These games are hitting the table all across the world and there’s a reason why. Not only are they fun, but they are incredibly thematic.
This immersive, cooperative game tops BGG’s list of all games for a reason. It takes players on an epic journey of character discovery, development, and retirement all while presenting challenging and memorable scenarios for all. The fantasy theme and jovial stories are plentiful in this game. Also, it’s the perfect team game. It gives every player autonomy to create their own strategy, planning their turn according to their character’s strengths while responding to the actions of their fellow players. The monsters are unique and challenging and the treasure chests are ready to be looted, so grab your friends and delve into Gloomhaven. If you don’t want to invest $100, consider buying Jaws of the Lion: it is half the price and a quarter the size. It offers 25 detailed and engaging scenarios and includes the same great menacing locations and thrilling adventures and gameplay of the original.
Much like Gloomhaven, Terraforming Mars is a darling in the gaming community because of its deep and engaging content and gameplay. It also ranks fourth on BGG’s list of all games for a reason: you actually get to do what the title says. Corporations have sent players out to make Mars habitable, but more importantly, to make a lot of money through mining, planting, and building all sorts of cool things. Mars will be filled with oceans, forests, craters, and cities by the end of the game (if you’re doing it right). On your turn, you can play a variety of cards, raise the temperature, raise the oxygen, activate action cards, and earn achievements. I think that this game is at its best with all the expansions, which makes the game way more dynamic and involved. Terraforming Mars continues to be a wonderful, immersive game that gets me all fired up to search for life on Mars!
With Pandemic Season 0 coming out soon, I can’t imagine this game losing any status with board gamers everywhere. Pandemic: Season 1 is ranked 2nd of all games on BGG and Season 2 also wasn’t too shabby. The original game still stands as a wonderful cooperative challenge to save the world from a pandemic on the brink of wiping out humanity. It requires clever planning and quick response to the unlucky explosions of viruses springing up across the world. The actual system of Pandemic is balanced and challenging; when players draw epidemic cards, they have to work overtime to prevent a devastating result. I think the Legacy games are a great idea if you appreciate Pandemic, as it adds more story and content to a game that already feels like what we’re living through right now in 2020 with COVID-19. Stay healthy!
I’ve never felt like I am living through a real-time alien invasion like I do when I play Project Elite. Each turn is timed—literally—and you roll dice that activate weapons and items, charge detonators, and move the aliens when it’s not their turn. I promise you that my excitement for this game is not overblown. Each game I’ve played, I could feel the alien invasion threatening to overwhelm me and my team as I tried to respond to their attack. I had a great time reacting to my friends’ strategies and attempting to set up a strong turn for the next round. I love the last round when we’re all maniacally rolling our dice for the move symbol, trying to race back to home base! It’s wonderfully themed and I can’t wait to tackle more boards, uncover different scenarios, and try out other characters.
I’d say that Western Legends is so thematic that sometimes it might get in the way of you winning the game. However, if you want to get lost in the wild west, I couldn’t suggest a stronger-themed game than Western Legends. The last time I played, I added the expansions Ante Up and Blood Money, which includes even more old west action and not enough time to do it. Here’s just a taste of all the super fun, exciting things you can do on your turn that put you right into the western locale: fight the sheriff (or the outlaws, depending on what team you’re on), rob the train, rustle cattle, mine for gold, play poker at the saloon, initiate duels, and visit the trading post to invest in better horses and weapons. It’s a wild and lawless game that deserves multiple plays to appreciate. Every time you play, you can play a different character from the wild west, who has a unique set of starting cards, location, goals, and abilities. This game is easily replayable without it ever becoming boring.