Spent the weekend of the fourth celebrating freedom with some old friends and new board games. Well, new to me at least, save our massive crossover of Trivial Pursuits. I've always wanted to directly test my knowledge of trivia from 1980's versus friends' knowledge of Star Wars, Disney films, or books.
I lost. Terribly. But in my defense, some of the people I know are really into Star Wars.
In the wake of Dominion's popularity the deck-building game genre has exploded across the tabletop gaming world. Legendary takes the concept and applies a Marvel comics sheen. We collectively lost a number of games, which I blame mostly on the fact that my friends would not let me fashion my own set of The Tick themed cards. I have to hope that eventually someone makes a New England Comics deck-builder. It's a distinct possibility considering the genre already includes games based on DC Comics, Resident Evil, and the NHL, which is good, since most of these games function the same so it's all about finding a theme that works for you.
Kingdom Builder is a fairly straightforward area-control strategy game leaning much more heavily on luck than strategy. Still, easy and quick, with enough variation in the map and goals to keep things interesting.
Marketed as "The Most Awesome-Est Game Ever" Smash Up takes the deck-building and subdivides it to make what they call a "shufflebuilding game". Each player picks two factions -- aliens, robots, zombies, wizards, ghosts, ninjas, pirates, etc, etc -- shuffles them together for their team, fighting the other teams for control of various venues of invasion. Helps solve the age old arguments, I suppose, though it's a lot more fun in concept than execution.
More than even Cards Against Humanity, Dixit will be the reason I no longer table Apples to Apples. Full of delightfully whimsical illustrations (each expansion drawn by a different artist, the original set by Marie Cardouat), Dixit challenges you the "storyteller" to describe your card in a word or two that would lead it to be picked from a group of other cards, but not so directly that everyone picks the correct card because then you lose. Shades of Balderdash and French fairy tales.
Taking the deck-building concept and applying it to word games, Paperback has players building words with a deck of letters to earn pennies to put toward writing hit paperback novels as well as more letters to be able to make better words. I bought my copy after seeing the box featured in a picture of someone else's library submitted to Tabletop's tumblr and thinking that I had to own any game with a typewriter motif. It was a Kickstarter, apparently, though there were extras and I managed to snag one of the last of the first printing.
Through his Cheapass Games imprint James Ernest has released a plethora of weird little games with weirder meta-stories. I had the pleasure of meeting the man at Origins last month and fondly recalled how he hooked me based solely on titles like Devil Bunny Needs a Ham and Unexploded Cow. Escape from Elba is a word-building game wherein each player is Napoleon trying to break out of a suspiciously asylum-like Island of Elba, collect letters by winning fights against other "guests" of Elba, but make sure to level up by losing fights or you'll never be strong enough to make it out.
All in all a good weekend. I've already purchased Dixit and convinced myself that I didn't really need Smash Up. I'm the real winner, then, even if my record was abysmal.