As social distancing continues and we’re still unable to get together to play board games, we decided to kick off the week with something fun and a little different.
Dylann and I live very close to each other and can walk over in less than 15 minutes, so we’ve avoided buying a lot of duplicate games over the years since we can often play them at each other’s houses.
Today, we each list our top 3 games we would steal from each other. These aren’t necessarily our favourite games on the other person’s shelf, but rather the games we’d like to add to our collection, mostly to fill a certain niche. We did not include any games we haven’t played yet, nor have we included small box games in the $10-$20 range.
With that being said, let’s get to the lists! We each get one guess before each reveal, and we’ll alternate counting down from 3 to 1.
Carlo: Let’s start with your #3. Based on how well-known it is, I’m going to guess Agricola.
Dylann: That is my #3, well done!
DYLANN’S #3: AGRICOLA (2007)
Dylann: Obviously A Feast for Odin is one of my favourite games, and they’re not identical but they have a lot of similarities. I enjoy those huge games, and Agricola’s one I’ve only played a couple times, but I’ve loved the times I played it, and I know if I played it as much as you’ve played it I could probably get as into it as A Feast for Odin. I’ve considered at times buying Caverna because it’s one we don’t have between us, but if I had the option of just taking one of your games, Agricola would kind of fill that niche for me.
I love those big, in-depth games, and I know Agricola has more of those mean elements than A Feast for Odin does but these games give you so many options that each time you sit down you’re going to try a different strategy or the cards you get will push you toward one strategy which might be a way you’ve never tried playing before. I love re-discovering a game you’ve played in new ways, and not many games can offer that unless they’re bigger and have a bunch of these different point options, so this is a game I know I could get a lot of mileage out of. And, you know, shame on me for never having played it more than twice considering how renowned it is.
Carlo: Fair enough. That’s a great pick and I’ll make sure to lock that one in a vault because I certainly don’t want that one being stolen as it’s one of my all-time favourites.
Now, on to my #3. What’s your guess?
Dylann: Terraforming Mars.
Carlo: I like Terraforming Mars, but my #3 is…
CARLO’S #3: ETHNOS (2017)
Carlo: I don’t have a whole lot of area majority games, and I want one that’s more advanced but still kind of a gateway game and Ethnos fits that well. Like you said in your Ethnos review, it’s like a more advanced Ticket to Ride with elements of Small World and Rummy. I love how the turns just fly by, it plays quick, and it’s a different game every time with the different tribes. I’ve only played it three times and each time it felt very different in terms of what players were aiming for.
I don’t look at the box and get excited about the artwork, but yet the game is so fun because people get greedy hoarding cards to get bigger bands for bigger scores, and it always feels terrible when it backfires. You know, you get up to 9 or 10 cards and then maybe you can only play a few cards and then you have to watch everyone just snatch your discards up off the table. But even when it doesn’t pay off, you tend to laugh about it and wonder why you had to be so greedy. You never blame the game, you’re just angry with yourself. So even when I’m losing I’m still having fun because I can still push my luck going for those bigger hands to try to catch up. I don’t have anything quite like it in my collection, the gameplay’s just so smooth. I was really surprised by it the first time I played it and I would love to own a copy.
Dylann: Yeah, that’s a really good pick. It surprised me like crazy when I got it and it exceeded my expectations. I’m a big fan.
Alright, on to my #2. What’s your guess?
Carlo: This might be a long shot, but based on your reaction after last time we played, I’m going to guess Gizmos.
Dylann: …I DO like Gizmos, but no. My #2, even though I’ve only played it twice, is kind of a hole in my collection, and that would be…
DYLANN’S #2: AEON’S END (2016)
Dylann: It’s the closest one to a campaign game feel without actually being a campaign game. I’m a huge campaign game fan – I own two now, with Tainted Grail and Gloomhaven, and I have two coming as well in Frosthaven and Oathsworn – but it’s obviously way more of a time commitment to get a group together and have multiple sessions. Obviously they’ve made a legacy version of it now, but to have almost that legacy feeling in a non-legacy version, but to be able to be done in a sitting and then still be able to come back and try another boss, but not need that commitment of being part of a campaign, holding you back and not being able to get everyone together or whatever, that would just be sweet to have.
Not only that, the gameplay itself was super fun. I lost both times I played, so there’s also the pull to actually conquer one, get better and beat some of the more challenging ones. Plus, there are a bunch of expansions so it feels almost infinitely expandable and they just keep coming out. So yeah, that’s one that would definitely fill a hole in my collection where I don’t have that campaign feel but in a single sit down game.
Carlo: Right on, I’m happy to hear that. I didn’t know you enjoyed it that much so we should definitely play it more often. Like Agricola, it’s also one of my favourites.
Alright, on to my #2. What’s your guess?
Dylann: Castles of Burgundy.
Carlo: No, but that was one of the very last cuts I made, so good guess, but my number two is actually…
CARLO’S #2: THE QUEST FOR EL DORADO (2017)
Carlo: I love deck-building games and card games in general, and I never got Dominion back in the day because you and a few other friends of mine all had it, and I played it online at least a few hundred times. Aeon’s End is probably my current favourite deck-builder but it’s cooperative, and I also have Hero Realms, which is great, but it’s a lighter one and I don’t really like it with more than two players. The Quest for El Dorado is one of the best deck-builders out there, especially in terms of mixing that with another mechanic.
It’s actually primarily a race game, but deck-building is the way you move around the map and obviously build your deck even further. The first time we played it I didn’t like the tie-breaker with the little barriers/checkpoints. I remember you grabbed the first three and I think there were only five on the map, so I knew the tie-breaker was already gone for me. I got greedy sitting back and buying cards, thinking I was just going to rocket ahead like 10 hexes per turn once my deck was strong, but I lost. I remember thinking after that it’s actually a really clever tie-breaker because you’re tempted to spend more cards early just improving your deck, but those checkpoints make you feel the urgency of that race, and if you fall too far behind early on the game can be out of reach. I love that balance of when to race and when to build, with those multi-use cards. I really need a more mid-range deck-builder and I think The Quest for El Dorado is the best option out there.
Dylann: Nice! I love it as well, and it had actually been a while until we recently played it on Tabletop Simulator and that reminded me how much I like it. It also has that variable setup where you can change the map every time and then once you’ve played it enough they recommend you can also create your own paths as well, so if you play it enough you can kind of have specific maps that you and your friends like to play with, so that modular set up just makes it all last longer.
Okay, on to my number 1. What’s your guess?
Carlo: Isle of Skye.
Dylann: That was one of the ones I cut at the very end as well. I like that one a lot too, but my #1 is actually…
DYLANN’S #1: GIZMOS (2018)
Dylann: You guessed it at #2. Every time I’ve played it I’ve left wanting to play it again and also wanting to show it to other friends and to Vanessa because it’s accessible, it’s super fun to use the marble dispenser, it snowballs at just the right pace to make you feel like you’re really growing in power. Like you said in your review, it has that perfect timing where the game ends right when you feel like you just got… not quite out of control, but it ends just at the point where it leaves you wanting more, and I could immediately jump into another game if other people were down.
I really love it. I’ve considered buying it multiple times but then I’ve just been able to get my fix through playing it with you or on Tabletop Simulator or whatnot, but yeah, it’s just the perfect tableau builder and engine builder, of the ones I’ve played at least. There are a lot of other really great ones out there, but that one just feels like the right length, the right speed, and it ramps up just the right amount that it just leaves me wanting more every time. So that’s one that if I don’t steal from your collection I’ll definitely be adding to my collection in the next year, I hope.
Carlo: Great pick! I’ve enjoyed playing it again, and I was just saying I don’t get to play it enough because a lot of people see the box and don’t seem excited by it, but everyone who plays it seems to really like it.
Now, on to my #1. What’s your guess?
Dylann: I have two guesses. For my first guess, I don’t know if you’d consider it because you mentioned not including cheaper games but I’m going to guess it anyway – Biblios. If it’s not that, my second guess would be Wingspan.
Carlo: When I first made a top 5, Biblios and Castles of Burgundy were the two I cut in spots 4 and 5, so you’ve guessed two that were very narrowly cut. Wingspan I’ve still only played once and I’d like to try it again but it wouldn’t be that high on my list, at least not yet. My #1 is actually…
CARLO’S #1: KEYFLOWER (2012)
Carlo: It’s one of the games that’s been on my “must buy” list the longest. When you bought it I was so excited to play it and it was so good, and we haven’t gone back to it often enough. I love worker placement games, and this does worker placement in a really interesting way. First off, the auction and bidding is fun and can be cutthroat at times. I like how there are the restrictions on the different-coloured meeples which, thematically, I’m not sure what that’s supposed to represent, in terms of, you know… haha…
Dylann: It’s best not to think about it, haha.
Carlo: Haha, yeah, let’s not dive into that maybe. Anyway, it adds a layer of tension and strategy to the game when you’re trying to keep track of not necessarily how many but which colour(s) of meeples someone has the most of, like: okay, this player definitely has a lot of blue ones, so do I want to bid a blue meeple on that one? Is he/she going to outbid me on that one? There’s a lot to think about. Even though the player count goes up to six, I don’t know if I’d ever want to try it with that many. I think three or four is ideal, even two is really good. There’s also the route-building with your hexes, which is rare for a worker placement game. I’d have to play it a bit more to see if I think it makes the game better or more enjoyable, but it definitely makes it more complex.
I love being able to use other people’s spaces, but then you’re giving them those meeples that they’ll take and use in the next round. Sometimes you’re expecting nobody will use their own workers to go on your space and then suddenly they do and it drives up the price and it ruins your plans. Worker placement games often don’t have a lot of player interaction, or they’re not as confrontational, and I feel like Keyflower has quite a bit of that going on where you sort of look someone in the eye across the table while bidding, and it just feels a bit more competitive. Everyone has their own personal screen where they’re hiding their workers, and nobody knows how many anyone has left. Through the entire round there’s constantly tension. And then the different end-game bonuses, the way you build your city… I’ve only played it five or six times but it always feels fresh. I just love this game; one of my favourite worker placement games.
Dylann: I love it as well, I’d always be down to play it, but I always forget about it in my collection for some reason, or we just end up playing a different game. It’s one I’d definitely love to play a lot more of and start to develop other strategies and play at an advanced level with people to see how it evolves that way. Also, even though I know it’s probably not ideal or the best player count, I’m really curious to try it with five or six, because a lot of those games usually only go up to four, but the fact that it allows for up to six, I’m curious to see if it feels a lot different, or more cutthroat, or maybe it’s too long or more complicated. Maybe it’s a longer game but maybe there are so many other workers in play that maybe it’s just extra hilarious watching the bidding. So I’d love to have the time to play it with six and just see how it goes.
Carlo: Okay, you just convinced me with the bidding. We definitely should explore that.
Dylann’s top 3 games he would steal from Carlo:
3 – Agricola (2007)
2 – Aeon’s End (2016)
1 – Gizmos (2018)
Carlo’s top 3 games he would steal from Dylann:
3 – Ethnos (2017)
2 – The Quest for El Dorado (2017)
1 – Keyflower (2012)
Surprised by any of our choices? Which games would you steal from your friends’ collections in order to fill a niche in yours? Let us know in the comments below!