Sunday, September 26, 2010

Board games

Just to satisfy my curiosity, I applied a binary tree sort to games that occured to me (excluding party games and monopoly and risk and a few games I've played few times to have an impression of), to order them. Here we go:

45)Zombies!!!- the theme is willing, but the game is weak. Why are the humans competing to win? Its essentially random and goes on far too long
44)LOTR game. The dullest co-op game I've played, most decisions feel unimportant and the theme is just too weak.
43)Hare and Tortoise. A kind of applies optimisation problem. Makes my head hurt and doesn't feel fun while doing so.
42)Origins of World War 2. It could actually be so much better. Theres a lot to like about this game- the mechanics are actually pretty clever, and it can feel quite challenging, but ultimately its just too unbalanced to play.
41)Brass- this is a technically great game, but doesn't grab me. I think maybe more plays might make me like it more, but I've played it maybe 3-4 times and just don't feel in control of it. It doesn't feel elegant to me. Its really hard to express quite why I don't like it.
40)Glory to Rome- this.. could be good. The game is poorly written in terms of clearly showing what the cards do, in a similar way to race. Its a bit clunky, and the fact that I was able to pull off a win on my second attempt in a rather cheesy way didn't really endear me to it.
39)Warcraft 3-This could actually be good. Once again this should be fun, but is a bit unbalanced (certain factions feel better than others), and the victory condition is always the same. I suspect the expansion pack might have made this more fun. This is a game I could play more if I could persuade more people to play it.
38)Pandemic. This is an elegantly designed game, but as a pure co-op game it feels too much like a shared logic puzzle. Theres usually a best move for everyone to do, and theres no reason that you need 4 people to work that out.
37)Bohnanza. The mechanic of forcing people to play their hand in order is kind of clever, but makes for a very artificial feeling game thats never really hooked me.
36)Caylus-I think I may like this game if I play it more. Its a bit awkward in the way it plays, and seems to have been designed to be a bit obtuse,but theres a good game in there.
35)Blokus. Yes its elegant and fine. I just don't like geometry based games. I will never be able to understand how I'm losing or winning in this game, and as a result cannot like it.
34)Indonesia. This is actually a beautiful game in many ways, with some fun decisions to make that really hooks me. Sadly the way the game executes kills it for me- running through the turns can take a VERY long time late in the game, and most of it is taken up with stuff that isn't hard. Its mechanically flawed.
33)Heroscape. Fundamentally unbalanced, certain factions feel a lot stronger than others. Its still a lot of fun, but the set up time is just absurd.
32)Neuroshima Hex. This is a pretty fun game with some nice tactical choices, I just wish it had more strategy. The lack of information about upcoming pieces prettty much cripples and tactical play, and adds too much randomness.
31)Robo-rally. Good chaotic fun, but if you make a mistake you're basically out of the game, to the point where you can have absolutely no effect on everyone elses chances.
30)Shadows over camelot. This is a fun game, the element of hidden information makes it a better co-operative game for me. Its interesting enough, but a little bit slow, and it feels like the traitor doesn't have enough to do (I have yet to be the traitor though)
29)Ticket to Ride. This is an example of lovely design. Easy to understand and certainly fun to play, with too many players theres a sense of lack of control, and I feel like theres too little interaction in it ultimately. I do enjoy it, however.
28)Liars Dice. I maybe shouldn't have included this, but this is good simple fun. Its too basic a game to be ranked too highly, but I do enjoy it.
27)Scotland Yard. A competitive co-op game, this is pretty fun. Another logic puzzle, but the competitive element makes it feel worthwhile. Its probably just as good two player though.
26)Betrayal at House on the Hill. This is all about the theme really. Its not much of game in terms of playing- the choices are usually obvious, but the atmosphere and style does make this good fun.
25)Fair Means or Foul/Hoity Toity. Basically rock paper scissors, it can be a little simplistic, being a guessing game at its core, but its simplicity means it plays quickly. The choices are meaningful, but not very deep.
24)Thebes. I really haven't played this enough. There are some really nice mechanics here, but its maybe a little too random
23)Lost Cities. A lovely two player game, its only ranked low because its only two player. I also suspect that there may always be a "best move" as well.
22)For Sale. This is a fun simple game. Another guessing game mechanic behind this, its pretty enjoyable and plays very quikly. Its also pretty simple to understand as well.
21)Evo. I guess the only reason I don't like Evo more is that I'm terrible at auctions. Maybe the choices are also a little shallow, but this is a solid game, and solid fun.
20)Alahambra. I really like this game, although I'm not terribly good at it. The wall building aspect can frustrate, and maybe theres a little too much luck, but its quick and fun.
19)Last Night on Earth. This is how a zombie game should be. There are interesting choices on both sides, and its thematic and fun, and often pretty funny. It can be cripplingly random at time, but its definitely good fun.
18)Container. Definitely not a game for everyone, but that clever little economic system is surprisingly fun. That theres several routes to victory makes it quite enjoyable, and carving your own economic niche is pretty cool.
17)Power Grid. A mammoth game, and it can be too long, but its interesting and theres lots of nice decisions to make. The end game can come down quite unexpectedly.
16)Chicago Express. I really like this game. Its deep and interesting, and can play a bit differently depending on what certain players choose to do. Its main flaw is that the opening bid, if done poorly, can absolutely cripple you, which is not a good feature- it can screw new players out of the game.
15)San Juan. Basically a card version of Puerto Rico. Feels a tiny bit random, but is fast, elegant, and fun.
14)Railroad Tycoon. Another mammoth game, this is really splendid in style. The openess of building trains is just cool, and there are lots of different routes to victory. Pretty epic.
13)Carcassonne. A nice simple tile based games. A tactical game mostly, but pretty neat and fun. Its brief, easy to explain to pretty much anyone, and interesting enough to captivate me throughout.
12)Antike. As long as everyone playing realises this is a game about gaining points rather than conquest its fine. Futile arms races hurt both sides, so group think is dangerous here, but the fundamental game is sound, and pretty clever along the way. There are several routes to victory. It does feel like certain starting positions are superior to others, however.
11)Starcraft. A hard game to think about, planning your turns in reverse order can be difficult, but theres no doubting that this game is deep and interesting. Its potentially a tiny bit unbalanced, but superior play matters more.
10)On the Underground. A fun little game which is elegant, simple, and fun. Plays quickly, and has no particular flaws I can think of, other than a possible lack of depth.
9)Pompeii. Its got a toy volcano! I haven't really got past that. I know its not that deep, but I find it such an enjoyable experience playing I somehow don't care.
8)Race for the Galaxy. Yes, it does take a LOT of plays to get to grips with, but once you're there its a deep game with a lot of plays to victory. Luck does play a part, but less than one would think. My only frustration with it is that produce consume seems to be a dominating strategy almost all the time.
7)Settlers of Catan. The classic game, and classic for a reason. A simple game with some nice depth, theres some interesting choices to be made, and the turns actually feel different to any other game I've played. I like this game because everyone likes it, which means its nice common ground to turn to.
6)Imperial. A more elegant rondel based game than antike, the share holding mechanic is clever and fun, and jibes nicely with the war element to produce a really fun game. The last few times are a bit clockworky, but this is true of a lot of games.
5)El Grande. A beautiful territory control game, I love games that blend player interaction in so well, along with lots of interesting decisions to be made at every stage.
4)BattleStarGalactica. The be all and end all in co-op games as far as I'm concerned. Its great fun being a human or a cylon, the choices are interesting and meaningful, and the games are often hilarious and tense. A perfect blend of theme and mechanics.
3)Chaos in the Old World. This game is superb. It really is a lot more deep than some might think on first glance, and theres a lot to be learned. It really does require 4/3 players who know what they're doing, however, as it can be frustrating otherwise.
2)Puerto Rico. A beautiful game, the player interaction is lovely, and having two main routes to victory (money and shipping), makes it interesting and fun. Like it lots. Deep and fun.
1)Dominion. It has to be. Every game feels quite different, and even without attack cards you need to be watching what your opponents are doing. I love trying new things and seeing how they pan out, and the feeling you get when you've managed to built a beautiful deck is just terrific.



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