10. Hansa Teutonica
Argentum Verlag, 2009
Action point allowance, route building, area majority
A friend of mine introduced me to Hansa Teutonica during a game marathon day last year. I didn’t really know what to expect – I saw the drab cover art… the very German name… the very Euro looking game board, and a bunch of cubes and disks… Don’t let the look of this game scare you away because Hansa Teutonica is one of the cleanest designs I have ever played! Players are using their workers (cubes) to create routes in between cities. On a turn, a player may place workers, move workers, recall workers front the supply, or claim a route. When a route is complete, they can claim a position in one of the connecting cities OR increase their abilities to do the above actions. For example, I can increase the number of actions I have per turn. I can also increase how many workers I can recall from the supply.
The interesting mechanic in this game is bumping opponents workers from the road. You may always bump an opponent’s worker, but you must pay for it by discarding other workers you have access to back to the supply. This makes for a tense area influence game, trying to gain control of different routes. At the end of the game, players get points for area control in the different cities as well as for their longest of consecutive cities they have worker. Hansa Teutonica just got a reprint! If you like simple Euro games with deep strategy, pick this one up!
9. Small World
Days of Wonder, 2009
Small World is an in your face area control game where players score victory points for how many areas they control at the end of their turn. Players will have to decide on the best path to victory, wiping out other fantasy races vying for control over the same territories. The crux of this game is in choosing your fantasy race and special power! Before a player conquests, they are able to choose from a variety of races/powers which they will use to conquer territories. After a player decides their fantasy race is past their prime, they can send them in decline and pick a new combination the following turn! I like this game because of the many different combinations and the many awesome powers. The deterministic combat (for the most part) makes a game based around direct conflict very simple to resolve the combat. The ease of play, variety of races/powers, and the fun tension of area control makes this game my #9!
Cryptozoic Entertainment, 2015
I somehow managed to snag a copy from an online vendor when this first hit the United States before EVERY store was out of stock. I decided I needed another game to fit the “party / social deduction” place in my collection other than The Resistance. I brought it to one on my Thursday meetups and we played. The first round was… awkward to say the least. The gameplay has a bit of a learning curve, a different way of thinking. The group is at a location and all players have the same location card, but one person is the spy… duh duh duh!!! They have a card simply labeled spy. The spy is trying to figure out where they are and everyone else is trying to identify the spy. This is achieved by asking questions one by one of another person, trying to glean information without being too obvious.
The second time we played was MUCH better 🙂 hence why it rocketed up my top 25 to #8. This game manages to create the most tense atmosphere filled with anxiety! I do not know how it does it even more than The Resistance or other hidden role games I have played. An excellent pick up with a lot of replayability. The game can play 3-8 although I would recommend 5 at minimum.This is definitely a unique game which requires a particular group of people, but once folks are into it, Spyfall is excellent!
On a recommendation by an online reviewer, I picked this up on international tabletop day last year. The reviewer explicitly said not to judge the game by the box cover and the artwork. I went back and forth and back and forth and finally purchased it for half off. I was relatively new to the hobby at this point so the designer’s names did not ring a bell – although nowadays, this would be a no brainer. Linko! is a rummy-ish stele game where players lay down cards in front of them in sets (single, pair, three of a kind, etc.). The round ends when one player has no more cards in their hand and points are awarded: +1 for each card in front of you, -1 for each card still in your hand.
This game is unique because of the snatching mechanic. When a player lays down a set, they must look around the table to see if they snatch other players cards. To snatch a card a player plays a set with an equal amount of cards of higher value (For example: Bob plays three 2’s, Mary plays two 5’s, and I then play three 7’s – I would snatch Bob’s 2’s but not Mary’s 5’s) The player snatching has a decision: either to take the cards in hand or not. If the snatching player does not take the cards, the snatchee must pick them back up or discard them, drawing from the middle draw deck. On future turns, players will play on top of their previous sets, effectively protecting them from getting snatched.
This simple card game has SO much strategy and tactics. Sometimes a player may want to get snatched in order to draw from the middle. Sometimes players do not want to snatch to give their opponents access to the middle draw deck. After three rounds, the points are totaled up! Worth the cheap price point!
6. Robinson Crusoe
Portal Games, 2012
Cooperative, worker placement
Now if you thought Ghost Stories was difficult, prepare yourself for the game that will keep beating you down until you lose in despair and destruction… And yes this game is really fun 🙂 Robinson Crusoe is a cooperative game where players are on a (deserted) island. In each play session, players will pick a different scenario with different objectives including surviving on the island, rescuing a girl, or escaping from a volcano which will destroy the island! The gameplay is a cooperative worker placement mechanism where players can address issues facing the camp, hunt animals, gather resources, explore the island, build tools or shelter, clean up camp, or rest. Players can choose to complete their tasks in complete safety by placing two workers in one space. If the group plays it safe, most likely the objective will not be met by the last round.
I love this game because it immerses the players in the theme while keeping strategic mechanisms and creating an aura of tension. Yes, I rarely win when I play Robinson Crusoe; however, he immersive atmosphere and the replayability of the many scenario keeps me engaged.