Little known gems
Brad Hurst
United States
Gastonia
North Carolina
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I'd like to see this list grow with peoples suggestions for games here at BGG that you consider to be an overlooked gem. One game per BGG member please, but add a game that you really like to play and feel is significantly underrated or not as well known as it should be.

I'll leave it open to interpretation, but I would suggest your game choice be one which is rated far below your expectation, or doesn't have nearly the number of people giving it ratings (which may suggest it isn't well known).

Any category of game is okay.

I'm hoping to learn some new games to try out from this list which have merit based on your suggestion, so please be honest and don't put something on here downright silly
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1. Board Game: Battle Cry of Freedom [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:7737]
Brad Hurst
United States
Gastonia
North Carolina
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Battle Cry of Freedom. This game is an oddity because it sits somewhere between a wargame and collectible card game. I've written a review of it so won't go into detail here, but it is very clearly a wargame once you get into it, but there is lacking the usual features of a wargame in the classic sense(dice, maps, little counters). Gameplay _feels_ like a CCG because you do 'tap' leaders to play some cards during battle and cards interact at times to create effects that outweigh single cards alone if you can set up combos, but there isn't a collectible component to this one at all.

If you can get through the rulebook and digest it, and if you can figure out the meaning of a few ambiguously worded cards via consimworld discussion group, you'll find a very fine game here with many tense choices.

If you find this one for markdown price somewhere, I wouldn't hesitate to tell you to grab it, especially if you are into light wargames or have an interest in history. I'm lukewarm as to how a Eurogamer would find this game, but would suspect they might find some of the decision making interesting, but the playtime would be much too long for their liking.

The full campaign game with moderately experienced players would be about 2.5 hours. This is a two player game.
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2. Board Game: Racetrack [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:6035]
Sheamus Parkes
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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More people need to play vector racing goodness. I just really enjoy how fun, realistic and simple the system is.

I've even purchased a couple Bolide tracks just to do vector racing on.

If you want to try it out, here's a great Java app to give you the idea:

http://www.vectorracer.net/
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3. Board Game: UR [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2232]
Pete Hornburg
United States
Portland
Oregon
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This game in general has a intricate little mechanism going here. Tiles relate to other tiles relating to opponents means this game has the capability to run like a swiss watch...if only your opponents weren't f***ing with you at the same time!

This game seems a little confusing at first. I attribute that to it being really unique.

I highly, highly recommend getting a couple games in of this before you consider writing it off. It is very unusual gameplay, unlike anything else I've played.

Edit: Make sure, make sure, make sure you have the errata printed out about how War works (or just download the rules here)-the instructions included in the box are missing critical information.
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4. Board Game: Viktory II [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:2670]
Andrew Tullsen
United States
VANCOUVER
WA
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Well, I find myself adding this to more and more recommendations lists. I find it's a great game.
The hex map with the individual hexes makes for great replayablility.
The pieces are really nice.
The play is fast and fun.
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5. Board Game: It's Alive! [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2612]
W M
United Kingdom
Rugby
Warwickshire
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A great set collection game with a nice auction mechanic and which rewards strategic play.

This oozes theme and works well with non-gamers. Small print run by a fledgling game company so little known - get it while you can.
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6. Board Game: Ubongo [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:825]
Jae
United States
Bryan
TX
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While it is rated 255 and has almost a thousand owners (around 700), this may not be that little known, but it really is a terrific game.

I cannot help but evangelize for this "hidden" gem. Everyone who I've shown it to has loved it, even my mom and wife, both VERY hard sells.

I honestly believe this game deserves to be in the top 50 if not the top 20 (I personally would put it in the top 10, but I realise some games are not for everyone).
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7. Board Game: Wordsearch [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:6738]
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
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I'll add this one, which has only 40 ratings. This is my favorite medium-length word game, which combines typical word game qualities with spatial reasoning a little bit like Ricochet Robot.

More details in my review here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/156448
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8. Board Game: Die Dolmengötter [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:3082]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Now this title is something I wish I saw a lot more often than I do now. It is a luckless majority game with a very clever twist: others must help you ere you can capitalise on your majority. Which they won't do unless you aid them elsewhere. If you are too selfish, you are subtly locked out. If you are yoo generous, you deteriorate your own position without being able to recuperate. A very insidious twist is that the game is really composed of many interlocking little majority struggles which all influence each other even if they are not close to one another. It's reminds me of the regional power struggles and the ebb and flow of give and take found in Go or Through the Desert too.

Even after +/- 15 games or so I'm still learning surprising new nuances, like for example the power of walking away at the cost of one VP---normally you'd have to leave a stone which contributes to the majority thing. It plays like greased lightning too; usually a game is over in 30 minutes or so. And in that time, it packs a lot of subtle punch!
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9. Board Game: Ivanhoe [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1670]
Paul Glenn
United States
Wheaton
Maryland
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For me, this is one of Knizia's best games. It's fast-moving, tense, and has a very cool balancing mechanism. This game should be far better rated.
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10. Board Game: Mythos [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:2353]
Eric Johnson
United States
Rohnert Park
California
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The Lovecraftian atmosphere of this game, as well as its fabulous art, is what appeals to me most about this game. The "make your own adventure" feature also offers lots of fun. If you like Lovecraft's writing, get this game.
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11. Board Game: Tongiaki: Journey into the Unknown [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:2187]
Greg Jones
United States
Washington
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Normally I don't add to these kinds of lists because the fact that I like something and it's low rated doesn't make it underrated. However, now that we have the player count poll, I think I have evidence that this game is underrated.

The poll says it's best with 4, and says 2 is not even recommended, which I think is the best.

With two players, this is a great game of carefully planned moves. You can't proceed directly toward your goal, because placing the next to last piece on a beach puts decisions in your opponent's hands, and that's usually not in your interest. Instead, you usually have to create opportunities for you to launch a beach that don't allow your opponent to launch it.

The ultimate goal in a two-player game is to be alone on an island. Not only is it the only way to get an advantage on your opponent in score, but it often gives you excellent strategic power.

Another fascinating aspect of this game is how it often achieves equilibrium in at least part of the board. Legal moves exist to upset the balance, but they would be disadvantageous for either player. I compare this to Go, where eventually players concede areas of the board. They could play in them, but they know it's futile. Another Go-like quality is how you're sometimes back and forth with your opponent, responding to threats in one part of the board. Eventually, you get a break or it gets resolved, and you shift the focus to a different area of the board.

In contrast, I've played with six players. It's simply chaos. Your boats will be across the board before your next turn. The game will be over fast, as it seems like the best move is to try to explore as much as possible. The strategy is just to play the probabilities. Take some other players along with you, because then you can navigate more dangerous routes, but not too many, so that you gain an advantage.

I can imagine that players who've tried with 4, 5, or 6 players try it with 2, and the way they've been playing just doesn't work. It's just a different game with 2. Players conclude that it's just poorly designed for 2. After all, the 3- and 4-color routes are completely impassable! That's ok. Sinking boats is actually an important part of the game. It's totally ok that many of the water routes are impassable, when half the time, you discover an island without having to pass through any water.

I will admit there are some flaws. First turn advantage is pretty significant in 2-player. I've heard that might be offset by some variants, though I haven't tried them. However, worse is left-right binding with multiple players. With two experienced players and one inexperienced player, it's highly likely the player sitting to the left of the inexperienced player will win. I think this could be a very good game for three equally-skilled players, although I haven't played it that way very often. 3-player plays like a little bit of a cross between the expansionist, coopetition multi-player game and the confrontational power-struggle 2-player game.
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12. Board Game: Palastgeflüster [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1228]
Stefano Castelli
Italy
Rome
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I think I'll add this one. It is not that well known, but it is a very clever card game, cheap and with excellent graphics.
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13. Board Game: Ghost for Sale [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:7061]
Stefano Castelli
Italy
Rome
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And I HAVE to add this game.

One of the best auction games of the past years. Quite deep, excellent graphics, very replayable.

Too bad just 50 people own it here on BGG.

Try it.
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14. Board Game: Kahmaté [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:6906]
Miguel (working on TENNISmind...)
France
Caen
(from Valencia, Spain)
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My latest game: Big*Bang, a simple abstract about the first minutes of the Universe
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My best-rated game: TETRARCHIA, about the tetrarchy that saved Rome
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This one is very little known. It is a self-edited French game, where 2 teams of 6 players face on a rugby field, a square grid of 11x8. There is no dice, just 6 strength cards (from 1 to 6) for each team, and each player has a slightly different bonus (+1 movement, +-X to the card played, etc).

With so few rules you have something that plays a lot like rugby and, most importantly, is fun! I would say it is a mixture of Crash Tackle Rugby Board Game and StreetSoccer, but taking the best of each. When I'm in the mood for a fast rugby match (from 15 min to whatever, if you keep playing after the 1st try), this one gets to the table.
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15. Board Game: Search for the Emperor's Treasure [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:4373]
N/A
This long-lost adventure game had many mechanics still missing from today's adventure boardgames:

* Encounters are drawn from a bag. If the encounter doesn't match your terrain, you may play it on another player. The encounter difficulty was keyed to terrain. In one simple swoop, this mechanic not only allowed players to choose the difficulty of their encounter, but also increased player interaction.

* Like Talisman, not all encounters were monsters. Some were quests, a fantasy trope missing in many of today's adventure boardgames.

* The game had flavorful spells, not just magical damage: Lightning Bolt, Fireball, Familiar, Stone Wall, Stinking Cloud, Heal, Charm Person, Charm Animal, etc.

* The game had ranged combat rules that functioned like ranged combat in traditional roleplaying games. You and your opponent rolled a die. The difference was the number of turns of ranged combat (ie. how far away your opponent was) before close combat began.

* Another player chose your opponent's actions -- including running away. Since you had to kill your opposing encounter to gain experience from it, and most creatures had multiple life points, as an opponent, you tried to do the most damage as possible -- then run away!
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16. Board Game: The Last of the Independents [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:8734]
eric hogan
United States
Salem
Oregon
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This is a must for classic car enthusiasts!
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17. Board Game: Good Help [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:12528]
jack constance
United States
California
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Funny theme.
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18. Board Game: Rapa Nui [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1918]
Hardy
Germany
Münster
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The game is by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, who, after Carcassonne, mostly published flops. This was also one, commercially.
It has never been published (like most other Kosmos games os this box size series) outside Germany, and is oop already (after just 1,5 years) and will get no reprint by Kosmos.

Yet:
This is nothing less than one of the best, outstanding short games (under 1h) of the last few years!
Imho this is, together with Targi, the best game Kosmos ever published in that small square box.

It's highly original, with new mechanics, that will be interesting&new even to hardcore gamers.
With very simple means - there's only 5 types of cards (and no special cards/special functions) - it manages to create a very interesting, really tricky (this is not as light as it may seem at first glance) game, with a unique gameplay and very interesting choices. And it even gets better after a few more plays!
The theme is also well implemented for a card game.

I played this with 3 different groups on the table so far (and several playes on Yucata), and in every group (2 gamer groups, one friends/casual gamers group), after the first play, it was demandend it play it again immediately.
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