Simple Rules, Difficult Decisions.
Adam Gemmer
United States
Oregon
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As I play more games and grow as a gamer, I realize how much I appreciate design that offers little in the way of a ruleset, but offers a lot in terms of decisions. I've come to be annoyed by rulebooks that offer options with too many special cases or exceptions.

I absolutely love Mage Knight which is obviously the exact opposite, but I find that I keep coming back to games with simple rule sets and deep decisions.

What games do you describe this way? I would love to discover more.
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1. Board Game: Tammany Hall [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:577]
Adam Gemmer
United States
Oregon
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This has become one of my all time favorite games. It has a 4ish page rulebook, and all the rules you need to know are nicely printed on the board. I'm also a sucker for blind bidding and back stabbing. The decisions in this one are so difficult and stressful and I love every second of it.
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2. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:29]
Adam Gemmer
United States
Oregon
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The end game is a little wonky and takes some explanation, but overall the ruleset is so simple and amazing. Bid on plants, buy fuel, expand and power cities. Do it again. It's so damn simple but so engaging and brutal. Truly a masterpiece.
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3. Board Game: ZhanGuo [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:397]
Adam Gemmer
United States
Oregon
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I haven't actually played this one yet but it will be the next game I buy. Draw cards, place them in one of two places one of which lets you take one of six simple actions. There are so many moving parts for a game with so few choices that I can't wait to get my hands on it.
 
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4. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:8]
Adam Gemmer
United States
Oregon
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I think some people may disagree with me here. But it really just boils down to 8 simple actions. There is some wrapping your head around the power bowls and the direct/indirect adjacency, but that's about it. It's not as simple as some games above, but I believe it qualifies.
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5. Board Game: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:447]
Adam Gemmer
United States
Oregon
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Build pattern; play card. That's pretty much it. I prefer the "high form" version of the game to the death match, but my brain always hurts after this one and I can explain it to a new player in less than 10 minutes. The only thing with this one to wrap your head around is standard/combat move/jump.
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6. Board Game: Bruges [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:198]
Adam Gemmer
United States
Oregon
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I'm also a sucker for cards that do lots of different things. The options are so simple with this one. The decisions aren't as brain-burny as some of the other games above, but you get so many options from such a small hand of cards and such easy mechanics. My favorite Feld that I've played.
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7. Board Game: Spyrium [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:483]
Adam Gemmer
United States
Oregon
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Play dudes, remove dudes. But be very careful where and in what order you do it in.
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8. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:293]
Ben Charbonneau
United States
Glen Allen
VA
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This is the game I think of, and maybe to a lesser extent Battle Line. Love the very simple (head to head) games.
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9. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
suPUR DUEper
United States
Villa Hills
Kentucky
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Pretty basic rules:
Do any 2 of the following in your turn:
-Play a tile
-Play a leader
-Exchange tiles
-Play a catastrophe.

That's pretty much it.

But.... those four actions combine is a blizzard of combinations to create a deep and engaging experience. Do you:
-go off to a quiet section of the board
-build a monument to get VP's but weaken your kingdom
-attempt to conquer a kingdom?
-can you overthrow a leader with an internal revolt?
-place catastrophe to shatter a player's hold on a kingdom and allow you to place a leader
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10. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:420] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Toms Leikums
Latvia
Jelgava
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Certain favorite in this category. OK, actually many abstracts fit there.
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11. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:38]
Neil Cook
United Kingdom
Burton on Trent
Staffs
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I'd agree with everything you were saying, if only you were right...
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You have the exact same 2 options each and every turn. Put dudes onto the board, or take one off. Sure, there are decisions within those two options, but at its heart that's all there is to it. It's simply a question of timing it right.

I really need to get this to the table again...
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12. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:209]
Kelly Bass
United States
Venice
California
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1. Play a tile.
2. Buy up to 3 shares.
3. Discard unplayable tiles.
4. Refresh to 6 tiles.
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13. Board Game: Lords of Waterdeep [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:51]
Logan
United States
West Linn/Oberlin
Oregon/Ohio
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Very simple worker placement and there's lots of tension in whether you should risk missing out on a place you want to get the extra value out of your workers of playing an intrigue card. First time I played I felt it was too simple, second time I played I realized how big of a part the intrigue cards play.
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14. Board Game Designer: Reiner Knizia
Matt Brown
United States
Okemos
Michigan
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The one designer who is made for this list.
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15. Board Game: Bazaar [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1821]
J Weintraub
United States
Commack
New York
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On any given turn, you have at most three choices for a single action.
Roll for a random gem, make a trade according to the trade table, or turn in gems to score. Still makes for brain-burning difficulty for some people.
 
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16. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:123]
David Gibbs
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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Go is the absolute classic of this set -- incredibly simple rules, incredibly complex emergent strategies and complexities.
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17. Board Game: 1775: Rebellion [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:247]
O.Shane Balloun
United States
Bellingham
Washington
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An exceptionally deep wargame built on a simple ruleset. The depth is inherent in timing, card play, and how to play your command decisions when the dice show them. It is tense and yet different every time I play it.
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