Eldrbarry's Game Closet Part 3:
Current Favorites and the Euro Games Revival
Through the years, I have accumulated and played a lot of games in our family game closet. Some have been enduring hits, some had brief moments of glory, some were never played more than once. There is a lot of information on the internet on these various games including variant rules or alternate ways to play, and I am linking that to my games on these pages.
Current New Favorite Games
Two New Card Games are:
Of particular interest are the new European style board games. My son, Paul was introduced to them by fellow interns at IBM. Many of these are being published in English by companies like Rio Grande Games or Mayfair Games. Once J. Allen Frog got word of them Christmas' ago, the family was soon hooked! Expansions and other games are being added. And we are having fun introducing them to friends as well. I have more on the European designers in Part 3. Many boardgames have been adapted to Dice and Card versions, and to Online and App's play as well.
- Settlers of Catan (5-6 Player Expansion (Wiki - Geek) The modern "Monopoly" - this popular board game created by Klaus Teuber requires some cooperation as players compete for and trade the resources necesary to colonize an island and build cities and roads. The board is made up of hexagonal tiles, so it may be different every time. There are numerous expansions - Seafarers of Catan, Cities and Knights of Catan, and spin offs like Starfarers of Catan, etc. as well as a number of card and electronic versions. My Catan set was the 3rd edition - they changed their artwork for the 4th - so when I got Seafarers, alas, it turned out to be the new one! I scanned in the hex tiles from the old and made stickers for these Seafarer tiles. The Adapter Kit will help too. Ford Craftsman Studios has plastic frames for the various Catan games. University of Catan. . Scenarios . . Catan Online Official page
- Carcassonne This tile laying game, with "meeples" is always fun. The Inns and Cathedrals (which adds players) and Builders and Traders expand the basic game, as does the the River II tiles. The game was developed by Hans im Glück . For a more aggressive game with more people add the Princess and Dragon or the Tower expansions. There are more - See my Carcassonne page for much more information on expansions and varients. I purchased additional meeples in several colors, so up to eight people can play. We usually play with a "hand" of three tiles - play one and draw a replacement - it gives time for players to ponder their next play.
- "Egyptian themed" RA [Geek] (2-5 Players) Now back in print, one of Reiner Knizia's many excellent games, players strive for power by collecting tiles that represent various aspects of economic, spiritual, and technological growth aquired by bidding for them in RA auctions. Interesting stategies.
- Bohnanza (Geek) This Bean Trading Card Gameby Uwe Roseburg (who also created Agricola - Geek)keeps everyone busy even when it is someone else's turn. Be sure and get the Player's Mat (Print up 7) and Help Sheet (Print up 4) playing aids from Board Game Geek, they are helpful in getting new players into the game. Probably the most popular game at our game nights - everyone we introduce to it goes and gets it!
- Ticket to Ride (Geek) was created by Alan Moon. (Get the T2R 1910 Expansion for the larger cards.) Players collect sets of cards of train cars to claim railway routes on the board. T2R has a board map of North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Ticket to Ride has spun out several expansions:
T2R Europe -- it also has a T2R Europa 1912 expansion -- and
T2R Macklin(Germany) and Maps: T2R India and Switzerland, and T2R Nordic Countries are designed for 2-3 players. T@R The Heart of Africa is two player game that introduces terrain cards and T2R India and one of the T2R Asia's two maps allows team play. Board Game Geek has a list of Fan Created Maps as well.
- Two Cooperative games, both designed by Matt Leacock, pitch the players, working together, against the game! In Forbidden Island (Geek) they scramble to gather treasures from a sinking island. In Pandemic (Geek) has 2-4 players rapidly seeking cures before a number of epidemic deseases overcome the world. An expansion, Pandemic: On The Brink (Geek) adds 5-6 players, additional cards and options for play.
- Power Grid (Geek) (2-6 Players) designed by Friedemann Friese, it uses Network Building, Resource Management, and Auctions as play mechanics. It also has a variety of extra double sided maps available including France/Italy, Benelux/Central Europe, China/Korea, Brazil/Spain & Portugal(which includes a box to store other expansion maps), Russia/Japan, Québec/Baden-Württemberg, and Northern Europe/United Kingdom & Ireland (which includes 12 new power plant cards for use with Northern Europe map. A deck of expansion power plants is also available. It is a challenging game, expanding your system while maintaining enough resources to power what you have already built.
- Isla Dorada (Geek) (3-6 Players) by Bruno Faidutti and Alan R. Moon, has lovely artwork and an unusual manner of play - there is only one playing piece and the players, which each have their own secret agendas, bid as to which way it moves on the Island Map.
- Small World (Geek) A variety of fantasy races combined with special powers struggle to occupy the map, only to go into decline and be replaced by others. Expansions adding additional races and powers are available, as well as the stand-alone Small World Underground (Geek)
- Ten Days in Africa (Geek) Out of the Box's "10 Days" Series by Alan R. Moon, is a good light filler game for 2 to 4, and very educational as well. Play consists on getting ten tiles representing countries and modes of transportation in a correct order on the racks - the board is used only for reference. There are games for the USA,
Europe, Asia and The America's available.
- Acquire (Wiki - Geek) Designed by Sid Sackson in 1962; and produced first as an 3-M bookshelf game, then an Avalon Hill game, then by Hasbro. The game involves playing tiles on the board to create, build or merge hotel chains, and buying and selling stocks in these chains to acquire the most money at the end of the game. Written by an American, some consider this the first "Euro" Game!
- Airlines Europe (Wiki - Geek)
seems like a cross between Acquire and Ticket to Ride(which Alan Moon also designed) - Routes for various airlines are purchased, but points are made from the player's stock portfolio!
- Bazaar (Geek) designed by Sid Sackson in 1967 has attempting to gain the right combination of beautiful glass stones from the Bank to purchase the wares displayed in the Bazaar. Rules have varied through editions, we like to play it with partners to 50 points, using four stacks of five ware cards each, when one stack is depleted, the other 25 cards are added beneath the remaining three stacks, and all cards score with an extra star.
- Primordial Soup (Ursuppe) (Geek) is a unigue game where players control a tribe of amoebas living in Earth's past trying to survive in the Primordial Soup feeding, excreting and evolving new genes. Interesting play mechanics. Out of Print, an expansion Freshly Spiced adds 5-6 Players and additional Genes.
- Pegs and Jokers is usually played husbands against wives, and usually played on home-made boards. It uses three standard decks of playing cards shuffled together for peg movement. Jokers and Pegs or Pegs and Jokers sell boards.
- Puerto Rico (Geek) (3-5 players) is a very popular Economic Development game by Andreas Seyfarth. There are rules for two players, on line; and by purchasing a second set (as I did), Puerto Rico can be adapted to six players. Extra Pirate and Politician Role Cards can be added to that. I have some Playing Aids: a Setup Chart and a Summary Page of Roles and Buildings See Adam Skelding's helpful Game Flow Chart. A PC Version is now available. San Juan, the card version is playable by two to five.
- El Grande (Geek) (3-5 Players) A game by Wolfgang Kramer, the players are Grandes in old Spain. Each wants to increase his influence at the court and in the regions by placing his caballero in the regions of Spain. It is relatively simple to play (albeit difficult to master)-- It is much more about tactics and strategy and diplomacy than it is about luck. The Decennial Edition included five expansions. (Out of Print)
Five Tribes (Geek) (2-4 Players) An interesting set of mechanics involving Mancala styled displacement of different colored meeples on a tiled board, and a variety of ways to earn points done nicely in an Arabian Nights Themed game. Easy to learn, but offering complex ways of winning.
Allow me a brief rant: Do all Game designers have odd numbers of friends over?
Five Player Games don't work well for our game nights when we usually have 6-8 people!
There quite a few good "Filler Games" - Games that are short, simple and fun to play before or between other more intricate games....
- Bang! The Bullet! (Geek) This "spagetti western" card game and its' several expansions is a great card game and playable with groups up to eleven. The identity of the sheriff is known, but whom among the rest are outlaws? Deputies? or Renegades? Useful info and downloads in various languages are found on BGG
and on Bang! CZ; and Wiki and the RPG Review are useful.
- Dominion [2-4 players] (Geek) is a "deck building" game with a medieval theme designed by Donald X Vaccarino. Starting with just a few, players buy and play additional cards, shuffling those into their deck for play, or to add victory points. The game comes with roughly 500 cards, but not all are used in a particular game. Only 10 of the 25 Kingdom card types included are used in any given game -- leading to immense variety. Dominion: Intrigue - a stand-alone which expands the game with 25 additional sets of Kingdom cards can be combined with Dominion for 2-6 players or two tables of 2-4 players. Numerous additional "themed" expansions have been added - Dominion: Prosperity (Geek) is should also be added to those, as it adds Platinum as a coin and Colonies to the Victory cards both of which which really adds to play. Additional "Themed" expansions include: Seaside, Hinterlands,(+ 300 cards each) and Dark Ages (+ 500 cards), and three smaller expansions: Alchemy, Cornucopia and Guilds (+150 Cards each). Five promo cards are also available. Published in 2008, it has received numerous awards!! And we have played it a lot! As the cards are frequently shuffled, cards sleeves might be a good addition, thought there are an awful lot of cards! Here is a Dominion Card Randomizer. I made up a New Player Hints Card and a New Player Playing Mat.
Tile-based Games are plentiful in the new Euro games.
- Fjords [2 Players] A Tile laying game, first building a map of Fjords, then competing for territory. (Out of Print)
- Hey! That's my Fish! [2-4 Players] Penguins move over hex shaped tiles competing for fish on a collapsing ice flow.
- Taluva [2-4 Players] (Geek) Building huts, towers and Temples on an island changing as active volcanoes erupt, played with Tiles. (Out of Print).
- Uptown [2-5 Players]- a Tile laying game. The goal of the game is to try to connect your tiles together into as few groups as possible.
- Tigris and Euphrates [2-4 Players] A Tile placement game set in the ancient Near East as players build competing civilizations. Considered one of Reiner Knizia's best games it involves a lot of strategy. A card version Euphrates and Tigris is available.
- Alhambra (2-6 Players) This Tile laying game of building a beautiful spanish palace has several expansions.
- Rummikub (Geek) An Israeli tile rummy game. (Some Isreali varients)
- The New Dominoes (Wiki) There are quite a variety of Domino Games including our favorites: Mexican Train and Chickenfoot.
There are quite a variety of other play mechanics of the new "Euro" board games such as :
- Auction mechanics are a part of games like Power Grid, The Princes of Florence [Geek] (3-5 Players) and Goa [Geek] (2-4 Players).
- Area Control - Not just the province of Risk (now in many newer versions), but also games like the "Spanish" El Grande [Geek] (2-5 Players) and its expansions, the "fantasy race themed" Small World [Geek] (2-5 Players), Rise of Empires [Geek] and others like Bridges of Shangri La (Geek]
- Worker Placement - such as Pillars of the Earth (Geek) (2-4 Players). Other popular Worker Placement Games include the very popular Agricola, [Geek] (1-5 Players), "castle building" Caylus [Geek] (2-5 Players) and "medieval military-economic" Kingsburg [Geek] (2-5 Players)
- Cooperative Play is used in Pandemic and Forbidden Island (Geek), and Ghost Stories (Geek) where players fight ghosts seeking to take over a town.
- Characters taking on different roles are used in Citadels, Bang, Puerto Rico, Pandemic and Forbidden Island, Small World, and Mission Red Planet and others.
European Designer Board Games and the Revival of Board Gaming, Wolfgang Kramer Alan R. Moon, Bruno Faidutti (his blog) and others, are introducing lost of increasingly popular games in the United States. These games are published in the U.S. primarily by Mayfair and Rio Grande Games.
European designer games are characterized by such features as simple rules, attractive components, relatively abstract designs, and a lack of direct conflict. Great care is taken with the look and feel of the game. They commonly have wooden pieces. These games have contributed to a revival of game playing by young adults. German games are usually multiplayer (though seldom for more than six players - and for this, sometimes expansions are needed) and can be learned easily and played in a relatively short time, perhaps multiple times in a single session. A certain amount of socializing and "table talk" might typically be expected during game play - players often get to "play" during other player's turns. A wide variety of often innovative mechanics are used, and familiar mechanics like rolling dice and moving, capture, or trick taking are avoided. They are usually designed around themes, but generally they are neither combatative nor attempting to create simulations. Most of these games are designed to keep all players in the game as long as possible, so it is rare to be certain of victory or defeat until relatively late in the game. Some of the mechanics, like hidden scoring or scoring at the end of the game, are also designed around this avoidance of player elimination. Playing time varies from a half hour to a couple of hours, with around an hour being typical.
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More Current Games Publishers
Some Current Euro Game Publishers
- Rio Grande Games US publisher of German designer games including Puerto Rico, Bohnanza, and lots, lots more. Look for English versions of Kosmos, Queen, Amigo Spiele, Tilsit, and Hans im Gluck games here.
- Mayfair Games US publisher of the Settlers of Catan series of games. They have some Catan variants. Mayfair does English versions of Phalanx and da Vinci Games.
- Phalanx Games (Netherlands)
- da Vinci Games (It) Bang! Card game and many more
- Days of Wonder Among their games are the Ticket to Ride series, Memoir '44 series and Cleopatra.
- Queen Games Among their games are the Alhambra series and Wallenstein.
- Gryphon Games A nice series of reprints and other games.
- Tenkigames An Italian Company with several new games
- Ragnar Brothers UK
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Wikipedia (which has many pages on board games, standard playing card games and dedicated deck dard games and collectable card games) and Board Game Geek, in particular, has a lot of useful information regarding various games. Pagat has rules for lots of Card Games, including many invented games, and The Game Cabinet has archived the rules for a lot of the older games as well. Another source of rules is Master's Games Traditional Rules. In the sections that follow on this page, I have hyper linked some of these and other information concerning the many games in our closet. The links below include links to Funagain Games - which carries a lot of games at very good prices, as well as (Wiki)pedia and Board Game (Geek) pages on the various games.