Games with near-zero "Take that"

So the lockdown has really reduced by chances of playing a new boardgame with anyone except my girlfriend. She likes boardgames but hasn’t touched one for years, is pretty competitive, and will probably only enjoy games with absolutely no take-that in them (or a small fun amount which leaves no bad feeling).

To keep it as a fun date-night activity, I’m looking at a lot of co-operative games and ones which are just joyful experiences. I got Azul: Summer Pavilion at the start of the year, and sure it’s competitive and you can technically take pieces to stop your opponent having them, but it’s fun handling the clacky tiles as you build your own board and she loved it overall.

So what are people’s recommendations for games which have NO bad feeling toward your opponent at the end of them? Either co-op, or with a theme that just so nice you end up feeling good about what you just played?

I want to avoid anything where you CRUSH your opponent and then they know for half the game they are so far behind that they cannot win, etc.

(We are never playing Dune. Or Pax Pamir. Or Diplomacy).


Any Uwe Rosenberg game.


With some of Uwe’s games, there’s a very real “Oh, you took the action that I needed to do but you very well likely needed it near as much as I did, if not more!” Which is different… but similar.

Concordia famously has a “HERE’S THIS!” as opposed to a “TAKE THAT!”.

I’ll brain some more thoughts on the subject… I’m sure I have a lot of candidates because I dislike “take that” as well.


How about spatial puzzles like Bärenpark or Sagrada? More “argh! I wanted that piece” than take that.


My partner is similar. He hates Take That, so we play a lot of coop games.

Worker Placement games always have that thing where someone might use that action you just wanted to use… but in general Uwe Rosenberg’s games should be fine. I have not had the chance to play many of them multiplayer but I’ve enjoyed Arler Erde (Fields of Arle), Nusfjord and A Feast for Odin a lot. I recommend taking a look at the one I posted a video of today: Hallertau. It’s the newest offering of the bunch.

I would also add something like Castle’s of Burgundy to the mix. Not sure about other Stefan Feld games but I suspect most of his games are just as much multiplayer solitaire as Rosenberg’s. There is a decent app for Castles of Burgundy which you can use to test if the game is for you. (I didn’t grok all of the rules from the app though and the actual game is even better than the app)

Wingspan has very little in the way of pissing other people off. Except of course when someone takes that one bird you really wanted from the center.

Viticulture is another worker placement with very little in the way of take that. It even gives you that big worker to copy an action. Although I must say the game is much tighter with 2 players where there is only a single spot at each action as opposed to playing with three or more when there are more spots.

Almost all Roll&Writes should qualify. My favorite being Railroad Ink as mentioned previously.

All the tile laying polyominoes games as well.

Maybe have a look at what other mechanisms she enjoys because my partner will overlook a certain amount of Take That for deckbuilders because he likes the mechanic so much.


These are all great ideas, thank you!


I’m a big fan of coops.

I love Flash Point Fire Rescue. It’s not super sophisticated but I still enjoy playing it. I also very much enjoy V-Commandos but at least one person I know finds it too similar to Flash Point, which is fair enough. And Aeon’s End which is probably my favourite deckbuilder.

As others have said, the traditional style of eurogame can have quite low interaction, being basically a race for points; there might be hate-drafting but that’s about as conflicty as they tend to get. Which can feel a bit less like “I am crushing you” even if that’s what’s going on; you can say afterwards “I may have lost, but I did a better job than last time I played” separately from how badly you lost.

(Seconded on Sagrada.)


Consider Scrabble.


The first thing that comes to my mind is Suburbia. Also Carcassonne, which can be vicious, but only if you make it be. Also Tokaido is a nice time.


Dominion jumps to mind. Classic deck builder with loads of setup options.

Terraforming Mars is a game we play a lot with two players. There are take that elements, but we tend to ignore them at 2.

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I have not played multiplayer Terraforming Mars in a while but I thought it might be a good fit and its a wonderful game :slight_smile: (again the apps are good however on the expensive side)

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It’s possible that I’m just a terrible person, but my approach to Terraforming Mars is to role-play as a corporate supervillain whose primary hobby is crashing asteroids into other people’s stuff… so I’d never consider TM as a game with “near-zero take that” :grin:


I’m not so sure about every Uwe Rosenberg game or Castles of Burgundy. Regarding Herr Rosenberg’s titles, Agricola can get very salty if your entire plan comes crashing down because someone took the thing you wanted. Similarly At The Gates Of Loyang actually includes specifically take-that cards. Many of his other games however do fit the bill and I endorse Fields of Arle and Nusfjord for that purpose.

Similarly with Castles of Burgundy. It’s all fine and live-and-let-live until the moment when someone who’s been led to believe that it’s all peaceful and serene comes unstuck because they weren’t paying attention to which of the critical items on their own shopping list were also on someone else’s (whereas that someone else did notice and so snagged it out from under their nose). Don’t get me wrong, I love the game, but I’ve made the mistake before of setting people’s expectations that it’s a nice, friendly, live-and-let-live game when in fact it can be viciously cut-throat.

To at least try to turn this nay-saying post round into something positive, I’d like to throw Orléans and Castell into the mix as well. You might also find some mileage in Tapestry which is often criticised for not being interactive enough (personally I love it as it’s absolutely bonkers).


I haven’t yet played it, but I understand that among the changes made by Via Magica from Rise of Augustus is that it no longer has the “do bad things to other players” cards.

I think Thebes is a nice one to look into. The literal luck of the draw when excavating archaeological dig sites (blindly drawing tokens from a bag, hoping for valuable artefacts, and probably just getting sand) is a down-side to some people, but it can be pretty funny, and it’s hard to feel aggrieved towards your opponent(s) about luck.

The game does have strategy, and points aren’t solely from digs by any stretch; but they are such a significant part of the game that it always feels very friendly to me.

Tales of the Arabian Nights is mostly just helping one another to generate a completely bonkers narrative (pro tip: write the story down as you go, or it’ll just become a blur).


Is brain a verb now?

(that is not me having a dig - I am genuinely asking if that is something you’ve just made up or whether its started to actually be a thing!)


I verb lots of words. It’s a pillboxism, not widespread (yet).


I have definitely been known to say that I “can’t brain today” if I’m particularly struggling with something at work.


I have that on a t-shirt, usually worn on the last day of a convention.

I think that there are several related angles in this problem. For example, Onitama is very conflicty, but the games are short and the span from “I have a commanding advantage” to “I have won” is a small proportion of the game, so it doesn’t have the dragged-out ending that many competitive games do.

Roger’s Paradox of Game Design:

Can a player come from behind to win on the last turn?
If they can’t, what is the point of playing the last turn?
If they can, what is the point of playing all the previous turns?