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Games you have spent more time trying to learn how to play (correctly) than actually playing
Curt Carpenter
United States
Seattle
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The game I'm kicking the list off with gave me the idea. Maybe been done before, but curious to see what other games, particularly current games, people have experienced this with.

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1. Board Game: Stronghold [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:298]
Curt Carpenter
United States
Seattle
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I bought this when it first came out. Learning it was a bit of a rough go. The faq was horribly formatted and many pages. I felt bad for but also appreciated my son who struggled through it with me. We did enjoy playing it a few times, but I still don't think we tipped the balance enough to match the time spent trying to learn it. Especially after reading the new version of the rules, which unfortunately still wasn't both complete and completely clear. We did enjoy the game, but there are enough details that I fear that if I didn't play frequently, I would forget everything and have to repeat the process when I wanted to play again. Which wasn't worth it to me, so I sold it. I might consider rebuying the new version if the rules are crystal clear.
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2. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:136] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Doug Click
United States
Blountville
Tennessee
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Very complicated game. I have read and re-read the rules. Found out about mistakes in my comprehension of the rules by readying session reports and forum posts. Created a flow chart to help me in playing the game, which took about eight hours as I poured over the rule book, and yet, after all the time spent learning this game, I have only played it one time.
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3. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:23]
Jeffrey L.
United States
Western Burbs of Beantown
Massachusetts
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The game that frustrated me the most so far in regards to the rules is Race for the Galaxy. I bought this for my son as a birthday gift, so I had to figure it out before we gave it to him. It took me forever to understand how it worked, had to read,took some notes, re-read, and finally watched a video tutorial on the gameplay. I enlisted the help of my 11 year old son, who promptly decoded all the mumbo jumbo and figured it all out on his own. We've played a few times and he has crushed us in every game, while the rest of us still scratch our heads and wonder what all the symbols and stuff mean. Now, my 11 year old on the other hand loves it, and doesn't understand why we are all so dense. I'm sure RFTG must be fun on some level, I'm just not there yet. I may play a few more times to see if it finally clicks.
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4. Board Game: Android [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:701]
jonathanWC
Japan
Sendai
Miyagi
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And this other piece of cardboard does what?
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5. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:68]
Klaus Brune
United States
Torrance
California
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If learning how to play WELL without having your rear end handed to you on a platter counts, then this one. I've got a whole bookshelf full of reading material and I've not even really gone through it all thoroughly yet.
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6. Board Game: Star Fleet Battles [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1219]
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The rules to the game are like an encyclopedia, and I did play it a lot back in the day, but let me put a slightly different twist to your criteria:

The game is really great, but its movement chart is very fiddly. To roll up damage and allocate it is an execise in time consumption and dice-throwing. Back in 1987, I wrote a program in BASIC (on an Apple IIC -- how's that for old school?) for doing both. It blew through the 128K I had on that machine. I played it with my college roommate a few times, and it did take a 3 hour game and trim it down to 45 minutes, but I never made up the time I poured into programming.

In 2002, I re-wrote the program in Visual Basic 6, but this time, it handled tons of aspects about the game. I was extremely proud of it, even though I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours programming the game. To program the game, I had to spend hours pouring through the tomes of rule books, to make sure I had every rule down exact (it had been about 15 years since I played).

Despite that, I never found an opponent to play it with, so in a way, it kind of qualifies for your Geeklist.

Then, I learned about Federation Commander, which streamlined and got rid of the most time-consuming and fiddly parts of Star Fleet Battles, and made it the game I always wanted. I switched to this system, and never dreamed about playing SFB ever again.

At least I learned programming from my experience and was able to use it in other areas -- namely making a program that I sell on the internet and then buy games with my earnings!
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7. Board Game: Magic Realm [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:641]
joel hansen
United States
Wautoma
Wisconsin
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I have watched videos, read reviews, printed rules and counter sheets.....

But i am nowhere close to a real game, perhaps because i would still have to create the game, and possibly if i played it once, that might put me down on one side of the fence.

Afterwards I would either "just have" to create my own copy, or i would be thankful not to have invested the time into a game that i won't play much.

I'm not actually concerned that i won't like, it, just that it won't get played because of complexity, and a lack of a regular game group who would invest the time with me.
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8. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:124]
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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My main hobby for some fifteen years (with a few breaks) was just working at learning Squad Leader and its expansions, and then ASL.

It was a never-ending process. Even if I came close to learning it, I'd let the game sit for a couple months and then have to read a bunch of rules again next time I wanted to play. Beyond that, there were also all those special rules for special situations.

ASL is just an outstanding example, though. Truth is, all wargames have been like this for me. Once I learn one, I'm done with it, and I start learning another one. I don't remember the last time I sat down and played a wargame just to enjoy playing it.

It helps that I'm a solitaire gamer anyway. Learning and playing kinda merge together. In those fifteen years I mentioned above, I never once played SL or ASL with another person.
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9. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:5]
Christian Killoran
United States
Denver
Colorado
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I fully understand that I will lose a lot of geek cred by posting this. I got this game when it was first released due to the unprecedented hype and excitedly broke out the rules and components. Read the rules several times and just didn't get it. This concerned me, because long complicated rules have never been a problem for me before. Hell, I've played the full campaign game of War in Europe...twice! Several times over the years I've pulled this off the shelf and tried again, to no avail. Still haven't played yet.
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10. Board Game: War of the Ring (first edition) [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:34]
Henrik Schunk
Germany
Cologne
NRW
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Spent hours learning this, with rules summaries, FAQs and example turns. Played about 1 hour of the actual game and only solitaire.
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11. Board Game: Merchants of the Middle Ages [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:980]
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Australia
MURRUMBEENA
Victoria
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Just the most recent example, and probably not the most egregious. I have played this three times, and it was only part-way through the third game that I realised there are different methods of bidding. Single-bid, "silent" auctions for loadmaster, and open bidding for cards. I taught the game, and we were making open, multi-round bids for the loadmaster. This despite reading the rules several times, soloing a couple of turns and reading almost everything on BGG.
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12. Board Game: Antiquity [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:148]
Gilad Yarnitzky
Israel
Reut
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I got the game, read the rules, was ready to play, and people didn't want to play it.
After a few months the process was repeated again, then again and again for about 6 times.
Still have not played the game even once but sure spent a lot of times learning and re-learnign the rules (not that I remember them now)

I want to play this game *sobbing*
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13. Board Game: Monsterpocalypse [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:877] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
Subhan Michael Tindall
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Don't get me wrong, I love this game, but the learning curve is steep and long. The basic rules are not too bad, but there is a plethora of special powers and abilities, each with it's own icon. I've played this game a fair bit, but I've yet to get through a game without spending 1/3 of it looking things up, and trying to sort out interactions. But man, those bits are cool!
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14. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:1]
Jason Clague
New Zealand
Hamilton
Waikato
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Borrowed this game, and my wife and I attempted to learn it ourselves, with no-one to give us a demo. Even went through the example game in the rulebook. Still have no idea how it works
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15. Board Game: Empire of the Sun [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:673]
Robert Fox
United States
Tampa
Florida
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I found the rules quite easy to understand but I cannot get my head around the strategy. Attempting to get the Japanese though 1942 is a futile effort for me. Even with great hands I cannot get Japan anywhere near the historical expansion; which makes it really easy on the Americans to win.
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16. Board Game: Phoenicia [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1072]
Henrik Lantz
Sweden
Uppsala
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The rulebook is so bad that the game is not really playable with the rules as written. So I had to download the improved rules from the geek and this helped, but between trying to understand the original and the improved rules I probably spent more time on that than playing the game itself. And I can't say I enjoyed the game even after I understood how to play it. It was just clunky.
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17. Board Game: Origins: How We Became Human [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1730]
Humulus Lupulus
United States
Waltham
Massachusetts
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I've read the rules and played through a few turns, but I can't seem to wrap my head around one particular section of rules. I don't understand what happens during the Descending into Chaos steps*, and how that all works.

I finally lost interest in it. However, one of my gaming friends does still want to play the game. So I loaned it to him and told him, "Here, I'll play it, but you'll have to teach."

*It's been a while since I've looked over this game, but I think this is what it's called. I could be misremembering.
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18. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:96]
Roy Hasson
Israel
Kfar Saba
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This has got to be the one. I read the rules, saw instructional videos, tried playing, scratched my head, went back to the rules - wash, rinse and repeat.

I have yet to play a full game..
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19. Board Game: PQ-17: Arctic Naval Operations 1941-43 [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:2762]
Jan Ozimek
Denmark
Aalborg
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I have tried to read the manual for this game several times, but I simply cannot get through it. I have played more complex games and poured through truckloads of RPG books etc., but this one is just a killer.

I really wan't to play the game, but unless someone makes a rules video or at least some sort of overview/intro video, I afraid it's never going to hit the table.

I don't really get why it is so hard to read. I guess each individual mechanic makes sense, but getting the overview seems impossible. The GMT-style layout of the manual doesn't help either. I'm sure it's great for references once you have an idea of the game flow, but getting to that point seems impossible for me soblue
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20. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:46]
0,07 Geek Gold
Italy
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With no doubt... PoG. So I traded it.
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21. Board Game: 1853 [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1871]
Adam Brocker
United States
Gilbert
AZ
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I really like this game, but the additional rules over and above the standard 18XX rules made it a bear to get to the table. Most of these rules would really only be useful if you played with 5 or 6 players.
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22. Board Game: Ambush! [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:489]
Justin, Karen, Acacia, and Janek
United States
Willmar
Minnesota
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The first wargame I've ever tried to learn.

*wipes pools of sweat from forehead*

Oh how I wish for an Ambush! master right here in my town.

(To be honest, after I wrote that, I half-expected someone in a ghillie suit to climb out of my kitchen cupboard with my copy of Ambush!, saying, "You requested a tutorial?")

surprise
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23. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:47]
Ernest Bourne
United States
South Jordan
Utah
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Huh? Where do all these pieces go? How do you move?

The rules read more like a set of the development of some computer code - only I can generally understand that.

Needs to come with a dvd tutorial! and then possibly a support call center.
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24. Board Game: Whistling Death [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:1900]
Christopher O
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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I make a point of trying to play every game I buy. I spent many hours reading up on this, but haven't found an opponent in my area willing to do the same amount of reading.

Rules aren't badly written, but there's a lot of them and, because of the realistic physics involved, it isn't intuitive.

So, sadly, Whistling Death and Achtung: Spitfire! sit on my gaming shelf with all of one (interrupted) play of a two hour game to their credit, and probably 6-8 hours or more of rulebook reading and solitaire run-throughs.

Worth looking at if you're a fan of WWII aviation, though!
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25. Board Game: The Republic of Rome [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:210]
Neil Whyman
United States
Massachusetts
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Ahhhhhhhhhhgggggggg.

Gave up trying.
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