Unknown Pleasures
Andy Parsons
United Kingdom
CHELMSFORD
Essex
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Here's my obscurer than thou list. All games on it have less than 50 ratings, oh and I like them.
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1. Board Game: Banque Fatale [Average Rating:5.92 Overall Rank:9812]
Andy Parsons
United Kingdom
CHELMSFORD
Essex
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Number of ratings: 20

Last autumn, when I was setting myself up with some Geekbuddies, one of the first I added was Ken Shoda. Ken rates Banque only a 6, but his comments on it piqued my interest. When I saw a mint copy for E8.50 on the Essen flea market, I was quickly parted with my money.

In Banque coloured cards are auctioned using a blind bidding system. The interesting twist is that you bid using coloured chips. The total numbers of chips of each colour bid affect the values of the colours on a simple stockmarket.

Ken's comments suggest a reason why this title is so obscure; the first English translation of the rules was botched.
 
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2. Board Game: Iglu Iglu [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:8182]
Andy Parsons
United Kingdom
CHELMSFORD
Essex
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Number of ratings: 30

Allegedly, Iglu Iglu was a new release at last year's Essen Game Fair. You could have fooled me. After much searching, I found a solitary copy on a game shop stand on my last day at the fair. No wonder there's been no buzz about this one. Which is odd really as it's a Bruno Faidutti/Bruno Cathala design, published by the middle weight Gold Sieber company.

Iglu Iglu is nicely themed with eskimos, igloos, fish, polar bears, wolves and drifting pack ice. At start most of the board is covered with ice, which gradually thaws throughout the game. The object is is have control of the largest chunks of ice remaining when the game ends. Killing every bit of wildlife in sight is also helpful. For those not put off by the customary luck factor in designs by the two Brunos, this is quite an enjoyable little game.
 
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3. Board Game: Kanaloa [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:7912]
Andy Parsons
United Kingdom
CHELMSFORD
Essex
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Number of ratings: 36

A strong contender for the ugliest game board ever created. Perhaps that, and the spray painted pieces, are the reason why this one was overlooked.

A shame because the game play has much going for it. Players travel between south Pacific islands collecting offerings to the Gods in order to build temples. The player who has offered the most to a God gains the use of that deity's powers. Having the Goddess Pele on your side is particular fun as whenever a volcano errupts, you decide where it is and whose pieces will not be moving next turn. The victory conditions are Knizia-ish; the heights of all your temples are totalled, except that those smaller than the chief God's count for nothing, while those taller are cut down to his level. Hence, a careful balancing act is required.
 
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4. Board Game: Avalam [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:5304]
Andy Parsons
United Kingdom
CHELMSFORD
Essex
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Number of ratings: 10

No surprise that an abstract game has the lowest number of ratings on this list. Abstracts are a niche within the niche of Geekdom.

Any abstract that I buy has to pass the coffee table test; will it look good when set up in a prominent place in my lounge? Avalam, with its curved wooden board and wooden pieces that build into towers, certainly passes that test. It falls into the family of games (other members include Focus and Dvonn) where pieces are piled up until no further moves are possible. The object is to have your pieces on top of the majority of towers at the end. Avalam's novel twist is that you can move your own or your opponent's pieces.
 
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5. Board Game: Pisa [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:6986]
Andy Parsons
United Kingdom
CHELMSFORD
Essex
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Number of ratings: 46

How did an Adlung game fly so low under the radar? They have a good reputation (Meuterer, Verrater, Im Auftrag des Konigs etc., etc.)and their games are as cheap as chips. I know people who simply buy all their adult titles. So what happened to this one?

Pisa is a trick taking game. What makes it a little different to the other billion trick-takers is that players bid to decide the object of the hand (most or fewest tricks), trumps and ranking of cards (high to low or vice versa), using cards from their hand.

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6. Board Game: World Cup Tournament Football [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:5340]
Andy Parsons
United Kingdom
CHELMSFORD
Essex
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Number of ratings: 35

Nevermind World in Flames or 7 Ages, this is the Australian Design Group's masterpiece! Well, at least it is the one you can play a full game of with up to 24 players in less than an hour.

WCTF is deceptively simple and chaotic. Players are secretly allocated a selection of national football teams to pilot through the tournament. You get a handful of cards ranging from 0 to 3 goals. On your turn you play one face up on any team in the first stage of the competition and one face down on a fixture later in the competition. The art lies in bluffing out your opponents "Nigeria - no, I'm sure they must be a non-player team.", in seeding routes for your teams later in the tournament, and in picking up hatrick cards...Jolly good fun once in a while.

Given that its theme is the world's favourite sport, I'm at a loss to explain its unfamiliarity to the non-American wing of Geekdom.
 
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7. Board Game: Xe Queo! [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:3935]
Andy Parsons
United Kingdom
CHELMSFORD
Essex
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Number of ratings: 25

Another abstract, albeit by the celebrated Alex Randolph. Winning a round of Xe Queo is a simple proposition; secretly choose a coloured piece and move it onto a golden ring. The hitch is that your opponent has also secretly chosen a colour. If your colour is also theirs and you move it on to the ring, you lose. Worse still, if you are too obvious about which piece is yours, your opponent will ensure it never gets near that ring. What follows is a game of bluff, double bluff and extreme psychological torture. Quite wonderful and criminally ignored.
 
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