Michael Barnes has returned to BGG! As JC Clearclaw!!

Eugene
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Rabble-rouser, thorn-in-Aldie's-ass, and BANNED FROM BGG FOREVER ex-user Michael Barnes has re-infiltrated our happy community. A careful investigation of game ratings and comments of these two user accounts has revealed that he is now, in a complete turnaround from his previous spitfire persona, taking the guise of the stolid and unexcitable JC "Clearclaw" Lawrence. This devious attempt to sour our spirits by disparaging our most well-loved games is once again in full force.

Don't be swayed by JC Clearclaw's measured tones and crystal clear logic! He and Michael Barnes are one and the same! The ratings and comments prove it!


Update: Octavian has now informed me that this geeklist has been removed from front page view as a result of enough users flagging it as a violation. For JC's take on the matter see:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/449283
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1. Board Game: Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:184]

Eugene
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4 - Completely mediocre on every level. I'd really like to play the game that Mr. Drover designed before he yanked out all of the interesting parts to make this one a "Euro-style" (according to the box) game.

JC
3 - From a German game design vantage this has the core of an extremely good game wrapped centred on the inefficient translation of multiple currencies, but it has been run away from and hidden with extraneous and distracting crap. The central good game has now been fairly thoroughly lost.
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2. Board Game: BANG! [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1192]

Eugene
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2 - Worthless. I had high hopes for this as a fun, multiplayer card game but it's so pointless and simple-minded that it just wasn't any fun at all.

JC
2.5 - Mostly a non-game exercise in endurance and frustration that seems to promote emergent story telling. The stories are nice, the player exclusion isn't, the lack of game design quality is a big problem.
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3. Board Game: Blue Moon City [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:594]

Eugene
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3 - This is another Knizia title that's worth about three solid plays and you've pretty much taken it to the extent that it can go. It's a cute system and it's his best in years, no doubt, but it's also as shallow, repetitive, and soulless as everything else he's done.

JC
3 - Draw random cards, try to filter them efficiently through your hand. There's a game here, sure, just not something to think much about. I've never seen a game end without every player just about to win. Blech. Further plays have done nothing but dim my view of the game.
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4. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:54]

Eugene
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3 - I think the game is pretty dry and boring despite some welcome nastiness and I think overall this is more of a flowchart than a game- seriously, it's all about who can exploit the procedural structure of the game more than anything else. I'm really surprised that the I-hate-luck crowd is digging this because in Caylus other players' actions have a much more detrimental effect on strategy on this than rolling a dice ever have- you can literally be put out of the game by fault of simply going after another player...Nothing new, nothing terribly exciting, and no action we haven't performed in a hundred other games this year alone...I'll likely never play this game again, and in 10 years you probably won't even remember its name.

JC
3 - It is clear why some people like Caylus. I however am not one of them.
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5. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:60]

Eugene
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3 - Dated, boring, completely unengaging, and suitable only for porky, bearded guys that enjoy micro-analyzing every move to optimize each turn. As far as area majority games go, there's much better out there, even if this is frankly an exquisitely designed system. It's like watching a beautifully made movie with outstanding technical merit that isn't interesting or fun at all.

JC
4 - More of an experience game than a competitive game due to lack of control, multi-player chaos, lack of look-ahead etc. Chaotic and almost entirely unpredictable past ~1 turn out. My rating suffers is primarily due to the fact that I simply don't enjoy the game much (I find the cards too random), and I far too rarely have or get opportunity to play with the more interesting expansions which remove the random factors.
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6. Board Game: Fluxx [Average Rating:5.68 Overall Rank:8206]

Eugene
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1 - Everything I hate about gaming rolled into one tiny package of hatred and damnation. Absolutely worthless, should appeal to hippies and lonely con-scum.

JC
2 - This is the mind killer...
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7. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:146]

Eugene
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4 - As I suspected, Goa just didn't hold up through time like it should. After many plays I feel like I'm "done" with it, and I don't particularly care to play again any time soon. It just doesn't move me to play again even though it's a very well done game. The strategies are just too repetitive over time, and I'm really tired of winning with my tried-and-true exploration card strategy

JC
4.5 - The expedition cards feel a bit too rich and far too random. The central square and flag mechanism is delightful, but breaks down increasingly as you move higher than 2 players. While first glance shows many routes to victory, I suspect that in fact there are really only two or three at core due to congestion on ships and money being rapidly depreciated due to diffusion among the other players (buying from the bank is an insufficient drain).
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8. Board Game: Dream Factory [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:667]

Eugene
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3 - A dull, routine auction game that wears out its welcome a quarter of the way through. The decisions are mostly obvious and the mechanics are reductions of things that Knizia used before. There's really no reason to play this unless you're just in love with the theme. I was, but it's just so damn dull, dated, and uninteresting.

JC
3 - Obvious (and weak) progenitor of Ra. The theme is far too distracting and divisive to tolerate.
 
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9. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:388]

Eugene
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4 - OK abstract that relies a little too heavily on luck and relatively tension-less gameplay for the first half. Has some interesting strategic situations that develop toward the end of the game. Not bad at all, very streamlined and simple but pretty pale compared to the GIPF titles.

JC
4 - A curious mix of luck-of-the-draw and tactical positional advantage. Not a bad game per se, but also one that not only doesn't grab me, but fails to suggest that it ever wanted to.
 
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10. Board Game: Java [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:879]

Eugene
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5 - Looks great and is at least worth a play or two, but is about as fun as a bag of sticks- yet another Euro optimization routine but this time compounded with action points so the AP crowd can really drive you insane. It's worth playing a couple of times but like most Euros it wears out its welcome and then it sits on the shelf waiting for the inevitable BGG trade offer to pop up in the Geekmail.

JC
5 - Interesting but unpleasantly tactical. The card bidding mechanism for festivals is also unattractive. Feels insufficiently developed.
 
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11. Board Game: Louis XIV [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:638]

Eugene
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2 - A big fat "so what" to this one. Sure, it's a smart design (most German games are)and the game has a great influence concentration versus dispersal mechanic but it's also completely redundant- you've played this game about a thousand times before. 10 years ago this might have been groundbreaking but now it just feels tired despite a good system. The game is just soulless, passionless, and isn't really any fun. It's really a shame, because it's very rich strategically despite an almost random scoring system. Overall, it's yet another German game worth playing once or twice and then forgetting. What a shame.

JC
3 - Typical Rudiger Dorn game: several currencies, player-localised and transitory values for items, partially hidden goals, luck of the draw. Nothing really horrible about the game except that it is driven by the cards you pull and is thus VERY tactical.
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12. Board Game: Oltre Mare [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1458]

Eugene
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3 - You know what this game is missing? FUN. This has got to be one of the most dull, lifeless games I've ever had the displeasure of playing. Indeed, there are some elements of Bohnanza but where that game used restrictive hand management to generate energy and a built-in trading impetus, this game throws on a bunch of elements that are basically meaningless abstractions (like the "pirate stack") and a more or less worthless board that has little to do with the actual game other than to track where the bonus chips are.

JC
3 - The multi-dimensional aspect of the vard values is distracting and makes judging card values unnecessarily hard and luck-based for a game which concentrates so heavily on the intersection of hand management with small (and variant) hand size limits. It makes the game much more random and luck-based than I'd prefer, especially for a game of this (admittedly modest) length and weight.
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13. Board Game: Palazzo [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1739]

Eugene
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3 - Yuck. More of the same Knizia stuff that people will do somersaults over trying to convince themselves how "brilliant" it all is...it's brief, inoffensive, and easy to play but why bother? This is a good game for someone who's never played any other Eurogames and/or hasn't played a good auction game like Ra.

JC
3 - A curiously charmless mix of luck, forward planning, and investment coordination that both adds complexity to Alhambra without adding any positive value to that equally mediocre game..
 
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14. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:399]

Eugene
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2 - One of my most hated games. Irritating to the extreme.

JC
2 - Randomness combined with more chaos just for the sake of it piled atop a theme to encourage more randomness from the overly testosteronal. Avoid. Run if necessary.
 
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15. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:263]

Eugene
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2 - I realized that St. Petersburg represents everything I _hate_ about European games- chiefly limited choices that deny the possibility of creative play, meaningless themes that have a tenuous-at-best connection to the mechanics, and lack of replayability engendered by repetitive strategies.

JC
2 - Unenjoyable. It is a collecting game with very minimal forms of interaction, heavy front loading of the economic system built into an economic snowball game, and a great lack of either charm or grace. Avoid. No thanks. Not interested. Clearly a member of the "I'd rather go home alone in the dark than play this game again" set.
 
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16. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:371]

Eugene
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3 - Just another rummy-derived set collection card game...It's really a shame, because it seems like this should be a great game but it just isn't in my opinion. I certainly understand the appeal of the game but I think gamers looking for depth and replayability would be best advised to go elsewhere. I cringe every time I hear someone say "anybody up for Shadows"?

JC
2 - Flip cards, do mostly pointless actions, watch the game play itself. I think TV offers the same product for less effort?
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17. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:394]

Eugene
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2 - Uhh...it's better than Ticket to Ride, but that's like saying poop is better than crap as far as I'm concerned. Seriously folks, most of us have played Ticket To Ride and Web of Power so why is this the "hot" game of the minute? There is literally NOTHING in this game that either of those games doesn't provide in terms of (_extremely_ limited) decision making, route planning, card drafting, set collecting, and area control.

JC
2.5 - Fairly simple and inoffensive game with little to recommend it asides from being simple and inoffensive: Who maintains the best average efficiency at turning the card darft into special scoring chits? The player that does, wins. There are better efficiency drafting games.
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18. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:156] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]

Eugene
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1 - This is a well-designed game, sure, but it's pointless to waste another hour on it when that hour could be applied to something meaningful and thought-provoking. Like most recent German-style games, this has little replay value or depth and that ultimately is a better barometer of a game's merit than anything else. As far as its accessibility, there was a time when gamers got into the hobby through Axis and Allies or Civilization...this game might as well be Candyland compared to those. In fact, this game is evidence that if Candyland were released today, fat bearded men and their grotesquely obese wives would be hunkered over it declaring how "clever" and "elegant" the mechanics are- just like they do with TTR.

JC
3 - TransAmerica plus a couple, just not plus a very large couple. More complex/intricate than Coloretto but with the same or lower decision density and complexity and without anything to compare to Coloretto's interesting concentration on card counting. Very nice presentation, bits, art -- its just that the game itself is mostly missing. Mostly plays the players.
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19. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:123]

Eugene
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MB/JC don't just hate. They like things too. Some of the very same things! The following three game entries demonstrate this unlikely convergence of tastes. Unlikely, that is, if they weren't the same exact person!

MB
8 - Wow, after several games I realized how great this game is. Incredibly tight, mercilessly unforgiving, and tremendously rewarding...why bother with nonsense like Ticket To Ride when Age of Steam isn't that much harder systematically to play.

JC
8.5 - After playing your mind quivers, not in shock or burnout, but in exactly the same way your legs will after a pounding your way up a steep hill: in the riotous enjoyment of being alive and working hard and knowing that next time, next time, you can do better.
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20. Board Game: Intrigue [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2096]

Eugene
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7 - Admittedly, it's not much of a "game" mechanically but as a instigator of social discord and relationship collapse, Intrige is great fun. The rules are loose and you are entirely at the mercy of other players' whims, so the only real rule is the law of the jungle. Forget all these "low player interaction" games and go right for the psyche. Completely immoral, minimalist, and sure to start arguments. Due to the amount of foul language that this game generates, don't play with gamers with tender ears- send 'em to the Transamerica table!

JC
8 - Reputed to be the most evil of all games; the great destroyer of humanity and all that is good in life. How could I not own a copy? Oh, and yes, the game in fact is quite that evil, nasty and conniving. Well worth the money and time. Remember to push relatives to your left in the early game, right in the late game, and manage what relatives in what trades you have available compared to the other player assignments for the late game.
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21. Board Game: Tahuantinsuyu [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:2819]

Eugene
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8 - Absolutely fantastic. Slough off your anti-crayon game sentiment and ignore the shoddy board and you'll find a compelling, ingenious networking game with a brilliant cardplay system. There's a nice sense of development, exploration, and conflict that makes for a splendid game. Works well with three or four. Highly recommended.

JC
8 - While not without flaws but both interesting and rather deeper than it first appears. This is very much a game of riding coattails and of (not-always-so-)minor positional advantages. A pleasant, even somewhat soothing game.
 
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