Pulling Rank - My Favorite games that didn't make the top 100 list. Part II
Morgan Dontanville
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In an effort to shift the limelight from games that people are sick of hearing about (or at least I am), I decided to focus on what I think are the coolest games that haven't made, have been bumped off, or never will make it below the century mark.

I tried to have some order to this list, but as things constantly shift, it is all just catch as catch can.

PartI
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...

Part III
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...
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1. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:237] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Morgan Dontanville
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Ok, so it isn't the greatest game. Sure it has some endgame problems, but I'll be dipped in spit if this isn't a good time. We play were you create your own characters, and it helps that my friend has Cthulu minatures. With this you really get an attachment to what happens to them while you are playing the game.

Lots of fun artifacts, cool little quests, neat monsters, and there is nothing quite like getting trapped in a building with only a couple hit points while monsters are pounding at the door. "Someone, please help me! Anyone!"

This isn't one that you play all the time, but when it does get pulled out, in the right mood, it is tough to beat the experience.
 
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2. Board Game: Wings of War: Famous Aces [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:787] [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Morgan Dontanville
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As a fan of Wreckage, it is an obvious connection of love. Great mechanics and a smooth movement system, make this game a real joy to play. I love how each plane's cards reflect how those planes historically moved. The partnership aspect really adds quite a bit to the game. I'll never turn down a game.
 
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3. Board Game: Wildlife Safari [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1299]
Morgan Dontanville
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I've only played Loco! (which is probably the least apealing aesthetically of the many variants of this game). While this is packaged to look like some simple Uno fare, Loco! has a surprising amount of depth and interactivity to it.

Reiner Knizia really hits home for me when he boils down a mechanic to its simplest form (Quo Vadis?, Medici). With Loco!, he has created the purest stock game imaginable, and succeeds. There is one thing to be said about this version of the game though, the shouting of Loco! is so stupid, that it can do nothing but add to the fun. Kind of like a bad joke that only gets funnier the more you repeat it.
 
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4. Board Game: Inkognito [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1404]
Morgan Dontanville
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I have to admit, I have only played this once, but I had such a great time playing it that it quickly blew itself up onto my favorite list.

First of all even if the game was horrible, I would still have some affinity toward it, as the pieces are just so damn cool. Easily some of the best componants out there (perhaps only beaten by Ponte Vechio.) To make these even better, the board is just downright cool.

Well, as for the game play, it is a great little deduction game, that perhaps might be a bit too random for some from the marbles relegated by the scary nun thing, but who cares if you are enjoying it while you play. Lots of cool movement around the board, leads to a fun exciting endgame.
 
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5. Board Game: Merchants of the Middle Ages [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1515]
Morgan Dontanville
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It is quite unfortunate that game got such a bad rap. The silly Gathering of Friends elitists played this with the wrong rules and panned the game at any opportunity. I would wager that some of the people that knocked the game hadn't even played it, and took its reputation on heresay only to spread nasty rumors. Well, they are wrong.

This game is fantastic. Sure there are a bunch of mechanics that seem overwhelming to take in at first, but I feel that the all seem matter of fact as the game gets going.

I'm a fan of nasty games and this one is particularly brutal. This has gives a great ability of play between manipulating the movement of goods shipped and adjusting the market value of everything.

I'm not sure how well balanced the special powers are, but I could really care less considering how much fun I have playing it. Upon a number of more plays if I find that they are too strongly divided then I'll just adjust them to suit my needs. Now though, I'm not too concerned as I have a tendancy to trust Wolfgang Kramer with his own game.

Beautiful wood pieces and great player interaction with virtually no downtime make this a high standing game in my collection.
 
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6. Board Game: Medieval Merchant [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1661]
Morgan Dontanville
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I borrowed Medieval Merchant from a friend of mine. When I first asked him about it he mentioned that he thought the game was ok, but it wasn't really about anything Medieval nor did it have much do do with Merchants or Merchant activities.

Well he was almost right. The theme is practically non-existant, but the game is well above ok, so much so that it makes up for the fact that I generally don't dig abstract pasted on themes. If fact I generally feel kind of put off by them (Silly discrimination on my part ).

So because this game is so good my friends and I pretend that we are opening up fast food chains in malls across Germany. Suddenly, the theme is fantastic and fits the game play.
 
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7. Board Game: Escape from the Hidden Castle [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2031]
Morgan Dontanville
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Alas the old problem, there are a bunch of gamers that have come over to play a game, do we split into groups and play two games on two tables or should we play one big card game. Usually it comes down to one big card game, but I'm almost always disapointed by the experience. Midnight Party solves the problem. Now I'm not saying that there is a whole lot of depth in the game, but it is fun and still satisfies the urge to play a board game with 8 people.

This silly hide and go seek game really is quite a bit of fun and builds a good amount of tension as Hugo is coming closer and closer to your guys. There are some neat little decisions that you have to make, should I move the guy up from the back or try to get this guy hidden in a room? Do I take a hit to screw some other guy? Do I sacrifice points in order not to get the larger negative points?

This is my favorite push your luck game, and probably is my favorite party game.

Tons of fun.
 
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8. Board Game: Volldampf [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:2208]
Morgan Dontanville
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Who would have thought that I would have liked a train game? I sure didn't. Still though, I figured that there are so many people out there that love them that there had to be something to it. So, I researched. I wanted something about halfway between the 18xx games and TransAmerica (which I don't mind, but wouldn't ever buy). After finally asking enough people it seemed Volldampf was the one. I love it.

Neat system of pushing other players to give you points (certainly feels ripped off in Maharaja). Lots of little decisions in vying for position, both in the short term payoff, and the long term strategy. I played it for the first time with someone that absolutely hated it (how's that for an endorsement) and still walked away feeling great about the game. I don't have the railroad bug, but I am most definitely interested in trying out some new ones. (see Hell Rail)

A fantastic system set up for pick-up and delivery, debt management, and rail building. Still though, I do not recommend this for A/Pers as they will stare at the board for 1/2 an hour frustrated. If you can lay out a night without the overthinker, then full steam ahead.
 
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9. Board Game: Phantoms vs Phantoms [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2258]
Morgan Dontanville
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I have the old MB version of Ghosts! What is not to love about a game that glows in the dark!

Ok, outside of the super cool gimmick, there is a great game here. This is perhaps my favorite filler game. It is very simple (only 4 rules) so it is easy to teach and grasp, plus it plays in about 5 minutes.

There is a surprising amount of depth to such a simple game. This is all about bluffing and intimidation. There are multiple roads to victory as well, which makes this quite surprising for Milton Bradley Circa 1985. Overall, this game kinda feeds the fix for ever wanting to play Checkers or Stratego.
 
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10. Board Game: Blackbeard [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2406]
Morgan Dontanville
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Oh, Blackbeard. Why must you be so difficult.

So the only real way to play this is with three players with three ships led by someone that knows the game well.

There are many games that toe the difficult line between realism and better gameplay. This game perhaps is a bit heavy on realism for some (as you can get caught out on the ocean injured, scurvy ridden with a crew that is on the verge of mutiny, but damn if that still isn't fun. There is just so much color in this that it almost isn't really a game but rather a simulation. It doesn't really matter if you win or lose, the fun lies in the experience of raiding ports and taking the risks to sack them; Torturing hostages to get information out of them, and the notoriety that you get if you accidently kill them; raiding merchant ships and taking them over to upgrade your ship; the thrill of running away from fleets why your captain has lost an eye and a leg trying to get to a safe town to heal up.

I love it.
 
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11. Board Game: The Big Idea [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:2902]
Morgan Dontanville
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I am so happy that Cheapass put out the Semideluxe Edition to this fantastic game. This really is my favorite party game. The Big Idea forces a level of creativity as you have to make products from random cards and try to pitch the product to the other players.

This is one of the few games that almost always brings me to tears with laughter. (of course, it helps that I play with funny people).
 
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12. Board Game: Phoenix [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2912]
Morgan Dontanville
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I'm not a fan of dry abstract games really, and this just screams abstract and dry. But, what a relief it was to find out just how wrong I was, ok yes you are lining up the colors of the spectrum, but it isn't dry at all. Pheonix is a quick fun card driven game that plays fast, is easy to teach, and allows for tension to build on the last round even if the player had previously lost the two before. The game keeps up interest as victory relies on the points that you've earned. This game is perfect for those that want interaction, but fear direct confrontation. This is all about being sneaky and passive agressive. Sure it is only a light filler, but I find that this hits the table quite often.
 
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13. Board Game: Tonga Bonga [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:3310]
Morgan Dontanville
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How can I not love a game where you can roll-up people puking on the dice. Light & fun. Great route planning with neat ways to screw people over.

This is a somewhat deceptive game, as while most of the activity is based on how you move your boat around on the board, the object of the game is to make the most money. This creates some decisions on whether you want to spend to potentially get the most movement, or to be a bit more resourceful and underspend. There aren't too many overt choices, things come down to playing the odds, penny by penny. This may sound like tedium, but in actuality the game is completely intuitive and is just down right fun.

In addition, the pieces are fabulous, the money is some of the best around, and the board is a pleasure to look at.
 
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14. Board Game: Die Magier von Pangea [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3468]
Morgan Dontanville
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Without a doubt, Magier von Pangea is one of the coolest small box games out there. The pieces are outstanding, with the shapes of the lacquered wooden chits granting such a heavy magic feel in the most simplistic way. I love the design showing whether your piece are working or not by them being either asleep or awake. The wrap around board leads to fun manipulation of the play area. At the crux of it all is the fact that you need to get resources, but if you have your worker making you goods, then it allows for other players to get ahead. So many choices in what you have to do, but with so little to do on your turn there is little A/P and the turns chug right along. The most brilliant thing about this game is the land capacity. Players can manipulate it so that your men can work, but if another player comes on the tile to get the amulet they stop working and the other player is debunked. Of course, the balance to this is that other players can cut off your income. I will play this anytime.
 
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15. Board Game: Way Out West [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:3524]
Morgan Dontanville
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VA
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The first time I played Way Out West, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. Of course, playing with the wrong rules didn't help, but there was just a lot to take in and the fighting between cowboys was just a little too random. Then I actually learned the correct rules and adopted the wounded cowboy variant, and suddenly this game rose up to the top of my favorite games. I am always hankerin' to drive this doggy out on the high table. Seeping with theme, lot's of tough decisions, great little showdowns, sure there is a little luck, but the better player will still almost always win. If you are looking to get a cowboy game this is really it. Robbin' Banks, Rustlin' Cattle, Corrupt Sherriffs, Pesky Farmers, what's not to love. If there were only a saloon, indians and a brothel then this game would be perfect (but Lawless has those to sate my needs). If only there were some way that the Train were actually worth building...
 
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16. Board Game: The Creature That Ate Sheboygan [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:3581]
Morgan Dontanville
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Charlottesville
VA
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Holy Cow! It really doesn't get much better than making the giant stomping sounds as your newly created monster comes onto the board. Surprises abound as the defenders of Sheboygan slowly start to discover the powers that your moster unleashes on the city. This game is just a ridiculous amount of fun. Shame that there is no good use of the firemen, but perhaps with some tweaking...

Nonetheless, if you want to play a monster rampaging a city there can be only one.
 
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17. Board Game: Vabanque [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:4184]
Morgan Dontanville
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Charlottesville
VA
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I have a soft spot for this one. Sure it isn't the deepest of games, but it is some pretty fantastic filler. Very simple bluffing/gambling game, with some nice positional elements to it. Sure there is a lot of luck, but for the number of times that I've played this I've seen consistant winners.

This isn't going to blow your mind, but if you are looking for a social game with a party game like feel, while still allowing for players to think while it isn't their turn, then you might want to check this one out.

With the small amount of bits, and simplicity to the game perhaps it may not be worth buying, but it is absolutely worth making and owning.
 
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18. Board Game: Arena Maximus [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:4330]
Morgan Dontanville
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Charlottesville
VA
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In my quest to find the greatest chariot racing game, I stumbled across this. Very simple, stripped down card management game. Lots of fun and excitement as players careen whipping and ramming each other. Perhaps there is a runaway leader problem occasionaly, but the game is over before it can get annoying.
 
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19. Board Game: The Legend of Robin Hood [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:4438]
Morgan Dontanville
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Charlottesville
VA
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Who doesn't love Robin Hood (when he's not Kevin Costner). This game has the whole story packed into a fun mini. Sure there are a ton of fidly rules, but this one is going to be tough for anyone to beat for pure flavor. Consistantly remains one of my favorite games made. I am not a big wargamer, but this one really hits any spot that I'd want when I have an itch to play one.

Be sure not to confuse this Legend of Robin Hood with the other Avalon Hill Legend of Robin Hood that came out right about the same time. This one is a two player tactical "wargame" the other is a multiplayer random luck-driven cardbased kids game (and frankly sucks).
 
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20. Board Game: Im Zeichen des Kreuzes [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:6484]
Morgan Dontanville
United States
Charlottesville
VA
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Ok, so Im Zeichen des Kreuzes may be a crappy "game", it plays out to be a fantastic experience. It reminds me of some of the cooler old Avalon Hill games, without the 50 pages of convoluted rules to memorize. This is certainly for people that look at a game as a kit. There is everything here though, you just need to tweak the rules a bit to fit your group. We had such a good time that we all wanted to play it again with our new rules. Silly.

What's not to love about being some dark ages murderer going on a holy war against heathens, and never getting there because you are too busy sacking your own people?
 
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21. Board Game: Flying Carpet [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:7177]
Morgan Dontanville
United States
Charlottesville
VA
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Ok, Der Fliegende Teppich is a kids racing game, fair enough. But it really feels fantastic to swoop your little flying carpets up through the clouds and catch the wind. Tight fun that plays nice and viscious. Lots of little ways to screw the other players (rearanging the clouds, knocking down other players, etc). Plus the painted buildings on the Ravensberger edition are absolutely gorgeous. Light and fun, and highly interactive, this one hits the table often, and ranks as one of my favorite fillers.
 
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22. Board Game: In Teufels K├╝che [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:8211]
Morgan Dontanville
United States
Charlottesville
VA
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In Teufels Kuche somehow makes that "rubberband-pointing-in-your-face" feeling ... fun. Outside of the cool bluff element to the game as you are trying to take pots of hidden values through the wastelands of hell back to your grill, there is the russian roulette devil in a cauldron mechanism that makes you flinch every time someone presses the button. Easily some of the coolest pieces in any game, and the whole experience just leads to absurd jokes, silly voices, and roleplaying. THE DEVIL HATES MILK, NOW YOU MUST DIE! Great light filler that is more than just a kids game. Almost the best part of the game is the happy German family playing this together on the back of the box. It really needs one of the children vomiting green goo on the board.
 
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23. Board Game: Knock Out [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:9990]
Morgan Dontanville
United States
Charlottesville
VA
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BOOM! Eat the glove! OK, Knock Out isn't going to blow anyone away with ingenious mechanics, this isn't the Die Macher of card games or anything, but it is just downright fun.

Everyone has the same hand to start play with and gets to choose cards from it to train with for the fight. Silly outguessing system that will drive most hardcore gamers crazy as this is an outhink (almost blind bidding) game. Sure it is kind of random in the card play, but at the heart of the game is the betting system. While two players are duking it out, the other players (and those involved are betting on the outcome), there is a beautiful system set up so that you can hype your own fight to collect a huge amount when you take to fall, or just outright pound the hell out of players that you are almost sure that you can beat. Still, you never are 100% sure. If you want to play a light boxing game this is it.
 
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24. Board Game: Ponte Vecchio [Average Rating:5.85 Overall Rank:11061]
Morgan Dontanville
United States
Charlottesville
VA
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Ponte Vecchio has some of the most gorgeous components in any game I've ever played. Now, I know that this doesn't make a game good, but it certainly makes a good game better. So there is a blind bluff mechanism that will drive some people nuts, but this mechanism actually has a pretty high level of control and balance to it in how the game plays out. Fun surprises constantly show up when people are bidding for control of the Rich Gentleman. The person who bids the lowest can move the Gentleman, and wants to sell off the ability to move him to someone who will be making more if the Gentleman moves to their space, let the negotiations begin. A fantastic balance. Plus there is also the strategy of store placement, decisions to make to split retail space or to control it all yourself. Lots of fun.
 
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25. Board Game: Wreckage [Average Rating:5.51 Overall Rank:12813]
Morgan Dontanville
United States
Charlottesville
VA
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Wreckage is a great simplified version of what I wanted from Carwars. It is just an arena based preprogrammed shoot 'em up, but it really is a blast. Literally.

The combat system is elegant in its simplicity, and there is always the tough decision at the begining of the game in how to upgrade your car to a killing machine.

Perhaps Wings of War is a bit more graceful, but I think that this is just more rawkus fun.
 
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