Monday, February 13, 2012

Bored Gaming and Board Gaming

I haven't been posting much lately because I haven't been playing new video games.  I'm still killing some time with Starcraft 2, League of Legends, and Tribes: Ascension but my play sessions have been few and far between.  There's nothing that I'm excited to play every night once my 18 month old is sleeping, and that's weird for me.  I love video games, but nothing new looks interesting or exciting.  Mass Effect 3 is a few weeks away but it's just about the only thing on my radar.

Indie games still have a huge appeal.  I've been investigating them as much as possible.  Between downloading trials, reading development blogs, and contributing to a few Kickstarter projects I've gotten more and more appreciation and anticipation for indie games on the market.

Instead of video games I've actually been devoting a lot of time to board games. Since my co-workers started showing me the world of modern board games I can't get enough of them.  We've played about 8 different games as a group since we started playing board games last month.  They all have their own style, mechanics, and feel.  The best part is that these co-workers of mine have a big backlog of games they want to play, so they keep bringing in new games all the time.

I haven't just been playing other people's games either, I went out and bought Citadels, which is the best board game out of the bunch we've played.  It's actually a card game with some lightweight tokens to represent a few "board game" elements, but there's no actual board.  Since buying it, I've already converted about 6 other people to the game.  It always goes over fantastically.  I'll probably write a post about it soon.

Besides that, we've dabbled in deck building games like Ascension, Rune Age, and Dominion.  We've played what are called Living Card Games(LCGs), which is like a self contained Collectible Card Game(CCG).  In CCGs, like Magic: The Gathering, you constantly have to buy booster packs and invest hundreds of dollars to make decks.  In these LCGs you buy one boxed set which has everything you and your opponents need to play a game.  LCGs like Lord of the Rings the Card Game and A Game of Thrones have been fun.  Dice games aren't usually my favorite, but I had a blast with To Court The King and I went out and bought Zombie Dice which my wife and I are having fun with nightly.

The most important thing I've learned is that modern board games are NOTHING like those old "classics".  Monopoly pales in comparison to the games out on the market right now.

I can't get enough board games at the moment.  A couple of my favorite sites for browsing are Boxed Up Fun, Fantasy Flight Games, and Shut Up and Sit Down.  Side note: Sorry this post has been so link heavy, but I really want to share all these awesome games with you readers.

Here's the most important paragraph of this post.  Readers, do you have any board game recommendations for me to try?  Please tell me you do.  Tell me what they are.  I want to know!  There's a comments section.  You know what to do.


  1. Its nice to see more people discovering the designer game scene.
    I found it a few years back with some friends and now own close to 100 games.
    Sadly, we haven't bought/played many lately.

    I'm a bit shocked you didn't mention in your post.
    They are THE site for boardgames and have an astounding, international community.

  2. The thing about is that there site design is horrible. I absolutely hate navigating to anything on that site. It's as if it were designed in the 90s and they never got around to making it user friendly.

    On the other hand, they do have an amazing database of, basically, every game out there. If I can't find info on a game elsewhere I will give in and check it out on Board Game Geek, but it's my last resort.

  3. Conquest Tactics will be right up your alley. Move your troops across a grid board to engage with the other player, use spells and skills that are taught to your entire army, and manage your resources in the form of Tactical Points. Check it out!

    Disclosure: I am the creator :D

  4. I've mentioned a few games on Twitter.... but if you like card games, try Summoner Wars (

  5. My board game group only really got started in the last month too! We'd all played each other at Risk on iOS or other devices for almost a year, and when one of us decided to get into it proper, he convinced us to take the jump. Since we came from Risk, a lot of our games have been land-grab or combat based (the excellent Game of Thrones - board game rather than card game - is our definite hands-down favourite), but we've also messed around with a few resource-based eurogames like the excellent Settlers of Catan and Puerto Rico.

    For me, though, what really blew my mind is how much I enjoyed our first co-op game, Arkham Horror. We're not quite nerdy enough for the D&D-ish way some people appear to play that game, but just mechanically it works in the same way Gears of War 2's Horde Mode or WarCraft 3's Hero Defence do - a team of players cooperating against near-insurmountable odds, where lose or win, you're in it together and it's always tense and fun.

  6. I recently started playing board games with my friends as well. Here are some of my favorites:

    Munchkin (this is the latest one I've bought, and we haven't played anything else since)

    The Settlers of Catan

    All of these can be played relatively quickly, and they aren't hard to learn.

  7. I would actually recommend against Munchkin, as IMO it's a little too random and too much bash-the-leader-y for me. That said it works well with people who don't play a whole lot of games or for drunk groups, as it's pretty simple especially with base rules. It also plays a lot of people, which is nice.

    Fantasy Flight recently re-released Wiz-War, a game that's been around forever. I would describe it as "capture the flag" meets Harry Potter; you're a bunch of wizards in a labyrinth trying to steal one another's treasure as you also fling spells at each other, which can do things like turn you into a werewolf or a slime, cause damage, destroy or create walls and obstacles, and otherwise just screw one another. I prefer it to Munchkin as it tends to play faster: Munchkin can run hours, WW tends to run an hour to an hour and a half at most, or shorter if someone really starts shooting to kill--the downside is there's player elimination, but generally a dead player means someone either just won or someone is quite close to winning. If you've got a group willing to learn it, IMO Wiz-War is a better game as it makes better stories, feels more strategic, and is just generally fun.

    1. I just bought Wiz-War last week! I played my first game of it last night and loved the interaction between wizards. The spells are so fun and varied.

  8. I can understand your issue with the layout of BoardGameGeek. It seems rather cluttered, and poorly designed, but it is not bad once you get used to it. That being said they are working on a site redesign, so hopefully that can make it new user friendly. BoardGameGeek can not be beat when it comes to community and content though, so it is worth spending some time there.
    As for recommendation I would have to say Cosmic Encounter from Fantasy Flight. It is my favorite game in my collection. Another that you may find interesting is Thunderstone, it is somewhat similar to Dominion, but you are putting together a deck of heroes and weapons to go kill monsters in a dungeon. They are releasing a sort of 2.0 version next month called Thunderstone Advance that may be worth looking into.

  9. We dove into boardgaming full-throttle last fall and winter and now have a cool little game collection with something for every occasion. A few notes on each, in case you're interested:

    Chaos in the Old World: A ripping good time, with tight, competitive play. Some object to the grisly theme. We think it's funny. Biggest drawback: really not worth playing, IMHO, without fewer than four players.

    Arkham Horror: This one has become a dependable weekend adventure. It's sucked in a few non-gamers (who have now become addicted and bought their own copy) because it's cooperative, there's lots of stuff to do, paths to take and items to get. Drawback: it can take a looong time. We've played six-player games that have taken four hours. If that's not a deterrent for you, then this is a fun game. Tons of expansions to make it harder (we have Lurker at the Threshold, but haven't unboxed it yet).

    Carcassonne: Gets better every time we play it, as you see more and more strategy in how to lay your tiles, build your objectives, and stymie other players. You can include kids in this one, because they easily understand and enjoy the tile-playing aspect without having to get all the strategy. A classic.

    Tannhauser: An oft-overlooked five-on-five squad combat game with a really cool theme and distinct characters. I got this for our 17-year-old after our experiments with Warhammer 40K fizzled out. It delivered everything we wanted in a squad-to-squad game, without having to paint a bunch of stuff and learn 50 different rulebooks. It plays like the wacky final scene from a scifi/action flick. Cool theme, beautiful art, and brisk gameplay. It got a low ranking on BGG because the first edition was considered badly flawed, but the Fantasy Flight reissue with revised rules is pretty awesome. Drawback: although there are variants listed that allow for more than two players, this is really only a two-player game in my mind.

    Risk Legacy: I don't understand the controversy around this one. Some like the innovative game dynamics while noting that at the core, it's still Risk, and Risk sucks because superior strategists too often have their superior strategy bashed apart by capricious dice. If I wanted to be known for my superior strategy, I'd just play chess. We now have a regular five-person Thursday-night group for this, and we're totally absorbed in it as we mutate our set with each game. Believe the hype.

    7 Wonders: Just cracked this last night for our first game, and we loved it and can't wait to play it again. We picked up the gameplay quickly, and really liked the compact playing time, multiple scoring paths, and play-and-pass mechanic. Don't really see how you can go wrong with this one.

    Good post, and happy gaming!

  10. Good suggestions here. A few more:

    Role selection games:
    PUERTO RICO is a board game concerned with settling your own island board and buying buildings, getting workers to work on your island and in the buildings and producing resources that you will then sell for money (to buy other buildings) or ship for victory points. Very in-depth strategy, as everyone has a chance to do the action for each role taken, so you must try to help yourself more than your opponents every time you select a role.

    RACE FOR THE GALAXY is similar to Puerto Rico in that there is a role selection element (and all players may perform the action of anyone's selected role), but quite different aside from that. It is a card game where the cards you play into your tableau (basically fancy term for your play area in front of you) must be paid for by discarding other cards as the cost (some exceptions apply). Different strategies abound and players must be flexible to the new cards they continue to get throughout the game.

    Worker placement games:
    STONE AGE is an easy to learn, hard to master game of worker placement. Each player starts with 5 workers and may place them to gather food, resources, or get tools, permanent food production, or another worker (most likely some combination of these). Resources can help you build buildings or trade for cards which do a variety of things. At the end of each round, your workers must be fed, so it is a balance of progressing and getting food. (Dice involved btw.)

    Once you're truly ready for an incredibly complex game, you can try Agricola, set on your own medieval farm. Trying to keep this paragraph short, you basically place your workers on different action spaces to improve your personal farm board while periodically feeding them (the intervals between feedings shorten as the game progresses, causing many grey hairs). You can focus on plowing fields and planting crops, or ranching livestock, but scoring at the end rewards diversity. This game is intense as you must maximize your actions to improve your farm and house so you can actually score points at the end instead of just feeding your people.
    Agricola or Race for the Galaxy are my two favorites (7 wonders is also very fun too)