Must love flow charts.
November 29, 2015 2:23 PM   Subscribe

 
I like how one of the very first questions is "Are they horrible?" which then points to "Do they have Cards Against Humanity?" if you say "yes."
posted by sciatrix at 2:28 PM on November 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


I read the link text in the post as "Snakes and Latkes." I like my version better.

Off to take the quiz now.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 2:29 PM on November 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


It's already shown me games I didn't know about.

Btw, we played Pandemic Legacy a couple weeks ago and it is pretty great, if you know anyone who likes Pandemic or related things.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:35 PM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow, there are /so many games./ The only game that I've ever truly liked so far is Settlers of Catan, which has resulted in some utterly sublime moments in my friend group. Too bad the flowchart doesn't work for me since it doesn't list Settlers of Catan as one of the gateway options, but the blog provides some really good suggestions.
posted by yueliang at 2:42 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ah, Cards Against Humanity. The perfect way to give the Family Guy fan in your life a judgmental gift without them realizing it.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:46 PM on November 29, 2015 [31 favorites]


Btw, we played Pandemic Legacy a couple weeks ago and it is pretty great

Same here! It was pretty amazing. We had houseguests for a long weekend and P:L just took over. To the point of where we'd play it until we were all tired, then when we woke up again the next day we'd all have thoughts about what happened last game, what we might try in the next game, etc.

I suppose my life is pretty dull, but when I got to the first card with the instruction, "Destroy this card," and I ripped it up, it felt pretty hard core.
posted by nom de poop at 2:47 PM on November 29, 2015 [10 favorites]


Awesome--that's an amazingly thorough flow chart! For folks just looking for recent games, one simple trick is to search by year at BGG: top-ranked games of 2015, top-ranked strategy games of 2015, top-ranked family games of 2015, top-ranked thematic games of 2015, top-ranked party games of 2015, top-ranked wargames of 2015, etc. It's a bit unfair to limit that to 2015, I guess, because it sometimes takes a while for a good game or a game released late in 2014 to find its audience, but if your tastes (or your giftee's) overlap with those at BGG, the advanced search tool is pretty great for expanding and/or narrowing things to get a ranking that might be useful to you.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:52 PM on November 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Too bad the flowchart doesn't work for me since it doesn't list Settlers of Catan as one of the gateway options

It does, but they just call it "Catan."
posted by LionIndex at 3:09 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


It does, but they just call it "Catan."

Thank you!! This is going to be so much fun, I've never explored table-top gaming before, so this is going to be so much fun to look at. Most of the games that I know people own are Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, Taboo, Clue, Uno, and Settlers of Catan. Yay for discovering new things!
posted by yueliang at 3:20 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


It makes me sad that there's no entry here for Axis & Allies. The paltry "War" section really shows how little love there is to wargames in modern board gaming.
posted by graymouser at 3:20 PM on November 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


That first link looks like the decision tree for a round of combat in Mage Knight.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:39 PM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Most people don't really care much about the sim aspect, and just want to play a good game and have fun, which would tend to lead them away from the war game part of board gaming, yes.
posted by nom de poop at 3:39 PM on November 29, 2015


Twilight Struggle is nowhere to be seen either.
posted by JHarris at 3:39 PM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you want funtimes with friends and family over the Christmas holiday period just get Snake Oil and be done with it. I'm really looking forward to playing the new Warhammer Quest card game with some folks this Xmas as well.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:42 PM on November 29, 2015


That first link looks like the decision tree for a round of combat in Mage Knight.

I just mentioned Mage Knight to a friend today, and he said "I'm afraid to play that game." I told him it wasn't too bad, but my description of the gameplay did not leave him looking really convinced.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:45 PM on November 29, 2015


It's worth bearing in mind that BGG ratings are skewed a bit by the fact that it is an incredibly arcane and unintuitive process to actually leave a rating on BGG. This is almost certainly related, to at least some degree, to why highly complex games tend to be among the highest rated.

Or, one might argue, BGG's design makes for a difficult first-play experience, but has a very high skill ceiling.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:49 PM on November 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


Twilight Struggle is nowhere to be seen either.

I noticed that. Weird for a game that is perpetually #1 on the BoardGame Geek list.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:52 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's also a bit odd that Haggis is listed, but not Tichu or Chimera.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:54 PM on November 29, 2015


We're in the final third of Pandemic Legacy. It is pretty epic. I've never played a board game where I have destroyed pieces, as the world comes to an end.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:11 PM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have a lot of problems with this chart, largely because the gateway games that it tries to branch people into are very often not well designed, and would be more likely to turn people off the hobby. For example, instead of Valley of the Kings or (even though I don't like it personally) Ascension, it points people to the widely derided Xenoshyft and Marvel Deck Builder for Dominion. Those are bad, bad options for someone who likes Dominion.

It also relegates a few modern classics either off the chart (I'm assuming because it's a sales aid, and they want to direct people to their stock) or to really weird places. Like Codenames is listed as a play-alike for Guess Who of all things.

I appreciate the effort, and recognize that any graphic like this is going to be at least partially taste derived, but I have to advise against using this thing.

A simpler chart is Do They Have Codenames? If No, then buy them Codenames.
posted by codacorolla at 4:45 PM on November 29, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm on mobile so I don't know if it's on the chart, but my gaming group is in love with Skull, and I can't recommend it enough.

It's a bluffing game that's like Poker boiled down to its very essence. It feels almost too simple at first, but with the right group it's a blast.

You can actually play the game with a deck of cards (or, like my family at a restaurant recently, with artificial sweetener packets), but there's a great incentive to buy the actual game: high-quality components and jaw-dropping art.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:01 PM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just mentioned Mage Knight to a friend today, and he said "I'm afraid to play that game."

I love it, and am pretty much 80% of the way to understanding it. I just don't always have the energy. LotR LCG is more my bag atm.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:28 PM on November 29, 2015


It does, but they just call it "Catan."

Mayfair rebranded Settlers of Catan as just "Catan" last year so as to better brand future spinoff games. As always: marketing ruins everything.
posted by mightygodking at 5:47 PM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I knew everything on this chart already.

I may have a problem.
posted by Capt. Renault at 5:47 PM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Axis &Allies isn't really considered a "wargame", at least by BGG standards. And Twilight Struggle might be a bit "deep end" for a post like this. Or maybe the Snakes & Lattes folk hate it as much as I do. Looking at the chart, "war" is a pretty limited category there. Clearly the S&L folks tend toward the Euro-end, as only Memoir '44 doesn't have eurogame wooden cubes...
posted by Windopaene at 6:07 PM on November 29, 2015


Relevant to my interests! I want to buy a game or two my 3.5yo would like. Suggestions welcome! We already have Candyland.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:32 PM on November 29, 2015


No doubt many people reading this post will be aware of it already, but Wil Wheaton's Tabletop series on YouTube is also a great way to find new games. Since they play each game for about 30 minutes with the occasional expository section, you get a pretty good idea of whether the game is something you'll like. Me and my son are currently enjoying Tsuro as a fun, quick but elegant game that we found on Tabletop.
posted by drnick at 6:35 PM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Trajan
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:36 PM on November 29, 2015


This chart is kind of backfiring. It just reminds me how much better computers are at everything, including enforcing turn-based game rules and navigating decision trees.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:44 PM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Relevant to my interests! I want to buy a game or two my 3.5yo would like. Suggestions welcome! We already have Candyland.

Loopin' Chewie is a dexterity game with a Star Wars theme. If you were adverse to that, it's based on a German game called Loopin Louie (may be more expensive). You each control a paddle which you use to hit a weighted Millennium Falcon, with the goal of hitting small chips on a ramp decorated with Storm Troopers. The last player with Trooper chips is the winner. It's very, very fun, and I've never played it with anyone who didn't like it. The skill is fairly simple, and incorporates a bit of luck into mastering drop-in shots. I think a kid that age would be fine with it - but there's an 'easy' way you can arrange the paddle that gives you a bit more surface area.

Cheeky Monkey is a press your luck game. You draw colorful animal chips from a bag, trying to get as many unique chips in a turn as you can. Getting a match means you bust, and must put your chips back into your bag. Getting a chip that matches a chip on top of another's stack means that you may steal their chip, so there's an element of strategic defense as well. Each animal has a certain probability of appearing on a draw, and it's an easy introduction to statistics. There's some counting at the end of the game that may be beyond that age group, but you could offer to score for them.

Click Clack Lumberjack is a dexterity game in the same vein as Jenga, but with the fun twist that it's based around woodcutting. You have a plastic tree with 'bark' pieces and 'core' pieces. Bark slots loosely into cores, and well placed taps will knock it loose, scoring a point for each bark. However, knocking off a core is -5 points, giving a net of -1 for a core and its four pieces. Players take turns with two whacks at the tree a-piece until all bark is removed. There's skill to the game, but it leads to tense, hilarious moments because of how slippery and unpredictable the cores are. The downside is that it's a bit of a mess, and I've already come close to losing a bark piece.

Sushi Go! is a beautiful little game that's based around a mechanic called drafting. When drafting, players start with a pack of cards, select one, and pass the remainder to an opponent. Each of the cards has a certain probability, and scores in different way (the math may be a bit outside of their ability - once they start covering addition and multiplication it would work better). Players play through three rounds, drafting until their hand is gone, and then adding up their scores. This is probably a game that I get to the table the most, because it's quick, has real elements of strategy, a fun theme, and everyone gets into the part where you count down and scream "Sushi Go!" to signify the phase where you place cards. You might introduce it to them, and if they like it then that's fine, and if they don't, give it a try later.

The plus side to all of these is that there is no upper age limit. You can bring these out with your adult friends just as well as with your child, and everyone will have a good time. The theming is light and fun, there are enjoyable social aspects, there's deeper strategy to each, and they can be played in about 20 to 30 minutes (maybe less) each, so that you're not drawn into a tedious 2 hour game like Monopoly where you've lost 1.5 hours ago and have to sit through the motions while someone mechanically wins. The opposite side (and good for kids) is that losing doesn't hurt in the same way, and you don't have to treat them with kid gloves, which makes it even more fun for them when they start getting the hang of the game and winning.
posted by codacorolla at 6:52 PM on November 29, 2015 [12 favorites]


A game that I'm a bit more on the fence for at that age range would be Dixit. Dixit is a vastly improved version of Cards against humanity / Apples to Apples.

In Dixit, players have a hand of beautifully illustrated cards without words of any sort. Play occurs by the main player giving a description (it may be one word, a whole sentence, a sound, etc.) of a card from their hand. Each other player picks a card from their hand they think may match that. All cards are placed into a pile, and arranged randomly. Players then vote on which card they think was the main player's card of choice that they described. Scoring happens in several ways - if everyone gets the main player's card it's bad for them (everyone scores except for the main player), if a handful of people get their card it's good (they score and so do the people who picked their card), if no one picks their card then it's bad (they get no points). Players are racing, trying to get to a certain point threshold first.

However, much like CAH and Apples to Apples, you could also just use the cards as for freeplay, or as story prompts, and introduce them to the real game later. I think the core game might be a bit frustrating for a younger player. I would say that this would definitely begin to hit the mark around 6 or 7. And, once again, this is a great social game for adults as well.
posted by codacorolla at 7:04 PM on November 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


Sushi Go! is great! Dixit is great! ALSO if you have a small kid, FindeVier/Taiga is a great memory game with a unique twist that makes it a legitimately interesting challenge even for grownups. I made my cousin buy it for his wife and daughter because 1. his daughter is three or four now and loves memory games and 2. his wife is German and loves games in general.

For games that aren't necessarily especially small-kids friendly, I really, really like Puzzle Strike (a deckbuilder that pretty nicely solves all of the problems I have with deckbuilders: it adds direct player interaction and plenty of it, as well as starting decks that actually do stuff). You can even try it online in your browser with the Unity plugin (the monetization strategy seems kinda weird: every 24 hours, a single character — think starting deck — is free to play unlimited times, and you get one non-free play per day as well, or you can buy "gold" that lets you play any character you want. Even the smallest purchase of "gold," at $8, is enough to play eighty games of whatever you'd like on that site, so it's hard to understand why you wouldn't just go that route), and a Steam/iOS version is coming HOPEFULLY pretty soon. I've actually been meaning to do a FPP of that site, since I like the games on there and the community is really nice and fun, but I've been too lazy to actually do so (and it might be vaguely a self-post? I've been volunteering as a translator to help make a Japanese version of Puzzle Strike on there along with a native speaker).
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:24 PM on November 29, 2015


I like how one of the very first questions is "Are they horrible?" which then points to "Do they have Cards Against Humanity?" if you say "yes."

When metafilter came to my housewarming a few months ago, they gave me cards against humanity. What does that mean?

(And by "metafilter", I mean His Thoughts are Red Thoughts but I prefer to think of it as the day the internet came to my party.)
posted by lollusc at 11:19 PM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


My two cents for social games:

If you're considering Dixit, you might want to go directly to Mysterium, which owes a lot to and takes the basic idea of Dixit, and IMHO builds a much more compelling game around it. Codenames was mentioned already, and I'm seconding it. Both are top-notch social games that ought to make excellent gifts. One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a good entry in the genre as well, especially if you like multiple short sessions in a row, and there's a handy free announcer app for it as well.

As for where to buy, I recommend supporting your FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store), if possible. (Links go to reviews by the excellent Shut Up & Sit Down rather than online stores.)
posted by jklaiho at 12:11 AM on November 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Seconding jklaiho; Mysterium and Codenames are the games that hit the table tonight.

I've also been playing a fair amount of Hanabi (co-op card game) and Skull (a fast, light bluffing game).
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 1:12 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Advanced Civilization. And no more sleep. That is all.
posted by jbickers at 3:55 AM on November 30, 2015


Nthing Codenames as a solid party game that's super-quick to teach and lots of fun. Mysterium is absolutely gorgeous - when you open the box you feel like Link, cracking open a treasure chest.

In the 3-5 player range I'd really recommend Chinatown as an excellent wheeler-dealer property game - really fun, easy to teach, and I love seeing how quickly people start bargaining and undercutting each other. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, given that I'm normally more of a fireballs and explosions kind of player.

Quantum is a wonderfully elegant little space exploration game for 2-4 that takes less than 60 minutes but feels satisfying and strategic. You use dice to represent your ships, and you can research advancements and build your fleet, and it scratches the itch for galactic war without requiring 8+ hours, half a dozen players and three weeks of training.

Twilight Struggle is my favourite two player board game at the moment. Reasonably hardcore (most games take 3+ hours) but not too hard to teach, and being a 2 player vs it's easier to find people to play with than epic multiplayer war games. Really engaging, tense and satisfying.

Carcassonne remains a really strong gateway game for friends and family who maybe don't normally play games - simple theme, relaxing to play, and plenty of scope for expansion if you get into it. Although I'd say it works best as a two-player game - in larger games you can find yourself waiting for your turn a bit, but in two-player it feels really pacey.

Survive: Escape From Atlantis feels to me a strong contender for an all-ages holiday game, with very simple rules but the opportunity to feed your grandmother/significant other/nephew to a seamonster. And what more can you ask for, honestly?

Or you could buy someone the Netrunner core set if you want to absolutely ruin their life and never hear from them again.
posted by RokkitNite at 4:09 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Play occurs by the main player giving a description (it may be one word, a whole sentence, a sound, etc.) of a card from their hand. Each other player picks a card from their hand they think may match that.

The problem we've had with Dixit is that people are just terrible at this. It's very hard to pick a description that is vague enough to match multiple cards without being too good a match for one. And if the descriptions are bad, the game is no fun. So, we never play it.
posted by smackfu at 5:46 AM on November 30, 2015


Hmm, I've only had one or two bad games of Dixit out of a few dozen, but I don't own it, so maybe I don't play it often enough to have that happen.
posted by codacorolla at 6:20 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sure it depends on who you play it with too.
posted by smackfu at 6:40 AM on November 30, 2015


JHarris: "Twilight Struggle is nowhere to be seen either."
ricochet biscuit: "I noticed that. Weird for a game that is perpetually #1 on the BoardGame Geek list."
I love Twilight Struggle, but I think it makes for a very poor gift/cold buy. It's better picked up playing online or with an experienced player who already owns it - and then there's really no need to buy a physical copy. For me, maybe one in 50 plays is at the actual board, the rest are online games.
posted by brokkr at 7:15 AM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or you could buy someone the Netrunner core set if you want to absolutely ruin their life and never hear from them again. Hey, that's unfair. They'll be bugging you to start playing also and trying to describe how great the game is while wearing that glassy eyed thousand yard stare. By the way, did you see that great post on the blue a while ago called "why I run?" it was a fairly great depiction of the game but...

Are they a negotiator leads to Diplomacy, not "Do you want to never speak to this person again/do you already secretly loathe and distrust them?"

Finally, on Dixit, if you want a coop version, check out Mysterium (now available in English).
posted by Hactar at 7:53 AM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


I came into this thread just to say that they have overcomplicated this flowchart tremendously. "Are you buying someone a board game?" ----> Yes ----> "Buy Pandemic Legacy." ----> But they already have Pandemic Legacy! ----> "Buy it again, they will want to play it again."
posted by Errant at 10:18 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm curious about Pandemic Legacy, but I've never had particularly good experiences playing Pandemic. It may be just that I've only played it with people from the same gaming group, if not the actual same people, but what has happened each time I've played it is that one person has basically put themselves in charge and told everyone else what to do. Which is probably somewhat more true to life than everyone doing their own thing and hoping it matches up, but if I want to watch other people play games, I already know where to find Wil Wheaton.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:35 AM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I love Dixit and have had a lot of fun playing it. You really need a group of very creative or verbally witty friends to play it with though. It becomes about making a super vague reference that has an underlying meaning you know one or two people in the group will pick up on.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:41 AM on November 30, 2015


Rock, Paper, Shotgun review board games every now and then: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/tag/boardgames/.
Also I don't know if this site's mentioned in the article (can't access at work), but Cheapass Games (an indie company) puts out board and card games. I don't have any reviews handy, but that's probably nothing a quick Google search couldn't fix. They publish the game "Unexploded Cow" and a bunch of free stuff too.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:44 AM on November 30, 2015


It may be just that I've only played it with people from the same gaming group, if not the actual same people, but what has happened each time I've played it is that one person has basically put themselves in charge and told everyone else what to do.

I think almost all co-op games tend to fall into this trap, unless everybody playing it is highly conversant in the game's structures. I like to game with my mom and brother when I'm home for the holidays, but my brother and I are fairly serious gamers and my mom isn't - she thinks board games are fun, but it's not something she seeks out on her own. So co-op games tend to fall into a pattern of us "suggesting something" and her seeing that it's the right play, but not instinctively seeing the play without a pointer (which isn't because she's dumb, it's because she spends her time being a great attorney and talented musician and her kids are game nerds). My best friend has gotten so tired of this trend that he basically refuses to play co-op, because he's similarly a big game geek and it isn't fun for anyone when a game boils down to one person telling everyone else what to do. I rarely break out Pandemic anymore. Guillotine has actually become my go-to when I'm playing with people that don't game much, because it's easy to explain and fast and fun to play.
posted by protocoach at 10:49 AM on November 30, 2015


I really love Guillotine for the same reason. It's almost always in the bag when I'm taking games to any event that isn't hard core gamers. It is often in the bag even for hard core gamers.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:03 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Was Balderdash the original "try to get your friends to pick your answer" type (Apples to Apples, etc.) game ...?

Relevant to my interests! I want to buy a game or two my 3.5yo would like. Suggestions welcome! We already have Candyland.

The games mentioned above are great, but neither of my girls could have played most of them passably at 3.5 years.

I recommend Richard Scarry's Eye Found It (cooperative) as a fun board-game intro alternative to something competitive like Candyland. My now 4 y.o. is only getting the hang of holding and passing cards. It's not easy for little kids to manage the card-based games, imo, but they can count fine (roll dice, spin, etc.)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:41 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I agree that cooperative games work best when everyone has the same level of experience playing the game or everyone is at some level a game nerd - Pandemic with my husband is great fun, because we bicker a bit about strategy and sometimes one of us will see a move that the other missed. I wouldn't consider Pandemic a hard-core game, but neither is it ideal for the casual family get-together.
posted by mai at 11:43 AM on November 30, 2015


For me, maybe one in 50 plays is at the actual board, the rest are online games.

Wait, hold the phone. There's an online version of TS? I thought it was still in closed beta?
posted by FJT at 12:04 PM on November 30, 2015


I like how one of the very first questions is "Are they horrible?" which then points to "Do they have Cards Against Humanity?" if you say "yes."

Well, they can't be that horrible, since the clicked link leads to the Canadian version of Cards Against Humanity, which has every white card end with "sorry".
posted by FJT at 12:12 PM on November 30, 2015


At one point, Snakes and Lattes was the Canadian distributor of Cards Against Humanity, which I suspect might be part of the reason for the pro-CAH bias of this chart. It was a big part of the reason they developed the online game store part of the business from what I've heard.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:22 PM on November 30, 2015


Yeah, the buzz surrounding Pandemic Legacy is all positive, but as I found that regular Pandemic/pure co-op isn't my favorite mechanic, I think I'm still likely to skip it. I'm currently trying to figure out what our group would have the most fun with; the 4 vs 1 games like Mansions of Madness or Fury of Dracula have mostly gone over really well, and we enjoyed Eldritch Horror and 7 Wonders for a while there before getting tired of them, but BSG tended to drag. Race for the Galaxy, maybe?
posted by tautological at 1:51 PM on November 30, 2015


I want to play the Legacy games to a degree that causes me a slight physical ache, but without a consistent gaming group of any sort, I feel like the impact would be dramatically lessened.
posted by protocoach at 2:02 PM on November 30, 2015


Tragedy Looper is a many-v-1 cooperative game which is themed around time traveling to prevent tragic events from occurring. It seems complicated at first, but in reality it's a fairly straightforward logic puzzle that the antagonist (mastermind) is trying to stop the other players from solving by cleverly disguising how they reveal information. I have a copy, but unfortunately haven't gotten it to the table yet. Regardless, I've heard that it does the antagonistic co-op thing pretty well.
posted by codacorolla at 2:04 PM on November 30, 2015


FJT: "Wait, hold the phone. There's an online version of TS? I thought it was still in closed beta?"
The solo-play-against-AI-but-sure-to-be-a-disappointment kickstarter thingy is in semi-open beta on Steam now.

You've been able to play Twilight Struggle online ("PBEM") via ACTS, Vassal or Wargameroom for years. Somebody even built an Excel sheet with built-in macros to send the board back and forth via email! My current favourite is Chantry Games, which is very impressive for a one-person project.
posted by brokkr at 2:19 PM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


what's the status of designers and publishers getting paid for the PBEM adjudicators? Or does it require you to have your own physical copy to play?
posted by garlic at 2:23 PM on November 30, 2015


It may be just that I've only played it with people from the same gaming group, if not the actual same people, but what has happened each time I've played it is that one person has basically put themselves in charge and told everyone else what to do.

That "quarterbacking" syndrome is a problem in co-op games, no question. I think some games are better at minimizing it than others, but I agree that regular Pandemic has that problem a lot and I tend to avoid it for that reason. Legacy, in my opinion, does a lot to alleviate quarterbacking. First, the game rules are changing sufficiently frequently, with brand new elements and characters being introduced every two to three sessions, that it's hard for one player to build system mastery quickly enough to make fully optimal decisions. You'll end up doing something and then realizing, oh, crap, I forgot about this other thing, oh well. Second, the more incomplete your information, the harder it is to quarterback effectively. Because aspects of this game state persist into future games, while the setup of future games is still unknown, choices that appear most optimal for this session may still be undesirable because of their permanent effects.

I'll provide an example. This isn't really a spoiler since everything I'm going to mention is info you have before the start of your first game, but in case you don't want to know anything at all about what's in the box (I didn't), be forewarned.

As cities experience outbreaks, they experience panic, and that level increases every time they have another outbreak. As cities panic further, they become harder to enter, leave, and do anything in. In order to end a game more quickly, you may end up having to risk repeated outbreaks in a city. In vanilla Pandemic, this isn't always a big deal, because as long as you don't hit 8 outbreaks you'll still win. In Legacy, even when you win, those panics and riots continue, and the risk of losing a central city versus the reward of finishing the session earlier is a gamble with different tolerances for different people. So there's a lot more negotiation and agreement that has to happen, because you can't say "it'll be fine". If you can get the more experienced members of your group to agree to take it down a notch and not critique every possible decision (not always the easiest thing in the world), Legacy ends up having fewer problems in this regard.

I want to play the Legacy games to a degree that causes me a slight physical ache, but without a consistent gaming group of any sort, I feel like the impact would be dramatically lessened.

Because it's a 2-4 player game, if you have even one other person who'll commit to regular play, you'll have a great time. I've just been playing with one friend and we're having a blast.
posted by Errant at 2:55 PM on November 30, 2015


garlic: "what's the status of designers and publishers getting paid for the PBEM adjudicators? Or does it require you to have your own physical copy to play?"
For Twilight Struggle, all of the PBEM modalities I mentioned have sought and received permission from GMT. Nobody earns anything off them, including the creators (all are free to play).

Normally there's a "gentleperson's code of conduct" that at least one player in a PBEM match should own a physical copy of the game, but there's obviously no way of enforcing that. Since GMT could sell way more copies of Twilight Struggle than they print, this is of no apparent concern to them.
posted by brokkr at 3:48 PM on November 30, 2015


Seems like this is missing a lot of European-style strategy games. Where is Terra Mystica? Where is Troyes? There are so many great games out there that this seems to be missing! (And it seems like party and card games are a bit over-represented.)
posted by likeatoaster at 7:03 PM on November 30, 2015


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