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Subject: Looking for a game that keeps me thinking after it's over rss

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Michael Godshall
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INTRO

One of the things I love about Settlers (I only play Cities and Knights), especially when I first started playing it, is that even after the game is over I keep thinking about it - wishing I had done something differently during the game or playing out different strategies in my head. The game has had a similar effect on most people I have introduced to it. In fact, many have called me the next day because they can't stop thinking about it. The only other game that has had a similar effect on me is Acquire.

Other than Settlers and Acquire, I'm new to the board game scene and started my collection over Christmas, picking up games like Carcassonne, Colosseum, Pandemic, Dominion, and Formula D. These are great gateway games and have barely scratched the surface on some of them, but most are lacking that "keeps me thinking" factor (or whatever you call it) that I discovered with Settlers and Acquire. I haven't experienced much of an emotional investment that causes me to keep thinking about these games when they are over.

MY CURRENT WISHLIST GAMES

With my birthday coming up I thought I'd look for another "keeps me thinking" game to add to my collection, but I need your help! I've been keeping a wishlist, but I'm not sure which games best meet this criteria. Your opinions would be greatly appreciated! Here's my current list:

(Feel free to make other suggestions)

Kingsburg
Ticket To Ride
Puerto Rico
Age of Empire III
Power Grid
Stone Age
Endeavor
Finca
Le Havre
Agricola
El Grande
Pillars of the Earth
Thebes
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Chris Ferejohn
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I've played all but Endeavor, Kingsburg, Finca, and Thebes on your list.

Given what you are looking for I'd skip Stone Age, Ticket to Ride, ad Pillars of the Earth. Decent enough games, but neither of them even leave me thinking "boy if I'd just done this instead of that".

At the risk of just spamming the top two games on the geek, I'd pick Agricola and Puerto Rico from the ones you've listed. Both games have lots of important decisions all the way through. I might be compelled to add Le Havre, but I always feel like that's more a case of a bunch of close decisions which tends to make it hard for me to reflect back on what was the big one I screwed up.

I'd also highly suggest you look into some Martin Wallace games, I'd say Steam and Brass: Lancashire if I had to choose from the ones I've played (but there are a lot I haven't). I find that his designs generally tend to have me thinking back to decisions I made during the course of the game.
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From your list

Age of Empires III for sure

Stone Age.. Is a maybe.. can't recall

Both have different paths to victory and are very fun in my circle
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Matt Robertson
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Interesting. Your title really grabbed my attention. There are three games that have kept me awake after playing as I was contemplating the game afterwards:
Power Grid
Twilight Struggle
Railways of the World

Have fun and welcome to a great site devoted to a great hobby.
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Filip Gökstorp
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I'd definitely go for Brass: Lancashire. Endeavor keeps me thinking a lot, and so does Le Havre.
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james napoli
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hey buddy,

welcome aboard.

In some way's it's great being new to the hobby, in that you have a ton of great new games to discover and i think you are already onto what's a great part of the hobby, the POST GAME THINK.

i'm with you, in that after a game is over I love going back over my actions and play and i love when games allow you to plan out your future turns.

here is my opinion(often critical if not negative) based on your list:
Kingsburg (fun game, will NOT give u AFTERTHOUGHT)
Ticket To Ride (too light, non gamers game, will NOT give u AFTERTHOUGHT)
Puerto Rico (classic, will give u AFTERTHOUGHT)
Age of Empire III (great game, will give u AFTERTHOUGHT)
Power Grid (great game but mathy and not 4 everyone, will give u AFTERTHOUGHT)
Stone Age (fun, but very light, will NOT give u long term AFTERTHOUGHT)
Endeavor
Finca
Le Havre (other games do it better)
Agricola (get this, it does a lot of what others do, but better and more fun, will give u AFTERTHOUGHT)
El Grande (great if not the best area control game, will give AFTERTHOUGH)
Pillars of the Earth (good game, but too linear for me, will give AFTERTHOUGHT)
Thebes (fun with controlled luck, no AFTERTHOUGHT)

Additions:
Brass: (heavy weight, king of the AFTERTHOUGHT imo)
Steam: (heavy weight, queen of the AFTERTHOUGHT imo)
Caylus: (great with 3 or 4,not with 5, AFTERTHOUGHT)
Shogun: (longer game, but awesome and full of AFTERTHOUGHT)
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Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization always does that to me.
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Ian Klinck
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I'd definitely say Puerto Rico and Power Grid - those always have a lot of post-game discussion with our group. El Grande might be in there, too - we've only played it a couple times.
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Klaus Brune
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One board game that always seems to leave me with the after-game pondering effect (and incites discussions amongst the recent participants as well) is Tigris & Euphrates. Another is Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization.
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Mike Summers
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I would suggest:

Stone Age: It's just as light as Settlers of Catan, but quite a different way of playing. Not a lot of interaction, as there isn't trading and such, but for a light game I really like the different directions you can go in. In Settlers for example there are some extreme and balanced strategies (hog the wheat and grab a wheat port, or try and get a bit of everything on your own, or corner the market on brick and depend on trading). Likewise in Stone Age you can go for balanced or extreme, such as rushing your population, grabbing tools every chance you can, rack up huts and hope for the hut builders, etc. etc. I think for such a light game (one involving dice at that) it has some fun choices to make.

Agricola: Love this one and it always leaves me thinking at the end in much the way you described. I have never played a game where I thought of different things I could have or should have done. In face, most of the individual rounds are like that once you get rolling. TONS of fun. I love this game.

El Grande: Very fun game. Has some really fun decisions, and every few rounds is finished off with a fun round of blind selection where you can place your tower dudes (or caballeros del castillo) on a spot. There are some very obvious best spots to place them, but without knowing what your opponents are choosing you don't quite have enough information... Very fun stuff. I love this game as well. I know that doesn't make much sense if you're not familiar with the game... but it's a winner.

Good luck.
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Jay I
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You should end up with Agricola at some point anyway, so may as well get it now. I'd say it is the strongest of the list for that.

Endeavor won't really server your purpose.

I don't care much for Power Grid because of the mechanic where it rewards those in last place and penalizes those in first in order to keep the game tight. It's like watching an NBA game because only the last few minutes matter.

Twilight Struggle was a good suggestion.

Also check out Antike, Chaos in the Old World, and Chicago Express.

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Tom Rybak
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There are quite a few games that keep me thinking after the game is done. People have responded with good advice about your list and some good recommendations as well.

For me the king of afterthought is Chaos in the Old World. Each of the 4 Powers (factions) plays differently and the interactions between them leaves plenty of room for various strategies and approaches. When you play a different faction your thoughts will go off in a completely different direction. Lots of good thinking involved in that little game.

T
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Mitch Willis
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Lots of good games on your list but, of those, my two favorites are Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery and Endeavor...both scale well, have multiple paths to victory, and induce several "what if" moments...
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Pete Lane
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Quite honestly, all the games you've listed are quite good. I have never considered Settlers or Aquire as games that got me thinking about how well/bad I played things afterwards... and given that many on your list have... I don't think you could pick poorly.
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Jeff Adair
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Power Grid, Chaos in the Old World, and Dominion keep me thinking, sometimes for days afterwards.

They all seem to have one thing in common, small changes to your strategy could swing the results wildly. After playing these games I mull over my strategy thinking about if I should have bought a different card/power plant or cast a different spell/summoned to a different area.

This has become one of my standards for good games, if it keeps me thinking afterwards.
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Kirk Thomas
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Definitely not for Thebes, Ticket To Ride, Pillars or Stone Age, IMO

You've gotten several good suggestions. One I haven't seen made, so I'll make it, is Vasco da Gama. Lots of strategies to explore, moves are inter-related to other players - good times!
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Alex Rockwell
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mcdiesel wrote:

Kingsburg
Ticket To Ride
Puerto Rico
Age of Empire III
Power Grid
Stone Age
Endeavor
Finca
Le Havre
Agricola
El Grande
Pillars of the Earth
Thebes



Hi Micahel!

I am just like you, I want a game that makes me think afterwards and spend time analyzing it.

Looking at these in terms of how much they will cause you to want to think about them and analyze them afterward:

High recommendations:

Puerto Rico - you can play this hundreds of times and still be learning things and have more to analyze. There is a reason its the best.

Power Grid - tons to analyze about the power plants, and an excellent game.

Agricola - lots to analyze, tons of different cards to look at, deep strategy, lots of fun.


Medium recommendations:

Kingsburg: After playing this I spent a lot of time thinking about the different building paths, and the strengths of the advisor spaces. Didnt take me too many plays to figure out what is the optimal tracks however.

Le Havre: Tons to analyze, however there is one big answer: Get tons of coal, convert to Coke, ship it. It took me like 2-3 plays to figure this out and then it became pretty clear.

Stone Age: Some analysis of strength of card types, huts, and especially Farm vs Worker vs Tool. But not a ton of depth afte that.

Pillars of the Earth: Lots of thought provoked at first, but after some plays the dominant strategy was pretty clear to me.

Low recommendations:

The rest of the games on your list. I dont think these will give you much thought beyond the first couple plays.

Some of them are pretty good games, just not something you'll analyze a bunch.

Note that I have not played Endeavor, so I cannot give you a rating on that.




Here are the best games for this that you are missing from your list:

Race for the Galaxy. There is literally a TON to study here, and its very fun. Learning the card deck is critical, and there are many viable strategies that you need to learn. You have to learn them all because given a certain hand deal, you cant do every strategy, you have to know how to do the one thats right for that hand! Then once you master this, you can draft the deck among your opponents, adding yet another layer.


Through the Ages. Civ building, very deep and tons of choices.
You'll be thinking about it for Ages.


Homesteaders. Note: this is my design. I created this specifically for people like us who like to play something and think about and analyze it afterwards. I spent literally hundreds of hours thinking about it and analyzing strategy, in developing/balancing the game. There is a ton there to think about, I promise!


Steam. Quite difficult and deep. Other heavy rail games fall into this category too. I have heard that Brass is excellent as well but I havent played it yet.


Caylus. If you like 2 player games, this game is deterministic and extremely deep as a 2 player game. Almost chesslike in depth, and with a theme. Even once you learn the basic strategy principles there is a ton to master. I was still learning things and analyzing it after playing 50-100 times.



Hopefully youll be able to try out some of these recommendations and enjoy them!
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Gertrude McFuzz

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Of the games you are considering, I would also recommend Agricola. Even though it is a heavier game, and the rules are not well written, it is relatively easy for players with less experience to start playing it (although it make take 5-10 plays for you to start feeling comfortable with the strategy). There are so many different choices to make that dissecting your decisions afterward seems inevitable. I actually had a dream a few nights ago in which I was re-playing my most recent game and making different (and better) decisions than I had originally (but maybe my subconcious was helping me out a little there).

On the other hand, Settlers (and I think Acquire) are much more interactive than Agricola, and it is possible that your interaction with the other players is what gives the game that "emotional investment" you are looking for. If that is the case, you would find Agricola disappointing.

I do think that lighter games (the ones frequently recommended to those just starting out) generally do not have as much replayability or make you think as much about the games later. With that in mind, I would recommend against:
Ticket to Ride, Pillars of the Earth, (both of which I have played) and Thebes, Finca, and Stone Age (based on their reputations as lighter games).
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Mike
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The only game I've played on your list is Kingsburg. I'm not sure it makes you ponder about every choice you made once it's all said and done, but it does have plenty of intense in game moments. Towards the end the real kicker is trying to figure out if you can go easy on military and hope the king sends lots of troops or try to make one last push for a high VP building. That can drive you nuts. However if you were smart you would use the person that lets you look at the enemy for the end of the year...

I would highly recommend Dungeon Lords. That game makes me constantly think about how to build the best dungeon and rack up the most points. There are moments when one choice could make or break your in game year. I find myself always thinking about this one at the moment...so it might work for you.

Good Luck

~ Bones
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Tim Benjamin
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As alluded by J.Woodall above, I find that wargames are the only games worth thinking about between playings.
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Mark Christopher
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RaffertyA wrote:
As alluded by J.Woodall above, I find that wargames are the only games worth thinking about between playings.


I agree with these two. Wargames occupy my mind the most after playing, far beyond any other games (though Go is almost there).
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Paul Kimmel
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It seems to me that you're looking for a game with both strategic and tactical elements. You either remember a tactical shot that failed, and try to come up with a new one, or you remember a strategy that didn't pan out the way you envisioned it.

There are many excellent suggestions here already (and I'd definitely second Race for the Galaxy, when it comes to strategic planning, and also Fury of Dracula), but for me there are only two games that I will spend hours thinking about even after they are over:

1. Chess, and
2. Diplomacy (I especially like the 1900 variant)

I'd also agree with the sentiment that wargames are going to be a lot more likely to satisfy your desire to ruminate on alternate outcomes.
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Mike Nelson
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The list of games on your wishlight is a great list.

My favorite 3 games are on your list:
Puerto Rico
Power Grid
Age of Empires III
(and you already play Settlers of Catan Cities & Knights)

I highly recommend each of them, I give a 10 to both Puerto Rico and Power Grid, and a 9 to Age of Empires III.

To your question about afterthought after the game is over, I'd say Puerto Rico and Age of Empires III have the most of this - because there are so many things that you could have changed along the way that totally change the game. Great games to analyze after the fact. I love this part of discussing with my friends right after the game is over.
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Jeff Forbes

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Suck it up and go big, if you can find people and time to play a 3-6 hour game. The decisions in Settlers aren't that interesting.

Die Macher - yes, its a 1-3 times a year sort of game. But you make so many important decisions in it that you will have enough to second guess for weeks after one game. First play with 5 took 6 hours. Second with 4 was exactly 4.

Through The Ages - 3.5 hours with 3. Damn fine game where almost all decisions are agonizing. Enough randomness to give lesser players a chance.

Brass - meaty economic game with rather weird rules, but once you get over the hump, makes sense and is very challenging. Cards allow you to plan ahead without dictating what you do, and makes your opponent's next move unpredictable to an extent. Very deep, and many opportunities for looking back and seeing exactly where you went wrong. 2.5 or so hours with 3, probably 3 with 4.

Caylus - a bit lighter than the above, it is a more normal worker placement euro. Has some nastiness and contention with a lot of interaction for the genre. And, like the others here, it gives you a lot to think about.
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Tim Robinson
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I would say Agricola for sure! Le Havre also is a great game for the post thinking session. My wife even had nightmares after our first play of it due to the stress involved with almost every turn. Don't worry though it's a fun stress.

BTW- Almost every game on your list is a fun game. Get them all. Some will leave you thinking what could I have done differently, while others are just plain fun.
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