As we inch closer to being able to go hangout places again, there is one thing that I can’t wait for. It isn’t parties or going to the movies, although those will be nice… it’s sitting down with a few friends, or even a couple of strangers, and playing some board games.
Tabletop Simulator has done a little bit of scratching the ‘board game’ itch, but an afternoon around a stack of cardboard and dice legitimately sounds like a dream I once had, and I can’t wait to get back to it. Sometimes the games are laugh riots where everyone is just having a great time, others its deep strategy while you pour over dozens of little chips that represent armies or spaceships or elemental beasts…
No matter what your game dujour is – here is a brief list of the games that I am looking forward to cracking open, hopefully sooner than later. And, mind you, it also acts as a list of ‘great games you might not have played’
– Betrayal At House On The Hill – Arguably my favorite board game of the last decade, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve played Betrayal… when someone suggests it, I am always first in line to choose my character. The premise, is that a group of thrown together folks are searching a house. Every game, the house is revealed randomly, so it is never the same look twice.
Eventually, some bad things happen and – this is where the magic happens – the game /changes/. More often than not, someone becomes the villain, and a plot is revealed. Whether it is a mysterious wedding the players have to stop or a rocket missle that is about to launch itself from the basement – Betrayal isn’t always a well-balanced game… but it is *always* a fun one.
– Werewolf/Mafia/One Night/Resistance – I put all of these games in the same pile because they all fit the same genre: Social Deduction Gaming. Someone (or ones) are the baddies, and through a mix of logic and unfettered arguing, it is up to the rest to reveal who it is before time is up. These games tend to do better with quite a few people, but when you have the right mix of sneaky players, meta players, loud players, and quiet players.. all with a little bit of knowledge, but nobody with all of the knowledge; add in a couple of drinks and you have yourself hours of some of the most fun deductive bickering a group can have.
You may have noticed I have a thing for games with traitors, or at least us vs them dynamics.. I do. A lot. So instead of listing nothing but traitor-oriented games, here are a few that don’t involve someone being an asshole. (But first, to add to those, there’s also Shadows Over Camelot and Letters from Whitechapel with are both worth your time)
– Charterstone – I was given Charterstone as a Christmas gift a few years ago, and my wife and I played it weekly until we had completed the campaign. I have been patiently waiting to have forgotten the strategy enough to play it again. You see, Charterstone is a ‘Legacy’ game, where along the journey, you draw/sticker/and edit the board as you go, guaranteeing that your end results of the 13 or so game series is drastically different than another set of players.
At its heart Charterstone is a ‘build a resource to trade a resource’ game, but the strategies you lay out in the first games become the lifeblood of your country in later games… and with the players, you build a world together.
– Love Letter – They don’t all have to be grand adventures… sometimes the best game is the one you can play a dozen times before you move on to something else. Love Letter is a game that has 16 cards, and takes about ten minutes from beginning to end. You have one card in your hand and take one card, and then play one of the two. It is remarkably simplistic, but the strategy can become fairly intense even in its short playtime. Perfect as a pick-up game between marathon sessions of any of the other games on this list.
So what boardgames have you been staring at on your shelves and swearing you are going to dust eventually? Let us know in all of the usual places and have a safe and healthy Fourth.