As I mentioned in my mid-year update, a new game store, Battleground Games, opened up close to our place, so our tabletop game collection has exploded this year. My husband and I have obtained so many new games and have gotten to try out new ones with friends, it’s difficult to say which is my most favorite. Here are 5, in no particular order, that I have especially enjoyed so far this year.
- Firefly. If you’re a fan of Firefly and Serenity, then you must try the tabletop game from Gale Force Nine. One play-through of the game was enough to make it abundantly clear that this is a game made by true fans of the show. The game is a moderate sandbox game. The story cards guide the action, but you are pretty much free to complete the story goals in whatever manner works for you–completing jobs, smuggling, and of course, misbehaving. There’s even a one player mode that allows you to cruise the ‘verse on your own. Game play is a little long, so block out about 2-3 hours for play time. We loved this one so much that we picked up every expansion and booster available for it. Block out an afternoon, make sure you’ve got a big table (because the big black ain’t small), cruise the ‘verse, and keep flying. The base game is for 1-4 players, but with expansions and boosters, you can play with up to 7 people.
- Lords of Waterdeep. Lords of Waterdeep from Wizards of the Coast is a fantastic melding of a Euro-style board game with a Dungeons & Dragons theme. The game play is simple, and is fun for those who don’t necessarily like Dungeons & Dragons, but enjoy Euro-style games like Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride. We played this one at a game night and I taught 3 other ladies who aren’t D&D fans, but enjoy Euro games how to play. I got beat pretty badly. The game play centers on agent/worker-gatherer style supply collection, quest completion, and end of game bonuses based on which Lord you secretly are. This is a great one for fans of light to moderate strategy games and can be played with 2-5 players. The Scoundrels of Skullport expansion adds a sixth player and several other game mechanics as well. That one is on my birthday list. The other thing I love about this game is that the box makes it super easy to pack everything away in a neat and orderly fashion. My OCD tendencies about game pieces are extremely satisfied every time I put the game away. Game play is usually around 45-75 minutes, depending on the number of people playing. Great for a quicker game.
- Shadows Over Camelot. One of my best friends celebrated his 30th birthday this year with a 2-day tabletop gaming marathon. The first game we broke out for the marathon was Shadows Over Camelot by Days of Wonder. If you’re a fan of Arthurian
legend, this game will be a lot of fun for you. You play as King Arthur and 6 of his knights of the round table. It’s a cooperative game with a loyalty aspect. Every player is dealt a player card and a loyalty card to start. Each knight/King Arthur has a unique special power and the loyalty cards are kept secret until you are accused of treachery. If you’re the traitor, you covertly try to make the missions of the round table fail. There are many ways to lose this game, and only one way to win. The game ends when each of the 12 slots on the round table is full of swords or evil has conquered. If there is a majority of white swords, the good side wins, but if there is a majority of black swords, evil wins. Earn white swords by completing quests, such as getting Excalibur, the Holy Grail, defeating the Picts and Saxons, jousting, slaying dragons, etc. The catch is that you must progress evil each turn, be it through drawing an evil card, adding a siege engine (catapult), or losing a health point. This is a fantastic co-op game, and the loyalty aspect really adds a nice touch. Every time we have played, my husband has been King Arthur and oddly enough, has also been the traitor! This is 3-7 player game, but we have modified it to play with 2 players. It’s a longer game, so set aside at least 2 hours for play and make sure you’ve got a big play area. I recommend playing it with Monty Python and the Holy Grail playing in the background. Everyone ends up quoting the film during game play anyway.
- King of Tokyo. King of Tokyo from IELLO is a great game for kids and adults alike. It’s simple to learn and play and can be played in as little as 30 minutes. Each person chooses to play as a Godzilla style monster: The King, Alienoid, Kraken, Giga Zaur
(looks like a scarier version of Reptar from Rugrats), Meka Dragon, or Cyber Bunny, and tries to become the King of Tokyo by either killing all the other monsters or gaining 20 victory points, whichever occurs first. Roll the 6 custom dice to either gain victory points, energy cubes, heal, or deal damage. You get 2 rerolls per turn. Use your energy cubes to buy monster cards, which give you special powers or abilities, some are temporary and some last for the entire game. I love this game because the monsters and monster cards all crack me up with their sense of humor. My favorite card is the “Extra Head” card, which allows you to roll an extra die each turn for the rest of the game. The game was created by Richard Garfield, the mastermind behind Magic: The Gathering. King of Tokyo has earned numerous awards since its release 4 years ago, so not only do I think it’s fun, a lot of other people agree with me. This game is fun for serious and casual gamers alike. We also purchased the Power Up! expansion, which adds an extra Monster (Pandakai), and a power up deck for each monster, full of temporary and permanent “evolution” cards, which give your character special powers temporarily or the rest of the game. You earn these by rolling 3 hearts, plus you can still use the hearts for healing purposes. King of Tokyo is a great game for anyone, so be sure to add it to your collection.
- Xia: Legends of a Drift System. Ryan and I visited Battleground Games one night and got to play this one and make a new friend. If you like what I’ve told you about the Firefly board game, you’ll love Xia. Xia is a full-on sandbox game. It’s for 3-5 players. You play to a pre-determined amount of Fame Points, and literally can do whatever you want to get those fame points. You can explore new systems (the board changes every time you play due to the nice interlocking pieces), deliver people and cargo, smuggle, rob, fight, sell things, upgrade your ship, literally just about whatever you want. The pieces for this game are phenomenal. Everything is really sturdy, and several pieces are actually metal instead of plastic resin. This game was created through Kickstarter at the end of 2014, so our friend actually had the kickstarter edition. The first printing sold out immediately, so if you want one right now, check online. The game can take as long as you want it to, so get a big table, a couple of friends, and have fun.
These are 5 of my favorite tabletop games this year. What have you been playing? What’s on your want list? Anything you’d recommend to me? I’d love to hear your favorite games.
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