After going a long time without playing any new boardgames I’ve now played three in less than a month. Last night Suri and I got together with Casey to play Dominion, the latest German boardgame from Rio Grande Games to sweep every boardgame award on planet Earth. (Seriously, what is it with the Germans? Why are they so awesome at making games?) It was a little difficult to understand before we started playing, but once you get the flow the turns go very quickly. It’s the differences from ordinary deck-building card games that throw you at first: you never have ANY cards “in play” on the board in front of you when it’s not your turn and in most variants you have little ability to affect your fellow players. The strategy mostly involves choosing what to buy, especially early on in the game. I had mined enough silver and gold to replace my copper cards by the end of the game; that made my sudden late-game Province-buying spree much easier.
The Stars Are Right is an equally good strategic card game, but with a very different flow. The game board of constellations changes with almost every player’s turn, limiting the utility of planning out your play in
advance. Figuring out the correct moves to summon your unspeakable horrors can take a while, creating a fair amount of downtime. I’d be curious to try this as a two-player game to see if that speeds up the play. Even with the slow pace, this is an elegant, well-balanced strategy game. Lovecraft would likely disapprove of the whimsical art style, but he was afraid of degenerate French Canadians, so we have to take his opinions with a non-Euclidean grain of salt.
Ticket to Ride has been around for a few years now, but I’d never gotten to play until Christmas at Frank and Siobhan’s. I see why this game has been such a smash: gameplay that’s easy enough for an older child to follow, beautiful production values, instant gratification in building routes along the way, and long-term satisfaction at completing long train routes and blocking your opponents from doing the same.
It mystifies me that games as un-fun as Monopoly still sell with all the other great options out there. If your main exposure to board and card games has been beat-up copies of Sorry and Uno during childhood, here are some other great options.
- Settlers of Cataan
- Puerto Rico
- Axis and Allies
- Pirate’s Cove
- Tigris and Euphrates
- Formula De
- Kill Dr. Lucky