Optimal Board Game Tournament
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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For the KublaCon convention in San Francisco, I was planning to run a board game tournament where players submit a preference list from a list of 39 games, prioritizing as many as they want to, and then I enter it into my company's optimization software to find who should play which games together so that people get matched with others that want to play the same game. Then for each additional round, people that win will be matched with other players that won, and no one would be allowed to repeat opponents or games played, still optimizing off of the original lists submitted. I am picturing this being an event of 60-80 people, so it would take 3 or 4 rounds to get it down to a winner. Everyone could keep playing as many rounds as they want, being paired with people who had done similarly in the tournament. The 39 games I chose are all the ones in my collection that take 45-60 minutes, knocking out a few that were too light, like Rampage and Mille Bornes, or ones that don't have some sort of point scoring to allow you to distinguish what place each player got, such as a cooperative game. I'm planning to try a dry run of the tournament soon so I can make sure that I will be able to enter the players preferences and match results in a timely fashion. My plan is to list this as a 6 hour event, adjusting after the dry run.

I thought it could be useful to have a link I could point people to if they wanted to see all the games that would be in the tournament.

I've also added a short description of each game. In some cases the description on the box is too much about the theme and give little idea of game play. For a few of the games, I own the German version, so looking at the box is unlikely to help most of the people there.

Edit(3): The event has been confirmed for Friday, May 22nd from 2-8pm, with the finals on Saturday, May 23rd from 6-8pm.

Edit(2): This is the finalized list for the KublaCon 2015 tournament

Edit:
I did the dry run, it went well, and I got a couple volunteers to help run it. I'm upping the number of games to 40, and trying to pick the best from my collection and my co-contributor. I'm going to add some more possibilities to this list, moving the less likely to the bottom.

Out of the items that I've moved to the bottom of the list, the biggest concern is time. For the event, each round will be 90 minutes, so I need to make sure that I pick games that can will finish in time, so that means rule explanation should be short. The next criteria is to pick high rated games, and a variety of different games.
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1. Board Game: Alhambra [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:396]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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In this game you are building up your own personal Alhambra (palace). On your turn you can either collect money or buy a building. Players will score based on who has the most of each type of building, and how long the wall around their Alhambra is.
 
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2. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:371]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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In this game you trade bean cards to collect large sets of different bean types in your fields. It has the unusual mechanism that you cannot rearrange your hand, you must play cards in the order you draw them, and so if you have a card that isn't in the order you want, it increases your need to trade that card away.
 
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3. Board Game: Buy Low Sell High [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:3330]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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This game is about making profits by buying and selling business stock. Players use cards to manipulate the price of three types of stocks (oil, technology, and retail), and the buying and selling of the stocks is pretty severely limited. The three stocks have different levels of volatility. Technology is the most volatile, oil is the least volatile but with higher dividends, and retail falls in the middle.

Removed for one of the lower ratings in the list.
 
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4. Board Game: Cartagena [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:848]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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Cartagena takes as its theme the famous 1672 pirate-led jailbreak from the fortress of Cartagena. Each player has a group of six pirates, and you want to be the first to have all six escape through the tortuous underground passage that connects the fortress to the port, where a sloop is waiting for them.

To move a pirate, you need to play a card from your hand. Each card bears one of six symbols (dagger, pirate hat, etc.), and when you play a card, you move one of your pirates forward to the next matching symbol in the tunnel, leapfrogging over matching symbols where another pirate already stands. The only way to get more cards, however, is to move backwards; more specifically, you move one of your pirates backwards to the first space that holds one or two pirates, drawing one or two cards after doing so. Each turn, you take 1-3 actions, whether moving forward or backward or both.
 
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5. Board Game: Colossal Arena [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:754]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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You play as spectators, cheering and betting on the melee ongoing in a fantasy arena/Colosseum in which eight fantasy creatures are pitted against each other in battle. Each turn you can place a bet, and play a card for one of the creatures, with the creature having the lowest card being eliminated from the battle.
 
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6. Board Game: Elfenland [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:798]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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A group of fledgling elves (the players) are charged with visiting as many of the twenty Elfencities as they can over the course of 4 rounds. To accomplish the task they will use various forms of transportation such as Giant Pigs, Elfcarts, Unicorns, Rafts, Magic Clouds, Trollwagons, and Dragons.
 
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7. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:425]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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Eminent Domain is a civilization-building game in which your civilization's abilities are based on a deck of Role cards. At the beginning of the game each player has the same deck of cards, with just two cards for each Role in it. Every turn you must choose a Role to execute (and like Glory to Rome or Puerto Rico, your opponents will get a chance to follow suit), and in doing so you will add one of those Role cards to your deck. When executing a Role, you can boost its effect by playing cards out of your hand matching the Role you have chosen. For example, the more you Research, the better you get at Researching (because you'll have more Research cards in your deck).
 
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8. Board Game: Factory Fun [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:871]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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During the game you purchase machines to place in your factory. Each machine takes 1 to 3 inputs from reservoirs (yellow, blue, red, and brown) and produces one output (of the same colors, or black end products). You must always connect all reservoirs and machines correctly by using the connectors (the pipelines). At the start this is easy, but becomes more puzzling during the game.
 
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9. Board Game: Fearsome Floors [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:919]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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You and the other players are all trying to race across a mansion while being hunted by a monster. You can use blood slicks to speed your slide to the exit, hide behind movable pillars, and try to lead the monster into eating your opponents pieces instead of yours.
 
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10. Board Game: Finca [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:537]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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The gameboard of Finca shows the mediterranean island of Mallorca. Players try to crop and deliver the fruits of Mallorca (such as oranges, lemons, almonds, grapes etc.) by means of moving workers on a traditional windmill. Object of the game is to distribute your crop as effectively as possible in order to deliver faster than your opponents.
 
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11. Board Game: Formula D [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:429]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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You are a race car driver, trying to make it to the finish line first. For each gear in your car, you will roll different dice to show how fast you will go, and you need to plan carefully for the turns and to avoid bumping the other cars.
 
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12. Board Game: Hare & Tortoise [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1083]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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It is a cunningly designed race to the finish in which your fuel (carrots) must practically run out (all but 10 carrots or fewer) at the moment you hit the finish line. You also have three lettuce cards you must spend during the course of the race. The farther you move, the more carrots you spend, and there are a variety of ways to gain or lose carrots as you go around the track.
 
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13. Board Game: Dream Factory [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:579]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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Players bid on chips representing directors, actors, camera, effects, music, guest stars and agents. These all get placed on players' film-strips, to complete the movie production. So one movie might need 2 actors, but no music or effects and so on. It is a closed economy, when you win a bid, you pay all the money to the other players. I have the Hollywood Blockbuster version.
 
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14. Board Game: I'm the Boss! [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:937]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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Classic negotiation game in which players take turns being "The Boss" arranging deals between specific players on how best to divide piles of money. Players can sabotage or kill deals they're not happy with.
 
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15. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:333]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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In Ingenious, a.k.a. Einfach Genial, players take turns placing colored domino-style tiles on a game board, scoring for each color group that they enlarge. The trick, however, is that a player's score is equal to her worst-scoring color, not her best, so she needs to score for all colors instead of specializing in only one or two.
 
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16. Board Game: Istanbul [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:91]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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In Istanbul, you lead a group of one merchant and four assistants through 16 locations in the bazaar. At each such location, you can carry out a specific action. The challenge, though, is that to take an action, you must move your merchant and an assistant there, then leave the assistant behind (to handle all the details while you focus on larger matters). If you want to use that assistant again later, your merchant must return to that location to pick him up. Thus, you must plan ahead carefully to avoid being left with no assistants and thus unable to do anything...

In more detail, on a turn you move your merchant and his retinue of assistants one or two steps through the bazaar, either leave an assistant at that location or collect an assistant left earlier, then perform the action. If you meet other merchants or certain individuals at the location, you might be able to take a small extra action. Possible actions include:

Paying to increase your wheelbarrow capacity, which starts the game with a capacity of only two for each good.
Filling your wheelbarrow with a specified good to its limit.
Acquiring a special ability, and the earlier you come, the easier they are to collect.
Buying rubies or trading goods for rubies.
Selling special combinations of goods to make the money you need to do everything else.

When a merchant has collected five rubies in his wheelbarrow, players complete that round, then the game ends. If this player is the only one who's reached this goal, he wins immediately; otherwise ties are broken by money in hand.
 
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17. Board Game: Jamaica [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:404]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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The game ends on the turn when at least one player's ship reaches the finish line, completing one circuit around the island of Jamaica. At that point, players are awarded different amounts of gold in accordance with how far away from the finish line they were when the race concluded. This gold is added to any gold a player gathered along the way by detouring from the race to search for valuable treasure, by stealing gold or treasure from other players, or just by loading gold as directed by the cards the player played during the race. The player with the most total gold acquired through all these means is then declared the winner.
 
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18. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:450]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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During his turn, a player plays his terrain card and builds three settlements on three hexes of this kind. If possible, a new settlement must be built next to one of that player’s existing settlements. When building next to a location, the player may seize an extra action tile that he may use from his next turn on. These extra actions allow extraordinary actions such as moving your settlements.

By building next to a castle, the player will earn gold at the end of the game, but the most gold will be earned by meeting the conditions of the three Kingdom Builder cards; these three cards (from a total of ten in the game) specify the conditions that must be met in order to earn the much-desired gold, such as earning gold for your settlements built next to water hexes or having the majority of settlements in a sector of the board.
 
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19. Board Game: Medici [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:442]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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The object is to accrue the most points during three rounds, which you do by spending your points to bid on sets of cards. Each turn the current player turns up one to three cards for all the players to bid on, with the highest bid taking all cards. The cards denote a commodity type and quantity/value. The round ends when each player's ships are full, or the commodity card deck is exhausted. After each round, points are awarded to each player having the most of a given commodity, and to the one with the most valuable total "cargo load".
 
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20. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:226]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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Buying and selling paintings is a very lucrative business, at least that's what Hollywood's led us to believe, and that's the premise of this game. Five different artists have produced a bunch of paintings, and it's the player's task to be both the buyer and the seller, hopefully making a profit in both roles. He does this by putting a painting from his hand up for auction each turn. He gets the money if some other player buys it, but must pay the bank if he buys it for himself. After each round, paintings are valued by the number of paintings of that type that were sold. The broker with the most cash after four rounds is the winner.
 
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21. Board Game: Niagara [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1098]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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The first player to be able to claim ownership of five jewels is the winner. But the chase after the riches has some snags. The speed of the river is always changing, since the speed depends on the decisions of the players and the changeable weather. And once a canoe goes over the falls, it's a hefty investment to replace it. And there are also the Desperadoes to contend with, who aren't above trying to plunder the riches from Adventurers returning home. Niagara is distinguished by an innovative movement mechanic as well as a beautiful three-dimensional rendering of the waterfall setting.
 
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22. Board Game: Queen's Necklace [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1721]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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Queen's Necklace is a game of gem-selling, influence, and intrigue at the Court. Two to four players compete in the role of Royal Jeweler to sell rare jewels to the Queen and her court.

You must decide how best to spend your hard-earned ducats: on the acquisition of beautiful gems (diamonds, emeralds, and rubies); or to buy the favors of the various court followers. After three years of craftsmanship, the jeweler who sells the most precious gems and builds the largest fortune will receive the coveted title of King's Jeweler and a place at the Court! The selling action is rather unique in that everyone will determine what they will sell simultaneously, and when all the sales are revealed, the pricing will be based on how many of the different types of gem were offered for sale, but only the person who put down the most of each gem type will make that sale.
 
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23. Board Game: Qwirkle [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:662]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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Players begin the game with 6 blocks. The start player places blocks of a single matching attribute (color or shape but not both) on the table. Thereafter, a player adds blocks adjacent to at least one previously played block. The blocks must all be played in a line and match, without duplicates, either the color or shape of the previous block.

Players score one point for each block played plus all blocks adjacent. It is possible for a block to score in more than one direction. If a player completes a line containing all 6 shapes or colors, an additional 6 points are scored. The player then refills his hand to 6 blocks.
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24. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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Ra is an auction and set-collection game with an Ancient Egyptian theme. Each turn players are able to purchase lots of tiles with their bidding tiles (suns). Once a player has used up his or her suns, the other players continue until they do likewise, which may set up a situation with a single uncontested player bidding on tiles before the end of the round occurs. Tension builds because the round may end before all players have had a chance to win their three lots for the epoch. The various tiles either give immediate points, prevent negative points for not having certain types at the end of the round (epoch), or give points after the final round. The game lasts for three "epochs" (rounds).
 
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25. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:232]
Tom Travis
United States
Fremont
California
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Saint Petersburg has a board to tally victory points and to set out the four types of cards. It is the cards themselves that players need to collect. In each round – with the number of rounds dependent on the number of players and the randomness of card availability – players first pay for CRAFTSMEN who supply money for further purchases; then BUILDINGS to score points; then ARISTOCRATS, who are needed for money, points, and end-of-game scoring; and finally, unique cards from all three categories which give greater benefits. During the first rounds, players never have enough money to buy every card they want. During later rounds, they have plenty of money, but the cards they'd like to buy may have already come and gone...
 
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