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Subject: Help request: Do I want Gaia Project? rss

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Aaron H
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Hello Gaia Project people! This is an appeal to the BGG hive mind, in which I'm trying to determine whether or not Gaia Project could be the answer to all my problems. What problems? Read on and find out.

Board games have been my main hobby for the last 8 years now, and the market (and my collection) has grown exponentially in that time. After having played hundreds and bought dozens of different games, I've pretty much settled on personal favorites for different settings and player counts. So if for instance, I have an evening coming up that requires a 2-player game that is compact enough to play in a pub, I know what my go-to choice is, that I will always enjoy. Or if I have an entire day with 6 players, I also know what my first choice would be.

But there is one slot that has remained elusive over the years, one role that still requires an absolute winner to fulfill, and it's the one with these criteria:

1. Moderate to high complexity
2. Playable in an evening (3-4 hour length max)
3. Perfectly balanced and enjoyable for 3 players


The last is the key one. 3 players has proven the hardest count for me and my group. A lot of candidates have applied and been tested, but none have really convinced us. In particular, the dynamic of the game always seems to boil down to either a. shifting 2 player alliances ganging up on the leader or b. a very drawn out game of rock v paper v scissors.

I read an article claiming that Gaia Project is one of the best games available for 3 players, it appears to be both complex and playable in an evening and I generally agree with high BGG ratings, so this is a very promising candidate for me at this point. But I'd like some feedback from people who have played it often, and more specifically an answer to these questions:

- How were your experiences of playing Gaia Project with 3 players? (balance, fun, depth, replay potential etc.)

- Does it have more to offer than a min/max engine builder (my main critique of Terra Mystica, the game it's meant to replace)?

- Is there meaningful interaction on offer? (am I not just focused on my own game, but permanently engaged and worried by what other players are doing, and can players disrupt each other's strategies in impactful ways? The absolute minimum threshold for this is that it can't be Agricola - if I can't do anything worse to you than force you into a sub-optimal choice this turn, I'm bored already)

- My favorite mechanics (or at least the mechanics that show up in a lot of my favorite games) are drafting, hidden information, simultaneous action selection, area control, resource management and "controlled variance" (e.g. modifiable die rolls, deckbuilding etc.). How does Gaia Project score for these?

Your input is very much appreciated! Love n kisses,

Yak
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Jack Spirio
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It doesn’t have your favorite Mechanisms and it’s not the kind of interaction you seem to like, so probably it’s not for you.
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Travis C
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It sounds like you've played Terra Mystica before. Gaia Project isn't *that* different from it. Most of your questions can probably be answered by giving the same answer for Terra Mystica.

I haven't played it 3 players yet, but from my 2 player games I think a 3rd player would add a lot of dynamic without too much extra downtime.

There is more meaningful interaction than Agricola, and it feels more interactive than Terra Mystica even, but keep in mind this game is a pretty quintessential euro. There's no attacking or die rolls or anything like that. The interaction is mostly who can get to the planet we both want first, and building near people gives them more resources for actions. It's interesting in that it encourages your empires to be close, which can lead to competition for planets.

The big thing this improves over Terra Mystica is replayability in my opinion. The map and end game goals are entirely different each game, which makes it feel like a different game.

It's a resource management game. It has area control as well, but in a different way than most area control games have. You can't dislodge someone once they've established a foothold like you can in most area control games, just like Terra Mystica.

In short it definitely meets your bolded criteria; I'm unsure how it'll stack up against your other questions. It's an iteration on Terra Mystica, and definitely a good one, but it's not a new game.
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Phil Hendrickson
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Gaia Project has virtually none of your stated preferred mechanisms. It works great for three players - at what it does as a game. But it sounds like you will not like what it does.

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James Ataei
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Yakslapper wrote:
Hello Gaia Project people! This is an appeal to the BGG hive mind, in which I'm trying to determine whether or not Gaia Project could be the answer to all my problems. What problems? Read on and find out.

Board games have been my main hobby for the last 8 years now, and the market (and my collection) has grown exponentially in that time. After having played hundreds and bought dozens of different games, I've pretty much settled on personal favorites for different settings and player counts. So if for instance, I have an evening coming up that requires a 2-player game that is compact enough to play in a pub, I know what my go-to choice is, that I will always enjoy. Or if I have an entire day with 6 players, I also know what my first choice would be.

But there is one slot that has remained elusive over the years, one role that still requires an absolute winner to fulfill, and it's the one with these criteria:

1. Moderate to high complexity
2. Playable in an evening (3-4 hour length max)
3. Perfectly balanced and enjoyable for 3 players


Gaia Project is great for all of these. In 3p you can also reduce the map size (2p with 7 sectors 4 home planets, 3p with 8S and 5h, 4p with 10S and 6h)

Quote:
The last is the key one. 3 players has proven the hardest count for me and my group. A lot of candidates have applied and been tested, but none have really convinced us. In particular, the dynamic of the game always seems to boil down to either a. shifting 2 player alliances ganging up on the leader or b. a very drawn out game of rock v paper v scissors.


Not quite RPS because it's still better for you to take actions that benefit you more than taking a sub-optimal action that harms another player because the 3rd player will benefit instead.

Quote:
I read an article claiming that Gaia Project is one of the best games available for 3 players, it appears to be both complex and playable in an evening and I generally agree with high BGG ratings, so this is a very promising candidate for me at this point. But I'd like some feedback from people who have played it often, and more specifically an answer to these questions:

- How were your experiences of playing Gaia Project with 3 players? (balance, fun, depth, replay potential etc.)


It's great at all player counts 1p to 4p for all of these criteria.

Quote:
- Does it have more to offer than a min/max engine builder (my main critique of Terra Mystica, the game it's meant to replace)?


It has friendly area control and action selection mechanics also. The thing about the engine building is that you have to build your engine to score VP and the puzzle is that the VP scoring is nearly always different and you have to figure out how that engine is going to score that VP. You can manage to put all of your buildings on the board but still lose by a lot because you didn't play to the VP goals.

Quote:
- Is there meaningful interaction on offer? (am I not just focused on my own game, but permanently engaged and worried by what other players are doing, and can players disrupt each other's strategies in impactful ways? The absolute minimum threshold for this is that it can't be Agricola - if I can't do anything worse to you than force you into a sub-optimal choice this turn, I'm bored already)


The most meaningful interaction is deciding on where it best for you to upgrade (when you upgrade you provide power to neighbors), what actions to take (some can be blocked, some can't), and what planets to take (sometimes 2 or 3 players have a planet they all want). You can't directly hurt your opponent in this game. Forcing another player in a 3p or 4p game into a sub-optimal action might be sub-optimal for yourself anyway. Better to do what is optimal for yourself and if it hurts other than it's a bonus. Given that you have so many options in this game, I find it difficult to be bored since the game can be prone to AP. You try to plan out what you are doing on your turns while others are taking their turns. Sometimes when players do something unexpected that ruin your plan then you might have to find a re-route.

Quote:
- My favorite mechanics (or at least the mechanics that show up in a lot of my favorite games) are drafting, hidden information, simultaneous action selection, area control, resource management and "controlled variance" (e.g. modifiable die rolls, deckbuilding etc.). How does Gaia Project score for these?


Drafting is only available at the beginning of the game when you choose a faction based on the entire setup.
Hidden info is not possible since everything is known to everyone unless you consider what your opponents are doing is hidden, but you can still predict opponents moves with some reliability.
Simultaneous action selection NONE. everything has an order.
Area control, yes that's a main feature, but you can not take area that another already has.
Resource management is a main feature with 6 different types of resources (ore, coins, knowledge, QIC, power tokens related to power charge).

Quote:
Your input is very much appreciated! Love n kisses,

Yak

My wife might have a problem with you giving me that.

Personally, I don't think this game would be for you. It is sad for me to say that since this is an amazing game once you get the game. This is coming from a lead playtester and 3rd party designer of a Terra Mystica expansion. It takes half a game for things to start to click when an experienced player and game teacher teaches it to others and 2 to 4 games (for most people) to start to develop any strategy. Maybe you can find someone experienced to teach it to you and play a few games because it really is fantastic and will grow on you if you give it a chance.
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Drake Coker
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The combination of 3 player, high interaction and minimal ganging-up-on-the-leader is tough to achieve! I think in abstract, the primary ways to achieve that is either hiding who the leader is (through hidden goals) or to limit player's ability to gang-up somehow.

Gaia Project is a fine 3-player game that definitely meets your primary (bold) criteria. However, interaction between players, while present, is somewhat secondary to pursuing your own strategy. The interaction comes down to an occasional race for a contested spot and a certain amount of geographical positioning vis-a-vis each other to limit access. There can be a bit of bash-the-leader, except there isn't much you can do other than to try to limit spots together or use the trade mechanism to catch-up. No actual bashing can occur

But, other than a modest amount of interaction, I do think the game has several excellent merits for you: high replayability, interesting mechanisms/decisions, excellent at 3-player, generally high quality overall in design.

====

Generally good 3-player solutions: co-op games, 1 vs. many games, multiplayer solitaire games, and, rather specifically, Colossal Arena which just works really well at 3 players.

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Shaz Iqbal
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You are describing Three Kingdoms Redux. Go get it. Best medium to heavy weight game designed specifically for 3 players and you can usually get it for 30-40 dollars, about half of Gaia Project.
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So your Main Critique on Terra Mystica will be double downed on Gaia Project. The one thing that Terra Mystica does better is player interaction, as there is competition and a slight Area Control Part in the game. So if you played Terra Mystica and didn't like it for the reasons you mentioned, Gaia Project won't cut it for you.

A lot of people who liked Terra Mystica love Gaia Project, and I think it's purer in the "I love it if a plan works" department.

(btw, I prefer Terra Mystica, as I like the slight plus in player interaction)
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Drake Coker
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Coryza wrote:
You are describing Three Kingdoms Redux. Go get it. Best medium to heavy weight game designed specifically for 3 players and you can usually get it for 30-40 dollars, about half of Gaia Project.



Thanks for the recommendation. I'd not heard of this game before and am going to check it out now!
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Bryan Thunkd
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If you didn't like Terra Mystica I doubt you'll enjoy Gaia Project. TM has more direct interaction, so you may even like it less.
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Dave Moser
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Yakslapper wrote:

- My favorite mechanics (or at least the mechanics that show up in a lot of my favorite games) are drafting, hidden information, simultaneous action selection, area control, resource management and "controlled variance" (e.g. modifiable die rolls, deckbuilding etc.). How does Gaia Project score for these?

I know you haven't asked for other suggestions, but as others have pointed out, Gaia Project doesn't exactly fit the bill based on the quoted bit above. There is cracking good game that does, though. In fact, it has every one of the mechanics you listed (OK, maybe not the last one so much), and plays great at 3-player as well.

La Granja
 
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Space Trucker
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Yakslapper wrote:

1. Moderate to high complexity check! medium high to high
2. Playable in an evening (3-4 hour length max) check! easily doable unless players are slow. 45 minutes per player + setup isn't hard to reach
3. Perfectly balanced and enjoyable for 3 players
check! 3 player works fine, balance is very good, better play is rewarded, stronger player almost always win

(...)

- How were your experiences of playing Gaia Project with 3 players? (balance, fun, depth, replay potential etc.) check! I would vote best with 3 and 4 players


- Does it have more to offer than a min/max engine builder (my main critique of Terra Mystica, the game it's meant to replace)? tough call... Building up a big eceonmy and scoring with it is definitly the major part. Compared to Terra Mystica it is a bit more sandboxy

- Is there meaningful interaction on offer? (am I not just focused on my own game, but permanently engaged and worried by what other players are doing, and can players disrupt each other's strategies in impactful ways? The absolute minimum threshold for this is that it can't be Agricola - if I can't do anything worse to you than force you into a sub-optimal choice this turn, I'm bored already) tough call... You can not only steal actions, like in Agricola, but also steal spots to build on and also building together is rewarded, like in Terra Mystica. Agressive play is a bit less distinct than in TM.


- My favorite mechanics (or at least the mechanics that show up in a lot of my favorite games) are drafting Nope., hidden information Nope. Definitly nothing hidden., simultaneous action selectionNope. But at least very short actions, so you can plan ahead, area control A bit... You can control planets, but once they are your's, they stay yours. There's some area scoring at least., resource management check! extremely important here and "controlled variance" (e.g. modifiable die rolls, deckbuilding etc.) Nope. But at least game setup is always different, so you can't play sciptedly. How does Gaia Project score for these?

Your input is very much appreciated! Love n kisses,


See the comments above. Especially that you don't really like Terra Mystica would make me say no. Gaia Project is more variable, more sandboy, scales better for low player numbers than TM, but I suppose it doesn't fix/change the things you don't like.
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Aaron H
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Wow! Thank you all so much for the responses, this really helps inform my decision. My local store gives it rave reviews and promises I'll love it, but my local store wants to sell me games and has occasionally let me down with recommendations in the past. And a high BGG ranking doesn't tell me everything either.

Unfortunately, it does look like I will hold off on buying Gaia Project for now. It does seem to have promising elements, but ultimately the lack of in -your-face interaction could be the biggest disappointment.

Coryza wrote:
You are describing Three Kingdoms Redux. Go get it. Best medium to heavy weight game designed specifically for 3 players and you can usually get it for 30-40 dollars, about half of Gaia Project.


Thanks for this, I'm always keen on suggestions! I didn't want to proactively ask for them here as I specifically wanted to know about Gaia Project and didn't want to derail the thread too much, but I will definitely check this out!

Olvenskol wrote:
The combination of 3 player, high interaction and minimal ganging-up-on-the-leader is tough to achieve!


Amen to that. I don't see it as a coincidence I'm finding it the toughest slot to fill in my collection.

Olvenskol wrote:
Generally good 3-player solutions: co-op games, 1 vs. many games, multiplayer solitaire games, and, rather specifically, Colossal Arena which just works really well at 3 players.


Again, thanks for the input and the suggestions! We've identified something similar in our group, but those just happen to be the solutions that are problematic for our group. We have too many alpha gamers for co-op and the lack of interaction in multiplayer solitaire is precisely what I'm keen to avoid. I will check out Colossal Arena as well!

dmoser22 wrote:
I know you haven't asked for other suggestions, but as others have pointed out, Gaia Project doesn't exactly fit the bill based on the quoted bit above. There is cracking good game that does, though. In fact, it has every one of the mechanics you listed (OK, maybe not the last one so much), and plays great at 3-player as well.


I realize I didn't, but as my next move was going to be to launch a suggestion thread in a more general forum, this is nonetheless very helpful and much appreciated.

JamesWolfpacker wrote:

My wife might have a problem with you giving me that.


Woops.

Cheers everyone, this really helps.
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Bryan Thunkd
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dmoser22 wrote:
Yakslapper wrote:

- My favorite mechanics (or at least the mechanics that show up in a lot of my favorite games) are drafting, hidden information, simultaneous action selection, area control, resource management and "controlled variance" (e.g. modifiable die rolls, deckbuilding etc.). How does Gaia Project score for these?

I know you haven't asked for other suggestions, but as others have pointed out, Gaia Project doesn't exactly fit the bill based on the quoted bit above. There is cracking good game that does, though. In fact, it has every one of the mechanics you listed (OK, maybe not the last one so much), and plays great at 3-player as well.

La Granja
I love this game, but it doesn't really fit the OP's bill. Outside of the central area (which is a fairly small part of the game) there's not much direct interaction.
 
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Flo P
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Hi Aaron,

a lot of what I wanted to reply has already been answered in great detail, so I won't repeat it here. My main group consists of 3 people, which is why I have done a lot of research into what kind of games work best with 3p (as a side note: GP @ 3p is my favourite count, unfortunately I think the game itself won't match your preferences irrelevant of the number of players). So for the specifics you asked about I would like to give you some personal recommendations:

1. Mombasa
I think this game will meet a lot of your criteria, it is still a Euro game, but one of the few highly interactive ones. Only caveat might be that it still might not be the exact kind of interaction you are looking for. Personally, I think this is Pfister's best design and vastly superior to Great Western Trail (which would be a very bad fit given your preferences).

2. Deus
A big step back in complexity, however I think it has a lot of the mechanics you are looking for, namely controlled variance, area control and resource management. You can sort of think of it as Race for the Galaxy the board game (I'll have to drop this metaphor in the future, now that New Frontiers is out XD).

3. Inis
Again, 3p is my favourite player count for this game. From all of my recommendations, I'd say you should be most careful about this one. Bash-the-leader is essentially baked into the design, so the twist here is to set yourself up into a position where you can sneak away with the win. A lot of people don't get that, because they see dudes on a map, expect a fighting game and are frustrated when they fight a lot and lose. This is not a game of glorious battles a la Blood Rage, but a much more clever, unique and subtle beast.

4. Maria
Anytime someone asks for a recommendation for 3p, you will see this game mentioned and that is for good reason. It was specifically designed for that player count. Now I am no wargamer, because I usually cannot stand games that are fiddly, inelegant or in need of excessive rules referencing in the middle of a session (I've yet to find a FFG game I enjoy XD). I have only played this game once, and I immediately recognized the appeal and am looking forward to my next session of it. It has a clean rules set, a really cool combat system using poker cards and due to the way the map is set up (inspired by the historic setting), asymmetric play styles and challenges for the players. Again, it is not a game where fighting is the main focus, there will be quite a lot of fights happening, but the game itself lies in cleverly setting yourself up for them. So I'd say it is more of a game about maneuvering and positioning and knowing when (and where) to pick a fight. A downside is that it will take players getting comfortable with the system to reliably get into the time window you stated (expect 4-5 hours for your first "full game", there is also an option for an intro game, that drastically cuts down on complexity and time).

5. Brass Lancashire/Birmingham
I am by far no Brass expert, but given the choice, I would personally pick Birmingham over Lancashire. Your enjoyment of this game will depend on how much you are into economic or "train" games (whose distinguishing feature is players building a shared infrastructure). Due to their design the games tend to be highly interactive without any direct conflict and usually about who is able to exploit the shared infrastructure the most. There is no variance in the classical sense, i.e. the game won't generate random situations that you have to adopt to, it rather gives a lot of control to the players in how to shape the game. This usually means that every action anyone takes creates a chain of causal 'aftershocks' rippling onwards and you constantly have to take into account and adapt to the shifting board state. If you like the idea behind a game like this, but want a step back in complexity, have a look at Tigris & Euphrates, Splotter's The Great Zimbabwe or Hansa Teutonica.

6. A Handful of Stars
I haven't tried this game yet and it is one I am desperate for getting the chance to play, but given all your preferences, I could not resist mentioning it here, particularly since you seem to like A Few Acres of Snow (which was the initial spark for the system) so much.

I could probably go on and on, but I don't know you well enough and did not want to burden you with too much choice, rather presenting a selected choice covering a wider range of games. I think you will quickly figure out which games are to your personal liking and from there on you can also ask around on those game's forums if someone has any suggestions for similar games. If you do end up settling on your perfect mid-to-high-complexity-3p game, I'd be delighted if you let me know about it, either with a reply here or a geekmail to my account, as I am always on the lookout for those types of games

Happy grail hunting!

Edit:
Completely forgot to mention as I am not yet sure where I stand on it myself, but it might be an excellent fit for you (controlled variance, [dice] drafting, interaction): Troyes
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Ahmad Siddiqi
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I'll throw in a suggestion for Scythe here. It fulfills your three bolded criteria and has strong elements of Euro engine-building, area control and meaningful interaction (I held off of it for a while because of critiques that it could be multiplayer solitaire, but once you learn to play better you begin to understand the options for interaction and how important they can be). It lacks some of your favourite mechanics (e.g. drafting, simultaneous action selection). I find it plays well at three player. Since combat is costly, we have not really experienced 2v1 situations emerging - in our play groups at any rate.
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Olvenskol wrote:
Coryza wrote:
You are describing Three Kingdoms Redux. Go get it. Best medium to heavy weight game designed specifically for 3 players and you can usually get it for 30-40 dollars, about half of Gaia Project.



Thanks for the recommendation. I'd not heard of this game before and am going to check it out now!


Best 3 player game ever. Perhaps the best overall game ever. It’s truly a masterpiece; a marvel of board game design for sure. I absolutely love it.
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Yakslapper wrote:

- Does it have more to offer than a min/max engine builder (my main critique of Terra Mystica, the game it's meant to replace)?


That's exactly was Gaia Project is - a min/max engine builder. So no, I don't think you will like Gaia Project.

Heavy eurogames are not typically very aggressive. I would say maybe Through the Ages. The only problem is that certain types of players go all-in on military and pick on the weakest player. So Player A beats up on Player B. Then Player C doesn't want Player A to be the only one getting easy points, so he joins in. So they both pick on Player B. The newer edition has rule changes that help mitigate that a little though. And it helps if all players are equally proficient.

Someone else recommended Mombasa. It has a little more interaction (for a eurogame). You compete for area control and stock shares. You are also able to raise or lower the value of stocks based on what you and others invest in. But I don't want to oversell the player interaction. It is still a eurogame. Watch a playthrough.



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Aaron H
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bluesheep wrote:
Hi Aaron,

a lot of what I wanted to reply has already been answered in great detail, so I won't repeat it here. My main group consists of 3 people, which is why I have done a lot of research into what kind of games work best with 3p (as a side note: GP @ 3p is my favourite count, unfortunately I think the game itself won't match your preferences irrelevant of the number of players). So for the specifics you asked about I would like to give you some personal recommendations:

1. Mombasa
I think this game will meet a lot of your criteria, it is still a Euro game, but one of the few highly interactive ones. Only caveat might be that it still might not be the exact kind of interaction you are looking for. Personally, I think this is Pfister's best design and vastly superior to Great Western Trail (which would be a very bad fit given your preferences).

2. Deus
A big step back in complexity, however I think it has a lot of the mechanics you are looking for, namely controlled variance, area control and resource management. You can sort of think of it as Race for the Galaxy the board game (I'll have to drop this metaphor in the future, now that New Frontiers is out XD).

3. Inis
Again, 3p is my favourite player count for this game. From all of my recommendations, I'd say you should be most careful about this one. Bash-the-leader is essentially baked into the design, so the twist here is to set yourself up into a position where you can sneak away with the win. A lot of people don't get that, because they see dudes on a map, expect a fighting game and are frustrated when they fight a lot and lose. This is not a game of glorious battles a la Blood Rage, but a much more clever, unique and subtle beast.

4. Maria
Anytime someone asks for a recommendation for 3p, you will see this game mentioned and that is for good reason. It was specifically designed for that player count. Now I am no wargamer, because I usually cannot stand games that are fiddly, inelegant or in need of excessive rules referencing in the middle of a session (I've yet to find a FFG game I enjoy XD). I have only played this game once, and I immediately recognized the appeal and am looking forward to my next session of it. It has a clean rules set, a really cool combat system using poker cards and due to the way the map is set up (inspired by the historic setting), asymmetric play styles and challenges for the players. Again, it is not a game where fighting is the main focus, there will be quite a lot of fights happening, but the game itself lies in cleverly setting yourself up for them. So I'd say it is more of a game about maneuvering and positioning and knowing when (and where) to pick a fight. A downside is that it will take players getting comfortable with the system to reliably get into the time window you stated (expect 4-5 hours for your first "full game", there is also an option for an intro game, that drastically cuts down on complexity and time).

5. Brass Lancashire/Birmingham
I am by far no Brass expert, but given the choice, I would personally pick Birmingham over Lancashire. Your enjoyment of this game will depend on how much you are into economic or "train" games (whose distinguishing feature is players building a shared infrastructure). Due to their design the games tend to be highly interactive without any direct conflict and usually about who is able to exploit the shared infrastructure the most. There is no variance in the classical sense, i.e. the game won't generate random situations that you have to adopt to, it rather gives a lot of control to the players in how to shape the game. This usually means that every action anyone takes creates a chain of causal 'aftershocks' rippling onwards and you constantly have to take into account and adapt to the shifting board state. If you like the idea behind a game like this, but want a step back in complexity, have a look at Tigris & Euphrates, Splotter's The Great Zimbabwe or Hansa Teutonica.

6. A Handful of Stars
I haven't tried this game yet and it is one I am desperate for getting the chance to play, but given all your preferences, I could not resist mentioning it here, particularly since you seem to like A Few Acres of Snow (which was the initial spark for the system) so much.

I could probably go on and on, but I don't know you well enough and did not want to burden you with too much choice, rather presenting a selected choice covering a wider range of games. I think you will quickly figure out which games are to your personal liking and from there on you can also ask around on those game's forums if someone has any suggestions for similar games. If you do end up settling on your perfect mid-to-high-complexity-3p game, I'd be delighted if you let me know about it, either with a reply here or a geekmail to my account, as I am always on the lookout for those types of games

Happy grail hunting!

Edit:
Completely forgot to mention as I am not yet sure where I stand on it myself, but it might be an excellent fit for you (controlled variance, [dice] drafting, interaction): Troyes


Wow, this is really above and beyond what I was hoping to get from this query! It was also a timely reminder to update my BGG collection/ratings, I hadn't looked at those since 2016.

I'm very intrigued by several of your suggestions, particularly Maria, which at first glance seems to evoke a lot of my favorite GMT titles. I like Race for the Galaxy (and Roll for the Galaxy maybe even more), even if it's a little "light" for the slot I'm hoping to fill, so I will definitely give Deus a closer look as well.

It's true I like A Few Acres of Snow a lot, as well as several of the GMT Twilight Struggle clones (Labyrinth, 1989), maybe I should have added "battle card driven" to my list of preferred mechanics.

I love Blood Rage, even though you're right in saying it can't be accused of being subtle. What I enjoy is that I consider it to be a worker placement game cunningly disguised as a war game, which wrong-foots a lot of players initially. I also commend it for breaking the worker placement mold of meeples and cones on a map - I don't hate euros, but I've often wondered whether they really need to look as "dry" as they often do.

This has given me a lot to research, test and possibly buy, so I'm very happy with what I got out of this thread. Thank you all again. I will definitely let you know if I find the perfect mid-to-high complexity 3p game. In the meantime, on the lower end of the complexity scale I'll just throw in that we've had a lot of fun with Libertalia at 3 players, which elegantly avoids most of the pitfalls in balance as far as I'm concerned.

*edited for error in name of a game*
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Kevin De Schutter
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After Reading your plea, I was thinking about Brass as well, especially the 3 player preference and medium/high complexity. You can play both versions in One gaming session of 3-4 hours.
 
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CardBoard Bear

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the publisher of Gaia Project recently released Magnastorm. it has some similarities with Gaia Project, but it's easier, and it has additional mechanisms like drafting a commander tile, and a little bit of extra area control (you get extra resources if you have more labs in a sector). Rahdo has a runthrough that shows how it plays
 
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James Smith
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I think Gaia Project actually plays best at 3P.

However I think I prefer Brass: Birmingham as it's less complicated and GP is more of a puzzle than a game, where the interaction is limited to blocking and charging power, while in Brass, due to the player-driven economy, your opponents create both roadblocks and opportunities for you.

GP is prob my favourite of the heavier euros though (much better than things like Great Western Trail, for example) , I really like network building in games and the variability of setup and asymmetry of the factions adds a lot of replay value. Plus the solo is nearly as good as an actual 2p game (again, because it's more of a multiplayer 'puzzle' than a highly interactive game).
 
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Jon Kern
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This may be unrelated, but I think Brass from an optimization perspective is harder than GP because you are front loaded with the loan decision.
 
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