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Your favorite language-independent games!
Würfel Reviews
Estonia
Tallinn
Harjumaa
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Hi, it's Ilja from Würfel Reviews.
One of my US friends gave me an idea to create a geeklist about language-independent games. I live in Estonia and English is non-native language for me. Yet the level of English in Estonia is quite high.
That doesn't mean that everyone speaks English fluently. One of my Estonian friends really loves to play games with me although he is not a gamer. But there's a problem: his English isn't that good and that means I cannot play some cool games with him due to lots of text in them (like Dead of Winter, Merchants & Marauders, Robinson Crusoe)
Yet there are lots of really cool games that are language-independent, have clean iconography and I are just really fun to play!

SO I thought it would be great to give you my picks for the best language-independent games and I would LOVE to see your ADDITIONS TO THE LIST!

FEEL FREE TO COMMENT AND ADD YOUR OWN FAVORITES!

P.S. And by the way we have a guild as well, right here: Würfel Reviews Official Guild
Visit, comment, create threads! Thanks and cheers!
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1. Board Game: Quadropolis [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:257]
Würfel Reviews
Estonia
Tallinn
Harjumaa
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Quadropolis is a new hit from Days of Wonder. They continue with the medium-light approach. It's all about city-building. The graphics remind of a mobile app but it isn't bad The thing is that I really like the clean design of mobile games where you are able to distinguish buildings from each other really quickly. Some goes for Quadropolis. It's a rather light but clean and brain-burning game with very much understandable iconography and easy rules. It's very intuitive. Great game!

Würfel Reviews rating 8.5
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2. Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:13]
Würfel Reviews
Estonia
Tallinn
Harjumaa
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This game has skyrocketed to Boardgamegeek TOP20! When I played original 7 Wonders it was rather boring. I didn't care what other players did... Here you have an opponent and you play straight against him - there's no other way. It's so cool how you try to create situation where you will get the card you need and leave your opponent with a less valuable one. And different paths to victory hold the tension high and balances the game out. So if I see that you are heavy on points I'll try to go military or science which means you need to concetrate on that too in order to survive... Wow, it's just a great great 2p game. And guess what: It's language-independent. And my Estonian friend Ivo (who doesn't speak English well) liked it a lot! Win win!

Würfel Reviews rating 8.5
 
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3. Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:85]
Würfel Reviews
Estonia
Tallinn
Harjumaa
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BGG says that it has some text but basically it's language-independent. You can easily translate bonus tiles and the game will be totally playable with the person who doesn't know English well I just love building crazy castles, it's soooo satisfying! When I first played it, it was like "meh, whatever" put Alina liked it more I bought it. And guess what? It's in my ultimate TOP20 now! This game kept getting better and better. We haven't tried expansion yet but I hope we will very soon!

Würfel Reviews rating 8.5
 
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4. Board Game: Elysium [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:328]
Würfel Reviews
Estonia
Tallinn
Harjumaa
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Now you may argue that Elysium is not language-independent. Yeah, I get that... There's some text on the cards. BUT the text is so basic, very easy to understand, translate... And mostly it's iconography I tried this game with Ivo and he liked it a lot! I love how you need to plan carefully and choose right columns to discard. Set Collection here is so smooth and interesting with that aspect of Elysium where cards are scored. Yet if you will leave these cards in the upper part you can use their abilities. I like these rather tactical decisions. Yet another great card game with beautiful art!

Würfel Reviews rating 8.5
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5. Board Game: Five Tribes [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:56]
Würfel Reviews
Estonia
Tallinn
Harjumaa
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Days of Wonder does a great job when it comes to component quality and easy rules. This game IS brain-burning yet rules are easy, iconography clean and it has lots of replayability. Played it with Ivo and this is yet another game he liked a lot! It has strategy and lots of tactical decisions. Expansions IS essential, that sixth tribe is so cool! Magical items are really powerful and I like that! Yet they are balanced very well. Just a great great game overally. Yes, the theme is barely there and it's thinky but it plays quite fast if you are not playing with AP prone players and it's very easy to explain.

Würfel Reviews rating 8.7
 
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6. Board Game: Raptor [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:315]
Würfel Reviews
Estonia
Tallinn
Harjumaa
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If we talk about some great language-independent 2p games then Raptor is one of the best if not the best I have ever played! It seems abstract but it's quite thematic. I love how Matagot pushes components to the next level and makes all the miniatures a different shape, they look so cool! Yeah, there where some problems with punchboard but maybe it's just a small error from a manufacturer. I like big cards, they are linen finish. This game has a great artwork from Dutrait and a Bruno-duo! Bruno Cathala is my favorite designer and I respect Bruno Faidutti as well. I love outsmarting my opponent. The core of the game is to guess what your opponent will play. So great!
There might be a problem with English cause it's not that easy to remember all the cards and actions you can do on your first play. But I think it's easy to translate and write it down for that person and in few plays he will know everything already. Cause basically it's all iconography and rather intuitive.

Würfel Reviews rating 8.5
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7. Board Game: Cyclades [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:140]
Würfel Reviews
Estonia
Tallinn
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If you know Würfel Reviews then you probably already figured out that it will be on this list. Yeah, we are talking about my (and Alina's) ultimate nr. 1! And it's language-independent! Oh my, there's a lot a can say about this game. I think you can just go to our channel Würfel Reviews in Youtube and watch our Board Game Blender segment about Cyclades (you'll find it there easily). But let me tell you that Hades fixes some issues people have with the base game and it's essential expansion. Titans is essential for people who love more combat oriented and tighter game. Both expansions are great. But even without Titans this game would be my nr. 1! And Alina's too.

Würfel Reviews rating BEST OF THE BEST
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8. Board Game: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:157]
Todd Kauk
Canada
Winnipeg
Manitoba
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This is a mix between Carcassonne and Castles of Mad King Ludwig, but significantly better than both. It's a Tile-Laying game with a price setting mechanism for 2-5 players. It is faster and more balanced than Castles of MKL. It plays in about 45 minutes, and plays well over all play counts. I like it best with 3-4 players. There is a ton of variability as you only use 4 of the 16 scoring tiles each game.

TK's Rating: d10-1d10-0, my favourite game of 2015 (and future KdJ Winner!)
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9. Board Game: Mangrovia [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:1145]
Todd Kauk
Canada
Winnipeg
Manitoba
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This is a Gateway or Gateway+ Action Selection game with beautiful components. It plays in about 45-75 minutes with 2-5 players. This game scales better than any game I've ever player. I like 3 player best. There's lots of tension is the action selection as the card display doesn't replenish as in Ticket to Ride. Lots of interesting tactical decisions and some strategy too. A real hit for my game group and family. A wonderful game, that is underrated.

TK's Rating: d10-9
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10. Board Game: ZhanGuo [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:418]
Phil Triest
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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Amazingly simple yet very deep game with excellent iconography. My runner up would probably be Race for the Galaxy.

for Zhanguo
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11. Board Game: The Palaces of Carrara [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:576]
Rollo Tomosi
United States
San Juan Capistrano
California
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Which is a godsend-because this is a really great game-but GOOD LUCK finding an English version.
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12. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:60]
Hanne Beate
Norway
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I have to add this, it's a fun 2-player game. It has time and button-costs on the tiles and that's easy to understand.
I also like
Qwirkle
Ingenious
Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Hive
Hey, That's My Fish!
 
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13. Board Game: Tajemnicze Domostwo [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:453]
C&H Schmidt
Germany
Heidelberg
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I know that this exists in a new English version now, but I still always recommend the older Polish edition -- it's completely language-independent (rule book on BGG), and I like the art (so gorgeous!) and the actual rules much better.

A cross of Dixit and Clue and much better than either!
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14. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:68]
Adrian
Romania
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In Troyes, recreate four centuries of history of this famous city of the Champagne region of France.
Throw dice, combat events, and spot the best cards combos for a lot of victory points (similar to keyflower I would dare say).
I love the art work and the way the action on the cards fit the theme of the card.
Great game that i will always enjoy playing
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15. Board Game: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:192]
Adrian
Romania
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Great gateway game with a bit of Agricola feeling.
I like to play it a lot with my kids.
Add also the extensions and you got a lot of replay-ability.
 
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16. Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo [Average Rating:7.95 Overall Rank:42]
Govind Krishna
Japan
Tokyo
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I purchased the Japanese edition of "The Voyages of Marco Polo." And it's completely language independent.

Though the theme feels slightly pasted on, it's a game I really enjoyed and will play this more often than not. Where rolling a lower value dice has its benefits. A dice placement with worker placement and characters with awesome special powers.
Players racing to reach China to score extra and lot of other fun mechanics. There is a lot of options in the game to gain different ways to score points, suiting a couple of different playstyles.

8/10
 
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17. Board Game: Century: Spice Road [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:209] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Govind Krishna
Japan
Tokyo
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Again, got this from Tokyo, hence I have the Japanese version.

An elegant, simple hand building/set collection card game.

7/10

 
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18. Board Game: Akrotiri [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:600]
Govind Krishna
Japan
Tokyo
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Tile laying exploration game with pick & delivery mechanic that manages the player economy.
I love this game and one of my favourite 2 players.

You can pick up any copy of this game in any language, get the rules from BGG or ZMAN Games and you are set to go.

8/10
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