In case you missed last week’s article and don’t quite have the time to go back and give it a look, I’ll give you a quick recap. My number ten mechanism was dice rolling. There is a particular thrill that comes from rolling a handful of dice. It’s also nice to not have to worry about min-maxing all my moves. My favorite two dice rolling games right now are Zombicide: Invader and Xia: Legends of a Drift System. One lets players play cooperative, chucking handfuls of dice to defeat an onslaught of Xenos, white the other is a sandbox game of space exploration where no action can be performed without a fair amount of risk.
My number 9 mechanism was point to point movement. It’s a simple mechanic when it comes to overall game design but creates a certain level of tension as players race from location to location. Done right, there can be a lot of decisions and logistical planning required to get from point A to point B efficiently. My two favorite and highest recommended games included Clank! and Great Western Trail. Clank! will allow you to press your luck as you race players to valuable treasure. Great Western Trail is all about remaining as efficient as possible while repeatedly herding your cattle to Kansas City.
Now on to the main attraction.
#8 – Tile Placement
We as human being are naturally drawn to creating things. Whether it’s art or just a delicious meal, there is something rewarding about taking small meaningless things and combining them to be something even bigger and better. Tile placement games feed this need to create. Usually players either work together to create a main board or build out an individual player board involving some sort of spatial puzzle. When the end of the game rolls around it’s nice to just sit back, admire your creation, and think about everything you’d do differently next time to create something even better. Because of the way things unfold and come together throughout the game, it also means that the game’s replay-ability is naturally higher than most others.
Ever wanted to feel like a good old fashioned pilgrim? Me neither. But this isn’t the Mayflower you just disembarked, it’s the Keyflower. You are now responsible for building a successful village that not only supports you and your followers but also is inviting to others who may seek out your services. Players will use three different colors of workers to both purchase tiles, via a bidding mechanic, and then later activate them. If you don’t carefully manager your work force you will undoubtable be starving for both population and points.
Keyflower is an interesting game full of a bunch of different mechanisms. At first it is easy to believe that tile placement may take a back seat to the other elements of worker placement and bidding. But with repeated plays is has become apparent that how you build your village can be quite important. Depending on what tiles you purchase will determine how interested other players will be in sending their workers to your village. Secondly, how you place those tiles will determine how easy, or how difficult, it is to get the resources you need to the tiles where they will score you the most points. Not to mention the potential point at the end go the game for the having efficiently planned villages.
Who needs a full on zoo when you can just go and see a park full of bears. If the name wasn’t a dead give-a-way BarenPark is about players building the best bear park they can. Players start with one player board and a simple polyomino. When it’s their turn they get to add the tile onto their player board, covering up one or more icons. Depending on what icon they cover will determine what new tiles they get to add to their supply to later add to their park. Players parks will continue to grow as they strive to complete each section of their park for bonus statues and complete public objectives for extra points.
This is one of the most straight forward tile placement games I know of. Each turn, while meaningful, is very simple. It is probably not my highest rated game but one that I am always eager to teach to other. Everyone I have payed it with has enjoyed it. The theme and artwork are charming. The game play is smooth and quick. There is always a sense of urgency as the best tiles get taken quickly. And when all is said and done it is a game that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
#7 – Area Control
Like many others out there I grew up playing the MOST EPIC games of Risk. I can now see the error in my ways, but there’s no denying there is a certain amount of satisfaction that arises from the area control elements of the game. Despite how mean it is, there’s some real fun in seeing something that you want and going out and just taking it. I think we can all agree that Australia was well worth fighting for, am I right? To be honest, I am more a fan of a sub-genre of the mechanism call “area majority”. The difference between the two is that in area control me entering said area means removing you and all your hard work, while area majority means we can both occupy the area but whoever has the majority of forces actually controls the area and receives its benefits.
Let me just say that I adore this game. It is so simple yet so full of agonizing decisions. You are a leader of a Celtic clan trying to spread your influence. This influence can be achieved through three different means; though having presence in a number of areas, though controlling area contains a certain number of sanctuaries, or controlling a particular number of other players tribesmen. How do you accomplish any one of these goals. Each round players will draft cards containing actions on them. These actions will determine what you are able to do that particular round, whether it was attacking, moving, exploring, building, or drawing powerful epic tale cards.
The rules overhead is so straight forward, you can probably teach the game in no more than 5-10 minutes. Then you once you begin drafting the cards you really see how everything comes together to create an amazing game. Your goal is to set yourself up to complete one of the game objectives but you don’t actually win until the end of the round. But before the round is over you actually have to take a full turn just announcing the fact that if all the other players don’t stop you, then you’ll win. Timing is everything in this game. I just love it and don’t think I can do it justice without just sitting down with you and playing it.
On the other end of the spectrum is a tiny card game just for 2 players. In Hanamikoji players each compete to win the favor of 7 different geishas. Each round you have 4 possible actions available to you, but the order in which to take them is completely up to you. Each action will involve adding cards to both your side and your opponent’s side of the lineup of geishas. This is in an attempt to have more cards on your side than your opponent for as many of the geishas as possible. Although its not area control with armies of miniatures, the cards you play will determine majority control of each geisha.
Despite only having four different possible actions the game is agonizingly brutal. Each action will somehow involve you helping you opponent. Managing a hand of cards while trying benefit you opponent the least possible is really stressful. I absolutely love how tense each game is. But by far the best part is knowing that your opponent on the other side of the table is just as stressed as you are. The game plays quick and the art on the cards is really thematic. For the price point, this is 2 player game I will always recommend.
And there you have it, check back next week for numbers 6 and 5.