10 Mysteries of the Board Game World
Martin Smith
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Pimlico
London
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In life much is certain such as taxes, death and war. However when it comes to board games there are eternal mysteries which no man will ever solve. Below are some of the most common phenomena known to the Board Game Geek. Behold and marvel these wonders of the Board Gaming World....
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1. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:43]
Martin Smith
United Kingdom
Pimlico
London
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Mystery 1 : The mystery of shuffling new cards

Description : No matter how much you shuffle the cards when playing a newly purchased game for the first time, the cards will still be in perfect grouped order.

Example Game : Pandemic

"Are you sure you shuffled these cards properly ? All the starting diseases are black"

"Yes I really really shuffled them, threw them up in the air, shuffled them again and then again to be sure"

Next 10 turns : Nothing but black cards are drawn.

Solution : Nothing. There is nothing you can do about this. After you have played the game 25 times the cards may appear to start having some random element to them. Maybe.


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2. Board Game: World of Warcraft: The Boardgame [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:943]
Martin Smith
United Kingdom
Pimlico
London
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Mystery Number 2 : Watch Out Below

Description : At some point during setup or during game (or usually both) at least one piece, card or dice will fall on the floor. This is guaranteed to happen in every game session and has actuallly hapenned in every board game ever played since 1903. Some theorists have tried to expand on this rule by suggesting all dropped pieces are drawn to under the sofa but this has never been proved. Clever BGGs have tried to bypass this rule by playing on the floor - unsuccessfully as the rule still applies and the pieces just fall through the floor

Solution : Avoid playing games with more than 1 piece. This will still fall on the floor but at least it's easier to keep track.
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3. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:141] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Martin Smith
United Kingdom
Pimlico
London
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Mystery Number 3 : The rule of expanding space

Descrption : No matter how much game space you clear to play a game, it expands to need about 5 times that space. If you then find a game space 5 times that size it will still be no good - the game wiill then need a space 5 times that size. And so on.

Solution : The art of balancing. Remember cards, rule books and other bits can be balanced very well on chairs, the sofa, your wife, your pets etc.
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4. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:6]
Martin Smith
United Kingdom
Pimlico
London
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Mystery Number 4 : Which game are we playing again ?

Descrption : During any gaming session someone will be using part (or all) of the rules from a completely different game. Sometimes this is a completely unrelated game which no logical link to the game you are playing.

Example Game : Agricola.

"So can I put my meeple on this farm ?"

Solution : This is usually the first sign of insanity so slowly move away from the person in question (sliding the game table with you). If the person in question actually has meeples in front of them then beware - it really is an advanced case.

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5. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: Growing Hunger [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked]
Martin Smith
United Kingdom
Pimlico
London
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Mystery Number 5 : The inverse law of game box size

Description : The bigger the box the less will be in it. The smaller the box the more pieces there will be that don't fit in it. Expansions just make this worse - there was no room for the original game so you might as well just abandon hope now. A board game with 10000000000000 pieces will come in a biscuit tin 10cm square. Magically it all fits until you push out all the parts - after which you might as well try to fit an elephant in a microwave.

Solution : Be selective. Do you reallly need all the bits in a game ? Many games are improved 50% by losing just a few bits. Tip : Start with throwing away the cards you don't like.
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6. Board Game: A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:507]
Martin Smith
United Kingdom
Pimlico
London
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Mystery Number 6 : The vagueness of plastic people

Description : Despite studying all the minatues for 10 minutes, you are not able to be sure that the minature you have picked is actually the character you are supposed to be playing. It is always fun to discover half way throught the game that the fearsome male warrior who has slaughtered 100 elves is actually the minature for daisy the cow.

Solution : Don't worry - it is likely everyone has the wrong minature. Also if you losing you can always reclaim the right one from another player midgame and most likely get away with it.
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7. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:24]
Martin Smith
United Kingdom
Pimlico
London
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Mystery Number 7 : The Game to end all games

Description : It's your favourite game. You've played it endlessly over the last few months. Then comes "The Game". The best game of the game you have ever played. People laugh. People are happy. People fall in love over the gameboard and all is well in the world of gaming. But that's it. The next day the game is on Ebay for £3 buy it now - how could you ever play it again ?

Solution : Only play the game with really really dull people. I know some if you want references.
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8. Board Game: War of the Ring (first edition) [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:34]
Martin Smith
United Kingdom
Pimlico
London
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Mystery Number 8 : Fail to launch

Description : You really want to play the game. You have people who want to play it. However the anticpation of setting it up overtakes the exctiment of playing so you decide not to bother and instead watch that rerun of Friends - hey you've only seen this episode 36 times before. Often called "BGF" by medical experts (Board Game Fatique).

Solution : Leave the game setup all the time. Tip : Use super glue to make sure those parts don't get knocked about over time.
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9. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:50]
Martin Smith
United Kingdom
Pimlico
London
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Mystery Number 9 : The Power of Imagination

Description : No matter how basic the game bits you can transform them in your head into wonderful images of the subject matter. Most people see a few counters, dice and cards...in your head you can see cavemen hunting and trading and have even given them all names. You can ever smell the dinosaurs.

Solution : None needed. Just be careful to come back to the real world at some point - for example every year around 300 people never come back from Agricola and start up new lives as farmers, trying to effect small scale farming with wooden block hedges and meeples.
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10. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:11]
Martin Smith
United Kingdom
Pimlico
London
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Mystery Number 10 : The fun of Cellophane

Description : You've been trying for 10 minutes already to open the game with just your fingernails. It's never going to work. After an hour you admit defeat and finally fetch scissors to break open the cellophane. And then joy - you have 6 decks of cards to break free as well.

Solution : Leave the cards in the cellophane and play with the block of cards.
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11. Board Game: Summon the Dragon [Average Rating:6.62 Unranked]
Ian Klinck
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Mystery 11: The Summoning Ritual

Description: You're expecting one more player - maybe. Finally, you decide that they're not coming, so you start the game. If it's a new game, especially one with complicated rules, then the player finally shows up just after all the rules have been explained and the board is set up. Otherwise, they show up when you've played about 3-5 turns.

Solution: Just start the game, so they'll show up sooner! Our group calls this "performing the summoning ritual". Often, a quick filler game will work just as well.
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12. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:26]
Christopher O
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Mystery 12: Box Inserts

With a few shining exceptions (most of the Days of Wonder product line) box inserts seem to have been designed to maximize the number of small, shallow depressions where game pieces can pool together and get hopelessly mixed up.

It seems apparent that some box inserts are generic in nature and are designed to work with many games, except that there seems to be no one game that they actually work well with. Examples: Theophrastus, Wreckage, Colossal Area, In the Year of the Dragon.

Some "generic" inserts are so perfunctory as to be better off not being included (Betrayal at House on the Hill, Nexus Ops, Vegas Showdown), while others are incredibly complex while managing to keep virtually nothing in place (Wildlife)

Other inserts (such as that for El Grande) serve no useful purpose at all (other than being decorative). In the case of El Grande, the single component which might otherwise wedge nicely into the box and not slide about, the Castillo, cannot actually fit in the box while assembled with the cover closed!

(Yes, almost all of my games are carefully ziplock bagged)
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13. Board Game: Break Down [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Jonathan Apuan
United States
Everett
Washington
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Mystery #13 - BGG will be down when needed the most.

The game is at an important juncture and the outcome of the game depends on the interpretation of a few rules. So, wisely, the gamers surf over to BGG.com for rule clarification. Needless to say that will be the one night of the quarter that BGG.com is down for maintenance or problems.

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14. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:68]
Jean-Michel Petit
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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Mystery #14 : The reprint Doom

Description : It's been proven by empiric studies that just when you buy the most expensive game ever, it will be announce a couple days later that a reprint has been secretly scheduled and is due out in less than a week.

Solution : Don't refrain from buying old version of a game you want, else, it will never come to the mass market again.
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15. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:54]
Bob Henry
United States
Basking Ridge
New Jersey
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Mystery #15: The Cross Breeding Colors

Description: Color selections which looked perfectly fine to the game producer / artistic coordinator, and in fact perfectly fine in the pre-production samples, are somehow muddled and confusing when the game buyers open the box.

This mystery has been known to show up on boards, playing tiles, and the various wooden bits that are used to designate particular players. Playing the game in anything less than high strength lighting will lead to the previously mentioned player confusion (such as, "Oh, that's a blue city??")

Solution: The pieces must be cross breeding in the boxes after they leave the factory. To prevent this, all pieces of different colors should be packaged separately in pentration proof plastic. (Although, see the 'cellophane mystery' for potential adverse sied effects of this.)
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16. Board Game: Punch! [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:6850]
Ralph T
United States
Signal Hill
California
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Mystery #15. Paradox of the new-in-shrink game

Description: You cannot know whether the game you just bought is worth keeping or should be traded from BGG reviews alone. Removing the shrink so you can review the rules lowers your game's value by 10-20%. Punching the counters will drop the value by another 30%. Actually playing the game will drop the value to 50%. By this time you will wish you had traded your game for a much better new or like new game, but you can't, because you played it.

Solution: Don't open your new in shrink game. Just admire it on the shelf. If you must open the game, do not punch the counters. Just read the instructions and imagine what it would like to play the game. If the imagined game isn't perfect, trade the game for other games whose counters you will not punch or cards you will not unwrap, ad nauseum. Or better yet, be one of those dastardly individuals that owns a shrink-wrapping machine.
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17. Board Game: Union Pacific [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:291]
Keith Jones
Scotland
Kilmacolm
Inverclyde
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Mystery 17 : The curse of the tower

Description : No matter how irregularly shaped the pieces someone will always try and build a tower with them

Solution : Play marbles
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18. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:164]
Neil Whyman
United States
Massachusetts
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Mystery 18: Settling on what to play

When asked to choose a game to play with your significant other, the only certainty is that the game you choose will not be the one that you actually play.

Even more mysteriously, once you are wise to this and suggest that your significant other chooses the game, he/she will still insist that you should choose!

But if you dare to deliberately choose something you hate . . .
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19. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.46 Overall Rank:11172]
Geir Erik Ø
Norway
Sandnes
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Mystery 19: Disappering text

The first person in a network of people, who reads the rules for a game will experience that important text have vanished from the rules, no matter how many times he/she read the text. The text will only reappear if a second person is reading the text. The text will then be visible to the first person to.

The mystery is even larger as it appears that this happens even if different copies of the rules is used. So if person 1 reads the rules and play the game, some text is removed in his rule set.

Player 2 who have never played the game, and is in the same sosial network as player 1, buy his/her own copy and read the rules. This copy will Not have vanished text.

When player 1 and player 2 is playing the game together, the text, to player 1's suprise, have reappeared.



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20. Board Game: The Original Lazy Man's Pool [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
Mikko Ämmälä
Finland
Oulu
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90% of us ruin the reputation of whole 100%.

"Look what I got from Essen/Milan-spiele/bought from local store.... Magnificent games. I have studied the rules and for example this is very fun/good/original game to try and takes only 1h, lets play it!"

"err...may be not now, I am not in the mood of trying new games because it is Monday/Tuesday/...January/August/year 2009.../my friend has a cough/my sack itches/...let's play my Web of Power/Euphat&Tigris/Taj Mahal/something old mainstream instead....but I will promise to play it next time, OK?

Even with all the love for boardgamehobby a repeat chance for above "next time" scenario rises exponentially after you turn 30y...

.mikko
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21. Board Game: Dicefest [Average Rating:6.77 Unranked]
Bill Wood
United States
Eden
North Carolina
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A Set of Laws involving Dice (esp in Wargames)

1. If the dice is rolled on the map, no matter what you do, the roll will slam into the largest stack.

2. The force of the dice throw is directly proportional to the size of container provided to throw them into.

3. The height the dice will jump after being thrown into the container is equal to the Height of the container plus 2 inches.

4. No matter what container is used, the dice will always leave it.

5. When uttering the words 'Roll anything but number X', one will roll that number.

6. The chances of finding dice in the game box is Nil.

7. No matter how good you are at ASL, box cars will undo everything.

8. No matter how high the initiative modifier is, at the critical moment, the initiative will be lost by the dice.

9. No matter how many times you 'try another pair', your dice rolling will still be horrible.

10. Bill, where did you put the box of dice this time?!>?!#%!???%?
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22. Board Game: Amnesia [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:8461]
Mark Pollard
United States
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Mystery #22, The irrational imaginary precedent

You've played a game at least 30 times, and you've got the rules down pat. This is your 31st game with the same group.

Someone makes a move that violates a well-established and often-obeyed rule. When you call him or her on it, he or she will argue, quite adamantly, that "we've never done it that way before."

It becomes clear that this person really believes what he or she is saying, even though you know that he or she has correctly played the rule countless times before.

Solution:
Arguing is pointless, as the offender is certain that he or she is correct. You must show this person the rules, but even then, he or she will go on believing that this is just the first time you've chosen to play the correct rule. The delusion will persist, and is unstoppable.
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23. Board Game: Brain Chain [Average Rating:4.67 Unranked]
Tiago Luchini
Finland
Oulu
Oulu
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Mystery #23: The chain-explanation-loss paradigm

Description: Player A reads the rule book and explains them to a group of players. Player B, participant of this first session, explains the same rules to a second group of players where Player C is playing and who, in turn, will explain the rules to a third group. In each link of this chain-explanation important rules are simply lost until the game being played after N iterations is completely different from the one initially intended by the designers.

Solution: Sending people back to primary school would certainly improve the odds of someone actually reading the rules. In case this is not feasible, simply let this mystery happen as it will be pretty entertaining to have "nature" shape a completely new game.
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24. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:261]
Boardgamer Anonymous
Norway
Laksevåg
Hordaland
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Mystery number 24: The disapearence of time
You play a boardgame and you have timed everything perfectly. You have counted the cards or bits left, still the game ends somehow before you have finished what you startet.
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25. Board Game: SuperGang [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:2852]
Hilko Drude
Germany
Goettingen
Lower Saxony
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What are you doing!? I don't even know you!
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Mystery #25: Ganging up on the person who explains the rules

All players in a game group automatically gang up on the player who taught them the rules, no matter whether that player has actually played the game before or shows any other sign of increased competence.

Solution: Always claim that you left your glasses at home/just had your tonsils out/are too drunk to explain. Lean back and pretend to listen to someone else's explanations while plotting his/her downfall.

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