D20 List: Top 5 Hidden Gems
It’s time for our first d20 List! I (Andrew) had the pleasure of rolling our first dice, so what better way to do it than through a trusty dice tower.
I rolled 5. (Check out our Instagram for the video)
With the number 5, I decided to make Ryan and I search high and low for our games that we love, that are really, really great, but that everyone may not have heard of or that, for any reason don’t seem to get much love or play. So, without further ado:
TOP 5 HIDDEN GEMS
1) FITS: I am generally not a big fan of abstract games, but I will almost always play a game of FITS. For those who aren’t familiar, it is basically Tetris the board game. It plays up to four, but the game isn’t any different whether playing through one or four players. The pieces are tactile and colorful and this game appeals to gamers and non gamers alike. I definitely think this one has a FIT (pun definitely intended) in every gamer’s collection.
2) Time of Soccer: I love sports games, especially anything soccer related. I heard on BoardGameGeek about a worker placement game that simulates being a manager of a futbol club from Spain. As I was reading more about this game, I knew I had to give it a shot.
In Time of Soccer, you play the manager of a futbol club. Throughout the week, you travel around the board signing players, holding press conferences and getting sponsors. At the end of the week, you play a game against another team (which might be controlled by the game or the other players) and you gain points in the league. There are various cup tournaments you participate in, and your position in those tournaments, sponsorships and the final league standing determine who wins.
This is a unique worker placement game that really captures the theme well. I am really glad I picked up a copy (it is hard to find in the states, but I heard rumors of a second edition coming).
3) Among the Stars: This game has been around for a while and it’s one of my favorites, but it never seems to get much play. This is a tile drafting/placement game where you are building a spaceship, and like most drafting games, there is a component to engine building.
I don’t recall if many people in our group don’t enjoy this game, but this is one of my favorites to play. I like drafting, it’s quick, and I really enjoy the art and other gameplay additions. Because we don’t play it very often, I haven’t picked up any of the expansions, but this is one I’d like to get to the table again soon.
4) Walnut Grove: I described Walnut Grove as a combination of tile laying, worker placement with some worker movement that can interrupt your plans. It’s done by Lookout games, so if you are familiar with their other offerings then this one might seem similar, but at the time it was like nothing I had played before, and each time it comes out, I am reminded both how much I enjoy the game but also how bad I am at it.
5) Tobago: I love deduction games. I love thinking about a problem and eliminating possibilities until I know what the answer is. I love games with chunky components. Tobago has it all.
Tobago is a hand management games with a modular board where you are trying to find the hidden treasures before your opponents. There is also a press your luck portion to it as, when you find the treasure (done by playing cards until only one possible spot can remain on the map), and other player who played cards to narrow down the location and yourself get to split the treasure up, with you only knowing a portion of what’s in that particular treasure’s deck. This is a great game for families (and is actually ranked in the Top 100 of BGG’s family game sublisting), but for some reason it doesn’t get played all that often. It is definitely family friendly, especially if you all work together to figure out what spaces can (or cannot) have treasure in them.
1) Powerboats – Probably the most well known game on my list (It was nominated for 2 Golden Geek awards), but still not a game many people know about. My gaming groups, both in Kansas and Minnesota, definitely know about it. I preach about this game as often as I can. It’s simple, like many racing games, fun, and looks great on the table. The 3-sided dice are neat too. Corné van Moorsel has always been my favorite lesser known designer, and this is my favorite game he has created.
2) Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League – This is probably the highest ranked on BGG off of my list, but I suspect my American friends don’t know much about it. Perry Rhodan is a popular Sci-fi novel hero in Germany. This game is a great 2-player pick up and deliver game. It’s English release came a few years after the original German, so I think that hurt the buzz. I think it belongs in the small 2-player pantheon with games like Patchwork and 7 Wonders Duel.
3) Streetsoccer – I believe I mentioned Corné van Moorsel was my favorite lesser known designer? I’d have added more of his games had Roll to the Top not been too new and Factory Fun been more popular than everything else on this list. Gipsy King was close to making it, but I tossed it out in favor of the other 2. This game is probably my favorite sport game. It’s an abstract game at heart, but the soccer theme works incredibly well. I used to play this on a turn based online site, so my number of plays is a bit skewed, but it’s been one of my favorite 2-player games for years.
4) Igel Ärgern – Loosely translated as “Annoying the Hedgehogs,” This is a fun racing game that involves getting your hedgehog pieces to the end of the track. You are able to stack onto other players pieces, but you are allowed to move other players pieces. It’s simple, and can be a little meaner than I typically like my games, but we’ve always enjoyed our plays. I’ve only played the base game, but I also have several variants for the game included, although those were printed out by the person I traded the game with.
5) Mutant Meeples – Take Ricochet Robots, add some super powers, and you have Mutant Meeples. I tend to enjoy many of Ted Alspach’s more popular games too, but this one has been fun since we originally got it on Kickstarter. It is typically a little simpler than RR once you get the special abilities figured out, so it’s a little more newbie friendly.