So, here's a ranking and commentary on the Hip Pocket Game Line.
1. Light Speed - it's a real time game of slapping down cards that represent space ships with shields and lasers that you trace to see if they hit anything. It's not the first or only game of its kind but it's the best I've found so far. In large part because it is so stripped down and simple while still feeling like a space battle. When I first played it, it felt like cheating to be so easy but so thematic.
I didn't realize there was a revised version called Stellar Conflict, which adds faction powers, until someone commented on it in my last blog post. I'd be willing to try it but part of the appeal of Light Speed is it's raw simplicity. Adding complexity and time to the scoring part of the game might be a game breaker for me.
2. The Very Clever Pipe Game - a tile laying game of connecting pipes and collecting the cards that make closed pipelines. This is easily the game I played the most, because it is so solid and requires nothing but the cards. It works well because it tosses out everything but the fundamentals. It misses being number one because it's in a more crowded field of tile laying, connection games. These days, HUE takes its place in my bag. Still, I'd never turn down a game.
3. Agora/Camden - creating a Roman market place with special events to spice things up until someone wins by earning enough money. This has some really weird placement rules that restrict how cards can connect to form larger stands but there isn't restrictions on how you place stands. I've never seen another game quite like it and it does a good job being different and and unique.
4. Nexus - you place cards in a basket weave pattern and claim intersections to control paths. When I first played Nexus, I really liked it. It was one of my first area of control games. But time hasn't been as kind to it as some the games earlier on the ranking. Not a bad game but not sparkly any more.
5. The Big Cheese - the token auction game in the line, themed around corporate rats completing projects. The biggest twist in the game is that the value of the completed project is determined by a die roll. While GEM is my choice of quick auction games, the Big Cheese would be interesting to revisit. I've played a lot of auction games since the Big Cheese and it would be interesting to revisit.
6. Steam Tunnels - you lay down tiles to create a maze of tunnels with players claiming tunnels whose value will be determined by their end caps. Okay, it's been so long since I've played it and it left so little an impression, I can't remember what I thought. Which is not a recommendation.
7. Cube Farm - a tile laying game where you build a map of an office floor where you try to get the good stuff like the copier and the exit close to you and the bad stuff like the Vice President far away. I did not have a great impression of it but, you know, I remember it. And I've been in a lot more cubicles since then. I'd revisit it to see what I think now.
Games that got left out:
I swear the Big Idea had a Hip Pocket edition but I can't seem to find any proof of that. Right group, decent party game.
And, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I haven't played Safari Jack or Timeline. And, revisiting the Hip Pocket Game line, I really need to play Timeline. A time travel game where the maze of time lines constantly shifts sounds like a lot of fun.
I personally own all these games but a good chunk of them of them are available as free print and plays on Cheapass's website and I'm sure can be printed on demand at sites like Drive By Cards.