Me and my Knizia
Kane Klenko
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Reiner Knizia is easily my favorite game designer. I’m simply amazed at his high quantity and quality of game output every single year. If a new game is coming out and it has the name Reiner Knizia on the box, you can bet that I’ll be taking a look at it. I’ve at least learned that much in the past 2+ years of gaming.

Knizia gets ripped on a lot for having slapped on themes in his games. I don’t see it. Sure, some of his games have slapped on themes (Spy, Atlanteon), but he also has very thematic games (Lord of the Rings, Modern Art, Through the Desert (yup)). All German games and designers are like this. Have you ever played a Leo Colovini game? What is Carolus Magnus about again? Bridges of Shangri-La? Why are the masters teaching their students the ways of the pencil sharpener and then blowing up bridges? Wolfgang Kramer? Why doesn’t the chief like colored Pueblos again? Martin Wallace? So it’s a good thing when our train companies drive all over the country to deliver goods next door? Alan Moon? So, you build your tall buildings and *then* you move them into the city? Anyway, I think you get my point. Yes, Knizia has some slapped on themes, but he’s no worse than any other designer. It’s just that he puts out a lot more games than anyone else so you notice it more.

This is simply a list of all of the Knizia games I’ve played and what I think of them. I was going to wait until I got a chance to play Taj Mahal and the new ones like Tower of Babel and Palazzo, but then I realized that if I ever waited to catch up, I’d never make the list. He just makes too many games. So, I’ll update it as I play things.

I’m going to sort this list by rank so that if I add anything down the road, the order won’t be some funky mish-mosh. (Note to self: Funky Mish-Mosh would be a good name for a band)

Feel free to comment. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of disagreement.
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1. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:33]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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What can be said about T&E that hasn’t been said already? Well, I guess I can say whatever I want since it’s my list and all. I love T&E. I hate T&E. I rate it a solid 9+ but I stink at it. Then again, sometimes I’m pretty good at it. I’ve had my share of wins, but overall I’m a big T&E loser. When my turn is about to come around I always feel like “OK, this move will either destroy the opposition and seal my victory, or it will completely crush me and leave me with no hope for winning.” I don’t know what it is. I can have some really good games of T&E where my strategy really seems to work and I pull off some great conflicts, but the next game no matter what I try will fail. Of all of my games, this is probably the one that makes me the most tense, and that’s why I love it. I’m just constantly nervous about what will happen next and riveted the entire time. This game haunts me in my sleep.
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2. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:89]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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Does Uberplay just like to taunt me? I’ve been waiting for this game forever and it just keeps getting pushed back farther and farther from my grubby little hands. I’ve played Ra once in person and once on BSW. Once I’ve played this a few more times I could easily see this becoming my favorite game. I love everything about it. Other than the auction system in Amun-Re, this is the best auction game I’ve ever played. Knowing when to call Ra based on the sun tiles you have seems to be the key, but hey, what do I know? I’ve only played twice. I’ll update this someday when I finally get a copy.
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3. Board Game: Samurai [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:123]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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I’ve read comments that Samurai suffers from the ‘boxes game’ syndrome. The little pen & paper game where you connect dots and you score when you make a box….you never want to be the person who draws the 3rd line in the box. I can see where people might think that from reading the rules, but in practice I don’t think it’s actually the case. The layout of the board, the scoring system and the random hand of different types of tiles insure that it’s not all that simple. You have to choose your battles wisely and manage your tiles to have any hope of getting a winning score. Like many Knizia games, the scoring system is a little odd, but it’s perfect for the game; giving it direction and making the game tense.
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4. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:128]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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I’ve only played Battle Line once. I played it again with my Sticheln deck just to show my wife how it worked. I absolutely loved it. The turn angst, for me, was very high. There were so many things I wanted to do. All of them seemed good, but at the same time all of them seemed like I should wait for something better. The tactics cards add a lot in my opinion and I wouldn’t want to play without them. I especially liked that it wasn’t a tactic card free-for-all. Knizia put in some very specific rules to govern them and I think they added a lot of strategy and tension even though at the same time they add some randomness.
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5. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:169]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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I know this game catches a lot of flak because of the supposed high luck level of the Power Cards, but I just don’t see it. Sure there’s some luck in which cards you get, but I find that this luck level is much less than in a game like Tigris & Euphrates which is Knizia’s highest ranked game. If you’re going to draw a lot of Power Cards towards the end of the game, then it’s your own fault if you get cards you can’t use. The Power Cards are such that you should do the majority of your buying early in the game (or early in the New Kingdom) so that you can focus your province buying strategy around the scoring cards. There are plenty of good Power Cards that can be used at any time in the game too, so it’s not like every card you buy is gonna be a bust. Plus, Knizia gives us the option to sell back unwanted Power Cards at any time! I guess I don’t see the problem.

OK, enough about the Power Cards. Amun-Re is an excellent game. One that I would rate a 10/10. The auction is the coolest one I’ve seen in any game, pure auction game or otherwise. (I’ve never played Goa, but that sounds good too). I think I like that the auction is more visual instead of just adding money to the table. You can see right in front of you what your bidding options are and what you’ll get in return. The way the various phases all intertwine is great and reminds me a little of Power Grid, only better. Which province you buy will affect which items you can buy, which items you buy will determine your score and how much money you’ll make, how you bid in the sacrifice will determine how valuable the things you bought are and how many free items you’ll get thus determining what you can do in the next round. A great game that keeps me engrossed the entire time.

It plays best with 5, but I enjoy a 4 player game also. I’ve never played with 3 and I’m not sure I’d want to.
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6. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:178]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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This is one of those that I don’t really know what to say yet. I’ve played it in person twice and liked it, but got my butt kicked. I’ve played probably 10-15 online against the computer and came in 3rd (out of 4) twice and the rest of the time had my butt kicked. Now, when I say I got my butt kicked I’m not saying that the scores were 502,483,462,435. I’m saying scores like 582, 536, 502, 285. Yup, the 285 is me. I suck at this game. I think I’d be a little better in a face to face game (although my wife will always take 1st place), but I’m just no good at this one. I enjoy it, I’m happy to play it, I bought my own copy and I’m eager to play again, but I have a long way to go before I feel competent at it. Oh, and don’t even recommend the strategy articles here on the Geek. I’ve read ‘em, I’ve thought during games “Hey, I’m doing pretty good. I wonder if I’ll pull out the win this time?”. Game ends. 550, 528, 500, 356. Well, it’s a little better anyway.
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7. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:183]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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This was my “Holy Grail” game for a long time. It was always at the top of my want list, yet I’d never played it and never had a chance to buy it at a decent price. Well, a week or so ago I finally got a copy. There it sits, taunting me, waiting for 3 more players to join me. I’ve played it online a few times, winning handily my first time and then getting crushed the remaining times. I can’t wait to see how this plays out face to face where you can bluff your opponents and talk some smack to scare them away. I’ll update this one once I’ve played it in person.
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8. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:210]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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When I first picked this up I was thinking it might be a nice little filler, but nothing more. The first couple of times I played it I thought it was a nice little filler, but nothing more. Then I got defensive. I suppose this could be played as a happy-go-lucky little filler where everyone just goes for their colors and plays nice, but the game really shines when you start blocking the other players and playing nasty. The T&E scoring (lowest color is your score) is put to great use here and there are 6 different colors you need to balance, so it’s not an easy task. Giving players a free turn when they max out a color makes them *want* to just focus on one or two colors, but that’s a surefire way to lose. The board changes size depending on the number of players so it scales well from 2-4 players without losing any of the tension. I have yet to play the 4 player partnership game, but I’m itchin’ to, so I’ll update this once I do. If you’re looking for a great game that plays in around 30 minutes and still has a decent amount of depth to it, then pick up Ingenious (and Through the Desert).
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9. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:260]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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LotR: The Confrontation is a game I was unsure about for a long time. I originally bought it for my brother for Christmas and played his copy with him several times. I really liked it and had fun every time I played it, but for some reason I didn’t feel the need to own it. Odd, I know. About a year later I had a credit at a local store and decided to pick it up. Since then I’ve played it several more times and I’m glad I decided to finally buy it. I think it’s one of those games that gets better and better every time you play it. I suppose a lot of games with special character powers are like that. The more you know about your characters and your opposing characters, the better you can plan and the better you can bluff.

I think that LotR: The Confrontation is a great little game that would appeal to anyone (especially a fan of the theme), but it really hits the mark when played by 2 players who have played it a few times. It’s hard to really plan and bluff and figure out your opponents plans and bluffs when they really don’t know what they’re doing. It comes down to more hoping and randomness with new players instead of the psychological battle that it becomes with experienced players. I think that became most evident to me when I was teaching a guy at work this game. I explained the rules and some basic strategies and he said, “Well, I don’t know what I’m doing, so I’m just gonna plop these all down randomly and see what happens”. Well, I had no idea how to place my pieces then. I couldn’t plan for his moves or what he might do, I just had to hope I had the right guys in the right places.

This isn’t a criticism of the game at all. In fact, it’s more of an endorsement. If you play LotR: tC and it just seems like a random variant of Stratego, then play it a few more times…ideally against the same opponent. The more you play, the deeper the game becomes and the more fun you’ll have.

I like playing both sides, but I usually am a lot more tense when I play the Fellowship. Trying to sneak Frodo into Mordor is always nail biting fun.
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10. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:258]
 
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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Lost Cities was one of the first games I ever bought. I liked it fine, but didn’t know what all the fuss was about. My wife liked it a lot more than I did (even though it was the one game I could beat her in consistently). Well, it’s grown on me. It’s still not one of my favorites, but I’ll suggest it from time to time and it’s always fun when we play. As long as you play it as a light game, knowing that you’ll get screwed by the cards sometimes, it’s a lot of fun. A lot of angst for such a simple little game.
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11. Board Game: Through the Desert [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:308]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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Wow. This is a great game. It plays in less than 30 minutes (usually), scales well from 2-5 players, has great bits, and is a lot of fun despite actually being fairly deep. I’ve had a lot of luck introducing people to German games with Through the Desert. There’s just something about it that draws people in. That’s surprising to me too since it really is a pretty confrontational game.

If you don’t own this game, stop reading this list right now and go order a copy for yourself.

I said stop reading.
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12. Board Game: Medici [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:338]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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OK, here’s where I get clubbed in the head by my fellow geeks. I bought Medici. I played Medici. I thought, “Huh, that wasn’t much fun. I’ll give it another try someday”. I played it again. I thought, “Huh, that wasn’t much fun. I wonder what I could trade it for?”. I think my issue with Medici was that I usually filled my boat fairly early with the cards I needed. This left me with 10-15 minutes to sit around and do nothing. Maybe I played it poorly, maybe I’d like it better if I gave it another chance, maybe I’m just a big goober for not liking this one, but whatever the case, I don’t miss it (much).

I think both of those games were with 6 players. Could that be my problem?
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13. Board Game: Blue Moon City [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:356]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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The general consensus I seem to feel from people around here is that Knizia is slipping a bit. His newer games usually get very average to poor reviews (Beowulf, Palazzo, Tower of Babel). I know that a lot of people like these games too, but the vocal majority seems to like to bash them. Personally, these newer Knizias are some of my favorites and this is no more true than with Blue Moon City.

Blue Moon City is an area majority game, but it really doesn’t feel like one since the bonus for having a majority in an area is usually pretty small. In general you just need to be a part of as many tile builds as possible. The trick is knowing where to focus your efforts, and since adjacent completed buildings give you extra bonuses, finagling the order that the tiles are built becomes important.

You move your dude around the board, spend cards to make contributions to the tiles, and earn crystals and dragon scales for your effort. The dragon scales are a cool little side game which net varying amounts of crystals, and crystals are the heart of the game. You need to earn crystals in order to make contributions to the obelisk, and a certain number of obeliskian™ contributions will win you the game.

Well, all of that is just fine and a game like that would probably earn a 6 or 7 from me. What really makes the game, and also makes it feel like a Blue Moon game, is the card powers. Each of the peoples of the Blue Moon world is represented on the cards and they each have a special power. Some move the dragons around on the board (which get you the dragon scales), some let you fly your dude around the board, some let you change colors of cards, some are wild cards…all very useful. It’s the duel nature of these cards that really makes the game great and tense. The cards can be used to make contributions to the tiles or you can discard them in order to use their special powers. You only get to draw a limited number of cards at the end of your turn though, so burning through too many cards for their powers can hinder your progress quickly. I didn’t notice it right away, but my wife said that it had the same type of angst that San Juan does. You have a handful of cards, all of them are good, all of them have two different uses, and you have to balance how you’re going to use the. For me it’s even more prevalent in BM City (sounds like a lovely place to visit) since every card is useful in 2 ways. In San Juan there are always cards I’m fine with dumping off as money, but in BMC you’re more likely to need them all.

So, Blue Moon City is highly recommended. After all that maybe I should just write a review. After just a few plays this game is already in my top 10, probably top 5, and possibly top 3. Knizia just keeps getting better and better.
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14. Board Game: Dream Factory [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:358]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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Well, I finally got a hold of it. For years I've been hearing how any true fan of Knizia just HAD to have Traumfabrik. Well, I have it now. Are you happy?

I've played a few times so far and I really like it. For me it's not a top-tier Knizia, but I like how accessible it is to non-gamers. It's a good game to introduce people to the auction genre of gaming since the contracts are much easier to deal with than various currencies with wacky rules. The payment splits are clever and add a nice touch to the strategy in the game.

Personally I think that the gameplay stands well on its own and the theme is just a nice touch. I know some people like Traumfabrik simply for the interesting theme, but there's much more to this game than just window dressing.
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15. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:362]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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I am not a Carcassonne hater. Carc was one of the first games I bought and it was great fun back then. After awhile it kind of got old as I discovered more and more games. I’ll still play it on occasion and enjoy it, but unless I’m introducing someone new to these games, I’ll never choose it as the next game to play. That said, I WOULD choose to play Carcassonne: The Castle when choosing a 2 player game. The changes that the good doctor made to the game may seem trivial, but for me, they elevate a good game to a great game. The reduced luck in the tile draw, the enclosed area in which to build, the wall tiles that give you bonuses if you score just the right number of points, the simplified “farmer” scoring, the keep….all make Carcassonne: The Castle an excellent game.
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16. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:481]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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I’m gonna give you my whole life story regarding Lord of the Rings. Lucky you. When the movies came out I knew absolutely nothing about the story. I didn’t know it was fantasy, I didn’t know any of the characters, I knew nothing. Lord of the Rings? Isn’t that about some boys trapped on an island or something? Ah well…I’m not interested. A while later we were visiting some friends out of town and it just happened to be the same week that Fellowship of the Ring was released on DVD. The male half of our friends is a huge LotR fan and bought it the day it was released. He was excited to watch it so we all agreed to watch it that night. The movie started and it was not at all what I was expecting. The movie intrigued me, but half the time I had no idea what was going on. Not that the story is that complex; it’s just that there were so many weird names being thrown around that most of the time I didn’t know what anyone was talking about. I liked it ok, but I wasn’t hooked. When The Two Towers came out in the theatre my brother in law really wanted to go see it. I agreed to go, but I had never re-watched FotR so I was still fairly lost. This time they threw in all new characters and locations (ok, who are Faramir, Eowyn, and Theoden and where is Rohan and why do I care?) and again I thought the movie was entertaining, but I wasn’t hooked. When Return of the King came out, I didn’t care. I never saw it.
Fly forward in time a couple of years and I’m big into gaming. Reiner Knizia is my favorite designer and I keep hearing about his Lord of the Rings game and how unique it is. I’m interested in it, but it’s a definite try before I buy. We’re off visiting those same friends again and I have a load of games with me (which we played all of) and I see in their games closet that they have Knizia’s LotR. A family member knew he was a big LotR fan and saw it in a store and got it for him for Christmas. We break it out and play it that night and I’m impressed. It was MUCH better than I was expecting from just reading the rules. It sounded like…”Flip this tile, draw these cards, roll this die…” just a lot of random mess with no control. Well, sure there’s randomness, but that’s what makes the game entertaining over and over again. The cooperative element is unique and works well and I’ve enjoyed this game every time I’ve played it. I just got the Friends & Foes expansion too, so we’ll see how that goes over.

Oh, and after playing this game a few times (along with The Confrontation), I became interested in the movies and books. I knew the characters names now and how it all fit together. I now own all of the extended edition DVDs (am currently watching disc 11 of 12) and have started reading the books (I’m half way through the Two Towers).

I know I didn’t say a whole lot about why I like the game, but I’m ready to move onto the next game now….
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17. Board Game: Winner's Circle [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:490]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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I’ve only played this once and I thought it was fun. My wife thought it was dumb and too random. It was awhile ago, but I think we played with all of the bets face up with no bluffing. I’m guessing it’s better with face down bets? I’ll definitely pick up Winner’s Circle when it comes out.
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18. Board Game: Colossal Arena [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:527]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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When Titan: The Arena was out of print and selling for many dollars I would read comments saying that this was Knizias greatest game ever. “Ha!” I’d say to nobody in particular. “Crazy people rating a card game higher than Through the Desert, Tigris & Euphrates, Amun-Re…”. “Ha!” Well, I must admit, I mostly agree. While it’s hard for me to pick an absolute favorite, Colossal Arena (the reprint) is one of my favorite games and is certainly on par with those bigger boxed games.

The special powers are great and add a lot, but for me the real tension is in the basic card play and the bidding. Knowing when to increase power on your creatures and when to decrease power on your opponents is key. If you do either one of them at the wrong time, you’re doomed.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Colossal Arena truly is one of Knizias best games, and it is certainly my favorite multi-player card game.
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19. Board Game: Blue Moon [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:589]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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Ah, Blue Moon. When this game came out I didn’t pay much attention. I’m generally not into the fantasy artwork and themes and everyone said how this was Knizia’s take on CCGs. Well, I’ve never been into CCGs and it looked like just another simple 2 player card game. I already had Lost Cities and some others…I didn’t need another.

Well, then I played it. I played the basic set (Hoax vs. Vulca) and thought it was interesting. Nothing at all like Lost Cities (not that Lost Cities isn’t interesting). It was a nice simple game for 2 players and the artwork was pretty nice too. I played a few more times and thought it would be something I might like to get someday. I ended up getting it for Christmas along with the expansion decks that were available then (Flit, Mimix, Khind, Terrah). Well, long story short (er), Blue Moon is by far the most played game in my collection and quite possibly my favorite game ever. Every deck is completely different from the next, but they’re all perfectly balanced against each other. Blue Moon is fun with just the Hoax and Vulca, but it’s not really a complete game in my mind. Once you have all of the decks it’s fun to just sit down with a new deck every time or to keep playing the same ones over and over to try to master them. It keeps the game fresh and interesting every time.

Blue Moon is easily my favorite 2 player game, but I might even go so far as to say that it’s my favorite game overall. That’s scary considering I haven’t even ventured into deck building yet which, I’m sure, will make it even better.

I can see why people wouldn’t like this much if they just played it once or twice and then gave up on it. The subtleties of the game really become clear once you know a little bit about the cards in each deck and the styles of play they each require. If you’ve played this a couple of times and thought, “Eh, it was OK”, then I’d recommend pulling it out again and playing a few games in a row.
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20. Board Game: High Society [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:607]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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High Society is a game that sounded like fun to me so I bought it. I played it a couple of times, it was OK, but nobody else I played it with really liked it. I traded it. I kept seeing it on “The Greatest Games On The Face Of The Earth!” lists, so I decided to try it again. This IS a great little game. For a 15 minute filler, High Society packs a lot of punch. The variable game ending offers just the right amount of tension, the “least money loses” rule insures that nobody just throws their money around, the bad tiles make you save money that you’d rather spend on something right now, and the quick playing time all make this one of my favorite fillers. I’m glad I gave it a second chance.
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21. Board Game: Stephensons Rocket [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:662]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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I finally got to play this recently and I must say, I was impressed. Zero luck (not that I’m a luck hater or anything), 2 actions per turn when you NEED to do more, multiple ways to score, and plays in around an hour. I’ve played Acquire and Union Pacific, but I must say that I like Stephensons Rocket more. When I first read the rules I thought that this was going to be an extremely confusing game where nobody knew what to do and nobody could remember how to score points. The fact is, once you start playing it all makes sense and is really quite simple. Learning the game is simple anyway, playing it well is another matter. There are so many choices available to you on your turn that it can be hard to know what to do. Despite that, for some reason, I’ve never seen Stephensons Rocket bog down in analysis paralysis. It moves along fairly quickly and only takes around an hour to play.

I like the Veto round and how you can choose to pay some of your stocks to redirect the trains. You lose power in your stocks in order to gain power in the stations (usually that’s why you’d redirect from what I’ve seen). It’s a brilliant design that I’m sure will take me a long time to fully feel comfortable with. So far I’ve only played 2 and 3 player games, but it works great with both.

I’m curious to see how the new Rio Grande version with the US map will work, and which rules Knizia has decided to tweak.
 
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22. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:778]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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Ten years after the release of the MegaHit Ra, Knizia releases two new takes on the game. Ra: The Dice Game and Priests of Ra.

Priests of Ra maintains the same basic mechanics of Ra, but changes up the scoring. Ra: The Dice Game takes the same basic scoring in Ra, but changes up the rest of the game.

On your turn you roll the different colored dice and like many many dice games out there you lock some and re-roll some. You can roll up to three times and by then all of your dice must be allocated. You're trying to score point over the three rounds for Pharaohs, Niles, Civilizations, and Monuments.

Ra: The Dice Game has been a huge hit around here and has become my favorite dice game. Definitely recommended.
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23. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:850]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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I didn't grow up with Tetris. I don't know why...I just never had it as a kid. I do have the newer DS version though, and think it's a great game. So, I didn't go into Fits with the Tetris nostalgia, and at first I wasn't interested in trying it. Well, it's a Knizia, so I kinda had to try it, didn't I?

Fits is a simple Tetris-like board game. Each player has their board and a set of the same Tetrisy tiles. Each turn a card is flipped up and each player must play the matching tile onto their board. Play through all of the tiles and then score. Four rounds are played and each round has a different board with different scoring happening. Some spaces on the boards you want to keep uncovered and some you need to cover.

It's a simple game that can be learned in seconds, and has been a hit with everyone I've played it with.
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24. Board Game: Tower of Babel [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:872]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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When Tower of Babel was first announced, I was very excited. People were saying it was Knizia newest gamers-game; his first since 2003s Amun-Re. Well, I've never played a heavy Knizia that I didn't love, so this was excellent news. A few months later the reviews started to trickle in. 'Lightweight','Dry and boring', 'Knizia has lost it', 'uninspired', 'unoriginal', 'below average'...needless to say, I was disappointed. This was my most anticipated game and it was getting ripped apart by just about everyone that played it.

Finally the rules were posted to BGG. I read through them and thought, "How can people say this is unoriginal? Sure there's some area majority, but the whole basic system of the game is something I've never seen before". Sure it didn't look like the next T&E, but that didn't bother me. It looked like a good game with some new twists. As the weeks and months went by, the reviews started to get a little better. My assumption is that people went into the game now expecting to be disappointed instead of going into it expecting an epic game that would melt their brains, and they were pleasantly surprised.

Chris Farrell is a fellow Knizia fan who has written some great comments and lists about Knizia games. He rated Tower of Babel a 9 and has since raised it to a 10/10. That was enough to finally convince me to pick it up (actually I would have earlier, but I haven't placed any game orders in awhile).

Tower of Babel came in the mail yesterday and I just got through playing a 3 player game. Everyone was new to the game and everyone really liked it. It's really a psychological game at its core. Trying to figure out what everyone will offer and how much you think you can get away with. The fact that accepted offers gain you placement on a wonder that will score later, and rejected offers score you immediate points (as well as letting you keep your cards) is genius and makes for a very tense game. There are a lot of choices to make as far as what wonder to try to build, which disks to choose, what to offer, what to accept and reject, when to go for area majority and when to just take the 3 base points, when to end the game....

No, Tower of Babel is not the next T&E or Taj Mahal, but it is a great game that I'm very happy that I finally picked up. Like a lot of Knizia games, the strategies might be hidden at first. It's a very subtle game that might seem either random or overwhelming at first, but it's one that makes me want to think about it the rest of the day and try to come up with some good strategies. That's a good sign. I'm not ready to rate it yet after only 1 play, but it will definitely not be any less than an 8 for me. I'm sure it will end up even higher than that with repeated plays.

As a side note, I really like the artwork and the color choices. The board is very subdued, but the player pieces are brightly colored and stand out well. The cards and disks have nice artwork, and overall I feel that it's just a nice production.

I'll update this as I play it more...
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25. Board Game: Pickomino [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:902]
Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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I don’t own Pickomino, but I’ve played it a couple of times. It’s a fun little dice game that I wouldn’t mind owning someday. I have 2 main problems with it though: 1. It seems like it would be a great game to break out when you have a lot of non-gamers hanging around. The problem is that down time gets to be a bit much and it’s probably a better game with less people.
2. The price. Yes, it’s all high quality and the tiles are great, but the game itself isn’t really worth $15 to me. It’s not terrible though…certainly not as crazy as Diamant.

Good game if you’re looking for a nice little filler and you like to roll dice. Not as good as Can’t Stop, but still a lot of fun in a tiny little box.
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