If you’ve ever come into our retail showroom, you’ve definitely met some of our staff. For this * special edition * (ooh) blog post, we’ve asked five of them for two of their top board games. Let’s get to know some of the Gameology staff!
If you’ve ever met me in the showroom, chances are I’ve raved about Bargain Quest. In this game, players are shopkeepers trying to sell heroes the gear they need to defeat the monsters in town. The theme of this game is why I adore it so much. When you play a fantasy game, you generally don’t take notice of the shopkeepers. Getting to play as these overlooked characters is so unique and compelling to me. The theme is so well integrated into the mechanics, it creates moments of hilarity while playing that feel so natural and lived. It’s this cheeky light-heartedness melding so well with strategy that makes Bargain Quest one of my favourite board games of all time.
Dominion was the game my older cousin left at my house one Christmas and, arguably, it is the reason I am interested in board games today. Players will try to improve their starting kingdom (deck) by purchasing better cards from a shared marketplace. Though the theme doesn’t quite carry through and it suffers at higher player counts, the mechanics more than make up for it. There’s nothing quite like whittling your deck down to a perfect engine and watching it rake in points every single turn. With all the expansions and different combinations of cards you can place in the marketplace, no two games of Dominion are ever alike.
The first board game I was really excited to buy was Scythe and to this day, I’d still consider it an awesome game. Scythe has a dieselpunk/steampunk theme and is set in an alternate 1920s Europe with five different factions vying to build huge battle mechs to expand their control to the coveted Factory. I like this game because of its asymmetric war mechanics. Each faction has their own unique abilities so you can take on a different playstyle for each one. Plus, the expansions, ranging from new factions, to blimps, to a modular campaign, are great.
When I wanted to get into economic games, the first game I looked at was Stockpile. Players act as stock market investors hoping to make big money by bidding on ‘stockpiles’ comprised of shares from various companies. This game is buying and selling economics but dumbed down for quick fun. Games are fast—only about 45 minutes. Since each player gets hidden ‘insider tips’ on the market movement at the start of every round, there are even some social aspects in the background, creating tension and unease. This was my intro into stock market style economic games and I’d highly recommend it for anyone wanting a fast stocks game.
This little roll and write game is simply brilliant. Welcome To places players as architects in the 1950s, tasked with building the best town. Where other roll and write games will use dice, Welcome To uses cards that players flip over each turn to reveal randomised results. For those who may not have much time for gaming because of kids and work and other commitments, this is a great option as it plays in only 25 minutes and is fast-paced and easy to set up.
The Quacks of Quedlinburg. Love the game, but geez, do I hate the name! In this game, players are ‘quack doctors’ making potions by adding ingredients to a pot and praying their whole potion won’t explode. Effectively, Quacks is a very simple and user-friendly deck builder—just without cards. Instead of a deck of cards, players will have a bag of ingredient chips which they pull from and add to each turn. The push-your-luck mechanic is great fun and the easy rules and catchup mechanic keep everyone invested in the game, regardless of skill level.
War of the Ring is an in-depth, area control strategy game based on the Lord of the Rings universe. Lord of the Rings is one of my favourite books and playing War of the Ring throws you right into the thick of it. Playing as either the Free People or the minions of Sauron, you will be constantly making sacrifices and grabs for victory points. The level of depth and intricacy will mean that long after you’ve left the table you will still be thinking of what you could have done better.
Brass: Birmingham is heavy, economic euro-game, where you take on the role of an iconic entrepreneur during the Industrial Revolution. You will be vying to make the most money by selling coal and iron. My favourite aspect of this game is that you are able to use other people’s resources. This will give them benefits for “selling” their product but it can also be devastating if that was a resource that was critical for their plans. Constantly weighing the pros and cons leaves you in a position where succeeding in your plans can make you feel ingenious.
Words cannot express my love for Aftermath. In this adventure book RPG, players are a misfit band of small critters, scavenging, surviving and trying to build their colony. What do I love about Aftermath? The minis in this game are the most detailed I’ve ever seen in a board game. The entire RPG is laid out in a storybook, meaning the book becomes your game board and you physically play on the surface of the pages. Not only does it make setup so quick and simple, it makes the whole campaign easy to pack away and pick up again later, much like saving a video game.
Birds are sick, yo. Like seriously, birds are cool. All the hype you’ve heard about Wingspan? It’s absolutely warranted. From a thematic standpoint, Wingspan places players as bird enthusiasts and researchers looking to attract the best birds into their wildlife preserves. From a mechanical standpoint however, it is an extremely well-designed engine-building game, where you are constantly trying to improve the efficiency of your actions. You’d think that birds and engine-building wouldn’t really go together but it manages to bridge this gap very well.
And there we have it! Some of our staff members’ favourite board games! What do you think? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!