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Formula D Expansion Tracks #2   (View Game)
   Quixotequest

I think Expansion Set 2 is best because, unlike Expansions 1 & 3 you get two F-1 racing courses. I think the racing theme and rules are more interesting than the "street racer" rules, so it's nice to get two F-1 circuits in this expansion. First, the streets of Valencia, which has a nice way of equalizing the pole position with the later cars because of a curve that begins right after the starting line. Next the famous Hockenheim circuit in Germany where teams always went to set speed records -- and if you play this track right you can get up to using the rare 6th gear die. I wish the publisher made this on board weight as heavy as what comes in the base game set, but it's still pretty good quality and nice for adding variety to your Formula D games.

Witch's Brew   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
You wouldn't expect a game this light to fit the Alea "big box" games that are often much more strategically deep (think Puerto Rico or Princes of Florence). Nevertheless the theme of Witch's Brew's magic and potions is enjoyable and draws kids in. The wooden potion-ingredients components are pretty nice though I robbed the gold pieces from my Citadels game since the cardboard gold tokens that come with this are a little thin. Other than that this is an easy hidden role game that plays like a trick-taking card game with a twist. If you grab the Alea "Treasure Chest" expansion collection you get some nice add-ons for this game with crow counters (handy), cards for a 6th player (nice!) and some fun new magic powers cards (that add a little to length of play but have fun variety that influence what secret roles you will take) and amulets (that let you steal back a role stolen from you once or twice in the game).

Survive: Escape From Atlantis *ND   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
Excellent production quality for this new reprint of the classic game. Everything is a little bit bigger in size and the pieces all made of wood. Plus you get new Dive Dice, Dolphin pieces and variant gameplay options that allow you to play in ways differently from the classic rules. It's a simple game of fun theme and good-spirited revenge that is one of the few games that inspires and is flexible to lots of homegrown variations and rules.

Survive: Escape From Atlantis - The Giant Squid Expansion   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
A simple expansion that adds a LOT to the theme -- and perhaps the exasperation -- of the game. Use the Giant Squid to get after your opponents where, in the classic game, they were safe: dry land! You may have to limit the amount of Giant Squid you let emerge in the game (up to 5 of them) depending on players' tolerance for this devilish new sea creature.

Taj Mahal (reprint 2006)   (View Game)
   quixotequest
I think this is one of the most perfect Reiner Knizia games -- very elusive, addicting and embraces the theme of balance in dominance. The theme of controliing areas of trade, or religion, or politics, etc., while building palaces around India is, once again, a completely obvious pasted-on theme like many of the Doctor's games. But the mechanisms of how you vie for influence are really sweet and sophisticated for the boardgaming realm. Taj Mahal really should play quicker with experienced players -- and can bog down a bit when laying with new players. And it's definitely suited better in its slightly fiddly scorekeeping for a computer game, yet to own it in all its tangible pieced, human-interactive form is a pleasure for any board gaming afficionado.

Modern Art   (View Game)
   quixotequest
A beautiful card game that embraces the Reiner Knizia favorite metagame of balance, while standing as one of his "trilogy" of auction games. They way art accumulates value over the rounds is novel, as are the various styles of auctioning. Some art can be sold in a certain style of auction that favors the lead bidder, others styles favor the last bidder, others the hidden high bidder, and etc. The artwork is a little dated and, being a Mayfair Games game, the production quality is a little cheap for the price they charge. But every game collection really should have this classic.

Ra Board Game   (View Game)
   quixotequest
RA's the best of Reiner Knizia's auction game "trilogy". (The other two are Modern Art and Medici; Medici is now also available as an iPhone/iPad app, which is good considering it is out of print.) Yes, being a game by the good doctor, the RA theme feels pasted on the auction mechanism. But it's still fun to push your luck, balance your bidding strength for the next round, and build an ancient Egyptian civilization via the tiles you win earning as much favor from the gods as you can. Try to collect tiles that help you score now but also score in a later round. The "big picture" of Knizia games is often about balance, and RA embraces this beautifully.

Settlers Of Catan Board Game : Traders & Barbarians Expansion   (View Game)
   quixotequest
This set contains a much less complex expansion that accomplishes the goal of variety much better than Cities and Knights. Plus oyu get other essential mini expansions that have actually been improved over the previous iterations that have been released via other means. The Great River expansion is improved, though still something to use mainly for variety. But the Fishermen and Port Master expansions are essential and beg the question why base Settlers just doesn't include these. Now coastal play can be as game winning as a land-locked strategy. It's a close call whether to recommend Seafarers or Barbarians as the second expansion you should buy for Settlers, but at least buy one of them to help alleviate the tiresomeness of base Catan. This expansion, by the way, works fine if you have 3rd edition Catan instead of the recent 4th edition.

Ingenious (red box)   (View Game)
   quixotequest
The new packaging is an improvement to make this tile-laying pattern game look more appealing. It is hard challenge since abstract games are off-putting to many, but it's worth getting past that. This an enjoyable game that kids can play well with adults. And, being a Reiner Knizia game, the scoring is about balance, not just "owning" one of the color ranges. In other words, the winner is the person who has the highest score among the weakest colors they've collected. And, I think Ingenious is better than Qwirkle.

Colosseum   (View Game)
   quixotequest
It does take a little patience to get Colosseum down at first, but it is very novel and enjoyable theme for a bidding game. I like how your score is the best event you've hosted rather than an accumulative score. Production values -- of course for being a Days of Wonder game -- are splendid.

El Grande - Decennial (10 year) Edition (Expansions Included)   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
This is one of the greatest and near perfect games ever. It will play best with competitive game players who don't mind that the theme (Grandes and their knights competing for power in medieval Spain) is a bit pasted on, and the colors are a bit too muted. The Decennial Edition has a few production errors (a few cards are missing some of their printed text on them) but the rules explain them so experience quickly overcomes this unfortunate error for a game of this expense. (Rio Grande, the publisher, so far as I know has not yet offered reprints for complaining customers.) Some of the expansions (Colonies) add unnecessary game length and complication but some (King and Intrigue) are splendid variations on the theme.

Zooloretto Polar Bear Expansion   (View Game)
   quixotequest
The Polar Bear adds a lot of thematic appeal, and the Buildings and Petting Zoo are nice expansions for Zooloretto game play. The Extra Enclosures is a take-it-or-leave-it addition and the Building Sites may add a bit too much blocking/screwage factor for a family game, depending on how competitive everyone likes their games.

Zooloretto: Exotic Expansion   (View Game)
   quixotequest
We wanted to like this a bit more because you're getting some appealing new animals (parrot, koalas, orangutans, etc.) to add to your Zooloretto zoo. But the way the expansion works doesn't quite gel as well as we hoped. Worth getting if you or your kids are Zooloretto fans and are willing to grant that the appeal is a bit more for theme and variety in animals than it is for adding more strategy and interest to the base game's set collection mechanisms.

Aquaretto (Zooloretto: Aquaretto)   (View Game)
   quixotequest
Aquaretto is the more strategic of the Zooloretto series. Building a Sea World-like water park is a hit for appealing to families. The tile placement into your water park mechanism feels a little too abstract puzzle-like -- less realistic than Zooloretto's zoo park boards -- but where it compromises the theme it makes up for the game being a little more tactical than Zooloretto.

Zooloretto   (View Game)
   quixotequest
Hopefully the award-winning Zooloretto comes back into print. Even if the theme feels a little pasted on at times, it's a family-appealing theme (building a zoo) for a set-collection game. It's better with some of the expansions (The Polar Bear set, The Gorilla set) but still very adequate on its own. We picked it up after visiting the amazing San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park and it made our kids enjoy Zooloretto even more.

Forbidden Island   (View Game)
   quixotequest
Forbidden Island has been a hit with friends and family who've played with us. The theme (collect treasures and escape before the island sinks) and a fast-playing cooperative gaming experience are appealing -- you either win or lose together. From the same game designer (Matt Leacock) as the award-winning Pandemic. Many of the same mechanisms but simplified so that children or light gamers can enjoy. And for those who like to game, it makes a nice, inexpensive filler game.

Ticket To Ride - Europe   (View Game)
   quixotequest
This Europe Ticket to Ride and the USA have been well, well played board games and a great way to introduce friends and family to Euro-style gaming. What a great value for your entertainment dollar! Better with the 1912 card /depots expansion, but nice on its own. A little more competitive for tickets than TTR: USA, and also includes Stations in case someone steals your route(s).

Small World: Be Not Afraid... Expansion   (View Game)
   quixotequest
A fun expansion that adds more desirable new races and abilities, along with a sorting tray if you've collected other Small World race/power expansions. The tray is improved over the base game's in that the race tokens don't get stuck in the wells. Unfortunately trays like this can crack and this expansion doesn't really come in a small box like I expected, but just a sliding carboard sleeve, that no longer fits snugly around the new tray once you've removed all the cardboard sprues. Therefore it is not as protected as I'd like. And neither this "box" nor the base game box has enough extra room to hold the Tales and Legends event card deck if you've collected that expansion, too. This also has room to house the Necromancer expansion, though it is not included here.

Small World: Tales & Legends   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
The Tales & Legends deck is a way to add some spice to your Small World game. Small World, for all the fun fantasy theme, can actually play a little like a dry abstract game at times. This little expansion is a way to add some unpredictability and force a little adaptation from turn to turn. Some cards are a little too game changing and frenetic, but Days of Wonder has organized the deck into mini-sets so you can easily sort and build the kind of deck you'd like to try, from mild to wild.

Alea Treasure Chest   (View Game)
   quixotequest
Get this while its available for the San Juan and Puerto Rico expansions. Princes of Florence is out of print, so its expansion is useless unless you've been collecting Alea's games for some time now. If you happen to have the other Alea games, there are some fair expansions here, but I'd recommend buying Treasure Chest while it's still available if you're a San Juan and/or PR fan and games owner.

Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers   (View Game)
   quixotequest
Hunters and Gatherers is a more cost-effective and enjoyable way to experience the build-the-game-map tile placing mechanism of the classic Carcassonne. There are more base tiles as well as bonus tiles included here, as well as more wooden bits. Adding a fourth way to score points (fishing huts) you really have, for about the same cost as basic "blue box" Carcassonne a more well-rounded game. That makes it self-contained (and incompatible with base Carc expansions), plays up to five players, and has a fun proto-historic theme. What family wouldn't prefer hunting mammoths and sabertooth tigers to the drier theme of medieval walled city building of "blue box" Carc?

Dominion: Prosperity   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
This is our favorite Dominion expansion. The new cards have new as well as reliable "powers". And it's nice having new and "more expensive" treasure and victory cards to spend your treasure on. The shortcoming with Dominion is the inconvenience of pulling out the various big boxes if you want to mix action cards from the base game and expansions. But if you take the base Treasure, Victory, and Curse cards from a base Dominion game, Prosperity is actually well-rounded enough to serve as a decent version to play on its own if you happen to want to tote just it along to a game playing night. There are extra spaces in the card tray to hold all the base game's cards (not including the 25 base Action/Kingdom cards).

Formula D Dice set   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
Add some convenience to your Formula D game with more dice. Makes it nicer so that there is less cross-grabbing of dice when you find everyone is using the same gear die around a certain section of track.

Formula D   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
Yes, there is some randomness and light-spiritedness to this racing classic, but the different "dice gears" add some tactics as well. It's fun, thematic, can incorporate up to 10 people, and if you keep it to a single race around the track, about an hour long to play. Add some extra gears dice (sold separately) to help speed things up a bit so that players don't have to grab as much at using one set of common dice. If you want to add more time and complexity there are several good thematic rules additions that add more realism to Formula 1 style races, and even more theme (and crazyness) with the street racing version, that features new car models from which to choose and varied characters with different "powers" and advantages/disadvantages to their cars. I prefer just the Formula One gameplay best, either with the basic or intermediate rules.

Bohnanza   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
This easy-to-teach set collection card game has a silly theme and has been a hit with our kids and extended family. Get it!

Fresco (Fresko)   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
The award-winning Fresco is not as thematically "fun" a Worker Placement game as Stone Age, but it is a little more competitive as you have to plan ahead more than you do in Stone Age. If you like this type of game I recommend getting it after Stone Age, though it's nice that it's still fairly fast (60-70 min) in comparison to the more heavy worker placement game Agricola, which you'd only want to break out with seasoned gamers in the mood for a more brain-burning game. The competing fresco-painting theme won't work for everyone, but for those it does it's a beautiful game with a worker placement and turn order competition mechanism. The custom artist meeples round out the presentation nicely. I'd recommend the game using the Portraits and Bishop's Request expansions (included) as a function of the base game. They are easy to incorporate, hardly add much length to the game, but make the competition for turn order much much better -- and the game on the whole more interesting and/or more thematic. Add the New Paints expansion (included) when you're playing with players for familiar with Fresco.

Pompeii   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
Pompeii is a decent disaster escape game because of the map placement "phase one" of the game. It teaches easily and historically, has a fairly good mechanic to match the theme -- even if I'm not sure Romans sacrificed people to volcanoes. Board is pretty close to historically accurate as to what kinds of buildings were located in the various parts of the historical city of Pompeii. The "Phase 2" escape part of the game has some fun dose of "getcha" mechanism that lets you screw your opponents with lava. The only real complaint is that the production values could be a bit better. Board is a little thin and meeples are uncreative cylinders -- and supplied in varied quantity so that, say in a two-player game, you can only choose two of the four available pawn colors. The plastic volcano is nice. Pompeii was one of our favorite sites to visit in Italy. This game is fun on its own, but a nice bonus for reliving memories if you've visited.

Bang! 4th Edition   (View Game)
   Quixotequest
If you like the Spaghetti Western theme, the base game is best with characters and maybe a card or two added from Dodge City.

 

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