Welcome to Board Game Basics, it’s the part of the site where the focus is on getting started in the hobby of playing table top games. So, whether you’re looking for a game to buy or play as part of your budding repertoire, or if you’re just looking for some how/what/and why to for some classic’s you may never have experienced, this area is for you.
You’ve crossed the threshold of the Gateway Games and you like what you’ve seen, the question however remains; what next? Here I aim to advise you in making your next great gaming decision in what I’m calling:
5 Great Pathway Games
Pathway games, Level 2 games, Next Step games, call them what you will, but the point is much like the previous post in this series, these are just 5 great games (in no particular order) that are perfect if you are looking for something a little more. These all have a few key things in common which I think make for great Pathway Games:
- These are all ‘Big Titles’ so should be readily available in your Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS) or on-line – unlike Gateway Games these probably won’t be on sale in toy and book shops.
- Reasonable price tags, these games may be a little bit more expensive than a Gateway Game but won’t cost you much more than £40/£45.
- Weight, I don’t mean the of the box, this is the term we used when describing the complexity of the game, these game are all of a low to medium weight, meaning they are a little more complex then Gateway and party games, but it won’t take you hours to go through the rule book, and once you’re playing and in the swing of it, you probably will only need to reference the rule book a handful of times.
- The runtime on these games is around that of a good movie, this can climb upwards with more players but one of these games can easily replace “What shall we watch tonight?” moments when you have nothing to do.
- Depth (Tim Pinder did a great blog post about this over on the ITB website if you want to know more – it’s well worth a read), although the pieces/components and rules are all very straightforward in these games, getting a lay of the land at any one point (board complexity) and trying to figure out what your opponents or you are going to do next and the ramifications of those choices (strategic complexity) are all a bit higher than in the likes of Pandemic, Splendor etc. which I talked about before.
Game One: 7 Wonders
by Antoine Bauza
This game has won a lot of awards. A lot. And you’ll clearly see this from the box alone. Once you open it up you’ll be confronted by three decks of cards, some coin tokens, some military tokens and the all-important tableaus, that’s it, it’s a pretty lean game in regards to components. Your tableau will represent which of the great ancient civilisations you play as, and which of the famous 7 Wonders of the Ancient World you’ll be building. This game uses a mechanic known as Drafting; each player receives a hand of 7 cards and you’ll pick one to keep and pass the rest along to your neighbour. This creates a fantastic dynamic, because obviously you don’t want to hand them anything they are really going to want or need, but you also still need to take a card that you want or need. And then, of course, you have to think about the cards they’ll pass on to their neighbour. What’s more is that this all happens simultaneously, which means once you’ve got the hang of the game, they go pretty quickly.
Read the full review here.
Game Two: Imperial Settlers
by Ignacy Trzewiczek
In this game players become one of four ancient civilisations or Factions; Barbarians, Japanese, Egyptian or Roman, and having discovered a new land with abundant resources you’ll set out to build your kingdom up to be crowned the winner if you have the biggest and best civilisation at the end of five rounds. This is a beautiful looking game with great artwork and lots of attention into the playing pieces, small little apples for food, little wooden logs for wood and so on, making just handling this game a delight. Added to the beautiful appearance of this game, at its core it is pretty simple. Lightly balancing a few different mechanics from card drafting, worker placement and engine building, giving relatively new games a taster of all of these elements, and it does all of these things whilst allowing some serious strategic depth. With a large deck of Core Location cards, and a decent sized deck for each of the very different Factions (which all play very differently) and even a solo player and campaign mode, this is a great game to check out.
Game Three: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
by Andreas Pelikan & Alexander Pfister
This game is pretty new, arriving on store shelves in 2015 and then going on to pick up numerous prestigious awards including the Kennerspiel des Jahres (which is basically the Gamer’s Game of the Year award in the board game equivalent of the Oscars). In this game, you are a clan leader striving for ruling all the islands of the Scottish archipelago. To do this you’ll be placing tiles to create your map, but of course you’ll have to pay, and you can also buy your opponents tiles too, likewise, they can buy yours so you have to be prepared to pay more than any of you rival chieftains.
The winner is the chief who score the most victory points, and this is one of the great things about this game, the scoring conditions use four of sixteen ‘Scoring Tiles’, which depending on their order, and what they are, completely change the way around, and indeed a game is played. This leads to a fantastically high rate of replay-ability (and for less than £30) making it a sound choice for any game shelf.
Game Four: Lords of Waterdeep
by Peter Lee & Rodney Thompson
This is a big game, with a big box and with lots of pieces of cardboard that need to be popped and double popped (you’ll see what I mean), lots of cards, and plenty of meeples. In this game, you take on the role of a hidden Lord of the city. You will use your limited pool of agents in a Worker Placement system to recruit rogues, adventurers and so forth to take on difficult and dangerous Quests to help further your advancement and power. You’ll construct Buildings to increase a number of places your agents can go, you’ll take Intrigue cards to hopefully smite your opponents all the while completing Quests which ideally align with your secret Role to give you a great big surprise victory point boost at the end. With lots of player-on-player interaction and a host of different Buildings, Quests, Intrigue and Role cards; no two games will ever be the same. If you’re a fan of Dudgeons & Dragons you’ll get a real kick out of this tie-in, and if not; you’ve got a great game on your shelf.
Read the full review here.
Game Five: Small World
by Philippe Keyaerts
Another award winning game –As d’Or Jeu de l’Année Prix du Jury (or Golden Ace Jurry’s award), amongst many others. This is probably the most outwardly competitive game on this list, with a high level of Player-Versus-Player, it is a strategy battle game, where players will choose one of five available Fantasy Race (each with a unique Trait) and Power combos (the Race and Power cards are shuffled each game creating different mixes and combinations with every play). Play then commences by invading the Regions of the map until players are Conquering one another and vying for dominance and Victory Points. A key feature of this game though comes down to when you make the decision to resign your race to the history books and pick a new Race/Power combo to once again Conquer Regions and let slip the Flying Dwarves of war!
This game scales nicely between two and five players, as always the more player you have the frantic the game will be, and this game has a lot of replay-ability with Race/Power combinations keeping it a mainstay on any gaming shelf/cupboard.
Read th efull review here.
And that’s it. If you’re unsure about any of these games, or just want to know more then get down to you friendly, local gaming store and pick one up, or if you’re lucky enough, sit down and play (and a thank you here for Tim and Jean from the Games Den in Leamington Spa for helping me come up with this list)
Think I’ve missed one or five? Let me know .
Thanks for reading folks