What Are Your Top Three Brain Burners?
Karen Knoblaugh
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San Jose
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I would have said "top five" but some might not have that many. Having said that, if you do have a top-five list, I'd love to know what they are!
I have quite a few that I have heard are brain burners but haven't played them yet, but of the ones I have played here is my list:

Trajan
Castles of Burgundy
Dominant Species
Ora et Labora
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar

(Once I get them to the table, I'm sure I will be adding Torres, Key Harvest and Terra Mystica to the list as well.)
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1. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:25]
Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game
Matt Brown
United States
Okemos
Michigan
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Mage Knight, 4.1.
Earth Reborn, 3.8.
War of the Ring, 3.8.

Honorable mention since I don't own it but play it with friends, Starcraft. Another is Strike of the Eagle even though it has a much lower weight. It is using the "wargamer weight" scale.
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2. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:298] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror
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Arkham Horror solo is it for me. I play using four investigators. For now the brain burning is making sure I get all the rules right. But that is slowly passing and I am more and more focusing on getting those gates closed and sealed as efficiently as possible. Time is of the essence in that game and their are a lot of distractions.


Board Game: 7 Wonders


Second as of now is Seven Wonders. While the mechanics seem easy, their is some pretty deep gameplay going on. Trying to weigh what card I need vs making sure I'm not passing on a choice card to an opponent is key. You have to figure out your strategy and theirs. If I grab this card now, will this other card I'm passing on still be in the hand when it comes back around to me?

Mage Knight is in the mail and I suspect that will be in the list, but for now:

Board Game: Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game


My son always wants to play, and this is a mean co-op. You start the game with three actions; move, attack or support. Once you have picked an action, it will not be available the following turn. So you really need to think ahead and coordination with your teammate is so important. Also, each action has a unique turn order on it that is different from your teammates. Deciding who does what gets even more consideration when you have to figure out in what order everyone gets to do it. Note, this is just with the base game's enemies. I have not even played the expansions advanced enemies that I hear are tougher and smarter.

For the Emperor!



Note: I understand some people may scratch their heads and say 'These are your brain burners?'. All I can say is these represent my current brain burners. I have a large collection, but I am now in the habit of only playing a small amount of games repeatedly. In this way I hope to discover all there is to discover for the game plus it means we don't have to keep relearning a game that you play every on e in awhile.
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3. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:53]
Board Game: Dominant Species
Edward Uhler
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Commerce City
Colorado
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My favorite game is also a mother of a euro heavyweight. I'd also throw in City Tycoon and, I guess, Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, although the latter being the least brain burner of the bunch.
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4. Board Game: Magic Realm [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:1143]
Board Game: Magic Realm
Jay Richardson
United States
Lindsborg
Kansas
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Magic Realm tops my list of brain burners... but not just plain ol' Magic Realm with its 122-page rulebook. I play with two game sets combined, giving twice the map area (and twice the number of monsters, often appearing in combinations that cannot occur in the regular game), almost all of the official optional rules, and the 250-page Book of Quests variant.

From gallery of richfam


Second place goes to Advanced Squad Leader, an endlessly expanding system with even more rules than Magic Realm. ASL is hands down the most enjoyable wargame that I've ever played, and I will never tire of it.

Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader


Third place is harder to chose, as there are several games that could fit here, but I'll go with Freedom in the Galaxy. This is one of the most intricate games that you will ever play, despite it not actually having that many rules. Set in a galaxy of 26 planetary systems with over 50 inhabited planets, the game features everything from hand-to-hand combat between individual characters to large-scale maneuvers/battles with armies & space fleets to devices that can destroy an entire planet.

Board Game: Freedom in the Galaxy

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5. Board Game: The Stars Are Right [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:3053]
Board Game: The Stars Are Right
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1. The Stars Are Right
2. Ice Flow
3. RoboRally

I own Key Harvest and I have played it once. I greatly enjoyed it, but at no point did I feel my noodle baking per say.
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6. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:39]
Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
Jordan S.
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Plano
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Played this yesterday for the first time. It gave me an actual, real headache. Granted, it may have been one that was already building due to playing Terra Mystica just before it. Which leads me to my next item...
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7. Board Game: Phoenicia [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1918]
Board Game: Phoenicia
Steve Kennedy

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Love the game but it can be a rough play at first. It does grow on you though.

Key Harvest would be next. I can't get my wife to play this again.

Troyes sure started that moment of being too much, but like our first play of Power Grid, it got easier.

Canoe would probably my 3rd choice. It too seems simple at first but it can be a slog through rules and game play.
 
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8. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:80]
Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates
Brad Morgan
United States
Schenectady
New York
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Caylus
Board Game: Caylus



Power Grid
Board Game: Power Grid



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9. Board Game: Dragon Dice [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:7776]
Board Game: Dragon Dice
Travis Dean
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Escondido
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Dragon Dice is one of my favorite games right now. It's got the CCG elements that M:tG has without the continual time/money-sink. Dice are always tournament-legal and don't go out of print, so making a Dragon Dice collection would be like making an M:tG Cube Draft collection, in terms of $$/time investment. You have a large pool of dice to build your armies and your opposition can vary widely. It's a good strategy game with several difficult, but valuable options. Dice may be considered random, but each dice is a specific class (such as melee, missile, or magic), so you can focus your army to get fairly reliable results.

Board Game: A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)

A Game of Thrones: The Board Game is similar to Diplomacy in the way warfare is handled, but adds leader cards to change up your strategy and timing in battles. The game also ends very quickly in comparison to Diplomacy, lasting on average around 3 hours.

Board Game: Arimaa

Arimaa is a great board game similar to Chess but complete different with deep strategies that are yet to be discovered.
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10. Board Game: König von Siam [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1235]
Board Game: König von Siam
Tomas Lundin
Sweden
Åtvidaberg
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Unlike so many games on this geeklist, here's a little somethin' that will turn your brain into a cheese fondue. Great game without obvious plays!

Second place:

TZAAR. Impressive abstract by Kris Burm with simple rules.

Third place:

Clans by Leo Colovini. If played competitively, this is brain-melting stuff.
 
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11. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:82]
Board Game: Trajan
Randolph Bookman
United States
Los Angeles
California
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This game and then pretty much every
Uwe Rosenberg game
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12. Board Game: Dungeon Twister [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:932]
Board Game: Dungeon Twister
Juan Carlos Goyes
Colombia
Bogota
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1. Dungeon Twister
2. Kamisado
3. Vanuatu


Horonable mention
Reef Encounter
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13. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:55]
Board Game: Caylus
Kreisais Tokens
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Caylus - for our gaming group not any game played shorter than 4 hours. That tells something.
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island - sometimes it is so hard to survive in the damn island. And all decisions may be fatal. Even , if you are discussing them with partner or group.
Citadels - you have to follow the game all the time. Literally. Many players take Citadels like a filler and just pick their role, after that get killed and then say that it's a stupid game. So my advice is - follow everything, analyze all other players and feel the rhytm of game. And yes, it can be brain burning, if you are really into it.

Other possible mentions: Agricola, Acquire, Neuroshima Hex! 3.0.
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