What are your three key games?
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I'd love to hear which three games are particularly important to you, and why. Maybe they were among your gateway games that got you into the hobby. Maybe you played them with someone special in your life. Maybe they made you realise something about yourself. Maybe you just like and play them a lot more than other games. But there has to be something that *really* makes them stand out from the rest for you.

While I got the idea for this list in the "Women & Gaming" forum and am very interested in hearing from its regular posters in particular, I welcome your additions to and comments on this list whether or not you are a woman.
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1. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:382] [Average Rating:7.16 Unranked]
Board Game: Catan
This was one of my gateway games.

I was 13 when it came out, and I have fond memories of playing it a lot with my parents and younger brother. I still enjoy playing it occasionally today, despite the randomness of the die roll in resource distribution.

The fact that it was such a big hit when it came out means that most people my age who've played any board games at all are familiar with it, and this has allowed for some nice bonding experiences with friends too. Some of them have their own, lovingly made do-it-yourself copies.

So this one always gives me a cosy feeling and reminds me of family and friends. Despite the viciousness of the robber. And how grumpy my dad would get if noone wanted to trade with him when he was already winning.
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2. Board Game: Elder Sign [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:539]
Board Game: Elder Sign
Another gateway game for me, this time to playing games solo.

I've often regretted not having anyone to play with, at least not as often as I wanted, or as willingly as I would have liked. My partner will play games with me because he knows how much I enjoy them, but not because it is an activity he likes much himself. So if we play, I often feel guilty for taking away time from activities that he likes better. We still try to share these things part of the time, but we also think it's important to have our own hobbies that we do independently of each other. Most of my friends like games, but they have busy lives and lots of other interests too, so getting ahold of one of them when I'd like to play can be difficult at times.
Being an introvert (I'm compensating online...) also means that while I certainly enjoy the company of a few close friends, being around people takes a lot of energy, and often that is energy I don't want to or can't spare because I need time off in order to recharge, and be able to deal with the social interactions that I can't avoid (job-related ones in particular). I've learned the hard way that overdoing it on the social things (even with people I really like) doesn't do me any good, and that my bar for "overdoing it" is a lot lower than for some others. So that often left me with wanting to play, but either not being able to, or knowing I'd pay for it.

While I was marginally aware that there were games that could be played solo (I had no idea of the vast scope of options, though), I never seriously considered it myself. Which is, admittedly, rather dumb, but I'd only ever really experienced games as a social activity, not something that was fun to do on your own. Then I came across Judy's geeklists of games she was playing, and she even had her own solitaire gaming convention once! Something of her enthusiasm hit me in the right spot at the right time, and I just had to give it a try. One of the games she was playing and which sounded particularly fun was Elder Sign, which was sitting on my shelf unplayed, like so many other games. I finally got it to the table and it was such an exciting and fun experience that I repeated it, and started looking for other games I could play on my own. I now regularly supplement my social gaming with playing solo. It has made me stop waiting for opportunities that may never come, and it has also allowed me to experience games on a different level that is both more immersive and more relaxing. It's a bit like reading books versus watching movies - both are great, but with books I'm a lot more engaged in actively shaping characters and settings and other details according to my own imagination, whereas movies kind of force their images into my head, often at a less than ideal speed. For me, playing solo is more like reading a book, and playing multiplayer is more like a movie. Complete with popcorn munching sounds, people walking in after the movie has started, and some idiot not turning off their phone.
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3. Board Game: Star Trek: Attack Wing [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:1292]
Board Game: Star Trek: Attack Wing
This game is significant for me in two ways.
First, I *love* it for its neverending options and its theme. I'm a huge Star Trek fan, and this is full of my favourite ships and species and characters and events from my favourite shows. It's a great game to play with other Trekkies. You can recreate your favourite episodes or make up your own scenarios, play faction or era-pure, or form the wildest alliances. It's also a good tactical game, especially when it comes to maneuvering and out-maneuvering your opponent. It does have its flaws (component issues, messy rules, poorly balanced expansions,...), but nothing that is a dealbreaker for me, especially in casual play. It id my second most played game (not counting online play) despite being longer and fiddlier to set up than many of the others I enjoy playing.

Second, Attack Wing made me re-realise that playing in tournaments with prizes to win isn't for me. I don't mind playing competitively (actually, I'm much more of a competitive than a cooperative gamer), but I don't like how caring about winning and scoring beyond the confines of a single game, both on my part and on that of other players, takes the fun out of playing. How I can't play fleets that would be great thematically but just aren't competitive enough. How you have to watch out for people not cheating, or intentionally misinterpreting the rules, or keeping information from you in the hope that it will give them an advantage. The whole metagame of trying to rush, or otherwise unsettle, an opponent to get a better shot at winning. It makes me sick to see how wanting to win an admittedly hard to get prize makes people behave, and how dogged and unhappy it makes myself. It very nearly spoiled the game for me completely. Admittedly, it wasn't all bad, I had some great games with great people during the OP too (and I was in 2nd place when the OP fizzled out, so I wasn't doing too badly), and a lot of the pressure was home-made (yes, stupid brain, I'm talking about you).
Nevertheless, this reminded me how much more I enjoy playing with friends, in a relaxed atmosphere, where it's just about having fun and winning a single game, not about prizes and winning consistently over months. I'd rather have fewer opportunities to play than let the extra ones taint a great game for me.
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4. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:36]
Board Game: Power Grid
Marie
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Like Kathrin, one of the first games I ever played when I was young was Catan (also Monopoly and Labyrinth).

However, one of the gateway games into serious gaming was Power Grid for me. This was one of the games were I realized that board games could be so much fun and a wonderful challenge (rather than the frustration of Monopoly or the worn-out experience of Catan).
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5. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:258]
Board Game: Acquire
Marie
Germany
Düsseldorf
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I've had an on-and-off relationship with games ever since my childhood. Aside from the above mentioned games I played in the 90s and the eurogames I play nowadays, there also was a phase about 10 years ago when I regularly met with a board game group. Now in that group, we usually played lighter games, but the "head" geek once mentioned that Acquire was his all-time favorite game. It took me about another 6-7 years, but when I finally played it myself, I understood. It's one of my favorite games, even though I'm terrible at math and I always lose.
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6. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:269]
Board Game: Love Letter
Marie
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"Love Letter?", you ask? Yes, it has a very special place in my heart, because this is by far the game I played most often in my semester abroad in Australia. While I was there, I went to a board game club (almost) every Monday, and there I was introduced to Love Letter. And every time I played it, I was surprised by how much fun such a small and simple game can be.
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7. Board Game: ASAP [Average Rating:5.53 Overall Rank:15867]
Board Game: ASAP
Caysi
United States
Newport
Kentucky
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This will always be a treasured game of mine. This was given to me as a Christmas gift. At first my brother and i didn't care for it. As we got older we learned how awesome of a game this is. We spent countless hours playing this game. Sadly my original copy was destroyed in a basement flood.

Two years ago i got an updated "party" version of this game. It's the same game but not as awesome as the original copy. I still play it and every time those awesome memories with my brother come back to me.
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8. Board Game: Rummy [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:6672]
Board Game: Rummy
Caysi
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Newport
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I guess you can say this was my gateway game. My grandmother taught me this when i was 5. I didn't quite understand it, but i liked it. Over the years i begged EVERYONE i knew to play this awesome game with me. I think i made everyone sick of this.

I will always hold a special place in my heart for this awesome card game. i have memories where i actually won again my father (who always cheats) and he was speechless! How awesome is that?
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9. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:314] [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror
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This was the first "real" board game my husband and i decided to learn. It may have taken us two years to learn (and a few arguments on rules), but we powered through and figured it out. We may have lost the majority of our games, but we love it. In fact, when we actually won a game we didn't know how to react since we are so used to losing!

This was the game that sent us down the path to having our huge game collection.
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10. Board Game: Louis XIV [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:676]
Board Game: Louis XIV
Mystery McMysteryface
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Florida
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Not my gateway game, but the first heavier game my husband and I played after trying Carc and some other light card games. Wow!! Our brains melted in such a good way that I became hooked on board games as a hobby. This was in 2008 and I've not looked back. Love, love, love the tension in this game and the fact that I've only won 1 time against my husband.

This game showed me that there can be a lot more to board games than the roll of the dice or a fun party-type activity. I love that!!
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11. Board Game: YINSH [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:182] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Board Game: YINSH
Mystery McMysteryface
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I love abstract strategy, and guess what? My daughter does too! This was the first title that we both ADORED and don't mind playing over and over. My proudest moment was when she finally beat me, fair and square.

This is such a simple, yet challenging game. Highly interactive and super interesting.

A few years later I acquired TZAAR, which we both feel is a bit meatier and superior, but YINSH will always have a special place in my gaming experience since it opened up such a wonderful common bond between my daughter and I.
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12. Board Game: Hoppladi Hopplada! [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:4731]
Board Game: Hoppladi Hopplada!
Mystery McMysteryface
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This game is special for many reasons. It was my first pure dice game, it was gifted to me by a BGG user, everyone I introduce it to loves it, it is a blast to play, and it never plays the same way twice.

I never thought I'd enjoy a pure dice game, even though I had purchased and really enjoyed Sushizock im Gockelwok. This title, however, really puts a spin on dice rolling, especially since you can use your opponents rolls to your advantage.

This game is interesting, fun, moaning & groaning, and shouting for joy. Not rated higher on BGG because it is an import and not readily available in the USA.

I usually play with my daughter, but have played in groups of various sizes.

It is a wonderful game and a keeper. And even though dice usually hate me, I have won my fair share of games.
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13. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:253]
Board Game: Ghost Stories
The Board Game Goat
France
Paris
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Ghost Stories is one of the first board games my fiancé and I bought after we discovered the beautiful and addictive world of board gaming and realized there was a board game store not far from our place.

This game is so addictive that it represents to me the essence of the pleasure of playing together as it's also the first cooperative game we ever played. It's really difficult so we were playing it all the time, even very late after coming back from a party.

Winning this (after dozens of plays) was just and incredible feeling. Zac sacrificed himself twice so we could win! It was just epic and it has a special place in my heart since then. Always wonderful to play it (it's so damn hard though!)
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14. Board Game: Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:392]
Board Game: Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia
The Board Game Goat
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I hesitated to put Viticulture here but actually Euphoria has a key factor to it as it's the first Stegmaier game we ever played and I was very, very impressed by the mechanisms and the theme and the art.

It really opened my eyes to the depth and originality games can have and I totally fell in love with the games by Jamey Stegmaier from then on for their elegance and the perfect balance of their mechanisms. It's so obvious that it's designed by someone who listens to what players are excited for and delivers a really beautiful game experience. It's also my first worker placement game.

I'd play it any day. It also has been a pleasure to teach it to rather new gamers who were curious about heavier games and had their mind blown by this one.
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15. Board Game: The Mushroom Eaters [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:5758]
Board Game: The Mushroom Eaters
The Board Game Goat
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This board game is simply a work of art. Unboxing it is an artistic experience in itself. It's a game we bought quite early on (can't remember how my fiancé found out about it, he has a way with finding weird and beautiful things).

You can play with 3-D glasses! surprise

It's made by a small publishing company (low run, some parts are hand-made), the mind-blowing art is from different artists, it's really amazing. It also has a progressively unfolding board and some cards are extensions of the main board when you go on your own trip. The mechanisms are solid and it's very, very thematic. Super psychedelic! When we have people over, we open it just so they can look at it even if they don't want to play a long game like this one. It amazes everybody and alters their preconceived ideas about board games too.

I just can't speak highly enough of this game. Eye-opening to me as to what board games can also be.
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16. Board Game: Above and Below [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:231] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Board Game: Above and Below
Above and Below has everything I like in a game, the story element, the worker placement, collecting and building, and the nicest art I've seen to date. I never get tired of this game, and always want to play it.
It was the first game I backed on Kickstarter, with a very smooth experience and it was questions and tips around this game that made me become an active part of the BGG community.
So yeah, this game means a lot to me, on many different levels.
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17. Board Game: Frank's Zoo [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1498]
Board Game: Frank's Zoo
Laura
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Arlington
Texas
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I love the frustration this one can cause - making players scream! And the trash talk is very creative around it, for some reason.

It's easy to teach, and the art work is great.
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18. Board Game: Around the World in 80 Days [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1656]
Board Game: Around the World in 80 Days
Laura
United States
Arlington
Texas
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This one is possibly the most beautiful game I own - and it's fun to play.

It seems best with 6 players, because you get to use all of the special powers with 6.
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19. Board Game: Pickomino [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1221]
Board Game: Pickomino
Laura
United States
Arlington
Texas
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The American Patriarchy ~ Keeping the Lights On for 100 Years! Thanks Guys!
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And you've gotta have dice!

This one is a great push your luck dice fest, made better with Chessex replacement dice (White, Mother of Pearl) so they really glow.
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20. Board Game: Trap the Cap [Average Rating:4.84 Overall Rank:19298]
Board Game: Trap the Cap
Hanne Beate
Norway
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This was one of the first games I played with my parents, and I loved to play it as a child.
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21. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:1760] [Average Rating:6.28 Unranked]
Board Game: Scrabble
Hanne Beate
Norway
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This also I played a lot with my parents, and it's a good memory of them since they've both passed away.
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22. Board Game: Ubongo [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1011] [Average Rating:6.71 Unranked]
Board Game: Ubongo
Hanne Beate
Norway
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This is the first board game my husband got from me, and it's also the first adult game our son at 6 years age have played (and he's quite good at it)
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