Once More to the Analyst's Couch: Turning My Personality Profile Into a Wishlist
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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Look, it's your own fault. You have given me such excellent advice on past game selections that I'm practically compelled to come to you again. I'm grateful that the BGGers have not only shared their ample knowledge of boardgames with me, but have absorbed my own game-preference-profile with acuity and understanding.

As before, the idea behind this list is to provide some data about my current game preferences, a la filling out a form for a career aptitude test. Based on this, I'm hoping that knowledgeable BGGers will be willing to advise me as to which of the games I'm investigating would fit the bill, or whether I should turn in another direction entirely.

I'll list:
5 games I love, and why I love them.
5 games I like less than their reputation here, and the reasons for this.
10 games I think I might like based on my preference patterns to date.

One key point: with me, there are no hard and fast rules. No genres ruled in, no genres ruled out. There are games I like that "break" my preference rules.

Things I like:

Streamlined rulesets: my ideal game has rules that can be written on 1-2 pages, with the depth coming from the strategic and tactical considerations, not from memorizing a zillion rules, details or special powers.

Shorter games -- playable in 2 hours or less.

Elegance: Hard to define, but for me a game is set apart when there is something novel and elegant about an element. Examples: the zero-sum auctions in Traumfabrik, the bribery mechanism in Santiago, or the scoring system in Venture.

Deduction -- I like a role for deduction.

Some memory is good -- I don't deliberately seek out memory games, but I'm an inveterate card-counter.

Auctions -- I find I really have taken to auction mechanisms. I like the way that they can even out the scales of luck, by forcing people to take a stand on how much something is worth, rather than simply getting a commodity by random assignment.

Indirect conflict -- I like it when conflict is expressed indirectly (auction mechanisms are one way to do that) rather than by direct assault. For example, I often find that I like games that are criticized as "multi-player solitaire" because often I don't find them so. I like conflict that makes my opponents' decisions uncomfortable in a general sense rather than just "screwing the guy who moves after me."

Calculation -- I like games that make me calculate, more than visualize in space. A little of each is fine, but I especially like it when a few numbers are churning in my head.

Things I don't like:

-- Too much luck.

-- Games that induce or allow players to attack one person too preferentially and with too much damage, whether the leader or not. I don't like games where I feel I'm playing against coalitions -- though I don't mind games that facilitate cooperation in closely-structured ways (Santiago.)

-- Runaway leader problems

-- Kingmaker incentives

-- Games that are too long or slow (more than two hours, or with a "dragging" feel)

-- Too much complexity, too many things to keep track of or memorize in the rules or powers. I don't mind keeping track of the play itself but remembering the rules and powers shouldn't be a challenge.

-- I'm not really fond of things that are too abstract or purely spatial, though I don't mind an element of that. For example, I love Acquire's blend of spatial and calculation elements.

-- I must admit that I'm a bit saturated with "area control" games. I've got enough games that turn on whether I have the most pieces in a region.

-- I must also admit that I sometimes grow bored of games that just involve accumulating meaningless "victory points." I tend to like games with an objective that I can hang on to, like making the most money, finding the missing object, or building the most lucrative rail empire. But just compiling the most arbitrarily-valued points is sometimes less than satisfying.

That being said, here are the examples -- and the contenders! I've drawn the latter from a combination of past advice received, independent investigations, and general BGG comments.

Thanks in advance for any help you wish to give. Please feel free to suggest other obvious candidates that I missed! That has very much helped me in the past.
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1. Board Game: Dream Factory [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:575]
Chuck Uherske
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Loving Traumfabrik as much as I do is something of a revelation to me. Let me try to put into words what I love about it.

-- Well, I do love the numbers. I love the way the zero-sum mechanism shifts (over time) the comparative bidding strength of the various players, and I love the longer-term planning that is possible from seeing upcoming lots. I really can hardly overstate that, I love the math of it all; yet it's not fully deterministic, it's mixed in with things you can't exactly know.
-- I love the fact that the rules are simple, but the way each distinct game unfolds is by laying out the different "landscape" the players move over during each game.
-- I love the feeling that I'm basically captain of my own destiny. Feels good during the game and afterward.
-- I also very much like the fact that the theme is well-integrated with the mechanism, but this is really just a bonus for me.
-- Even though careful calculation is usually needed to win, those who aren't concentrating so hard still can have fun without detracting from anyone else's experience.
 
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2. Board Game: Sleuth [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:943]
Chuck Uherske
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Love the deduction element in this game. Love how luck is used to vary the experience rather than to crown the winner. Love that every player feels involved in the game to the end. Love the simple rules and deep thought.
 
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3. Board Game: Venture [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2707]
Chuck Uherske
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An example of a game where I just find the basic calculating problem fascinating, and do not therefore mind the fairly abstract nature of it. Again, simple rules, but very deep calculation.
 
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4. Board Game: Santiago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:523]
Chuck Uherske
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I like the easy-to-understand rules, combined with the elegant mechanisms. I love the bribery feature, how players exert their influence not by arm-twisting, but by constrained offers. I like the fact that calculation is a mix of direct calculation, probability, and psychology. This game is just spatial enough to interest me without befuddling me. It's also usually very close, with careful calculation and psychology both needed to barely win out.

And, as an extra note -- I love the fact that I learned of this game on a past list such as this one, and the recommendation was absolutely perfect for my tastes.
 
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5. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
Chuck Uherske
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Hesitant to put this here because this is lighter than most of the games I would like to consider. But worth mentioning because again, the rules are simple but the play is interesting. I also enjoy the math elements of it, the way the numbers dance around in one's head, the way probability comes into play, with a splash of memory also. A nice mix of mental challenges for me.
 
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6. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Chuck Uherske
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Now the games I don't like. This has a lot that I don't like all at once. Too much luck. Huge kingmaker factor here also. You are at the mercy of the tiles you draw, also the way that others can choose to help certain opponents over others. Game seems to facilitate ganging up, but with no structure to it, just annoyance and frustration. Also, spatial, not really my thing.
 
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7. Board Game: Wyatt Earp [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:817]
Chuck Uherske
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Luck. Direct screwage factors ("hideout" cards, "most wanted" cards.) A lot of special powers cards to keep track of. The "bullet hole" mechanism is really arbitrary but can tip the game. Ick.
 
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8. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:15]
Chuck Uherske
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Hate to be a PR-basher, but represents several things I don't like: A lot of bits, a lot of rules. A lot of "special powers" in having to get to know what a zillion buildings do and what they're worth in different situations. Arbitrary accumulation of "victory points," doesn't seem to add up to any coherence.
 
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9. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Chuck Uherske
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A lack of interesting decisions after the opening setup. Dice rolls represent both luck and "screw your opponent" factor too directly for my taste. Often wish I had something more interesting to think about during the game. Seems to pretend there's a lot going on in play, but it's all an illusion: you can usually predict the winner not long after play begins, and the action itself (mindless trading) is repetitive and dull.
 
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10. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:621]
Chuck Uherske
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Figured I'd choose a Sackson game as an example of a game I don't like as well as some others do. Rolling dice can be frustrating. You can play the odds, but you're still quite helpless. You get the rolls you want or you don't, and having a game entirely based on that can be hard on my good nature.
 
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11. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:227]
Chuck Uherske
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OK, now to the "games I think I might like."

Modern Art seems to have everything -- a great reputation, reasonably intuitive rules, a clear theme-mechanic link, and lots of auctions. Plus it's an RK design, which is beginning to count for more with me. Any reason I won't love this? (By the way, I won't list Ra here because I've played it on BSW and enjoyed it, but sometimes I do struggle with which one I would enjoy more face to face.)
 
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12. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:306]
Chuck Uherske
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This one is starting to provoke serious interest based on the way it's described. It reportedly has bidding and strategic and psychological elements, but is considered very mysterious. It intrigues me but I can't be certain it would mesh with my instinctive preferences.
 
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13. Board Game: Show Manager [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1033]
Chuck Uherske
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The highest rated game of my geekbuddies. It does seem like a clever little game of drafting and tactics, with a well-matched theme. My early impressions of Timbuktu, the only other Henn game I've played, are positive.
 
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14. Board Game: Medici [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:442]
Chuck Uherske
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This one is described as elegant and stripped down, which has made me wonder if it imitates the Sid Sackson games that I love most. I could see myself liking this either less or more than Modern Art, not having played either, hence my indecision.
 
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15. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:28]
Chuck Uherske
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This one could either be The Big Find or The Great Disappointment. There's a certain Empire Builder mentality in a couple of members of our group, a longing for the old games where the theme mimicked the experience of building a great commercial empire. I like the planning, the role-play, if you will. But I don't like the runaway leader problems, or having demoralized players (or worse, being demoralized myself.) Can this game suit the appetite for such games while preserving the virtues of recent German designs?
 
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16. Board Game: Daytona 500 [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:1334]
Chuck Uherske
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I also have a weakness for games that remind me of how much fun I had playing games as a kid. This sports-themed game seems to offer fun tactical challenges while possibly kindling that spirit. On the possible downside, the race games I own (MQ, Cartagena) are not among my favorites.
 
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17. Board Game: Metropolis [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:3854]
Chuck Uherske
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I am a sucker for Sid Sackson games, and this seems to me to be the best one I don't own. Is it?
 
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18. Board Game: High Society [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:860]
Chuck Uherske
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I guess I'm just determined to list all of the RK-designed auction games. But you can see why this one might appeal to me -- seems to have a lighter set of rules, with some potentially devilish twists. I can't decide whether to go for this one or for Dorra's For Sale, as they seem similar in some respects. Does this lighter Knizia stack up well against the more boardgame-ish RK auction titles? Something tells me that my interest in both LC and Traumfabrik might make me susceptible to this one. (Also, would my gal like it?)
 
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19. Board Game: MarraCash [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1719]
Chuck Uherske
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Recommended to me when I last made a list like this. Seems to have many elements I like. It does have auction elements and some spatial ones and seems even to have cooperative potential -- is there any risk of it overlapping with something like Santiago, already in my collection? Or is it a very distinct game?
 
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20. Board Game: Pizarro & Co. [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1793]
Chuck Uherske
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Another recommendation received on my last similar list. I don't normally go for "special powers" games but it seems like this might be an interesting way to disguise the values of what is being auctioned.
 
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