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Board Games

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jojobobo, May 22, 2018.

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  1. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    May 29, 2011
    Do you own any board games (specifically the geeky variety), miniature games or collectable card games? If so, what would you recommend? I've been branching out recently a little, so I thought I'd run through a few I think are recommendation worthy. I'll break this up with spoiler tags so it's not such a wall of text...

    Worker placement games:
    I've been playing a few worker placement games recently, mostly because you can play them two player easily enough but also with more people if you have people over. The idea behind worker placement is placing workers to accumulate resources, and then using those resources to score the game's version of points. Mostly they play like turn based strategy PC games in a lot of ways.

    Champions of Midgard is the best one I've played so far, where you play competing viking champions looking to become the new Jarl of Midgard, all the while monsters have descended on the town to exploit the political upheaval. The idea here is you place workers to recruit warriors (represented by axemen, swordsmen and spearmen combat dice - with different ratios of single hits, double hits, shields that protect you, and blank sides) and send them to kill a variety of monsters, with your specific champion providing you some sort of special ability.

    What I think is good about the game is that is fairly difficult to accumulate a great deal of resources in a single turn (with most spaces you assign a worker to blocking it's use by the opponent), so it's hard it's more of a struggle to gain an edge on your opponent, which makes it a lot more competitive. I picked up both expansions, but Valhalla allows for more run-away scoring and new stronger warrior dice which makes the game easier - moving away from the original's tight focus - and The Dark Mountains provides an additional mini-board for you to play on, reducing competition with your opponent due to there being more spaces in play.

    The Dark Mountains does provide a lot more cards (different monster types, more destinies which are another way to score points, a couple of new champions) that you can mix into the base game without running the extra board - which I think is the best way to play it. However Valhalla plus Dark Mountains is occasionally fun if you're in the mood for big point swings.

    Lords of Waterdeep is a DnD based worker placement game set in the town of Waterdeep, where player controlled lords are vying for political dominance in the town through subterfuge. Here you play worker agents to recruit adventures, gain gold and build buildings (the latter usually allowing you to recruit more adventurers or gain more gold) to complete quests in order to score points. Each lord has a two quest types that they gain more points for completing (Warfare, Skullduggery, Arcana, Piety, and Commerce).

    Overall there's much more of a random element to Waterdeep as it depends what quests come up and whether they match your lord (with 4 quests in view face up at any one time), there is an option to discard all face-up quests and gain one of the new 4 but that still doesn't do much to prevent the chance element. This leads to big point swings, which aren't as well suited to only a few players and work best in large groups where you can check one another more easily. The expansions for Waterdeep seem to only allow for bigger point swings from what I could see.

    Co-op games (mainly Elder Sign):
    Elder Sign is a co-op card game where investigators spend the night in a museum and battle to lock a Cthulhu mythos Ancient One away forever with the hard-earned eponymous Elder Signs. This is done so by completing tasks or killing monsters on adventure cards by rolling dice, and matching dice symbols to the symbols on the task - with completing an adventure offering a reward and failing it offering a penalty. Rewards run from the needed Elder Signs, single use Common and Unique items which offer additional dice to help with adventures, or spells which typically lock a reserve a dice on a certain symbol. Penalties are usually losses in Sanity or Stamina (mental and physical health more or less), or accumulation of Doom which will eventually awaken the Ancient One. The investigator you play with has their own special ability, which vary quite a lot in terms of power.

    Turns pass through quarter of an hour increments, with play rotating between players quarter hourly. At midnight, a Mythos card plays usually with a negative effect (add Doom, discard Sanity and/or Stamina, lose an item) along with "At Midnight" effects on cards which usually have some sort of penalty, and At Midnight effects of your particular Ancient One. All the Ancient Ones (Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Hastur - all the old favourites) have different penalties, different numbers of Elder Signs to lock them away, and a different sized Doom track. Once the Doom Track is full the Ancient One wakes up and you have the opportunity to fight it, but more often than not you'll die, so accumulating Elder Signs is usually the best way to win.

    Elder Sign is pretty enjoyable for a lengthy co-op game (2 hours-ish, sometimes less sometimes more), more so than the similar Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror board games made by the same people which take a lot longer. The rules are fairly simple once you have the hang of them, and who doesn't appreciate a creepy Cthulhu mythos setting? Unseen Forces offers a nice card expansion to the base game, with new cards added to just about every category (with new Investigators and Ancient Ones) along with the option of becoming Blessed (providing an extra die) or Cursed (you roll a subtractive die that takes others from you pool) that are compatible with all other expansions - so it's probably the best to get. All other expansions offer an alternate setting and new Ancients, rules and Investigators - my favourite being the newly released Omens of the Pharaoh, which uses two adventure decks that you can swap between, depending if you want to accumulate resources around Cairo or explore the pyramids of Dashur to gain Elder Signs.

    Castle Ravenloft is the other main co-op game I've got, running DnD rules (with AC, a d20, and all that jazz) centred around dungeon delving in a vampire controlled castle, with a host of heroes to choose from (each with different abilities you can also choose from) and a rule book of several adventures that alter the rules and keep things fresh. The dungeon, monster and trap tiles are placed randomly, which is something appreciate in dungeon crawler games. My biggest issue with the game is that it's balls-hard though, with nearly every time you play an adventure it resulting in a loss - and unlike DnD where your adventures gain in experience and loot here they go into a dungeon fresh every time. Probably plays better with more than two players so you can share the hurt around, but otherwise expect a tough game.

    Apparently this was too long to fit in a single post, so continuing in the next one...
  2. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    May 29, 2011
    Other competitive 2+ player games:
    Ticket to Ride is one of the most popular simplistic board games made, I own Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries as it's 2-3 player and a little more cutthroat due to the smaller board. The object of the game is that you play sets of coloured train cards from your hard that match coloured routes on the board and link cities, placing a train car figurine on each space of the route, which score a small amount of points depending on the route's length. The titular tickets offer bonus points for linking two cities in a continuous route passing through several cities, with points being subtracted if you fail to link the two cities at the end of the game. You can either draw more tickets, draw more train cards, or claim a route in your turn - and you play until someone has two or fewer train car figurines left, which triggers one additional final turn. It's that simple.

    It's an interesting game in that you balance either fulfilling shorter Ticket routes that are low risk, fulfilling longer Ticket routes that score much more highly but will also bite you in the ass if you fail to complete them (remembering the score is subtracted if you fail) or trying to anticipate and intentionally block your opponent completing their Tickets. Sometimes opponents will unintentionally block you as they have a similar Ticket to fulfil, and you have to play around that too. It's one of those games that's elegant in simplicity, and usually takes only around 30-45 minutes for Nordic Countries. Other Tickets to Ride variants have different rules (such as bonus points for the longest train, etc.) but they all play more or less the same).

    Carcassonne is another classic game, revolving around four-sided tile placement and placing figures (called meeples, as I guess they wanted a twee name) to score certain features of those tiles. Knights play in cities scoring 2 points per city tile, Robbers are placed on roads scoring 1 point per road tile, Monks are placed on monasteries and score 1 point for the monastery tile as well as each surrounding tile in every direction, Farmers score 3 points at the end of the game for every city that's on the continuous field you place them on. Tiles can only be played in ways that make sense - open cities can instantly become a field, you have to play more open city or close them off with a city wall. Likewise roads can't instantly transition into an open city.

    When you complete a feature (a city bounded on all sides with walls, roads that are looped or capped with small villages, etc.) you score that feature and regain your worker to your limited pool. Uncompleted features at the end score less points per tile, and naturally keep that worker tied down all game. You can't play a worker on the same feature as an opponent or yourself directly - so if your opponent or you has a Robber on a road, you can't place a guy on the same stretch of road. However, you can place your Robber on a nearby unconnected road, and then if you manage to link it to your opponent's road you'll both score points. Same goes for Farmers and Knights in towns or cities, and if you manage to get more of your guys in on a feature than your opponent they don't score any points for it on completion while you do. The game ends when you run out of tiles.

    This is another simple game with a deceptive level of strategy to it, with one of the key elements being Farmers allow you to score the most points but tie a worker up all game - plus farms are probably the easiest feature for opponents to link up to with their own guys, and if they have more farmers than you in a field they'll score for it while you won't. The base game itself is strong enough that it doesn't really require any expansions (and with newer versions coming with minor expansions in the box), however expansions offer new ways to score points and some more combative elements too. It takes about half and hour to an hour to play, and I'd highly recommend it.

    Non-collectible card games:
    Gloom is quite a good one, with each player controlling a gothic-inspired family and the object of the game being to make family members suffer as many tragedies as possible before killing them off as supposedly this ensures a happy afterlife. You play negative number modifiers on your own family out your hand to make the sad (which are good), and positive modifiers on your opponents family to make them happy (which is bad), with the cards themselves being transparent - allowing you to overwrite the top most modifier if the symbols fall in the same places. Each card also tells a bit of a story, so you more or less chart your characters lives with these modifiers.

    Modifiers also present other symbols, which synergise with Untimely Death cards to help you score more negative points. Your negative points only score at the end of the game for dead characters, so usually the game is a bit of a race to kill people off as quickly as possible. You can also play events to do things like cancel cards, or swap modifiers, bring characters back to life, etc. and some modifiers have continuous or instant effects (e.g. instantly discard two cards, continuously have a larger hand size).

    Overall it's good fun, but it's quite luck based and does usually allow for a good amount of run-away scoring. There's a Cthulhu version of the game (Cthulhu Gloom), which has it's own expansion, which as it was released after the first run of the base game is a little more polished with decent theming and extra rules too. I'd say that's the best alternate version of the game if you were looking for something a little different (there's now Space, Fairytale and Munchkin - based on the game series of the same name), but it does make run-away scoring even worse.

    And that's about all I've been playing board game-wise recently, though I've played a fair few more given that my immediate family plays a lot of geeky style ones at Christmas and other times we meet up. I did play collectible card games (Magic: the Gathering, Lord of the Rings trading card game) and miniature games in my youth (Mordheim, Necromunda, Warhammer Quest) but they're pretty expensive to get into these days, and tend towards being more obsessive hobbies (one of my brothers have a Magic: the Gathering set now so expensive it needs to be specifically listed under his home insurance). Mainstream games like Scrabble, Monopoly and Cluedo are also a lot of fun.

    That's about all of my collection currently, with some ideas of how they play as well as how good I think they are (apart from 221b Baker Street with it's insultingly saddening clues, fuck you Sherlock Holmes). As mentioned above, what do you own and would you recommend it?
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
  3. Dark Elf

    Dark Elf Administrator Staff Member

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    Feb 6, 2002
    Carcassonne is a fucking gem, man.

    Here's an addition to the list:


    Here you have to survive the zombie apocalypse. There are different scenarios, which call for different game boards (you use different board tiles in different missions). Each player controls a character, each with a different specialty - perhaps you are particularly good at firing guns, or maybe you're on a pair of inline skates and get an additional move. Mission objectives vary, but it could be something like sealing radioactive zombies into a building or plain old supply scavenging.

    Each round, zombies are spawned at spawn points determined by the scenario (and by the card you draw each round - some rounds there will be no zombies, some rounds will be the Calais tunnel in the 28 Days Later closing scene). There are different kinds of zombies - regular ones, fat ones that are harder to kill, runners that are too damn fast for my nerves and assorted mutant hellbeasts the Umbrella corporation probably had a hand in making. The hordes of zombies force you to be smart about your decision making - certain actions, such as firing guns or breaking open a door with a fire axe, generate noise - and zombies like following the noise. You therefore have to be careful about how you go about things, because it is easy to be swamped by zombies. Now, usually you will of course be forced to fight zombies no matter what, and when you kill them you gain experience points - which makes your characters more powerful and unlocks new abilities, but gaining levels also increase the danger level, meaning that more (and more powerful) zombies will spawn.

    Missions range in difficulty from the somewhat possible to the motherfucking impossible. Of course, this also means that scenarios range wildly in estimated time - from 20 minutes to like 3+ hours.

    It's a great game.
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
    Jojobobo likes this.
  4. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    May 29, 2011
    Sounds good! I'll definitely think about picking it up when I have some funds (currently around £70 it looks like, so I should probably wait a little while).
  5. magikot

    magikot Well-Known Member

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    Aug 29, 2003
    Looking at my gaming shelves:

    Tyrants of the Underdark - combines the deckbuilding genre of games with an area control board game in a strategically deep game.

    Tzolkin - Central american themed worker replacement game with a moving board.

    Twilight Imperium - a space themed 4x game that will take you and your friends a weekend to complete. Highly recommended.

    Caverna - dwarf themed work replacement.

    Tsuro - tile based party-ish game of king of the hill with dragons.

    The 18XX series - train games where you're trying to manipulate the US economy to have a railroad monopoly. 1842 is the one I recommend to start with. Really, all the COIN games are great. Also try Cuba Libre about the Cuban revolution and Castro's rise to power.

    Here I Stand - Another by GMT (great company) that I don't think is part of the COIN series. Play as one of the major powers during the protestant revolution. England, France, The Hapsburgs, Martin Luther, and more are all contending for power and the souls of the common man.
    Jojobobo likes this.
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