Today is the 2nd Annual International TableTop Day! If you’ve not been following our Tumblr, you may have missed our second annual 12 Days of TableTop Day. Fear not! As with last year, I’m going to give you a compiled list of our recommended games from this year!
I’ll include a bit about the game and why we like it, too! A number of these games have apps as well, and this is a great way to get into a number of games on the cheap, or to see if you like them! On to the games!
Firefly the Game
Our favorite new game from this last year, probably, is Firefly the Game! This game does an impressive job of adapting the TV Show – in such a way that, although the rules are many, once you hear them and see them in action, they make sense. They fit within the world. They enhance the experience.
We reviewed this game before once we got it, so check that out! I will warn again, though: do not expect a game to take 2 hours like they say, especially not for your first game. Be prepared for more like 4+. This is one to prepare for and be ready to sit down, relax, and have some fun exploring the ‘Verse.
It’s hard to find good 2-player games. Many have 2-player components that aren’t quite optimized for 2 – more like 4. Some, like Settlers of Catan, start at 3 players. Others, like Smallworld, have a different setup for each number of players. But some games are specifically – and only – made for two players. And a great new one we’ve found is Dragonheart.
Each player gets a deck of cards – identical decks of cards. So then, it’s luck and strategy from there. You play a specific number of cards into a stack, and then they take effect. You don’t have to play them all at once – so you can risk it, and play some of the stack. And the blue dragon figurine lets you draw an extra card, and gives you extra victory points – you defeat it with a sorceress card, but then you can’t claim the treasure stack with the sorceress instead! Lots of choices, strategy, and just a lot of fun for two. Highly recommended!
So we don’t have this game in an actual board form, just in the app. As a cooperative game, the pass-and-play aspect with it works perfectly, with you able to see everyone’s cards, powers, and options together at once. Not that this really gives you an advantage – we won our first game playing this, miraculously, and haven’t won since.
They made an extended cut of them playing Pandemic on TableTop, so you can watch a full game in action! I don’t think they won either. This is a cooperative, end-of-the-world, players-vs-the-game sort of game, and the game is probably going to win. Be prepared to fight valiantly, and maybe lose, and you can still have a lot of fun with this game. But be warned!
I think we had this one before they played it on TableTop, but then, we opened the box. It had a few decks… and space for a ton more. We felt a little disappointed, and knew there were going to be expansions. I don’t think we actually played it, then, until we saw it on TableTop.
Then we were like, okay, let’s give this a try. This game is actually a lot of fun, with crazy options and strategies that open up because of it. And then, we got the requisite – almost obligatory (check out the Cthulu set) – expansions. And then the game has really opened up.
There are even more expansions coming out now, including an exclusive TableTop Day version you might be able to get at your local game store today! Be ready for ridiculousness, and trying to figure out how to use your deck, every time. And watch out for the Robot Wizards!
We love Arkham Horror, the epic, 6+ hour, up-to-8-player, tons of expansions, cooperative game of Lovecraftian Horror. Not quite as deadly to the players as Pandemic, we’ve even won by defeating the Ancient One in combat before. However, sometimes, you just don’t have 6 hours. It happens. And so, Fantasy Flight games took their existing art and idea from the game, and made a much shorter, easier, similar game called Elder Sign.
Not only can Elder Sign be completed in much closer to one hour, but it was simple enough that they’ve built an App for it as well! They have actually grown the game quite a bit in the app – they’ve added campaigns around the different Ancient Ones, which are exceedingly difficult and add a lot to the game – though it loses some of the simplicity and shortness because of it! It’s also not quite built for pass and play, though there’s nothing stopping you from playing it that way. Love this game, and you should definitely check it out!
On the Underground
Does anyone know what a map of London actually looks like? No! No they do not! They know what the Underground map looks like. Combine that map with a love of train games and you get On the Underground from Rio Grande Games.
Rather than you having to specifically make it through routes, there is a traveler who has to make routes – and you want to control the sections that they travel on! They made a good choice by not filling in all of those lines with the colors of the tube lines, but you can definitely connect the Circle Line, Central, District… it’s there. And you can see some of the logic of these lines if you try to build them yourself in the game! For instance, by trying to own a whole corner or end of the lines, or trying to build the Circle Line! A fun twist on a train game!
Level 7 [Escape]
We’re pretty new to this one, having only played it the last couple of weeks. But that means I was definitely thinking about it to take a pictures while we played! I posted a number of pictures over on Twitter. This game is what they call semi-cooperative… you’re working together, but you don’t all have to make it for it to be considered a win. Unlike, say, Forbidden Island, where you do all have to make it out!
This game functions as a dungeon exploration game, like Munchkin Quest or Betrayal at House on the Hill. It also functions like a campaign – with each successive level more difficult than the last, and with the challenges building upon each other as you learn how to play, and what’s going on. So far, we’ve gotten through three levels, and the third only one of four people made it out alive! Not an easy game, but a fun one to try to get a full group of people through from start to finish.
Lords of Waterdeep
We had seen this one at the stores and wondered at it, but there it was just one of many games based on Dungeons & Dragons, with different campaign-based games out there to play. It took seeing this game on TableTop to see it is not a campaign, but a stand-alone game in its own right, full of intrigue and strategy.
And then, once we knew this game was available in an app form, we dived for it. This works pretty well for pass-and-play, although you don’t get to look at your cards and scheme while you do so. It works far more smoothly in asynchronous online play, although the length of time between makes it a little hard to keep your strategy rolling. I think we need to pick up the board for this one, to really delve deep into it! Fun game!
We Didn’t Playtest This at All
We haven’t played this game as much as it maybe deserves, but really, in many ways we understand it so well. This game is in many ways a pre-built deck of 1000 Blank White Cards. In We Didn’t Playtest This at All, while you can try to win, it’s really much more about not losing. A game can go really quickly, with there even being cards that will just make it so everyone loses! Think Fluxx, but with fewer attempts even at strategy.
Entertaining cards keep you laughing through this one, even as you lose for no particular reason. Some of the cards are even diabolically evil. You know what we’re talking about.
Penny Arcade: Gamers vs. Evil
Last year we chose, of our Penny Arcade games, Penny Arcade: The Game, a 2-player card game that is actually fantastically compact and great for playing, say, on a plane! However, this year we wanted to highlight another great game that picked up the Penny Arcade branding and art: Penny Arcade: Gamers vs. Evil.
Gamers vs. Evil is a deckbuilding game like Dominion or Ascension, with its own unique twists. For instance, there’s not only the heroes and effects to buy, and the enemies to defeat, but there’s also Epic Bosses to vanquish, giving you valuable and powerful cards for your deck. The game can definitely become a race to grab up these cards before the game gets too one-sided! They came out with a pretty good app for it, as well, although the AI is pretty ridiculous!
This game is fascinating, and a great look at time travel and history. What happens when you change one event in history? And replace it with a brand new event? That’s the gameplay in Chrononauts, a card game from the makers of Fluxx.
There are three different ways to win, and plenty of ways to throw people off from knowing what you’re trying to do! Spend too long throwing people off your scent, though, and you may just help them win instead. Not that that’s ever happened to me… You change events, patch the timeline’s paradoxes up, grab artifacts, and defend the timeline you need to stay intact! Each event changes an event that comes later on, or maybe many! And there are a few expansions, so you can play UberChrononauts with twice the timeline, and have more objectives for winning!
Ticket to Ride
One of the modern classics of board games, Ticket to Ride has so many expansions by now that there are a lot of games you can play! Each one has different challenges, like tunnels you have to build, or ferries you have to add to your route. Sometimes you want to connect to the most cities, and sometimes you just want the longest route. And sometimes, your greatest challenge is Anne Wheaton.
We have some Ticket to Ride sets, but to be honest, we’ve found the easiest way to play this game – and get all the expansions! – to be the app. Many of the expansions are available for in-app purchase. One downside with pass-and-play, though, is when you add bots. Adding bots is okay, but all of their turns happen with the hand open and showing from the player before them – so if you want to watch, you get to see the hand! Awkward.
This is one of Wil Wheaton’s favorites, and so it’s been on TableTop twice. A good one to close out our 12 recommendations!