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MNC DoverMNC Dover Full-time Voice ActorKirkland, WARegistered User regular
edited September 2016 in Games and Technology
Hey there! This thread is about board games. Let me tell you about them!

A different kind of board game is on the rise. Invading pop culture. Invading Target, Barnes and Noble, Toys R Us. Invading Penny Arcade itself.
There are brand-new games about dying in the desert:
or 20-year old card games getting new life:
or even family-friendly train games that stir something black in the soul:

This thread exists to convey one simple message: board games have come a long way since Monopoly and Risk.

Perhaps you’re looking for something for your lunch hour.
Perhaps you’re looking for something to play when you’re just hanging out with friends.
Perhaps you’re looking for something like chess but more fun for newcomers.
Perhaps you’re looking for an all-day simulation of the asymmetrical struggles of Europe during the Protestant Reformation.

No problem, gotcha covered. So without further ado, let me attempt to give you a barely-sketched outline of what is possible in cardboard, wood and plastic.

Oh, and watch out for that pig-flooping.

GREAT GAMES FOR JUST ABOUT ANYONE (especially those new to games):

Ticket to Ride
Quite possibly one of the best entry-level games. Draw cards into your hands, claim a route between two cities with your train cars by laying down same-color cards that match a route on the board. Simple, intuitive. Kids can grasp it, adults can play it more cut-throat and get into deeper strategies. Many versions have been made; they are pretty much all great, but check to see how many people can play. There’s also plenty of expansion maps, including a highly-rated Asia map for team play up to 6.

Trains, while having a similar theme to Ticket to Ride, is almost entirely different! Trains is a deck builder. That's not to say it's like Magic: the Gathering, but instead you build your deck during the game! Furthermore, there's a board you'll be playing on, trying to connect routes and build stations and block your opponents from doing the same. However, beware Waste! You generate waste when you build things and it clogs up your hand, taking up the space of more useful cards.

Another older game, which has aged well because of its short length and wide appeal. Pick up a tile, add it to the tiles already placed so that you match the road, castle, or field. You may optionally “claim” a road, castle, or field with one of your followers or “meeples”, which gives you points. A great, quick game for pretty much all ages, but it is especially good for a younger crowd.

Lords of Waterdeep
Newer game, but it has really made a splash. It’s a fairly light worker-placement euro that non-gamers (or minimal-gamers) really seem to enjoy. The “worker-placement” part is themed up as sending knights and wizards off to accomplish quests, and there’s even a bit of back-stabbery against the other players.

Forbidden Desert
An amazing little cooperative game that starts with formula that made Forbidden Island and Pandemic so popular, and then develops and improves that formula into something magical. You must explore and excavate tiles to find pieces of an airship, while a sandstorm moves the tiles around and dumps sand everywhere. Everybody has their own special ability, and they work together in amazing ways. Get all the parts, find the launch pad, GET TO DA CHOPPA, and escape to safety. But you'll probably die of thirst first. Great components, too.

Okay, so I'm done with those gateway games! What's everyone really into nowadays?

ChaosHat's picks!
Voyages of Marco Polo
In Voyages of Marco Polo you'll play as a historical trader looking to fulfill trading contracts and travel to the East. This game is a worker placement game that uses dice instead of standard workers. The die you place determines how effective your move is, put a one down at the camel stall at the market? Get one camel. Place a six? Get six camels! You'll be swimming in camels. High numbers carry their own disadvantage though. If your opponent places a die at the place you wanted to go to before you, you can still go there but you'll have to pay gold equal to the cost of your die. As you send your trader travelling and setting up trading posts, you'll gain new spaces to go to to get resources and points. Finally, each player will get their own special character with a unique and ridiculous power.

This 2-4 player card game has each player trying to make the best possible arboretum. On your turn you'll draw two cards, either from the draw deck or the discard piles of the players, or some combination of the two. Then you place a card from your hand adjacent to another tree in your arboretum. Be careful, once placed, your trees can't be moved around! Each tree type has eight cards numbered 1-8, and your goal is to make an increasing path of adjacent cards that also start and end with the same color (the colors in between can be of any color.) Then you discard a card and the next player takes their turn. The longer the paths, the more points you get. However, you need to reserve some cards in your hand for scoring. At the end of the game, you may only score one path of each tree type. The right to score that path is given to the player who has the highest total value of cards of that type in hand. You might have a really great path of Maple trees, but if your opponent has more Maple cards in hand at the end, you won't get any points! Excellent couples game.

Honorable mentions:
Roll for the Galaxy
Android Netrunner

ArcSyn's top two games of right now:
Fief: France 1429
Fief is probably the heaviest game in my collection, and the most expensive. Perhaps that's partly the cause of it placing on this list. Besides that, it is a fantastic game of diplomacy, strategy, and deception to control France and won favor for your family. It's got a bit of randomness, through card draws, disasters, and battle, but a lot of strategy to overcome and keep from falling behind. Alliances can be fleeting or binding, a powerful weapon or an anchor, and game-changing or ineffective. It's just a fun game and I love when I can get it to the table. Plays best with 5-6; though probably 5 is my preference. Takes about 3 hours to play, depending on your group.
In addition, there are many expansions u haven't even gotten to try yet to change up the game of it gets stale.

Flashpoint: Fire Rescue
I just recently renewed my love for this game after getting it to the table twice during vacation. It's a cooperative game of firefighting using action points for each turn. It can play simply for younger players or new learners or extremely complicated and difficult setups for experienced groups. Each player becomes a firefighter, and can even pick a specific role with extra rules for how they work, and try to rescue people from burning buildings. It's got a bit of randomness in setup and how the fire spreads.
In addition, there are many expansions out that add new buildings, roles, ships, and more that can keep the game fresh for any group for a while.

Honorable mentions:
Race for the Galaxy
Cosmic Encounter

JonBob's top two games of right now:
This was the big hit of Gen Con 2015, and for good reason. There's something in the water over in Czechoslovakia, as Vlaada Chvátil keeps churning out game after game, all awesome, but each as different as can be.
Codenames is a word guessing game, like Password. There are two teams, and each team has one "spymaster." The spymasters look at a 5x5 grid of nouns, and only they know which words belong to which team, and which word is the assassin. The spymasters' job is to give one-word clues to their team that match as many of their own words as possible, without matching the other team's words. And God forbid your clue matches the assassin! The brain-burniest "party game" you'll ever come across.

Zendo is a game played with Looney Pyramids (formerly known as Icehouse Pyramids). It is one of the few inductive reasoning games. Players construct small arrangements of pyramids, known as "koans," and try to extrapolate from these examples a hidden rule that only one player knows. Rules could be things like "contains at least one red pyramid," "has a pyramid stacked on another one," or "contains an odd number of small pyramids." More a puzzle than a game, but it's a really good puzzle, and often devolves into a co-op game as players just want to figure out the solution at all costs.

Honorable mentions:

iguanacus's top 2 game (right now)
Mundus Novus


A neat little trading game where everybody is 15th or 16th century Spanish traders, exporting goods from The New World back to markets in The Old. Two to six players and a playtime of about an hour. Very little downtime thanks to enforced back and forth trading every round keeping everybody involved. Just looking at the boxart makes me feel a longing for the sea, with the white foam of the waves reminding me of clouds, making the seas a mirror of the azure skies.

Viticulture and it's expansion Tuscany


Go grab a bottle of vino, put on your favorite Gianni Morandi or Mina record and relax, the vines are fine and the grapes don't have to be harvested for another... oh shit, somebody took the last spot! Viticulture is a great medium weight worker placement game for 2-6 playing out in about 90 minutes to 2 hours (less if you lay off the vino but screw that). Everybody is an owner/operator of a small Italian vineyard and winery. As the seasons pass you're doing the best you can to grow, harvest and sell your wine while the testa di cazzo to your right is taking all the good spots. Rules are all very straight forward and a great intro to worker placement IF the group is already familiar with modern boutique boardgaming. If this is for a complete newbie it's still great but it's got more moving parts than something like Stone Age or Lords of Waterdeep so keep the rules handy and maybe check out the Watch It Played video to get everybody on the same page.

Tuscany just makes a great game fantastic. Only add to the game after you've become very familiar with the base stuff, it's modular nature means that you should experiment (one at a time) to see what works for your group and play style. Once you've got a handle on what you like and don't like experiment with mixing 2 of the modules together. Also adds a hard as hell solitaire variant so you can play even if your all alone and can't get a second or third.

Drascin's two current favorite games:


Do you like fighting games? Do you like games that pair simple basic mechanics with massive tactical depth? If you answered yes to any of that, BattleCON is almost certanly going to be your jam.

BattlCON is an open-information dueling card game that imitates the fast-paced, tactical positioning game of fighting games like Street Fighter or Guilty Gear. The basic mechanics of BattleCON are simple - each beat (which are how BattleCON calls its turns) you pick a "Style" card and a "Base" card, and combine them into a single move, then compare it against your opponent and see what happens. And since at every point you know what options your opponent has, the more you play the more you transition from the equivalent of mashing buttons on your controller to a game of prediction and bluffing, "I know that you know that I know" and two-moves-ahead thinking - playing BattleCON is stupid easy, but mastering a character is something else altogether! And with a roster of literally dozens of characters, each one with completely different Style cards and passive abilities that modify their cards, the amount of options is incredible. The game's big box, Devastation of Indines, comes with thirty characters, support for six modes of play including normal duel, tag duel, singleplayer, multiplayer up to 4, co-op up to 4-vs-1, and special stages - if there ever was a big box that justified its price with amount of replayability, it's this one.



Now, there are a lot of point salad games in the world. But I don't think I've met any one of them that combined simplicity, engaging-ness (is that a word) and beautiful artwork as nicely as Seasons.

Basically, you and your fellow players (up to 4) are wizards competing to have the most crystals at the end of a tournament. And because when wizards go into a tourney they play for keeps, the tournament lasts three whole years, throughout which the seasons change. With each seasn change, the energy you can extract from the world changes - Water is on the rise in Winter, but good luck getting some Fire out of the snowed-in landscape. And this is important, because you need elemental energies to summon all sorts of amulets, items, and servants you will need to get those tasty crystals you so want, or to play havoc with the crystal reserves of all those other thin-bearded upstarts. All this, seasoned (pun not intended) with a really pretty, fairytale-ish presentation and beautiful artwork in the cards.

And it actually has a legitimately well thought out insert, to boot, where everything has a place and the pieces click in no problem without mixing. Which seems small, but after trying to make FFG's Descent work, believe me, you come to appreciate it.

Honorable mentions:
Android: Netrunner
Descent 2nd Edition (which I've been playing with my family lately)
Pixel Tactics

mysticjuicer: Let's do this favourite games thing
Yomi: Fighting Card Game

Yomi is a bluffing/risk-and-resource-management card game for 2 to 4 player that's inspired by fighting games like Street Fighter or Guilty Gear. Games take between 10 and 25 minutes. Every turn, players will draw a card, and play a combat card face down which is revealed simultaneously, and then combat is resolved following rock-beats-scissors-beats-paper rules. Each character is represented by a standard poker deck, with normals and command normals on the cards from 2 to 10, special moves on Jack, Queen, and King, and powerful super moves on their Aces. The cast includes a big variety of fighting game archetypes with grapplers, rushdown, vortex, and zoning characters all represented, and characters range from very easy to learn, to "I play blue in Magic" levels of complexity.

Fantastic 2 player game if you have a friend (or more) who you like to play competitive, head-to-head games with. I've played this game consistently for more than a year now, and am still learning more ways to improve, more subtleties in different match-ups, etc. It's a blast, and in spite of the strategic depth, can be taught in about 20 to 30 minutes. The game can also be played solo (akin to fighting bots in a fighting game), and in a 2v1 boss-fight mode, and a 2v2 tag-team mode.

The card art is near-universally fantastic, the cards are quality, and the game perfectly recreates the local multiplayer "got you now you OH MY GOD YOU DIDN'T JUST WAKE-UP SUPER ME YOU $#@&*!" moments that make playing fighting games against your friends so damn fun! If you'd like to give this game a shot without spending any money, send me a message and I'll gladly play some games with you online. :biggrin:

Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization

Through the Ages is an economic civ game for 2 to 4 players that's played without a map. It's without a doubt my favourite civ/econ game. Take your civilization from antiquity to the space age, vying for economic/industrial/military technology with your neighbors, as you try to eke out cultural advantage by the 19th or 20th turn to win the game. Games take between 4 and 5 hours, if you're playing the full game (as opposed to the simpler learning versions of the game).

Can you afford to let an advanced mining technology fall into your neighbors hands, or will you spend your whole turn's worth of actions to deprive her of it? Can you eschew military development to establish an unrivalled cultural engine, or will your neighbors sack and loot your incredible cathedrals and theatres? Do you have too much or too little food, or building resources? Are you in danger of revolt? Will a revolution turn your theocracy into a democracy, or a violently fundamentalist society?

The Agricola feeling of puzzling out the best possible use of your resources, the next available technologies that may turn up, strong combinations of buildings, leaders, and wonders, the pressure of having just one less food/stone/civil action makes this a really intense and really fun game. The value of the six resources in the game and how they change as the game moves from the 1st to the 4th age is really satisfying and evocative. The effect of military development and potential arms races on people's final cultural scores is similarly really evocative and feels right.

Guh! It's just so damn good, if you can deal with the game length and if you're into the economic-engine-but-that-guy-has-tanks feeling!

The Mantiz's top two games of right now:
This is my absolute favorite Eurogame right now. You are each given control of a little village full of hopeful pioneers and you have a year to expand your village and earn as many points as possible. Each season you are given a boat full of workers in different colors, and have to use them to bid for new buildings. But you also have to use these workers to activate the abilities of the buildings, and you have access to all the buildings on the table. Even the ones that your other players have already won. This creates a perfect combination of worker placement and bidding that will make your brain hurt from trying to figure out how to spend your workers in the best way.
This is also not your typical friendly eurogame where you just mind your own business and count out the points at the end. This game can be absolutely brutal, and players will fight for the best pieces and you will curse at the guy who just wanders over and uses your horse to transport his goods and leaves it too expensive for yourself to use.

Lords of Vegas
You know that guy who still wants to play Monopoly even though you have a large collection of wonderful designer board games? Make him play this. Lords of Vegas scratches that Monopoly itch with a fun mix of dice rolling, area control and trading. You play as casino owners in the early years of development in Las Vegas. You are each given a few empty parkinglots and some run-down liquor stores but you quickly start building sprawling casinos in different themes in their place. The main goal is to build casinos in the right theme, since each round starts with a card that determines what theme is going to pay out this round. So are you going all-in on the space theme and hope for that big pay-out or are you going to spread out the risk by making smaller casinos? You use six-sided dice to show your influence on the different casinos, and the die with the highest number is the current boss of the casino. But if you have enough money, you can re-roll all the dice in a casino and cause a total reversal of the powerstructure and become the owner of a casino that your friend spend a lot of time building. Or you can waste millions of dollars on giving your friend better numbers to the amusement of the whole group. But that's part of the fun of this game.
Lords of Vegas has totally replaced Monopoly for me, since it gives you the same feeling of expanding your empire and screwing over your friends, but plays within a reasonable timeframe and doesn't leave players hopelessly behind. And Lords of Vegas is an actual good game.

Honorable mentions:
Sheriff of Nottingham
Imperial Settlers
Star Realms
Click Clack Lumberjack

The old OP has a ton of recommendations too!

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