Boardgaming 2021: minis are back, baby!

So my group tried Anno 1800 today via TTS and it was very well received. We all suffered great pain in the brain from thinking hard, but it was a good pain. We will definitely be playing it again in the future and two of us are going to purchase the hardcopy as soon as the English version ships.

Thanks for the recommendation.

Honestly, I can’t stand that exaggerated cartoony artwork for the characters in the West Kingdom series. Ugh. I’m happy to scatter resources over their weird little scrunchy faces. But Raiders of Scythia is absolutely gorgeous! I could look at that artwork for days.

So dreamy, right? I also wasn’t super into the North Sea game, but I didn’t give it much time and I only played the digital version. So I’m happy to have its successor in my collection, especially since they’ve obviously been working on their solitaire modes for a while now.


If you didn’t enjoy Raiders of the North Sea, i would temper your expectations for Scythia. They’re very similar. Scythia has a bit more going on mechanically, but the overall structure and flow is pretty much the same.

The card art in Scythia is gorgeous. Each character has such personality; I love it. The graphic design, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired. The icons look good up close, but muddy and hard to differentiate across the table. And the board is cluttered and inelegant, a real step backward compared to the North Sea board.

Graphic design complaints aside, I really like Raiders of Scythia as an improvement on Raiders of the North Sea, which was already a favorite in my household. In fact, I just donated my copy of North Sea to my local library.

Having played it a few times over two winters now, I can say I’m really enjoying Dune: The Board Game (the one from the guys that designed Cosmic Encounter, not the newer worker-placement one). Recommending it comes with a ton of caveats—it’s a bit long (but not as long as people think depending on certain alliance rules), probably needs exactly six players who ideally don’t take games too personally and is best with people who deal with adversity in games well—but if you enjoy a certain level tension or chaos in your board games and can laugh off failure or appreciate the improbable, it’s excellent.

It’s not a game I would probably enjoy playing (even if I could find five other players, which is extremely unlikely even under regular circumstances), but it’s a classic that has survived decades for a reason. Unlike a lot of the creaky old “classics” floating around.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that the only good pre-Knizia designers were the dudes that did Dune/Cosmic Encounter and the guy that did Acquire. I guess excluding wargame designers if you’re into that sort of thing.

The new edition is mostly well done too (never played earlier versions). It doesn’t have tons of pointless plastic so it’s lightweight and fairly cheap.

You may rest assured that there were a lot of fantastic boardgame designers pre-Knizia, and not just in the pure wargame field either. What an odd thing to believe.

It’s entirely subjective of course, but older designs rarely do much for me. I’m mostly into modern German-style games and (most) older games I’ve played (e.g., Titan, Britannia, Magic Realm, History of the World, Axis & Allies, some more I can’t remember) tended to be lots of chrome, lots of dice, and not of much interest to me. Different tastes and all that.


I assume @triggercut is pulling your leg, because everyone knows good boardgame design wasn’t invented until 2008. Even then, it eludes probably 90% of the people who make boardgames.


Look, I remember that the average demo here tracks older and I do not mean to ruin anyone’s childhoods. Enjoy what you want, but don’t expect me to enjoy the same.

Hm, I’d point to 1998-2008 being the ‘golden age’ of game design since every-other game wasn’t a worker placement or a deck builder then, but that’s me. I do like several of those type of games, but I also like variety. I can’t win here!

Hobbit Stratego

Back in the 80’s I owned Avalon’s Hill release of Dune, which I’ve been told is very similar, if not identical, to the new release. I played it HUNDREDS of times…so often that I WORE OUT many of the components and actually had to buy another copy!

I even entered the Dune 1982 Origin’s tourney, so yeah, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the game. Regarding the comments Dissensus made:

The game plays most excellently with just two to three players, if you adopt a couple of house rules :

  • Each player plays two factions. Those two factions use the alliance rules. We would pick the factions randomly, and oddly enough we never really felt the game unbalanced REGARDLESS of the alliance pair chosen! Yes, I’ve seen an Emperor/Guild alliance claim choam charity multiple turns in a row! Yes, it’s as pathetic as it sounds, but is also the source of much merriment from the other players!
  • Share the alliance-pair’s money, although keep their cards separate.
  • You can never spend more money than you have, even if it’s money flowing between the alliance pair (buying a card from the emperor or paying the guild to land troops).

I’ve noticed that the forums keep indicating that the game is long., Heh. Not. My. Experience. Maybe the folks I played with were just a lot more aggressive - more experienced with the game most certainly. Most of the starting on-board army tokens were in the tank by turn 2 or 3 in the games we played, which meant the end game started immediately afterwards and consisted of little 1-3 man armies fighting over the Sietchs for the win. Bene Gesserit win prediction was pretty much always picked as turn 2-5, for example, rarely later.

Dune is still one of my favorite games of all time.

“Fear is the Mindkiller” - ALWAYS uttered when landing my single army token against an enemy’s 10 army stack.

Look, just because it hadn’t been invented doesn’t mean no one stumbled onto it from time to time. See also Cosmic Encounters and, uh…okay, those might be the only two. Cosmic Encounter and Reiner Knizia’s Hobbit Stratego.

And don’t try to bring up something like Advanced Squadron Leader. I’m talking about boardgames, not wargames.


RE: Dune: The Old Boardgame And Not Imperium

Oooh, I love this! But given how many people have a hard time wrapping their heads around playing a solitaire game with multiple characters (“Waaah, I don’t wanna dual-hand!” they screech, as if they’ve never played a party-based CRPG), I wonder if it would be a tough sell.

There’s no way around the fact that it’s a long game. Any long game will be shorter with experienced players, of course. But Dune is a long game. It’s designed that way because part of what hadn’t been discovered back in 1981 or whenever is that games don’t need to be long and lots of people would prefer playing three shorter games instead of one game that hasn’t learned games don’t need to be long.

Have you tried the new Dune, @SamF7? It’s a really lousy solitaire design, but I’m really psyched to get the required three people together to try it.


I’ve played it a few times in the past year on Tabletop Simulator. Just sayin’.

That makes sense, so I should say that it needs exactly six factions to work well. I also think the timing complaints are somewhat overblown: my longest game has been about four hours and that was the first game. The longest after that was about 3 ½ hours, but I’ve also had a game end during round two, so the length is certainly variable. There are also variants included that can shorten the game. So far, I find that playing with max 3-players per alliance needing four strongholds to win or max 2-players per alliance needing three strongholds to win are the best tradeoffs between time and playability.

It really is well balanced considering how different the factions are. It’s such that even when the game develops in a way that doesn’t benefit a certain faction, that faction is still absolutely capable of winning. For example, in my last game, I was the Emperor and people weren’t spending much on bidding so I was poorer than expected, but my alliance still would have won if not for the opposing alliance inexplicably having both of our best leaders as traitors.

It’s so good.

I think five players is just as good as six. Possibly better, since playing the Bene Gesserit well is really hard. I can’t do it.

They’re great allies, but yeah, seem very limited in how you can play them. But, winning with their ‘prediction’ special victory must be one of the best feelings in board gaming (up there with winning as the Cosmic Encounter alien that wins when you lose all your ships).

I had a Bene Gesserit player (who I was not allied with) unexpectedly help me in a battle that would have given me the victory. I saw what was happening, so I threw the battle – I deliberately lost.

She was bluffing.