Board gaming 2021: minis are back, baby!

Hey guys, quick recommendation time for me: My daughter [8] is getting into boardgames, and I’m thinking this is an opportunity for me to get something I would enjoy that moves away from the more abstract tile and card type thing my wife likes, and more into the tactical games I used to play with friends. Is there a good introductory tactical game that has nice minis and is preferably more whimsical / goofy / cutesy than traditional battlefields? She has learnt chess and likes it well enough, but I can sense she’d glom onto something with a more fun theme and a more descriptive field of play. Coop would be fine too, and in some ways, better. Because while we do have games like Codenames, Patchwork, Azul, Carcassonne, Ticket to ride, Sushi Go, Jaipur, etc, these don’t scratch my itch for placing and manoeuvering pieces for effect. But I know anything with evil looking space marines or tanks will get frowns from all involved. Interestingly my wife loved King of Tokyo despite the adversarial theme, so if ponies were tactically coralling and eating little ambulatory mushrooms, everyone would love it. So, anything of this ilk?

I’ve never tried it, but first game I thought of would be Mice and Mystics. Even if that serves as a possible launching pad into finding similar games maybe. I won’t recommend it because I never tried it, but it is cute, whimsical, tactical, co-operative and includes minis. Maybe Castle Panic would be a second possibility, no minis though. It’s more of a co-operative tower defence style game. I haven’t spent enough time with Castle Panic to recommend or not. It’s very light. Again, won’t recommend, but another option to help guide you.

Santorini is tactical and pretty delightful, in my opinion.

Sure shot. I played this with my daughter, too. Who doesn’t want to level up little rodents. Also has a nice story attached to it, tactical battles, loot, dice and so on.

< sarcasm >Spartacus: Blood and Sand < / sarcasm >

I assume Root is going to be too complex for an 8-year old, but the theme should work. It might be OK complexity-wise as long as she steers clear of the birds.

Mice and Mystics is a good choice. It’s a pretty standard co-op dungeon crawler, but has really cute minis and a kid-friendly theme. I played through the main campaign and first expansion with my kids.

If you’re looking for something less dungeon crawly, Root is a competitive asymmetric tactical game that is both strategically deep and relatively easy-to-learn, with a cute woodland forest animal theme. Bunny Kingdom is a slightly more abstract card-drafting/area-control-ish game. Problem with both of these is they’re best with more than 2 players. (Root really doesn’t work well with 2 at all, tbh.)

Root For an 8 year old? Are you and @Matt_W trying to put them off gaming? :)

Thinking about games with cool minis on a map…

I would consider the Unmatched Series if you want some head to head battles. The characters in the various packs are varied and the rules fairly simple. But it might be too confrontational for an 8 year old? See the various characters here: Unmatched games on BGG

Similarly, the recently very successful CoraQuest Kickstarter might appeal. It’s still open for late pledges, as far as I know. Imagine a family friendly dungeon crawler which also allows your child to add characters to the game and apparently (based on previews, I haven’t played myself) is still fun for the adults to enjoy too:

If you don’t mind programming games, enjoy a zany story and awesome production values, I would consider Mechs vs Minions:

It looks awesome and you will have your mechs trying to hold off hordes of minions in a totally non grimdark way.

SmallWorld is also always a good intro to minis on a map. They recently released a v1.5 of sorts based in World of Warcraft’s world of Azeroth that seems to have been well received. Approchable and would teach a child to think about that kind of strategy in fairly simple terms.

If anything else comes to mind, I’ll add it to the list.

If she’s into Marvel stuff at all, take a look at Marvel United. It’s a $35 light coop that plays in 30-45 minutes. It’s got cool minis, colorful locations, great card art and encourages making a plan together to take out the bad guys.

The biggest downside is that it was a Kickstarter game, so while you can get the core game from Amazon you’ll have to go to the secondary market for all of the expansions, which are mostly really cool.

There’s a second Kickstarter running now that adds the X-Men and offers all of the original content, but that likely won’t ship until around March 2022.

Also, just finished my game of EH I was talking about and got smashed. Cockiness at thinking I’d win and the game was under control became “crap!” followed by “bullshit” followed by “I’m fucked.” I started setting up a graveyard for all the fallen investigators, having lost 4 total by the end of the doom tracker hitting zero. Turns out a that doom does slip away quickly when the wrong mythos cards come out. Oh well, heap of fun all the same.

When I started back in the hobby and brought my daughters in we got Tokaido. It has familiar mechanisms, requires a decent amount of thinking and strategy and looks gorgeous.

Take a look at Kronomaster Arena. Cute minis, plays like Final Fantasy tactics lite. Eases you in with easy to learn rules and is fun for kids and adults if you’re interested let me know.
Also there is a kids version of Scythe, My Little Scythe which is very cute and still fun.

More abstract but cool and fun is Level99s Bullet
Tetris game with anime girls not overly (or really at all) sexualized.

And that pricetag jumps sharply when you start adding in that stuff, even at their KS pricing. Current gameplay all-in (not counting the base box from stores) is over $500. Not that you need to go all-in by any means.

There’s an iOS version too, I play it on my phone all the time.

Nah, you could just grab an xpac or two that appeals to you. The ones that are all villains are cool because they add new game modes. And backing at any level gets you the massive stretch goal box, which is a ton of variability in new heroes and villains.

Also, Parks is the new Tokaido. Same chill vibe, looks incredible, comes with nice gametrays and you get to learn about the national parks!

Yeah, I’ve been encouraged by several to get that, but my self imposed moratorium on game purchases has stopped that. I hear it is even better.

I think it would be useful to define tactical here, because some of the suggestions seem… off.

Are you wanting tactical on a board? Are you wanting miniatures with templates? Can you give an example of the type of game you are looking for here? That would definitely help.

One thing that jumped to mind that seems about the right weight is the unfortunately long out of print and now expensive Star Wars Epic Duels. Simple boards with some simple terrain, differing figures with differing powers/ decks. A fairly simple, but variable system. It’s absolutely the kind of thing I would reach for for my 7 year old in that mode.

X-wing miniatures is my jam, and also something within reach of my kids ability. That is your traditional type tactical miniatures game. But it is templates and maneuver dials.

Summoner Wars is a simple customizable deck game with a fairly striaghtforward tactical board. Good game, played a bunch on a-synch on ios. But not miniatures.

There is an interesting tactical game that uses Hot Wheels type cars called Gaslands. Haven’t played myself, but I’ve heard good things.

@sharaleo has Mystic Wood a few posts above, and that is another variant on the type of thing that might work.

But give us themes, depth, style you are looking for. It would really help suggestions, and also avoid things like Root which seem to be a very poor fit for what you are looking for.

This was recently relaunched as Unmatched, which Wendelius recommended above. Instead of Star Wars, it’s a variety of public domain characters fighting each other–Robin Hood, Bigfoot, Sinbad, Medusa, etc.

I strongly back @Mike_Cathcart suggestion of Marvel United. It has hit a sweet spot for family time (future step daughters), non-gamer fiance, and super grizzled gamer. It is crazy simple in mechanics, and yet offers solid tactical and resource based puzzles. It moves really fast and pushes cooperation without alpha gaming. It might be one of Eric Lang’s most subtle and elegant designs. Plus, cute Marvel draws the eyes.

Best start is a core set from Target. Then price and options explode. Best add would be to jump into the now ending X-Men KS (less than 24 hrs) to get at least another core plus stretch goal box for lots of bang per buck. The game excels off more since everything can be played together in combination. Unlike other KS games, expansions get opened and played with United.

As @Shieldwolf suggests, Krosmaster Arena is a good one too. That one broke the ice between me and one of the future step daughters so it has a special place in my heart. Start with Krosmaster Jr or a core 2.0 box off Amazon depending on how complex you want to start/ feels right for your daughter.

Between the two, I think Marvel is the better choice. It has opened the door on game and non game experiences; currently both girls have been asking to watch and rewatch Marvel movies together. You can play Marvel United instantly via TTS if you want to try before buy. I did, and I’m glad I did. I’m in super deep now with after market prices, but it’s been an outstanding sweet spot game option. To me, very worth the bridges it’s built along with keeping me engaged as a gamer.

Edit: if you watch reviews of Marvel United, the core box or core only plays tend to be easy and light. There is lots of headroom as you expand. The core box is designed to be the easiest and most accessible entry point. I also think “light” gets misused instead of elegant. It is approachable, yet offers meat. Again, highly rececammed, especially given your specific situation.

Oh nice. I had seen it around, but don’t think I realized it was the same basic system.

That would probably be a great idea then. And Restoration Games, aka Rob Daviau, aka the original designer for Epic Duels.

Sold.