If we’re honest, a lot of us love getting shiny new things and keeping up with the latest ‘hotness’. So much so that, when we feel like we’re falling behind, we may even - only sometimes, honest - look on with envy at what others have, wishing we had it on our own shelves (and that their copies spontaneously combust...).
But I fear there is something of an epidemic spreading through the board gaming world that is making gamers forget the gems that are sitting, unplayed in months or years, gathering dust on their shelves. Or worse, sitting in a warehouse with no home to go to because they aren’t new or exciting enough.
One thing that brought this to my attention was the community’s response to the upcoming Euphoria expansion, Ignorance is Bliss. A few reviewers admitted that their copy of Euphoria hadn’t made its way to the table and there was very little presence on other outlets and its presence was near absent from any public medium that I am aware of.
Yet now, after a few years in the wilderness, people are raving about it from all corners of the board game world. And all it took was bringing out something new to add to it. So, it’s great that the base game is slamming down on tables everywhere, it’s just a shame it took slapping a shiny new thing on it to do so.
Now, before I go on, it needs to be noted that we evolve as gamers and this will contribute massively to what games we play. What worked for us when we first got into the hobby might not scratch that itch anymore and may even cause irritation. I, for one, am starting to enjoy games that require much more strategic thinking and have stepped away from the reactive gameplay that I once adored. So, I know it’s not all about what’s new that dictates what gamers are drawn to.
But I thought it would be good to have a regular look at some games that I don’t hear or see being mentioned that were once adored by so many. These are games that should still make their way into people’s collections or dusted off and played. I won’t go into great detail about how they work and focus mainly on what I like about each experience.
In 2016, Days of Wonder brought us Quadropolis, a city building game in which players create their own thriving metropolis by selecting tiles using their architects, which include harbours, factories, shops, apartments and town halls from a 5x5 grid. If you meet certain criteria for each (lining a number of harbours next to each other, for example) you will gain more VPs at games end. Whomever maximises the options best, gaining most VPs will win the game.
I really enjoy the level of strategy in this game, fitting into the light/medium weight category (for me). You need to think carefully about which architects you use to gain access to structures (as they are numbered 1-4 or 5 in expert mode). This number dictates which area you can play them on your player board, and if you don’t plan ahead enough, you may close off some much-needed options later in the game.
Something else that grabs me about this is the resin energy and meeple tokens. There are only two different kinds of resource here, but they look gorgeous on the board.
Quadropolis also has the best insert that I have ever seen in a board game. Days of Wonder always do great work on their inserts and I just find it amazing that they have created a space for all components and clearly marked where each should fit. It’s a thing of beauty.
This is a game that can be played multiple times in one sitting and players can adopt many different strategies each time.
Mission Red Planet 2nd Edition
Until recently, this was my favourite game of all time. It only got knocked off the top spot because I have evolved a little and got myself a copy of Viticulture which has really blown me away.
Fantasy Flight Games brought out the 2nd Edition of Mission Red Planet way back in 2015 and it rightly received a lot of love for it’s elegant simultaneous card selection, nifty scoring rounds (known as the Production Phase) and its truly gorgeous production quality.
This is an area control game that can be pretty cut throat as players explore Mars and its moon, Phobos, battling for territory and resources. This element of the game might not be for everyone, but I always loved it, especially if played with six players (boy can it get congested - but it a totally great way).
I think it’s great how there are three production phases (when players pick up VP tokens from the regions, they have majority in) which incrementally add more tokens before each one (starting with one token on each spot going up to three by the final production phase). It feels good to get points throughout the game rather than waiting until the very end to get them all.
I also really enjoy trying to figure out what cards the others might play (as we all have the same cards with the same powers) and playing one that will hopefully have better outcomes than theirs. Of course, you may judge it badly and play the wrong card, ending up leaving you with a pretty poor showing for a round.
Everyone also has their starting missions which will gain you points if you reach them by the end of the game and can also pick up more missions which could result in even more VPs.
I could go on and on with things I love about this game. It’s just brilliant.
Adrenaline is a great simulation of a sci-fi first person shooter game made by Czech Games Edition (CGE) in 2016. Despite its young age, I can’t remember the last time I saw something about this game on any medium I follow.
In this game you have your character and run around the board picking up weapons and ammo before searching out opponents to blast. Turns come around so quickly and it always feels like you have made a lot of progress with each turn, which is exactly what you’d want from a game.
One of the really cool things about this is the way it prevents people from targeting just one of the players constantly throughout the game so that no one feels bullied or ganged up on. It does this by lowering the amount of points players are worth after they’ve taken too many bullets and been momentarily eliminated from the map (don’t worry, you will respawn after the current players turn).
You’ll also become faster and get to do extra actions after you’ve been hit or shot a certain number of times as your adrenaline levels increase. Production quality is great, with cool miniatures, resin skulls, teardrop tokens, player boards and artwork that really makes the theme pop.
I would have to say that this might not suit everyone (but what game does) so you may need to find players who enjoy first person shooters and general combat to ensure this game reaches its full potential when brought to the table.
Combating Cult of the New - Round Up
So, there you have it, three great games that you should grab and get to the table that will provide countless hours of entertainment and easily match any new game you’ll find on Kickstarter or elsewhere.
I’ll be bringing more forgotten games in the next instalment of this Combating Cult of the New mini-series.