Builders of Blankenburg (or BoB if you will) is a Euro-style resource and build type game that came out in 2016 after a (barely) successful Kickstarter. It looks and feels more than a bit like Lords of Waterdeep, which as you know is one of my all-time favorite games, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite match up. If I were to sum the game in one sentence I would say it’s a cool idea that is held back by some major issues in design.
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When Jessica and I got engaged one of our good friends told us to pick out a game off Amazon for an engagement gift and she would get it for us. After looking at the millions of board games available I settled on Lost Cities the Card Game for three reasons: it was a 2-player game, it had stellar ratings, and it was very reasonably priced (about $13 on Amazon right now). Turns out it’s one of those great games that is simple to learn but has a ton of strategy, and it’s one of the best 2-player games I’ve played.
Power Grid is a game my Dad picked up on a whim at a game store we were hanging out at. A few weeks later we busted it out and played a game, and I’ve played a second game since. It’s a card-based game that comes in a little 8 x 8 box. Looked to me like it should be a fairly simple quick kind of game.
Spoiler alert: not really!
Patchwork is a 2 player game that bills itself as being about putting together the best and most beautiful quilt using patches and a board. I was a little skeptical, thinking “How do you determine who has the ‘best’ quilt?” But in reality the game has nothing to with quilting; it’s more like a 2 player version of Tetris, where both players have to try to fit pieces on the board as best they can to cover the most space, while managing your one resource effectively.
Splendor is a card-buying game some friends introduced me to recently that I’m really enjoying. It has one of the hallmarks of a great game: it’s simple to learn and set up but has a deep strategy that changes with every playthrough. It’s for 2-4 players and only takes around 30 or 40 minutes to play. I’ve played it maybe 6 or 8 times now with both 2 and 4 players and really enjoyed it. It’s probably one I’ll be adding to the collection soon.
I played Lords of Waterdeep for the first time in September last year. A couple of friends were really into the iOS version, so when I had a chance to play the board game version with them I pounced on it. On my second turn of the first game I said to my friends “OK, you know it’s a good game when by the second turn you’re already going ‘Is it my turn yet?'” I quickly bought my own copy of it, adding the expansion not long afterward, and have been playing the heck out of it since. I’ve actually started to wear out the pieces and cards; I may have to eventually buy a new set to replace my current one! I have a pipe dream that WoTC will come out with a fancy deluxe version sometime, but I’m not exactly holding my breath on that one.
If you’ve never heard of Star Reporter it’s not too surprising. It’s a board game that was first published in 1937 with various incarnations coming out until the last version was printed in 1960. My dad played it when he was a kid (I didn’t realize until recently he never actually owned it, he always played a friend’s copy), and he’s mentioned occasionally over the years how much he enjoyed it and would like to play it again. So I found a nice copy of it on eBay and gave it to him for Father’s Day this year. As soon as he opened it and looked at it all he said, “OK, let’s play a game!” My mom was like, “Right now?” and Dad replied “Well yeah!” I’ve now played it twice and Dad has played it three times. It’s an absolutely classic board game, a real slice-of-the-times kind of thing, and pretty fun to play to boot!
My friend gave me this game for my birthday last year. It’s a cooperative game for 2 – 4 players (although you can totally play a solo game too), meaning either everyone wins or everyone loses. There are four characters to play: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern (the real GL, Hal Jordan), and Flash (Barry Allen, the best speedster). Each character has 5 enemies (called Arch Villains) that range from weak to powerful. The villains are trying to reach the Justice League satellite and destroy it, your goal is to take all the bad guys off the board before that happens. It seems pretty straightforward, but there’s a surprising amount of strategy.
Catchphrase is one of my newest gaming obsessions. I got hooked on it by Jimmy Fallon of all people. He regularly plays various games on Late Night, and Catchphrase is one he’s played a few times. Watching a short video or two from the show will let you see exactly how the game is played:
Dungeon Roll is a neat little dice-based game that started out as a Kickstarter campaign. My friend picked up and asked me to look at and review it. He mentioned it didn’t really click for him and something about it seemed off and he wanted me to take a look at it. When I first started playing it I knew exactly what he meant; when you first pick it up it doesn’t seem to “flow” very well. But once you’ve got the hang of the rules and the gameplay it evens out and becomes a pretty fun little game.