Often one will want to play with less skilled players, who are there to be social.

This will make a game like Settlers a bit boring for them, as they're likely to lose and have to play the whole game out.

Are there any games that have good handicapping dynamics? I guess there are home cooked rules you can add to handicap the higher skills players (for example in Settlers - you must put your first settlements on the coast, or your total number dots must be less than 10), but for this question lets focus on games that have handicaps in the original rules.


Nations is a board game that has a high ranking on BoardGameGeek (currently ranked 7.97 out of 10 and ranked as the 39th favorite board game) that has a handicap system built in. As part of the initial setup each player selects the difficulty level they wish to play by placing a player disk of their color on the desired level. This difficulty level determines how many resources of a single type get added to their individual resource pool as part of the Maintenance Phase.

The resources that can be added include: Food, Stone or Gold; which are used throughout the game to take various actions and pay for upkeep. Resources are in short supply so by modifying the number of resources added you can have a significant effect on the difficulty between players.

Nations supports 4 different levels of difficulty ranging from Chieftain, Prince, King and Emperor. At the Chieftan level, you may add 4 resources of any one type at the start of each round; whereas Prince provides 3, King 2, and Emperor 1. It is recommended that new players start the game at Prince level. With the games lasting 8 rounds, this can be a difference of receiving up to 32 resources at Chieftan to a maximum of 8 resources at Emperor. I say "up to" and "max" because during the Maintenance Phase when you experience Growth (which is the stage at which you can add resources), you actually have a choice to add more resources or population. Population comes at a cost of increased food demands or stability, which are additional concepts of the game.

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