I such a timely guy, aren’t I? The first post in this series came out what seems like months ago (it was over a month ago, on February 15).
What’s taken so long for the second post?
Would you believe I fell asleep?
All those other posts since then…they were scheduled back in February.
Even the news posts.
Yeah, that’s it.
Oh, all right. Yes, I’m just lame.
Hopefully the next one won’t take as long to get to.
It’s time for a look at the next 10 games in BGG’s Top 300 games. This list was recorded on February 8, 2021, so there will be some movement. I’ve noted that where applicable.
Let’s get this started.
I see bears on the horizon!
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Artist: Klemens Franz
This one has fallen to #291, probably because I don’t like it. (That is what the typical BGGer thinks, right?)
Tetris-style games where you are placing oddly-shaped tiles usually doesn’t do anything for me. Patchwork is really the only one that speaks to me. Otherwise, I’m pretty much turned off by it.
Thus we get to Bärenpark, another tile-laying game where the bears you are trying to place in your park are of all different shapes.
It’s a pretty cool theme, with players trying to build their own park full of bears (something that Paul, formerly of Shut Up & Sit Down, would probably like). But my one play of it, I just bounced off of it completely.
Not because it’s a bad game. It’s popular for a reason.
But tetris tile-laying just isn’t fun for me. My ability to see shapes and how they best fit with other shapes, just isn’t there.
That’s why, in my one play of it back in 2018, I got 59 points while the winner had 114 (and even third place had 82).
I just suck at them!
And thus it’s not a game for me.
If you like this type of tile-laying game, though, you should definitely give this one a try!
It’s a very good example of the genre.
Designer: Stefan Feld
Artist: Harald Lieske
This one has fallen to #292 and I don’t have as good of a reason for it in this case. Probably some kind of anti-Feld bias, right?
This isn’t the anniversary edition of the game, which I have played.
Instead, this is the regular game that came out in 2007.
I’ve played Notre Dame once (the anniversary edition, as I just said, weren’t you listening?) and it was a fairly fun game.
It’s no Castles of Burgundy or anything. I’ve found myself liking some Feld games and being kind of “eh” towards others. I don’t think I’ve actively disliked any Feld game I’ve played, though.
In Notre Dame, players are heads of influential families in Paris in the 14th century.
Each family controls a borough of Paris, and during the game you’re trying to extend your influence.
Let’s blurb this since it’s been almost 4 years since I’ve played it:
“Players play as well-off Parisians in the 14th century who wish to improve the importance and appearance of the city quarter around the famous Notre Dame cathedral. The primary game concept is original, but simple, card play players use to permanently improve their influence in the quarter. However, turn after turn, round after round, players must make choices that can have major implications. If one does one thing, then the other can’t be done. Concentrating on one aspect means automatically ignoring another, which, above all others, is particularly dangerous in the case of the gradually approaching plague…”
It’s an interesting game and I didn’t do that badly at it.
I’d like to play it again just to see how I do and see if it feels more like a normal Feld than it seemed to me at the time.
It is a normal Feld in that you can get points for doing pretty much anything.
The trick is to optimize your points.
And that’s something I’m never good at.
Anyway, I’d love to play this again. Maybe once we start meeting in person again!
Designers: Forrest-Pruzan Creative, Kami Mandell, Andrew Wolf
Artist: Joe Van Wetering
This has fallen to #289. Probably some kind of Voldemoort spell.
This is a game I’ve never played, though one of my friends does (or did) have it.
It plays 2-4 players, so I’m not quite sure why it’s never made it to the table. Maybe not pushing hard enough? (We’ll see if she’s actually reading this post…)
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a deckbuilding game where you can play one of the 7 movies (or books? I’m not sure, but if it’s movies, they will have to account for the fact that the 7th book was split up so there are actually 8 movies).
Let’s blurb this one since I don’t have a Petronus of my own.
“The forces of evil are threatening to overrun Hogwarts castle in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, a cooperative deck-building game, and it’s up to four students to ensure the safety of the school by defeating villains and consolidating their defenses. In the game, players take on the role of a Hogwarts student: Harry, Ron, Hermione or Neville, each with their own personal deck of cards that’s used to acquire resources.
By gaining influence, players add more cards to their deck in the form of iconic characters, spells, and magical items. Other cards allow them to regain health or fight against villains, keeping them from gaining power. The villains set back players with their attacks and Dark Arts. Only by working together will players be able to defeat all of the villains, securing the castle from the forces of evil.”
I’m not sure if I would want to play as Neville, but then again he won the Cup for his house because he stood up to Harry and his friends (before getting frozen) so it wouldn’t be too bad.
Am I showing how long it’s been since I’ve seen any of the movies, much less read the books?
I’d definitely be up for playing this cooperative game if it came out on a game day.
Assuming something better wasn’t on offer (for some reason, I’m thinking that’s probably why I didn’t suggest this one when it came out).
Now that I’ve actually booked my hotel room at OrcaCon for January 2022, so I’m actually thinking about a convention again, maybe at one of those?
(It feels so good to actually be seriously thinking about a convention again)
Designer: Reiner Stockhausen
Artists: Klemens Franz, Andrea Kattnig, Jeff Oglesby
This has fallen to #288, probably because it got stuck on a mountaintop somewhere.
Altiplano is supposed to have a big vibe from Orleans by Tasty Minstrel Games. Not having played it, I can’t really say, though I have played Orleans and enjoyed it, at least somewhat.
Altiplano is a bag-building game set in the South American highlands.
Otherwise, I really don’t know much about it, so let’s blurb it!
“Each player starts with a unique role tile, giving them access to different goods and methods of production. Players have limited access to production at the start, but they can acquire additional production sites during the game that open up new options. The various types of goods — such as fish, alpaca, cacao, silver and corn — all have their own characteristics and places where they can be used. For example, while silver can be sold for a high price at the market, fish can be exchanged for other goods at the harbor and alpaca can produce wool at the farm that can then be made into cloth.
Aside from building up an effective production, players must fulfill their orders at the right time, develop the road in good time and store their goods cleverly enough to fill their warehouses in the most valuable way. Often, a good warehouse keeper is more relevant in the end than the best producer.”
Does that help you get it?
Not me, but it’s a game that was very popular when it came out and I would really like to try it at some point.
One day it may come out at a game day.
Or maybe not.
If it does, I am there!
Designer: Karl-Heinz Schmiel
Artists: Marcus Gschwendtner, Harald Lieske
This has fallen to #290, which I assume is because a number of newer games skyrocketed to the top. I mainly believe this because last time I looked, it had actually moved up.
Die Macher is a game of German politics and appears to be very heavy. The weight on Boardgame Geek is 4.32 out of 5.
That’s heavy! It’s almost as heavy as my cat.
It’s also a game I’ve never played.
A few of my friends, at one of our local conventions, liked the game well enough that they actually scheduled a time where they could all play.
Since I have no idea what this game is (other than about German politics), let’s blurb it!
“Die Macher is a game about seven sequential political races in different regions of Germany. Players are in charge of national political parties, and must manage limited resources to help their party to victory. The winning party will have the most victory points after all the regional elections. There are four different ways of scoring victory points. First, each regional election can supply one to eighty victory points, depending on the size of the region and how well your party does in it. Second, if a party wins a regional election and has some media influence in the region, then the party will receive some media-control victory points. Third, each party has a national party membership which will grow as the game progresses and this will supply a fair number of victory points. Lastly, parties score some victory points if their party platform matches the national opinions at the end of the game.”
The updated 1997 version also has politics based on the reunited Germany rather than West Germany in the original game.
Since I have no idea how this game goes, I’ll just say this.
I wouldn’t mind trying it out. I’m sort of into heavier games now, or at least trying them out.
But I don’t expect to get the opportunity any time soon, so let’s leave it at that!
I wouldn’t be surprised if Clio has played it, though!
Designer: Julian Courtland-Smith
Artists: David Ausloos, Julian Courtland-Smith, Stéphane Gantiez, Jean-Brice Dugait, Andrew White
This has fallen to #287, probably because of a rogue shark somewhere.
Believe it or not, I have actually played this!
Once, on a Thursday game night when we needed something relatively quick to play.
It’s a cutthroat game, I will tell you that!
In the game, you’re trying to get all of your pieces off of an island that’s slowly sinking into the ocean. The tiles, they be disappearin’!!!!
You’re loading the survivors onto ships that are trying to get to one of the corners of the board, but they may get swamped by sea monsters or sharks!
Since these things are controlled by other players, that’s where the cutthroat aspect comes into play.
I remember really enjoying this game. There was a lot of hilarity and even the “I just killed three of your people!” moves were greeted with laughing rather than curses and promises to kill their first born.
I’d love to play this again, but I stopped going to that game night. Maybe once we’re able to go out and mingle again, I’ll start (it was a 45 minute drive on a Thursday night).
Or, you know, one of you folks who aren’t reading this could bring it to OrcaCon in January!
Designer: Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge, Peter Olotka
Artist: Ilya Baranovsky
This has fallen to #285, probably because of some hot young stud jumping ahead of everybody.
I remember the original Avalon Hill version of this. It had a bunch of player fold-out things that were designed to hide your pieces behind them. They were pretty flimsy.
I don’t think I ever got this played and sold it long ago.
It went out of print for a long time.
Until a couple of years ago (wow, 2019 is “a couple of years ago?”) when Gale Force Nine brought out a new version of it once the Herbert estate actually loosened the asshole a bit to let licensed properties be released again.
Dune, based on the Frank Herbert book (and not the upcoming movie, which is what most of the new licensed games and merchandise are based on), is a game of political intrigue and negotiation.
Since I’ve never played it (I’m sure I didn’t have enough players to play it when I owned it back in the 80s), let’s blurb it instead:
“In DUNE you will become the leader of one of six great factions. Each wishes to control the most valuable resource in the universe – melange, the mysterious spice only found at great cost on the planet DUNE. As Duke Leto Atreides says “All fades before melange. A handful of spice will buy a home on Tupile. It cannot be manufactured, it must be mined on Arrakis. It is unique and it has true geriatric properties.” And without melange space travel would be impossible. Only by ingesting the addictive drug can the Guild Steersman continue to experience visions of the future, enabling them to plot a safe path through hyperspace.”
BGG says that it’s a 2-hour game, but I’m not convinced. Maybe that’s an average time but with some games ending super-quick because of some brilliant maneuver that ends the game within half an hour?
I would definitely like to play this at some point, but since negotiation games are not my strong suit, I would probably really suck at it (I’d probably negotiate away all of my water supplies for a pack of Gummy Bears).
It does sound intriguing, and I’d love to see the difference between the new version and the old one (not that this 50-year-old memory can actually remember what the old version looked like).
This one never even got a sniff at one of our game days, so it’s definitely a convention game if I’m ever going to see it at all.
Designers: Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre, Sergey Machin
Artists: Ben Goldman, Catherine Hamilton, Jacoby O’Connor
This one has fallen to #286, probably because of global warming.
I have fond memories of Evolution, but I’ve never actually played the “Climate” version of the game. I’ve even played the app version.
However, Climate is one that I have no familiarity with whatsoever.
You know what that means!
No, not All You Can Eat Ice Cream Floats at Whitey’s.
Yep, that’s it!
“In Evolution: Climate, players adapt their species in a dynamic ecosystem where food is scarce, predators lurk, and the climate can swing between scorching hot and icy cold. Traits like a Hard Shell and Horns can protect your species from Carnivores while a Long Neck will help them get food that others cannot reach. Heavy Fur and Migratory can protect your species from the cold while being Nocturnal or Burrowing will provide protection from the cruel desert sun. With over 200,000 ways to evolve your species, every game evolves into a different adventure.”
There are a couple of interesting differences from the Evolution I’m familiar with. Mostly it’s cosmetic (draw 4 cards +1 per species rather than 3+1 per, or a Species can have 4 traits instead of 3, but one of them that sounds pretty cool is this one. “The climate moves along a Climate Track based upon the food cards played each round.” That, and there are some trait cards that give protection from heat or cold, which definitely sounds like it interacts with that Climate Track.
Evolution is a fun game that I wouldn’t mind playing again. This Evolution stand-alone version of the game sounds even more intriguing.
Based on my experience with the Evolution app, I know I would suck at it.
But I wouldn’t go extinct!!!
That’s a bonus.
Designer: Seiji Kanai
Artists: A bunch!
This has fallen to #284, probably because somebody got to the Princess before we could.
If you look up “quick games” in the dictionary (and really, why would you?), Love Letter would definitely be pictured there.
This is a game that, if you play it to its fullest (the person who wins 5-7 hands depending on player count) could take half an hour if you’re unlucky, but really you can just play it until you have something better to do and it will still be fun.
Love Letter is a deduction game for 2-4 players.
The game has 16 cards with suits ranging from 1 (Guard) to 8 (Princess). You are effectively trying to get a love letter (hey, that’s why they named it that!) to the Princess before anybody else can. In doing so, you will be trying to eliminate the other players.
Do this three times and you win! Or, like I said, you can just play until you’re tired of the whole thing or that riveting game of Gaia Project has started over at the other table.
Each player has one card in their hand and there is one card that is taken out of the deck secretly so nobody knows what it is.
On your turn, you will draw a card and then play one of your two cards.
Perhaps you will play a Guard, which gives you the chance to guess what card another player has (you can’t guess “Guard,” though, because there are too many Guards in the deck). If you guess right, they’re out of the round!
Or maybe you’ll play a card that will let you compare hands with another player (using the card you didn’t play). Whoever’s card is lower ranked is out of the round!
Or you could play the Handmaid, which makes you immune to all of this stuff (you can’t be targeted for any card effect).
Each round takes probably a couple of minutes, maybe 5 if it goes all the way to the end. So getting to the end of the game doesn’t really take that long.
It’s a perfect lunch time game!
There are so many variations of this game that I can’t even keep track of them all. There’s even a Batman version!
I have (and have played) just the basic version and it’s a lot of fun. It’s not something I would throw on the table all of the time, but I wouldn’t be averse to playing it some more (especially since I haven’t played it since 2018)
Designer: Michał Oracz
This one has fallen to #283, probably because somebody got too close to the base.
I used to play Neuroshima Hex on the iOS app version all the time, but it’s fallen down due to the total breakdown of online async multiplayer. Portal Games took the digital rights back and is supposedly fixing it, but it’s been years and nothing has happened.
I think it’s dead.
Anyway, I’ve never played this one on the table and it sounds like it would be a fun 2-player game (even though it says it plays 1-4, I think it’s best at 2).
This is kind of a duel game where each player is a faction and has its own units. They are maneuvering around a fairly small hexagonal board to try and destroy the other player’s units and, more importantly, its Headquarters is reduced to zero health.
Each player’s army consists of 35 tiles, which will consist of units and special actions. The actions are how you will move and fight (among other things). Otherwise, your tiles are tied down to where you placed them. But some of them have ranged attacks!
Each player’s HQ starts with 20 hit points. When your HQ is reduced to zero points, you lose! Or, if that hasn’t happened by the end of the game (all tiles are out and the Final Battle has happened), whoever’s HQ has the most points left.
I like this one because it has a pretty small board so there’s going to be a lot of combat! There’s no hunkering down in this game.
The app was a lot of fun, but sadly that’s not really much of an option anymore.
Nobody I know has this game, so I think this is a convention game if I’m ever going to play it out on the table.
Which is too bad.
What do you think of these games? Have you played any? Any that are must-plays? Any that should be avoided like that person who gets too close to you at the grocery store because they’re clueless?
Let me know in the comments.
Posts in this Series
Category: Board Games, Top 10Tags: AEG, Altiplano, Andrew Wolf, Area Control, Auction Games, Bag Building, Barenpark, Bill Eberle, Card Games, Deckbuilders, Die Macher, Dmitry Knorre, Dominic Crapuchettes, Dune, Evolution: Climate, Forrest-Pruzan Creative, Gale Force 9, Hand Management, Hans im Gluck, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, Jack Kittredge, Julian Courtland-Smith, Kami Mandell, Karl-Heinz Schmiel, Lookout Games, Love Letter, Lunch Time Games, Michal Oracz, Neuroshima Hex 3.0, North Star Games, Notre Dame, Peter Olotka, Phil Walker-Harding, Portal Games, Push Your Luck Games, Ravensburger, Reiner Stockhausen, Renegade Games Studios, Seiji Kanai, Sergey Machin, Stefan Feld, Stronghold Games, Survive: Escape from Atlantis, The Op, Tile-Laying Games
This is a blog about board games, with the occasional other post for a bit of spice.