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Subject: Games that play best with 3, that are not bland or too heavy. rss

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Charles Fletcher

Baltimore
Maryland
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Hello, thanks for reading this.

I am looking for a game that is not too heavy, but also has some interesting mechanics and play interaction. It is definitely a bonus if the game looks nice or has a great theme. I am looking to play the game with my Mom and wife. My wife has really only played twilight struggle, but loves the game to death. It would be cool if the game could expand to include others for our Christmas get together too. I know it is a tough order, but I appreciate the help.

We don't like games like Carcossone, its a little bland. Lately my favorite games have been Cyclades, Spyfall, Cosmic Encounters, etc. A co-op would be alright too if it is co-op like Alcatraz the escape goat board game.

Thanks and happy holidays!
 
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Alison Mandible
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Impulse.

Best with 3, variable player powers, short but thinky, can seat up to 6 (though people seem to say it's not great with 6 unless you use the team rules). And it has some of the Cyclades dynamic where there's a whole big map board but there's a lot going on even when no combat is taking place.

Disclaimer: I've only played it twice. But am stoked to play more (and the 'best with 3' isn't just me; seems to be the consensus).
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Ian Kissell
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It does not play best with three, but I love Cosmic Encounter with 3, although many will disagree. Not a bland theme at all. (I know it is on your list, just wanted to throw my vote in).

Maybe try a coop like Ghost Stories, Tiny Epic Kingdoms, Sentinels of the Multiverse (which might be on sale tomorrow at Amazon), etc.

A little heavier, but I don't think that Merchant of Venus is too hard to explain, and can be a blast with 3.

Just played Five Tribes with 3, and it is a blast. Not good if you have players who agonize over every decision.

El Gaucho is hard to get a hold of, but is a dice-based set collection game.

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Tuomas Ylikoski
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How about Small World? It is not too heavy, is a fun family game and scales wonderfully from 2 up to 5 players. It also has lots of replayability because of the random race-ability combinations. It has a cartoony fantasy theme so if that is fine with you, I would definitely recommend it. Plus it looks magnificent!
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Jon G
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Since your wife's enjoying Twilight Struggle, I'll suggest a couple of longer, meatier games that you can still teach in 15 minutes:

Genoa is a unique game in that literally any thing that's not printed on the board can be traded. It's terrible with two, but very good with 3-5.

Railways of the World is a fantastic sandbox railroad building game. You start the game with no money, but you can take as much debt to build as fast and as far as you care to (the debt, of course, will hurt later). The base game comes with the Mexico map (best with 2-3) and the Eastern US map (best with 4-6). The Europe and Canada maps are excellent with 3 if you want to expand it. It isn't the best 2-player game out of the box, but a couple of 2p variants are playable.

Russian Railroads is solid with 3-4, and still plays well with two. It's a bit abstract compared to Railways, but it plays very quickly, with a good amount of tension and fun.

If you want to look at more standard (dry analytics with more pasted-on themes), Vikings, Notre Dame, and Puerto Rico are both excellent with three and worth trying.
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Genghis_Khan wrote:


We don't like games like Carcossone, its a little bland. Lately my favorite games have been Cyclades, Spyfall, Cosmic Encounters, etc. A co-op would be alright too if it is co-op like Alcatraz the escape goat board game.

Thanks and happy holidays!


I really enjoy Acquire with 3. I also really like Cyclades and Cosmic Encounters, and I hate Carcassone. So maybe you'll fall in love with Acquire, too.
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Ryan Bull
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Castles of Mad King Ludwig is great with 3. Down time occurs simultaneously and most players I've played it with at this number actually wanted it to go on even longer.

Playing Ghost Stories with 3 is ok, but 4 is the optimal; I've not yet gotten used to playing with an empty player's power.

Alien Frontiers seems to be optimal with 3 also. Great mechanics and the theme.

Quantum is good with 3 or 4. You can change up the board to suit the player count.

Eldritch Horror and Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island are also sublime with 3 players.

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Hobie
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Rindu wrote:
Genghis_Khan wrote:


We don't like games like Carcossone, its a little bland. Lately my favorite games have been Cyclades, Spyfall, Cosmic Encounters, etc. A co-op would be alright too if it is co-op like Alcatraz the escape goat board game.

Thanks and happy holidays!


I really enjoy Acquire with 3. I also really like Cyclades and Cosmic Encounters, and I hate Carcassone. So maybe you'll fall in love with Acquire, too.


+1 for Acquire.

Also, consider Steam or Brass.

Caylus is easy to explain, but has very deep, meaty gameplay. Reprint should be out any day now.
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Mark Synowiec
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GameplayerOfTitan wrote:
Castles of Mad King Ludwig is great with 3. Down time occurs simultaneously and most players I've played it with at this number actually wanted it to go on even longer.

Playing Ghost Stories with 3 is ok, but 4 is the optimal; I've not yet gotten used to playing with an empty player's power.

Alien Frontiers seems to be optimal with 3 also. Great mechanics and the theme.

Quantum is good with 3 or 4. You can change up the board to suit the player count.

Eldritch Horror and Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island are also sublime with 3 players.



I second Alien Frontiers I recently played as a 3 player game it was very tightly done. With the space blocking it does force your hand and your opponents when the spaces are locked out a lot more easily.
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James C
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Aren't a lot of Michael Schacht games rated best with 3? Like China or Web of Power?

I enjoyed Acquire with 3 as well as the posters above.

In a lot of threads I see people saying Le Havre is best with 3. Maybe too heavy for mom though?
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Scott Douglass
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My first thought is that 7 Wonders works best with 3.
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Kay Lee
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I really love castles of mad king ludwig and ticket to ride nordic for 3 players
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Fernando Robert Yu
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Another vote for Alien Frontiers especially with the expansion. Myrmes is also another possibility.
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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One of my favourite 2-3 player games is The Road to Canterbury. Players are con men selling fake pardons to the pilgrims on their way to Canterbury. Of course, you can't sell pardons if they haven't sinned, so you get to tempt them into committing the Seven Deadly Sins.

But, be wary of your competition. Nothing worse than loading a pilgrim up with sins to have someone else sell them the pardons and make a ton of money. Also, the more sins a pilgrim has, the closer they are to death, and a dead pilgrim pays no money.

The artwork and components are top notch. Play is easy to learn (in my opinion) and makes sense.

Good luck with your search.

Edit: Didn't see your request for a game that could accomodate more than three, which this game won't do. But it is a fantastic 2-3 player game.
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Marena Tiano
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I've been playing Russian Railroads a lot lately. It plays well with 2,3, or 4. It is a worker placement game and there is never enough time to do everything you want to do. Timing is key to the game and optimizing one's actions.

I haven't taught this to anyone yet, but I think you could do it in about 15 minutes if the learner has some experience with playing games.

Another good Worker Placement is Stone Age which is usually a hit with people that don't game much.
 
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Charles Fletcher

Baltimore
Maryland
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Thanks for all the great advice. This board truly never lets me down. Board gaming has been an awesome experience and a fantastic community.

I am thinking about picking up Acquire as it seems to be the game everyone recommends. I just missed out on playing Alien Frontiers at a board gaming meetup on a business trip to El Paso. They were about 30 mins in when I arrived.
 
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Michael W.
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Nexus Ops, Kemet and Seasons also work very well with 3 players. Cyclades and Kemet should fit your bill since you like Cyclades.
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Jose Cunha
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Sorry for sidetracking the topic, but why do the games have to play best at 3, or did you mean best 3 player games?

A game that plays best at 3 is not necessarily a better 3 player game than another game that plays best at 4 or 5. Either that or I don't understand what "plays best at 3" means.

On-topic: I agree with Cosmic Encounter and Small World. I would also add Ticket to Ride: Europe.
 
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Thanee
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Belfort is great with three, not too complex, and certainly nice-looking.

Keyflower is a bit heavier, but also a good choice.

Bye
Thanee
 
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Sean Norman
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3-player only, and great games to boot:

Maria
1944: Race to the Rhine
 
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João Pedro Cotrim
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snorman wrote:
3-player only, and great games to boot:

Maria
1944: Race to the Rhine


Great games, but might be a bit too heavy for what the OP's after.

San Marco is the best 3 player medium and definitely not bland game I own.
 
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Patrick McInally
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I'm a big fan of Citadels for 3 people, and it has the bonus of playing quite quickly -- usually around half an hour, but it's a dense, tense half hour.

Since your wife loves Twilight Struggle, I'll also suggest Successors (third edition). It's a multiplayer CDG in the style of Twilight that plays best with 3 or 4. Not quite as dense rules wise, although I'll warn you the rulebook itself makes things look very complicated. Once you figure the game out, however, it's less difficult than Twilight and a lot of fun.

There's a potential downside to it, though: it's long, clocking in at over 3 hours for a short game. Not sure if that's possible for you and yours.
 
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BJ
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sdougla2 wrote:
My first thought is that 7 Wonders works best with 3.


The genius of 7 Wonders is that it plays just as fast and furiously with 7 as it does with 3.

Unless you're playing with Chatty McChatterson, Analyisis McParalysis or Slowly McSlowerson, of course.
 
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BJ
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snorman wrote:
3-player only, and great games to boot:

Maria
1944: Race to the Rhine



Maria is the one of the best three player games I have ever played. Although I have only played it with 4, I suspect Maria's older brother, Friedrich, would be pretty good with 3 as well.
 
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Scott Douglass
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7 Wonders plays just as fast with 7 as with 3, but it is not as good a strategy game with 7 as it is with 3. Randomness plays a larger role, but more importantly the incentives for military don't work as well at higher player counts.
 
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