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John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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*** OK, Tom Vasel is NOT in this list ... read the header (below) first ***

This is a list of those BGG users who (I think) have described on their own 'comments' list the most interesting, comprehensive, provocative etc thoughts on games. Its a list of people who I 'consult' before considering a game to buy. I don't necessarily agree with all (or any) of their thoughts, but I still find their opinions worthwhile because they can nail the essence of a game in a few short lines.

I have not included BGG users who write lots of 'reviews' on games but those who write mini-reviews on their game 'comments' section, so you can scan down a whole bunch of comments. The real 'reviews' are obviously useful too, but not the aim of this list, which is why reviewers such as Tom Vasel are not in this list. BGG regulars will recognise many or all of the names on this list. I will happily consider others for this list - just nominate!

Here goes:
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1. Board Game: The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:2405]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/crackedlcd81

Michael Barnes


Controversial apologist for ameritrash. Outspoken and opinionated but also informed and prolific

Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game
Talisman 4th Edition
Mare Nostrum
Magic Realm
The Fury of Dracula
Dreamblade
The Settlers of Catan Card Game

Notable games he dislikes:

Ticket to Ride
Werewolf
TransEuropa
Saint Petersburg
Thurn and Taxis
El Grande
Caylus
World of Warcraft: The Boardgame


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2. Board Game: Star Wars Customizable Card Game [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1215]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/houjix

Justin L

Has reviewed 917 games - and not just one-liners either. Consise and thoughtful comments on many many games. Has a particular interest in games for couples but his tastes are pretty diverse.

Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

Star Wars CCG
We the People
Magic: The Gathering CCG
Santiago
Through the Desert
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
A Game of Thrones

Notable games he dislikes:

Ricochet Robots
Power Grid
Tigris & Euphrates
Go
Arkham Horror
Tikal
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3. Board Game: 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:897]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/clearclaw

JC Lawrence

Another controversial BGG user. Heavily favours perfect information games. He dislikes many highly rated games, but for clear reasons. You will disagree with his ratings but find his comments exceptionally thought-provoking. Sticks to his principles, which are carefully set out on his page. Train games are his speciality.

VERY harsh rater - a 4 from JC Lawrence is actually a passable score.

Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight
Pampas Railroads
Lords of the Spanish Main
Kaivai
Neuland
Carrom
Blokus
The Traders of Genoa

Notable games he dislikes (there are many):

Puerto Rico
Power Grid
(his analysis of these two is really worth considering)
Saint Petersburg
RoboRally
Shadows over Camelot
Werewolf
Caylus
Phoenicia
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4. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.46 Overall Rank:11049]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/cfarrell

Chris Farrell

Like Justin L, a prolific reviewer - over 1000 games rated and reviewed. Often entertainly comments, particularly for the scathing reviews. Its well worth the effort to read down his reviews.

Sees many light war games (e.g. Antike) as variants of Risk in the sense that they boil down to the negotiation abilities of the players.

Has become a latter-day apologist for some traditional games such as Monopoly. A big fan of Knizia ("he works on a whole different plane that the rest of us") and block war games, which illustrates his diverse tastes.

I find Chris's short reviews compelling even if I completely disagree with him, which is quite often (AOE3 and Bang which I like, and Samurai and Jambo which I hate). This is a sure sign of an excellent reviewer. I should add that Chris and I strongly agree on a few things: Through The Ages is horribly overrated and Monopoly is a very decent game when played correctly.


Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

WestFront II
Sicily: Triumph and Folly
Scrabble
Monopoly
Beowulf: The Legend
Wizard Kings
Blue Moon

Notable games he dislikes:

Antike
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
Bang!
Advanced Civilization
Twilight Struggle
Kingsburg
Shogun
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5. Board Game: Expedition [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1045]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/Glamorous+Mucus

Joshua Miller

Best known for his annual 'Spiel des Josh' awards. Josh has a mass of mini-reviews. Josh almost gets his place in this list just for two quotes - one incredibly funny and one absolutely on target:

Agricola: "Yes, yes, YES! The sadists weep because the masochists have all gone off to play Agricola, and who can blame them - being punched in the face never felt so good."

Brass: "The more ambitious and complex a game is, the more intuitive and coherent its rules and theming need to be."


Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

Expedition
Say Anything
Pick Two!
Cosmic Encounter
Titan
Attika
Fresh Fish

Notable games he dislikes:

Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition
Werewolf
Betrayal at House on the Hill
A Game of Thrones
Friedrich
Diplomacy

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6. Board Game: Spades [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:909]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/CortexBomb

Michael Webb

Solid reviews of games - often lengthy. Not as eye-opening as some of the above reviewers but you get a nice overview of the game mechanics and themes. Can write a lengthy review on just one or two plays - there is nothing wrong with I guess - I just don't think that much about a game on first playing (unless I really hate it) in order to write a lot.

Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

Spades
Age Of Steam
Magic: The Gathering CCG
Die Macher
Railroad Dice

Notable games he dislikes:

Citadels
Pillars Of The Earth
Space Alert
Mykerinos
Aladdin's Dragons


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7. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:91]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/JohnRayJr

John Ray Jr

Only 123 games reviewed, some very small but also some long, insightful comments. Mostly, John Ray explains succinctly WHY he likes or dislikes a game. I like his style and wish he would write more mini-reviews.

Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

Glory to Rome
Indonesia
Pandemic
Le Havre

Notable games he dislikes:

1960: The Making of the President
Gipsy King
Balloon Cup
Architekton
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8. Board Game: Blue Moon [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:610]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/Octavian

Octavian

What is nice about Octavian's reviews is that he never edits his reviews but 'updates' them - you can thus see his thoughts about games over time which is absolutely fascinating - for example:

GOA:

(Initial rating of 5)

I gave it a second chance. A 5 was a bit harsh, but a 6 is probably spot on for me with this game. It works as a game, no doubt. There are some interesting things to manage. I don't care for how exacerbated the runaway leader phenomenon can get, though I imagine that's less of an issue amongst experienced players. I don't care for such a head-heavy game having a luck component that can burn you so heavily in the form of founding colonies and I don't expect that will ever change.

But most of all I just don't feel the fun. Challenge, yes. Fun, not so much. For the amount of mental work the game demands there should be proportional payoff in enjoyment and I'm just not getting it from this one. I'll be surprised if the rating changes from here.
-----

Update - Bumped up to 7. The scores still seem artificially constrained and the luck of drawing colonists still bugs me, but the game has slowed down after a few plays. The auction is more fun than I gave it credit for initially (back when I was jaded with auction mechanics in general). Time will tell if it goes up another point, but I feel it will settle at either 7 or 8.

-------
Finally at 8. Likely it's final resting place. Steep learning curve on how to finesse the auction. A bit of a sledgehammery scoring system, but the game engine overcomes that enough to push Goa into the upper tier.




Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

Blue Moon
Poker
Lord Of The Rings
Zendo
Cosmic Encounter


Notable games he dislikes:

Ca$h 'n Gun$
Shadows over Camelot
Dungeoneer: Tomb of the Lich Lord
El Grande
Citadels
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9. Board Game: Quest for the Dragonlords [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:8409]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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Moritz Eggert
Germany
Munich/Germany
Unspecified
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Eggo has a ton of very solid mini-reviews. In a way his thoughts are almost too solid, in that there is very little to disagree with, which makes him a very useful resource for a quick overview of many games but there are not as many enlightening moments. A generous rater, he does not deviate from the BGG averages much (except when it comes to games from the early 80s!) - much less than the others in this list.


Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

Quest for the Dragonlords
The Fellowship of the Ring (1982)
Gunslinger (1982)
Nightmare House (1983)
7 Ages
Magic Realm


Notable games he dislikes:

Gloria Mundi
Senji
Ingenious
Kingmaker
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10. Board Game: Haste Worte? [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:2800]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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Morgan Dontanville
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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Another prolific and harsh rater. The feature of Sisteray's reviews is that he gives high marks to games even after admitting their flaws. Likes perfect information and 'nasty' (backstab etc) games BUT also likes 'experience' games as well - an unusual combo. Steers away from Ameritrash.

Don't miss his comments for Battlelore (especially), his initial comment for A Castle For All Seasons and his final comment on Ra.


Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

Haste Worte
Kapitän Wackelpudding
1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight
Steam
Intrigue
TurfMaster
Tempus


Notable games he dislikes:

Carcassonne
Medina
Diplomacy
Ticket to Ride: Europe
Web of Power & China
Bohnanza
Paris Paris
Tigris & Euphrates
Commands & Colors: Ancients
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11. Board Game: Brawl [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:1771]
John Clark
Australia
Canberra
ACT
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(Suggested by Shingoi ... a major omission by me!)

Fawkes might be the harshest rater ever. His most common rating was 3, followed by 4. His review comments are long but kind of emotive stream-of-consciousness stuff. For example:

(Ra)

The premiere pure auction game along with its sibling, Modern Art. The fun factor wears down after a lot of plays, but it's still got enough staying power to hit the table regularly. Part of the appeal is that it plays quickly. Another good thing is that people can yell "RAAAA!!!!" and blow off some stress. *** UPDATE: Still not as good as Modern Art, but still holding up well after many plays. Keeper, but not top shelf. *** UPDATE: You know what? RA is *better* than Modern Art. I doesn't seem to suffer from the 'weak/greedy player syndrome' that plagues Modern Art, and it remains interesting even after a truckload of plays. I underestimated this little gem. Here's hoping that the uberplay reprint pans out, and we can get our grubby gamer hands on a copy of RA that's identical to the alea except for the box! ***UPDATE: The problem with RA is that as the number of players increases, the control decreases substantially because it takes longer before your turn comes back around. In the interim all sorts of things can happen. I'll play with 4 if asked, but 5P is not certain. RA is still all kinds of excellent with 3P though, and it's one of the best games overall with that number of players. *** UPDATE: Acquired the 2005 uberplay reprint through the kindness of Wong Siow Hwee, who grabbed a copy from the FLGS and held it until I could get to Singapore to claim it. Thanks Siow Hwee!

Another example (Wallenstein):

So far only played on spielbyweb.com... and I already dislike the virtual dice tower. You combine the strange tower dynamics with random events and random+hidden action orders and you have a chaotic game. I think I can be convinced to play once in a while - most wargames are random anyway - by Wally's definitely not a game I'd be looking to own. ***UPDATE: Yep, the cube tower is definitely the worst thing about Wallenstein, and one of the worst resolution mechanisms I've ever seen in a game. If I were to rate this now, I'd give it a 3, maybe a 4, almost completely due to the cube tower. Replace the cube tower with a small amount of dice, or better yet, a deterministic combat resolution mechanism, and I'd like it much better. Let's see - dispense with the cube tower: when one player moves armies into another player's province, do a simple 1-for-1 elimination. Farmers die first. If it's a tie, the province is devastated as usual. That sounds much better. Have to try it with a physical copy. ***UPDATE: The cube tower? When you're unable to determine what your chances are of winning a battle, that's just unacceptable. It's one of the most broken mechanisms I've ever encountered. If you like your planning to have any sort of influence in the results of your combat, do NOT play Wallenstein or anything with this stupid cube tower in it. I was pining for the predictability of DICE for crying out loud. This game NEEDS a new combat system. I'd rather whack myself over the head with the cube tower before I play this thing again.


Its tough to say if Fawkes' reviews were useful or not, but they are worth reading, even for the entertainment value, and it is a great pity that he is no longer around.

Even taking into account his harshness, I find Fawkes very tough to agree with ... he likes the games I hate (e.g Samurai, Taj Mahal, Amun-Re, Through The Desert, Hollywood Blockbuster) and hates the games I like (e.g. Settlers, War Of The Ring). At least we both hate Thurn & Taxis and like Lord Of The Rings Confrontation.


Notable games he likes more than the average BGG user:

Brawl
Magic: The Gathering CCG
Attribute
TAMSK
Pueblo
Clash of the Gladiators
The Princes of Florence

Notable games he dislikes:

Betrayal at House on the Hill
Wallenstein
War of the Ring
The Settlers of Catan
Carcassonne
RoboRally
Thurn and Taxis
Shadows over Camelot
HeroScape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie
Bohnanza


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