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Subject: What games should I be playing if... rss

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Matt Butterfield
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I'm not what you would call a "typical" BGG gamer, I guess. I'm not into fantasy games or complicated, time consuming strategy games. (I think I used up all of that desire playing Magic constantly as a kid). Now, my gaming interests are usually party games when I'm with friends (Apples to Apples, Cranium, Taboo, etc), card games (Spades, Setback, Cribbage), or random games like Monopoly Deal or Bananagrams.

Party games are great, but they're only good for that: parties. Most of the time, there aren't enough people around to use those games. I would love to find some new games that I can play with my wife or just a few people. I'm not opposed to looking outside the box a bit, to use a terrible expression, but if I'm the only person interested in playing a game, that doesn't help very much. The Survive: Escape from Atlantis reprint caught my eye recently, as it's light enough for my crowd to get into (I think), but still has a little more to it than our typical games.

So, given that minimal description, what should I be looking at?

Thanks for the suggestions.

Matt
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Lacombe
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Days of Wonder, in particular the Ticket to Ride series.
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Clyde W
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Out of the box, Survive! only supports 2-4, and is really only good with 4, so if you have more or less than 4, try something else.

I have tastes very similar to yours.

For party games with friends try Wits & Wagers, Cards Against Humanity and The Resistance.

For card games, check out Coloretto, Tichu, and Parade.

Catan is of course a great gateway game to play with other people not into board games, as is Ticket to Ride. Play Carcassonne with your wife, while the other two are better with a larger group.
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Steven Backues
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Any interest in abstracts? These need not be time consuming, and are not "complicated" in the same sense that something like Magic is (e.g. there are not a lot of rules to learn). Most all play 2-player, and a few also work with 3-4.

Anyways, that's the best I can come up with for something not too long or too hard to learn, good with 2, with a bit more to it then a party game, but not as daunting to get into as most of the BGG top games.

I'm not sure if this will interest you or not: abstracts don't get a lot of love around here (but then again, you're not the "typical" BGG gamer, right?), as many seem to find them boring or too difficult. But if the mere word "abstract" doesn't send you fleeing in horror, here are a few that are fairly popular and fairly colorful, and which also play 2 or more:
Hey, That's My Fish!
Blokus (comes in various versions depending on player number)
Ingenious
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Kevin B. Smith
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Jaipur is a light somewhat rummy-ish game with a dash of them, nice-looking components, and rich gameplay. Officially for 2, but variants are posted for 3 players.

If you have fond memories of Yahtzee, you might like Ra: The Dice Game.

My wife and I enjoy cooperative games. Good starting points in that genre include Forbidden Island and Pandemic.

For a bit of learning while you play, the 10 Days in... games are light fun. The mechanic is a bit like the old Rack-O game.
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Jeff Overweg
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Dixit would be my first suggestion, it share some traits with Apples to Apples and plays well with 3-6 players. It is a really great, really simple game. From what you describe this sounds like a must.

Lifeboats is a fun game for 3-6 players where each player has some pawns in a few lifeboats that are sinking. You have to negotiate with other players and vote out others to get the most of your pawn to shore.

Getting a little farther away from the party game style but staying very lite I would recommend Tobago for 2-4 players. You take turns playing clues to narrow down the location of a treasure and then race there to collect it.

If you have never tried Ticket to Ride I would also recommend giving that a try as it is a classic "gateway game".

edit:
+1 for Forbidden Island if you have any interest in a co-op "players vs. the game" sort of thing.
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Brook Gentlestream
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Lately, I have been holding casual get-togethers to introduce friends and friends-of-friends to board games. Often they know nothing else except that we will be playing "board games". They're probably thinking Monopoly or something.

Catan has been a great hit for this, although it only plays well with 4-players. We did recently get the 5-6 player expansion and have played a game with 5 players that went very well. It is the #1 game I will always recommend for people transitioning into board games. It is easy to learn, beautiful and colorful to look upon, and has a lot of bargaining and interaction during the game. This bargaining is central to the entire game and is always going on -- I really think you'd enjoy this feature of the game. In general, I think teenagers and adults will have more fun with Settlers than kids. Because there is some bluffing and negotiating going on, there can be a problem playing this if the participants are in different age groups.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! has been a terrific game for people who don't usually play board games. Its much easier to learn than Settlers and plays much faster, but people tend to get bored with it quicker too and are eager to play something else next time. It's almost too simple. Also, it has not worked for us AT ALL with anything less than four players, which is the most that can play. I would also like to point out that Survive: Escape From Atlantis is one of the best games I've ever seen for games where the participants are at very different ages.

Settlers plays like a main event. ("Let's all get together and play Settlers of Catan!") Survive: Escape from Atlantis feels more like something you would play more casually and suggest on the spot. ("Hey, feel like playing Survive?")

Edit: I have Forbidden Island but would never invite people over to play it. It's even simpler than Survive. But its portable, which is nice. It's a good game to have if you want to go somewhere, like camping or something. It can also be nice to play before or after another game, or perhaps a light game to play after dinner. I recommend it for people who like board games, but I don't think it will help anyone get interested in board games.
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Kay Lee
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Unnamed Object
7 Wonders
For Sale
Pandemic
Saboteur

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Andy Andersen
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Vikings Plays 2-4
Pastiche Plays 2-4
Tichu Card game Plays 3-10

Good luck.
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Matt Davis
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I hear Yahtzee Free for All is pretty good.
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Sue Hemberger

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In the party-ish games that work with smaller numbers category, I'd include A to Z (which works well with 2 and goes up to 4) and Hit or Miss (I think you'd need at least 3; 4 certainly works and it's a game that, like Dixit, is fun with smaller numbers because, in effect, each player gets two "moves" per round which makes things more interesting or at least interesting in a different way). Both Hit or Miss and A to Z reward/inspire out-of-the-box thinking, at least in my household!

There are lots of good, light 2-player only games. I'd second Jaipur and throw in Kahuna, Shanghaien, and Los Banditos as some other fun, easy-to-learn choices.

If you like dice games, I'd try to find Hoppladi Hopplada! which, unlike Incan Gold, plays very well with 2 or 3.

And have you looked at spatial games like the Ubongo series or Blokus, or FITS (which is kind of Tetris-like)?

I'd second Parade (which has the virtue of scaling very well from 2-6 IIRC) and also suggest Tien Zi Que (2p only), Gold!, Chronicle, and Ivanhoe as a few other good card games for 2-3 (or more) players.

www.boardgamesearch.com is a good way to find out if any of the US online game stores are stocking these titles. If they aren't, amazon.de has flat rate shipping of 14 euros (and subtracts VAT) to the US and that usually makes such orders worth my while when I can find 4-6 little games I want. If you end up going that route, also look at Maus au Chocolat, Finito!, and Würfel Bingo as well as the Schmidt easy play series and their new batch of small dice games).



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Chris Ferejohn
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Check out the games of Michael Schacht, specifically Coloretto, but many of his games sound like they would be right up your alley.
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Matt Butterfield
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Very cool, everyone. Those were some quick responses. Too bad Survive isn't good unless you have 4, but this gives me lots to check out. Thanks for the suggestions, and keep them coming!
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Max Maloney
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Dixit was the first I thought of, though it does need 4+.

Survive is still good with 3.

Days of Wonder games are worth considering even if I think they're overrated.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Carcassonne. It's very strong at all player counts for casual play (heavy gamers dismiss it with more than 2 players, but I disagree).
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Sue Hemberger

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We love Dixit with 3. The non-storyteller players each offer two cards vs. the story-teller's single card and that often means that one or both of those players can use juxtaposition in ways that send the clue in a different direction than the storyteller intended.
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Shane Larsen
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+1 Carcassonne - I too am surprise it was recommended so late.
Metropolys - Mediumlight weight; it has a tense spacial-bidding mechanic and it plays really well at all player counts (2-4). My wife especially likes it with two players.
The Speicherstadt - Also medium-light; it has a unique worker-placement/bidding mechanic. It too plays very well at all player counts (2-5).
Through the Desert - My favorite abstract. It plays well at all player counts (2-5), but gets a little crowded with 5, IMO.

Card Game

+1 Tichu - This one's a no-brainer for me since you're already into standard-deck games. The box says it plays 3-10, but it's really a 4-player game. While fun at the other player counts, I'll usually choose something else. But with 4 players, it's awesome.
Haggis - Close second behind Tichu plays great at 2 and 3 three players--which is the player count.
Battle Line - My favorite 2-player card game. It packs in incredible play with very simple rules.

I hope this helps. If you have questions, just comment.

Good luck and have fun!
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Hoyle A
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I have had a lot of luck with No Thanks! for non gamers. I can teach it in 2 minutes and pretty much everyone enjoys it. Plus it's cheap. It plays 3-5 players, so I'd pair it with Jaipur, Jambo or Battle Line, which are all 2p games.
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Josh Morgan
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As has been said already, Tichu would probably be a grand slam with you and your friends if you're into standard card games. I introduced to the non-hardcore gamers in my group, and they play this almost exclusively now (and have spread it to their families/friends). It's pretty fantastic for people that enjoy standard card games with partnership/trick taking. Keep this one to 4 players though. Any other count is sub-par.

Triumvirate is a pretty good trick taking game for two. My wife likes it quite a bit and we end up playing it relatively often.

Haggis is my Tichu substitute when there's 2-3 players. Has a Tichu feel, but the tactics/play are pretty different.

Ticket to Ride has gone over well with every non-hardcore gamer I've ever played it with. It's basically Rummy with trains.

Wits & Wagers is a great party game. The more people that play, the better.

The Resistance is one I've had luck with more casual gamers. We played about 5 games of this at a friends cookout a few weeks ago. Everyone had a good time and we kept getting more people interested and playing after every game.

Blokus has also been a hit with more casual gamers. The rule (yes singular) is very easy to understand but takes a different manner of thinking to wrap your head around the strategies. Typically I'll tell the rule, and then say, "for basic strategy you need to get to the center as fast as you can" and then go. Games are typically quick, but it does really take exactly 4 (though 2 are possible with each person controlling two colors).
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Liam
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+1 Dixit
+1 For Sale
+1 Wits & Wagers
+1 Ticket to Ride series
+1 Catan
+1 Carcassonne

And I'll recommend:

Pandemic 1-4 and The Downfall of Pompeii 2-4
As they are great games while being quite simple.

But I'll warn that Survive: Escape from Atlantis! felt a little bit too negative and limited for our group.
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Mitch Willis
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Card Games
==========
Quiddler (cross between Rummy & Scrabble)
Wizard (since you like Spades, you might like this)
The Bottle Imp (trick-taking for 3 or 4 with a twist)
Palastgeflüster (quirky but fun)
Gang of Four ("ladder climbing" for 3 or 4)
+1 For Sale
+1 Parade

Party Games
===========
Say Anything
Catch Phrase! (electronic version)
Telestrations
+1 Dixit
+1 The Resistance

Light Board Games
=================
Tsuro
Can't Stop
Lost Cities: The Board Game
Cloud 9
+1 Ticket to Ride
+1 Unnamed Object
+1 Forbidden Island
+1 10 Days in Africa (or any of the 10 Days series of games)
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J.A.H. van de Laak
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Thurn & Taxis

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I had almost the exact question about six months ago. This community has been fantastic for giving advice. Here are a couple of sure winners for me and my decidedly non-gamer wife.

Dominion - Easy to learn, quick to play, and full of replay value. This one is almost a "can't miss".

Pandemic - It appears daunting at first, but this game is always fun and always requested. Great theme, easy to pick up, and enjoyable co-op gameplay.

Ticket to Ride: Europe - Even the mother in law loves this one. Beautiful game.

Carcassonneand Catan... They're classics for a reason.

Other two player suggestions:
Bohnanza
Lost Cities

The BBG lists skew to the hardcore games so be careful, but the forums are full of genuinely great game suggestions. Also check out the geeklists for great two and three player game lists.

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Clyde W
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degger1 wrote:
I had almost the exact question about six months ago. This community has been fantastic for giving advice. Here are a couple of sure winners for me and my decidedly non-gamer wife.

Dominion - Easy to learn, quick to play, and full of replay value. This one is almost a "can't miss".
For me it's a "must miss" unless you enjoy games with very very limited player interaction. I really dislike Dominion, despite having a few very positive plays at the start (I bought it before playing it). After the honeymoon phase, I realized the game was one where you pretty much play by yourself but have to wait until everyone else at the table is finished playing their turn before you can go again.
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Richard Morgan
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I agree. Dominion is awful.
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Ryan Langewisch
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+1 Tichu

If you think you will often have four players, Tichu is the best card game that I have ever played. Cheap as dirt too.
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