New to you July 2017 => Best new boardgame
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What games did you play for the first time in July 2017?

Please share your experiences of the games you played for the first time this month.

In order to assist with collecting Statistics from these lists, please post an entry with your chosen game of the month, and if possible please use the "insert board game" feature to add other games you mention in your entry.

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26. Board Game: Tin Goose [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:3137]
Board Game: Tin Goose
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Three "new to me" games for July and one expansion. Tin Goose was my favourite of the month. After owning it for I've forgotten how long, I finally got it to the table.

The game is about the early days of US airlines with each player starting with a couple Ford Trimotor planes and some cash. More (and better) planes are acquired through auctions and networks are expanded with the planes. And while more planes can increase income and mitigate some of the initial risks of starting a fledgling airline, they also increase costs (in fuel) and increase the risk of crashes.

All in all, I enjoyed my one and only play and look forward to future plays. I rate this one a tentative _8_.


Board Game: Trick of the Rails

Trick of the Rails had two plays this month and though I'm not a big fan of card (only) games, this one borrows elements from one of my favourite game families (Series: 18xx) and uses the familiar trick-taking mechanic from such classic games as Spades and Hearts, and does it all in a way that actually works. Although, I played horribly (actually scoring zero in the second game), I did enjoy this trick-taking train themed game and will happily bring it out for an evening of casual gaming or for a filler with more serious gamers.

I rate Trick of the Rails an _8_.


Board Game: High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel

I played High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel for the first (and only) time on Canada's 150th birthday. It's a game about the trial of Louis Riel following a rebellion he led against the state. For the (simulated) trial, the player acting as the defense team must prevent the Crown prosecution from proving Riel's guilt. In simple terms, if the Crown scores 100 points, Riel is found guilty. Each side plays multi-use cards, first to discover the biases of the juror pool before the jury selection. Then they play more cards to present their case and give final summations. It's an interesting "Twilight Strugglesque" game, but a game that completely flopped with my wife.

After this one disappointing play, I rate High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel a _6_. However, with the right opponent, it may very well score higher.


Board Game: 51st State: Master Set – Scavengers

51st State: Master Set – Scavengers, the new expansion for 51st State: Master Set allows for more creative use of ruins. "Rebuilding" them for example (rather than building over them). And using them to scavenge resources from. It also changes the rules regarding discard piles; instead of one central pile, there are personal discard piles and other players can loot them for the top card or the resources that card generates.

The new cards were interesting, maybe more so than the "Winter" deck, but I still think my favourite is the "New Era" deck. After three plays, I rate 51st State: Master Set – Scavengers a _7_.
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27. Board Game: Elysium [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:409]
Board Game: Elysium
John Aronis
New Zealand
Christchurch
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Fairly disappointing month of new games. I finally got to play some popular games and was thoroughly disappointed. I want to get up to at least 5-6 plays of the ones I don't like to make sure I am not missing anything.

Apart from that, some oldies I finally got to the table and was impressed. Also a couple of Kickstarters arrived which were quite good. Game of the Month is between Elysium and Feast For Odin, with Elysium probably taking it simply because I have played a full non-solo game of it.

== NEW GAMES ==


Elysium - 1 play -  8.5 
First Published 2015

A great game but perhaps held back in that I only played it with 2 players, which magnifies the take-that cards (1 target = targeted all the time). I love the module nature and that you don't see every card every game. The only fear is if the cards start to feel samey with multiple plays. Gets my new game of the Month vote.

A Feast for Odin - 2 plays -  9 
First Published 2016

I brought this at the beginning of the year but haven't got it to the table because of a combination of looking complex and having the right group. When I played it solo to at least learn it, it was pretty simple (except that the rulebook is quite poorly layed out and the hun/raid iconography takes some getting used to). Definitely a game that I want to get to the table, although the 70'ish actions you can do will limit who I want to play it with. Only held back as I have only solo played it so far so don't want to give it game of the month.


Aventuria Adventure Card Game - 1 play -  8.5 
First Published 2016

Only one game but it was quite enjoyable. I think that it will shine with more players as the randomness (dice rolls on card draws) will even out over more actions taken. I also think that 9 will be the peak and I can only see it dropping to be honest if the randomness gets to me. I think it will probably settle in about the 8 mark with more plays. I think I liked this better than AH:LCG (see below) because 1 bad roll doesn't cripple you as bad.




Nemo's War (second edition) - 1 play -  7.5 
First Published 2017

This Kickstarter finally arrived. There were some issues with card backs but I found it quite enjoyable. It seems a bit fiddly for a single player game potentially and some event card draws / dice rolling could also be extremely swingy. At its heart, it is a push-your-luck puzzle type game.


Qwixx - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2012

Fun filler game that doesn't overstay its welcome.


Above and Below - 3 plays -  6 
First Published

I liked everything in this game but the encounter book. The encounters can swing wildly in difficulty and rewards and you have no idea what you will get before you go down. Which is huge considering how the victory points and given to goods and also that you can waste the actions of 2 people and end up with a really hard encounter and nothing to do. The Groves mini-expansion raised the rating from a 5 to a 6 for me.


Champions of Midgard - 3 plays -  5 
First Published

It is like taking Lords of Waterdeep but making mission completing random. Considering how few actions you get (from 24-32) and how much worker investment it takes to go collect dice and go on raids, having a bad dice roll can really cost you the game in the early rounds. I think the Valhalla expansion will fix this game, but I don't want to buy an expansion just to like a game.


Century: Spice Road - 3 plays -  5 
First Published

I liked the mechanisms of this game to start with. But it feels like the definition of soul-sucking, spreadsheet optimising euro. I have played 5 sessions of this (maybe 10'ish games) and have yet to have one memorable moment that games like Splendor, Las Vegas or Codenames give me.


Arkham Horror: The Card Game - 4 plays -  3.5 
First Published

What a fall from grace. The first scenario I rated this an 8.5/10. Unfortunately it only dropped from there (6 for the 2nd scenario, 2 for the last scenario). The last scenario in the base box was the worst. After three attempts where I died within 3 turns because of random chit-drawing, I gave up. Apparently expansions are meant to fix this a bit. However, the story isn't that good after the first one, the price to get more is expensive, you can't play 4 players out of the box (seriously, you only needed to add like 20 more cards to have this),the mechanisms and building your deck are okay at best and the set-up time and fiddliness is high for solo play. Unfortunately for it, other games I already play (Kingdom Death, Mansions of Madness, etc.) scratch these itches for me.

T.I.M.E Stories: Lumen Fidei  5 [/b]

Trying my best not to spoil, but will tag it just in case:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
A polarising scenario for sure. The scenario is so fragile and it feels like they over-compensated for other complaints in previous scenarios. It doesn't play into the strength of TIME Stories, but it does continue the trend of alternating between ones I like and ones I don't really like (although this is the first one I hated). Although I like some of the ideas they used here, it was definitely a case of throwing away the baby with the bathwater. It would have immensely benefited from better balancing and maybe re-using the Under The Mask mechanisms


Also added Sensei's Path to Onitama. Great little expansion although was hoping for more from the box (a new piece).
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28. Board Game: Kakerlakenpoker Royal [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1168]
Board Game: Kakerlakenpoker Royal
Jake Blomquist
United States
Vestal
New York
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Somewhat weak month for new games, though I played a good amount of old favorites so I can't complain much.

Kakerlakenpoker Royal - 7.5

Board Game: Kakerlakenpoker Royal


This is very much a bluffing game paired down to its bare essentials, and for me it works reasonably well. There are enough things going on that you have something to go on in both targeting a player and in guessing whether or not you've been lied to, but you are also free to just do basically anything you want. Seems pretty ideal to me in terms of a bluffing game.

The Resistance: Avalon - 7.5

Board Game: The Resistance: Avalon


I like base Resistance a good amount, and so most of my comments are going to be in comparison to that, as this is basically that with one small twist. But to be on the same page, I like Resistance a lot because it often does give you enough information over the course of the game that you can do honest to goodness deduction. Avalon is all the same on that count, but it adds special roles for certain players which I don't think I'm that big a fan of, so this gets a small knock relative to Resistance. It just seems to me that the roles take away some of the deduction aspects in favor of a bit more bluffing and doublethink, and for my taste I'd prefer a more focused, singular experience out of something like this.

Yamataï - 7

Board Game: Yamataï


This was just kind of boring. I liked the turn order stuff, and I suspect I'd like it more at two player so it was easier to set up two consecutive moves and get combos. But at four player, which is where I played, there wasn't really enough opportunity for clever moves. Just taking the best move for the moment is probably going to be the right thing to do 95% of the time. And being very tactical isn't a bad thing in and of itself, the obvious comparison would be Five Tribes. In that one though there are so many more options that it's not really feasible to check every single one there, and so you're applying heuristics and using instinct and making decisions. Here there are so few possible legal moves that it's pretty easy to just think through all of them. But between the character powers, the turn order tile powers, and the potential to line up two moves in a row, I still found enough to enjoy my play and enough that I suspect I'd continue to enjoy it, though never really be excited about it.

Karmaka - 6.5

Board Game: Karmaka


This game has some really cool ideas. The card effects are generally interesting, and I like how there are a relatively small number of unique cards repeated a few times through the deck. I also like that the four types of card (three colors plus rainbow) each sort of have their own theme. And the way that you can somewhat build your next hand while you're working through your current one is really cool. But unfortunately there's a reason this is on the low end this month, and that is the combination of this being a race to a goal game and one of the card colors' theme being take that. The result of this combination is that the endgame can become a bit of a slog as everyone keeps knocking each other down for as long as they can, a la Munchkin. Now to be clear, it's not nearly as bad here as it is in Munchkin, but it's the same kind of feeling. But I really want to like this more than I do, because it does a number of other things I enjoyed.

Felicity: The Cat in the Sack - 6

Board Game: Felicity: The Cat in the Sack


I suspect you could play this by card counting and taking it really seriously, and if a group of people did I think I'd pretty strongly dislike it. But you can also just play it by feel and accept that sometimes everything will blow up in your face and if it does, all you can do is laugh. Sometimes you bid one and everyone immediately passes out and you're stuck with a -20 point set of cards that you paid a point for. So it's the kind of game that can sometimes just happen to you, which normally I wouldn't care for at all. But I found myself laughing the whole time, so it can't be that bad. Better than the sleep inducing For Sale, but still not anything to go looking for. If I'm in the right mood and with the right group, I'll enjoy myself though.
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29. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.43 Overall Rank:4]
Board Game: Terraforming Mars
Netherlands
Enschede
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Terraforming Mars - 4 plays -  8 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Terraforming Mars

Really like this game. It's just a lot of fun to figure out which cards to keep, how to use them, and what to build on Mars. Can't wait to play again, and try more of the corporations.


Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu

Fun version of Pandemic. I liked the smaller scale, and the Cthulhu theme.


Dale of Merchants - 1 play -  6.5 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Dale of Merchants

I liked this, but felt we didn't get to use the abilities enough, the focus went to getting the right colors and values for building stacks rather quickly.


Century: Spice Road - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Century: Spice Road

This was a bit disappointing. It sounded fun, getting cards to get cubes and change them into other cubes to get point cards. But you only get a couple of cards and after that play them over and over again, and if the point cards' requirements don't really work with your cards, you've lost.
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30. Board Game: Century: Spice Road [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:238] [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Board Game: Century: Spice Road
99 Boardgamers
Belgium
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Best of July? I do NOT know! thumbsup

But it surely was our most played game of the month! laugh

Board Game: Century: Spice Road


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31. Board Game: Planetarium [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1957]
Board Game: Planetarium
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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This month, I was fortunate enough to play 4 new games. I found them all quite pleasant, and - amusingly, since that's not normally the case - don't own a single one of them. It'll be interesting to see if I have the opportunity to play any of them in the next year.


Planetarium -- (1 play) _7⅓_
Board Game: Planetarium
Board Game: Planetarium
(images by W Eric Martin & interbreeding)

I think my favourite was Planetarium: and that despite the fact that the theme (one moves proto-planets and material about in a very young Solar System to accrete the kinds of planets that one wants, and one's opponents do not necessarily want. Competitive Intelligent Design? Or simply modeling a hostile and chaotic process?) makes rather little sense. Still, the game was fast, and intriguing; and while it's possible that the scoring is both a bit more random and more lumpy than one might want for a Truly Competitive endeavour; it's also short enough (at least, with 4 players; the owner said it was slower with 2) that one can simply try again soon.


Spires -- (1 play) _7_
Board Game: Spires
Board Game: Spires
(both images by Bryan Fischer)

Pleasant little set-collection game #1. This one features interesting collision and bidding dynamics.

And I say that as someone that normally dislikes blind bidding. Yet in this context it seemed to work. Perhaps some of that was the fact that one doesn't necessarily want to win all the bids in which one participates. And since the winner keeps the cards bid (in addition to the original prize) one has the opportunity to mess with the world quite nicely.


Das Vermächtnis des Maharaja -- (1 play) _7_
Board Game: Das Vermächtnis des Maharaja
Board Game: Das Vermächtnis des Maharaja
(both images by W Eric Martin)

Pleasant little set collection game #2. This one has a cool semi-draft pricing model. And worked well with 5.

The scoring was pretty lumpy, but the decisions (and presentation) were clear; I'd be happy to replay it.


Matryoshka -- (1 play) _7_
Board Game: Matryoshka
Board Game: Matryoshka
(both images by hoje)

Pleasant little set collection game #3. This one was quite funny; Jeff understood the ramifications of the 2D scoring far better than the rest of us. And ended up doing substantially better than his quite-poor-playing colleagues. I think the rest of us would play better (ok; Jeff probably would too: but it'd be closer!) on a reprise.


Thanks again to my youngsters, the Lunch@Work folk, and the Wednesday Night gang for some great game experiences.
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32. Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:179] [Average Rating:7.59 Unranked]
Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado
Jens KH
Germany
Karben
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The Quest for El Dorado (2 plays) - _6_

Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado
Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado


El Dorado is my favourite of this year's crop of SdJ nominees but I'm not surprised it didn't win. The game is a fairly typical rehashing of various elements that we've seen in other games before, with players racing across different terrain types (most recently, Lemminge) using a custom-built deck (Dominion et al) of movement cards.
Simple rules, short playtime, charmingly old-school, with a few small twists to make it fit for the 21st century. It's not exactly Knizia's return to the gamers' gems of old (it's lacking both depth and that special something extra) but El Dorado is very good choice for what I'd call the advanced family level.


Magic Maze (6 plays) - _6_

Board Game: Magic Maze
Board Game: Magic Maze


Magic Maze is a real-time cooperative puzzle, not entirely unlike Escape - The Curse of the Temple or Space Alert, but focussing more strongly on the real-time frenzy and less on the problem-solving parts than the latter. Pretty light, appropriately frantic and with a scenario system that slowly introduces the more "advanced" features. Nicely done.

No Thanks! (1 play) - _6_

Board Game: No Thanks!
Board Game: No Thanks!


Minimalist filler that does suprisingly much with very little. In this case, however, I think I prefer the slightly more elaborate implementations (Lascaux, Mogul) a bit better.


Century: Spice Road (2 plays) - _5_

Board Game: Century: Spice Road
Board Game: Century: Spice Road


In spite of its obvious similarities with Splendor, Spice Road is its own game (and, in my eyes, better). It's still a very simple, strongly abstracted engine-building cube-pusher, the very essence of the infamous soulless euro, but the deck-building aspects offer a little more flexibility and make the game just a tad more dynamic. The added inflection point of when to stop going for more cards to finetune your engine and start riding it out allows for slightly different approaches.
Spice Road works well, there are no obvious shortcomings in development, but the fact remains that it's not a particularly deep or exciting game, and I fully expect to have played it out after a handful of plays.


Sea of Clouds (1 play) - _5_

Board Game: Sea of Clouds
Board Game: Sea of Clouds


A set collection game with the foundations of an interesting drafting mechanism. With the half-blind draft and the wildly different power levels of the cards the luck of the draw plays a huge role. I don't think that's unintended but it does feel a tad long and ultimately fairly forgettable because of that.


FUSE (2 plays) - _5_

Board Game: FUSE
Board Game: FUSE


Yet another real-time cooperative dice game, this time with players claiming dice from a common pool in order to defuse a bomb. Not a bad diversion but the game-play is a little too stripped down for the timing pressure to have much to spice up.


Oceanos (1 play) - _5_

Board Game: Oceanos
Board Game: Oceanos


A family-level drafting game that scores better in presentation than actual gameplay. Fairly light, rather dependent on drawing the right tiles, and possibly a bit more rules overhead than the game warrants and the apparent intended audience might be able (or willing) to stomach.


Trickerion: Legends of Illusion (1 play) - _4_

Board Game: Trickerion: Legends of Illusion
Board Game: Trickerion: Legends of Illusion


If Trickerion is anything like magic or illusion then those must be rather like accounting. It is a heavily front-loaded and otherwise fairly standard worker placement game with a lot of fiddy details yet very little interaction or actual game. Basically, you're charting your way through the menu of magic tricks (which isn't any different from a shared tableau of buildings to build or contracts to fulfill or what have you).
The actual worker placement phase strongly punishes the leading player(s), to the point where it becomes utterly unattractive to do anything but ride out your hopefully well-built performances. A spreadsheet of options, all of them very much calculable and many of them non-viable and there just to add some more downtime to an already overlong game.
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33. Board Game: The Godfather: Corleone's Empire [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:322]
Board Game: The Godfather: Corleone's Empire
== GAME OF THE MONTH ==

The Godfather: Corleone's Empire - 2 plays -  9 
First Published 2017
Board Game: The Godfather: Corleone's Empire


Eric M Lang, based on a legendary movie, miniatiures. Lots of reason to love this game (or hate it, depending on your view). It plays like a mix between Lords of Waterdeep (the essential worker placement) and Blood Rage. The area control aspect really means that there's not only 1 correct option. Every action is useful (some more than others) and getting control over a turf goes a long way towards final victory. Timing is also very important; do I put my family member in that great spot which gives me 4 actions or do I wait because chances he'll get killed off? Best comment by gaming buddy: "this might be better than Blood Rage". High praise.


== OTHER NEW GAMES ==

Haspelknecht - 1 play -  8.5 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Haspelknecht


Don't be fooled by the theme; digging for coal might not be as exciting as a drive-by shooting in New York, but there is a surprising amount of strategy to digging up that black gold. The action selection system is quite unique. They could just have easily made this into a mondane worker placement where everyone has the same actions at their disposal. Now, you have so many things to keep track of; which actions will I get this round? Do I take water in order to get the better actions? Which pawns do I leave for the next round? What will the player order be in the coming round? It's a very neat and intricate system, but it works surprisingly well. You also have different strategies at your disposal; do you go engine building with lots of property tiles? Or do you go for quick wins and victory points? Lots of things to love about this game. The artwork isn't my cup of tea, but the gritty colours and lines definitely complement the theme. Digging for coal is a dirty job, so the game can't be too pretty. So don't be blinded by the ugly box and try this awesome game for yourselves!


Kingdomino - 3 plays -  8 
First Published 2016
Board Game: Kingdomino


Saw this one at my FLGS. I knew it had won 'Spiel des Jahres' but I didn't actually know anything about it. So I turn over the box, read the back and it says "pick a domino tile and put it in your kingdom". That's it? Weird that this would win Spiel des Jahres, right? Well, turns out, the "bidding" phase is actually quite clever (and reminded me a bit of Haspelknecht). You pick the tile you want for this round while determining the turn order for the next one. Easy but fun. This might be the perfect filler.


HMS Dolores - 1 play -  7.5 
First Published 2016
Board Game: HMS Dolores


I bought this because it's Bruno Faidutti and Eric M Lang; two of my favourite designers. The game itself is ok; it leans on the prisoner's dilemma and does a good job of making it a light game, rather that a backstabbing frenzy. The score was close, which is a good thing. But your experience will definitely depend on the group


Pickomino - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2005
Board Game: Pickomino


I had played 'Sushizock im Gockelwock' before and this is basically that game, only with a bit more strategy and a lot more dice. Fun filler.


Family Plot - 1 play -  3 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Family Plot


What a bust! I backed this on Kickstarter because it looked like a lot of fun, but turns out it's just endless repeats of not-so-interesting choices. It reminds me a lot of Munchkin actually, a game I hate with a passion. The artwork is funny, but only for the first 15 minutes. Someone is bound to like this; just not me.
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34. Board Game: Deception: Murder in Hong Kong [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:181]
Board Game: Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
Andreas Pettersson
Sweden
Arvika
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Deception: Murder in Hong Kong tops the list for this month. Fun social deduction game that significantly lowered my interest in the Resistance games (no, haven't played any of them).

Other new games
Merchants of the Middle Ages, just one play so far but seems interesting.
Welcome to the Dungeon, just a few plays with two players so far. Fun but think it will be better with more players.
Advanced Squad leader: Starter Kit #1, played some Squad Leader long ago and curious to play again. Still learning the rules and this will probably be the first game to regularly have logged digital plays due to time and space constraints.
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35. Board Game: Tramways [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:1155]
Board Game: Tramways
Don't Panic!
United Kingdom
Sevenoaks
Kent
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Although I didn’t log a lot of plays, I did get to try out a bunch of new games (well, new to me at least) and there were some real gems in there.

Tramways
Board Game: Tramways
This was always going to be the winner. I really enjoy a good pick up and deliver game, and my favourite mechanic is deckbuilding. This is a great combination of the two and makes for an incredibly tense and satisfying experience. The deckbuilding element works really well with focus on how to best use the cards, there’s a really interesting auction mechanic thrown in (one that, for us, worked and failed in equal measure) as well as all the Age Of Steam race to get deliveries done ahead of your opponent.

The boards are bland, but this really helps to make the game clear and simple to play, and squares work really well as a replacement for hexes, meaning only two rail types are required. Sometimes the number of options available, and the multiple ways in which the cards can be played can be a headache, and there is a lot to remember in terms of what is required to complete each action but after the first couple of rounds this all made perfect sense.

A superb game and one of the best rail games I own. A great solo as well.

Airlines Europe
Board Game: Airlines Europe
I had this in my collection for such a long time, but could never persuade anyone to give it a go (I think it had received a ‘meh’ reception on a previous outing that I’d missed) but with 5 of us at the table and limited options everyone was happy to give this a try, and I’m really glad we did – this turned out to be great fun for 5, and it isn’t often you can say that.

Basically it’s a route building game with share purchasing thrown in. I enjoyed this more than Ticket To Ride or Chicago Express, and felt it made the share idea work really well – we had lots of rather tense competition between players for ownership, and this continued throughout the game – everyone was vying for something.

Importantly, more players didn’t add more time as the same amount of cards are played through regardless – it just made it all the more tense as turns came around and that one vital share you really needed got snatched away from you. Everything worked, the game looked great on the table, and we all had a great time playing it.

Valley Of The Kings
Board Game: Valley of the Kings
Another game that sat unplayed for what felt like years, but towards the end of a gaming evening there were two of us at a loose end, and so I suggested giving this a go. There is a fantastic amount of tension between when to use a card for its ability, and when to move it out of play to score it. The game is incredibly interactive, and I thoroughly enjoyed my first play.

The game took longer than I expected, but never outstayed its welcome. The rules are fairly simple to explain, and the card abilities left room for some great chained effects. I really enjoyed playing this, and look forward to trying the other games in the series.

Lost Expedition
Board Game: The Lost Expedition
Wow – what a fun little game. I love gems like this, and felt this provided a really challenging and easy to learn solo experience. OK, so I haven’t got very far before it all ends horribly, but the journey is fun, so this is probably the least frustrating game to lose (and add to that the lack of die rolls).

The simple summary is that you make your way through a deck of cards manipulating the order they are played out in to try and gain resources to help you progress. Get to the end of the advancement ‘track’ (represented by cards) and you win.

The artwork is stunning, the play is fun and the narrative and setting comes over really well.

New Bedford
Board Game: New Bedford
I’m not a huge fan of worker placement – there is something that I always find frustrating when players lose access to actions because another player has taken them, and also just a little silly and unthematic at times (you can’t come into my shop, I can only serve one customer a day). This was less of a problem here as typically the first player gets a bonus, and then everyone gets the basic action (with the exception of the buildings which are single use).

I didn’t really enjoy the whaling theme, but it’s only a game, so I’ll let that go, and some buildings seemed incredibly overpowered compared with others (the Fire House was paying out about 10/11 coins per turn, and was always used). Still, it was enjoyable enough for a game I’d normally avoid, and at the end scoring we were all really close.

Not my favourite, but I would play again.

Nemo’s War
Board Game: Nemo's War (Second Edition)
I wasn’t sure after backing this if it was going to work for me or not, but it wasn’t expensive as a group buy, so I wasn’t going to lose any sleep. Having received it, I set the game up, read the rules, and got down to the business of being a tyrannical sub commander.

I did enjoy my session, but I struggled with the length of the game. To me, it really felt like rinse and repeat. Although it is possible to upgrade and gain bonuses, you are spending these at a pretty constant rate, and from that perspective it felt like each turn I was just doing the same thing over and over as more ships slowly come out onto the board. Then I realised I already own a similar game with a better narrative, and more development and advancement as the game progresses – Eldritch Horror.

I sold the game after the first play, and don’t feel like I’m going to particularly miss it.
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36. Board Game: Drum Roll [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1506]
Board Game: Drum Roll
Darrell Goodridge
United States
Windsor Locks
Connecticut
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== NEW GAMES ==

The numbers kind of speak for themselves. I found time to play Drum Roll a second time this month, and Herbaceous is a 12 minute game. I was very disappointed in Abyss, but we could've played something wrong, doubtful, but possible.

Drum Roll - 2 plays -  8 
First Published 2011
Board Game: Drum Roll




Herbaceous - 2 plays -  8 
First Published 2017
Board Game: Herbaceous




Warband: Against the Darkness - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2015
Board Game: Warband: Against the Darkness




Abyss - 1 play -  5.8 
First Published 2014
Board Game: Abyss

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37. Board Game: Neolithic [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:3863]
Board Game: Neolithic
Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
Duns
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An interesting little quick 2 player civilisation building cardgame. Played several times, the first time with some confusion as the rules aren't as clear as they might be, after that to explore the game a bit more as it is certainly a bit different. I'm not sure how much replayability there is, and there seems to be a fair amount of luck, but a decent effort well worth a look.
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38. Board Game: 1844/1854 [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked]
Board Game: 1844/1854
Joerg Schaefer
Germany
Frankfurt
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Holiday time, only two new games and one clear winner with 1844. Instead of more new games, I finally played Great Western Trail a few times in a row.

GAME OF THE MONTH

1844/1854: d10-8 (1 play)
Board Game: 1844/1854

I only played 1844:
Not as complex as I was expecting (and fearing). The single elements can be found in other 18xx as well but they are combined in a solid fashion. The sum here is more than the parts. There's a lot of chrome but it's not gratuitous.

There are three different types of companies available at start. The standard "historical" ten-share companies, the pre-SBBs which are similar to the Vorpreussens from 1835 and five-share regional companies with severe growth limitations but quick capitalization. Additionally, mountain and tunnel certificates are available to improve operating runs. The private companies are a mix of privates known from 1830 or 1870 with new individual powers. They are as interesting as they are in 1870.

The train mix is original with normal trains that quickly degenerate to hex trains, mostly already when the next train evolution comes out. Thus, new trains are constantly needed to maintain earnings. The poison pill problem is avoided by scrapping one train from the market after each set of operation rounds. Track building and markers are important and potentially varying between games due to 14 available companies at start. 1844's focus is on ops.

It's a long game but with experience it shouldn't take longer than 1870. For now, it will take longer due to the many strategic possibilities. A very solid 18xx variation for experienced players which at the same time isn't too brutal.


OK GAMES

Between Two Cities: d10-6 (1 play)
Board Game: Between Two Cities

Typical Stonemaier game although this one isn't even by Stegmaier. One idea and a lot of recycled mechanisms from popular games. Mostly, Between Two Cities is a 7 Wonders ripoff. Tiles instead of cards are drafted. The new idea is drafting two tiles at a time and building two cities in a 4x4 matrix simultaneously with the right and the left neighbour. Knizia scoring (the lower scoring city is your final score) and set collection tradeoffs seen many times before (most similar to Quadropolis although this game was released a year later) complete the picture.

While building cities together with a neighbour is an original communicative element, it puts players at the mercy of others with the winner being the one who gets hurt the least from a co-builder's weak decisions. It plays quickly and can be fun with a casual group but fails as a serious game. An ok game but inferior to the alternatives: 7 Wonders is deeper while not taking much longer, Quadropolis does the city building better. The artwork is another drawback, surprising for Stonemaier games.
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39. Board Game: Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:63]
From gallery of Photodump
Darryl T.
Malaysia
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Deck-builders which rely on a rotating gallery of cards – such as Ascension and Star Realms – are fun to play but rarely leave a lasting impression post-game. Partly, this is because all decisions have to be made on the fly based on the cards which become available on your turn. Clank! does one better by including a board where players get to push their luck in delving for treasure, much like in Deep Sea Adventure.

It’s a simple yet clever innovation, and deciding how far you want to push adds a slight strategic element to the game. On a lesser scale, I like how the more powerful cards come with clank cubes which attract the dragon’s attention. I would have really liked more options to cull cards though, as one of my favourite aspects of deck-builders is maintaining the efficiency of decks.

Rating: 7.0



Ethnos

An area control-ish game of fantasy races. Probably not surprising since Paolo Mori helped co-design one of the Small World expansions. Influence discs are placed into regions using melds (or bands) of cards, and a good chunk of points can be earned from the bands formed. Other races might have alternative scoring conditions too – the Orcs, for example.

This is not to be taken too seriously, because a large part of the game has players drawing mystery meat from the deck and hoping something good comes out from it. But I like the idea of balancing between scoring for area control and bands, and the Deus-like concept of making the band follow the topmost-played card. Also, the different combinations of races guarantee some degree of replay value. The game could have benefited from a more cohesive art direction though.

Rating: 6.5

From gallery of shadow_bind
Photo credit belongs to oneveepee




Sanssouci

A card-driven, tile-laying game about getting nobles to wander around in the gardens of Sanssouci. What’s particularly neat is that a good chunk of points come from nobles as they move downwards each turn. This creates pressure to trace paths downwards so that nobles are able to score points consistently, all while keeping an eye on the endgame objectives and bonuses.

What makes or breaks this game is the fact that it rests on a random card draw and a rotating gallery of tiles. Contrary to its name (which means ‘without worry’), it can be frustrating when a tile you have been eyeing is inadvertently snatched up by an opponent. It’s best enjoyed as a highly tactical game, with each turn being a mini-puzzle on how you can best optimise the cards in hand.

Rating: 6.5



Dice Forge

A simple game of manipulating dice faces in order to gather resources and convert them into points. There is a nice arc to the game, as players first gather gold in order to purchase new faces, then hope to roll sunstones and moonstones in order to purchase cards. There are improvements you can buy to build a rudimentary engine, and the resources differ slightly in value, with the sunstones being more valuable to take additional actions.

Overall, this is a novel entry into the resource-gathering-and-conversion category. The game does take a longer than expected to play though, but that is primarily because deciding which die to modify and prying the faces off the dice creates a bit of downtime.

Rating: 6.5



Strasbourg

A surprisingly quick and simple game, despite its rather daunting presentation. Strasbourg is comparable to Notre Dame, in that both games take roughly an hour to play and are on the lighter end of Feld’s designs. The highlight of Strasbourg is in the way auctions are managed – players draw cards from a personal deck until they think they have enough to work with, and then divide those cards into piles to be used for the rest of the round. Bidding works almost like a trick-taker, with players using the piles they set aside earlier in a once-round auction.

Strasbourg feels rather un-Feld-like because the game focuses on a spatial element and hidden objectives, which is less common for a Feld design. The auction is an interesting gimmick, since players have to ensure there are enough cards to last for the entire game. The first player of each auction is also at a disadvantage, and so players need to weigh whether it is worth actually winning the auction. There is a good amount of chaos in the placement of houses though, as opponents may inadvertently interfere with your secret objectives.

Rating: 6.5



Tesla vs. Edison: Powering Up!

There seems to be consensus that there was a huge oversight in the base game’s design and that this expansion overhauls the gameplay for the better. Having never experienced the base game on its own, I’ll just treat this expansion as if it were a reimplementation instead. Tesla vs. Edison resembles a lighter version of Power Grid infused with stock-holding elements – players increase the value of their respective companies primarily through powering up cities on the map, but they can purchase shares of other companies as well.

A large part of what makes the game tick is tied to the limited opportunities to obtain shares, and the fact that money is just so hard to come by for most of the game. Players often have to decide whether their money is better spent on shares – which in turn requires gauging the growth potential of each company – or increasing their own company’s presence on the board.

The historical flavour is neat, but doesn’t have an impact on the gameplay overall. I think there are areas of the game which could have used some refinement. The AC/DC fame track is slightly odd, because modifying it often results in opponents exploiting it before you are able to. Also, a few rules also aren’t particularly intuitive or deserved greater coverage in the player aid, like when discounts are applied or when profits are generated.

Rating: 6.5



Wallenstein (Second Edition)

I really like the base concept of the game – it’s a Euro at heart, since players have to balance collecting money and wheat to feed their populations. But it’s also a game where you have to step on the toes of other players, because it is important to seize territories for expansion. Pre-programming your actions is also handled cleverly, as each region can only perform one action each round.

However, this is a long game with lots of luck involved. Neither are bad characteristics on their own, but they are not a good combination. Luck here goes beyond the cube tower – there is also luck involved in the resolution of winter revolts, the sequence of actions each round, the blind bid for turn order and so on. Also, there are only six opportunities to decide your actions, and so there isn’t a lot of room to adapt to the changing conditions and do damage control. Definitely not a game I would object to playing for a second time, but the payoff isn’t satisfying either.

Rating: 5.5



A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)

This has a similar situation to Wallenstein in that it has a good base concept, but takes too long for what it is. This is also a game of conflict and pre-programming actions, but here each faction is differentiated according to its house cards and initial setup. (I’m not familiar with the books or series, by the way.) The one game I played dragged in the middle because no new units were being generated, and there were no opportunities to change the turn order. This might be a disappointing fringe case, but I’d be game to play this again.

Rating: 5.5

From gallery of shadow_bind




The Architects of the Colosseum

A quick but largely derivative game of collecting resources and fulfilling orders. Players’ actions are determined by moving a shared pawn around a central rondel. Whenever a player picks a terrain tile from a column, then all players who have tiles which match the next terrain tile on the column may collect resources.

Die Baumeister des Colosseum draws heavily from two games – Santiago de Cuba features a similar shared rondel, and the designer’s own Rapa Nui has a similar resource collection mechanism. Unfortunately, it is probably better to play those games instead. The choices here are too limited because it is plainly prohibitive to move far on the rondel. Also, the colosseum tiles have a difficult time standing vertically and do not create a convincing aesthetic. This is especially strange because the colosseum is there purely for cosmetic purposes and has no bearing on the gameplay.

Rating: 5.0



West of Africa

In West of Africa, players maintain a delicate balance between planting and selling crops, gaining majorities on islands and building settlements. This is done through a simultaneous action selection system, in which players secretly choose the combination of actions they want to take. The way turn order is decided is particularly interesting, as each action card has a particular value, and the player with the lowest total value goes first.

The thing about West of Africa is that its gameplay is tight. Extremely tight. And as much as I can appreciate tight games, I think this could have used more breathing space. The game is surprisingly short, and there are many prerequisites to fulfil before settlements can be built. Any diversion from the strict rhythm of buying and selling – either due to personal error or outside interference – can quickly snowball. On top of that, there are limitations on the number of available crop tokens and settlements to consider. These constraints make sense mechanically, but they also feel forced upon.

As a side note, I love the watercolour map, but the action cards could have used a few more icons because I kept confusing which actions needed to be paired up with island cards.

Rating: 5.0
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40. Board Game: Cobras [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:4860]
Board Game: Cobras
Tom P
United Kingdom
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Three new games in July, all of them good but Cobras the best.

I'm a trick taking addict and this recent kickstarter is even better than I hoped it would be. The best 'trick takers with a twist' really change the way you approach the game and the scoring here does just that, forcing you to balance your hand and get the timing just righ - shorting a suit can be fatal! The campaign was also very well run and the final product is really lovely. Very pleased with this one.

On the same night I played Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure, which I thoroughly enjoyed despite various elements that would normally put me off games. Not one I feel the need to own but certainly one to play if in the mood.

Finally, another trick taker, this time a bit older and more obscure - Auf falscher Fährte. I worried when reading the rules that it wolud be quite random and swingy but there's more interest that first appears. Certainly not a standout in my collection but glad I picked it up.
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41. Board Game: Werewords [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:780]
Board Game: Werewords
Goat Goatington
United Kingdom
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Werewords

An excellent social deduction game of 20 questions. It's going to be hard to avoid mentioning Insider because it does share the same basic idea - find the magic word - that I hadnt seen used in other similar games.

First, for those who haven't played Insider, this is an excellent game that I find much more satisfying than One Night, Resistance and similar. The game has a fixed timer so there's no risk of it running long like Resistance can but the puzzle of finding the word is much more satisfying than the One Night games. The mayor is a known role that must answer any and all questions with yes, no or maybe and you ask any questions you like in any order to try to discover the word before the timer runs out. The words vary from easy to impossible and the app manages the word list for you.

The werewolves are trying to stop the group from finding the word and will waste time and the limited number of questions trying to mislead the group while knowing the word themselves. Villagers have a seer that knows the word but must remain hidden from the werewolves. If the word is found, the werewolves can try to identify the seer to win. If the word isn't found then the group can try to identify the werewolves to win. The mayor can be one of these roles and a werewolf mayor is allowed to lie, which is balanced by the fact that you see what the word is before you vote for the werewolves.

The werewolf theme is largely irrelevant for me and feels a little weird. Coors Light is the magic word that banishes the werewolfs? I don't really care because it's not a game I play for theme, it's just a bit out of place. Groups will quickly settle on a way to ask early questions and the first questions of new games tend to be influenced by the results of previous games - is it an object? quickly runs into problems about whether living things are objects and so gets modified to cover that case.

I love the stories you get from this game. Questions seem stupid in hindsight, the mayor's answers are always suspected because they might be a werewolf, people simply have different ideas on what things mean. Magic word of Coors Light, question - is it smaller than this (large) table? Answer - maybe. The mayor reasoned that it's brewed in a large vat and so can be larger, but it's also smaller in bottle form. One game spent a while sidetracked on clarifying if the mayor knew what they were talking about when it turns out they were answering questions on the feeding habits of a pterodactyl.

I've played it with 4-11 players and I think it works well at all those counts. We played this 15 times in a row on the first night and I expect to keep playing it in the future.

Now to mention Insider. Werewords has different goals and the increased number of special roles and the app mean it feels like quite a different game to Insider. The werewolf goal is nothing like playing the insider. In fact, the seer role is exactly like playing the insider - guide the group to the word without revealing that you know the word - and it's a good role, not a traitor. It's similar to other games copying mechanics for me. Deckbuilders didn't end with Dominion and I don't think all games using it are clones of Dominion. I did read the thread about Oink's complaints and I don't think either party came off well from the published exchange.

This entirely replaces Insider for me. The only advantage that Insider has is a more streamlined concept but Werewords isn't complex so that's not too important. I do question how any group can solve the ridiculous words though. We must be really bad at this because medium is tricky and hard is occasionally almost impossible.



Fuji Flush
Board Game: Fuji Flush


A quick shedding card game with some very simple rules - play a card, kill all lower cards and hope nobody kills your card before you get another turn. If a card is killed you discard it and draw a new one, if it's there on your next turn you discard it and don't draw a replacement. The rule of combining identical cards to make larger numbers and the deck distribution (lots of low numbers, top numbers are unique) add just enough to the game to make it a fun 5-10 minute experience. Every turn is a simple decision - play high to hope to clear a card alone or play mid-low to group up with someone else - and you only have a few cards to choose but it's satisfying all the same.

Clearing your last card is largely luck based. Draw the top card, play it, hope it survives. If it doesn't, repeat. However, I don't think that's a problem in a game this quick. The last minute may be auto-pilot but the game isn't lessened for it. It's quick, it's fun to play multiple times and it works across a wide range of players, making it ideal for filling time between longer games. This was largely bought on a whim while in the store and it was a nice surprise to see it worked so well.



Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star
Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star
Board Game: Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star


An expansion to Xia that vastly improves the game by adding many new things. I think you can mix and match but we played with everything and the game is much better for the changes. It doesn't feature any single, big change as much as a series of smaller changes that add together to something big. I'd say this expansion is mandatory if you have Xia and would never want to play without it, even if playing with new players. It's hard to pick out the best bits when it has so many modules but I think my favourites are:

Downtime is greatly reduced by the new mission collection and respawn rules. These could easily be ported to the base game without the expansion and are how they should have been done in the first place.

The extra modules for ships are great. There are two new modules that add external storage to your ship - one square sits on a cargo slot as normal and the other 3 are outside the board either adding 3 more cargo spots for goods or 3 more damage spots. There are also new 1-slot modules to modify engine dice rolls, increase concurrent missions and make weapons more effective. All the new modules are easy to fit into your ship and give you more choices and flexibility in ship layouts. It doesn't feel mandatory to move up to the higher level ships now just to get some actual cargo space.

Events are drawn from the deck as people reach certain point milestones for the first time and can dramatically change the game. Some are permanent rule changes, some introduce timed effects but they all add some needed variability when you're largely done with exploring the map.


I still have some problems with Xia and I don't think they can really be fixed. The dice are still swingy (the engine mod feels like a concession to this), it still has long downtime even with low player counts and the map can end up being a real pain to navigate if you draw the tiles in a bad order. That said, I'd be much more happy to play this again now the expansion is added in.



The Fox in the Forest
Board Game: The Fox in the Forest


A trick taking game for exactly 2 players, making it very unusual. I've played plenty of trick taking games before but most require at least 3 people to be reasonable, often 4+. I definitely enjoyed this and I think there are two big reasons it works - the scoring system and the special abilities. To save some typing, a picture of the summary cards:

From gallery of Goateh


Scoring is based on number of tricks won. There are 13 tricks per hand and being 2 player, tricks won is very direct and zero sum. Scoring 0-3 tricks means your opponent must have 10-13, which is net gain +6 for you but hitting 4 tricks is -6 for you. Scoring 6 tricks means your opponent scored 7, giving you net -3 points. You have the usual tension of when to win, when to lose despite only having 2 players because of this scoring system.

Cards are in 3 suits numbered 1-11 and every odd number has a special ability as above. Suit isn't important, just the number. Special powers in trick taking games aren't new but again, these are well suited to a 2 player game. I think my favourites are the 1, which loses the trick in almost all cases but retains control, and the 3, which swaps the trump mid-hand and can change things dramatically.

I was sceptical this could work but it really does. Definitely one I want to play much more of. The artwork is a nice bonus as well. All the odd cards have pictures on them of their namesake (a swan, a fox, etc.) with different variations for each suit and they look incredible. It feels very incidental during play so it isn't as important as art often is in a game, it's just a nice bonus.
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42. Board Game: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:32]
Board Game: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Oliver Paul
Iceland
Reykjavik
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Looots of new games in July, which is a bit of a departure from the last few months. I've been trying to hold off on new games, play what I have, be thankful and all that! Pffff, screw that, try all the new games! My gf and I visited Orlando for Dice Tower Convention! This is the 4th time in 6 years that we've gone, and it's grown at an incredible rate. Even though the number of attendees has gone up by like 500% since our first convention, it doesn't feel very crowded, just a lot of people playing games. Still, Florida is just too hot. I don't know how people can live there.

Anyways, lots of good games! Also, lots of bad games. That's about par for the course. I'll give a sentence or two about each one so this entry doesn't balloon out of control.

Great

Aeon's End - Interesting cooperative deck builder where you don't shuffle your cards, which removes the luck of the shuffling. Narrowly lost at the end, but had a great time. New version coming in a month or two which supposedly fixes my biggest complaint, the massively oversized box. Looking forward to getting a copy of it.

Codenames Duet - Liked Codenames, didn't like Codenames Pictures. We've played a bit of 2p Codenames, and while it's not bad, it's not great either. This definitely elevates 2p Codenames into something that you'd actually want to play. Everyone was saying how hard it was, but we didn't seem to have too much problems with it. The hardest thing was just to remember that you're sometimes allowed to point at the assassin, since your opponent's assassins are in slightly different places.

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition - Liked this one a lot! Played the 1st edition a couple of times, and while we liked it, we're not huge fans of 1 vs all games. Also, the chance of setting something up wrong and completely ruining the scenario was always looming.

Anyways, this new edition uses a well-integrated app which deals with a lot of the decks and events and timers that you'd need. I wish there was an undo feature, since I clicked 'Confirm' a few times without realizing it. Also, this reaaaally needs some sort of storage solution. We got the base game along with both figure&tile collections, and finding certain monsters in the box is almost impossible.

Near and Far - I'm putting this in the 'Great' category mainly for the promise of the campaign, which sounds amazing. We liked Above and Below, but since the stories are always random each game, there was little in terms of a coherent storyline. In Near and Far you can go through a whole campaign (11 games if I remember correctly) where all the storyline snippets are about your character, or tell a long, coherent story, which sounds amazing! The game itself isn't bad, but the rating is mainly for my expectations going forward.
Shout out to Shane for the great rules explanation! You should get a commission from Red Raven, as this is the second of their games that I've bought after a demo from you

Paths of Glory - Finally got in a learning game of this (thanks to Mark!) at Dice Tower Con, and it was definitely good to have someone sitting at the table who knew the rules inside and out. We set it up and played through 2 full turns before packing up, which took around 2 hours, which isn't bad given that we had rules questions every 30 seconds or so. It took almost the full 2 turns to internalize the rules, and be able to formulate some strategies and start to play the game the way it's meant to be played. Excited to play a real game of this soon!

Viticulture + Tuscany expansion - Another demo we got at DTC, and another game we subsequently purchased. Not sure I would've bought it had we not played with the Tuscany expansion, as I think it might be a bit too simplistic without it. Really basic worker placement game, where the multiple different card decks are really at the heart of the game. This can be a good thing, since variability is quite high. It can also be a bit annoying, if you draw lots of cards that don't really help you at that time in the game. Would definitely recommend getting the Tuscany expansion immediately, since thing like structures and advanced workers are a great addition. Not really sold on the star map, seems to be tacked on as an afterthought.

Good

The Captain is Dead - Imagine Pandemic, except twice as hard and in space! If I can summarize our game of this, lots of bad stuff happened and then we died. Truly brutal. Variability between games might be a bit worrying, but I won't judge after only one game.

What we enjoyed most about this game was probably the big stack of different roles you can be, which all seemed different and interesting. Some seemed better than others, though. Also, there were some hilarious spelling errors and typos littered throughout the copy, but it might've been some sort of prototype. All in all, solid cooperative game.

Castaways - Wanted to get my hands on this for years, finally found a used copy at the DTC Virtual Flea Market (actually got Zee's copy). Had heard that the semi-coop didn't really work, and it was too easy if you played purely coop. This is definitely true. Also, in pure coop, there is almost no reason for more than one person to do all the exploring, so I just stayed back at camp, getting food and wood and just putzing about, while my gf had lots of adventures. That was not as exciting.

The game has a lot of very interesting things in it, mainly the story cards that can come back later, similar to the event cards in Robinson Crusoe. I think I still like Robinson Crusoe more than this, since the worker placement portion of this game seemed a little bit simplistic for my taste.

Deckscape: Test Time - Really interesting little escape room game, where it's only a deck of cards. Without going into any spoilers, I really enjoyed that there were always multiple puzzles to solve, so if you were stuck on one part, you could move to another. Also, I liked the hint system. Thumbs up!

Downforce - I liked this a lot more than my gf did, although that's not saying much. We also played a 2p game, which I suspect is not ideal. We were waiting for a raffle announcement over the intercom at DTC, and just randomly sat at the table where this was set up. Racing games have been very hit or miss for me. I hated Formula D, liked Thunder Alley even with the high amount of randomness. This one was somewhere in between. I liked the cards and the special abilities, even though some seemed wildly better than others. Also, the blocking on the map was fun, trying to play cards so that your opponent's cars moved less than they should.

Escape Room: The Game - Welcome to Funland - New entry into the Escape Room: The Game series, which we mostly like, although it's had some duds. This one was fine, we enjoyed it, but I've already forgotten most of it. Recommended for an hour's worth of puzzle-solving fun.

Islebound - Another Ryan Laukat game, this one I rank somewhere between Near and Far (really like) and 8 Minute Empire (really hate). This one was middle of the road, enjoyable, but a bit too long for what it offers. Great artwork, as usual.

The Networks - I'd been avoiding this one for a while, since I really don't like card drafting. However, I don't mind card drafting if all the cards are face-up on the table, as they are in this game. I'm wary of games where a big part of the enjoyment is in the funny names on cards (as in Munchkin or CAH), since that initial humor often wears off quickly. I'm not saying that that's the case here, but it might be.

One Deck Dungeon - Really interesting little card/dice game with a pretty bad rulebook. Gives you the feel of a dungeon crawl, in about a quarter of the time required to play something like Descent. Also, it's cooperative, which we always like better than 1 vs all.

Outdoor Survival - Had wanted to play this for years, and quickly scooped up a cheap copy at the DTC Virtual Flea Market. I had heard so many bad things about this game, that I expected a horrid (yet hilarious) game. It's actually better than people say. Sure, you can roll poorly, make literally no choices, then die, but that's mainly the fault of the first scenario.

If you play some of the others, you usually have some choices on your turn. Sure, the game is very random, and very hard, but if you go into it with the mindset that bad stuff will happen, and to just go with the flow, it can definitely be enjoyable.

Raiders of the North Sea - Cute little worker placement, where you place a worker, then pick up another worker, and get both actions, all to build up to go raiding and get points and rewards and stuff. Enjoyable.

Sagrada - This one was hugely popular at DTC, I was on the waiting list for hours to get a copy. Didn't expect to like it much, but it was an interesting little dice placement game. Think something like Blueprints, except better. Looks beautiful, and makes you think (not much, but a little!).

Star Trek Panic - We really like Castle Panic (w/ Wizard's Tower expansion), and I like Star Trek, so I picked this up. Almost feels like a variant of Castle Panic, with the Star Trek theme put on top. I'm not sure my gf would ever pick this over the original, but it's a good change of pace once in a while.

Meh

The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac - Fun game for about 2-3 plays, which is when the replayability runs out. Some in the group hated it, some liked it. I thought it was merely ok.

Amerigo - I'm starting to think that the only Stefan Feld I actually like is Burgundy. This one, like so many others, I thought wasn't bad, just wasn't terribly good either. I really hated the use of the cube tower in this one, since it seemed to make the game be on rails.

Bohnanza: The Duel - I really like Bohnanza, but we rarely have more than 2-3p at game nights, so I'm always looking for good 2p variants for games I already like. I'm not sure this is one. I liked the fact that you have more choices in putting down beans, but that also reduced the tension of having to plant. I liked the offering of gifts. However, the contracts were not great, and felt really fiddly. We would stop the game every 30 seconds or so with "Wait! I have a contract!". Not great, but I'll give it some more plays.

Bubblee Pop - Kindof felt like Puzzle Bobble, but just a looot slower. The reason why we play these kinds of games on our phones or on our computers is because they play fast and we're involved the whole time. Now imagine playing that kind of game async with another person. That would be interminable. Bubblee Pop wasn't interminable, but it wasn't great, either.

Dairyman - Another dice game where you don't make many choices, and even when you do, they're not really interesting. Pass.

Ethnos - Possibly the most popular game at DTC, it was checked out and the demo table was occupied the entire convention, and it took us until the last day to get in a game. Definitely wasn't worth the wait. We played the rules a bit wrong, as well as playing it at a less than ideal player count (2p), but I still don't want to try it again. This is bland in a box.

I'm sure there are people out there that enjoy it, but I'm not one of them.

Explorers of the North Sea - Second game in the North Sea trilogy that we tried out, and this one doesn't come close to Raiders. It's not a bad game, and it was a pleasant experience, but it was never terribly interesting, and ran way too long for the amount of choices it offers. OK.

Hanamikoji - You know the feeling in games like Battle Line or Lost Cities, where you have a hand of cards, but don't want to play any of them since that will give your opponent more information or a leg up when it's their turn? I don't like that feeling in games, where when it gets to your turn, you don't want to do anything. That's a bad feeling. Hanamikoji has that feeling for the entire game. It's not a bad game, I just don't enjoy it.

Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft - Do uninteresting actions to get cards to get points. No thanks.

Ice Cool - Not a bad game, and I realize it's intended for kids, but we often like those kinds of games, mainly as drinking/party games. The problem with this one is that it's like 5 minutes long. I like light games as much as the next guy, but that's just too short. Also, the boxes were all a bit off, meaning that the playing area wasn't flat, and the doors were often misaligned. Not great.

In the Year of the Dragon - Uff, Stefan Feld at his meanest. Mean coming from the game, not the other players. I ended the game with barely any points, as most of my guys died. That wasn't fun. Every round felt like you had a very limited decision space available to you, if you wanted to keep your guys, and even then some of them might die. The choices were never 'fun'.

The Lost Expedition - I really dislike coop games where you can't really talk to the other players and strategize. That's the reason I disliked The Grizzled. Same thing here.

Nations: The Dice Game - Wow, this is bland in a box. This might as well be an abstract game, as the different buildings and workers and such really had nothing to offer other than "this gives me a red die, this gives me a blue, so I'll do this one".

Port Royal - Had high hopes for this one, as it had been praised by a lot of people. Might be my disappointment of the con. It's not a bad game, I just didn't enjoy playing it. Might have also been because we played it at the hotel restaurant, and the waiter brought us raw chicken, which wasn't ideal. Thankfully, no salmonella, from the chicken or from the game.

Subdivision - Abstract game with weird scoring rules that really has nothing to do with the Suburbia, even though it looks a lot like it. I think that does this game a disservice, as people will inevitably go into this game with expectations just because of the way the game looks.

Via Nebula - This isn't bad, it's just too short. We played a 2p game, and I think it took us around 30 minutes. Also, I felt like some cards/buildings were wildly better than others. Need to play it some more to form a final opinion.

Wonky - There are so many better dexterity/stacking games out there than this. The cards are absolute nonsense, as they are rendered useless within a couple turns. I'd much rather play Riff Raff or Rhino Hero than this.

Bad

Balloon Pop! - This... was not good. A roll and write game where you have almost no choices. No.

Escape Room: The Game - Murder Mystery - Maybe we were just having a bad night, but this was our worst Escape Room experience ever. We usually like those kinds of games, even when they're hard. We'll look at some hints, and even the solution, and say "Ooooh, we totally should've gotten that, that's clever!". Not so in this one. We could barely make any progress, ending up looking at solutions online probably 3-4 times, and each time saying "Wait, what? How in the hell were we supposed to get that?". Maybe it was a perfect storm of puzzles engineered counter to how our brains are wired, but we didn't enjoy this at all.

Obtuse and purposefully ridiculous puzzles made this into our worst escape room experience ever.

Evil Genius: Deathray - Got this for free at the raffle at DTC, and we still paid too much. This is absolute garbage.

Potion Explosion - Don't get the love for this at all. I hated my one play of it. Maybe it was because when it came around to my turn, every single damn time, there was never more than one marble I could take. I was getting a bit exasperated when my gf took like 7 marbles, and ended the game, netting like 15 points in one action. Then I knew I never wanted to play this game again.

Shipwrights of the North Sea - The third game in the North Sea trilogy, and by far the worst. This is a shitty take that game dressed up in really good artwork and components.

What's Up - Another game we got for free, and that was still too high a cost. This is really random, and I have no idea how it's getting good reviews.
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43. Board Game: Vast: The Crystal Caverns [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:572] [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Board Game: Vast: The Crystal Caverns
I played a two player game and a four player game. We enjoyed it. But its clear that its going to take several games to really get a feel for this. Both consisted of everyone just sitting there trying to figure out how to play.

Looking forward to playing this more. Right now i'm trying to stick to 4 and 5 player games.
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44. Board Game: Viticulture Essential Edition [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:21]
Board Game: Viticulture Essential Edition
Jan
Germany
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Best games in July

I went to a convention last month and played (and bought) a bunch of very good games. It's called "Berlin Brettspiel Con" and is a fairly small convention. I went to Essen last year and I have to say I enjoyed the small convention more than the "Spiel". It was simply more relaxed and not as crowded. Some of the games I played may be on the market for quite some time now, but I'm not the kind of guy who instantly buys every new hyped game. So I may be a little late to the party with Scythe or Viticulture

Viticulture Essential Edition

Board Game: Viticulture Essential Edition

Love this game and so does everybody else I played it with. I knew it was good and of course it's a fairly safe buy, because it's rank 31 here at BGG. The price on the convention was crucial, as it was much cheaper than online, so I went for it. My complaints for this game a really small and nitpicky.





Short:
+ very thematic (unique theme)
+ awesome graphics and components
+ not too complicated
+ still some good strategical decisions to make
- building tokens are a bit difficult to differentiate
- bottle token could have been a bit bigger and steadier
- victory point track could have been a bit longer (two players went over 25 the first game)



Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure

From gallery of Photodump

A new fresh take on the deck building mechanism. I really like Dominion, but it can get a bit dry, just buying and shuffling. Clank! is more thematic and has this cool movement mechanism. The push your luck element is nice, too. One of my favourite elements in games! What can I say, I really liked it. It was awesome.





Short:
+ funny theme
+ nice approach on the deck building mechanism
+ some player interaction, but not too backstabby
+ easy to learn
- too pricey at the moment here in Germany
- player elimination



Scythe

Board Game: Scythe

I finally got to play Scythe. I was sceptical from the beginning of the hype, because I thought: "Uh, just another over-complex game which is above mediocre because of the quality of the components." But it was different. I liked the theme the first time I saw Scythe. I watched some reviews and rules explanations to see if this is a game I would enjoy playing. I wasn't convinced, and I didn't put it on my wishlist. Now that I've played it, I find it really amazing. I find it a bit too complex in the beginning, because the number of choices is overwhelming. But the longer I played, the more I appreciated the different options to choose from. I really like that there are so many possible strategies for victory. Seems like it's going to come on my wishlist again.

Short:
+ nice, unique theme
+ very nice art and components
+ many paths to victory
+ a lot of different combinations of factions and special powers
- bit too complex in the beginning (analysis paralysis alert)



Tiny Epic Galaxies

Board Game: Tiny Epic Galaxies

Best small box game I own. Everybody who played it, liked it so far. Choices are not too complex. Bad luck in dice rolls can be compensated really well by acquiring energy and spend it to re-roll. You can also follow the actions of the other players, so luck has even less influence here. I have to admit, following the "Aquire culture" action to gain two or even three culture every time almost feels like cheating.

Short:
+ easy to teach
+ dice rolling, but luck has not that big of an impact
+ small box, epic game
- following the action 'Acquire culture' can give you nearly infinite culture



Raiders of the North Sea

Board Game: Raiders of the North Sea

I like worker placement games, so this one is not very different. The twist is, that you place your worker and then you take another worker back. So you can't do more than two actions on your turn. I like the viking theme and the overall quality of the components. I felt that the choices you can make are a bit too limited. Everybody tries to do the same thing: raiding. Whatever tactic you follow, everybody has to raid in order to win. So everybody has to take the same actions over and over again in preparation. The amount of luck involved in the game was on the edge of being too much for my taste. I can deal with the random crew members, but in combination with the dice rolling, it's nearly too much.
Overall it's still a solid game.

Short:
+ nice new approach on worker placement
+ nice components and art
+ compact box
- not too different from other worker placement games
- actions are too limited
- too much luck involved?
- a tad too long for the game that it is



Pocket Mars

From gallery of Photodump

The mars theme is really popular nowadays, so we tried this one. Is is more complex than we first thought, the decisions you have to make can be really tough. You should always plan a turn ahead. There is a fair amount of player interaction and a bit of 'take that'. The right amount in my opinion. It's a fast game with simple rules and it falls in the category 'easy to teach, hard to master'. Play time is with 30 minutes pretty short and it can be over really sudden.

Short
+ small, but complex decisions
+ right amount of player interaction
+ short, easy to teach



Magic Maze

Board Game: Magic Maze

This one was really fun! We were a group of strangers and we nearly failed the first scenario. But we had a good time nonetheless. I like the fresh concept. You can't talk and you can only do a limited amount of actions. Mostly just one action. You have to guess what other people think and what they want you to do. All that in a limited amount of time. The scenarios are getting more difficult every time and a new rule is added. I really like that approach. This way you're not overwhelmed with rules in the beginning. This makes it a good entrance into the hobby, as it is cooperative too.

Short:
+ Funny theme
+ new, fresh concept
+ increasing difficulty
+ easy rules, getting more complex with higher scenarios
- sometimes too much going on, as everybody tries to grab the pawns
- can get frustrating when someone's not getting your strategy



EXIT: Das Spiel – Die verbotene Burg

Board Game: Exit: The Game – The Forbidden Castle

Exit as usual, nothing more to say. After 6 parts of the KOSMOS Exit series and 3 Unlock scenarios, I'm slowly getting bored by those games. But I wait until after the next 3 Exit series parts. Nevertheless, it is a great game with new and interesting puzzles and riddles.

Short:
+ Cool new puzzles
+ Not too hard



The Quest for El Dorado

Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado

Another nice take on the deck building mechanism. In combination with a racing game. It's usually a good sign, when I want to play another round of the game after I finished it. So I like the concept of the game. Why just 3 and a half stars then? I don't know what exactly it is I disliked if I'm being honest. And don't get me wrong, this is definitely a good game. But in comparison with the other games I played at the convention, it is just not as good as the others. It is nice for families and was nominated for SdJ, so when you have kids, try this (although I might imagine they're not that good at shuffling cards).

Short:
+ fast to learn and to play
+ variable game setup
+ a bit of player interaction
- tiny cards (this is a deck builder, it's all about the cards)
- luck seems to have a bigger impact than in other deck builders



Dice Forge

Board Game: Dice Forge

Unfortunately we played the game wrong. We thought everybody rolls their dice once, then everybody takes their action clockwise and then follows the next round. Turns out everybody rolls their dice on every turn of another player, too. This way you get a realistic amount of resources until it's your turn. So it may be unfair to rate the game, because we played it wrong, but I'd had given it a half or one star, if that were the right rules, we were playing by. Reason is, I like the dice crafting mechanism, but I think one could've made something better with it. It's the only mechanic in the game, and the only interesting aspect. Components and insert are top, though. It's just a bit fiddly to change the dice sides. A tool for that would've be nice.

Short:
+ nice, fresh idea
+ great components
- everything besides the dice crafting is boring
- fiddly to change dice sides



Memoarrr!

Board Game: Memoarrr!

More of a kids game and I have to admit I hate memory games. But I had fun and it's a lightweight, short game that you can take on holidays with the kids. I would say the target group is primary families, because the maximum player count is 4. If it were able to be played with up to 8 people, it would've made a nice party game, too.

Short:
+ short, easy
- only 4 players
- memory game, nearly no strategy



Pirates of the 7 Seas

Board Game: Pirates of the 7 Seas

All I have to say to this game is: "Meh." It's not a bad game, but it was nothing I enjoyed playing. Seemed pretty random and I was not convinced by the mechanisms. Can be good with families or kids and if you're a real fan of pirate games. But there are better games with pirates themes.

Short:
- random
- nothing spectacular
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45. Board Game: Happy Salmon [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1167] [Average Rating:6.78 Unranked]
Board Game: Happy Salmon
Johannes cum Grano Salis
United States
Finger Lakes
New York
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Oh, you guys with your Euros and your photos...

Two new games in July, both bite-sized. Happy Salmon was ridiculous fun. The game is simple. All players are dealt an identical hand of cards (three each of four different actions: "Fist Bump," "High Five," "Switcheroo," and "Happy Salmon"). Then at the same time everyone calls out the top card of their deck, as they look for another player with that same card. If they match, they perform the action, toss their (now spent) card onto the table, and move to the next. First player to get rid of all their cards wins. It takes a minute or two to play a round, and you play until you all agree you're done. Which in our case, was somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes -- we had a family event where we rotated 3-5 different kids and kid-like adults in and out of the game for a loooooooong time. Close cousins, distant cousins, neighbors, friends, friends' kids. Well worth the $12 I paid for it.

My only other new game was Jump Drive with a new game partner. I'm not wild about Race for the Galaxy, to be honest, so I wasn't sure what to expect with Jump Drive. But it's short, it's clear, it moves briskly, and was...actually kind of fun despite not being my type of game. I personally think engine building is crazy tedious if it goes on for more than about 30 minutes, so Jump Drive was perfect in that sense. I'll play it again this week at some point, and could easily see picking it up to deal it over lunch on my own -- there's really no difference playing it solo vs. playing it opposed, Trade Federation card notwithstanding. At heart it's a set of parallel engine-building activities where you compare points at the end. And in 10-15 minutes, I'm perfectly OK with that.
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46. Board Game: Yokohama [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:101]
Board Game: Yokohama
Keith Rudolph
Canada
Langdon
Alberta
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Yokohama
Board Game: Yokohama

This is the one I was looking forward to most of all as we've had the deluxe edition for a couple of months now and finally got around to giving it a try. The game looks like it's more complicated than it really is and plays very smoothly. While we both like long games, my wife felt like this one perhaps went on a little too long for what it was; it probably didn't help that I was dragging things out a little by not emptying the order cards as my strategy didn't lie in that direction. She enjoyed the game for the most part but just felt it dragged towards the end. Part of that might have just been that it was a bit of a long day already or just trying to get a firm grasp on the game in general. It's certainly one that we'll have to play a couple of more times to really get a good feel for, but I've really liked what I've seen so far!

AssassinCon
Board Game: AssassinCon

I got this one in a math trade to give it a try at work with the guys at lunch. It's not exactly a deep game but it's a neat little deduction and movement puzzle game as you try to catch kill off your target without giving yourself away or getting whacked yourself. I don't know how often this one will get played but it should make an appearance from time-to-time.

Welcome to the Dungeon
Board Game: Welcome to the Dungeon

I had wanted to try this one for a while and got a chance to do so with the lunch group at work. It's not quite as interesting as I thought it would be, but it's a fun enough little filler game where I can see playing it on occasion.

T.I.M.E Stories: Lumen Fidei
Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories: Lumen Fidei

The quality has not improved at all as of the Lumen Fidei module. There were a number of times that we had to read the card, read it again, shake our heads, read it again, and eventually figure out what the translation was supposed to mean. The text just doesn't flow and is incredibly jarring as a native English speaker. Phrases aren't conjugated correctly and there are places where they use words that just don't make sense given the context.

Honestly, I found reading Lumen Fidei to be like driving down a highway and suddenly hitting a speed bump that wasn't there a second ago. You need to stop, look at your car, wonder if that piece really looked like that BEFORE you hit the bump, settle on everything being okay, getting back into your car, and start driving again. And then a few minutes later, you hit another speed bump you swear wasn't there a second ago...

Exploding Kittens
Board Game: Exploding Kittens

I suppose it's technically a game - just not a particularly good one. Or a particularly interesting one. There is zero strategy or depth to this one. It was somewhat amusing to try and I feel like this is something that's going to make semi-regular appearances during lunch at work... I'm just not going to be the one to ever suggest this "game".

Century: Spice Road
Board Game: Century: Spice Road

This one easily kicked Splendor to the curb for us. I honestly never understood how that game got nominated for an SdJ, let alone win one. Century: Spice Road has the same weight as Splendor, the same complete lack of theme as Splendor, but is more interesting in that you're trying to build an engine from your hand of cards to trade resources for others in an efficient way to purchase point cards. Very easy to learn and play like the other one but offers slightly more meaningful decisions.

Barenpark
Board Game: Bärenpark

My wife got burned out on Patchwork between our physical plays and all of her plans on her phone while looking after the little one, so she was more keen on trying this one than I was. A slightly more interesting Patchwork is really how I'd describe it. Again, simple to learn and play but offers a few more interesting decisions. We've only played this one once so far so I'm still on the fence about it and I'm not too sure why. It feels a lot like Patchwork which I enjoy and has some objectives to work towards, but this one didn't grab me on that first play. I'm hoping I'll warm up to it as we got (and Century) to fit into the shorter periods where we want to play something but don't have enough time to play something heavier while our daughter is napping or after a long day.
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47. Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:16]
Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel
john newman
United States
Lafayette
Louisiana
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Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel


Played 2 times

Rating 8.0]/b]

I enjoyed this much more than 7 Wonders. The sudden-death victory conditions keep you on you toes. Clever card draftIng system for two-players, which creates a tension between how much you want to draft a card versus making cards available to your opponent. its possible that after repeated plays that this would become a top 5 or 10 two-player game for me.


Board Game: Ethnos


[b]Played 2 times


Rating 7.5

Enjoyable area-control/set collection game. It is one of the few area-control games that I enjoy and I believe it would be much easiler to get this to the table than El Grande. Yet, compelling that makes this game stick out. I would never turn a game down, but I do not feel a need to own it.

Board Game: 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis



Played 2 times

Rating 6.5


This is a game I was looking forward to playing and was mildly diasappointed. It's a solid game, but I didn't feel immersed in the game. I know Twilight Struggle uses an area control mechanic, but here it just didn't feel right. I moved cubes to garner prestige, but I didn't feel like Kennnedy or Kruzxhev. I would never refuse a game. Solid mechanics, but if I am going to play a two-player game similar to this, I'd rather play a straight up war game. I will give it a few more tries, but it may be up for trade shortly.
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48. Board Game: Go Nuts for Donuts [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:2396]
Board Game: Go Nuts for Donuts
Kirk Groeneweg
United States
Clear Lake
Iowa
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Only one new game for me in July. Pretty slow month for me in general.

I received my kickstarter copy last week and broke it out with my game group on Thursday night. We had a great time playing. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. That's when I knew it was a good game.
Simple mechanics: lay out donuts (player count +1), everybody secretly chooses which donut they'd like to take with cards in their hands. Everyone reveals which donut they chose. If you are the only person to choose a donut, you get it. If two or more choose that donut it gets discarded.
It's a lightweight game and really good with a family or fun 30-minute filler game. I really like the simple art. I highly recommend this game.
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49. Board Game: Elysium [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:409]
Board Game: Elysium
Vegard Stillerud
Norway
Drammen
Buskerud
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1. ELYSIUM


The best new to me game of July is Elysium, which I rate 7/10. Neat brain burner, and I liked trying to wrap my head around how to use the pillars most efficiently. Also, the art work is really, really great in this one!

2. THROUGH THE AGES: A NEW STORY OF CIVILIZATIONS


My second favorite game of July is the "new" edition of TTA. It is the most comprehensive civ game I have played (not that I have played many), and I appreciate that. However, I still find that the game is unnecessary fiddly for a revamped edition of the game, and the text on the cards are at times horrendously written and easily misunderstood. One would think that stuff like this had been cleaned up!

3. GOLD WEST


There's really not that much to say about this one, other than it being a fast paced brain burner of a euro that gave me a good time.

4. STRONGHOLD


Neat concept, but once again I just can't see why it wasn't streamlined even more before the second edition was given out. I haven't played the first edition, but if it is even more fiddly than this one, it must have been a MESS!

I've played it twice, and while it is fun to take turns going back and forth answering one another's moves, the game as a whole felt way too fiddly with lots of unnecessary complexity and in both games the ending just sort of came out of nowhere, which felt really anti climactic.

5. VIKINGS GONE WILD


It's just like Dominion (which I love), but with less variability and longer set up (which I don't love). It's an ok game, just nothing I need to play again.

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50. Board Game: Near and Far [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:143] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Board Game: Near and Far
Zack Stackurski
United States
Mankato
Minnesota
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I love almost all games, play Boardgames with my wife, have three kids, generally enjoy cats and understand and like those bumper stickers with the little fishies sprouting legs.
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Board Game: Near and Far


Rating 8 after 3 plays

Near and Far would be an adequate, light worker placement game if that's all there was to it. But the purpose of that worker placing is to get your standee out on the map as efficiently well equipped as possible to go have some story book adventures. This works well enough in the introductory scenario and "arcade deck" but it really shines in the campaigns where results from decisions made in one scenario can effect what happens to you in later scenarios and you can end up on side quests over multiple adventures that tell complete stories. Much like the worker placement the actual adventuring is fairly simple as you roll a die, add modifiers then spend resources if available to modify your roll in hopes of reaching a target number... but if like me your find the story rewarding enough you can look past the simple and a bit repetitive game play to enjoy it.

My daughter is so smitten with this game we've convinced my friend who owns it to make some time outside our regular game group to play through the campaign with us. Even with that on our schedule I still might buy my own copy to go back through the adventures to try different paths and see all the stories we're missing on this first play through.

Board Game: Century: Spice Road


Rating 7 after 4 plays

Century: Spice Road has been quite a hit with my family and my local game group. I really enjoy Concordia, so seeing its hand building mechanic used so well in a lighter, faster game was very nice. The game itself is all about creating an engine in your hand to trade in one kind of cube for better cubes to gain sets to fulfill score cards. While this is pretty simple stuff trying to out efficient your opponents and modify your hand to better target the changing score cards is quite satisfying in a game that clocks in under half an hour including rules explanation. This has gotten a lot of plays in my groups in the past couple of weeks so I could see some burn out setting in... but once the plays even out I see Spice Road becoming a pretty regular go to filler to wind up or wind down game nights.

Board Game: Delve


Rating 7 after 3 plays

Delve is a light tile placing and area control game that is a bit like a cross between Carcassonne and Dungeon Crawling. At first glance the game seems like it will be all too chaotic with all the die rolling and unknown goals on the cards but somehow it all seems to fit and there is some definite strategy to riding the chaos. For instance, even though control of a room is determined by die roll the number and quality of dice you roll are determined by which pieces you place in each room. This means its usually easy to pick a winner without a single die being rolled... but there are prevalent exploding dice so you can never be entirely sure. There are also boosts you can spend your XP on that can help a player defeat even seemingly overwhelming odds against them. My favorite part of the game though are the adventure cards. If you manage to seal off a room all to yourself your reward is not certain. You have to draw a card with some quick adventure text and choice which can lead to automatic victory, more die rolling, or even permanently losing one of your playing pieces. The text on many of these are good enough that I'd love to use them for setup on encounters in some real D&D sessions and I'm pretty tempted to take notes on a full game of Delve to turn the map into a full Roleplaying session. If that's not a success for a dungeon building game I don't know what is.

Board Game: Delve

My kids competing in the dungeon

That being said the game is not without its flaws. There are some timing issues with die rolls and rewards that are a bit vague in the rules, though the designers are quite active on BGG and have cleared up everything I've seen come up so far. It also is a bit more complicated than it looks at first glance. My kids can go through the motions of laying tiles and putting adventurers on them, but the resolution of these actions remain a bit of a mystery to them. My biggest complaint though was the choice to make one type of room and the corridors two nearly identical shades of tan. This would make sense if the aesthetic was all about dingy dungeons... but the other room color choice is a bright blue! Every game there are a couple times when I have to remind others, or catch myself, trying to illegally connect things because the tans are so similar. If there is a second edition with some nice red brick corridors or clearly very grey rooms I might have to pick it up just so the tile colors stop annoying me.

Regardless of all that Delve has been a fun experience of a game both with my kids and my local game group. Definitely worth a try if you think a Dungeon Crawling experience distilled down into a light tile laying game sounds like your cup of grog.

Board Game: Fairy Tale


Rating 7 after 1 play

I'm not sure Fairy Tale belongs at the bottom of this list. My local group rather enjoys drafting games and found this older one surprisingly fresh in a crowded field. We particularly liked how you draft a complete hand then have a couple rounds of playing your cards. This added another strategic level over the draft one play one 7 Wonders made so popular. You also only play 3 cards from each hand of 5 so there is something of an emphasis on hate drafting cards away from people. If the game forces you to throw stuff away it might as well be the cards your neighbor needs most!

So with all that positive stuff to say, why didn't I put this higher on my list? Well, I only played one time so we were somewhat hindered by misunderstanding the scoring symbols on the cards. Hopefully the newest Z-Man edition has ironed out its rule book but we were quite confused and I'm sure there were some things we scored wrong. I looked through BGG for clarification after the game and think I can explain all the scoring properly next time. That coupled with a better understanding of what cards are available will improve our next play and if we enjoy it as much as I think we will Fairy Tale could become a long lasting staple in my collection. Time will tell!
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