Games played before BGG
Eddy Sterckx
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Long time gamer, but I've only been logging my games here at BGG since 01/01/2012.

Every now and then a game gets mentioned in here to which I go "oh, I've played that one and completely forgot about it" - and promptly forget that game again.

If only there was a way to gather all those vague recollections into a list somehow ...
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1. Board Game: Long Cours [Average Rating:4.94 Overall Rank:14085]
Eddy Sterckx
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One of my favourite games when I was a kid - pick-up and deliver game where you made money sailing around, buying goods and selling them for a profit in another harbour. It had player vs player combat where you could steal another player's money and then there was the dreaded pirate which sunk your ship and then you were out of the game. Pretty sure we used some house-rules whereby you weren't totally eliminated.

Other players : my sister, uncle Albert, auntie Jacqueline
 
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2. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:421] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Eddy Sterckx
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When I was about 12 the youth section in the Weekend paper had a series of articles on how to play chess. I was very intrigued - I had heard about the game, but in those pre-internet days there was no way to learn more about it as all the books about chess in the local library were about opening moves and end-game play - I distinctly remember the author/chess grand master Max Euler. So I got myself a cheap plastic chess set and would anxiously wait a week for the next installment of the rules. Ever played a game of chess when you know only half the rules ? I did. Dragged my sister into it and made her play. After 8 installments/weeks the series ended and I finally knew how to play chess. I got some friends interested, taught them the game and one rainy summer we even organized a tournament with 5-6 players and a computer chess device on easy mode. The computer won and I came in 5th or so. I liked the game, but wasn't very good at it - a pattern I'd see more of in the future

Other players : my sister, Frank, Hugo, Peter, Luc, maybe Christine as well.

Update : two years ago, together with a group of friends, we rented a small castle in France for the weekend. It had a lovely custom-build chess table which attracted my attention. My wife was interested to learn the game so I taught her the rules and we played an unremarkable game I had even totally forgotten about it when I initially wrote this entry.
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3. Board Game: Bermuda Triangle [Average Rating:5.56 Overall Rank:12498]
Eddy Sterckx
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One of the few games my sister would always agree to play with me - she had a way to move/manipulate that magnetic cloud so her ships wouldn't get caught, but mine would. Arguments would ensue that were so intense that I can't recall any other players but the two of us - but there must have been.

Other players : my sister, other forgotten relatives and friends
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4. Board Game: Oh Hell! [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1892]
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I learned to play this game when I was 15 and immediately knew it was something special as this card game was widely played in our little village, but nowhere else. How a 1930's card game from Chicago ended up as a pub favourite in a small village in Flanders is anyone's guess, but it did.
30 years later and the group that taught me the game is still around and we still play it a couple of times a year. Too many funny moments to list them all but the funniest one happened decades ago when blindingly drunk one of my mates decided he'd go for 2 with only 1 card left. In his defense : it was the trump ace and he did see two of them ...

Other players : Maarten, Peter, Yves, Philippe, Vincent, Alex, Luc, Raf, Chris, ...
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5. Board Game: Checkers [Average Rating:4.85 Overall Rank:15419]
Eddy Sterckx
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One of the first games I learned as a kid - my grandmother taught it to me and it immediately caught my imagination. She very much liked to play it with me and I became pretty good at it .. I think, because I won my fair share of games and she wouldn't let me win just because I was a kid. Occasionally I could convince my sister to play it with me, but the majority of my games were between the two of us. After she passed away I never played the game again, not because it was "our" game or such, but other games had come along which I liked better.

Other players : my grandmother, my sister
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6. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.39 Overall Rank:15441]
Eddy Sterckx
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In the seventies not many adults were gamers, but my uncle Albert and auntie Jacqueline were - they had wonderful games you didn't see in the regular toy shops. On occasion me and my sister would spend a weekend at their place - that was before they had kids of their own - just playing games. They were probably glad to have 4 players around, even if it also meant playing a game of Monopoly. Ok, I admit it, I liked Monopoly as a kid. And when you play by the actual rules (which we did) it's still a good game that doesn't drag. And I was good at it, really good - up to the point where everyone else was starting to call me "Mr Amelinckx" after a well-known high-rise building/construction firm. When I later started to work for a bank my auntie laughed and said she always knew I would end up in a job handling money and mortgages

Other players : my sister, uncle Albert, auntie Jacqueline
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7. Board Game: Rise and Decline of the Third Reich [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1430]
Eddy Sterckx
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When I was 15 I changed schools and met my life-long buddy Phil who ran a little wargame club at school. Not Risk or Axis & Allies but real wargames from Avalon Hilll and SPI.

This happened to coincide with the opening of the first dedicated photocopy shop in town - b/w copies for 2.5 cents was pretty cheap so I made my first print & play game by photocopying the rules, setup cards and map of Third Reich. The counters I painstakingly made from the inside of a binder.

So whenever we felt like it I would take my bike and ride 15 miles to his place to play a couple of turns of Third Reich before the evening fell and I had to return home. And yes, I experienced the pain of seeing a standard 2-1 attack against Paris fail - a 1 in 36 chance - which in essence ended the game.

Other players : Phil - we never seemed to get anybody else to try this multi-player game with us


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8. Board Game: Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:476]
Eddy Sterckx
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So I had met Phil and learned about this strange new genre of games called wargames. I was a history buff and a gamer, so I dove in head first into this natural biotope. In those pre-internet days wargames from the USA were hard to acquire but Phil had this address of a little wargame store called "The Light Brigade" in a not-too-distant town (Sint-Niklaas). Later I learned that this was the only wargame shop *ever* to exist in this country.

The library had a big book with the street plans of every town and I drew a little map that would lead me from the train station to the shop. I had saved some money from summer jobs and one Saturday morning I took the train to that town. I was in grog heaven, though I hardly recognized any titles, as the only wargames I knew were those owned by Phil or those in ads from magazines he had.

So I knew Squad Leader from ads - and I knew this was the hot game because an article in a magazine had said so - so I got it - must have cost an arm and a leg but I didn't care. Played it to tatters, mostly solo, but also with Phil.

The other great discovery was that the box contained the AH catalogue of games - the one book I read more times in my life than anything else. I still pick it up on occasion and leaf through it.

Other players : Phil

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9. Board Game: Gettysburg [Average Rating:5.72 Overall Rank:9754]
Eddy Sterckx
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Getting the AH catalogue in my Squad Leader box lead to my first purchase directly from the Source of All Great Wargames : Avalon Hill in Baltimore, MD, USA.

This was in 1981 - and the bank charged me (well, my dad actually) a whopping $20 in transaction costs just to make an overseas payment. I remember that with that, shipping and customs the price of the game had basically tripled.

I didn't care - I had seen an ACW movie on tv, read a basic book about it and was fascinated with the whole setting.

So I finally had my Gettysburg game, but although we had a little wargame club at school nobody wanted to play a game about the ACW with me. The subject simply did not interest them - Germans vs Allies in WWII was King.

The expensive lesson learned then was : always stop and think who you're going to play a game with before you buy it.

Today I still have the game, been trying to trade it away but no luck so far. I've played it solo a couple of times but it doesn't work well played that way.

Edit : the game finally moved on to a better place : another wargamer anxious to try it.

Other players : none

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10. Board Game: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Battlesystem Skirmishes [Average Rating:5.34 Overall Rank:13166]
Eddy Sterckx
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Fast forward a number of years.

When I went to college I discovered this thing called Dungeons and Dragons - I had heard of the game because TSR, the parent company, had killed my beloved SPI a couple of years before, so at first I was very reluctant to give this thing a try, but being a gamer at heart I really didn't need much convincing.

To be honest, I wasn't really a fan - I liked the role-playing aspect but I hated the drudgery of the stats and the rules - and the debates about the rules. One campaign and I had enough of it and wouldn't touch another RPG game for about 30 years.

My buddy Phil had wandered into fantasy tabletop (war)gaming which didn't interest me at all and gaming-wise I became a solo-wargamer. Didn't have much time for gaming anyway as school, girls, sports and other hobbies would claim most of my time.
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11. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:226]
Eddy Sterckx
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Fast forward another couple of years and my buddy Phil had become a college professor - he got offered a tenure at some US college and left the country for a couple of years. When he came back he organized a big fantasy miniature game in his attic and I got invited. This wasn't really my thing, but I hadn't seen him for years so I accepted the invite.

That's where I met Frank - a funny and very impulsive guy who ran his own gamegroup - but they didn't play RPG's or tabletop miniature games - they played this new thing called modern boardgames or eurogames or something like that.

Every Friday night was game night at his place and I got the occasional invite when they were short on players. The first game I remember playing at his place was Modern Art - I did everything wrong and was slaughtered, but I didn't care and kept showing up in good cheer whenever I got invited.

Moving up from substitute to regular member didn't take too long. And basically that same group is still playing every Friday.

Other players : Frank, Eric, Vince, Domi, Harry, Phil, Brendan, Peter
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12. Board Game: Condottiere [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:793]
Eddy Sterckx
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I was already married when I met Frank and the rest of the gamegroup guys. All guys. My wife knew about my wargames - I had a regular Tuesday night historical tabletop group at the time - and while she indulged me going off on Friday nights as well, she felt a bit left out.

So one Friday night we were really short on players and I asked Frank if he would mind if I took my wife along. Just to try and see if she liked this sort of thing. I thought she would and being a bit of a tom-boy she doesn't mind an all-male environment, in fact she prefers it over girly stuff.

The game we played was Condotierre - a bit of a mean game of bluff and counter-bluff - a bit wargamey actually. She took to boardgaming like a fish to water, so much so that after a couple of weeks she was just "one of the guys" and was thrown into a 5-player shark game of Agricola. This is the first game she remembers playing, but I know we played easier stuff like Condotierre, Apples to Apples and Modern Art before that.

Today, whenever there's a game with a fighting other players element, the whole group knows she's going to be the most aggressive player, attacking everything and everyone.

Other players : Ann, Frank, Eric, Vince, Domi, Harry, Phil, Brendan, Peter
 
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13. Board Game: The HellGame [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:3873]
Eddy Sterckx
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I had been going to Spiel in Essen every year from 2004 onwards as a representative of Matrix Games, working from the UGG booth. Udo and the gang there are and were wargamers, but there was a guy on the demo-team who just had his first non-wargame design published : Anders Fager from Sweden - a guy who could and would discuss everything : from tactics in the Napoleonic era to how to interpret Dante. He taught me his game : The Hell Game - one of the most fascinating games every made - when you play it you just know the guy who made it must be brilliant. And he is.

But he's also very fun to be around and we spend many nights drinking, discussing and fixing the world's problems in many a pub in Essen. The other guy in our pub-triumvirate was Marc von Martial (or Schwanebeck as he was known back then) and once we ran up a tab of 39 half-liter beers between the 3 of us ... we pulled an all-nighter, but still ... the next morning at the fair I felt like hell. Anders looked like he had had 10 hours of sleep and was so cheery we could have strangled him

Other players : Anders, Marc, Udo, Richard, Myriam, ...



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14. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:98]
Eddy Sterckx
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Udo Grebe's UGG booth is really the only wargame booth at Spiel and when Richard Borg decided to visit the convention and promote his new game - Command & Colors Ancients - that booth was just the natural place for him to demo and teach his new game.

I made sure I got a spot at the table and was taught the game by the man himself - he's a very nice guy with a good sense of humor and that session with him is one of my most cherished gaming moments.

Years later we played a memorable Command & Colors Ancients game with 28mm ancient armies on Kallistra hex terrain, but that first time remained my best experience with the system.

Other players : Richard, Bart, Phil, Koen
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15. Board Game: Battle Cry [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:625]
Eddy Sterckx
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That system started of course with Battle Cry - I didn't own the game, but my buddy Phil did and one night he came over to my house to play it. This was from before he went to the US and I met the Eurogamer group.

So we played a game and my wife had been lurking and commenting on my moves and plays so I said to her : here, now you play Phil while I prepare dinner.

By that time Phil (and me) had been playing wargames for more than 20 years but he got slaughtered that evening by my wife who first feigned on one flank only then to strike on the other with everything but the kitchen sink.

Sure, there was some luck involved, but she's a natural and quiet aggressive player and he didn't expect that at all.

Other players : Ann, Phil
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16. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:14642]
Eddy Sterckx
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This was never intended as a chronological list anyway so let's go back to the eighties, to a student pub called the "Copacabana". Renaat, the owner, was a bit of a gamer himself and on slow days he would join our day-long games of Risk. We weren't in a rush when playing, this was a social gathering, chatting while drinking a beer and rolling some dice.

25 years later and we still spend a weekend a year together, but that group never became real gamers - it was card games, liar's dice and Risk and that was it.

But those lazy days of Risk I'll never forget

Other players : Bart, Bruno, Renaat, Jürgen, Michel, Guy

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17. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:504]
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I just have time for one more story and this one goes back to the early eighties and the aforementioned Light Brigade wargame shop.

I had learned that the group there were organizing the Belgian Diplomacy Championships. As I knew and had gamed with a couple of guys there I was determined to play and got a spot in one of the qualifiers which I either won or came in best second - anyway, I advanced to the finals.

A table of sharks and one 17-year old in only his second Diplomacy game of his life. How sharky they were cannot be better demonstrated than by the fact that the year before they had locked one of the contestants in the bathroom, he missed his orders phase and lost the game and the judge ruled that fair play.

As the inexperienced kid I knew I had no chance of winning, but I'd make sure the first guy who betrayed me lost and I said so to everyone I talked to. This must have made some sort of impression because I only got back-stabbed rather late in the game and I got 3rd spot - or 4th - somewhere in the middle of the pack and was pretty pleased with my performance.

The year after that they knew me and I got eliminated in the preliminary round

Other players : Rudy, ... don't remember any other names or faces.
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18. Board Game: Clue [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:7714]
Eddy Sterckx
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Clue - or Cluedo as we knew it - represented a first in 3 different ways :

It was the first game I remember owning - well, my parents owned it and probably still do, keeping it in a dark corner of their attic. Unlike his brother, the aforementioned uncle Albert, my dad was never into games other than card games and all games we had played up to then were owned by my grandmother, uncle or friends.

It was also the very first game I remember reading the rules and teaching to other kids instead of getting taught the game.

We played it a good number of times as kids and the one big serious flaw with the game became apparent even to us : movement is too slow and drags the game on and on and on. That's when we did the unthinkable and actually changed the rules of the game (gasp) and let you roll the movement die twice, adding the result. I don't actually remember who suggested it, but I'd like to think it was me

Other players : my sister, Christine, Frank, Peter
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19. Board Game: Whist [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:3947]
Eddy Sterckx
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On my mother's side of the family it was some kind of tradition to spend New Year's Day together with my grandmother at her place. This was the early seventies so the one and only channel on the tv would always show the same thing every year : the ski jump at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

To me and the other kids that was boring as hell, so we would watch our uncles play a local whist variant. My dad was really good at it and I felt proud sitting next to him - keeping my mouth shut about the cards he had - and learning the game by watching and listening.

They never let me join one of their legendary games, but I learned a lot by just watching them play for hours on end and later became really good at this and other card games as well.

Other players : my dad, uncle Petit, uncle Theo, uncle Felix
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20. Board Game: Crazy Eights [Average Rating:4.39 Overall Rank:15406]
Eddy Sterckx
Belgium
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But that local variant of Whist wasn’t the first cardgame I learned. In the area I grew up in adults played “serious” cardgames and the kids played a local variant of Crazy Eights. It’s the first cardgame I remember playing and though I played it with other kids, most of our games were just my grandmother, my sister and me. We played round after round, first one to get to 5 wins or even more.

Other players : my grandmother, my sister, other kids
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21. Board Game: Pachisi [Average Rating:4.46 Overall Rank:15431]
Eddy Sterckx
Belgium
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While Crazy Eights is the first cardgame I learned to play, the first boardgame I learned was Pachisi - or "horsy game" as it was known around here. My grandmother owned a marvelous wooden board with hand-carved horses and it became standard for us to really "kick" a horse from its location with our own horse. Sure it's a role & move game, but there's a bit of tactics in there that's just enough for a 6-year old to wrap his brain around. Blocking your opponents became a standard tactic - and we were ruthless

Other players : my grandmother, my sister, the occasional other victim we would gang up on.

Edit : so we visited uncle Albert and auntie Jacqueline for a game-day at their place and we had a grand time playing modern games like King of Tokyo and Flashpoint Fire Rescue. Then she went to the closet and showed us a wooden board and pieces. The very same board we had used to play 40+ years ago. Good memories, but we didn't play it again.
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22. Board Game: The Russian Campaign [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:1071]
Eddy Sterckx
Belgium
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Back in my mostly-solo wargame days there were 2 games I had made print & play copies of original games owned by Phil. The first was Third Reich, the other was The Russian Campaign.

The aforementioned wargame shop in Sint-Niklaas stocked AH General mags and I bought every issue that contained an article about either game, but if I had to pick a single favorite it would be this one.

The game sure had problems : a streak of good weather early on would end the game for the Russians and river lines with the 'C'ontact rule were impossible to defend, but the game made sense, it had multiple avenues to victory (though "go south" worked best) and moved along at a nice clip.

I've long since acquired a real copy of the game, but I've kept my original P&P around for old time's sake. And now that I'm older I actually prefer my P&P version with the bigger counters

Other players : Phil

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23. Board Game: The Battle of the Bulge [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:5351] [Average Rating:6.08 Unranked]
Eddy Sterckx
Belgium
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The wargame club at school thrived for a couple of years and Phil and me toyed with the idea of publishing a wargame magazine. As was custom in those days it would contain a game and articles on how to best play game x. Phil made a tactical space combat game and I something that can best be described as a medieval squad leader game with modular hexagonal boards. Both games got - “published” in our mag to rave reviews of our peers

We also wrote all articles in that mag, the only one I remember doing was an attempt at a perfect German initial setup and attack against the fixed American defense in AH’s Battle of the Bulge ’65 edition. It had artwork showing where to stack the German panzers and had serious odds calculation & stats – we were both majoring in math and it showed.

We all graduated and the wargame group fell apart, but I kept some of the original artwork and articles of our little mag in a binder and years later surprised Phil with the stuff he had thought long lost.

Other players : Phil, Jan "Witte Neger"
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24. Board Game: Samurai [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:11636]
Eddy Sterckx
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This entry just to show how great BGG and the community is in here. Back in the seventies the only adult gamers I knew were my uncle Albert and his wife auntie Jacqueline. I loved spending time with them because we would be playing games nobody else had even seen.

I have no idea where they found them, if they ordered them from a catalogue or if there were specialty games shops even back then - must remember to ask them next time we meet.

Edit : so I did - turns out they came from a gameshop in a nearby university town which had a broader selection than most gameshops in that day and age. a proto-FLGS as it were.

Anyway, there was one 2-player game from that era which I remembered being a sort of complicated Japanese chess with big pieces. Couldn't remember the name of it and just posted a rather vague description of it in here and got a correct reply within minutes.

The game was called Samurai and it got published in 1975 - 40 years ago - and I must have played it in that era as well because it was from before my niece was born.

The description says that the Dutch version had different rules and that's correct : we played it until your opponent couldn't make a legal move, which was much, much harder than simply taking your opponent's pieces.

It was the first game I remember setting up and trying to figure out strategies for by moving the pieces around.

Wouldn't mind playing this one again actually.

Edit : so I found the game again - in a thrift-shop of course - and bought it on the spot - didn't even look at the sticker price.

Other players : uncle Albert, auntie Jacqueline, my sister
 
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25. Board Game: Liar's Dice [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:561]
Eddy Sterckx
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Back in my student days the concept of "party game" didn't exist so when we would have too many candidates to play Risk or Oh Hell we would switch to playing a variant of Liar's Dice that we played with 20 people or more.

Standard Student Rules Adaptations of course whereby the losers paid for the beer of the winners.

Other players : Bart, Jurgen, Michel, Guy, Bruno, Kristel, Erna, Nicolle, Isabelle, Frank "Fritz", Gunther, Ann, another Ann, John, Jan "Gust", another Guy, ...
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