Gaming 241

Published on November 24th, 2008 | by Greg


Board Games o’ Plenty: Rio Grande, Cranium, and Fantasy Flight

We’ll be taking a break shortly for Thanksgiving, but before we do, we wanted to share the results of our month-long gaming marathon. Fought nightly in between testing other items, we looked at around a dozen board games, most of them pretty new. Some of them are aimed at families, others at groups, and a few of them at more specific audiences- but almost any of them would make a good gift for the appropriate person, because pretty much all of them were fun!

Last in our five-part series on board games we will be taking a look at 3 games from other publishers. These are three radically different games, and are pretty new (one of them has barely been reviewed elsewhere)! Finally, in contrast to some of our earlier games, these are more adults-focused.

Let’s begin with Cranium’s Party Playoff- a 4+ player game that isn’t intellectually intimidating, and features a pretty nifty board that looks like your local football tournament pool. The game isn’t strategic in a normal way, but you’ll be required to guess the attitudes and actions of the other players, as players will be arguing against one another each round on the merits of a specific question. The board is divided into sections (people, places, things, and “moves”), and various cards are placed in the appropriate places to create the matchups, as two people or places are offered as options for the answer to a question like “Which would be a better place to propose?” It sounds complicated, and is a bit, especially with all of the guessing. But, as long as you have a group willing to stand the setup time, it’s fun too. Party Playoff is a pretty strong contender for a party game, if you have the time and a crowd who likes to argue. Pricing information was not available, as the game is yet-to-be-released.

Next up is Dominion from Rio Grande Games. This is a two-to-four player game aimed at strategy fans, and takes a while to learn and a bit to play (only about 30 minutes though, so no that bad). As the title suggests, this is a game about land grabbing from other players, with a medieval theme, and features lots of variables to tweak (by changing the composition of the deck, mainly) so is very replayable. There are really only 25 types of cards though, broken down into currency cards, curses, victory points, and the like, and this is a game that is totally and completely about the deck (no real board)! This innovative mechanic will grab some players and turn others off- think Magic: The Gathering or similar games, but easier to learn and better working with more than 2 players. Dominion ($30) might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for strategy and deck-building fans, this is a deep, fun, and pretty fast game.

Finally, if the geek in you isn’t appeased with the appearance of robots, try the new Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game from Fantasy Flight. It works better if you have seen (and enjoy) the television show, but it’s fun even if you don’t know a Six from an Eight. Each of the three-to-six players gets to act as a different character from the show, which is pretty neat, and the game is generally co-operative: generally, because one (in a three or four player game, two in a larger game) of the players may be a Cylon agent who needs to work against the rest of the group. Best of all, half-way through the game, there is a chance that any player may find themselves to be a Cylon! You take turn drawing skill cards, and then there is always a crisis that affects play- and sometimes a Cylon attack, which will show how to setup the included ships which adds a nice (if complicated) feel to the experience. And if that wasn’t enough, players can out themselves as Cylong agents, which limits them in some ways, but offers other new options. It feels balanced, well-thought-out, and is pretty replayable. Available now, online and in stores, for around $40.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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