It’s been a couple of weeks since I revealed a new set of games from my Top 99, but here we go with the next 11!
#66: Alien Frontiers (2010, Tory Niemann) is mostly famous for being the first real Kickstarter success story, but it’s a pretty good game too. It’s a worker placement game where you are rolling dice, then distributing them to various space stations. This could be done to acquire more ships, gain cards or resources, or to land colonies on the planet. The game is over when someone places their last ship, and the player who as accumulated the most points wins. The game has a very classic sci-fi look to it, and I enjoy it. I think the expansions add a lot to it, though the base game is still pretty good on its own.
#65: 1st & Goal (2011, Stephen Glenn) is everything a sports game should be. It’s a game of American football, where you are running plays, rolling dice, and trying to score on your opponent. It has a kind of rock-paper-scissors mechanism as each player chooses a card for their offense or defense, then compares them to see what dice are rolled. There are possible penalties, turnovers, and all the little things you expect to see in a football game without all the charts to shift through as you play. It’s very streamlined and fun, and I’d venture to say one of the best sports games ever.
#64: Hanabi (2010, Antoine Bauza) is a cooperative firework building game where players cannot see the cards they are holding. On your turn, you can either play a card to try to build a sequence of numbers, or you can discard a card to get a time token back, or you can spend a time token to give a hint to another player about what they are holding – number or color. You are very restricted as to what you can say, and often it’s what you don’t say that is the most important. It’s a really good game, and tough to excel at. I think my record is 19 out of 25 possible points scored.
#63: Trajan (2011, Stefan Feld) is a game set in ancient Rome that uses a mancala based action selection system. There are six possible actions – building, trading, taking tiles from the forum, using military, influencing the Senate, and placing Trajan tiles – and you are moving cubes from bowl to bowl in order to activate these actions. It has a lot of moving pieces, which is typical for Feld, and also has his patented pain mechanism – if you don’t have a required set of goods at the end of a round, you lose points. There are Feld titles I like more, some of which were not eligible for this list (only one play), but this one is definitely a good one.
#62: Mamma Mia! (1999, Uwe Rosenberg) is one of the games that convinced me I was wrong about the designer, who I had prejudged based on my dislike of Agricola. This is a light memory style game where players are taking turns putting ingredients in a central pile, as well as pizza orders. Once the draw pile is empty, the pile is revealed and ingredients are sorted. If an order comes up, the player who played it will either score the pizza or have to take it back. Ingredients disappear fast, and this is a very difficult game to master. But it’s an amazing filler game, one that I’d highly recommend.
#61: Dancing Eggs is a HABA game that was first published in 2003, designed by Roberto Fraga. It’s a very silly dexterity game where you roll a die to find out what task needs to be performed in order to claim an egg. This could be running around the table, clucking, bouncing an egg, or grabbing something. Once you claim an egg, you roll another die to see where you need to hold it – between your legs, under your chin, in your armpit, etc. When someone drops an egg, the person holding the most eggs wins. It’s very silly and very fun – this is a kid’s games that adults love as well.
#60: One of my first exposures to Euro-style war-games was Antike. Designed by Mac Gerdts and published in 2005, Antike uses the rondel system to eliminate luck from the game. You are playing a civilization that is trying to spread influence across Europe. You are trying to win different personalities – kings come for owning cities, scholars for technology, generals for destroying temples, citizens for owning temples, and navigators for having ships. You need a number of these (7-10) in order to win the game. The rondel allows you to choose your action, and was the first of its kind. It’s a great game, I need to play it again sometime.
#59: NOIR (2012, D. Brad Talton Jr) was initially my third favorite of the games in the Level 99 Minigame Library. Since playing the Black Box edition, it has become my favorite by a long shot. The Black Box edition has six game modes (the original had four), but the basic game involves a 5×5 grid of suspects. One player is the Killer, the other is the Inspector. The Killer is going around eliminating other characters, and the Inspector is trying to catch him. You can only attack or accuse adjacent suspects, so there is a lot of maneuvering around and deduction. It’s a very good game, and can be played with 2-9 players.
#58: Friday (2011, Friedemann Friese) is a solo deckbuilding adventure based on Robinson Crusoe. You begin the deck with a basic deck of cards, and each round must choose one of two hazards to fight. The hazard describes the maximum number of cards that can be drawn for free, and a fighting value that must be equaled or exceeded by cards in your deck. If you lose, you lose life points, but can also destroy bad cards. If you win, the hazard joins your deck as a fighting card. If you survive long enough, you end the game by fighting two pirates. Aging cards complicate the game, entering your deck every time your reshuffle. It’s a brilliant game, and I play it a lot.
#57: RoboRally (1994, Richard Garfield) is the game that gave birth to Magic: The Gathering (Wizards of the Coast wouldn’t publish it unless Garfield designed a TCG for them). In RoboRally, you control a robot and are trying to touch a number of flags in sequence. Each round, you program five moves in advance, then run the program and hope the other robots don’t completely screw your plans up (they will). There are lasers, conveyor belts, crushers, pits, and al kinds of craziness to keep you on your toes. It’s a fantastic game that I don’t play as much as I’d like to because it can get long.
#56: Kingsburg (2007, Andrea Chiarvesio/Luca Iennaco) is a dice allocation game that successfully melded a Eurogame with a fantasy theme. Each round, you will roll three dice, then take turns influence advisors for points, resources, soldiers, and other benefits. After each influence round, you can construct buildings for more advantages. At the end of each game year, a rampaging horde comes to take you out, and if your army is big enough, you’ll be able to gain a small reward. The player with the most points in the end wins. Kingsburg is a really great game with lovely art. I highly recommend it.
I’ll be picking up the pace with this list from here on out – my goal is to have it finished by the time we hit the blog’s anniversary on October 4. And by the way, you definitely want to read THAT post. Thanks for reading!