The Best Games of Gen Con 2018
Brandon Kempf
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Gen Con 2018 has already come and gone and apparently here on BGG we are looking forward to Essen Spiel already.

But in order to preserve and remember Gen Con 2018, I'm going to do another one of my Living Lists, my top games of Gen Con 2018 that will ebb and flow and change as I play through the crowded field of games I picked up, and the titles that friends picked up. This may take till Gen Con 2019, but we'll see how many we can get through and rank. The list goes from worst to first, enjoy!

Don't forget to click the subscribe button if you want updates throughout the year as I play more games from this year's Gen Con.

The games I brought home from Gen Con 2018



Note: I probably won't put Meeple Circus in this list, even though after playing it we absolutely loved it, but it was a 2017 release, either Gen Con or Essen Spiel, I forget which. Also, even though I played Orbis & Shadows: Amsterdam at Gen Con 2018, neither were available for sale, so I won't add them. One would be at the bottom of the list though, and the other would be far closer to the top.

8/12/18 - Added Spirits of the Forest, dude & Piepmatz.

8/13/18 - Added Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger

8/15/18 - Added Downforce: Danger Circuit

8/19/18 - Added Everdell & Villainous

8/21/18 - Added Clank! Expeditions: Gold and Silk

8/23/18 - Added Coimbra

8/26/18 - Added Mesozooic & Paper Tales

9/5/18 - Added Fortune City

9/6/18 - Added Root

9/11/18 - Added Catch the Moon & Mercado

9/18/18 - Added Dragon Master

10/11/18 - Added Gunkimono

The List as of 10/11/18

29) Forbidden Sky
28) Piepmatz
27) Patchwork Express
26) Paper Tales
25) Fortune City
24) Downforce Danger Circuit
23) Clank! Expeditions Gold & Silk
22) Dragon Master
21) TAGS
20) Root
19) Dinosaur Tea Party
18) Villainous
17) House of Danger
16) Spirits of the Forest
15) Mercado
14) Pyramid of Pengqueen
13) dude & more dude
12) Scarabya
11) Pikoko
10) Everdell
9) Catch The Moon
8) Mesozooic
7) Reef
6) Coimbra
5) Lost Cities Rivals
4) Gizmos
3) Railroad Ink (Red or Blue)
2) Gunkimono
1) Blue Lagoon
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1. Board Game: Forbidden Sky [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:3530]
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Yup, this may have been one of the bigger sellers of the show, but it was also my least favorite, so far, of the show. It has toy factor, just like it's predecessor, but it didn't share the fun. You definitely feel like you are playing one of the Forbidden games just because of your actions on a turn but the flow just did not seem to be there. I enjoyed the tile laying, but also aesthetically it was displeasing to place the tiles as 3/4s of the tile didn't match with what was next to it. Would love to play again, but sadly the one copy we had in our game group has already been traded away.

1 Play

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2. Board Game: Piepmatz [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:3280]
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Oh man, I really want to like this one, and I wonder if we maybe played something a bit wrong, but when first place is almost 20 points ahead of 2nd place and nearly 45 points ahead of 3rd place it either leads me to think I taught something wrong or it just had a teacher advantage since I read the rules and kind of formulated a strategy. Simple set collection game based on bird watching, you want to collect mating pairs of birds for points and then at the end there are majorities as well for each of the birds. Only 6 negative cards in the game that can really affect you so it's not really mean. I realize that this is meant to be a super relaxing game and I dig it, but there really wasn't any tension at all. Absolutely beautiful artwork on the cards and I think it's a quality game, maybe I just went in seeking something it wasn't at this point. We'll see what happens at future plays and I will double check the rules.

2 play



8/14/18 - Played it again at 3 player and while I think the game is probably fine, it's just not exciting, or particularly fun. There seems to be no impetus for me to do anything other than collect as many birds as possible and then just look for matches later in the game, while still accumulating a lot of birds.

I have already passed this one on to someone else sadly after asking Kerensa if she even thought we'd play it as a two player game just while relaxing and she said probably not.
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3. Board Game: Patchwork Express [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:6315]
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Let me preface this by saying that if you like Patchwork, this version will be a perfectly cromulent version of the game. The main issue is going to be, was it really a necessary version of the game?

Patchwork is already a relatively quick playing 2 player game, our games are 20-30 minutes, tops. This lops that in half by making the player area only 7x7, taking away the bonuses and having the pieces bigger. It also saves part of the patch collection for when you are left with only 5 of the starting tiles in the offer.

It plays just fine, but gone is the button economy, at least so far for us. Buttons are still important as that is the currency but you lose a bit of the fun of having the button explosion, as we like to call it.

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4. Board Game: Paper Tales [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:1428]
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2 Play

I am only kind of adding this one just because I said I would keep adding Gen Con releases as I played them, but I don't think that I can really give this one a fair shake at this point as I played it at 2 player with more than a few distractions. The first play honestly just seemed to hinge on the fact that I never saw one of the resources until the 3rd round and my opponent didn't see another one until the 2nd or 3rd round, so the game strictly hinged on the simplistic aggression from the military which is simply comparing shields and whomever has the most, wins. Really want to play it again as I think it has potential, but hopefully we'll get to see.
 
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5. Board Game: Fortune City [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:9706]
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9/4/18 - Huge Caveat, we played this at 2 players and while I think it plays just fine, I don't necessarily think it's going to shine at 2 players, at all.



Those meeples are cute, right? Absolutely adorable and the game seems to match that, but everything else in the game is tiny so these giant egg shaped meeples take up too much space and make it difficult to see what you are building. Maybe that's part of the point of the game, some kind of overcrowding statement, I don't know, but they are unbearably large.

Otherwise, the game plays just fine, but in the two player game there was very little tension, there was enough money to go around and you could get what you needed or wanted, plus if you didn't have the money, just buy a bank and get a loan, that doesn't need to be repaid? Sure you place a building out that has no value once you have taken everything from it, but still, a loan, that doesn't get repaid. Unless I just read the rules incorrectly. Other small things bugged me, but I wonder if it plays better at higher player counts, hopefully we get a chance to try it at 3 or 4 players today and we'll revisit and find out.
 
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6. Board Game: Downforce: Danger Circuit [Average Rating:8.04 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.04 Unranked]
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1 Play

Played 5 players on the Switchback Pass map. This map has a new feature, Dangerous Spaces. These spaces can only be used to pass and you can only use them if you have enough movement to get out of them, so this creates a bit more bottle necking. I wish we would have played the Crosstown Speedway but the colors on that one apparently offended someone's eyes. It's more Downforce, so I shouldn't complain, but the track we played didn't really feel much different than any other track. We had 3 new "Powers" in the game, Bold, Tough & Experienced. Tough gives extra movement if you end your movement next to Rumble Strips, not all that exciting. Experienced gives you a small drafting opportunity and Bold gives extra movement if you only move your car 1 or 2 spaces.

 
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7. Board Game: Clank! Expeditions: Gold and Silk [Average Rating:8.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.33 Unranked]
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Gold Mine Side, aka the Ruin Dwarven Mining Company (Ruin DMC). First off in the box, you get a double sided board, more gold tokens and a few others as well, it also gives you some new adventurers to play that look more like miners. So this side adds a couple small things to the mix. It adds elevator shafts to facilitate movement, you pay in gold to move through them, these would have saved my poor miner's life last night, but I completely forgot to use them and took too long getting out of the depths. Secondly it adds some gold veins around the board. These veins of gold can be mined if you are next to them, all you have to do is spend 2 skill points to mine the vein and take gold equal to the number on the vein and place a Clank cube there to note that you have already mined that section. If you escape, there is an additional scoring opportunity for the top 3 people who mined gold. This didn't feel like it added too much to Clank! It was a perfectly acceptable way to expand the base game, which now has 4 maps to choose from, and each of them double sided. How much Clank! is too much Clank!? Guess Renegade Games is perfectly happy to let us find out.



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8. Board Game: Dragon Master [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:10011]
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2 Play

Simple little 2 player game from Reiner Knizia where each player has a hand of cards and they are trying to score points by putting them in rows to best score for them. Single cards are worth face value, 2 cards together and worth their value times 10, and three cards in a row of the same value score 100 points. But in true Knizia fashion, the lowest score is what matters. There is one other qwirky thing with this game, you don't sit opposite of your opponent, you all should sit at a corner, with one on one side, the other player on the other, so when you build your 4x4 grid, you see which columns are yours to score easier. Nothing horrible or offensive about this, but this seems to be one of the kind of throw away designs of Knizia that may have been fine never coming back, but being that the good doctor is my favorite designer, I had to try it. Just a shame that we tried it right after trying another seemingly throw away Knizia title Hungry and it was a lot better than we expected.

 
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9. Board Game: TAGS [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:6205]
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A Party style Trivia game releasing at Gen Con? And a good one to boot?!?!

This is a quick playing well produced real time game that has elements of random trivia. On the board there will be five subjects and those five subjects will have letters that the answers need to have. At the intersection of those are marbles, each time you complete an answer for a topic, you take the marble that coincides with that space, marbles vary in value from 3 to 1 point. Oh, and did I say real time? You have 15 seconds to name as many as you can before it moves on to the next person and they do the same. Really fun game from one of the new Asmodee imprints, HeidelBÄR Games.

3 Plays



8/12/18 Did not impress my parents, and I should have known that. They love trivia games and things like that, but the real time aspect of this kind of ruined it for them I think. If you had a bit longer to think they would have probably liked it more, but I don't know.
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10. Board Game: Root [Average Rating:8.19 Overall Rank:118]
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1 Play

Alright, I finally played it.



After one, four player game, I don't think I can fully say that I don't like the game, but I am also fairly confident in saying that I don't know if I like it. Woodland vs Vagabond vs Eyrie vs Cat, so I assume this is the basic setup. So first up, our person who doesn't like feeling like they are being attacked was given the Cat, oops. Our person who doesn't like programming games at all, was given the Eyrie, and our person who was distracted with dinner making and family (me) was given the Woodland Alliance. All that left our most experienced person at the table, and teacher, with the Vagabond, and naturally that is who won.

The game intermingles and intertwines itself among the factions wonderfully, with everyone doing something that could affect, good or bad, the other. But where Vast: The Crystal Caverns felt fun for me from the word go, Root felt like work. I can see the lineage, the nod to the COIN games and influences of Vast, but this first play was kind of methodical and almost boring. I know we all felt that there really wasn't much we could do to have stopped the Vagabond, short of just never crafting anything. The Cat and the Alliance both kind of caught on about 2 rounds too late to what they could be doing and the poor Eyrie, just really didn't seem to be all that exciting.

We will play this again, especially knowing what we do about the game and we'll see what happens, but it ultimately felt flat and lifeless to me.

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11. Board Game: Dinosaur Tea Party [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:5915]
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5 Plays

So this is the moment where decisions starting getting tougher. The previous entries were fairly easy to put in their place, from here on out, my experiences have been predominately positive.

This is a Family weight deduction game, a remake of the older title, Whosit?. The folks at Restoration Games have taken this and cleaned up the problematic issues with the original and themed it around dinosaurs having a tea party. Each dino has some characteristics and each player is assigned a dinosaur and on a turn you can ask questions of another player, like, "Are you in a Purple Room?" You do this to deduce who each player is. The biggest issue is that some questions seem to get you really quickly to a 50/50 guess, so sometimes guessing is better than deducing. Still, a fun game though and I look forward to introducing it to AnnaBeth and seeing what she thinks of it.



8/12/18 Two plays with just the kids and I, and while I still like this, the more I think about it, the more I think the need to narrow it down as quickly as possible and just guess is the strategy to go with. Sure you may give away a couple answers to your opponents but if you wait too long folks are just going to steal it out from under you anyway. I like the 3 random tags that can go on dinosaurs and affect how they answer questions, but are those really enough to throw a wrench into the thought process? The kids enjoyed it, and I think AB really liked it. First game she didn't figure out anything, second game she had two.

8/14/18 5 player game this time with the game group and AnnaBeth (8) joined in. Like I've said, this is a really entry level deduction game, a good ice breaker game I think. If my children want a deduction game we'll play this or maybe Stop Thief!, but if the game group wants to play a deduction game, I'm reaching for The Shipwreck Arcana. But this will definitely stay in the collection as I think I may also be able to play this with my parents and the kids. One problem though is that sometimes it really feels like you don't want to be the person asking questions, you want to be the person after the person who has asked a lot of questions.
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12. Board Game: Villainous [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:1328]
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8/19/18 - Played two player and I honestly think that may be the only way we ever play it, I can't imagine having 4-6 players with this until folks know those decks and what they need to do with them inside and out. Interesting as a head to head game where each player has an individual winning condition. Play is rather easy to pick up. Simple parts to a turn, move your character piece to a different location and take the actions on said location. You have to pay attention to what is going on with your opponent, because if you aren't, BOOM! they've won. Time will tell if this will be a rotation game, something that gets played regularly, but early on I'm thinking it may just miss out a bit because once you've learned those decks and what to do, I'm not sure that it'll be just as fun to do with each other character, but hopefully we'll see.



And yeah, I'm sure most everyone has seen it, but this has to be the best card in a game, in the history of games.

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13. Board Game: Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:2453]
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Played the 1st Chapter tonight with AnnaBeth, and while it did feel more like reading a story than playing a game, I have hopes that the game-y elements kind of kick in during the next couple chapters. Anxious to see what the psychic power does for us further down the road and we're going to need those bonus items that we collect during the story I have a feeling.

Plays 1 (1 chapter so far)



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14. Board Game: Spirits of the Forest [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:2169]
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2 Plays

Another super light set collection game, although this one had some tension and also I did poorly. Each turn you can pick a single tile if it has two spirit symbols on it, or 2 tiles of the same color if they have only 1 spirit symbol on it. You have to pick from one of the two edges of the board and as you pick you open up more tiles. You do have the ability to "save" tiles for yourself by placing a gem on the tile, but other players can still take it but they have to pay one of their gems to do so. Everyone only has 3 gems. Sets are scored at the end of the game and if you don't have anything from a particular set, you automatically lose 3 points. Really neat, absolutely gorgeous artwork and I really wish I would have backed this for one of the deluxe editions, but as it is, I'm perfectly happy playing this.



8/20/18 - Played again at 3 player, I wonder if this is a one trick pony. Meaning that the first play was interesting and I thought I would be perfectly fine playing it, but the second play was really kind of innocuous. This is one of those set collection games that is really pretty, so it's going to stand out, although a couple of the colors are really similar and difficult to discern, but I think that is forgiven since you really need to be looking at the symbols anyway. It has a neat mechanism for taking the tiles, where you can only take from exposed edges, but it feels like there maybe should be more there, or maybe that's my imagination, maybe this is all it is meant to be. It has been pointed out to me before that I sometimes want games to be things that they aren't, this may be the case here.

Dropped to #11

 
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15. Board Game: Mercado [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:6604]
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3 Plays

So in discussing Mercado with Eric Yurko, he has brought me around to thinking that this is just an Estate Sale or Garage Sale in the Renaissance. The game plays out really simply, you pull coins from your purse and you place them next to items you would like to purchase, or you pull your coins back from your player board. The trick is where you put those coins because your opponents can sneak in and buy out from under you. The idea is to buy the most things that give you the most prestige, there are some tricks along the way, like timing your movements on the score tracker to best get bonuses and there are Privilege tokens as well that cna give bonuses, but watch out for the counterfeit coins, they can be most embarrassing when trying to buy things. It's really not a bad game, but it's not all that exciting either, and I suspect that $60 msrp on a 30 minute filler is going to relegate this to the bargain bin before too long, which it doesn't deserve, it's better than that, just over produced and over priced.



 
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16. Board Game: Pyramid of Pengqueen [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1372]
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Another re-make!

Let me just say, if my daughter AnnaBeth (Age 8) was making this list, this would probably be the number one title.

This is a hidden movement set collection game with a wonderful presentation. One player plays the "Pengqueen" and the others are adventurer penguins trying to recover artifacts without being caught. The catch to this is that the board is upright in between the players and the board is a magnetic board where the adventurers are only seen to themselves, but they can see exactly where the Pengqueen is moving. The only way that the Pengqueen knows where the adventurers are is when they collect a relic and the chase begins! Absolutely wonderful.

2 Plays

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17. Board Game: dude [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:11449] [Average Rating:6.01 Unranked]
Brandon Kempf
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Added 8/12/18


4 plays (two with dude and two with more dude)

So, an impulse buy that wasn't instant? That's kind of what they was. I had seen -- and heard -- this being played all over the BGG Hot Games Room on Thursday night so I wanted to go down and grab it at the North Star Booth on Friday, but when I got over there, Bruce was heading into a meeting with Eric Yurko and I didn't want to disturb them so I said I'd be back by but never made it back. So after coming home I bee lined it straight to Target and picked up Dude and more dude and we played it last night with my parents at my Mother's 67th birthday party and it was really kind of comical. Ages 9 to 70 all enjoyed saying, Dude, Sweeeet and making a super silly game out of it. I wasn't really sure that my parents would do it, but they did and we all laughed quite a bit. more dude seems a bit easier to play due to the dudes all being fairly specific, but still worth a flier on.




8/14/18 - Just more silly fun, I don't know that I can ever add anything of value to this entry as far as critical analysis goes, it's just not a game that calls for that, but it does call for more plays, and a lot more laughs.
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18. Board Game: Scarabya [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:4329]
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
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4 Plays

I think Scarabya has the most potential to jump up the rankings drastically, or fall like a stone, judging from one play. It's an interesting puzzle that's played out much the same way as NMBR 9 except that you aren't building up, you are trying to enclose Scarabs on your player board for points. You only have 12 tiles but you have obstacles in the way which can create some really tough decisions spatially, that I imagine will get easier as you remember all of the shapes. But also the game will change each time as one person gets to decide exactly how your four player boards are going to be set up. I really like puzzle-y games like this, I just worry about the staying power a bit.

8/23/18 - I just don't think that this is as good as a game like NMBR 9 which is immediately where my head goes when playing it. I think it has moments of fun, but I think that it may end up just being an "okay" game. I have had fun playing it, and the puzzle aspect is there, but I just think that NMBR 9 did this better. I will say I'll play this before a lot of other polyomino games though.



8/26/18 - Still think this is a solid polyomino game and the variable setup really does help the game feel fresh. I just can't help but wish for more of the 3d element still though. I really don't have anything negative to say about the game, but I also don't have anything glowing to say either, it does what it does, really well, at a really low barrier of entry.
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19. Board Game: Pikoko [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:4814]
Brandon Kempf
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Just so damn pretty, and to top it off, it plays really well too.

What seemed like possibly a gimmick turned into being one of the more fun play experiences of Gen Con for us. Pikoko is a trick taking game, but the twist is that you cannot see your own cards, and you play the hand of the person to your left. So how do you score points? Well you basically bid on what you think each player is going to take and can gain points that way. You also can gain extra points by putting extra confidence in someone. If you think that person will absolutely take 3 tricks, you play the confidence card of their color and at the end of the hand if they have, there's 3 bonus points, if not, you lose a point. The only issue I have with the game are these Confidence cards, I don't know why you would ever put confidence in anyone's hand that you are not controlling. But all in all, and excellent take on the Trick Taking genre.

2 Plays

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20. Board Game: Everdell [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:315]
Brandon Kempf
United States
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1 Play

8/18/18 - Played this 3 players, without the Collector's Edition extra cards. Fun, super simple tableau builder where you are building your city in front of you. Your city is represented by cards that are critters or constructions. Super simple turns, either play a card from your hand or the meadow into your tableau, place a worker or Prepare for the next season. Preparing for the next season is where you get to pull your workers back and then gain more workers and other benefits, but just because you have ended a season doesn't mean that your opponents have to also declare before you continue playing, you can be playing in Spring or Summer and have your opponents still playing Winter or Spring. It really is an interesting way to do this. The cards are combo-ey, sort of, certain constructions allow you to add certain critters for free, but otherwise it's just straight up play a card, pay the cost and do the thing. We all enjoyed the game, although we did think it overstayed it's welcome a bit, but for now I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt since we were all looking at every card and figuring out what to do. It has to play faster next time or the length vs payout ratio may really be wonky. But so far, so good.

 
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21. Board Game: Catch the Moon [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:3204]
Brandon Kempf
United States
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5 Plays

I honestly don't know if this was a Gen Con 2018 release or not, but I don't recall ever hearing about it until Gen Con 2018 so I'm adding it to this geeklist. I missed the Bombyx area, or rather, I missed seeing Catch the Moon while at Gen Con, but in a day and a half, there was probably as much chatter about this wonderful ladder piling game as any other. First off, when you pop open the box you get hit with this wonderful smell of laser cut wood. Then you start unboxing everything and looking at all of these tiny ladders and wonder, how is this a game? But yet, from the first time you roll that die and see that you have to build a ladder on to the already unsteady stack of ladders and the one you place has to touch at least one ladder, but no more than two and it has to be higher than anything else in the structure, you get it. It's like Jenga, in reverse, with ladders. Absolutely wonderful dexterity/stacking game, and I am awful at it.





9/13/18 - Play number 3 and it just further enforces that I don't know what the heck I am doing. I think part of it has to do with the other players and how they place their ladders, but no one seems to be using any of the suggested ways that are in the back of the book, our towers end up looking like a giant blob of ladders until some fall off. But occasionally, we do Catch the Moon so to speak and head upward and outward.



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22. Board Game: Mesozooic [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:7947]
Brandon Kempf
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5 Plays

Okay, so I went to the Z-Man Booth to pick this up early at Gen Con, completely silly and unnecessary as I knew this wouldn't be a huge seller, but I am really glad that I have it. It's part drafting game and part one of those puzzles where you are missing one piece so you can move things around one spot at a time, while building a Jurassic Park like park. You want to connect enclosures, you want your maintenance trucks in the right place and you want your monorails to connect. You draft 11 cards and then have 45 seconds of frantic puzzle shifting fun, score your park based on the scoring and then do it again 2 more times, hoping to have the highest score. Absolutely wonderful. But also, watch out for people cheating and just picking up their cards and moving them wherever they want in the second round after following the directions perfectly the first time.



9/5/18 - Played this cute little puzzle game a couple more time since the initial play and it has not disappointed with anyone. That 45 second time is unforgivable and I have such a difficult time working on the puzzle. We've seen folks try different strategies, but with the draft you are guaranteed to end up with a couple cards that don't match your strategy and will throw a wrench into your plans, it's just going to happen. I need to play it with the extra expansion cards and see how much difficulty they add, but for now, we are enjoying this quite a bit.
 
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23. Board Game: Reef [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:986]
Brandon Kempf
United States
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4 Plays

The next 4 letter title in the Next Move Games catalog has finally arrived!

Wonderful little abstract where you really only have two choices, take a card or play a card. Playing a card allows you to take pieces and place them on your four by four board and also allows you to compete and score cards if you have built the appropriate pattern on your board. Dead simple rule set with some really quality toy factor appeal. This is another one that I want to get my kids to play more so than my game group, as I think it's a step down complexity wise from the wonder Azul, but I don't think you lose much in taking that step.



8/12/18 Played again at 4 players and had a fantastic time, enough of a good time that I bumped it up above Scarabya. Really fun and can have a bit of that denial draft like it's older sibling Azul. Gabby has not taken to this one for some reason, and I think she just doesn't like planning ahead in it for some silly reason, but everyone else really seems to like it.

8/26/18 Three player game this afternoon where I kind of started to see some things more than a turn or two in advance and I really enjoyed my play. You almost have to have a plan for 3-4 plays in advance because of that 4 card hand limit, a plan must be formed. You start to see some slight similarities with it's predecessor Azul, you have to pay attention to what your opponents are doing and you can't just let them have everything they want, there is a bit of "hate" drafting involved here and the fun thing is, it can be useful for you as well. Moving this one up a couple notches and starting to think it may challenge Azul, we'll see how it holds up.
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24. Board Game: Coimbra [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:550]
Brandon Kempf
United States
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1 Play

This definitely has potential, but potential for what? Three player game and we got a late start so I went with the quick explanation and I played it the quick way without thinking too much, but I can see the way that our winner read the journey cards and focused on a couple specific things to win. There is A LOT to take in your first play and there are a LOT of ways that you are going to score points but I think those Voyage Cards and maybe a bit of those Monasteries are going to have to guide you. Interesting play that lead me to be interested in playing it more even though it really felt like maybe some things in the game could have been streamlined a bit more. But I wonder if I am looking at that through the eyes of someone who plays more 30-60 minute games, than the 75-120 minute games. I did awful, but still had a good time and I came out wanting to do better, rather than being ready to walk away from it.

 
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25. Board Game: Lost Cities: Rivals [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:3456]
Brandon Kempf
United States
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We've been on a huge Reiner Knizia kick this year and the hits just keep coming.

This is the newest in the Lost Cities/Keltis line of games and may be the best. You still have that Lost Cities feel where you are picking cards to place in ascending order which represent your expedition, and you can invest more in each expedition to increase the value, but Rivals adds auctions! On a turn you can either flip a card to the central pile, or start an auction for control of the central pile of cards. If you win, you can take any cards you would like from the central pile and you can also discard one out of the game. The money is all public and it is a perfect sum game in that all of the money that is ever in the game is there from the word go. The game is essentially played over 4 rounds as indicated by 4 piles of cards, when a pile runs out, the money in the center that has been paid is divided up equally among the players and you continue on. Absolutely a gem of a game.

Minor quibbles, the card colors don't always match so you have to pay more attention to the icons rather than the card color and the cards seem to be willing to chip a bit quite easily.

2 plays

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