Once is Enough, Thank You Very Much
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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Have you ever played a game only once and known immediately that you'd never play it again? We all have, of course. Often they are poorly constructed, silly, or overly simple games. This list, however, is of well-known and popular games that I know my peers really enjoy but that just didn't make a good first impression on me. Games like these almost always have a luck element that, IMHO (some of my friends might dispute that my opinion is humble, but that's another story), severely distorts game balance.

I don't mind luck (really, I don't) per se. One of my favorite games of all time is Can't Stop. If luck is part of the game mechanic, or if the game is reasonably short, I'm willing to accept a higher luck factor. But long, purportedly "complex" or "strategic" games that come down more often than not to luck upset me greatly. I'll add a few here and you all can take over.
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1. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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I played this once, and I'm done. I realize (in hindsight) that I must have picked lousy numbers, but I don't like a game that is centered on this much randomness. I think I lost 10 to 2.
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2. Board Game: Wallenstein (first edition) [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:341]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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This picture tells the story for me. The tower is supposed to keep things sensibly random, but in my first (and only) game of Wallenstein the weaker players simply threw their two or three cubes into the tower against the leader's 8 or 10 and actually won, thereby completely disrupting the flow of the game. I don't want to spend two hours carefully planning, distributing armies, etc. only to lose a ridiculous battle when I'm significantly stronger than my opponent (and by the way, I was on the winning end of some mismatches also--there's no joy in a victory you didn't earn).
 
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3. Board Game: The Great Dalmuti [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1148]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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What a waste of time. Does this game involve *any* skill at all?
 
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4. Board Game: Attika [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:563]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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I will admit to playing this game twice (once with a very nice young man at WBC). I decided to try it again because other gamers had convinced me that luck really wasn't all that big a factor in Attika. I don't believe them. Any game that allows a player to place so many tiles simultaneously, as long as the tiles are the "right" ones, is bound to be unbalanced. Lucky draws will beat skillful/strategic play every time in this one.
 
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5. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:260]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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I wanted so badly to like this game. I love the bidding mechanic, the triangular-number economy, and even the tension of the tribute to the gods. But the bonus cards inject too much luck into the game. They force players to play to their cards rather than adopt meaningful strategies, and I can't enjoy a game that plays me rather than me playing it.
 
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6. Board Game: Victory: The Blocks of War [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:3801]
Crazy Bob
Philippines
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There's just no flavor in this game, it's so generic. It seems so random and abitrary. Take away one of those previous sentences & I might have tried it more than once. Are there any better variations on this game? The block bits *are* nice.
 
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7. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
Daniel Rocchi
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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I REALLY wanted to like this game. The high BGG rating, the ancient setting, the gorgeous artwork, the Knizia pedigree... and yet I found this so dry, so abstract (Yes, I've read all the journals that say "these pieces are farmers, these are warriors.." but it doesn't work.) The whole game was frustrating, and not in a good way; just not enjoyable.

I knew it was the last time when I went home and thought of ways I could improve my play, and then stopped myself, thinking "But I just don't care."
 
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8. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:133]
Tim K.
United States
Seattle
Washington
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I was told it was an easy game the first time I ever played it, and while that may be true about the basic mechanics, trying to discern the *minor* differences in all the various civilization tiles and such to determine if I had a set or not drove me absolutely nuts. The differences are terribly subtle and a game should have better graphics than this if you need to be able to tell the difference between tiles at a glance.

So while the basic play may be OK, the tile graphics completely ruined the game for me.

Unfortunately, my experience with the game has now caused me to have a general dislike for all bidding games. Ugh!
 
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9. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:500]
Neil Warrell
United Kingdom
Brighton
East Sussex
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Any game which relies on betrayal to make it work is fundementally wrong.
 
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10. Board Game: Runebound (First Edition) [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:2938]
Darryl Shpak
Canada
Winnipeg
Manitoba
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Played this in a games shop once at the behest of an enthusiastic friend. Pretty bits, fantasy theme, looked good.

An hour or so later, we were still going at it. Little player interaction, slow gameplay, the bits were starting to get knocked on the floor. I was totally underwhelmed. I've got Dungeoneer...I won't be getting this.
 
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11. Board Game: Age of Mythology: The Boardgame [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:2480]
Kevin
United States
Kalamazoo
Michigan
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Geez, this game was terrible for me. The combat system was crude and clunky. Having armies was fine, but really there was no reason to use them most of the time. Battle someone, lose, but weaken your opponent just enough to allow another player to clobber them and win a battle, then the rest of the game no one will do combat! I found myself just waiting for the game to end. Then I was silly enough a few weeks later to agree to play again! Same poor game, this time with one player making a HUGE army no one would fight against. I swore an oath never to play again! One good thing was that I did not buy it, but my poor friend who did got stuck with a loser...
 
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12. Board Game: Chrononauts [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:1944] [Average Rating:6.22 Unranked]
Fran F G
Spain
Barcelona
Barcelona
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Café Race is a race game set in a business office. The players take the role of office workers going upstairs to the first floor to get a cup of coffee who then improvise a race while they are going back downstairs… with a cup full of coffee.
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Someone you trust is one of us. Fnord. - Ich bin ein Spielfreak, aber ich spiele sehr selten
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Maybe a game has too much luck, maybe has a mistake that make the first player ever win, maybe... but Chrononauts is annoying to play.
 
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13. Board Game: Munchkin [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:3343] [Average Rating:5.94 Unranked]
 
Bryan Johnson
United States
Salem
Massachusetts
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God, I hate this game. I watched others play it several times before I actually played it. My view did not change after playing it. My advice; avoid any game that has "Munchkin" in its title.
 
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14. Board Game: Fluxx [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:6614] [Average Rating:5.69 Unranked]
Tim K.
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Played this once and was not at all amused by the completely random nature of it. Might be fun for kids but not for me. Given the choice between playing this game again and a sharp stick in the eye, I will choose the latter.
 
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15. Board Game: War of the Ring (First Edition) [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:82]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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This was a very rare occurence for me - we didn't even make it through a full game of this. Painfully slow. Tediously annoying to try to figure where the heck the regions mentioned on your cards are (not only is it a huge board with tons of named regions, but your armies are usually covering it up). Annoyingly complicated cards that barely impact the game. Several different races - Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, humans, and they are all exactly the same. I have no idea why this game is so highly rated.
 
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