Back for another Back or Brick on this Wednesday. We’re looking at a big Kickstarter, in terms of content that just launched yesterday. It’s going to fund (already has), but is it one for me? Let’s dive into the pros and cons. Pros RPG Like…
Tag: deck building
It’s that time of year, with Black Friday and Holiday Shopping nearly upon us. That means that people are starting to think about the gifts that they’ll be getting for others or what they might want to ask for themselves.
This list is basically the opposite of yesterday’s list which was focused on small games that are going to have a small footprint, small box, and generally a smaller price. Epic board games are going to generally be in a larger box and they are going to pack a lot into the game, so whether it’s in a fantasy world or a sci-fi setting, the game is going to feel big and epic. Also, stocking stuffers are going to be more apt to be games for a newer gamer, these, you are going to want to know the person likes board games.
Aeon’s End: War Eternal – This game actually doesn’t have a ton of pieces to it or a giant board at least. It’s a deck building game, but the game feels epic as you face off against an giant monster who is trying to destroy the town of Gravehold. You take on the roll of a breach mage who is casting spells to deal damage or out last the plans of the giant monster. To do this, you are building up a deck of cards, so it’s a pretty standard deck builder that way, but, in a twist, you never shuffle your deck, so if you are clever, you can pull off some interesting combos.
Betrayal at House on the Hill – This game is different from the first in that it has a sprawling footprint. You’re building out this massive haunted house, and eventually, there will be a twist when the haunt happens and someone is going to be a traitor. This game is a really thematic game that leans into the horror theme. The best way to describe it would be that you are playing through the movie Cabin in the Woods, if Cabin in the Woods was a mansion instead of a cabin. You never know what the haunt is going to be, because an omen card in a certain room is going to take you to a specific haunt. The game is a bit swingy in that someone can, with a bit of luck be very strong or the haunts can be a bit unbalanced, but it’s very thematic.
Blood Rage – With a name like that, how could it not be epic? In this game, you are taking your tribe of Viking warriors through combat and area control in order to get the most glory. However, beware where Ragnorak is happening, because that can knock your troops off the board. Blood Rage is, at it’s heart, a card drafting game where the cards you pick at the beginning of the age determine your strategy for that age. But it feels like it plays out on the table in a massive way, with big epic conflicts, monsters on the board, and the strategies are all based around different deities from Norse Mythology. The game looks cool on the table and the minis help give it it’s epic feel.
Cry Havoc – In what turns out to be a bit of a euro-style area control game, you really get to play through a giant cinematic game of different factions warring over the crystals. Humans are able to attack from different areas in support. The mechs can build up stronger technology and call in satellite support. The pilgrims are a peaceful alien race that just cares about growing as many crystals as possible. And the trogs are everywhere on the planet, because it’s their home world, and they’re trying to fight everyone off. In this game you’re getting points for crystals in the few rounds that you are playing and scoring. But it has a tricky bit of combat and interesting card play to be able to get to other areas, fight your battles, or in the case of the pilgrims, set-up your fortified areas. It looks cool and feels a bit like Avatar.
Dead of Winter – Dead of Winter is a survival zombie game where you are in charge of a group of survivors. You need to go out and find food, deal with zombies, get medicine to heal people, deal with crisis that are happening and complete a main objective. There is a ton to do in this game, plus, beyond that, you have your own goal you need to complete and there might be a traitor in your midst. All of that is great and epic feeling as you try and figure out who the traitor might be, but there are also crossroads cards which offer you tough decisions if the right conditions are met that makes this game feel even more epic.
Gloomhaven – This is, in my opinion, the ultimate big epic board game. It’s a massive box, massive footprint on the table, a ton of characters to play. Now, it comes with a large price tag, but the number of hours worth of play, it’s worth the price. Gloomhaven has a nice story to it, but it shines in the scenarios where you have to work with your teammates in your card play to get it really ticking, because the monsters hit back and they hit back hard. It’s a lot of strategy and it’s just fun to play, plus unlocking new characters keeps the game feeling fresh. It’s like a video game RPG, but on a board.
Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition – The only Lovecraftian game on this list, I considered Arkham Horror LCG, and while it does have a great story, it doesn’t feel quite as epic. Mansions of Madness though is an epic horror game in a box. You are using an app to drive the story and provide ambiance for the game. But that doesn’t take away from the board game piece, it just enhances it and can cause the game to be set-up differently each time you play a scenario. And there are tons of scenarios out there and expansions. You take on the role of an investigator who has been called in for something odd happening, but can you stop it in time or before you become too injured or insane to carry on?
Pandemic Legacy Season 1/Season 2 – I’m lumping both of them together, but both are pretty epic stories. As a Legacy game, it means that you have a limited number of plays through the story, but the story is good, and you feel like you get your value from them. You are playing what is basically Pandemic, a game where you are a member of the CDC going out to deal with diseases. The basic game is fairly epic, but when you add in an evolving story, it becomes more epic and challenging as you have to adapt to the strategies that the changes in the game is leading your towards. It’s fun to play through, even twice, like I’ve done, because there is a good story with it and a lot of story and interesting decisions.
Root – These are cute woodland creatures, they won’t be epic, will they? Yes, they will in this asymmetric game where players take on the roles of different factions of woodland creatures. Maybe you are the vagabond who is getting new items to be able to do more things or planning out your long term strategy as the Eyrie who need their orders to be carried out in a certain way and things will go poorly if they aren’t. Or maybe you are the Woodland Alliance who don’t start with much, but need to create a strong position on the board. And then there is the Marquise de Cat and his cat troops who are trying to keep control on the areas and expand their power. It’s big, it’s epic, and everyone feels really unique in the game.
Skulk Hollow – By far the smallest game on the list and only a two player game, it still feels epic. You have the foxen heroes who all of a sudden have to deal with a guardian. The guardian of the realm probably isn’t a bad guy, but with the foxen folk there now, they seem like one. One player plays as the guardian and the other as foxen folk, each with their own goals. The foxen folk always want to take down the guardian, but the guardian might be trying to get certain tokens out or maybe kill the leader of the foxen folk, or just kill as many foxen folk as they can. The game plays fast, but it packs a punch for what it does.
Star Wars: Rebellion – The original trilogy in a box, it’s going to be epic. Again a two player game where one person is the empire trying to find that darn rebel base. The other player, as the rebels is trying to complete missions in order to subvert the empires evil plans. It’s a good cat and mouse game with all the big players that you’d expect from a Star Wars game. It’s been close basically every time I’ve played it and while the rebels can be a bit trickier to play and this is a longer game, it is engaging the whole time and not too hard. The asymmetry is pretty limited and that makes teaching the game easier than the previous two ones, even with the different character goals.
Sword and Sorcery – Another big dungeon crawl with a lot of characters, Sword and Sorcery takes you on a tighter story than Gloomhaven does, but in what is more of a dice chucking game. The story is cool, and the monsters, while limited, offer a good variety of challenges. What makes this game especially unique is the death mechanic, where if you die, you aren’t out of the game, you have limited things you can do, but you can also respawn as long as you have enough soul gems. There are a ton of characters to play, and while the story is quite linear, I do feel like it’s a game that I could play through again with different characters and the game would feel different.
T.I.M.E. Stories – This game is basically time cops as you try and police the time stream, going to Earth in different eras as well as to completely different worlds. It’s an interesting game because you run through different stories, which are expansions for the game. T.I.M.E. Stories, for everything, is the most expensive game on the list, but it’s worth checking out. The story in the base game is interesting, and it only starts to show you the plug and play nature of the system. Each story, also, has it’s own epic feel, and you get to run through the story, making better decisions each time or maybe finally going down that rabbit trail that you probably shouldn’t have gone down.
Village Attacks – Maybe, as compared to the rest of the games, you want to play the bad guys. In Village Attacks, you and a team of other monsters has to deal with pesky villagers who are coming to your lair with their pitchforks and torches. You need to protect yourself, because that’s very rude of them to attack you. Can you survive the onslaught of monsters coming? It’s a fun cooperative game and very challenging as there are so many villagers. I had a blast playing it at GenCon, and I’m super excited to get my kickstarter copy. If you want to get this game, you need to check out the possibility of a late pledge from the kickstarter.
XenoShyft: Onslaught – Sometimes you just want to squish some bugs. XenoShyft is basically Starship Troopers where you have to defend this mining facility from all sorts of waves of bugs. This is another deck building game, and it’s a tough deck building game, but you always feel like you’re getting better and have a chance. The cool and unique part of the game is the fact that you can play your cards to help other people, because sometimes you might have a lot of weapons that you can’t use, but someone else might need them, so you have to balance it out to make sure that there isn’t a weak link. This is a tough game to win, but a ton of fun.
There are so many epic games out there. If you want a longer game that you can play a lot, there are a lot of good options out there. I’d recommend starting with some of the smaller ones on the list, XenoShyft: Onslaught, Pandemic Legacy, or Aeon’s End. But if they already like epic games, and you want to splurge, Gloomhaven is a game that you can’t go wrong with. Yes, it won’t be for everyone, but it is a massive epic game and unless you want a ton of dice rolling, which Gloomhaven doesn’t offer.
Is there an epic game out there that you really love? Or is there one that is really epic that you want to get?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
There are so many board games in the world, and while I would like to say that I have a massive room dedicated only to board games where I can fit in lots of Kallax shelves from Ikea, I don’t. I was able to fit…
Normally, this would be another Halloween article, because I’ve been doing those every Wednesday, tomorrow, since it is actually Halloween will be my Halloween themed article. Instead, you are getting more of my top 100 board games, which will wrap up on Friday.
These rankings are the opinion of yours truly, and if you don’t like them, that’s okay. We all have different tastes in games and that is great. There are some games that I’ve only played as a demo, and I felt like I got enough of a feel to put them on the list, thanks GenCon for all the demos. These are living rankings so next year I’m sure that things will change, so I’ll probably be doing another one next year. Thanks to Board Game Geek for letting me enter/rate my collection and games I’ve played. Thanks to Pub Meeple for creating a tool that pulls in those games that I’ve rated and creating a ranking tool. Again, the numbers and names will be linked to Cool Stuff Inc and Amazon if you’re interested in the games.
20 – Sagrada
Sagrada is a very pretty game in which you are drafting dice in order to create the most beautiful stained glass window out there. However, you have certain rules as to how you can place those dice, such as certain colors being required in spots or certain numbers being required. To make it even trickier, you can’t have the same number or the same color orthogonally adjacent to one another. So, your stained glass window soon becomes a puzzle. To add to that, you are also looking at scoring in four different areas. Each player has a private objective that they are trying to score, but there are also three more public objectives that players are trying to get as many points from. That seems like a lot of things to stay on top of, and it is, thankfully, the game gives you ways to move or manipulate dice, so hopefully you can fill in your whole stained glass window. Sagrada is a pretty game on the table with the translucent dice, and a fun game to play. it is definitely lighter, but there is enough going on that I feel engaged throughout the game, and I’m always hoping people won’t draft that one die that I really need. They normally do, but I’m hoping that they won’t. The game also scales up well, so it’s fun with two players and it’s fun with four players. There is an expansion that takes it up to six, but I haven’t tried that yet.
19 – Dice Throne: Season One
Alright, here it is, the first season of Dice Throne. As compared to the other ones, which in the future might just be Dice Throne Season Two when I finish getting all the characters, Dice Throne: Season One comes with six different characters that all play in fun and different ways. The game is still a yahtzee style dice rolling battle where you are trying to knock down your opponent before they can take you down. But characters like the Paladin can heal more and has buff abilities, whereas the Pyromancer is just about doing damage and doesn’t really do defense. This is fun, because it makes you adjust how you are going to play the game. The Shadow Thief for example, is all about getting combat points to put cards into play, but the more combat points they have, the more damage that they can do on some attacks. I think technically you could play this as a three versus three game with each team facing off against the other, but I prefer the game as a one versus one game. All the characters feel pretty balanced and it seems to be a luck of the roll as to who wins but there is enough dice manipulation that you feel like you can go for your ultimate ability if possible. I haven’t done this yet, but this game seems like ti would be amazing in a tournament format, so I’m hoping to get one of those done this winter. I really love all the Dice Throne stuff, and some of the Season Two characters are more interesting, but with what I got for Season One, I got more characters, so that’s why it’s higher.
18 – Dead of Winter
It’s zombie time, and Christmas. You and your group of survivors are huddled in your base in the town VFW (not part of the game, but I gave it a location), you’ve barricaded the doors off but the zombies keep coming, and you’re going to need to get food eventually. Dead of Winter is a zombie survival game where each player has their own objective as to what they want to do, or have in their hand, by the end of the scenario in order to win the game. However, the scenario has things you need to do as well, and there keep on being crisis that happen. And then you need to feed the colony as well. So life is tough for you as players as you run around to various locations, searching for what you need, and hoping not to get bitten by a zombie or get frost bite (bitten by a cold zombie). To make matters worse, you’re beginning to suspect that there might be a traitor in your midst. That’s Dead of Winter in a nutshell, a semi-cooperative game where each player has a secret objective that they need to complete, and there might be a traitor in the game. The odds of their being one are fairly low, because you mix it into 2 x [The Number of Players] cards, but most of the time there is one. Everyone is suspicious of everyone else, and then there are crossroads cards. These are cards that have you make tough decisions in the zombie filled world, like, do you let in some strangers to your group, you get more actions, but more mouths to feed as well. This is a big game with a lot of decisions to make in it, and if the scenarios weren’t hard enough, the daily crisis and personal objectives make the whole game even harder.
17 – Deranged
This game isn’t even out yet, how do I have it on my list so high? Because that’s how awesome the long demo at GenCon was. In Deranged you are stuck in a small town, because you are cursed, and you only have a limited amount of time before you can escape. But in order to escape you have to get rid of your curses. And if that wasn’t hard enough, there are monsters floating about down there that want to try and kill you. And then, if you die, you come back, because you know you’re in a cursed town that never wants you to leave, and you are cursed again. Plus, it’s possible at night time that you are going to become a deranged monster who has lost their humanity and then you can’t escape, but don’t worry, you can get your humanity back, you just have to kill another character, which will cause them to come back with another curse. This game is a ton of fun as you play cards that might advance time to the point where you hit night and become deranged. This game feels like a lighter horror game that offers a lot of decisions and plays pretty quickly with teaching the game and playing through it. The demo I played wasn’t the full game, but I got a really good taste of it going through a day. The aesthetic on this game is great as it has not a Lovecraftian feel, but definitely an early 1900’s feel. The game play is slick as you use cards for their abilities, but you have to weigh the choice of a good power or keeping back a card to play on defense if a monster is going to attack you or maybe a deranged is in your area. It’s coming to the US in Quarter One of 2020, I believe, and I’m waiting excitedly to be able to get my hands on it.
16 – Aeon’s End: War Eternal
I’m a big fan of deck building games that have theme, aka. not Dominion. And though I did have Ascension on the list that doesn’t have theme, the ones higher than it definitely do. In Aeon’s End: War Eternal, the standalone expansion to Aeon’s End a game I haven’t played, you are taking on the role of various breach mages who are trying to stop the town of Gravehold from being destroyed by one of several monsters that might be after it. You have the power, and you can acquire and gain more power to deal damage, cast more spells, and get more powerful spells throughout the game. Aeon’s End: War Eternal at it’s heart is like most deck building games where you have a market of cards where you can spend your money to buy either attack spells, artifacts that do something, or buy better and more money. But the way you cast your attack spells is unique because you have breaches that you have to cast your spells through, and depending on your character, you might have more breaches available to start than another player. However, the biggest difference from this game as compared to other deck building games is that you don’t shuffle your deck. When you play your cards on your turn, you play as many of them as you want at and then you sort how they go into the discard pile. So if I want, I can clump a group of money together in hopes that when I draw my hand after going through the deck, I’ll be able to get a hand with a lot of money in it. So you there is another area to strategize in this game as compared to a normal deck building game. The theme comes through well, and I like that the different giant monsters you are fighting have different goals. One of them is trying not to do direct damage to the player or the town of Gravehold, but is trying to dig under the city so that it collapses. This is a game that feels like it has a ton of replayability, and it has a legacy version that I really need to play.
15 – Second Chance
Another flip and write (roll and write) game, they are so popular right now, and I do like them quite well for a relaxing game to sit back and play. In Second Chance, you are flipping two shape cards every turn, and players pick one of the shapes and can rotate it, flip it, mirror it, whatever they want to put that shape somewhere on their board as long as it touches another shape they’ve put in play. The goal of the game is to fill in as many of the squares in as possible in this Tetris like puzzle. But sometimes you really need a specific shape and you get two shapes that you can’t use. In that case, you get a, you guessed it, second chance. A single card flip that has a shape that only you can use. If you can use it, you are still in the game, if you can’t, you are out and you can start counting up your open spaces. Second Chance is a fun game and a very relaxing game to play. I like to doodle as I fill in the shapes so that each section looks different than other ones do. Kristen likes to do specific patterns in how she fills in her shapes. The game plays fast, and because everyone is using the shapes, though with a unique starting shape, there is no downtime for anyone in the game. Like Criss Cross before, Second Chance is a game that people will play once and then want to play again. If you’re looking for a very accessible roll and write (flip and write) game, Second Chance is definitely that.
14 – The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game
When I started ranking everything, I thought that this game was going to be higher on my list. But it dropped, I like this game a lot as 14 is really good. I think the reason is that while this game offers a lot of interesting choices, it doesn’t have the same weight of decision making that some of the other games do. In this game you take on the roll of Harry Dresden and other characters from The Dresden File books as you work through a book to try and solve the mystery that is going on. You can focus on two areas, the first is solving cases with your investigation cards. These cards have a cost and then they put clues on a case according to various rules on the card. The other is attack, which works like the investigate cards, but goes on the bad guys instead of the cases. Your goal, at the end of the game is to have more cases solved than there are bad guys left on the board. It’s tricky though, because everything costs something, and you have a limited amount of fate points (as they are called) to spend. But you can get them back by discarding a card and getting back the cards cost in fate points. That works well as a mechanic, but can lead to someone having to discard several turns in a row, which can be boring. Thankfully, discarding does a bit more than that, it also has another action that it triggers for the players. For someone characters it might be adding in damage to a certain bad guy, either the nearest or farthest, or do the same thing with a case. Plus, each character has a one time ability that feels like them. This game, while being a big puzzle, is very thematic and a lot of fun as you try and recreate the book on the table.
13 – Hanamikoji
This is the first of two two player games on the list. Technically the other can be played with four, but it’s a two player game. Hanamikoji is, however, only a two player game. In this game you are trying to win favor of various Geisha by giving them gifts. Each Geisha is worth a certain number of points and wants a certain type of gift. If you have more gifts in front of that Geisha at the end of the round, you win their favor. How you get gifts in front of them is where the meat of this game is, though. It is actually only just cards, but you have four different ways you can play down cards. You can discard two that won’t be used for winning a Geisha’s favor, you can play one face down that will be used, you can play down three cards, your opponent picks one that they get and you get the other two to use for winning favor, and finally, you can put down two groups of two, and your opponent picks one of them. The trick of this game is that you want to keep everything and often times you are helping your opponent. Can you manipulate things to where you’ve gotten enough favor points from the Geisha or have won the favor of enough Geisha? I feel like most of the time the game is over in two rounds of the four actions, but it’s always a struggle. And you really want your opponent making the hard decisions for you. This is a fast game that is abstract, but it looks good on the table, and because of it’s speed, you generally want to play multiple times. There is also enough hidden information that you can never fully solve the puzzle of how to play it.
12 – Welcome To…
The last roll (flip) and write on the list. This is my favorite of that genre because there is a bit more to sink your teeth into. In the game you are building your perfect 1950’s neighborhood so that people come to your development over that Stepford neighborhood over there. And of course, to do that, you need to set-up your neighborhood correctly. Do you go for a lot of parks, do you try and build swimming pools, are you advertising your neighborhood? But most importantly, are you building those white picket fences, because a neighborhood isn’t a neighborhood without them. This is another one of these roll (flip) and write games that everyone is using the same resources. Everyone gets to pick which one of three combinations of an action and a house number to use each turn, so the game can play up to 100 out of the box, since there are 100 sheets with the game. This game still plays fast, but I like it since it gives you more options as to what you can do and how you want to try and get your scoring as compared to games like Second Chance and Criss Cross. I also like it, because I can quickly tell people what the game is about with that 1950’s neighborhood reference, and everyone gets an idea. There are also expansions that I haven’t played yet, but I have the spring one and a fallout, I mean, bomb shelter, one ready to try. I’m excited to get those to the table soon as they add in a few new things to the game which seem fun.
11 – Star Wars: Rebellion
This is the other two player game, though technically it can be played with four people, basically just splitting up the two sides of the Empire and Rebels. I wouldn’t do that. In this game if you are the Empire, you are trying to build up enough troops and search the galaxy for the rebel base. You get some help from that with your probe droids, plus you are trying to mess over the rebels in whatever ways you can. The Rebels are trying to create unrest in the empire and complete missions to undermine the empire. If they can complete a certain number of them for points before the empire can find them and wipe them out, they win the game. Of course, you can also build Death Stars and blow up planets if you want as well. This game is described by the Dice Tower as Star Wars in a box. And I have to agree with them, it is only the original trilogy, but that’s all I want to play. I don’t need to have mechanics for a romance subplot between Hayden Christenson and Natalie Portman. It’s a game of cat and mouse as both sides try and disrupt the other, but both sides ultimately have bigger goals that they are working towards. Plus, you can customize the characters you are playing with as you go along. Maybe you get Chewie but not Han, or who needs the Emperor when you have Grand Moff Tarkin? But each of them brings an ability that they are better at, so you have to balance that. Along with that, you get to have epic space battles and ground battles that take place on and around these planets which can swing who is leading. Star Wars: Rebellion is a big, long, and thematic game that I’d recommend to Star Wars fans who like to board game. I’ve enjoyed playing both sides as well, though I’ve had better luck as the Empire, just made one mistake as the Rebels, though, and I could have won.
Man, there is so much to say about these games. I really do love them all and I want to sit down and play them all. I’m excited to do my top 10, because I had a game in there that surprised me after I had done all of the sorting. But you’ll have to wait for Friday for that game.
If you have a game that you like out of this section of the list, let me know what it is. Or what game do you want to try?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
I was back against last night with some Malts and Meeples, this time I was actually get to a playthrough of Aeon’s End: War Eternal from Indie Boards & Cards and Action Phase.
Aeon’s End: War Eternal is a deck building game where you are protecting your city of Gravehold from whatever Nemesis is attacking it. The first time you play it, they recommend that you play against the Umbra Titan, the easiest nemesis. So I took it on in a two player battle to see if I was able to out last it before it would destroy the foundation of our town.
As for my brew, I had Horizon Red IPA from Summit Brewery. It had been sitting in my fridge for a while, so I feel from what I remember of the beer it wasn’t as bitter as it could have been, but it was still enjoyable to drink.
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