By Robert Florence on June 24th, 2014 at 9:00 pm.
Before my final video next week, my TOP 10 BOARD GAMES OF ALL TIME, I wanted to write about the games that I missed from the list. I’ll give you the reasons why. I’ll talk a little bit about games that will probably end up on the list at some point. Basically, these games need to be called out right here, because each one gives me a pang of hurty-hurty about why they ain’t on my list.
I reviewed this before – it’s a game I REALLY love. Take a look at my column about this belter. Okay, so why is it not on my list? Well, since the Dust Warfare book came out, I see Dust Tactics as more of a tabletop miniatures game. It’s still a brilliant board game in its “Tactics” form, and I recommend it wholeheartedly, but I just see it as kinda sorta separate from the board and card games that make up the list. But then–
OH! I DUNNO!
I mean, Dust Tactics really shines as a quick-to-set-up, quick-to-play skirmish game. It’s not THAT far removed from something like Heroscape in its Tactics form. But – hey – I had to draw some lines somewhere, and so Dust Tactics is off my list. I mean, Warhammer Fantasy Battle isn’t on the list either. And I find that Dust Tactics/Warfare is more in that kind of area these days. Look. Look. Just take this as another recommendation for you to hunt this great game down. Okay.
Maybe I should have put it on the list. OH BOY.
Okay, Terra Mystica. Let’s do this.
Terra Mystica is a giant, expensive Eurogame with loads of wood pieces. Seriously, this game has LOADS of wood with it. The box weighs a ton. It’s full of stuff.
Each player is one of a whole bunch of races with special abilities. The objective is to terraform and settle land across the board. You build little houses, then upgrade those houses into temples and strongholds and such. Houses spit out workers and temples spit out priests. Trading houses spit out money. As you change your dwellings and buildings, your race’s economy shifts. You need to balance your expansion to ensure you can pay for everything you want to do.
There’s a LOT going on in this game. And a game only lasts an hour or so with 2 players. Weirdly it still has the feel of a “big” game. As your little race spreads across the board, there’s a good strong feeling of development and expansion. It’s hugely satisfying.
It’s hard to pin down exactly why Terra Mystica works as well as it does. Certainly, it’s a game with a lot of play in it. You choose a race and you play a game with that race, okay? Then you finish up and think “I could have done so much better.” You play with that race again. This time you have more of an understanding of how the race’s special power is supposed to help you. Your Witches start springing up dwellings in distant patches of forest. It helps you link your towns. You get it. “I get it! Let’s go again!”
You realise that there are FOURTEEN different races in the box. All of them play differently. Great, right?
But it’s also the reason why this game is not yet on my list. I think it’s a SUPERB game. I can’t wait to play it again and again and again. But it’s just not ready to be placed on any lists yet. I’m sure it’s good enough to be on there, but it’s just not ready yet. Maybe next year’s list, huh? Check it out anyway. If you like this kind of Eurogame, if you like the whole puzzle of that whole “maximising your score” thing, then I’d say that Terra Mystica is a must for you.
THE PALACES OF CARRARA
I love this game. I wrote about it HERE.
Palaces is a weird game. I find it SO relaxing. The game comes with an expansion in the box (for the “advanced” game) but I find the basic game so chilled out and fun that I’ve been pretty much just mainlining that thing the whole time. I’ve only recently started digging into the expansion stuff, and it REALLY DOES make the game even better. I want to spend more time with it before I put it on any list on this planet. But it WILL be on the list. I like the game that much. Another Eurogame, and another great one.
It’s hard to find in English, I think. Still no reprint. Make sure to pick it up wherever you can.
ONE NIGHT ULTIMATE WEREWOLF
Oh my WORD.
We’ve all played Werewolf, right? You might know it as MAFIA. It’s a game where most people are villagers, and a couple of people are werewolves. At “night”, everyone closes their eyes and the werewolf players kill a victim. By “day”, everyone votes for who to hang. WHO IS THE WEREWOLF? It’s a game of bluff and psychology. A true classic.
Can the game really be played in ten minutes? Taking place over one “night”?
In One Night Ultimate Werewolf, everyone is assigned a role. Werewolf, Villager, Hunter, Troublemaker – there are a good amount of roles in the box, each with different abilities. Everyone closes their eyes and sleeps. The werewolves open their eyes to see each other. The Masons open their eyes to see each other. The Troublemaker switches roles. The doppelganger becomes the double of another player. Every active role does their thing. And then…
Then WAKE UP and the timer starts. Ten minutes to discuss, argue, fight, lie, bluff and laugh as the players choose who to execute. The villagers need to kill the werewolves. The werewolves just need to survive.
This game is SO good. It’s only not on the list because I just started playing it about six weeks ago. It’s a beautifully illustrated little set of role cards in a box. That’s all it is. But MAN – the good times you can have with this game you would not believe. If you have a group of players who enjoy making some noise and playing dirty, this will become one of your favourite games EVER after one night of play. It’s remarkable how this little ten minute game can play out so differently every time. It rewards creative thinking, and is constantly surprising.
Consider it on the list even though it isn’t. And BUY IT if you haven’t yet. It’s incredible.
Oh, there’s other stuff I feel bad about missing from the list. Catacombs, for example. Fleet Captains. Twilight Struggle. Labyrinth. Runewars.
They all just need more plays, that’s all. THAT’S ALL.
At last! The Top Ten! We finish the LIST!