Intermediate suggestions for semi-newbies
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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Howdy,
this is my first geeklist, and my first entry here on BGG (though I've been a regular surfer here for about six months).
My wife and our two best friends have rediscovered our love of boardgames over the past year, and in particular have started growing well beyond the party-games (trivial pursuit, songburst, encore) that we were familiar with, and are looking to expand our horizons further. I'm looking for suggestions which will ease us over into more substantial territory. I've listed here some of the games we've tried or are interested in trying, and I'd love to hear more from you folks. A few notes:
1. Games should work well with 3-5 players.
2. Games should optimally last an hour at most, 90 minutes on the very outside.
3. Heavily antagonistic games, or with a strong 'screw your neighbor' mechanic will be automatically vetoed by my wife, who won't even play UNO.
4. We have a curious four-year old, and a new baby on the way, so games with lots and lots of fiddly bits will likely end up cascading to the floor. Games which can involve our kids (visually, helping parents hold cards, etc, or more) are a plus.
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1. Board Game: Encore [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:6824]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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An early favorite 'party' game, a gift from a friend which really got us thinking about rediscovering board games we'd liked as kids.
 
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2. Board Game: Songburst: 70's & 80's Edition [Average Rating:5.56 Overall Rank:12401]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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Ditto. I include this here so you understand just how light-weight we were just a year ago. I mean, this was challenging stuff to us back then.
 
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3. Board Game: Wit's End [Average Rating:5.07 Overall Rank:14884]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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A surprisingly enjoyable trivia game, found at a thrift store, when we'd discounted Trivial Pursuit as not what we were after. There's actually a teensy, tiny, element of strategy to this one, and we still use it to warm up our brains. Okay, I promise, no more party games on the list. The whole point here is to suggest stuff which we can't find at Wal-Mart.
 
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4. Board Game: Stratego [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:2278]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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So, I pulled this one out of my memory banks, and found a copy at a thrift shop, thinking maybe the lightest of light war games might serve as a change of pace. My wife despised it at once, calling it both "antagonistic" and "random" (which have become swear-words for her in reference to games). My other friends thought it was kind of amusing, and that fueled our non-party-game yearnings.
 
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5. Board Game: Dungeon! [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:3532]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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Oh golly. Another childhood fave I ressurrected in the interests of finding something with a theme. Strangely, though my wife plays under protest, she usually has a good time. And that led to...
 
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6. Board Game: Mage Knight Dungeons [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:2601]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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Quite a leap, isn't it? But the theme is strong in this one, which we have found increasingly important, and the bits simply can't be beat (don't have the new 3-d tiles yet though). We picked up about $40 worth of spare MKD parts on eBay and we've really enjoyed playing with the alternative cooperative rule set.
 
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7. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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And now we run into serious trouble. eBay led us here, to the BGG. We read up on "German" and other European games, and got a taste for what we'd been missing. So we downloaded the DOS single-player version of Settlers, to see what all the fuss was about.
The verdict was mixed. My wife and I played it heavily discussing strategies, the strengths and weaknesses of the system, and so on, for about three months. But we were never impelled to actually purchase the game itself. The theme is, as many have noted, only very loosely tied to the strategy, and frankly the idea of constant haggling and calculations was a little numbing without the computer interface to handle the number-crunching. We're still interested in the complex mechanics, but would like to see something with more, I don't know, soul.
 
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8. Board Game: Castle [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:2828]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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This is my solution to the problem, and I've just ordered this through an eBay vendor. Reviews suggest the theme is engaging, and while there's a bit of a 'screw your neighbor' feel going on, I think the light flavor could compensate for that. There's a potential for some depth, some card-combinations, and it clocks in under 60 minutes. Maybe this is the middle-ground we're seeking.
 
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9. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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Then again, maybe THIS is the middle-ground we're seeking. The game seems light, but has serious replayability, and seems fairly non-confrontational, if I've read reviews correctly. Is this a good bet for us?
 
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10. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:698]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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And here's another possibility, which some are calling the perfect meld of American and German gaming (and cooperative play, too!). Theme seems central here (I've read the books, and one of our friends has, while my wife and her GF know the movies). How is the replayability? Or would we use this as a 'gateway' to more serious fare? Or is this game, in fact, too heavy for lightweights like us?
I welcome your suggestions and comments.
 
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11. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:366]
Joe Gola
United States
Redding
Connecticut
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This would be my recommendation.
 
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12. Board Game: Andromeda [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2231]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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Andromeda plays best with 4 or 5 players, but is a great game that has a big board, very nice bits, and is quite interactive without being confrontational. The trading mechanism is a lot of fun, and the medium luck factor seems to "fit" this game.
 
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13. Board Game: O Zoo le Mio [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1388]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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O Zoo Lo Mio is a great newbie auction game. It has enough to it to be challenging to a gamer, but simple enough to grasp that a newbie should get into it right away. Plays well 2-4 players, and besides being a tight little auction game, it is also a neat tile-placement game as you expand your zoo and try and have large hanitats for your animals. Very nice production, and just came out with improved components in English.
 
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14. Board Game: Zaxxon [Average Rating:4.16 Overall Rank:15080]
John Wright
United States
Reston
Virginia
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Very approchable, quick, fun and ~$20. Not as good with 3 shines with 4, 5 or 6. Great gateway game that you'll keep coming back to!
 
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15. Board Game: Goldland [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1676]
Dave Wilson
United States
Pleasanton
California
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I think this would match all your criteria but one: it's pretty bitful, and could suffer from the little ones. If you think that a serious issue, then perhaps not. But it's kind of a race, and kind of a puzzle, with competition for adventure majorities, but you really don't attack your opponents as much as you just try to do more than them.
 
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16. Board Game: Atlantic Star [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1151]
Dave Wilson
United States
Pleasanton
California
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This will play 2-6, won't exceed 90 minutes, and just a few bits, plus cards with which the little ones could help. And its an enjoyable set collection game with hand constraints.
 
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17. Board Game: Mystery of the Abbey [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1076]
Aaron Potter
United States
Riverside
California
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Nate suggests that we stock up on some easily available classics like 'Clue.' We already have access to those, but I've always found Clue's single-minded, no-options mechanics as dull as dirt. I had considered this game as a more flavorful, nuanced alternative. Thoughts?
 
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