New to you Jan 10 => Best new game you played this month and why
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What's the best new game you played this month (January 10) and why? Share your experiences of the new games you've played this month.

It would be helpful, if you could add an entry to the list even if you pick the same game as someone else.. since I use the geeklist entries to compile the summaries. Thanks



New To You Metalist 2010

New To You Meta-list - old metalist (currently broken)

New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread

Your Most Played Game (and more): January 2010
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26. Board Game: Alea Iacta Est [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1450]
Sheamus Parkes
United States
Carmel
Indiana
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Not a big month of new games for me. Of the three though, there was a clear best:


Alea Iacta Est

Despite the slightly rough rules, a real gem of a game is in here. Considering Roll Through the Ages and Raice were among my favorite games of 2009, I'm not surprised to see this one pop up on my list this year.

I really like the combination of set collection and "6Devs" in the form of SPQR tiles. They really give you slightly different strategic paths. (Just like the developments in RttA)

Turns go fast, and there are always interesting decisions to make. Nice game!



Conquest of the Empire

X-Mas gift from the wife. Played with her and two great gaming buddies. The players really made the game for me. The game without the players? It was alright. Parts were awesome. The player alliance auction alone was incredibly fascinating.

What wasn't so fascinating was the length compared to the number of important decisions. Really, the battles weren't all that important. Most of the victors were determined before the first dice were rolled. What won the game was who scurried for what province tokens. And El Grande does that better in a lot less time with a lot less fluff.


 

Municipium

I only played it once with two players. Jim's re-write of the rules made everything crystal clear. So clear, the whole dang play took about 12 minutes. Totally not satisfying.

I really just think it shouldn't have been labeled as a two player game. We just tried to make sure we were at least second where a meeting/prefect was about to occur. We didn't even make it through the public deck before someone had 5 tokens.

Anyway, I'd reserve a little bit of judgement in case it's better with more people. But for now, meh. (Which is sad, I was hoping for something along the lines of Blue Moon City...)
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27. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:54]
M@tthijs
Netherlands
Venlo
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Bought this, if I remember correctly, at Essen in '08. Has been unplayed on the shelf ever since, due to several circumstances. Anyways, it looked somewhat meatier than Puerto Rico (one of our favorites) so I never took the time to get this one down.
When my wife & I went on a wwwk (weekenda-way without kids) I decided to pack this. We played it, didn't get it, played it again, went better and now we love it. 4 plays so far, all 2player, but we're looking forward to play this with more - so we'rehunting our gaming network for suitable opponents. Yeah, that's you Xander! It's a good euro with lots of possibilities & strategies.
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28. Board Game: Batt'l Kha'os [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:3747]
I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
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I got this one for Christmas and played it about 2 weeks ago. My wife and I really enjoyed it. I think it's best playing with the basic tiles as the others definitely make the game more Kha'otic. However, we found it light and enjoyable.

Campaign Manager 2008 got played on the 30th. We loved the first 10 minutes of the game and then it got stale. Again, this was with the basic game setup so I think that we will dig it more when we play the full version. This is the only game I didn't rate after my first play because I'm sure that it will get better.
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29. Board Game: Patrician [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:2005]
SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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York
North Yorkshire
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Patrician A Michael Schacht game from 2007. Play cards to build towers to collect cards and score VPs when towers are tall enough. A very simple game mechanism, with light but amusing choices, nice scoring mechanisms. But a bit dependent on card draw. When you play a card to a city, you (generally) take the card next to that city, which will be for one of the other cities. You have no control over that, so you can easily go from one city you don't want to be in to another city you don't want to be in.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed and I'll play it some more.

Ritter ohne Furcht und Tadel A 1997 dice-roller, with knights knocking seven shades out of each other and Ladies granting Favours. Very basic attack/defence game, purely a dice-roller, with a fiddly scoring system and physically very tricky bits. But we had fun, and it may come out again. It could do with a good make-over...

Abriss From Essen 2009, a small press game, with basic graphics. You collect worker cards, send them to demolish buildings, gain cash and VPs. We played this as a 2player game mistakenly, it's meant to be 3-5. But it worked and worked very well. The worker hiring mechanism was neat, the balance between cash in hand and VPs was good, the way the game developed out naturally was good. if anything, a little long, but that's probably due to have only 2 playing. I could see this being picked up by a bigger publisher and given a polish.

Alea Iacta Est I was underwhelmed. It was okay, but by the time we understood the SPQR cards, it was over. Fun enough, simple enough, but there are better dice-rollers/growers out there. I'd rather play Kingsburg

Im Reich der Wüstensöhne A variant on Entdecker with extras, that did nothing for me. Fiddly little icons, unnecessarily fiddly player pieces of subtly different heights, a turban that went round for no purpose. All in all, it made it too hard to be fun and I was growing tired.

Steel Driver Martin Wallace game with simple mechanisms, an industrial theme (railways duh) and very very very crude graphic design for the board. This looks like a prototype. But it played nicely. With 6 railway companies, and only 5 rounds, one got blocked right at the start, so the competition was close for just us three players. I liked it well enough, but it became clear in round 4 who the winner would be. A lot of the decision making was simply being optimal. It's a cube-pusher, but an interesting cube-pusher. I would be surprised if it wasn't re-issued in a large print run.
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30. Board Game: Cabale [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:7910]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Cabale can hardly be classified as a new title, given that it appeared in 1999 as part of Goldsieber's Royal Line. This is a series of three abstract games with sturdy wooden components in beautiful black boxes. I've played Cabale before, but only with 2 players, and without paying attention to what I was supposed to be doing. As a result, the game suffered to some extent. This month I played it with 3, and there at least one quarter fell in how to go about in creating a self-supporting structure which cannot be taken off the board. (Go-players need to think 'two eyes' here, but then of course translated into Cabale-lingo.) And then the game began to live, as such a structure forms a scaffolding of sorts for the other players to (ab)use. All of a sudden all sorts of little tactical plays appear on the board which seem to hold together very well for the length the game takes. Will you help other players? Will you block someone else from completing a few crucial steps? Will you just prey on other players' hard efforts thus saving up on important blockades to use in devastating fashion in the endgame? No, not at all simple. Some comments on this game call it modern Checkers, but I don't think that's correct, as the Checkers-aspect of hitting other stones is only a part of the entier affair. In fact, you lose if you play it like Checkers.

It's an oldie, but one which in my opinion stayed beneath the radar unjustly. It is not a super abstract, but neither is it easy nor completely silly. It should be ranked about 1200 to 1500 positions higher than it is now, in my opinion. Unfortunately, it's scarce availability will see to it that it languishes in the crevices of BGG for a long time to come.
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31. Board Game: Alhambra [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:435]
Lori
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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I only played two new-to-me games this month, and one was awful, so this was an easy choice.

Alhambra came out at a 4th-anniversary gathering of our game group, when we were trying to play games that we played a lot back in 2006. I do remember seeing Alhambra around a good bit back then, but had somehow never played it myself. It turned out to be a pretty enjoyable tile-laying game. I like the mechanic of the money tableau, and the way you can either take money or buy things. But the dueling color schemes are a little confusing--this was the first game I thought I might've understood better if I were colorblind.

My other new game this month was Mutiny, which I didn't care for. It's always fun to be a pirate, but this turned out to have what I think of as the Munchkin dynamic--you play till someone takes the lead, then you all bash that player till everyone catches up, or if someone new takes the lead, then you all bash them instead. This continues until everyone is one point from victory, then something random happens and it's over.
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32. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:54]
Chris
Netherlands
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Caylus



Caylus is my favorite new game of january 2010. It has been on my to do list for a while now and last Friday I finally had an opportunity to try it out. I’m happy it lived up to my high expectations. I really like resource management and worker placement games, and this is probably the most intense game I played in both genres. I like the turn order mechanic and the fact that passing is a useful action. The provost adds some mean direct conflict, so careful planning is required. I’ve played a 5p game and would really like to try this game with 2 or 3 players. This is my most common number of players. If it is still as good as with 5, I’m going to run to the store and add this to my collection. For now, I rate it an 8.

Caylus Magna Carta



I also played Caylus Magna Carta for the first time this month. It’s similar in a lot of ways. A big difference is the fact that everybody has the same set of buildings. If you want to deny somebody of the secondary effect of his buildings, you can build your own. Also, passing has less influence. It is a good game, but much lighter than its older brother. I played a 2p game and enjoyed it. However, I think it is even better with more players. I rate it a 7

Guillotine



I’ve also been introduced to Guillotine, which is a fun and quick card game filler. It’s themed with beheading French royalty after the French Revolution and is filled with dark humour. It is a fun game where players try to manipulate a line of cards to get the best cards for themselves. It feels a bit like Sitting Ducks without the direct conflict. It could easily become my favourite card game filler for 2-3 players. With more players I’d rather play Sitting Ducks. I rate it an 8.

Cuba



Another new game I played is Cuba, another resource management game. It’s a role selection game at its core, but there are a lot more mechanics in play. It has a strong spatial element that requires careful planning. I think this game rewards strategical play. When building, production spaces need to be sacrificed, which involves the rest of the game. I want to play this more often to really grasp the strategies. I rate it a 7 for now, but this will probably change. It may go up when repeated plays give indeed more control of the gameplay. If not, it will probably go down.

Domaine



I finally had an opportunity to play Domaine, which was one of my birthday presents. It don’t like to learn a new game with a variant for a number of players, so I had to wait for at least 3 players who were not put off by the theme and the direct conflict. I liked my first play, but felt like I maybe missed a rule. A lot of times turns were spent to recapture land, lost in the previous turn. Other than that, it was a good game. I rate it a 7.

Fiji



I also learned Fiji, a blind bidding game by Friedemann Friese. Players place 1 bid for 4 different trades. After three trades a winner of the round is determined. The winning conditions for a round are never the same. After four rounds a winner is declared. This is a fun game where players have to deal with a lot of aspects to come up with 1 single bid for all trades. I liked it and would certainly play this again, although opinions were mixed on this one. I rate it a 7.

Elfenland



I’ve only learned one new game I didn’t really like: Elfenland. It suffers from AP combined with chaos. You choose travel tokens based on your cards and map position which adds AP. Afterwards you hope nobody disrupts your careful laid out route, adding chaos. I will play it again and hope it was just a bad first impression. I rate it a 5

Tortuga



The last new game I played is Tortuga. It’s a variation on checkers on a hexagonal board. Players play with the same pieces: turtles. The direction these turtles are facing decides which player controls them. The goal is to reach the other side of the board. The twist is to jump over an opponents piecem, this turns it in a neutral piece; the turtle lies on its back. When a piece jumps over a second time it is turned back to normal, but this player can decide the direction it faces. This way, pieces never leave the game but might change sides. It’s interesting and the production value is great. Still, I’m not a big fan of abstracts, so I’ll wait and see how my interest in this game develops. For now, I rate it a 6.
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33. Board Game: Carson City [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:400]
Gary H
United States
Milwaukee
Wisconsin
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This one was by far the best new game I played this past month. We played with five and I was blown away. Really. I love the town building, the tactical and strategic play of the game, the theme and the gunfights add a nice touch to the game. Played it two player and it was still an excellent game. Very quick two player (35 minutes).

Eat Poop You Cat 2 - an activity we decided to give a try to with four of us. Had a lot of laughs. I see us doing this again with more people.

Bombay 1
- This was decent enough. Once we learned it, it was very quick.

Carson City 1 - See above

Colonia 1 - played with three. I liked this one, too. The worker placement/management was, I felt, fairly unique.

Red November 1 - This was 'meh'. I really didn't feel all that engaged. Better than Pandemic in my eyes but I wouldn't buy this game.
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34. Board Game: Pack & Stack [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1816]
Bjorn De Swert
Belgium
Tessenderlo
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Pack & stack was my best new game for this month. A light, quick filler, I enjoyed it a lot.

Other new games:

Parthenon: Rise of the Aegean: a mediocre game about trading and building in the mediterean. The duration was a little to long for what it was and the luck-aspect (with the sea-hazard and trading cards) was too great for my liking.

Ziegen Kriegen: a filler cardgame that left me neither warm nor cold. There are better games in this category.

Chinatown: a classic which I played for the first time this month. I liked it, but it didn't grab me. I don't feel the need to play this again, however when asked to play I wouldn't object either.

Guillotine: another filler. This one I quite liked. We only played a 2 player game however and I would like to play it again with more players.

Ave Caesar: quick racing game, which was too luck driven for my tastes.


All by all a disappointing month (compared to the previous months). Maybe I'm getting spoiled by all the great games I've learned the last months
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35. Board Game: Campaign Manager 2008 [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1460]
Max Jamelli
United States
Chambersburg
Pennsylvania
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Lots of new games this month.

Campaign Manager 2008
I'm a big fan of 1960. I enjoy Twilight Struggle. I eagerly await Founding Fathers. This seemed like a no brainer for me. Jen and I sat down to give it a play the day it came in. The rules read quickly and easily. The game was really great. Jen took an early (sizable) lead with BO but I was about to bring Johnny Mac back and won with 272.

Catan: Seafarers

Played this expansion at our monthly game day. I was not a huge fan of Settlers, but this expansion made it interesting again. I like how it changes the map from a symmetrical shape to islands.

Gene Pool

This little card game will come in handy as a teacher if I handle science. Easy to learn and quick to play.

Hacienda

Still learning this online. Not having the most success, but I am enjoying the learning process.

Handelsfürsten: Herren der Meere

Played at Game Day. Really fun game. I enjoyed the shipping mechanic. The special cards all seemed expensive and worth the investment - and all of them have their own different path to victory.

King of Chicago

Got into this game a little late, but early enough to catch up and enjoy the game. I like mobster games and this was a very good one.
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36. Board Game: Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:669]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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January was going to be a fairly light month for new games. But, thanks to a game day at the end of the month I got in a few more. It's been a month of great new experiences, and even my lowest-ranked new game was very enjoyable and I won’t be getting rid of it.



1 = Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit - I feel like there should be trumpets playing a fanfare, and fireworks exploding when I say the phrase..."I finally played this game!" Folks, this game was so much fun that I was tempted to go rate it a 10 and put it in my Top 10 list right away. The theme just oozes out of this game. I visualize every moment of that climactic 4-sided battle in the Phantom Menace (and I’m someone who actually kind of enjoyed the prequel movies, too.) We had to abort our game a few turns from completion, but I just loved every moment of it, and I'm already talking to my friend about when we can get together and play it again. WOO HOO!!!



11 = Tobago - What a fascinating game. I've never played anything quite like it. I enjoyed the game a ton, and it really seemed to be my kind of game. However, I just can't see myself getting a copy because it won't be the easiest game to teach. The induction process can be quite confusing, and even after a full game my wife still didn't fully understand what she was doing. That being said, I will seek out opportunities to play this game at future game days for sure.



21 = Maori - Now this game is definitely on the opposite end of the spectrum. After one game, Rikki instantly said she wants me to buy a copy. It's a really light game and yet has some tough and interesting decisions. I love games where you need everything and you have to choose which is the most important, and this one is loaded with those little moments. I'll have a copy of this game in my collection soon. It is perfect for that light tile-laying feel.



22 = Crokinole - It seems unfair matching a dexterity game like this against strategy games. I just don't know where to put it. It's a very entertaining game, and I found myself laughing several times and having a lot of fun. The game was great and I'd like to play it again. However my fascination has now been satisfied and I don't feel the "must own" obsession. Fun, but not quite great enough for me to spend the big bucks for a nice board.



32 = Forbidden - With a little effort I was finally able to get this game off of my unplayed list (after sitting there for 2 years.) I have to thank Greg Schloesser for the recommendation on the Dice Tower, because this game was a really nice Rummy-style game with a little twist. It has a cool push-your-luck element as you try to hold special cards that will multiply your score, but if you get caught with them in your hand they will penalize you instead. I felt the game had a nice balance and the cards were great quality (though a little too big.)



33 = Piece o' Cake - After my first play I thought this game was completely devoid of any depth. But there is some strategy involved. I'm most intrigued by the tough decision of how to slice the cakes. Usually there are a couple of slices that you want, but trying to separate the cake in the right way to make sure no one else will take those slices is a challenge. It's also really intriguing trying to figure out how many pieces you need to save in order to insure majority..."Should I save that fourth slice to lock in the majority, or can I just eat it for a couple extra points?"



43 = Jungle Speed - I'm not the biggest fan of speed games, but this is a nice light one with almost a party game feel. Everyone seemed to laugh a lot and people were scrambling and scraping for that totem. It bears a strong resemblance to Snorta, which we've always had success with, but it doesn't require memory so it's more flexible. The biggest complaint I have is that the rules have a ton of ambiguities. I'll be starting a thread soon here on BGG to get an idea what we're supposed to do in certain situations. I almost gave it a really terrible rating because the rules were so terrible, but the game play was enjoyable enough that I had to give it a break.
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37. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:122]
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Hansa Teutonica



I think I've figured out why people are responding so positively to this Dark Horse title from Essen. It doesn't feel like a new release. It is not a complex, multi-layered, heady blend of several other well-known heavy games. Instead it feels like it could easily have been released 10 years ago. Rather than having a vague sense of its potential after a full game, by turn two everything clicks and you think, "oh, this is really good."

Unfortunately, Hansa Teutonica sounds pretty dull on paper. All you do is compete for short city-to-city links on the board by placing cubes. Once you finish a link, you can either place a marker in an adjoining city, which will score you a few points depending on future board activity, or you can claim a "tech" advancement associated with that city. There are five types of advancements and several levels of each. All of them enable stronger boardplay.

In practice it's a snappy, satisfying game that combines straightforward rules with a sense of fluid, open-ended play. You choose how to develop your abilities as the game progresses. It also feels tight in that you must respond to other player's moves and continually obstruct their plans. The gameplay has all of the engagement and precision associated with blocking but none of the spite or tit-for-tat. You can always "unblock" yourself, you just pay a small cost to do so and give a small benefit to the blocker. So I'll get in your way because I don't want you to have easy access to a powerful advancement. You'll still get it, but it'll cost you a bit more and you'll have to help me a little elsewhere on the board.

It's fast. It's reasonably short (45m). Almost anyone should be able to grasp what's going on and get into it. Gamers like it. Eight-year olds like it. Who'd have thought?

I will be picking this up as soon as it's available.


Tigris and Euphrates



Hansa Teutonica may play like a modern classic, but T&E is the real deal.

I imagine we're all on the same page here, but here's the "last time, on BGG" voiceover for you anyway. T&E is Reiner Knizia's highest ranked game. It's the oldest game in the top 10. It was #1 prior to the release of PR in 2002. It is rated a perfect 10 by both of the site owners and can be played in the forums here on BGG. It also has a reputation for being a "bolt from the blue" as far as game design goes. My geekbuddy analysis shows comments like "crazy-unique" and "game-god made flesh." It is well known for being strategically opaque and counterintuitive yet smooth-flowing and engrossing. The game's thematic integration polarizes players into those who see a pure positional abstract, and those who see the ebb and flow of civilizations. Etc.

OK, so I finally played the game, and what I found was the supreme development of Sid Sackson's 1962 classic, Acquire. There's no memory element (for those of you who play Acquire with closed shares), but the basic premise is intact: add tiles to hotels kingdoms, position yourself as a stakeholder in these kingdoms, and maneuver such that when two kingdoms merge collide, you score points. The thing is, in Acquire, tiles are permanent and the hotels glom onto each other, eventually forming super-duper hotels in one giant tile-blob. Conflicts in T&E are multi-step because each Kingdom may have up to four "dimensions" (various elements of civilization: agriculture, religion, etc.), and the resolution of each conflict will remove one or more pieces from the board, segmenting and re-segmenting the kingdoms. Thus, "ebb and flow."

I think it's a very good game that requires repeat play to get into. To keep it from becoming straight-up multi-player chess, Knizia included both hidden information (you have a hand of six tiles - just like acquire) and a not-small dose of randomness via the tile draw. During conflicts, you may play tiles from your hand to influence the outcome, and on your turn, you may use an action to discard all of your tiles and draw new ones. In other words, tiles are drawn frequently enough that it's not uncommon to randomly have three or four of one type, and that could really save you if the right situation arises on the board. I won my first game of T&E because I had three black tiles during a 5-2 attack. The back-blast against my opponent gave me 6 points in my second-lowest color, just as I was setting up to score big in my lowest. I won with 9-9-9-11.

I think the tile-draw is always going to seem "one step too far" to players, as far as including an element of chance. I don't think it ruins it though. The other easy criticism of this game is that external conflicts heavily reconfigure the board such that you have to discard your last three minutes of planning and take another three minutes before proceeding. The 2hr playing time comes entirely from the "need a new plan" syndrome.

Personally, I think anyone who is new to gaming should avoid T&E unless they're predisposed to like more abstract and positional games. It's a must-try once you're a "gamer."


Planet Steam



Note to self: try hard(er) not to run out of money next time. Oh wait, that's what I said last time.

In Planet Steam, the Interplanetary Federation (IPF) has discovered a resource-rich planet, and you run one of the first companies on the scene. One aspect of the game feels familiar: you need quantities of ore, water, crystal, and energy to build up infrastructure. The other aspect of the game confounded my group: the four resources may be bought and sold in a fluctuating commodities market, and navigating this market is the only way to obtain operating cash. Cash flow can be a real headache, and without it you're dead in the water. The game is played over 4-6 turns depending on the player count, and each turn (year), you hire a specialist that enhances your operations in some way and determines the player order for market manipulation.

What I'm looking for here is a robust sense of options. At least, that's what I'd been lead to expect. So far the learning curve is kicking my ass, but I'm liking it better bit by bit.

Priests of Ra



A sequel to the modern classic Ra, Priests of Ra overlaps quite substantially with the original game. If you're familiar with the Ticket to Ride, Dominion, Power Grid, Carcassonne, or 18xx game families, you know what I'm talking about. This is Ra but with a different tile set. Same board, same suns, same draw/invoke rules.

The rules for Ra/PoR are incredibly simple. On your turn, you either draw a tile, or invoke Ra (which means you can bang a wooden piece on the table and bellow "Ra!"). If you draw, the tile is added to the board. If you invoke, players may use their suns (goodwill with the Sungod Ra) in a once-around bid for various bits and pieces of ancient Egyptian civilization (all of the tiles on the board). The brilliance of Ra is the discrete bidding system. Have you ever been in a round of Power Grid where a Power Plant goes up for auction at 35 and the bidding goes up in increments of one all the way to 60? Well, forget that. Here you choose one of your suns and if its not good enough, tough. If your suns seem too low or too high for the current lot, too bad. Even better, the winning sun becomes part of the next lot. So you might really want the tiles available, and at the same time you want to avoid winning a stretch of low-value suns. Your opponents know this. They will leverage it.

Ra / Priests of Ra are deep games. Despite the simplicity, there is a lot to scrutinize. You can try to tempt your opponents out of the round early and draw solo runs from the bag. If you're too picky you lose the opportunities to win anything at all with one or more of your suns. You can try to keep the lots going if you're sitting on the trump sun and the lot is already 'past the point of no return.' You must know when to cut it short if an opponent is already sure to bid and you cannot stop them. You can position to get stuff that is way better than your lowly sun but pretty crappy for your opponent's high suns. And so on. And that's all irrespective of the actual tile-set, which adds a lot.

Priests of Ra is designed to be slightly more intuitive than Ra, it has fewer scoring penalties, and the scoring itself is less finely grained. Other than that: same game, new tiles. If you like one, you should like the other.


Cutthroat Caverns



Cutthroat Caverns is a diamond in the rough.

Many games of this theme and style fall flat, dragging on for ages with rinse-repeat gameplay and utterly failing to create an atmosphere with lazy flavor text on inconsequential cards. It's about time someone got it right.

Once again, players are a band of elves/dwarves/rogues/barbarians/not-this-****-again. Kill monsters. Complete Dungeons. Le Sigh. Fortunately, the central idea of the game is both unusual and risky. Basically it's a cooperative game that only one person can win. If you compete with each other right away, you'll all die. If you cooperate too much, you probably won't win. Finding the right balance is the whole game. Lots of quick card play, lots of shenanigans, lots of fist-shaking, lots of fun. I'd put this in the same class as Shadow Hunters: good at what is does and a nice change of pace.

Nanuk



This Hunt is Doomed!

Nanuk is a card-based spin on Perudo with - get this - a theme! And not just a theme, but an amusing theme that works. Whoa.

Each round of play represents a evening by the campfire followed by a hunt the next morning. In the first phase, the hunters boast of their skill and prowess. How many seals/deer/etc. can they catch, and how quickly? As play proceeds around the table, each player has to boast or call. If you boast, you increase either the size of the catch or the length of the hunt. If you call, you say "This Hunt is Doooomed," preferably in a deep and ominous voice. At that time, everyone at the table must decide in secret to either join the hunter or join the naysayer. This choice is made based on a couple of things. First each player has a hand of cards that they can contribute to the hunt if they join. Players also consider how dangerous the hunt is. Once the teams are revealed, the hunt begins and cards are revealed from the deck, one for each day of the hunt. The catch is that about 1/8 of the cards show the hunters being attacked by polar bears. So a long hunt will yield more bounty but may also fail because of those pesky polar bears. If it succeeds, the hunters win and divy cards for scoring. If it fails, the naysayers win and they receive the cards instead.

Fun, light game. For the sake of full disclosure, I do game occasionally with one of the designers.


Campaign Manager 2008



Jason Matthews has been slimming down and condensing each subsequent design in the last 5 years. 1960 is considerably lighter and shorter than Twilight Struggle. Campaign Manager less than half the length of 1960.

Each player fights over the battleground states from the 08 presidential election. Four states are in play at any given time. Whenever a state is won, those electoral votes go to the player, he or she chooses which state will enter play next, and a news event affects approval ratings in one of the four states. On your turn you either play a card or draw. States each have an issue spectrum with Obama campaigning on the economy and McCain campaigning on national defense. Cardplay will strengthen your position on one of these issues or shift that state's focus along the spectrum. If you can max out an issue while the public is following along, the state goes to you. You must do both though: if voters care about defense, if doesn't matter how well you're campaigning on the economy and vice versa.

There are 45 cards for each player included in the box. Only 15 per player are used each game following a draft. Replayability comes through deck-building. The design has an excellent overall shape to it but the details may tell a different story. Card-advantage is huge in this game. Of that I think there is no question. The game's viability will depend on just how dominant it is, but I'm already wary. I don't want to spend time on a game that's largely about whose deck cycles most efficiently. I've played twice and I admire the game, but my appreciation could slide in a hurry.

Dungeon Lords



Dungeon Lords is a passable game that I can more or less dismiss in one sentence: way too much of way too little.

To wit: you will never earn much gold, collect much food, build many rooms, hire many imps, dig many tunnels, set many traps, recruit many monsters, fight off many adventurers, become all that evil, take many actions, or score many points. You will do all of these things, and it will take a while, but in the end it's a game with a large number of moving parts that creak once or twice before it's all over.

Everything rides on Vlaada Chvatil's trademark implementation of theme. The rulebook is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and that humor comes through in small doses during the game. It's certainly amusing to lure a Paladin into the countryside with your evil deeds, only to switch over to your best behavior so that the Paladin changes course and wrecks another player's dungeon instead of yours. But overall I can't see this game growing on me. It's quite procedural. The core mechanism of the game is simultaneous action selection crossed with turn-order resolution. So like Race for the Galaxy or Goldbrau, you have have to guess what other players are doing in order to maximize your own turn. I'm not a big fan of that in general.

After one play I feel like I've seen everything there is to see here. The differences that crop up from session to session may be enough for some players but for me I suspect they will be trivial. Dungeon Lords is a game of breadth, not depth.

Final note: there is no worker placement in this game. At all. Just as there is no deduction in Tobago. Someone get me a "mechanics police" microbadge, stat.

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38. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:164]
Jordan Stewart
Canada
Grand Bay-Westfield
NB
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Galaxy Trucker



Thanks to a super awesome Secret Santa, I finally managed to get my grubby hands on this game. I'd wanted it since the day I joined BGG and it'd somehow managed to elude me for a long time. ($$) I played it a couple times with 2 and once with 4. I liked both numbers, but found the second part of the game more.. significant with more people. Lots of laughs watching people build terrible ships and lose entire sections.

Horus



Not much love here on the geek, but a surprise hit for me. One look at the back of the box would be enough for me to put this confusing looking, kind of ugly Carcassonne clone back on the shelf. I'd have probably never ended up playing it if it didn't show up at our gaming group this past week. Anyway we gave it the ol' college try and I really enjoyed it. It's a cinch to learn, and has some interesting mechanics with the number/color cards. Not spectacular, but a pleasant little filler.

Fast Flowing Forest Fellers



Been at the top of my list forever. Finally got a copy and played it this month. Lots of fun. Really easy game play, like, ticket to ride easy. It might take the length of one board to get a complete grasp on the mechanics and flow of the pieces, but once everything clicks it's definitely a good time.

Metropolys



I was quite excited about this game. I like the shifting auction mechanic, and trying to figure out what the other players REALLY want, though this tends to be fairly obvious pretty early on. I only played it once with 2 which was ok, but felt pretty flat compared to what I imagine it will be with more people. Also: I don't really find the board ugly at all, I mean, I wouldn't make out with it or anything, but I thought it served its purpose very well.

Candamir: The First Settlers



What a wierd, funny game. I found myself skeptical on set up but then found I thoroughly enjoyed the game overall. The card movement is pretty random/luck/push your luck based but I found that it didn't take too much from the strategy side of things.

Chaos in the Old World



Meeeeeeh. Something here didn't do something for me. Maybe it's because I've never played warhammer, maybe it's my complete uninterest in the fantasy flight line (and style) of games. Maybe it was just because it was my first time playing, but this one didn't really gel with me. I'd definitely play it again to give it another chance, but it would need to really wow me to change my mind.

Tales of the Arabian Nights



Verdict's still out. Only played once solo, and found it to be only ok. The game is gorgeous though, and I can't wait to play with more.

IV-V-I



Funny little music theory card game. Lots of points for originality, but I found it way too complicated for what it is. The tutorials on the companies website are pretty great though, I recommend checking those out if you're trying to learn this game.

Blokus Duo



Finally got to scratch the blokus itch. It was... fine.
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39. Board Game: Eat Poop You Cat [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:868]
William Bussick
United States
Reno
Nevada
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8 new games this month. Lotsa work stuff going on right now. Board games game been pushed pretty far from my mind, but Matt keeps me up on the new ones!

BEST

Eat Poop You Cat: Alright, alright. It's barely a game, I know. But the first plays of this little gem of an...exercise sparked the kind of laughter you don't get much: the lost breath, crying kind. Of course, filthy minds and alcohol didn't hurt either. I recommend it if you haven't tried it. I'm sure it can be family friendly too. Doubt I'll play it with less than 6 though, and more than 8 probably wouldn't work on a single sheet of paper.

THE REST (most liked first)

A la carte: Yes, it's a "gimmick" game, but at least there's a game behind the gimmick. Probably won't run out for a copy, but it sure is eye-catching. Very pleasant.

Alea Iacta Est: This may have captured my heart a bit more, if the game didn't grind to a halt around the bonus cards. I suppose it goes quicker when everyone understands them, but I'm not sure I'll get to that point. An inoffensive little worker-placement dice game. Good bits, but frustrating box insert.

Vasco da Gama: What may have been a good Euro a couple of years ago now just feels mediocre to me. It felt like it indirectly borrowed much from Caylus, and it was disappointingly themeless. Not a bad game, but probably not one I'll pick up. Just too long to teach and play.

Infinite City: The unclear ruleset scared me off, but the game actually wasn't too bad. The luck of the draw is too strong a factor in this game, but it has an interesting concept. Lotsa reading in the first few games it seems.

Thunderstone: I expected something a little better here. This was a little less fun than Dominion...in twice the timeframe. Great art, bad presentation, good idea, but ultimately, I'd rather put Big D on the table first.

By Golly!: Yeah, I hate memory games, but kids love animals and poop, and my daughter's memory helps to balance out our ages. Okay, Doris and Frank, you have a keeper. Nice small box, but probably could've been just a deck of cards--around 1/3 the size. (I'm being really picky now, I know...)

Fzzzt!: Confusing art and a little long for what it is. Another "there's got to be a great game in here somewhere" designs. Great size (deck of cards), but seems just slightly broken. Hmm...
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40. Board Game: The Isle of Doctor Necreaux [Average Rating:5.51 Overall Rank:15509]
David Reed
United States
College Station
Texas
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January was a good month for me - a day-long New Year's Day gaming session, the annual Martin Luther King gaming weekend with some of my old local gaming group (which has since scattered across Texas) and some local gaming, too.

In between all of the games of Dominion with Dominion: Seaside, a fair number of new titles managed to hit the table.

The Isle of Doctor Necreaux was the big hit of the month. It's a relatively quick and light cooperative game that presents a good challenge. While I have some doubts about the balance between the various skills and the game is in dire need of a FAQ, everyone who has played it has enjoyed the game. (5 plays)

Money! - While I have owned a copy of this game for a few years, it had not hit the table until the iPod app was released. Having that, it made teaching the game much easier. This is another interesting filler from Reiner Knizia, and I expect it will see repeated play. (3 plays)

Pocket Rockets - While Vlaada Chvátil has been attracting a lot of attention as a (relatively) new designer with interesting innovative designs, Antoine Bauza is also creating some interesting stuff. This one was recommended by a local GeekBuddy, and has been enjoyable thus far. A nice portable filler. (2 plays)

Conquest of the Fallen Lands - An interesting abstracted area control game that kind of reminds me of Othello (in a good way). While we got a critical rule wrong, I am interested in trying this again. (1 play)

duck! duck! SAFARI! - I played this with my teenaged (!) goddaughter and her friend after I crashed on the second turn of a Formula Dé game. There are five games in the box. Since none of us had read the rules before we sat down to play, we decided to play the easy Safari Sprint game. It's a simple race game with the superb components that the duck! duck! games feature. While it is not a game that I would go out of my way to play, it was a great way to spend some time with my goddaughter. Since her parents play a lot of games (and by games, I mean games like Talisman (Revised 4th Edition)) with their children, I have high hopes of her being a gamer as an adult! (1 play)

Fast Flowing Forest Fellers - A rather light racing game from Friedemann Friese. Not a stellar title for me, but I found it enjoyable. (1 play)

Monopoly Deal Card Game - A Christmas gift that I had worries about. The game is fairly chaotic and felt like it was heavy on the "take that" end of things. While it does not have the same problems of its namesake, I still did not find it enjoyable. (1 game)

New Expansion:

Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Expansion - We did not use all of this expansion in our play, so I am going to reserve judgment on it. I've heard that, when used in its entirety, it makes things easier for the humans. We certainly could have used something easier. The lone cylon in the game was able to use an extremely unfriendly deck of challenge cards to doom us before we even got to the second deal of loyalty cards. (1 play)
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41. Board Game: BattleLore [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:296]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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LOVED IT!



BattleLore: Every now and again I step outside my comfort zone and pick up a game in a genre I'm not normally interested in. You probably won't find someone less interested in wargames than me, but the more I read about BattleLore the better it sounded. My biggest issues with wargames are long playtime and theme (BattleLore is medieval warfare with Ye Olde Fantasy thrown in.) and this game doesn't have either of those problems. Best of all, my wife loves it. We've played 7 games so far (she's won 4 of them) and we're looking forward to more. I'm loving the war council, and I've downloaded a shitpot of scenarios to try. We'll try the Call to Arms expansion soon, and I'll have to start chipping away at the game's many expansions.



Long Shot: This game about buying and betting on horses was a very pleasant surprise. After all, I'm not remotely interested in the subject matter, but it was January's game of the month for Z-Force, so I had to teach it. And surprise, surprise, everyone had a great time! In fact, every group I've shown the game has come away impressed. The rules are simple, the game doesn't run too long (even with 8 players) and the horses move on everyone's turn, so people tend to stay interested even when it's someone else's turn. Between the dice and cards there's definitely a strong luck element, but it's about horse racing and gambling so luck should be a factor.



TAMSK: The latest GIPF game (okay, okay, former GIPF game) to make a great impression on me. The rules are simple, the game is interesting to look at and watch, and the time element helps make it a unique experience. I'm curious as to whether this will hold up over repeated plays well, but for now I'm very happy with TAMSK.



Chaos in the Old World: Chaos nicely blends some eurogame and Ameritrash elements into a fun package. The players will be playing many cards throughout, and there's an area control element to the game. You'll also be chucking handfuls of dice in battle attempting to wipe out your fellow evil gods. It's a fascinating game, and I like how the players need to keep an eye on each other and keep each other in check. So far we've had two 4-player games and Khorne has won both times. I'm curious to see if that continues and looking forward to playing more.

Liked it!



Tumblin-Dice Jr.: Bought this as an afterthought as part of an order from EagleGames.net since it was cheap ($15) and the shipping was free. Decided to bring this out one night, and my wife and I really enjoyed it. It's very quick, very simple, and anybody can play. It's a good blend of luck and skill. All 3 of our games were very close, and I'm interested in getting the full version of the game now.



The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac: A light, not-too-long game about looting a temple and trying to escape with your life (and some treasure.) I like that you need to weigh the risk vs reward when acquiring treasure, since the more you carry the fewer actions you get to take. More treasure also makes it tougher to get across the rickety bridge or out of the river. It's a fun family game, and my only concern is that I've played it twice using the same strategy and won both games. We'll see how future plays go.



PÜNCT: My GIPF collection is now complete! PUNCT was the last in the series I got to play, and it does not disappoint. It features the same simple ruleset and depth of gameplay the rest of the series features. The fact that it's only my 6th favorite game in the series speaks more to the quality of the GIPF games than the quality of PUNCT.



Yspahan: Just played a 2-player game of this last night, and came away pretty impressed. Rolling dice is fun, the little camels carrying cubes on their backs is adorable, and there seem to be plenty of appealing options each turn. I'm curious to see how the game plays with more players, but for now I feel it has a lot of potential.



Blokus Duo: Just like our usual 2-player Blokus variant, but in a smaller box. Plus purple vs orange is perfect for wife and I. Good game.

Not so sure...



Castle Panic: Our first time playing, we all played open-handed. This rendered the game useless for me, since all information was open, everyone played a part in the (usually obvious) decisions, and the game was entirely up to which cards were drawn and which monsters were drawn. I can see the game being more entertaining playing with your cards hidden and striving for getting the most points. Still, this seems like a fine co-op game for kids or non-gamers, but it's not something I'm going to play when I have Pandemic, Ghost Stories and Shadows Over Camelot available.



Terra Nova: Not a bad game, certainly. The board is beautiful. It's a game about placing stones and moving followers around the board, trying to zone off areas and score points for them. If I didn't have shelves full of other games, I'd probably have taken to Terra Nova a little better. It just didn't do anything for us.



Warhammer: Invasion: Played a single 4-player game of this. That was nearly a month ago and the details are a little fuzzy. I remember thinking some of the cards felt unbalanced, and that attacking somebody would leave you vulnerable to being attacked by someone else. I wasn't overly impressed, but would be willing to try it again.
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42. Board Game: The World Cup Game [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:2141]
Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
VA
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Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
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I've got a good buddy who is mad about soccer. I was surprised at what a good game this was and how it felt like a soccer tournament. Some neat mechanics. then again, his 7 year-old won. laugh
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43. Board Game: Runewars [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:190]
Tim Mierz
United States
Middletown
Connecticut
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Runewars (8)
I've only played once, but that's still 4 hours of play! While it's big and long and has tons of stuff going on, after a few turns it all came together pretty well. The fate deck, with its combat and other implications, is definitely a cool feature. The asymmetric armies are always a plus with me, they have their own feels without seeming imbalanced. Some of the season events seem a bit swingy/potentially imbalanced, but I've only played once so I can't say for sure right now. All in all, while it was presented like a bunch of independent systems each with their own neat mechanics, they integrated well. I'd love to play a second time, this time knowing more of the implications of my actions, what my army's character is, the best ways to achieve the ultimate goal of the game (which was very easy to lose in all the other stuff going on), and all that good stuff.

Pisa (8)
I was surprised how much I liked this game. With all the trick-taking games I've played over the last year or so, I wasn't expecting to be impressed by yet another. I hate describing games as "a twist on trick-taking!" because that description covers pretty much all of the ones I've played. Each hand has two phases, a bidding phase and a playing phase. The playing phase is standard trick taking, but the rules are bid upon beforehand: trump, whether high or low wins, and whether you're rewarded for taking the most or least. The bidding round is dynamic and you have to be willing to switch your plans partway through. I'd love to get more than 2 plays in of this one.

Katzenjammer Blues (8)
Wow, this one came out of nowhere surprised me. While it looks like a light lucky game, it's actually an intense down-to-the-wire bidding game, at least with 2. Jam-packed with difficult decisions. Don't know how it plays with 3+ though.

Homesteaders (7)
Tech trees: the game. The first play's a bit overwhelming with a ton of buildings all just sort of there... but you can't very well hide them because you need to know what you'll need down the line. I imagine this will be even better in later plays. The Vegas Showdown-style bidding works well, even though until the last couple rounds our bids all stayed low, and the fact that someone HAS to pass is a nice touch. There sure are a lot of resource types though.
As for the production quality, I thought all the art, design, and resources were very well done, the only thing that bothered me was the off-centered cutting, but I don't think that's that big of a deal. I certainly wouldn't avoid buying the game for that reason.

Beat the Buzzard (7)
I was surprised how much I liked this. The rules are ridiculously simple, and I feel like I could play this with practically anyone. And usually that means that there's nothing worth exploring in the game, but in this case the simplicity makes way for outguessing your opponents and trying to hit a sweet spot of cleverness. I played this only with gamers who I've played a ton of games with, and knowing each other so well made it even tougher... Luke WOULD play his 14 on this card, wouldn't he? That means I should 15... except he's thinking the same, so I should go lower. Or maybe just dump a 1 on this and sit out. Oh, but maybe he's going low, and then that opens it for a mid-high play from Tom, who still has his 10, so maybe I should 11... but what does Benton have left? A surprising amount in this little game.

Arkham Horror (7)
Co-op Betrayal, sort of. It was certainly a bit rulesy, but we all enjoyed our time playing it. It was my first game and the second for the others at the table, so we were a little slow at points and we had to look up a couple things during play, but for the most part it was a bit mechanical (okay, my character is moved here and I have to draw this card), with some uncontrollable luck at some points. In our case, the luck was on our side - we stopped getting many new open gates after we'd sealed off a couple, because the cards kept showing the same locations. It actually ended up being TOO easy for us. We didn't get to employ much creativity in our plans, but we still liked the overall experience enough.

Vikings (7)
Writing this a week after I played it, this game just wasn't too memorable. I remember battling for the tiles and people and having a big late-game scoring shift. But I don't remember if I enjoyed it, if I want to play it again, if I liked the design. Probably not a great sign. It's at the very least a 6 though, and it seemed solid enough to merit a 7.

Nicht die Bohne! (6)
In my one play of this, we found it pretty easy to stick players with cards. We also loved targeting the leaders. So much so that the order of the five players' scores swapped after each round. I guess we played an even number of rounds, because the one in last after round 1 ended up winning! It was an okay game, I liked the aspect of trying to convince the start player to take yours (or not) by tempting them with a good (or bad) card, I haven't really seen that sort of thing in too many other games.

Der Elefant im Porzellanladen (6)
I wasn't too impressed by this game, even though it has some neat features. For the most part, I felt very constrained by my plays - either I was literally forced to take an action, or one of my choices would be so stupid that I was practically forced to take the other. I did like the Yahtzee-esque scoring, making it so that just grabbing the highest available card wasn't the obvious best thing to do, and trying to plan around which elephants would come at you was a nice aspect. I would play this again if others wanted to, but I'm in no rush to suggest it myself.

Mamma Mia! (5)
Short-term memory isn't my strong suit. Add in some chaos and I ended up just putting some not-so-good guesses onto the stack and having not-so-good results. I didn't really get enjoyment out of this. Not my favorite Uwe game.

Tower of Babel (5)
Subject-to-change rating. I don't like majorities (for whatever reason - I haven't figured out why yet) and I'm not too big on Knizia, so this really fell flat with me.
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44. Board Game: Planet Steam [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:830]
Rob Bradley
United States
Belleville
Wisconsin
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Planet Steam

This is an intriguing game. I found it to be slightly unforgiving in that you need to plan ahead so you have enough money to buy necessary resources to do what you want on the next turn. In my one play (the first for all players), there was continuous 'oh crap' moments while each us realized we forgot something. I think after a few plays the planning will become easier and then this game will shine.

Kingsburg

This is an interesting worker placement game where instead of workers you have influence in the form of dice that are rolled at the beginning of the turn. These three dice can be split up and summed and placed on spots on the board that give some sort good or bonus to the player. Each spot can only be influenced by one player so there is jockeying for position for the juicier spots on the board. The goods earned are used to purchase buildings which earn the player bonuses and victory points. In addition, the buildings are in columns and rows, you need to purchase a level one building before building a level two building, and so on, up to the best, which is level four. The die rolling mechanic is pretty cool because it forces you to change you plans when you roll poorly. I am not a fan of the battle mechanic, rolling a die and adding bonuses to determine if you beat the baddies, is too much random proven by the fact that it was changed in the expansion. I am also wondering if this game is too luck based or if good play can overcome the dice. To accomplish this, I would like to track the overall sum of dice from each player and see if it correlates to player finish.

Tribune: Primus Inter Pares

Worker placement and set collection combined into one, Oh, and throw in an auction for good measure. Not sure how; but put it all together and it works.

The Battle for Hill 218

I really enjoy simple mano y mano strategy games and this is no exception. The players are trying to capture each others base by battling around the fabled Hill 218. The players alternate playing two cards each round onto the table. The cards are played into a space that is an imaginary grid on the table. Each card has three attributes, where it attacks (and if it needs support), where it gets supplied from, and what squares it supports. Each card gets played and needs to be in supply (except for paratroopers), and then may attack any enemy card if there is an enemy card in an area you can attack, the attack is resolved by the enemy player removes the attacked card. So players jockey for position and try to establish a defense while trying to push the opponent out of their base. Fun little game; but I think may not have huge replayability since consecutive plays may stagnate into an optimal strategy that may not have to be altered greatly in order to achieve victory.

Imperial

Imperial has you owning shares of countries that you buy stock in, the person with the most stock controls that country and performs that countries actions. This little aspect makes the brutal attacking and cutthroat blocking seem less critical, since you have interest in more than country. What I mean is, in other wargames, if you are Germany, and you get attacked, it is a big deal and you feel the pressure of trying o defend, well in Imperial, since you only own shares in Germany, it is not such a kick in the gut when something bad happens. So when Austria is dominating the game and kicking Germany’s ass, you can simply buy stock in Austria. I definitely need to play this again because I am intrigued and it is deep enough that I haven’t begun to truly grasp the strategy during my one play.

Saint Petersburg

St. Petersburg is a card game where you buy cards from a row of up to 8 cards in player order. There are four types of cards, workers produce money, buildings produce VP’s, aristocrats produce money (but less than workers) but provide end game VP’s, and the fourth type is trading cards which are basically special upgrades for each of the other three types. The game is played in phases, first the worker phase where workers are added to the board, then scored, and then it moves to building phase where buildings are purchased and scored, etc... In any case, it seems like a fine game but just another example of building your money train early and knowing when to switch gears to buying lots of VP generating cards. It is worth more play before I commit to really liking it or not.

Chinatown

This tile placement game is reminiscent of Aquire but has a nice trading element. Trading has some speculation but it is fairly static and you can too easily calculate the trade value making it kind of stagnant at times.

MarraCash

I don't have much to comment on this. I am thinking there must have been something we missed, becasue it seemed flat and way to short.
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45. Board Game: Iliad [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1960]
Mr. Frothingslosh
Canada
Caledon
Ontario
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I happily managed to play 9 new to me games this month.


The best for me was Iliad. A very cool card game of laying siege to your opponents using a variety of troops - hoplites, archers, chariots, and even trojan horses. The gameplay is sort of rock-paper-scissors, as some troop types can only be attacked by specific other troop types. There is a lot of strategy in knowing when to play your troops and when to save your cards for the next round.

The artwork on the cards is fantastic. I only played a 3 player game and am looking forward to playing with 4 so we can try 2 teams.


Colosseum Very impressive board and bits, which has been typical of the big box Days of Wonder games. Management of your funds and careful trading to produce the best possible events. I will say however, that while I did enjoy the game, I am glad that I did not buy Colosseum. I fear that there will not be much variation in repeated plays. 2 plays.


Power Grid: Factory Manager is so very similar to Power Grid but with more than a few twists to keep you engaged. A terrific game, but having played Power Grid first, it does not feel as clever. A lot of frustatingly fun decisions to make in Factory Manager. As a best 'new-to-you' it doesnn't pack the punch of Colosseum, but in the long run, this will be the better game. 1 play.


We had a lot of fun playing Nottingham. A very quick set collection game of stealing (trading really) cards back and forth to make the best sets, while trying to set ambushes to prevent your opponents from laying down theirs.

Kinda silly, but it delivers. 4 plays.


It will be hard to write about A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game without referencing Arkham Horror as they are quite similar. Touch of Evil is rather like an Arkham Horror 'lite'. Less fiddly which I like.

These kind of games are very dependent on the group you play with. I've had fantastic games of Arkham Horror but also horrible sessions where you just hope the game will end soon.

The components in Touch of Evil are top-notch. The board while rather boring looking is at least functional. I'll be glad to give this one another go. 1 play.


Kahuna is another good game from the Kosmos 2-player line. It is much more aggressive than either Lost Cities or Balloon Cup. Which also means my wife enjoys those other two games over Kahuna as well as she isn't a huge fan of the back-and-forth attack. For what it is worth, I liked Kahuna although I may need to play this one with my brother instead. 1 play.


Bakong is a quick and easy-to-learn follow the path game. The tiles are terrific - thick and colourful. The theme is fun too - a race to grab the gem from the temple and go back to start.

It may be a bit too simple. Roll the dice - use one to move and use the other to flip the tile by that die result ahead of you. It's a neat filler which I would be glad to play again. Plays in about 15-20 minutes (with rules explanation!). 2 plays.


Letter of Marque is nicely made but ultimately not a very good game. The ships and cards are very nicely detailed which is great but is really the best thing to look forward to in this game.

The box suggests a 45 minute time. This is just not true. With reading the rules, we played a three-player game in about 10 minutes. We reread the rules and confirmed we played correctly. Perhaps with more players there will be more to it, as you must try to remember what cards your opponents have already played.

Basically a bluffing game of did I protect my treasure card from your attack? There are more treasure cards than cannons to protect them, so you must bluff your way through to get the most points. That is unfortunately it. I guess it would make a good filler to play to start a game night, but there are a lot of better choices out there. 1 play.


Tiki Mountain! is a 'take-that' race game up a pathway for your token to attempt to sacrifice himself to the volcano god. Funny theme, but I really just don't like these kind of games.

Play as many cards as you like on your turn - some let you move farther, some let you avoid obstacles, and many screw with your opponents cards. It's not very novel and ultimately not very exciting. 1 play.
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46. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
Jason Lott
United States
Cheverly
Maryland
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This was a good month for me to try out new games, especially because Scott pulled out some early birthday gifts for me. The real day is next week, but he figured I would enjoy the day more if I had new games learned ahead of time!

Arkham Horror d10-9

Easily my favorite new game for the month, this one has vaulted right into my top 10. Lots of fun to be had in this game - each turn players are faced with a variety of choices. The different roles add some nice flavor and this game has a really strong theme. I think the only negatives are that you get more downtime as the number of players increase, and keeping track of all your pluses and minuses gets confusing. But on the whole this game is solid and if you have the time to play you'll be richly rewarded; it gets in your head and it's an experience you won't soon forget. I'm looking forward to trying it with just 4 players so we can try what others have identified as the sweet spot.

Mr. Jack d10-7

An early gift from Scott - neither of us is in love just yet. That being said - logic, deduction and planning are a real asset in this game and I appreciate that. I think the only downside is that luck can be a significant factor - if the character cards come up at the right/wrong time that can be a huge help/hindrance. I think it has potential and I look forward to trying it more.

Vikings d10-7

Another early gift; at the moment I'm a little undecided on this game. I appreciate how planning ahead is worth the effort and the rondel mechanism is intriguing. But it does feel that luck plays a significant factor due to the severely limited resources of gold.

Phoenicia d10-6

Our regular gaming buddy Steven got this as a Christmas gift, so we tried it out as quick as we could, after he had used the helpful rewrite of the rules found here on BGG. (Seriously, the existing rulebook is a mess.) This game is primarily about auctions with a good dose of money management involved. The theme is very much pasted on, but the cards and board are attractive. My issue with Phoenicia is the problem of a runaway leader (less of an impact for 2 players but likely with 4).


EXPANSIONS

Thurn and Taxis: Power and Glory d10-6

We just tried this over the weekend, not realizing we hadn't played it since receiving it as a Christmas gift. It really shouldn't be called an expansion of the base game - the only thing shared in common are the house pieces. In fact, if you had replacement tokens of some kind you could just own this. But...in general I find it to be less balanced than the original game and it's easier to have an "out" by laying down horses when you can't draw the right card. Given the choice I think I'd rather play the original. For now we're stuffing them both into one box.
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47. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: Survival of the Fittest [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
♫ Eric Herman ♫
United States
West Richland
Washington
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The addition of barricades for the Heroes and the grave weapons to give more character and tactics to the Zombies make this a must-have expansion for fans of the game, and the one scenario I played so far ("Supply Run") was a great one.





Castle Panic

A simple and fun cooperative game. We played with 6 players and the master slayer rules, which made it harder to survive (we didn't), but more of a crap shoot in terms of who would have won. With that many players, I think this would be better fully cooperative, but I think that the master slayer version would be great with 3-4 players.





Escape From Alcatraz

A nice Mystery Rummy variant that my friend, Andy, made for a contest. It plays really well and I love the theme and the integration of the theme into the game.





Chrononauts

I'd played the solo version of this before, and that's a halfway decent "solitaire-ish" kind of thing, but I'd never played the multiplayer version. It's a great concept and I like the way the timeline works, but then there are some Fluxx kind of things where you pass all your cards, or someone can basically look through the deck and pick out the card they need to win, and so it just becomes really arbitrary.





Clue Jr. - The Case of the Missing Cake

A fun idea and a simple version of the Clue game to play with my girls, but the movement rules are way too restrictive and made me wonder if they'd ever actually playtested this with kids. When your 5 year-old suggests a rule change that makes total sense, you've got to think that the design choice was a bad one. Anyway, this'll be fun enough using a house rule or two.





Imaginiff

I'd been thinking recently that I should get a couple of decent party games, and I noticed this at a thrift store and grabbed it. I still haven't played that copy, but I'm staying with my brother-in-law's family in Texas and they have a copy so we played it. It's really fun and I enjoyed it a lot, though I think it's the kind of thing where you have to know the people you're playing with to get the most out of it. So it's great for a family or good friends but probably wouldn't work as well with a general party group.





duck! duck! Go!

This was really fun, and may even be more tactical for the kind of thing it is than Roborally, which would be the obvious comparison.
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48. Board Game: Curling Table Game [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:6564]
Joe Huber

Westborough
Massachusetts
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I tend to put games on my want list because I have hope that I _might_ enjoy them. I've always had good luck in tracking down the games I've played and know I want, so while games on my want list have a better track record than my random acquisitions, there are many I haven't cared for.

In the case of Curling Table Game (boy, do I want to put a "The" at the front of that name), I actually judged correctly. One of my random ebay searches paid off, and after a bit of repair to a few of the stones the game with the table. (Literally; the board is heavy enough to do serious damage with, and better suited to use as a weapon than the awkward Allerley Spielerey.) And it's really quite enjoyable; not disimilar to Rebound, but requiring a good deal more finesse and strategy. It's not often that a dexterity game strikes home with me, but this one definitely has.

The other contender for my favorite new-to-me game of the month was an unpublished prototype, albeit one under contract. I have some reservations with one aspect of the game, but it's one that's easily removed with a house rule.

Other new-to-me games of January:

Vasco da Gama - not a bad little game, but after four plays I'm done with it.

Romeo & Julia - wanting to like a game is not sufficient to actually enjoy it. I'm not sure there's any game designer around who could benefit more from a good developer than Jean du Poel...

Witch of Salem - not my thing at all, but the company was so enjoyable that I enjoyed the game.

Affenzahn - bizarre speed-reaction game. I don't need more speed-reaction games, particularly.

Blindside - mediocre traditional-style trick taking card game, with a specialized deck.

Confusion - excellent game, just not my type.

Shifty Gear Game - what a great idea. Now if only it worked as a game...

Twins - bad Knizia. No biscuit.

Wild Wechsel - fascinating early Hans im Glueck game. Not my thing, but very playable.

World Without End - a bunch of positives - none moreso than the fact that it feels like an entirely different game than Pillars of the Earth - but in the end, I'd rather play In the Year of the Dragon.
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49. Board Game: Vasco da Gama [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:537]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Eight new games for me this month, plus a few excellent expansions. As usual, I'll list 'em in roughly decreasing order of enthusiasm, and with game before expansions.


Vasco da Gama -- (1 play) A
(images by frappy & henk.rolleman)

My "Most Substantial Brain-Burn" award for January.

Ok; admittedly some of that is my own fault. It's a bit like my first lamented play of El Grande where I tried to do a two move lookahead, and ended up melting my brain into a headache and not really enjoying the game at all. In this case, I'm a bit older and wiser - so I wasn't quite attempting the same exhaustive prediction that I might have foolishly tried as a younger fellow. But I also wasn't looking at the right things for much of the begining of the game; there's a lovely rhythm to the game that slowly came in to view as the turns passed.

That's not to say that I understand Vasco da Gama at all. I probably don't. But I'd be delighted to play again. My difficulty may be in finding opponents: this isn't really the style of game preferred by my regular crew, and it's too long for a lunch slot at work. In the end, this is the sort of game that I might buy hoping to get it to the table only to have it languish on the shelf for months or years without a play, taunting me all the while with its unrealized gaming goodness.

In any event, many thanks to Dave for the introduction to this one. I really enjoyed it.


Gunslinger -- (1 play) A
(images by cleonhard & Alex777)

A "Most Immersive Theme-Rich Play" award. W00t!

For those of you that don't like such things: please move along; nothing to see here.

For those of you that do: have you played Gunslinger yet? Why not? This is a brutal, fast-paced, unforgiving, old-fashioned function-over-form amazing game experience. I spent much of the game woozily leaking precious bodily fluids onto the dry dirt of the corral floor, all the while ineffectually trying to put a round from my '45 into the bastard that had winged me. Yeah, I lost. But it was worth it. Thanks again, Dave, Tom & Paul; I'll get you next time.


Power Grid: Factory Manager -- ( play) A
(images by Henning & kneumann)

The "Most Tractable Gamer's Game" award for January.

I'd heard this one described as "dry" and "mechanical". I didn't find it that way at all! Like the random cost basis in Vasco da Gama, I found the random increase in energy costs to be a net benefit for me in ensuring that things were not perfectly calculable. As a result, I was happy to play by gradient rather than precise valuation. The experience was delightfully interesting, despite my having grievously undervalued several of the variables at the beginning of the game, and failing to explore at least one of the subsystems (temporary workers) throughout.

We managed to play a first game - with rules explanations - in less than an hour. I could easily imagine this one going over really well as a lunchtime game at work; so it's definitely one I'll buy. Thanks for this experience go again to Dave.


Runewars -- (1 play) A-
 
(images by shnar & Jasta)

Two awards here: "Largest Box in Play" and "Most Ridiculous Promotion of Trivial Scraps of Plastic"

Yeah, with that latter award I'm talking about those "mountains." Don't get me wrong here, Oh FFG Fanboiz & Fangrrlz; this is a really fine game. But mountains? Please. Catan 3D has mountains.

Ahem.

Now that I've got that out of the way.

This is cool. And it plays cleanly. Our first play ran at around 4h with copious rules explanations. It could easily play faster with practice. The combat system is nontrivially interesting; the various subsystems fit strangely well together; the factions are interestingly different; the minis are distinct and clear from across the table. I found it much more compellingly interesting than Chaos in the Old World (to choose a recent well-hyped title), for example. Thanks to Tom for this introduction.


Robotory -- (1 play) A-
(images by cookinjr & tom-le-termite)

The "Lightest Weight Game Package" award for January.

Yeah, we're talking 46g of gaming goodness here. (That's about an ounce and a half for my measure-challenged countrypersons.)

This one was a gift from John (Thanks, John!) Managed to drag it out for one fast & fleeting play with Daughter #1 (She's pretty cool: not only is she willing to play strange new games with her decrepit old father, but she also won both this play and the first instance of the next title too.) Imagine a nontrivial game which can be explained in a minute and played in five. No problem, right? There are loads of things in that camp that one might never want to try again. Now imagine that at the end of the game one is stuck pondering how it all went down for far longer than the game took to play. This feels like a fine Kris Burm filler.


Alea Iacta Est -- (2 plays) B+
(Both images provided by Werbaer)

The "Foreign Language Edition" prize holder for January.

Which is a bit weird, since the English edition just came out. Nonetheless, this was the first time I'd seen a copy. Bay had a copy at our monthly BAP game day. I missed out on the game due to a really fine session of Vasco da Gama, so he was kind enough to loan me the game for the weekend. Daughter #1 and I took it out for a spin - and then immediately played it again on completion.

It's fun. Might be more interesting with more than two players, too. Subjectively, it's got a lot less downtime than something like Can't Stop or To Court the King and less placement angst than Kingsburg. Of the die-rolling games that get play in my house, it's probably closest in feel to something trivial and fast like Pickomino, but with the addition of a few not-terribly-taxing additional variables. Bonus: My daughter thought it was Really Fun. Thanks, Bay!


Valdora -- (1 play) B
(images by mschacht & lacxox)

The "Shallowest Learning Gradient" prize holder.

Really, that prize is far more a reflection of the competition than any suggestion that Valdora is other than a good game: it's fine. It just isn't quite as spectacular as its competition.

My reservation here isn't in the presentation - which is lovely - but instead in the random appearance of backpacks or orders at the various cities. While the players' operational efficiencies are indeed relevant to the outcome, I think that the card draw may have a progressively greater influence on the final score - and particularly once all the players have given the game a few tries. It was fun, but it looks like there's just not that much there to learn. So: a fine "family" game. Despite my lack of effusive praise, I'm still really thankful to Richard for the introduction.


Summoner Wars -- (1 play) B-
(Both images by screamingtruth)

The "Game I'd Known the Least About Prior to Play" prize holder.

It seems to me to be in the same family as the couple of Dan Verssen's Lightning series that I've played, in being a substantially war-themed (I hesitate to dub anything definitively a Wargame; but this is closer to that ideal than Small World is by a long shot) asymmetric cardgame with a strong hand-management element. In Summoner Wars the asymmetry is realized by different fantasy factions with different characteristics.

Gameplay is pretty streamlined; combat resolves quickly; the presentation is clear. It's a nice package from a small publisher. My only quibble is the battle mat: I'd normally place plexiglass on top of a paper map, but that'd make it too hard to pick the cards up! If I owned a copy, I might be tempted to iron the creases out of the mat to let it lie flat!


Agricola: Farmers of the Moor -- (1 play) A
(images by the_pirate & henk.rolleman)

The "Most Enthusiastically Welcomed Expansion in My House" award.

This one is easy to explain. Remember the delightful daughter mentioned above? The highlight of her summers are the couple weeks spent at Horse Camp. Suggest that there's an expansion for one of her favourite titles that includes Horsieples: yes, the enthusiasm was palpable before we even knew how it played.

Delightfully, the mechanics proved both entirely tractable (we had no difficulty integrating the new expansion rules and bits into our game) but also provided some interesting timing quandaries regarding selection of the bonus actions. In the end, it was a complete success - both aesthetically and in terms of gameplay.


Blue Moon: The Flit, Blue Moon: The Khind, Blue Moon: The Mimix, Blue Moon: The Terrah -- (2 plays) A-
(images by Debate, Honey, and two by DjihEf)

The "Premature Invocation of Expansions" prize for January.

I'd only played Blue Moon once before with the basic decks. I wouldn't begin to claim I had a good handle on how to play those decks well, so these new ones were a modest conceptual challenge. Fortunately my opponent was far more competent than I, so the new elements were explained as needed.

So despite the fact that these weren't "needed" in any reasonable sense of the word, it was really fun to experience the new variables added to the Blue Moon system. Thanks for the games, Dave!


Wits & Wagers Expansion Pack 1 -- (1 play) A-
(Both images by chaddyboy_2000)

The "Worst Graphical Match Between Base and Expansion" prize.

Ok; truth in advertising: I expect that the expansion pack works much better with a 2nd edition Wits & Wagers set. But I've one of those excellent 1st edition copies with the nice rubberized play mat. And the new questions are distinctly smaller and brighter colored than the old. So shuffling the two piles together (my original inclination before opening the expansion box) was right out of the question.

So how are the questions? Silly fun. Just like they should be. Are they better than the old ones? Well, not that I noticed. But they're certainly no worse. And the extra variety is great.


All told, it was a fine month for games: I was very fortunate.

[ Edited to add mention of Farmers of the Moor ]
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