In Eight Games different board gamers share the eight games they’d select in eight different situations. The links are given to Board Game Geek listings for you to find out more.
Jon is a primary school teacher who has a deep thirst for board games. He loves bringing games into the classroom and in his spare time he has been making video reviews of various games with the moniker, The Board Game Chap.
1: A game to play on an aeroplane:
Tiny tables and turbulence.
I simply do not want dice anywhere near this category, not even dice trays will alleviate my anxiety of the slightest notion of a die tumbling down the aisles. I think Welcome To… would be ideal for this category alas I cannot include it as I have not actually played it. Therefore, I will have to go for Seiji Kanai’s microgame, Love Letter. The whole game consists of sixteen cards where you are trying to gain the Princess’ affection. All you do is pick a card and play a card. Each card you play has an action on it that you can use to try and eliminate opponents. You want to be the last person standing or have the highest value card left when the draw pile runs out.
It is great to introduce deduction, can be very lucky at times and momentum shifts from one person to another. Importantly, it can all fit onto a tray table. Add a little spice to proceedings by getting the winner of each round to recite the letter they wrote which garnered so much attention from the Princess. My only remit is that games are relatively quick so perhaps try one of the Exit Room style games for long haul flights.
2: A game to play in a pub:
Murky lighting and plenty of noise
I love Get Bit. The game is perfect for a pub environment. You are all little Lego-like robots fleeing a sinking ship attempting to swim to safety but a shark who is hungry for some nuts and bolts is hot on your heels. Play a numbered card from your hand facedown. Once everyone has played, you reveal your cards. Whoever plays the highest card moves furthest to the front of the line of the queue. What is great though is if you play the same card as somebody else, you do not move at all. Prepare to feel smug as you played your lowest card at a timely fashion sliding past leaving those conformists in your wake. Whoever ends up at the back of the queue is going to ‘Get Bit’ and swiftly loses a limb.
Tremendously easy, silly and a great bluffing game as you try to psyche out your friends. Additionally, a great feature of the game adding to its whimsy is that the playing pieces actually have removable limbs. Embrace your inner child as well as the strange looks from pub patrons as you yank off arms and legs from your figure.
3: A game to play with a large group:
A captive audience for something big.
This game was a tremendous help in making friends when I was travelling abroad. A big social game circulated round a resistance group trying to overthrow the nasty powers that be. The only problem though is that your group is littered with spies trying to bring you down. Each round, a leader elects people to go on a mission, the group votes if they are happy to go along with it, then the participants secretly decide if they want the mission to succeed or fail. If it fails, then you know there is at least one person from that group who is not to be trusted. If it succeeds, then wonderful, or was there a spy or spies in the group trying to gain everyone’s trust? Soon, you will be tumbling down the rabbit hole suspicious of everyone around you.
I love playing this game with new players. The first time is one of quiet trepidation but to see someone’s trust in someone vaporise when their supposed closest ally reveals they were a spy all along is priceless. Then the dynamic completely changes for the next game. Guards are raised, accusations come flying from all corners of the room and wonderful memories are born.
Honourable mentions go to Cash ‘n Guns and Telestrations.
4: A game to play with four players from four different generations:
Fun for everyone from 4 to 104.
Animal Upon Animal
A wonderful little stacking game which is fun for the whole family. Roll the die and stack your little animals adding to the communal structure in the middle. Be careful though, if you topple down the tower then you are going to have to add a couple more animals to your supply. Be the first person to get rid of all your animals and you win.
A simple game which is oriented towards children but a rare gem in which it is entertaining for adults of all ages participating – even better after a couple of shandies. Additionally, the playing pieces are adorable and all uniquely shaped.
Honourable mention goes to Dixit once the little ones are ready for Junior school.
5: A game to play outdoors:
Wind, rain and seagulls won’t stop play.
A classic game perfect to be played outdoors. The game consists of cardboard tiles and wooden meeples so no concern about pieces blowing away, all you will need is a large enough flat surface. This game is delightfully simple that often keeps me coming back for more. Just be wary if it begins to rain however, hats off to the gamers out there who will continue regardless of the weather situation.
In Carcassonne, you draw a tile from a pile of tokens and then lay it out on the playing surface connecting the tile to one another. You will be connecting roads, adding to the depths of castles and building monasteries. Once you have played your tile, you can choose to place a meeple on it scoring you points for locations along the way. If a road is completed or a castle has finished being built, you remove your meeple and score points for it ready to be used again on a subsequent turn. Once you get used to the base game and introduce farmers, you start making careful decisions when to sacrifice your meeple supply adding more depth to the experience. When finished, you may marvel at the beautiful vista of the land you have all helped construct. If you have not played this game yet, then I sorely recommend you give it a try.
Honourable mention goes to Onitama.
6: A game to play in a library:
You are fantasy characters inside one of the most dangerous places known to humankind…a shopping centre. You must get in, case the joint, steal some stuff and find the exit before the time runs out. It is a real-time cooperative game where you are working together to move each playing piece around the building uncovering new areas of the map by laying down tiles. What’s to rave about it? Well, it is full of gimmicks and gimmicks that are really entertaining. Everyone controls every character; however, each player is restricted by the actions they can do. You might be only able to move characters west whereas someone else can only move the characters in the opposite direction.
What makes this game perfect for the library, you ask? One of its other gimmicks is that it must be played in absolute silence. It is a perfect game for teamwork to be carried out using non-verbal communication. If you like your games filled with tension and excitement, this might be for you and ideal if there are four of you. Just remember not to shout in glee if you are victorious.
If it is just, you and a friend in a library, then I suggest Hive. Games of this always seem to culminate in silence for me as I agonise over which moves to make.
7: A game to play with someone who claims to hate board games:
Can you convert a non-believer?
King of Tokyo
This was possibly the most challenging question, and a lot of thought can go into it because it really depends on the person or people you are introducing the game to. Often, people who have no real interest in board games are turned off by them because of experiences they have had in the past. The key for me is not to force something on someone, make a choice that will pique their interest (not yours), tactility is a bonus and above all keep it simple or familiar with what they know already.
My game of choice, which in fact got me started with the hobby, is King of Tokyo. There are very few mechanisms to learn and if you know how to play Yahtzee then you are halfway to knowing the game already. You play one of those behemoth beasties, like King Kong or Godzilla, duking it out with others to be numero uno. There are two ways to win: score twenty points or KO all the other players. You get to roll chunky dice and players are not overwhelmed with the number of decisions they make. You can simply score points, heal yourself, attack others or gain energy that you can use to buy rewards and abilities. It is great for new players as turns are fast, the theme is great and skill level does not determine the winner. If you want to sink your teeth into it a little more, then add the Power Up expansion which grants monsters their own traits.
Remember, the key is knowing the individual – should you play a game that steers away from conflict? what themes reflect their interests? are the mechanisms easy to grasp? Dexterity and push your luck games are often great alternatives so other honourable mentions go to Pitch Car, Flick ‘em Up, Dr Eureka, Incan Gold or pretty much any game by the gateway master, Phil-Walker Harding.
8: A game to play with one other player:
A cosy game for two .
There are many wonderful two-player games out there and this is the player count that I play most frequently. There are all sorts of games which are perfect for one couple but are not everyone’s cup of tea. My two-player nod goes to Raptor. A team of scientists have discovered an island inhabited by prehistoric dinosaurs. It is the job of one player to take on the role of the researchers by trying to kidnap enough baby raptors whilst your opponent takes control of Mama Raptor trying to keep her babies safe by devouring these invasive humans.
The game plays out like an abstract game. Think like a game of chess carefully manoeuvring your pieces around the board trying to anticipate your opponent’s next move. You have asymmetrical powers which makes the humans play out in a different manner from the raptors. The humans carefully try to nip in and nip out with the babies finding ways to reduce the mother raptor’s movement whilst the mother sporadically leaps around the board mutilating whoever is in her path. You can employ different tactics from game to game, there are alternative win conditions, and the board can be set up uniquely each time. What I love the most is probably the game’s divisive feature which are each player’s deck. Be prepared. The way these cards play out can create carnage culminating in delight for one player and forlorn for the other. I love this breeding of mind games and luck of the draw which cements the idea that this is a game to be taken in jest (pardon the pun, Mama Raptor).
Honourable mentions go to Pixel Tactics, Star Realms, Patchwork and Codenames Duet.