Games that get better the more you play them.
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It's an annoying trend I see in game groups. Every week it seems like there is a new game brought to the group, and rarely is a game played that was "oh so last year". This mainly applies to games that are more on the lengthy side, like 2+ hours of playtime.

This is unfortunate, because there are some games out there that may seem decent, ok, or good for every once in a while play (which translates to "It was fun, I'm never playing it again"), but if played more than once, if played several times, turn out to be great or fan-freakin-tastic.

Some people say it's criminal that some games aren't ever played. I say it's criminal that some games aren't played as often as they should be, because it's only in that way that some of these games can really shine.

This Geeklist is for those games, preferably ones that go for 2 hours on average or longer (maybe 1 1/2 hours for people who think fast and can speed play, you know, the kind of people who can play Twilight Imperium 3rd edition in 3-4 hours).
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1. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:121]
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Ok, I'm mainly including this one because this game is living bonafide proof that some board games can bring an amount of depth, complexity, and overall enjoyment after several plays. Heck, this particular game can bring entertainment and replayability not only over the course of a lifetime, but over the course of generations.

It's the oldest board game in existence that is still considered to be not only a fantastic game, but arguably the best abstract strategy board game in existence, to this day. The fact that it has been around since the BC era, and the opening moves of Go haven't been analyzed to the point where a definitive set of opening moves has been reached, that should tell you something.

And assuming an analysis does get reached, they could always make the board 21x21 or something.
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2. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:257]
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This takes an interesting twist on the replayability of the game. It's not so much as gaining an understanding of the rules and strategies and tactics of the game the more you play, so much as it's about gaining an understanding of the rules and strategies and tactics of your opponent. Like some abstract strategy games (refer to the above item), this game is about the fight between you and your opponent's mind, with the game acting as a basic themed fantoccini for the players to express their battle of wills.

There is no luck. You move pieces on the board that can cause harm to the opponent's pieces. Your opponent can see the pieces, but doesn't necessarily know what they are (and thus doesn't know what they're capable of until revealed). And then there are the cards that are played in combat. These are like the pieces, your opponent can't be certain which one you will play, but knows what you are able to play. 2 layers of guessing your opponent's moves, what his style of play is. And the more you play, the more you become familiar with your opponent's tactics, and can start to adjust your pieces and play styles accordingly. Eventually, the opponent is going to realize he can't make the same movements and play the same cards in the same order again, otherwise he will lose, so he has to adapt.

Many games have this element to them, very few (with theme) can get this right without adding an element of randomness to the game.

And yeah, I cheated with this one, since this game is usually played in 20 minutes or less. I promise that this will be the ONLY short game I add to the list.
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3. Board Game: Horus Heresy (2010) [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1103]
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I made a review of this game that sums up my thoughts on it here.

Otherwise, there is a lot to take in the first time you play this game (though nowhere near as much to take in as the next item on the list), so it's practically impossible to know enough about this game 1 play in. After 2 plays, you'll probably have the rules mostly down, but won't fully grasp the strategies. Another 2 plays in, and then you'll start to see intelligent plays, and know how to take care of amateurs.

You'll realize that holding strongholds is important for both the defender and attacker, and knowing the card deck (mainly the combat deck) will help in planning out where to attack and with what, and most importantly, when. Timing is everything in this game. If you do your move too early, the units you use won't be available for something else you may need them for. Use them too late, and the units may not be able to make a difference.

There is 1 other game I have played that strongly encourages replay for the sake of knowing the cards in the decks...
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4. Board Game: Magic Realm [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:930]
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...this isn't it.

This is one of the few older board games (pre-2000s) that has managed to withstand the test of time, in my opinion. Sure the rulebook is so thick it's scary (120+ pages can scare away some, and drive others insane), and learning the rules is a pain in the ass if you don't have a veteran player to teach them to you (and even if you did, it's questionable as to how much one can take in in a single game). But if you can stick with it and learn the rules, boy is this game worth it.

The replayability of this game is insane for a game like this. A game with plenty of luck, plenty of theme, how can it get better the more you play it? I'll tell you how:

1. There are 16 characters to choose from, and they all play completely different from one another.

2. There are over 100 unique treasure cards, and you will never be able to get them all in a single play. You'll be lucky to get 25% of them. And all the treasures can affect some character in some way, for better or worse.

3. Because there are 16 characters, the game can support up to 16 players. And the game is awesome with a bunch of players (veteran players anyway). The strategies they can come up with, the teamwork, the backstabbing, the stories that are inadvertently created without having any emphasis on storytelling whatsoever, the classic moments that are made in each game. There is so much that can be done in this game, that something new is usually discovered every now and then, even after playing for years (check the forums). Plus, comradery and friendship is important for the gameplay (see below), even though it's optional, and there's the risk of being backstabbed.

4. The game is hard as hell. The monsters and people that are in the game are ruthless and unforgiving; they show no mercy on wimps and idiots. What going to happen to you if you decide to charge into the Lost City where a bunch of monsters could show up, with plenty of good weapons, armor, and spells, without hiding, by yourself, and intend to kill everything you see? I'll tell you what's going to happen, you're going to get your balls burned off by a Dragon, your head smashed in by a Troll, your entrails thrown around by Goblins, and your soul cursed by a Demon, and then you'll die, and you'll deserve it, because you played stupidly and didn't have any allies and mercenaries to help you out. So you'll need to play several times to figure out the ways to play for each character. And then you'll need to learn how to work as a team and how to work effectively against the monsters.

5. The map setup is different every time. Treasures and locations are random. 20 tiles, each with a different side, will be almost guaranteed a different starting position every game.

There's more, but I think I'll end it there.
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5. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.35 Overall Rank:4]
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This is that game.

This game gets better the more you play it not just because you learn the better plays to make each game, but you begin to memorize the cards in the deck(s), and learn what to expect. This doesn't decrease the replayability, it increases it, because then you and your opponent can plan ahead, though you can never rely on any one plan since a lot can happen not just in a single turn, but in a single play.
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6. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:416] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Max DuBoff
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New Brunswick
New Jersey
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If you're going to include Go...


I'm an avid chess player, though, and when I jumped from around 1000 to 1400 and 1600 rating, the game did get more fun.
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7. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:165]
Max DuBoff
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It can be cumbersome with a bunch of newbies, but the quality of play increases exponentially as players get better.
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8. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:100]
Max DuBoff
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Wow. All I can say is that this is a hard game. To be good, you need to know the deck and play enough that you've made every beginner mistake enough times to know not to make it again. This is a hell of a game though (in a good way).


Triumph of Chaos is in the same category.
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9. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:68]
Alex Despres
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Arlington
Texas
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More plays = more familiarity with the cards. More familiarity with the cards = better synergy of available actions. Better synergies are more aggressively blocked by other players. The onslaught of blocking and buying sets in. Brutal.
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10. Board Game: Seasons [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:159]
GeJayGe
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Windsor Hills
California
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I am thoroughly convinced that this game requires multiple plays to be enjoyable. Until you figure out the scoring and understand how cards can be timed or sequenced, it seems random and unfriendly.
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11. Board Game: Il Vecchio [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1232]
Blake Morris
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Henrico
Virginia
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This size viola da gamba is like a cello with frets. I started playing at age 48.
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The first time or three that you play this, the symbols on the tiles seem impenetrable, and you usually need the rulebook when the time comes to choose one. Once you are accustomed to the symbols, the game goes very quickly (and is a lot of fun, too!).
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12. Board Game: Java [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:720]
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This game is interesting. The strategies can be strange and weird, and it's tough to figure them out when you first start. Learning how and when to play each of the types of pieces in the game, when you should add developers to the board (to block other developers/tiles), among other things. This is a game that makes you think, a lot. The better your opponent, the more effort you're required to put into your moves to stand a chance.

It seems to play well with any number of players too, though it can be unfair when it comes to placing the water tiles, which you could potentially offset with some well placed tile and developer developments.

And not only is it a tile laying game with tough decisions, but it's a 3D tile laying game with tough decisions. Haven't seen very many games that have replicated this type of mechanic, let alone successfully.
 
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13. Board Game: Ad Astra [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:900]
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This is one of the most underrated games I've seen on the geek. Not enough people give this game the chance it deserves, mainly because of the exact reasons I've mentioned at the top of this thread. This is one of the best examples of a game that gets better the more you play it, but too many don't play it more than a couple times, and all that depth goes sadly unnoticed. Of course, it's only as deep as the game group will allow it to be. The smarter and more serious the group plays, the better it gets.

I would mention the details as to why this game deserves to be on this list, but this review says it better than I can. That review perfectly sums up everything that this thread is all about.
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14. Board Game: War of the Ring (Second Edition) [Average Rating:8.39 Overall Rank:12]
Paul Bauman
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It comes out of the gate as an impressive game and continues to improve as the players improve. Reading this annotated recap of a match just blew my mind and cemented the game for me as one that grows with player skill.
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15. Board Game: Yomi [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:766] [Average Rating:7.08 Unranked]
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It takes several plays with a single character to realize that they actually have their own ebb&flow that differs from the others. Plus, consider tournament win percentages with the characters. Last I checked, from supposed best to supposed worst character, there is only a rough 10% difference in the win-loss ratio, which isn't very much at all. Add that up with the fact that there are a few players who win the top spots consistently in each tournament, and that goes to show you there is more skill to this game than you would first think. You can bluff face to face and online with your play style. You and your opponent can start to figure out patterns to each other's playstyle. Pretty soon, it becomes more a mental battlefield than a luck of the draw game.
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16. Board Game: BattleCON: War of Indines [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:545] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
Paul Bauman
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For much the same reasons as Yomi. The characters are unique and it takes quite some time to master their move set, some much more than others. The game improves both the more you play a particular character, and the more you branch out and start learning opponent tactics.
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