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Subject: Expanding small collection - help, please? rss

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Dan
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EDIT: I've added games based on the opinions below and given the games already on the list checks and minuses for recommendations and dud-warnings. I've also added more information to help readers understand my gaming group.

OP

I've read reviews for everything on this list and more and I'm ready for some direct advice. I broke down the categories/mechanics of games that I want to put into my collection. Currently I have Agricola, RtFG, Princes of Florence, Shadows over Camelot Puerto Rico, and access to borrow Power Grid, Carcassonne, Fury of Dracula, and a few others.

I'm pretty sure I will order from Boards & Bits (good idea?) because it looks like they have the best prices and a good deal for a big order like mine. I was planning to spend $150-200 to make my collection more accessible to other friends and a bit more varied.

My main group consists of:

ME - high school teacher. I like games with theme, but also hard decisions. Tactical thinker. Decide by "conditions on the ground."

SISTER - can persuade her to play Agricola when she's not busy. Will try anything, but not a board game geek like me or my

BROTHER - boy genius. law student. competitive. unhappy when losing--always sees the best strategy first.

FRIEND - sometimes my buddy comes over. he's smarter than even boy genius, but plays games less regularly. God save us when he figures out the mechanics.

MOM - what a sport! 25 games of Agricola and she finally cracked 30 points! Easily persuaded to play Agricola and PR but shies away from RtFG.

GF - likes rummy. board games are not her thing, but she says she'll try...

The Categories

Abstract

Mr. Jack $27 (+ + + +)
Girlfriend approves. This one's coming home especially with all the thumbs up here.

Neuroshima Hex! $31 (+)
Double dips in categories (post-apoc). Looks fun and fast. I don't have great gaming stamina, so anything that's under an hour but strategic is a big plus. Still undecided after reading...maybe later.

Blokus $ ?
Will definitely buy at some point, but not yet. I have enough abstracts on the list already.

Ingenious $26
Not sold completely on this yet.

Hive$21
Some day I'll get this, but the girl friend hates spiders--so maybe not yet :(

Blockers! (added)
I've played this once. It's interesting, but not compelling. I may get it one day but it probably won't make this list.

Tigris & Euphrates (added)
This was originally on the list under the category BGG Top 10, but was too expensive, and although it looks great, unlikely to be a hit with my group. Some day...

Ra (added)
It's not abstract except per se, and a great suggestion, but I have an auction game in Princes. I should have bought Ra instead of Princes, but I assumed Princes would go over well with the gf since she studied art there. Boy was I wrong!

Co-op

Red November $17 (+)
Still divided on this. I haven't found a co-op my group likes. The answer is usually obvious and there's one or two ways to victory. Red November just looks FUN, if brutal. More RP elements to it than Pandemic.

Space Alert $ ?
If this were for sale in English, I'd buy it.

Pandemic $22 (+ + +) (- -)
Would never work with my group. I think the game needs more personal responsibility and maybe less transparency between players if it were to work for us. It's still not out of the running. What if players could only discuss cards when in the same city? I dunno. Seems like the shine would wear off after a few plays...

Noob-Friendly

Ticket to Ride: Europe $33
Gf loves rummy. Her family loves rummy. Pretty trains. 'nuff said. European version or US. Probably Euro. We just visited :)

Alhambra $25
Going to borrow and try out.

Thebes $37
Golden Geek'd and maybe my mom could pull out a win (Agricola has not been kind to her). I really want something my mom can be good at! Her stamina for losing may be up!! HELP!

Stone Age$28
This is mildly amusing to me on BSW but just atrociously slow IRL. Not buying.

War Game

I'm no wargamer, but I'd like to try it out. I shirked at the rules for Axis&Allies, but I think I'd be ready to try that one out again (a friend owns it). Length is important to me though, and that's why M44 and CoH stand out. I love depth, but more often I have an hour to game on nights, not two or three. M44 would be more inviting to my non gaming friends with models and simpler rules, but I don't know if I'm willing to trade off for that. CoH looks great but I remember reading it has some gamey mechanics with CAPS and doesn't have much historical value(?). If CC:Europe played in less than an hour, this would be a non-issue and I can see myself getting it eventually if I like this lighter side of wargaming. CC:Ancients and Hannibal are just as appealing to me (I teach Latin and Roman history), but time length is still an issue with these.

Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42 $50
Leaning toward this one for its balance between ease-of-learning and component-y goodness

Memoir '44 $33 (called "silly and random")
Looks campy, but I think I could get my gf's little brother to play this instead of waste his time on WoW.

Commands & Colors: Ancients $45
Mmmmh...blocks...and line formations (I've played custom videos of Rome:Total War w/realism mods for my class;I can see using this similarly)

Combat Commander: Europe $45
Maybe the end game?

Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage $50
Looks great...I want to play it before buying though.


Other themes/mechanics/categories I considered but nixed because there was something better or the itch could be scratched by another game in the above list:

Classical, Tile-Laying, Top 10 BGG, Card Game, Chromed-Out!, 2p/Gf game
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J
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Alhambra - Too much luck of the draw for my taste, but a lot of people like it.

If you're not a wargamer, definitely try any of these before buying. I played CC:A and was bored out of my mind.
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Marshall Miller
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Mr. Jack
Hive
Pandemic
TtR
Memoir '44

All really good games. Skewed towards 2 player, but that will ensure it gets to the table the easiest.
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Stefan Daniels
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jarredscott78 wrote:
I played CC:A and was bored out of my mind.


Sacrilege! Blasphemy! :D

Goes to show that not all games are for everyone and definately something to take into consideration. Also, the fact that you appear to have a finger on the pulse of your GF likes-and-dislikes concerning gaming genres/types will definately help you if you decide to try and introduce new types of games; there are many dozens of hybrid, easier games that can lead into more complex games with a wider range of variable mechanics.

Good luck, and have fun.
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Curt Carpenter
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I don't get it.
Quote:
I plan to play every game before purchasing.

a) Then why are you asking? Why not just play them and decide? You don't trust your own opinion?
b) How do you have access to play whatever you want before buying? I wish I had that.
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Russ Williams
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Lots of good sounding choices in your abstract and wargame lists.
Mr. Jack is not really abstract, I'd say. But it's great, however you class it. One of the few games I've bought recently without playing first, based purely on reading lots of reviews.
Neuroshima Hex is certainly worth checking out. We've played it a zillion times.
Hive is neat, although seems to have a problem with ties when 2 strong players play.
Blokus is classic; I play Blokus Duo (2-player version) more often, though, and it's one of my favorite games, period.
I recently got into CoH and Hannibal and like them both! Hannibal is longer and more epic. M'44 is indeed much more silly and random, but could be fun.

curtc wrote:
I don't get it.
Quote:
I plan to play every game before purchasing.

a) Then why are you asking? Why not just play them and decide? You don't trust your own opinion?

Perhaps to decide which ones are most likely to be worth playing to test? Triage...

Quote:
b) How do you have access to play whatever you want before buying? I wish I had that.

I play most games before buying also. Friends have games. Game clubs have games. Conventions have games. Better game stores have demo games. Many games are playable online as well, though I prefer playing the actual physical boardgame.
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Curt Carpenter
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All are worth playing to test. (Taking a leap of faith on the wargames, of which I've only played M44)

BTW, regarding the Stone Age comment: With very few exceptions games are atrociously slow when played face to face compared with playing on BSW. BSW has that effect. Stone Age face-to-face is actually quite reasonable if you ignore how much faster it is on BSW. I know this can be hard, though. For example I have no interest in buying Dominion for this reason (BSW about 3-4x faster).
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Dan
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Quote:
I don't get it.
Quote:
Quote:
I plan to play every game before purchasing


a) Then why are you asking? Why not just play them and decide? You don't trust your own opinion?
b) How do you have access to play whatever you want before buying? I wish I had that.


Let me rephrase: I hope to play every game before purchase, and I've seen several at some of the local gaming clubs. I may not, so for your sanity, imagine I was going to pull the trigger without having played.

edit: I agree with you on the Dominion play, but it's fast enough at the table. Stone Age is just so slow as everyone resolves and you wait. With Agricola I can at least plot my next moves.
 
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Chris Pua
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What sort of games have worked well with your friends? Do you regularly play with different groups of friends that have different tastes/varying competitiveness?

Of those you've listed, I've played Ingenious (travel), Blokus (Trigon), Stone Age, and Pandemic.

Both Ingenious and Blokus are great abstracts that can be taught and played quickly. Blokus has a tendency to be a little more cutthroat from my experience.

Stone Age with 4 people can take anywhere from 60-90 min., depending on who you're playing with. Maybe 2 hours if you're teaching it to first-time players. But, there's enough strategy for the Euro-gaming crowd, and the aesthetics and dice-rolling mechanics have gone over really well with my more casual gaming friends.

If you're friends are competitive, I'd agree that Pandemic may not work as well. Depending on how you play, it can be more of a teamwork "exercise" or a puzzle. However, I've yet to try playing this with restricted communication rules, which I've read can spice things up a bit.

If you can fit them in your budget and they're available, I'd also recommend Ra and Traders of Genoa. Ra is quick to teach and very accessible, but fun for just about any type of gamer. Best part is that it plays in less than an hour with no player downtime. I think Rio Grande might be reprinting it soon. Traders of Genoa is my favorite Euro-game. It is Settlers with more strategy, less luck, more haggling, no downtime, and oftentimes, surprising outcomes. If everyone at the table is ready to bargain, I don't think you can go wrong with it.

Hope that helps.
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Aubrey Miles
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A lot of good picks for a growing collection there. Here's my take on whether or not you're considering "duds."

Mr. Jack was one of my most recent additions. It's a nice compact package, isn't difficult to figure out, and we've enjoyed it. I have a lot of games for two, and I love how this game doesn't feel redundant in my collection.

Ticket to Ride was in my collection but I traded it away. I don't know if one of the other versions offers a much different experience, but I found the game to just be a task. As far as gateway games go, I find Carcassonne more amusing and actually spring Ra on a lot of my inexperienced groups. I vote TTR a dud, but that's just me.

Pandemic is also an interesting game, but it's no Arkham Horror or other epic co-op experience. It's really a multiplayer puzzle. Still, it's inexpensive and I think a wide range of people will enjoy it, so I don't think this is a dud.

So, just a few of my opinions for you.
Good luck, and enjoy your games!
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Preston Fuller
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Mr Jack

Having played Pandemic and Red Novemeber I would go with Pandemic. Have you playd Shadows? That may give you the player responsability you are looking for

Noob: TtR is the way to go if you have Rummy players.

War: A&A Guadacanal and Battle of the Bulge are actually very well designed games. M44 is fun, light and very easy to learn. CoH is not as simple to teach as they advertise but once you get it, it is a solid game.

An often overlooked and light wargame isViktory II

Enjoy.
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Dan
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Thanks all for the suggestions so far.

Mr. Jack and TtR are almost definitely coming home. They are the games my girl friend responded to with the most enthusiasm--not a great deal, but perceptibly different than the others.

RE: Shadows (over Camelot?): we own this and have played it twice. We couldn't get past the feeling that it was playing itself and in our second game I couldn't bring myself to betray the team before we won. It left us unsatisfied.

You have rekindled my interest in Pandemic. I've been hot and cold for this game every other week. If I can slip it in, maybe I will. Thanks again for the suggestions. I suppose with how torn I am about a wargame that I may need to try to play them before buying.
 
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Manuel Serpa
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Recommend: Hive, TtR Switzerland if you are regularly going to play with 2-3 players, Commands and Colors Ancients.

Hive is so clever that gamers and non-gamers alike can appreciate it quickly. Commands and Colors over Memoir because wooden blocks go over better than plastic tanks with some who will be embarrassed to play with plastic toy soldiers.

Strongly vote against Stone Age as it is a dice fest with some down time between turns. I am in the minority on this but found myself very bored and eager for it to end. If you want a worker placement game then go for Tribune.

I must also point out that any good game collection must include at least one Martin Wallace game! Liberte or Brass?
 
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Eric Jome
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The co-op du jour seems to be Pandemic... to be honest with you, as nice as it is, I just don't really think it is the best. It's pretty dry. On the surface, with just a few plays, a person is going to be seduced by its charm, but I just don't see it holding together over the long haul.

See, Arkham Horror succeeds as a co-op by being complex and colorful, giving you things to enjoy even when sliding down the Great Old One's throat. So...

I totally recommend Red November as a co-op over Pandemic. This game is really how co-ops should be done, full of tension, color, and fun. If a person were to own and love Arkham Horror, but were looking for a shorter, faster co-op with a lot of the same fun and flavor, Red November would be it.
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Dan
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I forgot to mention we have Arkham Horror. I want to love that game, but we never have the time to play through it all. Thanks for your suggestion.
 
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Blokus Trigon is the Blokus you want. Plays very well with 1, 2, 3, and 4P.
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Jimmy Okolica
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For what it's worth:

Abstract:
Blokus - great abstract; quick to teach, quick to play, newcomers can feel like they are in it for most of the game; best of all the pretty colors attract non-gamers and kids.

Attika - personally, I'd place most tile-placement (TP) games as abstracts; this is one of the lighter TP games; quick to teach, quick to play and scales well from 2 - 4

Tigris & Euphrates / Samurai - a bit heavier on the TP games but they are outstanding.

Coop:
I have to disagree with you on Shadows Over Camelot; while I'm not crazy about playing it with a small crowd, with a large crowd it has the best player interaction of any cooperative I've played (excepting Arkham Horror which just takes too long).

I love Pandemic but as a solo game. As a cooperative game it has too much potential for one player directing the others.

Noobs:
In addition to Blokus and Attika, I'd recommend Settlers (even though it's not my favorite, it is a great gateway game -- the problem is moving my non-gamer friends from Settlers to something else) and Dominion (my current favorite game).

While I wouldn't list it as a Gateway game, Niagara is also a really good game for attracting noobs. It is colorful, looks different, is quick to teach and not too long to play (about an hour). At the same time, there is no luck in the game and played with a large enough group (4 or 5), it plays well.

My last suggestion on a noob game is something like Loot. While it isn't my favorite, every non-gamer I've introduced it to has enjoyed it and asked for it again. I've just picked up Great Wall of China which seems to have some of the same mechanics but is better balanced.

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Abstract/Light-(hive is good but only 2-player)
Blockers!- great abstract, 2-player is better than Hive IMHO
Tsuro- plays 2-8, great for the money, fast play

Abstract/Awesome
Tigris & Euphrates- my only 10 rating, everyone should own

Co-op
Shadows over Camelot- better than your listed games, added traitor factor makes this best co-op

Noob
Ticket to Ride: Europe- better than regular TtR
Blockers!- doubles as filler, quick
Loot- fun quick, light, cheap
China- area control, quick start
Fearsome Floors- get your buddies eaten before you
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Dan
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I've added almost everyone's suggestions and improved the format.
 
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J Robins
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oeolycus wrote:


Hive$21
Some day I'll get this, but the girl friend hates spiders--so maybe not yet :(


I like spiders, but when I order Hive, I want my arachnophobic friends to try it. So, I will make a hexagonal ladybug sticker to place on the reverse side of the spider tiles.

I just looked on the Hive page to see if someone beat me to this idea. Here's a child-friendly version: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/32347

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Seth Brown
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If your brother and mom don't like losing, Pandemic may be worth a second look.

Yet another nod for Mr. Jack, a truly unique little game, but not really an abstract.
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Bartosz Trzaskowski

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oeolycus wrote:
Hive$21
Some day I'll get this, but the girl friend hates spiders--so maybe not yet


Not YET? If You're waiting for your GF to stop hating spiders - DON'T. Believe me, it will never happen (that's the reason I also never bought hive).

Unless You were referring to a future without your current GF... devil
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Dan
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I called Mr. Jack an abstract because I read a review that said it had a chess-like feel. At any rate, I look forward to playing it, even if it's only an abstraction.

Quote:
Unless You were referring to a future without your current GF... :devil:

Haha, that's a riot! Not what I meant, but still hilarious. I meant maybe in my next game order. You've got a wicked mind Mr. Trzaskowski!
 
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Panagiotis Stogiannos
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You might also want to consider Blokus 3D (or Rumis [though I think the two games differ, but that's another post altogether]) for a slightly harder challenge.

We play TtR (all versions) and Alhambra quite regularly and they are very nice light-weight games with some luck but still room for strategy. Of your list I think that these two will fare the best for the group you describe.

If you want to win your gf over to board gaming, may I suggest you try and locate a pretty inexpensive copy of shear panic [I don't know how much it sells for where u live, got mine from GreenKnightGames in the UK (shameless plug but Alan is a nice guy and got really A++ service to Greece)]. This game is probably one of the most beautiful games to look at, but underneath the pretty guise lies a nice abstract strategy game that can accommodate up to 4
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Seth Brown
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panlia wrote:

If you want to win your gf over to board gaming, may I suggest you try and locate a pretty inexpensive copy of shear panic [I don't know how much it sells for where u live, got mine from GreenKnightGames in the UK (shameless plug but Alan is a nice guy and got really A++ service to Greece)]. This game is probably one of the most beautiful games to look at, but underneath the pretty guise lies a nice abstract strategy game that can accommodate up to 4


I just got Shear Panic and have to agree; the pieces are adorable and should easily win over family members who appreciate anything cute.
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