The Holiday Haul

The holidays are usually a time when my collection explodes a little bit.  So here’s a list of what was just added to my collection:

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Arboretum (Dan Cassar, Renegade Games) first came out in 2015, and it’s been on my wish list ever since.  It’s also been perpetually out of print, so I finally got my own copy when Renegade reprinted it near the end of last year.  Basically, this is a game about trees.  Namely, you’re creating paths of trees in an attempt to score points.  It’s a pretty thinky game, especially for just being a card game, and has some beautiful art by Beth Sobel.  My first play didn’t go over too well – I think people weren’t expecting it to be as cutthroat as it is – but I liked it and am looking forward to giving it some more play time.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Azul (Michael Kiesling, Next Move Games) was my favorite new-to-me game from last year, and I finally got my own copy for Christmas.  If you don’t know it, the game is basically an abstract where you are drafting wall tiles and placing them in a mosaic to score lots of points.  The production is beautiful, the gameplay is smooth, and the whole experience is one that I fell in love with.  Very glad to have my own copy.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Century: Spice Road (Emerson Matsuuchi, Plan B Games) is the 2017 game I just reviewed in my previous post.  It’s an engine building game where you’re collecting spices, trading those spices in for other spices, and using those spices to score lots of points.  This was Plan B’s first big title, and they set a standard for great production with this one.  Plus, it’s a very good game.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Codenames (Vlaada Chvátil, Czech Games Edition) was the second Spiel des Jahres winner I got this year (after Azul).  This party game from my favorite designer came out in 2015 as basically a more gamer version of Password.  There’s a grid of 25 cards, and your team has to figure out your agents from clues given by one person.  The clues are a single word and a number.  The game has been very popular since its release, and I can’t believe it took me this long to get my own copy.  I’m still unsure if I want anything to do with any of the other versions (Disney, Marvel, etc).

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Escape: Zombie City (Kristian Amundsen Østby, Queen Games) is quite honestly a game that was not even on my radar.  I mean, it’s a zombie game, for goodness’ sake.  But then I was in a Goodwill and saw it for $4.  The box was damaged, but the pieces were mostly there and unpunched.  The only thing missing was the CD soundtrack (though the sleeve was there), and that’s on YouTube anyway.  I liked the original Escape game, so this seemed like too good of a deal to pass up.  So far, I like it.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Gizmos (Phil Walker-Harding, CMON) is one of the latest entries into the engine building genre, this time with marbles.  On your turn, you basically archive a card, pick a marble, build a card, or research.  Each card you build gives you more things to do, and you can get some good chain reactions going.  It’s a lot of fun, with cool marbles – I haven’t played Potion Explosion, but I understand the marbles are the same for that, though gameplay is different.  This is a good one.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

NMBR 9 (Peter Wichmann, Z-Man Games) is a multiplayer solitaire game where players are trying to place tiles in order to score the most points.  The tiles are numbered 0-9, and are all in the shape of their number.  Tiles that are on table level (Level 0) score nothing.  As you  build up, however, you start to score points by multiplying the numbers by the level.  It’s really about finding the best spot.  As I said, it’s multiplayer solitaire, and players can just see who does the best with what they have.  It’s a good puzzle challenge.

image by BGG user Kermit2005

Raptor (Bruno Cathala/Bruno Faidutti, Matagot) is a two-player only game from 2015.  One player controls the scientists who are coming into the velociraptor’s territory and trying to study them.  The other player controls the mama raptor and her babies, trying to protect themselves.  I haven’t gotten to play this yet – I did run through a game on my own, but I need to play with someone else.  I like the mechanisms, but to be honest, I think the scientists are really jets here.  I mean, they’re trying to capture the mama raptor’s babies, and have the ability to set fire to the forest just to slow her down.  I have no sympathy for them getting eaten.

image by BGG user pjojo

Topiary (Danny Devine, Renegade Games) is a kind of abstract tile placement game where you’re trying to set up hedges so that you have the best view.  Players take turns placing pieces outside the garden and placing hedges, and in the end will score for the hedges they can see (i.e. that are not blocked by higher hedges).  It’s a very nice game with a lot of challenge to it.

image by BGG user Mr Poulpe

Via Nebula (Martin Wallace, Space Cowboys) is a game that I demoed at Gen Con back in 2016 when it came out and really enjoyed then.  It’s essentially a train game without trains – you’re clearing fog to clear paths that you can move resources on, and using those resource to construct buildings.  It’s pretty light for a Wallace game, but has a very good presentation and a lot of strategy to build on.  I found my copy on the clearance shelf at one of my local game stores.  As I had enjoyed it so much in 2016, this was a no-brainer to get.


Lots of stuff to play, and hopefully you’ll be hearing more about these games as I play them and hopefully get some reviews up.  Thanks for reading!

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