winning without winning
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Winning isn't everything. If it was, there'd be alot of broken hearts, since most games have it that there's only one winner in a multiplayer environment (we're talking about 3+ players). Despite losing (even horrendously), it's definitely still possible to have a great time. Sometimes, there are moments when you feel like you won without actually winning, and those certainly happen in particular games.
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1. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:267]
United States
SoCal
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Rolling the Queen (#17 advisor). Sure, the King (#18 advisor) is supposed to be "mightier", but many agree she's more practical. For me, thatactually makes her more of a status symbol than the King. If I can influence her just once in a 5p game, I feel like I've hit my high note and "won" regardless of how the game turns out. With the Market, I'd up that to influencing her twice.
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2. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:50]
United States
SoCal
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Rebel Homeworld, at a defense of 7 and worth 7pts is about as high as you can get for a single card. Sure, some of the 6-cost devs can score you up to twice that amount of points or more, but again, there's a certain status symbol that comes from being able to get the military to build such a monstrous card in the first place. If you build Rebel Homeworld through Contact Specialist + Colony Ship, that's like the royal flush of the game.
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3. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:282] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
United States
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El Monopoly.

Using Monopoly to force players to give you all of one resource is nice, but to get 13 ore, or any other resource at such a disguisting amount gives you that warm, evil feeling on the inside. Other players save for the most controlled will certainly be cursing you for doing that.

Typically, doing this really ups your chances of winning, although a reversal of fortune occurs by an opponent could undo that.
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4. Board Game: Apples to Apples [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:3206] [Average Rating:5.89 Unranked]
United States
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Getting a green card.

This one's personal. I'm so horrible at this game, a not-so-far-off analogy would be like pitting your average board gamer against a professional kickboxer or MMA fighter and give him a score based on how long he can hold his own in the ring. One green card truly is beating out the odds.
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5. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:507]
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Being "right" while being so very wrong.


Just priceless. All possible with the game's "Price Is Right" rules regarding which numerical answer is correct. In real life, I may be in trouble when my answer to one particular question is the year of 1844. In W&W however, this answer wins big when the correct answer was 1923 and all the other players put down 1924 cool
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6. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:229]
United States
SoCal
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I'd say this geeklist shouldn't be limited to good deeds. Bad deeds are certainly valid material. When you get a Chapel and bury the City Hall or Guild Hall that a purple strategy or production strategy player needed to win the game, that's warm, evil feeling. If you're in the thick of a 4p game, someone else may come in 1st, but knowing you crushed all hope for other players, without them even knowing it has gotta count for something.
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7. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
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What you can and can't do, as well as scores are all relative to what cards are available. For me, if I can gain 2 Provinces in a single turn through any means... 16 coins with + 2 buys, remodel Gold to Province + 8 coins, and whatever else I'm missing, I felt like I beat some relatively high odds. 2 Provinces in a single turn is by no means a guaranteed victory, as it may be too little too late in a game of catchup, but it always feels good to be able to get to that level.
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8. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
Billy McBoatface
United States
Lexington
Massachusetts
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Getting all 8 monuments in Ra

It's quite hard to get a full set of 8 different monuments in Ra. It's worth 15 points, which is a decent amount, but not enough to guarantee a win by any measure. In any case, whether I win or lose, I'm always excited to get that full set and mentally I count it as the next best thing to winning.
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9. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
Kurt
United States
Kirkland
Washington
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There are at least four non-winning win conditions with this one for me, mostly variations on each other. It might make me a gaming light weight but:
1. Your family didn't starve (resort to begging) despite playing poorly throughout. Currently, this is the only one on this list that I've managed to accomplish...
2. I had a strategy that I was actually able to accomplish with minimal to no compromise. This includes being able to play further out than my current turn for most of the game...
3. I didn't lose ANY points at the end.
4. My brain didn't feel completely fried after finishing a game.


The funny thing about this game is that while I've won a number of times, because of items 2-4 I haven't really felt like I've won yet!
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10. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:2544]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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I used to hate golf with a passion. The kind of hate that only dedicated golfers can muster. Then I decided to change the way I judged my games:

1. score lower on the back 9 than the front
2. hit one shot per hole I'm happy with
3. hit one shot per round that makes me feel like a pro

After that, I loved the game again, even though it's really hard to write "73yd chip shot to within 4 feet" in those little boxes.
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11. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:96] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Luke Morris
England
Faversham
Kent
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Setting yourself personal targets in games can be good if you realise that you can't win. In my first game of Railroad Tycoon I made the mistake of building in the south while everyone fought over the northern connections. Of course it's cheaper to build there with immediate reward while my cities were spread out over hundreds of miles.

So I just concentrated on building beautiful connections across the area and turning a profit - which I started to do.
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12. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Gun$ [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:888]
Murray C
Canada
Vancouver
British Colombia
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For me, it's all about the revenge. If someone actually fires a real bullet into me, you can be sure that they're either dead or won't be able to win at all. I don't even care about the money after that first metal slug hits
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13. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:269] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Murray C
Canada
Vancouver
British Colombia
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If I can get my fiancée to play a game of this with me, then I've already won. I usually pull a dive in order to not discourage her from future games (but don't let her know that)
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14. Board Game: War of the Ring (First Edition) [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:81]
Chris
United States
Marysville
Pennsylvania
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Though here at journey's end I lie in darkness buried deep, beyond all towers strong and high, beyond all mountains steep, above all shadows rides the Sun, and Stars forever dwell: I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell.
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Anytime I can get four military victory points as the freeples it's a moral victory. Most of the time those points are taken away by the end of the turn, or the shadow claims his ten points the same turn, but, I did have a hold of the victory condition at some point during the game, even if winning remained elusive.
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15. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:292]
Ryan Lennon
United States
Rochester
Minnesota
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Don't let it be forgot / That once there was a spot/ For one brief, shining moment / That was known as Camelot
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Getting the 8-card bonus. Eight cards in an expedition alone usually guarantees a good score, since at least one card is likely an investment card. But that 20-point bonus gives you the "I won even if I don't win" feeling. My wife almost never attempts this, while I attempt it far too often. (She has the winning record, FWIW.)
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16. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:620]
Ryan Lennon
United States
Rochester
Minnesota
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Being the last one still exploring in the round (often because you are already way behind in points and several hazards have been turned over) and seeing a 15 or 17 card turn over - all for you. Jackpot.
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17. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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This one goes both ways. In some games, the map is very empty, yet you lose because of 8 outbreaks. In others, the map is overflowing with cubes, but you cure all the diseases. Sometimes a win or a loss feel thematically hollow. The game is still awesome.
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18. Board Game: Mage Knight Dungeons [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:2631]
Kyle
United States
Up Nort' Der
Wisconsin
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We must move forward, not backward, upward, not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!
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Normally you win by finding the most treasure, but sometimes simply getting out of the dungeon alive can be just as good.
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19. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:864]
Donna Silverman
United States
Waltham
Massachusetts
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So recently, to kill time, I've started playing some free poker online. Specifically, I've been playing a lot of Badugi.

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, you are trying to make the best four-card low-hand (A-lowest). Cards don't count unless they are a different suit from other cards and not repeated. So a "Badugi" hand is a hand with all four suits and all different values. A 2 3 4 (all four suits) would be the best hand possible, though even a king-high badugi can win hands and anything under a 10-high is absolutely playable (especially since it's free poker).

The game has three draws so you have three chances to try and make a hand after your initial dealt cards.

I have found that if I make a 6-high or a 5-high early on and bet it as the best hand against people still trying to draw to make a hand, any hand, I still feel like a bit of a winner against someone who made a CRAZY-good hand on the LAST draw.

I don't mind losing when I play well and others get lucky. modest
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20. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:2544]
Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
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I often feel that I've won at sex, but according to my wife I am definitely a loser.
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21. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:182]
Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
VA
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Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
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This. Got to play this twice at Euroquest, teaching it both times. I won neither game, but I still felt like I had won! (Probably because the competition to play this game was so fierce, just getting to play it was a victory!)
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22. Board Game: American Megafauna [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2883]
Wulf Corbett
Scotland
Shotts
Lanarkshire
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I always add this game to lists like this - I really don't care who wins this game, I just love watching the story play out, and imagining the creatures we create living out their lives.
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23. Board Game: Le Havre [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:37]
Fortune
United Kingdom
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Standing on the Wharf and building all the ships to cover your food demand at the end of the turns pretty much wins the game, albeit there are some counter-strategies.
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24. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:118] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Fortune
United Kingdom
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Choose Allies.
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25. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:420] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
 
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Before a less experienced player adds this, I want to make it crystal clear that memorizing openings will NOT win you the game. There are various important opening principles, and if you follow them you can make a solid position on the board regardless of which opening you chose. Real action takes place in the middle game and is much-much more important than the opening. Opening is just the foreplay.
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