It’s been a while since I’ve done a board game review. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of Point of Order articles come up and go in that time because I can buy games, but I can’t play all that many of them. But one …
Tag: Criss Cross
We’re getting down to it, getting close to the Top 10 games, only a few more of these lists. It’s been a blast as always putting these out and I’m glad that people are enjoying them. I’d be very curious to know what your top 10 are, and what you think my Top 10 might contain.
Plus a few notes on how I’ve put together the list:
- These are my favorite, you want what people consider best, see the Board Game Geek Top 100
- If a game you love isn’t on the list, it might be be coming, I might not have played it, and if I have, it’s 101
- If a game looks cool, I have links to buy it from CoolStuffInc or Amazon, or you can grab most at your FLGS
- There are a few games, Destiny 2 Player versus regular Destiny where if they are basically the same thing, I only do one of them
This is one that I think is going to climb higher and higher over time because of how simple but fun the game is. And I have to say, I really like the theme of brewing beer. This game is basically an engine builder where you are trying to be the best at brewing beer and to do that you need to brew, and hone your recipes so that you can place well at Summerfest and Oktoberfest. To do this you get cards that are ingredients which you can use for a one time affect, like if you need an influx of money, get one that gives you some money, or you can add the ingredients to a beer, so maybe every time I brew my porter now it has oyster in it which gives me $1 versus a one time cash thing of $5. You can create some fun and crazy combinations, and in all honesty, I’d probably try them. I also like that in this game each character as a special power, so you can decide how you want to play the game and can do something different than everyone else. This is a fast engine building game, and definitely one that can work as an introduction to engine building.
Last Year: 45
This is a game that I need to play more, but it is a big game, so it’s hard to get to the table all that often. In Zona, you are trying to get into the vault at the heart of Chernobyl, but to do that you need to brave the wasted lands surrounding it where few go and where mutated monsters roam. You can play this game solo, or you can play it competitively, which I think is really interesting. So you are exploring, finding what you need to get to get into lesser locations and then fight monsters, survive, and get into these locations, get out with some new very useful cards and get into the heart of Chernobyl before everything falls apart and the game wins. I find that interesting where the game has a timer where it can itself win, in a competitive game, so it is possible that all the players will lose.
Last Year: 34
28. Just One
Just One is the top party game on the list, and I think that it’ll hold that spot for a while. The game is just clever and enjoyable to play. In this game one person is “it” like in so many party games, and they, instead of trying to get people to guess a word are trying to guess a word. Everyone else is putting down clues for them, one word clues, hence Just One. And everyone needs to write down a unique clue. If people cross over with each other, those clues are cancelled out. Again, hence why this is called Just One. The game works really well and it is a lot of fun. I also like that like Cross Clues, Just One is a cooperative party game. Most party games are meant to be silly, but if you are out of the game part of the party game, it just becomes purely silly, and for a game night, I like party games that can keep people in the game itself, and Just One does a great job of that.
Last Year: 22
This game my record is probably 0-15, maybe 0-20 at this point, and it’s a cooperative game. This is not a game where you win 50% of time like a lot of cooperative games try to be, it is a game that is extremely hard to win, but clearly I still love it. In this game you are Samurai who are taking on villains. You are fighting honorably, so you know when the fight is going to happen, so you prepare. You do this by researching the villains, by increasing your stats and then eventually once you’ve used up all of your time, you select the villain who you are facing off against. The issue is that you need everyone to beat the villain they are facing off against, and you basically never have the time needed to completely research the villains or to get yourself completely prepared to fight. The concept just works really well for me, and the game play is very smooth. My only knock is that this game can play a lot of people, but it probably should max out at four or five, because otherwise it is a bit long.
Last Year: 43
I love this game as a different feeling card puzzle game. Like Parade, this game has been randomly given the theme of Alice in Wonderland. It could have been anything or nothing. In it you are trying to score the most points by having the best collection of hats. These hats have numbers, and you start out with a hand of them as well as some that are going to be determining what is scored on the table. The trick to this game, and I think what I like about it so much, is that you are trying to manipulate the table in such a way by playing down cards and then using the ones for scoring that you place in front of you, that when all is said and done the colors you have are scoring and they are scoring well and that whatever you opponent(s) were collecting doesn’t score well. It just feels like a twist as you have a set hand of cards and while you can change them up a little, it might not be enough to get it set-up as you want. This game plays fast and is a good thinky filler.
Last Year: 26
25. Point Salad
Another filler on the list up quite high. This must have just gotten played after I made the list last year, but Point Salad has been a game that has consistently gotten to the table and even 4-5 times in the past week. In this game you are building up the best salad possible to score as many points as possible. And that’s the joke, in a point salad style game, everything you do is going to give you some points, so AEG created a game where you are building up salads and everything might give you points. What determines if something gives you points though is based off of the scoring cards you draft. So this is an extremely simple game, you either take vegetables for your salad or you take a scoring card. But you have to pay attention to what is scoring for you and how. Maybe you have a card that gives you 4 points per tomato, but it probably also gives you -2 points per onion and carrot, so you need to build your salad right so that you scoring as many points as possible. The game is so simple and turns are fast, and while there is less depth than Hats, this is still a great filler with a bit of depth.
Last Year: Not Ranked
I love deck building games, and Aeon’s End: War Eternal is a very good one, in my opinion. And I would hazard to say, had I played more of the Aeon’s End games, I’d say all are great deck building games. Now, there are a ton of deck building games, so what makes this stand out. I like that you are facing off against a big boss, which isn’t unique, but you can start to whittle them down right away if you want, which isn’t always the norm. I like the breach system for casting spells. You can open up more breaches for your character and cast more spells per turn when you do that. And what really makes this different is that you don’t shuffle your deck. This is the only deck building game that I know of that you don’t shuffle. What happens when you run out of cards, well, you just flip your discard pile and you have your deck again. This means, if you are counting cards, you can set-up turns for yourself. You might want a turn with no spells just because with a lot of purchase power you can buy a better spell, or maybe you want a good mix so that you never have a turn where nothing happens. What also is interesting is that turn order isn’t set. The nemesis, monster you’re fighting, will have 2 turns for every six player turns. But you have a turn order deck that is shuffled, and in a two player game where are two player one cards, two player two cards and two nemesis cards. So the nemesis could go twice in a row at the start, then four player turns, you just don’t know. It makes the puzzle feel harder that way, but also can set-up some moments of calm.
Last Year: 16
23. Criss Cross
One of my top roll and write games. Criss Cross is very simple but so much fun. In this game everyone is playing at once, trying to place symbols rolled on dice adjacent to each other in rows and columns on a 5 x 5 grid. That doesn’t sound too bad, but you need to treat the two dice rolled each round as a domino, basically. That means if the symbols rolled are a circle and a triangle you need to place the circle and the triangle adjacent to each other on the grid. You need to also make sure that you don’t leave yourself with a single spot separated from everything else because it means you won’t be able to fill that spot. The game is super fast and very fun. Scores can and will vary wildly based off of how things are rolled, but it is fun crossing your fingers hoping that the write combo is rolled. I like that you are scoring both the rows and columns too, and in the expert version the diagonal, so you can’t just focus on rows or columns and expect it to go extremely well.
Last Year: 23
This game, why isn’t this game out yet. It was so amazing playing at GenCon last year that it is on my list because I got the full game experience there. It should, fingers crossed be coming out yet this year, I have a preorder in for it, and it might, just might, be coming out this month, October, still. Which would be perfect because this is a horror adjacent game. In this game you are spending time and moving around trying to get rid of your curses and be the first player to get out of the town. The issue is the town is keeping you trapped in as long as you are cursed and there are monsters roaming around. Plus, the other players, they don’t mind if you get attacked so they might be encouraging that. And they might be deranged and attacking you themselves. This game has nice card play for determining what actions you are doing and how good they are. And then if you’re deranged, you flip the card upside down and use a similar but different set of actions. The game is just clever and while not short, turns play pretty fast. So much fun in this game and has a good theme that I like.
Last Year: 17
Some games have a fair amount of alpha gaming in them if they are a cooperative game. That is to say that one person tells everyone what to do on their turn. The Lost Expedition is a game that has, built into it’s mechanics, ways to prevent that from happening. Players, without communicating, place down cards for both a daytime and evening hike as they work their way toward the lost city of Z, so no one knows what the other people are going to play. In the day, the cards are then sorted into numerical order and you’ll have to navigate them, and even the evening, they are played in whatever order they come out. And most of these cards don’t do good things. So no one can tell other people what to play, then collectively as a group, you decide how to spend resources and what actions to take, of the optional actions on a card. Sometimes it’ll be good like giving you more food or bullets, but most of the time you are hurting yourself as spending resources from your guides, from your food supply, or bullets, and if you run out of life on your guides you lose the game. The game is very clever and plays very fast. There’s always discussion around the table as you try and map out the best route of using and gaining resources and advancing closer to the Lost City of Z.
Last Year: 32
This is an odd section of the list because two of these games are still really high after mainly just playing them at GenCon last year. Deranged isn’t out yet in the US, I believe mainly because of Covid delays, but I had so much fun with it, I had to make the list when I have played it. I have it preordered, I’m just waiting for it to eventually come, I suspect that Deranged will end up moving higher the more I play it.
What is your favorite from this section of the list?
This is a fairly big topic right now in the board game community as people around the world are physically distancing itself from other people out of necessity or mandate. There are plenty of people who are turning to solo board gaming now, but that isn’t quite the same thing for a lot of people, including myself. And while not being face to face is still tough, online gaming can help soften the blow. So let’s talk first about how you can do online gaming, various resources or set-ups out there, and then some good game options.
There are three main spots that I can think of when it comes to table top gaming. Assuming that you don’t just decide to play something like Ascension on an app because you want more of that real time interaction. Obviously, for conversation purposes you’re going to want to have a webcam ready to chat with.
This software works on all platforms and you can hook your Steam account up to it. Boasting more than 800 games to play, it certainly will give you a lot of options as to what you can grab.
Another digital platform, also available with Steam, that you can play a lot of games through.
Zoom/Other Meeting Software
This is the one that I’ve done thus far, but also going to be the hardest to pull off, because I have the streaming set-up for Malts and Meeples, I can go ahead and do a two camera set-up. That means that in a meeting, I’m able to have a camera on myself as well as then one of the table for the game. It’s also trickier because while Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator have all the pieces for the game, if multiple people don’t own the game, you need something with open information. However, because I played Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game with a friend and we both have it, that meant that the hidden information, what was in our hands, could be hidden because we each had a hand of cards.
I do want to check out the fully online options, but I have to say that I like the Zoom and using the streaming set-up that I did. Mainly because I still go to play with a physical game. And I think that’s a piece that’s always going to be missing from something like Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator. Now, I don’t think that those are bad systems to use and for a lot of people they are going to be the only thing that they can use because of limitations for their set-ups. Though, a webcam pointed at the game on the table would work, so even if you aren’t able to be “face to face” because of only using a camera, you’d still be able to play with a physical copy of a game.
So besides the library that they have on the digital gaming set-ups, what are some games that would be pretty easy to play even if everyone doesn’t have a copy of a game? Some of these will be easier than others because they have a smaller footprint, but all should work online.
Sounds like a joke, but it isn’t, because all the cards are face up, you need a single person moving pieces and flipping cards, but the decisions are still going to be able to be made by the person whose turn it is, just maybe with asking a few questions. Pandemic can have an Alpha gamer problem that might be a little bit worse if the alpha gamer is the person who has the game, but that’s not so much a problem with the game as an issue that the alpha gamer has to deal with. And if you use Zoom, the leader can mute the person if they are talking over others.
A simple enough abstract game where you’re racing from one side of the board to another while placing obstacles in the way of your opponent(s). You have a limited number of walls that you can place up, so as long as you can see how many you have left, it would work well online. Again, no hidden information so you don’t need to hide what you have or face a challenge of passing information to someone in secret or acting like you don’t know that information.
Cooperative games tend to work well, and this is a good cooperative party style game. In it one person has to not see the card being held up to the camera and then picks a number, everyone else writes down a one word clue, any repeated clues aren’t displayed and then the person has to guess. This should work exactly how it does in the real world simply by people closing their eyes at the right point in time. It’s also an easy game for people who might not be gamers to join in on because of how simple the concept is.
Second Chance/Welcome To…/Criss Cross/Cat Cafe/Yahtzee
Roll and writes or flip and writes are simple where you don’t need to be passing around the dice. Even the ones where you do, if they use normal six sided dice, like Yahtzee, most people can find the right number of dice. The trickiest thing is that as a roll or flip and write, you need something to write on. So it would require people to have a printer, but on Board Game Geek you can find a lot of these sheets that you can print off. Or if you have a scanner, you can scan them in and e-mail them so that people can then print them off. While Cat Cafe and Yahtzee might require a little more work, the other three would be simple to play and give you a lot of hours of entertainment. And all of them can play good sized groups.
This one can also play a large group and works as a party style game for more casual gamers. It works because you just need someone to display the list and you can play on a blank sheet of paper coming up with answers. Probably the simplest one to do because someone could just literally type the list into a chat window for everyone to see.
Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
This is one that I saw people suggesting or talking about on Facebook, I believe in the Dice Tower group. Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is what it says, a game about figuring out who done it. And it’s an involved and complex game. There’s an online database that you use, you can google things are appropriate times, and you can easily discuss a case and actions over a meeting. You just need one person reading off the case cards and presenting the options, which I think a lot of groups do in terms of dividing up the demands of the game. Plus, you need someone to take notes as to what has been discovered.
Legacy of Dragonholt/Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger
Story driven choose your own adventure style games work. Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game almost falls into that category, but these are really just reading through things, and House of Danger has a few dice rolls with it but it’s a six sided die so that is going to work for most people because even if people don’t have many games, they probably have a die somewhere in their house.
Last one on the list, but I’m kind of surprised as I thought about it, that it actually works. The game is simple with just putting down pieces of cardboard to take over areas. So you just need to see how many characters you have left and how many are on each spot on the board. Plus, at times, what combos are available. Yes, you would need to have a single person moving everything around on the board, but that is pretty simple, there just might be a need for some clarifying questions as to what spot to place down your characters.
Now, I’m sure there are a lot more games that could work, and certainly classic games like Chess and Checkers where there is no hidden information would work really well. But those are some that I have sitting on my shelf that jumped out to me as good options for being able to play online. And while for me this will never replace playing games with people in person, during these times, there is certainly opportunity for groups to come together and play games online through one of the ways that I mentioned.
What are some games that you think would work well to play with a web cam? Have you tried out any thus far that have been a big success or a miss?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
Alright, this whole week and probably for a little bit longer, but let’s talk about those things you can get for the nerdy people you have in your life. Or things that you can suggest that people get for you, since you’re the nerdy person …