New to you May 11 => Best new boardgame
Andy
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Stockport
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What new board and card games did you play in May 2011? Please share your experiences of the games you played for the first time this month.

In order to assist with collecting Statistics from these lists, please post an entry with your chosen game of the month, and if possible please use the "insert board game" feature to add other games you mention in your entry.


New To You Metalist 2011
New To You MetaMetalist
New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread

Other Great Monthly Lists
Your Most Played Game (and more): May 2011
New to Your Kids May 2011 - Best New Games You've Played with Kids and Why
New To You May 2011 => Your best new Videogame
Your best gaming experience of the month and why May 11
New to you a year ago May 11 => Has it stood the test of time?
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26. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:9]
The root of all evil... but you can call me cookie.
United States
Gainesville
Florida
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When I do post in this geeklist I usually only post one game. I try and pick the one game that was new to me that impacted me most. This time there are two. First obviously is The Castles of Burgundy. Excellent game that I've managed to play several times as of this date and am finding it quite entertaining through them all. I look forward to giving it another go soon.


Next up is Hanabi & Ikebana, well at lest the Hanabi portion of it. WOW what a great little game. This rocketed straight to a 10 for me. It's just so simple to teach/learn/play, yet is quite a deep and thoroughly engaging game.
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27. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:98]
Bo Link
United States
Nashville
Tennessee
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Navegador - thumbsupthumbsup
Only four new games hit the table for me this month. Out of the four I have listed here, Navegador was my favorite by a slim margin. I was only able to get in one play, so I really want to explore this one a bit more.

Alien Frontiers - thumbsupthumbsup
I was able to get one play in of this, and I really enjoyed it. It fixed many of the problems I had with Kingsburg. I still don't want to play this with AP prone individuals.

Jaipur - thumbsupthumbsup
I played this for the first time today. It's an excellent two player game, and I think I could really see my wife enjoying this. It's easy to teach/learn, and there are some fairly interesting back and forth moments.

Dominion: Cornucopia - thumbsupthumbsdown
I'm not a huge fan of the Dominion expansions. I only have a copy of the base set, and I've never had the urge to buy any more. They just don't pull me in like my first few plays of the base set did. I was only able to play this twice, and both times the Jester seemed way too powerful. I'm sure that's just inexperience with the cards, but it just wasn't fun in my opinion.



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28. Board Game: Lords of Vegas [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:338]
Max Jamelli
United States
Chambersburg
Pennsylvania
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Two new games, both birthday presents.

Lords of Vegas I just played last weekend. I think this game is one that Jen will enjoy. Lots of different things you can do, I like the scoring mechanic where you need to expand to be able to move on the scoring track. Could be very cut-throat as well, but not in a "mean" way.

Rated a solid 8/10, but may move up a little.


The other was Fresco


For someone who was never very good in Art class, this game and I seem like perfect strangers. I really like the mechanic of waking up early / going to market first / paying more. I think going first later in the game is a big advantage, but you pay high costs at the market so you better have some money.

Also rated an 8/10.
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29. Board Game: Cape Horn [Average Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:3567]
Randall Bart
United States
Winnetka
California
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Cape Hornthumbsupthumbsup
The game that dare not speak its name. A vector placement tile laying game. The theme is a race, and you need to tag three flags. The tile draw is unfortunately highly random, but I saved some key tiles for the end and used them to block my opponent, so its definitely a strategy game. Quick and not deep, but people who are not good spatially will be lost.

Plazmagonia (prototype)thumbsupthumbsup
I signed a confidentiality agreement so I can't tell you anything. Actually I think I only promised not to give away marketing information. I don't know when this is going to be published, but it looked fully baked except the art. You travel on a big rondel, with spaces for the various types of actions, with some of the spaces allowing access to specific territories on the map. It's a weak area control game, though one way to win is what you've built not where you are. Fun, but not much depth.

Pentethumbsup
I don't believe I have ever played this 4 player before. I don't desire to do it again. It ended by someone deliberately letting me win to get it over with. It's not really a bad game. It's just not very good.

Also this month I got to play Power Grid with all the cards from Power Grid: BGG Promo Card Set. My regular deck is seriously beat up, so I mixed them with Power Grid: The New Power Plant Cards. It's fun, but the game did not need these, and I am glad it was originally published without these.
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30. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:9]
Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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The Castles of Burgundy

I love Notre Dame, and am a fan of both Macao and In the Year of the Dragon, so was keen to get this - and picked it up in a recent MathTrade. Played it and then played it again a couple of days later with the asymmetric boards. Love it - really excited by this, and longing to play it again next games night!

Ugg-Tect

It was a good MathTrade - this was the other game we gained - a silly game about building towers - played it twice already (only owned it a week), and laughed so much!!! There aren't many games where part of the rules involve hitting your partner over the head with an inflatable club!!!

BITS

If I hadn't already played Fits I might enjoy this more, but as it was it just seemed an inferior version of a game I love! I can't see me ever picking this over it's big brother.

Pictionary Card Game

Picked this up in the local supermarket, and gave it a go. It suffers from the usual "All Play" problem that basic pictionary does, of getting the clue from what your neighbours, rather than your partner, are doing, but if you don't mind that, it's a fun variant on an existing game. Replayability? We'll have to see!

Pantheon

Was hoping for more from this, as I'm a huge fan of Stone Age, and also really like Saint Petersburg. However, I was rather disappointed in reality - there were aspects of the game that were ok, but it had no excitement factor that made me want to go back to it, and although I'd play again if asked, I can't imagine suggesting it.

Namibia

This had some really nice aspects, but the turn order part of the game really annoyed me and ruined what might otherwise have been a good game. It was very bizarre opening the box and finding Giganten pieces inside though!!


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31. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:49]
William Bussick
United States
Reno
Nevada
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10 new games this month. Some really new and different stuff.

BEST

Troyes: This is a meaty game to me, and very much a good one. Lots of interesting decisions to make, but it's very hard to plan your next turn with much accuracy; you really just have to wait for your turn. The English on the cards is really small and the pictograms are meh, but outside of that, a really satisfying game. Everything seems to work very well together. Nicely balanced.

THE REST (most liked first)

The Castles of Burgundy: Go Stefan Feld! This guy is on an incredible roll! Troyes just narrowly beat out this game for best of the year. Like Troyes, this game uses dice in a new way and is filled with really interesting decisions. Feld really knows his stuff!

Giganten: Pretty neat older game. It seems like a cousin to Martin Wallace games, with the really limited economies and lots going on. I enjoyed it.

Extra!: New "dice tower box" game. The tower is pretty unwieldy and inconsequential, but the game is pretty decent. A different take on Can't Stop, it has you make some hard decisions. Satisfying dice game.

Disney Pixar Cars 2 Sorry Sliders: World Grand Prix Race Edition: Another games using the Sorry! Sliders pawns. Pretty much a no-brainer here. The road hazards and the "knock-back" zones aer what separate this one apart from the rest. Fun, for what it is.

Desperados: I don't really play many partnership games, but this was pretty fun. Seemed almost like a spiritual cousin to Saboteur. Lots of bluffing and some deduction.

Friesen-Törn: Silly simulation of bumper cars. Couple levels of randomness put together, but you still find yourself laughing with joy during play.

Say Anything Family Edition: Pretty much what you'd expect. Pleasant, well-produced, and good for many ages.

Sneaks & Snitches: Boring, quicker version of Hoity Toity. Great production value, though.

Factory Fun: This game gave me a headache. Speed puzzles aren't my favorite, and though that mechanic was a small part of this, the game was still pretty painful for me to play.
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32. Board Game: The Napoleonic Wars (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:888]
Brad Miller
United States
Seattle
Washington
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My only new game this month.It was, OK. Prussia stayed neutral the entire game, and France rolled over the rest of us repeatedly. I think as multiplayer CDGs go I'd rather be playing Successors if I have 4 or Here I STand with more.
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33. Board Game: Resident Evil Deck Building Game [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1424]
I am on a Journey...
Australia
Lavington
New South Wales
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Never a good month for me May and this year no exception with just the 2…

d10-1 Resident Evil Deck Building Game

The name might be stupid but that is to be expected when a game is released by a Toy Company. But that said there is something worth exploring here. Resident Evil is another Deck Cycling Game but it is more akin to Dominion than say Ascension because it has various decks/types of cards, which are not all in play in every game.

Then I think it shares something with Thunderstone (haven’t played it though) in that you have to kill a bad dude to end the game (well in Story Mode Anyway).

The game offers up 4-5 different Modes of play including Story, Versus and Mercenary to name a few. Each game opens with a whole bunch of resources open to purchase and the standard 5 card draw – improve your deck and cycle, mechanic is present here.

Ammo serves as the basic currency to buy things as well as offer Ammo up for the many weapons on offer. Each character then does something slightly different and better than the opposition.

We only played twice in the Story Mode and we had 4-players. At 90 minutes it played way to long (about 20-30 minutes too long) but I enjoyed the overall feel and look forward to exploring other modes. I will admit that we have much to learn about building our decks. They were way to big and we realized we all had like a 5-10% chance of pulling the combo of cards needed to blow away the uber Infected (bad dudes are called the Infected).

The inclusion of 2 uber weapons in the Mansion Deck did worry me though a little as it seemed like it reduced the game to dumb luck at times.

I still think I like Ascension better at this point as its entry level is much lower but this is still worth further investigation and rating may go up.

d10-2 Alhambra: The Card Game



I knew even before purchasing this game that it was nothing more than the full game in card game format with the walls and reconstruction mechanics stripped out. But at $20 I threw it on the back of an order to try it anyway.

Even with my negative mindset I still found something to like here. Whilst I would always play the boardgame over this version because there is more to do, it may appeal more to family who don’t want to think to hard. It is also a useful tool for teaching the basic set collection majority aspect of Alhambra and the importance of paying exact amounts to earn bonus actions. From that point of view it could be a good teaching tool for the boys before they step up to the full game.

Expansions

d10-1 7 Wonders : Manneken Pis



Not much to say really…It is a nice to have as another option and its ability to copy the stages of neighbour's Wonders is interesting.



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34. Board Game: Louis XIV [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:344]
Play Games - Interact - Have Fun!
United States
California
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New Games:

Louis XIV - 1 play





I'm one of the geeks on Mike Jones's Guantanamo Bay Geekbuddies geeklists and for those of you who don't know what that it, it's a series of semi-regular geeklists that Mike (and others in the group) put together to show everyone what games you've played recently and discuss them back and forth amongst geekbuddies. It's been going on for several years now and it's a great way to learn of new games from others that you've Geekbuddied.

On the last list, I asked the 3 same questions to each member regarding one of their recently played games I was interested in. One of those game was Louis XIV and after an enthusiastic recommendation, I broke out my copy, forced myself to learn the game and then taught it to my wife.

I'm SO glad I did! (Thanks to Ksensei for his recommendation!)

Louis XIV is a fun filled romp through the French Court in the late 17th Century. For a short, medium weight, "filler", Louis XIV is surprising deep and contains elememts of El Grande (Area Control), Samurai (Area Influence),Tikal (Worker Movement) and it has a Hand Management aspect to it like Race for the Galaxy.

Players are placing their pawns to influence the various members of the court to gain favors from them. Each player has several cards depicting which sets of Favors they need to collect - which when completed, grant them additional powers or benefits. It's an amazingly tight design that will draw you in with it's "deeper than it's appearance would suggest" gameplay and it is easily the "Best New to Me" game this past month.

I've also got the expansion from the Alea Treasure Chest and I'm looking forward to adding it in after a few more games are under my belt.



Betrayal on House on the Hill - 2 plays




I had received this for Christmas last year (the reprint) and after recently getting my replacement cardboard pieces to correct the severe warping issue, I've played this a couple of times now.

So far, it's been kind of "meh" for me - although in all fairness, my daughter and wife both seemed to like it.

I'm a bit disappointed in the end game once the Haunt begins. In both games we've played, the investigators had NO chance to win based on the room layout, items they had vs the items the traitor had. As a matter of fact, the 2nd game had the one player the traitor needed to kill (and the only one with the item that eventually MIGHT have killed the traitor), fall directly one of the rooms the traitor needed to sacrifice her in. Topping it off, the traitor rolled 11 dice to the investigators 3 - so there wasn't even a chance of her escaping to possible get tot he room to she needed to get to to activate her attack.

It was very anti-climatic and quite unbalanced which was disappointing. I'll play this a couple more times before giving it my final judgement, but it's not looking good.



Re-Visits:

Caylus - 2 plays





After having played this a couple of times a few years back and then letting it languish on the shelf for all these years, on a whim I pulled it out again and re-taught it to my wife to see what she would think of this Worker Placement game compared to her favorite game of all, Agricola.

We ended up playing two games in two days and her opinion of the game went up a lot on the 2nd game as she was again familiar with the rules enough to actually devise some strategies on her own (and win the game). I especially liked the way, that the game can evole down a very different path from one game to another (no gold in one game or no blue buildings in another for example).

I was trying a strategy of denying her money (which didn't quite work), but there are still a lot of things I'd try differently down if I tried that strategy again, so I feel there is still alot to explore with the game.

It's definitely a game that we both enjoy and sure to be one that hits the table more often now that we've "re-discovered" it again.


Java - 1 play



Although I've played many years ago, I'm including it in this month's games as it has been so long, it was virtually a new game to us as nothing was familiar.

Java is the 2nd game of the Mask Trilogy by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling and is as gorgeous to look at as Tikal is as the tiles are very thick and the board develops into a nice, 3D relief map as the game progresses. It involves the same aspects of Worker control and Action Points yet, the game is not so much about quantity of influence, but which workers have the highest influence on the terraced villages and cities.

With two players, the game became a little scripted in the mid game once there were some areas that the irrigation tiles could be put into and surrounded easily on each players turn. Once the irrigation tiles were gone, the game returned back to the regular flow with each of us fighting over villages and cities.

It was a lot of fun - though more games are needed to learn some of the other strategies better and defend more effectively.

I don't like it as much as Tikal, but it was a nice addition to our game sessionand I expect to see it hit the table more in the future.




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35. Board Game: Schotten-Totten [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:389]
United States
New Jersey
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11 new games played this month, several of which I had been very interested in trying, and none of which I especially disliked. Quite a successful month!

Loved:

Schotten-Totten (15 plays)


What an amazing game! Simple rules and plays very quickly, but also offers some interesting strategy and difficult choices. I've also played with the Battle Line rules (cards numbered 1-10, hand size of 7) via the iPhone app, but I prefer the Schotten-Totten rules since it feels tighter and more difficult.

My copy is the version with the Tactics cards, although I haven't tried the game with those yet. It's definitely on my to-do list, though I have a feeling I will prefer playing without.

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries (14 plays)


I wanted a TtR that could play well with 2, and Nordic Countries definitely delivers plenty of fun and blocking potential even with 2. We take about 30 minutes per play, which makes this a great casual game for the evenings. Plus, who can argue against the wintry theme and pretty purple trains?

Liked:

At the Gates of Loyang (3 plays)


This is pretty much a big efficiency puzzle, but that's fine with me. It's quite satisfying puzzling out how to get the most money from your vegetables turn after turn. I also like the Chinese theme, although unfortunately the Chinese characters on my cards were blurry/misprinted.

We played with 2 and 3; the card drafting mechanic was better and more interesting with 3, but the game overall took a very long time with 3. Many people say this is a great solitaire game, and I can definitely see that.

Saint Petersburg(1 play)


We played this one with 5. Quite a fun game and I'd be very interested in playing again. The rotating phase leader mechanic was pretty interesting, and I liked the strategy in buying cards to ensure a shot at a new card in the next phase.

Bohnanza (1 play)


Fun trading game, light but still has enough there to be interesting. I like the fact that cards can't be rearranged; this adds quite a bit to strategy and also incentivizes trading. We played with 3 and it was a very friendly game. However, I understand that it can get quite heated with more players, which I'm very interested in seeing but also a bit apprehensive as well.

Magnum Sal(1 play)


Woo, salt mining! Surprisingly to me, I really enjoyed the mining part of the game. It felt very thematic, and I really liked the different decisions and strategies there, e.g. choosing between paying a premium to hire others to transport your salt versus tying up your own workers in those spots for free transport and maybe even getting paid by the other players.

Fun game that I would be interested in playing again, but doesn't quite have me clamoring for more.

Le Havre (1 play)


We played this one with 5 and the game was longer than I usually like; it was also a bit frustrating to only get 1 (occasionally 2) turn per round where so much would happen before you could actually do something again. The gameplay was pretty interesting though and I'd like to try it again with 3 sometime.

Race for the Galaxy(1 play)


Some interesting aspects to this game and I'd definitely like to play again to get a better feel for the cards and test different strategies. The icons took a bit of getting used to but weren't nearly as bad as I'd imagined from reading comments here. I liked the psychological element of picking phases to hopefully benefit from what everyone else picked as well as your own choice. Overall though, I enjoy Glory to Rome a lot more

Ticket to Ride (1 play)


My first time playing Ticket to Ride on the original USA map! We kind of did a speed play to try to catch up with another table, so I didn't get a really good feel for the map. It was fun, but overall I think I prefer to play TtR on Europe and Nordic Countries.

Meh:

Infinite City (1 play)


This one gets points for having simple rules (but interesting strategy,) nice tiles, and the ability to play 2-6. Not a bad game by any means, but I've realized now that I just don't really like games that are this confrontational, and I'm not really interested in playing again.

Hagoth: Builder of Ships (1 play)


Rather mediocre game that pretty much plays itself Draw cards, do an action or two, repeat. The decisions here didn't seem particularly interesting or difficult, and I didn't like the attack cards, which felt very tacked-on and only served to lengthen the game for no benefit. I might play this again if I feel like something 2-player that requires almost no thinking, otherwise there are so many other games I'd reach for first.
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36. Board Game: Seeland [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:959]
Steve Duff
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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And the winner is...

Seeland
Preliminary rating: 8


A fun tile purchasing game, with an exploration and area control scoring element. Purchase tiles from a rondel, place them on the board, and when one of your windmills is surrounded by tiles, score it. Diversity is rewarded with bonus points, and monoculture is punished by scoring 0 points. If you're clever and nasty, you can place a tile in an area and force a monoculture on your opponent. Very interesting market system in the purchase rondel, in that each tile you skip over to choose a better tile costs you 1 money. But, you only have 5 money, and can't get more until all your opponents have spent some. It's a neat self balancing thing, if I want to stop my opponent from spending money, I have to stop spending myself. Another strong point in the game is that it is very malleable, the board has two sides, one with a fixed setup of tiles, one with random tiles, and there are rules you can add or subtract to customize the game for your own kind of preferences.

De Vulgari Eloquentia
Preliminary rating: 8


Aw geeze, yet another game about the creation of a language? Fun, action point game, where each turn you spend your 5 action points in your choice of many possible places - move around the map of Italy collecting knowledge and/or cash from the locations, earn cash, acquire knowledge, buy manuscripts, earn votes for upgrading yourself at the end of game, or advance on multiple tracks that earn points or other benefits. Each player has the choice of what route their character takes, whether they stay a businessman, or go the religious route, becoming a Friar, Cardinal, or perhaps even Pope. Actions are very limited, in that it often takes multiple action points to do just one thing, such as acquiring a level 4 manuscript takes 4 of your 5 action points. The winner is definitely the person who was most efficient. Interesting event system, in that the order is fixed, but where you start varies each game. So, one game is event 7,8,9,1..6 and the next is 2,3,4...1, etc. Events are face up and known, so you can plan to be in the proper city just as it happens. Enjoyable with 2 players, but I'm looking forward to trying it with 4, in order to get more interplay (merchants have to donate money to the religious players), and to see more use of the turn order track.

caravan caravan caravan

Isla Tetra
Preliminary rating: 7


Lost, Gilligan's Island, and Cast Away in board game form. You roll the dice and collect various bits of flotsam, represented by colour tetris pieces. Collect enough and fit them together properly, and you invent shoes for exploring the island, torches, ropes, shelter, tools, spears for hunting, etc. Exploring the island more lets you reach the areas worth points, and upgrading items eventually allows you to complete a raft, and sail home. Don't forget to invent a camera and take various pictures for more points.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. It's lovingly handmade, even the bag for randomly drawing what you find as you explore the island. There are a few tiny problems, the rulebook is hard slogging at first (but improving each time the author updates it), and some of the iconography on the player boards could be improved (no indication what 2 items are pre-requisites for exploring the island, for example), and there should be a mention of which special dice rolls are what on the quick reference. But overall, quite fun.

Tsuro
Preliminary rating: 7


Place a path tile, advance your pawn on the path created, don't run into anyone else or off the board or you're out of the game. Last player standing wins. Extremely fast and simple, I picked it up because it was on sale, gorgeous, and handles 8 players. Almost nothing plays 8. A nice filler for large groups. We actually played it 2 player, with 2 pawns each, whoever lost both pawns first was the loser. Worked just fine. A fun filler.

caravan caravan caravan

Unpublished Prototype
Preliminary rating: 6


Can't say too much here, but I was contacted by a fellow BGG member who asked Deb and I to test his game. I was happy to do so. It's a tile laying game, using dice as actions, with some twists that I haven't seen before. Not too bad, but still in the design phase. It will be interesting to watch its development.
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37. Board Game: American Rails [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:886]
Kris Verbeeck
Belgium
Mol
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15 New games.
My personal record thanks to Steve,James,Mike and Michael
Some really great ones. I have to adjust my top 10. Normally I have a couple of days to think things over and then I rate games or adjust my rating. Right after my introduction to Struggle of empires I got introduced to dominant species. So hardly anytime to glance back at the games I played. Some stuff stays however. the coalition bidding in Struggle, the endscoring in dominant species, the clever use of dice in troyes, the devaluation of stock in American rails, the surprise on the faces in Mord am arosa. the I know X put that image in dixit. the second round in Amun re leaving your pyramids behind. The brutal bidding in Taj Mahal. the chain of events in hotel life. the traps in wiz war, the great balancing act in Mordred...

I sorted them alphabetically
It was an extremely tough decision as there were a lot of great ones.
American Rails (3 plays)

This one wins because I took it with me on the next gamenight and Alain and Karl who allways want to try something new suggested to play it again after the first game.
Playing time is brilliant. I wish more games with that depth had the same playing time. If you know any let me know.
It's similar to Chicago Express but also different enough. Chicago Express is currently high in my top 10. this one equals it, if it doesn't top it.
biggest difference for me to Chicago Express is that AR limits the available actions each round in a year. while chicago Express limits the number of options in a year.

I like both ideas. I think it's easier to play AR because it is more clear ,CE might surprise you.
The limitation per round means that you can start an auction to save the value of your shares more easily towards the end of the game. Most of the time there is more value in devaluating the stock of other players instead of increasing yours. Devaluating stock means that other players can't do it to you this turn.

Amun-Re
This is an interesting auction game.
I ruined my chances because I thought the northside of the board was the side where the city names are readable. It didn't make sense though so I should have figured that out earlier.So point that out. Since I am a slow starter and when I figured it out it was too late. This let me down but I also loved that.
I found it really interesting that the game plays in two stages and you leave your "property certificates" behind after one round. This gives tactical play a boost and offers it plenty of repalyvalue.

Dixit (2 plays) Mord im Arosa (2 plays)

Two perfect starters
Two perfect family games
Two perfect fillers
Two perfect beer and pretzel games
two perfect games to play in between two heavy games
Two perfect closers

If I have to choose between them Dixit just steals it.



Dominant Species

This has been a frequent pick in these lists.
So I go directly to my findings
With some time investment, meaning a greater number of plays, I can see this being played under three hours.
Meaning that I would be able to get it more to the table just once. Alas 4 hour + games are just outside the mark for my thursday group
I don't think it's a hard game. there is a lot going on though. Probably the hardest thing to do is act on what the other players are trying to do. To limit their chances and better yours. It looked like the game we played was more a solitaire type of game. Everybody was busy trying to create options for them instead limiting the options of the other species. The difference in abilities is a nice touch. There were no birds in our game.

Energie Poker
We had a tough time trying to get the german rules straight. All I can say now is that the game looks to be a very tight economic game. Game ended twice on bankruptcy. There is some luck involved in the game as some players will have inside knowledge of events that will take place.

Hotel Life

This OOP game was a game I didn't get to the table because my thursday group really grinds to a halt when there is german text on the cards.
After playing it I would recommend single sheet paper summing everything up or paste ups (sleeves).
I also think that you shouldn't know what would happen to the guests and just see what happens when they are activated. They can activate other players leading to funny stories.
Just approach it as a light game and have fun with the things that will happen.
I also should have prepared this better but my guests were great sports trying to figure it out too.

One of the best produced games BTW


Leaping Lemmings
Is a racing game with a nice theme. The player who has jumped the furthest of a cliff wins.
It's very light and a decent filler

Mordred
I had no intention of seeking out a copy of this Wallace game. after playing it i think there's still room in my collection for it.
Players fight Mordred .You can win as either King Arthur or Mordred.

And you can do well on both sides. You have to have some luck with the dice though.

Palastgeflüster
Is a set collection game where perhaps the best strategy perhaps is not too advance too much. and make other players lose.

Pinguin-Party
Is an odds calculation game and a memory game (who played what)
Game play doesn't look like a classic cardgame but the skills needed to do well in those are present.
It's a good filler and I will probably look for a copy


Struggle of Empires
Together with Dominant species one of the longer games we played. ( Hotel life took us too long)
I don't remember much of the game. except that everybody was interested in slaves and America.
I wasn't and approached it as a risk type of game having strong presences in europe.
this gave me a good position in the coalition bidding as everybody was afraid of me there.
the coalition bidding was something I hadn't seen before in a game and I really liked how that worked.

Taj Mahal
hand management bidding, set collection, and routes are the ingredients of this classic euro.
I am not sure if prefer this over Amun Re or the other way around.

Troyes
the best "dice" game I have played. The dice are infact workers . You don't have to pay for your workers but you have to pay other players if you want to use theirs.
there is some interesting dice manipulation as well and because of the setup each game will be different.
Playing time is a fixed number of rounds. the game should speed up after a couple of rounds.

Wiz-War
Probably one of the best beer and pretzel games out there. I am not a beer and pretzel game player but this is what my idea of such type of game is. I hit you with a pie.

All the more beautifull because I received this great handmade copy. I played it solo before when I received this from my secret santa but this was the first real game .

Since this was a quick write-up please feel free to ask questions.

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38. Board Game: Xactika [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:4755]
Jeff Wolfe
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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I haven't been playing that many new games in recent months, but this month I managed six new games, which isn't bad for me. I went with Xactika, which also happens to be the third game I've ever logged that starts with the letter X. Since X is my least logged letter, that means I've now logged at least 3 games for each letter of the alphabet.

Norenberc - It's a good worker placement, set collection, resource management game, but not something I necessarily want to spend two hours playing. I might play it again if someone wants to, but I can't see myself requesting it.

Penguin Soccer - The game seemed to drag on with two evenly matched players each waiting for the other to make a fatal mistake. We played it with Looney Pyramids, not the version published by nestorgames.

Resident Evil Deck Building Game - We had a hard time figuring out the rules as written, it seemed pretty random, and some of the cards seemed to be unbalanced. My new least-favorite deck building game. Full disclosure: I am a Dominion playtester.

Trollhalla - Silly little worker placement, set collection game. I enjoyed it and wouldn't mind playing again.

Xactika - A trick taking card game with a special deck and a bidding mechanism similar to Wizard. The cards have one to three "pips" in each of 4 suits, for a total value between 4 and 12. When a player leads a card, he names a suit. The other players must follow suit, if able, by playing a card with the same number of pips in the given suit. The card with the highest total value which followed suit wins the trick (ties go to the card played last). You get points for making your bid and lose points for missing your bid. The winner is the player with the most points after 8 hands.

Zombie Dice - Extremely random press-your-luck game. You randomly pick three dice that come in three varieties (one weighted toward good results, one weighted toward bad results, and one in the middle). There are three different images on the dice. Brains lock in as a good result, shotgun blasts lock in as a bad result, and footprints return to your hand. If you decide to roll again, you randomly draw back up to 3 dice before you roll. If you ever have 3 shotgun blasts, you bust. If you decide to stop, you score the number of brains you have. When someone gets at least 13 brains, finish the round and the most brains wins.
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39. Board Game: Barons [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:3533]
Ender Wiggins
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I played and reviewed several great new games in May, all brand new titles from Cambridge Games Factory:

Barons



More card-game goodness from the same company that brought us Glory to Rome. I wouldn't quite call it a "new" Glory to Rome - even though it's from the same publisher. It's slightly lighter in feel, and the mechanics are quite different from both games, but cards still have multiple uses, and when played as buildings they will give you ongoing abilities and benefits.

The basic concept is that players are building up their personal barony by playing lands (which allow you to draw new cards by taxation) and buildings (which have special abilities), and there's interaction with other baronies by using knights. Cards are used as lands/buildings/actions/knights, but are also used as `money' (by discarding) in order to `pay' for the cards that are put into play.

There are four different coloured decks that are shared by the players, and each deck has unique cards with its own feel. There are certainly different strategies to explore, by building around certain cards or colours. It also has the advantage of scaling well as a two-player game, and plays quite quickly - so you can play a couple of games back-to-back. I've played it about a dozen times so far, and am very impressed and itching to play more often. Bear in mind: 1. don't expect it to be like Glory to Rome (it's lighter, and different); 2. don't judge it too quickly after just one or two plays (there's more strategy and tactics going on than meets the eye!)

Easily the best game of the month for me, and expect to see some real noise about this on BGG over the next few months. 9/10

Want to know more? See my pictorial review:
mb A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: Introducing Glory to Rome's younger brother - and easily one of the best strategy card games of 2011!


North Pole



Players are penguins on vacation from the South Pole, who amuse themselves while on vacation with a race from Base Camp to the North Pole, with the first to make it there and back being the winner. The game uses cards for two purposes - first of all to denote the landscape on which the game is played, but also for a set collection mechanic which determines penguin movement. Charming artwork and solid gameplay for kids, and yet enough decisions about which cards to collect and play that the adults can enjoy it too. 7/10

Want to know more? See my pictorial review:
mb A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: Of course the family loves it - you get to race penguins!


Hot Potato



Very light card game that's fun for families and children. You're passing "hot potato" cards around the table, and if you get a "hot potato", you'll need action cards to pass it left or right, because if you're caught holding the hot potato you suffer a "burn". You can also add seasonings which increase the burns and do other crazy stuff. Fantastic kid-friendly theme that's very original and works well! 7/10

Want to know more? See my pictorial review:
mb A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: Hey quick, pass it on, it's another hot card game from Cambridge Games Factory!
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40. Board Game: Airlines Europe [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:210]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Arlington Heights
Illinois
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A few "new to me" games this month.

Airlines Europe was one that I had been waiting for the release of. A "smoother" Union Pacific - I'm in. I like that you no longer can just keep drawing Air Abacus (UP) shares - you need to discard to acquire those shares. I also like not having restrictions where you can build between cities - in AE if you have cash, you can buy it - no more waiting for the right track. I've played it twice with 5 so far and look forward to more plays. I can see ow the board might be more "open" in AE, but we can house rule it if needed to tighten up the board after a number of plays.

There was a bit of a travel theme this month with my next two games as well.

Sun, Sea & Sand was a game learned at the Gaming Hoopla in Janesville, WI. A nice worker placement game with some neat building bonus' and tourist movement. Would play again - no need to own it. Watch out if you play with AP players, it might get a little long and lose its luster.

Hotel Samoa was another game about finding rooms for guests. I like the "bidding cards" and look forward to a 2nd play now that I understand them a bit more. Glad I did not just overlook this one.

Ringgz was a very colorful abstract that I have admired here on BGG for a while. Beautiful wooden pieces in vibrant colors and intersting game play. Glad I got top play this and will look for a copy in a math trade or clearance auction.







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41. Board Game: MarraCash [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1180]
Andrew
United States
San Francisco
California
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Perhaps the fewest new games yet...

The Favourite
MarraCash cropped up on a couple of old geeklists and intrigued me, so I acquired it. MarraCash is one of those old Euro designs that predates resource management, card powers, and lots of fiddly little rules. It's extremely simple: move twice, auction twice, or move then auction; and despite a short playing time, the game contains cooperation, competition, incentive manipulation and spatial play, all without luck beyond the setup.

The Standout
I like Dominion, so Dominion: Cornucopia (played via electronic means) is a straightforward success. I think the smaller sets necessarily attract more lukewarm responses as there are just fewer possibilities. Nevertheless, I like the mechanical theme of Dominion: Cornucopia: deck variety; it recalls the your first awed games buying a bit of everything, before you learned that buying mostly treasure and a couple of focused Kingdom cards was more effective. In fact I think this should have been extended over a large release, because these kind of decks are more fun and newbie-friendly to boot. Ironically one of my friends doesn't like Dominion: Cornucopia because it makes newbie-style play more effective, the spoilsport.

The Decent
I like the core mechanic in The Speicherstadt: pricing determined by the length of the queue, and the simplicity (sort of) of the rest of the game keeps it prominent (unlike Macao, where deliveries, VP purchases, and region contiguity obscure the windrose).

Sid Sackson is a genius. I stumbled into a game of Can't Stop and had a lot of fun despite the game's simplicity.

The Indifferent
As a child, I played Mancala against my cousin and was thoroughly crushed. Revisiting the game online, and found it interesting enough but would prefer real-life components. I like the idea that the game is played at blitz speed, something that could improve many other boardgames!
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42. Board Game: Pastiche [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:788]
Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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This may not end up being my favorite new game from May 2011, but currently it is.

Pastiche - It's cute and flows well and creates scores. That's about as much as most games do these days. There's no real call to play this game and it certainly isn't as well-designed as it should be (oh, for the days of Avalon Hill when game development was real). But it's pretty and has spiffy art and plays fairly quickly. Glowing praise, I know.

Mord im Arosa - This is the other contender. I played it only once, and only with 2 players. It took 10 minutes. That's good. But it wasn't exactly riveting, as the score was 28-1 (problem with runaway leader in this 2-player affair). But it may be a good game for four or more players down the road. Problem there is that I don't think the artwork is kid-friendly (hell, the theme isn't kid-friendly), so we'll have to wait for other adults to play it, which could be quite awhile.

Hop Hop Hooray! - This was surprisingly good. The kids like it and it can be scaled by removing chits/marbles and is a great kid game of mindless fun. Sort of reminds me of Skittles (play your piece and see how you do).

Train of Thought - This was a disappointment. I bought this game as quickly as I could when it came out. Finally got to play it this month. And it's just not a good real-time game (actually, the real-time aspect is a drawback, as is the case for virtually any game). And it is fiddly with the cards/scoring. In fact, it's multi-player, chaotic Password and, sadly, it doesn't come close to measuring up to its ancestor.
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43. Board Game: Pilus [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Pilus + Rainbows: Picked this up in an auction and have been super glad I did since getting it. Great game.

Taluva: I had been wanting to play this for awhile (and even had it in my "want in trade" list). Unfortunately, I didn't like it as much as I wanted or expected to.

Troyes: Good game. It gets more interesting the more I play and learn the game.

Alien Frontiers: Another good dice rolling, worker placement game. Lighter than Troyes but different enough that I feel justified in owning both.

Torres: Okay abstract. I need some more plays on this.

Acquire: Finally got to play this and was pleased. I'm looking forward to playing this again soon.
The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac: Terribly boring. It's practically a roll-and-move game to me.

Agricola: Finally got to play this too. Interesting and I hope to play more soon (and perhaps even pick up a copy for myself).

Dominant Species: Another interesting game that I continued to think about after playing. Would definitely like to play this again.

Fresco: Light worker placement. Didn't really like it as a 2-player game so I hope to play it with more soon.

Hit the Beach: Got sucked into playing this at one of our game group nights. I wasn't happy.

Pastiche: Glad to have the opportunity to try this. It was interesting. Reminded me a bit of Ticket to Ride in the random, collect as many colors as possible element but pretty fun for a light game that could be introduced to parents/family fairly easily, I think.

Rattus: This was okay. A little bit dull in the cube pushing, but not bad. I would play again.

Space Alert: Only got to do the first test run on this. I would love to get many more plays in on this as the scenarios add in complexity to the game. I want to see all the missions!
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44. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:74]
Albatros
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Two new games this month, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game and Seeland. For best, I'll go with the former. Seeland is a good game but just too tactical in nature for me.

As for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, I played it 22 times this month (Seeland only three time). That's how much it sucked me in. Now, at the end of the month, I'm a bit bored by it and now waiting for the first expansions to shake things up a bit.

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45. Board Game: Outdoor Survival [Average Rating:4.54 Overall Rank:11124]
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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Best (and Only) New Game
Outdoor Survival 6/10

A buddy found this at a thrift store and gifted it to me. I'm glad he did because given the reputation as "worst game ever" on BGG I never would have sought it out on my own (despite the theme being near and dear to my heart; I would rather be hiking in the wilderness than pretty much doing anything else).
I ran through a few solo games and it's actually pretty fun in a light fast sort of way. I think to appreciate it you need a morbid sense of humor, because it's fun in that "watch the bad things happen" way a la Arkham Horror. The map is nicely done.

What I'm almost enjoying more than the game is the catalog that was in the box:
Everything you always wanted to know about games but were afraid to ask
This was Avalon Hill's 1977 catalog, pre-ASL (even pre-SL!), but at what might be considered their heyday. They had everything, the 3M line, classic games, sports games, war games....

Among the gems I've encountered in this catalog:
- Learned that Origins was originally a wargame convention and started by Avalon Hill in 1975 in Baltimore.
- They had a kind of cool "cheat-proof" method of rolling dice for play-by-mail kits using the stock market quotes.
- They produced the first "boardgame designed without a board", Jutland (although some would debate that )
- I found myself a new grail game (Caesar - Epic Battle of Alesia)
All in all not bad for a 34 year old game catalog!

EDIT:
I should also mention another new game, it's the computer implementation of a board game, not sure if that counts but oh well:
Take it Easy!
On Facebook.

I like it a lot for a few reasons:
-Fun and addictive, but, plays very fast, so you can get a quick 2-3 minute game as a break or before work.
-The cool, soothing music and sound effects act as a nice stress reliever.
-I actually think the facebook implementation is better than any physical boardgame could be, for a reason that's very specific to the game design: when you "break" a link, it recedes into the background so that you can basically ignore it.
-It's got a neat social mode too, where you can continue the connections that your neighbors made on their last game.
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46. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:19]
J. Jefferson
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Quite a few new games this month, including some that I've wanted to try for a while, and others that had been needlessly collecting dust:

7 Wonders: thumbsupthumbsup Three plays over one weekend. What a great game! Simple, fun, a bit interactive, great emerging strategy. It plays quickly and makes you want to play it again. Sadly, it's not supposed to be great for two players (I've only played it with three) but most of the time my gaming group is me and my wife.

Gosu: thumbsupthumbsup Four plays. Another fun and quick game. It took me a while to get this one to the table because my wife was a bit resistant to the theme. I was also worried that the attacking would turn her off--but she ended up liking this one quite a bit and I anticipate we will play it a lot. The strong catch-up mechanism makes this game fun--you're never out of it, even after you lose some valuable cards.

The Bottle Imp: thumbsupthumbsup One play. A really fun and clever trick-taking game. I want to get this one to the table again, but it might take a while.

Lexigo: thumbsupthumbsdown A hex-tile word game. One play, three players. I want to give it another try with just two players, as the AP made this one a bit tedious. I suspect it will be better with two, and I like this kind of word-search mechanism enough to give it a try.

Mow: thumbsdown Meh. Not a lot to this one. A bit of strategy. I guess it feels kind of like Slide 5, but not quite as fun.
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47. Board Game: Alhambra [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:312]
Robert Forrest
Australia
Embleton
Western Australia
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Four new games, all card based this month.

My favourite was Alhambra. It's a quiet and clever game. Not extremely exciting, but nice, and my wife likes it a lot.

Close second, but only played once so far, is Glory to Rome, and I suspect it will get better with each play too. Not looking forward to trying to teach it to my gaming friends though.

Third, and probably an unpopular choice, was Pirate Fluxx. We got it for my birthday party (we hired a room at a community centre and had a big game day) and it was the most played game and really enjoyed by everyone. Dumb, but perfect for the right crowd.

And last, but since I liked ALL of the games still great, and since I've also only played it once so far, bound to improve, Caylus Magna Carta. Really looking forward to getting it to the table again.

No duds in my opinion this month!
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48. Board Game: Successors (third edition) [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:550]
Neil Henning
United States
Nutley
New Jersey
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A good month for new games.

Successors (third edition)
This was the best of the bunch this month. I love the deal of the leaders. I think that will make for great replayability. Couple that with the cards and it is a game of lots of twists and turns. It took a few turns for me to pick up on some of the strategies to use so now I can't wait to get this one back to the table to see how much better it will be.

Chinatown
Good negotiation game. Would definately play again.

Samurai
Played a three player game of this one. Enjoyed it and am considering adding this one to my collection as it plays fast, easy to teach and has enough depth to keep my interest.

Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943
Very good game that I played with four people. I think I would like this one even more with two. Hopefully I will be able to see if that is true soon.

Britannia
Many different factions coming and going thoughout the game make it very interesting. I played red and won with a score of 289. I would definitely
play it again.

Saint Petersburg
A good game. On the light side. I made the mistake of not taking the Aristocrats value seriously enough and lost by a few points after leading the whole game.

Alien Frontiers
I played a two person game. I think this one is prone to Analaysis Paralysis. I enjoyed it but I worry if I play with anyone who trys to figure out every single combination in order to pick which one is the best this game could grind to a halt. Not one I would rush to play again.

Letters from Whitechapel
I played this one with six people four times. Twice we caught Jack and twice he got away. It's an OK game but not a game that I would pick to play. I haven't been Jack yet though and I am sure being Jack would be much more exciting.

Colosseum
I played a three player game of this one. Interesting mechanic that you only count your best score. I lost on the last turn by a couple of points. I would probably play again but not one I would look for.


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49. Board Game: 1846 [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:1120]
Ben
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
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A Big Month for Sevens
or "Why can't you be happy for me, and then go home and talk about me behind my back like a normal person?"

Personal Stuff (feel free to skip this part): I'll likely edit some stuff in later. For now, I'll just say that it's been a great month of gaming overall, including far more new-to-me games that I had intended. Although several of them ended up as sevens (and I played a ludicrous number of sevens overall), I hope readers will remember that I consider sevens to be rather exceptional games, as I hope my Overall Ranks will convey (out of 118 games that I've ranked).


Games With A _7_ Rating (Good Game):
Examples of this category: At the Gates of Loyang, Parade, Samurai, & The Princes of Florence.

1846 (Overall Ranking: #29)
1 play. 4 players.

1846 was my first-ever foray into the seedy underbelly of our hobby known as 18xx. Interestingly, the game systems were not nearly as opaque as I had so long imagined (by contrast, I couldn't have been worse at Imperial 2030 if I had played blindfolded), and the experience was therefore largely a much more enjoyable one than I expected such a first play to be. Two others at the table were also new, so this particular session floundered in the places one might expect: the three of us invested almost exclusively in our own companies, withheld too much in dividends, and made several poor train-purchasing decisions.

Our fourth player (and game teacher) was the venerable
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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He promptly whooped up on the rest of us.

I started my company (Erie) at a low share value and promptly drove it into the ground trying to generate enough income to keep up with the train rush. I actually turned it around quite quickly after that, but only to see the low-priced shares gobbled up by the other players at the table. At that point, I probably should have floated another company at a high par value, sold Erie's rolling stock for peanuts and dumped the company on the second-leading shareholder rather than bother to take it out of bankruptcy. Instead, I bought into Eric's uber-profitable company, but at far too high a price.

We actually ended the session early because one player went bankrupt (not me!) and another gamer had arrived late and so was just watching. Consequently, I wasn't able to see the implications of each of my decisions through to the end, which might have helped with the learning experience, but I still think we played enough for me to be able to make an initial appraisal. And it's a positive one, for sure.

I appreciate that 1846 is a shorter 18xx, and it seemed well suited to serve as an introductory for the three of us. In particular, the private company draft is likely more protective of new players than an opening auction, and the cost for laying track helped ground the game in familiar territory for those of us who have played train games before.

I would really like to play this game (or a similar 18xx) again. Enough so, in fact, that I almost shelled out the $100 for a copy of Steam over Holland from Boards&Bits. As noted, I found the gameplay much more intuitive than any of Mac Gerdts's offerings, but perhaps that was because shares weren't as fluid and control changes never occurred. And, as far as I'm concerned, the game's downsides were few. Finding the most profitable routes on the crowded board was something of an annoyance, certain to get worse as the game progressed (at one point, I had three 2-Trains and a 4/6. The permutations nearly killed me). Also, the change in board state between operating rounds was significant enough to make me tune out of the game until the turn of whichever company was right before mine. But perhaps I should just view this as a lesson in the value of turn order (early on, I would too often plan my build, find my route, and choose a dividend strategy based on my train needs, only to have an earlier company in turn order take my spot, interrupt my route, and buy the last train).

Aside from those minor niggles, I have no doubt that a second play of this would push it into my personal Top 25.


Amun-Re (Overall Ranking: #32)
1 play.
5 players.


In many respects, Amun-Re reminds me of The Princes of Florence. It is an expertly designed game, but one that is poorly produced and heavily group dependent.

On the production side of things, I generally dislike plastic components. I don't like the size of the brick tokens and I find the two-pyramid tokens confusing and needless. I find some of the symbols ugly or confusing (such as the power card symbols or many of the power cards themselves). In general, I just feel like everything could have been much more attractive and user-friendly with additional effort. (For Princes of Florence my complaints are purely artistic, and even that is growing on me.)

More problematic for me is that Amun-Re appears so heavily dependent upon a particular player count and an experienced table that I'm not sure where it goes from here. I am fairly conident that I wouldn't enjoy the game without the certainty that every province will be available for auction every game (which is my understanding of how the game operates with lower player counts). There is already considerable randomness working against players' ability to employ long-term strategies, the added risk/reward tradeoff of randomized territories isn't something that much appeals to me.

Similarly, experience seems critical. I rarely know what to think about games like this. This particular session, for example, included several players inexperienced with the system (myself included). That resulted in some bad decisions -- including an ill-advised last-turn gambit that effectively handed the game to a player who wouldn't have won otherwise. I suspect I would have to suffer through mediocre play after mediocre play before I ever developed a reliable, experienced group with whom the game could truly shine. This is as much a function as my personal gaming circumstances as it is a consequence of the game's design, so I hate to hold it against the game.

However, at that point I could imagine a game like Amun-Re being a Top 10 game for me. (By like token, Poker is one of my all-time favorite games, but only when played against suitable competition; it's no fun to beat up on unwitting co-workers for their $5 buy-in.) I just don't have a particular desire to put forth the time and energy at this point to help manufacture the circumstances that might coax a 9 rating out of this one. Amun-Re is one that is quite obviously brilliant, but I already own other games that shine with my current group and player count. C'est la vie.


Taj Mahal (Overall Ranking: #34)
1 play. 5 players.

Taj Mahal is a great example of why I should record my thoughts on games immediately after playing them. I'll need to try to conjure up some memories and edit this post. What I recall is that I enjoyed the heck out of this game at the time that I played it, but that sense of enjoyment faded quickly after.

The "auctions" were interesting and tense throughout. In fact, one of the greatest joys I take from games is a slow tense burn, and Taj Mahal had that with every single card. Also, the game nicely allows some long-term strategic planning right from the outset. I developed a strategy that I was able to (almost) implement before the first card was played.

But once we were done, I was much less interested in revisiting and exploring it than I had been with other recent games of its caliber. I think the hand-managment aspect of the game was ultimately less interesting than I had hoped, especially given the final scoring of cards remaining in hand. At times, I simply felt that I lacked sufficient control of my own destinies because it was too hard to accumulate the right cards and symbols. Even if I could accumulate enough cards with the same symbols in the same colors to feel that I could ensure a win in any single category, the cost of actually effecting the win would be prohibitive relative to the gain. More often, it seemed that the best outcome was playing a single random card and hoping that no one else would play the same card. I'm sure there is much more to it than that, but I'll need to play again before I can really remember why I had so much fun at the time.

As a sidenote, it was much more attractive and well-produced than the box cover would have led me to believe. This might be the ugliest box in the alea catalogue.



Games With A _6_ Rating (Above-Average Game):
Examples of this category: Race for the Galaxy, Maria, First Train to Nuremberg, & Peloponnes

Inotaizu (Overall Rank: #48)
2 plays. 3 & 4 players.

Inotaizu is a small-publisher game that I'm sure most of you are not even passingly familiar with, unless you recognize it by its reprint name Kaigan (although I really wish it were the other way around). The game has a lot going for it, rightfully highlighted by the cardplay that forms the core of the game: Players take turns adding action cards to empty spaces in a common display, and then, when satisfied, lock in a row of actions that they will perform that round. One might think of it as a communal programming game. This much, I openly and unabashedly loved. kiss

Effecting the actions, however, I found to be a little less satisfying. The cards are used to either advance along one of three tracks which provide both income and victory points, or to engage in a mini area-influence game by placing cubes on a number of available tiles. The tile play is a bit like the event cards in Troyes: when the tile fills up, it is scored and everyone who contributed a cube benefits in some way. On the first play, I found the tile scoring a little flatter than I would like. In our four player game, the benefit to having more than one cube is slight (and the cost of adding cubes quickly is high) because almost every tile filled up. Consequently, all players were accumulating points at roughly the same speed, which led to a game that felt artificially tight. (In the three player game, we all focused a little more on scoring our own tiles, and yet we ended up even closer -- effectively, we all three tied; this is particularly unsettling to my sensibilities.)

Most of the action cards have a few different choices (and all cards have at least one default alternative choice), which allows players some flexibility regardless of which row of actions they claim. However, the actions themselves are all very arbitrary, and are explainable only in terms of the game mechanics (rather than theme). Choices include "pay X to add two cubes to one tile" or "pay Y to move one space on any one track." This is something I would normally howl about in a Feld game, so I can't give Inotaizu a free pass here. That abstraction made the first two plays more taxing than I would have liked, as we all tried to process the actions and appraise the value of various options. As a consequence, the game also dragged at times as the players at our table struggled to grasp all the implications of the system.

Overall, I enjoyed Inotaizu, but not as much as I had anticipated. The good news is that it ranks solidly above average at the moment - roughly on par with Magnum Sal, my highest-rated previously owned game. The bad news is implicit in that last sentence. I think the game has the potential to get better with more plays and experienced players, but ultimately there were fewer tense moments or clever decision points in effecting actions than I would have expected given the brilliance of the game's core mechanic.



Games With A _5_ Rating (Perfectly Average Game):
Examples of this category: 7 Wonders, Alien Frontiers, Blokus, & Ticket to Ride.

Black Friday (Overall Rank: #64)
1 play. 5 players.

Black Friday is the latest offering from Power Grid designer Friedemann Friese. The game bills itself as a stock market simulation in which players purchase shares in various industries and then attempt to time their escape just before the inflationary bubble inevitably bursts. One play is likely far-too-few on which to evaluate this title, but I'm inclined to think that the rating is more likely to move down than up. The game itself is innocent enough - buy colored wooden "shares" at designated prices, wait for the market to go up, then sell out and invest in reliable silver. On our first game, there did seem to be only one dominant strategy (buy low until you can't afford to), but the game retained a number of moderately interesting minor tactical decisions involving share choice and sale timing. The final verdict will depend on whether the game's interesting bits are simply overwhelmed by the large doses of randomness that permeate the game. I don't expect it to ever be a game in which the players feel in control, but perhaps that is in keeping with the stock market simulation theme. Still, what decisions remain must be meaningful enough to make the thing worth playing. At the moment, they appear to be (if only just), but there is simply no way to truly appraise the game's nuances without seeing the randomness play out over multiple sessions. It's simply one of those kinds of games.


In this category, I also played two new filler games: High Society and Masters Gallery. I don't have much to say about them. I loved them (the former more than the latter), but I don't really play filler. Hell, I don't really enjoy Race for the Galaxy in part because it's too filler-ish.




Games With A _4_ Rating (Below-Average Game):
Examples of this category: 1960: The Making of the President, Ascension: Deckbuilding Game, Caledea: The Epic Strategy Game, & Pretty Much Anything With A Colon In The Title: The Board Game.

Magestorm (Overall Rank: #71)
1 play. 2 players.

Magestorm is Nexus's scenario-based tactical wargame set in some Fantasy Flight-esque generic alternate fantasy world. According to the story, players are mercenary mages who agree to harness the powers of the elements in support of one of two clashing armies flighting over some mystical land.

While the theme is a bit of a turn-off to me (if only because it refuses to acknowledge just how cliche' it is), the game actually includes some pretty cool additions to the standard Memoir '44-style entry-level wargame. First, players can constitute their units with individual soldiers and arrange them into front and rear lines. Thus, players aren't simply reduced to a tank unit or an infantry unit -- they can have a single unit with some spear-bearers in front, followed by calvary and archers in the rear. Second, the game does away with Memoir's card-driven system, and instead provides players action points to set objectives that the troops must then pursue. This was particularly cool, as the objective markers allow your opponent to know the general direction (and thus the plan) of your units.

Most of the novelties, however, were overwhelmed by a combat system that seemed to reward fighting in the largest-possible units. The first scenario determined victory by the number of troops eliminated, so it seemed to reduce the entire game to one or two "epic" battled between large stacked units. Perhaps this is appealing to fans of the fantasy genre who visualize warfare as little more than wave after wave of individual troops charging haphazardly across an open field to crash violently into whomever they first encounter. But if that's the goal, why bother with the board and terrain and the clever objectives at all? Perhaps there is more to future scenarios, but the game seemed to remove all the tactical maneuvering out of tactical warfare in favor of a stand-and-roll-well bloodbath. Ultimately, a disappointing implementation of some ideas that I otherwise very much admired.


meeple
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50. Board Game: Yomi [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:424] [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked]
Ryan Olson
United States
Topeka
Kansas
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A good month for me.

I picked up this one as a Fathers Day gift (early I know, but the FLGS is 30 miles away,and I wasn't sure when I'd get there again. Plus this was in stock...).

I've only played it 4 times, but it is a ton of fun. Plus my kids really like it too. Probably better for them than the CCG games they have been playing, and it fits with my recent LCG kick. A good game, that will get many plays over time...

I also picked up Fresco. I had a coupon, a membership discount, and it was on sale at Barnes & Noble. Played it with the kids once, and it was a fun game. For some reason it reminds me of Stone Age, which is a game our family enjoys.

Also played Survive: Escape from Atlantis!. I watched my wife play it last month and enjoy it, so we ordered a copy. I played it with the kids a couple weeks ago. A good family game, although odd for a family game with so much screwage .

Finally got to try Tinners' Trail. Not high on my want list anymore, but one I want to play again. It was a good game, just not quite what I was hoping for.

Lastly, I played Infinite City, which I really didn't like. I don't mind a bit of chaos in a game, but I also like to feel like I have a little control, and I didn't feel that at all in my 2 plays...

A fun month for the family. We've started playing regularly together and with a group, so I look forward to more new games again .
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