Over the next few months, instead of going with my Three Games articles, I am going to take a look at my collection and try to discuss why certain titles survived the great purge of 2019. During this process I may take a look at some games that didn’t survive, but only as a measuring stick for what did survive. Since I am silly, like a lot of gamers, I use Ikea Kallax shelves to display the games that we own. This makes it pretty easy to break things down cube by cube, so that’s what we’re going to do, twenty-four cubes, plus a top shelf for games that don’t fit in the cubes, over the course of a few months. I hope you enjoy!
I highly doubt that there is anything that I can say about 7 Wonders that hasn’t already been said a hundred times over, just on this blog, but it’s fitting that it’s the first title on this journey. 7 Wonders has never been a top 10 game for me, or anyone in my family, but yet, it most certainly is a bedrock of the collection. I don’t teach it to new gamers, I think it’s status as a Gateway game is kind of silly. Even if the play is silky smooth and fairly easy to understand, the iconography and some of the scoring of the game confuse the heck out of people. Plus, there is always someone out there who just ruins it all by gathering all the science because the new players just don’t know. Inside the base box, we do keep the Leaders and Cities expansions. I tend to like to play with both any chance that we get to play, with preference towards Leaders if I can only choose one. 7 Wonders is absolutely a table hog, a messy, beautiful table hog of a game, one that is destined to stay in the collection for a long time as I just don’t see a more enjoyable, pure drafting game coming around any time soon. 15 plays since 2012.
A Game of Thrones, The Board Game
Right off the bat, we get to a game that is probably here for mostly sentimental reasons. It just never gets played, in fact, since I purchased it in 2012, it has only been played twice. And that battered and bruised copy on my shelf? That one has only been played one time. I enjoy the game, but it should not have survived the culling. Our first time playing it though, tells the entire reason why. A Game of Thrones the Board Game is a fantastic game, and a wonderful implementation of theme in a board game. In my two plays, I have seen folks who are really shrewd players, and you know that you need to keep knocking them down if you want to stand a chance, but you can’t do that alone. Alliances are made, and at the perfect time, alliances are broken in spectacular ways. Not many games can give you the natural highs and lows like A Game of Thrones can. 2 plays since 2012.
Without going out on too much of a limb here, Agricola, is probably the game in my collection that a majority of folks would call a “Classic”. Power Grid, Puerto Rico and Caylus are all gone, but yet the game lovingly nicknamed “Misery Farm” has survived. To me, this is the worker placement game of choice, even with new players, we’ll just play the family version. I’ve had a weird history with Agricola. When I joined what would be my first game group back in 2012/2013, that group would have been happy playing Agricola every time they met. I tried to jump in with them, but the experience disadvantage I was at, was very noticeable for me and I didn’t play it with them much, I started bringing newer games to the group and kind of ruined it – but that’s another story. Even when I was getting pummeled I realized what a wonderfully tense and challenging design it really was and I knew I liked it, I just didn’t like being on the uneven playing field, I wasn’t at that point where I could enjoy a game and learn from it, especially when I was being beaten over the head with it. But, I picked up a copy and taught it to my wife and we played a couple learning games to feel more comfortable with it, but then we discovered the two player version, All Creatures Big and Small and that took our two player time, so I sold off my copy, only to later pick it up again when I rediscovered just how good it was a couple years later and picked up the new version which will probably never leave the collection. It’s tense, it’s unforgiveable and it’s really Uwe’s masterpiece no matter how much he tries to distill it and make it more forgiving and friendly for the new generation of gamers, of which I am a part. 6 plays since 2013.
Archaeology The New Expedition
I am a sucker for draw and discard games and set collection card games, you’ll notice this a bit throughout this series of articles. One of my favorites is this, Archaeology The New Expedition. The players are archaeologists who are digging in various sites, trying to piece together parchments, pots and other artifacts to sell them to museums. Players will draw a card (digging), if it’s a treasure, keep it secret in your hand. Sometimes you’ll find thieves (steal a card from an opponent), or a sandstorm which causes everyone to discard half of their cards to the marketplace, don’t worry, everyone has one tent that they can use at some point during the game to avoid a sandstorm. After digging the players can trade with the marketplace, or they can sell to the museum by laying down sets, or they can use a map to explore a monument. Play continues like this until the draw deck has run out and everyone in turn passes, the explorer with the most money from selling to the museum wins. It’s a simple trick, drawing a card equals digging in the sand looking for artifacts, and from then on, it all makes thematic sense. Phil Walker-Harding is going to show up quite a bit over this series of articles, and Archaeology The New Expedition was my introduction to his games, and a great one at that. My only real qualm with the game is that it doesn’t play that well at two players, the way the market works, anything you drop usually is going to go to your opponent, so you know what everyone is working on, I think it works a lot better in the three to five player range. 6 plays since 2016.
I love a good abstract game, and as we’ll discuss later, Ingenious is one of my absolute favorites. Axio takes Ingenious and swaps out those hexagonal pieces and makes them squares, it also takes those dead spaces that you create in Ingenious and gives them a purpose. When you create a dead space on the board, you place a pyramid piece in there and then each color that touches the pyramid, will score you a point in that color. The game has a wonderful Knizia feel to it. Don’t over focus on one thing, you have to be pretty even with your scoring. Each color has a score track and at the end of the game, your score is equal to the lowest of those. I only wish that I could get Axio with those wonderful plastic tiles like I have with Ingenious. There’s nothing wrong with cardboard, but plastic is oddly satisfying in a game like this. 8 plays since 2018.
Friend, and fellow OGer Chris Wray, created this ode to 7 Symbols, and 7 Nations so even if I hated it, I couldn’t give it away. But I don’t hate it. And in ways I like this a bit more than the other re-implementation of 7 Symbols, and 7 Nations, Yokai Septet. A very solid trick taking game with quite a bit of variability out of the box. Too bad there are only like five in existence and I know where most of those are. 2 plays since 2017.