The Quick 10: The Top 10 Board/Card Games for 2010
Food isn't the only reason I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. I think I told you last week that when the weather turns cold and it's dark out at 4:30 p.m., I love nothing more than game night. However, since it's just my husband and me, the board games we can play are kind of limited. With so many people gathered for Thanksgiving (and in a small town with not so much as a Walmart), I have all kinds of opportunity to inflict board games on people. I can't wait. If you're the same way and looking for something new to throw in to the mix this year, check out the 10 top games for 2010 according to Games Magazine (they do the top 100 every year, conveniently right before Christmas!).
1. Small World wins Game of the Year. D&D lovers, this might be for you. Dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and humans are all battling to expand their land and defeat everyone else trying to expand their own and encroach on personal territory. It kind of sounds like a cross between Lord of the Rings and Ages of Empires, doesn't it? And there are expansion packs "“ Small World Cursed! gives you goblins and kobolds to worry about; Grand Dames of Small World introduces the females with Priestesses, Gypsies and White Ladies. Each race of people comes with pros and cons, of course, so choose wisely at the beginning of the game.
2. Blox takes the Abstract Strategy division. This is a game where you build towers, but don't think Jenga. Instead of sharing one tower, each player has to compete to build their own, deciding when the opportune time to raze someone else's structure is while protecting your own at the same time.
3. Le Havre is the game to play if you're into Advanced Strategy. Like a little Sim City, you're working on developing the town of Le Havre. There's a lot going on here "“ you have to worry about goods, harvest, food, buildings, ships and cash reserves. The person with the most successful town at the end of the game wins.
4. Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age is what you should invest in for family game night, since it was voted the Best Family Board Game. Educational and fun "“ what more could you ask for in a game? Here you have to build more than just a town "“ you have to build an entire civilization. And you only have an hour. Good luck with that.
5. Amerigo is the Best Family Card game (probably a little bit easier to throw in the car when you're headed for grandma's house for the holidays). And, bonus: it's another educational game! Ready to travel the world in search of goods and riches? You can set sail with nothing but a deck of cards. The more you venture out, the cooler stuff you'll find "“ but you also have to spend time coming back to market to sell your goods, so you have to decide just how far it's worth going.
6. Dominion takes the title for Best Family Strategy game. It's also a card game "“ you're trying to gather the most of a certain type of card. There are Treasure cards, Victory cards, Kingdom cards and Curses. You buy these cards, fending off your competitors who are trying to do the same to expand their dominions as well. And if you get bored with it, there are four expansion packs to keep play interesting.
7. Dixit wins Best Party game, which is typically the type of game I'm after. It's really unique and unlike any game I've ever heard of. Everyone gets six cards with a single picture per card except for the "storyteller," who gets one card. The storyteller looks at the card and decides on a word that describes the picture. Then everyone throws one card into the pile (like Apples to Apples), including the storyteller's single card, and everyone has to guess which one was the storyteller's card based on the word he or she gave. If everyone guesses or if no one guesses, that's zero points for the storyteller "“ so the key is to be a little abstract in your description, but not ridiculously so. Otherwise, the storyteller and the people who guessed the correct card each get three points. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins. Bonus: the cards are gorgeous!
8. La Ora Stelo will satisfy your need for a brainteaser, as this is the Best Puzzle game. If 10,000 piece puzzles are a joke to you, perhaps you'll find this challenging. Honestly, I don't even know how to explain this one, so I'm just going to borrow the description from Games:
La Ora Stelo is a remarkably novel polyform puzzle, with pieces based on two types of isosceles triangles whose side lengths are related by the golden ratio. The golden ratio is an irrational number known as phi (approximately equal to 1.61803...), and has more interesting properties than you could shake a slide rule at (anyone remember those?). When up to three of these triangles are combined edge-to-edge in all possible ways, they form a set of 32 tiles called polyores. Phi is very common in formulas relating to pentagons, so it is no surprise that this set rests in a pentagonal tray. It also has five small black tiles to fill the center. At least nine other sizes of pentagons can be constructed with a subset of all the tiles.
9. Fields of Fire is 2010's best Historical Simulation game. It's yet another card game (they must be popular this year) that has you waging war. The settings range from WWII to present day, and you get appropriate terrains for each, so between that and the cards that dictate your weapons and style of combat, no two games are ever the same.
10. Jumbulaya is actually the winner of the Best Word Game for 2009, but since Games didn't appear to declare a Best Word Game for 2010, we'll go with last year's. You know this is smart game because it gets the Mensa seal of approval, winning the Mensa Select Award in 2008. It's like Scrabble with more twists and turns. You can scramble words already on the board, you get letter-combo tiles, you can trade tiles, and if you can spot a way to make a Jumbulaya (a seven, eight, or nine letter word) by using any of the above strategies, you get bonus points.
Of course, there are the always-fabulous games in stock in the mental_floss store, including our own brand of quirky trivia. Strange that it seems to be left off of Games' top 10 list"¦ hmm. An oversight, I'm sure.
I will be toting Loaded Questions, The Game of Things, Scattergories and perhaps Scene It to my in-laws' house. Those in addition to the usual cut-throat game of Monopoly, of course (I'm serious. They're vicious). Is there any game in particular your family gathers around the table for without fail? And have you tried any of these?