Alright, I said I was going start another top 5 list, these are games that can either only be played with two players or are best with two players. There are some games that might have 2-4 players, but are really two player games, because […]
Tag: Star Wars Rebellion
Between campaign building, I want to go back to some of the board game lists. And this is probably my favorite mechanic for a game, where people can do things just a bit differently than other players. 5. SmallworldThe lightest game on the list by far, […]
Jumping back into another board game list, this time going with another mechanic I like quite well. Area control is a fun mechanic because it really pushes conflict in the game, and the games that do area control well really encourage that conflict to happen.
5. Risk Legacy
Yes, I could have put normal risk on the list, but I think that Risk Legacy is a way more enjoyable game. You could win a game of Risk Legacy by conquering the whole world, but you don’t need to, so it takes a game that can be a long slog and having players getting knocked out early, and turns it into a shorter and more focused game where someone might be knocked out, but they won’t be out completely. The dice are still extremely fickle, and with all the games higher on the list, there are ways to mitigate the dice, if there are even dice. Spoiler, only one more of them has dice. I don’t mind dice in a game, and in a shorter game like Risk Legacy, it works. There isn’t a ton to unlock in the game, but what you do unlock is fun, and creates some interesting choices as to what to play.
4. Cry Havoc
A game that I’ve only gotten to the table once, and it has a bit of a euro game feel for something that is heavily focused on area control. It is fun because the different actions trying to get gems on the planet all work differently. The Pilgrims don’t care about controlling as many areas because they score points better off of gem production. Whereas in a four player game, the Trogs just swarm out over the board very quickly, but can get spread thin if the player isn’t careful. Each faction handles area control just a bit differently, but they all seem balanced which is great.
3. Star Wars: Rebellion
While arguably a better game tactically than the next game, Star Wars: Rebellion does have the downside of being a two player game. There is a lot more going on in Rebellion than just area control as well, but controlling certain areas, getting troops built and deployed in areas that you do control, especially as the Empire really helps you lock down the position of the Rebels. With that, you also have the option of trying to slow down production by sabotaging different planets. This game has a lot going on in it, but it works really well and feels like an epic Star Wars struggle between the Rebels and Empire.
The silliest game on the list, but Smallworld really has a nice streamlined area control mechanic. It really does push for a ton of conflict, and that’s fine, because you are swapping out race and power combinations throughout the game, Mary might attack Tom to start the game, but in a few turns, Tom will be attacking Mary and destroying all of her troops. It does a good job of making the combat and wiping another player off the board seem not personal. The goofy theme and fun combinations does really help that aspect of the game as well.
1. Blood Rage
To me, Blood Rage might not do area control the best, but put together in the package of the whole game play, it’s area control and everything work extremely well. I also like that it’s area control can be known in some ways, but there are strategies that are fine if you die because you get more points or because you can take something from your enemy as well and as the player you get to decide how you want to focus in on area control. But you can’t lose all the time because you’re letting other players get points for upgrading their troop totals, action points, and other things.
What games could fall on a honorable mention list, and I really only mention some of these because they have a little bit of area control:
King of Tokyo – Technically you are vying for control of Tokyo. However, this simple dice chucker could just have you win without going into Tokyo at all, and there is only one area to control.
Carcassonne – Another one that doesn’t have much area control, you could argue that the original farmer rules are area control, because it’s who ever has the most farmers in an area.
Smash Up – Definitely are control, but I just got rid of my copy. Not because it’s a bad game, but because there are a million expansions. Also, it’s a game that seems to sit with a sweet spot of three players and more or less makes for a less enjoyable experience with it.
What are some other area control games that I should check out? I have Scythe sitting on my shelf waiting to be played, so eventually, I wouldn’t be surprised if that makes the list.
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
So another mechanic that I like a good amount is area control. Area control is the mechanic in which you get a bonus for having the most figures in the area or the only figures in the area, so, you have control of the area. Area control is a very common mechanic for war based games but has made it’s way into a number of other games as well. Primarily, though, I’ve played the combat focused area control games.
There is a grand-daddy of all area control games, and that’s Risk. Probably as I was describing area control, that’s what popped into a lot of peoples heads, trying to control the continent so that you can get the bonus troops. So while you might be getting the two bonus troops from Australia, how do you get out of Australia so you don’t have to try and take over Asia, because that will never work. However, if that’s what you’re thinking of for area control, you might not be a big fan of area control games. Risk has one major issue that cropped up in it and other older area control games. That being the one that I might have one troop and you might have twenty, but because I’m the defensive players and win ties, I might be able to deplete your troop if I get lucky rolling the dice.
Risk also has one more fairly large issue besides the dice, and that’s the length of game and the fact that a player can be eliminated and then might have to sit around another four hours if they want to see how the game ends. Thankfully, that’s a part of a lot of area control games that has since gone away. In every game I mention below, if you are knocked off the board, you are always able to come back, or in the case of Star Wars: Rebellion, if that was to happen, that would likely just end the game, especially if the Empire did that to the Rebels.
Modern area control games do several things to try and mitigate die rolling, though some of them still use that as the luck for the game so that doesn’t because a complete strategy game.
Star Wars: Rebellion is a game that has more going on in it than just area control, but there is that aspect where if you have more planets and certain planets you’ll be able to build more ships. The combat is based on a die pool that you build with the troops you have. There are a couple of things to make this not just a die roll to see who wins. First, you have the ability to negate hits by playing cards or add in additional hits by playing cards. You have a limited number of cards, but you can possibly get more as you go through combat. Also, the ships or troops you bring in do damage of certain types, depending on the color of dice, and same with how ships take damage. While there is some universal damage, it means you could easily out number someone, but if your troops can’t hit their troops as well, they can come in and wipe you out. This is one that is still primarily die rolling through, but it’s not longer just pure luck.
Smallworld is probably the most Risk like in terms of area control on the list, because the game is purely area control. You get points for controlling certain areas and any skills that you might have. But Smallworld removes basically all luck from the game. The luck comes from correctly using your race and special ability and being able to find one that is working well. However, when taking over an area, the rule is simple, you need one more piece of cardboard, the troops are cardboard, than is on the spot you are trying to take over. Where there is a tiny bit of luck is that you can push for a final take over at the end of your turn. So if you have one guy left and you want to take over a spot with one guy on it, you can roll a die that hope to get two or better. The downside is that this isn’t a normal six sided die so there are multiple blanks and multiple ones that are going to stop it from succeeding most of the time.
There are some games that just do away with die rolling for area control. Blood Rage and Cry Havoc are two examples of how this can work very differently. In Blood Rage you have an action point economy that is helping you put troops onto the board into areas. The areas have a certain number of spots for troops, so you can try and totally control and area, but if you out number your opponent in the area or you have good combat cards, you can try and take over an area to get the reward while it is contested. The luck in this combat comes from playing a variety of combat cards, though only one per combat. Some of the combat cards just add a large combat value, others may cancel other combat cards or steal some of their rage, which are your action points. So while winning a combat is generally the best, there are strategies where you can play without controlling too many areas.
Cry Havoc, a game about collecting gems on a crazy planet. In fact it reminds me a lot of Avatar. This is extremely unique area control. So you score based off of having the most gems at various times, but to have gems, you must control the areas with the gems. So you’re in conflict with the other players over the areas. Instead of doing a straight swap of troops or rolling to see if you kill, there is a combat board. There are three areas of the combat board, you can control the area, kill the other persons troops, or take prisoners. What’s interesting with this is that even if your troops in the control the area are killed later in combat, if you have the most there, you still control the area. So the combat has a bit of a puzzle feel because of the order of combat. Then there are cards you can play that allow you to adjust combat once you’ve seen what your enemy is doing as well. It is an extremely unique combat for area control and one that seems fairly polarizing.
Now, all of these are games where area control is a huge part of the game and you are looking to keep control of areas throughout the game. Area control does go into other games as well.
An interesting example of this is a combat game still, but is handled differently than most games like it. The game is Sword and Sorcery. It’s a pretty standard dungeon crawler, but it looks like a lot of fun. I haven’t played it yet, but it’s a game that I might track down for live streaming at some time. In the game there are a couple of different options for controlling spaces while fighting an enemy. If you have more characters than the enemy does in the area, you might get a special bonus, if you have twice as many characters, then you get an even better bonus. However, the same is true if the enemies out number the troops. This means that you have to go in with force yourself, and you may not want to divide and conquer in some situations, but you might also want to divide and conquer in others to keep the troops from all rushing to a single injured party member.
Area control is a mechanic that can show up in a number of games. Clearly I have it focused more on combat games. I think that there are some games with area control that might have more of an Euro aspect to them, but a lot of them are more the Ameri-thrash games. The reason for that is that a lot of area control does rely on luck, so it is less planned than a lot of euro games are. However, there are likely some games out there that are handling it in a Euro game, and even Cry Havoc has some Euro tendencies for a combat area control game.
What are some area control games that you like? For the most part I like all of the games I’ve talked about with the exception of Risk, and even Risk I’ve had plenty of fun times playing it. Area control games can be fun, but you have to be willing to be cut throat.
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
If you go into Fantasy Flight Game Center (or to their website), you see loads and loads of board games that have Star Wars on the side of the box. They have X-Wing, Armada, Rebellion, Imperial Assault, Legion, and Destiny, and I’m probably missing a couple, not to mention the RPG where they have Force and Destiny, Edge of the Empire, and Age of Rebellion. It’s really cool to see them because they all give you different feels for games, Rebellion lets you feel like you’re controlling the over arching saga of the original trilogy. X-Wing gives you space dog fights, and Armada gives you big interstellar combat. Imperial Assault gives you quick hitting rebel missions and Legion pits larger forces against each other. And Destiny gives you a card game with Star Wars art and a lot of fun dice.
These are all games that Fantasy Flight has taken from a license and turned into a ton of products. I’m pretty sure I’m evening missing a game. There are also other games like the Game of Thrones living card game or the new game that came out from CMON, Song of Ice and Fire. There’s a whole system of games, the Legendary Encounters based off of Marvel Legendary (another licensed property) for Alien, Predator, Firefly, Big Trouble in Little China, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and now X-Files. The point of writing all of that was that there are a ton of board games that have cool properties behind them and there are more coming out all of the time.
Unlike Robin Hood and Lovecraft’s work which can be slapped on anything because they are public domain, there are a lot that need to be licensed. So, what are some of these other stories that I can to see board games made out of?
I’m going to give the title of the book, TV show, movie, and some description of what I think would make it an interesting game or how I might go about building a game. I’m also going to be avoiding things that I know are already board games, you might not know there is a Kung-Fu Panda game, but there is, so I won’t be making my own for that.
R.I.P.D. is a movie and comic about a cop who dies and then becomes a cop in the after life taking crazy bad guys. I like the theme for this one and think that with a bunch of minis and different cops who you could play, it could be a fun game playing against a scenario(s). You’d be trying to defeat different bad guys, or maybe a scenario would have you get information while trying to survive long enough to get back out. There’s a good number of stories that you could do with it, and while it is a lot of the current meta, I’d lean into the supernatural. Give the players and monsters abilities that they can use that are a bit game breaking, but come at a cost to the monsters of the players. That would then give the game a unique feel as compared to other scenario based games because it’s the last ditch sort of move instead of other variable player powers.
Now, there is something coming out that can have some tie in to this series by Patrick Rothfuss, but I want to take it in a different direction than that game. That one looks like it is more about the whole fantasy world, and like I said, it isn’t an actual game on the series, it just has a module for it, so it counts for me. I’d focus on the time at the university. People could take on different students, doing different things for different classes and the game would be split into four or five parts which would be different years at the school. Each turn you’d take an action to either study, go to classes, make money, or if you are playing a character who has money, just get money. You’d play as different characters who are studying at the university and at the end of each round you’d score points and depending on how you did and your income, you’d get your tuition set for the next year which would take money from you, and you’d repeat the process. If you didn’t have enough money, you’d be limited to actions in town or going and taking out a loan to be able to stay in school, but that would be costly for you. I think you could make this game interesting by having characters increase in skills, do sneaky things, and complete missions for teachers. I think I’d then have the players try and get as many points as they could in completing their education or at least advancing in it.
Killjoys is a space television series about a crew who picks up criminals and turns them in and deals generally with all the problems that are going on in their world. I don’t think I’d make my game as dramatic as the show, but I do think I’d set it up so that it really focuses on bringing in those criminals like the earlier part of the show does. It would somewhat be a pick-up and deliver game where you fly to a planet, pick up what you need, and deliver it back for money. However, the longer you go, the more troubles you are going to run into completing missions and also the more events and worse events that will be happening to the Quad, the area of planets you are working in. In the end, the winner would have the most money at the end of the game from bringing in criminals, but you have to decide how to use it because you might want to upgrade your ship, weapons, or crew to make the jobs easier.
I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard of one besides some company branding an ouija board with Stranger Things, because of money. For those who don’t know, Stranger things is about a girl who escapes from the grasp of an evil company that is messing around with her abilities and is also looking into another dimension, the Upside Down where there are monsters that start bleeding over into this small town. I would make this as an asymmetric game for up to five people as that’s about how it works in the game. There are the kids, the teenagers, the adults, the company, and the upside down. The upside down and the kids would be required to play the game, but the rest could be optional. As the kids, you are trying to keep Eleven safe and close the portal to the Upside Down, as the Upside Down, you are trying to capture all the kids or get enough monsters into the world that you win. If you were the adults, your goal would to find one of the kids who gets lost in the upside down, and as the teens your goal is to kill as many monsters as possible. Finally, as the company, your goal would be to keep Eleven alive, but have her under your control, and not have anyone else win for a certain number of rounds. I could also see cutting it down to three factions and having the people of the town, adults, teens, and kids, all be the same person. But I think it could be interesting, each group having their own special powers and goals that they are going for in the game.
What are some stories that you think would turn into a good board game? What are some of your favorites that are already board games?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!