Not a creative title, I know. Look, sometimes you have to sacrifice wit for SEO.
Well, fine, I didn’t know you felt that way. Then go! No one’s stopping you!
Sorry you had to see that, guys. They’ll be back. They always come back.
Anywho, imaginary conversations with invisible people aside, I wanted to today share some of my favorite tabletop board/card games that I have played so far. I’ve been addicted to games lately and working in a gaming/comic shop hasn’t helped. I have collected a bunch of games over the past… year… wow, it’s really only been about a year or so that I’ve been buying up games… I have a problem…
I don’t necessarily own all these games and some I’ve only played once but had a great time doing so. I’ll list pros and cons of each and give a brief review of my experience.
Here goes. My Top 6 Games I’ve Played (in no particular order):
- Fantasy Flight Games
- “Talisman takes you on a journey through magical lands, as you endeavor to reclaim the Crown of Command. Each turn will see your hero advancing, battling, gaining knowledge and power necessary to defeat the guardians lurking between the Portal of Power and the Valley of Fire.”
- Pros: Character Variety; Plenty of Expansions; Friendly to Variable Play Styles
- Cons: Slightly Rules Heavy; Promotes Aggressive Strategies; Looks More Daunting than it is
- My Feels: For a long time, Talisman time was presented to me as one of those “friendship killers.” It had very much the same stigma that Mario Party still has to this day, and so I avoided it. I was finally convinced by one of my two closest friends to give it a shot, and I had a fantastic time! The gameplay is fairly smooth, with turns progressing simply and movement around the board being fairly basic. Combat is roll based and additive, a la DnD style roleplaying, and there is just enough luck to balance with the strategy elements of the game. I lost this game, though not as bad as others, but just had a good time building my character and faffing about the board. I went with the dwarf (don’t tell the elf), and by the end of the game and after I had stolen all the loot from two different players, we had decided that I was trying to fulfill my life dream of being a merchant. That was Talisman for me. A game where there is no clear winner until moments before the game ends, and that allows for individuals to goof off if they like, while serious players dive straight toward the Crown. The game is very supportive of multiple play styles, whether you’re a more passive, move around the board and collect type player or a more combat focused player. The game itself does have quite a few rules in place, though if playing with experienced players, it’s fairly easy to pick up. It also is a game that promotes aggro/competitive players, so if you have someone like that in your group and you aren’t a fan of “pwnage,” then maybe avoid this game or at least don’t include that person. Also, some people are scared away by high fantasy things, which is unavoidable in a game where I almost lost to a Minstrel and did lose to an Elf Lord using a Crown of Command from the Valley of Fire. The Fantasy is definitely there.
- Repos Production
- “Wu-Feng, the Lord of Nine Hells, has discovered the village hiding the funeral urn containing his ashes. Four Taoist priests protect the village, as hordes of ghosts and demons descend on the town to reclaim the remains of their evil overlord. Can you hold out against the forces of eternal darkness, or will Wu-Feng recover his ashes and destroy everything in his path?”
- Pros: Smooth Co-operative play; Individual Players with Unique Abilities; Beautiful Art and Creative Board Layout; Each Player is Important
- Cons: UNFORGIVING; Rules are a Little Poorly Written (Sometimes need to read a section a couple times); Pretty much requires 4 people (has rules for less, but the play is weird without it)
- My Feels: I actually just picked up Ghost Stories and had an amazing time playing it with my group of friends. We lost and the “World of the Living ceased to exist” (exact words in rulebook), but we still had a great time. The balance of “combat” and the need for other powers/abilities was refreshing in that it didn’t allow for any one person to become more important than others in any aspect. The one warning about this game is that it is UN-FOR-FRIGGIN-GIVING. Things get out of hand FAST, and a single misstep can be deadly. Also, with ghosts coming out on every player’s turn, the balance of the ghosts’ abilities can really screw a player over. One of my friends playing had a ghost that neutered his ability and another that forced him to place an additional ghost on his turn, and another that took away one of our combat dice. This game is tense and requires a lot of discussion and opinions on strategy. Unlike co-op games like Pandemic, it doesn’t work as well if one person takes charge and tells everyone where to go. It’s nice to play a truly co-op game that doesn’t get boring or seem too easy at ANY POINT.
- Rio Grande Games
- Corporation incorporated, the galactic leader in sewer system construction, is looking for can-do guys and gals to haul materials to remote regions of the galaxy. Must be willing to fend off meteors, smugglers and pirates. Experience working with aliens a plus. Earn copious cosmic credits with bonuses for speedy delivery. Become a galaxy trucker. It’s loads of fun. The game consists of three rounds. In each round, the players begin by rummaging through the Warehouse, trying to grab the best components and build the best space ship. Once the ships are under way, the players try to avoid snares and obstacles, while grasping financial opportunities, each hoping to be the first to finish with an undamaged ship. It’s possible that you will end up with an insurmountable debt and finish your days panhandling on the streets of Deneb III, but if lady luck should smile upon you, you just might find yourself among the 10 billion richest people in the galaxy.
- Pros: Inventive Gameplay; Goofy theme/tongue-in-cheek rulebook; Fairly easy to pick up
- Cons: Slightly dated appearance (the picture on the back is literally like a CD-Rom render of the game board); Some people have a seriously hard time with the strategy and timed nature of parts collecting (sorry Matt…)
- My Feels: This game is some of the most interesting gameplay I’ve experienced. Set a timer and grab up parts to build a ship. There are requirements and limitations about which parts can go where, but as time ticks away, things get frantic (and swearing abounds). Then, send your ship out to collect goods, make deliveries and (hopefully) avoid slavers and asteroids. The strategy in this game is about deciding what you find important for your ship: guns, shields, engines or crew. It’s important to decide early, because you have a limited time to collect parts, and any number of cards could come up to make you immediately regret the decision. This game is slightly hard to find on shelves, but luckily (at time of writing) is still fairly available online.
Dead of Winter
- Plaid Hat Games
- Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game, the first game in this series, puts 2-5 players in a small, weakened colony of survivors in a world where most of humanity is either dead or diseased, flesh-craving monsters. Each player leads a faction of survivors with dozens of different characters in the game. Dead of Winter is a meta-cooperative psychological survival game. This means players are working together toward one common victory condition – but for each individual player to achieve victory, he must also complete his personal secret objective. This secret objective could relate to a psychological tick that’s fairly harmless to most others in the colony, a dangerous obsession that could put the main objective at risk, a desire for sabotage of the main mission, or (worst of all) vengeance against the colony! Certain games could end with all players winning, some winning and some losing, or all players losing. Work toward the group’s goal, but don’t get walked all over by a loudmouth who’s looking out only for his own interests! Dead of Winter is an experience that can be accomplished only through the medium of tabletop games. It’s a story-centric game about surviving through a harsh winter in an apocalyptic world. The survivors are all dealing with their own psychological imperatives, but must still find a way to work together to fight off outside threats, resolve crises, find food and supplies and keep the colony’s morale up. Dead of Winter has players making frequent, difficult, heavily- thematic, wildly-varying decisions that often have them deciding between what is best for the colony and what is best for themselves.
- Pros: ZOMBIES; Co-Op gameplay with an individual twist; Well-Balanced player vs board difficulty; Variety in characters, abilities and objectives; The Crossroads cards add an awesome twist to standard turn progression and narrative value
- Cons: ZOMBIES; Bleak theme; Very tense/stressful at points; Slightly rules heavy; Hops in and out of print more than a Bill O’Reilly book in Texas [What does that even mean?]
- My Feels: Even mentioning that you own this game around a community of gamers might result in serious mob justice, like being the girl that caught Justin Bieber’s sweat rag while he climbed aboard his tour bus. This game has a serious following, which is impressive since it is still quite new (in the grand scheme of things). However, it has such limited print runs that at any given time it will be around 100+ dollars online. I got lucky getting this one and have only played it twice, but good God, I love this game. It has narrative value, creative gameplay, randomized events that shift everything, and even the possibility of a traitor! That last bit is probably my favorite, because the chance that there will be a traitor is actually shockingly low. There are two non-traitor secret objectives per player placed into the deck and one traitor objective. they are shuffled, and each player draws one objective card. This means that if you are playing with 5 people, there is only about a 9% chance of there being a traitor. But both times I played we were all CERTAIN that one person was a traitor. The group quickly singles someone out and turns on them, which is hilarious to me, but probably really hurtful to that person. Bah, whatever. The dauntingness of the game comes from the fact that the rules, though short, can be slightly complex. Also, just personally, the rulebook is not very well laid out, so finding a rule can be difficult if reference is needed. Also, this is not a game for people who like to win. I lost both times I played. What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment.
- Space Cowboys
- As a wealthy Renaissance merchant, acquire mines and transportation, hire artisans and woo the nobility. Create the most fantastic jewelry to become the best-known merchant of them all! Acquire precious stones to trade them for development cards. Use development cards to acquire more gem stones. Use your gems and gold to create the most fantastic jewelry, and appeal to the nobles to gain the prestige you need to win.
- Pros: Low theme, quick gameplay; Easy to jump in; Supports multiple play styles and strategies; Quality parts (chipcs and cards)
- Cons: Very low luck; Little to no theme or narrative; Resource/Money gathering (can shy people away)
- My Feels: I have only played this game once, and though I lost (seems to be a theme….) I rather enjoyed it. It isn’t as complex or time demanding as the other games on this list, and plays extremely quick. However, despite only taking my group probably the better part of 20 minutes, it was an enjoyable time with highs and lows. We laughed. We cried. We lost to Allison, who seriously… probably can’t even spell Splendor… (Boom, shots fired). It’s refreshing to have a short game that is exactly that: Short. I watched maybe 4 other games get played that week, and each one was significantly quick. Too often games will bill themselves as being fast (Muchkin, Flux, etc.) but can on occasion take an hour or longer. Another thing I liked about Splendor is that each player comes in with a different strategy, and they honestly all work. No one strategy appears to be better than any other. Will you shoot for cheap properties and build up resources that way, or save up and buy the properties with heavy Victory Points. Splendor’s light nature and quick play may shy some people away, and by no means would this be a focal point for a game night. It also lacks any sense of theme or narrative, beyond the pictures and whatnot, so if something with deeper character is your swerve, then this might not be for you. Also, it is in its very essence a strategy game, with very few chances for luck to win out.
Sentinels of the Multiverse
- Greater Than Games
- A mad scientist holds the world hostage with his terrifying inventions. An alien warlord from a far away galaxy brings his limitless army of bizarre minions to conquer the planet. A giant rampaging robot cuts a swath of destruction across the coast, destroying major population centers. And who will stand in their way? A team of heroes, all with impressive powers and abilities stand between the world and the forces of evil. Will you help them? Answer the call to protect the multiverse!
- Pros: Fun, Superhero Theme; Creative and Balanced “Player vs Board” Mechanics; Variety and Replayability in multiple heroes, villains and expansions
- Cons: Card/Deck based; Quite difficult; Superheroes but not DC or Marvel (some cheesiness in costumes/powers/names); Art isn’t great on the cards (imo)
- My Feels: I LOVE Sentinels. I have played it a ton and have sold it to a ton of people just through my general rantings about how much fun it is. This is easily my favorite co-op tabletop experience. It is also one that is very consistent: rarely has my group had a playthrough that wasn’t challenging and enjoyable. Card and Deck based, which could scare people away, but it doesn’t have the deck-building element that can often make card-based games daunting. The decks are laid out and really well balanced against the incredibly challenging villain decks. Each player grabs up a hero and you challenge a villain in a specific environment. The environment is where things get fun. Instead of “Player against Board,” this game becomes more “Player vs Board vs Also the Board.” The Environment deck balances the field a bit between player and board, but indiscriminately buffing/hampering/damaging hero and villain. It’s tense, the turns are exciting, strategy involves all players equally, and even losing is still an enjoyable time. This is yet another game that is not for those who do not like to lose. Some of the villain decks are incredibly messed up (I’m looking at you, Matriarch). Also, don’t believe the time marking on the side. Game says it takes 60 mins, but can easily take hours. Just depends on how many players and which villain(s) you take.
So, those are games I’ve played recently that I’ve found super fun. I have played plenty of others and maybe I’ll post a few more. Who knows. Anything is possible.