Boardgaming in 2019!


One of my gaming group did, but we haven’t had a chance to get it to the table yet. The app is still in beta, which isn’t helping enthusiasm.



I’m excited about Res Arcana. Hoping it’ll fit that niche of really deep filler that Race for the Galaxy dominates (for me at least).



I’m really enjoying Architects of the West Kingdom. Both groups I’ve gotten it out with have wanted to play it twice in one sitting which is rare for me for a game over an hour long.

It looks and sounds like a pretty standard worker-placement style Euro game during teaching which is a bit deceiving. You can also capture peoples’ workers which sounds mean and take-that-y which is also deceiving. Unlike a worker placement game, you don’t block people’s spots. This isn’t really a game about rushing to the best things first. It’s more about tempo management and understanding when actions are most valuable or safe.

The more you do an action, the more you get out of it. However, the more you do it, the more apt others are to capture your workers for cash, which reverts that action’s value back to zero. A big part of the strategy is understanding when and where people are disincentivized to capture so you can build up big safely, and when you need to hold off to try and eke value out somewhere else. There’s a bunch of little timers going off that change the valuation of every action over time that work in tandem with the central mechanic of building up actions. For instance, the bank will slowly gain more and more money until someone robs it, which is a big hit to reputation but eventually there’s enough money it’s worth it to everyone.

The lack of blocking means there’s usually 5 or more things you want to do and you can do them in any order without worrying you’ll lose access. This makes turns fly by with very little analysis paralysis (I tend to play with AP players and there’s so little of it here). The tempo management and action valuation changes means you still need to play agile, but the board state isn’t so chaotic that your plans need to change often. It just feels really smooth.

I also quite appreciate the execution of the theme. Some players will be godly the entire game and be gifted by the townsfolk constantly. Others will dabble in the black market and steal from the bank once or twice, but just to get their start. And others will become the most despicable people in the town and spend the entire game trying to convince the townsfolk that they’re not awful. All of those strategies are viable and strong under different conditions, all of them produce pretty different personal narratives that are recognizable and compelling (for me at least).

One of my favorites I’ve played in a while.



I forgot to mention how great the citizen cards are! You’ll buy a bunch of them for special abilities and they’ll drive your whole strategy. One of my favorite parts is how the play into your personal narrative. Last time I played I had a “Gate Guard” who could sneak a few people out of prison whenever the police captured them in the black market. I also had a “Squire” that crowed about what a good guy I was every time the prison got full and I wasn’t there. That combo let me run all over the black market and RAISE my reputation thanks to the Gate Guard sneaking out my people before my Squire crowed. What a great mini-narrative out of two cards!



Late arrival this week…

This game looks really interesting to me as sort of a RPG-story-generator. Need to read some reviews.



I have not played that game, but I have played the Quartermaster General: 1914 game. If you are a fan of the WWI theme, and have friends (ideally 4) willing to play it with you, then I can highly recommend it for gameplay and theme.



Weird question. My daughter occasionally asks about D&D. I don’t play (and have no interest in) pen’n’paper RPGs these days; however, I think she’d also like some kind of fantasy-adventure boardgame (she started designing one herself! Except the goal there is to get to a dance party. Weird).

I generally think all fantasy-adventure boardgames are terrible; but are there any that people like that are:

  1. Fully co-op (my daughter’s preference)
  2. Good for kids (not too complicated. But not simplistic either, I have to play it).
  3. Really feels like an adventure (not just draw-a-card-to-see-what-happens)
  4. Hopefully has a campaign aspect to it, with characters that develop over multiple scenarios

I looked at Mice and Mystics, it is well reviewed, but looks quite boring! Mechs vs. Minions looks ok, but not really an adventure game, more like a tactical battle game.

I have played Sword & Sorcery, that might be ok? But might be too complicated. I also played Legend of Andor once a while back, maybe that would work? Most of the actual D&D boardgames (Candlekeep, etc) don’t review too well.

Any ideas?



Temple of Elemental Evil was a really good board game. It has a campaign mode where you can keep gear between adventures and buff up your characters. My gaming group loved it.

You are still capped at level 2. I think the kids will be fine with it.



Near and Far? Red Raven’s games aren’t amazing mechanically, but they do work correctly, and do what he’s trying to do, which is more than I can say for most of, for example, FFG’s adventure games.

N&F has a neat paragraph book, several modes (two different campaign modes!) of play, a cute (but not ‘kiddie’) setting, and nice art. There’s an expansion (The Amber Mines) that adds full co-op play and some other nice enhancements, but even the ‘competitive’ base game isn’t really competitive- you just total points after each session, and then total them all up after the whole campaign. I think it’s exactly what you’re looking for.



CtA was actually set up as a demo on the table at the game store I play at on Thursday nights. It looked interesting, and I want to know more. Thanks for the reminder!



How old is the D&D daughter?



I have a friend with two boys ages 8 and 9, and they loooove Zombicide Black Plague: fully co-op, fairly simple mechanics but with some meaningful tactics, and you get to kill 78109 zombies per game.



I have all the Zombicide games. You can combine them and make huge maps and play with tons of people. It’s a fun one.


  1. My younger daughter is 10, and would also be playing.


What about something like Legacy of Dragonholt or maybe Gloomhaven?

Dragonholt is more RPG-like but is very story-driven. Like an RPG choose-your-own-adventure where everyone makes a character. We started playing it as a group of four and it’s going great so far after two sessions.



I would say Legends of Andor, but there’s no campaign progression. Also, it might be a bit too puzzley? You don’t just run around punching monsters, but you make careful decisions about when and where to punch monsters so you can win the scenario. I like it a lot, but I’m not sure how kid-friendly the design would be. It has the feel of something made by and for exacting Germans.

Excellent recommendation! Especially given the specifics @JoshL is look for. I’m going to go with this recommendation as well. I think you can even play the individual characters’ campaign stories cooperatively for a sense of ongoing adventure and character progression.




What has SHE played that she’s enjoyed?

I just looked up Near and Far per some of the suggestions and here and it does look really neat, it also looks very busy. I have 2 boys, 12 and 9. They like a good board game but will get intimidated with too many pieces/components. Almost like they get overwhelmed with all the choices.

Sigh… damn you know there are just too many games out there I wanna try!

ps. I also felt that Mice and Mystics didn’t look that interesting to me.



My kids (6 and 8 at the time) and I played through the main campaign (which took about 25 hours) and the first expansion (another 6 or so hours), but got bogged down in the second expansion. It’s pretty simple and skirmishes are fairly easy to game out, but the narrative is pretty strong. It might be exactly what you’re looking for. If you think it looks boring, I’m not sure what you’re hoping to find elsewhere.

My kids like Mansions of Madness 2e also. It’s not a campaign though, and it can have a minor betrayal mechanic. (A character who collects too much insanity can secretly start working against the group.) But it’s consistently interesting, and the scenarios are not all skirmishes. (Some of them even–gasp!–have no combat at all.)



Has anyone stuck with Root after the honeymoon period? Every single person in my group doesn’t want to play it anymore after a month.



I’m pretty sure a 12 and 9 year old can grok Near & Far. The game in the series before it, Above & Below was a fairly standard worker-placement game that required some strategy and thinking. N&F, on the other hand, is a mostly just an adventure game.

And yeah, what Tom was alluding to was what I meant by ‘two different campaign modes’. The game includes 8 different character standees and a book of 10 maps. You can play the standard campaign, which is making a generic character with one of the standees and playing through all 10 maps in order- each one has different stories involved in travelling through them. The other mode is picking a standee and playing through that specific character’s story, usually travelling through 3-4 maps before finishing (which have little/no effect on her story), and these stories can have multiple choices/paths.

So really, with a group of three people, you could do the full ‘generic’ campaign 2-3 times (at least) and still see new content, then the specific campaigns twice with fully different crews and maps and still have two more stories you haven’t even touched yet.

The expansion is neat, but not necessary for your first play through. It just adds more ‘stuff’- a magic system, an expanded mine to explore (replaces the mine on the original game board), more treasures, threats, etc.and a few new map-specific scenarios/stories. .

There’s a rumor they’re playtesting another expansion, this time turning it into an indie-style freeform RPG along the lines of The Quiet Year, but nothing official has been announced.