12 Ways to Screw Your Neighbor
Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
Maryland
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The inherent competition in game-playing offers many ways to make life miserable for your opponents. Games differ markedly in how directly they enable one to take the offensive. In some games, everyone is trying to maximize their own score, with less thought about the situations of their individual opponents. In others, naked aggression is a central element of the contest. In a 2-person game, there's almost always an element of direct assault, but in a multiplayer game, there are often times that you'll hit a neighbor and times that you won't. This list examines some of the ways that different games facilitate tactics that are obnoxious to your colleagues.
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1. Board Game: Who Stole Ed's Pants? [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:8691]
Chuck Uherske
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This game is pretty much premised on screwing your opponents quite directly, though leavened with a bit of humor and a common understanding that this is really the whole basis for the game. You plant evidence on your opponents so that they will be implicated in the theft of Ed's pants.
 
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2. Board Game: Landlord! [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:4234]
Chuck Uherske
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Landlord facilitates direct and damaging assaults on your opponents. Bomb their buildings, murder their tenants, or, fiendishly, build an extra floor on someone else's building and move some squatters in. The attacks can take a significant toll on your opponent's position, so you have to think carefully about who you are victimizing and why.
 
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3. Board Game: Venture [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2707]
Chuck Uherske
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Outcomes in Venture depend quite significantly on who is the target of proxy attacks. Be on the receiving end of too many of them, and you probably won't win. Like Landlord, this is another game where attacks are obvious, direct and exact a significant toll.
 
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4. Board Game: Tikal [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:217]
Chuck Uherske
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Tikal's method of screwing your neighbor is more opportunistic. Steal the temple that your neighbor has worked hard to build up. Most of Tikal's competition involves attempts to maximize your score with the effect of hurting your opponents -- trade for their treasures, cap a temple -- but there's a disproportionate impact (and I mean this in a good way!) -- on any opponent who has invested a lot of moves in one corner of the board, only for you to swoop in and take their valuable temples.
 
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5. Board Game: Wyatt Earp [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:817]
Chuck Uherske
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Not that I've played this game enough to know, but it seems as though aggression against your opponents is a key part of this game as well. You want the rounds to end when you've placed a "hideout" card on their valuable set, and when yours are free to score.
 
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6. Board Game: Mississippi Queen [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:1586]
Chuck Uherske
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OK, here's a game where screwing your neighbor involves a willful and obvious act of aggression. It's quite possible to get through this game with everyone just moving along as best they can, picking up belles as efficiently as possible. Only in some circumstances will you take the time to push one of your opponents off course. It usually costs you some efficiency to do it, so it's definitely an obvious act of war!
 
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7. Board Game: Pipeline [Average Rating:5.29 Overall Rank:13559]
Chuck Uherske
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This game depends in large part on players' ability to cooperate together to screw an opponent who is on the verge of completing his/her pipeline. You can play off of your opponents' pipelines as well as your own, but the right time to do it is usually only when it's necessary to mess up their position, because it comes at the cost of advancing yours. This is often a game where you try to avoid taking the offensive as much as you can; if someone else will do this for you, so much the better.
 
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8. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:207]
Chuck Uherske
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Often in Acquire, you don't intend to screw your neighbor, but if you cause a merger to take place that hurts them, it will definitely have a feeling to them of "Oh, that screws me" rather than the more innocuous "my neighbor just took the lead." As players get better at Acquire, they work at creating the conditions that will cause a merger to take place just as it hurts their opponents the most. The principal motivation is to get money and stock for yourself, but there's no doubt that the feeling at the table is that the people shut out of the merger just got nailed.
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9. Board Game: Through the Desert [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:435]
Chuck Uherske
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In this one, you screw your neighbor in little nibbles, it's very tastefully done. It's not like Landlord or Venture where a single play can seem to wreck your opponent's position. Typically, a person can't be hemmed in by one opponent alone, so if it's going to happen, a couple of opponents have to cooperate in confining you, which is not always likely if they have different immediate needs. In some cases, there's an obvious move to block you that has to be taken. But since everyone can only move two camels per turn, there's a limit to how much you can screw your opponents in one turn. It's drawn out, and more subtle.
 
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10. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:116]
Chuck Uherske
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Princes seems for the most part to be a game of individual planning rather than aggression. But oh, that exquisite moment in a later round when someone desperately needs something, and everyone, smilingly and without comment, starts bidding up the price. This unleashes yelps of, "Oh, no! You jerks!" This is some of the most satisfying "screw your neighbor" activity in gaming, all the better for being deferred and indirect.
 
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11. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:621]
Chuck Uherske
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Doesn't seem at first glance to be premised on screwing your neighbor, but picture this. You're in last place. One guy has already conquered the 4 and the 10 rows, and is a few spaces away on the 7 track. What are you going to do on your turn if you can't immediately win? Why, try to roll all 7s of course and take that column away from him! There are definitely aggressive moments in this game.
 
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12. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Chuck Uherske
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In the strategy tips I've seen on Carcassonne, there's more discussion of cooperation to get cities than to extend for the purpose of preventing their completion. But in a multi-player game, that's what I like to do best -- make sure that my opponents can't complete their cities. In a 5-player game where control of one's fate is minimal, people can definitely mess you up.
 
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