After 5 plays, games that don’t quite make the cut
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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I consider my repertoire to be games that I own, that I have played 5 times (and can teach), and for which there are circumstances (non-extraordinary) where I would suggest playing. This begs the question: Are there games that I own and have played 5 times, which are not in my repertoire? The answer is yes and this is their geeklist.

For each game I discuss why it is not in my repertoire and how it got to 5 plays in spite of this.
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1. Board Game: Fluxx [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:6641]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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18 plays since 2007

I am intrigued by the concept of a game where the rules change while you’re playing it. And at one time, that was enough reason for Fluxx to be in my repertoire. However Fluxx doesn’t have much else going for it and it has the problem that its game length is not deterministic. Sometimes a game of Fluxx can last way too long. I’ve learned to use a time limit, and while that’s better, it’s still less than satisfying.
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2. Board Game: Zombie Dice [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:1710]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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9 plays

Zombie Dice is quick, can be played with a large number of players, and has a Halloween theme. So it is played often enough in October to reach 9 plays. However there isn’t very much there there. Zombie Dice is a ‘press your luck’ game, but there are several quick ‘press your luck’ games that I would rather play. The tiny plastic brains I pimped the game with (for scoring) helps a little, but not enough.
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3. Board Game: Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3778]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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7 plays

I’m not a big fan of games with pre-programing moves, so Pirate Dice starts with 2 strikes against it. However Pirate Dice is short enough (if you play the version where the game ends when you get to the treasure, the version where you have to take the treasure back can last way too long), light enough, and the penalty for messing up an order is small enough, that I do enjoy playing it a little. If it weren’t for my general dislike of pre-programming, Pirate Dice would probably be in my repertoire.
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4. Board Game: 6 nimmt! [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:574]
Eric Clason
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Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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6 plays since 2007

A plus for Cat 5 is that it supports up to 10 players. However when played with a large number of players, Cat 5 becomes very tactical. I play the card that’s best for the current round, without regard for how the cards remaining in my hand will impact future rounds, because the tableau will change so much by the time of the next round that I can’t predict what cards will be good. This wouldn’t bother me if Cat 5 were shorter. Cat 5 feels to me like it should be a filler, but it is too long to be a filler. If Cat 5 was a filler, I might think more highly of it.
 
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5. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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5 plays since 2007

Carcassone is the one of the big 3 ‘gateway’ games that I never warmed up to. Part of the reason is the rules for Farmers has changed over time. If I’m playing with others who know Carcassone, we need to make sure we are all using the same Farmer rule. If I am teaching newbies, I have to decide which Farmer rule to use, the one in box we are using or the most current rules, and refresh myself on that rule while teaching it. This may seem like a small thing, but it takes time and is prone to confusion. Also it points to the fact that I don’t play Carcassone frequently enough to get comfortable with it. I suspect if the circle of people I game with played Caracassone more frequently, leading to me playing it more frequently, my opinion of the game would improve.
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6. Board Game: Metropolys [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:636]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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5 plays

Metropolys is a game that I think I should like more than I do. The problem is I don’t have a good grasp of a strategic framework. Only rarely, when I place a first building, do I have a positive reason for the space I selected*. Most of the time, when I place a first building, I have no clue how things will end up. So I just try to place a first building so that I don’t give the next player a gift. I find this very unsatisfying. If I could up with some heuristics like: in X situations it is better to place a first building with Y characteristics, it would probably improve my opinion of the game. It’s not that I need to know how to make the best move, I just want to be able to choose a move that is more than a random choice.

*Either I know what is going to happen (examples: I am playing in a dead end or playing a building that no one can beat) or the next player is going to have a tough decision (example: play a building for more than the space is worth or let me have a space cheap).
 
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7. Board Game: Zooloretto [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:607] [Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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5 plays

When Zooloretto won the Spiel des Jahres, there were predictions going around that it would be up there with the big 3 ‘gateway’ games. I played it and liked it well enough. But then I played its little brother Coloretto. Coloretto has everything I like about Zooloretto in a quicker, smaller, and more elegant package. If it weren’t for Coloretto, Zooloretto might be in my repertoire. With Coloretto, I see no reason to ever suggest playing Zooloretto again.
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8. Board Game: King of New York [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:424]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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5 plays

I’m a fan of King of Tokyo (KoT), so I purchased King of New York (KoNY) soon after it came out. After 3 plays I realized that, yes KoNY has a bit higher skill to luck ratio than KoT, but that is not what I am looking for in games like KoT and KoNY. The price of the added skill is added fiddlyness. For me it’s not worth this price. My most recent 2 plays of KoNY were each because another fan of KoT expressed an interest in KoNY.
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9. Board Game: Snow Tails [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:600]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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5 plays

For my first 2 plays of Snow Tails, I saw things that I liked. So I took it to the Christmas family get-together (many of my family are casual gamers) where it was played 3 times over a week. By then I realized that I was not that fond of Snow Tails. I’m beginning to realize that I’m not that fond of racing games. The only true racing game that I like is Ave Caesar, which is a filler.
 
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10. Board Game: Colossal Arena [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:752]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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5 plays

My first play of Colossal Arena was 5 player and I felt that I had very little control. I suspected that it might play better with fewer players, but did not push to play the game again. A few years later, a gaming buddy ask me to bring it to a game night. He really liked it and over the next few months we played it a total of 4 times, with either 4 or 5 players, before the promoter moved out of town. While I find 4 player Colossal Arena a bit better than 5 player, I am still not a fan of the game.
 
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11. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:237] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Eric Clason
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Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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5 plays

The first time I played Arkham Horror (AH) I pushed someone, who warned me that he was not a very good game teacher, into teaching the game to a bunch of newbies. It did not go well, but I chalked it up to the teacher, so I continued to look for opportunities to play AH.

AH is a very fiddly game, for example there are a lot of special characteristics a monster can have. Knowing how all the fiddlyness works is important to doing well in the game and to not slowing the game down a lot. This makes AH even more susceptible to alpha gamer syndrome than the average co-op. In the other 4 games of AH I played, there was always 1 veteran player (not the same veteran in all the games) who knew the game well. At the start of the game, each player pretty much made his own decisions, maybe occasionally asking for advice from the veteran player. However towards the end of the game as things got tight, the veteran transitioned to alpha player mode. He was able to quickly see what needed to be done to give us a reasonable chance at victory. And by that time, AH being a longish game, the other players (including me) were disinclined to slow the game down to figure things out for ourselves.

Perhaps if I made an effort to play several AH games, with other non-veteran players (so I would be forced to figure out things), at a reasonable frequency (so I could retain most of what I learned between sessions), until I got comfortable with it, I might enjoy AH more. I don’t see that happening though.
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12. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:128]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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5 plays

Build a space ship and see how well it survives, or not, various encounters. Sounds like a neat concept. Only I don’t like the time pressure during the building phase. I realized this after a couple of plays. My most recent 3 plays were because of a Galaxy Trucker enthusiast in my gaming circle.
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13. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:31]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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5 plays

A few years ago a gaming buddy held 5 game nights for Eclipse. It was during this period that I bought it. Some bill Eclipse as a 4X space game that is shorter than Twilight Imperium. But it is still a long game. In my experience Eclipse lasts about 45 min per experienced player (with 2 or 3 games under their belt) and 1 hour per newbie or AP player. For me, games of that length are held to a higher standard than shorter games are.

In Eclipse, the 4 Xs are constrained. Once you have eXplored, eXpanded, and eXploited, to a certain point, there is little or no net benefit to eXpanding further. As for eXterminate, after a few battles, the possibility of improving your position from further battles diminishes. In some ways it’s like scoring in Agricola. While I don’t mind these constraints in a worker placement game like Agricola, they feel wrong in a 4X game like Eclipse.

There are things I like about Eclipse. For examples: I like the technology tree and I like the way ship design works. If Eclipse were 2 hours or less, it might be in my repertoire. But, as I said, long games are held to a higher standard and Eclipse doesn’t meet that standard.
 
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