"No, that goes there!"—Games that need a "game manager"
Dan Edelen
United States
Mount Orab
Ohio
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Face it, some games have plenty of

setup issues,
fiddly pieces,
play administration
score tracking, and
rules that interact with an endless series of other rules.


What your game needs is a

GAME MANAGER!


That special someone who somehow manages to keep play flowing by ensuring that game pieces move where they should, chits get placed where needed, cards are distributed from the deck correctly, rules are mentally stored and recalled for resolving disputes, scores are tallied accurately, and everyone has fun!

Which games most demand that someone step up and be that totally awesome game manager? And why?

Please feel free to add those games that would suffer in play without that one conscientious soul who steps up to make certain the game runs like a Swiss watch.



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1. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:261]
Dan Edelen
United States
Mount Orab
Ohio
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Hotspots, wall damage, exploding hazardous materials, people and pet placement, and spreading fires—what brave soul will venture forth and ensure that all these game actions go off without a hitch? Why it's your Flash Point game manager!
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2. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:32]
Dan Edelen
United States
Mount Orab
Ohio
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And just who lays out the power station cards properly and makes sure the fuel sources are correct in the market? Your friendly Power Grid game manager.
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3. Board Game: Airlines Europe [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:307]
Dan Edelen
United States
Mount Orab
Ohio
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A card tableaux to refresh, itty bitty plane models to hand out, a stock price track, additional plane route bonuses to add, paper money, etc. SOMEONE has to handle these for smooth gameplay!
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4. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:19]
Mal Content
United States
Caln Township
Pennsylvania
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You need one person appointed to resupply after each round. Doesn't necessarily have to be the same person, as long as it's just one person. If everyone helps, then you run into questions about what was and wasn't already done.

"Did you already put a stone on that spot?"
"No, but I think I got the other spot."
"How come there's two sheep, didn't someone take sheep last round?"
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5. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:244] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Jonathan Berry
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
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One of my favorite games but the setup on this game is insane. There are also a lot of little rules that have to be understood. Typically when I play this game I am always involved with the other players during their turns as they ask me questions about what something does, or the order of combat, monster limiits, ect, ect.

AWESOME game tho! Love playing this game!
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6. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:129] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Dave Weiss
United States
South Dakota
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I find that whenever I play this game I have to keep things in order for everyone else.

Due to the size of the board, it's typically easier to have one person that handles the deck and other people just request cards from them.

On top of that, everyone is so focused on their cards, the board, and their plans that people will play out of order. Or 3 people will try to take their turns right on top of each other before we can adjust for score.

For a non-time limited game, people just always seem on edge to make their next play.
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7. Board Game: Europa Universalis [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:4023]
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
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Frankly, I have no idea how people manage to play
this without more or less assigning an arbiter.

The rules are so full of inconsistencies and omissions
that it really requires a single decision maker as to
how to interpret them.

Perhaps the fan-revised versions (e.g. EU 8) provide a more
solid basis, but even then, the massive quantity and organizational
issues makes it almost imperative to rely on something other
than players trying to raise questions continuously.
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8. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:157]
Ian Klinck
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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...for the resolution phase, that is. During the action phase, everyone has to look after their own responsibilities!
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9. Board Game: Le Havre [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:40]
Kenny VenOsdel
United States
Saint Paul
Minnesota
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My wife found out how badly you need a game manager when she tried to teach this to her parents when I wasn't around. She couldn't believe how much harder it was to play without me there!
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10. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:30]
scott Murray
Australia
Ridgewood
West Australia
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Did you remember corruption?
Has anyone reseeded the card row?
What? you knocked your board and can't remember your science?

Enter the Ageless game manager
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11. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:346]
Amanda Daly
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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Its been helpful to have one person push the robots around to make sure everything is activated properly.
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12. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:50]
 
Just Another User
United States
Mundelein
Illinois
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The game is fiddily, but not too much; everyone can pretty much manage their own boards and fleets. The problem I see is the myriad amount of actions and responses to other's actions: there are so many different things to think about, that players get caught up in their planning and don't pay attention to the flow of the game. There is no real "down-time"; you need to at least declare "play or pass" for everyone else's actions throughout the game, and Action Card play could come at any time which may also demand a response, etc.

I've found it necessary to have one person continually call out the actions, almost as a game master, in order to prevent extended down time: "Ready for Strategy Phase; any AC card play? End of Strategy Phase; any last-minute AC for Strategy Phase? Ok, Action Phase starts now; SC Card 1: take your primary action. Everyone, we are performing 2dy actions for SC Card 1: yes or no?" And so on.

And given my record in TI3, I think I'm a better GM than a player...it's worth it, though, if new players have a good enough game experience that they keep coming back...
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13. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:85]
Michael Ramirez

Seymour
Wisconsin
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I always find myself distributing power, making sure the supply tracr is accurate, and the victory tract. As a matter of fact all the damn tracts! Har har
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14. Board Game: Merchant of Venus [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:728]
Matt Campbell
United States
Lincoln
Nebraska
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This requires someone to keep track of all the various chits for cargo and space potatoes, as well as manage all the deeds. Still great fun!
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15. Board Game: The New Easy to Master Dungeons & Dragons [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:4627]
United States
San Clemente
California
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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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IF EVER there were a game that needed a Game Manager, it is Dungeons & Dragons. I started playing this game in 1977, and while we had great fun playing, we could never agree on what adventure we would go on, what monsters we would encounter on the way, or much of anything else when we played. Sure it's fun to hang out with friends and brag about your character, but after a while, there just seemed to point to the game.

If D&D had some sort of 'Game Manager' to help guide the players, make (reasonably) impartial decisions for them, keep the adventure moving, prepare surprises for them, etc., then this game could really take off - it could be _huge_. Maybe even start a whole genre of gaming, much like 'We the People' did with card driven games ...

Just my 2 cents ...
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16. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:152]
Jeff Burgess
Canada
Ontario
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This gets more and more needed as you add more people to the game. If it's your turn and you 'lead' everyone else gets to 'follow' and do some actions as well. If you just 'think' then it's immediately the next players turn.

It's very easy to lose track of who the first player is or if only 3 of the 4 have completed their follow actions.

Thus a game manager works great for tracking what is going on. Or almost certainly things will flow well for 8-10 turns and then suddenly everyone loses track of where you are.
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17. Board Game: Nightfall [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1346] [Average Rating:6.52 Unranked]
Jeff Burgess
Canada
Ontario
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Similar to my GtR manager above, this is mostly due to everyone getting to act on every players turn. It's fine in 2-3 players, but in 4-5 it's needed unless everyone is really on the ball.

A common situation in 5p - P1 starts a chain, P2 adds to it, P3 passes, P4, Passes, P5 adds to the chain. P5 resolves their actions...and P2 should go next. The ability for people to pass breaks the cycle of play order and it's pretty easy for people to not realize it is their turn due to this. Suddenly you realize no one is playing cards and you have to unwind what happened and who's turn it is - unless you have a game manager letting people know.
 
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18. Board Game: Advanced Civilization [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Jack Otto
United States
Arlington Heights
Illinois
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This one is a nightmare unless you have somebody managing the game. Just in the getting cards phase, you have to manage up to 8 players getting a variable number of trade cards in a specific order. Then after the trading phase, you have to manage calamities, which invariable involves looking up the rules. I will usually get people in the rhythm of the game, reminding everybody to expand population, move, etc.
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19. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:72]
Adam Brocker
United States
Gilbert
Arizona
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Time track on this one really makes it require a manager. Making sure that it gets updated at the end of every turn.
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