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Subject: Fairly new board gamer...Need some ideas rss

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Tom Ray
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Hello all,

I recently was made aware of the fact that the best board games are not for sale at Wal-mart or Target. For this realization, I am thankful. Unfortunately, I am a bit overwhelmed. I have spent a lot of time (waaaay too much actually) looking at review after review trying to find games that fit what I'm looking for. I don't mind telling you that this has been difficult. It seems for every "This game is great" review, there are usually a few "Actually I hate the game" reviews soon to follow. I totally understand this of course because different people have different tastes, but I think I can save myself some time and headaches if I just explain the most important facets I am looking for and can get some board game veterans to try to fit my criteria. So here goes, hopefully this isn't too much. Here are the attributes I am looking for, all suggestions are welcome and appreciated:

1. Preferably, the game can be played with a minimum of 2,3 or 4 players. All this means is I don't want games that require six, seven, or 20 players to play most effectively. Please give preference to games that can suit a variety of numbers, like San Juan or Citadels.

2. The game is not two player only, e.g. Lost Cities card game.

3. The game can be completed in 2 hours or less. From what I've read this can be tricky, as different players seem to be able to complete games in different amounts of time, but error on the side of caution for me if you could. If you can finish the game in two hours but have to play exceptionally fast to do it, just leave it off the list if you could.

4. Good deal of player interaction. San Juan could use a little more in my opinion. Citadels seems to have more but I'm looking for even more than that if possible. I've looked at auction games and trading games and think these might suit this need well. My family really likes to negotiate although the games you list do not have to be strictly negotiating games. --- P.S. I know this kind of makes #3 a little harder.

5. Has a "take that" element. I've noticed many of the veterans of BGG seem to consider this an uncivilized, rudimentary aspect of games which caters only to "Americans" or "idiots" or whatever. Well, call me an American idiot then, and throw me a bone. I'd like to be able to stick it to an opponent in this game.

6. It cannot be overly difficult to learn. I know this is also tricky because different people have varying opinions on this so I'll try to help you out, solely from what I've read. Puerto Rico, too difficult. Caylus, too difficult. Believe me, I would love to try these games but I won't have anyone willing to play them with me. I taught some of my family San Juan the other day and they liked it. Consider games with this level of difficulty to be close to the bar. They could handle a little more I'm sure, but too much more and they won't be willing to spend the time to learn it.

7. Is not overly luck driven. Also an opinion, but do your best.

8. Does not take super long to set up or take down.

Well, there you have it. I will tell you that I own Carcassonne (with two expansions), Lost Cities, San Juan, and Citadels. I enjoy them all a lot, just keep in mind that it is partly because of what these games lack that I am writing this post. I want the next game I buy to scratch an itch these don't. The three games I have looked at a lot recently are Stone age, Dominion, and Genoa. Feel free to offer thoughts on those or any other games you think match the criteria. Just keep in mind, the main reason my criteria has to be so tight is because of the people I will be playing with. They are quick to turn down a game for the above reasons. I know no game will fit every need and am not looking for any miracle, just some help. I figured it'd be easier to flat out ask using specifics then wade through all the reviews that I get so easily lost in.

Thanks,

Tom
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Luke Warren
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El Grande fits most of your criteria, but lacks the negotiation aspect. Easy mechanics, but deep level of play. Under two hours. Area control game, so there is conflict (i.e. taking over areas others control). Virtually no luck at all in the game, other than what cards come out. But all the cards will be good for you, so there is no "bad" luck.

Very easy to set up and break down. Ideal with 4-5 players, but three works too. Not two players.

There is some player interaction, as you are trying to take over as many territories in Spain as possible, but of all your criteria, this is the one where El Grande lacks the most. But it fits all your other criteria nearly perfectly.

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Marshall Miller
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Stone Age is probably what you are looking for in a first game. Bohnanza has good trading and interaction, as well as being cheap and just the right length. Saint Petersburg is another fave for good scaling and just the right amount of play time. Nexus Ops, Hansa, and China are all great games for this play time/weight/cost/scaling.
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Greg Nobody
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I think that Stone Age, Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride would fit all your needs well..... I would also get the 1910 expansion if you go with TTR... Have Fun!!!

Edit: By the way you can play all three of these online to get a feel for them as well as some others you have listed like Dominion and more that would fit the bill.....
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Bryan Maxwell
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Ra

1. Plays 2-5
2. See 1
3. Played for the first time with 5 players (all new to the game) last week and it took about an hour
4. Each player has their own board, the interaction comes from the bidding and choosing when to start an auction.
5. Eh. Again, starting an auction to try and force your opponent into a difficult decision is as close as this gets.
6. Easy peasy. Once players get the scoring down, it's gravy.
7. The tiles that get bid on and purchased are drawn from a bag, so there's luck there. Everyone gets equal opportunity to bid on everything though.
8. Quick setup and tear down.

Another off the top of my head is Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game, just to go in a totally different direction from RA. Either of these games would fit your lifestyle needs.
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mark camp
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Genoa is wonderful, has lots and lots of negotiating, and some "take that" opportunities.

Bohnanza is also a lot of fun with trades constantly being negotiated, but not really much "take that' other than refusing to trade.

Sitting Ducks is a really fun little game all about the "take that" element, plays in about 30 min. sometimes less, and scales 3-6 players well.

Drakon is another one that gets mixed reviews here, but that my group finds to be a lot of fun. 3-6 players, plays in about an hour, sometimes less, and with 4 or 6 you have the option (but not requirement) of team play. Lots and lots of interaction and screwage, limited negotiation in that "please make the dragon eat him, not me" kind of way.

Cosmic Encounter may be another good option. The game mechanics force you to attack others, but also invite negotiation for alliances, and in some cases, real time negotiatins for a peaceful settlement of conflict. Lots of cool combos between the races and power cards, and plays well with 3-5 players.

Lastly, there's munchkin, not one of my favorites, but not terrible. Goes up to 6 players, and is nothing BUT screwage and negotiations. Comes in many flavors, just pick which genre you'd like to mock, the main problem is leader bashing at the very end of the game can make it drag much longer than it should. On the other hand, a clever player with the right cards can avoid that. Involves luck in the random card draw but cheating is legal (if you get caught you have to fix it), so you can alleviate your bad luck if you're clever.
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Adrian Qually
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Well, it sounds like you want to broaden your horizons, maybe try some new game mechanics. I think you might like Taluva. Its got classic tile-laying goodness and a pretty big take that element. San Marco might be up your alley, and introduce a good new game mechanic as well. If you want to go off the beaten path you might try Fury of Dracula. Its difficult to understand from the outset, but once you do understand it, its very easy to teach. Just download the universal head ruleset from here. Another variable role game that is good is Galactic Emperor. It combines a bunch of game elements I like in a good package with nice rules. I would also recommend Thebes, Kingsburg and Domaine. Good luck!
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Walt
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Stone Age might be a little too low interaction for you, but it's a good starting game for worker placement and economic engine type games. Ra is an excellent recommendation: no negotiation but a lot of other interaction. Bohnanza works for some groups and not for others; if it seems to be not working, look on the game page for some of the variants.

Vikings plays 2-4. It's less interactive than the name sounds--it's not a pillaging game--but it has some nice interaction and forcing of the opposing player(s).

Great Wall of China plays 2-5. It's quite interactive. It's one of a number of games by Reiner Knizia with similar mechanics--I think this is the best. Essentially you play cards to claim points, and if you have the strongest claim when play returns to you, you get the points.

TransAmerica or Trans Europa with the Vexation expansion is quite interactive, using the Vexation pieces to block opponents.

These are all pretty simple, easy to learn, and inexpensive games. Good games to try out to get your feet wet so you can tell us what you like and dislike.

However, the best way to go is to try before you buy. Most people can find a local gaming group or game store where they can try out other people's games to see what they like. If you tell us where you live, maybe we can offer some more specific advice. I suggest you fill in the information in your user profile. If you feel uncomfortable about being too specific, put in your county instead of your city (or do something similar if you're not in the US).
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I think these are all likely to fit you and your group, Tom:
Oltre Mare
Meuterer (esp for #4, 5, 8)
Charioteer
Taluva (Carc with a mean streak)
Nexus Ops
Vom Kap bis Kairo
Stone Age
Through the Desert
Bohnanza
Condottiere
Enemy Chocolatier (another mean one, and cheap, too!)
Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe
Blue Moon City

Be sure to check out sme video reviews of these: besides playing them, it's the best way to get to know a game before purchase.

Welcome to BGG!
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Patrick McInally
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I think Genoa is an excellent choice and you should certainly try it. St Petersburg was mentioned but, while I like it a ton, there's very little play interaction. Catan has everything you want but quite a bit of luck -- still, there's a good reason it's so popular.

It's a bit hard to find these days, but you might want to try Keythedral. It feels similar to Settlers but without the dice/luck... I found it a bit dry, but it might be just what you're looking for. Another option might be The Pillars of the Earth.

Lastly, check out Thebes -- it's not really nailing any of your criteria all at once... but this game came out of left field for me and I was shocked by how much I really enjoyed it. It's excellent, and one I've been wanting to play again for quite awhile (without getting the chance).

Lastly I'll echo Tall Walt: see if you can find a game group or FLGS that'll let you try out some games before you commit to buying. Best way to do it, IMO.
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Miguel
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Must second El Grande. Fits all your criteria except number of players, which leans heavily towards 4-5.

Try Tikal / Mexica for other deeper games with simple rules, but that also scale well.

Genoa is a great game, but in some groups it will last longer than 2 hours.I'm the Boss! is a fun negotiation game that is right up your alley, but it's quite hard to find. Chinatown is also a good negotiation game that is shorter and simpler than Genoa.

RoboRally is fun and chaos in a box.
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Ken Thibodeau
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Another vote for Bohnanza. This game came to mind for everything you are looking for
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matt tolman
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Ticket to Ride has been mentioned, and I agree it fits your criteria well. I just wanted to say don't get TTR:Europe, as it seems to be a little more friendly and a little less "take that"

I'll also second, third, and fourth RA. Amazing game, simple rules. It might not be immediately apparent, but it has lots of take that once you get good at the game.

Something I'm considering here is that you mentioned you are playing with your family. As such I think you should definitely get TTR. As far as I'm concerned it's the quintessential family game, never at the top of my list as a gamer, but it's just so universally appealing that you really can't go wrong. At the very least try it.

Something else I'll recommend is not buying a lot more games all at once, but instead play the games you buy several times and then get 1 or 2 more and enjoy those for a while and so on. When I first started in this hobby I played puerto Rico constantly and always wanted to play. Now I have 100 games to scratch all my gaming "itches" and I go to the bookcase wanting to play a game, and nothing really seems good enough. The games you are being exposed to here on this site get better with more plays for the most part, so I suggest taking it slow, you'll enjoy your gaming more.
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Jeff Miller
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There's a reason Ticket to Ride and Catan are known as two of the best introductory games out.

It's because they both match every one of your criteria as close as you'll probably find.
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Brian Foster
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Several wise Geeks have suggested Bohnanza and I strongly agree. It's an excellent game with trading, bartering and sometimes backstabbing! Lots of fun social interaction-we laugh a lot when we play it. As long as you play with people who don't get their feelings hurt easily, it would be a very good choice. There is some luck and some screwage present, but there is also enough strategy to keep things interesting and not feel too luck driven.

It plays well with 3-7 which would give you a lot of flexibility. There is also a 2-player version, which is a duel between the two players. This does not have the player interaction but it usually produces close competitive games. We like both versions a lot and think of Bohnanza a two different games. Bohnanza has been out for almost 10 years-that should tell you something about how much fun it is to play!
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I'm already seeing the first 2 recommendations I'd make on the responses (ticket to ride & Ra).
I'd also like to recommend Acquire, but take a look at the rules / times to see if this breaks your rule 6. Most of the above games should clock in at an hour to 2, as long as you don't have someone with what is called around here analysis paralysis.

ra's a great bidding game, but requires a min 3 people.

El grande may push time limits, and to me seems a bit dry (probably from lack of attempts to play it).

ttr can be played as gently or as cutthroat as your group wants to play it. we've seen both ends of the spectrum.

bohnanza is another great trading / resource game. not so much direct effects on other players (except for the trading).

the luck factor for most of these are minimized; there is always some in most of these games.

setup is easy to moderate for all (hardest would be aquire).

1 players (2-4)
2 see #1
3 time < 2 hours
4 interaction
5 tit/tat
6 low complexity
7 low luck
8 setup

keep in mind most games take about 10-30 minutes longer the first time you play them, as you're explaining how everything works.
that being said, ttr is about a 40m game, acquire 1.5h, ra 50m, bohnanza 1hr.

I was going to recommend fist of dragonstones as well (i thought it fit well alongside citadels) but see that that game is 3 player min, and is OOP. mine's on semi permanent loan, and need to find a new one.

the two i'd go with, would be ticket to ride & / Acquire. To me fits the bill here, but scratches different itches.

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Seems we've narrowed your choices right down, huh?
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I think what you are looking for is what is called a "gateway game". I have a few suggestions, as I have a group of "newbie ameritrash playing" people I play with.

Dominion (not really a board game, but cards. Easy to learn and quick) This game can be pretty "cutthroat" with the right setup.
Ticket to ride
Settlers of Catan
Zombies! (if you like that sort of thing)
Fluxx (again more cards sorry)
Red neck Life (funny adult game)

Also about the reviews. There is always someone who isnt going to like a game. That is a good thing! I don't think I would come to this site if all it had was all positive reviews on games. I want to know the down sides and measure if I think they are enough not to buy the game. Also, people can sometimes be fickle on here. Just tack away from each review what you want, don't focus to much on the negatives.

Good luck and have fun!
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Martin Manning
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Chicago Express could suit you well.

1 & 2.) Plays with 2-6.2p might not be great, but from 3 up it's brilliant.
3.) It plays in about an hour.
4.) There is a strong negotiating aspect to the game, with several auctions, but also on-the-side deal making - this is highly interactive.
5.) The take-that element is there too - you can buy stock in a company and then run it into the ground in order to hurt the bigger stockholders.
6.) The game is very simple to explain, but still involves a lot of complex strategy. The rules basically amount to explaining the three different actions you can take (auction stock, expand a route, improve a space), plus how the Chicago Express company works. It's easy - trust me.
7.) In fact, Chicago Express involves no luck at all.
8.) Setup involves placing the board and company charters, putting stock on the charters, and counting out some money. Takes about 2 minutes. Pack up is just as quick.

As for Dominion, Stone Age, and Genoa: The level of interaction in Dominion is about the same as Citadels, maybe a smidge less. Stone Age takes a little while to set up, involves quite a bit of luck, and player interaction is limited to blocking, but I still think it's a great game. I haven't played Genoa, but if you're considering that, you might also like to check out Puerto Rico
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I second Dominion and Small World. Both are easy to learn and can be played hundreds of times without playing with the same set up. I don't know why I didn't think of them, especially since you mentioned Dominion--too much gaming recently.

Dominion (2-4 players) is rather hard to describe well, but it's easy to play, plays quickly, and has some of the take-that you want. (Around here, that is often called "screwage".) Read some reviews of it: I can't think of a short summary that won't make it sound boring--which it isn't.

Small World (2-5p)--you know how these new games are different from the usual games?--think of Risk changed to be no-luck, no player elimination, and finish in about a hour every time--no see-saw, lasts-forever games. Small World is very much direct combat, though it doesn't feel quite the same as Risk since you go through a few different "colors" each game.

I considered Ticket to Ride, but I don't feel it really fits your criteria. (Even though I own TtR: Europe.)

I forgot to comment earlier that especially Caylus but also Puerto Rico are very easy games to learn if you have a good teacher. Caylus is pretty easy to learn from the manual; PR is not. This is where finding a local gaming group will be invaluable.
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Dean Walls
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I definitely agree with everyone who suggested:

Small World
Dominion (and Dominion: Intrigue)
Transamerica (especially with Vexation)
Bohnanza
Blue Moon City

and just wanted to add a few more for you.

Blokus - I can explain this game in under 30 seconds, it plays great with 2, 3, or 4 players, and has a good "take that" feel. It's very aesthetically pleasing and draws new players in.

6 Nimmt/Slide 5 - A great little card game that's quick and with a nice little "take that" feel.

Mall of Horror - I think that the voting in this game might satisfy your "auction" requirement and this one has great interaction. We've had a lot of fun with this game.

With regards to your 3 choices, I can't really comment on Genoa (haven't played it yet) and have already commented on Dominion (love it!), but I will say that I'm not a huge fan of Stone Age. I find it to be a great gateway type game in terms of its play, but the scoring is most often all about the cards and unless you tell new players of this strategy, there can be quite a discouraging spread in the points. It is a very popular game and many will disagree with me, but I never request this one anymore.

Good luck finding your games!
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This may sound a little out in left field, but see if you can trade for 13 Dead End Drive. It plays with 2-4 players, is under 2 hours (more like an hour), has lots of player interaction (everyone can move everyone else's piece, and everyone can change the portrait on the mantle), there's definitely a "take that" element, because you kill off other players' pieces under traps, like the suit of armor falling on them, it's not difficult to learn, it involves rolling dice but you can move any piece, so you can choose which one to move, and doesn't take that long to set up or take down. Maybe not the serious Eurogame you were hoping for, but it jumped out at me as fitting your criteria.

Condottiere:
Player range - check
Under two hours - check
Lots of player interaction - check
Take that element - check. Certain cards definitely affect the hand in an immediate (and sometimes devastating) way.
Not difficult to learn - check. Bigger numbers are more powerful than smaller numbers. There are only a few cards with special powers to learn.
Low-ish luck - check. You're dealt a big hand of cards, and choose which to play.
Easy to setup - check.

Quoridor:
Player range - check
Under two hours - yup, by a long shot.
Lots of player interaction - check.
Take that element - yep (walls)
Not difficult to learn - check
Low luck - double check
Easy to setup - check

Catan
Player range - doesn't play well with 2, but otherwise, yes.
Under two hours - yes
Lots of player interaction - has trading, stealing from other players, blocking other players
Take that element - robber
Not difficult to learn - you should be comfortable with it first, but pretty teach-able from someone who knows it. Have it set up and ready to go.
Low luck - the die roll makes this a little more luck driven than some, but still worth looking into.
Easy to setup - not bad after you've done it once. Practice by yourself, and have it setup the first time, if possible.

Taluva
An excellent suggestion that passes the test with flying colors.

Stone Age
A good suggestion, may not have as much "take that" as you would like. Has dice for gathering resources, but you mitigate that by how many people you place there.

Ticket to Ride with 1910 - good suggestion.

Torres - passes the test, has interesting pieces, seems like it would fit just right.

Tsuro - plays 2-8 in about 20 minutes with lots of interaction, minimal setup, and very few rules to learn!

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Also check out

Cave Troll - a euro game with a fantasy theme
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James Palmer
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Elasund: The First City

It's sort of similar to Settlers of Catan, but takes away most of the things I don't like, and adds lots of things that I do like. It is quite confrontational with lots of "take that" moments, and scales well from 2 to 4 players. I don't think I've ever played a game of it that went over 2 hours.

Domaine

I think this game also fits into your description. A territory building game, where you're constantly pushing into each other's territory and stealing it away - very confrontational, a fairly small amount of luck, scales well from 2-4 players and takes a short amount of time to play.

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Bill Bass
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My suggestions:

First, I need to reinforce the recommendations for Catan, Dominion, Blokus, and Ticket to Ride. Blue Moon City is excellent as well, and it does fit your criteria, but the different types of cards and how they are used can be daunting to someone new to gaming, so I would save that for a bit later, but put it on your list just the same. That said, if your group is fine with Citadels, this might not be that much of a stretch for them at all.

Others that I did not see mentioned:
Thurn and Taxis - Possibly a bit light in terms of direct interaction, but there are opportunities to mess with people, they just might not be readily obvious the first time out. I believe this should fit the rest of your criteria pretty well, although it does only go up to 4 players.
Ave Caesar - Great fun, better with more players, but you could use multiple chariots with 2 or 3 players, to keep things interesting. Lots of interaction, moves quickly, and is very easy to teach.
No Thanks! - A quick card game that has virtually no setup time.
Acquire - An absolute classic. This one might strain your 2 hour window the first time you play, but once you get the hang of handling the payouts, the game does move quickly.
Witch's Brew - Lots of interaction, and strategy that reveals itself over time.

Hope these suggestions help! Please be sure to reply back with your choices and how they were received!
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