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New to me March 2021

Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Hard to choose between two games this month, both of which manage to be big improvements on games I already loved. I'll go with...

Scout! - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Scout!


...as it's the freshest in my mind and my other pick has already been added to the list a couple of times.

I don't know whether this came before, after or in parallel with Dealt! (aka Krass Kariert) but they're both built around the same genius core idea: climbing games where the sets you play have to be adjacent in your hand. As in Bohnanza, your hand can never be re-ordered, but in both games you try to play cards out to connect the cards surrounding them into better groups. And in both games you have the possibility of adding cards to your hand in the position of your choice to aid this process.

I've really enjoyed my plays of KK but it has a few wonky features. It always felt a bit strange for a climbing game to only go once around the table each 'trick' and to restrict the size of the sets you can play to 3 cards. There are a few special cards that have to be explained, and also (unless you house-rule it) it produces only a loser not a winner.

Scout! ingeniously does away with all of these issues, resulting in gameplay that's as smooth as the plastic cards in its colourful deck. Instead of playing a series of tricks, you just keep playing round and round, each time having the choice to play a better set of cards than the previous one on the table, capturing those cards as victory points, or to 'scout' by taking a single card from that previous set and adding it to your hand. This balance between building up and knocking down also reminded me of the brilliant Abluxxen/Linko.

Another thing I really liked is that you can finish a round in two ways: the standard ridding your hand of cards, or by playing a set so strong that all the other players are forced to scout rather than play. This is quite difficult to do as each time your set is scouted, it gets smaller and thus easier to beat. But it's really satisfying to pull off! Finally the only 'special powers' are the one opportunity each player gets per hand to scout *and* play in the same turn. Use these wisely...

And I didn't even mention the neat deck yet -- the cards are double-ended, featuring each possible pair of the numbers 1-10 (excluding duplicates). Once you've been dealt your initial hand, you can choose whether to play it 'as is' or to flip *all* the cards upside-down. And when you scout, you get to choose the orientation for the card you add to your hand.

Brilliant stuff -- hopefully it will become more available soon.

The Crew: Mission Deep Sea - 4 plays -  9 
First Published 2021
Board Game: The Crew: Mission Deep Sea


I've talked about The Crew a lot - it was my game of the year in 2019 (though may now have been pipped to that title by Babylonia). My first impressions of the sequel are that it's almost certainly even better, especially for trick-taking veterans.

The core of the game is the same. The team works through a series of trick-taking missions, communicating in a strictly limited fashion about the cards in their hands.

The big difference is the tasks you have to complete on each mission. In the original, the task card deck was just a copy of the main deck, and taking, e.g. the 6 red task meant you had to capture the matching card in a trick.

In the new version, this is replaced by a far more varied 96-card task deck, each of which is rated with a difficulty value from 1-5 on the back. Each mission also has a difficulty rating (starting at 1 but getting well into double figures later), and you draw tasks from the deck until their difficulty values add up to the rating of the mission. This also helps with the player count scaling - one of the slight weaknesses of the original - as the tasks have different difficultly values for the 3, 4 and 5p game.

It's the variety of the tasks that makes this so fun. Examples are "don't win any 1s, 2s or 3s", "win a trick containing the same number of green and yellow cards", "win the last trick" and so on. It feels like this is enough on its own to make a near-infinitely replayable game, without even having 33 missions to work through.

That's also what makes it a more 'advanced' version that is likely to be tougher to take to for new-to-tricktaking players. Although on the other hand, it feels a bit less brutal in that a lot of the tasks aren't obviously failed as soon as one mistake is made - you can find a way to play around them.

Can't wait to buy the English version and play this face-to-face!

To Unlimited, and Beyond - 3 plays -  7 
First Published 2014
Board Game: To Unlimited, and Beyond


Another Japanese climbing game and it's entertainingly weird. You can take as many chips as you like from a central supply to 'boost' your cards to higher values to make better sets. But you have to get rid of all your chips (which you can only do by passing on playing cards) as well as your cards to finish the round.

Hardback - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2018
Board Game: Hardback


New on BGA and I like it better than Paperback (another one for this month's theme!). It's still a word-spelling deck-builder but you buy from a rotating card row rather than static piles, and there's a strong incentive to specialise in a particular type of card. A nice push-your-luck mechanism too - you can spend 'ink' to draw additional cards to spell with, but you *have* to use those letters in your word (unlike the ones in your hand which you can discard or use as wilds).

CuBirds - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2018
Board Game: CuBirds


Another one just added to BGA, by the designer of the excellent King Chocolate. I didn't find anything particularly remarkable about this set-collection filler but it works nicely enough and the art is cute.
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Fri Apr 2, 2021 8:28 am
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2021 Q1 review

Martin G
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Bristol
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Total plays: 108

Distinct games: 42

New-to-me games: 15

Dimes: 0

Nickels: 9 - Marrakech (9), Raj (8), For Sale (7), No Thanks! (6), Res Arcana (6), Space Worm (6), Nokosu Dice (5)

Probably the toughest quarter so far. School was closed again so we had home-school to manage alongside work for a couple of months, and national lockdown was back too so no chance to socialise. Did a lost of asynch on BGA (which I don't log), particularly Res Arcana which is still delivering! Things are looking brighter with cases down and vaccines up and I'm holding out hope for some face-to-face gaming in Q2!

Now a look at the collection.

Acquired: 7 - Space Worm, Silencio, Reign of Witches, Scrabble Duplicate, Nokosu Dice, Scout!, Chip It!

Removed: 0

Owned: 238

Unplayed: 11 - Res Publica, Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation, The Game of 49, Rosetta: The Lost Language, Claim, Dicke Dämonen, Great Wall of China, Polynesia, SWAT!, Silencio, Reign of Witches

Well I'm going to have plenty of options when games nights do start up again! Seemed only fair to pick up a few of the Japanese card games I've been enjoying so much on playingcards.io.

Best new-to-me: three fabulous card games in the form of the sequel to (and improvement on) The Crew, Nokosu Dice and Scout.

10  6 nimmt! x4 (168 all-time)
10  Cribbage (127 all-time)
10  For Sale x7 (87 all-time)
10  Kingdom Builder (91 all-time)
10  Love Letter (138 all-time)
10  Race for the Galaxy (258 all-time)
10  Tichu (55 all-time)
9  Fuji Flush (64 all-time)
9  Just One x4 (31 all-time)
9  Mamma Mia! (28 all-time)
9  Maskmen x3 (19 all-time)
9  Res Arcana x6 (39 all-time)
9  The Crew: Mission Deep Sea x4 NEW!
9  Voodoo Prince (22 all-time)
9  Winner's Circle (25 all-time)
8  Marrakech x9 (14 all-time)
8  Nokosu Dice x5 NEW!
8  Scout! NEW!
8  Texas Showdown x2 (24 all-time)
8  The Field of the Cloth of Gold (15 all-time)
7  Ambiente Abissal (4 all-time)
7  Hardback NEW!
7  No Thanks! x6 (68 all-time)
7  Schotten Totten 2 NEW!
7  Space Worm x6 NEW!
7  To Unlimited, and Beyond x3 NEW!
7  What the Heck? x8 (18 all-time)
7  §egment Trix (3 all-time)
7  キャットインザボックス (Cat in the box) x4 NEW!
6  7 Wonders x2 (42 all-time)
6  Abyss NEW!
6  Carcassonne Junior (2 all-time)
6  CuBirds x2 NEW!
6  Downforce x2 (5 all-time)
6  Goods Maker x2 NEW!
6  Paris Connection (3 all-time)
6  Schadenfreude x2 NEW!
6  ドキッと!アイス (Dokitto! Ice) (3 all-time)
5  Buttons x2 NEW!
5  Draftosaurus x4 NEW!
5  Scrabble Duplicate NEW!
N/A  Unpublished Prototype (16 all-time)
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Thu Apr 1, 2021 12:23 pm
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New to me Feb 2021

Martin G
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Nokosu Dice - 4 plays -  8 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Nokosu Dice


No question of the game of the month, I played it with all three of my trick-taking groups and everyone loved it.

Yeah, yeah, another Japanese trick-taker with a twist I hear you say. But this one is REALLY clever! The big new thing is that part of your hand is made up of the usual hidden cards but part of it is made up of publicly-visible dice (same colours as the cards). Your cards and dice are treated equally in terms of needing to follow etc. but it means there's a lot more information than usual.

You only get 'dealt' two dice, then you take turns to draft 3 more one at a time from a row. Clever thing alert #1! There will be one die leftover after the draft is finished - that die determines the colour and number of the trump suit.

Once you've drafted, you play out the tricks in the usual manner. Clever thing alert #2! You never play your last die - instead its number becomes your bid for how many tricks you're going to win that hand.

All of this has loads of fascinating (and often mean) implications. Do you draft powerful dice to win tricks (each one is worth a point)? Or to give yourself a nice spread of options for your bid? Or to influence the trump? Towards the end of the hand, can you 'pull out' the dice someone is trying to save for their bid by leading that colour?

I was so impressed by this one that I placed a rather expensive order on Japanese Amazon, picking up Scout at the same time.

Abyss - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2014
Board Game: Abyss


This suffered from being played on BGA with everyone new to the game, running to 90 mins. I can imagine it being quite fun as a 45-60 minute face-to-face game as it has some decent interaction points.

Goods Maker - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Little Factory


This was much better the second time as the first was marred by rules errors. Still not really my thing though - a fast-paced engine-builder with lots of conversions, but 'special powers' are just more efficient conversions rather than exciting rule-breakers. More Splendor than Res Arcana in that respect.

Scrabble Duplicate - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Scrabble Duplicate


Each turn you draw to 7 tiles in the middle, then everyone comes up with their best word on their own dry-wipe board within 2 minutes. You both score for the word you made, but only the highest-scoring one gets put onto the central board. Then you draw up to 7 and repeat.

So there's no hand management or defensive play - just a succession of puzzles. I'd forgotten quite how much my wife hates losing at Scrabble, and this makes it even worse as you can't blame your crappy tiles!

The physical production on this one is awful but at least it was cheap.
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Mon Mar 1, 2021 8:25 am
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New to me Jan 2021

Martin G
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Bristol
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A very on-brand month for me: two Knizias and two weird Japanese trick-takers

Space Worm - 3 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Space Worm


This is a Knizia roll & write version of the old phone game Snake, drawn on a black-coloured pad with metallic pens. You roll 8 dice at the start of each round and take turns drafting one, which determines how many spaces you move (in a straight line). The scoring is mainly from going through planets and fruit, and there's a little bonus if you go through a fruit using the matching-coloured die. It comes with 4 different 'levels' too, with little extra features.

I enjoyed it and my 4-year-old has declared it her favourite game, with a fair bit of leniency given to her on how straight her lines are. Wouldn't want to play it with more than 3 though, I don't think. The downtime would increase and the counter-drafting and planning ahead would vanish.

Schotten Totten 2 - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Schotten Totten 2


The changes from the original are interesting and the two asymmetric sides really seem to require different styles of play.

I played as the attacker, and that feels more like playing original ST, wanting to prove you've won flags as quickly as possible. But the defender wants to string things along, giving the attacker the hope they can still finish a formation that they actually can't.

I liked the variety introduced in the way you claim different 'flags' too (some need 2 cards, some 4, some only count certain types of formation) as well as the special power each side has (the attacker can 'retreat' from a flag and start again, while the defender can use an 'oil cauldron' to destroy an attacking card, three times per game).

キャットインザボックス (Cat in the box) - 4 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: キャットインザボックス (Cat in the box)


This trick-taker has two really interesting ideas. First is that the cards you're dealt don't have a suit, only a number (five copies of each). But like Scrhodinger's cat being observed, when you play a card you have to say what colour it is, and mark that spot off with one of your tokens on a grid so that no one else can play another 8 blue, for example, later in the hand. As usual, you have to follow suit unless you can't, which you indicate by marking that you've got no more greens, say, meaning you won't be able to play a 'green' later even if you want to. The round ends when someone 'creates a paradox' by finding that they don't have a card left in their hand they can legally play according to those constraints.

The second clever idea is in the scoring. You bid to take 1, 2 or 3 tricks at the start of the hand, and if you make it you score 1 point for each token in your largest contiguous group of tokens on the suit/number grid. This helps to inform how you choose to designate your cards during the round. Crazy!

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


I was slightly underwhelmed by my first play of this one, but we had a couple of rules mistakes and it was better the second time. Here you win a tricky by playing the *second*-highest card in the lead suit, and you take that card plus any other cards played to the trick that weren't in the lead suit. But you're not trying to have the most points outright; rather the most of any of the players who didn't go over 40 and thus eliminate themselves. That leads to a lot of rather counter-intuitive play which I might come to appreciate more with more plays. I'd like to try it with more than 3p too.

Draftosaurus - 4 plays -  5 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Draftosaurus


New on BGA so we gave it a spin. Hard to believe this wasn't designed by Phil Walker-Harding! It feels like a hybrid of Sushi Go and Imhotep, with their characteristic 'pretty much everything's worth 2-4 points' scoring. Eminently forgettable.

Buttons - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Buttons


Another new-to-BGA game, this one an uninspiring roll & write.
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Tue Feb 2, 2021 9:39 am
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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
United Kingdom
Bristol
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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
United Kingdom
Bristol
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Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
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Microbadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Reiner Knizia freakMicrobadge: Babylonia fanMicrobadge: Babylonia fan
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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