Playing Through My Collection in 2017 + Reviews - June
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Here are the games I played in June of 2017 as I attempt to play all the games in my collection. If you want more information on my rational behind doing this, see the main geeklist here.

I was able to clip along at a good pace in June. If I am able to keep it up, then I might be able to finish ahead of schedule. What was really nice about June was that I was able to play several heavier games and get them out of the way. I played Caverna, Arkham Horror, and Mage Knight, I loved the former two and am trading the latter.

Previous Months:

January - 16 unique games
February - 16 unique games
March - 13 unique games
April - 9 unique games
May - 22 unique games

Here are the games that I got off of my Shelf of Shame:

Mage Knight Board Game
Caverna: The Cave Farmers
The Bird Told Me To Do It
1775: Rebellion
Concordia
Arkham Horror

Progress on Goal:

I played 18 games in June. To date, I have played 94 of my approximately 200 board games. That is roughly 47% of my collection.

A reminder of a few stipulations I have placed on this task:

1) I am playing through my collection of base games. This means I don't have to use every expansion I own to meet my goal. Obviously, some expansions will get played as I play through the base games.

2) I am hoping to play the physical version of every game I own, but if needed I will count digital plays and/or online plays (e.g., www.yucata.de) towards the completion of my goal. I will document digital plays as such.

Collection Status Options:

Keep Forever - I have no plans on getting rid of this game
Keep for a While - I might be open to getting rid of this game in the future
Keep for Now - This game is unlikely to remain in my collection for the long run
Keep for a Few More Plays - Unless my feelings about this game change, then I will be getting rid of it
Keep for Wife's Collection - This game remains in my collection only because my wife likes it
Goodbye! - This game will be leaving my collection at the earliest convenience

You can see my list of Top 10 Games by clicking here.

I will be updated the main Geeklist each month, so if you want to subscribe and watch my progress, then subscribe to the main list where I will be posting notifications.
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1. Board Game: 1775: Rebellion [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:247]
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BGG Rating: 7

Collection Status: Keep for a While - Low Rotation

Shelf of Shame Game

I think 1775: Rebellion is a good mix of the best elements of Risk and Memoir '44. I like Risk, but I don't think I would ever choose to play it (especially with Risk: Legacy being an option). I like Memoir '44, but I just cannot see it being a game that gets to my table a lot. So, since 1775: Rebellion combines great elements of both of these games, it has jumped to the front of the line. 1775: Rebellion has a map based area control/combat system similar to Risk, but the movement and unit actions are card driven like in Memoir '44.

I also think its a game that scales well in terms of depth. You can play it casually; moving units around and rolling dice. The game can also be played with lots of tactics and strategy. I really appreciate being able to scale depth in high conflict games, because most of the time I would rather spend my brain power on more strategic-focused games versus tactic-focused games.

Lastly, the dice-based combat introduce a result that requires units to "flee" the battlefield. I think this is a nice addition in terms theme and gameplay. It prevents a player from building up units and just hammering their way through the map. This makes players strategize on a battle-by-battle basis. So, yeah, 1775: Rebellion is a neat game that presents some of the best in terms of mechanics in the genre and allows for flexibility in how the game is played. Very cool.
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2. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:41]
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BGG Rating: 9

Collection Status: Keep Forever - Moderate Rotation

7 Wonders is a classic. It is among the great modern games and also serves as an exemplar of its core mechanic. 7 Wonders has done for card drafting what Carcassonne did for tile-laying or Ticket to Ride for route building.

I think 7 Wonders is one of the best, if not the best, gateway game. You can teach the game as you play it, the game does not take too long so it is easy to play a second game once everyone has learned it, and it has enough meat on its bones to get people mentally engaged. Another thing that makes 7 Wonders a great gateway game is that as players get comfortable with the game, they discover deep levels of strategy that keep them coming back.

I also think 7 Wonders is a good civilization game. To me, lots of civ. games are overly complicated or too fiddly, but 7 Wonders creates a healthy level of tension between building a well-balanced civilization while still needing to create a specialization for the civilization, such as military, science, or commerce. Truth be told, I have owned Cities and Leaders expansions for 7 Wonders for years, but have never felt the need to play with them. I am sure they are great and need to give them a whirl, but I just love 7 Wonders as it is.
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3. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:237] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
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BGG Rating: 8

Collection Status: Keep for a While - Moderate Rotation

Shelf of Shame Game

So, long before I got into board games, I saw a picture of Arkham Horror with all of its expansions laid out on a table. This was my first exposure to modern board games. I remember thinking, "That looks awesome, but I could never get into something that complex." A few years later I played a few gateway games and caught the board game bug. Arkham Horror was one of my first purchases. I was excited to play the game that piqued my interest all those years ago. Then about 4 years passed and the game sat on my shelf. I never got around to playing it, mostly because my game collection grew so quickly and I was getting to introduce new friends to the hobby, which means starting at the gateway games and working up in terms of weight. Thankfully, over the years, I have found a few friends who not only can handle learning a heavier game, but enjoy it as well.

I am glad to say that not only did I get to finally play Arkham Horror, but I really, really enjoyed it. The game is tough, but the amount of freedom it offers you keeps it from feeling suffocating. I like cooperative games and have always placed Pandemic at the top of that list, but I think Arkham Horror just supplanted it.

In Pandemic, you feel constrained and boxed in. The game is great, but it is more of an exercise in risk management than it is about exploring a world and finding solutions. In Arkham Horror, there are several paths to victory and lots of different ways to increase your chances for success. It allows players to strategize and focus on tasks that benefit one another.

I am not a huge Lovecraft fan, but the theme is cool enough and definitely pulls you in. The artwork is also excellent and helps set the tone of the game as spooky and intense, but also tongue-in-cheek or Noir-esque.

Lastly, while I imagined the game being very complex, it is actually very straightforward. There are a few finicky rules that had me going back to the rulebook to understand, but once you understand the theme of the game, the rules become much clearer. To me, Arkham Horror accomplishes what Mage Knight: The Board Game fails to do; it keeps the game in the front and center and the upkeep and management way, way in the back ground. Where Mage Knight is tedious, Arkham Horror is immersive. That's what makes it such a great game.
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4. Board Game: Balloon Cup [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:903]
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BGG Rating: 7

Collection Status: Keep Forever/Keep for Wife's Collection - High Rotation

I don't like to admit this, but I think Balloon Cup may be a better game than Lost Cities. Now, I like Lost Cities better due to nostalgia and theme, but Balloon Cup offers greater control and strategy opportunities. In Lost Cities, there can be a run-away leader and the round can be over before it even begins. In other words, I think Lost Cities is too dependent on the luck of the draw. Balloon Cup fixes this by giving players more options in where they can play their cards. Granted, Balloon Cup has a few variants, so let me be clear, I am talking about the rules that allow you to play on both your own and your opponent's stacks of cards.

Without going too far into a rules explanation, this essentially allows for a "take that" aspect of the game, but more so it provides great play opportunities. In Lost Cities (which, again, I love) it is easy to paint yourself into a corner, but in Balloon Cup, you can pull back and regroup. I know this got reimplemented as Piñata, but my understanding is that due to some rule changes it is not as good as the original. Lost Cities is a classic and is never going to leave my collection, but if I am being honest, Balloon Cup is just a better game in terms of doing what a game is meant to do - help you have fun.
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5. Board Game: The Bird Told Me To Do It [Average Rating:5.08 Overall Rank:14564]
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BGG Rating: 4

Collection Status: Keep for a Few More Plays - Low Rotation

Shelf of Shame Game

I cannot say I enjoy Carl Chudyk's games, but I really enjoy experiencing them. They are like learning how to play a difficult song on the guitar or solving a tough puzzle. The learning process is not all that fun, but when you finally get it, you have a great sense of satisfaction. I have played Red7 and Mottani and play them more than most of my card games as they are fun to tinker with. Carl Chudyk's games give you a lot of room to explore in a small package.

Now, The Bird Told Me To Do It is not a very good game. I have only played it once, so maybe (and I mean maybe) there is a good game hidden behind its clunky mechanisms and poorly written rules. Essentially, you are playing cards that link with one another and every turn you redo all of the actions of the cards in the link. Now, the links are are shared, which means your opponent can active the same link the next turn. This is a cool idea, as it means you have to be clever to make the links payoff for you in a more effective way, but it also means the game has a very see-saw feel. Essentially, the game feels like a very complicated version of War. You make have several good turns in a row, but then your opponent may have several good turns, setting the point difference back to zero. Similar to War, the swings in the game feel very random and chaotic. My friend and I played two rounds of this game and it felt more like a chore than it did a game. I really dislike games that have you re-checking the rulebook over and over just to make sure you playing right. That's not a game, that's a research project.
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6. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:499]
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BGG Rating: 5

Collection Status: Keep for Now - Low Rotation

Cash and Guns is fun because you get to point fake guns at people and yell. Sure, you could strategize about who to try and eliminate based how many points they are ahead, but in reality, people just go bonkers and point their gun at who ever they feel like. It's fun, but it's more of an activity than it is a game.
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7. Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:13]
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BGG Rating: 8

Collection Status: Keep Forever - High Rotation

Shelf of Shame Game

Caverna is the first big Uwe Rosenberg game that I have played in person. I have played Agricolaand Le Havre on iOS, but there is something much more satisfying about playing a game this big and weighty in a physical format. Because Caverna is an amazing game it puts me in this weird headspace where I feel like there is a lot I want to say about it, but at the same time I feel like there is no point in adding anything extra to the conversation. I guess the best way for me to put it is that Uwe Rosenberg's games are like classic literature. They are dense and meaty, but at their core tell a very simple story. Caverna has lots of options and several things that need to be balanced every turn, but at its core it is a simple worker-placement game about building a nice home. How pleasant is that?
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8. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:23]
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BGG Rating: 7

Collection Status: Keep for a While - Heavy Rotation

Shelf of Shame Game

Before playing Concordia everyone I talked to about it called it a "smooth" game. I knew what they meant, as I have played other games that I considered to be very streamlined and easy, but Concordia really takes it to another level. The game is built like a good watch, each sprocket and gear works perfectly in time with the others.

In Concordia, you are having to track lots of information to make sure you use your turn as effectively as possible, but it never feels like a chore. Even when your opponents take actions that disrupt your plans, you never feel devastated because the game just says, "Hey, instead of doing what you planned, just come over here and take this other action instead. It's pretty good too." If Concordia was a simultaneous action selection game, I would not like it as it would invite too much frustration. So, the fact that it allows you to take your time and make your action selection on your turn takes what could be a rage-inducing game and turns it into a relaxing exercise in cost-benefit analysis.
 
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9. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:302]
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BGG Rating: 6

Collection Status: Keep for a While - Low Rotation

To me, Friday scratches the same itch as Minesweeper. You can play it somewhat mindlessly and just see how far you can get based primarily on luck, or you can really take your time and go for the win by doing the math needed. I like Friday well enough and with its release on iOS, I am sure it will get more plays. I wish it was a little more intuitive as a game, but seeing that it is essentially a solo-player filler game, I cannot complain. The iOS version helps reduce some of the minor fiddly-ness of the game, but there was very little to begin with. I guess what I am trying to say is, Friday is a fine little solo-filler. I would not hate to see it leave my collection, but I cannot really think of a reason that it ever would either. It's kind of like a pair of old sneakers; sure, you could throw them away, but since they still fit, why would you?
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10. Board Game: Jaipur [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:106]
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BGG Rating: 6

Collection Status: Keep for Now - Low Rotation

Jaipur is a good game. I should like it more than I do, but I just find that I would rather play Balloon Cup or Lost Cities. I don't know what it is about the game, but I often feel like I am just on auto-pilot. There is usually only one obvious choice to make during each turn and the game does not make finding that choice too difficult. I know it is a filler game, but I guess I wish it had a little more meat on it. That being said, which sounds like I really dislike the game, it is a very pleasant exercise. It is easy to teach, easy to play, and looks good doing it. So, for what Jaipur is, it does a great job, I guess I wish that its job was a little more complex.
 
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11. Board Game: Jenga [Average Rating:5.56 Overall Rank:11147]
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BGG Rating: 6

Collection Status: Keep Forever - Low Rotation

You cannot win at Jenga, you can only loose. Jenga is another one of those games that is really more of an activity. The good news is, it is a super fun activity. The game is more about jeering your fellow players than it is about playing well. I don't know what it is about humans that we love to see things fall over, but Jenga certainly capitalized on it. Jenga is a great game/activity that has stood the test of time and will continue to do so for its appeal to our basic desire for simple fun.
 
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12. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:17]
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BGG Rating: 4

Collection Status: Goodbye! - For Trade

Shelf of Shame Game

Make Knight: The Board Game is the closest thing to turning a video game into a board game that I have ever played. It provides choices upon choices, it has random encounters, you have to grind for upgrades, and all the while your are entrenched in a personal battle of being good/lawful or evil/selfish. The variability of paths to victory in the game are limitless. The fact that a game like Mage Knight exists is an amazing feat.

I think it is Make Knight's prowess that is also its weakness. The whole time I was playing the game I kept thinking, "I would rather just play an RPG video game." For me, the fun of an RPG-style game is the choices you make that propel your character along the story, not doing the actual math to determine the outcome of those choices. Mage Knight not only requires you to make the types of choices that make an RPG great, but it also requires you to do all the behind-the-scenes work to represent that change in the world. I don't want to have to cross-reference and double-check several things to make sure the effects of one choices ripple out over the game. I just want to be able to make the choice and move on. Having to do the accounting takes the magic out of the game. I caught myself thinking, "I could go over to that tile and fight that enemy, but then I would have to take all these extra steps, so it is just easier to move on." When a game is discouraging me from playing it due to its fiddly-ness, then its a pass for me.

Obviously, Mage Knight is beloved. It is a great, impressive game. Truthfully, it is remarkable how little accounting you have to do to make a game this expansive work. I do not dislike Make Knight for any fault of its own; I dislike just because it is not the type of game I enjoy.
 
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13. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:56]
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BGG Rating: 8

Collection Status: Keep Forever - Heavy Rotation

I love games that have "secret" mechanics that really make the game tick. On the surface, Patchwork is a neat spin on tile-placement wherein players are selecting tetromino-style tiles to best fit into their 9X9 grids. The reality is, Patchwork is a market manipulation game where you are are vying to control what and when your opponent can purchase things. If you simply focus on filling up your 9X9 grid, then you are missing half of the game. Players determine what tile are available for purchase and when they are available for purchase every round. If you know what your opponent needs, clever plays can make sure they will have to settle for second best instead. Uwe Rosenberg is a master and Patchwork is an excellent example of how he can pack meaty, meaningful choices into simple and pleasant packages.
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14. Board Game: Pictomania [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:589]
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BGG Rating: 7

Collection Status: Keep for a While - Moderate Rotation

Shelf of Shame Game

I have a confession. For the most part, I do not like Vlaada Chvátil games. I have played Galaxy Trucker, Space Alert, Dungeon Petz, Mage Knight: The Board Game, Codenames, and half a game of Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization. Of those, I like Codenames and Pictomania. (I also like Galaxy Trucker, but only if I can play it on iOS). His games are amazing. They are grand displays of how multiple game mechanics can work together to make some of the deepest games available. On top of his impressive ability to coordinate multiple mechanics, he is able to integrate theme in a meaningful way. Outside of Uwe Rosenberg and (maybe) Reiner Knizia, Mr. Chvátil is the greatest board game designer, perhaps of all time. Some could argue, and with good evidence, that he surpasses Mr. Rosenberg and Mr. Knizia (especially as of late).

All that being said, I do not like his game. They are like hotdogs to me. I love eating hot dogs. They taste great. I do not, however; enjoy making hot dogs or watching them be made. Vlaada Chvátil games invite you to enjoy all the fun and wonder of their depth and theme, but only if you are willing to spend half of the game making sure that all the pieces are working just right. Another analogy that might help make my point: A Vlaada Chvátil game is like having a powerful engine in your car that makes driving it a blast, but in order to drive the car you must simultaneously make repairs and perform maintenance on the engine. No thanks. There is a reason I have always chosen to drive an automatic over a manual.

Codenames is the best party game of all time. I have never seen a game draw people in like that game. Pictomania (which is what I am supposed to be talking about) is another great party game. It takes everything that is fun about the activity of Pictionary and turns it into a game. Pictomania is the love-child of Pictionary and Dixit. Not only do you get the fun of drawing and laughing at terrible drawings, but you have to manage your time and decide how best to spend your available actions to maximize your points. It is one of the few games I have played where not taking an action may actually be more valuable than taking it. When I played this game the first time, I was able to get two non-gamers to participate and they were laughing and panicking (but the fun kind of panic) with the rest of us. If that is not a testament to the goodness of a game, I don't know what is.

When Vlaada Chvátil makes a game that runs automatically, it is a thing of beauty. When Vlaada Chvátil makes a game that requires me to turn the crank to churn out the hot dog filling, then it's a hard pass.
 
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15. Board Game: PitchCar [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:314]
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BGG Rating: 7

Collection Status: Keep Forever - Low Rotation

Let me tell you how good PitchCar is. I played this game with my 4-year-old nephew and, it is should not come as a surprise to you that he had a blast. Of course, almost anything is fun to a 4-year-old, so that in and of itself is not impressive. What is impressive is that I also had fun while playing with my 4-year-old.

Anyone out there knows that playing games with kids often means one of two things: 1) you play a "kids game" that is really just an exercise in dice rolling and is mind numbingly boring or 2) you play an actual game and essentially play against yourself as your "help" the kid on their turn. Neither of these options are great, but obviously we all typically go for option 1, because the kid having fun is the goal.

PitchCar does not require you to make this choice. It is fun for all people at all ages. It falls into that category of games that makes it more of an activity than a game, but, similar to Jenga, it is so much fun that you can easily overlook the lack of depth.

Essentially PitchCar is a flicking-based dexterity game. This means one bad flick can bring the room into roaring laughter or one lucky flick can turn a 4-year-old into a momentary PitchCar prodigy. I have played other flicking-based dexterity games, such as Flick 'Em Up and I actually find that adding a bunch of game-like rules actually takes away from the game. PitchCar is simple enough that a 4-year-old or an 84-year-old can enjoy it, and that simplicity is its greatest strength.
 
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16. Board Game: Terror in Meeple City [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:625]
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BGG Rating: 5

Collection Status: Keep for a Kid's Collection - Low Rotation

Terror in Meeple City, or as it used to be known, Rampage, is a fun game that is really more about controlled chaos than it is about meaningful choices. In the game, you play as monsters who are destroying a city via different dexterity actions. The game is well designed and actually makes you work for success. Upon first glance, it would seem that the cardboard buildings and their meep inhabitants would just fall over if you looked at them wrong, but they are well built and supported and can often take several turns to bring them down. The gameplay is further bolstered by special abilities that make your monsters more powerful. The game is fun, but it is pretty mindless. Like I said, it is more about controlled chaos than it is about meaningful choices. If you want to have a laugh with friends or mess around with the kids, Terror in Meeple City is a great choice. I guess I would call it a junk-food game. It tastes great and is fun to eat, but it does not really leave you with a sense of satisfaction. But, hey, who doesn't like some junk food from time to time?
 
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17. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:773]
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BGG Rating: 3

Collection Status: Goodbye! - For Trade

This game is totally mindless. I also played this game with my 4-year-old nephew and even he said it was boring about half-way through. Do you remember that wooden-triangle puzzle with golf tees that used to be on restaurant tables? That little puzzle has more depth and meaningful choices than the whole of Tsuro. Truthfully, I would rather play that basic little puzzle than Tsuro any day. Now, Tsuro is kind of a "nice guy" game. It is easy to play, looks nice, and can be approached with confidence. It is easily a game you could play while sipping coffee with friends on a rainy afternoon. So, some of you may feel like I am beating up on the "nice guy." You may be thinking, "Hey, what did Tsuro ever do to you except be a simple, easy going game that does not ruffle any feathers or wrinkle your brain?" My answer would be, nothing - and that is the problem.
 
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18. Board Game: Zooloretto [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:606] [Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
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BGG Rating: 5

Collection Status: Keep for a Few More Plays - Low Rotation

Zooloretto does not know what type of game it wants to be. On one hand, it is a fun little push-your-luck tile-placement game that offers some neat little moments of tension. On the other hand, it wants to have a deep scoring system that sets up conditions to be considered in order to maximize the return of your efforts. The game could easily be taught to kids: On your turn, you select some tiles and them place animals of the same kind together. But, in order for choices in games to be meaningful or fun, the player has to understand what is at stake. Here is where Zooloretto falters. While a child could easily understand what to do on their turn, it is harder for them to understand why. The scoring is so overly complex of the style and weight of the game it leaves even adult players scratching their heads. I do not mean to suggest that the scoring is complex, just that it is too complex for the type of game Zooloretto is. If my turns our simple, then my score needs to be simple. Carcassonne is another example of a game that has somewhat overly complex scoring (specifically the field scoring). Zooloretto has an even greater discrepancy between simplicity and scoring than Carcassonne.

So, this leaves Zooloretto in a weird place for me. I want to keep it because I think kids would like it in the long run, but at the same time, I feel like by the time they can grasp it, there are better, more streamlined games to enjoy. I think Zooloretto has just been outpaced by more recent games.
 
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