Learning Through BGG Pics How Others Play the Game
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Every game group, often unconsciously, puts its own stamp on boardgame play. One of the interesting aspects of the pics on BGG is that they reveal the quite different styles of the many diverse groups out there. It's fun to look at BGG pics and to read what they reveal about each group's different traditions.

Different groups might have different house rules, rules interpretations, different strategic styles, and sometimes just different ways of laying out the board.

Here are a few that caught my eye recently. I encourage you to add your own findings.
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1. Board Game: MarraCash [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1719]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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This is the pic that inspired this list. There is a lot of interesting information in the picture that points the way to a different way of playing the game than our group employs.

Little things first. First, this group plays with screens. Ours does not, and no screens came with my game. I assume these screens were created to hide the game money.

Second, this group doesn't use paper money. They use chips. I often read on BGG that players prefer chips to paper money, but our group has never bothered with a substitution.

Most intriguingly, the board reveals that these players make quite different strategic choices than our group tends to make.

It looks to me as though only one green shop was auctioned for the entire game. That green shop consequently has eight visitors. Three blue shops were sold, but one of them has the vast majority of the visitors. Only two red shops were auctioned and received visitors.

Our group tends to auction off many more shops. We rarely have this many visitors to a single store, because we often focus on auctioning off additional shops to dilute any one shop's power. May or may not be the right strategy, but that's how we tend to play.
 
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2. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Carcassonne pictures reveal a lot of different playing techniques. One picture shows two players playing with a clock. A number of pictures show Meeples on the tiles, some standing, some lying flat (our group makes no such distinctions.) In other pictures, Meeples seem to sit astride two tiles (our group scrupulously only places on the tile just drawn, even if it's a slim sliver of a city section.)

This pic, however, is the most interesting to me, because it reveals that the game group plays with very different strategic conceptions than ours tends to use. Here you see blue and green in the right foreground each investing three meeples in a single city against each other, even though the city might not become connected. In the left foreground, green and grey have done something similar. On the right, you see that the black player has put two Meeples in the same potential city area, even though there doesn't seem to be another threat to that city.

Our group is much more diverse with our meeple placements. We're unlikely to load up several meeples to hold one city unless it's really clear that we're going to need to hold our own in a city-sharing situation.
 
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3. Board Game: San Marco [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:512]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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In our games of San Marco, occasionally there are some regions that get cube-happy, whereas others end up being quite barren. It's hardly ever the case, though, that all players' cubes tend to be all over the board. Usually, with our group, banishments prevent this from happening.

In our group I don't think I've ever seen as cube-heavy a concentration as you see here, and which is repeated on some other pictures.

Here, each of white and blue have six cubes in San Marco. San Polo is nevertheless crowded also; white has six more cubes there. Up in Canareggio, pieces seem to be strewn across the region (also something else our group tends not to do; we tend to cluster them together for easy counting.) Sparse regions are nowhere to be found (except possibly in the foreground.)

I don't know why our group rarely gets to these levels of concentration, but we rarely do. But then, we do tend to play more 3-player games than 4-player games.

It's interesting, because the advice I'd give to a new player would be somewhat different if I expected it to take this many cubes to win a region.
 
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4. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:53]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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There are some El Grande pictures that show players with their bidding cards visible to their opponents. In our group we hide our bidding cards.

What's most interesting to me here is that the players seem to have little holding areas that are divided into two sections. I assume they must have been made by the players? In our group, we keep the provinces over to one side of the board, and only when placed in the court do we move followers over in front of us.
 
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5. Board Game: Mamma Mia! [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1277] [Average Rating:6.48 Unranked]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Now here's one that never occurred to me. Maybe the rules tell you to do this, but I've never checked. This group shows everyone the orders that each player has already filled. Our group allows everyone to know the total number of orders already filled, but we keep the specific ones secret (except insofar as players remember them.)

Obviously, it changes the tactics of the game enormously if you know which orders your opponents have yet to fill. I don't know whether we're playing it wrong, or whether this is just a matter of group interpretation.
 
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6. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Silly little thing, but every picture I've ever seen of Lost Cities has the cards placed outside the edge of the board.

We play the top of the bottom card just onto the edge of the board, so that the cards trail off and are connected to the board. Don't know why, it might simply be a legacy of playing the game in close, tight spaces on long trips.
 
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7. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:207]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Looks like a member of the open-holdings school of Acquire. We play with closed holdings, except that we allow each player to ask one question per turn about the hand of an opponent of his choice.
 
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8. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Jon David Faeth
United States
Hilliard
Ohio
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We use the board.
 
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9. Board Game: Trias [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1675]
Kristian
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Having a grid under Pangea is a great idea. The continents tend to drift on their own and future joining of land-masses and measuring distance to the South Pole is made difficult. Always meant to do it, but never looked for a suitable grid.
 
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10. Board Game: Bonaparte at Marengo [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:1175]
Mark Christopher
United States
Salem
Massachusetts
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In the wonderful game, Bonaparte at Marengo, this is how to get nasty Frenchies out of a village.
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I've never been able to lure the French into battle as effectively as this Austrian player has.
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11. Board Game: Torres [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:401]
P B
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Here is a mega-tower strategy being played out. 8 stories tall with a base of 9.

72 points!
 
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12. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
Greg Poulos
United States
Oak Park
Illinois
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I guess there's more to starting a game company than just having a name... :(
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What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, a gaming machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this gamer does is sleep and eat and place little meeples, and that's all.
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Ra: Not only are they using mats to place the pieces on, (which while it's an interesting idea I think the freedom to place your acquired tiles in the manner you best see fit is a nice touch of personal expresion) but the placement of the Ra piece is intriguing... In between bidding rounds we'll place it on the next open Ra tile space until an auction is triggered. What happens with it once an auction is triggered remains a point of contention even within the group. Some like to place the piece in front of the player standing up if Ra is called by the player and lay it down if the auction is kicked off by drawing a tile. While others, more correctly, always place the piece standing up even though this might "confuse" some of the players. There is not enough evidence in this picture to prove conclusively one way or the other how this group treats the orientation of the Ra piece.
 
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13. Board Game: Tikal [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:217]
Paul McKinney
United States
Houston
Texas
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I just got Tikal and when reading the rules it didn't seem clear if the treasures should be placed face down or face up on the just played hex. I assumed face down as that was how the initial game setup placed them, but it took this picture to solidify that my assumption is correct (assuming they are playing correctly ).
 
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14. Board Game: Tikal [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:217]
Paul McKinney
United States
Houston
Texas
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I just got Tikal and when reading the rules it didn't seem clear if the treasures should be placed face down or face up on the just played hex. I assumed face down as that was how the initial game setup placed them, but it took this picture to solidify that my assumption is correct (assuming they are playing correctly ).
 
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15. Board Game: Plunder [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:3903]
Lee Hancox
Australia
Melbourne
Vic
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In our house we try to break with stereo-typical geek tradition and invite the girls to play. All this picture is missing is one the girls barefoot in the kitchen, pregnant and bringing pizza and beer to the table.
 
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16. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:317]
Tom Thingamagummy
United States
Oakland
California
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Don't make me bust out the drama!!
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Panda is a Werewolf. The Village wins!
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My goodness! Only three quests completed, and they're almost full up of siege engines. Our group is completely terrified of them.
 
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17. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:203]
Christine Doiron
United States
Juneau
Alaska
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I won. This is why I beat my husband over and over again at hive.
 
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