Games That Should Suck, But Actually Rock
Juha Kettunen
Finland
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Prejudice is a funny thing. Certain amount of prejudice is built into every one of us. Sometimes prejudice can save your life, but other times, it will prevent you from experiencing the best things in life.

Gamers have prejudices, too. The unexperienced may be convinced that he'd never enjoy a wargame with complex rules. A scarred veteran won't touch something simple and mainstream, because he's sure he'd be bored to tears. A scifi lover stays away from historical themes and sticks with what he knows best. But every so often, if you dare to take the first step and try something completely different, you'll surprise yourself. How can something like THIS be so good?

If there's a game that should really suck for some reason, but actually rocks, add it to the list and write a brief description. Why did you think it would suck and why does it rock instead?

See also: Games That You Should Love, But Actually Hate
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1. Board Game: Steam [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:53]
Juha Kettunen
Finland
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On the computer, I've played my share of train sims (Railroad Tycoon, Sid Meier's Railroads! etc). I saw Steam high on BGG's list and was intrigued. I read the rulebook and thought, WHAT, this is it? You lay track hexes, place disks (!) to mark train routes - excuse me, links - and move one-shot wooden cubes around? How exciting - not! Where's the route optimization, the economy of different types of goods, the improving of stations? This game must SUCK!

Then I played the game - and fell in love. I don't know how I thought a three hours board game could be anything like a computer sim. But it doesn't have to be! Designing the track by laying tiles is fun! It's very satisfying to subtly sabotage your opponent's plans by stealing away the best deals from under his nose. The simple economy system is brilliant and earning the most victory points rules. This game rocks!
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2. Board Game: Caledea: The Epic Strategy Game [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:7810]
Pokey 64
United States
Kenmore
New York
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Look at the box art. Not very inspiring. Look at the photos of the game pieces and map. Cubes, some counters and that map. Wow. Look at that rating! If that doesn't turn you off , nothing will, right? That can't possibly be an "epic strategy game".

It's a hidden gem! An easy to play, very clever, multiplayer (up to four) wargame.

If you want a very playable, deep wargame and can get past the fact that there's no historical context or grand theme. This one is a "must get"!
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3. Board Game: Castle of Magic [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:4243]
Matt Davis
United States
New Concord
Ohio
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Look at that picture. Yep, it's the real board for this game. Yes, I know it looks like something you and your little brother drew on a snow day in the third grade. Also, the primary mechanic is roll-and-move.

And I love this game. Hidden identities, unique player victory conditions, and a clever system for learning little bits of information about your fellow players (in such a way that THEY don't even know what you just found out about them) makes for a way better game than it should be.
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4. Board Game: Fairy Tale [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:527]
Andrew Hodkinson
Canada
Kemble
Ontario
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This game should by all accounts suck. It's a card game with a tired fantasy theme. It has busy graphics -- see the card picture -- with a mixture of Japanese/Western European images and a name that sounds childish. It's about making sets and your play often has little effect on your opponents' play.

And while all of this is true, the game actually is quite good. It's a fast game with simple rules: you get five cards each round for four rounds and only get to play three cards each round. You form your own melds with limited opponent interference but those few times are devastating. And best of all, there are extra rules (some by main designer Satoshi Nakamura but also by Richard Garfield) that scale the game up in complexity without wrecking the basic design. All in all, the game is clever, quick, and addictive.
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5. Board Game: Sorry! Sliders [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1067]
EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
United States
Folsom
CA
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I don't know how many times I've introduced this game with "Look, it's not really sorry!." It's just a raucously good dexterity game with enough sorry! mechanics to count as a light re-theming. Of all the games I own, this is the pinnacle of "Just one more round!"
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6. Board Game: Monopoly Deal Card Game [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:1471]
Zack Stackurski
United States
Mankato
Minnesota
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I love almost all games, play Boardgames with my wife, have three kids, generally enjoy cats and understand and like those bumper stickers with the little fishies sprouting legs.
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Its like $5, is from Parker Bros, and has that Monopoly name on it. It should be 3 strikes you're out... but this turns out to be a decent little filler with plenty of 'take that' and it even scales well from 2-5. Perhaps it doesn't quite "rock" but when where you're expecting nothing this gives you a suprising amount of something!
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7. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:96]
Mike Banks
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Hmmm -- a 5 hour game of Germany's electoral system? Graphics that are drab at best, downright confusing at worst? A convoluted ruleset that is virtually unplayable without multiple player aids?

Ooo Ooo -- pick me!

But, ya know what? It's a FANTASTIC game -- not just good, but truly GREAT. Full of agonizing decisions at every turn, dripping with theme, and plenty of opportunities for trash talk, too.

If you've shyed away from this one, you should most definitely give it a shot -- the more the merrier, too!

Just be sure to print those player aids first~
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8. Board Game: You Must Be an Idiot! [Average Rating:5.87 Overall Rank:5803]
J. Jefferson
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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A party game, that's not super popular, that has fairly generic graphics, and involves trivia. This should really, really, really be terrible. But it's not. It's a blast. It's all about bluffing, and discovering who is really an idiot and who's just pretending to be an idiot to get an edge. The greatest moments are when you discover that someone you know is really an idiot.
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9. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:11]
Davido
United States
California
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Economic Market Resource game sounds like an insomnia cure.
Hodge podge of mechanics (auction, network building, resource management) sounds like a clusterf*ck.

Buuuuut, It all works and magnificently so. Most of our games are tense, interactive screw-fests that go down to the wire. This is one awesome game and the extra maps and play styles keep PG fresh.

EDIT: For a review that embraces PG in all its clunky glory:PG Steampunk Review
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10. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:142] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Ken Donagan
United States
Falmouth
Maine
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Most of us grow up being taught that the object of games is to win. We all would much rather win than lose. So why is it that when playing a game such as Arkham Horror, in which you are in a constant state of near certain doom, this game can be so much fun? I find myself actually wanting things to go wrong at times, just to see what will happen.
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11. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:281]
Gudjon Torfi Sigurdsson
Iceland
Isafjordur
Isafjardarbaer
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This one.

How on earth could bean farming be fun? For some reason I bought it on a whim and don't regret it at all! Fun trading coupled with that unique non-changeable hand makes this for a game that rocks.
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12. Board Game: Heroes Incorporated [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:4600]
Frank McGirk
South Korea
Pohang
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Another case of "whatta bored board"...and from the rules it seems like just a case of "who rolls the highest die," but it's a total blast, with multiple strategies and a lot of potential for come-from-behind wins.

Highly recommended!
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13. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:71]
James Webb Space Telescope in 2018!
United States
Utah
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Plain boring grid. Black and white pieces, no other colors. That's all for bits.

Learning curve. More learning. Forever learning.

I don't know why I ever tried this game, but I'm sure glad I did.
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14. Board Game: Wasabi! [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:883]
Len
United States
Austin
Texas
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Bought this as my niece thought it looked so cool, and anything to get the kids to the game table for together time, right? I did not expect a great game from a sushi theme. How could it be anything other than silly?

Opening the box, you immediately see the production is top notch: beautiful art, great tiles/components, and cool little bowls.

After a couple of plays you start to realize you have interesting decisions concerning how much risk you want to take with the size of the recipes (and when it is best to take them) and how you can use others' tiles to build your own recipes. When you think the board is nearly full and the game is near the end, the chop!, stack, and switch cards allow you to start rearranging the tiles to add to the game and your points.

Add to that that dreaded screwage of the Wasabi! card, and you have a game that has more depth than you might think (and little luck involved), but keeps it light like a good filler game should be. Games last less than an hour and it is easy to teach. The only downside is getting the tiles set up to play takes a few minutes.

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15. Board Game: Granny Apples [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:7422]
Mike Krause
United States
Vancouver
Washington
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An excellent filler that gets people shouting and laughing. Roll eight d2 "apples", do the math of how many apples are on the table, and shout out your answer! We adults love it. The only thing is it's a hard game to mix adults and kids in the same game.
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16. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:29]
Stuart Carroll
Australia
Melbourne
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How many other games based on a TV-series do you know of that come close to the greatness of this game?
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17. Board Game: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Game [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1176]
Brandon Ferrer
United States
Pittsford
New York
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Mass Market boardgame based on a TV show? Normally one should pass, but this one shouldn't be passed up. It does a great job of capturing the theme of the show and contains enough references and in jokes to satisfy the fans of the show. Plus Oz turns into a werewolf.
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18. Board Game: Star Wars: Episode 1 – Clash of the Lightsabers [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:2385]
Cate
United States
Mequon
Wisconsin
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This game should suck... it is Star Wars Episode 1 and it is mass market. But it rocks. The super simple combat system works much better than I expected it to. It was the best 99 cents I spent on eBay.
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19. Board Game: Navia Dratp [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:1299]
Jason Birzer
United States
Burke
Virginia
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How about a Japanese styled "collectable" figure Shogi-like game? Certainly a lot of those elements turned a lot of people off this game, but it has found an afterlife with a lot of people who think is a great game.
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20. Board Game: Magical Athlete [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1672]
Damon Asher
United States
Jefferson
MA
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I mean, come'on - roll and move?!? But it is fun, man! The interaction of all the powers makes this game a blast. This game is stupid like a fox.
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21. Board Game: Treasure Fleet [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:6962]
The Grouch
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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This another game with less than stellar box art, but it the game inside is fantastic. Easy to teach, fun to play with surprising tactical depth for such a deceptively simple game. And the mechanics work very well with the theme. It's not at all suprising to see players sneer and exclaim...

arrrh "ARRR, YE SCURVY DOG!"

...while playing. Too bad this self-published gem is going out of print. I hope another publisher will pick it up.
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22. Board Game: Battleship Card Game [Average Rating:5.70 Overall Rank:7537]
Jeremy Fridy
United States
Kent
Ohio
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Battleship Card Game, in the Dollar bin at the local Marc's... I foolishly buy it because I'm a sucker for dollar games (Don't ask how many copies of risk I have.) A week later I go to a friends house and pull it out to test it.

It's GREAT! It's like a lighter version of Caesar & Cleopatra. It has hidden deployment, special abilities, and a 20 minute game length. I've never seen it for sale again, and everyone who tries it likes it.
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23. Board Game: Chaos [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:5267]
Bob Wilson
United States
Northampton
Massachusetts
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It will look like UNO until you read the rules more carefully. Z-Man had confidence enough in this to publish it, and it's worth their effort. This game is all about dealing-out screwage and avoiding it for yourself, and about timing, timing, timing. Plays extremely well with three, harder for new players at four and five.

It is the only game I know that involves handing your entire hand to the player on your left and right that DOESN'T suck.

Nice card quality, sturdy euro-style card box. Cheap, cheap price. Love it.
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24. Board Game: DungeonQuest [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:939]
United States
New York
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Okay, so you're an adventurer with powers that are wildly different from the other adventurers. You are not working with the others, but against them. You are plundering a dragon's horde.

So far, so good.

The game, though, uses a rock-paper-scissors type of mechanism to resolve conflicts. Many of the paths you take will wind up as literal dead-ends. The plastic minis that come with the game are bleh. Oh, and you are most likely to wind up as dragon food and lose spectacularly.

But I cannot get enough of it. A great game.
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25. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:421]
Hunter E
United States
Kirkland
Washington
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I will say I have to take folks' word for it; it seems interesting enough to me, but I'm told that I'm odd, and to most containerized freight is anything but an exciting and dynamic theme. Add the "dry economic euro" epithet, and most people see this and go running. Except everyone I've actually been able to talk into playing seems to love it. What makes this game stand out to me (and makes it my currently highest-rated game) is the deep layers of interactivity.

A lot of so-called "economic" games are "design a money-making machine" games, which isn't really how economics works. In Container, every action you take affects not only you but at least one other player; the whole game is a web of imperfect-information transactions where anything you do to help yourself is probably going to help someone else too (if it's not, why would they agree to it?), leading to a careful balancing act between helping yourself and denying advantage to the competition. I often say, this is the only real economic game I know of (though PG comes close).

The "dry" characterization only makes sense if you look only at what's happening on the board; sure, you're just bouncing chunks of wood back and forth, but what's going on upstairs and between players is where the real game is.
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