Top 10 Paragraph Driven Games
Robert Carroll
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Below is my Top 10 list of games which are driven by a paragraph, clue, encounter or story book as the primary engine/mechanic of the game (collectively "Paragraph Driven System"). These are games that meet substantially all of the following criteria: (1) Paragraph Driven System; (2) compelling theme or unique mechanic using Paragraph Driven System; and (3) fun to play. This is a list of the BEST! As always, your mileage may vary and some entries may be "controversial." As such, please feel free to comment, debate, or just express your own point of view. Feel free to thumbsup this list (to draw attention and more comments) or any pleasing, interesting or thought provoking entries. If I missed one that you feel is essential or I am "insane for not listing" (trust me, it has been said before), then by all means let the comments fly . . . just be civil. FYI - I am a sucker for comments and discussion and usually thumbsup most if not all of them.

I find that these lists sometimes are helpful for others seeking similar games and the more rich the discussion for more useful the list.

For a complete listing of my Top 10 lists, see--MetaList: Nap's Top 10 Lists.

Thanks for reading and participating!

NOTE: Where I have included quotes from BGG users, I have included the BGG user name in parentheses.
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1. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:228]
Robert Carroll
United States
Lawrence
Kansas
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Awesome piece of work, but needs very relaxed conditions to be played - lots of time and comfy chairs, and maybe some wine.

After 4 plays, I'm convinced there's something in there. If you choose to play a seductress character, and choose seduction skills and seduce when you can, good things will happen to you. If you choose a seductress character with irrelevant skills and attack when you can, it won't work and bad things will happen to you.

There's often a way out of the bad things. If you're wounded, rest and get rid of it. If you're imprisoned, you need to figure out how your character can defeat the jailer. If you're lost, become hopelessly lost and get over it. Don't keep the bad statuses around - take active steps to remove them.

The key to succeeding in this game is believing that you can make a difference, no matter how random it seems. As far as I can tell, it's an awesome design achievement.

--John Farrell (Friendless)


Includes Tales of the Arabian Nights.
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2. Board Game: Ambush! [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:491]
Robert Carroll
United States
Lawrence
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Truly a unique gaming system and experience without equal. A genuine masterpiece. The memorable joy of the storytelling lingers for years and is immensely satisfying. The design of Ambush! successfully blends the cumulative experience and character progression of a role playing game with the best qualities of surprise and fog of war of a tactical experience. There is simply not enough praise for this perfect game experience.

--Brian (R M Chair General)
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3. Board Game: Doctor Who: Solitaire Story Game [Average Rating:8.19 Overall Rank:1644]
Robert Carroll
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Lawrence
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Great game for a Doctor Who fan! You create adventure as you go out of paragraphs, based on your actions and random encounters. But not too random - they all have enough logic between themselves, to make a "believable" story and yet enough randomness to evade repetitiveness. It looks to me that it is as close to The Doctor's adventures as not to become RPG with prethought story which could lessen replayability. Great stuff when you run out "Doctor Who" episodes to watch.

--Bojan Benak (scivias)
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4. Board Game: Agents of SMERSH [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:827]
Robert Carroll
United States
Lawrence
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This game is exactly what I was hoping it would be. We love Tales of the Arabian Nights but it doesn't play like a game as much as just a story building engine. SMERSH actually has objectives that you have to meet and tells a great story in the process. It felt a lot like a mixture of TotAN and Fortune & Glory, another game we love! Our first play was a loss and it didn't matter. It was still an amazing experience. I can't wait to play this one with the family and get a game with 4 or 5 players. LOVE IT!! Perfect 10 and I don't see the rating going down.

--Todd Baker (LycanBlood)
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5. Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:70] [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
Robert Carroll
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Great game for those who like mysteries and are looking for a total immersion experience in late-Victorian London. Very well done mysteries. No board, but you use several reference materials (replica 1890 London address book, city map, London Times newspaper, etc.). Good solo game, or with a partner trying to solve the mystery in as few clues as possible. Great atmosphere if you have imagination.

--Rod Bauer (rod3556lhs)
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6. Board Game: Star Trek: The Adventure Game [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:2515]
Robert Carroll
United States
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Kansas
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Excellent paragraph-driven game by Greg Costikyan. The adventures are well developed, mostly original, and even provide different spins on some based on the original series episodes. Though the game is listed for only 1 or 2 players, this actually makes a decent "party" game for a group of gamers with each player piloting a ship with a skeleton crew (or one who plays Captain while assigning a different player to lead each landing party). Note: The game actually melds two systems. The primary one is the paragraph-driven system, the secondary one is the more wargame-oriented sabotage system, where players try to sabotage one another's ships and bases. The Federation player typically is at an advantage in the paragraph system, but the Klingons are favored on the wargame side. This integration of two important systems is often overlooked in reviews. If you love all things Trek, give this game a 10.

--Rolling bad dice in wargames since 1977 (BradyLS)
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7. Board Game: Gumshoe [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:3942]
Robert Carroll
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This is for solo play.

The gameplay is a 7, but I give this a 9 for the shear ambition, components and atmosphere of the game.

The game is filled with amazing detail and good writing. It really brought me into the world of the game.

The game is very well done.

It is difficult to keep track of all of the simultaneous cases and even with extensive notetaking I felt a bit overwhelmed. There were also times when I would hit a dead end and it was difficult to know what to do next.

As others have mentioned there really is not enought time in a day for one detective to properly cover all of the bases.

Also, it is difficult to know when you have solved the case. There are no literal smoking guns so you never prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. At some point you just have to feel secure you know what happened. The solutions do however make sense and are definitely possible to arrive at without knowing everything or following all leads.

This game really is a delight and has replayability as you will not be able to solve all of the cases before the game is over (on my first play I was shot on day 5 and woke up in the hospital on day 9, the last day of the game. : ) )

I think everyone should take a crack at this game at least once and even when I have completely played it all out I am keeping it because it is so unique and well done.

--Greg Clensy (thejadeape)
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8. Board Game: Barbarian Prince [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:2714]
Robert Carroll
United States
Lawrence
Kansas
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Looks like I should add this to my "games to make some day" list! [update] Made this game with some card stock--very easy to make. I've been having a blast so far--it took me a while to make it across the river at first (stupid mercenaries kept chasing me around), but I finally made it south and spent a while recovering. After hiring a swordsman who got smashed by the troll, I had one gold to my name and no idea where to go. Luckily, I ran into a wizard and his henchman, who joined me as long as I gave them a fair split of any gold we found. The wizard also told me about a great treasure five days travel to the south, so I headed that way. The wizard was turned into smoke by an evil specter on the trip, which was fortunate for me, as I got to pick up his wealth level 60 treasure!

Just an awesome, awesome game. I can't believe this much fun was free!

--Chris Tandlmayer (A Strange Aeon)
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9. Board Game: City of Chaos [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:3326]
Robert Carroll
United States
Lawrence
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This is a weird, wonderful, imaginative storytelling game, full of strange and endearing ideas you won't find in your average fantasy game. The production value is very high, although the rules are messy, and some questions are never answered. Still, this is a game any fan of games like "Tales of the Arabian nights" or Fighting Fantasy books MUST own.

--Moritz Eggert (Eggo)
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10. Board Game: Ranger [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:3987]
Robert Carroll
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Lawrence
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If you like reading about LRRP's or small unit patrol operations in Vietnam or similar jungle environments, this 'game' is for you. It tends to 'read' rather than play (which is a good thing) - you plan a mission and then see what unfolds as you execute it. You definitely have decisions to make, but not the micromanagement sort seen in conventional man-to-man level games. A very unique product in the world of war games.

--Nadir Elfarra (Nadir_E)
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