The Worlds Best Rulebook
A. B. West
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You're a gamer, right? And one thing about being a gamer is figuring out how to play the game. Maybe you're the one that gets the privilege. Maybe you are that game explainer - the one that everyone turns to when a new game is placed on the table.

So you have an opinion I'm sure. And here's what I need to know: What is the very best rulebook you've ever seen? Think about several qualities. Of course it's about learning how to play - that's probably the most important quality. But also think about how easy it was to figure that out. And how nice it was to look at. And later, you had a question maybe - how easy was it to find that? Don't think just about easy games - what about that game that's a bit more complicated?

Of all the games you've played or taught others to play: which is the best rulebook in the world?
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1. Board Game: Bombay [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2117]
A. B. West
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Beech Grove
Indiana
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Say what you like about Ystari games, I think they have good rulebooks in general. Bombay is typical for them - it flows well and goes through things in good order. Pretty too.
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2. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
A. B. West
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Days of Wonder - great parts, great rulebooks. It has the big spread at the start that shows the board and where everything goes. I kinda like that. Orients you well. This isn't a difficult game to play - and the rulebook makes it pretty easy too. Memoir '44 - a game that I love has a rule book that is not so great, however. It rambles along and uses too much space to get to the point.
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3. Board Game Publisher: Rio Grande Games
A. B. West
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I love Jay. Don't get me wrong. But some of the rulebooks - yeow. Really difficult to get through and figure things out. I'm one who doesn't like the casual paragraphs of text which is quite common in games. When I first tried to learn Puerto Rico from the rules, it was a terrible experience. Sure, that's a difficult game to learn cold - but even so, the rulebook did not help. On the upside, it definitely cover every contingency.
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4. Board Game: Jamaica [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:403]
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Here's an example of a rulebook that is just unwieldy. It tries to be cute and stylish using a huge foldout poster with arrows pointing here and there. But in the end, it just got in the way of what turned out to be a very simple and enjoyable game.
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5. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:129]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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I expect to be shouted down here, but I really like the Galaxy Trucker rulebook. It is entertaining without the entertainment value getting in the way of the rules (in my opinion anyway). It also is structured to be a teaching manual rather than a reference manual, and in a game like this where the rules are fairly simple I think that works really well.
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6. Board Game: Fluxx [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:6663]
Jae
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Bryan
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It doesn't get any simpler than that.
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7. Board Game: Jambo [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:496] [Average Rating:7.04 Unranked]
Dice bags!
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Wurtsboro
NY
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One of my favorites.
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8. Board Game: 1960: The Making of the President [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:157]
Marc Frank
United States
Portsmouth
New Hampshire
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The 1960 rulebook is super-clear, well-illustrated and filled with examples. Every question I've had about gameplay has been answered, and that answer was easy to find. It only took one reading to understand how to play.

In many ways I like Twilight Struggle's rulebook better, for the extended play example and the terrific designer's notes, but it's sometimes hard to find what I'm looking for.
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9. Board Game: Circus Imperium [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:3896]
Rich S
United States
Phoenix
Arizona
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This has got to be one of the funniest rulebooks ever written. One of the many humorous lines:

"A trampled driver cannot perform any other action for the rest of the turn, except to bleed in the sand."
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10. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:205] [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked]
Dan Owsen
United States
Redmond
Washington
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Our cherished tome and bible of gaming.
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11. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:103]
Andy Foulke
United States
Bethel Park
PA
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I'm not going to tout GMT rulebooks in general (though I'm a fanboy of the publisher), but this deserves its place on the list. Easy to read, well referenced, few if any errata, and color!
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12. Board Game: Blood Royale [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2898]
WAN CHIU
United States
Arcadia
California
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Very well written. Engaging and yet clear and concise.
 
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13. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Crazy Bob
Philippines
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I've never had some weird card interaction come up that wasn't specifically addressed in the rules! I am impressed.
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14. Board Game: Bonaparte at Marengo [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:1185]
Brad Miller
United States
Seattle
Washington
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This, and Napoleon's Triumph have about the best rulebooks I can think of. Very concise and very precise. I put BaM here, as despite a great rulebook, NT is so much more opaque to me in terms of how the game actually plays, I have to put it down a small peg.
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15. Board Game: Tikal [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:218]
Steve
United Kingdom
Milford Haven
Pembrokeshire
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On the surface this game looks very complex with iconographic summary cards and 10 actions per turn, but the rulebook is so clear that we didn't refer back to them once during our first game and didn't need to look at them at all for our second game - unprecedented in our house!
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16. Board Game Publisher: alea
Mik Svellov
Denmark
Copenhagen N
EU
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Ravensburger game manager, Stefan Brück, is only rules-writer to have won
the Essen Golden Feather Award for best written rules 3 times:

Taj Mahal 2000
Puerto Rico 2002
Fifth Avenue 2004
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17. Board Game Publisher: Z-Man Games
Marco Marandola
Canada
Mirabel
Quebec
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Z-Man Games have very nice and easy rule book most of their games also have a side bar with all the important information in it, just to name a few

Wasabi
Lifeboats
Pandemic
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18. Board Game: Elfenland [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:798]
June Hwang Wah
Singapore
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Full colour rulebook. In 1998. My very first German game, to boot!
 
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19. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:168]
David Brown
United Kingdom
Stockport
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For a complex game, with a massive scope this was a fine rule book. I must also mention GMT's A Burning Blue (TBB) - I choose Here I Stand over TBB to nominate as TBB was too complex for me but the rule book was excellent
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20. Board Game: A Victory Lost [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:953]
Jon
Canada
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One of the best that I have ever seen.
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21. Board Game: Combat Commander: Pacific [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:439]
Erik Nicely
United States
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This is without a doubt the most well-written rulebook I've ever read. What you have is a tactical wargame with a good amount of depth and a whole lot of things that could go wrong along the way if the rules were vague or incomplete. Not the case at all with CC. Clear, concise, with very adequate referencing of associated rules within specific rule entries. CC:E was good, I think this one is a little better.
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22. Board Game: Totaler Krieg! [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:2436]
oystein eker
Norway
Unspecified
sola
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It is a complex game -

and you have to look up rules all the time during play. -But it is well organized and explained. You find what you are looking for in short time.

 
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Tim Stellmach
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
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Just so you don't have to search for it: all of the prior winners of the Essen Feather.
 
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24. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:53]
Richard Morris
Scotland
Harrogate
North Yorkshire
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Can't understand why this is not already on the list. Lauded on the forum for the clarity and common sense of the rules. Those rules are by Chad Jensen so we may have a theme here: his Combat commander games having been lauded above.
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Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
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The Gamers are damned good at putting together rules,
but the current release of the OCS is just about perfect.

Minimal repetition
Near-complete cross referencing and indexing (with suitable numbering)
well laid out and explained
no distractions (colors, examples subdued, ect)
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