Published on April 17th, 2013 | by Nicole Jekich
Just The Good Stuff
Give Me Some of That Good Stuff
Like I mentioned in my previous biography article, I appreciate games that are the opposite of my adolescent experience with Monopoly. I enjoy games that are quick, pretty, and most importantly fun!Below are five criteria that my most favorite games share in common:
1. Collaborative or Cooperative play:
Board games are always a great way to bring fun and interaction into an otherwise dull get together like church gatherings or large family reunions or birthday parties where no one knows each other. At events like these I enjoy games that have the group working towards a common goal. Cooperative games are the best, and most fun, team building exercise that could create lasting friendships (my current group of friends being a great example). I enjoy competitive games too, but I highly recommend trying a cooperative game in a roomful of strangers over a game that may alienate new gamers. Cooperative games also keep hardcore gamers in check that otherwise could more easily dominate winner-take-all games and squash newbie players. As part of the gaming community, I feel that gamers are responsible for first impressions to new players. As gaming becomes more part of the mainstream, more and more people are testing the waters of gaming as adults. A welcoming environment is very important in order to create more board game fans like ourselves.
Games like Flash Point, Pandemic and Shadows Over Camelot are all high-risk games where players work together and win as a team. These games (with the exception of Shadows Over Camelot) are short games, only 1-2 hours long and are easy to learn from opening the box. Pandemic and Flashpoint are similar: players play specialized roles in trying to avert disasters. With Pandemic, players are trying to reduce the number of outbreaks of four diseases and Flash Point players are specialized fire fighters rescuing people from a burning building, putting out the fire and carefully removing any hazardous materials that may intensify the blaze. In Shadows Over Camelot, everyone is a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table. Knights are expected to go on dangerous quests, fight off invading Saxons, challenge The Black Knight and protect Camelot.
2. Quick and Easy to Learn:
I think if someone presented me Through the Ages as my first board game experience after Monopoly that my head would have exploded and that I would have ended any further exploration into games. As I play more games and have more gaming experiences to pull from, the less complicated certain games and rules become. Board games have a learning curve much like literature. Just as handing a second grader “Grapes of Wrath” or any book by Alexander Dumas would be torture, most new gamers shouldn’t be expected to learn and like board games if their first experience is Twilight Imperium.
Great games for beginners should be obvious in the rule book. Do the rules take up one page? Is the turn order clear and well organized? How long does this game take from start to finish? These are all important questions for me as I enjoy games that aren’t too complicated. I’ll mention Days of Wonder games a lot in my posts as this company produces games that meet all my criteria consistently. Many of their games are on the less complicated side and are great as beginner games like Smallworld, which was my first. Right now, I prefer games that are less than 3 hours long, but the more games I play the more I understand and accept more complicated scenarios.
3. High Production Values:
I can totally judge a board game by its cover, especially if I’m buying it. A game on my game shelf needs to look presentable, cohesive and should have practical packaging. Form, function and content are just as important to board games as it is for video games, books, movies and other forms of entertainment.
Days of Wonder is a board game company that consistently churns out gorgeous looking games with specialized game pieces and a unified art style by using the same cover artist. With no surprise, Days of Wonder also produces stunning games such as Ticket to Ride, Smallworld, Cargo Noir, Memoir 44 and Mystery at the Abbey just to name a few. Tokaido by Fun Forge is another game that is making waves due to its gorgeous packaging and art style. I have yet to play the game but the goal is to have the most enjoyable vacation based on seeing the sites, relaxing in hot springs and enjoying good food, which sounds like a perfect themed game to me.
4. Interesting Theme:
Speaking of theme, there are so many varieties of board games that there is a game for everyone. For example, I love games involving Roman or Greek history and mythology. If I were to only play those themed games I would have plenty of options. I have my favorites like Glory to Rome, Through the Ages, 7 Wonders, but according to search results, I could also choose from over 50 other board games with ‘Rome’ in their title.
I guarantee that there is a themed board game out there for every heart’s desire. From the licensed Battlestar Galactica with its brutal hunt for the cylon, to A La Carte where players are literally throwing spices into their cooking pot, there is something for everyone. Do you want a game where you are a fashion designer looking to make her name known by entering fashion shows across the world? Prête-à-Porter will scratch that itch. Do you want to gather your friends for an afternoon to reenact key battles in WWII with army figurines and airships? Memoir 44 is the army men game for adults who love combat and strategy. Do these games I mention seem to be beneath your superior being? Then play Chaos in the Old World where you can play as the God of Pestilence gaining power and influence by devouring cities in plague. Just watch out for the three other gods trying to do the same.
5. It’s Fun!!
Games need to be fun and that is really the only criteria that a person needs to enjoy a game. There are a handful of games that I enjoy playing that don’t share all of these criteria, but they are at very least fun. Like Agricola. I have no idea why I enjoy Agricola so much. The box art is ugly, the game is long and arduous and I’m playing a farmer who is just trying to plant crops, raise livestock and support her growing family. It is good to try new board games outside of your preferences because you never know if you will like them. They could always surprise you!
I talked a lot about great games for new gamers and beginners, so my next article will be the first of many in my “Top 5” series and will highlight the best games for beginners.