The "Fifty By Fifty" Project
Brian Bankler
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I really enjoy the ESPN "30 for 30" project. It's mainly about sporting events I know, but it tells stories from odd angles.

And I'm a fan of the "H-Index" metric. (Your "H-index" is X games you've played at least X times. So if you've played 10 games 10+ times, but haven't played 11 games 11+ times, your H-index is 10).

After years of playing lots of games a few times, I've been playing a few games many times. So, my new goal is to try and get an H=index of FIFTY. I'm giving myself until I'm fifty, which is over a half-decade away.

That's 2500 games required, but I have a few decades of gaming. Not all of these games are logged in BGG, so I'm estimating some numbers.

So -- a geeklist of the odd stories related to games I've played 50+ times.

I'll add stories of games intermittently. So far I have 27 or so games with 50+ plays. Hopefully by the time I get the existing games typed up I'll have a few more ready.

See also Joe Huber's list.

If you do this, please tag it with FiftyByFifty.
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1. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:431] [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
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Chess was the first game I played seriously. (Not all geeks are gamers, and and not all gamers are geeks, but there is an overlap. Stereotypes exist for a reason). I have 100+ tournament games (back when I was playing seriously) and thousands of skittles.

I studied Chess pretty seriously. At one point I spent several days trying to work out the combinations starting from a bizarre bishop sacrifice (just moving it where a pawn can capture it) of the Poisoned Pawn Gambit. The position started on move ten, so it was unlikely to ever show up. I decided that the sacrifice wasn't great, but the position got fantastically complicated quickly. Lots of variations.

Later that year, playing an expert (near master) player, the position came up in a tournament game. I played the move.

This particularly tournament required each player to make forty moves in two hours. Because we were both "In the book" (playing a well known opening) we'd only spent a few minutes when I made my tenth move. I got up and walked away.

An hour later the expert still hadn't responded. He finally, after about an hour and a half, declined the sacrifice and avoided all the complications. By his twentieth move, he had ~4 minutes left to make 20 moves.

I decided to blitz out my moves and see if he made a mistake, but in my haste I blundered and missed an elementary mate. This was the only time I've really ever pulled out a theoretical novelty in a tournament. After the round a bunch of experts analyzed the position together, intrigued by it.

My first game to hit fifty plays, (not counting childrens games).
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2. Board Game: Bridge [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:557]
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I learned Bridge in College, and I've been playing (off and on) for 25 years. Since moving back to San Antonio, I've played 50+ sessions a year for the last few years. I never could make expert in Chess, but I keep some hope alive for bridge.

Back when I was in DC (which has a large number of National and World Champions) I was just learning bridge. Against a local expert (not quite national) I mildly psyched (lied) a weak two bid. This didn't do much and the expert got to 3 No Trump. Rather than trying to establish my (pitiful) spade suit, i tried to guess my partner's suit. I did, but it didn't matter. After the hand, the expert said

"You could be good one day...when you lie you don't believe yourself."
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3. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:152] [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
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As a gamer who was active in the early 90s, of course I've played Magic fifty times.

Before really organized tournaments a game store held a tourney for a Box of Legends. Jordan decided not to enter, reasoning "A red/blue counterspell heavy deck will win, and those are boring."

I declared Jordan wrong, and built the best red/blue counterspell deck I could. I also sideboarded heavily against that deck. I called the deck "Jordan's Wrong." I narrowly squeeked through the Swiss (where sideboards weren't allowed) but rolled on to win pretty handily, since in fact most of the decks I faced were red or blue (and I'd put in the anti red/blue counters in my sideboard.

I got a box of Legends for free (ish), but Jordan was right.
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4. Board Game: Android: Netrunner [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:44]
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I'm listing this as Android:Netrunner, but it's both. After Magic I played a lot of CCGs. I could arguably list Vampire:The Eternal Struggle, but the games for that were so long I can't honestly be sure I played fifty of them. So, it doesn't count. But Netrunner. Even though I strongly suspect I played hundreds of games of Netrunner, I know I've played over a hundred since the reprint, so it gets into the list. Sorry Vampire.

But Vampire gets a story, in any case. I was excited to see that perhaps 5-10 of the character cards were based on characters played by people I knew (originally in a live action role playing campaign run by the people who designed the live action system for White Wolf). I was disappointed that my characters didn't make it in.

("Not all gamers are geeks...")

Anyway, back to Netrunner. The game died out over the course of several years, and I eventually sold my large collection of cards to someone in Brazil. This turned out to be amazingly nerve wracking. The cards didn't arrive for months and months. Eventually the buyer had to (I believe) pay a fairly hefty customs fee/bribe (the legality was obscure) but at least I didn't have to worry that he thought he stiffed me.

That's why I don't like shipping internationally.
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5. Board Game: Titan [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:863]
Brian Bankler
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"How about a quick game of Titan."

It's a joke, an old one. As a freshman, some gamers invited me to join them. The game started at Midnight, it ended around 6 am. I had no idea what happened, and swore it off.

I played again in grad school, and it grew on me. Amazingly, Magic:The Gathering helped spawn a resurgence. Obviously the theme mattered, but when a large battle broke out, the uninvolved just played Magic games on the side, so the fact that Titan had a bunch of downtime didn't really matter.

When I later moved to start my new job, I was near a game store owned by a fellow alumni. I'd met his wife at college, but never met him until later. The general story was that he'd failed out by playing a game of Titan the night before finals instead of studying. I think that's probably an exaggeration, and Titan doesn't deserve all the blame.

But we played a bunch of Titan in his game store. In fact, that first year I played it probably twice a week.
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6. Board Game: Legend of the Five Rings [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1161] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
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I gave up magic for other CCGs. I'm sad that Netrunner died, but I've always preferred multiplayer CCGs. Multiple players means you have to "play the board" instead of just building a deck full of jank.

You have to meta-jank.

In North Carolina, we had a huge player base into L5R. Probably 50+ players. So that meant that Chapel Hill got one of the few Kotai tournaments. (Seriously, the list of Cities were NY, Paris, LA, Tokyo, London, Dallas ... and Chapel Hill). When the latest edition came out, I gave this another go, and the game is still good but it can't live up to my memories.

And while we played tournaments (which were two players games) we also played excessively large games. Ten players one time. There's no simultaneous play in this game. And if you attack you tap your defenses (obviously). But to keep the game moving I decided to make a small attack on the player to my left. Next turn, the player to his left. Next turn, etc.

The 5th time around the table the player I attacked -- strictly 'in order' -- was a notorious whiner and generally annoying. He'd invited himself to dinner with five of us who all went to college together (except for my wife), and when we'd used a variety of signals to switch where we were going and lose him he tracked us down, oblivious to the inference that we didn't want him there.

Like I said, annoying.

Anyway, despite having clearly been 'working the table,' he started whining that I was only attacking him because I didn't like him.

I agreed. Loudly. I ranted, I raved. I insulted him. He packed up and left and swore to never return. This brought a chorus of "Goods." I never saw him again.

So, I try to stay polite; but, targeted rudeness can improve your gaming experience.
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7. Board Game: Shadowfist [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:2844] [Average Rating:7.11 Unranked]
Brian Bankler
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Along with L5R, this game had a small representation in Chapel Hill, but it had a dedicated following in San Antonio. Of all the games I've tracked via BGG, this game gets the highest number (but in Bridge I count games by session, which are 3+ hours). I haven't played in a few years, because I can't make the Shadowfist night.

It's too bad, because it's a great CCG. In particular, once you get enough experience under your belt you realize that a decent deck (coupled with a healthy dosage of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) can bring you back into any game.

Once, playing two player I was down 5 sites to 0. (In 'Fist, Sites not only 'generate mana' like land, but they are also victory conditions). Additionally, I had no characters in play. No cards at all. My opponent made a comment that I was in a hopeless position, but I quickly beat down one of his sites, and won. There's a new version of 'Fist out there, and it's worth checking out.
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8. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:47]
Brian Bankler
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Ah Race.

Despite all the above stories, I was slow to get into CCGs. I avoided Magic for months, but everyone played Magic on game day. I couldn't understand conversations unless I played. It's a fine game; but I wasn't an early adopter.

For Race, I proselytized. Do I want to play some other game?

No, I'd cry. "More Race." I easily hit fifty plays of this on the prototype.

Race is, in fact, why I have my rule against playing prototypes at conventions. They are usually terrible. But sometimes, rarely, they are great and then I spend years waiting for a copy. That's no fun.

I'm listed as a playtester; that's nice of Tom. I certainly played it extensively enough but I don't recall that I suggested any changes.

But I was in the game where Race was first demonstrated to Jay Tumbleson. I'd like to think that I helped sell him the game, even though it sells itself. Perhaps my enthusiasm helped.

(Yes, yes, his name is Jay Tummelson. But he misspelled my name in the Manhattan rules when crediting me for the Godzilla Variant, so I owe him).
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9. Board Game: Time's Up! [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:436]
Brian Bankler
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I was introduced to this at a convention (back before it was published when it was just Celebrities). Honestly, no game has generated as many stories.

But you always remember your first time.

Not just because one player, while trying to dance around like a graceful gazelle, stumbled and took down a table in a manner that Chris Farley would later appropriate for Saturday Night Live. But because, practically the very first clue I've ever heard was one of the greatest rants I've ever heard.

"The giant slug in Return of the Jedi"
"I never saw that movie."
"I will now proceed to insult you for the next 25 seconds." (We were playing with no passing in the first round). And he did.

Because of Celebrities several friends growl "Cello, Cello. CELLO!" as we meet. Celebrities taught me the universally recognized symbol for David Letterman, way too much about Country-Western singers, and traumatized us all with graphic renditions of Gary Coleman's sex life.
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10. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:134]
Brian Bankler
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I decided to try Go, seriously, in Grad School. It's a hard game.

The thing that always got me about Go, is that good players often can't really verbalize why a move is good. So much of it has to do with experience ... there are a lot of things that can be explained (like intiative, shape, lots of tactics), but then you come across the concept of Aji (literally "Taste") ... it's a position that may be resolved against you, but has a lingering taste.

So, I'm attending a lecture at the Pittsburg Go Club, and an amatuer expert is reviewing a game between Pro players. He's got a giant board with magnetic pieces standing one a wall. It looks really nice. If I ever own a corporation I think I'll have a ginormous one in my lobby and add one move each morning, so over the year you see a famous game or two. Anyway, someone asks "White's last move, shouldn't it go one space to the left."

The expert pauses and says -- "I don't really know." He scans the audience and sees late arrival, another Grad Student from Japan. "Do you know?" The late arrival stares at the board for a minute, lets out a little exclamation, nods and walks up to the board. He slides the last move one space to the left.

The he grabs one fist of white and black pieces, and slaps down about the next fifteen moves. Snap snap snap snap snap as the magnets click. "As you can see, the resulting position is worse for white."

I had no idea, but everyone else seemed to accept his word for it. Later on, I heard that he was going to be a professional player in Japan, but had promised his parents he'd finish school first. I have no idea if that's true.

After that, I was content to not get good at Go. I still play from time to time.
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11. Board Game: Outpost [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1741]
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One of the first games I played "To Death."

We discovered Outpost when I was in graduate school. I'm pretty sure we played 50 games the first summer. It was our go-to game before magic came out, and we'd get in several games per week.

After a dozen or two games, we started tweaking the rules. In fact, these still survive (to this day).

The Carnegie Mellon Gaming club was my first gaming 'home.' We played for 12 hours or so on saturdays, and it was common for games to start up on random weekdays in mid afternoon. The school itself provided some storage space and a small stiped, so there was a decent game library, but of course everyone bought a game every now and then, and we played that. When a game got popular, it got played.

Outpost was great because it was a game with little downtime even with a lot of players ... assuming you played fast. The traditional penalty for slow play was being thrown into the bushes. Since the CMU game club met in the second story of the "Glass Hall," this meant being thrown out through a plate of glass. Our own little Defenestration of Prague.

As Nimzovitch noted, "The threat is mightier than the execution." Mocking usually sufficed.

Now, when I say Outpost is "Fast," I'm referring to a time when I was a grad student who wasn't too concerned with his studies and who eventually left Academia. With 6-7 players it took 2-3 hours, but that wasn't onerous. The game club would play Republic of Rome, Magic Realm, and other long games fairly routinely, although we did also get into Euros when I was there. Several club members would call Germany and place an Order from Adam Spielt for $500 or so (split up) and a few months later, the games would arrive to much fanfare.

(This was risky. Ah you youngsters with your Board Game Geek. Looking at Pictures, Multiple Reviews, ordering from people who happen to live on the same continent as you.... These are the days.)

Anyway, That web page must be almost 20 years old by now (It was modified in '96, according to Chrome, but I graduated in Jan '95, so who knows who did it). It was probably originally written in '94 or so, but it may have been earlier. I don't remember exactly.

I still see several gamers I met at the CMU game club most years at a convention. We're mostly married, with some kids here and there.
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12. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:1620]
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I don't like losing.

I don't think I'm a bad loser, per se, but I don't like losing. And I'm pretty smart, with some gen-u-ine wordiness. So I didn't really lose many games as a kid, even Scrabble.

Imagine my surprise when several of the gamers I met at CMU were just much much better at wordgames than I was. Mainly Boggle, but also Scrabble.

Fortunately for me, Scrabble has a textbook. (Not the dictionary, but Edley's book on Scrabble). I got better quickly to my wife's disgust. I have no idea why some people would think that studying a game is cheating; but the original rules for Golf clearly indicate that practice is cheating. St. Andrew must hate the PGA. Anyway, I still lost at Boggle, but since I could now hold my own at Scrabble I was placated and moved on to other pursuits.

After moving to North Carolina, the local Borders (Note to Youngsters -- A pre-internet version of Amazon) had a weekly Scrabble night and the high score got a free gift certificate. Cha-ching! After about a year the Pro-players (meaning, "people who play Scrabble and nothing else") got wind of it, but in the mean time I had a pretty good supply of bonus book money.

Now I mainly play against my Kindle.
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13. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:322] [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked]
Brian Bankler
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Having been one to order games directly from Germany, I knew Ray Pfeiffer back when he started his import business. And when I went to a convention and asked him what was new, he said "Die Siedler von Catan." I got the last copy he brought to that convention, and those were some of the first in the US.

And boy, did they ever get used. Those eight sets were in constant rotation for the entire convention; most of them didn't even get put away between games. After a few months I was pretty burned out by the game, but it's been a mainstay. There's a reason it's so many people introduction to Euros.

These last few years, I've mainly played with my kids (if at all).
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14. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:933]
Brian Bankler
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The vast majority of Americans have played poker, and probably those of my age have at least played a few sessions, if not fifty. Most of my poker playing has been done in small (or even free) tournaments, including some at game conventions. But I've stopped by casinos (mainly on Business Trips) from time to time.

Actually, this year I won (well, technically, chopped 1st and 2nd for a large share) in a ~50 person no limit tournament at the Seneca Casino. At the 3rd or 4th stage I went on a run of good cards, built up a strong cheap lead, and then bullied the table for a more hands before riding out the inevitable cold run until the finals.

At the table were mostly locals who knew each other, so I was the new guy. At the beginning of the run I had top two pair against a flush draw, so I kept betting ("No free cards"). The river made the flush, but gave me the full house so I doubled up through this guy. Who starts whining.

Literally the next hand I'm up against this guy and I've got top pair and a flush draw, and it turns out he has a worse flush draw. The flush hits, and a double up again through the same guy.

Now he's livid. "That's twice that this guy has sucked out against me!" At which point the locals chime up. "He had a better hand than you did the entire time! If you would have won either of those hands it would have been a suck out!" "You winning either would be the definition of sucking out."

I've generally found that poker players have a lot of strange beliefs, but a surprisingly low tolerance for bullshit, unless it's funny. So I find that I like a large cross section of poker players. For a few hours.

My tournament win earn a nice payout, but I had a disastrous run over the summer, so I'm down for the year. I may be the only poker player ever to admit that in public.
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15. Board Game: Backgammon [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1174]
Brian Bankler
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People act surprised when they see Tim and I playing this at a game store. I'm never sure why.

Backgammon is the ur-game. Hell, it's a roll and move.

It's deceptively simple. It's one of those games that takes five minutes to explain.

It's deep. For a quick reminder, download Jellyfish or one of the other backgammon playing programs. If you think it's cheating, most of them will let you roll actual dice for them. I don't count games played against a computer (normally) but I played a few thousand games against Jellyfish a few years ago. The free version, even, not the hard one. I think I won maybe a third of them.

That being said, Backgammon is addicting because even a poor player wins a pretty reasonable percentage of the time. (That's why tournaments are often to 7 points, or more).

It's fast. This isn't like Chess or Go where a game can take hours. A game is 10-20 minutes. And most backgammon sets are portable, and designed to be so.

Why aren't you playing more backgammon?
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16. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:20]
Brian Bankler
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When lightning struck the bottle the second time, everybody knew quickly. Not since Settlers did one game dominate gaming for months on end around the country.

Unlike Settlers, that was Puerto Rico's undoing. Let's admit it, you can get good at Settlers, but just how many levels of good are there? At some point everyone can embargo you. Maybe they do it too late, but there you have it. And the best player of Settlers in the world (just like the best Backgammon player in the world) sometimes just has to shrug and watch as the dice dictate the game.

So, Puerto Rico builds it's own divide. Someone who plays Settlers for the first time against hardened veterans doesn't have much of a chance, but a chance they have. The first time at Puerto Rico? Nope. And this is a game where your first, and sometimes second and third strategy thoughts are wrong. It's not Go or Chess, but it has levels.

I'm the type of player who played and lost my first dozen games of Titan, or 18xx, but repeated beatdowns aren't most people's idea of fun. And I don't really enjoy teaching new players games where they have no chance. So I'll play Puerto Rico now if everyone is clamoring, but it's not my first choice anymore (unless people want to try the 2nd expansion. I've only played that a few times).
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17. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:36]
Brian Bankler
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One of the famous scenes in "Amadeus" is the Emperor telling Ferris Bueller Mozart that his work has "too many notes."

Of course it's ludicrous ... He's Mozart. But what if he wasn't?

Anyway, when Funkenschlag came out, it was a minor hit. But it had too many notes. You had an Empire Builder map on top of auctions, a resource market and turn order. So it got played a few times, and then sold. But the remake ... who said "A design is done not when there is nothing to add, but when there is nothing to take away."

Power Grid was faster, tighter and more replayable (despite not having nearly as complicated a map). And it's just kept on keeping on. Would Power Grid have existed without it's clunkier ancestor? Probably not.
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18. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:251]
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After the success of Puerto Rico there was a mad scramble for a Puerto Rico card game. In fact, the year after P.R. the convention I attended had no less than three designs for the card game (I believe). This is probably one of the reasons I have a "No playtesting" rule at conventions (a rule I only ignore for Tom Lehmann).

The final design turned into a fun little game. It doesn't quite live up to the Pringles Standard("Can't eat just one game"), but it's a fine opener/finisher. San Juan (along with Power Grid, Puerto Rico and a few other games yet to be named) also showed up on BSW, and I got in a large number of games there (which I don't count towards the '50 by 50' total). And I still have a copy of "Java San Juan" on my desktop.

I like the expansion (the few times I've tried it), but not the event cards. Just the new buildings.
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19. Board Game: Roma [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:951] [Average Rating:6.78 Unranked]
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One of the great Pringles ("Can't play just one") for two players. This was already pushing 50 before Arena: Roma II showed up, which pushed it way over. I normally play with both decks shuffled together, and I use the bribery and setup rules from Rome II (and it's card design) but I slightly prefer the original deck.

Because it's brutal. Roma starts with two people handcuffed together and a bunch of knives in reach. You smack down cards, each player starting at 10 VP and spiraling towards zero (and death), but sometimes one player slips the cuffs and it turns into a race to break the VP bank.

Arena is more genteel. A slower game. Tougher to take that one turn that just sends an opponent reeling, and easier to break the bank. A matter of taste, to be sure. But both flavors are great.

And also, it must be said, a fun use of dice. Rolling law is bad, sometimes, good sometimes. High is bad sometimes, good sometmes. Triples is bad sometimes (although you can reroll them) but amazing sometimes. You have good and bad roles, but I've seen plenty of players take a good roll and play it badly. Quit a bit of skill in a dice game that also has each player draw roughly a poker hand of cards, as well (and some cards are much better than others).
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20. Board Game: To Court the King [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1512]
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By the Time the Roma craze had passed (for others anyway), another Dice game stormed onto the scene.

I have the (bad) habit of trying to summarize a game like how I imagine Hollywood execs pitch movies.

To Court The King's pitch was "It's Yahtzee done right." That's not to say that it's perfect. I have opinions (fairly strong ones) about character balance, and a variant I prefer. And, I must admit, that I rarely play this anymore. But that's after nearly 75 face to face games, and who knows how many on BSW.

But I'd play it again if they'd release the expansion. I only ever got to play the expansion once. I thought that it did a good job in breathing new life into the game, upsetting the balance of the individual characters. Then again, I thought for sure that the companies that published the original would obviously publish it, so what do I know.
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21. Board Game: Strat-O-Matic Baseball [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:1215]
Brian Bankler
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Now that I think about it, I remember seeing a documentary about Strat-o-matic. This is pre-"30 for 30," I think. A small group of gamers did a yearly league, I think doing the full season (162 games). They could do a four game series in ~3 hours.

At some point after moving back to San Antonio, a few of the local gamers started playing this. Strat is an odd game, there are decisions, but not nearly as many as you'd like. (My wife calls it "Bunco for Boys," and she's not wrong). We each just took a team from the '06 season to learn the rules. After doing that for a few months, we had 7-8 people for a small league with a draft (using the '07 teams). To keep it from only famous players, we only drafted from the AL (I think). That was still too many choices, but it was fun. We even kept stats for all the 'players.' (That slows the game down a fair bit, unless you are already good at keeping a baseball scorecard. I also, at the time, looked for a good free/cheap stats program, but wound up doing the stats in excel by hand).

By the end of the mini-season we were mostly done with it. A fun experience that I'd consider repeating it at some point; but I'd prefer more of a game.
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22. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:65]
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Some games get on this list via constant, steady play. Most get on in the course of a glorious year or two. BSG almost didn't make it on this list. The first few games are rough; others in the group were more enchanted than I was. But... once you've played it a few times the game time picks up. And games that drag at 3.5 hours often rock at 1.5.

Battlestar Galactica got me to finish watching the TV show, which I'd sworn off during season 3 as having no idea where it was going. It turns out, I was right the first time. (Still, The first season is amazing). I regret finishing the TV show.

But the game works. Oh, the expansions make things loopy. Balance is problematic. Sometimes you get a too easy (or impossible) game. Eh. Some games are like being alone at night after watching a horror movie. Every sound makes you jump. Is Chris a Cylon (yes). Is Dennis the other Cylon (yes). Is Michael the other-other Cylon (yes). And why can't any of the others understand that I'm not a Cylon, just onto the real culprits?

Amusingly, a tense game had one less Cylon than normal (due to a mishuffle). We nearly killed ourselves trying to figure out who was who. I've wanted to make a variant where you have 1-2 Cylons and balance the game on how early they appear, but unless there's a computer moderator I can't figure it out.

(Actually, that's not true. I made a variant for Shadows over Camelot where each player had a goal they had to fulfill in order to win, if they were human. This gave all the players reasons to make weird plays, and also provided cover for the traitor. Such an idea kind of appears in the Cylon leader expansion. I suppose I could tinker with that).

Anyway, after a solid year of play the core group I played with drifted apart. But I saw this being played earlier this week and I thought "Yeah, I should play that again." (As long as the game doesn't take 3.5 hours).

(As requested in the comment below -- The "Motivations" variant for Shadows Over Camelot).
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23. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:76] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Brian Bankler
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So, despite my no playtesting rule (which eventually morphed into a no-playtesting-at-conventions guideline) I still sometimes get wrangled into prototypes. Several of the people who'd introduced me to Race suggested Dominion.

I'm not sure my exact response, but I believe "Meh" gets the gist.

After it was published I came around. The online server at Isegoria was a big help. I firmly believe that "Games that are fun at X duration are not fun at 3X duration" and Isegoria took a fast game and removed all the needless set up, tear down, shuffling, etc. I must have played a few thousand games on Isegoria.

And a goodly number of games at home. Mainly with the TaoLing, but also with my high school friends (who come back into town every few years). Dominion really is the gateway game of last decade. It's easy to teach (much easier than Race, Puerto Rico, etc) and when you change out 1 or 2 kingdom cards, play again, and the killer card from last game is suddenly worthless, then eyes light up.

I have a 'nearly' complete set. I've only played a dozen or so games with Dark Ages (which I didn't care for, made the game longer) and I haven't even bought Guilds.

Carrying a full set of Dominion around? No thanks. This is a game that stays at home, which limits it's play time. But I've still had a few hundred face to face games of this under my belt, and when I play it (rarely now) it still has that "One more" quality that makes games special.
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24. Board Game: The City [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1824]
Brian Bankler
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The City's inclusion is hardly a surprise.

It's a faster Race for the Galaxy. In fact, it's somewhat surprising that I haven't played it more. It will likely hit 100 plays, but maybe not. Or I may play 5-10 times in a day. The game takes maybe 10 minutes (but 10 more to teach the rules, if I have to). And it's only in German (although I seem to recall that there will be an Americanized version coming soon-ish, rethemed to Race).

I don't really have any good stories about The City. It's a filler. For a 10 minute game, it's got plenty of depth, but I think I may be close to playing it out. Probably I'll just switch to the english version if it shows up.
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25. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:162]
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Some games I can't decide if like; Carl Chudyk designed most of them.

Even Glory to Rome took time. My first play overwhelmed me (like Race) with so much going on, but I thought it had potential.

After a few games I called it "an ambitious failure", full of good ideas but not quite clicking. Later, a "clunky success."

Now I just think it's great.

Glory to Rome, in many ways, reminds me of Shadowfist. There are a ton of great (arguably 'broken') combinations. Two buildings that work well together can beat 5 random buildings. It's hard to get a board game where More isn't always Better. There are obvious mistakes in G2R that can lose you the game, but I'm still finding new ways to win. (Technically, by the rules, there are 5 ways to end the game, and I've won by all 5).

As for editions, I'm firmly in the "Old school" camp. I suppose I should get the black box, as it has some variants, but I like the old garish cards. I must admit that I didn't like the clamshell plastic, so I've thrown my copy into my Citadels box (and Citadels fits inside the smaller Citadels expansion box). This has (arguably) kept my play count down, as most people who want to play G2R don't realize I brought it, and people who open it expecting Citadels usually put it back....
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