In this cult of the new, what older game just does it better?
Jill Reid
United States
Lincoln
Nebraska (NE)
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Last night we re-played Caylus and it really knocked out Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar for me. I have seen the geeklist where a game fires another game. It seemed like most of the list was newer games winning out over older games. But we had the exact opposite happen to us. A newcomer game I had heard about and just had to have (waiting not-so-patiently for it to be available here) has just been beaten out by an older game.

Is there any older game that does this for you? Is there a game you have had on your shelf for a long time that wins out over the newcomers? Have you had the experience that in the "cult of the new," there is a game you already have that just does it better?
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1. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:45]
Jill Reid
United States
Lincoln
Nebraska (NE)
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Last night we played Caylus for the 5th time. We have loved it from the first play, but the game continues to reveal more and more each time it hits the table. As the game progressed last night, we were discussing how much Caylus fills a certain niche for us...worker placement, building, long-term planning, multiple strategies that have to adjust as the other players take your planned action, staying on task, all-around good close competition. Can you tell we love it?

Then I began thinking that Caylus reminds me so much of Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, obviously without the gears. But they both have that same action-taking, long-term planning, building feeling for me. The interesting thing for me is that while I would play Caylus ANY time, I always hesitate and seem to suggest another game instead of Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar. It isn't that I don't like it; it just feels more chaotic, more piecey, less control, more brain hurty. Don't get me wrong, I think Tzolk'in is a great game. But now that I made the connection between it and Caylus, I MIGHT actually consider letting Tzolk'in go out of my collection.

The worst part is that Caylus sat on my game partner's shelf for well over a year before we tackled learning it. We thought it would be too heavy; and quite frankly, I thought it might be boring. What a waste of a year! We could've been playing Caylus!

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2. Board Game: Dune [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:215]
Dwsparks
United States
Huntsville
Alabama
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Dune remains better than newer games which attempt the same sort of six-player map-grab, with alliances and back stabbing.



A Game of Thrones (first edition) takes a lot of cues from Dune, but I played them on consecutive days at one point, and Dune was by far the stronger game. (I have not played the revised Game of Thrones version which came out in 2011.)



Being huge Dune fans, my group was all excited about Rex: Final Days of an Empire, but alas it is now referred to as "Dune Light". The streamlining took too much meat out of the game.

Dune is a classic for a reason.
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3. Board Game: Assault on Hoth: The Empire Strikes Back [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:2437]
bob weaver
United States
Dayville
Connecticut
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Assault on Hoth versus Memoir 44. Was a big fan of Memoir 44 but eventually sold it. Played online as well but got bored. Bought Command and Colors wanting something a bit more. Before I got to play C&C bought a copy of Assault on Hoth. C&C sits on the shelf waiting to be played as Hoth has been the perfect gaming experience with my son.

For us it also outperforms Star Wars X Wing in both fun and immersion.

I just do not see a game of this type surpassing Hoth, pretty good for a game that is 25 years old.
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4. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:53]
Brian Boyle
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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The king of area majority.

Although area majority appears to be on the decline as a mechanic in this "Age of Worker Placement", a number of games comes close (eg Triassic Terror) but just don't match El Grande's simplicity and well integrated set of mechanics.

I didn't get into this game until a couple of years ago and it fired every (more modern) multi-player area majority game I had ever played.

Now if only it played well with 2-3player.
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5. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
Brian Boyle
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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Wins over all gamers for its elegant and simple auction mechanic. Short auctions with agonising decisions.

When to bid, what to bid, valuation of offer. Its all there.

No subsequent auction game provides as much in such a simple package. Easy to introduce to non-gamers too.

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6. Board Game: Monopoly: Pokémon [Average Rating:5.30 Overall Rank:14999]
Chris Morse
United States
Stoughton
Massachusetts
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When I have the urge to play a cartoon-themed version of Monopoly, this gem from 1995 ... yes, Monopoly: Pokémon is now old enough to vote... scratches that itch like no other. A clever and attractive fusion of Japanese graphics and a classic American game, Monopoly: Pokémon respects its source material without pandering to the lowest common denominator. As a bonus, the variant rule that substitutes "Pokemon powers" for the old "roll again" mechanic when rolling doubles offers just the right amount of tweak to freshen up the game play.

Contrast that to Monopoly: Spongebob Squarepants.


This new millenium mess is all tacky and no tactics. Yeah, throw some krabby patties at me and call it it fillet of sole. No thank you, Mr. Hasbro.

Pikachu, I choose you!
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7. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:207]
Juan Medina
United States
Cedar Park
Texas
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This timeless game manages to make a no frills ruleset with a very basic set of mechanisms into a masterpiece of economic speculation.
Many modern games struggle to get this interesting with such a limited amount of elements. Luck is a very important factor here, but one that emulates the behavior of the market.

I am pretty sure this game will be still in print and played 10 years from now, in one form or another.
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8. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:621]
Kyle
United States
San Diego
California
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Crushes most any modern push-your-luck game. Mechanic should have been retired here.
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9. Board Game: Fortress America [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1328]
Kyle
United States
San Diego
California
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Gaming has come a long way, but this is still a high water mark. Better than the vast majority of Ameritrash even today.
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10. Board Game: Scotland Yard [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1056]
Kyle
United States
San Diego
California
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Cat-and-mouse without all the brouhaha. Far outshines Fury of Dracula, better than its remake Mister X, and I haven't played Letters from Whitechapel but I don't expect it does the mechanic any better.
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11. Board Game: Raj [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:1860]
Kyle
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San Diego
California
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Way better than Libertalia, decisively better than For Sale. No one has done simultaneous action selection in a more satisfying, streamlined way that I have seen.
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12. Board Game: Speed Circuit [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:1631]
Randall Bart
United States
Winnetka
California
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I have never seen a racing game that replaces Speed Circuit. There is some die rolling, but only when you push the limits of your vehicle. You design your own car for the course. Do you want so me more acceleration, more top speed, or more braking? It varies by the track. It plays a lot like Formula D'oh, but without lucky die rolls.
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13. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:266]
Wade Ashton
United States
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Heresy to some, but we just plain have more fun playing Kingsburg over...



After buying and playing AF, I sold my copy of kingsburg because I was convinced it was going to be better in the long run. Not so - we tired of AF and re-purchased Kingsburg. I don't see us getting rid of it a second time.



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14. Board Game: Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:133]
Calavera Despierta
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Let me beat on this sacred cow a bit till the fanboiz start to weep:



Age of Empires III a.k.a "We've Totally Renamed This So We Can Reprint It Even Though We Lost the Rights To the Original IP" completely and totally destroys the tedium and utter pointlessness of the latest squealing piglet hotness that is Francis Drake.

First, AOEIII does the worker placement far better. Instead of just taking the action path from Caylus / Le Havre and arbitrarily limiting player choices, AOEIII gives players multiple kinds of workers, which change how they interact with the actions spaces on the game board. This adds a significant layer to the worker placement strategy.

Second, it's a game about conquest and domination of the new world. But does Francis Drake provide for any way whatsoever to attack, interrupt, or destroy an opponent's colony? Nope. Not even remotely. Instead it's basically a race to fill premium spots so you can be the first to collect bonus vp.

AOEIII, on the other hand, adds an entire layer of area control conflict in the New World, rewarding players with not only VP but resources for the resource path, AND it allows players to take a "war" action which results in combat. That's right - AOEIII is a worker placement with DIRECT FREAKING CONFLICT. This probably explains why all the wood fondlers and shirt tuckers prefer Francis Drake--they just aren't emotionally equipped for the direct conflict of AOEIII.

About the ONLY thing Francis Drake does better than AOEIII is graphic design and art. But if the game is boring and tedious and unoriginal, what difference does graphic design make?

Honestly, I am not much of a worker placement fan, but I don't mind spending my time, occasionally, in Waterdeep or on a Farm. But I really do not understand why Francis Drake is getting all this attention right now except for how pretty it is. It does absolutely nothing new, it doesn't combine the old in any novel or interesting way, and in terms of theme (Imperialism and exploitation of the New World) several other games, including AOEIII, simply do it better.
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15. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:698]
Michael F
United States
Albany
OR
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For me, this is about as elegant as cooperative games get.

Too many games of this type follow in the footsteps of Pandemic, where alpha players can develop, and usually one or two people are calling the shots. Even in my favorite board game, Arkham Horror, I've found this to be the case with certain people. I wish that more cooperatives would take a lesson from Lord of the Rings, which, despite being pretty old now, does cooperative gaming better than just about any other co-op I can think of.

Instead of having a bunch of shared information, LOTR focuses more on knowing when to make that self-sacrifice to improve the odds for yourself and the rest of your team. You can give suggestions to other players, but no one move is always going to be the most optimal in a given situation. This game is full of tough situations and decisions, and it always surprises me just how good this one is whenever I get it to the table.
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16. Board Game: Nations [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:95]
Dan
United States
Bountiful
Utah
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This is new, and I only played once at BGG.Con, after midnight, so take my comments with a grain of salt.

I heard this would be the Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization killer, streamlined, faster, and more fun.

It did use many of the same mechanics as Through the Ages, but ultimately it felt more gamey and less satisfying. It was harder for me to figure out how to earn points.

Through the Ages was very mechanically elegant. It felt good to play.

Nations just didn't quite feel right. It wasn't as smooth, and ultimately wasn't what I thought it would be.
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17. Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:14]
Dan
United States
Bountiful
Utah
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This game is Agricola, with some minor tweaks. Virtually identical mechanics.

Surprising to see 2 games this year that are not just reputed killers of old games, but literally successors to those games.

This is a fun game. The way they did the resources feel a bit more open, but still very tight in regard to trying to get victory points. Very hard to balance your actions, and get the one you want before your opponent takes it every turn. There was nothing I necessarily didn't like about Caverna.

...but it is basically Agricola. Only a bit bigger, more fiddly, but not really more satisfying. It's been a while since I played Agricola, but I think it is still the better game.

This is also based on one play at BGG.Con.

[edit] This does come prepackaged with the fancy goodies, rather than the cubes that Agricola originally came with. I'm a cube man, so that may have swayed me slightly.
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18. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:228]
Spencer C
Netherlands
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I so wanted to like Race for the Galaxy. Space themed, elegant iconography, great art... But RftG simply doesn't do it as well as San Juan. San Juan is tight, streamlined, surprisingly deep, and actually has some interaction. RftG is bloated, multiplayer solitaire and I am flabbergasted at the hype it continues to receive.
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19. Board Game: Advanced Civilization [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Peter Schott
Germany
Franconia
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This is (at least in my opinion) the king of all civilization type games.
It is far more elegant than
Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game

or
Sid Meier's Civilization: The Boardgame

or even
Clash of Cultures



and despite it's loooong playing time, it feels organic and time flies by.
Moreover, I've never seen a better and more tense trading phase in any game.

(I don't want to go into the discussion if this or Civilization is better.)
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20. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:306]
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
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IMHO still the best melding of card play with board play, and all the tension of stud poker.
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21. Board Game: Star Wars Customizable Card Game [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1530]
 
Curtis Bensmiller
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Talking with all of my board gaming friends, we all agree that the original Star Wars CCG plays so much better than any of the newer games out there.

Star Wars: The Card Game


Way more theme going on with the types of cards and also uses the official art from the series. Too bad it's out of print.
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22. Board Game: BattleTech [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:850]
Martin Larouche
Canada
Longueuil
Quebec
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30 years old and still the king of the mecha games.

Never saw a game that even got close to it. Heavy gear got the closest... still was far from it.
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23. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Anthony Harlan
United States
Orlando
Florida
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While I enjoy some of the new games where deckbuilding is part of the game, Dominion does it best when deckbuilding is the whole game. Dominion did it first, Dominion did it best.
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24. Board Game: Warhammer Quest [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:655]
Shawn Gillilan
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Boaz
Alabama
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In my opinion, none of the newer dungeon crawlers come close to this.
I was hoping that Descent 2.0 would give me the same experience, but it didn't. Don't get me wrong, Descent 2.0 is a good game, but it isn't Warhammer Quest.
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25. Board Game: Talisman (Revised 4th Edition) [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1156]
Abdiel Xordium
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Talisman is still the best adventure game. I've been playing it since the mid-80s and have always tried to keep my eye out for something better. Haven't found it yet.

What do you need to have a good adventure game?

1. Randomness and surprise. What's around the next corner has to be unknown. It has to be possible for something ridiculously good or ridiculously bad to happen.

2. Simple and fast moving. No one wants a slow drudge of an adventure with tons of fiddly crap to monitor, non-stop referencing of the rule book and AP inducing strategic considerations. It should play like a pulp fiction novel.

3. Adventure games aren't strategy games and should have limited strategic planning. This goes along with the first item on the list. The end result of the game should be completely mysterious at the start with many changes of fortune and short term strategy along the way.

No game combines these ideas more effectively than Talisman. Most attempts at adventure games, particularly modern ones, try to borrow too much from Euro games. While that may work for Dudes on a Map games and War Games, it kills the random game changing surprises that adventure games must provide.

Recently adventure games have been burdened by co-operative mechanisms. Nothing kills an adventure more than play-by-comittee. Imagine if the Lord of the Rings had been nothing but three volumes of detailed transcrips from the council of Elrond at Rivendell. Ugg.

Honorable mentions include Arkham Horror (co-op) and Relic (too structured).

While they may be good games, Vlada Chvatil's attempts at adventure games (Mage Knight and, in particular, Prophecy) completely miss the point. Same goes for Runebound.

I'd like to try Magic Realm but I fear it will violate rule 2.
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