Tips for Enjoying Games
Kenny E
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I am by no stretch of the imagination an experienced gamer, but I have noticed the experience of a game can be affected by a few factors: who you play with (most important), the atmosphere in which you decide to play, and other small tweaks or house rules made to allow everyone to have a good time. I've decided to create this GeekList (my first!) to document observations I've made about the games I've played.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I play almost exclusively with non-gamers. Therefore, the games I will be listing and the associated comments will be from a casual gamer's life.

Please add other games or observations regardless of your experience, please do not add your comments about liking or not liking a game. This is a list to give people the best chance of enjoying a game, regardless of how good the game is.
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1. Board Game: Space Cadets: Dice Duel [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1069]
Kenny E
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San Jose
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Who to play with: People who like fast paced games and working in a team.

Who no to play with: People who like deep strategic decisions, people who don’t like frantic and loud play, people who will hold a grudge when their teammate can’t avoid asteroids.

When to play: When people want a cooperative and competitive game, when people are energetic and want to be active.

Tips: For new players, it may be helpful to remove the tractor beam and maybe even shields stations for a game to help lessen the information overload. Encourage people to stop if they have questions and try new positions just for fun.
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2. Board Game: Formula D [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:462]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: People who have never played a modern board game, people who like dice, people who like probability, people who will make noises when moving the cars.

Who not to play with: People who like heavy games, people who don’t like player interaction, people who must roll the dice right next to the cars regardless of the available table real estate.

When to play: When people want to play a lighter game with some luck and risk, when you have 5-10 people and a couple hours.

Tips: This is probably the most used gateway game of my house. Keeping the pace going is incredibly important to non-gamers’ enjoyment. Have people plan their turns ahead of time, and once they count out their path, make them move. Everyone must finish the race (or ‘splode), and car noises are mandatory while moving the piece.
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3. Board Game: Forbidden Desert [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:300]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: People who like cooperative games but might be overwhelmed by the amount of options or scope of Pandemic, people you like communicating with, people who make noises when using the dune blaster.

Who not to play with: People who will tell everyone what to do, people who don’t communicate and won’t take anyone’s advice, people who want to be competitive.

When to play: When you want to play a strategic co-op game but want something relatively short, when you want to show non-gamers a game with things happening they’ve probably never seen.

Tips: People seem to enjoy using the special powers as much as possible, as well as the gear. Even if it might not be the perfect strategic choice, using a dune blaster to decimate a stack of eight sand tiles is very rewarding. Determine if your group just wants to have a good time playing with cool characters, or wants to win, and play accordingly. Usually it happens in that order during consecutive games.
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4. Board Game: Cards Against Humanity [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:2907] [Average Rating:6.03 Unranked]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: People you are usually more reserved around, like acquaintances, family members, or people who are younger or older than you, young children of people to whom you’d like to give the gift of “vocabulary reprogramming”.

Who not to play with: People whose humor you already know, people who will be offended or don’t know about all the obscene things in the cards, potential employers.

When to play: As an ice breaker when people want to have side conversations and don’t mind using a game as a conversation starter.

Tips: Play to a set number of cards. I suggest something around 12 minus the number of people playing. This will help the humor of the game not turn into vulgarity for vulgarity’s sake, which is my opinion of the game to begin with. Wanting to just mentally survive the game? Your best bet is to play cards YOU find funny, instead of trying to play to the judge.
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5. Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:458]
Kenny E
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San Jose
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Who to play with: People who like fast paced games, people who like dice, people who don’t want to play against an experienced gamer, Indiana Jones.

Who not to play with : People who seek deep and thoughtful decisions, people who want to display their superior intelligence, people with heart conditions, the guy who betrays Indy at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

When to play: When people want to feel that good kind of stress, when time is short, when you’re training for your archaeological expedition (I CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR FAILED ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXPEDITIONS)

Tips: Encourage people to stay with at least one other and communicate. I’ve found it’s nice to roll what you need to get out of a room, but wait to use it to make sure there are at least two people in the back of the pack, instead of leaving a straggler. Not only is it helpful to avoid people getting blacked out, but also make everyone feel like they’re on the team.
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6. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:306]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: People who you can have a conversation with while you play, people who will be able to do simple math in their head, people who don’t like player interaction.

Who not to play with: People who want a thematic game, the people who still blame you for their failed archeological expeditions.

When to play: When you have one other person to play with and a short period of time.

Tips: People who say “it’s an activity, not a game” usually mean it in a derogatory manner, but I find it to be fine if you’re not looking for an immersive experience. I also think the scoring is not as complicated as people claim. Sum the cards, subtract 20, multiply if necessary, write down, repeat. Sum the players’ total after all the columns are counted.
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7. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:218] [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: People who can have a good time being a little artsy-fartsy, people you know but want to know more about.

Who not to play with: People who can only use literal descriptions, people who use inside jokes to their advantage, people who are mesmerized by obscure pictures, people with horrifying and deep seeded tortuous pasts.

When to play it: When people are relaxed and don’t mind exposing their creative sides.

Tips: My enjoyment from the game is asking people why they used certain clues or voted certain ways. This isn’t to suggest they’re wrong, but just to try to understand a person’s perspective, which can be very entertaining. I’ve heard the “noises only” rule can be very fun, though I haven’t tried it.
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8. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:76] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: People who like collecting a group of tools which can directly help them and maybe harm other players, people who like games with low theme involvement, people who want to play the whole game and not be eliminated.

Who not to play with: People who want a lot of player interaction, people who want to know the score, people who will make Musical Youth jokes every time they get a Duchy in their hand.

When to play: When you want a game when you need a pretty easy (from a rules perspective) game which can be low on player interaction. Although player interaction is possible with certain cards available, we’ll use different games if we want to battle.

Tips: We also like to pretend we’re being reunited with the people and places in our decks when we draw them (“Aw, what up Smithy?!”)
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9. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:257]
Kenny E
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San Jose
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Who to play with: People who want a game with a good amount of strategic options and luck, people who like lots of player interaction.

Who not to play with: People who will take being attacked personally, monster rights activists.

When to play: When you have a group of people who like different types of games, as they can play the attacking or points strategies depending on their preference.

Tips: Without someone reminding them of the aspects of the game outside of damage, people can feel like someone “snuck in the back door” when they get to 20 points and claim victory, so bring up the cards and points often. Encourage people to make temporary partnerships in order to keep other players in check.
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10. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:213]
Kenny E
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San Jose
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Who to play with: People who like chess, people who value thoughtful short and long term strategy.

Who not to play with: People who like chaos and luck in their games, people who have arachnophbia.

When to play: When you have two people, when you’re short on space, when you want to put your whole brain into a game.

Tips: Early on, I just had to convince myself to stop thinking about every turn for five minutes. I’d look at my options and think ahead a few turns, but if I couldn’t figure it out in a minute or so, I’d just move and see what develops. It seems just watching how the pieces can interact is the only way to really understand, and therefore win, the game.
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11. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:75]
Kenny E
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San Jose
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Who to play with: People who love discussing strategy with you, people who love a broad scope, Zee Garcia, apparently.

Who not to play with: People who want to compete, people who like fast turns, people who want to think about and play only their player, people who will tell everyone what to do.

When to play: When the group is calm and thoughtful, but not tired or wanting to relax, when people want to use their strategic prowess to help the team.

Tips: Keep the alpha gamer in check. Remind people they are in charge of their cards and encourage them to use their special powers as often as reasonable. “On the Brink” is highly recommended for those who enjoy the game.
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12. Board Game: Onirim [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1022]
Kenny E
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I’ll assume a second player, but comments for solo are welcome.

Who to play with: People who want a fast game where they can mess around with different strategies and not be disappointed if they lose after 10 minutes because of a silly plan.

Who not to play with: People who love theme, don’t like luck to dramatically affect their plans, can’t shuffle, or like boards and pieces.

When to play: When you have a short period of time and are alright if your strategy is overpowered by luck.

Tips: I’ve never won, maybe I should remove some nightmare cards and try some more.
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13. Board Game: Poo: The Card Game [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:8805]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: People who find the idea of poo funny, people who don’t mind immature themes and like lighthearted “smack each other” games.

Who not to play with: People who stick their nose up at the title, the non-confrontational, people looking for a thoughtful game.
When to play: When people are in a goofy mood or want a break from stressful or heavy games.

Tips: Even for non-gamers, this shouldn’t be the focus of a game session. It’s probably best as an ice breaker to get everyone over their fear of making real life enemies during a competitive game session.
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14. Board Game: PitchCar Mini [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1130]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: The fidgety friend you have, people who are physically skilled, people who aren’t dissuaded by their repeated attempts to just get around that one darn corner, people who just want a silly game.

Who not to play with: People who get frustrated when they get into a rut and can’t get out of it, people who don’t want to stand up and walk around to play a game, people who like planning and executing strategy more than haphazardly flicking discs, and maybe inviting that fidgety friend you have wasn’t a great idea after all.

When to play: When people are energetic, you have lots of room, and don’t mind having a lot of player interaction. This game does take a while to set up and tear down, though.

Tips: A very flat surface is necessary to ensure the tracks lies flat without lips forming at the connections. Don’t be afraid to bend some rules to keep the pack a little tighter and help people enjoy it more.
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15. Board Game: Quarriors! [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:738] [Average Rating:6.78 Unranked]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: Those with unexplainable affection for dice, people who like deckbuilding but not shuffling, people who are okay knowing the best players can lose and the worst can win, people who like a game with lots of colors.

Who not to play with: New players who don’t want to read all the powers of everything, people who get the impression this game is dominated by strategy only to have a brilliant collection of dice undone by poor rolling.

When to play: When the group can’t decide if they want strategic or lighthearted, when everyone wants to throw a bunch of dice, when nobody’s that bent on winning.

Tips: Definitely play with the “purchase any amount, cull what you score rules”. I don’t know if it makes it more strategic, but everyone I’ve played with certainly finds it more fun. I’ve heard from various sources the expansions, especially Quarmageddon and Quartifacts make it much better, but I’ve played neither. Encourage players to take the game as seriously as they wish and enjoy it, it’s possible the player who just buys the most expensive die will beat the group strategist.
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16. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:36]
Kenny E
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San Jose
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Who to play with: The thoughtful, patient people who don’t mind doing some arithmetic in their head, people who like building a network even with other players making it more difficult.

Who not to play with: People who don’t enjoy using math in their strategic planning, people who utilize every ounce of athleticism they possess to exit the room upon hearing “two hours”.

When to play: When you have the time, when people really want to prove their mathematical, forecasting, and strategic prowess over others.

Tips: I don’t like this game much as a two player game, and I’ve never played it otherwise. According to the recommended player poll, I’m not alone.
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17. Board Game: The Resistance [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:204]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: People who like to manipulate or lie to other people in a non-destructive manner, people who like to watch others’ actions rather than listen to their words, people who want to really psychologically mess with others.

Who not to play with: People who have a hard time lying to people they like, people who have a hard time reading people or don’t want to deal with deception, people who you want to trust you ever again.

When to play it: When people don’t mind putting forth the energy to be a little deceptive and watch others closely, when the group wants to play a game but not need to be sitting at a table.

Tips: Remind people the deception of the game is totally necessary and doesn’t reflect the integrity of the player. In other words “trust me” means nothing once the game starts, but means something when it ends. Remind the players the real way to win is to watch how people vote, not listen to what they say.
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18. Board Game: Rummikub [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:1597]
Kenny E
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San Jose
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Who to play with: People who like games that don’t require a setting or backstory, people who like playing off others’ plays, people who like physically manipulating tiles, experienced gamers who don’t know this game won the Spiel des Jahres in 1980 so you can tell them and feel knowledgeable.

Who not to play with: People who want a more immersive setting, people who want multiple paths to victory, people who call it “rummy cub”.

When to play: When people want to be outdoors and play but don’t want things to get dirty or blow away, when you have lots of different age groups, when people don’t mind making complex moves planned and have them destroyed by that one darn tile.

Tips: If people want to keep things moving faster, implement a turn time limit. Play until all players have no more tiles.
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19. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:47]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: People who like building an empire and like being presented with lots of options, people who like to try seemingly absurd strategies, people who like mixing personal strategy with guessing what the rest of the players will be doing, iconographers.

Who not to play with: People who like games where short term actions are the way to win, people who don’t like referring to reference sheets to determine iconography the first few games.

When to play it: When people are calm and thoughtful, when people want to build but also want a mild dose of player interaction.

Tips: Encourage players to watch what other people are doing, it can help them learn how cards interact and also plan their strategy to win. If people just want to make a themed empire, regardless of how many points it scores, let them.
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20. Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This At All [Average Rating:5.56 Overall Rank:14456] [Average Rating:5.56 Unranked]
Kenny E
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Who to play with: People who like very fast games with moderately silly actions, people who aren’t upset by luck dictating virtually all of the outcome of a game.

Who not to play with: People looking for a game where they have real control over winning or losing, people who don’t like games that are really just activities.

When to play: When you have four or more players, when people are upbeat, when people don’t want to spend much brain power but still want something to determine who is a winner or loser.

Tips: Keep the game going by not shuffling until you’ve gone through the whole deck. This also makes a pretty simple and good drinking game.
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21. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:206] [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked]
Kenny E
United States
San Jose
California
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Who to play with: People who like direct confrontation with others and like being able to change strategies over the course of the game.

Who not to play with: People who don’t like being constantly attacked, people who get attached to their empire.

When to play: When people want to beat each other up but know they won’t be immune from revenge.

Tips: Hide your coins so people don’t gang up on the leader. Help people max out their special powers.
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22. Board Game: Factory Fun [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:961]
Daniel Drickman
United States
Ukiah
CA
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Games are supposed to be fun. So when you are winning a game by a wide margin, try and let up a little on your opponent, so they can have a little bit of hope of possibly winning.

And then after they have some hope, pull out the big move you've saving up and crush them into the dirt like the little roach that they are!
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23. Board Game: Puzzle Strike (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:1002] [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
BoardGameCo
United States
Charlotte
North Carolina
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Who to play with: People who used to play MTG (it gives them the deck building feeling without the holes in your wallet, but I find that most ex-MTG'rs have been disappointed by the non confrontation aspect of Dominion), people who love making combos, people who don't like shuffling cards

Who not to play with: People who take "attacks" personally, people who get easily overwhelmed and people who think that having a girl character being the "peace and love" type is sexist and offensive.

When to play: When you're looking to de-stress from the day, but by kicking butt to get it out of your system.

Tips: For new players, constantly point out and read out loud the chips, as well as making suggestions. The text is small when trying to read from the middle of the table, and the choices can be overwhelming, so your first few games should be about helping them crush you, and not the other way around.
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24. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:215]
Adam Stonewall
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Who to play with: People who enjoy cooperative gaming. People who don't mind losing.

Who not to play with: As with all co-op games, alpha gamers who tell everyone else what to do. People who hate to lose.

When to play: When you want a challenging game that necessitates cooperative play between players.

Tips: For new players, let them make their own decisions on how to play (which ghost should I exorcise?), but try to give general strategy advice. People catch on to the strategy pretty quickly.
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25. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:313]
Stephen Mould
United Kingdom
Sheffield
South Yorkshire
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Who to play with: People who like working together and can keep a straight face

Who not to play it with: people who can't pick up a card without looking at it, rules lawyers who shush every giggle, people who think too much.

When to play: when you want a fast, enjoyable experiance and don't mind playing it 6 times in a row just so you can say you scored 18 instead of 17.

Tips: Don't be afraid of the meaningful inflection 'that card is RED' and ask people what they think they know before giving a clue. Also, don't overthink it.
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