Up until lockdown I’d been out of the scene for 7 years or so. Now I’m addicted once more and looking grow my collection for my birthday at the end of the month. The problem is I want loads, and just can’t decide. I know asking anyone else to help is difficult, as I’m the only one who knows what I like to play, but nevertheless, here I am. First world problems and all that.
I love Euros (especially worker placement and rondels), card games, and especially at the moment stuff I can solo. I’m usually not so keen on Ameri stuff (saying that, I’m tempted to crack open the Arkham Horror boardgame for a solo run).
I guess I want to get the most bang for my buck (budget of about £90-100), but not miss something great that I really ‘ought’ to have in my collection.
At the moment this is my wishlist, and the bold are the ones I’m tempted to pull the trigger on. I guess I’m just open to suggestion or hidden treasures and/or bargains.
- Great Western Trail
- Arkham Horror LCG
- Terraforming Mars
- Champions of Midgard
- Le Havre
For reference I’ll mostly have one other person to play with until lockdown ends, then looking to join or start a local group.
A Feast for Odin has a very good solo version - I’m not even a solo gamer and when I had a week or two of downtime I played it a couple times solo and really enjoyed it. You block alternating worker placement spaces from round to round so you can’t just focus on one thing, you have to diversify your strategy, but of course the lack of opponents means you know what spaces are going to be open and you could plan pretty much your whole game in advance if you wanted to (although there are a couple of dice rolls and card draws that would affect it).
Great as a 2-player game as well, which is the vast majority of the times I’ve played it. It’s mostly multiplayer solitaire level but there are certain hotly contested spaces that make being the start player enticing.
If you like Euros, card games, and stuff you can solo or two player right now - and you don’t want “Ameri-stuff” except the old Arkham Horror sounds good… that really sounds like the Arkham Horror LCG. It’s a great two player card game with the theme and flavor of Arkham. It can go badly no matter how well you play (the one warning) but it also has a lot of stuff that rewards smart play and deck crafting in a way that should appeal to the Euro / card game loving side. It just gets expensive fast if you do end up liking it and want more beyond the core since it is an LCG not a one and done.
I also agree that Feast for Odin is a very good fit for your needs. Excellent worker placement with great flexibility at player counts (good solo, 2, or up to 4 if you get that game group once the pandemic ends).
Great Western Trail is similar though I don’t know about solo for it. Works well at 2 or higher player counts though.
I love Concordia. It’s card action mechanism might appeal to your love of rondels. The maps in the base game (either original or Venus as base) aren’t the best for 2 player but the smaller in either will work or you can pick up one of the map add on packs that include an even smaller board to get a fantastic 2 player experience.
Of the others you name, I either haven’t played them or would suggest the above first based on what you’ve said. Maybe Orleans if you get a good price on it.
I’d love to get Odin, I’ve got Nusfjord by Uwe as well, which uses a similar mechanic for solo. The only downside is it’s around £90 everywhere…
Concordia would probably fit well as the reviews look great and the designer did Hamburgum which I have and love.
I used to think “I don’t need Great Western Trail”, but I like Pfister’s output so much it has gone to near the top of my wishlist.
Terraforming Mars is widely well-regarded but I really don’t care for it. The thing that kills the enjoyment for me is how restricted the card draw is in a huge deck. You may love the game… I just always like to weigh in and remind people that even games that seem universally adored are never “sure hits”. This is the exact same story I have with Viticulture as well… Too much luck-of-the-draw for me.
I bounced off of Orleans as a two-player experience and actually much prefer Altiplano. I’ve picked up the expansions for Orleans to see if that fixes the game for me; otherwise it’ll go on the for-sale-heap.
I adore Concordia.
As you’ll have seen from the favourite game thread Why is your favourite game, your favourite game?
…I love Great Western Trail. There’s no official solo mode, but a guy on BGG has made a load of automata. It’s a long setup and teardown. It’s better at 3 or 4 than 2 but there is so much game for the money.
Terraforming Mars is a massive hit in our house and probably our most played game. Better at 2 than GWT, but still best with 3 (although I prefer GWT with 3&4 players). Loads of variety, lots of strategic decisions. The component quality and the art isn’t great but they’re not high on my ask list when playing a game. Loads of expansions, I’d say Prelude is a must buy.
I enjoy Concordia, again it doesn’t shine at 2 (sense a theme?). Very simple to learn and teach. Not great to look at. Probably more tactical than strategic.
The only other game I’ve played on your list is Viticulture. It’s highly regarded but I bounced of it. I’d play again in better company.
A Feast for Odin is a hit here as well. Again, better at 4 than 2. I think Feast is a Sunday afternoon, cup of tea chill out game rather than an in your face. Also, I am terrible at it.
Not sure about retail as I backed it on Kickstarter but I love Age of Steam. I’ve not played 18xx to compare it. Auctions, bidding, really, really mean. More expansions than countries on earth. Decent solo, ok with 2. Plays all the way to 7.
The other big thing that I’ve never played is the Hansa Teutonica Big Box that is due to be released next week (or it was pre Covid). It’s very highly rated by the 3 game podcasts I listen to.
Apparently the Terraforming Mars app is a very good implementation.
These are all a bit out of my usual game comfort zone but I’ll say that two of them stand out as “not high-complexity Euros that Roger will be very bad at” - Champions of Midgard (dice placement) and Clank (deckbuiding). So if a high-complexity Euro is what you’re looking for, possibly they should be fairly far down the list.
From what I know of Midgard it really needs the Valhalla expansion to make it best. I’ve played Clank a bit on TTS (as I have with a few of them), and I thought it being reasonably light and a deckbuilder might get my other half playing something more, as she really likes Dominion.
I thought vanilla Champions of Midgard was good at 2 without Valhalla. I’ve picked up Valhalla since then and would like to try it; but I don’t think it’s required at 2
This is quite interesting for me to read as I either haven’t liked or have no interest in ever trying all of the games in your list. Please don’t take anything by it, just commenting as it’s striking how when you’re synthesising current favourites of the online board game community you get so removed from my tastes.
Best of luck getting an awesome game for your birthday!
I’m not so sure that’s accurate. Nothing on there (other than Everdell which has a theme I think my other half could get into) is more recent than 2016. Other than that, the rest mostly just extend the things I already like and own. I know it’s not a debate or personal thing or anything like that, but I just wanted to explain that this is me a) buying more that I like, and b) trying to get stuff easily available and in-print.
Just to give some context to that, here’s a few from the list. Concordia - Marc Gerdts, designer of one of my favourites, Hamburgum. Arkham Horror, card game as per my original post, well-received with a great solo experience (again a major plus to me). Le Havre is just one of the greats for Worker Placement that I’ve wanted for a long time. Viticulture is WP with a great solo/automa. Other than that I’ve mostly got well-regarded WP games that are available to buy in the UK now without (in most cases) spending a fortune.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to see the new and shiny, but I much, much, much prefer to wait for the lustre of the Cult Of The New to die down and take games for what they are after.
I love the Terraforming Mars solo mode but mostly play it digitally because for 1 person the setup is a lot. Since my partner is not as enamored with it, though, the cardboard version doesn’t get to see the light of day much. (Note: none of the addons are available digital as of now and there are at least 2 or even 3 that I really want in my game.)
I really like Concordia Venus. It’s a more recent variant that starts out with a different set of maps (the original maps can be bought as a separate expansion to the Venus game) and an additional god (Venus). It also has a team mode for up to 3 teams of 2. We haven’t played team mode yet due to Corona but I’ve enjoyed the flow of play and mechanics quite a bit. Beware though Venus is both sold as an expansion and as a full game so if you see a “really good price” it’s probably just the expansion. The theme is a little thin but the mechanics more than make up for that in my book.
We just finished the Clank! Legacy campaign at the start of lockdown. We enjoyed the campaign quite a bit–played it all with 2 players–and now have a personalized copy of the fantasy variant of the game. I hear good things about the SF variant as well. When I complained about the randomness of the market and the problems that arise from there being only “bad cards” out in the market I was told I should look at deck builders that feature a fixed market like El Dorado, Arctic Scavengers(?) and obviously Dominion. Anyway the interaction between deck and map is quite enjoyable and the closest to that would be El Dorado if you wanted a non-random market. Personally, I am also eyeing Aeon’s End (there’s already a thread about Aeon’s End ) for a coop variant on deck building with a fixed market and a few unique mechanisms.
I’ve recently acquired Viticulture myself mostly because the theme will get some of my non-gamer friends and family to play eventually. It’s a nice enough worker placement of medium complexity. I have yet to try the solo mode. I like the mechanism of aging the grapes and the wine and having them increase in value over time but none of the other mechanisms stand out to me. As someone else mentioned there is luck involved when drawing grapes, visitors or contracts and I’ve played one game where none of my grapes matched my contracts for several rounds and my visitor cards weren’t helping either. Good enough for a casual evening with a thematic bottle of wine
I’d like to throw Spirit Island in here It’s worth half a debate if it is a Euro game but it certainly has some euro elements and luck is quite reduced. It’s coop for up to 4 but it plays very well with one player (playing 2 spirits usually) or 2 (personally I think it’s best with 3, YMMV) and it’s certainly on the more complex end of the scale though with familiarity the game turns into a fun puzzle.
I have only played three of the games you have listed and own a fourth though I have not yet played it (Orleans).
I have only played Everdell once, solo, but I did enjoy it. With only four seasons of play, you have to make the most of your turns, especially as you only have two workers for the first one. I can see it being even tougher with more players, as many of the action spaces can only have one worker on them. I need to play it more, but ot feels like you have to make a lot of careful decisions to get the most out of your city.
Arkham Horror LCG is a great design, very thematic and engaging. It is not, however, a game that can really survive on just the core set. Yes, I think there is replayability there, but the limited number of cards and small selection of scenarios almost necessitate expansion. I feel you will not have a good amount to work with without at least one full cycle, which means you are looking at $100ish for a full experience, imo. Probably the best of the games a 2 player, though.
Concordia is excellent. I really like the card based play, with the ability to grow your personal deck to more efficiently execute your plans. Lots of interesting choices to make. The base Italia map works okay for 2 but better with 3. I would not play the Imperium map with less than 4. There are a lot of map expansions, and now Venus which supports team play and gives a new map. Probably the best of the three games as far as simplicity of the rules and overall mechanics.
I love Arkham Horror LCG dearly, but I see it more as for the gamer who has everything and money to spare (or at the very least, money to spare). There’s so much great stuff out there that I just can’t recommend AH if you have a budget and/or plenty of other games to buy, especially if you’ve been out of the hobby for 7 years.
To me, Champions of Midgard, Everdell and Viticulture are firmly in the ‘nice’ column. Decent and fun, but they fall in that weird bracket where they’re kinda plain for what they are so there are better choices out there. To their credit, they are more attractive to more casual gamers. I own CoM and enjoy it, but it’s not among my fave - and there are a LOT of decks to shuffle and prepare in set up so it’s good to have friends that will do their bit. Viticulture is a nice little euro but not up there with my top 10. I wouldn’t sell them, but if I could talk to my past self I probably would have told myself not to buy it. I guess it’s firm 7.5/10 territory.
Now for the positives. Can carry on heaping praise on Great Western Trail. For the modern “mix lots of different mechanisms and slap a theme on top” euros, it’s one of the best. I’m always a bit wary with casual players since this seems like the kind of game people without an interest in mechanisms would find a little dry. But no, it’s a hit every time. I think the restriction in choices each turn and the escalation in options as the game develops helps a lot. And in a strange way it has a lot in common with Monopoly - keep going round the board, collect your money each lap, build a load of buildings and charge your opponents to pass through.
For rondel euros, I really enjoy Teotihuacan - the game is all a rondel of picking up and dropping off resources (a gross reduction, but that’s the overall gist of the game). It’s certainly a bit of a marmite game with quite a few people here either side of the fence, but I think it’s great. It’s a decent mix of thinky but never too much options at once. Worth looking into if you wanted something a bit meatier than Concordia. Also, for a decent sized euro it’s often quite cheap.
If you wait around, Feast for Odin sometimes drops into the £55-60 range. I maybe wouldn’t buy it at RRP, but at that sort of price it’s worthwhile for a modern, but still feels very traditional, euro. Of the Uwe Agricola trilogy, it’s my favourite - it provides lots of completely different styles of things to collect which makes the VP point salad engine building feel a bit more interesting.
Unfortunately, I think there’s usually a pretty wide gap between “plays well with 1-2” and “plays well with 3-4” (and by 6 you’ll struggle to even find games that are good at that count). Arkham Horror LCG is fantastic with one or two characters, doesn’t feel designed for more even if you have the card pool to make it practical (i.e., multiple core sets), having tried it with three. I wouldn’t recommend anything else on your list at two, probably? And so you could probably wait on those until you’re regularly having people over again. I do enjoy Terraforming Mars and Viticulture, though. I have everything for Everdell but wasn’t wowed with my one playthrough. The art’s great, there’s some interesting stuff going on, but the tree actively gets in the way and it felt too easy to be actively locked out of certain types of cards. In particular, it felt like it’s really important to get the type that passively gives you bonuses as you do various things, and I spent nearly the entire game just never having that option - wasn’t in my hand, and other people were always able to buy the general market ones before me due to turn order and resources. But that’s one playthrough.
For two player, you might consider checking out Omen and John Clowdus’s other Small Box Games products. (Omen itself he recently licensed to some other company whose name I forget, although that partnership seems to have ended.). I don’t know how widely available they are.
If it helps, there is a video of Concordia Venus being played by Quinns, Ava and Matt (sorry, I cannot remember the other girl name) on the SUSD videos, under Let’s play, it should not be far from the top. It can give you an idea.
I had Concordia on my list in the old forum for a similar Wishlist, and in the end I didn’t buy for the price and the “no soloing”, but it seems like it will be an acquisition soon (lockdown being a factor)
+1 for this. Arkham Horror LCG is great, but good god - expensive! And you wouldn’t want to stop with just the core box. The scenarios in there are fine, but only fine. It doesn’t really shine till you get one of the campaign cycles. And then you’ll want another… and another… and suddenly I am genuinely scared to work it out levels of money are gone!
However, it is an experience like no other I’ve ever had. It is as close to playing the Arkham Horror RPG (Call of Cthulhu) as you can get without actually playing the RPG.
These are great real-people experience, thank you