Aren’t tabletop board games great? Gathering a few of your chums around and battling it out of an evening is an endless source of fun. And, of course, adding a geeky bent to proceedings can only make that better.
So, if you’re fed up with your Monopolies and your Cluedos, here are some geeky tabletop board game options that our chums at Amazon are offering…
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Star Wars: Rebellion
Let’s start with an absolute gem. Star Wars: Rebellion is a wonderful way to while away a few hours, with two to four players enacting that age-old battle between the evil Empire and the plucky Rebel Alliance. Players get to control starships, troop movements and resources as they attempt to win over systems and recruit them to the cause. Sneaky attacks and sabotage add an extra cheeky layer to proceedings, and the game boasts over 150 miniatures. It’s a must for fans of George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away…
Another classic here: Pandemic begs the question, ‘Do you have what it takes to save humanity?’ To find out, you’ll have to dart around a map of planet Earth as a deadly disease spreads. It’s a very fun cooperative game for two to four players, and it’s endlessly challenging.
No two games of Pandemic are the same, with 96 different disease cubes making the threat highly variable and surprise cards in the deck adding extra difficulties at random points. Where will you build your research centres? Which areas will you try to treat first? Will you succeed, or will all mankind be doomed by your failure? No pressure.
Or, if ending mankind is more up your street than saving it, Contagion allows you to play Pandemic from the point of view of the disease. Two to five players can partake in the infectious fun, and this time it’s competitive rather than cooperative. The aim of the game is to annihilate the human race first and avoid being wiped out by the World Health Organisation. What fun!
Settlers Of Catan
The settlement-building sensation Catan saw its geek cred soar off the charts recently, when Supergirl and her chums were seen playing the game in an episode of the Melissa Benoist-starring series. Unless you get distracted by supervillains and fail to finish, the way to win is by earning ten victory points.
Each settlement you build is worth a point, and if you enhance it into city you get two. There are also points available for building the longest road and things like that. But to build anything, you need to pick up resource cards based on rolls of the dice and your position on the board. For extra fun, if you roll a seven, you can knock one of your rivals’ resource sources out of commission.
You can buy Catan now for £30.99, through Amazon Prime. And I can personally vouch for the ‘Seafarers’ expansion.
Football (well, the American version) meets fantasy in a whole new way with Blood Bowl, which sees two teams (humans and orcs) battling it out to score points in a game of two halves. Each team gets eight turns per half, with the rolls of the dice deciding how their attacking or defensive moves play out.
Blood Bowl can be chaotic, heated, and a lot fun. You can also mix the teams so everyone has a few humans and a few orcs, if anyone starts getting paranoid and claiming that either presents an unfair advantage.
The Walking Dead
If you’ve ever watched The Walking Dead and thought, ‘Gee, all that death and misery looks fun, I wish I could join in’, then this is the game for you. Based on AMC’s TV adaptation of the comics, this one allows players to adopt the identity of Rick, Glenn, Daryl or Michonne and work with their chums to stay alive.
One player must be the leader in each game, and call the shots about where on the board you should explore, camp and hunt for supplies (the layout of the board is shuffled around every time you play). Equipment, allies, food and ammo are the things you’ll want to find. Hungry walkers and angry nutjobs are not. Ulterior motive cards can be added to ramp up the difficulty.
Here’s one that we really love: Scythe, which takes place in an alternate 1920s when, as well as having to support their communities by harvesting crops and exploring new areas, townspeople also had to contend with giant monstrous robots called Mach’s. You can use these these mechanical monstrosities to deter the other players from encroaching on your turf, but drawing the wrong ‘encounter’ card could quickly turn the odds against you.
Scythe is one of those games that truly changes every time you play, and you’ll find yourself developing your own tactics to try and stay one step ahead of the latest developments. Plus, come on, robots in the ’20s!
Mansions Of Madness
Mansions Of Madness (which is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft) describes itself as a “fully cooperative, app-driven board game of horror and mystery for one to five players”. You’re encouraged to let an “immersive app guide you through the veiled streets of Innsmouth and the haunted corridors of Arkham’s cursed mansions as you search for answers and respite.”
There are four scenarios to play out, each of which has different ways it can go. You’ll have to work with your chums to survive and “conquer the evils terrorising this town.” If that sounds like your cup of tea, you can buy Mansions Of Madness through Amazon Prime for £74.25.
“In the land of Terra Mystica dwell 14 different peoples in seven landscapes, and each group is bound to its own home environment, so to develop and grow, they must terraform neighboring landscapes into their home environments in competition with the other groups.” That’s the basic premise of two to five player game, and once you’ve terraformed some areas accordingly, it’s all about building the right stuff.
The aim of the game is to guide your people to supremacy, whether it’s swamp, lake, plains, desert, forest, mountain or solitude that they need to survive. Strategy is key to this one, with the positioning of your clan and the directions you choose to expand in being vital to success. Visually, the board resembles that of Catan, but there’s a lot less luck involved with Terra Mystica.
The Hobbit board game is one of many attempts to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s wonderful world of Middle Earth into the tabletop gaming arena. Using a combination of strategy and luck, two to five players must take on dwarf identities to see who can guide Bilbo Baggins to the treasure of The Lonely Mountain, without falling prey to Smaug.
The product reviews on this one seem to agree that the rules seem complicated at first, but the game has great replay vaule once you get the hang of it. Also, why not have some iconic music from the film trilogies playing in the background to create an epic atmosphere?
“Wu-Feng, the Lord of the Nine Hells has found where the funeral urn containing his ashes is kept. His hordes are already marching upon the small village of the Middle Kingdom hiding them”. That’s the premise of Ghost Stories, which paves the way for an hour or so of high-stakes fun where ghosts and ghouls lurk around every corner.
One to four players must take on the roles of “taoist priests, who will have to defend the village from the army of shadows preparing to invade it. Each of them has different special powers which will help them in this mission.” The reviews look very positive, although it sounds like there will be a lot of in-game death before you feel you’re getting the hang of it.
“If you enjoy highly-thematic political intrigue, handle some good-natured infighting and backstabbing, you’ll enjoy Battlestar“, the official product description tells us. This one is a cooperative game, “with the added complication that one or more of the players is a secret Cylon traitor – your entire side will win or lose, and you might not even be certain who is on your side until the game ends!”
That sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? Three to six players can join in. You’ll randomly be assigned a side in the human/Cylon war, and the side you’re on will remain and secret and affect your goal. Will you seek to destroy the Galactica, or save it?
Terry Prachett: The Witches
Based on the novels of Terry Pratchett, The Witches is aimed at players aged 12 and up, and it can be played by one to four people at a time. “A subtle blend of headology, magic and, of course, the all-important cup of tea will see our heroines tackle everything from a sick pig to a full-blown invasion of elves”, the description explains.
“Each player tries to be better at everything than the others, while also cooperating to prevent crises from escalating.” This is a game that you can play “competitively, cooperatively, or solo”, and it features a variety of characters from the books.
If you’ve got a favourite tabletop game that we neglected to mention here, please do plonk it in the comments…