I just played my second game of Taj Mahal yesterday with my friends Sam and Dave. I must say, that game brings out the worst in me. I guess the good news is that the worst isn't nearly as bad as it used to be. But still, I just felt myself getting really angry and... we... call me crazy but that does NOT enhance the game experience for me (or anyone else).
There is this mechanic, it's basically an auction, where you're bidding on stuff. The problem is that if you bid, you pay, whether you win or not. This leads to the inevitable bidding war, followed by at least one person going home with nothing and having payed great cost for the privilege. Some people would call this 'intensity', but for me it's just complete and total frustration. The kind of frustration that makes me cranky... angry even. Thinking back, I think this sort of thing is a key factor in games that really tick me off. Not all games are this frustrating for me. Certainly, playing hard, making what you think are good choices, but then getting clobbered in a game will cause a certain amount of frustration, but not the kind that makes you want to hunt down the designer and surprise him in a dark alley.
I'm glad I've at least pinned down one of the mechanics that really sets me off. I'll have to think long and hard about a game with all or nothing auctions (where everybody pays) as one of the main mechanics.
I guess another known mechanic is direct combat. I don't like being attacked in a game. Even if it was a good tactical move for my opponent, I can't help but take it a little personally. This usually ends up in making retaliatory moves for the sake of revenge, rather than maximizing my score or potential for winning the game.
I should make a list of these. Then if somebody makes a game with everything on the list, I can skip out on playing and go straight to waiting around in dark alleys. At least then I'd have friends left, willing to visit me in the big house.