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I'm looking for some nonstandard board games that don't take more than two hours to complete and don't take less than thirty minutes. By nonstandard I mean other than monopoly, risk and cluedo.

I've been doing a lot of research on the internet the past two days and I've narrowed it down to four games which I think might fit the bill - Dominion, Agricola, Puerto Rico and Settlers of Catan.

The primary idea is for me and my best friend to play this with our girlfriends, so the game shouldn't be too aggressive, but I also have to keep in mind that my friend is a huge Total War fan.

Now, I have almost 0 experience with real board games, and I'm pretty sure the other three have absolutely no experience, but all four of us are very enthusiastic about starting.

Personally, I feel Agricola might be the best for us, but I'm currently collecting opinions from all around, and I would like to hear the pros and cons of these four games (as well as any other you think might fit the bill), in regards to our gaming group. Replayability should be the highest concern.

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closed as off-topic by user1873, unor, Pieter Geerkens, Johno, Tom77 Sep 23 '13 at 11:07

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for game recommendations are off-topic. For details on why, and where you might find good recommendations elsewhere, see this meta discussion." – user1873, unor, Pieter Geerkens, Johno, Tom77
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Welcome to B&CG.SE. Unfortunately, game recommendation questions are off-topic for this Q&A site. It might be possible to make your question into an objective question (I.e. Can Puerto Rico be played without aggressive tactics?), but you will need to rework the question substantially (what do you mean by "aggressive" and "replayability", and how should we weight the two?) Most games are replayable (Risk Legacy withstanding), and of the 4 only Dominion can have near zero aggressiveness. –  user1873 Sep 22 '13 at 12:40
    
I'm guessing by aggressiveness you essentially mean competitiveness: does the game incentivize doing things which not only help you but also hurt other players? That's a fairly objective question. –  Jefromi Sep 22 '13 at 16:16
    
I would not recommend Puerto Rico for "one time" groups like couples. (See my answer to this question.) boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/1946/… Agricola may be a better choice. –  Tom Au Sep 24 '13 at 22:53
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For what it's worth, it always takes us more than 2 hours to play a 2 player game of Agricola... Your mileage may vary. –  David Oneill Oct 7 '13 at 13:00

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

No one can really answer your question directly, but I can give an overview of the four different games and their play styles.

Agricola

  • Complex rules and might be a bit heavy for a non-gamer initially.
  • About building a farm. Everyone likes building a farm.
  • "Aggressive" play comes from resource denial
  • Most games will take 30 minutes per player to play. During learning it'll probably take an extra 15+ minutes per player.
  • Lots of setup/packup work is required.
  • Plays best with 4 players.
  • Highly replayable and highly addictive.

Dominion

  • Rules are relatively simple.
  • Very little aggressive play.
  • Player interaction with each other is limited.
  • The game plays as a deck building game.
  • Most games will come in under half an hour. Some cards will extend this but never more than an hour.
  • Plays best with 2 players.
  • There are a lot of worthless cards/card combos, which limits the combinations of possible games more than it seems initially.
  • Lots of replayability, but expansions are highly recommended to open up the possibilities.

Puerto Rico

  • Rules are moderately difficult - easier than Agricola, more difficult than Dominion.
  • Play is generally not aggressive, but has a high degree of player interaction.
  • Game time is rarely more than 1.5h.
  • Plays best with 4 players.
  • Moderate amount of setup/packup work.
  • Base game is slightly imbalanced, favouring players who start with corn. This won't have too much of an impact though.

Settlers of Catan

  • Famous mainly as a "gateway game" into Euro-style games.
  • Lots more luck involved than the other three games.
  • Some games will last over 2 hours, depending on luck factors and how decisive each player is.
  • Plays best with 3-4 players.
  • Rules are relatively simple to learn.
  • Dice use will make new players feel more comfortable.
  • Pretty quick setup/packup time.
  • Probably has the least long term replayability. Certainly without the expansions this one will not amuse as long as any of the other games.

My recommendation is actually Puerto Rico, based on what you have described. I would then recommend Agricola after you have played Puerto Rico a few times and have mastered the mechanics. I still regularly play both games despite having played them hundreds of times. I very rarely play settlers and occasionally play dominion. Dominion's a game I play to fill in half an hour to an hour of time. YMMV.

Certainly if you do not wish to buy expansions the best choices are Puerto Rico or Agricola. Settlers becomes a lot more fun with the Seafarers expansion and Dominion really opens up as soon as you get at least one expansion.

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I enjoy getting downvoted for providing detailed answers to questions. Obviously someone is a fan of Settlers. –  Stephen Sep 23 '13 at 6:03
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Thanks, this is exactly what I needed. While I'm sorry for posting an offtopic question (which I realized after seeing the comments), I did get the answer I was looking for, so thank you. I got three more recommendations from friends for Puerto Rico and I got it today. Seems like I made the right choice. –  user2352164 Sep 23 '13 at 11:42
    
Have fun and don't forget to post any questions on this site :-) –  Stephen Sep 23 '13 at 22:46
    
@Stephen, I suspect you got your downvote for encouraging bad questions. B&CG doesn't handle game-recommendation questions, so answering them is poor form: it means that you can ask game-recommendation questions here and get good answers, despite the policy. The meta is here: meta.boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/663/… –  Paul Marshall Sep 24 '13 at 2:58

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