Surviving the Purge
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
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List of games that survived the Great Purge of 2019.

What started as an exercise in reducing a collection to the Great titles -> https://opinionatedgamers.com/2019/07/04/brandon-kempf-sturg...

Turned into an actual massive culling of games.

I documented my Culling -> https://opinionatedgamers.com/2019/12/14/41680/

Since that time I have been doing posts that highlight games that stayed in the collection and giving a bit of the reasoning as to why.

This geeklist is incomplete and will be continually updated as I post a new Surviving the Purge article over on the Opinionated Gamers website, usually on Saturdays or Sundays.
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1. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:49]
Board Game: 7 Wonders
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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I highly doubt that there is anything that I can say about 7 Wonders that hasn’t already been said a hundred times over, just on this blog, but it’s fitting that it’s the first title on this journey. 7 Wonders has never been a top 10 game for me, or anyone in my family, but yet, it most certainly is a bedrock of the collection. I don’t teach it to new gamers, I think it’s status as a Gateway game is kind of silly. Even if the play is silky smooth and fairly easy to understand, the iconography and some of the scoring of the game confuse the heck out of people. Plus, there is always someone out there who just ruins it all by gathering all the science because the new players just don’t know. Inside the base box, we do keep the Leaders and Cities expansions. I tend to like to play with both any chance that we get to play, with preference towards Leaders if I can only choose one. 7 Wonders is absolutely a table hog, a messy, beautiful table hog of a game, one that is destined to stay in the collection for a long time as I just don’t see a more enjoyable, pure drafting game coming around any time soon. 15 plays since 2012.
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2. Board Game: Agricola (Revised Edition) [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:75]
Board Game: Agricola (Revised Edition)
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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Without going out on too much of a limb here, Agricola, is probably the game in my collection that a majority of folks would call a “Classic”. Power Grid, Puerto Rico and Caylus are all gone, but yet the game lovingly nicknamed “Misery Farm” has survived. To me, this is the worker placement game of choice, even with new players, we’ll just play the family version. I’ve had a weird history with Agricola. When I joined what would be my first game group back in 2012/2013, that group would have been happy playing Agricola every time they met. I tried to jump in with them, but the experience disadvantage I was at, was very noticeable for me and I didn’t play it with them much, I started bringing newer games to the group and kind of ruined it – but that’s another story. Even when I was getting pummeled I realized what a wonderfully tense and challenging design it really was and I knew I liked it, I just didn’t like being on the uneven playing field, I wasn’t at that point where I could enjoy a game and learn from it, especially when I was being beaten over the head with it. But, I picked up a copy and taught it to my wife and we played a couple learning games to feel more comfortable with it, but then we discovered the two player version, All Creatures Big and Small and that took our two player time, so I sold off my copy, only to later pick it up again when I rediscovered just how good it was a couple years later and picked up the new version which will probably never leave the collection. It’s tense, it’s unforgiveable and it’s really Uwe’s masterpiece no matter how much he tries to distill it and make it more forgiving and friendly for the new generation of gamers, of which I am a part. 8 plays since 2013.
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3. Board Game: Arboretum [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:251]
Board Game: Arboretum
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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Remember that draw and discard comment in the previous Surviving the Purge article? Well here we go again. Originally from Z-Man Games, Arboretum is a wonderful draw and discard game where you are planting trees to create your own arboretum. You score points by creating “pathways” of trees and those pathways have to continue in increasing values. There are eight types of trees in the deck and each type of tree has cards numbered from one to eight. There is a catch to all of this though. Everyone will always have seven cards in hand, on a turn you draw two, either from a face down draw pile, or from the discard piles – each player has a personal discard pile. At the end of the game, you gain the right to score a pathway if you have the highest value of that suit still in your hand. Each pathway will score one point per card in that path, one additional point for each card in the path if the path is at least four cards long and only contain the same species, plus a bonus point for starting a path with a one and two bonus points for ending a path with a two. Another twist to the scoring is that if competing for scoring of a suit, a player has the eight and another player has the one in hand, the eight becomes valueless. Arboretum does suffer a bit when you describe the scoring to new players, it really seems convoluted, and as such, that first play for most players is going to kind of be a throw away. Once you see it in action though, and fully understand what’s going on, this is a tense, easy to play, card game that has been in my Top 10 basically since I first played it. 22 plays since 2015.
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4. Board Game: Archaeology: The New Expedition [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:943]
Board Game: Archaeology: The New Expedition
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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I am a sucker for draw and discard games, or set collection card games, you’ll notice this a bit throughout this series of articles. One of my favorites is this, Archaeology The New Expedition. The players are archaeologists who are digging in various sites, trying to piece together parchments, pots and other artifacts to sell them to museums. Players will draw a card (digging), if it’s a treasure, keep it secret in your hand. Sometimes you’ll find thieves (steal a card from an opponent), or a sandstorm which causes everyone to discard half of their cards to the marketplace, don’t worry, everyone has one tent that they can use at some point during the game to avoid a sandstorm. After digging the players can trade with the marketplace, or they can sell to the museum by laying down sets, or they can use a map to explore a monument. Play continues like this until the draw deck has run out and everyone in turn passes, the explorer with the most money from selling to the museum wins. It’s a simple trick, drawing a card equals digging in the sand looking for artifacts, and from then on, it all makes thematic sense. Phil Walker-Harding is going to show up quite a bit over this series of articles, and Archaeology The New Expedition was my introduction to his games, and a great one at that. My only real qualm with the game is that it doesn’t play that well at two players, the way the market works, anything you drop usually is going to go to your opponent, so you know what everyone is working on, I think it works a lot better in the three to five player range. 6 plays since 2016.
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5. Board Game: Axio [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:5151]
Board Game: Axio
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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I love a good abstract game, and as we’ll discuss later, Ingenious is one of my absolute favorites. Axio kind of takes Ingenious and takes those hexagonal pieces and makes them squares, it also takes those dead spaces that you create in Ingenious and gives them a purpose. When you create a dead space on the board, you place a pyramid piece in there and then each color that touches the pyramid, will score you a point in that color. The game has a wonderful Knizia feel to it. Don’t over focus on one thing, you have to be pretty even with your scoring. Each color has a score track and at the end of the game, your score is equal to the lowest of those. I only wish that I could get Axio with those wonderful plastic tiles like I have with Ingenious. There’s nothing wrong with cardboard, but plastic is oddly satisfying in a game like this. 9 plays since 2018.
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6. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:43] [Average Rating:7.86 Unranked]
Board Game: Azul
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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Includes Azul Stained Glass of Sintra & Azul Summer Pavilion.

I know, I know, why on Earth would anyone think that they need all three of these games? Well, the simple truth is, I probably don’t, but the answer is, I want them and I find them uniquely different enough that I have specific times when I want to play one or the other. Azul is a classic, sure it was only released a couple years ago, but I don’t think there is any doubt that it will stand the test of time. Its ease of play, and wonderful interactivity with the drafting of the beautiful tiles have endeared it to gamers both old and new. Azul Stained Glass of Sintra is probably my least favorite of the trilogy, but it is still a fantastic looking game and has some gameplay mechanisms that will appeal more to the gamers who like to plan and have to work things out and have everything timed perfectly. Azul Summer Pavilion is arguably the best all-around game in the bunch, but it can be a bit much for new gamers. Summer Pavilion takes those timing mechanisms of Sintra and adds some combo fun to it, giving players who figure out the timing, a definite advantage. It may end up being my favorite version in the long run, but Summer Pavilion is still young, so time will tell. All of them have wonderful table presence that draws people to the games and makes them want to pick up the pieces and ask questions and honestly become interested. It’s really a wonderful line of games that will never leave the collection, even if I were to quit playing board games. Azul 46 plays since 2017, Azul Stained Glass of Sintra 7 plays since 2018 & Azul Summer Pavilion 6 plays since October 2019.
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7. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:346]
Board Game: Biblios
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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A recent discussion popped up about games that make good closer games for the end of the night, and the two that I have fell back on more often than not are For Sale, and this one, Biblios. Both are relatively similar games where they are auction games played over two different phases, where in the first phase you are gaining your items, or your purchasing power, in order to win the most valuable items in the final round. Biblios is perfectly done. You are a scholar in a library building the collection. Over the first half of the game you are drawing cards and assigning to either yourself, another player or the auction pile. Cards are valued from one to three, or they can have powers that allow you to adjust the values on the market or other cards that are simply money in the second half. The second half, that auction pile is auctioned off, one card at a time, with players using the cards in their hands. Deceptively simple, sneakily strategic and a lot of fun. Biblios is a game, along with For Sale which does play two more people, that I will actively say that should be in everyone’s board game collection.
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8. Board Game: Black Spy [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:3964]
Board Game: Black Spy
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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I never sat around thinking, “you know what would be cool? Alan Moon taking his thoughts on what Hearts should be and putting it into a card game”. But you know what? He did, and I really enjoy it. Along with being a good game though, it’s actually a part of that Z-Man card game line that I absolutely love so that helped. What also helped is the fact that Alan autographed it for me, and I couldn’t part with a game that was a personalized gift to me. It will be played more, but as it is, this is more of a sentimental keeper, than a game we couldn’t live without 1 play since 2018.
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9. Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:283]
Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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I really like deck builders. I especially like deck builders that manage to integrate a theme nearly seamlessly. Blood Bowl Team Manager does this. I will confess, I had never played Blood Bowl when I found this, and I still have not. But as far as I can tell, BBTM managed to take the Blood Bowl feeling and compressed it down into a 30-60 minute deck builder. I haven’t played BBTM in ages, but I still fondly remember playing it with my oldest daughter who at the time declared it the greatest thing since Hannah Montana or something equally silly. In the game you are competing teams, attempting to gain the most fans. As the game progresses you will add new teammates to your teams and you will gain new manager powers to use as well, all leading to that ultimate fourth quarter showdown. BBTM will play up to four players, but to be honest, I’ve never viewed it as anything other than a two player game, and a nearly perfect one at that. 8 plays since 2012.
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10. Board Game: Blue Lagoon [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:886]
Board Game: Blue Lagoon
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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Blue Lagoon to me, is the culmination of the resurgence of Knizia designs. Dead simple in terms of rules, but ultimately a wonderfully deep experience. Yeah, it definitely feels a bit point salad-y, and less like a Knizia scoring game, but make no mistake this has Knizia all over it. I absolutely love the two halves of the game, where the first half is seeding the board for the final round. I also love that you score both halves and reset, mostly, in between. Clearing the board of everything except the huts. Aggressive, in your face fun. That’s Blue Lagoon. 9 plays since 2018.
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11. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:433]
Board Game: Bohnanza
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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We all love Uwe Rosenberg’s farming games, and I’m only half making a joke here, but this is my favorite of them -- sorry Agricola fans. Plus, it’s another draw and discard styled card game. The goal of course is to plant the most valuable beans in your farm area and harvest them at the right time, at first you can only have two fields, but you could – although honestly I don’t recommend it – buy a third. The trick to the game is that you can only play cards from your hand in order, you don’t get to mix the cards up, as you bring a card in to your hand it goes on the right and you work from left to right. There is also some wheeling and dealing going on here in Bohnanza, players trade beans on their turn with anyone else who wants to make a deal. Wonderfully interactive and engaging, Bohnanza earned a spot in the collection. We’ve never expanded on it, and I’ve never bought any of the off-shoot games, there is no need. 11 plays since 2012.
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12. Board Game: Brains Family: Burgen & Drachen [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:9259]
Board Game: Brains Family: Burgen & Drachen
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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Bit of a weird one here. An Essen ’18 game that is really more of a puzzle race than a game, and that’s okay as we’ve had an absolute great time playing this one. It takes the Brains games from Dr. Knizia and makes it multiplayer. You are still trying to find paths to get to certain points, but now you are doing that against one to three other people. Trying to be the first to complete the puzzle. Also, this was one of my first reviews here on The Opinionated Gamers. 6 plays since 2018.
 
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13. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition) [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:643]
Board Game: Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition)
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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There may not be another game in our collection that has caused so much yelling. And I’ve kept it here in spite of everyone’s motto, “kill dad first”. My wife finds it a bit off-putting to point even a foam gun at the kids, but we quickly got over that once we realized that if we didn’t, we’d never be able to win, and we’d never be good mob bosses. My 93 year old grandmother has even sat down and played a game with us, and she quickly adapted to my family’s motto. I’ve never been more proud to be shot. 10 plays since 2014.
 
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14. Board Game: Cacao [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:543]
Board Game: Cacao
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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Cacao is tile placement, within a seemingly constrained area. The premise is simple, place a tile and activate the tiles around it based on the number of worker symbols on the tile. The object of the game is to end up with the most coins at the end of the game. You do this by gathering cacao and selling it in markets. You also can move up a water track that gets increasingly valuable as you move. There is also a bit of area majority sparring with the temples where you are vying to have the most workers surrounding them for points. One of my favorite things about Cacao is the ability to build over one of your own tiles you previously placed. The game starts with everyone having a set of tiles and when that set of tiles runs out, the game ends. Through game play though you can gain silver which allows you to build over one of your previously built tiles, reactivating everything around it. It can be a huge play when used correctly. We have both expansions in the box, Chocatl and Diamante, but I will confess, we’ve never played them. I’ll have to remedy that this year. 18 plays since 2015.
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15. Board Game: Camel Up (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:602]
Board Game: Camel Up (Second Edition)
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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From one of my older daughter’s favorites, to one of our youngest daughter’s favorites. We missed out on Camel Up when it first appeared. I think that I maybe got to play the original one time and then by the time I wanted to add it to the collection, it was out of print and hard to find. Eggerspiel came back with a new version, with much prettier art and better components, including a board that folds out and has palm trees, I mean come on, that’s just decadence right there. It’s a simple gambling game where you are betting on camels in a race. You don’t own any of the camels in the race, at some point you will probably move each of them and hoping that the camels that you have bet on come in first or second. It features stacking camels, where if one camel stops where another already is, it stacks on top, then if the bottom camel moves, all the camels on top go with it. Fun, silly and with the new edition you can play with the rogue camels who go backwards around the track and can wreak havoc on the race track, we never play without them. [url=]Chris and Dale have you covered with four different reviews on The OG[/url]. A well deserving Spiel des Jahres winner back in 2014. 4 plays of second edition since December 2018 and 1 play of the first edition. https://opinionatedgamers.com/?s=Camel+up
 
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16. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:700]
Board Game: Can't Stop
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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The quintessential push your luck game, and one of my family’s fall back games. I absolutely love the simple design work of Sid Sackson, and kind of sad that I wasn’t around in the early years to see these games when they were first being found. Thankfully we’ve got it covered now though at least. I love the production of this one, we have the version with the giant plastic stop sign and colored cones. My only issue is that honestly, I can’t stop. I don’t know when a good time to quit rolling the dice is. Well, that’s kind of a lie, I know when I should do it, I just think I am completely incapable of stopping. One of those games that should be on every family’s shelves if they play board games. 13 (logged) plays since 2012.
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17. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:165] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Board Game: Carcassonne
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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One of these days, I should sit down and write my ode to Carcassonne. A swan song to reviewing as it will probably be the most annoyingly glowing piece I have ever written. I find it very difficult to find any fault in the design of this game. Simply put, Carcassonne is my favorite game in the collection and has been for quite some time. Question becomes, why do I have two copies, especially when one of them is as all encompassing as The Big Box. Well, because there are promos and expansions in the old design box and also expansions and promos in the new design box. Carcassonne is a completionist’s nightmare. There are special Essen tiles to get every year, there are now weird maps to get as well. While my collection is not complete, I was working on it in the old style until I realized that the new style had things as well that couldn’t be added to the old style. For my wife and I, maybe only Ticket to Ride can rival the importance that the game served in our formative gaming time. Carcassone is fantastic at any player count, except maybe six players, especially if you are just playing with the base tiles. At two players though, it can be a downright exciting and kind of mean game. Perfect fit for us. Nothing makes us happier than stealing a castle, or stealing a field out from under each other. In spite of my desire to, I still have not played Carcassonne with everything I own at one time, I think the largest play I ever did was with three expansions, plus The River. Someday though, some day. 35 plays since 2013.
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18. Board Game: Carson City: Big Box [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked]
Board Game: Carson City: Big Box
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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One of my first big box Kickstarter games was a game that had long been on my wishlist based on my love of the designers other big game, Ginkgopolis. Carson City has it all, it has worker placement, tile placement, area majority fighting with dice and dueling. It really is a wild west battle each and every play. It’s a fantastic game that got a wonderful re-release via Kickstarter. These are the kind of games that I look for on Kickstarter any more. I have never had much luck with Kickstarter games, I would wager that my collection now contains very, very few of them, but proven games, getting re-releases in improved quality is where my head is at. I don’t get to play this one nearly often enough. It’s big and is a bit of a table hog, but man does it deliver each and every play. 4 plays since 2016.
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19. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:15]
Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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Kind of weird that I kept this one, as I think I have maybe played it in physical form five times? But I do have almost one hundred plays of it logged via various online sites. I love Castles of Burgundy, it’s a wonderful dice and tile game. Like any game with dice involved, it frustrates me from time to time, and I don’t fully believe that there are enough ways to off-set bad luck rolls, but ultimately if I am going to play a game where I have to roll dice and plot out my round based on that roll, Castles of Burgundy is my choice. It’s ugly, it’s a pain in the ass to set up in physical form, but I just don’t think that there is anything like it out there that can compare. It is point salad-y, but damn it, who doesn’t like scoring a lot of points for just about anything you do? Yet, it sticks around and it still is one of my favorite games to play, only with two players, maybe three, never four, and rarely on the table. 95 plays (mostly online) since 2013.
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20. Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:110]
Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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I am not sure that there is a game in our collection that has as cool a theme as Castles of Mad King Ludwig. You are tasked with building the King’s castle to his very specific specifications. Certain rooms next to certain areas and sometimes he just wants a bunch of bedrooms, or closets, you never really know until you start to build it. The heart of the game is the way that the room tiles are priced and purchased by the players. Each round there is a “master builder” and they get to set the pricing of the tiles that are out and available, price them too high and they’ll never go away and keep accumulating coins, price them too low and people will scoop them up right out from under you, now that’s not a completely bad thing as you do make money from them buying tiles, but you may have wanted or needed the tile. It can slow down the game a bit if you have players who tend to overthink the choices, but it’s an absolute gem. 11 plays since 2015.
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21. Board Game: Chimera [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:2516]
Board Game: Chimera
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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I’ve only ever played this game one time, and that was with a recent Kickstarter version, Chimera & More. I remember very little of it, other than it felt like a fantastic three player climbing game. Also, it was part of that Z-Man card game line, so it stays. 1 play since 2017.
 
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22. Board Game: Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:59]
Board Game: Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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Plus all the expansions

I’ve written about Clank! quite a bit over the last couple of years. I really enjoy deck building and I really enjoy it when game creators try to do something fun with a primary mechanism such as deck building. Clank! is not my favorite deck builder, that’ll come later in this series of articles, looking over my shoulders at the game shelves, really soon, but Clank! by far is my favorite of the group that tried to add little twists to the genre. Clank! does this with movement on a board and collection of items. So while cards will gain you points, you have to build your deck for more than just gathering points, you have to have movement and even some combat points in order to run in and grab your loot, and then run out with the loot before that always looming dragon, spider, zombie or other monster ends your life. With a bevy of expansions, Clank! has become a steadfast game in our collection, and one that my wife really likes, maybe as much as Carcassonne. I think it has issues, it can be difficult to cull your deck when you need to cull your deck, there are only a couple cards in the deck that allow that to happen. Also, I think that when adding the expansions with more cards, you can get lost and not find what you need or want, the deck becomes too overloaded. We keep all the expansions around though because variety is the spice of life, and I think that Clank! offers up a lot of the spice. 19 plays since December 2016.
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23. Board Game: Clue (2-6 players) [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:5741]
Board Game: Clue (2-6 players)
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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I don’t really care what anyone says, I think that Clue is still one of the better deduction games around. This is my youngest daughter’s copy though, she asked for it a couple Christmas’ ago after an epic game she played with her Uncle who enjoyed cheating a bit too much. Look, Clue didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, probably because it was the wheel. It’s a family weight deduction game and that’s how we enjoy it, as a family. 3 plays since Jan 2019.
 
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24. Board Game: Codenames [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:74] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Board Game: Codenames
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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Plus Codenames Duet

Codenames has kind of fallen out of favor for us. This past year or so has given us a plethora of great, family weight games. Just One & Letter Jam being the two that we have latched on to. So when it came time to decide what to keep, I had to take a long look at Codenames. I just wasn’t sure that it would get any play time. Ultimately though, I think that Codenames brings something to the table that the others don’t. It’s a small box game that can handle an almost infinite number of people and I have seen Codenames bring those people together for a really competitive and fun time. Codenames Duet is mine and my wife’s preferred way to play Codenames though, so it had to stay as well, even if it has been a long time since it has hit the table. Besides, who gets rid of Spiel des Jahres winning games? Codenames has 16 plays since 2015 & Codenames Duet has 12 plays since 2017.
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25. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:17]
Board Game: Concordia
Brandon Kempf
United States
Jefferson City
MO
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Here is another game that was kept more for potential, rather than its history, at least history with us. We’ve only played Concordia one time, and I remember being frustrated, but completely enamored with how it worked. It probably didn’t help that we played with someone who counts it as his favorite game and broke it out of a nice custom wooden box with all the extra bells and whistles. We also have one of the expansions in the box, Venus. Pretty sure that we won this copy at Moon City Con in Springfield, MO. Just in case you were looking for another convention to throw on to your schedule. We will play Concordia this year, hopefully more than once and I hope to see that lives up to that potential that I saw in the first try. 1 play since 2018.
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