It’s my turn for Table Top Picks today (shout out to @Mundangerous for the delightfully punny name)!
Though I’m not nearly as much of a gaming aficionado as Peder is, I’ve gotten into board games in a big way during the last couple of years, and I’ve come across several favorites. As I’ve mentioned a time or two, I enjoy cooperative games the most, so those will feature prominently on my list, though a couple of my favorites will show that I do feel a little competitive from time to time.
Lord of the Rings: Board Game
This one is at the top of my list for many (obvious) reasons. Lord of the Rings is pretty much my favorite creative work of all time, and playing this game is basically just a great new way to take another journey through Middle Earth. And as a huge fan of the story, I always find myself getting ridiculously invested in the outcome of this game. Will I save Middle Earth, or will I doom it to be subjugated by Sauron?? Sadly, it’s usually the latter — as Peder mentioned, it’s one of those games in which things are going along swimmingly until they’re…not, and suddenly, all that’s standing between you and defeat is one unlucky dice roll. I love this game for its intensity, its high stakes, its collaborative strategizing, and its story immersion element. As soon as I finish a round, I’m ready to reset the game and play again!
In reality, this one is pretty much tied with the Lord of the Rings game for me. This is another game that I get hopelessly sucked into, no matter how many times I’ve played. The race against time as you try to save the world from being overrun by contagion will never not be exciting to me. Like LOTR, Pandemic ratchets up the tension quickly, and leads you to believe that you’re doing well just before everything falls apart. The difficulty level is *just* short of making this game nigh impossible to win, which, if it were a competitive game, would turn me off to it pretty quickly. As it is, though, this element forces the players to work together at all times, and while it’s important for all players to bring their best strategy to the table, the outcome doesn’t depend solely on one person. That spirit of collaboration and innovation is what keeps me coming back for more.
On that note, that’s why I love Pandemic’s spinoff game, Pandemic: Legacy, as much as I do. This game is basically Pandemic on steroids, with even more tension, more possibilities, and more ways for everything to go wrong. Due to the changing nature of this game, it can be played a limited number of times, as the choices you make during each round of this game affect each subsequent round. Which is something I find both terrifying and exciting.
As I noted in my post about this game a while back, one of the reasons I love this game is because it’s ~*pretty*~. However, I certainly don’t judge it on aesthetics alone. It’s my favorite competitive game for a reason — for me, it hits that sweet spot of just enough strategy to get my brain working (but not enough to make me feel overwhelmed), and just enough luck involved to keep me on my toes. The jewel-trading theme is unique, and I’m a fan of the Renaissance-y vibe. And as a round of this game is usually fairly short, it’s one that I can play several times through in one sitting — and generally, I want to do so when I play this one, which is a pretty rare occurrence for me!
I’ve written about this game already as well, so I won’t say much about it, but it’s still standing strong as one of my favorite card games. As a cooperative board game, it’s pretty unique, made even more so by the element that allows you to see everyone’s cards but your own. It’s a great example of a game that’s simple and elegant in concept but has a high level of difficulty when played. And like many on my list, it’s highly addicting, and always makes me want to see if we can beat our last high score.
Marrying Mr. Darcy
One thing I love most about this game is that it basically involves nerding out in like, three different ways at once. The premise is more or less what you’d expect from the name — you play as one of six female leads from Pride & Prejudice, and to win, you must make the most advantageous marriage by marrying the suitor who is best…well, suited to you! This is another competitive game that feels challenging without feeling cutthroat (though the zombie expansion pack makes it that way, I suppose??). As a huge P&P fan, I adore the theme of this game, and can’t wait to try out the Emma expansion!
This one’s a recent addition to my list of favorites, and, like Splendor, has the perfect strategy/luck ratio for me. Also like Splendor, it has a great aesthetic; I love the Arabian Nights-esque theme. And as Peder mentioned in his recent post about this game, it’s about as European-style as they come, in that you’re trying to amass more victory points than all the other players through a variety of means, and in that no one knows how many points they have until the game has ended. I was able to quickly pick up a strategy that works for me with this game, which…may very well be unprecedented in my history as a gamer, actually. And that in and of itself is enough to make me thoroughly enjoy this game!
And that’s my list — for now, at least! Let’s hear from you — what are some of your favorite games? Are there any from my or Peder’s lists that you’d love to try?
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