Keepers: Games That I Will Never Trade
United States
Davis
California
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As I've discussed elsewhere, I'm more of a churner than a collector.

I often enjoy researching, acquiring, learning, and trying a game more than I enjoy owning it. (I currently own 165 games; I've previously owned 238.)

A game needs to offer something pretty special to earn a permanent spot in my collection (usually a strong blend of great gameplay, top notch physical production, niche fitness, and sentimental value).

I thought it would be helpful to have a list of the games that have made the grade (in part to remind myself not to trade them!).

I'll leave the list open, so feel free to discuss your own keepers.
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1. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:215]
United States
Davis
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This is easy to explain and play and goes up to six, meaning it fills an important niche for the game group. I always enjoy it. (And I've got the nice Avalon Hill edition pictured here!) It's sticking around.
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2. Board Game: Age of Industry [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:501]
United States
Davis
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This fits my tastes really well. It's an economic development game, with an important spatial element that isn't brain burning and doesn't outstay its welcome. I really love the way you need to use other people's resources to build stuff, but doing so helps make their businesses profitable. The card play keeps it from being too deterministic, which keeps down AP. The expansion maps really add a lot of replayability too. I can't wait to get Klode's expansion maps (though I'm going to need a bigger box).
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3. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:225]
United States
Davis
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Although this game is too long to see more than occasional play, it's a really enjoyable romp. There's tons of opportunities for cleverness and nastiness and surprise. It's also very thematic, which is nice as I'm a fan of the book. Plus I've got an amazing fully tricked out Ilya build. It's a contender for nicest looking game I own (along with Sekigahara, listed later):

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4. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:72]
United States
Davis
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This was the first imported German game that I bought, way back in 1997. It's the original Hans im Gluck edition.

I'd just started being interested in the hobby and had read great things about it on the Game Cabinet, Westbank Gamers, and elsewhere. It didn't disappoint. E&T offers a wonderfully interactive spatial contest, with opportunities for clever, brutal play. And the components are top-notch.

I'll never let it go.
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5. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:253]
United States
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I was first drawn to the great looking box cover (shallow me). Then I read about the hybrid deck-building & strategic expansion game play and had to have it. Snow has the advantage of being a "wargame" that my wife enjoys, which are few and far between -- probably in part because our plays have more often centered on developing settlements than war. (Though the threat of raids or attacks always adds a nice layer of anxiety; sometimes with good reason!).

I'm convinced that the Hammer exploit exists, but I've never seen it and have no interest in learning how it's done, so that hasn't been a problem for us. Great game!
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6. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:113]
United States
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This one rests uneasily on the list. I love the game play. The cut and thrust involved in placing your tokens is great fun for me. I also really like the tech development aspect, which is handled brilliantly with the player boards. The muted graphic design is handsome and doesn't intrude. It's a great package. The only thing that injects a bit of wobble is the crappy two-player experience. Despite that, I fully expect to keep this one for the duration, for those times I get to play with more than two.
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7. Board Game: London (first edition) [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:277]
United States
Davis
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I really enjoy the flow of London. Acquiring cards; playing them to the tableau; running the city; building on the map. It's interesting and flavorful (I love the historicity of the card art and the ages). And it plays very well with two, with a couple of tweaks (no duplicate cards in tableau; sell a borough to an imaginary third player whenever the discard array flushes). An excellent, solid, fun game.
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8. Board Game: San Marco [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:551]
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It's a good game, with an interesting core mechanism (I divide, you choose). The game play alone wouldn't be enough to earn a place on this list, but I've got sentimental attachment as well. I owned the game years ago and then traded it (before it became rare and valuable). A few years back we took a family vacation that included a couple of days in Venice. We were generally blown away and I remember thinking "the bridges look just like the ones in San Marco." Duh. But it reignited my interest and I scoured the internet for a copy. I finally found one in some weird Canadian Craigslist-type thing for $20 shipped. I can't let it go, I'd never see it again.

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9. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:142]
United States
Davis
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When I first saw images of the game on the front page, I thought "what the hell is that?!" Big chunky wooden blocks with beautifully understated Japanese heraldry stickers. Really nice looking map. Big handsome cards. It was by far the best looking wargame I'd ever seen. I was smitten.

Then I dug into the forums and comments and I grew increasingly excited by the description of the card-driven mechanics.

It's the only game that I've ordered the same day that I heard of it.

I've only played once (so far!), but it confirmed my hopes for the game play. Tense, fun, uncertain, interesting. There's no way I'll ever let this one go. I need to play it again!
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10. Board Game: Taluva [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:423]
United States
Davis
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Just a beautiful, tight little gem of a three-dimensional multi-player abstract. Quick to explain and play. Perfection in its niche.
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11. Board Game: War of the Ring (Second Edition) [Average Rating:8.40 Overall Rank:12]
United States
Davis
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Amazingly thematic fun two-player contest. I first read the trilogy in the fifth grade, and have read it at least four times since. If you're an LotR geek you need to play this game. It feels like a retelling of the novels (with different results); combining the epic sweep of grand strategy with the personal struggle of the Fellowship clawing its way toward Doom. Beautiful bits too (especially once I've finished painting the minis.) A dense, flavorful, wonderful thing.
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12. Family: 18xx
United States
Davis
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This is an entry for the 18xx family. While the individual titles in that series may flow in and out of my collection, I'm certain that there will always be an irreducible minimum.

The games present the richest implementation of share owning gameplay I've experienced, combined with a fun tile-laying network-building component that drives the value of the companies. They're not nearly as hard as their reputation suggests; though they do run pretty long (2-3 hours minimum, for the shortest titles).

I also like the availability of high quality print and play kits. I've always enjoyed crafting things, and building an 18xx has the added advantage of producing a great game. I don't appreciate the limited availability of most of the 18xx titles. Waiting two years to pay $100+ for a pnp copy of a game is a real shame. Let's hope for more releases from Mayfair, Lookout, and other mainstream publishers!
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