I have always enjoyed a good board game; either it be with friends or family, I have always had a good time playing them. For years though my board gaming was limited to certain times of the year. These times were mostly at Christmas or on holiday. During those times we played a variety of board games, mainly restricted to the most common and well known board games like Risk and Monopoly. Now while Monopoly may be frowned upon by many today, I always used to love playing it. Out of what I had; it was my favourite.
Things changed though in early-mid 2012. While playing Magic: The Gathering at a local café, I saw an advert for a board games group held in the same café. So I popped along to a meeting of it, and was surprised at what I was playing. I had never heard of Lords of Waterdeep before, but I really enjoyed it; I enjoyed it so much, I asked for it for my Birthday. From then on I became a regular attendee of the Board Games group, and my collection just increased at a compelling rate.
But which board game is my personal favourite? For years I had a basic knowledge of what my Top 5 were, but things have changed, and I thought that maybe now could be a good time to re-evaluate my collection, and have a good standing list of my current favourites to present but also as a base point for later games in the collection. Sadly; there are many games that didn’t make my Top 10, but are nonetheless still a real joy to play. Here is a brief list of the ones not so lucky to be featured in my (current) top 10.
So without further a-do; here are my Top 10 Favourite Board Games:
10. Yedo – Lords of Waterdeep is still an incredibly enjoyable game; Yedo however has a lot more in it. Set in the ancient fishing town of Edo that would one day become Tokyo; Yedo has similar base mechanics to Lords of Waterdeep in that you are sending your meeples to carry out tasks and complete quests; but there is a lot more diversity and options in the tasks you carry out. This is also the same in quests, plus additional bonuses if you carry out the additional objectives in every mission. Yes the difficulty of the game is ramped up quite a bit in comparison to Waterdeep, in that you have to prevent your meeples from being arrested, and you need to watch out for the random events taking place each round too. Lords of Waterdeep is a great game to introduce new players to the more in depth variety of tabletop gaming; but for those who want just a bit more and really get stuck into something; Yedo is a must-play.
9. The Networks – Ever fancied trying your hand at TV Station management? Here’s your chance! The Networks is just that; player’s are running/managing a TV station; choosing what shows to run, hiring stars, dropping ads; all in the name of trying to score the most viewership numbers. They need to keep an eye on their budget restraints; but play their cards right and they can score big. The Networks is a tricky looking game, but once you hit your stride, it’s pretty much near simple to play. It’s has a nice funky design too with some cheap gags referencing actual tv shows.
8. Imperial Settlers – Imperial Settlers is a fun card based game. Each player is taking on the role of an ancient empire like the Romans, Egyptians or Japanese, and on their turn, they draw cards from an already personalised deck which is unique to them, and in turn they gather resources, to place those cards (each one representing a building) on the table and grow their empire. There are three types of building and each one has a special utility which can be used as many times as they state on the card. The game is in essence a hand management game crossed with engine building mechanics to create as close to a perfect machine as possible to grow even further and score lots of points. When the final round is over, players score victory points based on the actions and cards they placed; and whoever has the grandest empire by points gathered is the winner.
7. At The Gates of Loyang – Who knew growing crops could be so much fun? At The Gates of Loyang is a game designed by Agricola and Bohnanza creator Uwe Rosenberg, in which the players are given a plot of land and told to grow crops in it. Players will need to expand their operations to earn as much money as possible and from there earn their keep and become the best around. For all of its size, Loyang is pretty simple to play and as a bonus there is very little interaction between players, as it’s really all about what the individual player wants to achieve, leaving them to their own devices without any other meddling gardeners getting in the way. The game mechanics are easy to pick up, and the scoring utility is pretty simple; as it’s not about who earns the most money, or who grows the best vegetables; the focus is entirely down to who can venture along the path of prosperity the furthest.
6. Dojo Kun – Dojo Kun is a martial arts inspired game where the player is running a dojo. The game is split into two parts. In the first part; players are running and managing their dojo’s, hiring athletes and training them to be the best. Then in the second part, there is a tournament, where players send their two current best fighters to fight in competition against other players fighters. When the first tournament is concluded, players go back to managing their dojos and prepare for the second tournament. It’s a cool little theme which brings back memories of the BBC show Masters of Combat; but as a game its so much more than that. The training and managing side of fighters and dojo is fun in it’s own little way, but then you get to the tournaments; with it’s unique fighting mechanic which when playing with other people gets as intense as if you were watching a real clash of the titans. A cool looking game with a lot of heart-racing tension.
5. Sleeping Queens – Sleeping Queens is so simple to play, it was even designed by someone under the age of ten. In this simple card game, all the players need to do is wake up some slumbering female monarchs. Several Queens are asleep in the middle of the table and can be awoken with a King. First player to reach the required number of awoken royalty wins. The deck also features some other cards such as knights who can steal other players awoken monarchs, sleeping potions to send other queens back to the land of slumber, as well as other abilities too. The deck also features some random number cards to provide longevity to each game, but overall is a nice, simple and quick card game, providing hours of simple, enjoyable card gaming.
4. Taluva – Carcassonne is a fun game, where players have to build castles, farm land, and complete roads, all in the name of points and creating a fun map along the way. Well, Taluva is a lot like that, but takes the gameplay into an entirely different dimension. Players take tiles featuring different kinds of land from lakes, to desert to volcanoes, placing them on the table next to each other and creating little settlements with huts, towers and temples. The winner is decided in two ways. One; when all tiles are placed, whoever has the most temples wins (then ties are decided on towers and huts built). The second way to win however is the first player to place all of two types of building, so all temples, towers and huts in whichever combination, scores an automatic victory. Players will need to watch out though, as unlike Carcassonne the land can change as players can cause volcanic eruptions to take place, changing the land from two dimensional to three dimensional, and in turn can cause a mass amount of destruction to emerging settlements. Very easy to pick-up and play plus doesn’t take up too much time either whilst still providing space for those who like an element of strategy.
3. Discworld: Ankh-Morpork – Set in the same universe as the famous book series of the same name written by Terry Pratchett; Discworld: Ankh-Morpork focuses on the Discworld‘s central city. Players take on the role of famous characters all wanting to take control of the rich and prosperous city. Each player has a unique and personal goal to achieve, and must work hard to pull the strings of both the city and those around them to reach that goal. When one player has reached their goal, they win automatically (at the start of their next turn). The setting of Ankh-Morpork is nicely well done and the game goes far to include as much of the rest of the Discworld as possible without leaving the city limits. Many of the game’s mechanics are easy for players to get their sinister fingers around; as they mimic some of the biggest and most successful games around, such as both Monopoly, and Lords of Waterdeep. It’s a game which can cause trouble as you suspect everyone around the table, and can never be too sure of who is going to win first, but for all it’s deadly dealings, the game is a simple one to play as the cards direct you in what order to do things, taking control out of the hands of experienced players, and making things easier to understand for newer ones.
2. Quarriors! – Deck Building is a mechanic you may have come across; it’s where players start off with a small deck of cards, and slowly build it up to become a big deck in which they can then use to gather points, possibly most notably in the game Dominion. Well, in Quarriors, players aren’t building decks of cards, but decks of dice! Players have a bag and a selection of basic dice, which they use to acquire other dice. These other dice take on the form of Spells and Monsters. Players then use their newly purchased monsters by sending them into battle against other players monsters, and if their monsters survive the battles and tribulations until their next turn, then their owners score glory points. Whoever reaches the required amount of Glory Points first wins the game. Quarriors is a great little game and was for quite a few years my Number 1 favourite. The mechanic is pretty simple in theory, but trickier to master, but with the right selection of Monsters plus Spells to help out along the way, then you can romp home to victory in the grandest way possible, by unleashing horrific monsters against your fearsome foes, all done simply; by rolling dice from a bag!
1. Dinosaur Island – Put in simple terminology, this game is basically Jurassic Park: The Board Game. It’s a game about building a theme park on a far away island featuring cloned Dinosaurs. The player is given an island and a company, and uses their turn to gather DNA, recipes, specialist staff, bump up security, and create dinosaurs out of thin air to feature in a one of a kind theme park. But it’s not all that simple, as other players also have cloned based dino theme parks. This game is very similar to At The Gates of Loyang in that there is very little interaction between players and the gameplay is focussed on what players want to do with their own personal parks. Players score points and gain income for the guests that come to the park, but will need to make sure that no Dinosaurs escape and eat people either. Each game has a set group of objectives to achieve, but doesn’t require completion in order to win either as they are there more to get the game going and end at the right time. These goals can also be dialled up and down in length depending on how long a game people want to play. It’s a game made on a large scale, but at it’s heart is pretty simple to play, and with it’s well designed and integrated theme, creates a unique experience that you’ll want to play over and over again.
What are your favourite Board Games?