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Popular Set Collection Board Games (Mechanic)

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Quite a game-filled week for me, although all online:

As mentioned below/above (no idea where my comment will appear), we finished another long running game of #Clans of Caledonia which I am a big fan of although it does melt my brain a little. Likewise played a couple of much shorter games of #Kingdom Builder which is a delightfully simple yet strategic game.

Also played #Luxor for the first time which was another lighter yet really interesting racing/set collection hybrid with some really nice mechanics. Maybe not one I would look to own but would love to play it again.

Tried #Santorini , also for the first time, and it is a delight. The BGA (Arena) version is 3D which is very cool and it is also a wonderfully simple yet tactical abstract thinker. I would love to own this one as I imagine playing it in person is joyous with the tiny buldings. 

Got in a couple of games of #Race for the Galaxy which is always a fun filler and continued my now fairly long running D&D campaign with some uni friends which this week involved a lot of beauracy and arguing with guards (as well as one almost unstoppable gnoll).

All in all a great week!

I played #Carpe Diem - Stefen Feld (#The Castles of Burgundy, #Bora Bora #Notre Dame) has done it again. Love his way of making a simple game and then cramming soooo many well-balanced options within it that it becomes this incredibly robust and big thing. That is the case here, draft tiles into a personal tableu placing them with #Carcassonne rules and then score tons of different types of points based on set collection and how your tiles interact of your bustling Roman town.

I played #Gridopolis - a 3D Strategy Game and System and I really want every 6 - 8 year old kid to check this out. It can be for anyone but has special educational goodness that young kids are going to get a lot out of. It is 3D chess meets legos with lots of bells and twists. The main issue is that the lego part is mainly in the setup (base board is around 100 pieces) which takes a while to get playing if you are in a hurry to get to that step.

went back to some classics with #Sushi Go Party! #7 Wonders and #Carcassonne

Oh boy! I'm a big Knizia fan  - we held a Kniziathon at our local gaming group, and we usually do an all-Knizia night around his birthday. :)

ALL-TIME GREATS (and I mean all-time great games by anyone, not just Knizia)

#Ra - Such a tense game that combines auctions, press-your-luck, and set collection. And you get to yell "RA!" :)

#High Society - An auction game with some similarities to Ra, but nastier. The "poorest person loses" rule and the reverse auctions for bad items are just so mean!

KNIZIA CLASSICS

#Through the Desert - An area-control abstract that puts a lot of balls in the air - reaching oases, fencing off areas, putting out the most camels in a color. And it's very pretty!

#Taj Mahal - Very interesting hand-management game in which you are trying to build the best hand to win auctions. Feels like Euro Poker.

#Lost Cities Board Game  - Multiplayer #Lost Cities with racing on a variable-setup board. Play with the #Keltis rules!

#The Lord of the Rings - Seminal co-op that manages to achieve the feeling of a fellowship with a minimum of rules and chrome.

DEEP CUTS

#Merchants of Amsterdam - Another Knizia auction/area control game - but with a Dutch Auction clock!

#Clash of the Gladiators - Possibly the most un-Knizialike game on the list... Dice rolling! Player elimination! Draft teams of gladiators and pit them against each other. If your gladiators die, you get to control the lions. :D

READING LIST

#Blazing Aces! A Fistful of Family Card Games , #Dice Games Properly Explained, #New Tactical Games with Dice and Cards - In addition to designing hundreds of board games, The Doctor has also written books about board games. All three of these are full of interesting insights into game design from a master - and they have games in them, too!

These would be my picks…

Scott Almes: I have played a few of his Tiny Epic Games, but I would have to go with #Claim. This trick-taker keeps the player on their toes due to each suit (race) having a different ability. With each expansion/standalone the variety and replay ability increases.

Ted Alspach: I would go with #Castles of Mad King Ludwig (#Suburbia is second for me). Nothing like bidding on the next crazy addition of this work in progress castle. I’m sure I am not alone when I say I can’t wait for a deluxe version of this.

Antoine Bauza: #Ghost Stories. My favorite co-op. Love the theme and its brutal difficulty. Damn those hopping vampires.

Bernd Brunnhofer: probably best known for #Stone Age, but for my pick I would have to go with the engine/tableau builder #St. Petersburg. The last time this was reprinted by ZMAN which added some extras (like the market), but I would have loved to have picked up the older version with the artwork that was closer ascetically to the time period when the game was set.

Richard Borg: Honestly, I haven’t played many from Borg. I owned and played the rummy variant #Wyatt Earp and #Thunder & Lightning. I no longer own either.

Inka & Markus Brand: Lots of admiration goes to this power couple. For my money, #Village is their best. What other game allows you to kill off your workers? People say Euros are not thematic, I say check out Village.

Tony Boydell: #Snowdonia hands down. It is one of the few games where the dummy player is not limited to two players. Plus the weather mechanic is nifty. I admit I wanted to like #Guilds of London, but the iconography made it a bear to learn and teach.

Richard Breese: Can’t think of a standout here.

Bruno Cathala: Strangely I feel that this designer does his best work with others. For my pick it would have to be #Abyss which was co-designed with Charles Chevallier. Aside from the artwork, the game does have a lot of neat mechanisms attached to it (press your luck, hand management, and set collection). I will say the game needs the #Abyss: Leviathan to cover what I feel is its weakest points (monster track).

Matthias Cramer: #Rococo which Kind of cheating because it was a co-design with Stephan and Louis Malz. Deckbuilding with area majority. My masculinity is not threatened by dress making. I kinda of regret getting rid of my first printing, but grad school is expensive and I have kids to feed. I did pick up the deluxe version.

Carl Chudyk: I feel like every one of his designs attempts to be like #Glory To Rome. Glory to Rome was the first game after playing CCG/TCG that got me hooked. Every card in this game seems overpowered and the lead follow mechanism is brilliant.

John Clowdus: Known for his small card games, which often seem a bit too similar in my opinion. I will have pick #Omen: A Reign of War. Game is a tug of war race that feels close to a CCG/TCG.

John D. Clair: I’ve played two of his designs: #Mystic Vale and #Space Base. I played a lot of vale via app. I did think it was a gimmicky deck builder at first (card crafting), but the press your luck aspect of corruption is quite fun. I will say that Space Base fixes what I hated about Machi Koro.

Rüdiger Dorn: #Istanbul (not Constantinople). Pick up and deliver mixed with wheelbarrow racing. Favorite aspect is the family member that is constantly incarcerated.

Stefan Dorra: Probably best known #For Sale. For my pick I’ll go with the abstract #Medina (second edition). Basically the most interesting thing about this is how each player plays a game of chicken regarding claiming parts of the city.

Phil Eklund: Haven’t played a ton from him, but I do like #Pax Porfiriana. The Eklunds have a knack for building games that can make a historian swoon.

Steve Finn: King of the fillers. #Biblios is my favorite here. Mix drafting and an auction and you get this game. Will note that is the first game I played with my (now) wife before we started going out. This game also made me realize that I am terrible at teaching rules.

Stephan Feld: I am a stickler for multi-use card games like #Bruges, but for this I have to go with #The Castles of Burgundy. Probably my favorite dice placement game and the very definition of point salad. Genius of how every aspect is so integrated.

Friedemann Friese: To be honest, I was not a huge fan of #Power Grid. Maybe because I was tired the first time I played it, maybe it was the people I played with. Played #Friday quite a bit. Honestly, I don’t think I ever won a game.

Jacob Fryxelius: n/a

Mac Gerdts: #Concordia. Honestly when this pandemic is over with I can’t wait to play this and Ra.

Hisashi Hayashi: Only played a few, but will have to say #Yokohama is our favorite. It is kinda like worker placement mixed with a mancala.

Steve Jackson: #Munchkin. I haven’t played a game of it in years, but I will say that #Munchkin Cthulhu is the best because of its alternate win/end condition. Game does have the tendency to go on like a bad rash.

Wolfgang Kramer: #El Grande. Pound for pound the best area control game. Needs 4 people to be playable.

Reiner Knizia: #Ra. Such a clever auction game with press your luck and set collection. This is a hard one for me as Knizia has a bunch of great designs.

Michael Kiesling: One of my grail games is #The Palaces of Carrara btw. I haven’t played #Azul enough, so my pick would be #Vikings. Haven’t played it in a bit, but how the auction wheel will move as tiles/Vikings are bought.

Richard Launius: I’ve played #Elder Sign a lot, but nothing else from him. Part of the appeal is the Lovecraftian lore (I am from RI after all). Co-op #Yahtzee is what this is. Game does need either the omen expansions like #Elder Sign: Omens of the Pharaoh Expansion or the #Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham Expansion to shine. Probably the only games we house rule as well. Game is technically over when all of the investigators die. Yeah, not doing that…

Scott Lang: Haven’t played enough to pick here.

Vital Lacerda: I own #Vinhos Deluxe, but have yet to play it. Mainly bought one of his titles due to Portuguese pride to be honest.

Daniele Tascini & Simone Luciani: #Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar. I was ready to chalk up the gears as a gimmick, but they are really an ingenious way to plan when and what a worker will get.

Thomas Lehmann: Much like Chudyk, I feel like most of his games are tableau builders like #Race for the Galaxy. I will say that this game works best with 2 and requires a bit of a commitment to get good at (I’ve played this over a 1000 times and I still suck at it). Common complaint about this one is its iconography.

Paulo Mori: #Via Magica/ #Rise of Augustus. Bingo with a little extras. First game I was able to play with our 2.5 year old.

Corné van Moorsel: Will have to go with #Habitats. Probably his best known title to begin with. Honestly it is an easy tile laying game that requires a little planning. Who does like building their very own ecosystem? Also. If you have the 1st printing, you have those cute handmade ceramic animals as well… or you can do what I did and buy some Red Rose Tea figurines.

Shem Phillips: I own #Raiders of Scythia, but haven’t played it yet. Can’t pick a favorite here.

Alexander Pfister: #Port Royal since I haven’t played #Great Western Trail trail yet. Port Royal is a simple card game with press your luck.

Uwe Rosenberg: Hard choice here as well. #At the Gates of Loyang followed by #Caverna: The Cave Farmers / #Agricola (Revised Edition).

Vladimír Suchý: What I love about this designer is that he rarely designs expansions. I haven’t played #Underwater Cities enough to say that it is his best. I have played #Last Will will a few times and will say that the theme and gameplay are unlike anything else. The entire premise is to blow all of your money to win and the ways that you can part with that cash is outlandish.

Andreas Schmidt: Own #Heaven & Ale, but haven’t played it yet aside from solo. N/A

Reiner Stockhausen: #Orléans. Not sure if this was the first “bag builder”. Orleans is kinda point salad. Probably favorite aspect of this is the travel aspect that reminds me of another favorite, #Village. One expansion can also make this a solo or co-op game as well.

Jamey Stegmaier: #Viticulture: Essential Edition w/  #Tuscany: Essential Edition. Very simple and streamlined worker placement. I used to help my grandpa (Avo) make wine so this always reminds me of him and that time. Lovely production quality.

Ignacy Trzewiczek: I would pick the #51st State: Master Set over #Imperial Settlers. They are similar, mainly because both were modeled after the original #51st State. I think where state has the edge is how the game will end at a set point value. Almost every game of Settlers ends with a blowout and has a set amount of turns.

Justin De Witt: The only game I really played from him is #Castle Panic. The game is akin to those tower defensive games. Simple co-op that is a great entry point into the genre. The game does feel like the #Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower expansion should have been included from the start. Was curious about the failed kickstarter that was going to be a deluxe version.

Martin Wallace: Only played a few from him, but I would pick #London Second Edition.

Cole Wehrle: N/a

#New York 1901 - A classic. I love that the action happens in a communal area instead of on a personal tableau area like other similar titles.

#Pusheen Purrfect Pick - adorable set collection game but not much to it. That is why I just made a post about a proposed expert version of the rules. Take a look and let me know your thoughts.

Played some #CuBirds which is a fun little set collection game new to BGA.

Finished off a long running game of #Clans of Caledonia on BGA with a bunch of the folks from on here: it's a beast of a euro. Lots of number crunching needed but a lot of fun and lots of ways to approach it.

 

1. Probably use it to get Scythe and an expansion or two. Then maybe Pandemic, Ticket to Ride and Dominion. They were my intros to the hobby and still seem to work well to introduce others to co-op, set collection and deck building.

2. Glory to Rome. Never played, just hear great things.

Lot's of plays last week!

#Archaeology: The New Expedition - Played this with my meetup group last Monday. Pretty simple set collection game that I would definitely play again!

#Just One - Another one with the meetup group. I've mentioned on here before that my mom basically ruined this game for me with all her blatant cheating lol. I will say I had a lot more fun playing it last week than I've had in the past.

#For Sale - Someone brought this to the group and it turned out that no one I was playing with except me had played so I had to teach. Once we got through a round, people started to understand the premise and we all enjoyed it quite a bit. I own this too and Sarah's always said she feels no need to have our own copy, and I'm starting to feel the same.

So just a quick note here for those paying attention to me lol. As predicted, I am out of my contest to not buy board games lol. 18 days in, a semi local no ship auction was brought to my attention and I managed to snag #Macao and #Bruges and #Via Appia for really great prices. Then, proving I am still frugal (I'm looking at you lol), I picked up a few more games with a bunch of gift cards (aka free lol) off Amazon. Anyways...one of those games was

#KLASK - Sarah has not stopped talking about this game since we played it on our last vacation. I simply had to pick it up. We've literally played it a dozen times since it arrived early last week. We need to take a break because Sarah's starting to find it not as fun, probably because I started watching videos of the world championships lol. Always have to ruin games for her somehow LOL

#Barrage - A friend of mine came over Saturday and I taught this to him. The first couple rounds, he really struggled scoring points, but ended up getting pretty close by the end. Also realized I cheated a little bit in my last game with Sarah, so I told her she didn't lose nearly as much as we though haha. My friend and I were definitely meaner to each other than Sarah and I are when we play, but it didn't affect my enjoyment. Still want to see how it goes with more than 2.

#Terraforming Mars - I had my friend bring this with him as my copy is packed up at my parents and I miss it haha. Really close game throughout, but I eeked out the win in the end. Without the #Terraforming Mars: Prelude expansion, it made for a much longer game than I'm used to, but Chipotle for lunch made up for it haha.

#Biblios - Played another game of this with Sarah as part of the 10 x 5. She ended up winning, which is for sure rare with this game. We had a fun time thanks in large part to Sarah speaking in a weird accent the whole game lol.

How about a geologist?  There could be some press-your-luck mechanics in searching for gems/rocks and a set collection aspect.  I could see an economic side too, you could sell gems to buy equipment to search more efficiently.

What's your interest level on Glory to Rome? Would you ever spend $250 for your "grail game"?

I would definitely dish out $250 for #Glory To Rome if I had that laying around, but I’d rather not sleep on the couch. Is the game worth it? One could argue that it is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. I do wish I had backed it originally, but I do feel that it will eventually be reprinted despite its complicated history. I have spent some money on some Kickstarter projects like #Tokaido Collector's Edition, but never on a single game without some extras. It is not lost on me that I’ve spent way more collectively on games like #Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game which brings to mind that marshmallow test by Mischel (2014).  Aside from Glory to Rome and #The Palaces of Carrara, I don’t think that there a many grail games that I want that won’t get reprinted. I had my eye on #City of Chaos, but it looks like a second edition will be on Kickstarter some point next year as will #ZhanGuo.

Which game did you enjoy playing the most this year and why?

This year was a little odd for me as I did not have a lot of extra time to play as much. I would honestly say Covid minimally impacted that fact. I will say playing simplified versions of games with our youngest was one highlight. The better half and I did manage to get #Rajas of the Ganges to the table at some point. I feel like the game is a bit open with two and we would be interested in playing with higher player counts. I do think it is neat that the end game is the same for everyone, but how a player arrives to the end is varied.

As we end 2020, what are your current Top 5 games and why?

I feel like I keep bringing up the same games. I am terrible at ranking so I’m just going to throw my picks out there:

#El Grande: I don’t think I would ever turn a game of this down (unless it includes the expansions and or has less than 4 players). This has a little of everything, hidden information, area control, and action selection. Game is still as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1995. I do wish that just the base game would get reprinted as the current big box is a waste of space. I am not so hung up on the mini meeples vs cube debate.

#Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game: Probably my most played game at this point. I have most of the expansions aside from the Spider-man homecoming and the villains’ standalone. I was a big marvel fan growing up and this game is able to conjure up comic scenarios. It is deckbuilding a team rather than playing as a single hero which I do not mind. With all of the current expansions, the game is infinitely repayable. Downside is that it is difficult to store of the cards at this point. While it is listed as a semi-co-op, we strictly play it as co-op because some of the schemes and mastermind combos are taxing that not working together makes the game much harder than it needs to be. I also won’t play this with more than two because the difficulty does not scale well with more people.

#Ra: My favorite Kniza design. I normally don’t like auction games, but this one is so elegant and streamlined how could I not like it. The game also has that press your luck and set collection element along with the calamities to keep everyone on their toes. Everyone needs to try this one at least once.

#The Castles of Burgundy: This is another one of those games where I dislike it with more than two. This is an example of where the quality of the game does not match its components. Dice placement at its finest. Game is flexible and it mixes strategy and tactics well. There is one sure path to victory here which makes it difficult to solve.

#Seasons: Game plays like a TCG/CCG so it scratches that itch for me. Does have a bit of a learning curve as figuring out which cards to draft together is paramount to success. Wish they would make at least one more expansion.

Thanks for the review! Very cute set collection game. So many butterfly themed games are coming out lately - I can't keep up!

     I think it is a mechanic, but a mechanic made up of other mechanics. Here is why I believe this. Can something (engine building) that is constructed entirely from a single building block (mechanics) not in itself be a mechanic. Another way to look at this is that most gamers would consider "card play" as a mechanic. To get to the mechanic of card play, a player has to obtain these cards. Gaining cards through mechanics such as drafting, auction, or bidding, is what builds a player's hand. These initial mechanics are necessary to get to the secondary mechanic.

     In engine building, all engines consist of things gained through using mechanics. Gamers after they build their engine talk about "running" their engine. Running the engine needs the components to have it run. I equate the process of running the engine, a mechanic that is in the game but needs construction through other mechanics. This running of the engine can itself lead to more mechanics such as set collection, or worker placement (your engine allows you to generate more of these).

     If my first statement holds, then engine building is, in my opinion, a mechanic. It could be that we need to consider it as a secondary mechanic and begin to think of mechanics on a deeper level as games get more and more complex, and as designers find new and exciting ways to make games better.