Published on February 9th, 2010 | by Greg0
Days of Wonder for Board Games
I envy the current generation of children for getting to grow up with such awesome board games. We’re in a veritable board game renaissance and the complex decision-making involved combined with the even more fun game play, makes these games truly better than the previous generation.
Days of Wonder is one such company answering the call for new and exciting games. The first game is a very now concept — that is, the world is too small, so everybody on the board is vying for territory. Aptly named “Small World”, this board game was released in early 2009 and contains dwarves, wizards, amazons, orcs, humans and giants!
The initial concept read to me like a Lord of the Rings version of the video game Civilization. You have a race and special powers, like dragons, flying, etc. You’re competing for this small area and (here’s where it gets interesting) when your race reaches its pinnacle, you can declare it is in “decline” and start trying edge another race on the board. The concept is fairly elegant and fantastical and at the end of a set number of turns, points are all tallied up and the winner is declared.
The game has an initial learning curve, but when you get it, it plays very well for both 4 and 2 players (there’s even two boards based on the number of players). Perhaps my only complaint is I always felt like I was waiting for people to complete their turn, but that’s me with most games, as my co-workers can attest. Small World is meant for ages 8+ and is for 2-5 players. It’s available for $50 on their site or Amazon.
Ticket to Ride is a game we’ve heard about for ages. It’s known for being a fairly straightforward game (not too many rules) that is easy to learn, finishes in about an hour, and is extremely playable. It’s been so successful that they’ve released several different versions of this game, covering various countries and regions like Germany and the Nordic Countries. The goal with Ticket to Ride is to build train lines, which you do by collecting cards of corresponding colors and then playing them at strategic moments. It’s also meant for players 8 and older, and can handle two to five people.
We tried out Ticket to Ride Europe, which is an ideal concept because Europe is such a train-focused continent. It seems to be a bit smaller than the original Ticket to Ride, which may mean that it’s more ideal for children or those that would like a quicker game. The Europe version also has a slightly more flexible system to work around its seemingly smaller board by allowing the player to build “stations” that will enable them to use other players’ already-built railway lines.
When we tried the game out with the Europa 1912 Expansion pack, however, the gameplay got a bit more complicated. This expansion allows for three different types of gameplay: an expanded Europe with 19 new lines, a big cities version with tickets to 9 cities, and a “mega” expansion which uses just about everything. This version also introduces “warehouses” to the game, which are supposed to add an additional strategic layer and can be used with any of the Ticket to Ride series. All the different variations allowed us to play a much longer and more interesting game and this expansion pack really allowed the grown-ups among us to get our game on.
In total, the Europe edition of Ticket to Ride allows for a small amount of geography as well, always a good perk. Ticket to Ride Europe is available for $50 on their site or Amazon and the Europa 1912 Expansion pack is available for $20 on their site and Amazon.
After our hours of fun, we hope more children get to play these board games. The balance is struck between complex and simple gameplay, preparing future generations for a world where complex decision-making skills are required.