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Friday, January 06, 2006

German board games for beginners

Let's say that, hypothetically, you've played so few board games that you think of Monopoly when I mention them. You need to play some German games. Board games are much bigger in Germany than they are in the US or UK - and the majority of the best board games are designed in Germany.

Here's a few to get you started:
  • Manhattan by Andreas Seyfarth. Simple, strategic and great fun. Wins the "My Mum Can Play It" (MMCPI) recommendation.
  • Settlers of Catan by Klaus Teuber. A territory/trading game. Once again, MMCPI. Wheat for sheep? Doesn't anyone have some sheep? Very well known and popular.
  • Puerto Rico by Andreas Seyfarth. Sublime design and balance, a fine wine (if you will) of the boardgame world. If you can't get 4 people together to play it or you're just jonesing for more, try its card game little sibling, San Juan. San Juan shares some of the core mechanics but you can play with only 2 players in as little as 15 minutes.
I'd say Puerto Rico is more complicated than the other 2, so if you haven't played any "real" board games (read: not Monopoly or Game of Life) then start with Settlers.

One final tip: if you're in a store that sells boardgames and don't know what to buy, if in doubt buy one with the "Spiel Des Jahres" (Game of the Year) award. It will be good.

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