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Subject: Visually appealing & puzzly tableau/engine builder wanted! rss

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Milki Kaplanski
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Bremen
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I've been playing Suburbia & Caverna the past couple of days (solo and with my partner) and really love their level of depth and decision making, I love building up my suburb/cave and see how things fall in place (or apart, depends ;>) in the end. I also love the solo mode of Race for the Galaxy and dig the space theme.

I just wish they all were prettier.

Like Dream Home, which I got at this year's SPIEL and which probably has been my most played game this year (I play it a lot with my self-invented solo rules though, since everyone is sick of it already, haha). And I just love looking at the houses I created after the game ends. But the problem with Dream Home is that it is rather shallow, there are no hard decisions to make and every game is pretty much the same (I still love it anyway, it's my perfect filler game).

I would love to find a game that offers the satisfying feeling of building up a great engine, after making lots of tough strategic decisions and seeing your efforts come to fruition while at the same time leaving you with something pretty to marvel at after the game - which also makes losing less boring, since hey, at least you built this pretty thing!

I've thought about Patchwork and Cottage Garden for a while, but art & theme are too abstract for me and A Feast for Odin isn't pretty enough either (I'm so intrigued by the Tetris-style tile placement puzzle mechanism though). Castles of Mad King Ludwig seems like it might be a fit, even though it's a little lighter, since I like making floor plans / building houses (it's all I ever do in The Sims), but I'm not sure how well it plays with two or solo. Anyone care to share their experiences? :)

Must haves:
- medium to medium heavy weight
- can be played solo & plays well with two
(I don't mind unofficial solo rules if they work well)
- looks pretty*
- has a puzzle to solve
- little to no conflict

Nice to have:
- engine building
- co-op
- sandbox
- anything but a medieval fantasy theme

Any ideas?


* since pretty is a very subjective matter, here a few examples of what games I find pretty (besides the aforementioned Dream Home):

Evolution: Climate (I fear it's way too "Take that!" for us, but I had to get it for the art!), Above and Below as well as anything else by Ryan Laukat, My Fair Princess - yeah, cute anime art works for me as well as a more Western comic style like in The Big Book of Madness. But I also dig the wonky cartoon style of Adventure Time.
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Kevin D.
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I like Castles of Mad King Ludwig better solo than with two, but I think it's best with 3 or 4.

Even though it's out of print I would recommend Ginkgopolis. The solitaire version is good and it's a great engine/tableau builder. I like the art a lot, but there are plenty of negative comments about the theme being odd (usually a plus for me). I like it best with 2.



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Is Viticulture too light?
Vinhos?

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HenningK
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Maybe Imperial Settlers. I think the computer-game-comic-style artwork has a unique, lovely charm, and when you read the "Romans go home" writing on a depicted wall in one of the expansions, you can't help but love it.
It's an engine builder with lots of combo potential and plays well solo, too.
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Matt Green
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Horsham
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Dilluvia Project may be worth considering.
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Claudio Coppini
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Frankfurt am Main
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Town Center (4th edition)!
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Milki Kaplanski
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Maghd wrote:

Even though it's out of print I would recommend Ginkgopolis.

This looks quite nice, odd themes are a plus for me too. It's not that pricey to get over here either, so I'll check out some gameplay videos to see if it's a fit for me/us! :)

SpaceAlien wrote:
Is Viticulture too light?
Vinhos?

Viticulture has been on my wishlist for a while, since my partner really loves his wine, while I on the other hand have somewhat mixed feelings about getting a game about producing wine, as I am highly allergic to red wine. ;) Vinhos is definitely too heavy for him. Does Viticulture play well with 2 though?


Trantor42 wrote:


I love Imperial Settlers! My partner likes it too, but the problem is, I ALWAYS beat him and he's been enjoying Suburbia way more. We just got the two small expansions though, so hopefully I can force get him to play IS with me again. ;)

mgreen02 wrote:
Dilluvia Project may be worth considering.

Great theme & art! I'll check out some gameplay videos, to see if the gameplay is something for us. Thanks for the tip!

Drugo81 wrote:

I really, really like the style of the city maps, but would prefer cute little miniature buildings or tiles with pretty artwork over stacked wooden cubes. They are just not that visually impressive. ;)



Are there any other games with a focus on interior design / decorating rooms that anyone knows of? But I guess it's just too casual of a theme to expect anything deep... :/

The City/Nation/World-building theme works great for both of us though, as we play lots of civilization-building PC games (like Sid Meier's Civilization, Endless Legend, Stellaris) - we always play those co-operatively though, so are there any co-op board games where you build up a city/world or civilisation together?

In any case, thanks for all the suggestions so far! Please keep them coming! :)
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TonyKR
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Portland
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Walnut Grove leans a little towards the lighter end of the spectrum, but otherwise manages to tick off all those boxes. And despite it's weight, there's actually a fair amount of game in there (and it plays quickly).

Oh My Goods! also ticks some of those boxes. It's hard to get your engine going, but once you do you feel like you've accomplished something (well, I do at least). Plus it's dirt cheap. Can't say that it meets the "visually appealing" requirement though.
 
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Matt D
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Peachtree corners
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Two games that MIGHT work for what you are looking for depending upon your views on "pretty" are Colony and Villages of Valeria.

Colony is a tableau builder where you are building up a dice based engine, similar to Roll for the Galaxy, but with a shared market instead of drawing tiles. The design is a somewhat spartan but fits the theme, which is a high technology future. It's like a scaled down RftG, which isn't so bad IMO.

Villages of Valeria is a fantasy themed card based tableau builder. You also build an engine in a role selection model. The artwork is really nice (although of that cartoony style), and the game play is very strategic at 2 players, and has a viable solo game that is very puzzle-like. It literally just arrived from its Kickstarter this past week, so some retailers should have it now (or shortly) - some retailers were KSers.
 
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Haakon Gaarder
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Highly recommend keyflower! Deep, puzzly, interactive and looks very good.
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John Burt
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I'm surprised that nobody has suggested Terraforming Mars yet. Pretty main board (cards maybe not so much) and an engine builder.

If you liked Above and Below, then definitely give Islebound a look. Some people say this is one of his best games, mechanically, and the artwork is really nice of course.



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Matt Brown
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Okemos
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On the heavy and expensive side, but The Colonists is worth a look. You also might want to watch for Brasil once it comes out.
 
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Joe H
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Seasons and My Village are both dice drafting games where you build tableaus of cards that are your engine. Both have quite nice art and play well with 2.

Two other games I enjoy with engine building and beautiful art:
Lewis & Clark super and amazingly beautiful engine building game but doesn't have much of a tableau other than boats. The engine is based upon cards you recruit. This also plays SOLO.

Discoveries is also an engine builder that uses dice to activate actions in the tableau you put together. Very nice art too.
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Ash Night
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51st State: Master Set is a great spin on Imperial Settlers. I think it looks thematic, but "pretty" isn't how I'd describe it. Very much an engine builder, puzzly too.

Guildhall is also a great combo-y engine builder / tableau builder. Very streamlined and tense as you decide whether to "score" your tableau or keep it out to keep using its power.

Spyrium is a good engine builder, with a clever "worker placement" mechanic.

Targi is less engine builder, with a little bit of tableau and a twist on worker placement. It's quite puzzly. I think the art is pretty.
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