I’ve been in the board gaming hobby for about 6 years now and during that time I’ve had many games come and go from my collection. I’d say I’m pretty picky with what I choose to keep overall. I often look forward to the next math trade, giving me a chance to clear out my shelves of any games I feel have run their course. I may trade or sell a game for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes I just outgrow a game or perhaps I don’t enjoy it as much as I thought I might. I think compared to some, I have a rather high turnover of games. However, there are some games that will likely never ever leave my collection.
Most folks I know, when asked, will say that Pandemic was the first cooperative game they were introduced to or remember playing. For me that game is Forbidden Desert (coincidentally designed by Pandemic’s Matthew Leacock). I’ll never forget my first time playing it. I had just gotten off work and my coworker asked if I wanted to play a game. I eagerly said yes and told her to pick out whatever she felt like playing. I trusted her choice as we had a pretty similar taste in board games and often played together. She picked out the game and began setting it up, explaining that we would be working together to find the missing pieces to an ancient flying machine buried in the desert that we were stranded in. “Woah, hang on.” I said, “We’re working.. Together?” she smirked and nodded and my world was changed forever! (Thanks Kat!)
As soon as we finished playing Forbidden Desert I went and bought the game. I had such a fun time playing it and I was blown away by the fact that there were cooperative games out there. In the following weeks I sought out more and more cooperative games. They quickly became my preference and still are to this day. You can imagine my excitement when I found out Forbidden Desert was the sequel to Forbidden Island! Fast forward a couple years and I have the 3rd game in the series as well, Forbidden Sky. Check out my article on the Forbidden Series here.
Forbidden Desert is a great game for players new or seasoned. It’s game mechanics, turn sequence and player options are very similar to that of Pandemic, but also has the novelty of finding physical pieces to the machine and slowly putting it together. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
Deep Sea Adventure
When it comes to travel, I like to bring board games everywhere that I can. I basically never leave the house without a game, you never know when the opportunity might arise.. Waiting for food at a restaurant? Play a board game! Your flight was delayed an hour? Play a board game! You’re camping and it’s started raining? Play a board game! The list goes on and on. Deep Sea Adventure (DSA), published by Oink Games, is my favourite game to pop in my pocket or backpack and not just because it’s travel sized. Being the press-your-luck game that it is; it’s incredibly addictive.
When it comes to board games, I’m definitely a gambler. My friends tend to use this to their advantage, they know I’ll continue pressing my luck until I’m satisfied or bust. DSA is no exception. It typically plays in about 30 minutes, but with the right group it can take as little as 15, leaving you time to play again! Not only is it quick to set up and play, but it’s player count is 2-6 making it great for a multitude of occasions. My last note about DSA is how well it works as a game for folks who are non-verbal. Pre-pandemic I went to a Winter Gaming Retreat where I met some folks who were rather shy. They wanted to play games but didn’t so much enjoy needing to speak or interact with other players. We played DSA a few times that weekend and after I initially explained how to play, most of our time spent playing was silent except for the sounds of rolling dice and the occasional sigh of disappointment.
I’ve played a few other games published by Oink Games and they’ve all been a ton of fun and are also perfect for travelling, but Deep Sea Adventure is definitely my favourite of them all.
My Little Scythe
I like to play board games more often than my partner does and my friends aren’t always available, especially with covid complicating things. So it’s always an added bonus, when a game that I purchase comes with a solo mode! It’s not necessarily something I look for when I’m purchasing games, but it definitely makes the game more enticing. My Little Scythe (MLS) is a fantastic family game created by Hoby Chou and his daughter Vienna. If the game sounds familiar, you may be thinking of Scythe, the 4X game that MLS is inspired from. While MLS isn’t a 4X game like its inspiration, it does share a few of the same mechanisms and categories. It’s the perfect compromise for any board game lover that has kids.
MLS is one of my favourite games, it’s one that I often introduce to friends and family who are somewhat new to the boardgaming hobby. I’ve never introduced it to someone who didn’t fall in love with the game. It’s hard not to when the game is chock-full of adorable game pieces. From the fruits and gems you collect and deliver, to the pie wheel you adjust during a pie fight, to the miniatures each player controls, MLS will surely bring out the child in everyone who plays. I’ve already mentioned how I love the fact that MLS has a solo mode, but I also enjoy that I can paint the minis it comes with! I’ve spent hours painting the different animals each player can choose, another reason it will never leave my collection!
Go Nuts for Donuts!
Generally speaking, I’m not the biggest fan of party games. I’ll play them on certain occasions and for this reason I do have a few in my collection. Although, there is one party game I am ALWAYS down to play; Go Nuts for Donuts! (GNFD). This Gamewright game is somewhat styled after SushiGo! Like SushiGo!, it consists of only cards that feature adorable animated foods. How cute! I love donuts, they’re probably my favourite baked good and for anyone who isn’t the biggest fan of seafood, GNFD is the perfect game for you! I honestly can’t say enough good things about GNFD, it’s just a ton of fun. Although it’s bound to give you a craving or two, so make sure you have some donuts nearby.
It’s no coincidence that I’ve left Innovation for last. It’s my all time favourite game. It’s the game that I’ve logged the most plays with and the game that I’m the most dumbfounded by. But to tell you the truth, I didn’t always love it. It took a fair amount of convincing for me to first play the game at all. It honestly looked and sounded a little boring. It was one of my best friends who introduced Innovation to me, Sam Fraser, designer of Rogues to Riches. He and I often gamed together and it had taken several times of him asking to play before I caved. If he asked me now, he’d be twisting my rubber arm!
What I most appreciate about Innovation is how unbelievably quick the game can change. One second you’re in last, thinking there’s no way you’ll beat your opponent(s), but with a single card you can steal everyone else’s points and come out on top! In a way, Innovation is somewhat unpredictable. Especially if you’re adding the numerous expansions that it has to offer. The replayability on this game is incredibly high, if not for the expansions, then for how drastically different each game can be based on when certain cards make their appearance. I’ve yet to master one specific strategy with Innovation, but that just makes me want to play it even more.
As the years go by I hope I find more and more games that I never want to part with. Picking just 5 was a little more difficult than I expected, so here are some honourable mentions: Food Fighters, Ghost Stories, Root and Kodama. I love talking about games that I love, but I also love hearing others talk about their favourites! Do we share any of the same favourites? Tell me what yours are! Give me an excuse to buy more games!