"Acquired Excellence" -- Persistence pays off...
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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Some game are instant hits. But there is a breed of games that upon first playing are quite underwhelming and can leave a bad taste, but when pursued, end up being games of true excellence. The reasons for this are varied, but the games like this seem many.

Games like this often benefit fro having the player teaching the game ALSO give some tactical tips as the game goes along to facilitate a quicker appreciation of the game by newbies.

I have started with a big handful of them, feel free to add you own -- BUT -- when you make an addition, explain why you think the game starts of poorly, and what makes it 'acquire excellence' in the eyes of the players.
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1. Board Game: Die Magier von Pangea [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3466]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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The tactics in Pangea seem obvious, and altogether dull upon the first play. (Move my guys around and get amulets -- boring.) But with repeated plays you find out that moving neautral minions, sliding landmasses, moving from one side of the map to the other (globe movement), learning to play offensively and defensively at the same time -- these are all tricks that take a game or two to be aware of. When I first played this game, we all rated it extremely highly, but when introducing it to newbies, the fact that I rout them and frustrate their every move tends to give them a bad impression. Keep playing, and you get one of the best, quickest tactical games ever.
 
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2. Board Game: Merchants of the Middle Ages [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1518]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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This game inspired the list. I'm not the biggest fan of die Handler, but I believe that is precisely what I am talking about here: I only got to play it once, and therefore the game didn't have the time to acquire the excellence in my estimation that it so richly deserves. Fans of the game, please chime in and explain why this is...
 
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3. Board Game: Java [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:719]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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With Java, I believe it's a little simpler: there is so much you can do on a turn, it seems like the game is too 'big' and overwhelms the player into feeling like their is no overall goal.

The trick is to keep playing and find out that, though the opening is wide open, as the game develops and as players become accustomed to the game, there are definitely pattern of moves to look for, and all kinds of fun tricks to deny you opponent and make big points for yourself. This game is rich in opportunity -- much more so than any of the other Kramer/Kiesling AP games. (Don't play int with overanalyzers though; it will kill the enjoyment of everyone else.)
 
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4. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:15]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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Sometimes we forget how this game seemed to us at first (and maybe your experience was better than mine), but my first 5 playings of this were lackluster. I thought this was a very mediocre game. It, like Java, seems overwhelmingly wide-open to the enwbie and makes them feel like there is no real direction for the game. Like Java, as the game begins to unfold, player begin to understand what best pattern of acquisitions to make, and the tricks of denying one's opponents. In all the times I have taught this game, it has NEVER ONCE been a hit upon a first playing. But in time, many people become big fans of the game.
 
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5. Board Game: Odin's Ravens [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1067]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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The first 7 playings of Odin's Ravens, I hated it. I only kept playing because my friend Jenny liked the raven pieces, and people on the net told me it was a really great game. I am glad I listened. Again, the tactics aren't at all obvious, but once you learn how to combine effects of cards, you can really go on a tear and get the raven flyin'! Also, for a newbie, the 'programming' of the 'aux deck' seems superfluous -- but to experoenced players, that is often the key to winning. A great game -- but not at first.
 
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6. Board Game: The Bridges of Shangri-La [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1168]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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Bridges of Shangri-La is just beginning to 'acquire excellence' in my eyes. The biggest strike on this game is probably the very 'muddy' artwork which puts newbies off this game immediately. And gameplay diesn't help. This game is very trick, and I still am not sure I really appreciate it yet -- trying to find a way to hose your opponent and make things work for you in no easy task -- but whenever I make a good series of plays, I always think the game is about to really shine... So graphics can definitely affect the acquisition of excellence.
 
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7. Board Game: Catan Card Game [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:737]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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I owned Settlers of Catan Cardgame for 3 years before I began to like it. At first it seemed too long, too random, not enough interaction (complaints I have heard from many.) But as I continued to play (at the urging of some online buddies who told me they used to feel the same way) I found this game growing on me. Learning what to build and when, deciding when to try and steal one of the wooden tokens, and finding good building combos, actually proved very rewarding. Now I enjoy the game tremendously. From a '4' to an '8'.
 
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8. Board Game: Hera and Zeus [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1407]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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The rules seem a bit dauting at first with all the special powers, but Hera & Zeus is a winner. The to appreciation, in my book, is realizing the different victory conditions are all possible and you may need to switch from one goal to the other as the game progresses. Once you get the hang of sensing what approach to make and when, how to save up certain cards then gun for your goal, this game starts to SHINE!
 
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9. Board Game: Hellas [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:2276]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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Hellas is a wargame, so I am not interested. That's what I and many of my friends thought. But once we played, and realized combat is not necessarily a first resort, and that finding clever ways to combo different action cards in different situations, we found ourselves trying to one up each other for clever card sequences. The ebb and flow of the game, the voyaging component, the bluffing, the planning, the importance of holding certain places on the board -- all of it started to gel, and now this is one of my more popular 2-player games with my friends. (Jenny went from having to be convinced to play it, to requesting it everytime I visit her family in Oregon.)
 
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10. Board Game: Medina [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:731]
Jeremy Avery
Canada
Kamloops
BC
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One of my favorite example is Medina, which once seemed mediocre to me, and now has 'acquired excellence'. (I now rate it a 10.) At first the game seems frustrating and almost pointless, but as player understand the tricks of the game and realize the flexibility required strategically to win, the game starts to get spicy! Learning hwo to play effectively takes 1 or 2 games, but now all of my friends (less one) are hooked -- even my mother enjoys it now. The key is to explain why you are doing certain things so they can begin to understand how to play a block offensively and efensively at the same time, how to recognize the myriad of ways to work for points, etc.

Okay, so I have given you some examples...now add your own.
 
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11. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:116]
Yehuda Berlinger
Israel
Jerusalem
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We had a group that found this rather lackluster. We are not a very directly competitive group, and the auctions all went for something like 400 Fl max. All of us had enough money, no tension.

Then one of us discovered Jesters, and won a few games with those. Then the Jester pricing went up. Then Recruitment cards went up. The game became more tense and thus more enjoyable.
 
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12. Board Game: O Zoo le Mio [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1392]
Alan Kaiser
United States
Aurora
Colorado
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This game is a favorite of mine. It seems very simple and straight forward. The rules are very easy and you can teach someone the game in 5 minutes. The theme is light and draws people in. However there is certainly more here than meets the eye. The auction mechanic takes a little getting used to as money is pretty tight. Figuring out which tile(s) to bid on in a round requires a good evaluation of each players zoo. Also, while the tile laying mechanic is fairly easy (how hard can it be to lay a tile?!?) it does require you to balance animal placement with loop generation all the while making sure you are not limiting your expansion potential. So, yes, experience does pay off in this game and unless you have played a few time you might think of this as a light fluffy game rather than a gamers brainburner with almost perfect information!
 
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13. Board Game: Torres [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:402]
Matthew Arrington
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
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We didn't see the point in this when we first did it, but we liked the look of it, so agreed that we should try again. It takes a couple games to get the feel for what you should do for yourself and to get in everyone elses way. After we added the cards to hand and a Master card, the game became WAY more varied and interesting. I'm really glad that we stuck with it...
 
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