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Subject: Are the games too samey? rss

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J M
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First post from, as my user namn says, a Reluctant gamer. I've never really played that much and havn't really been interested either. However, my seven year old som wants to play board games (and games on the iPad) ALL the time. So I deciderad to look into games that I think that me, his ten year old sister and maybe even my VERY Reluctant husband can enjoy as well.

I've compiled a list of games that I feel sound fun, but now I'm starting to think they might be too samey. What are your thoughts of me buying the following games:

Carcassonne
Blokus
Takenoko
Lanterns

They're all about lagting down tiles/shapes and collecting points. Are they too samey to start out with?
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Russ Williams
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Reluctant gamer wrote:
I've compiled a list of games that I feel sound fun, but now I'm starting to think they might be too samey. What are your thoughts of me buying the following games:

Carcassonne
Blokus

I've played those two very many times (and continue to enjoy them). Although they both include laying down tiles, they do not seem at all the same to me:

Carcassonne has random luck of the draw and 4 different types of terrain with distinct ways of scoring points. Each turn you must make a decision not only about the tile placement, but about whether to place a meeple onto the tile, and if so onto which terrain part of the tile, for later scoring. You earn points from your actions as you go. Its tiles are all identically square shaped. Subjectively, it has a light city-building theme with representational pretty landscape art. It also works well for 2-5 players.

Blokus is a pure abstract strategy game (no randomness or hidden info, no theme or representational art, much simpler minimalist rules, no concept of meeple placement or scoring). Its tiles are variously shaped, so it has a more varied geometric feel than Carcassonne. You earn points at the end based simply on which of your pieces you placed (or equivalently, failed to place), so very different scoring from Carcassonne. It is primarily a 4-player game. I would not recommend it for 3. With 2 players, each player takes 2 colors. (Or you can play Blokus Duo with your Blokus set.)
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Andreas Pettersson
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Of those four I have just played Carcassonne and Takenoko and they have a very different feel to me.

Carcassonne is all about laying the tiles and placing your meeples while this is just one of the elements in Takenoko.

Another point is that Carcassonne has very little (if any) hidden information. Every player can see what tiles are laid and can get a good grasp of what their opponents are trying to accomplish. In Takenoko this is partially hidden by the scoring cards. You can see what kind of cards you opponents have but not what they're after.

 
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Scott Nelson
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different enough to own all of them.
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may-prigent Ffran
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Honestly, no. The games have some elements in common, but are different enough to be interesting and great to play.
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Paul DeStefano
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If those are the first four games to own, you may want to spread out. If you have 10 other games, owning those are fine.
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Martin Larouche
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From a non-gamer family that are not really attracted to boardgames...
Takenoko might be a bit much (not overly complex, but maybe a tad too many rules to learn to be easy).
I'd also remove Lantern. Carcassonne is in the same "category" and is more fun (again imo). Lantern doesn't have the visual appeal for kids and is not thematic enough for them (imo).

I'd take a look at the following:
Ticket to Ride
Agricola: Family Edition
Small World
King of Tokyo
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Choubi Gogs
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deedob wrote:
From a non-gamer family that are not really attracted to boardgames...
Takenoko might be a bit much (not overly complex, but maybe a tad too many rules to learn to be easy).
I'd also remove Lantern. Carcassonne is in the same "category" and is more fun (again imo). Lantern doesn't have the visual appeal for kids and is not thematic enough for them (imo).

I'd take a look at the following:
Ticket to Ride
Agricola: Family Edition
Small World
King of Tokyo


I would also suggest Carcassonne and Ticket to ride.

Codenames is a good game too but it's a word game so I'm not sure how well it would work with young children that don't have as varied a vocabulary as adults. I'm not saying it won't work though, I never tried with children. I have tried the english version with french friends who all have a business-appropriate level (not great but enough to write technical reports and exchange by email or around the coffee-machine with english co-workers) of english and the game wasn't that fun.

Never tried the family version of Agricola but based on the advanced version, I would still say this is more complicated than Ticket to ride or Carcassonne.

I believe Small World would be too complicated for a seven year old though. Probably too complicated for adult reluctant gamers as well (not in the sense of being hard to grasp but in the sense of there having tons of little rules to learn before starting to play... Which is often too much for someone not willing to exert some effort).
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Russ Williams
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Choubi wrote:
Codenames is a good game too but it's a word game so I'm not sure how well it would work with young children that don't have as varied a vocabulary as adults.

Codenames: Pictures solves that (at least partly).
We liked it more than original text Codenames.
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In Carcassonne, you draw a tile, try to figure the best way to place it and score, and then decide whether or not placing a pawn is interesting.

In Takenoko, you do much more than that. You choose which character to move, which power to activate, in order to either complete your objectives, or hinder your opponents.

While these four games may look the same to a non-gamer in terms of gameplay, they're actually quite different, and open new possibilites as to who you can play them with and when. Some are easier to understand than others, some play faster than others.
 
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Brent Gerig
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deedob wrote:
From a non-gamer family that are not really attracted to boardgames...
Takenoko might be a bit much (not overly complex, but maybe a tad too many rules to learn to be easy).
I'd also remove Lantern. Carcassonne is in the same "category" and is more fun (again imo). Lantern doesn't have the visual appeal for kids and is not thematic enough for them (imo).

I'd take a look at the following:
Ticket to Ride
Agricola: Family Edition
Small World
King of Tokyo


I'd look at Ticket to Ride: Europe instead. Having the option of stations to prevent getting completely blocked on routes makes the game a little less frustrating and aggressive.
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Chris Ruf
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I would look into:

Ticket to Ride: First Journey (U.S.)
Animals on Board
King of Tokyo
Qwixx
Qwirkle

They are all much better entry points for newer/reluctant gamers in my opinion, especially for kids 10 and younger.
 
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Jim Carvin
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I haven't played Lanterns yet but I've never considered Carcassonne,
Blokus, and Takenoko even remotely similar.

I'd also recommend Ticket to Ride and King of Tokyo but also Splendor.
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Resist the Kakistocracy
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My kids (ages 10-15) love Carcassonne. The game comes in a couple of different themes, if there's one that you think might appeal more (it's just the visual presentation that's different, as far as I know). I'd also second the recommendation for Qwirkle, which has a Scrabble-type feel with shapes and colors instead of letters and words. If you (or your kids) are into the "giant battling monsters" theme and you like to throw great handfuls of dice, definitely check out King of Tokyo.

A few other games that my kids enjoy very much (especially the youngest) are Tsuro (tile laying game, try to push your opponents off the board first; this may currently be available as Tsuro of the Seas, although I'm not sure if they're different), Sushi Go! (set collection card game), and Adventure Time Love Letter (it's a good game, but I suspect my kids mostly like it for the Adventure Time theme).

Good luck! I hope you and your family find hours of quality family time around the gaming table.

 
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Sam Lam I Am
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I wouldn't fret about it. Some games you buy will become favorites, others will be good games, but will gather dust, some may be instant dislikes.

I really like Carcassonne, Blokus, and Takenoko (never played Lanterns). I also really like dozens of other games.

Blokus is less versatile than the others you've listed, because it almost requires 4 players. A more versatile abstract would be Ingenious.

If you and your husband are reluctant, I recommend sticking with what we call "gateway" games, which tend to be shorter. Google will help you find lists of good gateway games.

 
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Chris Mcpherson
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if you are going to get Carcassonne I would suggest getting Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers. Pretty much the same game but adds a few more elements which might keep the game interesting longer. Check out a video of both to see the differences.

Not a big fan of Blokus myself. I do like some abstract games. We really enjoy Hive, Samurai, and Through the Desert. I just re-read part of your post about the age of your son. He may like Hey! That's my Fish. It is similar to Through the Desert and we used to have it.

My six year old son loves Takenoko, as do the rest of us. This should be a for sure.

I thought about Lanterns a few times but never pulled the trigger. On a side not, my 6 yr old also likes Zooloretto, Animal Upon Animal(House rule that you always have to build up and not out and the game is tough), Marvel Legendary(and basically any co-op games. Flashpoint, pandemic, forbidden island, hanabi, etc.), and Tobago.
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Mark Raciborski
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Chris Ruf
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danamark wrote:

This is definitely the deep end in my opinion for what the OP has laid out.
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Paul DeStefano
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Legend5555 wrote:
danamark wrote:

This is definitely the deep end in my opinion for what the OP has laid out.


I actually find Takenoko more complex than Waterdeep.
 
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Chris Ruf
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Geosphere wrote:
Legend5555 wrote:
danamark wrote:

This is definitely the deep end in my opinion for what the OP has laid out.


I actually find Takenoko more complex than Waterdeep.

I don't think either is particularly suitable for the situation described.
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lizzie j
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As another said, if these are your first 4 hobby games, I wouldn't choose all tile laying games.


1. Carcassonne OR Lanterns: The Harvest Festival - I personally prefer Carcassonne by far but Lanterns is has a very simple rule set which might work well with your children. That is not to say Carcassonne has difficult rules. The most difficult part to understand is how the farmers work, but I know that some parents have played it without this part and their kids have enjoyed it.

2. Instead of Takenoko (which looks cute but it has more complex decisions to make), I would get Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe - this is a classic game that is interesting for the whole family. Ticket to Ride Europe has a 2 or 2 extra rules but it is also kinder as it has stations which mean that if someone builds where you wanted to go, you can still complete your route. There is also Ticket to Ride: First Journey (U.S.) which is a children's version of this game. Watch some of the video reviews of each and see which you think is better suited to your family.

3. Forbidden Island - this is a cooperative game, which is not too expensive, is attractive to look at and fun to play. The cooperative nature of this makes it great for families as you can work together to beat the game. Then if you like this one, in the future you can get Forbidden Desert which has some changes.

4. Blokus is a great choice if you want an abstract game. I don't think it is too similar to Carcassonne or Lanterns. Another possible abstract is Hey, That's My Fish! which is cheap and attractice, however it can be quite mean (if you play it that way).

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Joe Salamone
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I own them all and I play them all. They are different enough that I could play all 4 in a row without experiencing deja vu.
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Paul Bunyan
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Just a quick suggestion on playing games with children in general; don't go for games that are likely to go over half an hour. Ten to twenty minutes seems to be a good sweet spot. Of course, the amount of time spent playing will also be affected by how well they learn the game.

Speaking of which, how easy are these games to learn?

Carcassonne: 1/5. Extremely easy to play. The strategy comes as you go, but even then it's a pretty simple game. Some kids really like the "creating something" aspect of this game, as well.

Blokus: 3/5. Blokus is kind of rough on kids. One reason is that the strategy isn't really apparent, I've noticed. Actually playing the game is really easy, but I've seen kids get frustrated with not understanding why their strategy (or lack thereof, in this case) didn't work.

Takenoko: 3/5. Again, it's the same issue with Blokus. The game is super easy to pick up and they may struggle grasping the strategy behind it. On the other hand, I've seen kids fail at this game miserably but still like it because the game pieces are so darn adorable.

I can't speak to Lanterns, unfortunately...

If you're looking for games that aren't laying down tiles, I'd also recommend Sushi Go!, King of Tokyo, Forbidden Island, and maybe even Scotland Yard if they like deduction sort of games.

 
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Tomello Visello
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Reluctant gamer wrote:
They're all about lagting down tiles/shapes and collecting points. Are they too samey to start out with?

An interesting viewpoint to consider. I am struck by a comparison: Baseball, Basketball and Soccer are all games with round balls that are manipulated to score points. I don't view that as making them "samey".
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J M
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Thanks a bunch for all your responses! My mind was pretty much made up already when it comes to Carcassonne and Blokus and now I'm even more convinced; I'm definitely buying those.

Some of the suggestions that have been mentioned are already on my radar; Sushi Go, Forbidden Island, Hive, Hanabi, Love letter and Splendor. For different reasons they fell behind the four games on my list above, but they're still very interesting. I'm also considering Jaipur and, later on, if we do get into board gaming, and when my son gets older, 7 wonders.

I'm pretty sure my son would like King of Tokyo, he pretty much likes every game we play, everything from chess and backgammon to Klondyke and Uno. And he would probably love the monsters. But I'm trying to find games that I will like as well and I'm not really into dice games.

I havn't missed Ticket to ride: Europe. I've read about it and watched playthroughs, but for some reason, I don't even know what, I just don't find it that intriguing. But maybe I should give it a try. I know it's often suggested as a great gateway game. I might change my mind once I get to try it.

Takenoko was more with my 10 year old daughter (and myself) in mind.

I'll check out the other suggestions that have been mentioned as well. So, Carcassonne and Blokus for sure, but I'll take another thought about Takenoko and Lanters.

Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to answer me!
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