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In Eight Games different board gamers share the eight games they’d select in eight different situations. The games are not explained, but the links are given to Board Game Geek listings for you to find out more. 

 

This month James Richards, avid gamer and reviewer, dog walker, and director of Chromatrope chooses his eight games.

James Richards

1: A game to take to granny’s house:
Easy to learn, lots of depth and endlessly interesting.

Five Tribes
BGG Listing

If granny still wakes up screaming from the trauma of the last time she played Monopoly in 1973, then Five Tribes is the one to take. It’s a great game that offers players interesting choices wrapped into an engaging (although somewhat criticised) Arabian Nights-esque theme. It riffs on the ancient game of Mancala and is easy to get your head around, but also offers players plenty of depth. The variety of tiles and plethora of play options mean that the game changes each time you get it to the table, and the range of colours and patterns and the superb wooden components make this a crowd pleaser that we keep coming back to.

2: A game to take to a restaurant:
You don’t need ‘much room’ (geddit) for this game

Fungi (aka Morels)
BGG Listing

It’s a dark autumn evening and you’re a cozy country pub. You’ve just finished a delicious meal (some kind of pie perhaps) and talk turns to gaming. Sweep aside the bottles and mustard for the bosky two player delight that is Fungi. In this card game you’re exploring the forest floor seeking rare edible fungi to cook. You get to explore both the daytime and moonlit woods, and can also improve the flavour of your bounty with butter and cider. Quick to play, really easy to learn; a tasty game to get stuck into.

3: A game to take to a reunion:
Solitary anti-imperialist fun for misanthropic introverts.

Nemo’s War
BGG Listing

I don’t plan to ever attend a reunion, but I would instead settle down on my own with the brilliant solo war game Nemo’s War. You play the enigmatic anti-imperialist antihero of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, as you captain the Nautilus and patrol the oceans of the world, sinking as many ships as possible. The game is complex, beautifully realised and thematically tight. It’s also (in my experience) very, very hard to win. In all the times that I’ve played, I’ve never bested the game, but that doesn’t matter. As a player you can immerse yourself in the challenge, manage your resources, improve the boat, manage your crew and take out as many other ships as you can. 

4: A game to take to a primary school:
Spooky glow in the dark take on a very old classic.

It turns out MistibOo is a newish take on a very old card game called Old Maid, where two to four players secretly gather and swap cards, trying to complete sets of spooky characters, all the while feverishly passing on the ‘mistigri’ black cat. This was a family favourite for a long time, and players get to take their turn quickly, it’s easy to learn and there’s a lot of laughter and groaning as the dreaded black cat makes its way round the table. If that wasn’t enough the cards are glow-in-the-dark, which means that the game still makes the occasional appearance at Halloween gaming sessions. Boo!

5: A game to take to a youth club:
The gift of imagination, adventure and friendship.

Dungeons and Dragons
BGG Listings

I started to play role playing games generally and D&D in particular back in the first-time-around ’Stranger Things’ era of the 1980’s. I can honestly say that playing D&D with my friends over lunchtimes at school and in holidays taught me more about the power of imagination, storytelling and friendship than anything I learned in class. D&D is a ‘machine for telling stories’; an endlessly fertile and creative framework that has been build upon over the years by all the people who love and enjoy the game. Whether running the game as a DM or playing as a character, D&D is an amazing game world that still delights and excites to this day. It’s fantastic to see how the game has been creatively adopted and owned by new generations of players, to become authentically diverse, representative and relevant.

6: A game to take to a job interview:
Let’s play global, thermonuclear war!

Twilight Struggle
BGG Listing

For a long time Twilight Struggle topped the Board Game Geek best games list, like some kind of impossibly nerdy and intimidatingly complicated holy grail. Once I got around to buying and playing it, I realised that there’s a good reason for it’s reputation. Twilight Struggle simulates the Cold (and sometimes hot) War from the 1940’s through to the 1980’s. It’s the USSR versus the USA with a fascinating mix of global geopolitics, subtle influence shifting and even the propaganda machinations of the space race, powered by a card driven mechanic that is packed with real history. It is a pretty epic game, and if you can find a friend and the best part of the three hours that it takes to play, you are in for a treat. The backdrop to the game is the doomy ticking clock of the defcon track, with nuclear war a real and constant threat. If the big one goes off, then its lights out for the world and everyone loses – just like in real life see.

7: A game to take to a hospital:
Awesome, colourful, potion quackery for all. 

The Quacks of Quedlinburg
BGG Listing

In Quacks you’re a quack doctor brewing dodgy potions and trying to not explode your cauldron in the process. You buy ingredients that go into your bag, from which you draw unseen to try and create the most powerful brew. There’s an element of chance, but also some lovely strategic choices about how you spend your points to improve your mix. Each ingredient has particular powers, and you can chain their effects for maximum potency. The ‘Herb Witches’ expansion brings new ingredients and dynamics to the game that really add variety and have made this game a real favourite with us all.

8: A game to take to a cabin in the woods:
Atmospheric murder spree in Victorian London.

Whitehall Mystery
BGG Listing

It’s a right pea souper and no mistake with hidden movement game Whitehall Mystery, as the forces of law and order track down the fiend Jack through the streets of London. One player is murderous Jack, furtively moving through the city and distributing body parts, while the other players represent the forces of law and order, coordinating their efforts to pick up the trail and make an arrest. The theme might be unpalatable for some, but the game is undeniably tense as the alleys, slums, and riverside docks of old London are atmospherically conjured. The game is a clever mix of competition and cooperation, and one that regularly features at our game nights.

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