Games Library

Jack208 Boardgame Library – The "A" list

Jack208 Boardgame Library – The “A” list
After the interesting “1” list which contains the epic “7 Ages”, let’s take a look at the proper alphabets. This list starts with the current HBO hit “A Game of Thrones” (AGOT) which also happened to be the 1st Euro boardgame I bought back in 2005 when I first discovered Euro Gaming has landed in Malaysia!
 
 
The appeal of this game to me is simple to understand. It has some similar mechanics – cooperation, hidden command, stab-in-the-back betrayal – to DIPLOMACY, one of the few games I rated a 10 yet it claimed to play under 3 hrs. Diplomacy would take you closer to 6h. In truth, I should have known that as good as AGOT is, no game replaces DIPLOMACY. J
 
BGC Meetup - A Game of Thrones
  
Still, for those who love the Westeros universe – or who simply dun have 6+ hrs or 7 gamers to spare for a full-blooded game of DIPLO – A Game of Thrones is your next best bet. One flaw of the basic game is that one or two houses are imbalanced especially in a (full) 5-player game. Doesn’t mean you can’t win with these but the house of cards are stacked against them from the start.
 
Which leads us to the first expansion, A Clash of Kings.
 
 
Beside introducing the House of Martell for a 6-player game, this expansion also includes some critical elements to balance the game properly. Changing the start positions for the houses, and the ports of Westeros (this is a VERY key balancing element as without the ports, in the base game some houses can be “locked” out of the game if they lose their sea control).
 
The expansion also added Fortifications and Siege Engines, and while these add some interesting decisions, they are not a must-have. 
 
    
The 2nd expansion is the weaker of the trios, and is not an essential buy unless you really luv this series and must have all it’s games. I did buy a copy, more to complete my set and I think I’ve not yet played with the Storm of Swords expansion added to the base game. If you ask me, the base game MUST be played with the first expansion A Clash of Kings – but the 2nd expansion is nice-to-have.
   
This game has been out of stock from FFG for a very long time… the good news is that FFG is releasing a 2nd edition of this game which features the base plus elements from both expansions including most of the must-have stuff from A Clash of Kings. So I suppose if you wish to get a copy of this game, wait for the 2nd Edition reprint. 🙂
  
   
But if you wish to play the 1st edition together with all its expansions, you’ll find willing gamers at OTK. I would be happy to get this back to the table for a spin or two. Heard that Peter Gonci has done a session at KK with Sean!
     
BGC Meetup - A Game of Thrones

An “AGOT” session at OTK back in June 2009.. that’s how long we have not played this!
  
A Feast for Crows (AGOT for 9?)
And if you have a gang of nine who really luv the Westeros theme, you might want to check out the fan-made 9-player version of A Game of Thrones called A Feast for Crows (below) on an ernomous 44″x33″ map!
  
 
© West2Productions
 
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ACQUIRE
A 50+ year old game. One that looks a little square (read: boring). But this was the first game that got me started on Euro Boardgames. And when you asked around, you may be surprised to hear many rate this game highly even though it’s not a widely played game in the present. Not as widely played as say Settlers of Catan.
  
 
My first version of this game is not the 3D Hasbro edition but the last version of ACQUIRE published by Avalon-Hill (AH) in 1995 before Hasbro bought AH in 1997.
 
  
This 1995 edition of Acquire (above) comes with a Super Power variant, a set of special tiles which you can play as a special move. Don’t think this Super Power variant was popular as it was subsequently dropped but me & my mates back then enjoyed playing Acquire with this variant. Makes the game a little bit unpredictable.
 
 
Hasbro – after acquiring Avalon Hill – did produce what’s possibly the most visually attractive edition of Acquire (now known as the “Big Box 1999 Edition”) as seen above. Obviously I got a copy of it even though I still have the 1995 edition. Both plays in the exact same manner (except the names of the corporations were changed; in Avalon Hill they were hotel chains; in Hasbro they were generic corporations).
 
What’s hugely disappointing however is Hasbro/WOTC’s release of the 50th Anniversary Edition of ACQUIRE in 2008. The price point tells it’s own story. Retailing at just USD30 and done in a packaging that screams “cheap”…. you can’t believe this is the same game that’s highly rated by many and has it’s own place in the history of boardgaming.
  
  
Box cover of the infamous 50th Anniversary edition of Acquire.
  
If you asked me, I would suggest you to stay away from this edition and trawl eBay for a decent copy of the 1999 edition, or failing which the 1995 or any of the older editions. All of them would be worth your time (and money) compared to the 50th Anniversary edition.
  
  
My pleasure to be teaching ACQUIRE during our recent BGC Boardgame Retreat.
  
ACQUIRE is not without it’s flaw. If you played yourself to a “dead-end” ie you have invested all your cash into one or two selected stocks (hoping they’ll end up in a merger for a great pay-off) but no merger happened to these companies then you are basically “frozen” out of the game with no cash to invest in other more potentially likely acquisition targets since you can’t sell the shares you’ve bought (unless through the merger resolution phase).
  
An ACQUIRE fan came up with the Lloyd’s Rule (can be purchased for USD3.95) which apparently provides a variant to resolve ACQUIRE’s perceived flaw/weakness. Allen (another OTK regulars who’s another ACQUIRE fanboy) bought the Lloyd’s Rule and brought it to OTK last year March for a testdrive.
  
BGC Meetup - Acquire
  
Nicola (left) and Allen in a game of ACQUIRE at OTK using the Lloyd’s Rule.
  
I haven’t made up my mind if Lloyd’s Rule indeed fixes ACQUIRE – or even if ACQUIRE requires any fixing – but I saw one or two interesting variants in the Rule. Perhaps we need to play it again? *hint*
  
AFRIKA KORPS
There was a time when Avalon Hill was the dominant game publisher with over a hundred titles to their catalog. While ACQUIRE was then one of their best sellers, Avalon Hill were dominant because of the range of (old-style) hex-based war games they carry. Some of these are still in demand among the grognards now such as Advanced Third Reich, Panzer Leader, Advanced Squad Leader (after the sale to Hasbro, this title was licensed to MMP), Wooden Ships and Iron Men, and of course the famous DIPLOMACY, Advanced Civilization and DUNE. Now you understand why AH was the undisputed KING in boardgaming back then.
  
Grognards = wargamers who prefer playing hex-based wargames.
 
All the above titles are heavy (and complex)… and at about the same time I acquired ACQUIRE, I was also looking for shorter wargames to test the water. It was a toss between Afrika Korps, Battle of the Bulge and Midway. In the event I bought the first two and was thinking of getting Midway later. Somehow I didn’t follow through on my MIDWAY purchase and today I’m still hoping to find a “new” copy of MIDWAY from eBay. 😦
  
  
Rommel’s campagin in North Africa with his Desert Rats have also piqued my interest. The map of north Africa (Libya) is very bare and the entire game hinges on the best use of logistics with battles swinging back and forth, to the inevitable siege at Tobruk.
 
The game is relatively simple; in Euro Game terms, you would be looking at say something a little deeper than Stone Age. Let’s Play? 😛
  
  
A recent addition due to BGC restocking of this game from Mayfair. It’s a light game with pirate/trading/shipping theme. Haven’t play yet.
  
  
AGE OF STEAM (2nd Ed)
Ah… Martin Wallace (or should it be John Bohrer?) Nah.. I won’t get into that. Let the game be the main actor here. 😛 Mine copy is the 2nd Edition print with a box cover that looks slightly different from the one above (which is the 3rd Ed and includes additional maps).
  
Certainly one of Wallace’s finest and a game that deserves to sit in every serious gamer’s library, AGE OF STEAM (AOS) is the evolved final-state product of Wallace’s rail-theme game design. This game is brutal (if you are playing the base map with 4 players, you may not feel it. Try playing with 6) and there can be player elimination (via bankruptcy).
  
BGC Meetup - Age of Steam
  
I prefer the classic look of Age of Steam compared with Steam’s more fancy components but “less brutal” gameplay. 😛
  
We brought this again to the OTK tables last Friday. Surprisingly I didn’t know Kareem, a self-professed train-game disliker (I prefer to use this term compared to “hater”) actually loves AGE OF STEAM! There you have it.. If a train-game disliker can love this game, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Who knows… Boardgamecafe.net might be organzing an Age of Steam tournament in the near future. 😉
   
BGC Meetup - Age of Steam
  
Kareem (right) enjoying Age of Steam with Peter Gonci, our visiting Hungary gamer @ OTK Cheras.
  
P/s If you wanted an easier version that can be used as a learning game to step up into Age of Steam, take a look at Railways of the World (formerly Railroad Tycoon).
 
Age of Steam Maps
When you write about AOS, you can’t not write about the maps! And if you think Power Grid is coming out with too many maps, wait till you see the Age of Steam list! LOL
 
The initial expansion maps – and the official ones – were just four and these were designed by Wallace/Bohrer.
  • Age of Steam Maps #1: England & Ireland
  • Age of Steam Maps #2: Western USA & Germany
  • Age of Steam Maps #3: Scandinavia & Korea
  • Age of Steam Maps #4: France & Italy

Fans then started getting onto the “do-my-own-map” bandwagon and soon, AOS maps were flooding the market. Initially I was interested (& curious) and picked up a few maps – even though they were horrendously pricey given the maps were not on mounted boards. Two of the maps I’ve below – Barbados & St Lucia and Jamaica & Puerto Rico – can be used for 1-player play. I haven’t done that yet so can’t comment on how good the maps are for solo play.

  • Age of Steam Maps: 1830s Pennsylvannia & Northern California
  • Age of Steam Maps: Barbados & St Lucia
  • Age of Steam Maps: Disco Inferno & Soul Train
  • Age of Steam Maps: Jamaica & Puerto Rico
The official four maps are no longer in print and some of them are rare and hard to find. In my opinion those four are the best maps for AOS. The rest are only necessary If this is your No. 1 Game. 🙂
 
  
AGRICOLA with Farmers of the Moor expansion, various decks (L- Z- Gamers-), Through the Season, animeeples, vegemeeples and farmermeeples
Seems like there’s a lot of heavy-hitters in the “A” list…  Acquire, Age of Steam and now Agricola? Puerto Rico was the No. 1 game in BGG for a good many years until Agricola came and pulled it down a notch. Now Twilight Struggle took over and is still occupying the top spot. Agricola will remain in the top 3 spot for some time…
  
If you have only seen a game of Agricola without the animeeples, you may struggle to understand what’s all the fuss about. It’s a game about farming (not exactly the sexiest occupation around), you need to constantly struggle just to get enough to feed your family and may even have to suffer the  humiliation of begging for food. Not to mention on your first game, the 14 cards (Occupation & Minor Improvement) may confuse the hell out of you.
  
BGC Meetup - Agricola
 
A vanilla-looking Agricola. A bit boring, ain’t it?
  
However add in the animeeples and other stuff to pimp up your copy of Agricola and it instantly transforms into a game that everyone likes! Who wouldn’t love those cute sheeps & boars. And a game that in robstreet’s word, he enjoyed even when he’s not doing well. That’s the magic of Agri-farming. J
  
BGC Meetup - Agricola
  
A busy farm with all sheeps, boars and cattles everywhere!
  
   
If pimping your Agricola set is what you want to do, then you need to get the Goodies expansion which comes with almost everything you need to make your Agricola pretty!
   
BGC Meetup - Agricola Farmers of the Moor
 
The only item missing from the Goodies expansion are these Farmermeeples (above)… a set of two adults and three children. Yes they are different in sizes and shape. Such attention to details. 🙂
   
BGC Meetup - Agricola Farmers of the Moor
 
This if I remembered correctly, was Gareth’s Horse Rush strategy! LOL. Each horse is worth 1 VP yeah.. He almost won this session.
 
For the Pros, there are also various decks including one that’s designed by the Agricola community – aptly titled Gamers Deck – to add some variety to your play. Almost endless amount of cards – Occupation & Minor Improvements – to mix up your game. One area which I’m impressed about this is how all the cards are balanced. No wonder Uwe (designer) spent years playtesting this.
  
  
Well almost all. There are a few “banned” cards – once you get to the Pro stage, you’ll know which – that some dun used in their games or competitions but if you are playing this game to enjoy some boardgaming time, dun bother too much with all these technicalities. Just play. 😛
  
BGC Meetup - Agricola
   
This (above) I suspect is a now-priceless picture of aanemesis in his first farming session @ OTK Cheras! But now dun play play with him oh… he’s Farmer Supremo. 😛
   
BGC Meetup - Agricola
   
For those of you who loves your dice, there’s a variant of “Agricola, Farmers with Dice”… haha. Just kidding.
   
  
ALADDIN’S DRAGONS
Released as Morgenland (German Ed) and went quickly out of print even before I can get hold of a copy… you can imagine how thrilled I was when Marcus (more popular known as friedricetheman. Hmm.. no, actually he was more popularly known as Mr Laminator! LOL) offered his copy for sale! When Mr Laminator offers his game(s) for sale, you know it’s not just in any condition… it’s in almost-perfect LAMINATED condition! Yes even the board itself is laminated!!
  
You bet his copy was snatched away before he can finish uttering “A-la-ddin”. 😛
    
BGC Meetup - Aladdin's Dragons
   
A game of blind bidding, treasure hunting and magic spells! And lovely game components…
   
BGC Meetup - Aladdin's Dragons
 
There’s also a card version if you are so incline… but I like the original board version better.
   
    
A 2003 Spiel des Jahres winner, a quick light game in the mold of Carcassonne. Yet this game did not hit my radar until much later when it was introduced among our community during the 2010 BGC Boardgame Retreat in Genting Highlands.
  
BGC Retreat - Alhambra
   
I find this game to be slightly meatier than Carcassonne and if you enjoyed Carcassonne, do check this out. It’s a very good gateway game to consider.
   
BGC Meetup - Alhambra
  
 
This game has a series of expansion. Some good. Most not. If you wish to get the expansions, we suggest you get the Big Box edition which includes the base game plus ALL the expansions.
  • The Vizier’s Favor
  • The City Gates
  • The Thief’s Turn
  • The Treasure Chamber
  • Power of the Sultan
 
And a Golden Anniversary limited edition which is probably meant for collectors or fans. 😛 The Big Box is still a better value-buy than the Anniversary limited edition – unless you are a collector/fan.
  
  
Before Kickstarter games became all the craze in our Boardgamecafe.net Forums (click here if you have just landed from Timbuktu and missed all these Kickstarter talk), an unassuming game was successfully started via Kickstarter and one of our OTK regulars, Allen (part of the Midah Gamers group) had pledged for it. BGC therefore had a copy of the game to playtest as early as Dec 2010 thanks to Allen.
 
 
Read our sessrep on the first play @ OTK here (click to read).
 
It’s a game with LOADS of dice! Yet like Kingsburg and Stone Age, it’s not all randomness. Almost all your dice rolls can be put to good use, except your plans need to be more adaptive. After all, life is meant to be adaptive, no?
 
I said this is a “successful” Kickstarter game not because it met its funding target, but it’s in it’s 3rd print run now and they are preparing its first expansion Factions. Many Kickstarter games will meet their funding target but not many can continue beyond their first print run.
  
The Allen Alien Bonus Pieces. Kickstarter games usually come with bonus pieces as a reward for those who committed to pledge & kickstarted it. Check out the special bonus pieces for Alien Frontiers (below), only available with Allen’s set. 😛
 
BGC Meetup - Alien Frontier
 
BGC now stock this game, and soon it’s new expansion Factions, which has just been initiated as  another Kickstarter project as well. If you wish to support it, visit this link.
 
  
AMUN RE
At one point in time Knizia, a prolific game designer,  was rolling out wonderful games after wonderful games – Modern Art, Samurai, RA, Taj Mahal, Through the Desert. Amun Re was released during this golden period and is a very solid game from him. A Spiel des Jahres Recommend in the same year as Alhambra.
 
BGC Meetup - Amun-Re
 
It’s a classic Knizia auction game and ranks well with his other games in the same genre such as Modern Art and RA. This one is themed on the Eygptian civilization and the offerings to the god AMUN-RE. Rules can be a bit difficult to explain but once you get past that, there’s a good game in it.
 
BGC Meetup - Amun-Re
  
Effendy (right) boss of FND Mindspot (and also a BGC retail partner) enjoying his Amun Re @ OTK Cheras.
 
 

The “A” List (for now)
BGC members can ask to play these games at the new OTK Cheras
  1. A Game of Thrones
  2. A Game of Thrones Expansion: A Clash of Kings
  3. A Game of Thrones Expansion: A Storm of Swords
  4. A Game of Thrones (2nd Edition)
  5. Acquire (1995 Avalon-Hill edition)
  6. Acquire (1999 Hasbro edition)
  7. Afrika Korps
  8. Age of Discovery
  9. Age of Steam (2nd Ed)
  10. Age of Steam Maps #1: England & Ireland
  11. Age of Steam Maps #2: Western USA & Germany
  12. Age of Steam Maps #3: Scandinavia & Korea
  13. Age of Steam Maps #4: France & Italy
  14. Age of Steam Maps: 1830s Pennsylvannia & Northern California
  15. Age of Steam Maps: Barbados & St Lucia
  16. Age of Steam Maps: Disco Inferno & Soul Train
  17. Age of Steam Maps: Jamaica & Puerto Rico
  18. Agricola (with animeeples, vegemeeples, farmermeeples)
  19. Agricola L- and Z-decks (part of preorder bonus)
  20. Agricola Expansion: Farmers of the Moor
  21. Agricola Gamers Deck
  22. Agricola Through the Seasons
  23. Aladdin’s Dragons
  24. Alhambra
  25. Alien Frontiers
  26. Amun Re
  27. to be continued
Seen any fave of yours? Or play them at the new OTK Cheras. Discuss here.
Click here for the full list of boardgames in Jack208’s Library.
 
ABOUT CK (a.k.a. Jack208) (add me in facebook)
One of the trio who sits on the Council of Boardgamecafe.net and a boardgamer by choice ever since he saved up for his own copy of Monopoly donkey years ago, and fell in love again when he got re-acquainted with Acquire. To get around the question of why he needs to buy so many games, he told his wife they are going into the boardgame business. Well, he did step into the boardgame business so try not to believe every single word he writes here as he’ll also try to sell you the games! When not doing anything with boardgames, CK hits the road running 10K races and hopefully would make a return to squash soon.
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7 replies »

  1. Awesome insight to the first 25 “A” games =D!
    I remember looking through every single alphabet, number looking for potential games to buy/scout for when my mum asked me to make a list of games that I want so she can buy them for me for Birthdays, Christmas, etc hehe.

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  2. Ahhh!! The “A” list makes me wanna go look through everygame in BGC’s Webstore again! It was really nice reading through and looking at all the games in BGC in alphabetical order hehe. You can ask Jun Yet, I even wrote them down with the prices on a piece of paper that I still have lol! I listed 19 games last time and was hoping to cut down to top 5 or smth but kinda stopped after cutting 3 out =P

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  3. Ah, a great list which includes Acquire. I have not tried Alhambra, but I would really like to. Perhaps I’ll pick it up sometime.
    I really want to try Game of Thrones, and hope to pick up the second edition when it comes out. Though I’m surprised it didn’t go with the Gs. Does that mean that you are going to put any game that starts with “The” under the T list?

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  4. Hi Ian, AGOT 2nd Ed is expected to be released late Nov (or more likely early Dec) but it’s well worth the wait for that rather than buy existing stock of 1st Ed (which is now considered an obsolete version).

    The game itself is actually called “A Game of Thrones” hence it’s placed in the “A” list. 😛 To your question, no, the “The” in game titles do not sort them into the “T” list. which now reminds me I need to keep up with the next instalment to this list ie the “C” list. Been very busy so hopefully I’ll be able to get this resumed soon.

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  5. ah.. Ian’s a Canadian and I see you’ve listed Terry Fox as one of the Top Ten People in Canada. Rightly. It might be interesting for you to know that Boardgamecafe.net has been supporting the Terry Fox Run since 2009 when we took part as BGC in the local (Malaysia) Terry Fox Run. Check out last year’s runrep http://blog.boardgamecafe.net/2010/11/09/terry-fox-run-2010-2/ and we just did this year’s Terry Fox Run this morning (runrep coming soon with plenty of pictures!)

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