December! My top 100 Favourite Games again. Once a week, one set of ten games, until the week before Christmas. It’s like a gaming advent calendar. A countdown to the happiest time of the year. Fa la la la la, la la la la. Here’s number 40 to 31.
40: Akrotiri (-8)
Akrotiri is a wonderful two-player game with an ancient Greek theme. It’s a pick up and deliver game where you need to transport cubes from Greek island to the central island where it all begins. The islands are not there at the beginning. You create them by placing tiles. On every tile you’ll find an icon. These icons are needed when you want to complete one of the most important goals of the game; finding lost temples. You can buy maps that show you where you can find these temples. It tells you that a temple is located on an island with two green icons above, a blue to the left and one red icon below, for instance. You just have to find an island that fits that description. This is a really thinky game, but that’s what makes this game great as well.
39: La Isla (new)
La Isla is a game designed by Stefan Feld. It’s one of his lighter ones, but that it’s light doesn’t mean it’s bad or that you don’t have to make important decisions. In this game you are explorers and you have to collect rare animals on an island. You do that by surrounding these animal tokens with your plastic explorers. Two fun thing about this game is that every round you have to assign cards to different slots. Every slot belongs to an action and the cards tells you what you can do during that action phase. Very interesting. The other thing that I like a lot is that you have to manipulate the animal market yourself. You have to collect these animals and they are worth points, but how much points you have to decide yourself.
38: Five Tribes (-19)
This is a great game. Obviously, it’s in my top 100. It was Days of Wonders’ first venture in somewhat heavier games. It was an immediate success. There’s a big grid of tiles. On all tiles you find meeples in different colours. Different colour meeples correspond with different actions. It works like this. You pick up all the meeples from a tile and move over the grid, dropping one meeple every time you pass a tile. You can execute the action of the last meeple in your hand, plus the action of the tile you place it on. You can claim tiles, you can get the help of several spirits, you have to bid for player order and to think about with which set of meeples on a tile you can do what you want is really fun.
37: Samurai (new)
This is another Knizia that I like a lot. You have to collect three different types of resources. These resources are spread over the islands of Japan. You collect them by surrounding them with tiles. Every player has tiles with numbers ranging from one to four and when a resource is totally surrounded you check who has the majority, the highest combined value of the tiles surrounding that resource. You also have tiles that mess a bit with the order of the tiles on the board. That’s the game. Simple, but fun. One of the most fun, or interesting, things about this game is the end-game scoring. You have to have a majority of at least one resource, or otherwise you cannot win at all. If you have the most in two resource categories you win, instantly. If multiple people have a majority in one kind you all count the resources where you don’t have a majority and who has the most of those wins the game.
36: Alien Frontiers (-32)
This one is in free-fall. In my mind that is. I really liked it. I played it as a four player and three player game. I bought my own copy, because, well, I liked it. Recently I played it with my girlfriend, just to show what a great game it was, but the game was terrible with two and it left such a bad taste in my mouth that it dropped thirty-two places. I have to play it with four player again, I think. Only then, hopefully, it will be that sweet game again.
35: Alchemists (-32)
I was very excited about this game when I got it, and don’t worry it is a lot of fun. However, as you can see, it dropped from 3 to 35. Why? Every game started feeling a bit like the other. The first games were incredibly fun, but the shine whore off, the deduction mechanism with the app on your phone was not as exciting as before. I still like the game. I like it enough to be in the top forty, but I do not consider it my third favourite game of all time any more.
34: La Granja (new)
The Stefan Feld game that wasn’t designed by Stefan Feld.
OK, now I’m giving the credits to the wrong people. The game is designed by Michael Keller and Andreas Odendahl. It’s a great one. It has a nice dice selection mechanism. It has cards that can be used for multiple purposes. You can use them to produce resources, for their special ability, to get more cards or money, or to transport goods to the village. It also has a nice points system on the board. It’s a perfect fit for me with its multi-purpose cards. A lovely game.
33: Medieval Academy (new)
You may notice that I enjoy drafting games a lot. It’s a mechanism that is present in many games that I like. Medieval Academy is a family style drafting game. A pure one. Nothing more, just drafting. You got several small, different coloured, boards with tracks on them. Some board score every round, some every other round and some at the end of the game. The basic boards have simple scoring conditions, like being the farthest on a track, but on the back of every board you find other slightly more complicated, or just different ones. How do you move your disk along the tracks. Well, by drafting numbered cards with colours that correspond with the different boards. You can move your disk as many spots as the value of the card. It’s a really simple game, but I like it a lot. A perfect family game.
32: Karuba (new)
Another very good family game is Karuba. It’s a game where you as explorers need to find a way through the jungle. Your goal is to get to the treasures inside hidden temples. You might even find other treasures along the way. The game goes as follows. One player draws a tile and calls out its number. All players draw the same tile and place it on their player board. On a tile you find a road. By placing these tiles you create a path to the temples. You do have to move along these paths with your explorer meeples. You do that by discarding a tile you have drawn. You can take as many steps as the amount of roads that exit the tile you discarded.
I like Karuba a lot. You can easily explain it. Everybody has to place the same tiles at the same time, but they choose where they put them themselves. You can exactly see what the other players are doing and that makes racing towards the temples even more fun.
31: ZhanGuo (+6)
The last game of the top thirty is a heavy one. It’s ZhanGuo. This is a very good Euro game. There are 120 numbered cards in three different colours. These cards also have an ability. You can use these cards for their ability and place them underneath your player board, or you can play these card on the discard pile to execute an action and maybe even trigger the abilities of the cards underneath your player board if your discard a card with the right value. Bonus correspond with the basic actions you do. So you can create a real nice action engine this way, where you get a lot of extra stuff when you execute an action. You have to manipulate cubes on your placer board, build walls, send governors into the provinces of China or build palaces. There’s a lot going on ands loads of things to think about. A real strategic Euro game, one of the best in my collection. Love it.