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Games that are easier than the rules make you believe
Dennis Bingham
Germany
Herford
NRW
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We all know the feeling: You received that brand shiny new game that everyone raves about and everyone says "it's totally easy to play" and you read the rulebook and feel like that "everyone" must be smarter than you.

Then you play for the first time and you say to yourself "that rulebook made it sound much more complicated than this really is".

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26. Board Game: After the Flood [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1104]
Roy Anderson
United States
Brownsville
Texas
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This game has a short rule book, though the interaction between the workers and armies is difficult to grasp as it is described in the rulebook. It takes near to half an hour to teach and 3 hours to play, but after the first hour everyone around the table is quick to move-barring of course the analysis paralysis.
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27. Board Game: Reef Encounter [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:313]
TOKYO Heartbroken
England
York
North Yorkshire
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It is so disappointing that so many I play this with do not like it. The rules are overly complex, but worse, they are written in the wrong order. We have A the start of the game process, B the detail of the actions, and then C the end of the game process. It's that horrendously detailed middle bit that kills it. Instead of ABC it should be ACB, leaving the detail of actions to the end.

Which is a shame, because Reef Encounter is a top game.

Also, R&D games seem to specialise in extreme rule repetition. They repeat the same rule over and over again. Parts of the rules are repeated numerous times. There are elements of the rules text that get repeated unnecessarily for the sake of repeating them. In case you didn't understand the first twenty times, some rules are constantly repeated throughout the text.
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28. Board Game: De Bellis Antiquitatis [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1234]
Alexei Gartinski
Jordan
Amman
Unspecified
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Ok, not a boardgame but miniatures rules. In fact, probably the simplest set existing, and a very elegant one, extremely rich in strategy and replayability. And there is a fantasy version of it, HOTT. Should more players knew about it, nobody would have played Warhammer, I am sure

But! Just try to figure it out from the rules!.. When I bought and read the rules I simply put it on the shelf. Until I tried a DBA variant rule "Kepis Rouges" adapted for Franco-Prussian war published in the VaeVictis magazine (in French). It was just soooooo simple and elegant!.. And only then whatever was written in the original rulebook started making sense...

In fact, an experienced player can explain the basic rules in about 5 minutes, then simply introducing new rules while guiding newbies through their first game. After that most would be able to play on their own. Luckily, DBA American fans "translated" the rulebook into a "normal language" in their "Unofficial Guide for DBA" http://www.wadbag.com/DBAGuide/default.asp which finally makes it perfectly accessible to most of us
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29. Board Game: Xactika [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:4565]
Scott Smith
United States
Duncan
South Carolina
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Funny this List should arrive at this time; we've played this one several times over the past few days.

The rules explanations can certainly lead to some faces; but once you have played a couple hands it all falls into place rather quickly.

The hard part is trying pick the EXACT number of tricks your going to take. For such a simple game, the brutality factor is almost off the scale...
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30. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:157]
Jim Hills
Canada
Saskatoon
SK
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This was the version that started it all for me. What was with splitting it up over two books? I don't recall seeing a play summary anywhere in the box. The fourth edition was a big improvement.
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31. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:113]
Scott Everts
United States
Foothill Ranch
California
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We played this for the first time last night. I had read the rules a few times (daunting looking manual) so was alittle nervous about this being too complex for the group. Fortunately my friend had also read the rules and is a much better rules explainer then me. But after the first turn it didn't seem nearly as complex as the rules made you think. Hero combat for the first year had a few hichups since we didn't really explain that part until we got to it. But the second year went pretty smoothly.

Our second play should go much better. Like many games you need a first play to really get the idea.
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32. Board Game: Mecanisburgo [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2846]
Scott Everts
United States
Foothill Ranch
California
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Wow, this game looks tough based on seeing the manual. And it has a set of icons that rival Race for the Galaxy in complexity (I love Race, but first play is tough, then gets much easier).

The main problem is the manual is translated from Spanish by someone that is not a native English speaker. Unlike Vlaada Chvátil's game manuals that obviously have a fluent English writer, this game was a struggle to get through. So I spent the week before our first play pouring over the manual making sure I could answer any questions that came up. During our first play it became obvious this game really isn't that hard. The hard part is just figuring out what to do with the huge choices you have each turn.

This game desperately needs a 2.0 edition rulebook. It's a great game and awesome theme. With the coming new expansion it would be a great time to introduce a new manual and include a few errata card replacements.
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33. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:186]
Scott Caputo
United States
Santa Clara
California
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I couldn't follow the rulebook, but after playing it a few times, it sunk in and seems pretty easy to explain now. Bid cards to win stuff you want. You can win multiple things at once. Stuff you want can include goods or places on the board or special powers. That's about it.
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34. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:638]
Alan McRathstar
United States
Laurel
Maryland
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This game should take 30 seconds to learn. But what's with all that talk about the dragon tile?!? Huh?
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35. Board Game: Gangster [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:2634]
Joe Thomas
United States
Coshocton
Ohio
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The rulebook was not well put together. We had to play a few rounds 'til we figure out how to play. After that, it was easy.
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36. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:33]
Doug Meldrum
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Here, I just figured out how to properly enter a game on the list. This is a great game with simple rules, but at first it seems quite challenging.
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37. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:75]
Jon Bryon
England
New Addington
Croydon
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This is a pretty simple game, but the programmed instructions make a complete meal out of it IMO. I've only tried teaching it once, following the guidelines provided in the box, but by the time I'd done the whole presentation and we'd played through the first teaching scenario, everyone else was like, 'That's it?!!' and had no stomach for any more.
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38. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:59]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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It seems to be quite a complex game first. But then you start to play and somewhere in the third round you realise its rules are quite intuitive and you can say it's got quite a simple gameplay (of course it's hard to win but that's another case).
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39. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:31]
Gustav Åkerfelt
Finland
Turku
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Great game that's big, but not that hard.

Well.
The RULES aren't all that hard. Trying to get in a win, is another story.
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40. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:94]
Justin Morse
United States
Falmouth
Maine
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I'm sure it's the theme and the playtime that scare people off this one, but the rule book can be pretty scary too. Once you realize though, that there are only a couple of options during each phase, you really could get by with a single page checklist just to keep things in order.

Now I just have to find people willing to play a 5 hour game about German politics.


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41. Board Game: Pocket Battles: Celts vs. Romans [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1529] [Average Rating:6.54 Unranked]
David Moffett
United States
Toledo
Ohio
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This game is really very easy. However, when I read the rulebook I didn't really understand everything and anytime I try to teach this game I get a bunch of glazed looks. I felt like there could have been an easier way to write and explain the rules but the manual wasn't helping any.

For a game that billed itself as quick war game action (which it is) explaining and learning the game are disproportionately difficult.
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42. Board Game: Up Front [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:195]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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To a degree you could include nearly any Avalon Hill game. This though really is the poster child though for badly written rules. Could and should be explained in half the pages.
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43. Board Game: Byzantium [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:999]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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I know yet another Martin Wallace game, but I am Ok with Brass and After the Flood, but this one yuk. I sold it through the geek as I really had no idea how to play it. I am sure it must be easier than the rulebook makes it seem.
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44. Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:111]
Blorb Plorbst
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
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Once you play one round, it couldn't be simpler:

Buy/Sell stocks
Private Companies Operate
Lay Track
Lay Tokens
Run Trains
Dividends
Buy Trains
Repeat

I love that the rules quickly become transparent and you're just left to run a railroad.
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45. Board Game: Insula [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:6706]
Everett Warren
United States
Marietta
Pennsylvania
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We played our first game of this Friday. I had read the rules ~ which are not only divided into a basic and advanced game, but are staggered to introduce concepts as they come up ~ but we still spent a lot of time checking things and wondering what to do next... and then it hit us that we were expecting it to be more complicated and confusing, and it was really all fairly straight-forward.
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46. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:72]
Christopher Seguin
United States
Cleveland
Ohio
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The rule book here is a killer! It actually includes the phrase:

"Do not leap out houses," As though the favorite past-time of the ancient European traders of thee 15th Century were jumping over privies for excercise!

Once you play the game, it is pretty straight forward, though. Place some cubes, finish a route, get a bonus. Definitely one of those games you have to learn from PLAYING, not READING!
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47. Board Game: Pax Romana [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:1312]
Rob Doupe
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Make no mistake, this is a wargame with a lot of rules. However, the core mechanics are quite straightforward, and most of the rules are for special units and events that you don't need to know until they're activated.

I've taught and played this with non-wargamers and we haven't had much trouble. They understand the mechanics of 90 per cent of the actions they need to take in the game, and we reference the rules the other 10 per cent of the time.
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48. Board Game: Warrior Knights [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:583]
Darren Copple
United States
New Ipswich
New Hampshire
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This one sat on the shelf for 3 years, as my friend and I tried time and again to get thru the rules, but usually at Holiday time, making it hard to concentrate on them. Last year decided we were going to play come hell or high water. After 2 hours of reading and playing thru, we were delighted to find a pretty simple game that could be taught in 10 minutes.

Who knew?

shake
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49. Board Game: Java [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:468]
Jeffery Qualey
United States
Odenton
Maryland
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I had to read through a couple times before I got it. It is far more intuitive than it seems to be. I see that Tikal was already mentioned, and this game has some very similar play - especially in the action points.

One particular issue is that I could not find an early reference for what a city was. There is a small reference to it later in the book that a city is a village with a palace in it. Until that point, I did not know if 2, 3, or more connected village tiles made a city.
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50. Board Game: Colossal Arena [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:536]
Joshua Buergel
United States
Seattle
Washington
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This is quite a simple game, but you'd never know it from the rulebook. I remember reading the rules to this one, was puzzled by it, read through it again with some cards out and when it clicked, thinking "that's it?" I should look at how the reprint explains things to see if the rules are more clear.
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