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What My Non-Gamer Friends Think of My Games
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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Recommend
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These ratings are an average from about 15 different non-gamer friends and relatives including my brother, sister-in-law, teenage cousins, party girls, parents, boyfriends, girlfriends...the works. Not all of them have played every game, but I had them all give me feedback based on the games I've put them all through. I'll continue to update the list as more games hit the table or as some of the ones below make a return to the table.

6 being the highest rating and 1 being the lowest, based on their feedback and me scrutinizing their gameplay.

I've gotten to know which friends will dig which games. Hopefully this'll help you as a starter guide for your NGFs. It is my hope that every game finds a proper audience in someone.

The "Friend Quote" is just because an outsiders point-of-view can be refreshing at times. The "Replay Chance" is the percent chance of whether I think I'll be able to get my NGFs (non-gamer friends) to play again.

Please add your comments based on your experiences with non-gamers who've ventured into world of some of these games.
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1. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:5]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 5

FRIEND QUOTE:
"I feel like I'm part of the plot of a great film."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
Overall the NG feedback is that PR is so successful because the theme matches the mechanics, the bits are pleasing and there's a good balance of interaction and strategy.

REPLAY CHANCE: 80%

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2. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:6]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 5

FRIEND QUOTE:
"So the cow can live inside my house? As a pet? Really? A pet cow? Inside a house?"

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
Honestly, I was not expecting this to gain as much favor as it did what with all the nerdy bits inside the box. We played the family variant (which, sadly cannot be listed in the Family Games category on BGG) and people picked it up fairly quickly. One of the greatest aspects of Agricola is you can pretty much explain/teach as you move along. It's also not a cutthroat kind of game, which my NGFs tend to lean towards.

REPLAY CHANCE: 85%
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3. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:11]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 4

FRIEND QUOTE:
"Holy crap! This plant is amazing! It puts out so much and requires nothing."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
This one sort of split down the middle with several people really enjoying it and others finding it too dry.

REPLAY CHANCE: 65%
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4. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:19]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 6

FRIEND QUOTE:
"Oh my god, that seagull is going to catch on fire."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
Quick, easy to learn, and great strategy. The constant offensive/defensive decisions are precisely balanced.

REPLAY CHANCE: 100%
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5. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:20]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 2

FRIEND QUOTE:
"Really? We're still being read the rules?"

CONSENSUS:
I love this game, but alas I'll be having to seek out gamers only to play with me.

REPLAY CHANCE: 15%


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6. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:23]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 1

FRIEND QUOTE: "Wait, what do the red numbers mean?"

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
Wow, this was a real bomb with my non-gamer friends - especially after several had played Galaxy Trucker.

REPLAY CHANCE: 10%
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7. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:26]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 4

FRIEND QUOTE:
"What's this big black thing for again?"

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
Another one that leaned more towards people liking it, but a few were bored the whole time.

REPLAY CHANCE: 65%
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8. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:30] [Average Rating:7.78 Unranked]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 6

FRIEND QUOTE:
"You should make a card called "Musical Youth" that requires players to pass a duchy to the left hand side."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
After about 3 minutes of easing into it, this caught on. The Seaside Expansion seems to be the NGF friendliest of the expansions. Alchemy is probably the least. This will slide up there with Ticket to Ride and Settlers as one of the greatest gateway games of all time, IMO.

REPLAY CHANCE: 100%
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9. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:33]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 1

FRIEND QUOTE:
"Oh my god, so many decisions I don't really care about."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
Eeks. My NGFs really weren't having this one at all. Many complained of headaches afterwards.

REPLAY CHANCE: 10%
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10. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:41]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 6

FRIEND QUOTE:
"You guys have never seemed so helpful to me."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
This is a nice change-of-pace from the typical board game. The co-op play is well-balanced and people were on board with this almost immediately.

REPLAY CHANCE: 95%
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11. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:47]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 6

FRIEND QUOTE:
"Oogah."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
Everyone enjoyed it even though nobody really had any idea what the strategies to winning are. By the end of the game people were figuring it out, but it was too late to start a second round. Ultimately though, I won't have any problems bringing this out again.

REPLAY CHANCE: 90%
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12. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:52]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 4

FRIEND QUOTE:
"I like this. In fact, I like this a lot."

CONSENSUS:
This game (like Ra) was well-liked by several NGFs and somewhat disliked by several others. If I assemble the right group again, this one will be a success I'm sure.

REPLAY CHANCE: 70%

2011 UPDATE:

FRIENDS RATING: 2

FRIEND QUOTE:
"I wanna Goa home."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
Tried this a couple of times on a new group and it's just too damned dry now for the NGFs.

REPLAY CHANCE: 30%
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13. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:53]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 1

FRIEND QUOTE:
"We have to eat lunch or I'm going to kill someone."

CONSENSUS:
I enjoy this one a lot, but I just couldn't get it to click with anyone. NGFs of mine much prefer Ticket to Ride.

REPLAY CHANCE: 10%
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14. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:59]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 6

FRIEND QUOTE:
"Drunk people stumbling out of that Lab are going to fall right into your lake"

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
This one surprised me when it went over so well. I thought it might be to heavy, but it wasn't. NGFs really liked the theme of this.

REPLAY CHANCE: 90%
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15. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:62]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 6

FRIEND QUOTE:
"That poor little girl hates her mother for dressing her like that. That ticket she's holding is good for one free slapping of her mom."

CONSENSUS:
It's Ticket to Ride. What's not to like for NGFs? Now with little wedding steeples.

REPLAY CHANCE: 100%
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16. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:83]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 6

FRIEND QUOTE:
"Let's play "Trains Across America" again!"

CONSENSUS:
What can I say? Folks just dig the simplicity balanced with strategy and fun.

REPLAY CHANCE: 100%
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17. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:85]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 5

FRIEND QUOTE: "Space junk rulez!"

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
NGFs tend to enjoy the first couple of rounds, but grow tired if I make them play on.

REPLAY CHANCE: 85%
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18. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:95]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 4

FRIEND QUOTE: "Shouldn't Ra be an acceptable Scrabble word?"

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
One of many strong hit or misses with my NGFs. All the ladies dug this one. Something about the auction mechanic is well-liked by the bulk of my lady-friends. See Modern Art below.

REPLAY CHANCE: 60%
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19. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:108] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 5

FRIEND QUOTE:
"Bonjour Monsieur Meeple de Rouge. Get off my rue! Maintenant!"

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
There are usually several people around who truly love this game, so it will reappear with frequency I'm sure.

REPLAY CHANCE: 85%
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20. Board Game: 1960: The Making of the President [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:110]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 5

FRIEND QUOTE:
"I still can't believe there's not an option to assassinate someone?"

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
Introducing this in such a politically charged time in the US was a good move. Played with two teams of two and that proved interesting, fun and challenging as well.

REPLAY CHANCE: 80%
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21. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:117] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 6

FRIEND QUOTE:
"Pink? I can be pink?! There's never a chance to be pink! I'm taking pink."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
The NGF group I played with really loved this one. They loved looking at the cards and they loved that I explained the rules in about 30 seconds. Highly variable, too. -- we played our second game using only movie titles for the cards.

REPLAY CHANCE: 100%
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22. Board Game: In the Year of the Dragon [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:137]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 2

FRIEND QUOTE:
"We're not going to play that Dragons in Asia game again are we?"

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
This one was much to dry for everyone. I like the mechanics, but this is a gamer's game, IMO.

REPLAY CHANCE: 15%
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23. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:139]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 4

FRIEND QUOTE:
"France sort of resembles a Pizza, doesn't it?"

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
Another hit or miss game. Several loved it, several not-so-much. I hope to sneak it out again with some new people.

REPLAY CHANCE: 45%
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24. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:143]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 4

FRIEND QUOTE:
"I'm killing you. Just killing you."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
This appeals to the NGFs who like the money games.

REPLAY CHANCE: 75%
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25. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:153]
Jeff Bowen
United States
Brooklyn
NY
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FRIENDS RATING: 2

FRIEND QUOTE:
"What phase are we in? How can I add up all of these points? There's like a million points here."

GENERAL CONSENSUS:
People couldn't get ahold of how to organize or what they were trying to do. Some felt that the amount of cards on the table was ridiculous. One person seemed to dig it.

REPLAY CHANCE: 20%


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