Occasional Games
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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Occasional games are games that are enjoyed when they are played, but are only played occasionally, maybe once a year or so. Some Occasional games are connected to occasions, the best example being games connected with Halloween. However there are other reasons a game might only be played occasionally even though it is fun.

For each game I give both the reason(s) I enjoy the game and the reason(s) why I don’t play it frequently.

Please add your own Occasional game(s) to the list along with reasons for it being an Occasional game (you don’t need to be as long winded as I was.)
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1. Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:422]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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As I alluded to in the intro, there are several Halloween games that could make this list. I choose BatHotH as the representative from that group in part because it would be an Occasional game even without the Halloween tie in.

In the first part of the game, the mechanics of exploring the house work well and seeing the house grow is fun. The best part of the game is when the haunt begins and the players have to discover what has happened and how to deal with it. I can’t think of another board game that has this extent of an unknown element. There are other board games with some unknowns, but the unknown is taken from a known list. The idea that the players have no prior knowledge of what the haunt is, is a concept that normally would be found in an RPG not a board game.

BatHotH does not have deep strategy. In fact if a full analysis was performed on the best tactics to use during the first part of the game, a lot of the fun would leak out. If BatHotH was played frequently, the novelty of exploring the house would fade causing the first part of the game to become a little boring.
 
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2. Board Game: Bootleggers [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1121]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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Bootleggers is a game where the theme works well and is fun, but has a bit higher luck element then some people like in a 2 hour game.

For me a game, where the theme works well and is fun but whose strategy element has something to be desired, if it is too long for a Filler, it is a possible candidate for an Occasional game.
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3. Board Game: Elfenland [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:793]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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I enjoyed Elfenland both times I played it. Figuring which chit to take, then place, and most importantly which route to take is complex enough that I need to think about it. But not so complex that I feel overwhelmed. This is a delicate balance for a game with as high a puzzle element as Elfenland.

Elfenland has a long downtime while you wait for each of the other players to choose their route. This downtime hasn’t bothered me because I am thinking about my own route, both this turn and next turn. However I worry that this could change if I played the game frequently and I learned to pick routes more quickly. I also worry that the puzzle element would become stale if I played the game too often.
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4. Board Game: Junta [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:949]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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Junta has several shortcomings. The game is much better with 7 players then with fewer. It takes around 3 hours to play. And it has a lot of fiddly rules

A large part of Junta’s appeal is its politics. (There is also the fun of hamming it up with bad accents.) The El Presidente is required to give the other players power, including power that can be used to overthrow the El Presidente, in the form of offices. The El Presidente then tries to give out the minimum amount of money needed to buy the loyalty of enough of the other players to prevent a successful coup. I know of no other game with anything like this.

A big part of what makes Junta an Occasional game is that it’s hard to round up exactly 7 players willing to play a 3 hour game. Also if played a lot it will become more apparent that assassinations play a large part in determining the outcome of the game. Maybe as large if not larger than politics do. Certainly, if the El Presidente is competent in making his budgets, his presidential term is much more likely to be ended by assassination then by coup.
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5. Board Game: Advanced Civilization [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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To put is bluntly, the biggest reason that Civ is an Occasional game it that it takes 6 hours to play, more or less.

At the start, Civ is a game about growing your civilization and buying advancements that best help your civilization. As the game progresses it morphs into a game about dealing with catastrophes, managing trading cards, and buying advancements that will get you the most VP. I like the early part better than the later part (although it’s not bad). Unfortunately, as civilizations get larger, the game slows down. So my favorite part of the game is also the briefer part.
 
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6. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:185]
James Hemsley
Italy
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Every time the German Parliament calls an election, I think I need to break this puppy out! 5+ hours of gaming goodness!

--James
 
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