After a busy Thanksgiving with a fair amount of driving, I’m back to posting. We’re onto Cyber Monday, but I don’t have anything that I’m really looking for, so let’s talk about some games that you can give to that solo gamer in your life,…
Tag: Mansions of Madness
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…
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…
Oh yeah, it’s Halloween time again. I think last year I did a few Halloween themed articles, this year, I’m going to do top five lists every Wednesday on different Halloween themed things in various mediums. Not sure which all topics will be covered, but I’m starting with board games.
Now, when I say things like “Halloween Horror” and “Spooky” in the title, these are games that fit the Halloween theme. It doesn’t mean that they are the scariest games out there, but instead, these are games that I want to play around Halloween, and there are games out there, like IT: Evil Below, that I’ve really interested in getting my hands on eventually, but that I haven’t played yet.
So with all that ado, let’s get onto the list:
There has been a murder, and one person as the ghost is trying to get investigators pointed down the path of whom their murder might be. This is a lighter game, but it’s an interesting and fun one that is accessible to most people. The artwork in this game is beautiful as well, as the ghost is giving you abstracted “visions” to see if you can match up those images with the location, the weapon, and the murder for your own personal case. Then you have to see if you can figure out which one of all of the cases actually is the murderer. The game has some weird methods for how you get to guess which one it is at the end, but those can be house ruled, basically just allowing everyone to guess at the end with all the card information. It’s also nice because you can talk as a group to help people who might be falling behind in understanding their cards. The aesthetic of the game is what really makes it a Halloween game. The cards artwork is just weird, sometimes haunting, and generally amazing.
4- Xenoshyft: Onslaught
This one is technically a horror game, but less of one than the higher ranked ones. I feel like this one you’re getting a bunch of Starship Troops as you fight off waves and waves of bug aliens. What works well in this game is that it’s a fully cooperative deck builder. So you can help each other out, but it’s also a game you’re not going to win that often as you start dealing with larger and larger bugs and they hit your base. This game has some nice pressure to it as you each are defending your own part of the base but you can help the other people out, so that means if you are the last one to go, there might not be much to help you, so you hope you are lucky enough to have some easy bugs you can take out without them getting through. The game is pretty easy to teach as well which is nice, so it’s one that you can get to the table easier or quicker as compared to some of the higher ranked games on this Halloween list.
3- Dead of Winter
There are so many zombie games out there. I haven’t actually played that many of them, but Dead of Winter is a big favorite of mine. The game puts you in charge of a group of survivors after the zombie apocalypse, so that’s normal. But then borrowing from The Walking Dead, the game isn’t as much about the zombies, though, if you aren’t careful they will kill you, it’s about who you can trust. You all have your secret goal that you need to do to win, and someone might be a traitor who is trying to get their own objective that’s different from the groups main objective. You always feel like you are pushing your luck in this game, and most of the time, you don’t know who you can trust. Dead of Winter is a big game with a lot of decisions, it’s probably a board game that would take a whole game night, if you wanted to get into it. There are a few wonky things about it, but that’s mainly with how the winners are determined, but the rest of the mechanics are great.
2- Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
I only wanted to put one Lovecraftian game on the list, and Mansions of Madness, to me, is the most Halloween. I think that Arkham Horror or Arkham Horror LCG also work, but with the app integration into the game, the little bits of random spookiness that can happen are really good. And the variety of scenarios is really good. And while I might personally be about done with the first scenario because I’ve played it a number of times, it’s good that it’s not too hard and enjoyable enough to replay. This game lets you feel the tension as you get injured and are running away from a monster in hopes that it won’t catch you, because another hit and you’ll likely go down. You get the pressure as your sanity slowly disappears, and you know that the plot is progressing, even if it feels like you aren’t progressing.
1- Betrayal at House on the Hill
Is this the best game on the list? It’s one of my favorite games that’s for sure, but with Betrayal at House on the Hill, it feels like Halloween. You are exploring an old spooky house with a group of misfits who probably shouldn’t be working together. Then, in a twist, one of the people turns on the group to enact some evil plan. There can be issues understanding the haunt and how it works, but the haunts are extremely thematic, and if you can immerse yourself in the theme of the game, that balancing issue of the haunt is much less of an issue. This would be the game that I’d pull out nine times out of ten when someone who has played some board games says they want to play a scary board game or a Halloween board game.
There are so many more Halloween games that I want to play. I haven’t played Fury of Dracula, and that seems like an important Halloween game to play. I haven’t played any Zombicide game, and that might not happen, but a game like Legendary Encounters: Alien is interesting to me as well. Or, in my collection, I have Shadows of Brimstone, that game has great horror themes, but it’s a big game that is hard to get to the table at times, so I just don’t have enough experience with it to put it on the list. I’m also curious to see if a game like Folklore: The Affliction, would make it to the list as well.
What are some of your favorite horror board games? Is there one, based off of my top 5 that you think I need to play?
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Board Game Battle – Star Wars Imperial Assault vs Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth vs Mansions of Madness
We have a triple threat match this time as we have three heavyweights from Fantasy Flight facing off. The reason that they get to face off is because all of them have app integration. What this means for all these games is that you don’t…
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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