Board 8 > a short ranking of the tabletop games i played in 2021

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SeabassDebeste
06/19/22 8:16:03 AM
#101:


not much time for gaming lately!

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yet all azuarc of all sorts are more or less capricious and unreliable - they live in the varying outer weather, and they inhale its fickleness
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Peace___Frog
06/19/22 9:33:32 AM
#102:


Unsure how i missed this topic before! Tagging for sure

A friend and i tried to get wingspan going at pax east, but the rules were difficult to make sense of and ultimately neither of us felt like it was worth it to learn.

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Tom Bombadil
06/19/22 11:07:38 AM
#103:


Wingspan makes perfect sense to me but most everybody else seems to struggle with it, IDK what it is

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KommunistKoala
06/19/22 12:22:36 PM
#104:


i thought wingspan was pretty simple

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Peace___Frog
06/19/22 12:59:45 PM
#105:


Maybe after it gets going, but the instructions were quite lengthy and tedious

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SeabassDebeste
06/19/22 5:19:45 PM
#106:


did someone teach you the game, or did you try to learn it from a rulebook? i think wingspan isn't the hardest game to learn to play, but learning any game straight from the rulebook can be a 30+ minute affair even for just one person - 80% of the time, for me eurogames that take 60+ min to play, i would advise against trying to learn it without a rules teacher right before trying to play it

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banananor
06/22/22 5:18:50 PM
#107:


i've been looking for board game recommendations- hopefully we'll get to the games you whole-heartedly enjoy soon!

had my first board game "day" in a while with new people recently. I had a great time with Oceans as well as Western Legends in particular

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SeabassDebeste
06/23/22 9:15:17 AM
#108:


38. Tzolk'in

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/126163/tzolk-mayan-calendar

Category: Player vs player
Key mechanics: Worker placement, resource management, tableau-building, point salad
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 6
Game length: 90-120 minutes
First played: 2015
Experience: 4-6 plays with 2-4 players (in person), 10+ plays online

Tzolk'in is a Mayan-themed worker placement eurogame. On your turn - of which you have twenty-four, representing one year - you either place or remove one or more workers from the board. You get the actions represented by your workers when you remove them. Between your turns, The worker placement spots are all located on gears, which rotate one tick each round, moving each worker one tick higher on the track. By pulling off your workers, you generally collect and trade a variety of resources, increase your technologies and workers, and purchase monuments for victory points.

The most important part about Tzolk'in is its board. The board is absolutely fantastic - those interlocking gears have an incredible table presence, and it's an ingenious idea to let all the workers "age" (i.e. become more potent in power) by moving a single gear in the center. The central gear also counts as the game timer; each quarter-circle is marked with a feeding phase, while the full revolution indicates that the game is over.

Playing Tzolk'in and identifying goals can feel opaque. The game feels point salad-y; you can score VP in all sorts of ways, from building monuments to advancing on tech tracks to advancing on god tracks (which also give you midgame rewards). There are five different gears that each have eight different steps, and you've got both a limited number of workers and a limited amount of corn (the primary currency of the game), and you need to pay more corn the more workers you place at once, or the higher on a gear you place them. Sometimes you'll be forced to pull workers you don't feel ready to place; sometimes you'll run out of corn and have to beg while placing, or starve during feeding.

I have heard that Tzolk'in can be broken. I believe there is some sort of big-resource strategy that is pretty dominant, though I've never been able to pull it off. Because of the opacity of the strategy and tactics, I can sometimes feel lost.

There's a lot of game to Tzolk'in. I'd really like to get actually decent at it, since it's very satisfying when you actually can get something done in the game. Just need more reps and perhaps a teacher who can explain situations to me. The game can hurt my head but I like it a lot as a mid-heavyweight eurogame.

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Peace___Frog
06/23/22 10:22:18 AM
#109:


SeabassDebeste posted...
did someone teach you the game, or did you try to learn it from a rulebook? i think wingspan isn't the hardest game to learn to play, but learning any game straight from the rulebook can be a 30+ minute affair even for just one person - 80% of the time, for me eurogames that take 60+ min to play, i would advise against trying to learn it without a rules teacher right before trying to play it
It was the rulebook - neither I nor my friend knew anything about the game other than the grapevine's assessment of its quality. That was 100% the issue and I'm sure we would have enjoyed it if we had a teacher.

I really enjoy tzolkin but agree with your salad comment. The times I've played where I felt like I was doing horribly, and not maximizing any synergies at all, I've either won or come within one point of winning thanks to end game scoring that I didn't consider. The one time I felt like things were coming together and I had a plan, I got slaughtered by end game scoring.

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Tom Bombadil
06/23/22 11:37:18 AM
#110:


tzolkin sounds fun to me

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SeabassDebeste
06/23/22 11:38:24 AM
#111:


37. Tigris and Euphrates

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/42/tigris-euphrates

Category: Player vs player
Key mechanics: Tile-laying, area control
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 4
Game length: 60-90 minutes
First played: 2019
Experience: 5-8 plays with 2-4 players

In Tigris and Euphrates, you control one of four civilizations, competing to have the best-rounded civilization in four spheres, represented by four different colored tiles and leaders: religion, trade, agriculture, and military. You score these points by laying tiles and controlling leaders in the corresponding colors. Conflicts will arise when two leaders of the same type are in the same kingdom, either by having one leader deposited into another's kingdom (revolt) or by having their kingdoms joined (war). These result in leaders and tiles being removed from the board and other scoring opportunities. Your final score is the number of points you scored in the weakest of your four categories.

This is one of the oldest (designer) games on this list - released in 1997 by the venerable Dr. Reiner Knizia. It is often cited as one of his absolute best designs and once sat atop the boardgamegeek Top 100.

This is possibly the single game on this list that would jump the most if I created it today versus at the end of last year. I've since played it a few more times at meetups and with friends, and plus gotten in some more reps online.

Tigris and Euphrates is beautifully elegantly designed. Each of the four colors has a unique gameplay purpose, which infuses the seemingly abstract game with more theme than you might expect - the religious temples anchor leaders, who need to have the support of the church in order to maintain their influence; the Trader, when spanning across kingdoms with treasures, will collect the treasures; farms and only farms can cross rivers; and the king of the military will collect points in all colors in which a specialist leader does not exist.

I haven't particularly made strategy breakthroughs in this game. It strikes me as highly tactical - because there is no engine-building, and because of the random nature of the tile-draw, and because you can't control who your opponents choose to attack, to me it feels like you can rarely make big plans beyond a couple of turns and maybe setting up one big-time war or revolt.

For me, this game is just about kind of seeing how the board develops - the initial race to unite the base temples with their treasures, the clusters of tiles that fill up the board, the monuments that may or may not crop up, the reversals of fortune that come when people cut apart a kingdom with catastrophe tiles, the drastic effect of a revolt that allows a leader to steal the support of an established leader, the wars that reshape the board entirely by eliminating the opponent's supporters and blowing their leader off the board. Each player plays all four colors; you are delineated only by your leaders, who are distinguished not by color but by sigils representing your clan (bull, archer, potter, and lion). Again, without much flavor text, art, or chrome, this sort of ebb and flow of the board state can evoke the actual rise and fall of civilizations.

The most Knizian part of this game is the way the final score is determined. You can try to specialize as much as you want - build up that giant military and try to steamroll all your opponents' black tiles and score up to twenty or more black points. But the final score mechanism is so punishing, because if you neglect placing any blue farms, then your score will literally be zero. The idea that in the end, you'll by judged by your weakest category, is incredibly Knizian. In this way, while you may have a "player who's specializing in scoring red" and the "player who's got all the green points," you're forced not to lean into this strength, but to scrape for the way to make up your weaknesses.

And because it remains opaque to me, in some ways I respect the design and experience of T&E more than the attempt to win. While players can get analysis paralysis in Tigris and Euphrates, overall, the game - especially at four players - can often feel almost too short. There's no engine to build, and your desperate attempts to draw into the right points will often leave you scrambling. It's hard to get stuff done, and in some games you won't actually get anything done. But as long as people are moving along, you'll get to be a bystander or victim in others' conquests. And that's part of the beauty of it.

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Peace___Frog
06/23/22 11:39:38 AM
#112:


Tom Bombadil posted...
tzolkin sounds fun to me
It's on bga! And honestly is kind of nicer to play there because it does the math for you.

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Tom Bombadil
06/23/22 11:42:32 AM
#113:


SeabassDebeste posted...
The idea that in the end, you'll by judged by your weakest category, is incredibly Knizian. In this way, while you may have a "player who's specializing in scoring red" and the "player who's got all the green points," you're forced not to lean into this strength, but to scrape for the way to make up your weaknesses.

this is antithetical to my usual playstyle for games (I'm all about wombo combos) and sounds like a blast anyway

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I consider it a challenge before the whole human race, and I ain't gonna lose
(she/her, pronouns in sig oh noes)
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SeabassDebeste
06/23/22 11:58:39 AM
#114:


yeah, tzolk'in might be worth a shot on BGA - but i'd also suggest learning/playing it IRL, because when you're forced to do things by hand, 1. you get to spin the awesome gear manually and 2. you'll understand better how the numbers are calculated.

T&E is a scramble. it's a weird experience that feels totally different from most contemporary eurogames. but it's also pretty brilliant, and even if it doesn't become a favorite, i think it's worth appreciating what T&E actually is. just don't get too attached to thinking anything is "yours," even if you lay the tiles yourself!

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yet all azuarc of all sorts are more or less capricious and unreliable - they live in the varying outer weather, and they inhale its fickleness
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SeabassDebeste
07/01/22 12:33:25 AM
#115:


more to come!

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yet all azuarc of all sorts are more or less capricious and unreliable - they live in the varying outer weather, and they inhale its fickleness
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SeabassDebeste
07/01/22 12:58:47 PM
#116:


36. Stone Age

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/34635/stone-age

Category: Player vs player
Key mechanics: Worker placement, resource management, order fulfillment
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 3
Game length: 45-90 minutes
First played: 2021
Experience: 1 play with 2 players

Stone Age is a worker placement game set in theoretically caveman days, where you try to maximize your victory points. You do so primarily by going to spaces where you collect resources (sometimes with the help of a die) and then going to other spaces where you can claim markers with victory points. Periodically, you will also need to feed your clan of workers or face starvation.

I'll just be honest with you - I remember very little of the details of Stone Age. I played it once at a meetup, and it was the last game of the night, after a brain-burner. It was a 2-player game and I think we might have managed the game in 30 minutes flat, we were blazing through the actions so fast.

And that right there perhaps shows one of the strengths of the game: in one of the strengths of the worker placement mechanic, it's incredibly fast to make any individual action. By reputation, Stone Age, along with Lords of Waterdeep, is considered perhaps the best gateway game in its genre. And the fact that it could be taught and played with such breeziness, while still maintaining those classic eurogame trappings, is why it's up here.

I'll probably have to relearn the game from scratch next time I play. But the teach will still only be five minutes, and I'll still be able to tear right through it. What's not to like?

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SeabassDebeste
07/01/22 2:45:19 PM
#117:


35. Shogun

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/20551/shogun

Category: Player vs player
Key mechanics: Area control, player combat, troops on a map
Rules complexity (0 to 7): 6
Game length: 120-180 minutes
First played: 2021
Experience: 1 play with 6 players

Shogun is set in imperial Japan, with each player vying for influence for their shogunate. Throughout the game, players muster and feed troops, build structures into their cities to improve life, levy taxes, and of course march into one another's territory for war. The gameplay is broken into a planning phase, when everyone simultaneously assigns each territory they control to perform one of the myriad actions available, and the execution phase, where in a random but partly pre-determined order, each of these actions is resolved for each player's city. Combat is resolved using a cube tower - each player tosses cubes into the tower, and a random assortment of the cubes that went into the tower then come out, and that determines the victor of the battle.

What a glorious assortment of mechanics. Shogun isn't just a straight-up combat game like, say, the Game of Thrones board game. You get points by controlling landmarks that people actually have to create, and on your turn, if you've got enough territories, you're expected to build up landmarks. The taxation also adds another layer of complication, a currency that needs to be checked. And man, that cube tower is fantastic in how you know that the cubes that go in will eventually come out... but you don't know when they will, and which cubes will come out first.

One of the most important aspects to the feel of the game, though, is the structure of a round itself. Like in the Game of Thrones board game, there is a planning phase, where you assign which order you will do for each action. However, the order in which these ten events occur is randomized each round. On top of that, you only know the order of the first five events, meaning the final five events can occur in such an order that you can't actually execute your build step because taxation hasn't happened yet. This type of "commit to a plan without knowing how the steps leading up to it go down" is uniquely murderous for my analysis paralysis (AP) and helped to make for a super-long game.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get to play Shogun again. It's random, confrontational, and kind of rough around the edges. If you don't know the geography of Japan, the locations' names are a bit hard to remember and read off your little markers. But for that one play, what an experience.

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AriaOfBolo
07/01/22 3:12:08 PM
#118:


well that sounds like a game for me, or at least some mechanics for me

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New name, new gender, same great Bolo flavor!
Now with no spaces!
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