Dear Secret Santa (2014 Edition)...
Ken Shogren
United States
Rochester
Michigan
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Dear Secret Santa,

I've got too many games... I know. And I really don't need any more games. But I am still very interested in games. And specifically, I'm interested in games about unusual, off-beat, or odd subjects or places... Or games from unusual, off-beat or odd places... Or games created by unusual, off-beat, or odd designers... or... Oh, let's be honest, what the heck does that really mean anyway? I, for sure, don't know.

Okay, so I have a bit of problem defining wishes and wants. You could look at my wish list... but if you've gotten here, you likely already know why that may not help much. Or you could look at my collection. But you'll likely find no rhyme and certainly no reason there. Or you could look at my game ratings for clues... But if you figure out what makes a game work for me from that jumble of numbers, please be sure to let me know! So what's a Santa to do?

Fear not! I've crafted this little GeekList of items to consider... or at least draw inspiration from. I'm not saying these are all titles I would love to get. While that is true for many (and probably all) of them, I wouldn't say I want these over those - if you get my meaning. So take a read through my comments on each item below and perhaps one will strike you as just right or send you on your merry way toward something not on my list at all. In the end, surprise me*.

And I've opened up this list for all your little elf helpers to contribute what they think would be "interesting" too.

It's a big world out there. I'm sure there are games there.

- Me


* : Surprise me in a good way, that is. Don't taint me forever by trying to surprise me with a copy of Dominion. For that would be beyond cruel. You could pick a dozen of the worst games created, wrap them in moldy paper, and send them packed with fermented fish guts and I would gladly try them at least once provided I never have to play Dominion. But send me Dominion and I'll get every elf to tattoo GRINCH on you in places no elf should ever go. So no Dominion... that one is permanently on my NEPAIRMIT (Never Ever Purchase And I Really Mean It Too) list.
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1. Board Game: 011 [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:4748]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
Michigan
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This looks like a highly polished odd duck. I can't say I'm a fan of the music, but I don't find it distasteful. And the theme on this is perfectly fine. I could imagine this game turning a few heads. And I think it would require a soundtrack to be played with it.
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2. Board Game: Offerings [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:4163]
Ken Shogren
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Games are a means to safely explore unusual concepts. So why not a little exploration into the idea of sacrifices. Okay, so this isn't Mayan or such, but the idea of building up a sacrifice qualifies as unusual, right?
 
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3. Board Game: Lap Dance [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:9144]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
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The socially inappropriate is ideal for the socially inept. Game subjects should be carefree and without fear of societal judgement. What's wrong with a little risque subject matter? This one even caters to all genders and orientations. It's a one game pleases all.

Important Update: I found out this isn't quite available yet.. well, it's on Kickstarter and I've *gasp* backed it! I'm leaving it on this list for the purpose of the comments above.
 
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4. Board Game: Turandot [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:8320]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
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Games and opera seem like a natural pairing. And a game about singing opera just seems like the perfect backdrop to throw out am impromptu aria on unsuspecting players. If only I could sing better than a frog with laryngitis.
 
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5. Board Game: Veritas [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:7499]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
Michigan
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Why not a game about truths. Or at least about the truths that we should try to keep. Or that we claim because we kept them. Or because we understood them. Or someone else did. Or something.

This game took forever! to come out. In the end, did truth win out? Only play will tell.
 
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6. Board Game: The Enigma of Leonardo: Quintis Fontis [Average Rating:5.04 Unranked]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
Michigan
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Ah... the master Leonardo. Any game about him must be odd. And game about patterns should yield something interesting, right? Not sure, but it's worth trying these things.
 
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7. Board Game: Intrigue City [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:5724]
Ken Shogren
United States
Rochester
Michigan
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I like finding games from new publishers. Sometimes those games are bad... more the product of Author's Pride, but sometimes they are great little gems. This title is from a new publisher... or it was... or they were... and I think it deserves a chance. What do you think?

In fact, I think this could be a real overlooked gem. And the more I look at it, the more intrigued I am. There IS something in a name after all!
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8. Board Game: Tuk-Tuk Taxi [Average Rating:4.95 Overall Rank:14160]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
Michigan
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Sometimes I stumble over a game that seems like everyone should be interested. I look into it and find that no one is really talking it up. And I'm left thinking... really? Is it actually a bad game? Bad games generate lots of bad comments. Limited to no comments means... no one knows about the game. And that tends to make me think... I should try and find that one! Here's an older example of a game that came and went and very few commented. Okay a few commented, but still... Is it really just a mean kids game?
 
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9. Board Game: Enigma [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:2705]
Ken Shogren
United States
Rochester
Michigan
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Have you ever wondered how some games show up in some part of the world and get a footing, but never seem to find the next step? I'm wondering if this is one of those regional greats that somehow never got up from where it first landed. Do you know what happened?
 
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10. Board Game: City of Iron [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:833]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
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Games can be works that contain art or even be art. And sometimes, a little of both. Games should look good and effort spent to make them such means that I should take notice and maybe even get a copy for my games library.

Beautiful game? It seems so.
Good game? It seems so.

So why not try one?
 
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11. Board Game: Kanban: Driver's Edition [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:223]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
Michigan
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Game imitates life imitates game... The circle is complete, so which came first? There is but one way to find out.
 
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12. Board Game: Penny Press [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:2371]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
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I'm a fan of abstracts. There is beauty in a game that is distilled down to its absolute core. No fluff, no embellishments, nothing, nada, zilch...

What does that have to do with this game? Well... absolute not one thing. Because I also really like games that set theme up front and center. Games can be great for learning about history and things we might not explore if not compressed down to < 60 minutes and made to look like play. And so... highly thematic games that are actually quite narrowly focused on a specific idea / period / event / concept - those neat thematic games that distill the subject down to the absolute core... well they are the other side of the game scales that I am also a fan of.
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13. RPG Item: Hamlet's Hit Points [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:1431]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
Michigan
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Sometimes I think it would be nice to play an RPG again. To lavish in a world of my creation with characters of interest and interesting characters too. To explore societies and ideas that are both foreign and yet so close to home.

And then I remember I have no friends that want to play an RPG and I think... maybe it would be nice if I could just come up with the right thing that would make them try.

And that's where this item comes in. Right from that 3rd seat in row G out there in the left field bleachers. Right there under the beer soaked concrete and mustard stained seat where that portal to the magical realm of dreams lies waiting for a visitor or a random foul ball.

What's that? You hear a scratching noise like the sound of childrens' fingers grinding into the stone walls? No, I don't think I heard any cries. And if I did, it definitely didn't sound like a strangled goat. Bah, let's just take a quick look down this hole and see what's there. I'm sure it'll be alright...
 
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14. RPG Item: Primetime Adventures (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:159]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
Michigan
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I'm not really an RPGer. But I play one on TV... or at least a TV show that exists in this game about making a TV show about RPG players who are really actors who pretend to be RPGers and are secretly being filmed for a reality TV show...


that is a game...

on TV...

I think.
 
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15. Board Game: Aether Captains [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:7832]
Ken Shogren
United States
Rochester
Michigan
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So not every new game is one that comes off the printing press of the boardgame factories. Sometimes a game is a labor of love. And I'm just as inclined to go for something like this as anything.

This particular title is one that strikes me as one that probably should have been printed professionally. Maybe someday it will.
 
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16. Board Game: Seven Swords [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:9532]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
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When someone creates a classic, it is destined to spawn ideas and influence others. I'm reasonably sure that Ishikawa didn't envision a board game would spring from his classic tale (and he likely didn't think a western would either! but I digress...) BUT that is exactly what we have here. And perhaps when we try this game we will think fondly of the master film maker? I probably would. Even if the game were only so-so.
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17. Board Game: The Ravens of Thri Sahashri [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:1387]
Ken Shogren
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Rochester
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Sometimes its what's not in a game that makes it kind of interesting. Take this game of trying to communicate without being able to in the most effective way possible.
 
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18. Board Game: Tragedy Looper [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:510]
Ken Shogren
United States
Rochester
Michigan
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Stumbled on this one and thought it was the perfect kind of thing for me. Why? It's about time... no really. It's visually appealing and its an interesting theme. And given time, I might even get it to the table with like... real players! So Santa, what about this as an option?
 
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19. Board Game: Toscana [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:5576]
Ken Shogren
United States
Rochester
Michigan
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This is an example of a game done up in a unique style. It's hard to get a copy of this due to its Finnish origins, which is kind of sad that the rest of the world doesn't get a chance to give it a spin. This is the kind of off-beat title, local designer, etc that I mentioned way up at the top.
 
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20. Board Game: Takamatsu [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:7593]
Ken Shogren
United States
Rochester
Michigan
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If i had to pick game mechanics that almost always appeal to me... these would be the highest on my list...

1) Area control / Area Majority
2) Route Building
3) Pick Up & Delivery
4) Worker Placement

Yes, I know this makes me somewhat boring... which is perhaps why I look for so many odd games?
 
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21. Board Game: Circus Train (Second edition) [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:3022] [Average Rating:7.15 Unranked]
Ken Shogren
United States
Rochester
Michigan
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Dear Secret Santa...

You've made it this far, so let me congratulate you and wish you the best of luck in your next steps. May you have much fortune so that you may shower me with many games... err... umm... I mean... I have prepared a geek list to help you out with some possibilities and thought starters. Why a geeklist? Because my wishlist is a jumbled mess of random radar blips and UGOs (Unsorted/Unavailable Gaming Options). The list is there to help, but don't feel too limited by everything. I'm open to most games.

Audacon's 2014 Secret Santa List


Update: Thanks for the note Santa! Very nice to hear from you today (2014-11-18).


Update: I think I have received a gift from you today (2014-11-28). I say think because I don't recall ordering anything from the company on the label and because if it is from you... I will wait patiently for Christmas... which is oh so far away... before I open it to find out for sure. But assuming you did send it, I thought you'd like to know that it arrived and so... an early thank you! My curiosity is piqued.

Update: Oh Santa... I know you said I could open it early, but do I have to? Yours is almost assuredly the only game gift I will get this year and I'd kind of like a game for Christmas...

Update: Nicely done Santa. See my item in the Secret Santa list -> here. Thank you for the gift Santa.
 
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