Brandon Kempf – Surviving the Purge 5

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!


A recent discussion popped up about games that make good closer games for the end of the night, and the two that I have fell back on more often than not are For Sale, and this one, Biblios. Both are relatively similar games where they are auction games played over two different phases, where in the first phase you are gaining your items, or your purchasing power, in order to win the most valuable items in the final round. Biblios is perfectly done. You are a scholar in a library building the collection. Over the first half of the game you are drawing cards and assigning to either yourself, another player or the auction pile. Cards are valued from one to three, or they can have powers that allow you to adjust the values on the market or other cards that are simply money in the second half. The second half, that auction pile is auctioned off, one card at a time, with players using the cards in their hands. Deceptively simple, sneakily strategic and a lot of fun. Biblios is a game, along with For Sale which does play two more people, that I will actively say that should be in everyone’s board game collection. 

Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure & Expansions

I’ve written about Clank! quite a bit over the last couple of years. I really enjoy deck building and I really enjoy it when game creators try to do something fun with a primary mechanism such as deck building. Clank! is not my favorite deck builder, that’ll come later in this series of articles, looking over my shoulders at the game shelves, really soon, but Clank! by far is my favorite of the group that tried to add little twists to the genre. Clank! does this with movement on a board and collection of items. So while cards will gain you points, you have to build your deck for more than just gathering points, you have to have movement and even some combat points in order to run in and grab your loot, and then run out with the loot before that always looming dragon, spider, zombie or other monster ends your life. With a bevy of expansions, Clank! has become a steadfast game in our collection, and one that my wife really likes, maybe as much as Carcassonne. I think it has issues, it can be difficult to cull your deck when you need to cull your deck, there are only a couple cards in the deck that allow that to happen. Also, I think that when adding the expansions with more cards, you can get lost and not find what you need or want, the deck becomes too overloaded. We keep all the expansions around though because variety is the spice of life, and I think that Clank! offers up a lot of the spice. 19 plays since December 2016.


Here is another game that was kept more for potential, rather than its history, at least history with us. We’ve only played Concordia one time, and I remember being frustrated, but completely enamored with how it worked. It probably didn’t help that we played with someone who counts it as his favorite game and broke it out of a nice custom wooden box with all the extra bells and whistles. We also have one of the expansions in the box, Venus. Pretty sure that we won this copy at Moon City Con in Springfield, MO. Just in case you were looking for another convention to throw on to your schedule. We will play Concordia this year, hopefully more than once and I hope to see that lives up to that potential that I saw in the first try. 1 play since 2018.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

I am not sure that there is a game in our collection that has as cool a theme as Castles of Mad King Ludwig. You are tasked with building the King’s castle to his very specific specifications. Certain rooms next to certain areas and sometimes he just wants a bunch of bedrooms, or closets, you never really know until you start to build it. The heart of the game is the way that the room tiles are priced and purchased by the players. Each round there is a “master builder” and they get to set the pricing of the tiles that are out and available, price them too high and they’ll never go away and keep accumulating coins, price them too low and people will scoop them up right out from under you, now that’s not a completely bad thing as you do make money from them buying tiles, but you may have wanted or needed the tile. It can slow down the game a bit if you have players who tend to overthink the choices, but it’s an absolute gem. 11 plays since 2015. 

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5 Responses to Brandon Kempf – Surviving the Purge 5

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  2. huzonfirst says:

    I’m hoping that Concordia is finally able to click with your group, Brandon. It’s an excellent design, not very rules heavy, but quite deep and varied. It also plays very well with 5, which is a rare thing these days. Navegador is my favorite Gerdts game, but Concordia is almost as good and it gets far more play in my group.

    • Matt says:

      Great to see that someone else prefers Navegador to Concordia! Only a few cognoscenti like Mark Bigney (of So Very Wrong About Games) share this view.

      I think it has more interaction with the dynamic economy, and it’s easier to predict what your opponents might do and react to that (with less memory abilities/card counting required), and the scoring is far more intuitive too.

  3. Fraser says:

    Concordia gets a lot of love around our house. Great game. I have played Clank! once or twice a while ago and I liked it, but we don’t play Deckbuilders at home much and we don’t own it. Ascension gets a lot of play, but all on iOS.

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