On to another list for my top 5 drafting games. Now, Board Game Geek only has card drafting for me to sort through, but I will be including a dice drafting game in my list as well (or two). So without any more clarification: 5. Roll […]
Tag: Sushi Go! Party
Maybe instead of gifting for a gamer, you are gifting to someone who is just getting into the board game industry. They’ve played a few of your games and are looking to start getting a few games of their own. What games should you look at for someone like that?
Ticket to Ride
This should be the first game on basically any intro to modern board gaming list. It’s a smart simple game where you are trying to collect sets of train cards of various colors and connect routes across the board. That’s what the game is, but there is some strategy to it as to when you complete a section of your route, when you take train cards, and when you might want to get more routes. Not all that complex, but enough so to keep more serious gamers engaged well enough and so that people can pick it up quickly. There are also a ton of different versions of the game. The United States map, just called Ticket to Ride, is the most straight forward, but anything that’s added in the other boxes can just be skipped and you can play it as the normal Ticket to Ride.
This tableau building game as you competing for the favor of nobles and building up your supply of jewels. The game is simple as you start out building out your tableau by taking one time use jewels but soon you’ll have built up a good jewel collection so you have permanent jewels. The game is another pretty straight forward game with a limited number of actions in the game. That makes it a lot easier to teach. Now, this game is pretty themeless actually, but the components and artwork are nice, so it gets to the table pretty easily that way.
Sushi Go! Party
Card drafting games aren’t always the easiest to teach, but with the very cute artwork of Sushi Go! Party, it’s definitely an exception. I will add in one caveat for this game, there are a few of the specials that I would avoid at the start because they are a bit more confusing, but the game itself is pretty simple. You take one card from your hand and pass the hand to the next person and repeat the process until you’ve done that with all the cards. The game plays fast and while the first couple of decisions might be a bit trickier or explaining the rules the first time might be a bit trickier, the game is easy to play multiple times in one sitting.
Or as it used to be known, Settlers of Catan. This game is one of the games that started the modern board gaming trend. While it still has some of the classic board gaming issues, mainly there isn’t a way to mitigate just rolling poorly, it’s going to be one that a lot of people are familiar with. The game is pretty straight forward but it’s still enjoyable and it’s something that people will recognize as compared to a game like Splendor that people might not have heard of.
This is probably the trickiest game on the list because there’s more strategy in this game than some of the others, but because of the presence on the table. In this game you are drafting dice to create a stained glass window, and you just have to follow certain die placement rules about colors and numbers being next to each other and while filling in certain colors or numbers based on the window that you are creating. The game play is fast and there is an expansion that allows it to play up to 6 which might make it easier to get to the table and keep everyone involved at a family holiday party.
I’ve managed to get Pandemic Legacy on to two other lists (too big for a stocking), but for this one, I suggest the base Pandemic. This is a really good cooperative game and a game that lays out what is done on turns and peoples actions really nicely. It’s also not that tough a cooperative game so for a new player, they aren’t going to feel like they’re being beat down over and over again. It’s also not that long a game for everything that is going on in the game. If you haven’t played it yourself, I’d recommend it for someone who is even a gamer or the Legacy version as it’s a really good game.
There are a ton of introductory games, and I might give out some suggestions next week for what to give people if they like a certain classic game already, but that will be later.
What are some other games that you’ve used to introduce people to modern board gaming?
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I mentioned the topic in the Kickstarter FOMO post, but I wanted to talk more about different game mechanics that you might here people talk about when it comes to describing a board game, this will be a bit more focused definitions than the Jargon post. And I’m going to talk about what I do or don’t like about the various mechanics or games that I like or don’t like in the various mechanics.
Worker placement is a very common mechanic in board games, an in particular in Euro games. It basically means that you’re placing out a piece to do some action or get some resource back. At the end of the game you’ve built up some collection of resources, cards, money, or points. You might like worker placement games if you like games that have a lot of thinking and a whole lot less luck. The luck can come from what cards you’re able to get, but generally you can plan out what you’re going to do for the whole game early on in the game. To me this is a knock on these game, as well as that they are often themed around trading in the Mediterranean which I don’t find exciting. For one of these games, if I’m to enjoy it, the turns have to be fast, and while there doesn’t have to be a plethora of variability in it, there shouldn’t be a single option in the game that is so strong that everyone feels like they need to follow the same path. Games like Puerto Rico have a method to what should be taken when and what actions should be done when, and that isn’t fun to me. However, Charterstone does a good job of having very fast turns with the exception of a few turns that matter the most, and to me, that’s a good worker placement game. You have lots of options, but your turns go fast so that no one is sitting there wondering what to do, and if you are sitting there thinking, you know it’s a big decision.
This was one of the biggest mechanics in board games for a while with games like Dominion and Marvel Legendary leading the market. Now another mechanic is bigger and I’ll get to it in a minute. Deck Building games have everyone starting out with the same few cards in their own personal decks, then as time goes by you can purchase more cards to add to your deck customizing it so that it plays like you want it to play. In my opinion, something that is purely a deck builder, probably isn’t much of a game. Dominion, the biggest deck builder out there, has a theme that doesn’t matter to the game, and the only thing it has going for is the fact that when people know what they are doing it goes fast. There are other games that make your cards actually mean something like Xenoshyft: Onslaught, Marvel Legendary, or Clank! In! Space!. These games the cards mean more than just giving you an action, a buy, and some money, but they maintain the simplicity of the deck building for the most part.
This is a subset of a Deck Builder in some ways. Instead of building up your own deck of cards you are either separately or jointly building up a bag of tokens, cubes, dice, whatever it might be, so you are drawing randomly from that. Clank! In! Space! adds this as an addition to it’s game as you’re trying to not make too much noise so Lord Eradikus doesn’t get you. Basically it’s the same thing as a deck building mechanic, just with the other possible elements.
Roll and Write
This is the biggest one out there right now and most of you probably have heard of a game that does this from a long time ago, and that’s Yahtzee. While Yahtzee is the original, it has definitely progressed beyond that at this point. Now you might be building railway lines or you could be doing city planning, but based off of what the dice say, that gives you an idea of what to fill in. Personally, I still enjoy Yahtzee and I haven’t done anything else in this mechanic, but I am tempted to pick one up sometime soon. These sorts of games tend to be fairly simple and easy to teach so they are a good faster game that you can pull out with a lot of different levels of gamers and often with larger groups as well.
Now, I split up deck builders and bag builders, but with drafting, this can be a lot of different things. Most of the time people are going to know of card drafting, but there are games where you draft dice. What I like about drafting is that the games can range from simple games like Sagrada and Sushi Go! Party to more extensive games like Blood Rage. So it’s a mechanic in games that is pretty easy to build up to the more complex games because you have a lot of different steps along the way. With drafting, I also like the fact that it makes you make a decision. It might be obvious, like you need another eel in Sushi Go! Party otherwise you’ll lose three points, or it might be tough, because you don’t want to pass the eel to the next person getting your cards because they need the eel to score seven points, but you’re also not sure that there’s going to be another eel coming to you. Or in Blood Rage you have to determine what you want your strategy to be, do you want to get points for winning battles or maybe do you want to get troops onto the map faster, it allows you to customize your playing style.
This is a mechanic that can be overlooked a little bit because most games that have it, like Blood Rage, also give you other mechanics that are just as interesting. However, Action Points are another one of my favorite mechanics in a game because it forces you to make tough decisions again. How many points do you want to spend to move a troop into a territory to try and take it in Blood Rage, or do you want to spend points to upgrade your troops? Something might cost two points versus one point, so is it better to do a one point action twice or a two point action once? You have a limited resource that is counting down faster than you want it to, and you never feel like you have quite enough to do everything you want, so you have to make a tough decision at some point in time. Blood Rage is a game that really focuses on this, though the drafting can dictate how important that is for you.
In some ways like a deck builder, hand management could be you determining and selecting different cards to be in your hand. But it can also be determining when you might play a card from your hand that might be identical to everyone else’s hand of cards or how you diversify your hand. Two games come to mind when I think about hand management that I have and they both do it in different ways. In Not Alone as the survivors of a wreck on an alien planet, you have a certain number of places you can go, so you have to determine where you want to go to avoid the alien and hope that everyone doesn’t go to the same spot or talk to determine a strategy so that you don’t all go to the same spot. But with your identical hand, you are now debating through a lot of different options that everyone has. Or in Gloomhaven, your hand is your life, if you lose cards from your hand too fast, you might die before the scenario is done. So do you use the card for the amazing ability to help kill off the monsters faster to complete the mission or do you use more basic abilities so that you can survive longer in a scenario if the scenario isn’t going fast. Both of these games keep a good tension between using your cards or holding onto your good cards.
Area Control is another mechanic I like, it often means that if you control a certain area you get a benefit. This is another mechanic that Blood Rage uses, as you are trying to have the strongest force in an area to pillage it and gain the improvement from the area or to complete a quest that you have. There are also some games that are more focused on area control and it is if you control all the areas you can win the game. Risk, while not a great game, is an area control game. I enjoy these game generally because they encourage conflict for all players because you can’t let anyone get too powerful. While Risk is pretty lucky, games like Cry Havoc, Blood Rage or Smallworld cut down on the luck aspect while allowing the game to flow nicely and quickly through combat or through control. That can be a downside with area control games is that the combat causes the game to bog down and you end up spending all of your time on combat or on a few turns, leaving other people waiting.
Variable Player Powers
This one is and isn’t a mechanic in my opinion. I think though it is worth calling out here as there are some people who love it. Basically, variable player powers means that each persons role in the game is going to be different. While there might be a lot of overlap, everyone has something that they can do that is unique to them. In Root, each player plays a different faction of woodland creatures, and you can see in my review of it how it works generally, but they do things in a very different way from other people having very unique player powers depending on which faction you pick. Or in Smallworld, you are taking different race and power combos. Those are extreme examples of a lot of variability, but a game like Cry Havoc, everyone is basically doing the same thing, you have slightly unique player powers. It can run a fairly large range that way from completely different powers to similar roles but slightly tweaks. Another example of that lesser change is Pandemic where people can all do the same actions, but each person also has their own unique thing they can do, and you may or may not use that unique power on a given turn.
What are some mechanics you like? What are some that I’ve forgotten as I’m sure there is a number I haven’t touched on. Are there any mechanics that you’ll actively avoid?
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I won’t promise that this the last part of the post because I thought that part 2 was going to wrap everything up, but I do think this will likely wrap it up. I mainly want to go outside of the party and social deduction games and look at some higher player count games. While those are two of the most common categories, I think there are other games ranging from very simple to a bit more complex that can work.
Zombie Dice is one of the simplest games on the list, but it works well because you can be gaming while you are talking. There’s every little involvement by people in the game when it’s not your turn and that works out just fine. Even when it is your turn you don’t have to pay that much attention as you are just grabbing dice, rolling them, and then deciding when to stop and cash your brains in. It’s a simple die rolling game of push your luck where you are trying to be the first player to 13 or 15 or whatever number people pick, by collecting brains, because that’s what zombies do. But you got to be careful, because if you get shot three times, you don’t cash any brains for the round. Once someone has passed the end game total, then everyone has one turn to try and beat them. It’s very much Farkle like, but simpler and less math.
Tsuro is another game that falls into the simple and fast games. You can plan out your turn in advance, but normally that’s a pretty simple process. Tsuro, the game of the path, is about staying on the board the longest and can play up to eight people. You play a tile in front of your pawn and move it each round and you can only use the tiles you have in your hand. It’s not a highly interactive game between players until later in the game when you have to put your pawns fate into someone else hands. A nice thing about this game too is that you have a limited number of tiles, so if you have two people or if you have eight people, the game is going to take basically the same length. Just with more people the game is more interactive earlier on in the game. It’s also a game where when you get knocked out, you know you aren’t going to be sitting there long. This can be an issue with some of the social deduction games that eliminate players.
We Didn’t Playtest This At All! Legacy also falls into the category of very simple games. It’s a draw a card play a card game and be the last one standing. There are several versions of this game, but I prefer the legacy version. It adds to fun of the game which is extremely simple otherwise. We just got rid of our non-legacy version, so just We Didn’t Playtest This At All!, because it’s a little too simple. However, I do think for some groups there is a good spot for this on their shelves. It’s a good game for when people are showing up, because a single game lasts only a few minutes before everyone is eliminated. It’s also a goofy game, so it’s a good ice breaking game as well for people to interact a little bit.
Sushi Go! Party falls into a different category of game with the card drafting mechanic and is a bit more complex. It also lasts longer than most of the others that I’ve mentioned in social deduction and in this post (the party games can last a long time if you want). As players you are drafting a card in three rounds, each round is a full hand of cards, and then passing the cards to the next person. It’s a fun game with a lot of variability in it if you have the party edition. I highly recommend that. It’s also a game that is a bit thinkier, and people can form strategies, but because the artwork is very cute, people who haven’t gotten all the strategy with a particular set of scoring food items will still enjoy it because of the artwork. It’s a game that is quite aesthetically pleasing, and for all the cards and options you get for the game, it’s quite cheap as well. This is the first game where I’d say there’s less luck involved with it than a lot of others.
Say Bye to the Villains is one of my favorite resent purchase games that I think works well on this list. It has a maximum of eight players and is a cooperative game. You play a group of samurai who all have their own powers trying to defeat a bunch of villains. You have ten days per character to get your samurai ready to fight. You can do this by increasing your stats, speed, health, and power, or by finding out information on the villains. It’s a very tricky game to win, I think in three games I haven’t won, though it’s been close a couple of times. But it’s cooperative, so even if one person finishes up their days sooner, they can still be part of the strategizing. This game plays as a puzzle but you never know if you’ve cracked it, because you don’t know if you have all the information that you need, which inevitably you won’t.
Magic Maze and Captain Sonar are two games that fall into the same category in some ways. They are both real time games that can handle a large number of players. I’m not sure what the max is for Magic Maze, but Captain Sonar can play eight, and I think Magic Maze is similar. In Magic Maze you, as a group, are trying to get an adventuring party through a mall and out after they have stolen the adventuring goods that they need. Yes, it’s actually that and actually that silly. Each player has a specific action or two that they can do which is moving the adventurer meeples (small wooden pieces representing the characters) on the board. So someone can only move them north, someone can only move them east, and so on. There is some overlap on things, but not that much. It’s a timed game and everyone is in there, trying to work together to get them on the gear and then get them out.
Captain Sonar is also real time, though can be done turn by turn, where there are two teams out trying to sink the others submarine. The captains are barking out orders, the first mate is trying to keep the systems prepped and ready to go, the engineer is trying to keep systems in working order, and the radar operator is listening to the opposing teams captain trying to figure out where they are on the board. This game is stressful and hectic, as is Magic Maze, but a ton of fun. There’s some strategy that can be employed and there’s some luck that goes into it as well. There’s also an expansion for this game, but I don’t know what it adds.
Both of these games are a lot of fun as they get the blood pumping for people, however, because they are stressful for some people, you have to know your group. In the case of Captain Sonar, there is also fairly high lower bound limit as while the Captain and First Mates jobs can be combined, you are going to want to have at least six people to really get the full experience of the game without it becoming too confusing. There’s also the issue with these two games that they are a bit more complex than some of the others on the list. They have good themes for the games so good ways to explain what is going on without it seeming like too much, but be careful not to over explain it.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the games that you could play with larger groups and each group is going to have their own sweet spot for games. Try and branch out and try a number of these games and see what works the best for your group. With these games it also helps keep you from getting stale. And if you want to play something heavier, like I said before, split into smaller groups, but a lot of these games are great for kicking off a game night before jumping into heavier games, or closing down a game night as people slowly leave.
One game or type of game you’ll see that I left off of the list is Escape Room Games. While these games can technically have an infinite number of players, they say that six is the max. I would say that is a pretty good maximum otherwise people won’t be able to see the cards being played. Id’ recommend splitting into groups if you have more than six for games like Unlock and Exit.
What are some larger player count games that I haven’t mentioned that you enjoy?
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Ding, ding, ding! The bell has sounded, and we’re on to round two of our board game battles. The Contenders: First, why are these two battling right now? Both of them have a common mechanic between them, in that they are card-drafting games. You are […]