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By a complete fluke of circumstance, my friend's brother-in-law (sister's husband) runs a significant website on boardgames: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/newuser.php .

 

They sponsor a Board-gaming Convention called BoardGameGeek Con, which is going on this weekend, and my friend's whole family basically helps run the show. So I got invited to join the fun, and have spent the last few days going to this boardgame convention, which is huge by the way, 100s-1000s(?) of people from all over the US and Europe. The convention sized rooms were just packed with people.

 

Anyway, point is, I got to play a lot of boardgames, some better than others.

Putting aside a "game show" and poker tournament, the games we played so far were:

 

 

- El Capitan - 2007 game, it's modeled after Tycoon, set in the Medici-era Mediterranean seaboard, where you're visiting major port cities by ship and building warehouses in each city, making money in each city where you have the most warehouses, but you have to pay money to sail to new cities and build new warehouses. It's a great "economic" game in that every turn you're balancing inevitable costs against potential pay-offs and trying to maximize your chances, depending on what other people do. I had a great time playing it. The art was terrific, too.

 

- Maharaja. This was the dud. The board is a map of cities in India. Starts off like El Capitan ... you're an architect walking from city to city, building houses and palaces in each. But you don't get payoffs in every city every turn like El Capitan, only when the maharaja visits the city, which he only does basically once or twice! And for building palaces, what would seem like the point of the whole game, it actually pays off less than it costs to win the pay-off with them, so ... ?! It's not much fun even bothering, and you're just bouncing around too fast without much investment any place, unlike El Capitan where you cared about your cities throughout the game. And then it was over so fast, that you don't even have time to really get into it. So I didn't have much fun.

 

- Memoir '44 - Eastern Front - This is pretty much straight up action level (so each unit is like a company) battle with infantry, tanks, and artillery on a ~10-sq-mile map. You select an action from a hand of 5 cards you have (telling you which pieces you can move and fire) then roll the dice to fight. It takes time to set up the board, but not too much. But there's a lot of scenarios and it's great for just 2 players, well balanced. We played the siege of Moscow, and it was pretty nail biting action right up to the end. As in history, Stalin dodged the bullet. Good fun.

 

- Wings of War - This was dog fighting with WWII planes. The mechanic was so straightforward it was actually very easy to learn and easy to do, but still complex enough to be a good simulation. Basically, everybody gets 2 planes on the table. They're cards. Every turn you pick one action card which literally has an arrow on it (curving or straight), you put it in front of the plane-card, then move the plane card along the arrow and that's the move. Then you have a red stick you measure from your plane, and if it touches a plane in front of you, you shot it and there's damage that adds up over the game until their hp=0. It's very spatial. You have to plan your turns 2 moves in advance. So you're trying to visualize how the other planes will turn and hope you can position yourself so they'll get in your sights. It's easy, quick, and great fun. It's probably best with a lot of planes, so there's lots of shooting. If there's just 2 people, it's more flying in circles a lot and less shooting. But I had so much fun with it I didn't mind that, really. Once you get going fast, the game can really move. One thing I really liked about it is that each plane is different had its own pack of move-cards, so the quirks and limitations in maneuverability for each plane (it's speed, how tight turns are, when it can go vertical, etc) are built right into the cards, no extra thinking involved. So it feels like authentic dogfighting without slowing the game down.

 

I didn't know I was going to write mini-reviews when I started this post, but anyway, I had fun and thought I'd share the experience. What board games do you guys like / recommend?

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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Heh, that's an incident. I used to consult this site a lot when we buy a new game as a birthday present or similar. :)

 

During the last two years, we established a weekly board game session with about 8 to 10 people, and we tested quite a few so far. Our favourites are, in this order:

 

Puerto Rico, Goa, Yspahan, Carcazonne (plus custom expansions), Blue Moon City, Himalaya (we have a strong tendency towards strategy games). We also play a few card games (Lost Cities and Citadels, for example).

 

We hardly play Settlers of Catan anymore because it's too luck-driven. We also tried Arkham: Horror once (took us 4 hours) and I kind of liked it, but it's often too much for a single evening.

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Hey, I know that site. :)

 

I don't get much opportunity to play board games, but some of the European ones in particular are great. A little while ago I discovered a local board gaming group and dropped in. They ran monthly, and played some pretty fun games. One in particular I remember was Merchants of Venice, I think it was called.

 

Unfortunately the guy who organised it, and whose extensive collection the group pretty much depended on, moved away three months later; and so the group completely fell apart. :( Was fun while it lasted.

My games | Public Service Announcement: TDM is not set in the Thief universe. The city in which it takes place is not the City from Thief. The player character is not called Garrett. Any person who contradicts these facts will be subjected to disapproving stares.
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Monopoly is tame compared to some of these games. The European board game manufacturers are so much better than the American ones. :P

My games | Public Service Announcement: TDM is not set in the Thief universe. The city in which it takes place is not the City from Thief. The player character is not called Garrett. Any person who contradicts these facts will be subjected to disapproving stares.
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By a complete fluke of circumstance, my friend's brother-in-law (sister's husband) runs a significant website on boardgames: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/newuser.php .

 

They sponsor a Board-gaming Convention called BoardGameGeek Con, which is going on this weekend, and my friend's whole family basically helps run the show. So I got invited to join the fun, and have spent the last few days going to this boardgame convention, which is huge by the way, 100s-1000s(?) of people from all over the country and Europe. The convention sized rooms were just packed with people.

 

You should have told us A: where this convention is, and B: before it was over:/

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

 

"Remember: If the game lets you do it, it's not cheating." -- Xarax

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We usually play Carcassonne, which is a nice game.

 

Fun alternatives are Citadels, Munchkin (maybe someone recognizes my avatar :laugh: ), Kill Doctor Lucky and Dalmuti.

 

Sometimes (the girls insist that) we play Alias or Trivial Pursuit, but I'm not a big fan of those. No sneaky backstabbing tactics to be done there.. B)

Clipper

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The only time I've ever played a board game is Christmas day, when someone has gotten one as a present.

I've never even heard of any of the games mentioned so far, except monopoly.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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My general feeling is if a person like computer gaming, they'll probably like board gaming with the well designed games (e.g., the ones that get highly ranked on that site; greebo's list is one A-list). German games tend to be well designed. When you play one, you understand why a good game is in a totally different league from the classic popular ones. Monopoly and Clue are the equivalent of a 386 game in comparison, still beloved maybe, but ancient mechanics.

 

There's a similar diversity of styles from economy and strategy games (the equivalent of civilization, Age of Empires, simcity, and battlefield games ... the genre where boardgaming shines IMO) to faster moving card and tile games (like the dogfighting one I mentioned, or Magic type) ... to more abstract, unique games (the equivalent of puzzle games, maybe). The main difference is that they're "social", of course, you need a group of friends that will meet together and be willing to go through the learning curve together, and they'll interact more as part of the game. But more often than not, like Crispy was saying, it's almost a matter of luck to get the right people all on the same page at the same time. But for some of the low-key card games, they're quick, easy and fun to play with anybody.

 

You should have told us A: where this convention is, and B: before it was over:/

 

It's near Dallas. I didn't know I was going to go until literally the day I went when my friend just called me up and I am in town.

 

By the way, I should have mentioned, the guy that runs that site started off in the computer game industry ... he was part of the original Duke Nukem teams. This is just to say it's part of a trend that a lot of the culture and thinking in newer board games is running parallel with computer games. Ideas in one easily percolate into the other, Civilization being a good example.

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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I used to play plenty of board games in my childhood, including chess, strategy games and monopoly-like. But really the only one I admire is GO. That's the oldest board game known (about 4000 years), its rules are very simple, but number of strategies and possible scenarios is literally infinite. There's no computer program, which could win with any more advanced player. It's more known in China, Japan and Korea, where people study Go on universities and live from teaching it, writing books and playing in tournaments.

And Go has an advantage over chess - it has a handicap system, which allows two people with diffrent skills play and have relatively equal chances to win. This game is oriented more on self-development, so the winner usually is the one who makes faster progress, than the one who has higher skill already.

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It's near Dallas. I didn't know I was going to go until literally the day I went when my friend just called me up and I am in town.

 

Ah, ok, nevermind, I thought it was in Europe and I missed it because of hearing to late of it :)

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." -- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

 

"Remember: If the game lets you do it, it's not cheating." -- Xarax

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I mentioned a lot of people from Europe to give an idea of just how big it was; people were flying in from all over. But since some of you guys already know the site, you'd probably already guess that. Anyway, it was big for Dallas. By New York or California standards, it wasn't epically huge.

 

But really the only one I admire is GO.

 

I taught English in Japan, so had a chance to learn Go and completely sympathize with what you said. I really like that game. The learning curve is harder than chess I'm finding, just because there's so many options it can be mind-numbing deciding what's better than what, so I'm going through an online tutorial archive (Sensei's Library) and picking it up bit by bit ... although I usually have to practice it with GnuGo.

 

Go is like the first economic game, because every piece you lay down has a potential cost and a potential benefit, that even changes over the game's course, so you're cost/benefit thinking for every piece ... being deliberate. You want to build up, but not too much. It's temperance ... being assertive but not greedy, feeling out the sweet spot in the middle. I like that. Also, good playing feeds directly into the score (With chess ... you can play good, but the whole game hinges on the vulnerability of just one piece. With Go, all pieces have their own contribution).

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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Go is like the first economic game, because every piece you lay down has a potential cost and a potential benefit, that even changes over the game's course, so you're cost/benefit thinking for every piece ... being deliberate. You want to build up, but not too much. It's temperance ... being assertive but not greedy, feeling out the sweet spot in the middle. I like that.

they call Go "the art of diplomacy" - that's more or less what you described - it's al about finding that balance between taking and giving, attacking and defending.

Another thing I like in Go is that it's more visual game than chess. As all stones on board are the same type of stones, it's the configuration of stones that matters - the shapes they make. Very often you can see the best place to put next stone just after quick glance at the board. Of course, if you want to be a master, you have to go much deeper and just thinking ahead as many moves as you can.

 

BTW:what was your rank, Demagogue?

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Seriously, I've just been reading tutorials and playing GnuGo.

How do I figure out what rank I am?

I'm sure that question alone pins me as still quite the beginner, although I'm starting to catch on to it in strides.

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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What's GnuGo? Is that the same as Atari GO? - simplified version, focused mainly on catching opponent's stones?

 

Ranking system is similar to eastern fighting styles, so you have kyu and dans. They say that somebody who knows the rules has 30 kyu. But if you played some matches and know a bit more than just going through the handbook, you probably have few less. The better you are the less kyu you have. When you advance from 1 kyu you get 1 dan - first master's rank. Nobody ever got more than 8 or 9 dans - it's really hard to advance when you have more than 2 or 3 dans.

 

My rank was about 20 kyu, when I stopped regular playing about 5 years ago in my local club, which wasn't anything special. Now I play occasionally with people on the net, so it's hard to say what rank I am now. I really have to find out if there's any Go club in Dublin... :)

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GnuGo is just a free version of computer Go that's probably the best for being free (like "GnuChess"). Just normal Go, no special rules.

You need to (or should) play it with a front-end like JaGo.

 

"Gnu" just means it's open source. It's like the Firefox of Go. The site wants to brag that "GNU Go has established itself as the leading non-commercial go program in the recent tournaments that it has taken part in ... most robots running GNU Go on one of the go servers achieve a rank of 8k-9k."

 

I just got it because it was apparently the best program you could get for free. And I like supporting open source projects, I like the spirit of people tackling a massive problem together as a community, and just for its own sake, rather than as a commercial endeavor. Not too different from TDM. Oh, and I'm interested in reading their public discussions about the actual algorithms they use; it's one of those "big" problems in computer science. I followed the same thing for GnuChess because I was interested in reading about chess playing algorithms, so one led to the other.

 

Re: Ranking systems, so you're saying a person gets ranked when they are involved in club playing. I see. I'm not sure if I'll do that any time soon ... I'm happy just playing casual games for now. Maybe if I find a club I'll try it for a while.

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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you're saying a person gets ranked when they are involved in club playing.

well, if you play regularly on some Go servers with people who have official rank, you'll get ranked as well. it is just being verified after some number of games with people already ranked.

It just depends how deep you want to go into that, but it's good to know your skill, cause then you can play with proper handicap and both sides may have satisfaction from game.

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Best boardgame ever is Shogun. Like Risk, but much, much more complex. Set in Japan, natch, and came out years before the computer game fyi. Upto 5 players and it can last a day.

 

Another great boardgame is Settlers of Catan.

 

Of course Risk and Monopoly are good fun for quick games.

I want your brain... to make his heart... beat faster.

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Yeah Shogun is cool.

Actually there are two Shoguns, one from the 80s (later re-named Samurai Swords for some trademark reason I'm sure), which is what I think you're talking about, and the 2006 Shogun, which is one of my favorites ... actually it took me a bit to figure out the 2006 one was a different game at first. But both are great. I like that period in history.

 

When we play Risk and want it to be a faster game, we sometimes add a variant we call "Mission Risk", where everybody writes down a mission to accomplish on a slip of paper (like "kill all Red", conquer Asia, etc), and then put it in a hat and everybody draws a mission. Then whoever accomplishes their mission first wins, and so on down the list if you want to keep going.

 

It's interesting because you want to pick a mission that's going to be hard, since it's likely someone else will get it, and if it's unique you'll have a chance to figure out who has it by watching others' moves, but you don't want to make it too hard because you might pick it yourself. And when you're playing you want to accomplish the mission, but not be too obvious about it or other people will catch on and make it harder for you, so you try to throw them off.

Sometimes a person can be wiped out and still win, e.g., if blue had a "kill all red" mission ... red can still be wiped out after blue and blue still wins (whoever killed red should have been paying attention to what blue was doing).

Anyway, I recommend trying it if anyone is going to play Risk sometime.

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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You do know that newer versions of Risk have mission cards that are exactly like you describe right? Seriously, they do.

 

Haha, really? You know, now that you mention it, I bet it was one of those rule variants they put in the back of the rule-book, and I was under the illusion my friends had just invented it on their own. That makes a lot of sense. I owned an ancient version of the game, and learned the idea from a friend.

That leaves out the really bizarre mission ideas we'd come up with, though, like capture every region that has the letter "C" in it ... but I guess those missions weren't very fun to play anyway.

 

Never played the new Shogun, only the 80s version (still have it). Where would I find this new version?

 

You can find pretty much any board game from that first site I linked above, with links to dealers.

Here's the link for the 2006 Shogun: http://boardgamegeek.com/game/20551

Then when you click the name under the picture, it goes to a dealer that sells it.

 

Since you already have the 80s version, you might look at other games before this one, because the back-story is similar ... but it doesn't hurt to take a look. The main difference is that the 2006 version is much more warfare oriented, I mean in the specific details of raising and commanding armies. I esp like the mechanism to resolve battles. There's a box, and you just throw all the troops into it, and the ones that pop out of the bottom were the survivors; it automatically takes care of all the probabilities. Very slick.

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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