Apr 11, 2014

Boardgames, Nerd Style - 5 New Favorites

I just discovered fantasy themed board games.  Apparently there are tons of these!  I'm so thrilled to have been introduced to some of them and to realize that this is a whole genre of board game.

My 5 New Favorite Games

1. Harry Potter Clue

One of our first game nights involved this game, so I suppose I have some addition sentimental reasons for liking the Harry Potter adaptation of Clue.  However, if you, like me, find that Clue has gotten a bit stale now that we've all grown up and we're all using the same strategy, the Harry Potter adaptation mixes it up delightfully!

Each turn, there's the possibility of rolling "the dark mark" at which point a card is drawn to see who gets hit and what bad things happens to them (usually along the lines of losing a turn or some of your precious floo powder - see next paragraph).  You have a certain number of magical items, spells, and "helpers" that can save you from the penalty, but you usually have the wrong ones.

You also turn the gears at the corners of the board, and some floo networks (yep, instead of trap doors) are closed off and others opened.  I spent 4 turns one game trapped in a room where the flue networks had closed on me!  Plus my friends and I got all silly, and every time we rolled it we'd all call out "The Dark Mark" and wave our hands in mock terror and then their kids would get excited even though they're too young to really understand what's going on.  Yep.  Good stuff.

2. Small World

On a ski trip back in January, Significant had insisted on buying this game to play in the cabin with the family.  He assured me that it was an awesome game and that he had loved it as a child.  This reassurance, having been worn a bit thin by the numerous times he's tried to get to play various video games that have some fond memory for him, didn't do much to convince me, but I allowed myself to get sucked into it.  It is awesome.  

My dad likes to play Titan, which is a game where you recruit monsters from various tiles, and then attack each other's armies with the resulting stacks.  Lots of dice rolling, lots of wandering around on the board and trying to recruit specific things, and loooots of time.

Small World is like the simplified version of this.  You only get one army at a time, you know exactly what their abilities to are, and everyone tries to wipe everyone else's army off the board.  Like Risk but with fantasy creatures.  Best part?  There's a set number of turns, so you really have to strategize each turn and it ends long before you're tired of it.

3. Star Wars Life

My friend had purchased this second hand as a gift for her husband.  Great deal, price-wise!  Not so good for instructions.  However, we googled it, found the details, and plowed through.  The basic premise is the regular Life game, where you choose your path (how much education/debt/etc before getting started), and then try to collect money, cars, family, and experiences as you go along.  Except... you're a Jedi student and you're collecting an instructor, light saber, and power!

The first one to get to the end with enough power to pass the exams will probably win (whoever has the most "power" wins, but you get such awesome bonuses by being first there that the others will be hard pressed to overcome that).  Unless... any of the other players has taken short cuts or made immoral choices, in which case they've become Sith.

If a Sith and a Jedi make it to the end, they battle it out and whoever is more powerful wins.  When we played, it became clear that I was not going to beat the other to the finish line.  I rolled so many 1's and 2's!  So I went over to the dark side AND I was the only one who took the dark path, so I didn't have a ton of competition.  As you've probably guessed, I kicked everyone's butt, and it was awesome, and that is the main reason this is my new favorite game ever!

4. Lord of the Rings Monopoly

Another adaptation of a pretty popular game for the better!  The locations are all places from the movie, the railroads are THE HORSES (Back off Bitch, Shadowfax is mine!), and the electric company/waterworks are the staves of Gandalf and Saruman.

Best part?  As you play, the ring moves around the board.  It starts in the Shire, and then each time "the eye" is rolled (counts as a 1 for your actual roll), the ring moves one property space.  The game is over when the ring reaches the last space, which is (did you guess) Mount Doom.

I loved that the ring stays integral to the game because it sets the pace and also that the game doesn't drag on.  I also really enjoyed introducing my friends to the concept of free rides, and then getting in the midst of every tense negotiation that took place (which, scarily enough, is what my father does, but I flatter myself that I did it in a nicer, less obnoxious way. :-)

5. Tsuro

This one isn't exactly a "nerd" game (in that there's no fantasy element), but I'm including it because it's a board game, we played it on game night, and it's super fun!  Tsuro is really easy to learn and play - it's just a strategy game involving tiles, where you build paths, trying to keep yourself on the board, while directing your fellow players off the edge.

Each tile is roughly square, with 2 paths on each edge, so it gets tough to keep track of all the possibilities each time you set one down.  I did really well at this, until I tried to mess with other people's paths, which almost always resulted in my own demise.  I guess that's karma.

I'm sure there's so many more than this and I'm already excited to do some online shopping (I think this clearly constitutes a necessary hosting expense).

What other great games are out there that we should include in our next game night?