Can we just come to an understanding that there are way too many games? Each month, there are new ones coming that never stand a chance. Today, I’m looking at five that deserve your dollars despite missing out on the hype cycle.
My only criteria for this list were:
- I like it.
- It’s ranked below 250 on Boardgamegeek.
- It has at least a rating of 7.2 from BGG.
Flamme Rouge Rank: 276 Rating:7.56
Flamme Rouge seems to be fairly universally loved by critics. So why – beyond the requirement that you wear bike shorts – can it not crack the Top 250?
It has a lot going for it. It can be taught in around five minutes. It has tension. The concepts are easy to get not just for a gamer but for a casual person who is used to all the games we played growing up. It’s not perfect – it can have a problem with runaway leaders – but Flamme Rouge would fit in perfectly in the Target strategy of gateway games…except….
It’s about bike racing, which doesn’t seem to capture the imagination of gamers or very few others in the United States. The next highest ranked bicycle racing game is ranked #1158 and it’s from 1975. Heck, Flamme Rouge is the highest ranked racing game of ANY TYPE PERIOD. For whatever reason, what seems like a genre – racing – seems not to connect with gamers as a whole. And tragically Flamme Rouge crashed on the cobblestones of an unpopular theme.1
Do you know how many dexterity games are in the Top 250? One.
None of the greats of dexterity – Flick ‘Em Up, PitchCar, etc – can crack the top.
Flipships never stood a chance.
Flipships lightens the mood. It is the perfect answer to long games that burn your brain. All you do is flip your ship. Remove the enemy it landed on. Drink your beer.
Of course, said enemies are marching down towards you like the crazed aliens of Space Invaders. And that little coin of a ship you’re flipping has a mind of its own, like a hacked Tesla going crazy in a parking lot. Dexterity games aren’t for everyone, but Flipships is a good place to go if you have an open mindset on them. It may be controversial to put this here. It got the buzz when released but then got caught in the storm of new games following it.
Lords of Vegas
If poker can become a major television event, why can’t a game about casinos become a hit? Look, there are a host of problems with Lords of Vegas. It is completely random as you chuck dice or draw cards every turn. There can be runaway leader issues as one person backs up the Brinks every turn for more money.
And yet, isn’t that so thematically correct in a game about Vegas? When Lords of Vegas works, it destroys relationships as friends and family go after each other. Mothers turn on children, spouses end marriages. All in the name of another casino and a few more dollars.
Honestly, I don’t understand how this game wasn’t more popular.
Truth be told, it may go the way of so many early games. With the game being owned be Mayfair – now sold to Asmodee – there’s a chance it will be out of print for awhile. Criminal, and not of the organized crime variety.
This game is out of print, but there’s still copies available at the online stores and likely the local game stores.
I was debating whether this spot should go to The Networks by Gil Hova or Nemo’s War by Chris Taylor. Both are worthy entries to unjustly underplayed games – likely for the same reason. Both are published by smaller company via Kickstarter and have had limited runs at retail. Both are approachable but sit just a little outside the norm.
So why The Networks instead? Nemo’s War is better rated .
Nemo’s War is without a doubt an aficionado’s game. It is a great game that deserves more love, but it is a more nuanced game that takes more investment. The Networks is immediately approachable. Who hasn’t sat on a couch and thought, “I can run a network better than these clowns?”
Me, for one, after I played The Networks. Hova has developed a pretty thinky game that can punch you in the face if you’re not thinking long term. Yet like a bad episode of The Bachelorette, we still go back for more. The decisions are just so interesting and each turn with only one action, you just feel like you’re never going to do everything you want. The tight constraints keep you tense.
To top it off, the humor is over the top with shows such as Know That Rash! and So You Think You Can Flail. And what show are you going to build around your top star, The Guy Who Yells All The Time? And when do you cancel Babylonian Idol?
Oh, and it’s super playable solo. Actually Nemo is as well. This game is available from Formal Ferret Games.
“But Dr Pynner, we’ve climbed together since the beginning. We’ve stolen the ropes of the other climbers. I’ve shared my oxygen and food. I gave you my prized glider! And now you leave me here at 27,000 feet alone to face the Yeti?”
“Tough luck, kid. There’s only one winner in the race up the mountain.”
“How dare you.”
Take the thematic race game problems of Flamme Rouge, the take that problems of Lords of Vegas, and the small publisher problems of The Networks.
Welcome to Summit: The Board Game.
Summit comes with two modes – co-op and competitive. Only one is worth mentioning. Although co-op may seem attractive for those of you who don’t like conflict, it completely neuters a large portion of the game.
What makes Summit sing is that two axes of decision making. Do I go fast and take risks to win the race up and down the mountain or do I slow down and be steady? And at the same time – how much do I help or hinder the other players? Do I let that climber pass me on the rope for good karma or do I make their gear wet, hurting their health but also costing me karma?
Because at the end of the game, the winner is not just the fastest climber but who has the best combination of speed and good karma. The decisions a climber must make are pointedly difficult and do not reward being either a nice guy or Dick Dastardly. Just like climbing Everest, your victory depends on making the right choices to these questions while climbing a capricious mountain.
This game is available from Inside Up Game.