Over the past decade, non-geeks have turned on to board games (or tabletop games, as they’re now called). These are more than Monopoly, Clue, and Life. Modern tabletop games rise above simple mechanics based on luck with a hint of strategy. Bluffing games may require you to fool all other players. Complex deck games may require several-steps-ahead strategy on a par with chess. Snarky word games are hilarious with the right sense of humor. The tabletop has changed.
So, where to start?
Fledgling gamers and even those with some experience may enjoy the “gateway games.” King of Tokyo, Ticket to Ride, and Settlers of Catan are fairly easy to learn and enjoyable right out of the gate. King of Tokyo – based on larger-than-life Japanese movie monsters like the mighty Godzilla – is especially entertaining for those who remember and still watch those movies. Ticket to Ride is a wide-roaming adventure in geography and planning; while Catan tests your personality in survivor mode – will you trade to win or block the other players?
Like to get loud?
In Pit, you’re trading in the stock market, so you’re constantly calling out trades as you race other players to corner the market. Trade calls start at booming, moving up through thunderous and occasionally into deafening, but it’s all in good fun. Or for silly, there’s Snorta – a game that strains your memory, your eye-mouth coordination, and your ability to make animal noises – usually at ear-piercing volume. Yep, animal noises. We love that game!
If you have any favorite fantasy video games, you might want to consider Munchkin – a hilarious parody where you not only explore the dungeon, destroy the monsters, and steal the treasure; but also backstab your friends and look for every opportunity to exploit the rules to your advantage. Play it with a pinch of salt and a dash of good-natured “take that!”
Speaking of “take that…”
RoboRally, Exploding Kittens, and any one of the many Fluxx variants allow you to ‘one-up’ your fellow players. Robots on the production floor of RoboRally can zap you with lasers from their backsides; Exploding Kittens challenges you to force other players to take that awful exploding kitten; while Fluxx allows you to change the goal of the game as soon as you see another player is winning. Bonus points for Fluxx: we have it in Wizard of Oz, Sci-Fi, and Zombie flavors. This is your game if you’re a free-wheeling type with a vague sense of nostalgia.
No More Fighting
But enough about cutthroat competition – how about a little cooperation? Yep, that comes in boxed sets, too. Award-winning games like Forbidden Island and Pandemic explore leadership, teamwork, and logistics. Forbidden Island pits four to six archaeologists (players) against an island that’s sinking fast. Work together or go down with the island. In Pandemic, you race against a virus rapidly spreading around the globe.
The Artist Within Us All.
Got a wordsmith, an actor, or an artist in the party? Codenames and Dixit run the popular gamut from careful word choice ala Password to esoteric and downright artsy word stylings. Dixit is definitely the game for mixed tables of writers and artists. Or for something completely different, try Rory’s Story Cubes: roll the dice and tell the best story using every picture that comes up. Can you think on your feet and tell the best story?
Die Hard Geeks Like…
For a dizzying set of options and true strategy, you can’t beat modern titles like Dominion, Coup, or Smash Up. These deck management games require you to think several moves ahead, exploit your strengths (or even build your strengths, card by card), and play the long game to victory. Coup adds the uncertainty of compelling bluffing to the mix. Each can take an hour or more, but for the geeky gamer there’s nothing better than a good challenge.
Fun, Funner, Funnest.
Snarky title Apples to Apples is a family favorite, while teens will get a kick out of Love2Hate – both games where one player reads an attribute and other players choose the funniest, snarkiest, most sarcastic and hilarious responses. Adults only can go way off the deep end of that trend with Cards Against Humanity.
What About Kids?
Modern games have evolved; for some games, age matters not. Aquarius is as complex as the players choose to make it. FitzIt requires some out-of-the-box thinking, perfect for flexible young minds. Many other titles mentioned above are well-suited to the precocious young gamer – we could list age ranges, but parents are usually a better judge of abilities than simply counting the number of orbits around the sun.
Wait, How Does That Rule Go Again? (Groan)
No matter what your gaming style, playing a game you don’t understand is no fun. That’s why we have at least two Game Guides at each Decks, Dice, and Meeples event. We’ve played the games before and we’ll walk you through the goal (how to win), the moves (what each player can do), and the flavor of the game. From there, you figure out your strategy. It’s the perfect balance – exploring new options with an experienced guide.
Don’t Miss a Game
Since we’re a pop-up outfit, we show up in various restaurants and shops mostly around Genesee County – but hey, you could find us anywhere in western New York including Buffalo and Rochester. We have an monthly gig at Moonjava Cafe, but we’re also open to events, fundraisers, parties, and other venues.
If you’d like to know where we’ll be next, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you’d like to bring us into your event, fundraiser, or party please contact us directly via email. We’ve also got an open group on Facebook called WNY Peeps & Meeps – if you’d just like to talk games online. All are welcome! We hope to see you soon!