Today I thought I’d do something different by just writing about some board games I played recently.
As much as I enjoy playing miniature wargames I also spend a fair amount of time playing boardgames. Here’s a handful of games I recently played, along with some thoughts on them. Not the least because christmas is coming up, and people might be looking for ideas for presents. I even made up some arbitrary and very subjective little bullet point thing for each game.
Genre: Asymetric strategy game, victory points
Game Length: 120 minutes
Complexity: Weeeell… it’s not easy to pick up, especially as each faction works differently.
A bit of a hit game of this year, that Root. It’s a 4-player game for control of the woods. The nice twist about this is that it’s entirely asymetrical, meaning the factions work entirely differently.
The factions are (from memory, excuse if I get some detail wrong): The Birds, who used to control the Woodland, but got beaten back to just one nest by the Cats, who took control and now own everything and set up workshops everywhere. Then we got the Woodland Alliance, a sort of underground group consisting of all kinds of critters who aim to overthrow the cat regime. The fourth faction is an adventuring racoon who wanders the board, does quests, gets equipment crafted by the other players, etc.
So the whole “factions play different” is quite true. Overall, a really fun game. Not for the kids (mostly due to the rules’ complexity), and requires ruthlessness. Don’t let the cuddly design fool you – it’s a tough game. I had a good time.
Of course there’s some expansions with new factions to play out already.
Genre: Card-based battle game
Game Length: 30-60 minutes
Here’s an interesting one I just played last night for the first time. Milito is a light, card-based Ancients battle game published by PSC Games.
The setup is rather simple – the battlefield is defined by five Terrain Cards laid out on the table, each of them being either Plains, Woods, Hills, Rough Terrain, etc., either having no effects (plains) or favouring certain troop types. These cards represent sections of the battlefield. The game’s goal is to control three or more of these sections at the beginning of your turn.
The players’ army is represented by their hand of cards. Each card represents a unit (various kinds of infantry, cavalry, plus special units like elephants) or a leader. Players start with a full hand, but only get a few cards back each turn, so you have to manage this resource or you’ll run out of options as the game goes on.
On their turn a player will commit troops to sections of the battlefield. Usually this comes at a cost, so if you want to commit a unit of heavy infantry you’ll have to discard another card from your hand to the discard pile. Combat between opposing troops fighting for a battlefield section will compare attacker’s attack vs the defender’s defense values. Each player plays one of their cards face-down and reveal them at the same time to ‘boost’ their combat score.
So apart from the troops and leaders themselves, getting them on the table and fighting will cost you additional precious cards.
This is just the very basic rules. There are additional things like leader bonuses, evading maneuvers based on the speed of the unit in question, flank attacks from a battlefield section to an opposed neighboring one, and so on. Still, the game manages to keep it all simple and civic.
The box contains six faction decks or rather three historical pairings (Macedon Greeks – Persians, Republican Romans – Carthaginians, Imperial Romans – Ancient British). Ahistoric pairings can be played, if that’s your jam.
Good rules, art by Peter Dennis, fun times.
Genre: Economic/Resource management card game with lots of haggling
Game Length: 100 minutes
Complexity: Simple, but devious
Let’s do a classic to round things off. Bohnanza was released in 1997 and became a big hit, as shown by about a million (bean pun named) expansion.
Players take on the roles of bean farmers, each with two bean fields (with an option to buy a third). There are 8 kinds of different beans of varying rarity in the game, and players have to haggle for types of beans so they can put them on their fields and eventually sell them off in the most profitable way.
Without going into the mechanisms of the game too much, it’s a game of strategy and bargaining. This means a lot of player interaction, which is always fun. It’s not the shortest of card games, but it’s really good fun. One of my favourites.
Righto, so much for three board games which I recently played and enjoyed for different reasons. I hope I didn’t get too many details wrong and that you found the article interesting!