The Abstract Perspective of Leo Colovini
Dave Kudzma
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I have a passion for abstracts, and one of the most prolific designers in the genre is Leo Colovini. Yet another great designer whose games were among the very first I ever bought or played when getting into the hobby.

Abstracts are always controversial due to the fact that it seems that the theme of the game is usually irrelevant. Others view this genre as dry and boring. To each their own I suppose.
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1. Board Game: Clans [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1137]
Dave Kudzma
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My introduction to Colovini was with one of my favorite abstract games.

In true Euro fashion, all colors involved in the formation of the village gain points (equal to the total number of huts present); that is, unless all 5 colors are present and the singles are removed before scoring, potentially screwing your opponents. I enjoy the fact that each players' color is randomly chosen at the beginning and kept hidden; or at least as hidden as you can keep it over the course of the game, whilst trying to make points in the least obvious way possible.

One of my favorite moments playing this game comes from an effective use of the "epoch" chart. On the right hand side of the board there is this nifty little area with tokens. On the left is a type of terrain that will confer bonus points on a village formed in said terrain; on the right is a type of terrain that will immediately "destroy" the village, and no one gets any points for that village. The person who caused the scoring gets an "epoch" chip that counts as a bonus point at the end of the game. And of course, the bonus/destructive terrain changes every so many chips.

That's just the basics. People call this game Dry. Others say it has a weak theme? I dunno, from my description, does it really sound like that bad of a game?
 
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2. Board Game: Cartagena [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:845]
Dave Kudzma
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A modular board that gets used to create a track for a game that's a race to the end. The more I play this one, the more i enjoy it. I used to think that the cards just made the game too random and unpredictable, but the more I have had the opportunity to play experienced players, the more I realized how badly they could consistently whip me.

Almost a year after having first purchased it, Cartagena regularly sees play, and I win more than I lose.
 
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3. Board Game: The Bridges of Shangri-La [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1168]
Dave Kudzma
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Ok, so I admit; What the hell do students and masters traveling form town to town over bridges in the Himalayas have to do with anything? Well, at least the bridges were a good idea.

Lots of negativity on this one too, but it's a very deceptively tricky abstract that takes several plays to truely wrap your noggin around.

At it's heart it's a majorities game that gives you lots of chances to screw your opponents. As the connections get used between the different areas of the board the "bridges" collapse; rendering the path dead. As the connections and options dwindle, the game slowly moves to an end. It's a game in a game just using up the bridges and pushing the game closer to an end. Once all the bridges to an area have been "broken" no further actions may take place there, increasing the tension and competition in the remaining villages, and decreasing the number of options left for placement. After a preset number of villages are scored the game ends.

All this talking about it makes me want to go play
 
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4. Board Game: Submarine [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:9083]
Dave Kudzma
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This is an odd little game.

It depicts a grid 5 high 6 wide onto which 60 chits (5 different colors, 12 different "treasure" pictures each) are distributed. You have a preset number of submarines to move around the grid to collect the treasures with. You play cards of the appropriate color to pick up a chit of that color. The goal is to collect all 12 types of treasure first.

There are some interesting movement restrictions for the submarines (which are called "bathyscapes"); the top row of the grid is for a recovery ship that you must move 1 or more spaces across the board at the beginning of your turn. Tokens can only be collected from the column below the ship. The ship is eventually forced to move off the boad, and cannot restart from the left hand side until all other players ships have also moved off.

My first plays have been with 2 players and I would have to say that this game is definately inteded for more than 2.
 
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5. Board Game: Magna Grecia [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:2259]
Dave Kudzma
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This one in an odd duck in the fact that it doesn't play like either a Schacht game or Colovini game. My fist plays of this on have also only been 2 player, so I will have to reserve judgement until I put more play time into it.

"action cards" are turned over each round that allow you to build roads, found/expand cities, or resupply yourself with tiles. Each card is different, as the amount of benefit each action grants you changes with each card; and you can only choose 2 of the 3 actions on a given turn.

The whole goal of the game is to build roads and create cities (which give you a free market when you build one), or you can pay to build markets in an opponents city, or even a village space on the board. Your points are your money, and you can sell markets during the game to get more money (though you will never be able to have an "active market" in that place again; which means no points in that location for you). Each city you have a market in is scored; it's value being the number of other cities that are connected to it by roads (the color of roads has no bearing). There are also some points to be earned by attracting the attention of "oracles" on the board....but I think this one you might want to dig into a good review of if it sounds interesting.

Sound like an abstract mess? I definately have to say this one is better taught while played.
 
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6. Board Game: Carolus Magnus [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:898]
Dave Kudzma
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This one also ranks as one of the best games Colovini has to offer.

You create a circle of 15 "island" pieces. 1 cube is randomly placed on each island (there are 5 different colors). An "emperor" token is also randomly plaed (there is only one of him though).

There are 3 dice which you roll (with the colors rather than numbers on their sides) to determine your intial supply, and are also used to resupply you at the end of each turn. During your turn you place 3 cubes to either the islands and/or the "court". The court is a tile with 5 colred dots on it. If you play cubes here you add them to the appropriate color row. This will determine "control" of that color. That's majorties game 1 in Carolus. The other place to get majorites is on the islands. The second thing you do during a turn is to move the emperor token. If he ends his movement on a space on which you have a color you control, and that color is the majority holder on that island, you get to place a "tower" of your color. The towers count toward the majority holder's total on that island. There can only be one tower per island initally, so if the emperor stops on an island and the majority holder has changed, so does the tower. The goal of the game is to get rid of all 10 towers you own.

Some interesting twists in this one are are fact that when 2 islands that are adjacent have towers of the same color on them, they merge to make one island. This is the only time you'll find more than one tower per island. And if majority changes on one of these bigger islands ALL the towers change.

Another nice twist is the fact that you are given a set of tokens numbered 1-5 at the start of the game. At the start of the round you choose a disc (every player must choose a different number). The disc determines play order (lowest to highest) and also tells you how many spaces you can move the emperor during your turn. The discs are used up one by one, until everyone has exhausted their supply; then they get the selection renewed (most recently like Niagara).

The game ends when there are less than 4 islands or someone has gotten rid of their towers.

I tend to think this one is a work of genious, as it scales well between 2-3 players; 4 players is played as a partnership game.
 
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7. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Discovery [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1645]
Dave Kudzma
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Leo's simplified take on Carcassonne seems interesting enough; except for the fact that I might just be Carcassoned out.
 
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8. Board Game: Go West! [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:5622]
Dave Kudzma
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I've heard alot of mixed opinions about this one. It seems like pur Colovini, but I'm afraid the scoring mechanism might make me hate it.

Someone say it ain't so....I'm easy to convince when it comes to Colovini
 
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9. Board Game: Alexandros [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:3190]
Paul Boos
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Falls Church
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Alexandros is another I think is worthy of mention here. Quite abstract in that you are trying to take control, but typical of what I have noticed in Colovini games is that you can take advantage f what others have done...
 
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10. Board Game: Doge [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2566]
Ken
United States
Portland
Oregon
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May I pass along my congratulations for your great interdimensional breakthrough. I am sure, in the miserable annals of the Earth, you will be duly enshrined. -- Lord John Whorfin
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Doge.

I'm currently waiting for this one to arrive. I've heard folks describe this as abstract-ish game. Comments?

This will be my first experience with a Colovini game.
 
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11. Board Game: Meridian [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:5017]
Edward Ganaden
United States
Buena Park
California
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I see that Bill E. beat me to this, but I think that the game deserves a spot on the list.
 
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12. Board Game: Shuuro [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:5326]
alberto giusti
Italy
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Shuuro is a game for two players, which merges the precision and rigour of chess with the creativity and variety of war-gaming.

It does so by attaching a points value to each traditional chess piece and allowing the players to spend a predetermined amount of these points (say, a total of 800 points) to select the chess ‘army’ that they think makes the best use of the points. This creates a feeling of ‘ownership’ towards the particular combination the player thinks is the most effective.

The ‘battle’ will then take place on a large chess board of twelve by twelve squares. This board, however, also introduces a new and unique element to the game. Each of the four six-by-six quadrants of the board contains two plinths that block the movement of the pieces. These plinths are placed randomly at the beginning of every game with the help of a dice, ensuring that every game will be different and present unique challenges. The plinths also help in balancing the game, restricting the movement of Queens, Bishops and Rooks, while at the same time allowing Knights to land onto them and using them as defensive positions (as only an enemy Knight can take them while they’re there).

It is worth noting that game box also includes a normal chessboard and full rules for traditional chess, making it good to learn chess and allowing players to engage in this great classic as well as the innovative Shuuro.
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