Odd games I've played, A-Z
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Thought I'd make a list of some of the odder games I've played over the years. Oddity could come from the theme, the gameplay, or even the artwork. I love offbeat stuff: the guys that play at my place know I've got a basket of self-published ziplocks, low print run efforts, and a bevvy of games made with guts and hope and belief in their work. Some of them are close to brilliant, some close but not quite, and some magnificent failures. Some of them are not very exotic (like Gunslinger) but I find them unique in their own way anyway.

I hope some of you will seek out a few of these and also give them a try, to get these labors of love a few plays and fulfill their destiny.

Have some thoughts on these, or can you do better? Feel free to leave a comment.
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1. Board Game: Attack Vector: Tactical [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:4477]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Probably the single most detailed combat game I've played yet. It took three of use very experienced gamers a good half hour to figure out one of the moves involving a roll and shot as to where it would hit and if the targeting would work. An incredible amount of detail. I had to laugh when I saw Phil Eklund in the credits: that explained it all to me! The ship charts are amazing, and it was entertaining to finally manage to land a hit and end up taking out your opponent's cargo bay... Enjoyable critical hit tables. Playing a campaign game of this and attacking with a fleet must be a logistical nightmare.
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2. Board Game: Battle of the Halji [Average Rating:5.33 Overall Rank:13222]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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How does one describe this game? Well, you are a sentient algae held to the planet's surface by three feet. You control an array of gruesome creatures and try to use them to destroy the legs of your opponent. The planet surface is nasty, with sandstorms that scrape away skin and acid rain. The creatures catch bizarre diseases, vomiting up what they have eaten so they no longer can vast their special effects, they attempt to mate with opposing creatures, skin ailments, pus-spattering explosions. Yeah, the setting and game play are really, really weird. Love it.
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3. Board Game: Cave Evil [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:2166] [Average Rating:7.91 Unranked]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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The theme wins it for this one: you are a necromancer building a hoard of evil creatures in an underground maze trying to destroy the other players and perhaps the summoned evil overlord to win the game. Each card is unique, and there are a buttload, all white on black. The colors are all dark and done in a Gothic font that is no easy thing to read. The authors had a lot of audacity and really believed in what they were creating. The game is quite fun as well, and I was glad to find a leftover copy in Essen.

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This is a story book driven game, but with a number of plotlines, many cards, and really bizarre events. We have all died in many crazy ways: doused with oil and set alight by fanatics, poisoned and blind staggering randomly about, one turn away from reaching a doctor, falling from a balloon, eaten by rats... Fascinating how the game actually works.
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4. Board Game: Darkover [Average Rating:5.22 Overall Rank:14016]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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From the amazing minds of the Eon guys (Cosmic Encounter, Dune) this take on the Bradley books is nothing short of bizarre. You have mental fights (having to chant a stupid word until someone cracks and smiles), writing dares for people they must perform to maintain a benefit, and other odd things.
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5. Board Game: Erosion [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:5332]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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For the theme. You are a mountain. You try to grow as high as possible, and as you erode, you try to collect fossils and sludge in your own runoff plain.
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6. Board Game: Force [Average Rating:4.35 Unranked]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Played with a bunch of rubbery bands on a table with lots of holes, you use pegs to stretch the cords in wild orientations. then you take turns removing pegs, trying not to return to a single loop. Not much of a game but surprsing in taht it was actually made and sold.
 
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7. Board Game: Gunslinger [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:1544]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Segmenting a gunfight down to 0.6 second intervals. Pre-programming cards to allow a slow-motion playing out of very deadly gunfights. No Euro elements here: a single hit, and you could be dead, or bleeding so badly you only will last another couple rounds or so. A simulated 45 second fight could take over an hour to play. Hamblen is a genius.
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8. Board Game: The Hammer of Thor: The Game of Norse Mythology [Average Rating:4.97 Overall Rank:14230]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Talk about ambitious. Playable by 1 to 365 players (read the box!) the amount of research in the game is amazing. 365 different gods and goddesses, dwarves, giants, sacred cows, you name it, show up in the game. Tons of items, and a totally incomprehensible, let alone readable (silver on red??) map. The game as a game is really, really bad. I had mighty Thor getting his ass whupped by a damn owl. I had to search through a deck of about 200 items to find a girdle and sword, then found out the character fled immediately after. The map contained locations for travel to other games in the planned series, including Greek and Egyptian entry ports. Too bad they were never produced. A magnificent failure.

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This has to be mentioned. A game about the forming of elementary particles? Produced by a high energy physicist, it is not much of a game but given my background in the topic, I had to get something like this.
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9. Board Game: Insula [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:8590]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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A little more conventional as far as gameplay, but the art is really fantastical, the symbolism odd, and the gameplay quite different in its way. A semi-coop with one winner. Mine even came in a little bag. Much better than given credit for and stunningly unique in its presentation.
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10. Board Game: JAB: Realtime Boxing [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2775]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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I'm terrible at this game. Using two hands, you 'throw' punches at each other, grabbing special effects like knowckdowns if you get certain combinations, playing cards on yourself to block. Allows for different fighting styles, and, I gather, as you improve you can actually box better and generate different styles. I'm too slow to ever get good, but I admire the effort.
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11. Board Game: Konradin oder Interregnum [Average Rating:6.62 Unranked]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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A handdrawn map, potential victory conditions which cannot possibly be met by some of the players, a super-tight economy and really, really bad rules with a gorgeous presentation combine to make playing this both a challenge and an event.
 
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12. Board Game: Lankhmar [Average Rating:5.62 Overall Rank:12640]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Designed by Fritz Leiber himself- when do you ever see that? A totally incongruous game scale (arrows flying 90 miles or so) and lots of randomness make this a real museum piece. Quite a vinyl-like map and old school graphics. Lousy game, but I could not give it up.
 
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13. Board Game: Mad Monks and Relics [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:11867]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Very odd theme. You are a Monk, traveling dark Ages Europe looking for ancient tomes and clues to piece together the resting place of the Grail. Very atmospheric, with lots of ways to be killed: for heresy, plague, bandits. You search for and find relics like the bones of a saint or even the foreskin of Christ, although the illustration is quite tame. Lots of scholarship went into the game, one that is only for players of a certain type.
 
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14. Board Game: Nightmare House [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:11215]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Great idea: one player plays a demonically-possessed house, the others are investigators trying to rid it of the demons inside. played on two maps, the real world and the ethereal world. Marred by some of the worst rules in the history of rule writing, quite an interesting game if you can fight your way through them.
 
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15. Board Game: Origins: How We Became Human [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:2524]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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You want ambitious? How about all of human evolution and history in a four hour game? So many unique concepts. Takes a bit to get used to the terminology. Some people hate my rules, but the game is played by quite a few people who rave about it. A work in progress as Phil tries to combine it with Bios:Megafauna, and eventually to High Frontier. Maybe even to the forthcoming Bios:Genesis?
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16. Board Game: Pro Football Fantasm [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:9453]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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I love sports sims, but this is maybe the most involved one of them all. Even the offensive linemen are rated in like 12 different stats each! There are over 100 plays to choose from, and getting through a game can take several hours. But if you are a football fan, there is not a better way to get into the real feel of being on the gridiron than playing this one. Too bad there are only two seasons of cards available.
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17. Board Game: Quirks [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:5413]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Not such a wild one, but the Q's seemed pretty tame. Interesting take on evolution games where players have to try and guess how well a certain adaptation (like a fatty tail, tusks, or spiny ridge) will help in surviving in changing environmental conditions.
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18. Board Game: Reich: The Iron Dream of German Unification [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:11194]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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A nice map and indeterminate era depiction, the goal is to be sole ruler of Germany. You use event cards and deterministic combat to expand your realm. Make a mistake and things can go very south very fast. Tense game where you have several vital options but you can only select one. A lot of cat-and-mouse.

Tie:


Does this game have anything to do with Lord of the Rings? Not really. But it is fun with great illustrations. Back and forth playing of cards in efforts to control the One Ring and claim victory. You play both sides, trying to hide if you have the Ring or not while slowly sidling close enough to the goal to claim victory. Can be fast and furious. Have never seen the unauthorized original version, but have always wanted to have a look at it.
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19. Board Game: Symbioz [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:6072]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Symbioz is quite an interesting beast. Totally deterministic, played on a circular board. Uses three different creatures, Zerbs, Crapits and kroguls, with specific eating orders and reproduction methods. Try to grow your population and make claim to regions and form Symbiozes. Whimsical art and came with a packet of seeds with a contest: you were to pant the seeds, and if you could identify the plant that grew from the seeds, you could win a prize. Super-cool!

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This is here for the sheer audacity. This box weighs a TON. Dozens of dice, hundreds of hand-cut units, matchboxes for holding bribes, hand cut cards and coins. So much work, so much work. The game was designed with a 15 hour play time for six players. We are still working on scenarios but progress is slow. A labor of real love, wonderful to look at and fun to play but I've not yet gone to conclusion.
Save the President
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20. Board Game: Tenjo [Average Rating:5.04 Overall Rank:15195]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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A pretty bad game but what a try. A totally unique map, but what a mistake. Instead of representing feudal Japan, it looks like a star field. You have about a million different battle modifiers, but they end up adding to like +3 and then you roll a d20. It is possible to totally wipe out a superior opponent with a magic action while taking zero damage yourself. The authors really tried, but I'm afraid they failed.
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21. Board Game: Udder Madness [Average Rating:3.44 Unranked]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Cheap game with cheaper components. You are an alien trying to move around a map and tipping over rows of cows. Wild colors, silly concept.
 
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22. Board Game: VOC! Founding the Dutch East Indies Company [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:6170]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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The captain closes his eyes while the shipmates shout instructions (a number of instructions based on the number of sailors you have) and he draws a line representing the course of the ship. If you hit a land mass, the captain falls off and is replaced. Huh? But the game works and with the right crowd is a hoot and a holler. With the wrong crowd, it lands with a major splatting thud.
 
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23. Board Game: Wabbit Wampage [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:7506]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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For the theme. Remember Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck? Here they are, complete with Acme company to buy your rocket boots and Elmer Fudd characters to try and blow the wascally wabbits heads off. Even has a sequal.

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This for the battle system. The cover is really beautiful and the map is quite nice for a game this age. The units are round chits, quite odd in this, and the battle is totally decided by using a slide card in a holder, cross referencing with terrain type. A very interesting presentation and system.
 
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24. Board Game: YN [Average Rating:7.15 Unranked]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Not for the game play, but the presentation is so beautiful its worth leaving out on your table just to elicit comments from visitors.
 
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25. Board Game: Zoon [Average Rating:5.46 Overall Rank:13975]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Another unexceptional letter. Zoon was ambitious: a number of different decks with each deck a different 'race' of creatures, modeled on apes, lions, crocodiles or other creatures, which are laid out on an imaginary grid. Each creature has unique movement and the game is played a bit like Stratego, but with additional movement types and special cards. Not a bad game and the variety of decks kept it interesting for a time, but it did not last.
 
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