Game: Schotten Totten
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Some years after Blazing Aces!, you have Schotten-Totten, with 9 boundary stones to win. You have cards in 6 colors (value 1 to 9) and 6 cards in hand at a time.
Board Game: Schotten Totten

image by Artax

Now you build poker-like formations of three cards on your side. Whoever plays the higher-ranking formation wins the stone. Claim 5 stones or 3 adjacent ones to win the game.

The special addition is that "you may use your powers of logic to claim a stone even before your opponent has played all three of his cards, by demonstrating that the stone is impossible for him to win." It adds quite a lot to the game.
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5. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:217]
Board Game: Battle Line
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Published a year later, Battle Line adds some tactics cards (with limited use) to Schotten-Totten (also added to later editions of ST) and as these cards make it possible to steal or discard some cards, or even ask for 4 cards on one side of a stone (here: flag), the cards have values from 1 to 10 now and you have 7 cards in hand.
Board Game: Battle Line

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6. Board Game: Battle Line: Medieval [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:2905]
Board Game: Battle Line: Medieval
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A new, medieval themed GMT edition (2019) of Battle Line (I add the name here, in case the game item gets merged with the original Battle Line - that would make sense - Battle Line: Medieval) comes with the optional Terrain expansion designed by Roland's Revenge game for their micro-edition of Battle Line in 2017 (curiously, all the images for that edition are at the Battle Line page).
Board Game: Battle Line: Medieval

image by Coffeemom04

So this included optional expansion does not have much to do with Reiner Knizia; it's about using special terrain abilities instead of flags/stones.
Board Game: Battle Line: Medieval

image by RolandDraws
 
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7. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:2719]
From gallery of EnriqueGil
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update: it seems this version's Kickstarter was cancelled (?after being successfully funded). Luckily we have the next item coming...

I included the medieval edition mainly because the terrain expansion must have provided some inspiration to the new (2020) Siege Line by Reiner Knizia. In this game (which, as the description suggests, is a kind of 'sequel') there are 7 wall cards between the two players and these wall cards define the number of cards that should be played (2, 3 or 4); also some special features are shown on these walls. (+s and -s...)
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image by EnriqueGil
I can only hope a version with English text on the tactic cards will also exist.
 
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8. Board Game: Schotten Totten 2 [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked]
Board Game: Schotten Totten 2
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Based on description and the image below, this game seems to be the same as Siege Line; we'll see if the only current difference between Battle Line and Schotten-Totten (9 or 10 cards in each color) will be found here or not. (Probably not, since according to the description you'll have cards from 0 to 11 in 5 colors + 10 tactical cards).

It's not obvious from what we know about Siege Line so far, but according to the ST2 description the game will be somewhat asymmetric, with one player playing the attacker and the other one a defender (and the defender has 3 pots of boiling oil to destroy the enemy at certain points of the wall).

Board Game: Schotten Totten 2
 
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Board Game: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – The Shield of Courage Card Game
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And another variant of Schotten Totten from 2008 with small changes: once per game, instead of your normal draw from the top of the deck you may EITHER a) take any card from the deck into your hand and then reshuffle the deck OR b) take a random card from your opponent's hand into your hand.

edit: according to Reiner Knizia, it's not really his game as it was an unauthorized copycat with only slight rule changes.
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10. Board Game: Neue Spiele im alten Rom [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:5501]
Board Game: Neue Spiele im alten Rom
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Seven Hills in Rome

So I haven't played/read Knizia's earlier game compendiums but I use BGG so I quote Ken Shoda's fantastic geeklist Newer Games in Old Rome.

Quote:

Description

Seven hills are laid out in a line. Both players have the same set of cards. Each turn, a player plays a face down card on his/her side of any target to indicate an influence on it. A player may not play on the same target that the opponent just played on. When a player plays on the target that the opponent has already played on, all cards on that target are turned up. Cards on that target are played face up for the rest of the game. When both player played all cards, the game is over. Highest influence wins each target, where starting player breaks all ties. Highest sum of values of targets wins the game.
So it seems this game fits this list. This time both players have only 9 or 10 cards, the wins are decided by highest sum values of targets and the extra idea added is using face down cards. In Seven Hills of Rome you have all your cards in hand.
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11. Board Game: Kubla's Gambol [Average Rating:4.83 Unranked]
Board Game: Kubla's Gambol
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This one is based on the game above.

As I don't know anything about the game I quote Ken Shoda's fantastic geeklist Newer Games in Old Rome.

Quote:

Description
Seven targets (Kubla Coins) are laid out in a line. Both players have the same set of cards. Each turn, a player plays a face down card on his/her side of any target to indicate an influence on it. A player may not play on the same target that the opponent just played on. When a player plays on the target that the opponent has already played on, all cards on that target are turned up. Cards on that target are played face up for the rest of the game. When both player played all cards, the game is over. Highest influence wins each target, where starting player breaks all ties. Highest sum of values of targets wins the game.
This time both players have 10 cards, the wins are decided by highest sum values of targets and the extra idea added is still using face down cards. In Kubla's Gambol you have only 1 card in hand (but adds variants where you have 3 or all the cards).
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12. Board Game: Córdoba [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:13996]
Board Game: Córdoba
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As I don't know anything about the game I quote Ken Shoda's fantastic geeklist Newer Games in Old Rome.

Quote:
Note: Córdoba is exactly the same as Kubla's Gambol. Córdoba comes with the start player marker.
Board Game: Córdoba

image by WasQ
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13. Board Game: Scarab Lords [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:3875] [Average Rating:6.03 Unranked]
Board Game: Scarab Lords
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Scarab Lords is the version with an AT-like complexity and theme. The way you win the "flags" is quite simple - majority of the values wins - but you need to be in winning position at 2x2 places of the 3x3 in order to win the game. And for all this you have special cards and lots of (more or less thematic) rule details; actually a lot more than for any other games in this list of games based on a simple idea.

Board Game: Scarab Lords

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14. Board Game: Minotaur Lords [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:5964] [Average Rating:5.96 Unranked]
Board Game: Minotaur Lords
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Except from Minotaur Lords of course, which is a sequel to Scarab Lords and the two can even be mixed together.

Board Game: Minotaur Lords

Publisher's image



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15. Board Game: Hungry [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:3868]
Board Game: Hungry
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First released as Tabula Rasa in Spielbox magazine in 1995, well, this game adds the possibility of a third player but can be played 2-player as well. Here you can win 2x5 tiles (5 tiles numbered 1 to 5 and 5 colored tiles) but they are scored differently, adding a twist to the whole game.

The game has 50 (minus 2, discarded randomly) cards (5 colors, cards valued 1 to 5). 8 cards in hand; play one and draw one. A card can either be played as a color or number: the red 3 can be played to either the "3" estate tile or the red manor tile.
Scoring is only in the end of the game, where it's done from left to right. Whoever has more cards played to an estate wins it. The tile has a vaue of 1 to 5 (colored tiles are value 5) and the first player to win two manor tiles (the lower-point tiles) gets a 5 points bonus. If you lose where you have played at least one card to the estate, you get one point.

Board Game: Hungry

image by greg
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16. Board Game: Black Sheep [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:4861]
Board Game: Black Sheep
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How can you make the system fit for more than 2 players? One of the solutions is when the players are adding their cards to the "flags" (hands) from different directions.
Board Game: Black Sheep

image by crna_ofca

Black Sheep can be described as a kind of multi-player Schotten-Totten (or, even more, multi-player East-West). Players make poker hands from two shared cards (figurines of ranked animals) and three of their own (these are actual cards). There are three such hands playing simultaneously, with players adding one or two cards at a time to any hand on their turn. When all players have played three cards onto a hand, a winner is chosen, based on the poker ranks. The winner takes the two shared cards (animal figurines), and new shared cards are added. At the end of the game, scores are calculated by summing numbers printed on the bottoms of the figurines they captured and some bonuses.
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17. Board Game: Great Wall of China [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:2848]
Board Game: Great Wall of China
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And another example for making it multiplayer:

Although there are differences, Great Wall of China probaly fits this list. When playing two-player, you could even place your cards on two different sides of the objects (which are pairs of number tokens this time). The game is made multiplayer by using similar decks for each player with different colors.
This time, highest sum wins. You can claim a token only in the beginning of your turn (like in ST). You can even win both two tokens in two different turns.
You can also place more than one card at the same time, provided they are the same type. Many of the cards are special cards with special abilities.

Board Game: Great Wall of China

publisher's image


Note: People say it's like a card game version of Samurai and I feel it has more in common with Taj Mahal. Still I don't think any of those would really fit this list; those are really board games with lots of spatial aspects and where the cards placed can have an effect only on given types of items. They are definitely from the same creative mind but they are different enough to be excluded from this list.
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18. Board Game: Loot [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:1891]
Board Game: Loot
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Another multiplayer game (can be played 2-player as well, but just like Great Wall of China it works better with more as it also has an auction-like mechanism for the flags - I mean the loot cards.

This game has 25 Trade ships or loots worth different amounts of gold (from 2 to 8), 48 Pirate ships, 12 each in 4 colors. The Pirate ships are worth 1-4 skulls (the player with the most skulls played on a trade ship captures it if the lead is kept for one full pass around the table). There are 4 Pirate Captains (1 of each color) to help win the battles and 1 Admiral to help defend the trade ships.
Board Game: Loot

one of the loots - a trade ship full of gold...
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19. Board Game: Fruit Spy [Average Rating:5.82 Overall Rank:7649]
Board Game: Fruit Spy
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Thematically close to Loot, but the mechanism is (even) closer to a multiplayer version of Kubla's Gambol/Cordoba.
- Players have the same set of cards.
- loots that can be won at the 6 different spaces are distributed randomly.
- The last card is always placed face-down to a space; when it's placed, the one before the last there is turned up.

Some special rules here:
- the 6 spaces are not forming a line but a circle where two figures are sometimes moved (clockwise/counter-clockwise) as a result of the cards revealed next to them (and they have an effect on the location they are at in the end of the game).
- when the "gun" card (one in each set) is revealed the latest card placed there is put back to the box.
- while cards placed to neighbouring tiles don't really have an effect on each other (that's why this one fits this list), ties are broken based on the majority at the next space.

Board Game: Fruit Spy

Image by Chris Norwood
 
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20. Board Game: Katego [Average Rating:5.51 Overall Rank:15992]
Board Game: Katego
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Finally, some dice games.

So let's see the simplest game in this list. Katego can be played by multiple players but 2-player as well. It's really simple: roll two dice, write the amount in one of the columns. You win in the columns where you have a higher result than the other(s), and you win the points shown in the header of the column (see Los Banditos).

Board Game: Katego
 
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21. Board Game: Dice Games Properly Explained [Average Rating:6.69 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.69 Unranked]
Board Game: Dice Games Properly Explained
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Back to the '90s and the first item of this list: this 1999 book features not only Katego (see above) but also a simple dice game adaptation of East-West from Blazing Aces! A Fistful of Family Card Games and a few other category game dice variants.
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22. Board Game: Los Banditos [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:5139]
Board Game: Los Banditos
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"Imagine Schotten-Totten with dice...", the BGG description starts.
Here you are fighting for 4 chips (value 1 to 3) at the same time and as soon as one chip is taken, it is replaced by another (you play until you win 10 points).
Board Game: Los Banditos


This time you have dice in 4 colors, and you draw 2 dice from a bag, roll them and place them in the same round. Just like in Schotten-Totten, you can claim a tile, even before your opponent has placed three dice on his side, if you can demonstrate that the tile is impossible for him to win.

Interesting addition is the possibility to abandon a tile: Regardless of the amount of dice you have placed next to a chip, you can abandon it. In that case, your opponent wins that loot. In some cases this comes very handy.
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23. Board Game: Würfel Poker [Average Rating:6.45 Unranked]
Board Game: Würfel Poker
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This 2015 small-box game for mass market seems to be more or less what you can find in Dice Games Properly Explained: both players have 9 dice, play them to 3 "stones" and compare the combinations. A simplified Los Banditos, you might say, but actually it's closer to the truth if you say Los Banditos was a more complex game developed on these bases.
Board Game: Würfel Poker
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Family: Lost Cities
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One of the most known games in this list, it has similarities and differences as well. Here you can place your cards (8 in hand, 60 cards altogether) to 5 expeditions in a special (ascending) order and fitting color. Starting an expedition costs you points (adding risk) but you don't have to start each expedition. The sum of the value of the cards played (minus the cost, plus some possible extras) is your score.

The most important difference is that you don't "win" or "lose" the expeditions separately but get points for them and the sum of points makes you win or lose.

Board Game: Lost Cities

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25. Board Game: Balloon Cup [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1105]
Board Game: Balloon Cup
Laszlo Molnar
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+ an extra, not by Knizia: Balloon Cup (which is a better game with some rules modifications based on the designer's original rules) is clearly a derivative of this idea, with the added change of 4, 3, 2 and 1 cards to be played on both sides and 4, 3, 2 or 1 cubes to be won each time.

Board Game: Balloon Cup
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