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Level 20

Martin G
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 Level 20 BGG poster

From gallery of qwertymartin
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Thu Jan 14, 2021 11:27 am
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New to me in 2020 - the top 10

Martin G
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1.  9   My City x43

I only got this in July and I've played it 43 times, so it's an easy pick. I've been doing two separate 2p campaigns, one with my wife which we just completed on New Years Eve and one with a gaming friend. They've both been hugely enjoyable.

I love the way Knizia gradually mutates and layers the scoring conditions so that by half-way through you realise you're barely playing the same game that you started out with.

2.  9   American Book Shop x16

Implementing and playing trick-takers and other card games on playingcards.io has been one of the bright spots of this bizarre year. Particularly notable amongst those have been the fascinating designs of Taiki Shinzawa. I enjoyed Segment Trix, Zimbabweee Trick, Ambiente Abissal, Dois and Time Palatrix but best of all was American Book Shop, a perfect entry-level trick-taker with a delightful dose of dickery.

3.  9   Letterpress x14

This is a slight cheat as I played the very similar Movable Type a few years ago. But I didn't give it much attention at the time and it's worth it! A simple letter-drafting spelling game with a great arc as you use the individual rounds to build up an impressive word for the final showdown.

4.  8   The Field of the Cloth of Gold x14

I'm not sure the setting really comes through for me but I greatly enjoy the constant agonising choices and trying to set them up for my opponent.

5.  8   Wavelength x13

Brilliant party game that encourages interesting conversations. We'd have played a lot more if not for... you know.

6.  8   Spies & Lies: A Stratego Story x5

Under-the-radar 2p bluffing and reading game from Don Eskridge of Resistance fame.

7.  8   Quirky Circuits x6

RoboRally meets The Mind in this co-operative programming game that comes with an impressive variety of courses and characters.

8.  7   Watergate x3

A really solid entry in the burgeoning quick 2p card-driven political/war game genre.

9.  7  Marrakech x5

Lots of simple fun, I don't know why it took me so long to play this!

10.  7   Chartae x5

Knizia again, showing what he can do with just 9 tiles.
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Sun Jan 3, 2021 10:38 pm
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New to me December 2020

Martin G
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Happy new year all!

Marrakech - 5 plays -  7 
First Published 2007
Board Game: Marrakech


Surprisingly I'd never played despite seeing it around a lot. What fun! Definitely a light one, especially with 4, but lots of opportunities to play the odds and be a dick. Playing on BGA prompted me to trade for a delightfully tactile physical copy too.

Caravan - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Caravan


I'd had my eye on this since it came out last year but it was a bit pricey so I was glad to see it added to BGA. A real throwback 'German style' game from Joe Huber that I like a lot. It's a pick-up-and-deliver with coloured cubes randomly popping up on the board to be delivered to their matching destinations. But you're restricted to only 5 camels for your 'network' so you have to keep shuttling cubes along the camel train and bringing the back camel to the front.

And to make things tougher, just as you have got a cube close to its destination, another camel can swoop in to steal it. There's a clever mitigation to the thievery though - you each start with only one 'thief marker', which you have to give up to your victim. Nice stuff!

Ambiente Abissal - 3 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Ambiente Abissal


Another by my designer of the year Taiki Shinzawa (新澤 大樹). This is a minimalist climbing game with 'combos' of only 1 or 2 cards. With 3p, the cards go 1-6 in 6 suits, which are ranked. A pair can be two of the same suit or two of the same number and has to be beaten by a higher pair of the same type. The weird thing is what happens with singles -- when you lead one you don't state whether you're playing it for its suit or its number. That will only be determined when subsequent players' cards have eliminated one of the possibilities. For example, I lead 2 of the lowest suit, next player plays 4 of a higher suit, third player could still play either *any* card of a still higher suit, or a 5 or 6 of any suit.

It's a light one but does have some of the nice feel of deciding how to play your hand in Tichu or Haggis and seems like it'd work well as a pub game.

§egment Trix - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: §egment Trix


...and this one is his latest. The twist here is that the numbers on the cards are represented digital-watch-style and you can alter the number when you play a card by adding extra stick segments to it (e.g. a 0 becomes an 8 by adding the cross piece in the middle). The aim is to win exactly as many tricks as you have sticks remaining in your supply at the end of the hand. Genius!

Vivaldi - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Vivaldi


This is a welcome updating of old Italian trick-taker Briscola Chiamata which I played once years ago. It's a 5p game in which each round is played as 2v3, but the teams are established by a bid and are initially secret (the 2 know they're on each other's team but the 3 only know one of the 2. The modernisation has streamlined the scoring nicely and also added a Sticheln-style pain suit.

Don Carlo - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Don Carlo


Noticed this in the A la Carte card games award nominations this year. It's got Kramer as a co-designer and sounded interesting from the rules. I bought a copy but also threw it up on pc.io. Quite interesting - each player has their own deck of cards with values from 0-6. Each turn you play up to 4 cards as a 'codename' for an agent, always in ascending order (e.g. 134, 005). The agent is played to the country matching the total of its digits, but it has to have a different codename from any agent already there. You get immediate points based on the total number of agents already in that country, small bonuses for runs and 3-of-a-kinds, and then end-game points based on area majority in each country. Slight concern that the scoring will always end up very tight but we liked it.

Butterfly - 3 plays -  6 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Butterfly


Acceptable set-collection game on BGA. Grid movement like Game of Thrones: Hand of the King, scoring like Ra. Better with fewer players.

Haiclue - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Haiclue


Moderately amusing Dixit-ish word game on BGA. Four words are displayed publicly in the middle. Each player is secretly assigned one of these as a target and then arranges 2 or more words from their hand into a phrase/small poem related to the target. Each reveals in turn, and the other players simultaneously guess the target. Both clue-giver and clue-guesser score a point for a correct guess. Stinker is a lot more hilarious though.

Carcassonne Junior - 1 play
First Published 2009
Board Game: Carcassonne Junior


Got this for my daughter for Xmas. It's neat! Somehow they put regular Carc meeples in the box instead of Kids ones and the colours aren't the same. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that my colour was never going to show up on the tiles...
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Sat Jan 2, 2021 5:00 pm
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Q4 2020 review

Martin G
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Total plays: 110

Distinct games: 43

New-to-me games: 16

Dimes: 1 - My City (25)

Nickels: 5 - For Sale (9), Chartae (5), Marrakech (5)

A grim quarter really with the second wave meaning even my limited face-to-face gaming over the summer had to be abandoned. Q1 2021 doesn't look like it'll be much better either - crazy that I'll have gone at least a year without playing a game in the flesh with more than one other adult.

Now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 10 - Polynesia, Don Carlo, GOLD, Claim Pocket, Schotten Totten 2, Dicke Dämonen, SWAT!, Great Wall of China, Chartae, Marrakech

Removed: 3 - Pikoko, Rage, Fast Forward: FLEE

Owned: 231

Unplayed: 10 - Res Publica, Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation, The Game of 49, Rosetta: The Lost Language, Claim, Dicke Dämonen, Great Wall of China, Polynesia, Schotten Totten 2, SWAT!

A bit of end-of-year retail therapy with an amazon.de order (which will almost certainly be more difficult and expensive from now on) and some second-hand Knizias. Really need to stop buying >2p games until I can play them now, I don't like having a 'shelf of shame' in double figures.

Best new-to-me: lots of good ones but not a real stand-out. Marrakech is cute on BGA and even cuter in real life.

 10   6 nimmt! x3 (164 all-time)
 10   For Sale x9 (80 all-time)
 9   American Book Shop x2 (16 all-time)
 9   Decrypto (19 all-time)
 9   Eggs of Ostrich x2 (53 all-time)
 9   Fuji Flush x2 (63 all-time)
 9   Letterpress (14 all-time)
 9   Mamma Mia! (27 all-time)
 9   Mandala x3 (19 all-time)
 9   My City x25 (43 all-time)
 9   Ninety-Nine x2 (11 all-time)
 9   Scrabble x2 (18 all-time)
 9   Stick 'Em x2 (18 all-time)
 9   The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine x2 (18 all-time)
 8   Codenames (54 all-time)
 8   Coloretto (28 all-time)
 8   Maskmen (16 all-time)
 8   Texas Showdown (22 all-time)
 7   Ambiente Abissal x3 NEW!
 7   Break the Code x2 NEW!
 7   Caravan NEW!
 7   Chartae x5 NEW!
 7   Diamant x2 (20 all-time)
 7   Don Carlo x2 NEW!
 7   Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game x2 NEW!
 7   Marrakech x5 NEW!
 7   Merchants of Dunhuang x2 NEW!
 7   Time Palatrix x2 (6 all-time)
 7   Village Green (11 all-time)
 7   Vivaldi x2 NEW!
 7   §egment Trix x2 NEW!
 6   7 Wonders x2 (40 all-time)
 6   Butterfly x3 NEW!
 6   GOLD x2 NEW!
 6   Haiclue NEW!
 6   Idle Hands x2 NEW!
 6   Kingdomino (10 all-time)
 6   Nanga Parbat NEW!
 6   UGO! (2 all-time)
 6   Yōkai (3 all-time)
 5   Sushi Go! (2 all-time)
 N/A   Carcassonne Junior NEW!
 N/A   Unpublished Prototype x2 (15 all-time)
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Sat Jan 2, 2021 12:57 pm
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Top 100 People's Choice for Two - my picks

Martin G
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Just a quick plug for the 2020 Edition of the Top 100 People's Choice for Two, which I failed to notice last year.

Here are my picks, done pretty quickly on PubMeeple. I wanted to pick games that I *prefer* to play with two than other counts rather than just games I love that *can* be played with two.

1 Innovation - I only play with more than 2 with the team rules
2 Cribbage - ultimate 'couch game' with Sarah
3 Baseball Highlights 2045 - tournaments are great but they're just a series of 2p match-ups
4 Wir sind das Volk - need to get back on the online plays
5 Race for the Galaxy - great with 3 too but 2p advanced is the vast bulk of my plays
6 Elements/Khmer - just a brilliant microgame
7 Twilight Struggle - only suffers from being so long, the tension is unmatched
8 Mandala - a recent favourite that deserves to be in this company
9 Haggis - modern but feels traditional and classic
10 Scrabble - will always bring back memories of my grannies
11 Aton - great tension from multiple victory conditions
12 Crokinole - another that's also excellent with 2 teams
13 Hanamikoji - painful choices every turn!
14 Azul - 2p really ramps up the hate-drafting that this game is so good at
15 Battle Line - my preferred Knizia 2p colours and numbers game
16 Throne & the Grail - excellent quick drafting game
17 Metropolys - the one where I differ most from consensus on player count but I adore this with 2
18 Circle the Wagons - so much in 18 cards
19 Iron Curtain - and likewise - the best distillation of Twilight Struggle
20 Blue Moon - wish I could spend more time with this
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Mon Nov 16, 2020 11:37 am
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New to me October 2020

Martin G
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Chartae - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Chartae


Knizia does it again! This is a really clever game made from just 9 tiles and two rules and over in five minutes. Players take turns to either place or rotate a map tile, one aiming to connect as big a landmass as possible, the other an ocean. Only being able to rotate clockwise and only having two successive turns of rotation allowed pushes the game forward to its conclusion rather than getting bogged down in attrition.

Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game


Felt like good timing for this to appear on BGA - I'd read something about it a while back and was interested to try. Neat little game! Kind of a reverse area majority where the control tokens are all placed already but then the players try to divide them up into areas in the most favourable way. Really does give the feel of gerrymandering ('packing' and 'cracking') with a tiny ruleset.

Merchants of Dunhuang - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Merchants of Dunhuang


Another neat one (dare I say Knizian?). The basic idea is set-collection from a triangular deck (1x1, 2x2, 3x3... 10x10) but with a clever double majority system. For each type of cards you have the majority in between all the players' hands you score one card of that type for its face value. But you also collect cards in front of you on the table and you are only eligible to score as many hand cards as you have majorities on the table. Ideally you'd have high-valued majorities in your hand and low-valued majorities on the table but it doesn't always work out that way.

The set-collection itself is driven by a rondel -- you move a (shared) pawn round to collect a card from a space and then also take the special action associated with that space. The further you want to travel round the rondel, the more it will cost, so there's a money management element too.

I'd assumed it was by a Korean designer (the publisher is Korean) but checking it out afterwards I discovered it was by the Italian Gabriele Bubola who also designed Hats, another game I noted as having Knizian touches. One to watch!

悪魔でお仕事 (Idle Hands) - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Idle Hands


Yet another Japanese trick-taker-with-a-twist. This one's mostly about avoiding negative points, which I usually do better at than winning tricks thanks to being brought up on Hearts! The twist is that each player starts with three face-up cards in front of them as well as a hidden hand. When you lead, you choose one of your face-up cards to be the suit to follow, but that card isn't eligible to win the trick. Shenanigans ensue...
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Mon Nov 9, 2020 11:49 am
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Game giveaway: Piko-Go!

Martin G
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As mentioned in a previous post, I'm giving away some games that I never play in the hope they'll bring more joy to someone else. The rules are:

1. Comment here to say you want the game and explain why you think you'll play it. I will use this rationale when deciding who to give the game to so make it convincing!

2. By commenting you are pledging that if you end up with the game you will play it in the next year. If you don't, you promise to pass it on to someone else who will. I'm not doing this to shift clutter from my dusty cupboard to yours - I want the games to get played. I'd love it if you'd come back to this blogpost once you've played and let me know how it went!

3. I will ship anywhere but you must agree to cover the postage (£5 or less in the UK, 7-15 euros depending on weight to Europe and $10-20 to US) via PayPal.

This week's game is the trick-taker where you can't see your hand, Pikoko (bonus: signed by designer!) It's a decent little game but I have so many trick-takers and this one takes up more space than most of them!

Board Game: Pikoko


I will pick a winner in a week's time and post the result here.
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Wed Oct 7, 2020 1:30 pm
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New to me Sep 2020

Martin G
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Village Green - 10 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Village Green


I picked this up on a whim as it's by Peer Sylvester and very cheap. Solo it's a little reminiscent of Sprawlopolis in speed and objective - building a spatial tableau from a hand of cards to satisfy various scoring rules. The big differences are twofold: the restrictions on spatial placement are much more stringent which makes it quite brain-burny, and you can change your scoring goals on the fly rather than having them set at the beginning. It makes for a neat 10-minute puzzle with a gentle theme and pleasant artwork.

My wife saw me playing solo and said it looked pretty, then *asked* to play on two different nights. Unprecedented! As you might expect from the description above, it's not massively interactive as a multiplayer - just a bit of hate drafting if you can be bothered. That's perfect for Sarah though, she enjoys working her own puzzle (and I enjoy doing it alongside her!)

The Fox in the Forest Duet - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: The Fox in the Forest Duet


This is nowhere near as interesting a co-op trick-taker as The Crew but it does a nice job of converting the feel of the original's special-powers into a co-op form. The basic idea is that a counter will move along a path towards the winner of each trick, with the number of spaces moved determined by the two cards played. You want to visit a number of specific locations while not venturing off the end of the track, so some co-ordination and judicious use of the powers is required.

Cathedral - 1 play -  6 
First Published 1978
Board Game: Cathedral


I'd never played this 70s abstract polyomino-game but it was quite pleasant, with some ideas seen earlier in Go and later in Blokus. The chunky wooden buildings are a big part of the charm though.

FlickFleet - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2018
Board Game: FlickFleet


A space battle dexterity game in which you flick plastic ships into position to fire missile dice at your opponent's fleet. Good fun and comes with a bunch of varied scenarios - clearly a labour of love.

RevoltaaA - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2015
Board Game: RevoltaaA


A Knizia card game I implemented on playingcards.io to give a try. The gameplay was as puzzling as the ducks v robots theme but I think there might be something there.

Upset Kakumei - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Upset Kakumei


535 - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: 535


A couple of recent Japanese climbing games Hanibal introduced me too on pc.io. 535 lets you add cards to other player's sets rummy-style as an alternative to beating them with a higher combo; while Upset Kakumei lets you reverse the direction so you can climb back down after climbing up. There are so many of these things now that I'm starting to get desensitised...

Kluster - 3 plays -  5 
First Published 2018
Board Game: Kluster


A bunch of strong magnets which you take turns to place inside a stringed-off area without attracting any others. Unfortunately you don't seem to be able to do anything cool with the magnetic properties; the only thing the magnetism does is make you lose.

Lucky Numbers - 2 plays -  5 
First Published 2012
Board Game: Lucky Numbers


An old Schacht game that's new to BoardGameArena. A bit Lost Cities-ish but not nearly as good.

----

I also played a couple of unpublished prototypes: Hanibal's nice climbing game mash-up; and the forthcoming trick-taker from the La Mame Games crew, of which more later!
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Thu Oct 1, 2020 1:59 pm
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Q3 2020 review

Martin G
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Total plays: 189

Distinct games: 66

New-to-me games: 25

Dimes: 5 - My City (18), The Field of the Cloth of Gold (14), Eggs of Ostrich (11), Letterpress (10), Village Green (10)

Nickels: 5 - American Book Shop (9), For Sale (8), Mandala (8), 7 Wonders (7), Texas Showdown (6)

Another quarter of the 'new normal' and no end in sight There has been a bit more face-to-face gaming this quarter as I've permitted myself a few meetups with one other gamer friend for 2p games. Online gaming continues apace too.

Now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 5 - The Game of 49, Rosetta: The Lost Language, The Field of the Cloth of Gold, My City, Village Green

Removed: 5 - Prosperity, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases, The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet, Finished!, King's Road

Owned: 224

Unplayed: 4 - Res Publica, Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation, The Game of 49, Rosetta: The Lost Language

My City, Village Green and FotCoG are all 2p-suitable which is ideal these days. Game of 49 and Rosetta aren't, and haven't yet been played as a result. I also started my game giveaway which has been going nicely.

Best new-to-me: My City got a mixed reception but Knizia rarely fails me and I'm really enjoying my two 2p campaigns.

 10   6 nimmt! x2 (161 all-time)
 10   Cribbage (126 all-time)
 10   For Sale x8 (71 all-time)
 10   Hanabi x2 (78 all-time)
 10   Innovation x3 (90 all-time)
 10   Kingdom Builder x2 (90 all-time)
 10   Love Letter (137 all-time)
 10   Race for the Galaxy x3 (257 all-time)
 9   Decrypto (18 all-time)
 9   Eggs of Ostrich x11 (51 all-time)
 9   Letterpress x10 (13 all-time)
 9   Northern Pacific (11 all-time)
 9   Perudo (79 all-time)
 9   Senators x2 (16 all-time)
 9   Stick 'Em (16 all-time)
 9   The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine (16 all-time)
 9   Voodoo Prince x3 (21 all-time)
 8   American Bookshop Card Game x9 (14 all-time)
 8   Coloretto x2 (27 all-time)
 8   Dealt! x2 (17 all-time)
 8   Mandala x8 (16 all-time)
 8   Maskmen (15 all-time)
 8   My City x18 NEW!
 8   Ninety-Nine x3 (9 all-time)
 8   Quirky Circuits (6 all-time)
 8   Res Arcana (33 all-time)
 8   Spies & Lies: A Stratego Story x4 (5 all-time)
 8   Sprawlopolis (39 all-time)
 8   Texas Showdown x6 (21 all-time)
 8   The Field of the Cloth of Gold x14 NEW!
 7   Can't Stop (11 all-time)
 7   Carcassonne (17 all-time)
 7   Dragon's Breath (11 all-time)
 7   Guess Club (3 all-time)
 7   Heir to the Pharaoh NEW!
 7   The Bottle Imp (14 all-time)
 7   The Fox in the Forest Duet NEW!
 7   The Rose King NEW!
 7   Time Palatrix (4 all-time)
 7   Turn the Tide (2 all-time)
 7   Village Green x10 NEW!
 7   Watergate x3 NEW!
 6   535 x2 NEW!
 6   7 Wonders x7 (38 all-time)
 6   Cathedral NEW!
 6   Chicken Cha Cha Cha (6 all-time)
 6   Dois (3 all-time)
 6   Downforce x2 (3 all-time)
 6   FlickFleet NEW!
 6   Glasgow x2 NEW!
 6   Kingdomino x2 (9 all-time)
 6   Ohio x2 NEW!
 6   RevoltaaA NEW!
 6   Super Susuru Soup NEW!
 6   Tea Time x2 (7 all-time)
 6   The Search for Planet X NEW!
 6   Upset Kakumei NEW!
 6   ドキッと!アイス (Dokitto! Ice) x2 NEW!
 6   呪術トリック (Cursed Tricks) NEW!
 5   Kluster x3 NEW!
 5   Lucky Numbers x2 NEW!
 5   Rummy Five NEW!
 5   ジャンキー (Junkie) NEW!
 4   Finished! x2 NEW!
 N/A   Unpublished Prototype x4 (13 all-time)
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Wed Sep 30, 2020 2:41 pm
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Game giveaway: watch this flee my collection

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
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As mentioned in a previous post, I'm giving away some games that I never play in the hope they'll bring more joy to someone else. The rules are:

1. Comment here to say you want the game and explain why you think you'll play it. I will use this rationale when deciding who to give the game to so make it convincing!

2. By commenting you are pledging that if you end up with the game you will play it in the next year. If you don't, you promise to pass it on to someone else who will. I'm not doing this to shift clutter from my dusty cupboard to yours - I want the games to get played. I'd love it if you'd come back to this blogpost once you've played and let me know how it went!

3. I will ship anywhere but you must agree to cover the postage (£5 or less in the UK, 7-15 euros depending on weight to Europe and $10-20 to US) via PayPal.

This week's game is Friedemann Friese's Fast Forward: FLEE.

Board Game: Fast Forward: FLEE


I will pick a winner in a week's time and post the result here.
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Mon Sep 28, 2020 2:18 pm
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