Still not sure what to get that hardcore board gamer in your family for a present? Don’t want to just go the impersonal gift card route? Well, here’s my top four for the person who is really into board games:
#4: Well, I suppose I should have called this my top five, because four is a tie between “Alien Frontiers” (Game Salute) and “Star Trek Catan” (Mayday Games).
Both are what we call ‘resource building’ games and depend on your resources to build up your settlements. “Alien Frontiers” uses dice as the actual ships, and you place them in various builder positions based on your rolls, while “Star Trek Catan” uses the dice rolls to correspond to randomly placed tiles that make up the game board which you them place on to determine what resources you get. Both games end in victory points based on what you’ve built, and both have strategies that not only allow you to find better/faster ways to build, but also allow for some blocking of other players. “Alien Encounters” does this more so as you can place your dice where you want, as opposed to “Star Trek Catan,” where blocking is based on random dice rolls. While both are space exploration/expansion games, “Alien Frontiers” gets a bit of an edge in that you have more control over what happens since you have more control of what you do with the dice rolls, but “Star Trek Catan” also gets an edge because, well come on…it’s “Star Trek”!! You get to build starships and space stations and even use the original crew members for their special abilities that help you throughout the game.
#3: “Pathfinder Adventure” Cardgame (Paizo Publishing)
This game is very well done!! It combines so many elements of other games while being quite original and exceptionally versatile. The game is essentially a dungeon crawl game, but unlike other dungeon crawl game, there are no little miniatures or card board-cut outs to move around on a dungeon/game board. Instead, it’s all cards. Imagine “Dungeons & Dragons” as a card game. This is truly a cooperative game, the party has to work together to defeat the scenarios, but you also get to customize your character/deck to start and then continuously build your character/deck as you go through different adventures/scenarios/campaigns. The greatest part of this game is you can play a short 45-minute scenario, a 3-hour adventure, or an entire campaign that can last a week, a month, a year…etc. Not only that, but you can play with different play groups and keep your character along with the deck you’ve created by printing out a card/deck list off of the Paizo website, or play a completely different character, yet still save that one for later with a different deck list. Future expansion will probably keep this game fresh for years to come.
#2: “Thunderstone” (AEG)
This game just squeaks ahead of Pathfinder based on its pure addictiveness. It’s a deck building game with a High Fantasy (and somewhat Sci-Fi) taste to it, where every player starts with the same cards in his/her deck, but then builds their own unique decks based on decisions throughout the game. You gain heroes, weapons, equipment, spells, etc, to defeat monsters and gain victory points. The best part of this game is that each game you play is randomized, so you never have the same game choices. Each game is completely different in what it has to offer based on what random cards are used in that particular game. My playgroup seriously played this game for three days straight when we first got it. So much fun!!
#1: “Lords of Waterdeep” (Wizards of the Coast/Avalon/Hasbro)
Why #1? Simply because this is the game I play the most. It’s like one of your favorite band’s CDs, you just keep coming back to it after trying something else. Another resource building game (this one placed in High Fantasy “Dungeons & Dragons” settings), in this game each player collects different resources for different quests to gain victory points based on completed quests. Different from most resource building games, each player isn’t trying to collect the same items, as each quest has different requirements. To make it even more fun, you get bonus points at the end of the game based on which random ‘Lord’ you are for the game, so players have a chance to jump ahead in points at the end of the game. Again, a different game every time because of the random set up of Lords & quests, it keeps anyone with a short attention span entertained. I was introduced to this game at GenCon (nerdom’s annual amazing gaming convention), and I haven’t looked back since.
Bear Wolf operates the New Game in Town shops in Dekalb and Dixon, Illinois
Visit them at www.newgame-intown.com