Mattias' top "Experience Games"
Mattias Elfström
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In my view the BGG ratings for games fail to give a fair reflection of how good a game is. Part of the reason for this is that many games are not directly comparable since they cater to different gaming interests. How can you, for example, compare Love Letter to Advanced Squad Leader on the same scale?

I would prefer game ratings to be divided into categories so that games are more comparable. Some games may even belong to several categories.

Competitive Games: These games can be played as a competition and reward strategy and skill. Competitive Games are well balanced and provide a level field, even if starting positions or abilities are asymmetrical.

Multiplayer Games: Multiplayer Games allow for lots of players. In many cases the game gets better as more players are added. The winner of a Multiplayer Game should be decided by how good the player is at making deals, manipulating his opponents or outmanoeuvring them. Player interaction should be high. Multiplayer Games need not have perfect balance. It might even be considered a challenge to play an inferior position in such a game.

Wargames: Wargames deal with historical (or believable) situations of conflict. The game should have a simulation aspect and provide logical outcomes. The winner of the game should be the player with the better strategy. Playing time varies greatly and downtime may be long or short. Wargames are well balanced, but have varying starting positions and can be asymmetrical.

Experience Games: These games are almost always multiplayer. Who wins an Experience Game is less interesting compared to how fun it is to play the game. Experience Games have great themes and may in many cases take fairly long to play (long playing time being an asset in these cases). These games also tell a story that will live on beyond the gaming session and be retold over and over by the participants. Experience Games need not have perfect balance. It might even be considered a challenge to play an inferior position in such a game.

Two Player Games: Two Player Games emphasise game mechanics. Who wins a Two Player Game should be decided by who is the better player and who is capable of the better strategy. Two Player Games should be well balanced to allow a tight and exciting game.

Cube Pusher Games: Cube Pusher Games have ingenious mechanics and often invite competitive play, but they are low on direct player vs player interaction. Many of them can be thought of as ”multiplayer solitaire”, where all players just try to maximize their score irrespective of the moves of the other players. The theme of a Cube Pusher Game can feel ”pasted on” and seldom has any real influence on the game mechanics.

My top games of the different categories all have their own geek list:
- Competitive Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/190487/mattias-top-compet...)
- Multiplayer Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/2537/mattias-top-multipla...)
- Wargames (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/190519/mattias-top-wargam...)
- Experience Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/190418/mattias-top-experi...)
- Two Player Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/2489/mattias-top-two-play...)
- Cube Pusher Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/218102/mattias-top-cube-p...)
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1. Board Game: The Republic of Rome [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:351]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: The Republic of Rome may be the best Experience Game ever. It provides an immersive experience lasting many hours (unless it ends prematurely in a disaster). This may also be one of the first coop games. It is however a coop with a twist; you have to cooperate, but at the same time you are aiming for an individual victory. This is a mechanism seriously lacking in more modern coops. The game is deeply thematic and includes a lot of accurate historical detail.

Rules: The rules are very well written, but rather complex.

Tempo:

Components: The components are simple but good enough to convey the theme. The newer Valley Games version may have a little nicer look, but changes almost nothing from the original from a game perspective.

Winning: A good strategy will pay off in this game, but good deal making and some luck will also be needed for a win.

This game is also featured on my "Top Multiplayer Games" list.
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2. Board Game: Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:278]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: One of the best modern games in all categories, Spartacus is based around the great TV-series. The game provides cutthroat interaction between the players and is often decided by the thinnest of margins. Both expansions are great add ons. The first expansion adds many cards and opens the game for up to six players, which is very good in this case. The second expansion adds new cards and a seventh player.

Rules: The rules are clear and easy to learn from the provided manual.

Tempo: Playing time is adjustable, but the best experience is to be had when the complete game is played. Downtime is at a minimum, since player moves are very short and interactive.

Components: Components are state of the art and the photos from the series serve to carry the theme.

Winning: The game rewards negotiating and good strategy and is most often decided by skill.

This game is on my Top Competitive, Multiplayer and Experience Games lists.
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3. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:62]
Mattias Elfström
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Battlestar Galactica takes the traitor mechanic and spins it into a great game deep in theme. It can be enjoyed both by fans of the series and by those who haven't seen it.

The game really shines when the details from the three big expansions are added.

A full game takes several hours, but downtime is low and player interaction high.

Components are great, with plastic space ships and lots of photos from the show.

The game is won by a team rather than by a single individual, which in this case works well.
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4. Board Game: Circus Maximus [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1621]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: A great classic with a superb theme that can be played for individual races or as a campaign. Its true potential as a multiplayer and experience game comes through when played as a campaign where player deals will play a greater part.

Rules: The rules are detailed and fairly complex, but written in the excellent Avalon Hill rules case style.

Tempo: A large race will take several hours to complete and the intricate rules will create some downtime for individual players.

Components: The original components are very high quality, but quite simple and low on illustrations.

Winning: The game will be decided by luck of the dice, some push your luck decisions and some cleverness.

This game is on my Top Multiplayer and Experience Games lists.


My custom 1:72 scale Circus Maximus game.
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5. Board Game: Star Trek: Ascendancy [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:618] [Average Rating:7.81 Unranked]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: Star Trek Ascendancy is a great game. It combines simple but effective systems with a deep and well known theme. The game will be best with a large number of players and will take several hours to play through. The base game only supports three players however and the true potential of the game will not be realised until a few expansions are added. A more thorough review is available here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1846905/star-trek-ascendanc...

Rules: The rules are well written and straight forward with some clever innovations (the building of the map, warp movement etc).

Tempo: This is the type of game that will have some down time, but where you will feel involved even when your opponents are making their moves.

Components: Components are of high quality and very well designed to support the theme.

Winning: Good strategy, an ability to make deals and some luck will lead to victory.

This game is on my Top Experience and Multiplayer Games lists.
 
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6. Board Game: Firefly: The Game [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:276]
Mattias Elfström
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This is a great Experience Game with a lot of thematic details. It usually takes several hours to finish and involves some down time, but fans of the show will enjoy it nevertheless.

Mechanically this game is related to the classic Merchant of Venus and it has similar problems of randomness.

This game also plays well even if you have fewer than the full number of players.

Awesome components with plastic ships and heaps of high quality cards with photos from the show.

Good players will be able to increase their chances of winning, but in the end luck will probably triumph over strategy.
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7. Board Game: Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:742]
Mattias Elfström
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A great Experience Game that can accommodate a large number of pulp fans. Very nice theme which draws heavily on Indiana Jones (and his 30's inspirations).

The game will take several hours to finish and will involve some player downtime.

The rules are simple enough to allow younger participants. Some rules are a bit unclear, forcing house rules or roll offs.

The components are awesome with lots of plastic figures and thick, glossy cards.

Victory will be determined primarily by luck, but some strategy and push your luck is involved.

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8. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:558] [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: Last Night on Earth is a great B-movie themed Zombie game with great tongue in cheek game play. It has a large number of expansions allowing players to choose how many details they want to add.

Rules: The rules are not very exact and spread out over the various expansions. The game is however very straight forward and quick to pick up.

Tempo: It plays in a fairly short time, depending on scenario and there is not much downtime.

Components: The figures and cards are of the highest quality, but the maps tend to warp. Painting the figures will add a lot to the experience.

Winning: Victory will be determined by luck, but the game has some strategy. Some scenarios are unbalanced in favour of one side or the other.
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9. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:50]
 
Mattias Elfström
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A very thematic game that will take an entire day to play through.

There will be downtime for individual players in large games.

Game components are nice with lots of ship models and quality (but rather small) cards.

Deal making will triumph over strategy, but you also have to concentrate on the victory conditions if you want to win.

The expansions add some very important rules, but also several unnecessary details that will only serve to drag out the game.
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10. Board Game: War of the Ring (Second Edition) [Average Rating:8.39 Overall Rank:14]
Mattias Elfström
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This is a great game for two players that takes the basic principles from the classic SPI game War of the Ring and turns them into a highly playable game.

The game may run for the better part of a day, but is very exciting and thematic.

The components are great (even if the 1st ed original map was a little small and had some easily overlooked symbols).

This game is also on my Top Competitive, Wargames, Experience and Two Player Games lists.
 
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11. Board Game: Gladiator [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:3621]
Mattias Elfström
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12. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:274]
Mattias Elfström
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13. Board Game: Colt Express [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:308]
Mattias Elfström
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A "programming" game that is actually both quick and fun.
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14. Board Game: Kolejka [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1255]
Mattias Elfström
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15. Board Game: The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1344]
Mattias Elfström
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Similar to the Temple of Chac this game also offers a fun experience in less than an hour.

Great components that deserve to be painted.

 
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16. Board Game: The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1114]
Mattias Elfström
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Light but fun game that plays in an hour or less.

Fantastic components that deserve being painted.

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17. Board Game: Android [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1042]
Mattias Elfström
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This game has received a lot of unjustified criticism. It is highly thematic and tells an involving story.

Components are nice, but a bit on the fiddly side.
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18. Board Game: Invasion from Outer Space: The Martian Game [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:1644] [Average Rating:7.12 Unranked]
Mattias Elfström
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19. Board Game: Star Wars: Rebellion [Average Rating:8.47 Overall Rank:6]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: This is a fun recreation of the struggles of the rebels in the original Star Wars trilogy. The Empire player has to find the hidden rebel base before the rebels gain too much galactic support. Lots of very thematic missions and interactive play makes for good action.

Rules: The rules are fairly simple, but are separated into two rulebooks that make it a mess to learn. The reference book is however fairly useful during play.

Tempo: The game plays in three to six hours, but there is almost no downtime.

Components: The plastic components are great and deserves to be painted.

Winning: Good tactics and use of the provided missions will usually win the game but luck in finding the rebel base plays a part.
 
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20. Board Game: A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:750]
Mattias Elfström
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A Touch of Evil can be expanded to a vast game and has a large number of scenarios that allow for big variations in play.

The theme is great and the photo art provides a high level of involvement for players who enjoy the Sleepy Hollow genre.

If played with many players downtime can be an issue.

The rules are somewhat unclear and spread out over the expansions and over various types of play ("competitive" and "coop"). This will lead to situations that can be hard to resolve.

Models and cards are of excellent quality.

The game will be decided by luck.
 
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21. Board Game: Search for the Emperor's Treasure [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:4437]
Mattias Elfström
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22. Board Game: Blackbeard [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2449]
Mattias Elfström
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23. Board Game: The Awful Green Things From Outer Space [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1656]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: My list would not be complete without a Tom Wham game. This game is actually more about theme than anything else.

Rules: The rules are straight forward, but have some fiddly parts.

Tempo: This game takes a little too long to finish compared to what it offers.

Components: There are several different versions of this game. In most cases the components are nothing special, except for the illustrations, which are absolutely great!

Winning: This is a luck based game with some mitigating strategy. If the crew draws the wrong effect tiles they are usually out of luck.

This game is on my Top Experience and Two Player Games lists.

A large map and nice models add to the experience:



The models were cast by:

Dave Pildner
United States
Akron
Ohio
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More about Tom Wham's games on my All Tom Wham Games list at
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/6895.
 
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24. Board Game: Merchant of Venus [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:720]
Mattias Elfström
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25. Board Game: Mansions of Madness [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:262] [Average Rating:7.35 Unranked]
Mattias Elfström
Sweden
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