Games That Baffle Me
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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Let's get this out of the way-I've been tested. I'm supposed to be somewhere in the top 2% of IQs in the country (that and $5.00 gets you coffee at Starbucks). Supposedly I'm not horrendously stupid. Yet there are some games that baffle me. Now, I don't mind a game where there's a learning curve and sometimes the discovery of new strategies is part of the fun. But these are games where there's a learning plateau - I get the hang of the game, but I'm still terrible and have no idea how to improve. A lot of these have strategy articles online, but most are written as if a PhD is at stake. I just need rules of thumb to guide me to competence, not mathematical treatises that look like the proof for Dark Matter. So here are the games at which I have no idea how to improve. .
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1. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:45]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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I think my problem here is that in order to do any one thing, you have to have to do several steps (obtain certain materials, for instance) and any one of these steps can be wrecked by another player taking your spot. If this happens toward the end of the round, it can be very tough to switch up your plan and do anything useful once your original plan has been wrecked. At least for me. And on the rare occasions when my plan comes together, I'm always one gold short and can't afford that last worker anyway.
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2. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:583]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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We only had one play of this (and with only three players) and we managed to break the economy and had to quit before the end of the game despite the fact that I had read it could happen and had warned the other players against too many loans and being shy about buying from each other. Looking forward to trying again with 5, maybe it'll encourage spreading the wealth.
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3. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:192]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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I really enjoy this game, and I have read some strategy articles for it which helped. A little. But I still haven't managed a win. This one still seems attainable though. I think our group needs to get away from MUST KILL ALL GHOSTS and utilize the special powers of the villagers more.
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4. Board Game: In the Shadow of the Emperor [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:838]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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Had my second play ever of this last night and I have to admit I did improve. However, this game has you keeping a LOT of balls in the air at once and even with a small board, it's a little hard to see all the threats against you and the best way to guard against them. It's so tough deciding what's best for the short term, it keeps you from thinking about the longterm ramifications of your actions.
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5. Board Game: In the Year of the Dragon [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:220]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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I've posted this one before, but the theme is very hard for me to get past. It's a game about surviving disasters but you don't win by avoiding the disasters. The brief advice I got before was "Buy Dragon Scrolls!" but if that's all there is to it, it's not much of a game. The winner of the last game was hit by almost every disaster. So what is the point of having them? I enjoy the game, but there is a severe mental disconnect for me.
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6. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:16]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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Ok, I know a lot of rules of thumb for this: don't plant what the player on your right has...do plant what the player on your left has...don't take actions that help others more than they help you. It doesn't help-the best I've done is 2nd place against the Excel spreadsheet, which everyone in the world can beat. Luckily, none of my friends are Puerto-Rico fanatics that have all the opening moves memorized, etc. It does sort of feel like there is a lack of options in this game but I've heard the expansion helps.
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7. Board Game: Reef Encounter [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:490]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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I can see what I need to do. I need to collect certain color tiles and lock their values in place. But which tiles and when to lock them? I always seem to end up locking the wrong ones or helping another player and I don't have a good handle on "Next time I play, I need to...".
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8. Board Game: Mr. Jack [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:417]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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I almost didn't add this one since it sounds like many people have had trouble winning as Jack. I always see what I SHOULD have done, moments after I muffed it. So, again, maybe more plays are the remedy.
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9. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:361]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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I almost forgot to add Chicago Express! This one doesn't have the frustration levels of the other games, mainly because no one else seems to have it figured out either. But I do feel like I know all the rules and HOW to play just fine, but have no idea what separates good play from bad, like someone who understands that you strike the keys of a piano to get sound from it but doesn't understand music.
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10. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:238] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Bonaparte
United States
DesMoines
Washington
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Love the theme, love the components.

Rules are a bear, can't seem to get to a point of play balance without resorting to systemic gimics. By this I mean having one person shop, one person get money, one close gates, etc. For me and my group, this is not very enjoyable, so we get crushed most of the time.
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