Tuesday, January 21, 2020

#46: Core Worlds (Mark's Top 50 - 2020)

Core Worlds
  • rank: 638
  • rating: 7.20
Print Status
  • in print
Why It's On The List
  • Andrew Parks created a space empire-building deck-builder - and combined it with a tableau system for deploying units that makes this game both deeply strategic and a challenging puzzle. And then he created two incredible expansions that make the game even better!
Tips &Tricks:
  • I think the original Core Worlds game is a solid 7 - but when you add the first expansion (Galactic Orders), it's jumps to an 8 (or maybe even a 9). And the second expansion (Revolution) just locks that high rating into place!
  • The game has enough components for 5 players... but I prefer it with 2-3, as the pace of the game is quicker.
  • Building combos is important - as is managing expectations. You will not be able to do everything you want, so you will need to prioritize your energy and actions near the end of the game to bring in victory points.

Monday, January 20, 2020

#47: Unmatched: Battle of Legends (Mark's Top 50 -2020)

Unmatched: Battle of Legends
  • rank: 2094
  • rating: 8.18
Print Status
  • in print
Why It's On The List
  • Take the basic card combat idea behind Star Wars: Epic Duels... add in the brilliant LOS board configuration system from Tannhauser...and infuse the game thematically with a "mix of characters across time & reality" vibe from Heroscape... and then do a top-notch production job... and you've got Unmatched.
Tips & Tricks:
  • One of the biggest issues in Epic Duels (the need of some characters to turtle for multiple turns in order to make decent attacks) is fixed here... both by better balancing the decks AND by instituting a "getting to the end of your deck" penalty.
  • Each character/team has different strengths and weaknesses... you cannot play each character the same way and be successful.
  • The character receiving the least love out of the gate was King Arthur... but I've managed to pull off some wins with him by playing the cards in his deck, not the cards I wish he had.
  • Currently, the game doesn't have a free-for-all mode... I don't think that's a loss.
    • This is the first of four (4!) Rob Daviau games that will appear on my top 50 list this time around.
    • The Bigfoot/Robin Hood expansion also works as a stand-alone 2 player game.
    • Bruce Lee is price-y... but his deck is really interesting to play.

    Sunday, January 19, 2020

    #48: New Frontiers (Mark's Top 50 - 2020)

    New Frontiers
    • rank: 748
    • rating: 7.70
    Print Status
    • in print
    Why It's On The List
    • I wouldn't go as far to say that New Frontiers has fired the classic Puerto Rico... but it covers a lot of the same ground with better graphics and a more compelling theme. 
    Tips & Tricks:
    • New Frontiers does not seem to have the same "newbie automatically assists player to their left" problem as Puerto Rico... but players still need to pay careful attention to the downstream effects of their action choices.
    • Don't put all your point-scoring eggs in one basket - especially when it comes to the 9 cost technologies. I have been known to buy a 9 cost tech that was only marginal for me in order to keep it out of the hands of someone who could really benefit from it.
    • The Starry Rift expansion is due out later this year... I'm looking forward to it! It will add 16 home worlds, 10 developments, 13 worlds, and 8 goals - and Xeno worlds will add a risk/reward element to military conquest.
    • This is the first of five (5!) Tom Lehmann games that will appear on my top 50 list this time around... and the first of 3 Race for the Galaxy universe games. Sue me.

    Saturday, January 18, 2020

    #49: Ra (Mark's Top 50 - 2020)

    • rank: 158
    • rating: 7.47
    Print Status
    • out of print? (I think)
    Why It's On The List
    • I'm not sure why Ra jumps on & off my top games list... it's a splendid auction game that scales well from 3-5 players and is filled with tension and constant reevaluation of values.
    Tips & Tricks:
    • Timing is everything. Seriously.
    • My first play of Ra was 90 minutes - which was miserable and turned me off the game for a good year or so. When I finally got to play it at normal speed (30-45 minutes), it jumped considerably in my estimation.
    • There are times (particularly in the final epoch) where winning an auction simply to trade up for a better sun is a good idea. These do not happen as often as I see people making these kinds of trades.
    • There are two spin-off games from the Ra family:
      • Ra: The Dice Game (which I enjoy and wish I owned a copy of...)
      • Priests of Ra (which I do not - it just uses the same base engine & monkeys with the scoring)
    • Here's what I wrote about Ra for The One Hundred.
    • This is the first of four (4!) Reiner Knizia designs on the list.

    Friday, January 17, 2020

    #50: Codenames (Mark's Top 50 - 2020)

    • rank: 65
    • rating: 7.67
    Print Status
    • in print (with lots of different versions)
    Why It's On The List
    • Codenames is an extraordinarily clever word game - it's Password on steroids - that works with a wide variety of groups, ages, and gaming backgrounds. Even people who don't like word games like Codenames.
    Tips & Tricks:
      • I think the game is best with 4-6 players... though it will work with larger crowds.
      • Pay close attention to the Assassin word - a perfectly good clue could lead your team to end the round prematurely! (I speak from experience.)
      • For two players, the cooperative version (Codenames Duet) is also excellent.

      Tuesday, January 07, 2020

      My Personal Most Played Games of the Decade

      The folks at the Opinionated Gamers blog are working on a post about the most played games of the decade... and as a part of my research for my input, I took a look at the patterns in my own game playing.

      The chart above (and the list below) show the games that appeared in my top ten most played games for that year. Some of the patterns are not a surprise (Race for the Galaxy is continually played 5+ times each year... and often much more than that)... while others (I don't remember playing Quarriors that much) seem to come out of left field.

      I'm not sure I have more to say about this... but I'm sure this might interest one or two of you. :-)

      Appeared in my top ten played games for that year...

      6 times

      • Race for the Galaxy
      • Star Realms
      • Summoner Wars
      5 times

      • DC Comics Deck-Building Game
      • Sentinels of the Multiverse
      • The City
      4 times
      • Fast Food Franchise
      • Memoir '44
      3 times
      • 7 Wonders Duel
      • Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
      • Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd edition)
      • Jump Drive
      • Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age
      2 times
      • 7 Wonders 
      • DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Rivals 
      • Heroscape
      • Quarriors!
      • Suburbia
      • Ticket to Ride
      1 time
      • 1st & Goal
      • Abandon Ship
      • Bounce-It-In
      • Burger Joint
      • Can't Stop
      • Castle Panic
      • Catacombs
      • City Square Off
      • Clank! In! Space!
      • Colony
      • Colt Express
      • Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg
      • Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game
      • Eminent Domain
      • Fabled Fruit
      • Favor of the Pharaoh
      • Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar
      • Friday
      • Gemblo Woodman
      • Impact: Battle of Elements
      • Innovation
      • Keltis: Der Weg der Steine
      • Machi Koro
      • Marrakech
      • Marvel Champions: The Card Game
      • NEOM
      • New Frontiers
      • Numeri
      • Pandemic Legacy (Season One)
      • Port Royal
      • Powerships
      • Risk Legacy
      • Roll for the Galaxy 
      • Runebound (3rd edition)
      • Scrabble
      • Skip-bo
      • Small World
      • Team Play
      • The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
      • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game
      • The Rivals for Catan
      • Unmatched: Battle of Legends
      • Wiz-War (eighth edition)
      • Wurfel Bohnanza

      Thursday, January 02, 2020

      It's Still Personal: Mark's Five & Dime Games for 2019

      Hey, campers... I may have stopped collecting the Five & Dime stats for everyone else - but I haven't stopped collecting my own!

      Here's my own personal Five & Dime list (the games I played 5+ and 10+ times in 2019).

      As always, I include only face-to-face games and games played with human opponents over apps/online.

      Games with an asterisk [*] were on my Five & Dime list last year, games with two asterisks [**] have been on my list for the past two years, games with three asterisks [***] have been there for three years, games with four asterisks [****] have been there for 4 years, games with a plus [+] have been there 5 years, games with a plus and an asterisk [+*] have been there 6 years, games with a plus and two asterisks [+**] have been there 7 years, games with a plus and three asterisks [+***] have been there 8 years... and games with a plus and four asterisks [+****] have been there (wait for it) for the past 9 years!

      If you're curious, here's the games that have been on my Five & Dime list for 5+ years
      • Race for the Galaxy (9 years)
      • Sentinels of the Multiverse (7 years)
      • DC Comics Deckbuilding Game (5 years)
      • Star Realms (5 years)
      • Impact: Battle of Elements 21
      • Wurfel Bohnanza 19 *
      • Marvel Champions: The Card Game 16
      • Unmatched: Battle of Legends 16
      • New Frontiers 14
      • Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg 13
      • Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure 12 **
      • Jump Drive 12 **
      • NEOM 12
      • Star Realms 12 +
      • Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated 11
      • Roll Player 11
      • Shards of Infinity 11
      • Memoir '44 10 *
      • Roll for the Galaxy 10 ***
      • Wildlands 10
      • Nemo's War 9
      • Call to Adventure 8
      • DC Comics Deck-Building Game (includes Multiverse, Teen Titans & Forever Evil) 8 +
      • Res Arcana 8
      • Sagrada 8
      • Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale 7
      • DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Rivals - Green Lantern vs Sinestro 7
      • Dice Throne 7
      • Dungeonquest 7
      • Friday 7
      • Race for the Galaxy 7 +****
      • Star Wars: Destiny 7
      • 7 Wonders 6 ****
      • 7 Wonders Duel 6 ***
      • Catan (includes Rise of the Inkas) 6 *
      • Heroscape 6
      • Sentinels of the Multiverse 6 +**
      • Suburbia 6
      • Dungeon Alliance 5 *
      • Football Highlights 2052 5
      • Ice Cool 5
      • Millennium Blades 5
      • The Quest for El Dorado 5 *
      • Sports Dynasty 5
      • Teen Titans GO! Deck-Building Game 5
      Just Missed (with 4 plays)

      A caret [^] denotes that they were on the Five & Dime list last year... and a pound sign [#] marks games I'm pretty sure will return in 2020.  (Note: I was wrong about all the games I listed as returning last year... 0 for 3. Let's see if I do better this year.) A dollar sign [$] indicates that the game was on the "Just Missed" list last year.

      • Aargh!
      • Animal Upon Animal
      • Betrayal Legacy ^
      • Gelini Nightlife
      • Heroes of Terrinoth
      • Monster Lands
      • Mystery Rummy: Al Capone $
      • Pokemon Trading Card Game
      • Rhino Hero: Super Battle ^
      • Roll for Adventure #
      • Star Wars: Outer Rim #
      • Ticket to Ride #
      Family Time

      There are certain game systems that don't always show up in these lists unless you list them as a group... I thought I'd honor those games this year.

      • Clank! 26
        • Clank! 12
        • Clank! Legacy 11
        • Clank! In! Space! 3
      • DC Comics Deckbuilding 17
        • DC Comics Deckbuilding 8
        • Rivals: Green Lantern vs Sinestro 7
        • Confrontations 2
      • Mystery Rummy 10
        • Al Capone 4
        • Escape from Alcatraz 3
        • Wyatt Earp 2
        • Jekyll & Hyde 1
      • Ticket to Ride 7
        • Ticket to Ride 4
        • New York 2
        • London 1
      • Catan 6
        • Catan 4
        • Rise of the Inkas 2
      After All These Years

      These are game that fell off the list... after years of repeated play. I felt compelled to say a few words at their passing.
      • Descent: Journeys in the Dark **
        • The common theme this year is "oldest son going away for college"... which explains the drop-off in Descent play. I need to roll the app back out and play solo.
      • Clank! In! Space! *
        • We still played a lot of Clank!... just not the sci-fi version. The addition of the Cyberstation expansion should bring it back to the table for at least 5 plays this year.
      • Flamme Rouge *
        • This only comes out with 5-6 folks now... excellent game but I'm mostly playing with groups of 2-4.
      • Trains *
        • I like this better than everyone else in my family... and prefer it to Dominion. I need to bring it to game nights.