Staying inside and looking for something to play? Here are four classic games to keep you entertained!
The world is in a strange place right now. It’s been getting stranger and harder the last few years. I have been working from home during the week bar a couple of sick days, and I don’t see that changing soon.
The internet is abuzz with more stories of humanity being terrible and memes trying to make light of the situation. Apart from wishes that I hope you are doing as well as you can, I won’t be going into any detail of what I think of the world at the moment.
What I can do is talk about something I love – board games. Playing games is always something fun to do, and offers some escapism to boot 🙂
Generally, on a Friday, I would be doing a full game review. Today I decided to something a little different, and suggest four board games that you can enjoy in both physical and digital form!
That’s right – you can play with others, or even if you are inside by yourself the computer AI offers a great time.
Enough of what today is about – on to the games!
Ticket to Ride – Steam, Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox
A classic game I have referred to on the site now and then, usually in Last Week’s Gaming. It had been a while since I got this modern classic to the table, but it is as fun now as the first time I played it.
The premise is simple – collect sets of coloured cards, and trade them in to build tracks to complete specific tickets. It can sound overly simple, but the elegant simplicity of Ticket to Ride has made it a favourite amongst new players and veterans alike.
The variety of gameplay offered with a large number of ticket goals randomly given each game, coupled with strategic choke points and eventually recognition of all the routes makes Ticket to Ride incredibly addictive. It also helps that games on digital go very quickly, as shuffling dealing and scoring are all handled by the system!
If you have played Ticket to Ride before or play it enough to master the original board, you can get almost every expansion as well. Explore multiple maps from the USA, Europe and Asia. Each expansion brings new rule tweaks and challenges, letting you see why Ticket to Ride has survived so well in the ‘cult of the new’ in board gaming.
If you have Xbox Game Pass, you can play the original USA board for free! It’s hard to beat that price 🙂 Fair warning though – the train whistles when playing on TV is rather shrill and will let the rest of the house know what you are playing!
A lot of people are over the Cthulhu Mythos in gaming, and theme fatigue is a real thing. I adore Elder Sign, though. Cooperative battle Yahtzee is a pretty good description of Elder Sign, and Omens is the digital implementation of the board game.
I will never pull out the physical copy to play solo. There are so many decks of cards to deal with. Playing solo, I spend 1/2 – 2/3rds of my time managing the board. Playing with friends, this isn’t a problem, as you divide up the management and time flies. The general chat and sense of group success when you all work together is well worth the setup cost.
If I want to have a quick round though, I will always fire up Elder Sign: Omens. Technically I have it on my phone and Steam, but I only bought expansions on PC. Gameplay-wise, it’s terrible to watch someone play. Playing yourself though, is an incredibly immersive and rewarding experience. I can’t count how many times I have looked up after what I would have sworn was 10 minutes and discovered it was closer to 90.
The mechanics are repetitive. Pick a location, roll your dice to match symbols to pass challenges, and try to collect a certain amount of Elder Sign before the ‘big bad’ earns doom points. It’s a race to a certain number of points for both sides. But I have spent way too many hours telling myself ‘just one more game’ to not tell anyone to give Elder Sign a play.
I have talked about Potion Explosion in my Ramblings and mentioned it in Last Week’s Gaming. Another collection game, in Potion Explosion you pick a coloured marble from a large dispenser. If two matching colours hit as they drop, they create an ‘explosion’ letting you collect them as well.
The random nature of the game already gives it a great replayable puzzle experience. Then I got it on my phone. I think I have close to 100 games on my phone alone!
There are three levels of AI opponents, but if you want, you can also play against others online. This makes it great if you are home alone, and want to test your skills against others 🙂
But the random components dropping and mixing isn’t the only thing you can change up. There are different potions you can create, and with expansions different Professors you can ask for help – at a cost, of course. This gives you a heap of different ways to change up your game experience 🙂
My favourite alternate name for Tokaido was given by a friend of mine. They describe it as ‘The Hangover Game’. Every other game engages you in competition or sometimes tricky logic puzzles. Tokaido is a challenge and has many different scoring paths. Where it stands alone is the goal of the game is to have the most fulfilling journey across Japan.
What do I mean by fulfilling? Treat the game as a holiday game. You need to experience different foods, go shopping, paint, chat to strangers, take in the sites, even donate to temples if you feel inclined.
The turn order can take a while to get used to. The person in the last place on the path takes the next turn. If you fly ahead down the road, others will have more time to go slowly and enjoy their trip. Just like when you are on holiday, if you rush through the experience, you don’t come out with as many memories.
While the theme is laid back, and the digital implementation has gorgeous animation, there is still a substantial strategic element to Tokaido. It is nice to sit back and enjoy, but if you relax too much, your competitors will smash your score.
If you think the game sounds overly simple, think again. Each player has different available abilities you need to capitalise on to maximise your score. Owned everyone just meeting travellers one game? That was a lucky draw. You may meet no one that will help your score for the next 10 games.
While it might not look like everyone’s cup of tea, I can’t think of anyone I have taught it to that hasn’t enjoyed it.
I can’t recommend Pandemic enough. Sure, I have seen a lot of memes lately with COVID-19 and Pandemic, but that doesn’t change the fact Pandemic is a great game.
Digitally you can only get the original Pandemic. If you were to look at the physical versions, remember there are many versions with similar mechanics but very different gameplay available.
And like Ticket to Ride, if you have Game Pass on Xbox, you can try it out for free!
Pandemic is the game I am not going to talk about much here, as I have a full review that you can check out here. One thing I don’t touch on with the digital version in my review is the game soundtrack. The increase in tempo as you come closer to losing has a definite effect on you!
And one last game that I recently reviewed, One Deck Dungeon has grabbed my attention hard lately. Many of my recent gaming challenges have been me playing it, to the point I am contemplating starting to exclude plays!
A card based dungeon crawler with light RPG elements (if you choose to use them), One Deck Dungeon is a great game. The only thing I would warn against is playing on mobile. The gameplay is just as fun as the physical or larger screen version, but you have to switch panels during a round and that hides information.
For my full thoughts on One Deck Dungeon, check out my review here.
What do you think?
I can hand on heart say that I have spent hours playing each game, many times multiple games in one sitting. I have spent many an afternoon with all of these games. Hopefully, you can do the same 🙂
Until next time,