Alright, now we’re into the sweet spot for games. There are a lot of them out there that really work best at 4 players. This can be for a number of reasons, but most of the time it’s because 4 players is the maximum player […]
Tag: Blood rage
On to another list for my top 5 drafting games. Now, Board Game Geek only has card drafting for me to sort through, but I will be including a dice drafting game in my list as well (or two). So without any more clarification:
5. Roll Player
Do you just like making an over powered D&D character? That’s the feeling that you get in Roll Player as you are drafting dice to make the ideal stats for your character. You are also trying to line up certain colored dice in certain spots, depending on what card you’ve gotten. It’s a fun game as you try and equip and build your character, and there is a Monsters expansion that I’ve heard adds more to the game. The reason I have it this low on my list is because I haven’t playing with that expansion, and once you’ve built your character, the game just ends, so it feels like it’s a little bit lacking in terms of being a full game. It is still a lot of fun to roll up your character though.
4. 7 Wonders
This is very similar to a game that is further down on the list, actually sitting at #2. But 7 Wonders has a heavier theme to it, though, like most pure drafting games the theme is fairly pasted on. You are leading your ancient civilization through three ages as you try and build up your ancient wonder. Except, you don’t actually need to, to win the game. Instead you might focus in on building up other players that give you victory points or getting the strongest military or winning with a combination of science cards. It has some interesting mechanics as well where you can purchase resources that you might need to build something, but only from the people to your left or right, so there is some strategy with that as well.
Another dice drafting game on the list. I really like this game for the look on the table. In the game you’re drafting translucent dice to create a stained glass window. There are rules where you can place dice, sometimes you must use a certain color and other times a certain number. That part of the game adds in the strategy, also the fact you can’t have the same number next to another orthogonally or the same with the colors. The game goes fast, and when you are done you have a nice looking window in front of you. The game is very much a puzzle game, but not one that is too tricky.
2. Sushi Go! Party
This one is on the list as my favorite pure drafting game. The theme is fun, building out your meal and the scoring mechanics are pretty straight forward, though there are a few specials that I would consider to be more advanced. The artwork also makes it an easy sell as it leans into the cute anthropomorphized food items. The game also plays extremely fast and is easy for new players to pick up. I prefer the Party version to the regular version because you’re able to create a variety of set-ups so that the game doesn’t play the same every time.
1. Blood Rage
Hey, it’s on back to back lists. But Blood Rage does a really good job with the drafting in the game. That’s what really sets apart the strategies for people in the game. Do you load up on cards for battle, on quests to complete, do you spend your points playing monsters? It is a very big part of the strategy and depending on what cards you see, you might have to adjust your strategy on the fly as you draft cards at the beginning of each age. It’s also where a lot of the theme comes into the game, because Loki cards do really feel like Loki, same with Odin, Thor, and other players in Norse mythology.
I don’t have any honorable mentions this time. Board Game Geek has a lot of games that I wouldn’t call card drafting or drafting games on their list, such as Dominion, where you do get to choose what cards you add to your deck, but it is a deck builder, and I already did a post on that a few days ago.
So this is going to be a short post, what are some drafting games that you like? Are there any on my list that you want to play?
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Jumping back into another board game list, this time going with another mechanic I like quite well. Area control is a fun mechanic because it really pushes conflict in the game, and the games that do area control well really encourage that conflict to happen. […]
This one is a bit out there in some ways. I would say that there has been attempts at unique powers for a while and some solid successes, but there was a time where the difference between who you were and who I was in the game was that I was the thimble and you were in the iron in Monopoly.
For a lot of people, that’s what it is still in gaming. Even if they’ve progressed away from Monopoly and into games like Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, and Carcassonne, the difference between you and me is that I’m blue and you’re red. Otherwise everything we do is the same. And that’s a-okay in a ton of a games. There isn’t a need for your character to be slightly different than mine, but in some games, it makes the game a whole lot better.
Back in 1949, there was an attempt to make “unique” characters when Clue came out. Professor Plum, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, and the rest of the cast allowed you to pick your favorite based off of more than just color of the pawn you were using. Now, they gave you some art, but it really wasn’t a unique character at that point. You were really just picking a color still. But in some ways that was the start of having unique characters. It gave some foundation that could be built off off later.
Now, we see two prominent ways that unique characters are done in board games. There are more ways beyond that, but there are two major ways. The first is the special power route. Your character has something specific they can do that no one else can. The other way is the asymmetric route. Definitely the harder of the two to pull off, because what you do in the game is always different than what I do in the game.
The first type, is the special power or action that only you can take. A great example of this is Pandemic. In this game you have a base set of actions, treat disease, move, trade cards, etc. that everyone in the game can do. But each character has their own special action that they can take or improvement upon one of the other actions. For example, all characters can treat a disease by taking a cube off of the city they are in, but the medic can take all of the disease cubes off of the city they are in. The dispatcher, on the other hand, can move people on their turn, versus just having to move yourself. The rules still apply the same way for how they can move other people’s pawns.
You can start to see from Pandemic how having unique powers can make the game different each time in different ways. In fact, unique powers are a really good way to keep a game replay-able over a long period of time.
There are games that keep the base action for you, but allow either for changing your unique power or setting up your own unique powers. Two examples jump into my head quickly. The first being Smallworld. Since the races and powers are randomly shuffled, you might end up with flying wizards one time, and wealthy wizards another time. In this case, the game, like in Pandemic, dictates what your unique power is.
There are games, however, that allow you to determine how unique you want your character to be. This is the other example, Blood Rage (also Seafall does this), where you can spend action points that upgrade your clan. A pair of warriors can be made to be worth more in battle for you, or you can gain points when your warriors die in battle and go to Valhalla. Maybe your clan leader is now worth more points, or you can move your ship in a certain way. Maybe you have access to monsters now. Based on how you draft cards, you can shape your own player board to be unique. This type of game is interesting because at the start of the game, your clan is the same as everyone else’s clans. But as the game progresses, the clans play more and more differently depending on your cards, and which ones you choose to use. In Seafall, had the game been good, it was similar where you started out with the same base at the start of the first game, but you could buy upgrades that left from game to game, but you could also put in permanent upgrades as well, so the more you played the more unique you were.
Now, that has been the simpler type of player powers to talk about. The more difficult is the asymmetric player powers. The reason that this is tougher is because even if there is the same base to the game, everyone plays with that differently.
A great example of this is Root. In Root everyone has some pretty similar actions, but how they go about doing all of them is completely different. While you all might be moving troops and trying to control areas, the cats, to gain more troops have to build up various buildings, where as the birds are trying to create an order or cards that they play. The woodland creatures are just trying to get onto the board by using cards in yet another way, and the Vagabond is doing something else different with their actions.
This type of game is very interesting, and Cry Havoc is another example. There is one fairly big downside to a completely asymmetrical game. The time spent teaching the game the first time you play it is pretty to extremely high. In Root, for example, you have to explain a fair amount about each character, even though some of the base actions might be the same. In Vast, this problem is made even larger by the base actions being a greater variety. Cry Havoc is probably the easiest of them to teach, because the base actions for everyone are the same, just the buildings, objectives, and special powers mean that how you play the game as each faction is different.
You can see how this has all moved on from Clue where you had a name for your character, but that was about it that made you unique from just being a different colored pawn.
There are a few more ways that games try and add differences. The other most common, though what you can do might not change, is the hidden traitor role in a game like One Night Ultimate Werewolf or Resistance. These games, what everyone does is basically the same, some expansions provide more variability to the game, but in the base, you can hide your actions because you are doing the same thing as everyone else.
This has then been expanded upon with games like Dead of Winter and Shadows Over Camelot. Shadows Over Camelot gives the bad guy more that they can do, if there is even a traitor in the game. In Dead of Winter, each player has a hidden objective. So while you have the exact same set of powers, you are trying for a slightly unique state of the game when it ends, mainly what you have in your hand at the end of the game. For me, these games can be a bit more hit or miss, because depending on if there is a traitor or not, it can greatly hinge the game on various things, and it can at times force you to look like the traitor to actually win the game. If there was some balancing mechanic for it, it would make the game better, but potential hidden traitor and hidden objectives is very hard to pull off well in a game.
That’s a lot variable player powers and the range that can run. Personally, I’d be interested in seeing a reworking of Clue so that Professor Plum can do something different and better than Colonel Mustard, but that’s already been done in some of those investigation games, like Fury of Dracula.
What are some of your favorite variable player power games? Are there some where certain combinations are too broken to play with so you’ve banned them at your table?
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I mentioned the topic in the Kickstarter FOMO post, but I wanted to talk more about different game mechanics that you might here people talk about when it comes to describing a board game, this will be a bit more focused definitions than the Jargon […]