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So you want to build a game collection….

October 22, 2015 1 comment

You’re just getting interested in modern board games and you want to buy some games but don’t know where to start?  This guide will give you some pointers.  You can also check out boardgamegeek, and I’d specifically recommend taking a look at their list of the most popular family games.  But sometimes, a curated list (like this one) is the way to go.

What games you’ll want to buy obviously depends on your situation and the types of games you’re wanting to play.  For the purposes of this guide, I’m going to assume that, since you’re just getting started, you’re looking for games that more casual gamers can enjoy.  I’m going to assume that you’re wanting to play games that don’t take forever, aren’t too hard to learn, don’t cost too much, and are easy to find.  I’ll give you a range of options so you can hopefully find something that suits your needs.

Ready?  Let’s go.  :-)

First, there are what I would call the big three:  Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and Catan.  These are some of the most accessible games out there, the’ve been around for over 10 years (20 in the case of Catan), and they’ve proved their staying power.  They’re modern classics, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

  • Ticket to Ride: 2-5 players, 45 minutes, ages 8 and up, $40 on Amazon.
    For me, it’s a toss up whether to start with Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne.  Ticket to Ride is my favorite game to teach (most people can learn it in under 5 minutes), whereas Carcassonne is the game that really got me into the hobby.  But I think I’ll start with Ticket to Ride because it’s relatively straightforward, it offers interesting choices, and it creates this amazing sense of tension.  Basically, you’ve got a map of America, a bunch of cards, and a bunch of little plastic trains.  The gist is that you start with some destination cards that each have two cities listed on them — Seattle to New York, for example, or Dallas to Atlanta — and you’re trying to connect them up with trains of your own color.  While the basic version of Ticket to Ride is best for 4-5 players, there’s a variant called Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries that works better for 2-3 ($36 on Amazon).
  • Carcassonne: 2-5 players, 60 minutes, ages 8 and up, $26 on Amazon.
    Carcassonne is a magical game.  Basically, you’re building this landscape with castles, roads, rivers, cloisters, and farms, and then you’re inhabiting this world with little figures called “meeples.”  More than any other modern board game, Carcassonne feels playful, and it reminds me of playing with little cars and legos as a kid.  You can claim features with your meeples, and then when those features are completed, you get your meeples back (and score some points).  The fun part is trying to figure out how to horn in on features that have already been claimed by other players….  If you like the game, there are plenty of expansions you can buy for it.
  • Catan: 3-4 players, 90 minutes, ages 10 and up, $39 on Amazon.
    The grandaddy of them all — when talking to non-gamers, Catan (or “Settlers of Catan” as it used to be known), is the one modern board game they may have heard of.  And with good reason — it’s tense, it’s fun, and it’s paced well, too.  The idea is that you’re building up a collection of villages and cities, all connected by roads.  But in order to build anything, you need resources.  And the only way you get resources is to have a village or a city adjacent to that resource when its number is rolled.  Yes, Catan uses dice, but that’s one of the things that makes it appealing to your average non-gamer:  everyone is familiar with dice, and most people are comfortable with them, too.

Start with those, and then you can start to branch out a bit.  If you’re looking for a few more “general-purpose” games, I’d take a look at Coloretto, San Juan, and Splendor.

  • Coloretto: 2-5 players, 30 minutes, ages 8 and up, $12 on Amazon.
    Coloretto is one of those games that just stuns you with its brilliance:  such a simple concept, and yet it has such interesting gameplay.  It’s essentially the same game as Zooloretto or Aquaretto, but honestly, those just add a bunch of bells and whistles that aren’t really necessary.  Players have a choice: either add another card to one of the available columns or claim a column and take it for themselves.  At the end of the game, players get points for the cards they have in their top three colors, and they lose points for the cards they have in the rest of their colors.  It’s a simple card game with lots of interesting choices, it gives you plenty to think about without hurting your brain, and it’s very colorful, too.
  • San Juan: 2-4 players, 60 minutes, ages 10 and up, $25 on Amazon.
    Better in my opinion than both Race for the Galaxy and Puerto Rico, San Juan doesn’t get the love it deserves.  Sure there’s a lot of luck, but that doesn’t bother me.  It’s fun, it’s relatively easy to teach, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome.  One downside is that it takes a game or two to get used to the cards, but that’s true of a lot of games.
  • Splendor: 2-4 players, 30 minutes, ages 10 and up, $27 on Amazon.
    A relatively recent discovery for me, Splendor is a tight game with interesting choices.  In the beginning, players are taking gems to buy cards and build up their engine; at the end, players are running those engines to buy cards and get points as fast as they can.  I’ve seen people win by switching early, and I’ve seen people win by switching late.  Not terribly heavy, it’s an easy game to teach to newbies and has really nice components.

The rest of these games are recommended depending on your specific taste or specific situation.  I.e., you’re looking for a card game, a 2-player game, an abstract strategy game, a dexterity game, a cooperative game, or a game that plays up to 8.

If you want a lightweight filler that takes less than 30 minutes, I’d take a look at For Sale and Incan Gold.

  • For Sale: 3-6 players, 20 minutes, ages 8 and up, $26 on Amazon.
    A game of For Sale takes place over two rounds. In the first round, players bid cash for various properties (numbered from 1 to 30); in the second round, players auction their properties for cash (valued from $0 to $15,000). An outhouse you got for free in the first round can earn you lots of money in the second round if you play your cards right. Lots of fun, and just enough to think about to keep it interesting.
  • Incan Gold: 3-8 players, 20 minutes, ages 8 and up, $23 on Amazon.
    A push-your-luck party game with a temple-exploration theme. Players choose each turn whether they want to continue exploring (thus putting their treasures in jeopardy) or cut and run (thus keeping their treasures safe).

If you want an engaging abstract that won’t give you a headache, I’d check out Blokus, Blockers, Ingenious, and Hey That’s My Fish.

  • Blokus: 1-4 players, 20 minutes, ages 5 and up, $16 on Amazon.
    An abstract strategy game with pieces that remind most people of Tetris. It’s a fun, lightweight introduction to abstracts, and it’s very colorful, too. Here’s a strategy tip: forget trying to block people out of your areas, and instead focus on flowing as smoothly as possible through their areas.
  • Blockers: 2-5 players, 40 minutes, ages 8 and up, $18 on Amazon.
    Blockers is a kind of cross between Sudoku and … some game where you try to keep all your pieces linked together.  It’s very clever — players are given 28 tiles (1 for each of 9 columns, 1 for each of 9 rows, and 1 for each of 9 3×3 areas, plus 1 wild card), and they have to play 1 tile each turn.  The tile, unsurprisingly, has to go in that column, that row, or that 3×3 area.  Just make sure you play with this recommended wild tile variant.
  • Ingenious: 1-4 players, 45 minutes, ages 10 and up, $28 on Amazon.
    Ingenious is an abstract tile-laying game where you try to score as many points as possible in each of the six colors by placing your tiles next to similarly-colored tiles on the board.  In typical Knizia fashion, your final score is equal to your score in your weakest color.  Simple rules, simple gameplay, and some fairly interesting tactical decisions make this one a definite keeper.
  • Hey, That’s My Fish! 2-4 players, 20 minutes, ages 8 and up, $12 on Amazon.
    Very abstract, but lots of fun.  A quick game of positioning and area control.  Reminds me a bit of Amazons, but it’s lighter and more playful.

Looking for a two-player game?  Take a look at Lost Cities, Jaipur, Patchwork, Battle Line, and Morels.

  • Lost Cities: 2 players, 30 minutes, ages 10 and up, $16 on Amazon.
    A card game for two where players are trying to lead the most successful expeditions. Players invest in more expeditions in order to give themselves more options, but if they invest in too many, then they can’t support them all.
  • Jaipur: 2 players, 30 minutes, ages 12 and up, $19 on Amazon.
    A fun trading game for two. On your turn, you can either take a good from the market, trade some goods and camels with the market, or sell goods for points.  When everything is going well, there’s a definite rhythm to the game — if you can keep in sync with that, you’ll likely win.
  • Patchwork: 2 players, 30 minutes, ages 8 and up, $28 on Amazon.
    Patchwork is our latest acquisition, and it promises to be a favorite for years to come.  I like the puzzling aspect of the game, and the economy is interesting, too.  Basically, you’re buying pieces to put in your quilt, and you want them all to fit well together.  It sounds easier than it is.
  • Battle Line: 2 players, 30 minutes, ages 12 and up, $18 on Amazon.
    A tactical card game where players try to win either 5 of the 9 flags or 3 flags in a row. S and I play without the optional Tactics cards, but some people swear by them.
  • Morels: 2 players, 30 minutes, ages 10 and up, $25 on Amazon.
    Not as well known as the other games in this group, it’s still an excellent game for two.

Looking for a cooperative game?  I’d start with Hanabi and Pandemic.

  • Hanabi: 2-5 players, 25 minutes, ages 8 and up, $10 on Amazon.
    A very clever and compelling cooperative game where players are trying to put on the best fireworks display they can.  The trick is that you can see everyone’s cards but your own….
  • Pandemic: 2-4 players, 45 minutes, ages 8 and up, $24 on Amazon.
    Players are working together to try to save the world from contagious diseases.  It’s been a hit with everyone I’ve introduced it to, and it’s a great couples game, too.  Not an easy game to win, but very satisfying when you can pull it off.  If you want something by the same designer that’s a little lighter and more suitable for kids, I’d go with Forbidden Desert. It accommodates 5 players and sells for $21 on Amazon.

If you’re looking for a word game that plays more like a party game, I’d try Word on the Street.

  • Word on the Street: 2-8 players, 20 minutes, ages 12 and up, $20 on Amazon.
    Two teams take turns playing tug-of-war for the letters in the middle of the board.  When the clue is read, the team whose turn it is tries to come up with a word that uses a lot of the letters still remaining.  One of the players then spells the chosen word, moving each of its letters one step closer to their side of the board.  Capture 8 letters and your team wins.  Both challenging and fun, it really helps to (a) have a good vocabulary, (b) think flexibly and quickly (there’s a timer), and (c) spell well.

If you’re looking for a family strategy game that’ll accommodate up to 7 players, try 7 Wonders.

  • 7 Wonders: 2-7 players, 30 minutes, ages 10 and up, $32 on Amazon.
    A fun game that can be played with up to 7 players (always a plus), 7 Wonders gives players multiple ways to win and provides a nice introduction to card drafting.  As a bonus, there’s very little downtime, as all players are taking their actions simultaneously.

Looking for a quick game while waiting for the rest of your guests to arrive?  Check out Zombie Dice and Nada.

  • Zombie Dice: 2-8 players, 10 minutes, ages 10 and up, $10 on Amazon.
    A fun push-your-luck filler where you try to eat as many brains as you can before getting hit with three shotgun blasts.  Some kids don’t like the artwork, but others are fine with it.
  • Nada: 2-4 players, 10 minutes, ages 7 and up, $10 on Amazon.
    A quick dice game requiring very fast thinking.  Simple and elegant, it’s a nice filler if you have somewhat manic friends.

Looking for a dexterity game?  Try Fastrack.

  • Fastrack: 2 players, 10 minutes, ages 5 and up, $15 on Amazon.
    An excellent, fast-paced, and highly-addictive dexterity game.  Basically, you’re trying to get all the little pucks through the hole and onto your opponent’s side of the board.  Unfortunately, they’re trying to do the same thing….

And finally, if you don’t mind tracking down some very good, but nonetheless out-of-print games, I’d recommend Lascaux, Santiago, and On the Underground.

  • Lascaux: 3-5 players, 25 minutes, ages 8 and up.
    No, this isn’t designed by Schacht, but the core bidding mechanic is his (from Mogul).  It’s brilliant.  My only complaint is that the cards can be hard to tell apart when they’re all the way across the table.  It’s been reimplemented as Boomerang, but sadly that’s out of print, too.
  • Santiago: 3-5 players, 75 minutes, ages 10 and up.
    A brilliant auction game with some very clever mechanics.  I definitely wish I had designed this one.
  • On the Underground: 2-5 players, 60 minutes, ages 7 and up.
    A great connection game with a lazy passenger.  The only problem is that some players have a hard time figuring out how the passenger will move.  A little fussy, in other words, but good.  One of my favorites.

That’s it!  I hope you find some good games, here.  Happy Gaming.  :-)

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gaming with two: the 10 best games to play with your spouse

December 3, 2011 2 comments

Want to play games with your wife / husband / fiancée / financé / girlfriend / boyfriend / partner / significant other, and you don’t know which games would work best?  You’ve come to the right place.

Each of the games below work very well with two players.  Some of them also work with more, but if you primarily play games with just one other person (as a great many people do), you need a game that excels with just two.

I’ve included two games per category in each of five different categories, mainly to mix things up a bit.  There are plenty of other good games in the categories below, obviously, but the ones I’ve listed certainly won’t disappoint.

And yes, any of these games would make a great gift, if that’s what you’re looking for.  No excuse for buying a monogrammed bowling ball this year.  :-)

Classic Games: 

Backgammon: 2 players, 30 minutes, ages 8 and up, 200 A.D., weight of 2.0.
Backgammon is my favorite game of all time, for a number of reasons — it’s fast, there’s a nice blend of luck and strategy (if you’re playing with the doubling cube), and you can sometimes come from behind to win it in a dramatic way.  Anyone who says that luck dominates the game needs to (a) start using the doubling cube and (b) start playing for money — I guarantee they’ll start taking the game more seriously.  You can also read my review of the game.

Gin Rummy: 2 players, 30 minutes, ages 8 and up, 1909, weight of 1.8.
A card game classic, this game can be played anytime you have a deck of cards, a horizontal surface (handy, but not strictly necessary), and a little time to kill.  My wife and I have played it on the porch, at the breakfast table, in the airport, on a train, waiting in line, &c.  It is in many ways our go-to game of choice.  And again, those who feel the game is dominated by luck need to start playing for money — there’s a lot more to this game than first meets the eye.

Word Games:

Scrabble: 2-4 players, 90 minutes, ages 10 and up, 1949, weight of 2.2.
Scrabble is one of those games you can spend a lifetime playing and never get bored. There’s strategy, there’s blocking, there’s hand management, there’s word knowledge, and there’s a bit of luck, too.  What’s more, you should be able to learn a few new words along the way.

Bananagrams: 1-8 players, 15 minutes, ages 7 and up, 2006, weight of 1.5.
Just imagine Scrabble where everyone is playing on their own tableau as fast as they can, and you have a rough idea what this game is all about.  Every player starts with a number of tiles and tries to fit them into a valid crossword pattern — when they succeed, they yell “peel” and everyone, including themselves, has to draw another tile.  A very fast-paced word game that comes in a cute banana-shaped pouch.

Modern Board Games:

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries: 2-3 players, 45 minutes, ages 8 and up, 2007, weight of 2.0.
A tighter and more cutthroat game than the original Ticket to Ride, TtR: Nordic is the perfect TtR for two players.  It works with three, too, but boy is that board tight.  Don’t get too ambitious when choosing which destination cards to keep, or you might just end up with a negative score!  You can also read a bit about the game and where it fits in the TtR universe.

Pandemic: 2-4 players, 60 minutes, ages 10 and up, 2008, weight of 2.3.
An excellent game where players play against the game itself to try to eradicate diseases.  It’s been a hit with everyone I’ve introduced it to, and it’s a great couples game, too.  Not an easy game to win, but very satisfying when you can pull it off.

Abstract Strategy Games:

Hey, That’s My Fish: 2-4 players, 20 minutes, ages 8 and up, 2003, weight of 1.5.
Move your penguins to try to get as many fish for yourself as you can — move to hex tiles with lots of fish, and try to block other players’ access to parts of the board.  Careful, though, or someone else will sneak into an area you thought you had locked down.  Good fun, and short, too.

Blokus Duo, a.k.a. Travel Blokus: 2 players, 15 minutes, ages 5 and up, 2005, weight of 1.8.
It’s essentially the same game as regular Blokus, but there’s an improved ruleset for 2 players:  in the standard version, 2 players are encouraged to play with two colors each, and this is frankly a bit unsatisfying.  Blokus Duo corrects this fault by shrinking the board and changing the start position.  The improved game can be played on a standard set, however, by following these instructions

Modern Card Games:

Jaipur: 2 players, 30 minutes, ages 12 and up, 2009, weight of 1.6.
A fun trading game for two. On your turn, you can either take a good from the market, trade some goods and camels with the market, or sell goods for points.  When everything is going well, there’s a definite rhythm to the game — if you control the tempo, you’ll likely win.  You can also read my review of the game.

Lost Cities: 2 players, 30 minutes, ages 10 and up, 1999, weight of 1.5.
A card game for two where players are trying to lead the most successful expeditions. Players invest in more expeditions in order to give themselves more options, but if they invest in too many, then they can’t support them all.

 

fun with BGG URLs, part II

June 4, 2011 1 comment

Okay, so I’ve been playing a bit more with the “plays” data on BGG. I went through and looked at the top 20 games from the years 2003 to 2010, sorted by the number of unique players. In other words, which games had the most unique players each year?

When I tried to track each game until it fell out of the top 100, all I got was this rather uninteresting and fairly linear mess:

I then decided to take a page out of László K‘s book and just include the top twenty games each year. The graph is both more interesting and more readable:

So what is this exactly? Take a look at 2003: there should be 20 games along that line. The ones that take up the most vertical space had the most unique players that year. Same for all the other years. If a game persists across the entire graph (quite an achievement), this means that the number of unique players for that game has been in the top 20 on BGG from 2003 to 2010.

Looking at the number of unique players of a game gives you an idea of its popularity; if a game remains popular for a long time, it’s probably a fairly good game.

So what games stand out? Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico, Power Grid, Lost Cities, Citadels, Carcassonne, and Bohnanza. But look also at the big impact Agricola, Dominion, Pandemic, and Race for the Galaxy have had.

Some years you get a bunch of new games cracking the top twenty; other years it all stays pretty much the same. 2004 saw the introduction of both TtR and Power Grid, while 2008 saw the introduction of both Stone Age and “the big four” above.

First Impressions: Biblios, Jaipur, I’m the Boss, Tobago, and El Chupacabra

May 22, 2011 2 comments

I’ll probably blog about some of these games in detail later on, but I thought I’d post a quick note with just my first impressions. First impressions aren’t the be-all end-all, obviously, but they do help determine how enthusiastic I am to play again.

First up: Biblios. An excellent little game by Steve Finn, published by Iello. The artwork is amazing, the cards are thick (but I don’t know how durable), and the game is lots of fun. There are meaningful choices aplenty, a bit of luck, and even some bluffing, too. What you’re trying to do is develop a majority in one or more of five different areas, and you’re trying to make the areas you control worth relatively more than the areas you don’t. A good memory definitely helps but is not essential. Both my wife and I loved the game, so It think this one will be hitting the table often.

Next up: Jaipur. S and I tried this one for the first time this morning, and we were both very impressed. The components are all fantastic, the artwork is excellent, and the cards are very well made. I was happy to see that all the cardboard markers had already been punched out and were lined up nicely in their trays — in general, it’s a very attractive (and brightly-colored) package. Here again there are plenty of opportunities for making difficult decisions combined with just a bit of luck. Players either pick up cards or play them down, trying to trade sets of cards for big points. There’s a definite flow to the game, and players who get into the flow will fare much better than players who don’t. There’s an ongoing debate on the ‘Geek as to whether Jaipur or Lost Cities is the better game for two, but from my perspective there’s really no contest: Jaipur takes it hands down. The only difficulty I see is that it’s a little fussy to set up, but it’s not that big of a problem. Overall, a very under-appreciated game — Sébastien Pauchon should be proud.

Time for I’m the Boss. We brought out I’m the Boss for the first time last night, even though we ordered it around Christmas time. We tried to learn the game at game night, which is never a particularly good idea since (a) it’s hard to learn games as a group, (b) it’s always easier when someone can teach the game, and (c) we were all, shall we say, a bit “under the weather.” If it’s not good for driving or operating heavy machinery, it’s certainly not good for learning a board game. Anyhoo, we muddled through a couple turns, realized we were doing a few things wrong, corrected them, and got going. It is, most definitely, a lively game. By the end of it we were getting pretty creative as to the deals we were making, at one point appointing an arbiter to decide whether or not a “stop” card had been played before the deal was finalized and then trying to bribe the arbiter to decide in our favor. A fun game when you want an invigorating, not to say manic time, but not something I’d be in the mood for very often. It’s an extrovert’s game, much like Pit, and not for the faint of heart. Also, it may be a bit too … random for my taste, a bit too chaotic, but only time will tell.

Tobago. S and I played Tobago for the first time about a month ago, and we were both impressed by the mechanics of the game. A lot of creativity went into this game, and most of the game’s subsystems feel refreshingly new. The components, too, are gorgeous, some of the best I’ve ever seen (confession time: it’s part of the reason I bought the game). A game that looks this good, however, inevitably begs the question: is it any good, or is all that beauty just on the surface? I wish I could tell you, but I’m not ready to pass judgement after just one play. It’s definitely interesting, and some of the mechanics are brilliant, but I have a nagging suspicion that the game is somehow less than the sum of its parts. Only time will tell.

And finally, El Chupacabra — the push-your-luck dice game I’ve been working on. We played it with 7 last night, and it didn’t work as well as I had hoped. It was okay, but it felt overly fussy and somehow lacked tension. The “shoot the moon” aspect worked well, and the accusations were fun (K accused M once just so she could call him a “goat-sucker”), but the base game just didn’t work as well as I had hoped with that many people. We may all have had one too many sheets to the wind for a fair and final assessment of the game, but at this point the outlook is less than favorable — I need to find a way to streamline it a bit, clean up the scoring, and generally make it less fiddly. I’ve got a couple ideas up my sleeve, though, so all is not lost. :-)

gaming gift guide 2010

December 15, 2010 3 comments

So, there’s a gamer or potential gamer you want to buy a gift for, and you have no idea what to get her? This guide, though rough, will certainly help get you started.

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First up are the classics, the best and most shining examples of modern gaming. You can’t go wrong with any of these games, but on the other hand, if your giftee is a gamer, they probably already have them….

Ticket to Ride My favorite game to teach to newbies, this one is always a hit. Easy to teach, easy to learn, and with a playing time of 45 minutes to an hour, you really can’t go wrong.

Carcassonne My personal favorite, this game is extremely creative. You build a landscape by placing tiles, then inhabit that landscape by deploying your meeples. Even if your giftee has the base game, there’s undoubtedly an expansion they’ve overlooked.

Carcassonne: Inns and Cathedrals Speaking of expansions, this is one of the best. It doesn’t change the game much, but it gives you more tiles and allows you to play the game with up to 6 players (the base game only goes to 5). We never play without it.

Settlers of Catan The game that reinvented an industry. Like Scrabble or Monopoly, this game will be around forever.

Stone Age While it hasn’t been around as long as the classics above, it’s the up-and-comer of the family gaming world. The nice thing is, this also means that your gaming friend is less likely to own it….

Blokus An abstract strategy game for 2-4 players with pieces that remind most people of Tetris. It’s a fun, lightweight introduction to abstracts, and it’s very colorful, too.

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Next up are some lesser-known gems that are nonetheless dead reliable.

Thurn & Taxis A game about the creation of the postal system in Germany. A little less intuitive than Ticket to Ride for some players, but my wife and I play it regularly. An overlooked classic.

Alhambra A fun and interesting game themed around trying to build the most lavish palace. Players collect money of various denominations, buy tiles, and then add them to their palace.

Aquaretto A tile-laying game with a push-your-luck element where players get to manage their very own aquarium. It’s similar in some ways to Alhambra, but the two are different enough to justify owning both.

Lost Cities A card game for two where players are trying to lead the most successful expeditions. Players invest in more expeditions in order to give themselves more options, but if they invest in too many, then they can’t support them all.

Battle Line Another card game for two. Players try to win either 5 of the 9 flags or 3 flags in a row. S and I play without the optional Tactics cards, but some people swear by them.

Downfall of Pompeii The setup is a little fiddly, and the gameplay is a little predictable, but Pompeii is always a hit when we bring it out at game night. There’s just something fun about throwing your opponents’ meeples into the volcano….

Citadels A card game where you choose your role for the turn, earn gold, and buy various buildings to try to complete your city. I like to think of it as a very complicated game of rock, paper, scissors — but with the right group it can be lots of fun.

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And finally, an oft-overlooked game that should nonetheless be in every serious gamer’s collection….

Acquire The granddaddy of modern board games, this classic by Sid Sackson holds its own even 48 years after its release. It’s impossible to imagine what the current gaming scene would look like if this game had never existed.

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That’s it. Of course no game is a guaranteed hit, but each of the games above are solid and dependable, appealing to a range of ages and abilities. Most have enough luck so that you can blame your losses on fate, but enough strategy that you can take credit for your victories. What more could you want?