Can't Get This? Get This Instead!
Erik D
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Really pining for a game, but there are forces preventing you from getting it? Try these alternatives instead!
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1. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:75]
Erik D
United States
Pasadena
California
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Can't Get This?

The Problem
Like a tattoo, if you're going to get it, you better get one worth paying for. Unfortunately, the cheapest of good-quality boards go for $150 and they're not much to look at. Hilinski boards--a bargain considering what you get--will still run you $200.
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2. Board Game: Sorry! Sliders [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:1488]
Erik D
United States
Pasadena
California
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Get This Instead!

The Solution
It's available on Amazon for under $20. Granted, it doesn't have the qualities of precision and craftsmanship that a good Crokinole board does, but it's still a good ol' time to play. The real strength of the game comes from the 4 different play areas, 2 of them complete with Crokinole-style holes in the center.
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3. Board Game: Risk Express [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:2765]
Erik D
United States
Pasadena
California
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Can't Get This?

The Problem
Hasbro hates America.
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4. Board Game: Yahtzee Free for All [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:3257]
Erik D
United States
Pasadena
California
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Get This Instead!

The Solution
Has all the features of Risk Express--press-your-luck elements, high player interaction via stealing points, pedigree designer (Richard Borg). Yahtzee Free-for-All isn't just merely similar to Risk Express, it's an improvement over it.
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5. Board Game: Icehouse [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:2640]
Erik D
United States
Pasadena
California
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Can't Get This?

The Problem
You specifically want the pieces to play the game Icehouse. Tubes are no longer sold in single colors, so you'll have to buy 5 Treehouse sets at anywhere from $6 - $12 apiece, depending on where you shop.
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6. Board Game: Light Speed [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2327]
Erik D
United States
Pasadena
California
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Get This Instead!

The Solution
Light Speed is a terrific game from Cheapass that was inspired by the original Icehouse game. For $4, you have a game good for up to four players (though you'll need counters in as many colors as there are players).
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7. Board Game: Battle Cry [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:615]
Kent Reuber
United States
San Mateo
California
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Can't Get This?

Out of print for many years. We may well see a reprint in the next year or two.
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8. Board Game: Yankees & Rebels [Average Rating:7.48 Unranked]
Kent Reuber
United States
San Mateo
California
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Get This Instead!

It still uses Euro-mechanics and has only 2 pages of rules. Unlike Battle Cry, you don't play on a stylized map, but play on a real scale map of Gettysburg (the reverse side is blank and there are hex tiles for building your own battles). While Battle Cry has each unit the same (e.g., infantry units are all 4 figures), each unit in Yankees and Rebels represents a specific division with actual battle strengths represented. Highly recommended for people wanting an intro Civil War game.

Rules are available for download at http://giogames.it/

US distributor is http://bouldergames.com/
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9. Board Game: 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:1320]
Mike Ricotta
Japan
Okinawa
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It seems to be the only 18xx game good for two players? Out of print though...what's the "Get this instead?"
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10. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:501]
Jeremiah Lee
United States
Milan
MI
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Can't get this on the table because it takes 5-12 hours to play?
 
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11. Board Game: Intrigue [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:1801]
Jeremiah Lee
United States
Milan
MI
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Play this instead!

It won't scratch -exactly- the same itch, but it does a good job of giving you a Dip-feeling in much less time.
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12. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:312]
Jim Marshall
United Kingdom
York
North Yorkshire
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Alternatives to Diplomacy...

Imperial is one of my favourite games. It looks a lot like Diplomacy - it wouldn't surprise me if it was originally designed using a Diplomacy set.

However, while it's a great game it doesn't really play like Diplomacy. You're not permanently aligned with a country, instead you represent a finance house out for a spot of war profiteering. Your allegiance will change depending on where you've put your money...

I'd suggest a look at A Game of Thrones (first edition). It has conquest based victory conditions, simultaneous order selection, negotiation, armies/navies, simple combat rules, units being able to support others in combat (including supporting other player's units) etc. It offers more: a degree of resource management, auctions for political and military advantages, and the need for a degree of co-operation when the Scots sorry Wildlings come over the wall.

It's also time boxed - if no player has won by turn 10, a winner is called (the player with the greatest number of strongholds under his/her control). 2-4 hours, highly recommended. Only downside is that while it works with 3-5 players it's best with the full number, although there are expansions designed specifically for 4 or 6.

Senji is also worth a look. Again simultaneous order selection (but no support order so less negotiation around combat) and a dedicated trading/diplomacy phase when players trade military and/or economic favours, family members (seriously! - they act as hostages) and 'promises' (which may or may not be kept) on future behaviours.

It moves away from Diplomacy in that victory is based on points gathered (any player reaching 60 points triggers the game end), there is dice based combat, and there is card hand management (economic resources are represented as 'hanafudu' cards in which you build up sets of various kinds that you cash in for VPs).

Senji plays in 1.5 - 2.5 hours, altough for a longer game (if desired) the designer recommends playing to a higher points total. Best with the full complement (6), although people here on BGG have played with fewer and enjoyed it.

AGoT is closer to the feel of Diplomacy, but I enjoy both it and Senji. They're both lookers and are currently in print, so if you're serious about a shorter Dippy you have realistic options to go for.
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