Living list: Unplayed games
Jonathan Harrison
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Companion list to Living list: Unplayed wargames.

Inspired by Shane Larsen’s list.

Until the kids (1, 2, and 3 years old) get older, games that require 4 or 5 players are very unlikely to get played. We can get 3 players together easily, but it’s almost impossible for us to get more than that.

As I get games played, I’ll move the game entry, and any comments to the entry, whether mine or others’s, over to Living list: Played games.
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1. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:246]
Jonathan Harrison
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It’s a terrible shame that the grail Avalon Hill game based on my favorite book probably will not be played for 9 more years, when my two oldest children are 11 and 12. And that will only be if my regular nonwife gaming partner still lives in the area.

But own it I do—Ilya’s beautiful re-illustrating of the entire game. It’s so beautiful I just take it out and look at it sometimes. I’ve replaced the board with a Zazzle poster of the same map, larger and under plexiglas.

It’s possible that after more than a decade of dreaming and my love for the book, this game may not live up to my expectations. But I think it will. The world of Arrakis is so real to me in any case that I think it must. So many decades of admiring fans aren’t wrong about the quality of the game underneath, surely.

I love politics (so I love the book), and this game’s shifting alliances and faction-specific victory conditions put Dune at the pinnacle of games I simply can’t pass up.
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2. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:258]
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The third official member of Uwe Rosenberg’s Harvest Trilogy, and the one I fully expect to like least. But I couldn’t resist finally getting it anyway. I love a good Rosenberg game, which is why I also own Ora et Labora. I get the impression this is mathier than I prefer (I don’t prefer games to be about accumulating money, I have enough of that in real life), but it has such a charming box, bits, and pedigree that when I found it for $20, I couldn’t say no. Besides, the girl on the cover looks just enough like Maho Minami to give me a good vibe about the whole thing.
 
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3. Board Game: Blue Moon City [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:553]
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Though I haven’t yet played this I feel more conflicted about this game than perhaps any I own. I get the feeling that it won’t push my buttons right, that it will end up being something that I feel blah about. At the same time I think my wife may end up liking it.

Perhaps it’s partly my aversion to the whole Blue Moon universe; perhaps it’s the comments I read about the game. And yet it was other comments that tipped me over into buying this. Perhaps it was a weak moment, or I’ve forgotten now what I expected then by buying it, and will be pleasantly surprised when we actually play.

I was hopeful enough about it to import the mini-expansions, so that is encouraging in its own way. Guess we’ll see ...
 
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4. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:588]
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Every time I think of Cribbage, I think of White Fang. I’m curious to play now just to see whether it’s how I imagined it as a child.
 
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5. Board Game: Tumblin-Dice [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:639]
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I weep when I think how many times I’ve tried to be taken by dexterity games. So many that I’m slightly jaded.

But not jaded enough to not buy this for $50. I must say: it seems as if it really will be silly fun for those I enjoy having silly fun with. There is certain mood in which our group doesn’t mind wild randomness and unskilled play of games that require finely honed skills; it’s the mood we are perpetually playing Crokinole in. And where PitchCar fell horribly flat (for me, at least) and never produced the fever pitch of excitement I want from a dexterity game, I am harboring some small hopes that Tumblin’ Dice will.
 
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6. Board Game: Zendo [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:724]
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I guess you could say everybody owns this. There is no way it’s getting played until my kids get older, though. I didn’t get to my regular gaming partners soon enough to train them up to like this sort of thing.
 
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7. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:799]
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We’ve actually played this before, three times, several years ago, but nobody had any idea what they were doing, nobody had any idea what they had done after we finished, and we tried deckbuilding in our second game, one of the worst gaming decisions I’ve ever made.

Years later, (a) having played original Netrunner heavily and (b) watched (most) of the HBO series before dropping out entirely to quick-scan the synopsis of the books to date, and having (c) built Dave Kudzma’s six balanced house decks (Baratheon, Greyjoy, Greyjoy (2-player replacement), Lannister, Lannister (2-player replacement), Martell, Stark, Targaryen), I feel up to trying again, and my wife is now eager to.
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8. Board Game: Ad Astra [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:1009]
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I hear from my geekbuddies that this is everything Settlers of Catan should have been, and that makes me excited to play it. It needs 3, or I’d have had it on the table with my wife already. We’ve been in a recent trick-taking binge on our 3-player nights, so haven’t got around to this yet. And it’s Bruno Faidutti: that alone interests me.
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9. Board Game: Backgammon [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1176]
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Never had any real interest otherwise, but I remember my father owning a set and that makes me want to play (he died when I was young).
 
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10. Board Game: Cube Quest [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1402]
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This is arriving this Friday, and I hope to get it to the table as soon as possible.

I’ve carried on a tortured love affair with dexterity games, never being satisfied by them, always searching for the one that will finally measure up to my expectations. I’ve even designed a dexterity game myself in an attempt to suit myself (it does).

Ascending Empires, a game I love dearly, is as close to the dexterity ideal as I’ve encountered in a commercially released game. I admit to being entirely unenthralled with Crokinole even as I save up for a Willard Pro after having played 133 games on my $10 thrift shop board. I admit to putting out feelers for a Hamertjesspel board.

But I really think Cube Quest will be a good one. I have high hopes at the very least. Flicking with a purpose is what I’m all about, and this sounds like it reaches Ascending Empires levels of that.

So this week or next—we’ll see.
 
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11. Board Game: The Awful Green Things From Outer Space [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1755]
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The original TSR magazine edition. The only reason I haven’t played this yet is that I need to sit down and hand-cut the counters first. I know it’s the furthest thing from a well-oiled euro, but if it’s done right that’s exactly what I love. If it channels the same spirit of play that original Wiz War does, I'll be well satisfied.
 
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12. Board Game: The Dwarf King [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1931]
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As soon as we cycle back to trick-taking games, this is hitting the table. It’s everything I’d expect from a Bruno Faidutti trick-taker. The rules are anything but complex, and it will never be as deep as, say, Sticheln or , but I’m pumped after reading the rules. I’m almost absurdly pleased by the widely varying victory conditions on the scoring tiles.
 
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13. Board Game: String Railway [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2132]
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I know it’s not the deepest game out there. But my crippling weakness for things kawaii meant that I would end up getting this sooner or later. It’s as kawaii as a train game is likely to get for some time, and just seeing the shoelaces was like drilling a hole in my wallet.

I rationalize this by telling myself it will be perfect to play with the kids when they get a little older: and it will. I have no doubt we’ll all enjoy it. It’s no Age of Steam, but I already have that so it’s just as well I’m not doubling up.

And there’s something about the game’s mechanisms that makes me think it’s got a little more to it than some say. It’s the same way I feel about Tokaido, but obviously I’m predisposed toward that game as well.
 
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14. Board Game: Breaking Away [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:2237]
 
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Believe it or not, this game stays on the shelf until I can build a 3′×4′ three-dimensional papier-mâché model of the 2003 Vuelta a España, so I can play as Pepe Benengeli. Planning is complete, but the actual making has been intimidating me for about a year.
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15. Board Game: Bargain Hunter [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:2314]
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I have a special section of my collection for trick-taking games. Anything that takes a different tack, that adds a new layer or goes a different direction—it’s an instabuy. The deeper the better.

And I’m a fan of Uwe Rosenberg, so this was an easy buy when I found the original German edition.
 
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16. Board Game: Pacific Typhoon [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2517]
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Pacific Typhoon can be played with fewer than 5 players, but based on what I’ve read about the game I’m holding out for 5 nevertheless.

When I was introduced to Pacific Typhoon, the concept seemed suspect; when I read about it, it seemed like brillance. I’ve never been into theming trick-taking games, but the conceit of leading a battle at day or at night, then fighting it out in tricks using units available in that theater and year, choosing sides throughout the games to create a larger narrative comprising the ebb and flow of available forces—that grips me enough that I’m waiting to play with 5 to get the best experience out of it.
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17. Board Game: The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:2764]
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I hold out almost zero hope for this ever working, with the possible exception of someday with my kids after I’ve raised them right.

But I’m happy to own it just for the reading pleasure, and to reward whoever had the brass to put this together totally unabashed.
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18. Board Game: Cosmic Eidex [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:2845]
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Yet another victim of our recent trick-taking binge. And it’s complex enough (reading the rules reminds me of Skat) that it almost certainly won’t be first back on our list when we hit another round of trick-taking; everyone still has memories of my wife learning Skat on an evening when she was already tired. I’ve rarely been more impressed by her, but no one wants to repeat the experience soon. On the other hand, it may be that that will prepare us for an easy step into Cosmic Eidex. After you’ve learned how to play Skat and , you can learn how to play anything.

Since it will be a billion years before I raise enough children to get a game of Cosmic Encounter going, this is meant to be somewhat of a stand-in based on BGG comments.
 
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19. Board Game: Barbarossa [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:2871] [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked]
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I own an excellent Valkyria Chronicles fan retheme that means this game can get played in my house. I’m glad to not lose the Japanese-style art, and equally happy to be able to play this particular child of Dominion.
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20. Board Game: Ninety-Nine [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:2957]
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More trick-taking goodness! I must say that after reading the rules to this game I’m entirely taken. If we hadn’t just come off a trick-taking binge that included Sticheln and Skat, I’d be suggesting this one any week now. I confess to a piercing weakness for games that let you set your own victory conditions.
 
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21. Board Game: Bolide [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2994]
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Before I bought Bolide, I was thinking this would be a quick-playing game. But now, reading people’s comments, it sounds as if it will take some time to play a full game. I hope that’s not the case. With a few exceptions, racing games deserve to be played quickly. That’s the drawback to how infrequently we play Circvs Maximvs: if it played more quickly, we’d play more often; if we played more often, it would play more quickly.

I hope Bolide doesn’t suffer a similar fate, because it really does seem to be the racing game I’ve been looking for: the self-torment of my love for racing games is rivaled only by my relationship with dexterity games. And yes, I designed a racing game to try to address that.

But although it is a true racing game, I don’t mean to address the niche that Bolide does: I hope Bolide will be sufficient unto itself.
 
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22. Board Game: Chase [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:3906]
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After reading the description of this game, I fell in love with the idea. My regular nonwife gaming partner won’t touch abstracts, but Jane will play this with me. I think she secretly likes abstracts. The die splitting mechanism fascinated me when I read it.
 
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23. Board Game: FlowerFall [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:4296]
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I have no doubt I won’t be playing this one until my kids are old enough (a couple years?): it’s unlikely to be either my wife’s or Jesse’s cup of tea. I like to think I have a more open mind than they have.

 
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24. Board Game: Hattrick [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:4494]
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If this is anywhere near as good as Sticheln, I will love this. And anybody who (a) designs Sticheln and (b) includes extra cards for Hattrick in the Sticheln box deserves a free blind play. Unfortunately, it needs 4 players, which means it may be a while before we play this.
 
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25. Board Game: Pass the Pandas [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:10505]
Jonathan Harrison
United States
Fisher
Illinois
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So long ...
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... and thanks for all the fish.
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This is entirely a purchase based on my youngest son’s wholehearted love for panda bears. I’m trusting that the Prince of Panda Kopanda will accept this game to his 2-year-old bosom as soon as he sees the dice.
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