Lately we had a lot of fun playing different board games. The classic ones like Monopoly, Risk, and rummy are still great fun. But the number of new games has exploded in the last several years as designers dream up space adventures, deck-building sagas, and zombie survival games. So order a pizza, invite over one to three friends, and try out the best board games released this year
I will give you few examples:
Playing Time: 40-100 min
Marco Polo started on a journey to China with his father and older brother. After a long and grueling journey that led through Jerusalem and Mesopotamia and over the “Silk Road”, they reached the court of Kublai Khan in 1275.
In The Voyages of Marco Polo, players recreate this journey, with each player having a different character and special power in the game. The game is played over five rounds. Each round, the players roll their five personal dice and can perform one action each turn with them. The five main actions are shown on the bottom part of the board:
- Get resources with 1-3 dice, depending on the value of the resource (camels, pepper, silk, gold). The first player for each resource gets them for free; the later ones have to pay according to the value shown on the dice.
- Take one resource of your choice and two camels. Each player sets the minimum value for the future dice.
- Earn money, with any one die netting you five money.
- Purchase orders: The value of one die unlocks the orders up to that number (shown on the spaces) and allows you to buy one or two of those orders. Orders are refreshed and placed at the beginning of each round. To fulfill an order, players have to spend resources for victory points, other resources, camels, and more.
- Travel: Two dice are placed to unlock the distance that can be traveled on the upper part of the board, that is, the map. Here, the traveler piece of each player starts at Venice and can decide between several routes eastward, all the way to Beijing. When a traveler stops at a city, they place a marker there, giving them access to a different additional action for the rest of the game.
After five rounds, the game ends with players receiving victory points for arriving in Beijing, fulfilling the most orders, and having reached the cities on secret city cards that each player gets at the start of the game; these points are added to the VPs gained during the game.
Playing Time: 15-25 min
Game description from the publisher:
In the long winters between raiding seasons, warriors keep their intellect sharp through games of wits and chance. Ragnar, Rollo, Floki and even the Earl challenge each other to this game of stone placement filled with tactics and subtle maneuvering for victory.
In Jarl: The Vikings Tile-Laying Game, players move their warriors (tiles) around the board and flip them over after each move. Each tile’s side shows a different movement profile. If you end your movement in a square occupied by an opponent’s tile, you capture that tile. Capture your opponent’s Jarl to win!
Playing Time: 120 min Around
Myth is a fully co-operative fantasy game. Players take on the role of one of 5 different heroes working together to defeat the Darkness. Each hero has a different skill set which represented by a unique deck of cards. Players spend Action Points by using cards. Once a certain amount of Action Points have been spent the Darkness fights back by activating monster lairs, spawning monster captains and eventually the Boss.
A complete game in Myth is called a Story. Each Story is played over three Acts. Acts can be played sequentially, or can be split up over three different game sessions.
Players’ avatars within a Story are called Heroes. Myth Heroes are clothed in immense power, able to reave all but the mightiest foes. However, this power must be balanced lest the Darkness take too much notice. Players must weigh their actions against the Threat each will bring, with the consequences of awakening more evil and bringing doom on the party’s endeavors. And be careful they must, as the Darkness is formidable and eager to snatch glory from the valiant.
Heroes are controlled through an intuitive Hero Deck (videos for each Hero can be found in the Game Play Videos section below). Each deck plays uniquely and allows players more freedom of action and the ability to truly impact the Story each and every Act. Yet, cooperation is the key to victory and bloody fortune. Players must communicate, interact, and assist each other or surely the Darkness will cover all.
Myth is a fully cooperative game. There is no player controlling the Darkness. The Darkness is governed by a set of rules unique to each Boss Deck and is activated through Hero actions. If the Heroes get overzealous, then the Darkness pushes back by activating Lairs, spawning Captains, and punishing the Heroes with devious Events. If the Heroes take a more subtle approach, then the Darkness reacts by reducing the potential for treasure and rewards. Without the treasures and equipment to upgrade, the Heroes will find each Act more difficult and eventually fail. The dynamic nature of the Darkness really lends a more fluid feel to the Story. Players aren’t being driven by properties out of their control, nor are they being shepherded by a person whose skill has a direct impact on the enjoyment of the game.
Myth is a fun fantasy romp where players feel truly heroic. In the playing of the game, the players are creating their own mythos. These stories are the ones carried away from the table, becoming myths themselves. And these are the myths, with friends and family, that we carry with us; telling and retelling our endeavors at the mead benches, earning treasured smiles and laughter.
Playing Time: 60 min
Send out the scouts! Position the Flagship in tactical orbit! And reconfigure that Battlestation into something new! Your fleet of loyal ships, powered by the might of quantum probability itself, carries your empire to the far-flung stars. How will history remember you? As a ravenous destroyer? A clever tactician? A dauntless explorer? Command your armada, construct world-shattering technologies, and rally the remnants of humanity for a final confrontation.
In Quantum, each player is a fleet commander from one of the four factions of humanity, struggling to conquer a sector of space. Every die is a starship, with the value of the die determining the movement of the ship, but also its combat power – with low numbers more powerful. So a [ 6 ] is a quick but fragile Scout and a [ 1 ] is a slow but mighty Battlestation.
Each type of ship also has a special power that can be used once per turn: Destroyers can warp space to swap places with other dice and Flagships can transport other ships. These powers can be used in combination for devastating effects. You’re not stuck with your starting ships, however: using Quantum technology, you can spend actions to transform (re-roll) your ships. Randomness plays a role in the game, but only when you want: Quantum is very much a strategy game.
You win by constructing Quantum Cubes – massive planetary energy extractors. Each time you build a new one, you can expand your fleet, earn a new permanent ability, or take a one-time special move. The board itself is made out of modular tiles, and you can play on one of the 30 layouts that come with the game or design your own. The ship powers, player abilities, and board designs combine to create a limitless set of possibilities for how to play and strategies for how to win.
With elegant mechanics, an infinity of scenarios, and easy-to-learn rules that lead to deep gameplay, Quantum is a one-of-a-kind game of space combat, strategy and colonization that will satisfy both hard-core and casual players.
Playing Time: 50- 90 min
Crossing into the Land of 1001 Nights, your caravan arrives at the fabled Sultanate of Naqala. The old sultan just died and control of Naqala is up for grabs! The oracles foretold of strangers who would maneuver the Five Tribes to gain influence over the legendary city-state. Will you fulfill the prophecy? Invoke the old Djinns and move the Tribes into position at the right time, and the Sultanate may become yours!
Designed by Bruno Cathala, Five Tribes builds on a long tradition of German-style games that feature wooden meeples. Here, in a unique twist on the now-standard “worker placement” genre, the game begins with the meeples already in place – and players must cleverly maneuver them over the villages, markets, oases, and sacred places tiles that make up Naqala. How, when, and where you dis-place these Five Tribes of Assassins, Elders, Builders, Merchants, and Viziers determine your victory or failure.
As befitting a Days of Wonder game, the rules are straightforward and easy to learn. But devising a winning strategy will take a more calculated approach than our standard fare. You need to carefully consider what moves can score you well and put your opponents at a disadvantage. You need to weigh many different pathways to victory, including the summoning of powerful Djinns that may help your cause as you attempt to control this legendary Sultanate.
Playing Time: 15-35 min
In Camel Up, up to eight players bet on five racing camels, trying to suss out which will place first and second in a quick race around a pyramid. The earlier you place your bet, the more you can win — should you guess correctly, of course. Camels don’t run neatly, however, sometimes landing on top of another one and being carried toward the finish line. Who’s going to run when? That all depends on how the dice come out of the pyramid dice shaker, which releases one die at a time when players pause from their bets long enough to see who’s actually moving!
Playing Time: 25-35 min
Splendor is a game of chip-collecting and card development. Players are merchants of the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, shops—all in order to acquire the most prestige points. If you’re wealthy enough, you might even receive a visit from a noble at some point, which of course will further increase your prestige.
On your turn, you may (1) collect chips (gems), or (2) buy and build a card, or (3) reserve one card. If you collect chips, you take either three different kinds of chips or two chips of the same kind. If you buy a card, you pay its price in chips and add it to your playing area. To reserve a card—in order to make sure you get it, or, why not, your opponents don’t get it—you place it in front of you face down for later building; this costs you a round, but you also get gold in the form of a joker chip, which you can use as any gem.
All of the cards you buy increase your wealth as they give you a permanent gem bonus for later buys; some of the cards also give you prestige points. In order to win the game, you must reach 15 prestige points before your opponents do.
Playing Time: 15-20 min
Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES.
In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.
Codenames: Win or lose, it’s fun to figure out the clues.
Which one is your game? Do share your thoughts, post comment or share with friends 😉 Enjoy your game night.