Seriously Underrated Games
Bruce Linsey
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East Greenbush
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This is a list of games which are seriously underrated. The first ten listings are mine; I've mentioned where the game ranks on my own Top 500 list and where it ranks on BGG as well, both as of March 11, 2005. Feel free to add your own entries; I'd like to see which games other people regard as underrated too!
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1. Board Game: Vegas [Average Rating:4.98 Overall Rank:14244]
Bruce Linsey
United States
East Greenbush
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My rank: 74. BGG rank: 2106. This is Reiner Knizia's hidden gem. Maybe it's not quite up there with Tigris or Modern Art, but it's been a hit at several of our game cons. Sure, it's a dicefest, but there is plenty of strategy too, and dice-rolling has rarely been this fun. Try this game before you knock it! It gets my vote as the most underrated game of them all.
 
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2. Board Game: Empire Builder [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:951]
Bruce Linsey
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East Greenbush
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My rank: 1. BGG rank: 551. My all-time favorite game; a shame to see it rank so low on the Geek. Most of the criticisms levied against it just aren't so. There is plenty of player interaction if you have several players in the game, and downtime is minimal among experienced players, though I agree it's slow with newbies who don't know the map. My wife and I can play the basic game in a little over an hour, but we both prefer my variation called Super Sadistic Advanced Empire Builder, in which many aspects of the game are made more challenging. I must have played this game around 400 times, and it never grows old.
 
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3. Board Game: Upbid [Average Rating:4.61 Unranked]
Bruce Linsey
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East Greenbush
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My rank: 57. BGG rank: unranked, but the few ratings which are posted are quite low. The rules for this game needed a major revamping, which I've done. That notwithstanding, this game has a very cool system in which players must assess expected short- and long-term expected values of money cards and bid accordingly for them as they come up. By the way, if anyone can put me in touch with whoever designed and/or published this game, I'd be much obliged -- I've been trying for years to locate him/her/them.
 
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4. Board Game: Vernissage [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:5430]
Bruce Linsey
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My rank: 10. BGG rank: 1240. This fabulous game by Klaus Teuber holds its own against his more heralded masterpieces like Lowenherz, Settlers, and Adel Verpflichtet. Several interlocking systems which mesh well (I especially love how the agents work) and an eye-popping board make this game a hoot to play!
 
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5. Board Game: Neue Spiele im alten Rom [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:4129]
Bruce Linsey
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My rank: 23. BGG rank: 765. I need to elaborate here. When I ranked my Top 500 games, I ranked each game in a set such as New Games in Old Rome separately, and my #23 ranking is for the game Proconsul alone. But there are several other great games in the box: Circus Maximus, Imperium, Tribunal, and Hannibal vs. Rome. This whole set, then, is a great value and a must for any fan of Reiner Knizia's games. Proconsul itself is a terrific negotiation game.
 
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6. Board Game: Mush [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:10017]
Bruce Linsey
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My rank: 83. BGG rank: 1860. This was my favorite Alan Moon game for a long time, and I still enjoy it. Can't believe it ranks so low on the Geek. Gotta love those dog dice!
 
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7. Board Game: Minos [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:4599]
Bruce Linsey
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My rank: 94. BGG rank: 865. This gorgeous Ravensburger game holds its own in a crowded field of territorial conquest games set in the Mediterranean. I played this once at a Gathering of Friends some years ago and am eager to play again.
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8. Board Game: Extrablatt [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:3227]
Bruce Linsey
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East Greenbush
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My rank: 17. BGG rank: 334. This game isn't rated too badly on the BGG, but I think it's an absolute classic -- and with a ton of terrific bits! Like the more renowned Die Macher, also by Karl-Heinz Schmiel, it contains a terrific set of original mechanisms which work very well together. The scoring is a bit complicated out of necessity, but the game play is tense and exciting as players vie to construct the best newspaper layout. Plus, the commentary is wicked fun when you get to ruin your opponent's paper by placing a prostitute's ad right in the middle of his sports section...
 
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9. Board Game: Dschunke [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1824]
Bruce Linsey
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My rank: 59. BGG rank: 335. A wonderful game that no one ever seems to mention, but which everyone seems to enjoy playing when it hits the table. Again, the Geek rates it fairly high, just not nearly high enough.
 
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10. Board Game: Nur Peanuts! [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:6249]
Bruce Linsey
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My rank: 103. BGG rank: 1586. Another case of dice-rolling being just downright fun. Play the game only when you have exactly six players, however; the rules for fewer involve an unsatisfying dummy position. This is a light game, but great for lots of shits and giggles, groans and wiggles. (And with that remark, I see I'm getting punchy, so it's time to stop writing and get this list posted already!)
 
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11. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.40 Overall Rank:15327]
 
Mark D Lew
United States
Kirkland
Washington
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Monopoly isn't the greatest game in the world, but it's not nearly as bad as the garbage ratings it gets on BGG. Monopoly's rating is dragged down by people who played it wrong as a kid, ignoring the rules, and now think that's what the game is really like. Take a look at the picture here. Someone has put a $500 bill in the middle of the board. That's not Monopoly. The scarce resource in Monopoly is cash. Add a variant rule that throws extra cash in the game and it goes on forever. No wonder these people think it's long and boring. Any game can be broken if you deliberately play it wrong. Play Monopoly by the rules and it's a OK game, fast and active.
 
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12. Board Game: Europa 1945-2030 [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:6129]
Tom Swider
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Just looking at the cover art, you wouldn't suspect this game to be a distant cousin of Diplomacy. It's not quite as nasty, takes less time and plays well with 5-6. If you can't get 7 together for Dip, this is an excellent alternative. If you want to ensure the correct play time of 2-3 hours, make sure you adhere to the voting discussion rules, otherwise you'll be in for major whine-fests.
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13. Board Game: Falsche FuFFziger [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:6284]
Tom Swider
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Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Clever bidding game. I've heard it compared to Modern Art, though I really do not like Modern Art at all. I think this game has a lot more personality, and people seem to have some good laughs playing it. More luck to it than other bidding games. What seems to freak people out is that the game encourages people to wad up the bills in your hand as part of concealed bidding. Oh the humanity! Ruining play money! Would somebody PLEASE think of the children and the resale value?
 
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14. Board Game: Lang lebe der König! [Average Rating:5.13 Overall Rank:13639]
Bruce Linsey
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East Greenbush
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My rank: 238. BGG rank: unranked, but gets generally low marks. Yeah, I decided to add another one to my list. This is a pretty decent game which gets panned for reasons I can't discern. Does anyone but me like it?
 
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15. Board Game: Tarot [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2688]
Jim Wickson
United States
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This one is indeed quite underrated on the Geek. There is a tendency for hands to be passed out quite frequently when playing the 4 player FFT tournament game. This isn't much of a problem though when playing by computer. There have also been many different variations throughout the 600 year history of this game. Austrian Koenigrufen is another fine example of of the diversity of this family. Danish Tarock is also a nice alternative to the 3 handed game. As it stands, French Tarot serves nicely as an introduction to the Tarot/Tarock family of card games as it contains a little bit of everything; bidding, ultimo (petit au bout) bonuses, and declarations (poignee) without overwhelming the novice.
 
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