The modern board game scene has absolutely exploded over the past decade, and there are more great board games available than ever. So many, in fact, that it can be difficult to decide what to play next.
These seven board games from the latter half of 2016 should be high on your list of titles to play!
1. Terraforming Mars [UK/CA]
This game was such a smash hit that it can be difficult to find (though a second printing is almost certainly assured). If you can get your hands on a copy, though, you absolutely should. It’s a game of card drafting, resource management, engine-building, and occasional conflict. Players take control of corporations intent on terraforming the red planet and making as much money out of it as they can.
You’ll crash asteroids into the atmosphere, raise livestock, set up companies and conglomerates, and engage in some under-handed activities to ensure that your company is the richest at the end of the game. The rules aren’t especially complex, and the game provides a great amount of strategy and fun. And with the average playtime sitting at about two hours, it doesn’t take all day to play.
(If you want to be one of Elon Musk’s Mars colonists, you could use the practice.)
2. Star Wars: Rebellion [UK/CA]
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a good Star Wars board game that wasn’t part of a series (and, therefore, very expensive to get into). Rebellion perfectly channels the conflict of the space opera by pitting a powerful Imperial player against a smaller, agile Rebel crew. The Empire wins if they can find the Rebel base, while the Rebellion secures victory by surviving long enough and swaying the galaxy’s opinion in their favor.
With over 150 detailed miniatures, two game boards (featuring 32 of Star Wars‘ most recognizable planets), a wide variety of missions, and a host of familiar faces, Rebellion is a perfect addition to any Star Wars fan’s collection. It’s rather expensive, and takes in the three-to-four-hour range to play, but it’s a phenomenally good game, and worth the time and money it requires.
If you’re not into sprawling, conflict-driven games, give First Class a try. Each player is in charge of building up two Orient-Express-era trains. By drafting cards, players lengthen and upgrade their trains and send them along their routes. By having the biggest, most luxurious train, and the most passengers, you’ll accrue the most victory points and win the game.
The game comes with five different modules, and every game uses a set of base cards and two of those modules. This gives First Class a huge amount of variety and replayability. After a few plays, you’ll start to see the potential for creating chains of actions that rapidly accrue points, and this is where the game really shines.
This is one of my personal favorites and definitely a standout from late 2016. It looks like a 4X game, and you might expect it to be full of combat and tension, but you’ll be surprised to find that it plays more like a calmer Eurogame. Set in an alternate 1920s Europe, the game sees players trying to develop the strongest faction after the first World War.
To win, you’ll need to harvest and manage resources, research upgrades, recruit new workers, build massive mechs, and make your way to the Factory, where you’ll find powerful new technologies. And while combat does figure into the game, the specter of it is more important than the actual battles themselves, which tend to be few. Combine this gameplay with breathtaking art from Jakub Rozalski, and you have a winner.
5. Great Western Trail [CA]
Journeying from an alternate 1920s Europe to the 1800s American West, we come to Great Western Trail. You’re a rancher, moving your herd from Texas to Kansas City to ship them off. By managing your herd, taking advantage of stops along the trail, hiring staff, and working to develop the railroad, you’ll become the most successful rancher on the plains.
This is a highly strategic game, and will definitely appeal to people who like to do a lot of thinking when they play. You’ll need to manage a number of different resources while optimizing your plays to ensure you’re getting as much out of each turn as possible. Your brain might hurt after you play, but you’ll be glad you did.
Lovecraftian games are a dime a dozen, but Mansions is a perennial favorite. Players take control of investigators trying to solve paranormal mysteries while keeping a hold on their fragile sanity. Collect weapons and tools, solve puzzles, and fight off terrible monsters to save the day. This is a co-operative game in which players must work together to find success.
The first edition of Mansions of Madness required that one person play the keeper, who controlled the monsters and other eldritch horrors of the game. The new edition, however, relegates this role to an app, allowing all players to take part in the mystery-solving fun.
7. Robo Rally [UK]
While Robo Rally first came out in 1994, it’s been released with some new features, and the latest version is absolutely worth picking up. Robo Rally sees players trying to race their robots through courses full of treacherous obstacles and traps. The catch is that everyone chooses their moves in advance, and these are not the intelligent robots you’ve been warned about. If conditions change, your robot will still be carrying out its program, meaning it may be gleefully rolling itself into a pit or through a laser barrage before you can stop it.
The result is a fun, hilarious race that anyone can win. The new version of the game has simplified some of the clunkier rules of the original, making it easier to learn and play. And with a recommended age of 12 and up, everyone in the family can enjoy this chaotic romp.
Which Board Games Are You Playing?
Board games are more popular than ever, and new ones hit the shelves all the time. With so many great options, it can be difficult to figure out what to play next. But these seven games will definitely not let you down. So grab one of them, get a group together, and start playing!
What are your favorite new board games? What have you been playing lately? And what are you looking forward to this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below!