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What Specific Game Mechanics Make You Say "Cool!"
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Colorado Springs
Colorado
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Now, I've yet to create a GeekList that really strikes a chord here on BGG... and that is ok. However, I have a BGG goal this summer. So here I go again.

In my enthusiastic, though short, experience in the board gaming world, I have come to love many things about board games, but for many games I come to really enjoy certain specific mechanics or aspects. Now, I am not talking about generic mechanics, i.e. "I like auction games." I am talking about specific game mechanics that really make players say, "Now that is pretty cool...."

So I'm going to start a list, by no means all encompassing, of specific gaming mechanics that really stand out to me. I encourage all BGGers to add their items and tell why they enjoy said mechanic.


Edit: WOW! surprise I just want to say a big THANKS to all the contributors and comments added to this GeekList! This has truly been a lot of fun watching one of my first GeekLists really take off! ONE BIG thumbsup FOR ALL OF YOU!

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1. Board Game: Fury of Dracula [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:250]
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United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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In Fury, I love Dracula's trail.

What a cool mechanic. It is effective and overall fairly easy to manage. I have found using color coded markers to mark Drac's card and his location on the Drac map helps tremendously. Of course we play with that nifty Drac screen here on BGG. The tension really builds as Big D's trail gets longer and the scrambling Hunter's try to discover if that encounter about to mature is a vampire...
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2. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:189]
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In Thrones, the mechanic that stands out is the influence tracks.

Intially, the first few games the tracks seem to be an irritating component. I just never really grasped the importance of them. However, as time has passed and my experience with GoT increases, I have come to truly enjoy the bidding process for the influence tracks due to their large impact on the game. The constant debate on where do I want to bid the highest. Is going first important? Is being high on the fiefdoms, so one can win ties, a better way to go? Or is having limited order tokens something you fear....? The influence tracks in GoT is truly a cool mechanic and adds tremendous player interaction.
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3. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:11]
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Colorado Springs
Colorado
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In PG, I really believe, as many probably do, the commodities market is a very cool mechanic.

As one plays Power Grid, you can actually see supply and demand in action. What an ingenious aspect to the game. I really enjoy wataching garbage never get touched in the beginning of the game and then by the end, people are bidding high for that garbage plant because now garbage is only one electro per good.
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4. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:20]
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Colorado
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In Caylus I really think the provost, is a cool mechanic.

As one plays and gets more experience with Caylus the power of the provost and the ability to manipulate by all players is just plain fun. It adds a element of nastiness devil that is not over bearing in this heavy Euro game. I really enjoy this mechanic.
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5. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:343] [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
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United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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In LNoE, the game mechanic that really adds a "COOL!" to this phenomenal zombie game is the combat system.

The combat system in LNoE is simple but tremendously more interesting than the straight up roll a die and on a 4, 5, or 6 you kill the zombie. Boring! The concept that you can just "fend" off the zombie really adds to the theme of LNoE and the necessity for rolling doubles increases the need for weapons.
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6. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:33]
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Colorado
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In Tigris & Euphrates, there are many cool mechancis. I really enjoy this game, but there is one mechanic that really adds tension, mystery, and a cool sense of urgency. The coolest mechanic is the hidden victory points.

The hidden victory points are even hidden behind your player screen, so your opponents cannot even glance and make a rough estimate like in Puerto Rico. As you play, you may think your doing well but low and behold your actually third... angry
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7. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:107] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
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Colorado
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In Carc, the obvious mechanic that really stands out is the farms.

The farms add a long term strategy element to the game and farm builing can also be very tactical especially when you play Carc with many experienced players. There is a high fun factor when you attempt to merge your big meeple into that high point farm!
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8. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:557]
Greg Gresik
United States
Bolingbrook
Illinois
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Variable Player Powers seems to add flavor and replayability. I find that many of the games I really play alot have VPP as a mechanic - Bang!, Cosmic Encounter, Citadelles, even Star Wars:Epic Duels - are all examples of varying player powers in some degree.

The key is good play-testing to make sure that "varying" doesn't mean "some are better than others" - in Epic Duels, for example, there are some better choices, but playing teams can balance this.

Interestingly, in games like Cosmic Encounter, the strength of one player can be enhanced or diminished by the powers of other players. Again I think this is just a bonus in terms of replayability.
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9. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:40]
Andy
United Kingdom
Stockport
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In Pandemic I love the infection intensification mechanic, that sees the discarded infection cards placed back on the top of the deck... this is a piece of genius game design... and was a real "wow" moment when I was first taught the game.
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10. Board Game: Civilization [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:134]
Ron K
United States
Marcellus
New York
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'80' maxlength='250'> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="15%" align="right"><b>Avatar OverText</b></td> <td width="85%"> <input type="text" name="overtext[avatar]" value="Train Game anyone?
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The zero-sum mechanic between units on the board and treasury. This drives some degree of useful combat, limits expansion, and both encourages city creation and constrains how many cities at a time can be created. Brilliant.
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11. Board Game: Struggle of Empires [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:188]
United States
Loveland
Colorado
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I love the alliance mechanism in this one.

"Crap. I really don't want to have to fight him this turn. I guess I'll just pay to make him my ally!"

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12. Board Game: Turn the Tide [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:669]
Andrew C.
Australia
Sydney
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After dealing out the player's hands at random for the first round, the second and subsequent rounds begin by passing the player's hands one position to the left. That way, each player gets to see how well they do with everyone's hand. Randomness is supplied by a separate deck of water-level cards that are shuffled anew for each hand, so each round will still play out differently.
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13. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:287]
Scott McGill
Australia
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Great use of dice!

I also like the Supervisor / Caravan thing.
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14. Board Game: Escape from Colditz [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1267]
Lindsay Thomas
United Kingdom
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Got a pesky POW outside the main compound, running for freedom?

Got a guard who's too fat and slow to catch him up and give him a good old-fashioned rugby-tackle?

Never mind, just get out your gun and Shoot To Kill.
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15. Board Game: Escape from Colditz [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1267]
Lindsay Thomas
United Kingdom
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Got POW's misbehaving? Maybe they've been caught outside the main compound? Maybe they've assaulted one of your officers? Maybe they've got 30' of rope hidden up their trouser leg? Maybe they've tried digging tunnels again?

Send them to the Cooler AKA the Cells AKA Solitary Confinement.

Pretty soon, Solitary Confinement won't be. Pretty soon you'll have half the POW's in there - if you're doing your job properly.

Send them to the Cooler outside the Main Compound. In that way you can send them straight back to the cooler as soon as you release them "for being outside the main compound". Good joke that. Ha ha, laugh as you watch them trying to escape back into the castle.
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16. Board Game: Zatch Bell! [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked]
Douglas Bushong
United States
La Porte
Indiana
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Zatch Bell!

The game is a CCG, but the innovation is in the spell book. Your deck consists of the pages of the spell book, and your "hand" is the page that you are on. When you damage your opponent, they must turn pages in their book. The first player to finish the book loses.

I don't care for the theme much (those marionette looking kids creep me out), but the mechanic is extremely elegant. There is a lot of meta game going on in your head when you are building your deck, as you and your opponent are playing with stacked decks.

Would have been a great game if it had not been attached to that show.
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17. Board Game: Thebes [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:262]
David Bohnenberger
United States
Swarthmore
Pennsylvania
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I thing the "days" track is pretty cool.
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18. Board Game: Wallenstein (first edition) [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:183]
David Bohnenberger
United States
Swarthmore
Pennsylvania
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The Power Tower is definitely cool.
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19. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:27]
Davido
United States
California
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Rondels-Decide *secretly*
Castillo-"keep track of the cubes in the tower"

put it together and "airdrop the paratroops into the region of your choice". If your neighbor does the same region, conflict and hilarity ensue
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20. Board Game: 1960: The Making of the President [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:109]
Locke Alexander
United States
Redwood City
California
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I love the Political Capitol Bag. It allows you to control the luck aspect to the game much better then Twilight Struggle's dice.
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21. Board Game: Viktory II [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1777]
Andrew Tullsen
United States
Tigard
Oregon
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Viktory II has the mechanic where the buildings you have (village - > city) support your units. They directly influence the number and types of units you have on the map. Villages support 1 Infantry. When you upgrade to a City, you get an elite unit (Cavalry, Artillery, Frigate) as well, depending on the type of the terrain. A forest hex supports an Infantry and a Frigate. If a Frigate dies, as long as you have the city to support it, it goes back on the board when you place your Reserves. But if you lose the city, then you immediately lose whatever units it supports, and your opponent gains those units. So you can always see whether you opponent has more troops on the board then he should devil
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22. Board Game: VOC! Founding the Dutch East Indies Company [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:4160]
 
Eric Boivin
Canada
Montréal
Québec
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This game has the most original and fun mechanic I can think of. When trying to do an expedition, you close your eyes and mark your way with a dry marker. Other players can guide you by telling you cardinal points, but only once for each expedition they participate in. I loved it!
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23. Board Game: Imperial [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:81]
Chris Broggi
United States
Southwick
Massachusetts
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Changing control of counties based on stock ownership. It's a strange feeling controlling a country on one turn and then controlling their opponent on the next turn.
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24. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:280]
Matt Loter
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Rigid Hand/Play order.

The first time I played this the idea that I couldn't rearrange my hand of cards and that I had to play them in order just blew my mind. After years of loving this game, it still blows my mind. Just an all around interesting and great mechanic.
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25. Board Game: Niagara [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:842]
Wayne Murphy
Canada
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First time I played the river was really cool, watching the little boats fall off the waterfall was great!......then I realized the game play didn't match the wow factor of the board.
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