Top 10 board games of 2011

Welcome to my top 10 board games of 2011. The games released that year I like the most today. It was the first year I logged more than 300 plays on Board Game Geek, with more than 50 of those being Race for the Galaxy. But I played more than 60 different games in total. And went to my first board game convention, LoBsterCon. I was officially hooked!

Today I have five 2011 games in my collection (four below, plus BraveRats – a clever two-player micro game that didn’t quite make the list). While I’ve previously owned the likes of King of Tokyo (below), Pergamon (decent tile game you can try at Yucata) and Mage Knight (solid, but too long and dry for me).

Rhino Hero was probably number 11 – a fun balancing game for kids and adults alike. Euro games Hawaii (also on Yucata) and Walnut Grove don’t quite do it for me, but are popular with friends. While I enjoyed my play of light euro Airlines Europe – but no one I played with did. Also worthy of checking out, if they’re your thing, are Sentinels of the Multiverse (excellent co-operative superhero card game), Mansions of Madness (equally excellent horror co-op) and Infarkt (a comedy/medical worker placement game where you try not to have a heart attack – you have to play it to believe it…).

My Top 10 board games of 2011

10. King of Tokyo
3-6 players, 45-60 mins

This is one I owned, but not enough friends liked to bother keeping. Luckily it proved a massive hit, so I still get to play at cons – there’s usually a copy around. It’s a light Yahtzee-style dice combat game, with a great table presence. Lime green dice and chunky cardboard standees really add to the experience. While the mass of special powers (via cards) give the game plenty of variety. Really needs 4+ players to sing, due to the game’s core ‘king of the hill’ style knockout combat mechanism.

9. Friday
1 player, 30 mins

Friday is a great small box solo card game. Through a clever multi-use card system, you go through the card deck attempting to beat challenges to improve your character. You choose which of two challenges to face each time. The ones you beat are added to your own deck. But the ones you fail, or ignore, will come back harder the second time through. And the third. This keeps the game surprisingly varied each time. And the fact it packs down small makes it a great travel companion.

8. Drako: Dragon & Dwarves
2 players, 30 mins

Drako is a great two-player only asymmetric abstract game. One player plays the dragon; the other a set of three dwarves hunting it. Each side has a unique card deck they play through (once), trying to defeat their opponent. Otherwise the dragon escapes (and wins). The game plays out in a small arena and is cleverly balanced. The dragon is a single target, but dwarven hits can take out one of its powers – rendering some of its cards useless. While the dragon can move well, so ca try to target one dwarf at a time – or can just try to evade. Play online at Yucata.

7. Village
2-4 players, 90 mins

Village is a medium complexity euro game that still holds a place in the BGG Top 200 games. While largely a standard worker placement/contract fulfilment game, it stands apart thanks to its generations mechanism. Over time your workers grow old and die, leaving behind a legacy for latter generations of workers. This twist is enough to make it stand out, and stand the test of time. As does its really well-balanced mix of tactical and strategic decisions. Play online at Tabletopia.

6. Letters From Whitechapel
2-6 players, 1-2 hours

Now for a one-versus-all co-operative game. Essentially Scotland Yard on steroids, one player is Jack the Ripper attempting to avoid the authorities. London is represented on a huge, gorgeous map containing 200 locations. Over a series of rounds, Jack announces where his latest victim is – and then tries to get back to his set hideout. Each murder should let the investigators narrow down where they think the hideout is. But if Jack escapes after his fifth murder, he wins. Brilliant with the right crowd.

Top 10 board games of 2011 – The Top 5

5. Artus
2-4 players, 60 mins

Somehow this little abstract ranks a lowly 3,537th in the BGG listings. Especially when you note it is designed by famed pairing Kramer and Kiesling. But I’m really fond of it. Players jostle for the best seats around King Arthur’s round table, with different seats being worth points. You play cards each turn to manipulate positions, but also to trigger scoring. You all have the same set of cards, and have to use them all, so it’s a constant battle trying to set yourself up to score. A unique, chaotic and fun experience.

4. Trajan
2-4 players, 2 hours

Trajan is a typically point salady euro game from Stefan Feld, with a tricksy mancala mechanism. The game is really in the mancala, as you try to manipulate different coloured stones into the right places to pull off powerful actions. This is a clever, brain-burning challenge. But the rest is a little bit bog-standard (claim board spaces, gain bonuses, get resources etc). It’s good, but it is telling I’ve never picked it up – and it’s not even (spoiler alert) his best game of 2011. But then I’d never turn down a game and always enjoy it.

3. Castles of Burgundy
2-4 players, 60-90 mins

Considered by many to be Stefan Feld’s best design, Burgundy still ranks in the BGG Top 20 games of all time. A simple dice mechanism sees players competing for tiles, which they place on their own board to score points. Players are largely doing the same thing. But it is the ebb and flow of point scoring, and how timing is so key, that makes it sing. It has the classic Feld euro tropes: loads of ways to score points, plus lots of luck – alongside time/action consuming ways to mitigate it. Play online at Yucata.

2. Vanuatu
2-5 players, 90 mins

Beating the two Felds to ‘number 1 euro of 2011’ is this gem. It looks friendly, with pretty islands and turtles. But just below the surface is a mean and interactive worker placement game. It’s kind of an action auction, as you have to have the most workers on an action to do it next. This means you can risk spreading your workers thin, but if you get to your turn and don’t have the lead on any actions – you can’t do anything. And worse, you have to remove a worker from the board. Tough, clever, brilliant. Play online at Boite a Jeux.

1. Kingdom Builder
2-6 players, 60 mins

Kingdom Builder is somewhere on the family game/light euro spectrum. But whether you like it seems to very much black or white. The divisiveness stems from the central mechanism: draw a card, and place pieces on board spaces matching that colour. People have issues with this, because once you’ve places pieces you have to build out from those if you can. This means bad early placement can really limit your options – making for a bad first experience. But it really is worth sticking with. Check out my review for more (linked in the game title). Play online at Board Game Arena.

Notable titles that didn’t make my list

Overall, it was a strong year for releases. There are still 30 2011 games in the Board Game Geek Top 500; with 4 in top 100 and one of those in top 20. Of those, games notable for their absence below include Eclipse (OK space 4X, but soon became tedious and predictable); Ora et Labora (resource conversion ad nauseum); and A Few Acres of Snow (clever historical deck-builder that just didn’t grab me).

Top games in the ‘I need to get around to playing those’ list were Lord of the Rings: The Card Game and Sekigahara. But if I missed anything let me know and I’ll give them a go.

Game retrospective 2020, #2: My top gaming moments

2020 eh? One quarter normal, three quarters stuck at home. But thanks to a bunch of online platforms, my board game play count was up versus 2019. I got to play a bunch of slightly older games that had passed me by; several of which became instant favourites. While I soon learned to cherish those few opportunities to physically sit around a table. So despite the obvious, 2020 ended up being a pretty good year for my board gaming.

The year started well, with Sarah, me and two friends (Karl and Ann) doing a bit of gaming in a New Forest Air B&B. While I also got a couple of good game days in. February was SorCon, and March AireCon – but the country was literally locking down as I returned from Harrogate on the train. Sarah and me managed a couple of weekends away late summer, and we had a few local well ventilated sessions then too. But that was it for ‘real’ gaming.

2021’s SorCon has been cancelled, while any hopes for AireCon recede by the day. So it will be at least a full year without normality. But let’s not dwell on that. And instead get back to my gaming highlights of 2020. (Note: See end of post for links to online versions of many of the games mentioned.)

My 3 best ‘real’ gaming experiences of 2020

  • SorCon: AireCon was weird. There was a strange atmosphere and low attendance due to the rising Covid tensions. Several people I’d hoped to game with didn’t come, leaving me a little rudderless. But SorCon the month before had been great. There’s something reassuringly average about a Holiday Inn. And it’s a con with a very friendly atmosphere. I got to play several favourites (Thurn & Taxis, Delphi, Pharaon, Snowdonia, Heaven & Ale). Some sillier games I rarely get to air out (Junk Art, Celestia). While also discovering an odd little card game (#MyLife).
  • Lazy Sundays: I only really see Sarah properly once every couple of weekends, when she doesn’t have her kids. Which often end with a lazy Sunday morning rounded off with a few games. Early in 2020, I also got into the habit of going to my local pub on Sunday evenings to game with the landlord’s family. While Sunday also often includes an afternoon session with my Cambridge group. So a good Sunday could include a lie in, cooked breakfast, a proper beery evening and a good five games or so. That’s the life!
  • AlexCon: OK it wasn’t a con. It was just a visit from main co-LoBsterCon organiser Alex. But in a year where I didn’t see some of my favourite people face-to-face at all, it felt significant! And he’d never been to my house, so the pressure was on. I even had a bath (no I didn’t). But whatever it wasn’t, it was a good two days of gaming. Ten games, including first plays for me of the marvellous Brass: Birmingham and Antiquity. While Sarah managed to pop over and beat us at Pharaon. We also played Azul, Pickomino, Bonfire and more. And I learned I don’t need to own Parks or Fox in the Forest (meh both).

Best individual plays: January to June 2020

January: Very much enjoyed a long 7th Continent session with Andy; while I lost a nail-biting Flamme Rouge when not drawing my final 7 on my last card draw. Either would’ve won most months – but a game of Concordia will live longest in the memory. It finished with scores of Karl 122, me 121 and Ann on 120. Absolutely epic play of one of my favourite games.

February: I don’t play my own games often, but really enjoyed my one 2020 play of Armageddon. It was with Dave, Lyndsey and Benjy upstairs at my local pub. Lyndsey got off to a flyer and looked to be coasting, but it pulled it back to only lose by 5 in the end (120-115). Dave and Benj niggling each other added comedy value and it’s always nice to teach people your own game and have them really enjoy it.

March: Despite AireCon, my favourite March play was a virtual game of Agricola on Boite a Jeux with Howie and Andy. It’s a game I enjoy but very rarely win. But this time I managed to get out of sync with my actions, allowing me to have little competition over my placements. I ended up seven points ahead of Howie on 40, which is the equivalent of a landslide victory for me.

April: I had some great online plays of some of my favourite games, including Terra Mystica and Concordia. But April’s highlight was learning to play fantastic solo game Nemo’s War. It follows the adventures of Captain Nemo and The Nautilus, with a variety of scenarios and story cards adding variety and flavour. The game is hard and puzzley, but the great art and use of text on the cards give it just enough theme and character.

May: I’m going to mention Fertility here. It’s a great, quick tile-laying game with very simple rules but lots or tactical and strategic depth. But just beating it to play of the month was an online game of Vanuatu with Chris and Jonathan. Neither of them had played it before, but it was a smooth teach and we all really enjoyed the play. It’s a super interactive worker placement game where clever play can really screw your opponents over.

June: One advantage of lockdown was looking elsewhere online to find games I’d never played, mostly with Alex. This included my first plays of many games in the Gipf series of abstracts (which are free to play on Boite a Jeux). They were all clever, but largely not my bag. But the exception was Dvonn. It’s fast with simple rules, but every move counts and if you’re lucky you can line up some killer moves. One I need to get in my collection.

Best individual plays: July to December 2020

July: An easy one, thanks to a five-game session of Race for the Galaxy with Howie and Andy. Yes, it’s my favourite game. But that wasn’t the reason it made this list. The credit here goes to the fantastic Steam implementation (which is less than £10). It makes the game a real pleasure to play online, with the first three expansions also available as DLC. Honourable mentions for learning games of the excellent Kanban and Mandala.

August: Several to choose from here, including my first plays in years of two games I really like. Firenze is up top of my wish list – a light euro which feels to me like an interactive and prettier Thurn and Taxis. While I also really enjoyed my re-introduction to worker placement classic Pillars of the Earth. But the win (just) goes to Nippon, another excellent worker placement game.

September: A lovely evening with my better half saw us play three great games. And it was a rare day when I won all three! I got a one-point win at Downfall of Pompeii; and put together a crushing final round in Azul. But topping that was a rare win at Targi. It’s a great two-player tableau-building gateway game. Resources can be tight, making every decision count. And you can really interfere with each other’s plans.

October: No Essen – boo! I really enjoyed learning new CGE games Arnak and Under Falling Skies, which gave me that new game vibe. But again it was two super close games with Sarah that stood out. We had a great game of Kingdomino (mighty duel), which she won by a point. But it was here two-point win at Thurn and Taxis that was the real highlight. It went right to the wire, being decided in the last couple of turns.

November: There’s something special about bringing someone into the board gaming fold. So this month’s pick goes to my first two plays of Ticket to Ride with local drinking buddy Vince. I don’t think he’ll ever be a ‘gamer’. But he’s taken to this and it has helped us both through the tough winter lockdown months. We’ve played four different maps now and he’s had his first win. And I can see a lot more defeats in my future…

December: Alex and I got a weekend of gaming in just before lockdown hit again. There were some great plays, but we agreed on the highlight – Brass: Birmingham. The original is the most criminally underplayed game on my shelves. So it was great to try this version. And what a great version it is. Route building, a tight economy and a good sprinkling of luck via the cards. I taught Sarah the original the next week, and she didn’t hate it!

Board game lockdown links

I linked to Boite a Jeux a couple of times in this post, and Steam; then realised there are several more of the games above that can also be played virtually. So rather than fiddling about trying to force links in, I’ve listed them below:

  • Brass: Birmingham is available on Tabletopia.
  • Concordia is at Boite a Jeux (including the Salsa expansion).
  • Downfall of Pompeii is available on Yucata.
  • Kingdomino is on Board Game Arena (you need a paid subscriber to start a game).
  • Nemo’s War is available on Tabletopia.
  • Nippon is surprisingly well implemented on Board Game Arena.
  • Targi can be found on both Yucata and Board Game Arena.
  • Thurn & Taxis is available on both Yucata and Board Game Arena. But the Yucata version has a far superior implementation, as well as the expansions.
  • Ticket to Ride has a fantastic app that can be played on mobile (Apple and Android/Kindle) or via Steam. All the links are here.
  • Under Falling Skies is free to try on Tabletopia.
  • Vanuatu is available at Boite a Jeux.

Board game Top 10: The best ‘new to me’ games 2020

There are lots of 2020 releases I wanted to play. But in these virusy times I’ve had trouble getting hold of them. The likes of Mariposas, Pan Am, Alma Mater, Castles of Tuscany and The Red Cathedral top the list. So hopefully more on those in 2021.

But here are the 10 new-to-me games, new and old, that impressed me most in when I learnt them in 2020.

I’ve split the list into on and offline plays, as it seemed appropriate for how the year went in terms of COVID19 lockdowns. All the ‘online’ titles are of course board games that are available to buy for your gaming table. It’s just that I’ve happened to learn and play them online in 2020. If you want to do the same, I’ve included links to the online platforms below. They’re all free-to-play after a relatively pain-free sign up process.

Best new to me games 2020: Online

  • Bruxelles 1893 (2-5 players, 1-2 hours, 2013): A brilliant and surprisingly interactive euro game. You’re very much ploughing your own furrow via action selection. But every action taken has majority consequences that affect a variety of bonuses. It gives a relatively simple game an extra dimension that really makes it sing.
  • Kanban (2-4 players, 2 hours, 2014): This is another surprisingly interactive euro game. And in similar ways. You’re selecting actions in pretty standard euro fashion. But timing is everything, as others can benefit from your hard work. While your own scoring can help your opponents as much as it does you. Clever stuff. and strangely thematic.
  • Mandala* (2 players, 20 minutes, 2019): This is a fantastic little two-player abstract game. In essence it’s a simple set collection and hand management game. What makes it stand out, alongside the gorgeous production, is the scoring. As players collect cards, it affects how that player will score each colour. Adding a great tactical dynamic.
  • Marco Polo II: In the Service of the Khan** (2-4 players, 1-2 hours, 2019): The original Marco Polo was close to great, but was for me let down by some daft design decisions. This sequel fixes everything, while keeping the euro worker placement heart of the original. Crazy strong player powers, a tight economy and multiple paths to victory.
  • Nippon (2-4 players, 1-2 hours, 2015): I usually don’t like area majority games. But this has so many clever little euro mechanisms going on I can totally forgive that. The kind of game that even when someone else does something clever that screws you over, you have to admire how they did it.

Honourable mentions to lighter filler games Chakra, Marrakech and Bubblee Pop, which all had a hand in keeping me sane through our various lockdowns.

* Mandala was on Tabletop Simulator, but was removed by the online rights holder.
** Marco Polo II needs at least one of the players to be a paid member of BGA to start a game. This can be as cheap as €2 per month.

Best new to me games 2020: Real life

Links below go to my reviews. Hence the largely shorter write-ups here. I really need to get around to reviewing Brass too.

  • Brass: Birmingham (2-4 players, 1-2 hours, 2018): I love the original Brass and didn’t feel I needed a new version in my life. And then I got to play it. It’s the same route-building card management euro game. But with a few of the slightly rough edges smoothed down (with beer, no less). Proving you can improve on a classic.
  • Foothills (2 players, 1 hour, 2019): A two-player Snowdonia game. It has the spirit of the original, but with enough differences to make it an interesting standalone alternative.
  • Lost Ruins of Arnak (2-4 players, 1-2 hours, 2020): Exploration, deck building, resource management and luck. Nothing original, but it all comes together in a hugely satisfying way.
  • Nemo’s War (1 player, 1-2 hours, 2017): Possibly the best complex solo board game I’ve played. Thematic and thinky, with the luck tempered by mitigation and risk-taking choices.
  • Pharaon (1-5 players, 1 hour, 2019): A great abstract worker placement light euro. Complex scoring and a clever way to plan your moves for later rounds. Plus a great solo mode.

Honourable mention to Under Falling Skies, another brilliant (if much lighter) solo experience. And Gods Love Dinosaurs – a fun little tile-laying game I’ve only managed to get one play of so far, but I very much enjoyed. Review incoming.

Looking back

I did a Top 5 ‘new to me’ list as part of my 2019 retrospective – so what do I think of those games a year on? The definite hits are Tales of Glory and Dizzle. Both are comfortably part of my collection and have had regular plays in 2020. I still have fond memories of my play of The Gallerist. But I haven’t had a chance to play it again since. But still want to.

Both Just One and La Cour des Miracles are also still in my collection. And likely to stay there. However, Just One is very much a party game – and 2020 hasn’t exactly been a party year… While La Cour is definitely better with three or four. And once again, 2020 hasn’t exactly been the best year to get a few friends around the table.

So that’s it for my best new to me games 2020. See you next year!

Game retrospective 2020, #1: My ‘most played’ & other game stats

Well, we made it to 2021. And the less said about 2020 the better. But that’s not going to stop me geeking my way through my annual retrospective posts. Which are a nerdy dive into some of my gaming stats from the past 12 months.

I always start by talking about how I viewed the year in terms of new releases. But no Essen Spiel – or cons that follow it – means I’m less prepared. As those events are great for discussing and playing all the new releases.

Some publishers have upped their online presence. But I’ve really struggled to get into online cons. I’ve played online with friends a lot, but to keep in contact in a year of low human interaction. I’d swap five of those online plays for one ‘real’ one in a heartbeat.

Board Game Geek is also a good place to test the year’s gaming pulse. At time of writing, only On Mars (number 74) has troubled the top 250 games. For me, the jury is out. But my feeling is 2020 was a solid if unremarkable year. Especially as a lot of the current rising 2020 titles were reprints. It was probably a small step up from 2019, but largely unremarkable. With no big new ideas surfacing, or clever new mechanisms taking the community by storm.

My game play and collection stats

My game collection is down to just over 140, from 156 last year. I’ve not included two ‘for sale’ games in that number, or a couple waiting to be reviewed. But it’s my first time under 150 for years, which is great. I use that as an artificial cap on my collection. So to have breathing room feels positive. Better still, my ‘shelf of hope’ (unplayed games) is down to one title: On the Underground, also on last year’s list. I’m pretty sure I’ll like it to! Maybe I need to leave notes around the house to play it. I’m not getting any younger you know…

Total game plays this year was up to 439, from 371 last year. That had been a bit of a blip, as I’m usually just over the 400 mark. This year’s figure did rely a lot on online plays. I’ve been strict with that though, only including games that have been played fully live in one sitting and that have been done while on some form of live chat channel. It has been a real blessing to be able to keep most of my regular sessions going in some form – it has genuinely help keep me sane through some really difficult times.

Real life gaming (since April) has largely been with Sarah, which is reflected in the ‘most played’ list below. I’ve also introduced a local friend I’ve been in a bubble with (hi Vince! Not that he’ll read this…) to our hobby. While in the summer I managed a couple of ‘real life’ sessions with my local group. I have managed to play a few heavier games, largely thanks to regular online sessions with a few LobsterCon pals (chiefly co-organiser Alex). So my brain has had a bit of a work out!

VIVE LA DIFFERENCE

I played 173 different games in 2020, down 25 on 2019. But we didn’t have Essen, where I tend to play a bunch of new things over a crazy week. Only 96 of those games got a single play, compared to 126 last year. Again supporting the theory that missing Essen week had a big impact on my playing of new one-off titles.

On the flip side, I managed to play more than 20 games at least five times during the year. While some of those were review games, many were old favourites that clearly benefitted from my lack of exposure to the new hotness. Didn’t get any better at them though…

The Extended BGG stats page is the perfect place to geek out on numbers. I record all my board game plays at Board Game Geek, allowing this site to gather a blistering array of useless information. But it still fascinates me. Here’s what I learned:

Extended BGG stat attack

  • I only played 75 ‘new to me’ games in 2020 – my lowest number since 2011.
  • I played 90 (63%) of my 142 games within the calendar year.
  • 2020 became my fourth highest year for total games played. But was still way behind the 530 total plays I managed in 2014 – my only 500-play year.
  • September was the only month in which I didn’t play any ‘new to me’ games.
  • Eight games hit 10 all-time plays in 2020 (including Merchant of Venus and Targi), while two hit 25 total plays during last year: Stone Age and Thurn & Taxis.
  • Eight of my Top 50 ‘most played of all time’ didn’t hit the table in 2020. Many were down to circumstances – small box travel games and those requiring more players. But I need to brush the cobwebs off Dominion and The Manhattan Project. At least the three games on that list from 2019 (Macao, Uruk and Puerto Rico) all got played in 2020.
  • I now own just two of the Board Game Geek top 10 games of all time (Terraforming Mars and Twilight Struggle); and six of the top 20.

My most played games in 2020

I managed 41 plays of ‘unpublished prototypes’ in 2020. A couple down on last year, but almost all the plays were of my own designs this time. So in terms of moving forward with my own stuff, that’s a slightly positive improvement. Elsewhere, there were a lot of family games at the top of my most played games list for 2020:

  1. Ticket to Ride (16 plays)
  2. Codenames Duet (10)
  3. Can’t Stop, Oracle of Delphi, Race for the Galaxy, Targi and Thurn & Taxis (8)

The new-ish ‘Italy & Japan’ map pack helped Ticket to Ride top the list (review incoming). As did a new gamer really getting into the game. Codenames, Delphi, Targi and Taxis are all Sarah/me favourites. While Can’t Stop is a regular closer for online sessions. And the excellent Race for the Galaxy app on Steam has seen some action in 2020.

Just missing out (with seven plays each) were Pharaon, Welcome to… and The Downfall of Pompeii. In terms of heavier games, Concordia and Snowdonia had four plays each. While Kanban, Tzolk’in and Terra Mystica had three.

Codenames Duet and Race for the Galaxy were back on the list after being oddly absent in 2019. While Ticket to Ride and Thurn & Taxis continue their annual dominance. Last year’s top title Azul wasn’t far off with six plays. While Adios Calavera, Dizzle and That’s Pretty Clever (all in last year’s most played list) had three plays each in 2020.

Enjoyed this post? 

I’ll be back with Part 2 (best gaming events and individual plays) in a few weeks. While they’ll also be a Top 10 list of my favourite ‘new to me’ games of 2020. And why not check out the previous versions of this post from 2012, 2013, 2014, 20152016, 20172018 and 2019? What do you mean you have something better to do…?

Essen Spiel 2020 releases – game reviews live and incoming

The box art for Essen 2020 release Lost Ruins of Arnak

So the reviews are starting to come in for the Essen Spiel 2020 releases. I wasn’t massively excited about the list of titles this year, but there are bound to be some great new board games. And with just one review in from me so far, things are looking more hopeful than I’d thought.

This will be an evolving post until about March, so please bookmark and pop back once a month so. I’d love to go faster with the reviews, but the new UK lockdown is making things more difficult. I’ll update the list as review copies are confirmed and when reviews go live. As you can imagine, it’s quite a task for publishers to have to deal with all this via post/email rather than face to face, so I’m not holding my breath. But given time, the games will come! Some are already on the shelves, and more are on the way.

Essen Spiel 2020 releases: Game reviews – live

  • Anansi (1-5 players, 30-60 mins)
    Reprint, with new art, of clever trick-taking game Eternity.
  • Aqualin (2 players, 20 mins) Very light abstract with both players scoring the same pieces, but in different ways.
  • Bonfire (1-4 players, 1-2 hours) Point salad-y Stefan Feld euro game, at the high end of complexity for his game designs.
  • Calico (1-4 players, 45-60 mins): Mini review. A cute abstract featuring cats on quilts. Oh, and pattern matching.
  • Gods Love Dinosaurs (2-5 players, 45 mins) Light tile-laying game where players create sustainable food chains.
  • The Isle of Cats (1-4 players, 60-90 mins) Cute drafting and polyominoes game game about filling a ship with, erm, cats…
  • Lost Ruins of Arnak (1-4 players, 1-2 hours)
    Deck building, action selection and resource conversion combine in this well constructed midweight euro game.
  • Red Cathedral (1-4 players, 60-90 mins): Mini review. A light euro/gateway game with a dice-driven rondel at its heart.
    Remember Our Trip (Being played – 2-4 players, 30 mins) A drafting and pattern building game, with a clever evolving central ‘memory’ board.
  • Under Falling Skies (1 player, 20-30 mins)
    Sci-fi/save the world solo dice puzzler, including full campaign mode.
  • Welcome To New Las Vegas (1-9 players, 45 mins): Mini review. A more complex version of the excellent Welcome To, for those who need such a thing.
  • Winter Kingdom (2-4 players, 45-60 mins): Mini review. Kingdom Builder revisited, with some fixes for things that weren’t really broken.

Spiel reviews incoming

  • Baron Voodoo (Being played – 2-4 players, 45 mins) Gorgeous strategic abstract where you’re collecting dice and using special abilities.
  • Curious Cargo (Being played – 2 players, 45 mins) Pick up and deliver, tile placement and route building in this factory-based one-on-one puzzler.
  • Kompromat (Incoming – 2 players, 30 mins) A gamers take on Blackjack/Pontoon/21, with an element of Schotten-Totten thrown in.
  • Royal Visit (incoming – 2 players, 30 mins) Reprint of designer Reiner Knizia’s 2006 tug-of-war style hand management card game, Times Square.