Top 5: Action Point Games
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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