It has relatively simple rules but very solid strategy (rewards logic and duplicity). The games are short, so you never feel "stuck" on a long game and when you're a beginner, you can rapidly absorb new lessons and strategies and apply them to the next round. The replay value is tremendous.
I have observed/heard about the game not "clicking" for some players the first few times. You _can_ reason out substantial amounts of information by sharing claims and thinking hard about what you personally know, and you _can_ tactically disrupt other people. I think if you have a crowd of new people, it helps to have an experienced player sit out one round and emcee, encouraging certain lines of thought and discouraging others. One of my friends said he only really "got" it after the third round, when he saw me spin a story from start to finish so that I could pin a wolf on someone when I in fact was a wolf.
I also love Dominion, which others have mentioned. (That's my personal favorite; Werewolf is my friend group-favorite.) It is in a very different genre, but it also has fast-cycling games, deep strategy vs. simple rules, and huge replay value, which are three aspects of board games that I really value.
Some reasons ONUW is awesome:
- Each game can be completed in 5-10 minutes.
- Supports a very large amount of players. We've had 20+ players without any issues (with the expansion pack).
- As mentioned above, replay value is high. I still encounter new situations all the time.
- No need to have an individual sit out as an emcee due to an awesome mobile app that leads the round.
- Most importantly, does not seem to lead to interpersonal conflict the way Mafia tends to. Most likely due to shorts rounds and the fact that there's enough information to go off rather than pure speculation.
These factors prevent people from identifying too heavily with one team or the other, and that issue, for me, is at the heart of why there is less conflict in this game than other Mafia-style games. Right before getting into ONUW we had played The Resistance a bit, a similar game which had some fun moments, but in which we found the conflict potential to be high. Some people would be just dug in on one view, in direct conflict with others, throughout almost the whole game.
We play this all the time, but it's a bit ugly for people who get out on the first night.
I talk trash most of the time so some people just kill me on the first round because they want their peace :D
In that case, yes much better:
- Everyone is involved start to finish, and a free phone app serves as the emcee.
- People receive cards with (usually) unique roles that furnish them some special information in their own way. I think some Mafia variants have minor special roles, but the makers of ONUW really did a good job thinking of creative ones.
- Many roles involve moving cards around at night, so when you wake up you usually don't know for sure whether you're still the role you thought you were, or whether a card you saw at night is still where it was when you saw it.
This seems to be Mafia with cards.
Terra Mystica and Tzolk'in are both low randomness worker placement game that require long term planning and fun mechanics.
If war-games are more your speed, Diplomacy and Twilight Imperium 3rd Ed are some of the best in class. Both take all day (or more if you play Diplomacy by mail). I personally like Exocus: Proxima Centauri a lot in this genre.
The enemy's key point is yours
Beware of going back to patch up
Don't chase what you can't kill
Check escape routes first
Big dragons never die
Give your opponent what they want
Don't follow proverbs blindly
- Splendor another easy to teach game. 2-4 players its quick to play, around 20 minutes a game.
- Roll for the Galaxy. A much more complicated game although probably medium in complexity as far as the board game spectrum goes. You get to roll lots of dice.
- Dead of Winter. A story based secret information game. Everyone has a secret goal, and someone might be a traitor trying to sabotage the colony. Despite this you have to work as a team to try and survive the zombie apocalypse.
Betrayal at House on the Hill: cooperative until it isn't, with a traitor arising halfway through the game. Many novel "haunt" scenarios for replay value.
Coup: Bluffing game, where you have a couple of hidden "role" cards, each role card has some abilities, but you can use the abilities of any role as a bluff, if another player doesn't call you on it.
Netrunner (note, not the new remake, the old out-of-print version): CCG with asymmetric sides, the "runner" trying to break in and the "corporation" trying to defend and advance their agenda.
Ascension: deckbuilding game with a large variety of cards. There are only 1-3 of any given card in the deck; every game tends to turn out differently, and any strategy has to adapt to the available cards.
Dixit: Interesting exercise in description, because you have to hint at the image on your card without being spot-on, so that some but not all players get it. Helps to know the other players.
And if you don't already watch Tabletop, I recommend it: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4F80C7D2DC8D9B6C . (Note: that playlist is sorted in reverse order, for some reason; start at the bottom.)
That's in addition to various tabletop RPGs, which I find even more fun when we can get a group together for them.
An interesting and much more challenging variation for experienced Hanabi players is to disallow people from saying a number or color. You point to a set of cards in another player's hand and that's it. Those cards share some attribute, and all the other cards in the hand don't have that attribute, whatever it is.
Interesting! That breaks so many common reasoning rules, especially if you're playing multicolor. I can see how that would add a huge amount of challenge.
I'd be interested to see some of the reasoning based on that variant.
- Concordia https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/124361/concordia
(this last one is more of a lighthearted party game, but still great fun)
What I like about it the most is that instead of cities getting a second of a resource, they get a new type of resource that is used to "level up" three categories. These categories have three purposes: an opportunity for a couple victory points for each category, increases the chance of getting the new type of development card, and the most interesting purpose is that it gives you a superpower at level 3. One superpower allows you to power up knights and I can't remember another, but the last allows you to get a resource of your choice whenever you get unlucky on the die roll and don't get a resource. Easily the least fun part of Catan is when the die rolls make it so that you don't get anything, so I love this power that offsets it.
It also adds the concept of knights and barbarians. Knights are a new thing to build, and they need a grain to activate. (There's also a wall that increases the number of cards that can be in your hand before the robber affects it so the expansion adds three new things to use resources for). Barbarians attack every now and then, and the number of active knights will determine whether you win or lose. A loss means that the people with the lowest number of active knights get a city destroyed, while a win means the people with the highest number of active knights either gets a victory point (if one person) or a card (if more than one person tied). Active knights can also be used to move the robber or move or even eliminate another knight in very particular situations.
To add some detail: you roll a second die at the beginning of your turn. There's a half chance the barbarians move closer to attack, and the other three possibilities correspond to the three categories of the new type of resource and link each one with a development card. There are now three types of development cards that have different slants of capabilities. Your level in each category goes from level 1-5. Level 1 grants a development card if the first die is a 1 or 2 and the second die corresponds to the category, level 2 grants a card if the first die is a 1, 2, or 3, and so on.
The last detail is that the first person to level 4 in a category gains a couple victory points and is granted immunity from pirates on a city, but the first person to level 5 in that category can steal it for the rest of the game.
That's pretty much it, as you can see it really is a completely different game from the original.
Through the Ages
Lords of Waterdeep
But I've also enjoyed playing Puerto Rico, Dominion, Race to the Galaxy, among others.
Ticket to Ride is great with my family, because of the player interaction.
The re-release of Elfenland just came out "Elfenroads" is a great buy. http://riograndegames.com/Game/1295-Elfenroads
There are others, but I'll let others pick their favorites.
Not a strategy game, but Concept has hit the table a lot for us with lots of different types if people.
1) Heavy Strategy: Eclipse and Terra Mystica (tie)
2) Strategy Cardgame: Race for the Galaxy & expansions
3) Abstract: Arimaa. Runner up: tie between Go and Hive.
4) Real-Time Co-op: Damage Report. Runner up: Space Alert
5) Co-Op: Mysterium
6) Wargame: War of the Ring. Runner up: Twilight Struggle
7) CCG or LCG: Lord of the Rings LCG
8) Party Game: Time's Up Title Recall Runner up: Concept
9) Reaction time: Jungle Speed.
10) Most disliked game: Catan or any spinoff thereof
11) Social Deduction: Two Rooms and a Boom
It's a good metaphor for life. You have to weigh up probabilities and likely outcomes, know when to take a risk and when to play safe. Sometimes the other player plays better than you, sometimes worse, and sometimes the dice just come along and kick your arse.
Go, Scrabble, chess... What modern games are like this?
Or, silly games where losing doesn't matter, it's fun anyway. My current favourites are Space Alert and Galaxy Trucker.
After that, Scrabble and Puerto Rico.
Others: Settlers of Catan, Ticket to ride, Dominion, Kingdom Builder, Civilization
1) Cosmic Encounter. Plays 3-8 (best with 4-6), about 90 minutes. It's a negotiation game where each person has an asymmetric way they alone can break the rules. Cosmic is a strange game where the entire game takes place off the table, but you use the table to keep track of what's happening in the game. The first one or two times you play, you probably won't understand how deep and subtle the game is, but stick with it. (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/39463/cosmic-encounter)
2) Memoir '44. 2 Player, as written plays in about 30 minutes, but typically we switch sides between rounds, so 60 minutes. Light WWII war game. Lots of expansions (Russians, Japanese, British armies), and lots of ways to play (expansions allow up to 8 players). This game is just so much fun if you dig the WWII theme. (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/10630/memoir-44)
3) Kemet. 3-5 players, about 90-120 minutes (depending on player count). "Dudes on a map" war game with excellent fighting mechanics. Very well balanced, with every player being able to attack all other players. Fun little monsters you can buy in the game. (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/127023/kemet)
4) Railways of the World. 2-6 players (depending on the map), 60-120 minutes (depending on the map). Nice railway game. Simple rules (about 10 minutes to explain), but just a great game. (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/17133/railways-world)
5) Star Wars Rebellion. 2 players, 90 minutes to 270. Thematic Star Wars game. Imperial player tries to find the rebel base, while the rebels just need to last long enough to have their cause take hold in the galaxy. Incredibly well balanced, despite the asymmetry between the players. (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/187645/star-wars-rebelli...)
6) Party games: Love Letter, Codenames, Wits & Wagers, Can't Stop. All are great games. One game, For Sale, deserves special mention because it explains so fast, but has such depth.
7) Eclipse. 2-9 players (best with 3-5), takes about 45-60 min/player. 4X game where you explore the galaxy and try to accumulate the most points through science, research, economy, battles, negotiations, and exploration. You should buy the Rise of the Ancients expansion to fix a subtly broken part of the game dealing with missiles.
That's just off the top of my head. Last night I played Patchwork and Quadropolis. Patchwork might be a great game -- too early to tell, and Quadropolis is fun, and likely worth the money, but I don't think has the staying power of some others.
1) Shogun. Archetypical Risk-like game of moving soldiers and conquering provinces, but with a unique twist that makes it outstanding in my view: instead of dice, it uses a cube tower to generate randomness. The outcome of fights is based in the number of cubes from each player that come out of the tower. If you get bad luck in a battle (because your cubes stay inside) then the tower will be loaded in your favor for the next battles (those hidden cubes can come out at any moment). I love this because, although I think some randomness is good in strategic battle games to spice things up and so that the game doesn't turn a chess-like prediction game, I don't like the winner being dependent on luck. The tower introduces randomness, but guarantees that no one will be too lucky or unlucky, which is great. Combine with a setting in feudal Japan, complete with rice farming and starving populace revolving against you, and you get an amazing game.
2) Imperial 2030. Another typical Risk-like game of moving soldiers and taking countries... except that it's not. You don't control the empires themselves, instead you are a banker that buys each empire's bonds. At a given point in the game, the banker that holds more bonds for a particular empire is the one controlling its politics. So maybe right now I control China, but I know that you have a lot of cash and are looking at Chinese bonds with greedy eyes, so I send the Chinese army on an unnecessarily painful military campaign to wither down its power in case you are going to control it in the next turn. This makes for awesome mechanics in a really strategic game. By the way, it doesn't have any random elements at all, so it's a good game if you are against that.
3) Galaxy Trucker. This game is great due to its sheer concept... first you use pieces from a scrapyard (competing for the pieces with the other players) to build a spaceship with its cannons, shields, cargo holds, etc. and then all of you have to fly them in a journey littered with space pirates, meteorites than can tear off pieces of your ship, merchant planets, smugglers and more. The feeling when one of your rival ships is tore in two by a meteorite is unbeatable.
4) Star Wars: Imperial Assault. When a friend of mine got this game, I thought "they have the Star Wars franchise so it will probably be a crappy game - they will sell anyway". But no. It's actually a very good tactics game with lots of choices, characters with very different styles, special abilities, and a set of rules that (albeit unspecified at times) go very well together.
5) Robo Rally. A classic from Richard Garfield, the guy that brought you MtG. OK, maybe this doesn't fit that much into "complex strategy", but it's also a game that hackers should like because it's about programming after all! You have to program your robot with randomly-dealt cards to try and survive pits, traps and the other robots' lasers. A huge strong point of this game is that the maps and missions are hugely customizable, supporting different sets of rules like races, capture the flag, deathmatch, and others that you can come up with. It supports up to 8 players, you can build different maps putting together map boards, and there are editors online to print your own map boards, so it's the ultimate customizable game. I think it's out of print but a new edition has been announced, although it only supports 6 players sadly.
6) Carcassone. One of the best known modern board games, together with Catan. But while Catan is IMHO too shallow and too random, featuring few meaningful decisions, in Carcassone every tile you place is a meaningful decision. The experience is very different in 2-player games (much more offensive) than in games with more players. Some expansions (the builder, the granary and pig, the mayor, the resources, etc.) really enhance the game although others are prescindible.
7) Discworld Ankh Morpork. A deception game: you have to work towards your goal and the other characters don't know what it is. You don't have to know Discworld to like it (one of my friends hasn't read any of the books and loves it). Drawback: unbalanced, it's easier to win with some characters than others. If you care much about that, it's probably not your game.
8) Goblins Inc. Similar mechanic to Galaxy Trucker (probably inspired on it), but with goblins that build robots of doom instead of spaceships, and with direct combat. Contrary to Galaxy Trucker, it's team-based (2v2) but it also gives you the possibility of being a traitor to your partner. Less flexible than Galaxy Trucker (this one only really works with 4 players) but loads of fun!
9) Power Grid. A classic game where you have to build a power network. Lots of strategy and decisions, although the beginning depends too much on player location and the endgame turns a bit too much into an arithmetic-fest counting to the last nickel IMO.
10) Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space. A quite original board game in that it doesn't have a board, the board is in each players' head. Some players are humans and others are aliens, but they can't see where each other is, except with certain clues (people making noise) and items. The humans must escape the aliens. It's a lot of fun and it involves both abstract thought and psychology/bluffing/etc. The drawback is that some maps and situations can be unbalanced, especially if you play with the stock rules (a door to exit the ship can randomly work or not) a player can lose very unfairly. It should be pretty easy to customize the rules though.
Also go is awesome, but I don't think it's the kind of game you were looking for advice about (and it's difficult to compare to the others as it's on an entirely different category).