$10.00
New to you Jan 10 => Best new game you played this month and why
Andy
United Kingdom
Stockport
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What's the best new game you played this month (January 10) and why? Share your experiences of the new games you've played this month.

It would be helpful, if you could add an entry to the list even if you pick the same game as someone else.. since I use the geeklist entries to compile the summaries. Thanks



New To You Metalist 2010

New To You Meta-list - old metalist (currently broken)

New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread

Your Most Played Game (and more): January 2010
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51. Board Game: Shipyard [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:333]
Ingmar Hauge
Norway
No way
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It's cold outside. There's no kind of atmosphere. I'm all alone. More or less. Let me fly. Far away from here. Fun fun fun. In the sun sun sun...
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January produced only 4 new games for me which is far below what I need to if I want to reach my goal of getting all my owned games (pre 2010) out for at least one spin this year...but I'll probably settle for the games I've never tried before. There are lots of games I own I've tried before, not just my copy. Over to this month:


Shipyard



Shipyard, for me, feels a bit like a mix of Le Havre and a rondell game. In reality you only have 4 choices for each round but then there are several sub-choices for each of those. In addition you'll have an opportunity to buy an extra action, even one that is taken. Thus, there will be planty of options available to you. Even after all this I'll say this game is quite easy both to explain and understand for gamers.




War of the Ring (first edition)



The full game might have challenged shipyard for the monthly crown. I only got to try the simple game just to get an idea how it works but I think I've got a good picture of how much I'll enjoy the full game having read the rules. This truly looks like an epic battle I'm eagerly awaiting to get on the board again. Based on just the one (simple) game played I'd rate it a 7, but knowing better and until played the correct way I'm giving it...




Tomb: Cryptmaster



We played this with one serious mistake which took out a lot of the fun. Somehow we got the idea the cryptmaster cards were not discarded after use making way for a very unbalanced game. Except for this I think this a good addition to the base game. The new boards are a major improvement, crypt lords are great and tons of cards & characters give lots of variety.




Arkadia



At first I thought this was a bit of a meh! game but after a while I've realized this was not the case. I assume this might have been because 2 of the participants was tired, and it was rather late for a new game. My feeling now is that there is a lot more depth to this game then my impression back then. There are lots of things to take into consideration and although it can be near impossible to plan far ahead you have lots of possibilities on your turn. Simple, but challenging.



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52. Board Game: Middle-Earth Quest [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:261]
Jeroen van der Valk
Netherlands
Rotterdam
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As I sometimes don't even get one new game played in a month, this was all in all not a bad month for me! One of my resolutions was to get my unplayed games list down to 0 by the end of the year, so I'm off to a good start.

Nijntje aan zee
A children's game based on the Nijntje / Miffy franchise. A toddler's game that helps small children count, but there is no choice to be made whatsoever.

Pentago
It's an abstract, a cross between Connect Four and Tic-Tac-Toe. Cleverly designed, no doubt, but I'm not a fan of this type of game.

The Reef
Unfortunately neither my girlfriend nor my daughter are boardgamers. My daughter will play sometimes, but not anywhere near regularly. I keep my eyes open for fun games that may draw them in, and this is what came up recently. Haven't played it with either of them yet, but with a friend, and it is a great little game. Very original, fantastic artwork and presentation, and quite involving in a good way. In that sense its presentation belies the depth (!) this game has.

Carson City
I sort of bought this on a whim, because I loved the artwork of the Master Print edition. I'm also a fan of the whole cowboy-thing. Anyway, this is a very enjoyable game, that mixes straight up Euro mechanics with some direct confrontation options. It's a very tight game with only four game turns, but the way the map evolves is quite organic and it all fits nicely together. Great artwork too, very atmospheric.

Dungeon Lords
Finally, finally, a chance to play this, unfortunately only with two players though. It worked well enough, but it really feels as the game is designed for four, so there is some of the real competition for resources missing. The changes for three or two players are well-designed, but it's not what the game was built on.
Regardless, it is a whole lot of fun, and when players finally get to grips with it all, it flows along quite merrily. What helps is that the first year is sort of a set up year (though I'm sure experienced players will say the game is won or lost in the first year ), and players can sort of get a feel for what it's all about before the second year and the scoring. Presentation is outstanding, the detailing is out of this world and the components (there's a lot of them) all fit together quite nicely.
I still wonder how often I'll get it to the table, because I would want to play with four next time, and it's not all that easy to explain. For the moment I'll hold on to it as it is undoubtedly a unique game experience.

Middle-Earth Quest
By a country mile this is the best new game I've played this month, and the game that most enamoured me after one play in quite a while. While the previous listed games will probably stick to a 7 rating, this baby will easily rise to 9 and maybe even to 10.
Middle-Earth Quest is thematic, fun, great to look at, exciting, tactical, strategic, and probably different every time. There are layers of strategy still to discover with more plays, and I can't wait to play this again. Played as Sauron the first time, and would now like to step into the shoes of one of the heroes. Downtime is hardly a problem, even with four players, because the heroes are really involved in each others' turns and combat (a great subsystem) is quite fast.
Highly recommended for any Lord of the Rings and boardgaming fan!
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53. Board Game: Finca [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:393]
Jon Enns
Canada
Herbert
Saskatchewan
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The best new game? this was a BIG challenge for me to decide. I played several I like a lot. I think it was Finca. I read up a lot on this one before buying it so I was already quite sure I would like it. I love components (see my badges) so it is a win there. I like product/market type games and this one has some neat ways of accomplishing this that feel fresh and new. Beautiful art overall and fun play. You can't plan ahead very much but I like that.

If Wishes Were Fishes. I really like this one and am considering buying it for myself. It is one that my daughters would play, I think, and I am always on the lookout for one in that category. Rubbery 'jig-like' worms in 3 different kinds, fish shaped playing meeples, product to market, quick play, fun art, not much not to like.

Ice Flow. Only played once, but again, ME WANT!! It plays quickly, seems to give you LOTS to think about, has beautiful components and it is fun Fun FUN! The only downside is the price tag. It seems way too much for what it is. Still, that might not deter me....whistle

Magdar. I liked this little gem a lot. Quick play and fun. A great filler.

The Adventurers. Well, again, the write-ups pretty much tell you like it is. Very cool components, awesome theme, some fun quick play, but somehow not that very exciting for me. My daughter loves it which I expected. I know it will get a lot of play, which I expected. I won't mind playing it but it is certainly not my favorite and never will be, which I half expected and hoped would not be true. The main thing is is that my family will play. That is always good!
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54. Board Game: World Without End [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:303]
Mike Jones
United States
Gainesville
Florida
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It was a good month for new game. Not only did I learn a lot, but there are quite a few that I will be playing again. A note on my ratings. I rate after one play and feel that it's a good indication on how I feel about the game. Sometimes if I don't think the game got a fair shake due to conditions, I'll leave it unrated. Also, normally I don't use any decimals, but from time to time I'll use a 0.5 on the end to denote that I may be moving the rating up OR the 0.5 might be removed on repeated play. I have a few this move to get the 'I'm not sure how I feel about this game' rating.

World Without End

The first one though gets a full 8.0 from me.

It's also one of the last ones played this month. I just threw it in on a order to get free shipping even though I hadn't heard anything about it.

I enjoy Pillars and figured I'd like to see what 'the sequel' most look like. A beautiful board and nice components. Although in our first play we did see some 'errors'. I'm not one to really grip about it, but I guess it could be annoying to others. To be fair, so far it was just one card that is in error.

It, however, plays very different then pillars. Each person has a deck of cards. similar to roles to pick from, so you don't have to worry about not getting the action you want. You play actions to get things to help build and to give things to the king. The game starts right off putting you under stress. There is a reason you start the game with a score of 8. It's because the game will punish you for not meeting certain minimums each round.

When I pulled it out, a friend was 'hey, I don't want something 'replacing' my pillars. I said, 'don't worry, this isn't a worked placement'. I noticed he made a comment elsewhere on the Geek, that it is different. 'But, one is better, this one'. The Game left me wanting more.

The next one up is Power Grid: Factory Manager

Rated: 7.5

Although I knew it was NOTHING like Power Grid, I was still drawn to it.

I found it an interesting game. And I have now played it twice. The problem is the downtime has been maddening. I figure that will get better with experience. But, in my group there always seems to be one 'new' player when we pull out games. Someone was complaining that it could be 'solved'. The thing is really any game can be 'solved', but then that's when the competition comes into play and I think if we all feel that there is ONE way to win it, that the fighting and choices will be more intense.

Power Struggle

Rated a 7.5

I was looking forward to trying this. It was an enjoyable game, but that's cause I was the 'Communications' person at least half the game. It seemed like turns where I got that post were MUCH more interesting then other turns. It does worry me a bit, when one person can be that much more involved with a game then others. Granted it makes that
even more of an intense battle. But, again an area that 'seems' to make the game more interesting then other places.

My one major complaint, which may be different with repeated play was that EVERYONE could have won in the same turn. Granted a few had more actions needed to finish, but others could do it in the same number of actions. So, it was all about turn order. While I don't fully get the comparisons with Tribune, this part I will compare to Tribune. If Tribune didn't end so often with 'basically' a tie with most people ending at the same time, I'd play it more often. This game might end up in the same boat for me. I like games where you are never 'out of the game', but this one might be a little too much.

Witch of Salem

Rated a 7.5

It ended up taking more then twice as long as it should have. Partly because it was new to all of us and partly because it was VERY late.

But, The 'secrecy' rule just seems to go counter to a cooperative play game. Plus, there is no way to mitigate or figure out to do when someone unintentionally gives away something due to the lack of a poker face. Then couple that with, how exactly are you suppose to strategize if you can't tell them you need to 'close a gate'. Are you really suppose to go against the plans of the group after they want you do do something and you can't tell them you have better things to do? Just a wonky rule that may prevent the game from getting a much higher rating.

Hansa Teutonica

Rated a 7.5

Maybe it was the hype that got me expecting more resulting in a lower rating, or maybe the hype is making me 'want' to rate this higher. I don't know how I feel about this game. I found it interesting, but I just felt like I was pushing cubes around AND I normally don't mind that feeling. But, this time it did just feel that way AND I minded for some reason. I'll play it more and enjoy it, but it didn't give me a 'cool this is fun' feeling. This was the same night I played World without End and that game gave more more of a 'fresh' feel and a 'I WANT to play this game again' then Hansa did.

Neolithibum

Rated a 7.0

I was worried that the 'challenging' mechanism would be too powerful and would drag the game on. It didn't, so I was pleasantly surprised. The rest of the game is an interesting mix of Dexterity and 'role selection' which seems to work well together. Will have to see after more play if the 'penalty' cards hinder the game or help it.

Ubongo

Rated a 7.0

My children really liked Das Duel. So, I picked this one up so that we can play more people together. I think I like Das Duel better because you are working on the same puzzle together and the scoring on this one confused my youngest and seemed to be something that didn't need to exist in the game. Although, maybe it was added to add more stress to the game with the 'easy' sides seeming to be quite easy.


Maria


Rated a 6.5

I really enjoyed this game. But, it seemed overly long for what it provided. I think if it came in at 90 minutes I'd like it better. But, at 3-4 hours, it's 'ok'. I'll play it again, but for that time slot it might be a while. Although I appriciate the 'three player' design aspect.

Tulipmania 1637

Rate a 6.5

I wanted to really enjoy this game, but found it just an 'ok' game. I really couldn't get a feel for the timing and it seemed like you had 'some control' over it, but where much more at the whim of the board. All that being said, I guess that's the point of 'speculation'. It should play fairly quickly with experience, so it might end up seeing more play then I expect.

Zombie in my Pocket

Ok, so it's not really ZiMP, which is partly why I haven't put in a rating. I'm logging my game though because for Christmas I was given a copy of 'not to be named (aka removed from the database)' in my Pocket. It would probably be around here. It's an 'ok' game (I appreicate the gift and am gald to have it), but I'm not much of a solo game player and think I'd rather get my kids to game with me.

Savannah Tails

Rated a 6.0

I think it 'feels' a lot like a simplified Snow Tails. Hence, the similar name. Over all it was 'ok', I just think I'd much prefer to play Snow Tails. I'm planning on trying it with my 9 year old, I think that's going to end up being the niche it has.

Letter of Marque

Rated a 5.5

Not sure, I was expecting a lot more. I'm ok with simple games, but this just doesn't seem to have much to it. I guess it's a 'bluffing' game? I'm not sure really what they were trying to make it into, but it fell flat.

Although with a 10 minute play time and a few laughs, I guess I could see it coming out again.

Now for the 'probably' not hitting the table again, although I'd allow then to see the light of day if someone really wants to try them category.


Looting London

Rated a 5.0

Very simple card game. Nothing new or special.

Monopoly Free Parking Mini Game

Rated a 5.0

very simple dex game. Not sure it's going to see replay, but time will tell. Probably needs a 'harder' flat service then the game box we were using.

Ramses Pyramid

Rated a 5.0

My wife picked this up as a gift to me and my son while traveling. Partly because my son loves Legos and partly because it was the only game my wife saw that she thought I didn't have. It is so bland. It is quick. So, for kicks sake it could get back out. But, there really isn't much of a game here, OK, I didn't expect one.

BuddhaWheel

Rated a 4.0

So, I saw this a long time ago and tagged it because I liked self-published games and its art work is intriguing. I recently picked it up in a boulder sale.

The rules are simple and short.

Problem is that the game is more of an excursive then a game. There are very few cards in the deck and they seem to be in only one path that allow you to 'progress'. Sure it might fit in the theme, but when they say play it for 15 minutes or a live time, they really mean it.

I find myself torn on if it's 'broken'. I don't think that it is completely. But, I really think it's sole purpose may really be to lead a discussion group.
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55. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:91]
Jeff Wolfe
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Zendo fan, Columbus Blue Jackets fan, Dominion Fan. These are 'permanent microbadges' to free up space on my microbadge row
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Four new games in January, which is a surprisingly large number considering all the Dominion I played.

Cardcassonne - A rather unremarkable game that probably wouldn't have gotten a second look except for the name. I don't see the connection to Carcassonne.

Chaos Marauders (second edition) - Reminds me of Munchkin in the way the game drags on and on and on at the end, but it was rather less fun than Munchkin before it got to that point.

Glory to Rome - It has the cards-do-multiple-things mechanism, which gives you interesting choices on how to proceed. There are multiple pathways to victory, but after only one play I don't know how viable they might be.

Tobago - This was my second choice for new game of the month. I clearly don't have the hang of the balance between going for treasures, making treasures more valuable, and going for tokens. I was always on the wrong side of the board when there was something to be claimed. Then at the end, my hand filled with cards I couldn't use. Still, not a bad game for all that.
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56. Board Game: I'm the Boss! [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:631]
Tom O'Keefe
United States
Richmond
Virginia
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Played I'm the Boss! for the first time and really enjoyed it. It is a ridiculous and chaotic social experience... in a good way. I love the simultaneous playing of cards and the insane wheeling and dealing. The luck factor is somewhat high, but I think this will see some future play as it is very easy to teach and plays in a very reasonable amount of time.
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57. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:87] [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
Nick
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Including expansions, I played 13 new games in January but there is no doubt that Memoir '44 is the clear winner of my favorite new game. After only a few plays it made the surprising jump into my top 10.

Variability of setup, quick play time, ease of learning and just plain old fun factor make this one of my favorite new games in a long time.
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58. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:228]
jonathanWC
Japan
Sendai
Miyagi
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This game is fantastic! Takes me back to when I was little and would read the "choose your own adventure" books. I also love that you can build different characters with the skill selection at the beginning!
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59. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:85]
Dean Rekich
United States
Lyndora
Pennsylvania
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I played 3 new games this month, and I liked all of them. It was very close between two of them for which was my favorite.

Galaxy Trucker won in the end. I ran across a video review of GT. I never really considered GT in the past, mostly due to the "real time" element of the game. I just do not like "speed" games. However, when I watched the review and read more about it, it did not seem like the "real time" factor was at a crazy speed or the only point of the game. I also read on BGG that numerous people enjoy it with only 2 players, and since I would only ever be playing 2 player games of it, that was important.
I bought the game and it took me a couple of hours to read through and understand the rules. I think this is the most *fun* I have ever had reading a rule book! The rules, along with being well written and having many examples, are quite funny!
My girlfriend and I played round one yesterday, and finished with rounds two and three today. I have read that when you get good at GT that it can almost become too easy. Well, no worries there yet! Overall we built good ships, *except* in the third round I make a significant mistake which cost me a third of my ship! However, in round two Mary was forced to give up because she ran out of astronauts . That was well and good until *I* was forced to give up because I ran out of astronauts in round 3 ! So while it looked like I was doing well after the second round, Mary won in a rout by the end of the game. Boy though, did I have fun losing! I think the last game I played that was this fun was my favorite game of 2009, Dice Town.
I can see why the game may be more fun with 3 or 4, but we really thought it played well with 2. I plan on getting the expansion, however I don't think it is going to get easy for us anytime soon. I rate this game an 8.

Jaipur was *very* close, but was nudged out by GT by the sheer fun factor. Jaipur itself is a very good game. I did not feel that way after the first couple of games though. After two games I was thinking things like, "That is it?", "Where is the strategy/game play, etc.?" Thankfully however we played the game a few more times, and *then* I saw the appeal of the game. While I am not saying that it is a deeply strategic game, there is some subtle strategy and tactics that appear the longer you play it. Now that I have played it numerous times, I appreciate the game much more. It is a great, light 2 player game that leaves you feeling like playing again. I rate Jaipur an 8 as well.

Piece o' Cake is the third new game I played. It is the perfect example of a game that after you play the first time you end of thinking, "Why didn't anyone think of this before?" It has very simple game play, but you have to make some tough decisions. I can't think of a better themed game; cutting up cake just *perfectly* fits with the game mechanics. This would be a great game to play whenever someone in your family has a birthday. We played it today because it is our dog, Nikki, 13th birthday! I would rate the game about a 6, but the great graphics, theme, etc. raise the rating to a 7. A good little filler that feels different from any other filler I have played.
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60. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:131]
sarahb
United States
Birmingham
Alabama
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I'm sure like many of you, one of our resolutions was to clear out some of the backlog of unplayed games in our collection. (Un)fortunately, that seems to be the resolution of several of the people in our regular gaming group, as well. I got in a total of 13 new games (5 of them ours) and 3 new expansions (1 of them ours.)

Overall Best:
Dune
No, seriously. This is the best game I will play all year. We made some mistakes, I spent much of the game with no clue as to what I was doing, we had an illegal 4 faction alliance, we'll NEVER be able to play it enough for the $200 price tag... and STILL, it was the best game I'll play all year. I don't usually rate games until I've played them several times, but I'm tempted to just go ahead and rate this a 10. A huge thanks to itjoe for inviting us to be in on this one.

Not Dune, But Still Winners:
Ra
I'm a little shocked that I hadn't played this one before, but I guess it had become old hat before we really got back into games. We don't play too many bidding games, but I think this is the game that will change that. Definitely one to add to the collection.

Thurn and Taxis
Another oldie that we'd managed to miss- my bf was excited to win this in our guild's Dirty Santa, not realizing we already had an unplayed copy at home. It was enough motivation, however, to finally get it off the shelf and onto the table. For the time being, this is one of my favorite 2 player games. The one time we played with 4, I apparently did a poor job of explaining the rules and the game was a bit of a bust.

Iron Dragon
An interesting crayon rail game with a few twists. Only played one 2 player game and enjoyed it, but we think this will work better (especially the foremen) with more players. On a side note, I appreciate that they grouped the cities by letter.

Around the World in 80 Days
The bf and I both really enjoyed both our games of this, but unfortunately we enjoyed it more than anyone else we played it with. Especially unfortunate is that we can't play it 2 player- I'm eager to see how often we can get this played this year.

Totally Willing To Play Again, But Not On The Regular Rotation:
Finca

Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game
I know I will like this one more as I'm able to play it more. It does require creativity, however, and won't be a good game for my bf.

Why Did the Chicken...?

Space Junkyard

Meh, But Willing To Give Another Try:
Ninja Burger

Bootleggers

The Bridges of Shangri-La

Thingamajig

And Expansions:
Treasure Chest
Only played the Witch's Brew expansions. The amulets were too powerful as written in the rules (but probably would be a good addition if only able to be used once per game,) but I did enjoy the Special Powers cards.

The Pillars of the Earth: Expansion Set
We always play with the expansion cards, but this was my first time with the expansion board. I didn't think it added much to the play, though with 5 players I do understand that the additional space is necessary.

Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Expansion









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61. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:114]
Lo Ma
United States
California
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Dungeon Lords was a total WOW! Probably the hardest game I've ever played, very immersive, very very prone to analysis paralysis (but this is mitigated somewhat because everyone can do combat simultaneously, and this is where most of the AP comes), plus the theme does not feel pasted on - it is remarkably well integrated into the mechanics, even though Vlaada at some said maybe he should have used a different theme because of the expectations raised among Ameritrashers from the dungeon theme.

One of the wonderful things about this game is the timing - unlike so many dungeon and fantasy themed games, players aren't running around in circles for forever trying to get their stats up before facing the big baddie. In Dungeon Lords there's a time and place for everything on a schedule. You know you have this much time to build up your dungeon and your work force and defenses, as well as somewhat of a production machine. And you know who the terrible good guys are gonna be ahead of time, and you know where you are on the evilometer, which you can manipulate to your advantage. And then of course, comes combat, right on schedule. I very much appreciate that after playing too many endless, and often mindless, games in this thematic genre. Dungeon Lords is by no means a short game, but there is a solid sense of progression.

The rulebook was also remarkably well written and fun to read - gets you in the mood and adds to the theme. Good artwork and bits also add a lot - but the minions should have some sort of graphics on them - as they are, these wood bits are just weird and unidentifiable as anything without some graphics on them. I think I saw a file on BGG though that had some graphics for the wood figures that I'll probably print out. With everything else so thematic, I want those minions to be too! Note that the graphics, including the monsters and ghosts, are on the cute side rather than the gross or dark side. I also appreciate this.

The downside to this game is that it's really a 4 player game, and we rarely have 4 players who'd be willing this heavy a game. We're experimenting now as a 2-player game. I think it's even more difficult as a 2 player!

LOVE this game!!!



Speaking of monsters and such, another game was a big hit for us that's on the opposite side of the spectrum from the heavy Dungeon Lords: a kids game called Castle Panic. Very fun and cute, full of luck of the draw, that also employs a brilliant cooperative play system in which your cards are not hidden from the other players. While the game is coop, it is also competitive, because you want to be the Master Slayer who slays more monsters is the winner. It is so much fun to see the kids make their decisions about cooperating or playing for themselves, and enjoying the game most when the castle is being damaged a lot. They don;t really seem to mind if we all lose, or whether or not they are the Master Slayer because they have so much fun playing the game. This one is quite tolerable for the adults too, which is a definite plus and half!

Now back to civilization, or the exploitation of it! Now that's really scary stuff!



Havana is a fun and fast little sibling to Cuba. Havana is a great lightweight role selection game, with a theme and mechanics similar to San Juan and it's big brother Puerto Rico - but here it feels fresher. In Havana the role selection is simultaneous rather than sequential as it si in the older games. The bits, artwork, and general presentation are all fantastic, and it is small enough to fit in a ziplock baggie. It has replaced San Juan as our travel game, and San Juan has been a long time favorite, so this is a big change!!! A fine 2-player game.



Next we tried Cuba, and it has chased Puerto Rico off the table. Really want to try this most excellent game with its expansion, Cuba: El Presidente. Excellent as a 2-player game. It is a very successful and fun marriage of Caylus and Puerto Rico.



Endeavor's a game I rsisted for a long time because the art is uninspiring and it sounded very abstract and dry. Boy were my assumptions wrong. Endeavor is an excellent and immersive mid-weight game that's a tone of fun to play in spite of being so abstract. It's a bit of a bear to set up with all those little chits to be put on the board, but it's worth it. The major downside to this game is that it doesn't scale well for 2-players - it really is for 3 or more players, sadly.



Le Havre was the dud of the month. I had high hopes for this one in spite of not liking Agricola. The idea that it was derivative from my much loved Caylus was very appealing in theory. But the reality was disappoint indeed. It's certainly not a bad game, but I really don;t need to play it again. I'd rather play Caylus or Cuba... Le Havre just felt very mechanical and dry to me.

It sure was a big month for us. But Dungeon Lords totally dominated the scene!
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62. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:72]
MMB
United States
Florida
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Only 2 "new to me" games this month and the best is obviously Hansa Teutonica.
I received this as a gift from Super Secret Santa and Super Secret Elf's generous games giveaway. I sat down to play with my spouse and my 8-year old daughter--extracting a promise from her to play the entire game, no matter what--. Well, surprise, surprise, not only did she stick it out, she understood it, developed her own strategy, and nearly stole the game!!!!!! A child that hated Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers and found it boring and long, cannot fathom the destination tickets strategy in Ticket to Ride, has completely loved this low-luck, full control game!!!!! Good for her and me!!!!! This game is simple, but multi-dimensional, and with so much you can do, it stays with you and teases you about possible strategies and chronologies to do the next time!!!


My other "new to me" game is Eat Poop You Cat, which is playing on a Play by Forum started by Chit Chatters. This is wild, wacky fun and a bit crazy when you are involved in parts of 11 games simultaneously!!!! I have learned to use MS Paint, not very successfully, but am learning!! I have 3 drawings to do right now, so I am off!!
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63. Board Game: Go Away Monster! [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1980]
Zack Stackurski
United States
Mankato
Minnesota
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I love almost all games, play Boardgames with my wife, have three kids, generally enjoy cats and understand and like those bumper stickers with the little fishies sprouting legs.
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Okay... Go Away Monster wasn't the best new game I played this month... but it was the first my 20 month old daughter has ever played with me... so it was pretty exciting for me laugh



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Dungeon Lords was probably my favorite grown-up game this month. If you like fairly heavy euros, hidden role selection and puzzle solving as combat this is the game for you!



Homesteaders seems like it could be the long term favorite on this list... but as I've only been able to try the 2 player variant with my wife so far (Dungeon Lords was deemed brighter and shinier on game night...) so I haven't been able to see it in its 3-4 player glory. Its a tight resource management Euro where you build your resource/point engine via auction... if you like that sort of thing (and I do) you will enjoy playing this!



Terra Prime seems like it should be a good game... but my one 2 player game was uncompetitively lopsided so I didn't get a good feel for the full game (though we both had fun all the same). Space Exploration/Fighting Aliens combined with Colony Building and Resource Pick up and deliver in a bit over an hour should see plenty of table time eventually...

----------

So that's my top three (or four...) some quick hits on the other new to me:

Small World Expansions - The new races and powers fit right in with the original group. If you like Small World go pick up Cursed and Grand Dames!

Dominion: Seaside - Shiny new bits and delayed action cards... if I liked Dominion enough to own it this would be a must have!

Ca$h 'n Gun$: Yakuzas - Added too many new rules to a game I like because of its simplicity...

Zombies!!! - We got a good story out of our game... but didn't have much fun getting there... so... meh.
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64. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:11]
Avri Klemer
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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Alright, alright. Please don't take away my geek badge. 3 years on BGG and only now playing one of the biggest guns . . .

Bizarrely enough Power Grid wasn't even on my Wishlist, figuring I'd try it at a Meetup at some point before deciding whether I wanted a copy. But my wife wanted to buy me a boardgame over the holidays, and nothing on my wishlist (mainly abstract brain burners and obscure or hard to find title) grabbed her eye. After a little digging, and after seeing all the RGG titles on our shelves, she decided she liked the look of Power Grid . . .

We played a 3 player game on the US board on New Year's day, and (despite the ubiquitous but minor first game rules foul ups) we had an absolute blast. The fluctuating market, the route building, the balanced design, all nearly flawless. It also didn't hurt that my wife won big (although if I'd had just *one more turn* . . .)

My only other new game this month was the Games Magazine release, Mirador. After a couple of plays, I'm afraid that this one will fall prey to my absolute inability to play connection games well, but the design is sound, and different enough that I'll give it a try at least a few more times. Worth a look if you like AbStrats in general, and copnnection games in particular.
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65. Board Game: Confucius [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1306]
Dave L.
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Played three big, relatively new games this month for the first time. Just first impressions of course, but I rank them like this:

1 - Confucius
2 - Hansa Teutonica
3 - Power Struggle

Confucius was the one I own and had been hoping to play for quite a while, so accept my selection bias. The great thing about all three of these games, to echo Jack, is that they feel like the Euros from the last decade - no worker placement, no gaggle of special powers to remember - pure replayability through difficult to decipher decision trees and the use of straight action selection. Also, useful to note that all three of these games are by less-known designers and smaller publishers.

Confucius has an extremely small set of ways of score points, yet with a large number of actions - and the tangle of the terrific gift-giving mechanism, which makes it extremely difficult to completely analyze the boardstate. It does not feel out of control, just really difficult and the quintessential kind of game where you have to subtly manipulate other players' plans, if you can. It has a few rough edges, but overall is really satisfying and interesting, with an original POV, nice art and design, and a terrifically written rulebook.

I put Hansa Teutonica right there with Confucius. It is kind of the opposite game in practice - a huge number of ways to score points, with a more limited set of actions. It has the old-school interactivity and replayability - your actions are dependent on what others do, and you can put significant roadblocks to impede their progress. The decision space seems incredibly wide, yet well balanced - and the way pieces get played and then picked up again has a really unique feel for a spatial game (yes, spatiality, thank god) . A great looking game as well - my only minor nitpick is that it feels a little too short, with the potential of ending before you've explored all the scoring possibilities. Andreas Steding has been making really interesting games for some time - glad people are finally giving him a chance.

I enjoyed Power Struggle as well, but thought it clearly behind the other two. Another great looking game, but less interesting. A quality mix of area control and multiple scoring mechanisms, it also feels like an older Euro, with perhaps Knizia's economy of design. It doesn't quite feel as original or deep as the other two though - it adds a twist with the bribes and secret objectives, but I wasn't certain that either mechanism is as impactful as it perhaps should be. Since I was a tad confused through much of the game, I'll need to revisit. This one also feels too short, the theme here could support longer, more intensive play.

Also played - Hollywood Blockbuster (good), Nanuk (OK fun), Pajaggle (hmm), Small World (ok gameplay, terrible graphic design that literally hurt my head).
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66. Board Game: Tobago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:302]
Mike Adams
United States
Brigham City
Utah
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Tobago is my favorite for the month. It's my favorite that I have played in some time now, actually. It's so unique, so stylish, and so fun. I first set it up to go through the rules and figure it out, but my daughter came by and insisted on playing it based on the look of it alone. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. She insisted on playing it again the next day and including my wife who also enjoyed it. Just thinking about it, I'd like to play it right now.

My only potential knock against it is that it's a bit hard to explain because it comes across as complex, but as soon as you start playing it makes sense very quickly.

San Juan Expansions from the Alea Treasure Chest Ooooh. This is sweet. I would rather buy the Treasure Chest just for the San Juan expansions than buy both the Race for the Galaxy Expansions (which I have, but I prefer what the San Juan expansions do for the game overall).

The additional buildings in the first expansion add quite the variety to the game without anything really imbalancing that I've noticed yet. I like the way the expansion levels things out - it weakens the traditional Guild Hall and monument strategies by diluting the deck, but opens up other opportunities as well. I'm excited to see how it plays out over more games. So far it feels more balanced with more options.

The second expansion - the Events - worried me at first but how they are implemented works very well and doesn't affect the game too much either way.

Yahtzee Free for All Played with some friends on New Years. I really like the way it mixes things up and much prefer to play it to traditional Yahtzee. It's a pleasant, quick dice game. I also like the stylish presentation with the box/board integration. I'm tempted to pick it up myself even though I have several dice games.
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67. Board Game: Masters of Venice [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1879]
Not really Ryan Leaf
United States
Texas
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I only played 2 new games this month, but quality is more important than quantity!

Masters of Venice



This is an amazing game... an overlooked gem. It's an economic/stock-market game that plays quickly (approx 30/min per player), offers a plethora of choices on every turn, and provides a ton of replayability. Most detractors think the game is too fiddly, and while you have to move pegs around quite often, I didn't find it too cumbersome at all. Most also feel overwhelmed on their first few plays as they try to discover a solid strategy, but do yourself a favor and invest a few plays in this game. At only approx $25, this game is a steal. I couldn't recommend it more... it's now my #1 game.

And with my 12 plays, I've now played MoV more than anyone else on the geek (that has recorded plays). That was easy!

Chaos in the Old World



Interesting area control with differing player objectives. It was a fun game, but the more I think about it, the less I want to play it again. I wouldn't object to play it... I just wouldn't ever request it. Not really my cup of tea but still enjoyable in its own right.
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68. Board Game: Masters Gallery [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1262]
Alex G

Philomath
Oregon
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Masters Gallery is a bit dry, and good play is far from obvious at first (to the point that play can feel a bit random), but it seems to be well done and worth the occasional play. Best of a not-so-great month, I think. Interesting Knizia-exemplar here, in that he's taken the scoring mechanism from one of his other games and, er, it's a game on its own here.



At the Gates of Loyang isn't terrible, but it is long for what it is, the interaction is highly un-interesting, and the game has a beginning and a middle (and these can be fun) but then you basically get more middle until it's over. Comparing to the arc of Jambo, you can't help but wonder why you're playing this card game of merchants rather than that, better, one. May stay in our collection, and see occasional play, but I'm not 100% certain on that. We'll see how often it comes out, once we get back to Jambo (burnt out after playing a dozen or two games with 2nd expansion in a row). Does have really nice components (though the cards need text editing for clarity and concision).

Can't Stop is fun, if in some sense simply the embodiment of a probability payoff matrix in a little board. More fun than good, but entertaining enough. Probably enough less fun 2p to lower it a bit for me, though as an excuse to roll nice-looking dice, it's in the tier right below Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age.



Day & Night is ok. Planning is too limited for my wife's tastes, due to low hand limit + often need to draw more spells. I like it, myself, however, though I can't say I love it. Seems well balanced, in that I lost all games as Night and all games as Day. Warning: it is definitely an abstract with a card-game attached, not just a card game. It's no Blue Moon.



Neither is Campaign Manager 2008, for certain. The deck-building is simply too obvious to make up for the fairly dull nature of the card actions and semi-area-control game. Card advantage is king, key demographic appears to clog hand too much late game, so effective building is down to tweaking a fairly limited target, as much as your luck lets you. Actual play is also pretty simple, in practice, with no "clever tricks" up your sleeve, because the tricks are the same in both decks, so it's clearly coming. Our games all came down to sheer luck of the last state as we swung the momentum back and forth tediously. Tense? No, just annoying. A shame -- the 15 cards drafting seems like it could be a nice idea, and the core game isn't that bad; the cards are just too similar and simple in action to make the thought process engaging. Theme does nothing for us. Also - a close game here means a LONG game, and close seems to be the way it'll go with competent play.

One play of Erosion hasn't given me a solid opinion; there's a good bit here, in some ways, but some things that seem interesting to do also seem likely to not actually work in practice ever, limiting approaches to play. Will call it "new" when we get around to it again.
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69. Board Game: Sticheln [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:557]
Joe Wyka
United States
Walnut Creek
California
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This is the start of my second year recording plays, and this January sees one more play than last January, I take that to be a positive start to the year. Some solid new games this month, with an outstanding card game leading the way.

Sticheln - 9 - Sticheln is a game of reverse-trump, where every card not in the lead suit are trump cards. Each player also picks a card out of their hand before starting to determine which suit is their "misery color", in other words the suit that gives them negative points if they win them. As we played through the hand, we had numerous discovery moments about the decisions to be made. Do you use your high cards to win positive points for yourself or lay major negative points on an opponent? How can you securely win tricks without opening the door for a misery card to be laid on you? With the misery color being variable for each player, it forces a careful consideration of every card laid on the table. And the reverse-trump really had an unexpected effect - it gives players MORE control that is usual for a card game because you have a greater range of options for how to play a trick. It struck me that positioning yourself to either go first or last in a trick is key, as it gives you a much greater degree of control over what happens. I think the game is really a fight for controlling as many of the tricks as you can. This is a REALLY cool card game. I think this edges Tichu as my second favorite card game after bridge.

Amun-Re - 8 - Now I did play a 3-player game of Amun-Re about 2 years ago, but I'm considering this month's 5-player game to be my true first play. Amun-Re is a nice collection of good ideas. Knizia built his reputation mostly on his innovative auction mechanics and Amun-Re is right there with the best. Amun-Re has two kinds of auctions: a set value auction for provinces which works great, and a collective blind-bid auction for sacrificing to Amun-Re, where the bids are all totaled together for a combined value that applies to all players equally. Some players are interested in keeping the sacrifice low, so landing a high sacrifice forces some players to throw in a lot of money. The game is not difficult by any means, but there are enough decision points to keep players engaged. I'm torn between scoring it a low 9 or a high 8. Like most Knizia games, there is enough randomness in the power cards to keep this solidly in the medium-weight range. I don't mind the randomness of the power cards, but the deck does get cycled through a few times and gets less interesting as the options get more limited each time through. It's a bit messy, which keeps me from putting this with Knizia's top two games - Ra and T&E - but Amun-Re is a thoroughly enjoyable game.

Cosmic Encounter - 8 - Each player starts the game with 5 planets, 20 ships, a hand of 8 cards (which are used for combat modifiers or other special actions), and with an objective of being the 1st player to have 5 colonies on other players' planets. That's where the similarities end.

The base game comes with about 40 alien races, each with their own special power. Players draw two races at the beginning of the game and pick one to play. These special powers don't just tweak the rules a little, they can often radically change how the game unfolds, and affect different phases of the game in different ways. On a turn, a player draws a card to determine which other player they will encounter. The active player selects a home world of the target player to attack and puts 1-4 ships against it as a base level of strength. Then the attacker and defender can call on the other players to ally with them. Alliances are the Great Balancer in the game. If one player is about to win, then all players can choose to ally against that player to prevent them. Winning allies do get nice rewards such as reclaimed ships, additional cards, and, in the case of an attack, a valuable colony. In some cases you might try to lure other players to ally with you and then intentionally lose in order to weaken them. There's a nice tactical element in how alliances are used and manipulated that I think makes for the most interesting decisions in the game. After alliances are determined, then main players each flip a card from their hands and the total strength is added up to determine a winner. There are also negotiate cards. If both players flip negotiate cards they have one minute to settle on a deal that involves an exchange of colonies and/or cards, or lose 3 ships each. If the attacker wins, he and his allies gain new colonies. If the defender wins, then no new colony is formed on his planet and the defending allies get rewards. If the encounter was successful, the attacking player has the option of a 2nd encounter and then play passes to the left.

You generally don't draw new cards until you have used all 8 cards in your hand. Figuring out when to effectively play your weakest cards is another key element of the game.

As for a score, I'm torn on this one. I actually think this game is a great design for what it is. I try to be objective and consider the designer's intent when scoring, and I think this game is probably exactly what it is intended to be. There is a lot of luck (after all, you can't even decide who to attack on most turns), but enough choice is available to keep it from sinking into utter chaos. I really like the alliances and hand management aspects of the game. But like a lot of classic American designs, there is no set end point other than the objective, which could take a half hour or three hours to reach - it usually runs closer to an hour, but not always. The powers are unbalanced intentionally, so you can get screwed by your initial draw, but that would only be in comparison to what the others draw. It is a game where just about every single action, choice, and result is relative to everybody else. It is highly interactive and invites you to screw over other players regularly and repeatedly. I actually think the ideal audience for this game is boys aged 9-15. I suspect most who adore this game were probably introduced to it in that age range. For our group, there's not enough strategy for a satisfying experience. Still I'm giving the game an 8, which is not reflective of my desire to play, but more about my respect for the design. I'll hold onto it since I'm going to have a boy 9-15 in a couple of years and there's a good chance he could fall in love with it. I'm certainly open to playing it some more. The best thing about a game like this is that with all the variability, no two play experiences will be alike.

Endeavor - 7 - The game is like Puerto Rico in that you collect buildings which govern your available actions, but that's where the resemblance stops. The game is actually more like Goa, in which you advance along numerous tracks to increase the power of your actions. Endeavor introduces a few twists, some of which I like and some I'm pretty ambivalent about. I do like the idea of population and how it governs the number of actions you take each turn. I like that these actions can be saved from turn to turn and that they might block the usage of buildings if they don't get paid enough.

The geographic aspect of the board I'm not crazy about. I think it plays well, but it takes a long time to set up and I wonder to what extent different arrangements of tiles really affect the game. The game hints at being strategic, but I really think this is more of a tactical game. I think players have adequate control over the their actions so the medium weight doesn't bother me. I think what probably bothers me most is that I'd rather be playing Goa or Peurto Rico. The decisions in Endeavor just don't seem as sweetly difficult as those other games. Still this is solid and I know it will be enjoyed when I bring it out.

Oasis - 6 - This game makes me feel like a MONGOLIAN WARLORD!

The most common criticism that I've heard for this game is that it is too abstract. Well, I love abstracts, so that's no deterrent for me. Here's the scoop:

The game has no depth, it is entirely tactical. Do the best with what you've been offered. This game seems to have been designed specifically as a light closer for 5-player game nights and it fits that role rather well. We enjoy egging each other on to make bigger offers and the cutthroat board play. It's a neat little interactive game if you keep your expectations low and aren't too frustrated by the lack of real decisions.

Guillotine - 2 - Sliding cards around the table without purpose.
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70. Board Game: Manoeuvre [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:413]
Ronster Zero
United States
California
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Got this game is a trade for Race for the Galaxy. Wow, do I like this game. Only 1 play so far, but I intend to find a partner for this one and play it many, many times.
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71. Board Game: Snow Tails [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:448]
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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I played quite a few new games this month, thanks to a friend that has been staying with us that is game to help me knock down my list of unplayed games, and getting many of my freshly acquired games taken care of.

Snow Tails was my favorite of the bunch, and the only one I played twice. The first game did not go that smoothly, as I was playing with non-gamers and did a poor job of explaining the drift moves. They kept wanting to go forward and then sideways. For the second game a few days later, with more gamer-y people (all new to this game), we went ahead and added the special tiles, including Snow Tails: The Leap of Death and I was more careful about the drift explanation.

Mexica was another winner, which was no surprise, as I am a fan of Kramer/Kiesling. I have been carrying this around for a year and I finally played this two-player. I am looking forward to playing with more players, when the contention will get much stronger.

Rat Hot looked interesting, and I was not disappointed. I think this might be one my wife will put up with, but getting her to try it might be a problem.

Ilium was another game that I think would improve with more players, though it was fine with two.

Samurai: The Card Game, on the other hand, might be best with two, though I would have to try more people to be sure. I think I would prefer the board game with more players, but the card game is close in the two-player world. If only the box weren't so over-sized.

Phoenix was a disappointment, suffering from excessive anticipation without doing sufficient research. I had not fully realized that this was a card driven game, and as such it was a bit of a let-down. But it is still a beautiful game and I will need to give it more tries. One of those games that came in a box smaller than I expected.

Basari - we played this wrong, so it is really too early for me to judge. The challenge now will be getting my wife to try it again (and I really thought she was more likely to like it that I was). Moving in between the turns where you pick the actions will definitely speed things up.

Inside moves - I picked this up early last year and finally got it to the table. Interesting pure abstract strategy game, but not necessarily something I will play a lot.

The Tower of Mystery - my daughter's in-laws got this for me for Christmas and were apparently very excited about finding a game that was brand new that I wouldn't know about. They were right about that. We played with the optional rule to allow you to choose which direction you went AFTER you rolled the dice, and it was still too long for everyone (the non-gamers complained first, actually). At least I should be able to mine it for some GG, as there are only a couple of pictures, which appear to possibly be from the publisher.
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72. Board Game: Tobago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:302]
Dave Kudzma
United States
Millsboro
Delaware
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Tobago

Plays: 2 with 4

Rating: 8


Really tied with Vasco for best I played this month, yet only edging it out for the abstract puzzle that it is. This is NOT a deduction game as many might lead you to believe. Indeed it's almost Fluxx gone board game; a GOOD game. It's all about instituting rules for terrain and adjacencies until you have only one hex where a cube can be. Each rule will net the player a treasure and being the one to grab the single cube nets them a treasure. For every "set" resolved amulets are added to the board that give bonus actions. One last detail: Nice implementation of the Java movement rules.

Vasco da Gama

Plays: 2 with 3 and 4

Rating: 8


Interesting twist on worker placement that ties possible monetary cost or gain as an option to a certain percentage of actions each round. It's a tough game of resource collection, job/ship selection, and the puzzle of where to place said ship when it's launched. Tie all that in with character powers and it's 90% skill, 10% luck, all tension and fun. One minor ding is that it's not for AP'ers though I suspect experience mitigates quite a bit of that.

Fast Flowing Forest Fellers

Plays: 1 with 4

Rating: 7


It's a bit of Roborally in this one. It's all racing game, it's generally fast, and bloody simple. I'm not certain what legs it has in the face of other racing games I enjoy such as Das Motorsportspiel, Formula De, and Snow Tails, but it's so short it still seems to hold its' own. One final big plus is the modular design, and each board is a different size really allowing for some interesting possibilities.

Cardcassonne

Plays: 1 with 4
Rating: 7


I'm assuming the olny reason this light set collection/push your luck game carries the Carc moniker is to help it sell. I personally think that the designers poor luck when Pompeii was released (and generally overlooked even though it's quite good) inspired the Teuber thinking of "everying Catan". It's a fine game. It's also fast. It's also cheap. This will see a number of plays more as it's so fast and still fairly different int he combination of sets you collect.

Canal Mania

Plays: 1 with 5

Rating: 6


One part Ticket to Ride, one sliver of Age of Steam. I suspect this game eclipses the time/enjoyment threshold in my group, yet after the finish everyone wanted to play again. I'm certain one more play will say if this sinks or swims.

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73. Board Game: Toledo [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:1635]
Håkan König
Sweden
Linköping
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Ok, not many games played at all this month for me. Real life has been in the way again, but out of the five games that I did get to play, four were new to me.
Toledo by Martin Wallace was definitely the best game of the bunch, with Alea Iacta Est a possibly distant second. We misplayed that one, and I wonder if it shouldn't be played with more people to make it more interesting. 2 were too little I think.
Also played and liked Looting London. A re-theme of this would probably make a good Ticket To Ride the Card Game. (No, I don't like the one DoW published).
And finally we managed to play Gazza! The Game. A decent little game, but nothing to get excited over.
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74. Board Game: Conan Collectible Card Game [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:4132]
Mike Haverty
United States
Owasso
Oklahoma
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I played four new games this month, and liked them all, actually.

I'm giving top marks to the Conan CCG, which I played as part of My CCG Journey. It's a solid game, has a unique combat mechanic, terrific art, and great theme -- can't beat a game with cards like "Elbow to the Throat" or "Split Heads Like Ripe Melons"

A close runner-up is Tobago, which is quite a bit of fun. It's not complex, but the card play to narrow down the locations of the treasures gives plenty of opportunities to feel clever. I even like the slight push-your-luck aspect of dividing up the treasure cards. It's not deduction, exactly, but a kissing cousin.

I also played the print-and-play game Battle Leader Tactics, which feels like the sophisticated, older cousin of the traditional card game War. Players choose tactics and units from their hands and then use a results table to assess losses and bonuses before resolving the battle (higher total wins). Fast play, great cards available on Artscow, and satisfying wargame-lite feeling.

Last but not really least is the Harry Potter Trading Card Game. It is simple, but fun, with clean, clear rules, no timing issues, and a great theme. I'm really looking forward to possibly using this as a "first CCG" once my kids are older. This is also featured in My CCG Journey geeklist.
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75. Board Game: World Without End [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:303]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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I bought this for my girlfriend. I have Pillars, but I think I like this one better. We were a bit concerned about how powerful medical knowledge was but when we realized a random event could shut down curing people it highlighted that you need to try and diversify.

Traders of Genoa is not technically new, as I played it once years ago with the late John Daniels but it's been so long it was like a new game. I'm very interested to play again now that everyone knows what to do.

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