Strategy and Design - Board Game Types
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This geeklist will describe board game mechanics and categories with sample games from each. Each mechanic is listed under a representative game. As we explore different categories of games through the trimester, I will add more information about each one.

This information will be helpful as you answer the questions on the class blog.
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1. Board Game: YINSH [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:96]
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Abstract games

Abstract games are those of perfect information and no randomness. Classic examples include Chess, Checkers and Tic-Tac-Toe. Some people consider only 2 player games like these to be abstract, since adding more players can introduce petty diplomacy. Abstract games often have simple rules, but allow for complex strategies. Abstract games have a long history in many cultures, like the classic games Go and Mancala.

J. Mark Thompson wrote in his article, "Defining the Abstract", "There is an intimate relationship between such games and puzzles: every board position presents the player with the puzzle, What is the best move?, which in theory could be solved by logic alone. A good abstract game can therefore be thought of as a "family" of potentially interesting logic puzzles, and the play consists of each player posing such a puzzle to the other."

In his podcast on handicapping in abstract games, Joe Peterson says that in the best abstract games, "players of varying skill must be able to play and still have fun. The best games can compensate for moderate or even large gaps in skill by handicapping well."

The term abstract is also used to describe games that have little or no theme. Games like SET, Poker and Backgammon are abstract in this sense, but are not considered abstract games.

Two player abstracts:
DVONN, YINSH (or any of the Project GIPF games)
Hive
Cathedral

Multi-player abstracts:
Pueblo
Blokus
Hey, That's My Fish!

Games with some randomness or hidden information that have an abstract feel:
Rosenkönig
Fjords
Clans
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2. Board Game: Ubongo [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:597]
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Puzzle Races

Puzzle Races are games in which players act simultaneously to solve visual puzzles. There is often a timing element to the game (fastest completion, most completed in a given amount of time, etc.). Opinions about these games vary greatly (more so than with many other games) and their ratings often reflect a higher standard deviation than most.

These user comments about Ubongo reflect some of the spectrum of thought about these games:

Here's what some BGG users wrote:
Cute puzzle and speed game. The puzzles are a bit too easy, even the advanced ones. The balance is a bit off since some puzzles are a lot trickier than others. - brianeikunst

This game is great fun, but if you are bad at spatialization problems then you aren't going to like it. - Aldie

Who's the best puzzler in the group? Don't play because you already know he's going to win. - Maeve_1981

Simultaneous puzzling is in my opinion not a very good game idea, as some people will simply be better in the puzzles than others. Still, it's fun once in a while. And I do like these kind of puzzles. - mac_s_1

There's a muscle here that can be exercised and grown. - clearclaw

This is not a game. I never want to play this again. - Braunschweig


Some puzzle races work to mitigate the issues voiced above by handicapping, introducing other game elements or adding randomness into the scoring (such as the jewel collection in Ubongo & Ubongo Extreme).

Other puzzle race games:

Flix Mix
SET
Ricochet Robots
Carrousel
Turbo Taxi
Bongo!
Rapidcroco
Wicked Witches Way
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3. Board Game: Liar's Dice [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:421]
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Dice Games

Dice are used in many games to randomize outcomes. These outcomes may include movement, resource allocation, combat as well as non-player actions and events. Dice can keep games from being deterministic and the randomness they bring to a game can help make the game feel new each time, increasing its replayability. Games that rely heavily on dice can also allow players who have fallen behind to have hope of catching up by the end of a game. Rick Holzgrafe's Dice, HUNH! What are they good for? and Dave Shapiro's Randomness and dice discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of chaos and randomness in games, particularly concerning dice.

Some games, however, don't just use dice to introduce random elements to a game - the dice are the game. These games can be broken down into several groups. Progression, jeopardy (push-your-luck), category and bluffing games all require players to make choices based on their understanding of the probability of certain dice rolls. Other games, in which dice are used as resources, require players to make decisions from the randomized options available to them as a result of a dice roll. These games may use the results of a roll in creative ways by using custom dice, or using characteristics other than the standard values of the individual dice.

Progression and Jeopardy Games:
In these games, players choose whether to continue to build on previous rolls, or to stop and "lock in" the progress that they have made on their turn. This element of "pushing your luck" makes for an exciting game and gives trailing players some hope of catching up, however slim. Pickomino, Cloud 9, Excape and Can't Stop are examples of jeopardy dice games.

Category Games:
In these games, players roll to meet certain goals which involve particular combinations of dice. Yahtzee is a classic game in this genre, and Dancing Dice is an example of a category dice game using custom dice. To Court the King is an example of a eurogame incorporating category dice game elements.

Bluffing Games:
Dice games that involve bluffing require players to make game decisions based on the likelihood of certain dice rolls while much of the information is hidden from them. The many variations of Liar's Dice found around the world are just some of the examples of bluffing dice games.

Dexterity Games:
There are even a few dice games that involve dexerity: Stacking your rolls in a more and more perilous tower in Stack Market and trying to flick your dice to the farthest level while knocking your opponents off the board in Tumblin-Dice.

Games where Dice act as Resources:
Many modern dice games are as different from each other as they are from the games listed above. What they share in common is greater amounts of control or choice than can be found in most other dice games. Some create these other options by weaving dice in with other mechanics while maintaining dice as the central element. Others use dice to determine options for the player that go beyond just the pips on the dice. Though many eurogame designers and players previously shunned dice as random or chaotic, in recent years creative dice games seem to be making a place for themselves in eurogaming. Some examples of eurogames that use dice as a central mechanic include Yspahan, Kingsburg, Railroad Dice, Roma, Airships and Manila.
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4. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:695]
 
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Push your luck

with dice,
or in general,
or in a thread.




Cloud 9
Pickomino
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5. Board Game: Tikal [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:155]
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Action Points
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6. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:184]
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Auction

Ra
Goa
Vegas Showdown
For Sale
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7. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:26]
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Area Majority
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8. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:49]
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Card Driven Battle Game

1960: The Making of the President
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9. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:44]
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Cooperative

Battlestar Galactica
Shadows over Camelot
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10. Board Game: Villa Paletti [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1042]
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Dexterity
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11. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:189]
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Hand Management
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12. Board Game: Intrigue [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1387]
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Negotiation

Diplomacy
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13. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:61]
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Pick-up and Deliver
 
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14. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:84]
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Set Collection
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15. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:24]
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Simultaneous Action Selection
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16. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:149]
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Stock and Commodity Speculation
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17. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:108] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
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Tile Placement
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18. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:280]
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Trading

Catan
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19. Board Game: Zing! [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:728]
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Trick Taking

Sticheln
Tarot
Tichu
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20. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:214]
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Variable Player Powers

Witch's Brew
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21. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:6]
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Worker Placement

Stone Age
Kingsburg
Caylus
The Pillars of the Earth
Leonardo da Vinci
Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery
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