Upgrade Your Game Night with These Tabletop Gems


Posted in Games, Play: A Gamer's Blog, Uncategorized on 12 Mar by

We’ve all played board games before, and yeah, Monopoly is good I guess. Sure, Scrabble is great if you’re my grandma. If you’re bored just reading that, it’s time for a board game revolution in your home! Let Bookmans shed the skin of boring board games and boring game nights past and shout to the world board games are awesome!

Let’s bask in the sun, for we are tabletop gamers! Okay, maybe we’re not literally basking in the sun because heatstroke sucks and it’s much safer inside. Plus air conditioning is a thing. Look, I really hate the sun, but board games are amazing in so many ways! There are over 50+ mechanics that can make up a game and change the way it plays. The sheer variety of games alone is mind-boggling. If I tried to put all my favorites in this post, it would pretty have to be its own book, so here’s a list of what I consider to be good gateway tabletop games for those who want to upgrade their family game nights and actually have fun.

King of Tokyo

Mutant monsters, gigantic robots, and strange aliens? Count me in! In King of Tokyo, players choose a monster and then duke it out and try to take the title of King of Toyko. Now, there are two ways to win the game: Either be the last monster standing or be the first to reach 20 victory points. How do you get victory points? By being in Tokyo! Only one monster can be in Toyko at a time, the catch is the monsters on the outside all gang up on you to try and take your spot in Toyko. That’s what makes this game so much fun, trying to decide how long you can last in Tokyo.

The fiercest player will occupy Tokyo, and earn extra victory points, but that player can’t heal and must face all the other monsters alone. Top this off with special cards purchased with energy that have a permanent or temporary effect, such as the growing of a second head which grants you an additional die, body armor, nova death ray, and more.

At the start of each turn, the player rolls six dice which show the following six symbols: 1, 2, or 3 Victory Points, Energy, Heal, and Attack. Over three successive throws, players choose whether to keep or discard each die in order to win victory points, gain energy, restore health, or attack other players and take that sweet spot in Tokyo.

Pandemic

It may seem like global disease control may not sound like a good time, but hear me out. In this game, several virulent diseases have broken out simultaneously all over the world. As players, you become disease-fighting specialists whose mission is to treat disease hotspots while researching cures for each of four plagues before they get out of hand. What I like about this game is that it’s a race against time the four players versus the game itself. If one or more diseases spread beyond recovery or if too much time elapses, all players lose. If players cure the four diseases, you all win!

Taking a unique role within the team, players must plan their strategy to mesh with their specialists’ strengths in order to conquer the diseases. For example, the Operations Expert can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases and which allow for greater mobility between cities. The Scientist, however, needs only four cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal five.

The game board depicts several major population centers on Earth. On each turn, a player can use up to four actions to travel between cities, treat infected populaces, discover a cure, or build a research station. A deck of cards provides the players with these abilities, but sprinkled throughout this deck are Epidemic! cards that accelerate and intensify the diseases’ activity. A second, separate deck of cards controls the “normal” spread of the infections.

BANG! The Dice Game

Everyone loves a good western and BANG! The Dice Game throws players into two teams, outlaws and deputies. The catch? You don’t know who’s on your team, and you can’t tell each other either. At the start of the game, players each take a role card that secretly places them on a team: the Sheriff and deputies, outlaws, and renegades. The Sheriff and deputies need to kill the outlaws, the outlaws win by killing the Sheriff, and the renegades want to be the last players alive in the game.

Each player also receives a character card which grants him a special power in the game. The Sheriff reveals his role card and takes the first turn of the game. On a turn, a player can roll the five dice up to three times, using the results of the dice to shoot neighboring players, increase the range of his shots, heal his (or anyone else’s) life points, or put him in range of the Indians, which are represented by nine tokens in the center of the table. Each time a player rolls an arrow, he takes one of these tokens. When the final token is taken, each player loses one life point for each token he holds, then the tokens are returned to the center of the table.

Skull

This game is super simple and can be explained in under a minute, plus the pieces double as coasters.

Skull is all about bluffing. If you can play it cool and judge the other players correctly you’ll win. Each player plays a face-down card, then each player, in turn, adds one more card – until someone feels safe enough to state that he can turn a number of cards face up and get only flowers. Other players can then overbid him, saying they can turn even more cards face up. The highest bidder must then turn that number of cards face up, starting with his own. If he shows only roses, he wins; if he reveals a skull, he loses, placing one of his cards out of play. Two successful challenges win the game. Make sure you have a good poker face when you play this one.

Forbidden Island

Collecting treasure is fun! Drowning, not so much. Mix the two with rising water levels and you’re in for an uphill battle. Instead of winning by competing with other players like most games, everyone must work together to win the game. Players take turns moving their pawns around the ‘island’ which is built by arranging the many tiles before play begins. As the game progresses, more and more island tiles sink, becoming unavailable, and the pace increases. Players use strategies to keep the island from sinking while trying to collect treasures and items. As the water level rises, it gets more difficult- sacrifices must be made.

With multiple levels of difficulty, different characters to choose from (each with a special ability of their own), many optional island formats and game variations available, Forbidden Island has huge replay value. The game can be played by as few as two players and up to four (though it can accommodate five). More players translate into a faster and more difficult game, though the extra help can make all the difference.

I hope this list gives you some ideas for your next family game night or to maybe even start one! The best part, you’re going to love this, you can find all these games and so much more at your local Bookmans! Go explore and find those great gems that will turn ordinary game nights into the best night of the week.

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