That title might not make a lot of sense, but it’s from Doctor Who. In Doctor Who, the Doctor keeps on crossing paths with River Song who is experiencing the Doctor’s life in a different order than the Doctor is, so she has a diary […]
Tag: Star Wars
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. […]
I’ve talked a lot about theme in board game before and how I like board games with a good theme on them. Instead of talking so much about why I like themes in board games, I think I’ve covered that decently well, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite themes in board games and why I like them.
Now, that could be less exciting, because there are a lot of generic themes out there, and a lot of games that are using themes over and over again. Especially now with copyrights not being extended to kingdom come, there are more works that are now public domain. A few years ago Sherlock Holmes became public domain and HP Lovecrafts work some time before that.
So what are some of my favorite themes on board games?
Epic Fantasy –
Super generic, but I really do enjoy a good fantasy game. Especially since a lot of them have a better developed story than most. Now it helps that I’m a big fantasy fan, so I can quickly understand what is going on with the various fantasy tropes and it allows me to get quickly into the story being told. Games like Gloomhaven and Legends of Andor do a good job of baking story into the actual game play themselves. I think what I like about the fantasy theme on board games is that it gives me a bit of that feeling of playing an RPG in a lot of the games and I can make my decisions like I am that hero. In a lot of ways it scratches my itch to play an RPG when I can’t be in a game as a player or as the GM.
I did a big board game battle post about all of the Fantasy Flight games that I’ve played with the HP Lovecraft world theme on them. I’m a bit surprised with how main stream Lovecraft is in board games, but it works in most of the cases. I will say that it gets slapped onto a lot of games that don’t need it. Like in Unspeakable Words, you’re just doing a pretty standard word game, but it has the Lovecraftian theme and cute Lovecraftian artwork on it. Now, that’s fine because it takes a game that wouldn’t have artistic direction and gives it some, but it’s kind of silly. Then there are games like Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, and Arkham Horror LCG that are just steeped in theme. Those games seek to make you feel like an investigator of some background who is really going through this world, dealing with the monsters, progressing the story, looking for clues, and sometimes dealing with the events of the normal world. It also does a good job of setting an aesthetic that is generally pleasing to play in but also being a horror focused game. It really doesn’t rely on blood and guts like some horror games would.
Another super generic option, like epic fantasy, but I figured I should say more than just Star Wars. While the Star Wars games are great that I’ve played, Imperial Assault and Star Wars: Rebellion, there are other sci-fi games out there that I’ve liked as well. It’s interesting because you have a wide variety of scope with games in the Sci-Fi genre. Games like Star Wars: Rebellion, Battlestar Galactica, and Cosmic Encounters are planet level Sci-Fi games. And while Cosmic Encounters doesn’t feel like quire as grand a scope as Rebellion, it’s still a bigger game in some ways. Compare that to Imperial Assault and Clank! In! Space!, those games have a focus that is much more on a smaller part of the world. You’re on a planet or in a space ship dealing with things, but you aren’t as worried about the whole cosmos. Having that variety is what makes Sci-Fi such a strong genre to me.
Now, there are so many more genres out there, but you’re not going to have that much issue finding games in these genres, and I tend to gravitate towards them. There is one that I want to see more of though.
Weird West –
I really enjoy the weird west setting. Some might say that it’s a bit Lovecraft mixed with the wild west, and that’s probably pretty accurate. But when people say a Lovecraft game, that’s generally meaning 1920’s and Arkham area. Weird west can be a lot more than just that, and I like Shadows of Brimstone for that, though I’ve only gotten it to the table once. I need to go back and fix the monsters and hopefully stream that game at some point in time so I can actually play it some more. But the game is interesting and has some cool big moments to it.
Now, some might say this is part of fantasy, but I think I would qualify it differently than “Epic Fantasy”. Theming of games like Lords of Hellas, which I haven’t played or Santorini which is really an abstract game, but has the Greek mythology added to it, that’s a theme that I can get behind. What makes it generally pretty thematic is that all the deities have their own powers which really do track with the mythology that you’re in. Even if you aren’t going the standard Greek, there are now a lot of games with Norse Mythology. Blood Rage on the cards you draft does a really good job of creating that mythological feel for each deity that you can draft cards from. In fact, those cards are where you really get the theme of Norse Mythology in Blood Rage.
I could go on talking about more themes in board games. There are games with a heavily influenced theme by Japan and/or Anime. There are games t hat have cool adventuring themes that give you the Indiana Jones feel. There are a few themes that I’ll generally avoid though. If a game has the “trading in the Mediterranean” theme, that’s a hard pass for me. I’m also kind of done with the zombie theme at this point. I do like Dead of Winter, so I’m not opposed to it, but a zombie themed game isn’t all that interesting to me most of the time.
What are some themes you like in board games. What are themes that you want to see more of in board games?
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We’ve done small games, we’ve done story games, I feel like the logical next step is going to be suggesting some strategy games.
Who would you give a strategy game too? With the stocking stuffers and story games, a lot of them could be played by people who aren’t big into board games, but strategy games, you are going to want to give those to a person who is more of a board gamer already. Otherwise, you’re less likely to know what the person will like the game. I am going to put a few lighter strategy games on the list that would work for more people, but generally speaking, these are going to be heavier games.
Now, this was on both the story and the strategy game list, so consider that if you are thinking of buying a story board game for someone. Gloomhaven has a ton of interesting decisions and a ton of decisions for combat and work with your team (or by yourself) in order to figure out the most optimal strategy to beat the scenario that you are playing. And the strategy changes pretty often when you have changing characters. The card driven combat works really well for the strategy of this game, and it isn’t a pure strategy/abstract game, so it doesn’t force you to play optimal strategy to win.
This is a lighter strategy game where you face off against another player in a race to the opposite side of the board. You either move or put down a wall on the board on your turn. It’s pretty simple in the rules, you can’t block the other person from being able to make it across the board, but there are some interesting strategies. It can play up to 4 players, and with a larger number of players it’s more random, but with two players, this game can become very strategic as you try and figure out when to block your opponent. The game is simple, looks simple, but offers some good decisions.
Star Wars: Rebellion
Another big box game, this one, the Dice Tower has described as “Star Wars in a box”. You get the feel of the epic space opera that is going on between the Empire and the Rebels as the Empire tries to track down the rebel base and wipe it out and the Rebels seek to complete missions to under mind the Empire’s hold on the galaxy. Now, there is some luck in the game because of dice rolls, but you can try and mitigate that some, and I know the expansion takes the combat which is primarily dice rolling and updates it some. But the biggest part of the strategy comes from deciding what missions to complete, trying to figure out where to move your troops to search, if you’re the Empire or where to bluff troops to try and draw the Empire away from your base, if you’re the rebels.
Fae is basically an abstract game that they have placed some theme on. In the game, you are trying to complete rituals on the board by separating the different groups of druids so that they aren’t next to any other druids. Once that is done, each color of druid in the ritual scores points. But there is strategy as to what areas you are trying to score points in, how you want to move the druids, and how you want to get the points scored because you have a secret color that you’re going for, as does your opponent, but each druid ritual scores for each color in the ritual. It’s a nice balancing act of strategy, but then trying to hide your information from you opponent by what you do.
This is one of the grand daddies of modern board gaming, but still holds up well. In the base game, you are building, as a group, a landscape where there are towns, monasteries, and other features. You each have a certain number of meeples that you can use as farmers, soldiers, thieves, or priests that will score you points in the game or at the end of the game. The strategy in this game comes into where you are playing the tiles for the landscape and how and where you are using the meeples to complete the various scoring options. It’s not a difficult game to teach or to play, but there is strategy as to how you use your meeples and where you place tiles that will determine how well you do.
Another crossover with the story list, Pandemic Legacy is definitely a strategy game, but again a fairly accessible one. The mechanics make sense for what you are doing, but like most good cooperative games, it gives you a lot of difficult decisions. You always feel like you want to do two or three more things than you’re able to do, so you have to skip doing something. This game really shines too for the story aspect that might allow you to get more people into heavier games. The game also does a good job of laying out what a person can do in an easy way so that you don’t have to remember as much.
This area control game plays very interestingly and quickly as you take on different factions which each has their own unique powers. It also has an interesting combat mechanism. This game also has interesting strategy in that all the factions play very uniquely and you can make that even more unique by allowing each faction to use more of their unique ability cards. So some people might be all about combat, but others might be all about collecting gems to score points. It seems like a game that plays well at a variety of player counts as well.
Finally, this game is heavy strategy and is not a beginner level strategy game. Root is an amazing asymmetrical game where each persons factions in the game might have the same base mechanics but are handled differently for each faction. I really enjoyed playing the birds with their regimented planning of actions, but there are the cats which are all about area control, the woodland creatures who are all about subverting the powers that be, and the vagabond who is trying to complete quests. And with everyone making different decisions, the game is still completely balanced. This is one of those heavier games though that a person new to board games might think looks pretty, but might be a bit much to teach.
What are some of your favorite strategy games? Maybe you just want to get the person a nice chess set.
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Are you excited for this game review, because the game sure is. Yes, Clank! In! Space! has all those exclamation points in the title and it’s really excited to have a TableTopTake written about it! So let’s get jazzed, people, and jump into this game […]
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?
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