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  #1  
Old 01-17-2009, 01:31 PM
Only Mostly Dead Only Mostly Dead is offline
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Adult board games (Mayfair, Hans im Gluck, Rio Grande, etc.)

I'm spending a little time in another state, and today, while looking around a local mall, I found a wonderfully well-stocked board game store, stocked full with all kinds of games that are otherwise quite difficult to find.

However, because these games run at least $20 per, and some go up to $80 or $90, I'm in over my head on which true gems I may want to buy before I leave.

I already own, and love, Settlers of Catan (plus expansions). Carcassone gets played, but not nearly as much. We also play a decent bit of Ravensburger's The Amazeing Labyrinth as a quick game.

What would my fellow geeks recommend? I didn't ask if they can order games they don't stock, but the stock looked very good on the popular ones I don't have (Tigris and Euphrates, Ra, Puerto Rico, etc.) and far far more. But I don't know where to start at $40 per box. Babel looked interesting, and billed itself as a two-person game. Anybody played that one?

Please explain why a given game is good. And bonus points if there is a strong game mechanic for two people. Obviously, larger group games are still good, since we manage regular Settlers tables.

Last edited by Only Mostly Dead; 01-17-2009 at 01:33 PM..
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  #2  
Old 01-17-2009, 01:42 PM
MsWhatsit MsWhatsit is offline
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Puerto Rico is a great game, but does not really work for two people. Well, there's a 2-person modification that you can download from the Internet, but it's really designed for at least 3. It's a great strategy game, though. There's a lot going on with it but it's not so complicated as to frustrate newbies.

A new game that we just got for Christmas and are really liking is Taj Mahal, which again requires a minimum of 3 people. The concept is that you move around 12 provinces, and in each one there's a mini-auction for commodities and palace placement. The rules are very quick to pick up, but there's a lot of strategy involved.

Another perennial favorite is Power Grid, which does work as a 2-player game, although IMO it is better with 4-5 people. In Power Grid, you are building and placing power plants. In each turn there is a power plant auction, at which you purchase a power plant of a particular fuel burning type; then you buy your fuel for it, build power plants in cities on the map, and run the plants to collect income. It's very replayable; we've had it for 3-4 years now and I still love pulling it out whenever possible.

San Juan is a great little card game based on Puerto Rico. It's quick and fun, and works very nicely with 2, but can take up to 4. It's a good "filler" game.

Caylus is another good game we've played quite a bit of. In Caylus, you place "workers" on various tiles in order to accumulate resources and gold. It's a little more complicated to pick up on first play, but it's really a lot of fun. Plays fine with 2, is a little more interesting with a larger group, though.

I would recommend www.boardgamegeek.com for game recommendations, reviews, ratings, strategy guides, etc. You can get a quick idea of a game's relative quality/popularity just by looking at its geek rating.
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  #3  
Old 01-17-2009, 01:57 PM
TommyTutone TommyTutone is offline
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Instead of San Juan, which I do enjoy, consider the new Dominion. It plays like an CCG, but is self contained. It plays well for up to 4 with a bit more downtime between turns.

Ticket to Ride plays well for two, better for three or four, and is a great gateway game for sucking in new players unfamiliar with the 'German style' board game. It's a rail theme, but plays more like Rummy and can be anywhere between friendly and cutthroat depending on your playstyle.

Agricola is supposed to be the new be-all end-all game of uberness, and while I don't completely buy that, it is a great game about worker placement and diversification. For the worker placement games, I still prefer Caylus and Stone Age but your mileage may vary.
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  #4  
Old 01-17-2009, 02:05 PM
Only Mostly Dead Only Mostly Dead is offline
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Originally Posted by MsWhatsit View Post
I would recommend www.boardgamegeek.com for game recommendations, reviews, ratings, strategy guides, etc. You can get a quick idea of a game's relative quality/popularity just by looking at its geek rating.
I meant to include that in my OP. I've looked at boardgamegeek, and though I can see that Puerto Rico or Agricola are well-regarded, I feel more comfortable asking additional questions of my fellow Dopers than posting there, especially since I'm nowhere near as hardcore about the genre as many of them appear to be.

I see that San Juan is its own game, but thematically consistent with Puerto Rico? How much would playing Puerto Rico assist in playing San Juan?

I should have also mentioned in the OP that I am looking for some games that can ease non-gamers in. It's a little confusing to sit somebody who hasn't played anything more complex than Monopoly down in front of a Settlers board and try to explain even the rudiments of the game. I'm happy to see that Puerto Rico has an easy enough learning curve to not confuse new players too much, but what else would be good? For these games, I want some games that will allow new players to be competitive and find it enjoyable, but at the same time, have enough depth that the games don't just sit there after somebody's first game night.

I may also ask for impressions on a few specific games, if people have played them. One that I saw in the store, which appeared interesting but easy for new players, is TransAmerica. Anybody played it?

Last edited by Only Mostly Dead; 01-17-2009 at 02:09 PM..
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  #5  
Old 01-17-2009, 02:21 PM
Captain_C Captain_C is offline
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I am a fan of board games that can easily be taught to beginners but still have enough strategy that keep the veteran gamers entertained. Games on my shelf that get pulled out to play regularly are Blokus, Puerto Rico, Carcassone, Guillotine, and Bohnanza.
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  #6  
Old 01-17-2009, 02:43 PM
Athena Athena is offline
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Ingenious is amazingly fun for two (or more) people. Good party game, too, since it's really easy to learn how to play, but difficult to master.
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  #7  
Old 01-17-2009, 03:07 PM
Elyanna Elyanna is offline
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Seconding Ingenious & Bohnanza.

I, too, have been looking for board games for two lately. My boyfriend & I love games, though we're both pretty bad sports (we're working on that). So this Christmas, I got two games for him, and I put a bunch of games on my wish list and got one of those from my mother.

Bohnanza is more a card game than a board game; you draw bean cards which you strategically plant and trade to gain the most coin. It can be played by 2 to 7 players. I didn't like the 2 player version as much as I enjoyed the 3+ versions, however. Neither my boyfriend nor I found it too complicated, though it has 7 pages of rules, and some of the people we played it with thought it was too complex. My cousin compared it to Catan, probably because of the complexity. Personally, I think it's not as complex as Catan.

Ingenious is a more abstract matching game. The 2-player version holds up well.

Lastly, Lost Cities is a card/board game for 2. I highly recommend it because it is simple enough for non-gamers without being boring.
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  #8  
Old 01-17-2009, 04:39 PM
Just Some Guy Just Some Guy is offline
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Originally Posted by Only Mostly Dead View Post
I may also ask for impressions on a few specific games, if people have played them. One that I saw in the store, which appeared interesting but easy for new players, is TransAmerica. Anybody played it?
I like it quite a bit as an abstract are definition game but it works best with more than two players and it does get overshadowed quite a bit by the somewhat similar Ticket to Ride (both are about building and controlling paths but the methods used in each are quite different). There is a free computer version out there you can try to see if it is to your taste.

It's hard for me to get a read on your preferences from your OP since you only mentioned two well regarded popular games and one classic. With board games in particular I like to focus my recommendations more since it is quite a bit of an investment. So my recommendations are going to be for a variety of relatively simple games that may open larger doors for you.

Before I get into those I would not recommend Puerto Rico or Tigris and Euphratis right off the bat. They're well liked (and for good reason) but the they're fairly abstract brain burners. They're rough to get into unless you have someone help you over the learning curve on them. They're definitely where I would point someone who was looking for a game with a bit more depth and they liked economic games or area control games; it's just that I've seen people taking some tentative steps into board gaming having some real problems with them.

For a cooperative game I'd recommend Shadows Over Camelot. You should not play it with less than four and the closer you get to the maximum of seven players the better it is. Each player is a knight who is trying to keep Camelot going in the last days of Arthur's reign and they do this by playing cards in different ways. The catch is that one of the players may be a traitor who is attempting to destroy Camelot. The mechanics are very simple and the game has a mechanism where something bad happens every turn but something good does not always happen to balance it so even if no one is working against the rest of the players suspicion can cause the whole thing to collapse. The only major problem with the game is that it's solvable for the vast majority of play throughs (80 to 90% roughly) but it can take a while for you to develop the unbeatable strategy if you don't go looking for it.

There's a new edition of Formula De available and while the game is a bit too random for some people's tastes I enjoy the take on auto racing. It's very playable with two people where you can each run a racing team but it also scales up quite far. The basic idea is that you have a different die for each "gear" that your race car is in and these dice do not have the normal distribution on them. First gear is a d4 with only 1-2 on it, for example, while sixth is a d30 that has 21-30 on its faces. You can only upshift once on your turn and reducing your speed too much or going through curves fast puts wear on your car. The key to this game is the cornering; each corner has a number by it letting you know how many times a car must end a turn within that corner. So a very long 1 stop corner might let you roll a high gear die to slide through it fast while a twisting three stop corner might have you strain your brakes and engine downshifting enough that you don't slam into the wall.

That's good for a start I suppose especially since you are getting some good advice already in the thread. If you're really interesting in playing board games then I do recommend going to a convention mainly so that you can sample the variety of gaming out there.
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  #9  
Old 01-18-2009, 05:15 AM
glee glee is offline
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I'm a keen games player, based on starting chess when I was a kid.

If you want a pure skill game where individual moves are straightforward but the best strategy wins, then try the set of railway games known as 18xx.

Here's a guide to the games.

There are many versions, all following the basic scheme of making more money than your competitors.
I recommend these 3 in particular:

1830 - recreates the 'Robber Baron' period in US railways and sometimes ends abruptly in a bankruptcy!

1835 - a good introduction for beginners, since the game (set in Germany) plays fairly quickly and there is usually a close finish

1856 - my current favourite, set in Canada, where all facets of the game (track-laying, share + train buying) count.

Last edited by glee; 01-18-2009 at 05:15 AM..
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  #10  
Old 01-18-2009, 06:24 AM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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If you've got at least 5 friends, and don't mind playing all afternoon, and possibly sowing the seeds of everlasting hatred, Diplomacy is for you. It's a very simple game, with very simple rules, absolutely zero random chance, but the human element adds umpteenth layers of complexity. It's like multiplayer chess. With backstabs. Lots and lots of backstabs.
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  #11  
Old 01-18-2009, 06:27 AM
clairobscur clairobscur is online now
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I would recommend checking this site to people who're interested in "adult board game". The author (a former friend of mine) is very knowledgeable about games (and has published a number of them himself), and his "ideal game library" contain a number of excellent recommendations, with a detailed comment about each game listed. It's likely that not all of them will be available in your area, but it's still an excellent reference site for boardgames, IMO.




ETA : by clicking on "list" you get his recommended games sorted in quite precise categories, which help choosing according to your style. Also at the bottom of the game's description, there's a list of recommendations if you liked this particular game.Herehttp://www.faidutti.com/index.php?Mo...dotheque&id=37 the page about Settlers of Catan, for instance.

Last edited by clairobscur; 01-18-2009 at 06:31 AM..
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  #12  
Old 01-18-2009, 06:54 AM
Captain_C Captain_C is offline
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You may enjoy this video blog known as Board Games with Scott. I've found his suggestions very helpful, and he has yet to steer me wrong on a board game purchase. He even attended my local board gaming group a few months ago here in Lansing (He lives in New York, no idea why he was in the area) and he's a great teacher of new games. Had 5 of us complete newbies playing Agricola like champs in under 20 minutes.


http://www.boardgameswithscott.com/

Last edited by Captain_C; 01-18-2009 at 06:55 AM..
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  #13  
Old 01-18-2009, 07:55 AM
Just Some Guy Just Some Guy is offline
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Originally Posted by Captain_C View Post
You may enjoy this video blog known as Board Games with Scott. I've found his suggestions very helpful, and he has yet to steer me wrong on a board game purchase. He even attended my local board gaming group a few months ago here in Lansing (He lives in New York, no idea why he was in the area) and he's a great teacher of new games. Had 5 of us complete newbies playing Agricola like champs in under 20 minutes.


http://www.boardgameswithscott.com/
Now there is an excellent idea mainly because the brief demo play he provides gives you a lot of insight into whether or not it is a game you would enjoy and it's helped me over the learning curve in a few painfully complicated games (Die Macher, anyone?).
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  #14  
Old 01-18-2009, 08:37 AM
N9IWP N9IWP is offline
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Scott does go over the 18xx series. (I don't think they are for me though I didn't mind Railroad Tycoon)

Alhambra will play 2-6, and I've heard it plays well will with two. There is actaully a phantom 3rd player (who CAN win the game). If you can handle Settlers you can handle this.

Puerto Rico isn't very complicated, although the optimal move may not be obvious. It is a good game if every one is new or experienced. (and Scott has a video on it)
It is a bit dry.

Agricola is a bit much for newbies - I recommend playing the family version. Stone Age is a good intro to the "worker placement" mechanism (if a bit too random for me)

Brian
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  #15  
Old 01-18-2009, 05:37 PM
N9IWP N9IWP is offline
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Is there a game group in your area? (try meetup). If, I recommend going to thier events. Someone will have games your are interested in and you can determine if they are games for you and the other people in YOUR group).
Plus explaining a game you have played is a lot easier than from the rule book (even if you read it before, which I strongly suggest)

Brian

Last edited by N9IWP; 01-18-2009 at 05:38 PM..
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  #16  
Old 01-18-2009, 06:06 PM
Only Mostly Dead Only Mostly Dead is offline
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Originally Posted by N9IWP View Post
Is there a game group in your area? (try meetup). If, I recommend going to thier events.
There is a chance; the store had tables, and advertised Tuesday adults, Friday families. I'm going to be here through March, so there is certainly enough time to attend a few Tuesdays (schedule permitting). But the schedule will permit only sporadically, and then I'm gone.

For the most part, I'm looking to buy two or three games that, when I return home, I can play at game nights with friends. Some friends are pretty serious gamers, and all friends are smart enough that they can work through one game to learn the rules, then valuably contribute the second time. We've played probably half a dozen other European-style tile or card games at one friend's house (I just can't remember the names of any. Most were, at best, only moderately impressive. For example, one was themed that you went through an Incan temple, and based on the cards drawn, and your nerve to keep your turn playing, you could gain more and more little plastic gems). Another friend is into out-of-print boardgames. The original version of Careers went over well.

For the time being, the games will just sit my my hotel room, unplayed.
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  #17  
Old 01-18-2009, 06:19 PM
Scuba_Ben Scuba_Ben is offline
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Only Mostly Dead, I'm in two games groups in north Virginia that might interest you. We play "Euro" games such as you listed in the OP. (Last night, I won at Agricola, and was barely edged out in Kingsburg.)

Please contact me for details; my address is in my profile.
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  #18  
Old 01-18-2009, 06:30 PM
Strange Machine Strange Machine is offline
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While not board games, my group still plays loads of Fluxx, Chrononauts and NanoFictionary (All card games by Looney Labs), especially when non/casual-gamers are in the mix. They also have the benefit of being less than $20.

We also enjoy the co-op games like Shadows over Camelot and Arkham Horror (Lovecraft theme is quite fleshed out and interesting which makes it a more popular choice over the humdrum of building walls and growing grain). Usually everyone is working together to beat the board, but both have elements of cutthroat play.
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Old 01-18-2009, 10:10 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Another vote for Puerto Rico. Although it's true that it's a multi-player game. The two big factors in the games are limits and relative advantage. Limits because almost everything has a finite supply (even victory) so you have to figure out how to work with what you've got. Relative advantage because generally when you do something in the game, all the other players will also be able to do it - so rather than a zero-sum game where you get a plus and your opponet gets a minus, in Puerto Rico it's often a case where everyone gets a plus and you just try to get a bigger plus than the others.
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  #20  
Old 01-19-2009, 01:55 AM
ekweizn ekweizn is offline
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One I haven't seen mentioned is Pandemic, a fun cooperative game that plays 2-4 in which each player is part of a team trying to cure diseases that crop up around the world before you run out of time/the world is overrun by disease. The theme is fun and gameplay is fairly intuitive. What's interesting about it is that the game has its own AI in a certain way--cities that have been infected previously are more likely to get reinfected, causing tension to build very quickly.
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  #21  
Old 01-19-2009, 04:59 AM
glee glee is offline
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Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
If you've got at least 5 friends, and don't mind playing all afternoon, and possibly sowing the seeds of everlasting hatred, Diplomacy is for you. It's a very simple game, with very simple rules, absolutely zero random chance, but the human element adds umpteenth layers of complexity. It's like multiplayer chess. With backstabs. Lots and lots of backstabs.
Diplomacy is a wonderful game, but it does have the initial random chance draw for countries, which are not equal, e.g.:

- France is better than Austria
- Russia is more interesting than Italy.

Also it's not like chess (apart from needing concentration).
You usually can't predict more than one move ahead in Diplomacy. The game requires knowledge of emotion and who you can trust. The threat of backstabbing is always present, but too many backstabs mean you can't form alliances.
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  #22  
Old 01-19-2009, 08:28 AM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is offline
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Another two-person game you might enjoy is Odin's Ravens. It's got many of the mechanics of a good "German" board game: deft combination of random chance with strategy, ability to affect the opposing player, cool little wooden pieces and artistic cards/gameboard. And it plays fairly quickly, which means you can get a lot of results in a short period of time, allowing you to try different strategies and get some idea of their effectiveness without spending a month of Sundays doing it.
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Old 01-19-2009, 09:53 AM
Scuba_Ben Scuba_Ben is offline
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Originally Posted by ekweizn View Post
One I haven't seen mentioned is Pandemic, a fun cooperative game that plays 2-4 in which each player is part of a team trying to cure diseases that crop up around the world before you run out of time/the world is overrun by disease. The theme is fun and gameplay is fairly intuitive. What's interesting about it is that the game has its own AI in a certain way--cities that have been infected previously are more likely to get reinfected, causing tension to build very quickly.
I didn't mention Pandemic because I saw it for the first time on Saturday.

The fact that it's a cooperative game instead of a confrontational game makes for a very different style of play.
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  #24  
Old 01-19-2009, 10:55 AM
Caldazar Caldazar is offline
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I have been getting a lot of use out of my copy of Dominion of late. It is a deck building game in which you use your existing deck resources to purchase additional cards to add to your deck. There are multiple strategic paths to victory, and the game plays well with two, three, or four players (the strategies change with the number of players). Further, the strategies from game to game change since you only play with a subset of the available cards in any given game, leading to quite a bit of replayability. It takes a few plays to get the hang of minimizing downtime, since there is a lot of deck shuffling. After awhile, you learn how to time your deck shuffling and other non-interactive tasks while others are taking their turns.

BrettspielWelt is a good place to test drive games. It is a free site that features online play for some of the more popular games. The interface is somewhat confusing at first, though.
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  #25  
Old 01-19-2009, 11:32 AM
ArrMatey! ArrMatey! is offline
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I originally came here to recommend Order of the Stick, but then I thought about it; my friends and I like the game because we like the comic strip, but each time we play it tends to end up a very long, drawn-out process, and we rarely actually finish a game (the small version of the game takes several hours at least). Therefore, I recomend, as a non-board game, Grave Robbers from Outer Space, Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island, and the various others in the 'series' (Link: http://www.zmangames.com/ and scroll down to the 'b-movie releases'). Won't run a whole night, but they're very, very amusing 'quick' games.
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  #26  
Old 01-19-2009, 06:07 PM
Sitnam Sitnam is offline
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Boardgamegeek.com is my mecca, and their advice is sound.

Ticket To Ride - A telltale indication of a good game is the amount of expansion/spin offs it generates and this is true of Ticket to Ride. The rules can be explained and fully understood in minutes and the dynamic complexity becomes obvious almost as fast (ala Settlers of Catan). It's needs anywhere from 3 to 5 players, 3 kinda sucks but 4 is good. Luck isn't as much of a factor and planning and staying ahead of your opponents reveals a true savay player. Ticket to Ride is a game where your 10 year old could beat you and deserve the win.

Fury of Dracula - up to 4 players try to hunt down 1 player as Dracula running and hiding in Europe, the map and components are beautiful and tension builds for everyone as the trail gets hotter. The designers have really struck a great balance between the two sides and my friends as I are approaching a 50 - 50 split in wins

Bohnanza - I really don't care for card games, but I must admit Bohnanza is flat out addictive. An auction game, each of the players tries to grow the most beans in their fields to turn the highest profit. My girlfriends family was in to this and I picked it up fairly quickly.

Mag-blast - Is also worth a look, each person is a different race and you all fight in direct combat in space. The game is funny and has a fair amount of strategy that can overcome luck. It does suffer a bit from the ruthless picking-on-the-weak-guy tendencies of games like Risk.

Among games I haven't yet played, but will soon get:

Agricola
Puerto Rico
San Juan
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  #27  
Old 01-19-2009, 06:25 PM
Sitnam Sitnam is offline
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2 player games I have played and love:
Twilight Struggle
Balloon Cup
Pick & Pack
Lost Cities


I forgot to add Evo to the list before, a game where you strive to evolve your dinosaurs to be as successful as possible before the comet comes. A bit strategy board game a bit auction for the genetic advances, the best part is when you decide what mutations will help the most and what you can afford to outbid your opponents by.
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  #28  
Old 01-20-2009, 06:55 AM
N9IWP N9IWP is offline
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Geeklist that matches # players to the game (in light, medium, and heavy categories)

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/38669

Brian
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  #29  
Old 01-20-2009, 09:07 PM
Steve MB Steve MB is offline
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Most of the recommendations I thought of were already mentioned -- a couple others you might want to check out are Thurn & Taxis (a route-building game but with very different mechanics from Ticket to Ride -- the routes are means toward the end of setting up station houses, and players race to achieve goals first but don't directly "block" each other) -- and Cartagena (a race game with quite a bit more strategy than you'd expect from its simple mechanics; plays in about 20 minutes).
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