Board 8 > another year of tabletop rankings and writeups

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Naye745
01/13/20 11:15:15 PM
#251:


i guess i'll have to see what's near the top of these rankings before passing judgment on your taste lol :) :) :)

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HanOfTheNekos
01/13/20 11:33:05 PM
#252:


Naye745 posted...
this implies that the decision space is so small to be obvious! and also that the games with more freedom don't also have more randomness to make your "open" decisions largely moot

i dont think co-op games are quite as straightforward as you make them out to be, anyway

legacy season 2's brand of pandemic certainly (without spoiling) gives you a thorough enough set of options that optimizing that decision space seems impossible

I mean, not every co-op game is straightforward like that. Ghost Stories is. Pandemic version 1 is.

I'm just trying to point out that, if you're playing a game where you can only win by doing a single predetermined path, it's not a game. It plays itself. Ghost Stories has that issue.

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Naye745
01/13/20 11:45:03 PM
#253:


base pandemic has limited options but if you think there's only a single predetermined path to victory, even in that game, you would be wrong

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SeabassDebeste
01/14/20 10:12:52 AM
#254:


88. Balderdash (1984)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Party game, word game, guessing game, trivia game
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 1
Game length: 30 minutes
Experience: 2-3 plays over 2-3 sessions (2017-2018) with 5-6 players
Previous ranks: NR (2016), NR (2018)

Summary - A rotating "host" player draws a card with a real but obscure word on it ("wadmiltilt," as a first result from Google) and everyone secretly submits a nonsense definition of it. The host reads all the definitions (including the real definition, printed on the card) and everyone simultaneously guesses which one is real. You get points for guessing correctly or for others guessing yours correctly.

Experience - I played Balderdash a few times with a loose-ish friend group that's a little too big to play most heavier games. (We also met at a cafe that didn't really have a lot of table space.) It's... pretty fun?

I considered dropping Balderdash from the rankings, because it's obviously not a hobby game (playing it will "feel" more like Pictionary or Cards Against Humanity) and because it feels so clearly different from one, and I don't feel strongly about it. (I probably omitted it in 2018.) On the other hand, it has a clearly game-y design.

Design - Balderdash has a pretty classic design and draws from a fairly classic source of trivia: the English language. It's a published version of typical parlor games. But making up stuff in attempts to get others to guess your fabrication is definitely "game-y," as people have a sensible and objective goal. Balderdash smartly uses words that are absurdly obscure with often ridiculously specific meanings, allowing wacky and serious answers both to be chosen. (It also has really obscure proper nouns.)

The strategy in Balderdash, like in so many games that draw on outside knowledge (trivia games and word games and creative games), is largely based off an outside skill as well. Balderdash rewards knowing how others think, but it also punishes you if you don't know how to write like a dictionary. Making a grammatical mistake in Balderdash essentially ensures no one will pick your definition.

One major and unfortunate quality of life aspect of Balderdash is that it relies on handwriting/narration. Because you don't want to identify the correct answer by handwriting, there has to be a host player each round to collect submissions. And then people need to listen to the host read them instead of being able to read them themselves. It's unfortunate, but I feel Balderdash would be probably smoother, and very possibly better, as a Jackbox-style game. (Jackbox, of course, has variations on this.)

Future - In a game like Balderdash, the game is over if you know all the words. That said, no one in my group has ever known one of the cards, there are many cards, and unless you play it a ton in a very short amount of time, odds are against remembering these words well enough for replayability to become an issue due to knowledge.

I'll never thirst to play Balderdash, but I might prefer it at times to other options. And I suppose there's always a chance that someday I hit upon a really fun play of it.
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SeabassDebeste
01/14/20 11:47:20 AM
#255:


thinking about this next game. it's a sequel to a game higher on the list so i'd like to do both together. better to do both now, or both when i hit the higher ranking game?
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ChaosTonyV4
01/14/20 11:49:05 AM
#256:


Do a shorthand version of this one to keep your format, and save the full write-up for the higher one.

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SeabassDebeste
01/14/20 1:27:32 PM
#257:


87. Century: Eastern Wonders (2018)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Point-to-point movement, area control, resource conversion
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 3
Game length: 45-60 minutes
Experience: 3-4 plays over 3-4 sessions (2018-2019) with 3-4 players
Previous ranks: NR (2016), NR (2018)

Summary - Each player plays as a spice merchant/trader sailing across a hexagonal grid of islands. At each stop, you can collect basic spices, trade your spices for better spices (depending on your tile), build an outpost, and upgrade your player abiltiies. At special ports, you can trade your resources for victory points.

The prequel - Since C:EW is the sequel to Century: Spice Road, which appears higher up on this list, the rest of this writeup is postponed!
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Great_Paul
01/14/20 1:33:11 PM
#258:


Have you not played A New World yet then?

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SeabassDebeste
01/14/20 1:39:22 PM
#259:


i played it once, but i don't rank games i haven't played multiple times. i think i'd probably put it slightly above EW, but unsure.

never played any of the combo games.
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Great_Paul
01/14/20 1:47:53 PM
#260:


That's fair. I'll save my input on the rest of this for a later time haha.

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HanOfTheNekos
01/14/20 1:59:51 PM
#261:


Naye745 posted...
base pandemic has limited options but if you think there's only a single predetermined path to victory, even in that game, you would be wrong

not if you play on the 'hard' difficulty.

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Naye745
01/14/20 2:05:15 PM
#262:


its not true on any difficulty, even the one with 7 epidemics!

there are only like 8 actions, many of which are similar anyway, so the decision space is inherently pretty limited
it's a game that doesn't overextend its complexity (unless you're playing with like every expansion) so it is of course more "solvable"

but the entire game is about deciding how much risk to assume based on what you know, and working with what you have as efficiently as possible. despite this, you can take gambles on what level of risk to assume based on the information you have, and sometimes that will work out and sometimes it'll burn you. on the hardest difficulties, if you're unlucky enough, you're gonna have to do some of that to win.

look, i think i get your point about the game, and without having played arkham horror i can't really make a good counterpoint about that game, but your description of the game being absolutely solvable is just wrong, even if you could reasonably write an AI that would have an effective and consistent strategy. pandemic and similar co-ops aren't for everyone, but i don't think that's a design flaw like you seem to insinuate

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HanOfTheNekos
01/14/20 2:25:22 PM
#263:


I'm not saying it's absolutely solvable, I'm saying that, on hard difficulty, you are locked into actions because you will straight-up just LOSE if you don't do the exact actions that are needed to stave it off. Easier difficulties, sure, you're allowed to piddle and make more decisions because you won't just straight up lose because the conditions aren't as bad. And sure, luck of the draw is involved in hard difficulty too where theoretically things won't be so hard as to leave you with *some* decision space. And yes, different characters that you play as will theoretically grant you more decision space, though some reduce it because some characters specifically are locked into doing specific roles.

Maybe the newer editions of Pandemic have made fixes that make it have more opportunity for individuality. And sure, some people like playing co-op games that are more like solving a puzzle. Someone said earlier - in those games, everyone needs to be comparable skill level.


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SeabassDebeste
01/15/20 1:16:12 PM
#264:


oops, C:EW is actually #86

87. Call to Adventure (2018)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Tableau-building, push-your-luck, dice-rolling
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 2
Game length: 45-60 minutes
Experience: 2 plays over 2 sessions (2018-2019) with 4 players
Previous ranks: NR (2016), NR (2018)

Summary - Each player builds a character's epic story, from origins to final bosses. In practice, this means choosing on each turn to attempt to gain a skill/accomplish a challenge (both represented by a card market) by casting various sets of runes (i.e. flipping cool-shaped coins). These skills/challenges (cards) are added to your tableau. Every three cards you gain moves you into the next tier of available cards, and once a player has completed all three tiers, the game ends.

Experience - I've played this game twice. The first time was at a meetup with people I like, which made for a fun experience. The second was at a con, with somewhat less enjoyable people, but the game held up pretty well. Its lightness helps.

Design - Let's be clear: There isn't a lot of strategy to CtA. You've got several mechanisms going - a "light/dark" track that determines how much of an antihero or a saint you'll be; mechanisms to boost your power by becoming more evil; cards that function/score based on which path you choose; minor engine-building from your tableau that will let you cast extra runes. You get to make choices on how you want to grow your character or gain experience points and which challenges you want to try out and spend your experience points on. But the game pleasantly limits your choices to three challenges per round; you'll pretty much always want to play your cards in hand on the best possible ability; and depending on light/dark, that will reduce your options even further. The decision tree comes down to optimizing how you cast your runes and is wide but ultimately rather shallow.

On the other hand, Call to Adventure is huge on chrome. The art is gorgeous. The titles of the cards are evocative. You mostly get full control on your character's light/dark track, and it's more a matter of preference if you want to be paladin-esque or dark and brooding - you can get positive points either way, though there's a nice thematic punishment for going too evil beyond peak antihero. Getting that extra rune to cast is like turning to the dark side. The rules even say that you're supposed to tell your character's story at the end of the game - there are victory points that drive you, but in the end, it makes it very clear you're about the chrome-y, short, light journey and not the point-salad-y end.

The primary mechanic behind CtA is rune-casting. Whenever you undertake a challenge, you take differently colored runes, which are flat pieces with marks on both sides (more on one than another, generally). Depending on your tableau and the type of challenge, you may take extras. You shake them all up and literally cast them down, then count your marks for whether or not you accomplish a challenge. They look great and feel great to throw and counting them up is fun and satisfying.

Future - I don't think I'd ever buy CtA and it's probably not really in the wheelhouse of my main gaming groups. A lot of the time I want to play something that's a bit more game-y, but there's just something soothing and pleasant about the CtA experience. More plays could reveal it to be monotonous or make some nice storytelling memories, and I don't know which is more likely.
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Tom Bombadil
01/15/20 1:30:12 PM
#265:


That sounds kinda up my alley!

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Naye745
01/15/20 1:30:28 PM
#266:


all i know about this game is it looks pretty

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ChaosTonyV4
01/15/20 1:41:22 PM
#267:


I have never heard of this, but it looks very nice

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Phantom Dust.
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SeabassDebeste
01/15/20 2:19:03 PM
#268:


85. Welcome (Back) to the Dungeon (2013, 2016)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Push-your-luck, bluffing, bidding, player elimination
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 2
Game length: 20-30 minutes
Experience: 4-6 plays over 3-4 sessions (2016-2018) with 4 players
Previous ranks: NR (2016), 47/80 (2018)

Summary - Everyone essentially plays a giant game of chicken to see who will go into the dungeon (deck of monster cards). The stakes are raised with each bid: either a monster is added to the dungeon or a piece of equipment is removed from the hero. You can also pass instead of raising the stakes, and once everyone drops out, the "winner" of the bid has to go into the dungeon. If they survive, they get a point (and two points wins the game); if they lose, they get a negative point (and two negative points loses the game).

Experience - The first time I played this game, I enthusiastically went into the dungeon twice in around the first three goes and promptly found myself eliminated and watched for the rest of the game. That was really rough. Subsequent plays had me just the tiniest bit more cautious, and I've never failed to have fun since then.

Design - Welcome to the Dungeon is incredibly clever in so many aspects, starting with the theme and how it ties into the mechanics: Essentially, you're not necessarily heroic; rather, you're rowdy and drunk and bragging to your friends about how you're way more badass than they are. The "bidding" process is really just bravado and a game of oneupsmanship, and often you can't necessarily back up your talk and are just hoping someone else will bite on it to get you out of it. Getting to go can either elicit a "we got this" or (depending on how much you overbid) an "oh, crap."

Rounds are snappy and fast, which is key when the game can go a potential 11 rounds (for 4 people). If there is a downside to the game, it is obviously the player elimination alongside the variable game length; you could get hosed in the first two rounds and have to watch everyone else go eight full rounds without you, as I did in my first experience. But being eliminated is entirely within your control; you never once have to go into the dungeon if you don't want to (though always passing on your turn would make for an easy dungeon that it's likely your opponents(s) would succeed in).

I don't like direct confrontation much, and in many cases I don't require player interaction. But engagement is big. Bidding is a great mechanism for that: non-confrontational, interactive, and highly engaging. Only one person winds up going in the dungeon, and you've got everyone rooting against that person. Watching a failure in the dungeon is a wonderful case of schadenfreude.

Future - Would replay with the right crowd (i.e. most of my friends) in a heartbeat, which makes me think that I rated this game too low this time around (and indeed, it ranked quite high last time).
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Naye745
01/15/20 2:21:13 PM
#269:


welcome to the dungeon is fantastic. amazing how much game you get from such a small set of components

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Peace___Frog
01/15/20 2:28:48 PM
#270:


I forgot all about welcome to the dungeon, me and a group of guys I used to work with would play it sometimes over lunch. I admire its graceful simplicity and wouldn't say no to playing it again, but it's not a game I'm aching to replay.

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SeabassDebeste
01/15/20 3:35:28 PM
#271:


84. Two Rooms and a Boom (2013)

Category: Team vs Team
Genres: Hidden roles, bluffing, voting, social deduction, party game
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 1
Game length: 20 minutes
Experience: 10+ plays over 4+ sessions (2015) with 8-10 players
Previous ranks: 44/100 (2016), 53/80 (2018)

Summary - There are two equal teams: the red team (with a bomber) and a blue team (with a president). Everyone is randomly divided into two physically separate rooms. Over the course of a fixed, small number of timed rounds, the players in each room talk to one another, and elect both a leader and a hostage. Hostages are exchanged between the two rooms at the end of each round. After the final round, if the bomber is in the same room as the president, the red team wins; otherwise, the blue team wins.

Experience - Social deduction games were my jam when I started hobby gaming, and Two Rooms and a Boom was a really solid option for a large group of people. That one summer of 2015 we played it a ton, and then the person who owned it moved away, and the remaining regular gamers meet so much more infrequently and in such smaller groups that I've barely seen it since then. If I have a regret regarding it, it's not playing more different roles.

Design - Two Rooms and a Boom is really silly. It's a good case of how to do an awful theme without being stupidly edgy: suicide bombing as assassination is, you know, bad. But everything about the game, starting with the silly title, encourages us not to take it seriously or stir up controversial. Perhaps it's due to its relative lack of popularity, but I've never heard anyone complain about Two Rooms and a Boom, unlike Secret Hitler. And yes, that's because it's not stupidly exploitative with a hot-trigger issue.

Anyway, the game is fun, if you like the people. There are goofy roles in it, like the ones that prevent you from showing your card, or (especially) the clown that forces you to smile the whole time (this resulted in a bunch of people pretending to be the clown and smiling the whole time). And the suspicion that goes 'round when someone new enters is always fun.

Two things make Two Rooms particularly unique: Leveraging physical space and playing an extremely high player count. Those are probably the biggest innovation in Two Rooms, though of course they're also one of the worst parts about the game, because they so badly limit the opportunities to play it.

If I have a minor gameplay glitch (and it's been so long now that it feels pointless to nitpick), it's that with even numbers of players in each room, it's possible for one team to control both rooms if the first randomly selected leader is the same color both times. That can result in a stale game, as no one needs to decide whether it's better to remain in control or to try to gain information by sending an agent from the in-power team across the aisle. As a result, eight-player games fell very flat in my group, while ten-player games were considerably better.

Future - I was legitimately prepared to write that sadly, I may never play Two Rooms and a Boom ever again. But then I clicked a link to Amazon, and according to a review, a six-player game of Two Rooms can be good. I feel like a group of three in each room is rough, but that does spark my interest again.
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Grand Kirby
01/15/20 3:41:51 PM
#272:


It's hard for me to rate that game because I never really had a good "game" of it. I've only played in groups of like twenty people, and it was always with a mix of serious players, people who just wanted to screw around, and people who had no idea what they were doing, so it was always just a big mess.

Still funny at least, but I never think of it as anything other than a party game to waste time as opposed to a strategy game I should actually try to win.

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Naye745
01/15/20 3:45:02 PM
#273:


i played two games (same night) of 2rb with 10 people and it was definitely fun but i just dont have a strong opinion like i do with say resistance or secret hitler or werewolf/mafia

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SeabassDebeste
01/15/20 4:00:00 PM
#274:


Naye745 posted...
all i know about this game is it looks pretty

ChaosTonyV4 posted...
I have never heard of this, but it looks very nice

if you're satisfied with art alone and aren't concerned with a strategic game, it's a good pick!

Naye745 posted...
welcome to the dungeon is fantastic. amazing how much game you get from such a small set of components

one of the games i'd like to bump higher maybe!

Peace___Frog posted...
I forgot all about welcome to the dungeon, me and a group of guys I used to work with would play it sometimes over lunch. I admire its graceful simplicity and wouldn't say no to playing it again, but it's not a game I'm aching to replay.

reasonable summation. not like i have a welcome to the dungeon-sized hole in my chest.

Grand Kirby posted...
It's hard for me to rate that game because I never really had a good "game" of it. I've only played in groups of like twenty people, and it was always with a mix of serious players, people who just wanted to screw around, and people who had no idea what they were doing, so it was always just a big mess.

Still funny at least, but I never think of it as anything other than a party game to waste time as opposed to a strategy game I should actually try to win.

i mean it certainly doesn't pretend to be a strategy game. i have had good experiences with it and also flatter ones. that said i love a good party game!
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Peace___Frog
01/15/20 5:18:01 PM
#275:


I played Boom for the first time a few weeks ago and mostly enjoyed it. We had a group of 15 which felt maybe a little too large, but as far as party games go I thought it balanced the social and gamey aspects well!

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SeabassDebeste
01/15/20 6:17:49 PM
#276:


83. Anomia (2010)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Party game, pattern recognition, reflexes
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 1
Game length: 20 minutes
Experience: 5+ plays over 3+ sessions (2017-2018) with 5-6 players
Previous ranks: NR (2016), 31/80 (2018)

Summary - Each player has a stack of face-down cards. The cards have odd shapes on them along with a category ("'60s movie star"). On your turn, you flip over a card from your deck onto your face-up pile, and if the shape matches someone else's shape, you immediately have to state something of the matching player's category ("Marilyn Monroe!"). The player who says the other person's first takes a point (card) from the original winner.

Experience - This game ranked super-high for me when I ranked it, largely because my plays of it were entirely concentrated between late 2017 and early 2018. I haven't played it in coming-on two years now, but I have very fond memories.

Design - I love real-time games like this that put people into the pressure cooker and turn their brains to mush. Anomia is designed essentially to make people flail and shout and point, and that is exactly what it does best. You constantly need to be on edge in case your card is shown, and if the pace is fast enough, you'll be thinking of "in case I match with X" words constantly. Due to the way card reveals works, it's possible to set off a chain when a lost card reveals another card that matches. And you might get to see how quickly your friends turn unexpectedly vulgar.

That said, Anomia is hardly a tight design. "Patterns match, race" and "think of something" are both super-fun mechanics to me, but they're not exactly original, and Anomia doesn't bring a ton more to the table.

One particularly disappointing artifact of the game's design is that it's technically possible to go an entire game without matching anyone, and that it's a virtual guarantee that the duels are not equally distributed. Scores aren't important in games like Anomia, but the unequal opportunities presented in Anomia make that exercise particularly nonsensical. It's certainly competitive and contentious, but because each round is almost independent and the duration doesn't form a coherent arc, it's also easy to say that Anomia isn't particularly game-y. So as it grows more distant in memory, it sinks more.

Future - Anomia is really fun, but not really the type of game I'd get as a hobby gamer. Again, the group will matter, but if it comes to the table again I will be glad - but I miss the memory of that time of my life more than desiring to play the game again.
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ChaosTonyV4
01/15/20 6:32:08 PM
#277:


I played Anomia a bunch at Shads board game nights back in the day, and its a great light party
game.

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SeabassDebeste
01/16/20 10:37:30 AM
#278:


82. Coup (2012)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Hidden roles, bluffing, player elimination
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 3
Game length: 15-30 minutes
Experience: 15+ plays over 8+ sessions (2015-2018) with 4-6 players
Previous ranks: 56/100 (2016), 60/80 (2018)

Summary - Each player is dealt two hidden roles, representing both their lives and their abilities. Each hidden role has a special power associated with it. Play proceeds clockwise, and on your turn you can either take a basic action or a special role action, claiming that special role. When you claim a role, you can be either challenged or not. Players can "coup" you to take out one of your two lives. Last man standing wins.

Design - Coup can feel messy with its player powers chart at first explaining this and that, but when it comes down to it, it's a fairly elegant design. Once you know every role, the setup and teardown are effortless and individual turns are quick and snappy.

As a take-that-ish game, Coup is a game where you have to accept that you won't always have control over your own destiny. The bluffing mechanism is a really clever way to even out the odds - you can take extra coins early on while it's hard to contest you, but once people have stored up money and it gets higher-stakes, the metagame should sort itself out that challenges are done at times that make sense. Unfortunately, since players have to actively get in conflicts (or be targeted) to lose, Coup often becomes a turtling game.

But, there's something unique in Coup about the bluffing mechanism, since you have full knowledge. "I block as Cortana" call or the "I challenge your Assassin" always gets the table interested, these are both the most common interactions (because they're so direct) and the highest-leverage (due to the elevated stakes that can send you from two lives directly to zero lives). It becomes possibly even more interesting when Captain actions are blocked (will anyone budge?) or especially Duke actions get challenged.

Experience - One of the funnest memories I have of the game (and probably the most fun I've had) was during the first game I played, when an overeager player who introduced us to the game angrily challenged two people in like three turns. She was promptly eliminated after having taken maybe one or two actions herself. Challenges are the most fun part about Coup, but unfortunately, challenging everyone is a losing strategy. The game went on and was never as entertaining.

Future - Coup doesn't make me eager to play it, but sometimes when sitting around with nothing to play, I think, "it would be nice to have Coup now." I've played it on a bus, for example, though it sucked. Nonetheless, due to its ubiquity outside my main circles and light interaction, it's likely to get played again and not particularly rise or fall in rankings.
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Grand Kirby
01/16/20 10:52:46 AM
#279:


I just bought Coup the other week. It seems like a fun game that combines decent strategy with good "I can't believe you just did that" moments that I love in tabletop games. It's really quick too, so it's good as quick game to play when you don't have a lot of time for longer games, or if you do have time you can simply play multiple games of it in row (which really makes the bluff mechanic more interesting. Is that player using the same bluff they did last time? Or are they telling the truth now?).

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th3l3fty
01/16/20 11:04:04 AM
#280:


Coup was basically obsoleted by Coup Rebellion G54 anyway

also, just want to thank you for making me aware of the 5-5-2 variant of Machi Koro - the entire group agreed that the game was significantly more interesting and enjoyable because of it
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SeabassDebeste
01/16/20 12:59:41 PM
#281:


81. Lost Cities: The Board Game (2008)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Push-your-luck, racing, sequence-building, set collection
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 1
Game length: 30-40 minutes
Experience: 3-5 plays over 2-3 sessions (2017-2018) with 3-4 players
Previous ranks: NR (2016), 51/80 (2018)

Summary - There are five different paths, each corresponding to a color. Any player can go on any of the paths by playing a card (numbered 1-10) of the appropriate color. The trick is, to advance further on any given path, the next card you play in that color has to be either higher or lower than your previous card - and once you've done that, you have to keep going in the same color. Advancing further down a track gives more points, but if the time runs out while you haven't advanced much down a path, you get negative points.

Design - The original Lost Cities was a card game for two, and I only played it after the board game version. There's a lot to be said for a game that you can take anywhere as a filler, as opposed to a game with a big-ass box that takes up a lot of table space and is actually quite light.

But... the board game is better. It's not just that you can play with more players (which is really nice), but the major quality of life (and strategy improvement!) change is that you can build paths that go backwards numerically. In the original Lost Cities, getting dealt high numbers to start with was strictly bad (leaves you fewer maximum steps you can go) and getting low numbers later was strictly bad (no way to advance with lower numbers if you always have to increase). That's absolutely huge. I will also say that while the game itself is as simplistic in weight as as a Candyland type, there's a reason people like Candyland - it looks great.

But of course, it's got gameplay to back it up, and more specifically, decisions. I believe this is the first of around three ranked games on this list from the Great Reiner Knizia. He's not my favorite designer, but he unquestionably gets at what it means to be a game: making decisions. You have a limited hand in LCBG; on each turn, if you're not playing a card (and possibly cutting yourself off from future advancement), you're discarding one... and the discarded cards can be picked up by your opponents. Should you jump straight from 5 to 9 in blues and lose that future advancement of 6, 7, 8? Giving up the 9 to your opponent who hasn't even started blue yet is clearly not an option... but starting on white is dangerous - you might wind up with big negative points there! No decision is easy, and that's where LC:BG gets its meat.

LC:BG is made the slightest bit less cohesive by its three-round structure, which functions like a card game going "best out of three"/summing your scores. The only carry-over, like in Sushi Go!, is one set collection mechanic that stays. Nonetheless, it's so quick and juicy each runthrough that it does seem to round out your game.

Experience - Like I said, it's an impressive design, and even more so when you consider how much it surpasses its "source."

Future - Maybe because LC:BG is so abstract and light, it doesn't necessarily fulfill my hobby-game itches. But it's really solid game design. Would definitely play again.
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SeabassDebeste
01/16/20 1:01:32 PM
#282:


th3l3fty posted...
Coup was basically obsoleted by Coup Rebellion G54 anyway

also, just want to thank you for making me aware of the 5-5-2 variant of Machi Koro - the entire group agreed that the game was significantly more interesting and enjoyable because of it

never played rebellion g54, i think. played a version with teams once and it was ok.

i think i never played 5-5-2. if i ever owned machi koro harbor i'd definitely enforce that variant though, as the lack thereof made for a really shitty marketplace for me!
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HanOfTheNekos
01/16/20 2:02:37 PM
#283:


I never commented on it but I do love me some San Juan.

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Naye745
01/16/20 2:53:13 PM
#284:


coup is good - it's not perfect, but it's very solid for a 5 minute fillerish game. the novelty of g54 is appealing but most of the combinations aren't that great, i remember having some very good games and many imbalanced crappy ones.

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Colegreen_c12
01/16/20 3:41:44 PM
#285:


Coup might be my favorite filler game.The teams expansion is ok but I don't need it.

Never played g54, it sounds interesting but I fear it would make it less of a fillerish game

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SeabassDebeste
01/16/20 4:15:25 PM
#286:


80. Quadropolis (2016)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Drafting, tile-laying, city-building, set collection
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 4
Game length: 30-40 minutes
Experience: 2 plays over 2 sessions (2018) with 3-4 players
Previous ranks: NR (2016), NR (2018)

Summary - Each round, a market of city tiles (parks, factories, etc) are laid out in a 4x4 grid. The players then draft those tiles by laying their arrows around the border of the grid, numbered 1 to 4: laying an arrow with 3 on it, next to the fourth row of common grid, means you take the tile 3 away from your arrow. That spot can then no longer have another arrow laid upon it. These drafted tiles go into your own 4x4 city in either the row or the column corresponding to the arrow picked. Victory points are granted at end of game depending on selection and placement of tiles within your city.

Design - What a clever game. While it's a little tough to explain on paper, demonstrating how to play Quadropolis is an absolute breeze: just slap down the arrow and you're good to go. Denying drafts should be strong in this game, though in my experience I'm usually more concerned about how to hoard my arrows than how to hate-fill other people's spots. There's a lot of inherent fun in city-building games, in my opinion: trying to optimize points, getting your parks next to residences, cleaning up the pollution which will be worth negative victory points. But the uniqueness in any city-builder (and indeed many drafting/tableau-building games in general) comes from how you get the tiles and what rules you have to obey for placement. Tying the drafting mechanism together with placement restrictions based on the arrows is unique and clever, and it forces tactical thinking, even if it's unclear that it makes the game significantly more fun or deep.

Experience - I have fond feelings toward Quadropolis. Like Carcassonne, I learned it on the spot in a game cafe and then taught it to a friend, and then it turned to be a delightful little exercise. It was a surprise to me that it came up again at a different meetup, and I liked it a little less, but I still thought it was clever.

Future - Because you can draft virtually any building you want when you flop 16 tiles, I imagine it's not too hard to come up with similar cities each time in a small-player-count game, especially if that's what you're aiming for. I imagine that some of the replay value, however, might come from prioritizing different building types compared to the other times you build stuff. I have a hard time seeing myself request this (though that may be because no one in my groups owns it) - but it's a cute design that I'd always be willing to play given its length and weight.
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SeabassDebeste
01/16/20 5:58:22 PM
#287:


79. Love Letter (2012)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Separate hands, deduction, player elimination
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 1
Game length: 15-20 minutes (full game)
Experience: 20+ hands over 5+ sessions (2015-2018) with 3-4 players
Previous ranks: 25/100 (2016), 44/80 (2018)

Summary - Each player has a hand of one card. During their turn, they draw a card and play a card. The played card will generally give them a way to interact with others, including eliminating others (or the guesser). If people are not eliminated by the end of the 16 cards, the player with the highest remaining card is the winner.

Experience - As you can see by its high ranking in 2016, Love Letter felt like a godsend early in the hobby: a game with no rules overhead, an inference component, and a playtime/game structure that allowed for iterative play. Since then I've gotten more of an appetite for games that hit high highs rather than guarantee painilessness, but I still respect LL's style.

Design - Love Letter is a true microgame, and among hobby gamers, it has a Coup-esque quality of "everyone knows it and reasonably likes it." Any card game might be better if everyone knew the deck through and through, that that's an impossibility for many more complex games. Love Letter is a deduction game - the most common card lets you eliminate a player by guessing their card - and like Coup, it is a pure card game that has few enough cards that everyone can name each card by the end of a few hands.

Like God's Gambit (and perhaps Welcome to the Dungeon), Love Letter also has entirely independent hands. There is no arc to Love Letter, simply the knowledge that one round, which can last as little as a minute, provides insufficient dopamine hit and will make you want to play more. Given how short it is, I'm entirely fine with that.

Components can be huge in a game this simple. Love Letter comes in a beautiful bag, has beautiful art, and has these cute little cubes to denote you won a hand. Quality-of-life wins.

Future - While it's not the fault of the game itself, I think one issue preventing Love Letter from breaking out into my world big time is that it's not really a two-player game. It feels like the perfect type of game to have on hand during a non-game-night, but most of the time that would be a two-player scenario for me.

It would be easy to characterize Love Letter as repetitive, which could hurt its long-term value. That may be true, but given its insanely quick playtime per hand and setup time and the fact it can be played brainlessly, I wouldn't necessarily call that a bad thing. Its iterative play tends to feel like a "card game" instead of a "hobby game," and those have long, long histories.
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SeabassDebeste
01/16/20 6:22:25 PM
#288:


78. D-Day Dice (2012)

Category: Cooperative
Genres: Campaign, dice-rolling, point-to-point movement
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 3
Game length: 20-30 minutes
Experience: 6-10 rounds of 4-7 scenarios over 2 sessions (2016-2017) with 4 players
Previous ranks: NR (2016), 42/80 (2018)

Summary - Each player commands a military unit during the D-Day invasion. Those soldiers are represented by dice on a map. Each scenario corresponds to a different map. The goal of each round is to go from one end of the map to another and to defeat the boss there if need be. Dice are rolled and rerolled simultaneously to gain special powers/equipment, gain bonuses, or gain health. Then you move (or not) and face combat.

Experience - My old core group has attempted the campaigned twice. We didn't beat the entire game, but each time we played we played at least three or so scenarios until we beat them.

Design - D-Day dice makes rolling dice really satisfying. It's got a nifty reroll mechanism that forces you to lock two dice; each die face is useful in its own way; and there's a tremendous payoff when you can get your sets to match - hitting the same face in all three of your colors (red, white, blue) gives you a massive additional bonus. For example, each single dude you roll heals you one troop (HP). But if you roll three single dudes of different colors, not only do you get the three troops, you get four additional troops (seven total), plus you get to heal four troops to a teammate. Chasing those bonuses can give a big rush, and because so many of your abilities can help one another/you only need one person to have some sort of equipment, the sense of camaraderie is very strong.

That's really the coolest part about it. I mean yeah, you theoretically have this theme about moving through and fighting in a war, but it's really about the dice and power-ups and going ham as you get more and more powerful, then going in and storming the fortress for the win.

Future - This is the group in which one player seems to have dropped off from caring about playing weekly. That said, we've only played twice, and the owner is still in the group. Maybe I can convince my new gaming buddy to join in... would be nice to clear a few more levels and maybe beat the game. I never really think about this game, but rolling dice and getting rewarded (instead of punished) is really nice, and it really does instill collaboration. Would be nice to get that sense of accomplishment.
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SeabassDebeste
01/17/20 12:08:24 PM
#289:


77. Turn the Tide (1997)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Simultaneous action selection, separate hands, bidding
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 2
Game length: 20-40 minutes
Experience: 2-3 games over 2-3 sessions (2016-2017) with 4-5 players
Previous ranks: NR (2016), 61/80 (2018)

Summary - Each player has a hand of numbered cards and is attempting not to drown. There are two cards in the center representing water height. Simultaneously everyone plays a card, and the two highest among the played cards get the two water height cards respectively. Then the player with the highest water height drowns (loses a point). These initial points are assigned based on the estimated difficulty of the cards in your hand. At the end of a hand, your hand is preserved and passed to another player, and the game ends once you've played a hand using everyone's initial hand.

Design - Turn the Tide is super-clever. Any balance issues are solved practically by default due to the pass-your-hand mechanism. (You can get screwed by card deals; a hand with almost zero points has very limited upside, while a hand with all middle cards (that have more points) will give you little agency.)

I really enjoy simultaneous action selection and bidding as mechanisms - they can make you feel wonderfully clever or super-dumb, and the stakes can be high, but the action is quick. Turn the Tide has an interesting set of incentives. When you start the game, you actually have no water-height cards at all - which often means that you may want to avoid taking the card by playing a low card. However, if the water-height cards are low, you may want to burn a high/mid-card by taking one now - you'll lose a life potentially, but you get to save your low cards, and you preserve your lower cards. And if you get stuck with a high card, to avoid drowning multiple consecutive rounds, you're going to have to bid high the first chance you get on a lower card.

In this way, both low cards and high cards have benefits, because they hold the power of control, which is super-helpful in this game. Very clever design.

Experience - Uh, I think that a slow group can make this pretty rough. I also find that playing with a group of five is just slightly worse, because playing five hands feels a little longer than you need. But a four-person game feels snappy and fair and fun.

Future - I don't really have any desire to play Turn the Tide again, but I recognize its cleverness and I like the mechanism behind it. Might rank it a bit lower with careful thought, but it's a cool game and I wouldn't veto if it came up, especially with four players.
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Naye745
01/17/20 3:19:26 PM
#290:


i played quadropolis once and thought it was fine but didn't grab me. it feels like a good game but is not exceptional in any regard - there are better quick tactical games/city builders/mid-lightweight games from days of wonder - and thus has fallen through the cracks a bit.

love letter is great for what it is, but as far as fillers go, coup and (especially) welcome to the dungeon have it beat for me.

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SeabassDebeste
01/17/20 3:19:44 PM
#291:


76. 6 nimmt! (1994)

Category: Player vs Player
Genres: Simultaneous action selection, sequence-building, separate hands
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 0
Game length: 5-20 minutes
Experience: 15+ hands over 5+ sessions (2015-2019) with 4-8 players
Previous ranks: 33/100 (2016), 39/80 (2018)

Summary - Everyone is dealt a hand of cards with only numbers (unique integers) and pips (negative points). Each turn, each player simultaneously selects a card to reveal. Those cards are, in ascending order, sorted into buckets based on cards that are on the table. If you place the sixth card in a bucket, you empty it out and get all the cards (and the pips associated with them) in it. A hand ends when all the cards are played, and the game ends when one player has hit some losing total of pips.

Experience - I naturally don't have any sparkling memory of 6 nimmt!, but I remember being stuck in very large groups early on, with no one being able to decide on anything except this game. And honestly, for managing that large group rather painlessly, I give 6 nimmt! a lot of credit.

Design - Here's an elegant game that provides a nice, consistent experience. As I mentioned in Turn the Tide, simultaneous action selection in a quick game allows you to have lots of opportunities to feel clever or lucky, or to feel unlucky and cheated. You can feel both emotions very quickly between one played card and the next. 6 nimmt! isn't exactly mean, because you can't really make a move maliciously not knowing what other players have chosen or put in their hands, but it can definitely happen and feel really good when you undercut someone's card by exactly one, forcing them to be #6 in the pile instead of #5 like they anticipated being.

The game isn't particularly visually attractive for a filler. It's just a smart design with a bunch of cards (which, come to think of it, could be the basis of a few other games that are also just numbered cards... including one later on this list.)

Future - Like Love Letter, 6 nimmt! is lovely as a microgame, but it unfortunately isn't great with two, so it lacks a niche in my collection, and I've mostly seen what it has to offer. I don't think this game could particularly rise by more plays, but it's not like I'm turning it down as a 20-30 minute exercise in crowning winners and losers.
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Naye745
01/17/20 3:23:22 PM
#292:


this is a classic, and my friend has an old school copy with one of its many alternate titles, but i've never gotten the chance to play it

some day, perhaps...

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SeabassDebeste
01/17/20 3:32:02 PM
#293:


Naye745 posted...
love letter is great for what it is, but as far as fillers go, coup and (especially) welcome to the dungeon have it beat for me.

fair assessment! i think it beats coup, but WTTD was probably underrated here. 6nimmt might be a bit high with respect to those...
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Naye745
01/17/20 3:33:27 PM
#294:


have you played fuji flush? it's definitely a little less thinky (and therefore more random) than 6 nimmt, but i still sort of dig it anyway

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SeabassDebeste
01/17/20 3:50:47 PM
#295:


never even heard of it before. that seems like a pretty clever mechanism! some tension in how low you can go without colliding.
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Naye745
01/17/20 3:52:48 PM
#296:


friedmann friese has some gems and some stinkers, but at the very least really messes around with a lot of different ideas and mechanisms and it's fun to see the results

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SeabassDebeste
01/17/20 4:32:24 PM
#297:


Large tier that in hindsight probably deserved 2! Games here are kind of hard to order. I think in general, the games in the next tier mostly belong above the games in this tier, with the occasional case of one that was too high or one that was too low in this tier.

Settle For It
111. Settlers of Catan (1995)
110. Ticket to Ride (2004)
109. Machi Koro (2012)
108. Yeti Slalom (2001)
107. Fire Tower (2019)
106. The Grizzled (2015)
105. God's Gambit (2014)
104. Sushi Go! (2013)
103. Ghost Stories (2008)
102. Paperback/Hardback (2014, 2018)
101. Bloody Inn (2015)
100. World's Fair 1893 (2016)
99. 4 Gods (2016)
98. Zombicide (2012)
97. San Juan (2004)
96. Dice Forge (2017)
95. 7 Wonders (2010)
94. It's a Wonderful World (2019)
93. Small World (2009)
92. Qwirkle (2006)
91. Roll for the Galaxy (2014)
90. Thunderstone (2009)
89. King of Toyko (2011)
88. Balderdash (1984)
87. Call to Adventure (2018)
86. Century: Eastern Wonders (2018)
85. Welcome (Back) to the Dungeon (2013, 2016)
84. Two Rooms and a Boom (2013)
83. Anomia (2010)
82. Coup (2012)
81. Lost Cities: The Board Game (2008)
80. Quadropolis (2016)
79. Love Letter (2012)
78. D-Day Dice (2012)
77. Turn the Tide (1997)
76. 6 nimmt! (1994)
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Naye745
01/17/20 4:35:39 PM
#298:


the gap between my favorite and least favorite games of yours from this tier is quite impressively large :)

i have some thoughts on century: eastern wonders but i'll wait until spice road for that too

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SBAllen
01/17/20 5:31:02 PM
#299:


6 nimmt is one of my favorite openers for people who aren't big board/card gamers. Super easy to learn and tends to really get people hyped up quickly and ready to try more new things.

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SeabassDebeste
01/17/20 6:10:17 PM
#300:


Naye745 posted...
the gap between my favorite and least favorite games of yours from this tier is quite impressively large :)

can't help feeling like that's true even for myself! hard to rank a lot of these with respect to each other, especially ones that are cool but i don't particularly want to play more, or ones that i've had negative experiences in occasionally but do want to play more

SBAllen posted...
6 nimmt is one of my favorite openers for people who aren't big board/card gamers. Super easy to learn and tends to really get people hyped up quickly and ready to try more new things.

it's good you get that response! it's so different from most hobby games that i wonder if it's a good bridge.
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