Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Wo ist mein Luftschiff-Kapitän Hut?

Players: Paul A, Sarah, Gareth II, Dan, Andy, Jon, John

  I must confess that the recent predeliction for SteamPunk themed everything has gone right over my head. Slapping a few cogs and a pair of swimming goggles on a pirate hat just doesn't excite me a great deal, but thank god for variety so I'm greatful that it exists as a thing even if it's not one I can personally get into. That sense of diversity in personal experience is a running theme for this week's blog, both in James' question of the week and in the games we played; Small World has recently been revealed as the Marmite of boardgames at IBG with equal amounts of lovers and haters, there is an ongoing debate about whether CoMKL is really better than Suburbia or just newer, and Machi Koro delivers a mixed bag of of warm fuzzy love and scratchy heads. Join our compact septet this week who crazily eschewed the opportunity for an all-night 7 Wonders marathon for castles, balloons, and faraway lands - it's all a bit like going to Disneyland, except with a few more firing squads thrown in.

Coup: Guatemala '54 (thanks Paul A)

We started by introducing Sarah to Coup: Guatemala 1954 and the pleasures of a game that's all about lying. The random selection of cards turned up an interesting combo in the Communists stealing from the rich, the Church stealing money from everyone, the CIA quietly taking income and the radio station in for good measure. It got down to a situation where I was was pretty sure what everyone had ... and couldn't do a thing to stop John winning. (FLIPS TABLE)

Castles of Mad King Ludwig (thanks Paul A)

Then onto The Castle of Mad King Ludwig, and some strange castle were built indeed. There was a bonus tile for downstairs rooms but such was the rush for them that I missed out entirely and settled for building many music rooms for a personal bonus, while Jon studied every new tile with the intensity of a man trying to unify string theory. High scores all around, so we may be getting too good at this game. 

Machi Koro Harbour (thanks Jon)

 Chosen whilst Dan was visiting the little boys' room (or else he would probably have vetoed it...)
This one played out beautifully, with a great mix of '1-die' and '2-die' cards coming out. Jon focused on building a solid '1-die' engine whilst Andy quickly moved on to 2 dice. Dan and Paul traded coins via their various cafes and other nefarious establishments.
Andy built his Airport relatively quickly, following a massive windfall from his Veg Market, and never looked back. Jon was within one major landmark of equaling Andy's achievement, but, in reality, was miles behind. Paul and Dan - also ran...... 


After the lightweights had cleared out it was left to Dan and Jon to keep the flag flying with a welcome return of this dice/tableau filler. The first game saw an early rush from Dan to build Airships before Jon got his factory into action and took back the Airship token. Dan struggled to get red and black dice into hand making it very difficult to bring the game to an early close. His clear lead began to rapidly erode before completely disappearing, but securing a couple of VP scoring elements started to balance things out again. Jon started to build elements of the Hindenburg to keep his score moving forward but Dan swiped the final Airship required to end the game. Totalling up the scores it was very close, however Jon's late rush on production saw him clinch the win.
A second game was set up amid some musing on how the game very rarely seems to end with construction of the Hindenburg. This time Jon got his production into gear much more quickly and held the silver Airship for most of the game. The regular Airships were proving tricky to acquire and after Jon built the first stage of the giant Luftschiff Dan went directly for red and black dice, then proceeded to build the remaining stages in quick succession. And so it ended up as a comprehensive victory in a very short game rather typically with the exact thing we were discussing as never happening in this game.
One game all then, and a nice way to round off the night!

Also played this evening: Small World

On our Boardgamegeek guild page James has initiated an open Q&A session with a new question each week. Feel free to play along at home, and even if you are not a regular IBG attendee you are more than welcome to join in with your own answers!

Last weeks question: "We all like to win, but what games do you play, that you love to play, but could care less about winning….. (obviously for Paul, this is every game… else he’d never turn up )"

 James: "I'll set the ball rolling on this with Bausack... you might end up with a pile of rubble in front of you, but while it's standing I think everyone is enjoying the process of constructing their own little piece of modern art and feeling that it should be in the Tate. "

 Gary: ""Could" or "couldn't" care less? I'll assume the latter... In which case, any game I play with my kids! In fact, I prefer to lose when playing with them as they invariably have a better time if they win and are more likely to want to play again...
The only other games I didn't remotely care about were ones I just wasn't enjoying and wanted to be over! Thunder Road and Battlecon come to mind!"

 Peter: "I agree with Tash re Agricola. My aim is to hit 30 points. If I do that I am satisfied and always have great fun building a farm. Same goes for Caverna, Le Havre, Ora and Labora... All the Rosenberg classics. Dominion also, build a satisfying engine and buy lots of shiny action cards instead of boring money and vp cards even if you know it will lose you the game...far more entertaining. Phil Eklund games where the story is intertwined with the strategy similarly: Greenland which we played last night is really about being in the game and surviving the simulation rather than playing well or winning. "

Paul A: "High Frontier on the top of the stack. The sheer feeling of achievement when you manage to land on Mars / slingshot around Saturn / die screaming as you plummet into the Venusian atmosphere outweighs any small consideration of "victory".
It is, of course, pointless to try and win Tales of the Arabian Nights, so you may as well sit back and enjoy the story. For something more gamey, many of the old classics offer an imbalanced but fun time. For example, Source of the Nile offers a rich and strange tapestry, as players traipse around Africa, get lost, suffer attacks from natives, marry a comely native girl, get attacked by animals and die horribly. It seems unsporting to try and win. "

 Dan: ""Couldn't care less about winning" applies to pretty much every game I play, so the focus for me is always on the "love to play" aspect. I find this question to be heavily linked to both of the previous weeks questions as it asks us to touch into why we choose to spend our precious time playing games instead of any other meaningful activity we could be doing instead.
Games for me need to either encourage plenty of above the table interaction or to be evocative of the thematic setting, preferably both. If I feel like I am accomplishing something, whether it's building a farm, raising an empire, or simply following a virtual beings extraordinary life, then I'm doing an activity that I can find fun, even if there isn't a great deal of Nanuk/Diamant/Apples level interaction going on with the other players.
But I also get bored quickly laugh so I turn over games fairly rapidly if they don't entertain. At the moment I guess it's most probably Castles of Ludwig and Imperial Settlers that I like to play and I'm looking forward to Thunderbirds arriving in the summer. I'm starting to get a little bored with Sentinels as it's kind of collapsing under it's own weight, but I have played some games recently with just the base game characters that were a lot of fun and reminded me of how good a game it can be.
I like Medieval Academy too, and would love to play Android again sometime. Arabian Nights is fun but it should really be a paragraph gamebook as the actual game and board are a complete irrelevance. I liked both Mysterium and Paperback, both of which seem to have come and gone quite quickly from the club's game table. And oh Pax Porfiriana, in the context of James' question let me write you a love letter for your wonderful blend of theme, mechanics, and back-stabbing douchbaggery. Eklund may come across as having eaten to many of the funny toadstools but he got it together long enough to put that one together. "

 Jon: "Sorry - I don't understand the concept.........."not winning????"  
OK...OK...I'll answer the question if I have to......
I must admit, my default position is 'competitive', but there are some games which are more about the experience:
1) Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective - I guess you don't technically really 'win' this one, and it's a co-op so probably doesn't count anyway, but I love the game as an experience as much as anything else.
2) Coup - I love bluffing games, and this one is quick and fun - who cares who wins....?!
3) Railroad Tycoon - hmmmmm - I love this game so much, I'd like to think that I don't care if I win or not, because the pure joy of playing it is enough. But then again, I often play against Noel, and I can't help feeling a pang of discomfort if he pips me by a point or two.... shake
4) Tumblin-Dice - who cares if you win - as long as you can knock one of James' dice off every turn..... devil
5) Tammany Hall - who cares if you win - as long as the interminable torture ends as soon as possible cry (not that I'm scarred by my one play of this game at all.......) " 

 Tash: "Er... I vote for Agricola
Folks are talking about how the theme of games they love helps them enjoy themselves, irrespective of the result, which I totally agree with in very many cases. This chimes with the Agricola thing "for beginners / intermediate players" - where the abstracted VP process makes it hard to even see (let alone care) if you're winning.
But there's also the "for intermediate/expert players" side of Agricola. In this case, your cards simply might not be as good as the next guy, which basically means your ceiling is not as good as theirs. So you can theoretically play perfectly and lose (although if you played perfectly I imagine you probably would not lose...!)
Now some gamers hate that element of things. "I was doomed from the start". But I enjoy games where it's about beating the odds - or making your odds count (whether you know the odds or not). There is something intriguing to me about the idea that you are not running an even race. As a Diplomacy player, perhaps my attitude is unsurprising.
I guess that another game that does this for me is Poker.
I am no expert, but I do know that, in Poker, once you reach a certain level of accomplishment, the most important thing to do is play right - rather than always to win.
Rudimentary example:
You have AA; the other guy has 72 off
You bet heavy before the flop and get called
The board comes A 7 2.
He goes all in, so do you
The cards come 7 7 and you lose.
The chances of that are minimal, you have the guy utterly dominated, and you played right. That is play to be happy about (although obviously it is frustrating to lose). By contrast, the guy who walks away with all the money can be relieved - but can he be happy with the way he played?
It is obviously rewarding to be both those guys - but I would rather be the guy who plays right and lost that time... than the guy who plays wrong and won that time.
[Of course we would all want to be someone who plays right and wins... should that person exist... presumably]
Perhaps that is a peculiar way of looking at gaming? I don't know. "

 Paul D: "I think that my default position is exactly the opposite of Jon's and much more in line with Dan. I like playing games a lot and would much rather play and enjoy than play and win. Quite convenient, me being me and all. However if the win happens, which lets face it is a rare occurrence, it does feel quite nice if it was the result of a well laid plan coming together. And if it means that Jon or James haven't won, it is kinda satisfying too. "

This weeks question: "Imagine you're standing in the upcoming election on behalf of the Board Game Party.... what would be in your manifesto ?" 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Teaching Your Dog To Read

Players: Paul A, Peter, James, Phil, Rachel, Sarah, Gareth II, Paul D, Dan, Tash, Andy, Jon, John

Apparently the best way to get a dumb beast to learn something new is to make simple, repetitive commands in an authoritarian tone, and to periodically reward it with treats. And the best way to punish ill behaviour is also with a stern voice, which makes me wonder that the only difference between the two is the tasty snacks. Does this then mean that fat dogs are smarter dogs, or simply better behaved? And what does this have to say about our own inept attempts at explaining games at IBG? Come to think of it, I don't think I can remember the last time I played a game without there first being a rules explanation for the benefit of at least one person at the table. What does it all mean then? As usual, I have no idea beyond enough rambling to fill the preface to this week's blog with a tenuous link to some rules explanations of debatable clarity at this evening's club night. Here we go then!

Deep Sea Adventure (thanks Paul A)

We started with Deep Sea Adventure, which was so awesome there were two copies. Undoubtedly fun, even as I was drowning mere feet from the surface. (It is uncanny that you can turn your diver about, figuring "plenty of time to get to the surface" and then watch the air vanish in a flash.)

 7 Wonders

On arrival I was greeted with a choice of jumping into a game of Kingdom Builder that had just got underway, Replacing James in Greenland but halfway through what looked to be a long and dense rules explanation, or to add yet another player to a burgeoning game of 7 Wonders. Seeing as Paul A had neglected to bring along any tasty treats with him I opted to lead whatever faction it is that gets extra resources in this popular set collecting game. Having said some things in the week's Q&A that seemed to stir up no small amount of defensiveness it was of course predictable that I would have an hilarious failgame by doing almost the opposite of what I usually do, whilst Tasha stormed to a convincing victory by (yes that's right) playing lots of green and not much red at all. Excuse me now while I get back to this pot that urgently needs a bit more stirring...
Tasha: 80 gazillion, John, Gareth II, Sarah, Andy: something respectable, Dan: egg on my face.

Time of Soccer 

Another run out for the young lad, coming off the bench again to dazzle with his twinkle toes and nutmeg the defenders before chipping the goalie with a nice stepover (or something) At the end of ninety minutes with another sixty minutes overtime it was Spain 1 Germany 0 in the footie game designer cup, they were all over the moon and sick as parrots in this game of three halves. 
Tasha admitted to a certain pervading sense of cluelessness regarding some of the game elements, specifically coaches and endgame scoring, and although he started with the equivalent of Ronaldo, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho in attack his rather leaky defence was his ultimate undoing. Dan and Andy (who had been paying closer attention to the rules) had a more balanced approach with Andy focussing on a better scout and stronger team in the early game and Dan utilising coaches to get the most out of his second rate long-ball hoofers. The league was close right to the finish with Andy just pulling away in the penultimate game to take the honours and Dan struggling in an awful season finale to be pipped into third place by one of the neutral teams despite having been league leader for most of the game. 
Both Dan and Tasha were knocked out of the cup in the first round but then Andy managed to throw it all away in the final to some lower league team that had slain every giant before it.
Andy was this seasons Chelsea and Dan was typical old Arsenal, whereas Tasha did his best to emulate the mighty Scunthorpe.

Kingdom Builder (thanks Jon)

After last week's question about abstract games, Jon was reminded how much he enjoyed this one. Paul was a reasonably easy recruit and Phil & Rachel were given little choice by Jon.
The mission cards were: build a large settlement area; connect location hexes; build 3 settlements in a row.
Phil and Rachel hadn't played before, but got the gist pretty quickly. Paul spread out from the middle of the board and quickly joined up 2 areas of settlements, joining several location hexes in the process. Rachel had 2 big areas but was putting down settlements at a rate of knots, having 4 special ability tiles that enabled her to place extra tiles.
Phil found himself a little spread out in a couple of different areas, but managed to place next to all the citadels. Jon had a plan to join lots of locations together, but failed when Paul and Phil both cut him off - let's pretend it wasn't on purpose...
Rachel finished the game whilst the other players still had plenty of settlements left. As expected, Paul had won (although not by as any points as was expected) and the other 3 players couldn't have been closer.
Awesome game that is going in the bag again next week, whatever any of the naysayers nay-say...
Paul 56; Jon 49; Rachel 48; Phil 48


We have a trio of reports for the first landing of Phil Eklunds big Essen release from last year. By the way, what on earth is going on in that box cover? What is that Walrus doing to that poor man??

Paul A:
Greenland is an absolutely archetypal Eklund piece and I think I got only a few rules wrong. James had little fun but was a good sport about it, Peter accumulated huge piles of loot and walked away with the game. I teetered on the edge of extinction several times but tamed a husky, failed to hunt a seal and left some hardy Eskimo descendants in North America. So, a typical game. 

 Paul did a fantastic job of explaining a rules-dense reasonably unintuitive game. Greenland is pretty epic in terms of its ambition and the story it tells. It demands a few plays to get to grips with it, first play is really about learning. I can see how it can lead to frustrations when you hit an insurmountable wall as James did. And I only won as I remembered a rule which you told us, but which you subsequently forgot (fire is worthless at the end)!
I'd love to play again one day. 

But a slightly less enthusiastic tone from James:
Played Greenland with Paul and Pete...
lets cut to the chase... I didn't enjoy the game much... And as it took about 3 hours from end to end it was pretty much the whole evening (apart from a quick copy of games of spyfall at the end that were fun as ever )
I'm pretty sure I played badly... That's almost guaranteed true. It felt like the dice were screwing me early, but in retrospect I can see how a better analysis of the initial setup and I couldve have strategised differently to improve my chances.... But I don't get to play games enough to allow games of this length enough of a learning curve so I can start to enjoy the game... If I need to get several games of a 3 hour game under my belt before it starts to make sense then it's not for me...
Way too much dice luck required, difficult to plan ahead as the event cards were ruthless, about twice a long as it should be for the experience, and quite repetitive as well... It has a few nice ideas such as the glacier movement across the board that restricts options as the game progresses, but not enough to rescue the faults...
I read another review that covers similar ground to me and so saves me having to type more. I suspect this guy had the same experience as me...

I too struggled with the length of this game. We played a 3-player game with 3 very experienced gamers, and while it was our first play, it took nearly 2.5 hours.
The game boils down to little more than trying to roll triples over and over while deciding which card you actually have a shot at acquiring on your turn. And once you get ahead, you inevitably get smashed down (or watch your opponent get smashed down through no action of your own) by a nasty event card.
Manage to roll triples on your turn? Great. You just earned 8 VPs. Even after all your modifiers you failed to roll a single one? Great. You just wasted an entire turn, and you likely have some elders and hunters die.
I just don't see the appeal to this sort of game IF it's going to take 2 hours. If this was a 30 minute filler, wonderful. I could understand. But to slog through a game as punishing and swinging as this one for 120+ minutes... no thanks.
Ps. Sorry Paul... I know you love this game !! Don't hold it against me

Also played this evening: Spyfall

On our Boardgamegeek guild page James has initiated an open Q&A session with a new question each week. Feel free to play along at home, and even if you are not a regular IBG attendee you are more than welcome to join in with your own answers!

Last weeks question: "Slightly different approach to this weeks question... but I thought it might be fun as everyone likes to make lists…

Rank the 10 games below from most to least favourite and feel free to add some comments to explain yourself.
• Dominion
• Ticket To Ride
• Kingdom Builder
• Machi Koro
• 7 Wonders
• Agricola
• Carcassonne
• Nanuk
• For Sale
• Small World
(and yes I have picked very different games, but all are amongst the most played at the club over the last few years, or well-known enough that most people have had a chance to play them)

Get ready for some controversy this week folks!

John B: "Interesting list as it includes my favourite ever game and also the game I consider to be the worst in the BGG top 550 (At least of the ones I have played)
1. Kingdom Builder (About as perfect as a game can get. Simple rules, quick play time, massive re-playability, and much deeper game play than is at first apparent)
2. 7 Wonders (pretty much matches the same criteria as Kingdom Builder, but with a bit less variety and depth)
3. Dominion (I wish they had not released the expansions quite so fast, as I could not keep up. Hardly played it since Seaside, though I have been playing it a lot online since they included it in the card games humble bundle)
4. For Sale (Great little filler that does not outstay it's welcome)
5. Ticket To Ride ( I am counting this as the whole family as I don't much care for the base game, there is not enough going on for me. The later additions of tunnels, ferries and all of the expansion maps are much more attractive to me)
6. Agricola (I appreciate it's a good game, but I have not played it enough to ever be able to not spend 95% of the game trying to feed my family. I must have built some of the worst farms ever built. I don't feel I need to ever play it again now I have Caverna, much more fun and I can build pretty good farms with it)
7. Carcassonne (It's OK, but if I want a tile laying game I'll choose Alhambra over it every time.)
8. Machi Koro (Never played it due to my general dislike of most of the hot Japanese games I have played. Put it 8th as I really dislike the other two games.)
9. Nanuk (Just really not my type of game)
10. Small World gulp (my comments on BGG for this 'game', 'Exciting entertaining and fun are just three of the words I would never use when talking about Small World. Boring, turgid and dull come much more to mind. Dreadful excuse for a game.') "

Dan: "Can I rank Nanuk first and everything else as a zero..? Actually that's a bit harsh, I do quite like some of these.

Let me put you on speed-dial!
Nanuk: This goes top because it is simply awesome. Every game I've played has been filled with riotous laughter, groans, and taunts as the hunt cards are slowly flipped over. It's more than a great game, it's a great time, and in the context of this list Nanuk has six fish and two Inuksuks in hand and is going to bluff out of your fish hunt just because.

I like you but let's just stay friends, m'kay?
Agricola: What's this you say? Angrikoala so high up the list? Is this man feeling alright? What does this mean for all of sanity's sake??
Well, I've played far more of this than many of you might imagine despite only sitting down to it twice at IBG and my chronic condition of cube-allergy. I find that there is an awful lot wrong with the game but the core design is still great despite the intervening years, multitude of ever more ridiculous bonus decks, and Uwe's determination to redesign into ever more complicated games with even less compelling themes (coming soon: "Lamppost" the economic lamp placement game about bringing light to obscure Bavarian country lanes). Agricola is a good solid game, and I can understand it's popularity.
7 Wonders: You can totally script this game. I'm certainly no expert but I do tend to score highly and win a lot, and I'm starting to feel like I am just cranking the handle on this one these days. Collect the green cards. Build your Wonder in the early game. Focus on money above production. Exploit free builds. Respond to military aggression rather than instigating it. And so on, and so on, etc.

Let's do lunch sometime.
Carcassonne: I really think the base game needs the traders tiles and the builder meeple to come into it's own, every other bit of expansion material can go in the bin where it belongs. But I much prefer Carc: The Castle which distils everything great about the superior two player game and turns the dial up even higher with new mechanics tailored around direct head-to-head play. So I'm ranking Carc lower than it probably deserves because I think that offshoots from the base game have outgrown the parent design.
Ticket To Ride: Similar to Carcassonne above, once you've sampled the European, Nordic, or (my favourite) Asian versions the base game just seems so flat and uninvolving by comparison.
Small World: My kids like to play this sometimes, I think it's nice but a bit procedural. I've never really felt the sabre-rattling tension that usually comes with Dudes-on-a-Map games when playing this. The strategic choices of troop placement and movement are very limited and the timing of when to go into decline has always seemed terribly obvious, so it's all a bit thin in the end.

Don't call me; I'll call you...
Machi Koro: This one just doesn't jive with me at all. I'd consider giving it another whirl with the Harbour Expansion that people are raving over.
Dominion: I think Dominion is okay when played at a really good pace, but slow games are total torture. I didn't like any of the expansion decks that were foisted upon me either, and ultimately found the gameplay to be very lightweight and repetitive. It's telling that the entire concept of Dominion was based on a mechanic used in CCGs and has now gone full circle by becoming a simple mechanic in other board/card games.
For Sale: This filler had a few outings in the early days of the club. It's okay I guess but I think we just played it right out of it's limited scope to entertain, and there doesn't seem to be a spark that has kept it going as a regular filler.

Sorry, what was your name again?
Kingdom Builder: Haven't played it and don't have the inclination to do so. "

Noel: "Happy days a list..
Kingdom Builder - enjoyed loads of plays of this at the club. Lots to think about and quick playing.
For Sale - top filler and family game
Agricola - Still to play the 'live' game (with Phil and Andy) but enjoy the basic game on the iPad
Nanuk - I agree with Dan!
Ticket to Ride - havent played this for a while but keen to do so again
Carcassone - havent played this for a while and sort of keen to do so
Machi Koro - enjoyed it initially but samey and a good start kind of kills the game
7 Wonders - dont know the game well enough to have any interaction with other players and always seemed a bit clunky for a gateway and rather play something else with proper gamers
Dominion - rather play Trains
Small World - rather play anything"

Paul M: "1) Carcassonne
Instantly pick-upable and with many levels from friendly play with kids to viciously competitive play with boardgame elders!

2) Agricola
Again not tricky to pick up and with different levels of complexity. Two player with all the cards being devilish while four players with no cards just plain satisfying

3) 7 Wonders
One of the first boardgames I bought. A lovely concept with quick gameplay. The only issue being a lack of two player option and many more than three players leaves you subject to luck in terms of who you sit next to and what their strategies are.

4) Ticket to Ride (but play the Europe version!)
Simple, colourful and fun. The Europe version is less competitive as bridges allow you to use other people's routes.

5) Small World
I think playing this against Jon left me traumatised. The way he manipulated my friend and ally Arturo to rally against me was devastating

6) Dominion
I've just not played this one enough to compete at the club. I.e. Gareth trounced me multiple times in the Botanist! (Whoops that was R&KBGs)

7) For Sale
This one just doesn't do it for me. Theme not fun enough and gameplay too simple.

Don't know these at all:
• Kingdom Builder
• Machi Koro
• Nanuk"

Gary: "1. Agricola - just the dog's bollox (if a bit mentally exhausting)
2. Kingdom Builder - very clever and very replayable
3. Dominion - though only with lots of expansions mixed in
4. 7 Wonders - I like it with three when it is pretty tactical, with more it's much more random but it gets marks for playing up to so many
5. Carcassonne - I agree that the builders expansion is essential. Also a great iPad game
6. Ticket to Ride Europe - there is not a lot to it but it is good for a quick iPad game
7. Machi Koro - it is ok, but very overrated
8. For Sale - only played once and Didn't leave much of an impression
9. Smallworld - only played on iPad when it is ok but I don't have any desire to play in person

Never played or even heard of Nanuk!

Paul A: "1. For Sale: it's a game design I admire and the only one of the "buy stuff with which you buy stuff" games that I feel works. Or at least that I can play competently.
2-5. Ticket To Ride, Kingdom Builder, Carcassonne, Small World: a.k.a. "games i play on my tablet while on the way to work". All simple, elegant games which just enough depth to engage, not so much as to frustrate. If that sounds like damning with faint praise, it isn't.
6. Machi Koro: didn't think much of MK basic, but the Harbour expansion has opened it right up into an interesting and vicious game. Maybe too vicious - the last game I played, one of my opponents rage-quit. It can be very unfair ...
7. Dominion: I think it's a very clever game ... that I haven't played a lot. Hardcore Dominion players have turned me off the game a bit, but I appreciate the idea of the game and wish I could play it with other newbies.
8. 7 Wonders: I should really like this more, because there's good flexibility in the game, it ends in a fixed amount of time, it's reasonably balanced. But I always look for something else when it's suggested.
9. Agricola: I had a terrible first two games of this early on and have never gone back. Belatedly, I've come to realise that maybe the game isn't that bad, but it's impossible to get a play of it against opponents who aren't beard-stroking mumblers who have memorised all possible strategies. Hence, no fun for a neophyte and I can't be bothered getting good at a game just to enjoy.
Haven't played: Nanuk"

Soren: "Spooky - this (quoting Paul A) almost exactly matches my opinions - saves me a lot of typing.

Let us play casual, incompetent Dominion - and my Galaxy Trucker rethemed version is much better than the medieval or whatever crap the real theme is supposed to be."

Peter: "What a great selection of games you chose to rank.
1. Agricola - Inspiring and perspiring. This is stress defined.
2. Dominion - With a bunch of expansions and a completely random kingdom card draw this game really has unlimited re-playability and is never even remotely the same twice over. Amazing.
3. Ticket To Ride - So apparently innocent and simple, so actually evil and cut-throat. Africa map is insanely nasty.
4. 7 Wonders- there are not many good Euro-games for 6 or 7 players that don't have a ton of down-time, but this is a great exception.
5. Machi Koro - A hugely entertaining game. Those asshole dice!
6. Kingdom Builder - wonderful, fast and always interesting
7. Carcassonne - I know people who play this aggressively but I like to play passively and communally on a Sunday afternoon in front of a roaring fire. A relaxing game.
8. For Sale - terrific, elegant and clever. And in its original format available in the smallest of card boxes, ideal for taking everywhere.
9. Small World - Not a fan
10. Nanuk - Never heard of it."

James: "• Ticket To Ride
The base game is one of the lesser interesting variants, but still the best gateway game out there. Got me into the hobby, and never fails to hit the mark with newer gamers
• 7 Wonders
Great design, one of the better games of the last 5 years… Reminds me I really need to get the last expansion as it played really well when we tried it at Essen.
• Carcassonne
Never enjoyed this initially face to face… but on the iPad it’s one of the best. After overdosing on the iPad I’m now playing the boardgame again with my son and enjoying it immensely … need to include the River and a few of the expansions to add complexity.
• Machi Koro
Better with the adapted rules, big hit with everyone I’ve played with… Simple rules, cute game-play… really love this game.
• For Sale
One of the best fillers, really needs 5 or 6 thought to shine, so doesn't always get played
• Small World
A game of psycology when played with more than 2… it’s important not to get dragged into unnecessary battles. Jon seems to excel at this… never trust him EVAR !
• Nanuk
Great end of evening filler, but I do prefer other social games over this… resistance, saboteur, spyfall, one night werewolf, diamant etc.
• Dominion
Introduced a genre but one of the least interesting variations now that many other games have improved on the basis mechanic. I prefer Trains, Arctic Scavengers, Paperback etc… unlikely to ever play this again.
• Agricola
Didn't enjoy this when played... but I'm sur eI'm missing something and need to give this another try. I’m with you Paul in wanting to play this with other newbies to avoid being thrashed by the experienced crowd… Let’s have game sometime at the club arrrh
• Kingdom Builder
Nah. Really jsut a varioation on Go with some pictures of a landscape and a few cards... A dry themeless abstract… much prefer Through the Desert for this kind of experience as it also has cute camels… don’t understand all the love."

Neil: "For me I'd happily play Ticket To Ride (excepting the US map), Machi Koro, Agricola, Carcassonne, Nanuk and For Sale every day of the week. They're so different I don't find it sensible to rank them.
Machi Koro got so much hype that it didn't stand a chance. It's never professed to be anything other than a dice rolling, set collecting, light game. It has gorgeous artwork and everyone's involved on everyone else's turn, simple. The Harbor rules have extended game play hugely and make it maybe a little long now but I'll defend it forever. You should have been with us in the hotel in Essen when James first cracked it open, such a treat, especially as the majority of his Japanese games became rebranded Ferry games.
Of the others the two fillers are genius, For Sale is brilliantly simple and stands way ahead of most fillers in that you can try and win the game rather than just going with the luck. Nanuk is a great crack, great fun, works so well with a large number of idiots goading each other on, always happy to finish a night off with this one.
Love the variations of both Ticket to Ride and Carc. Little tweaks here and there and they make for some great games with 2, 3, 4 or 5. Some lovely versions; Switzerland, Nordic & Africa for T2R, and The Castle, New World and Hunters for Carc.
The Gric: I'd marry Rosenberg tomorrow. We could live somewhere in the backwaters of Germany and play games all day long. No doubt the sex wouldn't be up to much but you can't have everything I guess.
Kingdom Builder. I was SO anti this after my first few plays and then bought it and into it. Still wouldn't rush out to play it though. For me there is a pretty huge first player advantage - maybe I've just played against Noel too often - and then too much luck for me in a game that I think takes itself too seriously. I like the abstract/solitaire nature of it, but how someone who's played so many games loves it as much he does I don't comprehend! He's usually spot on with his opinions too, sorry John!
Haven't played either of the others. Traded away Small World having sorted all the fiddly bits. Prefer the Trains theming of my deck builders too so can't imagine trying Dominion.
Imagine if we all agreed on the order and there was world peace.. right, back to dreaming of Uwe. "

Paul D: "I love the idea of the list James - maybe you can do some more of these? My take on it is as follows, having bubble sorted them. However there are no games on this list that I'd shy away from playing - I like them all and have certainly enjoyed every one of them.
1 - Ticket To Ride
Such a simple, classic, elegant game I love it. Al;ways a bit different, good amount of jostling for position. Played it with my 72 year old Aunty and she enjoyed it (although did insist on spreading all her cards over the table) and I could easily play this with some hard core gamers and no complaints.
2 - Kingdom Builder
I struggle to see how people don't love this game, but each to their own, even the misguided ones! Loads of variety, good interaction, simple rules but a huge amount of depth. Simple and beautiful too.
3 - Machi Koro
I agree that this game has its flaws, but at its best it's hard to beat for a lightweight intro / semi thinky. Great design. And I like Japanese stuff. Better with the expansion and I'm sure possible to get round the flaws.
4 - Carcassonne
Another utter classic. I've only played a few variations of this but it just works. Love the look of the map when it's finished too. And I REALLY liek the city expansion (much more than hunters and gatherers).
5 - 7 Wonders
Nothing to say about this that hasn't already been said apart from that I like it.
6 - Agricola
I don't give this game enough kudos, or play time (don;t tell Andy or Phil I said that). It is a great game but I don;t usually find on a wednesday that I have the brain space to give it the attention that it deserves.
7 - Dominion
Very good, but probably usurped by Trains for me, especially with Rising Sun, so I doubt I'll play it too much again, but hey, that doesn't mean it ain't a fine game.
8 - Small World
I'm terrible at this game. Never come close to winning. Even more so than normal. It is a game I enjoy but I'd enjoy it even more if it wasn't for the fantasy theme, which I now a lot of people love.
9 - Nanuk
Lots of fun and I enjoy it, but very light hearted so I'd rally only play it after an evening of other stuff, and then not every week. But good all the same.
10 - For Sale
Good, but it's a filler. "

Natasha: "All-time classics: 1st equal:
This game changed the hobby. Puerto Rico pioneered the idea that you can play your own game and build a tableau that you can enjoy, without worrying overly much whether you won or not. But, you know, the abstraction wasn't total. For instance - you ship for points. In Agricola - the shift was completed. It's a game where you can have fun building a farm, feeding your family and generally creating stuff, and be utterly crap, and have a great time, and after consulting the abstract scoring chart, have precisely 3 seconds of "oh well" because you lost. It is the daddy of that whole genre of games, now, where the winner is obscured, unless you know where to look. On the flip side, for advanced players, you can still be brilliant and satisfied with your game and lose - because someone else optimised their cards better than you, and there's no shame in it. This is a measure of greatness in a game. "I played fantastic and lost, and I'm cool with that, let's play again some time." Awesome. Something for designers to aspire to.
Ticket to Ride
This game changed the hobby, too. How many millions sold? If there's a game that can finally sweep Monopoly from the supermarket shelves it's this one. It is the single best gateway game I have ever played. It is simple and fun and doesn't outstay its welcome and (like Agricola) has that concealed victory condition thing going on which means you can be losing like crazy and still enjoy it. I have never played it with a non-gamer who didn't like it. Gamers will often "meh" at this, and from a gamer perspective there is an awful lot wrong with it, but damn, it is the never fail gateway game, and for that it's a 10+ bravo, well done from me.
3rd place: 7 Wonders
Love this game, don't agree with Dan that it is "solvable", strongly consider that to be groupthink and wish him luck with his strategy against some of my friends. Quick and dirty with depth. V strong.
In the middle:
Nanuk (great fun party game and a great example of its genre)
Kingdom Builder (like playing a spreadsheet, which, don't get me wrong, is enjoyable)
For Sale (not sure it is humanly possible to be any worse at this game than me, but I can be a "big man" and say it's OK)
Machi Koro (like Wrigley's - it's chewy and passes the time but after a while it suddenly, all-at-once, loses its flavour)
Dominion (I'm going to say - best with 2? And you don't hear me say that very often)
The "Uma Thurman" award for everyone says you're fit and sexy and the hottest and bestest actress evah but I just don't get it: Carcasonne
Last place and I hope you die in a fire: Small World
Vinci and me are down the pub, and Small World is NFI. "

Jon: "As I own most of these games, I thought that I’d better throw my inconsequential thoughts into the ring…
Ticket to Ride
Assuming we're not just talking about the original game (which is probably one of my least favourite of the series), this stands out for me as the great 'gateway-plus' game. I can play several of the maps with serious gamers and have a very satisfying experience, or play Europe with my 2 young daughters and have an equally fun time. And Switzerland / Nordic are great with 2-players, so not a bad choice to play with the wife either!
Kingdom Builder
Where's the love, people??? With the expansions (Nomads and Crossroads) thrown in, I think that this is almost a perfect 45 minute game. It has huge variety, and although it is basically an abstract dressed up in a pretty frock, I don't care - I enjoy it!
Small World
With the right crowd, this is a fantastic game for all manner of devious trash talking. And with the Tales and Legends expansion, it ascends to an even higher plain.
7 Wonders
Few games play so well and quickly with any number of players up to 7. After the first (rather confusing) game, it can be played really quickly and, despite what others say, there are a number of ways to win the game, with a focus on Science being only one of them! Looking forward to trying the Cities expansion which adds a bit of interaction with players other than your immediate neighbours.
For Sale
I played this with my kids for the first time last week, and it reminded me of just how brilliant this old filler is. Quick to explain (don’t bother explaining the second half of the game until you get there); tricky bidding decisions; very little luck; and some nice psychological decisions in the second half. The perfect filler in my book.
One of the first 'proper' games that I played, and it still brings immense satisfaction to play it with family, friends and non-gamers alike. Needs the Inns & Cathedrals, and Traders & Builders expansions to really shine and I probably prefer the Castle and City versions more than the base game, if truth be told.
Machi Koro
Well I bought it recently so I must like it a bit! Definitely better with the expansion and the “10 deck” rule, although I admit it does need the odd house-rule to stop things freezing up at the beginning. Still tends to end with someone building a specific engine then getting exactly the roll that they need to score big bucks in one go, but as long as you go into the game knowing what to expect, then it’s really enjoyable. Lovely artwork too.
I really enjoy this game, but it is very ‘crowd-dependant.’ With the right crowd it can be an awesome experience, with loads of trash talk, outrageous claims, cheers at the appearance of polar bears and much laughter. With a less-engaged group, it tends to fall apart a bit, because the actual game can’t really hold its own weight outside of the personalities of the players. Then again, neither can many similar bluffing games (Resistance / Mayday Mayday / Saboteur), so it’s probably not the game’s fault…
When it first came out (yes I was alive then…) this was enormous, and rightly so, because of the novel ‘deck-building’ mechanism. However, the lack of any theme, and repetitive gameplay reduced it to an i-Pad distraction for me (I play it more than any other game on the i-Pad due to the speed that you can play when it’s in an electronic form). And, as others have noted, Trains has become Dominion 2.0, and I’d happily play that every week….
When this first came out, I really enjoyed my first few games (the ‘family’ variant without a lot of the cards) with Barry and Gareth, as we explored it together. However, when all the cards got introduced, my brain couldn’t cope with all the choices and it became a bit of a mental chore to me. I think that says more about me than it does about the game, though, which is a superb design. But then along came the 2-player Agricola: ACBAS. Now that is a game that really does float my boat!"


This weeks question: "We all like to win, but what games do you play, that you love to play, but could care less about winning….. (obviously for Paul, this is every game… else he’d never turn up )