Area Control Games: Your favourites and why
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I enjoy area control games, not least because of how it demands interaction and creates tension through constant shifts of power across the board. Geeklists on the subject of area control games have appeared before, but I figured it was time for a more current one, which could have the benefit of including recent games as well.

The BGG page for the area control category describes it as follows:

The Area Control mechanic typically awards control of an area to the player that has the majority of units or influence in that area. As such, it can be viewed as a sub-category of Auction/Bidding in that players can up their "bids" for specific areas through the placement of units or meeples.

In El Grande, for instance, players earn their score in a region by having the most caballeros in that region.


What are some outstanding examples of area control games? How well does this mechanic work in those games? And what is it that you like about it? These are the kinds of questions I'm interested in, and here's where I need your help and input.

Please add to this list any particularly good games with a strong area control element. If you add a game to the list, please share something about how area control works in the game in question, and what you like about it. I'll get things started with a couple of my personal favourites. I know that there are many other great area control games out there, but I'll leave them to be added by people who are more familiar with them and can comment on the game-play. If one of your favourites has already been added, please just comment under that item rather than having multiple entries of the same game.

I look forward to reading the comments and contributions from my fellow gamers about some great area control games!
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76. Board Game: Condottiere [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:826]
Mark Mitchell
United Kingdom
Brighton
East Sussex
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(1st and 2nd Editions not FFG version)
Simulating warring feudal Italy using mercenaries and papal influence.

Objective is the first player to control x (usually 3 i think) amount of bordering territories.
Lovely cards and components firstly.
This is pure area control with great card play, bluff and hand management. A brutal classic that encourages negotiation, backstabbing and clever card play with a big dose peacock strutting bluff that can end up with a string of cowardly retreats forcing out an enemies good cards. Keep holding out too long though and you'll lose your opportunity. The FFG version is a mess but the original just plays so beautifully. A classic.
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77. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:152] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Perry Clayton
United States
Hanceville
Alabama
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I am, admittedly, not what you'd call an experienced board gamer. I'm kind of curious why this game is not already on the list. It's a great game and you win points by having more meeples in a city, on a road, on a farm, than your opponents.

It's my favorite because it's so basic, so easy to learn, yet after a quick game, my wife and I still feel like we've had a satisfying game experience.
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78. Board Game: Rex: Final Days of an Empire [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:665]
Pas L
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
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How it works: Over the course of 8 rounds up to 6 asymmetric races will try to gain control over a number of strongholds on the map and claim victory, either by themselves or as port of an alliance. They will use their units to compete for control of areas and to gather money from the map.

Why I like it: This is a mixture of basic area control through unit placement with diplomacy, tactical combat, and broad strategy. It is highly interactive and plays very differently each time around. Race differences make playing the game different for each side, but though there are a couple of different routes to victory the state of the map and the areas players control is central throughout.
 
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79. Board Game: Ming Dynasty [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:6241]
Imtiaz
Singapore
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From BGG description:
Quote:
In the middle of the 14th Century the Chinese people succeeded in freeing themselves from the rule of the Mongols. With the accession to the throne of emperor Tai-Tsu they developed a rising country: China.
Each player takes the role of an imperial prince and tries to gain influence with his family members during the growth of the Chinese people during the Ming dynasty. Place your fellow supporters securely into the 6 Chinese provinces, which are each divided into 3 prefectures. In order where your own family members get majorities into the administration you will be recompensed during the election rounds with gifts from the emperor.
Only the player with the most balanced collection of influence chips will be able to continue as next emperor of the Ming dynasty.


Photo credit: Richard van Vugt (richardsgamepack)
 
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80. Board Game: Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:4395]
Matthew Mesina
United States
Bethel Park
Pennsylvania
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Huh? Not mentioned Yet? You call yourselves geeks?

Why I Like It: It's Batman, one of the coolest fictional characters ever created, if not wholly original, and the standard-bearer for modern mythology. The game seamlessly blends Euro mechanics with Ameritrash theme and mechanics. (Some of the best games of all time do this.) The HeroClix dials that allow the characters to level up are a fresh element in area control games that is usually reserved for dungeon crawlers. The fact that you get to play as a villain, and send Batman after your rivals, a move which may backfire, btw, is just plan fun. Having to fight Batman, who becomes increasingly more difficult to defeat as he studies and learns your techniques, is among the scariest dice rolls I've ever had to make. Each villain is unique and true to character. The decisions to make are relatively simple, so the game plays fast. The mechanic of having each card in your hand have 2 possible uses is fun without bogging the player down with choices. The components are great. All the rules are on the (admittedly large) player screens.

Only flaw is that it needs an expansion. (Not really, but it would be nice.) Oh, and the huge players screens are easy to knock over. Also, I'd like some tiny Harley Quinn minis...dare to dream.
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81. Board Game: Eight-Minute Empire: Legends [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:743]
Dan Edelen
United States
Mount Orab
Ohio
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I'll put in a good word for this fast but satisfying area-control game with an equally strong set collection element.

Eight-Minute Empire was a good game, but Legends takes the ideas in it and makes them better, with deeper, richer play. It's a fantastic gateway game, but hardcore gamers will also find it an exceptional filler, playable in under half an hour.

I think it's one of those games that belongs in any collection. With its fantasy theme and area control element, it's a faster-playing, more focused version of Small World that even Small World haters will enjoy.
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82. Board Game: Omertà, el poder de la mafia [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:5570]
Rodrigo González
Spain
Leganés
Madrid
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Omertà, el poder de la mafia is a highly strategic card game, in which each player leads one of the five mafia families from NYC. Set in the 30s-40s, the families have to fight for the control of their businesses (arms trade, prostitution, illegal gambling...), spread around NYC's five neighborhoods (Queens, Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn). Each family has a main goal to achieve during the game, and several secondary objectives that can make the family improve.
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83. Board Game: Rococo [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:203]
Gretchen Fontenay
United States
Apison
TN
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Area Majority not Area Control and it does it very nicely. There is also resource management and a smidgen of deckbuilding and multiple winning strategies. It's not too long- can be played in about 2 hours- but there are a lot of things to keep up with so it's a very intense two hours.
 
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84. Board Game: Inis [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:107]
Patrick M
United States
Grand Rapids
Michigan
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Why I like it:


The great thing about Inis is that it's a very delicate balancing act... Players can counter-balance one another well, so there are no run away victories. Normally, the tug-of-war aspect could get tedious, but since there are three distinct victory conditions, players have a bit of room to breath. The artwork is some of the best I've seen in a board game. There's a great amount of suspense involved with determining who has which action card... and there are a multitude of strategies that can lead to victory, due to all the wonderful card abilities.
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