Risk. It has a lot of memories attached to it, to some it brings a glow to the heart for others a chill to the soul. Lets be honest, it is the war game that most people think of when they think of board games, but it doesn’t need to be. Lest we forget it was released in 1957 and games have come a long way since then. Here are a few games to scratch that itch, without the 4 hour timeframe and 300 units piled into Australia.
1. Small World
Special abilities ahoy. Lots of replay-ability and importantly nowhere to hide. Some games with conflict allow players to ‘Turtle’, BORING, in this game if you don’t attack you don’t win. It does lack dice (Yes it does have one), which some people love, but it does have lots of, ‘Get him, he’s winning’ types of negotiation. Pretty easy to learn and plays in a reasonable time frame. A good one to bring out with new gamers and those looking for something relatively easy and fun.
2. Memoir 44/Command and Colours/Battlelore
Based on the Command and Colours system, these games are all at their heart the same. Your preference will likely depend of your taste in theme:
Memoir 44 – World War 2
Command and Colours – Ancients of Rome/Greece etc…
Battlelore – Fantasy
Memoir 44 is the easiest to learn and the one you should probably try first down at the Cafe if you want to get a taste of the system. Lots of dice, combined with a decent amount of tactics and strategy. Its also a beautiful game with lots of miniatures and colorful boards. The C&C system is card based. You play a card from your hand which allows you to activate a certain type of unit or units in an area of the board. Managing the orders you have in your hand is the key to the game.
A blend of Euro and War games. You have a choice of 7 actions available from which you can only pick 5 each round. A tech tree allows you to upgrade your units and gain special powers. Its a first to X points type of game that rewards players for starting fights (Huzzah). If all your friends want to play a thinky game, but you want to smack the snot out of them, this may be the compromise.
4. Game of Thrones
Released 5 years ago and based off of the books, as opposed to the TV show, this ain’t your pick up the rules in 5 minutes type of game. The first to 7 castles wins. The main mechanic is to play orders into the regions you control, using them to expand your forces and gain influence to try and claim the Iron Throne and a better selection of actions. You can make deals with neighbors and try to make sure you stab them in the back before they do it to you. Best played with more players, but that does mean more time, for an already long, but great game.
A local favorite, designed by Touko Tahkokallio, who went to UVic and played games down at Interactivity games in its previous incarnation. One of the best rated games in the world, its a classic 4X game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate). Lots of choice in how you play the game, players get point if they initiate conflict, but its not the only way to win. Develop technologies and apply them to your ships and build an empire but the bigger it is the more you have deal with the bureaucracy that comes with it.
5. Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear
The most complex squad level war game we have in the library, its beautiful design offers a rewarding experience and a tonne of tactical possibilities. As war games go it’s fairly light, but if games were animals, the average war game would be a hippo and Settlers a mouse, so this one would probably be an small sheep (makes total sense!). Its a great starting point for someone wanting to get into ‘real’ wargaming.
6. Twilight Struggle
A card driven war game and among gamers, rated as the best game in the world (they are wrong! See next entry). A Cold War theme , that pits the USA and Soviet Union against each other in an attempt to try and dominate as much of the globe as possible. Its tense, exciting and rewards multiple playings. After a game you feel quite drained with all the effort involved…and if you’ve lost, well I’ve seen people get divorced over less…
7. Ascending Empires
I’m pretty sure I told you this was the best game in the Universe last blog and not one person came down to the Cafe to play it. I’m sorry if I’m not clear enough. THIS IS THE BEST GAME IN THE UNIVERSE! Don’t make me say it again!