I turned 40 and these are my top 40 games
Samo Oleami
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Well, I turned 40 in February 2019 and the plan was to make 3 geeklists to celebrate. One with 40 least favorite games, one with 40 most favorite games and another one that's currently stuck in development hell. I made the bottom 40 list immediately. Easy peasy. I mean, it was grueling to decide which of the games I never want to see again I would run away quicker, but it was done. However top 40 list - this list - took longer.

Because.
Uhm.
It's easier for me to articulate what I dislike... blush

However, I decided to rank games (using pubmeeple engine) again this autumn and used the data for this list - which now includes three new-to-me games from 2019. Bonus!

Right.
What else?
Yes, I actually do like games.
I mean some games.
These games.
Well, of course, I'd say you can only like something if you dislike something else, it's the cosmic yin-yang thingy.

The other list is here:
I turned 40 and these are my bottom 40 games
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1. Board Game: Best Number Game Ever! [Average Rating:4.40 Unranked]
Board Game: Best Number Game Ever!
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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honourable mentions and shout-outs

Board Game: Citadels
Not being in the cult of designer, not caring who made a game (did we bury the author in 1960s or what), there's still one author whose work I try to follow. Bruno Faidutti's games definitely have his personal touch of embracing the social, the psychological and the chaotic (of which there can never be too much of). Granted some of his stuff is too "euro-ey" for me with resources, engine building and whatnot (we all pretend Ad Astra never existed.).

Citadels would be my current his top rated game at #53. For causal gaming with nongamers Citadels delivers - it's interactive enough to draw them in, it's straightforward to explain and nobody can blame it being boring. Other mentions: Mascarade (Faidutti's social/psychological chaos distilled, needs a big group though), Mission: Red Planet (Second Edition) (on my shelf of unplayed games, ahem). Would also love to try Dragon's Gold and Fist of Dragonstones



Board Game: Diplomacy
Diplomacy! I've played it 50+ times online only. Once face to face - some of faces being kinda red. I hindsight I was probably too optimistic. some people we new to me (they voluntered, but turned out to be causal gamers), some were too eurogamer-ey. Anyhow, online play offers a bit more nuance (doublethink), makes some "nonworkable" alliances workable (if you make it work) and people don't emote their insecurities all over me. The filter of internet is in this case a blessing. And still - the personalities of players come through. Like in BGG forums...

The game itself is just ... *mind blown* Has quite some depth. Simple rules to get you started, but then there's the art of stabbing, the art of reacting to being stabbed, there's figuring out the board, the choke points, stalemate lines, priorities. 50 plays in I was having fun predicting opponent's moves and beating them with equal force - doublethink, yay! Another clever bit is how negotiation and on-board play complement one another. Having your units in crucial spaces will do wonders for your strategy as well as prevent some half baked stabbing ideas. And when your units fail, you can go on a speaking tour and explain your case, weave promises, throw some threats. And then there's the player created story which is the part that got me into the game (When I was Italy occupying Britain, or when England and me prevented Italy from winning and the guy stalled for 3 days till mods intervened, or ...)
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2. Board Game: Havana [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1123]
Board Game: Havana
Samo Oleami
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#40

Like Citadels but better

Bought a dutch version for my wife in Amsterdam for 10 eur. She liked the visuals of Cuba, I hated the game (traded away). Havana had some buzz and looked like it would be in the fluffy euro category. Turns out, it's an adopted child that has zero in common with the Cuba trilogy. Or why it never sold well.

- to people who liked Cuba (miraculously these exist) it was too cutthroat and direct in its interaction.
- to people who would like its gameplay, the visuals sent the wrong signal, that's it's a boring WP type euro of building stuff. (I'd love to see it set in post-socialist eastern Europe players being tycoons privatising previously collective property)
- I was happy to realise it's a game by Reinhard Staupe, a guy, whose games I was curious about (Basari, Edel Stein & Reich).


It's Citadels' cousin from role selection double think family, but unlike its swingy and stabby French relative this one is more of an elbowing game. Which I guess is utter evil behaviour for Germans who otherwise patiently wait in lines. The game is all about timing - taking an action immediately before somebody else would. Seems pretty timid to me, but I've seen some eurogamerz seriously upset.
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3. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:50]
Board Game: Race for the Galaxy
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#39

highest ranked engine builder!
Is this good? Err, dunno. Next ones are Ginkgopolis (#49) and Citadels (#53)


One of the odd picks in my top ranks. It's everything I don't like otherwise, but I like it here: it has low interaction (don't give me that "clever deep interaction nonsense", the game comes at the pack of Tony's Tour de Geek's interaction stage every year); you optimise stuff and build your engine! Wroom!

However, there's also thinking on the spot in the form of constantly improvising strategic long term decisions. Which means risk taking. Which means tension. Which means one is playing against other people's ability to observe the situation, to wing it and to adapt.

What else?
- Yes, RollFTG is an uninspired adaptation for the modern gamer which lowers the risk and the tension and makes all decisions a case of tactical fiddling. Yawn.
- Yes, I play it for the narrative, find the visuals evocative. I don't play the 2 player 2 actions per turn variant as it messes up the narrative flow.
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4. Board Game: Frank's Zoo [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1433]
Board Game: Frank's Zoo
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#38

Samo loves climbing games
Err, not sure if this is news. There will be moar on the list


This quirky little overlooked gem fuzzy creature has several things going for it. Being an accessible climbing game it has the necessary oddities to stand out from the pack - no colours, no numbers, instead there are animal chains, one of them circular. Plus the odd illustrations that seemed kinda dated at first, but charming at third.

Its most important shtick is that from the 2nd round onward it's a partnership game with partnerships that change every round(!) - which clicks very well with my background in Slovenian Tarock.

The only minus is that it's hard to convince people to play this game. Bugger.
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5. Board Game: Genoa [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:629]
Board Game: Genoa
Samo Oleami
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#37

the eurogame that's nigh impossible to get eurogamers to play

When one imagines endless opportunities, one doesn't often think of a boardgame (I don't, anyhow), but if one would, one would probably imagine some behemoth box with zillion of chits and cards and cubes and whatnot. The kind that currently tops bgg top 100. But this game has more options and it looks, uhm, like a spreadsheet (charming, right?) and plays like a 3 hour shouting match at a bazaar. Anything can be traded for anything, this for that, that for this, this for for and for for [blank space].

Ah, the holy emergence.

It's tricky. For casual gamers it's kinda long. It's also a bit taxing. For eurogamers it proved to be utterly confusing.
"... h-how?"
"How'd you mean 'anything for anything', I can't ..."
"Is there some chart I could follow?"


No idea when I could get this back to the table, but not giving up on it people yet.
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6. Board Game: Cyclades [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:162]
Board Game: Cyclades
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#36

the game that fell from grace, but crawled back

Once upon a time there were games called Ameritrash - baroque, big and often full of conflict. Opposite to them was a tribe of games called Euros which at the time were still streamlined simple affairs (think Knizia) oriented at chin strokers. Thus, it came to reason that combing both genealogies into a highly interactive conflict-ey yet streamlined specimen would be a hot trend. It was.

In Cyclades the conflict of DoaM games and the tension of auction games complement each other in a whole that is ... quite chaotic, actually. Big swings and turns. Lots of bidding and few wars. And then ... Pegasus!

My high opinion of the game changed when I played Hades expansion with a particular group with a particular groupthink.
Dear Zeus on a rampaging piglet ...
Instead of doing things that would push to the game's end - building components of metropolis - they were amassing troops and coinage. The game would never end! To add insult to injury, bidding for Hades and having heroes on payroll, demanded heaps for money and this meant the economic engine of the game became pronounced ... just what I want out of gaming. [link to sister list where trials and tribulations are further explained]

Designers themselves came across this groupthink and created the next expansion with everything needed to steamroll over such groupthink. Sucessfully. Turns the game in team based Kemet, which I'm not sure, if I need. Anyhow, the passage of time wiped away most of that bad taste. Still have to find a group for it, but here's to hope!
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7. Board Game: Tarock [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:5398]
Board Game: Tarock
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#35

the game I played the most in my life

SLOVENIAN TAROK belongs to the Hapsburg tarok games family. The deck is streamlined from the french tarock to merely 54 cards, basically cutting away the chaff, making all hands on average better. Basically a trick taking game with points and bidding for contracts. Slovene version has two particularities. First one is that it's derived from Königrufen tarok: in a four player game (the only way to play) the person winning the contract will in most cases call a king - the person holding that king will be their partner. Which means shifting partnership which can stay hidden for while - fun. Another particularity is detailed scoring system and a wide range of contracts to bid on. Sure, some will only be relevant once a week if you play daily, some once a month, some once a year, but that's how this game was groomed and bred over decades. It's a game you can play whole life and it will remain fun and surprising - the entry level is a bit steep, but then it plateaus. It certainly can be played for artistic impression (or how I play).

As a high school nerd I was in a class of math nerds. We were as asocial as they come. So, some of us socialised through playing Tarok. Daily. For 3 years (then I went into MtG, which is another story). Some decks were confiscated. Some were worn out. One was both. I initially "borrowed" my parents deck as nobody would play with me as I didn't know the rules and nobody would teach them to me. After a month or two of bluffing my way through (hey, it's a baroque game) I managed to play proficiently.

What else?
- Whenever one plays the game with a new group, it's customary to negotiate the particular rules used. Tournament rules exist, but for the (boring) 3 player game.
- The (4 player) game is quite chaotic. Together with its complexity would make me state the game feels "ameritrash-ey", however there's zero theme. Continental cards games are the fun ones, especially around the alpine region. Complicated too. It's how we roll.
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8. Board Game: The King Is Dead [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:1321]
Board Game: The King Is Dead
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#34

the ugly duckling

In the February version of this list, this game wasn't on it. Reason: generic pseudo-historic theme and map drowned in brown. Even if you go for a stale oldfarty look, sea should be blue! Played since and the game is good. Thinking about homemade version - König von Siam of course.

The game is a three way tug of war. Invest in 3 factions. Or make them lose. All with 8 actions at your disposal. Every time you strengthen your influence in a faction, you weaken the faction. Are we having fun yet?

The most "refreshing" bit is low overhead. Sure, you need 2-3 plays to wrap your mind around the cards. But then you're directly at each other throats. Or hoping for shared incentives. It often comes down to tiebreaker which is only correct (as timing matters).
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9. Board Game: Imperial [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:180]
Board Game: Imperial
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#33

highest ranked stock market game!
other two just missed the cut with Acquire at #41 and Chicago Express at #42


A great game on an ugly map (speckles! Argh!) from the era when Gerdts was still making games, not puzzles. It's epic. It's opaque (I enjoy seeing subtlety deficient people suffer). It's dynamic and interactive in surprising ways. Also cynical to boot. A truly original design which was possible as, if memory serves, designer and the core group were playing growing it for years. When the game was adapted to more mainstream tastes, some parts were cut off, but exist as official variants - which is nice idea, you can adapt the game to your group. It's my favourite stock market game because - the game is nasty as stock market games can be, however the theme elevates it. It tells bizarre, cynical stories of greed and colonialism and bullshit and dickery.

Hoping for some graphic make over though.
Compare this to Gerdt's game on the sister list
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10. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:166]
Board Game: Galaxy Trucker
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#32

post socialism in a nutshell

Riding space trucks made out of sewer pipes across the galactic periphery to deliver said sewer pipes in the name of maximum synergy! You are no simple trucker, no sir, you're a hero, a volunteer! Your base pay is zero, but we have bonuses! Oh, you're also building your ship yourself as we like to stimulate creativity of our workforce independent contractors.

Some people claim second part of the game has no decision and it's just pure random, but this is ignoring the Marxist undertones - it's just a metaphor how one has no choices under capitalism. The first part of the game with building of a spacetruck just gives you an illusion of being in charge, but it's the company which is in charge. The rules of the game say any trucker who earned some money at the end of the game is a winner. But don't read into this as remains of socialist utopia. For the company exploiting the subcontractors every trucker that shows up and arrives to destination is a win. But the only way to fight this capitalist exploitation is through tried and tested socialist method - laughing. Laugh when ships go Boom! Laugh at misfortunes of others! Laugh when it all ends, after all, it's just a game.

An open question remains whether this is an euro? The narrative is thin, but enjoying the ride bit is ameritrash-ey. However, maybe we just underestimate the funny side of euros? (aka the schadenfreude)
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11. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:81]
Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#31

the holy cow!
Yes, there are 30 games I like better. One of them is even Knizia's


Maybe this game is more fun to discuss than to play, not to say it's not fun to play, but ... Modern eurogamerz like to bash on it as soon as they're done with kicking Catan. And yet, its a bona fide euro classic that: oozes emergent qualities like depth and theme; feels like a mix of traditional card game, abstract and Acquire; is so singular eurogamerz get confused by its streamlined and short rules; it would never get invited to modern eurogame parties, but it has a VIP pass.

The theme, some people claim is zero, is a rare attempt that doesn't portray civilisations as 19th century top down business enterprises, but a flow of people or tribes that come together and fall apart.

The reason the game still has a holy cow status is that the fanbase is quite devout, hiding in its exclusive GCL resorts [see the picture on the left]. The game can be refined, strategic, thinky ... it can be a game of pushing your luck, double bluff and outwitting other players ... or it can be a chaotic unfolding of greed, idiotic decisions (what if I start a war?), whims of fate and butterfly effects that cause empires rise and fall till only empty monuments remain standing in ashes. [I hope the way I prefer to play the game is evident]
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12. Board Game: Get Bit! [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:2237]
Board Game: Get Bit!
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#30

doublethink avatar of choice

The kind of thing I love in Citadels or Havana, but standing on their own here, not burdened with other game elements. (Let's avoid talking about gamey Libertalia). The doublethink of "they'll do that cause they think I'll do this, but I'll actually do that, unless they know I'll do this, so I'll do that other thing" is pure here. Not much more to the game than - should I play a card nobody else will, or a card somebody else will and screw them over as they're lower on the pecking order (well, swimming order).

The theme does matter - swimming away a the lego shark somehow evokes the ancient survival instincts, turns on emotions and people suddenly care about numbered cards. Too arcane for kids at our boardgaming workshops because the game happens more in the heads of people than on the table. Not visceral enough. It's a cerebral thriller.
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13. Board Game: Blokus 3D [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1067] [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
Board Game: Blokus 3D
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#29

highest rated abstract game!
Samo loves spatial games
new to me in 2019


Got this one in Slovenian math trade. Yup, the old wooden German edition. Had no clue there were copies in the county. Copies didn't know either as they were floating away from hobby scene in casual family gaming territory.

So what happens when you bring this type of game into hobby gaming?
Horror! Shock! I don't do spatial! Samo is too good at this! I want to play a heavy euro where there's less skill! Aaaaa!¨
But then my wife, a dance teacher, just wiped the floor with me...
So much for superior intellectual status of hobbyists.

The game is simple, emergent, deep, well not that deep as multiplayer situation brings sweet sweet chaos. And it's actually area control. Or height control. A kind of elbowing with coloured tetris shapes somewhere above the ground. Rumis also comes with 6 boards that completely change the base scenario which is the only scenario in Blokus 3D. Sometimes you want to climb up, sometimes you want to spread, sometimes you want to build that wall (!) in the tight section. Board don't rotate in this version though - you will walk around the table, which is healthy. And the psychical weight of the game will keep you healthy as you carry it around to hobby gatherings. It's a wellness game!
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14. Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:491]
Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#28

I really should play this more entry #1

Light thematic romp. That's all there is to it. Combining lightness with theme has a TotAN or Galaxy Trucker vibe, though it's more "competitive" than both and creates a more coherent narrative. Low overhead leaves you a lot of space to goof out and invest in whatever you wish. Running around the house in the first half gives the proper sandbox feel (not to be confused with Terra Mystica "sandbox" feel). Somewhere around the time when this stops being fun, the game changes into one against many scenario. (plus minus 20 minutes, heh). Cleaner and more immediate than any FFG in house designs. More focused than anything Flying Frog will ever muster [check the sister list].

Saying all this, I've only played it twice blush
Once of these two times, it bombed, but the group was meh.
Hope and the potential of good play matters reign supreme though.
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15. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:392]
Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#27

proving I'm in the hobby for all the right reasons

"If I’m at your place and I see a copy of TALES, it lets me know that you’re in the hobby for all the right reasons."
(Michael Barnes: 10 Games Every Gamer Should Own, 2010)

Ah, the paradox of a meaningful choice!
"But I don't get to make any meaningful decisions!"
"Silence you infidel! Thou darest to doubt the limitless wisdom and the unfathomable will of the almighty Allah?! I shall turn you into a dog! Then I'll marry you! Then you'll be a deaf vizier!"
"As a dog?"
"YES! The renowned deaf poodle vizier of the Serendib, married to 10 princesses, all turned into donkeys!"
"but..."
"Silence! Now your sex is changed!"
"But I can't win the game now!"
"Ah, just remember the stories you will be able to tell to your grandkids."
"Poodle donkey hybrids?"
"It will be a heroic tale of their mystical origins!"


If we think of "meangful choice" as a game reacting to decisions of players, TotAN certainly has these. They just don't bring you closer to winning the game. Ask yourself, is the only meaning meaningful to be an ability to win a boardgame, a machine producing fiction out of cardboard and cards overflowing the gaming table? Oh and the book of paragraphs, never forget the book of paragraphs. The choices in the game are narrative driven - ask yourself "what would Aladdin do?" and marvel at what happens next.

If you wonder how reading a book of random encounters can be a social endeavour, I have one word for you: schadenfreude.
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16. Board Game: Win, Lose, or Banana [Average Rating:5.41 Overall Rank:18018]
Board Game: Win, Lose, or Banana
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#26

tour de force of boardgame design

Industrial designer Dieter Rams's in his 10 principles of a good design saves the crucial attribute for last:
Dieter Rams wrote:
10. Good design is as little design as possible
“Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.”
Win, Lose or Banana is a good design.
Social deduction stripped down to essentials!

"But where's the game?"
Acknowledging that every game is a dialoge between rules and players there's as much game in WLB as players put in there. Which is surprisingly a lot. You could end the game in 10 seconds, but mine take 2-3 minutes, and people always want to play 6 or more of them in a row. Ask yourself - do I know the people I play games with?

"But, but, it's a coin toss!"
A friend of mine, street theatre director was sure I was exaggerating when I told her of this complaint of this game. She's in a world where reading the mood of the audience is crucial for success. Where face reading is amongst the basic tools. I asked her "when was the last time you hung out with nerds?" [note: we both come from the nerdiest high school in the country]

What else - I have a version that plays up to 6. Have played this on kids boardgaming workshops (they're not good at lying yet, it's fun), and will as a holder of a "winner card" torment other players mercilessly with questions such as "if you would be a banana split, what kind of banana split would you be?"
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17. Board Game: ICECOOL [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:823] [Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
Board Game: ICECOOL
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#25

highest ranked dexterity game

Or: don't underestimate the fun four dexterity challenged adults can have with this Kinderspiel des Jahres winner.

Icecool does many things right. It's a flicking game with immersive thematic setting, but unlike Rampage it's light on rules. The game flow is dynamic - one against many where the one changes every round. Flicking games have evolved since Pitchcar - Icecool has these neat lines where to put your penguin if it ends in the corner of game area. The wobbly penguins allow for miraculous depth as a skilled shot can make them turn or jump. You can't make them do this, at least not personality, but it's your fault for being incompetent (the depth ceiling is higher than that year's SdJ - Kingdomino).

Whoever thinks you need a fantasy theme - Godzilla or Wild West - to have an immersive thematic experience doesn't understand the joy a kid gets when they hear they can play a game of stealing school supplies during the recess.
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18. Board Game: Vineta [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:3699]
Board Game: Vineta
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#24

a hidden gem for chaos incarnates

Of all the artistic styles in boardgames I prefer stylized - not realistic, not abstract, something depicting something, yet being obviously an illustration. Vineta gives me this vibe - of Venice, summer holidays. (Maybe San Marco?)

Board Game: Vineta
Image by Ceryon. Not sure what happened to the buildings at the top, must have been windy.

Look at this marvelous idyllic island city. You don't live in it, of course not. You're a mad chaotic Nordic God (is there any other kind) who will sink this island together with your siblings. Possibly as an outcome of some silly bet. There's hidden information! There's blind bidding! There's chaos! So much chaos bgg-ers sunk this game to the mid levels of the ratings. (actually some quite good games down there).

You main decisions come down to asking your godly self:
1 - Do I want to get points from protecting my district and my people?
2 - Do I want to get points by sinking everybody, including my people and my district?
3 - How much do I care about the difference between #1 and #2?


Basically: roll with it and improvise!
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19. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:147]
Board Game: Tichu
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#23

#3 partnership game + #2 climbing game

Having played Haggis before, I tried this one with some friends - all new to the game - it was the definite 'meh'. No combos and versatility of Haggis. Where are the levers?! Some months later I me and some other guy played against a dude (+ sidekick) who played this to death on a phone app, or something. That was something else. Turns out - the lever is your partner. And vice versa. Soloing will be the downfall of you both.

Unlike the very clever Haggis graphic design (indicating which cards are worth points, which form a bomb), Tichu has none of this and the visuals are kitschy to boot. So I acquired myself the edition on the left, still unplayed - I need to find a strong player (to play against).
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20. Board Game: Jungle Speed: Deluxe [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked]
Board Game: Jungle Speed: Deluxe
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#22

highest ranked speed game, that's also impossible to get

The speed reaction game to rule them all with the might power of expansion or ever the extra cards thrown it (both of these being nigh impossible to get). Playing many representatives of this genre at kids workshops, this one is fun, because it has duels. Because you don't need to compete against the best player at the table and is thus easier on skill learning curve. Because you mostly just sit and wait and then wait and then wait some more an... POUNCE! Which means things get wrong. Which means we laugh a lot.

Another aspect is this game is pure structuralism - based on a grid of similarities and differences. Which is pronounced with the expansion - a kit to fine tune the difficulty level of your copy. Adding more similarities makes the game harder, more obvious differences easier. And some are there for the mindfuck factor alone.

This being a mass market game means: many many too many people play this WRONG! Ugh! Then of course you turn to be the nerd at the table pointing out that actually the rules you know the rules actually say. But playing with proper rules is more fun. Here's the thing - many speed reaction games try to balance between pure motor speed and speed of recognition. So, they'll throw some thing that favour one group or the other. JS does this with special cards. One of them - "colour" - changes condition for a duel between shapes to be between colours (there's four of them). This only lasts for one duel, BUT some groups interpret the rules that the colour rule is in place untill the next colour card shows up. There's 3 in the deck. So half the game becomes rolling on the floor with some other person try to pry the totem out of their greedy hands. (Which is also against the rules).

Once I found myself playing JS with lesbians at a LGBT gaming event we helped organise. I quickly figured out I had no place to be at that table. Yeah, they played with all the wrong rules. The point was not in playing the game, but arm wrestling with other lesbians. On the floor, if possible.
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21. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.31 Overall Rank:7] [Average Rating:8.31 Unranked]
Board Game: Twilight Struggle
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#21

game I played once a decade ago, ahem
#1 wargame, yes, yes, it is, sure it is, shuttup

I couldn't really figure out how to read wargame paragraph style rulebooks. So, 10 years ago, there was this dutch guy, studying mathematics, visiting eurogame events. He said, he just played 1989, so he came by on a foggy cold January day. We had time. I had a kettle full of green tea. I had hours of collected works of Leonard Cohen. We slowly put the rules together. Slowly played the game. Reading cards and enjoying the ride, amidst Cohen being all melancholic and stuff and Berlin. My guest won, but didn't really matter, the narrative unfolding was where the fun was. So, need to play again, though ... I doubt I'll be into actually memorizing cards and figuring out all the strategic kind of crap. Though, a good story can make me care on figuring out this on the side.

You loved me as a loser, but now you're worried that I just might win
You know the way to stop me, but you don't have the discipline.
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22. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:227] [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
Board Game: Small World
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#20

#1 area control and #1 answer to "do you have Risk?"

DoaM the eurogame. Well. A waro hybrid (in a galaxy long long time ago that was a thing). Yet with all these euro influences, it's not area majority, it's area control. And has diceless combat. Except the last fight of the round. Because. And, you can play it with chess-like seriousness with 2 players or with leader bashing style in pure chaos mode with 4 or 5 - the only way to play, of course. It's oh so elegant. Except the board. Which is kinda barfy.

Took me quite some time to finally buy a copy, but haven't played with it yet. Seemed to me there's a lack of good DoaM (or similar) games on the market. Nexus Ops is oop (and FFG version was ugly), Tammany Hall (area majority) is oop. Quantum sucks. Whatever Lang has been doing lately is far from DoaM. So, Smallworld it is. Light overhead - check. Group dynamics - check. Only thing I haven't decided on yet, is whether I'd want points to be open - for me leader bashing is a feature.
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23. Board Game: Condottiere [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:838]
Board Game: Condottiere
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#19

euro auction game mascarading as DoaM

Yup. They don't make eurogames like they used to.
They also don't make eurogamers like they used. to.

So, I got this game and tried it out with eurogamers. When they realised their hands were weak they just conceded the game. They couldn't imagine (collectively or individually) to seek for solutions anywhere outside the cards in their hands. In solutions are in other players. You don't play the game, you play the opponents. Mostly by unloading responsibility onto their shoulders with a nice example of pass the buck dynamic. Hoping people with strong hands will wear each other out without anybody getting out of the battle too strong.
"You ok, mate? Just hang in there!"

I own 3rd edition, which is also a nice example of FFG meddling. One of early examples that's now more widespread when publishers and/or developers don't understand what makes the game they're republishing tick, so they "fix it". Always it's a case of people not grasping the psychological aspect of play and thus adding gamey mechanisms to something that never needed it (other examples: Celestia, Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition). Downforce suffers a bit different, yet similar disease).

Basically I play my copy with 1st/2nd edition rules and never even tried 3rd edition ones as they only bring more complication for less tension.
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24. Board Game: Mexica [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:581]
Board Game: Mexica
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#18

new to me in 2019
#1 Kramer + #1 Kiesling


- I kinda like Torres, but it's AP inducing and a tad clunky.
- I kinda hate El Grande, because, CitOW does everything better and as we all know turn order auction is the spawn of the devil.
- I kinda didn't hate Princes of Florence after soloing it and found it kinda charming in kinda clunky sorta way, though we all know what it did.

So, I felt there must be a Kramer Kiesling game for me out there somewhere. People who know my subtle (ahem) tastes kept nagging me "Samo you need to try Mexica" - they're wrong in 2/3 of cases, but being right 1/3 of time isn't something to sneeze at either. There was a used copy available locally and of the first edition, which looks better anyhow. And ...

Oh. My. The holy Emergence!

1. It's very spatial in abstract games sense. Only unlike abstracts it has the infamous action point system and heaps of multiplayer chaos.
2. Has EMERGENCE written in capital letters. As it's spatial it's also nonlinear and can develop in whichever way. Extremely openended.
3. Surprisingly intuitive, despite AP inducing Action Point System. Must be the spatialness - the simple rule of one item per space both simplifies things and enables strategies of blocking. Even with all the options causal gamers quickly figured out how to play quite quickly (and win too ... buggers.)
4. As it's area majority, people will do stupid things to battle for a specific majority, which means chaos, which means emergence, which means: Fun!
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25. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:428]
Board Game: Bohnanza
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#17

#1 trading game
#2 Uwe's game


"They don't make 'em like this anymore".

Back in the day when euros were simple, streamlined family oriented affairs with pronounced interaction, trading games were a subgenre. Quite ingenious idea, German at its core: take negotiation and remove anything nasty. Bohnanza's probably the most accessible out of these, even if explaining it is a bit of a chore, but hey, at the time it was presumed people would try a game a few times before giving up.

After you chew your way through the rules explanation, there's a light talking game inside. Talking meaning: shouting at a bazaar and extorting people. I've seen introverts throwing offers faster than one could blink. I've seen pensioners get into the groove, the only thing ... yeah. (Don't arrange the cards in your hand, dammit!)

My copy is a pnp of carthangian's redesign as I couldn't warm up to the original illustrations. Heiko's visuals aren't bad either. Lately I've realised I've been playing it by Rio Grande rules, which uses a bit too many cards for 4-5 players, hence games took a bit longer. Hmm.
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