Looking back #4: Pandas Cities, and Vampire Kitties

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.

This week we’re ranking: Suburbia, Dixit, Takenoko, Exploding Kittens, and Vampires vs Unicorns: Floor War.

#5 Vampires vs Unicorns Floor War

Original Review

This is the worst game I’ve reviewed.

Not because it’s bad, it’s that there isn’t any game here. This is the kind of game you and your friends came up with back in high school. When the teacher left the room for 15 minutes and you were thinking of something to do. I was way too positive in my review. Looking back I’m glad that I changed my review format, because it was a struggle to think of positives and negatives for every game.

The art in Vampires vs Unicorns Floor War rocked though. Loved the surrealism of it.

Anyway, this game takes last place on the list purely because it’s under designed, and memories of forcing myself to play it multiple times still wake me up in a cold sweat.

Initial Ranking: 41

Kept or Culled: Culled

All of the artwork for Vampires vs Unicorns. The unicorn artwork is colourful, and wild, while the vampire artwork is black and white as though still photos from the 1920s.
Love the artwork!

#4 Exploding Kittens

Original Review

Speaking of cold sweats.

I never thought, given the chance, I’d refuse to play a board game. But after five or six games of Exploding Kittens I was D-O-N-E. My thoughts on the game haven’t changed since I didn’t recommend it 3 years ago.

But I do have an interesting anecdote.

Maybe about two years ago, I was contacted by someone claiming to be from Exploding Kittens. Saying my pictures were of a counterfeit game, and asked me to take them down. As they were showing up high in Google images.

It was a warm and friendly email, and sounds fair enough. It was my friend’s game. I don’t know where he got it from. So I took the images down. Let them know, and then was met with steely silence. I thought they’d at least respond but nothing.

Since then the cynic and conspiracy theorist in me have raised their heads and gone – ‘old on what’s all this then? My current thinking is they emailed me so that people wouldn’t be taken to my negative review. Which while being a dick move, also makes a lot of sense.

You tell me. Am I crazy?

Anyway, Exploding Kittens beats out Munchkin because its an improvement on the Munchkin formula, and only takes a fraction of the time.

Initial Ranking: 39

Kept or Culled: Culled

All of the exploding cat cards for Exploding Kittens.
Another game where it looks great, until you start playing.

#3 Dixit

Original Review

This is where things get tough.

Dixit is a great game, and I’ve played it countless times over the years. It might hold the title for the longest time a board game has been in my collection, but I’ve had to pick up several expansions to keep it fresh.

However, I haven’t played it in maybe a year or more. Even now when I look at it, there’s other games that I’d rather play instead. If I want the outrageous laughter and creativity Dixit provides, I’d go for Telestrations or Monikers instead. If I want to play with pictures, I’d go with Mysterium Park, and Detective Club.

Sadly it seems like Dixit has been overtaken by newer titles, and similar designs. Unfortunately, our time together might be at an end.

Initial Ranking: 16

Kept or Culled: Kept??

Dixit Odyssey components, plus some expansions. Lots of cards, bunny meeples, and pegs.
My card collection has doubled since this picture was taken.

#2 Suburbia

Original Review

Originally, I was like Suburbia is a Top 10 title. Easily. It’s a game I’ve had for a long time, a game I love playing, a game I bought the collectors edition for. So of course it’ll be a Top 10 right?


But not entirely. This is where I had to pull myself up. I’ve made the mistake of adding expansions to The List, and Suburbia is a case of it being a great game, made excellent with the Suburbia Inc. expansion. So until the expansion is added, it stays down around the 14 Rank.

Still a brilliant game, although the base game doesn’t have as many decisions I’d like. But all these years later I can’t think of another game that has better city building mechanics.

Initial Ranking: 14

Kept or Culled: Kept

Suburbia market place, shows tiles to buy below the board. With Objectives, and default tiles on the board.
The market place for Suburbia

#1 Takenoko

Original Review

Takenoko is peak Antoine Bauza. During three years he released four masterpieces of design: Takenoko, 7 Wonders, Ghost Stories, Tokaido.

At one point or another, I’ve owned all of these games, but Takenoko only survived. This probably comes down to the fact my wife loves the game, and I love playing games with her. But it’s also a great light-weight game with plenty going on. It looks great on the table. Has a unique theme and mechanics. And even though the scoring can be kind of luck-based, it’s still a great time.

It’s not any higher on the list because at 6 and above the games become more serious. Games are no longer just for fun, but also exercise the mind. In the same way that people do weights, or swimming to work out, I enjoy board games that encourage me to think in new ways. Which is exactly what these games do. While Takenoko engages me, it doesn’t push me like these other games.

However, Takenoko does have cute cuddly pandas going for it. So maybe it should be higher.

Initial Ranking: 7

Kept or Culled: Kept

Takenoko mid game, the panda minature is standing next to a delicious pink bamboo stalk.
Still looks amazing!

We’re now sitting at 41 games being added to The List. Given we started in January, we’re averaging 10 games being added per month. That’s insane! For me, Dune Imperium still reigns supreme at number 1. But what’s been your favourite game so far?

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.

2 thoughts on “Looking back #4: Pandas Cities, and Vampire Kitties

  1. Dave, good to see updates on the old reviews. Times change and so does our thinking.
    At some point, I think you should take a look at Anachrony — it may be my #1 game. It is a masterpiece, IMHO. I do love Dune: Imperium — it is a blast to play, even solo. I know you didn’t really get that much out of Escape Plan, but you should look at some of Lacerda’s other games including The Gallerist, Lisboa, and/or On Mars.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Anton,

      Always appreciated your comments.

      I will have another look at Anachrony, I was pretty put off Mindclash after Cerebria. Where it was a great game ruined by too many rules. But I do love the theme of Anachrony.

      I have played On Mars, only once but it was amazing. I loved it! I need to play it a few more times before I feel comfortable about writing about it.


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