Best Board Games of 2013
2013 saw the creation of Unwinnable’s Board Game Club. Maybe you’ve seen the hashtags on Twitter or the numerous photos on Instagram. On January 19, 2013, Stu asked the question, “Anyone want to play a board game tonight?” Like the Founding Fathers, four men descended upon Unwinnable headquarters that night to take part in a battle of wits and cunning. Nearly every week since, we’ve played board games.
Since we’re largely new to the tabletop, we compiled a list of the five games that we played and loved, regardless of what year they came out.
Cyclades is an odd collection of mechanics wrapped in the trappings of Greek mythology. The idea is to build two metropolises while defending yourself from rival armies and monsters. To perform actions, you must win the favor of the corresponding god in an auction mechanic. Of course, everyone else is trying to win those auctions too. The result is an exercise in patience, flexibility and concentration with numerous paths to victory. Also, it has some pretty rad game pieces.
The Thing: The Game. Someone is infected, and everyone else is trying to destroy the alien hive before they become infected. Panic Station is a great competitive co-op game until your group figures out the best ways to ferret out the infected. Then it becomes rote – until someone who has never played it before comes to the table.
A classic area control/tile placement game. We picked this up from Barnes & Noble this fall in a desperate attempt to break our increasingly King of Tokyo-centric play. The result was an epidemic of addiction, with most of the group feeding their habit with asymmetrical play via the iOS app. The obsession culminated recently when an iOS Carcassonne game was going on while we were all in the same room, playing an entirely different game. That’s love.
King of Tokyo
Our friend, game developer Nels Anderson, hates dice in board games. King of Tokyo is all dice. At first, it seems like a party game, but once you delve deeper and get the Power Up expansion, the randomness of the dice hides a deeply strategic game. What initially seems like a Yahtzee knockoff soon becomes a pitched battle against your friends gathered round the table. We love King of Tokyo.
Game of the Year: Risk Legacy
At its core, Risk Legacy uses the basic game mechanics of Risk. You still fight with dice, collect cards for more armies and get bonuses for controlling continents. But Legacy adds so much more. It evolves as you play.
First, everyone signs the back of the board taking responsibility for their future actions. You also sign the back of the card that represents the army you’re using that round. The legacy aspect of the game is set to last for 15 rounds, in which the game evolves to favor the victors. As you win, you get to sign the front of the board and are rewarded with valuable assets like cities and nukes.
All the extras are sealed in envelopes that are attached to the inside of the box. This added fuel to our fires as we were enticed to pull specific maneuvers in order to open these envelopes that were staring at us constantly.
Risk Legacy deserves to be our Board Game of the Year, not just because it is a great game but because it brought together a group of friends for weekly fun. It forced us to learn about each other and developed into some fantastic times over the course of the year. Regardless of how many games Stu won (Ken did win the first game) and how many “Stu-vent” cards he pulled, we all still had a blast playing games and hanging out. Board games bring people together.