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November 1, 2011 3:36 AM   Subscribe

What's the best German-style board game that's still unknown in the US? Bonus points if it hasn't even been translated into English.
posted by pete_22 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Not sure if it qualifies as "German-style" (although it's definitely more Euro than Ameritrash), but my friend who is a big boardgaming and cycling fan says that Um Reifenbreite is pretty good both as a boardgame and as a cycle race simulation.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:42 AM on November 1, 2011

Best answer: It's good but not great, but quite fun and unique and German language only: Schocko & Co. I have played it about five times.
posted by michaelh at 4:08 AM on November 1, 2011

Best answer: Does Die Macher count as unknown? At the very least, you don't see it in shops often.

It produced an actual coalition squabble for us, which has got to be worth something. However, finding enough people with the time to play if rather difficult.
posted by hoyland at 4:32 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What's your criteria for "unknown"? No stateside publisher, or just not known outside the "serious" gaming community?

Foppen is a fantastic trick-taking card game from Friedmann Friese (Power Grid) that never had a U.S. release. Actually, I think there are a few games from his catalog that never saw an English-language release.
posted by mkultra at 8:41 AM on November 1, 2011

Not sure if I'm understanding that definition correctly but I am a great fan of board games that have simple rules and deep strategy. Is that what you mean?

A couple of faves:

Imuri (good luck getting hold of this one!)
posted by Decani at 12:12 PM on November 1, 2011

This is in response to Decani, for future answerers: a German-style board game is not "board games that have simple rules and deep strategy". The abstract strategy games that Decani linked are not exemplars of the genre.

German board games differ from simple abstract strategy games in a few respects. If a game in question allows the player to move about a more-or-less large or continuous, homogenous field of locations, it is not likely to be a German game. If the game in question admits a simple description with very few core mechanics, which are all related to the same space or resources, it is not likely to be a German game. I can't exhaustively or perfectly characterize German games but by and large look for multiple concerns to be balanced, multiple kinds of resource or spaces to be managed/prioritized, fewer (or more discrete) options within any given concern or space, and limited ability to directly harm another player.
posted by Jpfed at 1:06 PM on November 1, 2011

Thanks for that Jpfed, but I'm afraid I don't have a clue what any of that means in terms of how it translates into games. You've taken the apophatic approach by saying what German games are not. I think we non-initiated need to know - and rather precisely - what German games are.
posted by Decani at 1:26 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Confused, too, and I play German board games. Are you talking about games like Settlers of Catan?
posted by Omnomnom at 1:45 PM on November 1, 2011

A couple of thoughts on what makes a German style game:

1) Resource management. Most German style games have some resource(s) that are used to advance your position in some way, and deciding how to spend these is a major part of the game.

2) Nobody is ever "out" of the game. This is contrary to, say, Risk; in Risk people get killed off and have nothing to do while their friends finish the game. In a German style game, all players are in until the end and the winner is generally determined by score.

3) Variation in replay. Examples of this would be the different board configurations in Settlers of Catan or the random ordering of power plants in Power Grid.

4) This one might be controversial, but I think most of these games have multiple paths to victory. To use Settlers of Catan as my example again, everyone wins the game by getting 10 victory points, but you can get those points in different ways- via buying development cards, building and upgrading settlements, or buy holding the longest road and/or largest army cards.
posted by keep_evolving at 2:24 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love Labyrinth but obviously it's not the kind of unknown you're looking for. Have you browsed the German games on Ravensburger's site? There might be something there that looks interesting to you.
posted by jabes at 3:48 PM on November 1, 2011

There's no such thing as a Eurogame that is unknown in the US, even if untranslated.

Your best bet would be to go through the BoardGameGeek list until you find one you don't recognize but which is still in print.

I definitely would not count Die Macher as an unknown given that it was first published 25 years ago and is widely regarded.

Very, very few well-regarded Eurogames take more than a couple of years to be translated into English and snapped up by one of the big publishers (like Rio Grande).
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 4:04 PM on November 1, 2011

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