Welcome to the board game pages of Jani Rönkkönen!


In this site I have listed and written some rewievs on board and card games that I have ran into. Below is a list in alphabetical order. You can also get a list of my own games or the games of gaming club Louhi by clicking the links. For games that have been published with multiple names, I have usually used the primary name from Boardgamegeek in the list (usually the english version). If I own or have played different version, the name of that version is put on pracets after the name in the rewiev section. The ratings are based mostly on my own subjective opinnion. Note that I usually don't play games which allow 3 or more players with only 2 players (the 2 player games are for such situations) and my comments are thus based on plays with 3+ players. The games are rated in scale 1 to 10 as follows:

10: Almost perfect game. Because I don't expect to ever find a perfect game, the games with rate 10 are my all time favorites. I don't expect to grow tired of them anytime soon. I tend to give 10 sparingly and also quickly downgrade the grade, if something unpleasant comes up with more plays.
9 : Excellent game. I really like the game, but there is some minor inconvenience that drops it just below the best.
8 : Very good. Games with rate 8 are still strong favorites of mine and typically see regular plays, but still have some minor issues. Rate 8 is also very often a roof for me to very simple games.
7 : Good but not great. I still like the game, but something feels a bit lacking compared to the best. However, the game is not broken (or is easily fixable) and is played often enough.
6 : Nothing seriously wrong but does not stand out from the crowd. This is the basic rating for games that feel "OK, but nothing special". Also given often to games that I have played only few times and have not yet strong opinnion.
5 : Has some problems but still a playable game. The game with rate 5 typically has notable problems, but I still feel that it has enough nice features that outweight the negative side and thus make it worth playing.
4 : Has serious problems, but worth a try every now and then. Game with rate 4 is typically rather badly broken or has some other irritating properties, which typically shun me from playing it. However, the game is not totally hopeless and I may sometimes be talked to playing it.
3 : Suitable to be played with children but too simple otherwise. Most of the games which get rate 3, are games that are poor in adult standards (and would not be played), but have some potential as childrens games.
2 : A lousy game. Usually don't want to play. Rate 2 means a game, that I don't like, but it is not the worst game ever. Typically badly broken. Played very rarely, but still sometimes preferable to play this if the option is to play nothing.
1 : Quite horrible. I try to avoid ever playing again. One of the worst games I have ever played. No need to play again.

Ratings are decided mostly by how well the game mechanics work and is it fun to play, but lately I have also started to put a little more weight on the theme. I also like mental challenge and thus large luck factor often prevents the game achieving a top rank. The ratings may change somewhat when I play the games more. Especially the ones without any comments are often based only on a few games.

Luck factor is not directly the amount of dices rolled in a game. Rather it can be seen as a somekind of indicator how much ones decisions during the game weight against random occurences. Large means that there is very little one can do to win if the dice (or some other random occurences) are not favorable. Quite large is a game which has very significant luck element, but there is also some measure of control. If luck factor is average, the luck is still significant, but players choices have at least equal role in the outcome. Quite small means a game where some luck is present, but has a secondary role to the outcome and small means that random occurences have only negligible role or no role at all. Other players and their doings are mostly not counted for random occurences:)

Heaviness is a factor of the overall feeling of complexity while playing and also long gametime increases the feeling of heaviness. In light games it is possible to win even if it is first time to play, while heavier games usually need some training. Light games usually take only a short time to play, can be played several times in a row and are simple enough even for children. Quite simple and average are games that are still light enough to be played with non-gamers without bigger problems. Quite heavy means already a bit heavier game which may shy of casual gamers and has some leraning curve. Heavy means a game that requires a true gamers dedication to have enough patience to learn the complex game mechanics and to endure through the often quite a long game.

Complexity of rules means basically the amount of rules and how easy and fast is the process for a new player to adopt all the rules correctly. Complex typically means that rules are long, take long time to learn and there will probably be quite a few misunderstandings and rule checkings even after a couple of games. Quite complex is a game with several pages of rules and the process of understanding them all correctly will take game or two. As the rulebook gets thinner and the process faster come the ratings average and quite simple. Simple means that the game has only few rules that can be adopted almost instantly. Also if the rules are poorly written, tangled or inaccurate the comlexity of rules increases, while intuitive mechanics decrease the complexity.

Theme Indicates how strong theme there is in the game and do the mechanics of the game support the theme. Strong means a game where the theme is an essential part of the game experiance while in a game with weak theme the most important aspect are the mechanics and the theme feels irrelevant or "pasted". Neutral is a "normal" case where the theme does not dominate but does not feel irrelevant either. Abstract is of course a game without any real theme.

Last edited

My game collection

Louhi's collection

Links


7 Wonders
Acquire
Advanced Civilization
Afrikan Tähti
Age of Empires III
Age of Mythology
Age of renaissance
Age of Steam
Agora
Agricola
Aladdin's Dragons
Alhambra
Alias
The Amazeing labyrinth
Amun-Re
Anachronism
Anno 1503
Antike
Apples to Apples
Aqua Romana
Arkham Horror
Around the World in 80 Days
Attika
Ave Caesar
Axis and Allies
Backgammon
Balloon cup
Bang!
Battle Lore
Battlestar Galactica
Bausack
Beowulf
Beyond Balderdash
Big Brother
Bison
Blackbeard
Blokus
Blood Bowl
Blue Moon
Blue Moon City
Bohnanza
Brass
Breakscore
Buccaneer
The Bucket King
Buck Rogers
Bull in a China Shop
Byzantium
Caesar & Cleopatra
Can't stop
Capitol
Carcassonne
Carcassonne: The Castle
Carcassonne: The Discovery
Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers
Carolus Magnus
Cartagena
Cash'n Guns
Catch a Roo
Caylus
Caylus Magna Carta
Celtica
Chaos in the Old World
Checkers
Chess
Chinese Chess
Choco
Circus Imperium
Citadels
Clans
Clash of the Gladiators
Club
Clue
Coda
Coloretto
Colossal Arena
Colosseum
Commands & Colors: Ancients
Condottiere
Cosmic Encounter
Democrazy
Devil Bunny Hates the Earth
Devil Bunny needs a Ham
Diamant
Dixit
Doctor Snuggles upfinning
Dominion
Don
Dope Fiend
Dragonland
Dragon's Gold
Dungeon Lords
Edel, Stein & Reich
Elasund
Elfenland
Fettnapf
El Grande
Enchanted Forest
Endeavor
Entdecker: Exploring new Horizons
Evo
Factory Fun
Fairy Tale
Farlander
Fearsome Floors
Fiji
Five Alive
Fluxx
Formula De
Frag
Fury of Dracula
Galaxy Trucker
A Game of Thrones
Gang of Four
Gangster
Gategory 5
Gauner Trio
Gemblo
Ghost Stories
Girl Genius
Gloria Mundi
Go
Goa
Gone Fishing!
The Great Dalmuti
Groo: The Game
Guillotine
Gulo Gulo
Hacker
Hammer of the Scots
Hansa
Hansa Teutonica
Heli Hopper
Hera & Zeus
Hermagor
HeroQuest
Hey! That's my fish!
High Society
Himalaya
History of the World
Hoity Toity
Hollywood Blockbuster
Humpty Dumpty's Wall game
Die Händler
Illuminati
Imperial
Ingenious
Inka
Inquisitio
In the Year of the Dragon
Junta
Kaappikellon Kummitukset
Kahuna
Keythedral
Kill Doctor Lucky
Kingmaker
Kingsburg
King's Gate
Das Kleine Gespenskt
Knightmare Chess
Kuhhandel
Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island
La Citta
Lawless
League of Six
Le Havre
Leonardo Da vinci
Liar's dice
Light speed
Lord of the Rings
LotR. - The Confrontation
Lost Cities
Lost Valley
Louis XIV
Ludus Gladiatorius
Löwenherz
Die Macher
Machiavelli
Magic the Gathering
Maharaja
Mahjong
Manhattan
Manila
Mare Nostrum
Maskenball der Käfer
Medici
Memoir '44
Metro
Meuterer
Mini Inkognito
Mississippi Queen
Modern Art
Monopoly
Monza
Mr. Jack
Munchkin
Muumien Purnukkajahti
Mu und Mehr
Mykerinos
Mystery of the Abbey
Nacht der Magier
Niagara
Nils Holgersson
Nomads of Arabia
No Thanks!
Nuclear War
Oasis
Odin's Ravens
Oltre mare
Oregon
Origo
Osiris
O Zoo le Mio
Pandemic
Pass the Pigs
Perikles
Pictionary
Pillars of the Earth
Pirate's cove
Pitch Car
Portobello Market
Power Grid
Primordial soup
Princes of Florence
Princes of the Renaissance
Puerto Rico
Quips
Quo Vadis?
Ra
Race for the Galaxy
Rat Hot
Rechen-Kapitän
Red November
Relikt
Ricochet Robot
Risk
Robber Knights
Robo Rally
Rondo Vario
Royal Turf
Saga
Saint Petersburg
Samurai
San Juan
Save Doctor Lucky
Schildkrötenrennen
Schotten Totten
Scrabble
Serenissima
Settlers of Catan
Shadows over Camelot
Sid Meier's Civilization
Sitting Ducks
Skip-Bo
Small World
Space Alert
Space Hulk
Spank the Monkey
Starcraft
Starfarers of Catan
Star Force Terra #1: Contact!
Stephenson's Rocket
Stone Age
Stratego 4
Street Soccer
Stronghold
Struggle for Rome
Struggle of Empires
Taj Mahal
Take it Easy
Talisman
That's Life
Thief of Bagdad
Through the Ages
Through the Desert
Thurn and taxis
Tichu
Ticket to Ride
Tier auf Tier
Tieto & Taito & Temppu
Tigris & Euphrates
Top Secret
Torres
Trans America
Trivial Pursuit
Trouble
Turbo Taxi
Turn the Tide
Twilight Imperium 3rd edition
Ubongo
Union Pacific
Uno
UR
Urland
Valley of the Mammoths
Vampire
Vasco da Gama
Vegas Showdown
Verräter
Viceroys
Viisasten kokous
Villa Paletti
Vinci
Wallenstein
War of the Ring
Web of Power
Werewolf
Who's the Ass?
Wyatt Earp
Yahtzee
Yinsh
Ys
Yspahan
Yundao
Zanziar
Zertz
Zooloretto

 

7 Wonders

Rating: 8
Players: 2-7
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Edited: 17.2.2011

 

Acquire

Rating: 8
Players: 2-6
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral

 

Advanced Civilization

Rating: 6
Players: 2-8
Game time: 8-12 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi

Not a bad game, but has one major drawback: the playing time is 10+ hours. It is not fun to make a mistake at the start of game and play ten hours with no change to win. There is also little too complicated discount system for advance cards and it takes time to count what you can buy. All starting places are not equally good and some need much more skill to play than others. AC is really "heavy" game, but with good group not the worst way to spend a day. Not too often though.
 

Afrikan Tähti

Rating: 3
Players: 2-6
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

The classic diamond hunting game. The game is purely luck dependent and thus has very little replay value. Still it has its own appeal and is best to be played with children.
 

Age of Empires III: Age of Discovery

Rating: 8
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2-3 hours hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 16.2.2011

 

Age of Mythology

Rating: 4
Players: 2-4
Game time: 4+ hours hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong

 

Age of Renaissance

Rating:
Players:
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi

 

Age of Steam

Rating: 7
Players: 3-6
Game time: 2-3 hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral

 

Agora

Rating: 4
Players: 2-4
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak

 

Agricola

Rating: 9
Players: 1-5
Game time: 2-4 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 5.4.2009

 

Aladdin's dragons (Morgenland)

Rating: 8
Players: 3-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

Morgenland is a clever blind bidding game. The gameboard consists of three sections: The dragon caves where players receive treasures. The city section where one can receive magic cards, the right to use 2 artifacts, trade treasures or acquire the starting position. And the palace section, where the players may use their earned treasures to buy magic artifacts. Each player has a set of makers from 1 to 9, excluding number 3. These are placed face down in turn to appropriate places. The player with largest sum gets most of the treasures and depending on the place the second or even third place can be worth something. To enter the palace players must overcome a palace guard (random number between 1-10). The playr with the largest sum in one of the five palace rooms gets the change to buy the artifact, but the price is equal to the value of the tokens. The game ends when all artifacts have been sold and the player with most artifacts wins.

Morgenland is quite a nice blind bidding game and if you like the genre you will probably like this one. There is some luck, but the most important factor is bluffing. One may try to play safe, but usually to win risks have to be taken. It is important to smell the chance and grab it when it offers itself. Some of the artifacts are very powerfull at the start of the game (Magic carpet and Dobbelganger) and thus make sure that opponents don't get them too cheaply. On the other hand other artifacts, especially scrolls can often be acquired quite cheaply at the beginning and are invaluable in the end. The basic game without the magic cards is quite dull and thus the only right way to play the game is with the cards. The rules, especially some of the magic cards leave some things unclear. All in all Morgenland is a nicely designed and fun game, but it may cause gray hairs for some people:)
 

Alhambra

Rating: 6
Players: 2-6 (best with 3)
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.6.2007

In Alhambra the idea is to build the greatest city. In own turn one may take more money or buy a new building tile for his city (or move old tiles, if the old builds are misplaced). The catch is that there is 4 different currencies and for each currency there is always only one randomly drawn building tile available. The optimum is to buy the tiles with the exact amount of money, because this gives the player an extra turn. One can also use more money, but there is no change. There is three scoring rounds of which two are decided somewhat randomly by shufling the scoring cards into the money pile. The game ends when the building tiles are all spent. Players gain points from biggest sets of same buildigs and from the wall that surrounds the city. the longer the wall, the more points, but the wall also limits ones building options and may lead to problems later, when there is no room in the city to add otherwise good building.

There is quite much luck in Alhambra, because if one constantly happens to get the buildings with exact money, he will definitely have an advantage. Usually this does not bother too much though. the game is fast and fun to play. Not the ultimate strategic experience, but a nice rather light game which gets played reqularly. With more players the luck factor increases, because players get fewer turns and also the disadvantage of being last player gets larger and thus the game is at best when played with 3 players.
 

Alias

Rating: 2
Players:
Game time:
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine

Alias is a game of explaining words to your teammate who tries to ques as many words as possible within a given time. Why I do not like this game? I simply hate explaining words!
 

The amazeing labyrinth

Rating: 5
Players: 1-4
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 13.2.2011

 

Amun-Re

Rating: 9
Players: 3-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 12.8.2008

Amun-re is another very nice piece of art from Knizia. The place is Egypt and the game is played in 2 epochs: 3 rounds as the old kingdom and then 3 rounds as the new. The board is divided into provinces and some of them are randomly selected for bidding at each round. The bidding is done quite similarly as in Evo and works nicely. After the provinces are bought players may in turn buy commodities: farmers, pyramid building stones and power cards. The amount of farmers and cards are determined by the porvinces one owns but pyramids can be bought anywhere. It is cheap to buy small quantities of each commodity and the prices go up with larger orders. farmers generate income, power cards have various effects and pyramids generate victory points at the end of each epoch. Other ways of gaining victory points is by owning proveinces with temples and with some power cards if the condition is met. Income is also by the province bonuses and farmers. Each round players sacrifice money to Amun-re. If the sacrifice is large, the farmers will provide more income and also temples are worth more victory points. On the other hand some province incomes don't work, if the sacrifice is too large. It is also possible to rob from the god instead of safricifing. Still the players who sacrifice the most get some additional commodities as a gift. after the first epoch all provinces are emptied except for the pyramids, who will stay. Thus in the new kingdom the same provinces are pid again and now some of them will probably be far more valuable than others, because of the pyramids already build there. At the end of game also having most money left is rewarded with victory points.

Amun-re has some luck because the power cards and provinces to pid are selected randomly. Usually the luck is not significant, because one can always change unwanted power cards to money and adjust his playing accordingly to changed situation. However, if the cards which give 3 points in scoring are divided unevenly, some players may gain large amount of points a bit too easily. Thus I prefer to play with a house rule, that the cards are only worth 2 points. Otherwise, the game seems well balanced. The center of the game are the auctions and the game is quite strategic, but also reacting to other players doings is crucial. Usually the games are very tense and it is often impossible to predict the winner before end. Like usual to Knizia there are many ways to victory.
 

Anachronism

Rating: 2
Players: 2
Game time: 10 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine

Anachronism is a simple non-random collectible card game about famous warriors of history. Both players have a deck of 5 cards, 1 for the warrior and 4 for equipments and such. Warriors confront each other in a 4*4 field. The first starter back (which is all I personally own) includes 10 cards, japanese warrior Musashi and norse Beowulf with their gear. Of course there are lot of others and the boosters contain 5 cards, a warrior and his gear. The game itself is basically throwing dices. Each character has its own set of attributes, special power and different attack grid, which defines where he is able to attack and how well. In principle one can shuffle cards from different characters to make new degs. The problem is that the cards i have seen are seriously unbalanced and the best combinations are easy to find, which leaves only a few usable cards. Probably it is best just to stick with the ready decks. The game is fast, but does not offer much either. The strategical options with the 4 gear cards are rather limited and in the end its just about throwing dices and see who win.
 

Anno 1503

Rating: 4
Players: 2-4
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral

 

Antike

Rating: 6
Players: 2-6
Game time: 2-3 hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 11.10.2009

Antike is yet another Civilization building game. It uses similar, very nice, movement wheel as Imperial and the games share also some other mechanics. the main difference is that in Antike players control their own civilization while in Imperial players are shareholders in different countries and the controller of a country may change. There is no random element in the game. In principle this is good, but it also gives the game a very matematical feel. The goal is to gain point cards by achiewing different goals, like developing new technologies, expanding civilization, building temles or having a large navy. These points are awarded as soon as some of the players fulfils the condition and cannot be taken away later even if the condition is no longer fulfilled. Also there is a limited amount of the point cards, so basically the first part of the game is a race to get the easy points. Another way of gaining points is to raze opponents temples. The battles are quite expensive, since participating armies always die on both sides and thus the temple razing is quite difficult early on. It seems that the endgame often boils down to temple razing competition. Other areas than temples seem to be not that important in the later game and basically not worth figting for after the expansion points are all gone. The game includes two different maps. Like usual in this types of games, it seems that some starting positions are better than others. Antike is an okay game on civilization building genre, but feels a bit too much of point optimization and not enough empire building.
 

Apples to Apples (Kuin kaksi marjaa)

Rating: 4
Players: 4-8
Game time: About half an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract

 

Aqua Romana

Rating: 4
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 27.6.2007

Aqua Romana resemble a bit of Metro, since in both players try to extend their lines to score points. While Metro has a significant luck element because of the random tile draws, in Aqua Romana there is no luck. The system works with architects that circle the gameboard and allow the builders to extend a pipe in the current line. Using the architect also moves it forward. The scoring system is rather nice, because when a pipe is closed, the worker is moved to the first available space on the scoring track, which favors the early scored pipes a bit. In principle the system seems nice and even innovative. Where the game stumples is the total lack of luck joined with a too limited choices for player interaction. There seems to be an optimal starting strategy to play places 1 and 3 and places 2 and 4 tend to find themselves between rock and the hard place as a result (the places 1 and 3 can start with an extra tile when moving, while places 2 and 4 can not). It seems to be more efficient to concentrate on the architects with curves rather than straights. It might help to distribute the architects randomly at the beginning, but it would probably give too much advantage to some players anyway. So even though Aqua Romana has some nice mechanics, the game does not work that well as a whole.
 

Arkham Horror

Rating: 6
Players: 1-8 (unplayably slow above 5)
Game time: a few hours, lasts longer with more players
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 21.10.2007

 

Around the World in 80 Days (Maailman Ympäri 80 Päivässä)

Rating: 6
Players: 3-6
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 17.7.2007

 

Attika

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Louhi

 

Ave Caesar

Rating: 7
Players: 2-6 (best with 2 or 3)
Game time: 30 minutes/race
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 22.11.2006

Ave caesar is a racing game situated in the Roman Coliseum. The system is very simple, players in turn play a card (can be selected from 3 in hand) which is a number from 1 to 6 and move their carriage the indicated amount. The thing here is that the tracks are full of places to block other players and one must skip a turn if he cannot move. Players must also stop to say Hail to Caesar at the first two rounds to not get disqualified. This must be timed well. since it is possible to get blocked for several turns in hail track. Also when one is leading, he can not use cards of 6, so one cannot just run away and lead from beginning to end.

I have only played the New pro Ludo version and in older versions some of the rules might be different. There are surprising amount of tactics despite of the simple rules. Of course luck plays a large role in the card drawing, but still one must plan carefully to not get blocked badly. There are often shorter and longer route around and obstacle, but if one always takes the longer route, it might happen that there is not enough movement cards in the deck to reach the goal. There are 2 different tracks included. One problem with the game is that the carriages that get to move first have a definite advantage over the last ones and at least 2 races should be played in a row to compensate the advantage. For this reason the game is at best when played with 2 or 3 players, when each player gets multiple carriages and the order advantage is not as significant. All in all Ave caesar is a good racing game especially for 3 players, which is often a hard number of players for many games.
 

Axis and Allies

Rating:
Players:
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules:
Theme:
Collection: Louhi

 

Backgammon (Tavli)

Rating: 5
Players: 2
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine

 

Balloon cup

Rating: 5
Players: 2
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak

 

Bang! + Dodge City expansion

Rating: 7
Players: 4-7, (4-8 with Dodge City)
Game time: 0.5-1 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 12.11.2006

At beginning of each round the players receive random role cards. The sheriff role may also be given each player in turn, because the sheriff is revealed at the beginning. All other roles are kept secret. There are 3 outlaws, 2 deputies for the sheriff and a renegade. Outlwas win the game, if the sheriff is killed. Sheriff and the deputies win, if all outlaws and the renegade is killed. The renegade only wins if he is the last one left alive. Each player also receives a character card which gives him some special ability. Some characters are clearly better than others and thus a player is allowed to keep his character for next round if he manages to stay alive.

Bang! is at best when played non seriously to just swat cards and seems to hit the table reqularly enough. The main problem is that it is not uncommon to someone be killed from the game before he even gets a turn (or in at least in the first few rounds) and then he has to wait the whole game to get to play again, which may take an hour to finish. Often the games take a bit too long, because the sheriff is affraid of shooting anybody to dead because he is penalized if he happens to kill his deputy and because of the fast amount of beer cards. The game is also not very balanced: the renegade has very small change of winning (which is not really a problem, since I like challenge and renegade really is the most interesting character to play). Also the character cards are quite uneven, but since the card drawing is the deciding factor anyway, having a bit better or worse character is not that big issue. The play for each role is quite straightforward leaving the renegade the only role who has a real reason to bluff. Still it might be wise to not reveal ones position too early. I own the second edition of the game.
The amount of players affect the nature of the play and especially the renegade's positon: With 7 (or 5) players both sides are equally strong and the renegade has no clear siding. With this setup sheriff can play safe and not to shoot anybody to death, which often is enogh to allow the sheriffs side to win but also makes the game somewhat slow progressing, because nobody has any real target. If an outlaw starts to shoot the sheriff, he usually ends up dying first and usually nobody wants that. If the players just randomly shoot each other, the sheriff will have time to fortify his position and the weakened outlaws will have no change against him later. As a result people tend to keep their hands full of cards and wait for someone else to make the first move, usually that being the dynamite blowing some unfortunate player to pieces.
With 6 (or 4) players the outlaws have the upper hand with one less deputy. I tend to like the game more this way, because the decisions are now more straightforward and the sheriff has his hands full trying to stay alive and has no change to fortify his position. The games usually take much less time. Either the sheriiff is able to defend against the firing of outlaws or not. With this amount of players the renegade usually plays first like deputy keeping sheriff alive and tries to fortify his position at the same time to be formidable enough against the weakened sheriff in the final battle. In this version the outlaws tend to triumph more often than sheriffs side. all in all the game is best to be played for fun without too much securing ones own back (just shoot anything that moves:)). The rules are not that complicated but some things are not clear without errata. (can be found from boardgamegeek).
The Dodge City expansion adds a large amount of new characters, a set of new cards and another set of role cards containing second renegade for eight players. The best thing of the expansion is the second renegade. We like to use it also in also 5 and 7 player games to substitute a debuty. This makes the game more interesting, because renegades may change sides according to situation. It might be a nice change to allow the renegades to team up and win against the sheriff giving them an real change of victory (of course other players except the sheriff and renegades must be dead). Another good thing is the second dynamite, which is always fun. The new characters are a good addition, but some of them are not very balanced. It is okay to have some very powerfull cards (Like Jose' delgado), but Bill Noface in fact has negative special power. He should work so, that with 4 and 3 life he draws 2 cards and then one extra card for each extra found. (The penalty of drawing only 1 card with full 4 life is removed). it also seems that Sean Mallory's special power is not that great and maybe he should start with 4 life. The expansion also adds some green cards that are one use only, but can be played in table and used in later turns. The Dodge city expansion is a decent addition to Bang!, but it does not change the basic game much. If you already like the game and want a little variation or just to include eighth player, Dodge city is a worthy buy, but it won't fix most of the shortcomings of the original game.

Tips:
Changing some of the beer cards to bang!:s speeds up the game somewhat. (You can't just remove the cards, because they are all hearts and less hearts in the deck would affect the functioning of some cards, like barrel or prison) for the Tequila Joe we play so that a beer card changed to bang gives him one life back in addition to the bang! effect.
 

Battle Lore

Rating: 8
Players: 2
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 22.4.2007

 

Battlestar Galactica + Pegasus expansion

Rating: 10
Players: 3-6
Game time: 3+ hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 26.1.2010

 

Bausack (Bandu)

Rating: 7
Players: 1-10
Game time: 15-60 minutes
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 14.8.2008

 

Beowulf: the Movie Boardgame

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: 60 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Edited: 23.12.2009

 

Beyond Balderdash (Uusi Rappakalja)

Rating: 5
Players: 2-6
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine

 

Big Brother

Rating:
Players: 2-6
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules:
Theme:

 

Bison, Thunder on the Prairie

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: over an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Edited: 12.11.2006

I have played only one game this far. The game has Carcassonne type tile laying element with moving pieces (indians) and lot of optimization. The scoring mechanism seems nice, but the game felt a bit dry and complicated.
 

Blackbeard

Rating: 5
Players: 1-4
Game time: 3-5 hours
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 28.6.2007

Blackbeard is very complex, very unbalanced, very random, very long and somehow I still like it (at least a bit). It is impossible to get anybody to play it nowadays, but if someone was willing, I would definitely play this. However a bit of tweaking is needed, I can live with the randomness and the unfairness of the turn distribution, it fits the theme. But some of the pirates just are too weak to get anything done and thus the ability scores of the weakest pirates should be increased a bit to make them fun to play.
 

Blokus

Rating: 6
Players: 1-4
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 28.6.2007

Blokus is very simple game where players in turn set tetris pieces to a board trying to get as many as possible to fit. (The pieces must touch in corners, but can not be otherwise adjacent to your own pieces). The system is nice and the game okay, but nothing that I would want to play too often. I imagine that the starting player has an advantage, since he is always one turn ahead of the others. The components are of very good quality.
 

Blood Bowl + Living Rulebook + Dungeon Bowl

Rating: 10
Players: 2
Game time: 3-5 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi

 

Blue Moon

Rating: 7
Players: 2
Game time: 15 minutes/round
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral

 

Blue Moon City

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 5.11.2006

Blue moon city continues the storyline of Blue moon collectible card game. Now the players are building a city building by building. Each building has 1-4 slots which require certain amount of right colored cards (different colors represent different races). When all the slots are filled, the building is finishes and all the participated players get a reward. The player who build most also gets a bonus reward. The catch is that if there were already completed buildings next to the completed one, all participants get a bonus from these too. Basically the goal is to collect crystals, which are used to buy places in a obelisk. The game ends when a player is able to buy enough obelisk spaces and he is the winner. In all colors there are cards of values 1,2 and 3. The cards 1 and 2 are weaker when building but they provide some special abilities, which can be used instead. In addition to the crystals awarded from completed houses players get crystals by collecting dragon scales.

At first I did not like BMC much, but after a few games my opinnion has improved a bit. The game is not great, but is guite entertaining and seems to work well with 3 players, which is a hard amount for many games. It seems that the best strategy is to try to be part of as many buildings as possible, because the exra benefits for being the biggest builder are mostly rather small compared to the part that all participants will gain, when the bonuses from neighboring houses start to stack. It seems that the starting player has a small advantage, since he is always one round ahead. The timing is important, because the prices in the obelisk are going up as people buy tokens there and also often the games are very tight and one extra turn may mean the difference between victory and defeat. Of course other players may affect which houses get ready and at what order, so it is possible to nullify the advantage. Some of the card's special abilities also appear quite powerfull. Dragon movements and color changing cards are always usefull, but not crucial in most cases. However the gray cards, which allow a player to move extra spaces/teleport his own token are essential. You should always have at least one in your hand. Otherwise you are limiting your possibilities which may prove fatal, if other players start to score good places without you. Another powerfull color is the yellow, which allows the player to buy several tokens to the obelisk with single action (with cost of 1 or 2 extra crystals). Usually the one (or even two) extra crystal is a small price to pay for saving a turn. Of course one must plan the timing so, that others don't get all the cheap spots from the obelisk. A good thing is that a player is allowes to change up to two cards each turn, which makes it easier to get the required cards and lessens the luck element. All in all, Blue moon city is a nice game without any real flaws but it lacks a thing which would make it special. Still I will be happy to play it, when I have the change.
 

Bohnanza + Expansion set

Rating: 6
Players: 3-6, 3-8 with expansion, best with 5 or 6
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Copmlexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 12.1.2008

Do you dream to be a farmer, a bean farmer more precisely? This card game is easy way to try it out:) We have a deck of cards with different beans. Some beans are more common than others, but one has to plant less the rarer beans to get the same money when harvesting. Each player has two bean fields and in each field only one type of beans can be planted. One must not change the order of cards in his hand. On his turn a player plants the first bean to a field and may then plant the second, if he so chooses. The point here is, that if there already was different beans in both fields, he has to harvest one of them to make room for the new bean. After that he draws two at the table and trading phase starts. The player in turn may change cards both from the table and from his hand with other players. Ater trading all changed beans will be planted. With trading one tries to get rid of unvanted beans at wrong places in his hand and maybe get something useful in return. At the end of his turn, the palyer draws three cards. The player with most money at the end of the game wins. The game ends when the deck is played three times around. It is also possible to buy a third field.
The expansion add some more bean cards and make it possible to play with maximum of seven players while the basic game supports only maximum of five. Another addition to the game are the job cards. They are cards, that give additional points from now and then, if one has just right amount of beans in right fields.

Bohnanza is a light game that I like to play from time to time. There is quite much luck involved and one needs to have good negotiation skills to succeed. The expansion don't change the basic game much, but the addition of two extra players is nice and the job cards add some variation to the game. Bohnanza is easy to learn and a good choice for non-gamers or light filler game. After some time, however, the games start to feel a bit too similar.

Tips:
We use a house rule to reduce the cost of the third bean field by one and it seems to work better that way.
 

Brass

Rating: 9
Players: 3-4
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 24.12.2009

 

Breakscore

Rating: 3
Players: 2-4+ (Markers only for 4)
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 30.12.2006

Comments based on 4th edition of the game:

Breakscore can shortly be described as a mixture of Yahtzee and traditional roll & move boardgames. In turn players roll 6 dices and try to get as much points as possible. One scores points by throwing single ones or fives which are called stars, triples or straight. One may throw several times in a row, but after each throw he must remove some dice(s) which give points. If the throw has no points it is a zouch and all points are lost for the turn. Player may then draw a zouch card. A boomer is a special case where all 6 dices score. Player may then draw a boomer card and continue throwing the dices adding the points to the previous total. Several boomers may be thrown in a row and in principle a player may finish the game in one turn. A woppa is a boomer, where all dices are the same number and gives a bonus of 100 points. The game ends when a players marker reaches at least 960 points after which all other players get one turn to try to pass the leader. If a players marker lands on top of another, it is called a zap and the zapped player moves back 50 points.

Breakscore is an okay game for passing time but it is mostly based on luck, sometimes the dice and cards favor you and sometimes not. One may of course affect that by deciding not to take a card but since most of them are good, it is rarely a good idea. Some of the cards change the situation dramatically, especially the card "Zap the leading player" has often decided the winner in our games. Also the cards that may sent a player directly to the starting grid may be rather nasty. I think that a few more scoring combos for the dices would add to the game, for example three pairs gives nothing now. We use a house rule to not require the straight to be thrown in one roll. (For example a player has removed 1 and throws 2,3,4,5,6, would give the straight). There are only 4 scoring markers included but the game can be easily played with more players. The problem is that the gametime will increase with more players not only because of more throwing but also there will be more zapping. The cards are rather tricky, since the material is not very good guality and I fear that the might wear out. Usually I use sleeves to prevent that, but unfortunately standard sleeves won't fit to Breakscore cards. There are several variants for the game. For me the funniest version is a modified Break 500. The game is otherwise as Break 500, but the cards are not removed because the game is really dull without the cards (only the one which checks if one has passed 500 is removed). The zed's also work as in normal game. Now due to shorter playing time and more options, the game is somewhat more entertaining. In the end however, despite of the different versions Breakscore has rather limited replay value and for dice games Bluff remains my favourite.

Update for 5th edition:

The newest edition of Breakscore is currently the 5th. The game does not change much, but the material of cards is improved. Some of the cards have also changed, but nothing major that would affect the game noticeable. The biggest addition is the Break-Away variant and the new board includes a special Break-Away board. The Break-Away is shorter than normal game, uses 2 dices and no cards. Basically one just throws dices and sees how far he gets. Of course there are some special events along the track that change the situation, but they were not enough to make the Break Away interesting for me. It is too straigthhforward dice rolling and little else. Best addition in the 5th edition rules are the new play variations (altough most of them were introduced in the break 500 already). It is a nice idea that when one's marker is passed, he must retreat one square. Also most of the missing dice combos from 4th edition are now presented as variants. In the end, my favorite version remains the break 500 with cards, variant dice combos and passing retreat rule included. The rules also include instructions for Champ play and a scorecard to be used. Basically the champ play is a scoring system for Breakscore so that multiple games are played in a row and then winner is decided based on points. Lately Breakscore has been played very rarely by our group and the 5th edition did not bring anything revolutionary, which would change the situation. The game is at best when played with children, but for gamers it is just too simple and straigthforward to keep the interest up for very long.

Link to breakscore's homepage, where one can also order the game: Breakscore - Board game of challenge, chance and skill.

Tips:
Never go to a void square!
 

Buccaneer (Seeräuber)

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 11.10.2009

 

The Bucket King

Rating: 5
Players: 3-6, best with 6
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.6.2007

We have a pyramid of 15 buckets, 3 of each 5 colors. Then we have a deck of animal cards with different numbers. For some reason chickens different animals have affinity for different colors of buckets. The game is very simple. At firts each player draws 10 cards and constructs his pyramid. Then players in turn play animal cards and try to knock out others pyramids. One can protect his pyramid with larger numbered animal of same color, or by playing more than one card to rise the total. These protecting animals then attack the next players pyramid. If he is unsuffesful of protecting it a bucket of matching color is removed from his pyramid (and of course all buckets it was supporting). When one or two pyramids are completely destroyed (depending on the amount of players) the winner is the player with largest pyramid left.

Bucket king is luck driven and if one draws bad cards there is not much he can do to protect his pyramid. Usually the pyramids are constructed after seeing ones cards and the colors of buckets are visible to all players. One can then try to build his pyramid to be as easily protectable as possible. We sometimes play a variant where the pyramids are randomly constructed and the colors of the buckets are hidden even from the player itself. After an animal gets through the player starts to turn buckets in order he prefers and when a bucket of right color is encountered it is removed. It adds some exitement, when one does not know beforehand how bad the hit is, but on the other hand this variant increases the luck even more. Bucket king is very light, fast and easy game. It is definitely best when played with full 6 players as a filler game or with a non gamer group. Still the replay value is quite limited due the large luck element, but it gets played regularly enough.
 

Buck Rogers - Battle for the 25th Century

Rating: 4
Players: 2-6
Game time: Several hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 23.12.2009

 

Bull in a China Shop (Der Elefant im Porzellanladen)

Rating: 6
Players: 3-5
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 21.12.2006

 

Byzantium

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 23.12.2009

 

Caesar & Cleopatra

Rating: 6
Players: 2
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

Caesar and Cleopatra try to get as much influence as possible in Roman senate by convincin senators to their cause. There are five parties with five or three senators each. One gains points from getting senators to their side and extra points if he controls majority or all senators in some parties. Players play influence cards with different values to differenta parties. After ecah turn a vote of confidence card is turned and it either causes one of the senators in some party to go the side with higher amount of incluence cards or it is orgy round and nothing happens. Influence cards can be played either face up, when one can place two of them or face down and only one is allowed then. Vote of confidence also happens when there are total of eight influence cards in one party. There are also action cards that players may use one per turn. They may for example kill some of opponents influence cards or cancel some action opponent tries to perform.

This two player game has quite big luck factor in it: Sometimes one player or the other keeps turning just the wrong cards and loses because of it. But usually the key to victory is to make good tactical choices with the cards you have and use bluffing, if the cards are not the ones you need. One should always remember what parties have already had the vote of convidence this turn and concentrate to those who hasn't. If one has low valued vote of convidence cards, they can be used to shield higher valued cards when losing a senator and maybe you will win the next one. A decent two player game for those that don't mind some luck involved.
 

Can't stop

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 14.8.2008

 

Capitol

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4, best with 4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

In Capitol players compete to build largest buildings in different city districts. Each player uses a card in turn, which either build blocks or roofs for buildings or places a ready building in some district. Buildings with roofs can not be build further and smaller houses can not be placed in a district with a bigger house. There are also two types of roofs and three different colors for districts, which restricts the building options further. After the building phase the remaining cards may be used in auctions for extra buildings, that produce more points or cards for the winner of the district they are placed. The winner and secon gain points for each district for each four turns the game lasts.

The rules are not too complicated, but the decisions are usually not easy ones and require quite a lot of thinking. it seems, however, that the best strategy is to concentrate getting as many extra cards as possible in the beginning. One may try to get early lead in points, but that usually just leads to other players blocking all his districts and without extra cards he will be out of game. The biggets problem in the game is just that, the fact that other players may sabotage ones game too easily. There is also some luck with card draws, especially with the district colors. One may lose a game because of a missing color card. This can usually be dodged with careful planning though. Despite the shortcomings, the game has some interesting strategies and may be quite entertaining every now and then. The point calculating device that comes with the game is just horrible. Much better solution is just use pencil and paper for calculating the points.
 

Carcassonne + The river + The cathedral + Traders & Builders + King (& scout)

Rating: 7 (6 without the expansions)
Players: 2-5, 2-6 with cathedral expansion
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 12.1.2008

Carcassonne is a pipeman style game, where the objective is to build cities, roads and cloisters. Each player in turn places a tile to the table in a way that it extends the existing figure. One may also place one of his men in that tile. When played in a cloister it represents a monk, in a city it's a knight, a robber terrorizes a road and farmers work on fields. Each of these have different scoring mechanisms and all but farmers may return back to a player to be played again when the scoring condition is met.

Normally the game is played with one starting tile where it starts to grow. The river expansion replaces the starting tile with a river. It does not change the game much, but I don't like the open ends. The player who places the last river piece usually can not place any men on it, because the farmland is already occupied. Usually I prefer to play without the river.

The gathedral expansion adds some new tiles and big mens, that are more powerful, than normal men. The new tiles are quite nice and add some flavour to the game. Especially I like the inn tiles that double the value of a completed road, making robbers more effective. The cathedrals however are potentially too powerfull when used in combination with builders from the tarders and builders expansion. Often the outdome of a game has been decided by one large cathedral city: all players left out of that are out of the game. For that reason with traders abd builders expansion the game is more balanced if the cathedral tiles are used as a normal all city tiles. The The big men change the strategies somewhat, because places are easier to take over. The expansion also allows sixth player in to the game.

The traders and builders expansion adds even more different tiles and a handy bag. There is also some resources in the tiles that add another way of acquiring points. The resources are acquired by the player who completes a castle containing the icons reqrdles of who has knights there. At the end ten points are awarded for the owner of majority for each three resource types. A pig figure can be used to increase the value of farmers and a builder figure allows cities and roads to be build faster. All in all I think the game is more interesting and balanced with the expansion.

The King & Scout expansion adds 5 new tiles to the game and the king and robber baron special tiles. The package also includes 5 tiles for the Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers game, see the comments there. The new tiles are a nice addition. The Robber Baron and the King encourage to also complete other people's roads and cities like the commodities from Traders & Builders, which is good.

Carcassonne is quite a light game and there is much luck involved. Rules are easy to learn and games doesn't take too long. There is also some strategy involved, but not overly much. I prefer to play with a house rule that allows a player to draw two tiles and choose which one of those to play. This makes longer term plans easier and lessens the luck element a little. In the basic game the farmers seem to be a bit too powerfull and should be rewarded only 3 points per city. With the expansions cities and roads have larger potential and 4 points for farmers is not too much. If you plan to buy Carcassonne I recommend to also get both, the Gathedral and the Traders & Builders expansions and the King & Scout is not a bad buy either.

Tips:
When played with just the basic Carcassonne, farmers should reward only 3 points/city.
If the expansions are used the farmers work well with the 4 points/city (5 with the pig), but in my opinnion the game is more balanced and fun if the Cathedrals are treated like normal city tiles. This leaves more room for different strategies and all players don't need to fight over that one big cathedral city which often decides the victor.
 

Carcassonne: The Castle

Rating: 7
Players: 2
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

A two player variant of Carcassonne. Tile placement is less restricted which gives more options and makes the game more interesting. Another new innovation are the bonus tiles that players receive by stopping eactly in the corner spaces in the scoring track. These add another dimension to the game because the order of points taken may often decide if one gets the bonustiles or not. All in all Carcassonne: the Castle has stronger feeling of control compared to original Carcassonne and there is somewhat less luck involved. (Again, I prefer to draw 2 tiles at a time to make the planning easier and to decrease the luck element). The bonustile that doubles the points from one castle (giving 4 points/tile instead of 2) is too strong compared to others and thus the game is more balanced if it only gives an additional point as the others do (3 points/tile).
 

Carcassonne: The Discovery (Carcassonne: Neues land)

Rating: 7
Players: 2-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 12.1.2008

Another Carcassonne variant. Now a player decides with each tile if he wishes to play a men on the tile or to take away any already played men, when the scoring happens. Player may thus score anytime, but completed meadows, mountsins or seas give more points than incomplete and scoring requires an action. The basic idea is still the same. Graphics are inferior to basic carcassonne and as with Hunters & Gatherers it is not as easy to see the situation on board.
 

Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers (Kivikausi) + (King &) Scout

Rating: 7
Players: 2-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 12.1.2008

Hunters & gatherers is a variant of carcassonne. The basic idea is same as in carcassonne but the time is now the stone age and instead of cities and roads players build forests and rivers. There are quite a lot of small rule changes compared to carcassonne and most of them are for the better. As With the basic Carcassonne, the house rule for drawing 2 tiles and deciding wchich one to play can be used to decrease the luck element somewhat. The art could be clearer and the pieces often require some pondering before one recognices whatkind of piece he is holding. All in all I prefer the Hunters & Gatherers over the basic Carcassonne. The games are very similar however and if you don't like Carcassonne you will probably not like H&T either.
 

Carolus Magnus

Rating: 2
Players: 2-4, best with 3
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

Carolus Magnus has no real game board, but rather 15 province tiles that form a circle. Big carl (the king) is placed at some province and trawels clockwise. Each player has five discs with numbers from one to five. The play order is determined with these, so that smallest number plays first and it's also the amount of provinces he may move the king. In their turn players put five different colors of knights from their supply to the board or on their bastion. The player with most knights of one color has the control of that family and those knights in board support him. After the placement the king is moved. If in the region where he stops, some player has majority of loyal knights he may place a castle there. If two adjacent region have the castle of same color in them, they are put together and form bigger region. It is also possible to conguer other players castles, but they count as a one loyal knight. A player wins if he manages to place all his castles on the board or if there is fewer than four regions left the player with most castles wins. At the end of turn a player throws dices and takes appropriate colored knights to his reserve.

The rules of Carolus Magnus vary somewhat depending on which amount of players there is. Four player game is like two player game with two teams. I bought the game because of prewiews praising it as a three player game. The first game seemed promising, but after a few games Carolus Magnus proved to be a disappointment. Despite of some nice mechanisms the game is ultimately about throwing the dices. It works somewhat better with a house rule that one may always choose the color of one dice but it does not make it a good game. The playing time is a little less than an hour. It always feels that the game ends before it even really get going and leaves a feeling "was this really all?". Rules are simple to learn. There are many better games around so I won't recommend this one.
 

Cartagena

Rating: 6
Players: 2-5
Game time:About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

In Cartagena players are prisoners that try to escape. Unfortunately there is only one boat which is only enough for one group. So the goal is simply to get all of ones prisoners to the boat first. The gameboard is an escape tunnel with different symbols along the way. Players may in their turn either play a card (which matc the symbols in the tunnel) and move one of their prisoners to the next free matching symbol or retreat to the nearest symbol with 1 or 2 prisoners in it to gain 1 or 2 cards accordingly.

The mechanics are beautifully simple. The luck factor of the card draws is significant, altough there is a variant which decreases the luck. The game also requires some tactical thinking. With players who tend to overanalyze the turns may take a bit long for this type of game. All in all Cartagena is a beautifully designed, simple filler game and a decent one for a such.
 

Cash'n Guns

Rating: 5
Players: 4-6
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Strong
Edited: 24.12.2009

 

Catch a Roo (Kaappaa kenguru)

Rating: 5
Players: 3-6
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 25.12.2009

Catch a Roo is a simple game designed for children. As such, it is rather fun and offers even some potential for a simple filler game. Players in turn play cards corresponding kangaroos of different colors and acquire the corresponding kangaroo token. However, if the kangaroo was held by another player, he may defend it by playing a similar colored card from his hand. Once one player runs out of cards, the game ends and the winner is the player with most kangaroos. The game has actually nothing to do with kangaroos, as the idea is to simply collect colored tokens which just happen to be shaped as kangaroos.
 

Caylus

Rating: 9
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 17.11.2007

In Caulys players are builder masters who are hired to build King Philips castle and the surrounding village of Caylus. The idea of the game in short is to convert resource cubes and money to victory points as efficiently as possible. The players in turn may pay one money to set an assistant to any free building on board. Once one player passes, the price for placing assistants goes up by one for the remaining players. The assistants offer an option for gaining the advantage from the building, but there is a catch: the advantages are only gained from buildings that are in road before an inspector token. Players have a possibility to move the token with money, so a carefull planning is needed in the placement of assistants. The starting place of the inspector token advances as the game progresses and more buildings became available (build by players). Players may also build the castle and the king will award special favors for the most diligent catsle builders.

The best thing about Caulys is the general mechanics, that work very neatly. Timing is the key to success, in both resource management and turn order management. The game has a few flaws, but none of those manage to break the game overly much. The most significant problem are the king's favor tracks, which are not too well balanced: The resource track is next to useless and it hardly ever sees any use. On the other hand, the building track is definitely the most powerfull and often the first pick for players going for the castle. Money track is also very usefull, because money is always in short supply. The victory point track seems generally a bit weaker. Another thing, which seems a bit useless is the column, where one can place an assistant to wait. It is rarely any use, since usually there are no good places left at the point when it could move and it is better to just put one's assistant to the desired building instead. So in the house rule department, it could be a good idea to move the waiting column to be resolved after the "move inspector 3 spaces free" building, so it would be of more tactical importance. Still, these problems do not break the game, they just make a few options available unfeasible and thus rarely used. Despite the mentionded problems the game as a whole works very well and is my current favourite of the "cubes to victory points" genre. Of course it is a bit on the heavier side, but if thats not a problem, Caulys can be recommended.
 

Caylus Magna Carta

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Averagebr> Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 17.11.2007

Caulys Magna Carta tries to be "Caulys Lite". Partially it succeeds, but the problem here is that while it is a bit shorter than the real Caulys, it is not short or light enough to compensate the lost depth. If I had not played original Caulys before trying the Magna Carta, I would probably rate the game a bit higher, because the game itself is okay. As it is, however, Magna Carta feels like stripped down version of Caulys, which is inferior in all respects and I don't see any point in playing it instead of the real one.
 

Celtica

Rating: 5
Players: 2-5
Game time: 45 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 16.2.2011

The basic mechanism of moving druids seemed promising at first clance. Players in turn move one of 5 druids by playing cards and gain or lose amulet pieces depending on where the druids end their movement (9 different amulet parts are required for complete amulet, which decide the winner). Since all cards must be used, the luck of a draw has crucial importance. In addition, the amulet pieces are drawn from 9 visible pieces that are randomly replenished, which causes another very significant luck element: the right pieces are or are not in the track in your turn (and if they come up in wrong turn, other players make sure to take them away). Still one has a small amount of control over the game, especially because of the helmet cards, which are acquired from places that destroy amulet pieces and work as joker cards. Regardless, the decisions are rather straightworward and the replay value is thus low. The game is, however rather good to be played with children, since the rules are simple, decisions easy, and the cards are text free. Also the artwork is very beautiful. Celtica is currently actually seeing rather much plays, as our 4 years old often wishes to play it.
 

Chaos in the old World

Rating: 8
Players: 3-4
Game time: 90 minutes
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 26.1.2010

 

Checkers

Rating: 3
Players: 2
Game time:Half an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 16.3.2008

A classic. Does not get played anymore, because there are better abstract games for 2 players. Might be a good first thinking game to be played with kids.
 

Chess

Rating: 5
Players: 2
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine

I suppose everybody knows Chess. The game design itself is of course brilliant. The low rating for me is because the game is too well known. I hate to play against a player who has read ten books about chess and does not need to think any of his moves in the first 20 rounds. I, on the other hand, hate memorizing things and thus prefer games like Zertz or Yinsh, which are less well known and less analyzed, but still challenging.
 

Chinese Chess

Rating: 6
Players: 2
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract

As the name states Chinese chess is the Chinese version of chess. The pieces move quite differently and there is also palace and river that restrict the movement of some pieces. The game mechanics are simple and clever. I Prefer Chinese chess over the standard western one simply because it is not as analyzed and also the opponents usually have to do some thinking instead of playing some old game from a chess book. And then the reason why I don't rate it higher: The playing pieces I have used are just horrible. All of the pieces are identical looking differing only by the chinese symbols on top. This makes it impossible for me to get any grip of the situation. I prefer to play the game with pieces borrowed from a standard western board where one can easily see which piece is which. Other than that, the game is a nice abstract boardgame, even if a bit dry.
 

Choco

Rating: 3
Players: 2-4
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 25.12.2009

Very simple game for young children. High guality components and very simple rules make it suitable for children even under 3 years. The idea is simply to throw a dice, which contains peanuts and apples and try to locate the correct symbol under chocolate looking bits. This constitutes a simple memory element to the game as one may try to remember previously turned pieces. Among the pieces is a chocolate worm, which forces the player to return one acquired piece to the middle and then shuffle the pieces. The game includes similar dice thrower as Kimble. For older children or adults, the game does not offer much.
 

Circus Imperium

Rating: 2
Players: 2-12
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi

 

Citadels (Ohne Furcht und adel) + The Dark City

Rating: 8
Players: 2-7 (Citadels 2-8)
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine, Louhi
Edited: 3.4.2009

Playing mechanisms in this card game resemble somewhat of those of Verräter and Meuterer. The Objective is to build a city with most victory points. the game ends when somebody builds the eighth building in his city. Final score is based on the construction costs of buildings and there is bonus, if player have eight buildings and if he has buildings in each five colour. At the beginning of each round players choose a profession card for themselves from eight bossible professions. Each profession has some special ability. Depending on the number of players some cards are first removed and the player who was the king last round chooses his profession first. In each round, players play in the order determined by their profession. First plays the assassin, whose special ability is to murder any other character, who then loses his entire turn. Second is a thief, who can rob some other character taking all his money and so on.

At first I did not like this very much, but after a few plays I find it quite entertaining. Being assasinated really hurts and one should try not to be too predictable with his character choices. Luckily it's not imbossible to win the game even after some misfortune. Usually I don't like games, where one can so directly mess with other players. In Ohne Furcht und adel, however, you can never be sure, who will be the target for assasination or robber, because one names a character not a player. If played with basic rules, the king may become assasins favourite target. This leads to a situation, where same player always starts the game. It can be very frustrating to a players at his right, because they always choose their profession cards last. For this reason I prefer the variant rules, where starting player is changed even if the king is killed.

Rounds tend to last quite long and the playing time is from one to two hours depending on the number of players. The game works fine with four to six players. I own the deutsch version and the art is very nice, the cards are like mini paintings. The english version (Citadels) contains some additional role cards. They are a nice addition and add some variance to the game. However, I dislike using the navigator because he replaces the architect and removes an important potential for a surprise ending through building multiple cheap cards in a single turn. The usefulnes of the Dark City expansion depends on the version of the game you own. It includes a duplicate set of basic characters, the new characters from the Citadels and some new violet buildings. Thus for the owners of the english version, the expansion offers a little, except if your character cards are worn out and you need a new set. For the owners of the german version (like me), the new characters are a worthy addition, if the price is right. All in all, Citadels is a good game and can be recommended for both gamers and non-gamers.

Tips:
Usually it's a good idea to build as soon as you have the needed resources. If one has many building cards in hand or a lot of money, they tend to change owner quite soon.
 

Clans

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

 

Clash of the Gladiators

Rating: 4
Players: 2-5, best with 4 or 5
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

Gladiators fight animals and each other in ancient Rome. Each player has teams of four gladiators. The teams are generated from five different types of gladiateors, that each have some special ability. After teams and animals are in place, players in turn attack some other team or animal throwing dices. Each kill is points for killer and also the last player that has gladiators left, will gain points from them. If some player loses all gladiators, he may instead attack with animals in his turn. The game ends when there is only one player with gladiators left.

This is quite unusual game for Knizia. I would say that 80% of the game is pure luck and 20% is the tactics. After a few games I felt quite disappointed, and my opinnion has improved only a little afterwards. This game is not for ultimate strategic experience, but it may be quite fun when one wants just throw dices and see what happens. It is not possible to win by good tactical choices, but one can make his changes much worse with bad ones. The rules are simple and the game is easy to learn. It only takes an half an hour to play, so if it went badly, one can take rematch easily.

Tips:
Usually I try to crab as many swordman as possible, because the more dices the better possibility to score kills. It is not that important if own men die because one can always use animals, when the gladiators are done for.
 

The Club

Rating:
Players: 2-4
Game time: 60 minutes
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules:
Theme:
Collection: Mine
Edited: 23.2.2010

 

Clue (Cluedo)

Rating: 6
Players: 3-6
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 23.7.2007

 

Coda (Da Vinci Code)

Rating: 3
Players: 2-4
Game time: 10 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract

A very simple deduction game where luck outweights the deduction element. Plays very fast and is a good choice to be played with children.
 

Coloretto

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: 20 minutes/round
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 12.1.2008

In Coloretto there is just a deck of salamanders of different colors. Each player either turns a card from the deck and places it to one of the sets in table (maximum of 3 cards) or takes one of the sets to himself. A round ends when a special card is revealed from the deck. The more cards a player collects of one color, the more valuable his set will be. But there is a catch, a player only gets points from the 3 best colors and others count as minuses. The game ends after four rounds and the player with most points wins

Coloretto is a very simple game to learn and naturally quite luck driven. Still there is room for some tactics. Basically you can either try to ruin other peoples sets and you end getting bad sets for yourself also or try to give decent sets to others and have a change to collect decent set for yourself. I recommend coloretto as a good filler game and also good to be played with non-gamers.

Tips:
Usually it is good idea to grab the joker when you have the change.
 

Colossal Arena

Rating: 6
Players: 2-5 (best with 4)
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

In Colossal arena the players place bets for eight fantastic creatures that do battle. Only three (occasiaonally more) will survive and the goal is naturally to bet the ones that do not die. Each turn a player may play one number card from his hand to a creature. A round is over once there is a card in each creature at which point the creature with smallest number is eliminated. Players may play also on top of already placed cards. If a player plays a card to a creature he has invested most money on, he gets to use its special ability. The game comes with 12 different creatures of which 8 are used in a game. the game ends when 5 creatures have been killed or cards ran out.

Unlike most Knizia's games colossal Arena has some problems and balance issues that need to be taken in consideration. First of all the game does not work very well with 5 players, because only 3 of the players will be able to bet twice on the first round (which give more points than later pids and allow special power usage). So the 2 remaining players are in worse position to begin with.

Another problem is the stopping criteria. The official rules state that the game ends when the deck is empty. This just does not work, because almost always the game ends prematurely and players may just keep bad cards in hand until the end. A somewhat better stopping criterion is the one used in previous edition of the game, Titan The Arena. Now the game continues until there is only 3 creatures left. After the deck is empty a player must always play one card if he is able. If no-one can play a card, the uppest row is shuffled and each player gets to draw 1 card at a time. This works otherwise nicely, but I don't like the last part, because the cards are just drawn randomly. Thus the best stopping criteria in my experience is to play first the deck and then all the cards from players hands. If at the point where no player has any suitable cards there is still more than 3 creatures alive, then all will survive.

Third issue are some of the creatures special powers that are not very balanced. The problem is that creatures with weak power will usually be shunned by players which leads them to be killed easily. Now starting players will gain too much advantage since they can choose first which creatures to bet. It seems that the characters that do not need tweaking are Magus, Unicorn, Titan, Gorgon, Wyrm, Colossus and Seraphim. Daimon is sometimes usefull, but usually all of the best places are already occupied. To make it better, the backer could be allowed to place the extra bet in a place already occupied by some other players bet in the current row. Not in previous rows, since this would make the Daimon a killer power and not two own markers in same slot which would make it too easy to get to backer. Of course Daimon's power could also be used in normal way. The Troll is somewhat underpowered and could be allowed to pick not only Troll, but any combat card (not a spectator) from a previous row. The Amazons problem is that the 3 drawn cards prevent the player from getting new cards to replace the ones discarded for the turn and thus the card advantage from the Amazon is quite limited. Thus in the round a player uses the Amazon he should be allowed to fill his hand to 11 instead of the normal 8 giving a little longer lasting card power. The cyclops special power is probably the weakest of all. Thus the cyclops power could work so that it removes all cards except two which the player can use. Ettin on the other hand seems to be a little overpowered. To make it more balanced the special power of Ettin should only work in a turn which does not end in creature elimination. Note that suggested creature modifications have not yet been throughly playtested and may still need some tuning.

Despite the rather lengthy list of shorcomings I like Colossal Arena. It feels quite similar to Royal Turf, even though the mechanics are different. Interestingly the most effective cards are not the ones with large numbers, but rather the small numbers for opponents creatures. It is also important to get rid of bad cards, since it is always mandatory to play something and in the end one may be forced to kill his own creature if not carefull. The main thing is to make sure that someone else also invests in your creatures, because one cannot keep a creature alive long alone. This requires some tactical eye and there is also a bit of bluffing because of the secret bids. Of course the random card draws mean rather much luck, but as said, one cannot play against all and thus even very good cards don't necessarily help. With the above mentioned corrections Colossal Arena is exiting, fun and rather fast betting game.
 

Colosseum

Rating: 6
Players: 3-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 16.2.2011

 

Commands & Colors: Ancients

Rating: 8
Players: 2
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 29.12.2006

 

Condottiere

Rating: 6
Players: 2-6
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Edited: 23.11.2006

Players are dealt a hand of 10 cards, which contain soldiers of different strengths and some special cards. After that a player selects an area from small map of Italy where a battle happens. Players may in turn play cards and the winner of the battle is naturally the player with strongest army unless some special cards are used to end the battle prematurely or otherwise change the outcome. The winner gains control of the area. Once only one player has cards in hand, those are discareded and all players get new 10 cards +2 cards for each controlled area. The game ends once one player gets 3 (or 4 with 2 or 3 players) adjacent areas.

I have quite conflicting opinnion about the game. The game has working basic mechanics and a bluffing element which I like. The cards are designed so that it is possible to have a suitable card in hand for every situation. On the other hand it seems that one may be dealt just bad hand and then bluffing may not be enough to get any areas. Because areas generate more cards, it may be quite hard to get back to the game once left behind, because if one has less cards, he is a good target to play against with more. The game is in a sense quite poker like, because timing is very important and one must decide when to bid and when to drop out. The game shows some promise, but more plays are needed to decide if the luck element is too overwhelming combined with the rich get more cards system to destroy the game. The cards are a bit too large and awkward to shuffle.
 

Cosmic Encounter

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 12.10.2009

 

Democrazy

Rating: 4
Players: 4-10
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract

 

Devil bunny Hates the Earth

Rating: 1
Players: 2-5
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak

 

Devil Bunny needs a Ham

Rating: 2
Players: 2-5
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak

 

Diamant

Rating: 7
Players: 3-8
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 16.3.2008

In diamant the players venture to a mine which is represented by turning cards. The cards may contain gems or some perils, like Snakes or poisonous gas. The gems on a card are divided evenly for all players still venturing (extra gems stay on the card.) After each card, Players secretly decide, if they want to continue or leave. If they leave, they secure all the gems found this far in the round and also the gems on cards are divided evenly among all who wish to leave. If a second peril card of same kind is turned, all remaining players are killed and lose all their unsecured gems. The game ends after 5 rounds.

So basically Diamant is a betting game: do you dare to push your luck further and risk losing all gems acquired this far, or do you play safe and risk that others will find a motherlode when you are not sharing the loot? Another nice timing issue is to try to anticipate are the others going to quit or not, because the extra gems on cards can be rather good bonus, if you can quit, when no-one is sharing. Of course luck has the main role here, but with a good risk management one can get an advantage. The large luck element is not a problem, because the game is very fast and has a strong "Let's play one more" feeling. The rules are easy to learn and the game is fun to play and I recommend it as a quick filler game.
 

Dixit

Rating: 6
Players: 3-6
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 15.2.2011

 

Doctor Snuggles upfinning

Rating: 2
Players: 2-4
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 13.2.2011

Very simple Carcassonne like came, where players in turn set different colored machine pieces to the board, the goal being to get rid of ones pieces by setting them to legal places. It is possible to develop some simply strategy, as all pieces are dealt at the beginning of the game. Still the game is not particularly interesting nor thematic, but can be played with children if nothing better is available.
 

Dominion + Dominion: Intrigue

Rating: 8
Players: 2-4 (2-6 with the Intrigue expansion)
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 17.2.2011

Dominion has an interesting game concpet. Basically, what players do during the game is to build their deck. At the beginning, each player starts with a deck of 10 cards, 7 money cards of value 1 and 3 victory point cards of value 1. Each turn a player draws 5 cards. He can play one action card (if he has any) and make one payment. Bought cards are placed on discard pile and are included next time the deck is shufled. Player may buy from a selection of 10 action cards (the game includes 25 sets of which 10 is used in a single game), money cards (values 1, 2 and 3) and victory point cards (values 1, 3 and 6). Played action cards typically give bonus money or cards, improve the deck quality, allow more action cards to be played and/or more than one card to be bought etc. Some cards also affect other players, like attack cards, which typically give slight bonus to the player and a (possible) negative effetc to others. The game ends when the 6 point victory point deck or 3 other decks gets empty. The game is decided by the sum of victory point cards in players decks.

The game is simple, fast and straightforward. It is still surprisingly addictive and has a strong "let's play one more" effect. Using different action card combinations changes the game nicely and keeps it fresh. Altough luck has an important role in the form of draws, the distribution of cards in a player's deck is also important and requires some planning. Often though, the best combinations are rather straightforward, and experienced players aim to build rather similar decks. Still a player must decide when to stop developing his deck (buying money or action cards) and start buying the victory point cards (which are worthless in hand during the game). The box is unnecesary large for a card game (alltough it helps on keeping the cards in order) and I would prefer a more compact package. The setup takes rather long time compared to the short gametime, so I usually don't bother playing just one game. As the cards are shuffled constantly, shields are essential for keeping the cards in condition.

Dominion: Intrigue is a stand alone expansion for the game. The game is othervise similar to the Dominion, but contains different set of action cards. Intrigue can be thus played without the original game. The games can be also combined, which rises the maximum number of players to six and enables a wider selection of action cards to be used.

Tips:

The main issue with the rules is the ending condition, which ends the game instantly without giving all players the possibility to play an equal number of turns. This puts the players later in turn on disadvantage and I prefer to play with an house rule to end the game only after the last player of a round has had a change to play his last turn. Even with this rule, the later players are often at disadvantage, because of the possibility that no more provinces are left to be bought even if they have the money, but at least they will get something.
 

Don

Rating: 4
Players: 3-6
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 20.12.2006

 

Dope Fiend (Bilekuosi)

Rating:
Players: 2-6
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong

 

Dragonland (Lohikäärmeiden maa)

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: weak
Edited: 14.8.2008

 

Dragon's Gold

Rating: 5
Players: 3-6
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: neutral
Collection: Louhi

 

Dungeon Lords

Rating: 10
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 17.2.2011

 

Edel, Stein & Reich

Rating: 7
Players: 2-5 (best with 4)
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 11.10.2009

 

Elasund

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 29.11.2006

 

Elfenland

Rating: 8
Players: 2-6
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 12.11.2006

 

Fettnapf

Rating: 5
Players: 2-5
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 11.10.2009

 

El Grande

Rating: 7
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

Each player is a grande in spain and tries to rise above others to become El grande by winning the game. The game lasts nine turns an there are three scoring rounds after third, sixth and ninth turn. Players try to gain influence in different provinces by playing their own caballeros. Each turn the playing order is decided with number cards. The downside of playing big number, is that the amount of available caballeros is also decided with these cards. Big numbers give one less caballeros. In one's turn a player chooses one of five available special cards. The card decides how many caballeros he may place on board (if he has any available, that is). There is also some special action in each card the player may or may not execute. Usually the more caballeros the card allows one to place on board, the less powerful the special effect of a card is.

El Grande has many inventive and original playing mechanics. it would be a great game, but it feels a little bit too random. The situation on board is constantly chancing and it's hard to develop a long term strategy. It's also quite easy to directly affect other players game and the leader usually won't lead for very long. The rules require some learning, but are not too complicated. A typical game takes a little les than two hours to play. El Grande is a good choice if you are looking for a tactical game with some nice tricks.
 

Enchanted Forest (Sagaland)

Rating: 3
Players: 2-6
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.12.2006

Sagaland is basically a roll & move game. Still it is not about going directly from one place to another. One must first scout the trees in the forest to find hints of tales. A suitable number must be rolled with two dice to land exactly on a tree to take a peek on it or doubles teleport the player instantly to any tree. Players may also land on top another forcing the stepped player to retreat back to the starting village. After enough information has been gathered, the players enter the castle and answer the king's guestions. With three correct answers a player wins the game. One must again throw a suitable number to be granted an audience with the king. One question is then asked each turn and wrong answer or another player arriving to the court will force the player to retreat back to the starting village.

Sagaland is very luck dependent due to the dice rolls but one must also remember which symbols were under which tree and also the timing in castle requires some planning. The game is a good to be played with children, but otherwise it is a bit too simple for my taste.
 

Endeavor

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Edited: 9.2.2010

 

Entdecker: Exploring new Horizons (Die Neuen Entdecker)

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi

 

Evo

Rating: 8
Players: 3-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 12.11.2006

In Evo each player tries to develop his herd of dinosaurs to survice and exband in the hostile island that is the playing area. Each round the climate may change either to warmer or calmer. Only dinosaurs in hospitable climate will survice. Players may bid mutations to make his dinosaurs togher, faster, more fertile etc. Wictory points are used for pidding and thus overpidding is not good. On the other hand dying in extiction is a real possibility without enough good mutations. We play with the variant to pid one less mutation than the number of players because it adds tension to the game. Each round the players score victory points based on the amount of dinosaurs alive in their herd. The game ends when a meteorite hits the planet ending the reign of dinosaurs. The ending point is not fixed, but rather when the end approaches the probability of meteor impact also increases.

The pidding mechanics works very well (rather similar to that used in Amun-Re). Some of the cards are much more powerfull than others. There is quite much luck involved because of the random card draws and climate rolls. Evo is quite a fun game, but not to be taken too seriously. Early lead may backfire because the leader often gets to be the main target for hostile cards. Each player gets a paperdoll dino where new mutations can be added.
 

Factory Fun

Rating: 8
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.12.2006

 

Fairy Tale

Rating: 7
Players: 2-5
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 22.4.2007

 

Farlander

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak

 

Fearsome Floors (Finstere Flure)

Rating: 6
Players: 2-7
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi

 

Fiji

Rating: 4
Players: 2-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 16.11.2006

Fiji is a blind bidding game to the bone. Players bid pearls of different colors to gain or lose more pearls (or a few special actions). The thing is that one bid is used for all four conditions. In principle this should create interesting situations, but in most cases only 1 or 2 of the conditions are relevant and the good options are very clear. Only uncertainty are the other players and in the end the game is guite much a bit complicated rock-paper-scissors. After three bids players reveal their gems and depending on the random order of the scoring cards the player order is determined by who has most/least the gems of some color and in ties next color is checked etc. The most interesting thing in Fiji are the shrunken heads which are used to calculate points. Really, the heads do not have any other function in the game and still the game includes huge amount of different and very nice looking shrunken head tokens:) Otherwise the game is too chaotic for me. If you want a good blind bidding game, I recommend Aladdin's dragons instead.
 

Five Alive (Super 5)

Rating: 1
Players: 2-7
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 13.8.2008

Super 5 feels a bit like dumbened Uno. The decisions are straightforward and the game is purely decided the cards one gets. The strategy is just to play the number cards from biggest downwards always when possible and otherwise play special cards, which do not increase the sum. Whoever draws the most number cards usually loses. This game is really a waste of time, and Uno is recommended instead as a simple card game to be played with children.
 

Fluxx

Rating: 1
Players: 2-6
Game time: 5+ minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract

 

Formula De

Rating: 6
Players: 2-10
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme:Strong
Collection: Louhi

 

Frag + Death Match

Rating: 6
Players: 2-6
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme:Strong
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 24.12.2009

 

Fury of Dracula

Rating: 6
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong

 

Galaxy Trucker + Rough road ahead + The big expansion

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4 (2-5 with the big expansion)
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 11.10.2009

 

A Game of Thrones + Clash of Kings

Rating: 7 (6 without the clash of kings)
Players: 3-5
Game time: 3 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine

In the Game of Thrones players take the role of one of the great houses of Westeros. The goal is to either conquer a total of seven towns or own most towns after ten rounds when the game ends. The system is card driven meaning that each round three event cards are revealed. For example building new armies requires correct event card and another event may trigger an auction for the positions of power. One needs to control areas with cities to produce armies, supplies to feed the armies and crowns to gain influence markers that are used in auctions for the positions of power. Actions are performed using action markers. For each area containing at least one unit the players set hidden markers to indicate what action the unit(s) in that area can perform. There are not an infinite supply of markers of each type, so for example the maximum amount of movement orders is three/round. The markers are also not equally good. The fights are handled much like in the LOTR: the confrontation. Both players count the total power of their army and possible supporters and then play a card from their hand.

There are a lot of ingenious ideas in the game. Especially I like the control markers. Also the combat system works nicely without any luck. Still there is some luck because of the event cards. The main factor in the game is still diplomacy. If other players decide that you are a toast, then toast you shall be. The boats have larger role in the GOT than normally in the games of this type because they can support ground units in battle. The game could and should be great but unfortunately the map design is flawed. In 5 player game the capitals of house Lannister and Greyjoy are too close each other. In addition House Lannister is much weaker at the beginning and it gives the Greyjoy a perfect change to just wipe Lannisters fleet out of the board so that Lannister will never build another ship again in the game and will not have any change of victory. There is no point of playing Lannister because there is no real change of ever winning. To make the game playable my solution is (in addition to the official errata to swap Greyjoy and Tyrell in King's court track) to divide Itonman's bay into two parts from the cape of Seagard to the border of Golden sound. Now the Ironman's bay is not adjacent to the Riverryn and Lannister (or Greyjoy) has a place to retreat his fleet, if need be. It is also possible to build ships there from both Riverrun and Seagard making it hard to kill another's fleet entirely. With these modifications Greyjoy can not kill Lannister straight away. Still there is no buffer zone between them as are between the other nations, but at least the game is playable. Even with this new bonus Lannister has the worst starting position being in the middle. It seems that with 5 players the Baretheon seems to have the strongest position. The 4 player version with house Greyjoy and its home island (Pyke) removed from the game seems more balanced. If Pyke is left in the game, House Lannister will bee too powerfull. Additionally I like to add an neutral army of strength 6 (The total strength of greyjoy's starting army, if boats are included) in Seagard to prevent Lannister getting it too easily. Another house rule I like to use is to consider the gray wildling area in north an additional sea area making it possible to move ships around the land in north too giving Stark a option to move his fleet from one side to another.

The Clash of Kings expansion fixes most of the problems of the basic game and adds lots of nice new mechanics to the game. There is a new map piece to the south which adds the sixth house, Martell, in the game. the factions also receive a new set of optional battle cards which have greater range of power and abilities. These are designed to help Lannister to defend his area against Greyjoy at the beginnig. Also a set of one time action markers are included and harbors which both are great. Harbors allow a player to produce fleet even if the water area is occupied by opponent and also provide a place to retreat the fleet. In addition the forts and siege engines add some new options for battle. Almost all of the suggested house rules can be discarded with the Clash of Kings expansion. The six player game seems rather balanced now. For five players probably the best combination would be to play with the new map and remove house Greyjoy the same way is in four player game (remove Pyke and place the army of 6 in seagard). For four players the old map works fine.

All in all the gaming mechanics of GOT are pure gold but the basic game is somewhat broken. Thus the Clash of kings expansion is a must buy if you plan to acquire a copy. With that the game is interesting package of strategy, tactics diplomacy and intrigue. Still at least with six players the game can be rather long and if one gets badly beaten at start, the endgame may be somewhat dull.
 

Gang of Four

Rating: 7
Players: 3-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 29.12.2006

Gang of Four could be descriped a mixture of Uno, poker and Dalmuti. The basic idea is to get rid of one's cards and all other players then get minuses from the cards in hand. One can play the cards in singles, doubles, trios or different five card combinations as straigth, flush or full house. Four or more of a kind is a gang which beats ewerything. The player who got most minuses in a round will have to give his best card to the winner of the previous round. Gang of Four is a rather good game for its genre and definitely much better than Uno. It is rather much luck driven, but one must also play well and mistakes can really backfire.
 

Gangster

Rating: 5
Players: 3-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 12.11.2006

Only played once. The coolest part of this game are the real bullets it includes. Otherwise the theme is very thin. The idea is to place ganster tiles into a 6*6 grid. One may also move the tiles, but after a row or column gets full, there is a scoring and the row/column is then fixed at the place. The bullets are used in assasinations so that your ganster may shoot an adjacent ganster. There are some tactical and strategic choices to be made, but the luck of a draw seems to be in major role. I may try it again at suitable opportunity, but the game did not leave any real desire to play it again.
 

Gategory 5 (6 Nimmt!)

Rating: 6
Players: 2-10
Game time: Less than an hour, depends on the amount of players
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.10.2006

In this game the goal is to collect as few cards as possible. The deck consists of 104 cards with corresponding numbers. There are 4 stacks in the table. Each round each player selects one of his hand cards blindly and they are revealed simultaneously. From smallest number forward they are added to the stacks in the table in numerical order. The card goes to the stack which last card has the largest smaller number than the played card. When some unfortunate player puts the sixth card in a stack, he must take the whole stack as a negative points. Also if one plays too small number and there is no stack the card fits, he must choose a stack to take as a minus points. Most of the cards are worth one minus point, but cards dividend by 5 are worth -2, dividend by 10 are -3, cards with two same numbers (like 88) are worth -5 and the ultimate bonus 55 is worth -7. (It is both dividend by 5 and has two same numbers). The game ens when someone reaches the predetermined number of minus points (the official is 66) and the winner is the player with fewest minus points.

The game is quite different with different number of players. With the full 10 there is a lot of chaos, because it is very hard do predict what cards the other players are going to play. With fewer there is more tactics involved. Personally I think the more the merrier. It is fun to watch your opponents desperate face when he realizes his card is going to collect the -15 points stack:). The game has much luck, but with clewer play one can still affect the outcome quite much. Mostly it is about taking risks either early or leaving the risky cards last often resulting in disaster. 6 Nimmt! is very addictive and fun to play. The lenght of the game can be decided with selecting appropriate ending amount of points. I don't like the card graphics much (6 Nimmt! version), because they are quite confusing and I often mix 6 and 9 (for example numbers 69 and 96). I recommend 6 Nimmt! as a good light game for large crowds. Suitable for non gamers and a good filler.
 

Gauner Trio

Rating: 3
Players: 2-6
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 15.8.2008

Gauner trio is a very simple speed game with a deduction element. There are 7 different color of thieves and each card has a combination of 3 of them. each of the players are in turn an eyewitness who first draws a card and keeps it hidden from the other players. Then other players in turn turn a card and the eyewitness uses tokens to tell how many of the thieves are in the card in his hand. A player may at any time make a revelation and tell what are the 3 thieves in the eyewitnesse's card. If he was right he gets the card, otherwise he is out and cannot make more revelations this round and others continue without him. A player who gets 3 cards wins.

The game should include a helper card which has all the different thieves labeled. As it is now, one often knows that the thieves are this, this and the missing colour and it takes too much time to try to remember what the missing color was so that someone else gets ahead of you. Often it goes so that one has 50% or 33% change to get it right and then it is just luck does the first or second guesser get the card. The deduction really is very simple and the game is all about speed. The game has its own appeal, but is just too simple to amuse very long. It might have some potential as a children's game though.
 

Gemblo

Rating: 6
Players: 2-6
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 9.3.2008

In short Gemblo is similar to Blokus where the squares have been replaced with hexacons. Gemblo also allows up to 6 players, while Blokus only allows up to 4. Of course also the placement rules are slightly modified due to different shaped pieces. Like in Blokus, the players playing first have advantage over the players later in turn.
 

Ghost Stories

Rating: 6
Players: 1-4
Game time: 1+ hours
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Edited: 16.2.2011

 

Girl Genius

Rating: 4
Players: 2-4
Game time: 1+ hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral

 

Gloria Mundi

Rating: 7
Players: 2-6
Game time: 1+ hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 16.11.2006

In Gloria Mundi players are roman statesman in the days before Rome's fall. Barbarians are closing and the players race to get away to the safety of Carthage. Each player gets a set of cards from 3 different colors in hand. Each turn a player plays one card and all players get benefits from all the cards of similar color. The basic cards only produce resource of the appropriate color, but the resources can be used to update the cards. Basically the cards either provide resources and/or allow a player to run away from Rome. Each turn the barbarian token moves one space towards Rome. Players may start to bribe the barbarian by playing resource tokens in the space in front of the barbarian. This really does not slow down the barbarian, but he will stay put as long as players keep stacking the resources. When someone doesn't the barbarian moves the whole trip at once. Players then in turn take a resource back from the pribe pile and destroy a similar colored card. The game ends when either one of the players get to the Carthage or the barbarians reach Rome, when the player furthest away wins.

I have only played once. The rules seem to be a bit tangled and also some of the abilities in cards needed a bit of bondering. Otherwise the game is quite standard building game, but the barbarian adds a stabbing element and with right planning it is possible to have the barbarian hurt others more it hurts you. The game needs more plays to determine how good it really is. At the moment it seems okay, but lacking greatness.
 

Go

Rating: 8
Players: 2
Game time: 90 minutes
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 23.7.2007

 

Goa

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

The hearth of goa is an auction system. Each player in turn select a commodity for auction by placing a marker. The thing is that next player must place his marker besides the previous one, so it is possible by one's choices to influence also the others. The first player gets to play 2 markers, the first one for the starting flag. The money is paid to the player whose marker was above the commodity, except if the player wants it himself he pays to the bank. After that players get 3 actions to do various things. This goes on for 8 turns and the winner is the player with most points.

At first Goa seemed to be a perfect game. After more playings my rating has decreased somewhat. The game is definitely a good one but the original rules are seriously broken. Still, the basic system is very nice and thus the game is worth fixing. After a rather lengthy set of house rules the game feels at at last balanced enough and is again one of my favorites. First step is to correct the translation mistake in Rio grande rules and use original german rule to prevent the players from drawing over the hand limit (player has the option to discard before draw). Then the house rules we use are as follows:

The cards that allow the update without ships/spices are not allowed to be used in the final row making the maximum discount 3.
The useless card which allows the use of money to advance in the tracks instead of ships and spices is considered a free action. (Like the cards without the A in corner).
The final row in the ships track now gives 6 ships instead of the original 5.
The money track is now 4,6,8,12,16 instead of the original 4,6,8,10,12.
The over powerfull card track is now 1/1,1/2,1/3,2/3,2/4 instead of th original 1/1,1/2,2/3,2/4,3/5

The changes are required, because the original card track is just extremely powerfull: One can get anything the other tracks produce from the cards and in addition to that the cards are extra points in the end. This reduces the game a card drawing contest where the winner is the player who manages to draw the best set. In the new version the card track is just one option among the others and this allows the players strategies to vary more. On the other hand the money track is probably the least usefull, because the money you pay usually goes to other players and this easily leads to inflation. The upgrade gives the track a little more power which a skilled player can use to his advantage. Also the ships track requires a little boost to make it worth to uppgrade the final step.

With this set of house rules goa is very interesting and challenging game. Still it's quite heavy and the turns may take quite long with players who like to optimize. It always feels that you are lacking the turns you would need to do everything you want which makes it interesting. It resembles quite much the Princes of Florence with the strong strategic element, but Goa has larger luck factor. Especially the luck plays a little bit too large role with the city building and it can hurt a lot if one fails his city and the others succeed. Also the card draws can be quite uneven.

Tips:
It seems to be a common mistake to forgot that the fields and cities come to the play full of spices and also that only one card can be played per action.
 

Gone Fishing! (Koukussa!)

Rating: 5
Players: 2
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 30.6.2007

 

The Great Dalmuti (Der Grose Dalmuti)

Rating: 8
Players: 4-9, best with 7, 6 and 8 still okay
Game time: Ten minutes/round
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine, Louhi

If you have tried a card game Asshole, you know the basic idea of The Dalmuti. We have a deck with twelve 12s, eleven 11s and so on, plus two jokers. The aim is to get rid of ones cards as fast as possible. One can only play as many cards as previously played and they have to be smaller numbers. Rounds winner is decleared as a dalmuti and chooses his sitting place, while others take their places according to their positions. The loser from previous round is the peasant and his duty is to deal cards and collect played cards from the table. The peasant also loses two of his smallest cards to the dalmuti at the start of a round, the second last loses his smallest card to the second player and if there is more than six players, third last player loses a random card to the third player. These players then give back same amount of cards freely choosed. If some player has two jokers, he can call revolution and no taxes are paid. If the peasant made the revolution, taxes are reversed.

The rules are very easy and it is lots of fun. When there is many people around and maybe some drinking involved, this is one of the best games to spend time. it is very light game, but has some strategic options and lots of luck of course. One can play with risk to achieve higher position, or try to play safe and keep his current position. Rounds are very fast, maybe ten minutes or so. The dalmuti has a good change to keep his position, but I have seen many cases, when the peasant has advanced straight to the dalmuti without a revolution. It is always a pleasure to steal the best cards from some unfortunate peasant and even better when it is the bayback time:) The game works fine with players from five to eight optimum being seven. The Great Dalmuti is much more fun to play than Asshole and a good choice for anyone in need of a fun game to spend time with multiple friends.
 

Groo: The Game + The expansion set

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4 (2-6 with expansion)
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 14.11.2006

Groo is based on a comic of similar name. The art is nice and the theme fits nicely. In players turn 6 dices are rolled and the results define what he can build. If the player does not use all the dices the remaining are passed on for others to use. Players may also attack with troops to destroy others houses (which generate winning points). The groo also wanders around causing havoc of course. The game is quite random and there is a lot of leader bashing, which I don't particularly like. Still it is a decent game to be played as a filler. Still I refuse to play with the Orphanage which is totally broken and should be removed from the deck. The expansion doubles the amount of cards and allows the maximum of six players.
 

Guillotine

Rating: 4
Players: 2-5
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 21.10.2007

A very light card game with lots of luck. it can be quite fun, however, but after a few plays loses much of its appeal. The idea is quite unique: every player is a executioner and tries to decapitate as many nobles as possible during French revolution. Of course higher nobles are more valuable. Playing last three days and winner is the player with most valuable heads in his basket.

Cards are very funny. The Game is not very balanced, but it's hard to develop any strategy anyway because many of the cards may change the whole situation completely. This game is at best as a light filler, when no one wants to think overmuch.
 

Gulo Gulo

Rating: 5
Players: 2-6
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 23.2.2010

 

Hacker

Rating:
Players:
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules:
Theme:
Collection: Louhi

 

Hammer of the Scots

Rating: 8
Players: 2
Game time: 2-6 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.2.2011

 

Hansa

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

Hansa is a trading game about the Golden time of the Hansiatic League. Each turn players receive an income of 3 talers and can then take as many actions as they can afford. The actions can be done only in a city where the merchant ship is located. The ship starts in a city where the previous player left it and the movement costs money. Also only one action/city is allowed. Players may purchase commodities from cities and the payment goes to the player who currently controls the city (has most market booths there). The commodities can be used to purchase more market booths or sold to acquire victory points. To sell the player needs to have at least 2 commodities of same color and all other players will lose one commodity of that color. The game ends when a certain amount of commodities have been bought and all players get equal amount of turns.

There is rather much luck involved because the commodities for sale are dealt randomly and are not equally valuable. Somethimes the game is be decided by a good draw of some player. Still in most games other players doings and your rections to those affect more for your success. There is only a limited amount of market booths available and dividing them to too many cities may mean that you will gain control of no city and won't get any income from others or free buys from your cities. On the other hand concentrating in too few cities makes it harder to find a place to sell your hard earned commodities and means also less victory points from the cities at the end of game. It is also important to follow the doings of the player before you, because the place he leaves the ship will be your starting position. All in all Hansa is quite a nice little game with a lot of player interaction.

Tips:
The ship placement affects the game very much, so think not only your own game but also how much you will benefit others. It is often a good idea to save some money for the next turn and then strike with a lot of actions at the right time.
 

Hansa Teutonica

Rating: 10
Players: 2-5
Game time: 90 minutes
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 17.2.2011

 

Heli Hopper

Rating: 5
Players: 2-6
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.2.2011

A childrens dexterity game, where players movement is decided by launching hoppers (gyroscopes) and using the number where it lands. The game has thus a dexterity element and also requires some mathematics, which makes it good learning game for kids. One of the better kids games and offer some potential for older players also as a dexterity game.
 

Hera & Zeus (Blitz und Donner)

Rating: 6
Players: 2
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral

 

Hermagor

Rating: 6
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.12.2006

 

HeroQuest

Rating: 2
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral

HeroQuest is a very simple roleplaying system, where the idea is to make a party and explore a small dungeon. There is a book of ready dungeons to use with the board included and more can be designed. Like in real roleplaying games, one player must be the dungeon master who controls the creatures and traps etc. The components are quite nice, with plastic characters, monsters and furnitures. The problem with this game is, that the system is just too simple and limited: There is only four different characters with very few abilities. The characters don't develop during the game like in normal roleplaying games. Monsters don't have any special abilities. This list goes on. I don't see any reason to play this game. The real roleplaying games are much more fun. If one wants to throw dices to see who dies, Clash of the gladiators is much better choice. May be better with the expansions though.
 

Hey! that's my fish! (Pingwin)

Rating: 8
Players: 2-4
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 29.8.2007

 

High Society (Einfach Tierisch)

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: About half an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 30.6.2007

 

Himalaya

Rating: 4
Players: 3-4 (best with 3)
Game time: 90 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Edited: 13.8.2008

Himalaya attempts to combine Samurai like scoring system with Roborally like turn programming. The idea is to run around the board picking up resources from villages, which can then be used to accomplish missions in other villages. Movement is programmed by 6 tiles, such that eaqch village is connected to others by exactly 3 different colored roads. Fourth option is to program trade action, which means either taking a resource or accomplishing a mission in approproate village. The resources and missions appear randomly, which imports an significant luck factor especially at the end game, when all players tend to have a good set of resources collected and only the lucky ones will have suitable missions near enough to complete them before the others. It is frustrating, that game is often decided by luck at the end. The scoring system does not work at all with 4 players, making the game playable only as a 3 player game. By completing a mission, a player may decide to set a Stupa in the village (worth 1 to 3 points, depending on the size of the village), gain controll of the area surrounding the village by placing delegations (1-3 men, depending on the size of the village) or take the mission ring, which gives the player yacks (the amount decided by the mission difficulty (how valuable resources are required)). A player may take two of the three rewards. In 4 player game the scoring works such, that first, the points from Stupas are counted and the loser there loses the game automatically, regardless of his controlled areas or amount of yacks. After that the player with fewest controlled areas (areas with most own men) is out and the winner is then decided by the amount of yacks. In 3 player game a player receiving majority in 2 of the 3 possible areas wins and in tie, the player with most yacks wins. Now the problem in 4 player game is, that because each village can have only one stupa, the first half of the game is a race for setting the stupas for the best villages. Typically around the half game, 1 or 2 players are clearly behind the others in stupas and are already out of the game or must race against each other for the remaining stupa villages (if they happen to randomly acquire a mission) to prevent prematurely losing the game. This often makes the second half of the game very dull for the unlucky player(s), who did not get enough good stupas at the beginning and already knows he has lost the game or his only change of not losing is to randomly get a right kind of mission to right village and get there before anyone else. With 3 players, losing the stupas is not that crucial and the game is more about collecting the yacks. As games which work well with 3 players are not too common, the problems in 4 player game might not be that crucial. Unfortunately, the luck plays too significant role in the game for my taste and I can not recommend Himalay as 3 player game either.
 

History of the World

Rating:
Players:
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi

 

Hoity toity (Adel Verplifhtet)

Rating: 5
Players: 2-5, best with 5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.10.2006

The game starts from a gentlemen's club and ends at the dinner table, where each pipe smoking gentleman can bluster with his collection of antique. Each turn every player first decides is he going to go to an antique shop to buy more items or to a castle to present his current collection to earn points. It's also possible to rob other player's items or money and try to catch the thieves. Everything is done by playing cards face down and revealing them simultaneously. Game ends when one gentleman has reached the dinner table and there is final scoring for largest and second largest collection It is much like playing the rock, scissors and paper with little more complicated rules.

The game is very simple and contains a large luck element. If one can correctly ques opponent's moves, he will definitely be the winner. It's not always just blind quessing, like in the rock, scissors and paper, but often it is. The game starts to repeat itself quite fast and does not have too much of a replay value. It has some strategy in it however and it may even be fun, if one can draw the right conclusions about the other players choices. It's best played with five people. Not anything special, but has some potential as a light game and does not require much thinking.
 

Hollywood Blockbuster (Fabrik der Träume)

Rating: 8
Players: 2-5
Game time: Slightly over an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong

Another auction game from Reiner Knizia. Usually I don't care about the theme, but in this case I make an exception. The hollywood theme does not feel as pasted on, but rather fits very well in the game. There is even a CD included which contains appropriate music and at the same time works as an indicator when the game should be finished. But of course the theme alone is not enough to make a game. Fortunately the game works well in other areas also. The idea is to make movies of course. One may try to do quality movies or just some B quality stuff fast. In addition to the best movie awards, the worst movie is awarded and there are many ways to score. The bidding mechanics are somewhat different compared to his other auction games: There is a finite amount of contract chips that are used as the auction markers. When one player wins an auctions and gets some staff for his movie, he pays the pidded sum to other players evenly divided. There is of course some luck because of the random placement of staff to be available for bidding. For people looking a good bidding game with strong theme, Traumfabrik is a splendid Choice.
 

Humpty Dumpty's Wall Game

Rating: 3
Players: 2-10
Game time: 10 minutes
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 25.12.2009

Simple dexterity game aimed for children and does not offer much challenge for adults. The idea is in turns to remove tiles from the wall Humpty Dumpty sits on without causing him to fall. The main problem is that setting up the wall takes much longer than actually playing the game. The box is poorly designed and once the wall skeleton has been put together, the game does not fit inside the box anymore.
 

Die Händler

Rating: 8
Players: 2-4, best with 4
Game time: 3 hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 1.11.2006

The objective of this game is to rise as high as possible in social scale of ranks. This is done with money earned from trading goods. It gets more expensive to achieve ranks, when the game goes on, but there is also higher tax to pay the higher rank one holds. Each player has two special abilities that are auctioned at the beginning of the game. Players buy goods from towns and then carts are used to transport the goods to other towns for sale. Players compete about the cart driver position. The driver may load his good for free and decide do he allow any other players goods in cart and with what price. The prices of goods are constantly changing and one can not be sure how much profit he will be doing with the goods he sells, if any at all.

The game is not a simple one, but not too hard to learn either. There is quite much going on and negotiations with other players are very important. The strategy one plays the game is somewhat dependant from the special abilities he receives at the start of the game. The abilities are not equally valuable and they should be auctioned at the beginning of the game. One may for example concentrate earning many bonus cards with couriers or drivers, which are very powerfull or buy goods cheaper than others with favorable purchasing and try to get better earnings that way. The warehouse selling is almost useless and is always the last pick for the 200. To make it a bit better it should be allowed to sell the products from different warehouses. The social climping cards are a bit too powerfull and are always the first pick. The price to buy advance should be a bit higher than 1200, for example 1800 or such. Timing is a very important issue and one must usually take some risks to win. I would recommend Die Händler for people that like to have lots of player interaction with some strategy and tactical choices.
 

Illuminati, Deluxe edition

Rating: 2
Players: 2-8
Game time: 3-6 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi

Generally I'm not a fan of Steve Jackson's games. Illuminati is no exception. It is better than Muchkin, but both had the same effect on me. Both have the same "this player leads, lets ruin his day" thinking. It needlesly lengthens the game. It might be better with shorter playing time. There is also a little more luck than I would like for a such a long game. Event cards are not very well balanced and it's just luck, who draws them. The idea of the game is quite nice and many Louhi players like it quite a lot, so it has potential, but not for me.
 

Imperial

Rating: 8
Players: 2-6
Game time: 2-3 hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 22.12.2009

Imperial is a bit different wargame, because players are investors and invest into the countries to gain political influence and the controller of each country may change during the game. The game uses similar movement wheel as Antike and the games also share some other mechanics. Where Antike is rather straightforward optimization, Imperial allows nice twists through the changing sides, which makes the game much more interesting. This makes Imperial one of the best wargames I have played.
 

Ingenious (Genial)

Rating: 8
Players: 1-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 30.6.2007

Genial uses similar scoring system as Tigris & Ephrates (the final points are equal to the weakest color). The idea is to place domino like (altough hexagon) tiles on a hexagon grid. The tiles have 6 different symbols and if one places a symbol adjacent to other similar symbols, he will score points equal to the similar symbols in rows on adjacent squares. The game ends when the grid is full.

I like genial. It feels a bit like an Abstract version of Tigris & Euphrates. The luck factor is kept from controlling the game by a very nice tile exchange rule: If one does not have any tiles of his weakest color, he may change all his tiles for free. The tile exchange is one part of the game, one should take into account and play his tiles accordingly. The game issurprisingly deep for having such a simple rules and is in fact quite a brainburner. It is easy to get blocked from a single color and one has to think beyond the next move (if someone gets far behind in one color and the big source gets blocked, it will probably be very hard to get enough of that color later).
 

Inka

Rating: 4
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 11.10.2009

 

Inquisitio

Rating:
Players: 3-5
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine, Louhi
Edited: 23.12.2009

Inquisitio is the first published game of my own design. It would be strange to rate ones own designs and thus I won't rate inquisitio. See Inquisitio pages for more information about the game.
 

In the year of the Dragon

Rating: 9
Players: 2-5
Game time: 1.5 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 4.4.2009

 

Junta

Rating: 4
Players: 2-7
Game time: 4-6 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 23.7.2007

What can one say about Junta. This is probably one of those games most people will have strong opinnion either for or against. The theme is very strong and even the rules have been written accordingly. The players fight for the positions of power (which they try to use to get as much money to their Swiss bank account as possible) in some banana rebublic. Of course coups and assasinations are ordinary part of daily life. Basically how the system works is that one of the players is elected to be a president, who then distributes the generals and other role cards for the remaining players as he chooses. After that he makes a proposition for budget (how to distribute the money for the turn among the players). Players then vote if they accept or reject the budget. After that it is possible to commit assasinations by outguessing the target nad unhappy players may decide to attempt a coup. Dead players are not eliminated from the game, but lose all money, which was not safe in a Swiss account (goes to the killer) and cards they had. If the coup succeeded, rebels choose a new president among themselves.

There are a lot of nice things going for the game, but as a whole, the game does not work that well. The main problem is the too long gametime. The beginning is interesting and fun, but Junta just can not keep up the interest to the end. Luck has a significiant role, because the cards have very varying degree of power (A free trading system is included, but generally I dont like such systems, because they are a mess and one should be constantly shouting to get good trades). In addition, the assassins and fights are somewhat random. Despite these, the luck is not the dicising factor, Junta is a game of diplomacy: You can not win against everybody. Along with theme, the way diplomacy is used is the best part of the game. However, often the game gets to a bash the leader, before he gets the money to bank and the one large sum of money stats to circle from player to player, because the previous owner gets killed. The rules are needlesly complicated and the cards should state more clearly when they can be played (May be corrected in the newer print, I have played with an old one). The game is very chaotic and long time planning is very hard (which fits the theme of course). Junta might be a hit in a right gaming group which enjoy chaotic diplomacy games and are not afraid of the long gametime, but I doubt I will be playing Junta overly much.
 

Kaappikellon Kummitukset

Rating: 1
Players: 2-4
Game time: 90 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 25.12.2009

Kaappikellon Kummitukset resembles Kimble (Trouble). Kimble has some potential as a game for children due to the simplicity, exciting dice thrower and rather short playing time. Kaappikellon Kummitukset basically removes the dice thrower and doubles the gametime. As a result, it loses the only appealing elements of Kimble and I see no reason to play it.
 

Kahuna

Rating: 10
Players: 2
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 17.5.2007

The idea of this two player game is to gain control most of the twelve islands in the game board. This is done with bridges, that connect the islands. There is from three to six possible places for bridges in each island. When one has most of these filled with his own bridges, he gains control of the island and all opponents bridges connecting that island are discarded. Bridges are placed with cards. There is two card for each island, and with that card one can place a bridge connecting the named island to another. Two cards are needed to destroy an opponents bridge. The game last three rounds, with round ending when all cards are drawn from the deck.

At first this one seemed to be a big disappointment. I played a couple of games with the basic rules (one can build bridges in islands other players controls). The game really does not work with these. But then we tried the game with the rules variant (One can only build bridges to islands that don't belong to opponent and when destroying a bridge, you get your own bridge at place, if neither of the islands is controlled by opponent after the bridge is removed). With these the game started to work. You need some strategy and long term planning to win. There is not too much luck, because one can always choose from three face up cards or draw one from deck. Many islands can change control in a single turn and tactical choices are the key to victory. Timing in playing the cards is especially important. If other player gets too far ahead, the player left behind have very hard time catching up. Kahuna is one of my favorite two player games that requires quite a lot of strategic planning.

Tips:
Don't play with the basic rules.
 

Keythedral

Rating: 6
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 14.5.2007

Another optimization game where the goal is to turn different colored cubes to victory points. The theme is about building a cathedral and is as weak as in the Pillars of Earth. Like in Settlers or La Citta, the initial placement is crucial and if you fail that, you have hard time catching on, because others will generate more cubes each turn (altough there are cards and such which can be used against other players). There are a few nice mechanics, like the law cards, which can only be taken as the last action, giving players who got less cubes an advantage. In the whole, however, the game does not offer anything really exiting, just another game in the long list of similar games of which none can compete with the best of the genre (Caylus).
 

Kill Doctor Lucky

Rating: 2
Players: 2-8
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Louhi

 

Kingmaker

Rating:
Players:
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules:
Theme:
Collection: Louhi

 

Kingsburg

Rating: 6
Players: 2-5
Game time: 90 minutes
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 12.1.2008

 

Das Kleine Gespenkt (Pikkuhaamu)

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 13.2.2011

 

King's Gate

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4 (Best with 4)
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

King's gate is another tile laying game from Reiner Knizia. It has quite much in common with Samurai. From these two King's gate is somewhat lighter, requires less thinking and is less dry, but lacks the depth and elegance of Samurai. This time there is no fancy point calculating system typical to Knizia, but just simple points. The idea is to build a city and the gameboard remotely resembles carcassonne. There are ten important buildings and the game ends when either all of the buildings are decided or there is playing pieces left only on one player. The buildings are placed one at a time on the gameboard and then players may play their playing pieces around them. When the building is completely surrounded players receive points based on the values of their pieces around the building and possibly special character tokens that can be used later in the game. the player who played the last piece may set the next building on the board and thus maybe reuse some of his old playing pieces. Each player has six playing pieces at hand at a time and thus there is some luck with the draw. Usually it is possible to overcome the luck element with a clever play. It is also possible to destroy other player's pieces in some cases by building over them or using special dragon tile. The rules are quite easy, but there are some unclear things and the special buildings are hard to remember, because they have no indicators. All in all King's gate is a nice, rather light game, but nothing special and I prefer Samurai over this one.

Tips:
Better to be played with hidden scores, because open scores just result to overanalyzing and overly long games.
 

Knightmare Chess

Rating: 6
Players: 2
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Louhi

 

Kuhhandel

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

Each player is a farmer and tries to collect sets of animals. There is four of each animal card from horse with value of 1000 to a chicken with value of 10. In his turn a player may either turn an animal card from the deck to be auctioned or start a horse-trading with some other player having the same animal card(s). In auction each player may make offers freely except the broker of course. When the price is decided, the broker (the player who turned the card from the deck) may decide do he want to sell the animal and take the money, or buy it himself and give money to the highest bidder. In horse trading the player wanting to trade makes a closed offer for the animal and another player has a choice to accept the offer and risk getting cheated or make counter offer. When counter offer is made each player gets others money and the player whose offer was better gets the animal. The game ends when the deck is empty and all animals are in groups of four. The final score is the value of all sets multiplied with amount of sets.

This game is quite much about bluffing. There is some luck when turning cards for auction, but it has quite mariginal effect on the outcome of the came. One can always offer as much as he wants in auction and if the broker decides to buy the animal no one will know, that the player did not have enough money to pay. There is risk for this of course, because if the broker wants his money and one can't pay, he has to show his money to everybody and the auction will be carried out afgain and this time without him. There is no such thing than change money and if one just has a card of 100 money in his hand and has offered 20 for something, he has to give the 100 for it. Where the outcome of the gane is decided, is the horse trading and who will get the most suffesful trades. Do I trust, that the other player made a decent offer, or is he just bluffing? The worst case is to make a counter offer just slightly below the original, but to take the money without making any counter offer may leave you empty handed too. best case of course is to make a counter offer just slightly above that of your opponent. It definitely helps, if one has some insight of their opponents money. Kuhhandel is a fun game that should not be taken too seriously. It probably won't please everyone though.
 

Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island

Rating: 1
Players: 2-6
Game time: Around an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong

 

La Citta

Rating: 6
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2-3 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 12.1.2008

La Citta is much like a crossing of Settlers of Catan and Civilization. The board is constructed from random triangle tiles representing fields for food, rock for money or water areas. Cities are then build between these triangles. Each player sets two starting tiles as a base for new cities. In each turn, each city produces one new citizen that can be used to man a new building. Another way to get citizens is with cards or building service buildings for one of the three gategories: health care, education or culture. Each turn some of these three gategories is chosen and cities with best services in that gategory will steal one citizen from each neighboring city. Citizens must also be fed with farms and larger buildings require money from mines. The game lasts six rounds after what citizens and towns are counted for victory points.

The initial placement of cities is crucial in La Citta, even more important than in Settlers. It is possible to ruin a game by simple placing ones starting cities in bad places. There is no room for bad mistakes at the beginning of the game either. Because the playing time is quite long (something like three hours with five players), it is very dull to lose the game in first round and then just hang around and look as your cities crumble to dust, unable to do anything to prevent it from happening. Once left behind, there is very little hope to catch on. Unfortunately it is very usual to someone to drop from the game quite soon. One thing to watch out is the food production, because there are severe penalties, if one is unable to feed his citizens. The end game tends to drag because there are too many things to keep track for, especially calculating the amount of citizens is a constant practice. This takes away some of the fun. The rules require some learning, but are not too complicated. Quite much strategic planning is required especially in the beginning.

Tips:
Make sure you have at least one strong city that has enough food production.
Try to concentrate on one city and build other cities in less competed areas.
 

Lawless

Rating: 4
Players: 2-6
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 15.5.2007

The players are ranch owners, who try to grow cattle and earn some money in the process. Each player has 6 action points to use each turn, which can be used to draw cards and play them. At the end of game, points are awarded in 6 gategories: the cows, pastures, cowboys and money so that the winner of each gategory gets 5 points, second 3, then 2 and 1. So basically we have an optimization game. Still, the game is very chaotic and long term planning is very hard, because players may directly hurt each other too much. A lot of dice rolling is also done and luck plays a significant role. So in the end, we have a game which is too heavy for a light filler game, because it allows analysis and optimization, but none of that really matters because of the chaos and luck, and the game falls short for a strategic game too. I generally hate mechanics that allow players to kingmake by directly hurting a specific player and lawless is full of such cards. For western themed card games I recommend Bang! as a filler game instead. Also Wyat Earp is somewhat better game (altough not my favorite either, because has some similar problems as Lawless). For positive side the theme is strong and the artwork very nice.
 

League of Six

Rating: 8
Players: 3-5
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Edited: 23.12.2009

 

Le Havre

Rating: 9
Players: 1-5
Game time: 3-4 hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.2.2011

 

Leonardo Da Vinci (Maestro leonardo)

Rating: 7
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 21.10.2007

In Leonardo Da Vinci players build inventions and try to get rich as a result. The game consists of 7 rounds and 2 extra building rounds. Each round players use assistant tokens and a master token (worth of 2 assistants) to bid againts others for various resources required for building the inventions or use the manpower to actually build them. The inventions require components (5 different types available) and a certain amount of man hours to finish.

Leonardo is a heavy optimization game and to play well, one has to keep track a lot of things all the time. In this respect the game resembles a bit Power Grid: You must have the required amount of resources at the right places at right time. A small mistake may cost you a great deal. For this reason turns tend to take quite long, one just can't afford to miscalculate. Only luck element is in the order of invention cards, but with carefull planning it is negligible. Of course one has to keep close eye on the progress of other players inventions to make sure to not let them invent the same inventions you are doing before you, but again in most cases one can deduct what they are building and how fast it will be ready, it just takes time and effort. In the pidding phase players may decide to screw you good, especially if you are out of cash, but again with a carefull analysis of the situation one can usually plan a safe strategy. Of course if other players decide to ruin your day in union, they can do it. If you are looking for a fun and light game, Leonardo is definitely not the game for you. To win, you have to work for it. Still it has some nice mechanics and a good overall feeling which lift it above average in the optimization genre, altough not on the top.

 

Liar's Dice (Bluff)

Rating: 8
Players: 2-6, best with 6
Game time: About 15 minutes
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 14.6.2007
Collection: Mine

Bluff has very simple rules and plays fast. At start each player has five dice. Each dice has numbers normally from one to five but the the six is replaced by a star. All players throw their dices and keep the result secret under a cup. then starting player makes a ques of how many of some number are there when all dices are counted together. Each player must then in turn either raise the ques or check. When checked, if there was more of that number, the checker loses dices equal to differennce. If the amount was less than quessed, the player making the ques loses dices. if the amount was just that quessed, all other players but the quesser loses one dice. The stars are counted as any number. The last player having dices is the winner.

For such a simple game it is suprisinly entertaining. It has quite much luck, but like in Kuhhandel, bluffing has the main role here. It also helps, if one knows the basics of probability counting. It is not much fun with two players and really starts to shine with four to six. The more the merrier. I have the german version and it has also english rules included. Unfortunatelu there are some mistakes and I had to check some parts from the german version. Bluff is a very light game and excellent filler as games usually take much less than half an hour. Very good for non-gamers also.
 

Light Speed

Rating: 8
Players: 2-4
Game time: 10 minutes
Luck factor: Quite Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 18.11.2007

Light speed is probably the first game from Cheapass which has surprised me positively. There is a certain amount of ingenuity in the very simple gamesystem. The idea is simply that all players have a identical set of 10 spaceship cards in hand and they can freely place them on the table. When first one runs out of cards, the game is done and all cards not played remain unplayed. After that each ship uses its cannons in numerical order and destroyed enemy ships and hits to asteroid (given that the ship stays alive) constitute points, while destroyed own ships give minuses. The card placement is very fast (one minute or even less), but the calculation of hits takes a bit longer. The game obviously does not offer strategic depth, but for a easy and fast filler it is surprisingly good and sees regular plays in our group.
 

Lord of the Rings

Rating: 6
Players: 2-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong

Lord of the Rings is a very original game. The players do not play against each other, but instead co-operate against the game and try to destroy the one ring before Sauron gets it to his hands. Each player receives a hobbit which all have some special power. The game consists of several boards. The boards can be played faster to minimize risks or try to maximize benefits and points and risks are of course greater too. Also Gandalf can be called to help in a time of need, but this decreases the final score. Lord of the Rings is quite a nice game to be played for the first few games, and occasionally later, but the replay value is quite poor after players learn the game. In the end all boils down to the luck of the draw. One may try to optimize the score and it is possible to increase the difficulty level of the game giving it a little more lifetime.
 

Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation and Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation: Deluxe Edition

Rating: 9
Players: 2
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 17.5.2007

Frodo tries to reach Mordor with the help of the fellowship of the ring to destroy the one ring. Of course Mordor does not want that to happen and the black team consists of nine evil characters that try to catch Frodo. The basic system works like in Stratego where each player secretly sets his initial placement of characters. In turn the players then move characters and if white and black character end up in the same square a battle occurs. Each character has a special power. Generally the black characters are stronger in battle, but white characters have some special powers to negate these effects. For each battle a card is played by both players to cause some special effects. Both players also have two special cards that may be played once in the game. These can be used to give advantage to worse player by leaving some out of the game.

LOTR: the Confrontation is one of the better two player games. Some bluffing is needed along with good strategic choices. There is just right amount of luck involved so that the game won't start repeating itself. Because the sides have different goals and characters, they need different way of playing. The game is quite well balanced, altough it seems that white is winning more often with experienced players. This is not a problem, because black always has a change and in my mind is even more interesting to play because of the challenge. If one side or the other seems too powerful the special cards can be used to balance things. Usually the games are fast but some people tend to overanalyze which needlesly lenghtens the game. I recommend LOTR: the Confrontation to anyone planning to buy a good game for two players.

The deluxe edition includes the basic game but also a new alternate version for each character. These are just the thing which was needed, since after a lot of plays, the basic game started to need some twist so that the decisions would not be too straigthforfard. With the new characters a lot of different character combinations can be fashioned and this really gives a new life to the game. Especially, when played so that players do not know which combination of characters the opponent has chosen. The game also includes 4 new special cards, which again give new options for the players. My only complaint for the deluxe version is that it was published in such a huge box. I would have preferred an extension for the basic game or at least similar small package. (I generally prefer small boxes because they take less room in my already full gameshelf, are easier to transport and usually are cheaper also). The huge size does not offer anything extra for the game. It is rather easy to craft oneself a deluxe edition from the basic game which fits to the small box, but I would like to see also a real expansion published. If the large size is not a problem, the Deluxe edition of LOTR: the confrontation is definitely a worthy buy.
 

Lost Cities (Kadonneet kaupungit)

Rating: 8
Players: 2
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

 

Lost Valley

Rating: 7
Players: 3-4
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.12.2006

 

Louis XIV

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

Louis XIV is situated in the court of the Sun king. Players try to complete various missions by influencing court members and the Louis himself. Each round players in turn place several influence markers on the 12 different court members to gain benefits. The one with most markers will gain the benefit for free, but lose his markers. other players who have less markers in the court member do not lose the markers, but depending on the case either get no reward or have to pay for it. The get the lost markers back players have to use some of the cards that are used to place the influence markers for that purpose. After the bribing is done players use the tokens collected from the court mebers to play mission cards to the table. These give benefits in the later rounds and also give points at the end. Another way of gaining points are the coat of arms tokens that can be also acquired from some of the court members. The game ends after four rounds.

Louis XIV is a good game. Still there are some small shortcomings. The basic system is very nice, because winning a court members is usually a good thing but if one loses too many influence markers in the process he will be able to play less markers in the next round. One may also try to get the needed things with money playing only one marker for each place. Then he will not lose the markers and thus be in better situation next round. The court members have two sides (and are flipped if someone wins the particular member) and somethimes the pribing does not work, so winning is the only option to get what one wants. Some of the members also have a condition where every player who plays a certain amount of markers gets the benefit. Since different missions need different markers to carry out and the randomly drawn influence cards somewhat decide how one can play the markers, it takes some pondering to decide the best way to distribute the markers and also optimize ones money. Still luck is not usually a deciding factor and the other players doings have bigger role. The basic idea here is to win as many members as cheaply as possible making sure that one has the right kinds of tokens to complete the missin(s) in hand. The theme is not very strong and some of the rules are not very elegant. I don't especially like the somewhat needles (though rather small) random factor of the cout of arms token lottery at the end, where one gets extra points if he has a largest sets of each kind of tokens, since players have no control what types of tokens they draw during the game. It seems that the card material is not very good and after a few games they start to seem somewhat worn out. Unfortunately the cards are too small to use anykind of shields.
 

Ludus Gladiatorius

Rating: 4
Players: 2-5 (does not work with 3 or 5)
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong

In ludus Gladiatorius players control a teams of gladiators (with 2 or 4 players) or individual gladiators (with 3 or 5 players) which do battle. The gladiators have a bit different statistics (speed and health) and set of different special attacks. To keep track of the used special attacks a pen and a paper is needed. Rightly timed special attacks have some impact, but in the end the game purely decided by dice throws. In the version I played, there was an annoying color misprint: all the different dices were white and thus hard to distinguish from each other. The best thing about the game are definitely the nice figures, otherwise ludus Gladiatorius does not offer anything special.
 

Löwenherz

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

In Löwenherz players are princes that all want to be the king after the old king dies. To prove their worth they must conguer as much of the area as possible. The board is constructed randomly from six pieces and is thus slightly different in different games. There is a deck of cards that keep the game going. Each card allows three actions to be performed and players in turn state which action they would like to do. If there is a conflict tha players involved can negotiate and offer some amount of money to the other for the right to do the action. It is also possible to take a duel when both players blindly make an offer and the winner gets the action and pays the money to the bank and loser gets nothing. Actions are either to set borders, set knights, take action card or expand ones area. At first the players don't have any area, so the borders are needed. The larger area a player manages to border, the more points he will gain. The catch is that if he is unable to defend his area with knights other players may expand to his area and in worst case he will lose more points than he gained with the area at first place. The game ends when a king is dead card is turned. The card is among the four last cards of the deck, so the exact ending turn is not known beforehand.

Löwnehertz is a nice game to be played every now and then, but it does not have anything special to be selected over other games. There is quite much strategic choices to be made. Because the exact time of game ending is not known it is often the case that different player would win the game depending on turn when the king actually dies. If you are planning to buy Löwenherz there has been published a newer version with modified rules in the name of Domaine. I have not played that myself, but generally it seems to be considered slightly better version. All in all Löwenherz is an average game, nothing seriously wrong but just does not call to be played very often. Don't expect too much and you will not be disappointed.
 

Die Macher

Rating: 8
Players: 3-4
Game time: 4 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 23.7.2007

 

Machiavelli

Rating:
Players:
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules:
Theme:
Collection: Louhi

 

Magic the Gathering

Rating: 6 (Depends on decks)
Players: 2-6
Game time: 10-30 minutes/per game
Luck factor: Average (depends on decks)
Heaviness: Quite heavy (depends on decks)
Complexity of rules: Complex (depends on decks)
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.11.2006

I no longer play magic actively and thus I'm willing to sell my cards. Take a look on my Have list and make an offer.
Magic the gathering is The oldest and most well know collectible card game. It is very addictive. It can be quite expensive if one wants to have all the new cards because a new set is published three times a year (or something like that). Usually most of the bought cards are rubbish and only a small portion will ever enter a deck. That was the reason for me to quit playing magic. (Or atleast buying new cards). The game itself can be very fun or very boring depending solely on the played decks. It is possible to make "killer" decks that are too powerful and take all fun out of the game because only other equally good (and usually expensive) decks have any change against them. This does not leave enough room for inventing new, different and fun decks. Still if the power level of the decks is somehow agreed beforehand and all have quite equal decks the game can be extremely fun.
 

Maharaja

Rating: 8 (with house rules)
Players: 2-5
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 22.4.2007

In Maharaja players compete to be to first to build all of his 7 palaces. Palace building is of course expensive and some money needs to be earned first. There are 7 cities that are scored each in turn (players can affect the order). The players earn money based on their relative presence in each city. Presence is gained by building houses and palaces in cities. To build in a city, the player needs to have his builder present and to move a builder in city, there must be houses along the way in each town. If they are your own, the travelling is free, otherwise you must pay tax to the owner of the house you pass through. There are also character cards which give special advantages and determine the turn order. Also the roles can be changed and while changing cleverly a player may take the advantage of both of the characters.

After the first game of Maharaja, the game seemed excellent, but after a few games my opinnion has decreased slightly. There are some similarities to El Grande: Maharaja is an clever game with a lots of tough decisions. Still it feels somehow not as captivating as it should be. It seems that the number 1 character is very strong in the first round. (because the first players gets to build a palace in the center square of the first city that is scored and thus usually wins it getting money for the second palace straight away). Thus the players should bid for the characters instead of random selection. After the first round the small numbered characters are usually not wanted and the real choices are the characters 5,6 and 7, which change hands constantly. Often the game is solved by the character choices, because it may be a huge disadvantage, if someone takes from you some of the high numbered characters you planned to use that turn. Even worse, you usually end up getting smaller numbered character yourself meaning that you have to play your turn before some of your adversaries. The advantage of winning the ties with smaller numbered characters is usually not enough compared to the better advantages and especially the change to play later and thus see what your adversaries are doing with the larger numbered characters. This means that very often the another one of your moves has to be the character change. For these reasons the game seem to work better with a house rule to allow a player to use only one special ability each turn, meaning that if you change the character, you cannot use both of the characters abilities, but have to choose only one. This solves most of the descriped problems and also makes the character change sligthly less used option. Another issue with the game is the downtime: With certain people the turns can take rather long (still not as long as in Torres). Despite of its shortcomings, Maharaja is not a bad game and will probably be played regularly enough. The character changes can be seen as a way to hurt other players and to prevent a total chatastrophe you can always do the change by yourself too. I like to play the game with all of the 7 characters included. The game requires quite much of thinking and also some bluffing is essential.

Tips:
The two roads in the sides need only 1 house to complete a road between 2 cities and it is often a good idea to get atleast 1 of these at the start.
If some player wants to ruin the game, he can do it by just running around with the character 4 to give endless amount of money to some player and thus some limitations should be agreed for that character.
 

Mahjong

Rating: 5
Players: 4
Game time: about an hour/round (full game is 4 rounds)
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Louhi

Chinese classic. There seems to be a lot of different rulesets available. I have only played with the ones that game with the package (not sure which version).
 

Manhattan

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak

 

Manila

Rating: 5
Players: 3-5
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 27.6.2007

 

Maskenball der Käfer

Rating: 3
Players: 2-5
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.2.2011

a cooperative Childrens game about ladybugs preparing for party and thus exchanging dots with each other to have all different colors. The game itself is very simple: Players in turn select a ladybug and take it to another in order to decide if they are willing to exchange dots. Each ladybug has a magnet, whose polarization either make them connect or turn away from each other. Children find this very funny and thus the game works rather nicely for them, but for adults it offers little.
 

Mare Nostrum

Rating: 5
Players: 3-5 (best with 5)
Game time: 2-4 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong

In Mare Nostrum players command one of the great anciant kingdoms around the Mediterranean. Each kingdom starts with a famous leader with some special power. For example Julius Caesar of Romans can build armies cheaper. There are three phases in every round and for each space there is a leader. At first players collect their income: taxes from cities and commodities from caravan lines. After that there is a trading phasea and the trading master decides how much trading is done if any at all. The second phase is a building phase where political leader gets to decide the building order. The taxes and commodities can be used to build military, buildings that generate income or leaders/wonders. The last phase is the military phase. Military leader decides the order of unit movement and wars are also fought in this space. The game ends when a player manages to achieve a total of four leaders/wonders or some player manages to build a pyramid. According to the original rules the political leader gets to decide the winner in a case when more than one player is able to build fourth leader/wonder in the same turn. We usually use a house rule where pyramid always wins, if build in the same turn as 4 other leaders/wonders. In addition the political leader only can state himself the winner and otherwise it is a draw between all players that completed the 4th leader/winner that turn.

At first glance Mare nostrum seemed to be a great game. After a few games the shortcomings become more apparent. First of all, the game is not balanced. It seems that Rome and Egypt have the best Leader abilities and starting positions. After a few games the board starts to feel also quite manuscripted. there is a quite obvious strategy for each kingdom to follow. The game works better with a house rule to allow the ships to block other players transporting ground units. Still even with this rule Rome and Egypt seem stronger than others. Because there is a large diplomacy element it is possible to keep Egypt and Rome at bay by other players. Often it costs the player a victory to wage a war, but it is also possible to gain much with right timed attack. If Greece and Babylon wage a war against each other Rome or Egypt are almost sure winners, so they should form somekind of a pact. Unfortunately the board encourages babylon to reach for greece. All in all, despite its weaknesses Mare Nostrum is a playable game every now and then.
 

Medici

Rating: 6
Players: 3-6
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak

Every player has some money and a ship with five gargo spaces. In turn each player turns one to three product cards for auction. When ships are full or deck of products is empty, round ends and scores are calculated. One can not bid a set of products, that would not fit to his ship. The player with most valuable ship gets some money, second a litle less and so on, with the last getting nothing. Another way to get money is to advance the product pyramids with buying same kinds of goods. The game last three rounds.

In the auctions each player gets only one bid and the player who turned the cards bids last. The one with most money after three turns wins the game, so overbidding just consumes your winning points, but if you don't bid enough, someone else might get the goods too cheaply. When other players have filled or almost filled their ships, someone may get goods very cheaply when turning so many cards that others can't pid, but of course these rarely are the best cards the player could have. If nobody bids, the cards are discarded. There is only as many extra cards as players, so someone will not get his ship full if too many cards are discarded.

There is quite much luck in this game, but tactical choices also have a role here. Unfortunately after a few games, it becames quite obvious, what one should do. So with experienced players it turns to be more of a luck game. Money is marked with marker running around the gameboard, which is a very good idea, because if there were paper money, it would be more of a mess. There have been complaints about the quality of the Rio Grande version. I don't see any problems with it, but I have never seen the german version, so it might be even higher quality. This is one of the few games for as much as six players but works well with four or five too and playable even with three. The luck element will be more signifiant with less players. For anyone liking auction games Medici is not a bad choice. Still Knizia's other auction games, Modern art, Ra and Traumfabrik are all even better.

Tips:
Try to focus only a few of the product pyramids instead of advancing all of them.
When turning cards, think carefully how many you will turn. Remember that you are the last bidder and players with only one or two free spaces in their ship can't pid if there is more cards.
 

Memoir '44

Rating: 7
Players: 2(-8)
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong

 

Metro

Rating: 4
Players: 2-6
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 15.11.2006

Metro is a simple tilelaying game where the goal is to connect own stations to others by using as long route as possible. The game has much in Common with Carcassonne, but the tiles are less varied (contain only different shapes of rails). While carcassonne is more about building one's own areas in Metro it is easier to ruin other players routes. Thematically it is a little strange to award a player from the most comlicated routes, since one would imagine direct routes to be more preferable. I will play Metro, if there is nothing better around, but it really does not offer anything special and I would recommend something from the Carcassonne family instead, if you are looking for a Pipeman game.
 

Meuterer

Rating: 7
Players: 3-4 (Best with 4)
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

Meuterer is a sequel to Verräter and the games have quite much in common. Both have similar gameboard constructed of cards laid in ring shape and quite similar role choosing system as in Ohne Fucht und Adel. Compared to Verräter, Meuterer is somewhat lighter. As Verräter, Meuterer does not work well with 3 players. In meuterer the cards in circle represents the harbours the ship may visit. The captain does not secretly select his role card, but instead his job is permanent and known as long as a mutiny occurs and a new captain is selected. In case of mutiny, there is two sides: The captain and boatswain against the mutineer and ship's boy. The winning side decides the destination of the boat (indirectly with amount of played cards) and gets some victory points. Also, if the mutineer wins, he will become the new captain. Victory points are also gained by selling commodities to the Harbours and the rolecard merchant helps with that. The loading clerk rolecard gives the player larger selection of cards from which to select. The game ends after 8 rounds. Meuterer has small package and is thus easy to transport anywhere. There is some luck because of the random card draw, but usually bad cards can be countered with a good play. All in all Meuterer is a good and fun little cardgame which has not seen as much playings as it should because Ohne Furcht und Adel often gets picked instead.
 

Mini Inkognito

Rating: 6
Players: 3-5
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 17.7.2007

Mini Inkognito is a light and fast deduction game. Players form two teams of secret agents who are a bit too secret to even know their own teammates. Each know their own character and one part of a secret telephone number. Players play location cards and when they enter into a same square with another player or the governor, they gain information by showing cards to each other. Once someone manages to deduce the number and the identity of his teammate, they must once again en up into the same location to make the call and win the game.

The game is very simple and it usually does not take many meetings to deduce the required information. There is quite much luck, since the governor moves randomly and information exchange can only happen if either 2 players are alone in a location, or one players is alone with the governor in a location. In addition, the cards the palyers decide to show play a large role, since with some combinations the deduction is much easier than with others and the combinations are random at the start. The system is still quite clever and amuses for a few games, but might grow tiresome eventually. One must make copies of the deduction helper sheets, since only a few come with the game.
 

Mississippi Queen

Rating: 5
Players: 3-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 17.11.2007

 

Modern Art

Rating: 8
Players: 2-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 30.6.2007

In modern art the players buy and sell art and try to get rich in the process. Each player in turn starts an auction by playing a painting from his hand. The type of the auction depends on the card and may be once a round, free bidding, fixed price etc. There is four rounds and after each the 3 most common artists pay money and other paintings are worthless. Also the paintings that were popular get extra value for later rounds if they are again amongst the 3 most common.

Modern art is part of the Reiner Knizia's auction series. There is some luck involved, because of the random painting cards that are dealt, especially the double auction cards are very valuable. Compared to Ra or Medici, the game is somewhat heavier. If you are looking an auction game, Modern art is definitely a good candidate.
 

Monopoly

Rating: 2
Players: 2-8
Game time: 3 hours
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral

 

Monza

Rating: 5
Players: 2-6
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.2.2011

Rather simple car racing game for children. Players move by throwing colored dices. It is also possible to block others, which gives a slight tactical element to the game. Ok racing game for kids, but somewhat too simple for adults.
 

Mr. Jack

Rating: 7
Players: 2
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 11.10.2009

 

Munchkin + Unnatural Axe expansion

Rating: 1
Players: 2-8
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi

Best use for this game is to read the cards through once and have some good laughs. The game itself is just horrible. The rules are very tangled and there is no such thing as game balance. When one tries to do something, others just fuck it up. This goes on about an hour or more. No skill required, just luck. I have played only one game, and i actually won. I was not happy because of winning but just because it was finally over. Won't play this one again, or maybe sometime when I'm drunk enough...
 

Muumien Purnukkajahti

Rating: 1
Players: 2-4
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.2.2011

Basically throw and move game for children with an annoying gameboard, that has to be always constructed before game from puzzle pieces. Nothing special here, a disappointment even as a childrens game.
 

Mu und Mehr

Rating: 5
Players: 2-8
Game time: About an hour (depends on played game)
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.11.2006

A collection of 5 trick taking games with a non standard deck of cards. Most of them are just a slightly modified versions from the games played with the standard 52 play cards set. Some of them are rather decent if you like the genre.
 

Mykerinos

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Edited: 15.8.2008

 

Mystery of the Abbey

Rating: 6
Players: 3-6
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine

Murder in the abbey is a deduction game where the goal of all players is to find the murderer. To accomplish this players move around the abbey and ask questions to other players whenever they enter the same room. First one of the monk cards is removed (the murderer) and then each player receives a set of characters to their hands. After each four round there is a mass and some of the cards in players hands are circulated. Players may also visit different rooms in the monastery to gain benefits, like extra cards, extra turns etc. For players who enjoy deduction games Murder in the Abbey is probably a good choice. I don't like the game that much but there are some nice ideas, like the event that makes all players to speak in Gregorian tone, and thus the game is at best when not taken too seriously.

Tips:
Often in the endgame more than 1 players simultaneously find out the murderer in a Mass. This means that the winner will be the player who can first run to the chapter hall to make the accusation. It makes the game more interesting to allow each other player (if they choose to) make an secret accusation before the accusor reveals who he accuses. These secret accusations are revealed after the accuser makes the accusation and count for +2 points for right accusation and -1 (or even -2) for false. If no-one accused the murderer all false accusers will get penance.
 

Nacht der Magier (Velhojen yö)

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.2.2011

A dexterity game for children using pieces that glow in the dark. It is meant to be played in a dark room, which makes it the favourite of our 4 years old. The idea is simply to take turns in an attempt to push one of the players own cauldrons to the ring in the middle of the board without dropping any of the other pieces in the fully stuffed board. A players turn ends, when something drops. The game would be nothing special when played in daylight, but for kids the glowing parts and darkness make it very exiting.
 

Niagara

Rating: 8
Players: 2-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.5.2007

The coolest thing in Niagara is the nice river mechanism, which uses plastic discs to simulate the flowing of the river. Usually the mechanism works nicely, even though sometimes the discs tend to get stuck. It also adds a nice random element since in most cases it flows nicely every other disc in either of the branches. However sometimes the system decides to flow several times in a row to one branch, which may cause some canoe wreckages and keeps the exitement up since one is newer totally sure if the canoe will survive or not. The basic idea is to use 2 canoes to collect gems along the river. The paddling is done by simultaneously playing paddle chips with 1-6 movement and a weather changing chip (which affects how fast the river floats).

I basically like the game. Because all of the paddle cards have to be used before one gets them back, some long term planning is required. One must also always keep an eye on the other players not to allow them an easy victory. It often happens that someone is winning and only one player has change to prevent that, so he is forced to act. This may not please all players. The unique river flowing mechanism gives the game strong thematic feeling. The gem colors are a bit too similar and hard to separate sometimes.

Tips:
In 3 player game there should only be 6 gems in each place at the beginning, because otherwise it gets too easy to get the 4 similar gems from the violet or clear sets.
 

Nils Holgersson (Peukaloisen Retket)

Rating: 3
Players: 2-6
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Strong

Nils Holgersson is quite a simple roll & move game where the aimis to visit places from the tales of Nils Holgerson in right order. There are a few alternate routes between the places. In addition Smirne the fox can be used to block other player's routes and random event cards mix the coctail a little more. It helps if a player is able to memorize tha already scored places. The game is clearly aimed for children but it is not pure luck and a careful planning of a route increases ones change for victory, but can not alltogether compensate the poor dice rolls.
 

Nomads of Arabia

Rating: 4
Players: 3-6
Game time: 1+ hours
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Edited: 9.3.2008

Nomads of Arabia is very random due to a lot of dice rolling. The game ends when enough landscape strips have been shifted and the shifting happens when one animal type runs out. However, players may call more animals to the map. This makes it harder to predict the gametime and I'm afrais that a game may last much longer than the one hour. My one try with this one will likely also be the last. Alltough the components are of high quality and beatiful, the game mechanics felt lacking.
 

No Thanks! (Geschenkt)

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.12.2006

 

Nuclear War + Weapons of Mass Destruction

Rating: 1
Players: 2-6
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Strong

Nuclear war is idiotically simple and totally luck based game where the players have very little control over what happens. For me this makes the game just pointless and boring. The only decision to be made is to whom to shoot the bombs. Luckily the gametime is rather short.
 

Oasis

Rating: 4
Players: 3-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak

 

Odin's Ravens

Rating: 5
Players: 2
Game time: half an hour/round
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

In odin's ravens players race with Hugin and Munin. The game is quite simple: first a track is constructed using two sided cards with different landscapes. Hugin uses the other side of cards and Munin the another. Players have 5 cards in hand and during one's turn he is allowed to play 3 of these. They can be used directly to advance the raven in the track by playing suitable landscape cards. In addition there are Odin cards that has some special powers, like adding, removing or moving the landscape cards. It is possible to move more than one space with only one card, if there are many similar landscapes in a row. Another option is to play cards in an auxiliarity stack from where they can be played in addition the 3 cards from hand. The player who gets to the goal first gets as many points as hes raven was leading at the point. However there are also magic way cards that can be acquired by playing appropriate card from hand and they give 3 points to the player who owns most of them. So the one who enters the goal first may in fact gain less points, if he has less magic way cards. The game is in several rounds until another player acquires a total of 12 points.

I was slightly disappointed with Odin's Ravens. The game is not totally bad, but I dont't have any urge to play it very often either. There is nothing seriously wrong with the game, but it just feels somewhat dull and thus does not have that much replay value. The luck of a draw has a significant role, but the magic way cards, auxiliary stack and the option to add cards to the end of line give some possibilities to try to counter a bad draw. Still even with the tactical elements the decisions seem a little too straightforward and the game lacks any bluffing element. The starting player has a large advantage and thus there is no point playing only one round, which makes the game take a little too long for what it offers. If the game is played to 12 points, the player not leading will start the next round. It is also possible to play 2 rounds with different players starting.
 

Oltre Mare

Rating: 6
Players: 2-5
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 12.1.2008

 

Oregon

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: 90 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Edited: 23.2.2010

 

Origo

Rating: 5
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 21.10.2007

 

Osiris

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

Osiris is a very strange game. The idea is to figure out what egyptian god symbol is below the pyramid and on the quit move one's own supporters there. The game is a kind of deduction game where each player has 3 high priest with a different god symbol each. Each player knows only the symbols below his own priests. The priests may take battles and then both of the players see the opponents god and the loser (the one, who has lesser followers in his god) is sent back to home. To move in the pyramid priests use power markers: when one priest moves, he must use all of his markers and they are then distributed evenly to the next priests in line. The game ends when one of the priests reach the top of pyramid or the pyramid becomes blocked so, that no-one is anymore able to reach the top. The winner is the player having most followers in the god below the pyramid.

I'm still somewhat confused about this game. There is definitely some strategy, but often playing Osiris feels that first players do some moves almost randomly and in the end it comes down to who made the best quess. Still with clever planning it is possible to at least make enlightened quesses and some bluffing is possible. Also detective work is needed to quess are opponents placing their followers to support their priests in battle, do they have some insight of the god under the pyramid or are they just randomly moving their followers. I have a german version of the game and there are quite a lot of mistakes in the english rules translation in Boardgamegeek. Thus some translating work needed to be done before we managed to get the rules (hopefully) right.
 

O Zoo le Mio

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 24.12.2009

 

Pandemic

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Edited: 23.12.2009

 

Pass the Pigs (Heitä Sikaa)

Rating: 3
Players: 2
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine

A simple game with pigs as a dices.
 

Perikles

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 12.11.2006

I have only played one game of Perikles this far. The game has some similarities to Wallace's another game, Princes of the reneissance. At the moment, Perikles seems to be the inferior of these two. The problem for me is that in the initial area control as well as in the battle phase players constantly have to decide who to bully and who to let gain the benefits, which may become frustrating. Otherwise the game seems rather good. Hopefully I will have a change to play it again and see if there is more in Perikles than it initially seems. Basically the players first bid cubes to gain control of the different cities of ancient Creek. The controller then gets to use the armies of the city to attack or defend in the various battles that happen. The winner of a battle gets victory points and if the attacker wins, the attacked city gets damage, which decreases its value and may eventually lead to destruction of the city.
 

Pictionary

Rating: 3
Players: 3-16
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine

In pictionary there are teams of two people. The other draws a picture and the other tries to gues what it presents. If the correct answer is not achieved within a given time the turn circles to the next pair otherwise the pair may throw a dice and advance. Most of the words are quite easy and in most cases a group can advance many times during one turn. The gategory of a word is decided by the the board. The reason why I dont like the game that much is that there are squares that all draw the picture and the pair who is the fastest will advance. Now if some group is lucky they never get these all draw squares (or cards) while others may get stuck to them for long time and always lose their turn.
 

Pillars of the Earth (Taivaan Pilarit)

Rating: 4
Players: 2-4 (too random for 4, better with 3)
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 30.7.2007

In Pillars of the Earth, players build a cathedral by converting raw materials to victory points with builder cards, which can be upgraded to give better rate of conversion. Each turn players start by acquiring raw materials by placing workers and upgrading builders with money. This is done in turn order, so the starting player has an advantage. After that players markers are put into bag and drawn in a random order. the markers are used to get different advantages from the board, like extra resources/money, better builders, special cards, victory points etc. The first players whose marker was drawn, must pay 7 money to place the marker or pass (and gets to place it after all markers have been drawn), the next pays 6 money and so on. After 6 rounds, the game ends and the player with most victory points wins.

Pillars of the Earth has a bit similar feel than Caylus, but it is worse game in all respects. The main problem is a too large luck factor for a optimization game. It is frustrating to try to optimize your points to be let down by the random order of which your markers are drawn from the sack and which you have wery little control over. The last round is crucial and more often than not, the order decides the victor. Basically the 4 player game is too random, because if you get to place your pawns last, there will be wery few meaningfull places left. The game works better with 3 players, but still I simply hate the sack drawing order mechanic. The theme feels pasted and the nice cathedral components are just used for turn counters and basically needles. For me, the game was a disappointment: It is not particularly fun, but falls short also in the brainburner gategory and playing it just feels waste of time. I recommend to skip this and go for Caylus instead.
 

Pirate's Cove

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine

In Pirate's Cove players are pirate captains who try to upgrade their ships and gain fame and fortune. The basic system is rather simple. There are 6 islands + the Pirate's cove, which is a pirate sanctuary, where a pirate who loses a battle may go to repair his ship. Each player uses a wheel to secretly decide where to sail each turn. If more than one pirate end up in the same island, there will be a battle and only one victor. In the islands players gain some loot and may upgrade sections of their ships. In tavern island players may buy cards and in the treasure island players may bury gained treasures in a pirate style to gain fame points. (Could you think of better use of stolen treasures than bury them in a desolate island?) There is also a legendary pirate circling around the table (like Blackbeard or The Flying Dutchman). Players may also battle these, but usually it takes more than one player to sink the rather nasty pirates. The game lasts 12 rounds after which the player with most fame will be declared the winner.

The theme feels very strong in Pirate's Cove and one easily forgives some of the minor flaws and imbalances. After all the life of a pirate was not fair or easy. The main thing is toques where other players are going. If one has a weak ship, he wants to avoid fights and with a strong ship figths are a nice way to earn some extra fame points. Of course the fights are decided with a dice, and sometimes the weaker ship may take a surprise win by favorable dice or good cards. Unfortunately it seems that often a player loses a few battles in a row and is left behind the others because his ship does not get upgraded and he will stay weak until the end of game with little hope of catching up. For this reason we have tested a number of ways to improve the situation of a player losing a battle. Currently best house rule is to simply change the repairing of crippled section to move the strength marker to the third row (the cost stays the same 2 money). Now the player gets considerable more durable ship for the next round and is better able to defend himself.

The rules are generally a bit tangled (we are still somewhat unsure if we are playing all the card correctly) and one can think of a lot of minor improvements. For example it might be a good idea to scale the strength of the legendary pirates and/or royal navy during the game, so that we would see some legendary pirate battless before the last round of the game. The Royal Navy is a bit weak against a well upgraded ship and definitely against multiple ships. Thus it would be a good idea to allow the player who played the navy to play battle and volley cards for the navy. It might be an interesting idea to also try random legendary pirate movement as a variant. We usually play with the rule that there may be more than one mastercraft cards in one ship (though not in one section). This usually helps the weak ships a bit more than strong ones and makes the game more balanced. However I think that it should not be allowed to have both, parrot and mastercraft in the same section. If one wants more cutthroat battles the probability for mutiny could be increased to happen with rolls 1 or 2 instead of the normal 1 or make a penalty of 1 fame for each voluntary retreat.

The most important things going for the Pirate's cove are the Strong theme, beautiful external appearance and most importantly the game is fun to play. Dice rolls, random card draws and blind quessing make the luck definitely a big factor, but it is always possibly to do some deduction where the others are going (which usually miserably fails for me:)). Some of the cards can be rather nastily played against one unlucky player and if there are more than 2 pirates participating in a fight, it usually turns into a 2 against 1 fight first. Thus some negation skills are necessary. All in all pirate's cove can be recommended if you are looking for a fun Pirate themed game and are ready to accept that sometimes your but just gets kicked no matter how hard you try:)
 

Pitch Car (Carabande)

Rating: 7
Players: 2-8
Game time: 10-40 minutes
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Strong
Edited: 16.3.2008

Pitch Car is a dexterity game of racing. Each player has round wooden discs resembling the cars. In turn, each tries to hit his piece so that it moves as far as possible along a wooden race track. If the piece happens to drop out of the track (or moves otherwise illegally), it is returned to the starting place and the round is lost. First a trial round is done so that each player just runs his piece around the track once alone and calculates the hits required. The player completing the track with fevest hits gets to play first and gets the pole etc. Then the actual race is played and the winner is a player whose car gets to the finish line first after 3 (or some other) amount of rounds.

Pitch Car is fast to play, but the setup of the track takes some time, so it is often a bit laborious to do for just one game. The game is at best with big crowd and is good for example in parties or such, being impressive looking, easy to learn and fast to play. The pieces allow different tracks to be constructed and multiple copies can be combined for a monster track. The components are of good guality which makes the game a bit pricey. Carabande is in practice identical game, but published by another company and the pieces are not compatible to Pitch Car.
 

Portobello Market

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 15.8.2007

Portobello Market is a simple game where players in turn place market stands (which look like trains) or customer tokens on the board. A road is scored when all market stand places are full and there are customer tokens in both ends (the customers are multipliers for the points from the road and richer customers give better multiplier). The game is very fast and takes just over 30 minutes to play. Basically there is nothing seriously wrong with the game, but it just does not offer anything particularly new or exiting and it left me feeling that "I have seen this before". I may play it again if someone suggests, but it will not be my first pick.
 

Power Grid

Rating: 8
Players: 2-6
Game time: 3 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 23.7.2007

 

Primordial soup (Ursuppe)

Rating: 8
Players: 3-4
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 30.6.2007

In ursuppe players control a tribe of amoebas in a time when evolution was only in beginning and the lifeforms were only present in the primeval soup. The goal is to breed and keep your a amoebas alive. To this end mutations can be bought to make the life easier on your amoebas and harder for your opponents. In each turn there are several phases. First of all the amoebas move and feed. Each round a current changes and amoebas may drift along the current or spend some mutation points to try a different movement. Each amoeba eats a food cubes of other colors than itself and excretes the cubes of its own color. if an amoeba is unable to feed, it will take damage and after 2 damage it will die and in dying produce more food cubes. Genes and breeding is paid with mutation points that are acquired each turn. Also the thickness of the ozone layer is changing and if one has too many mutations thin ozone layer may result one to lose some of them. Each round players gain victory points based on the amount of amoebas and genes they own.

In Ursuppe there is a definite feeling of controlling a tribe of amoebas whose sole purpose is to just float in water and eat to stay alive. The genes form some combos that are quite powerfull and thus one should plan ahead what genes work well together and not just blindly buy them. One should also try to keep up with others in victory points, because once left too far behind it is hard to reach the leaders because the points are awarded quite steady in each round. To balance this the players play in ascending victory point order giving the advantage to the player that is last. All in all Ursuppe is a fun and original game with strong theme.It is also quite unforgiving, because bad mistakes at the beginning tend to have long term effects for one's success. Strategic planning is thus important. Compared to its sequel, Urland, Ursuppe is heavier, less luck dependant, takes longer to play and does not have a bluffing element. In truth the games have quite a different mechanics alltogether, but in short Ursuppe is a gamers game and Urland is more suitable for non-gamers.
 

Princes of Florence

Rating: 9 (8 without expansions)
Players: 2-5 (3-5 in the original version)
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 23.12.2009

Princes of Florence is played in seven turns and every turn there is an auction plus each player gets two actions. As actions one can buy various things or build works. You can buy buildings or freedoms, that make works more valuable, more works or bonus cards that add to the value of one work and is then discarded. In auctions every player gets something, but two players may not get the same thing in same turn. There is lakes, parks and forests, that add to the value of a work. Builders give discounts to buildings an you can build more of them. Prestiges give winning points at the end of game, if if condition is fulfilled. There is also recruiting cards, that can be used to copy an opponents work. The most wanted auction commodity is the jesters, who will add the valua of every work thereafter.

This is a ultimate strategy game. At the first turn you can decide every action at the rest of the game, that you will do. BUT, there is always the other players that have this nasty habit to mix your plans in auctions, or buying out something you would have needed badly. When taking cards you can look the top five and choose one of those. You may not get axactly what you wanted, but not the worst either. There is also this bonus three points for rounds best work, and as points are usually very close, these seven times three points many times determine the winner. When doing a work, builder divides its value to victory points and money. The money don't help at the end, but without it, it's impossible to build anything. Optimum would be to have no money at the end of the last round, but then again you can't raise your bid in auction without some extra money. Of course one can get money by losing victory points, but only half the amount it cost to get them, so not a good idea.

There is also little tetris element in the game, when placing buildings and parks etc. You only get one shot to place it and later may notice, that something don't fit in the limited building are because of your previous bad placement. I lost some of my first games just because of this. POF is at best, when played with experianced players. The game is not quite as unforgiving or heavy as Maestro Leonardo, but new players still rarely have a change to win.

The new 2007 edition of the game includes two expansions providing a shared board, which allows neighboring players to build joined buildings. The more interesting addition in my opinnion is the addition of a new auction phase, which introduces new role cards. These allow additional actions or other benefits and add a bit extra variation to the game. In the original game getting enough work cards and jesters is crucial for success. The role cards allow wider selection of viable strategies and for this reason improve the game significantly.

Tips:
try to get everything you absolutely need from auctions before the last turn, because it may be very hard to get it then.
There is only 14 actions + 7 auctions in game. Remember that when deciding what to do.
As the game advances, the minimum value of a work goes higher, so either build them early or make sure you will have the needed value later.
Make sure that no opponent gets the jesters too cheaply
Especially in 5 player game the work cards are in short supply, so make sure to pick up enough of them early.
 

Princes of the Renaissance

Rating: 9
Players: 3-6
Game time: 2-3 hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine

Potr is an auction game with the touch of diplomacy and warfare. There are multiple ways to score. At each turn players only get one action to choose and there usually is lot to be done. Money (and influence) is always in short supply. Timing is a critical issue: one may exploit the other players lack of money with right timing. The game is also quite chaotic, at least at the first glance. There are, however ways to controll the chaos to some extend. The most important thing is to reacht to what other players are doing. One must however form a somekind of long term strategy and if it's poorly chosen, it is hard to change it later on the game. It is critical decision to decide which citytiles to buy. It is often not a good idea to limit oneself to 3 different cities early at the game, because it can happen that another of the 2 cities you cannot anymore buy or even both of them are bought by the other players and end at the top of the list. Also the alliances are made based on what cityties one owns. If you dont have a good army and own a city with another no army fellow, it is guaranteed that your city will not be the top city at the end of the game. One does not necessarily need to have the military power himself, but then a strong ally is needed to lift the city up. All these things combined make a great game. There is a lot of tough decisions and because almost all depends on the players it is rather hard to know what will happen.

There is however one minor issue that can easily be repaired: The starting abilities are not totally balanced: It seems that the discount to become a condottiere is rather powerfull compared to the others and the 2 tiles with ability to hold an extra treachery tile are not that good in my opinnion. The 2 tiles with discount for artists are decent, but because there are 2 of them, often they end up bidding against each other which raises the prices and makes the ability a little less usefull. It is also an advantage to be the starting player or at least second or third. This is because there are only 3 cavalry units available that give an income of 2 influence in addition to the great attack strength they have making them very sought after units. If the first 3 players buy the cavalrys (which they often do) the rest will have no shot for getting them. One solution would be to randomly select the playing order and then let the last player select his ability first and so on until the first player gets his ability last. Another way would be to give players for example 3 extra money at the start and then arrange 2 blind auctions. The first would bo for the order of choosing the starting abilities and the second for playing order. One could keep extra 3 money, but would then get to choose his ability and position last. Also I think that it would be more interesting if all of the abilities were different. Thus I prefer to replace the dublicate abilities with 2 new ones: A discount of 1 to for the pope auctions and +1 defence for field fortifications. The early discount for pope is not that good but might allow the pope to appear more frequenly and early and it makes the artist discount better since there is now only 1 player with the advantage. The increased effectiveness of field fortifications is a nice addition since it has been guite hard to play a strong defense and now it gives one player the option and thus makes the game even more interesting. With these minor changes the game is a great choice for anyone who does not totally despise all forms of auction games.
 

Puerto Rico + The expansion

Rating: 9
Players: 3-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 16.2.2011

Puerto Rico is one of my favourite games, mainly because of the ingenious auction system, where all actions affect all players. This reduces the downtime and increases the amount your actions affect the other players.

All players can build, when someone takes the builder, all get a field, when the settler is played and so on. The current player always gets some bonus, for example a builder gets discount for a building. Playing positions affect play very much. Especially in the five player game, when quarrys and buildings are limited, last player can't count on getting something, but has to build what is left for him. This dones't mean, that you can't win the game in any place. You just have to take suitable strategy for your position and predict what others are going to do. Usually last player's strategy is to grow lots of cheap crops and ship them to Europe, while first player usually builds many expensive buildings. Middle places don't have so clear strategies.

The game is at best with all experienced players. One can seldomly ruin his own game completely with one stupid move (except maybe with ill timed craftsman), but can definitely guarantee victory for some other player. There is very little luck involved. You must always look forward and not to make decisions based just what looks best for this round. It is also good to make surprising moves from time to time, so you are not too predictable for your opponents and can ruin their plans. This is not very light game and requires lots of thinking to win. Games usually end very close with skilled players and game is well balanced. It usually takes around two hours to play. Puerto Rico is definitely one of the best boardgames around.

The expansion adds some new buildings to the game and thus more variety. The game itself won't change much, but players must adjust their strategy for buildings available in a particular game. This makes the game even more interesting.

Tips:
Think, before taking craftsman. Without warehouse or thwarth, next player taking captain and you can say bye bye to your just produced crops in many cases.
If possible try to produce different crops, than player before you, because he often sells and loads them to ship before you do.
 

Quips

Rating: 1
Players: 2-4
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 11.10.2009

We bought this as a game for small children, but to call it a game would be exaggeration. I understand that games for children must be simple and do not expect strategic depth, but in addition of offering no choices, Quips manages to be very boring. Players simply throw dices and add correct number of right colored pieces to the board. However, once some colors became full, any throw for that color is ignored. It is just annoying to continue throwing empty rounds until someone finally manages to get the one missing color. In principle the game can be used to teach colors and numbers to small children, but I can easily come up with better and funnier ways of doing this. There is a few other ways of playing, but they are no better. Quips is an example of very poor design and should be avoided.
 

Quo Vadis?

Rating: 6
Players: 3-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 22.4.2007

 

Ra

Rating: 9
Players: 3-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 29.6.2007
Collection: Mine

Another auction game from Reiner Knizia. Players alternately turn tiles to auction track (maximum of eight) or start an auction in their turn. Auction is held once around the starter bidding last. Each Player has three sun tokens to pid. Winner is the one pidding largest token and he places it to the center of the board and takes former tile face down to himself. A round ends when all players have used all of their sun tokens. In addition to auctioned tiles there are Ra symbols that are not auctioned, but when one of these is turned it is added to Ra track and auction is held. Round also ends if the Ra track becomes full. The game lasts three rounds.

There are many very nice mechanisms in the game and the tiles are varied and each score differently. There are also some catastrophe tiles, with negative effect that one must take along the other tiles he won. One must not only watch the tiles he will get when pidding, but also the sun token he will get to the next round. One can never be sure how soon the round is going to end, because the turning Ra tiles is random. Usually this is not a problem and it adds tension to the game, because one has to decide will he pib early and be sure to get something or wait for a better deal and risk getting nothing. But somethimes the Ra symbols just come one after another and then someone may get much better deals than others. The tactical choices are the key to victory and there is not very much long term strategy involved. Ra works fine with three to five players. Ra is a good choice if you are looking for quite a light auction game and my personal favorite of the Knizia's auction series.

Tips:
If you have sun tokens with low values start auctions often. That way the players with a high valued tokens have to either spent them to get a few tiles or let you have the tiles with low valued token. Remember, however, that you have to buy it yourself if no one else wanted it.
 

Race for the Galaxy + The Gathering Storm + Rebel vs Imperium + The Brink of War

Rating: 10
Players: 2-4 (1-6 with first two expansions)
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 15.2.2011

Race for the Galaxy has alot in common with San Juan. The biggest difference between the games is that while in San Juan players select the action in Puerto Rico style one by one, in RFTG player do the selection simultaneously using their own set of action cards and the actions are always performed in the same order (of course the actions that no-one selected are skipped alltogether). I like the RFTG way better, because it removes the problem of inequal starting positions. Also instead of single builder, RFTG has two types of cards to be built: planets and developments, which require different action to be build. Basically both card types are played as in San Juan, by discarding the required amount of cards from hand, but some planets require the player to have enough military power (can be acquired from developments or planets) and then the planet can be just played without any additional cost. Developments offer different bonuses and points. Planets also give points and sometimes bonuses, but their main function is to produce goods (like production buildings in San juan) and offer places to consume the produced goods (turn them to victory points.) The consuming is another big difference to San Juan: While in San Juan one can only trade the products for more cards, in RFTG one can also consume them to get points (a bit like in Puerto Rico). The consumption is alos necessary, so if your planets consume, you have to trade your products to points. If you want to trade them for cards, you have to take the trade action yourself, which allows the selling of goods (allthough there are some developments to change this of course). The game ends, similarly as in San Juan, when someone gets a total of 12 cards in play (it is possible to play 2 cards in one turn, if both, the development and planet building was selected).

I really like the game. In reality it is rather luck driven and is often decided by who draws the best combos (like San Juan). However, compared to San Juan, there are more good combinations and not just a few uber cards that everybody wants. Because of the combos, the games rarely are decided before the end, and often a "sure" winner has found himself on 2nd or even 3rd place, because his last rounds went badly and others got something very powerfull. Another nice thing is the simultaneous action selection, which add some player interaction to the game: If one can anticipate, what the other players select, he can often use that as an advantage, but making wrong guess may also hurt your game. Players have a bit wider selection of different strategies to play with: One can concentrate in doing a lot of production and acquiring a lot of victory point chips by consume. Another basic strategy would be to build military might and try to get big points from good military planets. Of course the cards in hand largely decide how one should proceed and it is interesting to try to get powerfull combinations to work. RFTG is short enough that the games don't drag and it is very addictive, so we often end playing several in a row. However, the graphics, while beautifull, feel somehow a bit tangled and thus new players tend to have rather slow first game, because it is hard for beginners to grasp what the different cards do. Fortunately after one play, the cards are no longer a problem and the game starts to go smoothly. All players start with one planet already in play and thus get a bit different starting advantages, which also makes the games a bit different. With the basic game, Earth's lost colony and Alpha centauri seem overally the strongest, while the Old earth feels a bit weaker. The differences are not too large, however, and the luck of a draw plays a larger role, making it possible to win with any of the starting planets. Race for the Galaxy is one of my favorite games of all time and I recommend it anyone looking for a good fast and rather light game. Nowadays I basically always select RFTG over San Juan, if both games are available.

The Gathering Storm Expansion adds fiffth player to the game. Additionally it offers extra cards including new starting planets, objective tiles and rules for playing the game alone. The expansion strenghtens the military strategy compared to the productions strategy. which is very strong in the basic game. The new cards fit in nicely giving a freshness to the basic game. The objective tiles give extra points for being the first to fulfill the objective (like building a cost 6 development) or having the most of something at the end (like developments or production planets). Using different objective tiles in different games keeps the game fresh, as the objectives are not always the same. Gathering Storm expansion is a very good addition to an already excellent game and highly recommended.

Rebel vs Imperium again adds yet another player, more cards, more starting planets and more objective tiles. With enough starting planets, players may now choose from two planets after looking the cards with which they want to start the game with. The expansion also contains a few special takeover cards, which can be used to attack other players. For these, each player gets an military track and four wooden cubes to keep track of military power and rebel and imperium cards. In my opinnion the whole takeover system is pointless and could have been left out. Definitely the addition is not wort the extra time to set up and update the military tracks, as the takeovers happen about once in every fifth games or such. And even when they happen, they often just reinforce the position of a player who was winning anyway. The game is simply better when the takeover system is not used. Despite the useless takeover system, other additions are mostly good and as a whole the expansion is still a worthy purchase, although not as good as the Gathering storm.

The Brink of War requires both earlier expansion in order to be added to the game. The most notable addition is the prestige system: Players can gain prestige tokens from various cards and the one with most of them will get extra points and cards each turn. The prestige can also be used to fuel new powerfull once/game bonus action. Of course, the expansion adds even more starting planets, cards and objective tiles. Unfortunately for me the expansion fails to offer anything that would justify the purchase. The prestige system needlesly complicates and imbalances the game. The rest of the additions are so closely coupled to the prestige system or the useless takeover system from Rebel vs Imperium that playing without those aspects leaves very little usefull parts. Additionally many of the new cards are very powerfull compared to the older ones, which throw off the balance even more. Thus, in my opinnion, the game is better when played without the whole Brink of War expansion and I recommend to skip it.

Tips:
While the production strategy has the potential for most points in the basic game, after the two expansions the situation changes. In my mind, the balance shifts too much against the production strategy. The problem are the two improved logistics cards, which are part of the Gathering storm expnasion. While Improved logistics are good in their own right, the main problem is their effect in the game length: The ability to play two planets in a turn allows the games to end sooner and this somewhat breaks the balance between production strategy, which likes longer games than military/development strategies, which prefer shorter games. The result is that as long as the improved logistic cards are in the deck, the production strategy is weakened unecessarily. For this reason we nowadays often play without the impproved logistics cards.

Another potential problem is the doomed world starting planet. The option to select the cards from two options after seeing the hand cards makes doomed world the best starting planet: If a player having the doomed world as an option has a very good planet in hand to be played with the doomed world in first round, he will get very good start and has a good change to win the game. If he does not have such a planet, he can simply select the other planet. In a sense, doomed world is an option to instantly win (if the cards do not go very badly) the game at the beginning without real downside. For this reason we sometimes remove the doomed world from the selection of starting planets when there is less than six players.
 

Rat Hot

Rating: 6
Players: 2
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 11.10.2009

 

Rechen-Kapitän (Laske ja lastaa)

Rating: 5
Players: 1-4
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.2.2011

A childrens game about loading ships. Requires some simple mathematics and tactical thinking. This makes it rather good as an educational game and it is also an OK game to play as far as the childrens games go.
 

Red November

Rating: 7
Players: 2-8
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Edited: 23.12.2009

 

Relikt

Rating: 4
Players: 3-5
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 21.10.2007

A simple card game where the point is to collect relics by playing colored number cards to them in similar way as is done in Balloon cup. Unbroken relics are plus points and broken ones are minus points, but two similar broken ones are plusses. There is also a set of special cards for each player, which make the game quite chaotic, especially the card which allows a player to change color, meaning that the played cards of one color are now affecting another player. The game offers nothing special and will not see regular plays.

 

Ricochet Robot

Rating: 7
Players: 1+
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak

 

Risk

Rating: 4
Players: 2-6
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Louhi

 

Robber Knights (Raub Ritter)

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 12.10.2009

 

Robo Rally + Armed & Dangerous expansion

Rating: 6
Players: 2-8
Game time: 2+ hours. Depends largely on used board
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Collection: Louhi

 

Rondo Vario

Rating: 3
Players: 1-4
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 24.12.2009

Like Quips, I hesitate call Rondo Vario a game. It is more like a toy for young children with nice wooden pieces which can be used to contsruct worms. The package contains also two dice, whic one represents different colors and another the shapes, which can be used in deciding which kind of pieces are added to the worms. Constructing the worms is more interesting and less frustrating than the pointless dice throwing of Quips and among these two, Rondo Vario is clearly superior. Still, it is not much of a game, but an educational toy for small children.
 

Royal Turf

Rating: 8
Players: 2-6
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 9.3.2008

In royal turf players are punters in a horse race. the game lasts three rounds and in each round players have 4 tokens to use to bet from 7 horses. there are two value 1 tokens, one value 2 token and one value 0 token for bluffing. the bets are placed face down, so other players do not know which tokens are in which horse. The horses move with a special dice which has three horse symbols and then 1 of ehach, helmet, stirrup and horse shoe. Each player in turn throws the die and decides which horse to move. The horses are different in the sense that some of them tend to move a decent amount each turn (move much with the horse symbol, which is the most common throw) and others make huge big sprints with some of the other symbols but do not move far with the horse. A round ends when 3 of the horses have reached the goal and players then receive money according to their bets. Also the player(s) who managed to bet the very last horse lose some money.

The feel of the Royal turf is rather close to Knizia's other betting game, colossal Arena, even though the theme and mechanics are different. Luck definitely has a role here since the moves are thrown with dice. Still since one can use his throw either to slow down an opponents horse or to speed up his own, there is some control. And of course there is the bluffing factor because of the 0 valued bet. I did not like Royal Turf too much after the first game but after that my rating has improved. It is always a risk to bet the sprint horses, because other players may easily thwart its movement by selecting the common horse dice, but somethimes the surprise sprints just make that up and give them enough lead to win. It is important to bet the right horses according to the other players bets, since if you are alone at some horse you need a lot of dice luck to win, because a poor throw can always be used to slow down someone else's horse. This makes the game an interesting mixture of bluffing, psychology and luck. In the last round players get their winnings doubled to make it possible for the players left behind to catch up. Despite of that often it proves to be quite hard to catch up, if one is left much behind earlier, but with luck it is possible. For players looking for a good, light betting game Royal Turf is a good choice.
 

Saga

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Edited: 14.11.2006

I have played only one game. The game seems okay and has some interesting mechanics, but nothing special to nake me want to buy it myself. Still ready to play if someones suggests it. The rules are a bit more complicated than seem in the first glance. Basic idea is to play stacks of knigts of different color to conguer countries by overcoming the value of defending knigts which then become the new defenders. The defending troop may not be strengthened. Land cards generate fame points which can be used to recruit more knigts and are also winning points. Lands also have special abilities (positive or negative). The game ends when a player empties his hand. Defence troops generally produce positive points for the land owners and cards in hand negative.
 

Saint Petersburg

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 5.11.2006

In Saint Petersburg the idea is simple. each round there are 4 phases. At first space players buy workers, that generate money. With the money earned players may buy buildings in the second phase or aristocrats in the third. Both of these earn you points, but also may produce some money. The last phase is for special upgrade cards that are played to replace some existing card already in play (ship builder upgrades to shipyard etc.). At each space the amount of cards that are for sale depends on the amount how many empty spaces there are after the last round. The game ends after the round where one of the card piles were exhausted.

The game is rather light and fast but still offers some tough decisions. I liked Saint Petersburg from the first game I played it. Still there are some serious balance problems (these suggestions may not be relevant for 2 player game, I have only played with 3 and 4): The aristocrats are too valuable at the end of game and this makes makes the game too much of a contest for aristocrats and only the cheap buildings are a viable choice. To make a builder a viable strategy a scoring track for the endgame aristocrats can be modified to be 1,3,5,8,11,15,19,24,29,35 (or even 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17,20) for 1,...,10+ aristocrats instead of the original 1,3,6,10,15,21,28,36,45,55. Now the endgame boost for aristocrats is not as huge as before and buying a more expensive building earlier gives better value for money than before. Another issue are the Judge and especially the mistress of ceremony cards, which are just too powerfull if build early on. My solution for this problem is to reduce the victory point income from judge and mistress by one and in addition also reduce the money income from Mistress by one. (So now judge produces 5 money and 1 vp and Mistress produces 5 money and 2 vp). With these corrections for rules Saint Petersburg is very entertaining and exiting little game. There is surprising amount of strategy within such a simple game. Of course there is rather much luck involved in the form of card draw, but right strategic and tactical choices still have a large role. The money is always short, but if one concentrates too much on earning money, he may end up noticing that he is rich, but lacking in the winning points at the end. Saint Petersburg is one of the few games that work well also with 3 players. After a lot of plays, the game has started to feel a bit too mechanical though.

Tips:
Think not only what you want to build/draw but also how many cards you want to be drawn in the next phase. Especially you usually want to get some aristocrats, so make sure that there are enough empty spaces that other players can't buy all of them before your turn.
 

Samurai

Rating: 8
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

Samurai has much in common with Knizia's another tile laying game, King's gate. From these two Samurai is clearly heavier and is in fact quite a brainburner. The luck factor depends on what version of the rules are used: If the initial tiles are decided rather than selected randomly, the luck factor is small. But either way the doings of other players will affect the game much more than the tile draw. The goal of the game is to collect three different symbols from cities by surrounding them with appropriate tiles. The symbols represent the different samurai clans and the gameboard is set in Japan. Despite of that, the game is quite abstract. When a city is completely surrounded the reward(s) goes to the player(s) with most valuable tiles in that gategory. Some of the tiles affect only one type of symbols, while others affect all symbols. Of course the game is not win simply by collecting most symbols, but the scoring system is brilliant and one must have majority in at least one symbol to even have possibility of winning. Often the player with most symbols is not the winner. Samurai is well balanced and elegant game for players who like mental challenge. Still it's somewhat dry and may thus shy off some players. The game is best played with all experianced players, because a stupid move from one player may give bonus to the next player.
 

San Juan

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4(5)
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 16.3.2008

San Juan uses the same kind of role taking system as Puerto Rico with the difference that untaken roles don't get any bonus for following rounds. For everything else the cards are used. The only way of getting victory points is by building. One must have the required building in hand and then discard the required amount of other cards to build. The buildings are divided in production buildings and city buildings as in Puerto Rico. The difference between different goods is that more expensive ones let one draw more cards when trading. The city buildings provide various special benefits. The game ends when some player manages to build 12 buildings.

San Juan is a light and luck driven game where the outcome is largely decided by the cards one draws. Still there are some tactical/strategic decisions to be made and one can affect the outcome with good choices. The game is fast spaced and doesn't take long, so rematchs are easy to take. Some of the buildings are clearly better than others. One of the best is definately the library. Still the best two cards are clearly the quild hall and city hall, which often decide the winner. The 3 player game is a bit difficult, because with certain combinations one player may drop out at the beginning. For example if 2 players start by building prefacture, the one without will almost definitely lose, because the others constantly get free extra cards. For 4 players the starting places are not equally good. The advanced variant tries to addres this, but the problem is that the first place is not the best, but the second. So it should go such that second place gets fevest cards to choose from, then first, third and fourth. The fourth place is actually very bad and it might be justified to even let him keep an extra card at the start of game. All in all San Juan is a good light game which has been regularly played in our group. Lately, however, our group has preferred Race for the Galaxy over San Juan and from these two, I would recommend RFTG first.

Tips:
The game can be played with 5 players by just adding another prospector card and agreeing that gold mine only works when the second prospector for the turn is selected. Only problem is that the deck will get very thin at the end of game, but this far it has never ran totally out. The deck can be extended by using something else than cards for production markers, if necessary.
 

Save Doctor Lucky

Rating:
Players:
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules:
Theme:
Collection: Louhi

 

Schildkrötenrennen (Kilpikonnakisa)

Rating: 5
Players: 2-5
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 21.10.2007

Kilpikonnakisa is clearly designed for children, but it works somewhat as a filler game for crown up's too. Each player secretly receives the color of his turtle and the idea is simply by playing cards (which move turtles forwards and backwards) get the own turtle to finish first. The clever trick here is, that the turtles can jump on top each other and thus if the bottom turtle moves, it takes all others with it. Of course the random cards mean large luck element, since it is hard to win if one does not draw cards to move his own turtle. In addition there are only one card for each color which allows to move the turtle 2 spaces forward. If someone manages to draw the card for his own color, he has a good change for winning. Altough, the luck has a main role here (appropriate for a children's game) one can try to improve his changes a bit by carefull hand management and skillfully mounting the other turtles. And because the turtles are hidden, there is a bit of bluffing possibility too. Because of the simple rules and short playing time, Kilpikonnakisa can be recommended especially for families looking a good and developing game to be played with children, but otherwise it is a bit too simple.
 

Schotten Totten

Rating: 7
Players: 2
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

In this two player game we have two Scot clans fighting over a pasture's boundary-stones. There are nine stones in a row in the middle of the table and each player plays one of his six cards every turn at some of the stones. There are six coluors of cards with values from one to nine. When one has three cards beside some stone and he can prove based on the played cards, that other player can't beat his team, he claims the stone. A player wins, if he has claimed three adjacent stones or five stones alltogether. Value of the played set of cards is determined like in the Poker. Best is the straight flush, then three of a kind, flush, straight and finally random set of cards.

I like this game quite a lot. There definitely is quite a large luck factor, but if many games are played in a row, the better player will definitely win more of these. The game is light, plays fast (less than a half an hour) and it has very good replay value: "just one more game...". In my copy there are quite bad printing errors in many cards and it can't be played without black shields, because the cards would be easily recognicable. I don't know if this is a common problem or just an accidental misprint. With very simple rules I recommend this to anyone looking for light and fun game for two.
 

Scrabble

Rating: 4
Players: 2-4
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Louhi

 

Serenissima

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: 4+ hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong

Serenissima is a game of naval trade and warfare in mediterranean during the renaissance. The playable seapowers are the genova, valencia, venezia and Istanbul. Different cities produce different goods. The idea is to buy the goods and ship them to warehouses in other ports to gain money. The goods in own ports gain victory points in the end of game, but often the best money can be acquired by shipping rare goods for other players. Players can use their ships to attack cities or other players ships. The catch is that there are 5 places in each ship which can be filled with either crew or goods. The more crew, the faster and more formidable the ship is but to do the trading one needs to fill the spaces with goods. This means that some of the ships are fast warships with lots of fighting power while the trade ships are slowmoving and weak in battle.

Serenissima is a rather long and heavy game. Despite the battles are solved with dice the luck element is small due the casualties calculating system. For the same reason the battless are often costy for both sides. Thus often to wake a war is to destroy the changes of victory for both sides. However, a well placed and timed surprise attack to conguer a valuable trade ship with rare goods may be enough to ruin opponent both financically and thus prevent an effective counter attack while proving very beneficial for you. The money is the key for war, because the player who has the money to buy a faforable place in turn order has huge advantage in battless and of course to buy new soldiers and ships also costs money. The nations are not in equally good positions. Istanbul is alone in the eastern part of the map being able to form an easily defendable empire rather easily. In addition it has the best access in all different goods. Genova and Valencia are both in the same open sea area in west and can really make the life miserable for each other if they so choose. Venezia is in the middle and thus in risk of being attacked from both sides. In most of our games this far Genova and Valencia have ended to war against each other and Istanbull have then acquired the victory by just playing safe and securing own area. Istanbull will be very strong if allowed freely to build up an empire without anyone interfering

Like most games of the genre diplomacy has the main role and playing against all will quarantee a defeat. The game has quite a few nice mechanics but despite of these it is rather dull. Especially if one gets hit bad in the beginning it might be very hard to recover. It is not that interesting to play the last 3 hours without any change for the victory. Still Serenissima is a nice game to be played every now and then if the mood is right for such a long and taxing game. Be prepared to spent an hour or two before the game is unpacked and ready to play. There are a lot of stuff and quite a few stickers to put in place. The stickers also have a nasty habit of unsticking by themselves and getting lost.

Tips:
If you are going for war be sure to offer enough money that you can choose whether to play before or after your opponent.
 

Settlers of Catan + The 5-6 player expansion+ The event cards + Seafarers of Catan + Seafarers 5-6 player expansion + Cities & Knights of Catan + Fishermen of Catan

Rating: 9
Players: 3-6
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Louhi, Mine
Edited: 14.3.2008

We have a random board constructed of hexacons that represent different land types and water areas. There are five different types of land areas, which each have randomly placed number tokens. At the beginning of his turn, each player throws two dices and each player who has towns or cities at some corner of the hexacon, that have this number will get cards for the resource determined by the land type of the hexacon. With these resources players can build roads, towns, cities or buy bonus cards. When a player throws seven he will move the robber to a new area and steal one resource card from some other player who has a town or city adjacent to the robber hexacon. the robber hexacon will not produce anything as long as the robber stands there. Resources can also be traded with another players or rate four same to one different to the bank. This rate may be modified by harbours, if the player happen to control some. The game ends when some player achieves ten victory points. These are acquired from towns and cities, if one has longest road, largest army or from bonus cards.

The game is quite strategic and the most important decision is where to put your starting towns. You can not win the game directly by the initial placement, but you definitely can make it almost impossible to win. So think carefully what your strategy will be and do the initial placement support that. After that the game gets easier: It is usually a good idea to build, when you have the needed cards, because the robber will take away half of your cards, if you have more than seven. The trading of cards is of course a possibility, but one has to be careful, because bad trades may benefit others too much. Because of the card trading system, the game is definitely at best, when played with experienced players. A inexperienced player can very easily become a kingmaker. Players must also watch each other carefully, because if someone gets too big lead, it becomes impossible to catch the leader later.
The seafarers expansion adds boats to the game which can be used instead of roads in sea or coastal squares. The boats cost a sheep and wood, so sheeps get more use, which is good. There are also some ready scenarios where part of the map is hidden and the boats are used to explore. Still the game feels quite the same as basic settlers. All in all the Seafarers does not offer much in addition to the basic game.
As the name suggests the 5-6 player expansion adds 2 more players to the game by providing the extra playing pieces and map tiles. The seafarers 5-6 player expansion also adds some new scenarios. The one big rule change is that players may now also build at opponents turn, if they have the resources (no trading with bank allowed). The game works rather well with 5 players and does not usually take much longer than with 4.
The event cards expansion replaces the dices with a pile of dice cards. This makes it more predictable and equal which numbers are thrown. On the other hand they have some events which again add randomness to the game. Also the robber becames a bit more deadlier since players may memorize which numbers are already gone and thus it is bad to have ones numbers at the bottom of the deck, because often the robber is then already sitting on the tile. In addition I don't like too much that the events are tied to a particular number. One may now try to get advantage by memorizing the events for each number and I would prefer that they are separated. of course the cards can be used to just produce numbers or use die to decide numbers and just use the events. The event cards do not really change the game much, but can be used occasionally to get a bit of a twist to the game. Still I usually prefer the dices.
Fishermen of Catan is a simple expansion, which allows some of the sea spaces to be fished (work similarly as other tiles, if one buils cottage there, he gets fish tokens with the correct dice number). The fish tokens have 1 to 3 fish in it and they can be used to get some benefits. there is also an old shoe, which can be given to a player with most points and he then needs one extra point to win. The fish give more options for building and can be rather powerfull, especially if one draws many tokens with 3 fish. It adds some extra luck to the game, because some may draw better fish tokens than others, but it is not necessarily a problem and it is easy to agree that all tokens are worth 2 fish, if it bothers someone. However, I don't like the shoe, because hidden victory points from cards can make someone immune to the shoe and thus unbalance the game. Thus, I prefer not to use the shoe at all or to play with visible victory point cards, if the shoe is included.
The Cities & Knights expansion makes the game somewhat more complex and offers more possibilities. The downside is that the games take longer. The basic game is still the same, but there are some quite powerfull cards that can turn the situation dramatically. This can be good because it is possible to hurt the leaders more than in basic Settlers and thus give better change for less lucky players. On the other hand if someone decides to ruin your day he can do it. One can also use the boats from seafarers with Cities & knights.

First of all, I have to admit, that I have been somewhat too critical towards Settlers previously. After some rather lengthy strategical analysis with Markus Nuopponen, the 2006 world champion of Settlers, he managed to convince me that the game is not that much about luck as I have been thinking. When I played the basic game afterwards, it worked surprisingly well (We had a group of experienced players). It seems that in the end I have grown to understand and like the game and now the rating is also updated accordingly. I still somewhat dislike the too direct trading system, which makes it possible to hand down a victory to someone too easily, but with the right group, this is not a problem. For the versions of Settlers I prefer to play with Cities & Knights expansion because of the added possibilities, but it also lengthens the game and thus for shorter game the basic version works very well also.
 

Shadows over Camelot

Rating: 6
Players: 3-7
Game time: 1+ hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 21.10.2007

Shadows over camelot is a co-operation game where the players play the king Arthur and his knights of the round table which try to defend camelot against forces of darkness by playing against the game. A good thing is that the game is hard enough, so the board is not too easy to beat. Still, like often in this kind of co-operation games one player could basically play all the characters as well and often with many players the downtime gets long. Interesting detail is the option to use traitor among the knights (one player is a traitor and tries to sabotage the game of the others), but unfortunately the traitor does not work very well. It seems that the most effective option for the traitor is to reveal himself as soon as possible, which makes playing the traitor very dull and the game is more fun without it.

 

Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game (2010 version)

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: 4+ hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 17.2.2011

 

Sitting Ducks Gallery

Rating: 2
Players: 3-6
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 23.2.2010

 

Skip-Bo

Rating: 3
Players: 2-6
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 19.11.2006

In Skip-bo players try to get rid of a pile of random cards. The idea is to play cards in 4 piles starting from number 1 and advancing to 12 after which the pile is discarded and a new pile can be started from beginning. The top card of the pile is always visible and in addition players have 5 cards in hand and can also place 1 card each round in front of them. All of these can be used to advance the piles. What makes the game almost totally luck dependent are the Skip-bo cards, which are jokers (can be used to replace any number). If one gets many jokers (or a sequence of numbers) in the pile, he will win easily. Still the game has its own appeal and is nice and simple to be played with children.
 

Small World

Rating: 9
Players: 2-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 24.12.2009

 

Space Alert

Rating: 8
Players: 1-5
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Edited: 23.12.2009

 

Space Hulk: Death Angel - the Card Game

Rating: 6
Players: 1-6
Game time: 60 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Strong
Edited: 17.2.2011

 

Spank the Monkey

Rating: 1
Players: 2-6
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Louhi

Palayers try to build a tower out of junk to to reach the monkey and spank it. Each player in turn sets a piece of junk on his own tower and then attacks someones tower with weapon card which makes the tower collapse. This goes on until someone manages to draw one of the ending cards, like banana tree, which allow him to win the game. With more players this can take guite a while. There is really no point in this game. The system feels much like Munchkin, and similarly the only good thing in this game is the humorous cards. I will not play this one again.
 

Starcraft: The Board Game

Rating: 7
Players: 2-6
Game time: 3 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 17.2.2011

 

Starfarers of Catan

Rating: 7
Players: 3-4
Game time: 2-4 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 14.3.2008

A variant of Settlers of Catan in space. In Starfarers the map and starting locations are fixed, but other numbers are hidden and players use ships to explore. The game feels more luck dependent compared to basic Settlers. There is a huge amount of stuff in the box. If you like Settlers, you will probably like Starfarers too. Still, I prefer the basic Settlers.
 

Star Force Terra #1: Contact!

Rating: 2
Players: 2-6
Game time: 1+ hours
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 29.10.2006

 

Stephenson's Rocket

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Louhi

There is no Luck on Stephenson's Rocket. However the game isn't as dry and turns are much guicker. Players try to build Railway network in Egland and make some money in the process. Like usual, Knizia's scoring system consists of many ways to score. One can only make two moves per turn and wants to make much more. It is very hard to say what actions are best and you must always take in consideration what the others are doing. One of best things in the game is the Veto right. Everyone owning stocks of some Railway company, have their word where the line will be extended. The one with most stocks can have a last word in the matter, but then he will lose some of his stocks.

Stephenson's Rocket requires quite a lot of thinking and thus may not please everyone. The game has no random element and is thus a little dry. It is very strategic and one needs to formulate a long term plan, but also right tactical choices are important. The game works well with three or four players. It seems that a strategy to only pick the commodities is not powerfull enough alone and one must put an effort to achieve either the majority of stations or the stocks from the large endgame railline in order to win. Still the commodities are usefull as an source of easy extra points.
 

Stone Age

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: 90 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Edited: 24.12.2009

 

Stratego 4

Rating:
Players:
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules:
Theme:
Collection: Louhi

 

Street Soccer

Rating: 4
Players: 2
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine

As can be expected from the name, the idea is to play soccer. Both players have a team of 5 players, 4 players and the goalkeeper. The game lasts 25 "minutes" meaning that both players have 25 turns to go. Each turn a player rols a dice and then moves one of his players the amount indicated. if the player reaches the ball, the rest movement points are used for kicking the ball. The ball may be passed to another own player which can then in turn kick the ball further and change the direction.

Street soccer is quite a nice simulation of a soccer game in boardgame format. As a game it has a way too large luck factor for me to like it much. No matter how nice strategy one forms by positioning his players a bad dice will ruin the game no matter what. Goals are usually impossible to do with anything smaller than 5 or 6. Throwing multiple ones in a row is usually a game loser. The game is not pure luck but the strategical placement of one's players is clearly of too little effect compared to the dice. For me this makes the game meaningless and not fun to play. It might help to try the variants proposed in Boardgamegeek to use cards instead of dices to make the amount of different throws equal for both players. More comments on these after I have tried different versions.
 

Stronghold

Rating:
Players: 2-4
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 26.1.2010

 

Struggle for Rome

Rating: 4
Players: 3-4
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 23.12.2009

 

Struggle of Empires

Rating: 7
Players: 2-7
Game time: 4-5 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 16.3.2008

 

Taj Mahal

Rating: 10
Players: 3-5 (best with 4 or 5)
Game time: 90 minutes
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.3.2008

Taj Mahal is definitely one of my favorite games. Rules are quite simple and it's easy to learn. The game is quite strategic, but one has to adjust his strategy to the doings of other players. It takes 12 turns. In each turn players compete six things that all gain the winner victory points or some other benefits. The scoring mechanism is very nice and there is more than one way to win. To decide who gets what, the players make bids by playing cards. If in your turn you have something more than any of the other players, you can withdraw and take these. If one plays many cards to get a lot of stuff in some turn, he won't have many cards left for the next. There is not too much luck, because each player can choose what cards to take from revealed cards at table and it is one strategic element of the game to get out early, if there are good cards on the table. First who withdrew chooses two cards first and so on. Last player only gets one card.

The Game works well with four and five players, but it is not as good with three. Turns don't take very long. I can warmly recommend Taj Mahal to anyone looking a good, a bit competitive game. However it is possible for some player to start playing against another and possibly ruin both of their games, which may prove to be a problem for some.

Tips:
It is often good idea to withdraw with minor losses, if someone starts to play heavily againts you rather than empty one's hand alltogether. A player with only a few cards is an easy target for everyone and can be easily played out in later rounds.
 

Take it Easy

Rating: 6
Players: 1-8 (more than 4 requires 2 games)
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 16.11.2006

Each player gets a similar set of hexacon tiles, which each have three numbered crossing lines going through them. One player randomly selects a tile and others search for a similar tile. Then players place the tile in their gameboard. This is repeated until the board is full. Players then score points for lines of similar lines going through the board.

The game is a decent filler to be played every now and then. Basically it is about calculating probabilities and I'm afraid it might get old if played too often. Luck has of course a major role due to tile drawing. There is no player interaction, players simply build their own boards. The good thing is that more players does not directly mean longer gametime. There is also an advanced version of the game available in the name of Take it to the Limit which adds different variants to the basic game.
 

Talisman (4th Edition)

Rating: 5
Players: 2-6
Game time: 4 hours
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 18.11.2007

Talisman reminds me a bit of Blackbeard, even though the mechanics of the game have little common: The game is similarly very long, very random, stronly themed and some of the characters are rather unbalanced. The idea here is that players are adventures who play with different fantasy characters and try to gain experience and items to be able to enter the tower on the middle of the gameboard, gain controll of the crown of command and be the last one alive at the end. The basic system is a roll&move including an event in the destination square (may be random card or something else). As with Blackbeard, the game is not really that good, but for some reason I have a bit of fondness to it.
 

That's Life (Sellaista Sattuu)

Rating: 5
Players: 2-6
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 30.6.2007

That's life is kind of a roll & move game, where the track consists of tiles with negative and positive points and a few clover tiles which turn negative tiles to positive ones. Each player has 3 markers and the best tiles are also guarded by neutral markers. In turn players throw a dice and move either one of their own markers or one of the neutral ones, if it happens to be in a same tile with any players marker. A player must take a tile, if his or her marker was the last one moved away. Game ends when all markers reach the end of the tile track and the player with most points (or least negative points wins).

The game is very luck driven, if you throw badly, you are toast. Of course one may try to increase the changes of good throws a bit by planning, but the basic strategies are rather straightforward: one tries to either get fast to the area with good tiles and then hopes small throws to pick as many as possible or tries to stall as long as possibly (by using turns to move neutral tokens), forcing others to leave the good tiles first. It is especially important where the neutral tokens happen to land, since it defines what options the other players will have on their turn. For me That's life has a bit too much luck, but it is a decent filler when played rarely enough.
 

Thief of Bagdad

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Edited: 22.11.2006

There are 6 different colored palaces which contain treasures. Each of them has a guard at the beginning and players also have 2 guards of their own. The idea is to plant one's own thieves into the palaces to steal the treasures. One needs to have his own guard at the palace and cards of appropriate color to plant the thieves. other than own guards cost extra cards to plant thieves. the cards can also be used to move the guards.

There are quite much luck due the random drawn cards. One must always think in addition to what is good for him also is he going to offer too good opportunity to someone else and it often happens that someone wins because of the previous player opened up a good oppostunity. The mechanics work nicely, but the theme is thin. Thief of Bagdad shows some promise, but needs more plays to decide if it arises above mediocrity.
 

Through the Ages

Rating: 8
Players: 2-4
Game time: 3-6 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Edited: 16.2.2011

Through the Ages feels a lot like boardgame version of the computer game Civilization. Unlike most Civilization building games, it does not have a map, but is basically a card game with just a scoring board. Buildings, armies and terroritorios are just presented by tokens and cards. Also attacks and diplomacy are done by playing appropriate cards. Players have a certain amount of civil and military action available each turn (determined by the government type and possible bonuses). Military actions can be used to build military units and draw military cards (which include attack, defence, event, diplomacy and tactic (bonuses to military strength) cards). Everything else is done by the civil actions. Players acquire technology, wonder, leader and one time bonus cards from a card row by spending civil actions. Playing these cards also requires actions but also resources, which are food, materials, technology and population. 3 of the first are produced by buildings, which are represented by population tokens on top of technology cards. To get more population tokens, food is required. To use these tokens to build armies or new buildings, resources are required. And to invent new, more powerfull technologies, technology points are required. The game is win by culture, which can be obtained from certain buildings, wonders, leaders, events or sometimes by waking a war.

The game is rather long, heavy and the rules are not the easiest either. Still, unlike most heavy games, through the Ages is worth of the time and effort invested. The luck has a role, because of the somewhat random cards, but it does not dominate the game and you have a feeling of control. My biggest complaint for the game is the long downtime, because towards the end of game, players turns tend to became quite long. Still, after players learn the game better, the turns became faster. For such a complex game, TTA ´seems to be rather well balanced. Still, some of the leaders seem to have some balance issues. Especially Michelangelo seems to be too strong, especially when combined with with ST Peter's Basilica. So at the house rule department the Basilica should only apply to the happy faces. Even alone, Michelangelo is very powerfull, but also some of the other leaders are powerfull, so it is rather much an issue of timing and luck, which player manages to get the best leaders (or other key cards). Regardless of the minor flaws, TTA is a good game and on top of the civilization building genre. For the versions, I skipped the basic game, since it seems to be only a tutorial and started with two advance games. They are okay, but the game is clearly designed and balanced with the full game in mind and the advanced game feels like it ends a bit prematurely, so the full game is recommended, if time is not a problem.
 

Through the Desert (Durch die Wuste)

Rating: 9
Players: 2-5
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.6.2007

The players make caravans from pastel camels in desert. There are five different colors of camels. At the beginning of the game each player sets one camel of each color with rider to the board. After that these caravans are grown with the appropriate colored camels with 2 camels per turn. Points are gained when a caravan contacts water hole, oasis or is able to outline an area for itself. The game ends, when all camels of some color are used up. At this point the owner of largest caravan of each color is awarded points.

For such an short game, it has surprising amount of strategy. There is no luck involved and each turn requires good tactical moves. There is never enough moves to do all one wants to do, so priorization is necessary. Games are always very intense and it's hard to name the winner before end. The colors of camels are a bit hard to separate, if the illumination is poor. Otherwise the parts are very cute. Durch die Wuste can be recommended to anyone, who likes good games. It requires some thinking though and might be a bit dry for some people. Works well with three to five players.
 

Thurn and taxis + Power and Glory

Rating: 8 (7 without the expansion)
Players: 2-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 3.4.2009

In Thurn and taxis players build postal routes in Germany and surrounding areas. Players draw cards corresponding the cities in board from 6 face up cards available. Each turn they also extend a route by adding a connected city to either end of the route. When the route is at least 3 cities long, the player has option to score it and place postal offices to cities along the route. The catch is that the playing area is divided in 9 different colored reqions. Offices may be placed either in all cities of one color or one office for each color. Point chips are awarded for getting offices to certain combination of cities and building long routes so that the faster players get better chips. In addition the players get better carts, which each require longer routes than the previous and give points at the end. the game ends when one of the players either gets all offices to the board or acquires the best cart. Remaining offices are minus points at the end.

I was very enthusiastic about this game at first, but my opinnion has degreased somewhat along more games. The main problem for me is that some of the areas are a bit too crucial. Especially Sigmaringen and Insbruck are cards that I will usually crab as soon as I see them, because they will typically not be available easily, because everybody else also wants them too. Especially in 4 player game it often happens, that three players get their Sigmaringen from the first deck and none of the cards are discarded early enough to get to the second deck. So the one player which did not get Sigmaringen early, will have tough time getting it at all and even if he gets it at the end, it will probably do him little good at that point. Of course the same can happen with any card, but Sigmaringen just is the most crucially located town and thus the favourite pick of most experienced players. Of course, the game is not lost for not getting one card, but it often is a serious drawback, costing several points and typically preventing the player from winning. Still, despite the sometimes frustrating card draws, Thurn and taxis is a decent light optimization game. The turns are fast and the game is not dry. Experienced players definitely have an advantage. Of course players have also a change to affect the cards next players will get. In principle the starting player has an advantage, because he is one round ahead and because of that has the best chance to score chips first and be the one to end the game (which gives 1 extra point and allows him to win ties). On the other hand, the last player will always get to play the last turn, regardles of who ends the game and has no risk that someone else ends the game so that his last route will be left out of scoring (the risk for that being highest for the first player).

The power and Glory expansion offers a new map and removes the carts from the game, so the game always ends on the offices. Additionally each city card has from 1 to 3 horses. Instead of extending a route, a player may play the card as horses. To complete a route, a player must also have a required amount of horses in addition to the chain of cities. This changes the game, because the threat of losing a route due to failing to find a suitable city card vanishes: one can always play a horse card instead. This combined with the loss of carts means, that on average players tend to aim for longer routes compared to the basic game. The size differences of areas in the new map are smaller than in the original. I prefer to play the game with the expansion, because the map feels more balanced and no single city is as important as the Sigmaringen in the basic game. Allthough removing the carts means that the games take a bit longer, the horse cards work better in evening out the luck of draw. If you are planning on buying Thurn and Taxis, I recommend on buying also the Power and Glory expansion.
 

Tichu

Rating: 6
Players: 3-6 (best with 4)
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.12.2006

Tichu is one of the better trick taking games around. The idea is to play in 2 teams and as a team collect 1000 points to win the game. Each 10 and 13 a team manages to acquire is +10 points and 5s are +5 points. The idea is to get rid of ones cards as fast possible, because the player who is the first to empty his hand will rob the last players points. If the whole team empties their hands before anyone fom the other team, the team will get +200 points. Players can also state tichu at the start of the game, if he thinks he will be the first out of cards. depending on the outcome tichu is +/-100 points for the team and a desperate players choice, large tichu, is +/-200 points (must be decleared after seeing only 8 cards). The game is played in standard 52 cards deck with 4 special cards. One can thus easily play tichu with a standard deck with 4 jokers. As most of the standard card games, tichu is very luck dependent and after all players have learned the rules the outcome is rather much decided by the card draws. Still, deciding should one state tichu and when gives bit of tactical element and exitement to the game.

 

Ticket to Ride + USA 1910

Rating: 5
Players: 2-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 12.8.2008

In appearance ticket to ride resembles much another Alan Moon's train games, the Union Pasific. However the game mechanics are quite different. In ticket to ride players try to establish train routes by collecting sets of similar coloured cards and playing them in pre defined routes on the map. Players may draw up to 2 cards per turn from limited selection of visible cards or randomly from the deck. Players also receive destination cards which define cities they must connect with their own routes. Destination cards give minus or plus points depending on if the player suffesfully connected the cities or not. Also the completed routes give points depending on the length. Because there are only limited number of routes, players must carefully priorize their routes that other players don't get change to block critical routes. The game ends when one of the players has only 2 trains left (or fewer).

Ticket to ride has simple rules which make it easy to learn even for non gamers. It is always exciting to see if one gets to build the route in time or if someone else decides to build just before you in the same place. Unfortunately the scoring system is broken. It seems that only way to win is to build long routes. Long routes generally go from east to west and short routes from north to south. If a player draws only destination cards with mostly short routes, he is quite much out of the game. The following example clarifies the problem:

Lets imagine a artificial situation, where we have 2 different 10 points destination cards. The value of the destination card is directly the amount of the total trains in the shortes route between the cities. In this case we imagine that in the first case there is 2 routes between the cities at length 6 and 4 trains while in the second case there are 5 routes each equal to 2 trains. now if we imagine that a player can draw optimal cards, he needs 5 turns to draw the 10 trains required to complete either of the routes. The player building the short routes needs additional 5 turns to place the trains to table, while the player with long routes only requires 2 turns to place the trains into the table. Each route with 2 trains gives 2 points, so the player with short routes would have used 10 turns to get 20 points (10 from trains and 10 from destination card). On the other hand the route with 6 trains gives 15 points and 4 trains 7 points, so the player with long routes only used 7 turns to get 32 points.

Of course it is not that easy to always get the optimal cards for the longer routes and a player may need to occasionally take the joker cards which mean he only receives 1 card per turn. In most cases, however a player simultaneously collects multiple colors and thus is not that limited for the selection. And event though this may somewhat lessen the turn advantage a player with longer routes will definitely gain more points for the routes. To make the game more balanced we tried to play such, that the points from placement of trains is just 1 point/train. This balances the game somewhat (alltough the longer routes are still a bit more cost effective and tend to give more points from the completed tickets), but the game becomes dull, because all players will gain about similar amount of points from train placement and the game is directly decided by the tickets and longest route card (so basically the situation did not change that much, only now the players playing long routes will win with smaller margin). It has proven to be very hard to fix the game with an easy house rule, because the problem is serious and inside the core mechanics of the game. It might be that fixing the tickets to give much more points for the tickets with short routes would fix the problem, but it is too much work for me. It's a pity, since the game would be fun to play, if fixed. As it is now, I might still sometimes try it, but not too often. A bit more balanced distribution of tickets helps a bit, for example such that the tickets of value 16 or higher are set in an separate pile and at the start of the game each player draws one ticket from the pile of long routes and two from the other. After that the tickets are all suffled to one pile. It may be, that the newer, Ticket to ride: Europe fixes some of the problems, because the map is not that clearly divided to long/short routes, but I have not yet played that one.

The USA 1910 expansion does not really repair the mentioned problems, but rather allows a bit different games by adding new destination cards and a bonus scoring for player with most completed destination cards. The new +15 points for most routes often leads many players for competition of drawing cards, which adds an extra luck factor to the game, because some player may get a lot of good routes and others may not. The short routes still don't give much advantage, because it is possible to get the most routes also with building longer routes. In the end the expansion does not offer much.
 

Tier auf Tier (Eläinpyramidi)

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: 10 minutes
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 23.2.2010

Simple dexterity game of piling animals into a pyramid designed for primarily children. Both players have a set of wooden animals that should be piled on the pyramid without causing it to collapse. A special dice is used to get some variation to the game. The dice is thrown first and players may get to place more than one animal to the pyramid, force another player to place opponent's animal or widen the base of the pyramid with the added animal. The game fast and has simple rules, making it good to be played with children. As a dexterity game it offers some potential for adults too, but is a bit too simple.

 

Tieto & Taito & Temppu

Rating: 3
Players: 2-6
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.2.2011

A throw and move game for children. The twist here is the cards, which are drawn from certain squares. While they do not have that much gamewise meaning, they add some meat to the game. The cards are either questions or contain some tasks. Additionally the gameboard consists of different seasons, which is educational for small children. As a game, Tieto & Taito & Temppu does not offer much, but the cards and the seasons board add enough educational value to make the game worthwile to play sometimes with children.
 

Tigris & Euphrates

Rating: 9
Players: 2-4
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 30.6.2007

Tigris & Euphrates is one of the better boardgames around. Idea of the game is to collect four colors of chips by building cities and fighting conflicts. All is done by placing tiles that represent buildings and markers that represent leaders. It would be easy to obtain large amount of one or two colors of the chips. But as always, Knizia's scoring system is brilliant. One's victory points are equal to the chips of the color he has the least. So one may have many times the chips than some other and still lose, if he is low on some color.

There is some luck in game, because tiles draw is random. Real skill comes in, when you have to think how best use the tiles you have that rarely are optimal. To win one must always take risks. If it did not work out the way you had thought, you can usually figure out a new strategy and try with it. This game can't be won solely by luck, but sometimes it helps. It is quite hard to make long term plans, because the map may change drastically when a conflict occurs. Like in many good games, there is always this "if I just had one more action" feeling. There rarely are obvious choices and games are usually very close, keeping the tension up through the whole game. Still it is possible that some player gets banished from all the big cities and if he is unable to draw temples at that time it might be impossible for him to fight for victory anymore. When playing Ingenious, I started wondering if a similar tile exchange rule could be used to help in such situations also in Tigris & Euphrates. Something like: "If a player only has 1 or no leaders at the board at end of his turn (before drawing tiles), he may show his hand and if there are no temple tiles, he may change his whole hand for free". This is untested at the moment, however.

Playing Tigris & Euphrates requires much thinking and it is not a light game. With slow players the turns may take quite long, but after a few playes the game usually gos smoothly. There are usually actions during other players turns, when conflicts are solved. In the english version that I have, is a river bug. For some reason the artist has painted an extra river space, that is not in the original version. It's quite confusing and will affect the game balance if misinterpreted as a river space. For players who like to think, I strongly recommend this one.
 

Top Secret

Rating: 1
Players: 2-6
Game time: 20 minutes
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 28.6.2007

I don't know whether to laugh or cry with this one. This is what you get when buying random games from a super discount shelf:( Okay, players play cards simultaneously and put them to safe (produce points), if they were secret documents. There is also a bomber, who detsroys all and a player must remember to shout "Boom" or whatever. A mole can steal others documents and the female agent protects documents. If someone is approaches you with this game, run for your life. The only good thing I can think of is that it is rather short, so if you for some reason end up playing it, the torture will be over soon.
 

Torres

Rating: 8
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 23.7.2007

There is no luck in Torres, when played with master rules. This makes the game a little dry. Because of that, the game is one of the few, which are actually funnier when played with the basic rules. The biggest problem here is the downtime. Other players moves influence your game so much that its hard to think your moves beforehand. It is at best, when players agree, that they don't count everything precisely and so the game can actually be played in the ninety minutes the box suggests. Unfotunately I have fitnessed games over four hours long. Some people just can't help themselves...:). If you can life with the downtime, the game is a braiburner, but an interesting one with lot of decisions and variables to keep track of.

The idea is to build castles with towers as tall as possible with limited action points, resources and turns. Towers do any good only, if your own knight is at the top when scoring happens. There is three scoring spaces. The game works well with three or four players. The game has nice solid pieces that make it possible to play outdoors even if it's little windy.
 

Trans America

Rating: 4
Players: 2-6
Game time: 20 minutes/round
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak

 

Trivial Pursuit + Genus III + Millenium edition + 90's edition

Rating: 5
Players: 2-24
Game time: 1-2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 12.1.2008

Trivial pursuit is a classic questions game with many versions. All versions use the same basic system and the differences are rather nominal. The game itself is quite good, but there are some problems. The main issue with all guestions games is the replay value. After the questions have once been read through there is not much point to play the game anymore. Another thing is the fact that the questions are not equally hard. Especially I hate the questions where a change is given like: "Is it this or this?". Usually we just discard that kind of questions right away. In newer versions, the overall guality of the guestins seems to be better, but it seems that the amount of guestions is getting less, which means less plays until players know the guestions too well. I would like to see more cheap expansions which simply add more guestions to the game (or even electronic database with a lot of guestions). Unfortunately most of the editions include the board and pieces ass well (often very high guality, which means expensive), so one is needlesly forced to buy (almost) the same board and pieces to get new guestions.
 

Turbo Taxi

Rating: 3
Players: 2-4
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 15.8.2008

Turbo taxi is a very simple speed game, where players use 12 road tiles to build a suitable 3 times 3 road network using a random center tile. The network must connect two different colored cars to their corresponding houses. The cars and houses may be placed on any side of the map. The player, whose network is ready first, gets the center tile as a point token and a new round begins. The game is very simple and one learns the road combination fast, which reduces the replay value of the game close to zero. However, because the game is so simple, I see some potential in it as a children's game.  

Trouble (Kimble)

Rating: 3
Players: 2-4
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract

 

Turn the Tide (Land Unter)

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: 10 minutes/round
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 29.12.2006

 

Twilight Imperium 3rd edition

Rating: 6
Players: 3-6
Game time: 5+ hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong

 

Ubongo

Rating: 6
Players: 2-6
Game time: 30 minutes
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine
Edited: 11.10.2009

Ubongo is a speed game. The idea is to fill an area with tetris pieces as fast as possible. Players who are able to finish their area before the sand in hourglass runs out get 2 diamonds as a reward. The ones completing their puzzle faster, get more options for the diamonds picks. In the end, the winner is the player with most diamonds of one color.

I'm wery bad at speed games, but for some reason I still generally like them. Ubongo is another addition for the series, it is nice to solve the buzzless even if one is not the fastest and the suitable amount of randomnes gives a slight change for slower players to sometimes win. In the long run the game gets a bit old, since players are able to memorize the puzzles.
 

Union Pacific

Rating: 6
Players: 2-6
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

In Union Pacific players build trains for different train companies. As the companies grow so does their value. Each time a player builds a train he is allowed to take one share from a set of shares taken from the deck. Another option to do in ones turn is to put some of your shares in to the table from your hand. There are 4 dividend cards in the deck and when one is drawn all players get money from the companies they own most or second most shares (Only the shares in the table are counted). The game ends after the fourth dividend is drawn.

I like the basic mechanics much. One can try to be a part of many companies or to concentrate a few companies. The game is quite light and does not require that much thinking, but it is very exciting, because there is always hard decisions to be made and it is nice to take over someones company who has build it with hard labor. But the rules are seriously flawed and the game needs quite a lot of tuning before it is balanced. First of all the errata should be used that union pacific shares are not taken directly but instead a player may swap one of his shares for union pacific share after building a train and taking a share.
Another problem with the game is that the starting player is always the same. he will gain a twofold benefit for that: First of all he has a good probability to get an extra turn compared to other players in the round before each dividend. Of course the second player has an advantage to the third player and the last is in the worst position. Of course each turn that people put their shares in the table does not check for dividend, but still the first players has the advantage. Another issue is that the first players have the first shot for the Union Pafific shares and thusautomatically gain majority if they so wish. For these reasons we usually use either rotating startplayer or randomly select the starting player after each round. This way the same player does not get always the benefit of being first.
The last big problem with the game balance is the union pacific shares themselves. They are just too valuable compared to other shares and if played with original rules the winner needs to be strong in UP. To fix this the value of UP shares needs to be diminished somehow. Currently we use a simple trick just to ignore the largest pay altogether. This also means that one player less will gain anything from UP shares. It has worked quite nicely this far
In addition we usually use the advanced shuffle variant where the dividents are divided more evenly through the deck. This lessens the luck element and makes the game more strategic. After the rules are tuned down Union Pacific is quite a nice game. Not too heavy but very intense. Of course luck still has large role here, but it leaves room for strategic and tactical choices also.
 

Uno

Rating: 3
Players: 2-10
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Louhi
Edited: 19.11.2006

Uno is a classic card game, where players try to get rid of their cards. In addition to number cards of different colours, the deck contains some special cards to change color, reverse the turn order, make next player to draw more cards or to skip turn. The idea is to play multiple rounds and after one empties his hand, others get minus points from the cards in hand. The game is very simple and best played with children. For more mature players I recommend a bit more complex Gang of Four instead of Uno.
 

UR

Rating: 6
Players: 3-4
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Edited: 19.11.2006

Ur is an almost abstract empire building game that plays rather fast for a such. The rules are basically rather simple, but not very well written and it takes more than one reading to get them right. The idea is to collect sets of different colored tiles that represent different aspects of a civilization: agriculture, diplomacy, trade, education and warfare. Tiles are randomly arranged in a 6*6 square. Each tile is two sided. A player has one tile in a hand and it defines the two action he may perform that turn. the tile is always changed afterwards to a different free tile on board. Basically agriculture, education and trade are used to get more cubes (which can be used to control the tiles) to board. Diplomacy rearranges ones cubes and warfare can be used to attack the neighboring cubes. Basically the game goes so that first a player brings all the cubes on board and then uses diplomacy and war to expand, which costs some cubes, which are then again brought back to board next round. of course picking the optimum tiles gets harder as people expand and there are less free tiles. Players may also build Ziggurats, which are unconguerable and are counted as jokers in the end. the game ends when 5 Ziggurats are build or there are no free tiles on the board.

Basically the idea of the game is rather nice and in principle there are huge amount of possibilities. Still the game feels quite straigthforward and a bit dry. Also often it feels that it ends before it really get going. There are some nice mechanics and I will likely play UR if someone suggests it, but it did not convince me enough to buy it myself.
 

Urland

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine

Urland is a sequel of Ursuppe. While in Ursuppe we had amoebas swimming in primeval soup, in Urland evolution has progressed and the strange lizards called ichtos are trying to move from water to the dry land. The map consists of islands and seas around them. At first all ichtos are in the seas. Players have 2 actions in their turn which can be to breed (only in water) or to move the ichtos from one sea to another or from sea to land. The ichtos can not move actively move from land back to water. To breed a player must have at least 3 ichtos in a sea and also other players ichtos will breed if they have enough ichtos in that sea. A turn goes as follows: The first player secretly chooses an island from 3 possible choices and gives the 2 remaining island number chips to the next player, who will be the selector in next turn. These two players will be doing nothing else and only the rest will take the ichto actions. After the actions the selected island is revealed and scored. the weakest ichto tribe is killed and others will get victory points. When there are only 2 islands left, one of them is randomly selected for scoring and then a volcano erupts from both of them killing some of the ichtos in those islands and melting some of the islands together. The new era is thus began with less islands. There are also 3 mutation auctions during the game which are activated when one of the players acquires enough points. The auction mechanism is very interesting, because the bidding is done with the ichtos not placed in the playing area yet but the actual paying is done by removing an appropriate amount of ichtos from the gameboard.

At firts clance Urland may seem just blind quessing and partly this is true. In the end the game is about controlling as many islands as possible with a limited number of ichtos. If one manages to ques correctly the order of islands to be scored, he will be in a very strong position. Still each player may in turn affect the island to be scored. The problem is, that in the turn one selects the island, he will not be able to change the situation on board and thus he must ques if he is still leading the island after the others have done their moves. Also some of the players are better informed of the available choices than others. One could invest heavily on only a few islands and trust that his lead will hold. The risk is that other players will easily gues his intentions and use some nasty genes to for example drive all the ichtos back to sea. Another issue is that if the volcano breaks up in thet island, the loss will be significant. Another strategy could be to move a few ichtos in many islands. This works fine, if the timing is right, but if others can ques the island right, he may end up being the weakest in many islands and losing large amount of ichtos and points. All these things combined form a interesting setup, where luck has a signifant role, but also good strategic choices are important. Some of the genes are very powerfull and worth a large bid, but on the other hand one should be carefull not to overbid and become extict. Compared to Ursuppe, Urland is a very different game. It is clearly lighter, faster, has more luck and has a bluffing element. It is not as unforgiving to mistakes as Ursuppe, given that it is still possible to extict ones species with careless play. All in all Urland is an oroginal and fun game and also suitable for non-gamers. The significant luck element may shy off some players though.
 

Valley of the Mammoths

Rating: 5
Players: 2-6
Game time: 2-5 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.10.2006

In valley of the mammoths the players are controlling a small tribes of cave people in the stone age. The goal is to establish 4 villages (or caves) and keep them 2 turns in a row. Sounds easy, but it usually is not. In addition to the other players tribes many hazards await the primitive man. One needs a large tribe to support the 4 cites and fight of the opponents and animals, but the more population one has, the more they eat and hunger is not the most uncommong cause of death in the game.

Valley of mammoths is a very chaotic game. The random events may really change the situation dramatically and also some of the event cards that players may play are rather devastating to the opponent. It is very hard to predict how long a game will take, sometimes some player gets very good start and the events and dice are favourable and the game is over very fast. On other games all get beaten reqularly and equally and the game takes many hours. In addition to the random events, there is a lot of luck in the battles which are decided with a die: bigger number wins (of course bonuses are applied first). Sometimes a lone animal just happens to eat your whole tribe:) Another die throw, which can ruin your game are the births. Because Men do all the fighting. Women are needed for supporting and creating villages and breeding, but they do not fight against men and change sides when confronted with men from other tribe. If one manages to breed only women, that usually means a quick death, because the neighbors who got the fighting men will be using them to get your defenseless women. Often there are large struggles between two tribes rather early and it is common to someone be totally killed quite fast. If one dies during the first year, he gets a second, somewhat weakened, tribe to start again. After that the death is final and the player is out of game. The strongets parts of Valley of mammoths is the strong theme and especially the card graphics, which are hilarious. I find myself always laughing aloud for some of the cards. Otherwise the hard to evaluate game time and large chaos factor keeps WOTM from being played too often, but when played occasiaonally, it can be quite entertaining. It is a plus that the game works with 6 players, which is too many for most games.
 

Vampire: The Eternal Struggle

Rating: 6
Players: 2-5+
Game time: 2+ hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 3.12.2006

 

Vasco da Gama

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 17.2.2011

 

Vegas Showdown

Rating: 7
Players: 3-5
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Edited: 24.12.2009

 

Verräter

Rating: 6
Players: 3-4 (best with 4)
Game time: about an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

Verräter is a card game where the gameboard is constructed of a ring of cards. The cards represent cities belonging to two fighting scottish families: the Eagles and the Roses. At the beginning 2 players side with the Eagles and the other 2 with the Roses. The game last for 8 rounds or as long as both families control at least one city. At each round players select secretly a role card (as in Ohne Furcht und Adel) and there is a battle between adjoining Eagle/Rose cities. The players may play cards to boost the strenght of their side. The thing is that after the boosting cards are played, the role cards are revealed and someone may be the traitor (verräter) and switch sides and thus all his cards are counted for the other family. The winning side scores points based on the players on the winnig side and also the size of the conguered city and the city card is flipped and thus belongs now to the other family. The other role cards include diplomats that increase the fighting power of the side, Farmer which allows a drawing of extra cards, builder which alows the construction of special buildings and the strategist who can select the next place of conflict and also gains extra points.

Verräter is a compact cardgame with some strategic and tactical elements. It is easy to take anywhere due to small size. There is some luck because of the random card draws, but bluffing and the anticipation of opponents moves is far more important. Usually risks have to be taken to win. The two extra points from strategist seems quite strong, and it is often the first pick. The game does not work with three and is only worth playing with four people. Despite the fact that Verräter is a decent game, I like more of its sequel, Meuterer and also often instead of Verräter Ohne Furcht und Adel gets picked. Compared to Meuterer, Verräter is somewhat heavier and requires more strategic planning
 

Viceroys

Rating:
Players: 1-7
Game time:
Luck factor:
Heaviness:
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme:
Collection: Louhi

 

Viisasten kokous

Rating: 2
Players: 2-6 teams
Game time: 2 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine

Old Finnish questions game from eighties. The guestions are too complex, there are not enough of them and the whole game is no fun.
 

Villa Paletti

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4
Game time: 10-20 minutes
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak

A dexterity game. The rules are not very hard to learn but rather very poorly written and it is imbossible to say have we been playing the game right.

 

Vinci

Rating: 8
Players: 1-6 (best with 5 or 6)
Game time: 2-5 hours (depends on the used ending limit)
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

Vinci is quite a strange game. While it somewhat resembles empire building games a'la Civilization its basic idea is different and the game is quite abstract. In Vinci one doesn't command his own kingdom from unsignifiance to greatness but rather commands one kingdom a period of time and when its possibilities are used up, starts again with a new one. Players score points from their current kingdoms but also from the old ones that are said to be in decline and are dying away to make room for the new powers. The different kingdoms do not have a name or fixed starting positions and the player may start his kingdom where he estimates the situation to be most favorable. Each kingdom gets two special powers that are randomly selected. The powers also determine the amount of military markers that are used to expand ones area. Usually this means attack on someones else terroritory. The battles are very simple: A player takes all his free military markers and starts to use the to invade neighboring provinces. Amount of needed markers is determined by landscape and the amount of markers there is to defend the province. The defender loses one marker per lost area in battle. Attacker is automatically victorius if he just has enough markers, otherwise he is unable to attack at all. The gameboard is quite a strange map of Europe where each area represent different type of terrain and the borders don't matc any real national borders.

I like Vinci quite a lot. Still there are a few problems that need to be taken into account before the game really shines. First of all the game is much better with hidden scores, because with visible scores it is too easy to just screw the leader up. Also when played with visible scores it is not nice to be the starting player, because often people just look that he has the most points and forget that he has also played one turn more than the others. The third reason for the hidden scores is that no one wants to get hit and for that reason everybody else is constantly giving "good" advices where to expand to keep his own kingdom safe. Usually the argument is to hit the leader and with hidden scores the depate seems to fall in reasonable level compared to games with visible scores. Another house rule we like to use is to remove totally hopeless combos of special powers (two yellows, if at least one of them is not the miner). Especially in short games to take that kind of kingdom would be next to suicide and when there is 3 of them in the row it is not very nice to pay 6 points to get a decent kingdom. That being said the different special powers are very nice and make the kingdoms quite unique. Timing is important issue, because old kingdom may produce quite much points before its final destruction if correctly played. One problem is however that because players may choose their starting locations freely one player may decide to ruin somebodys game along with his own and there is very little one can do to against it. All in all Vinci is a very good game with some strategic elements, much tactical choices and a touch of diplomacy. Still not that much fun if played with someone whose purpose is not to win but just to make sure that you don't win either.
 

Wallenstein

Rating: 6
Players: 3-5
Game time: 3 hours
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine

Wallenstein is situeted in the thirty year's war. each player gets to play with one of the famous characters from that time. The characters have no differences between them, so itäs only a color, but the game includes some historical data about these characters. The map consists of 5 regions which each are divided in 9 countries. Each player gets 7 countries (with 5 players) to start with. These countries can be used to produce food/money, build armies or buildings. The thing is that each country can do only one thing in one turn: Each player secretly plays the avalaible country cards on top the 10 possible actions. This also means that players may perform only one of each type of action each turn. There is a possibility to make 2 attacks/turn. the battles are solved with special tower: the armies (wooded cubes) of both sides are thrown into the cube and the side will be victorius of whom the more cubes come out. Both sides lose the amount of cubes equal to the losers army and the winner keeps the rest of his army. The game is played in 2 years, which both consist of 3 building rounds and a scoring round. Points are awarded from the amount of owned countries and buildings. If one is unable to feed his people, some of the countries may revolt. This limits the maximum size of a players empire.

Wallenstain requires quite a bit strategic planning but also tactics are important. The single most influential source of luck is the initial selection of countries. Because players only have 2 random cards to choose from some players may end up having a poor starting position (Is the countries are too spread out, it is very hard to defend them). Fortunately it is easy to do diminish the luck factor by allowing each player for example 1 or 2 free picks. This means that if they don't want to take any of the available countries, they have the option of taking any of the remaining countries from the deck. Also the random playing order can be revealed beforehand or even auctioned, but I prefer the original rule on that one. The tower works rather nicely, because usually if you lose one battle because of the tower eating your cubes the changes are that the cubes reappear in later battles. Still the tower manages to surprise every now and then turning a sure victory to a defeat. There is still one problem with the combat system: Both participants of a battle will lose a good portion of their troops as a result of a battle. This means that if two factions fight a major war, no matter which one conguers the area, both faction will be weakened and an easy pray for other factions. This limits rather much the military side of the game and only encourages players to have minor borders skirmishes. The luck factor is just right for this type of game to keep things interesting. Of course diplomacy also has a role here, like in all games of this genre, but not that significant as for example in Game of Thrones. All in all, Wallenstein is rather heavy and somewhat long game, but also has very interesting mechanics. Unfortunately the battle system somewhat handicaps the game because big war just is not an winning option for either side.. As far as I know, english version has not been bublished, but the german language is not a huge problem due to the excellent translations that can be found from Boardgamegeek.

Tips:
It is a good idea to put the tower in separate table, because shaking often makes the cubes drop.
 

War of the ring

Rating: 9
Players: 2-4
Game time: 3+ hours
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong

 

Web of Power (Kardinaal & Koning)

Rating: 8
Players: 3-5
Game time: Less than an hour
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

Web of power is rather simple game. In a turn players may place either houses or diplomats in various countries in europa by playing appropriate cards from their hand. The game ends after the deck has been depleted twice. Players score points from each country based on the amount of houses. Players may also try to build chains of houses to acquire extra points. The amouunt of diplomats that can be placed in a country is dependent on the amount and color of the houses. The diplomats score points if a player has majority in two neighboring countries.

The aspect of card dawing introduces quite a large luck factor to the game. Still, because the cards are not drawn blindly players have some control over the cards and also two similar ones can be used as a joker. Thus there is a feeling of control and the draws don't feel too random. The game mechanics and scoring system are very elegant giving the game a feeling of good design. However, the graphical design of the board is rather ugly. The playing time is rather short, so rematches are easy to take. Web of power is a good choice if you are looking for fast to play tactical game with some luck.

 

Werewolf (Lupus in Tabula)

Rating: 6
Players: 9-23
Game time: 10 minutes
Luck factor: Average
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Louhi

 

Who's the Ass?

Rating: 4
Players: 3-12
Game time: 15 minutes/round
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine

Who is the Ass? is a simple Dalmuti-like game with a special ass card. Additionally the deck contains 8 pieces of numbers from 1 to 13 and 5 joker cards that are alone 14 and can be played with any other cards. The idea is to get rid of ones cards by playing series of same numbers and other players can then play the same amount of bigger numbers until nobody wants to play and a new round starts. If the ass card is played, all other players play a single card and who did play the largest number takes all the cards. When first player runs out of cards all other players get minus points for all their remaining cards by the number value of each card.

At first the game seemed promising, but in the end it is all about what kind of cards one draws. It is possible to never get a change to play a single card if the cards go poorly.The ass is quite a nice idea and it is a risk to leave only large numbers in hand. However it is easy to play so (if the cards allow) that the last card in hand is small and thus eliminate the risk from ass. If someone now manages to empty his hand the few points from single small card mean nothing. The main problem is the fact that there are equal amount of all numbers in the deck. Thus very large series are rare and if one does not have any jokers or 13:s it is quite hard to get the lead or even get rid of the semi large numbers. Still the 11:s and 10:s are almost as many negative points in hand even though it is much harder to get to play them. Still Who is the Ass? can be rather decent as a light party game to spend time with if there are too many/few players for Dalmuti. Otherwise Dalmuti is definitely better in the genre.
 

Wyatt Earp

Rating: 5
Players: 2-4 (best with 3)
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 14.10.2006

In Wyat Earp the players try to catch famous otlaws. This is done by collecting sets of cards representing the outlaw in guestion. Each card adds 2 capture points and one player must play at least 3 cards in one time to get started. After that all players may play the cards for that outlaw freely. The catch is thatthere must be a total of 8 capture points to catch the outlaw in the first place. If the outlaw is captured, all players who are within 4 capture points from the one who has most will get to share the reward. In addition there are different sheriff cards in the deck. Only one of these can be played each turn. In addition a player must discard a card at end of turn. A round ends when one of the plaeyrs empties his hand. The game is played until a player has 25000 dollars of reward money (which usually takes 3-4 rounds).

The basic system of Wyat earp works fine. However, for me there is a problem with the sheriff cards. Because most of them require "a succesful shot" to succeed. This means that the player must turn the top card of the deck. If it's an outlaw card, the effect works, but if it is a sheriff card, the effect of the played sheriff card fails. For me it is annoying, because the sheriff cards have big effect to the game and the system just feels too random. This is especially true with the hideout card, which can really ruin your game, if you have bad luck. It can also be a kingmaker card. Of course there are other factors which also add randomness to the game, like which cards one draws. Basically Wyat Earp is a decent game, but the hideout system somewhat decreases my opinnion of it. Despite of that, it will probably be rather reqularly played, because it works with 3 players, which is a difficult amount of players for most games.
 

Yahtzee

Rating: 3
Players: 1 or more
Game time: half an hour
Luck factor: Large
Heaviness: Light
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine

A classic dice throwing game. Fast and easy to learn. Almost solely luck dependent.
 

Yinsh

Rating: 8
Players: 2
Game time: Half an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Louhi

 

Ys

Rating: 6
Players: 2-4
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Quite small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Quite complex
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine

 

Yspahan

Rating: 7
Players: 2-4
Game time: Over an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Average
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Weak
Collection: Mine
Edited: 21.10.2007

 

Yundao

Rating: 4
Players: 2-5
Game time: About half an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Quite simple
Theme: Abstract
Edited: 13.11.2006

Yundao was a disappointment for a Knizia game. Piles of palace tiles eat other piles to gain heigth. Players also play cards to change the outcomes of the batless in similar way as in LOTR the confrontation (which does not help the game). I have only played once, but the game was dry and boring and I'm not waiting to get to play it again.
 

Zanziar

Rating: 7
Players: 2-6
Game time: 3 hours
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Heavy
Complexity of rules: Complex
Theme: Strong
Collection: Mine
Edited: 13.2.2011

 

Zertz

Rating: 8
Players: 2
Game time: half an hour
Luck factor: Small
Heaviness: Quite heavy
Complexity of rules: Simple
Theme: Abstract
Collection: Mine

Zertz is an abstract game with no luck. The gameboard is a hexagon constructed of removable ballholders. Players place balls of three colors in turn to the board and also remove one ballholder. Eating is done in checkers like fashion by jumping over the balls and is mandatory. The game ends when one player acquires either 3 white, 4 grey or 5 black balls or 2 of ech color. Zertz is The third game of the GIPF project.

The rules of zertz are extremely simple. Still the game is quite a brainburner. The design is very nice and the parts are of high quality. I could imagine that people who like chess would also like Zertz. Still I am not a huge fan of chess but I like Zertz very much. It does not mean that I am good at it:) Zertz can be recommended for anyone looking a rather quick two player game for mental challenge.

 

Zooloretto

Rating: 7
Players: 2-5
Game time: About an hour
Luck factor: Quite large
Heaviness: Quite light
Complexity of rules: Average
Theme: Neutral
Collection: Mine
Edited: 12.10.2009

Zooloretto resembles very much Coloretto, as both games use similar mechanics. Zooloretto is more complicated of the two, adding playing boards for players and money system, which can be used for different actions. Coloretto is simple and compact little game, while Zooloretto has more meat around it's bones. I have not yet decided which one I prefer.


  Some boardgame related links: