We grow tired of Risk, but are always up for a risk.
November 21, 2007 2:30 PM   Subscribe

What board game would my friends and I enjoy next?

Now, forewarning, I have done a lot of research on this and am just unable to come up with a decision. I have done quite a few mefi searches as well, which pointed me in different directions but never really answered this hankering question, as it is quite specific.

My friends enjoy coming together around a good board game. We love the player interaction and strategy they can bring that other games and activities cannot. The problem is we have played the heck out of Risk, and all the various types of Risk (including the Star Wars Risks, etc etc) We want a new game, but being a college student my money is low, even though my desire to play something new is high.

I have looked into a few games, including Settlers of Catan, Tigris and Euphrates, and Puerto Rico. I know quite a bit about the rules, and ideas of how play would go, but.. I dont know if they really fit my ideal game that I want to look into next. I have been spending a lot of time on boardgamegeek.com searching around, but I still can't find enough information to decide.

We love the player interaction and strategy of Risk. Secret alliances, well known alliances, troop placement and fortification, its all great and it makes for a very thought provoking night. We hate (or love depending on your side of the luck) how much dice comes into play. You could out-place, out-think, and out-play everyone but lose because of a string of bad luck. This often leads to a lot of hostility in the group at the end of the night, even though we meant to just come together for a fun time.

The game I want can have a luck based part to it, as long as it only alters gameplay, or can be overcome by strategy. Also, we like being against each other, and being able to have alliances, as in a military styl games would probably be a plus, but is not necessary as long as it has player interaction and negotiations of sorts.

So please Hive Mind, help me find my friends and I a new board game. New recommendations beyond what I have already mentioned are welcome, as long as they fit what we want. Thanks :)
posted by MaHaGoN to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (62 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
posted by gnutron at 2:35 PM on November 21, 2007

How about Diplomacy?
posted by yogurtisgenocide at 2:36 PM on November 21, 2007

Second for Diplomacy.

Pros: No luck, lots of player interaction. Secret alliances, open alliances, and best of all, the opportunity to betray your allies at exactly the right time. Good amount of strategy too.

Possible cons: Very long (A game can easily last 6 hours or more); works really well only with exactly 7 players; some of the players may be eliminated from the game relatively early.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:39 PM on November 21, 2007

The only thing about Diplomacy that really detracts is that you genuinely have to have seven players to play it right. If you have six or fewer, the game balance is thrown off.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:39 PM on November 21, 2007

Axis and Allies
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:46 PM on November 21, 2007

Oh, and just to comment on the games that you listed: if you're looking for alliance/negotiation-type player interaction, Puerto Rico probably isn't for you. I mean, there's interaction inasmuch as what you do affects the other players, and you have to take that into account, but there's little to no room for actual alliances or negotiation.

Settlers is pretty heavy on the luck factor, perhaps more than what you want. Not as much as Risk, but dice throws can still determine the winner.

I haven't played T&E, so I can't comment on that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:46 PM on November 21, 2007

Settlers of Catan has some good player interaction, not as much as Risk perhaps, but still quite good. The major difference will be that you'll chew through a game in two hours or less. It's not like Risk where it takes all day and/or night. There's a lot of strategy involved.
posted by GuyZero at 2:47 PM on November 21, 2007

It's not really risk, and it has a lot more rules, and it really needs 5-7 players to work, but I bet you'd get a real kick out of Junta. And I think it even was republished recently.
posted by aspo at 2:49 PM on November 21, 2007

I trust everything Matthew Baldwin says about board games. He's got a ton to recommend and goes into quite a bit of detail on each game he reviews.
posted by ochenk at 2:50 PM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I recently played Last Night on Earth, and I'll be damned if it isn't one of the most enjoyable, beautifully designed games that I've played in years. Lots of teamwork-based strategy in games with many players, but it's just as much fun with two players (the minimum) as it is with six (the maximum).

Note: Experience so far has suggested that the game is weighted in favor of the zombies, but that's something that it appears might be mitigated once a little bit of experience allows the human team to develop more effective strategies.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:51 PM on November 21, 2007

nthing Diplomacy, this is exactly the game your description is calling out for.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:51 PM on November 21, 2007

Yeah, I should probably jump in here and say we are looking for somewhat shorter games, at least no longer than an average risk game, but preferably shorter. Also, we can't always field 7, so amount of players is also somewhat important. I looked into Diplomacy but somewhat ruled it out because of those things, but I will start considering it more after your recs.

Keep 'em coming this helps, thanks :)
posted by MaHaGoN at 2:52 PM on November 21, 2007

n-thing Settlers of Catan. It doesn't precisely match your listed requirements but is still very good fun.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:01 PM on November 21, 2007

Diplomacy doesn't have any luck, I think.

I'd suggest War of the Ring, which is very much like Risk, though there are sides.

Maybe also Game of Thrones, but it plays best with 5.

Shadows Over Camelot might be a lot of fun for your group too.

You could try Warrior Knights too, though I find it a bit fiddly.

Though by all means give Tigris and Euphrates a real shot, it's excellent if a bit more abstract (somehow) than these others.
posted by fleacircus at 3:08 PM on November 21, 2007

People aren't kidding about Diplomacy being a long game, but otherwise a very good fit. It's got everything you're looking for aside from being playable in a short time. Axis & Allies is similar, aside from being slightly more combat-focused. While I haven't played it personally, Fantasy Flight's Tide of Iron is of a similar bent.

In general, I'm usually pretty fond of Fantasy Flight Games' offerings. Aside from Tide of Iron, their games at least a bit fantastical (they are called Fantasy Flight). If that's not a deal breaker, I've heard good things about Tannhäuser and A Game of Thrones and they might have the blend of player interaction and strategy you're looking for.

As mentioned above, Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan are both *heavily* strategic, but alliance-like player interaction is relatively limited.

Unfortunately, weaving grand tangled webs and heavily strategic schemes are largely incompatible with a short play time. To really be viable and satisfying, that kind of interaction takes a while to unfold. Not always, of course, but it's easier and more common in a longer game. I'm also not entirely sure what "short" means to your particular circle. I've seen some Risk games go on for hours, so my definition of "short" might not be the same as yours if Risk is a short or average game for your group.
posted by Nelsormensch at 3:19 PM on November 21, 2007

Settlers of Catan with the Cities and Knights addon...

Less luck then the basic game, more "battles", more interaction, its' the only way to play!
posted by mattdini at 3:19 PM on November 21, 2007

nix on Axis and Allies. Once everyone playing gets to a certain level of experience, the Allies always win. trust me.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:25 PM on November 21, 2007

You say you've tried the variants, but if you haven't played Risk 2112 it really is a whole different game while still being Risk.

A few games I would recommend as being a little vicious and strategic, somewhat long, and working with a variety of numbers of players:

Vinci (build up a civilizations, fight with others, drop into decline and start up another civilization!) Doesn't have much luck, takes a while, works fine with 3-6. It's pretty forgiving for people who screw up - you will be down a bunch of points, but there's still plenty of stuff to do.

Wildlife (evolve your animal to be the dominant life form on prehistoric earth) This game involves a lot of competition. It's also a little forgiving - the guy in last has distinct advantages. There's less map-based positional strategy, but it's a pretty strategic game. Works well with 3-6.

Antike: A map based strategy game. Every turn you take an action building your economy, mustering troops, collecting income, or moving/fighting. It's pretty competitive, and has an interesting blend of things to do. I've played with 4 or 5, but it seems like it should work fine with 3 or 6.

These all are between 2 and 3 hours long. None of them are nearly as capricious as Risk, but all can get as vicious and as deep, strategically.
posted by aubilenon at 3:28 PM on November 21, 2007

How about Tenjo , or Europa (can't find a link) or Bohnanza . Settlers really is a great game though, there is a reason why everyone suggests it in these threads.
posted by JonahBlack at 3:30 PM on November 21, 2007

Why is there no link to Board Game Geeks here yet?

Abstract strategy games, sorted by review rating. Lots of other categories.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:36 PM on November 21, 2007

To answer your question Nelsormensch, once you hit the 6 hour mark it becomes a little excessive. We tend to give up on a Risk game which goes that long unless its really close and was a good game throughout.

"Longer" games are good because of the strategy. I dont want to sacrifice strategy for length, because we are used to playing risk. Just, longer than a 6 hours or more, with an average play time of approx 4 hours is probably the highest I would like to see.

This is much more complicated than I thought lol. We have requirements I didn't even realize til new games were brought up.

Wow, this is a great list and definitely didn't make things easier for me, lol, but I love all the reqs so keep on truckin. Thanks :)
posted by MaHaGoN at 3:37 PM on November 21, 2007

nthing diplomacy. If you have space to keep the board set up, you can just split a game over multiple sessions. Heck even if you don't have space to keep the board set up, it's not too bad a hassle to copy down the board state. Having 7 players is optimal, but you can play with fewer. It takes a bit of experience with the game and with a particular group of players, but you can suss out which starting countries have an edge for the particular # of players you have and then you can use the unbalanced-ness as a handicapping tool.
posted by juv3nal at 3:41 PM on November 21, 2007

Why is there no link to Board Game Geeks here yet?

Because the OP said in his question he had already spent a lot of time on BGG?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:45 PM on November 21, 2007

Here it is: Europa 1945-2030.

Also, for political underhandedness there's always Junta.
posted by JonahBlack at 3:47 PM on November 21, 2007

I feel like I provide this answer a lot on here, but n'thing Carcassonne.
posted by o0dano0o at 3:49 PM on November 21, 2007

I highly recommend "Attack!" which has a pretty cool expansion to it as well. I've got a copy round at my place we play every now and then. Settlers is great, has a couple of expansions as well to make things more interesting, but you don't have so much in the way of alliances. It's an economically complex game but not strategically complex.

Attack is more like risk. Well, the way I usually describe it is Attack is to Risk as Chess is to checkers. There's naval combat, technology that improves your troops, different types of troops with different advantages, an economy based on different resource types, propaganda wars to take over small countries, and political action cards which are like a cloak & dagger version of monopoly's "community chest"

It's well worth a shot. It's longish but usually not as long as Risk. Takes a while to get started but it's quite fun to customize the rules a bit (like make technology easier to acquire and therefore have invincible tank army versus invincible infantry army :P ) and so on.

Failing that dig up settlers. It's a game anyone can and will get into.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 4:06 PM on November 21, 2007

Game of Thrones. Delightful if you've read the books, but you don't need to. (but you really should)
posted by hindmost at 4:06 PM on November 21, 2007

Carcasonne in any of it's flavors is great.

A Game of Thrones is good because it doesn't have any dice rolling. You have armies, supply lines and battles for territory--but outcomes are decided without dice. Instead of dice, each player has a set of cards with numbers on them and each player uses a card in battle. The number is added to the number of armies involved, as well as some other things being factored in. There are three positions of power that change hands from time to time. What happens in a turn is determined by three cards that are turned over at the beginning of each turn. There is a lot of quite a lot of strategy involved. And it's bounded at 10 turns, so the game always ends.
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:09 PM on November 21, 2007

Have you concidered Minature Wargaming?
posted by Kioki-Silver at 4:13 PM on November 21, 2007

posted by BackwardsCity at 4:20 PM on November 21, 2007

It's a little slacker rules-wise than Risk, a little more free-form, and similarly relies on die-roll and card-draw luck, but War On Terror: The Boardgame is deliciously cynical, offers opportunities for alliances and backstabbing galore, and comes complete with hijackings, suicide bombings and WMDs (with a 45-minute deployment time, noblesse oblige).

Also, I have to mention Britannia just because; I found it fascinating because I'm a dork, but there are aspects of the gameplay which make it a refreshing change from Risk - every 'side' has different and discrete aims, so one is always caught between pursuing one's own and heading off someone else, and since players control multiple, time-staggered nations, there's always interest for everyone. It's really well balanced, too - and the rules are guaranteed trainee-lawyer-tight :) I haven't tried the 2003 version, but picked up the old one on eBay for a steal.
posted by aihal at 4:24 PM on November 21, 2007

Shogun sounds similar to Attack! (which I haven't played) in that it's kind of a version of Risk but with more interesting combat and economic development options, plus a cool medieval-Japan setting. Sadly it seems to be out of print now, but if you can find a cheap copy on eBay it's a lot of fun and would fit your requirements very well.
posted by whir at 4:32 PM on November 21, 2007

I just wanted to pile on about Junta. Great fun if you play it in the right spirit.
posted by doozer_ex_machina at 4:47 PM on November 21, 2007

I've played many (most?) of the games suggested here. I like some, and dislike others. (For example, I must be the only person in the world who finds Settlers of Catan tedious. But it is. There's not a hell of a lot to do, and if you're aced out early, the game is a drag.) But for the kind of thing you're looking for, I'd recommend Cosmic Encounter. It's kind of across between Risk and Magic: The Gathering (the latter of which found its inspiration in CE.) I also think El Grande would be a good choice, though it's not as close a match.
posted by jdroth at 4:51 PM on November 21, 2007

I've had a lot of fun with Illuminati. The rules are a little confusing, but it's all about alliances and betrayals and there's a fair amount of luck involved. Plus you end up creating ridiculous conspiracy theories as you play.
posted by squidlarkin at 5:09 PM on November 21, 2007

Whir, Shogun is the same game as Wallenstein, rethemed and reprinted. I considered suggesting it, but though the military actions are crucial to the game, most of what you are doing is economical, which I figured might appeal less to this group. It's a neat game, though.

OP, I would really suggest that you find some other gamers to befriend and try some of their games. If you're in college there are bound to be a few other people around playing board games. But also, just make the leap and pick something. I just realized that two of the three games I suggested are out of print (sorry) but all of the suggestions here are fun games (well there's a few I haven't played, but the ones I have, I've enjoyed). Paying $45 for a game may seem like a lot, but with six people, it's just a couple of plays before the snacks are just as much as the game!
posted by aubilenon at 5:52 PM on November 21, 2007

Oops, just clicked on the link. I was talking about a different game named Shogun. Nevermind what I said about Wallenstein and Shogun.
posted by aubilenon at 5:53 PM on November 21, 2007

Dammit, jdroth, I came in here to suggest Cosmic Encounter, and got all the way down to the bottom only to see you'd recommended it first.
posted by klangklangston at 5:58 PM on November 21, 2007

This is probably stating the obvious but Monopoly actually meets a lot of your criteria. You can play Monopoly with wildly adjusted rules in order to make it a longer, more strategic, alliance driven game. Even though rule changes can make the alliance, diplomatic, and economic sides more fun, you are still stuck with the same set of properties, so it's only something to try several times.
posted by wackybrit at 6:23 PM on November 21, 2007

nthing Settlers and Carcassonne and anything Matthew Baldwin says, and adding Ticket to Ride and its variants, which isn't as alliance-based but can get quite stressful when 5-6 people are vying for the critical routes, and is still fun for 4. It's a quick setup and short learning curve, also. Worth a try on a day you're feeling like something a little lighter.

Dying to play Junta, but we can never seem to muster exactly 7 gameplayers. Boo.
posted by nkknkk at 7:14 PM on November 21, 2007

I used to watch some people play this wicked game based on communism...controlling commodities and such. I can't remember if it was PRO commy or ANTI commy, but I'm inclined to say it was from Eastern Germany and fairly PRO---but required lots of cunning and guile.

Anyone have any idea what it might have been called?
posted by TomMelee at 7:55 PM on November 21, 2007

Settlers is easily the best game we've ever bought -- so much so we've bought it a couple times (someone spilled beer on it once). The dice can sometimes screw you, but that doesn't mean there's no room for strategy. We like Carcassonne, but it can be a bit too similar for Settlers for us sometimes.
posted by lilac girl at 8:44 PM on November 21, 2007

Diplomacy's the gold standard of strategic board games. All skill, no luck: kind of like chess for 7 players.

Cosmic Encounter's a very simple game with a surprising complexity that comes from the many alien powers each player chooses randomly from, each of which alters the basic rules of the game in some unique way plus temporary powers granted by various cards you can play. If that's not enough there's also expansion packs with even more powers & cards. It's also a lot more flexible to play, accommodating anywhere from 3 to 6 players. And games are relatively short, 1-2 hours each. But it's gone in & out of availability as it passed from publisher to publisher, it may be hard to find.

But one game I haven't seen mentioned is Civilization, the board game that was the inspiration for the wildly popular computer game series. It can be played by 2-7 players but its one drawback is games can be even longer than Diplomacy sessions. It's a longstanding joke in my circle of gaming friends for someone to say "quick game of Civ?". Unfortunately it's also out of print so you may have a hard time finding a copy.
posted by scalefree at 8:48 PM on November 21, 2007

Homeworlds might do. No dice, though the initial assignment to good/evil is random. Thereafter it's strategy, tactics, and diplomacy.

Come to think, the random assignment of alignments just might help your group to take the whole you-killed-me thing more lightly: Well, you killed me—you had to, you were evil that game. 'Course, the real solution is not to be dicks to each other off the gameboard, but that's not really something game mechanics can address ...

Re: Dice in Catan. See also event cards.
posted by eritain at 8:57 PM on November 21, 2007

You may have seen Parthenon already. I haven't played it, so can't comment. Anybody?
posted by eritain at 8:59 PM on November 21, 2007

Civilization: The Board Game is insanity. It's the only board game based on a computer game where we had to write a computer program to help us keep track of what was going on. I think that's ironic. And we were playing the simplified version.

There is a reason it is out of print.

I'll also nth Ticket To Ride: Europe. It's the best variant and a lot of fun.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:13 PM on November 21, 2007

I *highly* recommend posting this question on BoardGameGeek. AskMe is great for a lot of things, but by definition it has a broader audience than BGG. The guys at BGG really know their board games and will be able to offer some really great, really specific, suggestions based on your criteria.

Not that there haven't been some great suggestions in this thread, but if you have a question about board games, go to the experts. (If you don't want to get your own account over there, just email me and I'll post it for you.)
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:16 PM on November 21, 2007

Not really a board game, but you might want to look into Munchkin. It's not exactly what you're looking for -- aside from being a a card game, games are shorter (an hour or two) and it's not military style, but it definitely fits the bill in terms of interaction, negotiation, and strategy. As an added bonus, you can pick your favorite genre (fantasy, space, superheroes, kung-fu, spy, vampire, Cthulu-style, western, and, coming soon, pirates!). To make it longer, play the Epic rules (though putting together enough of a deck to make that feasible could get costly).

They're also working on an actual board game for the Munchkin series.

Disclaimer: That's pretty much the only game I play, with the occasional Settlers, so I'm no expert.
posted by natabat at 11:41 PM on November 21, 2007

I've had a lot of fun with Illuminati. The rules are a little confusing, but it's all about alliances and betrayals and there's a fair amount of luck involved. Plus you end up creating ridiculous conspiracy theories as you play.

Illuminati is pretty great. Not the INWO card-game version, but the real deal. I loves me some UFOs hidden victory condition. That's wicked fun.
posted by juv3nal at 12:19 AM on November 22, 2007

I'm going to comment on other games mentioned above. To boil this down, though, my recommendation for your group as described is Game of Thrones.

Someone above linked to abstract strategy games, which are games like chess and go where there's no "story" behind the game, you just have pieces with their powers and you're focusing on the strategy. Usually there is no/very little luck in these games. Often they are two player. I don't think this is the category of game you are looking for.

Lighter games
Carcassonne: Super-easy, quick to pick up, no direct combat, 2-6 players, another game that it's great to have a copy of because you can play it with absolutely anybody. It can be very strategic with the right crowd, or very lighthearted. Plays in under an hour, depending. Has expansions if you decide you like it and want the game to go longer etc.

Ticket to Ride: Very light game, you collect sets of colored cards and redeem them for rail routes. Easy to learn, easy to teach, again you can play with anybody. Plays under 2 hours. There are other editions with more complexity.

Settlers : Settlers is a lot of fun, trading and negotiating. It's easy to learn, easy to teach to new players, and reasonably quick (under 2 hours, usually under 1). There's a fair amount of luck, so newbies can do okay at it -- which makes it a good "gateway game" -- but it can be frustrating for someone who wants to do more strategic planning. No combat in normal Settlers, though there are some opportunities to screw other players. Well worth having a copy of, because you can play it with anybody including older relatives and kids. You can get the Cities and Knights Expansion to add more strategy. Normal Settlers is 3 or 4 players; you can get an expansion to take it up to 5 or 6 players.

Through the Desert: little pastel camels! This is a lovely gateway game, easy to learn and teach but still strategically interesting for everyone. It's an area-control game, you're trying to earn points in several ways by placing your camel caravans in the desert. It's similar in some ways to go, but can be 2-5 players. No combat, but chances to screw the other guy. Plays in around an hour.

Medium-weight (that's a judgment call of course) games
Puerto Rico: Fun, no combat. Feels very complicated the first time through but once you're underway it gets easier to understand. In the right circumstances, this can work as a "gateway" game. Usually plays in under 2 hours.

Tigris and Euphrates: Awesome, but much more abstract than Risk -- that is, the pieces don't look like little men, there is not a ton of "theme" to it. There is direct combat. There is luck in what tiles you draw, but this luck is contained -- better strategists will win. Again it's 3 or 4 players. It's trickier to pick up than Settlers, so will be confusing for newbies -- not a great "gateway game" for that reason. Usually plays in under 2 hours. Very thinky.

"Heavier" games:
Diplomacy: The gold standard of alliance based military strategy games. Seriously. Out of print when I last checked; if you can get a copy, I would do so. Quite a bit longer and more complex than the other games above.

Shogun: There's an old version which is out of print and very much in the "1,000 tiny plastic men" family of games, a classic, hard to get a copy of when I last checked. There's also a new game of the same name but which is a re-design of Wallenstein.

Civilization: Another one where you want to beware of different games under the same name. The old game, which is one of the all-time greats, is Advanced Civilization. Awesome if you can get a copy or connect with a local boardgame group where someone has a copy. There's a newer game, released maybe in 2004?5?, called "Sid Meier's Civilization", as a spin-off of the computer game. It's not as good.

If you were looking for complex, not too much luck, and in the 3-6 hour range, I urge you to look into various train/railroad games. It's a huge category of games with some really great ones. There's rarely direct combat, but often shifting alliances or cooperative arrangements. Sorry I don't have a single recommendation. BGG is the place to look.

Game of Thrones: The game I came in here to recommend. It's the game that I most often recommend when someone says, I want to play Diplomacy but I can't get a copy. It's shorter than Diplomacy, too, which is a bonus in my book. Also has expansions if you like that.

Illuminati and Junta are great backstabbing comedy card games. Not good if someone in your group is thin-skinned. I think these would be the second recommendation for you, unless you're looking for a lighter game like one of the ones up top, or unless you really hate card games.

Shadows Over Camelot is edging toward role-play, which you guys might really like. Definitely check this one out. Interpersonal stuff (is there a betrayer??) comes to the fore. Can be a gateway game; not too-too heavy.

Other games I will recommend quickly; they don't satisfy at least one of your major requirements, but I'll just throw them out there.

Hive - 2 player abstract strategy. God this is a great game.

On the Underground - 2-5 players, build subway track. Basically an abstract strategy game, SO well balanced and conceived. Just a beautifully designed game. A bit confusing when first reading the rules, but great.

Attika - awesome with 2 or 3, not as good with 4. Again just a beautifully balanced game.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:52 AM on November 22, 2007 [5 favorites]

Also, forgot - a fast, fun airplane dogfight card game: Wings of War. Really fun if you guys are competitive with each other; the whole game is combat, it's really fast and active.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:59 AM on November 22, 2007

If you're looking for Risk-type games, with a bit of meat to them, I recommend Struggle of Empires or Antike. War on Terror: the Boardgame is a bit lighter, but very very funny.
posted by salmacis at 3:33 AM on November 22, 2007

Civilization: Another one where you want to beware of different games under the same name. The old game, which is one of the all-time greats, is Advanced Civilization.

I did not know that. The one I'm referring to would be the original, natch.
posted by scalefree at 5:43 AM on November 22, 2007

Civilization: Another one where you want to beware of different games under the same name. The old game, which is one of the all-time greats, is Advanced Civilization.
Advanced Civilization is an expansion for the original Civilization. And you should get both (if you can), because it's a great expansion.

Neither of these have anything to do with the popular computer game series "Civilization" (beyond the board games having been a vague influence on the computer games).

To complicate matters further, there's also a computerized version of (the board game) Civilization including (its expansion) Advanced Civilization, itself entitled "Advanced Civilization". It's a faithful reproduction of the expanded boardgame, and (if I remember correctly) the AI isn't too bad.
posted by Flunkie at 7:31 AM on November 22, 2007

And yeah, except for the fact that you can't always find seven people and that you're hoping for a shorter game, Diplomacy seems to fit your wishes perfectly. And:

You can easily stop at any time, and write down the current position of the game, and restore it perfectly later at any time.

This really is easy to do, because even though it's a great, interesting, and complex game, the actual representation of the current state of the game is surprisingly simple.

So, I would suggest getting Diplomacy, but not using it as your "this is what we always play" game. Instead, if you happen to have seven people, give it a whirl. When you get tired, record the position, and the next time that you happen to have those same seven people, start it up again.

Or, even, play games with a day (or whatever) between turns. Actual diplomacy between players can continue unhindered between them.
posted by Flunkie at 7:42 AM on November 22, 2007

Stellar Conquest: Simple, fun, exploration, resource management, space combat. 2-4 players, but easily modified for six.

Third Reich A new version of the old Avalon Hill classic. Old Third Reich was complicated and time-consuming, but so satisfying when you managed to exploit a gap. Haven't played this new version.
posted by notyou at 8:09 AM on November 22, 2007

Or play some of your Diplomacy online, and some of it face to face.
posted by notyou at 8:11 AM on November 22, 2007

Also, nthing Settlers.
posted by notyou at 8:11 AM on November 22, 2007

To be clear, I was refering to the Sid Meier Civilization computer-game spin-off game. It's just like the computer game, only instead of having a computer to do the math for you, you get to do the math.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:02 AM on November 22, 2007

Wow, I was not expecting this many recommendations at all. I want to thank everyone that responded, and give an extra thanks to those that really took time to help me out.

It looks like I have a whole bunch of games to choose from now, but there are a few I am going to be looking into getting over the next couple months (I mean, I can't pass up all these great games right? No one said I had to buy them all at the same time :-P)

I am definitely going to get Settlers of Catan sometime soon, as I have heard a lot of recommendations for it, as well as a lot from these responses. It doesn't necessarily fit perfectly, but it seems like a ton of fun, and my group and I would probably love it.

I am also going to look into Tigris and Euphrates. It seems lesser known, but from the responses, as well as my research, it seems like a game we would like a lot, even if it took a little while.

Game of Thrones, and Carcassonne also seem very interesting to me, and I plan into looking into these a lot more in the future.

But.. for the "winners" of the question.

Diplomacy. I am probably going to go out and purchase this first, and try to get a 7 player game together as soon as possible. It seems amazing, and I am surprised I haven't really heard of it before. This seems like a game my group will really enjoy.

And finally, Cosmic Encounter. The "card chaos" makes this game seems incredibly fun. I remember back to a Star Wars Risk game we played (I believe it was the Original Trilogy Edition) where incredible strategies and epic wins came from playing of cards (one specific play which to this day we still talk about at almost every get together) and my group and I would definitely dig the sci-fi theme and the playstyle.

Again I would like to thank everyone that answered the question, and if there are still any more recommendations I would love to hear them, and I am sure a lot of other people would too. This is by no means "closed" just because I have a few I want to look into. If I only had more money and more time to play all these great games :(
posted by MaHaGoN at 12:53 PM on November 22, 2007

Cosmic will be hard to find, but well worth the effort. While you're hunting for a copy you can always play it online.
posted by scalefree at 7:52 AM on November 23, 2007

Our favorite epic strategy game, which hasn't been previously mentioned, is Twilight Imperium. It doesn't fit your criteria in a couple ways, I suppose-it's expensive and it can take 8 hours to play. BUT, IF you have the time and committed gamer friends, this is a fabulous, complicated, devious, backstabbing strategy game. We love it. You can play with 3-6 people, I think, and fewer people would make it a much faster game.

We also love Settlers, Carcassone, and Risk: Godstorm. I have to get me some Game of Thrones, as I love the books.
posted by purenitrous at 5:01 PM on November 23, 2007

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