When your best isn't enough; or, what is the gamestate?
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Most games have some fixed turn order. No matter how poorly I feel like I'm playing, I know that I'll spend one nth of the time doing something that I and only I can accomplish to change the gamestate--pushing pawns, playing cards, and so on. I might even get to collaborate with my teammates or opponents, making guesses or offering trades, more frequently.

Other games don't have any such thing, but rather have some kind of checkpoints that demand my participation. When a vote is called in Werewolf, I need to decide who I want to live or die. In a real-time game such as Boggle or Scattergories, the timer tells me (and everyone else) when I can start making my own list of words, and that list will directly determine the score. Even if I don't expect a high score, I'm playing the game.

These games make no such promises. In these games, it would be possible to "participate" to one's utmost--without necessarily have done anything perceptible as playing the game. Or perhaps, do these examples illustrate that for some games, a "gamestate" is beyond definition, that can't be pinned down by a PGN specification?

Feel free to add and discuss entries, ideally being respectful of others' opinions. I don't consider eligibility for this list a game-breaking flaw, and rank at least one of these among my top 25 at present, but after learning a new one the other night I got inspired by the edge cases.
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1. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:726] [Average Rating:7.01 Unranked]
Board Game: Ricochet Robots
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I learned this game the other night. Despite feeling sick and going up against a couple far more experienced players, I scored one point which made me happy. However, imagining how it could have easily been worse and I might not have enjoyed it quite as much brought this on.

Although the determinacy can be obviously punishing for new players, I think it compares favorably to the chaotic droid-navigation systems of RoboRally.
 
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2. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1482]
Board Game: SET
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Browsed through well-known real-time games looking for others I'd forgotten about, found this. Another perfect example of a very clear-cut gamestate, and a high potential that some people are way more skilled at altering it than others who just sit there. Five years ago I played this with a group, many of whom who were very good at it, and it put me off the game for a while because I just figured I was useless.
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3. Board Game: Bananagrams [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:1865]
Board Game: Bananagrams
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I love this game. One of my (arbitrary and subject to change) top 25 with over 30 plays just this year. But...how do we define the gamestate? Is it the sequence of calls of "Peel," none of which matter in the final scoring except for the last one? Is it just the final determination of a winner? Or is it the position of every tile that's included in a word, with the others attached to some owners but not contributing? If these ever-shifting crosswords are the gamestate, I would hope even the furthest-behind players get to at least put a couple words together, even as sometimes runaway leaders can storm ahead. But when vowels cluster on the wrong side of the table, the rules never guarantee you'll get a chance...
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4. Board Game: Pit [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:1770]
Board Game: Pit
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A classic game that I remembered, again, browsing the lists. Here's where (my portion of) the list shifts from skill disparity to volume and/or luck. This game has the advantage of having a pretty clear gamestate that changes over time (the position of cards in different people's hands), that the rules don't guarantee any single person a chance to alter. It's not too likely that people get locked out, though; I don't remember having an issue with this game, though it's been years.
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5. Board Game: Two Rooms and a Boom [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:959]
Board Game: Two Rooms and a Boom
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What can the gamestate here be said to consist of: votes for leader in each room, the people in each room (after leaders have swapped them), and in some cases, who has seen which cards under what circumstances? "Hi, I'm red?" "Hello, nobody here wants to work with you or share with you; you can't depose the leader, and we'll tell you on what terms if any you can leave. Feel free to hunt down the nuclear tyrant to kingmake for us if you want, not like you have much incentive to do so." ...is uncompelling. If we're broadening our definition to include discussion and guesses, then it's hard not to have an impact, though my instinct still might be to retreat into a corner (or mushroom cloud) rather than hope against hope I can actually influence anything.
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6. Board Game: Space Cadets: Dice Duel [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1469]
Board Game: Space Cadets: Dice Duel
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Not sure how what would fall under the scope of the gamestate here, either. The position of the ships and crystals on the board, certainly, and maybe the assembled dice for each team. The dice as they've been distributed to the individual players, rolling in search of their results? Here, a player who's not getting any dice really isn't going to help their team. But conceivably, with bad enough rolls, they could be there searching for a useful outcome for a long time...
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7. Board Game: Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination [Average Rating:5.39 Overall Rank:20955]
Board Game: Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination
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I like to think of myself as a creative person, able to put together words in service of plots, rhymes, or weirder linguistic constraints should the need arise. I also like to think of myself as a competitive person, attempting to complete an external win condition should a game provide me with one. This product, despite pretense, affords good opportunities for neither. Instead of attempting to construct an elegant plot, groups are forced to shoehorn in increasingly pointless objects, with no guarantee that quieter members can participate or feel like they're helping the cause. And the lack of any objective degree of difficulty except for those set by the players itself makes it almost impossible to treat as a fair, competitive exercise. Though I'm no fan of the two games I list above, this is my only "1" at present, and I think I almost rather would sit in silence than try the standard co-op mode again.
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8. Board Game: Fun Farm [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:6015]
Board Game: Fun Farm
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Phelanpt Feb 11, 2:15 PM: evils have mostly stood by and watch goods fall. except for emme. she's spinning them round and round.
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I LOVE FUN FARM

That being said, if you're too slow, you don't get to play. Fun Farm is a grabby reflex game, like Ghost Blitz.
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