Boardgame Geek Top 300 – Play or Played – #250 – 241

What? Two editions of this list in two weeks?

Could Dave be back?

I wouldn’t count on it, but this is a welcome thing to see!

My editor is very happy (Editor: Yeah, so happy I could almost not speak in a monotone)

It’s been a tough Summer, but I feel I’m coming out of it a little bit, which is a really nice feeling.

Not to mention that we’re back to Sunday game days! That’s always a good thing too (A “New to Me” post is coming later this week!)

Should we celebrate?

Let’s all dance.

I won’t be finishing this list by the time I get back to work (that’s next week) but hopefully by the end of the year!

We’ll see.

Anyway, just to let you know, this list was downloaded on February 8, 2021.

So yeah, there are lots of changes.

Let’s begin!

#250 – Above and Below (Red Raven Games) – 2015

Designer: Ryan Laukat

Artist: Ryan Laukat

This is now #267. Must be way too far below.

I think I’ve only played two of the games designed by Laukat and published by Red Raven Games. The first was Eight Minute Empire (2012) which was kind of a nice light game (and I have the app for it now). The second was City of Iron, which was a pretty cool civilization type game that made my brain hurt a little bit.

Unfortunately, Above and Below just has never come out to a game day. I’m not sure why that is, but I haven’t had a chance to play it.

It does have some storytelling in it, so maybe I was under the misperception that it was a legacy or campaign type game?

I don’t know.

Since I’ve never played it, let’s blurb it:

Above and Below is a mashup of town-building and storytelling where you and up to three friends compete to build the best village above and below ground. In the game, you send your villagers to perform jobs like exploring the cave, harvesting resources, and constructing houses. Each villager has unique skills and abilities, and you must decide how to best use them. You have your own personal village board, and you slide the villagers on this board to various areas to indicate that they’ve been given jobs to do. Will you send Hanna along on the expedition to the cave? Or should she instead spend her time teaching important skills to one of the young villagers?

A great cavern lies below the surface, ready for you to explore– this is where the storytelling comes in. When you send a group of villagers to explore the depths, one of your friends reads what happens to you from a book of paragraphs. You’ll be given a choice of how to react, and a lot will depend on which villagers you brought on the expedition, and who you’re willing to sacrifice to succeed. The book of paragraphs is packed with encounters of amazing adventure, randomly chosen each time you visit the cavern.”

It does sound really great!

And since Laukat did the artwork as well as designed the game, you know it’s going to look marvelous.

I would really like to try this sometime.

Hey, with these things starting to happen again in 2022, I can start saying it again!

“Maybe at a convention?”

#249 – Concordia Venus (Rio Grande Games) – 2018

Designer: Mac Gerdts

Artists: Marina Fahrenbach, Dominik Mayer

This is now #188! Apparently having no arms is a bonus as far as games are concerned.

I’ve played (and loved) the basic Concordia game. I can’t wait until the digital version comes out!

I’ve played a couple of the extra maps and expansions on Boiteajeux too.

But I’ve never played Concordia Venus, the standalone “reimplementation” to the game.

What does this reimplementation add/change?

Since I haven’t played it, I’m not sure!

But according to the description:

“Concordia is a strategy game that requires advance planning and consideration of your opponent’s moves. Every game is different, not only because of the sequence of new cards on sale but also due to the modular layout of cities on the 4 different maps included with the game. When all cards have been sold from the market or after the first player builds his 15th house, the game ends. The player with the most VPs from the gods (Jupiter, Saturnus, Mercurius, Minerva, Vesta, Venus, etc.) wins the game.

  • Teams of two players each may play against each other.
  • New personality cards with the goddess Venus allow for new strategies.
  • New maps (Cyprus, Hellas, Ionium) on which to play in addition to the classic Imperium map.

The team play aspect is new, as are the Venus cards.

You can never go wrong with new maps!

What else is new?

I think I need to play this to find out.

This came out in 2018 and I’ve never seen it in the wild. How can that be?

I’m going to have to talk to some people in my game group.

Yes, yes they do.

#248 – Century: Spice Road (Plan B Games) – 2017

Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi

Artists: David Richards, Fernanda Suárez

This is now #261. Maybe it took too many green spices.

Finally a game I’ve played!

Not just played, but reviewed! (and the Golem edition as well)

I’m not going to go into how to play the game here, as you can go to the review for that.

But you’ve already read it, haven’t you?

What do you mean you haven’t? Then get clicking!

I really enjoy this game but haven’t played it in ages. I also haven’t played the 2nd and 3rd games in trilogy, which I would really like to rectify some day.

Does Century eliminate Splendor for me?

I won’t say no to either, but offered the choice, I would choose Century.

That being said, Splendor is on Boardgame Arena right now, so that is getting more plays.

Maybe that could be rectified soon?

#247 – Undaunted: Normandy (Osprey Games) – 2019

Designers: Trevor Benjamin, David Thompson

Artist: Roland MacDonald

This is now #210! They must have taken a couple of extra objective tiles while nobody was looking.

While I haven’t played this one, I do have (but haven’t played yet) Undaunted: North Africa.

I’m looking forward to getting that one to the table once I get back to work!

My poor co-worker (we’ll see if she reads this).

Undaunted: Normandy is a kind of deck-building wargame played out on terrain tiles that are in different configurations based on the scenario you’re playing. The two sides are the Germans and Americans in and around the Normandy beachhead in France.

It’s really deck-building in that you start out with a scenario-defined deck, but taking wounds inflicted by the other opponent can force you to get rid of cards.

Cards represent units that are on the map as well as leaders that can help you build your deck, draw cards, or what have you.

You have a certain number of cards (each representing one man) representing each unit in your deck. You can play a leader card to “Bolster” and add more men for that unit to your deck. However, if you take a hit from enemy fire, you are forced to get rid of a card of that unit. If your deck no longer has any cards for that unit in it, then the unit is dead and the counter is removed from the board!

You gotta be careful when you’re running low.

Card play can also let you move and fire with units, or perhaps take control of a tile (which often is how you meet your victory conditions). Command cards can let you draw more cards, add cards to your deck, or many other things.

I did a post about this game when it was first announced but never actually got it.

Now that I have North Africa, I’m sure I’d love to try Normandy one day.

In the meantime, my co-worker and I will be blazing across the desert sands of North Africa.

#246 – Ethnos (CMON) – 2017

Designer: Paolo Mori

Artist: John Howe

This one is now #250. Not much of a drop. Just slipping away a little bit.

Ethnos is another game I’ve played, and I have to say it was a lot of fun when I did.

It’s amazingly quick even with 6 players (both of our games were an hour) and it has some variety to it as well.

As I said in my linked post, there’s no denying that it is an ugly game.

That map certainly doesn’t pop out at you!

But it’s still such a blast.

Even the pieces are cruddy-looking.

Kind of celtic looking, a little bit
At least they stack nicely!

And the card artwork definitely doesn’t catch the eye.

The poor guy has seen better days
It does look like a skeleton!

But even with all that, I still enjoyed this game a lot in my two plays.

What’s interesting is the card combos that you can build, depending on the factions that are in play.

There are quite a number of races/factions available and there will always be six (maybe one per player, but I’ve only played 6-player games).

I really like the set collection aspect and how it can influence your area control. Do you save up Trolls so you can put a powerhouse group out? But then what will you discard from your hand?

After each round ends, the areas on the board are scored, so you are trying to have the most units in the area as you can. But that’s dependent on how you laid out your sets of creatures. And some of the creatures have alternate effects as well.

What do you do?

I don’t know!!!!

That may be why I sucked at this game.

But I’d love to play it again!

#245 – Hive (Gen42 Games) – 2000

Designer: John Yianni

Artist: John Yianni

This is now #253. Again, not much of a drop. But that’s what happens when you play with bugs.

Hive is one of those abstract tile-laying games (little tiles, but still tiles!) that I’ve never actually seen anywhere. I think I played the app a few times, way back when.

I don’t even know if the app exists anymore, actually.

The cool thing about the game is that you just need a flat surface. You don’t even need a board!

Let’s blurb this since I haven’t actually played it:

Hive is a highly addictive strategic game for two players that is not restricted by a board and can be played anywhere on any flat surface. Hive is made up of twenty two pieces, eleven black and eleven white, resembling a variety of creatures each with a unique way of moving.

With no setting up to do, the game begins when the first piece is placed down. As the subsequent pieces are placed this forms a pattern that becomes the playing surface (the pieces themselves become the board). Unlike other such games, the pieces are never eliminated and not all have to be played. The object of the game is to totally surround your opponent’s queen, while at the same time trying to block your opponent from doing likewise to your queen. The player to totally surround his opponent’s queen wins the game.”

It does look like an intriguing game, and right now I’m kind of a sucker for relatively quick-playing 2-player games (especially going back to the office!) so I wouldn’t mind trying it sometime.

Sadly, that may have to wait.

It looks cool, though, and I know it’s well-loved.

#244 – Onitama (Arcane Wonders) – 2014

Designer: Shimpei Sato

Artists: Jun Kondo, Mariusz Szmerdt

This one has fallen a bit to #257. You gotta keep your pieces intact or this is what happens.

And speaking of well-loved quick-playing 2-player games! (That’s a lot of hyphens).

Onitama is a game that I would love to try. It has a pretty cool app on iOS (and I presume Android). I’ve played against the AI but haven’t played any “live” games yet.

Maybe if one of my friends bought the app? Since it’s, like, a really quick game? Or bring it on a Sunday.

Hint hint (who am I kidding? They’re not reading this anyway).

(And I just discovered that the app is no longer available on the App Store on Apple).

What’s really cool about Onitama is that it’s kind of like chess if you only had a few pieces and the board was very small. And then, instead of each piece having its own movement pattern, the move is dictated by one of the two cards in your hand.

So you can move any piece the way your card says.

But then you have to “discard” the card and take what the other player had already discarded into your hand.

Yes, that’s right! There are five cards in play. Two for you, two for your opponent, and then one that’s on the table.

The first player moves a piece using the pattern of the first card from their hand that they choose, then discards it and takes the one that’s on the table. Then the second player does the same.

So when you do a move, you are then making that same move available to your opponent in a couple of turns!

It boggles the mind.

Just like Chess, if you land on an opponent’s pawn, you eliminate it. The winner is the one who takes their opponent’s “main” pawn or lands on their opponent’s “main” pawn starting space is the winner.

It’s very simple, and I know it’s come out to a couple of game days but I was never in a position to actually play it.

And I want to!

Maybe one day.

#243 – Cthulhu Wars (Petersen Games) – 2015

Designers: Sandy Petersen, Lincoln Petersen

Artists: A lot!

Now #260

Yeah, not going to talk about this one (or link to it).

It’s there, it’s #260 now, and that’s about all you need to say.

#242 – Mage Wars Arena (Arcane Wonders) – 2012

Designers: Bryan Pope, Benjamin Pope

Artists: Way too many to mention

This has fallen to #264, probably because of all the extra clean-up the janitors have to do after each battle. Really, guys? Fire? You know how hard that is to get out?

I really know nothing about this game.

Let’s blurb it to prove that!

“Mage Wars is a tactical board game, a combination of a card game and miniatures game, combining the best elements from each genre. The game is played on an arena game board divided into square areas called “zones”, which regulate movement and the placement of objects. Each Mage (player) starts in a corner of the arena, opposite his enemy.

Each player holds a spellbook, from which spell cards are pulled out as they are cast during the game. This has the feel of being a real Mage, turning the pages of your tome of magic, as you plan your strategy each turn. A point system allows you to choose spells for your spellbook, with more powerful spells and spells outside your schools of training costing more points. You have full access to cast any spell you want each turn, allowing for an unprecedented level of rich strategy and tactics. Many of these spells – such as creatures, equipment, and enchantments – are placed on the board and become objects in the game. Creatures can move around the arena, and attack each other and the enemy Mage. Attacks deal damage, as well as interesting special effects such as Burn, Corrode, Stun, Daze, Push, Cripple, Paralyze, etc. Creatures can be destroyed when they receive too much damage, or can be controlled by powerful curses and enchantments, or contained by walls and other creatures.”

Each type of mage apparently has its own style of play. The Beastmaster tries to rush his opponent and surround it with animals.

This is also a 2-player game, though it is definitely not a lunch-time game at 90 minutes (I wish I had 90 minutes lunches).

But it still looks kind of interesting.

I have not seen this game anywhere, either at my game days or at a convention.

But it’s something I wouldn’t mind trying someday if the opportunity presented itself.

#241 – Western Legends (Kolossal Games) – 2018

Designer: Hervé Lemaître

Artist: Roland MacDonald

This has slipped to #247, probably because the bank keeps getting robbed.

Finally, another game I’ve played!

This one was at Dragonflight convention in 2019. It was a game to sign up for, so I got to play it with a few people who I didn’t know and a person who was teaching and running the game.

It was actually pretty fun!

I really like the sandbox aspect of the whole thing.

You can play as an outlaw. You can play as a good guy who goes after the outlaws. You can be a good guy who suddenly decides to rob the bank (though that’s not really conducive to getting victory points) or vice versa.

That’s a lot of brown…

The world is kind of open, considering how small the map is.

And I loved it!

The photographer who chose two of the same card for the picture has been fired.

I really liked how the cards are basically poker cards, which means you can use them for actual poker or you can use them for actions or what have you.

The other aspect of the game I really loved was the story cards.

Some of them are easier than others.

There are two story cards available at any one time. When you satisfy the conditions of it, you put your disc there and, when it’s full of discs, the story plays out. The results can vary depending on the card and it really adds to the feel of an open world.

I would love to play this one again, but sadly nobody in my game group has it so it hasn’t been played since that Dragonflight (not that there’s really been a Dragonflight since then).

One of these days, though, I would definitely do this.

And maybe I wouldn’t be Wild Bill so I wouldn’t be tied to playing Poker all the time (his ability, once you earn it, is to get a Legendary Point each time you play Poker.

Maybe I could start rabble-rousing!

Or maybe not.

Give this one a try. I know I want another play of it.

(I was red)

I came so close last time!

Here we are at the end of another edition of the Top 300 games on BGG.

Any of these you like?

Any of these you would like to put in a western jail or have hung by the neck in the Town Square?

Let me know in the comments.

Posts in this Series


9 Comments on “Boardgame Geek Top 300 – Play or Played – #250 – 241

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