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I find myself always purchasing games that have similar game mechanics. I prefer worker-placement games, and railroad tycoon type games. All of these games borrow from each other in terms of how the game plays. I find this type of game suits my strategic style of play.

I now want to introduce something new to my gaming group, and want to know what type of game mechanics I am really missing out on, and why they add to the overall experience of the game.

What I want to know is what other type of game mechanics make a game more interesting to play, increase the strategic element and really make the game what it is. The type of thing I am after is similar comments to a conversation at my last gaming meeting, which was

I much prefer Age of Steam to Railroad Tycoon, because of the way the resources are replenished. Where as Railroad Tycoon can dry up a city's resource quite quickly.

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8 Answers 8

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The resource track in Power Grid leads to some interesting decisions. If you haven't played it, the resource track has costs increasing left-to-right while the resources are replenished from right-to-left. This has a few interesting effects:

  • Resources in demand tend to cost more.
  • You can get resources on the cheap if you have a power plant type no one else is using.
  • You can hoard resources (up to a point) to make them more costly for everyone else.

Players have to make tough choices, especially since turn order is so important in Power Grid. The player in the lead goes last when buying resources. So a player can forego easy victory points in the short term to set up better prices for himself. It adds another dimension to the decision-making process, and those decisions matter.

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I thoroughly enjoy games that force players to interact with each other. If players have to directly interact with each other in order to advance in the game, I find that rather fun. It lets you get to know your friends better, and encourages them to talk.

I enjoy resource trading in games likes Settlers of Catan immensely. While there are only a few rules governing how players trade, these interactions set the tone of the game. If you can cut a deal that helps you get the resources you need, this really helps you advance towards the game. However, how willing people are to trade with you is directly affected by how you've treated them in the past, this game and others, and what your offering them in return.

I've also enjoyed how Citadels requires you to anticipate what other players think your doing. Citadels requires you to choose characters that helps you with a special ability each around. In Citadels, if your predictable in how you chose your character, you become an easy target to be either assassinated or robbed. I find the decisions and thought process I go through to choose a character, and the interactions that develop very rewarding.

There are downsides to games with a lot of social interactions. I have one friend who is ruthless in Citadels and tends to cause one or more of the players to gang up on him during the course of the game. A number of us prefer not to sit next to him since this gives him a leg up on guess what character you've chosen. This tension though, makes the game more interesting to me. I've also noticed he rarely wins in Citadels.

There are games though, like Apples to Apples, that consist mostly of social interaction. I enjoy those also, but find they can get a little boring after a while.

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I like the way Tigris and Euphrates allows a user to sabotage someone's game plan. In games like Brass, I have been in situations where a player has built a link that has blocked me off from building, due to the way coal must be shipped to the location. Therefore, If I was able to blow up the rail link, and build over it, I think this would add an extra level of strategy, as a play could never become certain of their super position.

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A great element of Brass is that a Player gets two actions per turn, and the turn order changes based on the amount of money that is spent per round (the lowest amount spent is the first to go next). This allows a player to have upto 4 actions in a row, which makes hiding one's strategy quite effective.

This mechanic keep players on their toes because it does not expose someone's strategy and makes it more difficult to defend against. This forces players to be more diverse in their own play.

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I particularly like the strategy cards from Twilight Imperium. At the beginning of a round, everyone chooses a strategy card that gives each player a different special ability for that round. On your turn, one of your options is to activate your special ability. Most cards also come with a secondary ability that the other players can execute at that time. Since the drawing order varies from round to round, it's an important strategic element to be able to choose the strategy card you want. In a large game, odds are you won't be drawing first much of the time, so you'll need to make the best of what's available on your turn.

Another game with a similar mechanic (though I've not played it) is Puerto Rico.

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Also Puerto Rico's little cousin San Juan. And yes, +1 for Twilight Imperium's strategy approach. –  Tynam Nov 18 '10 at 0:23

The game of Targui has a nice way to divide the turns:

  1. There are 5 turn cards for each player.
  2. A dice is thrown, if the result is 1-5 shuffle that amount of turn cards. On a 6 only one card is shuffled.
  3. If your color is drawn, you can have your turn. On a 6 everybody has 2 turns in a row.

Each player controls a tribe of desert people. The board consists of 7 x 7 tiles. Each having their own proberties. Your goal is to have the most resource points in the end.

You can use your camels to occupy territory and you can fight with each other.

Each stack of turn cards has an event card added. Which can be benificial or sometimes even disastrous.

Because you never know when its your turn, you need to be prepared for almost anything. (the other player can have 3 or more turns before you can act).

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I would suggest you try something with auctions or haggling. They provide immediate player interaction, but they also have strategic depth. (How much is this worth to me? How much is it worth to you?) One of the most popular games that I've played using auctions is Medici. A paper and pencil game that distills auctions and stock markets to their essence is Eric Solomon's Middleman. One of my personal favourites is Basari, and it's unusual in that I think it's best for three players.

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I might recommend Carcassonne - it has a slightly different take on builder placement, while relying primarily on tile placement. The game board itself will be different every time, as you're drawing and placing random tiles every turn. Play itself goes quickly after your first playthrough, and there are several different strategies toward victory.

With your personal preference for builder placement games, this seems like a nice way to learn a tile placement game while still retaining a little bit of that mechanic.

Whatever you decided to do, have fun! And good luck :)

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