Second year of gaming: 2011
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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My second year of gaming and a list of games that are new/significant along the way.
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76. Board Game: Strasbourg [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:919]
Board Game: Strasbourg
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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A very typical Euro - some placement and area control, auctions, and buying/selling of goods - but it was quite good fun. Whether that's entirely because all of our strategies (all first-time players) failed so disastrously or not is another matter... I'm not sure I would find it as much fun if I started to treat it like an engine optimisation problem, but it was good for a play and had some interesting things going for it.
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77. Board Game: Olympos [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1176]
Board Game: Olympos
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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I liked some of the mechanics of the game but, as with a lot of Euros, the interaction (and for me, the fun level) was a bit too low. It felt like at the lighter end of strategy/engine-building fare nonetheless and, since there's such a huge array of possible paths to take, I have a feeling won't be popular with some hardcore gamers - it just seems a bit too chaotic and I don't get the feeling that the engine you can build is that powerful. So it's more about making incremental tactical games and taking it a bit turn-by-turn.

I liked the time-track mechanic, though, and it was okay, if far from great.
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78. Board Game: Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:372]
Board Game: Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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I've been wanting to play Labyrinth for while, and Twilight Struggle is one of my favourite games. I already knew they were very different beyond a few mechanics, and that was certainly the case. Unfortunately, the game just didn't play that well for me. It's hard to judge something this complex after one play, but I felt like there was a lot of repetition in the play that weren't helped by the dice rolls. And this is from someone who likes a bit of randomness in a game... but often the game seemed to come down to "oh, I have 50/50 chance of making progress... spend 3 ops... Oh, I've failed. Try again next turn".

Labyrinth seemed to be lacking the story arc that Twilight Struggle has. It's more of a wargame, I feel, and possibly I enjoy games with slightly clearer direction more (as the scoring cards in TS do steer actions more), and maybe with more knowledge of the potential events I'd have more of a steer as to which countries are important, but still it just didn't grab me. Oh well.
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79. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:703]
Board Game: Forbidden Island
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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I'm a big Pandemic fan although I only play it with friends, not real gamers... oh, wait, I've just insulted everybody... never mind... but anyway, Forbidden Island is very much a simplified version. It's a fun game, although because there's less to do I also felt like I had less control over what went on in the game. Still, it's fast and enjoyable, and the "get to the chopper!" endgame is much more satisfying than leaving a disease-ridden Pandemic board behind.
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80. Board Game: Mystery of the Abbey [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1298]
Board Game: Mystery of the Abbey
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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I'd read a bit about this game, and how it was a relatively lightweight deduction game, and I have to admit I used to love Cluedo when I was younger. Not so much for the gameplay, as it usually just came down to whoever stumbled into the right room first, but because my dad was always 20 minutes behind everyone else. Mystery of the Abbey was fun almost solely down to the interaction and is probably at the top of the gaming scale on fun divided by gameplay. I'm not sure how many times I could play it, but definitely a few more at least. Of course, it needs a group that doesn't take itself too seriously.
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81. Board Game: Nexus Ops [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:442]
Board Game: Nexus Ops
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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I started off thinking the game was just "okay", but it grew on me as it went on and I started to see some more of the strategies and the way mission cards would build up and even out. It's never going to be one of my favourite games but there's certainly a time and a place when I'd happily play it.
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82. Board Game: Mansions of Madness [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:368]
Board Game: Mansions of Madness
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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I'd been looking for an opportunity to play MoM for a while and, having not played Arkham Horror yet, I didn't really have much to be able to nail any expectations. In short: I really enjoyed it. It's not perfect in that the gameplay does seem a bit prescriptive at times, since we were basically doing a pick-up-and-deliver with clues and keys whilst struggling through monsters on the way, but it creates a great experience on the way.

Unlike some games that are claimed to be highly thematic yet can come across to me as actually very systematic (e.g. Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game), the theme here really does drive the game. I felt like I needed to consider what my thicko-marksman character was and wasn't able to do before going into a situation, and let others take over where appropriate, and his complete inability to evade even the slowest of clan members was quite amusing. Especially amusing was one character's suicide through trying to run with a broken leg.

I like Tales of the Arabian Nights quite a bit and this struck me as similar in the way it generated stories, but MoM has much more game to it. It's a little long to play every session, at 3 hours for our game (with only 1 experience player and 3 newbies), but very engaging all the way through.
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83. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:89]
Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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My first play was approached with some trepidation since this game is so well-regarded, and generally I don't seem to take to some of the classic Euros too well... And it wasn't helped by having the rules explained to me at 11pm. But, I think I kind of liked it... a bit... It's too complex to tell after one play. Maybe if I hadn't won - by quite some way - then I might have liked it less. Although to be honest, I didn't really know how I managed to get half my points. It just seemed that I had the right tiles in hand when a few bigger wars were fought near the end.

Definitely interesting and would definitely play again, and then maybe I'll be able to say whether it's actually fun or not.
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84. Board Game: Palastgeflüster [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1514]
Board Game: Palastgeflüster
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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Palastgeflüster was initially baffling, given that so much of the text was in German (although with an English reference card) and the icons weren't exactly intuitive. Oh, and the artwork, although good, can all look the same from a distance. But, the game itself was quite good fun in a "take that!" kind of way. The only problem was that after 4 rounds, taking about half hour, we were all on 3 points each and with no immediate end in sight. It actually felt like it would be fairly satisfactory as a single-round free-for-all and I enjoyed it on the basis of a filler, but not so much if it starts to creep towards an hour.
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85. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:217]
Board Game: Navegador
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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I'm not a huge fan of low-interaction economic Euros, but I liked Navegedor a lot more than most. Maybe it was the fact I won... But anyway, the game seemed to click with me fairly early on, and I liked the way strategies changed as you spotted opportunities to cash-in on the work that others were doing. The end-game was a bit too drawn out, and consequently the play time was definitely too long, but that could have been a side-effect of the fact that we played somewhat sub-optimally.

The other downside is that I can't see this working very well with a mixed ability group - it's definitely one for a bunch of gamers who are used to Euro optimisation/engine-building. Since there are few ways to directly affect what others are doing it seems to lack much of a catch-up or leader-bash mechanism, hence making our slow endgame even worse.
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86. Board Game: Star Borders: Humanity [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:7142] [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked]
Board Game: Star Borders: Humanity
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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A mini-wargame, completely with different ships, multiple strategies and combat dice. A lot to pack into a small packet, and quite fast to pick up and play. I think the dice have a lot of say, and the ending can be very swingy, but taken as it is it's quite good fun.
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87. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:329]
Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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I like the combination of deckbuilding reflecting a growing colony - in a way that Dominion mentions in the instructions and then never really cares about again. Here the mechanics, cards and theme seem to fit together well. The game plays slightly too long in my opinion, and it's another one with a slightly strange endgame. I'd also like a scoring track since it can often be to one player's advantage to end the game but before deciding that they need to count up all the points on the board - which can be somewhat tedious after the fourth time. One game I played I won because my opponent assumed they were in the lead and built their last town.

I also discovered that if you build your deck in the wrong way then the game can be a frustrating experience. Playing as the French, it's hard to settle new areas. I didn't realise this and so halfway through the game was stuck with discarding one card and skipping my second action. Although I know a lot of games need a few plays, the lack of remedy was a bit frustrating.

Still, I'd definitely play it a few more times again.
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88. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:80]
Board Game: Troyes
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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A Euro-optimisation game that pretends to be a dice game. It's a clever set of mechanics, especially the way that rolling bad dice doesn't really hurt you that much since you can just steal (okay, buy) your opponent's. It seemed to induce a bit much AP at the start, and the card symbols are a bit bewildering. And strangely for a dice game it seemed that the card draws were the largest random element.

Although interesting in lots of ways, it never made it to fun.
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89. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:518]
Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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Slightly Stratego-like in the rules, but really nothing like Stratego in the way it plays. So fast that it's difficult to really have a strategy, but there definitely are strategies to be had... It's just that sometimes your setup will make it either impossible or easy to execute. Still, it seems like a lot of confrontational fun to fit into a 30 minute game, and it's not even a card game at that. So far the forces of Sauron have won both games but, even as the white forces are being demolished the game still seems in the balance given how tricksy Frodo seems to be in his retreating. I think I'll be playing this quite a bit.
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90. Board Game: Queen's Ransom [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:10887]
Board Game: Queen's Ransom
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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Two games in and I've still not yet worked out any element of skill in this (ultra-)light deduction game. Will have to try it with more than 3 to see if there's anything that can be divulged from everyone else's turns, as so far it seems to come down to pot luck. Still, it's pleasant enough and very (ultra-)fast.
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91. Board Game: Snow Tails [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:732]
Board Game: Snow Tails
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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This seemed surprisingly thematic given the very abstract card playing rules, and I enjoyed it a lot. Another one to try with more players to see if blocking changes the game substantially as otherwise it's largely a puzzle to solve, but with the random element of "which cards will I draw?" keeping things not-quite-certain. I'd add it to my wishlist except I'm not sure how often I'd get to play it and it seems a bit pricey given that.
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92. Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:693]
Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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I'd played this on the iPod and, although okay, hadn't thought a great deal of it. Face-to-face adds just enough interaction to make it a lot more fun, though. Vastly superior to any light dice game I've played before and also on the edge of wish-listing.
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93. Board Game: Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:2053]
Board Game: Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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Another one of those games with epic sweep and ambitions, confusing rules, but actually relatively simple to play. Not particularly my kind of game, unfortunately, and in my opinion has a few flaws. A low number of dice rolls which can nevertheless drastically affect the flow of the game being one; the seeming imbalance of some of the actions being another; the relatively common problem that trying to bash the leader is only possible at the expense of your own strategy being a third. I'm sure more subtlety would unfold with more plays with the same group of players growing in experience, but I don't feel it worth investing the time to get there.
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94. Board Game: Cape Horn [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:6076]
Board Game: Cape Horn
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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There's a decent idea in here somewhere, but it doesn't quite flow from the game. A lot of things are slightly counter-intuitive and it suffers a bit from the exploding possibilities of an abstract, making it difficult to anticipate and counter other players moves. It's an okay game, but I think could have been better.
 
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95. Board Game: For Sale [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:295]
Board Game: For Sale
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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A genius of a mechanic in spending money to buy cards, and then selling them back again. Good fun, very simple, yet very engaging, and I was terrible at it. It almost seems like a game everyone should have in their collection to bring out and blow non-gamers minds with.
 
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96. Board Game: Alien Frontiers [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:226]
Board Game: Alien Frontiers
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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One of the buzz games of 2010, and I liked this better than Troyes - possibly because of the slightly speedier gameplay. Not perfect by any means and not something I'll necessarily look for a game of, but not one I'd turn down either. Depending on dice rolls it seemed that choices were either obvious ("colonise") or AP-inducingly unclear. Still, an interesting design and a good feel to it.
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97. Board Game: Thunder Road [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:3057]
Board Game: Thunder Road
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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A pretty silly kids game from the 80's with a Mad Max road-race theme. Ridiculously luck-driven, but quite good fun for one play. Not much else to be said for it apart from a cheap laugh, though.
 
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98. Board Game: Endeavor [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:279]
Board Game: Endeavor
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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I turned down the opportunity to play this the first time as I wasn't in the mood to learn yet another Euro, but I enjoyed Endeavor quite a bit in the end. Fast playing, quite simple, but with quite a lot of depth as well. There were a lot of options (conquer, explore, or settle) packed into simple fairly simple gameplay, and none of it seeming too dry. A very good light and luck-free Euro.
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99. Board Game: Scarab Lords [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:3907] [Average Rating:6.03 Unranked]
Board Game: Scarab Lords
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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A cheap eBay purchase, and a very un-Knizian Knizia game. Wild swings and slightly odd rules mean this is going to be a complete miss with some people, although I think there's more game here than meets the eye after a single play. It's never going to be one of my favourites in any case but for something with a of back and forth and a higher luck and randomness quotient than you'd expect from Knizia it deserves the odd outing.
 
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100. Board Game: Samurai [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:205]
Board Game: Samurai
Karl Bunyan
United Kingdom
London
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A game I'd played a lot on the iPod and finally got hold of a physical copy, and found out that everyone else liked it too. I think this is one of the best designs I've played, in terms of simplicity, play time, yet decision-making depth. Only the slightly odd scoring mechanism lets it down slightly, and then only slightly... Possibly also turn order is more significant than most games that have been released since, but still a real classic.
 
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