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What is your opinion of various tabletop games you've played? What did you like and not like about them? I'll start by listing and categorizing tabletop games by my rating:



Agricola, Puerto Rico, Terra Mystica



Civilization, Eclipse, 7 Wonders, Dominion, Power Grid, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Arkham Horror, Settlers of Catan, Talisman, Kingdom Builder



Scrabble, Chess, Diplomacy



Clue, Apples to Apples



Risk, The Game of Life, Monopoly


As you can see, I favor German-style games over anything else. Monopoly is my least favorite one by far. I like a game to exhibit the following:


-No player elimination

-Low dependency on chance, but not perfect information

-Encourages player interaction

-A built in mechanism that prevents the game from continuing endlessly (i.e. a victory point cap, depletion of resources, set number of rounds, etc.)

-Well balanced

-Complex strategy, but without overly complicated rules (the rulebook shouldn't be longer than thirty pages)

-Economic or political theme

-Variable board or game start

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Highlights from my BGG ratings:



Hansa Teutonica, Terra Mystica, Le Havre, Race for the Galaxy, Egizia



Guillotine, St. Petersburg, Amun-Re, 7 Wonders, Sobek, Ora et Labora, Russian Railroads, Targi, Vikings



Samurai, 25 Words or Less, Fireball Island, Modern Art, Dominion, Blue Moon City, Balloon Cup, Arkadia, Tribune, Keyflower, Tzolk'in, Stone Age, Splendor, Amerigo, Shanghaien



Carcassonne, Basari, San Juan, Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, Bohnanza, Thebes, Small World, Puerto Rico, Dungeon Lords, Alhambra, Libertalia, Shadows over Camelot, Castles of Burgundy, Lords of Waterdeep, Troyes, Alien Frontiers, Thurn and Taxis, Eminent Domain, TransAmerica



Citadels, Settlers, Ticket to Ride, Power Grid, Glen More, Seasons, Hanabi, Glory to Rome, Innovation, To Court the King



Pandemic, Dominant Species, Fairy Tale





And indeed, you seem have enumerated a list of what most frequently distinguishes Euros from American-style games. If you haven't seen the Drama/Elegance/Realism trichotomy before, you might appreciate it:



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When I got to college a key consideration was the maximum number of players at a time. Tabletop games were usually picked by how many players showed up.


Two Players

Chess, Checkers, Othello, Go


Four Players

Twixt, Hearts, Spades, Scrabble, Rails through the Rockies


Two, Three, or Five Players

Axis and Allies


Six Players

Risk, Monopoly, Rail Barons, Kingmaker


Seven Player



Eight Player



Variable without affecting play

Talisman with supplemental sets for better characters

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I don't think I played enough of them to do any kind of comprehensive ranking. So instead just here are the ones I played and enjoyed:



Enjoyed most:

Settlers of Catan, Axis and Allies, Boss Monster


Enjoyed medium:

Monopoly, Life (classic version... new one terrible), UpWords, Apples to Apples, YuGiOh TCG

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(Points at sig.)


I'm at a bit of a weird place when it comes to boardgames. I do have friends whom I game with, though less and less frequently as Real Life interferes with their availability. When I do end up playing with them, it's usually a new game each time, since they are people with more disposable income than I, and avid followers of the Cult of the New. Meanwhile, I also play games with family, but that ends up being mostly filler games, party games, and kid-friendly games (typically being one of the first two guarantees the second). These aren't games I particularly enjoy, but I don't hate 'em either.


My game collection ends up catering mostly to the latter social circle, rather than the first. Sure, Eclipse is a great game, but I'm never going to get my money's worth out of my copy, so why buy other games like it? This is one of the few situations where wifeing someone appeals to me. Gotta get a consistent gaming partner somehow. :p


Going over my BGG plays and picking out a few highlights. I'll try limit this to games I've played enough times or games that have left a big enough impact on me to comment:


- Attribute: A looser, faster Apples to Apples. Not the greatest filler but it's a good icebreaker, and it's very flexible and able to accomidate people dropping in and dropping out. Also gets more fun if you have to pick people's names as the noun each round.

- Clash of Cultures: Really like this one, civ-building game with a lot of depth. Also very pretty.

- Dead of Winter: I've only played this a couple times, but I loved it. Very thematic semi co-op. But hahahahahahaha good luck finding a copy.

- Dragon Delta: Reprinted as River Dragons now. Programmed actions, screw your neighbour, lots of chaos.

- Eclipse: 4X game, a bit more Euro-y with its focus on action management, but still a lot of direct conflict. Upgradable ships are neatly implemented -- heck, how things are implemented and the clean presentation is a big plus for me. Not as much politics and 'gotcha' moments as TI, which isn't something that bothers me but is a complaint I hear a lot. I recommend the expansion but the base game is fine on its own.

- Forbidden Island: A co-op by the same guy who made Pandemic. It's pretty similar, and since I own Pandemic I probably won't get Forbidden Island unless I see it at Value Village or something. A bit less strategy than Pandemic, but overall the game is more streamlined, and more consistent in difficulty. Nothing like having the Earth overrun by disease in the first round of Pandemic.

- A Game of Thrones: Most of my plays are with the first edition and its expansions; the second edition incorporates a lot of the improvements and fixes that the expansions had. It's the right balance between Risk and Diplomacy for me, just the right amount of non-determinism for me.

- Guillotine: Screw-your-neighbour filler. No player elimination, which for me means it replaces Bang! in that category. Not a huge amount of fun for me, but it's fine and family members are willing to play it and that's rare so there we go.

- Hanabi: I haven't played this much, but it's probably the most elegant game I own, and it avoids the quarterback problem that a lot of co-ops have.

- Hey, That's My Fish!: Simple rules, not super deep but still deeper than you'd expect for a goofy game with an exclamation point in the name. More games need exclamation points in their names.

- King of Tokyo: Fun, goofy filler. It's Yahtzee except you're giant monsters. I've heard people compare this unfavourably with King of New York, but I've never played the latter.

- Magic: the Gathering: Not a board game per se, but probably the game I've played most, and probably the game I enjoy most. I think the thing with Magic is that you have to view WotC as not selling a game, but rather selling the components for a family of related games. I can count the number of 'normal' decks I've made on one hand, but I've played a lot of EDH, and whenever my kitchen table playgroup gets less active, I'm able to go to a FLGS and play limited.

- Nexus Ops: It's sort of like Risk but with map exploration and specific unit types, good if you're in the mood for a lot of direct conflict.

- Perpetual Commotion: It's just Dutch Blitz, which is good chaotic fun. Recommending this one specifically because it's the only variant I've found with decent cardstock.

- The Resistance: I usually hate Mafia/Werewolf games, but this one is good. Gameplay is designed so that information must be leaked, and there's no player elimination. The Resistance: Avalon is fairly similar. Also, if you like this game, but wish everyone was lying every game, check out Coup.

- Small World: Area control and conquest game, loads of expansions, haven't played it in a long long while though so maybe my tastes have changed. Still remember liking it a lot, though.

- Space Alert: Real time planned action co-op IN SPACE! Loads of fun, but make sure you play it with people who don't mind losing.

- Telestrations: Pictionary + Telephone. That's it, really. Great party game.

- Through the Ages: Very abstracted civ building game with drafting. Very cutthoat, much AP, wow. But seriously, good.

- Ticket to Ride: Team Asia: Ticket to Ride is a decent game, but the Team Asia expansion is fantastic. Co-op TTR is good.

- Tsuro: Super super simple filler game, looks nice, quick to teach, quick to play, nice and chaotic with a lot of players.

- Zendo: It's Predicate Logic: THE GAME! Which may not be everyone's cup of tea. Also, out of print, but you can implement it with Lego if you want. BGG even has an Emoticon Zendo thread.


this seemed like a good idea at the time...

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Of games I own or have played in the last month or so:



Dominion: I feel like every game is strategic but very different. The balance is, by the nature of the game, very robust. The randomness is fun without overwhelming planning. On the downside, there isn't much tactical thinking going on.


Lots of Fun

Small World: Like Risk, but actually really fun and pretty quick. Highly varied between games. Sometimes ridiculous combinations appear, but it's fun even when you're losing.


Ra: The entire game is a series of auctions. It's unlike anything else I've played, it's fascinating, and I enjoy it thoroughly.

Innovation: My internal jury is still out on whether this is deeply tactical or just random, and whether there's any strategy if you're well-versed or if it's entirely moment-by-moment tactics. Kind of the opposite of Dominion, maybe? Still very fun and a game that's actually good with two players or lots of players.


Seven Wonders: I've gotten a few games in. I'm not very good, but I find the game fascinating.


Android Netrunner: Unusual in that it's for two players. Deck building without deck buying. Maybe too random but always a good time.


RoboRally: Improved by alcohol, but still fun without impairment. Operating robots poorly is more entertaining than you think!


Lords of Waterdeep: Actually quite low randomness, which I like in a game. Always interesting and surprisingly different.



Settlers of Catan: Needs no introduction, really. It's strategic, it's a little random for my tastes but good strategy overcomes it, and it's quick and accessible.



Puerto Rico: I'm pretty sure different strategies are not equal, but it's still a nice game and, as best I can tell, the progenitor of role selection.


Tokaido: Kind of relaxing. More interactive and tactical than it initially looks. Very quick and fun.



Ascension: Wishes it were Dominion. Isn't. Building a deck from semi-random elements is not so good. The expansions have only made it more random.


Game of Thrones: It's over-complicated Dominion-Risk. Lots of complicated moving parts, but not enough real complexity to justify it. And it takes forever with new players.


Race For the Galaxy: Okay, but I'm not so keen on it. Like Puerto Rico the card game. I think the randomness is way too high on this one, and there's a lot of complication without complexity, but I've only played a half dozen games.



Battlestar Galactica: Complexity justifies the complicatedness, but oh boy is it complicated. Game takes a very long time. Interesting, but not worth the effort, really.


I'll just sit it out, thanks

Citadels: I acknowledge that this is an interesting and well-designed game, but I don't enjoy it. The role-selection is interesting; the actual building leaves me bored.



Pandemic: With an asterisk. As a multiplayer game it's bad. As a solitaire game with one person playing multiple roles it's actually okay. Maybe expansions improve it?



Carcassonne: Good play relies heavily on memorizing tile distributions. It's not actually that much fun if you don't know them, and it's still not that much fun once you do.


Bang: It's a party game, but it's not even entertaining for large groups. Bleh.


—Alorael, who has to cut himself off from starting on games he hasn't played for too long.

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Probably my single favorite board game (with an actual board) ever is Wise and Otherwise. It's hilarious but also appeals to my creative side. I would strongly recommend you check it out.


Friends introduced to, in succession, Settlers of Catan, Carcassone, and Ticket to Ride. I've enjoyed all three, probably Carcassone the most and TtR the least out of the three.


I've only ever played Dominion once, but it seemed pretty cool; I'd like to try it again at some point.


I've also realized I'm apparently going to be a lifelong fan of trading card games. I discovered the Star Wars CCG around 10 or 11, have played several games with varying levels of intensity and interest, and now 20 years later I still like that genre (currently I dabble in Magic: the Gathering and Star Trek CCG 2nd Edition). Card games aren't board games, but I noticed Dintiradan mentioned Magic so I figure it's okay. :D


For games played with traditional playing cards, Hearts and Spades are both pretty good. I find Poker insufferably boring, though.


Monopoly is also painfully boring. And Risk...is there any actual strategy to that game? Or is it as much a matter of completely random dice roles as it seems to me? Clue...I think Clue might be interesting, except that I definitely don't understand it; the last time I played it, by the end of the game everyone else was just a step behind the person who won, while I hadn't yet identified any aspects of the murder. Scrabble is more fun if you play if it with people who aren't Scrabble experts who can trot out dopey Scrabble-words that exist and are used exclusively in that game.

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Risk has some strategy and if you have a conflict between a large number of units, then Monte Carlo simulations show what numerical advantages you need to likely win the battles. The idea is that certain continents are more easily defended to allow growing faster than other players until you are ready to turn in card sets and take out a weaker opponent that will give you more cards and improve your position.


The randomness from dice rolling averages out later in the game. It can get funny when runs appear that outside normal statistics.

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My objection to risk is not that it's too random, really, but that it's too boring. There's almost no tactical depth, and there's not a lot of strategic depth either. The game plays out very similarly every time you play, with only a little randomness to shake things up. And it's simply not interesting enough; the decisions are too small and too similar.


—Alorael, who takes Small World over it because even with little randomness (easily adjusted to no randomness if you really want) it still has far more decision-making and more widely varying games.

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Race For the Galaxy: Okay, but I'm not so keen on it. Like Puerto Rico the card game. I think the randomness is way too high on this one, and there's a lot of complication without complexity, but I've only played a half dozen games.

Actually, Puerto Rico the card game exists: it's called San Juan, and it is also the origin of Race for the Galaxy. One of the designers came up with some great mechanics that didn't fit the intended target for Puerto Rico, so he packaged and rethemed and now we have something a lot better.


It's true that there's a lot of randomness, but there's more ability to manage it than you think -- and randomness is far more tolerable in a 15 minute game like this, imo, than in a longer game like Small World. This game really depends on developing a subtle valuation of all the cards and how they fit together and how they don't; and there's a bit of room for tactics as well. Although very different from Waving Hands, I find a lot of the thinking similar, so I think you should give this more of a chance given your warlock appreciation. Specifically, download the AI (free, and lovely: keldon.net) and fool around with that.


I discovered the Star Wars CCG around 10 or 11,

Oh, Decipher, how you have fallen...

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I'm in my basement right now, where we keep most of our games. Let's see what we've got.



Scotland Yard: in my opinion, one of the best strategy games out there. Some may disagree with me as the actual gameplay itself is pretty simple. I just think playing Mr. X is so much fun. :)

Axis and Allies: I've never actually completed a game, but I've played enough to know I like it.



Settlers of Cattan

Clue:the thing about clue is that you need to be paying a lot of attention to what's going on to really succeed. Even if it's not your turn, there's still information that you can record and use later on. I should probably not go into detail. I don't want to spend the whole post talking about Clue note-taking strategies. :p


Broadway: this is an older game, so I'm not sure anyone else here has seen it. I've only ever seen the copy that my dad has. It's kinda like Monopoly for show business, except with more strategy (and dice that have zeroes on them).

Forbidden Desert: the 'sequel' to Forbidden Island. A recent addition to our collection which I have enjoyed immensely.

Apples to Apples: I find the quality of the game fluctuates depending on who you play it with. I've played in a few games that nearly left me hoarse with laughter.



Risk: the last game I played was with my sister and one of my friends. It took us all week.


Mille Bornes






Trivial Pursuit




I won't say I've played any truly bad games. Usually whatever I play is good enough to keep me somewhat entertained.


As for traditional card games, I do like poker and such, but ultimately my game is Mexican shuffle.


I play Magic: the Gathering as well, though not much in recent years. I haven't known anyone else who plays for a while, so my participation has waned. I think the last time I was serious about it was back when Shards of Alara was coming out. I can't even remember when that was.

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Tabletop game? From the ones I can remember though...


5/5: Axis and Allies,


4/5: Chess, Chinese Chess, Go, Poker, Monopoly(With friends),


3/5: Yu-gi-oh, Magic: The Gathering, Game of Life, Clue, Scrabble, Battleship, Dungeons and Dragons,


2/5: Pokemon, Checkers, Risk, Candy Land,


1/5: Haven't found a tabletop game I've found so terrible that I would put it here. ;)


Some of them get +-0.5, but that's making it too complicated.

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It's true that there's a lot of randomness, but there's more ability to manage it than you think -- and randomness is far more tolerable in a 15 minute game like this, imo, than in a longer game like Small World. This game really depends on developing a subtle valuation of all the cards and how they fit together and how they don't; and there's a bit of room for tactics as well. Although very different from Waving Hands, I find a lot of the thinking similar, so I think you should give this more of a chance given your warlock appreciation. Specifically, download the AI (free, and lovely: keldon.net) and fool around with that.

It's a well-designed game, and yes, there's a lot of skill, both in choosing the right cards to use and in selecting phases judiciously. I'm in the definite minority in feeling only lukewarm towards it. Somehow it just hasn't won me over.


—Alorael, who deeply misses Isotropic's online Dominion. The official Dominion site is distinctly inferior even leaving aside the money-grubbing.

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I'm usually good at getting rid of the background when copy-pasting.


—Alorael, who will unveil the mystery. Em-dashes are a single button combo on a Mac and require a modicum of memory for the alt-code on Windows. Since he doesn't use Windows much he doesn't actually remember the 0151 code, and thus it's easier to just copy than look it up on the occasions he's browsing on a PC.

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