What We Talk About When We Talk About Frameworks
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I love 18xx. And Age of Steam. And Chicago Express. Imperial, too. Games where there's a huge wide open space to play around in. Brass. Tigris & Euphrates. The rules in these are more of a framework, and you don't get a good sense of how to play or what to target simply by reading the rulebook; the rulebook teaches the players under what constraints they now have to try and win the game, and they can do whatever they want within those constraints. In short, they teach the players how to create the game that's to be played, rather than explain to them precisely how material components can be exchanged for victory points.

All of those games feature direct player interaction, parasitism, constantly shifting incentives, and needing to temporarily help your opponent; multiplayer solitaire need not apply. The rules for all are relatively simple (yes, even 18xx; its reputation outweighs its reality in that department), and any depth emerges because of creative play within the system. They are all games that are difficult to play well the first time you play. There are many different ways to win, but you wouldn't call them "multiple paths to victory" at all.

So, help me out here: what the heck am I talking about? Is there a term for this?

As mentioned in a recent thread about a related topic (specifically this comment from Laura Creighton), these kinds of games are very highly regarded. But what are people thinking of when they think about them? What are you thinking about when you think about them? Is "open framework" a good descriptor? "Creative play"? "Playground game"? Are there common features I'm missing? What game embodies this for you?

(Scott Nicholson, btw, recently had a geeklist whose topic was close to this, but not quite this. Instead, it would up being a way for people to list games they liked playing and shared characteristics weren't the focus).

I mentioned a few already that share this amorphous, nebulous quality that I like. But rather than steer the list right off the bat with my own preferences, I'd rather see this go in non-me directions at first. So long as you know what I'm talking about and can articulate what you like the most about the sense of exploration or play that it provides in a certain game, please add that game.

Ultimately, there's a game genome thing going on here, because I'm hoping that (as with a Pandora station) by saying "No, that's not it" to a suggestion, we can better hone in on what we're talking about. Perhaps by the end of the discussion we can have a good set of recommendations for others and a good working definition for what qualities we admire. Hopefully more succinct than my intro.
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1. Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:184] [Average Rating:7.88 Unranked]
Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons
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A pretty obvious entry here, I'd think. My very first play of 1830, I had no idea what to do. I had read the rulebook. I could understand English. But as to what my first move should be? I hadn't a clue, and I was somewhat paralyzed. We all were. Subsequent plays of this, and many others in the series, have confirmed that this is a system with an almost unbelievable amount of freedom. You are free to try and to fail. The game is just a loose set of boundaries for what you can do, but you are invited to do almost anything, including riding on the coattails of others as they pay you fat dividends before you trash their company in gratitude.

Sometimes games have strategies that follow particular components, i.e., the corn strategy in Puerto Rico, or doing Steel-Coke-Ships in Le Havre, or a blue building strategy in St. Petersburg. But 1830 has nothing like that. The rulebook just explains what your available actions are in the game. There is a shared competitive space, and reading that space allows players (i.e. your opponents) to change the game if the current circumstances don't suit them.

This is probably the one game (or game system) out there where I feel that reading a strategy article doesn't deny me the opportunity of later discovery.
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2. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:88]
Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates
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One thing that's very important to me in a strategy game is that I want the freedom to play it badly. Now I've gotten into debates here about what that means, exactly, and maybe I'm still not 100% sure. But loosely, it means that I do not want a game to give me points and move me in a positive direction regardless of my decision. T&E lets me try a lot of things, and not all of them work, but it also refuses to trivialize my involvement in the game by giving me points no matter what I do. Paying attention matters, and if I make a mistake, then it's up to me to correct that mistake if there's time, and if I create the opportunity to do so. If I cannot, then the game is not going to artificially give me some initiative that I can use to "catch up."

T&E is really the game that got me thinking about this list in the first place, since I happened to finish a game of it this morning. Each game is totally different, there's a lot to pay attention to, but there's no such thing as a "Green Tile Strategy" or a "Treasure Strategy," and there's certainly no path pre-baked into the game despite all n player games starting the same way. It's really a set of rules and then Knizia gets out of the way to let the players figure out how to first create circumstances and then control them.

Some games have actions that give you points, and those actions are available exactly as the rulebook describes during the entire game (unless another player takes that action before you, as in a worker placement game). Some games, however, explain what actions get you points, but do not tell you how to create the opportunity for that action to be an option in the first place, and don't tell you that other players can spot that action starting to be available early and block it gleefully. T&E is the latter. The rulebook doesn't clarify how to execute the actions any more than a Portuguese Dictionary, by itself, will teach you to speak fluent Portuguese.
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3. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:120]
Board Game: Age of Steam
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OK, I'll keep going with a few.

Age of Steam is another poster child for this type of game. The track is competitive space, the auction is competitive space. Money is tight, actions are finite, players are desperate from Turn 1.

It's not the raw score totals on the income track that matter, but rather the deltas between competitors, so forcing someone into a position to take out a loan can benefit you despite them being ahead of you on the income track at the time; shipping goods over a route where an opponent gets good income is fine if the advancement forces them into a higher Income Reduction territory and they fall behind you at the end of the turn; urbanizing the last black city when you don't need it, simply to deny another player the opportunity to add it to his network is good; you can create opportunity by making a city out of nothing; you can steal a precious cube by careful manipulation of a single dollar's difference between player positions.

You can form a strategy based on initial cube distribution, but you have to stay flexible since your fat stash of blue cubes just got built into and your opponent is draining them, fast; picture Agricola where your neighbor can steal your veggies, and all of a sudden you realize Plan B is in order because they just siphoned off all the profit from the opportunity that you built.

Age of Steam is also a Game System, in that the same basic rules can be slightly modified or stressed with real butterfly effects simply by dropping the game onto a different map.
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4. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:676]
Board Game: Container
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Damn John, you need to play Container. It embodies this spirit more than any other game I know.

The rules are so simple (there are like 3 or 4 actions) but what do actually do with them is so opaque. Pretty much everything is left to the players - there are fixed costs for infrastructure but every price in the supply chain is set by the players. And there are no guide rails at all. If a group plays in a certain way, they can crash the game into a grinding depression.

Played solo, there would be literally no game. There are no resource conversions or complex logistical chains. There's just you, the other players, and the tools to manipulate them into doing what you want.
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5. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:324]
Board Game: Innovation
Martin G
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This one comes to mind when we talk of creativity. It's a game of improvisation, doing the best to put together whatever parts you get given.

The thing that makes it so amazingly varied is that the cards are highly context-dependent. There are very few fixed 'killer cards' from game to game. Depending on the game's landscape, a card you've always tossed before might suddenly become exactly what you need.

There's a phrase that David Weinberger used to describe the self-organising power of the World Wide Web - "small pieces, loosely joined". That feels relevant to Innovation somehow.
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6. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.16 Overall Rank:18]
Board Game: Brass: Lancashire
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I'm not experienced with this game by any means, but even after one play I can tell that this game fits me fairly well. And perhaps aside from a "no country" strategy in Imperial or a "no company" strategy in 18xx, this is maybe the most obviously parasitic game I own. You can build industries other players need, and force them to give you points. Worm into their network and build a port. Bulldoze over their iron works with your own. Sell to the distant market purely to drop the demand to 0 and make people use your ports. It's not possible to turtle in this game and pursue the "Liverpool Engine Strategy" or some such thing, because everyone is invested in each other and you need to constantly address the deltas between you all when you play; rarely does a move give you--and only you--opportunity or points or initiative.

Brass is a framework-type game because there's no consistent strategy that can ignore the other players, and there's no consistent strategy that can always be executed, point by point, regardless of what the other players are doing. There's a "Cotton strategy" in the canal phase, but that doesn't just mean "focus all your actions on taking the cotton strategy-related goods" from the market, fully knowing that your opponent is doing the Corn Strategy or the Nobles Strategy and is no real threat to you.

I'm hoping someone else who knows the game more than I do (which is, um, everyone) can elaborate on this.
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7. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
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I'm going to throw this into the pot too, to see if it gets a reaction.

Cosmic gives its players tremendous freedom. There are many times I've chosen a course of action not because I thought it would help me win, but because it was funny. Cosmic is almost more of an improvised performance than it is a competitive game. And Cosmic, like most of the games that will be added to this list I suspect, is hugely group-dependent. I'd gnaw my face off rather than play it like a modern Euro with rules-lawyers at the table.
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8. Board Game: Reef Encounter [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:631]
Board Game: Reef Encounter
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Oh, this one!

It's like the spatial board play of Tigris crossed with a stock market game.

My brain. It hurts.
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9. Board Game: The Resistance [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:248]
Board Game: The Resistance
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A string of amazing sessions of The Resistance has really opened my eyes up to the creative potential that exists here.

The game's rules immediately get out of the way, and all are left with the joint task of deduction ... or obfuscation. There are some very loose strategies that can be used from game to game, but adhere to them too closely and they become predictable, and thus beatable. Therefore, the best strategy is always an innovation on previous strategies that breaks the groupthink in a way which benefits your own side. Next game, the same strategy won't work. The plot cards and the "targeted missions" variant add tools for creative play, which allow experienced players to continue to innovate.

For a game that can be played with almost literally anyone, the creative space is astounding.
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10. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:438]
Board Game: Chicago Express
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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This game fits the bill very well from the emergent player properties POV. I realised that Chicago Express was far more than meets the eye when in one of my first games I suddenly realised, at about 2/3rs of the way through, that several people (amongst whom myself) had already lost, and that continuing was pointless. The reason? A strong partnership between two players which effectively melded them into a superplayer. The others had not recognised this in time, and so had let the duo get away with it. The game was mostly over and done at that point of failing to recongise the potential of a partnership.

I've since played a few more hands of CE, and I'm slowly becoming more sensitive to dangerous configurations. But when it comes to forcing these onto the board myself, to my benefit... Forget it. The last game I played saw one player finishing a strong second by having placed but a fraction of trains the others placed: he just bided his time, stayed low, and let the dividend accumulate steadily. He was in fact leeching off of the rest of us, and did very well for himself. I had not suspected this would be possible, but it apparently is.

Spatially, the game appears simple, but it's not, not really. Placed trains can never be moved nor removed, and that certainly keeps matters more straightforward than they otherwise could have been. But the potential for a company to grow, and thus how attractive its shares become, is strongly linked to how it is developed on the board. And since that in turn is strongly dependent on who owns the shares and what they intend to do with it, the outwardly simplistic placement becomes quite tangled up in how the players join forces.

I recognise the game's technical qualities, but I fear that I consider the opaqueness and harshness of the resulting whole is putting me off of playing this more often than I should. Also, you need players who are willing to discover the many subtleties in this design, and that is a problem too, I'm afraid.
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11. Board Game: Alchemist [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3302]
Board Game: Alchemist
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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It's interesting to see what happens if you relax the spatial element in frameworks/emergent gameplay titles. Chicago Express above I consider to be a harsh and unforgiving game: strong if you can make it work. For a much more gentle introduction to player manipulation, I like to play this title. It's not well-known, but if you like the idea of emergent patterns you ought to. Alchemist is about creating and copying alchemical recipes. You get points, once, for creating a recipe, by simply tagging the recipe with a point tile. After that, everyone but you can copy the recipe, netting them the point value you tagged a cauldron with. Your reward? Some of the ingredients used, c'est tout.

That's mostly it. You can grab ingredients from the supply if you want, and there's a secret school bonus which awards players whose 'school ingredient' was used the most at the end of the game.

The cunning thing is that the game forces you into a certain 'ingredient transformation' which sees you enticing other players to use your recipes so they give you the ingredients you need to use their recipes—which are hopefully more valuable. If you create a lot of recipes, you'll get a lot of ingredients... But you'll not be sure you can use those ingredients because the number of other recipes is limited. And vice versa. The spatial interplay is non-existent as cauldrons cannot effect one another, and the people interplay is limited because it is hard to actually point at a people structure and establish that two people are, for example, clearly cooperating. Alchemist is more about incentivising and leeching, and that's what makes it a simple game. But it's not totally simple either, especially once the schools' secret ingredients begin to weigh in, and that makes this simply a nice game to play. I always get a tiny kick out of creating an 'engine' of sorts which sees players catapulting me ahead because they are giving me ingredients which I can cash in for more points elsewhere. In any case, the simple but surprisingly effective rules put this game at the entry level of the framework/emergent games.
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12. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:216]
Board Game: Navegador
I think this is the gentlest version of what we are looking for -- one that just qualifies. However, there is only indirect interaction between the players, through the players and not direct interaction, so some of you may think that it just misses, instead of just hits. I am going to discuss the 4 or 5 person variant here -- the 2 person is a different beast, and I have never played the 3 person version.

The first way you can go wrong with this game is to expect, with a name like Navegador, that the game is about sailing and exploring. It's not. The game is about sitting in Portugal, trying to get Royal influence. Royal influence is chiefly a product of having spent your money wisely, though exploration can play a role. It's possible to win handily and never explore a single region, however.

The things that you can buy include factories, colonies, shipyards and churches. (Exploring will yield you exploration tokens). Another thing you can purchase is a limited number of Privilege tokens, but you cannot buy them for cash, only by sacrificing a worker. Scoring is 'privilege token times the number of X' (factories, colonies, exploration tokens, shipyards, churches) with a scaling factor -- churches are worth more than factories.. Each subsequent building of a particular type purchased by any player in the game costs more than its predecessor. This produces an outcome where the underrepresented strategy is the one that wins. So if I am playing factory/shipyard (by this I mean that I am concentrating on those 2 areas) where the other people around the table are playing colony/church, I should clean up handsomely and win by a large margin. So that happens -- once.

People learn to try to carve out their own niche and exploit it perfectly, and that niche is 'whatever the others aren't doing'. There is a very tense middle section of the game where nobody has commited to a strategy and nobody wants to be the first.

The reason that nobody wants to be the first is the other way that players influence each other, which is through the market. When a gold colony ownwer sells gold in the market, he depresses the price for other gold colony owners, while at the same time increases the prices that gold factory owners get for their manufactured gold goods. (Or rather increases their profits, but since the game only lists prices it can make the simplifying assumption that what the market pays you is your profit, not your gross price). This means that if the player on your right has gold colonies, you want to have gold factories, and vice versa. Same goes for sugar, and spice the other 2 commodities. You don't want to be sitting with gold colonies behind 2 others who are also dumping gold into the market, as you will never get a good price.

All of this is very simple.

Money is tight. And open. This is a great game to teach people to start paying attention to how much money other people have, if this is new to them. Using a rondel with 2 market squares, you basically always have to decide if now or later is a better time to go to the market.

I've played around with monte carlo simulations, and it is amazing how well balanced the colonies and the factories are against each other. Some people complain that exploration should be valued more -- especially if they wanted an exploration game and not a market manipulation game -- there is a variant proposed by Mac Gerts which addresses this in a simple way.

And you can get this to the table when you cannot get Container.
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13. Board Game: Gulf, Mobile & Ohio [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:4825]
Board Game: Gulf, Mobile & Ohio
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I don't pretend to speak authoritatively on this game, but here's what I have so far. The game really is a vehicle to play the other players.

This is a cube rails game, and there are a whole bunch of different companies that start in various places on the board. At the top of the board are rows of cubes, and the rows are all of different lengths. Whenever you build, you are obligated to build from the row of cubes that is currently longest (so companies don't have fixed colors, or come out in a certain order, or what have you). So some of the game comes in forcing your opponents to use cubes that benefit you.

Another way you play the players is through the auctions. Each company has two shares, and the shares are not the same. The company is capitalized incrementally (ergo, money can go into a company up to twice). If a company does not use its money on its build turn to build its network, that money is lost, so it's not like you build up a stockpile of cash. This means that you can't open a bid too low, because good players can recognize that it will result in an undercapitalized company; good luck when that happens. You also can't bid too much, or that money doesn't actually get invested in anything that produces returns (in this game's case, it's victory point-based and not cash+stock).

Definitely an opaque game, and I haven't come close to figuring out how to read the board yet. But its Manipulation Index is through the roof.
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14. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:219]
Board Game: Indonesia
✊ Clyde ❤️
United States
Bethesda
MD
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I love most of the heavy economic games listed here, but this is most likely my most favorite. I don't even know how to classify the player interaction in this Splotter, and certainly the strategy of the game is completely opaque, but rarely am I nothing less than thrilled to get this to the table, even when coming in dead last. Always a joy to play.
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15. Board Game: Rolling Stock [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:3820]
Board Game: Rolling Stock
Agent J
United States
Coldwater
Michigan
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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Love this one.

This one is a financial playground. It's not about making money so much as creating the opportunity to make money - financing. The game hands you some rules, and then says, "Have at it! Hope you last a couple turns before you fail miserably and can't do anything anymore."

With the ability to start corportaions, set share prices, issue new shares, buy those shares or leave them to the bank, buy other player's corporations' shares to leech off the dividends, buy companies to sell to your own corporation or your opponents' coprorations, massage your funds into just the right place to get that company that nobody else can afford that makes 150% of the income of anything other players could buy... buying the last company another player can afford, effectively shutting them out of the rest of the game...

There are a ton of rules, but the emergent gameplay is there in spades, as the rulebook tries so hard not to point you in the right direction that a separate strategy guide was written so that normal individuals could find a way to not lose.
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16. Board Game: Himalaya [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:1222]
Board Game: Himalaya
Paul Smith
United States
Long Beach
California
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Himalaya is a nice framework game with a short playtime.
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17. Board Game: Stephenson's Rocket [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1198]
Board Game: Stephenson's Rocket
Johannes cum Grano Salis
United States
Finger Lakes
New York
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"It's not hard to design a game that works, the real challenge is making one that people want to play again and again."--Martin Wallace
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I'm going to go ahead and add this despite never having played it (I do own a copy). It was recommended to me by a number of people, and I pretty firmly prefer Through the Desert to pretty much anything else he's ever done.

A common complaint about the game (and honestly, this complaint is something I seek out when looking for potential buys) is that the game is strategic & opaque & needs a several-game-long group commitment to get it played well.

I'm particularly drawn to perfect information, no-luck multiplayer games with fixed setups, for the odd (and somewhat counterintuitive) reason that they have the most distinct replayability for me; the opportunity to play a game the exact same way each time you play it somehow results in totally different games every time because, if they are paying attention, the losing players have no incentive at all to repeat history and so they need to change the game. And "changing the game" is more likely in an open space game.

OK, so after all that, please tell me this is an open space game.
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18. Board Game: Dutch InterCity [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:7283]
Board Game: Dutch InterCity
Cole Wehrle
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
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So, lots of folks have brought up Winsomes which I think fit the rubric of the list quite nicely. Many Winsome games start with an auction and, inevitably, after I teach a game, a new player will ask him "how much should I bid?" when the impulse comes around to him or her. I have a few ways of answering the question, but usually I keep things cryptic.

When I teach "open" games like this, I tend to be as minimal as possible. I go through all of the rules, more or less in one pass and then get the action of play moving as swiftly as possible so players can get a feel for the game. Recently, I taught Dutch InterCity to a few folks at a local game store's open gaming night. I told them, rather bluntly, that the game was quite spartan and quite mean. Enticed, they sat down after finishing their game of Puerto Rico and we played a round. The game was excruciating, but mainly because of the excessive hand-holding they lobbied for. Dutch InterCity is not an easy game to read and they simply wouldn't accept that one player's poor play could disrupt the game in such a profound way.

How do you guys teach these games? Is your method different from the way you might teach a euro?
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19. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:590]
Board Game: Diplomacy
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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I don't believe economic games are the only one eligible for "open framework" status, so I'm posting this.

This was talked about already, so let's talk about it. Probably a lot of people here can tell more about it than me, so I'll explain why I appreatiate it.

what is it: open framework within limited confines and that's where the problems (or fun) begins. It has two phases: one is open talk and negotiation with anybody - usually done person to person, then the combat/movement phase where all the previously written orders are revealed simultaneously and the combat resolved.

how it works: Deterministic combat fuels the need to cooperate. Firstly - only more units can defeat less units, even number can't do a thing (unless cleverly manoeuvred). Secondly - there's a limit to the number of units in the game and units are tied to "cities" (support centres): gaining control of one, gives you a possibility to build a unit and kills a unit of a previous owner. Thirdly - with only one unit per space rule, there's a spacial element to the game which enables clever board play ("tactics").
The key element is: one needs helps of neighbours early on (usually against the other neighbour), but that neighbour can become a block to further growth, hence the idea of a backstab.

Why it belongs here:
The gameplay emerges from the rules. So on diplomacy level: there's nothing in the rules about alliances, non-aggression treaties and demilitarized zones. There's also nothing forbidding promises, threats, revenge and so on. On tactical level: it shows that knowing the specifics of the board are very important - some places are more important than others, having control over them might be crucial.

And while there's some "common wisdom" how to play - which alliances are "better" and which are not the best ways to attack early on, everything can be done with a good usage of negotiation. Unnatural alliances work and unorthodox moves as well when properly backed with deals (and military power as well).

Probably my favourite quality of the game is the interplay between the tactical board play and diplomatic relations. As it has been said, good diplomacy will fuel warfare - it can make weird and risky manoeuvres a sure thing, it can also make "impossible" work. But of course, nothing helps diplomacy more than a couple of units to persuade the other player - classic case of colonial "gunboat diplomacy". And also in reverse - best diplomacy won't help if you left holes in your defence, so you need military to give you a better bargaining position. But when armies fail, send in out the diplomats, spread rumours, forge alliances, beg, threathen, everything goes. The possibilities of diplomatic level are endless and are pretty much limited with how much you can bear and what will others tolerate - that's why the common wisdom goes: if you're dead, it was your diplomacy that failed.

Ticking off boxes:
Direct player interaction, yes: on board and in talking.
parasitism, constantly shifting incentives, and needing to temporarily help your opponent: these are probably not so obvious, but for instance an opening of a nation (other than predictable turkey) can send waves all around the board. Attack one nation, means helping it's other neighbours. So ideally you want others to make work easier for you. You also have to be careful who you can make more powerful with your manoeuvres.

Of course if you want full economic experience with Diplomacy it's Imperial that you actually want.
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20. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:225]
Board Game: Modern Art
Goo
United States
Yorba Linda
California
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Auction games in general usually fit this category, especially a game like Modern Art which is nothing but auctions.

The rules are about as simple as you can get. My Mayfair edition has a short photocopied rule set that you can read in 5 minutes. But the game that comes out of it is mind blowing.

You are constantly hovering on the edge of chaos. And it's not a chaos generated by random mechanics (dice, etc.). It's a chaos created by the unpredictability of other players.

Auction games like this are very group dependent. The game is as fun as you guys make it and as boring as you make it. When people say they don't love Modern Art, I think, you haven't played with my game group. Forming alliances, screwing the leader, helping the players in back, piggy-backing on other players, all of these things that make the game great are not expressed in the rules. They are only there if the players bring them to the sandbox.
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21. Board Game: God's Playground [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:1905]
Board Game: God's Playground
Tiamat
United States
Maple Grove
Minnesota
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Curious if any would count this one...

Three players (noble families), over 400 years, are seemingly trying to defend Poland against the five enemies at its borders, in a cooperative fashion. But actually the cooperative aspect is an illusion: The winner will basically be the player whose properties fared the best, regardless of what happened to Poland as a whole.

The game strikes me as being about selectively not defending Poland, but the rules have few references to this idea.
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Family: The Mask Trilogy
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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The Mask Trilogy, as well as other spatial framework games of the K&K duo (e.g., Torres, Bison: Thunder on the Prairie, Cavum, Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India) achieve this effectively as well:

Each game provides a menu of actions which can be arranged in diverse fashions to different ends. The best part is that not every move is good, nor is the effectiveness of a move immediately obvious. The board, and its relative spatial valuation, emerges as a function of players.

Highmarks for emergence here are Java and Maharaja.
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23. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:444]
Board Game: Bohnanza
fozzy fosbourne
United States
Belmont
California
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"All of those games feature direct player interaction, parasitism, constantly shifting incentives, and needing to temporarily help your opponent; multiplayer solitaire need not apply. The rules for all are relatively simple (yes, even 18xx; its reputation outweighs its reality in that department), and any depth emerges because of creative play within the system. They are all games that are difficult to play well the first time you play. There are many different ways to win, but you wouldn't call them "multiple paths to victory" at all."

I'd say that Bohnanza has elements of all of the above (although the parasitism is a bit indirect, maybe). I think one of the tell-tale signs of an open framework is how if you observe two different groups playing the same game, you might see two completely different approaches to playing it. Watch a group of children play this game compared to serious euro gamers!
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24. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:455]
Board Game: Pax Porfiriana
Cole Wehrle
United States
St. Paul
Minnesota
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Microbadge: John Company fanMicrobadge: Root fanMicrobadge: Constantly thinking about game designMicrobadge: Pax Porfiriana fanMicrobadge: Thomas Pynchon fan
Okay, I'll bite.

Quote:

All of those games feature direct player interaction, parasitism, constantly shifting incentives, and needing to temporarily help your opponent; multiplayer solitaire need not apply. The rules for all are relatively simple (yes, even 18xx; its reputation outweighs its reality in that department), and any depth emerges because of creative play within the system. They are all games that are difficult to play well the first time you play. There are many different ways to win, but you wouldn't call them "multiple paths to victory" at all.
I think Pax fits this description quite well:

Player interaction. Check.
Parasitism. Check.
Shifting Incentives. Check.
Simple rules. Sorta-check.
Different ways to win but not multiple paths. Check and double check.

Yet, I'm also hesitant. It seems odd to place Pax next to something like an 18xx or a Winsome or whatnot. But, if innovation makes the list, Pax Porfiriana certainly should as well.
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