Games I'd Like to Play on Thursday Nights -- But Can't!
Stven Carlberg
United States
Decatur
Georgia
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If you've got a regular gaming group, you're probably familiar with the problem I'm going to highlight here. Our Thursday night group started nearly 20 years ago, and for roughly the last 10 years it's been the same six guys. Each of us has slightly different tastes in games, and naturally this means each of us has games he truly DOESN'T want to play.

For example, I really don't care much for Mississippi Queen. I don't want to spoil everyone else's fun, so I try to be a sport about it and play it once a year or so, but they know it's not a favorite of mine and don't try to force it on me too often. There are only two or three games I really despise so much that I simply won't play them, but there are several that I have so little interest in that I'll usually try to talk people into playing something else.

And naturally my fellow players exercise similar rights. So for one reason or another -- thanks to one player or another -- we've developed a long list of games that I think would be great for our Thursday night tables but I know are never going to appear there.

So here follows my list of woe. Sympathetic noises will be appreciated.

As usual, I'll award a "thumbs up" to any substantive comment which does not include the terms "theme" or "mechanic(s)."
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1. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:28]
Stven Carlberg
United States
Decatur
Georgia
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Power Grid is a really nice game of auctions, connections, opportunities and money management, and somewhat surprisingly for a game of its complexity, it works quite well with the full complement of six players.

But in our Thursday night six, we've got one player who doesn't think the game is good enough that he wants to devote the time to learn it, so Power Grid can never come out for six. Sometimes when we split the table for two games, we get Power Grid for three, but its potential as a great game for six is wasted on us.
 
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2. Board Game: Around the World in 80 Days [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1313]
Stven Carlberg
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I only found out in the last couple of weeks that Around the World in 80 Days is now verboten on Thursday nights. This is a real shame since the game is so ideal for six players or, on those nights when we happen to have one missing, five players. Good hand management decisions, opportunity judgments, play the waiting game or plow ahead, etc., but we've got one player who doesn't like it and another, it now appears, who despises it.

But I like this game too much to let it go unplayed. So Around the World in 80 Days now goes into my carry-along any time I'm playing games with people other than the Thursday night crew.
 
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3. Board Game: Hare & Tortoise [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1073]
Stven Carlberg
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Hase und Igel, the first Spiel des Jahres winner, a fine math-y game for six players -- you'd think it would be appreciated by the whole table of six. But no, we've got one player who doesn't care for the game because he can't seem to win it by landing on the rabbit squares to "jug the hare" (i.e., take the consequences of a random event). Advice to play the game without landing on the rabbit squares all the time somehow does not appeal to him. And so the other five of us, who like the game, go without.

This is the same player who doesn't like Around the World in 80 Days because his strategy of running toward London in as few turns as possible, no matter what the cost in travel time, has only ever worked once. He won't listen to advice about that, either.
 
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4. Board Game: Liberté [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:699]
Stven Carlberg
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Once upon a time I eagerly put my new copy of Liberté on the table, thinking that this was a game which could become as much a staple for our Thursday night six as Acquire had been for so many years. It's a game of pushing small advantages, playing for inches, with a fine helping of luck and unpredictability from the cards and the keen wonder about which way the other players might jump. I thought everybody would be fascinated by the game and we'd be playing it for years.

But there's that card about "The Terror," the one that can only be used if the red government is in power, only they forgot to have it written on the card itself that it can only be used if the red government is in power. Sure enough, the one player this would irk to the point that he would never play the game if he tried to play "The Terror" and had to be told that, sorry, the red government has to be in power for that card to work, got the card, tried to play it, was told sorry, you can't, and immediately refused ever to play Liberté again.

What a waste of a fine six-player game.
 
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5. Board Game: Shark [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1777]
Stven Carlberg
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Now I admit that Shark is possibly not at its best as a game for six. It doesn't detract from the fun of speculation in this crazy, vicious stock market or the strategy and tactics of the game to have six players, but it does mean it takes longer to wait for your turn to play to come back around.

I'd be happy to play Shark at that number now and then, though, given the chance. But with one player in our six truly less than happy to play it, we really only put it on the table when he's not there.
 
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6. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Stven Carlberg
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Ticket to Ride is a special case, since it's only a five-player game, but we do have Thursday nights sometimes when one player is missing and the five-player games hit the table.

Unfortunately we have a division of opinion about which edition of Ticket to Ride to play.

I'm the purist in the group. The original Ticket to Ride is a wonderful game, chockfull of interesting decisions and agonizing moments while you wonder whether your plans will be ruined by somebody else grabbing that one essential piece of track you simply have to have or lose. And the original Ticket to Ride has never been improved upon in its many revisions -- that, at least, is my opinion.

But the additional elements of luck in the later editions of Ticket to Ride make the game more palatable for some of our Thursday night six. At first I played them to see what they would be like, and then I played them to be polite, but I've reached the point where I'm tired of wasting my time on a game that is something *like* Ticket to Ride without having what I really *like* about Ticket to Ride.

It's the route-building -- the pivotal, do-or-die route-building -- that makes Ticket to Ride a winner for me. Not the second-chance stations to salvage your game when somebody else has grabbed your route. Not the chance to draw more and more points in tickets. Not the chance to build a route for more or less depending on the cards you turn up. Not, in five words, the extra elements of luck.
 
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7. Board Game: Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:506]
Stven Carlberg
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This fascinating and gorgeous game of advance planning which may be undercut by an opponent's plans' contravention, plays for 3-5 players, but I don't think we've got even three who'll agree to play it.

Bye-bye Maharaja on Thursday nights.
 
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8. Board Game: Money! [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1421]
Stven Carlberg
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With its simultaneous auctions and once-through-the-deck rambunctious clarity, Money! is practically the perfect 15-minute filler for 3-5 players.

Sure enough, we've got one player who simply won't.
 
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9. Board Game: Show Manager [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1034]
Stven Carlberg
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A superb game of card-drafting and money management (later slightly revised and redecorated as Atlantic Star), Showmanager is not only my favorite of all Dirk Henn's designs but a game that is actually at its best with the full six players.

Sure enough, we've got one player who wants nothing to do with it.
 
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10. Board Game: Marco Polo Expedition [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:3337]
Stven Carlberg
United States
Decatur
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Marco Polo Expedition is another one that only recently bit the dust. Five is the maximum number for the game, but with one player who didn't like it, we were occasionally getting it to the table when he was out of town.

The pacing of the game is, I'll grant you, peculiar. You have to play a certain combination of cards to move forward to the next open space, and if the other players are occupying spaces in front of you, you get to skip those spaces. So, like Cartagena, it's a waiting game, but if you wait too long, you can be seriously screwed. But we had five players who liked the game and knew it well enough to make it an excellent competition.

But the last time we played it, we made the mistake of including the one who really doesn't like it, and he managed to drag another player over to the not-liking-it side. So I expect we've seen the last of Marco Polo on Thursday nights.
 
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11. Board Game: Condottiere [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:789]
 
Stven Carlberg
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I bought Condottiere back in the early days of having discovered all these new games on the internet, about the same time I was buying Hase und Igel. I figured it would be a good match for our Thursday night group, being a game that involved card management. Taking it out of the box and looking over the map and the rules, I thought I'd discovered a game that was going to fascinate and charm us all.

What I didn't count on was how amazingly paralyzing the decision whether to advance another card on a given battle would be. About the eighth time you wait five minutes for one player to slip a scarecrow onto the table or finally declare that he's done for this round, you're close to done with this game.

The third time we tried it, we had one player declare he would never play this game again. So we never have.
 
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12. Board Game: Das Motorsportspiel [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:2127]
Stven Carlberg
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Das Motorsportspiel is a wonderful car-racing game where you roll three dice, make the decision about whether to play the number on the top of each die or on the bottom (and one is a non-standard die), then navigate your car exactly through the lane-changes you want and are permitted by the rules -- all while under the pressure of a timer. If you make a move you didn't intend, you're not permitted to take it back, and if you make an error, to take a penalty. It's a delightful game of skill and luck.

But we had one player who refused to accept the rule that if he made a mistake, he couldn't take it back. End of story.
 
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13. Board Game: Kremlin [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:853]
 
Stven Carlberg
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Why did we stop playing Kremlin? It's been so long ago, I don't even remember. I suppose somebody or other didn't like waiting for his turn. Eventually I sold my copy of the game because it was never being played.
 
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14. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:319]
Stven Carlberg
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Now I admit that Shadows Over Camelot seems to have come and gone, with people's interest in it lasting only about as long as it took them to figure out how to beat the game.

But we never even got that far with it! I've had the game beat me about three times, and that's all I've ever gotten to play it because we're got one or two players who, for whatever reason, have decided they don't want to be at the table for it.
 
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15. Board Game: Jet Set [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1811]
Stven Carlberg
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A new addition to the list.

In 2008 we got a chance to play Jet Set, and most of us liked it so much, we were ready to play it again immediately the next week.

Soon we discovered we had a sole detractor who didn't want to play it. So, another good game for six that our six won't get to play.
 
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