This was a new to me game that I got to play last Friday. It’s a fun little bluffing and bidding game that plays pretty fast and can play a high number of players. It offers a few interesting decisions, but no highly strategic decisions. […]
Month: February 2019
Final top 5 list, I think that I could maybe come up with some more lists, but I might do eventual lists of games that play best or up to two through six or seven to give ideas for games like that. As I know that’s something that I want to think about as a person who hosts a board game night, what games provide that range in player count or allow players to split up more.
But we finish off with action points. What are action points, they are points or tokens that tell you how much you can do on a single turn. Maybe you can take five actions, and then you allocate those points to specific actions you can take, like moving or attacking.
5. Dead Men Tell No Tales
A cooperative game, in this one you are spending actions to try and find treasure on a pirate ship that is haunted and currently on fire. You have to contain the fire, try and find the treasures, deal with skeletal deck hands, and you have a certain number of actions you can take to do all of that. This game is like a lot of cooperative games in that you feel like you can never do enough. The interesting thing this game adds in with action points is that you can pass on your unused action points to the next player. So it might be that you are limited in what you can do, but the next person has a lot of useful things that they can do. You can move closer into position to set-up what for your next turn and then pass any unused action points to the next player so that they can do more. In a lot of cooperative games the action points are static but you can act upon other characters, in this one, you can’t do that, but you can pass out action points.
4. Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter is an interesting game on this list as it uses dice as your action points in the round. The dice don’t encompass every action you can take in the game, but the strongest actions, the ones that help you complete objectives are going to spend a die. Not only that, but the number you roll on the dice makes a difference as well. Some characters aren’t able to search or kill zombies with a low die roll. So in that case your die, which is supposed to be your strongest action is now made weaker and it looks like you are hurting the colony and people are starting to suspect you are the traitor more, but at the same time, they can see the roll, so they know it wasn’t great. And then you get more dice and actions when you have more survivors, but you are also responsible for more zombies showing up and more mouths to feed and making the game harder that way.
3. Arkham Horror LCG
This game doesn’t use the points as a physical token, but a lot of the games with action points don’t. Action allowance might be a good way of describing it as well, because you have a certain total number of actions you can take on a turn. Arkham Horror does this well, limiting you to two actions, and while you can do the same actions multiple times, you always feel the crush of not being able to do enough. Arkham Horror LCG is a placeholder on this list for all of Fantasy Flights Lovecraftian games as you feel the crunch Arkham Horror, Elder Signs, and Mansions of Madness as well. It’s a system that works well for them as it keep the tension high when you don’t have enough actions to do everything that you’d want.
2. Blood Rage
Action points are huge in Blood Rage as you try and get into territories, move troops around, and be able to hang in the round long enough to stop your opponent from doing what they are trying to do. What I like about the action point system in Blood Rage is that certain actions cost a certain number of action points. And the monsters, who are possibly more powerful or useful in some other way, also have action point costs. So you’re trying to balance using your action points so that you don’t run out much before anyone else, because once you are out of action points, you are out of the round at least in being able to take the large actions that are going to be most useful long term.
1. Pandemic Legacy
This game does great with action points, basically each turn the active player spends up to four action points, moving around, curing diseases, trading cards, and finding cures. Then as the game continues, you gain more and more actions that you can take. At the end of the game, you’re trying to balance out these actions in hopes that you’ll be able to survive. Pandemic does a really good job with these actions, because it evolves over time. A lot of games have more of a static action pool with maybe unique characters have special player power actions that they can take, but Pandemic Legacy, both seasons one and two, give more options as you play and unlock more of the game.
There are a ton of games that use this action point/action selection mechanic. It’s a strong mechanic for adding tension to decisions, because you’re almost always short of the action points you want to use in a round. This mechanic, however, isn’t always an ideal for players who might have AP, because it makes your choice really matter. But let’s talk about some honorable mentions:
Forbidden Desert/Forbidden Island – Cooperative exploration games that feel like Pandemic light.
Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Another Pandemic like game that also has a bit of a Dead Men Tell No Tales feel to it as well, this time you’re being fire fighters though.
KrosMaster Arena – Plan your movement and attacks in this Chibi MOBA style game. A little bit simple at times, and almost ways a best way to use your action points.
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game – This game is all about the Fate Points, as the action points are called. It’s a pool of action points which is a very different feel from a lot of the games as you as a team have to replenish and manage that pool of points.
What are some of your favorite games with action points? Is action points/action selection a mechanic that you enjoy?
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We had another character retire, this one, so it’s time to do a bit of a write-up on it. The Summoner was not a character that I played, but an interesting character that a friend played, however, it didn’t seem like the easiest character to play.
You can probably guess what the Summoner does, it summons things. Now, that in itself is pretty cool, you get to control a lot of creatures and your cards either summon creatures or you can make them do things. However, it really seemed like it’s a bit tricky and a bit focused. The issue with it, is that until you’re at higher levels, you basically summon small creatures that might get off one round of attacks and then die. So if you don’t set it up correctly, you’re going to have a lot of time where you aren’t as powerful. It helps that summoning creatures though gives you XP.
Some of the reason, though, it might have been tricky at the start is that we had the Sawbones and Quartermaster starting at the same time. So we didn’t have a strong character that was really a tank yet. At the end, some of the animals that were able to be summoned could tank a little bit, but not that much. It did however, save us several times being able to swarm an enemy or having meat shields that protected us from enemy attacks. Again, they tended to be one hit and done, sometimes two hits and done, but soaking up a large attack really helped us stay alive longer.
Once you kind of figure out the strategy for the deck and get some of the stronger summons, it is interesting. You get summons with ranged attacks and summons with pierce. This made those summons very effective at higher levels when monsters might not have many more hit points but they have shields. They really do offer a nice utility, and if you are facing off against weaker monsters, you can sometimes just send a couple of summons off in their own direction, as long as there isn’t a door for them to open.
Overall, I think that this character is fairly complex, not because of complexity of actions, but because of the amount of management that you need to do for this character. And the fact that your summoner needs to be in the mix with their summons to give them additional actions makes it good that the character isn’t too squishy. There’s also the aspect of balancing out the use of cards, because when a summons dies, it burns the card. If you aren’t careful you can run through cards too quickly.
I’m ready personally to play not a support character, and while the summoner definitely is more combat focused, through the summons than a lot of characters, it does still have that feel that it doesn’t do too much for itself. I think if you’re someone who likes battlefield strategy and tactics, it’s going to be a strong character for you to play. You definitely can set-up what happens on the battlefield with where you place your summons and who you have them attack.
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One of the last two board game top 5’s I’m going to do. Cooperative games are a ton of fun, sure you might like to beat up on another person in a game, but what works well with cooperative games is the game is going to provide an appropriate challenge. There are games where if you’ve played more than I have, it will almost be impossible for me to to win because of the experience difference. In cooperative game, you tend to have games that level up in difficulty as you play them more, if they are campaign driven, or that you can make harder if you choose.
So what are my top 5 cooperative games?
5. Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
It’s in the title that it’s a cooperative game. This is a very challenging game, but a simple game to play. You are having to balance card use for gaining action points (fate points), investigating, and fighting, and you’re probably not going to have enough time to do everything you want to do. For me, that is a hallmark of a good cooperative game, there are always going to be a handful of good things to do and you are never going to be able to do them all. The game also has some Dresden Files feel to it as you feel like you are up against it throughout the whole game and most likely you are just going to eek out a win. It has some interesting mechanics with how it deals with what cases and targets you can deal with depending on where they are on the board. It’s a fun game to play the specific characters in the books with the different scenarios based off of the books, so you feel like you are in fact playing through the book.
4. Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
An app driven game in the 2nd Edition, Mansions of Madness allows it to be a combat game, a puzzle game, and an exploration game all at once without one person really needing to play the game itself. This can make the book keeping phase of the game, or mythos phase as it’s called in Lovecraftian games most of the time, a whole lot faster. Also, because it’s app driven a scenario is going to be slightly different if you play it multiple times because the app can set-up the house or location where you are investigating differently. You have a lot of the standard investigator pieces to it that you get in Arkham Horror or Elder Signs, but it provides it in a tighter package.
3. Arkham Horror LCG
I really enjoy this game as one that scales well in difficulty. Based off of the modifiers that are placed into a bag that are then drawn throughout the game. What I like is that this is a fairly heavy story game while being a smaller card game. If you get everything for the game, there are a ton of cards, but no matter what you have, it’s always a card game. It gives you feel of exploring through Arkham to complete cases. Another thing that works well in this game, is because the locations the locations are cards, you can scale the story up to as large an area as you want or as small an area. That’s something that Mansions of Madness can’t do.
2. Pandemic Legacy
This game really works well as a cooperative game. Whereas some on the list have hidden information because that helps with the alpha player problem, Pandemic and Pandemic Legacy is a straight forward enough game that people can get up to speed quickly and start making decisions. The game also has a good story to it though not as in depth as some of them. The ability to also get the game to the table quickly is a bit different than some of the other games.
My favorite game, what I like about this game is that you can really tailor who you are playing in the game. You get some interesting teams, but it gives you a ton of choices as a player. This is the game that I was thinking about when I was talking about scaling, or one of them. I’ve talked about the game a ton, so I am not going to add in all that much more on this one. But the scaling is amazing in this game, and the ability to tailor your character to your style is great. It’s also a massive game that gives you tons of game play.
There are a ton of games I could put down as an honorable mention, but I’ll try and keep it just to five:
T.I.M.E. Stories – Super fun puzzly game where you jump to different timelines and dimensions to stop things from destroying the timeline.
Hanabi and Forbidden Desert – Check out the previous Top 5 list for more on those games .
Xenoshyft: Onslaught – A cooperative deckbuilder with some interesting choices, in particular being able to build your deck but also being able to help other peoples decks as well.
Lost Expedition – A simple game, but challenging as you decide as a group how to deal with problems as you try and advance to the lost city of Z
There are so many more that I could have listed and that I’ve enjoyed playing. I really enjoy cooperative games as they seem easier to get to the table when you’re all working together towards a goal. Not to say I don’t enjoy a good competitive game, but cooperative games tend to feel like they are more unique even though they are common now.
What are your favorite cooperative game, do you, like me, have a big stack of cooperative games you have yet to play?
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