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Subject: good and bad rule sets rss

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Chris
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I will be teaching a class on board game analysis and design this coming fall. It may help students to have examples of good and bad rule sets for comparison. Any favorites?
 
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M *
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Good:
7 Wonders
Magic Labyrinth
Mr. Jack
Munchkin
Asara

Bad:
Arkham Horror
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Small World
Friday
Castles of Burgundy
Mage War
Dominion
 
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Brad Talton
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Are you interested in the layout of the rulebooks, or the actual game design as expressed by rules?

Here's an article I wrote a while back about the second kind: http://www.lvl99games.com/?p=521

I hope it can be of some help to yourself and your students.
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Kay Lee
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bad: panic station
power grid
super dungeon explore

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Ed G.
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Bad: At the Gates of Loyang

Good: Mage Knight the Board Game
 
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Matt Riddle
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Bad:
Cargo Noir
Bohnanza
Castles of Burgandy

Good:
Most Knizias
Fleet whistle (ok, i wrote em)
Eclipse (loooonnnng, but pretty complete)
 
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RJD
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Candyland and Chutes & Ladders. Too obvious? Sure, you'd be starting at the shallow end of the pool, but you get the chance to teach why they're bad games for adults and also why they might be good games for small children. That is, assuming that you don't think they're horrible games for small children. Some people do.
 
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Tim Benjamin
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Off the beaten track:

Extremely bad: War to End All Wars: World War I Expansion with War of 1812 and Mexican War
Approximately 170 typos & grammatical errors in 11 pages of absolutely tortured English. Two 'editors' listed but a team of sixth fifth fourth-graders would have done better.
 
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...sure...
Netherlands
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Noord Brabant
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Also see: Essener Feder. The Essener Feder (or "Goldenen Feder - Wanderpreis der Stadt Essen") is an award presented by the city of Essen, Germany since 1981 and a part of the Deutscher Spiele Preis. Awarded at the Spiel convention, this prize awards the best-written rulebook.

http://boardgameawards.blogspot.nl/2006/09/essener-feder.htm...

2009 Diamonds Club
2008 Jamaica
2007 Burg Appenzell
2006 Nacht der Magier
2005 Piranha Pedro
2004 Fifth Avenue
2003 Alhambra
2002 Puerto Rico
2001 Die Neuen Entdecker
2000 Taj Mahal
1999 Union Pacific
1998 Die Macher
1997 Mississippi Queen
1996 Top Race
1995 Settlers of Catan
1994 Neue Spiele im alten Rom
1993 Acquire
1992 Coco Crazy
1991 Hotu Matua
1990 Lifestyle
1989 (no award)
1988 Ausbrecher AG
1987 Spy vs. Spy
1986 Das blaue Amulett
1985 Wildlife Adventure
1984 Inka
1983 Giganten
1982 Atlantis
1981 Focus


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Clare Marie
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Extremely Good: Galaxy Trucker
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Scott
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As another posted noted, you haven't been clear on whether you are concerned with the rule set as being the laws that delineate and uniquely distinguish a game or with a particular expression of that rule set. Hence I offer this in the same spirit of ambiguity. Tafl is particularly interesting of course.

Chess
Go
Tafl
ASL
Through the desert - pre- and post-FFG edition
 
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Samo Oleami
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very best heavy game rules:
dominant species (but the game is very procedural, so it can be explained in that way). With some games you have to describe not so obvious things.

Arkham Horror is not that bad (2nd ed), just you know, thank god there's an index at the end.

When looking at rules one really should look at 2 functions:
1. to learn the game
2. to help while playing the game with easy to find rules and easy to guide through player aides.

Android rules for instance are great at 1. and suck at 2. Dominant species succeeds at both.
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Sean Shaw
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Good: Galaxy Trucker

Bad: Agricola (not a commentary on the game, but rules are badly written even if the game is loved after the rules are figured out)
Galactic Destiny (original rules)
 
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Ben Pinchback
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I always thought the Puerto Rico rules were very well done.
 
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Daniel Blumentritt
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Worst ones I've encountered, either in terms of ambiguity or poor organiszation:
Age of Renaissance
Kutuzov
Blackbeard (the new one)

Best is probably Here I Stand, it's amazingly easy to find information, and most of the questions are deals where the rulebook is pretty clear but I just wasn't quite sure and thought I'd ask just in case.
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Ryan Meeker
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BAD: Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation

REALLY BAD: Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation
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David Sevier
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Good: Dungeon Lords. The rules are pretty well laid out, with plenty of examples to help you figure out what is going on. There is also excellent humor and the game actually finds some hilarious ways to explain the worker-placement balance rules.
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Chris
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BaSL wrote:
Also see: Essener Feder. The Essener Feder (or "Goldenen Feder - Wanderpreis der Stadt Essen") is an award presented by the city of Essen, Germany since 1981 and a part of the Deutscher Spiele Preis. Awarded at the Spiel convention, this prize awards the best-written rulebook.

http://boardgameawards.blogspot.nl/2006/09/essener-feder.htm...

A great resource. Thanks!

Here are the criteria according to BoardGameManiac:
1. Compelling and well-structured rule concept
2. Overall attractive graphical design
3. Clearly understandable text
4. Well-read typeface
5. Gaps, flawless and clear explanation
6. Correct and complete graphics, as references to the text
7. The rules should make you want to play the game and reproduce the atmosphere of the game
 
 
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Ralph T
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Agricola, Through the Ages, Le Havre, Black Friday, Power Grid: First Sparks, and Neuland have pretty bad rulesets. I would argue that Galaxy Trucker's is exceptionally bad. We tried to review the rules after not playing the game for a couple years--and reviewing the manual was impossible because the manual is filled with irrelevant crap.

Macao has ambiguous rules that appear in the game via the cards.

Belfort's ruleset is exceptionally well written and the game is centered around making it intuitive to understand.
 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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ralpher wrote:
Agricola, Through the Ages, Le Havre, Black Friday, Power Grid: First Sparks, and Neuland have pretty bad rulesets. I would argue that Galaxy Trucker's is exceptionally bad. We tried to review the rules after not playing the game for a couple years--and reviewing the manual was impossible because the manual is filled with irrelevant crap.

To the OP: see here why your question is pointless without specifying what you consider to be good or bad.

If I'm right about what Ralph thinks to be the 'irrelevant crap' in GT's manual, then I can easily point out it is all about adding 'theme', something considered to be very important for many gamers. In addition, IIRC it's printed in a different style, so can be easily ignored. Ralph's opinion is, of course, obvious.

At the same time, I can easily argue that GT's manual is exceptionally well-structured to be learning the game from scratch. Open the rule book, dump out the material on the table, and the rule book tells you exactly what to do to start up and running a first trial game. What then follows are the rules to the full game, whose differences are easily understood once you've completed your first tour of duty. Everyone has a positive first impression and is keen for more. Teaching gold.

Is the rulebook fit to be used as a reference, then? No, of course not. Its narrative structure is designed for explaining the first game and then, more or less from that, the subsequent games. It's not a conscise bullet summary to quickly settle rules disputes.

Ergo: no clear opinion exists. You can also see this already because there are a few contributors who consider GT's manual to be good to very good.

 
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Jason Hinchliffe
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Best Rules Ever: Dominant Species

Worst Rules Ever: Arkham Horror
 
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