You are leading a merchant and four assistants through the 16 Places of the bazaar. At each Place, you can carry out a specific action. The challenge is that, to carry out an action at any of those Places, your merchant needs the help of an assistant and has to leave him behind. To use that assistant again later, your merchant has to come back to that Place and pick him up. So plan ahead carefully to avoid being left with no assistants and thus unable to do anything...
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Is it a short list because I am awesome at games or just dislike any game I lose? Who knows!
5) #Istanbul - I really enjoyed the couple of times I have played this game, it is a really clever mechanic, however, I think both times I have tried to play too 'neatly'. I try to make everything add up nicely and be efficient, which unfortunately means I haven't been flexible enough to grab the opportunites that the board presents or the limitations other player create. As such, while what I collect is usually pretty efficient, other players have rushed to victory while I am still busy constructing my grand plan
4) #Flick Em Up! - I only played this once, and while I had an absolute blast I was hilariously terrible, my bullets just couldn't hit and I mostly just ran into things. However, when i played #Catacombs 3rd Edition not too long ago, I was considerably more successful so hopefully if I come across those dexterous cowboys again I might fair better.
3) #Colt Express - Not sure what went wrong with this game, but I ended up broke and full of bullets. That said I think it is a brilliant design and would happily sit down to get shot up any time. The turn-based action planning that everyone can see but struggles to remember is excellent, the slight asymmetry is great and the semi-coop aspect when the sheriff is involved as a whole new layer as you are basically trying to convince everyone else to deal with him while stealing all the money for yourself.
2) #Onitama - I so want to be good at this game, I think the mechanic of passing you movement card to your opponent after you use it is great as it gives you (theoretical) a lot of control over how they play. However, my brain just can't hold enough of the variables in it to plan more than one or two turns ahead so inevitably I do something very dumb but only realise after it is far too late.
1) #Perudo - Another mystery, I have played this game so many times as it is one we often broke out at university and I think I have probably only won it once or twice at most. Calculating the odds is no problem for me and usually I am pretty good at bluffing games but for some reason I tend to crash out hard and early in this game. Still it is a elegantly simple game, that is easy to transport and is pub safe as the components can be washed easily.
One of the hottest topics in the upcoming months will be the Spiel des Jahres 2020. If you're not familiar with this, here's an excellent article by user Isaiah Kim that will quickly get you up to date.
Widely regarded as the most prestigious award in the board game industry, this annual German award actually encompasses three separate categories:
- Spiel des Jahres: "Family-style" Game of the Year
- Kennerspiel des Jahres: Connoisseur-Enthusiast Game of the Year
- Kinderspiel des Jahres: Children's Game of the Year
The nominees for each of these categories are typically announced in May. And soon enough, you'll notice discussion threads popping up all over the various online board game communities, covering topics such as speculations of the nominees, predictions on which games will win it all, and possibly some complaints voiced here and there.
But in the end, the significance of this award is not just in the prestige. It's one of the major drivers in a game's number of sales, and a nomination alone can boost sales from a typical 500-3000 copies to 10,000 copies. A winner can even expect additional sales in the 100,000's.
With this in mind, here's a look at the Spiel's impact on the amount of exposure to its associated games. My method is identical to the one I used in my article A Look at the History of Shut Up & Sit Down's Impact on Board Game Trends, where I compared the number of views on a game page a week before vs. a week after SU&SD's review, and presented the % increase in traffic after looking into their 100+ reviews. (Note: I will only cover the winners starting from year 2014, as our database can't go as far back. I'm also leaving out Kinderspiel des Jahres, as I found it more difficult to see a significant impact on traffic to the game pages).
SDJ Winner - Camel Up (+640%)
Chaotic camel racing game where the players aren't the camels, but are the bidders in the race. On top of the camels' bizarre tendency to carry each other on their backs when they land on the same space, each player has a stake in the race and will do their best to intervene with the outcome. In the words of user nealkfrank, the ending of this game is like "Mario Kart of the board gaming world" in its unpredictability till its last moment. And the 2nd edition from Eggertspiele only adds onto this chaos by introducing "crazy camels" that run backward.
Rank: (2nd edition) #93 Family on BGG
KDJ Winner - Istanbul (+82%)
In Istanbul, players are merchants weaving around the alleys of the bazaar collecting rubies by delivering as many goods with their assistants. It will test your ability to efficiently manage your assistants to do your bidding while you go off to take care of bigger items. Of the games listed in this article, it has the highest complexity rating on BGG (2.59).
If you've never tried, you can find the digital adaptation on numerous platforms including iOS, Android, Steam, and even the Nintendo Switch.
Rank: #90 Strategy and #105 Overall on BGG
SDJ Winner - Colt Express (+1020%)
In Colt Express, players are bandits competing to become the richest outlaw in the Old West. All players are on a 3-D train and start out the Schemin' phase by "programming" a number of actions they will take for the round. Once the Stealin' phase commences, you can sit back and watch how everyone's best laid plans are soon foiled as the silly antics take place.
Rank: #81 Family on BGG
KDJ Winner - Broom Service (+300%)
As witches, players manage a handful of cards to gather potions and deliver them throughout the magical realm.
Rank: #91 Family, #290 Strategy, #459 Overall
SDJ Winner - Codenames (+29%)
This is a competitive word game where two opposing teams compete to get in contact with all of their secret agents first by discovering their codenames. Each team has an assigned Spymaster who possesses a key card that reveals the location of all of the team's agents, and he/she must give a one word clue to help the team discover their agents. Take a risk by offering a clue that will point to as many of the secret agents, but you may unintentionally alert the assassin instead.
Undoubtedly the most commercially successful game in this list, the simplicity of Codenames' formula has produced 10 different sequels and variations over the years, featuring themes such as Harry Potter, Disney, Marvel, and others.
Rank: #2 Party and #75 Overall on BGG
KDJ Winner - Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King (+196%)
As chieftains of famous clans, players compete to build the best kingdom by laying tiles of different terrains.
Rank: #23 Family, #138 Strategy, and #177 Overall on BGG
SDJ Winner - Kingdomino (+180%)
In Kingdomino, players compete as lords trying to acquire the best plot of land/terrain to expand their kingdom. Each additional land is represented by domino-like tiles with two sections, which can be added onto the kingdom by laying the tile so that at least one of the sections is adjacent to an existing, matching terrain. Players can't expand past a size of a 5x5 grid. Quick, simple, but satisfying puzzle game for the family with expansions and variants to increase difficulty and complexity.
Rank: #33 Family and #211 Overall
KDJ Winner - Exit: The Game (+167%)
Escape room experience in a box. Players work cooperatively to solve numerous puzzles by gathering different clues and objects. The award was given to three different Exit games at the time.
Rank: #19 Family, #42 Thematic, #195 Overall on BGG
SDJ Winner - Azul (+168%)
In Azul, players are tile-laying artists who draft various colored tiles from a shared supply to decorate their walls. Grab as many tiles as possible to make the best patterns and combos, but take too much and you will pay a heavy price for any wasted tiles.
Like many other Spiel des Jahres winners, Azul is a family classic with great staying power. It may not be for everyone though, because it does invite some potential for mean plays. And lastly, the starburst-like tiles provide some of the best tactile experiences you'll find in board games.
Rank: #1 Abstract, #2 Family, and #42 Overall on BGG
KDJ Winner - The Quacks of Quedlinburg (+2391%)
In Quacks, each player takes on the role of a charlatan trying to make money by selling off your other worldly potions. Players will simultaneously draw one ingredient from their bag and throw it into the their own pot, and the more ingredients you manage to fit into your cauldron, the higher its value. Be careful though, because if you draw one too many cherry bombs, your pot will explode and set you back for the round. Will you take the risk and keep brewing your mixture to experience the thrill of drawing those perfect ingredients? or bust and have less money to spend on quality ingredients to help your next batch?
This game introduced me to the bag-building mechanic and I immediately fell in love. It's a nice balance that satisfies the thrill seekers and those who love engine-building. This one was almost completely off the map on our 2018 google analytics until the Spiel announcement.
Rank: #7 Family and #83 Overall on BGG
SDJ Winner - Just One (+259%)
Just One is a cooperative word game where you and your team will take turns to help each other guess 13 different words. The catch is that the guesser will only have unique clues to go by, so before the big reveal of the clues, the teammates have to throw out all identical ones. So if the word is "Alcatraz" and the clues were "SF," "island," "prison," and "SF," you will have to guess the word based on the remaining clues "island" and "prison". That's on the tame side though—would you be able to guess "Mario" based on "red" after the clue "plumber" is thrown out?
I love the simplicity of Just One, and like many other word games, it immediately gets everyone trying to read each others' minds and anticipate their every move. And with only 13 word cards for the round, your group will likely want to go for another round right away to challenge your high score.
It's a great sign for success if it continues to sell out every time it comes back on the shelf at Target.
Rank: #3 Party and #182 Overall on BGG
KDJ Winner - Wingspan (+43%)
Wingspan was the talk of 2019. Contrary to its charming and harmless theme, it was a subject of extreme controversy but also adoration, and perhaps the most influential board game of 2019 in its ability to draw in an entirely new group of people into the hobby. It was featured across numerous non-board game media and sparked the interest of those in the sectors of science, nature studies, bird enthusiasts, and more.
It's a brilliant package that gets the details just right. It may not be the best game, or the most innovative, but Wingspan is proof that attention to the small details go a long way. Plus, it comes with a great story of Elizabeth Hargrave and her advocacy for more female presence in the industry, as well as the friendship of the two international artists who have known each other since school years.
Rank: #1 Family, #22 Strategy, and #20 Overall on BGG
Kind of the opposite of my previous list. While I am generally excited to play any game these are games that didn't capture my imagination or sound too good on paper to me but I eneded up enjoying a whole lot:
5) #Istanbul - I had heard plenty about Istanbul before I played it, overwhelmingly positive, but the themeing and mechanisms didn't particularly appeal to me so I never sought it out. Anyway, one day it came out as the least unappealing option at my Board game club so I hopped on that table. It was pretty great, I got a lot more into it than I might have expected, trying to map out routes and predict where you opponents might go was a bunch of fun. The occaisional dice rolls added tension and it was just good fun. As mentioned in a previous list, I did not do well at this game but still enjoyed myself. While it won't be making any it onto a favourites list, it is well worth checking out
4) #Century: Golem Edition - I had no clue about this game before someone pulled it out at the end of a night of gaming, but buying golems with gems didn't peak my interest all too much. While the art work looked great I wasn't exactly enthusiastic (may have also been because I was a little tired). Anyway, this game is an excellent little engine builder that plays in 30-45 minutes, the mixture of hand management and racing other players to get the requirements for various golems was a bunch of fun. Although I don't own it I would happily play it anytime.
3) #Magic Maze - So while I can't say I wasn't intrigued by this game, the themeing seemed very odd (dwarves and wizards in a mall?) and it seemed like it wouldn't be too in-depth. Now, it definitely isn't too in-depth but man is it intense! Trying to keep track of all four characters while also cooperating without talking, all with the added difficulty of a timer, just magical. Also, the passive aggression of slamming down the giant wooden marker to get someone to do something is brilliant. It is a brilliant filler game to freshen everyone up inbetween some heavier games, it is a game that gets better with more people and leads to all kinds of laughter after the game is done.
2) #Chrononauts - I couldn't imagine a game doing a good job of capturing time travel, especially not just with a couple of decks of cards. However, the mechanics of how things 'ripple' are very cool. It has a not insignificant luck factor to it, but if you are lucking for a 20 minute filler with a much more interesting premise and mechanics than you standard quick game then this might be worth looking at. You have to accept that you can't really be 'good' at this game but it does give you an opportunity to kill Hitler or save Lincoln so there could be worse things (there is also then the option for someone else to save hitler and kill Lincoln....so yeah) and I have found it to be generally good for a laugh or too. There is also a #Back to the Future: The Card Game version which uses the same system if you are into that theme.
1) #Coup - I'll admit I didn't think much as someone explained this game to me the first time, I went out early and so wasn't too interested in it. However, a few years later I played it again multiple times in a row and realised the wonderful magic this tiny box can create: it's like rock-paper-scissors but you can just say you 'for sure chose scissors' while hiding a rock behind your back. It is constantly pushing you to try to read your friends, the interplay bewtween the cards is great and it leads to a lot of really hilarious moments when you realise you've been bluffed out of victory. It plays quick and so plaer elimination doesn't matter. It is one of my favourite pub/picnic games
When you are purchasing a mosque do you need to spend all of the color to buy it?
[Flick Em Up!, Istanbul, Colt Express, Perudo, Onitama]
[Wingspan, Kingdomino, Codenames, The Quacks of Quedlinburg, Just One, Istanbul, Broom Service, Exit: The Abandoned Cabin, Colt Express, Azul, Exit: Th...]
[Coup, Century: Golem Edition, Chrononauts, Istanbul, Magic Maze]