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Go Go is an ancient game; at least 2500 years old, and possibly as old as 4500 or more. Originally from China, it is now most popular, and professionally played, in China, Japan, and Korea, though there are strong and growing amateur communities in Europe and the Americas. Go is a simple, pure abstract strategy game, with no element of luck or hidden ...
Chess Is an obvious and longstanding game of skill alone.
Arkham Horror is almost completely cooperative. It is the players against a Great Old One(GOO) of Cthulhu mythos. Players need to work together to arm themselves and find clues that will enable them to seal gates that open from other realms. There is a large number of expansions, but the basic game is very enjoyable. Generally, the expansions make the ...
Forbidden Island is another cooperative game created by the same guy that made Pandemic. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/65244/forbidden-island
BoardGameGeek can be a great resource, but it can be a bit hard to figure out where everything is. First, you can search for games by name, if you know what game you're looking for. Or you can use the "Browse" feature to find games by category or mechanic. Once you've found a game, you find yourself on a page that's stuffed full of information, somewhat ...
My wife and I played and loved Shadows Over Camelot for years before Pandemic existed. There are many cooperative games around now, and some are on my radar: Space Alert looks cool and I love a couple of the designer's other games Defenders of the Realm looks like it takes the lessons learned in co-op gaming and goes back to my beloved fantasy theme, too
I'm a big fan of Carcassonne -- the game is better with more people, but you can certainly play it with two people, and since it's a tile-laying game, the board will always be different. In my opinion, the game bogs down with expansions, but the core set (with or without the River Expansion), is a lot of fun.
Magic - The Gathering This simple looking card game transformed the industry quickly leading to huge tournaments culminating in a World Championship. It has been going strong for over 15 years and shows no sign of stopping. Strategies mutate and change with every release, but the good players are able to adapt and continue to remain strong. Tournaments: ...
Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne are the two games that we generally use. We have been so successful with Ticket to Ride Europe that not only have friends bought the game but they have taught it to friends of friends who have also gone and bought the game.
The Lord of the Rings is a cooperative board game that I like. The one thing to watch out for (as with many other cooperative games) is that a few enthusiasts take over the whole running of the game, and others just passively do as they are told. It has an extension that converts it to a one-against-many game, Lord of the Rings: Sauron. So don't get that ...
Dominion The base set for Dominion is really simple to teach. I find that non-gamers are able to grok the rules a bit easier than gamers. The mechanics are simple although I think people can get hung up on the discarding your entire hand at the end of your turn. It's pretty easy to see the strategic options, not very easy to get it working in your favor.
Blokus A personal favourite, You could try it online here.
I think Perudo (Liar's Dice) would work great in a bar. You need 5 dice and a cup per person, the rules are easy but the game is hard, there's a lot of interaction, and playing dice and drinking traditionally go together very well. The related game Skull can be played with bar coasters and a pen, and is one of the better games for drunk people.
Stratego Stratego may seem like a slightly strange choice since each game involves a completely a hidden setup, but it's a setup entirely devised by the opponent with distinct strategies, counter-strategies and bluffs available. If there's an element of luck it's in trying to guess your opponent's approach to a setup, but there are no dice rolls for combat ...
The two biggest expansions for Catan are Seafarers of Catan and Catan: Cities and Knights. I previously asked the question, "How is gameplay improved in the Cities & Knights Expansion?" recently before buying it myself. I would check out the answers there for some other opinions on that expansion. There is also a third expansion, Catan: Traders & ...
Agricola has a supported one player option. I find it doesn't have the same feel. It's more of a puzzle, but it is still very enjoyable.
Legendary Uno. Its card game. Description from BGG: Players race to empty their hands and catch opposing players with cards left in theirs, which score points. In turns, players attempt to play a card by matching its color, number, or word to the topmost card on the discard pile. If unable to play, players draw a card from the draw pile, ...
Dominion is a great game for lunch. It's the only strategy game I can think of with a playtime under a half hour. We can often get through two rounds during lunch at my office.
There are of course different definitions of light strategy games, so I will just mention some games, which I have introduced to nongamers in parties, and which have been interesting both for them as well as more experienced gamers (in random order). Games which can be explained in 5 min Small pure card games: Saboteur: 3-10 players, 30 min 6 Nimmt! or ...
Scrabble The game mechanics are very simple, but the game is far from simple. Unlike a game like Magic the Gathering, Scrabble achieves it's depth of near infinite possibilities with a simple board and a 100 wooden tiles. Each play on the board has an immediate effect on what future possible actions players can take. Scrabble has it's own dictionary, ...
I would suggest Agricola. A deep, strategic game, which excels as a two player contest. There is plenty of interaction in blocking your opponents moves, plus the card sets ensure no two games are exactly the same. Should make for some good cut and thrust gaming fun!
Zack Hiwiller's Dominion Card Randomizer is nice. It works fine on laptops and mobile devices, is free, has card images, and has some nice options. http://www.hiwiller.com/dominion/ Downside: requires internet connection.
You can look for games with single-player mode. There are few realy good games with this. One of the best game - Agricola has single player game. Race for the Galaxy with an expansion "The Gathering Storm" has also single player mode. Pandemic - designed for 2-5 players, but you still can play alone (because it its cooperative game).
There are many games with a "traitor" or "uninformed majority" type mechanics. In some of them, such as Mafia and Are You The Traitor?, that is the main point of the game; you are trying to discover each person's role, with not much else on top of that. In others, it's a more incidental feature, usually involving the win conditions for each player or team, ...
Ticket to ride is good balance to play with children and parents. Only from 8 though.
It depends on exactly what type of social interaction you're looking for. There is a very broad category of games known as "party games" which loosely meets your definition. Party games tend to favor social interaction over luck and strategy (in many cases, no equipment at all), tend to require less per-player equipment, and tend to be flexible in the number ...
Besides a few mentioned above I like Dominion as a two player game as well as Ascension (so far).
Diplomacy This has all of these things - a distinctive culture, played in tournaments, ranking systems, extensive opening and endgame analysis with named opening patterns. There is also a still-extant play-by-mail culture, PBEM through the Judges and a string of on-line play sites It was first published in 1958, so it's now 50 years old. There are a ...
Settlers of Catan For adults, I would suggest Settlers of Catan, since it's a much better game to me and a lot more fun to play. If your willing to play a full game of Monopoly, then Catan is a prefect fit since it's actually shorter. There's also a much more nuanced trade mechanic, and a board to stack our your share of. I see it as a great chance to ...
Spades. I think Spades is the easiest starting point, because is (1) easy and (2) the point is winning tricks, making it more consistent with the logic of other games. IMHO, spades shares more in common with the other games. Hearts has the reverse logic -- you are generally trying to LOSE tricks, not win them. If you start with spades, you spend your ...
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