Obscure Games You Own/Love & How You Found Them
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
Wisconsin
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Idea adapted from the fun thread 12thManStanding made about #1 Games and how you found them.

What lesser known games in your collection are you particularly happy to own and how did you come to get them?

My criteria are games with less than 1000 recorded owners (compared to, say, Puerto Rico's 46,000 owners!) and that I'm particularly fond of. But I also wanted 10 fairly different "stories" to go along with them to show the many varied ways we come to find games in the hobby. Nowadays 80-90% of my rather extensive wishlist is thanks to guys like Rodney Smith, Joel Eddy, and the Dice Tower crew, but it certainly wasn't always that way.
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1. Board Game: Shadowrun: The Trading Card Game [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:4795]
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
Wisconsin
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Only 380 recorded owners

Shadowrun was just one of the many fallen soldiers in the early CCG days as game after game tried to capitalize on Magic's success. It flopped almost immediately. They managed to push out 1 expansion, but that's it. I'm a huge HUGE Shadowrun RPG fan. My best friend had never had a chance to play the RPG at the time, but he knew how much I loved the setting. When he was browsing Ebay and saw whole BOXES of this Shadowrun TCG at an absolute steal, he figured he'd get a bunch of boxes of the base game and a couple of the expansion and we'd have fun opening everything up even if the game wasn't that great.

It turns out that, while it was buggy at times (unsurprisingly since CCGs tend to need time to work out the kinks and SR:TCG wasn't given this opportunity), the game was SUPER fun and the SR theme via art and flavor text was outstanding. And the collection was now so expansive that, after a few more specific purchases to fill it out (including the German only promos) we had 4-8+ of EVERY card in the game. Soon we created our own little drafting setup for the game and we played it almost EVERY NIGHT we hung out for months.

Now I no longer live right by my best friend, but I still consider the game part of my collection and I still love it. I had heard murmurs that they were gonna try the LCG style for Shadowrun, but instead it seems we've been given Crossfire (which uses TONS of the exact same art SR:TCG used). Crossfire seems fine I guess, but it's co-op where SR:TCG is competitive, and it doesn't really give me the same excitement the TCG does.
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2. Board Game: The Demise of Dr. Frankenstein [Average Rating:6.48 Unranked]
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
Wisconsin
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Only 44 recorded owners

Last year at GenCon I completely by accident signed up for like FIVE events hosted by the designer of this game. He was offering free games to winners and I was like "hey, free games! woo."

When I checked up on the games I signed up for before attending I was a little dubious. The games looked pretty rough visually (though all images were earlier iterations than the ones I wound up playing). Nevertheless I decided to give them a chance and I'm really glad I did. Of the five games I played, 3 I REALLY enjoyed, 1 I found conceptually rock solid but was less my style, and only 1 kind of fell flat for me.

Demise was my unabashed favorite though. I leaned over and told him this before the game was even half over. I DID happen to win that game and the copy he was giving away, but I think I did so well because the game clicked with me so fast and I was INTO it.

Mark's been making games out of his basement for 20 years. For self-published stuff, the production quality is actually quite high. Here's the thing about Mark. I think he has TONS of great ideas as a designer and mixes interesting themes and mechanics (He has a worker placement superhero game and an space 4x game where the space board is only supplementary to an abstract puzzle in front of you for instance). I think he's never made it out of the basement phase largely because they could use the touch of a seasoned developer after design phase and because I don't think he's gone out of his way to learn the "business" side of things from a publishing/promotion standpoint.

All that said though, I now own 6 of Mark's games (the others being Super Powers, Misty Ruins, Giant, UFO Hunter, and Other World) and genuinely enjoy all but one and there are still 2 in his catalog I'm considering picking up. They would all qualify for this list as well but I don't want to be repetitive.

I love Demise though. Dice-based action selection kind of like Yspahan, cool little 3d printed body parts you snap together to construct your monster, and just a great fun theme. I actually helped him out with some rule changes when he put up a 2nd edition on KS. KS didn't do as well as I thought it deserved, but ah well. I'm still happy I own the game.
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3. Board Game: The Captain Is Dead [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:970]
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
Wisconsin
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Only 502 recorded owners

Hands down the best thing to ever come out of the oft maligned GameCrafter I think. Great co-op stuffed with theme and fun anxiety. What it lacks in art it makes up for in a cool style and vibrant color palette. I saw this on Kickstarter and it was just one of those auto-backs that spoke to me immediately. I mean I already own Space Cadets and Space Alert and Galaxy Trucker and it's like "how many games do you need where you're a spacefaring crew staring down destruction?". The Answer: Enough so that you own The Captain Is Dead.
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4. Board Game: Pirates, Ninjas, Robots, & Zombies [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:9332]
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
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Only 37 recorded owners

I wouldn't own this game if my wife wasn't a fan of Ghost Hunters and had been following Grant Wilson's foray into starting a game company. Even WITH that knowledge I was pretty skeptical of the game. There's tons of these tile laying/score-based-on-size-of-area style games and honestly I don't see the point of having more than 1 or 2 in collection. I'd been considering adding Mad City to my collection at the time to scratch that itch.

PNRZ actually wound up being one of the better games in that genre I've ever played though. I actually really enjoy it. It's also very striking on the table with its deep colors and cartoony art compared to some of the more bland entries in the field. The kids in her tabletop club love it too so added bonus.
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5. Board Game: Leader 1: Hell of the North [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:1887]
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
Wisconsin
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562 recorded owners

Every once in awhile I plug in random filters into the BGG advanced search and look for games I've never heard of that seem like they have potential. Leader 1 was one such game. The rule book is a HUGE pain in the ass, but this is an awesome, thinky racing game with outstanding components. Honestly hard to get people to play it with me though.
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6. Board Game: Noah [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2307]
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
Wisconsin
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888 recorded owners

I've decided I'm a pretty big Bruno Cathala fan. Not as big as I am a fan of Bauza, but I like him a lot. However, when I got this little card game for my wife I didn't even realize he was the designer. I was just looking for ANY cute, tiny game in an tin for our 10th anniversary (Yes I got her other stuff too ;ppp). So I hit up the Twittersphere for ideas because there's no easy way to search for "comes in a tin" games.

Had several recommendations but Noah looked like the best option. And it's indeed a cute, fast, little number-crunching card game. Our copy looks like it's been through a war because it's another game her middle school students love.
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7. Board Game: Camp Grizzly [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:2319]
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
Wisconsin
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185 recorded owners

Like the Captain Is Dead, I saw this on KS and instantly backed it (I didn't even watch gameplay or preview videos until after I had backed). The art just dripped ultra-bloody delicious theme with a perverse sense of humor I appreciated. Some of the conceptual mechanics that were on display at first blush intrigued me as well.

End result after a long wait is one of my favorite KS games ever.
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8. Board Game: Santa Cruz [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1802]
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
Wisconsin
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906 recorded owners

This popped up one day in another one of my random BGG searches with odd criteria. However, it took a video from Rahdo to sell me on it. Was kind of a hassle to import a copy, but worth it. I can't even put my finger on why I like it as much as I do, but it's a really great mix of relaxing gameplay followed by a tense climax.
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9. Board Game: Battlemist [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:6991]
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
Wisconsin
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593 recorded owners

Literally the FIRST game I ever blind bought from a FLGS. I think at the time my non-RPG collection was Settlers, Car Wars, and Hero Quest. The game is not without its flaws, is hard to get to the table, and DOES show its age. That said, it holds a special place in my heart and I think there's a lot of cool ideas in it. I was surprised to learn Runewars was basically a re-implementation of this game and even though it's probably far more polished, I'm kind of proud to be an owner of the original.
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10. Board Game: Mr. Card Game [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:8652]
Ray Bonilla
United States
Winneconne
Wisconsin
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283 recorded owners

My best friend (the same one from Shadowrun above) likes to Kickstart games for me and the wife as gifts. He gave us Zombicide and Fallen and recently backed Apocrypha which we're all super excited about. Mr. Card Game is unique though because while he was never involved, he knew my wife and I had played Kingdom of Loathing (the browser-based MMO Mr. Card Game is based on) for years.

The game took FOREVER to arrive, even by Kickstarter standards, though if you know Jick (the creator of Kingdom of Loathing) like we did, you were pretty used to that sort of thing.

It's a neat game with a lot of different ways you can play it, some better than others.
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11. Board Game: Dredd: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:8455]
Boaty McBoatface
England
County of Essex
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Brought this when it was new, it's not a half bad game.

76 known owners.
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12. Board Game: Bloody Buna [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:9390]
Boaty McBoatface
England
County of Essex
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Brought this new, lent it to a mate then about 5 years ago found my copy in a shop that was closing down.

I think it is the only game on the subject, and is really good in a "stuff me they fought here" kind of way, frustrating as hell.

100 known owners.
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13. Board Game: Siege at Peking [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:11908]
Boaty McBoatface
England
County of Essex
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Same story (same mate same shop).

A superb little game, really tactical.

130 known owners.
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14. Board Game: Formula E [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:6834]
Mike DiLisio
United States
Indianapolis
Indiana
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Only 198 listed owners for this wacky elephant racing game from Bruno Faidutti and the designers of Sheriff of Nottingham (in its original form). They tried to kickstart a second edition, but didn't reach funding. Too bad, because this is a fun take on a traditional racing game with typical Faidutti card power madness mixed in. I found it at my FLGS, and am glad I did. I purchased the extra map board direct from Game Salute.
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15. Board Game: Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis [Average Rating:5.82 Overall Rank:8689]
Charles Darlage
United States
Columbus
Indiana
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Only 147 recorded owners

My brother is always bringing his games over to family events. He brought this one in April 2015 and was very excited to share it with me. I fell for it almost immediately and won 2 out of the 3 games we played. I had to have my own copy, so I ordered it when I got home. I have not been the same since, as I now am hooked in this hobby. This game showed me that there is more to board games than I had previously thought. Needless to say, my collection is growing and I now attend my brothers Friday Game Nights.
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16. Board Game: Phalanx [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:11089]
Vincent Darlage
United States
Columbus
Indiana
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Only 119 users on BGG listed as owning this.

This wonderful two-player game from 1964 was introduced to me by a friend (Jason Whitted). He got it from his father, who loved it. I enjoyed it immediately. Went through a spell where we'd play this a lot. Now he's married and has a kid, and doesn't play as much. So I found a copy of this from a user of BGG who sold it to me for $15. Now I have taught my child how to play it. It's a great strategy game, where preparing to capture the foe's piece puts your piece at risk to be captured.

I'd love it if this game found a re-release. It doesn't deserve to languish in obscurity.
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17. Board Game: Paranoia Mandatory Bonus Fun! Card Game [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:5526]
Vincent Darlage
United States
Columbus
Indiana
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Only 582 owners on BGG.

When I got this, I was writing sourcebooks for Mongoose Publishing's Conan the Roleplaying Game. I had written an article for their magazine, Signs and Portents, and instead of getting paid with cash, I asked if they'd send me a copy of this game. They sent it to me.

I've had a bit of fun with it, but people have to be in the mood for light-hearted cut-throat activity. The game kind of sucks if you play it with the intent of actually succeeding at the missions without anyone doing anything to each other that they aren't forced to do. But if everyone is gleefully out to get each other, it's a lot of fun.
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18. Board Game: The Gothic Game [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:8599]

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Only 83 owners listed.

When I first got into Euros, and I love Horror, did a bunch of research. I hunted down one of the designers and bought a copy from England. It is so nasty, devilish, and fun.
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19. Board Game: Guild Stack [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:9139]
Lieven De Puysseleir
Belgium
Leuven
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Found this boardgame at Essen Spiel 2014, it was being demo-ed by some Japanese publisher, the guys were all in traditional clothing for the extra flavor.
However, the game's theme is the guilds in midle-aged Europe.

What struck me was the beautiful chits they produced to represent buildings and resources on your board. They're amongst the most interesting I'd ever seen in a boardgame.

Alas, I only played one game (being a member of the cult of the new ) but I'd like to play this again with more than 2 players.

The publishers are very kind and responded promptly to any questions I emailed them.

Why we don't see any more of them? I'm not sure but I'm guessing lack of marketing from their side might be an issue. Or maybe the European market is just not of interest to them?

In case they're ever demo-ing a new game at Essen, I'll certainly have a look at it.
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20. Board Game: Dead Men Tell No Tales [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:886]
Charles Darlage
United States
Columbus
Indiana
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Only 367 recorded owners

I found I really enjoy co-op games and games I could play solo. While searching for games like this, I found there are not many pirate games that are co-op or solo playable. I found this one while searching for pirate games. After a little research into this game, I went ahead and pre-ordered it on their website. Glad I did, I really enjoy game.
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21. Board Game: Shipwrights of the North Sea [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:2344] [Average Rating:6.54 Unranked]
Scott C
United States
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558 users owning.

I think I saw Rahdo run through the Kickstarter version of the next game, "Raiders of the North Sea", then kept looking into it and discovered Shipwrights of the North Sea.

Not highly rated (6.7), but once you add in the improvement / expansion - which is free as a Print 'n Play, I think this game deserves a rating of 7.5 or more.

If you and your gaming partners can deal with some "take that" like assassins killing one of your craftsman, I think you'll really like this game.

I think of it as sort of Stone Age with a stronger theme and some "take that" interaction. I love it.
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22. Board Game: Personal Preference [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:6165]
Tom Flatt
Canada
Whitecourt
Alberta
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177 listed owners

Way back in the day, my mother-in-law won two copies of this in a contest. Knowing that we loved games, she gave one copy to us. We assumed it was going to be another Trivial Pursuit clone but decided to give it a try anyhow. Turns out it was anything but and we quickly found that we loved the game, our kids loved the game (they still play it, discarding cards that name people they know nothing about), and our friends all loved the game. It is, in fact, the only game I have from the eighties that still receives regular plays.

The game itself actually features a lot of humorous moments. When playing with other couples, we usually use the couples as our teams; this invariably leads to snide comments and dirty looks when couples don't know each other as well as they think they do.

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23. Board Game: King Arthur's Knights [Average Rating:6.29 Unranked]
Tom Flatt
Canada
Whitecourt
Alberta
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54 listed owners

In the 70's and early 80's there were only a few hobby shops anywhere near us (150 miles) that carried any serious games and their selection was mostly limited to war games and a few 3M titles. One day my wife and I happened upon a little book shop that had three or four Chaosium titles in their plastic bags sitting with their fantasy and science fiction books. They weren't expensive so we decided to try King Arthur's Knights. We loved it! We would set it up on a large table and play the game over a few nights.

We actually enjoyed the game so much that we decided to return to the book store a couple of months later to see if they still had any of the other games. Sadly, the store had disappeared and we never did track down any more of the "classic" Chaosium titles.

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24. Board Game: Shing Shang [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
Crazy Adam
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Please send your answer to Old Pink, care of the Funny Farm, Chalfont.
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Currently listed: 23 owners

Gosh - less than 1000 owners? There are way too many excellent games that still have less than 1000 people logging those particular games as 'owned'.

So while there are less obscure (under 1000) that I enjoy more, I thought I'd list Shing Shang. It currently has 23 owners.

An abstract that has elements of checkers and halma, but nicely balanced. The weakest pieces can move the furthest while the strongest pieces can only use jumping in order to get around. The objective is halma-like: move your pieces into your opponent's score zone. Except there are only two pieces that need to be moved in: the dragons. Dragons can be captured as well, so there are two ways to win.

Anyway, this is only a brief description and maybe it doesn't raise it above the thousands of abstracts out there. But for an abstract that works quite well and so very little is known about it, I thought it appropriate to add to this GeekList.

EDIT: Oh, and where did I find it? At a thrift store. Always my favourite story when I find a game that I had never heard about.
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25. Board Game: Misty Ruins [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
Benjamin Johnson
United States
Midvale
UT
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Only 7 recorded ratings, only 8 recorded owners. This entry is on behalf of my gaming buddy that is not on BGG.
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