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Board Games by Shem Phillips

Shem Phillips founded Garphill Games in 2009 and has published a wide range of games since. He is most well known for his designs in the North Sea and West Kingdom Trilogies.

Architects of the West Kingdom board game
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Rank: 32
Trending: 189
Raiders of the North Sea board game
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Rank: 53
Trending: 176
Paladins of the West Kingdom board game
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Rank: 111
Trending: 163
Raiders of the North Sea: Hall of Heroes board game
Explorers of the North Sea board game
74
Rank: 703
Trending: 2073
Raiders of the North Sea: Fields of Fame board game
Shipwrights of the North Sea board game
Viscounts of the West Kingdom board game
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Rank: N/A
Trending: N/A
Raiders of Scythia board game
N/A
Rank: N/A
Trending: N/A
Noctiluca board game
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Rank: N/A
Trending: N/A
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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

Alright here goes nothing..for simplicity sake, I left off the one's I've played either no games from or games that I didn't particularly enjoy.

Ted Alspach - #Suburbia

Antoine Bauza - #7 Wonders Duel

Bernd Brunnhofer - #Stone Age

Bruno Cathala - #Kingdomino

John D. Clair - #Mystic Vale

Rüdiger Dorn - #Karuba

Steve Finn - #Biblios

Stephan Feld - #The Castles of Burgundy

Friedemann Friese - #Fabled Fruit

Jacob Fryxelius - #Terraforming Mars

Mac Gerdts - #Concordia

Reiner Knizia - #Lost Cities

Michael Kiesling - #Azul

Vital Lacerda - #The Gallerist

Thomas Lehmann - #Res Arcana

Paulo Mori - #Rise of Augustus

Shem Phillips - #Paladins of the West Kingdom

Alexander Pfister - #Port Royal

Uwe Rosenberg - #Patchwork

Vladimír Suchý - #Underwater Cities

Reiner Stockhausen - #Orléans or #Altiplano..can't decide

Daniele Tascini - #Teotihuacan: City of Gods

Ignacy Trzewiczek - #Imperial Settlers

 

After all that, I can safely say I don't particularly care about designers haha. I was surprised I knew a couple of them off the top of my head.

We played #Raiders of Scythia this week.  I never played raiders of the North Sea, but i really enjoyed this game.  I have played all the West Kingdom games (so far) and do enjoy Shem Phillips games quite a bit anyway, but this game is a little different than those.  Building your raiding party and gathering your resources all the while watching your opponents and trying to figure out where they may go so you can try to get there first becaue your crew gets bonuses for going there...fun.  Its a great combination of engine building and resource gathering but unlike other games where there's very little interaction, there are limited places to raid and within those limited worker types are needed so you have to plan ahead.  I'll need red in two turns but all that is available is grey and blue but it looks like player 2 has red so as long as player 3 doesn't grab it i should be able to get it...and then player 3 grabs it and you're like why did you take that you don't have enough resources to raid that spot only to realize she has a crewmate that reduces the cost of resources for raids...ugh!...but this is what makes the game great.  Alternatively you don't really have to play the rading game all that much as you can go down the Quest path and pick thise up and score huge points just as my wife did and came screaming from third place at the end of the game to be way out in front...she ended up coming in seocond by 5 points but still...just one more quest and she would have won...Hoping to play again tonight and try out some different strats...but overall I'd recoomend this.

I love the theme, art, and components. Being a big abstract fan, I really want to check this one out. Shem Phillips is killing it with games like this and everything he's doing with Garphill Games.

I think this was #1 on Jenny's best of 2019. It is a really good light-abstract. Plays best at 2 IMO, and has a brutal solo mode.

Shem Phillips is one of my favorite designers and he's reached insta-buy status.