Best of the Heavyweight Euro Games
Craig Viau
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I have moved all my lists to group them together. Any games added by others were included but all the comments have been lost.
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1. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:15]
 
Craig Viau
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The players are plantation owners in Puerto Rico in the days when the ships had sails. Growing up to five different kind of crops: Corn, Indigo, Coffee, Sugar and Tobacco, they must try to run their business more efficiently than their close competitors.

A unique game system let the players choose the order of the phases in each turn, and the player who understand to employ these most effectively, will win the game.

How could I not like this game. I am on board with this one full steam ahead. I could play this everyday. I have won my share but still feel I have room for improvement. This is one game where its all about watching what everyone else is doing and reacting. So for me the player interaction is high. You must be like a football team and react to your opponents plays and abilities. You can't go out with the same game plan and expect to win.
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2. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:28]
Craig Viau
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The latest cooperative publishing effort from 2F and Rio Grande Games, removes the crayon aspect from network building in the original edition while retaining the fluctuating commodities market like McMulti and an auction round intensity reminiscent of Princes of Florence. The object of the game is to supply the most cities with power when someone's network gains a predetermined size. In this new edition, players mark pre-existing routes between cities for connection, and then vie against other players to purchase the power plants that you use to supply the power. However, as plants are purchased, newer more efficient plants become available so you're effectively allowing others to access to superior equipment merely by purchasing at all. Additionally, players must acquire the raw materials, like coal, oil, garbage, or uranium, to power said plants (except for the highly valuable 'renewable energy' wind/solar plants), making it a constant struggle to upgrade your plants for maximum efficiency while still retaining enough wealth to quickly expand your network to get the cheapest routes.

Only one play but it was very tense and very close. This is an excellent game. The decisions and bidding are very tough.
 
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3. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:53]
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In this Spiel des Jahres winner, players take on the roles of Grandes in medieval Spain. The king's power is flagging, and these powerful lords are vying for control of the various provinces. To that end, you draft caballeros (knights) into your court and subsequently move them onto the board to help seize control of provinces. After every third turn, the regions are scored, and after the ninth turn, the Grande with the most points is deemed the winner.

Probably the best of what I call "Area Control" games. If you like this then check out Attila, Web of Power, Wongar and Wallenstein. Each of these games is different enough that you should own all of them and this is no exception. A definite must have.
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4. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
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Arguably Reiner Knizia's best game, this is certainly one of the highlights of his prolific career. The game is set in the ancient fertile crescent with players building civilizations through tile placement. Basically, players are given leaders in four different categories (farming, trading, religion, and government) and must use them to collect victory points in these categories. However, your score at the end of the game is the number of points in your weakest category, which encourages players not to get overly specialized.

One of my personal top ten. Of course a lot of people like it. It has great tactical possibilites, innovative gameplay and good strategic depth as well. The very best tile placement game there is. The scoring is awesome as well. Don't go without this game.
 
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5. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:114]
Craig Viau
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This is the fourth game in the Early Railways series, but it looks more like an 18xx type of game, though with a much more managable game time. It's also getting much better components than the typical Winsome game.

Definetly the best train game out there and I think I have all the popular ones. I may have to lower my rating on the rest just to be fair to this game. There are some similarities to Volddampf. This game adds a fair number of new elements and it provides a very intense level of angst on how to manage with limited resources. It includes actual rail line construction, shipment of goods, engine upgrades, bidding for turn positioning and other elements. It came after Voldampf and has some extra elements so if I had to chose only one I guess I'd go for Age of Steam but both are excellent.
 
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6. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:186]
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Die Macher is a game about seven sequential political races in different regions of Germany. Players are in charge of national political parties, and must manage limited resources to help their party to victory. The winning party will have the most victory points after all the regional elections. But there are four different ways of scoring victory points. First, each regional election can supply ten to eighty victory points, depending on the size of the region and how well your party does in it. Second, if a party wins a regional election and has some media influence in the region, then the party will receive some media-control victory points. Third, each party has a national party membership which will grow as the game progresses and this will supply a fair number of victory points. Lastly, parties score some victory points if their party platform matches the national opinions at the end of the game.

I'm a fan of this game. It takes a bit to get through the first game but after that it's straight forward. Tons of good decisions to make and forward thinking required. Highly recommended. Quite deep but worth every minute.
 
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7. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:107]
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Goa is by Rüdiger Dorn, and is a strategy game for 2-4 players 12 and up. Goa at the start of the 16th century: beautiful beaches, a mild climate, and one of the most important trading centres in the world. Competing companies deal in spices, send ships and colonists into the world and invest money. Are you on top or at the bottom? It depends on how you invest your profits. Will you make your ships more efficient? Enhance your plantations? Recruit more colonists? Only a steady hand in business will help. Goa: Riches, Reward, and Risk.

This game is now one of my personal favorites.
 
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8. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:215]
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Set thousands of years in the future, Dune the boardgame is based on the Frank Herbert novels about an arid planet at the heart of the human space empire's political machinations.

Designed by the creators at Eon of Cosmic Encounter fame, the game can best be described as Cosmic Encounter set within the Dune universe. It does diverge in several mechanical ways but its heart is still in the same place, that is, it is a game that generates a lot of player interaction through negotiation and bluffing.

Players each take the role of one of the factions attempting to control Dune. Each faction has special powers that overlook certain rules in the game. Each turn players move about the map attempting to pick up valuable spice while dealing with giant sandworms, deadly storms, and other players' military forces. A delicate political balance is formed amongst the factions to prevent any one side from becoming too strong. When a challenge is made in a territory, combat takes the form of hidden bids with additional treachery cards to further the uncertainty.

The game concludes when one faction (or two allied factions) is able to control a certain number of strongholds on the planet.

Only played once so I don't have a grasp on the strategies. But similar to Cosmic Encounter it has different starting abilities for each side and also similarily requires negotiations. Both of the elements I love. The theme also adds to the game greatly. It played much quicker than I thought it would based on the size of the rules. I think it was just over an hour. I am sure my rating should be higher but it took too long to get through the rules. However the next game should be much better now that I know how to play.
 
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9. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:116]
Craig Viau
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I am including this game based on its high ranking on BGG for me it just misses the cutoff. Moved this game up to the heavyweight division due to numerous comments suggesting thats where it belongs.
This game involves developing medieval/renaissance cities to attract various professions, which enriches the cities culturally. Each player is given a city grid and reference chart and attempts to gain the most victory points after seven rounds. Scoring victory points can be done in a variety of ways although the real chunck of it involves generating enough "work" points in a round to play a personality card. There are a variety of personalites from astronomers, organists, architects, etc. Each personality is attracted to a particular combination of building, lanscape feature, and social freedom. The more the player can match these personality preferences then the more work points are generated. If a player satisfies the minimum requirement of work points for the round then the personality can be played and the player can then cash out these points for cash and victory points.
 
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10. Board Game: Princes of the Renaissance [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:585]
Craig Viau
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The game is set in Renaissance Italy. Each player takes on the role of one of the minor condottiere princes, such as the Gonzagas or d'Estes. Then there are the big five major cities, Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome, and Naples. These are not controlled by individual players but players will gain 'interests' in them as the game progresses. Each city has six tiles, most of which represent a famous character such as Lucrezia Borgia or Lorenzo Medici. Each tile has its own special properties which are linked to the character on the tile. Thus Cesare Borgia will help you to become more treacherous, while a Venetian merchant will increase your income. These tiles are also worth victory points, depending on the status of the city at the end of the game.

A city's status will change as a result of war. When two cities fight they will each need a condottiere to fight for them. Players bid, using influence points, to decide who will represent each city. The outcome of the war will depend on a little luck and the size of each player's army. Each player also gets paid for fighting, no matter what the outcome of the war is. Thus players can turn influence into gold, which in turn can be used to buy more City tiles.

No game on the Italian Renaissance would be complete with an element of treachery. Players can be openly treacherous by buying Treachery tiles, which will allow them to do nasty things like steal influence, bribe troops, or knock players out of an auction. However, the game allows players to be devious in other ways, that still remain legal. Making sure that a war goes the way you want it to is an important part of the game, and it is not always the player with the best army that ends up fighting. Want a city to lose, well become Condottiere for them and make sure you have a really bad army, or use Treachery tiles to bribe your own troops not to fight. At some point some player will become the Pope, which means they can form a Holy League, (i.e. join one side in a battle). Want to make sure the Pope is on the 'right' side, well why not bribe him. What player negotiate over is up to them. The game does not force negotiation and works perfectly well without it but it remains an avenue for players to explore.
Orginally I was going to give this game a 10 but then I found out that we were playing it wrong the proper way is actually better so I should probably give it a 11. This is the first game that may be on par with Puerto Rico. Our post game discussion was intensive. Thats always a good sign.
 
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11. Board Game: Samurai [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:171]
Craig Viau
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Another of the Reiner Knizia 'tile trilogy,' this game is ostensibly set in medieval Japan. Players use hexagonal tiles to surround cities, which have one to three different figures: rice paddies, buddhas, or high hats. The tiles represent influence on particular facets of the cities, and the highest influence on a figure when the city is surrounded takes that figure. The object of the game is to have more of any one else in one category, and then have the most remaining figures.

You might call this an abstract strategy game but it involves placement rather than movement. It is a very good one. Does the name Reiner Knizia mean anything.
 
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12. Board Game: Tikal [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:217]
Craig Viau
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Tikal is a game of exploration within the Central American jungles in search of lost temples and the treasures within. Players send their team of explorers into the jungle, exposing more and more of the terrain. Along the way you find temples which require further uncovering and treasures. Players attempt to score points for occupying temples and holding onto treasure.
There is some downtime which can be kept to a minimum by encouraging fast play. There is also a reasonable element of luck but regardless of what you pull for tiles you can have a lot of fun strategizing both your placement and movement. I really enjoy this game. It has some good decisions to make. Optimizing your points each turn is not as important as overall positioning.
 
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13. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:306]
Craig Viau
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There are twelve turns with an auction for up to six different prizes each turn. Players use cards to bid for the various prizes. The trick is when you take a turn and you've got the highest bid on a prize, you can either spend more cards to try for other things or simply take your winnings and walk away. The prizes are mostly positions on the board and players get more points for connecting provinces on the map. But as becoming typical for Herr Knizia, there are several other ways of scoring points in this game. After the final area on the board is auctioned, the player with the highest point total takes the game.

The group I play with loves this game and that may have infuenced my rating. Still, in my opinion this is a great game. There are several paths to victory and they change in importance depending on how many players there are. There are a few obvious but many subtle strategies. I've played a number of times and am still learning. The game involves card management, some bluffing, fun threats and intimidation. You need to plan ahead strategically while having sound tactics on each turn.
 
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14. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:312]
Craig Viau
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War and chaos are engulfing the lands of Westeros. The great Houses are vying for control of the Iron Throne using the old tools of intrique and war. Yet while the war for Westeros rages, grave dangers gather in the cold North, and an ancient enemy is gaining momentum in the distant East.

In A Game of Thrones the board game, players take control of one of the great Houses of Westeros. Via resource management, diplomacy, and cunning, they seek to win dominance over the land. Players must give orders to armies, control important characters, gather resources for the coming winter, and survive the onslaught of their enemies. A unique phase mechanic, battle resolution, and special ordering system make for an engaging game in which all players are actively involved at all times.

This game has many innovative ideas and an excellent combat system. There is much to like, however I agree with many others that the navy is to strong. But the rest is so good I'm giving the game an 8
 
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15. Board Game: Torres [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:401]
Craig Viau
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Torres is an abstract game of resource management and tactical pawn movement. Players are attempting to build up castles and position their knights to score the most points each turn. Players have a limited supply of knights and action cards which allow special actions to be taken. Efficient use of pieces and cards, along with a thoughtful awareness of future possibilites is the heart of this game.

This is a very deep game in my opinion. I've only played a couple of times but WOW. If you don't get surprised numerous times in a game then your not with a very creative group. This game has an incredible array of possible moves to make. This one should stay fresh and enjoyable for a long time.

 
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16. Board Game: Mexica [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:513]
Craig Viau
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The third in the Tikal/Java series, Mexica shares it's action point system with them.

Mexica plots the development of the city of the same name on an island in lake Texcoco. Players attempt to partition it into districts, place buildings and construct canals.

Districts are formed by completely surrounding areas of the island with water and then placing a District marker. The player who founds a district scores points immediately.

Canals and Lake Texcoco act as a quick method of moving throughout the city. Players erect bridges and moving from one bridge to the next costs 1 action point regardless of the distance. They must also erecting buildings. This costs action points, the exact number being dependent upon the buildings size.

In the scoring phases of the game, players score points
(El Grande style) based upon their dominance in a District. In the 4 player game players with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd most buildings score decreasing numbers of points.

Only districts are scored in the first scoring round.

In the second scoring round at the end of the game, all land areas are scored, not just districts.

I think this is a great game. It has some elements of Java and Tikal but is better. It also has some elements of Tycoon. I think highly of all those games. This is the best of the bunch. As I mentioned with Tikal/Java I think these games are not overly long at all. We played a three player game and to me every players move was interesting. The moves took very little time except the odd one. We don't allow people to calculate the score before making there move. This was our first game and with learning the rules we came in at about 2 hrs. I'd expect that to easily improve.
 
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17. Board Game: Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:506]
Craig Viau
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Raja is a clever strategic boardgame for two to five players. During the game the players take different roles and travel from city to city in India. Their architects build palaces and houses for the maharadja. Of course, building a palace is expensive. Therefore it is important to earn enough money in the cities.

The first player who builds seven palaces is the winner.

Besides the basic game the rules booklet contains two advanced versions for players who seek even more depth in their game play.
 
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18. Board Game: Genoa [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:497]
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In Traders of Genoa, players take the part of Renaissance traders, moving about the city acquiring goods and filling orders for goods. Messages need to be delivered and privileges obtained. Of course none of this can be accomplished on one's own. Much negotiation and deal-making is the order of the day in an effort to become the richest deal-maker in Genoa.

This is a excellent trading and bartering game. There are numerous well balanced ways to make money or should I say ways to win. I really enjoyed the flavor of this game. I haven't played this one a lot yet but I thought it was very well designed and required good strategy from start to finish.
 
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19. Board Game: La Città [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:553]
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Set in the Italian country side, this game features various city-states vying for population. Each player is given two cities to start with, and is charged with expanding the different aspects of the cities to attract larger populations. Players build farms to feed their people, quarries to finance their expansions, marketplaces to allow growth in their cities, and bath houses to keep their people clean and healthy. Additionally, structures can be built which give the city influence in one of three categories. Superiority in one these categories will cause population to shift from other nearby cities when the Voice of the People is decided at the end of each turn. At the end of six turns, the player with the most victory points, which are determined from well-rounded cities, well-fed populations and overall size of population, will be the winner.

Wonderful city building game unlike anything I've seen. Good short term tactics and long range strategies. Probably in my top 10. This blows away Metropolis or Big City.
 
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20. Board Game: Through the Desert [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:435]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Originally published by Kosmos as "Durch die Wüste," Through the Desert is part of Knizia's increasingly misnamed "tile laying trilogy" and was nominated for the 1998 Spiel des Jahres award. Each player atempts to score the most points by snaking caravan routes through the desert, trying to reach oases and blocking off sections of the desert. The game owes quite a lot to Go, but isn't nearly as difficult as that ancient abstract strategy game can be. Fantasy Flight will be 'breaking' into the German game market with this unique offering, which is quite a departure from their standard faire like Battlemist and Twilight Imperium.
 
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21. Board Game: Java [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:719]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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The new Kramer-Kiesling game (the guys who did Tikal and Torres), which feels decidedly like a sequel to both. Artistically extremely similar to Tikal, with elements of the tower building of Torres and the action points common to both. Still a little slow, although the Festival card play gives you something (albeit not much) to do during other player's turns. If you liked Tikal, this is probably a pretty good bet (and it's every bit as attractive).
Finally got this on the table. Well worth it. Yes it is somewhat similar to Tikal but not nearly as similar as the settlers versions are to each other. So on its own its still a good game. The turns don't take too long unless you allow people to take all the time they want. I'm really not sure why Tikal and Java have been dogged with this label as being slow. You can easily get your turn done in 30 seconds so even in a four player game it would be no more than a few minutes till your turn. Further to that what the other players are doing is still important to you and interesting. Also you can certainly start analysing your situation before the player on your right is finished.
 
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22. Board Game: In the Shadow of the Emperor [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:838]
Charles F.
Germany
Berlin
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A successful portrayal of dynastic politics of the Holy Roman Empire in the late Middle Ages. Basically no luck. Incredibly elegant and astonishingly balanced. A Game every gamer owes himself to have played.
 
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23. Board Game: Stephenson's Rocket [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1021]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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In an surprisingly thematic offering, Herr Knizia expands his fleet of tile laying games with this game about colliding railroads in early 1800's England. There are seven different rail companies that players can expand. Each time you extend a rail, the other stockholders can veto your action, but it might cost them their shares. When two companies' rail touch, the railways merge to become one. The game is over when only one company remains or there are no rail tiles remaining, and the winner is the player who earned the most money over the course of the game.

Another game that I have only played once (it deserves much more). I was very impressed by the depth of strategy. It was also very cuthroat which I like. Even though I like railroad games I don't think I'm overating it. I really feel it deserves a nine. The reason I have only played a lot of my games once is I have only recently gotten back into the hobby and I have bought about 200 games in the last 2 years so its hard to keep up.
 
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24. Board Game: Volldampf [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:2208]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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In early 20th century Germany players are competing to build efficient rail networks to carry goods. But this costs a lot of money, so borrowing is heavy. Players have to be careful to borrow only as much as they need to bid for turn order, lay track, and move goods. At the end of each turn dividends (interest) on the bonds come due. Those who can't pay lose some of their hard-earned victory points.
I do love railroad games but I'm only seriously recommending 3. This one has a great economic system, tense bidding, very strategic track placement and a great cargo delivery system all in a very tight design. Easily playable in 1 to 1.5 hours. There is also room for negotiations if you allow table talk.
 
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25. Board Game: Clans [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1136]
Craig Viau
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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The game is set in late prehistory, a time of transition – when our distant ancestors, who had struggled and barely survived for ages in very small nomadic groups, began to feel that their lives would be more secure and less arduous if they formed larger groups. This led to the formation of the first villages.


 
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