They all have optimal strategies but pursue different victory conditions
July 15, 2014 3:25 AM   Subscribe

Big Game Theory! Board games that tell stories. The Bored Gaymer. A girl likes games. HiveGod's Yell Matrix. QWERTYUIOP. 365 Days of Gaming. Those are a few of the most favorited current blogs on BoardGameGeek, and these are a few of their most favorited posts.

Big Game Theory! Board games that tell stories (now available in book form) The Bored Gaymer A girl likes games HiveGod's Yell Matrix QWERTYUIOP 365 Days of Gaming
posted by Monsieur Caution (17 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
Yes! This is fantastic, thank you!
posted by fight or flight at 3:28 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Rent a cabin & go game with friends sometime, it's great!

It is indeed great.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:54 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Woah, neat! Seems there's some real cool board game folks.
posted by Drexen at 4:18 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

All in glorious, confusing, web 1.0. Quite a site, but a bear to navigate. Still, my first place to research new or old games. Or trade with others.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:29 AM on July 15, 2014

Metafilter: All in glorious, confusing, web 1.0.

But seriously, this is a neat post. I really enjoy board games but don't own many and it's hard to know where to start. The big issue I have with games is the price point: most of them cost around $40 or $50, which is a lot of money for something that also requires I get a group of friends together. I wish they were just a smidge more affordable.
posted by sockermom at 7:18 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I wonder what it says that all our favorite board games are solidly in the German family category, but happen to be the ones that turn into vicious zero-sum slugfests for two players.
posted by mubba at 7:34 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sometimes my partner and I go into a game store without a clear game in mind, hoping that the staff will steer us toward something we'll like. Most times, though, it takes a little persuading to get them to acknowledge that, no, we do not want a co-op game, we do not want a game that avoids conflict, and, yes, we do in fact, no fooling, want a ultra-competitive vicious zero-sum slugfest, preferably one allowing for completely unfair underhanded rude strategies.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:04 AM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I really enjoy board games but don't own many and it's hard to know where to start. The big issue I have with games is the price point: most of them cost around $40 or $50

There are some lists on BoardGameGeek that collect together highly rated inexpensive games, e.g. Good and Cheap, Good and Cheap II (under $15, non-card games). Some of them are iffy but there are a lot of good suggestions among the dross. For example, Magic: the Gathering is on the first list because you can technically buy a pre-made deck or a bunch of cheap cards for under $10, but it's almost the antithesis of a "cheap" game. There are also some "obvious" games such as chess and cribbage. Here are some of my favorites:

Bang!: a competitive game for 4-7 players that takes about 30 minutes to play and has a good amount of replay value through randomization in the setup and hidden information. Spaghetti-Western themed. $20.

Guillotine: a competitive game for 2-5 players that takes about 30 minutes to play. Can involve a fair amount of backstabbing but is humorously themed which takes the sting out of it. $14.

Forbidden Island ($15) and Forbidden Desert ($18). Cooperative games for 2-4 and 2-5 players, respectively. Not too complicated to learn. Desert is slightly more complicated and (I think) slightly more difficult to win, on average. Most people would say Pandemic is better than both, but it's about $30.

Fluxx and its variants. A competitive card game where many of the cards change the rules and victory conditions of the game. 2-6 players. Extremely variable play time, anywhere from 1 minute to 1 hour depending on luck and skill. $13. A somewhat polarizing game in terms of whether you like it or not.

Love Letter: a very fun, easy to learn competitive card game for 2-4 players. The game is played over the course of several hands, each of which only takes a couple of minutes, with the whole game taking 15-20 minutes. Currently a darling of the "microgame" genre. $9.

Sentinels of the Multiverse: A cooperative card game for 2-5 players that takes about an hour to play. Lots of replay value via different character, environment, and villain combinations. Several expansions are available. $30. (Disclaimer: I am friends with the people who make up the company that designed and publish the game, and the company itself is a client.)
posted by jedicus at 8:05 AM on July 15, 2014 [7 favorites]

I really enjoy board games but don't own many and it's hard to know where to start. The big issue I have with games is the price point: most of them cost around $40 or $50

Bohnanza and Guillotine are cheap and fun. (Fluxx was awful the last time I played it, but apparently newer editions are better.)

I am also friends with someone from the Sentinels of the Multiverse crew, so small world.
posted by a snickering nuthatch at 8:27 AM on July 15, 2014

No, Fluxx will always be terrible.

Forbidden Island/Desert/Pandemic are excellent Co-ops. Bonanza is a great, cheap, family trading game with an interesting mechanic, (you must play your cards in the order they are in your hand, whether you want to or not).

Maybe since I've been there since the beginning, but I don't think it's the least bit hard to navigate BGG. A great resource for gamers.
posted by Windopaene at 8:40 AM on July 15, 2014

Windopaene: "No, Fluxx will always be terrible."

The point of Fluxx isn't to be a game that people "enjoy" and "get good at"; it's to see how far you can get while still correctly comprehending the rules. It's like a ridiculously long run on Simon, or that emergent game my roommates and I would play inside of Grand Theft Auto III where you'd see how long you could survive with a six-star wanted level.

When the cards on the table turn a simple draw-one, play-one process into a draw-nine, play-seven, discard-the-rest clusterfuck, the fun is in seeing how grotesque the game can become while still meeting the technical definition of a game.

(That said, I suppose I can still see how it rubs some people the wrong way.)
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:38 AM on July 15, 2014

The point of Fluxx isn't to be a game that people "enjoy" and "get good at"; it's to see how far you can get while still correctly comprehending the rules.

When I played it, I knew that's what it was trying to be. But I didn't think it even did a very good job of that.

So I designed a game in response called Flummox. In it, players construct new rules out of triggers, targets, and effects. Since effects could indirectly trigger other rules (oh, you changed roses to blue? Now the woodchuck can chuck one additional wood), you'd get chain reactions. As a player you wanted to get in on those chain reactions and influence them to your favor.
posted by a snickering nuthatch at 9:50 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have to vouch for Love Letter. It's my main on-the-go game. It's so portable that it fits in your pocket, purse, or large wallet. Amazingly, it plays just well with 2, 3, or 4 players, and you only need a tiny amount of space to play; you don't even need to sit across from each other. The rules are simple, but the balance of luck and skill keeps the game fun. It's also so cheap that you don't have to be especially worried about wear and tear, which is great for bars and coffee shops.

As for cheap gaming in general, I stick that in a small tote along with Alavon and Mascarade and I'm ready to rock from 2 to 13 plays for $45 total. If I think the group might be amenable, I'll also throw in Fiasco, a stack of index cards, a pen and a tin of Games Workshop dice.

I've seen a few of these articles before, I think, but I know what I'll be reading tonight.
posted by WCWedin at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

For about $20 you can get a compact travel version of Blokus (mentioned in jedicus's second link to BGG), a quick and fun pure strategy game that's perfect for two players.

And there's always Set, which may or may not be your cup of tea.
posted by mubba at 6:42 PM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Among cheap games, I'll nth Love Letter with the caveat that it's a super light game--more the kind of thing you play when you happen to have 3-4 people who don't want to think much than the kind of thing you specifically invite people over for. Incidentally, while assembling this post, I considered trying to do something on a different theme inspired by these sci-fi re-skins of games including Love Letter.

Some other popular games typically under $25 that come to mind are Battle Line (2-player), Citadels (5 players are ideal), Colossal Arena (3 players are ideal), The Resistance (7 players are ideal, but 8-10 works), and Wits and Wagers (6-7 players are ideal, but I've seen one set used to handle 28 people in teams of 4). Dominion (3 players are ideal) and Carcassonne (2-3 players are ideal) are usually discounted to be less than $30. Seven Wonders (ideal with 4 players) is currently $33.

I think that if you get the right games their cost per hour of entertainment per person is actually super, super low, and having a little library that handles any number of players makes spontaneous gatherings of friends relatively easy to arrange. What's expensive is trying games out randomly, but if there's a gaming convention in your area, you can try out a ton of games in one weekend--board games are an exceptionally easy/scripted way to interact with new people. Or you can try to find a meetup kind of thing where people will be delighted to teach you their favorite games.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:19 PM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Province, a recently kickstarted game, is a $5 (or so) microgame that does a nice job of capturing some of the essence of resource-management / worker placement Eurogames, for those who like that kind of thing. The makers, Laboratory, told me that they'll put Province on sale for non-Kickstarter-ers very soon now.
posted by dylanjames at 2:27 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

For the budget concious, there's an interesting monthly subscription service that is coming together that might be of interest to folks here: link. Currently they're throwing out 20 / mo. for smaller card / board games. I've also pitched them on upselling people LCG subscriptions, if shipping & handling can be mixed between them.

My most recent acquisition has been a pretty good hit with my fellow players: Impulse. It's a 4x space game (think Masters of Orion) that has a lot of game mechanics built around essentially two game components, and doesn't suffer the end game where one player's exponential growth leads to a death march / grind. In fact in both games I've played I won after nearly losing all my ships and being eliminated from the game. It still has a 'the mistake I made on turn 1 is compounding every turn' aspect, but the race to 20 points limits the length of your suffering, and to a certain extent this is unavoidable, and maybe even desired.
posted by pwnguin at 3:39 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

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