Eliminating the Shame (Getting Games Played)

 In one of my recent video podcast Across Boarders, my co-host Noe and I discussed the top five games on my shelf of shame- the top five games that I owned but had yet to play. The five games that I selected are listed below in order.

5- Dice Throne
4- Dune Imperium
3- Galaxy Hunters
2- Scythe
1- In the Hall of the Mountain King

Each one of these games were mentioned for various reasons. Obviously I was excited, perhaps even anxious to get them played or else they wouldn't have been included on the list. Some were unplayed due to how new they were to my collection. Some were unplayed while I waited for a group conducive to the title. Some of them remained stuck inside their boxes due to the self-perceived difficulty I had assigned to them which caused reservations in taking them off the shelf.

I am happy to report that since the list was created and the podcast recorded, I have played them all! Were they worth the wait? Did they deserve such a lofty spot in my list and my gamer-consciousness? Read my initial thoughts of each one in reverse order of how much I liked them.

5- Galaxy Hunters

Galaxy Hunters is a worker-placement game involving giant mechs getting upgrades and attacking mutants for DNA. Sounds like a blast! And it was okay. There is definitely a solid game spread out over your entire table, but it does have some critical weaknesses.
  • It takes up so much space (perhaps ironically)! Luckily, I remembered that my table had an unused leaf to expand it. If not, there was absolutely no way this could be played at three or four players. It was fairly cramped even at three (see picture below.)

  • The best worker placement games give each player a sense of urgency. There should be two or three locations on the board you feel you HAVE to get to this round, and if you're not sitting at the edge of your seat constantly screaming, "No! Not there! I need that spot!" on the inside, then it's probably a little too loose. 

    In our three-player game, there were at least two spots available at each location. If players reach a certain level of fame, new spots open up for them. Mechs act like a grande worker in Viticulture, allowing players to land on a planet without another mech to gain the resources even if there are no docks for the ships (your "workers"). There's even a planet that allows you to copy the abilities of any other planet, so long as you can pay for it. Players pretty much can easily do whatever they need to each round. The only restriction seems to be the number of ships you have to place out, and the only time you'll be wishing for a player to do something else is if there's a particular mutant you want to take care of.

  • There are so very many symbols! Yes, the rule book explains each and every one of them, but we were constantly looking at the rule book concerning upgrades and new cards that came out. Sure, we'd probably memorize what different icons meant exactly if it was played a half-dozen more times, but that seems unrealistic.

  • Keeping up with the TEN different resources (which includes debt and hull damage) on the large resource track boards that each player has is EXTREMELY fiddly! I'm not sure how they could have done anything different off the top of my head, but it seems like the number of resources was unnecessary and that debt and hull damage could have been a card that players kept.
With all of this said, it was still an enjoyable experience. But with the time it took to set the game up, the sprawl of it, and the constant nose-dives into the rule book, it seems unlikely this will ever be in the regular rotation of games I get to play. It's a shame, really. I had super high expectations for this game.


4- Dice Throne

This one might be a little of a cheat as I only played it online, but I'm going to count it anyway! My blog, my rules. Call me Ameri-trash, but I have always enjoyed rolling dice. It's just satisfying. A two-player dice combat game seems like something I'd really love. And I did.

When players see all the tokens and cards that are involved in the game, particularly those who are newer to gaming, it might appear to be overwhelming at first. However, once you sit down and actually play, it's very intuitive and makes perfect sense. 

Is it random? Sure. Do I blame luck (or the lack thereof) to my loss? Absolutely not! Although there are dice, the choices to either keep what combos you currently have or to go for broke and try for the more powerful abilities make the game interesting. Each character has certain styles of play along with strengths and weaknesses. I like that a lot!

And you can't forget about that production! Amazing!


3- Dune Imperium

I wanted to play this with at least three flesh-and-blood people the first time I played. Sure, you can play it with two players or even as a solo experience, but I didn't want the maiden voyage to the planet Arrakis to be accompanied with a robot or a deck of cards acting in the role of a human. The opportunity finally presented itself to sit down and play it at the four player max, and it was worth the wait.

While the game might look complicated, everyone at the table- from the novices among us to seasoned veterans of board gaming- quickly became adept as the rounds went by. Once it was over, we all felt like there were nuances we would try to exploit the next time we played it.

The mix of worker placement, deck building, and combat was intriguing. Scoring was tight throughout. Don't forget about the Intrigue cards! Keep an eye on who has them, who is using them, and who is trying to hide them from you. They can be powerful, but not overwhelmingly so. Using one with victory points at the end of the game almost allowed me to steal the victory, but I was just short. 

Dune Imperium is definitely a keeper!


2- In the Hall of the Mountain King

When I would listen to reviews of In the Hall of the Mountain King, everyone would rave about the cascading resources when you added a troll to your "trolls moot." It sounded like a fun mechanic and a unique way to gain resources, but I was just as interested in the tile placement of digging tunnels toward the heart of the mountain. Tile laying games are among my favorite as I enjoy spatial puzzles. Putting the two of those things together seemed like a match made in troll heaven.

I was not disappointed. Even with two players constantly needing reminders of the order of a turn, the game went by snappy. The rules are quite intuitive and amassing a load of resources as your add to your horde deserves the hype it received. But don't forget about tile placement. If you enjoy tile placement games but want to experience them in a new way, highly recommended!


1- Scythe

Sheesh! So many people like this game. This one seems to be a mainstay on top ten lists everywhere. I get it. Oh, my gosh, I get it! Simply put, I love it. It went from game I've never played to a game I want everything for. I've been scouring online for a copy of The Rise of Fenris (to no avail), and have favorited upgraded components, metal coins, and other expansions.

This might be my favorite board game ever! I compare my feelings for it to when I first played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I couldn't stop talking about it. I want to play this one again. Immediately!


The Current Shame Pile

This is my new top five. Keep in mind that I didn't own some of these when I made my original list, so this isn't merely a 6-10, but an entirely new countdown. 

5- Fort

Deck building? Check! Fun theme? Check! Great components? Check! Plus, it was a Christmas gift from a good friend. This one needs to get to the table soon.

4- Medium

I enjoy a party game every now and again, and this one sounds like a great one! Two players each lay down a word card, count to three, and then say a word that is somewhere in between the word present on each card. Hopefully, each player will get it right the first time. There is a way to keep score, but it's probably fun even without the competition (but there will be competition).

3- Cascadia

This is a Kickstarter that just delivered. Another tile laying game, but this one has an added layer of placing animals in the correct habitat spaces in ways that score the most points. Of all the games on this new list, this is the one that has the best shot at getting played soon. I'll probably run it solo before the week is over, but it's unplayed at the time of writing, so it counts!

2- Tortuga 2199

I enjoy deck building quite a bit, so here's another one. In Tortuga 2199 (one of my most anticipated games of 2021- I have a separate blog entry on it, if you're interested), players are space pirates who are adding people to their crew, battling one another, controlling planets, and defeating mutants. The play mat is absolutely massive! Can't wait to play!

1- Sleeping Gods

I have never played a Ryan Laukat game before, but this one seems as good as any to change that. This one has been on my radar ever since I first saw that cover on the Dice Tower's most anticipated of 2020. This one should be played soon- just waiting on confirmation from a couple friends to begin our first journey in the Manticore.


  1. It's one of my favorite posts Buddy!! Love being part of it :) Also I will probably get Tortuga soon. Thinking about it! Awesome post!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts