£499 has to be a typo surely? £49.99 sounds more reasonable, albeit still slightly overpriced for a few bits of plastic?
There’s nothing cooler than board games at the moment, whether they are being referenced by the Marsh family in South Park, or popularised by one of the pop-up gaming bars in East London. Board games are now selling in droves. Often produced by independent companies, they can be intellectually rigorous and visually stunning. …
> £30-40 for a few bits of cardboard and plastic
Ah, thus speaks someone who is completely clueless about game design and production.
Games like these are very often several years in the making, they have been designed, Alpha Tested, redesigned, repeatedly Beta Tested, blind play-tested etc long before they even get to the production phase.
Then you need to get the artwork done for the box, board, cards etc, rulebooks written and checked and that's all before you get into actual production of these elements.
Of course if you're going for your own custom plastic playing pieces instead of generic wooden cubes or whatever, you've got a load of outlay for injection moulding.
And even once you've done all that, you're still taking a big financial risk, for every Settlers of Catan, there's a dozen other games that just didn't make it for whatever reason and you need to cover that financial outlay somewhere along the line otherwise you'll just be another game production company that went bust.
If he likes that, try him on Braggart. Utterly stupid game, but funny. Even competitive people tend to play it more for laughs than points. Although I think it really needs at least 4 players. And the game aspect seems to work properly too, even when you do play for points.
How about some other suggestions via el reg users themselves?
Personally I'd probably recommend Descent Journeys in the dark. Many hours wasted playing that game, and much hatred towards the game master at the end. It's pretty much the same as the star wars game on page 3 by the look of it.
Dune was a fantastic game (as were most from Avalon Hill), but took too long to play with 5 and takes new players a while to learn it especially if they are not familiar with the book. It's also out of print.
Another old and simple card game is Nuclear War - used as a filler between games. Each player plays a country - last person with a living population wins.
Great modern games I play are Puerto Rico, Caverna, PowerGrid, Agricola, Le Harve, Terra Mystica, Ora et Labora, Steam, Princes of Venice. A good introductory card game is Dominion, the new filler. Simpler games Ticket to Ride, Fury of Dracula and Settlers.
See boardgamegeek.com for full details on all the games including pictures of the game, arguments about rules, how to play videos etc.
Dune (or, if you can't get the original, buy Rex which is the same game, but with the serial numbers filed off and a new paint job and log book) is great, but it's a "play for the whole of an afternoon and then some" more often than not game.
To your "simpler" (ie good for family play) list I'd add Discworld: Ankh Morpork, Alien Frontiers, Stone Age and Alhambra to name a few more.
If you're after a game with a more adult theme to it and can be played at a table in a pub with no fuss, then look into Cards Against Humanity. As the website itself describes it, "an awful game for awful people".
Just don't come running to me if/when you get barred and/or lynched. >.>
I've played a lot of the Ticket to Ride games (and expansions). I'd say Europe with Europa 1912 expansion is the best for 3+ players. It can be a bit dull with 2, but the Switzerland map is good for 2-3 (and can be had on the back of India now, which it wasn't when I bought it). Africa, Asia, Nordic, and the other misc addons are ok*, but don't add that much over those 2.
* Please note that I don't own all of these, just happen to know a lot of people who have bought various expansions.
I also enjoy the Small World series by the same publishers, even my wife (who is not normally into fantasy games) will play it!
We had all the boards and card sets consolidated into one box before they release the Africa and Asia expansions. Now we need a bigger box. Same for PowerGrid.
I'm surprised none of the Rails (or as we call the game "Crayons") made the list. The original is British Rails making it highly appropriate for El Reg. Although I find Eurorails plays better. Mechanic is you deliver goods from one city to another with your train. You draw your train track on the board with a crayon paying the appropriate costs. You can also upgrade your trains. There's a Martian equivalent from another company and you may be able to find a Fantasy version on e-Bay or similar sites.
Also, if you like Stone Age, try Agricola.
Some other random thoughts:
- Through the Ages
- Race for the Galaxy
- Russian Railroads
- Seven Wonders
If you're into more complicated games
- Call of Cthulhu
- Thurn and Taxis
- Merchants of Venus (old version not the new one even though you'll have to buy them as a set)
If you're into truly vicious backstabbing games:
If you're into mindless fun
- Any Munchkin game
- Any Fluxx game
If you're into insanely long games
- Titan (might not be published any more)
- War in the Pacific
And a book type game with where that is just plain luck:
- Tales of the Arabian Nights
We've also recently tried a game called Clash of Cultures, that looks promising but needs some rules clarifications.
I recommend the Seafarers expansion for Catan, but not Knights and Cities, which turns it into a war gamers game instead of an economic competition game.
My favourite board game as a kid (and first acquired after becoming entangled with the copy owned by the kid over the road) was "Escape from Colditz". I still have it, and it's had a high-profile new lease of life since my own kids discovered it (particularly my youngest) — it's now top of the list when cracking something open for the table top. I still love it.
That's often the problem... I love board games and was a huge fan of the avalon bookcase games but they tend to be long and complex and people are less willing to invest an evening (or two) for a board game.... that said I recently discovered several friends willing to (eager even) to come and play with my Scalextric set so perhaps games aren't such a big leap... I shall broach the subject over Christmas dinner :)
The main problems with Escape from Colditz are 1) if you're playing it with someone being the Germans, they get to listen in to all your plans which is hardly realistic and 2) it's possible for you to spend ages assembling the bits for your escape and then someone go for a "Do or Die" (I think that's what it was called) escape attempt, succeed and all your hard work is wasted.
Ok, it may be "realistic" as regards what actually happened, but it's not necessarily always good fun.
Not sure about the inclusion of Hunters and Gatherers as while it's a fair game it's the one that I've seen so many times abandoned or thrown into charity shops and even my copy has been barely touched and is almost pristine. It's not a patch on the main Carcasonne game and has a few flaws that once you've sussed the tactics tend to ruin the game.
excellent 2-4 player for under £20
The mix of strategy and luck makes it probably the best 2 player game I know; we have rattled up more than 200 games in the last 12 months (last years Xmas pressie).
good review here: http://www.shutupandsitdown.com/blog/post/review-castles-burgundy/
Carcasonne (original) is very good too, but we hold two tiles in hand (pick 2 to start with, play one, pick another) to increase the strategy and reduce the luck.
Big fan of Acquire too but is probably out of print.
Don't touch 'All creatures' 2-player mini-game offshoot of Agricola, it is probably the most boring game ever made. (Yes, even worse than Agricola!)
Axis and Allies? You can't be serious. That game is seriously flawed. Only the PC version is flawed enough that anyone can win against the computer. If you play against a person, it's the 'Merkins all the way and Germany doesn't have a chance.
An oldie but a goodie. Relatively simple concept but it's a hell of a lot of fun. Not sure if it's still available or not but if so well worth grabbing.
If you're not already familiar with it, you have a number of boards that you connect up that contain multiple paths to get to the other side of each board, with lots of traps and conveyor belts etc . Each turn the players have a number of directional movement cards they can program into their robots to move them along in addition to the movement of the conveyor belts to take into account. The hilarity ensues as players accidentally (or more often deliberately) push others onto different squares as the 'pre-programmed' movements still take effect.
An awesome way to waste a few hours, and c'mon... card-programmed robots? Awesome!
RoboRally suffers from the problem that if someone's good at programing, they can generally get streets ahead of everyone and have virtually won the game whilst others have barely got out of their starting positions because they keep falling into holes or getting zapped by lasers etc.
It works if everyone is on a similar level of skill, but if not it can be very frustrating for those who get stuck at the start.
The huge temptation with Roborally is to get out lots of boards and then string out a massive course across them all, tucking the checkpoints into fiendishly-hard-to-reach places to boot. Whereas to my mind the BEST games tend to take place when all the checkpoints are easy to get to and the route weaves back and forth across the middle of a mere one or two, fairly-easy-to-navigate boards. That way any lead player is forever having to negotiate his or her way past the rest of the field, who also get the chance to influence the outcome. Oh - and ditch the rule about number of lives; having your robot destroyed is quite enough penalty, and no social game needs a player elimination rule unless it's vital to the game.
Jenga? I understand it's used as a drinking game in some locales, so yes, that's good. I prefer Talisman* because it is quick and easy to learn, provides lots of entertainment (especially when characters get turned into toads!), and can be abandoned mid-game for use in endless who-would-have-won conversations later.
* The actual board game. The computerized version is a nice effort but just isn't the same thing.
Depends why you play games. There's nothing at all wrong with Go or Chess if you play games for the intellectual challenge above all, but if you want a pleasant social gathering with a group of friends of mixed backgrounds and tastes, where the games aren't necessarily trivial but the company and the personal interactions are also a huge part of the pleasure, neither Go nor chess is going to fit the bill very well. Whereas there are a huge number of very good, mostly commercial games out there that would - but equally that most people have never even heard of (and, sadly, are unlikely to even come across, precisely because of the "board games are just for Christmas with the kids" idea that still seems so prevalent).
The spinoffs- hunters and gatherers and ark of the covenant are not a patch of the full game... Particularly not with a full set of expansions (well, not catapult or wheel of fortune... too random).
A full set has over 200 tiles and takes several hours, there's a lot of politics around who you attack with your towers, who you can talk into making a different move that advantages you...
Small world with the expansion (also available on android) is an idea starter game (and if you get it on a tablet, an idea pub/waiting for train/on train/pub again waiting for people type game), it takes about 5 minutes to learn the rules (there are only really 3...), and a total beginner can get lucky with a race and do surprisingly well and want to keep playing, even if they drop back to not doing so well in the next few games...
If you can get it, try Flibbix. You build the track then play using cards so every game is different. Unfortunately you might not get it before Christmas if you are in the UK as I had to order mine from the US. I haven't managed to play it yet (no visits from grandkids/neices/nephews yet) but it has great potential! Also you can customise it to suit different ages with special 'DIY' cards and you are encouraged to vary the rules to suit (in fact you write the rules before you start as well as build the board) so if you don't like a rule you can change (or even not use) it.
All of these questions, and many more, can be answered by browsing www.boardgamegeek.com
It has a database of over 74000 games, and a huge knowledgebase of information There are forums for every game, strategies, photos galore, a marketplace and a thriving community. There are plenty of good games to be had for £20 or less, so don't think the above examples are exhaustive.
Health warning: a high percentage of board gamers are in the IT industry so visit the site at your own risk...
I would recommend look at forbidden desert or forbidden island (both by the same designer)
They have the advantage that they are cooperative, so you actually play together against the game, rather than against each other. (and forbidden desert has a cool little plastic airship you build as the game progresses, which kids seem to love)
For a cheap quick cardgame there's Munchkin or Braggart. Both are quite silly/fun, although Braggart at least probably wants more than 2 players.
Another multi-player cheapy cardgame is No Thanks. It's quick, so if you cock it up you soon get another go to get your revenge. It's a reverse auction where you're paying to not get bad cards, but eventually have to take something nasty - lest you end up with worse. Again though, not 2 player, needs bigger groups.
There's a bunch of cooperative games. Flashpoint (firemen), Outbreak (fighting plague) or back to being stupid there's Red November - where you're drunk gnomes trying to save your sinking nuclear sub. Co-ops are good as teaching aids, as it's you against the system, and it's not so bad losing, as you lose together. The danger is that players can find themselves dominated, and effectively being told what to do, if they're not careful. Which becomes dull.
Ticket to Ride is always regarded as a popular starter game. I don't know if you can still get the old games like Spacehulk, but things like that and Bloodbowl with nice minatures are fun.
Claustrophobia is good. You've got nice pieces, it's two player one as the goodies and one as the demonic dungeon master. And you build the map as you play, as well as having at least ten different scenarios. So it's got good replayability. And what's not to like about slaughtering knights with hordes of demons...
I'll suggest Castle Panic - or one of the other 'Panic' varieties as a possible. Cooperative so its the family/friends against the game, but with scoring so that there can still be a winner/best player (a bit of competition is a good thing).
Gets you into thinking a turn or two ahead, but without the infinite possibilities of chess etc.
Also as a cooperative, it can be played single player (or single player and befuddled/newbie adults)
I'do not realised, you can still get a truly brilliant game. It's called Bausack.
It's great because it works on so many levels. It's basically a bag of wooden blocks. With which you have to build a tower. You can either play with kids to build the highest tower, or as a nasty game where you have to pay to get rid of really difficult pieces. But you're in trouble once you run out of money, because your friends can lumber you with the worst pieces. However this is when the game gets better. Even the worst pieces have at least one flat spot so it's possible to build ludicrous towers, when everyone expected you to go out several rounds ago.
There's a couple of other games as well. This game brings out the inner child who wants to build blocks in most adults. So while the gamers are enjoying the auction side of things, non-gamers just hav3 fun playing Bob the Builder.
Eight-minute Empire is a wonderful game that we've just got. If, like me, you think Risk is too often (read: always) decided by the initial army placement, followed by 2+ hours of grind, 8-minute Empire is its antidote. Enough skill and strategy required that adults can play and not be bored, but the mechanics are simple enough and there's enough luck involved that our 8-yo can play with us and not always end up last.
Love Letter is an intriguing card game. Once said 8-yo got over the name, he really enjoys playing it.
Original Carcassonne (ours came with the Rivers expansion) and Ticket to Ride also get an upvote from me.
More child-oriented fare are: Labyrinth, and Hey! That's My Fish.
If you've got a few spare hours, Wil Wheaton's Tabletop series is on Youtube, and is head and shoulders above any other videos-about-board-games you'll catch on there.
If not, boardgamegeek is a Ronseal-esque forum.
A good one for people that like word games is Bananagrams.... takes seconds to learn and can be handicapped to level the playing field (I have a self-imposed 4-letter mimimun when I play 'er indoors). We take it on holiday as it beats playing cards in those timeouts in reception. It's also only about a tenner from Amazon and doesn't need a board, just a flat surface.
There are tons of very good games out there now -- clearly the author of this piece likes his miniatures games, which do hew towards the expensive end of the market. If you're looking for extremely cheap but interesting games for Christmas, try:
* Dobble, a quick card game of visual acuity
* Love Letter, a hidden-identity game of smuggling a love letter to a princess
* The Resistance, an accusatory hidden-identity game of rooting out the spies in your cadre
* King of Tokyo, where everyone plays giant monsters laying waste to that metropolis
* Articulate, a decent and snappy variant of charades
If you want something a bit more in-depth than a family game, but lighter weight than many of the options here (Carcassonne and Settlers are lightweight, the others not so much), have a look at:
* 7 Wonders, multi-award winning card drafting game that plays extremely quickly
* Dominion, a card game where you build a deck through the course of the game to give your deck interesting new powers, and hopefully victory points, as you expand your kingdom
* Libertalia, a game of choosing pirate characters to win you the most booty without getting stabbed by your neighbour
If you're looking for something long and in-depth, I would recommend:
* Agricola, the best game. It's a worker-placement game where you compete to build the best farm, with a great mix of strategic planning and ruthless opportunism. And cows.
* Twilight Struggle (2 player only): a long, deep world-spanning game for domination and influence set during the Cold War years. Not complicated to play but looooooooong.
* Battlestar Galactica: if you loved the recent TV show this is worth a go around but be prepared for a 3h time investment.
... and here are the omnipresent games in boardgame stores I would avoid at all costs:
* Pandemic: "co-operative" yawn-a-thon. Might be entertaining the first time you play but it's effectively a 1-player game
* Munchkin: tedious D&D parody that takes far too long
* Zombies!!!: there are much better zombie games out there
I'd say Articulate is mostly for adults as you need a fair bit of general knowledge for the 'people' and 'places' categories. Every time we play I have to watch 'er indoors like a hawk cos if she has used her one allowed 'pass' she tends to make up her own (that she knows) rather than what's on the card (that she doesn't). A similar one is Outburst which causes lots of child-like bickering when items on the list are disallowed because the *exact* answer is not given (e.g. disallowing "pen" for "10 items found in a Bank" when the listed answer was "pen ON A CHAIN"). Both games are great fun and cause lots of laughs at some of the rubbish prompting in Articulate especially when you pit men against women.
When picking up Dominion sets, make sure you don't mistakenly pick up Domaine instead. We saw Domaine before we saw Dominion and purchased it. It was such a horrible gaming experience we avoided Dominion until a friend showed us it was a different game.
I have to disagree about Pandemic. Whether it's a yawner or tough depends on how you configure the start.
MMV for Munchkin, especially when you start mixing decks.
Betrayal is a great game, starts off co-op scooby doo style, friends exploring a house together. Ends up with one player Betraying the others! With 50 different scenarios, and a random house every time, plenty of re-playability can be had. The betrayer / the event and the house are all unknowns at the start, also when the haunting happens, the betrayer has their own set of rules, the heros (remaining players) have their own set of rules.
Nice to see board games mentioned here, it's a shame that the majority of them seemed to be dungeon crawlers/tactical warfare kind. You missed out the worker placement games; the card drafting games; the deck builders; etc. etc.
As others have mentioned, head over to boardgamegeek.com to have your eyes truly opened as to what is out there!
Oh, and being a massive board gamer I resent being labelled a 'hipster'. :-P
Diplomacy, as a YouTube poster memorably stated, is a mechanism to remove friends whom you no longer like from your life masquerading as a game.
I have just recently played an online Diplomacy tournament. Well, tournament might be stretching it a lil', more a competitive game with players from the same forum.
It's wonderful that board games are undergoing something of a resurgence, even though there have been a number of fantastic games over the last 15 years (very barren prior to that, beyond the odd couple of titles). The 80s were a halcyon time for nascent computer gaming and role-playing, but terrible for what constituted board games. The saving graces were Blood Bowl and Fury of Dracula (the latter, I still have in excellent condition - mainly unplayed for 25 years).
What is impressive is the sheer range and diversity of board-games that are available - plenty of gateway games beyond the odd couple that are always recommended to choose from, dependent upon group, mechanic, and interest.
One of the reasons I got back into board-gaming this year (after a 2 year hiatus from my first few LoB sessions) is because I wanted an activity more interactive that could involve the whole family (families - mine and my fiancees), as well as any potential children in a few years. Whilst I enjoy the staple card-games (not to mention proper Mahjong), board-games have evolved tremendously from the crap I played as a child (Game of Life, Pass the Pigs, Yahztee, etc). There is more to board-games than Monopoly, Risk (Risk Legacy is worth playing if you still enjoy Risk) and Trivial Pursuit.
Hipster pursuit? Like craft beer, don't let the demographic put you off enjoying an engaging activity - especially if you can slip in Diplomacy-esqe back-stabbing wrapped up in the form of family gaming e.g Survival: Escape from Atlantis, Lifeboats, etc.
I shall have to get my knife sharpened; I haven't played postal Diplomacy for over 25 years and it's the one game that I do miss. And the slow deadlines makes for very interesting off-table interactions.
I must see if some of the old postal crowd are still active or even alive; even if it's for eMail based games.
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