A games marathon - Abridged edition.
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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Note: A much longer edition of this list is available here.
This list includes only short game summaries and the day end summaries from the longer list. Meanwhile the longer list tells the full story of the marathon. It is really long - you've been warned.

If you enjoy the lengthy one, please thumb both lists. If you prefer this shorter version, please at least thumb it.




At the end of 2009, one of my best friends, Assaf (assafby) came to visit me. We did plenty of non-gaming activities, but for 12 days we also finished a games marathon.

This list is devoted to the games we played during his visit. Games appear in the order we played them. With one exception, a game we played several times is listed only once, according to when we first played it.
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1. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:293]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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Really great game. While short and with extremely simple rules and seemingly a lot of luck due to the draw of the deck, it is to me a brilliant game of managing risk. Getting the most out of tough hands takes practice and skill.

This was our first game of the marathon (I won 107 to Assaf's 106). We played it again several more times.
 
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2. Board Game: Blue Moon [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:882]
Ishai BD
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Mountain View
California
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We played the basic game a few times during the marathon. A really good game that I'm just eager to play again. The sides are different yet overall balanced. The game feels like a CCG with all the cool combos, but at its core it's full of several short battles, during which knowing when to quit a fight and start a new one is key.

A lot of fun.
 
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3. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:92] [Average Rating:7.58 Unranked]
Ishai BD
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Mountain View
California
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A very good game as well. Production values are great. It's not very short but remains interesting throughout. A great game in my collection that draws people new to the hobby in. We played it a couple of times during the marathon, the 2nd time with another friend of mine that joined us.
 
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4. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:334]
Ishai BD
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Mountain View
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The scoring makes for a very interesting game. You don't want to just maximize the number of points you get, since you could leave a color or two behind and lose. You don't want to balance too much, because you'll then make very slow progress in accumulating scores and miss on big scoring opportunities. Plus you need to keep track of which colors are drying out and block or score before they are dry at the right time.

Excellent game, though not a memorable experience in the marathon. We played only once. I won. Assaf didn't enjoy or find it very interesting. In the marathon it was just another game.
 
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5. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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This is my favorite game. It's not very long. It's very competitive. It's full of auctions but to me is not a game about auctions but about control. Taking control or giving it away with whatever sun distribution is great. While the rules (other than scoring) are ridiculously simple, the decisions are difficult. Winning with a few killer moves feels great. Losing when someone made a great move is cool too. Taking risks is exciting and even with luck at times playing a big role (when one is running alone pushing their luck) it's still a lot of fun.

Works great for 2 or 3, this is a game I can't get enough of.
 
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6. Board Game: Schotten Totten [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:366]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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A very nice game. I like it but don't quite love it. We played it twice in the marathon (winning one each). The simplicity of the rules and the element of playing just to expose information so that a proof can be made are the high points. I'm still at a loss as to what to do in my first 5+ turns of the game. Basically I just try to keep my options open somehow and pray for some good luck.


End of day summary:
This was our last game for day 1 of the marathon. We managed to play 7 times (with 6 different games) on the first day. The score so far was 5-2 in my favor, and Assaf made it all the way to 10pm, which was a very good way to fight the jet lag.
 
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7. Board Game: Great Wall of China [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:2264]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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I think this is a pretty good game, but it's only ok with 2 players. We played it once as a 2 player game and it wasn't very exciting for either of us.
 
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8. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:258]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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A very good game. The fact that characters work well against or with other characters or in certain positions on the board means one can make educated guesses but also bluffs against the other players educated guesses. Then the cards add so much to the game. Plus it really captures the essence of Lord of the Rings: The fellowship is trying to sneak Frodo into Mordor against a stronger force, and they can do it by being sneaky and smart.

We played 4 times in the marathon (switching sides between games). Assaf won all 4. It was a sweep.
 
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9. Board Game: Manila [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:623]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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This game is very fun. The betting but also the various manipulating as a harbor master or by the pilots and pirates (especially the pirates) makes this one exciting. The board is beautiful and the gameplay is simple and fun. The only main drawback is the sensitivity to seating order, i.e. how hard being harbor master affects the last player (especially in 4 or 5 player games).

The game may have limited replayability compared to other games, but overall it's just fun to play.


End of day summary:
We ended up playing 5 games during day 2 of the marathon. So far we were getting to play a lot. (Our pace was going to slow down later on though.)

At the end of the 2nd day, I was still in the lead, but only barely. The score was 6-5 in my favor. For the purpose of this count, by the way, ties or games that neither Assaf nor I won do not count.
 
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10. Board Game: Mykerinos [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:796]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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A very nice short game of area control. The 2 player variant is pretty good. We played it once. It wasn't that exciting, I guess, to warrant another game during the marathon.
 
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11. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:308]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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An interesting, intense and quite heavy game. We played with a friend who joined us. Ultimately we didn't quite have as much fun with this as I had expected. Assaf won that single time we played and he finds the game to be repetitive.


End of day summary:
We finished the day with a 3 player game of Ticket to Ride: Europe. It was a pretty intense and close game but I managed to win with 111 (Assaf and my friend each had 106).

We played 5 times during that day. The score at the end of the 3rd day of the marathon was 8-8. We were tied.
 
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12. Board Game: Blue Moon City [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:500]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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A very nice game. The dual nature of the cards is very cool, and trying to contribute all around is interesting. In the marathon it was just another game with no strong desire for either of us to play it again.


End of day summary:
We managed to play a game of Blue Moon after Blue Moon City. (We actually fought hard and destroyed what we've just built.)

With a total of 3 games played (all by Knizia) on the 4th day, I got the lead with 11-8 in my favor.
 
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13. Board Game: Pocket Battles: Celts vs. Romans [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:2188] [Average Rating:6.47 Unranked]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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This is a nice game not much more. The rules are long and complicated and the game coming in a small package is not really much of an advantage since it does take up more more table space then the package would lead you to expect. We played it once and I don't expect to ask to play it again, but I may not resist playing if someone really wants to.

I won the game playing the Celts.
 
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14. Board Game: Beowulf: The Movie Board Game [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:2208]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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This game is ok. Overall the underlying system is solid (though Knizia has done much better stuff later) and the game is somewhat on the dry side (in an abstract, more mathy kind of way, not necessarily a bad thing). The reason it's only ok is that it suffers from two issues (both probably new to this remake and not in the original Kingdoms / Auf Heller und Pfennig):
1. Certain tiles are game changes and bring just too much to the game.
2. It overstays its welcome. The extra boards do not add that much to the game and it feels repetitive.

I could be wrong - played it only once. Not really sure I'll play it again.

Assaf won the game (not just because of luck!).

End of day summary:
We finished the day with a game of Ra. After playing 7 times the first day and 5 times the next day, this last two days we played 3 times each. We were slowing down!

My lead was growing: It was now 13-9 in my favor.
 
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15. Board Game: To Court the King [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1411]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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A nice game of engine building where the engine is made of dice manipulations and cards give the player the upgrades. So using dice one gets cards that give one better ways to manipulate more dice and get better upgrades, etc. We played the game where I work with fellow co-workers. We didn't enjoy the experience so much given that there was a lot of downtime and as beginner's we felt left out of the game. For the most part it was mainly a multiplayer-solitaire experience.

The score I keep did not change as one of my fellow co-workers won the game.
 
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16. Board Game: Tower of Babel [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1323]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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A very interactive area control game. What's really great is how on every player's turn all the players have something to do. Contributing can be useful, getting a disc could be good too and even getting one's offer rejected has its advantages. This game was one of the best games of the marathon, exceeding the high expectations I had from it.

We did not play with the special cards! It does not appear like they will add anything good to the game (but might ruin it on occasion).

Assaf won the game.
 
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17. Board Game: Batt'l Kha'os [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:3058]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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A nice tile placement game for 2 players that is similar to Kingdoms. (In both games some tiles give a score and others decide which player gets that score - the similarities go beyond that but only to a certain point).
The game was not very exciting and I don't feel it was very compelling or added something particularly fresh. Just another nice game that I won't object to playing but won't really try to play.

Assaf won the game easily.

End of day summary:
We finished the day with another game of the ever popular Lost Cities. The score at the end of the 6th day was 14-11 to me.
 
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18. Board Game: Around the World in 80 Days [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1321]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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On its surface this game has quite a few interesting ideas and mechanics. However I find that none of them affect the result of the game much. It's really a race where getting pairs of equal numbers matters the most and a lot of the other aspects are just some sort of gravy. Perhaps it's good as a family game.

The above is based on playing the game a few times. In the marathon we played a variant for 2 players that Assaf came up with. He won.

End of day summary:
Day 7 ended with Assaf winning the single game session of the day. The score was now 14-12 in my favor.
 
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19. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:267]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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A good worker placement game where the workers being placed are dice. The game is interesting and looks really nice. Long term it may not offer too much replayability (the building paths do not offer a lot of variety) and in some instances the game could have a lot of downtime as one is figuring out the placement options for themselves and all the other players.

I won the game.

End of day summary:
Another day ended and so far we played 29 times. Given that the last couple of days saw one game play a day, getting to complete a marathon seemed much harder. This was fatigue after running for so long, but slowing down this last couple of days may have given us enough renewed energy to push further.

The score was 15-12. I maintained my lead.
 
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20. Board Game: Colossal Arena [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:754]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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This is a very good game for 2-3 players. It is simple and interesting and the special powers add a lot of excitement. The secret bets are also a great addition.

I won the game.
 
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21. Board Game: Vikings [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:311]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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A good economic game that feels very Euro to me. It has some interesting ideas and it works well, but overall there's nothing great about it in terms of the interaction or the fun factor. My wife really likes the game, which is a big plus, and overall, I'm happy to have it.

I won.

End of day summary:
We managed to play 5 times during the 9th day of the marathon. Including the practice session of H:RvC, we were certainly back in business. Finishing the marathon seemed, for a second, easy.

At the end of the day I was still in the lead: 17-15.
 
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22. Board Game: Mr. Jack in New York [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:608]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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End of day summary:
We played 1 game of Lost Cities during the 10th day. I won. At the end of a very nice day, with hardly any gaming, the score was 18-15 to me.

Mr. Jack in New York (the following day)
A very interesting deduction game for 2 players. A bit of a brain burner since a single mistake can easily cost the game. Quite different than all my other games so this adds nicely to my collection. It's a good game but not one I am eager to play often.

End of day summary:
In the 11th day of the marathon we played 3 times. Assaf won them all. As a result we were, once more, tied. The score was 18-18.
 
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23. Board Game: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:138]
 
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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Wow! What a great game. I bought it as a gift to Assaf for visiting and while reading the rules and even getting a practice run at the game was a scary thing and a lot of hard work, it was all worth it. At the hard this is an epic game of area control with a big story arc and a lot of historic feel. See the longer list for more details!

We only played 1 full game (sort of) and it ended in a tie (the only tie in the marathon).

End of day summary:
We played a few more games that day. The score after 12 days and 41 times playing board or card games was 20-18 in my favor. Was this how the marathon was going to end just shy of the target number of sessions?
 
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24. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:293]
Ishai BD
United States
Mountain View
California
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It was morning of day 13. I took Assaf to the airport and we got to play 1 last game of Lost Cities, which I brought with me there. I won that game. I picked Assaf 12 days earlier at around noon. 12 days later we finished playing 42 times exactly. I won the final game and the marathon ended with 21-18 in my favor.

End of Marathon Summary:
We played 42 times, playing 23 different games.

Our most played game was Lost Cities. We played it 6 times in the marathon. I won all 6 - a sweep. The first game was the closest one with me winning by 1 point. Later on I even won two of the games by winning every round.

Most other games we played once or twice only. There were 3 more games we played 4 times in the marathon: Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation, Blue Moon, and Ra.

Assaf won all LotR:tC games we played. It felt like I was learning how to play the last game properly while Assaf was learning how to play the next one better. Or maybe I made too many mistakes. Assaf dominated this one.

I won 3 out of our 4 games in each of Ra and Blue Moon.

28 times (out of 42) we played a game by Reiner Knizia, my favorite designer. The 4 most played games above are all his designs. Even in terms of unique games we played, 12 were by Reiner Knizia and 11 were designed by others.

We played a lot! It's pretty astonishing how much gaming and non-gaming we got to do in 12 full days. It was intense. At times it was hard. At times we weren't sure we'll finish a marathon (it would be easy to rewrite this with an original plan of playing 30 games in 12 days or something...). Most of all it was a lot of fun.

Here are my top games from the marathon (in no particular order):

1. Lost Cities
2. Ra
3. Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation
4. Blue Moon
5. Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage
6. Tower of Babel
7. Ticket to Ride: Europe
8. Colossal Arena

The end.
 
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