2017 has been the best year for gamers to date. I don’t think anyone can disagree with this statement. No medium was left untouched with a slew of top quality releases that left gamers in a whirlwind of enjoyment and trying to find time to play everything.
While this is always a great position to be in for the hobby, for the first time I have had many board game purchases that have been left unplayed. I am used to this with my video game collection (Witcher 3, I will get there this year I promise), board games are something I can usually get at least a couple of games in regularly.
So with this in mind, I bring you my top 10 games I own but have not yet been able to play!
Charterstone is a game that just makes this list as it was released late 2017, and I have been able to play the first game in 2018 at the time of writing this list.
I don’t feel too bad including it for a very simple reason – I am still looking forward to playing a solo campaign. This is done with the aid of a recharge pack and simply flipping over the board. A legacy game that can be reset using largely the base game rather than buying a completely new copy is great.
While I really enjoy legacy games, the ‘play and done’ mentality of a lot of them does cause me concern. This is increased when to my knowledge a high percentage of board games are not made with recycled (or even recyclable) components in mind. Having a legacy game specifically designed to become a ‘normal’ game at the end of the campaign is something I think more legacy games should be striving for.
Charterstone is the latest game from Stonemaier games. It is a competitive legacy game wherein each of the 12 games you slowly build the village. This allows a low learning curve initially with only a few options available to players, and options and strategies grow as the players build more as the campaign continues.
The component quality is superb, the artwork is fantastic, and the game I played (mistakes and all) was very enjoyable. The only downside so far is it has the type of stickers that permanently stay on if the sticky side comes within a centimeter of anything – great for long-term permanence, terrible for misaligned placement!
That aside, a full review will be coming later in the year when the campaign is complete.
The Android universe for me is in a lot of ways becoming like the Munchkin universe to me. I love the world and the possibilities it presents. Every new bit of news makes my ears perk. But the main game I can take it or leave it these days. That is a story for another day though.
So what does all this have to do with New Angeles? In some ways, think of this in a lot of ways as Diplomacy light. You meet your goals by negotiating the tables actions, then watch as these decisions resolve. Who has being honest, and who saw the advantage in doing something else? Each round is a new chapter, and you never quite know who to trust.
Players represent the corporations of the Android universe. You all need to work together to keep the city operating and meet required goals each turn, all while keeping government involvement out of your city.
That’s right – you don’t work together to win, you work together to not lose. Well, at first anyway. Then the final revelations are made.
The winners are determined by secret objectives, including the possibility of a traitor in the mix. A player that is intentionally trying to make everyone lose so that they can win. Players also have rivals, and they win if they meet a requirement over their opponent, e.g. you win if have more money than them.
So yes, a relaxing afternoon of quiet discussion, respect and building trust is what is in store for you when you sit down to play New Angeles. Well, in the opposite universe anyway 🙂
I think it would be fair to say people I play with regularly would call my playstyle Chaotic. And it deserves the capitalisation. Once I have the basics down, I enjoy seeing what others do in certain situations. Winning the game takes a second seat to the limited social experiment taking place around me. How would this player react to I play this? Will someone else spot the opening left if I do that?
With that in mind and a group of like-minded players available, New Angeles needs to be on my played list. It seems perfect for a player like me. The higher player count and time required has blocked me for far too long.
New Angeles also has the honour of being on another ‘get to it’ list of mine – I really want to paint the minis as well 😀
ARKHAM HORROR: THE CARD GAME
I enjoy Fantasy Flights Arkham Horror universe. I can understand that people are over the Cthulu games, but this series is for me one of the standout examples of these games done correctly.
Yes, they are long and involved and take afternoons to play, but I enjoy these types of games occasionally. Just like the subject material, they games aren’t for everybody.
All that said, Fantasy Flight is doing a fantastic job at opening this universe up to new players. Mansions of Madness, probably my favourite that I could get new players to try as well, recently had an upgrade. The second edition that not only streamlined the game with the assistance of an app for rules and puzzles but allowed me to be a player instead of the bad guy. I can even play it alone!
Along these lines, Arkham Horror: The Card Game is opening up adventures to fans of a completely different style of gameplay. Deck building adventure games aren’t exactly new, but it’s a first for a series like this.
I have enjoyed similar style games such as Warhammer Quest and Death Angels, but neither had an ongoing campaign, just new adventures. So in Arkham Horror, I get an ongoing story with a light role play element that is being continuously built on with regular new packs.
There are even game night scenarios for competitive type play.
With the base game, I can play it solo or with a partner. With a couple of base sets, you can play up to 4 players. This gives you a lot of options on how you want to play, and this flexibility is great!
I don’t think I need to go into too much detail why I can’t wait to play this.
Terraforming Mars currently sits at number 5 on the Board Game Geek rankings, which in itself is something that a lot of people have discussed.
It’s one of those games that really needs an organiser or at the very least upgraded playmats. The most common complaint has been component quality, especially the effect of knocking the table and losing track of everything as cubes fall off your player card.
Not having found an organiser I am willing to buy just yet is a reason I haven’t pulled this out even to play solo.
That’s not quite true. I have found some from Piece Haven, but they don’t ship to Australia for some reason, and I really can’t justify having it sent to the US/somewhere else and reshipped.
Apart from that, remembering this is a more complex type of game that usually appeals more to certain groups of gamers, having it ranked so highly speaks volumes for its gameplay. Yes, it’s not a perfect game and has some issues, but when the thickness of the cards is the more pressing matter to highlight who wouldn’t be keen to give it a play?
There is even a digital version coming this year. I am hoping with the quality of board game adaptions lately that this will be a fun way to belt out a couple of games quickly solo. Digital just doesn’t cut it for me multiplayer 🙂
NEMO’S WAR (2ND EDITION)
Nemo’s war is a game I don’t expect many people to have heard of let alone played. A large part of this is because to my knowledge this is one of the biggest single player games out there. I don’t mean like Gloomhaven or The 7th Continent where you can play it single player and it works well. This is a single player game with variants for more players (and they don’t seem to work well at that). Add to this a reputation for a brutal difficulty, and you have a very niche game on your hands!
Following the story of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, you take the role of Nemo and work to improve science, crush imperialism, and possibly go to all-out war. The choices put before you are pretty much the best and potentially worst parts of the character of Nemo, and you get to play them as you see fit.
This is a game with a lot of replay value, as you can change how you want to play it or based on starting setup. It’s also incredibly beautiful and comes with high-quality components.
You play the game in multiple stages, with variable adventures drawn from a pile. These adventures can also change depending on your motivation, creating even more variation.
There is a mix of worker placement to keep the Nautilus in check, area control, naval combat, and dice. So many dice.
A disadvantage of the game is there are always multiple things happening at the same time, and playing solo a rules mistake or forgetting an order of play can have a devastating effect on the game though. If you watch reviews online, a short one is normally about thirty minutes, because there are so many facets of gameplay to look at. As such, I will simply leave the teaser descriptions here, and if they sound good to you, have a look at Board Game Geek and see what you think.
If you are the sort of player that enjoyed Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island and enjoy solo games, this is probably a great game for you.
With all this said, Nemo’s War is one of the rare games I think would really benefit from a digital version. As a single player game, the computer can handle all the setup, scoring etc. that does weigh down the game when playing solo. It can also have preset tutorials and the like making learning the game much easier.
DUNGEONS AND DRAGON ADVENTURE SYSTEM GAMES
Yes, I included a huge cheat entry. But it’s for a good reason I promise.
I have still unopened a series of Dungeons and Dragons Board Games. These are Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, The Legend of Drizzt, Temple of Elemental Evil and finally Tomb of Annihilation.
Castle Ravenloft came out in 2010 and was based on the fourth edition D&D rules, and was a great way to get board gamers into Dungeons and Dragons pen and paper.
These games are self-contained D&D adventures playable without a Dungeon Master. And they can be combined into a single campaign. Which is exactly what I have been planning to do for the last five years or so. Last year when Tomb of Annihilation came out, I resolved that within a year I would have all the games opened and the miniatures painted so that I could start a campaign with some new players.
It’s great to have five campaigns ready to go, and personally, I am looking forward to it as I don’t have to be the games master. Even setting up a custom campaign, I can still play and work with the other players cooperatively and have a few great afternoons together. All this without having to sit and plan out a campaign myself – something I enjoyed in my younger days, but I just don’t have the time for today.
This will be a lot of fun for me playing campaigns that I played over 20 years ago, and seeing new players experience them for the first time. Just like some movies define a certain generation, you can tell an old-school RPG player just by mentioning the Temple of Elemental Evil. It was the Dark Souls run of the day, and I can’t wait to revisit!
I was almost going to leave this as ‘Terra Mystica. In Space.’ I would be correct, but it wouldn’t exactly describe why I am looking forward to playing it so much.
Terra Mystica is a great game with a lot of moving parts, but they are all parts that make sense to you once you have played the game. It’s one of those bigger type games though where people will need to block out a good couple of hours to play, possibly an afternoon if everyone is learning.
A large number of races that comes with the game and the slight difference in conditions and powers makes for a game that will take a long time to master. For such a large game, Terra Mystica is easy to learn as there are core rules that everyone plays with and goals to achieve. This makes the game a little like over the top chess. You know what everyone can do, what they need, and where they would likely want to go. It makes for an experience that is somehow both unique and uniform at the same time.
Gaia project takes these core mechanics and puts you out into space. This to me is already an improvement, as the changing of the land types becomes terraforming a planet. This is something I am instantly more comfortable with in terms of game setting. The starting board is also made up of 10 ‘sectors’ that can be randomly placed, adding to the replay considerably.
There are a few more small improvements as well. There are Gaia planets that can be colonised by every faction already, and planets that can be upgraded to Gaia planets as well. Each faction also has many different skills they can upgrade during a game. Skills such as Economy, Research and Artificial Intelligence can lead to different bonuses and conditions for abilities, allowing both flexible gameplay for your faction and another layer for your opponents to try and predict.
If you liked Terra Mystica, you really should enjoy Gaia project. If you have never played Terra Mystica before I wouldn’t worry. Either game will be fun, and simply gives you a choice between a fantasy and sci-fi world to play in.
Robinson Crusoe was one of those games that I had always heard about, but never really got a chance to play. Robinson Crusoe was designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek, a Polish designer that does some great if very complicated games that have a strong story element to them. Unfortunately, another aspect of his games that is well known is the manuals.
One of the things I was excited about for Robinson Crusoe was the fact it was a large solo game. Sure you can play with more people, but by all accounts, it works best solo or as a pair at most. Now, targeting solo play is becoming a big thing, but a few years ago this was a bigger gamble. The most popular solo game at the time was Friedemann Friese Friday, and that is only a card game in comparison.
I started to get a little hopeful of getting my hands on Robinson Crusoe when a second edition was announced, published by Z-Man instead of Ignacy’s own company Portal game. There would be no differences in the game, and I was hoping that the manual may be tidied up after a lot of feedback over time. Then on Board Games Insider, a podcast featuring Ignacy and Stephen Buonocore, I heard of a new theme for Robinson Crusoe – First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet.
The island setting or Robinson Crusoe works well, but I enjoy my sci-fi. Being trapped in space design wise can open up a door to a lot of directions you can go. You can be fanciful and include aliens, or you can go realistic and simply be fighting the lack of everything you need to survive, or anything in between. So First Martians became the game I was going to finally get and sit down with.
Then I got really busy and completely missed the pre-order, and Portal games take ages to hit retail if at all over here. But in December I finally got my hands on a copy, and I think the wait will actually work for me. Manual wise, apparently this is right up there with the most complicated of all time. But on the Portal site there is now the First Martians almanac, an FAQ on steroids. This living document is apparently the way to learn the game, alongside another great Watch It Played video from Rodney Smith.
The companion app is supposed to be pretty good now, and I look forward to trying it out. On launch, there were apparently quite a few bugs and issues but the consensus is these have mostly been fixed. Something I really like is there are already new cards and a new scenario included, increasing the number of missions to seven at no additional cost.
This is the game I am looking to play very soon. It looks like a lot of fun, and I can just pull it out and play through the campaigns myself on one of those nights I want to do something, but I can’t look at a screen anymore. And you need to be in that specific mindset to play this game. Just look at the board in the images – there is so much happening and going on, you can’t be in a ‘just sit and relax’ frame of mind with this one.
I don’t think this will be a surprise to anyone. This is the number one game in the Board Game Geek rankings right now, and I have made plenty of references to it.
Even if you have no interest in the game itself, you can’t deny it’s bordering on a cultural phenomenon. It’s not the first game of its kind. It’s not the most funded game ever. It’s not the most well-known game of all time. But it’s so close to everything it almost might as well be. Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 remains the most funded game on Kickstarter to date, but Gloomhaven is the name that people outside of the board game hobby know as ‘That really big game’.
I don’t know how much of a claim to fame this is, but it even replaced Cosmic Encounter as Tom Vasel’s number one game of all time.
Without having played it or watched it too closely to avoid spoilers, it a little hard to explain Gloomhaven.
Think of it as a legacy type euro inspired dungeon crawler? That will make sense to a few people, but not so much for others. If that didn’t make sense to you, think of this as a board game with multiple adventures that you can go on and level up your characters, in a world that changes everytime you play.
It’s huge. Literally huge. The box weighs in at something like 10 kg. There are hundreds of hours of gameplay in this box, and you never quite know where it’s going to take you. To get this sort of variety before, it was thought you needed to be playing video games. While you can go through Gloomhaven solo, the consensus is to go through with 2-3 players to share the experience without dragging things out too much.
I am hoping to get one or two people each week to start playing it with me. I can’t wait to play enough to do a first impressions review of this game soon.
THE 7TH CONTINENT
Another one that probably isn’t a surprise to a lot of people that knows me. I have been chomping at the bit to play The 7th Continent and Gloomhaven for ages. The main reason why this is higher on my list than Gloomhaven is simple – by all accounts, while Gloomhaven works well solo, The 7th Continent works better as a single player game.
This means I can sit and play without having to organise players or groups, and when my free time is only really known a the last minute, that is a big deal for me.
When I was growing up, the choose your own adventure and pick a path books were a staple of my library. These then evolved into the fighting fantasy series with the Sorcery series remaining my favourite of the series and my first exposure to a solo campaign adventure that didn’t require a computer. Now that I am older, I still enjoy these types of adventures, and also now escape rooms to look forward to as well.
By all accounts, The 7th Continent does a fantastic job of combining all of these elements into a massive campaign experience. I understand the same thing has been freely available in video game form for some time, and I myself have given examples where for solo play I will play digital versions of a game. But in general, these are quick games like Onirim and Elder Sign: Omens, where I can have the entire game finished within a few minutes. There are times where I would love the grander experience, but at the same time, I don’t want to be looking at a screen anymore either.
Between The 7th Continent, Gloomhaven, Charterstone and Pandemic Legacy Season 2 I have a great year of adventures to look forward to 🙂