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. ***Disclaimer***These rankings …
Starting the week off again with even more board games in my top 100 list. I only got to play one board game this weekend, my #96, Qwirkle. It was fun to play that game again. Definitely has some good things about it still and was a fun puzzle to figure out my best options with what I had available, but enough about that, onto the list.
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.
40 – Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger
If you remember the silly choose your own adventures from the 90’s and earlier, that’s what this game is. You Read a bit of text, come to a decision point, and you hope to make the right decision so that you don’t die. But unlike the books, unless you kept your fingers stuck in spots to remember where you were, this is more forgiving and tells you where to go back to and try again. The game play for this is very simple, there are a few things besides making a decision that require a die roll, and if you do poorly, you can generally try to roll the die again, but it might be harder to get the roll you need. So, if you want something with decisions that really matter and are tough to make, House of Danger isn’t for you. If you want a silly fun time with your friends, House of Danger is a ton of fun with a completely absurd story. That’s what I was looking for, and I’m excited to play the second one sometime as it seems absurd as well. The simplicity of this game also makes it easier to play with non-gamers who might know the books, because this plays like the books.
39 – Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale
Is this connected to Roll Player which was down further on the list, technically yes. However, beyond the artwork that is similar, I don’t think there’s much of a connection, just the game developers wanting to keep their games in the same world. That said, Cartographers is a fun flip and write (roll and write) game where you are either placing one type of land in one of two shapes or one of two types of land in one shape. There are a lot of roll and write or flip and write games that have that put a shape on the board mechanic, but what makes Cartographers different? First, there are monsters, and when there are monsters, you pass your sheet to another player and they put the monster onto the sheet for you, and monsters can give you negative points if you aren’t careful. There’s some more player interaction in the game because of that. You also have interesting scoring which makes it feel different, instead of just scoring at the end of the game, you score 4 seasons, and instead of scoring everything in each season, you score two objectives (A & B) in spring, B & C in summer, C & D in fall and finally D & A in winter. So each objective gets scored twice, so you can’t just plan on one type of scoring, but if you want, you can lean into only a couple of them. Catographers while really being a little abstract game that doesn’t need to be a Roll Player Tale remains a lot of fun.
38 – Ticket to Ride
A classic game, Ticket to Ride as well as Catan are the two games that I would say got me into modern gaming. In Ticket to Ride you are trying to build routes between specific locations that you have on route cards. To do that, you need to take specific colored train cards to complete sections, get points, and get points for completing the routes. Ticket to Ride is a pretty simple game, but it’s a fun one as you try and figure out ways to get all your routes to stick together so you can get the bonus for a longest collection of trains in a row. This is very much a gateway game that a lot of people have seen, even if they haven’t played it. And the rules are simple, but there is a bit of strategy to it, to determine what routes you keep, to try and figure out where other people are going so that you know if you have to get ahead of them so that you can complete a route as efficiently as possible. This isn’t a big and thinky game, but it works really well at what it’s supposed to be, that game that almost anyone can sit down and play.
37 – King of Tokyo
Another gateway game, I’d say, is King of Tokyo. This game is all about giant, generic, monsters fighting in Tokyo and punching each other, who will be the last monster standing. Now, there is another way to win, by getting points, but most of the games of King of Tokyo that I’ve played, it’s been the last monster standing who won. The game is pretty simple as you are rolling dice Yahtzee style, so re-roll up to three times, to get things like fists for punching, energy to buy cards that give you a special power or points, hearts to heal, or just generic numbers that can maybe get you points. The trick of the game is that when you are in Tokyo, you can punch all the rest of the monsters around Tokyo with a single fist, but you can’t heal, so you have to decide how long you’ll stay in Tokyo, because you do get points for being there as well. The game is simple, it’s fast, and there is plenty of variety in the power cards that you can buy. All the monsters in the base game are generic monsters that a number of them are clearly riffing off of some other monsters like King Kong or Godzilla, but they didn’t get the rights to them. I wish each monster had their own powers, out of the box, but it is an expansion you can buy, if you have the 2nd edition of the base game, which I don’t. This really is one of those games, though, because of the simplicity that most people will enjoy, and because it’s rolling dice, it’s going to feel familiar, even though there’s more going on than a lot of old dice games.
36 – Onirim
This is the only purely solo game on my list, but one that I really enjoying playing with the cards and playing on the app. I think I like the physical copy more, just because I like to have the cards in my hand. But with digital one is nice since you shuffle cards a lot in the game. In the game, which is very abstract, you are in a dream world looking for doors to escape and trying to avoid nightmares. In reality, you are playing down groups of three cards, one at a time, in order to play doors, or getting them into play other ways and then discarding cards when nightmares come up, or spending keys that make it easier to put doors into play, but can also cancel a nightmare. If you get all the doors in play before the deck runs out, you escape the dream, if you don’t, you lose the game. I think I win just over 50% of the time. You can see a playthrough of this game on the Malts and Meeples YouTube channel. What I like about this game is that it is simple and fast, and you don’t need a ton of room to play it. I’ve been able to play the game while watching TV shows that I don’t need to fully pay attention to, because while there is a lot of good depth to the game, the decisions end up being somewhat clear, except when the nightmares come up, so you can play it fast with only paying some attention. If you are looking for a solo game to try, I’d highly recommend Onirim.
35 – Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate
The other Betrayal game that I’ve played will be much higher on the list. But Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate is a ton of fun as well and I like the Dungeons and Dragons setting. In it, you are a group of adventurers who are back in town and just going around, finding things in the town, however, there are horrible things lurking in the town waiting for one of you to betray your friends. To do this, you are finding omens, and if a roll happens where you don’t get a high enough result, the haunt happens. In the haunt, the betrayer has a secret objective and the rest of the players have their objective, and they know generally what the other persons is, so they are trying to stop them and complete their own objective. Or sometimes, it might be something like a dragon attack so everyone works together, which is fun as well. Then, whatever side gets their objective done wins. The game really plays in two different parts, and I think it works well. I like playing as a character with a unique power, and while the theme doesn’t quite fit the mechanics like the other Betrayal game, this one is still a lot of fun to play, and feels like they’ve improved some of the balancing of the game that the other Betrayal had. If you think Betrayal sounds interesting but don’t like horror, Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate does a good job with it’s fantasy Dungeons and Dragons theme.
34 – Zona: The Secret of Chernobyl
This game isn’t even out yet, I think they were selling copies at Essen Spiel in Germany this past week, but I got to play a good demo of it at GenCon, and I feel in love with it immediately. The aesthetic is very fun with the fallout of Chernobyl having caused mutated monsters to show up, plus there might be magic now. In the game you are looking for artifacts that you can use to get into the main vault at Chernobyl and probably unleash a horrible monsters, but theoretically it’s some treasure worth having. The game is challenging as it’s competitive and you’re racing your other players, fighting these mutants and dealing with events in the world. But you are finding gear that’s still left around, and it can be what you needed to take care of a monster. This seemed like it would be a pretty long game, but the aesthetic is great and what you are doing seems challenging enough, plus, you have a countdown before the treasure is lost forever, so you can’t spend too much time. I’m really waiting for this game to be for sale in the US, because I want to get to play it more and fight more monsters in hopes of finding out the secrets. The characters felt cool and different, the monsters were different, and how you fought them was cool. Definitely a bigger game than some of the previous ones on the list.
33 – Century: Golem Edition
This is another very pretty game, while Zona was very monster filled and post apocalyptic, Century is very cute with some very pretty gems. In this game, you are buying cards for your hand in order to improve the gems that you have, so you can get the right collection of gems so you can power up various golems which give you points. This is very much an engine building game where you are looking to get the right cards so that you can turn gems into various types easily. This game plays fast because you are either paying for a golem, trading gems, or getting a card. But for being a fairly simple and fast game, you definitely have a good amount of decisions to make as to how you build up your engine. The draw for people who might not be gamers with this game, because I could see using this as a gateway game, is that the pieces are amazing. There are so many pretty gems, the golems look amazing, and there are metal coins that are fun to hold and mess with. There is another version of Century, Century Spice Road that came out first, but the Golem Edition definitely looks better and will have a broader appeal.
32 – The Lost Expedition
You are walking through the jungles of South America, and you are searching for the fabled lost city of Z, will you be able to find it before all of your guides die? That’s what this cooperative game asks of it’s players as you spend resources like bullets and food to navigate cards as well as the various skills in survival, tracking, and nature that your guides have. I’m really noticing that the game higher on the list all really have very nice aesthetics, as this game has great artwork that looks like Tintin by Herge comic art. But, beyond that, this game does a cool thing where it is cooperative, but players have a hand of cards which is for creating a path for the morning and evening walks, but you can’t tell people what is in your hand, so you have to decide what to play down yourself, and you lose a bit of the alpha gamer. Then, as a group, you go down the path you laid out for the day in hopes to get closer to the lost city of Z, while keeping your guides in good shape. The thing is, you never will, but that’s just part of the game, the question is, can you rush along fast enough but not do too dangerously. The game makes you make tough decisions on when to play certain cards and you hope that you get the good cards when you need them, because, not enough food, a guide loses a health, or no bullet, might be a worse option instead that you have to do on a card with a jaguar. I think I have over a 50% win total, but it’s generally close and a lot of fun as you’re worried about it.
31 – Sushi Go Party!
Final game in this section of my top 100. This game is another good looking game, though less on the table, and more with the cute artwork on the cards. A lot of people will prefer 7 Wonders as a card drafting game, but for me, Sushi Go Party! is the better of the two games because the artwork is cute anthropomorphized little Japanese foods like nigiri, sashimi, or pudding. In this game, you are trying to gets sets of different types of cards to get you more points. To do this, you are taking one card from your hand of cards and playing that, then you pass your cards either to the left or to the right and the take a card from the hand of cards that is passed to you. But you are looking at a lot of different things to determine how you want to get points. If you get nigiri they are guaranteed points, but they aren’t a ton of points, and sashimi can be ten points, but only if you have three of them. And tofu is worth five points if you have two of them, but if you get a third, they are worth zero points, because you don’t want to fill up on tofu. This game has variable different scoring, so you can play it over and over again with different scoring and what you’ll be drafting will change up. It’s also a game that is pretty easy to teach, even with having that out there, and the cute looks helps make it interesting to more people.
Alright, another ten done, we’re getting close to the end, if I’m right, we’ll finish on Friday, which will be exciting. I’m glad that I have a board game night coming up soon so that I can get some of these games to the table again.
What are some games that look like fun from this part of the list. This is definitely a section of my top 100 where the games are a lot lighter, but definitely a good time to play. Are there any that you love? Are there any that you want to play?
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So, recently there’s been a trend in board games where apps or other pieces or technology are starting to get integrated into gaming. Then CMON announced Teburu a digital board set-up that allows the system to track where your characters are, have your player sheet …
Another GenCon game, this time a little roll and write about cats. And when you think about it, with how popular roll and write games are are right now with the likes of Welcome To…, That’s So Clever, Dino World, etc., and etc., and etc., it was only a matter of time before someone did one about cats and hit another area that is really popular in our culture.
Cat Cafe, as I said, is a roll and write game where you are trying to build up your best cat tree(s) so that you can attract the most cats possible. On every turn you roll a die for each player, plus one. Going in a circle, you draft dice until there is only one left. Then, you pick which die you want to use for drawing a symbol and which die you want to use to determining the placement on a cat free for that symbol. These symbols are things like food dishes, cat beds, toy mice, etc. You get points in the game for complete cat trees, but also for placing the certain cat items in a particular pattern, depending on what you’re drawing, on the cat trees.
I haven’t played this game a ton yet, but when I have, I’ve gone for a different strategy than the other person (oh, I should say this game plays up to four people). They went for the strategy of building up their cat trees as fast as possible, because once one person completes three cat trees that ends the game. I, on the other hand, went for building combos. The food dish wants to be surrounded by different items, so the more unique items, the more points you get, the mouse toys want to be a in connected path, so the more of those, the more points you get. I think that I messed up the strategy and wasn’t as efficient as I could have been for scoring points, but in the end, I lost a close game. I was kind of doing this intentionally because I wanted to see how balanced the game seemed. And while I do think you need to complete some cat towers to really have a chance, I don’t think it’s a race to completing the towers.
Aesthetically, I think that this is a pretty good looking game. The sheets are actually very nicely laid out to add to the puzzle aspect. But the dice in the game are bad. I have a picture on this page from Board Game Geek, those are not the dice you get with the game. The dice you get with the game look like someone took some old six sided dice (D6) and painted them again to be D6. So you can see the old pips underneath them and it makes no sense. I also wish that the score tallying area was a little bit larger. I do want to point out, though, that their pencils come with erasers, which is amazing. I really wish that more roll and write games did that.
Overall, Cat Cafe is a fun roll and write game. I wasn’t expecting anything too thinky, but Cat Cafe gives you some interesting choices to make. And with the drafting of the dice, I can see a lot of interesting choices coming up in the game. It’s definitely a roll and write that is a bit more than something like Second Chance, but probably around the same weight as Welcome To… in terms of the decision making, however, Cat Cafe is a smaller package. If you like roll and write games and are looking for another to try, I think that Cat Cafe could scratch that itch.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: B
Casual Grade: A-
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