The Broken Meeple - Episode 30 - Top Ten Surprising Board Games
Luke Hector
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Fresh from my podcast Episode 30 I'm going to do my Top Ten Board Game Surprises where I go over the 10 board games that surprised me the most. Whether I expected them to be bad, but they were really good, or whether they slipped under the radar and sprung up at me, these games all affected me in a positive way (so it's balancing things out from Episode 29's Hate list! )

As always, this is purely my opinion and not gospel truth and of course I welcome all comments for debating choices and feel free to post any additional games to the list explaining why they were big surprises for you.

Check out my podcast for a more detailed overview of my choices.

Some honorable mentions are:

Amerigo
Lord of the Rings LCG
Viticulture
Concept
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1. Board Game: Paperback [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:319]
Luke Hector
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Dominion with Scrabble?!?

This designer has managed to take a concept that really shouldn't work and actually make a really cool deck builder out of it. This surprised me on innovation alone, but it's actually also a well designed game on top that's great for teaching children some basic English spelling as well. Ok the graphic design is a little bland, but you can only do so much with letters and at least it's functional and easy to follow.


I'm just gutted I can't get a copy locally in the UK right now! But if I see it, I'll be picking it up.
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2. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:300]
Luke Hector
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A game involving auctions should not be one that I would like, everyone I know relishes on my hatred for games like Power Grid and recent tries of ones like 20th Century have not fared better either.

But this filler has done the impossible. It's given me an auction game I really enjoy. The bidding here is fast and frequent, no horrible AP with stupidly large bids. Simple rules, fast game play, it's a solid game and I'm glad Zee Garcia managed to tempt me to try it out!
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3. Board Game: Waggle Dance [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1393]
Luke Hector
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When you look at this cover you wonder whether the publishers smoked something before the print run. Featuring bizarre imagery and a name which although clever is going to generate a few question marks with people.

But this is a nice, light worker placement game with theme that's easy to teach to non gamers and has some nice custom dice. Don't ever play anything but a Short game and it's too light for me personally, but this was a big surprise and worth checking out.
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4. Board Game: Freedom: The Underground Railroad [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:315]
Luke Hector
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I'm not a fan of historical themed games - History was never my strong subject nor was it one I was particularly interested in. I'm more of a present and future type person. So I should have hated this game really regardless of the theme.

Not true. . . . this is actually a good Co-Op game that's very challenging and well put together. A lot of tension arises dodging slave catchers and the history comes through nicely with details on the cards (no checking a giant rulebook thank you Twilight Struggle).
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5. Board Game: Pixel Tactics [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:875] [Average Rating:7.03 Unranked]
Luke Hector
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All you get is 25 cards with characters on them. Each card has a hero ability.......and a vanguard ability......and support.......and rearguard.......and sorcery.........mind blown!

The amount of variety in this game with just 25 cards is beyond comparison and on top of that, this is a really fun and tactical dueling card game that can even expand to 4 players if you really want to burn the brain out. Lots of fun and the only reason I don't own it is because my friend already has it! ;-)
 
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6. Board Game: Hyperborea [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:540]
Luke Hector
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This game got a lot of hype and then suddenly slated by those who realised it was a Euro cube bag building game. I was a little gutted myself, but still gave it a try. Wow, this is a Top 10 worthy Euro game for me personally. Lots of variety, cool components and actually a reasonable game length even with 5 players. It was a big surprise that I would enjoy it that much. It doesn't get much buzz these days, but I seriously recommend giving this a look if you see it in someone's gaming bag.
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7. Board Game: Spyrium [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:506]
Luke Hector
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I've gone on about this game plenty of times in the past and even though it's fallen for me since then, this still ticks all the boxes for a solid, well designed game. But when you see the cover and the title, you aren't expecting anything really but another "meh" Euro. Don't be misled, the tactical gameplay in this is ingenious and for such a cheap price point you will easily get your monies worth. Shame it never got an expansion though.
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8. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:95]
Luke Hector
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Normally from past experience games which use a license don't tend to hit the mark, however there are of course notable exceptions and I will admit, in modern days this trend is dying out with some highly enjoyable games being released based on franchises.

However with Warhammer, I mainly recall the board games being pretty meh or bad (not including miniatures here) so I didn't expect this to be much. It's now in my collection and there it shall stay, it handles the asymmetrical factions nicely and every single one plays out very differently. IMHO, the best board game to use the Warhammer license.
 
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9. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:332]
Luke Hector
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Kind of a nostalgia point here, but this was probably the first card game that made me realise board games had come into their own and weren't the kind of boring snoozefests we had to play with our parents in the old days. During university I was been subjected to Munchkin and Ninja Burger and similar style games WAY too much and I'd lost all hope.

Then Citadels came along and suddenly the world of modern board games was open to me. This was the surprise that brought me back to the hobby. . . . . then 7 Wonders!
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10. Board Game: Seasons [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:167]
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This one edges onto the list not because I didn't think it would be good, but because I just had no idea this was coming. Completely missing my radar despite having qualities that would easily appeal to me (giant custom dice, a unique game length timer mechanic, fantasy setting, gorgeous artwork etc).

But even with that being part of the shock, the fact that this game is one of my all time favourites is even more of a good surprise for me. Sadly doesn't hit the table as often as I would like mainly as it's a little restricted to 2 or 3 players max and playing with 4 is just a bad mistake.
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