Johan Grimm
United States
Ithaca
New York
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Hey fellow board-game-a-holics!

A happy new year to you all, may you have countless hours of tabletop fun this year! I am seeking recommendations for a few games to help me round out a board game collection that I have been curating for the last six years. I have gone through spells of intense buying, and long expanses without. After having been burned by too many games I have arrived at a place where I am most interested in creating a solid game collection that can cater to any interest/mood I and my gamemates may desire, whilst ensuring that whatever hits the table is a superb game.

As board games are a highly subjective area, I am going to outline what I do and don't like in games, as well as share my current collection. Hopefully this will provide some insight to allow you wonderful game-gurus to make recommendations.

Ultimately I would like my collection to land somewhere in the 15-25 games range, which leaves room for 5-15 more games to join my collection.

WHO AM I?
I am a professional in his mid-twenties who almost exclusively plays with non-gamers. I never play at game stores, nor do I attend any sort of major game conventions. Instead, I have made a 'career' out of roping 'non-gamers' into playing these high-concept, thematic board games, and I have had great luck in doing so.

While I do use a few 'gateway games' (Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride) on those who seem to be wary, I usually pick a more complicated game that features a theme that I know my audience will enjoy. In the end, I find that theme is the biggest selling point with non-gamers, and fortunately it is something I enjoy myself.

WHAT MATTERS MOST

THEME
First-and-foremost, it is the theme of a game that draws me in. I have been a sucker for Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Lovecraft games in the past, but being as I am open to other themes as well. I come from a RPG background and I definitely prize a strong gameworld to let my imagination run wild in.

Historically my taste has led to many Ameritrash purchases, which has in turn led to a lot of my frustration. Ameritrash games tend to rely on a lot of the same mechanics and a debilitating sense of familiarity has begun to plague my gaming experience.

MECHANICS
While I have no issue with games that rely on the classic 'move-and-action' formula, I have played far too many games of that nature to be engaged by it anymore. The games that have remained in my collection that use such a mechanic have maintained my interest due to interesting uses of the technique, or by having other mechanics that are more engaging and as such outweigh the bland nature of the core mechanic (i.e. the timer in Space Hulk and how it raises the intensity of the gameplay, or the forced movement distance in Talisman).

Ultimately I want a broad variety of mechanics throughout my game collection, but I don't mind redundancy as long as each game has something unique to offer in one way or another.

PRODUCTION VALUE
Stemming from my desire for games dripping with theme, and my origins as a consumer of WotC products, I prize games that have superb quality components. Low quality components are not a deal-breaker if the game itself is stellar, but a pretty box and nice components goes a long way with me.

I love miniatures, and lots of chits, so Fantasy Flight has been a favorite of mine for a while now. Sadly, I find that many of their games are so similar in design that the varying themes do not make them worth my money.

It is worth mentioning that I am not really into card games. I've played the big boys like Dominion and 7 Wonders, and while I didn't hate them, they just didn't hold my attention. I like big boards and I cannot lie

MY COLLECTION AS IT STANDS
The following games have all been in my collection for at least 3 years, and have earned their place through numerous successful evenings of gaming fun.

DREAMBLADE
The only collectible game I have ever purchased, and a game that I consider to be one of the very best ever produced. I own a set of 350 pieces, and keep 15 warbands assembled that have been carefully constructed for balance and unique gameplay. Hands down I love this game, and pretty much anyone who joins me at the table is eager for another go.

AT-43
I've always had an infatuation with wargames, but was put off by the obscene pricetags, not to mention the required painting (I do paint my miniatures, but I am not a pro, nor do I have the time to be painting more than a handful of miniatures per year). As such, AT-43 was the perfect solution, and while I did sink quite a bit of money into it, I now own three 3000-point armies, and enough terrain to satisfy the wargame jones whenever it strikes.

ARKHAM HORROR + Dunwich, Kingsport & Innsmouth Expansions
The big-daddy of cooperative games, and Lovecraftian goodness, this one sees a lot of table time and is a sure-fire hit. Even after dozens of plays I still enjoy the heck out of it.

TALISMAN + Reaper Expansion
My go-to beer & pretzels game, I find that this is a blast to play with creative people, and is the best game at creating the 'adventure vibe'
that I have come across.

PANDEMIC
A very popular co-op game with my friends, and a personal favorite of mine. I dig the unconventional theme, and the mechanics are inspired.

SETTLERS OF CATAN
A hold-over from my childhood (our German foreign exchange student brought a copy with him when he stayed with my family when I was 7 years old), Settlers is not one of my favorite games, but I enjoy it enough and it is the most 'well-known' game I own, so I have found it can save an evening when my players are overwhelmed by the heavy-theme games.

TICKET TO RIDE: EUROPE
My preferred gateway game, as it is simple enough for the intimidated would-be-gamers, and complex and thematic enough to scratch my itch. (I would have loved to have gotten the Nordic Countries version instead, as I am of Scandinavian descent, and love winter-themed games, but the 2-3 player limit ultimately drove me away).

BETRAYAL AT HOUSE ON THE HILL
This game doesn't hit the table except for the weeks leading up to Halloween, but it is a big hit during that time of year. In all honesty, I find the game to be slightly too fiddly in the second half (and confusing) but I love the haunted house theme. This could be replaced if a better Halloween-related game were to rear its head.

SPACE HULK
I was incredibly fortunate to have been in a relationship with a wonderful girl back in 2009, and was gifted a brand-new copy of the 3rd edition of this game on the day it was released. I don't think I need to go into why I think this game is awesome, as it just is.

OKKO
The French-produced ninja action game! Honestly, I'm not all that in love with this game (it is too simple), but it is the only game I have found that scratches that itch for anime-influenced ninja action. I would love for a better game to take its place, if one exists.

DUNE
I was fortunate enough to have a friend growing up who had inherited the original Dune board game from his father. I have many fond memories of that wonderful game, and currently am in the process of building my own copy of the game (if people would stop putting up prettier-and-prettier new versions on BGG!).

MUNCHKIN / MUNCHKIN BITES / MUNCHKIN FU / MUNCHKIN CTHULHU
The only card game I own, and I do enjoy the hell out of it. It is another sure-fire crowd pleaser, and as such it has managed to avoid the chopping block many times.

I have owned many other games over the years that I have gotten rid of, but the games above are the holdouts.

GAMES I AM CONSIDERING
This is a list of games that I have on my 'could-work' list, but I have not had the chance to play them. Would love to hear some thoughts!

Twilight Struggle
I hear a lot of great things, and it is a theme I definitely don't have represented.

Cosmic Encounter
This game keeps coming up on best-ever lists. Is it really that good that I need to scoop it up?

Claustrophobia
I tend to dismiss games like this as being too generic, but this one gets a lot of love for theme and gameplay. Is it really a standout?

Merchant of Venus
Keep hearing great things, and I do like the concept.

Twilight Imperium or Eclipse
I don't have any 'big space strategy games' and I would definitely like to fill that niche. I haven't been able to settle on any one in particular though.

A Horror Game!
I keep looking for a good non-niche (that means not Lovecraft) horror game that isn't about zombies (zombies are effing boring), but have yet to find it.

Dear BGG-gurus, please make some recommendations for great games that I may have overlooked!
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Ryan Murphy
United States
Gold Hill
OR
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While part of me would love to have bookshelves crammed to the rafters with games, there's definitely something nice about a smaller collection where everything is a massive hit. So far the games that I have enjoyed the most that are highly thematic are:

Merchants & Marauders(really enjoy the heck out of this every time it hits the table)

Flash Point: Fire Rescue(which I've been told feels similar to Pandemic but with a different theme)

Sentinels of the Multiverse(yes, it's a card game but the theme and unique play of each different deck is awesome)

And either Runebound (Second Edition) or Mage Knight Board Game for a hero travelling the land and leveling up good time. Runebound (Second Edition) is definitely less complex and easier to just dive into, but it seems to bog down a bit as it nears endgame. On the other hand, Mage Knight Board Game is great but also pretty meaty to attempt if you're bringing in a lot of non-gamers.

Anyways, just my two cents. Happy gaming with whatever new games you decide to go for.
 
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Gustavo Alves
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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Well, if you see my ratings, you will know what I think. XD

Cosmic Encounter IS that great, every game is a different game (yeah game, at least it is how I few).

I never played twilight imperium (I would love to try it), but Eclipse is awesome, I only played it twice (one last friday) and I spent the entire holiday thinking about it, and it plays faster than TI.
 
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Marta Kelly
United States
Greenville
New York
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Seconding Flash Point.

For Non-Lovecraftian Horror, A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game seems to be pretty popular, though I haven't played it myself.
 
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Matt Brown
United States
Okemos
Michigan
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If I was making a small collection, Cosmic Encounter is definitely in it.

You might want to look at BattleCON: War of Indines and its new base game that is coming out. While it's not 100% anime ninja themed, it is based off of the arcade style fighting games. Not anime ninja, but I grabbed Ninjato for my actual ninja game.

For space epic, you do you want a euro styled space game, more towards the war side, or the space opera? Euro style is Eclipse. wargame like is Space Empires: 4X. Space opera could go TI3 for the true epic space opera or Exodus: Proxima Centauri is a quicker version of it. The question about TI3 really is do you potentially have 6-8 or so hours to play the game? If that goes beyond your liking, look elsewhere.
 
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Captain Spaulding
United States
California
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I reccomend Thebes. Fun archeological theme, which is integrated w/ mechanics in a great way - you travel around and collect items (light RPG-ish) which in turn, helps you to get to and excavate archeological sites. And you literally get to dig through bags of "sand" tokens, hoping to find treasure. The more stuff you've collected (sets of cards, items, etc) the more "sand" you're able to dig. Wonderful components. Reasonable play length. There is more luck than I typically prefer, but the fun theme, components, and original mechanics more than make up for it. Compared to a luck-fest like Talisman, there is WAY more strategy here. I would say the level of luck is comparable to Settlers. I would also say the theme is stronger than Talisman, because Thebes doesn't require flavor text. The mechanics themselves evoke the archeological/world traveling theme.
 
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Kevin Wisser
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
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Yes, I know "faith" is misspelled ;)
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Just from looking at what you own and the types of things you enjoy it seems like you might take a liking to Mansions of Madness.
 
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Johan Grimm
United States
Ithaca
New York
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Big thanks to everyone who gave feedback! I appreciate the response, and it has definitely helped. I will take a serious look at all of the game mentioned, but right off the bat I can say that Merchants & Marauders totally snagged my attention. I didn't think awesome pirate games existed!

I spent waaaaay too long comparing space games last night and I did end up settling on Twilight Imperium. Even if it only hits the table once a year, it has the overall epicness of what I'd want from a space game.

I also stumbled across AEG's Ninja board game last night. Looks pretty cool, and I do love the L5R universe. I think that could fill the Asian action niche -- especially since I don't have any other hidden movement games.

On the horror end, I have looked at A Touch of Evil, and it does seem pretty cool, but somehow the cheesy photos on the pieces really puts me off. I ran into Fury of Dracula in my searching and thought that looked pretty cool. However, it seems to be a hidden movement game primarily as well, and I wonder if that would feel too similar to Ninja... anyone played both and have an opinion?
 
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