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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126. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:24]
Big Guy
United States
Cary
North Carolina
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The aspect of this game that impressed me was using the cards not only to play on the table, but also as cash (discards to pay for placements) and resource markers (placed faced down on worlds). Wonderful way to vary the distribution of cards available and to force players to determine the relative value of the cards they do acquire. And then a face-down discard so everyone's information is incomplete - perfect touch!
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127. Board Game: Napoleon: The Waterloo Campaign, 1815 [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:665]
Kevin Bernatz
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Surprised no-one has mentioned this...but perhaps it's a question of what we take for granted. But "blocks" were one of the game mechanics that made me say "cool!", since I've always loved double blind type systems.
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128. Board Game: World in Flames [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:617]
Kevin Bernatz
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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There are many games that employ this, and all of them get my creative juices flowing - a full fledged production system with the spiral production cycle, instead of a inflexible OB. War in Europe, SPI's old Global War game, all of these have the (in)famous spiral construction spiral, where units not only cost different amounts, but take different lengths of time to come out. Do you build the cheap, but weak Militia units becuase you need warm bodies /now/, or do you invest in the high strength armor divisions, but those may come out too late to save you? Wonderful game mechanic!
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129. Board Game: Trial of Strength [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:3738]
Kevin Bernatz
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Another wargame that was unique at it's time (and that has some very cool mechanics). The tying of combat with movement (similar to the comment re: desert rats above). It costs MOVEMENT POINTS to initiate combat, and after a combat occurs a "delay" marker is placed in the hex (to simulate that the combat took place a certain number of days/weeks into the month (?) long turn. Other units can break through the opening by "paying" the delay marker cost.

Another cool mechanic in this game is HQ reaction movement. Once a combat is declared, both sides can attempt to use HQ's to activate reserves to either shore up the defense, or perhaps form a second line behind the target hex. Was the first time that I saw reserve movement be really effective in a wargame. Sadly, this little gem is very hard to find these days...
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130. Board Game: Totaler Krieg! [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:1564]
Kevin Bernatz
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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And it's big sister - Totaler Krieg 2. Both of these have a very cool dynamic where you play your production card (which not only determines your reinforcements, but also has victory conditions, events, etc) 2 - 3 turns BEFORE it activates, and you play it face down and don't show anyone else (and I believe, you're not even allowed to look at it again, though I don't think I've ever played that way).

Very cool idea since it means you have an objective that you need to try to meet and you only have 2-3 turns to meet it, since once the card is turned face-up, either you have succeeded or you haven't. And if your card is a major offensive card, then you want to make sure all your battle units are in good position to take advantage of the card, otherwise it will be wasted once it is turned up. Just a very cool mechanic.
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131. Board Game: Blackbeard [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:1803]
Kevin Bernatz
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Blackbeard (the original, not the GMT re-release) had a mechanic that some people HATED and others LOVED. Alot of the game was card driven, including WHO'S TURN IT WAS! So you could get unlucky and have to watch as 3, 4, 5, 10 "turns" went by, without you getting your card ID drawn....or turn the tables and get 3, 4 5+ turns in a row as your opponents watched their plans for victory crumble. Definitely needed people who were ok "watching" a game develop, but if you had the right people, the mechanic was very, very cool.

Blackbeard (and this applies to both versions) is also one of the few multiplayer games that had their own section devoted specifically to solo play...and /good/ solo play at that.
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132. Board Game: Ambush! [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:491]
Kevin Bernatz
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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And it's many modules + related games. The "consult a book for what happens" aspect of this solo only game was WAY awesome at the time it came out. Given that many entries required a die roll for different effects, sending you to yet another entry to read, the re-playability and suspense was very high in this game. I still pull this gem out now and then and see how far I can get with a full squad (usually, not very far!).
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133. Board Game: Caesar at Alesia [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1479]
Kevin Bernatz
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Ok, last one for me (have to give wargames their proper rep!).

Off-board hidden movement of the German tribes is an AWESOME mechanic in this game. The Roman player /knows/ he's surrounded. He /knows/ he doesn't have enough units to fight everywhere. He /knows/ the trapped barbarians have the strongest units, just waiting to break out. And yet, all he can do is wait in suspense as the tribes start spilling onto the map....is the attack in sector II the real attack, or a feint? Wait, it must be the one in sector V. No, it was sector II after all! Arghh!

Awesome... (another cool mechanic was the effects of the Roman earthworks - Barbarian units may die due to the earthworks, but you only roll for them /AFTER/ all movement...so you can just keep sending additional units to fill in the hex if the first guy dies. Turns your expected 4:1 attack into a crappy 2:1 and there's nothing you can do about it).

Too bad the combat chart was f*ed up and didn't really scale well from 1:2 - 4:1 (if I remember, a single defending unit at 3:1 odds actually had a superior chance of inflicting losses on the attack). So one unit, alone in an empty field facing 3 equal strength enemy units, had a greater chance of winning....sorry, I don't buy it.
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134. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.46 Overall Rank:11156]
Branko K.
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The "free parking jackpot" mechanic. Makes me go "Cool!" every time.
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135. Board Game: Magic Realm [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:642]
Marc Morley
United States
Rainier
Washington
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For me it has to be the lowest number out of two dice you roll for a test used in Magic Realm.
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136. Board Game: A House Divided [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:629]
Elwyn Darden
United States
Richmond
Virginia
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At first I merely liked the point to point movement system. It wasn't until I had played the game several times that I recognized that the point-to-point network on the gamemap actually served as a serious supply rule. It was then that I "said" "Cool!"
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137. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:55]
Jeff Fenton
United States
Colorado
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Wow... #138 on the Mechanic (or Mechanism, or "unique rule structure," or whatever) list and nobody has mentioned Goa? I could be wrong, as I skimmed the six pages fairly quickly. Anyway, after playing the game, I am very impressed with the Auction mechanic in this game.

Unline other actions (like Power Grid, or Railroad Tycoon) where your money goes to the bank, in Goa you actually pay the other players in many cases... potentially causing huge swings in who has how much cash for the next auction. Since each turn has multiple back-to-back auctions, and the players decided what is up for auction, this mechanic really adds a layer of strategy to the game. I've only played once, but the Goa Auction Mechanic is enough to make me play the game again!
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138. Board Game: The Republic of Rome [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:211]
Gunther Schmidl
Austria
Linz
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The Senate phase, were you elect players' senators to positions of power, then discuss what to next do in the game. Also includes bribery, coercion, and both literal and figurative backstabbing.
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139. Board Game: Merchant of Venus [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:446]
Rainer Kraft
Germany
Burghausen
Bavaria
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Variable supply and demand

in MoV traded goods are placed in a cup and a random counter is drawn from it.
This could be the same or another (previous entered) goods counter, fares or demand counter. If you're unlucky it can take a long time until the desired goods counters reenter the board.
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140. Board Game: Napoleon's Triumph [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:193]
David Ells
United States
Baltimore
Maryland
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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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So many innovative ideas: diceless combat, mapboard with 'the look', blocks with hidden strengths and free set-up for enormous replayability, especially easy & quick set-up (ready in 10 minutes!); really too many subtle ideas and concepts to mention ...

Bonaparte @ Marengo started this idea, but this game further refines the direction and presentation.
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141. Board Game: Red November [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1133]
Matthieu Weber
Finland
Jyväskylä
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The time track is interesting: when a player performs an action, it takes a given number of minutes, and the player's time counter moves this number of minutes forward. The next player to play is the one whose time counter is furthest back on the time track.
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142. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:166]
Железный комиссар
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Mergers... dear lord... Mergers.

In Indonesia, Mergers are not proposed, they are announced (although you must upgrade your ability to merge larger and larger companies). You can announce the merger of two companies owned by two separate opponents, as long as you can afford the minimum bid. If you're rich, you can go for the jugular and try to wrest control of the new company. If you succeed, you'll be cash-poor next round facing two cash-heavy opponents. Or, you can simply set the ball rolling and watch your competition fight over the new company. Of course you can announce a merger that includes a company you already own. If your company is superior to your opponent's, you can expect them to raise the share price as much as they are able before cashing out. Catch them when they're cash-poor and you'll score a major boon. Speaking of which, you've got to watch your own cash to protect booming companies. Someone may announce a merger between a tiny, irrelevant company and your own juggernaut - essentially a takeover bid for the juggernaut. You might have the cash on hand to "win" control of your own company, but the penalty for "paying yourself" is to "sink" the funds. You don't lose the worth of the company, but the assets become illiquid, and you'll have to raise more cash to compete.

Did I mention I love the mergers in this game?
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143. Board Game: Traders of Osaka [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:752]
Blake Morris
United States
Henrico
Virginia
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This size viola da gamba is like a cello with frets. I started playing at age 48.
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The cards in this one serve as money, goods, protection against pirates, and victory points.
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144. Board Game: Android [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:709]
Johan Jaurin
Sweden
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Wow, can't believe anyone hadn't added this one to this great G-list. But where to start? The Conspiracy Puzzle, an actual puzzle with specific effects depending on which sort of piece you put on it? The "side-questing" storylines, the character-specific VP-scoring system? The list goes on.

Sad thing I've never played through it (players always bail half-way through), but it has always made me say "Cool!".

P.S Sorry for the broken english. English is not my native language.
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145. Board Game: BANG! [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:723]
Jon Grey
United States
Los Angeles
California
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The dynamite card in Bang! introduces a small "hot potato" mini-game to a frantic shoot-out. To those who haven't played Bang! basically a player plays the dynamite in front of himself, on his next turn he draws a single card, and if the card is a 2 thru 9 of spades, the dynamite explodes and knocks off 3 life points (which is devastating). If the card is anything else, the dynamite is passed to the player on his left and the player begins his turn as normal. The dynamite will continue around the table until it either explodes or until the player who's holding it is killed for whatever reason.

It can get pretty intense when a SECOND dynamite is thrown down!

Also like one of the High Noon cards, which are cards that the Sheriff must play during his turn. Ghost Town in particular allows dead players to come back into the game for a single turn, enact revenge on their killers, then sink back into their graves.
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146. Board Game: Tikal [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:155]
Roberto Bueno
Spain
Gijon
Asturias
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Errr a late entry on this list, but after watching it....

Noone talked about the action points system?? Here and in Torres, for instance, a nicely system to choose what to do and, obviously, you can't do everything...

Also liked the auction with victory points to determine your turn order
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147. Board Game: Rise of Empires [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:538]
Don Smith
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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When I get a new game, as I read the rules or play it for the first time, I really love those "ah ha!" moments when a new game mechanic hits me for the first time and my brain says "Cool!". Rise of Empires has a few of those moments.

Before I get to RoE, some more background. We've all played dozens of Eurogames where after the first game (or even the first turn!) you determine that "you've seen it all before". Notre Dame, a game that some in our gaming group just adore, is a good game which basically combines a lot of very vanilla game mechanics. Some of Knizia's "second tier" games are the same way - every designer has them.

Here are some examples of mechanics which I've stumbled across over the past few decades which make this list:

1. Republic of Rome - where players try and win BUT if you don't cooperate enough - YOU all lose - very cool. Some people hate that!
2. Variable game end and turn end conditions - Combat Commander: Europe and the oldie goldie Eric Lee Smith's "The Civil War", for example. I prefer this to games where you can micro-calculate/-manipulate "the end"
3. Pandemic's "concentrating the epidemics" back ON TOP of the deck to make the spread more deadly - great mechanic - makes the game.

There are lots more (post your favourites!) but here are two from Rise of Empires:

1. The A/B turn mechanic. This forces a measure of planning and foresight which few games offer. It is analogous to Struggle of Empire's determination of which Alliance you must be in. Very nice.

2. Structured combat/battles. One of the knocks against some games, especially those of Martin Wallace is the use of dice to resolve combats/battles. I really like the idea that the Empire tiles both limit the amount (and scope) of combat AND the results of battle. None of this Risk-type stuff where 1 army holds off 20 (been there - done that!).

The economic engine / empire building aspects of Rise of Empires fascinate me although there's no particular "ah ha" mechanic there. I'll defer to those with more experience as to whether there is a viable off-board presence strategy which can win.

Based on the BGG Forums, the jury is still out as to whether this is a game which will be played over the years, most think not, but as a recent player, I see a lot of future for this game. Hopefully, after a few more plays it won't be a Huge Disappointment (TM)...
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148. Board Game: Crimson Skies [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1980]
David Ogea
Switzerland
Pully
Vaud
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Cenovis Rulez
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The damage allocation of this game is really cool.

You use a template to cross-off damage locations on the plane data-sheet, and you may actually see how you plane is cut in two by a drill rocket surprise

[geekurl=http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/88727/crimson-skies]Template[/geekurl]

[geekurl=http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/81014/crimson-skies]A destroyed plane...[/geekurl]
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149. Board Game: HeroQuest [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:495]
Henrik Schunk
Germany
Cologne
NRW
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The first game I played in which I encountered the Visible when Explored mechanic, in which the Dungeon Master does not put the pieces on the board until the heroes can see it. Many Dungeon crawler variants used this, such as Space Crusade or the recent Descent. I remember my mates screaming in terror when I pretended to go for the Gargoyle but grabbed a Goblin instead. It was great fun.
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150. Board Game: Reef Encounter [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:316]
John Cabral
United States
Bristol
Rhode Island
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The manipulation of dominance tiles on the open sea board is an awesome mechanic. During the game a player can flip tiles to make certain coral more dominant over another. While this allows the dominant coral to comsume a certain color, it also changes the points that color coral is worth. This is an incredible game.
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