Looking back #2: Forbidden secrets, and abstract bears

It’s time to go back and look at five of the games I reviewed three years ago and add them to The List. Here you can visit the original reviews, find out if I’ve kept or culled them, and what I think of the games in 2021.

Today we’ll be looking at: Secrets, Forbidden Desert, Go Cuckoo, Hanamikoji, Barenpark

#5 Secrets

Original Review

Earning it’s spot at the bottom is Secrets. It came out around the time a lot of other social deduction games did, and had all the mechanisms of a game that could of taken the board gaming world by storm. Unfortunately, it fell flatter than a pancake run over by a steam roller. The hidden roles didn’t last long enough to create mystery, and then created situations where you effectively couldn’t play the game any more.

The components and art of this board game are both so good, it’s a shame the design doesn’t live up to the same standards. I’d love to see them take another shot and make a 2nd edition, because it does have some of my favourite mechanics.

Initial Rank: 16

Kept or Culled: Culled

The components are still phenomenal by today’s standards

#4 Barenpark

Original Review

Unfortunately for Barenpark, polynomial tile laying is my third least favourite modern day mechanic – smells like an article in the making. Unlike other strategy focused board games, the thought process in polynomial tile laying games gets easier as the game goes a long. When your board fills up; you have less and less options. Until it ends up being a toddler shape sorter – you have to put the square block into the square cut-out.

That said, Barenpark is the best or second best polynomial tile laying game I’ve played. It’s a great family board game, or gateway game, where you might not want to think long and hard about your next move and instead want to build a park for adorable little bears.

I’m still unreasonably upset that Koalas are in this game.

Initial Rank: 13

Kept or Culled: Culled

A finished park!

#3 Go Cuckoo

Original Review

My son and nephew are beyond the age of putting everything in their mouths. Now it’s just the couch cover, and chocolate. Go Cukoo is the board game I’ve been using to indoctrinate them into our wonderful hobby.

Its ease of set up, and packing up is a massive plus in this regard. The small container it comes in helps with this as well, and makes travelling and storing this board game a non-issue. Which I think is why I’ve held onto this one over some other dexterity board games.

In terms of game play, it’s a fantastic dexterity game. The only downside is once the nest gets to a stable enough point it kind of sucks the fun out of the game, as it’s too easy to place eggs. This issue dissipates once you’ve player a few games and realise that your goal isn’t to build a sturdy nest. It’s to build a chaotic one. If the next player isn’t hating you for your stick placement, you’re doing it wrong.

Initial Rank: 10

Kept or Culled: Kept

A mess of a nest

#2 Forbidden Desert

Original Review

For a few years Forbidden Desert was my favourite go to board game, it’s a fantastic gateway game, and family game. It fits snuggly between Pandemic, and Pandemic: On the Brink in terms of fun-ness, and complexity but beats them both in ease of setup. Making it a board game that I could pull out and play whenever the mood struck.

My opinion hasn’t changed much from my initial review. It’s still a brilliant game, and I do love how it plays with the 3D space – something I haven’t seen done as well since.

It’s not higher on The List because newer board games have brought more depth to this decision space, as well as my taste changing and yearning for more complex games. Still giving it an initial rank of 8 means that if someone were to offer to play this game with me right now, while I’m in my boxers with a tea in my hand. I would say yes!

I might even get changed first.

Initial Rank: 8

Kept or Culled: Culled

Feeling nostalgic looking at this picture

#1 Hanamikoji

Original Review

Hanamikoji is one of those special games where even though it’s a small game, it requires a lot of thought to play. Not due to complexity, but rather the profound impact of your every move. You’ll be agonizing over the following questions: What cards are you playing? What cards are you discarding? How are you going to breathe when offering these cards?

That last question is only half in jest. Two actions each round require you to make an offering to the other player, and during these trades you need to do your utmost to hide your true intent. While you’re trying make them take a bad deal, they’re trying their best to defend against it. But neither of you will have full information on the other player.

It creates excruciating decisions each turn; you’ll want to do so much more than you actually can. Leading up to the climax at the end of the round where you get to see which card the other player was hiding, and figure out who gets the geisha, and who ends up a geisha-less chump.

If you’re in the market for a small two player thinky game, you can do a lot worse than Hanamikoji.

Initial Rank: 5

Kept or Culled: Kept

Absolutely gorgeous artwork

This puts us on 18 games now stack ranked on The Board Game List! Looking to hit the big 2-0 soon. You can continue to see this list grow in real-time by hitting the follow button down below.

David Norris

Lover of dogs, books, comics, movies, anime, television, video games and most importantly board games. My site is all about the latter, and my journey through the glorious hobby.

One thought on “Looking back #2: Forbidden secrets, and abstract bears

Test your charisma

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s