My top 10 board games from 2012
This past year I played a lot of board games. According to the wonderful web site www.boardgamegeek.com I tracked over 150 games played. Almost all of them through my local board gaming group. (Which we usually play the first Friday of the month and the third Sunday of the month).
There are different types of board games that I tend to categorize in.
Family: Games that younger ones can get involved in fairly easily (for me that means my teenage girls).
Geeky: Games that would take quite a bit of strategy development to enjoy.
Middle of the road: Games that rely on a balanced level of luck and strategy.
Luck: Games that rely more on luck, than strategy. (think of dice rolling games).
Party: Games specifically designed for larger groups of people in a fairly short amount of time.
Each of the games below has a link within the name that will take you to the boargamegeek.com site. Please feel free to check out the web page, there is a TON of information on just about any game you could think of. I visit it quite regularly looking mostly on how to play games. There are a lot of video reviews out there, which allow you to see the game itself and even possibly being played. You might even find my video review I have done!
My top 10
Name: The Resistance
Time: 20-30 minutes
This one snuck in at the last minute only because I got it right before Christmas. You are working with a resistance group that is ready to overthrow the government (future). However, in your group are spies who are trying to thwart your plans.
This is basically a deduction game where you are trying to figure out who in the group are spies. It has 5 rounds to play the game in, each round you send team members to the mission … if a spy ends up on the team, they have the potential of causing the mission to fail (so by figuring out who the spies are, you don’t vote them on to the team). Have played this in our last game group and it was a hit. I suspect it will be for a while.
Name: Incan Gold
Time: 20-30 minutes
You are a group of adventurers exploring caves. Every step of the way you are met with either a disaster or treasures. If you get caught in the caves when the disasters hit you, you lose everything. If you decide to leave before disaster strikes, you get to keep not only the treasure you have managed to accumulate in the cave up to that point, but get to split the rest of the treasures left behind (to that point) with those that leave at the same time as you.
The rewards go to those who wisely get out before disaster strikes or foolishly continue going into the cave, hoping to last longer than those that would come with you.
Name: Wits and wagers
Time: 30 minutes
Have you ever played those trivia games where you had to be a genius to pretty much win?
This is a new kind of trivia game where all the answers are numbers (no you don’t have to be a mathematician to figure them out). For example, how tall is the Eiffel Tower? Everyone would then write down there numerical answer, then you place all of the answers from smallest to largest. Afterwards, you then bet on which answer is the correct one (everyone gets tokens to bet with). The answer is revealed, and your prizes are awarded. Very fun party game that allows all to be involved.
Time: 30 minutes
“Had a bad day” could be the phrase that the story teller gives to the group. Everyone has to now choose 1 of the 5 picture cards in their hands to best match the phrase given. They place it face it down along with the face down card from the story teller. Cards are mixed up thoroughly then revealed. Each player now guesses which one was the story tellers card.
The story teller gets points for having at least one person, but not everyone guess. Each person that gets someone to vote for them also gets points.
The cards in this game are wonderfully created. Though I wouldn’t have them as art up on my wall, I love looking at them and interacting with them. (check the link above to allow you to go view some pictures)
Name: King of Tokyo
Time: 30 minutes
You are a godzilla type monster (or other very large creature) bent on destroying Tokyo and the other opponents. As one of the monsters, you have the option to defend your turf (tokyo) and earn as much points as you can before dying the horrible death or you can opt to stay out of Tokyo and beat up on the monster inside the city.
I can’t remember the actual way that this game works, but I remember each time I have played it, I have had a blast (even when losing).
Name: Ticket to ride
Category: Middle of the road
Time: 45 – 60 minutes
This is a train game. You are a train company owner who wants to connect as many cities as possible that have been selected from the “destination” tickets.You have the ability to thwart other opponents and beat them to the desired cities that have connections to where you (and they) need to go. The choices you have to play are simple: Either you get a new destination ticket to connect to OR you place down trains between cities OR you get new cards (that represent trains).
This is a very easy to pick up game and has been a huge hit with the family because of the ease of play. I have been able to use this game as a “gateway” game into some geekier games. Often this is asked for during our camping times and family gatherings.
Name: Race for the galaxy
Time: 30-60 minutes
This is a card game where you are an space adventurer exploring the vast expanses of the known (and unknown) galaxies. There are 5 options/roles that you select from. These roles are played out in a certain turn order (pre-determined). The option you secretly chose allows you a benefit that you get that others may not get.
There are a lot of symbols involved in this game and the first couple of times that this game was played, had some frustrating moments of searching through the rules to figure out what “that” symbol means vs. “this” symbol. But after you play a couple of times, the game is better understood.
The theme is good, the depth is better. Fairly quick “geeky” game to play once symbols understood.
Name: Dominant Species
Time: 3 hours
I played this game for the first time this past summer.
This was the first game I could think of where the game mechanics (the way you play the game) matches the theme of the game very well.
You are in a distant past on the planet where a great ice age is approaching. The goal? To simply survive the ice age by learning to adapt to the environment you are in. Survival of the fittest is easily seen in this game where if you can not adapt, you will cease to exist. There are many ways in which you can adapt which is the fun of the game. There is no “one” strategy, because it will depend on what comes up in the game that is in your area and what happens to the environment. Your mighty monkeys may soon fall prey to the dainty insects because they adapted well.
This is a long game to play. But worth it if you are into strategy games.
Name: Cosmic Encounter
Time: 60-90 minutes
This is a game I had heard about for a while, but wasn’t quite interested in it. Mostly because the game board ended up being each player with a set of planets to have little tiny alien ships on. I wanted more. I picked it up and quickly liked the game.
The core element of why you play is simple. You represent an alien race with the goal of populating other worlds with your aliens. Once you have populated (and maintained) alien colonies on 5 other worlds, you win.
The mechanics are fairly easy. You pick up a card that tells you to attack the red player. You then choose to send up to 4 spaceships from any of your colonies to a planet, you then enlist help from other races (they would get the benefit of colonizing as well if you succeed). The defender also gets to enlist help. Both the main attacker and defender will select a numbered card out of their hand that represents their attack power. Both are revealed at the same time and the number on the card combined with the number of ships you and your allies have come up to your total attack #. The highest attack wins.
You have a limited number of cards before you can re-supply so you must choose wisely. Also there are a LOT of aliens to choose from. Each race bringing in special abilities that can change the tide of what is going on.
This is a game where you constantly seem to be changing alliances to find out who can benefit the most from the relationships. Big hit with our gaming group.
Name: Star Wars: X-wing fighter
Category: middle of the road
Time: 30 minutes to 2 hours (depends on how deep you go)
Pew Pew Pew!
You can’t help but make that sound as you see these beauties come out of the package. Though this would be considered a “board game” it is more though of being a “miniatures” game. Why? It’s because you get very small replicas of some of the famous ships seen in the Star Wars universe. The base set comes with two tie fighters and one x-wing. The detail on these ships are incredible.
The board used is a 3 foot by 3 foot section of your table. (some have even made play mats that have the background of galaxies or planets to add to the overall theme).
Each ship can be outfitted with a certain skilled pilot. These pilots cost a certain amount of points. Each side of the galaxy (either the dark empire or the rebels) will have a determined amount of points to spend on pilots. Here, you are only limited by what you actually posses. This is where it can get spendy as you can continually buy more of the ships to add to your collection. A second wave of ships (including the Millennium Falcon) are on their way to the stores soon. Oh, did I mention that these ships are then mounted on tiny little sticks to give it a special effect of flying!?
Once you have spent your points and chosen your pilots and corresponding ships, you then place them on the edge of the map. For each ship, you will secretly choose which move it makes. In a certain turn order, each move is revealed then played. You also have options to make certain actions and then after all movement has been made, a round of firing.
The teams seem a little mismatched at first as the empire tends to have almost twice as many ships as the rebel alliance. However, the point system allows you to evenly match up against opponents (spend your points wisely).
Each time this was played, there was always a desire to play more. C’mon … it’s Star Wars and cool little ships. We even use spotify to bring up Star Wars themed music in the background while playing. And of course, everyone has to give the obligatory Darth Vader breathing sounds while playing and then the various quotes from the movies.
You must play this game!
Time: 3 – 4 hours
I love this game. It can be a very long game, but there is so much going on.
You are an alien race with the desire to make your fame known in the galaxy. There are 9 rounds that are played and then you count up your victory points and the highest points wins.
The game is complex however (but not so complex that you couldn’t pick it up after a few rounds). There is just so much to do in this game. If you desire, you can explore the galaxy to see what awaits you (it could be valuable resources to send back home to continue your economy) or it could be ancient aliens bent on defending the sector from you and any other space scum trying to take them on. You have the option to research technology that allows you benefits to further your empire. Each race has access to space ships, which you have the option to upgrade and make more powerful, or faster or defendable. You can also attack others or strongly defend portions of your known galaxy. Treaties are just about a must in this game as they allow you more resources, but inevitably the treaties may get broken as someone uses you up and finds it better to break the treaty to gain more power/resources.
Each alien race also has specific abilities that make them distinct from the others or you could play the human who is a balanced character.
The one thing I like is the economic set up of the game. Each action you choose will end up costing you resources. As long as your economy is set up to continually pump money into the system, you are fine. But if you end up exploring too fast, you could be constantly teetering into bankruptcy, which might force you to give up some precious territory to make ends meet.
The researching is dependent on what comes available to the players. Every round brings out new possible resources to “learn”.
This game is a fascinating epic game that I don’t think I will grow tired of anytime soon. The only downsides are the length of the play (which shortens when you have games that aren’t filled in with new players) and the set-up time can be cumbersome. However, the last time we played, several of the others had known where the pieces would go. (This game takes up a lot of room even on large tables).
If you desire strategy and options, this game is for you.
Thanks for reading this novel.
What would be in your top 5 games for this past year?