Transcript of our podcast from 4 January 2010

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Top Ten Unique Games

by Moritz Eggert

Unusual games can normally not be compared, so it's difficult to say this and that game is better than another. Please note that this is not a weighted list, the order is therefore not of importance- these are just 10 very unusual games that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in gaming beyond the borders of common games.

So here they are: my top ten unique games.

  1. "Stomp!" published by "Chaosium"
    This very rare ziplock fantasy hex and counter game is unusual in that one player only plays one persona: the giant! The neat idea is that the giant is represented by 2 huge feet, one foot is one counter. You see, little elves have invaded the garden of the giant Thunderpamper and he now tries to stomp the Elves while they try to ensnare his two giant legs. A silly but somehow endearing game!

  2. "Warebon" published by "Z-Man Games"
    When Z-Man Games was still a small and relatively unknown company they published this very unusual game that is actually a mixture between a wargame and an adventure gamebook, but is played by 2 players. Armies are represented by bookmarks and move from page to page- each page spread represents a location with special rules. It is a unique idea that doesn't really work, but is the only game of its kind and worth checking out. Please note: the game is listed as "Warchon" on Boardgamegeek, not under its printed name "Warebon", I have no idea why....

  3. "Disk Wars" published by Fantasy Flight
    Long before pre-painted collectable miniatures became the norm there was a very strange collectable wargame by Fantasy Flight that basically consisted of armies represented by cardboard disks of various size. The disks were moved by flipping them over a number of times on an empty tabletop with other disks representing terrain and such - the larger the disk the farther it moved obviously. If you flipped a disk on another disk it attacked it. Ranged combat was handled by tipping a disk filled with smaller counters and pouring them over the battle field. The counters that landed on a disk counted as a hit. Even though this was a very strange game by all standards it enjoyed 1-2 years of success and saw many expansions. Fantasy Flight still has come a long way since that game which is now completely forgotten and not played at all anymore.

  4. "Triumph of Chaos" published by Clash of Arms
    I should not forget mentioning this newer game by the legendary Dave Dockter, an attempt to simulate the Russian Civil War with expanded "Paths of Glory" rules boosted by myriads of special rules and exceptions. The game is incredibly obtuse and results in completely random situations on a map that looks like it has been designed in a mental asylum. You never have complete control of the situation, there never is any clear front, and everywhere armies can spring out of nowhere and suddenly attack you. Some armies even constantly change sides. In all it's complexity this remains a strangely compelling and even realistic game that is actually a good portrayal of the Russian Civil War, surely one of the craziest periods in human history. Not a game for the faint-hearted, though....

  5. "The Hell Game" by UGG
    A game so evil that Tom actually refused to review it a while ago. Players control various demons roaming the 9 circles of hell, while pitting devil hounds and other minions at each other. Somehow all this was meant as a kind of parody of heavy metal Satanism (no surprise: the designer is Swedish) and it is not really that serious a game, but the research into various literary descriptions of hell are quite painstakingly done and the graphic design is disturbing to say the least. Even though I only tried the game once and never finished it I actually feel that my eternal soul is endangered just by owning it! I hope Tom's prayers can protect me!

  6. "John Carter - Warlord of Mars" by SPI
    This legendary game is based on the wonderful novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs which fired the imagination of many a young boy with its wild descriptions of Martian landscapes and customs. For some reason SPI went for a full approach - a complete simulation of the worlds of John Carter, like a role playing game. Players can do anything they want - roam the countryside, explore, rescue damsels in distress or lead military conquests, all this with a relatively light rules set. A novel approach was that players take turns playing the evil overlord enemy of John Carter. The combat system was hampered by the fact that one moved counters over a tiny grid of squares and that it took ages to get from one end of the room to another, but still this is an imaginative and highly unusual game.

  7. "Swashbuckler" by Yacquinto
    This game was already mentioned by the mighty Geoff Engelstein, and I can absolutely agree with him that this is a great, unjustly forgotten game. In fact I spent many hours with friends in my youth gaming unbelievably funny battles in which tables in a tavern were overturned, you jumped on them, then swung from a chandelier with kicking legs and then waved hats in the faces of your opponents to distract them. Like in "Diplomacy" this game uses simultaneous hidden orders, but unlike "Diplomacy" the fun was in playing the turn and seeing what mad things would happen and which actions you would actually be able to manage. "Roborally" feels like it got a lot of inspiration from this classic.

  8. "Junta" by various publishers
    Who could forget this mad, mad game about a banana republic, in which the president tries to grease the palms of his underlings each turn, but never seems to have enough money to prevent them from trying to overthrow his regime? In the right mood, with the right crowd this game can be extremely funny, especially when the assassin comes into play and you have to decide if you are at home, at the bank or with your mistress. Absolutely don't play this game with serious people!
  9. I have often talked about this game, but "Magic Realm" published by Avalon Hill and hopefully to be re-published by Z-Man games soon most certainly counts as one of the most unique and different games ever designed by a human. I cannot even begin to describe the uniqueness of this game, so just trust me - once you look past it's only failing, which is that the rules are hard to wade through; you will encounter a work of art.

  10. "City of Chaos" published by Monocle Games
    Another game I have already talked about. Not a perfectly designed game, but the designers have to be applauded in trying something REALLY different. Players explore a huge randomly created fantasy city that is populated by incredibly weird creatures and guilds. Each encounter is about the unexpected - this is not your usual run-of-the-mill fantasy world with elves and orcs, but rather a steampunk-influenced world with strange but somehow consistent inventions and crazy ideas. Once you played this game you will never forget it, and that is more than can be said about most games we play...

I hope you enjoyed my little sub-list of unique games, and wish you a most wonderful and happy new year from Munich, city of famous beers!

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2010, Westpark Gamers