What's with negative 20?
J Weintraub
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I just noticed that two Euros I like to play both have players start at -20. Is this even more common? What games can you think of that start you with negative points (20 or otherwise) and you then have to climb out of the hole to score positively?
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1. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:351]
J Weintraub
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Each of your unplayed meeples is worth -1 point. So at the start of the game, your score is -20.
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2. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:298]
J Weintraub
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Every time you start a new color, your score in that color is -20. Since you can start a color with a contract card, your score at the start can actually be -40 in a color.
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3. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:127] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Kelly Bass
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If your first 3 tickets are:
Toronto - Miami (10)
NY - Atlanta (6)
Denver - El Paso (4)

You could start the game with -20.
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4. Board Game: Magic Realm [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:942]
GodRob
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Culpeper
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While primarily used for killing vampires, a wooden stake to the heart is also highly effective against most other opponents.
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You start out with a negative score in Magic Realm, the exact number varies depending on where you put your victory requirements.

If you put one point into each of the five categories and have no starting equipment to pay for, at best you'll start with a Score of -30.

If you were playing the Black Knight with a starting cost of 30 and put all five points into Gold, you would start with a Score of -108! If you somehow lost your starting 10 gold pieces, your score would then drop to a miserable -114!
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5. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
Carl Karnuth
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Technically starts at -20, but with two family members, really -14.
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6. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:340]
Chris
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Ronkonkoma
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Loosely fits -- you start needing 20 points to win (so you're already in the hole). During the game, you can purchase items that help you score points (but each has a cost -- namely upping your victory requirements, so each player has a different end game condition).

Closest to Magic Realm, I guess, in that respect.
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7. Board Game: Maori [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1667]
Julian Anstey
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Barry
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You score -1 per empty sea space, so you start with -16 in the basic game, or -19 when playing with the atol side of the board.
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8. Board Game: Seasons [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:161]
François + Daphné
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Each unplayed card at the end of the game is worth -5 points. So you start the game at -45.
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9. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:67]
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For each of the three levels of the cathedral where you have no cube at the end of the game, there is a -2 penalty. You start the game with -6.
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10. Board Game: Fantastiqa [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1450]
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Each "cup" on a quest is worth 1 point if the quest is fulfilled and -1 point if not. Since you start the game with a "1 cup quest", you already have -1 point.

This is similar to Ticket to Ride, in a way.
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11. Board Game: Sticheln [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:812]
Tim Mierz
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Connecticut
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In the trick-taking game Sticheln, you choose a "pain suit" from the cards in your hand; cards of that suit count as negative points, and cards you take are positive. Since the card you choose to represent your pain suit also counts against you, you start at a negative score (occasionally -0) and need to win tricks to hopefully get positive.
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12. Board Game: Blokus [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:527]
Tim Mierz
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Connecticut
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In the Blokus family of games, you score -1 point per square on unplaced tiles, much like the Thurn und Taxis example.
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