One game to define the hobby, a question

Aliens land on Earth and come to you to explain boardgaming. You only have time to play one game with them that defines our hobby, what is it?

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Is Chess the answer?

If it is, tweak the question to ‘modern boardgaming’

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chess is not the answer. that much i know. especially with aliens. no war games. I’ll think about it. definitely not Blood on the Clocktower either btw.

ps my brain jumped to Azul immediately but didn’t provide an explanation. I’ll think some more.

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There’s quite a few games I probably couldn’t show to Aliens. They are not always portrayed favourably.

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I’m thinking of mechanics that surprised me when I first heard about them.

Co-ops - big one this, people are shocked when I tell them this
No dice - growing up with Monopoly, Ludo, Snakes & Ladders etc not having to roll and move is cool
Legacy games - sticking things on the board? Tearing things up?
Strategic planning

I think it’s Pandemic Legacy Season One for me

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Galaxy Trucker or Space Alert?

My partner agrees.

On some levels I do, too. It’s a very fine expression of modern gaming incorporating some of the biggest trends of the past 10 years or so.

The biggest revelation for me personally in recent years was either Gloomhaven or Spirit Island as the next step. Up to then cooperative didn’t also include complex gameplay.

The Crew would be a good example for cooperative gaming and I might even be able to teach the aliens, provided they already knew trick taking. But it doesn’t have a board…

As far as archetypical games I find the West Kingdome trilogy while not breaking records in innovation, certainly provides some good examples of modern games.

Escape from Aliens in Outer Space? (I still don’t have that… )

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Aliens are weird. How well can we communicate? How well do they understand our cultural and historical references? Which aspects are similar between our societies? Because I don’t have the answers to these questions, I would suggest a game on the more abstract side of the of scale. I want components without text and ideally don’t even rely upon iconography. Not knowing how they perceive the world, especially color, I would avoid any game that relied upon color and even black/white is risky.

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Twilight Struggle. We will think nothing of nuking you. **** you, Aliens, do your worst.

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Obviously the correct answer is Consentacle.

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I’d suggest Cards against Humanity. Then they would realise we are past the point of bothering with and leave us well alone…

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Or Noughts and crosses. Teaching the futility of war.

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I won’t settle for anything less than encouraging absolute global collapse. Sorry everyone!

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I think Azul.

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Fog of Love? Off-hand, I can’t think of a better examination of both co-op, competitive, and “human nature” in a box. Also, it would give us ample opportunity to discuss various elements of human nature: why this is funny, or awkward, or risky, or whatever.

If I was looking to play a game with an alien without risking insulting it (otherwise the answer is Twilight Imperium 4th Ed, the greatest game ever crafted by human hands), I might try Scythe for much the same reason. A lot of narrative elements in the event-cards, multiple paths to victory, and a discussion of popularity, military, animal companions… a lot to unpack there if you want to.

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As a semi-serious answer, Go. I think it might be possible to “explain” through play even without a shared language, and it has enough depth and complexity to illustrate the limits of human cognition, 4000(?) years of history, and a message of compromise even in competition, if you want to read that into it.

Restrict the answer to modern games, and it’s much harder to pick an example. I would immediately exclude cooperative games and legacy games, as for me they do not define the hobby and are just curio offshoots from it, so Pandemic of any stripe is right out.

Assuming language and comprehension is no barrier… maybe Innovation, just because I like it, it seems kind of representative to me, it does a lot with a little, and illustrates a bit of history in a very gamified way.

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Pick Up 52.

While they’re distracted, I steal their car keys.

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I think I’d pick Ludo (to use the name I’m most familiar with, though we used to play it with my grandmother as Coppit). It’s a sort of board-game starter pack. It has the important features of board games: dice, coloured counters, a board, multiple players, player interaction, and elements of strategy and tactics blended with plenty of luck.

It’s also got lots of history, starting in the Iron age apparently, with loads of different regional flavours all clearly showing their common ancestry. It’s just a pity there’s no ‘harvest wheat’ action, or it would be perfect.

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