What board games generate emergent play?

Post date: 2021-11-26 11:35:53
Views: 12
We play with some house rules in Catan. These are (I think) valid within the regular rules and these have been one of the aspects of the game that we've enjoyed the most. Are there other board games where the players will tend to produce new behaviours, conventions and technologies? Examples inside.

To give a sense of what I'm looking for, our following "house conventions" all arose spontaneously when someone did something unexpected, but seemingly within the rules. As Catan is a game about conventional economic development, I can't help but imagine them as analogies of real-world social technologies.

Invest in my port: some players choose to open up their ports to others, for a fee. "Pay me a sheep and give me three matching resources this turn, and I'll use my port to swap your matching resources and return you the hay you want next turn - unless someone rolls a seven and your cargo is lost" etc.

Detente: One person unilaterally moved the robber back to the desert once, in a group where tempers could run high. As a result, that group now always plays like that from the first seven onwards, unless someone is racing way ahead.

Protection money: "I'm going to put the robber on Alice's six hex or on Bob's eight hex. I either of you feel strongly, feel free to bribe me with resources to put it on the other person's, or on neither".


I'm aware that what I'm asking for is arguably the point of RPGs, like D&D. Also that multiplayer computer games frequently produce these kind of behaviours (I've read about EVE Online!).

However, this is for family. Therefore I'm interested in board game equivalents where this type of play is encouraged by the game's design, and can be played within the normal rules of the game.

Please don't tell me that the answer is Diplomacy!
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