You’ve read the reviews, viewed the Watch it Played videos, eagerly waited for it to be released in the UK and there it is, sat in front of you, a box covered in smooth cellophane wrapping. You peel off the wrapping and gingerly lift the lid. The box sighs as the air seeps in. You’re presented with neat rows of glossy cards, shiny tokens and colourful dice.
4 confusing hours later you’ve packed it all up and put the box on the shelf with the rest of the games, never to be touched again. It sits there, abandoned with a look of resentment on its artwork “Stupid human. How can you not enjoy me? I’m glorious!”
Luckily I’ve only had one box sitting on the shelf looking at me with resentment, which is a pretty mean feat considering it doesn’t have eyes. Thankfully Munchkin has been sent on its merry way to a charity shop with the rest of the abandoned toys. Say hi to Woody!
I thought it was about time I wrote about board games again and wanted to compliment my first foray into board games and my Board Game Resources list with a run down of what I’ve enjoyed, been baffled by and designated to the Pile of Shame over the past year.
Tetris vs quilts. It’s a bit of a strange concept, even for board gaming. How do you make building a quilt into a competitive, engaging game? But it works! It’s a quirky, two player game with simple rules. You have to fit together randomly-shaped patches to fill up your quilt leaving as little space as possible, manage your number of buttons to buy new pieces and try to steal pieces your opponent might want before they get to them. Patchwork is really enjoyable and if you are going to buy one game this year I would recommend this.
Ticket to Ride
I bought Ticket to Ride after being recommended the 10th Anniversary edition. It comes with a huge, colourful board and little trains - some of which hold tiny giraffes. So adorable! You basically collect trains to claim railways across America. You have destination tickets and score bonus points for connecting cities, or you can just block your opponent in a complete dick move. Either way I completely suck at this game. I don’t know what it is about collecting adorable giraffe trains but they have yet to bring me any luck. Which means it’s become a Ticket to Urghh. One for the kids, you know in 10 years time when they’re old enough not to choke on those evil giraffes. Now that is planning for the future.
“Wait what? This isn’t a board game! It’s a Role Playing Game!” I hear you shout. Well if you know it’s an RPG then you probably don’t need me to tell you about it. Move along, move along. If you’ve never tried an RPG before then I highly recommend giving this a whirl. It’s relatively simple to pick up, has a fairly short play time and is completely bonkers. Oh, and it comes with a Sean Bean quest variant. The only downside I found, after a bad run of dice rolls, was trying to come up with many spectacular ways Keith the Goblin could fail at doing something as simple as walking up some stairs. If you decide to buy the PDF version you’ll need a sympathetic printer.
Cards, cards, beautiful cards! 400 to be exact and then 500 in the Base set I had to buy after I accidentally bought an expansion pack first. D’oh! To be fair it only said ‘expansion’ in tiny writing on the back of the box and the shop didn’t have the standard game. Forgive me fellow gamers!
But still that’s 900 cards to get my teeth into. If you like cards, shuffling cards and deck building then Dominion is the game for you. You collect cards, improve your cards, remove your cards, flip over tokens er… and cards. All the while fending of other Monarchs as you fill up your treasury, build castles and send out spies!
Roll for the Galaxy
If you’ve an aversion to cards then… dice, dice, beautiful dice! 111 to be exact and this time I bought the correct game. Ha!
If you like rolling dice, shaking dice, and -deck building- okay there’s no deck building but you do trade dice for cards which you collect to expand your -dominion- galactic empire all the while fending off other galactic emperors as you try to fill up your resources, colonise planets and send out space ships (dice)!
Another highly recommended yet slightly disappointing game. Collecting dice and expanding my card galactic empire is fun but I kind of wanted more interaction with other players other than guessing what they were going to do next. Maybe if I could send some dice over to their empire to nuke their dice.
Also Roll for the Galaxy has the loudest dice cups you’ll ever come across. It’s like your skull is being attacked by a hundred tiny, badly organised skeletons. Still, you can slam your cup down and shout in the voice of Thor “More Dice!” which is quite satisfying.
And the award for cutest artwork on a card goes to… Egg Nigiri! You and your friends will scramble for kawaii styled sushi as it passes on the conveyor belt (passing cards around) hoping to collect specific groups to score bonus points. It’s gameplay is original and fun however the main problem I had with it is that I bought Patchwork afterwards which is much more fun. Sorry Sushi Go! onto the Pile of Shame you go.
Dead of Winter
A good test for a game is whether you can start playing it at 8pm on a Friday night in a busy pub. By heck we gave it a try and we managed to survive spilled beer, drunken banter and a zombie apocalypse. I do remember thinking if we hadn’t won the game after a few hours of explaining, patiently waiting for slow players and manic quarterbacking I would have probably flipped the table. Although come to think of it the tables were quite hefty and it would have made a mess, so maybe not. Dead of Winter is a game you have to emotionally prepare for because there’s quite a high probability you will starve to death, get shot or worse: Sparky the Dog will get eaten. It’s got lots of scenarios to keep the game interesting but it is one you have to invest time into - even just setting the bloody thing up takes a while. It’s worth it though and is a really fun way to experience the zombie apocalypse.
And the rest...
On my radar for next year:
It certainly is a good time to be interested in board games.