We’re living in a sort of Golden Age of board games. When you say “board games,” many people surely think you mean Monopoly and Scrabble, or possibly checkers. But modern board games have advanced miles past those dusty classics. Today’s games are colorful, clever, captivating, and just plain fun.
The trick is finding people to play them. In high school I had a group of friends that got together every weekend to play games, but that was (cough-cough) almost sixty years ago. Adults tend to have jobs, families, vacation plans, and other commitments.
But I’m not giving up. Below are some snapshots of games that you may find yourself playing if you drop in to one of my monthly board game evenings. First Sunday of every month, 6:00 to 9:00 — or starting at 5:00 if you want to come early for pizza or Chinese takeout. If you live in the Livermore/Pleasanton area and you’re not on my email contact list for game night but you’d like to be, send me a message!
Azul is a beautiful abstract game in which your goal is to fill your mat with colored tiles in certain patterns. Here’s Azul Summer Pavilion set up for three players. (In most of these photos, all of the players are me, which is why all of the player mats are facing the camera.)
In Tiny Epic Galaxies, you’re supposedly sending your rocket ships out to colonize planets. Every planet card that you add to your empire gives you an extra power and adds to your points, but you’re at the mercy of the dice. Not shown is the Beyond The Black expansion, which adds pilots with special abilities and also the danger of encountering meteor storms or a black hole:
Castles of Burgundy is possibly my favorite game. Every turn you’ll have some interesting choices, and come-from-behind victories are quite possible, because there are lots of ways to get points. The basic mechanic is, you’re selecting hexagonal tiles from the central area and then placing them on your mat. You can add buildings, farm animals, castles, sailing ships, mines, or tiles that give you special powers.
Nova Luna is a simple but competitive game in which you add colored tiles to your play area and try to position them so as to complete certain patterns (called tasks). The first player to place all 20 of their disks on their tiles wins!
I’ll be uploading more photos soon. This blog entry is intended to be both an invitation and a compendium. I have some great two-player games, such as Hive (see below), Onitama, Santorini, and Yinsh. My favorite games for three to five players include Istanbul, Stone Age, Castles of Burgundy, Century Spice Road, Clank!, Dominion, and Wingspan. In the really challenging department, we might play Five Tribes, Bonfire, Mystic Vale, Lorenzo il Magnifico, Trajan, Merv, Call to Adventure, Tobago, or Lost Ruins of Arnak.
Oh, and by the way, I don’t even care whether I win. I do play competitively, but I’m just as happy to see someone else emerge victorious. Maybe we’ll have trophies. Do you think trophies would help?
Concordia is a fairly complex game. It’s partly a deck builder, partly resource management, and partly area control. You’re in ancient Rome, and your goal is to build buildings in various cities. Buildings will earn you more resources, but first you have to pay for them with brick and other commodities, plus cash. Up to five can play.
Here’s Hive, a two-player game with no board, just hexagons that buzz around. The game is vaguely like chess, but quicker-moving. Your goal is to surround your opponent’s Queen Bee.
Splendor is an engine-builder with cards. To get a card, you have to have the right combination of gemstones, which can be either the attractively chunky poker chips or cards you already have. Getting a “visit from a noble” (the tiles along the top) will boost your score. Here’s the opening setup; the players haven’t yet started adding cards to their personal arrays.
More photos soon.
I remember well those weekends.
Hey, Terry — Great to hear from you. It’s been years! Let’s stay in touch. Drop me an email.