10/4/2023 – Berkshire Gamers Session Report #23-39

17 at the Uno Park Community Center for an evening to honor the game design of prolific German game designer Dr Reiner Knizia

Welcome to Gustavo and Rachel on their first visits
Even if one discounts all the reissues/reskinning/retheming of his 600+ games, the ability of Herr Knizia to design mostly simple games that have a high degree of user interaction and replayability is astounding. When I organized my Long Island Gamenites in the early 1990’s, most of these games were brand new and introduced us to a different style of gaming over the then current norm of American games. That most of these games have been reissued several times, speaks to their solid elegant design. Despite getting so many games to our tables, there are still some of Knizia’s notable games that we didn’t get to play – especially the Blue Moon/Blue Moon City series, Samurai, Amun Re and Taj Mahal. We did play some of his auction games – Ra, Modern Art and TraumFabrik/Dream Factory in previous sessions on that game mechanism and on show business.
Our October 11 session is a request night – so email me with what you’d like to bring, play or lead.
10/4/2023 Community Center at Uno Park
IN: Steve, Sean & Wendy, Tim, Armando, Amy & Ethan, Danny, Drew, Nicole & Gustavo, Tony & Rachel, Chris W, Reimi, Rachel (friend of Ethan), Rob

Lost Cities

3x (led by Tim, Chris, Mike) 1999 2-player game of archeological expeditions. The object of the game is to gain points by mounting profitable archaeological expeditions to the different sites represented by the colored suits of cards. On a player’s turn, they must first play one card, either to an expedition or by discarding it to the color-appropriate discard pile, then draw one card, either from the deck or from the top of a discard pile. Cards played to expeditions must be in ascending order, but they need not be consecutive. Handshakes are considered lower than a 2 and represent investments in an expedition while multiplying both profits and losses. Starting an expedition has a cost of 20, so there is inherent risk. 

   The original game had 5 expeditions, where the current edition has the option for a 6th grey expedition with a 2-sided board for 5 and 6 expedition games. Original editions can be expanded with the optional 6th expedition card set.

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation

(led by Drew) 2002 asymmetrical Stratego-like game themed around The Lord of the Rings. Each player controls a force of 9 unique characters (light vs. dark) whose identities are hidden from their opponent at the beginning of the game. Each player also starts with a hand of 9 unique cards, which are used in resolving combats as the characters move out across the board. The victory conditions of the players are also asymmetrical: the Fellowship player wins by moving Frodo into Mordor (thus destroying the One Ring), while the Evil player wins either by killing Frodo or by moving 3 Evil characters into the Shire.

Tabula Rasa/Knights of Charlemagne

2x (led by K-ban, Danny) 1995  game where players play cards in an effort to acquire tiles that are either color-coded or number-coded. Players take turns, first playing a card onto a tile that matches either the card’s number or its color, then drawing to refill their hands. When all cards have been played, each tile is evaluated, and whichever player has the most cards played to that tile gets that tile’s points. After calculating point totals and figuring in bonuses, the player with the highest score is the winner. It plays well with 2 players but shines with 3. There are some similarities to Knizia’s Schotten-Totten/Battleline.


(led by Sean) 2023 tile placement/area influence game that is a current thematic revision of the Samurai Card Game. Surround 3 different types of insects to win tokens. The scoring system is shared with the original Samurai board game and is difficult to explain without examples. Sean’s copy had the upgraded insect tokens.

Keltis Card Game

(led by K-ban) 2009 card game that has Knizia revisiting Lost Cities and making some interesting changes to play. Players have a hand of cards, playing or discarding one card each turn on piles of the same color then drawing one card. Each of the five colors includes two ‘finishing cards’, and these cards can be played on a stack of the matching color at any time, after which no further number cards can be added to that stack; once five finishing cards have been played, or the deck has been exhausted, the game ends. The important changes from Lost Cities are that one’s cards can either be in ascending or descending order and that playing two same numbered cards earn a player wishing stones. Add your points for groups of cards played and for wishing stones for your final total. I personally like this better than Lost Cities and it can expand to 3 or 4 players.

Don’t L.L.A.M.A. Dice

(led by Tim) 2021 push your luck game. With the right roll of the dice, you can rid yourself of number cards — but you’ll need to quit at the right time before you possibly bomb out and collect a lot of minus points. You can possibly ditch these points later, but you’ll need the perfect number roll or triple llama luck. Light filler.

Crazy Derby/Trendy/Whaleriders Card Game

(led by Sean) 2000 retheming of the card game, Trendy with animals instead of fashion designers. This game has a unique tempo – do you follow the trend or start a new one?


(led by K-ban) 1995 perceived value auction game played on the original German Amigo edition.(since reprinted several times since the original went OOP) Bid to your opponent’s ‘point of pain’ in a series of once around auctions…where players are securing cargo both for the products and for bulk weight. You are bidding with your VPs so some self-control is imperative. Rumor has it that there will be a crowd-funded new edition from SteamForged – perhaps they will get the colors right.

High Society

2x (led by Armando, Drew) 1995 auction/set collection game where players bid against each other to acquire the various trappings of wealth (positive-number and multiplier cards) while avoiding its pitfalls (negative number and divisor cards). While bidding, though, keep an eye on your remaining cash – at the end of the game, even though all those positive-number cards might add up to a win, the player with the least money isn’t even considered for victory.

Through the Desert

(led by Sean) 1998 network and route building games with pastel camels. Each player attempts to score the most points by snaking caravan routes through the desert, trying to reach oases and blocking off sections of the desert. All-Play will be crowdfunding a new version with expansions at the end of October.

Honey Bears/Bucket Brigade

(led by Armando) 1998 card game with a racing track. Players use colored cards (numbered 1 or 2) to move four colored wooden bear tokens along a track. The color that wins the race makes cards in that color worth +3 at the end of the round. The other three, depending on how far they advanced, are worth anywhere from +2 to -1. The Knizia twist here is that only the cards remaining in your hand when one bear crosses the finish line score points….so do you use cards to move or score? My friend, Ward, thinks the red bears are, by far, the fastest.

Tigris & Euphrates

(led by Drew) 1997 area control game and regarded as Knizia’s masterpiece.  It is set in the ancient fertile crescent with players building civilizations through tile placement. Players are given four different leaders: farming, trading, religion, and government. The leaders are used to collect victory points in these same categories. However, your score at the end of the game is the number of points in your weakest category, which encourages players not to get overly specialized. Conflict arises when civilizations connect on the board, i.e., external conflicts, with only one leader of each type surviving such a conflict. Leaders can also be replaced within a civilization through internal conflicts.

Quandary/Flinke Pinke/Loco/Botswana/Thor/Wildlife Safari

(led by K-ban)  We played the 1994 Milton Bradley 4-player version, described as a game of placement, shares and nerves. This edition has chunky heavy tiles. Players in turn lay numbered/colored tiles on tracks curling to the center, and then take a Quandary tile share in any colour. The round ends when a single track is filled. Scoring is based on your total shares multiplied by the value of the final tile played on each track. Perceived value with brinkmanship blended in….a very subtle game that keeps getting reprinted/rethemed because it simply works!


Ingenious/Einfach Genial

(led by Sean) 2004 tile laying game where players take turns placing colored domino-style tiles on a game board, scoring for each line of colored symbols that they enlarge. The trick, however, is that a player’s score is equal to their worst-scoring color, not their best, so they need to score for all colors instead of specializing in only one or two.

King Domino

(led by Drew) 2016 Bruno Catha SdJ winner – Drew needed a short filler that could be played 2-handed so all tables would get caught up. 



17 at the Uno Park Community Center for an evening to honor the game design of prolific German game designer Dr Reiner Knizia Welcome to Gustavo and Rachel on their first visits Even if one discounts all the reissues/reskinning/retheming of his 600+ games, the ability of Herr Knizia to design mostly simple games that have…

17 at the Uno Park Community Center for an evening to honor the game design of prolific German game designer Dr Reiner Knizia Welcome to Gustavo and Rachel on their first visits Even if one discounts all the reissues/reskinning/retheming of his 600+ games, the ability of Herr Knizia to design mostly simple games that have…

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