In my last post, I discussed how board games have impacted my life, and how they can help bring people together. Some games do this better than others. I may not have played a vast number of board games, but of the ones that I have, these are the ones that I have found to provide the most consistently fun experiences and worthy post-board-game-night stories. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to try as many of these games as possible. You won’t be disappointed.
Image from fox.mmgn.com
In Munchkin, you start out as a level 1 character with no powers, abilities, or shiny things to make you more powerful. The aim of the game is to acquire loot, defeat monsters, acquire more loot, defeat bigger monsters, and eventually be the first Munchkin to reach level 10 and win the game.
Does this sound pretty dry and repetitive? Well, imagine that you’re facing up against parodies of classic gaming and pop culture tropes. In Munchkin, you can defeat Great Cthulhu with the Necronookiecon, or defeat a robotic version of Queen Victoria with a cane version of a gunsaw. The strength of Munchkin is its sense of humour. Whilst the game is mostly pretty balanced, the cards will often have you chuckling throughout your entire game due to the sheer insanity of the humour.
There are a host of different versions of Munchkin, with a unique setting in each. My personal favourites are Munchkin Cthulhu, Adventure Time Munchkin, and Munchkin Steampunk. If you’re interested to see how Munchkin plays, check out famous geek Will Wheaton play the game with Steve Jackson (the creator of Munchkin) and some of his friends here.
Image from The Nerds’ Table
In Love Letter, you are one of up to four suitors vying for the affections of a princess. Each turn, you play one of two possible cards to try and eliminate the other suitors from the round. If you are the last suitor remaining in a particular round, or you have the card of highest number value of the players left, you win a token of the princess’ affection. The first person to a set number of tokens wins the game (this varies depending on the number of players in the game).
What I adore about Love Letter is the amount of game you get for its size. Some games take up a large box. Love Letter is 16 cards, 4 rules cards, and the tokens of affection, all stored in a small cloth bag. It is perfect for occupying down times when travelling. Like Munchkin, there are a host of different versions of Love Letter, from Munchkin to Batman to my personal favourite, Adventure Time (you may be seeing a trend here). It is simple to explain and play, but has high replay value because of the shenanigans possible with the effects of each card. Watch Will Wheaton and co. play Love Letter here!
King of Tokyo
Image from davidkelly.me
In King of Tokyo, each player takes control of a monster. Players take turns rolling dice to see which monster will be crowned King of Tokyo by earning the most victory points or simply smashing the other monsters into the ground. During the course of the game, players can upgrade their monsters to have things like poison spit or psychic probes, each of which has unique gameplay effects.
King of Tokyo is probably my favourite quick and simple board game. It looks great, the game is well-balanced, it is easy to explain, and every person that I have played it with has loved it. There is great replay value due to the different monsters and the quick nature of the game. Games take between 20-40 minutes, so no-one’s brain is going to hurt overly much after a game or two. This game is great for families, game nights, and for anyone who enjoys playing with monsters and having fun. Watch Will Wheaton and friends play it here.
Image from fantization.com
If King of Tokyo is probably my favourite quick and easy game, Cosmic Encounter is probably my favourite game of a higher complexity. Whilst it is still not a whole-day-spanning, sprawling game like the Twilight Imperiums of the world, there is a depth of play in Cosmic Encounter that is far greater than the other games on this list.
In Cosmic Encounter, each player chooses one of 50 possible alien races. Each race has a unique power that breaks the rules of the game in some way. The players will use their powers during encounters with other players. These encounters revolve around encounter cards, which can be peaceful or aggressive. However, these cards are played face-down, so the possibility for shenanigans is high. A player wins the game by securing five colonies in other players’ territories. Unlike most games, multiple players can win the game at the same time. Here is a video explaining the game in a simple, accessible, and quick way.
Cosmic Encounter is a phenomenal game. From the sheer variety of powers available, to the heated discussions that happen during the encounters themselves, some of my fondest memories from game nights come from Cosmic Encounter. This is a game where almost anything is possible, and slyness and fast-talking ability are rewarded.
So, from the simple beauty of Love Letter, to the smashing fun of King of Tokyo, to kicking down doors in Munchkin, or shenanigans in space with Cosmic Encounter, these are my four favourite tabletop games right now. Many games came close to making it, but there is just something special about each of these four games. If you want to play a good game, you can’t go wrong with any of these, in my personal opinion. The great thing about games is that everyone has their own favourites. For some more good recommendations, check out TableTop (the video series by Will Wheaton I’ve linked multiple times already) or the BoardGameGeek leaderboards. There are board games for you. Go out and find them!