This is the first 10 of my life
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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I first dipped my toes in the world of board games many years ago and was excited by the range of games I'd been missing out on but for some reason never ventured further into those waters. In the last 6 months that changed when I decided to dive in head first try and play as many games as I can, as often as I can.

I've become obsessed. It is still early days but I've decided for my first geeklist it would be nice to record my introduction to the world of games which might resonate with some of you and possibly even help others new to the hobby.

You may notice I rate the games fairly well and overall I think I've done quite well with my collection so far, thanks mostly to all the helpful reviews on BGG. My recommendations or hesitations can be listed alongside each purchase.

Feel free to chime in if you think a newbie to the hobby might benefit from a different approach. Also if you see your thoughts on games matching my own then maybe we should be geekbuddies, I'm still to really take advantage of this feature but could be great in helping me with those future purchases.
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1. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:13]
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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Where It Really Started

I'd actually played several Eurogames before having attended a couple of sessions of a board game club when at Uni, however, it was a couple of days spent playing Catan with friends over Christmas that re-invigorated my interest. I found BGG and was excited by the wealth of games on offer. I needed something that would play well with 2 and wasn't too expensive. In BGG ratings I trusted and simply looked down the list for highly rated games and saw how affordable they were. I was not disappointed. It took a couple of days before we had an evening free but when the chance arose my partner and I sat down and watched a very useful tutorial video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwZIfooUBqA) went upstairs sat on our new carpets and got gaming. After about 10 minutes we were well in the flow, reading up on all the yellows, seeing combo potentials. After another hour or so we were finished with her winning. My partner, who was being entirely led into this by me, pronounced "I could play that every evening".

This is still our favourite game to play together. Some people complain about component quality, it is not the best but I'm very glad because I might never have picked it up if it wasn't for the reasonable price.

Rating: (9/10)

Recommendation: If you have a partner with whom you might be gaming I think this is a great choice. Nice also if you have another couple round who are ready to learn a more complicated looking game. Despite there being a winner at the end it does feel more like you are playing with the other player(s) rather than against them. It can appear intimidating with all the things to learn, but if you are patient and get to grips with the 'Euroglyphs' it is a breeze. Maybe play a couple of other games first, then get this.
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2. Board Game: The Resistance: Avalon [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:86]
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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Party Time

Now with The Castles of Burgundy I thought I'd found a great game for a quiet evening of gaming but what about larger groups? Well this was the next reasonably priced and highly rated game on BGG. This was probably a bigger gamble for me in that I read a lot on how good the game was but it is going to very much rely on those playing it and I knew I'd be introducing this to non-gamer friends.

Well, because of the higher player count it took a little while to hit the table. When it did was when I had a bunch of colleagues round for an evening. Everyone was a little reluctant when it did, adults playing some fantasy game with wizards? I'd watched a review before that had a rules summary but had never played it myself so was very glad at how straight forward it was. Didn't want 7 people waiting as I bumbled through the rulebook. As soon as people got the idea we were away. Laughing, chucking around accusations and even sending texts to trade messages. As people joined the evening we went up to the full 10 and I was very happy that I'd made this purchase. In some way I'm not crazy about it as a game but the social environment it enables is great. I've played it with other groups and had some excellent nights. Really look forward to trying to bring this out with my family some time.

Rating: (7.5/10)

Recommendation: Try this type of game first, or think about whether you and your game group mind bluffing/lying games. I'm very glad to have a game that goes to this player count and one that can be played easily in a more boisterous social situation, however, I've noticed some people cannot get into this game. They find the deception, the dishonesty and accusatory nature required to play this game to be uncomfortable.
 
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3. Board Game: Strozzi [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1731]
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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The Gamble

Much like some of the bidding in the game, this one was a gamble. However, it was a very small stakes gamble.

Now I'd studied up on BGG, the board game section in The Works (a discount book shop in the UK) had all kinds of new intrigue. All these bargain games but how would I know which were good? I am also quite limited on space in the house so should really be choosing carefully. Then I found one copy of this game dropped behind some art supplies and listed for £3. I recognised that it was by a designer of some acclaim and took the risk (turned out it only cost £2). It was totally worth it. The game has a good player range (3-6) and is very simple to learn and score but plays as just a series of tough decisions. While I don't think I could play it too often it is nice to bring out once in a while, especially with newer gamers.

Incidentally the first time I played this led to a discussion from some close friends on how fond they were of Naples, my partner and I found cheap flights/accommodation and booked a holiday there the for the following month.

Rating: (6.5/10)

Recommendation: For this game specifically, if you're new to the hobby and see it cheap then give it a go. Easy to play/teach, short playing time but still agonising decisions. A great thing about it is the balance, everybody feels they have a chance of winning and scoring is secret until the end. This can also be seen as an issue with the game because it is so balanced it is difficult to play especially well.

As for buying well priced games you don't know about, depends if you hoard or not. A game at a great price is still not worth it if it doesn't get played. If you like the look of it and you know you will never regret the price you paid then give it a shot, might be in for a wee treat.
 
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4. Board Game: Priests of Ra [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:1579]
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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The Misfire..?

I'd wanted to buy one of the £10 games from The Works. I'd narrowed it down to: La Citta, Taj Mahal and this game, Priests or Ra (others I'd ignored were Sylla, Felinia, Palazzo and Black Friday). After reading reviews of Ra and Taj Mahal I'd decided to add one big Knizia to my collection. I really liked the look of the components to Taj, but my partner preferred the Egyptian theme and I thought it would be a safer bet to get a game that played 2.

Played it with a few non-gamers. One looked distinctly bored throughout and I think the other two, along with myself enjoyed it a fair bit. The tension in bidding is good (and I think the bidding system itself is ingenious) but it was quite difficult to actually figure out how the end scoring was going to play into it with so many different things going on.

Tried with just my partner and she found it a little dull, but bidding just isn't as exciting with 2 players. Tried with another group of non-gamers and again end scoring was too confusing. I thought this game was done and have been interested in trading it to make better use of that precious cupboard space but last weekend had a chance to play this with some gamers and we had quite a lot of fun, forcing early bids to screw each other over.

Although I'm still not sure about this one it does remind me to limit the rate at which I purchase new games because there might be plenty more to the games you already own which is waiting to be discovered.

Rating: (7/10)

Recommendation: Generally no and, even though the rules are simply and it is nicely social, wouldn't recommend using it to introduce those new to the hobby. If you like bidding then yes, I've not seen a better bidding mechanic in a game. I think you need a whole game to really get to grips with how to balance the push your luck, and recognise the value of pieces for set collection so if you have a consistent group willing to give it a few games (and it can play quite quickly when everyone knows what their doing) then I think you could become a fun and regular part of your game line up.
 
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5. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:217]
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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The Filler

It was difficult to spend much time on BGG without somebody mentioning this. If people talked about games nights they were kicking it off with Love Letter or slipping it in as a filler. The high rating/low price ratio was great and I liked the idea of its portability and speed of play.

It delivers on all those fronts. It almost perfectly encapsulates the title of 'filler'. I'm not a big fan because I feel there isn't a great deal of game in there and zero strategy but it is started and over quickly enough that you enjoy it for the time it lasts.

It does feel odd to say it for this game but I did feel it dragged a bit and so prefer to play with fewer tokens or use the Batman rule for grabbing a token when you eliminate someone. Very easy to teach, takes up very little space and fits in your pocket.

Rating: (6/10)

Recommendation: I'm not a big fan but think that so many people are that I'd recommend it in your collection. I also don't regret buying it all and can see situations in which I may even suggest it. It absolutely does what it sets out to do and is quite an achievement for 16 cards. Price, portability and simplicity mean you are unlikely to regret this purchase.
 
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6. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:319]
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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The Workhorse

A lot of people talked about this as a bit of a classic in board gaming. Has everything that someone new to the hobby should want:
High rating, reasonable play time, simple rules, low price, small package, great replayability, low cost.

It arrived at a good time, just before I had a friend over for the weekend and we had fun playing this 3 players, because you get two characters each nobody gets screwed too badly and the whole thing takes about 35 minutes. I've played several 2 player and 3 player games and enjoy it as a 3 player most. I've had only one game at the full 8 player count and think it held up well, it is difficult to get a non-party game to play at that count so I'm always glad to have this on standby.

It is never really my 'go-to' game but over time I can see this slowly gathering more plays and I think ultimately it will be a purchase that I'm happy to have made, especially with the bundled expansion meaning I can see this getting a steady trickle of plays over the years without ever becoming tired.

Rating: (7/10)

Recommendation: Yes. If you, and your game group, like the theme then it is definitely a good purchase. Simple to learn and play but would take a lot of plays to get stale. The flexible player count and small box makes it perfect for chucking in your bag for gaming meet-ups when you might not have time for a big game or want to play with a larger group.
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7. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:69]
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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The Perfect 10

I think this game is a masterpiece. Although I'd played relatively few different board games at this point, my extensive BGG research had often led me to this one. It appeals to me greatly, the setting, the tension, epic scope that could be set-up, played and torn down within a couple of hours. Kingdoms would rise and fall, wars waged, great monuments erected and a victor proclaimed all within a couple of hours. Unfortunately, this was no longer in print (this was before the new FF edition) and was fairly rare and rather pricey from what I could see. Another barrier was knowing this was unlikely to be a game that would appeal to my partner because of the more abstract nature and strong element of conflict in the game.

When I saw the dutch version going for a decent price on ebay I couldn't resist. It arrived to my work a few days later... I rushed it home through the rain... opened it all out...and then put in on the shelf, where it sat for more than a month. This was new to me, my collection still small and everything got played soon after purchase but I couldn't find opponents or time. When the time finally did arrive (four players at my gaming group) I had learnt all the rules and watched several tutorials. Everybody picked it up fairly quickly and we had a great game. Instantly it was a favourite. The simplicity of the rules contrasts starkly to the complexity of the emergent game play fantastically. People didn't struggle to understand how to play, just how to play well. Importantly the game is fun.

I've only managed to get one more play in since then (people are intimidated by the idea of the game or want to play something newer and more colourful looking) but am always looking forward to my next play.

Rating: (10/10)

Recommendation: Despite my high praise for this game I'm unlikely to suggest someone new to the hobby adds it to their collection. By all means play it if you get the chance. I also think this is a good game to introduce the hobby to people who have a background in playing Chess or other abstracts.
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8. Board Game: Jaipur [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:105]
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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For couples, for the backpack, for holiday

I wasn't sure about this, the price was relatively high for a card game and it only allowed for 2 players, not quite the versatility of 2-8 players I was getting with Citadels which came in a box the same size. It was one of the games where the components and art really appealed to me along with all those glowing reviews and it's ubiquitous nature on the games for couples/games for two threads I took the chance and chucked this in the basket too.

I cracked this one out for a game with my girlfriend before we went on holiday (the trip to Naples inspired by Strozzi) and it was fairly well recieved. I enjoyed it but had some concerns about it being a little light, and that I'd get bored of it too quickly. It was when we were on holiday it really clicked. We played at least one game a day and together developed a sort of metagame as we tried different approaches (camel rushes, hoarding camels, going only for high value goods, skimming goods etc.). It is a great game for couples; gentle in nature, good mix of luck/skill, can be played quickly and takes up little space. Ideal for taking on holiday. I have gone off it a little, not that I think any less of the game, it still holds up, just happy to take a break from playing it though I'm sure there are situations where it will come out again.

Rating: (7.5/10)

Recommendation: If you are new to the hobby or want to play with someone who is only interested more casually in gaming this is good. If you have one person you are going to play with frequently it is great game to have.
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9. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:276]
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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Blown Away

I was not immediately blown away by Hanabi. It was not the sort of game that appeals to me particularly, somewhat social largely abstract card game. However some review here were superlative in their praise, and it did win the Spiel des Jahres, but that is often more family type games. I like deep strategic games for adults but at 5 Euro and in a tiny box it was worth a punt. First game was fun, played with some colleagues. We all struggled to adhere the rules and I found it interesting. I played with my partner, she saw some merit in the game but didn't really find it enjoyable to play. She said it was too stressful. Something that seems surprising for a light game family-friendly game, but there is so much in there. So much game. I've played this with various groups and the tension when you play properly is thick in the air, the sinking heart as their hand hovers over the wrong card, the elation when they 'got' what you were trying to do, the sheer joy of working together - there is so much to this game.

I think that a lot of this game is about non-verbal communication, trying to get inside each others heads to see as others do, understand their motives or how they will read your intentions. The design is possibly the most elegant that I have seen: very simple to play, few, simple components and so much game.

Rating: (10/10)

Recommendation: Yes. I think it's fantastic and if I had to recommend one gaming experience to non-gamers it would be this. Short play time, easy rules, elegant design, a unique playing experience and a lot of fun.
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10. Board Game: Bohn To Be Wild! [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:3709]
Mandela FG
United Kingdom
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A Classic

The bean game. For those who aren't aware this version listed is an anniversary edition of the Uwe Rosenberg classic Bohnanza. I'd played this a long time ago, my partner really enjoyed it and it went down very well with a non-gamer crowd. Great amount of social interaction, cutting deals without feeling nasty to one another (though it can be played that way). Easy to play while having some drinks.

This version makes a big improvement on the 2-player game and adds a variant of some additional rules. I've played over 20 games of this and still not used the variant but will give it a try sometime. It also plays 1-7 players which is great. There is no fiddling about, just take the one deck of cards out the box and get going. The value you get for this game is great, like I said 20+ games of it so far and non-gamer friends (and gamer friends) request it frequently. There are now many games in the Bohnanza series and I think this is probably the definitive version, however, there is one problem...the art. Some may find the art on this version to be offensive as the beans associated with ethnic groups are depicted in a very stereotyped fashion. Interestingly I've played it with people from all the ethnic groups shown (except Jamaica) and they found it amusing but not offensive, however, these were all friends and there would be circumstances I would be embarrassed if somebody saw the cards.

Rating: (8/10)

Recommendation: Yes. I would say having a copy of Bohnanza is great idea for any budding gamer. If you like a bit of trading and social interaction you will get your money's worth. This version is a great package but really do be wary of the art. If you feel uncomfortable with it, there is no point in you owning this version as it won't get to the table.
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