50 Reviews Later …

Hi y’all,

I’ve crossed the milestone of 50 published reviews a couple of weeks ago. If you know my style of writing, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that this took me almost 2 1/2 years!

To celebrate, I thought it might be nice to do a “where are they now”. I always like this behind the scenes kind of stuff as it puts a different perspective on things, and that perspective is: you don’t need to buy lots of games to have a lot of fun. Keep in mind that for all the games I did write about, there’s probably 2-3 that didn’t even feel worth writing about before re-selling them.

1. Messina 1347(sold): I still enjoy playing Messina a lot. It’s a great game that does things differently, but space is limited and so I sold it to a good friend. Would always play again.
2. Maglev Metro(keeper): I honestly don’t know why this doesn’t get more to the table. I really, really enjoy it and even got the expansion for it, but only played one out of six maps so far. Still, it’s a keeper.
3. Now or Never(sold): I liked Now or Never, but it suffered for what I would later coin as “Woodcraft Syndrome”. Once I had cracked the efficiency puzzle, it lost a lot of its appeal, in particular because the variation brought in with each chapter turned out to be less fundamental than hoped. Still, had a good time with it and then sold it.
4. Red Rising(sold): I know it has its fans, but for me this felt broken and so I sold it after writing about it. Enjoyed reading the first book though. Man, compared to this, the Hunger Games were tame!
5. Concordia: Solitaria(keeper): I’m still very happy with what I wrote in my review. Solitaria is brilliant, it’s just missing a reason to get it out more (e.g. a story mode, some changing character traits). Whenever I do get it out, I have a great time. Definite keeper.

Concordia Solitaria
Concordia Solitaria

6. Cellulose: A Plant Cell Biology Game (sold): I remember how positively surprised I was with this one. It’s actually a very solid worker placement game. Shame the scenario expansion never came out in Europe, otherwise I would have likely kept the game. Liked it, it just got pushed out by better games.
7. Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers (TBD): One of the few co-op games I really like. It’s wacky, it’s crazy … and I rarely bring it out nowadays. I often wondered if I should sell it but it’s great to have for introducing new players to the hobby.
8. Furnace (sold): Boy, I do remember the hype around this when it came out. I did enjoy it, but ultimately it didn’t have enough staying power.
9. Obsession (sold): Speaking about hype, this time it was more justified. Still, the theme didn’t speak to me that much and the mechanisms weren’t for me. So I passed it on to someone else who was happy to find a copy.
10. Foundations of Rome (keeper): When I bought it, I would never have guessed I would still enjoy it that much 2 years down the line. It is easy to learn and play, but the overbuilding rules make this a knife fight in a phone booth. Always happy to play, despite the humongous box.

Foundations of Rome

11. Curious Cargo (keeper): It’s sad that nobody in my circle of friends likes this besides me. It has a really interesting meta game, but hardly anyone gets to that level before being trusted with the pipe-puzzling. Doubly sad because the expansion that seemed to be pretty much completely developed never saw the light of day. I’d buy it in a heartbeat.
12. Stars of Akarios (sold): Such an ambitious game, but the story was poorly written and the combat mechanisms fundamentally flawed. I really liked the visual aspects of it, but at some point, that wasn’t enough anymore.
13. Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Collector’s Edition (keeper): For me this is similar to Suburbia in that it rarely gets to the table but when it does, I always have a great time. Everybody I played it with had a good time and at least one person got their own copy.
14. Golem (sold): Interesting setting, but also suffered from Woodcraft Syndrome.
15. Carnegie (keeper): What a game! I also have fond memories of it because it was the one game that kicked off my interview series. Haven’t played it in a while, but I would never sell this.

Carnegie Timeline
Carnegie Timeline

16. Tranquility: The Ascent(keeper): Well, this one isn’t even officially out yet and was in Kickstarter limbo for a while. But I fashioned myself a custom print and play version and it’s awesome. I even added two more copies when Lucky Duck picked the game up. Can’t wait to have a physical copy.
17. Woodcraft(sold): Boy, did I have a lot of fun with this one! If you want a tight economy, go with Vladimir Suchy. At one point though, I felt I had seen it all and consistently scored very high, and that was the point where it lost most of its attraction. So in the end it got pushed out by other games, but always happy to play again.
18. John Company: Second Edition(keeper): One of the most impressive games I’ve played in the last 2 years. I mostly played this solo, but it hit me hard. Read two books on the topic, I even started designing my own custom 3D minis for it (still work in progress). I just wished I could convince Cole and Drew to let me interview them on this one.
19. Heat: Pedal to the Metal(keeper): This turned out to become the most popular review I would ever write. Still enjoy playing it very much despite it not getting to the table that regularly.
20. Encyclopedia(sold): I think this was my first serious crowd funding miss (Stars of Akarios I only bought second hand). It had such lovely graphics, but the gameplay left me lukewarm.

Encyclopedia board game kickstarter

21. Splendor Duel (keeper): Boy, another positive surprised. I already liked Splendor, but this seemed to improve on pretty much every front. I just wished the fan made solo mode would have been in the box!
22. Oros (sold): Another case of “why did I listen to those influencers?!?”. I really liked the artwork and premise, but the gameplay ultimately wasn’t quite there. It’s a bit sad to see that copies of this now get sold for just above 20€ on the second hand market. I think all it would have needed is a little tweaking to the tech tree and re-balancing of the fundamental mechanisms and this would have been awesome.
23. Tiletum (sold): I was quite surprised how popular this review got, it was back when BGG still had a review of the week. I liked the mechanisms a lot, but it just felt too clinical to me. I lately notice more and more how important it is for me to have some narrative that forms or memorable moments to emerge, and this didn’t have it for me.
24. On Tour (keeper): I rarely have the right group to play this, but I still like the mix of overconfidence followed by dreadful realisation that things aren’t as easy as they initially seemed to be. The only roll and write in my collection that stood the test of time so far.
25. Lands of Galzyr (sold): The best part of this game for me turned out to be that I’m now good friends with the person that sold me their copy. It was definitely cute and ambitious, but I like my stories to have more of an impact.

Lands of Galzyr Character Board
Character board

26. Shogun no Katana (sold): I love spatial puzzles, and on paper this could have become one of my favourite games. But the box caught me on the wrong foot by coming with cheap white cardboard placeholders for all the extras I didn’t buy and the gameplay lost all of its appeal for me once I had worked out how to score well. In the end it was another case of “what did other see in this? And why did I listen to them?”.
27. Tiwanaku (sold): I had good fun with this, but ultimately I had nobody to play this with.
28. Mosaic: A Story of Civilization (sold): Oh boy, this is one of those games where every couple of months I catch myself looking for a second hand copy despite knowing that I didn’t like the gameplay. It was very close to becoming my Terraforming Mars / Arc Nova, but multiple game elements just felt off. It sure does look pretty thought!
29. Horseless Carriage (keeper): This game single handedly started my interested in Splotter games. I had tried Food Chain Magnate before and it didn’t quite catch me, but then this came along. Still love it to bits, would never sell. I even recently designed some 3D printed overlays for it.
30. Paperback Adventures (sold): As a fan of Paperback, I knew I had to check this one out. It actually works surprisingly well, but after a couple dozens of plays, I just lost interested in it.

Paperback Adventures
Paperback Adventures

31. For Northwood! A Solo Trick-Taking Game (sold): very clever design, but I didn’t enjoy the artwork / theme and after some repeated plays, it just didn’t hold up for me.
32. Rolling Heights (keeper): I’m still surprised this turned out to be a keeper for me. The buildings are rather generic, the rolling of meeples rather a gimmick, but still … at the end of the day, there’s always room for a game that’s just silly fun. I wish there were an expansion or variant to spice it up some more.
33. Mr. President: The American Presidency, 2001-2020 (sold): I’m not afraid of heavy games, but this game is a beast! In the end, it just takes too much table space and too much time to complete plus I spend more time moving chits and checking reference sheets than actually playing it. Still … every couple of months I notice how I’m thinking of whether or not I should pick up a used copy and give it another shot. Strange how some games do that to you…
34. Barcelona (keeper): Well, it’s a rather generic Euro, but I still enjoy playing it and I’m looking forward to the soon to be release first expansion.
35. Sky Team (keeper): What a banger! Rarely have I spent 30€ that well. It’s unique, works well, lots of modules in the box, lovely theme.

Sky Team board game
Sky Team

36. Concordia: Roma / Sicilia(keeper): I really liked that this mixed up the normal Concordia formula in a couple of ways. Funny enough, I enjoy Sicilia more than the staring Roma side.
37. Evacuation(keeper): After binging it a lot and writing the review, I haven’t gotten this to the table much. But still very good game and has pushed UC from its throne as my favourite Suchy game. It’s one of those games though where I’m wondering if I’m having fun or just enjoy a good headache from time to time.
38. Votes for Women(sold): Loved the theme and got me to check out Shores of Tripoli as well. Ultimately though, it felt too same-y from game to game for me.
39. World Wonders(keeper): I think my review still holds up here. It’s fun, it’s good, but still it loses out against other games when it comes to the question of “what do we want to play”. It’s just missing something besides its presentation that really sets it apart from other games.
40. Voidfall(sold): I guess me and Mindclash just have too different tastes. With Voidfall, it just all felt like “too much”. Too many mechanism, too much setup, too much work for the fun I got out of it.

Voidfall board game

41. Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies (TBD): I think Distant Skies biggest flaw is that I love its predecessor so much. It streamline a lot of things, but lost a bit of its whimsy and sense of exploration. Quite naturally, there are those that enjoy this more serious version and those that rather enjoy the quirky original. It’s all a matter of taste.
42. I C E (sold): One of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played, but the gameplay just didn’t come together for me. A part of me misses owning it, but I know I wouldn’t play it, so oh well …
43. Halls of Hegra (sold): I’m still surprised how many people have put this on their top games list, but I guess it shows that different people have different sensibilities when it comes to that particular theme and the amount of randomness. I would quite like to see a game of a similar scope and size but with another theme and less dependence on drawing well.
44. Last Light (sold): I still have no idea why I even added the 5-8 player expansion to my pledge, I guess I got serious FOMO. It was fun, but I couldn’t justify the price or the storage space to myself.
45. Tokyo Highway (keeper): Very much looking forward to the new expansion getting fulfilled. It’s quirky, it’s fun, it has a totally unique design aesthetic.

Tokyo Highway boardgame

46. High Season: Grand Hotel Roll & Write (sold): I had demoed this at Essen where it had left everyone at the table cold. But still I wanted to give it another shot … and had the same reaction again. Shame, a roll and write version of GAH could have been great.
47. Redwood (keeper): Okay, this one is totally irrational and I don’t see myself playing this much in the future. But it’s just soooooo pretty, I had to keep it. In all seriousness, I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Again, lacks a bit the reason to bring it to the table.
48. Heat: Heavy Rain (keeper): I’m still fascinated by all the controversy around Heat and its expansion. The expansion wasn’t quite what I had hoped for, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. More Heat is always welcome …
49. Tranquility (keeper): I saw this in one of the early ThinkerThemer videos and am still grateful to them for it. I probably would have never picked this up otherwise, but still like it a lot.
50. Indonesia (keeper): I think the last time I was so blown away by a game was John Company 2nd Edition. It’s really, really good. The only sad part is I sold my 2nd edition copy when I pre-ordered the new Third Edition, and I’m missing it already. I guess tells you how good this game is!

Indonesia board game

As you can see, I’ve gotten pretty ruthless when it comes to selling games. I was recently wondering though: if my apartment burned down, which games would I actually re-buy? I’d immediately order a John Company 2nd Edition and Foundations of Rome, a Horseless Carriage and a Sky Team. But would I go out and buy a Barcelona? It’s a great game, but do I have to have it?

I’ve come to value games that have emerging narrative and create memorable moments, like that recent session of Antiquity where a friend pushed forced labour and fell over the lands like locusts on a feeding frenzy. Or that session of Tokyo Highway where I won because me and my opponent started laughing so hard that his hands began to shake and tear down the whole construct.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading the pieces I wrote and they might have helped you find games you love and avoid those you won’t. Here is to the next 50 reviews.



  1. Appreciate this. I am still struggling with this hobby. Maybe it’s just not for me. So far I’ve tried and sold Spirit Island, Carnegie, Tiletum, Arkham Horror Card Game, Wingspan, Furnace, and the latest disappointment Bitoku. While none of these, except Bitoku, felt like bad games, I never felt like playing them more after I had learnt and tried them a couple of times. It seems the process of grasping a game is much more interesting to me than actually playing the game afterwards.

    Games I do play repeatedly tend to be party games like Just One and Codenames. They are simple and yet have an endless creativity to me. Games I keep so far are 7 Wonders Duel and the White Castle. I guess I really do value a rather simple and elegant ruleset and a shortish play time that makes it worth it to me. I’m almost obsessed with finding a heavy game that I can play over and over, but I doubt I will find it. In the end, most of them feel like computational pastime devices to me, instead of games!

    Anyway, it’s refreshing to see that even a boardgame aficionado like you is not keeping much in the end! I guess that is what I like about your reviews, they seem as critical as me. Here’s to 50 more!

    • Thanks for the feedback Ivo! I have the feeling there is a general trend happening right now with more and more people looking for substance rather than quality or hotness. I recently got fascinated with games from Splotter Spellen because they seem to hit that mark: short-ish rules and I’m nowhere close to really being able to say I’m good at them. I’d recommend taking a look at Indonesia, Antiquity and Horseless Carriage. The biggest “issue” with them is price and rather long play time, plus none of them have official solo modes (I create solo mode for two of them and am thinking about doing so for Antiquity as well). But I’m seriously impressed in how much design work and iterating went into these games.

      Except for Carnegie, all of the games you mentioned also didn’t work for me longterm. Depending on your groups, maybe take a look at Heat: Pedal to the Metal, Dune Imperium, and Brass Birmingham. These are three I always had a good story to tell afterwards and which never seem to get old. Pax Pamir 2nd Edition also could be something. I much prefer John Company 2nd Edition by the same author, but that game has like 40+ pages of rules.

      For simpler games: Splendor Duel, Fantasy Realm, Lost Cities, and Love Letter are evergreens I never seem to get bored off.

      Hope perhaps there was something good for you in there. Have fun playing!

  2. I don’t have a group. That’s why I find your website so helpful! I play the lighter games with my family-in-law, but for heavier games I have to rely on (multi-handed) solo, or occasionally, my partner. So I am restricted as for what games I will buy.

    I do love to try John’s Company, so reading it works solo as well, really (re-)piques my interest. I am not against a lot of rules, it’s just that most of the time I find the rules not to be worth the trouble. As they say: too much squeeze, for too little juice 🙂

    I do think I would enjoy these big narrative games a lot more. It’s just that usually they are much harder to solo.

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