Welcome to Which Game First where we boldly explore the hilariously huge world of board games. Did we unearth any hidden treasures you’ve been missing out on? Let’s find out!

First: We race to scale lofty mountain heights while  leaving no trace in Annapurna   
Next: We’re putting cloak rooms next to mold rooms next to bottomless pits in our Castles of Mad King Ludwig
And lastly: We immerse ourselves in the fast paced world of paleontology in Fossil

Annapurna: Leave No Trace Behind

Designed by: Rebecca Horovitz
Published by: Fiat Lucre (2021)
Players: 1 – 4
Ages: 12 & up
Playing time: 30 – 60 minutes

In Annapurna you cooperate — or compete — with your fellow climbers to achieve balance on this treacherous, ever-changing mountain. As you explore your mountainside made of cards you will encounter rockslides, yetis, and danger at every turn!

You start with a deck of 18 mountain cards, laying 15 of them face down in a pyramidal mountain and keeping the rest as your backpack. Each card has a yin or yang value of 1 to 4 on it as well as a special effect. To start the game, each player reveals a card in their bottom row, carries out the effect, then places their meeple on the card.

On a turn, you explore an adjacent card on a non-lower level by flipping it over, carrying out its effects, and placing your meeple on it; trade a card from your backpack with a card in your mountain, pacing the replaced card in a cache; or hide a card, which is the same as trade, but on another player’s mountain. If your face-up mountain cards have a balance of yin and yang, you can remove them from play.

Once you reach the mountain’s peak, you add your cache to your hand, then you can spend your turns doing nothing, dropping cards from your cache face up on the mountain to better balance your yin and yang, and throwing cache cards onto another player’s mountain, who then flips up one of your remaining face-down cards.

In the competitive game, when everyone is at the peak, players score 3, 2, and 1 flags based on who is most balanced, with ties being broken in favor of whoever ascended their mountain first; play multiple rounds until someone collects nine flags and wins. In the co-operative game, you end the game after everyone has scaled their mountain, and you all win only if everyone has an even yin-yang balance.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Royal Collector’s Edition

Designed by: Ted Alspach
Published by: Bézier Games (2022)
Players: 1 – 5
Ages: 13 & up
Playing time: 60 – 90 minutes

Castles of Mad King Ludwig is a tile placement game, in which you are attempting to build the best castle in the Kingdom of Ludwig The Mad.

Each round, players will buy the plans for rooms from a community pile of 7 rooms. There are also hallways and staircases available to purchase as well. One player is the master builder. Players will pay the master builder for the room plans and hallways and staircases they purchase.

Build your castle room by room, and collect victory points and other bonuses for the rooms you start to build, and the rooms upon completion. Organize your plans carefully – adding the best possible adjacent room will yield the most rewards. A room is considered complete when all of its passageways have been incorporated into the rest of the castle.

Personal goal cards and Kings Favors will yield game end VP, the player with the most ends up with a lifetime favor from a very mad king!


Designed by: Klaus Palesch
Published by: Rio Grande Games (1998)
Players: 2 – 6
Ages: 10 & up
Playing time: 20 – 40 minutes

Fossil is a set collection card game where players are competing paleontologists trying to make as complete a set as possible of several fossils. 

The board is a 9×9 grid, laid out with a random bunch of fossil pieces. Players take turns moving one of two stones across the board to a location where they want to pick up a fossil piece. 

Each fossil consists of nine pieces, and as soon as the 9th piece of a fossil is collected, it is scored. Score the number of tiles you collected times the point value of the tiles. If you have no pieces of that fossil, then negative points will ensue. 

Play continues until there are no more legal moves, the paleontologist with the most points is the winner, whose name is then forever set in stone!

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