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!
We all love Uwe Rosenberg’s farming games, and I’m only half making a joke here, but this is my favorite of them — sorry Agricola fans. Plus, it’s another draw and discard styled card game. The goal of course is to plant the most valuable beans in your farm area and harvest them at the right time, at first you can only have two fields, but you could – although honestly I don’t recommend it – buy a third. The trick to the game is that you can only play cards from your hand in order, you don’t get to mix the cards up, as you bring a card in to your hand it goes on the right and you work from left to right. There is also some wheeling and dealing going on here in Bohnanza, players trade beans on their turn with anyone else who wants to make a deal. Wonderfully interactive and engaging, Bohnanza earned a spot in the collection. We’ve never expanded on it, and I’ve never bought any of the off-shoot games, there is no need. 11 plays since 2012.
Cacao is tile placement, within a seemingly constrained area. The premise is simple, place a tile and activate the tiles around it based on the number of worker symbols on the tile. The object of the game is to end up with the most coins at the end of the game. You do this by gathering cacao and selling it in markets. You also can move up a water track that gets increasingly valuable as you move. There is also a bit of area majority sparring with the temples where you are vying to have the most workers surrounding them for points. One of my favorite things about Cacao is the ability to build over one of your own tiles you previously placed. The game starts with everyone having a set of tiles and when that set of tiles runs out, the game ends. Through game play though you can gain silver which allows you to build over one of your previously built tiles, reactivating everything around it. It can be a huge play when used correctly. We have both expansions in the box, Chocatl and Diamante, but I will confess, we’ve never played them. I’ll have to remedy that this year. 18 plays since 2015.
Brains Family – Burgen & Drachen
Bit of a weird one here. An Essen ’18 game that is really more of a puzzle race than a game, and that’s okay as we’ve had an absolute great time playing this one. It takes the Brains games from Dr. Knizia and makes it multiplayer. You are still trying to find paths to get to certain points, but now you are doing that against one to three other people. Trying to be the first to complete the puzzle. Also, this was one of my first reviews here on The Opinionated Gamers. 6 plays since 2018.
Blood Bowl Team Manager
I really like deck builders. I especially like deck builders that manage to integrate a theme nearly seamlessly. Blood Bowl Team Manager does this. I will confess, I had never played Blood Bowl when I found this, and I still have not. But as far as I can tell, BBTM managed to take the Blood Bowl feeling and compressed it down into a 30-60 minute deck builder. I haven’t played BBTM in ages, but I still fondly remember playing it with my oldest daughter who at the time declared it the greatest thing since Hannah Montana or something equally silly. In the game you are competing teams, attempting to gain the most fans. As the game progresses you will add new teammates to your teams and you will gain new manager powers to use as well, all leading to that ultimate fourth quarter showdown. BBTM will play up to four players, but to be honest, I’ve never viewed it as anything other than a two player game, and a nearly perfect one at that. 8 plays since 2012.
Blue Lagoon to me, is the culmination of the resurgence of Knizia designs. Dead simple in terms of rules, but ultimately a wonderfully deep experience. Yeah, it definitely feels a bit point salad-y, and less like a Knizia scoring game, but make no mistake this has Knizia all over it. I absolutely love the two halves of the game, where the first half is seeding the board for the final round. I also love that you score both halves and reset, mostly, in between. Clearing the board of everything except the huts. Aggressive, in your face fun. That’s Blue Lagoon. 9 plays since 2018.
I never sat around thinking, “you know what would be cool? Alan Moon taking his thoughts on what Hearts should be and putting it into a card game”. But you know what? He did, and I really enjoy it. Along with being a good game though, it’s actually a part of that Z-Man card game line that I absolutely love so that helped. What also helped is the fact that Alan autographed it for me, and I couldn’t part with a game that was a personalized gift to me. It will be played more, but as it is, this is more of a sentimental keeper, than a game we couldn’t live without 1 play since 2018.
The quintessential push your luck game, and one of my family’s fall back games. I absolutely love the simple design work of Sid Sackson, and kind of sad that I wasn’t around in the early years to see these games when they were first being found. Thankfully we’ve got it covered now though at least. I love the production of this one, we have the version with the giant plastic stop sign and colored cones. My only issue is that honestly, I can’t stop. I don’t know when a good time to quit rolling the dice is. Well, that’s kind of a lie, I know when I should do it, I just think I am completely incapable of stopping. One of those games that should be on every family’s shelves if they play board games. 12 (logged) plays since 2012.
Cash & Guns
There may not be another game in our collection that has caused so much yelling. And I’ve kept it here in spite of everyone’s motto, “kill dad first”. My wife finds it a bit off-putting to point even a foam gun at the kids, but we quickly got over that once we realized that if we didn’t, we’d never be able to win, and we’d never be good mob bosses. My 93 year old grandmother has even sat down and played a game with us, and she quickly adapted to my family’s motto. I’ve never been more proud to be shot. 10 plays since 2014.
I’ve only ever played this game one time, and that was with a recent Kickstarter version, Chimera & More. I remember very little of it, other than it felt like a fantastic three player climbing game. Also, it was part of that Z-Man card game line, so it stays. 1 play since 2017.