Knizia. Spiel des Jahres. Some other thoughts, but only rarely. I'm not that much of a big thinker, you know - but I love games.
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Laszlo Molnar
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In support of Babyloctobia - Knizia tile laying rules!
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Last week my love of playing Reiner Knizia games reached new heights: I reached a K-index of 25, which is the H-index of Knizia games - I mean I recorded 25+ plays of 25 Knizia games (out of the 222 Knizia titles that I have rated).

Obviously, this list is not the same as 'the list of my top 25 Knizias', even though it does include 4 of my top 10, namely
*Samurai, my favorite Knizia that I played 51 times face to face (and 180+ times online)
*Times Square, a game I wasn't sure about after my first plays but now it's my most played game,
*Through the Desert, which I have played online and against AI quite a few times but it was just the 25th game to reach a quarter (and having that really good river board in the new edition also helped),
*and Ingenious, which could have been Knizia's first Spiel des Jahres winner, were it released in any other year than the year of Ticket to Ride.

From gallery of lacxox

Of course Knizia's real Spiel des Jahres winner is also here, just like the lighter variant played with tiles; overall you can see this pic is full of family and kids' games. My more gamery favorites are not present as I can't play them enough (no or not too many plays with family yet), games like Tigris & Euphrates, Yellow & Yangtze, Taj Mahal, Ra, Modern Art, Amun-Re, Stephensons Rocket...

Besides Times Square, there are quite a few games here that took me as a surprise by how popular they became. For example Monster High: Potworrrnie wciągająca gra! (published in the Polish market) and Dreaming Dragon are two games that I would have never aquired myself (maybe hadn't even heard about them) but I got them as a prize (among others) from Dr. Knizia and now they are at 60+ plays as my kids got addicted to playing them. Viele Tiere (43 plays) is a rather simple memory game; I just found a cheap and rather used copy when I was looking for a game for my youngest kid when she was two and a half. And Kariba (30 plays) is one of the most recent acquisitions - first it had low rating so I didn't really want to try (now it has better ratings) but I did give it a try on the last day of last year (a New Year's Eve party) and found out it's a pleasant card game to play with kids... So I bought it two months ago.

Yeah, there are a few further obscure games in here as well. Including My Beautiful Pony which is probably obscure only on BGG as it's a fast and not that innovative real-time reaction game for general toystores that was released with at least 4 different themes and artworks and still has only 41 ratings in the database. And Mágus Párbaj (Kampf der Magier) has only 22 ratings but in mechanism it's almost identical to Escalation! (I believe the difference is a single card)... Add other low-rated kids' games like Kang-a-Roo and Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus and you can see BGG ratings are not to be trusted when you try to find children's games that your kids will actually enjoy.

When I look at the plays of these games, I can see a recurring theme which is a very typical Knizian feature: first plays don't always show the values of the game (it explains the low ratings for many fine Knizias). A dozen years ago I tried Samurai online and thought it's rather luck-dependent, only I just could not win my first 12 plays (against experienced Samurai players) and when I won my 13th (against a newbie) I was extremely satisfied and changed my mind about the game and went to the FLGS to buy it. When I bought Ingenious I liked it but it took about 50 plays (and numerous plays vs AI) until I thought it is indeed Ingenious. When I bought Times Square I played it against myself and did not get it at all, I thought it was lame, then played three times against my wife who swore she would never play it again (and she did not) but I started to see how wonderful this game is; it's still a wonder that I'm at 130 plays now (and am looking at the new editions for a replacement copy). When I saw Callisto: The Game (not the smaller-box, inferior version called Callisto) in Essen 2009 I thought meh, I hoped for something more innovative from the good Doctor; later I found out I like it at least as much as Blokus while I enjoy the differences and the different dilemmas presented. I bought Piranhas hoping for a good card game but what I got was a silly reaction game that even dragged... then my son grew older and it became a super-fast and fun filler (where he gives me advantage as I would not stand any chance against him)...

And which games did almost make it to the list? Carcassonne: The Castle missed it only by one play (I'm at 24), but it's still my favorite Carcassonne spin-off (and fun fact, it's the only Carc spin-off that got any Spiel des Jahres recommendation). Wer war's: Das Kartenspiel (at 22 plays) is like a simplified version of King Arthur: The Card Game but is themed to the Kniderspiel des Jahres-winning Whoowasit? (at 18 plays), maybe both can reach a quarter
I also like Keltis: Das Kartenspiel (20 plays) even though when I'm at home, I prefer the bigger Keltis games (my favorite, Keltis: Neue Wege, Neue Ziele is at 17 and my second favorite Das Orakel is at 12) and when travelling I mostly choose the mitbringspiel (see it in the image). And Rondo (at 20 plays)... is one I'm not a big fan of - it's okay, but that's it for me - but my family keeps requesting it so no doubt it might also reach a quarter. And yes, there are quite a few more in the 15+ range that might become temporary favorites for any of my kids and then 25 plays are easy to reach.

Or maybe there will be new Knizias reaching a quarter? I certainly hope so, as there are so many good new ones. Well, it reminds me I should write my blog post about Knizia's '19 - it was quite a year!
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