A Look At Games Game Information / Mini Reviews 3/2/2011 4:46:28 PM



Recent Additions/Changes (last 90 days) 


Larry is a guy I work and game with who likes to give games funny names. In the sections below, the 'Larry' is his title for the game or other comments.
Game Own? Plyrs Time Rate Comments
10 Days in the USA
Aaron Weissblum
Alan Moon
Out of the Box
2003
Y 2-4 30 6 Essentially the same game as Europa Tour with a couple of changes. First off, the production from out of box is a higher quality production. Larger board with a slight laminate film on it, wooden tile holders (although they are two seperate pieces instead of one), better packaging. With two changes to the system, it seemed 'easier' and not as interesting. The first change was the automobile for going from one state to another via a third state replaced the boats. While it makes it easier, it kind of kills off the travel theme as you could drive from Oregon to Washington via Idaho...why would you? Secondly, the special treatment for Alaska and Hawaii via planes just seems silly. Why not just give them a color with a plane, and then they bheave the same as all the other states when using plane travel. The larger board and tileholders are welcome, but the gameplay seems to suffer a bit vs. Europa Tour. Review Date:11/24/2004
1960: The Making of the President
Jason Matthews
Christian Leonhard
Z-Man Games
2007
Y 2-2 90 7.5 Presidential election game set in the historic 1960 Election year pitting Kennedy vs. Nixon. The game is basically a card driven contest where cards have 2 functions generally of which players choose one on thier turn, and potentially two others if they hold out. Basically cards either provide cubes to be used to add to support in states, support in issues, or support in the media. They also have events that can be used instead of playing them for those other actions. However, cards usually benefit one player or the other, and if you play a card as a campaign action, your opponent can trigger the event by using momentum - which is gathered through the course of the game. Events can also be made non-triggerable by paying twice as much momentum to block - which is rather a nice touch. Nicely, geography matters as it costs points to move between regions, adding some extra decisions as opposed to just plopping cubes down on the map. There is a debate turn with some extra prizes which is battled by players holding out cards on turns 1-5, so that is another way to potentially avoid events that help your opponent too much(while gaining momentum and endorsements as prizes). Then a final election phase where (again) cards held out help you to win support in certain states. The system uses a very clean add/subtract 1 for one system, so it is easy to track who is ahead on anything since there can only be one player's blocks on any space. There is also a clean easy to understand tiebreaker for states with no cubes. Whoever has an endorsement in the area wins, and if there is no endorsement, the state goes to the party shown on the map. While this is an offshoot of the system used in Twilight Struggle, it certainly moves to it's own beat. It is perhaps lighter, but certainly you have no automatic accidental victories, and it seems to be reasonably balanced. Definitely a good game, but it seems that there may be a level of groupthink involved in play also as many reports of playings seem to channel themselves into set patterns of play. Review Date:9/26/2008
6 Nimmt!
Wolfgang Kramer
AMIGO
1994
Y 2-10 45 5.5 Essentially, this is a 4-way game of chicken, with players needing to figure out when they should take points (before they become too large) vs. trying to dodge everything. Since it is unlikely you'll always be able to dodge, the good player will take a few poitns early, in order to setup thier hand to be able to get rid of the high point cards (at someone else's expense later). It does have the advantage of supporting up to 10 players, although 5-6 seems like it would work best. Unfortunately, there are just enough little gotchas in where the cards must be played (which set), that newcomers to the game will need to be reminded. Not a big deal with a few players, but with 8 or 10 new players, it could prove unwieldy. In any event, worth trying out to see if it catches your fancy. Review Date:11/3/2005
aber bitte mit Sahne
Jeffrey D. Allers
Winning Moves
2008
-- 2-5 30 5.5 Game which uses the mechanism where a player divides a pie into different pieces, and the other players take sections with the goal of collecting the most of different types of pie slices. Players can either score immediately the number of whipped cream dobs on the pie slice, or save them for the set collection game with a higher point potential. It's nice and light, but perhaps not enough player options to be truly engaging. Review Date:8/14/2009
Acquire
Sid Sackson
Avalon Hill
1962
Y 2-6 90 7 Classic from Sid Sackson...originally published in 1962. Should have become more popular than Monopoly as it is a much cleaner, better game. Have played several times and gotten beat soundly each time. Game is about forming companies, buying stock, and position for takeovers/stock value increases. Review Date:9/23/2004
Africa
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
2001
Y 2-5 60 7 This is sort of an exploration game combined with a set collecting game. Players move around a map of Africa exposing tokens and hoping to create groups of the same animals, or gather gems/trade items. There are some interesting decisions to be made in the use of camps, and the never known end of game adds some anxiety as well. Certainly not a difficult game (except the trading rules for the trade items) that moves along at a nice pace. Much like Transamerica, while it seems like luck has a lot to do with it, the better players at this game will win more than thier fair share. Certainly a nice 35-45 minute game that's different from most of the typical games of that timeframe. Review Date:2/4/2005
After the Flood
Martin Wallace
Treefrog
2008
-- 3-3 180 5 Martin Wallce Treefrog game for exactly 3 players. This game is about ancient empires in Mesopotamia that are trying to trade for goods, build cities, expand empires, and ultimately garner VPs. While the game has interesting systems that seem to work well together, there seems to be some issues in not really knowing where the game is going. Balance is OK, and some of the ideas are interesting, but there may ultimately be too many things going on, and players may have a hard time focusing in on what really matters to them. Possible that this gets better over time, but it could be one of those things that only clicks with some players. A good effort, but perhaps not good enough for a game with such a limited audience (3P only, pseudo war, economics rolled into one). Review Date:12/15/2008
Age of Steam
Martin Wallace
Warfrog
2002
Y 3-6 120 8 Railroad game where you attempt to create chains of track where you move goods to increase your income level. There is the equivalent of a tax system so that the higher your income level, the farther it drops after each turn. You must be extremely careful as there is definitely a chance to go bankrupt in this one, and forward thinking (and experience) will be needed to get past the 3rd turn. Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Age of Gas
Alchemist
Carlo A. Rossi
Mayfair Games
2007
-- 2-5 40 5 Played online @ Yucata. Game where you are creating alchemy recipes, which not only garner you points, but also garner your opponents points if they can also create them. Since you decide how many points a recipe is worth, you are basically trying to somehow hoard ingredients for the expensive recipes, while meeting as many recipes as possible. Mostly a tactical excercise, the rules for what items you get when completing a recipe make it difficult to shield ingredients from the opponent. Also, a variant that allots bonus points if you can have the least of a certain ingredient tends to counter some of the strategy to hoard certain ingredients. Review Date:2/5/2010
Alea Iacta Est
Bernd Eisenstein
Jeffrey D. Allen
Alea
2009
-- 2-5 60 6 Dice game with a loose theme set in Rome. Players basically get to place dice in different sections which then give different items based on your place. However, since a player (except for a fallback location) must not have the same score in a location as any other player, there is some tension in where/how to use the dice. Also, players may add to thier position, but (obviously they will have less dice to go anywhere else). The long term goal is to gain buildings, and 2 people to go in the buildings - all of the same color. So that makes it a dice based set collection game. It's interesting, but perhaps a bit long with 4-5 players. Not sure how well it would scale down since it seems there would be less interesting decisions with less players. Review Date:8/31/2009
Alhambra
Dirk Henn
Queen
2003
Y 2-6 60 6.5 This is an extension to the Stimmt So! game done previously with some tetris-like additions. In the game you need to draw money (of 4 different types) to buy buildings in 6 different colors in order to build your palace. roughly 1/3, 2/3 and end, there are scoring rounds with points for 1st and 2nd place in each color of building. The twist on the buildings is that most tiles have walls, and they limit where you can place buildings...but you get bonuses for long connected wall segments. The drafting of money/building purchase is very interesting as you can take an extra turn if you have exact denomination for the building, so you want to maximize that, and yet if you wait too long, someone else will get the building you want and then the money you want extra...so timing is of the essence. And while the whole matching of the tiles and walls isn't my favorite type of thing, at least in this game the orientation of the tiles is fixed, making the problem of seeing the connections much easier. Review Date:5/28/2004
Alhambra - The Dice Game
Dirk Henn
Queen
2006
Y 2-6 60 7 Dice game adaptation of Dirk Henn's (seemingly endless) Alhambra. Although this CAN be used with the base Alhambra Game, it IS a standalone game. As a dice game, not only does it work well, and does give the feeling of the Alhambra fight for majorities of colors. Players roll dice up to 3 times and get a score in 1 of the 6 colors. Ingeniously, tiebreakers are handled via fewer # rolls to achieve the same result with the board having space for markers to show this. Once players have taken turns placing all of thier markers (different for different #'s of players), then each color has a 1st and 2nd place player. 1st place either moves thier token up 2 spaces on a dominance track, or takes a special token (randomly drawn) and 1 point on the track. Scoring for each color occurs after rounds 1, 3, 5 with various payouts (as in Alhambra). Gameplay is clean, relatively easy to explain, and since with more players you place less markers/round, the game does not seem much longer than with 2-3. A nice touch as the the 'robot player' Dirk works well in this incarnation, and is not burdensome to setup at all. Anyone who likes dice games will at least enjoy trying this one, and many will enjoy it. Review Date:8/13/2007
Alibi
Markus Nikisch
Adlung-Spiele
2001
Y 2-5 45 5 Interesting card game where you're trying to play clues to matchup with 1 of 4 suspects. Points are awarded based on how many matching clues have been played once a single suspect has 5 or 6 matching clues. Plays pretty well with 2 or 3 players, 5 players not so well as it is typical for the criminal to be found after 2-2.5 times around the table, making most players get 0, 1 or 2 points. There are some special cards to allow 2X cards played, or give one suspect an Alibi. It's a much better game with 3 players than 5. The above rating reflects the fact that it doesn't play well with numbers > 3. Review Date:10/24/2003
All-American Football (1965)
N/A N/A
Cadaco
1965
-- 2-2 60 5.5 Relatively simple fun. Basically, this is a game with some limited play selection (offense and defense) using round discs. A spinner for each generates play results, including having the Defense nullify the offense, penalties, etc. Since your play selections effect probabilities, this is not a complete luck game...although good spinning does help. Once you get the hang of it, a game should easily play in 40 minutes or less. Good for what it is, but I do prefer NFL strategy as a better, cleaner solution to the genre. Review Date:11/2/2005
Alpen Express
Walter Muller
Walter Muller's Spielewerkstatt
2005
-- 2-4 40 3 Kids game. Players get on/off trains moving from an outer level to an inner level and getting off the train. Players win by getting all of thier markers into the center. You roll a die to move the trains, and then you hop on/off. Although it works, it wasn't much fun and turned tedious in not too long a time. Nice pieces/setup, and maybe we did something wrong...but it just was not enjoyable. Review Date:2/6/2010
Amun-Re
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
2003
Y 3-5 90 6.5 Knizia building game set in ancient Egypt. Unlike many Knizia games, this one falters quite a bit with less than the maximum 5 players. Players bid on locations, then develop them, and then score points. The problem lies in the fact that there are bonus cards, which depend on the province locations...and so if you don't know which provinces are available, it's hard to assign a good cost to them simply because you don't know how to factor in possible bonus points to the value. In addition to this, it has just enough fiddly rules that you can't quite just play, with occasional lookups to the rules needed for the first 5-6 plays. Again, very unlike Dr. Knizia. Still, the game has good production values, and the appearance of a PBWEB implementation on SpielbyWeb will ensure that this game gets a fair amount of play...even if auctions are not a good item to implement in a PBWEB interface. This is worth a spin, but won't be for everyone. Review Date:11/2/2005
Aqua Romana
Martin Schlegel
Queen
2005
Y 2-4 60 6.5 Essentially a tile placement game where you are trying to extend aquaducts. The game has 4 types of aqueduct tiles that can be used. The trick is that there are master builders around the outside of the board that you must have in line orthogonally to be able to build the pipes...and only of the type that the master builder builds. After using a builder, the builder moves clockwise, thus changing the row/column of squares he could be used in. There is also a bonus for getting a builder to go around a corner (place an extra unconnected tile of any type). If this weren't enough, there is also a race to finish/close off the players' aqueducts as scoring is by length, with ties dropping back to the next available space. Especially late in the game a player could lose many points by falling back to 1 or even zero. Nice twist on the idea of linking tiles. Review Date:2/7/2009
Aquadukt
Bernhard Weber
Uberplay
2005
Y 2-4 30 5.5 Similar in some ways to Santiago. Players are trying to create towns? whatever and connect them with water. On your turn you can either place a spring, extend water, or place houses. Placing houses is done by die roll, with the board sectioned into 20 regions. Houses range in value of points from 1-4, and you score only houses connected to water supply. While there are some caveats on what is watered, and you must place the lowest point building left in your supply next to springs, the key point of the game - and the problem lies in rolling a die to place. While the ability to stop placing houses in a spot based on the die roll can keep you from losing houses that are not watered (they are removed when a region is filled), it also stops your turn. Thus, the typical problem occurs that you want to place in region X, but the die roll gives you region Y. With the extra complexity (and subtlety) in the rules for canals themselves, it seems a more elegant solution of placing houses other than die roll could have been found. Although, to be fair the game may have been far too prone to analysis paralysis and so the die roll was contrived. In any event, there is nothing exactly wrong, but the game is not quite as elegant as it could have been. Review Date:6/21/2007
Aquaretto
Michael Schacht
Rio Grande Games
2008
Y 2-5 45 8 Follow on game (and also can be played as an expansion) to Zooloretto. It seems to take the best parts of Zooloretto (the excellent adaptation of the Coloretto mechanic) and streamline the rest of the game in ways that makes it not only faster than Zooloretto, but more intuitive and streamlined in the actions, how they work, and how they directly impact scoring. The only overhead is that the players need to think in terms of pens with changing sizes (at the players' discretion by what they put in thier tanks) vs. the easier visualization of the fixed pen sizes in Zooloretto. The extra effort is definitely worth it as this version is the better game in all other aspects, and not really any more difficult to play. Highly recommended. Review Date:12/15/2008
Architekton
Michael Schacht
Queen
2005
-- 2-2 45 6 Another 2 player Michael Shacht game where you lay tiles. In this game, there is a delicate balance between hurting the other player/helping yourself. While you lay tiles for a short-term gain (or loss), in the long term you are trying to create a chain of buildings for yourself that will score...and this is the essence of the contest. A good player will try to create a chain so that an opponent would need to breakup thier own chain in order to break yours up. Leaving an option to breakup your chain plus extend thier own would be a disaster. The drafting mechanism allows some forethought into yoru selections, which is a good thing in this sort of game. Interesting choices, but may (ultimately) not be enough difference in choices from game to game. Review Date:11/2/2005
Ark
Frank Nestel
Doris Matthaus
Rio Grande Games
2005
Y 3-5 45 5 Card game by Doris and Frank about animals getting ready to go away on the Ark. It is an interesting topic to try and build a game, and there are some nice thematic touches. However, there appear to be 1 or 2 too many special rules, which make the 1st or 2nd playing of the game harder than it should be. Add to this that player aid cards were not included (they were on a later expansion) and it can be frustrating fr new players. Perhaps a simplification of the game restrictions on placement would have been better as often times it takes a while to determine that yes, I have no legal placements. Art is very nice (as usual from Doris). Review Date:12/19/2006
Arkadia
Rudiger Dorn
Rio Grande Games
2006
Y 2-4 60 7 This game combines some puzzle/tetris elements wrapped in a tactical game. Although mostly tactical, there is quite a bit of strategic thinking as well. Players place buildings of different shapes and try to surround them on future turns placing markers which will score tiles. Once the building is scored, a player may then place a tile of any of the 4 colors onto the cathedral. Then he may exchange his socred tiles for points based on the # of that color showing in the cathedral. So players will attempt to manipulate the points that thier tiles score - and hopefully reducing the amount the opponent can score. Within this scope, there are considerable options for scoring/creating scoring opportunities. The game flows well and should suit many types of players. Review Date:7/28/2009
Arkham Horror - 2nd Edition
Kevin Wilson
Richard Launius
Fantasy Flight Games
2005
-- 1-8 120 6 Having never played the previous game, and not really aving any interest in Call of Cthulu, the ambiance of this game did not really grab me. As such, to me it was simply a game of moving/vanquishing foes by managing cardplay and the abilities of your character. Thankfully, I played with people who had layed the game before, so it was very streamlined and moved quickly. Alas, as most cooperative games tend to go, there is a lot of group decision making to decide what to do...and it's really counter-prodcutive to not go along with the majority most of the time. As such, I felt like I was merely rolling dice and making 3-4 decisions for the entire game. Perhaps it is better as a solitaire game, or a game with less players (we had 5), but it seemed like most of the real decisions centered around when to try and heal up and the rest just kind of happened. Review Date:11/3/2005
Armorica
Eric B. Vogel
Vainglorious Games
2010
-- 2-4 30 6 Card based game where you are trying to build up your civilization using Gauls and Romans. Basically, it is a set collection game, with special smbols on the card letting you know what you can take from a double tableau. So you can plan ahead to try and pickup cards that not only help you get new cards, but they also help you with some endgame majorities. The set collection part of the game is done as the game is played out. Players take cards on thier turn and they immediately go into thier current set on the table. If they get a card of the same color they already have, that set stops and a new set is started. All sets will score, but scoring increases (N!) based on set size, with maximum being 6 colors for 21 points. The game moves at a good pace, and it is not too difficult for a new player to pickup on. Review Date:8/24/2010
Around the World in 80 Days
Michael Rieneck
Rio Grande Games
2004
Y 2-6 60 6 Race game to be like the great race. The first player to finish is not necessarily going to win the race as you must take less days than everyone else. The game uses a drafting mechanism where you get a card + action. Cards are used to travel around the world, with certain combinations (pairs) taking half the normal time. You must balance your need to get sets with using the specials to keep you close in the race. Each location gives a bonus to the first player to get there and the last player..so some dawdling could help, but too much will cost you as the first player across the finish line starts a counter that adds 1 day/turn to everyone else's finish time. It's possible that there is too much incentive to be first (ie: too much penalty to the middle players), and the game requires an entire complement of players for all of the special options to show up. Still, this is an interesting concept for a race and should be tried by most players. Review Date:11/2/2005
Astron
Unknown
Parker Brothers
1955
-- 2-6 30 6 Game from the 1950's. Basically players play cards to move ships around a map and make landings at different cities while travelling the world. Cards allow different types of movement (diagonal, froward, backward, etc) as well as an option for the map to be moved forward or backward. The game is played on a grid with a scrolling map below (using wheels to make the map scroll back and forth underneath). Many fun and nasty things can be done to opponents when the map scrolls, like making thier ships run into mountains, storms, or overshooting thier targets. Not too taxing a game, but a good amount of control and chaos makes this a fun game to play once in a while...assuming you know someone who has a copy! Review Date:8/14/2009
Atlantic Star
Dirk Henn
Queen
2001
Y 2-6 60 7 A set collection game where you are trying to make a series of cruises by collecting ships to make the journeys. There is much to recommend this game. In particular, the method of determing points by choosing riskier (higher top score), and conservative (higher bottom scores) based on columns the players choose. Additionally, the option to reduce the value of a cruise to gain cash, but only 1/type/player, and only when there are still cruises left to be filled works very well. While not the best, the 2/3P rules work well, and may actually be best for beginners since they will effectively complete 2 games. The only rough spot in the game, is the rule whereby you may have at most 2 cards left in hand after playing a cruise. I'm not sure whether this in fact works better than a simple hand limit...but it's just difficult enough to articulate/plan for, that it can cause some problems for beginners. Many people prefer Showmanger as a better theme, but otherwise they seem to be close enough to not make a distinction between the two. Review Date:3/10/2006
Aton
Thorsten Gimmler
Queen
2006
Y 2-2 30 6.5 2P game by Thorsten Gimmler, ostensibly set in Egypt I suppose. Players have 4 cards per round that they play face down onto 4 spaces. The space played determines what happens, where pieces can be placed, etc. Although the game is very straightforward, there are a multitude of things that can happen depending on the order of the cards and thier values. There are also several methods of winning the game, not counting winning by points, and it is sometimes difficult to see where a quick victory could be obtained. While the method of card play limits your play, as you get used to the game, there are more options than appear at first. This is a game that probably needs to be played 2-3 times to really get a good feel for it. However, the timeframe should be around 15-25 minutes, and this game works well in that timeframe. I think most people would enjoy trying this game. Review Date:12/19/2006
Attika
Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle
Rio Grande Games
2003
-- 2-4 60 7 This is a game that I didn't try for quite a while, but once tried on BSW, I decided to purchase. This is a dual goal building game (although my frank opinion is that the winning by connecting monuments should just be tossed out) where you're trying to build up your city of 30 tokens. The game is a balancing act between having resources in hand, trying to get buildings built touching/in the proper order, and utilizing/managing your hand of resources and the resources on the evolving board. When to draw tiles, from what pile, where to place a new terrain tile, should I build fast but pay resources, how can I block? All of these questions must be answered, although some can be thought out and planned ahead of time. I suspect that over time, this will be best as a 2 player releatively quick game (30-35 minutes). Review Date:7/28/2004
Attila
Karl-Heinz Schmiel
Rio Grande Games
2000
-- 2-5 45 6 This is a game about extending your influence in different regions/tribes. I played it only once, and thought that the game was pretty good except for one facet, the scoring. I have yet to come up with a better way to do it, but what they have is horrible insofar as the tribe influence goes. The players are in 5 different colors (cubes) and the tribes are also in the same 5 different colors. That means, to advance blue 1 on the tribe scorecard for the red tribe, you say move blue up one on red. If I can ever get an elegant way to do this, it may get played more often. I'm also not too thrilled about the region scoring either as you essentially end up counting every single piece on the map to do scoring as well. Review Date:11/2/2003
Auf Achse
Wolfgang Kramer
Rio Grande Games
1997
Y 2-6 45 8 Transportation game that reminds somewhat of Monopoly in that you roll a die, move, do (or not) something based on where you land, may draw event card on some spaces, etc. However, there is strategy in that you are trying to get from 1 location to another to deliver goods, there are opportuinties to bid for new contracts, and trucks can block other trucks (1 way streets) which you can use to delay / cause opponents to go different directions. Fun if kept under 2 hours for 6 players (we were right at 2 hours including 15 minutes for rules). The cool trucks with their cargo bins really help with the flavor of the game. It probably is not as much fun with < 4 though as there will not be much competition for the roadways. UPDATE 2007 Edition. With two changes t the existing rules, they have made a good game very good. The ability to roll 2 dice and choose one is a very simple method of giving players choice, as well as mitigating luck of the roll. The second change is somewhat subtler, but no less profound. It's really two steps. You MUST do something with a contract when landing on a city by exact roll. Additionally, instead of optioning you can discard one contract - although you don't get the choice, it's the 'oldest' contract that is face up. These 2 changes streamline the game, and make it a 45-70 minute game vs. a 60-120 minute game. The new edition also has much better art, although the plastic trucks are not quite as fun. Moving rating up to an 8 for this incarnation. Review Date:9/16/2008
Australian Rails
N/A N/A
Mayfair Games
2000
-- 2-6 120 6.5 One of the Mayfair crayon rail games. The actual gameplay is not super difficult (which surprised me). Basically this is a pickup and deliver game where the routes are built by each player for thier railroad. The gameplay is straightforward, and money is tight through the early game. Played with a variant that Rick Heli uses to have a draft mechanism for the delivery contracts worked well. One thing that would have been very helpful is a card with a miniature map showing all the city locations (and numbering them) to easily cross-index and see where the two cities for a contract are. Something akin to the new cards done by the Rail Baron fanatics where each railroad card shows the route on a miniature map. If this could have been done on the contract cards somehow, (difficult with 3 potentials/card), it would have been ideal, and eliminated much of the time the game takes to play (IMO). Since it's a race to income, with the only requirement being to link up the 5 major cities, there is not much inclination to build in the North/Northwest parts of the map unless you happen to be in the vicinityu and a big contract comes up. I also wonder if overhead projector pens could be used instead of the crayons. All in all, a good game, but learnign the city locations would go a long way to speeding up gameplay, which seems like it could be a bit slow with lots of players. Review Date:5/19/2004
Automobile
Martin Wallace
Warfrog
2009
Y 3-5 120 8 Martin Wallace is making a leap into a weird space. The light-heavy Euro. This game has a fair amount of moving parts, yet MOST of the system is indeed elegant and everything makes sense. That means that players spend a lot less time in the rules, and more on making decisions - which is what Euro Gaming is all about. In this game, players start at the dawn of automobile production and create factories, build cars, sell cars, introduce new models, and demolish old factories. Players make big profits when using factories efficiently (ie: sell off all of thier production). The system has no auctioning (turn order is set via selecting special roles), and just 3 actions/turn for the players, and then special actions which all players have access to. Actions are used to build factories (sometimes for newer models), setup distributors, produce cars, close factories). Once that is all done, then cars are sold based on the demand which is a random tile draw that players have some knowledge of (but not a lot). Before that, players may use executive decisions to increase sales, or discount sales (which also increseases sales) of some models. This is necessary as any unsold cars create loss cubes which cost money immediately, and carry over. There are ways to get rid of loss cubes - but carrying too many around gets expensive indeed. In any event, managing your production/sales/loss cubes/and factories (loss cubes are also generated by factories building 'older technology' vehicles) is what the game is all about. The system works well, makes sense, and gameplay moves right along. Review Date:8/21/2009
Backgammon
N/A N/A
N/A
200
Y 2-2 30 6 It's a classic, but like a lot of classics, it really has two main advantages, which do not necessarily make it a great game. 1) it's easy to teach/remember how to play. 2) It's a somewhat non-threatening game, so it's easier to get people to play.Since I don't typically gamble when playing games, the doubling cube has precisely 0 allure for me. You may as well just ask someone if they'd like to resign thier position. Otherwise, it's a good example of a roll & move game giving options to the players, and certainly skill can overcome some of the dice when played. Review Date:1/3/2006
Balloon Cup
Stephen Glenn
Rio Grande Games
2003
-- 2-2 30 6.5 A nice attempt at creating a card game where both high and low cards are used. Players play on either thier own side, or the opponent's side in a battle to win cubes which can be turned in for cups. There are 4 locations with 1, 2, 3, 4 cubes in them of various colors. Players can only play 1 card / color of cube in the location for each side. Additionally, the cards will either award the winner based on low sum of cards or high sum. After the cubes are awarded the location flips so that the next time it will be the opposite it was before. The game comes down to making decisions on which cubes are most important, how to get them while not giving up too many other opportunites, and hopefully maximizing the use of your cards. A nice effort. Review Date:12/15/2008
Bamboleo
Jacques Zeimet
Zoch Verlag
1996
Y 2-7 30 5 Dexterity game which not only requires some dexterity to play, but a surprising amount to setup! It is basically a game with various shaped blocks/items that need to be placed on a saucer. The saucer stands on top of a cone with a rubber ball at the top. The more interesting you try to make the setup (items far from the center), the harder it is to balance initially. Gameplay is fairly straightforward, but the aggravation of setup may steer some away. Worth trying, but will not appeal to all. Review Date:3/10/2006
Bang!
Emiliano Sciarra
daVinci Games
2002
Y 4-7 40 6 This is a game where you try to hide your identity while trying to fulfill your victory conditions. 1 player is the Sheriff (known), and the rest of the players (up to 6 others) are either the Outlaws, Deputies, or the Renegade. Basically, cards can be played to shoot other people, and once everyone is dead, the winner(s) are declared. Since everyone cannot shoot at everyone else unless they have the weapons to do so, there is some strategy in hidiing your identity as long as possible. Pretty good game for 7 that plays in ~45 minutes. Review Date:11/22/2003
Banque Fatale
Stefan Dorra
Bambus Spieleverlag
2002
Y 3-4 60 6.5 This is a somewhat bizarre closed bidding game where you are trying to obtain cards which act like stock. Each player starts with 2 stones of each color that can be on the cards, and a stock market type situation happens depending on the bid. Since cards can have 1 or two colors on them (even two of the same color), the market price for the card plays into your bid decison as well as how many the card supports. It's a closed bidding system, and the person who bids the most stones gets the card. Prices are adjusted : the color with the most stones bid goes up 2 (all tied colors also go up two), any color with at least 1 stone bid, goes down 1, any color with no stones bid goes to 1. The stones are the re-distributed to the players with each player in turn selecting one of any color until they run out. Then, the player who selected the card for auction can sell a card they own...but only if it didn't increase in value that turn. Any holdings that reach 11 or 12 pay a dividend of 5 or 6, and reset to a value of 6. At the end of game you sell holdings, and the highest money wins. The interesting part of this game is that it's easier to control a price drop, vs. predict/maintain a price increase. You need to pay attention to common holdings between you and other players to try and predict what they will do and counter it. The length is a brisk 30 minutes, and it does well in that timeframe. I would rate it higher if the # of players allowed by the game had a wider range. Review Date:10/15/2004
Basari
Reinhard Staupe
FX Schmid
1998
-- 3-4 45 6.5 Basari is a game where you move around a board (roll & move), where you end up in a market that offers gems. Once you are at a location, you have 3 options, which all players will simultaneously bid on using tiles. First option is to take the indicated gems on your space. Second option is to take the indicated number of points on your space. Third option is to roll the die and move/score. Roll a 1 and you move 1 and get 5 points, roll a 2 move 2 and get 4, etc. If 1 player only chooses an action, then they get that action. If 3 or 4 choose the action, neither gets to take the action. If 2 choose, then they must bribe the other player with gems in order to take the action. A scoring round ends when a player makes it around the board (each player has a start marker), and all players who do so will get 10 bonus points. When scoring, whoever has a majority in each gem type scores points, but will lose 3 stones after scoring. A little easier to explain than the subsequent Edel, Stein and Reich, it may be a better fit for the american gaming public. There are only 3 options instead of 4, and the roll/move mechanic is much easier to explain. Unfortunately, I found that the extra time it took me to look for a pawn, then look for the correct player and thier gems detracted from the game. In ES&R, there is no board, and players have cards in front of them representing thier options which is much easier to see who needs what and why. Still, this is well worth playing and certainly I can see some people having a preference for this one. Certainly there is a fair amount of luck in both since you could get nothing if too many people pick the same thing, but overall your choices do matter, and bargaining is really where the game can be won/lost. The other downside to Basari is that it is strictly a 3-4 player game, which could very well limit the opportunities to bring it out. Review Date:6/5/2006
Battle Line
Reiner Knizia
GMT Games
2000
Y 2-2 30 8 This is an excellent card game for 2 players. It's kind of like playing poker with 3 card hands. Easy to teach and learn. Has a great quality in that you must make very difficult decisions on how to proceed since you could give someone a winning position on a flag and remove your ability to discard 'garbage' cards. You need to capture flags with higher hands than your opponent and either win 5 of 9 or 3 right next to each other (breakthrough). Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Battle Whine
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Bruce Glasso
Avalon Hill
2004
Y 3-6 60 5 Very much a theme game, this one takes players on a trip through some weird mansion. Players try to obtain artifacts/improve thier characters in preparation for the house being 'haunted' by some creature(s). Along with the haunt, one of the players becomes a turncoat. At this point, a scenario is picked and each side tries to fulfill the victory conditions. Alas. So far, it seems that the scenarios are very unbalanced as well as being poorly organized/written. While the base system/game works well, perhaps someone can spend some serious work trying to balance out the scenarios. In particular, there appears to be no balancing for the number of players in many of the scenarios. On the bright side, the game moves along fairly quickly, and generally finishes in 45-75 minutes. This is much faster than most games of this type, and welcome. Review Date:3/11/2006
Big Points
Brigitte Ditt
Wolfgang Ditt
Schmidt Spiele
2008
Y 2-5 20 6 An obvious derivative of the system used in Knizia's Tutankhamen. Players do not have thier own piece, but rather move any of the 5 colored pawns forward to the next disc of the same color, then take a disc either directly in front or behind. Once the pawns all reach the end of the track, they get values for the discs the players hold based on how high they are on the platform. Adding some interest to this, there are two special colors of discs (white and black). The white discs represent a collection scoring where a player scores 1 point/disc for each different color they have (not counting the white). The black discs allow a player to move a pawn backwards instead of forwards. The game plays in ~ 20 minutes, and works well for this timeframe. Review Date:2/5/2010
Bist Du sicher?
Rudi Hoffman
Spear's Games
1971
-- 2-4 60 6.5 Early Rudy Hoffman push your luck game (in a manner of speaking). Players are trying to collect tiles (drawn from a bag) that fulfill items in thier life to make them happy. There are 16 types in 4 different colors that need to be collected. On a turn, the player rolls a die and either takes money (if the die is 4 or higher he may do this), or draws tiles (he must do this if the number is 1-3, and MAY do so if it is 4-6). The player may also decide to purchase an insurance policy that covers a certain type of accident. In the tile bag, not only are there the tiles that the player is seeking, but also accidents may happen. If an accident occurs, and the player does not have the correct insurance for it, there will be a bill that needs to be paid in the future. Players also may purchase tiles that have been discarded from other players to complete thier happiness sets. The player who gets all 16 lifetime tiles, and has no outstanding debts from accidents wins the game. Cute game, but since it is from the 1970's and German, unlikely many will have played it. Review Date:8/24/2010
Black Vienna
Gilbert Obermair
Kosmos
1987
Y 3-6 60 7 Pretty good deduction game whwre you get to ask players if they have suspects in thier hands based on cards that have 3 victims' last names. It is critical that everyone answer correctly by looking at thier cards, otherwise the solution becomes impossible. Hard to find, this one is often made up by people to play. Unfortunately, no reprint is on the horizon. Review Date:11/22/2003
Blue Moon
Reiner Knizia
Fantasy Flight Games
2004
-- 2-2 30 5.5 Card game, not REALLY a collectible per-se, but definitely a collectible in the sense that you can buy new decks. Relatively clean system with few abiguituities (at least for the base game). Players basically either attack/respond to an attack with a ratcheting up of the fight or giving up the fight. Since winning/losing moves you closer to an automatic victory, there is some pressure to not fall too far behind, but also a wariness of using some of the special cards too quickly. It is always difficult to tell in a 'special card' type of game how balanced it truly is, but it seems to be close enough. I am not sure who would be the actual fan of this type of game though. It's not inherently as complicated as many CCG's, but it is also not quite a 'simple' affair finding that odd in between area. Art/production is nice using the oversized cards like Lost Cities. Review Date:8/1/2008
Blue Moon City
Reiner Knizia
Fantasy Flight Games
2006
Y 2-4 60 6 Reiner Knizia game of rebuilding a lost city (I suppose). The game is essentially a card management game, with the objective of moving on a map and completing sections of buildings using the cards. Ultimately, you will gain crystals which will then be used to build an obelisk - which is a race against the other players. Each color of card has some special abilities for the low numbered values, as well as some cards being able to move dragons around. The dragons allow you to gain scales, and ultimately, extra crystals. Since you may play as many cards as you want in a turn (although moving only once), it is possible to hoard cards and do quite a bit of building at one location. However, only with a special card may you build a 2nd piece in 1 turn at the obelisk. So care must be taken to nat fall too far behind or you will not be able to catch up. The game seems fairly balanced, with close games the norm. Certainly worth trying by most people, but may not become a favorite of very many. Review Date:8/15/2007
Bohn Hansa
Uwe Rosenberg
AMIGO Spiele
2002
-- 3-6 90 4 Game of trading beans by fulfilling contracts which specify that a city needs certain combinations of beans, using a cart with limited capacity to haul around your beans. Uses the Bohnanza method of having a hand of cards where the order of the cards is preserved as you play and put them back in hand. Basically, you move around the map buying beans and obtaining contracts and trying to fulfill them. Since it costs money to move across the map, and money is the determinant of winning, it helps greatly to have contracts that are near you (or where you have to go to get beans in the first place). The supply/demand is nicely done on map as each purchase will drive up the price of beans while additions to supply will drive down the price. Since you can always sell beans at the game's end in a city, buying cheap beans is always a good idea unless you know you need the space for another bean and a lucrative contract. Also, if you end up in the same city as another player, you can trade with them, thus making it even more useful to have cheap (for you) beans on hand. While there is some level of management as far as keeping your inventory, deciding when to pay for extra movement, etc... the game really comes down to about 80% being the luck of the draw in the contracts that you get. Also annoying is that the bean colors don't really match the color of the tile, causing double-triple looks to make sure that you have a green bean even though the tile is white. Review Date:10/28/2003
Bohnanza
Uwe Rosenberg
AMIGO Spiele
1997
Y 3-6 45 5 Enjoyed by several of the relatives on a weekend game playing trip, but I'm lukewarm on it. I just don't really like the making sure cards are in order, and the sometimes interminable wrangling to get a deal done. I do enjoy the art though. Review Date:12/3/2003
Bridge
Harold Vanderbilt
Rio Grande Games
1999
Y 4-4 30 7 Probably the definitive partnership cardgame. There is a somewhat intimidating learning curve involved to get bidding down pat, but once that part of the game is honed, the actual card play is straightforward with the exception being that the winning team gets the dummy hand face up on the board, and thus knows half of the cards in play. Obviously, this is a huge advantage, and therefore, getting the bid more often than not will garner you points (as long as you're not overbidding). There are many variants, with Rubber Bridge being the most common, and Duplicate being used for major tournaments. There are several good programs available on PC to help with your playing/bidding. Bridge Baron is the one I use. Review Date:1/5/2004
Bridgette
Joli Quentin Kansil
Mayfair Games
1959
Y 2-2 45 5.5 A 2 player 'version' of Bridge. It has a couple of special cards, but the cool thing is that, bidding, scoring are the same and the special cards provide some of the spice. Pretty decent if you just have to sit down and keep in Bridge shape with only 2 players, but I find that playing on a computer is actually much better for your game. Still, a nice, unique effort. Review Date:12/11/2003
British Rails - 2nd Edition
Elaine Henninger
Joe Ronznai
Mayfair Games
1984
Y 2-6 360 6 One of the Crayon Rails games, players get contracts, attempt to buld and pickup/deliver. Many players use an optional method of contract locking that enhances strategy. Game system is clean, and games can be sped up significantly with players who are familiar with the system. This will certainly not appeal to everyone, but anyone interested in the railroad genre should give it a spin. Review Date:10/23/2008
Buccaneer
Stefan Dorra
Queen
2006
Y 3-5 30 8 Stefan Dorra game about pirates. Essentially, you create stacks of pirates (each player has discs which are the pirates they control) in order to eventually board ships and plunder them for gold and goods. In a neat twist, the person who controls the stack (pirate on top - ie. the Captain) can choose which ship to plunder. All pirates in the stack that do not belong to that player get payouts based on thier value and the ship. Then, there are two types of treasures which are given to the captain and the first mate which is part of a set collecting portion of the game for bonus scoring at the end of the game. Anyway, it's a fun game, not too hard to play, with enough meat on it to try some different methods of creating stacks that help you more than hurt. I'd be interested in trying to create a nice 2P variant for this, although it seems to me that the easiest would be for each player to simply use 2 colors instead of one to have enough pirates to get to plunder the larger ships. Review Date:8/28/2006
Byzanz
Emanuele Ornella
AMIGO
2008
-- 3-6 45 6 Rather straightforward game of bidding cards from your hand to collect cards that are in a tableau. The twist here is that after you select the cards, 1 card goes into a pool for later, with later players taking all cards of one suit from that pool. So spending early may not be the wisest thing to do if you have a lot of cards that are likely to be left by other players. The fact that the sets also only score the single highest card for the set makes for some interesting decisions. In a nice twist, not only does the game support up to 6 players, but plays in a brisk 30-45 minutes with that number of players. Review Date:2/6/2010
Cabale
Roland Siegers
Goldsieber
1999
-- 2-4 60 5 Abstract game of capturing./blocking/holding territories. The pieces and look of the game overall are very nice, and the game plays with no rules issues, but doesn't seem really 'fun' to me. Essentially, you try to hold onto higher value scoring spaces while eliminating the other player's pieces or limiting them to the lower scoring hexes on the map. The extra twist is that players may place walls to help limit where the opponent can go, and also limit thier ability to capture pieces. You also need to pay attention to make sure you don't inadvertently lock yourself into a small corner which will (basically) eliminate you from the game unless your opponent does a capture to let you out. Would probably take 2-4 games to wrap your head around the strategies needed. Review Date:7/21/2004
Caesar and Cleopatra
Wolfgang Ludtke
Rio Grande Games
1997
Y 2-2 60 6 This game has many similarities to Battleline. There are ongoing battles going on in 5 different colors. Each color can be one a differing amount of times (3-5) with winners of a battle gaining a point for each 'Patrician' they win and a bonus point to thier total if they win a majority of any one color. In addition to this, there is a 2 point secret bonus that is randomly drawn - essentially you must complete a majority in a specific color for bonus points. The tension of forcing opponents does not seem to be present, as there is no way to force a scoring of a particular color unless there are a total of 8 cards in play (both sides). Also, since there are many take that cards, which can even reverse the winning from high count to low count, there are wild swings possible in the outcomes based on the Action cards. It's different, but seems perhaps a bit too chaotic with the action cards. Review Date:8/17/2005
Cafe International
Rudi Hoffmann
Mattel
1989
Y 2-4 50 6 Can you fill a table with equal number of men and women, and group nationalities together? Essentially, this is a tile laying game, with weird rules. Not very politcally correct, but the pictures on the tiles are pretty funny. The American man is a cowboy, the woman is a 'starlet'. Not a whole lot of thinking, it was a Spiele des Jahres winner in 1989. Still plays pretty well, but it's age is showing. Review Date:11/22/2003
Larry: Dining at Denny's
Cafe International - The Card Came
Rudi Hoffmann
Roland Siegers
AMIGO Spiele
2001
Y 2-5 45 6.5 There's an online version (German only) available. One of the better adaptations of a board game to a card game. Instead of having all of the possible tables on the board, there is a seck with the tables and they are laid out in an X pattern. Then when players are playing on thier turn, if a table is filled it interrupts thier turn, is scored and a new table placed immediately. This causes some interesting timing issues and can dramatically change the play board by the time your tunr comes around again. Since players place 1-3 guests per turn, and one end condition (at the option of the player) is playing all of one's cards, this was probably necessary to keep a quick early win. All in all, captures the flavor very well although players must be careful to pay attention to the tables and make valid plays. It plays about the same as a regular game of Cafe International time-wise, so really it's just the portability aspect that makes this worth playing/keeping if you already have Cafe International. Still - it is a good game implementation and worth playing. Review Date:7/28/2009
California
Michael Schacht
Uberplay
2006
Y 2-5 60 7 Game by designer Michael Scacht which follows the principles of Euro gaming. Simple gameplay, easy to explain, enough strategy to affect the outcome with some luck thrown in. Has not gotten a lot of buzz or gameplay, possibly because the theme is decorating mansions in California. However, it is a clever and easily taught tile placement game with variable costs - and no bidding! On each turn, players can shop at 1 of 2 stores for either flooring or furniture/accessories for thier mansion...or take 5 dollars from the bank. The cost of the tiles is equal to the number of '5' coins in the bank, which starts at 4. So on each turn, the player is faced with the quandary of getting income, or buying. The day ends when either the bank is out of coins, or one of the stores is empty. There are some bonus tiles that player try to complete (like 3 of 1 color or some specific combo's) which may make it more/less important for people to get certain tiles, as well as some floating bonus points you obtain for having multiple visitors come to your house. It's a clean design, and clearly has been overlooked but should be looked at by more people. Review Date:12/16/2008
Cambria
Eric B. Vogel
Vainglorious Games
2008
-- 2-5 20 6 Small game production by Vainglorius games. This is a dice rolling area capture type of game. Players roll 2 dice, place a cube and attempt to encircle cities. When a city has been completely encircled, the majority player takes the points (or if two tokens the higher points), and the 2nd place player gets the next point token if there is one. Since the game ends on the turn with X number of city tokens or less left, there are some interesting timing elements to the endgame. There are additional rules in the game (they are standard rules not optionals) rules for saving die rolls, replacing someone's cubes, or rampaging Romans...but that is the gist of the game. Most games should take 20-30 minutes, and at that timeframe it is a fast, compact game indeed. Definitely worth trying out if you happen to know someone with a copy. It is currently OOP (8/26/2010). Review Date:8/26/2010
Can't Stop
Sid Sackson
Parker Brothers
1980
Y 2-4 45 7 An all-time classic dice game where evaluation of risk, and taking gambles on your turn are the means to victory. You try to move 3 markers to the top of columns in the values of 2-12 (combinations of 2 dice). You roll 4 dice and get your pairs and move up. You can only have 3 simultaneous markers moving on a trun, and if you can't match any of those (or an available number later in the game) you lose all forward progress on that turn. You decide when to stop and keep your gains. Very good game for anyone. Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Should Stop
Canal Grande
Alan Moon
Aaron Weissblum
Adlung-Spiele
2002
Y 2-2 30 6.5 Card game version of San Marco. I think the translation of the same principles to a card game went very well. With the two types of victory possible, and the 'flavor' of scoring via the Doge, this is a pretty nice little game. As in the boardgame, the art is terriffic. The only complaint I have is that there are two types of cards with slightliy different backs (black and white). It would have been so much better if they had done one of the cards in reverse (ie: mostly white) so seperating them would have been very easy. Review Date:12/4/2003
Canal Mania
Steve Kendall
Phil Kendall
Ragnar Brothers
2006
Y 3-5 90 8 Ragnar Brothers take on the train genre. In this game players are building canals in England to eventually move goods around. The main difference in this from most train games is that players will pickup contracts, which ensure that certain routes get built. This streamlines the process considerably as far as where players need/want to build. The card drafting mechanism works well (cards are used to build the routes), as do the special Engineers. Once routes are completed (which score points), players may move goods along a route to be delivered for points along any routes. Unlike some train games, it makes sense that the good cannot go through 2 cities of the same color. With players sharing points for delivering goods if the good goes along multiple tracks, this has a definite impact on the contracts you may build. Players also have some control on where goods are placed on the map - again adding a level of control to the game. Best of all, this game plays in a comfortable 90 minute area with 5 players, so it does not overstay it's welcome. Review Date:8/26/2010
Carcassonne
Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
Rio Grande Games
2000
Y 2-5 60 5.5 Tile laying game where you get to place Meeples (my people) and score for cities, fields, etc. Nice, elegant game. Scoring is a bit convoluted. The new version (Hunters & Gatherers) seems to have a much better scoring system. Not convinced it's worth purchasing...especially since this one doesn't get played too much. May pack it up as a XMAS gift. Review Date:10/24/2003
Carcassonne - The Discovery
Leo Colovini
Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
Rio Grande Games
2005
Y 2-5 30 6 In some ways, this game completes the circle of the Carcassonne titles. It has returned to being a simple, easy to explain game as opposed to all the different scoring methods, add-ons, etc. To me, this is a much easier to understand and explain starter game for the series, even if the art is somewhat poor. The simplification of the scoring (remove a meeple to score) is a huge improvement to the basic game in the context of explanation for beginners. It can certainly be recommended for that audience, or any audience who argues about WHICH carc to play. If you're a hard-core Carcossnne player, this may be a pass since it simplifies the game a great deal as well as removing the all or nothing aspect. Review Date:3/10/2006
Carcassonne: The Castle
Klaus-Jurgen Wede
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
2003
Y 2-2 60 6.5 This is a version of Carcassonne by Reiner Knizia, and it has a few significant differences from the other versions that make it more appealing to me. Primary reason is that you no longer need to match all adjoining sides...only the roads need to matchup now. This allows you to close off buildings much easier/better, and allows a much better tactical effect in regards to the courtyards. Also added is a frame for the game which serves as both a scoring track, and a bonus point allocation track, whereby you can pickup chits by getting scores which land you on the corners. A nice side benefit of the game is that since it has a frame, the game will always fit on the table. Review Date:12/11/2003
Caribbean
Jens-Peter Schliemann
Michail Antonow
Rio Grande Games
2004
-- 2-4 30 6.5 This is essentially a blind bidding game of getting Pirates to grab gold for you and move it to your base. The basic mechanic is that there are 6 ships numbered A-F and you have a clever stand where you place your markers (as a bid) for each ship. Your markers are numbered 0-5 + a -1 marker , the extra marker being a tie-break marker. Whoever has the highest marker moves the ship that number of spaces, with any -1 markers being played reducing the spaces moved. You basically grab treasure/steal from other ships and try to deliver to one of your home spots. The game is very attractive, and has a high fun factor. The blind bidding mechanism is clever, and works well. This one should provide a lot of enjoyment as a 20-30 minute filler. Review Date:12/30/2004
Cash 'n Guns
Ludovic Maublanc
Asmodee
2006
Y 4-6 30 6 Basically a giant game of chicken with big foam guns. In all likelihood, if you werent' pointing guns at people, this game might not work so well. For instance, you could have a hand of cards and you secretly select and flip the one for the correct player...but how dry would that seem? Anyway, as in most blind select/bid games, there is a fair amoung of luck in this point and maybe shoot game. Play quick and light and it's a fun game. Review Date:2/6/2010
Caylus
William Attia
Ystari Games
2005
Y 2-5 120 7.5 Almost perfect information game about building parts of a city. You must pay to use buildings, and buildings create goods which can be used to make other buildings, get victory points, ets. Uses some interesting methods of determining cost of producing goods, player order, etc. Unfortuately, the only downside is the inelegant use of money. You need to pay to activate buildings, and the costs are different depending on whether you own or not, and whether someone has passed thier turn which increases costs. You really need to keep an eye on costs, and make sure people make thier payments. Otherwise, a nice effort that seems to take about 30-45 minutes longer than it should. Plays well with 3P, drags a bit with more IMO. Still, a very solid game. Review Date:12/28/2006
Caylus Magna Carta
William Attia
Rio Grande Games
2007
Y 2-4 45 6 A slimmed and trimmed down Caylus - at least that is the feel. Players have identical decks of buildings which they will put into play with only a few cards in hand. One option is to pay to draw a card, or you can discard your entire hand at game start for a new draw, so it does not seem that this would be a real problem most of the time. Unfortunately, the 'full game' incarnation is overly long, particularly moving around the provost which seems mostly unused in this incarnation. I prefer the basic game as there is no building upgrading, scoring is simpler, and the game is very streamlined. Still, it's not as good a game as Caylus, but not bad in the beginner version. I'd likely rate this higher if the 'standard' version did not exist. Review Date:8/22/2007
Chess
N/A N/A
N/A
1475
Y 2-2 60 7 Long time classic abstract game. It has some faults that cannot be overlooked - chief among them that it is a bit more complex than most abstracts, and that a better player will simply win to an alarming extent over a worse player. Not only that, but there is really no satisfaction whatsoever in beating a player who is worse than you. Unless the player you are playing against starts to improve and at least get thier game close to yours, there will continue to be no/not much enjoyment from the game for either player as eventually, most players tire of getting beaten all the time or 'working' on the game. That being said - if you can get players of close to equal skill, there can be a tremendous amount of enjoyment for both. One variation which seems like it was designed to address this is speed chess where players must play so fast that better players are mroe likely to make critical mistakes which brings thier level of game down and makes it possible for inferior players to play with them. When I have done this we played with 10 minute time limits (5 per player) and I actually had a chance to win versus some pretty good players. Review Date:6/21/2007
China
Michael Schacht
Uberplay
2006
Y 3-5 45 9 Essentially a re-theming of Michael Schacht's Web of Power, this one takes place in China. There are 3 distinct changes to the game system, all interesting in thier own ways. First, there is a double sided game board, with one map for 3-4 players, and one for 4-5 players. This gives the game a tighter feel with 3 players, but just having a 2nd map option for 4 players is nice as well. The next change is that there are not two scoring rounds for the provinces, there is only one when the province is completely populated, or at the end of game. This shifts the scoring balance quite a bit as far as the percentage of points that will likely come from Emissaries. It also seems to increase the chain scoring slightly. The game also includes optional fortifications which may be played. They are played on empty spaces which then you may place one of your houses on top (the fortifications are neutral). Fortifications double the scoring value for that player either for the province, or for a chain - so they can swing the points a lot. Anyway, interesting changes for an excellent game. Although I prefer the original, this version is certainly worth playing as well for the differences. Review Date:8/21/2009
China Moon
Bruno Faidutti
Eurogames
1996
-- 3-5 35 5 Move frogs around, jumping over other frogs, gaining flowers, jumping on springs, etc. It's a somewhat interesting 'race' in that you do get additional points for getting frogs to the finish fast (and you could win that way I suppose), but that seems more likely to be a decisive condition in 3 player games. This game is very chaotic as you can move opponent's frogs as well as your own. Review Date:1/13/2004
Chinagold
Gunter Cornett
Bambus Spieleverlag
2004
Y 2-2 30 6.5 2 player abstract from Bambus. The game board is a leather rollued up map with a series of marks on it (for gold) and territories either in blue or brown. Players basically throw some wooden chits that have marks on them, add up the total and flip contiguous gold markers in a straight line. If all the markers are flipped in a colored region, that player (the one playing the region) gets those gold nuggets. Alternately, players can unflip a single nugget as thier turn - which seems to be more useful later in the game. In any event, the game is elegant, and there's definitely strategt involved. The only part of the game that is not elegant is that players must keep an eye on how many places a max number in a straight line exist as when it's < 5 or < 4 or < 3 the number/type of chits thrown changes until it finally gets down to players doing a single marker at a time. Fun, fast and easy to teach. The only real downside is that it takes a fair amount of time to setup the nuggets. Review Date:6/21/2007
Citadels
Bruno Faidutti
Fantasy Flight Games
2000
-- 3-7 60 5 I'm still not sure what to make of this one. I suppose there are not many 7 player games around, but this one seems to drag with more than 5. 4-5 players seems optimal, but I'm still not all that thrilled with it as a game. I won't huff and puff too much if someone wants to play it, but I don't think I'd suggest it unless the alternatives are pretty bad. Review Date:10/24/2003
Cities
Martyn F
Emma Games
2008
Y 1-4 15 7.5 A game with much in common with Carcassonne and Take it Easy. Each player has an identical set of 23 tiles, of which 16 will be used to build a 4x4 grid with one player calling them out and all players placing them. When placing a tile, players then also have the option of placing one of thier meeples on the just placed tile, moving a meeple from any tile to the just placed tile, or moving a meeple one orthogonal square from it's position. Players score for regions that are connected, or from benches across water etc. Several different scoring options are available. The game plays quickly, and the art is very attractive while not detracting at all from the game. Review Date:8/14/2009
Clash of the Gladiators
Reiner Knizia
Hans im Gluck
2002
Y 2-5 60 7.5 As is usual for most Knizia games, this one is very smooth and only a wrinkle in the combat mechanism makes it so that you need to consult the rules. The idea is that you have a gladiatorial team in the arena and are trying to outlast the other teams. However, not all teams are equal as there is a drafting/team building element to the game. Also, there are animals in the arena which all factions would like to kill to gain points. Lastly, in a nice twist, if your teams are eliminated, you still have the opportunity to gain points by utilyzing the animals in the arena to cause casualties. Since the different types of gladiators have different effects (reduce opponents die, take less damage, etc.) there is quite a bit of strategy involved for a roll the dice combat game. The choices are interesting, and yet the game moves along very fast indeed. Well worth looking into if you have any inclinations for trying something in this area. Review Date:8/1/2008
Clocktowers
Alan Moon
Aaron Weissblum
Jolly Roger Games
2004
-- 2-4 20 6 A simple drafting/building card game. While it plays fine with 2 players, I have some severe doubts as to the suitability of this game to work with more than 2 players. Also, the decisions are fairly rote, and it seems extremely difficult to make up lost ground. It works...but I'm not sure that's enough in this day to get a game to the table. Review Date:11/2/2005
Clue - The Card Game
Philip Orbanes
Winning Moves
2002
Y 3-5 45 6.5 This is an interesting take on the old classic, with cardplay taking the place of rolling/moving. There are tiles that represent some of the locations, and during the game you make assertions of how the suspect made thier getaway. Some cards allow you to ONLY use your current location for this assertion (or allow you to change location) and others allow you to change + assert at the new location. So there is some management that needs to be done with respect to your location. There are also some cards that will give everyone hints, and some that are secret. The game moves along very well, and a 3P game plays in about 25-35 minutes. Children should also enjoy this game, and I would definitely recommend it as a holday game to keep around the house as it can be taught in less than 10 minutes. Review Date:11/2/2005
Coda
N/A N/A
Winning Moves Games
2004
Y 2-4 20 5 Very simple deduction game - so simple even I can do well. Basically, everyone has a numbered sequence in front of them (hidden) arranged from low to high. There are white and black numbers from 1-11. On your turn, you draw one of the remaining tiles and try to guess someone else's tile. If successful, you can guess more tiles of the opponents, or stop and place the acquired tile into your set (hidden). If you make an incorrect guess, you must place the acuired tile in your sequence so it is visible to all. Eventually, you'll get to a winner after all the tiles end up exposed. OK filler, and perhaps the wild cards would add more to it, but it's unlikely I'll spend much time playing it. Review Date:3/29/2004
Code 777
Robert Abbott
Alex Randolph
N/A
1986
-- 2-4 60 7 A game where you have 3 cards (out of a fixed amount) in various numbers and colors, but you can't see them. You can see your opponents' cards, and though various clues (answering questions) about the other persons' cards, you try to deduce your numbers. Interesting game in that some of the numbered cards come in more than 1 color, so some of the questions provided are: Do you see more black or red? The person who can effectively eliminate numbers based on these clues will likely win. A good diversion. Review Date:10/28/2003
Coloretto
Michael Schacht
Abacus
2003
Y 3-5 45 6.5 Fairly simple collection card game. Each player can draw and place onto a collection pile (the # of piles are = # players) or pickup a collection pile. The goal is to get up to 6 cards in 3 different colors and none of the other colors. The English rules in my copy do NOT state that each player starts with 1 color card, but the same box includes German which DOES say to start with a card. Review Date:12/25/2003
Colossal Arena
Reiner Knizia
Don Greenwood
Fantasy Flight Games
1997
-- 2-5 45 6 Players bet on monsters to come out and be winners in fights. Players play strength cards on monsters (there are 8 of them) and possibly place bets. Each round, it is determined if a monster is eliminated. At the end of the game, bets on monsters still alive are totalled, with bets made earlier in the rounds worth more and a winner determined. Since monsters have special powers, and the person with the most bets on that monster can use the special power, it can really benefit a player to bet on a monster no one else has, or put the most bets on a monster that all players want to do well. Review Date:2/6/2010
Command & Colors: Ancients
Richard Borg
GMT Games
2006
Y 2-2 60 8.5 Uses the same card driven system as Battle Cry and Memoir '44. Definitely a step above Battle Cry in complexity, but not an unreachable amount. The realization of the system by GMT uses a LOT of blocks to setup the armies. While nice to be able to remove 1 block at a time like removing 1 figure at a time in Battle Cry/Memoir, one has to wonder if the added cost was worth it when units simply could have had step reductions, although that could have been harder to see. In any event, many 'Ancient' type tactical considerations are evidents, the supported units rule beng the primary one, but others such as rampaging elephants, potential breakthrough attacks with certain units or units with leaders beng the main one. The basic system in itself is very clean once learned, and can quickly become 2nd nature. The fact that scenarios can be played out in a short period of time (30-45 minutes) is an added boon, and the scenarions in the game seem fairly well balanced and interesting without a lot of scenario specific rules. The only downside is that the game comes with a thck cardboard board vs. a regular board, and the terrain hexes are also a bit on the thin side. Still, it is in my mind the better of the 3 games mentioned, and is also available to play online at http://www.wargameroom.com. Well worth trying out, and there are several expansion, including 2 with 'real' mounted boards. Review Date:1/6/2009
Conquest
Donald Benge
Donald Benge
1972
Y 2-4 90 6.5 A game of combat (ala chess) with action points. It's actually pretty clever as for each capture, there is an option for the non-moving player to make a re-capture on the capturing piece. Although the mechanics are not hard, and the game with metal pieces (which I own) is pretty nice, there is one issue that takes careful paying attention to keep track of. Each piece has a unique # of points of movement it can expend/turn. But you can move pieces in any order, so it's not too hard to forget how far you've moved a piece. Add to this, the fact that a capture w/o the opponent recapturing will reset the unit's movement to full, and it really takes both players payign attention to make sure the per unit movement restrictions are not bypassed. Still, I like it, although I haven't played in quite a while, and also have the 4P version. Review Date:3/10/2004
Corsari
Leo Colovini
Rio Grande Games
2004
-- 2-4 30 5 Card game where you try to get two suits of cards with no overlapping numbers, plus a third suit which matches a changing (open draw pile) suit that will dictate the third suit. It's fun, although the rules are a bit hard to interpret without playing as the scoring after someone decides to end the hand depends on what cards other players could use on the player ending the hand. The art is fun, but the quality of the cards is horrible. This is a Piatnik game, and they are very, very, VERY flimsy. I wouldn't be surprised to see people bend cards thier first shuffle. They are bad enough to distract from the gameplay significantly. Review Date:10/15/2004
Cribbage
Sir John Suckling
Public Domain
1630
Y 2-4 45 7.5 Classic card game with wooden board where you score your points. Game plays out in 3 phases, putting cards into the crib, laying cards trying to score on combo's or getting closest to 31, and then final points for the hand. A good game that's portable, and I find it works well with 2, 3 or 4 players (partnership). Review Date:1/9/2004
Crocodile Pool Party
Rudi Hoffmann
Kosmos
2003
Y 2-2 25 6.5 Pretty good, straightforward game that can be explained and played in under 30 minutes. May not stand a lot of repeat plays, but could definitely be a good filler as it moves along faster than LOTR: Confrontation, is easier to explain, and is much easier to remember the rules. Should be an excellent game for people new to these types of games. Review Date:1/13/2004
Cuba
Michael Rienick
Stefan Stadler
Rio Grande Games
2007
Y 2-5 120 6 Another variation on the theme of building up an island, creating/shipping goods with one of the twists being the fact that you may also pass certain laws which modify some of the game behavior. Players have an island with 5 types of characters which cause different things to happen. Create resources on your island, build buildings, trade, ship goods, activate buildings. Creating resources or activating buildings on your island is done on orthogonal row/columns - BUT - the only way to move the pawn where you can do things is to use the worker...the other piece utilizing buildings does not move the pawn, creating a lot of tension in where you place your buildings in addition to when you expect to use them. The standard boards do not seem to setup much chance to create a good setup, so maybe planning for a 2 turn process is best. However, since the entire game is only 6 turns, this can be problematical. Otherwise, most of the game is pretty straightforward, with tactics dictating a lot of how the game will play out. Visually appealing, with good components, it is certainly worth trying out, and the fact that it is a 2-4 player game vs. the many 3-n player games is a bonus. Still, it seems that it is outshined by other games, and may not have enough of it's own flavor to set it appreciably apart over the long haul. Review Date:8/28/2008
Das Ende des Triumvirats
Max Gabrian
Johannes Ackva
Lookout Games
2005
Y 2-3 60 6.5 Simplistic almost wargame based on the Roman Empire with three different factions vying for the overall throne. The game design itself is very clean, being neither difficult to learn or teach. Some of the game systems are very clever, including the little bit where you have to physically return to an area to collect your tribute - which has the very nice side effect of slowing someone down who is steamrolling people. However, while this is probably better than many combat type games designed for 3 players, it may still be a little too much of beat up on the leader until someone prevails. Review Date:8/1/2008
David & Goliath
Reinhard Staupe
Playroom Entertainment
1998
Y 3-6 60 6 This is a wierd trick-taking game where the person who plays the lowest card gets the highest card in the trick...the person who played the highest card gets the rest of the cards in the trick. The odd part about this is that the scoring (for each suit) works like this: If you have 2 or less cards in that suit, add up the value of the cards. If you have more than two cards, each counts as 1 point. Since card values (depending on # of players) can go up to 15, you really need to decide for each suit if you're going to only take a couple of tricks or go whole hog and just get a bunch of cards. Interesting, but not sure I'll get to play it very often as it's OOP...so don't know that I REALLY like it. Review Date:11/26/2003
Der Elefant im Porzellanladen
Michael Schacht
Amigo
2006
-- 3-5 30 5 Fairly simple card game based on collecting sets of china (according to 4 different formulae - usable once per game). Basically, you either buy a china card, take an elephant, or pass (once/game). Then when the scoring round is reached, each player selects one of the scoring methods and gains points. It's simple, moes quickly but most of the time there just don't seem to be interesting decisions. Review Date:8/31/2009
Der Hexer von Salem
Michael Reineck
Kosmos
2008
Y 2-4 60 7 Cooperative game where you have to try and locate/close portals before the big bad guy shows up. The actual mechanics are interesting, but not difficult, and the teamwork necessary to win seems fairly balanced (ie: it's not too simple). However, the limited knowledge rules about the portals are somewhat silly in a - the players can nod/wink and get around them. Besides, I don't know that it makes THAT much difference if the players know all the portals. Anyway, this has much of the Arkham Horror feel, but finishes in a much more satisfying 45-60 minutes. For those who like the idea of Arkham, but are apalled by the length of that game, give this one a try. Review Date:8/31/2009
Derby
Dirk Henn
db-Spiele
2000
Y 3-5 90 6 This is an interesting take on horse racing where you have a stack of movement cards that have different move values for 6 (out of 9) horses. The 3 horses which do NOT have movement values on the card are ones where you can exchange your bet. All players have a stack of cards (identical) that say how many of the 6 horses (from top->bottom) on the movement cards will move. You select your card, or place it on the bottom and take a random card. You then either take one of the 2 face up movement cards or a random one and then move the horses. After movement you can swap one of your 3 bets which are on the bottom of the movement card. You're trying to manipulate the horses and your bets so that you get maximum payout. The game system is actually fairly clean, with the exception that it's a pain to keep track of your 9 different bets (1/horse). I'd like to try something where you only have 6 bets and can swap a different color for one of the 3 colors you are allowed. Faster lookup, and more flexibility in how you can exchange your bets. Review Date:10/24/2003
Diamant
Alan Moon
Bruno Faidutti
Schmidt Spiele
2005
-- 3-8 30 3 This game just did nothing for me. Not only was it monotonous, but once someone makes a good guess (ie: gets a larger payout), then most of the rest of the decisions are really in relation to the leader(s). Particularly later in the game, the decisions are not much of decisions, as trailers almost always must stay in the cave for a chance to win, which allows the leaders to stay in longer as they have (not much) to lose. Review Date:1/3/2006
Diamonds Club
Rudiger Dorn
Ravensburger
2008
-- 2-4 75 9 A very fine effort by Stefan Dorra. A set collection game with a nice board which readily adapts to different #'s of players by removing options. Players use thier supply of money to gain pieces on a board by placing thier coins on them. If no other coin is orthogonally adjacent, the cost is 1. Otherwise it is 1+ whatever coins are adjacent. This effectiveliy limits what players can gain on each turn. Players are trying to collect gems to then use them to purchase buildings for thier parks. All of the players have a (different) combination of buildings that they MUST build in thier park or they score 0 points at endgame. To gain gems, they need to collect a gem chest, a contract, and a ship that they turn in as a set. There are also 3 advancement tracks that give other bonuses/scoring, and also an animal collection set that can also gain points. The game ends when 1 of the players fills in all of thier park areas (you may overflow into some extra spaces) and points are tallied. The nature of escalating costs ensures that you will have some tough decisions each turn. It also doesn't appear after 3 plays there there is a single dominant strategy. The game plays in about 45-60 minutes with 3-4 players, and is very well worth playing. Review Date:8/10/2010
Die Fugger
Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
Adlung-Spiele
2003
-- 2-4 45 5 This is a card game where players place goods types down until there are 5 of one type. At that point, the market prices are set with prices going up multiple levels for the 3 (or more as ties cause prices to go up) types with the most markers, and down 1 level for the others. The price wraps from 10-->1, but stops there until the next pricing. There is some initial randomness, but the game seems mostly dry and calculating to me. I think I like it better with 3 as there is more randomness than with 4. With 4 it just seems like you're adding/subtracting without much hope of actually pulling off any surprises. Review Date:3/17/2004
Dixit
Jean-Louis Roubira
Asmodee
2008
Y 3-6 30 6 Dixit is a party game where players get cards (with beautiful art) and then one player selects a phrase/sings a song, whatever to describe the card they are playing. The rest of the players then place a card down that they think will match up. Payers then see the cards, vote on which one they think was the original stroyteller, and points are scored. However, if everyone or no one selects the storyteller card, the stroyteller gets 0 points. So you want to be not so obscure that you have the only card, but not so vague that no one guesses your card. Plays fairly fast, and the scoring is pretty simple. Review Date:8/26/2010
Dominion
Donald X. Vaccarino
Rio Grande
2008
-- 2-4 30 6 Sort of a Magic hybrid type of game. Game sets up with players attempting to build decks based on a combination of card types available for that given game. Depending on how the deck is constructed, players can cascade multiple actions, generate money, and ultimately buy VP cards. The twist is that scoring cards don't help you play out more of a hand (cards), so you need to balance them. With several combinations available and more on the way, is seems that this could become an endless game for some enthusiasts. However, I am less anamored of the system as each combination of cards brings a subtlety to how to play it, and if you haven't played that combo and miss a subtlety, you will get mercilessly destroyed. Many games appear to end without the game being close, especially as new cards make up more vicious cycles. This is my key issue with the game - there are simply too many games where a player gets demolished because they didn't grasp something early and then it snowballs. So, a good game, interesting, but not something that I will purchase. Review Date:2/6/2010
Don
Michael Schacht
Queen
2001
Y 3-6 30 6 Weird auction/collecting game. You are trying to get sets of cards with the same colors via an auction. However, when it comes time to bid, you may not bid any amount that ends in the same digit as one of the Chicago Neghborhoods you already have. Also, when the auction is complete, the money is either paid out to all players, or to the player with more of the ending digit porperties than anyone else. You must balance where the money is going, versus what you get, versus how what you get will influence your future bidding options. Really a pain when someone says 2, and because you have 3-6 you must up your bid to 7. There's a lot going on that can bite you. Review Date:5/24/2004
Downfall of Pompeii, The
Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
Mayfair Games
2004
Y 2-4 60 6 This is a game about the downfall of Pompeii. Play proceeds in two stages, filling the city with people and then running people out of the city while avoiding the ever-flowing lava. While the game is not that complex, it has just enough gotchas in the rules that it can be difficult to explain to casual gamers. Unfortunately, these gotchas are critical to the game, and overlooking one can ruin an otherwise enjoyable game. The setup (as most games which create a deck stack to set phases) can be a bit of a pain with the rules not written very well for this part. Also, the pacing seems to be slightly off...rather than rushing to a crescendo at the end, it almost seems like the last few moves make themselves and the game just sort of finishes. Still, it is not a bad game, and certainly worth playing. Review Date:10/23/2008
Drachenland
Reiner Knizia
Ravensburger
2002
-- 2-4 45 4.5 So, I guess the neat part of this game is that it has a dice tower. However, it's about as plain a dice tower as I can imagine. If you need to roll two dice, get the 'Patented Patent Picker Move Maker Machine' from and old copy of the Inventors. Otherwise, you simply move around collecting gems of different colors with a couple of special actions available per game. Not all that interesting. Review Date:10/28/2003
Drahtseilakt
Reiner Knizia
AMIGO Spiele
1999
Y 3-5 30 7.5 Title roughly means Tightrope in English. This is a card game where you are trying to balance out your points by being the highest card in some tricks, and the lowest card in other tricks. For each trick, the values of the sticks you collect (the points) are varied from 1-9...except that they may also be zero. Since the entire deck of cards (numbered 1-50) is not used, AND there is this variable amount of red/blue points in the deck, it makes it difficult to decide for sure what you're going to do. Works very well with 3 players, and the little red and blue sticks go well with the idea that you're balancing on a tightrope. Review Date:11/26/2003
Dreizehnte Holzwurm, Der
Wolfgang Kramer
Michael Kiesling
Queen
1998
Y 2-6 45 6.5 One of the most difficult things to do in a card game is figuring out how to make a game work regardless of 'good' or 'bad' card draws. Essentially, you're playing onto multple 'tricks' changing the positive/negative value of those tricks for whomever ends up taking the trick. Since the player who goes out gets 30 points, there is a definite tightrope to walk here in regards with trying to go out vs. not taking any tricks. This game does a nice job of allowing low cards to have some value vs. the high cards since it is not uncommon for a player with low cards to quickly force an end to the hand while people with high cards are still holding them and giving them a large number of negative points. Nicely done, and certainly worth a look if you know someone who has a copy. Review Date:3/27/2006
Duell
Reiner Knizia
Ravensburger
1998
Y 2-2 30 7 An updated version of En Garde. This is a deceptively fun game, where your actions need to take into account cards you have, cards you have seen, and the likely odds of your opponent doing what you anticipate. The new version has a fairly compact box, with very nice figures and comes in many languages. They extra optional rules they throw in seem of dubious benefit, and I suspect that most people will play the game as-is without using them. They essentially change the scoring, method of play, etc. with a card draw at the beginning of each round of fencing to see which will apply. Unnecessary in my opinion. Review Date:10/15/2004
Dutch Golden Age, The
Guiselle Bau
Leo Colovini
Mayfair
2008
-- 3-4 60 6 Basically, this is a points race game where players have different possible tracks to gain cards/money/points. Each map has a special action that can be taken (based on color) to help you in this task. There are markets, additional markers that can be placed, art to be completed, r travel to the indies where there is a more lucrative market. If you don't have the correct markers on the game board (map) to utilize what you want, there is also a market board where you can buy into that and then use it. In this way, over time players get more actions per turn, which can be cascaded into some interesting twists later in the game. New money (other than investments) is given based on a die roll and track around the board. This makes it possible for a player to move some markers arounnd based on where the next payouts might be...but I am not sure it would be worth the effort. Players must take care that they get into the are to create new markers early, or they will be severely handicapped. Otherwise, the game moves along fairly quickly, and I would expect it to run right around 75 minutes after a playing - which is a good timeframe for this sort of game. Review Date:8/31/2009
Dwarven Dig!
Anthony J. Gallela
Kenxer and Company
2003
-- 2-4 45 1 I feel obliged to put a lot in for a game that I will not play again to detail exactly why I don't like it. My thoughts on the Dwarven Dig come down to about 3 major issues (at least for me). This is setting aside the whole tiles moving, bringing a sheet of plexiglass, etc.1) Getting grit (which = general usefulness, power, etc.) for failing an actioncheck. I know that it's probably a mechanism to balance out players who are not doing well....but it's just plain wrong.2) Waaaaaaayyyy too long. The primary factor of this is the fact that you needto roll the die twice under many circumstances to get a result. If you just used2 dice, didn't try to give everyone their own colored die, and adjusted thenumbers to get the % chances you want, you eliminate a lot of time rollingagain.3) The chits, through the wall markers, monsters, etc. just clogged up the board.I'm not sure, but I think the game would've looked much better with all plasticusing real items for most of these items/events.4) OK, one more. Waaaaaay too many phases for this type of game. Given that your best plans always have a 1 in 6 chance of failing, why create all these phases? Couldn't many of them have been combined/re-ordered? In particular, I think combat should be first vs. move as you can only catch people at least 2 hexes away from the exit with the current scheme.I could go on, but I've now added to the 2 hours the game took and it's notreally worth it.Yuck. Review Date:10/28/2003
Dynasties
Al Newman
Jolly Roger Games
2005
Y 2-2 30 6 Two player abstract card game ostensibly about winning districts in China. Basically, each player has a deck of special cards plus cards numbered 1-6. Players play face down in 5 areas, with special cards being used once and discarded, and 1-6 being re-usable. The game plays in 9 rounds with scoring done for the majority in each area every 3 rounds. One of the nice touches is that there are chits to draw for each region giving different scoring possibilities that change from game to game. All in all, it's worth playing, although I would recommend the basic game only as I feel some of the cards are too unbalancing in the advanced game. Comes in a small box format, although the gameboard quality is not very good. Review Date:8/28/2006
Easy Come, Easy Go
Reiner Knizia
Out of the Box
2004
Y 2-4 30 7.5 Reiner Knizia's take on the dice rolling for combinations (ala Yahtzee). Knizia's version is streamlined, and yet contains the essence of Yahtzee...completing a specific goal. In this case the goals are prizes which the special dice (0-5) are used to gain. Instead of getting 3 rolls, the requirement is that you must lock down at least 1 die/roll, and locked dice may never be re-rolled. So a turn can be 1 roll or up to 4 rolls. In a twist, all 4 dice must always be used for a combination, which adds some interesting twists. Seeming like there may not be any strategy at all, this one has a fair amount as your selection for locking dice will limit your possibilities. Keeping as many options open until the last 1-2 rolls is the way to go here. With play times of 5-10 minutes, this game will not overstay it's welcome. The production is very nice as the box is plastic laminated to help keep liquid out. As well, the prize tiles are substantial and also laminated, making this very friendly for a variety of locales. It seems that this could be extended to support 5-6 players easily with house rules as well. Review Date:5/23/2005
eBay Electronic Talking Auction Game
N/A N/A
Parker Brothers
2001
-- 3-4 20 6 This is actually a pretty good game. It's a bidding game where the auction is run by the electronic gadget. Players have money in various denominations that con only be played once (no change). You are trying to get sets, bonuses, etc in the items you buy, which have values that don't always match thier estimated values. The auction machine will decide when the auction is ended, etc. and say which player's turn it is. Pretty good and plays in about 30 minutes or so. Was on sale for $5.69 at Amazon for several months. Review Date:12/4/2003
Ebbe & Flut
Wolfgang Werner
Adlung-Spiele
2000
Y 2-2 20 7 This is very nice twist on what you can do with a card game. This is a 'war' between the water and the land (Sand & Surf is the rough translation of the title), where you are trying to walk your cards over to the far corner. This is done via a grid (bounded by, basically, and out of bounds/play sideline). Each card has a letter and number. You can move any card in the same column or row with a matching letter or number either horizontally or vertically depending on which way the match is (ie: horizontal match moves vertical, vertical match moves horizontal). Since cards can cover other cards, you see water creep over sand, sand creep over water, sand uncovered, water uncovered. Very nice 2P game. Review Date:12/4/2003
Edel, Stein & Reich
Reinhard Staupe
Alea
2003
Y 2-5 60 7 This is a remake of Basari without the board. You are trying to gain money (points) by either obtaining majorities in gems, or via action cards (certificates or other bonuses). Players blind bid for what they want to try to do, and if they are alone, they do the action. If two players pick the same one, they barter for who gets to do it by bidding gems. If 3 or more pick the same action, no one gets the action. The fun comes in trying to guess what your opponents will do, gauge what your best action is and weighing whether you should take a less optimal action versus your best so you don't lose a turn. Can be frustrating when you seem to always have two other players in the same action, but overall enjoyable. Particularly interesting is the method of barter where # gems offered is high...but if same # gems, then the ranked order of gems breaks the tie. It adds some thoughtfulness to everything as the higher valued gems also give more points in scoring rounds for majorities. Review Date:8/26/2004
Eketorp
Dirk Henn
db-Spiele
2002
Y 3-6 45 6 This one could go higher after more plays. The system is pretty clean, and easy to remember the details (bonus). However, the # of battles to be fought can certainly drag down a couple of rounds per game, which is the only thing that makes the game hold on a little longer than it should. All in all, pretty enjoyable, and there are some interesting thoughts on when/whom to attack, and whether you should attack the leader, or just better your position. Also, the mechanism for card exchange and the possibility of paying VP's for limited blind draw capability help keep one person from just steamrolling people in battle. The simultaneous planning phase is nice, as it allows the game flow to keep up during planning. Review Date:1/20/2004
El Grande
Wolfgang Kramer
Rio Grande Games
1995
Y 2-5 90 9 Plays much better with 3 or more but is still a good game for 2. No dice, interesting strategy game of influence in middle ages Spain. Lots of cool wooden block pieces. Excellent game that takes about 1 complete playing to really get a feel for it. This was my first area influence game, and so far, the best. Is a little daunting for newcomers. Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Taco Grande
Elchfest
Hermann Huber
Kosmos
1999
Y 2-2 15 5 Finger flicking game where you try to get a moose across the table to another bank. Basically, you try to flick disks and create stepping stones for your moose, and perhaps make it harder for your opponent. Not much brain power needed here, and probably best for children in the 5-9 year old range. Can be fun if you're in the mood for some light fun, and is very portable. Review Date:6/5/2006
Emerald
Ruediger Dorn
Abacus
2002
Y 2-5 45 6 This is a fun game, although the later players are at somewhat of a disadvantage when playing, particularly in a 4-5 player game. A move/collect game with the neat twist being the dragon that stalks the cave trying to eat the dwarves. Production values are high, and it's a very nice looking game as well. Not too difficult, and usually moves along at a very nice pace with 5 player games clocking in around 45 minutes. Review Date:10/24/2003
Empires of the Ancient World
Martin Wallace
Warfrog
2000
Y 3-5 150 8 A light wargame set in the Mediterranean world. There are 4 turns of 10, 9, 8, 7 rounds each, with scoring after turns 2-4. This means there is a total of 34*Num players Actions in the game, plus extras for attacker breakthroughs. Scoring is based on value of territories held, and based on 'trade' marker majorities which score half the value of an area. Basically you have a hand of cards (which you can expand) which has your Armies/Navy. They can be anywhere and combat is done by selecting 5 cards in a general order based on the speed of the unit. Cards are compared 1 at a time, most times a die roll for one or both of the cards and a result. There is some strategy, a fair amount of luck. Over the course of a game, the luck should even out and planning/use of the trade markers should give enough points to overcome bad die rolls. Seems like a good game, but need to play at least two more times. Review Date:11/6/2003
Endeavor
Carl de Visser
Jarrat Gray
ZMAN Games
2009
-- 3-5 90 7  
Entdecker - Exploring New Horizons
Klaus Teuber
Mayfair Games
2001
-- 2-4 90 5 Game of Exploration by Klaus Teuber. This version is the Mayfair release and they add the native trail tracks to it. The basic way the game works is that players purchase a number of either unknown, or known tiles, and then draw/play what the can with the ultimate goal of completing islands (with thier explorer/forts) on them. I found the game dragged on a bit, as well as the income system being problematical. It would be interesting to play one of the earlier ones to see how it worked as far as flow and timeframe, but this one was not a favorite for me. Review Date:11/23/2004
Euphrat & Tigris
Reiner Knizia
Hans im Gluck
1997
Y 2-4 70 9.5 This game is 'da bomb! I can't wait to get this one moved over to the own side of the ledger. This is a tile laying game of developing 'kingdoms'. While the kingdom aspect (theme) is somewhat weak, to me, it does not detract one bit from the game. The production quality of the German version is first rate (haven't seen a US version yet), the temples are very cool, and the mechanics (after about 2 plays) are 90% easy to remember/do. I especially like the fact that, while scores are hidden, a look at the board can still give you a real good idea of what colors other players are lacking. The treasure interaction is nice, and really gives each (except the farmer) leader a somewhat different flavor/importance. First playing on an actual board took about 1:10 with 3 players including going over the rules and 2 of the players being new. Certainly a game which I will happily play if it's suggested. The PBEM on the 'Geek is also very nice, as I have now played several times there. Review Date:11/2/2003
Larry: Twin Creeks
Euphrat & Tigris - The Cardgame
Reiner Knizia
Hans im Gluck
2005
Y 2-4 45 5 Hmmm...let me say that again...hmmmm. I'm not certain there really is a need for this game. It is not (in my opinion) streamlined much over E & T, and it has several limitations on play that do not seem to help it much at all. The linear kingdoms, the single way to connect, the limit to connecting kingdoms until they're a certain size, you cannot collect points wthout cards even if you have the boat (temple). All of these things detract from the ease of placement that is evident in E&T, and yet there is still the same combat to go through in it's sometimes complicated manner. It is LESS elegant to me, which is bad when the game is also more limiting at the same time. Others may differ on thier opinions here, but to me, E & T is clearly so much better, that having a small version doesn't really seem to be enough of an advantage to get it played. Review Date:1/4/2006
Europa Tour
Alan Moon
Aaron Weissblum
Schmidt Spiele
2003
Y 2-4 30 6.5 Many have described this as similar to Rack-O, and I have to agree. The idea is to swap tiles in your holder with tiles available (there are 5 face up and a draw pile) and complete a contiguous trip across Europe, with the ability to utilize ships for particular routes, and airplanes (of the correct color) for a flight between two countries. The game is not difficult, and plays quickly. The only problem I see is that the board is just palin too small, and there are a few annoying errors where the German is on the international side of the board and vice-versa...making it somewhat difficult to find a few of the countries. The plastic holders for the player tiles are also a bit flimsy. Review Date:6/23/2004
Evo
Philippe Keyaerts
Eurogames
2001
-- 3-5 120 5 Game about Dinosaur evolution. Setting aside the scoring track markers (why not use a flat disc?) this was fun the first couple of times. However, the extreme randomness of some of the cards is difficult to deal with. Still., even with all that, it would be OK except it tends to drag quite a bit in the middle stages of the game. Would be a good game if it consistently clocked in under 70 minutes, but it doesn't. Review Date:11/2/2003
Expedition
Wolfgang Kramer
Queen
1996
Y 2-6 60 6.5 Affectionately known as the arrow game. This is a game where you place arrows and try to reach the locations shown on your expedition cards. Making loops, and/or paying can give you extra moves and chances to grab money on the map. Pretty simple game with a moderate amount of strategy/tactics. This is one I may pickup if I see it on sale or want to get a little extra into an order. Review Date:10/24/2003
Express
Darwin Bromley
Mayfair Games
1990
-- 2-6 45 5.5 This is kind of a set collection / hand management game, with some odd twists thrown in with hazards and cards to counter hazards (a-la Mille Bornes). You are trying to build up trains with identical cars in them, and scoring increases with the # cars in the train. So getting many of the same cards is preferable to getting only 3-4 of a card. The most interesting part of the game to me is the interaction of your hand and the train engines you use, as they can be used to hide cards from opponents, or to stash cards for yourself that you might use later. Considering when it was first published, the design holds up pretty well overall, and while I might not call for it to be played, it's certainly not a game that I would mind playing. Review Date:5/19/2004
Extrablatt
Karl-Heinz Schmiel
Moskito
1991
Y 3-4 90 7.5 This is a pretty nifty tile laying game where you run a newspaper and need to try and maximize your readership by getting the largest (in-depth) articles for each story/news section. There are doubled values for the headline section, the opportunity to play adverts or 'ducks' on other people's papers. But above all, you have to do a good job lay9ing out your paper for maximal effect. The theme matches very well, and while it takes one playing to get the feel for the game, I would expect that further playings would move along at a brisk pace. Review Date:11/6/2003
Larry: Tricky Tabloid
Factory Fun
Corne van Moorsel
Cwali
2006
Y 2-4 45 5 An interesting puzzle building excercise, but perhaps one with too large a problem for some people. Basically, you are routing different sources of (chemicals?) into machines which then output some form of chenicals. You get the most points from sending the output of one machine directly into the output of another. Since it costs VP's for re-organizing your plant (moving pipes), careful planning early in the game can save you a lot of points later on. However, what to me seems to be a problem is the method of getting the plants. The game uses the 'grab faster than anyone else' method for doling out the power plants. So the very cerebral placement/planning is then supplanted with a 'who can recognize/physically grab faster' plant which helps them the most. If you wait too long, you end up either with a plant that is prohibitively expensive to place, or just plain causes you later problems due to it's placement. The ability of the last player to discard with no penalty does not seem to justify not grabbing something and hoping. Why should that be a strategy in a game such as this which such a building/puzzle element? This game will certainly be hit or miss. Review Date:8/1/2008
Familienbande
Leo Colovini
Winning Moves
2004
Y 2-4 30 5.5 A game about creating a genetic chain of children to pass on your secret trait through 5 generations, with the latest generations scoring more points. The art is very nice, highlighting the genetic traits in a humorous manner, particularly when a person has the triple trait (ie: huge ears, huge lips, etc.). Players take turns either playing a child of a married pair, for which scoring occurs, or playing a card to create a marriage. The theme works well, but the luck of the draw may be too much to overcome in this game. Ostensibly a 20 minute game, it's much more likely to take ~45 minutes, which may be too long for the amount of control available. It's probably worth looking into because of the way the theme is handled and how it works, but will likely pale after a few plays. Review Date:1/4/2006
Fast Flowing Forest Fellers
Friedmann Friese
Rio Grande
2008
-- 2-5 30 5.5 Friedmann Friese game about loggers running down a river. The game has a variable map setup giving more options. Players have a hand of cards that they can use to move thier loggers dwon river. The catch is that there are logs that can be pushed around and possibly catch in currents creating chain reactions that can push players around as well as blocking routes. Also, the cards ensure that players can't always move the first logger (they are keyed to each player's piece) creating some evenness to how the loggers move. It's an interesting game, looks nice, but perhaps something else is needed to make it a really good game. Review Date:7/28/2009
Felix: The Cat in the Sack
Friedmann Friese
Rio Grande Games
2007
Y 3-5 20 5.5 I different way to do an auction. Players start by placing cards in the center, then bid or pass to drop out. Players dropping out takes back bid and takes lowest money card, until you have a winner. In this way each player knows some of what is in the sack to be gained, and thus can try to make good decisions based on that knowledge. Some special cards (dogs) can change values dramatically, and allows some tricks to be played on your fellow players. Review Date:11/25/2008
Feuerschlucker
Reiner Knizia
Ravensburger
2003
Y 3-5 30 5.5 Card game where you're trying to get customers to come to your Circus. There are a variety of acts and a few special cards available. You can steal other players' customers by playing an identical act, and there are other methods of causing players to lose customers. Hands end when all the customers are at a circus. We played with 5 players, and perhaps this is too many as we ended up doing a lot of passing customers from player to player trying to get our circus higher. Possibly this game would be better with 4, and I believe significantly better with 3....but the rating likely won't change since it IS designed for 3-5. Review Date:5/28/2004
Fiji
Friedmann Friese
Rio Grande Games
2006
Y 2-5 45 6 A game that is somewhat similar to Edel, Stein, & Reich in that you are trying to collect gems in sequences by making blind bids. The difference being that there are translation steps based on the blind bids, and they lead to an ultimate goal. Since the translation steps and the ultimate goals are randomized each game, there will never be a single strategy. But...since the game utilizes blind bids, it is possible to go through a sequence doing nothing more than losing gems for no gain..ultimately making the endgame more difficult. It is a different take on the mechanism of trying to get the most/least etc, and collecting shrunken heads is still kind of cool. However, it fits that uneasy space between an easy to understand/play game and being a bit heavier...which is always a tough place to excel. Too many casual gamers will probably not want to play it, and the hard core gamers will want the game to be over sooner than it is, given all the randomness involved. Review Date:7/14/2008
Finca
Ralf zur Linde
Wolfgang Sentker
Rio Grande Games
2009
Y 2-4 45 8 This game combines a rondel movement system (with movement based on # workers on the square), with collection and delivery of goods to fulfill contracts, and then a simple majorites type of game for bonuses. All of the parts fit well together, there is some randomness in the setup, so it is virtually impossible for two games to play out the same way, is easy to explain and scales well from 2-4 players. All in all a very well done game that plays easily in under 45 minutes (or it should). Review Date:2/6/2010
Finito!
Hartmut Kommerell
Schmidt Spiele
2008
-- 2-4 20 8 Very nice, quick game. It's really a combination of the main mechanics in Take it Easy & Europa Tour. Players have tokens numbered 1-12, and try to arrange them in order on thier boards with a player calling out numbers. Players start with a random 3 face up, and keep turning them up until they are all on the board, at which point they can then be moved with the die roll. Simple, to the point and done in 15 minutes. Review Date:8/14/2009
Finstere Flure
Friedemann Friese
2F-Spiele
2003
Y 2-7 90 7.5 This is a cool game where each player has 3 (or 4) people that are trying to escape through a dungeon to the opposite corner without getting eaten by a monster. The monster can be put together from many pieces, and have different looks which is cool. There are also extra sets of stickers for the people, so if you wanted, you could get a few more wooden disks and add a couple more sets. The people move orthogonally the # spaces on thier disk and then they flip over. The disk sides have numbers that add up to 7... like 1 & 6 or 4 & 3. There are walls to puch around, blood to slide on, and advanced rules for teleporting. The key to the game is understanding how the monster moves, and the fact that the monster moves according to strict rules means that you COULD play this as a solitaire game if you wanted to...although that may not work well as the monster moves 7-10 spaces on a turn..or moves until he devours 1 or 2 people. Howver, I think if you used 8 counters, and the goal was to get 4 of one set out, that would be a pretty good solitaire game. Review Date:11/25/2003
Larry: Lunch with Lurch
Fische Fluppen Frikadellen
Friedemann Friese
2F-Spiele
2002
-- 2-5 90 5 This is a move, create goods by where you move, purchase/gather, sell somewhere else, use money to buy, sell, create, etc. All the while moving around the map and (eventually) collecting the right combination of items to collect 3 fetishes. I did poorly on my first play, as there is quite a lot going on all at once. Unfortunately, to do well, you really need to be cognizant of not only your position, but every other player position, plus where they could move on their next turn. I could really see this taking a long time with some players. In any event, the system is moderately clean, although there are so many possible things to do when you get to one of the 'shops' that it's really easy to forget something. There are also some wildcards that can really swing things as well, which could ruin a lot of your planning. Review Date:11/6/2003
Fish Eat Fish
Reiner Knizia
Out of the Box
2003
-- 2-5 40 5 This is a game where you move your piece orthogonally adjacent to an enemy (or your own) piece and attack. Resolution is done via cardplay (everyone has an identical stack of cards), with used cards being discarded. Stacks > 4 have the bottom fish removed (and will be scored). This is an OK, but not great game, with somewhat drab board/pieces. Will look like a kid's game, but is very cutthroat. Review Date:1/9/2004
Fjords
Franz-Benno Delonge
Rio Grande Games
2005
-- 2-2 30 6 This is a relatively simple tile placement game where you (ultimately) want to place farmhouses on fileds which will allow you to choke access from your opponent. The problem lies in the fact that you must place your farmhouse on a tile you just drew, but that the nature of the tile placement rules makes it very difficult to decide where the fjord will eventually go. This uncertaintly, would probably get better if you played enough to memorize tiles (as some have done with the Carcassonne series), but I don't think this game warrants that type of dedication. I also do not think it needs 3 rounds of playing. What is the point of that? Play once, and if you like, play it a 2nd time. Annoyingly, my start tiles do NOT work properly as they cannot be fit together per the rules of the game no matter how I turn them. Either one of them has the wrong back, or it was mirror imaged. This being the case, I'll probably need to use a tile draw bag and exchange for the correct tile to start the game. Otherwise, this one may work well for newer boardganme players. Review Date:11/2/2005
Flaschenteufel
Gunter Cornett
Bambus Spieleverlag
1995
Y 2-4 30 6.5 This is (so far), one of the oddest trick-taking games I've ever seen. Basically, you have different values of cards in 3 different suits. There is a set aside initial trick (supplied by the players) which will go to the owner of the bottle at the end of the game, and count as NEGATIVE points. Also players will pass a card to thier left or right neigbor. Cardplay seems straightforward. Play a suit, and all players must follow suit....if you cannot follow suit, play any card. Now the weird part is that, the winner of the trick is the one who played the highest card...unless someone plays a card < the current bottle price. If that happens, then the highest card < the bottle price wins the trick (and the bottle). It's weird, bizarre, but it fits the story to a tee. In fact, the only way I can remember it is to think of the story. I'm not sure how well this would go over with more traditional card players (ie: it may be too weird for them), but it is worth the effort of playing several times if you want an interesting experience. Review Date:5/13/2004
Fluch der Mumie
Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle
Ravensburger
2008
-- 2-5 30 9 This is a neat game with hidden movement, some player cooperation, and solo victory conditions...without any paperwork. A real gem indeed. The game involves one player being a mummy, and the other players exploring a crypt to find objects. Players move thier pieces on a stand up board between the mummy and the players with magnetic pieces. The mummy piece is visible to all the treasure hunters...but the mummy does not know where the other players are unless they reach one of thier target items. At that point they reveal where they are. Players can be caught 3 times before they are out of the game, and the mummy has a set # of player life tokens to capture before winning (he does not have to knock all players out of the game). The non-mummy players can win by collecting thier 5 items in different parts of the crypt (setup much like Transamerica with different colored decks for the different items). While dice are rolled, there some tricks to how to use the dice as they can also benefit the mummy depending on the roll. This is an excellent game, topically good and very easy to teach/play. Review Date:8/14/2009
Foppen
Friedemann Friese
2F-Spiele
1995
Y 3-6 30 6 Not really very good with 3, and it's a bit of a pain to keep passing the Fool token around the table. Plays fairly quick, but after some drinks, it's just too much of a pain passing around the Fool. OK, not great. Review Date:11/9/2003
For Sale
Stefan Dorra
Ravensburger
1997
Y 3-5 15 8.5 This is a very nice short game. Hard to believe that you can squeeze legitimate decisions into a 15 minute game. Works very well with 3 (why are there so many good card games for 3 and not many boardgames?), and is so easy to remember that you can come back to it after a layoff with minimal rules tuneup. The more I play, the more elegant I see the game being, and the more often I want to pull it out. Highly recommended. Review Date:11/25/2003
Fowl Play!
Richard Breese
R&D Games
2006
Y 2-4 60 5 2006 entry from Richard Breese. He has been doing better productions, and this one is done fairly well. This is a game of foxes running around eating birds, with each player trying to protecting certain types, and get all others. The game essentially boils down to a set collection game, with needing to not take too many of of the bird type that the player is trying to protect. IMO, the scoring system is too complicated, and doesn't really add all that much to the game. The game itself flows well, with the exception of the rules on where birds can move in relation to the foxes. All in all, it is certainly not as good as Reef Encounter, or IMO Keythedral. Not bad, but somewhat of a disappointment for me as I really liked the previous two efforts. Review Date:8/8/2007
Frank's Zoo
Frank Nestel
Doris Matthaus
Doris & Frank
1999
Y 3-7 60 6 The artwork on this card game is very neat, and really helps the game out. Essentially, it's a 'beat the last card(s) played' game ...but since the cards all have animals with relationships, it's an interesting twist. It would have been much more boring with just some numbers and special cards. The way tricks can loop around is also interesting and adds to the game significantly. It's fun, and relatively quick. Unfortunately, it needs at least 3 players. Review Date:8/17/2005
Fresco
Marcel Subelbeck
Marco Ruskowski
Queen Games
2010
-- 2-4 45 6.5 Fresco is a set collection/combining game set in the theme of painting the sistine chapel. Players use a bidding round (essentially) where whoever decides to get up earliest in the morning will take actions first in the turn. This makes the player grumpy (which can cause one of his workers to decide to not work) and causes his costs to go up. Players then place thier workers on a secret mat that lets them: Gather paints from the market, Paint portions of the chapel, Paint portaits (gain money), Mix paints (to create colors not available in the market), or to raise thier happiness. This is done behind screens, and then players reveal and things progress in order based on who got up earliest. So the theme works well with the game, the mechanics are not onerous and the board is very functional. Game plays in about 1:20 including rules if you have someone who has played explain them. Well worth trying, but perhaps not quite enough to make it a really good game. We played the base game and none of the 3 included expansions. Review Date:8/10/2010
Friedrich
Richard Sivel
Histogame
2004
-- 3-4 150 5.5 This is a light wargame, but using decks of cards for battle results. Basically you move unints on the map (which are army groups) at a fixed movement rate based on major road/minor road, and supply markers. If you are adjacent to an enemy you attack. Using cards from your hand, you must play the correct suit to match the grid location, and herein lies part of the problem. It seems that the allies simply need to position themselves such that most possible conflicts are in a similar zone...in fact doing so with just 3 conflicts can put the Prussin player into a spiral where they use up cards much faster than they can replace, or they backpedal. If they backpedal, the alliance can then pick and choose the battleground, to again deplete the Prussian card supply, etc. The way combat is carried out is interesting, and the scenario itself is a good change of pace, but it in the end turns more into a card management game than a true wargame. Also, the starting positions and victory objectives seem to favor France by quite a bit, making it unlikely that the method of determining a single victor in the alliance is balanced. So, best to just have alliance/Prussia victory in my opinion. Some may like it a great deal, and others may be turned off by the hand management (too much???), and downtime can be a problem in > 3 player games. Review Date:2/28/2005
Fundstucke
Friedemann Friese
2F-Spiele
2002
Y 3-6 30 6.5 Reminds me of Sanford and Son, in that you're basically collecting junk to fill contracts for points. Each turn there is a randowm amount of items available, and some # of contracts. You can elect to try to cart off a lot of stuff with a big vehicle, but you'll get a later pick of the goods as a smaller vehicle will pickup first...or you can attempt to steal from your opponents. If multiple players play the same vehicle/steal card, the lowest does nothing (there's a chit that everyone has for breaking these ties) and exchanges with the winner...other players with the same selection do nothing.This is a very small print run game, and everything is in shades of green. I thought it played pretty well, and the mechanics were very smooth including the tie-breaking mechanism. Plays very differently with 3 vs. 5 or 6, and that is a good thing. Review Date:12/15/2008
Galaxy Trucker
Vlaada Chvatil
Rio Grande Games
2997
-- 2-4 60 4.5 Game about building a spaceship and then going through a serious of potential disasters to get to the end with a ship intact, and hopefully cargo. The game uses a grab and place mechanism where you either place a piece for your ship, which is then immovable, or put the piece back and try for another blind pull. Once a single player is happy with thier ship, it starts a timer for everyone else to finish. Given that there are so many things that can mess up a ship routing, and the importance (particularly in later rounds) of having a decently designed ship, a fst reflex mehcanism for the placement seems totally at odds with the game system. On the bright side, it DOES tend to speed up that part of the game, but since there are random die rolls/events happening, it wouldn't seem to save thatmuch time vs. a draft type system. Review Date:10/13/2009
Garden Gnomes Society, The
Roman Mathar
Argentum Verlag
2004
-- 2-6 60 5.5 There is much to like in this small publisher game, although the idea of breeding gnomes seems somewhat ludicrous. Cattle? Race Horses? Anything else would have seemed much better. Anyway, this game has you managing a 'stable' of gnomes with options to pimp out your gnome as breeding stock (taking payment via a blind auction), trying to entice a gnome, etc. The goal is to either breed/create the Golden Gnome, or amass a fortune before someone else gets to the Goldnen Gnome. Unfortunately, the mechanics are a bit fiddly and quite a bit of time is done doing somewhat mundane things. For instance, when breeding, you take the top card off one of the piles. Then you go through your personal stack and find the same gnome color you just bred. Then you need to place the drawn card back in the stack and re-shuffle the stack. Unfortunately, this is a fairly common occurrence, and so it could become tedious with a full 5P. Also, it is certainly possible to have a surprise winner as the last two breeding stacks have the elusive golden gnome...so a lucky player could barely get his gnome up to standards and make the lucky gnome, even if other players were ahead. As a note, the publishers 2P rules seems to work well and are recommended if you like the game and wish to place with two. All in all, it's a good effort with a lot in this small box (200+ cards, some cardboard betting chips), but not quite where it needs to be. Review Date:5/23/2005
Geschenkt
Thorsten Gimmler
AMIGO Spiele
2004
Y 3-5 20 6.5 This reminds me a lot of Mogul by Michael Schacht - but streamlined. It has the method of bidding until someone takes the card (which is generally bad), but gaining all of the money with it. You are trying to either get no cards, or cards in sequence because then only the lowest card counts. Complicating this, there are 9 cards out of 33 randomly removed each game. Also, money at the end of the game counts, so it's certainly possible to make up quite a few points by hoarding chips and taking some cards that others aren't interested in. It's light, has a push your luck combined with can I force someone else to do something they don't want to game. The way money works, and the bidding (go around the table adding a chip) adds to this gradual ratcheting up of tenseness for who will ge the card. All good stuff. Review Date:2/4/2005
Glen More
Matthias Cramer
Alea
2010
Y 2-5 60 8 This is sort of (in my mind) a cross of Neuland and Caylus. The game sets up with a board (which is actually a rectangular track) that players will move clockwise to whatever tile they want to take (and incorporating it into thier play area) and then the person who is farthest behind goes next. This can allow players to have multiple turns in a row depending on where they are on the track. When placed, they then activate adjacent buildings (the placement rules themselves take care of having workers available) and thus generate resources which could be necessary to gain certain tiles as well as generate victory points. While there can be some downtime for new players since they need to learn what new tiles have been drawn, usually most of the tiles on the board will be the same by the time it gets to you the game doesn't bog down. One comment was that perhaps the tiles could have had larger writing on them since the game does take space since each player will have tiles in front fo them in an irregular shape. Still, it's enjoyable and I have enjoyed the 'last player gets a turn' mechanic before. Very nice game with good startegy and a not very onerous rulebook. Review Date:8/10/2010
Goa
Ruediger Dorn
Rio Grande Games
2004
-- 2-4 90 5.5 A combination auction/resource management/race game. The premise is that you're trying to build up your colonial trading base. You do this by advancing on development tracks...which is fueled by items (goods, ships or colonists). Goods are generated by plantations (which you can purchase through auctions), advancing on the development track uses goods/ships, and colonists are used to attempt to get colonies. The tiles at auction are different types of plantations, ships, special cards, etc., and the auction itself is not quite straightforward. There is a grid where you set an acution for the start marker (which allows you to go first, and get an extra action), and then it moves out orthogonally from there. Since the next placement can be moved if there are no legal spaces to put a subsequent auction, this seems to me like a needless complication since you cannot REALLY deny opponents in a 4P game...it's just convoluted. Anyway, you get points for moving along each development track, points for collecting sets of cards, points for # colonies, so it's really all about maximizing the total # actions you get in the game. It's OK, and looks terriffic, but the horrible rulebook definitely detracts from the gameplay. I need to play again with more than 2P, but it doesn't seem like this game has energy or excitement to me. Review Date:7/14/2004
God's Playground
Martin Wallace
Warfrog
2009
Y 3-3 150 8  
Goldbrau
Franz-Benno Delonge
Rio Grande Games
2004
-- 3-4 60 5.5 I'm still trying to figure out what is is about this game that is so 'pedestrian'. It combines elements that are familiar from several games: Blind Bidding for action (ala Edel, Stein & Reich), expanding zones (ala Lowenherz), and majority domination for the pubs and breweries. The interaction between the pubs/breweries is interesting, but I don't think I'm as fond of how the boss changes/gets selected. Also, the barmaid/drunk movement and behavior seems to be a fairly random item that is hard to plan for/use. It also (like many economic games) seems to have a problem pulling back a leader if they can get a large beer garden early with 3 shares on it. The game works, the mechanics fit together well and make sense, but the sum of the parts does not seem to be any better than the parts alone. Review Date:11/23/2004
Graenaland
Vladimir Chvatil
Altar Games
2006
-- 3-5 90 6  
Great Balloon Race, The
Nik Sewell
Parker Brothers
1991
Y 2-6 45 6.5 A roll and move game with some bluff. The goal is to get 3 balloons through the course to the end of the race. Each player gets a card which shows 3 balloon colors that they are trying to get to the finish line. On a players turn, they roll and can move ANY of the balloons in the race...so you need to bluff a little, and try to get people to move your ballons mistaking them for ones you don't care about, etc. The balloons are some of the coolest pieces I've seen in a game, and this is a game that also plays well with kids. Review Date:12/11/2003
Grosse und das Kleine A, Das
Wolfgang Kramer
AMIGO Spiele
1996
Y 3-9 45 6 Also known as Big A, Little A - has recently been reprinted as Who's the Ass (but minus the little A card). This is a once around trick game where the goal is to simply go out. Hands are valued only on the basis of X matching cards, where you either pass or play higher (ie: three 9's are better than three 8's). On the very first trick, the winner gets the little a card, and the second trick gets the BigA. These cards can only be played (led) if you have won a trick since acquiring them. The LittleA goes to the player who playes the lowest card on the trick, and that player gets negative points for the value of the cards in the trick and the LittleA is out of the game. The BigA can pass from hand to hand, and only be played after winning a trick as well. When someone goes out, everyone with cards left in thier hand scores them, low score wins. It's easier to grasp for trick takers versus some others, and the cards can be either humorous or disgusting depoending on the crowd. Worth it if you can find it for a reasonable price. Review Date:8/25/2004
Guatemala Cafe
Inka Brand
Markus Brand
Eggert-Spiele
2007
Y 2-4 45 7 While you would think any game that includes a baggie of coffee beans has to be cool, this game actually has some real game behind it. You have to stake out areas of the map to put down plantations, and ultimately send goods to ships in harbor. There are paths pre-made on the map, so you know where the connections are going to be, but not if you will actually be able to connect and get the goods to the ships. And, as is usual when purchasing real estate. Location, location, location! While the areas near the ships are most expensive, you know you will be able to ship. The areas away from the ship are cheapest, but harder to connect (however with higher VP options). The method for putting down plantations/working them means that you won't always be able to do what you want, and also have (some control) of what your opponents do. The game plays very quick, running in the 60-75 minute range, and yet in that range you have many choices, most of which are not super obvious. Definitely worth looking into, and this game also has a nice production value. Review Date:8/1/2008
Gulo Gulo
Wolfgang Kramer
Hans Raggan
Zoch
2003
Y 2-6 20 6 Simple game that I do agree is better played when anebriated. Basically you have a shallow bowl with different sized/colored eggs in it and a wooden stick with an egg on top that will topple it over eventually. You have to pick hexes to move to and get the right color to move there, etc. A manual dexterity game, but don't play it too drunk or you'll lose one of the eggs (like I did). I need to re-count, but I definitely need to replace one of the purple eggs. Anyway, it's a game that kids can play easily, so could be good for families and the occasional silliness. Review Date:3/10/2004
Hacienda
Wolfgang Kramer
Rio Grande Games
2005
-- 2-5 60 6 Game about creating connections to markets, large herds of domestic animals, and connecting to water. This is basically an action point type of game where you have to maximize the potential point gain based on cost not only in turns, but in money since it takes money to do things. It is also available as a PBWEB game at which is very well done and players play a lot. Not precisely my cup of tea, but worth trying out for a lot of players. Review Date:6/21/2007
Halali!
Rudi Hoffmann
Kosmos
2000
Y 2-2 20 6 This game reminds me of those little slide puzzles where you move a block around and try to get the numbers in order. Basically, you start with an almost filled grid and flip counters over. Some can be moved (by each side) and some only by one side, and some not at all. One side controls the animals (Foxes and Bears) out to beat the bad old humans. The only twist in the mechanism for capturing other pieces is that the Hunter's guns are always pointed one way while moving around. Thematically, it's awful, but in the game context, it is the single most critical item...and it makes Halali a game, versus merely an excercise. Not particularly to my taste, but a pretty good game nonetheless. Review Date:4/30/2004
Hamburgum
Mac Gerdts
Rio Grande Games
2007
Y 2-5 75 7.5 Latest game from Eggert-Spiele/Rio Grand using the Rondel. This game is significantly different in that it has been transformed into an economic type game. Players are manufacturing goods, selling on the market, and ultimately gathering resources to help build the great cathedrals in the City of Hamurgum (or Londinioum included on the back side of the map). The economics system is very clean as the supply (# buildings producing a type of good) causes the price to drop. So while you would like to have lots of goods, you need take note that prices will drop as your production increases. Also, since there are bonus tiles associated with building the churches, you need to gauge what will help you more than your opponents, and whether you should build in churches/other buildings as the game moves along. Finally, the rondel itself seems to fit very well in this type of game. Certainly this is a good game, and it is possible that with repeat playings it could become a favorite as the learning curve is not too steep, and sometimes game players should be comfortable with the system well before the end of the first game. Review Date:8/1/2008
Hameln
Gordon Lamont
Fraser Lamont
Fragor Games
2006
Y 3-5 60 7 Game based on the Pied Piper. Refreshing to see a game based on a theme - and the theme actually works. Players try to marry, occupy houses, have children, produce etc. The end goal being to garner points in many categories. Working houses brings mice - too many of which overrun the houses and eventually signal the Pied Piper to coume and round up the mice. And - like the story he will take the children with him unless paid. Very nicely done how things intertwine, and a satisfying length of time (at least in a 3P game). There may be too much luck in the drawing for children, but otherwise a fine effort and the production is nice for a smaller print run game. Limited edition of ~ 1000 copies, prices are a bit high due to the low print run. Worth trying by most players, but possibly too much going on for casual players to enjoy. Review Date:6/21/2007
Hammer of the Scots
Jerry Taylor
Columbia Games
2002
Y 2-2 120 7 This is one of the Columbia Block 'light' wargames based on the Scottish fight for independence from Britain. The system itself is fairly elegant, and there are few (but some) rules ambiguities. In essence, it is a fight for area control using a very wargamish combat system. However, there are 3 twists that make this game somewhat unique. First, is the fact that you randomly start with event/number cards and each player secretly selects one to play. Depending on what you play, you can move 1 or more groups of your armies, create an event, or end the game year prematurely if both players play an event card. This is important, in that the second interesting item is the fact that all Scottish leaders must return to their home province during the winter. Lastly, tied to these two is the fact that a Scottish leader who returns to a home area occupied by the opposite side will turncoat! All in all, it's an enjoyable game, if a bit of a brain cruncher. Fans of wargames might want to try this on for a 2-3 hour shot at a wargame vs. a longer outing for more traditional style wargaiming. Review Date:4/5/2006
Hansa
Michael Schacht
Uberplay
2004
Y 2-4 45 7 Michael Scacht game of pickup/delivery. As with most of his games, the mechanics are very straightforward, easy (with the exception of selling), and turns are quick paced. The object is to maximize points by 'sailing' from port to port, buying/selling goods or setting up trade markets. The different methods require different things :Buying requires moneySelling requires goods & marketplaceSetting up a marketplace requires goods. An elegant solution to the value of goods proposition is that when a player sells goods of a certain color, other players must discard one of those goods if they have it...simulating market demand I suppose. The game clocks in ~45-50 minutes with 3 players, and played well with 2. I suspect that in the long run it may play best with 2 as there is some predictability and ability to 'force' your opponent to take routes/actions that might benefit you as well as the opponent. A very solid game, worthwile to play, although it may not grab everyone. Review Date:5/19/2004
Hare & Tortoise
David Parlett
Rio Grande Games
1974
Y 2-6 45 6 A rabbit race game where the fuel is carrots.This is a race game with forced pitstops and a little math thrown in. Basically, you are trying to move from point A to the end, using a limited supply of carrots. Going farther costs a lot more than small hops (ie: 1 space = 1, 3 spaces = 6, etc). In addition to this, you need to make 3 stops during the game to eat your lettuce. There are various ways of getting additional carrots (some squares are predictors of current position in the game, you can go backwards to hedgehog spaces, or sit on carrots gaineing/losing). The twists are twofold.1) You must end the game with < 10 carrots per place finished (ie: 1st <10, 2nd < 20, etc.)2) There are wild spaces where you draw a card/roll a die and consult chart (depending on version) for a special result (free move, free carrots, lost turn, etc.). There is a very good PBWEB version located at:http://www.ludagora.net Review Date:5/19/2004
Havoc: the Hundred Years War
KC Humphrey
Sunriver Games
2005
Y 2-6 60 6 This is essentially an extended poker game with 6 card hands instead of 5 card hands...which has just enough subtle differences in ranking that players will make mistakes. That, and the fact that cards are heldover and used in later hands, and players lay cards down during a battle some at a time trying to win without using all thier cards makes this poker with hand management. It is similar in that regard to Taj Mahal - with the same kinds of pitfalls. Spending lots of cards and losing will also hurt in forthcoming rounds, and possibly weaken you to the point where you can no longer compete. This will turn some players off, and so this game can have very mixed reactions. Review Date:6/21/2007
Hearts
NA NA
Public Domain
1900
Y 3-7 30 6  
Helden in der Unterwelt
Lutz Stepponat
Pegasus Spiele
2005
Y 1-4 90 8 An offshoot of the Return of the Heroes game system, this one uses a 'deck' of terrain that players use to fill out the world. Also, the tiles are much smaller since each tile is a single location, so this game has a much smaller footprint than ROTH. The basic system is the same, and there are new characters that fit in more with the quirks in this system. Players have two paths to victory - one on the good side and one on the evil side. Often it is difficult to tell early in the game which way players are going, and it can create some nasty surprises if someone can switch evil at an unexpected time in the game. The other nice part is that this game can easily clock under 2 hours even with 4 players if all know at least the basic system. A 2P game with experienced players runs about 1 hour. A ery nice game, and also has solitaire rules which work well. Unfortunately it is difficult to obtain and is German only, however there are some extremely good translations available as well as some nice help sheets. Review Date:7/28/2009
Hellas
Franz-Benno Delonge
Rio Grande Games
2002
-- 2-2 60 5 Nothing really special here. This is mostly a steamroll your opponent game ala Risk. While there are special cards that can swing the balance of a given battle, over time, if you can get a large battle won, you will be able to overcome your opponent while they take time to recharge as you will have the initiative. Right around 7 or 8 cities per side is about when this will happen. It's unlikely that the card draws or a single round of rebuilding will be enough as you will be vulnerable at several points when this happens. The temples appear to be a mechanism to get player to explore more, hence thier bonus. I'm not sure I like them as it's such a random occurrence, that 1 player could get two, the other 0 in two voyages, and then the player who got them both would be at a huge advantage getting 2 more items/recharge phase. Review Date:1/20/2004
Hera and Zeus
Richard Borg
Rio Grande Games
2000
-- 2-2 30 6  
Hermagor
Emanuele Ornella
Mind the Move
2006
-- 2-5 90 5 Another game by Emanuele Ornella, it's not exactly a bad game, but rather a game that is perhaps trying to do too much. In particular, two things stand out. First, the method of getting goods to trade/generating income. Placing markers on spaces of a grid (points really around a grid) and then exerting dominance on items to gain them with the side effect of placing in straight lines giving more income. It seems like he tried to do something different to make the game unique, but simply ended up adding a step that was needlessly complicated, and which really only added a take that effect which almost doubles the game play time. Second is the 'grab one gold if someone already has a marker'. Throughout the game, it probably comes close to even, and certainly was not worth the effort to keep plucking out dollars here and there throughout the game. Certainly this is a game that will have mixed reviews. Review Date:8/13/2007
Herr der Ziegen
Gunter Burkhardt
Amigo
2008
-- 2-5 40 6 This is sort of a follow on to Kupferkessel company in that it uses the same method of moving around the board and then grabbing a card in the row that you are positioned adjacent to. Players collect sheep families attempting to get majority points, at that point the remaining sheep in play and which are newly put in play are scored for the player at game end. Since the sheep are valued 1-5, getting 8 with a 5+3 will garner the most points. If no one gains points, then when there are 4 sheep played (collected) by the players, those sheep are scored with the remaining one giving points as long as it is not in a player's hand. The game continues until a player cannot make a turn (the board is refilled from a stack and eventually empty spots appear. Players can get double points by using the dogs to play and move thier sheep adjacent to thier pen (or a sheep adjacent to the pen). All in all, it is interesting, but feels like more work than Kupferkessel, and not as much fun. On the plus side, it IS playable by up to 5 players, but playing time is maybe twice that of Kupferkessel with 3 players. Review Date:12/16/2008
Hick Hack in Gackelwack
Stefan Dorra
Zoch
2001
Y 2-6 30 6 A lot of the game is trying to divine the personalities of those playing and trying to guess what they may do based on the grain in each location, and thier position point-wise. Fun and fast, and I have talked 4 people into buying it so far. This game will be pulled out fairly often due to it's small size, quick gameplay, and the fact that it's not completely brain-dead. There's an online version (1 player vs. 5 computer players) available. Review Date:1/7/2004
Larry: Cluck You!
High Society
Reiner Knizia
Uberplay
1995
Y 3-5 25 7 A short auction game where you have a set of money denominations in hand that you use to bid on luxury items (no change is ever allowed). The twist here is that the game end is variable, and the person with the least amount of money left at the end of the game automatically loses. Since there are cards which double points, cards which halve points (with everyone paying thier bid except the person who loses the auction), there are lots of opportunities to gain ground by trying get someone to spend thier cards to the point where they can't do anything (or run them to last place in money). It's a fine effort, but I dislike the tiles in the Uberplay edition. Not only do they not fit well in the box, they are harder to mix up, and really add no value over just having cards that I can tell. That in turn would have allowed a much smaller box...although I suspect they put them in so they could charge more. Even 2" tiles and a tile bag would have been acceptable. Review Date:12/16/2003
Hispaniola
Michael Schacht
Cafe Games
2004
Y 3-5 30 5.5 First trick-taking game by Machael Schacht. Follows most trick taking rules with trump being bid by players (blindly) selecting one card, high card will be trump, all bid cards removed from hand. Otherwise must follow suit if you have a card, trump/play a different suit. The interesting mechanic is the way you populate the pirate ships based on the color led of the trick. So figuring out how to get things setup for you to get the last trick of a color on a per-hand basis is nicely balanced by the pirates being thrown overboard and a queue of negative points (increasing from 1-4) until you can finally shove a pirate through at the end and back into your hand. The option to pass the trick taken, or your entire set of cards currently held seems unnecessary - although it does add one more chance to get the leader. Unfortunately, in a 4-5P game, the leader may be across from you, and you can't directly effect them with this. It works better in a 3P game...but the rest of the game seems to work much better with 5. I'd suggest that you only pass cards in the 3P game. It works, and works fine, but doesn't really have that WOW factor. Review Date:12/30/2004
History of the World
Gary Dickens
Steve Kendall
Avalon Hill
1991
Y 3-6 180 7.5 Conquer the world (sort of) through different epochs. This has some similarities with Vinci in that players create kingdoms (empires) that will last through multiple ages sometimes, but which the player maintains control of until they are wiped out. Somewhat simpler in that all the extra civilization tiles are absent. It may be the earlier title, but seems to be just a bit more streamlined and playable. A nice game to play if a tad long. Review Date:11/25/2008
Hoity Toity
Klaus Teuber
Uberplay
2004
-- 3-6 60 5.5 Essentially a race game, where you have two decision trees, and then a tactical option based on the first decision tree to gain items/ground. The premise is that you will try to get lots of art to be able to setup displays and move forward. The primary catchup method is the Detective, which can allow a player to move up to 6 spaces forward if they're the last player in a 6 player game. Since the endgame starts at square #27, that is a substantial mechanism. However, even with this mechanism, it's easy to still go way behind if no one is using the Thief...thus the detectives don't help. It's OK, although I worry that it might be a bit difficult to explain to newer/non gamers. Review Date:4/22/2004
Honeybears
Reiner Knizia
Piatnik
1998
Y 3-5 30 7 One of those 'grail' type games which is in short supply, and commands prices much higher than they should be. That being said, it is a very clever game where the theme (ostensibly racing bears) should be ignored while enjoying the game. Players play cards to move bears forward, hoping to get the color all the way to the end while keeping cards of that color in hand. Oh wait...I need to play my cards which will move my bear, but THOSE cards will not count for scoring. From turn to turn, you need to discern what other bears are likely to move up, and if you can afford to save your cards to score points, or play them to avoid negative points. This seems to be a finely balanced design, and a game is easily playable in 20-30 minutes. Easy to explain, enough meat on it for most gamers...everyone shoul at least give it a spin if they have a chance. Review Date:3/10/2006
Ice Flow
Dean Conrad
John Streets
JKLM Games
2008
-- 2-4 60 7  
Igel Argern
Frank Nestel
Doris Matthaus
Doris & Frank
1990
Y 3-6 30 6 Translation roughly means Hedgehogs in a hurry. This is a pretty straightforward race game, albeit with a couple of quirks. It can start to drag on towards the end of the game as players will try to get themselves arranged on the 2, 3 or 4 numbers. Otherwise, it's a pretty good, fast teach game that doesn't require all that much thought. Should work well with most families with it's easy to explain rules. Review Date:12/11/2003
Il Principe
Emanuele Ornella
Mind the Move
2005
-- 2-5 60 6 This is a game that tries to be many types of game all at once. There are auctions, majority battles in cards, majority battles on the board, special actions, building cities. Many things going on, and yet, due to the precise timing of the system, many things to do in JUST the correct order. While the game plays fine, there are just too many of these interlocking mechanisms going on, which seem to rob the game of it's fun. The game works fine, but there's nothing terribly dramatic/exciting about it. Working against this, is the fact that the game is not terribly easy to explain, and it's possible that you will spend a great deal of time on first play helping/correcting the play to make sure it's correct when teaching new players. Review Date:3/10/2006
Im Auftrag des Konigs
Lorenz Kutschke
Adlung-Spiele
2004
-- 2-4 30 6 This is another Adlung pseudo boardgame...but all in cards. While it has a neat theme (knights of King Arthur going off on quests and such), in my two playings it played much more like an economic game than anything else. Essentially, you collect items, be they swords, books, lances, quests, etc., and then try to complete various things garnering points. However, as there is no hand limit, it is possible (and likely) that resources will become scarce, limiting options for players who take the lead since turn order is in reverse of current score. It remains to be seen if gaining the lead early creates a situation where you cannot win...or if it's very difficult. I think in a 2P game, it is possible, but I am not clear it is possible in a 4P game. Still, it is interesting, and worthwhile for most people to give it a try. Review Date:2/4/2005
Im Zeichen des Kreuzes
Ronald Hofstatter
Queen
2001
-- 3-5 90 5.5 A game about the Crusades, using the same tower and markers as Wallenstein (making it a cheap way to have backup pieces as Im Zeichen can be found used for ~ $25). This game uses cards for movement/events, with hand size being limited, and replacement draws being limited by army morale. Basically, using land cards of the correct type you move your army (represented by a very nice wooden marker) around the map entering/sacking cities, the ocean, etc. until finally the big battles at Jerusalem. The game plays fine, and seems like it would play well with two players, however one problem is movement. Since there is a single deck of cards filled with movement cards & event cards, it could happen that even though you're right next to the location you want to go, you can't move. There is also a (too?) powerful event that knocks an opposing army's morale to 1 - which is critical since it needs to be at least 7 to attack Jerusalem.. This will essentially keep an opponent from fight for Jerusalem for at least 4 turns. Combat with the tower is a bit more interesting than Wallenstein as losing a battle leaves ALL troops (neutrals, muslims, and yours) in the tower for next fight. So it's possible to 'seed' the tower with muslim enemies before an opponent will be attempting to sack a city. With this effect, each player also gets two 'clear the tower' cubes to use. The artwork is very nice indeed, as are the playing pieces. Perhaps a rule to allow trading in any two cards to move 1 would fix the movement problem. It also has the advantage of finishing in 90-100 minutes vs. the more usual 120 fro Wallenstein, but Wallenstein is a much better game. Worth a try with the optional movement rule, but probably a better set of backup pieces for Wallenstein. Review Date:10/21/2004
Imperial
Mac Gerdts
Rio Grande Games
2006
Y 2-6 120 7 It's a light wargame..wait. It's a heavy economic game....wait. OK, it's an economic game that is masquerading as a wargame. While there is some fighting to be had, the game really boils down to gaining (lending) money to the countries that ultimately do well in the game - regardless of who controls them. Now that may just happen to be you, but it doesn't have to be. In any event, a rondel is used for each countries' turn, with the player having the largest stake controlling (which can change throughout the game). This seems to have the right combination of pace of play, decisions, and enough options to allow for plenty of replayability. Review Date:11/25/2008
Indus
Wolfgang Panning
Rio Grande Games
2004
-- 2-4 60 5.5 Ostensibly a game about archaeology, this game has a map made of tiles which can be placed together in multiple patterns. Players arrange thier explorers along the outside edge, and roll a die to move them into place. Some of the explorers can use mutilple die rolls, so there is some strategy involved in making the decision of where to place, who to move and when to use the better explorers as well as maximizing your chances for getting a good position. However, the scoring seems tedious, and prone to mistakes although players will get better/faster on subsequent plays. It's not a bad game, but not something Im enamoured with. Review Date:11/2/2005
Industria
Michael Schacht
2F-Spiele
2002
Y 3-4 30 7 Auction game where scoring points is the name of the game. With 3 ways of scoring points, auctions where the auctioneer gets the proceeds, or can take an item and pass his remaining option, and having factories which produce goods also providing income, this is an interesting look at the auction mechanic. In the one playing so far, the 'disadvantage' of player 4 in a 4 player game didn't appear to show up as #1 = 4, #2 = 2, #3 = 1, #4 = 3....the gap between #2 & #4 was a single point. Review Date:12/2/2004
Ingenious
Reiner Knizia
Fantasy Flight Games
2004
Y 1-4 30 8 The general concept is that you try to create rows of the same color, scoring for all previous ones already placed contiguously. This has the side effect of having multiple players (usually) garner good points over several turns from a big point producer. Also, the pieces are two hexes attached on one end, which adds some tactical decisions as you do not have to fill in the entire board, but could block areas with a single open hex. I am not really a fan of abstract games, but this one is very good. Not only that, but it tends to move along at a better pace than most abstracts since early plays are less likely to be disastrous, and later plays have many options removed due to the need to score your worst colors, and also a reduced board. There are ample opportunities for a player to recover from a bad start, particulary with the ability for a player to score an extra turn (' I'm a Genius!'). In this way, you could put together 2-4 turns in a row, and really change the complexion of the game. Also, the ability to discard and redraw when you lack any tiles in your lowest color is very welcome to a genre of game where your lowest score is your score. Even the partnership play has just enough slight differences from regular play to make it fun. Highly recommended, the implementation on BSW is first rate, and there are usually players available. Review Date:11/2/2005
Ingenious - Travel Edition
Reiner Knizia
Kosmos
2006
Y 2-2 30 8 Basically, Ingenious tuned for 2P travel play. The new set is not only smaller, but has a different (less) set of tiles and a nice board that holds the tiles well (they lock on) and pegs for scoring. Nice implementation and travels well (leave the box home). Review Date:2/7/2009
Innovation
Carl Chudyk
Asmadi Games
2010
-- 2-4 30 3 A game about civilization building, players build up tableaus and attempt to use thier cards' special features. There are multiple types of cards which are normally in a stack with only the top card being available for use of actions/determining strength. Additionally there are some cards which can cause stacks to be splayed left, right, up or down. Sadly, this innovative feature is seldom used as it requires certain cards to activate at all. Additionally, some of the cards appear to be grossly unbalanced (Metalworking available in turn 1 can get a player halfway to the victory conditions before other players can do anything). The game doesn't seem to flow well, and the balance is off more than a smidge. I would not recommend this. Review Date:8/10/2010
Jaipur
Sebastien Pauchon
GameWorks
2009
Y 2-2 30 8 Two player game where players attempt to collect sets and/or play sets. Players have options to draw, exchange or trade goods in which garner points. Bonus points (with a range of values) are available when turning in cards with 3, 4 or 5 of the same item. Many interesting choices, and fast gameplay with a 'one more time' feel to it. This is well worth playing for most people. Review Date:2/6/2010
Jambo
Rudiger Dorn
Rio Grande Games
2004
Y 2-2 45 6.5 This reminds me of the similar (in many respects) Kathai. You basically manage your hand of cards to (ultimately) garner goods through trade and then trade them in to make money. The game ends when someone makes it to 60 gold (or more). Using an action point system, the 5 actions/turn seems about right to keep from having too much downtime. Familiarity with the special cards is a must to play well, as well as the abilitty to manage your hand. Many of the special items need you to have cards in hand in order to successfully churn unusable/not useful cards from your hand...so running out is a critical failure. The well seems to be the best of the special cards, and probably players should save thier animals to target an opponent's well. Unlike life, in this game you can never go to the well too often. Review Date:11/2/2005
Jenseits von Theben
Peter Prinz
Prinz Spiele
2004
Y 2-4 75 6 Archaeology exploration game. The game uses an interesting method where players have variable length turns. For each action, a player must use some # of days to complete it. If that player is last on the track after thier turn they continue. Players try to collect knowledge points in different type of archaelogy, and then proceed to try to dig for the artifacts via a card pile. Since found artifcats are removed from the digs, there is a balance between getting there early and waiting for better knowledge (which helps you dig more cards). Interspered in all this are some museum shows which can score points if players return to Europe for them and some interesting scoring at the end of the game. Thematically it works pretty well, although the luck factor may put some people off a bit. Possibly best as a 4P game also. Review Date:7/28/2009
Kahuna
Gunter Cornett
Rio Grande Games
1998
Y 2-2 20 7 Ostensibly a game about magicians battling over islands, this is a majority game for two players with the opportunities being limited by the number of connections to the island. Components are very nice for a small box game, with nice wooden tokens, cards that also highlight the region on a small map that shows exactly where the territories are located, and a well written rulebook. Basically, you have cards in hand that can be used to place a bridge on a link connecting to that island. So each card gives 3-5 possible plays. Replacements are drafted or drawn blind...and you may skip playing and just draw to build up your hand. This leads to one of the nice parts of the game - you can play as many cards as you have on any given turn. This gives the game a very fluid feel, and the opportunities to try and setup large shifts in the balance of power. It's not a difficult game to understand, and there can be a lot of thought to it - so beware the analysis paralysis crowd. I think the playing time is about right at ~40 minutes and this is a fine addition of the 2 player genre. I susect it will work well as a game for trips, although there may be too many pieces to play on a plane flight. Review Date:9/17/2004
Kaleidos
Spartaco Albertarelli
Ystari
1995
-- 2-10 60 6.5  
Kanaloa
Gunter Cornett
Bambus Spieleverlag
2001
Y 3-4 90 7 This is a small print run (basically hand put together) game about moving around on islands and collecting items with different colors/values. The interesting mechanic is that there are one-way fish (no kidding) that you use to move from island to island. Each fish has a painted side and an unpainted side. Anyone can cross an unpainted side, but only the person with the matching color can cross the painted ones. Whenever you cross, you flip the fish over. This generates a changing environment of where you can go, what you can do, etc. There is lots more, but ultimately, you need to collect a bunch of white markers, but not too many as you need to get all your other colors at least equal to that level for them to count. Your scores also only count if you actually sacrifice them (which is in lieu of movement). In any event, I think the quality is very good for a game produced in ~ 400 total units. Review Date:10/24/2003
Kanaloa - 4P version of Kahuna
Gunter Cornett
Tilsit
2004
Y 3-4 60 7 This is (essentially) a 4P version of Kahuna. I played 3 players, and it seemed to work out very well in that scenario. While I have not played it 2P, I suspect that Kahuna would be a better candidate since the official 2P rules for Kanaloa have each player playing two colors, and I'm not a fan of the just play two player seats to make a game 2P. In this game you are trying to bridge islands and get majorities. This is done via a drafting/draw mechanism allowing you to try to collect cards for the islands you want to control/hold and deny from other players. Since you can use up all (5 is the hand limit) of your cards in a single turn, you can pull off some nasty surprises as well. There are some nuances to how the other players and thier bridges are effected when someone takes control of an island, but once you get that down pat, the game plays along very well. Also, when taking over an island majority, it is possible to have a cascade effect where many bridges are evicted, causing large swings in potential points possible. Review Date:7/21/2004
Kardinal & Konig - Das Duell
Michael Schacht
Spiele aus Timbuktu
2002
Y 2-2 30 7 Two player expansion for Web of Power. Basically, this creates a neutral third player (King) who has pieces placed by each player at the end of thier turn (which obviously will effect scoring). However, there are two other twists to it as a set majority sub-game has been created. Instead of cards played being discarded, one card is now kept face up in front of the player, and markers may be gained which will garner points from the King's cloister scoring. ie: if you have 2 England/Schwaben cards and your opponent 0 or 1, then you score your own, plus the King's points for England/Schwaben when scoring occurs. To make the game a bit more fluid, you only need tie someone to take the 'majority' tile away from them. Also included are 3 special 1 use tokens for players to make a different move once/game for each type. They are:1) Place the King's marker first rather than last in a turn.2) Place markers in two different countries.3) Change card (exchange a card with the open display). These three special cards create some tactical maneuvering not found in the normal game. However, it should be noted that the pacing of the game is a bit fast since players keep 1 card/turn, so depending on whether players are playing 1, 2 or 3 cards on each turn has a direct bearing on how fast the second scoring/end of game occurs. While not as good as straight Web of Power, it will fill some of the void when you really want to play and only 2 people are available. Certainly I expect some people will not like it, but it's certainly worth trying out. Review Date:8/19/2006
Kathai
Michael Andersch
Adlung-Spiele
2000
Y 3-5 45 5.5 Set collection/trading game. There are 5 types of goods, and cards that can have various types of goods on them (in various combinations). Through some interesting mechanics, the good types change in value thoughout the game, with just sold goods going to worthless while everything else moves up the scale. Interesting options, with each player getting one card and one action per turn. Moves fairly quickly although I could see lots of trading slowing it down somewhat. Review Date:1/13/2004
Katzenjammer Blues
Reiner Knizia
Goldsieber
1998
Y 2-6 20 6.5 Interesting mechanic of bidding for the cards that are available. Also, the penalty for using the most wild cards is severe, and really makes it work as a 2P game. Quick, and a constant game of valuing your hand cards vs. the cards available to decide whether you want those cards or not. Review Date:3/10/2004
Keltis
Reiner Knizia
Kosmos
2008
Y 2-4 30 6.5 Reiner Knizia's change to Lost Cities to create a 2-4 player version of the game. This version has 4 significant changes (other than the card mix). The first, and probably most welcome is the doing away with most of the math involved that drove some people nuts in Lost Cities. Secondly, there are now special tokens on the paths that can move tokens extra squares, give bonus points, or used in an end of game set collection for bonus (or negative) points. Third, the game end condition is dictated by the players as the game ends when 5 tokens get past a certain point on the paths. Finally, card sequences can be in either ascending or descending order. These 4 changes enhance the game in some nice ways, but may remove some of the tension available in Lost Cities. Still, it is easy to explain, there are interesting decisions to be made, and it can be played in under 45 minutes - all good thing. 2008 SDJ Winner. Review Date:12/15/2008
Keythedral
Richard Breese
Pro Ludo
2002
Y 2-5 90 7 Upon our first playing, one of the players remarked that it's Settlers without the trading. It didn't sink in until later that this is indeed true. Even more true is that it has less luck than Settlers, and yet does not seem to bog down. The way you build the town and place villages, gather resources is a key element to the game. And yet, there is no luck in it. In a very clever mechanism, fields are harvested one by one, with the current start player picking the cottage number (each player has 5 numbered 1-5) and then selects fields connected to that house, with each player in turn doing the same. Depending on turn order (which may be bid upon) and the order of house selection, you may get all, or some portion of your possibility. And yet, it's all related to how you setup your houses, the mapboard (tile laying) and possibly the erecting of fences. The mechanics and play are very straightforward, and the rules are very well writtern. The way the resource spending goes around and around until all pass is neat since there are different ways to exchange/use your goods, and it does not tip off your plan early if somoene did all of thier actions at once. Not to mention, it keeps downtime to a miniumum.The game flows very well indeed, and the only possible unsetting part of the system is LAW cards. These cards cost a resource (essentially 1 VP at end), but usually will generate the equivalent of 2-4 points. They're almost never a bad buy. The only negative about them is that they cause you to stop your turn during the spend phase, but that is easily managed with the exception of making sure you get a LAW card before someone else does. The game (much like Power Grid) starts a bit slow, but is an accelerating ride to the finish, with the end coming in a knowable, and yet seemingly very fast finish indeed. I quite liked it, and a 5P game including 20 minute rules explanation was a very respectable 90 minutes. Review Date:9/20/2004
Khronos
Ludovic Vialla
Arnaud Urbon
Matagot
2006
-- 2-5 120 4 Game about building in different time eras. Has some interesting ideas/concepts, with large buildings 'pushing forward into time' and destruction of buildings in later eras effecting earlier eras. But it seems that there are too many moving pieces and permutations going on - although to be fair, more play might ameliorate that somewhat. The board seems a bit too destructive for it's own good, and there might just be a bit too much complication in rules for 'kingdoms' for the games own good. Also possibly too long a game for what it is in addition. Review Date:8/15/2007
King's Breakfast
Alan Moon
Aaron Weissblum
Rio Grande Games
2003
Y 3-5 20 6  
Kingdoms
Reiner Knizia
Abacus
1994
Y 2-4 45 7 This is a pretty good, simple game. There is ample opportunity to get screwed in this one, and there is also a fair amount of risk/reward going on as well. A sharp, quick game that I like. There is an online version at BGG, and it plays very well through the web interface, particularly with the points being added up automatically. Review Date:12/10/2004
Klondike
Christian Wolf
Stefanie Rohner
HABA
1993
-- 2-4 20 5 An interesting dexterity game. Basically players are panning for gold. They draw out some balls (some are gold nuggets some are rocks) and try to swirl the pan around until only nuggets are left in it. Players keep the nuggets...BUT! The other players in the game bet on how many nuggets they think the player will save...and if they are correct, they are paid by the person panning. If incorrect, they give money to the person panning. So, this adds some different touches to the game, although I am not sure I like it as it takes away from the dexterity part of the game since you may haveincentive to pan poorly if you think everyone bets on you to do well. And what is the point of that - being non-dextrous by design in a dexterity game. Review Date:8/31/2009
Klunker
Uwe Rosenberg
Rio Grande Games
1999
Y 3-5 30 5 This is a set collecting game where you are (ostensibly) a jewelry shop owner. There are some interesting mechanics used for getting cards from other players, as well as methods of offering things up for 'sale' in groups which can make them less (or more) appealing. Overall, it's a solid design and worth playing if someone suggests it. Nothing spectacular though. Review Date:4/30/2004
Knights
Michael Schacht
Rio Grande Games
2001
-- 2-6 45 2 Sort of a Yahtzee with objectives of gaining cards to eventually fulfill one of 3 victory conditions. I can't see how this is a game that could ever play in 30 minutes. Each attempt to fight/conquer takes up to 3 die rolls, of 6 dice at first, and then fewer as 6's are rolled. A 6 player game took about 1:20, and that was too long. As someone said, why not just play Bunco..then you can roll without wasting any energy trying to concentrate on whether you got four 4's or if you need five 1's... I think it would have been better to not have the distraction of removing sixes and re-rolling. It is constantly forgotten in the hurry to get the rolls done. Review Date:11/6/2003
Knights of Charlemagne
Reiner Knizia
Playroom Entertainment
1995
Y 2-4 30 6.5 Knizia game similar in flavor to Lost Cities/Battleline. There are a couple of things that set this one apart. First, it is playable with 2, 3 or 4 players (partners) which is nice. Secondly, while you are fighting for control of areas, you have some limitations on where you can play cards. Third, not all cards are in use during the game, so you may be waiting for a card that won't show up. This is a nice touch IMO. Basically, each card can be played in two places (it's color or number) and you try to obtain majorities. It's fast, efficient, and it gives some value to all cards - always difficult in card based games. Certainly worth trying. The new Playroom Entertainment edition has nice tiles for the castles, and card quality is good. Review Date:12/28/2006
Kogge
Andreas Steding
JLK & M Games
2003
-- 2-4 90 7 Travelling/trading game where you use route markers to plan where you can go from different cities. Since you also use route markers in your hand to bid for turn order, and have the ability to swap out the route markers on the board to get your ship going to your destination, there is more thought to the whole bidding process than is readily apparent. Although I struggled quite a bit in my first game, I did enjoy it and wouldn't mind playing again. Currently a small production run of 400 that is sold out, I hope to obtain one in a second printing if they do it. Also, the author plans to post solitaire rules that Rick Heli says work fairly well, giving me another reason to get this one. Review Date:3/10/2004
Korsar
Reiner Knizia
AMIGO Spiele
1992
-- 2-8 30 4 This is a very simple game where you try to attack and take over ships of varying values. Instead of there being a trick to take, players play pirate ships of the same color on the same merchant ship until no one contests. It's important to pick your battles and bail early as a lack of cards will cause you to allow ships to go for free later in the game. The artwork and box are fantastic, but the gameplay seems a bit dull and contrived. There may be more strategy than apparent since you can hold cards instead of playing (with risk of getting caught with gold ships at the end-game) but there doesn't seem to be all that much of it. Probably best with 4 players, and I thought the partnership game was somewhat dull, particularly with 4 as you may as well have just played a 2P game. I may keep this one as a quick teach, quick play game that looks nice for non-game players...or give it away as a XMAS gift. Review Date:10/24/2003
Kunst Stucke
Karl-Heinz Schmiel
Moskito
1995
-- 2-5 60 4 It SOUNDS like a good ide. Create abstract art and tryto gain points by completing exact numbers of same colored tiles touching. However, the mechanism for moving pieces around is perhaps a bit too easy, and things don't REALLY get interesting until near the endgame...and usually at that point either someone cares about what you want (ie: different count in that color) or doesn't, and it is sort of random whether you get hosed by other players actions. One of the few Mosquito games I have played that really doesn't deserve a reprint. Review Date:10/13/2009
Kupferkessel Co.
Gunter Burkhardt
Goldsieber
2001
Y 2-3 30 7 Optional rules (and a player supplied pawn) necessary for 3 players. Interesting game where you're trying to collect sets of magic ingredients. The 'board' is made up of a 6x6 grid of spell components with the exception of the 4 corners (which allow you to do nothing). You start with 1 ingredient in your hand. Movement of your pawn is always clockwise alongside the outside edge of the board and you move a number of rows equal to the top ingredient in your stack. After moving you pick any ingredient available in that row, and replace it from the draw pile. Interesting, quick, and enough strategy in deciding which ingredients to get (you need to get 3 of one type to actually score points) and also be cognizant of how many spaces you need to move on your subsequent turn. Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Bed Pan
Piss Pot
La Citta
Gerd Fenchel
Kosmos
2000
Y 2-5 120 5.5 Game about building cities, with different building influencing where people would go (ie: hopping from city to city). You must also generate grain and gold to allow you to feed, and have advantages in getting some of the larger buildings built. Has an interesting map, and the mechanics are decent, but it just doesn't seem that things like 'you have to have a Market to have a city pop. > 5, you need water to have > 8' adds much value. It just makes it so that you are somewhat programmed with lots of your buying choices. I should point out that I also made the mistake where my city got to size 5 but I didn't have a market so it couldn't expand. However, this ultimately didn't make much difference as it just forced me to build in the other city. In any event, this is one I could take or leave. Review Date:11/2/2003
Last Train to Wensleydale
Martin Wallace
Warfrog
2009
Y 3-4 60 8  
Le Havre
Uwe Rosenberg
Lookout Games
2008
-- 1-5 150 7 A nice game of gaining resources, building buildings to generate more resources, etc. The gameflow is nicely done with maintenance done a little bit on each players' turn vs. all at once. The basic premise is for players to acquire buildings/ships and generate more money, food, vp's, etc. The trick is that one each turn you either take an available resource, or use a building for your action. Not only that, but you cannnot use ANY building on consecutive turns. Also, since buildings only appear once, you may have to use someone else's building, which has a cost associated with it. Since no two players can occupy a building simultaneously, this twist creates some very interesting tactics and restrictions on what the players can do. Enjoyable, and experienced players can play this one fairly fast. 25-30 minutes/player in the game is probably right. Review Date:8/10/2010
Leinen Los!
Alex Randolph
HABA
1997
-- 2-4 20 6  
Leonardo Da Vinci
Stefano Luperto
Antonio Tinto
Mayfair Games
2006
Y 2-5 60 5 Game about creating inventions ala Leonardo. Players place workers on a board which allows them to take actions - but at a cost depending on who has the most/when they were placed. These allow extra workers, mechanical men, resources and a few other tidbits. Then players (or at at the same time) they also allocate workers of thier limited supply to begin working on inventions. Players who complete the inventions early get more money, but also they can gain the invention itself, which helps them complete inventions in the same family faster. If multiple players complete at the same time, they have a blind bid for the invention. The game flows fine, and the beginning setup seems to work well in balancing player turn order. However, there just doesn't seem to be a real hook in the game that grabs the interest. Review Date:9/26/2008
Liar's Dice
Richard Borg
Milton Bradley
1974
Y 2-6 30 6 Unlike the American version, the German version has a couple of twists to it. 1) You lose as many dice as you're bid was too high instead of the American version where you only lose 1 die at a time (commonly played in golf clubs)2) You can bid all wilds. Otherwise, played the same way, and good fun when in the mood to play. Review Date:3/10/2004
Linie 1
Stefan Dorra
Mayfair Games
1995
-- 2-5 60 6  
Logistico
Corne van Moorsel
Cwali
2003
-- 2-5 60 5 This is a game with some promise, and it may get a better rating yet, but there seem to be some items that just didn't make sense in the reward/pain in the ass department. Chief among these is the roads. I see no reason why it shouldn't have just been 1 area = 1 point. All it does is create (in my mind) lots of chances for people to make mistakes counting with no actual real payoff for the game. The 'you can only deliver if you make a profit this turn' seems like a silly rule as well. I'm not sure what the point of it is since if you wait, you have a 3 point penalty for holding it, but the delivery price goes up. Why not let someone hog the goods and deliver them at a loss to keep others from getting them? I'm also not a fan of the randomly drawn tiles for bonus points....I can tolerate the random start positions. I like much of the game, but 9 colors could be going a bit too far. I also do not like the counter-intuitive 'if I take longer to deliver a good, I get paid more' - that's counter-intuitive. It's an interesting game, but I think that it will be a game where different groups have house rules to change the items they don't like. Review Date:1/9/2004
Loopin' Louie
Carol Wiseley
Milton Bradley
1994
Y 2-4 10 6.5 Not much really needs to be said. Try to knock an airplane up in the air to knock tokens off from in front of the other players. The game is for exactly 4 players, although I suppose someone could play 2 spots with less players. Good clean mechanical fun. I still think it's funny that someone has come up with tournament rules for this children's game. Review Date:8/15/2007
Lord of the Rings
Reiner Knizia
Hasbro
2000
Y 2-5 60 5 Interesting game in that it's an attempt to make a cooperative game....and it mostly works. However, since you're basically kind of going through a script, with the randomness coming from the event tile draws and the card draws...it's probably not something most people will play more than a few times. Expansions to the system may add more to it, but as it stands, it's on my list of games that I would play if someone were enthusiastic about playing it, but probably not suggest it. Review Date:12/11/2003
Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation
Reiner Knizia
Fantasy Flight Games
2002
Y 2-2 30 7.5 I was very surprised at the quality of this game. Essentially, it is Stratego with some modifications to give a faster paced game with more bluffing/tactical options. The stroke of genius here is that there CAN be automatic wins, but if not cardplay of a limited supply of cards (unless you run out then you get the entire gamut) to force most resolutions really helps speed up play. The stacking limits, combined with the only move forward play also has many implications on play. First game will probably take ~ 40 minutes with rule explanations...after that about 25 minutes/game. Everyone should be aware of the distinction of the terms: When attacking, when defending as they play key roles on many of the characters and thier effects. Review Date:1/9/2004
Lords of the Renaissance
Phil Eklund
Sierra Madre Games
1996
Y 2-12 300 3 An overly long, ambiguous (in a long ruleset) game of ecxtending military/economic control through negotiations/trade routes and military domination. This game seems to suffer mostly from having many rules covering special cases, as opposed to general purpose rules, leading to a large amount of confusion, downtime, and sometimes plain boredom. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of negotiation in general, but having a difficult time understanding what is going on in the game despite multiple rulesets available, makes the negotiation part rather difficult indeed. Add to this what seems to be an exceedingly long play time for the amount of decision making there is, makes it IMO not a worthwhile play. Review Date:9/26/2008
Lost Cities
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
1999
Y 2-2 45 8 An excellent 2 player card game that has some good strategy blended with some luck and making risk assessments. Yes, there's luck and strategies are pretty set, with your card draw having a lot to do with how the hand plays out. But it's still a nice game to play when you have limited time or someone wants to play something quick. Review Date:10/24/2003
Lost Valley
Tobias Goslar
Roland Goslar
Kronberger Spiele
2004
Y 3-4 45 7 Although we played with the endgame conditions incorrect, I'm not sure it would add THAT much to the game other than stretching it to a what would seem to be a better play amount. It's certainly not bad, but something about it doesn't strike me all that well. Basically, you draw rhombus shaped tiles, and try to collect the resources (food, lumber, tools, etc.) you need in order to ultimately get enough nuggets to win the game. The theme is nice and fits in well with the items you get, as well as the variable value of some of the resources (gold nuggets, food). Also seems like it would be better with 4 players instead of 3 since it would be less likely for 1 player to operate on thier own on one side of the river. In that respect, it might work as a 2P game, although luck of the draw might doom that...but from a rules standpoint, it should work fine with 2P. Update. Having now played several times, and getting more familiar with the game mechanics and being able to think through it, this is a better game than I first thought. Although there may still be issues with combatting dynamite, there are many possibilities for trying out different options with your purchases and seeing how the paths play out. Review Date:11/2/2005
Louis XIV
Ruediger Dorn
Rio Grande Games
2005
Y 2-4 100 6 Basically a majority placement game, where players have the options of placing / retrieving pieces into thier use supply by playing cards. Cards denote 12 locations on the 'board', and placement is done starting at the card location with the option to spread away to connected (diagonal) cards. For each card there is an award which the majority player gets free, and depending on the card other players may be able to get the reward for some cost. Location can be flipped so that they have different requirements on a subsequent round, and locations with Louis XIV on them have special benefits. Players are collecting items which they use to complete missions, and the missions give them extra items/actions during the game. The game seems to work well, but perhaps is overly long for what it is. One note is that many feel the scoring is imbalanced as blind tile draws are one prize you get, and they count for scoring at the end. Now, since the better you do, the more tiles you will get throughout the game, it doesn't seem like this would swing things much. However, since I have only played it 2P (where it really probably doesn't have as much impact) I can't really say for sure. Otherwise, the rules are concise, with very good sections on the missions and thier functions which is extremely handy. Review Date:8/28/2008
Lowendynastie
Hartmutt Witt
Adlung-Spiele
1998
Y 3-6 30 6 Rolling trick taking game with some weirdness (but that's why they're all different). The main difference here is that it is possible to start a 2nd trick, and thus have two tricks going at the same time, with potentially 2 different players winning the tricks. Also, while it is a race to become the king of beasts (ie: collect 10 points), you need to be the LAST player in a hand to collect thier 10th trick. If you collect trick #10, and then sometime later in that same hand someone else does, they win. So it's hurry upa nd get ahead if you can, otherwise stay close to maybe make a late finish. Many interesting decisions due to the system, and the art is very nice. Well worth picking up if you like trick taking games. Review Date:2/6/2010
Lucky Loop
Wolfgang Panning
Karsten Hartwig
Queen
2003
Y 2-6 30 6 Ostensibly a contest of doing airplane maneuvers, this is a combination dice game + hand management game. Basically you create sets of flights to use certain color cards, with higher point values being worth more points overall, and bonuses for your dice matching exactly. With some thought about what cards to play, when to try and beat someone's score, and managing re-roll/extra dice tokens, there is a fair amount of strategy here, but nothing overy complex. Being a dice game, bad luck will kill you, and good luck could hand the game to you, so it must not be taken too seriously. Probably best for 4 or less...I could see 6 players taking way too long. Plays fine (IMO) as a 2P game, and the fact that it was $11, makes it a reasonable buy. Review Date:2/28/2005
Maestro
Rudi Hoffmann
Hans im Gluck
1989
Y 2-4 60 7 This is a game where you try to fill in concerts. You can sign up musicians to contracts exclusive to you, but if the game ends before they are employed, you'll lose money. The only tricky part is that each concert needs a director, and there are only enough directors for each concert. If you are unlucky and get no directors, you will be at a disadvantage as the directors are also wild. To complete a concert you need to fill in all the slots with the appropriate musicians. Interesting, though I'd need to play a few more times to see if there's anything fundamentally wrong with it. I like it though. Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Boys in the Band
BackGeek Boys
Magna Grecia
Leo Colovini
Michael Schacht
2F-Spiele
2003
-- 2-4 90 6.5 A tile placement game with a couple of twists. #1, you essentially have a hand management game going on with your tile supply as it's limited in the mix of two types of tiles, and part of your turn could be to replenish tiles. Secondly, you need to plan ahead insofar as you need to be able to visualize where you can maximize connections to cities as the number of connections is much more important. The addition of needing to watch your cash flow, and link up markets to your own cities, this one will appeal to those who like a little 'puzzleness' to thier games. It's a good game, and with the right people will play in 45-60 minutes. Longer than that would probably overstay it's welcome. Played fairly well with 3 players, although it's certainly possible that it could deteriorate into 2 people fighting for Oracles while the 3rd gets more. I am anxious to try this as a 2 player game to see how the play holds up there with so much more space. Review Date:3/29/2004
Larry: Lunch with Lurch
Mall World
Andrea Meyer
Rio Grande Games
2004
-- 3-5 80 5 I don't know if this is a case where I am not up to the game, or the game is just not working for me. All of the pieces of the game work together, and the game moves along, but...there's nothing fun about it. With the necessity of trying to figure out many possible permutations of tile combinations + store combinations, and needing to value those (which of course is different for each player) is a lot of work. There just doesn't seem to be much entertainment - it seems like an excercise. Add to that, the fact that it's easy for another player to hose your setup unknowingly, and it's hard to get behind this game as one you'd want to play. Review Date:8/17/2005
Mamma Mia
Uwe Rosenberg
Rio Grande Games
1999
Y 2-5 30 7 Don't laugh....you make pizzas. I know it seems silly, but it's quick and fun. Approved as fun by people who like games and people who are occasional (ie: not very often) game players. Plays well with 3-5 although even playing with 2 it's still OK. Review Date:10/24/2003
Marracash
Stefan Dorra
Kosmos
1996
Y 3-4 60 7 In this game, players must try to balance out helping only themselves, with helping others simultaneously. Players must sell shop space, or buy shop space, and try to guide customers into shops so they can make money. In a nice twist, players gain commissions for sales, and for guiding customers into opponents' shops, so there are reasons for moving customers into shops even if they're not your own. This facet of the game, and the fact that there are queues of customers, ensures a nice flow to the game. Beginning players will have a difficult time gauging how much a shop is worth (location matters of course), and so it probably needs multiple plays to really get a good handle on the mechanism. It also seems to play very well with 3 players, notoriously a hard number to play balance. Unfortunately, the game itself only supports 3 or 4 players, and so is difficult to fit into a group playing sometime. Still, the streamlined approach to play which keeps playing time in the 45 minute range is welcome. Most players should enjoy playing this the few times it takes to really start to evaluate the values of shops. Recommended. Review Date:11/3/2005
Martinis and Men
A. W. Compton
Maggie Elkin
TableStar Games
2007
-- 2-8 20 3 This could have almost been a decent game. Basically you are creating a dating pool, where you are trying to match male/female with at least 1 trait. You draw a card and then ask if someone has a match in thier hands or match a pool in the middle. Once there is a match, 2 dice are rolled that determines if a marriage occurs, they're still dating or one person dumps the other. This creates a discard pile and pool in the middle. Unfortunately, while there are 2 decks of cards, male and female with different backs - they are all shuffled into 1 deck. So one thing that can happen is that there are no eligibles to matched up, you could see by the deck whether there COULD be any. So if there are no men in play, and the deck has 5 women...your outta luck. Not exactly my cup of tea, but had they kept the two decks seperate so you could at least pick the gender on your draw, I could have even given this a 5 since the game would work better. It's short, but not short enough for what it is. Review Date:8/15/2007
Masons
Leo Colovini
Rio Grande Games
2006
-- 2-4 45 7  
McMulti
James J. St. Laurent
Hexagames
1974
Y 2-4 120 6 Game about finding/drilling/refining oil. Each player purchases buildings/rigs and places them on one quarter of the board. Then they roll production dice which cause a certain grid row to be activated on thier board as well as on the two adjacent neighbors. Can run a bit long, and possibly not as good a game as the demand for it - but it is nonetheless a solid game that should be looked at by anyone looking for a solid economic game. Review Date:6/21/2007
Medici
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
1995
Y 3-6 60 7 This is a terriffic auction game that plays fast and efficient, even with a full game. Easy to teach, easy to remember how to play, and a scoring track built in. What else do you need? OK, how about a board that's not as ugly as the Rio Grande version, and highlighting every 5 points on the scoring track and not every two. Randomly discarding goods before each round with < full game makes it difficult for card counters to have an advantage. Review Date:11/6/2003
Medici vs. Strozzi
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
2006
Y 2-2 45 9 2P version of the classic Medici game. Players sit opposite each other and try to fill thier trade ships with goods bound for 3 ports. As in medici, you cannot bid for goods that you do not have room for. However there are several twists here that make this game very compelling. Each port does not accept all types of goods, and so the lots will have more values at some ports than others nsince there are dominance fights for goods types in the ports. Also, the total value of the goods, regardless of whether there is a dominance fight in that port is still worth bonus money. Finally, the critical part of the game is the way the 'bidding' works. The player who is drawing the goods decides when to stop and put them up for auction. However, it's not an auction, but he sets a price that they may be purchased for. If the opposing player does NOT purchase them at that price, then the player offering them MUST purchase them at the price. The very intersting part is that the opposing player MAY buy themn and use them...or just throw them away. It is a fascinating dynamic, and one that really creates value assessments that are not only different from player to player, but also leaves it so the player in 'control' cannot truly dictate the gamepley. This is important in that (unlike medici) the two players will NOT use all thier ships each round. The round ends when one players has loaded 3 ships regardless of how many the other player has loaded. This creates a fascinating blend of strategy intertwined with the entire question of relative value. A truly enjoyable experience for most - although I suspect that players who are uncomfortable with auctions may dislike it. Review Date:6/21/2007
Members Only
Reiner Knizia
Blatz
1996
Y 3-5 45 6 Reiner Knizia game based on trying to guess how many cards will come out/be played based on partial information. Players place bets and try to guess based on thier hands + other cards how many card will be played in each of 5 categories. Since more points are awarded at the extremes, there is a good chance for players to make up ground on other players with correct bids on the extremes. A good, if a bit dry game that shows what you can do with limited information, not only from what is showing, but what cards the other players have played and how they have placed thier bets. Review Date:7/28/2009
Merchants of Amsterdam
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
2000
Y 3-5 60 6.5 Auction game using an auction clock where the bid price starts high and the clock ticks down. When someone pushes down on the clock, the auction ends and they pay the price. You need to get (this may sound familiar) 1st/2nd best in various categories, as well as garnishing some bonuses based on warehouse locations, open trade offices in all 4 world theatres, etc. It IS possible to win this game without bidding, although that would seem rare. My auction clock has a small problem where it can 'hang' at around 80 on the dial but will continue if the dial is tapped. This is a game where I would (if I were bored) consider writing a DirectX application to replace the auction clock using a laptop with joysticks for each player and an audible counter. Other than that, I like the game, and it seems to flow pretty well and really is not all that difficult to teach to a new player. Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Dutch Masters
Mermaid Rain
Keiji Kariya
Hitoshi Yasuda
Group SNE
2003
-- 3-6 60 5 Basically a race to pickup items with some bonus scoring thrown in. Bidding for turn order seems problematic as the last winner will win ties, and can maintain the turn order for multiple rounds unless there's a bad card draw or they just don't care anymore. Different from most pickup games as the board changes based on players placing tiles prior to thier move, and with some tiles staying for the rest of the game vs. disappearing at turn end. Still, the item chits are small, and hard to pickup, and the game seems like it could be a tad tighter in the gameplay. Review Date:4/23/2004
Mesopotamia
Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
Mayfair Games
2005
-- 2-4 45 6 This is basically a pickup/move game, where you are ultimately trying to deliver some idols to center of the board. There is some development work to be done, and some nastiness as players may steal items from thier opponents. Unfortunately, there are special cards which could possibly swing the game near the end, and yet they are such an intrinsic part of the game, that everyone will have some. So skill play can easily be negated near the end, although poor play seems to be adequately penalized. Alas, this type of play is probably necessary to allow a player to catchup. There's nothing wrong with this game, and the publisher should be applauded for using hexes which stay together (they have curly finger to lock them in). Production quality is very good, and this game does not overstay it's welcome, fitting nicely in the 40-50 minute mark. However, there really are not many routes to victory, and once players become familiar with the game, it seems there will be less losses due to poor play, and more due to luck of the draw. Review Date:3/10/2006
Mit List und Tucke
Klaus Palesch
Berliner Spielkarten
1999
Y 4-6 60 5 This is a relative to David and Goliath, but not as successful. It has some similar mechanics, but somehow it seems like it might be a little too much work for what you get out of it. It can be confusing to describe/teach, and the art on the cards is not really humorous or evocative of anything to me, and so doesn't even help in the looks category (not that the art is horrible, but it doesn't help any). Trying to collect only two colors while not getting the others, low card played splits with the high card played, afetr the high card player selects means there are many opportunities for being hosed...much more than similar games like David & Goliath, or Sticheln for that matter. Response will vary a lot depending on the play group. Review Date:2/4/2005
Modern Art
Reiner Knizia
Mayfair Games
1996
Y 2-5 60 9 I would not play with only two even though there are rules for it. Buying and selling Art pieces. An interesting auction game that's easy to teach.. A pretty good game for a family and people who aren't much into gaming, or those that are. Everyone who has played it has liked it so far. This game is out-of-print and regularly fetches $60+ on EBAY. Review Date:10/24/2003
Mogul
Michael Schacht
Spiele aus Timbuktu
2002
Y 3-6 90 6 A small-box Michale Schact game. Easier than DON (which is just plain weird in the bidding), and yet seems to do a good job of showing a type of stock market pattern. Players bid on one of two options during a turn...the opportunity to buy a stock which has been drawn, or the opportunity to sell the stock (the type you can sell is signified by the border color of teh drawn stock). Bidding proceeds until one is left standing...however, bidding is done a single chip at a time by each player. When someone drops out, they take all chips bid to that point in time. So there is a lot of delicacy in decidiing when to drop out, when to stay in. Another neat facet is that the value for selling stock is based on the number of stocks of that type currently owned (ie: more players holding = higher price, less = lower price). This leads to another tough option: do you sell at 3 each, or hold hoping to increase the value? If you hold and someone else has the opportunity to sell, they'll lower your value again. Balancing this are dividend payments...making it less difficult, but nonetheless a critical part of the game. With a variable ending (sometime in the last 5 cards), and leftover stocks being worthless, the last few turns will see a huge turnover in stock. It's definitely possible to have a runaway leader, but in our playing it was caused by me bailing too soon on a critical bid, allowing the leader to sell at a good price, also depreciating the current value for a stock. I think if there were better ways to reel in a leader this would be a better game. Not for everyone, but certainly worth a look in the small box category. Review Date:9/17/2004
Money!
Reiner Knizia
Goldsieber
1999
Y 3-5 30 5.5 Reiner Knizia auction/set collecting game. In the game you are trying to collect sets of the same types of money, with players bidding cards from thier hand. High bid takes choice of either face up cards or one of the other players' hands, etc. The cards themselves have a tiebreaker system built into them, which helps speed play along. Ultimately, while the game supports 3-5, it may be best with 3 since it's a little easier to get sets. There are also more card draws, which may also help players catchup when trailing early. Like all auction games, inherently valuing the bids may take a while, and will vary from group to group. Review Date:8/28/2006
Montgolfiere
Dominique Erhard
Eurogames
1992
Y 2-6 45 5.5 Hot air balloon races. In this game each player has an identical deck of cards and will blindly play cards. The object is to get your balloon the highest, while your opponents try all kinds of dastardly tricks. Foul weather, grappling hooks, special motors will all conspire to keep you from climbing. Play is done blindly, and it's certainly possible that bad luck will destroy you. Still, if you keep track of cards, and pay attention you can often deduce how your opponents will play. There's also the option for an extra player in the form of the Red Baron, where their cards are drawn randomly which can add some zing to a 2 or 3 player game. Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Full of Gas
Pass the Gas
Mordred
Martin Wallace
Warfrog Games
1999
Y 3-4 45 5 Simple Wallace game where players are attempting to stop Mordred from overrunning Britain...or if he does, being the least evil player on the map. It's a simple game, and there are strategies to it. Still, it's certainly not a great game - although the latest version is nicely done with good bits. It perhaps overstays it's welcome a tad, although games should be finished in 30ish minutes. Review Date:8/10/2010
Mr. Jack
Bruno Cathala
Ludovic Maublanc
Hurrican
2006
Y 2-2 30 5.5 Deduction game featuring the capture/escape of Jack the ripper. One player is the detective attempting to find and catch the ripper and the other is the secret Jack. Players alternate (1-2-1) moving 4 of the characters per turn, then depending on who is seen, counters are flipped to display those people and also the player who is Jack must let the detective know if Jack is seen or not. Next turn the other 4 are moved in the same alternating type of sequence (order determined randomly). Jack must either escape while not seen, or not be caught through 8 turns to win. Since each character has a special power, there are many different things to try. Not as much deduction as logical reasoning and figuring out how to determine Jack as early as possible. Interesting, but perhaps too puzzly for some. 1st edition has some odd printing problems which necessitate a little extra care in setup and play. Review Date:11/25/2008
Mu & Mehr
Doris Matthaus
Frank Nestel
Doris & Frank
1995
Y 3-6 90 7 Some entertaining card games in the bunch. The game includes 6 games to play with the special included cards and cubes. Mu is a very neat trick taking/point accumulation game with changing partners via bid, multiple trump suits possible, and all players having thier own individual scores. Very neat, although hard to get it from just reading the rules. One of the others is an Oh Hell variant that's pretty easy to play, and there is some different character to each of the rest. A nice set of games, and the quality of the cards/box is very good. Review Date:12/16/2003
My Word!
Reiner Knizia
Out of the Box
2001
-- 2-6 30 6 Quick, realtime word game. Players flip up letters (or two letter cards - unknown). The first person to come up with a multiple syllable word using letters on the table takes those letter cards (1 point/card). Fast and efficient, but not a special game. Occasional play as a filler or an alternate party type game is where this can be enjoyed. Review Date:11/2/2005
Mystery of the Abbey
Bruno Faidutti
Serge Laget
Days of Wonder
1996
Y 3-6 120 6.5 Clue-like sleuth game where you try to discover which of the monks in the abbey has murdered one of thier own. Played once as a 3 player game and it went very quick as someone got a library card on the 2nd 'round' and was able to switch cards with one of the other players. With ~ 2/3 of the suspects auto-eliminated, it didn't take long for a winner. I liked the board/layout and quality of the pieces. I wish they had included recommendations on how to mark your sheets so it's easier to answer questions like: Have you seen any Fat Franciscans? In any event, I think I'd like to eliminate the library in a 3P game, but will see how it goes in a 4P game. The fact that the game doesn't end if a player makes an incorrect accusation, is nice, and building up a case (revelations) about the perpetrator can give you a victory even if you don't catch the criminal. This is a pretty good game that should appeal to more of the non-gamer but deduction fan club. Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Flabby in the Abbey
Mystery Rummy 1: Jack the Ripper
Mike Fitzgerald
US Game Systems
1998
Y 2-4 45 7 This game was a little confusing at first, but went much better once I figured out that you play it like Rummy. My, I'm a bright one aren't I??? In any event, there are two neat twists in this game. The first is the option of making a secret guess at who the murderer is going to be. Often times, you want to do this while you hold a meld of a suspect in your hand so the opponent has no idea who it might be. You could also do it when it looks like a certain suspect will turn out to be the Ripper and you hold (and intend to play) their alibi card. The second is the clever use of the Ripper Escapes card as it is only a liability early, but then becomes increasingly worse until all victims have been claimed and you then have the opportunity for big points. The defense of course, is to get rid of all your cards before that happens. Anyway, good game that isn't very difficult to understand and should be good for card game players. Review Date:11/2/2003
Mystery Rummy 2: Murders in the Rue Morgue
Mike Fitzgerald
US Game Systems
1999
Y 2-4 45 6.5 This is another Rummy variant that seems a bit easier to teach players new to rummy variants. There are only a few different types of gavel cards, which are pretty straightforward, and the only oddity that takes getting used to is the 'feeding the Orangutan' phase. Once you have that down pat, the game plays along pretty well. Allegedly a very good partnership game, I haven't had the opportunity to really play it that way yet. I have played lots of 2P, and also 3P, and it seems to hold up well for both. Review Date:1/9/2004
Mystery Rummy 3: Doctor Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde
Mike Fitzgerald
US Game Systems
2001
Y 2-4 45 6.5 Another Mystery Rummy variant, this one only plays with 2 players. The biggest twist to this one, is that you can only play new melds when the Jeckyll/Hyde personality is set for the same type as the meld. Since the personality changes througout the game via the use of potions, this is an interesting option which ties in well with the story. Also, when a player goes out, points are doubled for melds matching the personality...adding another dimension to the play. The final twists are in relation to scoring. No loss of points for cards in hand. If you go out with all the same type of card (and matching the current personality) your opponent scores 0. Enjoyable. Review Date:1/9/2004
Napoleon
N/A N/A
Columbia Games
1970
-- 2-3 90 7 Block Wargame by Columbia (previous Avalon Hill) in which players recreate the battle of Waterloo. Rules are simple, and the block system creates a simple, effective way to track step reductions in units as well as introducing a credible fog of war aspect to the game. Forces are moved on the big board, with battles being fought on a tactical board. My one complaint of the newer Columbia treatment is that it has too high a unit density for the size of board. I understand that they roughly doubled the number of blocks from the Avalon Hill version to keep single battles from having too large an impact. However, this does lengthen the game a fair amount and the crowding is a bit much. Still, it's good and worth the time to play - although I'd like to go back and play the Avalon Hill version and see if I like that version better since it is a bit more streamlined. Review Date:4/4/2006
Naval War
Neal Zimmerer
Craig Taylor
Avalon Hill
1983
Y 3-9 45 7 Simple card game. First game I ever saw that said on the box 'beer and pretzels game'. I lost an original copy, located a sealed new one on EBAY and lost THAT one...then had to pay again to get a used one on EBAY. Then I found the previous one so I have two again and scanned in copies of the original cards. Fun, simple game. Review Date:11/25/2003
Larry: Beer 'n Pretzels
Neuland
Thomas Stapelfeldt
Eggert-Spiele
2004
Y 2-4 120 7 Building system game in the vein of Roads and Boats. Start off with a woodcutter and a hunter and eventually build up different advances. The graphics on this one are poor, but the gameplay is pretty clever. It is a luckless game, with a unique staggered player turn system. While using action points to create goods, which go into other buildings and create more goods, a player can use less action points than allowed, helping him go earlier next turn, or get two turns in a row. Since only one person can use a resource/building at a time, this creates some tricky logistical problems, as well as methods of directly interfering with other player's plans. The worst thing is to leave yourself without food, as the other players are certain to also leave you without food, which is the main building block in the game. The AP cost of 3 vs. 1 to get a food without a lodge/farm is significant. The game flows well, and once you understand what costs AP's, and what doesn't, it is very intuitive. However, it can degenerate into analysis paralysis, and there is also some amount of 'wait, can I take that back' that seems to happen. If timeframe can be kept down to ~ 60 minutes with 3P (eminently doable), this is an enjoyable game. However, it is possible for the last two turns to drag a bit since the last few advances usually to build are multple turn affairs, and messing up when to stop on one turn and continue on the next could cause you to toss valuable goods. A good effort that most serious players will want to play at least once. Review Date:1/4/2005
New England
Alan Moon
Aaron Weissblum
Goldsieber
2003
-- 3-4 60 6 One play so far with the standard setup. This game is about incrementally building up your position/bonus point cards. You can influence a great deal on your turn by determining the # land tiles drawn vs. victory point cards. There is a balancing act going on where you need to leave room for pilgrims (which produce income), barns (which give you more flexibility in card holding), and ships...all 3 of which will have a victory point bonus at endgame. The counterpoint to using your land for these, is that you need to save room for turning some of your land into working fields and their attendant bonus points. It's slow steady progress towards an ultimate goal, with small gains over the course of the game. The auction mechanism is clean and quick, which really helps the game move along. Review Date:11/28/2005
Niagara
Thomas Liesching
Rio Grande Games
2004
Y 3-5 45 6.5 This is a fine effort at originality, without too many rules. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the rulebook could be considered overkill here. While it took me 30 minutes to go through the rules, teaching someone to play was like 3 minutes. Essentially this is a blind bidding game, except that not only does your bidding effect how your pieces move, but it also can effect every other player who has pieces in play (on the river). The board is a very neat idea with a channel cut so that discs (the river) can move down stream and eventually fall off over the falls. While the game says 3-5 players, it is also acceptable with two by simply removing the option of winning by getting 4 like gems, so keeping the other two winning options (7 total gems or 5 different gems). There is enough strategy here that the game itself is fine, but the addition of the river mechanism puts it into the 'really neat' category. Review Date:2/10/2005
Ninety-Nine
David Parlett
Public Domain
1968
Y 2-5 60 6 This is a relative to Oh Hell, where the bid is done by using cards out of your hand. The hand is dealt, and a trump suit is determined (there are a few ways to do this - flip top card from remaining cards, etc.) players then make a bid. The bid is in tricks to take, with the final number determined by the 3 cards the player selects. A club is a bid for 3 tricks, heart is 2 tricks, spade is 1 trick and a diamond is 0 tricks. The combination of these 3 determines your bid....and....these cards are NOT used by the player. So you have to decide not only the number you're trying to get, but also take into account how it effects your hand to use those particular cards. This is a nice change of pace from Oh Hell, and fairly easy to teach. Review Date:11/23/2004
Nodwick
Frank Banham
Jolly Roger Games
2002
-- 3-6 30 4.5 Card game where you assemble parts of the body and psyche. You pass an egg timer around and attempt to trade to get what you need. If all else fails, you can draw a card and pass the egg timer. If you forget and the timer runs out, you don't get any cards. Kind of weird, and mediocre at best. Review Date:11/6/2003
Notre Dame
Stefan Feld
Rio Grande Games
2007
Y 2-5 75 8 This game is about building up your area of a city, to get (ultimately) victory points. The main twist in the system is that players get cards, and then use a take one pass left mechanism to finally end up with thier 3 cards for the round of which they get to use 2. Players then must place cubes (roughly) based on the cards they place getting VP's, money, or other bonuses..with more cubes in one area gaining larger bonuses. So there is a desire to specialize, but many areas to contemplate...and then you must take into account the cards which can be bid on after each round..and then thier effect due to rats which can cause players some amount of unpleasantness. A very nicely produced game, it can be explained fairly easily by someone who has played several times, and scales surprisingly well from 2-5 players. A very enjoyable game. Review Date:10/23/2008
Oltremare - Merchants of Venice
Emanuele Ornella
Mind the Move
2004
Y 2-5 60 7 Small print run (700) from independent publisher. The original print run was sold out at Essen 04, prompting another printing of (1,000) units which is now selling well. Ostensibly a game of trading in the mediterranean, it's really a hand management game, with some opportunities for trading with opponents. The nature of the trading is that it benefits your opponent more than you, so you only do it when really necessary. It has similarities with Bohnanza in that you're trying to collect/play sets, but has several additional twists. The first is that the last card on your play stack indicates your hand size for next turn, as well as the number of cards you can play next turn. Then, when playing cards, symbols on the cards determine whether you receive income, gain cards for your hand, take penalty cards and move your ship. The race for harbor markers is a secondary one, and while it appears that the cheap goods card is much more powerful than the others, unless you can move to several of them in the game, you won't be able to always utilize it since when you move, your current marker becomes inactive. The game flows well, although possibly a touch long for what it is. Having to balance the fact that a card has 4 effects, plus the added effect of the last card played in your stack, and the necessity of collecting/playing sets to be successful gives it a little more ramp up time than you'd expect. Gamers will pick it up fairly quickly, but I am reticent about trying it with non-gamers. It works fine as a 2P game as well, albeit with little/no trading. Review Date:1/4/2005
Olympia 2000
Stefan Dorra
Hans im Gluck
1994
Y 2-5 30 8.5 Can you win the Olympics? You have a set of cards with different ratings in 5 different Olympic events. There are always 2 events that you know are coming up. However, whoever plays the worst card for the first of those two events, will get to pick the event that will be two away. So there is a small queue of events, the events graduate in value for each sport (like Jeopardy) , and all events will not be used. So you either want to win, or come in last to setup your strong events. The cards are very humorous, and the play is quick and fun. The draw mechanism is nice in that when it's your 'turn' you get to restock your card by drawing and deciding to keep or give to one of the other players. This gives you a bit of control on what cards you get. Played really well as a 3 player game, and since it's essentially a hidden bidding game, there shouldn't be any 2 vs. 1 player issues. Short and fun, always a good type of game to keep on the bookshelf. Review Date:10/15/2007
Packeis im Pol
Gunter Cornett
Alvydas Jakeliunas
Bambus
2003
Y 2-4 20 7 Another good game from Bambus, will be published in English with the title 'Hey, That's my Fish'. In this game of hopping pengions, players move along hex rows attempting to garner all the nice fish, and blocking (and eventually stranding) the opponents' penguins as ice floes are removed from play. Gameplay is very straightforward, but there are many options. A bonus is that the game supports 2-4 players, and while it may turn out that 3-4 players causes a kingmaker problem, the length (~20-30 minutes) should ameliorate this in most players' minds. It can be very brutal as a 2P game, and care should be taken to not scare off a new player in thier first couple of games. In this way it is very similar to Seasim (a 2P only game), and a great many N player games that become brutal when played with only 2P. Highly Recommended for everyone to try, although the strategies will probably elude children under 12 or so. Review Date:11/3/2005
Palazzo
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
2005
Y 2-4 45 7.5 Knizia game of building. It merges several concepts (types of money like Alhambra), sets of different money, and building aesthetics to creat a smooth flowing game. Players can gain money (but other players also do), buy building pieces outright, or auctioning blocks of building pieces. It is important to try and keep a cash reserve to prevent an opponent from getting cheap building pieces...particularly in a 2P game. With many different types of bonuses, the scoring can be tedious, although during acual gameplay it's intuitive. More windows is worth more. Higher buildings are worth more. Buildings that all look the same are worth more. So it's fairly easy to guage what you want to do. You must also try not to get too many building pieces of the same floor, as it will cause issues with recombining as there is a severe -5 penalty for a 1 story building, and 0 points for a 2 story building. All in all, this is enjoyable, and seems to scale very well with 2-4 players, with the variable ending adding just enough uncertaintly to the endgame to keep it from becoming a drawn out calculated affair. Review Date:11/2/2005
Palmyra
Reiner Knizia
Doris & Frank
1998
Y 2-4 90 7 Essentially, a stock market manipulation game when it comes right down to it. Buying and selling of 3 different colored amphora's has a predictable effect on thier price (buy = higher, sell = lower), however the trick to the game is that on your turn you also play cards which can influence the price. Of course the other players can do this as well, and so one of the key points is to divine what the other players are going to do and take advantage of that. The range of cards is good, the game is intuitive in it's moving prices up and down (and also supply of items to be bought). All in all an enjoyable game that should last no more than 45 minutes. Review Date:12/11/2003
Paparazzo
Friedemann Friese
Wolfgang Panning
Abacus
1994
Y 3-5 45 5 A game about selling photos the Papparazzi have taken of various 'famous' people. The cards are pretty hilarious, but it's unlcear to me if the gameplay is too cluttered. First, there is the problem of trying to value the photos, knowing that there will be a large number of unknown cards (in a 5 player game, only 28 of 64 total are used). This is somewhat mitigated by getting to see the hand of cards from the player on your right prior to play. However, the bigger problem might be the auction mechanism. Not only does it dictate a minimum bid based on the number of photo's in play, but it also dictates the minimum raise which makes bidding somewhat strained as cash is pretty tight, and it's not possible to jump up the bids on more valuable photos. Combined with the once around the table to set the price, then again around the table to figure out who buys (making sure you keep track of the high bidder as they MUST take it if no one else opts to buy) seems to be a little too much work for this scale of a game. Review Date:12/9/2003
Paris Paris
Michael Schacht
Schmidt Spiele
1998
Y 2-4 40 6 So far I have only played in person the 2 player game, but that plays very well. Not only does it play well, but since you don't throw businesses in the bag, that means you can simply place the tiles in the bag and go. You can always feel around to see ~ how many rounds are left. I have played 3 & 4 player online (Brettspielwelt), and it seems that you often have to claim both spots on an intersection as a defensive move vs. trying to get businesses around the intersection. I'd like to play this in person with 3-4 to see how it goes, but it should still be a good filler game that should be OK with non-gamers. Certainly this would appeal more than Web of Power, although Web is a much better game overall. I like this one best as a 2 player game I think, because you have more control vs. more, and the fact that setup to play in person is extremely quick as you can just toss the tiles in the bag and go. Review Date:10/24/2003
Patrician
Michael Schacht
Mayfair Games
2007
Y 2-5 50 7 A very clean, minimalist Michael Schacht design that incorporates some hand management, set collection, and area control. Players play cards to place tower peices in cities, with the cards indicating how many pieces to place and also whether they have a Patrician (or more) on the card - which is part of the set collection game. For each city, there are 2 building sites and a total number of floors which can be built. Players play a card, play in a city, and pickup the (face up) card that is in the city. Play continues until all the cities are full. When a city is full, it scores points based on it's location and who has the most/highest floor in the highest and 2nd highest tower (clearly marked on the board). The only real downside to the game is that setup takes a bit of time since there are a set of 'starting' cards which need to be mixed seperately and dealt at the beginning, and the remainder shuffled in with the rest of the deck. There is also an online version available which plays with a messenger variant at the designer's webiste (very nice implementation). I would recommend this to anyone looking for a game with basic, understandable rules, and yet some strategy can even things out. Review Date:9/26/2008
People's Choice, The - A Presidential Card Game
Mike Fitzgerald
US Game Systems
2004
-- 3-6 45 3 Ostensibly, a game to try and get a president elected...it's more tedious than fun. There is some amusing test on the cards, but ultimately you spend a lot of time trying to match colors on your cards with randomly drawn colors in the middle and then hoping that you have more matches than your opponent. The only way to diversify is to get rid of similar cards and hope to draw differing cards, then hoping to have the election be based on those cards. Each players does get some 'bid increase' cards, but it's not enough to offset the tedium.blind luck in the game. Review Date:11/3/2005
Perry Rhodan: Die Kosmische Hanse
Heinrich Glumpler
Kosmos
2007
Y 2-2 30 6.5 Kosmos 2P game of space ship trading. Fair amount of luck, although the movement part (die roll) has been mitigated a bit by the fact that any 1's are rolled again and added to until you have a non-1 roll. Players purchase technology and move from planet to planet in the system picking up and trading goods. There are also passengers to deliver and some other special event cards that can be used BY you, or to counter the other player. If one player plays a card, the opponent can veto that action if they have the same card. Both cards are discarded. Interesting game, especially with the ships moving faster toward the sun than away from the sun (nice touch). The only quibble is that the scoring markers don't fit very well on the spiralling scoring track. Sometimes too much theme can be too much! Review Date:11/25/2008
Pickomino
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
2005
Y 2-7 20 6 Knizia push your luck game for 2-7 players. Players are trying to match up dice with tiles in play. There are two twists here which are most of the game. First, when rolling, you can only use an individual number once on a turn (but all the dice of that number). Secondly, regardless of the number rolled, you must at one roll have taken a worm (which replaces the 6 on a normal die) which have a value of 5 or you will not be able to take the worm. Higher worms will be worth more points (1-4) at the end of the game, and are stacked in front of you when taken. If you fail to match one of the faceup worms (on the board or on top of someone's stack), you lose your topmost worm back to the board and the highest worm left is removed from play. Since there can be quite a bit of stealing from other players, this game could certainly drag on a bit with more players. It plays well with 2 players, and probably best with not more than 4 players. Review Date:3/27/2006
Pico 2
Doris Matthaus
Frank Nestel
Doris & Frank
1997
Y 2-2 5 7 This is a neat game. Not difficult, and yet it seems to have some type of pull on your psyche which sucks you into playing it. The fact that you play two hands, swapping cards and you know each other's hand on the 2nd time through makes it feel like you're guessing, double-guessing your opponent, even looking for some slight body-language. As expected for a 5 minute card game, very easy to teach. Review Date:11/2/2005
Pillars of the Earth
Michael Rieneck
Stefan Stadler
Kosmos
2006
Y 2-4 120 7.5 Worker placement game based (VERY loosely it would seem) on the book Pillars of the Earth. Players are building a nice cathedral, and to do that, they place workers in different areas to gain different items (building materials, gold, special workers, etc). In a nice twist, the order that players place thier workers is a random draw and placement in an ordered set. Players may opt to pay to go earlier in the turn than slated. In many ways, there is really nothing new in this game, although the pieces work well together. The key element o fthe game is balancing your craftsmen at the proper point in the game to maximize your resources since you have limited slots available for them. The board itself is very nice looking, and the fact that it also supports 2-4 players is a bonus in my book. Review Date:2/6/2010
Pitch
N/A N/A
N/A
1900
Y 4-4 30 5 An odd game where you have partners and bidding consists of 'how many points can I get?'. Each player starts with 4 cards out of a deck of 52 + jokers marked hi/lowThe bidding is not quite blind, but there is a once around bid, so no partner communication is possible. Whoever bids the highest, picks a suit that the hand will be played in. All players discard all cards not in that suit, not the off suit jack and 3 and gets replacements to 6 cards. The dealer uses the remaining cards to make a 6 card hand, discarding non-usuable/non point cards. The hand is played out with any players not having the proper cards left tossing in thier cards. Points added up and scores tallied. It's OK, but certainly some people won't like it (my wife hated it because you have to do too much guessing/blind bidding). Review Date:2/4/2005
Pitchcar Mini
Jean du Poel
Ferto
2004
-- 2-8 30 7 I have not played the larger one, but this one was quite fun with 2 players, and the fact that it will fit on a normal sized table has to be a bonus. I haven't payed all that many flicking games, but a race game seems a natural for this sort of thing. After playing on someone else's set, I'm not sure that the better way to go wouldn't be to just get 2 sets and not the expansion set. The very tight turns/chicanes of the expansion do not look that fun, and you could probably rig up a jump yourself. It's also possible if you have a jigsaw (and skill) that you could create your own sections from MDF. It is highly portable, which is a definite bonus. Review Date:12/30/2004
Plunder
Karl Lepp
Julianne Lepp
Laughing Pan Productions
2004
Y 2-4 45 4 This game is a pretty decent production (the box in particular is very nice), but it is much too lng and capricious for serious play. Not only does the mechanic that you MUST play a nasty card on the player to your left merely extend the entire game, it also limits chances to get a leader since you will end up hurting non-leaders on each turn (unless the leader is to your left). The rules are also a bit fiddly, and add a lot of length to the game that just doesn't need to be there. It may be that someone can concoct a variant that works better, but as it is, probably best for most players to steer clear. Review Date:11/2/2005
Poker
Public Domain
N/A
1800
Y 2-7 90 5 Not much need for a review. There are huindreds of poker variants, but they lose most of thier luster without being able to bet/vary bets...ie: they're really only good when you're actually wagering, but not really any fun when you're not wagering. Review Date:5/19/2004
Pompeji
Frank Brandt
Adlung-Spiele
2001
Y 2-4 45 6 Tile laying game in a card format. One of the better Adlung games. Basically you lay cards orthogonally trying to score points in 8 directions based on getting either the same monuments, colors or completing an orthogonal row of 7. Additionally, players have a 1 time wild card to use, and also a 1 time play twice card which introduces some nice tactical options. Harder than it looks to score well, and the point counting can take some time, but an enjoyable game. The colors are somewhat subdued, but workable. Review Date:11/25/2008
Power Grid
Friedemann Friese
Rio Grande Games
2004
Y 2-6 120 7.5 This is the 'shortened' version of Funkenschlag. The main difference (I gather since I haven't played the original) is that instead of drawing the routes, the routes are pre-assigned. So you merely buy connections for a price instead of the building mechanic. The game components are very nice, and the rules (other than the section on how to change the phases) are clean and well written. Basically it's a connection game where you are also needing to generate power to cities. Power plants are auctioned off, and then you need to acquire the right raw materials to power the plants to fuel income...etc. It's a nice matchup to the theme, the market pricing structure for the materials works well, and the turn sequencing also works well with built-in additional expense for leading players. It's a fine effort, and well worth playing although there has been grumbling that the Germany map is not balanced very well. Also available online at BSW. Review Date:7/14/2004
Powerboats
Corne van Moorsel
Cwali
2008
Y 2-6 60 7 Race game using 3 sided dice (warning: I have played this online 2P only) where players have a boat and race around buoys. The biggest trick to the game is that it easily imparts momentum in the method of movement. Players start by rolling a die, which moves them. On the next turn, they have the option of adding or removing 1 die, and also the option of re-rolling any dice saved from previous turns. This gives a fair amount of control, but also luck as well. Players then race around 3 buoys and on to a finish line. There are rules for crashes which can eventually cause your boat to be out of the race, but with a rule that you must NOT crash if possible, having this happen seems to be rare. A fun game, and definitely a nice implementation on Mastermoves.net although it is 2P only. Review Date:2/7/2009
Princes of Florence
Richard Ulrich
Wolfgang Kramer
Rio Grande Games
2000
Y 3-5 90 7 Multiplayer Solitaire (well, that's what lots of other people call it). Anyway, in this game you must bid for a single item/person at the beginning of the turn and do it until all players have their item/person. Then you build of your part of the city buying buildings, placing them and attracting artists. You score points by having the artists publish works of art, which is the ultimate goal (apparently) in Florence. A pretty good game that I'd like another crack at (my only play was online), so if a chance comes up to play it, I will. Apparently this one lost a lot of steam as Puerto Rico was released ~ the same time, and has far surpassed it in sales and # plays. Review Date:11/6/2003
Princes of the Renaissance
Martin Wallace
Warfrog
2003
-- 3-6 180 6.5 Martin Wallace game, allegedly about the condottiere princes in Italy. Ultimately, this is a combination auction/negotiation game. Familiarity with the tiles available will speed up the game significantly as long as you have players who do not over-analyze. Negotiation is also optional - which I prefer, as ultimately if there is a leader, the other players will bring them down (if possible) out of self-interest, and if the game is in doubt then it will be a free for all anyway. The mechanics work fine, and the beginning/ending seem to hold interest well throughout the game. A good effort, and certainly worth trying but probably not to all players' tastes. I'm not sure who to recommend it to, as the Empires of the Ancient World player will be seeking more concrete conflict, and the Age of Steam player is likely looking for more of a system than bidding on tiles. Fortunately, it plays OK with 3, which also limits negotiation and keeps the game moving. Not my favorite Wallace game, but not bad. Review Date:11/23/2004
Pueblo
Wolfgang Kramer
Michael Kiesling
Ravensburger
2002
-- 2-4 60 5 Fairly straightforward building game using interesting plastic 3 dimensional pieces to build a tower. Basically a token moves around the perimeter of the board and you're trying to make sure that your colored pieces are hidden from the token. Unfortunately, there is a lot of puzzle here, and people who have problems dealing with pieces spatially will have problems. Also, there can be some analysis paralysis if you get into a game and someone just HAS to try every piece rotated this way, that way, maybe the other way. It will have it's fans, but for most people it will not be all that great an experience. Review Date:6/21/2007
Puerto Rico
Andreas Seyfarth
Rio Grande Games
2002
Y 2-5 75 10 This is (currently) the best game going. Everyone I've introduced it to really likes it, and the dynamics change with the # of players (something I personally like very much), so there's really no single strategy that works. Good quality pieces and excellent value. Highly recommended. although it takes a bit to 'get it'. Unlike a lot of people, I think it plays fine with 2 players, even though the beginning turns (2-3) are somewhat programmed. However, the limitation of the purple buildings to 1 each, and elimination of one boat to ship goods creates the 'not enough items' tension that is also so prevalent in 4 and 5 player games.UPDATING Rating to 10 on 8/28/08. I believe I have played enough games, not only of this but others that I now believe this is truly a 10. Review Date:8/28/2008
Larry: This game is too great to have a nickname!
Puerto Rico Expansion
Andreas Seyfarth
Rio Grande Games
2004
Y 2-5 90 7 Somewhat of a mixed bag in the buildings, but still a nice way to add legs to PR if maybe you've been burned out on it. I personally still like the stock game as it has shown to be very balanced over time whereas there has been gumbling about certain combinations in the expansion as being too powerful. Still, probably worthwhile having if you're a diehard PR player. Review Date:8/17/2005
Ra
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
1999
Y 3-5 60 8 This is an auction game where you are trying to collect different types of tiles. You bid with cool wooden Suns, and you only get a few bids per round. You play 3 Epochs, trying to collect different types of tiles to score points. Most people will get this game about 1/3 through game 1. Should be a favorite for a diverse group, and the mechanic of once around bids + your bid retrieves a bid token for use next round adds an entire new level of strategy, while keeping the game going quickly. Review Date:10/24/2003
Ra: The Dice Game
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
2009
Y 2-4 45 6  
Rail Baron
R.S. Erickson
Thomas F. Erickson
Avalon Hill
1974
-- 3-6 240 5.5 One of the longtime 'classic' Avalon Hill titles. There is much debate about this one...but to me it's a better alternative to Monopoly. My only real quarrels with the game are that it's too long (main complaint) and that the payoff chart is difficult to read. Other than that, it's a fine game that's easy for people to learn/play. However, given the prices for this game on EBAY, I may end up selling my copy as I feel Auf Achse is a better alternative that safely finishes in ~ 2 hours with 6 players. Review Date:3/10/2004
Rat Hot
Michael Schacht
Queen
2005
Y 2-2 45 7 Michael Schacht continues to (mostly) impress me with his clean designs...and Rat Hot fits right in there. Using rectangular tiles, which you can stack/lay any way orthogonally works well, and doesn't seem to have as many difficulties in matching up as some other tile laying games do. As a result, you spend more time really thinking about where to place to setup future gains/limit your opponent. The game does have an instant loss mechanic, that some have complained about...but it seems most of the time if you work to eliminate the rats, you won't lose because of it. It would be interesting to play a variant where the rats score just like the other pieces do so there is no instant loss. Alas, the theme is non-existent, and not silly enough to be funny. I suspect many will be turned off of this game simply because of the title. I believe most players would at least like to take this game for a spin. Review Date:11/2/2005
Razzia
Stefan Dorra
Ravensburger
1992
Y 3-8 30 5 This game is a precursor to Hick Hack in Gacklewack. It has slightly more control, and plays with up to 8 (so it is useful for times when you want a large number of players), but lacks the simple elegance of Hick Hack. In this game, there are money tiles that need to be flipped and placed without looking (more work), and the player allocating the money gets 1 additional money tile to look at and place as they see fit (more control). There is also more variance in the money with tiles in denominations of 5K, 10K, 15K, 20K, 30K, 40K & 50K, so swings can be very large compared to Hick Hack....which could be good as a trailing player could have a better chance to catch up. Then the cards are played by all players. Another difference to Hick Hack (besides theme) is that when people play police, they can negotiate for the prize if there are Mafia people there, whereas in Hick Hack, the foxes don't negotiate. There's also a complicated tiebreaker scheme designed to lower the amount of die rolls, but it seemed not as clear is it could have been, and perhaps multiple die rolls is the way to go. Recommended as an alternative when you need a game that goes up to 8, but otherwise I believe Hick Hack is a better design. Review Date:6/8/2004
Razzia!
Reiner Knizia
Michael Menzel
AMIGO Spiele
2004
-- 2-5 45 7 Card only version of RA. There are only two major differences in the game.1) Always play until 7 items are drawn./7 policemen are drawn.2) No disasters.Plays fine the way it is and is much more portable. I was disappointed in the small card size, it could have been done with Bridge size cards, but otherwise it's a nice portable edition which is what I purchased it for. You don't really need the board, which is why the small card size is irritating - they don't fit in the couple of plastic card boxes I have. Review Date:12/30/2004
Reef Encounter
Richard Breese
R&D Games
2004
Y 2-4 90 8 Highly anticipated (by some) 2004 release by Richard Breese. This is a very nice production, for a limited production (1066 copies) game. The game is about a coral reef and how the corals interact with each other. There are several actions available to players to to try and grow corals, attack other corals, and eventually feed your parrotfish. The interaction of the corals between each other and thier dominance traits is probably the most interesting to me. Various tiles denote dominance, with players having the ability during the game to flip several of the tiles (reversing dominance) and/or locking some of them in place. Not only does this effect the growth/destruction of corals during the game, the endgame also uses these to set the scoring as well. The way the game fits together, and the (clear as long as you are not trying to read the rules/play immediately) is one of the strong points of the game. I find it very enjoyable, as well as a beautiful production. The only quibble on the manufacture of the game is the fact that the 'grey' corals are not super easy to distinguish from the white. Otherwise, it's a very nice production with full English and German rules as well as very nicely done player aids. Well worth it for players to try if they have the chance. I have raised my rating to an 8 as it also played well with 2 players. The lack of other intervening players certainly makes a runaway leader a possibility, but the flipside is that unintentional moves by a 3rd (or 4th) person do not give the game away. Review Date:11/29/2004
Larry: The Reef of Grief
Restaraunt
Roland Siegers
Flying Turtle
1987
-- 3-6 60 6 I must say that the topic/method of play is different and interesting. This is a game where you first try to seat people (the better tables can garner more points) by playing tiles contingous to other tiles. Then you try to serve the people in a sort of reverse of the first phase. However, the game can end suddenly by a player making the tiles go into a corner, and if someone looks to be losing by a mile, it could happen as they just want to end a game they can't win - essentially creating a Kingmaking situation. However, it's probably worth the time for most players to give this one a shot, although the production of the game itself is pretty low by current standards. Review Date:4/23/2004
Return of the Heroes
Lutz Stepponat
Pegasus Press
2003
Y 1-4 90 6 Certainly this is a more streamlined version of this type of game (dungeon crawl/quest based). In it you take a character from those provided and make your way around the map collecting items, improving attributes, completing tasks, heroic quests and eventually battling the Nameless One (big bad guy at end of game) all while competing against your fellow players. The system itself is actually fairly clean, however the muddled rulebook/glossary/quick guide all have either omissions in sections (whcih are cleared up in another book) or vague sections that cannot be easily resolved. However, in my mind there are really only two areas that can break the game and be problematical. The first of which is, when do you draw new tiles. The 2nd is, when do you put tiles back in the bag (or not later in the game). These are key, because for all players to have a chance, the tiles all need to come out at some point, and if this isn't done correctly, some of the players will get hosed. In any event, the base game handles 1-4 (including a solitaire scenario) and I would expect that if everyone was familiar with the game, the 4P one would run in the 3-4 hour range. 2-3 should be completed in about 2-3 hours, so that may actually end up being the sweet spot. The solitaire option makes it interesting enough that you won't 'win' all the time by beating the time limit, and they even offer a scoring system for beyond the limit so you can basically play until you destroy the Nameless One and then create a score based on how long it took and what you accomplished. All in all, this is a good effort, but be prepared to deal with some rules issues the first 3-5 times through. Review Date:7/14/2008
Rheinlander
Reiner Knizia
Parker Brothers
1999
Y 3-5 60 6.5 Interesting game of building kingdoms around the Rhine river. You place markers based on a numerical value of the cards you hold, and you can use any card to expand an already existing kingdom. Holding cards which are between your kingdom and another is a key tactic. Board and pieces are nice, and it's a pretty fun game. Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Pork Rind
Richelieu
Michael Schacht
Ravensburger
2003
Y 2-2 45 7 Full Ravensburger production, this game is actually a streamlined version of Michael Schacht's print and play game 'Kardinal & König - Das Kartenspiel '. Essentially, the print and play was meant to be a card game version of Web of Power. Somewhere along the line, Ravensburger decided it needed to be adapted to a 2 player game, which became Richelieu. Basically, you are collecting sets, but in a twist, all of the cards are face up on the board. You can take only from the ends of the rows, and 1 card at a time, unless there are two cards on ends of rows that are the same color (symbol), and only have a single shield. At the end of the game, the highest number of shields in each color scores, as well as some bonus symbols. If you do not get at least 1 in a color, you lose 5 points. In addition, players have 3 'locking' tokens, which can be placed on any card to hold it for you. The only way for another player to get that card is to discard one of thier own tokens. Care must be taken, for an opponent who still has tokens when you do not can really cause you problems. In one other twist, there are some bonus tokens on some of the cards which can add a shield to a specific color, or allow you to retrieve a spent token...although they are face down, and are the only random/unknown part of the game. The game moves along very well, and there is a nice PWEB version available at : http://www.mabiweb.com. Review Date:12/16/2008
Robber Knights
Rudiger Dorn
Queen
2006
Y 2-4 45 7  
Roll Through the Ages
Matt Leacock
Gryphon Games
2009
Y 2-4 30 7.5  
Roma
Stefan Feld
Queen
2005
Y 2-2 45 6 2 player battle game using dice to create actions. The game has 6 positions where players place character or building cards by paying for them, and using actions to generate gold, new cards, or use cards in front of them. Players roll 3 dice which correspond to positions in front of them which tells the player which cards MAY be activated on his turn. Also, the player has the option of using the die for either gold coins or more cards. So this interesting use of the die to generate the actions, combined with the way the cards can provide special actions gives players a lot of room for tactical maneuvering. With all games of this type, familiarity of the caracter cards will bring more enjoyment to the game as well as speed it up. It should also be noted that the game can have runaway leader problems - although in a 2P game, I'm not certain that that's as big a problem as in 3+ player games. Finally, it is well advised to make copies of the overviews of the different cards as the icons on the card are good - but do not always give you information intuitively on how hey work. This game needs to be played many times in order to truly get a feel for it. Whether it becomes very good for a player or not really depends a lot on how much time you want to spend to get familiar with the cards. Review Date:6/21/2007
Rosenkonig
Reiner Knizia
Kosmos
1997
Y 2-4 45 6.5 Interesting game where you have 3 cards (open in front of you) which move a pawn around the board in the 8 compass directions, in distances of 1-3. You move the pawn and put your marker down (they're 2 sided with the opponent on the other side). The object is to make big orthogonal groups of your markers. You also get to (4 times in the game) to flip a marker you land on. Using this strategically will not only breakup your opponent's groups, but allow you to play when you might not otherwise have been able. Plays well as a partnership game. Review Date:11/10/2003
Royal Turf
Reiner Knizia
Alea
2001
Y 2-6 60 8 Played as a 2, 3 and 4 player game so far, and it's lite and enjoyable. Game played in about 45 minutes with 2, and would probably be not much more than an hour total with 5-6 players. There is some strategy and bluff, and luck involved, but enough skill that you don't feel like anybody could win regardless of thier decisions. In fact, I'd argue that the better player, particularly in 2 player games would win a substantial percentage of the time, especially using the hidden betting + 0 bet chit variant even though it will only throw the opponent off for 1-2 sets of horse movements. Very recommended for the price point, with my only criticism being that they do not have enough money chits in the box. My wife really enjoys playing this one. Lots of fun with nice poker chips! Review Date:10/24/2003
Larry: Giddayup. He also names the Horses
Earl Grey = Tea Bag
Othello = Old Fellow
Caramello = Carmel Corn
Red Fox = Fred Sanford
Albino = Al Wino
Sahara Wind = Pass Wind
Nougat = Nude Cat (this one's mine)
Runebound
Martin Wallace
Darrell Hardy
Fantasy Flight Games
2004
Y 2-6 120 5 This is basically a 'Dungeon' type of game, with a board that has encounter areas. For the different types of encounters (they're color-coded so you know relatively how difficult they are), there is a deck of randowm encounters. Your character works to defeat encounters, gaining experience, money, magic items, etc. Eventually, you will get to battle the big bag end of game encounter and win. With multiple players, it is very difficult for a trailing player to catchup to a leader, since a successful player has more items/experience. The die rolling for movement via the terrain marking on them is also somewhat of a pain. A good attempt, but falling somewhat flat. Would probably be best as a solitaire/cooperative game if some type of scoring system could be generated other than # game turns to complete. Review Date:8/17/2005
Saga
Wolfgang Kramer
Horst-Rainer Rosner
Uberplay
Y 2-4 30 5 Card game of conquering kingdoms, which then give you points turn to turn and a special bonus at end game. The actual game mechanism is not bad, but the task of remembering/taking VP's every turn gets to be a pin after a while. Unfortunately, there is no real way around this as the points need to be taken on your turn since on your next turn you may no longer control a kingdom and thus there is no way to just net once/turn for all players. Otherwise, I think it would be an above average game, particularly with the kingdoms having two sides so more specials/random kingdom combo's are available. On top of this, being all cards and the VP tokens, it is also very portable. Review Date:2/7/2009
Saint Petersburg
Michael Tummelhofer
Rio Grande Games
2004
Y 2-4 45 7 This game has much to recommend it. It is not terribly difficult to learn (although I suspect the rules could be organized much better), the cards are visually appealing, and the board, while not neccessary, does help a great deal in the organization. In the game you use money to build up different aspects of the city. Workers provide IncomeBuildings supply VP's (upgraded ones also money)Aristocrats supply money and some VP's and are the key end of game scoring factor.Trading cards provide upgrades for the other 3. A key component of the game is the ability of the players to get items cheaply by either posessing 1 or more of the same (ie: specialization is cheaper), or waiting for cards to move down to the lower level. You purchase cards, or grab one for your hand (limit 3), or pass on a phase. When all players pass, the phase is scored (if applicable), and the next phase begins. With rotating start players for each phase, there doesn't seem to be an intrinsic advantage to going first (or last). The interesting part of the game is when you decide whether you need to buy something because it's cheap for you, or pickup something to deny an opponent. Running out of money during a phase is dangerous as it may allow your opponents to pickup a couple of cards cheap. Then there's balancing your income production vs. gaining VP's throughout the game. The final scoring is somewhat of a catchup mechanism, in that someone with lots of different Aristocrats will score more than someone with a few. Ultimately, efficiency in building and deciding how much to spend on income/victory points will likely decide the winner. Review Date:6/8/2004
Samarkand
Sid Sackson
Rio Grande Games
1998
Y 2-5 40 6.5 Found a copy of this in a game store in Victoria, BC. I have played this once (someone else's copy) using the Isfahan rules, and I thought it played pretty well. Unfortunately, my copy looks to have been opened and re-sealed. Fortunately, the only item missing was one of the scoring cards. So, unless I ever have a full game, I can simply not use that color. Game involves options of moving around a board and trying to collect and sell sets of goods. There is a move along the arrows option, or you can pay for a die roll to try to get somewhere more beneficial. I hope to get more chances to play this soon. It's certainly not a heavy game, but should be a good game for non-gamers. Rating is a 7 when using the Isfahan expansion. Review Date:2/28/2005
Samurai
Reiner Knizia
Hans im Gluck
1998
Y 2-4 45 8 Many have reservations about the scoring as there is a chance that gaining control of a piece could actually hurt your position.Open scoring is the most often used method of defeating this problem, and I concur. Each player gets to choose 5 starting tiles, and will draw replacements for the remainder of the game. Players surround 3 different types of markers (Buddha's, Rice, High Hats) attempting to get the most in 2 of the 3 for a clear victory. The board itself is very nice as well, which is always a bonus for a game, and it scales well from 2-4 players. The 2P game is nice as a filler as it plays in about 20-25 minutes, you have perfect knowledge about tiles left available, pieces left on board, etc. Setup and cleanup are very quick, and the game itself is beautiful. Review Date:10/24/2003
San Juan
Andreas Seyfarth
Rio Grande Games
2004
Y 2-4 45 7.5 And who said it couldn't be done? A card game with the flavor and feel - albeit with different strategies - of a board game. Certainly this is a fine effort, and the ability to try it out on BSW before the release was a nice move by Alea and the German gaming community. There is the same building of buildings, producing, bonus buildings, and trying to play to the strengths of the cards you have and minimize helping your opponent with your selection of roles. One of the most intriguing choices in the game is similar to Puerto Rico when deciding NOT to build could be the most important decision you can make. As in PR, it has an impact on not just you, but the other players as it could leave buildings available for them that might otherwise run out. In San Juan, it's sort of the opposite as you could hold a building card you know your opponent wants and never spend it, although that would cost you something too. I have not yet played in person, but will be interested mostly in seeing how the 'paperwork' works out. Remembering to put cards on top for goods, spending/manipulating the cards/buildings, etc. I suspect that the rating could go up, but the mechanics would have to be excessively fiddly for it to go down. This is a fine effort. Review Date:3/29/2004
San Marco
Alan Moon
Aaron Weissblum
Ravensburger
2001
Y 3-4 90 6 Tried a 2 player variant to get the hang of the mechanics. Didn't play all that well with two (although better than Union Pacific with 2). The mechanism where one person divides cards and the other chooses is an interesting mechanic, and the board is very nice looking. Need to get this one on the table soon, although I've heard it has a 'fatal flaw'. I finally found the text of the 'flaw', and I disagree with the premise the author of the theory makes. 2/1/05: Finally got a chance to play with 3. It took a bit getting used to, but I like it. The divide & choose works fine, and makes for interesting choices although I can see where it could/would cause downtime for some players. I also think I will lean toward the people who believe this should only be played 3P based on the mechanics, thus severely limiting the scope of this game. It's beautiful, and functional, but it does not seem as 'elegant a design as others. Review Date:2/4/2005
Santiago
Roman Pelek
Claudia Hely
AMIGO Spiele
2003
Y 3-5 70 8 Ah....so much here and yet I only have a single play since I have yet to get my hands on a copy. There is a neat twist on the auction element as you try to get fields of the same type together with the initial auction giving not only choice of field selection, but order of placement. And while that would be enough to make an interesting game, the person with the lowest bid will decide where the water flows. Without water, your precious plantings will amount to nothing...nada...zip...and everyone wants the water. Very enjoyable game which I will get eventually, even if I have to order a bunch of German games and get it via one of the German Retailers. Review Date:7/28/2004
Savannah Cafe
Frederic Bloch
Philippe des Pallieres
Eurogames
2001
Y 2-4 20 5 Simple race game where you try to get one of your animals to the end of the track first. There are 3 animals (Antelope, Lion, Hippo) and there are different cards with different speeds. Lions can eat Antelopes (send them back to the beginning), Hippos can scare Lions, moving them backwards 4 spaces, and Hippos move 1-2. The interesting part of this game is that the backs of the cards show what animal the card is for. When it's your turn to draw, you can draw a card, or draw from another player and give them the card on the draw pile. It's a neat mechanic. This one is on the way from Germany. Review Date:10/24/2003
Scarab Lords
Reiner Knizia
Fantasy Flight Games
2002
Y 2-2 20 5 Two player Knizia game where players play cards to try and dominate areas (there are 6 - in two sets of 3 areas). Each player has thier own deck and tries to eke out advantages and ultimately get 2 of 3 in one of the two areas dominated. Since players get a bonus when they dominate an area, too often a player will dominate one area, and prevent the opponent from dominating...and then this advantage builds up and boom, game over. Not exactly my cup of tea as it is more of a cascading effect, and it is VERY difficult for a player to come from behind. Review Date:2/6/2010
Schicki Micki
Jacques Zeimet
Zoch Verlag
2003
-- 2-7 20 4 This is a pattern recognition/dexterity game with very cute art. A player flips cards one at a time and once a 'match' is made, players grab for certain pawns or knock. Unfortunately, there might be just a bit too many possibilities for actions in a game that would clearly appeal to children. There is a circumstance for knocking on the table, one for grabbing a blue pawn, and another circumstance for grabbing a lone red pawn. The pawns are nice and large, but with 4 possible actions available dependant upon the card flip (or no action) is just a bit too much for this type of game. Review Date:3/27/2006
Schnappchen Jagd
Uwe Rosenberg
Queen
1998
Y 3-4 60 7  
Schotten Totten
Reiner Knizia
Schmidt Spiele
1999
-- 2-2 20 8 Essentially the same as Battleline (it is the precursor). Players lay 1 at a time cards creating a 3 card set on thier side of 9 scoring stones, with the object to either win 5 stones or 3 stones that are directly next to each other. Hands are ranked : straight flush, 3 of a kind, flush, straight, nothing. Highest hand wins, and if the same type, highest cards. Players also may claim a stone before the opponent places 3 cards on thier side if they can prove that it cannot be won - adding some extra tactical challenges in exactly WHEN you play cards since you could potentially deny your opponent play options. Review Date:11/25/2008
Schwarzmarkt
Stefan Dorra
Amigo
1996
Y 3-5 45 6  
Scotland Yard
N/A N/A
Ravensburger
1985
-- 3-6 90 6 This is probably more enjoyable as a 2 player game with 1 player running the detectives and the other evading. However, as a light game that can be played with famillies while talking, drinking, etc., it's passable as well. There are some published variations that make things easier/harder, but having unlimited tickets seems the best bet when you want to play it lightly with friends/younger kids. Review Date:3/17/2004
Scrabble
Alfred Mosher Butts
Hasbro
1948
-- 2-4 90 5 I'm not sure there's much to say here. It's not a bad game, but certainly could be prone to analysis paralysis. Also, there is a significant advantage to going first in the game (and possibly 2nd), so I am not sure what serious game players do...play 1 game/player rotating start player and total all? In any event, it's a perfectly acceptable game if you're in the mood for a word game. Review Date:12/30/2004
Seasim
Corne van Morsel
CWALI
2004
Y 2-2 60 6.5 This is a 2 player game where players control 3 sharks and need to both eat fish, and also manage the fish populations in order to not starve. You basically get more points for eating > 1 fish/shark movement, and lose a point for not eating fish. There is no luck in the game other than the starting pattern, and it is a very easy. elegant game to play. It also includes a mercy rule, that should probably be in more 2P games. This has some good brain burning, but not too much, and watching the ebb and flow of fish populations is great fun. There are also some optional rules for more variety, and I have played with several people now to good reception each time. I like the fact that the game comes in a box the right size for it and it's components, but am not entirely pleased with the puzzle board. Still, this one will be enjoyed by many - although seeing the huge pile of fish may be a put-off for some. Review Date:2/4/2005
Seidenstrabe, die
Hartmut Kommerell
Schmidt Spiele
1998
-- 2-7 60 5.5 This is a game running along a track where you're trying to collect silver (points). You have a hand of 3 cards, of which you can play in front of you (limit of 3 on the table in front of you) or play a card from the table onto another player who's currently one of two players available to be played against. It's essentially a race game, as there are 4 cities to get to, with silver being handed out at each of those based on proximity to the city. The only difference is that each player also has a bazaar card (1/game) that can give payouts anytime to the top 3 players, and also propel (forward for early bazaars or backwards for the later ones) the player who plays the bazaar. It's OK, nothing spectacular. Review Date:11/26/2003
Serenessima
Duccio Vitale
Dominique Erhard
Descartes Editeur
1996
-- 2-4 150 5.5 Game set in the Mediterranean sea about building empires via trading, diplomacy, and combat. A very nice feature is the way the boats work. For each sailor on the boat, it can move one area per turn, up to the limit of 5. Any space not taken up by sailors can be used for cargo. So, a ship with 3 sailors could carry 2 goods and move 3 areas/turn - nice and elegant. Game which plays in two parts. The beginning (assuming no one leaves themselves overly vulnerable) is a mad dash to grab ports, transport goods (gaining funds) and purchasing soldier/sailors. The second part of the game comes when people have amassed enough money to seriously contemplate attacking to gain ports (which lead to victory points at end-game). Fortunately (or unfortunately) by the time everyone feels ready to really attack, you basically have a bunch of boats in play with sailors/soldiers and the transport of goods will almost come to a standstill. When that occurs, the person who makes a slight mistake will basically get taken out for the rest of the game as there are two things that are likely to happen.1) One player camps 2 or 3 raiding ships in the middle of the Mediterranean where he can attack anywhere. Bidding high to go last will allow this to occur. Once this happens, the rest of the players must build to match or face a terror on the seas and get no income when their ships are decimated. 2) All the players spend themselves to the point where they basically have no cash. If there are no easy targets of opportunity, the players will either end up staring each other down (getting thier 300gp per turn income through the end of the game), or sending 1 or 2 heavily guarded ships out with 1 cargo each, and get some, but not much income. This game just seems too long for what you get to do. The boats are annoying in that there's about a 10% chance that you'll knock a boat over, spilling it's contents and then have to re-fill it, which makes the game even longer. You get the feeling you could finish in 1.5 hours, and yet there's no way unless a player gets completely knocked out for this to happen. The fact that turns get longer as you go on, contributes to this as the speedy first 3-4 turns are replaced by the less speedy, and downright slow later turns. There are some variant scoring mechanisms available, but to be honest, since I have yet to get to a real end of game, I don't see any reason to muck with that. I'll have to give this one more go when I have a full 3 hours to make sure we reach the end of the game. We were right at 100 minutes with 4 turns (1/3 game) to go in a 3 player game where we were consciously trying to keep good speed of play. Review Date:11/7/2003
Larry: Tip a Canoe
Float your Boat
Settlers of Catan, The
Klaus Teuber
Mayfair Games
1995
Y 3-4 90 5 Mildly interesting game where you build roads, trade for goods, build buildings, etc. Supposedly popular with non-gamers, I've played twice so far. OK, but not great IMO. Rulebook could be the worst I've ever seen, and that's saying something if you remember some of the old Avalon Hill/SPI games. Review Date:10/24/2003
Settlers of the Stone Age
Klaus Teuber
Mayfair Games
2002
Y 3-4 90 6 Settlers with a bit more skill. There are multiple tracks that you are trying to advance upon, and there are tiles which change from their original spaces to desert over time. This has more of a buildup/empire building feel to it than Settlers, with less of an emphasis (to me anyway) on trading generally. I like it better than Settlers, though I doubt it will ever see near the amount of play. The additional rules/changes to the rules are not too difficult, and should be grasped easily. I need to try out Rick Heli's 2 player variant sometime to see how that works out. Review Date:11/6/2003
Shadow of the Emperor
Ralf Burkert
Rio Grande Games
2004
-- 2-4 90 6.5  
Shadows Over Camelot
Serge Laget
Bruno Cathala
Days of Wonder
2005
-- 3-7 90 5.5 Cooperative game based (loosely) on the story of King Arthur. Beautiful production of the game from Days of Wonder, but ultimately, the question is - is there enough game in there? Or does it degenerate into the group kinda deciding what is best and then dispatching people to roll dice? Also, while the traitor is in there to provide some spice, there are just not many things the traitor can do that are in his benefit that are not immediately seen as a traitor act. So, it is very difficult to actually accomplish anything as the traitor, and it seems that there is really no spice in the game. Review Date:8/1/2008
Shear Panic
Gordon Lamont
Fraser Lamont
Fragor Games
2005
Y 3-4 45 8 Small Essen release since re-printed as a full release. The game has players trying to create connections of similar sheep or getting close to the black sheep are far from the shearer at the end of the game. Two interesting twists in the game. First, players have a limited choice of types of movements they can mae to the flock, being used once per game (although some choices appear more than once). These are marked off on a player board via markers. Second, the action taken, also indicates how far along the path a timer runs. Thus players can speed up towards the end of the game or slow down based on what they select. This is especially important as scoring occurs on your turn - but the TYPE of scoring is based on where on the time track you are. So if a player has set himself up well for one type of scoring, he will almost always be at a disadvantage in the next scoring. Also, players will never use all of thier choices in a game, and so you cannot predict with 100% certaintly what players will do towards the end of the game, even though thier choices are limited. Finally, there is a randomizing die that can disrupt the flock, and there are spaces on the time track that cause this to happen. So by choosing to move the time marker to land on one of these spots, players can disrupt the planning of others - although it's far from certain exactly how much disruption they can cause. The game plays smoothly in that 30-45 minute range, with the only real downside being that it's a 3-4 player only game - although I hear that the new re-published version has 2P rules which I will seek out. AND the game pieces are very cute poly resin pieces suitable for display! Review Date:6/21/2007
Sherlock Holmes Card Game
Roger Heyworth
Gibsons Games
1991
Y 3-8 90 5 Got to play this in a 5 player game. It's pretty straightforward in that you're trying to go out, or trying to catch the criminal (of which there are 4 possible, with one in play at the beginning of the game). Points are scored when someone goes out or the criminal is caught. You want to have lower value cards in your hand at the end. In a nice twist, the cards that you play help tell a little story about the chase, and show what cards can be played next. You might take a hansom cab to Scotland Yard, then a train to the Country, find a clue, etc. Need more plays to see how much tactics can be employed. Definitely a lighter game, and we played 3 hands in about 45 minutes. It is possible though, that hands can drag on as people keep piling up cards on the persons with 1 or 2 cards, or those players don't draw the cards they need, etc. At some point, it's just too long for a particular hand, and there's not much to do about that. One suggestion is to get rid of the Telegram card as it's too capricious. This is more of a socializing game, and should be played with beer, wine, cocktails and lots of conversation. Review Date:10/24/2003
Shit!
Reinhard Staupe
Adlung-Spiele
1996
Y 2-6 20 5.5 Quick game that's easy to explain, although it does take a game or two for people to figure out the scoring. The best part about this game is that you frequently yell out the title, and that games can easily be played in < 15 minutes. More like 6 minutes with 2 players. Review Date:2/4/2004
Sieben Siegel, die
Stefan Dorra
AMIGO Spiele
2003
Y 3-5 30 6.5 Trick taking game reminiscent of Oh Hell. The differences are really 3. 1) Trump is always Red2) You must predict the # of tricks in 5 different colors (suits) as opposed to total # tricks.3) There are special rules for a player bidding 0.Other than that, there are markers used for the bidding, with some special rules whereby if someone wants to bid green, and there are no green markers left, he may take a green from someone else and give them a marker good for any trick. Scoring is: 2 points for each undertrick (marker you have left), 3 points for an overtrick of any color, 4 points if you get stuck with a wild trick counter. The 0 bid person gets 4 points, -1 for each overtrick the rest of the players gets. Fun, but maybe a bit much for the casual gamer. Review Date:11/28/2005
Siena
Mario Papini
Z-Man Games
2005
-- 2-5 120 4 This is a game where you basically move around a board, and depending on how far along you are on the VP track you get to do some things differently. Ultimately, you are trying to help build buildings for the game. The board, while beautiful, has the artwork somewhat get in the way of the design. The game also does not have the greatest rulebook. However, those two things aside, the game itself is just not very good. There are very clear Kingmaker problems, as well as some of the fate cards clearly being better than others. Finally, the game as written is just too long. There are really no neat new mechanics (which is ok to me), but nothing in the game says 'play me'. Review Date:12/15/2008
Silverton
Dori Smith
Phillip John Smith
Mayfair Games
1991
-- 1-6 300 7.5 Older Mayfair game about building railways and mining. The game itself is very clever. The phases are very easy to learn, and progress logically from one to the next. The idea is that you can have prospectors looking for mines, and surveyors looking for places for you to build tracks. Once you have your track up, and a mine, you 'work' the mine, and hopefully get resources. Then you need to manage your (small) fleet of trains to get the resources to market. With (simple) rules for winter, mine production (and mines running dry), choices in where to claim, passenger routes, and a nifty price market that changes with modifiers based on turn of game, how many goods of a type sold (sometimes in a particular city)...this game has much to offer. The first edition is a bit rough, and one item that is changed in the 2nd edition that would probably speed the game up dramatically is that the claims and passenger routes have a small picture showing thier map location. If this game could complete in under 3 hours, my rating would go up...but I'll need to try a 2nd edition copy, and use the Excel spreadsheet that auto-calcs the market price changes with just a few inputs. Also, it seems likely that this game may be best with 2-3 players, but since I've only played with 3, I don't know that for sure. Review Date:6/8/2004
Silverton - 2nd Edition
Dori Smith
Phillip John Smith
Mayfair Games
2002
Y 1-6 300 7.5 Visually a little more appealing than the first edition, with one of the new puzzle boards. The cubes are nice, and look great, but would probably overcrowd the board games with > 3 players. The payouts are differently scaled....not sure why the change or purpose of doing that was. Review Date:6/23/2004
Sindbad
E. Duchatel
Jean Vanaise
Flying Turtle
1990
-- 2-5 60 5 Game about exploring the ancient Mediterranean on Sindbad's adventures. This is a roll and move game where you collect cards to save for fighting monsters, trade goods, etc. While not bad for the genre (roll & move), there is just a bit too much luck in the cards for rewards, and the game as a whole just feels hollow....as if by losing you didn't make bad plays, just were unlucky. All in all, not something I was enthused about, but if you happen to know someone with a copy and you don't mind roll and move games, give it a roll.... Review Date:11/2/2005
Sleuth
Sid Sackson
Face 2 Face Games
1967
Y 3-7 30 6.5  
Snow Tails
Fraser Lamont
Gordon Lamont
Fragor Games
2008
Y 2-5 45 8 Snow Tails is a dog sled race game from Fragor with what seems to be all the ingredients you want in a race game. Play time is relatively fast, the game is easy to play and intuitive, leaders can be caught, but the catchup mechanism is not so much a penalty on the leader, but a way that with clever play you can make big gains. Basically, you play 1-3 cards from your 5 card hand - the trick being that they must be the same number to play multiple cards. There are 3 places for the cards to go, right dog, left dog, or the brake. If one dog has a higher number than the other dog the sled will 'slide' that way. Speed can be regulated by the break (add the two dog values together and subtract the brake). Since turns must be negotiated by having one dog pull harder than the other (no going straight through turns) this creates some interesting hand management situations, especially as wrecking causes your hand size to go down. The game comes with many track sections, suggested tracks in the back of the rules and trees which can be added anywhere the players like to spice things up. Not so hard that beginners will get killed, but enough challenge to keep players engaged for several plays. Very enjoyable. Review Date:12/15/2008
Socks in the City
Gunter Cornett
Bambus Spieleverlag
2005
Y 2-2 30 5.5 2 player connection game from Bambus. Game production is reasonable qualty with what I consider a nicety in that the hexes for the map are 2 hexes with one side sealed - ie: 2 hexes per piece. Not only does this speed setup, but it also keeps the map from moving around if players nudge it a bit. In any event, you are trying to connect the two socks of any given color that are scattered across the map. There are ways to block the opponent, but they are not as easy as it seems, and definitely a player who has played before will have some tricks that a new player probably won't see anytime soon. It is difficult to cut a player off completely from a goal, and best to try and delay for a turn or two while you achieve more sock connections. Players must beware the point scoring though as socks farther apart score more points, and so you may not win by getting more socks. Interesting, but not really a top-notch effort. Review Date:6/21/2007
Station Manager
Michael Schacht
Spiele aus Timbuktu
2002
-- 2-4 30 4  
Steel Driver
Martin Wallace
Treefrog
2008
Y 3-6 60 7  
Stephenson's Rocket
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
1999
-- 2-4 60 6  
Sticheln
Klaus Palesch
AMIGO Spiele
1993
Y 3-6 60 7 Played a few times now, and like most of these 'odd' trick-taking games, it takes a while to get your head around it. Although the rules are simple, we are so programmed into normal trick-taking rules, that this one seems like a very odd game and you're always double-checking yourself. The idea is that you pick a suit that you don't want to get any cards in, but take all other cards. Now the trick here is that everyone knows the suit the other players are tryng to not take, and ANY card not in the suit led is trump, AND you do not have to follow suit. For someone who plays Bridge fairly often, this is really a tough thing to do naturally, and others may face a similar difficulty. The scoring works well, and it's a relatively straightforward game that doesn't take too long to get into, and 5 hands seems like a reasonable length. Review Date:5/19/2004
Stimmt So!
Dirk Henn
Queen
1992
Y 3-6 45 6.5 The precursor to Alhambra, this is a much better game (time-wise) with more than 3 players as it can be played in around 1 hour even with 6 players. Essentially, this is the Alhambra game without any of the building. The only thing that mars this are two changes that went into Alhambra regarding money (starting money is X cards vs. min amount, and drawing a single money card as opposed to the option of taking cards that add up to 5). Those two changes could be made easily in Stimmt So! and I would recommend doing so. The other problem with the game is that the actual stocks color wise are very close, and so it is not always easy to tell at a glance which is which, this mars the game enough to not allow me to raise the rating above Alhambra. All and all, it is fun to play, but the best solution (other than the nostalgia of playing the precursor) could be to play the newer Alhambra using Stimmt So! rules (no building). Review Date:12/15/2008
Stone Age
Bernd Brunnhofer
Rio Grande Games
2008
Y 2-4 60 8.5 A game where you are moving your tribe up in the world by either collecting cards/sets or manufacturing buildings. Another in the place your workers and receive items, this one has the twist that you roll dice when trying to produce your raw materials. Lest you think this is too much luck (and it IS a fair amount), there is a way of mitigating the luck - purchasing tools, which allow you to add to the die rolls. And with up to 3 tools, that start at +1 each but could go to +4, you can ultimately create a lot of extra production here and there. In any event, you need to balance food for your tribe, along with the desire to increase the size of your tribe, and use your produced goods to build buildings or purchase cards which do a variety of things, including set collection, bonus multipliers for certain items, etc. While the 2P/3P versions have some odd methods for creating tension - they DO work. But players who start on the 4P version may need to rethink some moves as the implications of the changes come into play. The game appears to allow multiple paths to victory, and the game end conditions also ad some wrinkles as the player actions are ultimately what determines the game end, adding some control as well. In a nice change, the game plays significantly different with different numbers of players, creating even more flavor. Recommended for anyone who likes some luck in thier games. Review Date:8/28/2008
Strand-Cup
Mark Seinholz
Krimsus Krimskrams-Kiste
2000
Y 4-8 45 6 Interesting game based on beach volleyball. While it can be more flavorful if players try to make it more volleyball like, the only thing really detracting from the game is that it plays better when played quickly vs. slowly. It also COULD be just a tad long for what it is as the points take a while to accumulate. Still, it's interesting, has some nice strategic and tactical options depending on your cards in hand and is very different from most other games. A nice one to try out if 1 person knows the game. It is kind of difficult to visualize it by the rules only. Review Date:8/31/2009
StreetSoccer
Corne van Moorsel
Cwali
2002
Y 2-2 30 6 While not high on strategy, this can be a fun game if the players are willing to treat it as a light excercise. Basically you roll a die, and this is the number of spaces you can move your player to try to kick the ball. When kicking, you get a 'free' space and then the ball continues (with one direction change allowed) until the total die roll is used. You also get a free space each time the ball gets to a teammate, with the commensurate re-direction for free, plus one more change of direction while the ball is travelling. Most of the strategy lies in trying to setup kicks where you maximize your free spaces, or positioning the ball so that your opponent has few chances to get free spaces as well. Ultimately, if one player rolls higher than the other in any significant amount (particularly more 5's and 6's), thier chance of winning probably improves by 30% or so. Better players will still win more, but it's really a game of odds, and putting the ball where your odds of getting better results are better than the opponent. It's fun on BSW because it's short, and many people know how to play. Not so sure how it would be in person though. Review Date:9/29/2004
Struggle of Empires
Martin Wallace
Warfrog
2004
Y 2-7 180 8 This is an abstracted game of the global expansion (colonization) period of the great European powers. Martin Wallace has done a good job on keeping the ruleset (mostly) simple and elegant. While this game does have a lot of tiles for players to purchase, they are NOT auctioned, and so it is a major departure from Princes of the Renaissance. Also, there IS a map where geography matters, also bringing Martin back to his more history based games (like Empires of the Ancient World). The mst unique thing in this incarnation is the bidding for player turn/alliance. While the game does work with 2 or 3 players (2 being simply bidding for first turn), the alliance bidding really shines with 4+ players. While some may complain that there's not enough turns to balance out luck, I side with those who believe there are enough luck mitigators that most people will be able to plan/execute without bad luck ruining them....which is the essence of warfare really. Make sure bad luck won't doom your plan, because it happens, and your plans need to take that into account. Playing time is a modest 2-3 hours with 5 people, and can clock in under 2 hour 3 with 2 -4 players if everyone is familiar with the game. As with any game utilizing special cards/tiles, the first 2 games will probably be slow as players struggle to grasp the complete usefullness of the tiles. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but certainly most people would do well to at least look at it. Review Date:11/2/2005
Stunt Academy
Mark Seinholz
Krimsus Krimskrams-Kiste
2004
-- 3-4 45 6.5 Stunt Academy is a new effort from Krimsus, a small publisher that does mostly card games. Ostensibly, you are trying to learn various stunt skills to be able to work in Hollywood. Basically you try to collect sets and play them (with a minimum value necessary in each semester). Carda are gotten by spending action points and picking up cards off of a set of 4 available cards. Cards will fill in the blank spots after kicking off the one at the end of the line if it was not selected (sort of a rotating stock mechanism as the older cards get kicked out first). Scoring is all done relative to the other players, so you do not score because you melded X points...but you get points for having melded MORE than everyone else. There's also a bonus each sememster for the single highest meld. At the end of the game, each player gains bonus points for each type of stunt that they completed a meld for the game, where they exceed all other players. Again, not just how many, but the fact that you are highest. This does lend to some min-max thinking in the last semester, and there is always (as in most card games) the possibility that bad luck would doom you....but not as likely since you must save up action points to take cards. The artwork is nice, and does not get in the way of the game, but one problem is that the green cards say Stuntcar, while the appropriate professor (and scorecard) have an 'A' instead of the S. This is a fairly good effort, and my biggest complaint (besides it being in the camp of 3-4 players only), is that it's a tad too long for my tastes with the 4 semesters. I think 3 rounds may have been better, with slightly more cards. Review Date:2/28/2005
Sudoku Moyu
Gunter Cornett

-- 2-2 5 This is an 'anti-Sudoku' type game. Players try to place numbers such that thier opponent cannot fill in thier squares (each player has 4 of the large squares with the center square being neutral). Play is straightforward, and while it may be worth playing, I am not certain it is worth going out and purchasing it as it is a quite expensive (although nice looking) wooden version. It's possible that someone could take one of the generic wooden sets for solving normal sudoku puzzles and convert it so it could be used as this game - but not sure. Worth trying on Yucata.de, but ultimately there just may not be that much to it. Review Date:2/6/2010
Ta Yu
Niek Neuwahl
Kosmos
1999
-- 2-4 45 6 Interesting game using bakelite rectangular pieces on a square grid. Players try to get water from the center of the board to exit on two of the sides (either north&south or east&west) in the teo player game. The game also supports a partnership game where players play 2 vs. 2, but with the same goals (ie: getting water to exit on thier team's side of the board). The tiles are nice and place well. There are interesting shapes, and the fact that the tiles are not required to line up (they line up with the squares on the map) makes for interesting placement options. Fun game, and possibly more fun as a partnership game. Review Date:2/6/2010
Tahuantinsuyu
Alan D. Ernstein
Hangman Games
2004
-- 3-4 180 6.5  
Taj Mahal
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
2000
Y 3-5 90 7 Only played once in a 5 player game FTF. 3 experienced players whooped up on us. Needs to be played more. 3 players is supposedly very good. I have played against the computer in the online game several times and so now have a better grasp of the game and mechanics although I still, apparently, suck at it. This is an interesting game in that you want to win bids early and drop out so you get to place a palace. Prolonged battles are often not worth the price of the fight later on. Review Date:11/7/2003
Take it Easy
Peter Burley
Ravensburger
1994
Y 1-6 30 6 Puzzle/number game in which all players will use identical hex tiles to layout on thier own game board to create scoring lines. One person is the caller and flips tiles one at a time announcing the tiles. All other players take the same identical tile, and all players place it on thier player mat. The process is repeated until the boards are full. The idea is to create lines of the same number all the way across the board. Since they're hexes, there are different lengths the lines can be (3-5 hexes long). Scores are the number on the line times the length. So, if you have three 9's in a line, the score would be 27. Games play in a brisk 10-20 minutes, can be played with 1-6 (or more if you want to use multiple game sets) and really will appeal to the casual gamer. It's a neat concept for a game, and being non-confrontational, it should appeal to a wide range of players. The only downside is that there is a bit of math which needs to be done in order to score points. Review Date:3/27/2006
Tante Tarantel
Frank Nestel
Doris Matthaus
Doris & Frank
1991
Y 3-5 30 5.5 A mostly light game about trying to have your bugs escape the spider's web. The rules for moving the spider are not exactly straightforward, and probably could use a nice hint sheet. Also, with 5 players, it is very likely that a big clump of insects will be eaten on turn 3, causing a huge logjam at the entrance unless someone volunteers to get knowcked off the board early to prevent this. Still, it's interesting, and has a bit of nastiness to it as you can push bugs around in chain reactions, but is probably better with 4 than with 5. If you like Igel Argern, this is an interesting alternative, and has the benefit of playing much faster than a typical Igel Argern game. Review Date:5/28/2004
Telestrations
N/A N/A
USAopoly
2009
Y 4-8 45 7 Party game for 4-8 players, it basically transforms the telephone game into a drawing game. It's simple enough to expain in just a couple of minutes, and a game can be played in 15 minutes or so. Just the right amount of time, and since the game starts with a word/phrase, it is endlessly extensible by players (or more likely by new sets of cards from the MFG). Even if you are not artistic, you will be surprised at how much meaning you can convey with your drawings - even if you convey something completely different than you meant! Definitely worth playing. Review Date:8/24/2010
Terrazzo & Terrazino
Clemens Helldörfer
Werksiedlung Kandern
2004
-- 2-5 45 6.5 Abstract tile laying game. Players try to connect tiles to create shapes (different scoring options exist). In the basic game you try to close of sections of a color, and score based on the # tiles in the section. Since there are curves involved, it is not always easy to see where the connections will come. The game itself is made from plywood, and painted, so it has a nice look to it while playing. Interesting game and worth playing if you know someone who owns it. Review Date:2/6/2010
The Name of the Rose
Stefan Feld
Rio Grande Games
2008
-- 2-5 75 6 Less a mystery game, and more a placement/collection game. You basically are collecting clues (they are just chits) and then trying to make it so that people are confused about who thier monk is (which is a secret). At the end of the game, players guess identites for the players which score bonus points. All the while during the game you are gaining supsicion points or clue points (bad & good), and so if you have done a nice job during the game, there is a good chance you can win even if everyone knows your identity. Too long for what it is I think, it could be nice if the time of the game came down from the roughly 2.5 hours it took us with 5. Review Date:2/6/2010
Thief of Baghdad, The
Thorsten Gimmler
Queen
2006
Y 2-4 45 6 Ostensibly a game where you have thieves trying to sneak into palaces and steal treasure chests. Players collect cards/play cards to place thieves, move guards, move thieves and ultimately steal treasure chests. Since there are 6 palaces to steal from, and each has a stack of chests that are stolen in order needing more and more thieves to take - there are six races going on simultaneously. Not only that, but moving guards around can increase the cost to other players as well as make it impossible for players to get thieves into certain palaces. Yet this all takes place in a very streamlined game with one exception - that you can only do 3 actions involving a thief in a turn. Otherwise, you can play as many cards as you want per turn, and there is no hand limit. Supports 2-4 players, and should comfortably fit in as a 45 minute game, although if it were somehow to be a 30 minute game it would be ideal. Review Date:6/21/2007
Through the Desert
Reiner Knizia
Fantasy Flight Games
2000
Y 2-5 45 9 Also known as Durch die Wuste. This is a Reiner Knizia game where you play down camel caravans to meet various objectives (like getting to watering holes, and Oasis, etc.). You can gain bonus points by having the longest caravan of a certain color, enclosing areas with a single caravan. There is a neat online PBW version at http://www.ludagora.net with many active players. Face to face this is a 30-40 minute game, and it scales well with the number of players as the area is smaller with less. This is an extremely good game that is a snap to teach. Highly recommended. Review Date:12/4/2003
Larry: Pastel Camels
Thurn und Taxis
Andreas Seyfarth
Karen Seyfarth
Hans im Gluck
2006
Y 2-4 45 7 2006 Spiel des Jahres winner. The game is about creating connected mail runs via drafting cards and playing them in sequence. On each turn there is a special power that can be used. Once routes are completed, players get to place houses and try to collect point chits for completing areas, playing 4+ cards, etc and getting carriages at the end. In any event, there are not too many rules to the game, and enough strategy either in how you draft or watching the other players and what they are playing to determine what you can hold/use. Very nicely done, and more to the game than seems apparent. Ultimately, it will probably be played out (much like Ticket to Ride) but it is simple enough to teach easily and plays fairly quickly. Recommended. Review Date:6/21/2007
Tichu
Urs Hostettler
Abacus
1998
Y 4-4 90 7 I've been told this is a climbing game, but I mentally think of it as a rolling trick game. It is similar to poker in how the ranking of the tricks works, but the whole key to this odd game is the 4 special cards, and how they interact with the play, scoring, and ability to predict what other players will do. It's a very good partnership game, that requires a fairly substantial amount of play to really get a feel for it. Even at that, it's still very possible to do something dumb. This is an excellent example of turning a trick taking game into something beyond. Well worth the effort to get up on the learning curve. Review Date:4/22/2004
Ticket to Ride
Alan Moon
Rio Grande Games
2004
Y 2-5 120 8 Many have described this as 'Easy as Transamerica with much more strategy'. I would agree with them. Basically you get points for completing routes with more points based on the length of the route. It is not a linear scale, so while completing a 6 train route yields 15 points, a 2 train route only yields two. Routes are claimed by getting sets of train cards in the appropriate color (or any set of one color for some of the routes) via a card drafting mechanism. Bonus points are garnered for completing specific tickets, and more may be drawn through the game in lieu of other actions. While there will be some games where luck of the draw has significant impact, I suspect that this game will be won more often by the better players than not...particularly with hand management being one of the main factors in determining how you will fare. As the map also has areas that are harder to get to, as well as figuring out where people may want to go based on the colors they're collecting, and this game can be played with more or less defensive strategy as well (which will nullify many of the tickets). It is easy to learn, moves along at a good pace, and downtime is minimal since you do 1 action on a turn. Has been good so far with non-gamers, and definitely a recommended game - although some may be turned off by luck of the draw in some cases...personally, I don't think it's a huge issue. Review Date:4/23/2004
Ticket to Ride Europe
Alan Moon
Days of Wonder
2005
Y 2-5 60 7.5 This is an evolution of the Ticket to Ride system. While the addition of full size (bridge) cards is very welcome indeed, I am not sure the extra rules are as welcome. With TTR being such a fabulous gateway game, and so simple to teach to non-gamers, I'm left wondering if the changes are really useful. The better balance of the tickets is in my mind offset by the extra rules for tunnels/wild card routes. Unfortunately, without those extra rules, the map for Europe just will not work well, and so we're really trading off better balance, vs. extra rules that just may not sit well with the non-gamers who have been enticed to take a step up from Transamerica. Overall, it's not quite as fast and clean a design to play, and that is enough to drop it a bit since the differences will need to be pointed out, and detract somewhat. For the casual player TTR, is better. For more of a strategy player, I'm not sure there's enough extra in here to make it THAT much more of a strategy game. It just seems different to me - but with extra rules. Review Date:5/23/2005
Timbuktu
Dirk Henn
db-Spiele
1985
Y 3-5 60 4 Game of deduction where you try to guide your camels safely through the desert. Each round there are bandits that will be at different locations and steal specific items. You need to miss those, or miss them with the goods they are trying to steal. The movement is (basically) moving guys to the front of the sets of lines, or moving to the 1 adjacent line that the row can move to. Then you see who got stolen from and repeat. At the end, the person with the most valuable goods (they get their values based on the # stolen) is the winner. This one just didn't grab me at all, and I still can't explain why. But my feeling is that you're not actually doing anything, you're just NOT doing something. Review Date:11/7/2003
Time Pirates
Alan Moon
Aaron Weissblum
Rio Grande
2000
Y 3-6 60 6  
Times Square
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande
2006
Y 2-2 30 5.5 This might just be the simple Knizia game with a little too much going on in it at once. Basically it is a tug of war match of moving figures over to your side of the board, with some chances for an automatic victory. Cards are played and they move a figure(s) the number of spaces towards you as the general rule. However, there are some special rules that can be invoked with the proper cards for 3 of the figures, which change the game dramatically, and are also the hook of the game. While it is not too complicated, it does have just enough to it that it may confuse the casual gamer. Probably not one that will be any type of hit, but it certainly does work, and is worth looking at. Review Date:8/28/2008
Tinners' Trail
Martin Wallace
Warfrog
2008
Y 3-4 60 7.5 Game about mining for Tin and Copper during the industrail revolution. Players use an action point/auction system to place mines (auction) or improvements(action points). At the end of a trun (which can be variable since if everyone passes the last player gets one more action and the turn ends) players then sell thier mine and copper at current prices. Players then decide how to spend thier money for VP's (money early buys more VP/GBP, but you need to save for auctions/mining in the next turn. There can also be some competition since the VP's are at discrete price points with a limit of two players on any one spot - but that seems much more likely to be a problem in a 4P game and not a 3P game. Prices reset, new areas are explored and then a new turn begins. The game is 4 turns long, and easily should finish in the 60-90 minute mark with most players. The only real quibble (which I don't particularly share) is that the price change method is too capricious. Review Date:11/25/2008
Tongiaki
Thomas Rauscher
Uberplay
2004
-- 2-6 45 5.5 This review may change as I have only played the 2P variant (official). It seems there may not be enough real choices in this game without almost a full complement of players. Without a large number of colors available, and available at different junctures, the game can quickly debilitate into shuffling pieces around. It is a very nice production, but the game leaves me somewhat flat. Review Date:11/2/2005
Too Many Cooks
Reiner Knizia
AMIGO Spiele
1996
Y 2-5 45 6.5 Neat trick taking game where you're trying to obtain certain cards based on your 'soup of the day' or take none if you have selected 'no soup today'. There are 5 hands and you secretly select your soup of the day, and will do all 5 types by game's end . The only somewhat problematic item in this game is the fact that you cannot go into negative values using the 'no soup today' if you lose more than what you started with. This was probably done so that no scorepad is needed, but does make it worthwhile to go for no soup early (although if everyone does this typically 1 person gets hosed), or when you've had a bad hand and have lost points. Good, easy to explain and relatively quick. My single complaint is that the border shading on the cards is not pronounced enough, and it's possible to mistake Bean cards for Onion cards in the case of the boil over cards. Review Date:11/28/2005
Tower of Babel
Reiner Knizia
Rio Grande Games
2005
Y 3-5 90 6 Knizia game ostensibly about building the wonders of the world. Players select wonders to start building, which have a cost in tokens which are randomly distributed to start the game. Other players offer materials (up to the cost of the portion of the wonder), and then the player building decides how much to use. The interesting part of the game is that there are 3 ways to garner points. One way is to be refused in your material offer to purchase the building, which will garner you 1 point/card you offered. The second part is that each player whose materials are used enters a majority fight for the particular wonder, which will be worth points when completed. The third method of scoring is a set collection game where the build tokens normally go to the person who initiates the building of that piece of the wonder. However, players have a special card they can use wherin if thier offer is taken, they get the token in lieu of fighting for the majority points for the completed wonder. With so many possibilties, you might think the game drags along, but it actually moves along at a very nice clip, and the scoring really is intuitive. The only real downside seems to be that there may be too much luck of the draw (there is no drafting mechanism), and that the production is probably larger than it needed to be. It looks nice, but it's quite a bit larger than most boxes, making it somewhat difficult to take along. Still, it's a good game, and the playing time is a brisk 55-65 minutes. Review Date:11/3/2005
Traders of Genoa
Ruediger Dorn
Rio Grande Games
2001
-- 2-5 120 3 This is a negotiation game, with money being the method of showing victory. You (mostly) need to work out deals for the other players to move where you want them to go. Then you can get goods, fill orders, etc. and make money. More negotiation than anything else. I can see where some people would like it, and I'd probably play again if the alternatives were much worse, but it's not high on my list. Review Date:11/7/2003
Transamerica
Franz-Benno Delonge
Rio Grande Games
2001
Y 2-6 20 6.5 This is a quick game that can be taught in 5 minutes. Board and components are above average, and way above average considering the small box format. While it appears to pretty much be an all luck-driven game, there are things you can do to maximize your chances of winning, and it seems that the 'better' players do win more. An excellent beer and pretzels game that plays quickly with up to 6 players. Review Date:10/27/2003
Traumfabrik
Reiner Knizia
Hasbro
2000
Y 2-5 90 7 While it DOES play with two players (very rare for an auction game), it did seem a bit dry that way - but it does work. . Certainly better with more than two players. Has an interesting mechanic where the winning bidder has their bid split up between the other players, keeping the same amount of 'money' available throughout the game. It's also easier for people to learn valuation since you must complete a script to score points. The only thing this needs is sets of actor/movie cards for each 20 or so years of movies so that you can pick the set for the crowd playing the game. I'd suggest a set from the 60's, 80's and late 90's. I like it, but don't know if I'll go through the effort to makeup newer sets of movie/actors. 5 Players can be a bit cutthroat, and I'd lean towards teaching new players with 3 as everyone will get at least 3 movies completed under most circumstances. I lucked out and got a version with the music CD. Review Date:10/27/2003
Travel Blokus
Bernard Tavitian
Educational Insights
2005
Y 1-2 20 7 Blokus distilled down to a small travelling version for 2 players. The game distillation works well, and I could see this even working on a plane since the board is small, and the pieces stay on the board once placed. Care must be taken when takin pieces off the board, but otherwise the production of the game works well. Basically, you're placing tetris like pieces on a grid, and trying te get more AREA worth of pieces laid down than the opponent. The trick here is that you may ONLY place pieces that are connected to another piece, and only at a diagonal point. This creates a challenge in placing your pieces as they are all straight/right angles and it is surprising sometimes where you can place pieces. I have not played the 4P version, but since part of the game deals with cutting off players' options, I could see where a 4P one could have some kingmaking issues - or players could simply gang up on each other. This can be a very nasty game, and so players should be prepared for it ahead of time. I think most people would enjoy this in it's 2P incarnation though. Review Date:6/21/2007
Trias
Ralf Lehmkuhl
Rio Grande Games
2002
Y 2-5 60 6 This is an interesting game in that it has breaking up of continents, which is a somewhat unique theme/mechanism. The mechanism itself is fairly clean and easy to play. While it is certainly possible for someone to get hosed in this game and not get back into it, I don't necessarily call that a detriment to a game...particularly one that can play in 25-35 minutes with experienced players. The key is that players need to have played recently, otherwise the fairly wide range of choices can be daunting. I'd like to try this as a 2P game, although various comments indicate that it can be fairly brutal. However, since many 2P games are brutal, and as long as the game length does not go up, I don't see that as a problem. Worth taking a look at for the continent splitting aspect if nothing else. Review Date:11/23/2004
Trolley Car
Rick Heli
Web Published
1999
-- 2-6 30 6 Web published game by Rick Heli. Uses two decks of cards and a gameboard track. You play cards in sequence by playing any card within one of the prvious card, with crossovers in the track causing a corresponding jump in next card numbers. Straightforward in mechanics, but if you do not correctly anticipate when there will be jumps in different track numbers, you could spend a lot of time drawing cards trying to find a valid play. Moves along well, and is a pretty decent game. Review Date:11/23/2004
Tutankhamen
Reiner Knizia
AMIGO Spiele
1993
Y 2-6 30 7 Set collection game where players move along a random path trying to obtain majorities in different sets. First place scores the total value of the set, second place gets half value. The two most interesting things in this game are the fact that the path is random and players may move forward ANY number of spaces on thier turn but may never move back. Adding to this, sets are only scored once all of the tiles of a particular set have been picked up by the players or have been set out of the game due to all players skipping them. Since there is a point goal, it could be beneficial to jump way ahead as you may be able to end the game before other players can score points since thier sets might be incomplete at that point. In addition, there are special tiles (wildcard, take one tile) that can be used to try and obtain majorities. It's easy to explain, and while the setup does take a bit of time, it's not all that onerous. I prefer the German version with a score track vs. the newer Out of the Box version since it's less trouble to put a marker on the board vs. counting out coins. The only drawback to the game, is that in the 2P version, there is a desire to always get 1 of each set except possibly the two point sets for a cheap 1/2 score value. Very nice game that plays in 20-30 minutes. Review Date:4/4/2006
Twilight Struggle
Ananda Gupta
Jason Matthews

Y 2-2 30 7 Card driven game based on the Cold War. Players play cards out of thier hands which allow certain placements/actions. Or the cards can be used to trigger special events (if the card is for your side). Once the player finishes, if the card contained an event for your opponent, then the event triggers anyway. There are areas on the map where players fight for control through miltiary ops, or coup attempts, defcon needs to be paid attention to, and there is even a space race. I have a few quibbles with the game that most people don't think are a big deal. First is that it is very difficult to avoid opponent events when the cards in your hand are filled with them. Typically, you can look forward to a fast game ending with a loss when this happens. There is not really a mechanic to deal with that. Second, although I understand it in the context of a placement game, I DO find that it is more difficult than a simple glance at the map to see who is in control in areas since both players can have multiple control markers in an area. Third, I am not real fond of the insta-lose if you forget to play a score card and it is the last one in your hand. There HAS to be a better way to deal with that. That all said, there is a lot to like in this game, and the new edition with a new board (and I have heard several changes to cards) probably makes sense to have if you are interested in the game/topic. However, be prepared for a good % of the games to basically be over by turn 4 or 5. Review Date:2/6/2010
Typo
Corne van Moorsel
Cwali
2004
Y 2-6 30 5.5 Word game by CWali that has players placing cards one after another in rows. When placed, the player must be able to make a word out of all the letters in the order they are in. So if there is FLE a player could say flea or waffle. Letters can be added to either the right hand side or the left hand side. If a player is unable to place and say a word, they must take all the cards in the longest row as penalty points. An interesting twist on word games, but how many people will enjoy it? Review Date:6/21/2007
Ulysses
Peirgiorgio Paglia
Andrea Angiolino
Winning Moves
2001
-- 3-5 60 3 Well, I played this with 4 players....and I think it's not very good. The map is beautiful, the idea seems like it should work, but it just doesn't. The fundamental problem is that as soon as someone gets to 3 places visited, all 3 remaining players will gang up on that player. Then a 2nd player makes it, a 3rd etc. It's very difficult to get enough cards to beat 3 people's hands, and the game bogs down. The first 20 minutes were fun, the last 35 were not. I won't play this again. Review Date:11/7/2003
Union Pacific
Alan Moon
US Game Systems
2001
Y 2-6 45 6 More of a set collection game than a railroad game, although the rails tie in with the fact that the value of the set can only be increased by playing the correct railroad shape. Finally got a chance to play with 5 players, and it plays like I expected it to play. The random payouts add some angst to the decision making process, but the game as a whole moves along very well for as many players. The 'official' 2 player variant is very unsatisfying. Review Date:10/24/2003
Urland
Frank Nestel
Doris Matthaus
Doris & Frank
2001
Y 3-5 120 7 Get thee from the Ocean to land! A follow-on (in theme) to Ursuppe, this time instead of merely being Amoeba's trying to survive, you are now amphibians struggling to reach land. The Genes are now auctioned off in an interesting method where you must remove your creatures from the game map equal to your bid. Not everyone will get a mutation in the 5P game, and you have to dodge volcanoes, decide whether to move or propagate, and try to figure out where the majority scoring will take place. I liked it (even though I got waxed), and will probably need to add it to my collection. I mean, how can I have Ursuppe but not Urland? Review Date:11/7/2003
Ursuppe
Frank Nestel
Doris Matthaus
Doris & Frank
Y 3-4 30 7 Help your clan of Amoeba's advance in the Primoridal Soup! Only played once so far, but it is a good game (if a little long). Jami would like to play again, and it's too bad it can't be played with 2. I suspect that it could be played in under 2 hours if people move fairly quick. It's not a difficult game at all, but it does take some time to make sure all the cubes get moved around properly. Review Date:11/7/2003
Ursuppe - Frisch Abgeschmeckt
Frank Nestel
Doris Matthaus
Doris & Frank
Y 5-6 180 7 See Ursuppe Entry. This is simply new genes/parts for 6 players. I would not recommend playing with > 4. Review Date:11/22/2005
Vampire
Reiner Knizia
Goldsieber
2000
Y 3-5 30 5 Simple party game where people have secret roles, and attempt to discover the players. Some players are vampires, some villagers and each side wants the other hung. If only one side is left, they win. Can be interesting, but certainly better with more players. Review Date:8/31/2009
Venedig
Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
Amigo
2007
-- 1-5 45 6  
Verflixxt!
Wolfgang Kramer
Michael Kiesling
Ravensburger
2005
Y 2-6 30 5 This game features a disappearing board as players remove tiles if they are the only person on the space when they move. This causes games of chicken to see who will have to abandon a spot first. Movement is via die roll, so eventually someone will have to leave. There are some positive tiles, negative tiles, and tiles that allow you to turn a negative into a positive. The game also has neutral guard tokens which can be moved in some circumstances to give additional choices. Alas, those choices do not really engender strategy, as they really only offer more chances to play chicken/delay the endgame. Since all players must move all pieces to the end, there's no advantage to going first, except possibly in a 2P game where you might be able to scoop positive tiles early. But with more, it is almost ineveitable that someone will get to your tile, leaving the games of chicken. Since there's no real advantage to abandoning a tile early, most of the game revolves around delaying a move to try to be the last person on the tile...thus extending the game beyond a timeframe that seems reasonable. Review Date:11/3/2005
Viking Fury
Steve Kendall
Phil Kendall
Ragnar Brothers
2004
Y 3-5 120 8 This game by the Ragnar brothers includes a cloth map for a board (which I happen to like). The map itself is very functional, although the colors are reversed from what you would expect (sea is light and land dark) which confuses everyone at first. This is an action point type of game, where you must sail around in your longboat and garner VP's through a variety of actions. Trading, raiding or settling (subjugating). The system flows very well (with the exception of the sailing days), and it all seems to make some sense. Your boat has a capacity, which increases as Saga's are completed (which are also the timing mechanism for determining the end of game). Large numbers of points can be scored at endgame via settlements or Saga's, but not enough to unbalance the game. There can be some downtime in a 5P game, although not overly much thankfully. The scoring system seems to be done well, and you cannot work exclusively in one area of points and win...which is nice. There is very little direct conflict with other players, but much indirect conflict via special cardplay, or occupying ports which will prevent others from going to them. First game play will probably be right around 2 hours, but play should drop about 15-20 minutes for the next 2 subsequent playings. Our last play with 5 was a brisk 1:20, which is just right for this type of game. Worth looking into if the theme interests you, and you're looking for a bit of a trade/explore/conquer game. Review Date:11/28/2005
Vinci
Philippe Keyaerts
Descartes Editeur
1999
-- 1-6 150 4.5 This is an interesting game about building civilizations via buying advances/items from a set track with the costs being determined on where they land on the track. You then apply 'men' to the board (dependent on the advances/items) and conquest to your heart's content. Repeat the process until everyone has some civilizations on the board. Sometime after the Civilizations are on the board, you can decide to put them in decline which means they will no longer grow, start to shrink and go away and you get the opportunity to buy new advances/items and start another civilization. Unfortunately there are two problems with this approach.1) The different advances/items are of different values. While a set may be considered too expensive for you to purchase, the next player may get a better deal for some of the same items because of the mechanism for setting the price.2) The game ends when a player gets X amount of points. This causes a drawn out endgame situation where everyone else is ganging up on the leader. Because of #2, the game simply takes longer than I'm comfortable playing. I would suggest hidden scoring and setting some finite limit to the number of turns in the game. This way there is no ganging up on the known leader, people would have to guess. Secondly, if you know the game is going to end on turn X, you may spend more time maximizing your own points vs. trying to take down whomever happens to be in the lead at the nearing of the endgame. Review Date:11/7/2003
Volldampf
Martin Wallace
TM Spiele
2001
Y 2-6 90 7 If you've played Age of Steam, then many of the mechanics to Volldampf will be familiar - how income/loans effects cash flow and final score, the movement of goods over routes, bidding for turn order. In fact, I would definitely call this 'Age of Steam Light', as it easily plays in 60 minutes, and has a lot of the good stuff (albeit with fixed track routes) and not much downside. The only thing that makes this a significantly lighter game is the action cards, which can tremendously effect the game under some circumstances. Still, since you don't get them unless you have not delivered a good, it's probably OK for them as a catchup mechanism. Also, the bidding helps in this respect as well, and the goods cards which replenish the board also add some randomness so the game does not always feel the same. A good effort, and worth playing if your group likes games to stay in th 60-75 minute range. Review Date:7/30/2004
Volle Wolle
Alessandro Zucchini
Zoch
2007
Y 2-6 45 6 A combination dice rolling/betting game. Players bid on cards for turn order/strike number using little clothespins on cards. Whoever bids highest goes first (with tiebreakers based on your current topmost card or your betting card). Players roll 3 dice 8, 10, 12 sided hoping to equal or exceed thier bid. If they do it on the 1st roll, they take 3 cards (cards are faceup Num players +1), 2nd roll = 2 cards, third roll = 1 card with players keeping 1 die on each roll (locked). If you fail you gain a chip which allows you to add to the roll. The tricky part comes when you capture cards. Not only are some +/-, but others score based on sets (either full or partials), but they all also can have a number which adds/subtracts to your die roll on a subsequent turn. So you capture cards, then put them in your stack with the topmost card affecting your next turn. It remais to be seen if this might be taking a simple concept too far, although I suspect that gamers who like chance/odds will enjoy it. Review Date:10/23/2008
Vom Kap bis Kairo
Gunter Burkhardt
Adlung-Spiele
2001
-- 2-4 30 5 This is a card game where you are trying to build a railroad. You start out with some money, that you must spend wisely at certain points in the game to try and build over mountains, rivers, etc. It is odd, in that there are many situations where you're better off NOT finishing a section and getting extra cards, etc. The cards are nice, although I don't think the game came with money tokens...you'd have to scavenge from Age of Steam or poker chips or something. It's OK, but nothing spectacular. Review Date:11/7/2003
Wallenstein
Dirk Henn
Queen
2002
Y 3-5 120 9.5 REALLY like this game. I like the combat tower. It's a gimmick, but it's so much more interesting than just rolling dice and looking up a result - and it works very well indeed as a weighted randomizer. The quality of the board and cards is good, I like the 'programmed action' sequence, particularly since it's done simultaneously, and the fact that having more territory helps, but is not the lone determination of a winner. Really an economics/majority game with some combat thrown in. The interactions between the players and Peasants is also nice as it brings a 'controllable' random element into play, as well as some sense of the outside world being involved and not just the players and their empires. I just wish it included a scoring track. I'll probably have to make one up (or use the Carcassone one) when I get my copy. Review Date:12/15/2008
Larry: Wal-Mart
War of the Ring
Francesco Nepitello
Marco Maggi
Fantasy Flight Games
2004
Y 2-4 180 7 Game based on the classic JRR Tolkein books. The game has a dual feature going where the fellowship is trying to sneak into mount doom and destroy the ring while at the same time the fellowship forces are moving towards and fighting the war. The great strength of this game, and at the same time it's great weakness lies in the event cards. They are dual purpose to be used either for fighting combats or as events that cause certain things to happen. With no hand limit it is possible to have a lot of these cards and so you spend a lot of time re-looking at them to make sure what you have in order to try and create a favorable sequence of events for your side. Unfortunately, this is not the only problem...there are events that the OTHER side may have and it may be critical for you to know what the possible events are. Without that knowledge, you cannot know what things can befall you from the other side. So, if both players go in blind it's probably not so bad, but if one player has either played before, or has flipped through the cards, they will have a substantial advantage. That aside, the fact that you have to constantly monitor your cards based on the situation really drags the game and stretches it out to an uncomfortable timeframe for most people with 3-4 hours being common, and above that not too uncommon. So I'd like to strongly recommend it, but I really can't. It's possible that I ultimately do not keep my copy as this may be a case where the game is just not worth as much effort as it takes. Review Date:6/21/2007
Waterloo
Martin Wallace
Treefrog
2009
Y 2-2 180 6.5 Martin Wallace's take on Waterloo. Although at the heart, the system is not overly complicated, there are JUST enough gotcha's that you really have to play close attention to the actual mechanics or you will miss something crucial. Still, the game gives a good rendition of the battle in that each unit behaves very differently, and they are all useful in certain aspects of the game/battles. The variable turn length is nicely implemented, particularly the bit with managing your action discs. The successful player will know when to utilize a staggered combined arms approach to decimate the enemy, and create sections where he can exploit an enemy who no longer has supporting units. Correct use of Cavalry + Infanry can yield tremendous results. Poor use can decimate you, so it is important to understand how the combat mechanics intertwine based on the unit types involved and thier current status. All in all, a good effort but perhaps a tad to fiddly in how the combats work. Review Date:7/28/2009
Web of Power
Michael Schacht
Rio Grande Games
2000
Y 3-5 45 9 This is one of the few games I had to read through the rulebook once and pretty much 'got it'. Don't know why that is, but it is. Not only is this a nice board with nice pieces, but there's a really good pace to the game. It seems that I like majority influence games somewhat as I really like El Grande, and now Web of Power. This game moves along at a very good pace, and there's a nice online version (http://thomas-rosanski.de/spiele/kuk.asp?en) where you can play against the computer for practice. The timeframe suggests this is a light game, but there is a fair amount of depth to the tactics. The card replacement mechanism is nice in that you can often help to 'control' your hand by judiciously selecting cards to pick (like using two cards as a wild card so you can draw/pick 2), using two matching cards in your hand as a wild card to get two new cards in a better color, etc. The pace of play is very nice, with even 5 player games finishing in 45 minutes or so. Review Date:12/15/2008
Weinhandler, die
Claudia Hely
Roman Pelek
AMIGO Spiele
2004
Y 3-5 45 7 This is a set collecting/pyramid building game based on stocking a wine cellar. Each card represents a bottle of wine, with the colors being different varietals with each bottle intrinsically being worth sme points when played (except the empty bottles). The different sizes of bottles provide bonus pints if they can be played properly into your wine pyramid. Players bid on a center tableau using cards from thier hands. In an interesting twist, players can bid ANY number not yet bid (ie: no duplicates), or immediately pass and take cards (blind draw). The cards are distributed with the tableau going to the high bid, high bidders cards going to 2nd highest etc. The low bidder's cards go into the new tableau and then more added to it. Players must be careful to not let one player get too many good deals (ie: 3 cards for 1 card), or they risk someone playing so many carads that they will score well even without bonuses. Since there is a hand size limit where you must play cards, this helps with the rich get ricer syndrome. However, most players will keep thier hands as full as possible as this allows many bidding options. Unfortunately, to play with different numbers of players, you need to remove suits...and not always the same suits...so game setup can take some time. However, this is a game worth exploring, and I would suspect that in a 3P game, passing immediately would almost always be a bad move. Review Date:11/2/2005
Wings of War - Famous Aces
Pier Giorgio Paglia
Andrew Angiolino
Fantasy Flight Games
2004
Y 2-4 30 7.5 This game is strongly reminiscent of the Ace of Aces series of book based World War I combat games...or a miniatures game system without the miniatures. Players select plane cards, each of which have a maneuver deck that matches the plane's abilities (speed, turning, etc.). Players simultaneously select 3 maneuvers (with some limitations) and then proceed to move thier plane along the route of the arrow. When planes are in range, and within the gun arc (front 45 degrees), they fire on the enemy. The plane hit draws a damage card (1 or 2 depending on range) and applies the effects. There is a chance on any shot that the shooting plane will jam it's gun for 3 maneuvers (a symbol on the damage card). There are many special effects, which seem to (basically) have the effect of shooting planes down faster. The only thing I dislike is drawing cards for damage. I'm sure it would have been more fun to design around some type of dice damage system, which would also be cheaper to manufacture in the long run. Still, this is a very pleasant game, and complete games with 2-4 players should run in the 30-45 minutes range. There are advanced rules for tailing, bombing runs, and other scenarios, but I think keeping it simple, and lean is the way to play this one. Review Date:10/21/2004
Wyatt Earp
Mike Fitzgerald
Richard Borg
Alea
2001
Y 2-4 60 7 This is another interesting Rummy variant where the value of the outlaws changes (gets higher) when more cards are played. Anyone who gets at least 4 points played vs. an outlaw will get a piece of the pot, although the highest will get the most. However, it can be more lucrative to end the hand and get a couple of payouts as the only person apprehending (playing melds) outlaws singlehanded. Since you're playing to reach a total amount of money, and outlaws NOT apprehended on the first round keep thier current value (in addition to the $1k added after a hand), there are ways to makeup money without the game degenerating into a gang up on the leader problem. Review Date:10/29/2003
Yahtzee
N/A N/A
Milton Bradley
1956
Y 2-10 30 6 Of dice rolling games, this is one of the better ones. A touch too long if you play taking turns (easily remedied by everyone rolling at the same time), this one is still a good excercise is managing %'s in trying to maximize your score. Sure, lucky rolls will help you attain a large score. However, over time, the better players will win more games. In that respect it mirrors Backgammon, Cribbage and other games which have been played for generations. This is one of the few games on American shelves that really deserves to be in every store. Review Date:11/3/2005
Yukon Company
Dirk Henn
db-Spiele
1999
Y 4-6 90 6 This is a commodity trading game with some interesting mechanics on what can be sold, 'voting' on which port to land in, etc. It is a handmade game, and so the pieces aren't of exceptional quality. However, I liked the game and the only problem I had with the pieces was that some of the symbols should have been larger, highlighting items that were important. I'd like to give it another spin to see how it is on a second playing. Probably one of those games you pull out a couple of times a year with people who have already played it. Review Date:11/7/2003
Zircus Flohcati
Reiner Knizia
N/A
2004
Y 3-5 60 5.5 Finally played! We played this open-handed, which may have slowed the pace down some and I thought it was fine. The art on the cards is cool and the two scoring methods make you definitely take some different choices. Good for what it is, and worth keeping in the portable/small game box for short games. Works well with 3 players, which is a nice bonus. Review Date:11/7/2003
Zooloretto
Michael Schacht
Intellego Holzspiele
2007
Y 2-5 45 7.5 SDJ winner for 2007, a game from Michael Schacht which takes an idea from a previous card game (Coloretto) and turns it into a borad game. The idea is that you are running a zoo and trying to fill exhibits with animals. On a turn, you either take a truck of stuff (animals, vending machines, money) and place it in your zoo or draw a tile and place it on a truck. When drawing, you want to create trucks valuable to you and not so valuable to your opponents ideally. There are other things you can do such as re-organizing your zoo, etc., but that is the essence of the game. As most of his games are, it has very simple, minimalist rules, and yet the sum is a very pleasing, and fairly quick excercise. The only real quibble I have is that the setup with less than 5 players is somewhat of a pain as you have to remove animal types. Certainly this is a game that fits the SDJ award to a tee, neither being too difficult for new players, and yet retaining enough strategy that even the players who clamor for hard core startegy can see that the game has a lot of strategy involved, regardless of luck of the tile draw. Definitely recommended, and a worthy addition to the game library. Review Date:8/1/2008
ZooSim
Corne van Moorsel
Rio Grande Games
1999
-- 2-4 30 5.5 Hmm...interesting but probably not something I'd buy for myself unless I really knew someone that wanted to play it (update: my wife was interested so I bought it). Blind auctions move the game along fairly quickly, but it is difficult (even with the weighted scoring) to catch a leader as the leader typically has the most/close to the most tiles which = income. Also, because the shapes are rectangular, it's possible that placements you think are possible aren't and ones that you don't think are possible are, which confounds your bidding. Particularly when you have to kind of do this mental manipulation not only for your own zoo but for other players' zoos as well in order to properly value the tile. From a valuation standpoint, only the trees are straightforward, with valuation of all other tiles needing this mental visualization to really know how valuable they are. Since I haven't read the rules, not sure if it is easier to remove all of the score markers between rounds or not, but suspect it would make sure you don't double-count. I will probably try it again, and I think that some of my 'frustration' stems from having difficulty visualizing the methods that the rectangular tiles fit/don't fit. The mechanics (other than scoring) worked very well and were a plus. Review Date:11/7/2003