Recommend an Obscure game
Mike Jones
United States
Gainesville
Florida
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So, I'm looking at fleshing out my wish list for the Secret Santa.

I like all kinds of games, but mostly I like:
Area Majority (control)
Simultaneous Selection
Worker Placement
Negotiation
90 to 120 minute games (although I'll play longer)

I don't 'prefer' not to play:
Memory games (although I like hidden information)
Dexterity
Player elimination in longer games.
I don't particularly like race to x (prefer a score)

I'm getting a bit tired of cult of the new.

I'm looking for games that can still be bought that I may have missed. Obscure games, small publishers, even general flops that you think are worth looking at,

Tell me your favorite game that may be ranked 500 or even 1,000 that I may have missed?

Sell me on it.

(Let's talk about the positives)

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1. Board Game: Hemloch [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:3055]
Jason
United Kingdom
Norwich
Norfolk
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Deceptively simple two-player from Small Box Games. Never really see it mentioned enough around here. You're playing cards at certain venues to trigger abilities and allow you to gain control of one of four venues. You're repeatedly scoring as you run through the game.

Yeah, basically I'm terrible at explaining it... But you should definitely give the forums a look.
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2. Board Game: Magnum Sal [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:1167]
Donald Dimitroff
United States
Beltsville
Maryland
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Right now I am feeling very: turbed, pirited, heveled, combobulated, and not tinguished, so don't you dare "dis" me!
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This games involves the mining of salt.
Salt (due to impurities) comes in three colors, with white being the most desirable.
The king provides contracts for different types of salt.
The first player to meet the king's contract wins the king's favor (victory points).

Basically, this is a worker placement game.
Players must place meeples in the mine (to mine the salt) but must also pump out water that is found with the salt. Meeples may also be placed in the town to: hire more meeples, purchase tools, visit the market, go to the pumping station, or wait in line at the king's court.

The unusual mechanism here is that miners must be connected in a chain back to the surface. The chain may involve your workers or workers of other players. When you ship salt back to the surface, you will have to pay other players for using their workers in the chain.

It is not an area control game, but you do have to worry about how your workers are positioned in the chain, and where workers are placed when extracting salt.

Workers that mine must also rest. So actions must be taken later to stand them up.

You can purchase tools to aid in the mining: a rope, a mine cart, etc., which help in the mining and shipping of the salt to the surface.

This may be hard to find, but I do know that copies are being sold on e-bay.
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3. Board Game: Wildcatters [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:1660]
Ben
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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You've already played most of the games I was inclined to recommend, but you often rate them a 7 or 8, so our tastes aren't that far apart. I know it's cult of the new and all, but I suspect this game won't be breaking into the Top 100 any time soon. It is primarily a majorities game underneath all the special board play and infrastructure-building. For me, the game evokes memories of Kaivai and Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India.


If you are looking for more established "obscure" titles, I would recommend Key Market, and potentially Cavum (though my enjoyment of the latter may be purely idiosyncratic).
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4. Board Game: In the Shadow of the Emperor [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:838]
Ir. Marcel
Netherlands
Meteren
Gelderland
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I can recommend you this game as an obscure, but (in the Netherlands) easy to purchase game.
It is an area control game were you control a noble family, trying to gain influence in order to become king or archbishop in the different area's of the Holy Roman Empire. Family members grow older every round and eventually retire, new family members can be born as well and depending on your actions they will be boys or girls. The first you can use to put on the board and the second you can offer for a marriage to the other players.
It really like this game and it is available for around 10 euro in Dutch webshops.
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5. Board Game: Railroad Dice [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:3785]
Donald Dimitroff
United States
Beltsville
Maryland
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Right now I am feeling very: turbed, pirited, heveled, combobulated, and not tinguished, so don't you dare "dis" me!
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In this game the dice are everything.
The dice are used to:
-lay track
-build stations
-buy stock
-obtain additional dice
-pay for auxiliary track costs

So although there is a luck factor, that factor is minimized by the choices listed above. Should I build a station? Should I re-roll and try to build more track? How much stock should I purchase?

The game features several mechanisms: route building, majority stockholder bonus (with possible hostile takeovers), and a virtual track complete with mini-map.

Like Mississippi Queen, which came before it, once a tile is completed, it is removed from the table. Markers and mini-tiles keep track of the rail network.

There are four different conditions which trigger the end-of-game situation. Players try to build consecutive stations of a particular company, in a row, along the train line. Player with the most stock in the company controls the company which benefits the player.

I really like this game, with its combination of track building, economic system and decision making with the dice. It is best played with a full complement of four players.

However, I think this game will be difficult to find. There are several expansions, and Railroad Dice 2, which is a completely different game, but contains an expansion for Railroad Dice.
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6. Board Game: Dive! Diver! Die! [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:7696]
Clare Cannon
Wales
Trefforest
Mid Glamorgan
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This game is absolutely NOT about racing back to the surface with a little gold and trying to drown all the other players... but it is damnable good fun.


Sort of a push your luck feel as everyone contributed towards the shared oxygen but no-one knows how much or how little you contributed
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7. Board Game: Ilium [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:4645]
Joe FakeName
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This game seems to meet most of the criteria you specified. It's fun and easy to pick up and play. The theme is an archeological dig.
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8. Board Game: El Paso [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:4797]
Toms Leikums
Latvia
Jelgava
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Great push your luck western themed game. Lots of dice rolling combined with some simultanious action selection (the mechanic you like). Nice (a little cartoonish) art, but lots of fun in the end.
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9. Board Game: Merchants of the Middle Ages [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1520]
Dave VanderArk
United States
Coopersville
Michigan
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This game was the follow up to El Grande by Kramer and Ulrich. In part because it wasn't another masterpiece, it just didn't get the buzz that I feel it deserved. Another reason for its relative obscurity is that there wasn't an English release until 2010, eleven years after it was first published.

Despite the fact that it's not a masterpiece, it's a really good game. It has negotiation, influence, screwage, economics, route planning, bluffing, special powers, and more. Plus really cool bits (chunky blocks of wood as wagons and different shaped commodities).

If you haven't tried it, you should.

(Edit: spelling)
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10. Board Game: Revolution! [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:992]
A fast-paced blind bidding game where actions can give you one of three types of "currency" (money, blackmail, force) to spend in future rounds and/or the right to control areas of the board. Very low complexity, nicely balanced powers, and just the right amount of interaction between players (in my opinion).

This game hits a couple of your sweet spots - simultaneous action, area majority - and is a lot of fun. Playing time is shorter than you asked for, although if you add the expansion and a couple of extra players then it would be just about right.

Revolution! The Palace pushes the maximum player count from 4 up to 6 and also makes the game significantly more interesting (and involved) by giving more options to bid on and a new building on the board. It's a solid expansion and definitely feels like part of the design instead of just something tacked on after the fact.
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