The Best and Worst Board Games of June 2023 - What I Played -

The Best and Worst Board Games of June 2023 – What I Played

The Broken Meeple
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The Best and Worst Board Games of June 2023 – What I Played

Reporting on the best and worst games I’ve played during the last month that won’t be getting a full review and are new to me personally, whether they are good or bad.



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One single batchelor from the UK talking about his passion for board games and the people who play them! I support small content creators, board game cafes and go against the status quo when it comes to the board game industry. I give my honest opinions without bias towards any publishers or designers and will not hold back if I don’t like a game.

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00:00 – Introduction
01:38 – Inventions (Evolution of Ideas)
04:20 – Arboretum
06:24 – Dinosaur Island Rawr & Write
11:57 – Explore & Draw (Isle of Cats)
16:37 – Beast
20:23 – Dune Imperium (Have The Expansions Fixed It?)
27:18 – Closing Thoughts

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  1. I enjoy hearing your opinions so much, I bought a sweatshirt! ☺

  2. DUDE, "Arboretum" is one of the meanest, most agressive games we've ever played here! ⚔ Seriously, the mood gets REALY TENSE everytime those cute trees start to sprout in our table! 😅

  3. Dune is underrated on BGG list, I can see it going further up especially when the next expansion comes. Fantastic design

  4. Interesting gameplay this month! Can’t say I’d play any of them apart from Dune, not into roll and writes (that much), never play board games solo (Too much set up when it’s easier to switch on a steam deck – if I ever designed a board game I’d make sure there was not a solo mode – just so everyone would hate me), not played the Dune expansions although they are in the box. Keep up the great work, always love your honesty.

  5. Good video. I agreed with many of your opinions. Arboretum was such a disappointment for me. I found it way too confusing and honestly just couldn't wrap my head around the game. I really wanted to like it, too. The artwork is beautiful, and I'm an arborist by profession, but it just wasn't for me.

  6. Arboretum may be the first game I'd disagree with you on. Love the turn angst in that game. It's a bit of a table hog, but I love it. Oh well, still a great video and good points.

  7. Arboretum really shines at a two player count.

  8. I really like your videos. Good job 👍

    I have Dune Imperium in my absolute top favorite games. I've only played two times, but both were some of the best gaming experience of all time. Both were base game only.

    What I really like is the amount interaction and conflict you see all the time i Dune. Blocking each other, going for that single VP hoping your opponents don't stop you, the battle for majority on the Battlefield and the constant planning trying to strike at the exact right moment.

  9. I decided not to back inventions; but bought Vinhos instead as my 4th Lacerda. Great decision!

  10. Jee, now I have to sell my copy of Arboretum 😂

  11. Verb'n'write has become my new term for these style of games. Rawr is among the worst once I've played, but I know I am in the minority on that one 🙃

  12. Wow, never heard anyone hate Arboretum so much! But I respect this opinion! Pointed out things I never thought about, as a worshipper of Arboretum hahahaha.

  13. I love dinosaur island, but it is heavy to carry and to teach, if a fifth person wants to play it's a problem, and my friends who used to play it with me are too deep into frosthaven. I should get that roar and write. I've been wanting to try Isle of cats, and will look into the roll and write instead. I have long shot the dice game, which is really good, and friends who have played the original Long shot tell me that the dice game is better. I like rolling realms a lot but some carts are fiddly. My favorite roll and write is probably On Tour.

  14. I always enjoy hearing your opinions Luke. Great enthusiasm and honesty.
    I personally love Dune Imperium and wish I lived nearer your Portsmouth gaming group! Ha ha!
    I will also be keeping the big boxes of cats and dinosaurs because for me the tangible components are what puts the icing on the cake. The game- cake…hmmm

  15. I would recommend giving Beast a few more tries. I agree it was mis-pitched as a hidden movement game, although that element can in some games appear significantly more than others. The card economy (playing one of each card colour) is critical as it forces planning across multiple turns (as it limits the attacks you can make in one turn). After the first game we realised how important it is for hunters to work on their upgrades.

  16. No. Not Arboretum 😅. I really like that twist about having to keep high cards in my hand to be able to score. Granted, I've only played it at 2 players. It's quick at 2p, and you have control over your score. Meaning agonizing decisions as to whether I want to keep this 7 to not let my opponent score a certain tree, or let him have it to guarantee I'll score big on one of mine.

  17. Came for beast stayed for arboretum. Spot on review for arboretum. Waste of paper.

  18. Arboretum is a very good game, but not for everyone since it requires keeping in mind what the other players could have in their hands. If you don’t, all your plans can come to nought. I’ve seen content creators complain a game doesn’t make one care enough what other players are doing. Well, Arboretum does make one care for those who are alert to it. Finally, I would not describe the card art of Arboretum as “cutesy”.

  19. I looked at videos for Inventions and between that and your thoughts on it I decided not to back it. The more I hear about the game, the more I'm glad I didn't. You're spot on about Weather Machine too, at least that has really good mechanics, but it also has pretty much no theme. After being disappointed with that game (which I backed on Kickstarter), I looked into Inventions with a lot more scrutiny and it doesn't seem up to the standard of his other games. I guess time will tell, but I have a feeling it'll end up being in the lower echelon of Lacerda titles (and that's coming from a huge Lacerda fan).

  20. I like Arboretum, so a bit of a marmite game I guess. I've never tried marmite mind.

  21. Contrary to popular opinion, Kanban EV is not thematic AT ALL. I wish people would stop saying it is. I’ve been working at Tesla since 2011 and my first 7 years were in the Los Angeles design studio and then I also visit the factories and I develop software for manufacturing engineers and design engineers at Tesla. Kanban EV is just like these other Lacerda games that people reluctantly admit aren’t really thematic.

    I need to be clear, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good game, it’s just that it makes no sense in terms of vehicle design and production.

    3 Minute board games hit the nail on the head with his review of On Mars, there’s just too much of “because game” mechanics. Why is this mechanic there? “Because game”.

    Kanban EV is a massive exhibition of the “because game” philosophy but it gives the superficial impression that it is somehow related to automotive design and manufacturing.

  22. Bro.. leave Dune, Dune imperium & the movie(s).. out yo %#@$ing mouth.. lol 😅

  23. I've always thought Lacerda themes were overrated. Yes, they are juicier than a beige euro, but what isn't? There are always tracks or slots with bonuses, or action selection, that works like that just because it's gamey. I used to be a fan, but Weather Machine is just "Lacerda the Board Game". It's exactly like his typical game, but without real-life theme, maybe that's the case. Not even interested in Innovations anymore. I think you do have his best on the shelf already.

    You cut me deep with Arboretum, my top 10 of several years. Yes, it's mean and random, but that's the point. For me it's crazy how deep is the gameplay for a deck with numbered cards. Hanamikoji for 2, Arboretum for 3-4, both genius games.

    I've heard and read a lot of Beast critique lately, and some of it is fair… But in the end, it's not a Fury of Dracula killer, it's fun and thematic asymmetric hunt and fight. I do agree about the need for streamlining, but for me one of the best this year, cool hybrid of mechanisms and adventure. Better with 3 than 4, because of map size, IMO.

    I do agree with everything you say about Dune. Maybe I should try expansions as well.

  24. great video…. love your views and opinions. This is one thing I love about the board gaming industry/community there as so many options to immerse yourself in this industry and what is one person's cup of tea may not be another …and that is great

  25. In arboretum you can easily keep track of what cards are still out there. You missed the point of keeping certain cards and the tension of discarding others.

  26. Love the Arboretum and Inventions fans who came along to dislike a random roundup opinions video! They must feel good! Ah well engagement and all! 😉

  27. I do like Arboretum personally, but I can certainly see and understand your points, and you're not alone there. Trying to manage, and play defensively for, what will be left at people's hands at the end, is supposed to be an important element of the game rather than a random end-game event, but if you (and the rest of the group) don't like playing with a heavy focus on that element throughout, then the game indeed doesn't work well and feels arbitrarily random and punishing.

    Dinosaur's Island Rawr 'N Write is very good. It mostly does a really good job of playing and feeling like a "regular" (non rando-writer) full Euro game. The percentage of rando-writers who go for being a fuller/deeper game, rather than a quicker straight-forwarder one, is rather small, and this is one of the better ones in this group. Generally with most groups/people I play with, when I suggest new games, things like it being a rando-writer (and the type of, whether "roll and write", "flip/draw and draw", etc…) is something I feel I need to add to the genre/mechanisms/qualifiers when giving the elevator pitch to the options. Here, not so much, it's a dice worker placement, engine building, with spatial elements.
    The format does have a couple of downsides I encountered playing it, though:
    (1) Not having actual tiles/minis/etc to test on the map can drastically increase the chances of people making mistakes when the building cards include something very large or of a particularly odd shape. Especially due to not being allowed to draw buildings that touch others even diagonally, and possibly needing to place disconnected roads and pens/attractions in advance leaving room for future locations on the way.
    (2) It's somehow unusually frequent, in early plays, for people to get confused about which building or specialist they started to pay for vs to the one they wanted and plan to use when it's fully paid later. More physical bits, something with a bigger impact than that each card on the central board has "A", or "B", or "C" next to it and there are "A","B", and "C" to check multiple circles next to on the very busy player boards, would have helped there.
    These do mostly go away after first few plays though (or if you have a group which is all comfortable with "well, I screwed up, I'm fine with suffering the consequences instead of trying to rewind multiple turns", or al accepting of "No, no, that wasn't what I was MEANING to do, can we pretend all of these were actually marked here instead of there?").

    Explore & Draw, I'm conflicted about. On the one hand, yes, you're entirely right, it gives you something pretty close to the full game, with a lot less time and fiddlyness. And I'm very happy to play it solo instead.
    On the other hand, the drafting feels, at least to me, more significant than it probably should be (is?), in comparison. Players are doing about the same thing, and getting about the same results, but the granularity of the decisions feels like there is more control/alternatives/choices/decisions on how to get there (or where to get instead). Not a huge difference since they're not particularly heavy games (even all-in on the main game), but for me it's significant. In multiplayer it's indeed a good game, but it's shorter because it does less, rather than shorter while doing the same.
    Plus, well, the physical difference of the player mats and cat tiles is very significant, for the majority of people I play with. Explore & Draw looks so very… drab, in comparison. I have to work hard to convince people to play it after showing it to them (maybe exception of people used to stuff like wargames/GMT or Splotter, but they're a minority in my circles so I won't "waste" them on a lighter Euro), wheres Isle of Cats' look is an attraction instead. This won't matter for everyone, but in many cases it does matter. I can bring Isle of Cats to any group generally interested in games of this style and weight, and if they won't choose it it's because they preferred something else. While bringing Explore & Draw to a group not already predisposed to wanting it, would make it a hard sell, and I'm likely to just get a "No, don't bother with it" if I don't push hard. Now, for someone who likes Isle of Cats already, or someone who likes rando-writers in general, sure, good option, but that's not the same. Nobody gets excited, unfortunately, to see "This looks sort of like cartographers with round map, more cards, a page with a long bullet list with lots of text (do we have to read all that while playing???), and much less and far muted colors" on the table.

    And I'm very much with you on Dune Imperium. It's fine (esp with the expansions), and I'll be happy to play if someone suggests it and wants it, and I will enjoy my play of it when that happens, but I really don't get the level of hype and excitement it gets.

  28. I got dinosaur island and dinosaur world but sold both. Only dinosaur rawr and write was unique and replayable enough for me to keep

  29. My only disconnect seems to be your "ok" opinion of Dune: Imperium and your absolute love for Lost Ruins of Arnak.

    While I feel like these two games get compared unfairly since they are quite different, your criticisms of DI seem to be similar to what I've found in Arnak. Such as the deckbuilding. I find that I hardly see a card one or two times during the course of the game and there aren't many opportunities to refine the deck.

    The other is that the worker placement is dictated by the cards. I guess it isn't as strict in Arnak as it would be in Dune Imperium but you still need to have the right symbols to go to the right place. Not sure why you like those things in Arnak but it seems to not work for you in Dune.

    Good video though! Just curious about your thoughts on that.

  30. Disappointed to hear Inventions a bit of a let down.I quite liked the visuals of board/player boards but i know nothing of game play yet.

  31. DI Rawr is the only keeper in the whole series for me. Love it two players but worked at three too.

    Isle of Cats Explore is essentially the travel and family friendly version. Great.

    Arboretum works fine at two for me because you can count cards perfectly. Still though – never came back to it.

    Dune Imperium is a top ten for me. Gotten better with expansions.

  32. Looking forward for your Top 10 Roll and Writes and your explanation on why Hadrian's Wall is the best one ever 🙂

  33. Disagree on Arboretum, fantastic game. You can't keep all cards, discarding is the hardest part of the game. You have to build your game, make sure you keep cards to score your trees, yet you have to see what your opponents care about and block them, very intense.

  34. Arboretum is a brutal, mean game, so your hate for it will only make it stronger 😉

  35. Inventions gave me the same vibe as your opinion, I didnt want to get bitten again by Lacerda after being disappointed in Weather Machine. I find I dont care about Lacerda unless I enjoy the theme, so I've only really enjoyed On Mars and Escape Plan, I've got Gallerist on the shelf of shame and I found Kanban to be a bit dull mechanically compared to On Mars and I didn't enjoy having to pay for my scoring methods in the meetings, though I appreciate the thematic aspect of it. An extra layer to scoring that i didnt like. I would play it again though, just not something I want ij my collection.

    Arboretum is about timing and strategy, every card will be in someone's discard, hand or arboretum by the end and they often dont have the space in their hand to save the cards you need, but points are better than no points, so you've got to hold onto your right to score while building your arboretum out in a way that you can account for different game states.

    Definitely a decent luck factor, its a relatively light game, but there are lots of little ways to strategise and optimise that are fun and interesting. I will say I've played a lot of it and its played out for me, but I'm happy I have it on my shelf and play it every now and then.

    I have no idea about Dino Island games but I keep relying on reviewers to tell me I dont need them. Haha.

    Isle of Cats, I felt the opposite, the roll and write didnt replace any of my other roll and writes and was missing 95 percent of the full game, drafting, initiative, baskets and fish as resources, lesson modules, the expansions and the tactility of the tiles. You've got the fun core, but it does not add up to the whole and isn't better than any of my other roll and writes. I get your reaction to it though, i have a friend who feels the same.

    Beast I've got on my shelf of shame, hope I disagree with you on it.

    Dune Imp I played both expansions first time, I can imagine bouncing off of it like you had if I played base only.

  36. This is why i love Luke review
    thanks luke very honest😄👍love love it
    eventho some of his hate is my favorite game 😁
    like GWT 2nd edition , Paladins , im not sure birmingham included or not
    and Dune ofc,…glad you've like it now Luke
    your reviews helps me alot haha that i should get the game or not?
    nicee…keep it like this Luke👍👍

  37. Apart from the obvious (Arnak) which games would you recommend in place of Dune Imperium? I really like DI but then of course I haven’t played as many games as you 😂

  38. Would you start Dune throwing in the expansions from the get go?

  39. To say that Arboretum is a bad game and purely dependent on luck is genuinely bizarre. One of the classic card games.

  40. Thanks for sharing! Hey everyone, people are allowed to dislike a games you like, and they can love game you don’t. These are all just opinions! Luke, I do hope you get to try Inventions again. I think you’ll like it more on a follow-up play. I think the title of the game is throwing people off of the intended theme of how ingenuity helps societies prosper. It isn’t just about the inventions specifically. Still if it doesn’t grab you, that’s okay, too. 🙂

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