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Subject: Stress free sandbox/engine-building? rss

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Ike
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Hey there!

I think this might be my third or fourth thread of trying to narrow down the right game for the wife. cool Christmas is coming and I'm looking for the perfect gift.

Now that we have lots more gaming under our belts I'm getting a better and better idea of what she likes.

Engine building w/ synergies
Likes Suburbia for this. Castles of Burgundy as well. Also Sentinels of the Multiverse, surprisingly, for the characters that get better as you equip more and more of them. Same thing goes for building up techs in Kemet, which she loves. To an extent, the chaos in Glory to Rome also worked here.

Tile-laying/Seeing something built
See Suburbia, Castles of Burgundy, even Galaxy Trucker (but hates that things get blown up). As shallow as Carcassonne South Seas is she still loves to play it because she likes fitting things together and seeing the board at the end. Keyflower would be perfect if the village fit together a little bit nicer at the end in terms of artwork (aesthetics can be a big deal).

Really enjoys having her own little tableau to work on.

Long-term planning
Especially with clear goals. See Lords of Waterdeep's quests and Ticket to Ride's route cards.

No screwage
I'm always surprised at how sensitive this topic can be for her. Multiplayer solitaire ahoy.

Slightly constrained sandbox
May be a bit contradictory to the "clear goals" thing, but this is also why Castles of Burgundy worked better than Caverna. There were a few options, but not so many that were overwhelming, like Caverna is with all the rooms laid out on the table. She liked Caverna for all the different elements of having the options to do what you want and you weren't forced to specialize, and liked the little parts that you were building up, like your cave and your garden, etc., but it was all a bit much.

Enough Time
I don't mind this, but this continues to frustrate her. I find it exciting when I end a game and there's just not quite enough time to do everything that I want, whereas she really loathes this. I think Caverna/Agricola would be perfect in how much freedom and options you have if it didn't end so quickly (or at least it feels like it ends right when things are getting going), and Agricola wasn't so stressful in terms of feeding. One of the worst things for her is if someone can trigger the end game before she's completely done...whistle

So! Lots of requirements from her side. Does anyone have any idea at all if something might fit?

Thanks a million BGGers!
 
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If you could find a copy for a good price, I think Roads & Boats could be a good game for you.

Roads and Boats is great as a low-conflict couples game? Who knew! (Thankfully, JohnRayJr did.)

We play on our own sides, we don't take each other's resources, so it's really about building up and developing our worlds. We even play on 3p maps sometimes, to give more space and options.
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Michael F
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The one game I see that's an obvious omission is Race for the Galaxy. It's best at 2-player, it's pretty much multiplayer solitaire, it's nothing but engine-building, and it feels kind of like a sandbox since you're going through a big stack of cards to find what you want. The one thing that might be a downside is that the game can end when a player has their 12th card in their tableau, but you might also go the route of just trying to generate victory points with less cards instead. I never feel like it's something that "creeps up on you," but it's something to be aware of.
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Michael Hyland

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Legacy Testament of the Duke de Crecy.

You are building a family tree. My wife enjoys this one a lot and it's had quite a bit of appeal for those who have played it with us at conventions. She also like Castles of Burg a lot too.

You at least know when the game ends. The only games I know where you can do everything you could possibly want are just too long. Are you sure that's what you want? We don't like games that go longer than 2 hours max. Roads and boats is 240+ mins.
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With 2p, we played R&B in 3 hours (180 mins) while we we learning it, and if it's set up and/or organized to be easily set up (Plano boxes) it gets closer to 2 hours (120 mins).
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Bastian Melsheimer
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Macrawn wrote:
Legacy Testament of the Duke de Crecy.


I agree with Macrawn. Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy is definitely a game you should try.

Everyone works on their own family tree, you build quite a large tableau with the family members, and it is very thematic and I quite like the artwork and humour as well.
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Ollie Hunt
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Shipyard

Ticks every box for me!

Engine with synergies? To an extent. You'll need to choose between various resources which can include employees who give better efficiencies if you manage your strategy right.

Tile laying/something built? Absolutely! At the end of the game, I could have a load of little speedy ships, you could have a couple of massive ones and someone else can have some with guns and cranes and stuff.

Long term planning? You get some secret contracts at the beginning and ditch some part way through. You build your ships trying to balance short term goals (how good each ship is) against fulfilling the contracts for big points.

No screwage? None other than taking the rondel option that someone else might want but you can't keep them out forever.

Slightly constrained? Loads of options but there are plenty you can immediately rule out so it narrows it down.

Enough time? You can see the end in sight and it's a rush to get a ship done in time which can get tense!

I would recommend Rahdo's runthrough. It looks daunting with all the stuff but the theme works well to guide you through the options.
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Daniel West
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Imperial Settlers There are a few small ways players can mess with each other, but you can agree not to bother with them very easily. Besides that I believe it ticks off all of the boxes you are looking for.
 
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Joel Oakley
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I am going to recommend 2 Uwe Rosenberg games:

Glass Road

Engine building w/ synergies
Uwe is the king of engine building games in my opinion, and he doesn't stray from his high caliber games here. Some of the buildings are very simple with very little synergy, but a lot of them work great in combination with other buildings.

Tile-laying/Seeing something built
Your landscape is visibly changed as you cut down forests, plant groves, dig sand pits, create ponds, build buildings, etc.

Long-term planning
Long-term planning is very possible here, especially if you snag one of the big victory point buildings early to give yourself a clear goal.

No screwage
The card play does have a VERY slight screwage effect sometimes (if someone else chooses the same card as you, its effect is lessened). For the most part though, I think no one would find it offensive whatsoever.

Slightly constrained sandbox
The building options are there (12 or 15 per round depending on player count) but not overwhelming. With 15 cards to choose from each round, there is also a nice variety of options to consider while not being too free form.

Enough Time
No feeding your people here, but having enough time may be an issue since the game just lasts 4 rounds. Many people have decided to extend the game one extra round, which should give plenty of time to accomplish your goals.

I think Glass Road could be the ticket for you, but you should also consider Fields of Arle. I have not played it, but it should meet all of your criteria with the possible exception of being a bit overwhelming (though I suspect less so than Caverna). I would recommend the review here for a wonderfully written opinion of the game.
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Steffan O'Sullivan
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I'm going to totally echo the recommendation for Roads & Boats.

However, I'm going to add the one house rule we use: wonder bricks in player colors do give VPs, but do NOT contribute to the clock. Instead, pick a number of white wonder bricks (at least 27, but we usually use all of them unless pressed for time) and add one per turn. That's the only clock.

This way, you avoid that thing she hates about someone ending the game before she's ready. Otherwise, this game is practically made specifically for your wife given everything you wrote!
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That's a good idea, Steffan. You have a set number of rounds in which to execute your plans.
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Jordan Booth
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With all the talk of Suburbia I'm surprised no one has mentioned Castles of Mad King Ludwig yet, it seems to fit perfectly:

Engine building w/ synergies
I wouldn't exactly call it an engine, but there are definitely synergies to maximize points for adjacent rooms. I guess the room completion bonuses could keep the momentum going and feel enginey.

Tile-laying/Seeing something built
That's the game in a nutshell, build a castle. Lots of photos on the listing page of people showing off their finished floorplans.

Long-term planning
There are public group goals and private individual goals.

No screwage
The only opportunity to mess with other players is the setting of prices, so as long as you don't intentionally set a room you know she wants just out of her reach you shouldn't have to sleep on the couch.

Slightly constrained sandbox
There are at least 5 rooms for sale each turn and you can always take stairs or hallways, so enough choice, but not everything at once.

Enough Time
This is the only point where this recommendation isn't a total slam dunk, because there are so many goals to work toward and you don't want to just hand your opponent a bunch of easy points I've sometimes felt there weren't enough turns to get the massive points I was planning, but then I realize it was because I didn't focus on my plan and only took two or three turns developing it before becoming distracted. You could also pretty easily fix it by adding more cards to the room deck and playing a little longer. For instance you could play a two player game with enough tiles and cards for a 3 or 4 player game.
 
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C Bazler
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+1 Glass Road
+1 Roads & Boats (good pick, Indigo! I had never thought about it, but it's perfect, and not nearly as complicated as people pretend)

How about At the Gates of Loyang? There's no tile placement, but it's almost totally MP solitaire, with only one or two cards that have any interaction at all (and mild interaction at that). You have your own fields, which produce only for you, and you plan out your own game with the clients you choose. It's also fantastic with two-players.

Hawaii is another great two-player, non-confrontational Euro with tiles and personal boards. I don't know if I'd call it a "sandbox," but it does provide for different strategies. And, despite Tom Vasel throwing it in the garbage (which I never understood), it's a good game. Very reminiscent of Castles of Burgundy.

I also think Terra Mystica might work for you. It's not nearly as constraining or competitive with two players, and really allows players a lot of options for what to do. Again, not quite a "sandbox," especially because you have to play to your race's powers, but it is a very different experience each time you play.

Impossible to find right now, but she'd also probably like La Granja. Keep an eye out for a reprint next year.
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Ike
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Thanks a lot everyone!

Roads and Boats, Legacy, and Glass Road are probably at the top of the list. The only thing with R&B is its price which puts me off from already giving it a go.

Legacy also looks awesome, and probably would be my pick just based on theme, but the amount of table space needed is crazy!

Shipyard was also one that looks really cool, but as you said it's a bit daunting and I'm not sure if the theme is relevant enough for the wife to pull her through it.

Will dig more into Glass Road to see if it's right for us.
 
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Ike
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Hey everyone - specifically those that recommended Glass Road! Just thought I'd chime back in since we just picked it up and had our first session tonight.

I think the number of rounds bit us a bit more than expected, but hopefully once we have a better grasp of it this'll smooth out.

Going off of Joakley's quote.

Engine building w/ synergies
Uwe is the king of engine building games in my opinion, and he doesn't stray from his high caliber games here. Some of the buildings are very simple with very little synergy, but a lot of them work great in combination with other buildings.


Look forward to playing again to see if this is more the case, but initial play yielded a couple of combos but again, due to only 4 rounds (we didn't play with 5 because we wanted to see how the intended design felt) it felt like there wasn't too much time to really flex this. Is the key here the Processing buildings?

Tile-laying/Seeing something built
Your landscape is visibly changed as you cut down forests, plant groves, dig sand pits, create ponds, build buildings, etc.


This seemed to work out with her, though did not come across fully satisfying or an integral part.

Long-term planning
Long-term planning is very possible here, especially if you snag one of the big victory point buildings early to give yourself a clear goal.


I think this was a bit tricky. It was hard with the tiles that were out to really decide on the best strategy (not as overwhelming as Caverna, but processing the buildings out in play still took some time), and I already spotted a couple of cases where we could have easily gone the same route (and indadvertedly messed with her plans). I think this is yet another case where additional play can help.

No screwage
The card play does have a VERY slight screwage effect sometimes (if someone else chooses the same card as you, its effect is lessened). For the most part though, I think no one would find it offensive whatsoever.


I thought it wouldn't be too bad, but there were a couple of times where she was quite frustrated as she wanted to do both actions. :/ Also with the 2 player rules there was some frustration when I played all my cards before she got a chance to.

Slightly constrained sandbox
The building options are there (12 or 15 per round depending on player count) but not overwhelming. With 15 cards to choose from each round, there is also a nice variety of options to consider while not being too free form.

See above. Unfortunately she still found this a bit overwhelming. 15 cards, trying to figure out what buildings to go for, trying to figure out what I might or might not play, etc. led to a lot of downtime.

Enough Time
No feeding your people here, but having enough time may be an issue since the game just lasts 4 rounds. Many people have decided to extend the game one extra round, which should give plenty of time to accomplish your goals.


As above.

Anyway, I think it came off a bit more negative than I wanted to. She still enjoyed the game, and I really enjoyed the production wheels. What a clever way to juggle resource management and really glad to be rid of the fiddliness involved with picking up lots of resources.

She's up for more games of it, but it's still not quite what she's aiming for, however really grateful that you took the time to recommend it! Hopefully we can check out some of the other recommendations in the thread soon!
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William Roop
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Fresco and Trajan are good games with interesting mechanics. The good thing is, they aren't "screw the other player" games as much as they are "use the most efficient choices" games, but they each have tiny ways to screw with each other.
 
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Joel Oakley
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Ikehouserock wrote:
Hey everyone - specifically those that recommended Glass Road! Just thought I'd chime back in since we just picked it up and had our first session tonight.

I think the number of rounds bit us a bit more than expected, but hopefully once we have a better grasp of it this'll smooth out.

Going off of Joakley's quote.

Engine building w/ synergies
Uwe is the king of engine building games in my opinion, and he doesn't stray from his high caliber games here. Some of the buildings are very simple with very little synergy, but a lot of them work great in combination with other buildings.


Look forward to playing again to see if this is more the case, but initial play yielded a couple of combos but again, due to only 4 rounds (we didn't play with 5 because we wanted to see how the intended design felt) it felt like there wasn't too much time to really flex this. Is the key here the Processing buildings?


Absolutely the key is the processing buildings. It is really easy to think they are not that important, but if you build 2 or 3 of them that work together, it can really be fun! I haven't personally tried out the 5 round game, but I hope to soon so that I can enjoy the escalation a bit more.

Ikehouserock wrote:
Tile-laying/Seeing something built
Your landscape is visibly changed as you cut down forests, plant groves, dig sand pits, create ponds, build buildings, etc.


This seemed to work out with her, though did not come across fully satisfying or an integral part.


I have nothing much to add here...it's not quite as visible a change as something like Agricola (I think because of the lack of 3 dimensionality provided by the animals in Agricola).

Ikehouserock wrote:
Long-term planning
Long-term planning is very possible here, especially if you snag one of the big victory point buildings early to give yourself a clear goal.


I think this was a bit tricky. It was hard with the tiles that were out to really decide on the best strategy (not as overwhelming as Caverna, but processing the buildings out in play still took some time), and I already spotted a couple of cases where we could have easily gone the same route (and indadvertedly messed with her plans). I think this is yet another case where additional play can help.


Definitely a few plays will help you see some long term strategies earlier in the game. If you/she want to avoid conflict with your long term plans, I recommend you not forget about the Feudal Lord that lets you obtain a private offer of buildings to pursue. My wife and I almost completely overlooked him for the first 2 games!

Ikehouserock wrote:
No screwage
The card play does have a VERY slight screwage effect sometimes (if someone else chooses the same card as you, its effect is lessened). For the most part though, I think no one would find it offensive whatsoever.


I thought it wouldn't be too bad, but there were a couple of times where she was quite frustrated as she wanted to do both actions. :/ Also with the 2 player rules there was some frustration when I played all my cards before she got a chance to.


I think this will get a bit better with more plays as well. I remember my first play with my wife it seemed like she was reading my mind, and I suppose it was a bit frustrating. However, in future plays, the minor bits of screwage seemed to balance out (affecting both of us equally and a bit less often).

Ikehouserock wrote:
Slightly constrained sandbox
The building options are there (12 or 15 per round depending on player count) but not overwhelming. With 15 cards to choose from each round, there is also a nice variety of options to consider while not being too free form.

See above. Unfortunately she still found this a bit overwhelming. 15 cards, trying to figure out what buildings to go for, trying to figure out what I might or might not play, etc. led to a lot of downtime.


This too should be better with more plays as you become more familiar with the different buildings and specialist cards.

Ikehouserock wrote:
Enough Time
No feeding your people here, but having enough time may be an issue since the game just lasts 4 rounds. Many people have decided to extend the game one extra round, which should give plenty of time to accomplish your goals.


As above.


I guess try adding the extra round

Ikehouserock wrote:
Anyway, I think it came off a bit more negative than I wanted to. She still enjoyed the game, and I really enjoyed the production wheels. What a clever way to juggle resource management and really glad to be rid of the fiddliness involved with picking up lots of resources.

She's up for more games of it, but it's still not quite what she's aiming for, however really grateful that you took the time to recommend it! Hopefully we can check out some of the other recommendations in the thread soon!


Sorry your first experience with the game was less than stellar. I LOVE those production wheels. Even after several plays, they can still mess me up a bit (when I inadvertently use up some wood that I wanted to use for a building for example). I hope future plays will be a more positive experience for you! Good luck with your continued search!
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Scott O'Brien
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cbazler wrote:

How about At the Gates of Loyang? There's no tile placement, but it's almost totally MP solitaire, with only one or two cards that have any interaction at all (and mild interaction at that). You have your own fields, which produce only for you, and you plan out your own game with the clients you choose. It's also fantastic with two-players.



I will second this opinion. and also include another choice...
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
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