With Sport Relief coming up, what better way to raise money than by hosting a board game marathon? With so much choice out there what are the best games to keep you gaming all night long?
For me, the key to a great board game marathon is mixing up the lengths and styles of games to keep it feeling fresh and exciting. With that in mind here are my top 5 picks to make it to the table:
A lighter game to really get you in the mood for gaming.
Sagrada is a dice placement game for 2-4 players although it can play up to 6 with an expansion. Each player is working to complete their stained glass window. Windows are completed by drafting dice of different colours and values. These are then inserted into the relevant space on the window.
Each player has a choice of 4 patterns at the start of the game. The patterns vary in difficulty shown by pips at the bottom of the cards. The player will choose a pattern to make and put this in their window. They will then receive the number of glass pieces equal to the number of pips on their card. These pieces can be used on the tool cards available. Tool cards have actions which can help players complete their window.
Over 10 rounds players will draft dice from a central pool to fill their window. However, dice of the same colour or the same number cannot be placed next to each other, so players need to be careful when completing their pattern. As well as completing their window, each player has an individual bonus card. This will award them points at the end of the game equal to the value of dice of that colour on their window. There are also goals that everyone can work towards. These goals may be getting different colours or numbers in a line or other pattern.
Best to play earlier in the marathon when you want to sink your teeth into something heavier.
Scythe is set in an alternate 1920s where the First World War has ended and countries are starting to re-build. Various factions have been drawn to a mysterious factory, where mechs (the fighting machines in this universe) come from.
There are elements of area control, resource management and engine building within the game. Each player is trying to complete goals to gain stars, as well as ensuring they have sufficient popularity to score highly come to the end of the game, and enough military might shake off any attack by another faction. Players also have variable player powers that are determined by the faction they choose.
Players each have a player board with four different sections on it. Each section has a top and a bottom action. The bottom action requires resources to complete whereas the top action does not. On their turn, players chose a section of the board. They then complete the top, and if they wish to, bottom action of that section. Players cannot choose the same section twice (unless you have a special power which allows you to do so).
Each player is working to try and complete goals to get stars on the victory track. For example, if you complete all your upgrades or build all of your buildings you get to place a star. Once someone has placed their sixth star the game ends.
Players are then awarded points for the number of stars they have, the number of territories they control and for every two resources they have. However, the number of points they are awarded for each of these depends on how far up the popularity track they are. If you are within the highest band of popularity you gain the most points. The coins you get during the game are points. There are also points available for meeting bonus criteria, which are usually related to where buildings are placed. Whoever has the most points at the end wins.
Scythe has a really engaging theme and time seems to just fly when playing it. It has a number of interesting mechanics and gives you a lot of decisions to process. For me, that makes it a perfect fit when you have limbered up your board gaming sense and really want to get stuck in.
This game is perfect for when you need a little bit of light relief from the heavier games being played.
In Dobble, also known as Spot It, players are trying to match one of the symbols on their card with one of the symbols on another card. However, this isn’t as straightforward as it may seem at first. Images are in different locations, orientations, and sizes between the cards. Each card will only share one matching symbol with any other card. Players are either competing to gain all of the cards or get rid of all of their cards depending on which of the five variations are being played.
The beauty of Dobble is that you can play one round very quickly or play for a little longer over several rounds. It can also support anywhere between 2 and 8 players and works well with all player counts. The light nature of the game and the different challenges it presents, when compared to a more traditional board game, makes it perfect for a board game marathon.
After all the competition it’s nice to mix things up with a co-operative game.
Flash Point Fire Rescue is a game in which between 2 and 6 players take on the role of firefighters who have to rescue people, and pets, from a burning home. Players have to balance extinguishing fires, investigating points of interest within the home, and rescuing occupants. However, all is not as it seems as some of the points of interest tokens are blank. This means you could have fought a blaze, or chopped down a wall for nothing.
In the standard game, each player has 4 actions that they can then use to move, chop or extinguish the fire. The game does come with some specialist firefighter roles and they all have a different number of actions and one special action. These are great fun to include and add another level of a theme to the game.
Once a player has completed their actions, they roll two dice to show where the fire will spread to next. If the players are unlucky and the spot rolled already contains a fire, there can be an explosion that leads to the fire spreading in all directions.
The players win if they rescue 7 occupants, by dragging them from the burning building. However, the players will lose if more than 4 occupants at lost, or if the building collapses as a result of too much damage to the walls.
Flash Point Fire Rescue has a really interesting and different theme with a lot of finely balanced choices. This one is great for a board game marathon as you can immerse yourself in the theme. A co-operative game is a great way to mix things up too.
An old classic! Something well known and reassuring to keep you going towards the end of the night.
In Ticket to Ride, between 2 and 5 players are competing to build train routes connecting cities. Each player selects the routes they want to keep from a starting hand of 4. They then start building their train route. In this particular edition of the game players also have three stations of their colour. Stations are used to connect to another city, taking advantage of other players' trains.
At its heart Ticket to Ride is a game about set collection. During your turn, you can either pick up cards, play cards to place trains on the board, or take additional route cards. Each route on the board is either marked out in a certain colour or is gray. To gain the route players play a number of train cards of the right colour, equal to the length of the route. They then claim it with their trains. Gray routes can be gained by a train of any colour.
At the end of the game, the players gain 4 points for each station they have left. They then count up points from completed routes. If players have taken a route and not completed it then it is worth negative points. The player with the longest continuous route gets an extra 10 points. The person with the most points wins.
There is something very comforting and familiar to Ticket to Ride, yet it still offers some choices to players and is engaging throughout. This makes it perfect for when you are running out of steam (no pun intended!) towards the end of a gaming marathon.
What Is Zatu Doing For Sport Relief 2020?
As you may know, Sport Relief is this Friday! So, the purpose of this blog was to get you guys into the fundraising spirit (with the best theme: board games!). But, if you don't feel like hosting a board game marathon - don't worry! You can still get involved with Zatu's fundraiser.
To raise lots of money for a great cause, Zatu Games got in contact with their gaming family and collected a lifetime supply of donated board games. Their goal is to raise £500 for Sport Relief and giveaway over 20 board games to one very lucky winner. But how? Donate to their Just Giving page and you will be in with a chance of winning! Follow the link or take a look at their Facebook @ZatuGames to find out more.