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Subject: few choices - much strategy rss

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Luis Brunson

Florida
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My continuing quest to find games to play with my family. My group usually consists of myself, my wife, and her mother. Sometimes my son (8) will join in. He's fairly proficient with Catan, Ticket to Ride, Sushi Go, and even Agricola (family). I've found that mechanics like Variable Player Powers and Action Point Allowance Systems are difficult for my mom-in-law in particular. Are there games with minimum choices but are still difficult and reward strategy?

* minimal choices
* good amount of strategy (skill>luck)
* anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes is an OK length.
* light to medium-light is probably good. Think family game.
* not too abstract. (edit)

note: reading between the lines... I want to play heavier games but don't have a group to play them with. My only option is to wait for Dice Tower Con to scratch that itch once a year. I'm trying to find a fulfilling game with the players I have.
 
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Kyle
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How can you develop strategy without choices?
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Vanilla Ice
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darthain wrote:
How can you develop strategy without choices?


Could be he's looking for games with a narrow range of choices that occur a lot over the course of a game.

e.g. Ra - draw a tile or call Ra (or play a God tile)
 
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I'm thinking:

Cacao

Carcassonne

Alhambra

There is some luck in all of them (tile drawing), but the strategy (where to put the tiles) is the key element.

Another thought with a bit more weight:

Istanbul offers lots of strategies to achieve the goal.

Each of these games has one or more expansions to add more variety to gameplay.
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Tim Tix
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darthain wrote:
How can you develop strategy without choices?


The OP qrote "few" and "minimal". Neither is saying "without", isn't it?

I guess one could translate that into "few different choices"? Like, Go doesn't have many different choices... but one: move a stone. (Argh, well, I don't know much about Go, so don't badger me if that was nonsense. Hope you get what I want to say.)

While writing that... I think of Baseball Highlights: 2045. Each mini-game has just 6 cards... so only 6 (and less) choices each turn. It's definitely a skill game, if more tactical than strategic. But there's (a lot of) strategy in the deck-building. Edit: It oozes theme
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Mr. Blue
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Splendor may be a good choice. It's an efficient little engine-builder that's easy to teach and fun to play.
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Luis Brunson

Florida
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I forgot to say that I'd also like to stray from something too abstract. I enjoy theme. I know that ramps the difficulty of recommendations way up. I feel like limited choices with lots of strategy is probably of the definition of abstract.

Splendor is high on my list. I've played it before and like it quite a bit. It's a little on the abstract side, but it has enough theme that I'm ok with it. My imagination is healthy.
 
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Bryan
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If you're into co-op games I would suggest forbidden island. It's terribly simple (my 6 year old gets it), but can be hard, and strategic if played on higher difficulty levels (there's a sliding scale of difficulty).

I've personally had a lot of success getting non-gamers into smash up since it has factions that appeal to a wide range of people. It is admittedly a little more complex, but I don't see it as terribly difficult. If you could get them into it, it would certainly be a game that might scratch your itch.
 
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Andrew VanSpronsen
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A couple of great choices include:

Via Nebula: gateway route builder with pickup and deliver wrapped in a fantasy, village building theme. Brilliant production by Space Cowboys and Designed by Martin Wallace. On every turn you have two action points which will usually see you perform two actions...sometimes just one. Simple mechanics...thinky game play

Council of Four is a card driven route builder with a very satisfying rewards escalation mechanics. You are essentially manipulating and paying off officials to get building permits which you are then using to build emporiums in various cities that, when done right, will cause an increasing in size reward chain to trigger. There are also races to occupy certain sets of towns for big victory points. You can perform one of a small number of actions and then a secondary action as well each round.

Both games have great aids which clearly outline your options each round.
 
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Justin Fuhrmann
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Traders of Osaka is the first thing I thought of. It describes this perfectly.
 
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Russ Williams
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TimTix wrote:
The OP qrote "few" and "minimal". Neither is saying "without", isn't it?

True, but the point remains: if there are few choices, then the game can't have much strategy. (If the number of choices is sufficiently low, you could easily read out the whole game tree and play optimally, e.g. as in Tic-Tac-Toe.)

Quote:
I guess one could translate that into "few different choices"? Like, Go doesn't have many different choices... but one: move a stone. (Argh, well, I don't know much about Go, so don't badger me if that was nonsense. Hope you get what I want to say.)


I.e. you mean few different TYPES of choices? In Go, every turn you place a stone, so there's only one type of choice, in that basic mechanical sense. But there are on average several hundred different places where you might place that stone each turn, so I wouldn't say there are "few different choices". And you typically make a hundred moves or more in a game, so Go's game tree is both bushy and deep, due to the large number of choices you make in it.
 
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Dave H
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7 Wonders sounds like it would fit the bill. The only choice you get is to pick 1 card each turn and pass the rest on, but there's still a lot of depth in choosing which card to keep.
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Phil DeKoning
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Bozeman
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Arboretum -- Draw two cards, play one into your arboretum, discard another.

My group analyses this like we're doing integral calculus or something.
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Jacob Randolph
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I would definitely recommend K2

Everyone has two climbers, parachute pants and squiggly pants, and the goal is to get them as high up the mountain as you can without letting them run out of oxygen and die.

Every turn you play 3 of the 6 cards in your hand which let you move up the mountain, down the mountain, or increase your oxygen supply. You go through your deck twice and whoever is left standing and got their climber(s) higher up the mountain wins. There are spots/ weather that increases/decrease your oxygen and an easy and hard side of the board.

There's a little luck in when you draw the right cards and a lot of skill in when you play the cards and how you move up the mountain.

60-90 min

medium-light. My family learned it and played it pretty easily but it ended up not being for them.

not too abstract. The game could have easily been an abstract except the theme makes so much sense it doesn't feel like one at all.

Try it for free on http://en.boardgamearena.com/ to see if it's for you.
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Bryan
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Another good choice I just thought of is fluxx. The rules are made by the cards, and sitting in front of your face the entire time.
 
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mister lee
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Lughaidh wrote:
My continuing quest to find games to play with my family. My group usually consists of myself, my wife, and her mother. Sometimes my son (8) will join in. He's fairly proficient with Catan, Ticket to Ride, Sushi Go, and even Agricola (family). I've found that mechanics like Variable Player Powers and Action Point Allowance Systems are difficult for my mom-in-law in particular. Are there games with minimum choices but are still difficult and reward strategy?

* minimal choices
* good amount of strategy (skill>luck)
* anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes is an OK length.
* light to medium-light is probably good. Think family game.
* not too abstract. (edit)

note: reading between the lines... I want to play heavier games but don't have a group to play them with. My only option is to wait for Dice Tower Con to scratch that itch once a year. I'm trying to find a fulfilling game with the players I have.


Imhotep

I think this fits your requirements.
My family enjoys this game.

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Luis Brunson

Florida
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Yeah, I guess limited types of choices is what I meant. Go is a good example. There isn't an overwhelming amount of different things you can do, the skill is in how you choose to use your 1 action.
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mister lee
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Lughaidh wrote:
Yeah, I guess limited types of choices is what I meant. Go is a good example. There isn't an overwhelming amount of different things you can do, the skill is in how you choose to use your 1 action.



Imhotep has 4 choices of moves.

Put stone on a ship
Replenish your stone sled with 3 stones
Sail a ship that is eligible to sail
Or use a blue card (2 moves in one)

That's it.

But there is some good tactics required to get the points.
There is some take that element since you can move ships that screw people.
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Bryan Cole
United Kingdom
Cottenham
Cambridgeshire
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How about Mexica. The 2015 reprint looks great and the rules are simple.
 
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Yaron Davidson
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+1 K2, Carcassonne (play without farmers at first), Cacao, Forbidden Island (or even Forbidden Desert which is a bit less simple but still very straight forward. and I think would feel less abstracty since some of the mechanics are a bit more thematic)

Maybe Eminent Domain. If you play/introduce it without the research cards it's still a pretty solid game with some strategic depth, and the different types of choices players make are fairly constrained so it can be easy to grasp without it getting too complicated (I did have good success with it for otherwise very light gamers, and they were even fine with adding the first level research cards after a couple of plays since these are mainly more-of-the-same rather than lots of individual things).

And, hmmm, if they enjoy Sushi Go then Sushi Go Party! does have some alternate cards than can make for somewhat more meaty plays. It's still light of course, but could be more interesting for you on repeat plays without becoming noticeably more difficult for them to grasp.

Iridium192 wrote:
I've personally had a lot of success getting non-gamers into smash up since it has factions that appeal to a wide range of people. It is admittedly a little more complex, but I don't see it as terribly difficult. If you could get them into it, it would certainly be a game that might scratch your itch.

I'd recommend not to unless only playing with all 4 (or at least try before you buy). At high player count it's fairly chaotic and everything changes between turns so decisions are extremely tactical and people usually don't take it too hard. But with lower counts it's more obviously strategic and it can become ridiculously AP-prone. At the very least avoid some of the decks with more internal cross-interactions and combos (robots, aliens,...) . It's really not as nice and cuddly as it looks like.

russ wrote:
I.e. you mean few different TYPES of choices? In Go, every turn you place a stone, so there's only one type of choice, in that basic mechanical sense. But there are on average several hundred different places where you might place that stone each turn, so I wouldn't say there are "few different choices". And you typically make a hundred moves or more in a game, so Go's game tree is both bushy and deep, due to the large number of choices you make in it.

In theory you're 100% right, and I vehemently agree. In practice I very often see people use "choices" for types of choices. Heck, if I had a dollar for every review where someone wrote something like "the game is really simple because there are only 3 things you can do in a turn: buy a card, play a card, move a meeple" I could buy a couple of mini-heavy games and still have spare change. (Always makes me want to comment on how I never realized how Go is super simple with just one things to do in a turn, and Chess just slightly more complex with again just one thing, move a piece, except once per game maybe move two pieces)

Vodkaman wrote:
7 Wonders sounds like it would fit the bill. The only choice you get is to pick 1 card each turn and pass the rest on, but there's still a lot of depth in choosing which card to keep.

Generally yes, but a lot of people have problems with the iconography, so for non-gamers it can seem to be a lot more complex than it really is. Probably not an issue if they can handle Catan and Agricola Family, but be aware.

BozemanPhil wrote:
Arboretum -- Draw two cards, play one into your arboretum, discard another.
My group analyses this like we're doing integral calculus or something.

Almost everybody does. Wonderful game, I wouldn't recommend for gatewayish players.

Iridium192 wrote:
Another good choice I just thought of is fluxx. The rules are made by the cards, and sitting in front of your face the entire time.

It can be fun, but it's not really one with a lot of (or even more than very very little) strategy behind the scenes.
 
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Bob Boberson
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Le Havre

It has the reputation as being a long, involved and heavy game - and it can be. But there is a short version, and the games mechanisms are extremely simple and easy to understand imo. On your turn there are only 2 choices; take the goods or enter a building. There's a lot of depth there though. I think it might fit the bill if you're all learning it at the same time.
 
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Chris Knight
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Portland
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bryancole1 wrote:
How about Mexica. The 2015 reprint looks great and the rules are simple.


+1 for Mexica or Tikal
You said no action point allowance, but... but... but these games are really pretty simple in terms of what you can do on a turn, and have lots of strategy, and would be great next step games for your son.
 
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Matt Gustafson
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Warsaw
Indiana
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Fresco
 
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