Board Game Player Profile – Updated (Topic Discussion)

The last time I checked my board game player profile on Quantic Foundry was back in October 2019, so just over six months ago. I must say, I knew there would be some changes, because I was playing more types of games and with different groups of people, but I didn’t quite expect the types of changes there were. So let’s delve into the results from my most recent survey.

Let’s start with the graph itself – see left. The red line shows the latest results, the blue line the results from October of last year.

There are three items that really stand out – at least for me.

The biggest change is the immersion factor. I clearly prefer games that immerse me in another world and take me away from the day-to-day thoughts and worries. Maybe it’s not surprising, given the current global situation, but I think there is more to it. I always loved theme in games and also always put a lot of value on a game’s artwork, because I’m a very visual person, and a game with a strong theme and beautiful artwork is simply going to be more immersive. The graph does show that my appreciation for aesthetics has gone up, so this is another clue.

I have started to enjoy the immersive experience a lot more again in the last six month, while prior to that I was playing many games more with the aim of being able to review them rather than with the aim of having a fun experience. It used to be all about having another weekly blog article ready in time, but luckily that’s changed over the last six months.

The second big change is discovery, which has gone down since the last survey – which is surprising to me, given that the importance of immersion has gone. I would have expected to enjoy games more, if they send you on a journey of discovery and immerse you in a different world. Yet, it turns out that I want to be immersed, but am not so concerned about discovering anything along the way.

I suppose it makes sense when I think about the sort of games that I have been playing: Deep Sea AdventureAssembly, Clans of CaledoniaUnderleague and Pandemic. They all have a very strong theme, their mechanisms really force you to focus, except maybe Deep Sea Adventure, the theme allows you to easily immerse yourself in the game and many of them also have really beautiful artwork or wonderful components.
Except for Deep Sea Adventure maybe, none of them are exploration games. In fact, many of them are open-information games, meaning everything is right there in front of you, without any need of any discovery of any kind.
The last big change is the increase of social manipulation, which is very surprising when you look at how co-operation has remained unchanged. I suppose, conflict has also gone up in the last six months, so there is some level of correlation. Personally, I’d say manipulation is too strong a word, but I definitely enjoy games where you influence other players. I’m specifically thinking about bluffing and push-your-luck games.

For me, Underleague is one of those games where you have to bluff and hope that other players don’t know what you’re planning to do. You want to make them believe one thing, when you’re actually about to do another – or at least divert attention from yourself to other players. I also recently played QE, which is another classic bluffing game.

In push-your-luck games, such as Deep Sea Adventure, you are trying to psych out others and hope that you still get the most treasure while making sure nobody runs down the oxygen too quickly and make your risky dive end in death – and the loss of the round.

Nothing else has changed really, at least not a lot. Strategy has gone up slightly, but co-operation has remained unchanged.

I do always find it interesting to see how my profile changes over time. You can see all my previous results by following the links below – and you can complete the survey for yourself for free, again just follow the links below.
If you enjoyed this article, please hit the like button below and subscribe to my blog. It would help me a great deal. It would be even better if you also told your friends about me.

Audio Version

Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (
Music: Positive Determination by Purple Planet Music (


Top 5 Board Games of 2020 (Saturday Review)

As is customary at the end of a calendar year, it’s time for my top 5 board games of this, rather odd, year and for me to announce the winner of the Top Table Award 2020.

Let me say that this year, I happily allowed games into the top 5 list that were published before 2020, as long as these games were new to me this year.

There is a clear winner for me, not just based on the number of plays, the amount of enjoyment the game brought and the nostalgia factor that the game has for me, but because this game took a well-established genre and took it to the next step, making it more accessible to a wider range of people.

However, let me not spoil it for you, but start at number 5 and work my way to the top slot.

#5 – Tapestry

Release Date: 2019Players: 1-5
Designer: Jamey StegmaierLength:  90-120 minutes
Artist: Andrew Bosley, Rom BrownAge: 12+
Publisher: Stonemaier GamesComplexity: 3.0 / 5

No, it’s not a civilization builder in the traditional sense, but thematically you do see your people live through generations and discover new technologies, explore new parts of the world and spread across the land. However, those discoveries can be quite random, allowing for your civilization to still have not developed a written language, but already use electricity. So don’t go into Tapestry expecting to recreate an alternative history of a fictional race that makes logical sense, but instead just enjoy the journey and accept that winning can be down, at least in some part, to the luck of the draw or the luck of your dice rolls.

As you will see in my review, I do really enjoy the game and have played it now many times and it’s really only once you have played it a dozen or so times that it clicks a bit more and that imbalances of some of the factions become more obvious, even though I still don’t think all of them are as over- or underpowered as some might say.

#4 – Jaws

Release Date: 2019Players: 2-4
Designer: Prospero HallLength: 60-75 minutes
Artist: n/aAge: 12+
Publisher: RavensburgerComplexity: 2.0 / 5

Remakes of classic films aren’t always better than the original. In fact, they’re often worse. Board game adaptions of great IPs have also often failed to deliver, focussing on visual appeal and setting rather than gameplay. However, Jaws has achieved where others have failed – and then some. As my review shows, here is a game that’s partly co-operative, partly competitive, as one player takes on the role of the man-eating great white shark, while the others take on the roles of the human team trying to put an end to the animal’s killing-frenzy. Mixing hidden movement of the shark with open discussion of the human characters and intentionally dividing the game into two acts, create an intense game where nobody quite knows who is having the upper hand.

#3 – Dune

Release Date: 2019Players: 2-6
Designer: Bill Eberle, Jack Kittredge, Peter OlotkaLength:  60-120 minutes
Artist: Ilya BaranovskyAge: 14+
Publisher: Gale Force NineComplexity: 4.0 / 5

A great story as the backdrop for a board game is always a good start. Add to that intrigue, asymmetrical player powers, alliances and betrayal, area control, combat and a lot more, then you end up with an amazing game that you want to play again and again, but also want to savour and enjoy – like a fine wine, even though I’m not a huge fan of wine. Dune does it all amazingly well. My review will tell you more, but if you know the books or have seen the film, or if you’re eagerly awaiting the remake of the original film, and you like board games with direct player interaction, a large map to keep an eye on and lots of surprises and constantly changing alliances, just like the sand dunes on the planet Arrakis, then this game will be for you.

#2 – Back to the Future: Dice Through Time

Release Date: 2020Players: 2-4
Designer: Chris Leder, Ken Franklin, Kevin RodgersLength: 45-60 minutes
Artist: Matt Taylor, Pilot, Sam DawsonAge: 10+
Publisher: RavensburgerComplexity: 2.0 / 5

Co-operative games aren’t for everyone, I know, and often suffer from the alpha-player syndrome, but when a game taps into the Back to the Future films and adds an interesting twist to dice-rolling and dice-placement, then I think, you stand a good chance to make a great game – and Back to the Future: Dice Through Time is a great game – and my review confirms this.

No, the game doesn’t do anything to prevent one player from taking over everything, and yes, you do have to have spare brain capacity to think through the best way to use the dice results everyone has got to allow you to achieve the optimum result as a team, but it’s one of those games where, at first, you can’t believe that it’s ever possible to win. Then you play it a few more times, you learn new tricks and you get closer and closer to winning, but never quite get there, until you finally do and it feels so great – and if you’re a Back to the Future fan, then it feels even more amazing.

#1 and Winner of the Top Table Award 2020 – The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

Release Date: 2019Players: 2-5
Designer: Thomas SingLength: 15-30 minutes
Artist: Marco ArmbrusterAge: 10+
Publisher: KosmosComplexity: 2.0 / 5
Top Table Award 2020 - Tabletop Games Blog

If you have read my review of the game, you will know how much I love this game and why. For one, I grew up with trick-taking games, so seeing this ancient genre of games being reinvigorated by a new contender, which turns trick-taking into a fully co-operative idea, is amazing. It gets even better when the game makes trick-taking much more accessible to people, so it’s easier to teach and easier to learn. Here is a game that ends up being played again and again and again, several times an evening, every evening a week, for several weeks and you just can’t stop. The pinnacle of any game, for me at least, is if it’s something my wife and I equally enjoy playing – and this one is all of that.

So Kosmos has done an amazing job with The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine and very much deserves to win the Top Table Award 2020. Congratulations!

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Transparency Facts

I feel that this review reflects my own, independent and honest opinion, but the facts below allow you to decide whether you think that I was influenced in any way.

  • I was sent a free review copy of Tapestry by the publisher, but had to pay for postage from the US to the UK.
  • I was sent a review copy of Jaws and Back to the Future: Dice Through Time by the publisher.
  • A friend of mine owns a copy of Dune.
  • I bought and paid for The Crew myself.
  • At the time of writing, neither the designers, nor the publisher, nor anyone linked to the game supported me financially or by payment in kind.

Audio Version

Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (
Music: Superhero Fanfare by Freesound (

Board Game Player Profile – Update (Topic Discussion)

The last time I checked my board game player profile on Quantic Foundry was back in April 2020, so nearly a year ago. So I thought, it’s time to run through the questions again and see if much has changed. You can check yours as well. Just follow the links at the bottom of this article.

Let’s start with the graph itself:

One thing that sticks out immediately to me is that discovery and aesthetics have gone just right up, to 83%. Back in April 2020, discovery was at around 40% and aesthetics at around 45%. So it’s clear that I want to be much more drawn into the game. I prefer games that allow me to explore and that look amazing.

I think that’s actually very true. I’ve always liked the look of games, but that’s become a stronger influence for me now. Unsurprisingly, I launched the podcast series Let me illustrate where I feature a different board game artist every two weeks. It really confirms that I want games to look great.

To back up that I want to be drawn into games more these days, immersion has gone up from around 35% to nearly 75% now. That’s over double, showing how much I want to play a game that takes me away into its own world and allows me to focus my thoughts on things other than the day-to-day worries.

I guess, it’s understandable given the current situation, where we can’t go out or meet friends, but are stuck at home and are worried about our health, our jobs and our families and friends – and probably a lot more. Games have clearly become an even bigger escape for me now.

Social fun has also gone up, from around 10% in April 2020 to nearly 30% now. However, it still seems rather low. I do love the social aspects of games, whether I’m playing with family or friends. I like the chat, the banter around the table and just “being” with other people, even if it’s virtually at the moment when playing with friends. I would have expected the value be at maybe around 80%, but there we are.

Conflict has gone down slightly, from around 50% to 40%. So I still like conflict in games, but not quite as much as I did before. That’s about right, because I’m not a player who likes to be mean to other players, but I enjoy games with a good amount of player interaction.

Co-operation has remained the same. Depending on who I play with, I do like co-operative games, but I guess in general I prefer competitive games.

So, yes, that’s my latest board game player profile. I do always find it interesting to see how my profile changes over time. You can see all my previous results by following the links below – and you can complete the survey for yourself for free, again just follow the links below.

Audio Version

Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (


Board game trailers (Topic Discussion)

We’re used to seeing epic movie-style trailers for video games. They feel like million-pound productions that were directed by a famous Hollywood director with a cast of blockbuster actors. Of course, these are all animated sequences, often showing in-game footage, which makes sense, because modern 3D video games look very realistic and are often set in an epic conflict of some sort. Board games are a bit different though, but because CGI and 3D animation have become so highly accessible these days, many crowdfunding campaigns and some board game marketing campaigns feature these amazing looking videos.

The first and, at least to me, most impressive board game trailer is for the collectable card game Magic: The Gathering. In fact, there are several trailers for this game, which is no surprise when you think about the behemoth that is Wizards of the Coast that sits behind this product – and behind it sits Hasbro, of course. So the budget isn’t particularly tight for Magic‘s marketing team I would have thought. However, I find the animation, music, short story and everything else that has gone into producing these trailers still amazing and the resulting videos are some of my favourites.

If you have a look through Kickstarter campaigns in our hobby, you will find many trailers at the top of the page that aren’t merely an overview of the gameplay, but are almost Hollywood style short films.

Shasn: Azadi

The video for Shasn: Azadi is at the top of my list here. Its production quality is outstanding. The script, the set and the acting are really powerful and you just can’t look away. After the introduction, the video is more like a traditional campaign trailer, outlining the gameplay and showing 3D rendered versions of the components of the game. However, even that part is amazing, using cartoon-style animations and a kicking soundtrack to keep your attention.

It gets even better, because this is actually the second game in the Shasn series. The trailer for the first is even more like a movie trailer. The production quality for this is even higher and there is a much longer introduction that’s like a short film, before it switches and shows you the game itself. It’s absolutely amazing. It surprises me that these two games didn’t get more attention.

Thunder Road: Vendetta

Thunder Road: Vendetta, which was cancelled, has a cartoon-style animation which is wonderful and very quickly gives you an idea of what the game is about. Unsettled‘s campaign video explains the game by taking the in-game events into the real world. The players become the characters in the game and as you watch the video, you immediately understand what this game is about as the players re-enact what they encounter in the game. It’s like watching a short play in a theatre.

Solar Sphere

Solar Sphere‘s trailer is more like a traditional campaign video, giving you an outline of the setting and background story in a cinematic-style introduction, followed by an overview of the game itself. The video for Lunar Base is also a mix of short film and game overview, but rather than doing the usual overhead view of the game board and components, the characters in the film play the game as part of the storyline. It’s a lovely little twist and makes the video a lot more enjoyable to watch. No wonder the game did so well.

Circadians: Chaos Order

Even though the campaign video for Circadians: Chaos Order is more of a slideshow than a short film, it still feels like a movie trailer. The music, the narrator’s voice and the amazing art are epic and really draw you into the world the game is set in.

It’s great to see so much creativity and effort being put into these videos. The board game hobby has come on in leaps and bounds and not only are the games themselves becoming better and better, but their marketing is levelling up too. Of course, seeing more glitzy and high production quality videos is also a reflection of the hype that some games in our hobby receive. A great video alone doesn’t guarantee a great game, just like high-quality components don’t. Yet, when everything comes together in the right way, it’s amazing to see and I’m glad that our hobby is going in the direction it is going.

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Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (

Board Games for Food – Tabletop Games Blog

The board game raffle in aid of The Trussell Trust, which supports a UK-wide network of food banks, providing emergency food and support to people locked in poverty in the UK, has now ended.

We sold 83 tickets, which means £373.50 (that’s after‘s 10% commission on each ticket sale) will be donated to the charity, once the winners have confirmed receipt of their winnings. Winners are being contacted now and asked for their postal address, so that we can arrange the prizes to be sent out. I will also ask winners, if they are happy for their names to be listed here, so we can list them all on this page.

5 Family Christmas Board Games (Saturday Review)

Yes, Christmas is just around the corner, so it’s time for me to put together lists of games you might want to get out over the holidays and play. I thought I’d start with a list of five games that you can play with all the family. These games are easy to teach and learn and quite quick to play. Most of them can be played up to four players, so if you have a large family gathering, you might need to split into smaller groups. I hope you find this list useful.

The Split

Release Date: 2022Players: 2-6
Designer: Michael FoxLength: 15-30 minutes
Artist: Rain WattAge: 10+
Publisher: Wayfinder GamesComplexity: 1.5 / 5

The Split by Michael Fox from Wayfinder Games is a competitive game where players are a gang of criminals who have pulled off the heist of the century. Now it’s time to split up the loot. Rather than giving everyone an equal share or splitting the spoils based on how much work everyone put into heist, you decide to play several rounds of Blackjack. After all, that way everyone can show once more how great they are at bluffing and cheating and make off with the lion share, leaving the rest of the gang with scraps.

(Photo courtesy of Wayfinder Games)
(Photo courtesy of Wayfinder Games)

As this game goes up to 6 players, it’s ideal for a larger family gathering. Maybe it’s not quite the right game for a younger audience, but with a little help from a grown-up, everyone should be able to take part. After all, most people will know how Blackjack works and if they don’t, it’s very quick to explain: get as close to 21 as possible, without going over.

The game itself consists of dealing out a number of loot cards, then playing a round of Blackjack and finishing it off with playing cheat cards, if you have any, that can adjust your result or cause havoc at the table when you do a table flip, where you swap your hand of cards with another player. So even when you think your Blackjack hand is safe, you may get a nasty surprise from one of the other players.

The whole game is over when the loot has been divvied up, at which point you work out the value of your loot, which consists of either fixed value items or is a matter of set collection, depending on the type of loot. There is one last twist before you decide who the winner is, because you end up losing everything if you didn’t manage to win a disguise in one of the rounds of Blackjack.

The Split will lead to lots of laughter, moments of intense poker faces and you soon want to play it again – and again.

Mint Tin Mini Skulduggery

Release Date: 2018Players: 1-4
Designer: Kate Beckett, David René MillerLength:  15-30 minutes
Artist: David René MillerAge: 8+
Publisher: subQuarkComplexity: 1.0 / 5

Mint Tin Mini Skulduggery by Kate Beckett and David René Miller from subQuark is the perfect family game. Not only is it really easy to teach and learn and very quick to play, it also comes in a mini mint tin, which means you can literally put it in your coat pocket or your handbag. What’s even better, pretty much anyone can play this game, as long as they can read dice.

It is a competitive game, but it is purely based on dice rolls, so it’s very heavy on the luck element, which really levels the playing field and allows everyone, irrespective of their experience with board games, to play this game and be in with an equal chance of winning.

You start the game by rolling a single six-sided dice to decide the so-called “spirit number”. Then players take turns rolling three dice. If at least one of the results of a single dice matches the spirit number, then you get skulls: one if one dice matches, five skulls for two matching dice and ten skulls for three matching results. The first player to get to exactly 15 points, without going over, wins.

There are a handful of other things, such as a crystal skull that allows you to block a dice result, as well as the Skulduggery coin which comes into play at certain times and can force all players to pass their skulls to the next player in clockwise order. These add a small element of tactics, but nothing too difficult.

The game is really gorgeous. The tin is hand embossed, the metal coin is custom to the game and the skulls are small plastic beads that look wonderful. The dice are also lovely and the whole game is really tactile. A great game for the whole family – or you can play it solo if everyone is taking a nap after the big Christmas dinner.


Release Date: 2015Players: 2-4
Designer: Rüdiger DornLength: 30-45 minutes
Artist: Claus StephanAge: 8+
Publisher: HABAComplexity: 1.5 / 5

I’ve played Karuba by Rüdiger Dorn from HABA only online, so far. I’m still looking for a physical copy of this wonderful family game. It’s another competitive game that’s really quick to teach, learn and play. It’s also very multiplayer solitaire, which means there is basically no player interaction.

Every player has their own jungle board and four explorers with four matching temples. Each of the four explorers has a different colour, which matches the temple that they’re trying to reach. Your task is to lay paths through the jungle that the explorers can walk along to reach their destination. Every round, a new tile is selected and every player finds that tile in their stack and then places it into their jungle. Alternatively, they can discard the tile and move one of their explorers a certain number of steps along the paths.

The first player to reach a temple of a given colour will get a certain number of points, the second player to reach their temple of the same colour will get fewer points and so on. There are also gold and silver coins along the way that explorers can pick up and that are also worth points. Once all tiles have been drawn, the game ends and the player with the most points wins.

It’s the ideal game that everyone can play. A bit of spatial awareness will be beneficial, just like it is in Carcassonne for example, but other than that, it doesn’t matter your age, board game experience or much else. It’s ideal for the whole family and one of those games that will quickly become very addictive.

Colt Express

Release Date: 2014Players: 2-6
Designer: Christophe RaimbaultLength: 30-45 minutes
Artist: Ian Parovel, Jordi ValbuenaAge: 10+
Publisher: LudonauteComplexity: 1.0 / 5

Colt Express by Christophe Raimbault from Ludonaute is a so-called programming game. It’s another game I’ve only played digitally so far, but a physical copy is on its way to me and I can’t wait to play this over Christmas with the whole family. It’s another game that can be played with up to 6 players, which makes it a lot more versatile in a family Christmas setting.

(Image courtesy of Ludonaute)
(Image courtesy of Ludonaute)

The game also benefits from its visual appeal. It comes with a 3D cardboard train into which you place your wooden bandit meeples. As you take your turns and move through the train or go between the roof and the inside of a carriage, your meeple moves accordingly, so you can immediately see where everyone is. I think it will really encourage people to the table and see what this game is all about.

In the game, you’re basically a bandit, trying to rob the train and get away with as much loot as possible. The problem is, you’re not the only bandit. The other players are also bandits and there is even a marshall who is trying to stop all of you. So you’ll be punching each other, having shoot-outs and trying to steer the marshall to your competitors, so that you come out on top.

The thing is, you don’t just take turns to move your meeple. Instead, you take turns playing action cards, which represent things like moving into the next carriage, picking up loot, moving to the roof, punching or shooting – or moving the marshall. Each game round, players take turns playing a single card and going around the table a certain number of times. Depending on the round, players might play cards face-up, face-down or a combination of both.

Once the round is over, the played cards are then resolved one by one. So, effectively, you program your moves in advance and you have to second-guess what other players are going to do, as well as keep in your head where in the train you are, so that you don’t punch into thin air or walk into the arms of the marshall.

As you play your cards, you think you’ve got it all planned out. So when the cards are resolved later and things don’t quite go your way or rather, everything goes wrong, you realize it’s not quite as easy as it seemed. Most of the time it’s just funny to watch your meeple try to punch another player, when they have already moved out of the way or if you think you’ve moved onto the roof, so you can avoid the marshall, but in reality, you end up inside the carriage and march straight into the marshall’s open arms.

It’s the sort of game that you mustn’t take too seriously or you end up getting frustrated very quickly. I know that programming games aren’t for everyone, but I would hope over the holidays, everyone is a bit more relaxed and happy to take Colt Express in the spirit it is meant to be played.

Kombo Klash

Release Date: 2021Players: 2-4 Players
Designer: “Nero” Ondrej SovaLength: 15-30 minutes
Artist: Jake ParkerAge: 8+
Publisher: Hub GamesComplexity: 1.5 / 5

Kombo Klash by “Nero” Ondrej Sova from Hub Games is Memory on steroids – sort of. What’s certain is that, if you have a good memory, you will have an advantage. It’s also clear that people who love big combos will love this game. After all, the clue is in the title.

It’s another competitive tile-laying game, where you try to place one of your tiles so that it’s next to at least two other tiles of the same colour. When that happens, you can flip the tiles over and score points. The tiles also have specific effects, allowing you to flip tiles back face-up, so you can use them for a new chain or to move tiles one space along, again maybe allowing you to create a chain of three tiles. It’s all very tactical, but if you’re really good, you will create chain reactions and score a huge amount of points on your turn.

Kombo Klash is probably a little bit harder to explain than the other games in this list, but it’s still really easy to grasp whatever your age or board game experience. It’s basically a mix of Dominoes and Memory with some extra bits thrown in. So it shouldn’t be too difficult to learn and you should get into the swing of things quite quickly.

The game ends when someone reaches a certain amount of points, depending on the length of game you want to play. So you can start with a shorter game and once everyone is familiar with how it all works, you can decide to play a longer game and make things more interesting.

Well, that’s my list of five family Christmas games. I hope I have been able to give you some options to try out over the holidays or at least, I have inspired you to bring a game or two to your family Christmas get together. Whatever you do,

5 Medium Weight Christmas Board Games (Saturday Review)

Continuing with my list of 5 board games for Christmas, this week I talk about medium weight games. These games are for those days over the holidays, when the weather is horrible outside and you want to be inside, all cozy and warm, maybe with a mug of hot chocolate and spend around an hour playing a board game with either your immediate family and/or with friends. The games on this list will take a little longer to teach and learn and playing time will be around the 1 hour mark, maybe a little longer. However, they’re not too difficult or complex to make your brain hurt. They’re at just the right level to keep you occupied before you all settle down in front of the TV to watch a film together.


Release Date: 2014Players: 2-4
Designer: Marc AndréLength: 30-45 minutes
Artist: Pascal QuidaultAge: 10+
Publisher: Space CowboysComplexity: 2.0 / 5

I want to start this list with Splendor by Marc André from Space Cowboys, because it’s probably the lightest of the games here. It’s a wonderful little card game that doesn’t actually take very long to explain, but it’ll take a little while to understand. Playing time is under an hour, which is great, because you can play it a couple of times, if you like or it could be the game that starts the games afternoon, if you have more time.

In the game, you collect gem tokens that are the currency in the game and allow you to buy cards, which basically offer you discounts for a certain type of gem on future purchases. So you might pay two rubies and a diamond to buy a card that gives you a one sapphire discount on your next purchase, meaning if a card requires two sapphires for example, you only need to have one sapphire gem token to pay for it. It sounds more complicated than it is and as soon as you have taken a few turns, it becomes clear what you’re trying to do.

More expensive cards not only give you the gem discount, but they also score you points. There is also a set collection element and when you have a specific combination of cards, you can claim a bonus token that also gives you points. The game end is triggered when a player reaches or goes above 15 points, at which point the round is finished, so that every player will have had the same number of turns in the game. That also means it is possible to overtake the player who reached the 15 points first, because you only win when you have the most points, not if you’re the first to reach 15 points.

Splendor is such a lovely little game and a bit of a brain puzzle that will keep you focussed for just under an hour or so, while also being so addictive that you will want to play it again and again and again.


Release Date: 2019Players: 1-5
Designer: Elizabeth HargraveLength:  45-90 minutes
Artist: Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, Natalia Rojas, Beth SobelAge: 10+
Publisher: Stonemaier GamesComplexity: 2.5 / 5

If you haven’t realized it yet, I love Wingspan by Elizabeth Hargrave from Stonemaier Games. It is one of my all-time favourite games. It won the Tabletop Games Blog Top Table Award in 2019 and it has already had two wonderful expansions, so if you also end up loving this game, there is a lot of extra bits that you can add to keep this game fresh and exciting.

However, even without the expansions, Wingspan offers a lot of gameplay to keep you going for quite a while. It is a so-called engine-building game, because you buy cards and add them to one of three different rows in your tableau that make that row’s actions more powerful, while some of the cards themselves also provide extra actions. So the game starts quite sedately, but at the end, it really ramps up and you do feel like you’ve got an amazing engine running.

The game is all about birds, as you may have guessed from the title, and comes with a huge deck of cards, each one representing a different bird and each one illustrated beautifully by either Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo or Natalia Rojas. That in itself is amazing and provides a huge amount of variety and things to discover, meaning that every game will feel slightly different.

Additionally, all of the components in Wingspan are of great quality, from the thick player boards, to the thick card stock with linen finish, to the luxuries paper used for the rulebook, to the 3D cardboard dice tower and tray, to the wonderful plastic 3D eggs. The game just looks amazing on the table and is a joy to play.

There is a good balance of luck and strategy in Wingspan, which leads to every game being really quite close in points. You can also play it in two modes: very competitive or more friendly. Either way, it is a competitive game, but whether you win or lose, you tend to not really care. You’re more absorbed in getting the right birds into your tableau and building an efficient engine.

Genotype: A Mendelian Genetics Game

Release Date: 2021Players: 1-5
Designer: John Coveyou, Paul Salomon, Ian ZangLength: 45-90 minutes
Artist: Tomasz Bogusz, Amelia SalesAge: 12+
Publisher: Genius GamesComplexity: 2.0 / 5

If you like Wingspan, then you’ll probably also like Genotype by John Coveyou, Paul Salomon and Ian Zang from Genius Games. The game is about growing sweetpea plants and checking them for their intrinsic characteristics, basically their genes. It goes back to Gregor Mendel‘s research into how plants seem to exhibit characteristics that we can see, but also have something internal that defines how these visible characteristics are passed onto the next generation. He was one of the first to research what we now know as chromosomes and genes.

Genotype is mostly an action-selection game, where you place your trowels, your workers, onto different action spaces, thereby blocking other players from going there, so that you can get money, spend time on researching your plants, getting more plants and other things. There is also a dice rolling element, which decides what traits you are able to identify, which means you’re not always guaranteed to find the chromosomes you were hoping to find. There is also a small tableau-building element, because you can hire people to help you with your work.

Ultimately though, Genotype is basically about fulfilling contracts, in the form of the different characteristics or traits that you want to identify in the plants that you grow. The more difficult contracts will have more traits for you to find, but they also give you more points.

In the game, you will never be able to do everything and you’re constantly wishing you had more trowels to do what you want to do. So you have to make tough decisions and really focus on what is actually a priority now and what can wait until later.

The components in Genotype Collector’s Edition are wonderful, as you will be able to see from my unboxing video. It’s a pleasure to play and even though it does feel tough and is not quite as satisfying as building your engine in Wingspan, it’s still very addictive, because you just want to play one more round or just one more game, so you can do it better next time.

Small Railroad Empires

Release Date: 2021Players: 1-4
Designer: Milan TasevskiLength: 30-60 minutes
Artist: Jose David Lanza Cebrian, Milan TasevskiAge: 12+
Publisher: Archona GamesComplexity: 2.0 / 5

I would describe Small Railroad Empires by Milan Tasevski from Archona Games as Ticket to Ride meets pick-up-and-deliver. That description doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s definitely a train game and your task is to connect factories to cities and deliver goods to score points. To do so, you need to pay money to lay track and the more difficult the terrain, the more it costs, but the more rewards it can bring. You may have to take loans to pay for things, but if you’re the first to deliver to a city, you’ll be rewarded and score points at the same time.

(Photo courtesy of Archona Games)
(Photo courtesy of Archona Games)

The game comes with a modular board, so you can set it up in a number of different ways to give you a new challenge, if you happen to get bored with a particular map layout. There are also a couple of mini-expansions in the box that create even more variety and if you happen to be on your own, you can also play it solo.

I had the pleasure to play Small Railroad Empires with the designer online before its crowdfunding campaign and I loved it a lot even then. I’ve played it in physical form since with friends and it’s the sort of game that’s relatively easy to teach and learn, but the depth comes with the decisions you have to make and the competition you have with other players to reach certain cities before them or to be the first to fulfil awards, so that you get the most points.

It’s pretty quick to set up as well and will keep you thinking just enough, because even though turns are pretty simple, deciding where to lay track and which awards to go for isn’t always straightforward, making Small Railroad Empires the ideal game to play over the holidays with your family or friends.

Sleeping Gods

Release Date: 2021Players: 1-4 Players
Designer: Ryan LaukatLength: 60-1200 minutes
Artist: Ryan LaukatAge: 12+
Publisher: Red Raven GamesComplexity: 2.5 / 5

Don’t be put off by the length of this game. Sleeping Gods by Ryan Laukat from Red Raven Games can be played for as long as you like. It’s got a great save mechanism that allows you to stop after a player has finished their turn and set it all up again pretty quickly as well. So you can play for half an hour or six hours. In fact, once you get engrossed in the beautiful world that Sleeping Gods is set in, time will go by so quickly that you will hardly realize that the sun has set and it’s well past your bedtime.

It’s the only co-operative game in my list and it’s probably one of the few co-operative games I’ve played where you’re not constantly trying to put out fires – except, that you are in a way. Let me explain. In Sleeping Gods, you are a bunch of travellers who were together on the Manticore, a steamship, in the middle of the ocean when you, ship and all, were mysteriously transported into this other world, which you’re now trying to explore, in the hope that you will find your way back home.

Players take over the role of one or two different characters, depending on player count. There is also a shared character, the ship’s captain, who a player controls when it’s their turn. You’re travelling on a map that’s in a ringbound book, that you will recognize from Near and Far, if you have played that game. You start on a specific page and as you move around the world, you turn to a different page and put your ship there. Locations are marked on this map, which reference text sections in the storybook. Each location will have a brief introductory paragraph and then you have to make a choice and potentially pass a skill check. Depending on your choices and whether you pass the tests, you will then receive rewards or suffer penalties.

There are also keyword cards, which are basically the memory of the game. So when you visit certain locations, what you find there will change. For example, if there was

5 Heavy Christmas Board Games (Saturday Review)

Most of us will have a lot of spare time over the holidays and if we have board game enthusiasts among the family, this is the perfect time to set up and play some heavy games. We might also have more time to meet up with our games group and again, now is the time to get those heavy games to the table that we might not feel like playing of an evening after a busy day at work. So, here are 5 heavy board games I think you should play over the holidays.

Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile

Release Date: 2021Players: 1-6
Designer: Cole WehrleLength: 45-120 minutes
Artist: Kyle FerrinAge: 10+
Publisher: Leder GamesComplexity: 4.0 / 5

Yes, Oath by Cole Wehrle from Leder Games is definitely a heavy game. Not only is the playing time on the longer end, but the rules overhead is a lot, even though once you get into it, none of the rules are actually that difficult. I think it’s the edge cases that make it a bit more complicated. The real depth in Oath comes from the player interaction though and the way it’s not so much about winning the game, but more about stopping other players from winning. It’s really clever in that respect and pretty much in every game after round 4, players will start forming short-term pacts to stop another player’s imminent victory, only to turn on each other once that’s been dealt with.

So there is a lot of direct player-interaction in the game, but it doesn’t really feel personal in any way, because it’s usually very clear who will win on their next turn. So when the other players work together to stop them, it is just logical. There is no point trying to do anything else, because if another player wins, the game ends. It’s not like you can overtake them and win before them. It’s really black and white and leads to wonderful rounds where players discuss their options and the best way forward, with half an eye on how they will come out of the situation afterwards.

Ultimately though, Oath is really more of a story-telling game than anything else. It’s as close to an RPG that doesn’t need a GM in board game form as you can get. It’s also really quite basic in its set up. A handful of site cards and a stack of denizen cards create detailed worlds that change as play progresses. They weave lovely stories and it almost doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, because you end up being so engrossed in the story the players create as they take their turns.

The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous as well and they underline the idea of the story-telling. Add to that the descriptions on every card that explain their effects and you can’t avoid imagining what it all means in the world of Oath. It’s really quite magical and very fitting for the festive season.


Release Date: 2021Players: 2-4
Designer: Bernd ScholzLength:  60-180 minutes
Artist: Harald LieskeAge: 12+
Publisher: SpielworxxComplexity: 3.0 / 5

What made me want to have a copy of Tharos by Bernd Scholz from Spielworxx was the dice bag building element, and of course, the fact that this is a Spielworxx game. There is a huge amount of luck in this game, which you can’t control very much, but that doesn’t matter to me. When you draw your dice at the beginning of the round and roll them, it’s exciting. You then spend the rest of the round working out how best to use those dice in the most efficient way.

Sure, the game does last quite a while and for some, it will outstay its welcome. After all, there isn’t a huge amount of difference from round to round. Even though you improve your dice bag and build a small tableau, Tharos doesn’t feel like an engine-building game. There is also no player interaction really, so it’s not like you can interfere with another players’ plans. It’s very much multiplayer solitaire.

However, that’s exactly why I love this game so much and why my wife and I have been playing it a lot. The satisfaction, for us at least, comes from solving the puzzle that the dice rolls pose every round. You slowly build your dice bag, get out cards that give you some sort of benefit, try and populate the surface of Tharos and just go about your business really. I think there is a similar attraction as there is in Wingspan.

Tharos isn’t overtaxing, but will keep you focussed just enough so you don’t realize when another hour has gone by and you’ve finished one more round of the game. If you like this sort of thing, then this game will definitely be for you.

Dominant Species: Marine

Release Date: 2021Players: 2-4
Designer: Chad JensenLength: 90-150 minutes
Artist: Chad Jensen, Chechu NietoAge: 14+
Publisher: GMT GamesComplexity: 4.0 / 5

Dominant Species: Marine by the late and great Chad Jensen and from GMT Games has been on my wishlist for some time. Actually, that’s not quite true. It’s its bigger sibling, Dominant Species, that I’ve had my eye on for a long time, but I knew I would never get my games group or anyone in my family to play it with me. So when Dominant Species: Marine came out and was touted to be the shorter and easier-to-learn version of the game, I knew I had an opportunity.

So far, I’ve only played Dominant Species: Marine once, but even that is a victory to me. I was able to teach the game to my games group pretty quickly, given how much there is to teach, and they all got it pretty quickly. The player boards have all the necessary information on them and the game board is also really well designed, so once you know how the game works, you don’t really need to refer to the rulebook, except maybe for some of the event cards.

I think where we went wrong in our first play, which is probably my fault, is that we looked at it as an area control game – which it isn’t. For most of the game, it’s really more about procreating and evolving. You want to have the most animals of your species on the planet, at least in certain areas, because that’s what gives you points. Only at the very end, do you want to spread out and control most areas.

Yet, what Dominant Species: Marine does amazingly well, is emulate the story of evolution. Your species are very limited in what they can do, but during the game, you can give them a wider range of areas where they can survive or you can go the other way and become even more specialised. In fact, the game is long enough for a species to become specialised to start with and then more flexible later in the game – or vice versa. Once the game end is near, everyone wants to spread out, but by then, they may not have enough animals left on the surface, by which time it’s too late to procreate.

The game also beautifully emulates how the surface of the planet changes, how new landmasses or bodies of water are created and how vents suddenly erupt. The game encourages you to place new planet tiles near like tiles, i.e. water next to water or land next to land, but sometimes it makes more strategic sense to put them somewhere else. That makes for a half-predictable, half-unexpectedly random planet, which is beautiful to watch.

So don’t be put off by the perception that Dominant Species: Marine is too heavy. If I am able to teach it and my games group able to learn it from me, then you should be fine and you’ll have a good few hours’ solid gameplay to boot.

Brass: Birmingham

Release Date: 2018Players: 2-4
Designer: Gavan Brown, Matt Tolman, Martin WallaceLength: 60-120 minutes
Artist: Lina Cossette, David Forest, Damien MammolitiAge: 14+
Publisher: RoxleyComplexity: 4.0 / 5

Another game that is quite heavy to get to grips with is Brass: Brimingham by Martin Wallace, Gavan Brown and Matt Tolman from Roxley. Yet, once you’ve played it a couple of times it will actually feel really quite simple and your turns will become a lot quicker. It all really starts to flow and even though it takes a while to remember that coal needs a network connection while metal doesn’t and that your beer can be consumed by you from anywhere, other players’ beer needs to be connected, eventually, it does sink in and all makes sense.

(Photo courtesy of Roxley Games)

I think the draw of a game about the industrial revolution that’s set in the so-called Black Country is really quite large. You want to be part of this rather huge, but also very grim, part of history. In the game, you will build canals, later railways, as well as cotton mills and other manufacture, potteries, coal mines and iron works. You will slowly spread out over the whole map and every time you do something, chances are that another player will benefit from it.

Brass: Birmingham is another game with a lot of direct player-interaction, but it’s not necessarily negative. Sometimes you actually want someone else to use your coal or your iron or your beer, but sometimes you don’t, because it would have been free for you to use your own coal or iron, while the market prices are prohibitively high. There is a really interesting push and pull in the game, where you want to be close to the locations where other players are, but at the same time, you don’t. Timing is very important in the game as well, so sometimes it’s worth to do a less important action on your turn, so that you can do the two important actions together on your next turn.

I think Brass: Birmingham is a game that will keep you occupied for an hour or two and where you will be engrossed in the building of the industries and transport networks that would have been growing up during the industrial revolution. So, put on the fire, have some Christmas music playing and snuggle together around the board game table for some fun.

Magnate: The First City

Release Date: 2021Players: 1-5 Players
Designer: James NaylorLength: 60-120 minutes
Artist: Donal Hegarty, Cze Lee, James NaylorAge: 10+
Publisher: Naylor GamesComplexity: 3.0 / 5

I remember playing a near-production prototype of Magnate: The First City by James Naylor from Naylor Games, which had 3D printed buildings and many hand-cut cardboard tokens. There was the wonderful toy digger first-player marker as well. It all seemed quite daunting and I had a hard time explaining the game to my games group, but then, I’m not a great rules teacher and there is a lot happening in this game.

The attraction of Magnate for me was always the economic simulation. After having had a demo of it at a games convention, I was absolutely hooked. Taking turns felt so intuitive. Buying land, building properties, attracting tenants and reaping the rewards was very enticing. Yet, the house market crash was inevitable and only a matter of time. It was great to see how that real-world concept was implemented in the game and how you could partly control when it would happen, allowing you to try and get out of the market in time and then push for the crash.

Luckily, my games group did get past my terrible rules teach and they quickly went quiet, trying to work out how to get the most money and cash out before the game ended. That was a good sign, because they were really engrossed in the game and when it was

Top 5 Board Games of 2021 (Saturday Review)

Yes, it’s the time of year again where I list the 5 board games that I think were the best in 2021. The games don’t necessarily have to have been published this year, but as long as I have played them in 2021, they qualify to appear on this list. Of course, as is now custom on the Tabletop Games Blog, the #1 game will receive the exclusive and prestigious Top Table Award. I know you’re already at the edge of your seat to find out who got the coveted trophy, but let me list the top 5 board games of 2021 in reverse order, to raise the excitement even further and make you wait a little bit longer.

#5 – Genotype: A Mendelian Genetics Game

Release Date: 2021Players: 1-5
Designer: John Coveyou, Paul Salomon, Ian ZangLength: 45-90 minutes
Artist: Tomasz Bogusz, Amelia SalesAge: 12+
Publisher: Genius GamesComplexity: 2.0 / 5

Genotype by John Coveyou, Paul Salomon and Ian Zang from Genius Games is a really lovely game, that will keep your brain cells just occupied enough, without giving you a headache. It’s also a very competitive game, which I guess is emulating the life-and-death situations faced daily in nature. Mind you, the game isn’t about animals, but about plants: pea plants to be more precise. Even though plants do also fight deadly battles, be it on much longer timescales, Genotype is really about genetics and chromosomes.

Set at the time of Gregor Mendel, you are a member of the clergy growing pea plants, checking them for their characteristics, their flower colour, height, pea colour and shape, then crossing different plants and checking their offspring for their characteristics. As you do this over several generations, you are able to identify different types of genetic characteristics and that’s your goal in the game.

At least, that’s the theme of the game, but in reality, you’re placing workers, in the shape of little trowels, onto action spaces. You try and fulfil contracts and ensure you get the right resources, which are chromosome dice and money, you need to do so or to buy cards that allow you to become more efficient.

It does sound a bit cold, but then Genotype is really quite high on player interaction. It’s an almost traditional worker placement game, where action slots can only be occupied by a single player. There are a handful of spaces that can be used by several people, but you usually have to pay extra if you go there after other players.

As I alluded to at the beginning of the article, Genotype is almost more about the survival of the fittest than growing lovely pea plants. Yet, that’s what makes this game so much fun and interesting. Just be aware of the cut-throat nature of this game going in and you’ll have a lot of enjoyable hours playing it.

#4 – Luzon Rails

Release Date: 2021Players: 3-5 Players
Designer: Robin DavidLength: 45-90 minutes
Artist: Jessi CabasanAge: 12+
Publisher: self-publishedComplexity: 2.5 / 5

Luzon Rails by Robin David was a really pleasant surprise, for a number of reasons. I always wanted to try a cube rail game and Luzon Rails promised to give people new to this genre an easy way in – and that is very true. I taught it to my wife and I also taught it to my games group and they all loved it. The teach is relatively easy and the gameplay is not too hard.

The wonderful thing about cube rail games is the fact that nobody owns any of the train companies, but as long as you own shares in one, you can build track and use the company’s money as you see fit on your turn. That’s a concept that was new to all of us, but that’s also what made the game so exciting and enjoyable for everyone. The idea that your own money is separate from the train companies’ money took a little while to get used to, but that’s the core of cube rail games of course.

So, being able to jump onto the success of another player and buy shares in the company that they spent energy building up, is very satisfying, but of course, there is also the flip side of this, where someone buys a single share in a company, just with the intention to run it into the ground and build track that leads into nowhere, while emptying the company’s coffers and making it impossible for its share price to go any higher.

The amount of direct player interaction is increased in the bidding phase, where everyone intentionally bids in such a way to make it impossible for others to outbid them, because how much everyone has is open information. Yet, player interaction is not really all about outdoing the other players, because you don’t want them to go against you and run your train company into the ground. It’s a fine balance that makes for a really interesting game.

#3 – The King is Dead

Release Date: 2020Players: 2-4 Players
Designer: Peer SylvesterLength: 30-45 minutes
Artist: Benoit BillionAge: 12+
Publisher: Osprey GamesComplexity: 2.0 / 5

I’ve not played The King is Dead by Peer Sylvester from Osprey Games a lot, but every game was really enthralling. It’s such a simple game to explain, but so deep and excruciatingly mind-burning to play. The order of play is really simple: either play a card from your hand to change the influence of one of three factions in two regions of the map – or pass. Yet, each turn is blighted with tough decisions, because sometimes it’s best to step back and let the other players fight it out amongst themselves, so you can swoop in at the end and control the rest of the game. Other times, you need to control the situation right away, even though you risk losing all influence later on.

It’s all very much about timing. Not only do you need to work out when it’s best to play a card and when it’s best to pass, but you also need to decide when it’s best to play a certain card over another. You also need to be careful about not revealing your goal too early, while also being ready to change tact and adapt your strategy as the situation on the map changes.

A lot of bluffing comes into it as well and you need to keep a close eye on the other players, checking how many cards they have left and what types of followers they have amassed. If you lose sight of things for even a single turn, it can all end in tears.

There isn’t really much more to say about this game, because The King is Dead needs to be experienced. It’s so hard to put into words the impossible decisions you have to make and the gambles you have to take. One moment you think you have full control of what’s going on and this round seems to be going exactly your way, when another player just pushes one last time and changes the board so much that it bears no resemblance to your plans.

#2 – Sleeping Gods

Release Date: 2021Players: 1-4 Players
Designer: Ryan LaukatLength: 60-1200 minutes
Artist: Ryan LaukatAge: 12+
Publisher: Red Raven GamesComplexity: 2.5 / 5

It was a tough battle between Sleeping Gods by Ryan Laukat from Red Raven Games and the #1 slot in this list. They both are very good at drawing players into a world and engrossing them for an hour or two. They are both also played over several sessions and are set in a fantasy world full of adventure and excitement. The illustrations in both games are amazing and highly detailed and both games’ components are really high quality. So deciding which one should go in #2 and which is #1 was impossibly hard, but I had to make a decision.

So, just because Sleeping Gods didn’t end up in the top slot, it’s still a really great game. Also, it is cooperative, while the #1 game is competitive, which means they are both aimed at different groups of players, so you may feel it is the better game for you. In fact, if I had to choose the best family game of 2021, then Sleeping Gods would have won by a mile.

The number of hours my wife, daughter and I played the game is in the dozens. We also played it over and over again, starting a new campaign to see if would beat the game this time. After all, it’s cooperative, so your aim is to beat the game and that’s not easy. However, as you play Sleeping Gods, you have very little idea as to how well you’re doing or if you’re going to win or lose – at least not the first time you play the game.

That’s what’s so nice about this game. Unlike many other cooperative games, where you can see the situation getting progressively worse, or better, in Sleeping Gods, you just plod along, explore the world, fight monsters, help people, buy goods and generally just travel around. You take notes of where you’ve been and what you encountered and as you make decisions and take actions, the world around you changes. It all feels almost really relaxed, wasn’t it for the fact that you’re always keeping an eye on how exhausted or wounded your crew is.

I know, people wonder whether you can actually play Sleeping Gods several times, given that you take notes and probably remember what you did in a previous game. The thing is, not only can you play it several times, you must do so, if you want to eventually beat the game and win. You do so much in a single game that it’s impossible to remember everything, unless you take really detailed notes, but even then, the adventures are so far spread over the map that it’s impossible to keep track of everything.

The world is also so very large that, even if you’ve eventually memorized certain sections of the map, you can simply go somewhere else and explore new regions and go on new adventures. You will never have enough time to see everything in a single game.

So, I can guarantee you, you are able to replay Sleeping Gods multiple times and I bet you actually can’t wait to do so once you finished your first game.

#1 – Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile

Release Date: 2021Players: 1-6
Designer: Cole WehrleLength: 45-120 minutes
Artist: Kyle FerrinAge: 10+
Publisher: Leder GamesComplexity: 4.0 / 5
Tabletop Games Blog Top Table Award 2021

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you may have guessed that Oath by Cole Wehrle from Leder Games would take the Top Table Award. I reviewed it three times this year, in its various forms, and it featured in a number of other articles on the blog, most recently in the 5 Heavy Christmas Board Games Saturday Review. It has captured my and my games group’s imagination the most and is the sort of game that we spent a lot of time learning and playing. In fact, we’re already three games into a campaign that is starting to really show off the game to its best.

As I have said repeatedly, the relative simplicity of having seven site cards, each with a number of denizen cards, is amazing, because it creates such a detailed and complex world. The fact that this world constantly changes as players take their turns and that part of it survives into the next game, is really clever and awe-inspiring.

The art from Kyle Ferrin is so beautiful and engrossing. It brings the world even more to life and you just want to keep looking at all the cards in more detail. There is

Board games for everyone (Topic Discussion)

Sometimes I get asked to recommend games for someone to play. As you can imagine, that’s never easy and my first question tends to be what other games they have already played. If they’re completely new to the hobby, I usually ask how many people they intend to play with, whether they’re a competitive group, how long they’re happy to play for. It’s also sometimes good to find out what sort of films, TV shows or activities they like, because many board games have a setting that might fit. So, in this article, I want to give you a list of different types of games that I tend to suggest to people.

I could have split this article into a longer series and really describe every game in detail, but for now, I kept it as one and I will just give you an idea of why I think a certain game might suit a certain type of people. If you want to find out more about each game, there are links to either one of my reviews or the publisher’s website.

Light games

So let’s start with light games, that don’t have a lot of rules and play quite quickly and let’s look at competitive games first.

One game that is usually a good way to introduce people to the hobby is, of course, Fluxx by Andrew and Kristin Looney from Looney Labs. It ticks a lot of boxes. It’s a card game, so it’s easy to take with you and can be played pretty much anywhere, as it doesn’t take up a huge amount of table space. It can be played with up to 6 players as well, which means it’s very flexible and it doesn’t matter if only a couple of your friends show up or if you have a larger group.

Fluxx also basically has one rule, at least to start with: draw a card, then play a card. Everything else evolves as you play and all you really need to do, is read the text on the cards. Sure, you also have to know how to win the game and how new rules replace existing ones, but that’s not too difficult to grasp.

Fluxx can take a little while to play, but it can be over very quickly as well. It really depends on the players and the luck of the draw, but ultimately, it plays so quickly that people are usually happy to play it at least twice back to back. There are also dozens of versions of the game out there, with different settings and themes, that everyone should be able to find one that suits them and their group. It also means that, if you get bored with your Fluxx, you can buy another version that introduces a couple of minor changes to keep things fresh for you and your friends or family.

Luck games

For people who prefer games where luck plays a bigger role, I always recommend one of the many mint tin games by Kate Beckett and David Rene Miller from subQuark. Mint Tin Mini Skulduggery is my favourite here and I’ve played it many times with my wife and daughter, as well as the wider family. It’s another game that ticks a lot of boxes. It comes in a mini mint tin, which fits into every pocket and the box is sturdy enough to take a few knocks. It’s all about rolling dice and there’s really only one thing you can do to affect the game, so there is not much you have to think about. It also plays in around 15 minutes on average, so it’s really quick and there are only a handful of rules that you need to know, none of which are difficult.

Co-operative games

If someone prefers a light co-operative game, then The Mind by Wolfgang Warsch from Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag is definitely a great choice. It was nominated for and won a large number of board game awards and it now also comes in a plastic-free version, if you want a game with some green credentials. It’s another card game, so it’s very easy to take with you and it plays relatively quickly. The rules are also very basic and because it’s a co-operative game, the whole group can learn it together, if anyone is worried about having to teach it to people – but as I say, it’s very simple anyway.

If you’re trying to cater for a group of people who might prefer something slightly longer, maybe with a couple of extra rules, then Quacks of Quedlinburg also by Wolfgang Warsch but from Schmidt Spiele is a competitive push-your-luck game with simple rules that takes around an hour to play. It does take up a bit of space on the table and certainly isn’t a game you can just put in your handbag or jeans pocket. However, it does offer a lot of fun and laughter, because it’s all about working out probabilities, at least roughly, to decide if you should draw one more ingredient out of the bag or stop.

It’s the sort of game where you will learn more about players’ personalities. You’ll see if people like to take risks or are more cautious. It will appeal to people who just want to have a bit of fun playing games with friends or family as well as people who are really competitive and who will plan what ingredients to buy and who formulate their strategy from the start. So it really works for a wide range of people and it’s a great introduction to push-your-luck.

Programming games

Another fun competitive game that takes a little longer to play and has few rules to learn, but isn’t too taxing, is Colt Express by Christophe Raimbault from Ludonaute. It’s a so-called programming game, where people play cards to determine what their meeple will do and once the cards have been played, the program is executed. Of course, things won’t always go to plan, because there are several players’ meeples that can affect your meeple’s actions. That can lead to hilarious moments where a meeple was going to snatch some loot, but because they were pushed into another carriage on the train, they’re grasping thin air.

The game comes with a 3D cardboard train, which looks great on the table and is a real draw. It also plays relatively quickly, making it easy to play Colt Express two or three times back-to-back. The rules aren’t too difficult, even though the game won’t make much sense until one round has been played and the cards’ program is run, when everyone realizes what the cards mean and how it affects the game. It’s one of my favourite family games, for sure and I have now played it with various groups of people who all enjoyed it.

“Forbidden” games

I want to end the article with a co-operative game that is for those who want something puzzly and are happy to play for around half an hour to an hour, depending on how the game goes. There are a few games in the series, but I think a good one to start with is Forbidden Island by Matt Leacock from Gamewright. The game is pretty easy to learn, but very hard to win. It will keep you busy for some time and you really have to work out how best to work together to gather up the artefacts from the island, before it sinks.

We played it with our daughter many years ago, so I can assure you that it’s a game you can play with children quite easily. In fact, it appeals to a wide range of people who like to work together to solve a puzzle and if the group likes Forbidden Island and wants to try something else, then there are a couple more games in the series that offer different challenges. So there will be a lot more to explore, if you want to.

How about you?

Now I wonder what games you tend to recommend to people. Or what games have been recommended to you when you started out in the hobby? I’d love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Useful Links

Audio Version

Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (