Why Board Games are Awesome

"Step away from video games and lose your self in the world of board games!"

In a time where the number of digital forms of entertainment is constantly increasing and their quality improving, many people tend to overlook board and card based games. Throughout the course of this article, I hope to manage to persuade at least a handful of people to step away from their video games for a moment, and delve into the possibilities of board games.

Each of the games listed in this article have been played multiple times, and have been given a rating for their enjoyment, replay value, ease of learning, and overall design.

 

Game of Thrones: Second Edition

Game of Thrones fans will find this board game very enjoyable. Whether fans of the books, the show, or both, everyone will love the design of the cards and game board.

The game board itself is a map of Westeros, and is divided into many separate territories, from Winterfell in the far north, to Sunspear in the far south. The game itself adapts to the number of players taking part; if only three people are playing, the southern areas of Westeros (such as Highgarden and Dorne) are not available for players to enter.

The aim of the game is for players to successfully conquer 7 strongholds or castles, or to have the most strongholds or castles by the end of the tenth turn. In order to do so, players must move their army figures into adjacent territories during their movement phase. At the start of each turn (excluding the first turn), three Westeros cards are revealed, each with its own special event, which can drastically change the course of the game. These events can range anywhere from nothing happening, to wildlings attacking the wall. 

Combat is completed through simple point values. Each army figure is worth a certain amount of points: Footmen and Ships contribute 1 point, Knights contribute 2 points, and Siege Towers contribute 4 points (only when attacking strongholds and castles, otherwise they provide 0 points). Players are only able to increase the size of their army if the Mustering card is drawn from the Westeros Card decks; this means that during a single game, it is entirely possible for armies to stay at their starting size, or alternatively, to expand rapidly throughout the game.

One of the most interesting parts of the Game of Thrones - and definitely the point that will cause the most conflict during the game - is the alliances. While the game doesn’t have any set rules about making allies or enemies, players can themselves request an alliance with other players. Of course, as is the way of Game of Thrones, alliances don’t always last very long. It’s very common for players to take advantage of another player’s trust, especially if it makes the difference between victory and defeat.

Enjoyment: 7/10

Replay value: 3/10

Ease of learning: 2/10

Design: 9.5/10

Overall Score: 5.5/10 

While the game itself is great, and is put together and designed extremely well, the set-up time and sheer amount of information to learn can be very off-putting. Setting up the game can take anywhere from a few minutes, to half an hour; with a game generally lasting an hour or two. I would not generally recommend for people with a short attention span, or those who are not fans of the books or show.

 

Boss Monster

(including Tools of Hero-kind Expansion)

Have you ever played a dungeon exploration game, and wanted to play as the bad guy? Boss Monster offers just that. Boss Monster allows each player to take the role of a “Boss Monster”, in charge of constructing a dungeon that is both deadly to the heroes to enter, but also rewarding enough to attract the heroes.

Each player randomly chooses one of the eight ‘Boss Monster’ cards, and must then aim to successfully defeat a total of 15 heroes who enter his or her dungeon. Players simultaneously take their turns, starting with the build phase during which players are able to construct a single room; however, each player’s dungeon can only have a maximum of 5 rooms, making it vital to plan ahead to make sure the dungeon does not allow too many heroes to pass through. 

As well as rooms each player is able to cast spells, which can be used to achieve a wide range of things, from teleporting a hero back to the start of your dungeon, to increasing the strength of a hero in another player’s dungeon. Spell cards however, are much harder to obtain. Players receive one room card at the start of each turn, but only receive spell cards if a card dictates as much.

Each and every card is a reference to some sort of pop-culture. From the obvious Super Mario references, to Game of Thrones references, to Magic: The Gathering references. The overall design of the game is themed around old 8-bit video games, and provides lots of humour in some of the card descriptions.

Enjoyment: 9/10

Replay value: 7/10

Ease of learning: 9/10

Design: 9/10

Overall Score: 8.5/10

The game has a great sense of humour, and provides players with a fresh new perspective in side-scrolling dungeon games. The only downside of the game is that after playing it several times, it’s very common for the same scenarios to play out over and over again. Once someone reaches the point of having a completed dungeon, and is able to defeat the toughest heroes, there is very little other players are able to do to hinder their progress.

 

Smash Up

(including Expansions)

Smash Up is all about combining two factions to form an unlikely alliance, with the aim of conquering bases with a larger force than your opponents, in order to gain Victory Points and be declared the winner. 

The game starts by each player randomly choosing two decks of cards, each containing one unique faction. These can be anything from Pirates, Spies, or Robots, to the more obscure factions Killer Plants, Shape-shifters, or Cybernetic Apes. Each faction has its own strengths and weaknesses, from moving or destroying other player’s minions, to allowing extra minions or actions to be played.

Each player takes it in turn to play one minion, and/or one action onto a base. Once the combined power of all players’ minions equals or exceeds the break-point of the base, the player with the most power on that base receives the base-allocated points for first place, the second highest takes the second place points, and the third highest player takes third place. For players who come in fourth place or lower, there are no points awarded. Once one player has reached a total of 15 points, they are declared the winner. Should two people exceed 15 points at the same time, whoever has the most points is declared the winner. 

Each faction has its own strengths and weaknesses, meaning the pairing faction is able to benefit in one of two ways; either by amplifying the original faction’s strength, or by covering its weakness. For example, Wizards are designed around playing extra actions per turn, while Robots are designed around playing extra minions – the two together allow you to amass a huge force in just a single turn, as well as providing additional actions. 

Enjoyment: 9/10

Replay value: 9/10

Ease of learning: 8/10

Design: 10/10

Overall Score: 9/10

Smash Up is one of those games which can be played over and over again with drastically different results. The set up for each game is very simple, and only takes a couple of minutes at the most, as does tidying the game away.

 

Munchkin


Munchkin takes you and your friends on an epic journey through a classic dungeon filled with monsters, traps, and most importantly: treasure! 

The aim of the game is to successfully reach Level 10 by any means necessary. However, while your ultimate goal is to reach level 10 before any other player, you may occasionally find yourself in need of assistance from your fellow players, as you may not be able to defeat certain monsters alone, requiring you to join forces with another player in order to advance.

A game of Munchkin can last anywhere from a few minutes, to over an hour, depending on the number of players, and how lucky people get with card draws. Each player has his or her own character, to which they must equip weapons and armour in order to receive bonuses during combat. As well as weapons and armour, players can also change their class and race throughout the game; for example, a player may start as a Halfling Thief, but may have changed to an Elven Wizard by the time the game has finished.

While it is entirely possible to win the game with no bonuses from weapons or armour, other players will be doing everything they can to stop you. Munchkin features a range of different cards which can be used to help or hinder other players; from potions which can either add to a player or monster’s strength, to curses which can make a player instantly lose levels.

With such a huge variety of different items and monsters, no two games will ever be exactly the same. Since the game relies heavily on drawing cards, at any point, a player can very quickly go from last place to first place in just a couple of turns.

Munchkin also has several expansions, each of which adds many new and unique cards, each with their own very well designed artwork and humour.

Enjoyment: 10/10

Replay value: 9/10

Ease of learning: 10/10

Design: 10/10

Overall Score: 9.5/10

Munchkin is one of those games that can be played over and over again, with completely different outcomes each time. The game only takes moments to set up, and can last anywhere from a few minutes, to an hour, and almost always results in a completely fresh game. The rulebook is very well presented and clearly laid

out, making the game very easy to pick up; in fact, it’s so simple that you could even learn whilst slightly drunk.

 

King of Tokyo

(including Power Up! Expansion)

Join your friends in King of Tokyo, and put your monster up against theirs, seeing how far you can push them before they flee from Tokyo, leaving you to rule as its true King!

Players are given the choice of 6 different monsters; from Gigazaur – a giant lizard – to the Cyber Bunny – a homicidal rabbit with a mech suit. The Power Up! expansion adds another monster into the fray – the Pandakai – along with a new feature: evolution.

Evolution allows monsters to become even more powerful by adding certain abilities, such as Gigazaur’s ‘Detachable Tail’ evolution, which allows him to avoid any damage in any one turn; or Alienoid’s ‘Superior Alien Technology’, which allows the player to purchase upgrade cards at half price.

Players take it in turns rolling a total of 6 dice, and are then allowed to re-roll any of the dice up to two extra times. All of the dice have 6 different symbols, each representing different events. Claws represent attacking another player, Lightning Bolts represent gaining energy (used to purchase upgrade cards), Hearts represent healing, and finally the numbers 1,2, and 3 represent 1 point, 2 points, and 3 points, respectively – but only if three of the same number is rolled.

The general aim of the game is to be the only monster alive, or to accumulate a total of 20 victory points, which can be earned in a variety of different ways. Entering Tokyo gains 1 victory point, and holding onto Tokyo until your turn will net you another 2 points. The upgrade cards also contain ways of earning victory points, as well as many other effects, from healing, to dealing damage, to rolling extra dice.

Enjoyment: 10/10

Replay value: 10/10

Ease of learning: 10/10

Design: 9/10

Overall Score: 9.5/10

King of Tokyo can be played repeatedly, with whole new outcomes each time. Players can rapidly change their tactics mid-game, and can easily come from behind to win. With the introduction of the evolution cards, each monster brings its own unique strengths, allowing players to switch to a different monster to experience a whole new style of play. The design is excellent, bright, and providesa lot of humour. The only improvement that could be made is to the monster stands themselves; currently, monsters are represented as cardboard cut-outs with a small plastic stand. If these were replaced with actual 3D figures, the game (in my opinion) would be flawless. It provides a great laugh, includes plenty of strategy, and never fails to entertain. 

 

That's it for now, but I hope that this brief insight into some great board games on the market at the moment will convince some of you to pick them up and try them out!

This has been Evil Josh, writing for The Awesome Update.

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