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Hamster's board games that people will actually play with you

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After my top 20 board game list I realised that there were a few of those that were a bit "specialised" so for this list I'm going to have a look at games that aren't sooooo geeky and you'll be able to get an average friend, wife, girlfriend, mother etc to play with you.

These aren't in any ranking order and I hope they're helpful.

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Hey! That's My Fish!

2-4 players


Boardgamegeek blurb: "In Hey, That's My Fish!, players want to catch as many fish as possible with their waddle of penguins. Each turn, a player moves one penguin in a straight line over hex-shaped ice tiles with 1, 2 or 3 fish on them. The player then collects the hex from where the penguin started its movement from the table, thereby creating a gap which penguins can't cross on future turns. When a penguin can't move, it's removed from play with its owner claiming the tile on which it stands. The player who collects the most fish wins."

I play this with the kids at work quite a lot and the girls get excited by the "PENGUIN GAME!" (pronounced more like "PINGIN GAEEMUUUU"). The game doesn't look scary - just arrange hexagons in an old school "Blockbusters" style hex grid. The tiles all have 1, 2 or 3 fish printed on them. You each receive some penguins in your colour (2-4 penguins depending on hoe many players) and then in turn you place them on a 1 fish tile.

Taking in turns you can move ONE penguin as far as you want in ONE direction before taking the tile the penguin was standing on at the start of the turn. In this way you're making gaps in the board that penguins CANNOT jump over. They also cannot jump over other penguins.

So the game looks cute and it's easy to teach and play but actually if you want to it can become EXTREMELY nasty. You're blocking people, screwing people over, cutting off opponents from huge swathes of the board and forcing them into tiny little corners. On your turn you always want to do at least two or three things but can only make one movement. It's a great nasty game hidden under a cutesy theme. Well worth getting.



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Primordial Soup

3-4 players


Boardgamegeek blurb: "The Primordial Soup is supposedly where all life came from. Players take charge of a tribe of amoeba as they struggle to survive. In order to help their quest, tribes will take various genetic advantages, which allow them to 'break' the rules of life. For instance, instead of going hungry, your amoeba could learn to attack foreign amoeba for food. Or perhaps your amoeba could be taught to need less food to survive. Either way, this is a very interesting take on the game of life."

Primordial Soup is a game about eating poop. Lots of different poop. Each person takes a differently coloured set of amoeba with the aim to get them onto the board, eat poop, evolve and get swept around in the....well the soup.

The evolutions give your little amoeba different powers - from being able to choose where to swim rather than being swept around, being able to eat less poop or not follow the poop eating rules so strictly, being able to eat the other amoebas instead of poop....And so on.

It's more complicated than Hey! That's My Fish! but it's still relatively straightforward and not too long. It's also very colourful and the rules make sense, which is good.



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Nexus Ops

2-4 players


Boardgamegeek blurb: "Nexus Ops is a light-medium science fiction war game. The game boasts a hexagonal board that is dealt differently every time, as well as cool "glow" miniatures and lots of combat. Players control competing futuristic corporations that battle each other for control of the moon's Rubium Ore. By winning battles and fulfilling Secret Missions, you can obtain victory points.

Units are composed of various alien races and have stats not unlike those used in the Axis & Allies series. Combat is also performed in a similar way. Players who lose battles are compensated with Energize cards which grant them special powers later. Players can also obtain Energize cards by controlling the Monolith, a raised structure in the center of the grid. First person to reach the required number of victory points wins the game."

Nexus Ops is a "King of the Hill" game where four players attempt to get their troops to control the central hill and hold it to score points. Everyone ends up fighting everyone else for territory and it's a straight forward way of dice rolling to see who wins battles (similar to the game Axis and Allies where stronger troops have a wider number of successful rolls than weaker ones).

The rules are easy but the best thing about this game is how it looks. You'd get loads of play out of it with a younger brother of the Ben 10 generation. The beasties are great and best of all THEY GLOW UNDER BLACK LIGHT! Whooooo.

Just a shame that the game is soooo hard to find these days...




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1-4 players


Boardgamegeek blurb: "A dexterity dice game consisting of four sets of colored dice one either slides, rolls, or flicks down a stepped surface. Usually one slides the die for better accuracy. After each person has slid their 4 dice, points are scored. You score the die roll times a multiplier of either 1×, 2×, 3×, or 4× depending on which area of the board the die is on. (Dice which land in the 0× region are immediately removed from play.) High scoring rolls are targets for opponents. Four rounds are played and the player with the most points win."

Four of you stand around with four dice in your hands. In turn you put a die at the top of the ramp and flick it down. Hopefully it'll stay on the layered ramp on either the 1x, 2x, 3x or even 4x section. Your opponents will flick their die down trying to knock yours (and eachothers) off and remain on the ramp themselves. Then you all do it with your second die, third and fourth die.

When all dice have been flicked, you score. The number rolled on each dice multiplied by the 1, 2, 3 or 4 depending on which step of the ramp the dice finished on. Easy.




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I haven't even heard of most of these.

Well you don't need to hear about Monopoly or Cranium do you?

Just out of interest - because you're something of a boardgame enthusiast - what do you think of games I have heard of? Like monopoly or cluedo? Are they a bit of a busman's holiday for you?

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I haven't even heard of most of these.
Well you don't need to hear about Monopoly or Cranium do you?
Just out of interest - because your something of a boardgame enthusiast - what do you think of games I have heard of? Like monopoly or cluedo? Are they a bit of a busman's holiday for you?

If I'm going to be honest, I like the deduction element of Cluedo (and the fact that you can trick people by asking about clues that you have yourself). I also like Tim Curry. However the way movement is handled is a pain. You may be great at the game itself but if you keep rolling 1s then you're screwed. Also, you're just about to make a great enquiry when someone drags your piece over to another room. I'd happily play it, or similar games, without the movement element though. Maybe like those Murder Mystery meals where you all dress up. Given everyone a few cards and get them asking around.

Monopoly...Nah, don't like. I LOVE the Monopoly computer game from a decade back where you were building on the streets and setting prices for your shops etc. My housemate and I played multiplayer against eachother LOADS. Really cutthroat. It wasn't Monopoly though - just a building and money game with streets named after Monopoly.

Monopoly itself is too long and people add stupid house rules that make it go on longer (like Free Parking getting all the fines money or getting £400 for landing directly on Go). Monopoly's an old game and newer and better games have come out. Playing with the auctions of properties makes it better but still it's too dependant on dice rolling. I don't mind dice rolling but when your whole game decision making is based around what you roll it's a bit frustrating.

Hey! Thats my Fish! Looks like tremendous fun.

It is and you can download it on iphone or Android if you want to try it out. Costs a few quid though.

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Ca$h 'n Gun$

4-6 players


Boardgamegeek blurb: "In an abandoned warehouse a gangster band is splitting its loot, but they can’t get an agreement on the split! It’s time to let the guns talk and soon everyone is aiming at everyone. The richest surviving gangster wins the game!

Ca$h 'n Gun$ will make you relive the best scenes of your favorite gangster movies. Fun, bluffing, and tough negotiations are guaranteed, but will you dare to play? It's simply killing!"

A.k.a Reservoir Dogs: The Game. Kinda. You're all gangsters fighting over money. Each round some money will be laid out in the middle of the table. Then you'll secretly be choosing a card - one of your bluff cards "CLICK", or the cards where you'll actually shoot a rival "BANG" or "BANG BANG BANG". Then you'll choose who to put your gun at for that round.

Oh yeah, nearly forgot. Everyone gets a foam gun to point at each other.

On the count of three you aim your gun at someone else. Then at another count of three people can decide to back down to avoid being shot. Those who remain standing shout "Cojones" (it's in the rules) and then turn their cards over. Anyone getting shot with a BANG card loses a life and gets no money. If you get shot with a CLICK then you're safe and get to split the cash.

If that gets boring after a while you can add in the undercover cop variant (he's trying to screw everyone else over and still survive) or the special powers variant (such as the guy with a grenade in his pocket or the guy who gets to pick up and use the gun from a dead player).

Cash n Guns is a big laugh, especially when everyone ends up pointing at the same person.

The original German version had black foam guns but of course with the English language release, America had to get orange guns.



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1-4 players


Boardgamegeek blurb: "FITS (Fill In The Spaces) is essentially a multi-player Tetris. Each player has an inclined board on which they place different polyominoes, with three, four, or five squares. Cards are drawn from a pile to tell the players which piece to take. The pieces may be rotated and reversed before they slide down the inclined area to dock to other gaming pieces, but unlike Tetris cannot be slid horizontally once dropped. Scoring is based on quantity and configuration of squares left uncovered.

Unlike original Tetris there is no time pressure but like Tetris every player is engaged with his own board."

FITS is Tetris in boardgame form with up to four of you playing at once. A card it turned over showing you what piece you're all going to slide down your little Tetris play area but unlike Tetris you can't move it from left to right or rotate as you guide it down. Completed lines at the end score you points - unfilled spaces lose you points. Simple. Different levels of the game add different little rules such as spaces on the board having bonus points, encouraging you to try to leave spaces there, or paired symbols - leave both empty and you score points but cover one and you lose points.

FITS is a fun game and it doesn't look at all scary. Afterall it's pretty much Tetris and everyone knows how to play that.



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Finding these games (from this thread or the other) on the internet is a pain. I think I'm just going to walk down to the Orc's Nest (near Shaftesbury Avenue) on my lunch break one day this week, poke around their upstairs and see if I spot any names I recognise.

I remember seeing a copy of Twilight Struggle when I was last in there several months ago. Bet it won't be there now!

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