There’s no doubt that a great number of board game designers have quite a list of games to their name, and many who have that one they’re really well known for – but that might not have been their first. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite games that are firsts from designers! I’m curious if there are others out there that folks have differently to mine, make sure to comment with yours!
Dominion (2008) – Donald X. Vaccarino
How could this not be one of my choices? Dominion, the grandpappy of all deckbuilding games. Early on in my gaming years this was one that friends owned and would hit the table often on game nights. It is still kicking 12 years later, with an expansion upcoming this year! It seems to always be a good chunk of time between plays of this for me, but it never fails to satisfy.
Wingspan (2019) – Elizabeth Hargrave
I don’t think it’s a secret that I love this game, and will keep that fire stoked for years to come. The combination of simple, satisfying and variable gameplay is what cinches it for me, not to mention just how great it looks on the table! Bring on more birds. Especially the murderbirds. Before I ramble off into the wilderness with this one, best send you over to my review for more info.
Carcassonne (2000) – Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
To this day, I’ll jump at the chance to play a game of Carcassonne – regular flavour or with one of the expansions. This is one of those games that’s perfect to me and will remain a classic on my shelf. I’ve also really enjoyed the newer versions that have come out since this first dropped 20 (!) years ago – especially Carcassonne: South Seas. If you’re interested in a light strategy game that will likely suit most, I can’t recommend it enough. And let’s face it – the ubiquitous meeple would likely not have sprung up quite so much without Carcassonne leading the way.
Caylus (2005) – William Attia
While not the first worker-placement game, Caylus is certainly considered the most influential from the early years of its genre. It is especially influential when looking at Lords of Waterdeep – this was the first of these two titles I’d played, and was encouraged to try Caylus for something meatier and more devilish. I enjoy the level of player interaction in Caylus, and the options it provides for an exciting game experience. And the solid action selection and manipulation of length of the game doesn’t hurt here, either. If you are a fan of worker placement and haven’t tried Caylus, I suggest you do! I’ve not tried the follow-up to this but if it’s anything like its predecessor, it’ll be a good time.
Glen More (2010) – Matthias Cramer
For a good long while, Glen More was a grail game for many folks. And a lot hadn’t heard of it! It’s one of the first games I played that had this unique way of taking your turn – you will move around a rondel to select a tile, going as far (or not) as you like. The further you go, the longer you’ll wait to take your next turn, when you’re furthest back on the rondel. Combined with enjoyable tile-laying to optimize your points, it is definitely a winner and a solid start to Cramer’s career. I’ve yet to try the updated/expanded sequel (Glen More 2: Chronicles) but I’m excited to see where it takes this original game.
Archaeology (2007) – Phil Walker-Harding
My study background (anthropology and archaeology with museum studies tied in a bow around them) makes me gravitate toward games with this theme. This card game is a lovely thematic abstraction concept of archaeology, and it’s a delight. To be fair — I have only tried the updated version, released 2016, but overall the approach is the same. You’re out in the field, collecting sets of artefacts to sell to museums, and hoping to avoid burglars and sand storms to not lose those precious pieces. This one’s a quick learn and a swift play, and definitely worth a try if you like smart card games.
Prolix (2010) – Gil Hova
Okay, fine. This is sort of another cheat. I have actually played Prolix but have played far more of its reimplementation released in 2017 as Wordsy. But my opinion remains the same – this is a clever word game that keeps you on your toes and trying your hardest to wordsmith better and more quickly than your opponents, for hopefully more points. Trying to mash together available letters with whatever you come up with to make it into words is a really cool challenge, and it makes this one of my favourite word games for this reason. I’m excited this is now out in app form on Android, but that bot is kicking my ass to the curb with its word wizardry!
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