If you’ve been keeping track of this site for a while, you’ve seen me talk a lot about Pandemic Legacy Season 1, and play through Season 1 on Malts and Meeples. I haven’t talked as much about Pandemic Legacy Season 2 and my experience with…
Sometimes going to visit family can be a lot around the holidays. If you want to find something you can do together, board games are often a fun option, though not for every family. If you think your family would like board games, here are some options that you can give as a gift to hopefully add even more good times to your holidays.
Most of these games are going to be pretty simple and easy to play with a range of ages and are often called introductory games. While, if you are a seasoned gamer, these might be a little bit lighter than you’d want to play all the time, but it’s a good compromise with family who might only want to play very light games or “classic” games like Uno and Monopoly.
Carcassonne – This game can actually be a bit more challenging for new players when it comes to placing out their meeples. When do they do it, where should they do it, how do farmers even work? But the tile playing piece is something that is very easy for people to pick up on and fun for people to do. It’s a fun game for that tile laying aspect, and once they have down the basics of the scoring, and scoring at least towns and monasteries are easy to understand, Carcassonne is a good game for the whole family.
Castle Panic – This game skews a little bit younger, but maybe you have a younger sibling or niece of nephew who you want to get into gaming or a grand child. Whatever the relationship might be, Castle Panic is a fun game. It’s simple as to how it works, it’s cooperative, so you can all plan out things together and that makes it easier to teach as well. Definitely, once they start to get the idea of the game hang back and let them take the lead, but this tower defense card game is a lot of fun, and easy for younger kids to pick up. There is also My First Castle Panic for even younger kids.
Century: Golem Edition – I picked this one over the normal version, Century: Spice Road, because the gems in this game are cooler than cubes in Spice Road. It’s a pretty simple game of collecting gems, getting cards, using those cards to get other types of gems, and turning in gems for golems. This game has a bit more going on to it, but the turns are very fast, and since you can only do one action per turn, it makes it easier for people to figure it out as they go along. The table appeal is great for this game as well.
Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger – Now, this one is completely different and might be too silly for some people in your family. But in Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger, you are going through chapters of this story, making choices and rolling dice once in a while to see if you can complete a challenge. This is really a story telling game, and it would be an easy one to play just sitting around a living room without needing a table. This game is light, easy and cooperative.
Dice Throne Season 1 – This game is just silly in a very different way than Choose Your Own Adventure. This one is also about the opposite of a cooperative game as you’re having different contestants fight against each other in a dice chucking game. But it is also familiar because it’s yahtzee style rolling, just with more added onto it. It would be a fun one to face off different characters against each other and see who can do the best. The games also play fast, so you could do a small tournament if you wanted and had the right group. The art in the game is also fun, and the dice are great. I’d recommend the first season of the game though, as the second season has more complicated characters.
Draftosaurous – Draftosaurous is a game that I’ve only played once, but it was a ton of fun when I did. In it, you are drafting dinosaur and scoring them in different ways. The ways are simple and you can easily explain them as often as you want in your game without slowing down the game. Plus, the dinosaurs are meeples, which look amazing. So it has a cute factor going for it as well. The game also plays very quickly, so you might end up playing a few in a row. But the game isn’t so simple that people will get board with it fast.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – People will be drawn to games with an intellectual property (IP) that they recognize. And Harry Potter is a very popular IP that most people are at least familiar with, even if they haven’t seen all the movies or read all the books. This is a deck building game, so it has a little bit to teach with deck building if people aren’t familiar with it, but the first few games, which have bad guys from the first few books, keep the game simple so that people can understand it. Eventually you get more complex things, but by then, people should be familiar with deck building enough that more won’t complicate it for them. It’s a good fun game, and has a little bit more than some other games.
ICECOOL – This one, if you’ve followed my top 100 and my thoughts on the game, shouldn’t be a surprise to you. Icecool is a great family game that anyone can play. Even younger kids can play with only possibly needing to make the rules simpler just for scoring, and go with more of a tournament rule style. This game is just about flicking penguins around and having a silly good time. If you want to play it on a table, you can, if you want to play it on the floor you can. Adults might find it a bit too simple, but it is meant to be silly fun more than a strategic match.
Just One – Yes, it showed up on the stocking stuffer list, but it works well here also. It’s a cooperative party game, and instead of just pulling out the old ones at your parents or grandparents place, Just One offers something new. The game play is easy and the components are nice. The concept of the game is also easy to teach. This game should work well in most settings and with a wide age range, from Grandma and Grandpa to your 10 year old cousin.
Lost Expedition – Another cooperative game, but I really think that for family weight games, cooperative games are great. They are good introductory level and for people who might not like conflict in games, they work well. Lost Expedition is all about going and trying to find the lost city of Z. However, there are plenty of challenges you have to get through each morning and evening as you hike. If you don’t ration out your resources, you might die before they get there, but with some clever path construction, you can rush to the end before you run out of resources. The game is quite easy to explain and the artwork is nice. This game also helps keep alpha players from running the table.
Machi Koro – I’m not going to suggest any Machi Koro in particular, but if you think people will like the game, I recommend the legacy version. For me, that game seemed to play faster than the base game and being able to make the game unique to the person who is getting it, that’s something that is cool and most games don’t do. This is a tableau building game, but you can more easily explain it that you are trying to build up the best town by getting buildings and building monuments. Turns are pretty fast in Machi Koro, especially when people start to become familiar with the cards. And the cards are pretty simple, so it shouldn’t take too long. While not my favorite game, it’s a good one that is easy to teach to a lot of different levels of players.
Pandemic – I’m sure you expected this one to be on the list, but it’s a good and straightforward cooperative game. It’s also one that even if people aren’t gamers, they might have seen before. It’s also challenging enough that the person you give it to won’t get bored with it or beat it too often right away. And when they start to, there are expansions that can be added to change up the game to make it more challenging. This game of player powers and curing diseases also has a theme that people will be able to understand quickly, even if the game is fairly abstract.
Potion Explosion – The toy factor to this game is high with all the marbles in it, but the game itself is pretty simple. You are collecting marbles to complete potions to help you get more marbles. The game play is simple just pulling out a marble, if like colored marbles hit, you get those marbles, and it can cascade onward. These marbles you then use to complete potions, and the potions give you more things that you can do to get more marbles. But the game is really about pulling out those marbles and letting them hit and getting a whole bunch of marbles when they keep on doing that. Turns are pretty fast, and the concept is easy to grasp, especially with so many app games doing something similar.
Sagrada – A game about making stained glass windows, this looks great on the table with translucent dice that actually help make it look like stained glass. Another drafting game, this one you are taking dice that match specific colors or numbers to try and fill in your stained glass windows. The scoring for the game is pretty simple, and while there are some powers that are a bit tricky, there are plenty of simple ones you can start with, and I often choose those for the first game. The concepts are simple, like numbers and colors can’t go next to each other orthogonally (in rows and columns), and you have to place the die you drafted next to another one, diagonally or orthogonally. Definitely one that most people will pick up on fast.
Second Chance – Another one from the stocking stuffer list, but this is my roll and write (or flip and write as the case might be) for the list. Second Chance just works well because of the Tetris like shapes and people understand trying to fill in an area as much as possible. It is pretty solitaire as what other people are doing won’t affect you, but the game is pretty when it’s completed and a fast game to play. Generally I don’t see people only playing a single game of it, you at least play two, one for each side of your sheet before being done.
Small World – Another classic modern game, Small World is an area control game where you get points for all the areas that you have and other scoring, such as what type of area you are in. It’s a silly game that can be a bit mean, but the nice thing about how this game can be mean is that if you are almost kicked off the board, you can go into decline, get a new race next turn and go onto the board. That’s the only tricky part about the game, in my opinion, knowing when to go into decline and understanding that it is your whole turn. The combinations of races and powers are what then make the game stand out, because who doesn’t want flying halflings or maybe seafaring dwarves. You never know what combination you might get or want.
Sushi Go Party! – Now, this is a bit more complex than just normal Sushi Go, but because of that complexity, if offers variability which will keep it coming to the table longer. In the game you are drafting different types of foods to create the best meal and scoring points over three rounds. Depending on what type of food it is, it’ll score you points in various ways. Maybe you want three sashimi to get 10 points, but will get three of them, whereas tofu scores you points for two of them, but if you get a third, you don’t get any points, because you don’t want to fill up on tofu. The game can take a little bit to get into, but if you play a pretty basic set-up to start, people will catch on fast.
Ticket to Ride – The Train Game, as a lot of people call it, is a classic family weight game where you’re trying to complete various routes. This game has a little bit of strategy in it, mainly in picking your routes to help create the longest route, but beyond that, it’s collecting sets of cards and building your train routes. What works well in this game is that the rules are simple and you only do one thing on your turn. This helps people not be bogged down by all the options available. While this game doesn’t have a ton of variety in the base box, there are other maps you can get for it that’ll change up how the game works once you’ve played through the base game enough. But this one is a good one to add to parents or grand parents collection and play once or twice a year around the holidays.
Wits & Wagers – Final game on the list, and other party game. This one is my favorite trivia style party game, because you don’t need to be great at trivia. You just have to know, who in the group, might know the answer or be closest to the answer, without going over. All the questions have answers that are numbers, so you put down your answer and then bet on what answer you think is right. If you are correct, you get your money back plus some, depending on how close to the middle it was, so you can bet on your answer, if you think you are right, or you can go with the person who you think might know more about it than you do. It’s a fun and sometimes funny game that is good for a whole family and because of how it works, can play with younger kids.
Now, there are so many more family games out there. I left some off the list that I like, simply because I had something similar on the list. Dice Throne could have easily been left off the list for King of Tokyo that has a similar mechanic, but I also wanted to provide some different options as well. Hopefully you can play some of these with family or friends over the holidays, and maybe give them to them as a gift so that they can introduce them to their friends and grow the board gaming hobby.
What are some of your favorites from my list? Is there a game that you’ve found works well as a gift?
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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…
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 in one Kallax shelf that quickly got full so I have a few games for streaming up in another location, and a few games that I don’t need as often down in the basement, don’t worry, the basement is dry.
And I’ve been picking up games, I got a bunch of games at GenCon on August, I’ve gotten Lords of Hellas, Blood Rage, and Deep Madness from a local game store, used, to add to my collection. How can you keep a collection under control to have what you really want in it? And not to have games that are just going to sit around and never be played?
There are a few different factors that I look at when I consider what board games I want to keep or what games I want to get rid of. I think the mindset has to be there that you are looking for games to get rid of, not just games to keep, because I could make an argument to keep all of the games. Instead, look for the games that you can remove, not just to keep the collection smaller, but also to open up more room in your collection.
The first thing that I look at, and even though I find the extreme version of this dumb, is, does it give me joy. A lot of people take that to the extreme and end up getting rid of so much that they actually do miss it and realize it was and has given you joy. But, for a board game, I look at it this way, if I didn’t play it again, would I care that much? With the batch of culling that I’m doing right now, I considered the game Krosmaster Arena. While that game has adorable little figures, and I do enjoy the game, I won’t miss playing it. So, it doesn’t really bring me that much joy, but looking at another game I considered, Dead Men Tell No Tales. That game I’ve had more fun times with, and I would still pull it off the shelf and play it, even though I haven’t in a long time.
Next, when considering getting rid of a game, I also look at how much I have that is like it. Now, I have a number of deck builders, Xenoshyft: Onslaught, Clank! In! Space!, Ascension, and more, so I got rid of one of them? No, because I like all of those games and they give me joy, but when I considered the game Unspeakable Words, which the little chibi Cthulhu in it still entertain me, I realized that I have other word games, Quiddler and soon Letter Jam and I don’t think, when I want to play a word game, that I’d ever pull Unspeakable Words off of the shelf again. So there are times when a game might bring you some joy, but if you’re never going to play it again, it might be time to take it off of the shelf. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, because there will be times where you have some games that you just want to keep because of the memories that you have with those games.
I also consider if there is a new edition, and this ties into the previous point, but in some ways it’s a little bit different. For example, I am getting rid of Arkham Horror because I have the newest edition of Arkham Horror, and while I’ve had fun with the 5-6 hour game that the Arkham Horror was, I’m not going to get that to the table over a 3 hour or slightly less Arkham Horror 3rd Edition, or even a game like Arkham Horror The Card Game or Mansions of Madness. Or I’m getting rid of Machi Koro: Bright Lights Big City. Now, I don’t have another version or edition of that on my shelf, but I know that Machi Koro Legacy is out, and when you are done with Machi Koro Legacy, you still have a playable game of Machi Koro. So I’m not going to need both versions of the game in my collection, because they would fill the same need, and I can simply pull out the completed Legacy version.
I also ask myself if a game is still my taste or if I need a game like it still in my collection. Your collection can have only games that you love in it, and maybe only one type of game, but I personally think that you can have a breath of games and find some things out of your comfort zone that you kind of like, you should keep that in your collection or add it to your collection. Now, these games might not give you joy, but there are times and occasions to pull them out. I’m not a huge of Splendor, I think the game works decently, but it doesn’t excite me to play it. But that game came off the shelf a few weeks ago, because we needed a short game that is easy to teach. So sometimes you keep a game that you don’t love and you maybe have other versions of it that you like better, Century: Golem Edition scratches the same itch that Splendor does for me, but you keep the game because it is easy to get to the table in certain situations.
Finally, it might be a game that you’ve never played and never will play. Maybe there is a game so important to keep in your collection just to have collected it, that isn’t a thing for me, but sometimes, if a game has sat around long enough, it’s time to move on from it, because you won’t be able to play it. This is especially the case if you’ve tried to play it or tried to learn it and it just doesn’t look interesting or you can’t find the group. If you’ve tried to play it and you can’t find people to play it with, you have to decide if it’s worth keeping in your collection and if it’s stopping you from adding something you can play to your collection. Now, it might be that it is worth having it, and that is cool, because there will probably be a time, sometime in the future, where you find the right group to play it with, but if you don’t care that much, it might be time to move on from it instead of letting it eat up space.
So, let’s talk a little bit about what I’m getting rid of and why:
KrosMaster Arena: I think this game is the hardest to explain why. I enjoy the game, but I just know that I’m not going to consistently get it to the table again. And I think when it comes down to it, I have other dice chucking fighting games that I like better.
Rise of Queensdale: I was looking forward to playing this legacy game, because it’s a legacy game. With that said, the group I was going to play this with fell apart and I haven’t even removed it from the shrink, and that was about a year ago. So I don’t think I’ll find a group to play it and I have other legacy games, Betrayal Legacy, and probably in the future Clank! Legacy, Machi Koro Legacy, and Pandemic Legacy Season 3 that I’m going to prefer to play.
Unspeakable Words: This game was mainly kept around because the Cthulhu minis were cute. I have other word games that I’d pull out before it, and for me, the game is too random with it’s dice.
Forbidden Desert: A lot of people would keep this game as an introductory coop game in their collection. And I considered it for that reason, especially since I got rid of Forbidden Island before, but I have Pandemic, and I can teach and play that game as an introductory coop game.
Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City: Machi Koro Legacy is a thing that I’m going to want to play.
Albion’s Legacy: An interesting one to get rid of, because I haven’t played it, nor have I tried to play it. I got it for free at GenCon, and I wasn’t really that interested in it, but free things. So might as well get rid of it instead of having it take up space on my shelf.
Arkham Horror 2nd Edition: I have the 3rd Edition, and it just takes too long. I’m not going to get it to the table again over the 3rd edition because of the amount of time. I’d prefer to open up room for expansions for 3rd Edition.
That’s all of the games that are leaving this time. I could have maybe found a couple more small box games, but the small box game area still had room, so I didn’t look too hard at it.
Now, what I didn’t talk about was where to get rid of these games. I think that’ll be a separate post, but I sell mine for store credit, you know, to get more games.
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We’re back again, now time for the disclaimer text.
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.
90 – Carcassonne
First classic game on the list, I’d say. This is a tile laying game that has been around for a long time, though, not as long as games like Clue and Monopoly that didn’t make my top 100. In Carcassone, you are trying to connect roads together and build cities, monasteries, and farms. All of these things give you points and when all the tiles have been played you tally up any final scoring and the person with the most points wins. What’s interesting about this game is that as you complete cities and roads where you have placed a knight or a robber, which are just meeples, you get those meeples back, so you are trying to balance getting a lot of points in a single road or city, and not having all your meeples on the board so you miss scoring.
89 – Dead of Winter: The Long Night
So, this is technically an expansion. But it’s also technically stand alone, so I’m placing it on my list because you don’t need Dead of Winter to play it. In this game, like Dead of Winter, you are protecting your base against zombies, however, they add in a few things, like a bandit module, a building module, and a Umbrella Corporation, I mean Raxxon, expansion. This game adds more to a game that already has a bunch of stuff going on in it, hence why it’s a bunch lower than the original, plus, it’s just hard to beat the original. I’d definitely play with any of the expansions though.
88 – Splendor
We’re going away from a more thematic game and going into a game that is purely tableau building. The “theme” of this game is that you are a gem merchant who is buying single use gems to get other gems that you have all the time, okay, that doesn’t make sense. But that’s what you’re doing in the game. Some of the gem cards that you’ll buy will have points on them, and the first person to 15 points wins. This is a great introductory tableau game that looks nice on the table. The game comes with a bunch of cards but what most people notice are the power chips that represent the single use gems that you’ll be getting early in the game. They are nice and weighty and give the game a good tactile feel. This is game that I’ll always play and have a good time with, there are other games higher on the list that fit a similar niche that I prefer though.
87 – Stuffed Fables
Your girl has had her favorite blanket stolen, and as her fearless stuffed animals, you are going to go into the depths of the world under the bed to get back that blanket without waking up the girl. This is a very cute game with cute stuffed animal minis. It’s what is known as a storybook game where you flip to different pages in the book, depending on what you do, and play through different chapters of an adventure by playing through the little scene that is in the book. Stuffed Fables definitely is focused for children, though feels like it’s a bit too complex for most younger children that the story targets more so. The game looks great though, and because it’s cooperative, you can work together as a group, which would be how you can get younger gamers to play and understand what is going on. Eventually this will be something that I play through with our baby.
86 – Legends of Andor
We’re into one of the first story driven fantasy games on the list. I’ve played this one a few times, and what is interesting about this game is that killing monsters causes the story to progress faster. Each round advances, and eventually you run out of turns, and you’d lose the game, but if too many monsters get to the castle, you lose the game, if you kill too many monsters and use up the rounds, you lose the game. This is a fun fantasy puzzle story game, because beating the monsters isn’t always hard, but knowing when to beat the monsters and when to focus on story elements, it’s a challenge. There are a bunch of different scenarios in the game, all of which seem interesting, and there are a bunch of expansions for it. It’s a big fantasy game, but at the same time, it’s not a complex fantasy game, so it’s a good introductory one for younger gamers.
85 – Lord of the Rings
This is the classic Fantasy Flight game where you play as up to five Hobbits traveling to Mount Doom to throw the one ring in. Yes, you read that correctly up to five Hobbits. If you have five players, one person can play as Fatty Bolger. Who is Fatty Bolger, he’s the hobbit who they invite along after add in Merry and Pippin but who declines, if you’ve read the books you’re apt to remember him. This game feels fairly thematic, but mainly feels like a puzzle as you try and play combinations of cards to advance through different locations before time runs out. It’s not a very heavy game, but there are interesting choices, and anyone can hold the ring, so Sam does, always, because he’s steadfast and hard to move. They made a lot of expansions for it as well. If you don’t want a big card game or a big minis game for Lord of the Rings, this is a fun option.
84 – Pandemic Legacy Season 2
We’ll see Season 1 higher on the list, but I did enjoy my playthrough, just not as much as the first season. I won’t go into spoilers, because this is a legacy game, but Pandemic Legacy Season 2 has a bit less direction while having a few clear things to do as well. It’s confusing with how I wrote it, but it still tells a good story. I feel like with the story, though, you’re waiting for the twist to happen like there was at some point in time in season one. What is cool about this one is that the mechanics are different, but they still feel like Pandemic. I’ll be playing through this at some point in time on Malts and Meeples, so if you want spoilers, that’s where it’ll be. Even though it’s a story driven legacy game, I feel like there’s plenty that you can play again with it after a bit of time. Downside is that to do that, you need a new version of the game.
83 – Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
This is a massively bloated game at this point with 20000000000000 different expansions, and that is only using half the characters that Marvel has. In this game there is a villain whom a group of players with hero cards are going to attempt to defeat. It’s pretty standard in how you deck build with a changing market, but it gives you some interesting things like trying to build up enough damage to take out the villain enough times, while also trying to keep a handle on the different henchmen that are coming out. What makes this game tricky is that there are literally too many options now for the game. If you just pick what Marvel superheroes you like, you might end up with a group of heroes that don’t synergize at all, and then the game is going to take way longer than it should be build up the combos that you’re generally looking for in deck building games. However, if you just have the base game, you have enough to keep yourself busy for a while. This is a game that I’ve grown to like more as I’ve played more deck building games.
82 – Arkham Horror 2nd Edition
Yes, this is not the new edition, in fact, the new edition that I’m stoked to try, it’s not on my list, because I haven’t tried it yet. It’s sitting on my shelf just waiting to get played. But this is the massive older version where you are going around Arkham and adventuring and closing gates, fighting monsters, and then probably losing for up to six hours. Like I said, it’s a massive game and that’s without any of the expansions. I’ve really only played this once, and not even my copy, but it was blast, it’s just hard to carve out that much time. I am probably going to keep this game, because it’s the first massive epic game I bought, but also because it seems different enough from the 3rd edition that I probably have room on my self for both. If you like that older grind of a game, this one still holds up well, and there are tons of expansions for it, but you’ll also need a giant table for it.
81 – Dead Men Tell No Tales
I was hoping that this game would replace Pandemic in some ways or be another cooperative option, and I think that it almost does that, but you’ll see where Pandemic falls on my list. In Dead Men Tell No Tales, you are a group of pirates who are going onto a ship that is haunted by ghosts, on fire, and has a skeleton crew, but you’re willing to brave all of that, because the captain will make you walk the plank, and there’s treasure on this burning ship. You take your turn, dealing with fire, taking out those skeletons, trying to build up so you can fight the ghosts, but doing all of that while the ship continues to burn, and you hope that it doesn’t get too bad so that you can’t get to where you need to. It’s like Pandemic in that you have a ton of things that you can do and you never feel like you have enough actions. Or that your actions won’t do anything, and that’s one cool thing about the game, if you only have two useful actions out of your four or five, you can pass your unused ones to the next player so that they can get more done. If you want something that’s cooperative and the theme seems more interesting than Pandemic, I think you’d enjoy Dead Men Tell No Tales.
We’re through another ten, I’m planning that next week, besides Wednesday which will be Halloween focused, I’m going to continue going through my top 100, otherwise it could take a while.
What game from this section looks the most interesting to you? Is there one that you’ve wanted to play? Is there one that would be higher on your own list?
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So, recently, as I’ve been posting out, I’ve finished a playthrough of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 solo on Youtube. You can find that on Youtube at Malts and Meeples or on the Nerdologists. But, I wanted to go back to this game and write an…