Boardgaming in 2019!


I was introduced to the wonderful world of 18XX when I spent last semester in Canada, and now that I am back home I am planning to throw various 18XX-games at my friends to see if they stick. I’ve decided to start with 18AL, and have started checking around if it is feasible to have it printed on cardstock.


If you want a higher-quality production, I highly recommend 1846 from GMT as well. Its relatively simple as far as 18XX goes, and should be faster than most (though your first couple games might still be quite long). My only complaint about it is that the capitalization is a bit different than the other 18XX games I’ve played, though it is actually a bit more forgiving.


I’ve played that, and have a copy of it incoming, but I see 18AL is a recommended one for beginners. Thanks for the suggestion, though!


Share my experience with a few simple games I received over Christmas. I like big, heavy games, but unfortunately I have zero people to play with, so I have gotten into lighter party games.

The Mind - This was a game that I really enjoyed when I played it on Christmas… but I can’t say the rest of the table enjoyed it. Most everyone seemed frustrated by the inability to talk while playing the game. For me, I found the non-verbal communication of it all to be extremely fascinating.

Azul - I was able to convince my wife to play this with me, and even she enjoyed it! I think it is a magnificent game. So simple to learn with a nice tactile feel to the tiles - but the attention to your individual strategy as well as your opponents strategy makes it really interesting. This is a game I hope I can get out regularly

Also, I have a 4 and 2 year old. I know that some people here have had success with kids of those ages and more advanced games, but my kids (my 4 y/o in particular) struggles following rules with games. We’ve tried a bunch, and the only thing that she liked was Jenga where she could moderately follow the rules.

However, this year I got the 2 y/o a game called the Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game - and my kids LOVE This game. Basically, you have a tree with a bunch of acorns of different colors. You have a spinner, and when it is your turn, you spin it and take the acorn of the color you spun. The spinner also has spots for picking any acorn of any color or 2 acorns of any color as well as a spot to steal from another player, lose a turn or lose all your acorns back to the tree. Anyway, good game for teaching colors and counting of numbers under 3, as well as introduction to some individual and group strategy.


My triplet nephews & niece are coming over tonight for a board game night before they head back to college. Looking forward to it as we’ve only dabbled in the occasional social game, etc, during family get togethers. Will hopefully be able to squeeze a few of the following in, depending on how it goes:

5 Minute Dungeon - just got this w/ the Cursed expansion, might be frantic with 5
Networks w/ Executive exp - haven’t tried the expansion yet
Argent: The Consortium - haven’t played this yet but looks fun
Champions of Midgard - might be too much going on in this one, we’ll see
Treasure Hunter - quick fun card game
Viticulture - one of my wife & I’s favorites, might be too long

Any other suggestions that have 5 players as a sweet spot, just in case I happen to have them?


I’ve heard good things about that game, I need to look into it more. The fact that it may run long probably disqualifies it from being added to my library for now, anyway.


It’s a really pretty game, and I feel the theme works really well w/ the gameplay. The large variety of mini-expansions makes for great replayability too. There can be some luck in which cards you draw though.


El Grande is great with 5 and still unmatched as an area control game (although I have yet to play Blood Rage which looks pretty good).


How is Monoply’s roll & move (buy) any different from Catan’s roll & harvest?

[q]Catan is also way shorter than any game of Monopoly I’ve played (admittedly, it’s been a very long time), even with early elimination–which, while we’re on the subject, is pretty much always a garbage mechanic except for extremely short games, because of the social burdens it usually causes outside the game.[/q]

If anyone says Monopoly takes longer than 30 minutes, they’ve forgotten what Monopoly is like (i.e. original auction + no free parking money rules). I’m being totally earnest when I say that I don’t see how Catan’s trading is any deeper or more meaningful than Monopoly’s, or how random die rolling for resource collecting is majorly different from random die rolling for choice property purchasing. In fact, I’d say Monopoly’s is more strategic because of the auction system where you have to risk applying pressure and driving up the price even for properties you don’t want.

Early elimination is a blessing compared to early soft elimination of being regulated to crippled kingmaker for the rest of the game.

I wouldn’t play either if anything else was available, but I would always pick Monopoly over Catan. Monopoly isn’t even in the bottom 20, and isn’t that bad if you’re comparing to classic family board games. I just don’t get why it’s always held up as the hobby’s anti-Christ when stuff like Sorry! or Zombies!!! or Mage Knightexist.


My son was able to grok Agricola (and similar games) at 5. (Though we had to play the family rules because he couldn’t read the cards well enough.) But, he couldn’t form any strategies or respond to what I was doing or see how those two things inform each other. He was mostly just churning through his engine, more for aesthetics than to win. (e.g. I have 20 pigs!) Now at 8, he has started to do strategic thinking. My 11 y/o actively conceives and tries to implement various strategies, though she still is slow to modify her strategy in response to what I’m doing. Her favorite current game is Evolution: Climate.

My take though, playing games with them for the last few years as they get older, is that younger kids (4-5 y/o) do best with unstructured gameplay. Narrative cooperative games (e.g. Mice and Mystics) work because the story is prime and you can guide the action. Engine builders are fine if you’re playing to simulate farming or whatever. I’d loosely use and enforce the rules just enough to guide their creativity. Let them set up a donkey cavern hauling rubies from the depths in Caverna or whatever. My kids used Descent tiles and minis to make a giant monster training academy, with loose adherence to that game’s rules for movement and sightlines. 6-7 y/o’s can start doing strategy in games with simple rules: Ticket to Ride, Azul, Kingdomino, etc. 8+ can start doing strategy in games with more complex rules. I used to pull my punches so they’d win. But now I don’t. (I do still usually beat them, but they’re getting sharper and sharper.)


Perhaps you’re not familiar with the term, but roll-and-move implies a track around a board. Basically, Monopoly, Talisman, Doom that Came to Atlantic City, the two games I linked, and pretty much anything in the olden days that was a boardgame but not a wargame. Roll-and-move doesn’t mean any game where dice determine something.



I don’t think of Viticulture as a particularly long game. If you’ve got a group (or couple) who knows the game, turns are short and quick. It does have the odd Stonemaier characteristic of ending suddenly, which I actually like. It’s more about efficiently building up your engine than using it to make point salad during the last couple of rounds. The game typically ends just when you get the engine running. The visitor cards make it just a bit too random for me, but it’s a fun thematic game.


I think he means conceptually they are similar. In Monopoly you don’t roll and move to race other players (as with more typical roll and move), but to determine your turn’s payment/buying options in a somewhat structured yet random manner (normally from lowest to highest potential value, with low rolls allowing for easier set completion but arriving later to high value properties).

You could feasibly move Monopoly from the board to a different layout and get a very similar outcome in terms of what dynamics come into play (in that way, the board actually makes little sense, thematically, with the core of the game). In some way that particular mechanic is clever in that it takes a very familiar mechanic for the time -roll and move- and uses it to model something very different to what it usually modeled (the aforementioned race). Although it still does not give the player many (any?) options.

I’m not defending Monopoly, but I do see his point.


Moving a piece around the board in Monopoly is incidental. In both cases the die roll ultimately translates to who gets a resource and who doesn’t, whether it’s a property or brick. You use those resources to cut people off in Catan. You use those resources to cut people off in Monopoly. Both games you cash in die results to expand and solidify positions that will result in more die rolls being favorable to you than your opponent so that the law of averages will eventually declare you the winner. You bargain with other players to make trades for specific things you lack that will allow you to complete those strangleholds.

You’re not playing Monopoly if you’re not using the auction rules, and >95% of people never use the auction rules. Imagine playing Terraforming Mars without drafting!


Imagine a Monopoly board that consisted of a 2D grid of streets, so players had more choice about their path. You could use a round tracker to determine when everyone should collect income and pay taxes.


Although that would give the players more options than in the original game, I was looking more for a different representation with very similar outcomes in the long term and no player agency, but more thematic consistency.


I will keep that in mind.

My older daughter just isn’t a structured, focused thinker like many boardgames require. She will get there at some point, but maybe never to the point I can sit down and play anything more complicated than Catan. Her mom is the same way, and she gets annoyed with games that I love like Clank! (which I don’t think is very heavy or even fiddly). Your point about narrative games is a good one, and something I will keep in mind.

My younger daughter is much more focused and I expect she and I will enjoy many games together :)


Last week we played Marvel Strike Team.

I was really impressed with this one. Its a one verse many Descent style game using custom heroclix miniatures. It was a game t I really enjoyed, and was impressed how easily the game scales on the number of players from 2 to 5 so easily, using a point system to buy heroes and villains. The game is pretty much diceless, and has leveling up the hero, unique narrative aspect, a ongoing campaign option, and buying cards to represent your powers which brings up the feel of Gloomhaven mixed with heroclix.

A single mission game is broken into 3 stages, with 6 cards for each stage your can draw from. Each stage has a unique objective for the heroes that last 4 turns, in 1 stage you might need to access a computer terminal to open a door, while another two heroes need to trade blows and then spend actions making up during a frenemy stage. There are 16 stage cards so this makes for some interesting narrative moments. Some that create a unique story, and some that require some immigration to make sense. :) Btw, the first 2 stages are known and face up, and the last stage is face down and isn’t revealed to till turn 9. This gives the ability of the villain player to potentially lure the heroes out of position for the last stage. Add to this that the game supports stringing missions into a campaign with a leveling system and there is a LOT of meat here!

How superheroy is the game, VERY. This is very important to me, as while fun, games like Marvel heroes did a poor job of bringing the feel of playing a superhero or superhero team to life. In fact I would say despite a single niggle, is the best representation of powers of simulating powers in a board game so far (including SofMV and Guardians Chronicles).

The powers really reflect the powers of the heroes they represent. Each power has a cost and a level 1 hero has 8 points to by his powers. Very powerful abilities have longer cool down periods and expensive, but there is a nice mix of abilities that reflect the heroes feel and offer interesting combos with other heroes! Same on the villain side. There are no dice for attacks or defense, and each action costs a set number of action points. So people very strong in math can quickly figure out the min/max of a certain set up actions to reach their objectives.

I do like the diceless combat, BUT I think it misses a little bit of the chaos of a tactical battle. You can figure out quickly before your turn if you are going to complete your goals or come up a little short, or have extra action points left over. I think adding a single dice of randomness to the current system would offer a little more incentive to try and add a little push your luck aspect to the game as well a little uncertainty to a turn. I have a mod idea that I would really like to try , and hopefully bring these aspects I wish to see to life.

I love this game for its superheroyness, and cant wait to play more of it.


  • Great implementation of superpowers that feel reflective of the hero/villain you are playing
  • Interesting stage system that creates unique narrative combos, some with a a very clear narrative tone, some requiring some imagination to make sense
  • Campaign system with leveling up your heroes and a way to balance play if hero verse villain levels are not in synch
  • Quick easy to grasp diceless system
  • The rules are clear and concise, though maps and scenarios create conditions not covered.


  • A completely diceless combat system makes it tough to emulate the chaos of a tactical battle, making it easier to pick a optimum path if your math inclined and lacks the needed push your luck element.
  • The game creates maps and conditions not covered in the rules.



Dude, isn’t she 4? Give her brain a little time to develop :D I’ve been trying to play games with my 4 and 7yo girls but I usually turn it into some sort of co-op experience. The 7yo really started grasping rules & structure in the past year or two. We’ve played Dragonwood and 5 Minute Dungeon together lately and she’s really taken to those. The 4yo is still more interested in the pieces or cards than actually playing so it makes it tough to follow all the rules exactly. As long as everyone has fun though, mission accomplished!


My gf is the same way. She won’t tolerate anything more complex than, say, Azul. Which is fine! Azul is an elegant and deep strategy game. But, like I taught my kids Gizmos over the holidays in about 15 minutes. Gizmos with my gf OTOH was a dismal failure. It’s interesting: she’s super competitive and loves strategy, but just doesn’t want to spend brainpower on complex rulesets.

I played Clank! with my son over the holidays too. He totally had it in the bag, nabbed the knapsack and two treasures quick and hightailed to the surface, deliberately grabbing cards away from me that I needed. It was pretty awesome. I still won, but only because I got a couple of lucky card draws in the last two rounds and barely hauled my carcass out of the depths in time. His strategy was sound and consistent.