Author Topic: The Board Game Thread  (Read 11216 times)

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
The Board Game Thread
« on: December 11, 2013, 10:49:35 am »
Been discussing boardgames recently with some members and ex-members of this forum, curious what your favourite and least favourite boardgames are?

A dislike:

I’ll start off with an international favourite that I can’t stand – Monopoly.

As a simulation on the evils of capitalism, it’s great; as a game overall it sucks.

It’s still popular and I think I know why –

Great design – the board and components look great, iconic by now even and the big piles of cash you get dealt out at as part of the game start is appealing to small children (I certainly liked that bit).

It also, common with many great games has something that I’ll grandiosely call ‘changed phase play’ in that the game, conditions and patterns of play effectively alter as the players take over the game world by buying properties (in a lot of really good games the style of play can change subtly or not so subtly requiring different strategy and tactics in subsequent player turns e.g. in chess, the relative ‘value’ of some pieces change as the play progresses and your playing decisions reflect this). 

So far so good for Monopoly – looks great, nice playing pieces and enough change to keep things interesting at first.  But from then on, this is where the game goes from fun family past time to sucky argument fest.  After the relatively early decisions in the game are made regarding property purchase, there’s nothing left to do but watch other players lose – little you choose to do from then on will alter the outcome of the game.  The way a player wins is by knocking out other players, over what can sometimes be a tediously long exercise, mostly involving random chance – there is no real play balance in that once a player starts to lose, they will likely continue to do so barring an overly flukey series of very lucky die rolls.

For those of you saying “Oh but I really used to like Monopoly” ask yourself this, why don’t you still play it? 


A (new) favourite:

Lancaster – a relatively simple game that takes place around 15th Century England

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/96913/lancaster

Had a go at this the first time this weekend – absolutely loved it.

Firstly it can be played with up to five players (theoretically can be played with two but a lot more fun with five) but has good game mechanics to alter the playing conditions to suit a lesser number of players.

It’s a relatively short game, probably can be finished in an hour or less once you have learned the rules.  It only has five turns but these break down in to five or so (from memory) different phases, one of which can repeat itself a fair bit, especially in the last two turns.

It’s a victory points based game, in that while you occupy the game map throughout each turn, it’s cleared after the end of each turn, preventing runaway victories and the way scoring is worked out, it can be uncertain who the definite winner will be until the game ends (and a fortuitous change of laws in the last phase could swing this too).

Play balance is further achieved through a system of laws which players vote on (a lot more fun than it sounds), with each of the different laws helping or hurting various players.  One of the other game mechanics is collecting nobles to your cause, each of which adds a vote to your side during the law phase (so a powerful baron can try and force through laws that favour them).

Another game mechanic which might prove popular with some is that the game involves as a key mechanic almost constant war with France – covered by an abstracted system which allows players to earn both victory points and favours from the king.

The gameplay, while each phase is repeated throughout the turns becomes very different as the game progresses (for one thing you will have acquired more playing pieces and the game map therefore becomes a lot more crowded).

Lastly, the game looks great.  Nice, easy to understand mapboard, good, tactile components (I’m a sucker for wooden playing pieces) and some hidden pieces to keep things interesting.

So what are your likes/dislikes?

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2013, 11:14:18 am »
Haven't played any board games for years, but agree with your assessment of Monopoly. It's a bit one-dimensional and as you say, once someone establishes a strong position, it's game over. I used to play Rat Race a lot as a kid - obviously inspired by Monopoly but for me improves on the concept because your own fortune isn't so dependent on how well other players are doing.

Another one I loved was Escape From Colditz. Unfortunately, I never really got to play it properly much because it's so complex that I could rarely find anyone with the time or patience to devote to it. Plus one player needs to take the part of the Germans, which can cause arguments (although it was so impossibly hard that playing as the Germans meant you were almost guaranteed to "win" every time). I'm not sure it was a particularly good game, tbh - I mostly loved the sumptuous design of it and all the wonderful props and pieces. They don't make 'em like that any more.

And to save anyone else the trouble of saying it: Mousetrap was crap. High-concept rubbish, and the mousetrap itself never worked properly (or might have worked once or twice until one of the flimsy-but-vital pieces got broken).

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2013, 11:15:50 am »
I used to be a board game nut, but not had many people around me sharing the fascination.

My favourite game is dominoes - not the kids' double sixes, but double nines - in a game called Don Matador.  I'll teach anyone who wants to learn, because it's good fun (and made me a few quid back in, as they say, the day).

I suppose that's not really a board game, though.  Nor is Mancala, which I used to enjoy with the boys (TGL was a real whizz).  I like chess, but I'm not much cop at it, so it can't rank as a favourite.  That's be Rithmo.  It's a simplified (simplified!) version of Rithmomachia, which is so fiendishly complex it makes your brain melt.  Rithmo's hard enough, because it combines space, position and number in various complex ways and, while mind-bending, it's not impossible.

Least favourite?  That's easy.  Monopoly, for the reasons WW mentions above.

ETA: I always envied the kids who had Mousetrap, as it was The Toy To Have.  But it was dull as ditchwater, and took far longer to set up than play.
Getting there...

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2013, 11:22:42 am »
Another one I used to like: Stratego - slightly convoluted attempt to upgrade chess that doesn't really improve on the concept (the great thing about chess, after all, is its simplicity) but is fun all the same.

Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2013, 11:33:42 am »
As a child, probably the least favourite game in the cupboard was a game called "The Game of Life".


http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2921/the-game-of-life

It was so dull! There was a little plastic car playing piece with four tiny holes in it, and you would put a plastic matchstick-shaped piece in the driver seat to represent yourself, and proceed along the track by rolling a die. The track was one-dimensional with no detours, and on square ten you would  go to college, on square fifteen you would get a job, square twenty you would get a spouse (a plastic matchstick which was really hard to wodge in the car alongside the driver), square 25 you would get two kids (more matchsticks), square 30 you would get a promotion... and so on until you died at the end and the winner was the person who died with the most money. As a metaphor for life it was chilling - there was no option not to fulfil your social norm, and life was nothing more than a mindless mechanical trudge to the grave.

As games I like, excluding what Iain calls beer-and-pretzel games like Trivial Pursuit and Articulate, I've recently discovered Smallworld, which is a lot of fun. It's like speed Risk. :)
Have you seen my blog? It has words. And pictures! http://ablogofallthingskathy.blogspot.com/

Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2013, 11:34:03 am »
Another vote for Escape from Colditz. I and a schoolmate used to play it at least 3 times per week at lunchtime. I still have my original set in mint condition. No-one to play it with now  :(
Least favourite - Risk. Global domination has never been my thing.
Working my way up to inferior.

Euan Uzami

Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2013, 11:38:25 am »
Worst: Trivial pursuit - shite. I have no frigging interest in, or knowledge of how many wives some obscure hollywood actor has had, or who was the prime minister when the gun was invented.

Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2013, 11:41:28 am »
I play / have played a lot of games.  But don't really get the time these days.

Of things that I have played recently. 
"Unexploded Cow" ok technically a card game.  (www.cheapass.com/node/48‎)
"Kill Dr Lucky" Which is the game that cludeo should have been.  (boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/257)
Siesta,  (boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/608/siesta)  A pretty little game where you are casting shadows.

I like to play "Go" but I need more time to get good.  (by good I mean not be completely rubbish)

I also never really liked Monopoly, it plays ok to start with, but goes on far too long and becomes boring and argumentative.  I am sure this is a game that is bought purely on nostalgia.

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tiermat

  • According to Jane, I'm a Unisex SpaceAdmin
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2013, 11:44:23 am »
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

interzen

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Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2013, 12:37:41 pm »
Least favourite: Monopoly - I probably lack the right mindset to play it well, and even if I did I think its overrated.
Favourite: Risk

I also used to play Go but pretty much gave it up after running out of people to play against when I moved North (that, and being crap) - I'd like to start again but again, lack of opponents is an issue.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2013, 12:46:23 pm »
Favourite but least played - Diplomacy. Like Risk with brains and guile.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Eccentrica Gallumbits

  • Rock 'n' roll and brew, rock 'n' roll and brew...
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2013, 01:01:39 pm »
Another vote for Escape from Colditz. I and a schoolmate used to play it at least 3 times per week at lunchtime. I still have my original set in mint condition. No-one to play it with now  :(
Least favourite - Risk. Global domination has never been my thing.
I played Escape from Colditz once and quite liked it - I think I was about ten. Monopoly's ok until it gets into the boring waiting to lose bit. I used to quite like Cluedo too. I like Scrabble - bobb and I play a lot of facebook Scrabble. My mum used to love Guess Who? but once you've played it a couple of times and learnt the characters, it's too easy. I liked Downfall and Ker-plunk! but I was never keen on Connect 4. I like Trivial Pursuit. I've never played Risk. I used to love Operation, doing surgery to remove small plastic tokens from holes in a person without setting the buzzer off. Buckaroo was ok until it broke (on the second day we had it, I think) - it was a donkey with a saddle, and you had to hang things on his saddle until he bucked and kicked them off. Mousetrap isn't worth the three hours it takes to set up. A friend of mine had Jaws, which was kind of like Buckaroo - a plastic shark with a mouth full of plastic crap, and you remove items one by one until the jaws snap shut. Hungry Hippos does my head in, it's so noisy. I liked Othello and Mastermind too.
My feminist marxist dialectic brings all the boys to the yard.


fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2013, 01:11:44 pm »
Backgammon.


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TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

interzen

  • Venture Altruist
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Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2013, 01:15:10 pm »
Backgammon.
Yes! I used to play backgammon a lot at Uni - don't play it much now, again for lack of opponents.

I prefer it to chess which I can play, but am not particularly good at.

LEE

Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2013, 01:19:50 pm »
Worst - Mousetrap.  The advert convinced kids that it was an exciting game.  It really was 99.9% dull (forcing kids to assemble the trap disguised as a game) with 0.1% payoff at the very end.  Invariably you would just use it as a toy and never play the game more than once.

Best - Escape from Colditz.  I used to call "Rappel" just when all the prisoners were clearly in place to make a break for it.  (Then I'd play my "Shoot to kill" card on those Britisher Tommy Schwein).


Monopoly is only good if you play it with booze and all chip a fiver into the kitty.  Winner takes all.  Makes it infinitely more interesting.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2013, 01:40:13 pm »
Backgammon is another game I enjoy but am not very good at.
Getting there...

Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2013, 01:47:18 pm »
I think I like any boardgame that can trigger a full-on explosive tantrum in a childer, with f-words, sweeping of ALL the board pieces across the living room in one expansive arm gesture, and some Weapons Grade Door Slamming  :thumbsup:.

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2013, 01:49:52 pm »
*hatches Christmas afternoon plan*
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2013, 01:52:14 pm »
Worst - Mousetrap.  The advert convinced kids that it was an exciting game.  It really was 99.9% dull (forcing kids to assemble the trap disguised as a game) with 0.1% payoff at the very end.  Invariably you would just use it as a toy and never play the game more than once.

I'm going to stick up for mousetrap.  Preferably in its early, less plastic, incarnations.  As a game, it was a marginally less dull version of Ludo.  But nobody actually played the game, did they?  It was a kit of parts for a surprisingly reliable Rube Goldberg machine.  At least until the ball went missing.


Monopoly: It either continues until the youngest player upends the bank in a huff, or the eventual heat death of the universe.  It's the sort of tedious task that computers were invented for.  I'll put Game Of Life in the same broad category, but without the class.

Trivial Pursuit: I know approximately fuck all about sport or ex-prime-minsters, so am at a natural disadvantage.  Experience has taught me to answer "The Sex Pistols" to all music questions.  Less dull than monopoly, it's on a similar level to watching University Challenge, where you can only ever answer the occasional laughably easy chemistry question.


I'm struggling to think of board games I actually enjoy.  Does Scrabble count?  Otherwise I'll have to go for Risk (but not in a Arnold Rimmer way).
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

red marley

Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2013, 01:58:06 pm »
The critiques of Monopoly of course also apply to capitalism (mostly luck to start with, and once imbalances are established, they are very hard to overturn), which I guess was the point. The only difference being that most of us get dumped into the real life version once the property owners have already been playing for years. The trouble is that once the point has been made, replay value is almost zero.

Being brought up in a lefty household, we had a copy of the Marxist alternative  to Monopoly - Class Struggle. It had rules like "The order of play shall be determined by allowing the richest, white, middle aged males to go first". But like Monopoly, once the point had been made, it had little entertainment value.

One of my favourite games that I've not played for years (due to lack of likeminded players within arms' reach) was Kingmaker - a complex 'move tokens around England' kind of game set during the wars of the roses. Great fun, especially if you are a fan of hoards of Flemish crossbowmen.

Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2013, 02:00:58 pm »
Never, ever play Monopoly with a solicitor!

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2013, 02:05:17 pm »
Quote
Never, ever play Monopoly with a solicitor !
Getting there...

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2013, 02:16:07 pm »
Worst - Mousetrap.  The advert convinced kids that it was an exciting game.  It really was 99.9% dull (forcing kids to assemble the trap disguised as a game) with 0.1% payoff at the very end.  Invariably you would just use it as a toy and never play the game more than once.

I'm going to stick up for mousetrap.  Preferably in its early, less plastic, incarnations.  As a game, it was a marginally less dull version of Ludo.  But nobody actually played the game, did they?  It was a kit of parts for a surprisingly reliable Rube Goldberg machine.  At least until the ball went missing.


Monopoly: It either continues until the youngest player upends the bank in a huff, or the eventual heat death of the universe.  It's the sort of tedious task that computers were invented for.  I'll put Game Of Life in the same broad category, but without the class.

Trivial Pursuit: I know approximately fuck all about sport or ex-prime-minsters, so am at a natural disadvantage.  Experience has taught me to answer "The Sex Pistols" to all music questions.  Less dull than monopoly, it's on a similar level to watching University Challenge, where you can only ever answer the occasional laughably easy chemistry question.


I'm struggling to think of board games I actually enjoy.  Does Scrabble count?  Otherwise I'll have to go for Risk (but not in a Arnold Rimmer way).

“Then I rolled a two and a one...”

Second only to my hatred of Monopoly are the tedious TV tie-in games that appear around Christmas, these are generally a reworking of Ludo or Snakes & Ladders with some TV references shoehorned in.  They are generally utterly shite (I was given a Dr Who one one year, the game was rubbish but it came with a toy TARDIS and six small plastic Daleks so it wasn’t completely wasted (I think I was 38 when I got given that).

The worst game my family ever bought and played at Christmas was a quiz one based on the monumentally-dull-if-you-don’t-like-sport TV programme ‘A Question of Sport’.  It was monumentally dull because I don’t like sport.

Also, ‘not playing’ was not a permitted option, so as all the questions were multiple choice I based my answers on the result of random die rolls.  I got told off because this worked too well.

I think this sort of thing is the reason a lot of people don’t like or play boardgames – enforced fun in social situations often combined with actually really badly designed games that are unenjoyable to play.

I’ve tried several times to get my family to play a decent game but there is a mental block that seems to go “Uh-oh, weird stuff I do not want to understand’.  It’s a pity as things like tile-building games like any of the versions of Carcassonne can be picked up by almost anyone and are fun to play – I appreciate that not everyone wants to play a game but once they make the decision “Let’s play a game”, it’s endlessly disappointing that they don’t want to play ‘good’ ones. 

This isn’t subjective – I like games of all kinds, from simple five minute cardgames to ridiculously complicated wargames involving over 2,000 unit counters that can take hundreds of hours to complete.  I like to think I can pick a game that suits an audience but there is a big disconnect by people who don’t generally play games from anything that doesn’t look ‘normal’. It’s annoying.

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2013, 02:20:41 pm »
The critiques of Monopoly of course also apply to capitalism (mostly luck to start with, and once imbalances are established, they are very hard to overturn), which I guess was the point. The only difference being that most of us get dumped into the real life version once the property owners have already been playing for years. The trouble is that once the point has been made, replay value is almost zero.

Being brought up in a lefty household, we had a copy of the Marxist alternative  to Monopoly - Class Struggle. It had rules like "The order of play shall be determined by allowing the richest, white, middle aged males to go first". But like Monopoly, once the point had been made, it had little entertainment value.

One of my favourite games that I've not played for years (due to lack of likeminded players within arms' reach) was Kingmaker - a complex 'move tokens around England' kind of game set during the wars of the roses. Great fun, especially if you are a fan of hoards of Flemish crossbowmen.

ISTR that a game called ‘Acquire’ was a better rampant capitalism game, only played it once though.

Kingmaker isn’t a bad game but from memory, the endgame seems to commonly result in everyone holing up in the main cities waiting for the player in York to die from a random plague event card.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: What are your favourite/least favourite board games?
« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2013, 02:21:16 pm »
Yeah, I'm aware through friends who take this stuff seriously that there are loads of actually well-designed games out there.  I've not played any myself.

There are few things in life as unpleasant as enforced fun in social situations.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...