Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Board Game Top 100 (2024) Part 5 (90-89)

#90 Livingstone

In Livingstone, players are part of Livingstone's expedition, moving down the Zambezi River in Africa, collecting precious gems and meeting with indigenous peoples to gain the favor of the Queen.

Livingstone is a light dice drafting game. Each round you roll a number of dice equal to twice the number of players. Players then take one die on their turn to perform an action. The higher the die that you choose, the stronger the action, but there's a catch. When it comes around to your turn again, you can only take a die that is higher than any you have taken on a previous turn in that round. So, do you take a few weaker actions or one stronger action? Actions include pulling precious gems from a bag, placing a camp, drawing a card, or just getting money. 

Gems have different values, including several that are worth nothing. Gems pulled from the bag stay out (until the single white gem is pulled that puts all sold and worthless gems back in the bag) so it can be valuable to wait until several worthless gems are culled from the bag before pressing your luck with this action.

Each round a little boat moves down a river. When you place a camp you must place your camp in the column above the boat. The higher the die you have chosen, the higher up the column you can place your camp and the more points it is worth. However, at the end of the game points are also scored for having a majority of camps in each row, and here lower rows are more valuable.

When you draw a card, you always only get one regardless of the number on the die so this is a good option when you decide to take that 1 die. Cards can give awesome benefits. Some cards let you exchange gems for victory points. So, you might not want to sell your gems right away, but one of the cards in the deck is a "Mine Collapses" card, and if that is pulled, all gems go back in the bag, even those that were being saved. This creates yet another push your luck element.

Finally, you can just get a number of coins equal to the die face. Placing camps costs money and is the main way to gain victory points. So, everyone needs to get money in order to place their camps. In addition to this, every player has a little treasure chest in front of them. At any time during their turn, a player can put money in the chest. This is your offering to the Queen. In a multiplayer game, the person who gave the least amount of money is automatically eliminated from the game. In a two player game you roll 4 dice at the end, and any player that donated less than the value of the four dice is eliminated. It is possible for both players to lose the game.

I love this game. I have fond memories of playing this with Julie and our two kids. Livingstone is a light family game with dice drafting and press your luck. Which are two of my favorite things. That makes Livingstone my 90th favorite game of all time.

#89 The Quacks of Quedlinburg

In Quacks players are potion brewers concocting curative brews to sell to gullible patrons. Your player board is a big cauldron. You pull ingredients (tokens) from a bag and put them into your cauldron. Garlic is bad for your brew. If you get too much you bust. Quacks is a press your luck bag building game.

In your cauldron the spaces are numbered. The more stuff that you get onto the board (into your cauldron) the higher the numbered space you reach. This gives you resources to buy better ingredients and victory points. If you bust, you get either victory points or you can buy ingredients to add to your bag, but not both. 

You can also get gems at certain points along the track. If you end your turn on a space showing a gem, then you get one. Gems can be used to get certain things, probably the most valuable of which is moving your starting point in the cauldron. This allows you to begin further and further up the spiraling track that gives you points making future turns more and more powerful.

Ingredients have special powers when you play them. Some allow you to mitigate the garlic so that you won't bust so fast. Some give you points. Some push you further along the track in your cauldron. Stuff like that. Powers for the various ingredients are written on cards and these can change from game to game creating a lot of variability.

Quacks is a neat little push your luck game. I believe that this one lands somewhere in Julie's top 20. For me, for now, Quacks of Quedlinburg is my 89th favorite game.

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