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Hey, that sounds cool! Or, mechanics that make you want to try a game
lingwei ko
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One particular aspect of games that really perk my interest are novel game mechanics. I'll readily admit - I'm quite shallow when it comes to getting my attention, so I think many things are 'cool'. What else do people think are funky game mechanics?

(This is my first geeklist, and I'll freely admit that I'm making this for the sole purpose of seeing what else people recommend with interesting mechanics. Thanks for your contribution in advance!)

Edit 04/27 - thanks everyone for adding to the list! My wishlist of games has suddenly grown by a staggering amount. I'll never be able to get through all the games here, plus quite a few of them aren't available (e.g. Space Hulk, Fireball Island!)
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26. Board Game: Fluxx [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:4583] [Average Rating:5.73 Unranked]
J. Random Human
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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I was intrigued by the idea of the rules of the game being subject to change from within the game itself. Unfortunately, Fluxx in its current state tends to suffer badly from wildly inconsistent play lengths and ambiguous rule interactions (to say nothing of the randomness that drives many players crazy).

I live in hope, however, that someone will be able to exploit this mechanic effectively in a future game.
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27. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:364]
Pat Wilz
United States
Bay St. Louis
MS
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I am intrigued by the notion of a trivia game that can be won by someone who doesn't know a lot about trivia. It seems to have the making of a great party game/game for non-gamers that can still be fun for regular gamers.
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28. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:46]
Pat Wilz
United States
Bay St. Louis
MS
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I went out and bought Memoir '44 after playing this. I thought it was great that someone had come up with a war/miniatures game that was both based on a card set and GOOD.

A war game based on cards shouldn't be this much fun, but it is!
 
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29. Board Game: Space Hulk [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:266]
King of the Dead
United States
Los Angeles
California
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Many of the mechanics in this game are extremely fun and (at the time I got it) unique.

1- Timer for marine player but not the genestealers to simulate (very well!) the slower speed and stress that player is under vs the lightening speed of the 'stealers. The timer will reduce as you lose figures which adds even more stress. The marine player has VERY few to begin with and the loss of even one man could spell disaster while the stealers can send never ending waves on top of your position.

2- Verly limited (and random 1-6) extra command points for marines per turn vs virtually unlimited move ability for the stealers, again to simulate the speed and stress levels for each side.

3- Hidden "blips" for the genestealers. A marker shows a motion sensor reading on one side and between 1-6(!) stealers on the other. There are even "false reading" -empty- markers. Yet again, this adds tremendous stress through limited knowledge for the marine player while the stealers have near complete information.

4- The combat is extremely fast and satisfying through a sequence of die rolls. No charts or anything. Just roll a number (or symbol for second edition) and remove a figure... or spend more action points to shoot again...? Or do I use it to move away...? Or should I shut the door...? Or shoot the door...?HURRY UP! TIME IS RUNNING OUT!!!!!

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30. Board Game: TAMSK [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1070]
Todd McCorkle
United States
Anderson
Indiana
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Sand timers as pieces.

The goal of the game is to be able to move when your opponent can't. Each spot on the board can only accept a piece moving to it x number of times (1 for the outer ring, more as you move inward).

The best part, when making your move, you flip the sand timer over. If a timer ever runs out, it can't be moved for the rest of the game.
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31. Board Game: Dragon's Gold [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1168]
Todd McCorkle
United States
Anderson
Indiana
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Timed negotiations

The heart of this game is negotiating who gets what treasure. The interesting part: you only have about a minute to reach an agreement or no one gets anything.
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32. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:213]
Dick Hunt
United States
Ovid
Michigan
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The neat mechanic in Citadels is the role-choosing round. Each possible role in the game has a unique power that makes it worth getting, and some of them are very helpful if you have certain types of district cards in the town you need to build in order to win the game.

Of course, everyone can see which district cards you've played, so they all know which role you'd probably love to take for any given round of play. And the powers of a couple of the roles you can choose are simply opponent-hosing actions that make people think twice about taking their most obvious roles.

For example, if you have lots of green districts in your city, the Merchant is the role for you! He'll help you make lots of cash with those green districts! Of course, if someone else takes the Assassin card and announces that he's assassinating the Merchant in this round, you lose your turn! And if you dodge that bullet, there's the Thief, who takes his turn right after the Assassin. The thief simply names another role and gets all the money of the unfortunate slob who was unwise enough to take that role card!

So the game involves a lot of bluffing and tension. Seldom do you get away with choosing the role which would obviously help you the most, so you have to build some variety into the district cards you play in order to give you more role options, which makes you harder to screw over...
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33. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:5]
Dick Hunt
United States
Ovid
Michigan
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...and shame on all of us for not having already mentioned the cool mechanic of Puerto Rico, still the reigning #1 game on the BoardGameGeek. That, of course, is the phases of each turn which can take place in any order, or even not at all. And the most brilliant part of this mechanic just might be the doubloon that you add to each un-selected role, which makes it all the more tempting for someone to take in the next round of play, ensuring that no role goes ignored for too long...

For a long time, this game had me believing that I had a very unusual hygenic problem because every time I sat down to play it, my opponents would practically get into fist-fights over who got to sit in the chair directly to my left. I would simply slather on the Right Guard deodorant in a vain attempt to control what I assumed was a body odor problem on my right side...
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34. Board Game: Akaba [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:3056]
Arne Hoffmann
Germany
Essenbach
Germany
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A totally cute bazar where you move even cuter flying carpets just with the force of wind. A superb idea that got me buying the game as soon as I could lay a hand on.

Had to learn later on that the game can turn out quite nasty in an all-adults-group, when my two opponents teamed up against me: one of them moving my carpet (yes, you are allowed to move any carpet on the board) into a distant corner, while the other did just forget about rolling the dice. angry

One of the best and most fun dexterity games!
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35. Board Game: Civilization [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:133]
Shane Beck
Australia
Not Applicable
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The credits of technological advances going towards buying other advances always struck me as a cool game mechanic. It's even better in Age of Renaissance....
 
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36. Board Game: Balderdash [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1326]
Dick Hunt
United States
Ovid
Michigan
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The advantages of being a stinkin' liar...

Balderdash is a hilarious game based on a "mechanic" that is now popularized by the Texas Hold 'Em poker craze: being a stinkin' liar.

One player selects a card and reads from it this obscure English word that actually exists, or at least did at one time. The other players write down made-up definitions for the word and hand them to the card-reader. He then reads each definition handed to him, along with the real definition (which he gets off the game card).

The other players then guess which of the possible definitions they're hearing is the real one. Of course, they only know that their own definition is a big fat lie, but geez, all those other lies sound so darned believable...

The card reader is the guy who's attempting to fool everyone, because the more people he fools, the farther he progresses along the board. The liars all progress around the board in two ways--guessing correctly which definition is real, and getting votes for their own submissions from their opponents. That encourages everyone to make their made-up definitions as authentic-sounding as possible.

The words provided on the game cards are always obscure, and usually sound almost half-familiar to your ear, but in the end their definitions are usually a total surprise. Sometimes it seems that the goofier the definition, the more likely it's the real one! You can imagine how that discovery affects the definitions that the players make up as the game progresses....
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37. Board Game: Bolide [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1811]
Jason Birzer
United States
Burke
Virginia
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The vector movement system

Yes, I know it isn't a unique idea, but I really thought it was a very cool way to do movement with little chance involved.
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38. Board Game: Fireball Island [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1899]
Joel Haddock
United States
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Come on, who wasn't intrigued when they were younger by the idea of a giant red marble actually knocking your player off the board?

My main disappointment was that the secret cave shortcuts didn't actually cut all the way through the board...
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39. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:139]
Arne Thomi
Germany
Hamburg
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Each round you pick up the three cards from the top of your action card deck (there is nine action cards overall). You choose one and pass on two others. Of these two cards you passed to your left, that person has to choose one and pass the other one to the left. Each player then has three cards again, but you never know exactly what actions you will be capable of taking in a turn, except for the card you kept from the beginning.
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40. Board Game: Himalaya [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:574]
Arne Thomi
Germany
Hamburg
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Apart from the programmed movement - mechanic, this comes with another very neat element.
Players collect resources, but as they come into a village they may take only what is the least valuable resource still available at the time present, so they don't shock the villagers with their greediness.
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41. Board Game: Guatemala Café [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:2247]
Arne Thomi
Germany
Hamburg
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There's two boards in this, one side with a random and the other side with a fixed set-up.
Also, it has a flexible victory condition. The amount of victory points needed to win is ever-changing and depends on how often players score.
 
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42. Board Game: PitchCar [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:252]
Kris Verbeeck
Belgium
Mol
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The whole game is about flicking your discs on a wooden racetrack.. It sounded so simple, yet so many people love this game. I just had to find out what all the fuzz was about.
Now I'm looking to perfect my skills in crokinole if I can find a board in belgium.
 
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43. Board Game: Field Command [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:3047]
Stephen Shaw
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Simultaneous secret unit deployment and movement, with units and counterunits, and terrain-dependent advantages. Perfect information (except for your opponents next moves!!!)
 
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44. Board Game: Antiquity [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:147]
Alexander B.
United States
Austin
Texas
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Start small, with nearly nothing but a few houses and workers.

The next thing you know, you have a thriving city... then two cities... you look down and see that your humble beginnings have created a thriving empire: then realize you are choking on your own refuse!!

I love games where you start with nothing and build-up into something great. Indonesia, and Roads and Boats are other Splotter titles that has this, as does many games, including the terrific computer game Civilization 4.

I'm a sucker for these!
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45. Board Game: Evo [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:510]
Clint DeSena
United States
Plainville
Connecticut
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Evo makes you bid for genes with your victory points. With the -1 gene variant, it gets intense!

Evo also lets you put a leg up a dinosaur's anal cavity. I don't think that's in any other boardgame.
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46. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:50]
Mark Beyak
United States
Santa Rosa
California
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I think this qualifies as having a very cool mechanic.

The Fate Cards serve several different functions:

A player needs to play them out of their hand in order to conduct an Order or modify an order with an Action.

They are used to resolve a number of different dice rolls as each deck is composed of 72 cards with two complete sets of 36 2d6 results printed on them. You flip up the next card and check out the dice roll then put that card in the discard pile.

Sometimes those dice rolls are surrounded by a red box which signifies a "Trigger" this could cause a further card flip and you consult the next card for the event on it or a random hex that is on yet another location on the card.

Furthermore, cycling through the Fate card deck by playing cards and flipping them for dice rolls and effects is instrumental in moving the turn marker forward and bring the end of the game ever closer.

This system has been talked about as an engine for other types of conflict simulations. I would love to see it ported over to ACW or Napoleonics.
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47. Board Game: Manhattan [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:763]
Tomello Visello
United States
Reston
Virginia
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A dozen years ago I still had not quite heard the term "German game" (not yet "Euro game"), I just knew I was looking for something more than what was offered in toy stores. Mayfair Games was the only source I knew about.

Manhattan had cards that did not look like anything out of the ordinary by themselves, but they had special meaning that changed for each player. It all depended on where the player sat around the board. Special meaning without special production; the leap of imagination astonshed me.

 
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48. Board Game: Survive: Escape from Atlantis! [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:175]
Bruce Baskir
United States
Missouri
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The incredible shrinking island.
Sinking a tile every turn not only reduces the relative safe area, it also provides more hazards (i.e. sharks, whales, and whirlpools) and ultimately signals the end of the game when the exploding volcano tile is revealed.
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49. Board Game: Boundary [Average Rating:5.82 Unranked]
Bruce Baskir
United States
Missouri
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This total information abstract has an elastic boundary running down the center of the board, separating the pieces of one player from the pieces of the other. When you move a piece past the boundary, it stretches the line. If you can completely encircle one of your opponent's pieces within the boundary line then you capture it. Not the best game, but the stretchy boundary line is cool.
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50. Board Game: Fische Fluppen Frikadellen [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1413]
Roger Fawcett
United Kingdom
Northwich
Cheshire
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Several great mechanics in this one. I particularly like the way the market price moves up and down so you have to time your selling very well. And there is also the much talked about multi-board system allowing up to 15 players. I've played with 14 which was great fun but a little crazy.
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