My 2 yr old game collection: MY TOP GAMES TO DATE!
em m
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This is my first geeklist ever and my 2 year anniversary since joining BGG. Since I love reading geeklists so much, I decided to create my own!

And I'm still addicted to reading up on BGG a regular basis, especially with a big cup of home brewed coffee on the Sunday morning. Ah, delightful!

Games To Date: 52 and growing...

To date, I personally own 52 board games, card games, expansions, and mini-expansions. My boyfriend has his own BGG account that he does not update (maybe I'll take it upon myself and do it for him) - he has just about as many games. We've both discovered the wonderful world of board gaming together, although his BGG account is older... he was the geek first!

Board Game Friendly Furniture: Extra deep bookshelves and square dining table!?!?

Our collection of board games occupies a really nice IKEA bookshelf that was specifically purchased to accommodate the size of Railroad Tycoon and opaque glass doors to hide the geekiness from visitors. Yeah, my bf measured it up and everything - our requirement was a bookshelf that was greater than 16 inches deep, which is a challenge in the world of affordable bookshelves!

Oh yeah, the gaming, err, dining table was also carefully selected to support board game playing. Unfortunately, the table size needed to comfortably play Railroad Tycoon was too much for the condo - instead, we decided on a square table that would fits Settlers of Catan and all the cards and pieces.

The Games Themselves: Which ones are favourites?

My collection of games is full of ones that I've hardly played or haven't at all. But what about the games that I've played? Which ones are my holy grails (HG)? Which ones have stood the test of up to 2 years and are still favorites for me?

Note: Somehow, some of my games didn't get logged properly, it must have been back in the day when I tried to add a game played and a game rating at the same time...

Summary: Bring on more symbols and icons!

I generally gravitate towards well designed games, especially ones that provide little helpful icons/symbols or text on cards and board elements. I really don't want to muse over the rulebook once the game gets started. Sure, if I have a question about the finer points of game play, the rulebook is the place to go.

Otherwise, I want all the information presented in front of me. Give me a small board that shows me player actions or phases! Give me a quick set up sheet to get started! Put some text or icons on a card to show what the thing does! I really appreciate the player aids on BGG... but what I really want is more icons, symbols, and text in board games.

My list include 2-player, 3-4 player, and 5-6 player games for heavy gamers and new gamers. And these are really and truly my HG of games...
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1. Board Game: Shogun [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:127]
em m
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First Impressions: Totally blown away

I have granola-loving, pacifist tendencies, but I love every minute of Shogun. My favorite aspect of Shogun is that there is little downtime between player turns since each player commits to a set of actions before the Spring, Summer, or Fall round starts. Each player decides their strategy on a player mat (by placing region cards in an action space, such as attack, collect rice, or muster more armies). When the round starts, the actions are revealed.

There is very little analysis paralysis during the round, since most of the decisions are already made - it's just a matter of executing the actions. This game play is particularly good for me because I have been known to suffer from a mild case of analysis paralysis. Sure, it does take time to set up the mat, but everyone is doing it at the same time.

First Few Games: The comedy and tragedy of the tower

What do I think about the tower? To be frank, I've had extremely bad luck in some games with that thing. However, having said that, I like the tower... a lot. Going to battle, I know there is always that random factor that should be accounted for. I sometimes like my board games to have an element of weighted luck (i.e. not totally random, but based on probability) to keep it from being dry, dull, and calculated.

Game to Date: One of my favorite 5-6 player games for heavy gamers!

Shogun has become my all-time favorite game with the right conditions, a few hours to spare and 5-6 heavy gamers! It tops Antike since it's more war-like, less civilizations-like, but that is a matter of preference only. Sometimes, I feel like WAR and other times, CIV!

Here is Silverbeard's session report, which was my first game of Shogun ever! http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/167265
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2. Board Game: Antike [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:560]
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First Impressions: Out of the box, a disastrous mess!

I'm extremely disappointed that Rio Grande didn't add a nice plastic insert to organize the "over 400 wooden pieces". (I didn't count, but that was the marketing copy on the box.) I mean, the game was around $65 CDN at this over-priced, dusty game store. Bah, and I know that I could've gotten it cheaper online too.

I don't know why all of a sudden I'm become so superficial in my demands for pretty plastic inserts in my game boxes. But it's a real downer for me to see a mess of pieces all jumbled together. Must be something psychological or something, this desire to organize all the game pieces into nice little compartments... And the box always puffs open on the board game shelf... So entirely superficial...

First Few Games: The importance of iconic information

Antike is worth every penny I paid for it! What Antike lacks in game box organization, it definitely makes up for it in board game design - all the important information is displayed on the board, player cards, and player aids. Once we got the game rolling, it was easy to figure out what actions can be taken. This readily available, easily digestible information is a godsend - I hate having to look up rules, play order, and all that junk in the rulebook when a few colorful symbols will do the job.

With Antike, I started to get more comfortable with civilizations and war type games - it really whet my appetite.

The Game to Date: One of my favorite 5-6 player games for heavy gamers!

Antike has become one of my favorite 5-6 player games, up there with Shogun. It is a solid game with plenty of player interaction and just enough euro-mechanics to keep me interested. With 4+ hours and 6 heavy gamers, I'll be voting for Antike or Shogun on game night.
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3. Board Game: Samurai [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:172]
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First Impressions: Chess-like fun in a pretty package

Samurai is my first Knizia game and I throughly enjoyed the game mechanics and design. It's a short, quick, simple game with a subtle strategy. Yet, the moves can be complex and thought-provoking with a chess-like quality.

One of my favourite elements is the game end trigger - the game ends when the last figure of any type is removed from the board, or when the 4th figure is placed beside the board due to a tie. So, if you think you're in the lead, you can force the game to end.

Now, there are 3 types of figures on the game board: high helmets, rice fields, and buddhas. If you get the most figures of 2-3 types at the game end, you win. If this is not the case, the end scoring is complicated.

First Few Games: Scoring ties is nonsensical!

The biggest issue I have is that the rule book doesn't properly explain (to newbies anyway) how the winner is determined. I had to check out BGG for clarification - and even now that I understand, it's not entirely intuitive.

My bf has several issues with the game. He strongly dislikes the end scoring, particularly since your strategy is fairly limited and predetermined by the 5 face up tiles hidden behind your player screen. He feels that because you don't have much choice over which particular figure to go for (that you can possibly win), the end scoring shouldn't be tied to getting the most figure types only (with no value associated to the number of figures). His suggestion is that there should be a point system - something like: score 3 pts for each figure that you have the most of (compared to your other pieces), score 2 pts for the second most, and 1 pt for the third.

Game to Date: The best 3-4 player game and a Knizia too!

It's hard to find a game that'll do well with 3-4 players, and Samurai fits the bill perfectly. This is the most requested game in my collection.
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4. Board Game: Alhambra [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:393]
em m
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First Impressions: All-round solid and intuitive

The rules are easy to learn and it's intuitive to play. As a card based, tile laying game, Alhambra is the game I want to bring to the table with new gamer friends.

First Few Games: What the heck is the problem with games scoring ties?

However, the point scoring for ties is overly complicated. During the first scoring round, each type of building is scored for the player with the most buildings (of that type). During the scoring round, if there is a tie, then the points are divided among contesting players (rounded down, if necessary). That part is fine.

The rules are not clear on how to score points if 2 players tie for first place and there are points available for a 2nd or 3rd place finishing. Here's how it's supposed to be handled, according to BGG:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/88797
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/32222

I'd prefer that tie scoring is handled like El Grande - if 2 players are tied for first, then the points are split, and then the next placed player gets the points for third place (if applicable).

Game to Date: So enjoyable to play, I got an expansion!

I haven't played Alhambra for a while and I want to get in a few more games in soon. I recently got Expansion #2 (The City Gates) and I want to give that a try.
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5. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
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First Impresions: Discovering Knizia again

So, I actually think that Tigris & Euphrates is very much like Samurai, only T&E is more complex and interactive. I can see myself pleasantly enjoying back-to-back games of Samurai and T&E - just need one more strong Knizia game to make it a trio!

I do find the scoring logic to be much less confusing in T&E, where each player's single lowest number of cubes out of 4 types counts as the end game scoring. The highest amount of the lowest number of cubes is the winner - if there is a tie, then the second lowest number of cubes are compared (with the higher amount going to the winner).

Game to Date: Best first impressions for a game!

I haven't actually played T&E that much, but I remember being highly impressed with it. I want to get more games of this in so that I can come up with a quirky assessment of how it's good for something.

You may ask, why even include this on my list? I just found T&E to be instantly fantastic, showing lots of promise for repeated plays. Yeah, Power Grid and Caylus are great, but neither showed immediate promise for untold glory for me.
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6. Board Game: China [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:628]
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First impressions: A candidate for a deluxe version

I can totally see why China is totted as the classic area majority game that's relatively short (45-60 min), easy-to-play, with simple yet elegant mechanics.

I love the 2-sided board - 1 one side for 3-4 players and the other side for 4-5 players. In fact, I think more games should have 2-sided boards geared for number of players or complexity.

I only wish that the production value was higher on China - I for one would definitely pay extra for a deluxe version of this game. As it stands, China has a flimsy game box and board, a cheapie cardboard section to hold the pieces, and cards that will deteriorate rapidly with use, ugh! Pluses include nice wooden pieces and fairly good rules.

First few games: First player disadvantage?

So far, the only issue with China is that the first player is at a huge disadvantage, and maybe even the second player. In a round, you can place 1-2 pieces in a region per turn, but only if 1 house already exists in that region. So, someone has to be the player to add the first house in a region - after that, any player can add 1-2 houses. To maximize the number of pieces you can play on the board, you'd want to place 2 pieces per turn instead of only 1.

For example, in a 4 player game, the first player must "open" a region by playing a house. The second player can add 1-2 houses to that same region, or, if that player doesn't have to right card combo, they must "open" a new region. The third player now has 2 regions that they can add 1-2 houses to, but if they cannot, they must "open" another region. The fourth player in the round has the greatest likelihood of being able to place 2-pieces, since multiple regions are "open" for this. Now, I can that the best move for the first player is to "open" a small region, thus minimizing the point scoring for the other players. Anyhow, I'm not sure how much this first player disadvantage affects the end result of the game, but it does have a noticeable affect on the first round of play. Still, a minor complaint only, which doesn't really factor into my level of enjoyment.

The game to date: The best introduction to area-control games, ever!


China is a fantastic introduction to area-control games - it's not the beast that is Shogun or Antike, but it'll be perfect for my new gamer friends who are looking for simpler play and a game that is around the 1 hour mark.
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7. Board Game: Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:389]
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First Impressions: Regular Carcassonne vs. Hunters and Gatherers

I rated H&G higher than regular Carcassonne mostly based on the hunters scoring mechanism, which is easier to score than farmers. If your opponent has a meeple down in a field with scoring animals, you can "take out" an animal by adding a tile with a tiger to that field. H&G provides opponents with the ability to directly affect the hunter's playing area.

In regular Carcassonne, I find that the farmer scoring system is awkward to score. Farmers can score adjacent cities even from the "other side" of it, so you have to track everything carefully. This can get confusing if the fields are large and the farmers/cities are numerous.

First few games: Scales well and goes good with beer!

H&G scales extremely well. I've always enjoyed it as a 2-player game with a bottle of cold beer. I've also played it with 5 players (inc. 3 new non-gamers). It's so easy to teach and everyone "figured it out" fairly quickly. We added a variant rule to minimize downtime though - everyone picked up their tile after placement so that they could think about their next move while others were taking their turn.

The other random thought is to modify the rules for H&G so that if there is a tie, then the score is split (vs. each player gets full points)... and maybe add the big meeples to the game to create more competition.

The Game to Date: A classic gateway game for multiple players

I haven't played H&G for a long time... however, if I need to bring a game over to a house of non-gamers who like card games, I'd bring this one. My bf and I did just this - we took H&G and Settlers of Catan, and H&G hit it off big time while SoC had a partially interested crowd that ended up coming and going at the game table.

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8. Board Game: Guillotine [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1001]
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First Impressions: Something fun for everyone

I've been on a crusade lately to find the perfect filler game that is friendly to new gamers. Guillotine is a sweet, simple, seemingly brainless filler game with funny cards that invoke player camaraderie as we poke fun at each other...

And it's pretty short for a filler game too! My crusade has brought me to the land of the Killer Bunnies, Munchkins, Bohnanza, My Dwarves Fly, Felix the Cat in the Sack, and a myriad of others - all are reasonably okay, but somewhat longer than I'd like. Anything over 45 minutes cuts into regular length board gaming time!

A Few Games: Will it get boring?

Will I get bored of it in the future? Hard to say, we shall see! For now, I've been racking up quite a few quickies.

Game to date: A short, fun filler game while waiting for bf to finish programming his HTC

Okay, waiting for someone to get to the table? Figure it'll take 15-20 minutes or so? Then Guillotine will do, and do it well!
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9. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
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First Impressions: Marathon gaming at it's best

The perennial game - a classic. My game group played countless games over the years, before we even heard of BGG. We've had marathon gaming nights lasting until dawn. We even keep a game log (complete with questions/answers to complex game situations and a list of winners).

First Few Games: Highly addictive

Even though SoC is a dice game with a med-high luck factor, my group believes that you can effectively strategize and change tactics depending on what's rolled and what resources people have. Why build a settlement on the 8 or 9 when the 10 or 11 is hot? What do you do when 3 is rolled 3 times in a row and the 6 hasn't been rolled all game? Where's the best place to put the robber, on a hot number or a more likely number?

You could play with the Event Cards instead of dice, but here is what I think: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/172469

The player interaction level is fairly high too. Screw someone too early in the game, you have an enemy working against you. If you take the lead too early, you're a marked player. We love to talk during trades too (look, my sheep is better!). And perish the thought of trading someone with 7+ points, you'll be heckled for the rest of the game. Oh look, so-and-so has all those development cards, must be victory points, they are in the lead! Hours of fun!

The Settlers Empire: Thoroughly enjoyed all expansions, but rated base model as the best

I rate plain SoC higher than the expansions because it's fast-paced and easy, and we can get in multiple games in a night. Also, SoC games are typically close games where everyone has an active role. Even if it's a blowout, it's usually quick and painless.

Game to Date: The most plays by far!

Truth be told, I haven't played Settlers of Catan for a very long time. But I keep this on my list of top games to date for nostalgia purposes. I've never come close to playing any game as much as I have played SoC. If you have non-gamers at gaming night, bring this one along. If you are visiting friends and nobody is mentally prepared for gaming, bring Carcassone: H&G.
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10. Thing: N/A
em m
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I don't have strong enough feelings for another game - for now, no game 10 until I get a few more games until my belt!

** UPDATE **

Possible contenders include:

- Yspahan
- Saint Petersburg
- Hey That's My Fish
- Tikal (NEW)
- Traders of Genoa (NEW)
- Great Wall of China (NEW)
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