So a few months ago I discovered that board games are actually still a thing, and a big thing at that. Starting with Carcassonne, then Catan, Ticket to Ride and Dominion, my love and respect for worker placement games, deck builders and RPGs have grown a lot since then. Wow, are there a LOT of games to try!
Lucky enough for me I found that a lot of people I know were actually all closet board/card game nerds and it wasn’t long until I’ve gathered enough people to play games on a semi-regular basis. We’ve had a few week-night gatherings of Dominion and Munchkin as well as some two-player games such as Kahuna.
Anyway, so here’s a quick review of games that I’ve recently been playing.
One difficulty I have had is finding a game that bridges that gap between ages and interests. Not everyone likes medieval deck-building or strategy games, in fact the mere mention of “dragons” or “wizards” is enough to put some people of completely. The charming French story-telling game, Dixit proved to be the perfect solution for this particular dilemma. My girlfriend, who as much as I love her struggles to really get into heavier thematic games, immediately clicked with the simple gameplay of Dixit. In Dixit, a player chooses one of the beautiful cards from his or her hand to describe using a simple clue: be it a word, phrase, movie reference or song. The trick comes in that clues shouldn’t be too obscure or difficult but also not too obvious. When no one guesses the correct card from the revealed set of cards, you gain no points. Same goes for when everyone guesses the clue. There is a little bit more to that when it comes to scoring but that’s the general idea. Simple, yet elegant and perfectly suited for any age group and a ton of fun with the right group of people.
Will Weaton’s TableTop series on YouTube has introduced me to many games during my quest to find the essential board and card games. One of these is Steve Jackson’s Munchkin. A card game parody on role playing games (both of the pen and paper and video game variety) where you kick down doors, slay monsters, and loot rooms. The fun doesn’t stop there however. Other players can help and hinder your progress, though in my experience it’s mostly the latter, by adding their combat strength to yours or by beefing up the monster you’re about to slay. The gameplay takes roleplaying tropes such as equipping weapons and gear, choosing classes and races and combines it all in card game form and adds a dash of RPG parody for extra LOLs. The game disguises itself as a simple card game but there can potentially be a LOT going on especially when three or four people get involved in a single conflict. Either way you’re guaranteed a lot of laughs out of a round of Munchkin.
I also had the opportunity to play a game of Catan with the Cities and K
nights expansion. While it took me a bit of time to figure out exactly how much the game has changed, once you get it you really understand that the expansion shifts the focus of play completely. It also introduces an element of cooperation to the generally winner-takes-all game that Catan is. If it weren’t for the amount of time required to play a whole game, I’d love to play this more.
Another game I briefly played, and enjoyed, was Kahuna. A great strategic game for two players. The game board contains a number
of different islands and players are tasked to take control of as many islands as they can before the end of the 3rd round. Islands are occupied by building connections between two islands, and once more than half of the connections to or from that island are controller by you, you take control of the island as well. There’s a lot of cool back and forth going on during the game and it plays in under 30 minutes, which is great if you don’t have a whole lot of time to spend.
Some games that I’m looking forward to trying out soon are Small World, Betrayal at House on Hill and Shadows Over Camelot. Hopefully we can get more regular game nights going this winter.