Table top gamers worldwide start planning to part with their money twice a year. One is after Essen Spiel, which is held in Germany in October. Focused more on European board games, which are more strategy and game mechanics based, that event is set to take place next month.
The other, more popular event is Gen Con, which takes place in the United States in August. After pouring through the dozens of games showcased last month, here are the five that have made an impression.
Truth be told, I was not very keen on this game at the beginning. It looked very much like a generic worker placement game with a Sci-Fi theme, and that was it. That being said, all reviews of the game I have seen were not only positive, but glowing, and my favourite board game reviewer, Tom Vasel, even said it was his favourite game released so far this year!
Cry Havoc is an asymmetrical game about multiple factions landing on a bountiful alien planet. Each faction has their own goals, and a hostile native population in resistance to them (which can be playable depending on player count). The player at the end of the game with the most points wins the game.
Mechanically, the card system is the core that steers the game. Each card can be used in multiple ways but the unique factor of Cry Havoc is the combat. In combat, you choose how to deploy your forces to either win the battle, capture or kill enemy soldiers. Winning the battle results in the control of the area, capturing your enemy (only maximum 1 per battle) means that the captured unit is out of the game and prisoners breaks ties for winning the game and killing results in removing units from the battle and main board but they go back to that player’s reserve.
But the main reason I am extremely eager to play this game, is because it plays in 90 minutes or less. A quick game that offers a debt of choices and a unique combat system. Sign me up, beam me down and Cry Havoc!
4. Roll Player
Roleplaying is where one can become Conan the Barbarian, Frodo or Mr Burns, depending on your preference. And arguably, the best part of any RPG is in creating a character you will be taking on an adventure.
This is what Roll Player does. At the start, you pick a race (each player board has both male and female sides), class, alignment and a backstory. From there, you use a dice to achieve the desired character traits. Each attribute has unique powers when dice are placed in them, and item cards allow a player to mitigate the luck of rolling the dice. At the end of the game, the player who achieves the most desired character as per their traits by points, wins.
This game hits me on so many levels. It is a fast game which takes about an hour. Where there is a randomness with the dice, the game offers choices which are still meaningful, such as how to manipulate the dice and purchasing choices such as collecting a complete set of armour. The art by John Ariosa helps to add so much flavour into roleplaying during the game and by the time you are done, you’re inclined to take a picture of your character, and port him over to a roleplaying game as an NPC, or even as a playable character, because the game has fleshed the character into something substantial.
While I am keen to play the game, the game is mostly in the hands of Kickstarter backers, with few retail copies available from Gen Con. Sadly, this is one game that might take a while to go on sale.
The boardgaming world is luckier than the PC gaming one when it comes to licensed games, simply because few licensed board game properties end up being the rubbish adaptation that their PC counterparts end up becoming.
In Bloodborne, you play a hunter battling a horde of monsters and bosses like in the video game, except that instead of a storyline, you are trying to be the best hunter by having the most blood banked at the end of the game.
The game mechanics are card driven, and are effectively your actions. The game very much mimics the toughness of the video game as each time you hit the enemy, you get blood tokens. But when the monster attacks, it hits all players. And with an exploding dice system that can result in high amounts of accumulated damage, this means that any player can die at the end of any player’s turn, and not just their own.
And if any player does die without playing the hunter’s dream card, and bank the blood tokens he has gathered, those tokens are all lost. Also noteworthy is the player who lands the killing blow on the monster. He will be the only one to get a bonus, and thus player interaction and sabotage play a huge role in this game.
Bloodborne: The Card Game does the video game’s theme justice, is confrontational and has a great push your luck aspect that sees you trying to outguess and outplay the other players. All this is delivered in less than an hour, and this is a game that everyone cannot wait to die for.
Bejeweled is the obvious inspiration for Potion Explosion. The game has players take on the role of a student at a Sorcery Academy, making potions to impress the professor, to show that they are the greatest magic user in the graduating class. This is done by picking ingredients, and mixing them to complete potions.
Players pick a marble out of the dispenser, which causes all the marbles in a column to roll down with a satisfying clack and if the marbles match, players take all the ones of the same colour. And if this removal causes a chain again, players take those marbles, so on and so forth.
Players can only keep a certain number of ingredients, and make only 2 potions at a time though. Sometimes, it is actually more profitable to take less ingredients, to prevent a chain reaction for your opponents. Players can also mitigate the luck factor in the game by asking the professor for help, or by “drinking” the potions made, to give themselves some in game benefits.
The player at the end of the game with the best amount of potions/points is the winner. Story wise, the game does a decent job and is helped a lot by the aesthetic of the game. But at it’s heart, potion explosion’s main draw is it’s mechanics.
This game intrigues me because it is one of the rare tabletop game that you can bring to the table, and play with anyone and everyone. The rules are simple, and the Bejeweled gameplay is fun for many. The game style can easily draw a crowd, and the game can be done in less than 40 minutes. Let’s just say I can’t wait to be addicted to this game.
I am cheating a bit with this one, as I have already played this game recently. I can safely say that it is a combination of awesome sauce, with a generous amount of sprinkles. Captain Sonar is a real time or turn based game played by 8 players or less, though it seems to be best played with 8, and in real time).
Each team commands a submarine battling to destroy the other and each side consists of a Commander, Radio Officer, Engineer and First Mate (Hence the need for 8 players).
Each player has their own unique player boards they mark with marker pens, that reflect the movement of the submarine, fires torpedoes, readies scanning systems, does repairs, etc. All this in done as the Commander gives an order on where the submarine is heading. Each team member must do their job in order, and all in real time, with the knowledge and stress knowing that the crew of the enemy submarine might be doing it faster or better, or both.
This is an amazing party game once everybody gets the rules down, and during my sessions, almost everybody wanted to play it more than once. I have even played it 3 times in a row, and that session ended only because 2 players needed to leave.
Each game usually lasts about 15 minutes or less, and is highly interactive between all players and teams. It promotes teamwork and is a must try.