You must take these categories as
arbitrary - the more categories the more fuzzy boundaries.
The Gipf Games
There are six games in the Gipf set: Gipf, Tamsk, ZŤrtz, Yinsh, Dvonn, PŁnct, Tzaar and Lyngk The gipf games have a special place here because Zertz was the legendary final straw that led to establishing the site. It still took almost five years to get all six of them online, just because there were so many other great games competing for developer time. All of the Gipf games are pure abstracts with unusual mechanics.
Tile Pattern GamesThis is a category of games where these is no board, just a bag of tiles which can be played on any flat surface. There are currently six such games here, Cookie Disco, Che, Micropul, Trax, Palago, Spangles and Hive. These games represent the ultimate in portability. They're very easy to explain or learn. They're also devilishly difficult to master. More games in this group are definitely coming.
Traditional Abstract GamesFor most people, Chess and Checkers are the only abstract strategy games they have every heard of. Their loss - there are a lot more games from ancient to relatively modern that are "traditional" somewhere. Go has been played for almost 2000 years. Xiangqi is a chess-like game played mainly in China, and Shogi is a chess-like game played mainly in Japan. Fanorona and Tablut are definitely traditional. Hex, while only about 50 years old, is definitely in the traditional mould. Lines of Action, a youngster at 40, uses traditional equipment and is destined to be a classic. Rithmomachy is a philosopher's "battle of numbers" game that fell out of favor 500 years ago. Colorito is a race-across-the-board game from the 19'th century. 9 Men Morris is one of the oldest.
Checkerboard gamesGames you can play with a checkerboard and checkers are especially attractive, because almost everyone "owns" them without any extra purchases; Lines of Action, is one of these, but also Day and Night, Dipole and Tumblingdown. There are literally hundreds of great games you can play with just a boring old checkerboard.
Capturing GamesChess is the canonical capturing game - you won't find that here. There are many other games where the primary activity is removing your opponents pieces. Traboulet a marble pushing game with a clever board mechanic. Khet is a definitely-modern game played with real lasers Entrapment is a pawn-and-barrier game with a capuring objective. Cannon forms lines of soldiers into "cannons" that shoot at the opposing forces. Knockabout uses dice as pieces to knock either other out of the arena. Triad is an unusual capturing game for 3 players. Traditional games such as Fanorona and Tablut are also found here. Morelli requires capturing control of the center. Magnet is a fairly simple capturing/racing game with concealed information. Tintas is about collecting colored chips. Meridians is a capturing game where territory is just as important. Trench is a capturing game inspired by trench warfare in WWI.
In racing games, the players race to move pieces to some goal, with many variations on the pieces and board involved.. Breaking Away is a luck free game based on bicycle racing. Warp-6 and Octiles are unusual representatives of the pure racing variety. Truchet is an interesting crossover that combines elements of racing, stacking and capturing. Ordo and Arimaa are raceing games with a strong capturing component. Gyges Gounki and Kamisado are fast race-across-the-board games with unusual move styles. Colorito is an ancestor to all of these. Barca is a non-conflict race based on the mechanic of paper-rock-scissors. Iro is a colorful abstract race across the board.
There are a lot of games in this category, with and without
boards, and on various types of grids. The granddaddy
of all modern connection games is Hex, where you try to
connect opposite sides of a board, followed
closely by Lines
of Action, where you try to connect all your
pieces. A more recent example of connection games is Army of
Frogs, where you try to connect all your pieces on a
boardless hex grid. Volo is a connection
game inspired by the behavior of flocks of birds. Ponte Del Diavolo is a
modern connection game with similarities to the classic game. Game of Y is a twist where you connect 3 sides rather than 2. Havannah combines several winning conditions on a hex board.
Euro GamesJust what are Euro Games? Dunno, but I know 'em when I see 'em. These are generally multi-player stratgy games with a limited amount of luck. Variety and uncertainty in the game arises out of the chaos of players' decisions. Boardspace hosts Container, an economic game with a shipping theme, and Medina, a city-building game, and Yspahan, a "victory points" economic game. Raj is an abstract bidding game which uses cards as bidding tokens. Mogul tense auction game with some poker-like elements. One Day in London is a path finding game. Euphoria is a worker placement game. Tammany Hall is an area control game based on New York's classic political machine. Q.E. is a bidding game, where you win by printing money. Viticulture is a worker placement game based on wine making. Black Death is a disease simulation (well, sort of), where you win by running a successful pandemic.
Another fuzzy category is games where manipulating stacks of pieces is the principal mechanic. Crossfire, Dipole, Dvonn, Lyngk, Exxit Tumblingdown , Stac and Sixmaking are clearly in this category. If you're a little bit liberal, Santorini and Volcano would fit too.
N-in-a-row GamesThe Tic-Tac-Toe family tree is full of more interesting siblings. Gobblet is 4 in a row with nested pieces. Quinamid is 4 in a row with sliding stacked boards. Syzygy is 3 in a row on a sliding matrix. Majorities is based on gaining majority control in a majoritiy of lines and directions. Proteus is played on a 3z3 board, but is not your usual tic-tac-toe. Mod X is a five-in-a-row game with interesting scoring. Mijnlieff is 3 in a row with a unique placement rule. Day and Night is a 4 or 5 in a row game with simple rules.
There are a bunch of really
simple, pure abstract games that use polyominos as their
pieces. Pan-Kai was the
first of these, followed by Universe and Phlip
(which combines Pan-Kai with Reversi) and Diagonal-Blocks,
which uses a diagonal connection rule.
Go, the oldest game in the world, is essentially a game about claiming territory. Blooms is a modern take on Go, on a hex board with 2 colors per player. Lots of other games have the same basic goal, with variations on exactly how that is done. Carnac and Veletas are examples found here. Mbrane is an area control game based on sudoku rules. Kulami is a territory control game based on a board constructed from a random arrangement of 17 tiles. Tumbleweed is an area control game on a hex-hex board.
Alternative Goal Games
Many modern games have several alternative ways to win, which present the horns of a dilemma to opponents. in Plateau you win by capturing 6 or forming a stack of 6. In PŁnct you either connect opposite sides or control the center. In Stymie you either capture 7 or get 7 into the center. The goal of Trike is to immobilize a pawn while surrounded by your own stones.
Chess is the archetype of a class of games where the goal is not just capturing, but capturing one particular piece, usually called the king. Examples on Boardspace include chess variants Ultima and King's Color, and traditional games Xiangqi and Shogi. Also, if you think about it, Magnet and Mutton.
The Rest of the Games
Definitely not the also-rans. These are the games that are so unusual that they're in a category by themselves.
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