Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Board Game Top 100 (2024) Part 40 (18-17)

#18 Dorfromantik: The Board Game

This is the cooperative version of a game that I already had on my list at #74. Both games see players placing hex tiles to form a small village. In the competitive version each player creates their own little village, but in the cooperative version that I am writing about now, the village is a larger shared project.


All hex tiles have some feature element of a quaint country village on it. (Dorfromantik is a German word that refers to the feeling of nostalgia that a person gets when thinking about a peaceful life in a small country village.) There are cottages, and forests, and fields, and rivers, and railroad tracks.

Each of the five features appears on the various hex tiles. In fact, there are usually two such features on a tile or even three if you have a railroad track or river running between two other features for example. Aside from these elements, the tiles themselves come in two varieties. There's a basic tile, and there's a goal tile. 

The two types of tiles are very similar, but the goal tile will have a tiny picture of a little person on it and they will be saying something in a little speech bubble. The speech bubble contains a symbol. The symbol represents one of the five village features. When you place a goal tile, you draw a random goal token to put on top of it.

Goal tokens are little cardboard chits with the symbol for a feature on one side and a number from 4-6 on the other. At the start of the game, you turn all of the chits number side down, and mix them around. When you place a goal tile, you find one of the chits showing the matching symbol (from the speech bubble on the goal tile) and flip it over. You place the goal token, number side up, on top of the goal tile.

Now you have a feature and a number. This establishes your goal. You want to create a group of connecting tiles of the goal tile feature equal to the number on the goal token without going over (just like the Price is Right.) Once you do this, you collect the goal token and keep it to show that this goal is completed. Collected goal tokens contribute to your score at the end of the game.

To start the game, you place out three goal tiles one at a time. Then, you play with the basic tiles until one of the goals has been met. At this point you place a new goal tile. As long as there are goal tiles available, you must always have three active goals. 

The game ends when you run out of basic tiles to play. We have never run out of goal tiles. But, here's the thing … our first game, we were just learning. After our first game, based on our score, we got to unlock some new tiles. That's right: new tiles! More and different goals and things to do that gradually get added to the game as you play.

Unlocking new things is a big part of Dorfromantik. It kept Julie and I playing game after game. It was fun. Each game we played to try to get the highest score that we could to see what new things we unlocked. Dorfromantik doesn't have a winner or loser. You just play to try to get the best score that you can in order to unlock some new prezzies!

Your mileage may vary (one reviewer on the Dice Tower dissed Dorfromantik, calling it, "pointless") but Julie and I embraced the very relaxed nature of Dorfromantik, and loved playing to unlock new things. It was so much fun that I believe both Julie and I agree that Dorfromantik was our number one game of last year.

The two-player competitive duel version removes the unlockable stuff and instead has players play competitively against each other to earn the most points by completing the most objectives. The game play is still fun, but I liked the unlocking stuff and the larger sprawling shared village in the cooperative game a lot more.

Oh, and Dorfromantik is the 2023 Spiel des Jahres Winner. That's the German family board game of the year. It's the most prestigious honor that a board game can get! So, if anything that I have said about Dorfromantik: The Board Game sounds good to you, go check it out!


#17 Hadara

Hadara is a set collection tableau building game with a civilization building theme. In the game players draft cards to move up on four tracks: income, culture, military and food. There are five types of cards in the game. Four of the card types match one of the four tracks, and will advance you up that track a given amount. The fifth card type gives players special powers that can help them during the game, but it won't advance you on the tracks.


Each card type has its own deck of cards. These decks have a number of cards equal to two times the number of players. (Unused cards are returned to the box.) On your turn you draw two cards from one of the decks and pick one of them to keep, placing the other back on the board face up.

The five different card decks are shuffled and arranged in draw piles around the sides of a pentagon (5 sided) shaped board. Each of the five sides of the pentagon board has a designated spot to place one of the decks. In the center of this board is a sort of wheel that shows five different symbols on it. These symbols are also represented on five different player boards.

The first player turns the wheel in the center of the pentagon board so that the symbol on their player board is lined up with the side of the board containing the deck of cards that they want to draw from. They then draw two cards from this deck. At the same time, all other players draw cards from the deck on the side of the board where their player symbol has landed.

Each player chooses the card that they want to keep by paying its cost in coins and then places the other card face up in a discard pile next to the deck that they had drawn from. After all players have discarded a card, the wheel in the center of board is rotated one space clockwise and then all players draw again, this time from the new space that matches the symbol on their player board.

This continues until all players have drawn cards from all five deck positions on the pentagon board. Then there's a sort of interim scoring phase, and after this, players take turns drafting cards from the top of one of the face up discard piles. This time players are not restricted by the position of the wheel. They get to take cards from any place they want, choosing cards in turn order.

If a player ever finds themself with two cards that they can't afford, or they simply don't like the two cards on offer, they still choose one to keep and one to discard, but instead of adding the card that they chose to keep to their player board, they immediately cash it in for some extra coins.

Once all of the cards are gone from the pentagon board, the round ends. Another interim scoring phase occurs, and new card decks are placed out. Each of the card decks has a number on the back that matches the current round of the game, and the game lasts three rounds. Points are scored for sets of cards, for positions on tracks, and for certain milestones. The player with the most points is the winner.

Hadara is a really interesting card drafting game that features a couple of different ways to draft cards. The two phases of each round integrate seamlessly, and Hadara has a great momentum that moves the game pleasantly forward. It's one of those games that's over before you know it and is easy to set back up and play again. Also, it plays great at two players.


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