And we’re back from the long hiatus that I seem to periodically take, like, every month or so.
I really need to have a chat with these demons that seem to get inside my head all of the time and keep me from feeling there is any value in these posts.
You know it’s bad when you say “Next week!” in your post and then it’s almost a month later when the next entry in the series comes out.
At least this time we have an entry where I’ve played half of the games (though one of those was so long ago I don’t have any pictures).
There are so many games in this list and others that are perfect convention games, or at least games that would suit me better playing at conventions.
So many that it makes me really miss the conventions that I’ve gone to over the last few years.
I miss the camaraderie, meeting new people, and all of that good stuff.
Dice Tower West being the last convention I went to before all of this COVID stuff locking everybody down really emphasized the point. I met so many great people there, both brand new people to play games with as well as Internet “personalities” that I had interacted with but never actually met.
There was Kiki, Anna-Maria, Meeple Overboard (sorry, I don’t remember your “real name”!), briefly meeting Tom Vasel and Eric Summerer, and so many others. (And here’s where we’ll confirm that none of these people read this blog…)
I will try for a humorous introduction next time, but it’s kind of hard right now, so let’s just get on with the next 10!
Maybe when this is done (you know, sometime in 2021), I’ll do the Top 300!
Oh, before I forget, this list is taken from the BGG Top 200 as of September 20 the order may have changed since I did this.
I hope you enjoy this one.
Artists: Lina Cossette, David Forest
This is a game that’s now at #153, so it’s fallen a little bit.
Santorini is a 2-player game that’s kind of hard to describe.
You are basically building up a little city and trying to have one of your builders reach the third level of a building.
That doesn’t really sound like much, does it?
It gets a bit more intricate from there, though.
Each player starts with two builders on the board which has no buildings on it whatsoever.
On your turn, you will move one of your builders, and then build something in a square next to it (unlike many games, “next to” includes diagonal).
If there’s nothing in the square next to your builder, then you will build a Level 1 structure. If there’s already a Level 1 structure and you are on Level 1 in your square, you can build a Level 2. Or a Level 2 you can build a Level 3 if you’re already on a Level 2.
You can’t, for example, build onto Level 3 if you’re at ground level, in other words.
Building onto a Level 3 will actually build a dome, which means that you can’t move your builder there. The dome makes that space ineligible to move a builder to.
You can move up one level when you move, so you can move from ground level to Level 1, or Level 1 to Level 2 if they are adjacent, or even Level 3.
What are you trying to do?
You’re trying to move one of your builders to Level 3 of any building.
If you do, you win!
Thus, you are moving your builders, trying to make it so you can move to the 3rd level without being interfered with by the other player.
When looking at it, it almost feels like there’s no way anybody could win because there will always be a way to stop them. But when you’re playing it, you discover that eventually it might become inevitable.
I’ve only played this twice, and both were on the same night back in 2017. However, I do remember really liking the game and I wouldn’t mind trying it again.
Sadly, in my game days, 2-player games don’t get played often, so this one probably won’t get played again unless it’s an impromptu game at a convention.
Maybe I could play it with one of my online buddies! (Who probably aren’t reading this blog, but oh well…).
This one definitely earns it’s high spot, and I would really like to play the “alternate player powers” or god powers which add some variability to the whole thing.
I could see it becoming a bit samey otherwise.
Definitely a “will-play-again” game, though.
Designer: Cody Miller
Artists: Cody Miller, Steve “Coolhand” Tyler, Peter Wocken
This is a game I haven’t played yet, but I would love to!
My pal Sean from Thing 12 Games really loves this game, and unfortunately the time I saw that they were playing was the Sunday of Dragonflight when I was about ready to head out for home.
But if we ever get to a convention together again, I really want to play this one!
What is Xia: Legends of a Drift System?
It could be anything you want it to be.
Pick up and deliver? Xia has your back!
This is apparently the ultimate in sandbox games.
Let’s blurb it since I haven’t played it before (wow, where have we heard that before?)
“Players fly their ships about the system, completing a variety of missions, exploring new sectors and battling other ships. Navigating hazardous environments, players choose to mine, salvage, or trade valuable cargo. Captains vie with each other for Titles, riches, and most importantly Fame.
The most adaptive, risk taking, and creative players will excel. One captain will rise above the others, surpassing mortality by becoming Legend!”
I love the idea of this game. The board is randomly laid out with hex tiles. You can play peacefully and try to get points that way. You can fight, either pirates or maybe even other players.
I think this is kind of a long game, which is one reason I’ve shied away from it in the past. Boardgame Geek says it could take up to 3 hours. Not good on the Sunday morning of a convention, at least for me.
But one day I shall play this!
And I will laugh as Sean wipes the game board with me.
But I will have fun.
And that’s the most important thing!
Designers: Michał Oracz, Jakub Wiśniewski
Artists: Paweł Niziołek, Michał Oracz, Piotr Gacek
This one has moved up slightly to #147.
This title has always fascinated me, and I’ve definitely played the app that it’s based on (though I haven’t done very well with it).
What is this game?
Basically players are survivor civilians in a city in a war-torn country.
You are scraping by on what you can scavenge and maybe you’ll actually run into other people that you can help just as much as they can help you.
During the day, you’re confined to the ruined tenement house that you’ve made a home for yourself in. You’ll be clearing rubble, maybe building stuff, feeding yourselves, and maybe improve the security of your building.
Once night falls, some of you will be going out to see what food, weapons, or other supplies you can scavenge from ruined buildings near you. Others will be providing security for your building to make sure others don’t break in and try to scavenge the stuff you’ve saved.
The interesting thing about the game is that it’s designed so that you don’t have to read the rulebook at all.
“The project aims to omit the usual boardgame threshold – TWOM: The Board Game is an INSTANT PLAY game, with no need for reading the manual before starting the adventure.
Experience the simulation of a struggle for survival as a group of civilians facing a blind and merciless war.”
I’m not sure how well that will work, but it’s an interesting thought!
The video game is very cool though I’m not very good at it.
I’d love to give this one a try, though everybody I’ve heard talk about the game says that it’s pretty depressing.
Since you are basically surviving throughout the game, I can definitely see that!
I love the fact that the game apparently gives you moral choices. Not only do you have to survive, but you have to try to survive while keeping your humanity intact.
Sometimes that’s not possible, so you will live with the decisions you make. Maybe you’ll turn away a hungry refugee. Maybe you’ll kill somebody for food even though they just want food too.
But thought-provoking, and something I would like to try once.
Designer: Inka Brand, Markus Brand
Artist: Dennis Lohausen
This one has unfortunately fallen to #150. Somebody rate this higher so it can move up!
Finally something that I’ve not only played, but that I really like!
Village is an interesting game because some people think of it as “worker placement” but it really isn’t.
Instead, resource cubes are placed out in a bunch of different areas.
Each turn, you have to take a cube. If it’s a non-black cube, you keep it and can spend the cube for various actions you want to take.
A black cube is a plague cube which I’ll explain in a minute.
After you take the cube, you can do the action there, which may include placing one of your family members into the space to do something.
In the craft area (like the one in the picture above), you can place a family member in one of the buildings which will let you produce things (cows, horses, scrolls, etc).
In many of the places, you will be spending time.
What is time?
Time marches on. Each “time” spent will move your disc along the outside track on your farm.
When it crosses the bridge at the top, you have to “kill” one of your oldest family members (family members are generations 1-4). If there’s room, your dead family member will go into the Village Chronicle in the space where it was (Crafting Farm, Travelling, etc), with deeds told for generations to come (i.e. generating victory points depending on how many of your members are in the Chronicle).
The game ends when either the Chronicle is filled or when the unmarked graves are filled (if there’s not room in the Chronicle, your dead family member will go to an unmarked grave).
At that point, the other players get one more turn but the player who triggered it doesn’t. (rather unusual, I think…usually, either it’s an equal number of turns or each player gets one more turn).
You total up all the victory points earned in various ways (the Council building, Market customers that you’ve sold products to, etc) and whoever has the most is the winner!
The two expansions to Village are also very good. I find Port to be almost essential (I don’t like how Travel works in the base game). Village Inn I’ve only played once but I did enjoy it.
I really like the time aspect of the game, and how you have to “strategically kill” your family members to make sure they are in the proper place when they die.
My wife hates that part, by the way, but she has said she’ll play it with me again if I really want to.
It’s a rather unique game and I love the decisions you have to make with how the time works.
You really should try Village at least once, just to see if the “take a cube, possibly kill your family” aspect of it works for you.
I know it’s one of my faves and I’ll play it any time it’s offered.
Designers: Roberto Fraga, Yohan Lemonnier
Artists: Ervin, Sabrina Tobal
This one has fallen to #148, but it’s still in the top 150 so that’s great!
Captain Sonar is a real-time team game where up to 4 players on each side play various roles on a submarine trying to sink the other team’s submarine.
Each submarine has 4 roles (it’s ideally an 8-player game though there are rules for having fewer players). The Captain, Chief Mate, Radio Operator, and Engineer.
I’ve only played this once at a convention and it just reinforced that I’m not a fan of real-time games.
Thankfully, I was the Engineer so I only had to keep track of the weapons and which ones needed to be charged.
I was lucky enough to have the incomparable Suzanne Sheldon (from the Dice Tower though she wasn’t a regular part of it at the time) as my Captain, so we did end up winning of course.
It’s an interesting game, but since my one experience of it was 3 years ago, let’s blurb it just to make sure I’m not talking out of my ass.
“All the members of a team sit on one side of the table, and they each take a particular role on the submarine, with the division of labor for these roles being dependent on the number of players in the game: One player might be the captain, who is responsible for moving the submarine and announcing some details of this movement; another player is manning the sonar in order to listen to the opposing captain’s orders and try to decipher where that sub might be in the water; a third player might be working in the munitions room to prepare torpedoes, mines and other devices that will allow for combat.”
The game can be played in real-time or turn-based, but to be honest I can’t see the appeal of turn-based in this case. The fun of the game is in the real-time aspect as your captain is calling out orders and you’re trying to find the other sub to sink it.
Sadly I have no pictures of the game, because there literally wasn’t time to take any (I think my captain would have been pissed at me if I had taken the time).
It definitely was fun but real-time games really aren’t my thing and it’s not something that I really need to play again.
It was reimplemented as a 4-player game called Sonar, but that doesn’t sound like it would be that fun.
I could be wrong, of course. I often am.
I can see why this game is popular, but it’s not one that I really need to repeat.
Unless, of course, Suzanne needed another engineer (the simplest role and thus I did kind of excel at it).
Give this one a try before you say “no” but for me, it’s not at the top of my list.
Designer: Tom Lehmann
Artist: Julien Delval
I took so long to post this that it’s actually moved far enough ahead to be in the next post! It’s currently #138.
This is a really interesting “deck-builder” game, and I put that in quotes because you really aren’t going to be putting many cards in your deck.
I played this a couple of time’s and it’s actually pretty fun. I played it 2-player and while it was fine, I wouldn’t recommend it that way.
But I then played it 4-player and while I really sucked at it (I won the 2-player game), it’s much better that way.
I explained how to play it when I first played it in November 2019, so I’m not going to go into that here.
However, I will say that this is a fun game that deserves to be played at any player count.
I like how you only have so many cards in your deck and you won’t be drawing that many, so you have to really figure out the best way to gain resources and buy more cards.
Especially, you have to figure out how to buy the Places of Power that will give you a lot of VP and also nice abilities to trade up your resources (or perhaps even get victory points for certain resources).
It’s interesting how the game end works, with the check at the end of each round to see if somebody has enough victory points.
However, like in my 2-player game, sometimes a card you have may trigger the game-end check early and you can totally surprise your opponent and win that way.
The unpredictability of this game is why I really like it.
It’s not in my Top 25 or anything (at least it probably won’t be when I do one next year) but it’s definitely a game that I will play if it’s offered.
It’s quick, it’s easy to learn, and it has some really nice choices to make when you’re playing it.
Designer: Chad Jensen
This post took so long that Combat Commander is now #145! Not much of a change, I guess.
Anyway, this game has really attracted me because back in the day (like, *way* back in the day), I was really big into Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader. I loved the squad-level mechanics and I played the hell out of this game in college.
But I got out of wargames and I haven’t played any since.
Watching plays of Combat Commander has reawakened that old nostalgia about Squad Leader, though, and I really would love to play this one again.
The card-based mechanics look really interesting.
Instead of just moving your units and possibly having them obliterated because you moved them across open ground, Combat Commander uses cards to facilitate firing and moving.
Let’s blurb this because, unfortunately, I have never played it.
“Players attempt to achieve victory by moving their combat units across the game map to attack their opponent’s combat units and occupy as many objectives as possible. The degree to which a player succeeds or fails is measured by a scenario’s specific “Objective” chits, the destruction of enemy units, and the exiting of friendly units off the opponent’s board edge.
A game of Combat Commander is divided into several measures of Game Time. There is no sequence of play to follow, however: each Time segment is divided into a variable number of Player Turns, each of which may consist of one or more Fate Card “Orders” conducted by the active player. Fate Card “Actions” may generally be conducted by either player at any time. “Events” — both good and bad — will occur at random intervals to add a bit of chaos and uncertainty to each player’s perfect plan.”
The design by Chad Jensen (sadly now deceased) really looks cool and I hadn’t really thought much about this game.
Until Amanda played it on a Heavy Cardboard live-stream and I kind of fell in love with it.
But sadly, I will probably never get to play it except at a convention.
Still, it’s a grail game and one day I will get to play it!
Designer: Ryan Laukat
Artist: Ryan Laukat
Another game that’s shifted since I downloaded the top 200 on BGG. This time it’s at #144, so it’s fallen slightly.
I’ve only played one of Ryan Laukat’s games (City of Iron a couple of years ago) and it’s not for lack of wanting to.
It’s just that they’ve never come out at our game days.
It’s too bad because Laukat is a well-renowned designer and his games are supposedly pretty good.
Let’s blurb this since I have no idea what I’m talking about (Editor: so you should probably blurb pretty much everything on this blog, right?)
” In Near and Far, you and up to three friends explore many different maps in a search for the Last Ruin, recruiting adventurers, hunting for treasure, and competing to be the most storied traveler. You must collect food and equipment at town for long journeys to mysterious locales, making sure not to forget enough weapons to fight off bandits, living statues, and rusty robots! Sometimes in your travels you’ll run into something unique and one of your friends will read what happens to you from a book of stories, giving you a choice of how to react, creating a new and memorable tale each time you play.
Near and Far is a sequel to Above and Below and includes a book of encounters. This time players read over ten game sessions to reach the end of the story. Each chapter is played on a completely new map with unique art and adventures.”
Yes, this is another campaign game in a sense. There is an ongoing story that you play through in multiple sessions.
This is probably why I will never get to play it. I don’t have a game group that wants to consistently play the same game.
But maybe one day.
It’s a fairly popular game, so I’m sure I will eventually have the opportunity.
Designer: Ted Raicer
Artists: Charles Kibler, Terry Leeds, Rodger B. MacGowan, Mark Simonitch
Another symptom of this post taking so long to actually be produced. Paths of Glory is now #143 and still going strong (though dropping a bit, I think that’s because somebody jumped way higher than it was originally).
It’s nice to see another wargame make it into the top 200 on BGG.
World War I has been an under-represented area of wargaming, probably because a lot of it is seen to be so stagnant, with trench warfare and the lines of both sides being fairly stagnant.
Designer Ted Raicer was a bit ahead of his time, as Paths of Glory first came out in 1999. However, I believe GMT Games has updated the game recently. It’s now in its 6th edition!
The game, as with most of GMT Games wargames which I haven’t really been too much a part of recently, looks very cool and I’d love to give it a try some day.
Let’s blurb this since I’ve obviously never played it.
“Paths of Glory: The First World War, designed by six-time Charles S. Roberts awards winner, Ted Raicer, allows players to step into the shoes of the monarchs and marshals who triumphed and bungled from 1914 to 1918. As the Central Powers you must use the advantage of interior lines and the fighting skill of the Imperial German Army to win your rightful ‘place in the sun.’ As the Entente Powers (Allies) you must bring your greater numbers to bear to put an end to German militarism and ensure this is the war ‘to end all wars.’ Both players will find their generalship and strategic abilities put to the test as Paths of Glory’s innovative game systems let you recreate all the dramatic events of World War I.”
The game is card-driven, like many modern war games, and thus victory can fall on the play of a great card at the right time.
Let’s do a second blurb. (Don’t look so shocked…I can do more than one blurb.)
“While the game itself has all of the normal expectations of a wargame, with various units, CRT charts and period chrome, at heart the game rests within the card play. Players are given a hand of cards to play out six sub-phases of a turn. Each sub-phase allows for the use of a card or a pass with a minimal movement of units. Each card has four possible uses: operational movement, strategic movement, special events, and replacement points. The cardplay forces players to constantly make tough decsions as they feel that they need to do a little bit of everything but they can only do one thing at a time. How you play your cards will decide to a large degree the outcome of the war.”
Yes, I think that describes it perfectly (as somebody who actually hasn’t played it so may be talking out of his ass).
The game uses point-to-point movement instead of hexes, which seems to be the rage in war games now (though a bunch of games are ignoring that for more hex-based goodness).
I have to admit that wargames are still fascinating to me even though I don’t have any opponents to actually play them with.
I may actually be getting a play in of the new wargame Caesar: Rome vs Gaul in with a friend of mine on VASSAL, so maybe I will actually begin getting that wargame feeling again.
This is one that I probably won’t try on VASSAL just because it is so foreign to me.
But I’d love to see it in action!
Designers: Rustan Håkansson, Nina Håkansson, Einar Rosén, Robert Rosén
Artsts: Ossi Hiekkala, Jere Kasanen, Paul Laane, Frida Lögdberg
And with one game jumping into what should be the next set of 10, Nations also falls one spot currently, to #142.
Nations does have a similar feel to Through the Ages, but I have to say that I love the latter a lot more than the former.
For some reason, Nations never really tripped my triggers though it is an interesting civilization-building game.
I’ve played it twice, but both plays were in 2015 so I have no current feel for the game.
Sadly, my two plays of the game were so uninspired that I didn’t take any pictures of the game (though that could have been because it was so early in my game-playing era that I didn’t think pictures would be useful).
Let’s blurb it since my knowledge of the game is 5 years old.
“Players choose a Nation and a difficulty to play at, similar to the Civilization computer games series. After the growth phase, 2 historical events are revealed, which the players will compete for during the round. Then players take a single small action each, in player order, as many times as they wish until all have passed. Actions are:
Players each have individual boards that represent their Nation. There are many ways that players affect, compete, and indirectly interact with other players. But there is no map, no units to move around, and no direct attacks on other players.”
I remember there was always an end-of-turn event or goal that players were working towards that would affect their production or something like that.
For some reason, this game just never clicked with me in my two plays. I know one of my friends hates it, but I don’t think his attitude affected my enjoyment.
Instead, I just didn’t have as much interest in it as I did Through the Ages (even though I’ve only played that once on the table, I’ve played the app many times).
Maybe it was too fiddly, maybe it just didn’t give me that same feeling of building a civilization that Through the Ages did.
Whatever the case, I’d like to try this one again and see what I could make of it now. Admittedly, 2014 and 2015 I was still a relative novice at gaming so it’s possible I’d get more out of it now.
Or maybe I’d hate it as much as my friend does.
That’s always possible!
And with that, we get to the end of another 10 games in the Top 200. At this rate, we’ll probably finish by the end of 2021 (no, that is not a typo).
This time, I’ve played 5 games out of 10, with another one that I’ve played the app. However, the boardgame of that one is based on the app rather than an app-implementation, so I don’t think that counts.
I’ve completely lost track of my totals, but I am hoping that the next set of 10 games will have more that I’ve played!
It will make these posts easier to write.
This is the third post this week on the blog, so hopefully that will keep up as a trend!
Somehow I doubt it, but it’s a noble goal!
Have you played any of these 10 games? I have a feeling a couple of my friends will have played at least one or two of them (I’ll leave them to guess who I’m talking about).
Let me know in the comments whether these are games you’ve played, would like to play, or would like to have at the end of a bayonet and put it out of its misery.
Maybe see you with another one of these next week! (Editor: I just spit out my drink laughing so hard)
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