The Next Board Games After the Modern Classics
Alright, we know the modern classic board games. Those that even people who aren’t into the hobby, they know about. We’re talking about games like Catan, Ticket to Ride, Small World and more. But what games are the next step past them? What are the games you grab when you have played those modern classics enough times? I’ve done this for the original classic games, Monopoly, Scrabble and the like to help you know how to get people into more modern board gaming, you can find that here. So now it’s time to take the next step.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is probably the most popular Modern Classic board game right now. I think that Catan, or Settlers of Catan, has fallen out of favor where as Ticket to Ride is generally better liked. Ticket to Ride is a route building game and a set collection game. Now, the game that I’m picking isn’t so much of a route building game, but it does have those goals that the players are looking to complete. And you are collecting things, but not cards, marbles. This game isn’t much more complex than Ticket to Ride, but Potion Explosion adds in a level of toy factor to the game. You are pulling marbles out of the tray trying to get like colors to hit so you can get those marbles as well so that you can complete potions. That level is basically the same level as Ticket to Ride, it adds in complexity by giving each potion a power you can use as well, so you decide when you need to get that triggered.
Catan is a game that is known for rolling dice, getting resources, spending resources building more things and repeating the process. You can block people from going places, you can trade things, and while the trading is important to how I play the game, it isn’t for everyone. So when I looked to pick a game, I picked a legacy game, actually, that can still be played after it’s done, and I went with Charterstone. Charterstone is a worker placement game where you get resources which you spend to build more spots to go. It has a similar feel to me as you build out through the legacy campaign. The fact it adds more slowly as well, seems like it’d be a good way to build from a pretty simple game to a game with a lot more going on in it.
Carcassone is one of those games that surprises people when they see it. If they just know classic board games, the idea of building the board as you go is so cool. And that’s the area that I really focused on. I could focus on the meeples and how you play them to get points and get them back. If you love that part but want more, see Charterstone above. But I went with Galaxy Trucker. This game has a real time element to it where you grab tiles and fit them together to make your ship. Then it flies along and you hope to get the most and best cargo and not have your ship be blown apart. It’s a very different theme, but if people love the tile placement, this game has it, just faster. Though, I should be clear, there isn’t a hard time limit for parts of the real time aspect, and the tile placement part is the main part of the game.
King of Tokyo
This one will probably be obvious to most people who read my articles what game I am going to pick. In King of Tokyo you roll dice to try and get points and energy to get cards, but mainly, you roll dice to hit everyone else trying to knock them out. A game that takes that combat and that dice rolling is Dice Throne. This removes that middle board and makes it so anyone can hit anyone whenever they want. I’d say it’s primarily a two player game, but it does work well with King of the Hill play for three players and keeps people from ganging up on one player. The dice chucking is great, and the unique characters are amazing. I always want the monsters in King of Tokyo to be more unique.
A lot of the board games have been a small step up, for Small World, I am going with a bigger step up. Small World is an area control game that I say makes a great replacement for Risk. It’s Risk, but it’s fun and way faster. The game that I’d use as a next step up from it is my second favorite game of all time, Blood Rage. Blood Rage has more than just fighting and area control, there are missions you can do, you draft cards, and you upgrade your clan. I really like the game, and while there are a lot of moving pieces with it, the game just works really well. And if someone wants, they can really lean into combat for getting their points and win, just don’t let someone get all the Loki cards.
Dominion, this is a game that I can get why people like it, but I really don’t. Most of the time, if you have a good player who knows the combos, they will win. That’s no fun to know that you’ll lose before the game starts. You could just explain the combos and whoever has the best one wins without playing the game. Instead, I prefer my deck building games to have a variable market. And the game that I picked to be the next step has that. Clank! In! Space! is a deck building game with more. There is a push your luck element as you try and get as far into the ship as you can to grab the best treasure you can. But the deck building is the big part of the game. The market works great, and the game doesn’t have amazing artwork, just like Dominion, but it has a much more fun theme.
Clank! In! Space!
This is my copout one, what do you play if you like Pandemic but are done with the base game. Pandemic Legacy Season 1, then Season 2, then Season 0. You have three versions of Pandemic to continue with. Season 1 is similar to the base game but then adds more and more. Season 2 is a major twist on how everything works but still feels like Pandemic somehow. And Season 0, I have yet to play that one, but I’ve heard amazing things about it. Pandemic is a good game and a good system, so dive into the more complex version with Pandemic Legacy.
Five Tribe is what is known as a point salad style game. You do something, you get points for it. It might be now, it might be at the end of the game, but it’ll give you points somehow. There are plenty of Euro games that do that, but I don’t want to dump someone into a big Euro after they have played Five Tribes. Five Tribes doesn’t feel that euro to me, it’s more puzzly. So I went with Dice Forge for the next game to play. In Dice Forge you are upgrading your dice by changing out sides. It has that cool toy element to it, you are buying cards to get powers and get points. And the big thing is, you are always getting something. You roll the dice for your resources, you roll your dice on your turn and your opponents. And you are always getting resources to spend on your turn, so no turn ever feels wasted, just like in Five Tribes.
Splendor is an interesting one, it really is an abstract game as it’s heart of collecting gems to get more gems to spend those gems to get more gems. And as you go, it gets easier to get more gems as you build out your tableau. The game I went with doesn’t have a tableau, but it does have you getting gems. In Century Golem Edition you are getting cards in your hand to convert your gems into more gems and better gems, but also the right combo of gems to get golems. On your turn you either play a card from your hand, get a card to add to your hand, spend gems to get a golem, or pick up the card you’ve played. It’s a very simple and fast game, but there is more of a puzzle to figure out than Splendor has to get your engine going.
Century Golem Edition
Cards Against Humanity/Apples to Apples
No shocker to the game that I’ll pick here. There are a ton of games that I could say fit into that Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples category. The game where you play down cards and someone picks the best. Well, the issue is that once you’ve seen the jokes, you’ve seen them. So how do you get around that? Cards Against Humanity tries to add in a million expansions. My pick, Stipulations, makes your write down your answer. I also like Stipulations because it is flexible for your group. If you want to make it dirty you can. If you want it to be clean, it can be. Plus the categories such as super power are a lot of fun. It’s trickier because it requires creativity of the players. But because it requires that, it makes it much more replayable.
Which of these board games if your favorite modern classic? Are there any that you want to try, or that you want to try the next step up from? What games do you recommend to people who want that next game after Ticket to Ride or Catan?