Dear 100 Hour Board,
Gotta do it...Favorite board games that are new to you since last time I asked this? (For reference, past iterations: Board Question #82070 and Board Question #86469.) And, related, do you have any favorite board game reviewers?
Extra points if you note which games in your list can be played with only two players and which still work with 6+.
Since last Alumni Week, Spectre and I have become pretty good friends with Yellow and Dragon Lady, and it's been wonderful. One of the side effects of this friendship is being introduced to a lot of new games.
As an aside, the Good Move Cafe in Provo is a great place to try out games if you're not sure whether or not you want to invest in them. It's also a great place to go on a double date. The food is mediocre (except the fries/fry sauce, which are delicious), but they have a huge selection of games.
Without further ado, games I've loved recently:
- Azul. I can't pin down why exactly I love this game. It might be the tiles, which feel really nice. But I also enjoyed the game play, even if I didn't win. It's definitely something I'd love to get to play with my kids in the future.
- Codenames Duet. Two years ago my friend and her husband introduced us to the original Codenames, so we got that for our wedding. It's a fun double date game to play, but since we don't frequently play with other people (a real bummer), Spectre got me this version for Christmas last year. I really like it, especially because you can use inside jokes and start to learn how someone else's mind really works.
- Takenoko. A panda loves to eat bamboo and you have to feed it. I just love this because it's cute.
- Century Spice Road. I also love this game for the visuals (can you guess a theme?).
- Forbidden Island (and Forbidden Desert). I played Forbidden Desert first with Yellow and Dragon Lady the first time we went to the game cafe, and I liked being able to play cooperatively for a change. Forbidden Island was on sale on Amazon about a month ago, and since it was under ten bucks, I sprung for it. I managed to get my siblings to play with us, and they actually seemed to enjoy it (despite hating "complicated" games). Once again, the cooperative aspect is nice.
- One Deck Dungeon. So, this one is probably the most unique on the list. I love it. It's actually for 1-2 players, but if you buy the expansion, you can play with 3-4. It's a cooperative dungeon exploration game a little like D&D, but you don't have the role-playing aspect. You do, however, have to roll play (ha). All of the characters are designed as female, and there's an option to do a quick play, or you can play in "campaign mode" which lets you keep track of wins and such from game to game.
I also just decided to purchase the new CIA board game, so ask me next year to see how it turned out!
I'm including some card games in this list, but here are my favorite sit-around-a-table-and-play games from the last little while:
- Cover Your A$$ets
- Love Letter
Here are my recent favorites!
Century Spice Road (2-5 players) - Love this one because it's so darn pretty. It's also got so many mechanics working at once, but none of them are crazy intense, so it's not too hard to learn or play.
Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle (2-4 players) - This one is a deck building game (with a lot of other things going on at the same time) and great for SO MANY REASONS. First of all, the box comes with seven levels you can play (each is like a mini expansion.) They're called Year 1, Year 2, etc., through Year 7. Years 1-2 are super easy and simple, excellent for non-gamers who have never played a deck building game before. They're a little boring if you are a gamer, frankly, but they're great for getting Harry Potter fans to start playing with you. Then, you just keep adding in expansions one by one (by the end, those non-gamers are perfectly able to compete on the same level as everyone else and could probably pick up other strategy games much more easily, too.) There's also an actual expansion you can buy if you need more gameplay after that. There's tons of replayability, the components are high quality and fun to manipulate, and it's a cooperative game with enough of an individual bent that it's not as natural for one or two super strategic players to take over and strategize for everyone else the way it is in some cooperative games. Literally everyone I have played this game with enjoys it so much they keep coming back for more.
Strain (3-7 players) - An immunology game! Sort of! :) Seriously, though, this one is incredible. You are building small organisms that attack each other (but are weakened when they attack, so you have to be careful with your attacks!) It's awesome.
Clank (2-5 players) - This one is newer to me and has been really fun! You are sneaking underground to steal treasure from a sleeping dragon and you have to get back out of the lair before making too much noise (clank) and waking up the dragon and then getting caught. It's a deck builder, too.
Smallworld (2-5 players, maybe more with expansions?) - This one is ... honestly kind of hard to explain how it works. Here is a video.
Star Trek Catan (3-4 players) - I mean, it's regular Catan, but gorgeous and with extra ability cards. We only have this one, not the regular Catan.
Carcasonne (2-5 players, more with expansions) - Mapbuilding! This one is SO FLEXIBLE. So many things to love: It's great because my 3yo can do it a little bit, too, but it scales well - it can still be a super strategic game for adults. It is really fun and strategic with two people but ALSO works for up to I think 6-7 depending on the expansion? It's simple but not easy, if that makes sense. So good.
Seven Wonders Duel (2 players!) - This is a drafting game with multiple ways to win and good replayability. It's pretty different from normal Seven Wonders. It's related enough that it makes sense that it's the same game, but you'll still find yourself having to reorient learning rules if you are used to one or the other. We really enjoy it.
Dastardly Dirigibles (2-5 players) - It's kind of like Go Fish, except you are trying to build a steampunk dirigible (you have to collect a specific set of seven cards), and every time you place a piece of your dirigible, everyone else has to also place that piece on their dirigible if they have it in their hand. It gets crazy because you are trying to build your dirigible with as many of one suit as possible, so if you have been dealt something from a different suit and are suddenly forced to replace something on your dirigible with the random one from your hand, it can change your strategy and scoring and all kinds of things. My 3yo loves these cards and he is learning to play it little by little. (There are also special cards that switch up gameplay with special abilities, etc.)
T.I.M.E. Stories (2-4 players) - I'm borrowing this one right now because I'm told there is no replayability, it's all about discovering the story/puzzle and then you're done forever. We'll see - I am about halfway through playing it right now (playtime is listed as 90-240 minutes!) I know a lot of people LOVE this game. It feels a lot like a video game ... you move from location to location and try to unearth different keys or talk to different people or whatever that eventually allow you to accomplish an Endgame Task. I'm not really a video gaming person, so it's not necessarily one of my favorites, but I am having fun. It deserves a place on my recommendations list mainly because it's such a different experience than I find in my usual Eurogame strategy-style game, and I imagine it would be a good gateway game for video gamers who want to try more board gaming. I know there are lots of expansions, and I would try another one at some point. I've heard The Marcy Case is great.
We're also going to try Sherlock Holmes and 5-Minute Dungeons in the near future. We've been enjoying the Betrayal expansion as well, but I've already recommended Betrayal in the past, I think. Also, I have seen Firefly: The Board Game set up, and it is beautiful and looks incredibly fun. It's one of the next on my list to acquire. I also want to try Agricola, Alhambra, and Azul ... all A-games, it seems (heh.)
One of my all time favorite games, Die Speicherstadt, which has been out of print for years has been remade as Jorvik. It's an excellent game for 2-5 people. A really excellent bidding game where you have to try to figure out what other people are thinking as you play.
Also, second votes for Codenames: Duet, Takenoko, and Splendor.
The Man with a Mustache
Dear Kodak ~
Lucky you, I happen to have a Board Game Stats App that I can reference. Also, a willingness to be thorough about this answer. So, in order of recently played, and only games that weren't on either of the other lists (and list referenced another question that listed my entire game closet.) So not all of these are new to me since you last asked (May 2016, yes?) But I have played them all at least once since then, and were not on either of my previous lists.
Pandemic: Legacy I bought this for Yellow for Christmas, but since it requires gaming friends that can come regularly and like Pandemic, this has sat, unopened, until Sunday night. We lost. But it was fun, and it definitely adds a new dimension. You have to be more careful about how you play, because every outbreak has lasting effects (lasting to future games as well). Plus I got to name the Medic "Kal" (bonus points if you know why.) We also put stickers on the board, which seems weird. We also forgot to do something new, but since we lost, we'll be playing that game again, and we'll remember to do it then. So overall, I like it. But maybe ask again later after I've finished the game.
Update: we played it again Monday night. I tore up a card, laughing maniacally. We added a few more stickers, and we named diseases, writing them in marker on the board.
Blue: superfluous smurphilis
Yellow: piña colitis
Black is difficult. We currently have 6 contenders.
Red I don't think we don't get to name. So it's currently The Disease That Must Not be Named.
Splendor This is a great game. Quality components. Pretty pictures. Easy access for entry-level gamers. Good strategy for experienced players.
7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon We love 7 Wonders Duel. It's probably Yellow's favorite 2-player game ever, so he was nervous about an expansion. Why mess with something that is great on its own? But Tally and Spectre lent us the expansion, so we gave it a try. I really liked it. It added a new depth and changed how I played. Yellow is still on the fence. I have assured him that if we own it, we can still play the game without it sometimes. We'll see if we ever buy it.
Century Spice Road* We played this one with Tally M and Spectre at Good Moves Cafe in Provo. I really like it, but I need a few more plays to really cement how much I like it. It's silly, but one of the things I love the most is that the spices come with bowls to sit in. So convenient!
Azul* Again, we played with Tally and Spectre at Good Moves Cafe. I really liked this one, but again, I need more plays to really feel confidence in it. It's based on the Alhambra, which made Yellow love it immediately.
Love Letter This game translates well for 2-4 players. It's not one of those games that is lame if you only have 2 players. It's a fast play, and easy to introduce new players to. It definitely has luck involved, but there is some skill. It requires some straight face, because it's imperative that no one know what card you have.
Hanabi Everyone can see your cards except you. This is cooperative, and you have to help each other know what cards to play, but you can only tell one bit of information (number or color) each turn. There actually isn't a win or lose to this game, which is odd. You're just trying to get as many points as possible. (Which makes having a stats app on my phone fantastic. We know how well we've done against previous games.) It does require memory, so maybe don't play when you're super tired.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle (61 plays!) One of my top games ever! I bought it blind, on recommendations from friends, but I will admit that I was leery that it would be gimmicky, and only sell because of the branding. I was pleasantly surprised. It's a deck-building cooperative game. It does well with the theming of the story, while still being a legit fun game. It's 2-4 players, but the number of players definitely does change the game play. It's awesome with all number of players, but 2 is significantly easier than 4. (We also have the expansion, The Monster Book of Monsters. We are still playing through it. We'll never beat Box 4, I swear. And the Epic game it suggests you play after you finish sounds insane. It adds a lot that I like. I think I would be content to play with or without it. It mixes well, but is not necessary. I suspect Box 4 might actually be easier with 4 players, but I've never tried, so I'm not sure.)
Coup I've only played a few times, but I've won more than half, so it must be decent. It's a card game of deceit. I struggle with deceit games; I'm just a bad liar. But I must be getting better. I've played with both 2 and 4 players successfully.
Takenoko I've only played this one once, with 4 players. It's a cute game. The art is great. The theme is great. (The Emperor got a panda, and it eats a lot! You need to take care of it. Make sure it gets enough to eat, but don't let it eat all the bamboo!)
Monopoly Deal This is an older game, but I finally played it. It is easily scalable for number of players. It's a fast game (about 15 minutes) so you can play multiple times in a row. It takes a lot of elements of traditional Monopoly, but condenses it into a quick card game.
Forbidden Desert This follows from Forbidden Island, but is a little harder. The tiles move around and get covered in sand. It's cooperative, and you choose what people (aka special powers) you play with, which can affect the game. It requires strategic planning.
Clue An old classic, but Dragon Baby gave it to me for Christmas. It adds another character, and the option to play with cards. The cards make it SIGNIFICANTLY easier, which is nice when playing with younger kids, but I wouldn't want to play with them as adults.
Civilization: A New Dawn This was all Yellow's doing to attain this game. He loves the video game. There is another board game that is really long. So when this (relatively) shorter game came out, he wanted it. It was Christmas. He got his wish. I played it, not because I had any desire to, but because I knew it would make him happy. It is complicated. It requires a significant amount of set up. So many little pieces. I loved it. It doesn't get played often, because of the complicated setup and length of game, but everyone we have taught has really liked it. Fair warning: it does take a couple of games before you feel really comfortable with the setup.
Battle Sheep This is an adorable kids' game. It's simple, but surprisingly strategic if you want it to be. It has quality game pieces.
Tally Ho! Another surprisingly fun kids' game. 2 player. You uncover tiles, and move around, trying to capture the other person's tiles, while protecting your own.
Clue Jr I wasn't sure how they could make Clue simple for kids, but they did, and I think it's rather clever. A fun option for kids.
Nefertiti I have only played this once. Maybe twice? I don't remember too much about it, but I do remember liking it and wanting to play it again to cement strategy.
Tumult Royale (Note: I do not own this one) We borrowed this from my sister because it was so much fun. You're nobles, trying to become royalty, while also appeasing the people. You are taking resources on tiles simultaneously. You want a lot of resources, but not the most. It's a balancing game, but you don't know what other people have.
Codenames Pictures A fun team game. I have also played the word version, but I prefer the pictures, as I feel it is more open to interpretation. It's not my favorite game, but Dragon Baby and Yellow both love it, so it gets played.
Roll Through the Ages A friend gave us this one. It's fun, but not as strategic as I hoped. It's one I enjoy playing, but it never really makes the cut of what game I want to play most. It's dice rolling, and trying to build things for points.
Mistborn: House War This game has an interesting dynamic. It's based off the book, Mistborn, but you're playing as nobles, which are the bad guy in the story. You're trying to suppress the skaa (the oppressed good guys in the book) and earn favor with the Lord Ruler (the ultimate bad guy.) You work together to accomplish tasks, but at the end of the day, you want the most favor. You have to work together, but can back out of deals (unless an Obligator is present—then it's binding), and stab people in the back. You end up acting like the nobles actually do in the book. Which is fascinating and horrifying at times. It's not my personality. Also, a twist. If the rebellion succeeds, you win if you have the LEAST favor with the Lord Ruler. So maybe you try to sabotage everyone?
Lost Cities: The Card Game Great 2-player game. (There is also a 4-player board game that is excellent.) I have this game on my phone and constantly have two games going with two of my siblings.
Camel Up* Dragon Baby loves this one. I think I've only played once, but Yellow's family plays it often. It is strategic with a heavy dose of luck. It's like betting on horse races—you can be pretty safe with your bet, but at the end of the day, there's always a chance for it all to get turned on its head.
Racko* Another oldie. It's a fun game that is strategic and has luck. But I would put it more in the genre with Phase Ten than Settlers of Catan.
Dr. Eureka Kids' game that can be owned by adults. You each have three test tubes, each with two balls of three colors inside. A card gets turned over with a picture of the three tubs and balls in a specific order. Everyone races to rearrange their balls in the correct order. Twist: You can't touch the balls or let them touch the floor or table. You just have to pour them back and forth carefully. It adds dexterity to strategy.
Tsuro* This was fun, but I felt like there was far too much luck involved. I didn't love it, but am willing to play it here and there.
Planetarium Another game purchased for Yellow, who loves space. It's a fun idea of revolving through space, collecting elements and building planets. Definitely strategic and fun.
Mascarade Similar to Love Letter, but can be played with more people, and requires more memory and deduction. You have one card, face-down. The cards can get swapped (or not swapped!) under the table, so you may not know what role you currently are. You can use your turn to look, or you can just confidently announce who you are and take your turn as that person. Anyone can call you on it, but if they're wrong, they pay the price instead of you.
Secret Hitler* Yellow would love to own this. He played it often at work during lunch. It requires a larger group. It's basically a glorified "Murder in the Dark". It's a game of group deceit, of which I am terrible.
Power Grid* This comes with a complex backstory that I won't tell here, but basically we thought it was too hard to play, until someone taught us, and then it wasn't. But it is a longer game, so you have to account for that.
Medici* This is a game of gathering resources and trying to have more than anyone else. Which should you buy this turn? But you can't just outright buy, you have to bid. And you're spending your points, so don't bid too high!
Mottainai* I have only played this game in Nicaragua, and honestly, I don't remember much about it except that it took me a few games to get the feel of, and that I ended up really liking it. I also remember playing with two and four people.
Set I hate this game. I am so ridiculously terrible at it. Dragon Baby, on the other hand, is fabulous at it. As is Yellow's sister. And Yellow isn't too terrible himself. So it gets played rather frequently, and my 8-year old destroys me almost every time. You have to be able to think in patterns and see those patterns in different cards, at the same time everyone else is.
Ribbit Kid game. Fairly fun. Not in my top 5, but I'm happy to play it with my kids.
Tides of Time I... honestly don't remember this one. Maybe I should play it again soon?
The Magic Labyrinth* Kids game. It's a labyrinth that you have to get your game piece through. Twist? You can't see the labyrinth. It's set up under the board (and changes every time) and your piece is under the board inside, magneted to another game piece above that you move around. So use your memory to remember where walls are, and where is safe to go, because if you hit a wall, your ball will fall off the magnet and roll to the side, forcing you to start again.
Spaceteam Hilarious game. It started as a party game on the phone. Kickstarter made it a card game. You're in a space ship, solving problems and trying to survive. Everyone has different cards and problems, and you're trying to solve them all at the same time. On a time crunch. And someone else probably has the solution. So everyone is yelling at the same time. Also, it's possible you might lose your thumbs. Or have to switch someone seats or tools partway through the game. And the cards are surprisingly slippery.
Word on the Street You can play with two players or two teams. This is a tug-of-war word game. Your best bet to win is a large knowledge base and large vocabulary, mixed with the ability to spell.
Carcassonne This is a great entry-level game. It has a billion or so expansions (we don't own any) that increase the strategy. It's a fun game that doesn't require a lot of thought.
El Grande* Honestly, I don't remember this one either. I don't know why I put it on here—I've only played it once 2 years ago, and I lost—except it fit my qualifications of "games I've played since the last time you asked that I hadn't listed in previous answers." So, shrug? What a way to end my list.
~ Dragon Lady
*Don't own, but still played.
I. Love. Board. Games.
I haven't played a lot of new games this year unfortunately but what I have played has been quality
- Ethnos (2-6 players)
- Forbidden Island (2-4 players)
- Codenames (2-8 players though I'm not sure how you'd play with only 2 people?)
- 3 Up 3 Down (2-6 players)
- Bob Ross: Art of Chill (2-4 players)
- No Thanks (2-7 players)
- Cash 'N Guns [2nd edition] (4-8 players)
- Lords of Waterdeep (2-4 players, 5th player with expansion)
- Wits & Wagers (3-7 players, but you can pretty easily do teams to involve more people)
- Sushi Go (2-5 players, but there is a party version that gives you 2-8 instead).
- Guillotine (2-5 players)
- Machi Koro (2-4 players)
- Sheriff of Nottingham (3-5 players)
- Lords of Vegas (2-4 players)
- Santorini (2-4 players)
- Scythe (1-5 players)
- Terraforming Mars (1-5 players)
- Near and Far (2-4 players)
- Camel Up (2-8 players)
Dear Kodiac Killer,
- Viticulture is probably my favorite new game. If you like complex and sorta grindy Eurogames, this one's for you. It's by the same people who made Scythe, so that tells you a bit about the design sensibility.
- Codenames and Codenames: Duet are both wonderful. I usually don't like party-style games, but Codenames is easy to pick up and fun to play. Get it and then throw away your copy of Apples to Apples. Everyone will be happier, I promise. Duet (the two-player version) is cooperative and brutally hard, but still very fun.
- Vast: The Crystal Caverns is weird but I love it a lot. It's a totally asymmetric game where each player has a different role that comes with a different play style and win condition. Playable with 1-5 players but you definitely want 3-4 to get all the fun interactions happening.
- Clank! In Space is one that I don't own but is definitely on my list. If you like Dominion or other deckbuilders but feel like they're not "board-gamey" enough, this is the game for you.
- Condettiere—Borrowed this from a friend and fell in love with it, but it's not being produced anymore, so it'll cost over $100 to buy it (used) online. I was very upset about that, so my boyfriend's roommate decided to use his graphic design skills and fancy work resources into building a copy of the game for us.
- Scythe—fun but sooo long. Only try it out if you're ready for 2-3 hours of playing.
- Cover Your Assets—it's the only game I've ever played where my friends and I can scream and yell and call each other names yet all agree it's our favorite. Unlike Monopoly, the capitalism-based game won't create lifelong grudges.
- Pandemic—It's all of the people playing to save the world. Good communication is necessary.
- 7 Wonders— I didn't pay attention to the rules and had no clue what I was doing, but I won, so it's a great game.
- I'll also echo Olympus' suggestion of Carcassone!
- The stupid stupid Oregon Trail card game. I've never gotten so angry over a game before. It is legitimately impossible to win and will tear your friendships apart.
- Terror in Meeple City: played this with two other couples and it was fun to interact with the parts of the board game together...kind of reminds me of Mouse Trap that way
- Century Golem: I've never played Spice Road but the Golem version is really pretty too. Easy to learn.
- Sushi Go: fast-playing game with a simple concept and adorable sushi art
- Red7: very simple rules but makes you think
- Dead of Winter: cooperative zombie-apocalypse survival game
- Fluxx: quick silly game, good for when you're waiting for everyone to be ready to start a longer game
Oregon Trail is objectively terrible. I'm not even sure if it's possible to make it through the entire game with two players without both of you getting dysentery'd, and that doesn't even take into account all the other ways to die. That said, the Hunt For Food expansion actually works very well as a standalone game. Every once in a while the random tile layout will doom you to inevitable failure, but for the most part it's both enjoyable and winnable. Easily worth the $7 my wife and I spent on it.
Dear Ko the Face Stealer,
- CrossTalk: a really good party game. You need 4 people and it's best with at least 6.
- Captain Sonar: another good party game. You can do as few as 4 people but it's best with 8.
- Sushi Go: Good for 2-5. Gets a little predictable though.
- Red7: Just played this once, but it was pretty fun. Apparently 2-4 players.
- Splendor: 2-4 players. Only played once. It was fun, but I suspect it might get predictable.
- Santorini: 2 players. Can play 4 with teams. Can get predictable but there's an easy way to shake it up.
- Terror in Meeple City: Only played once, but it was super fun. You're a monster and have to physically flick or blow figures across the board.
Vienna and I played Betrayal at House on the Hill with some friends a few months ago and I thought it was pretty fun. I surprised myself by how much I was getting into it; it felt a little creepy exploring the basement, not knowing what was coming next. You have to have at least three to play, though.
We also got a game called King of Tokyo for our wedding that seems promising. Technically it says you can play it with two people, but we tried that on our honeymoon and it wasn't that much fun. We want to try it out with more friends and see how it goes; we think it should be good because it has a lot of awards.
Concept is a new one to me. Draw a card to get the word or phrase you want others to guess. Put tokens on the symbols on the board that correspond to several meanings. Mildly addictive.
I also recently got the Betrayal expansion, but haven't had a chance to play it yet. Come down to AZ and let's party.
I feel pretty obligated to answer this, considering I'm the president of the BYU board game club. However, everyone else has really already posted all the ones I've played recently. I've really enjoyed 7 Wonders, Betrayal, Secret Hitler, and pretty much any bluffing game even though I'm pretty bad at it. And it's not a board game, but all of the Jackbox games like Quiplash are really fun, and I've really enjoyed playing them with my friends recently.
Keep it real,
I truly hate most board games, but I do own three that I really love.
1. Codenames. A lot of other writers have recommended it, but it's so good!
2. Exploding Kittens. Technically this is a card game, but it's fun anyways.
3. Awkward Family Photos. Yes, it's based off the website, but you get to answer free-form prompts about the photos, and it's a blast and a half. Nobody ever wants to try it when I say we should play, but once they do they're hooked.