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Popular Economic Board Games (Category)

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TOP 10 ECONOMIC BOARD GAMES (https://www.rathskellers.com/top-10-economic-board-games/) [Lords of Vegas, Stockpile, Power Grid, Panic on Wall Street!, Splendor, Terraforming Mars, Acquire, Mint Works, Puerto Rico, Millennium Blades]Like| 14 comments | [+]
Game Design1775: Rebellion (Economic and Garrison Variant) [1775: Rebellion]Like| 13 comments | [+]
Economic Farming Game Like| 23 comments | [+]
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Only thing I played was #Coffee Traders on TTS. It was my first time playing it and I managed to win. Great game, very balanced and smooth at 4 players. It can be a very AP prone game, but we managed to keep things moving. Area control, player interaction. Tight economics. This has been polished really well. I'm glad I preordered this. 

I've gotten a mix of new and old games this month (some reviews, some purchases, some gifts):

#The Shores of Tripoli -- two player relatively intro CDG game with a historical basis?  I'm in! 

#Whistle Stop -- okay, admission time -- I actually thought I had ordered Whistle Mountain. But that's okay, I've yet to play Whistle Stop and I like lighter train games anyway!

#Carpe Diem -- Alea / Ravensburger asked me to cover the brand new (unofficially 3d) edition with the beautiful new cover and vibrant tiles. No need to ask me twice, I like Feld games and had so much trouble getting past the blase tiles that came in the first edition. Super excited to play this

#MonsDRAWsity -- holy cow! This is easily my Party Game of the Year! Okay, that's not that tough, since party games were pretty tough to play. But it wouldn't matter, because it would be hard to find a game that fits this category better and consistently delivers the laughs and the fun. Must play at a convention!

#Cubitos -- John D Clair just keeps comin' on with unique style games twisting familiar mechanics. Part race game, part bag building dice game (without the bag) and part engine builder. Played this a bunch with my wife already and she loves it. 

#Wingspan: Oceania Expansion -- haven't played this yet, but my wife loves Wingspan and we played the previous expansion right away so it won't be long before we get this to the table. 

Last but not least, #Spike -- My second copy. I loved this light Ticket To Ride+ train route game that has some fun economic elements. I gave my previous copy away to a family that really enjoyed it and missed it in my collection, so I got another one from R&R! 

This is a lighter list than 2019 but much more mangeable. Besides, I've got a half dozen or more still left to play on the Shelf of Opportunity. 

Merry Christmas to everyone at the Atlas and I hope you all have a bright 2021!

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

 

One of my all time favourite games is #Archipelago, it embodies so many of my favourite aspects of games: negotiation, hidden information, semi-cooperative play it is a game that has the best, most-petty, hilarious discussions and at its best I've rarely enjoyed sitting at a table moving meeples around so much.

However, I do think that the game is very much one of those that gets significantly better the more you play it with the same group and one that makes it easyfor people to bounce off of hard. I'll explain: when the game is first set out and the rules taught it appears very much to be a Euro/4X game. You gather resources, get upgrades, hire (or brith) new meeples, explore new sections of archipelago and build an empire. If you play it like a straight Euro game it isn't great: everything is slow and resource gathering is inefficent/can feel impossible, you don't have enough actions and the traitor (although they are definitely the 'good' or at least 'best' player morally speaking) seemingly has the easiest time rallying the native peoples to overthrow their colonial oppressors and bring the game to a premature end. (On a side-, but important, note, the other glaring flaw of this game is that it very much puts the players in the role of the bad guys casually exploiting an island and its people, and while within my group of friends we are pretty aware of this and use it to spark discuss and comment on how awful we are I can absolutely see this being a deal-braker for some and I wouldn't blame them in the slightest.)

Rant over, the problem with the way the game presents itself is that it is in reality a negotiation and deal-making game much more that it is a Euro-game. The way we have found it plays best, is when everyone is cutting deals and trading with each other while trying to get an edge. The semi-cooperative aspect really comes to life when you are negotiating who is going to use their hard earned resources to deal with the current crisis and how much you are going to pay them for it. The engine building side takes off when players are trading freely, as this is a free action, and so instead of having to use all your actions to collect 1 stone, 2 cows and 2 wood, you instead use one action to collect 8 pineapples and then trade them to get everything you need from other players. When you are trying to work out who is the 'traitor' and then working together (while of course trying not to make any real sacrifices yourself) to economically stifle that player and taking over their 'territory' (no one really owns anything in the game which is amazing) to limit their influence that is is when the game takes off and is a non-stop joy. However, the game doesn't mudge you to do these things at all, it is very much a sandbox, and while I love that aspect in many ways I can see how other people might try it once, not like it and then never bother again. So while I could say that they are just 'playing it wrong' and blame other players instead of the game. I think it is a legitimate critiscm of the game that it hasn't made how it wants to played clear, either mechanically or otherwise, and as such has made itself less accessible than it could have been. 

However, I adore this game, and whenever I teach it I make a point of highlighting these aspects. It still usually takes people at least until the second game to really grasp what makes the game tick, but once they do I've had so many people fall in love with it.

As I type this I am switching back and forth on my BGG ratings for comparison:

#Scythe - this didn't always get 10/10 but time has pushed it up the chart for me.  I used to only give a 10/10 if a game was perfect and I felt there was no design flaw.  I have since softened that approach.  Scythe is a great game.  Its sprawling area control style is not the type of game I would normally pursue and yet Stonemaier has woven together a phenomenally interconnected menagerie of mechanics with high-quality components. 

#Heaven & Ale - Great euro-style game that is well designed with thematic components and remains a top selection in my game collection.  It doesn't hurt that I enjoy brewing beer and so the theme sits well with me too.  This has scene quite a few game nights and has not failed to please each time.

#Gloomhaven - I don't want to say too much that has already been said of this game.  Childers nailed it with this one.  I am not the biggest fan of high fantasy as a theme (one reason I don't have #Pendulum ) but Isaac included what I would term as 'lore' to backbone the game and in the vein of Tolkien has created a masterpiece of story and game mechanics.  

#Wingspan - This is a game I don't want to give 10/10 as I generally feel R&D value is a little high.  That being said, the art, the flow of play, the theme, the boards and components, the expansions, and the number of times this gets played at my house makes it perfect for us.

#Clans of Caledonia - I didn't think I'd like this as much as I did until I played it.  I don't play a ton of economic management games but this is very well designed, has great historically connected Scottish clans, solid components, and well craft gameplay, and a surprisingly small footprint for a game with quite a bit going on.

#Viticulture: Essential Edition - is my last 10/10 game that I love to play, has great game flow, and the theme is engaging and fun throughout the game.  I enjoy the 5-6 player games most and try to get this to the table whenever I can.

Runner ups and possible future 10/10:

#Maracaibo - needs more play but already ranks at 9.75 and a 4 positive 4 player experience would push it to the top.  This is another game I thought would be fun but not this good.  

#Rococo: Deluxe Edition - again, need more plays and would like to see a 5 player game at the table.  My first impressions are quite good though and I love playing this game. 

I don't know that that many economic games teach hard work or values as they are generally rewarding you for manipulating the system or being cutthroat. 

I wonder if something like #Agricola (Revised Edition)#Agricola Family Edition might be more useful as you have to feed your workers: i.e. you are incentivised to care for people.

If you have a larger group of people, something like #Captain Sonar is a great game to teach communication. #XCOM: The Board Game or #Space Alert do similarly with a smaller number. Space alert is also hilarious and relatively simple although there is a fair amount to hold in your head 

I'd say #Catan still holds up as one of the best trading games, you have to negotiate and determine the relative value of resources depending on the board state.

 

Hmm, well I feel that any game that has an economic element to it (i.e. needing to pay for things with resources) can teach some good lessons along those lines in an abstracted way. He can learn how to "budget" with his resources, save up for more expensive things, learn about opportunity cost, etc. Even something like #Wingspan could teach this. Obviously there are plenty of Euro games that do this with more depth, but a game like Wingspan is quite approachable for most players, and shouldn't be an issue for a 10 year old. I'm sure more people can chime in with games that can do similar things.

One thing that sticks out to me, like a sore thumb, is that #Power Grid is still in the 40's for each of these three sites. For an old game, 2004, I am very pleased at how it has held up over all these years. Each list has a few older games above it, but I think this is the oldest game that is this high on all the lists. Anywho..... If you haven't played it you should. It's a great economic game, from a fascinating designer. Some don't like the rubber banding in it, but I find that a feature instead of a bug.

Expansion #1

Oath: Chronicles of Invaders & Export

  • What this would do would be to add scenarios where either, you are faced with the threat of outside Invaders as well as trying to take over the throne/retain the throne.  You could be faced with a choice between allying with the invaders (but losing access to favor) or working against them.  I'm also thinking that perhaps there could be one suit that aligns with the Invaders and those suited cards can only work with them and not the Empire (Chancellor, Citizens, or Exiles that don't align with Invaders)

  • Scenarios with a strong focus on the economics of trade... where you may battle but that would be less likely because you want to focus on being the most financially lucrative “company” in the Empire

  • Perhaps this could include some kind of privateer Campaign/War action, and would need some kind of smuggler action

Got a good variety of plays in this week!

  • #Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale:(physical, solo): This time with coloured pencils.  :)  This is one of my favourite roll and write games and I reviewed it recently...err, I can't seem to find the review on the site. , was it that bad? ;)
  • #AuZtralia (physical, solo): This is a quirky Martin Wallace games with a mix of economics, combat, Australia, and Cthulu!  I don't have anything else quite like it in my collection.  See my review here: R0land's Rambling Reviews: Auztralia | Board Game Atlas
  • #Tales of the Arabian Nights (TTS, Multiplayer): First time playing this game.  It's more or less a story generating engine loosely in game form but it was quite enjoyable for an evening.  I was a bit tired so it was a nice and relaxing game to play.
  • #Welcome to... (Board Game Arena, Multiplayer): Got two games in.  This one is a fun roll & write game.  It's a bit more straightforward than Cartographers, which I prefer, but it's still quite fun and a quick filler.
  • #Marvel Champions: The Card Game (x2) (TTS, Multiplayer): Got my game group to give this one a shot online.  Imported my deck in to the TTS mod for that authentic feel.  It was nice to get that multiplayer synergy going.  Solo is still fun, albeit it a bit swingy, and it's like having 2 really different games in one package.  I also reviewed this one here: R0land's Rambling Reviews: Marvel Champions | Board Game Atlas  (I promise that's the last one!)
  • #Gaia Project (x2) (Physical, solo): Got a great deal on it and it arrived on Friday.  Two solo games so far.  Haven't won either but I really like the system they are using for solo.  Now I need to spend some time really thinking my moves out instead of the system.  Absolutely love this game!  The game is tight but there are tons of paths to victory.  The puzzle of expanding your empire, while having to work around other players, and scrounging up resources to do the things you need, all the while looking at the round and end game objectives is just sweet!  Especially when you pull a plan together that works really well.
  • #The Search for Planet X (TTS, Multiplayer): First game of this.  I'm not a huge deduction game fan but this one I really liked!  The puzzle of searching broad vs narrow, not spending too much time relative to other players, and trying to guess what they are going for is really nice! I might just have to pick this one up myself!
  • #Brass: Birmingham (Physical, solo): I used solo rules I found online.  The solo rules are really smooth so I think I'll be playing this one solo more often.  If you've never played Brass it's another game that I have never quite seen anything like it.  Players build and network among other players, often using the other players resources which helps out both parties.  It's often a question of being able to make the big plays at the right time and making sure that you get more out of the bargain when interacting with other players.  It's hard to explain if you haven't seen it in action but it's well worth checking out!

Good week!

Edit: Looks like the missing review was due to user error!

This is great and the "ideal player count and conditions" is what triggered me to do the same with my list with those two ideals in mind.  Your process and format are fantastic!  As I read through the games we've both played I note that we have similar thoughts which drive me to look at the games I haven't played on your list and seriously reconsider some games I've been so-so on.  Doing 20 games was tough but I hammered through and here's what I came up with:

20. #Marvel Champions: The Card Game - I thought this would be a little higher and to some degree it feels a little like #Firefly: The Game which I feel is a great game, tons of fun to play, but has a sort of "niche" spot on my shelf and tends to not rank among my top tier games.  Champions is still a great game, lots of fun, and very engaging.  In trying to consider why it gets bumped down I might argue that the length of play with the ideal play number (3-4?) is fairly long.  Even a two-player game takes a decent amount of time.

19. #Root - I finally got to play a three-player game the other night and the magic of this game came through for me.  I can see this moving up my list over time with more plays.  The "gotcha" aspect of this game is would keep it from being much higher as I tend to gravitate away from such games.  That Root makes this list at all is a testament to how much fun it is.

18. #Castles of Mad King Ludwig - has been in my collection for several years now and remains a staple.  4 players is the best to play with but the other player counts are well balanced and there is a solo option as well.  The market arrangement at the beginning of each round is one of my favorite aspects to this game.  

17. #Terraforming Mars - this was a tough one.  I enjoy this game and it remains an engaging experience when it hits the table.  The solo on this is quite fun as well.  It's been a while since I've played but still makes the top 20 with solid mechanics and gameplay.

16. #Everdell - this was a very very challenging game to place!  I'm not sure if it's the long setup or a slight untightness in gameplay that keep it from being higher.  I don't often have ideal options to play and there are a few "gotcha" cards that drive it down slightly.  The components and art are off the charts and this is one of the few heavier games my entire family will play.

15. #Viscounts of the West Kingdom - is a game that could rise as time goes on.  I taught Becky and she did well on her first game (beating me of course) and this might end up passing #Paladins of the West Kingdom at some point.  This is a deck-building game with lots of crunchy mechanics.

14. #Teotihuacan: City of Gods - was another challenge to rank as I have fewer plays but it has a very engaging rondel and the player interaction on the board is fun and the theme is well balanced with the mechanics.  This is a well-designed game.  The solo mode is quite nice.  If there is a knock on this game it might be the extra setup with dice when you have less than 4 players.  

13. #Tapestry - is very fun with one of the longest setups of any game I have (competing with Everdell) but the components and gameplay are creative and a five-player game is perhaps the most engaging.  I am looking forward to getting #Tapestry: Plans and Ploys and seeing how much that adds to the game.

12.  #PARKS - I wasn't 100% sure this would make the top 20 but with the #PARKS: Nightfall Expansion it moves up past other games and is a relaxing and enjoyable game that feels like a walk in the park.  The art is beautiful and the player interactions are easy going.

11. #Anachrony - Wow...I thought this would be higher but the setup probably shifts it down slightly.  Still, it has a fantastic time travel aspect, great engine building, and asynchronous player boards, make this an awesome game to play.  The solo mode is fun as well.  Takes up quite a bit of space.

10. #Paladins of the West Kingdom - gets the edge into the top 10.  Everything said was spot on.  The solo version is very well designed.

9. #Rococo: Deluxe Edition - I wasn't sure where this would land but it edged out Paladins as I liked the 5 player count and the art and gameplay I felt were the slightest bit better.  It too has a great automa.

8. #Maracaibo - I would not have thought this would have made my top 10 last year but I find myself wanting to play this more and I think a 4 player count with the campaign mode makes this a tantalizing game to play.  The colonialism theme could be a little edgy for some folks but doesn't standout as a focus and the theme is more set in an era than encouraging poor behaviors through gameplay.  

7. #Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island - this is another game I didn't think would make the top 10 but it is a great game with a very hard solo experience.  With four players this game is engaging and incredible to play and I think was years ahead of it's time when it came out with combined components, theme, and mechanics.

6. #Heaven & Ale I had to juggle to decide if this would beat out Robinson Crusoe and decided Heaven and Ale gets the edge.  Excellent euro-game that hits the mark on time, strategy, and intriguing player interaction around the rondel.

5. #Wingspan - is just great at 5 players and remains an amazing game with beautiful art, interactive gameplay, and still gets more plays than any other game in our home.  The solo mode is quite good as well.

4. #Clans of Caledonia - is a great economic resource management game with a nice tight game time and mechanics.  I could probably play this one over and over again using the different clans.

3. #Gloomhaven - such a great game and dollar for dollar you'll be hard-pressed to find a game that gives you more bang for your buck.  Solo or with others this is an amazing game.

2. #Viticulture: Essential Edition - this is a game that shines under the ideal conditions.  Worker-placement with some engine-building, this game is so much fun and the race to 25 points is engaging.

1. #Scythe - gets the top spot.  It checks all the boxes that a game can check for me and with 6-7 players is off the charts fun.  When I first bought this game I thought it would be moderately fun.  After multiple game nights now this game is the bar to beat.  

 

Games that might challenge for spots next year: #The Gallerist depending on set up and how brain-smashing the interlocking mechanics feel.  The solo might factor in as well. #Brass: Birmingham could sneak in there after a few game nights. #Raiders of Scythia feels like a game that could push for a 10-20 range spot. #Obsession feels like it has the best possibility to get into the top 10.  I can see it making a move this year for sure.

As an owner of both #Brass: Birmingham and #Clans of Caledonia I can see the similarities but feel that it mostly ends on their being economic games.  It's largely due to the interactions with other players that I think really sets them apart from one another.  Clans has some interaction but certainly doesn't require quite as much unless the game is at 4 players and the board starts to crowd slightly.

Brass requires so much monitoring of what other players are doing because of the inter-reliability on other players (unless someone takes a corner of the board).  Becky enjoys Clans but hated Brass for that very reason.  She doesn't like the need to retune her turn based on what others do every turn.  I enjoy the constant interaction and changing board myself and rate Brass a tad better than Clans (though not by much).

I thank each and every one of you who has responded thus far. But, as reminded me yesterday, I asked for your viewpoints without giving ya'll mine. So, I will do so here, now. But, before I give you my answer, I do want to give just a little bit of background.

I am a person who read a LOT growing up. In fact I averaged over well over 200 full length books a year until 2016, which was the year that my son was born. Something I always found very interesting, and even important, in books was to determine the worldview of the author. For me, analyzing the plot, the rising crescendo, the denouement, the whole fabric of the book is and was fascinating. I loved looking at the little literary devices that the author chose to use. But, for me, the most interesting part of reading was trying to determine what the worldview of the author was when he/she wrote the book. Reading does broaden one's horizon, in some very potentially helpful ways. And, it can change the way one thinks. I however have found that if one can identify the worldview, that does tend to armor you a bit against bad worldviews. I think most of us can do this to some point. For example, in my post I mentioned Mein Kampf which is Hitler's famous book wherein he lays out his views on all sorts of stuff. I will further mention The Communist Mannifesto the worldview in this book is super obvious. And, I think that most people with the bare modicum of logical thinking and historical knowledge won't have a problem reading it, they won't be swayed by it. They are aware of the worldview, usually before they even go and read it.

Why do I spend this time talking about books in a post about games? It is because I find many similarities between books and games. I do find that games are often, not always, expressions of a small part of the designers worldview. I think that it is a much more limited medium, but, in great games, there is often some sort of authorial intent behind the game. Again, this is a more limited medium than books, but, it is interesting to think of the authorial biases going into the design. If nothing else, even in the simplest games, there is interesting ideas of what the designer thinks of fun.

 

Why do I spend this time on this preamble? It is to explain why I really cannot seperate the art from the artist. I honestly don't believe that there is such a thing as a neutral medium. Any medium in which one communicates to another, be it books, or speech, or visual arts, or films, or etc.... is inherently subject to the biases and views of the communicator. Even if they are just "writing books for the money" the books that they write do give interesting messages about what they believe the masses want. The same goes for movies, or pictures, or, ..... Games.

 

So, if I cannot, or at the least find it very difficult to, seperate the art from the artist, what is my responsiblity in choosing where to spend my time and money when it comes to games?

  • I agree with that being informed is important. I think it is ok to call out bad stuff. I think it is even important to call out bad stuff. But, far more people pass judgment without understanding, or desiring to understand the context.
  • I will, almost necessarily, at a minimum, engage with people I disagree with in any medium I consume. This includes games. Of course, some games, were designed by people who's actions or worldviews whose views are actually repellent. I will  not find, I doubt that you will, find a game, or any other medium, whose creator(s) line up with your worldview.
  • G.K. Chesterton reminded us that "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." I do think that it is ok to draw lines and say that "everything on that side of the line, is something I won't touch." I don't think it is a problem to see cultural appropriation in Tascini's game, for example, and decide that you won't devote time or money to them. I, for example, have decided not to play games by Harry Wu A.K.A. John Bohrer because of the generally despicably way he has treated everybody in the game design industry who has worked with him. It is almost as if he really does see himself as adopting the worldview portrayed in one of his 18xx games.
  • Actively reject the bad. For instance, if you are playing a game by Eklund and you see racism, or you see praises for colonialism, reject it. Reject it personally, if you are playing with someone, point out the problem and dialog with it.
  • I think it disengenious to have huge problems with games that glorify colonial conquest, for example. But, then love a good fantastical or sci-fi 4x game. I recognize that there are some differences, in that in the colonial conquest one, real people were, and continue to be affected. That being said. Both games are representing and fostering the same worldview. I believe that you have a equal responsibilty to call out the problematic issues with the scifi game as with the historical game.

 

Do I think there is space for morally repungant games in my collection. I think, for me, yes. I cannot answer that question for you. I remember the first time that I toured the holocaust museum in Washington D.C. My overwhelming feeling was that real people, ordinary people, were the perpetrators of this atrocity. Ordinary people, conservative Christians, looked the other way during Hitler's rise to power, and they even enabled him, because he did institute effective economic reform. I was privilaged to speak with a survivor or Auschwitze one time. The stories he told were made even more chilling when I remembered that the horrors he saw and experienced were perpetrated by humans who were "merely doing their job." I do believe that this lesson is important. I don't think we are in some sort of special place in human history. I don't think that we are really at a higher plane than our slave owning ancestors, or our ancestors that enjoyed public executions, or our ancestors who viewed torture as the most expedient ways of arriving at the truth. I believe that when we lose sight of this fact. When we lose sight that we, as humans, are prone to ignore the suffering we are inflicting on others in the pursuit of our own good. For me, if I play a game that I violently disagree with, it does do a valuable service reminding me, that real humans perpetrated the problems I have with the games. We are often reminded that the slave trade was trade in humans. This is a lesson we dare not forget. But, neither dare we forget that this trade in humans was, in fact, perpetrated by humans. And, that, even people who rejected the slave trade, supported it by their tastes for commodities produced by slave trade. So, to the extant that games require me to examine my position, jostle my mind and remind me of a blind spot that I might have, than these games with problematic games can serve as a valuable part of my collection.

That being said, I would hesitate to play a game with problematic issues with, slavery for example, with someone whose life has personally been negatively affected by slavery or the after effects. I however would play it with someone who might be turning a blind eye to the after affects, and engage with them about it afterwards, to try to get them to see if they have some sort of complicity.

How about a geologist?  There could be some press-your-luck mechanics in searching for gems/rocks and a set collection aspect.  I could see an economic side too, you could sell gems to buy equipment to search more efficiently.

#Twilight Struggle - I love the Pax series of card-driven games. I also really enjoy tense 2P experiences. There's enough geopolitical flavour here that I feel I would enjoy this immensely. 

#Power Grid - I enjoy auction games, I am not very good at economic games. I would like to at least give this a shot once.

#Caylus - I have the 1303 version but I haven't played it yet. Being the OG worker placement game, and in true classic euro design can also be very interactive with the potential to make some mean moves. Would love to play this.