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Subject: Bad at decisions and a limited budget . . . rss

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Jason Rosenberg
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Hey all I'm looking to choose a new game to purchase, but I just can't narrow down my list to one (two? ) Here's the list in case you just want to skip down and shout out your preference or suggest something I haven't thought of:

Dominion, Dominion: Intrigue, El Grande, Kingsburg, Stone Age, Chaos in the Old World, Small World, Cosmic Encounter.

Some info to help my choice:

Selection of favorite games: Race for the Galaxy, Munchkin, Pandemic, Battle Line, Galaxy Trucker, Magic, Carcassonne, Mr. Jack, Power Grid.

Most of my friends aren't "gamers", so things that reach the complexity of Caylus and Power Grid probably won't get played too often, sadly. This is what's kept me from getting El Grande for so long, because it seems like it fits that mold where it's probably too much for my friends. Also, shorter games (30-90 min) are best. Twilight Struggle has caught my interest for some time, but I don't know who I'd ever have to play it with.

I definitely wouldn't say no to games with weak themes, but I love games that ooze flavor (Pandemic, Galaxy Trucker...). I think that's evident from at least most of the games I'm trying to decide between.

I'm almost sure Dominion will be at least 1 of the games I pick up judging from what I've read. But I wasn't sure whether to go with the original or Intrigue. Intrigue sounds to be a little more interesting and interactive though.

I seem to have a distaste for dice, as I hate Risk and didn't love Last Night on Earth like I thought I would, so that makes me unsure about Kingsburg. I still like Settlers though, so I think it might have to do with how the dice are used.

Oh and lastly, I'd definitely like to pick up the expansions for Race and Pandemic some day, but I think I'd rather have an all new game to try for now. And I've read about Glory to Rome, which I'll probably pick up if it gets reprinted some time.

----------
That's about it---any suggestions or thoughts on the games would be appreciated. Thanks!
 
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Kirk Thomas
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I wouldn't put El Grande in the same class as Caylus in terms of brain-burning. Or maybe a different way to look at it is this - I always really enjoy El Grande, even when I don't finish well - it's just plain fun. Caylus is a lot of fun too, but it feels much more intense.

Small World and Stone Age seem like natural extensions to your current collection.
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Rick Kimmel
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Stone Age and Kingsburg
 
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Matt Davis
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I agree that El Grande isn't that heavy (assuming non-AP prone players), but it might be a bit long. Small World seems right in your wheelhouse.
 
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Chuck Meeks
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Small World with a side vote for Dominion.
 
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Jon
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I'd recommend an unforgiving economic game to help you learn to make better decisions on a limited budget. Maybe Le Havre.


Or Dominion, which I personally enjoy the most out of your list.

Edit: Typo
 
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Henry Allen
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my wife recomends Small World
 
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J.L. Robert
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If you're getting a game in consideration of your friends, get Kingsburg or Stone Age.

If you want a game for yourself, Small World would probably be your best bet.
 
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Michael B. Hansen
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I would start out with Small World and hope that the group later on "grow into" Chaos in the Old World.

Both games are really good and will give you many hours of good gaming.

 
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J e f f T o m a k
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Test drive dominion before you buy it. Keep in mind there are two expansions - Intrigue and Seaside - and there's a good degree of separation between the sets of cards therein. If you have a friend who owns it, or a FLGS which might have some game meets, check them out there. Personal example: I enjoy Dominion, and Seaside is great - but the cards from Intrigue just don't strike me in the same way. At the point where you need a base set, it obviously comes down to the base vs. Intrigue - but give both a careful look unless you intend to purchase both. I do have to say, the game gets more interesting when you throw the base, Intrigue AND Seaside together. But if that's not happening out of the gate, make sure you buy the one you like the most.

Stone age is an extremely accessible worker placement game - there are some slight AP issues for some of your more cerebral players, but even with those moments the game never tops 90 minutes. It uses dice, but it takes a rare player to complain about 'screwage' in this game. It uses dice in a solid way that actually addsto the complexity of the game rather than detracts from it. The game also scales better than nearly any other game I've ever played. That's good when it comes to my other recommendation:

Small world is a great choice. My criticism of it is that there seems to always be one particularly clear option for maximizing points, and another extremely similar option for maximizing points while maximizing defensive capacity - so it looks solvable from the outset. HOWEVER, then you get to take that strategy and throw it next to a bunch of other people who can attack you at will. For this, I think it plays well with two EQUALLY CAPABLE players (but it still seems very 'solvable' in a 2 player game). I don't recommend it, or any other area control game with 3, but then once you hit 4 it's golden. Once you get over the problem of scalability, it's a great choice that you won't regret.

I vote Small World and Stone Age - play stone age when you only have 2-3, and it's a tossup between the two in terms of 4-5.
 
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Geoff Hall
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Small World would be my top pick for you other than Dominion. Don't dismiss Kingsburg too easily either, dice hate me but I still won when I played the game. There is luck but it's mitigated, it certainly isn't a big dicefest like Risk!
 
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Eilidh Hyslop
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I would go with Dominion and Small World...


I'd say it's 50/50 between Dominion and Dominion: Intrigue (though I think it's highly likely once you own one, you'll want all three Dominions! It's a wonderful game! So for that reason you may want to start with Dominion since it's the first)

For the second game, I'd go with Small World. I've only had one play so far, however it seems to be well-balanced and a lot of fun, with a lot of replayability due to near-endless variation (since each game the Power/Race combos will be different) I'd be most likely to compare it to Risk - think Risk but with strategy, since the luck-based element of the dice is completely removed (You can either conquer or you can't, based on the number of troops - so it's all about the strategy) Also, fantasy races and pretty maps rather than the world.


We seem to have pretty similar tastes based on the games you like =)

(I'm new so they aren't added to my games list yet)



Hope you find some games you like Let us know what you get!
 
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Taras Vercesuks
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As you (almost) fixed Dominion as one of the selections we have race for 2nd place here

My nominees are:
Small World
Kingsburg
Stone Age

My vote goes to Kingsburg You mention you don't like dice - but it's "dice game done right". This one probably would be the most difficult to pick up for "non-gamers" but don't worry, it's not Caylus . And recent expansion adds tons of new ways to enjoy Kingsburg (but it's OK to start with just a base game - nothing's wrong with it without expansion)

Honorable mention goes to Small World - it is a very nice game as well, good for both gamers and non-gamers (not really ready-steady-go to pick up for non-gamers - but doesn't take much effort too), great looking which draws attention (everybody wants to play it at least once). But for me there is a less meaningful planning and even more luck comparing to Kingsburg.

"Don't buy unless your key goal is to please your non-gamer friends" award goes to Stone Age - there won't be much of a game for you. For me this one plays and feels extremely light - and from your post above it seems you are beyond "gateway phase" already.
 
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Susie_Cat
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Sorry, I don't know anything much about those games, but if you are on a budget, card games may be a good option. I would recommend Bohnanza, For Sale and No Thanks!. All are very easy to teach, excellent fun and reasonably priced, though they do take a bit less time to play.

Susie_Cat.
 
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John Richert
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As others have said, I would go with Dominion, but I would only order the base game initially. The cards from Intrigue have a high screwage factor and will alienate some players. While I can enjoy a game or two of the basic game, I will not play any games of Intrigue any more, They are not enjoyable to me.

The other game I would recommend is El Grande. This game is a classic. You do not have an area control game, and this is the grand-daddy of them all. The only complex part of El Grande is the Court and Provinces mechanic, and that is not too hard once you understand what is going on. If you play with football fans you can use the active and inactive list for describing things. El Grande has both strategic and tactical considerations and once you get to know the cards in the game, you have a bit of brinksmanship, is that card going to come into play this game, or is it out of the game?

Another I will throw out is Cosmic Encounter. While you say you dislike dice games, CE has a fair amount of randomness, but the game makes it work. Cosmic mitigates this with the powers and cards. You can plan around your powers, and if you need cards, you can ally with the defense to acquire new cards. Additionally, how you use your hand is a key factor. Just because you have a card that lets you win any encounter, does not mean you play it now. However, not playing it now means you might not play it, etc. Finally, the destiny draw keeps things moving rather than slowing things down because you don't analyze who you are attacking.

Stone Age got some initial play in our group but does not come out anymore. Small World gets some play, and is enjoyable, but does not have many meaningful decisions. I would probably vote for getting the RftG expansions as they change the game substantially.
 
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Barry Nadler
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Dominion seems to be the winner in the list. If you are going to go with Dominion:

1) Get Dominion and let your friends get used to the mechanics. I have not seen a bad game of Dominion - and it is a quick game.

2) Don't buy just Intrigue. It is a very "Take that!" set of cards, so it may be too confrontational by itself.

3) Dominion and Intrigue together, five kingdom cards from each set is the sweet spot for this combination.

4) Don't dismiss Seaside. It is a good set, but it is not a standalone and requires one of the other sets.

Cosmic Encounter seems to be very popular in my gaming group. I like it enough to play it, but some of my fellow gamers are rabid for this game.

I have played several games of Race for the Galaxy and it seems to have a high learning curve for non-gamers that want to get in and get out. I would reccomend San Juan as a simpler version of the same style of game. Then, if this is a hit, try Race with them.
 
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Susie_Cat
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Warhammer wrote:
The other game I would recommend is El Grande. This game is a classic. You do not have an area control game, and this is the grand-daddy of them all. The only complex part of El Grande is the Court and Provinces mechanic, and that is not too hard once you understand what is going on. If you play with football fans you can use the active and inactive list for describing things. El Grande has both strategic and tactical considerations and once you get to know the cards in the game, you have a bit of brinksmanship, is that card going to come into play this game, or is it out of the game?


It is a good game, but bear in mind that El Grande is well known for being excellent as a 5-player game, but and no-where near as good with fewer players.

Susie_Cat.
 
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Jason Rosenberg
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New Orleans
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Thank you everyone for the responses! Small World seems to be the vote-getter of choice. I'll probably go with that and Dominion (and maybe a Race expansion if I can talk myself into it...).

Jon - Thanks for the rec for an unforgiving economic game, but I don't think it'll help. I've always been bad at making decisions for myself. And in this case when I don't know the utility I'll gain from each choice beforehand, the choice is quite difficult!

Susie - It's funny you should mention those games. I actually owned both Bohnanza and No Thanks! in the past. Bohnanza was indeed very up my alley, but since I've already played them several times before (not that you'd know that, of course), I'd rather go with something else.

That about covers everything then. Thanks again, I really appreciate everyone's help! Is it a problem that I don't want to like Dominion too much just so I won't feel compelled to buy the expansions? Haha I really need to start making more income.

Jason
 
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