Surprizingly Good and Bad Games
Rob Nutt
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This list is a collection of games that I have purchased over the last little few buying binges, in which after playing a game I found myself quite surprized about how much I actually enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) the game. So in short, this list is a list of Rants and Raves that I didn't see coming.

Gaming companies probably love me, because I go on great buying sprees from time to time in which I pick up as few as 3 games to as many as 15 in a single purchase. This means I blow a lot of cash at one time, much to the bewilderment (following closely by irritation) of my wife. This also means that I unfortunately have not researched all of the games that I purchased as thoroughly as I should have. Usually 2-3 of them I know solidly that I want, and as I'm shopping I impulse buy quite a few others. The ones that I'll be talking about in this list are those impulse buys that I was hoping great things from and didn't get it, or wasn't expecting much and found a gem of a game.

Please keep in mind, that all these games I purchased, so I really wanted to like them, or liked the idea of liking them (jeez, that sounds stupid), so I feel I did go into them with a positive demeanor. Each gaming group is different and what works for my gaming group may not work for yours and vice versa.

Please feel free to add any items that you have stumbled across where you said to yourself after playing the game, "Wow, I didn't expect that game to be so **good adjectives here**.", or "Jeez, I really thought this game was going to be a winner. Others speak highly of it, but it just kinda laid there."

That said, let's start:
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1. Board Game: Wings of War: Famous Aces [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:786] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Rob Nutt
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I picked this game up on a whim. Actually, truth be told, I picked it up for the miniatures. You see, I first saw the miniatures and said, "Hey those look pretty cool...and ya know, I don't have any games with WWI aircraft in them yet...think I'll pick it up". Yes, I realize my rationalization for picking up the game was pretty weak, but I've made up weaker ones just to buy a game.

I'm glad I did. This game serves up a really fun dish. It can be played extremely quickly. I've played games in as little as 10 minutes. The group that I played it with really got into the "I'm gonna get you!", mentality which even edged it up another notch.

The mini's are really quite first rate, and the rules simple enough that newbies can enjoy the game almost immediately. For a game that I just picked up with little to no thought (mostly no thought), it sure is a fun game if you take it for what it is.
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2. Board Game: Tempus [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1487]
Rob Nutt
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Ok, this one is going to get me in trouble. Here it goes...

I was looking so forward to this game. A civ builder that can be played in under 2 hours!!! Who had ever even heard of such a thing. It has to be a 7th sign or some other harbinger of greatness that such a concept could even be dreamt of. The possibilities of introducing more friends into civ builders (and other deeper, longer games) made me as gitty as a school girl. I preordered it and waited...and waited some more. One thing I don't have...patience.

Finally the game came, I tore it open, inhaled deeply the scent of glue, ink and cardboard, otherwise referred to as that "new game smell", and poured over the rules. After reading them, which took a whole couple minutes, I was left...wanting. I mean this is the equivalent of a speed freak needing a hit badly, taking the hit and finding out that it was more pseudoephedrine than meth. Still, I thought, let's give it a try and see how the fun factor works out. I got together a small group of guys that are really fun to game with, and...meh. The game just didn't do it for us. I was left still trying to scratch that civ builder itch. The game was just too abstract for me. Don't get me wrong, it does acheive the impossible. It is playable in 2 hours or less, but it doesn't satify. A diet cola in the gaming world for me.

Now I do see how some could find it very entertaining, so I am not saying the game is without merit. What I am saying is that the game just doesn't give me enough to work with. Basically put...I expected too much from this game. I wanted a full blown civ builder, and that's not what Tempus is. A full civ builder game is not possible in less than 2 hours, hence I put Tempus up on a pedistol before I had even played the game. My mistake.
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3. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:801]
Rob Nutt
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Woo Hoo!!! The days of old. I loved this game. When I saw this, I really wanted it. I loved all those games of CE I used to play after school. We'd have a ton of people playing it, and it would get, well...intense is the best way I can describe it. I so wanted to recapture that feeling, and so I purchased this game off of ebay for an embarrassing sum of cash.

Components are really sweet, great! Quite a few races to play, great! The board looks really cool, great! Plays with 2-4 players, great...WHOA, hold on there a second. 2-4 players? That's a misprint. It can't be...no, No, NO! Those days of old when 6-8 people would gather around, vying for domination over the galaxy, are suddenly shattered by one single flaw.

I can't even get myself to take the game off of the shelf to give it a try. I'm too depressed.
 
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4. Board Game: Thebes [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:376]
Rob Nutt
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Eh? What's this Thebes? I get to play an indiana jones character and run around europe? That's sounds pretty cool, but don't I get a bullwhip or anything? No? Oh, and it has meeples, I hate meeples (sorry to you meeple lovers, but I really can't stand them). Why am I interested in this game again? Oh, that's right. I was looking at the title and thought it might be a war game before I saw the game box. Hmmm, maybe the wife will enjoy it. What the hey, I need another game to get free shipping anyway.

::BANG::

First impression of the game is completely wiped from my mind. I was almost embarrassed to print that first part, but I can honestly say this game has surprized me. It is ok with 2 players, but it really comes on to it's own with 3 to 4. The gaming mechanics are pure genious and very novel, not to mention simple and still so...so...brillant. I love that timeline mechanic it uses. Really makes you think about your decisions, and yet the game is simple enough that you really shouldn't suffer from analysis paralysis. If you do, then you really are putting to much into the game. There are some pretty strong random elements in the game, but all in all, it boils down to just a fun game. I'm very glad I picked it up.

BTW, wife even played it once, and that speaks volumes.
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5. Board Game: Illuminati [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:2449]
Rob Nutt
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Hmm, I remember some guys in the house playing this years ago. They said it was pretty fun. Wonder if it is. What the heck. I have opportunity to pick it up. It can't be too much of a game, I mean it's just cards, right?

::BAM, BAM:: (and several stabs in the back later as is so typical of this game)

Whoa. This game is INTENSE. I will warn you right now, if you have never played this game and are about to, then there is something that you should know, The Dogma of Illuminati:

"Only play with people that you don't expect to see again, or are very close friends whom will forgive you for all the deceit and backstabbing that is about to partake."

This game simply cannot be won without seriously screwing over several over players and sometimes more than once. I have lost gaming friends while playing this game (I'm speaking truthfully now). There is almost no end to the treachery of this game, and one thing sticks out clearly in my mind when playing it...

I LOVE IT.

If anyone else has played a game as evil as this one and knows of one more evil, please, please, please let me know of it. I'd buy it in a second.
 
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6. Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:422]
Rob Nutt
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"Wow, that's a small little box. Looks ok when playing it. Long title. Ya know, I don't have a good horror game yet, wonder if it will fit the bill."

(dozens of games later)

"Rob, can we play that House, er Hill game again." This game is simply loved by all gaming groups that I throw it down at. The replayability of the game is great. 50 scenarios in the book! 50! I haven't played them all yet. The game makes me feel as if I have literally stepped into a B-Class Horror flick. There are some repetitive items in the game (i.e. the Spear), but for the most part the game always give me a good laugh and a surprize. Just wondering who the traitor is going to be is a blast. I'm really glad that I picked up this game when it was available, because sadly now, it isn't. If it is going to be reprinted down the line, I would heartily recommend it.
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7. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:47]
Rob Nutt
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Incredibly mini's, a tech tree, gorgeous artwork, WARS, space travel, the blithering madness goes on and on and on. How could I not fall in love with this game. I'm sure I'll spends sleepless nights thinking about it, also telling myself at the same time that I have to go to sleep now and stop thinking about this game. If I fell asleep right now, I'd get 4 hours of sleep...(cool game can hardly wait)...3 hours...(how many steps are there in that tech tree?)...2 hours...(the guys are gonna love this)...1 hour...(wonder if there is anything I won't like about the game...naw!)...BEEP, BEEP. What the...time for work already?

No more jokes on this game. I can't do it. I wanted so badly to love this game, AND I haven't given up on it yet. Our first game was a 6 player, 8 hour marathon game in which I was the undisputed military and political monster. I was crushing everyone, and yet I came in 4th. How is that even possible? Well, it's possible because I was playing it as a wargame. Truth be told, it isn't a wargame, but rather a game of diplomancy. Everyone was disappointed in the game. No one liked it, and I have not been able to convince them to gather around the table again to give it another try. I love the idea of this game so much I even painted each and every little ship. I also cannabilized a risk 2210 game to take the bitz out to make the ground forces and painted them too! The game is heavily pimped out and looks incredible. I purchased the expansion for the game, hoping that it would fix many of the problems. Still haven't had a chance to play it as I can't convince the group to reconvene on it. I now have a new gaming group, and they are eager to try it. So, I'll give it one more try. This time, less people and with the expansion rules. We'll see. So far, a bust, but I'm not giving up on it yet. Just wish it could have been that "10" game I was looking for to begin with.

 
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8. Board Game: World of Warcraft: The Boardgame – The Burning Crusade [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
Rob Nutt
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First game is pretty cool, and the expansion adds more monsters and bitz! How COOL (if you hadn't guess by now, I am a bitz whore, and fall prone to the "Ahhh" effect).

Problem is, the game adds a new board, lengthens out the game a ton, the dungeons are a good idea, but don't work well with this game mechanic. Even more cards, for a game that already has a ton. I'm not going to hammer on this one too much yet. Would like to give it some more plays, but I think this expansion might fall into the category of "going overboard". Bluntly put, not what I expected and was hoping for something different.
 
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9. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:227]
Rob Nutt
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A game about being an art dealer. What possible interest can I have in a game like that. Let's see, I'm an art dealer and I'm trying to make a profit in my art gallery. Whoopie! Sign me up! NOT. Oh, what the hell, the game is cheap and I don't have a theme like that. Others say it's fun, we'll see.

Although the theme does nothing for me, this little game is great! I expected nothing from this game, and yet it delivered more than just a little. Intense bidding, tough decisions, and quick playing. This game offers a lot for such a tiny little box. It can be enjoyed by both heavy gamers as a filler game or by non-gamers as an intro game into the gaming world. I have never been one for bidding games, and have been turned off on them by several, but this game is the exact opposite for me. I find myself actually reaching for this game now. In fact, I think I'll be putting it on the table next weekend.
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10. Board Game: Monkeys on the Moon [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:3204]
Tim Mossman
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Saw this game on www.ludoholic.com (while playing some of their other games). My initial reaction was that this game just sounded corny, so I passed it up for a while.

Eventually, I decided to give it a try. And despite its Steve Jackson-esque name, it's actually quite a clever, medium-light game with some different game mechanics driving the play. It's not "Game Hall of Fame" material, but per the title of the geeklist, Monkeys on the Moon was a very pleasant surprise for me.
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