While sometimes it may seem that board games are falling to the wayside in terms of popularity, being overshadowed by video games and other electronic entertainment, video games are in fact still highly popular. And believe it or not, companies and people are producing new board games every day, so that when you feel like playing a board game, you don’t always have to resort to Monopoly or Candy Land. Here is a list of the top ten best new board games for 2012.
Angry Birds: Knock on Wood game
Angry Birds has become one of the most popular iPhone games of all time, and a larger version of it is available for iPad as well. So in a lot of ways, it makes sense that someone would turn the same concept into an actual board game, so that you don’t have to burn out your retinas while enjoying the concept. Angry Birds: Knock on Wood is based on the same concept as the original iPhone app, pigs have stolen the birds’ eggs, making them angry. Anywhere between two and four players can play at a time, and play starts with players drawing mission cards, ranked in difficulty on four different levels.
The mission card tells the player how to set up the wood pieces in a structure in which the pigs are hiding from the birds. The players then use a slingshot to slingshot the angry birds into the wooden structure (which is actually made of plastic in this game) and knock down the pigs. Depending upon a player’s accuracy in slingshotting the birds, he or she gets a certain number of points. The first player to reach 1000 points wins.
Valdora is a game of strategy for between three and five players, designed for ages 10 and older. The object of the game is to strategically collect more gold, silver, and gems than your opponents, in a land far away that is unsettled. Explorers are sent there by patrons, and so explorers eventually bring back part of their findings as a sort of commission.
Playing pieces are moved about a board with mines set up in between cities. Players can move their playing pieces on their turns, and refill a coin supply, which is helpful in getting commission as well as paying off other players.
Gears of War: the Board Game
Gears of War was a wildly popular video game, which has now been adapted into board game form. Gears of War: the Board Game is designed for up to four players, and the players work together in order to destroy a locust horde by completing various missions. There are extremely realistic playing pieces in this game, each of which begins with a different weapon. Each player gets dealt a certain number of Order cards, and then players take turns playing these Order cards which have various directions on them. After playing an Order card, a player may choose to attack the locusts.
At the end of a player’s turn, he draws an A.I. card, which describes some sort of locust attack or else a multiplication of locusts. Players attack the locusts with dice, but the game is in a lot of ways geared so that the locusts have a better chance of winning (for instance, the locusts attack with more dice than the soldiers).
Small World Underground
As few as two and as many as five players can compete in Small World Underground, a game in which players struggle to control more land in a world that is too small for everyone to share. You get a certain number of tokens at the beginning of your turn, and then you can place these tokens either on an empty parcel of land, or else place at least one more token than is already there on an existing plot of land, in order to effectively conquer that area.
The tokens each belong to a different race of “people”, and there is a lot of strategy involved in conquering other peoples and defending yourself. The characters in this game are kind of strange, but certainly creatively thought out (there are allusions to movies like Lord of the Rings and Tombraider in these characters).
This is probably one of the more uniquely creative games that has come out in the past few years or so, as the purpose of the game is to break any tie that may have ended in another game. So if you get tired of playing board games in which you can tie with other players with no way to absolve the tie, TieBreaker would be a great investment for you to make. TieBreaker is a very simple game. A meeple (wordplay on people – a meeple is a wooden yellow character) wearing a tie is set on the table. Players then draw the top card of the deck, which has instructions on something skillful to do, i.e. “put anything entirely in your mouth”, “say the last names of all the tied players”, “spell your last name backwards”, etcetera. The first person to complete the task and then grab the meeple wins the game.
Age of Steam: Bay Area
Age of Steam: Bay Area is actually an expansion pack for the original Age of Steam board game. In Age of Steam: Bay Area, the railroads that are being expanded across the North American continent come to the Bay Area in northern California. In this strategic board game, players compete to build the most railroads. However, players must be wary of being able to pay creditors, getting the most lucrative shipments possible, designing the best and most popular routes, and matching the tracks with the locomotives, so that they can have the best railroads possible. In Age of Steam: Bay Area, players must get creative in building railroads about the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as transporting plenty of goods to the ports there.
Jump Gate is a space game in which players explore other planets, claiming them and collecting resources, bringing them fame. Between two and six players can play this game, as each player is a spaceship captain competing to earn the most points. Points are earned by exploring and claiming planets, as well as collecting resources.
The game is arranged with a jump gate board surrounded by eight planet boards as well as a black hole board. Players draw cards in order to be able to move their playing pieces and leave markers on various boards in the game, earning themselves more points, which are counted at the end of the game. Just be wary of the black hole board, because if you happen to leave markers on that board, you lose points at the end of the game.
Burger Joint is a two player game in which players are restaurant owners. One of the restaurant owners owns a burger restaurant, while the other owns a pizza parlor. Each restaurant owner must compete to be more popular by utilizing similar menu items but sharing resources at the same time.
The restaurant owners build their own chains, and ultimately, the chain that is the most popular (popularity is decided by points earned at the end of the game) at the end of the game wins!
Jaipur is another economic, two player game. Jaipur is the capital of Rajhastan and a powerful city. Players represent traders who compete to become better merchants by drawing and discarding cards strategically. If you opt to sell your cards, you can get chips in return.
However, these chips depreciate in value over the course of the game. Additionally, there are camels involved in this game, which are integral to carrying goods, but the camels cannot be sold for money, adding another strategic element to Jaipur. This game should take about thirty minutes to play.
Arimaa is a strategy game for two players, and the design of this game is very similar to chess or checkers, with an eight by eight square board. The object of the game is to get a rabbit playing piece to the other side of the board, or else to prevent your opponent from doing so. However, there are four trap spaces on the board, and if one of the playing pieces (all of which are animals of various sizes) gets caught on a trap space without a teammate anchoring him, he must be removed from the board.
Playing pieces have more power according to the size of the animal, of which there are eight rabbits, two cats, two dogs, two horses, one camel, and one elephant. Strategy lies in arranging your pieces however you want at the beginning of the game, so that you can effectively move a rabbit to the other side, or else block the other player from accomplishing this goal. Each turn, a player gets four moves. He or she can either choose to move a single piece four spaces, or else he can split the spaces between playing pieces. All of the playing pieces can move in any direction, except that the rabbits can never move backwards. A player may use two moves to push or pull an opponent’s playing piece using one of the larger animals, which is useful for putting your opponent’s playing piece on a trap space.