Sometimes, when a board game loves a personal computer very much, they create something new. Fanatical have got seven digified board games on sale, and there are some gooduns tucked between those I’m not familiar with. Small World 2 and Splendor are my highlights, though there’s also the likes of Pandemic, Carcassonne, Mysterium and Ticket To Ride.
Digital board games tend to be a poor substitute for playing against real world fleshsacks. But sometimes there are no fleshsacks within reach.
Fanatic have taken a leaf out of Humble’s book, selling their goods in tiers. £0.69/$1 gets you a threesome, £3.59/$5 gets you some more, and £7.15/$10 gets you the job lot.
The lowest tier features deece-o territory control in Small World 2, collaborative psychic ghost cluedo in Mysterium, and ‘Chinese checkers but slicker I guess’ in Abalone. The digital version of Mysterium is fun, but it’s a shadow of the tabletop one. Here’s Pip (RPS in peace) doing an excellent job of explaining why in her review, and me explaining why it’s my go-to example for how physical board games escape the immutability of videogames. It’d still totally be worth the price of a pack of crisps, even if it didn’t come bundled with Small World 2 – which benefits from a computer handling all the faff.
Tier two has cooperative disease scouring in Pandemic, rolling, moving and yawning in Talisman, and pleasant jewel collecting in Splendor. Pandemic is a classic in all the right ways, and Talisman a classic in all the wrong ones. I’ve got a real soft spot for Splendor, though. It’s a gentle beast, with a satisfying arc to every ten minute game. Playing in cyberspace does mean you don’t get to handle its lovely chips, mind.
The illustrious heights of tier three let you assemble a splodge of rural France in Carcassone, and train tracks in Ticket To Ride. I haven’t played the digital versions of either, but the origi-cardboard takes are both… nice. They elicit no strong opinions from me, but I know a lot of people who have a lot of love for Carcassone.