Times played: 5, with review copy provided by Feuerland
Fuji is one of the new games from Wolfgang Warsch – you know the guy who was nominated for just about every major boardgame award except for the Kinderspiel des Jahres last year. Though he is new to boardgame world, he has already amazed me with the breadth of his game designs. Fuji represents yet another type of game – this being a dice rolling cooperative game. Though I’m normally not one for cooperative games, the track record of Herr Warsch was enough to make me take a look at this one.
Times played: 11, with review copy provided by Asmodee NA
Tom Lehmann has always been one of my favorite designers. He is a joy to game with, and he is one of the most enthusiastic gamers that I’ve ever played with. It’s amazing to watch him work on games at conventions such as the Gathering of Friends where you can see his ingenuity at work as he is able to come up with revised versions of games literally overnight based on feedback from other people. One recent design of his that I loved was Jump Drive, a game that compresses the idea of deck building down into a 15 to 20 minute game. In Res Arcana, players take on the role of mages, as they try to use the essences (Life, Death Elan, Calm) as well as Gold to take control of Places of Power and to control Dragons and Creatures. This engine building game is also supposed to play in a short amount of time, and I was super excited about it once I first read about it.
Times played: 2, with review copy provided by The Wood Games
A Pleasant Journey to Neko was a game that I first heard about via Twitter pretty much on the day that I was leaving for Essen 2018. I saw a picture online and was immediately interested; the art looked great, and the blurb about the game – a dice placement game about seeing penguins – was enough for me… Both a theme and a mechanism that I was interested in! In APJtN, you are trying to supply and execute an expedition to the Antarctic port of Neko, trying to see the most penguins along the way.
I have a lot of games. A lot of games that are on my shelves, or on my table being played, that I have told myself that I want to review at some point. For one reason or another, this doesn’t always happen. My goal here on The Opinionated Gamers is that I want to get about one review out per week, but I’d like to write about more games. So I’m taking a page out of Patrick Brennan’s playbook, and we’re going to start writing about games in threes, in snapshot form. This should be a good way for readers to get to know me and my gaming tastes a bit better, and also another way for me to talk about games that I maybe don’t really want to dedicate two thousand words to. Welcome to Three Games.
Cabo is a fast-playing card game designed by Mandy Henning and Melissa Limes. A second version of the game was recently released by Bezier Games, and it is a remake of original version from 2010. The game is hand management and set collection game.
Reiner Knizia is one of the most prolific and accomplished game designers of the modern era. Many of his designs have achieved commercial success and critical acclaim, and he has several titles that are doubtlessly modern classics.
He’s also a favorite of game award juries each year. He has won the Deutscher Spiele Preis a record-setting four times and the International Gamers Awards twice. He is also a favorite of the Spiel des Jahres jury, receiving countless nominations and winning for Keltis in 2008.
But what are his 10 best games?
Today’s article is the second in our “10 Great” series that features 10 great games in a given subcategory. I pick a mechanic, theme, publisher, etc. We here at the Opinionated Gamers then all vote behind the scenes to create a list of 10 great games that meet the criteria. We’re aiming for an article a month, and I’d love your suggestions about future lists.
To make the list, we had 17 Opinionated Gamers vote, with precisely 50 games receiving votes. Our only criteria were that (1) the game had to be out of print for at least a couple of years, (2) the voter had to think that the game was good enough to be reprinted, and (3) preferably these games would be difficult to find on the secondary market, so that a reprint would be justified.
The first article discussed the background behind the series and our methodology. This article is a sort of wrap up.
This was my 21st Gathering of
Friends, and somehow every year seems better than the last. My Gathering of
Friends report is a little different than others I’ve seen, though. My focus for the week is a little different in
that I don’t really have a focus. I don’t seek out prototypes; I am happy to
play them if asked, but I don’t go looking for them – I have done a lot of
playtesting in the past, but don’t feel that same pull to see a game in its
initial stages as I used to.
I’m also not racing to try all the new and
shiny games. I am certainly interested in them and am paying attention to what
other people are playing, but I don’t feel the need to play them at the
Gathering. I’ll play if the opportunity comes up, but I am also okay letting
everyone else figure out the rules problems and play it a bit later on at my
monthly game group.
One of the things I often do focus on at the
Gathering is playing longer games. I have almost all day every day for at least
8 of the days that I am there, so it’s the perfect chance to get something long
to the table. I also focus on
traditions, playing certain games with certain people and sometimes combining
Overall I played somewhere around 40 total games,
with about 45 different people. Here are some of the highlights of my week.
This is one of my favorite Uwe Rosenberg games, but I only like it with 3, which means I almost never get it to the table. It’s become a tradition for Kurt, Mark and I to play this every year. It started a few years ago when we decided to have an Uwe-fest during the Gathering (playing at least one Uwe game every day) and has continued on for at least the past 4 years. You can read our review of it from 2012 here
FEAST FOR ODIN: NORWEGIANS EXPANSION
This is another of my favorite Uwe Rosenberg
games. In fact, I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I think he is
likely my favorite game designer. I’d been anxious to try this and was happy
for the chance to get it to the table. I had only recently discovered that it
provides a whole new action board, which was really interesting. I’m going to
write a more detailed review later on, but I really enjoyed it.
I saw this being played, and it has some interesting components, so I was curious and read up a little on it. It sounded interesting, so I managed to rope a couple of other people into learning it from the rules with me for the first play; we liked it enough to give it a second go later in the week. Someone had told me it was “Terraforming Mars under water”, but I disagree with that assessment. The city building is different, and the play a card to take an action mechanism is pretty cool. Watch for the Opinionated Gamers review coming up in a couple of weeks to learn more.
I tried Root for the first time a few weeks ago and was intrigued by the fact that the rules are different for every player. It makes it a hard game to learn, but the gameplay is very interesting. I was happy to give it another try playing a different faction, and I still really liked it. I played the Lizard Cult, which was pretty cool. It would have been cooler if I had figured out how to use my abilities a few turns sooner, but I still really enjoyed the game and look forward to trying it again
This game was getting a lot of buzz, and I am
happy I was able to give it a try. It is essentially a hand management game,
with cards played down to the table. On a turn the active player turns a dial
with symbols that match each player board; on the first turn she can choose any
spot and on subsequent turns the dial moves one spot. You draw two colored cards
from the spot that matches your symbol; you can buy one (costs vary by round)
and discard one, or you can sell one and discard one. At the end of the round
players have a chance to buy the top card of the discard pile or discard it
completely. Cards match tracks on your
board; they increase a track or tracks based on the listed value, and upgraded
tracks let you do different things like claim bonuses. I enjoyed it.
TEOHUTICUAN: CITY OF GODS
I’d seen this one at my monthly game group a couple of times, but had never had a chance to try it, so I was happy when a friend found a copy and suggested it. There is a LOT going on here, and a lot to keep track of. My initial impression is that I liked it; I thought the way the game uses dice to take actions was very innovative and cool. What I am not sure about yet is whether all the elements work well together or if there are just a bunch of mechanisms thrown together. Either way I look forward to trying it again.
One of my traditions is teaching a game to my
friend Bruce. He always identifies several games he is interested in learning,
and we figure out which one I can teach. This year it was Newton; you can read
my full review here.
I still like it, but the real fun here is in playing a game with Bruce, who is
one of the people I met at my very first Gathering. Bruce has been to every
single Gathering ever – all 30. Photo
credit for this one goes to Bruce.
STORIES – A PROPHECY OF DRAGONS
I had played the original T.I.M.E. Stories a couple of years ago at the Gathering and loved it, so I’d been itching to get this back to the table with one of the expansions. Turns out the four of us are terrible Time Agents, since this took us the entire afternoon (and technically we aren’t done; thankfully I am going to see my fellow players again in a couple of weeks, so we’ll finish then). I am not sure if this expansion was especially hard or if the dice just hated us, but we had fun nevertheless. Apparently my photo has been lost in time, but you can read the OG review from 2016 here.
VITICULTURE – TUSCANY
Viticulture is one of my Top Ten games, and I
do get to play it reasonably frequently, but mostly 2-player, so I look forward
to a 6-player game every April. It is a rare game that scales well from 2 to 6,
but this one does. This year it was
especially fun, as it was a very close game.
This one falls under the tradition category.
This is always my last game of the Gathering on Saturday night after the
closing ceremonies. The same core group of us always play, with a few guest
appearances each year. I enjoy race games, even when I am not very good at
them; I won this one the very first time I played it and since then have not
come in higher than the last 3 cars. It’s still a lot of fun. The map has
several areas where you cannot roll above or below a certain number and we play
with a timer, so decisions have to be made quickly and can result in penalty
flags and even fiery crashes. We in fact had 3 fiery crashes this year, 2 on
the same bad corner. This means my standing greatly improved through no skill
of my own. . . .
Dale is usually the one posting lots of food photos, but since he wasn’t there this year here are a few for you. I brought some homemade oreos to share, and received some Stroopwafels as a gift. There are some good bakeries and donut shops, plus a restaurant that celebrates birthdays with clouds of deliciousness.
As always, I also enjoyed the people I played
with. I have made so many friends from around the world playing games, and it
is great to see so many of them in one place for a week – even the non-human
ones. Arriving at and leaving the Gathering every year gives me the same feeling
I always got at summer camp, and I am already looking forward to next year’s
This is the fourth installment in our series called Games That Deserve a Reprint. This article walks through #5 to #1. These are the games with a high degree of consensus among us: in fact, it took at least 6 of us voting for a game to make this list!
In short, this project aims to highlight 20 games that we think deserve a reprint. To make the list, we had 17 Opinionated Gamers vote, with precisely 50 games receiving votes. Our only criteria were that (1) the game had to be out of print for at least a couple of years, (2) the voter had to think that the game was good enough to be reprinted, and (3) preferably these games would be difficult to find on the secondary market, so that a reprint would be justified.
The first article discussed the background behind the series and our methodology. We’ve have an additional article every day this week, and tomorrow we’ll end with some interesting statistics and a “what we missed” discussion.
Without further ado, here are the games that we think deserve a reprint.